In his book on church history, Williams explores how persecution varied under the different emperors of Rome. It turns out the ones who most had their own lives under control were the nastiest to the people of God. The ones who were bigger sinners were more friendly.
The “good” Emperors had come to regard Christianity as evil, as all tolerant and noble non-Christian minds tend to do. Partly, no doubt, the best Emperors had the highest idea of their duty to the safety of the State. But also they had the highest sense of moral balance and the least senseof the necessity of Redemption. The worse Emporors – Commodus, Heliogabalus – had a more superstitious impulse which was certainly more in accord with the asserted dogmas of the Gospel. Gods, and the nature of the Gods, are likely to be better understood by sinful than by stoical minds.
-Charles Williams, The Descent of the Dove, p.28