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PROLOGUE. Design of the History.
When artists paint on panels and on walls, the events of ancient history, they alike delight the eye, and keep bright for many a year the memory of the past. Historians substitute books for panels, bright description for pigments, and thus render the memory of past events both stronger and more permanent, for the painter's art is ruined by time. For this reason I too shall attempt to record in writing events in ecclesiastical history hitherto omitted deeming it indeed not right to look on without an effort while oblivion robs' noble deeds and useful stories of their due fame. For this cause too I have been frequently urged by friends to undertake this work. But when I compare my own powers with the magnitude of the undertaking, I shrink from attempting it. Trusting, however, in the bounty of the Giver of all good, I enter upon a task beyond my own strength.
Eusebius of Palestine has written a history of the Church from the time of the holy Apostles to the reign of Constantine, the prince beloved of God. I shall begin my history from the period at which his terminates.
CHAPTER I. Origin of the Arian Heresy.
After the overthrow of the wicked and impious tyrants, Maxentius, Maximinus, and Licinius, the surge which those destroyers, like hurricanes, had roused was hushed to sleep; the whirlwinds were checked, and the Church henceforward began to enjoy a settled calm. This was established for her by Constantine, a prince deserving of all praise, whose calling, like that of the divine Apostle, was not of men, nor by man, but from heaven. He enacted laws prohibiting sacrifices to idols, and commanding churches to be erected. He appointed Christians to be governors of the provinces, ordering honour to be shown to the priests, and threatening with death those who dared to insult them. By some-the churches which had been destroyed were rebuilt; others erected new ones still more spacious and magnificent. Hence, for us, all was joy and gladness, while our enemies were overwhelmed with gloom and despair. The temples of the idols were closed; but frequent assemblies were held, and festivals celebrated, in the churches, But the devil, full of all envy and wickedness, the destroyer of mankind, unable to bear the sight of the Church sailing on with favourable winds, stirred up plans of evil counsel, eager to sink the vessel steered by the Creator and Lord of the Universe. When he began to perceive that the error of the Greeks had been made manifest, that the various tricks of the demons had been detected, and that the greater number of men worshipped the Creator, instead of adoring, as heretofore, the creature, he did not dare to declare open war against our God and Saviour; but having found some who, though dignified with the name of Christians, were yet slaves to ambition and vainglory, he made them fit instruments for the execution of his designs, and by their means drew others back into their old error, not indeed by the former method of setting up the worship of the creature, but by bringing it about that the Creator and Maker of all should be reduced to a level with the creature. I shall now proceed to relate where and by what means he sowed these tares.
Alexandria is an immense and populous city, charged with the leadership not only of Egypt, but also of the adjacent countries, the Thebaid and Libya. After Peter, the victorious champion of the faith, had, during the sway of the aforesaid impious tyrants, obtained the crown of martyrdom, the Church in Alexandria was ruled for a short time by Achillas. He was succeeded by Alexander, who proved himself a noble defender of the doctrines of the gospel. At that time, Arius, who had been enrolled in the list of the presbytery, and entrusted with the exposition of the Holy Scriptures, fell a prey to the assaults of jealousy, when he saw that the helm of the high priesthood was committed to Alexander. Stung by this passion, he sought opportunities for dispute and contention; and, although he perceived that Alexander's irreproachable conduct forbade his bringing any charges against him, envy would not allow him to rest. In him the enemy of the truth found an instrument whereby to stir and agitate the angry waters of the Church, and persuaded him to oppose the apostolical doctrine of Alexander. While the Patriarch, in obedience to the Holy Scriptures, taught that the Son is of equal dignity with the Father, and of the same substance with God who begat Him, Arius, in direct opposition to the truth, affirmed that the Son of God is merely a creature or created being, adding the famous dictum, "There once was a time when He was not;" with other opinions which may be learned from his own writings. He taught these false doctrines perseveringly, not only in the church, but also in general meetings and assemblies; and he even went from house to house, endeavouring to make men the slaves of his error. Alexander, who was strongly attached to the doctrines of the Apostles, at first tried by exhortations and counsels to convince him of his error; but when he saw him playing the madman and making public declaration of his impiety, he deposed him from the order of the presbytery, for be heard the law of God loudly declaring, "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee."
CHAPTER II. List of the principal Bishops.
Or the church of Rome at this period Silvester held the reins. His predecessor in the see was Miltiades, the successor of that Marcellinus who had so nobly distinguished himself during the persecution.
In Antioch, after the death of Tyrannus, when peace began to be restored to the churches, Vitalis received the chief authority, and restored the church in the" Palaea " which had been destroyed by the tyrants. He was succeeded by Philogonius, who completed all that was wanting in the work of restoration: he had, during the time of Licinius, signalised himself by his zeal for religion.
After the administration of Hermon, the government of the church in Jerusalem was committed to Macarius, a man whose character was equal to his name, and whose mind was adorned by every kind of virtue.
At this same period also, Alexander, illustrious for his apostolical gifts, governed the church of Constantinople.
It was at this time that Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, perceiving that Arius, enslaved by the lust of power, was assembling those who had been taken captive by his blasphemous doctrines, and was holding private meetings, communicated an account of his heresy by letter to the rulers of the principal churches. That the authenticity of my history may not be suspected, I shall now insert in my narrative the letter which he wrote to his namesake, containing, as it does, a clear account of all the facts I have mentioned. I shall also subjoin the letter of Arius, together with the other letters which are necessary to the completeness of this narrative, that they may at once testify to the truth of my work, and make the course of events more clear.
The following letter was written by Alexander of Alexandria, to the bishop of the same name as himself.
CHAPTER III. The Epistle of Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria to Alexander, Bishop of Constantinople. "To his most revered and likeminded brother Alexander, Alexander sendeth greeting in the Lord.
"Impelled by avarice and ambition, evil-minded persons have ever plotted against the wellbeing of the most important dioceses. Under various pretexts, they attack the religion of the Church; and, being maddened by the devil, who works in them, they start aside from all piety according to their own pleasure, and trample under foot the fear of the judgment of God. Suffering as I do from them myself, I deem it necessary to inform your piety, that you may be on your guard against them, lest they or any of their party should presume to enter your diocese (for these cheats are skilful in deception), or should circulate false and specious letters, calculated to delude one who has devoted himself to the simple and undefiled faith.
"Arius and Achillas have lately formed a conspiracy, and, emulating the ambition of Colluthus, have gone far beyond him He indeed sought to find a pretext for his own pernicious line of action in the charges he brought against them. But they, beholding his making a trade of Christ for lucre, refused to remain any longer in subjection to the Church; but built for themselves caves, like robbers, and now constantly assemble in them, and day and night ply slanders there against Christ and against us. They revile every godly apostolical doctrine, and in Jewish fashion have organized a gang to fight against Christ, denying His divinity, and declaring Him to be on a level with other men. They pick out every passage which refers to the dispensation of salvation, and to His humiliation for our sake; they endeavour to collect from them their own impious assertion, while they evade all those which declare His eternal divinity, and the unceasing glory which He possesses with the Father. They maintain the ungodly doctrine entertained by the Greeks and the Jews concerning Jesus Christ; and thus, by every means in their power, hunt for their applause. Everything which outsiders ridicule in us they officiously practise. They daily excite persecutions and seditions against us. On the one hand they bring accusations against us before the courts, suborning as witnesses certain unprincipled women whom they have seduced into error. On the other they dishonour Christianity by permitting their young women to ramble about the streets. Nay, they have had the audacity to rend the seamless garment of Christ, which the soldiers dared not divide.
"When these actions, in keeping with their course of life, and the impious enterprise which had been long concealed, became tardily known to us, we unanimously ejected them from the Church which worships the divinity of Christ. They then ran hither and thither to form cabals against us, even addressing themselves to our fellow-ministers who were of one mind with us, under the pre-tence of seeking peace and unity with them, but in truth endeavouring by means of fair words, to sweep some among them away into their own disease. They ask them to write a wordy letter, and then read the contents to those whom they have deceived, in order that they may not retract, but be confirmed in their impiety, by finding that bishops agree with and support their views. They make no acknowledgment of the evil doctrines and practices for which they have been expelled by us, but they either impart them without comment, or carry on the deception by fallacies and forgeries. Thus concealing their destructive doctrine by persuasive and meanly truckling language, they catch the unwary, and lose no opportunity of calumniating our religion. Hence it arises that several have been led to sign their letter, and to receive them into communion, a proceeding on the part of our fellow-ministers which I consider highly reprehensible; for they thus not only disobey the apostolical rule, but even help to inflame their diabolical action against Christ. It is on this account, beloved brethren, that without delay I have stirred myself up to inform you of the unbelief of certain persons who say that "There was a time when the Son of God was not;" and "He who previously had no existence subsequently came into existence; and when at some time He came into existence He became such as every other man is." God, they say, created all things out of that which was non-existent, and they include in the number of creatures, both rational and irrational, even the Son of God. Consistently with this doctrine they, as a necessary consequence, affirm that He is by nature liable to change, and capable both of virtue and of vice, and thus, by their hypothesis of his having been created out of that which was non-existent, they overthrow the testimony of the Divine Scriptures, which declare the immutability of the Word and the Divinity of the Wisdom of the Word, which Word and Wisdom is Christ. 'We are also able,' say these accursed wretches, 'to become like Him, the sons of God; for it is written,--I have nourished and brought up children s.' When the continuation of this text is brought before them, which is, and they have rebelled against Me, and it is objected that these words are inconsistent with the Saviour's nature, which is immutable, they throw aside oil reverence, and affirm that God foreknew and foresaw that His Son would not rebel against Him, and that He therefore chose Him in preference to all others. They likewise assert that He was not chosen because. He had by nature any thing superior to the other sons of God; for no man, say they, is son of God by nature, nor has any peculiar relation to Him. He was chosen, they allege, because, though mutable by nature, His painstaking character suffered no deterioration. As though, forsooth, even if a Paul and a Peter made like endeavours, their sonship would in no respects differ from His.
"To establish this insane doctrine they in-suit the Scriptures, and bring forward what is said in the Psalms of Christ, 'Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity, therefore thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Now that the Son of God was not created out of the non-existent, and that there never was a time in which He was not, is expressly taught by John the Evangelist, who speaks of Him as 'the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Fathers. This divine teacher desired to show that the Father and the Son are inseparable; and, therefore, he said, 'that the Son is in the bosom of the Father.' Moreover, the same John affirms that the Word of God is not classed among things created out of the non-existent, for, he says that 'all things were made by Him,' and he also declares His individual personality in the following words: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Ward was God. . . . All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made' If, then, all things were made by Him, how is it that He who thus bestowed existence on all, could at any period have had no existence himself? The Word, the creating power, can in no way be defined as of the same nature as the things created, if indeed He was in the beginning, and all things were made by Him, and were called by Him out of the non-existent into being. ' That which is' must be of an opposite nature to, and essentially different from, things created out of the non-existent. This shows, likewise, that there is no separation between the Father and the Son, and that the idea of separation cannot even be conceived by the mind; while the fact that the world was created out of the nonexistent involves a later and fresh genesis of its essential nature, all things having been endowed with such an origin of existence by the Father through the Son. John, the most pious apostle, perceiving that the word 'was' applied to the Word of God was far beyond and above the intelligence of created beings, did not presume to speak of His generation or creation, nor yet dared to name the Maker and the creature m equivalent syllables. Not that the Son of God is unbegotten, for the Father alone is unbegotten; but that the ineffable personality of the only-begotten God is beyond the keenest conception of the evangelists and perhaps even of angels. Therefore, I do not think men ought to be considered pious who presume to investigate this subject, in disobedience to the injunction, 'Seek not what is too difficult for thee, neither enquire into what is too high for thee (15).' For if the knowledge of many other things incomparably inferior is beyond the capacity of the human mind, and cannot therefore be attained, as has been said by Paul, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared far them that lave Him', and as God also said to Abraham, that the stars could not be numbered by him; and it is likewise said,' Who shall number the grains of sand by the sea-shore, or the drops of rain?' how then can any one but a madman presume to enquire into the nature of the Word of God? It is said by the Spirit of prophecy, 'Who shall declare His generation?' And, therefore, our Saviour in His kindness to those men who were the pillars of the whole world, desiring to relieve them of the burden of striving after this knowledge, told them that it was beyond their natural comprehension, and that the Father alone could discern this most divine mystery; 'No man,' said He, 'knoweth the Son but the Father, and no man knoweth the Father save the Son (20).' It was, I think, concerning this same subject that the Father said, 'My secret is for Me and far Mine.'
"But the insane folly of imagining that the Son of God came into being out of that which had no being, and that His sending forth took place in time, is plain from the words 'which l had no being,' although the foolish are incapable of perceiving the folly of their own utterances. For the phrase 'He was not' must either have reference to time, or to some interval in the ages. If then it be true that all things were made by Him, it is evident that every age, time, all intervals of time, and that 'when' in which 'was not' has its place, were made by Him. And is it not absurd to say that there was a time when He who created all time, and ages, and seasons, with which the 'was not' is confused, was not? For it would be the height of ignorance, and contrary indeed to all reason, to affirm that the cause of any created thing can be posterior to that caused by it. The interval during which they say the Son was still unbegotten of the Father was, according to their opinion, prior to the wisdom of God, by whom all things were created. They thus contradict the Scripture which declares Him to be' the firstborn of every creature.' In consonance with this doctrine, Paul with his usual mighty voice cries concerning Him; 'whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.' 'For by Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and far Him: and He is before all things.' Since the hypothesis implied in the phrase 'out of the non-existent' is manifestly impious, it follows that the Father is always Father. And He is Father from the continual presence of the Son, on account of whom He is called Father. And the Son being ever present with Him, the Father is ever perfect, wanting in no good thing, for He did not beget His only Son in time, or in any interval of time, nor out of that which had no previous existence.
"Is it not then impious to say that there was a time when the wisdom of God was not? Who saith,' I was by Him as one brought up with Him: I was daily His delight?' Or that once the power of God was not, or His Word, or anything else by which the Son is known, or the Father designated, defective? To assert that the brightness of the Father's glory' once did not exist,' destroys also the original light of which it is the brightness; and if there ever was a time in which the image of God was not, it is plain that He Whose image He is, is not always: nay, by the non-existence of the express image of God's Person, He also is taken away of whom this is ever the express image. Hence it may be seen, that the Sonship of our Saviour has not even anything in common with the sonship of men. For just as it has been shown that the nature of His existence cannot be expressed by language, and infinitely surpasses in excellence all things to which He has given being, so His Sonship, naturally partaking in His paternal Divinity, is unspeakably different from the sonship of those who, by His appointment, have been adopted as sons. He is by nature immutable, perfect, and all-sufficient, whereas men are liable to change, and need His help. What further advance can be made by the wisdom of God? What can the Very Truth, or God the Word, add to itself? How can the Life or the True Light in any way be bettered? And is it not still more contrary to nature to suppose that wisdom can be susceptible of folly? that the power of God can be united with weakness? that reason itself can be dimmed by unreasonableness, or that darkness can be mixed with the true light? Does not the Apostle say, 'What communion hath light with darkness ? and what concord hath Christ with Belial?' and Solomon, that 'the way of a serpent upon a rack' was 'too wonderful' for the human mind to comprehend, which 'rock,' according to St. Paul, is Christ. Men and angels, however, who are His creatures, have received His blessing, enabling them to exercise themselves in virtue and in obedience to His commands, that thus they may avoid sin. And it is on this account that our Lord being by nature the Son of the Father, is worshipped by all; and they who have put off the spirit of bondage, and by brave deeds and advance in virtue have received the spirit of adoption through the kindness of Him Who is the Son of God by nature, by adoption also become sons. "His true, peculiar, natural, and special Sonship was declared by Paul, who, speaking of God, says, that 'He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us, who are not by nature His sons. It was to distinguish Him from those who are not 'His own,' that he called Him 'His own son.' It is also written in the Gospel, ' This is My beloved San in whom I am well pleased;' and in the Psalms the Saviour says, 'The Lord said unto Me, Thou art My Son. By proclaiming natural sonship He shows that there are no other natural sons besides Himself.
"And do not these words, I begot thee 'from the womb before the morning (35).' plainly show the natural sonship of the paternal birth 36 of One whose lot it is, not from diligence of conduct, or exercise in moral progress, but by individuality of nature? Hence it ensues that the filiation of the only-begotten Son of the Father is incapable of fall; while the adoption of reasonable beings who are not His sons by nature, but merely on account of fitness of character, and by the bounty of God, may fall away, as it is written in the word, 'The sons of God saw the daughters of men, and took them as wives,' and so forth. And God, speaking by Isaiah, said, 'I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me'
"I have many things to say, beloved, but because I fear that I shall cause weariness by further admonishing teachers who are of one mind with myself, I pass them by. You, having been taught of God, are not ignorant that the teaching at variance with the religion of the Church which has just arisen, is the same as that propagated by Ebion and Artemas, and rivals that of Paul of Samosata, bishop of Antioch, who was excommunicated by a council of all the bishops. Lucianus, his successor, withdrew himself from communion with these bishops during a period of many years.
"And now amongst us there have sprung up, 'out of the non-existent' men who have greedily sucked down the dregs of this impiety, offsets of the same stock: I mean Arius and Achillas,. and all their gang of rogues. Three bishops (42) of Syria, appointed no one knows how, by consenting to them, fire them to more fatal heat. I refer their sentence to your decision. Retaining in their memory all that they can collect concerning the suffering, humiliation, emptying of Himself, and so-called poverty, and everything of which the Saviour for our sake accepted the acquired name, they bring forward those passages to disprove His eternal. existence and divinity, while they forget all those which declare His glory and nobility and abiding with the Father; as for instance, 'I and My father are one.' In these words the Lord does not proclaim Himself to be the Father, neither does He represent two natures as one; but that the essence of the Son of the Father preserves accurately the likeness of the Father, His nature taking off the impress of likeness to Him in all things, being the exact image of the Father and the express stamp of the prototype. When,. therefore, Philip, desirous of seeing the Father, said to Him, 'Lord, show us the Father,' the Lord with abundant plainness said to him, 'He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,' as though the Father were beheld in the spotless and living mirror of His image. The same idea is conveyed in the Psalms, where the saints say, 'In Thy light we shall see light (46).' It is on this account that 'he who honoureth the Son, honoureth the Father' And rightly, for every impious word which men dare to utter against the Son is spoken also against the Father.
"After this no one can wonder at the false calumnies which I am about to detail, my beloved brethren, propagated by them against me, and against our most religious people. They not only set their battle in array against the divinity of Christ, but ungratefully insult us. They think it beneath them to be compared with any of those of old time, nor do they endure to be put on a par with the teachers we have been conversant with from childhood. They will not admit that any of our fellow-ministers anywhere possess even mediocrity of intelligence. They say that they themselves alone are the wise and the poor, and discoverers of doctrines, and to them alone have been revealed those truths which, say they, have never entered the mind of any other individuals under the sun. O what wicked arrogance! O what excessive folly! What false boasting, joined with madness and Satanic pride, has hardened their impious hearts 'They are not ashamed to oppose the godly clearness of the ancient scriptures, nor yet does the unanimous piety of all our fellow-ministers concerning Christ blunt their audacity. Even devils will not suffer impiety like this; for even they refrain from speaking blasphemy against the Son of God.
"These then are the questions I have to raise, according to the ability I possess, with those who from their rude resources throw dust on the Christ, and try to slander our reverence for Him. These inventors of silly tales assert that we, who reject their impious and unscriptural blasphemy concerning the creation of Christ from the non-existent, teach that there are two unbegotten Beings. For these ill-instructed men contend that one of these alternatives must hold; either He must be believed to have come out of the non-existent, or there are two unbegotten Beings. In their ignorance and want of practice in theology they do not realize how vast must be the distance between the Father who is uncreate, and the creatures, whether rational or irrational, which He created out of the non-existent; and that the only-begotten nature of Him Who is the Word of God, by Whom the Father created the universe out of the non-existent, standing, as it were, in the middle between the two, was begotten of the self-existent Father, as the Lord Himself testified when He said, 'Every one that loveth the Father, loveth also the Son that is begotten of Him.'
"We believe, as is taught by the apostolical Church, in an only unbegotten Father, Who of His being hath no cause, immutable and invariable, and Who subsists always in one state of being, admitting neither of progression nor of diminution; Who gave the law, and the prophets, and the gospel; of patriarchs and apostles, and of all saints, Lord: and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten not out of that which is not, but of the Father, Who is; yet not after the manner of material bodies, by severance or emanation, as Sabellius and Valentinus taught; but in an inexpressible and inexplicable manner, according to the saying which we quoted above, 'Who shall declare His generations?' since no mortal intellect can comprehend the nature of His Person, as the Father Himself cannot be comprehended, because the nature of reasonable beings is unable to grasp the manner in which He was begotten of the Father..
"But those who are led by the Spirit of truth have no need to learn these things of me, for the words long since spoken by the Saviour yet sound in our ears, 'No one knoweth who the Father is but the Son, and no one knoweth who the Son is but the Father.' We have learnt that the Son is immutable and unchangeable, all-sufficient and perfect, like the Father, lacking only His "unbegotten." He is the exact and precisely similar image of His Father. For it is clear that the image fully contains everything by which the greater likeness exists, as the Lord taught us when He said, ' My Father is greater than I.' And in accordance with this we believe that the Son always existed of the Father; for he is the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His Father's Person,.' But let no one be led by the word 'always' to imagine that the Son is unbegotten, as is thought by some who have their intellects blinded: for to say that He was, that He has always been, and that before all ages, is not to say that He is unbegotten.
"The mind of man could not possibly invent a term expressive of what is meant by being unbegotten. I believe that you are of this opinion; and, indeed, I feel confident in your orthodox view that none of these terms in any way signify the unbegotten. For all the terms appear to signify merely the extension of time, and are not adequate to express the divinity and, as it were, the primaeval being of the only-begotten Son. They were used by the holy men who earnestly endeavoured to clear up the mystery, and who asked pardon from those who heard them, with a reasonable excuse for their failure, by saying 'as far as our comprehension has reached.' But if those who allege that what was 'known in part' has been ' done away (56), for them, expect from human lips anything beyond human powers, it is plain that the terms 'was,' and 'ever,' and 'before all ages,' fall far short of this expectation. But whatever. they may mean, it is not the same as 'the unbegotten.' Therefore His own individual dignity must be reserved to the Father as the Unbegotten One, no one being called the cause of His existence: to the Son likewise must be given the honour which befits Him, there being to Him a generation from the Father which has no beginning; we must render Him worship, as we have already said, only piously and religiously ascribing to Him the 'was' and the 'ever,' and the ' before all ages;' not however rejecting His divinity, but ascribing to Him a perfect likeness in all things to His Father. while at the same time we ascribe to the Father alone His own proper glory of 'the unbegotten,' even as the Saviour Himself says, 'My Father is greater than I.'
"And in addition to this pious belief respecting the Father and the Son, we confess as the Sacred Scriptures teach us, one Holy Ghost, who moved the saints of the Old Testament, and the divine teachers of that which is called the New. We believe in one only Catholic Church, the apostolical, which cannot be destroyed even though all the world were to take counsel to fight against it, and which gains the victory over all the impious attacks of the heterodox; for we are emboldened by the words of its Master, 'Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.' After this, we receive the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, of which Jesus Christ our Lord became the first-fruits; Who bore a Body, in truth, not in semblance, derived from Mary the mother of God in the fulness of time sojourning among the race, for the remission of sins: who was crucified and died, yet for all this suffered no diminution of His Godhead. He rose from the dead, was taken into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
"In this epistle I have only mentioned these things in part, deeming it, as I have said, wearisome to dwell minutely on each article, since they are well known to your pious diligence. These things we teach, these things we preach; these are the dogmas of the apostolic Church, for which we are ready to die, caring little for those who would force us to forswear them; for we will never relinquish our hope in them, though they should try to compel us by tortures.
"Arius and Achillas, together with their fellow foes, have been expelled from the Church, because they have become aliens from our pious doctrine: according to the blessed Paul, who said, 'If any of you preach any, other gospel than that which you have received, let him be accursed, even though he should pretend to be an angel from heaven, and 'But if any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing' and so forth. Since, then, they have been condemned by the brotherhood, let none of you receive them, nor attend to what they say or write. They are deceivers, and propagate lies, and they never adhere to the truth. They go about to different cities with no other intent than to deliver letters under the pretext of friendship and in the name of peace, and by hypocrisy and flattery to obtain other letters in return, in order to deceive a few 'silly women who are laden with sins' I beseech you, beloved brethren, to avoid those who have thus dared to act against Christ, who have publicly held up the Christian religion to ridicule, and have eagerly sought to make a display before judicial tribunals, who have endeavoured to excite a persecution against us at a period of the most entire peace, and who have enervated the unspeakable mystery of the generation of Christ. Unite unanimously in opposition to them, as some of our fellow-ministers have already done, who, being filled with indignation, wrote to me against them, and signed our formulary.
"I have sent you these letters by my son Apion, the deacon; being those of (the ministers in) all Egypt and the Thebaid, also of those of Libya, and the Pentapolis, of Syria, Lycia, Pamphylia, Asia, Cappadocia, and in the other adjoining countries. Whose example you likewise, I trust, will follow. Many kindly attempts have been made by me to gain back those who have been led astray, but no remedy has proved more efficacious in restoring the laity who have been deceived by them and leading them to repentance, than the manifestation of the union of our fellow-ministers. Salute one another, with the brotherhood that is with you. I pray that you may be strong in the Lord, my beloved, anti that I may receive the fruit of your love to Christ.
"The following are the name of those who have been anathematized as heretics: among the presbyters, Arius; among the deacons, Achillas, Euzoius, Aithales, Lucius, Sarmates, Julius, Menas, another Arius, and Helladius." Alexander wrote in the same strain to Philogonius, bishop of Antioch, to Eustathius(65), who then ruled the church of the Beroeans, and to all those who defended the doctrines of the Apostles. But Arius could not endure to keep quiet, but wrote to all those whom he believed to agree with him in opinion. His letter to Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, is a clear proof that the divine Alexander wrote nothing that was false concerning him. I shall here insert his letter, in order that the names of those who were implicated in his impiety may become generally known.
CHAPTER IV. The Letter of Arius to Eusebius, Bishop of Nicomedia.
"To his very dear lord, the man of God, the faithful and orthodox Eusebius, Arius, unjustly persecuted by Alexander the Pope, on account of that all-conquering truth of which you also are a champion, sendeth greeting in the Lord.'
"Ammonius, my father, being about to depart for Nicomedia, I considered myself bound to salute you by him, and withal to inform that natural affection which you bear towards the brethren for the sake of God and His Christ, that the bishop greatly wastes and persecutes us, and leaves no stone unturned against us. He has driven us out of the city as atheists, because we do not concur in what he publicly preaches, namely, God always, the Son always; as the Father so the Son; the Son Co-exists unbegotten with God; He is everlasting; neither by thought nor by any interval does God precede the Son; always God, always Son; he is begotten of the unbegotten; the Son is of God Himself. Eusebius your brother bishop of Caesarea, Theodotus, Paulinus, Athanasius, Gregorius, Aetius, and all the bishops of the East, have been condemned because they say that God had an existence prior to that of His Son; except Philogonius, Hellanicus, and Macarius, who are unlearned men, and who have embraced heretical opinions. Some of them say that the Son is an eructation, others that He is a production, others that He is also unbegotten. These are impieties to which we cannot listen, even though the heretics threaten us with a thousand deaths. But we say and believe, and have taught, and do teach, that the Son is not unbegotten, nor in any way part of the unbegotten; and that He does not derive His subsistence from any matter; but that by His own will and counsel He has subsisted before time, and before ages, as perfect God, only begotten and unchangeable, and that before He was begotten, or created, or purposed, or established, He was not. For He was not unbegotten. We are persecuted, because we say that the Son has a beginning, but that God is without beginning. This is the cause of our persecution, and likewise, because we say that He is of the non-existent. And this we say, because He is neither part of God, nor of any essential being. For this are we persecuted; the rest you know. I bid thee farewell in the Lord, remembering our afflictions, my fellow-Lucianist, and true Eusebius."
Of those whose names are mentioned in this letter, Eusebius was bishop of Caesarea, Theodotus of Laodicea, Paulinus of Tyre, Athanasius of Anazarbus, Gregorius of Berytus, and Aetius of Lydda. Lydda is now called Diospolis. Arius prided himself on having these men of one mind with himself. He names as his adversaries, Philogonius, bishop of Antioch, Hellanicus, of Tripolis, and Macarius, of Jerusalem. He spread calumnies against them because they said that the Son is eternal, existing before all ages, of equal honour and of the same substance with the Father.
When Eusebius received the epistle, he too vomited forth his own impiety, and wrote to Paulinus, chief of the Tyrians, in the following words.
CHAPTER V. The Letter of Eusebius, Bishop of Nicomedia, to Paulinus, Bishop of Tyre. "To my lord Paulinus, Eusebius sendeth greeting in the Lord.
"The zeal of my lord Eusebius in the cause of the truth, and likewise your silence concerning it, have not failed to reach our ears. Accordingly, if, on the one hand, we rejoiced on account of the zeal of my lord Eusebius; on the other we are grieved at you, because even the silence of such a man appears like a defeat of our cause. Hence, as it behoves not a wise man to be of a different opinion from others, and to be silent concerning the truth, stir up, I exhort you, within yourself the spirit of wisdom to write, and at length begin what may be profitable to yourself and to others, specially if you consent to write in accordance with Scripture, and tread in the tracks of its words and will.
"We have never heard that there are two unbegotten beings, nor that one has been divided into two, nor have we learned or believed that it has ever undergone any change of a corporeal nature; but we affirm that the unbegotten is one and one also that which exists in truth by Him, yet was not made out of His substance, and does not at all participate in the nature or substance of the unbegotten, entirely distinct in nature and in power, and made after perfect likeness both of character and power to the maker. We believe that the mode of His beginning not only cannot be expressed by words but even in thought, and is incomprehensible not only to man, but also to all beings superior to man. These opinions we advance not as having derived them from our own imagination, but as having deduced them from Scripture, whence we learn that the Son was created, established, and begotten in the same substance and in the same immutable and inexpressible nature as the Maker; and so the Lord says, 'God created me in the beginning of His way; I was set up from everlasting; before the hills was I brought forth.'
"If He had been from Him or of Him, as a portion of Him, or by an emanation of His substance, it could not be said that He was created or established; and of this you, my lord, are certainly not ignorant. For that which is of the unbegotten could not be said to have been created or founded, either by Him or by another, since it is unbegotten from the beginning. But if the fact of His being called the begotten gives any ground for the belief that, having come into being of the Father's substance, He also has from the Father likeness of nature, we reply that it is not of Him alone that the Scriptures have spoken as begotten, but that they also thus speak of those who are entirely dissimilar to Him by nature. For of men it is said, 'I have begotten and brought up sons, and they have rebelled against me;' and in another place, 'Thou hast forsaken God who begat thee;' and again it is said, 'Who begat him drops of dew ?' This expression does not imply that the dew partakes of the nature of God, but simply that all things were formed according to His will. There is, indeed, nothing which is of His substance, yet every thing which exists has been called into being by His will. He is God; and all things were made in His likeness. and in the future likeness of His Word, being created of His tree will. All things were made by His means by God. All things are of God.
"When you have received my letter, and have revised it according to the knowledge and grace given you by God, I beg you will write as soon as possible to my lord Alexander. I feel confident that if you would write to him, you would succeed in bringing him over to your opinion. Salute all the brethren in the Lord. May you, my lord, be preserved by the grace of God, and be led to pray for us."
It is thus that they wrote to each other, in order to furnish one another with weapons against the truths. And so when the blasphemous doctrine had been disseminated in the churches of Egypt and of the East, disputes and contentions arose in every city, and in every village, concerning theological dogmas. The common people looked on, and became judges of what was said on either side, and some applauded one party, and some the other. These were, indeed, scenes fit for the tragic stage, over which tears might have been shed. For it was not, as in bygone days, when the church was attacked by strangers and by enemies, but now natives of the same country, who dwelt under one roof, and sat down at one table, fought against each other not with spears, but with their tongues. And what was still more sad, they who thus took up arms against one another were members of one another, and belonged to one body.
CHAPTER VI. General Council of Nicoea.
THE emperor, who possessed the most profound wisdom, having heard of these things, endeavoured, as a first step, to stop up their fountain-head. He therefore despatched a messenger renowned for his ready wit to Alexandria with letters, in the endeavour to extinguish the dispute, and expecting to reconcile the disputants. But his hopes having been frustrated, he proceeded to summon the celebrated council of Nicaea; and pledged his word that the bishops and their officials should be furnished with asses, mules, and horses for their journey at the public expense. When all those who were capable of enduring the fatigue of the journey had arrived at Nicaea, he went thither himself, with both the wish of seeing the multitude of bishops, and the yearning desire of maintaining unanimity: amongst them. He at once arranged that all their wants should be liberally supplied. Three hundred and eighteen bishops were assembled. The bishop of Rome, on account of his very advanced age, was absent, but he sent two presbyters to the council, with authority to agree to what was done.
At this period many individuals were richly endowed with apostolical gifts; and many, like the holy apostle, bore in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ . James, bishop of Antioch, a city of Mygdonia, which is called Nisibis by the Syrians and Assyrians, raised the dead and restored them to life, and performed many other wonders which it would be superfluous to mention again in detail in this history, as I have already given an account of them in my work, entitled "Philotheus ." Paul, bishop of Neo-Caesarea, a fortress situated on the banks of the Euphrates, had suffered from the frantic rage of Licinius. He had been deprived of the use of both hands by the application of a red-hot iron, by which the nerves which give motion to the muscles had been contracted and rendered dead. Some had had the right eye dug out, others had lost the right arm. Among these was Paphnutius of Egypt. In short, the Council looked like an assembled army of martyrs. Yet this holy and celebrated gathering was not entirely free from the element of opposition; for there were some, though so few as easily to be reckoned, of fair surface, like dangerous shallows, who really, though not openly, supported the blasphemy of Arius.
When they were all assembled, the emperor ordered a great hall to be prepared for their accommodation in the palace, in which a sufficient number of benches and seats were placed; and having thus arranged that they should be treated with becoming dignity, he desired the bishops to enter in, and discuss the subjects proposed. The emperor, with a few attendants, was the last to enter the room; remarkable for his lofty stature, and worthy of admiration for personal beauty, and for the still more marvellous modesty which dwelt on his countenance. A low stool was placed for him in the middle of the assembly, upon which, however, he did not seat himself until he had asked the permission of the bishops. Then all the sacred assembly sat down around him. Then forthwith rose first the great Eustathius, bishop of Antioch, who, upon the translation of Philogonius, already referred to, to a better life, had been compelled reluctantly to become his successor by the unanimous suffrages of the bishops, priests, and of the Christ-loving laity. He crowned the emperor's head with the flowers of panegyric, and commended the diligent attention he had manifested in the regulation of ecclesiastical affairs.
The excellent emperor next exhorted the Bishops to unanimity and concord; he recalled to their remembrance the cruelty of the late tyrants, and reminded them of the honourable peace which God had, in his reign and by his means, accorded them. He pointed out how dreadful it was, aye, very dreadful, that at the very time when their enemies were destroyed, and when no one dared to oppose them, they should fall upon one another, and make their amused adversaries laugh, especially as they were debating about holy things, concerning which they had the written teaching of the Holy Spirit. "For the gospels" (continued he), "the apostolical writings, and the oracles of the ancient prophets, clearly teach us what we ought to believe concerning the divine nature. Let, then, all contentious disputation be discarded; and let us seek in the divinely-inspired word the solution of the questions at issue." These and similar exhortations he, like an affectionate son, addressed to the bishops as to fathers, labouring to bring about their unanimity in the apostolical doctrines. Most members of the synod, won over by his arguments, established concord among themselves, and embraced sound doctrine. There were, however, a few, of whom mention has been already made, who opposed these doctrines, and sided with Arius; and amongst them were Menophantus, bishop of Ephesus, Patrophilus, bishop of Scythopolis, Theognis, bishop of Nicaea, and Narcissus, bishop of Neronias, which is a town of the second Cilicia, and is now called Irenopolis; also Theonas, bishop of Marmarica, and Secundus, bishop of Ptolemais in Egypt . They drew up a formulary of their faith, and presented it to the council. As soon as it was read it was torn to pieces, and was declared to be spurious and false. So great was the uproar raised against them, and so many were the reproaches cast on them for having betrayed religion, that they all, with the exception of Secundus and Theonas, stood up and took the lead in publicly renouncing Arius. This impious man, having thus been expelled from the Church, a confession of faith which is received to this day was drawn up by unanimous consent; and, as soon as it was signed, the council was dissolved.
CHAPTER VII. Confutation of Arianism deduced from the Writings of Eustathius and Athanasius.
THE above-named bishops, however, did not consent to it in sincerity, but only in appearance. This was afterwards shewn by their plotting against those who were foremost in zeal for religion, as well as by what these latter have written about them. For instance, Eustathius, the famous bishop of Antioch, who has been already mentioned, when explaining the text in the Proverbs, 'The Lord created me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old,' wrote against them, and refuted their blasphemy.
"I WILL now proceed to relate how these different events occurred. A general council was summoned at Nicaea, and about two hundred and seventy bishops were convened. There were, however, so many assembled that I cannot state their exact number, neither, indeed, have I taken any great trouble to ascertain this point. When they began to inquire into the nature of the faith, the formulary of Eusebius was brought forward, which contained undisguised evidence of his blasphemy. The reading of it before all occasioned great grief to the audience, on account of its departure from the faith, while it inflicted irremediable shame on the writer. After the Eusebian gang had been clearly convicted, and the impious writing had been torn up in the sight of all, some amongst them by concert, under the pretence of preserving peace, imposed silence on all the ablest speakers. The Ariomaniacs, fearing lest they should be ejected from the Church by so numerous a council of bishops, sprang forward to anathematize and condemn the doctrines condemned, and unanimously signed the confession of faith. Thus having retained possession of their episcopal seats through the most shameful deception, although they ought rather to have been degraded, they continue, sometimes secretly, and sometimes openly, to patronize the condemned doctrines, plotting against the truth by various arguments. Wholly bent upon establishing these plantations of tares, they shrink from the scrutiny of the intelligent, avoid the observant, and attack the preachers of godliness. But we do not believe that these atheists can ever thus overcome the Deity. For though they 'gird themselves' they 'shall be broken in pieces,' according to the solemn prophecy of Isaiah ." These are the words of the great Eustathius. Athanasius, his fellow combatant, the champion of the truth, who succeeded the celebrated Alexander in the episcopate, added the following, in a letter addressed to the Africans.
"The bishops convened in council being desirous of refuting the impious assertions invented by the Arians, that the Son was created out of that which was non-existent, that He is a creature and created being, that there was a period in which He was not, and that He is mutable by nature, and being all agreed in propounding the following declarations, which are in accordance with the holy Scriptures; namely, that the Son is by nature only-begotten of God, Word, Power, and sole Wisdom of the Father; that He is, as John said, 'the true God,' and, as Paul has written, 'the brightness of the glory, and the express image of the person of the Father,' the followers of Eusebius, drawn aside by their own vile doctrine, then began to say one to another, Let us agree, for we are also of God; ' There is but one God, by whom are all things;' 'Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new, and all things are of Gad(10).' They also dwelt particularly upon what is contained in 'The Shepherd(11):' 'Believe above all that there is one God, who created and fashioned all things, and making them to be out of that which is not.'
"But the bishops saw through their evil design and impious artifice, and gave a clearer elucidation of the words 'of God,' and wrote, that the Son is of the substance of God; in order that while the creatures, which do not in any way derive their existence of or from themselves are said to be of God, the Son alone is said to be of the substance of the Father; this being peculiar to the only-begotten Son, the true Word of the Father. This is the reason why the bishops wrote, that He is of the substance of the Father.
"But when the Arians, who seemed few in number, were again interrogated by the Bishops as to whether they admitted 'that the Son is not a creature, but Power, and sole Wisdom, and eternal unchangeable(12) Image of the Father; and that He is very God,' the Eusebians were noticed making signs to one another to shew that these declarations were equally applicable to us. For it is said, that we are 'the image and glory Of God(13);' and 'for always we who live(14):' there are, also, they said, many powers; for it is written--'All the power of God went out of the land of Egypt(15).' The canker-worm and the locust are said to be 'a great power And elsewhere it is written, 'The God of powers is with us, the God of Jacob helper(17).' To which may be added that we are God's own not simply, but because the Son called us ' brethren(18).' The declaration that Christ is 'the true God' does not distress us, for, having come into being, He is true.
"Such was the corrupt opinion of the Arians; but on this the bishops, having detected their deceitfulness in this matter, collected from Scripture those passages which say of Christ that He is the glory, the fountain, the stream, and the express image of the person; and they quoted the following words: 'In thy light we shall see light(19);' and likewise, 'I and the Father are one(20).' They then, with still greater clearness, briefly declared that the Son is of one substance with the Father; for this, indeed, is the signification of the passages which have been quoted. The complaint of the Arians, that these precise words are not to be found in Scripture, is proved groundless by their own practice, for their own impious assertions are not taken from Scripture; for it is not written that the Son is of the non-existent, and that there was a time when He was not: and yet they complain of having been condemned by expressions which, though not actually in Scripture, are in accordance with true religion. They themselves, on the other hand, as though they had found their words on a dunghill, uttered things verily of earth. The bishops, on the contrary, did not find their expressions for themselves; but, received their testimony from the fathers, and wrote accordingly. Indeed, there were bishops of old time, nearly one hundred and thirty years ago, both of the great city of Rome and of our own city(21), who condemned those who asserted that the Son is a creature, and that He is not of one substance with the Father. Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea, was acquainted with these facts; he, at one time, favoured the Arian heresy, but he afterwards signed the confession of faith of the Council of Nicaea. He wrote to the people of his diocese, maintaining that the word 'consubstantial' was 'used by illustrious bishops and learned writers as a term for expressing the divinity of the Father and of the Son(22).'"
So these men concealed their unsoundness through fear of the majority, and gave their assent to the decisions of the council, thus drawing upon themselves the condemnation of the prophet, for the God of all cries unto them," "This people honour Me with their lips, but in their hearts they are far from Me(23)." Theonas and Secundus, however, did not like to take this course, and were excommunicated by common consent as men who esteemed the Arian blasphemy above evangelical doctrine. The bishops then returned to the council, and drew up twenty laws to regulate the discipline of the Church.
CHAPTER VIII. Facts relating to Meletius the Egyptian, from whom originated the Meletian schism, which remains to this day.--Synodical Epistle respecting him.
AFTER Meletius had been ordained bishop, which was not long before the Arian controversy, he was convicted of certain crimes by the most holy Peter, bishop of Alexandria, who also received the crown of martyrdom. After being deposed by Peter he did not acquiesce in his deposition, but filled the Thebaid and the adjacent part of Egypt with tumult and disturbance, and rebelled against the primacy of Alexandria. A letter was written by the council to the Church of Alexandria stating what had been decreed against his revolutionary practices. It was as follows:--
"To the Church of Alexandria which, by the grace of God, is great and holy, and to the beloved brethren in Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis, the bishops who have been convened to the great and holy council of Nicaea, send greeting in the Lord.
"The great and holy council of Nicaea having been convened by the grace of God, and by the most religious emperor, Constantine, who summoned us from different provinces and cities, we judge it requisite that a letter be sent from the whole Holy Synod to inform you also what questions have been mooted and debated, and what has been decreed and established.
"In the first place, the impious doctrines of Arius were investigated before our most religious emperor Constantine; and his impiety was unanimously anathematized, as well as the blasphemous language and views which he had propounded, alleging that the Son of God was out of what was not, that before He was begotten He was not, that there was a period in which He was not, and that He can, according to His own free-will, be capable either of virtue or of vice. The holy council anathematized all these assertions, and even refused so much as to listen to such impious and foolish opinions, and such blasphemous expressions. The final decision concerning him you already know, or will soon hear; but we will not mention it now, lest we should appear to trample upon a man who has already received the recompense due to his sins. Such influence has his impiety obtained as to involve Theonas, bishop of Marmarica, and Secundus, bishop of Ptolemais, in his ruin, and they have shared his punishment.
"But after Egypt had, by the grace of God, been delivered from these false and blasphemous opinions, and from persons who dared to raise discord and division among a hitherto peaceable people, there yet remained the question of the temerity of Meletius, and of those ordained by him. We now inform you, beloved brethren, of the decrees of the council on this subject. It was decided by the holy council, that Meletius should be treated with clemency, though, strictly speaking, he was not worthy of even the least concession. He was permitted to remain in his own city, but was divested of all power, whether of nomination or of ordination, neither was he to shew himself in any province or city for these purposes: but only to retain the bare name of his office. Those who had received ordination at his hands were to submit to a more religious re-ordination; and were to be admitted to communion on the terms of retaining their ministry, but of ranking in every diocese and church below those who had been ordained before them by Alexander, our much-honoured fellow-minister Thus they would have no power of choosing or nominating others to the ministry, according to their pleasure, or indeed of doing anything with out the consent of the bishops of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, who are under Alexander. But they who, by the grace of God, and in answer to your prayers, have been detected in no schism, and have continued spotless in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, are to have the power of electing, and of nominating men worthy of the clerical office, and are permitted to do whatsoever is in accordance with law and the authority of the Church. If it should happen, that any of those now holding an office in the Church should die, then let these recently admitted be advanced to the honours of the deceased, provided only that they appear worthy, and that the people choose them, and that the election be confirmed and ratified by the catholic bishop of Alexandria. The same privilege has been conceded to all the others. With respect to Meletius, however, an exception has been made, both on account of his former insubordination, and of the rashness and impetuosity of his disposition; for if the least authority were accorded to him, he might abuse it by again exciting confusion. These are the chief points which relate to Egypt, and to the holy Church of Alexandria. Whatever other canons were made, or dogmas decreed, you will hear of them from Alexander, our most-honoured fellow-minister and brother, who will give you still more accurate information, because he himself directed, as well as participated in, every thing that took place.
"We also give you the good news that, according to your prayers, the celebration of the most holy paschal feast was unanimously rectified, so that our brethren of the East, who did not previously keep the festival at the same time as those of Rome, and as yourselves, and, indeed, all have done from the beginning, will henceforth celebrate it with you. Rejoice, then, in the success of our undertakings, and in the general peace and concord, and in the extirpation of every heresy, and receive with still greater honour and more fervent love, Alexander, our fellow-minister and your bishop, who imparted joy to as by his presence, and who, at a very advanced age, has undergone so much fatigue for the purpose of restoring peace among you. Pray for us all, that what has been rightly decreed may remain steadfast, through our Lord Jesus Christ, being done, as we trust, according to the good pleasure of God and the Father in the Holy Ghost, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
Notwithstanding the endeavours of that divine assembly of bishops to apply this medicine to the Meletian disease, vestiges of his infatuation remain even to this day; for there are in some districts bodies of monks who refuse to follow sound doctrine, and observe certain vain points of discipline, agreeing with the infatuated views of the Jews and the Samaritans.
CHAPTER IX. The Epistle of the Emperor Constantine, concerning the matters transacted at the Council, addressed to those Bishops who were not present.
The great emperor also wrote an account of the transactions of the council to those bishops who were unable to attend. And I consider it worth while to insert this epistle in my work, as it clearly evidences the piety of the writer.
"CONSTANTINUS AUGUSTUS to the Churches.
"Viewing the common public prosperity enjoyed at this moment, as the result of the great power of divine grace, I am desirous above all things that the blessed members of the Catholic Church should be preserved in one faith, in sincere love, and in one form of religion, towards Almighty God. But, since no firmer or more effective measure could be adopted to secure this end, than that of submitting everything relating to our most holy religion to the examination of all, or most of all, the bishops, I convened as many of them as possible, and took my seat among them as one of yourselves; for I would not deny that truth which is the source of my greatest joy, namely, that I am your fellow-servant. Every point obtained its due investigation, until the doctrine pleasing to the all-seeing God, and conducive to unity, was made clear, so that no room should remain for division or controversy concerning the faith.
"The commemoration of the most sacred paschal feast being then debated, it was unanimously decided, that it would be well that it should be everywhere celebrated upon the same day. What can be more fair, or more seemly, than that that festival by which we have received the hope of immortality should be carefully celebrated by all, on plain grounds, with the same order and exactitude? It was, in the first place, declared improper to follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this holy festival, because, their hands having been stained with crime, the minds of these wretched men are necessarily blinded. By rejecting their custom, we establish and hand down to succeeding ages one which is more reasonable, and which has been observed ever since the day of our Lord's sufferings. Let us, then, have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries. For we have received from our Saviour another way. A better and more lawful line of conduct is inculcated by our holy religion, Let us with one accord walk therein, my much-honoured brethren, studiously avoiding all contact with that evil way. They boast that without their instructions we should be unable to commemorate the festival properly. This is the highest pitch of absurdity. For how can they entertain right views on any point who, after having compassed the death of the Lord, being out of their minds, are guided not by sound reason, but by an unrestrained passion, wherever their innate madness carries them. Hence it follows that they have so far lost sight of truth, wandering as far as possible from the correct revisal, that they celebrate a second Passover in the same year. What motive can we have for following those who are thus confessedly unsound and in dire error? For we could never tolerate celebrating the Passover twice in one year. But even if all these facts did not exist, your own sagacity would prompt you to watch with diligence and with prayer, lest your pure minds should appear to share in the customs of a people so utterly depraved. It must also be borne in mind, that upon so important a point as the celebration of a feast of such sanctity, discord is wrong. One day has our Saviour set apart for a commemoration of our deliverance, namely, of His most holy Passion. One hath He wished His Catholic Church to be, whereof the members, though dispersed throughout the most various parts of the world, are yet nourished by one spirit, that is, by the divine will. Let your pious sagacity reflect how evil and improper it is, that days devoted by some to fasting, should be spent by others in convivial feasting; and that after the paschal feast, some are rejoicing in festivals and relaxations, while others give themselves up to the appointed fasts. That this impropriety should be rectified, and that all these diversities of commemoration should be resolved into one form, is the will of divine Providence, as I am convinced you will all perceive. Therefore, this irregularity must be corrected, in order that we may no more have any thing in common with those parricides and the murderers of our Lord. An orderly and excellent form of commemoration is observed in all the churches of the western, of the southern, and of the northern parts of the world, and by some of the eastern; this form being universally commended, I engaged that you would be ready to adopt it likewise, and thus gladly accept the rule unanimously adopted in the city of Rome, throughout Italy, in all Africa, in Egypt, the Spains, the Gauls, the Britains, Libya, Greece, in the dioceses of Asia, and of Pontus, and in Cilicia, taking into your consideration not only that the churches of the places above-mentioned are greater in point of number, but also that it is most pious that all should unanimously agree in that course which accurate reasoning seems to demand, and which has no single point in common with the perjury of the Jews.
"Briefly to summarize the whole of the preceding, the judgment of all is, that the holy Paschal feast should be held on one and the same day; for, in so holy a matter, it is not becoming that any difference of custom should exist, and it is better to follow the opinion which has not the least association with error and sin. This being the case, receive with gladness the heavenly gift and the plainly divine command; for all that is transacted in the holy councils of the bishops is to be referred to the Divine will. Therefore, when you have made known to all our beloved brethren the subject of this epistle, regard yourselves bound to accept what has gone before, and to arrange for the regular observance of this holy day, so that when, according to my long-cherished desire, I shall see you face to face, I may be able to celebrate with you this holy festival upon one and the same day; and may rejoice with you all in witnessing the cruelty of the devil destroyed by our efforts, through Divine grace, while our faith and peace and concord flourish throughout the world. May God preserve you, beloved brethren."
CHAPTER X. The daily wants of the Church supplied by the Emperor, and an account of his other virtues.
THUS did the emperor write to the absent. To those who attended the council, three hundred anti eighteen in number he manifested great kindness, addressing them with much gentleness, and presenting them with gifts. He ordered numerous couches to be prepared for their accommodation and entertained them all at one banquet. Those who were most worthy he received at his own table, distributing the rest at the others. Observing that some among them bad had the right eve torn out, and learning that this mutilation had been undergone for the sake of religion, he placed his lips upon the wounds, believing that he would extract a blessing from the kiss. After the conclusion of the feast, he again presented other gifts to them. He then wrote to the governors of the provinces, directing that provision-money should be given in every city to virgins and widows, and to those who were consecrated to the divine service; and he measured the amount of their annual allowance more by the impulse of his own generosity than by their need. The third part of the sum is distributed to this day. Julian impiously withheld the whole. His successor conferred the sum which is now dispensed, the famine which then prevailed having lessened the resources of the state. If the pensions were formerly triple in amount to what they are at present, the generosity of the emperor can by this fact be easily seen.
I do not account it right to pass over the following circumstance in silence. Some quarrelsome individuals wrote accusations against certain bishops, and presented their indictments to the emperor. This occurring before the establishment of concord, he received the lists, formed them into a packet which he sealed with his ring, and ordered them to be kept safely. After the reconciliation had been effected, he brought out these writings, and burnt them in their presence, at the same time declaring upon oath that he had not read a word of them. He said that the crimes of priests ought not to be made known to the multitude, lest they should become an occasion of offence, and lead them to sin without fear. It is reported also that he added that if he were to detect a bishop in the very act of committing adultery, he would throw his imperial robe over the unlawful deed, lest any should witness the scene, and be thereby injured. Thus did he admonish all the priests, as well as confer honours upon them, and then exhorted them to return each to his own flock.
I shall here insert the letter respecting the faith, written by Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, as it describes the effrontery of the Arians, who not only despise our fathers, but reject their own: it contains a convincing proof of their madness. They certainly honour Eusebius, because he adopted their sentiments, but yet they openly contradict his writings. He wrote this epistle to some of the Arians, who were accusing him, it seems, of treachery. The letter itself explains the writer's object. Epistle of Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, which he wrote from Nicoea when the great Council was assembled.
"You will have probably learnt from other sources what was decided respecting the faith of the church at the general council of Nicaea, for the fame of great transactions generally outruns the accurate account of them: but lest rumours not in strict accordance with the truth should reach you, I think it necessary to send to you, first, the formulary of faith originally proposed by us, and, next, the second, published with additions made to our terms. The following is our formulary, which was read in the presence of our most pious emperor, and declared to be couched in right and proper language.
The Faith put forth by us.
"'As in our first catechetical instruction, and at the time of our baptism, we received from the bishops who were before us and as we have learnt from the Holy Scriptures, and, alike as presbyters, and as bishops, were wont to believe and teach; so we now believe and thus declare our faith. It is as follows:--
"'We believe in one God, Father Almighty, the Maker of all things, visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, God of God, Light of Light, Life of Life, Only-begotten Son, First-born of every creature, begotten of the Father before all worlds; by Whom all things were made; Who for our salvation was incarnate, and lived among men . He suffered and rose again the third day, and ascended to the Father; and He will come again in glory to judge the quick and the dead. We also believe in one Holy Ghost.
"'We believe in the being and continual existence of each of these; that the Father is in truth the Father; the Son in truth the Son; the Holy Ghost in truth the Holy Ghost; as our Lord, when sending out His disciples to preach the Gospel, said, 'Go forth and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father. and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost .' We positively affirm that we hold this faith, that we have always held it, and that we adhere to it even unto death, condemning all ungodly heresy. We testify, as before God the Almighty and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we have thought thus from the heart, and from the soul, ever since we have known ourselves; and we have the means of showing, and, indeed, of convincing you, that we have always during the past thus believed and preached.'
"When this formulary had been set forth by us, there was no room to gainsay it; but our beloved emperor himself was the first to testify that it was most orthodox, and that he coincided in opinion with it; and he exhorted the others to sign it, and to receive all the doctrine it contained, with the single addition of the one word--'consubstantial.' He explained that this term implied no bodily condition or change, for that the Son did not derive His existence from the Father either by means of division or of abscission, since an immaterial, intellectual, and incorporeal nature could not be subject to any bodily condition or change . These things must be understood as bearing a divine and mysterious signification. Thus reasoned our wisest and most religious emperor. The addition of the word consubstantial has given occasion for the composition of the following formulary:-- The Creed published by the Council.
"'We believe in one God, Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father; only-begotten, that is, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father: by Whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth: Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate, and was made man; He suffered, and rose gain the third day; He ascended into heaven, and is coming to judge both quick and dead. And we believe in the Holy Ghost. The holy Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes all who say that there was a time when the Son of God was not; that before He was begotten He was not; that He was made out of the nonexistent; or that He is of a different essence and of a different substance from the Father and that He is susceptible of variation or change.'
"When they had set forth this formulary, we did not leave without examination that passage in which it is said that the Son is of the substance of the Father, and consubstantial with the Father. Questions and arguments thence arose, and the meaning of the terms was exactly tested. Accordingly they were led to confess that the word consubstantial signifies that the Son is of the Father, but not as being a part of the Father. We deemed it right to receive this opinion; for that is sound doctrine which teaches that the Son is of the Father, but not part of His substance. From the love of peace, and lest we should fall from the true belief, we also accept this view, neither do we reject the term 'consubstantial.' For the same reason we admitted the expression, 'begotten, but not made;' for they alleged that the word 'made' applies generally to all things which were created by the Son, to which the Son is in no respect similar; and that consequently He is not a created thing, like the things made by Him, but is of a substance superior to all created objects. The Holy Scriptures teach Him to be begotten of the Father, by a mode of generation which is 'incomprehensible and inexplicable to all created beings. So also the term 'of one substance with the Father,' when investigated, was accepted not in accordance with bodily relations or similarity to mortal beings. For it was also shown that it does not either imply division of substance, nor abscission, nor any modification or change or diminution in the power of the Father, all of which are alien from the nature of the unbegotten Father. It was concluded that the expression 'being of one substance with the Father,' implies that the Son of God does not resemble, in any one respect, the creatures which He has made; but that to the Father alone, who begat Him, He is in all points perfectly like: for He is of the essence and of the substance of none save of the Father. This interpretation having been given of the doctrine, it appeared right to us to assent to it, especially as we were aware that of the ancients some learned and celebrated bishops and writers have used the term ' consubstantial' with respect to the divinity of the Father and of the Son.
"These are the circumstances which I had to communicate respecting the published formulary of the faith. To it we all agreed, not without investigation, but, after having subjected the views submitted to us to thorough examination in the presence of our most beloved emperor, for the above reasons we all acquiesced in it. We also allowed that the anathema appended by them to their formulary of faith should be accepted, because it prohibits the use of words which are not scriptural; through which almost all the disorder and troubles of the Church have arisen. And since no passage of the inspired Scripture uses the terms 'out of the non-existent,' or that 'there was a time when He was not,' nor indeed any of the other phrases of the same class, it did not appear reasonable to assert or to teach such things. In this opinion, therefore, we judged it fight to agree; since, indeed, we had never, at any former period, been accustomed to use such terms . Moreover, the condemnation of the assertion that before He was begotten He was not, did not appear to involve any incongruity, because all assent to the fact that He was the Son of God before He was begotten according to the flesh. And here our emperor, most beloved by God, began to reason concerning His divine origin, and His existence before all ages. He was virtually in the Father without generation, even before He was actually begotten, the Father having always been the Father, just as He has always been a King and a Saviour, and, virtually, all things, and has never known any change of being or action.
"We have thought it requisite, beloved brethren, to transmit you an account of these circumstances, in order to show you what examination and investigation we bestowed on all the questions which we had to decide; and also to prove how at one time we resisted firmly, even to the last hour, when doctrines improperly expressed offended us, and, at another time, we, without contention, accepted the articles which contained nothing objectionable, when after a thorough and candid investigation of their signification, they appeared perfectly comformable with what had been confessed by us in the formulary of faith which we had published."
CHAPTER XII. Confutation of the blasphemies of the Arians of our time, from the writings of Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea.
EUSEBIUS clearly testifies that the aforesaid term "consubstantial" is not a new one, nor the invention of the fathers assembled at the council; but that, from the very first it has been handed down from father to son. He states that all those then assembled unanimously received the creed then published; and he again bears testimony to the same fact in another work, in which he highly extols the conduct of the great Constantine. He writes as follows :--
"The emperor having delivered this discourse in Latin, it was translated into Greek by an interpreter, and then he gave liberty of speech to the leaders of the council. Some at once began to bring forward complaints against their neighbours, while others had recourse to recriminations and reproaches. Each party had much to urge, and at the beginning the debate waxed very violent. The emperor patiently and attentively listened to all that was advanced, and gave furl attention to what was urged by each party in turn. He calmly endeavoured to reconcile the conflicting parties; addressing them mildly in Greek, of which language he was not ignorant, in a sweet and gentle manner. Some he convinced by argument, others he put to the blush; he commended those who had spoken well, and excited all to unanimity; until, at length, he reduced them all to oneness of mind and opinion on all the disputed points, so that they all agreed to hold the same faith, and to celebrate the festival of Salvation upon the same day. What had been decided was committed to writing, and was signed by all the bishops."
Soon after the author thus continues the narrative:--
"When matters had been thus arranged, the emperor gave them permission to return to their own dioceses. They returned with great joy, and have ever since continued to be of the one opinion, agreed upon in the presence of the emperor, and, though once widely separated, now united together, as it were, in one body. Constantine, rejoicing in the success of his efforts, made known these happy results by letter to those who were at a distance. He ordered large sums of money to be liberally distributed both among the inhabitants of the country and of the cities, in order that the twentieth anniversary of his reign might be celebrated with public festivities."
Although the Arians impiously gainsay the statements of the other fathers, yet they ought to believe what has been written by this father, whom they have been accustomed to admire. They ought, therefore, to receive his testimony to the unanimity with which the confession of faith was signed by all. But, since they impugn the opinions of their own leaders, they ought to become acquainted with the most foul and terrible manner of the death of Arius and with all their powers to flee from the impious doctrine of which he was the parent. As it is likely that the mode of his death is not known by all, I shall here relate it.
CHAPTER XIII. Extract from the Letter of Athanasius on the Death of Arius .
AFTER Arius had remained a long time in Alexandria, he endeavoured riotously to obtrude himself again into the assemblies of the Church, professing to renounce his impiety, and promising to receive the confession of faith drawn up by the fathers. But not succeeding in obtaining the confidence of the divine Alexander, nor of Athanasius, who followed Alexander alike in the patriarchate and in piety, he, helped and encouraged by Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, betook himself to Constantinople. The intrigues upon which he then entered, and their punishment by the righteous Judge are all best narrated by the excellent Athanasius, in his letter to Apion . I shall therefore now insert this passage in my work. He writes:--
"I was not at Constantinople when he died: but Macarius, the presbyter, was there, and from him I learnt all the circumstances. The emperor Constantine was induced by Eusebius and his party to send for Arius. Upon his arrival, the emperor asked him whether he held the faith of the Catholic church. Arius then swore that his faith was orthodox, and presented a written summary of his belief; concealing, however, the reasons of his ejection from the Church by the bishop Alexander, and making a dishonest use of the language of Holy Scripture. When, therefore, he had declared upon oath that he did not hold the errors for which he had been expelled from the Church by Alexander, Constantine dismissed him, saying, 'If thy faith is orthodox, thou hast well sworn; but if thy faith is impious and yet thou hast sworn, let God from heaven judge thee.' When he quitted the emperor, the partizans of Eusebius, with their usual violence, desired to conduct him into the church; but Alexander, of blessed memory, bishop of Constantinople, refused his permission, alleging that the inventor of the heresy ought not to be admitted into communion. Then at last the partizans of Eusebius pronounced the threat 'As, against your will, we succeeded in prevail ins on the emperor to send for Arius, so now, even if you forbid it, shall Arius join in communion with us in this church to-morrow.' It was on Saturday that they said this. The bishop Alexander, deeply grieved at what he had heard, went into the church and poured forth his lamentations, raising his hands in supplication to God, and throwing himself on his face on the pavement in the sanctuary, prayed. Macarius went in with him, prayed with him, and heard his prayers. He asked one of two things. 'If Arius,' said he, 'is to be joined to the Church to-morrow, let me Thy servant departs and do not destroy the pious with the impious. if Thou wilt spare Thy Church, and I know that Thou dost spare her, look upon the words of the followers of Eusebius, and give not over Thy heritage to destruction and to shame. Remove Arius, lest if he come into the Church, heresy seem to come in with him, and impiety be hereafter deemed piety.' Having thus prayed, the bishop left the church deeply anxious, and then a horrible and extraordinary catastrophe ensued. The followers of Eusebius had launched out into threats, while the bishop had recourse to prayer. Arius, emboldened by the protection of his party, delivered many trifling and foolish speeches, when he was suddenly compelled by a call of nature to retire, and immediately, as it is written, 'falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst,' and gave up the ghost, being deprived at once both of communion and of life. This, then, was the end of Arius . The followers of Eusebius were covered with shame, and buried him whose belief they shared. The blessed Alexander completed the celebration, rejoicing with the Church in piety and orthodoxy, praying with all the brethren and greatly glorifying God. This was not because he rejoiced at the death of Arius--God forbid; for 'it is appointed unto all men once to die,' but because the event plainly transcended any human condemnation. For the Lord Himself passing judgment upon the menaces of the followers of Eusebius, and the prayer of Alexander, condemned the Arian heresy, and shewed that it was unworthy of being received into the communion of the Church; thus manifesting to all that, even if it received the countenance and support of the emperor, and of all men, yet by truth itself it stood condemned."
These were the first fruits, reaped by Arius, of those pernicious seeds which he had himself sown, and formed the prelude to the punishments that awaited him hereafter. His impiety was condemned by his punishment.
I shall now turn my narrative to the piety of the emperor. He addressed a letter to all the subjects of the Roman empire, exhorting them to renounce their former errors, and to embrace the doctrines of our Saviour, and trying to guide them to this truth. He stirred up the bishops in every city to build churches, and encouraged them not only by his letter, but also by presenting them with large sums of money, and defraying all the expenses of building. This his own letter sets forth, which was after this manner:--
CHAPTER XIV. Letter written by the Emperor Constantine respecting the building of Churches .
"CONSTANTINUS AUGUSTUS, the great and the victorious, to Eusebius.
"I am well aware, and am thoroughly convinced, my beloved brother, that as the servants of our Saviour Christ have been suffering up to the present time from nefarious machinations and tyrannical persecutions, the fabrics of all the churches must have either fallen into utter ruin from neglect, or, through apprehension of the impending iniquity, have been reduced below their proper dignity. But now that freedom is restored, and that dragon, through the providence of God, and by our instrumentality, thrust out from the government of the Empire, I think that the divine power has become known to all, and that those who hitherto, from fear or from incredulity or from depravity, have lived in error, will now, upon becoming acquainted with Him who truly is, be led into the true and correct manner of life. Exert yourself, therefore, diligently in the reparation of the churches under your own jurisdiction, and admonish the principal bishops, priests, and deacons of other places to engage zealously in the same work; in order that all the churches which still exist may be repaired or enlarged, and that new ones may be built wherever they are required. You, and others through your intervention, can apply to magistrates and to provincial governments, for all that may be necessary for this purpose; for they have received written injunctions to render zealous obedience to whatever your holiness may command. May God preserve you, beloved brother."
Thus the emperor wrote to the bishops in each province respecting the building of churches. From his letter to Eusebius of Palestine, it is easily learnt what measures he adopted to obtain copies of the Holy Bible .
CHAPTER XV. The Epistle of Constantine concerning the preparation of copies of the Holy Scriptures.
"CONSTANTINUS AUGUSTUS, the great and the victorious, to Eusebius.
"In the city which bears our name, a great number of persons have, through the providential care of God the Saviour, united themselves to the holy Church. As all things there are in a state of rapid improvement, we deemed it most important that an additional number of churches should be built. Adopt joyfully the mode of procedure determined upon by us, which we have thought expedient to make known to your prudence, namely, that you should get written, on fine parchment, fifty volumes, easily legible and handy for use; these you must have transcribed by skilled calligraphers, accurately acquainted with their art. I mean, of course, copies of the Holy Scriptures, which, as you know, it is most necessary that the congregation of the Church should both have and use. A letter has been sent from our clemency to the catholicus of the diocese, in order that he may be careful that everything necessary for the undertaking is supplied. The duty devolving upon you is to take measures to ensure the completion of these manuscripts within a short space of time. When they are finished, you are authorised by this letter to order two public carriages for the purpose of transmitting them to us; and thus the fair manuscripts will be easily submitted to our inspection. Appoint one of the deacons of your church to take charge of this part of the business; when he comes to us, he shall receive proofs of our benevolence. May God preserve you, beloved brother."
What has been already said is enough to shew, nay to clearly prove, how great zeal the emperor manifested on the matters of religion. I will, however, add his noble acts with regard to the Sepulchre of our Saviour. For having learnt that the idolaters, in their frantic rage, had heaped earth over the Lord's tomb, eager thus to destroy all remembrance of His Salvation, and had built over it a temple to the goddess of unbridled lust, in mockery of the Virgin's birth, the emperor ordered the foul shrine to be demolished, and the soil polluted with abominable sacrifices to be carried away and thrown out far from the city, and a new temple of great size and beauty to be erected on the site. All this is clearly set forth in the letter which he wrote to the president of the church of Jerusalem, Macarius, whom we have already mentioned as a member of the great Nicene Council, and united with his brethren in withstanding the blasphemies of Arius. The following is the letter.
CHAPTER XVI. Letter from the Emperor to Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, concerning the building of the Holy Church.
"CONSTANTINUS, the victorious and the great, to Macarius.
"The grace of our Saviour is so wonderful, that no words are adequate to express the present marvel. The fact that the monument of His most holy sufferings should have remained concealed beneath the earth, during so long a course of years, until the time when, on the death of the common enemy of all, it was destined to shine forth on His liberated servants, surpasses every other subject of admiration. If all the wise men throughout the world were collected into one place, and were to endeavour to express themselves worthily of it, they could not approach within an infinite distance of it; for this miracle is as much beyond all human power of belief, as heavenly things by their nature are mightier than human. Hence it is my first and only object that, as by new miracles the faith in the truth is daily confirmed, so the minds of us all may be more earnestly devoted to the holy law, wisely, zealously, and with one accord. As my design is, I think, now generally known, I desire that you, above all, should be assured that my most intense anxiety is to decorate with beautiful edifices that consecrated spot, which by God's command I have relieved from the burden of the foul idol which encumbered it. For from the beginning He declared it holy, and has rendered it still more holy from the time that He brought to light the proof and memorial of the sufferings of our Lord.
I trust, then, to your sagacity to take every necessary care, not only that the basilica itself surpass all others; but that all its arrangements be such that this braiding may be incomparably superior to the most beautiful structures in every city throughout the world. We have entrusted our friend Dracilianus, who discharges the functions of the most illustrious praefect of the province, with the superintendence of the work of the erection and decoration of the walls. He has received our orders to engage workmen and artisans, and to provide all that you may deem requisite for the building. Let us know, by letter, when you have inspected the work, what columns or marbles you consider would be most ornamental, in order that whatever you may inform us is necessary for the work may be conveyed thither from all quarters of the world. For that which is of all places the most wonderful, ought to be decorated in accordance with its dignity. I wish to learn from you whether you think that the vaulted roof of the basilica ought to be panelled, or to be adorned in some other way; for if it is to be panelled it may also be gilt. Your holiness must signify to the aforesaid officers, as soon as possible, what workmen and artificers, and what sums of money, are requisite; and let me know promptly not only about the marbles and columns, but also about the panelled ceiling, if you decide that this will be the most beautiful mode of construction.May God preserve you, beloved brother ."
CHAPTER XVII. Helena, Mother of the Emperor Constantine.-- Her zeal in the Erection of the Holy Church.
THE bearer of these letters was no less illustrious a personage than the mother of the emperor, even she who was glorious in her offspring, whose piety was celebrated by all; she who brought forth that great luminary and nurtured him in piety. She did not shrink from the fatigue of the journey on account of her extreme old age, but undertook it a little before her death, which occurred in her eightieth year . When the empress beheld the place where the Saviour suffered, she immediately ordered the idolatrous temple, which had been there erected, to be destroyed, and the very earth on which it stood to be removed. When the tomb, which had been so long concealed, was discovered, three crosses were seen buried near the Lord's sepulchre. All held it as certain that one of these crosses was that of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that the other two were those of the thieves who were crucified with Him. Yet they could not discern to which of the three the Body of the Lord had been brought nigh, and which had received the outpouring of His precious Blood. But the wise and holy Macarius, the president of the city, resolved this question in the following manner. He caused a lady of rank, who had been long suffering from disease, to be touched by each of the crosses, with earnest prayer, and thus discerned the virtue residing in that of the Saviour. For the instant this cross was brought near the lady, it expelled the sore disease, and made her whole.
The mother of the emperor, on learning the accomplishment of her desire, gave orders that a portion of the nails should be inserted in the royal helmet, in order that the head of her son might be preserved from the darts of his enemies . The other portion of the nails she ordered to be formed into the bridle of his horse, not only to ensure the safety of the emperor, but also to fulfil an ancient prophecy; for long before Zechariah, the prophet, had predicted that "There shall be upon the bridles of the horses Holiness unto the Lord Almighty ."
She had part of the cross of our Saviour conveyed to the palace . The rest was enclosed in a covering of silver, and committed to the care of the bishop of the city, whom she exhorted to preserve it carefully, in order that it might be transmitted uninjured to posterity . She then sent everywhere for workmen and for materials, and caused the most spacious and most magnificent churches to be erected. It is unnecessary to describe their beauty and grandeur; for all the pious, if I may so speak, hasten thither and behold the magnificence of the buildings .
This celebrated and admirable empress performed another action worthy of being remembered. She assembled all the women who had vowed perpetual virginity, and placing them on couches, she herself fulfilled the duties of a handmaid, serving them with food and handing them cups and pouring out wine, and bringing a basin and pitcher, and pouring out water to wash their hands.
After performing these and other laudable actions, the empress returned to her son, and not long after, she joyfully entered upon the other and a better life, after having given her son much pious advice and her fervent parting blessing. Alter her death, those honours were rendered to her memory which her stedfast and zealous service to God deserved .
CHAPTER XVIII. The unlawful Translation of Eusebius, Bishop of Nicomedia.
THE Arian party did not desist from their evil machinations. They had only signed the confession of faith for the purpose of disguising themselves in sheeps'-skins, while they were acting the part of wolves. The holy Alexander, of Byzantium, for the city was not yet called Constantinople, who by his prayer had pierced Arius to the heart, had, at the period to which we are referring, been translated to a better life. Eusebius, the propagator of impiety, little regarding the definition which, only a short time previously, he with the other bishops had agreed upon, without delay quitted Nicomedia and seized upon the see of Constantinople, in direct violation of that canon which prohibits bishops and presbyters from being translated from one city to another. But that those who carry their infatuation so far as to deny the divinity of the only-begotten Son of God, should likewise violate the other laws, cannot excite surprise. Nor was this the first occasion that he made this innovation; for, having been originally entrusted with the see of Berytus, he leapt from thence to Nicomedia. Whence he was expelled by the synod, on account of his manifest impiety, as was likewise Theognis, bishop of Nicaea. This is related a second time in the letters of the emperor Constantine; and I shall here insert the close of the letter which he wrote to the Nicomedians.
CHAPTER XIX. Epistle of the Emperor Constantine against Eusebius and Theognis, addressed to the Nicomedians.
"WHO has taught these doctrines to the innocent multitude? It is manifestly Eusebius, the co-operator in the cruelty of the tyrants. For that he was the creature of the tyrant has been clearly shown; and, indeed, is proved by the slaughter of the bishops, and by the fact that these victims were true bishops. The relentless persecution of the Christians proclaims this fact aloud.
"I shall not here say anything of the insults directed against me, by which the conspiracies of the opposite faction were mainly carried out. But he went so far as to send spies to watch me, and scarcely refrained from raising troops in aid of the tyrant. Let not any one imagine that I allege what I am not prepared to prove. I am in possession of clear evidence; for I have caused the bishops and presbyters belonging to his following to be seized. But I pass over all these facts. I only mention them for the purpose of making these persons ashamed of their conduct, and not from any feeling of resentment.
"There is one thing I fear, one thing which causes me anxiety, and that is to see you charged as accomplices; for you are influenced by the doctrines of Eusebius, and have thus been led away from the truth. But your cure will be speedy, if, after obtaining a bishop who holds pure and faithful doctrines, you will but look unto God. This depends upon you alone; and you would, no doubt, have thus acted long ago, had not the aforesaid Eusebius come here, strongly supported by those then in power, and overturned all discipline.
"As it is necessary to say something more about Eusebius, your patience will remember thai a council was held in the city of Nicaea, at which, in obedience to my conscience, I was present, being actuated by no other motive than the desire of producing unanimity among all, and before all else of proving and dispelling the mischief which originated from the infatuation of Arius of Alexandria, and was straightway strengthened by the absurd and pernicious machinations of Eusebius. But, beloved and much-honoured brethren, you know not how earnestly and how disgracefully Eusebius, although convicted by the testimony of his own conscience, persevered in the support of the false doctrines which had been universally condemned. He secretly sent persons to me to petition on his behalf, and personally intreated my assistance in preventing his being ejected from his bishopric, although his crimes had been fully detected. God, who, I trust, will continue His goodness towards you and towards me, is witness to the truth of what I say. I was then myself deluded and deceived by Eusebius, as you shall well know. In everything he acted according to his own desire, his mind being full of every kind of secret evil.
"Omitting the relation of the rest of his misdeeds, it is well that you should be informed of the crime which he lately perpetrated in concert with Theognis, the accomplice of his folly. I had sent orders for the apprehension of certain individuals in Alexandria who had deserted our faith, and by whose means the firebrand of dissension was kindled. But these good gentlemen, forsooth, bishops, whom, by the clemency of the council, I had reserved for penitence, not only received them under their protection, but also participated in their evil deeds. Hence I came to the determination to punish these ungrateful men, by apprehending and banishing them to some far-distant region.
"It is now your duty to look unto God with that same faith which it is clear that you have ever held, and in which it is fitting you should abide. So let us have cause of rejoicing in the appointment of pure, orthodox, and beneficent bishops. If any one should make mention of those destroyers, or presume to speak in their praise, let him know that his audacity will be repressed by the authority which has been committed to me as the servant of God. May God preserve you, beloved brethren!"
The above-mentioned bishops were then deposed and banished. Amphion was entrusted with the church of Nicomedia, and Chrestus with that of Nicaea. But the exiled bishops, employing their customary artifices, abused the benevolence of the emperor, renewed the previous contests, and regained their former power.
CHAPTER XX. The artful Machinations of Eusebius and his followers against the Holy Eustathius, Bishop of Antioch.
EUSEBIUS, as I have already stated, seized the diocese of Constantinople by force. And thus having acquired great power in that city, frequently visiting and holding familiar intercourse with the emperor, he gained confidence and formed plots against those who were foremost in the support of the truth. He at first reigned a desire of going to Jerusalem, to see the celebrated edifices there erected: and the emperor, who was deceived by his flattery, allowed him to set out with the utmost honour, providing him with carriages, and the rest of his equipage and retinue. Theognis, bishop of Nicaea, who, as we have before said, was his accomplice in his evil designs, travelled with him. When they arrived at Antioch, they put on the mask of friendship, and were received with the utmost deference. Eustathius, the great champion of the faith treated them with fraternal kindness. When they arrived at the holy places, they had an interview with those who were of the same opinions as themselves, namely, Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, Patrophilus, bishop of Scythopolis, Aetius, bishop of Lydda, Theodotus, bishop of Laodicea, and others who had imbibed the Arian sentiments; they made known the plot they had hatched to them, and went with them to Antioch. The pretext for their journey was, that due honour might be rendered to Eusebius; but their real motive was their war against religion. They bribed a low woman, who made a traffic of her beauty, to sell them her tongue, and then repaired to the council, and when all the spectators had been ordered to retire, they introduced the wretched woman. She held a babe in her arms, of which she loudly and impudently affirmed that Eustathius was the father. Eustathius, conscious of his innocence, asked her whether she could bring forward any witness to prove what she had advanced. She replied that she could not: yet these equitable judges admitted her to oath, although it is said in the law, that "at the mouth of two or three witnesses shall the matter be established;" and the apostle says, "against an elder receive not any accusation but before two or three witnesses " But they despised these divine laws, and admitted the accusation against this great man without any witnesses. When the woman had again declared upon oath that Eustathius was the father of the babe, these truth-loving judges condemned him as an adulterer. When the other bishops, who upheld the apostolical doctrines, being ignorant of all these intrigues, openly opposed the sentence, and advised Eustathius not to submit to it, the originators of the plot promptly repaired to the emperor, and endeavoured to persuade him that the accusation was true, and the sentence of deposition just; and they succeeded in obtaining the banishment of this champion of piety and chastity, as an adulterer and a tyrant. He was conducted across Thrace to a city of Illyricum .
CHAPTER XXI. Bishops of Heretical opinions ordained in Antioch after the Banishment of St. Eustathius .
EULALIUS was first consecrated in place of Eustathius. But Eulalius surviving his elevation only a short period, it was intended that Eusebius of Palestine should be translated to this bishopric. Eusebius, however, refused the appointment, and the emperor forbade its being conferred on him. Next Euphronius was put forward, who also dying, after a lapse of only one year and a few months, the see was conferred on Flaccillus . All these bishops secretly clung to the Arian heresy. Hence it was that most of those individuals, whether of the clergy or of the laity, who valued the true religion, left the churches and formed assemblies among themselves. They were called Eustathians, since it was after the banishment of Eustathius that they began to hold their meetings. The wretched woman above-mentioned was soon after attacked by a severe and protracted illness, and then avowed the imposture in which she had been engaged, and made known the whole plot, not only to two or three, but to a very large number of priests. She confessed that she had been bribed to bring this false and impudent charge, but yet that her oath was not altogether false, as a certain Eustathius, a coppersmith, was the father of the babe. Such were some of the crimes perpetrated in Antioch by this most excellent faction.
CHAPTER XXII. Conversion of the Indians .
AT this period, the light of the knowledge of God was for the first time shed upon India. The courage and the piety of the emperor had become celebrated throughout the world; and the barbarians, having learnt by experience to choose peace rather than war, were able to enjoy intercourse with one another without fear. Many persons, therefore, set out on long journeys some for the desire of making discoveries, others from a spirit of commercial enterprise. About this period a native of Tyre, acquainted with Greek philosophy, desiring to penetrate into the interior of India, set off for this purpose with his two young nephews. When he had accomplished the object of his wishes, he embarked for his own country. The ship being compelled to put in to land in order to obtain a fresh supply of water, the barbarians fell upon her, drowned some of the crew, and took the others prisoners. The uncle was among the number of those who were killed, and the lads were conducted to the king. The name of the one was AEdesius, and of the other Frumentius. The king of the country, in course of time, perceiving their intelligence, promoted them to the superintendence of his household. If any one should doubt the truth of this account, let him recal to mind the history of Joseph in the kingdom of Egypt, and also the history of Daniel, and of the three champions of the truth, who, from being captives, became princes of Babylon. The king died; but these young men remained with his son, and were advanced to still greater power. As they had been brought up in the true religion, they exhorted the merchants who visited the country to assemble, according to the custom of Romans, to take part in the divine liturgy. After a considerable time they solicited the king to reward their services by permitting them to return to their own country. They obtained his permission, and safely reached Roman territory. AEdesius directed his course towards Tyre, but Frumentius, whose religious zeal was greater than the natural feeling of affection for his relatives, proceeded to Alexandria, and informed the bishop of that city that the Indians were deeply anxious to obtain spiritual light. Athanasius then held the rudder of that church; he heard the story, and then "Who," said he, "better than you yourself can scatter the mists of ignorance, and introduce among this people the light of Divine preaching?" After having said this, he conferred upon him the episcopal dignity, and sent him to the spiritual culture of that nation. The newly-ordained bishop left this country, caring nothing for the mighty ocean, and returned to the untilled ground of his work. There, having the grace of God to labour with him, he cheerfully and successfully played the husbandman, catching those who sought to gainsay his words by works of apostolic wonder, and thus, by these marvels, confirming his teaching, he continued each day to take many souls alive .
CHAPTER XXIII. Conversion of the Iberians .
FRUMENTIUS thus led the Indians to the knowledge of God. Iberia, about the same time, was guided into the way of truth by a captive woman . She continued instant in prayer, allowing herself no softer bed than a sack spread upon the ground, and accounted fasting her highest luxury. This austerity was rewarded by gifts similar to those of the Apostles. The barbarians, who were ignorant of medicine, were accustomed, when attacked by disease, to go to one another's houses, in order to ask those who had suffered in a similar way, and had got well, by what means they had been cured. In accordance with this custom, a mother who had a sick child, repaired to this admirable woman, to enquire if she knew of any cure for the disease. The latter took the child, placed it upon her bed, and prayed to the Creator of the world to be propitious to it, and cure the disease. He heard her prayer, and made it whole. This extraordinary woman hence obtained great celebrity; and the queen, who was suffering from a severe disease, hearing of her by report, sent for her. The captive held herself in very low estimation, and would not accept the invitation of the queen. But the queen, forced by her sore need, and careless of her royal dignity, herself ran to the captive. The latter made the queen lie down upon her mean bed, and once again applied to her disease the efficacious remedy of prayer. The queen was healed, and offered as rewards for her cure, gold, silver, tunics, and mantles, and such gifts as she thought worthy of possession, and such as royal munificence should bestow. The holy woman told her that she did not want any of these, but that she would deem her greatest reward to be the queen's knowledge of true religion. She then, as far as in her lay, explained the Divine doctrines, and exhorted her to erect a church in honour of Christ who had made her whole. The queen then returned to the palace, and excited the admiration of her consort, by the suddenness of her cure; she then made known to him the power of that God whom the captive adored, and besought him to acknowledge the one only God, and to erect a church to Him, and to lead all the nation to worship Him. The king was greatly delighted with the miracle which had been performed upon the queen, but he would not consent to erect a church. A short time after he went out hunting, and the loving Lord made a prey of him as He did of Paul; for a sudden darkness enveloped him and forbade him to move from the spot; while those who were hunting with him enjoyed the customary sunlight, and he alone was bound with the fetters of blindness. In his perplexity he found a way of escape, for calling to mind his former unbelief, he implored the help of the God of the captive woman, and immediately the darkness was dispelled. He then went to the marvellous captive, and asked her to shew him how a church ought to be built. He who once filled Bezaleel with architectural skill, graciously enabled this woman to devise the plan of a church. The woman set about the plan, and men began to dig and build. When the edifice was completed, the roof put on, and every thing supplied except the priests, this admirable woman found means to obtain these also. For she persuaded the king to send an embassy to the Roman emperor asking for teachers of religion. The king accordingly despatched an embassy for the purpose. The emperor Constantine, who was warmly attached to the cause of religion, when informed of the purport of the embassy, gladly welcomed the ambassadors, and selected a bishop endowed with great faith, wisdom, and virtue, and presenting him with many gifts, sent him to the iberians, that he might make known to them the true God. Not content with having granted the requests of the Iberians, he of his own accord undertook the protection of the Christians in Persia; for, learning that they were persecuted by the heathens, and that their king himself, a slave to error, was contriving various cunning plots for their destruction, he wrote to him, entreating him to embrace the Christian religion himself, as well as to honour its professors. His own letter will render his earnestness in the cause the plainer.
CHAPTER XXIV. Letter written by the Emperor Constantine to Sapor, the King of Persia, respecting the Christians.
"IN protecting the holy faith I enjoy the light of truth, and by following the light of truth I attain to fuller knowlege of the faith. Therefore, as facts prove, I recognize that most holy worship as teaching the knowledge of the most holy God. This service I profess. With the Power of this God for my ally, beginning at the furthest boundaries of the ocean, I have, one after another, quickened every part of the world with hope. Now all the peoples once enslaved by many tyrants, worn by their daily miseries, and almost extinct, have been kindled to fresh life by receiving the protection of the State.
"The God I reverence is He whose emblem my dedicated troops bear on their shoulders, marching whithersoever the cause of justice leads them, and rewarding me by their splendid victories. I confess that I reverence this God with eternal remembrance. Him, who dwelleth in the highest heavens, I contemplate with pure and unpolluted mind. On Him I call on bended knees, shunning all abominable blood, all unseemly and illomened odours, all fire of incantation, and all pollution by which unlawful and shameful error has destroyed whole nations and hurled them down to hell.
"God does not permit those gifts which, in His beneficent Providence, He has bestowed upon men for the supply of their wants to be perverted according to every man's desire. He only requires of men a pure mind and a spotless soul, and by these He weighs their deeds of virtue and piety. He is pleased with gentleness and modesty; He loves the meek, and hates those who excite contentions; He loves faith, chastises unbelief; He breaks all power of boasting, and punishes the insolence of the proud . Men exalted with pride He utterly overthrows, and rewards the humble and the patient according to their deserts. Of a just sovereignty He maketh much, strengthens it by His aid, and guards the counsels of Princes with the blessing of peace.
"I know that I am not in error, my brother, when I confess that this God is the Ruler and the Father of all men, a truth which many who preceded me upon the imperial throne were so deluded by error as to attempt to deny. But their end was so dreadful that they have become a fearful warning to all mankind, to deter others from similar iniquity . Of these I count that man one whom the wrath of God, like a thunderbolt, drove hence into your country, and who made notorious the memorial of his shame which exists in your own land(10). Indeed it appears to have been well ordered that the age in which we live should be distinguished by the open and manifest punishments inflicted on such persons. I myself have witnessed the end of those who have persecuted the people of God by unlawful edicts. Hence it is that I more especially thank God for having now, by His special Providence, restored peace to those who observe His law, in which they exalt and rejoice.
"I am led to expect future happiness and security whenever God in His goodness unites all men in the exercise of the one pure and true religion. You may therefore well understand how exceedingly I rejoice to hear that the finest provinces of Persia are adorned abundantly with men of this class; I mean Christians; for it is of them I am speaking. All then is well with you and with them, for you will have the Lord of all merciful and beneficent to you. Since then you are so mighty and so pious, I commend the Christians to your care, and leave them in your protection. Treat them, I beseech you, with the affection that befits your goodness. Your fidelity in this respect will confer on yourself and on us inexpressible benefits."
This excellent emperor felt so much solicitude for all who had embraced the true religion, that he not only watched over those who were his own subjects, but also over the subjects of other sovereigns. For this reason he was blessed with the special protection of God, so that although he held the reins of the whole of Europe and of Africa, and the greater part of Asia, his subjects were all well disposed to his rule, and obedient to his government. Foreign nations submitted to his sway, some by voluntary submission, others overcome in war. Trophies were everywhere erected, and the emperor was styled Victorious.
The praises of Constantine have, however, been proclaimed by many other writers. We must resume the thread of our history. This emperor, who deserves the highest fame, devoted his whole mind to matters worthy of the apostles, while men who had been admitted to the sacerdotal dignity not only neglected to edify the church, but endeavoured to uproot it from the very foundations. They invented all manner of false accusations against those who governed the church in accordance with the doctrines taught by the apostles, and did their best to depose and banish them. Their envy was not satisfied by the infamous falsehood which they had invented against Eustathius, but they had recourse to every artifice to effect the overthrow of another great bulwark of religion. These tragic occurrences I shall now relate as concisely as possible.
CHAPTER XXV. An account of the plot formed against the Holy Athanasius.
ALEXANDER, that admirable bishop, who had successfully withstood the blasphemies of Arius, died five months after the council of Nicaea, and was succeeded in the episcopate of the church of Alexandria by Athanasius. Trained from his youth in sacred studies, Athanasius had attracted general admiration in each ecclesiastical office that he filled. He had, at the general council, so defended the doctrines of the apostles, that while he won the approbation of all the champions of the truth, its opponents learned to look on their antagonist as a personal foe and public enemy. He had attended the council as one of the retinue of Alexander, then a very young man, although he was the principal deacon .
When those who had denied the only-begotten Son of God heard that the helm of the Church of Alexandria had been entrusted to his hands knowing as they did by experience his zeal for the truth, they thought that his rule would prove the destruction of their authority. They, therefore, resorted to the following machinations against him. In order to avert suspicion, they bribed some of the adherents of Meletius, who, although deposed by the council of Nicaea, had persevered in exciting commotions in the Thebaid and in the adjacent part of Egypt, and persuaded them to go to the emperor, and to accuse Athanasius of levying a tax upon Egypt, and giving the gold collected to a certain man who was preparing to usurp the imperial power . The emperor being deceived by this story, Athanasius was brought to Constantinople. Upon his arrival he proved that the accusation was false, and had the charge given him by God restored to him. This is shown by a letter from the emperor to the Church of Alexandria of which I shall transcribe only the concluding paragraph.
A Portion of the Letter from the Emperor Constantine to the Alexandrians.
"BELIEVE me, my brethren, the wicked men were unable to effect anything against your bishop. They surely could have had no other design than to waste our time, and to leave themselves no place for repentance in this life. Do you, therefore, help yourselves, and love, that which wins your love; and exert all your power in the expulsion of those who wish to destroy your concord. Look unto God, and love one another. I joyfully welcomed Athanasius your bishop; and I have conversed with him as with one whom I know to be a man of God."
CHAPTER XXVI. Another plot against Athanasius.
THE calumniators of Athanasius, however, did not desist from their attempts. On the contrary, they devised so bold a fiction against him, that it surpassed every invention of the ancient writers of the tragic or comic stage. They again bribed individuals of the same party, and brought them before the emperor, vociferously accusing that champion of virtue of many abominable crimes. The leaders of the party were Eusebius, Theognis, and Theodorus, bishop of Perinthus, a city now called Heraclea . After having accused Athanasius of crimes which they described as too shocking to be tolerated, or even listened to, they persuaded the emperor to convene a council at Caesarea in Palestine, where Athanasius had many enemies, and to command that his cause should be there tried. The emperor, utterly ignorant of the plot that had been devised, was persuaded by them to give the required order.
But the holy Athanasius, well aware of the malevolence of those who were to try him, refused to appear at the council. This served as a pretext to those who opposed the truth to criminate him still further; and they accused him before the emperor of contumacy and arrogance. Nor were their hopes altogether frustrated; for the emperor, although exceedingly forbearing, became exasperated by their representations, and wrote to him in an angry manner, commanding him to repair to Tyre. Here the council was ordered to assemble, from the suspicion, as I think, that Athanasius had an apprehension of Caesarea on account of its bishop. The emperor wrote also to the council in a style consistent with his devoted piety. His letter is as follows.
CHAPTER XXVII. Epistle of the Emperor Constantine to the Council of Tyre .
"CONSTANTINUS AUGUSTUS to the holy council assembled in Tyre.
"In the general prosperity which distinguishes the present time, it seems right that the Catholic Church should likewise be exempt from trouble, and that the servants of Christ should be freed from every reproach.
"But certain individuals instigated by the mad desire of contention, not to say leading a life unworthy of their profession, are endeavoring to throw all into disorder. This appears to me to be the greatest of all possible calamities. I beseech you, therefore, in post haste, as the phrase goes, to assemble together, without any delay, in formal synod; so that you may support those who require your assistance. heal the brethren who are in danger, restore unanimity to the divided members, and rectify the disorders of the Church while time permits; and thus restore to those great provinces the harmony which, alas! the arrogance of a few men has destroyed. I believe every one would admit that you could not perform anything so pleasing in the sight of God, so surpassing all my prayers as well as your own, or so conducive to your own reputation, as to restore peace.
"Do not ye therefore delay, but when you have come together with all that sincerity and fidelity which our Saviour demands of alI His servants, almost in words that we can hear, endeavour with redoubled eagerness to put a fitting end to these dissensions.
"Nothing shall be omitted on my part to further the interests of our religion. I have done all that you recommended in your letters. I have sent to those bishops whom you specified, directing them to repair to the council for the purpose of deliberating with you upon ecclesiastical matters. I have also sent Dionysius, a man of consular rank, to counsel those who are to sit in synod with you, and to be himself an eye witness of your proceedings, and particularly of the order and regularity that is maintained. If any one should dare on the present occasion also to disobey our command, and refuse to come to the council, which, however, I do not anticipate, an officer will be despatched immediately to send him into banishment by imperial order, that he may learn not to oppose the decrees enacted by the emperor for the support of truth.
"All that now devolves upon your holinesses is to decide with unanimous judgment, without partiality or prejudice, in accordance with the ecclesiastical and apostolical rule, and to devise suitable remedies for the offences which may have resulted from error; in order that the Church may be freed from all reproach, that my anxiety may be diminished, that peace may be restored to those now at variance, and that your renown may be increased. May God preserve you, beloved brethren."
The bishops accordingly repaired to the council of Tyre. Amongst them were those who were accused of holding heterodox doctrines; of whom Asclepas, bishop of Gaza, was one. The admirable Athanasius also attended. I shall first dwell on the tragedy of the accusation, and shall then relate the proceedings of this celebrated tribunal.
CHAPTER XXVIII. The Council of Tyre.
ARSENIUS was a bishop of the Meletian faction. The men of his party put him in a place of concealment, and charged him to remain there as long as possible. They then cut off the right hand of a corpse, embalmed it, placed it in a wooden case, and carried it about everywhere, declaring that it was the hand of Arsenius, who had been murdered by Athanasius. But the all-seeing eye did not permit Arsenius to remain long in ConCealment. He was first seen alive in Egypt; then in the Thebaid; afterwards he was led by Divine ProvidenCe to Tyre, where the hand of tragic fame was brought before the council. The friends of Athanasius hunted him up, and brought him to an inn, where they compelled him to lie hid for a time. Early in the morning the great Athanasius came to the council.
First of all a woman of lewd life was brought in, who deposed in a loud and impudent manner that she had vowed perpetual virginity, but that Athanasius, who had lodged in her house, had violated her chastity. After she had made her charge, the accused came forward, and with him a presbyter worthy of all praise, by name Timotheus. The court ordered Athanasius to reply to the indictment; but he was silent, as if he had not been Athanasius. Timotheus, however, addressed her thus: "Have I, O woman, ever conversed with you, or have I entered your house?" She replied with still greater effrontery, screaming aloud in her dispute with Timotheus, and, pointing at him with her finger, exclaimed, "It was you who robbed me of my virginity; it was you who stripped me of my chastity;" adding other indelicate expressions which are used by shameless women. The devisers of this calumny were put to shame, and all the bishops who were privy to it, blushed.
The woman was now being led out of the Court, but the great Athanasius protested that instead of sending her away they ought to examine her, and learn the name of the hatcher of the plot. Hereupon his accusers yelled and shouted that he had perpetrated other viler crimes, of which it was utterly impossible that he could by any art or ingenuity be cleared; and that eyes, not ears, would decide on the evidence. Having said this, they exhibited the famous box and exposed the embalmed hand to view. At this sight all the spectators uttered a loud cry. Some believed the accusation to be true; the others had no doubt of the falsehood, and thought that Arsenius was lurking somewhere or other in concealment. When at length, after some difficulty, a little silence was obtained, the accused asked his judges whether any of them knew Arsenius. Several of them replying that they knew him well, Athanasius gave orders that he should be brought before them. Then he again asked them, "Is this the right Arsenius? Is this the man I murdered? this the man those people mutilated after his murder by cutting off his right hand?" When they had confessed that it was the same individual, Athanasius pulled off his cloak, and exhibited two hands, both the right and the left, and said, "Let no one seek for a third hand, for man has received two hands from the Creator and no more."
Even after this plain proof the calumniators and the judges who were privy to the crime, instead of hiding themselves, or praying that the earth might open and swallow them up, raised an uproar and commotion in the assembly, and declared that Athanasius was a sorcerer, and that he had by his magical incantations bewitched the eyes of men. The very men who a moment before had accused him of murder now strove to tear him in pieces and to murder him. But those whom the emperor had entrusted with the preservation of order saved the life of Athanasius by dragging him away, and hurrying him on board a ship .
When he appeared before the emperor, he described all the dramatic plot which had been got up to ruin him. The calumniators sent bishops attached to their faction into Mareotis, viz., Theognis, bishop of Nicaea, Theodorus, bishop of Perinthus, Maris, bishop of Chalcedon, Narcissus of Cilicia, with others of the same sentiments. Mareotis is a district near Alexandria, and derives its name from the lake Maria . Here they invented other falsehoods, and, forging the reports of the trial, mixed up the charges which had been shown to be false with fresh accusations, as if they had been true, and despatched them to the emperor.
CHAPTER XXIX. Consecration of the Church of Jerusalem.-- Banishment of St. Athanasius.
ALL the bishops who were present at the council of Tyre, with all others from every quarter, were commanded by the emperor to proceed to AElia to consecrate the churches which he had there erected. The emperor despatched also a number of officials of the most kindly disposition, remarkable for piety and fidelity, whom he ordered to furnish abundant supplies of provisions, not only to the bishops and their followers, but to the vast multitudes who flocked from all parts to Jerusalem. The holy altar was decorated with imperial hangings and with golden vessels set with gems. When the splendid festival was concluded, each bishop returned to his own diocese. The emperor was highly gratified when informed of the splendour and magnificence of the function, and blessed the Author of all good for having thus granted his petition.
Athanasius having complained of his unjust condemnation, the emperor commanded the bishops against whom this complaint was directed to present themselves at court. Upon their arrival, they desisted from urging any of their former calumnies, because they knew how clearly they could be refuted; but they made it appear that Athanasius had threatened to prevent the exportation of corn. The emperor believed what they said, and banished him to a city of Gaul called Treves . This occurred in the thirtieth year of the emperor's reign .
CHAPTER XXX. Will of the blessed Emperor Constantine.
A Year and a few months afterwards the emperor was taken ill at Nicomedia, a city of Bithynia, and, knowing the uncertainty of human life, he received the holy rite of baptism, which he had intended to have deferred until he could be baptized in the river Jordan.
He left as heirs of the imperial throne his three sons, Constantine, Constantius, and Constans, the youngest. He ordered that the great Athanasius should return to Alexandria, and expressed this decision in the presence of Eusebius, who did all he could to dissuade him.
CHAPTER XXXI. Apology for Constantine.
IT ought not to excite astonishment that Constantine was so far deceived as to send so many great men into exile: for he believed the assertions of bishops of high fame and reputation, who skilfully concealed their malice. Those who are acquainted with the Sacred Scriptures know that the holy David, although he was a prophet, was deceived; and that too not by a priest, but by one who was a menial, a slave, and a rascal. I mean Ziba, who deluded the king by lies against Mephibosheth, and thus obtained his land . It is not to condemn the prophet that I thus speak; but that I may defend the emperor, by showing the weakness of human nature, and to teach that credit should not be given only to those who advance accusations, even though they may appear worthy of credit; but that the other party ought also to be heard, and that one ear should be left open to the accused.
CHAPTER XXXII. The end of the Holy Emperor Constantine.
The emperor was now translated from his earthly dominions to a better kingdom .
The body of the emperor was enclosed in a golden coffin, and was carried to Constantinople by the governors of the provinces, the military commanders, and the other officers of state, preceded and followed by the whole army, all bitterly deploring their loss; for Constantine had been as an affectionate father to them all. The body of the emperor was allowed to remain in the palace until the arrival of his sons, and high honours were rendered to it. But these details require no description here, as a full account has been given by other writers. From their works, which are easy of access, may be learnt how greatly the Ruler of all honours His faithful servants. If any one should be tempted to unbelief, let him look at what occurs now near the tomb and the statue of Constantine, and then he must admit the truth of what God has said in the Scriptures, "Them that honour Me I will honour, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed ."
CHAPTER I. Return of St. Athanasius.
THE divine Athanasius returned to Alexandria, after having remained two years and four months at Treves . Constantine, the eldest son of Constantine the Great, whose imperial sway extended over Western Gaul, wrote the following letter to the church of Alexandria. Epistle of the Emperor Constantine, the son of Constantine the Great, to the Alexandrians.
"CONSTANTINUS CAESAR to the people of the Catholic Church of Alexandria.
"I think that it cannot have escaped your pious intelligence that Athanasius, the interpreter of the venerated law, was opportunely sent into Gaul, in order that, so long as the savagery of these bloodthirsty opponents was threatening peril to his sacred head, he might be saved from suffering irremediable wrongs. To avoid this imminent peril, he was snatched from the jaws of his foes, to remain in a city under my jurisdiction, where he might be abundantly supplied with every necessary. Yet the greatness of his virtue, relying,on the grace of God, led him to despise all the calamities of adverse fortune. Constantine, my lord and my father, of blessed memory, intended to have reinstated him in his former bishopric, and to have restored him to your piety; but as the emperor was arrested by the hand of death before his desires were accomplished, I, being his heir, have deemed it fitting to carry into execution the purpose of this sovereign of divine memory. You will learn from your bishop himself, when you see him, with how much respect I have treated him. Nor indeed is it surprising that he should have been thus treated by me. I was moved to this line of conduct by his own great virtue, and the thought of your affectionate longing for his return. May Divine Providence watch over you, beloved brethren!"
Furnished with this letter, St. Athanasius returned from exile, and was most gladly welcomed both by the rich and by the poor, by the inhabitants of cities, and by those of the provinces. The followers of the madness of Arius were the only persons who felt any vexation at his return. Eusebius, Theognis, and those of their faction resorted to their former machinations, and endeavoured to prejudice the ears of the young emperor against him.
I shall now proceed to relate in what manner Constantius swerved from the doctrines of the Apostles.
CHAPTER II. Declension of the Emperor Constantius from the true Faith.
CONSTANTIA, the widow of Licinius, was the half-sister of Constantine . She was intimately acquainted with a certain priest who had imbibed the doctrines of Arius. He did not openly acknowledge his unsoundness; but, in the frequent conversations which he had with her, he did not refrain from declaring that Arius had been unjustly calumniated. After the death of her impious husband, the renowned Constantine did everything in his power to solace her, and strove to prevent her from experiencing the saddest trials of widowhood. He attended her also in her last illness, and rendered her every proper attention. She then presented the priest whom I mentioned to the emperor, and entreated him to receive him under his protection. Constantine acceded to her request, and soon after fulfilled his promise. But though the priest was permitted the utmost freedom of speech, and was most honourably treated, he did not venture to reveal his corrupt principles, for he observed the firmness with which the emperor adhered to the truth. When Constantine was on the point of being translated to an eternal kingdom, he drew up a will, in which he directed that his temporal dominions should be divided among his sons. None of them was with him when he was dying, so he entrusted the will to this priest alone, and desired him to give it to Constantius, who, being at a shorter distance from the spot than his brothers, was expected to arrive the first. These directions the priest executed, and thus by putting the will into his hands, became known to Constantius, who accepted him as an intimate friend, and commanded him to visit him frequently. Perceiving the weakness of Constantius, whose mind was like reeds driven to and fro by the wind, he became emboldened to declare war against the doctrines of the gospel. He loudly deplored the stormy state of the churches, and asserted it to be due to those who had introduced the unscriptural word "consubstantial" into the confession of faith, and that all the disputes among the clergy and the laity had been occasioned by it. He calumniated Athanasius and all who coincided in his opinions, and formed designs for their destruction, being used as their fellow-worker by Eusebius, Theognis, and Theodorus, bishop of Perinthus.
The last-named, whose see is generally known by the name of Heraclea, was a man of great erudition, and had written an exposition of the Holy Scriptures .
These bishops resided near the emperor, and frequently visited him; they assured him that the return of Athanasius from banishment had occasioned many evils, and had excited a tempest which had shaken not only Egypt, but also Palestine, Phoenicia, and the adjacent countries .
CHAPTER III. Second Exile of St. Athanasius.--Ordination and Death of Gregorius.
WITH these and similar arguments, the bishops assailed the weak-minded emperor, and persuaded him to expel Athanasius from his church. But Athanasius obtained timely intimation of their design, and departed to the west The friends of Eusebius had sent false accusations against him to Julius, who was then bishop of Rome . In obedience to the laws of the church, Julius summoned the accusers and the accused to Rome, that the cause might be tried . Athanasius, accordingly, set out for Rome, but the calumniators refused to go because they saw that their falsehood would easily be detected . But perceiving that the flock of Athanasius was left without a pastor, they appointed over it a wolf instead of a shepherd. Gregorius, for this was his name, surpassed the wild beasts in his deeds of cruelty towards the flock: but at the expiration of six years he was destroyed by the sheep themselves. Athanasius went to Constans (Constantine, the eldest brother, having fallen in battle), and complained of the plots laid against him by the Arians, and of their opposition to the apostolical faith . He reminded him of his father, and how he attended in person the great and famous council which he had summoned; how he was present at its debates, took part in framing its decrees, and confirmed them by law. The emperor was moved to emulation by his father's zeal, and promptly wrote to his brother, exhorting him to preserve inviolate the religion of their father, which they had inherited; "for," he urged, "by piety he made his empire great, destroyed the tyrants of Rome, and subjugated the foreign nations on every side." Constantius was led by this letter to summon the bishops from the east and from the west to Sardica, a city of Illyricum, and the metropolis of Dacia, that they might deliberate on the means of removing the other troubles of the church, which were many and pressing.
CHAPTER IV. Paulus, Bishop of Constantinople.
Paulus, bishop of Constantinople, who faithfully maintained orthodox doctrines, was accused by the unsound Arians of exciting seditions, and of such other crimes as they usually laid to the charge of all those who preached true piety. The people, who feared the machinations of his enemies, would not permit him to go to Sardica. The Arians, taking advantage of the weakness of the emperor, procured from him an edict of banishment against Paulus, who was, accordingly, sent to Cucusus, a little town formerly included in Cappadocia, but now in Lesser Armenia. But these disturbers of the public peace were not satisfied with having driven the admirable Paulus into a desert. They sent the agents of their cruelty to despatch him by a violent death. St. Athanasius testifies to this fact in the defence which he wrote of his own flight. He uses the following words : "They pursued Paulus, bishop of Constantinople, and having seized him at Cucusus, a city of Cappadocia, they had him strangled, using as their executioner Philippus the prefect, who was the protector of their heresy, and the active agent of their most atrocious projects
Such were the murders to which the blasphemy of Arius gave rise. Their mad rage against the Only-begotten was matched by cruel deeds against His servants.
CHAPTER V. The Heresy of Macedonius.
THE Arians, having effected the death of Paulus, or rather having despatched him to the kingdom of heaven, promoted Macedonius in his place, who, they imagined, held the same sentiments, and belonged to the same faction as themselves, because he, like them, blasphemed the Holy Ghost. But, shortly after, they deposed him also, because he refused to call Him a creature Whom the Holy Scriptures affirm to be the Son of God. After his separation from them, he became the leader of a sect of his own. He taught that the Son of God is not of the same substance as the Father, but that He is like Him in every particular. He also openly affirmed that the Holy Ghost is a creature. These circumstances occurred not long afterwards as we have narrated them.
CHAPTER VI. Council held at Sardica.
Two hundred and fifty bishops assembled at Sardica, as is proved by ancient records. The great Athanasius, Asclepas, bishop of Gaza, already mentioned, and Marcellus, bishop of Ancyra, the metropolis of Galatia, who also held this bishopric at the time of the council of Nicaea, all repaired thither. The calumniators, and the chiefs of the Arian faction, who had previously judged the cause of Athanasius, also attended. But when they found that the members of the synod were staunch in their adherence to sound doctrine, they would not even enter the council, although they had been summoned to it, but fled away, both accusers and judges. All these circumstances are far more clearly explained in a letter drawn up by the council; and I shall therefore now insert it. Synodical Letter from the Bishops assembled at Sardica, addressed to the other Bishops.
"The holy council assembled at Sardica, from Rome, Spain, Gaul, Italy, Campania, Calabria, Africa, Sardinia, Pannonia, Moesia, Dacia, Dardania, Lesser Dacia, Macedonia, Thessaly, Achaia, Epirus, Thrace, Rhodope, Asia, Caria, Bithynia, the Hellespont, Phrygia, Pisidia, Cappadocia, Pontus, the lesser Phrygia, Cilicia, Pamphylia, Lydia, the Cyclades, Egypt, the Thebaid, Libya, Galatia, Palestine and Arabia, to the bishops throughout the world, our fellow-ministers in the catholic and apostolic Church, and our beloved brethren in the Lord. Peace be unto you.
"The madness of the Arians has often led them to the perpetration of violent atrocities against the servants of God who keep the true faith; they introduce false doctrines themselves, and persecute those who uphold orthodox principles. So violent were their attacks on the faith, that they reached the ears of our most pious emperors. Through the co-operation of the grace of God, the emperors have summoned us from different provinces and cities to the holy council which they have appointed to be held in the city of Sardica, in order that all dissensions may be terminated, all evil doctrines expelled, and the religion of Christ alone maintained amongst all people. Some bishops from the east have attended the council at the solicitation of our most religious emperors, principally on account of the reports circulated against our beloved brethren and fellow-ministers, Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, Marcellus, bishop of Ancyra in Galatia, and Asclepas, bishop of Gaza. Perhaps the calumnies of the Arians have already reached you, and they have endeavoured thus to forestall the council, and make you believe their groundless accusations of the innocent, and prevent any suspicion being raised of the depraved heresy which they uphold. But they have not long been permitted so to act. The Lord is the Protector of the churches; for them and for us all He suffered death, and opened for us the way to heaven.
"The adherents of Eusebius. Maris, Theodorus, Theognis, Ursacius, Valens, Menophantus, and Stephanus, had already written to Julius, the bishop of Rome, and our fellow-minister, against our aforesaid fellow-ministers Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, Marcellus, bishop of Ancyra in Galatia, and Asclepas, bishop of Gaza. Some bishops of the opposite party wrote also to Julius, testifying to the innocence of Athanasius, and proving that all that had been asserted by the followers of Eusebius was nothing more than lies and slander. The refusal of the Arians to obey the summons of our beloved brother and fellow-ruler, Julius, and also the letter written by that bishop, clearly prove the falseness of their accusation. For, had they believed that what they had done and represented against our fellow-minister admitted of justification, they would have gone to Rome. But their mode of procedure in this great and holy council is a manifest proof of their fraud. Upon their arrival at Sardica, they perceived that our brethren, Athanasius, Marcellus, Asclepas, and others, were there also; they were therefore afraid to come to the test, although they had been summoned, not once or twice only, but repeatedly. There were they waited for by the assembled bishops, particularly by the venerable Hosius, one worthy of all honour and respect, on account of his advanced age, his adherence to the faith, and his labours for the church. All urged them to join the assembly and avail themselves of the opportunity of proving, in the presence of their fellow-ministers, the truth of the charges they had brought against them in their absence, both by word and by letter. But they refused to obey the summons, as we have already stated, and so by their excesses proved the falsity of their statements, and all but proclaimed aloud the plot and schemes they had formed. Men confident of the truth of their assertions are always ready to stand to them openly. But as these accusers would not appear to substantiate what they had advanced, any future allegations which they may by their usual artifices bring against our fellow-ministers, will only be regarded as proceeding from a desire of slandering them in their absence, without the courage to confront them openly.
"They fled, beloved brethren, not only because their charges were slander, but also because they saw men arrive with serious and manifold accusations against themselves. Chains and fetters were produced. Some were present whom they had exiled: others came forward as representatives of those still kept in exile. There stood relations and friends of men whom they had put to death. Most serious of all, bishops also appeared, one of whom exhibited the irons and the chains with which they had laden him. Others testified that death followed their false charges. For their infatuation had led them so far as even to attempt the life of a bishop; and he would have been killed had he not escaped from their hands. Theodulus, our fellow-minister, of blessed memory, passed hence with their calumny on his name; for, through it, he had been condemned to death. Some showed the wounds which had been inflicted on them by the sword; others deposed that they had been exposed to the miseries of famine.
"All these depositions were made, not by a few obscure individuals, but by whole churches; the presbyters of these churches giving evidence that the persecutors had armed the military against them with swords, and the common people with clubs; had employed judicial threats, and produced spurious documents. The letters written by Theognis, for the purpose of prejudicing the emperor against our fellow-ministers, Athanasius, Marcellus, and Asclepas, were read and attested by those who had formerly been the deacons of Theognis. It was also proved that they had stripped virgins naked, had burnt churches, and imprisoned our fellow-ministers, and all because of the infamous heresy of the Ariomaniacs. For thus all who refused to make common cause with them were treated.
"The consciousness of having committed all these crimes placed them in great straits. Ashamed of their deeds, which could no longer be concealed, they repaired to Sardica, thinking that their boldness in venturing thither would remove all suspicion of their guilt. But when they perceived the presence of those whom they had falsely accused, and of those who had suffered from their cruelty; and that likewise several had come with irrefragable accusations against them, they would not enter the council. Our fellow-ministers, on the other hand, Athanasius, Marcellus, and Asclepas, took every means to induce them to attend, by tears, by urgency, by challenge, promising not only to prove the falsity of their accusations, but also to show how deeply they had injured their own churches. But they were so overwhelmed by the consciousness of their own evil deeds, that they took to flight, and by this flight clearly proved the falsity of their accusations as well as their own guilt.
"But though their calumny and perfidy, which had indeed been apparent from the beginning, were now clearly perceived, yet we determined to examine the circumstances of the case according to the laws of truth, lest they should, from their very flight, derive pretexts for renewed acts of deceitfulness.
"Upon carrying this resolution into effect, we proved by their actions that they were false accusers, and that they had formed plots against our fellow-ministers. Arsenius, whom they declared had been put to death by Athanasius, is still alive, and takes his place among the living. This fact alone is sufficient to show that their other allegations are false.
"Although they spread a report everywhere that a chalice had been broken by Macarius, one of the presbyters of Athanasius, yet those who came from Alexandria, from Mareotis, anti from other places, testified that this was not the fact; and the bishops in Egypt wrote to Julius, our fellow-minister, declaring that there was not the least suspicion that such a deed had been done. The judicial facts which the Arians assert they possess against Macarius have been all drawn up by one party; and in these documents the depositions of pagans and of catechumens were included. One of these catechumens, when interrogated, replied that he was m the church on the entry of Macarius. Another deposed that Ischyras, whom they had talked about so much, was then lying ill in his cell. Hence it appears that the mysteries could not have been celebrated at that time, as the catechumens were present, and as Ischyras was absent; for he was at that very time confined by illness. Ischyras, that wicked man who had falsely affirmed that Athanasius had burnt some of the sacred books, and had been convicted of the crime, now confessed that he was ill in bed when Macarius arrived; hence the falsehood of his accusation was clearly demonstrated. His calumny was, however, rewarded by his party; they gave him the title of a bishop, although he was not yet even a presbyter. For two presbyters came to the synod, who some time back had been attached to Meletius, and were afterwards received back by the blessed Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and are now with Athanasius, protesting that he had never been ordained a presbyter, and that Meletius had never had any church, or employed any minister in Mareotis. Yet, although he had never been ordained a presbyter, they promote him to a bishopric, in order that his title may impose upon those who hear his false accusations .
"The writings of our fellow-minister, Marcellus, were also read, and plainly evinced the duplicity of the adherents of Eusebius; for what Marcellus had simply suggested as a point of inquiry, they accused him of professing as a point of faith. The statements which he had made, both before and after the inquiry, were read, and his faith was proved to be orthodox. He did not affirm, as they represented, that the beginning of the Word of God was dated from His conception by the holy Mary, or that His kingdom would have an end. On the contrary, he wrote that His kingdom had had no beginning, and would have no end. Asclepas, our fellow-minister, produced the reports drawn up at Antioch in the presence of the accusers, and of Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, and proved his innocence by the sentence of the bishops who had presided as judges.
"It was not then without cause, beloved brethren, that, although so frequently summoned, they would not attend the council; it was not without cause that they took to flight. The reproaches of conscience constrained them to make their escape, and thus, at the same time, to demonstrate the groundlessness of their calumnies, and the truth of those accusations which were advanced and proved against them. Besides all the other grounds of complaint, it may be added that all those who had been accused of holding the Arian heresy, and had been ejected in consequence, were not only received, but advanced to the highest dignities by them. They raised deacons to the presbyterate, and thence to the episcopate; and in all this they were actuated by no other motive than the desire of propagating and diffusing their heresy, and of corrupting the true faith.
"Next to Eusebius, the following are their principal leaders; Theodorus, bishop of Heraclea, Narcissus, bishop of Neronias in Cilicia, Stephanus, bishop of Antioch, Georgius, bishop of Laodicea, Acacius, bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, Menophantus, bishop of Ephesus in Asia, Ursacius, bishop of Singidunum in Moesia, and Valens, bishop of Mursa(10) in Pannonia. These bishops forbade those who came with them from the east to attend the holy council, or to unite with the Church of God. On their road to Sardica they held private assemblies at different places, and formed a com pact cemented by threats, that, when they arrived in Sardica, they would not join the holy council, nor assist at its deliberations; arranging that, as soon as they had arrived they should present themselves for form's sake, and forthwith betake themselves to flight. These facts were made known to us by our fellow-ministers, Macarius of Palestine(11), and Asterius of Arabia(12), who came with them to Sardica, but refused to share their unorthodoxy. These bishops complained before the holy council of the violent treatment they had received from them, and of the want of right principles evinced in all their transactions. They added that there were many amongst them who still held orthodox opinions, but that these were prevented from going to the council; and that sometimes threats, sometimes promises, were resorted to, in order to retain them in that party. For this reason they were compelled to reside together in one house; and never allowed, even for the shortest space of time, to be alone.
"It is not right to pass over in silence and without rebuke the calumnies, the imprisonments, the murders, the stripes, the forged letters, the indignities, the stripping naked of virgins, the banishments, the destruction of churches, the acts of incendiarism, the translation of bishops from small towns to large dioceses, and above all, the ill-starred Arian heresy, raised by their means against the true faith. For these causes, therefore, we declare the innocence and purity of our beloved brethren and fellow-ministers, Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, Marcellus, bishop of Ancyra in Galatia, and Asclepas, bishop of Gaza, and of all the other servants of God who are with them; and we have written to each of their dioceses, in order that the people of each church may be made acquainted with the innocence of their respective bishops, and that they may recognise them alone and wait for their return. Men who have come down on their churches like wolves(13), such as Gregorius in Alexandria, Basilius in Ancyra, and Quintianus(14) in Gaza, we charge them not even to call bishops, nor yet Christians, nor to have any communion with them, nor to receive any letters from them, nor to write to them.
"Theodorus, bishop of Heraclea in Europe, Narcissus, bishop of Neronias in Cilicia, Acacius, bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, Stephanus, bishop of Antioch, Ursacius, bishop of Singidunum in Moesia, Valens, bishop of Mursa in Pannonia, Menophantus, bishop of Ephesus, and Georgius, bishop of Laodicea (for though fear kept him from leaving the East, he has been deposed by the blessed Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and has imbibed the infatuation of the Arians), have on account of their various crimes been cast forth from their bishoprics by the unanimous decision of the holy council. We have decreed that they are not only not to be regarded as bishops, but to be refused communion with us. For those who separate the Son from the substance and divinity of the Father, and alienate the Word from the Father, ought to be separated from the Catholic Church, and alienated from all who bear the name of Christians. Let them then be anathema to you, and to all the faithful, because they have corrupted the word of truth. For the apostle's precept enjoins, if any one should bring to you another gospel than that which ye have received, let him be accursed(15). Command that no one hold communion with them; for light can have no fellowship with darkness. Keep far off from them; for what concord has Christ with Belial? Be careful, beloved brethren, that you neither write to them nor receive their letters. Endeavour, beloved brethren and fellow-ministers, as though present with us in spirit at the council, to give your hearty consent to what is enacted, and affix to it your written signature, for the sake of preserving unanimity of opinion among all our fellow-ministers throughout the world
"We declare those men excommunicate from the Catholic Church who say that Christ is God, but not the true God; that He is the Son, but not the true Son; and that He is both begotten and made; for such persons acknowledge that they understand by the term 'begotten,' that which has been made; and because, although the Son of God existed before all ages, they attribute to Him, who exists not in time but before all time, a beginning and an end(17).
"Valens and Ursacius have, like two vipers brought forth by an asp, proceeded from the Arian heresy. For they boastingly declare themselves to be undoubted Christians, and yet affirm that the Word and the Holy Ghost were both crucified and slain, and that they died and rose again; and they pertinaciously maintain, like the heretics, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are of diverse and distinct essences(18). We have been taught, and we hold the catholic and apostolic tradition and faith and confession which teach, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost have one essence, which is termed substance(19) by the heretics. If it is asked, 'What is the essence of the Son?' we confess, that it is that which is acknowledged to be that of the Father alone; for the Father has never been, nor could ever be, without the Son, nor the Son without the Father. It is most absurd to affirm that the Father ever existed without the Son, for that this could never be so has been testified by the Son Himself, who said, 'I am in the Father, and the Father in Me(20);' and 'I and My Father are one(21).' None of us denies that He was begotten; but we say that He was begotten before all things, whether visible or invisible; anti that He is the Creator of archangels and angels, and of the world, and of the human race. It is written, 'Wisdom which is the worker of all things taught me(22),' and again, 'All things were made by Him(23).' "He could not have existed always if He had had a beginning, for the everlasting Word has no beginning, and God will never have an end. We do not say that the Father is Son, nor that the Son is Father; but that the Father is Father, and the Son of the Father Son. We confess that the Son is Power of the Father. We confess that the Word is Word of God the Father, and that beside Him there is no other. We believe the Word to be the true God, and Wisdom and Power. We affirm that He is truly the Son, yet not in the way in which others are said to be sons: for they are either gods by reason of their regeneration, or are called sons of God on account of their merit, and not on account of their being of one essence(24), as is the case with the Father and the Son. We confess an Only-begotten and a Firstborn; but that the Word is only-begotten, who ever was and is in the Father. We use the word firstborn with respect to His human nature. But He is superior (to man) in the new creation(25) (of the Resurrection), inasmuch as He is the Firstborn from the dead.
"We confess that God is; we confess the divinity of the Father and of the Son to be one. No one denies that the Father is greater than the Son: not on account of another essence(24), nor yet on account of their difference, but simply from the very name of the Father being greater than that of the Son. The words uttered by our Lord, 'I and My Father are one(26),' are by those men explained as referring to the concord and harmony which prevail between the Father and the Son; but this is a blasphemous and perverse interpretation. We, as Catholics, unanimously condemned this foolish and lamentable opinion: for just as mortal men on a difference having arisen between them quarrel and afterwards are reconciled, so do such interpreters say that disputes and dissension are liable to arise between God the Father Almighty and His Son; a supposition which is altogether absurd and untenable. But we believe and maintain that those holy words, 'l and My Father are one,' point out the oneness of essence(24) which is one and the same in the Father and in the Son.
"We also believe that the Son reigns with the Father, that His reign has neither beginning nor end, and that it is not bounded by time, nor can ever cease: for that which always exists never begins to be, and can never cease.
"We believe in and we receive the Holy Ghost the Comforter, whom the Lord both promised and sent. We believe in It as sent.
"It was not the Holy Ghost who suffered, but the manhood with which He clothed Himself; which He took from the Virgin Mary, which being man was capable of suffering; for man is mortal, whereas God is immortal. We believe that on the third day He rose, the man in God, not God in the man; and that He brought as a gift to His Father the manhood which He had delivered from sin and corruption.
"We believe that, at a meet and fixed time, He Himself will judge all men and all their deeds.
"So great is the ignorance and mental darkness of those whom we have mentioned, that they are unable to see the light of truth. They cannot comprehend the meaning of the words: 'that they may be one in us(27).' It is obvious why the word 'one' was used; it was because the apostles received the Holy Spirit of God, and yet there were none amongst them who were the Spirit, neither was there any one of them who was Word, Wisdom, Power, or Only-begotten. 'As Thou,' He said, 'and I are one, that they, may be one in us.' These holy words, 'that they may be one in us,' are strictly accurate: for the Lord did not say, 'one in the same way that I and the Father are one,' but He said, 'that the disciples, being knit together and united, may be one in faith and in confession, and so in the grace and piety of God the Father, and by the indulgence and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, may be able to become one.' "
From this letter may be learnt the duplicity of the calumniators, and the injustice of the former judges, as well as the soundness of the decrees. These holy fathers have taught us not only truths respecting the Divine nature, but also the doctrine of the Incarnation(28).
Constans was much concerned on hearing of the easy temper of his brother, and was highly incensed against those who had contrived this plot and artfully taken advantage of it. He chose two of the bishops who had attended the council of Sardica, and sent them with letters to his brother; he also despatched Salianus, a military commander who was celebrated for his piety and integrity, on the same embassy. The letters which he forwarded by them, and which were worthy of himself, contained not only entreaties and counsels, but also menaces. In the first place, he charged his brother to attend to all that the bishops might say, and to take cognizance of the crimes of Stephanus and of his accomplices. He also required him to restore Athanasius to his flock; the calumny of the accusers and the injustice and ill-will of his former judges having become evident. He added, that if he would not accede to his request, and perform this act of justice, he would himself go to Alexandria, restore Athanasius to his flock which earnestly longed for him, and expel all opponents.
Constantius was at Antioch when he received this letter; and he agreed to carry out all that his brother commanded.
CHAPTER VII. Account of the Bishops Euphratas and Vincentius, and of the plot formed in Antioch against them.
The wonted opponents of the truth were so much displeased at these proceedings, that they planned a notoriously execrable and impious crime.
The two bishops resided near the foot of the mountain, while the military commander had settled in a lodging in another quarter.
At this period Stephanus held the rudder of the church of Antioch, and had well nigh sunk the ship, for he employed several tools in his despotic doings, and by their aid involved all who maintained orthodox doctrines in manifold calamities. The leader of these instruments was a young man of a rash and reckless character, who led a very infamous life. He not only dragged away men from the market-place, and treated them with blows and insult, but had the audacity to enter private houses, whence he carried off men and women of irreproachable character. But, not to be too prolix in relating his crimes, I will merely narrate his daring conduct towards the bishops; for this alone is sufficient to give an idea of the unlawful deeds of violence which he perpetrated against the citizens. He went to one of the lowest women of the town, and told her that some strangers had just arrived, who desired to pass the night with her. He took fifteen of his band, placed them in hiding among the stone walls at the bottom of the hill, and then went for the prostitute. After giving the preconcerted signal, and learning that the folk privy to the plot were on the spot, he went to the gate of the courtyard belonging to the inn where the bishops were lodging. The doors were opened by one of the household servants, who had been bribed by him. He then conducted the woman into the house, pointed out to her the door of the room where one of the bishops slept, and desired her to enter. Then he went out to call his accomplices. The door which he had pointed out happened to be that of Euphratas, the eider bishop, whose room was the outer of the two. Vincentius, the other bishop, occupied the inner room. When the woman entered the room of Euphratas, he heard the sound of her footsteps, and, as it was then dark, asked who was there. She spoke, and Euphratas was full of alarm, for he thought that it was a devil imitating the voice of a woman, and he called upon Christ the Saviour for aid. Onager, for this was the name of the leader of this wicked band (a name peculiarly appropriate to him, as he not only used his hands but also his feet as weapons against the pious), had in the meantime returned with his lawless crew, denouncing as criminals those who were expecting to be judges of crime themselves. At the noise which was made all the servants came running in, and up got Vincentius. They closed the gate of the courtyards and captured seven of the gang; but Onager and the rest made off. The woman was committed to custody with those who had been seized. At the break of day the bishops awoke the officer who had come with them, and they all three proceeded together to the palace, to complain of the audacious acts of Stephanus, whose evil deeds, they said, were too evident to need either trial or torture to prove them. The general loudly demanded of the emperor that the audacious act should not be dealt with synodically, but by ordinary legal process, and offered to give up the clergy attached to the bishops to be first examined, and declared that the agents of Stephanus must undergo the torture too. To this Stephanus insolently objected, alleging that the clergy ought not to be scourged. The emperor and the principal authorities then decided that it would be better to judge the cause in the palace. The woman was first of all questioned, and was asked by whom she was conducted to the inn where the bishops were lodging. She replied, that a young man came to her, and told her that some strangers had arrived who were desirous of her company; that in the evening he conducted her to the inn; that he went to look for his band, and when he had found it, brought her in through the door of the court, and desired her to go into the chamber adjoining the vestibule. She added, that the bishop asked who was there; that he was alarmed; and that he began to pray; and that then others ran to the spot.
CHAPTER VIII. Stephanus deposed.
AFTER the judges had heard these replies, they ordered the youngest of those who had been arrested to be brought before them. Before he was subjected to the examination by scourging, he confessed the whole plot, and stated that it was planned and carried into execution by Onager. On this latter being brought in he affirmed that he had only acted according to the commands of Stephanus. The guilt of Stephanus being thus demonstrated, the bishops then present were charged to depose him, and expel him from the Church. By his expulsion the Church was not, however, wholly freed from the plague of Arianism. Leontius, who succeeded him in his presidency, was a Phrygian of so subtle and artful a disposition, that he might be said to resemble the sunken rocks of the sea . We shall presently narrate more concerning him .
CHAPTER IX. The second return of Saint Athanasius.
THE emperor Constantius, having become acquainted with the plots formed against the bishops, wrote to the great Athanasius once, and twice, aye and thrice, exhorting him to return from the West . I shall here insert the second letter, because it is the shortest of the three.
Constantius Augustus the Conqueror to Athanasius.
"Although I have already apprised you by previous letters, that you can, without fear of molestation, return to our court, in order that you may, according to my ardent desire, be reinstated in your own bishopric, yet I now again despatch another letter to your gravity to exhort you to take immediately, without fear or suspicion, a public vehicle and return to us, in order that you may receive all that you desire."
When Athanasius returned, Constantius received him with kindness, and bade him go back to the Church of Alexandria . But there were some attached to the court, infected with the errors of Arianism, who maintained that Athanasius ought to cede one church to those who were unwilling to hold communion with him. On this being mentioned to the emperor, and by the emperor to Athanasius, he remarked, that the imperial command appeared to be just; but that he also wished to make a request. The emperor readily promising to grant him whatever he might ask, he said that those in Antioch who objected to hold communion with the party now in possession of the churches wanted temples to pray in, and that it was only fair that one House of God also be assigned to them. This request was deemed just and reasonable by the emperor; but the leaders of the Arian faction resisted its being carried into execution, maintaining that neither party ought to have the churches assigned to them. Constantius on this was struck with high admiration for Athanasius, and sent him back to Alexandria . Gregorius was dead, having met his end at the hands of the Alexandrians themselves . The people kept high holiday in honour of their pastor; feasting marked their joy at seeing him again, and praise was given to God .Not long after Constans departed this life .
CHAPTER X. Third exile and flight of Athanasius.
THOSE who had obtained entire ascendency over the mind of Constantius, and influenced him as they pleased, reminded him that Athanasius had been the cause of the differences between his brother and himself, which had nearly led to the rupture of the bonds of nature, and the kindling of a civil war. Constantius was induced by these representations not only to banish, but also to condemn the holy Athanasius to death; and he accordingly despatched Sebastianus, a military commander, with a very large body of soldiery to slay him, as if he had been a criminal. How the one led the attack and the other escaped will be best told in the words of him who so suffered and was so wonderfully saved.
Thus Athanasius writes in his Apology for his Flight:--"Let the circumstances of my retreat be investigated, and the testimony of the opposite faction be collected; for Arians accompanied the soldiers, as well for the purpose of spurring them on, as of pointing me out to those who did not know me. If they are not touched with sympathy at the tale I tell, at least let them listen in the silence of shame. It was night, and some of the people were keeping vigil, for a communion was expected. A body of soldiers suddenly advanced upon them, consisting of a general and five thousand armed men with naked swords, bows and arrows, and clubs, as I have already stated. The general surrounded the church, posting his men in close order, that those within might be prevented from going out. I deemed that I ought not in such a time of confusion to leave the people, but that I ought rather to be the first to meet the danger; so I sat down on my throne and desired the deacon to read a psalm, and the people to respond,' For His mercy endureth for ever.' Then I bade them all return to their own houses. But now the general with the soldiery forced his way into the church, and surrounded the sanctuary in order to arrest me. The clergy and the laity who had remained clamorously besought me to withdraw. This I firmly refused to do until all the others had retreated. I rose, had a prayer offered, and directed all the people to retire. 'It is better,' said I, 'for me to meet the danger alone, than for any of you to be hurt.' When the greater number of the people had left the church, and just as the rest were following, the monks and some of the clergy who had remained came up and drew me out. And so, may the truth be my witness, the Lord leading and protecting me, we passed through the midst of the soldiers, some of whom were stationed around the sanctuary, and others marching about the church. Thus I went out unperceived, and fervently thanked God that I had not abandoned the people, but that after they had been sent away in safety, I had been enabled to escape from the hands of those who sought my life
CHAPTER XI. The evil and daring deeds dane by Georgius in Alexandria.
ATHANASIUS having thus escaped the bloodstained hands of his adversaries, Georgius, who was truly another wolf, was entrusted with authority over the flock. He treated the sheep with more cruelty than wolf, or bear, or leopard could have shewn. He compelled young women who had vowed perpetual virginity, not only to disown the communion of Athanasius, but also to anathematize the faith of the fathers. The agent in his cruelty was Sebastianus, an officer in command of troops. He ordered a fire to be kindled in the centre of the city, and placed the virgins, who were stripped naked, close to it, commanding them to deny the faith. Although they formed a most sorrowful and pitiable spectacle for believers as well as for unbelievers, they considered that all these dishonours conferred the highest honour on them; and they joyfully received the blows inflicted on them on account of their faith. All these facts shall be more clearly narrated by their own pastor.
"About Lent, Georgius returned from Cappadocia, and added to the evils which he had been taught by our enemies. After the Easter week virgins were cast into prison, bishops were bound and dragged away by the soldiers, the homes of widows and of orphans were pillaged, robbery and violence went on from house to house, and the Christians during the darkness of night were seized and torn away from their dwellings. Seals were fixed on many houses. The brothers of the clergy were in peril for their brothers' sake. These cruelties were very atrocious, but still more so were those which were subsequently perpetrated. In the week following the holy festival of Pentecost, the people who were keeping a fast came out to the cemetery to pray, because they all renounced any communion with Georgius. This vilest of men was informed of this circumstance, and he incited Sebastianus the military commander, a Manichean, to attack the people; and, accordingly, on the Lord's day itself he rushed upon them with a large body of armed soldiers wielding naked swords, and bows, and arrows. He found but few Christians in the act of praying, for most of them had retired on account of the lateness of the hour. Then he did such deeds as might be expected from one who had lent his ears to such teachers. He ordered a large fire to be lighted, and the virgins to be brought close to it, and then tried to compel them to declare themselves of the Arian creed. When he perceived that they were conquering, and giving no heed to the fire, he ordered them to be stripped naked, and to be beaten until their faces for a long while were scarcely recognisable. He then seized forty men, and inflicted on them a new kind of torture. He ordered them to be scourged with branches of palm-trees, retaining their thorns; and by these their flesh was so lacerated that some because of the thorns fixed fast in them had again and again to put themselves under the surgeon's hand; others were not able to bear the agony and died. All who survived, and also the virgins, were then banished to the Greater Oasis. They even refused to give up the bodies of the dead to their kinsfolk for burial, but flung them away unburied, and hid them just as they pleased, in order that it might appear that they had nothing to do with these cruel transactions, and were ignorant of them. But they were deceived m this foolish expectation: for the friends of the slain, while they rejoiced at the faithfulness of the deceased, deeply lamented the loss of the corpses, and spread abroad a full account of the cruelty that had been perpetrated.
"The following bishops were banished from Egypt and from Libya:--Ammonius, Muius, Caius, Philo, Hermes, Plenius, Psinosiris, Nilammon, Agapius, Anagamphus, Marcus, Dracontius, Adelphius, another Ammonius, another Marcus, and Athenodorus; and also the presbyters Hierax and Dioscorus . These were all driven into exile in so cruel a manner that many died on the road, and others at the place of their banishment. The persecutors caused the death of more than thirty bishops. For, like Ahab, their mind was set on rooting out the truth, had it been possible ."
Athanasius also, in a letter addressed to the virgins who were treated with so much barbarity, uses the following wordS: "Let none of you be grieved although these impious heretics grudge you burial and prevent your corpses being carried forth. The impiety of the Arians has reached such a height, that they block up the gates, and sit like so many demons around the tombs, in order to hinder the dead from being interred."
These and many other similar atrocities were perpetrated by Georgius in Alexandria.
The holy Athanasius was well aware that there was no spot which could be considered a place of safety for him; for the emperor had promised a very large reward to whoever should bring him alive, or his head as a proof of his death.
CHAPTER XII. Council of Milan.
AFTER the death of Constans, Magnentius assumed the chief authority over the Western empire; and, to repress his usurpation, Constantius repaired to Europe. But this war, severe as it was, did not put an end to the war against the Church. Constantius, who had embraced Arian tenets and readily yielded to the influence of others, was persuaded to convoke a council at Milan, a city of Italy, and first to compel all the assembled bishops to sign the deposition enacted by the iniquitous judges at Tyre; and then, since Athanasius had been expelled from the Church, to draw up another confession of faith. The bishops assembled in council on the receipt of the imperial letter, but they were far from acting according to its directions. On the contrary, they told the emperor to his face that what he had commanded was unjust and impious. For this act of courage they were expelled from the Church, and relegated to the furthest boundaries of the empire.
The admirable Athanasius thus mentions this circumstance in his Apology :--"Who," he writes, "can narrate such atrocities as they have perpetrated? A short time ago when the Churches were in the enjoyment of peace, and when the people were assembled for prayer, Liberius, bishop of Rome, Paulinus, bishop of the metropolis of Gaul, Dionysius, bishop of the metropolis of Italy, Luciferus, bishop of the metropolis of the Isles of Sardinia, and Eusebius, bishop of one of the cities of Italy, who were all exemplary bishops and preachers of the truth, were seized and driven into exile, for no other cause than because they could not assent to the Arian heresy, nor sign the false accusation which had been framed against us. It is unnecessary that I should speak of the great Hosius, that aged and faithful confessor of the faith, for every one knows that he also was sent into banishment. Of all the bishops he is the most illustrious. What council can be mentioned in which he did not preside, and convince all present by the power of his reasoning? What Church does not still retain the glorious memorials of his protection? Did any one ever go to him sorrowing, and not leave him rejoicing? Who ever asked his aid, and did not obtain all that he desired? Yet they had the boldness to attack this great man, simply because, from his knowledge of the impiety of their calumnies, he refused to affix his signature to their artful accusations against us."
From the above narrative will be seen the violence of the Arians against these holy men. Athanasius also gives in the same book an account of the numerous plots formed by the chiefs of the Arian faction against many others:--"Did any one," said he, "whom they persecuted and got into their power ever escape from them without suffering what injuries they pleased to inflict? Was any one who was an object of their search found by them whom they did not subject to the most agonizing death, or else to the mutilation of all his limbs? The sentences inflicted by the judges are all attributable to these heretics; for the judges are but the agents of their will, and of their malice. Where is there a place which contains no memorial of their atrocities? If any one ever differed from them in opinion, did they not, like Jezebel, falsely accuse and oppress him? Where is there a church which has not been plunged in sorrow by their plots against its bishop? Antioch has to mourn the loss of Eustathius, the faithful and the orthodox . Balaneae weeps for Euphration(10); Paltus(11) and Antaradus(12) for Cymatius and Carterius. Adrianople has been called to deplore the loss of the well-beloved Eutropius(13), and of Lucius his successor, who was repeatedly loaded with chains, and expired beneath their weight(14). Ancyra, Beroea, and Gaza had to mourn the absence of Marcellus(15), Cyrus(16) and Asclepas(17), who, after having suffered much ill-treatment from this deceitful sect, were driven into exile. Messengers were sent in quest of Theodulus(18) and Olympius(19), bishops of Thrace, as well as of me and of the presbyters of my diocese; and had they found us, we should no doubt have been put to death. But at the very time that they were planning our destruction we effected our escape, although they had sent letters to Donatus, the proconsul, against Olympius, and to Philagrius(20), against me."
Such were the audacious acts of this impious faction against the most holy Christians. Hosius was the bishop of Cordova, and was the most highly distinguished of all those who assembled at the council of Nicaea; he also obtained the first place among those convened at Sardica.
I now desire to insert in my history an account of the admirable arguments addressed by the far-famed Liberius, m defence of the truth, to the emperor Constantius. They are recorded by some of the pious men of that period in order to stimulate others to the exercise of similar zeal in divine things. Liberius had succeeded Julius, the successor of Silvester, in the government of the church of Rome.
CHAPTER XIII. Conference between Liberius, Pope of Rome, and the Emperor Constantius .
CONSTANTIUS.--"We have judged it right, as you are a Christian and the bishop of our city, to send for you in order to admonish you to abjure all connexion with the folly of the impious Athanasius. For when he was separated from the communion of the Church by the synod the whole world approved of the decision."
LIBERIUS.--"O Emperor, ecclesiastical sentences ought to be enacted with strictest justice: therefore, if it be pleasing to your piety, order the court to be assembled, and if it be seen that Athanasius deserves condemnation, then let sentence be passed upon him according to ecclesiasticaI forms. For it is not possible for us to condemn a man unheard and untried."
CONSTANTIUS.--"The whole world has condemned his impiety; but he, as he has done from the first, laughs at the danger."
LIBERIUS.--"Those who signed the condemnation were not eye-witnesses of anything that occurred; but were actuated by the desire of glory, and by the fear of disgrace at thy hands."
THE EMPEROR.--"What do you mean by glory and fear and disgrace?"
LIBERIUS.--"Those who love not the glory of God, but who attach greater value to thy gifts, have condemned a man whom they have neither seen nor judged; this is very contrary to the principles of Christians."
THE EMPEROR.--"Athanasius was tried in person at the council of Tyre, and all the bishops of the world at that synod condemned him." LIBERIUS.--"No judgment has ever been passed on him in his presence. Those who there assembled condemned him after he had retired."
EUSEBIUS THE EUNUCH foolishly interposed.--"It was demonstrated at the council of Nicaea that he held opinions entirely at variance with the catholic faith."
LIBERIUS.--"Of all those who sailed to Mareotis, and who were sent for the purpose of drawing up memorials against the accused, five only delivered the sentence against him. Of the five who were thus sent, two are now dead, namely, Theognis and Theodorus. The three others, Maris, Valens, and Ursacius, are still living. Sentence was passed at Sardica against all those who were sent for this purpose to Mareotis. They presented a petition to the council soliciting pardon for having drawn up at Mareotis memorials against Athanasius, consisting of false accusations and depositions of only one party. Their petition is still in our hands. Whose cause are we to espouse, O Emperor? With whom are we to agree and hold communion? With those who first condemned Athanasius, and then solicited pardon for having condemned him, or with those who have condemned these latter?"
EPICTETUS THE BISHOP.--"O Emperor, it is not on behalf of the faith, nor in defence of ecclesiastical judgments that Liberius is pleading; but merely in order that he may boast before the Roman senators of having conquered the emperor in argument."
THE EMPEROR (addressing Liberius).--"What portion do you constitute of the universe, that you alone by yourself take part with an impious man, and are destroying the peace of the empire and of the whole world?"
LIBERIUS.--"My standing alone does not make the truth a whit the weaker. According to the ancient story, there are found but three men resisting a decree."
EUSEBIUS THE EUNUCH.--"You make our emperor a Nebuchadnezzar."
LIBERIUS.--"By no means. But you rashly condemn a man without any trial. What I desire is, in the first place, that a general confession of faith be signed, confirming that drawn up at the council of Nicaea. And secondly, that all our brethren be recalled from exile, and reinstated in their own bishoprics. If, when all this has been carried into execution, it can be shown that the doctrines of all those who now fill the churches with trouble are conformable to the apostolic faith, then we will all assemble at Alexandria to meet the accused, the accusers, and their defender, and after having examined the cause, we will pass judgment upon it."
EPICTETUS THE BISHOP.--"There will not be sufficient post-carriages to convey so many bishops."
LIBERIUS.--"Ecclesiastical affairs can be transacted without post-carriages. The churches are able to provide means for the conveyance of their respective bishops to the sea coast ."
THE EMPEROR.--"The sentence which has once been passed ought not to be revoked The decision of the greater number of bishops ought to prevail. You alone retain friendship towards that impious man."
LIBERIUS.--"O Emperor, it is a thing hitherto unheard of, that a judge should accuse the absent of impiety, as if he were his personal enemy."
THE EMPEROR.--"All without exception have been injured by him, but none so deeply as I have been. Not content with the death of my eldest brother, he never ceased to excite Constans, of blessed memory, to enmity against me; but I, with much moderation, put up alike with the vehemence of both the instigator and his victim. Not one of the victories which I have gained, not even excepting those over Magnentius and Silvanus, equals the ejection of this vile man from the government of the Church."
LIBERIUS.--"Do not vindicate your own hatred and revenge, O Emperor, by the instrumentality of bishops; for their hands ought only to be raised for purposes of blessing and of sanctification. If it be consonant with your will, command the bishops to return to their own residences; and if it appear that they are of one mind with him who to-day maintains the true doctrines of the confession of faith signed at Nicaea, then let them come together and see to the peace of the world, in order that an innocent man may not serve as a mark for reproach." THE EMPEROR.--"One question only requires to be made. I wish you to enter into communion with the churches, and to send you back to Rome. Consent therefore to peace, and sign your assent, and then you shall return to Rome."
LIBERIUS.--"I have already taken leave of the brethren who are in that city. The decrees of the Church are of greater importance than a residence in Rome."
THE EMPEROR.--"You have three days to consider whether you will sign the document and return to Rome; if not, you must choose the place of your banishment."
LIBERIUS.--"Neither three days nor three months can change my sentiments. Send me wherever you please."
After the lapse of two days the emperor sent for Liberius, and finding his opinions unchanged, he commanded him to be banished to Berets, a city of Thrace. Upon the departure of Liberius, the emperor sent him five hundred pieces of gold to defray his expenses. Liberius said to the messenger who brought them, "Go, and give them back to the emperor; he has need of them to pay his troops." The empress also sent him a sum of the same amount; he said, "Take it to the emperor, for he may want it to pay his troops; but if not, let it be given to Auxentius and Epictetus, for they stand in need of it." Eusebius the eunuch brought him other sums of money, and he thus addressed him: "You have turned all the churches of the world into a desert, and do you bring alms to me, as to a criminal? Begone, and become first a Christian ." He was sent into exile three days afterwards, without having accepted anything that was offered him.
CHAPTER XIV. Concerning the Banishment and Return of the Holy Liberius.
THIS victorious champion of the truth was sent into Thrace, according to the imperial order. Two years after this event Constantius went to Rome. The ladies of rank urged their husbands to petition the emperor for the restoration of the shepherd to his flock: they added, that if this were not granted, they would desert them, and go themselves after their great pastor. Their husbands replied, that they were afraid of incurring the resentment of the emperor. "If we were to ask him," they continued, "being men, he would deem it an unpardonable offence; but if you were yourselves to present the petition, he would at any rate spare you, and would either accede to your request, or else dismiss you without injury." These noble ladies adopted this suggestion, and presented themselves before the emperor in all their customary splendour of array, that so the sovereign, judging their rank from their dress, might count them worthy of being treated with courtesy and kindness. Thus entering the presence, they besought him to take pity on the condition of so large a city, deprived of its shepherd, and made an easy prey to the attacks of wolves. The emperor replied, that the flock possessed a shepherd capable of tending it, and that no other was needed in the city. For after the banishment of the great Liberius, one of his deacons, named Felix, had been appointed bishop. He preserved inviolate the doctrines set forth in the Nicene confession of faith, yet he held communion with those who had corrupted that faith. For this reason none of the citizens of Rome would enter the House of Prayer while he was in it. The ladies mentioned these facts to the emperor. Their persuasions were successful; and he commanded that the great Liberius should be recalled from exile, and that the two bishops should conjointly rule the Church. The edict of the emperor was read in the circus, and the multitude shouted that the imperial ordinance was just; that the spectators were divided into two factions, each deriving its name from its own colours, and that each faction would now have its own bishop. After having thus ridiculed the edict of the emperor, they all exclaimed with one voice, "One God, one Christ, one bishop." I have deemed it right to set down their precise words. Some time after this Christian people had uttered these pious and righteous acclamations, the holy Liberius returned, and Felix retired to another city.
I have, for the sake of preserving order, appended this narrative to what relates to the proceedings of the bishops at Milan. I shall now return to the relation of events in their due course.
CHAPTER XV. Council of Ariminum .
WHEN all who defended the faith had been removed, those who moulded the mind of the emperor according to their own will, flattering themselves that the faith which they opposed might be easily subverted, and Arianism established in its stead, persuaded Constantius to convene the Bishops of both East and West at Ariminum, in order to remove from the Creed the terms which had been devised by the Fathers to counteract the corrupt craft of Arius,--"substance," and "of one substance ." For they would have it that these terms had caused dissension between church and church. On their assembling in synod the partizans of the Arian faction strove to trick the majority of the bishops, especially those of cities of the Western Empire, who were men of simple and unsophisticated ways. The body of the Church, they argued again and again, must not be torn asunder for the sake of two terms which are not to be found in the Bible; and, while they confessed the propriety of describing the Son as in all things "like" the Father, pressed the omission of the word "substance" as unscriptural. The motives, however, of the propounders of these views were seen through by the Council, and they were consequently repudiated. The orthodox bishops declared their mind to the emperor in a letter; for, said they, we are sons and heirs of the Fathers of the Council of Nicaea, and if we were to have the hardihood to take away anything from what was by them subscribed, or to add anything to what they so excellently settled, we should declare ourselves no true sons, but accusers of them that begat us. But the exact terms of their confession of faith will be more accurately given in the words of their letter to Constantius. Letter written to the Emperor Constantius by the Synod assembled at Ariminum.
"Summoned, we believe, at the bidding of God, and in obedience to your piety, we bishops of the Western Church assembled in synod at Ariminum in order that the faith of the Church Catholic might be set forth, and its opponents exposed. After long consideration we have found it to be plainly best for us to hold fast and guard, and by guarding keep safe unto the end, the faith established from the first, preached by Prophets, and Evangelists, and Apostles, through our Lord Jesus Christ, warden of thy empire, and champion of thy salvation. For it is plainly absurd and unlawful to make any change in the doctrines rightly and justly defined, and in matters examined at Nicaea with the cognisance of the right glorious Constantine, thy Father and Emperor, whereof the teaching and spirit was published and preached that mankind might hear and understand. This faith was destined to be the one rival and destroyer of the Arian heresy, and by it not only the Arian itself, but likewise all other heresies were undone. To this faith to add aught is verily perilous; from it to subtract aught is to run great risk. If it have either addition or loss, our foes will feel free to act as they please. Accordingly Ursacius and Valens, declared adherents and friends of the Arian dogma, were pronounced separate from our communion. To keep their place in it, they asked to be granted a locus penitentioe and pardon for all the points wherein they had owned themselves in error; as is testified by the documents written by themselves, by means of which they obtained favour and forgiveness. These events were going on at the very time when the synod was meeting at Milan, the presbyters of the church of Rome being also present. It was known that Constantine, who, though dead, is worthy of remembrance, had, with all exactitude and care, set forth the creed drawn up: and now that, after receiving Baptism, he was dead, and had passed away to the peace which he deserved. We judged it absurd for us after him to indulge in any innovation, and throw a slur on all the holy confessors and martyrs who had devised and formulated this doctrine, in that their minds have ever remained bound by the old bond of the Church. Their faith God has handed down even to the times of thy own reign, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whose grace such empire is thine that thou rulest over all the world. Yet again those pitiable and wretched men, with lawless daring, have proclaimed themselves preachers of their unholy opinion, and are taking in hand the overthrow of all the force of the truth. For when at thy command the synod assembled, then they laid bare their own disingenuous desires. For they set about trying through villany and confusion to make innovation. They got hold of certain of their own follow- ing,--one Germanius, and Auxentius, and Caius, promoters of heresy and discord, whose doctrine, though but one, transcends a very host of blasphemies. When, however, they became aware that we were not of their way of thinking, nor in sympathy with their vicious projects, they made their way into our meeting as though to make some other proposal, but a very short time was enough to convict them of their real intentions. Therefore in order to save the management of the Church from falling from time to time into the same difficulties, and to prevent them from being confounded in whirlpools of disturbance and disorder, it has seemed the safe course to keep what has been defined aforetime fixed and unchanged, and to separate the above-named from our communion. Wherefore we have sent envoys to your clemency to signify and explain the mind of the synod as expressed in this letter. These envoys before all things we have charged to guard the truth in accordance with the old and right definitions. They are to inform your holiness, not as did Ursacius and Valens, that there will be peace if the truth be upset; for how can the destroyers of peace be agents of peace? but rather that these changes will bring strife and disturbance, as well on the rest of the cities, as on the Roman church. Wherefore we beseech your clemency to receive our envoys with kindly ears and gentle mien, and not to suffer any new thing to flout the dead. Suffer us to abide in the definition and settlement of our Fathers, whom we would un-hesitatingly declare to have done all they did with intelligence and wisdom, and with the Holy Ghost. The innovation now sought to be introduced is filling the faithful with unbelief, and unbelievers with credulity .
"We beg you to order bishops in distant parts, who are afflicted alike by advanced age and poverty, to be provided with facilities for travelling home, that the churches be not left long deprived of their bishops.
"And yet again this one thing we supplicate, that nothing be taken from or added to the established doctrines, but that all remain unbroken, as they have been preserved by your father's piety, and to our own day. Let us toil no longer nor be kept away from our own dioceses, but let the bishops with their own people spend their days in peace, in prayer, and in worship, offering supplication for thy empire, and health, and peace, which God shall grant thee for ever and ever. Our envoys, who will also instruct your holiness out of the sacred Scriptures, convey the signatures and salutations of the bishops."
The letter was written, and the envoys sent, but the high officers of the Imperial Court, though they took the despatch and delivered it to their master, refused to introduce the envoys, on the ground that the sovereign was occupied with state affairs. They took this course in the hope that the bishops, annoyed at delay, and eager to return to the cities entrusted to their care, would at length be compelled themselves to break up and disperse the bulwark erected against heresy. But their ingenuity was frustrated, for the noble champions of the Faith despatched a second letter to the emperor, exhorting him to admit the envoys to audience and dissolve the synod. This letter I subjoin.
The Second Letter of the Synod to Constantius.
"To Constantius the Victorious, the pious emperor, the bishops assembled at Ariminum send greeting.
"Most illustrious lord and autocrat, we have received the letter of your clemency, informing us that, in consequence of occupations of state, you have hitherto been unable to see our envoys. You bid us await their return, that your piety may come to a decision on the object we have in view, and on the decrees of our predecessors. But we venture in this letter to repeat to your clemency the point which we urged before, for we have in no way withdrawn from our position. We entreat you to receive with benign countenance the letter of our humility, wherein now we make answer to your piety, and the points which we have ordered to be submitted to your benignity by our envoys. Your clemency is no less aware than we are ourselves how serious and unfitting a state of things it is, that in the time of your most happy reign so many churches should seem to be without bishops. Wherefore once again, most glorious autocrat, we beseech you that, if it be pleasing to your humanity, you will command us to return to our churches before the rigour of winter, that we may be able, with our people, as we have done and ever do, to offer most earnest prayers for the health anti wealth of your empire to Almighty God, and to Christ His Son, our Lord and Saviour."
Concerning the Synod held at Nica in Thrace, and the Confession of Faith drawn up there. AftER this letter they irritated the emperor, and got the majority of the bishops, against their will, to a certain town of Thrace, of the name of Nica. Some simple men they deluded, and others they terrified, into carrying out their old contrivance for injuring the true religion, by erasing the words "Substance" and "of one Substance" from the Creed, and inserting instead of them the word "like." I insert their formula in this history, not as being couched in proper terms, but because it convicts the faction of Arius, for it is not even accepted by the disaffected of the present time. Now, instead of "the like" they preach "the unlike ."
Unsound Creed put forth at Nica in Thrace.
"We believe in one only true God, Father Almighty, of Whom are all things. And in the only-begotten Son of God, Who before all ages and before every beginning was begotten of God, through Whom all things were made, both visible and invisible: alone begotten, only-begotten of the Father alone, God of God: like the Father that begat Him, according to the Scriptures, Whose generation no one knoweth except only the Father that begot Him. This Only-begotten Son of God, sent by His Father, we know to have come down from heaven, as it is written, for the destruction of sin and death; begotten of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary, as it is written, according to the flesh. Who companied with His disciples, and when the dispensation was fulfilled, according to the Father's will, was crucified, dead, and buried, and descended to the world below, at Whom Hell himself trembled. On the third day He rose from the dead and companied with His disciples forty days. He was taken up into Heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of His Father, and is coming at the last day of the Resurrection, in His Father's Glory, to render to every one according to his works. And we believe in the Holy Ghost, which the Only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, both God and Lord, promised to send to man, the Comforter, as it is written, the Spirit of Truth. This Spirit He Himself sent after He had ascended into Heaven and sat at the right hand of the Father, from thence to come to judge both quick and dead. But the word 'the Substance,' which was too simply inserted by the Fathers, and, not being understood by the people, was a cause of scandal through its not being found in the Scriptures, it hath seemed good to us to remove, and that for the future no mention whatever be permitted of 'Substance,' on account of the sacred Scriptures nowhere making any mention of the 'Substance' of the Father and the Son. Nor must one 'essence ' be named in relation to the person s of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And we call the Son like the Father, as the Holy Scriptures call Him and teach; but all the heresies, both those already condemned, and any, if such there be, which have risen against the document thus put forth, let them be Anathema."
This Creed was subscribed by the bishops, some being frightened and some cajoled, but those who refused to give in their adhesion were banished to the most remote regions of the world.
CHAPTER XVII. Synodical Act of Damasus, Bishop of Rome, and of the Western Bishops, about the Council at Ariminum.
THE condemnation of this formula by all the champions of the truth, and specially those of the West, is shewn by the letter which they wrote to the Illyrians . First of the signatories was Damasus, who obtained the presidency of the church of Rome after Liberius, and was adorned with many virtues . With him signed ninety bishops of Italy and Galatia, now called Gaul, who met together at Rome. I would have inserted their names but that I thought it superfluous.
"The bishops assembled at Rome in sacred synod Damasus and Valerianus and the rest, to their beloved brethren the bishops of Illyria, send greeting in God.
"We believe that we, priests of God, by whom it is fight for the rest to be instructed, are holding and teaching our people the Holy Creed which was founded on the teaching of the Apostles, and in no way departs from the definitions of the Fathers. But through a report of the brethren in Gaul and Venetia we have learnt that certain men are fallen into heresy.
"It is the duty of the bishops not only to take precautions against this mischief, but also to make a stand against whatever divergent teaching has arisen, either from incomplete instruction, or the simplicity of readers of unsound commentators. They should be minded not to slide into slippery paths, but rather whensoever divergent counsels are carried to their ears, to hold fast the doctrine of our fathers. It has, therefore, been decided that Auxentius of Milan is in this matter specially condemned. So it is right that all the teachers of the law in the Roman Empire should be well instructed in the law, and not befoul the faith with divergent doctrines.
"When first the wickedness of the heretics began to flourish, and when, as now, the blasphemy of the Arians was crawling to the front, our fathers, three hundred and eighteen bishops, the holiest prelates in the Roman Empire, deliberated at Nicaea. The wall which they set up against the weapons of the devil, and the antidote wherewith they repelled his deadly poisons, was their confession that the Father and the Son are of one substance, one godhead, one virtue, one power, one likeness, and that the Holy Ghost is of the same essence and substance. Whoever did not thus think was judged separate from our communion. Their deliberation was worthy of all respect, and their definition sound. But certain men have intended by other later discussions to corrupt and befoul it. Yet, at the very outset, error was so far set right by the bishops on whom the attempt was made at Ariminum to compel them to manipulate or innovate on the faith, that they confessed themselves seduced by opposite arguments, or owned that they had not perceived any contradiction to the opinion of the Fathers livered at Nicaea. No prejudice could arise from the number of bishops gathered at Ariminum, since it is well known that neither the bishop of the Romans, whose opinion ought before all others to have been waited for, nor Vincentius, whose stainless episcopate had lasted so many years, nor the rest, gave in their adhesion to such doctrines. And this is the more significant, since, as has been already said, the very men who seemed to be tricked into surrender, themselves, in their wiser moments, testified their disapproval.
"Your sincerity then perceives that this one faith, which was founder at Nicaea on the authority of the Apostles, ought to be kept secure for ever. You perceive that with us, the bishops of the East, who confess themselves Catholic, and the western bishops, together glory in it. We believe that before long those who think otherwise ought without delay to be put out from our communion, and deprived of the name of bishop, that their flocks may be freed from error and breathe freely. For they cannot be expected to correct the errors of their people when they themselves are the victims of error. May the opinion of your reverence be in harmony with that of all the priests of God. We believe you to be fixed and firm in it, and thus ought we tightly to believe with you. May your charity make us glad by your reply.
"Beloved brethren, farewell."
CHAPTER XVIII. The Letter of Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, concerning the same Council.
The great Athanasius also, in his letter to the Africans, writes thus about the council at Ariminum. "Under these circumstances who will tolerate any mention of the council of Ariminum or any other beside the Nicene? Who would not express detestation of the setting aside of the words of the Fathers, and the preference for those introduced at Ari- minum by violence and party strife? Who would wish to be associated with these men--fellows who do not, forsooth, accept their own words? In their own ten or a dozen synods they have laid down, as has been narrated already, now one thing now another; and at the present time these synods, one after another, they are themselves openly denouncing. They are now suffering the fate undergone of old by the traitors of the Jews. For as is written in the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah "they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water," so these men, in their opposition to the OEcumenical synod, have hewed for themselves many synods which have all proved vain and like "buds that yield no meal," let us not therefore admit those who cite the council of Ariminum or any other but that of Nicaea, for indeed the very citers of Ariminum do not seem to know what was done there; if they had they would have held their tongues. For you, beloved, have learnt from your own representatives at that Council, and are consequently very well aware, that Ursacius, Valens, Eudoxius, and Auxentius, and with them Demophilus were asked to anathematize the Arian heresy, and made excuse, choosing rather to be its champions, and so were all deposed for making propositions contrary to the Nicene decrees. The bishops, on the contrary, who were the true servants of the Lord, and of the right faith,--about two hundred in number.--declared their adherence to the Nicene Council alone, and their refusal to entertain the thought of either subtraction from, or addition to, its decrees. This conclusion they have communicated to Constantius, by whose order the council assembled.
On the other hand the bishops who were deposed at Ariminum have been received by Constantius, and have succeeded in getting the two hundred who sentenced them grossly insulted, and threatened with not being allowed to return to their dioceses, and with having to undergo rigorous treatment in Thrace, and that in the winter, in order to force them to accept the innovators' measures.
If, then, we hear any one appealing to Ariminum, show us, let us rejoin, first the sentence of deposition, and then the document drawn up by the bishops, in which they declare that they do not seek to go beyond the terms drawn up by the Nicene Fathers, nor appeal to any other council than that of Nicaea. In reality, these are just the facts they conceal, while they put prominently forward the forced confession of Thrace. They do but shew themselves friends of the Arian heresy, and strangers to the sound faith. Only let any one be willing to put side by side that great synod, and those others to which these men appeal, and he will perceive, on the one side, true religion, on the other, folly and disorder. The fathers of Nicaea met together not after being deposed, but after confessing that the Son was of the Substance of the Father. These men were deposed once, a second time, and again a third time at Ariminum, and then dared to lay down that it is wrong to attribute Substance or Essence to God. So strange and so many were the tricks and machinations concocted by the mad gang of Arius in the West against the dogmas of the Truth.
CHAPTER XIX. Concerning the cunning of Leontius, Bishop of Antioch, and the boldness of Flavianus and Diadorus.
AT Antioch Placidus was succeeded by Stephanus, who was expelled from the Church. Leontius then accepted the Primacy, but in violation of the decrees of the Nicene Council, for he had mutilated himself, and was an eunuch. The cause of his rash deed is thus narrated by the blessed Athanasius. Leontius, it seems, was the victim of slanderous statements on account of a certain young woman of the name of Eustolia. Finding himself prevented from dwelling with her he mutilated himself for her sake, in order that he might feel free to live with her. But he did not clear himself of suspicion, and all the more for this reason was deposed from the presbyterate. So much Athanasius has written about the rest of his earlier life. I shall now give a summary exposure of his evil conduct. Now though he shared the Arian error, he always endeavoured to conceal his unsoundness. He observed that the clergy and the rest of the people were divided into two parts, the one, in giving glory to the Son, using the conjunction ''and," the other using the preposition "through" of the Son, and applying "in" to the Holy Ghost. He himself offered all the doxology in silence, and all that those standing near him could hear was the "For ever and ever." And had not the exceeding wickedness of his sold been betrayed by other means, it might have been said that he adopted this contrivance from a wish to promote concord among the people. But when he had wrought much mischief to the champions of the truth, and continued to give every support to the promoters of impiety, he was convicted of concealing his own unsoundness. He was influenced both by his fear of the people, and by the grievous threats which Constantius had uttered against any who had dared to say that the Son was unlike the Father. His real sentiments were however proved by his conduct. Followers of the Apostolic doctrines never received from him either ordination or indeed the least encouragement. Men, on the other hand, who sided with the Arian superstition, were both allowed perfect liberty in expressing their opinions, and were from time to time admitted to priestly office. At this juncture Aetius, the master of Eunomius, who promoted the Arian error by his speculations, was admitted to the diaconate. Flavianus and Diodorus, however, who had embraced an ascetic career, and were open champions of the Apostolic decrees, publicly protested against the attacks of Leontius against true religion. That a man nurtured in iniquity and scheming to win notoriety by ungodliness should be counted worthy of the diaconate, was, they urged, a disgrace to the Church. They further threatened that they would withdraw from his communion, travel to the western empire, and publish his plots to the world. Leontius was now alarmed, and suspended Aetius from his sacred office, but continued to show him marked favour.
That excellent pair Flavianus and Diodorus, though not vet admitted to the priesthood and still ranked with the laity, worked night and day to stimulate men's zeal for truth. They were the first to divide choirs into two parts, and to teach them to sing the psalms of David antiphonally. Introduced first at Antioch, the practice spread in all directions, and penetrated to the ends of the earth. Its originators now collected the lovers of the Divine word and work into the Churches of the Martyrs, and with them spent the night in singing psalms to God.
When Leontius perceived this, he did not think it safe to try to prevent them, for he saw that the people were exceedingly well-disposed towards these excellent men. However, putting a colour of courtesy on his speech, he requested that they would perform this act of worship in the churches. They were perfectly well aware of his evil intent. Nevertheless they set about obeying his behest and readily summoned their choir to the Church, exhorting them to sing praises to the good Lord. Nothing, however, could induce Leontius to correct his wickedness, but be put on the mask of equity, and concealed the iniquity of Stephanus and Placidus. Men who had accepted the corruption of the faith of priests and deacons, although they had embraced a life of vile irregularity, he added to the roll; while others adorned with every kind of virtue and firm adherents of apostolic doctrines, he left unrecognised. Thus it came to pass that among the clergy were numbered a majority of men tainted with heresy, while the mass of the laity were champions of the Faith, and even professional teachers lacked courage to lay bare their blasphemy. In truth the deeds of impiety and iniquity done by Placidus, Stephanus, and Leontius, in Antioch are so many as to want a special history of their own, and so terrible as to be worthy of the lament of David; for of them too it must be said "For lo thy enemies make a murmuring and they that hate thee lift up their head. They have imagined craftily against the people and taken counsel against thy secret ones. They have said come and let us root them out that they be no more a people: and that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance."
Let us now continue the course of our narrative.
CHAPTER XX. Concerning the innovations of Eudoxius, of Germanicia, and the zeal of Basilius of Ancyra, and of Eustathius of Sebasteia against him.
GERMANICIA is a city on the coasts of Cilicia, Syria, and Cappadocia, and belongs to the province called Euphratisia. Eudoxius, the head of its church, directly, he heard of the death of Leontius, betook himself to Antioch and clutched the see, where he ravaged the vineyard of the Lord like a wild boar. He did not even attempt to hide his evil ways, like Leontius, but raged in direct attack upon the apostolic decrees, and involved in various troubles all who had the hardihood to gainsay him. Now at this time Basilius had succeeded Marcellus, and held the helm of the church of Ancyra, the capital of Galatia, and Sebastia, the chief city of Armenia, was under the guidance of Eustathius. No sooner had these bishops heard of the iniquity and madness of Eudoxius, than they wrote to inform the Emperor Constantius of his audacity. Constantius was now still tarrying in the west, and, after the death of the tyrants, was endeavouring to heal the harm they had caused. Both bishops were well known to the Emperor and had great influence with him on account of the high character they bore.
CHAPTER XXI. Of the Second Council of Nicaea.
ON receipt of these despatches Constantius wrote to the Antiochenes denying that he had committed the see of Antioch to Eudoxius, as Eudoxius had publicly announced. He ordered that Eudoxius be banished, and be punished for the course he had taken at the Bithynian Nicaea, where he bad ordered the synod to assemble. Eudoxius himself had persuaded the officers entrusted with authority in the imperial household to fix Nicaea for the Council. But the Supreme Ruler and Governor, who knows the future like the past, stopped the assembly by a mighty earthquake, whereby the greater part of the city was overthrown, and most of the inhabitants destroyed. On learning this the assembled bishops were seized with panic, and returned to their own churches. But I regard this as a contrivance of the divine wisdom, for in that city the doctrine of the faith of the apostles had been defined by the holy Fathers. In that same city the bishops who were assembling on this later occasion were intending to lay down the contrary. The sameness of name would have been sure to furnish a means of deception to the Arian crew, and trick unsophisticated souls. They meant to call the council "the Nicene," and identify it with the famous council of old. But He who has care for the churches disbanded the synod.
CHAPTER XXII. Of the Council held at Seleucia in Isauria.
AFTER a time, at the suggestion of the accusers of Eudoxius, Constantius ordered the synod to be held at Seleucia. This town of Isauria lies on the seashore and is the chief town of the district. Hither the bishops of the East, and with them those of Pontus in Asia, were ordered to assemble. The see of Caesarea, the capital of Palestine, was now held by Acacius, who had succeeded Eusebius. He had been condemned by the council of Sardica, but had expressed contempt for so large an assembly of bishops, and had refused to accept their adverse decision. At Jerusalem Macarius, whom I have often mentioned, was succeeded by Maximus, a man conspicuous in his struggles on behalf of religion, for he had been deprived of his right eye and maimed in his right arm.
On his translation to the life which knows no old age, Cyrillus, an earnest champion of the apostolic decrees, was dignified with the Episcopal office. These men in their contentions with one another for the first place brought great calamities on the state. Acacius seized some small occasion, deposed Cyrillus, and drove him from Jerusalem. But Cyrillus passed by Antioch, which he had found without a pastor, and came to Tarsus, where he dwelt with the excellent Silvanus, then bishop of that see. No sooner did Acacius become aware of this than he wrote to Silvanus and informed him of the deposition of Cyrillus. Silvanus however, both out of regard for Cyrillus, and not without suspicion of his people, who greatly enjoyed the stranger's teaching, refused to prohibit him from taking a part in the ministrations of the church. When however they had arrived at Seleucia, Cyrillus joined with the party of Basilius and Eustathius and Silvanus and the rest in the council. But when Acacius joined the assembled bishops, who numbered one hundred and fifty, he refused to be associated in their counsels before Cyrillus, as one stripped of his bishopric, had been put out from among them. There were some who, eager for peace, besought Cyrillus to withdraw, with a pledge that after the decision of the decrees they would enquire into his case. He would not give way, and Acacius left them and went out. Then meeting Eudoxius he removed his alarm, and encouraged him with a promise that he would stand his friend and supporter. Thus he hindered him from taking part in the council, and set out with him for Constantinople.
CHAPTER XXIII. Of what befell the orthodox bishops at Constantinople.
CONSTANTIUS, on his return from the West, passed some time at Constantinople. There Acacius urged many accusations against the assembled bishops m presence of the emperor, called them a set of vile characters convoked for the ruin and destruction of the churches, and so fired the imperial wrath. And not least was Constantius moved by what was alleged against Cyrillus, "for," said Acachius, "the holy robe, which the illustrious Constantine the emperor, in his desire to honour the church of Jerusalem, gave to Macarius, the bishop of that city, to be worn when he performed the rite of divine baptism, all fashioned with golden threads as it was, has been sold by Cyrillus. It has been bought," he continued, "by a certain stage dancer; dancing about when he was wearing it, he fell down and perished. With a man like this Cyrillus," he went on, "they set themselves up to judge and decide for the rest of the world." The influential party at the court made this an occasion for persuading the emperor not to summon the whole synod, for they were alarmed at the concord of the majority, but only ten leading men. Of these were Eustathius of Armenia, Basilius of Galatia, Silvanus of Tarsus, and Eleusius of Cyzicus. On their arrival they urged the emperor that Eudoxius should be convicted of blasphemy and lawlessness. Constantius, however, schooled by the opposite party, replied that a decision must first be come to on matters concerning the faith, and that afterwards the case of Eudoxius should be enquired into. Basilius, relying on his former intimacy, ventured boldly to object to the emperor that he was attacking the apostolic decrees; but Constantius took this ill, and told Basilius to hold his tongue, "for to you," said he, "the disturbance of the churches is due." When Basilius was silenced, Eustathius intervened and said, "since, sir, you wish a decision to be come to on what concerns the faith, consider the blasphemies rashly uttered against the Only Begotten by Eudoxius," and as he spoke he produced the exposition of faith wherein, besides many other impieties, were found the following expressions: "Things that are spoken of in unlike terms are unlike in substance:" "There is one God the Father of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things." Now the term "of whom" is unlike the term "through whom;" so the Son is unlike God the Father. Constantius ordered this exposition of the faith to be read, and was displeased with the blasphemy which it involved. He therefore asked Eudoxius if he had drawn it up. Eudoxius instantly repudiated the authorship, and said that it was written by Aetius. Now Aetius was he whom Leontius, in dread of the accusations of Flavianus and Diodorus, had formerly degraded from the diaconate. He had also been the supporter of Georgius, the treacherous foe of the Alexandrians, alike in his impious words and his unholy deeds. At the present time he was associated with Eunomius and Eudoxius; for, on the death of Leontius, when Eudoxius had laid violent hands on the episcopal throne of the church at Antioch, he returned from Egypt with Eunomius, and, as he found Eudoxius to be of the same way of thinking as himself, a sybarite in luxury as well as a heretic in faith, he chose Antioch as the most congenial place of abode, and both he and Eunomius were fast fixtures at the couches of Eudoxius. His highest ambition was to be a successful parasite, and he spent his whole time in going to gorge himself at one man's table or another's. The emperor had been told all this, and now ordered Aetius to be brought before him. On his appearance Constantius showed him the document in question and proceeded to enquire if he was the author of its language. Aetius, totally ignorant of what had taken place, and unaware of the drift of the enquiry, expected that he should win praise by confession, and owned that he was the author of the phrases in question. Then the emperor perceived the greatness of his iniquity, and forthwith condemned him to exile and to be deported to a place in Phrygia. So Aetius reaped disgrace as the fruit of blasphemy, and was cast out of the palace. Eustathius then alleged that Eudoxius too held the same views, for that Aetius had shared his roof and his table, and had drawn up this blasphemous formula in submission to his judgement. In proof of his contention that Eudoxius was concerned in drawing up the document he urged the fact that no one had attributed it to Aetius except Eudoxius himself. To this the emperor enjoined that judges must not decide on conjecture, but are bound to make exact examination of the facts. Eustathius assented, and urged that Eudoxius should give proof of his dissent from the sentiments attributed to him by anathematizing the composition of Aetius. This suggestion the emperor very readily accepted, and gave his orders accordingly; but Eudoxius drew back, and employed many shifts to evade compliance. But when the emperor waxed wroth and threatened to send him off to share the exile of Aetius, on the ground that he was a partner in the blasphemy so punished, he repudiated his own doctrine, though both then and afterwards he persistently maintained it. However, he in his turn protested against the Eustathians that it was their duty to condemn the word "Homousion" as unscriptural.
Silvanus on the contrary pointed out that it was their duty to reject and expel from their holy assemblies the phrases "out of the non-existent" and "creature" and "of another substance," these terms being also unscriptural and found in the writings of neither prophets nor apostles. Constantius decided that this was right, and bade the Arians pronounce the condemnation. At first they persisted in refusing; but in the end, when they saw the emperor's wrath, they consented, though much against the grain, to condemn the terms Silvanus had put before them. But all the more earnestly they insisted on their demand for the condemnation of the "Homousion." But then with unanswerable logic Silvanus put both before the Arians and the emperor the truth that if God the Word is not of the nonExistent, He is not a Creature, and is not of another Substance. He is then of one Sub- stance with God Who begat Him, as God of God and Light of Light, and has the same nature as the Begetter. This contention he urged with power and with truth, but not one of his hearers was convinced. The party of Acacius and Eudoxius raised a mighty uproar; the emperor was angered, and threatened expulsion from their churches. Thereupon Eleusius and Silvanus and the rest said that while authority to punish lay with the emperor, it was their province to decide on points of piety or impiety, and "we will not," they protested, "betray the doctrine of the Fathers."
Constantius ought to have admired both their wisdom and their courage, and their bold defence of the apostolic decrees, but he exiled them from their churches, and ordered others to be appointed in their place. Thereupon Eudoxius laid violent hands on the Church of Constantinople; and on the expulsion of Eleusius from Cyzicus, Eunomius was appointed in his place.
CHAPTER XXIV. Synodical Epistle written against Aetius.
AFTER these transactions the emperor ordered Aetius to be condemned by a formal Letter, and, in obedience to the command, his companions in iniquity condemned their own associate. Accordingly they wrote to Georgius, bishop of Alexandria, the letter about him to which I shall give a place in my history, in order to expose their wickedness, for they treated their friends and their foes precisely in the same way.
Copy of the Letter written by the whole council to Georgius against Aetius his deacon, on account of his iniquitous blasphemy. To the right honourable Lord Georgius, Bishop of Alexandria, the holy Synod in Constantinople assembled, GREETING.
In consequence of the condemnation of Aetius by the Synod, on account of his unlawful and most offensive writings, he has been dealt with by the bishops in accordance with the canons of the church. He has been degraded from the diaconate and expelled from the Church, and our admonitions have gone forth that none are to read his unlawful epistles, but that on account of their unprofitable and worthless character they are to be cast aside. We have further appended an anathema on him, if he abides in his opinion, and on his supporters.
It would naturally have followed that all the bishops met together in the Synod should have felt detestation of, and approved the sentence delivered against, a man who is the author of offences, disturbances and schisms, of agitation over all the world, and of rising of church against church. But in spite of our prayers, and against all our expectation, Seras, Stephanus, Heliodorus and Theophilus and their party have not voted with us, and have not even consented to subscribe the sentence delivered against him, although Seras charged the aforenamed Aetius with another instance of insane arrogance, alleging that he, with still bolder impudence, had sprung forward to declare that what God had concealed from the Apostles had been now revealed to him. Even after these wild and boastful words, reported by Seras about Aetius, the aforenamed bishops were not put out of countenance, nor could they be induced to vote with us on his condemnation. We however with much long suffering bore with them for a great length of time, now indignant, now beseeching, now importuning them to join with us and make the decision of the Synod unanimous; and we persevered long in the hope that they might hear and agree and give in. But when in spite of all this patience we could not shame them into acceptance of our declarations against the aforesaid offender, we counted the rule of the church more precious than the friendship of men, and pronounced against them a decree of excommunication, allowing them a period of six mouths for conversion, repentance, and the expression of a desire for union and harmony with the synod. If within the given time they should turn and accept agreement with their brethren and assent to the decrees about Aetius, we decided that they should be received into the church, to the recovery of their own authority in synods, and our affection. If however they obstinately persisted, and preferred human friendship to the canons of the church and our affection, then we judged them deposed from the rank of the bishops. If they suffer degradation it is necessary to appoint other bishops in their place, that the lawful church may be duly ordered and at unity with herself, while all the bishops of every nation by uttering the same doctrine with one mind and one counsel preserve the bond of love.
To acquaint you with the decree of the Synod we have sent these present to your reverence, and pray that you may abide by them, and by the grace of Christ rule the churches under you aright and in peace.
CHAPTER XXV. Of the causes which separated the Eunomians from the Arians.
EUNOMIUS in his writings praises Aetius, styles him a man of God, and honours him with many compliments. Yet he was at that time closely associated with the party by whom Aetius had been repudiated, and to them he owed his election to his bishopric.
Now the followers of Eudoxius and Acacius, who had assented to the decrees put forth at Nice in Thrace, already mentioned in this history, appointed other bishops in the churches of the adherents of Basilius and Eleusius in their stead. On other points I think it superfluous to write in detail. I purpose only to relate what concerns Eunomius.
For when Eunomius had seized on the see of Cyzicus in the lifetime of Eleusius, Eudoxius urged him to hide his opinions and not make them known to the party who were seeking a pretext to persecute him. Eudoxius was moved to offer this advice both by his knowledge that the diocese was sound in the faith and his experience of the anger manifested by Constantius against the party who asserted the only begotten Son of God to be a created being. "Let us" said he to Eunomius "bide our time; when it comes we will preach what now we are keeping dark; educate the ignorant; and win over or compel or punish our opponents." Eunomius, yielding to these suggestions, pro-pounded his impious doctrine under the shadow of obscurity. Those of his hearers who had been nurtured on the divine oracles saw clearly that his utterances concealed under their surface a foul fester of error.
But however distressed they were they considered it less the part of prudence than of rashness to make any open protest, so they assumed a mask of heretical heterodoxy, and paid a visit to the bishop at his private residence with the earnest request that he would have regard to the distress of men borne hither and thither by different doctrines, and would plainly expound the truth. Eunomius thus emboldened declared the sentiments which he secretly held. The deputation then went on to remark that it was unfair and indeed quite wrong for the whole of his diocese to be prevented from having their share of the truth. By these and similar arguments he was induced to lay bare his blasphemy in the public assemblies of the church. Then his opponents hurried with angry fervour to Constantinople; first they indicted him before Eudoxius, and when Eudoxius refused to see them, sought an audience of the emperor and made lamentation over the ruin their bishop was wreaking among them. "The sermons of Eunomius," they said, "are more impious than the blasphemies of Arius." The wrath of Constantius was roused, and he commanded Eudoxius to send for Eunomius, and, on his conviction, to strip him of his bishopric. Eudoxius, of course, though again and again importuned by the accusers, continued to delay taking action. Then once more they approached the emperor with vociferous complaints that Eudoxius had not obeyed the imperial commands in any single particular, and was perfectly indifferent to the delivery of an important city to the blasphemies of Eunomius. Then said Constantius to Eudoxius, if you do not fetch Eunomius and try him, and on conviction of the charges brought against him, punish him, I shall exile you. This threat frightened Eudoxius, so he wrote to Eunomius to escape from Cyzicus, and told him he had only himself to blame because he had not followed the hints given him. Eunomius accordingly withdrew in alarm, but he could not endure the disgrace, and endeavoured to fix the guilt of his betrayal on Eudoxius, maintaining that both he and Aetius had been cruelly treated. And from that time he set up a sect of his own for all the men who were of his way of thinking and condemned his betrayal, separated from Eudoxius and joined with Eunomius, whose name they bear up to this day. So Eunomius became the founder of a heresy, and added to the blasphemy of Arius by his own peculiar guilt. He set up a sect of his own because he was a slave to his ambition, as the facts distinctly prove. For when Aetius was condemned and exiled, Eunomius refused to accompany him, though he called him his master and a man of God, but remained closely associated with Eudoxius.
But when his turn came he paid the penalty of his iniquity; he did not submit to the vote of the synod, but began to ordain bishops and presbyters, though himself deprived of his episcopal rank. These then were the deeds done at Constantinople.
CHAPTER XXVI. Of the siege of the city of Nisibis, and the apostolic conversation of Bishop Jacobus.
ON war being waged against the Romans by Sapor King of Persia, Constantius mustered his forces and marched to Antioch. But the enemy were driven forth, not by the Roman army, but by Him whom the pious in the Roman host worshipped as their God. How the victory- was won I shall now proceed to relate.
Nisibis, sometimes called Antiochia Mygdonia, lies on the confines of the realms of Persia and of Rome. In Nisibis Jacobus whom I named just now was at once bishop, guardian, and commander in chief. He was a man who shone with the grace of a truly apostolic character. His extraordinary and memorable miracles, which I have fully related in my religious history, I think it superfluous and irrelevant to enumerate again.
One however I will record because of the subject before us. The city which Jacobus ruled was now in possession of the Romans, and besieged by the Persian Army. The blockade was prolonged for seventy days. "Helepoles" and many other engines were advanced to the walls. The town was begirt with a palisade and entrenchment, but still held out. The river Mygdonius flowing through the middle of the town, at last the Persians dammed its stream a considerable distance up, and increased the height of its bank on both sides so as to shut the waters in. When they saw that a great mass of water was collected and already beginning to overflow the dam, they suddenly launched it like an engine against the wall. The impact was tremendous; the bulwarks could not sustain it, but gave way and fell down. Just the same fate befell the other side of the circuit, through which the Mygdonius made its exit; it could not withstand the shock, and was carried away. No sooner did Sapor see this than he expected to capture the rest of the city, and for all that day be rested for the mud to dry and the river to become passable. Next day he attacked in full force, and looked to enter the city through the breaches that had been made. But he found the wall built up on both sides, and all his labour vain. For that holy man, through prayer, filled with valour both the troops and the rest of the townsfolk, and both built the walls, withstood the engines, and beat off the advancing foe. And all this he did without approaching the walls, but by beseeching the Lord of all within the church. Sapor, moreover, was not only astounded at the speed of the building of the walls but awed by another spectacle. For he saw standing on the battlements one of kingly mien and all ablaze with purple robe and crown. He supposed that this was the Roman emperor. and threatened his attendants with death for not having announced the imperial presence; but on their stoutly maintaining that their report had been a true one and that Constantius was at Antioch, he perceived the meaning of the vision and exclaimed "their God is fighting for the Romans." Then the wretched man in a rage flung a javelin into the air, though he knew that be could not hit a bodiless being, but unable to curb his passion. Therefore the excellent Ephraim (he is the best writer among the Syrians) besought the divine Jacobus to mount the wall to see the barbarians and to let fly at them the darts of his curse. So the divine man consented and climbed up into a tower but when he saw the innumerable host he discharged no other curse than to that mosquitoes and gnats might be sent forth upon them, so that by means of these tiny animals they might learn the might of the Protector of the Romans. On his prayer followed clouds of mosquitoes and gnats; they filled the hollow trunks of the elephants, and the ears and nostrils of horses and other animals. Finding the attack of these little creatures past endurance they broke their bridles, unseated their riders and threw the ranks into confusion. The Persians abandoned their camp and fled head-long. So the wretched prince learned by a slight and kindly chastisement the power of the God who protects the pious, and marched his army home again, reaping for all the harvest of the siege not triumph but disgrace.
CHAPTER XXVII. Of the Council of Antioch and what was dane there against the holy Meletius.
AT this time. Constantius was residing at Antioch. The Persian war was over; there had been a time of peace, and he once again gathered bishops together with the object of making them all deny both the formula "of one substance" and also the formula "of different substance." On the death of Leontius, Eudoxius had seized the see of Antioch, but on his expulsion and illegal establishment, after many synods, at Constantinople, the church of Antioch had been left without a shepherd. Accordingly the assembled bishops, gathered in considerable numbers from every quarter, asserted that their primary obligation was to provide a pastor for the flock and that then with him they would deliberate on matters of faith. It fell out opportunely that the divine Meletius who was ruling a certain city of Armenia had been grieved with the insubordination of the people under his rule and was now living without occupation elsewhere. The Arian faction imagined that Meletius was of the same way of thinking as themselves, and an upholder of their doctrines. They therefore petitioned Constantius to commit to his hands the reins of the Antiochene church. Indeed in the hope of establishing their impiety there was no law that they did not fearlessly transgress; illegality was becoming the very foundation of their blasphemy; nor was this an isolated specimen of their irregular proceedings. On the other hand the maintainers of apostolic doctrine, who were perfectly well aware of the soundness of the great Meletius, and had clear knowledge of his stainless character and wealth of virtue, came to a common vote. and took measures to have their resolution written out and subscribed by all without delay. This document both parties as a bond of compromise entrusted to the safe keeping of a bishop who was a noble champion of the truth, Eusebius of Samosata. And when the great Meletius had received the imperial summons and arrived, forth to meet him came all the higher ranks of the priesthood, forth came all the other orders of the church, and the whole population of the city. There, too, were Jews and Gentiles all eager to see the great Meletius. Now the emperor bad charged both Meletius and the rest who were able to speak to expound to the multitude the text "The Lord formed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old" (Prov. viii. 22. lxx), and he ordered skilled writers to take down on the spot what each man said, with the idea that in this manner their instruction would be more exact. First of all Georgius of Laodicea gave vent to his foul heresy. After him Acacius of Caesarea propounded a doctrine of compromise far removed indeed from the blasphemy of the enemy, but not preserving the apostolic doctrine pure and undefiled. Then up rose the great Meletius and exhibited the unbending line of the canon of the faith, for using the truth as a carpenter does his rule he avoided excess and defect. Then the multitude broke into loud applause and besought him to give them a short summary of his teaching. Accordingly after showing three fingers, he withdrew two, left one, and uttered the memorable sentence, "In thought they are three but we speak as to one."
Against this teaching the men who had the plague of Arius in their hearts whetted their tongues, and started an ingenious slander, declaring that the divine Meletius was a Sabellian. Thus they persuaded the fickle sovereign who, like the well known Euripus, easily shifted his current now this way and now that, and induced him to relegate Meletius to his own home.
Euzoius, an open defender of Arian tenets, was promptly promoted to his place; the very than whom, then a deacon, the great Alexander had degraded at the same time as Arius. Now the part of the people who remained sound separated from the unsound and assembled in the apostolic church which is situated in the part of the city called the Palaea.
For thirty years indeed after the attack made upon the illustrious Eustathius they had gone on enduring the abomination of Arianism, in the expectation of some favourable change. But when they saw impiety on the increase, and men faithful to the apostolic doctrines both openly attacked and menaced by secret conspiracy, the divine Meletius in exile, and Euzoius the champion of heresy established as bishop in his place, they remembered the words spoken to Lot, "Escape for thy life"; and further the law of the gospel which plainly ordains "if thy right eye offend thee pluck it out and cast it from thee." The Lord laid down the same law about both hand and foot, and added, "It is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish and not that thy whole body should be cast into bell."
Thus came about the division of the Church.
CHAPTER XXVIII. About Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata.
THE admirable Eusebius mentioned above, who was entrusted with the common resolution, when he beheld the violation of the covenant, returned to his own see. Then certain men who were uneasy about the written document, persuaded Constantius to dispatch a messenger to recover it. Accordingly the emperor sent one of the officers who ride post with relays of horses, and bring communications with great speed. On his arrival he reported the imperial message, but, "I cannot," said the admirable Eusebius, "surrender the deed deposited with me till I am directed so to do by the whole assembly who gave it me." This reply was reported to the emperor. Boiling with rage he sent to Eusebius again and ordered him to give it up, with the further message that he had ordered his right hand to be cut off if he refused. But he only wrote this to terrify the bishop, for the courier who conveyed the dispatch bad orders not to carry out the threat. But when the divine Eusebius opened the letter and saw tire punishment which the emperor had threatened, lie stretched out his right hand and his left, bidding the man cut off both. "The decree," said he, "which is a clear proof of Arian wickedness, I will not give up."
When Constantius had been informed of this courageous resolution he was struck with astonishment, and did not cease to admire it; for even foes are constrained by the greatness of bold deeds to admire their adversaries' success.
At this time Constantius learned that Julian, whom he had declared Caesar of Europe, was aiming at sovereignty, and mustering an army against his master. Therefore he set out from Syria, and died in Cilicia. Nor had he the helper whom his Father had left him; for he had not kept intact the inheritance of his Father's piety, and so bitterly bewailed his change of faith.
CHAPTER I. Of the reign of Julianus; how from a child he was brought up in piety and lapsed into impiety; and in what manner, though at first he kept his impiety secret, he afterwards laid it bare.
CONSTANTIUS, as has been narrated, departed this life groaning and grieving that he had been turned away from the faith of his father. Julian heard the news of his end as he was crossing from Europe into Asia and assumed the sovereignty with delight at having now no rival.
In his earlier days, while yet a lad, Julian had, as well as Gallus his brother, imbibed pure and pious teaching.
In his youth and earlier manhood he continued to take in the same doctrine. Constantius, dreading lest his kinsfolk should aspire to imperial power, slew them; and Julian, through fear of his cousin, was enrolled in the order of Readers, and used to read aloud the sacred books to the people in the assemblies of the church.
He also built a martyr's shrine; but the martyrs, when they beheld his apostasy, refused to accept the offering; for in consequence of the foundations being, like their founder's mind, unstable, the edifice fell down before it was consecrated. Such were the boyhood and youth of Julian. At the period, however, when Constantius was setting out for the West, drawn thither by the war against Magnentius, he made Gallus, who was gifted with piety which he retained to the end, Caesar of the East. Now Julian flung away the apprehensions which had previously stood him in good stead, and, moved by unrighteous confidence, set his heart on seizing the sceptre of empire. Accordingly, on his way through Greece, he sought out seers and soothsayers, with a desire of learning if he should get what his soul longed for. He met with a man who promised to predict these things, conducted him into one of the idol temples, introduced him within the shrine, and called upon the demons of deceit. On their appearing in their wonted aspect terror compelled Julian to make the sign of the cross upon his brow. They no sooner saw the sign of the Lord's victory than they were reminded of their own rout, and forthwith Bed away. On the magician becoming acquainted with the cause of their flight he blamed him; but Julian confessed his terror, and said that he wondered at the power of the cross, for that the demons could not endure to see its sign and ran away. "Think not anything of the sort, good sir;" said the magician, "they were not afraid as you make out, but they went away because they abominated what you did." So he tricked the wretched man, initiated him in the mysteries, and filled him with their abominations.
So lust of empire stripped the wretch of all true religion. Nevertheless after attaining the supreme power he concealed his impiety for a considerable time; for he was specially apprehensive about the troops who had been instructed in the principles of true religion, first by the illustrious Constantine who freed them from their former error and trained them in the ways of truth, and afterwards by his sons, who confirmed the instruction given by their father. For if Constantius, led astray by those under whose influence he lived, did not admit the term omoousion, at all events he sincerely accepted the meaning underlying it, for God the Word he styled true Son, begotten of his Father before the ages, and those who dared to call Him a creature he openly renounced, absolutely prohibiting the worship of idols.
I will relate also another of his noble deeds, as satisfactory proof of his zeal for divine things. In his campaign against Magnentius he once mustered the whole of his army, and counselled them to take part all together in the divine mysteries, "for," said he, "the end of life is always uncertain, and that not least in war, when innumerable missiles are hurled from either side, and swords and battle axes and other weapons are assailing men, whereby a violent death is brought about. Wherefore it behoves each than to wear that precious robe which most of all we need in yonder life hereafter: if there be one here who would not now put on this garb let him depart hence and go home. I shall not brook to fight with men in my army who have no part nor lot in our holy rites."
CHAPTER II. Of the return of the bishops and the consecration of Paulinus.
JULIAN had clear information on these points, and did not make known the impiety of his soul. With the object of attracting all the bishops to acquiescence in his rule he ordered even those who had been expelled from their churches by Constantius, and who were sojourning on the furthest confines of the empire, to return to their own churches. Accordingly, on the promulgation of this edict, back to Antioch came the divine Meletius, and to Alexandria the far famed Athanasius.
But Eusebius, and Hilarius of Italy and Lucifer who presided over the flock in the island of Sardinia, were living in the Thebaid on the frontier of Egypt, whither they had been relegated by Constantius. They now met with the rest whose views were the same and affirmed that the churches ought to be brought into harmony. For they not only suffered from the assaults of their opponents, but were at variance with one another. In Antioch the sound body of the church had been split in two; at one and the same time they who from the beginning, for the sake of the right worthy Eustathius, had separated from the rest, were assembling by themselves; and they who with the admirable Meletius had held aloof from the Arian faction were performing divine service in what is called the Palaea. Both parties used one confession of faith, for both parties were champions of the doctrine laid down at Nicaea. All that separated them was their mutual quarrel, and their regard for their respective leaders; and even the death of one of these did not put a stop to the strife. Eustathius died before the election of Meletius, and the orthodox party, after the exile of Meletius and the election of Euzoius, separated from the communion of the impious, and assembled by themselves; with these, the party called Eustathians could not be induced to unite. To effect an union between them the Eusebians and Luciferians sought to discover a means. Accordingly Eusebius besought Lucifer to repair to Alexandria and take counsel on the matter with the great Athanasius, intending himself to undertake the labour of bringing about a reconciliation.
Lucifer however did not go to Alexandria but repaired to Antioch. There he urged many arguments in behalf of concord on both parties. The Eustathians, led by Paulinus, a presbyter, persisted in opposition. On seeing this Lucifer took the improper course of consecrating Paulinus as their bishop.
This action on the part of Lucifer prolonged the feud, which lasted for eighty-five years, until the episcopate of the most praiseworthy Alexander.
No sooner was the helm of the church at Antioch put into his hands than he tried every expedient, and brought to bear great zeal and energy for the promotion of concord, and thus joined the severed limb to the rest of the body of the church. At the time in question however Lucifer made the quarrel worse and spent a considerable time in Antioch, and Eusebius when he arrived on the spot and learnt that bad doctoring had made the malady very hard to heal, sailed away to the West.
When Lucifer returned to Sardinia he made certain additions to the dogmas of the church and those who accepted them were named after him, and for a considerable time were called Luciferians. But in time the flame of this dogma too went out and it was consigned to oblivion. Such were the events that followed on the return of the bishops.
CHAPTER III. Of the number and character of the deeds done by Pagans against the Christians when they got the power from Julian.
WHEN Julian had made his impiety openly known the cities were filled with dissensions. Men enthralled by the deceits of idolatry took heart, opened the idols' shrines, and began to perform those foul rites which ought to have died out from the memory of man. Once more they kindled the fire on the altars, befouled the ground with victims' gore, and defiled the air with the smoke of their burnt sacrifices. Maddened by the demons they served they ran in corybantic frenzy round about the streets, attacked the saints with low stage jests, and with all the outrage and ribaldry of their impure processions.
On the other hand the partizans of piety could not brook their blasphemies, returned insult for insult, and tried to confute the error which their opponents honoured. In their turn the workers of iniquity took it ill; the liberty allowed them by the sovereign was an encouragement to audacity and they dealt deadly blows among the Christians.
It was indeed the duty of the emperor to consult for the peace of his subjects, but he in the depth of his iniquity himself maddened his peoples with mutual rage. The deeds dared by the brutal against the peaceable he overlooked and entrusted civil and military offices of importance to savage and impious men, who though they hesitated publicly to force the lovers of true piety to offer sacrifice treated them nevertheless with all kinds of indignity. All the honours moreover conferred on the sacred ministry by the great Constantine Julian took away.
To tell all the deeds dared by the slaves of idolatrous deceit at that time would require a history of these crimes alone, but out of the vast number of them I shall select a few instances. At Askalon and at Gaza, cities of Palestine, then of priestly rank and women who had lived all their lives in virginity were disembowelled, filled with barley, and given for food to swine. At Sebaste, which belongs to the same people, the coffin of John the Baptist was opened, his bones burnt, and the ashes scattered abroad. Who too could tell without a tear the vile deed done in Phoenicia? At Heliopolis by Lebanon there lived a certain deacon of the name of Cyrillus. In the reign of Constantine, fired by divine zeal, he had broken in pieces many of the idols there worshipped. Now men of infamous name, bearing this deed in mind, not only slew him, but cut open his belly and devoured his liver. Their crime was not, however, hidden from the all-seeing eye, and they suffered the just reward of their deeds; for all who had taken part in this abominable wickedness lost their teeth, which all fell out at once, and lost. too, their tongues, which rotted away and dropped from them: they were moreover deprived of sight, and by their sufferings proclaimed the power of holiness.
At the neighbouring city of Emesa they dedicated to Dionysus, the woman-formed, the newly erected church, and set up in it his ridiculous androgynous image. At Dorystolum, a famous city of Thrace, the victorious athlete AEmilianus was thrown upon a flaming pyre, by Capitolinus, governor of all Thrace. To relate the tragic fate of Marcus, however, bishop of Arethusa, with true dramatic dignity, would require the eloquence of an AEschylus or a Sophocles. In the days of Constantius he had destroyed a certain idol-shrine and built a church in its place; and no sooner did the Arethusians learn the mind of Julian than they made an open display of their hostility. At first, according to the precept of the Gospel, Marcus endeavoured to make his escape; but when he became aware that some of his own people were apprehended in his stead, he returned and gave himself up to the men of blood. After they had seized him they neither pitied his old age nor reverenced his deep regard for virtue; but, conspicuous as he was for the, beauty alike of his teaching and of his life, first of all they stripped and smote him, laying strokes on every limb, then they flung him into filthy sewers, and, when they had dragged him out again, delivered him to a crowd of lads whom they charged to prick him without mercy with their pens. After this they put him into a basket, smeared him with pickle and honey, and hung him up in the open air in the height of summer, inviting wasps and bees to a feast. Their object in doing this was to compel him either to restore the shrine which he had destroyed, or to defray the expense of its erection. Marcus, however, endured all these grievous sufferings and affirmed that he would consent to none of their demands. His enemies, with the idea that he could not afford the money from poverty, remitted half their demand, and bade him pay the rest; but Marcus hung on high, pricked with pens, and devoured by wasps and bees, yet not only shewed no signs of pain, but derided his impious tormentors with the repeated taunt, "You are groundlings and of the earth; I, sublime and exalted." At last they begged for only a small portion of the money; but, said he, "it is as impious to give an obole as to give all." So discomfited they let him go, and could not refrain from admiring his constancy, for his words had taught them a new lesson of holiness.
CHAPTER IV. Of the laws made by Julian against the Christians.
Countless other deeds were dared at that time by land and by sea, all over the world, by the wicked against the just, for now without disguise the enemy of God began to lay down laws against true religion. First of all he prohibited the sons of the Galileans, for so he tried to name the worshippers of the Saviour, from taking part in the study of poetry, rhetoric, and philosophy, for said he, in the words of the proverb "we are shot with shafts feathered from our own wing," for from our own books they take arms and wage war against us.
After this he made another edict ordering the Galileans to be expelled from the army.
CHAPTER V. Of the fourth exile and flight of the Athanasius.
At this time Athanasius, that victorious athlete of the truth, underwent another peril, for the devils could not brook the power of his tongue and prayers, and so armed their ministers to revile him. Many voices did they utter beseeching the champion of wickedness to exile Athanasius, and adding yet this further, that if Athanasius remained. not a heathen would remain, for that he would get them all over to his side. Moved by these supplications Julian condemned Athanasius not merely to exile, but to death. His people shuddered, but it is related that he foretold the rapid dispersal of the storm, for said he "It is a cloud which soon vanishes away." He however withdrew as soon as he learnt the arrival of the bearers of the imperial message, and finding a boat on the bank of the river, started for the Thebaid. The officer who had been appointed for his execution became acquainted with his flight, and strove to pursue him at hot haste; one of his friends, however, got ahead, and told him that the officer was coming on apace. Then some of his companions besought him to take refuge in the desert, but he ordered the steersman to turn the boat's head to Alexandria. So they rowed to meet the pursuer, and on came the bearer of the sentence of execution, and, said he, "How far off is Athanasius?" "Not far," said Athanasius, and so got rid of his foe, while he himself returned to Alexandria and there remained ill concealment for the remainder of Julian's reign.
CHAPTER VI. Of Apollo and Daphne, and of the holy Babylas.
Julian, wishing to snake a campaign against the Persians, dispatched the trustiest of his officers to all the oracles throughout the Roman Empire, while he himself went as a suppliant to implore the Pythian oracle of Daphne to make known to him the future. The oracle responded that the corpses lying hard by were becoming an obstacle to divination; that they must first be removed to another spot; and that then he would utter his prophecy, for, said he, "I could say nothing, if the grove be not purified." Now at that time there were lying there the relics of the victorious martyr Babylas and the lads who had gloriously suffered with him, and the lying prophet was plainly stopped from uttering his wonted lies by the holy influence of Babylas. Julian was aware of this, for his ancient piety had taught him the power of victorious martyrs, and so be removed no other body from the spot, but only ordered the worshippers of Christ to translate the relics of the victorious martyrs. They marched with joy to the grove, put the coffin on a car and went before it leading a vast concourse of people, singing the psalms of David, while at every pause they shouted "Shame be to all them that worship molten images." For they understood the translation of the martyr to mean defeat for the demon.
CHAPTER VII. Of Theodorus the Confessor.
Julian could not endure the shame brought upon him by these doings, and on the following day ordered the leaders of tile choral procession to be arrested. Sallustius was prefect-at this time and a servant of iniquity, but he nevertheless was anxious to persuade the sovereign not to allow the Christians who were eager for glory to attain the object of their desires. When however he saw that the emperor was impotent to master his rage, he arrested a young man adorned with the graces of a holy enthusiasm while walking in the Forum, hung him up before the world on the stocks, lacerated his back with scourges, and scored his sides with claw-like instruments of torture. And this he did all day from dawn till the day was done; and then put chains of iron on him and ordered him to be kept in ward. Next morning he informed Julian of what had been done, and reported the young man's constancy and added that the event was for themselves a defeat and for the Christians a triumph. Persuaded of the truth of this, God's enemy suffered no more to be so treated and ordered Theodorus to be let out of prison, for so was named this young and glorious combatant in truth's battle. On being asked if he had had any sense of pain on undergoing those most bitter and most savage tortures he replied that at the first indeed he had felt some little pain, but that then had appeared to him one who continually wiped the sweat from his face with a cool and soft kerchief and bade him be of good courage. "Wherefore," said he, "when the executioners gave over I was not pleased but vexed, for now there went away with them he who brought me refreshment of soul." But the demon of lying divination at once increased the martyr's glory and exposed his own falsehood; for a thunderbolt sent down from heaven burnt the whole shrine and turned the very statue of the Pythian into fine dust, for it was made of wood and gilded on the surface. Julianus the uncle of Julian, prefect of the East, learnt this by night, and riding at full speed came to Daphne, eager to bring succour to the deity whom he worshipped; but when he saw the so-called god turned into powder he scourged the officers in charge of the temple, for he conjectured that the conflagration was due to some Christian. But they, maltreated as they were, could not endure to utter a lie, and persisted in saying that the fire had started not from below but from above. Moreover some of the neighbouring rustics came forward and asserted that they had seen the thunderbolt come rushing down from heaven.
CHAPTER VIII. Of the confiscation of the sacred treasures and taking away of the allowances.
Even when the wicked had become acquainted with these events they set themselves in array against the God of all; and the prince ordered the holy vessels to be handed over to the imperial treasury. Of the great church which Constantine had built he nailed up the doors and declared it closed to the worshippers wont to assemble there. At this time it was in possession of the Arians. In company with Julianus the prefect of the East, Felix the imperial treasurer, and Elpidius, who had charge of the emperor's private purse and property, an officer whom it is the Roman custom to call "Comes privatarum," made their way into the sacred edifice. Both Felix and Elpidius, it is said, were Christians, but to please the impious emperor apostatised from the true religion. Julianus committed an act of gross indecency on the Holy Table and, when Euzoius endeavoured to prevent him, gave him a blow on the face, and told him, so the story goes, that it is the fate of the fortunes of Christians to have no protection from the gods. But Felix, as be gazed upon the magnificence of the sacred vessels, furnished with splendour by the munificence of Constantine and Constantius, "Behold," said he, "with what vessels Mary's son is served." But it was not long before they paid the penalty of these deeds of mad and impious daring.
CHAPTER IX. Of what befell Julianus, the Emperor's Uncle, and Felix.
JULIANUS forthwith fell sick of a painful disease; his entrails rotted away, and he was no longer able to discharge his excrements through the normal organs of excretion, but his polluted mouth, at the instant of his blasphemy, became the organ for their emission.
His wife, it is said, was a woman of conspicuous faith, anti thus addressed her spouse: "Husband, you ought to bless our Saviour Christ for shewing you through your castigation his peculiar power. For you would never have known who it is who is being attacked by you if with his wonted long suffering he had refrained from visiting you with these heaven-sent plagues." Then by these words and the heavy weight of his woes the wretched man perceived the cause of his disease, and besought the emperor to restore the church to those who had been deprived of it. He could not however gain his petition, and so ended his days.
Felix too was himself suddenly struck down by a heaven-sent scourge, and kept vomiting blood from his mouth, all day and all night, for all the vessels of his body poured their convergent streams to this one organ: so when all his blood was shed he died, and was delivered to eternal death.
Such were the penalties inflicted on these men for their wickedness.
CHAPTER X. Of the Son of the Priest.
A YOUNG man who was a priest's son, and brought up in impiety, about this time went over to the true religion. For a lady remarkable for her devotion and admitted to the order of deaconesses was an intimate friend of his mother. When he came to visit her with his mother, while yet a tiny lad, she used to welcome him with affection and urge him to the true religion. On the death of his mother the young man used to visit her and enjoyed the advantage of her wonted teaching. Deeply impressed by her counsels, he enquired of his teacher by what means he might both escape the superstition of his father and have part and lot in the truth which she preached. She replied that he must flee from his father, and honour rather the Creator both of his father and himself; that he mast seek some other city wherein he might lie hid and escape the violence of the impious emperor; and she promised to manage this for him. Then, said tile young man, "henceforward I shall come and commit my soul to you." Not many days afterwards Julian came to Daphne. to celebrate a public feast. With him came the young man's father, both as a priest, and as accustomed to attend the emperor; and with their father came the young man and his brother, being appointed to the service of the temple and charged with the duty of ceremonially sprinkling the imperial viands. It is the custom for the festival of Daphne to last for seven clays. On the first day the young man stood by the emperor's couch, and according to the prescribed usage aspersed the meats, and thoroughly polluted them. Then at full speed he ran to Antioch, and making his way to that admirable lady, "I am come," said he, "to you; and I have kept my promise. Do you look to the salvation of each and fulfil your pledge." At once she arose and conducted the young man to Meletius the man of God, who ordered him to remain for awhile upstairs in the inn. His father after wandering about all over Daphne in search of the boy, then returned to the city and explored the streets and lanes, turning his eyes in all directions and longing to light upon his lad. At length he arrived at the place where the divine Meletius had his hostelry; and looking up he saw his son peeping through the lattice. He ran up, drew him along, got him down, and carried him off home. Then he first laid on him many stripes, then applied hot spits to his feet and hands and back, then shut him up in his bedroom, bolted the door on the outside, and returned to Daphne. So I myself have heard the man himself narrate in his old age, and he added further that he was inspired and filled with Divine Grace, and broke in pieces all his father's idols, and made mockery of their helplessness. Afterwards when he bethought him of what tie had done he fared his father's return and besought his Master Christ to nod approval of his deeds, break the bolts, and open the doors. "For it is for thy sake," said he, "that I have thus suffered and thus acted." "Even as I thus spoke." he told me, "out fell tile bolts and open flew the doors, and back I ran to my instructress. She dressed me up in women's garments and took me with her in her covered carriage back to the divine Meletius. He handed me over to the bishop of Jerusalem, at that time Cyril, and we started by night for Palestine." After the death of Julian this young man led his father also into the way of truth. This act he told ne with the rest. So in this fashion these hen were guided to the knowledge of God and were made partakers of Salvation.
CHAPTER XI. Of the Holy Martyrs Juventinus and Maximinus.
Now Julian, with less restraint, or shall I say, less shame, began to arm himself against true religion, wearing indeed a mask of moderation, but all the while preparing gins and traps which caught all who were deceived by them in the destruction of iniquity. He began by polluting with foul sacrifices the wells in the city and in Daphne, Chat every man who used the fountain might be partaker of abomination. Then he thoroughly polluted the things exposed in the Forum, for bread and meat and fruit and vegetables and every kind of food were aspersed. When those who were called by the Saviour's name saw what was done, they groaned and bewailed and expressed their abomination; nevertheless they partook, for they remembered the apostolic law, "Everything that is sold in the shambles eat, asking no question for conscience sake." Two officers in the army, who were shield bearers in the imperial suite, at a certain banquet lamented in somewhat warm language the abomination of what was being done, and employed the admirable language of the glorious youths at Babylon, "Thou hast given us over to an impious Prince an apostate beyond all the nations on the earth." One of the guests gave information of this, and the emperor arrested these right worthy men and endeavoured to ascertain by questioning them what was the language they had used. They accepted the imperial enquiry as an opportunity for open speech, and with noble enthusiasm replied "Sir we were brought up in true religion; we were obedient to most excellent laws, the laws of Constantine and of his sons; now we see the world full of pollution, meats and drinks alike defiled with abominable sacrifices, and we lament. We bewail these things at home, and now before thy face we express our grief, for this is the one thing in thy reign which we take ill." No sooner did he whom sympathetic courtiers called most mild and most philosophic hear these words than he took off his mask of moderation, and exposed the countenance of impiety. He ordered cruel and painful scourgings to be inflicted on them and deprived them of their lives; or shall we not rather say freed them from that sorrowful time and gave them crowns of victory? He pretended indeed that punishment was inflicted upon them not for the true religion for sake of which they were really slain, but because of their insolence, for he gave out that he had punished them for insulting the emperor, and ordered this report to be published abroad, thus grudging to these champions of the truth the name and honour or martyrs. The name of one was Juventinus; of the other Maximinus. The city of Antioch honoured them as defenders of true religion, and deposited them in a magnificent tomb, and up to this day they are honoured by a yearly festival.
Other men in public office and of distinction used similar boldness of speech, and won like crowns of martyrdom.
CHAPTER XII. Of Valentinianus the great Emperor.
VALENTINIANUS, who shortly afterwards became emperor, was at that time a Tribune and commanded the Hastati quartered in the palace. He made no secret of his zeal for the true religion. On one occasion when the infatuated emperor was going in solemn procession into the sacred enclosure of the Temple of Fortune, on either side of the gates stood the temple servants purifying, as they supposed, all who were coming in, with their sprinkling whisks. As Valentinianus walked before the emperor, he noticed that a drop had fallen on his own cloak and gave the attendant a blow with his fist, "for," said he, "I am not purified but defiled." For this deed he won two empires. On seeing what had happened Julian the accursed sent him to a fortress in the desert, and ordered him there to remain, but after the lapse of a year and a few months be received the empire as a reward of his confession of the faith, for not only in the life that is to come does the just Judge honour them that care for holy things, but sometimes even here below He bestows recompense for good deeds, confirming the hope of guerdons yet to be received by what he gives in abundance now.
But the tyrant devised another contrivance against the truth, for when according to ancient custom he had taken his seat upon the imperial throne to distribute gold among the ranks of his soldiery, contrary to custom he had an altar full of hot coals introduced, and incense put upon a table, an ordered each man who was to receive the gold first to throw incense on the altar, and then to take the gold from his own right hand. The majority were wholly unaware of the trap thus laid; but those who were forewarned feigned illness and so escaped this cruel snare. Others in their eagerness for the money made light of their salvation while another group abandoned their faith through cowardice.
CHAPTER XIII. Of other confessors.
AFTER this fatal distribution of money some of the recipients were feasting together at an entertainment. One of them who had taken the cup in his hand did not drink before making on it the sign of salvation.
One of the guests found fault with him for this, and said that it was quite inconsistent with what had just taken place. "What," said he, "have I done that is inconsistent?" Whereupon he was reminded of the altar and the incense, and of his denial of rite faith; for these things are all contrary to the Christian profession. When they heard this the greater number of the feasters moaned and bewailed themselves, and tore out handfuls of hair from their heads. They rose from the banquet, and ran through the Forum exclaiming that they were Christians, that they had been tricked by the emperor's contrivances, that they retracted their apostasy, and were ready to try to undo the defeat which had befallen them unwittingly. With these exclamations they ran to the palace loudly inveighing against the wiles of the tyrant, and imploring that they might be committed to the flames in order that, as they had been befouled by fire, by fire they might be made clean. All these utterances drove the villain out of his senses, and on the impulse of the moment he ordered them to be beheaded; but as they were being conducted without the city the mass of the people started to follow them, wondering at their fortitude and glorying in their boldness for the truth. When they had reached the spot where it was usual to execute criminals, the eldest of them besought the executioner that he would first cut off the head of the youngest, that he might not be unmanned by beholding the slaughter of the rest. No sooner had be, knelt down upon the ground and the headsman bared his sword, than up ran a man announcing a reprieve, and while yet afar off shouting out to stop the execution. Then the youngest soldier was distressed at his release from death. "Ah," said he, "Romanus" (his name was Romanus) "was not worthy of being called Christ's martyr." What influenced the vile trickster in stopping the execution was his envy: he grudged the champions of the faith their glory. Their sentence was commuted to relegation beyond the city walls and to the remotest regions of the empire.
CHAPTER XIV. Of Artemius the Duke. Of Publia the Deaconess and her divine boldness.
Artemius commanded the troops in Egypt. He had obtained this command in the time of Constantine, and had destroyed most of the idols. For this reason Julian not only confiscated his property but ordered his decapitation.
These and like these were the deeds of the man whom the impious describe as the mildest and least passionate of men.
I will now include in my history the noble story of a right excellent woman, for even women, armed with divine zeal, despised the mad fury of Julian.
In those days there was a woman named Publia, of high reputation, and illustrious for deeds of virtue. For a short time she wore the yoke of marriage, and had offered its most goodly fruit to God, for from this fair soil sprang John, who for a long time was chief presbyter at Antioch, and was often elected to the apostolic see, but from time to time declined the dignity. She maintained a company of virgins vowed to virginity for life, and spent her time in praising God who had made and saved her. One day the emperor was passing by, and as they esteemed the Destroyer an object of contempt and derision, they struck up all the louder music, chiefly chanting those psalms which mock the helplessness of idols, and saying in the words of David "The idols of the nations are of silver and gold, the work of men's hands," and after describing their insensibility, they added "like them be they that make them and all those that trust in them." Julian heard them, and was very angry, and told them to hold their peace while he was passing by. She did not however pay the least attention to his orders, but put still greater energy into their chaunt, and when the emperor passed by again told them to strike up "Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered." On this Julian in wrath ordered the choir mistress to be brought before him; and, though he saw that respect was due to her old age, he neither compassionated her gray hairs, nor respected her high character, but told some of his escort to box both her ears, and by their violence to make her cheeks red. She however took the outrage for honour, and returned home, where, as was her wont, she kept up her attack upon him with her spiritual songs, just as the composer and teacher of the song laid the wicked spirit that vexed Saul.
CHAPTER XV. Of the Jews; of their attempt at building, and of the heaven-sent plagues that befel them.
JULIAN, who had made his soul a home of destroying demons, went his corybantic way, ever raging against true religion. He accordingly now armed the Jews too against the believers in Christ. He began by enquiring of some whom he got together why, though their law imposed on them the duty of sacrifices, they offered none. On their reply that their worship was limited to one particular spot, this enemy of God immediately gave directions for the re-erection of the destroyed temple, supposing in his vanity that he could falsify the prediction of the Lord, of which, in reality, he exhibited the truth. The Jews heard his words with delight and made known his orders to their countrymen throughout the world. They came with haste from all directions, contributing alike money and enthusiasm for the work; and the emperor made all the provisions he could, less from the pride of munificence than from hostility to the truth. He despatched also as governor a fit man to carry out his impious orders. It is said that they made mattocks, shovels, and baskets of silver. When they had begun to dig and to carry out the earth a vast multitude of them went on with the work all day, but by night the earth which had been carried away shifted back from the ravine of its own accord. They destroyed moreover the remains of the former construction, with the intention of building everything up afresh; but when they had got together thousands of bushels of chalk and lime, of a sudden a violent gale blew, and storms, tempests and whirlwinds scattered everything far and wide. They still went on in their madness, nor were they brought to their senses by the divine longsuffering. Then first came a great earthquake, fit to strike terror into the hearts of men quite ignorant of God's dealings; and, when still they were not awed, fire running from the excavated foundations burnt up most of the diggers, and put the rest to flight. Moreover when a large number of men were sleeping at night in an adjacent building it suddenly fell down, roof and all, and crushed the whole of them. On that night and also on the following night the sign of the cross of salvation was seen brightly shining in the sky, and the very garments of the Jews were filled with crosses, not bright but black. When God's enemies saw these things, in terror at the heaven-sent plagues they fled, and made their way home, confessing the Godhead of Him who had been crucified by their fathers. Julian heard of these events, for they were repeated by every one.But like Pharaoh he hardened his heart.
CHAPTER XVI. Of the expedition against the Persians.
No sooner had the Persians heard of the death of Constantius, than they took heart, proclaimed war, and marched over the frontier of the Roman empire. Julian therefore determined to muster his forces, though they were a host without a God to guard them. First he sent to Delphi, to Delos and to Dodona, and to the other oracles and enquired of the seers if he should march. They bade him march and promised him victory. One of these oracles I subjoin in proof of their falsehood. It was as follows. "Now we gods all started to get trophies of victory by the river beast and of them I Ares, bold raiser of the din of war, will be leader." Let them that style the Pythian a God wise in word and prince of the muses ridicule the absurdity of the utterance. I who have found out its falsehood will rather pity him who was cheated by it. The oracle called the Tigris "beast" because the river and the animal bear the same name. Rising in the mountains of Armenia, and flowing through Assyria it discharges itself into the Persian gulf. Beguiled by these oracles the unhappy man indulged in dreams of victory, and after fighting with the Persians had visions of a campaign against the Galileans, for so he called the Christians, thinking thus to bring discredit on them. But, man of education as he was, he ought to have bethought him that no mischief is done to reputation by change of name, for even had Socrates been called Critias and Pythagoras Phalaris they would have incurred no disgrace from the change of name--nor yet would Nireus if he had been named Thersites have lost the comeliness with which nature had gifted him. Julian had learned about these things, but laid none of them to heart, and supposed that he could wrong us by using an inappropriate title. He believed the lies of the oracles and threatened to set up in our churches the statue of the goddess of lust.
CHAPTER XVII. Of the boldness of speech of the decurion of Beroea.
AFTER starting with these threats he was put down by one single Beroean. Illustrious as this man was from the fact of his holding the chief place among the magistrates, he was made yet more illustrious by his zeal. On seeing his son falling into the prevailing paganism, he drove him from his home and publicly renounced him. The youth made his way to the emperor in the near neighbourhood of the city and informed him both of his own views and of his father's sentence. The emperor bade him make his mind easy and promised to reconcile his father to him. When he reached Beroea, he invited the men of office and of high position to a banquet. Among them was the young suppliant's father, and both father and son were ordered to take their places on the imperial couch. In the middle of the entertainment Julian said to the father, "It does not seem to me to be right to force a mind otherwise inclined and having no wish to shift its allegiance. Your son does not wish to follow your doctrines. Do not force him. Even I, though I am easily able to compel you, do not try to force you to follow mine." Then the father, moved by his faith in divine truth to sharpen the debate, exclaimed "Sir," said he "are you speaking of this wretch whom God hates and who has preferred lies to truth?"
Once more Julian put on the mask of mildness and said "Cease fellow from reviling," and then, turning his face to the youth, "I," said he, "will have care for you, since I have not been able to persuade your father to do so." I mention this circumstance with a distinct wish to point out not only this worthy man's admirable boldness, but that very many persons despised Julian's sway.
CHAPTER XVIII. Of the prediction of the pedagogue.
ANOTHER instance is that of an excellent man at Antioch, entrusted with the charge of young lads, who was better educated than is usually the case with pedagogues, and was the intimate friend of the chief teacher of that period, Libanius the far-famed sophist.
Now Libanius was a heathen expecting victory and bearing in mind the threats of Julian, so one day, in ridicule of our belief he said to the pedagogue, "What is the carpenter's son about now?" Filled with divine grace, he foretold what was shortly to come to pass. "Sophist," said he, "the Creator of all things, whom you in derision call carpenter's son, is making a coffin."
After a few days the death of the wretch was announced. He was carried out lying in his coffin. The vaunt of his threats was proved vain, and God was glorified.
Of the Prophecy of St. Julianus the monk.
A man who in the body imitated the lives of the bodiless, namely Julianus, surnamed in Syrian Sabbas, whose life I have written in my "Religious History," continued all the more zealously to offer his prayers to the God of all, when he heard of the impious tyrant's threats. On the very day on which Julian was slain, he heard of the event while at his prayers, although the Monastery was distant more than twenty stages from the army. It is related that while he was invoking the Lord with loud cries and supplicating his merciful Master, he suddenly checked his tears, broke into an ecstasy of delight, while his countenance was lighted up and thus signified the joy that possessed his soul. When his friends beheld this change they begged him to tell them the reason of his gladness. "The wild boar," said he, "the enemy of the vineyard of the Lord, has paid the penalty of the wrongs he has done to Him; he lies dead. His mischief is done." The whole company no sooner heard these words than they leaped with joy and struck up the song of thanksgiving to God, and from those that brought tidings of the emperor's death they learnt that it was the very day and hour when the accursed man was slain that the aged Saint knew it and announced it.
CHAPTER XX. Of the death of the Emperor Julian in Persia.
JULIAN'S folly was yet more clearly manifested by his death. He crossed the river that separates the Roman Empire from the Persian, brought over his army, and then forthwith burnt his boats, so making his men fight not in willing but in forced obedience. The best generals are wont to fill their troops with enthusiasm, and, if they see them growing discouraged, to cheer them and raise their hopes; but Julian by burning the bridge of retreat cut off all good hope. A further proof of his incompetence was his failure to fulfil the duty of foraging in all directions and providing his troops with supplies. Julian had neither ordered supplies to be brought from Rome, nor did he make any bountiful provision by ravaging the enemy's country. He left the inhabited world behind him, and persisted in marching through the wilderness. His soldiers had not enough to eat and drink; they were without guides; they were marching astray in a desert land. Thus they saw the folly of their most wise emperor. In the midst of their murmuring and grumbling they suddenly found him who had struggled in mad rage against his Maker wounded to death. Ares who raises the war-din had never come to help him as he promised Loxias had given lying divination; he who glads him in the thunderbolts had hurled no bolt on the man who dealt the fatal blow the boasting of his threats was dashed to the ground. The name of the man who dealt that righteous stroke no one knows to this day. Some say that he was wounded by an invisible being, others by one of the Nomads who were called Ishmaelites; others by a trooper who could not endure the pains of famine in the wilderness. But whether it were man or angel who plied the steel, without doubt the doer of the deed was the minister of the will of God. It is related that when Julian had received the wound, he filled his hand with blood, flung it into the air and cried, "Thou hast won, O Galilean." Thus he gave utterance at once to a confession of the victory and to a blasphemy. So infatuated was he.
CHAPTER XXI. Of the sorcery at Carroe which was detected after his death. After he was slain the jugglery of his sorcery was detected. For Carroe is a city which still retains the relics of his false religion.
JULIAN had left Edessa on his left because it was adorned with the grace of true religion, and while in his vain folly he was journeying through Carrae, he came to the temple honoured by the impious and after going through certain rites with his companions in defilement, he locked and sealed the doors, and stationed sentinels with orders to see that none came in till his return. When news came of his death, and the reign of iniquity was succeeded by one of piety, the shrine was opened, and within was found a proof of the late emperor's manliness, wisdom, and piety. For there was seen a woman hung up on high by the hairs of her head, and with her hands outstretched. The villain had cut open her belly, and so I suppose learnt from her liver his victory over the Persians.
This was the abomination discovered at Carrae.
CHAPTER XXII. Of the heads discovered in the palace at Antioch and the public rejoicings there.
IT is said that at Antioch a number of chests were discovered at the palace filled with human heads, and also many wells full of corpses. Such is the teaching of the evil deities. When Antioch heard of Julian's death she gave herself up to rejoicing and festivity; and not only was exultant joy exhibited in the churches, and in the shrines of martyrs, but even in the theatres the victory of the cross was proclaimed and Julian's vaticination held up to ridicule. And here I will record the admirable utterance of the men at Antioch, that it may be preserved in the memory of generations yet to come, for with one voice the shout was raised, "Maximus, thou feel, where are thy oracles? for God has conquered and his Christ." This was said because there lived at that time a man of the name of Maximus, a pretender to philosophy, but really a worker of magic, and boasting himself to be able to foretell the future. But the Antiochenes, who had received their divine teaching from the glorious yokefellows Peter and Paul, and were full of warm affection for the Master and Saviour of all, persisted in execrating Julian to the end. Their sentiments were perfectly well known to the object of them, and so he wrote a book against them and called it "Misopogon."
This rejoicing at the death of the tyrant shall conclude this book of thy history, for it were to my mind indecent to connect with a righteous reign the impious sovereignty of Julian.
CHAPTER I. Of the reign and piety of Jovianus.
AFTER Julian was slain the generals and prefects met in council and deliberated who ought to succeed to the imperial power and effect both the salvation of the army in the campaign, and the recovery of the fortunes of Rome, now, by the rashness of the deceased Emperor, placed to use the common saying, on the razor edge of peril. But while the chiefs were in deliberation the troops met together and demanded Jovianus for emperor, though he was neither a general nor in the next highest rank; a man however remarkably distinguished, and for many reasons well known. His stature was great; his soul lofty. In war, and in grave struggles it was his wont to be first. Against impiety be delivered himself courageously with no fear of the tyrant's power, but with a zeal that ranked him among the martyrs of Christ. So the generals accepted the unanimous vote of the soldiers as a divine election. The brave man was led forward and placed upon a raised platform hastily constructed. The host saluted him with the imperial titles, calling him Augustus and Caesar. With his usual bluntness, and fearless alike in the presence of the commanding officers and in view of the recent apostasy of the troops, Jovianus admirably said "I am a Christian. I cannot govern men like these. I cannot command Julian's army trained as it is in vicious discipline. Men like these, stripped of the covering of the providence of God, will fall an easy and ridiculous prey to the foe." On hearing this the troops shouted with one voice, "Hesitate not, O emperor; think it not a vile thing to command us. You shall reign over Christians nurtured in the training of truth; our veterans were taught in the school of Constantine himself; younger men among us were taught by Constantius. This dead man's empire lasted but a few years, all too few to stamp its brand even on those whom it deceived."
CHAPTER II. Of the return of Athanasius.
DELIGHTED with these words the emperor undertook for the future to take counsel for the safety of the state, and how to bring home the army without loss from the campaign. He was in no need of much deliberation, but at once reaped the fruit sprung from the seeds of true religion, for the God of all gave proof of His own providence, and caused all difficulty to disappear. No sooner had the Persian sovereign been made acquainted with Jovian's accession than he sent envoys to treat for peace; nay more, he despatched provisions for the troops and gave directions for the establishment of a market for them in the desert. A truce was concluded for thirty years, and the army brought home in safety from the war. The first edict of the emperor on setting foot upon his own territory was one recalling the bishops from their exile, and announcing the restoration of the churches to the congregations who had held inviolate the confession of Nicaea. He further sent a despatch to Athanasius, the famous champion of these doctrines, beseeching that a letter might be written to him containing exact teaching on matters of religion. Athanasius summoned the most learned bishops to meet him, and wrote back exhorting the emperor to hold fast the faith delivered at Nicaea, as being in harmony with apostolic teaching. Anxious to benefit all who may meet with it I here subjoin the letter.
CHAPTER III. Synodical letter to the Emperor Jovian concerning the Faith.
To Jovianus Augustus most devout, most humane, victorious, Athanasius, and the rest of the bishops assembled, in the name of all the bishops from Egypt to Thebaid, and Libya. The intelligent preference and pursuit of holy things is becoming to a prince beloved of God. Thus may you keep your heart in truth in God's hand and reign for many years in peace. Since your piety has recently expressed a wish to learn from us the faith of the Catholic Church, we have given thanks to the Lord and have determined before all to remind your reverence of the faith confessed by the fathers at Nicaea. This faith some have set at nought, and have devised many and various attacks on us, because of our refusal to submit to the Arian heresy. They have become founders of heresy and schism in the Catholic Church. The true and pious faith in our Lord Jesus Christ has been made plain to all as it is known and read from the Holy Scriptures. In this faith the martyred saints were perfected, and now departed are with the Lord. This faith was destined everywhere to stand unharmed, had not the wickedness of certain heretics dared to attempt its falsification; for Arius and his party endeavoured to corrupt it and to bring in impiety for its destruction, alleging the Son of God to be of the nonexistent, a creature, a Being made, and susceptible of change. By these means they deceived many, so that even men who seemed to be somewhat, were led away by them. Then our holy Fathers took the initiative, met, as we said, at Nicaea, anathematized the Arian heresy, and subscribed the faith of the Catholic Church so as to cause the putting out of the flames of heresy by proclamation of the truth throughout the world. Thus this faith throughout the whole church was known and preached. But since some men who wished to start the Arian heresy afresh have had the hardihood to set at naught the faith confessed by the Fathers at Nicaea, and others are pretending to accept it, while in reality they deny it, distorting the meaning of the omoousion and thus blaspheming the Holy Ghost, by alleging it to be a creature and a Being made through the Son's means, we, perforce beholding the harm accruing from blasphemy of this kind to the people, have hastened to offer to your piety the faith confessed at Nicaea, that your reverence may know with what exactitude it is drawn up, and how great is the error of them whose teaching contradicts it. Know, O holiest Augustus, that this faith is the faith preached from everlasting, this is tile faith that the Fathers assembled at Nicaea confessed. With this faith all the churches throughout the world are in agreement, in Spain, in Britain, in Gaul, in all Italy and Campania, in Dalmatia and Mysia, in Macedonia, in all Hellas, in all the churches throughout Africa, Sardinia, Cyprus, Crete, Pamphylia and Isauria, and Lycia, those of all Egypt and Libya, of Pontus, Cappadocia and the neighbouring districts and all the churches of the East except a few who have embraced Arianism. Of all those above mentioned we know the sentiments after trial made. We have letters and we know, most pious Augustus, that though some few gainsay this faith they cannot prejudice the decision of the whole inhabited world.
After being long trader the injurious influence of the Arian heresy they are the more contentiously withstanding true religion. For the information of your piety, though indeed you are already acquainted with it, we have taken pains to subjoin the faith confessed at Nicaea by the three hundred and eighteen bishops. It is as follows.
We believe in one God, Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, that is of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God: begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made both in Heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven, was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and rose again the third day. He ascended into Heaven, and is coming to judge both quick and dead. And we believe in the Holy Ghost; the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes those who say there was a time when the Son of God was not; that before He was begotten He was not; that He was made out of the non-existent, or that He is of a different essence or different substance, or a creature or subject to variation or change. In this faith, most religious Augustus, all must needs abide as divine and apostolic, nor must any strive to change it by persuasive reasoning and word battles, as from the beginning did the Arian maniacs in their contention that the Son of God is of the non existent, and that there was a time when He was not, that He is created and made and subject to variation. Wherefore, as we stated, the council of Nicaea anathematized this heresy and confessed the faith of the truth. For they have not simply said that the Son is like the Father, that he may be believed not to be simply like God but very God of God. And they promulgated the term "Homousion" because it is peculiar to a real and true son of a true and natural father. Yet they did not separate the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son, but rather glorified It together with the Father and the Son in the one faith of the Holy Trinity, because the Godhead of the Holy Trinity is one.
CHAPTER IV. Of the restoration of allowances to the churches; and of the Emperor's death.
WHEN the emperor had received this letter, his former knowledge of and disposition to divine things was confirmed, and he issued a second edict wherein he ordered the amount of corn which the great Constantine had appropriated to the churches to be restored. For Julian, as was to be expected of one who had gone to war with our Lord and Saviour, had stopped even this mainten- ance, and since the famine which visited the empire in consequence of Julian's iniquity prevented the collection of the contribution of Constantine's enactment, Jovian ordered a third part to be supplied for the present, and promised that on the cessation of the famine he would give the whole.
After distinguishing the beginning of his reign by edicts of this kind, Jovian set out from Antioch for the Bosphorus; but at Dadastanae, a village lying on the confines of Bithynia and Galatia, he died. He set out on his journey from this world with the grandest and fairest support and stay, but all who had experienced the clemency of his sway were left behind in pain. So, me-thinks, the Supreme Ruler, to convict us of our iniquity, both shews us good things and again deprives us of them; so by the former means He teaches us how easily He can give us what He will; by the latter He convicts us of our unworthiness of it, and points us to the better life.
CHAPTER V. Of the reign of Valentinianus, and haw he associated Valens his brother with him.
WHEN the troops had become acquainted with the emperor's sudden death, they wept for the departed prince as for a father, and made Valentinian emperor in his room. It was he who smote the officer of the temple and was sent to the castle. He was distinguished not only for his courage, but also for prudence, temperance, justice, and great stature. He was of so kingly and magnanimous a character that, on an attempt being made by the army to appoint a colleague to share his throne, he uttered the well-known words which are universally repeated, "Before I was emperor, soldiers, it was yours to give me the reins of empire: now that I have taken them, it is mine, not yours, to take counsel for the state." The troops were struck with admiration at what he said, and contentedly followed the guidance of his authority. Valentinian, however, sent for his brother from Pannonia, and shared the empire with him. Would that he had never done so! To Valens, who had not yet accepted unsound doctrines, was committed the charge of Asia and of Egypt, while Valentinian allotted Europe to himself. He journeyed to the Western provinces, and beginning with a proclamation of true religion, instructed them in all righteousness. When the Arian Auxentius, bishop of Milan, who was condemned in several councils, departed this life, the emperor summoned the bishops and addressed them as follows: "Nurtured as you have been in holy writ, you know full well what should be the character of one dignified by the episcopate, and how he should rule his subjects aright, not only with his lip, but with his life; exhibit himself as an example of every kind of virtue, and make his conversation a witness of his teaching. Seat now upon your archiepiscopal throne a man of such character that we who rule the realm may honestly bow our heads before him and welcomeh is reproofs,--for, in that we are men, it needs must be that we sometimes stumble,--as a physician's healing treatment."
CHAPTER VI. Of the election of Ambrosius, the Bishop of Milan.
THUS spoke the emperor, and then the council begged him, being a wise and devout prince, to make the choice. He then replied, "The responsibility is too great for us. You who have been dignified with divine grace, and have received illumination from above, will make a better choice." So they left the imperial presence and began to deliberate apart. In the meanwhile the people of Milan were torn by factions, some eager that one, some that another, should be promoted. They who had been infected with the unsoundness of Auxentius were for choosing men of like opinions, while they of the orthodox party were in their turn anxious to have a bishop of like sentiments with themselves. When Ambrosius, who held the chief civil magistracy of the district, was apprised of the contention, being afraid lest some seditious violence should be attempted he hurried to the church; at once there was a lull in the strife. The people cried with one voice "Make Ambrose our pastor,"--although up to this time he was still unbaptized. News of what was being done was brought to the emperor, and he at once ordered the admirable man to be baptized and ordained, for be knew that his judgment was straight and true as the rule of the carpenter and his sentence more exact than the beam of the balance. Moreover he concluded from the agreement come to by men of opposite sentiments that the selection was divine. Ambrose then received the divine gift of holy baptism, and the grace of the archiepiscopal office. The most excellent emperor was present on the occasion and is said to have offered the following hymn of praise to his Lord and Saviour. "We thank thee, Almighty Lord and Saviour; I have committed to this man's keeping men's bodies; Thou hast entrusted to him their souls, and hast shown my choice to be righteous."
Not many days after the divine Ambrosius addressed the emperor with the utmost freedom, and found fault with certain proceedings of the magistrates as improper. Valentinian remarked that this freedom was no novelty to him, and that, well acquainted with it as he was, he had not merely offered no opposition to, but had gladly concurred in, the appointment to the bishopric. "Go on," continued the emperor, "as God's law bids you, healing the errors of our souls."
Such were the deeds and words of Valentinian at Milan.
CHAPTER VII. Letters of the Emperors Valentinianus and Valens, written to the diocese of Asia about the Homousion, on hearing that same men in Asia and in Phrygia were in dispute about the divine decree.
Valentinian ordered a council to be held in Illyricum and sent to the disputants the decrees ratified by the bishops there assembled. They had decided to hold fast the creed put forth at Nicaea and the emperor himself wrote to them, associating his brother with him in the dispatch, urging that the decrees be kept.
The edict clearly proclaims the piety of the emperor and similarly exhibits the soundness of Valens in divine doctrines at that time. I shall therefore give it in full. The mighty emperors, ever august, augustly victorious, Valentinianus, Valens, and Gratianus, to the bishops of Asia, Phrygia, Carophrygia Pacatiana, greeting in the Lord.
A great council having met in Illyricum, after much discussion concerning the word of salvation, the thrice blessed bishops have declared that the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is of one substance. This Trinity they worship, in no wise remitting the service which has duly fallen to their lot, the worship of the great King. It is our imperial will that this Trinity be preached, so that none may say "We accept the religion of the sovereign who rules this world without regard to Him who has given us the message of salvation," for, as says the gospel of our God which contains this judgment, "we should render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's."
What say you, ye bishops, ye champions of the Word of salvation? If these be your professions, thus then continue to love one another, and cease to abuse the imperial dignity. No longer persecute those who diligently serve God, by whose prayers both wars cease upon the earth, and the assaults of apostate angels are repelled. These striving through supplication to repel all harmful demons both know how to pay tribute as the law enjoins, and do not gainsay the power of their sovereign, but with pure minds both keep the commandment of the heavenly King, and are subject to our laws. But ye have been shewn to be disobedient. We have tried every expedient but you have given yourselves up. We however wish to be pure from you, as Pilate at the trial of Christ when He lived among us, was unwilling to kill Him, and when they begged for His death, turned to the East, asked water for his hands and washed his hands, saying I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man.
Thus our majesty has invariably charged that those who are working in the field of Christ are not to be persecuted, oppressed, or ill treated; nor the stewards of the great King driven into exile; lest to-day under our Sovereign you may seem to flourish and abound, and then together with your evil counsellor trample on his covenant, as in the case of the blood of Zacharias, but he and his were destroyed by our Heavenly King Jesus Christ after His coming, being delivered to death's judgment, they and the deadly fiend who abetted them. We have given these orders to Amegetius, to Ceronius to Damasus, to Lampon and to Brentisius by word of mouth, and we have sent the actual decrees to you also in order that you nay know what was enacted in the honourable synod.
To this letter we subjoin the decrees of the synod, which are briefly as follows.
In accordance with the great and orthodox synod we confess that the Son is of one substance with the Father. And we do not so understand the term 'of one substance' as some formerly interpreted it who signed their names with reigned adhesion; nor as some who now-a-days call the drafters of the old creed Fathers, but make the meaning of the word of no effect, following the authors of the statement that "of one substance" means "like," with the understanding that since the Son is comparable to no one of the creatures made by Him, He is like to the Father alone. For those who thus think irreverently define the Son "as a special creation of the Father," but we, with the present synods, both at Rome and in Gaul, hold that there is one and the same substance of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in three persons, that is in three perfect essences. And we confess, according to the exposition of Nicaea, that the Son of God being of one substance, was made flesh of the Holy Virgin Mary, and hath tabernacled among men, and fulfilled all the economy for our sakes in birth, in passion, in resurrection, and in ascension into Heaven; and that He shall come again to render to us according to each man's manner of life, in the day of judgment, being seen in the flesh, and showing forth His divine power, being God bearing flesh, and not man bearing Godhead.
Them that think otherwise we damn, as we do also them that do not honestly damn him that said that before the Son was begotten He was not, but wrote that even before He was actually begotten He was potentially in the Father. For this is true in the case of all creatures, who are not for ever with God in the sense in which the Son is ever with the Father, being begotten by eternal generation.
Such was the short summary of the emperor. I will now subjoin the actual dispatch of the synod.
CHAPTER VIII. Synodical Epistle of the Synod in Illyricum concerning the Faith.
"THE bishops of Illyricum to the churches of God, and bishops of the dioceses of Asia, of Phrygia, and Carophrygia Pacatiana, greeting in the Lord.
"After meeting together and making long enquiry concerning the Word of salvation, we have set forth that the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is of one substance. And it seemed fitting to pen a letter to you, not that we write what concerns the worship of the Trinity in vain disputation, but in humility deemed worthy of the duty.
"This letter we have sent by our beloved brother and fellow labourer Elpidius the presbyter. For not in the letters of our hands, but in the books of our Saviour Jesus Christ, is it written 'I am of Paul and I of Apollos and I of Cephas and I of Christ. Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?'
"It seemed indeed fitting to our humility not to pen any letter to you, on account of the great terror which your preaching causes to all the region under your jurisdiction, separating as you do the Holy Spirit from the Father and Son. We were therefore constrained to send to you our lord and fellow labourer Elpidius to ascertain if your preaching is really of this character and to carry this dispatch from the imperial government of Rome.
"Let them who do not regard the Trinity as one substance be anathema, and if any man be detected in communion with them let him be anathema.
"But for them that preach that the Trinity is of one substance the Kingdom of Heaven is prepared.
"We exhort you therefore brethren to teach no other doctrine, nor even hold any other and vain belief, but that always and everywhere, preaching the Trinity to be of one substance, ye may be able to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.
"While writing on this point we have also been reminded to pen this letter to you about the present or future appointment of our fellow ministers as bishops, if there be any sound men among the bishops who have already discharged a public office; and, if not, from the order of presbyters: in like manner of the appointment of presbyters and deacons out of the actual priestly order that they may be in every way blameless, and not from the ranks of the senate and army.
"We have been unwilling to pen you a letter at length, because of the mission of one representative of all, our lord and fellow labourer Elpidius, to make diligent enquiry about your preaching, if it really is such as we have heard from our lord and fellow labourer Eustathius.
"In conclusion, if at any time you have been in error, put off the old man and put on the new. The same brother and fellow labourer Elpidius will instruct you how to preach the true faith that the Holy Trinity, of one substance with God the Father, together with the Son and Holy Ghost, is hallowed, glorified, and made manifest, Father in Son, Son in Father, with the Holy Ghost for or ever and ever. For since this has been made manifest, we shall manifestly be able to confess the Holy Trinity to be of one substance according to the faith set forth formerly at Nicaea which the Fathers confirmed. So long as this faith is preached we shall be able to avoid the snares of the deadly devil. When he is destroyed we shall be able to do homage to one another in letters of peace while we live in peace.
"We have therefore written to you in order that ye may know the deposition of the Ariomaniacs, who do not confess that the Son is of the substance of the Father nor the Holy Ghost. We subjoin their names,--Polychronius, Telemachus, Faustus, Asclepiades, Amantius, Cleopater.
"This we thus write to the glory of Father and Son and Holy Ghost for ever and ever, amen. We pray the Father and the Son our Saviour Jesus Christ with the Holy Ghost that you may fare well for many years."
CHAPTER IX. Of the heresy of the Audiani.
THE illustrious emperor thus took heed of the apostolic decrees, but Audaeus, a Syrian alike in race and in speech, appeared at that time as an inventor of new decrees. He had long ago begun to incubate iniquities and now appeared in his true character. At first he understood in an absurd sense the passage "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." From want of apprehension of the meaning of the divine Scripture he understood the Divine Being to have a human form, and conjectured it to be enveloped in bodily parts; for Holy Scripture frequently describes the divine operations under the names of human parts, since by these means the providence of God is made more easily intelligible to minds incapable of perceiving any immaterial ideas. To this impiety Audaeus added others of a similar kind. By an eclectic process he adopted some of the doctrines of Manes and denied that the God of the universe is creator of either fire or darkness. But these and all similar errors are concealed by the adherents of his faction.
They allege that they are separated from the assemblies of the Church. But since some of them exact a cursed usury, and some live unlawfully with women without the bond of wedlock, while those who are innocent of these practices live in free fellowship with the guilty, they hide the blasphemy of their doctrines by accounting as they do for their living by themselves. The plea is however an impudent one, and the natural result of Pharisaic teaching, for the Pharisees accused the Physician of souls and bodies in their question to the holy Apostles "How is it that your Master eateth with publicans and sinners?" and through the prophet, God of such men says "Which say, 'come not near me for I am pure' this is smoke of my wrath." But this is not a tithe to refute their unreasonable error. I therefore pass on to the remainder of my narrative.
CHAPTER X. Of the heresy of the Messaliani.
AT this time also arose the heresy of the Messaliani. Those who translate their name into Greek call them Euchitae.
They have also another designation which arose naturally from their mode of action. From their coming under the influence of a certain demon, which they supposed to be the advent of the Holy Ghost, they are called enthusiasts.
Men who have become infected with this plague to its full extent shun manual labour as iniquitous; and, giving themselves over to sloth, call the imaginations of their dreams prophesyings. Of this heresy Dadoes, Sabbas, Adelphius, Hermas, and Simeones were leaders, and others besides, who did not hold aloof from the communion of the Church, alleging that neither good nor harm came of the divine food of which Christ our Master said "Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood shall live for ever."
In their endeavor to hide their unsoundness they shamelessly deny it even after conviction, and abjure men whose opinions are in harmony with their own secret sentiments.
Under these circumstances Letoius, who was at the head of the church of Melitine, a man full of divine zeal, saw that many monasteries, or, shall I rather say, brigands' caves, had drunk deep of this disease. He therefore burnt them, and drove out the wolves from the flock.
In like manner the illustrious Amphilochius to whom was committed the charge of the metropolis of the Lycaonians and who ruled all the people, no sooner learnt that this pestilence had invaded his diocese than he made it depart from his borders and freed from its infection the flocks he fed.
Flavianus, also, the far famed high-priest of the Antiochenes, on learning that these men were living at Edessa and attacking with their peculiar poison all with whom they came in contact, sent a company of monks, brought them to Antioch, and in the following manner convicted them in their denial of their heresy. Their accusers, he said, were calumniating them, and the witnesses giving false evidence; and Adelphius, who was a very old man, he accosted with expressions of kindness, and ordered to take a seat at his side. Then he said "We, O venerable sir, who have lived to an advanced age, have more accurate knowledge of human nature, and of the tricks of the demons who oppose us, and have learnt by experience the character of the gift of grace. But these younger men have no clear knowledge of these matters, and cannot brook to listen to spiritual teaching. Wherefore tell me in what sense you say that the opposing spirit retreats, and the grace of the Holy Ghost supervenes." The old man was won over by these words and gave vent to all his secret venom, for he said that no benefit accrues to the recipients of Holy Baptism, and that it is only by earnest prayer that the in-dwelling demon is driven out, for that every one born into the world derives from his first father slavery to the demons just as he does his nature; but that when these are driven away, then come the Holy Ghost giving sensible and visible signs of His presence, at once freeing the body from the impulse of the passions and wholly ridding the soul of its inclination to the worse; with the result that there is no more need for fasting that restrains the body, nor of teaching or training that bridles it and instructs it how to walk aright. And not only is the recipient of this gift liberated from the wanton motions of the body, but also clearly foresees things to come, and with the eyes beholds the Holy Trinity.
In this wise the divine Flavianus dug into the foul fountain-head and succeeded in laying bare its streams. Then he thus addressed the wretched old man. "O thou that hast grown old in evil days, thy own mouth convicts thee, not I, and thou art testified against by thy own lips." After their unsoundness had been thus exposed they were expelled from Syria, and withdrew to Pamphylia, which they filled with their pestilential doctrine.
CHAPTER XI. In what manner Valens fell into heresy.
I WILL now pursue the course of my narrative, and will describe the beginning of the tempest which stirred up many and great billows to buflet the Church. Valens, when he first received the imperial dignity, was distinguished by his fidelity to apostolic doctrine. But when the Goths had crossed the Danube and were ravaging Thrace, be determined to assemble an army and march against them; and accordingly resolved not to take the field without the garb of divine grace, but first to protect himself with the panoply of Holy Baptism. In forming this resolution he acted at once well and wisely, but his subsequent conduct betrays very great feebleness of character, resulting in the abandonment of the truth. His fate was the same as that of our first father, Adam; for he too, won over by the arguments of his wife, lost his free estate and became not merely a captive but an obedient listener to woman's wily words. His wife had already been entrapped in the Arian snare, and now she caught her husband, and persuaded him to fall along with her into the pit of blasphemy. Their leader and initiator was Eudoxius, who still held the tiller of Constantinople, with the result that the ship was not steered onwards but sunk to the bottom.
CHAPTER XII. How Valens exiled the virtuous bishops.
AT the very time of the baptism of Valens Eudoxius bound the unhappy man by an oath to abide in the impiety of his doctrine, and to expel from every see the holders of contrary opinions. Thus Valens abandoned the apostolic teaching, and went over to the opposite faction; nor was it long before he fulfilled the rest of his oath; for from Antioch he expelled the great Meletius, from Samosata the divine Eusebius, and deprived Laodicea of her admirable shepherd Pelagius. Pelagius had taken on him the yoke of wedlock when a very young man, and in the very bridal chamber, on the first day of his nuptials, he persuaded his bride to prefer chastity to conjugal intercourse, and taught her to accept fraternal affection in the place of marriage union. Thus he gave all honour to temperance, and possessed also within himself the sister virtues moving in tune with her, and for these reasons he was unanimously chosen for the bishopric. Nevertheless not even the bright beams of his life and conversation awed the enemy of the truth. Him, too, Valens relegated to Arabia, the divine Meletius to Armenia, and Eusebius, that unflagging labourer in apostolic work to Thrace. Unflagging he was indeed, for when apprised that many churches were now deprived of their shepherds, he travelled about Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine, wearing the garb of war and covering his head with a tiara, ordaining presbyters and deacons and filling up the other ranks of the Church; and if haply he lighted on bishops with like sentiments with his own, he appointed them to empty churches.
CHAPTER XIII. Of Eusebius, bishop of Samosata, and others.
OF the courage and prudence shewn by Eusebius after he had received the imperial edict which commanded him to depart into Thrace, I think all who have been hitherto ignorant should hear.
The bearer of this edict reached his destination in the evening, and was exhorted by Eusebius to keep silent and conceal the cause of his coming. "For," said the bishop, "the multitude has been nurtured in divine zeal, and should they learn why you have come they will drown you, and I shall be held responsible for your death." After thus speaking anti performing evening service, as he was wont, the old man started out alone on foot, at nightfall. He confided his intentions to one of his household servants who followed him carrying nothing but a cushion and a book. When he had reached the bank of the river (for the Euphrates runs along the very walls of the town) he embarked in a boat and told the oarsmen to row to Zeugma. When it was day the bishop had reached Zeugma, and Samosata was full of weeping and wailing, for the above mentioned domestic reported the orders given him to the friends of Eusebius, and told them whom he wished to travel with him, and what books they were to convey. Then all the congregation bewailed the removal of their shepherd, and the stream of the river was crowded with voyagers.
When they came where he was, and saw their beloved pastor, with lamentations and groanings they shed floods of tears, trod tried to persuade him to remain, and not abandon the sheep to the wolves. But all was of no avail, and he read them the apostolic law which clearly bids us be subjects to magistrates and authorities. When they had heard him some brought him gold, some silver, some clothes, and others servants, as though he were starting for some strange and distant land. The bishop refused to take anything but some slight gifts from his more intimate friends, and then gave the whole company his instruction and his prayers, and exhorted them to stand up boldly for the apostolic decrees.
Then he set out for the Danube, while his friends returned to their own town, and encouraged one another as they waited for the assaults of the wolves.
In the belief that I should be wronging them were the warmth and sincerity of their faith to lack commemoration in my history I shall now proceed to describe it.
The Arian faction, after depriving the flock of their right excellent shepherd, set up another bishop in his place; but not an inhabitant of the city, were he herding in indigence or blazing in wealth, not a servant, not a handicraftsman, not a hind, not a gardener, nor man nor woman, whether young or old, came, as had been their wont, to gatherings in church. The new bishop lived all alone; not a soul looked at him, or exchanged a word with him. Yet the report is that he behaved with courteous moderation, of which the following instance is a proof. On one occasion he had expressed a wish to bathe, so his servants shut the doors of the bath, and kept out all who wished to come in. When he saw the crowd before the doors he ordered them to be thrown open, and directed that every one should freely use the bath. He exhibited the same conduct in the balls within; for on observing certain men standing by him while he bathed he begged them to share the hot water with him. They stood silent. Thinking their hesitation was due to a respect for him, he quickly arose and made his way out, but these persons had really been of opinion that even the water was affected with the pollution of his heresy, and so sent it all down the sinks, while they ordered a fresh supply to be provided for themselves. On being informed of this the intruder departed from the city, for he judged that it was insensate and absurd on his part to continue to reside in a city which detested him, and treated him as a common foe. On the departure of Eunomius (for this was his name) from Samosata, Lucius, an unmistakable wolf, and enemy of the sheep, was appointed in his place. But the sheep, all shepherdless as they were, shepherded themselves, and persistently preserved the apostolic doctrine in all its purity. How the new intruder was detested the following relation will set forth.
Some lads were playing ball in the market place and enjoying the game, when Lucius was passing by. It chanced that the ball was dropped and passed between the feet of the ass. The boys raised an outcry because they thought that their ball was polluted. On perceiving this Lucius told one of his suite to stop and learn what was going on. The boys lit a fire and tossed the ball through the flames with the idea that by so doing they purified it. I know indeed that this was but a boyish act, and a survival of the ancient ways; but it is none the less sufficient to prove in what hatred the town held the Arian faction.
Lucius however was no follower of the mildness of Eunomius, but persuaded the authorities to exile many others of the clergy, and despatched the most distinguished champions of the divine dogmas to the furthest confines of the Roman Empire; Evolcius, a deacon, to Oasis, to an abandoned village; Antiochus, who had the honour of being related to the great Eusebius, for he was his brother's son, and further distinguished by his own honourable character, and of priestly rank, to a distant part of Armenia. How boldly this Antiochus contended for the divine decrees will be seen from the following facts. When the divine Eusebius after his many conflicts, whereof each was a victory, had died a martyr's death, the wonted synod of the people was held, and among others came Jovinus then bishop of Perrha who for some little time had held a communion with the Arians. Antiochus was unanimously chosen as successor to his uncle. When brought before the holy table and bidden there to bend the knee, he turned round and saw that Jovinus had put his right hand on his head. Plucking the hand away he bade him be gone from among the consecrators, saying that he could not endure a right hand which bad received mysteries blasphemously celebrated.
These events happened somewhat later. At the time I am speaking of he was removed to the interior of Armenia.
The divine Eusebius was living by the Danube where the Goths were ravaging Thrace and besieging cities, as is described in his own works.
CHAPTER XIV. Of the holy Barses, and of the exile of the bishop of Edessa and his companions.
BARSES, whose fame is now great not only in his own city of Edessa, and in neighbouring towns, but in Phoenicia, in Egypt, and in the Thebaid, through all which regions he had travelled with a high reputation won by his great virtue, had been relegated by Valens to the island of Aradus, but when the emperor learnt that innumerable multitudes streamed thither, because Barses was full of apostolic grace, and drove out sicknesses with a word, he sent him to Oxyrynchus in Egypt; but there too his fame drew all men to him, and the old man, worthy of heaven, was led off to a remote castle neat the country of the barbarians of that district, by name Pheno. It is said that in Aradus his bed has been preserved to this day, where it is held in very great honour, for many sick persons lie down upon it and by means of their faith recover.
CHAPTER XV. Of the persecution which took place at Edessa, and of Eulogius and Protogenes, presbyters of Edessa.
Now a second time Valens, after depriving the flock of their shepherd, had set over them in his stead a wolf. The whole population had abandoned the city, and were assembled in front of the town, when he arrived at Edessa. He bad given orders to the prefect, Modestus by name, to assemble the troops under his orders who were accustomed to exact the tribute, to take all who were present of the armed force, and by inflicting blows with sticks and clubs, and using if need be their other weapons of war, to disperse the gathering multitude. Early in the morning, while the prefect was executing this order, on his way through the Forum he saw a woman holding an infant in her arms, and hurrying along at great speed. She had made light of the troops, and forced her way through their ranks: for a soul fired with divine zeal knows no fear of man, and looks on terrors of this kind as ridiculous sport. When the prefect saw her, and understood what had happened, he ordered her to be brought before him, and enquired whither she was going. "I have heard," said she, "that assaults are being planned against the servants of the Lord; I want to join my friends in the faith that I may share with them the slaughter inflicted by you." "But the baby," said the prefect, "what in the world are you carrying that for?" "That it may share with me," said she, "the death I long
When the prefect had heard this from the woman and through her means discovered the zeal which animated all the people, he made it known to the emperor, and pointed out the uselessness of the intended massacre. "We shall only reap," said he "a harvest of discredit from the deed, and shall fail to quench these people's spirit." He then would not allow the multitude to undergo the tortures which they had expected, and commanded their leaders, the priests, I mean, and deacons, to be brought before him, and offered them a choice of two alternatives, either to induce the flock to communicate with the wolf, or be banished from the town to some remote region. Then he summoned the mass of the people before him, and in gentle terms endeavoured to persuade them to submit to the imperial decrees, urging that it was mere madness for a handful of men who might soon be counted to withstand the sovereign of so vast an empire. The crowd stood speechless. Then the prefect turned to their leader Eulogius, an excellent man, and said, "Why do you make no answer to what you have heard me say?" "I did not think," said Eulogius, "that I must answer, when I had been asked no question." "But," said the prefect, "I have used many arguments to urge you to a course advantageous to yourselves." Eulogius rejoined that these pleas had been urged on all the multitude and that he thought it absurd for him to push himself forward and reply; "but," he went on, "should you ask me my individual opinion I will give it you." "Well," said the prefect, "communicate with the emperor. With pleasant irony Eulogius continued, "Has he then received the priesthood as well as the empire?" The prefect then perceiving that he was not speaking seriously took it ill, and after heaping reproaches on the old man, added, "I did not say so, you fool; I exhorted you to communicate with those with whom the Emperor communicates." To this the old man replied that they had a shepherd and obeyed his directions, and so eighty of them were arrested, and exiled to Thrace. On their way thither they were everywhere received with the greatest possible distinction, cities and villages coming out to meet them and honouring them as victorious athletes. But envy armed their antagonists to report to the emperor that what had been reckoned disgrace had really brought great honour on these men; thereupon Valens ordered that they were to be separated into pairs and sent in different directions, some to Thrace, some to the furthest regions of Arabia, and others to the towns of the Thebaid; and the saying was that those whom nature had joined together savage men had put asunder, and divided brother from brother. Eulogius their leader with Protogenes the next in rank, were relegated to Antinone.
Even of these men I will not suffer the virtue to fall into oblivion. They found that the bishop of the city was of like mind with themselves, and so took part in the gatherings of the Church; but when they saw very small congregations, and on enquiry learnt that the inhabitants of the city were pagans, they were grieved, as was natural, and deplored their unbelief. But they did not think it enough to grieve, but to the best of their ability devoted themselves to making these men whole. The divine Eulogius, shut up in a little chamber, spent day and night in putting up petitions to the God of the universe; and the admirable Protogenes, who had received a good education and was practised in rapid writing, pitched on a suitable spot which he made into a boys' school, and, setting up for a schoolmaster, he instructed his pupils not only in the art of swift penmanship, but also in the divine oracles. He taught them the psalms of David and gave them to learn the most important articles of the apostolic doctrine. One of the lads fell sick, and Protogenes went to his home, took the sufferer by the hand and drove away the malady by prayer. When the parents of the other boys heard this they brought him to their houses and entreated him to succour the sick; but he refused to ask God for the expulsion of the malady before the sick had received the gift of baptism; urged by their longing for the children's health, the parents readily acceded, and won at last salvation both for body and soul. In every instance where he persuaded any one in health to receive the divine grace, he led him off to Eulogius, and knocking at the door besought him to open, and put the seal of the Lord on the prey. When Eulogius was annoyed at the interruption of his prayer, Protogenes used to say that it was much more essential to rescue the wanderers. In this he was an object of admiration to all who beheld his deeds, doing such wondrous works, imparting to so many the light of divine knowledge and all the while yielding the first place to another, and bringing his prizes to Eulogius. They rightly conjectured that the virtue of Eulogius was by far the greater and higher.
On the quieting of the tempest and restoration of complete calm, they were ordered to return home, and were escorted by all the people, wailing and weeping, and specially by the bishop of the church, who was now deprived of their husbandry. When they reached home, the great Barses had been removed to the life that knows no pain, and the divine Eulogius was entrusted with the rudder of the church which he had piloted; and to the excellent Protogenes was assigned the husbandry of Charrae, a barren spot full of the thorns of heathendom and needing abundant labour. But these events happened after peace was restored to the churches.
CHAPTER XVI. Of the holy Basilius, Bishop of Caesarea, and the measures taken against him by Valens and the prefect Modestus.
VALENS, one might almost say, deprived every church of its shepherd, and set out for the Cappadocian Caesarea, at that time the see of the great Basil, a light of the world. Now he had sent the prefect before him with orders either to persuade Basil to embrace the communion of Eudoxius, or, in the event of his refusal, to punish him by exile. Previously acquainted as he was with the bishop's high reputation, he was at first unwilling to attack him, for he was apprehensive lest the bishop, by boldly meeting and withstanding his assault, should furnish an example of bravery to the rest. This artful stratagem was as ineffective as a spider's web. For the stories told of old were quite enough for the rest of the episcopate, and they kept the wall of the faith unmoved like bastions in the circle of its walls.
The prefect, however, on his arrival at Caesarea, sent for the great Basil. He treated him with respect, and, addressing him with moderate and courteous language, urged him to yield to the exigencies of the time, and not to forsake so many churches on account of a petty nicety of doctrine. He moreover promised him the friendship of the emperor, and pointed out that through it he might be the means of conferring great advantages upon many. "This sort of talk," said the divine man, "is fitted for little boys, for they and their like easily swallow such inducements. But they who are nurtured by divine words will not suffer so much as a syllable of the divine creeds to be let go, and for their sake are ready, should need require, to embrace every kind of death. The emperor's friendship I hold to be of great value if conjoined with true religion; otherwise I doom it for a deadly thing."
Then the prefect was moved to wrath, and declared that Basil was out of his senses. "But," said the divine man, "this madness I pray be ever mine." The bishop was then ordered to retire, to deliberate on the course to be pursued, and on the morrow to declare to what conclusion he had come. Intimidation was moreover joined with argument. The reply of the illustrious bishop is related to have been "I for my part shall come to you tomorrow the same man that I am today; do not yourself change, but carry out your threats." After these discussions the prefect met the emperor and reported the conversation, pointing out the bishop's virtue, and the undaunted manliness of his character. The emperor said nothing and passed in. In his palace he saw that plagues from heaven had fallen, for his son lay sick at the very gates of death and his wife Was beset by many ailments. Then he recognised the cause of these sorrows, and entreated the divine man, whom he had threatened with chastisement, to come to his house. His officers performed the imperial behests and then the great Basil came to the palace.
After seeing the emperor's son on the point of death he promised him restoration to life if he should receive holy baptism at the hands of the pious, and with this pledge went his way. But the emperor, like the foolish Herod, remembered his oath, and ordered some of the Arian faction who were present to baptize the boy, who immediately died. Then Valens repented; he saw how fraught with danger the keeping of his oath had been, and came to the divine temple and received the teaching of the great Basil, and offered the customary gifts at the altar. The bishop moreover ordered him to come within the divine curtains where he sat and talked much with him about the divine decrees and in turn listened to him.
Now there was present a certain man of the name of Demosthenes, superintendent of the imperial kitchen, who in rudely chiding the man who instructed the world was guilty of a solecism of speech. Basil smiled and said "we see here an illiterate Demosthenes;" and on Demosthenes losing his temper and uttering threats, he continued "your business is to attend to the seasoning of soups; you cannot understand theology because your ears are stopped up." So he said, and the emperor was so delighted that he gave him some fine lands which he had there for the poor under his care, for they being in grievous bodily affliction were specially in need of care and cure.
In this manner then the great Basil avoided the emperor's first attack, but when he came a second time his better judgement was obstructed by counsellors who deceived him; he forgot what had happened on the former occasion and ordered Basil to go over to the hostile faction, and, failing to persuade him, commanded the decree of exile to be enforced. But when he tried to affix his signature to it he could not even form one tittle of a word, for the pen broke, and when the same thing happened to the second and to the third pen, and he still strove to sign that wicked edict, his hand shook; he quaked, his soul was filled with fright; he tore the paper with both his hands, and so proof was given by the Ruler of the world that it was He Himself who had permitted these sufferings to be undergone by the rest, but had made Basil stronger than the snares laid against him, and, by all the incidents of Basil's case, had declared His own almighty power, while on the other band He had proclaimed abroad the courage of good men. Thus Valens was disappointed in his attack.
CHAPTER XVII. Of the death of the great Athanasius and the election of Petrus.
AT Alexandria, Athanasius the victorious, after all his struggles, each rewarded with a crown, received release from his labours and passed away to the life which knows no toil. Then Peter, a right excellent man, received the see. His blessed predecessor had first selected him, and every suffrage alike of the clergy and of men of rank and office concurred, and all the people strove to show their delight by their acclamations. He had shared the heavy labours of Athanasius; at home and abroad he had been ever at his side, and with him had undergone manifold perils. Wherefore the bishops of the neighbourhood hastened to meet; and those who dwelt in schools of ascetic discipline left them and joined the company, and all joined in begging that Peter might be chosen to succeed to the patriarchal chair of Athanasius.
CHAPTER XVIII. On the overthrow of Petrus and the introduction of Lucius the Arian.
No sooner had they seated him on the episcopal throne than the governor of the province assembled a mob of Greeks and Jews, surrounded the walls of the church, and bade Peter come forth, threatening him with exile if he refused. He thus acted on the plea that he was fulfilling the emperor's good pleasure by bringing those of opposite sentiments into trouble, but the truth was that be was carried away by his impious passion. For be was addicted to the service of the idols, and looked upon the storms which beset the Church as a season of brilliant festivity. The admirable Peter, however, when he beheld the unforeseen conflict, secretly withdrew, and embarked in a vessel bound for Rome.
After a few days Euzoius came from Antioch with Lucius, and handed over the churches to him. This was he of whose im- piety and lawlessness Samosata had already had experience. But the people nurtured in the teaching of Athanasius, when they now saw how different was the spiritual food offered them, held aloof from the assemblies of the Church.
Lucius, who employed idolators as his attendants, went on scourging some, imprisoning others; some he drove to take to flight, others' homes he rifled in rude and cruel fashion. But all this is better set forth in the letter of the admirable Peter. After recounting an instance of the impious conduct of Lucius I shall insert the letter in this work.
Certain men in Egypt, of angelic life and conversation, fled from the disquiet of the state and chose to live in solitude in the wilderness. There they made the sandy and barren soil bear fruit; for a fruit right sweet and fair to God was the virtue by whose law they lived. Among many who took the lead in this mode of life was the far-famed Antonius, most excellent master in the school of mortification, who made the desert a training place of virtue for his hermits. He after all his great and glorious labours had reached. the haven where the winds of trouble blow no more, and then his followers were persecuted by the wretched and unhappy Lucius. All the leaders of those divine companies, the famous Macarius, his namesake, Isidorus, and the rest were dragged out of their caves and despatched to a certain island inhabited by impious men, and never blessed with any teacher of piety. When the ship drew near to the shore of the island the demon reverenced by its inhabitants departed from the image which had been his time-old home, and filled with frenzy the daughter of the priest. She was driven in her inspired fury to the shore where the towers were bringing the ship to land. Making the tongue of the girl his instrument, the demon shouted out through her the words uttered at Philippi by the woman possessed with the spirit of Python, and was heard by all, both men and women, saying, "Alas for your power, ye servants of the Christ; everywhere we have been driven forth by you from town and hamlet, from hill and height, from wastes where no men dwell; in yon islet we had hoped to live out of the reach of your shafts, but our hope was vain; hither you have been sent by your persecutors, not to be harmed by them, but to drive us out. We are quitting the island, for we are being wounded by the piercing rays of your virtue." With these words, and words like these, they dashed the damsel to the ground, and themselves all fled together. But that divine company prayed over the girl and raised her up, and delivered her to her father made whole and in her right mind.
The spectators of the miracle flung themselves at the feet of the new comers and implored to be allowed to participate in the means of salvation. They destroyed the idol's grove, and, illuminated by the bright rays of instruction, received the grace of holy baptism. On these events becoming known in Alexandria all the people met together, reviling Lucius, and saying that wrath from God would fall upon them, were not that divine company of saints to be set free. Then Lucius, apprehensive of a tumult in the city, suffered the holy hermits to go back to their dens. Let this suffice to give a specimen of his impious iniquity. The sinful deeds he dared to do will be more clearly set forth by the letter of the admirable Peter. I hesitate to insert it at full length, and so will only quote some extracts from it.
CHAPTER XIX. Narrative of events at Alexandria in the time of Lucius the Arian, taken from a letter of Petrus, Bishop of Alexandria.
PALLADIUS governor of the province, by sect a heathen, and one who habitually prostrated himself before the idols, had frequently entertained the thought of waging war against Christ. After collecting the forces already enumerated he set out against the Church, as though he were pressing forward to the subjugation of a foreign foe. Then, as is well known, the most shocking deeds were done, and at the bare thought of telling the story, its recollection fills me with anguish. I have shed floods of tears, and I should have long remained thus bitterly affected had I not assuaged my grief by divine meditation. The crowds intruded into the church called Theonas and there instead of holy words were uttered the praises of idols; there where the Holy Scriptures had been read might be heard unseemly clapping of hands with unmanly and indecent utterances; there outrages were offered to the Virgins of Christ which the tongue refuses to utter, for "it is a shame even to speak of them." On only hearing of these wrongs one of the well disposed stopped his ears and prayed that he might rather become deaf than have to listen to their foul language. Would that they had been content to sin in word alone, and had not surpassed the wickedness of word by deed, for insult, however bad it be, can be borne by them in whom dwells Christ's wisdom and His holy lessons. But these same villains, vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, screwed up their noses and poured out, if I may so say, as from a well-head, foul noises through their nostrils, and rent the raiment from Christ's holy virgins, whose conversation gave an exact likeness of saints; they dragged them in triumph, naked as when they were born, through all the town; they made indecent sport of them at their pleasure; their deeds were barbarous and cruel. Did any one in pity interfere and urge to mercy he was dismissed with wounds. Ah woe is me. Many a virgin underwent brutal violation; many a maid beaten on the head, with clubs lay dumb, and even their bodies were not allowed to be given up for burial, and their grief-stricken parents cannot find their corpses to this day. But why recount woes which seem small when compared with greater? Why linger over these and not hurry on to events more urgent? When you hear them I know that you will wonder and will stand with us long dumb, amazed at the kindness of the Lord in not bringing all things utterly to an end. At the very altar the impious perpetrated what, as it is written, neither happened nor was heard of in the days of our fathers.
A boy who had forsworn his sex and would pass for a girl, with eyes, as it is written, smeared with antimony, and face reddened with rouge like their idols, in woman's dress, was set up to dance and wave his hands about and whirl round as though he had been at the front of some disreputable stage, on the holy altar itself where we call on the coming of the Holy Ghost, while the by-standers laughed aloud and rudely raised unseemly shouts. But as this seemed to them really rather decorous than improper, they went on to proceedings which they reckoned in accordance with their indecency; they picked out a man who was very famous for utter baseness, made him strip off at once all his clothes and all his shame, and set him up as naked as he was born on the throne of the church, and dubbed him a vile advocate against Christ. Then for divine words he uttered shameless wickedness, for awful doctrines wanton lewdness, for piety impiety, for continence fornication, adultery, foul lust, theft; teaching that gluttony and drunkenness as well as all the rest were good for man's life. In this state of things when even I had withdrawn from the church --for how could I remain where troops were coming in--where a mob was bribed to violence--where all were striving for gain--where mobs of heathen were making mighty promises?--forth, forsooth, is sent a successor in my place. It was one named Lucius, who had bought the bishopric as he might some dignity of this world, eager to maintain the bad character and conduct of a wolf. No synod of orthodox bishops had chosen him; no vote of genuine clergy; no laity had demanded him; as the laws of the church enjoin.
Lucius could not make his entrance into the city without parade, and so he was appropriately escorted not by bishops, not by presbyters, not by deacons, not by multitudes of the laity; no monks preceded him chanting psalms from the Scriptures; but there was Euzoius, once a deacon of our city of Alexandria, and long since degraded along with Arius in the great and holy synod of Nicaea, and more recently raised to rule and ravage the see of Antioch, and there, too, was Magnus the treasurer, notorious for every kind of impiety, leading a vast body of troops. In the reign of Julian this Magnus had burnt the church at Berytus, the famous city of Phoenicia; and, in the reign of Jovian of blessed memory, after barely escaping decapitation by numerous appeals to the imperial compassion, had been compelled to build it up again at his own expense.
Now I invoke your zeal to rise in our vindication. From what I write you ought to be able to calculate the character and extent of the wrongs committed against the Church of God by the starting up of this Lucius to oppose us. Often rejected by your piety and by the orthodox bishops or every region, he seized on a city which had just and righteous cause to regard and treat him as a foe. For he does not merely say like the blasphemous fool in the psalms "Christ is not true God." But, corrupt himself, he corrupted others, rejoicing in the blasphemies uttered continually against the Saviour by them who worshipped the creature instead of the Creator. The scoundrel's opinions being quite on a par with those of a heathen, why should he not venture to worship a new-made God, for these were the phrases with which he was publicly greeted "Welcome, bishop, because thou deniest the Son. Serapis loves thee and has brought thee to us." So they named their native idol. Then without an interval of delay the afore-named Magnus, inseparable associate in the villainy of Lucius, cruel body-guard, savage lieutenant, collected together all the multitudes committed to his care, and arrested presbyters and deacons to the number of nineteen, some of whom were eighty years of age, on the charge of being concerned in some foul violation of Roman law. He constituted a public tribunal, and, in ignorance of the laws of Christians in defence of virtue, endeavoured to compel them to give up the faith of their fathers which had been banded down from the apostles through the fathers to us. He even went so far as to maintain that this would be gratifying to the most merciful and clement Valens Augustus. "Wretched man" he shouted "accept, accept the doctrine of the Arians; God will pardon you even though you worship with a true worship, if you (to this not of your own accord but because you are compelled. There is always a defence for irresponsible compulsion, while free action is responsible and much followed by accusation. Consider well these arguments; come willingly; away with all delay; subscribe the doctrine of Arius preached now by Lucius," (so he introduced him by name) "being well assured that if you obey you will have wealth and honour from your prince, while if you refuse you will be punished by chains, rack, torture, scourge and cruel torments; you will be deprived of your property and possessions; you will be driven into exile and condemned to dwell in savage regions."
Thus this noble character mixed intimidation with deceit and so endeavoured to persuade and compel the people to apostatise from true religion. They however knew full well how true it is that the pain of treachery to right religion is sharper than any torment; they refused to lower their virtue and noble spirit to his trickery and threats, and were thus constrained to answer him. "Cease, cease trying to frighten us with these words, utter no more vain words. We worship no God of late arrival or of new invention. Foam at us if you will in the vain tempest of your fury and dash yourselves against us like a furious wind. We abide by the doctrines of true religion even unto death; we have never regarded God as impotent, or as unwise, or untrue, as at one time a Father and at another not a Father, as this impious Arian teaches, making the Son a being of time and transitory. For if, as the Ariomaniacs say, the Son is a creature, not being naturally of one substance with the Father, the Father too will be reduced to non-existence by the nonexistence of the Son, not being as they assert at one period a Father. But if He is ever a Father, his offspring being truly of Him, and not by derivation, for God is impassible, how is not he mad and foolish who says of the Son through whom all things came by grace into existence, "there was a time when he was not."
These men have truly become fatherless by falling away from our fathers throughout the world who assembled at Nicaea, and anathematized the false doctrine of Arius, now defended by this later champion. They laid down that the Son was not as you are now compelling us to say, of a different substance from the Father, but of one and the same. This their pious intelligence clearly perceived, and so from an adequate collation of divine terms they owned Him to be consubstantial.
Advancing these and other similar arguments, they were imprisoned for many days in the hope that they might be induced to fall away from theft right mind, but the rather, like the noblest of the athletes in a Stadium, they crushed all fear, and from time to time as it were anointing themselves with the thought of the bold deeds done by their fathers, through the help of holy thoughts maintained a nobler constancy in piety, and treated the rack as a training place for virtue. While they were thus struggling, and had become, as writes the blessed Paul, a spectacle to angels and to men, the whole city ran up to gaze at Christ's athletes, vanquishing by stout endurance the scourges of the judge who was torturing them, winning by patience trophies against impiety, and exhibiting triumphs against Arians. So their savage enemy thought that by threats and torments he could subdue and deliver them to the enemies of Christ. Thus therefore the savage and inhuman tyrant evilly entreated them by inflicting on them the tortures that his cruel ingenuity devised, while all the people stood wailing and shewing their sorrow in various ways. Then he once more mustered his troops, who were disciplined in disorder, and summoned the martyrs to trial, or as it might rather be called, to a foregone condemnation, by the seaport, while after their fashion hired cries were raised against them by the idolaters and the Jews. On their refusal to yield to the manifest heresy of the Ariomaniacs they were sentenced, while all the people stood in tears before the tribunal, to be deported from Alexandria to the Phoenician Heliopolis, a place where none of the inhabitants, who are all given over to idols, can endure so much as to hear the name of Christ.
After giving them the order to embark, Magnus stationed himself at the port, for be had delivered his sentence against them in the neighbourhood of the public baths. He showed them his sword unsheathed, thinking that he court thus strike terror into men who had again and again smitten hostile demons to the ground with their two-edged blade. So he bade them put out to sea, though they had got no provisions on board, and were starting without one single comfort for their exile. Strange and almost incredible to relate, the sea was all afoam; grieved, I think, and unwilling, if I may so say, to receive the good men upon its surface, and so have part or lot in an unrighteous sentence. Now even to the ignorant was made manifest the savage purpose of the judge and it may truly be said "at this, the heavens stood astonished."
The whole city groaned, and is lamenting to this day. Some men beating on their breast with one hand after another raised a mighty noise; others lifted up at once their hands and eyes to heaven in testimony of the wrong inflicted on them, and so saying in all but words, "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth," what unlawful deeds are being done. Now all was weeping and wailing; singing and sighing sounded through all the town, and from every eye flowed a river of tears which threatened to overwhelm the very sea with its tide. There was the aforesaid Magnus on the port ordering the rowers to hoist the sails, and up went a mingled cry of maids and matrons, old men anti young, all sobbing and lamenting together, and the noise of the multitude overwhelmed the roar raised by the waves on the foaming sea. So the martyrs sailed off for Heliopolis, where every man is given over to superstition, where flourish the devil's ways of pleasure, and where the situation of the city, surrounded on all sides by mountains that approach the sky, is fitted for the terrifying lairs of wild beasts. All the friends they left behind now alike in public in the middle of the town and each in private apart groaned and uttered words of grief. and were even forbidden to weep, at the order of Palladius, prefect of the city, who happened himself to be a man quite given over to superstition. Many of the mourners were first arrested and thrown into prison, and then scourged, torn with carding combs, tortured, and, champions as they were of the church in their holy enthusiasm, were despatched to the mines of Phennesus and Proconnesus.
Most of them were monks, devoted to a life of ascetic solitude, and were about twenty-three in number. Not long afterwards the deacon who had been sent by our beloved Damasus, bishop of Rome, to bring us letters of consolation and communion, was led publicly through the town by executioners, with his hands tied behind his back like some notorious criminal. After sharing the tortures inflicted on murderers, he was terribly scourged with stones and bits of lead about his very neck. He went on board ship to sail, like the rest, with the mark of the sacred cross upon his brow; with none to aid and none to tempt him he was despatched to the copper mines of Phennesus. During the tortures inflicted by the magistrate on the tender bodies of little boys, some have been left lying on the spot deprived of holy rites of burial, though parents and brothers and kinsfolk, and indeed the whole city, begged that this one consolation might be given them. But alas for the inhumanity of the judge, if indeed he can be called judge who only condemns! They who had contended nobly for the true religion were assigned a worse fate than a murderer's, their bodies lying, as they did, unburied. The glorious champions were thrown to be devoured by beasts and birds of prey. Those who were anxious for conscience' sake to express sympathy with the parents were punished by decapitation, as though they had broken some law. What Roman law, nay what foreign sentiment, ever inflicted punishment for the expression of sympathy with parents? What instance is there of the perpetration of so illegal a deed by any one of the ancients? The male children of the Hebrews were indeed once ordered to be slain by Pharaoh, but his edict was suggested by envy and by fear. How far greater the inhumanity of our day than of his. How preferable, if there be a choice in unrighteousness, their wrongs to ours. How much better; if what is illegal can be called good or bad, though in truth iniquity is always iniquity.
I am writing what is incredible, inhuman, awful, savage, barbarous, pitiless, cruel. But in all this the votaries of the Arian madness pranced, as it were, with proud exultation, while the whole city was lamenting; for, as it is written in Exodus, "there was not a house in which there was not one dead."
The men whose appetite for iniquity was never satisfied planned new agitation. Ever wreaking their evil will in evil deeds, they darted the peculiar venom of their iniquity at the bishops of the province, using the aforesaid treasurer Magnus as the instrument of their unrighteousness.
Some they delivered to the Senate, some they trapped at their good pleasure, leaving no stone unturned in their anxiety to hunt in all from every quarter to impiety, going about in all directions, and like the devil, the proper father of heresy, they sought whom they might devour.
In all, after many fruitless efforts, they drove into exile to Dio-Caesarea, a city inhabited by Jews, murderers of the Lord, eleven of the bishops of Egypt, all of them men who from childhood to old age had lived an ascetic life in the desert, had subdued their inclinations to pleasure by reason and by discipline, had fearlessly preached the true faith of piety, had imbibed the pious doctrines, had again and again won victory against demons, were ever putting the adversary out of countenance by their virtue, and publicly posting the Arian heresy by wisest argument. Yet like Hell, not satisfied with the death of their brethren, fools and madmen as they were, eager to win a reputation by their evil deeds, they tried to leave memorials in all the world of their own cruelty. For lo now they roused the imperial attention against certain clerics of the catholic church who were living at Antioch, together with some excellent monks who came forward to testify against their evil deeds. They got these men banished to Neocaesarea in Pontus, where they were soon deprived of life in consequence of the sterility of the country. Such tragedies were enacted at this period, fit indeed to be consigned to silence and oblivion, but given a place in history for the condemnation of the men who wag their tongues against the Only begotten, and infected as they were with the raving madness of blasphemy, strive not only to aim their shafts at the Master of the universe, but further waged a truceless war against His faithful servants.
CHAPTER XX. Of Mavia, Queen of the Saracens, and the ordination of Moses
AT this time the Ishmaelites were devastating the country in the neighbourhood of the Roman frontier. They were led by Mavia, a princess who regarded not the sex which nature had given her, and displayed the spirit and courage of a man. After many engagements she made a truce, and, on receiving the light of divine knowledge, begged that to the dignity of high priest of her tribe might be advanced one, Moses by name, who dwelt on the confines of Egypt and Palestine. This request Valens granted, and ordered the holy man to be conveyed to Alexandria, and there, as the most convenient place in the neighbourhood, to receive episcopal grace. When he had arrived and saw Lucius endeavouring to lay hands on him--"God forbid" said he "that I should be ordained by thine hand: the grace of the Spirit visits us not at thy calling." "Whence," said Lucius, "are you led to conjecture this?" He rejoined "I am not speaking of conjecture but of clear knowledge; for thou tightest against the apostolic decrees, and speakest words against them, and for thy blasphemous utterances thy lawless deeds are a match. For what impious man has not on thy account mocked the meetings of the Church? What excellent man has not been exiled? What barbarous savagery is not thrown into the shade by thy daily deeds?" So the brave man said, and the murderer heard him and desired to slay him, but was afraid of kindling once again the war which had come to an end. Wherefore he ordered other bishops to be produced whom Moses had requested. After receiving the episcopal grace of the right worthy faith Moses returned to the people who had asked for him, and by his apostolic teaching and miracles led them in the way that leads to truth.
These then were the deeds done by Lucius in Alexandria under the dispensation of the providence of God.
CHAPTER XXI. AT Constantinople the Arians filled a boat with pious presbyters and drove her without ballast out to sea, putting some of their own men on another craft with orders to set the presbyters' boat on fire. So, fighting at the same time against both sea and flames, at last they were delivered to the deep, and won the martyrs' crown.
At Antioch Valens spent a considerable time, and gave complete license to all who, under cover of the Christian name, pagans, Jews and the rest, preached doctrines contrary to those of the gospel. The slaves of this error even went so far as to perform pagan rites, and thus the deceitful fire which, after Julian, had been quenched by Jovian, was now rekindled by permission of Valens. The rites of Jews, of Dionysus, and of Demeter were now no longer performed in a corner, as they would be in a pious reign, but by revellers running wild in the forum. Valens was a foe to none but them that held the apostolic doctrine. First he drove them from their churches, the illustrious Jovian having given them also the new built church. And when they assembled close up to the mountain cliff to honour their Master in hymns, and enjoy the word of God, putting up with all the assaults of the weather, now of rain, now of snow and cold, and now of violent heat, they were not even suffered this poor protection, and troops were sent to scatter them far and wide.
CHAPTER XXII. How Flavianus and Diodorus gathered the church of the orthodox in Antioch.
Now Flavianus and Diodorus, like break-waters, broke the force of the advancing waves. Meletius their shepherd had been constrained to sojourn far away. But these looked after the flock, opposing their own courage and cunning to the wolves, and bestowing due care upon the sheep. Now that they were driven away from under the cliff they fed their flocks by the banks of the neighbouring river. They could not brook, like the captives at Babylon, to hang their harps upon the willows, but they continued to hymn their maker and benefactor in all places of his dominion. But not even in this spot was the meeting of the pious pastors of them that blessed the Lord suffered by the foe to be assembled. So again this pair of excellent shepherds gathered their sheep in the soldiers' training ground trod there tried to show them their spiritual food in secret. Diodorus, in his wisdom and courage, like a clear and mighty river, watered his own and drowned the blasphemies of his opponents, thinking nothing of the splendour of his birth, and gladly undergoing the sufferings of the faith.
The excellent Flavianus, who was also of the highest rank, thought piety the only nobility, and, like some trainer for the games, anointed the great Diodorus as though he had been an athlete for five contests.
At that time he did riot himself preach at the services of the church, but furnished an abundant supply of arguments and scriptural thoughts to preachers, who were thus able to aim their shafts at the blasphemy of Arius, while he as it were handed them the arrows of his intelligence from a quiver. Discoursing alike at home and abroad he easily rent asunder the heretics' nets and showed their defences to be mere spiders' webs. He was aided in these contests by that Aphraates whose life I have written in my Religious History, and who, preferring the welfare of the sheep to his own rest, abandoned his cell of discipline and retirement, and undertook the hard toil of a shepherd. Having written on these matters in another work I deem it now superfluous to recount the wealth of virtue which he amassed, but one specimen of his good deeds I will proceed now to relate, as specially appropriate to this history.
CHAPTER XXIII. Of the holy monk Aphraates.
ON the north of the river Orontes lies the palace. On the South a vast two storied portico is built on the city wall with lofty towers on either side. Between the palace and the river lies a public way open to passengers from the town, through the gate in this quarter, and leading to the country in the suburbs. The godly Aphraates was once passing along this thoroughfare on his way to the soldiers' training ground, in order to perform the duty of serving his flock. The emperor happened to be looking down from a gallery in the palace, and saw him going by wearing a cloak of undressed goat's skin, and walking rapidly, though of advanced age. On its being remarked that this was Aphraates to whom all the town was then attached, the emperor cried out "Where are you going? Tell us." Readily and cleverly he answered "To pray for your empire." "You had better stop at home" said the emperor "and pray alone like a monk." "Yes," said the divine man, "so I was bound to do and so I always did till now, as long as the Saviour's sheep were at peace; but now that they are grievously disturbed and in great peril of being caught by beasts, I needs must leave no means untried to save the nurslings. For tell me, sir, had I been a girl sitting in my chamber, and looking after the house, anti had seen a flash of flame fall and my father's house on fire, what ought I to do? Tell me; sit within and never mind the house being on fire, and wait for the flame to approach? or bid my bower good bye and run up and down and get water and try to quench the flame? Of course you will say the latter, for so a quick and spirited girl would do. And that is what I am doing now, sir. You have set fire to our Father's house and we are running about in the endeavour to put it out." So said Aphraates, and the emperor threatened him and said no more. One of the grooms of the imperial bedchamber, who threatened the godly man somewhat more violently, met with the following fate. He was entrusted with the charge of the bath, and immediately after this conversation he came down to get it ready for the emperor. On entering he lost his wits, stepped into the boiling water before it was mixed with the cold, and so met his end. The emperor sat waiting for him to announce that the bath was ready for him to enter, and after a considerable time had gone by he sent other officers to report the cause of the delay. After they had gone in and looked all about the room they discovered the chamberlain slain by the heat, and lying dead in the. boiling water. On this becoming known to the emperor they perceived the force of the prayers of Aphraates. Nevertheless they did not depart from the impious doctrines but hardened their heart like Pharaoh, and the infatuated emperor, though made aware of the miracle of the holy man, persisted in his mad rage against piety.
CHAPTER XXIV. Of the holy monk Julianus.
AT this time too the celebrated Julianus, whom I have already mentioned, was forced to leave the desert and come to Antioch, for when the foster children of lies, the facile framers of calumny, I mean of course the Arians, were maintaining that this great man was of their faction, those lights of the truth Flavianus, Diodorus, and Aphraates sent Acacius, an athlete of virtue who afterwards very wisely ruled the church at Beroea, to the famous Julianus with the entreaty that he would take pity on so many thousands of men, and at the same time convict the enemy of lies and confirm the proclamation of the truth. The miracles worked by Julianus on his way to and from Antioch and in that vast city itself are described in my Religious History, which is easily accessible to all who wish to become acquainted with them. But I am sure that no one who has enquired into human nature will doubt that he attracted all the population of the city to our assembly, for the extraordinary is generally sure to draw all men after it. The fact of his having wrought great marvels is attested even by the enemies of the truth.
Before this time in the reign of Constantius the great Antonius had acted in the same way in Alexandria, for he abandoned the desert and went up and down that city, telling all men that Athanasius was the preacher of the true doctrine and that the Arian faction were enemies of the truth. So those godly men knew how to adapt themselves to each particular opportunity, when to remain inactive, and at rest, and when to leave the deserts for towns.
CHAPTER XXV. Of what other monks were distinguished at this period.
THERE were also other then at this period who emitted the bright rays of the philosophy of solitary life. In the Chalcidian desert Avitus, Marcianus and Abraames, and more besides whom I cannot easily enumerate, strove in their bodies of sense to live a life superior to sense. In the district of Apamea, Agapetus, Simeon, Paulus and others reaped the fruits of the highest wisdom.
In the district of the Zeugmatenses were Publius and Paulus. In the Cyrestian the famous Acepsemas had been shut up in a cell for sixty years without being either seen or spoken to. The admirable Zeumatius, though bereft of sight, used to go about confirming the sheep, and fighting with the wolves; so they burnt his cell, but the right faithful general Trajanus got another built for him, and paid him besides other attentions. In the neighbourhood of Antioch, Marianus,(10) Eusebius,(11) Ammianus,(12) Palladius,(13) Simeon,(14) Abraames,(15) and others, preserved the divine image unimpaired; but of all these the lives have been recorded by us. But the mountain which is in the neighbourhood of the great city was decked like a meadow, for in it shone Petrus, the Galatian, his namesake the Egyptian, Romanus Severus, Zeno, Moses, and Malchus, and many others of whom the world is ignorant, but who are known to God.
CHAPTER XXVI. Of Didymus of Alexandria and Ephraim the Syrian.
AT that period at Edessa flourished the admirable Ephraim, and at Alexandria Didymus, both writers against the doctrines that are at variance with the truth. Ephraim, employing the Syrian language, shed beams of spiritual grace. Totally untainted as he was by heathen education he was able to expose the niceties of heathen error, and lay bare the weakness of all heretical artifices. Harmonius the son of Bardesanes had once composed certain songs and by mixing sweetness of melody with his impiety beguiled the hearers, and led them to their destruction. Ephraim adopted the music of the songs, but set them to piety, and so gave the hearers at once great delight and a healing medicine. These songs are still used to enliven the festivals of our victorious martyrs.
Didymus, however, who from a child had been deprived of the sense of sight, had been educated in poetry, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, the logic of Aristotle, and the eloquence of Plato. Instruction in all these subjects he received by the sense of hearing alone,--not indeed as conveying the truth, but as likely to be weapons for the truth against falsehood. Of holy scriptures he learnt not only the sonnet but the sense. So among livers of ascetic lives and students of virtue, these men at that time Were conspicuous.
CHAPTER XXVII. Of what bishops were at this time distinguished in Asia and Pontus.
AMONG the bishops were the two Gregorii, the one of Nazianzus and the other of Nyssa, the latter the brother and the former the friend and fellow worker of the great Basilius. These were foremost champions of piety in Cappadocia; and in front rank with them was Peter, born of the same parents with Basilius and Gregorius, who though not having received like them a foreign education, like them lived a life of brilliant distinction.
In Pisidia Optimus, in Lycaonia Amphilochius, fought in the front rank on behalf of their fathers' faith, and repelled tim enemies' assaults.
In the West Damasus, Bishop of Rome, and Ambrosius, entrusted with the govern-meat of Milan, smote those who attacked them from afar. In conjunction with these, bishops forced to dwell in remote regions, confirmed their friends and undid their foes by writings--thus pilots able to cope with the greatness of the storm were granted by the governor of the universe. Against the violence of the foe He set in battle array the virtue of His captains, and provided means meet to ward off the troubles of these difficult times, and not only were the churches granted this kind of protection by their loving Lord, but deemed worthy of yet another kind of guidance.
CHAPTER XXVIII. Of the letter written by Valens to the great Valentinianus about the war, and how he replied.
THE Lord roused the Goths to war, and drew on to the Bosphorus him who knew only how to fight against the pious. Then for the first time the vain than became aware of his own weakness, and sent to his brother to ask for troops. But Valentinian replied that it were impious to help one fighting against God, and right rather to check his rashness. By this the unhappy man was filled with yet greater infatuation, yet he did not withdraw from his rash undertaking, and persisted in ranging himself against the truth.
CHAPTER XXIX. Of the piety of Count Terentius.
TERENTIUS, an excellent general, distinguished for his piety, had set up trophies of victory and returned from Armenia. On being ordered by Valens to choose a boon, he mentioned one which it was becoming in a man nurtured in piety to choose, for he asked not gold nor yet silver, not land, not dignity, not a house, but that one church might be granted to them that were risking their all for the Apostolic doctrine. Valens received the petition, but on becoming acquainted with its contents he tore it up in a rage, and bade Terentius beg some other boon. The count, however, picked up the pieces of his petition, and said, "I have my reward, sir, and I will not ask another. The Judge of all things is Judge of my intention."
CHAPTER XXX. Of the bold utterance of Trajanus the general.
AFTER Valens had crossed the Bosphorus and come into Thrace he first spent a considerable time at Constantinople, in alarm as to the issue of the war. He had sent Trajanus in command of troops against the barbarians. When the general came back beaten, the emperor reviled him sadly, and charged him with infirmity and cowardice. Boldly, as became a brave man, Trajanus replied: "I have not been beaten, sir, it is thou who hast abandoned the victory by fighting against God and transferring His support to the barbarians. Attacked by thee He is taking their side, for victory is on God's side and comes to them whom God leads. Dost thou not know," he went on, "whom thou hast expelled from their churches and to whose government these churches have been delivered by thee?" Arintheus and Victor,? generals like Trajanus, confirmed the truth of what he said, and implored the emperor not to be angered by reproaches which were founded upon fact.
CHAPTER XXXI. Of Isaac the monk of Constantinople and Bretanio the Scythian Bishop.
IT is related that Isaac, who lived as a solitary at Constantinople, when he saw Valens marching out with his troops, cried aloud, "Whither goest thou, O emperor? To fight against God, instead of having Him as thy ally? 'Tis God himself who has roused the barbarians against thee, because thou hast stirred many tongues to blasphemy against Him and hast driven His worshippers from their sacred abodes. Cease then thy campaigning and stop the war. Give back to the flocks their excellent shepherds and thou shalt win victory without trouble, but if thou tightest without so doing thou shalt learn by experience how hard it is to kick against the pricks. Thou shalt never come back and shalt destroy thy army." Then in a passion the emperor rejoined, "I shall come back; and I will kill thee, and so exact punishment for thy lying prophecy." But Isaac undismayed by the threat exclaimed, "If what I say be proved false, kill me."
Bretanio, a man distinguished by various virtues, and entrusted with the episcopal government of all the cities of Scythia, fired his soul with enthusiasm, and protested against the corruption of doctrines, and the emperor's lawless attacks upon the saints, crying in the words of the godly David, "I spoke of thy testimonies also before Kings and was not ashamed."
CHAPTER XXXII. Of the expedition of Valens against the Garbs and how he paid the penalty of his impiety.
VALENS, however, spurned these excellent counsellors, and sent out his troops to join battle while he himself sat waiting in a hamlet for the victory. His troops could not stand against the barbarians' charge, turned tail and were slain one after another as they fled, the Romans fleeing at full speed and the barbarians chasing them with all their might. When Valens heard of the defeat he strove to conceal himself in the village where he lay, but when the barbarians came up they set the place on fire and together with it burnt the enemy of piety. Thus in this present life Valens paid the penalty of his errors.
CHAPTER XXXIII. How the Goths became tainted by the Arian error.
To those ignorant of the circumstances it may be worth while to explain how the Goths got the Arian plague. After they had crossed the Danube, and made peace with Valens, the infamous Eudoxius, who was on the spot, suggested to the emperor to persuade the Goths to accept communion with him. They had indeed long since received the rays of divine knowledge and had been nurtured in the apostolic doctrines, "but now," said Eudoxius, "community of opinion will make the peace all the firmer." Valens approved of this counsel and proposed to the Gothic chieftains an agreement in doctrine, but they replied that they would not consent to forsake the teaching of their fathers. At the period in question their Bishop Ulphilas was implicitly obeyed by them and they received his words as laws which none might break. Partly by the fascination of his eloquence and partly by the bribes with which he baited his proposals Eudoxius succeeded in inducing him to persuade the barbarians to embrace communion with the emperor, so Ulphilas won them over on the plea that the quarrel between the different parties was really one of personal rivalry and involved no difference in doctrine. The result is that up to this day the Goths assert that the Father is greater than the Son, but they refuse to describe the Son as a creature, although they are in communion with those who do so. Yet they cannot be said to have altogether abandoned their Father's teaching, since Ulphilas in his efforts to persuade them to join m communion with Eudoxius and Valens denied that there was any difference in doctrine and that the difference had arisen from mere empty strife.
CHAPTER I. Of the piety of the emperor Gratianus.
How the Lord God is long suffering towards those who rage against him, and chastises those who abuse his patience, is plainly taught by the acts and by the fate of Valens. For the loving Lord uses mercy and justice like wights and scales; whenever he sees any one by the greatness of his errors over-stepping the bounds of loving kindness, by just punishment He hinders him from being carried to further extremes.
Now Gratianus, the son of Valentinianus, and nephew of Valens, acquired the whole Roman Empire. He had already assumed the sceptre of Europe on the death of his father, in whose life-time he had shared the throne. On the death of Valens without issue he acquired in addition Asia, and the portions of Libya.
CHAPTER II. Of the return of the bishops.
THE emperor at once gave plain indications of his adherence to true religion, and offered the first fruits of his kingdom to the Lord of all, by publishing an edict commanding the exiled shepherds to return, and to be restored to their flocks, and ordering the sacred buildings to be delivered to congregations adopting communion with Damasus.
This Damasus, the successor of Liberius in the see of Rome, was a man of most praiseworthy life and by his own choice alike in word and deed a champion of Apostolic doctrines. To put his edict in force Gratianus sent Sapor the general, a very famous character at that time, with orders to expel the preachers of the blasphemies of Arius like wild beasts from the sacred folds, and to effect the restoration of the excellent shepherds to God's flocks.
In every instance this was effected without dispute except in Antioch, the Eastern capital, where a quarrel was kindled which I shall proceed to describe.
CHAPTER III. Of the dissension caused by Paulinus; of the innovation by Apollinarius of Laodicea, and of the philosophy of Meletius.
IT has been already related how the defenders of the apostolic doctrines were divided into two parties; how immediately after the conspiracy formed against the great Eustathius, one section, in abhorrence of the Arian abomination, assembled together by themselves with Paulinus for their bishop, while, after the ordination of Euzoius, the other party separated themselves from the impious with the excellent Meletius, underwent the perils previously described, and were guided by the wise instructions which Meletius gave them. Besides these Apollinarius of Laodicea constituted himself leader of a third party, and though he assumed a mask of piety, and appeared to defend apostolic doctrines, he was soon seen to be an open foe. About the divine nature he used unsound arguments, and originated the idea of certain degrees of dignities. He also had the hardihood to render the mystery of the incarnation imperfect and affirmed that the reasonable soul, which is entrusted with the guidance of the body, was deprived of the salvation effected. For according to his argument God the Word did not assume this soul, and so neither granted it His healing gift, nor gave it a portion of His dignity. Thus the earthly body is represented as worshipped by invisible powers, while the soul which is made in the image of God has remained below invested with the dishonour of sin. Many more errors did he utter in his stumbling and blinded intelligence. At one time even he was ready to confess that of the Holy Virgin the flesh had been taken, at another time he represented it to have come down from heaven with God the Word, and yet again that He had been made flesh and took nothing from us. Other vain tales and trifles which I have thought it superfluous to repeat he mixed up with God's gospel promises. By arguments of this nature he not only filled his own friends with dangerous doctrine but even imparted it to some among ourselves. As time went on, when they saw their own insignificance, and beheld the splendour of the Church, all except a few were gathered into the Church's communion. But they did not quite put away their former unsoundness, and with it infected many of the sound. This was the origin of the growth in the Church of the doctrine of the one nature of the Flesh and of the Godhead, of the ascription to the Godhead of the Passion of the only begotten, and of other points which have bred differences among the laity and their priests. But these belong to a later date. At the time of which I am speaking, when Sapor the General had arrived and had exhibited the imperial edict, Paulinus affirmed that he sided with Damasus, and Apollinarius, concealing his unsoundness, did the same. The divine Mele-tius, on the other hand, made no sign, and put up with their dispute. Flavianus, of high fame for his wisdom, who was at that time still in the ranks of the presbyterate, at first said to Paulinus in the hearing of the officer "If, my dear friend, you accept communion with Damasus, point out to us clearly how the doctrines agree, for he though he owns one substance of the Trinity openly preaches three essences. You on the contrary deny the Trinity of the essences. Shew us then how these doctrines are in harmony, and receive the charge of the churches, as the edict enjoins." After so silencing Paulinus by his arguments he turned to Apollinarius and said, "I am astonished, my friend, to find you waging such violent war against the truth, when all the while you know quite clearly how the admirable Damasus maintains oar nature to have been taken in its perfection by God the Word; but you persist in saying the contrary, for you deprive our intelligence of its salvation. If these our charges against you be false, deny now the novelty that you have originated; embrace the teaching of Damasus, and receive the charge of the holy shrines."
Thus Flavianus in his great wisdom stopped their bold speech with his true reasoning.
Meletius, who of all men was most meek, thus kindly and gently addressed Paulinus. "The Lord of the sheep has put the care of these sheep in my hands: you have received the charge of the rest: our little ones are in communion with one another in the true religion. Therefore, my dear friend, let us join our flocks; let us have done with our dispute about the leading of them, and, feeding the sheep together, let us tend them in common. If the chief seat is the cause of strife, that strife I will endeavour to put away. On the chief seat I will put the Holy Gospel; let us take our seats on each side of it; should I be the first to pass away, you, my friend, will hold the leadership of the flock alone. Should this be your lot before it is mine, I in my turn, so far as I am able, will take care of the sheep." So gently and kindly spoke the divine Meletius. Paulinus did not consent. The officer passed judgment on what had been said and gave the churches to the great Meletius. Paulinus still continued at the head of the sheep who had originally seceded.
CHAPTER IV. Of Eusebius Bishop of Samosata.
APOLLINARIUS after thus failing to get the government of the churches, continued, for the future, openly to preach his new fangled doctrine, and constituted himself leader of the heresy. He resided for the most part at Laodicea; but at Antioch he had already ordained Vitalius, a man of excellent character, brought up in the apostolic doctrines, but afterwards tainted with the heresy. Diodorus, whom I have already mentioned, who in the great storm had saved the ship of the church from sinking, had been appointed by the divine Meletius, bishop of Tarsus, and had received the charge of the Cilicians. The see of Apamea Meletius entrusted to John, a man of illustrious birth, more distinguished for his own high qualities than for those of his forefathers, for he was conspicuous alike for the beauty of his teaching and of his life. In the time of the tempest he piloted the assembly of his fellows in the faith supported by the worthy Stephanus. The latter was however translated by the divine Meletius to carry on another contest, for on the arrival of intelligence that Germanicia had been contaminated by the Eudoxian pest he was sent thither as a physician to ward off the disease, thoroughly trained as he had been in a complete heathen education as well as nurtured in the Divine doctrines. He did not disappoint the expectations formed of him, for by the power of his spiritual instruction he turned the wolves into sheep.
On the return of the great Eusebius from exile he ordained Acacius whose fame is great at Beroea. and at Hierapolis Theodotus, whose ascetic life is to this clay in all men's mouths. Eusebius was moreover appointed to the see of Chalcis, and Isidorus to our own city of Cyrus; both admirable men, conspicuous for their divine zeal.
Meletius is also reported to have ordained to the pastorate of Edessa, where the godly Barses had already departed this life, Eulo-gius, the well known champion of apostolic doctrines, who bad been sent to Antinone with Protogenes. Eulogius gave Protogenes, his companion in hard service, the charge of Carrae, a healing physician for a sick city.
Lastly the divine Eusebius ordained Maris, Bishop of Doliche, a little city at that time infected with the Arian plague. With the intention of enthroning this Maris, a right worthy man, illustrious for various virtues, in the episcopal chair, the great Eusebius came to Doliche. As he was entering into the town a woman thoroughly infected with the Arian plague let fall a tile from the roof, which crushed in his head and so wounded him that not long after he departed to the better life. As he lay a-dying he charged the bystanders not to exact the slightest penalty from the woman who had done the deed, and bound them trader oaths to obey him. Thus he imitated his own Lord, who of them that crucified Him said "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."
Thus, too, he followed the example of Stephanus, his fellow slave, who, after the stones had stormed upon him, cried aloud, "Lord lay not this sin to their charge." So died the great Eusebius after many and various struggles. He had escaped the barbarians in Thrace, but he did not escape the violence of impious heretics, and by their means won the martyr's crown.
These events happened after the return of the bishops, and now Gratian learnt that Thrace was being laid waste by the barbarians who had burnt Valens, so he left Italy and proceeded to Pannonia.
CHAPTER V. Of the campaign of Theodosius.
Now at this time Theodosius, on account alike of the splendour of his ancestry, and of his own courage, was a man of high repute. For this reason being from time to time stricken by the envy of his rivals, he was living in Spain, where he had been born and brought up. The emperor, being at a loss what measures to take, now that the barbarians, puffed up by their victory, both were and seemed well nigh invincible, formed the idea that a way out of his difficulties would be found in the appointment of Theodosius to the supreme command. He therefore lost no time in sending for him from Spain, appointing him commander in chief and despatching him at the head of the assembled forces.
Defended by his faith Theodosius marched confidently forth. On entering Thrace, and beholding the barbarians advancing to meet him, he drew up his troops in order of battle. The two lines met, and the enemy could not stand the attack and broke. A rout ensued, the foe taking to flight and the conquerors pursuing at full speed. There was a great slaughter of the barbarians, for they were slain not only by Romans but even by one another. After the greater number of them had thus fallen, and a few of those who had been able to escape pursuit had crossed the Danube, the great captain dispersed the troops which he commanded among the neighbouring towns, and forthwith rode at speed to this emperor Gratianus, himself the messenger of his own triumph. Even to the emperor himself, astounded at the event, the tidings he carried seemed incredible, while others stung with envy gave out that he had run away and lost his army. His only reply was to ask his gainsayers to send and ascertain the number of the barbarian dead, "For," said he, "even from their spoils it is easy to learn their number." At these words the emperor gave way and sent officers to investigate and report on the battle.
CHAPTER VI. Of the reign of Theodosius and of his dream.
THE great general remained, and then saw a wonderful vision clearly shewn him by the very God of the universe himself. In it he seemed to see the divine Meletius, chief of the church of the Antiochenes, investing him with an imperial robe, anti covering his head with an imperial crown. The morning after the night hi which he had seen the vision he told it to one of his intimate friends, who pointed out that the dream was plain and had nothing obscure or ambiguous about it.
A few days at most had gone by when the commissioners sent to investigate the battle returned and reported that vast multitudes of the barbarians had been shot down.
Then the emperor was convinced that he had done right well in selecting Theodosius for the command, and appointed him emperor and gave him the sovereignty of the share of Valens.
Upon this Gratian departed for Italy and despatched Theodosius to the countries committed to his charge. No sooner had Theodosius assumed the imperial dignity than before everything else he gave heed to the harmony of the churches, and ordered the bishops of his own realm to repair with haste to Constantinople. That division of the empire was now the only region infected with the Arian plague, for the west had escaped the taint. This was due to the fact that Constantine the eldest of Constantine's sons, and Constans the youngest, had preserved their father's faith in its integrity, and that Valentinian, emperor of the West, had also kept the true religion undefiled.
CHAPTER VII. Of famous leaders of the Arian faction.
THE Eastern section of the empire had received the infection from many quarters. Arius, a presbyter of Alexandria in Egypt, there begat the blasphemy. Eusebius, Patrophilus, and Aetius of Palestine, Paulinus and Gregorius of Phoenicia, Theodotus of Laodicea and his successor Georgius, and after him Athanasius and Narcissus of Cilicia, had nurtured the seeds so foully sown. Eusebius and Theognis of Bithynia; Menophantus of Ephesus; Theodorus of Perinthus and Maris of Chalcedon, and some others of Thrace famous only for their vices, had for a long time gone on watering and tending the crop of tares. These bad husbandmen were aided by the indifference of Constantius and the malignity of Valens.
For these reasons only the bishops of his own empire were summoned by the emperor to meet at Constantinople. They arrived, being in all one hundred and fifty in number, and Theodosius forbade any one to tell him which was the great Meletius, for he wished the bishop to be recognized by his dream. The w hole company of the bishops entered the imperial palace, and then without any notice of all the rest, Theodosius ran up to the great Meletius, and, like a boy who loves his father, stood for a long space gazing on him with filial joy, then flung his arms around him, and covered eyes and lips and breast and head and the hand that had given him the crown, with kisses. Then he told him of his dream. All the rest of the bishops were then courteously welcomed, and all were bidden to deliberate as became fathers on the subjects laid before them.
CHAPTER VIII. The council assembled at Constantinople.
AT this time the recent feeder of the flock at Nazianzus was living at Constantino- ple, continually withstanding the blasphemies of the Arians, watering the holy people with the teaching of the Gospel, catching wanderers outside the flock and removing them from poisonous pasture. So that flock once small he made a great one. When the divine Meletius saw him, knowing as he did full well the object which the makers of the canon had before them when, with the view of preventing the possibility of ambitious efforts, they forbade the translation of bishops, he confirmed Gregory in the episcopate of Constantinople. Shortly afterwards the divine Meletius passed away to the life that knows no pain, crowned by the praises of the funeral eloquence of all the great orators.
Timotheus, bishop of Alexandria, who had followed Peter, the successor of Athanasius in the patriarchate, ordained in place of the admirable Gregorius, Maximus--a cynic who bad but recently suffered his cynic's hair to be shorn, and had been carried away by the flimsy rhetoric of Apollinarius. But this absurdity was beyond the endurance of the assembled bishops--admirable men, and full of divine zeal and wisdom, such as Helladius, successor of the great Basil, Gregorius and Peter, brothers of Basil, and Amphilochius from Lycaonia, Optimus from Pisidia, Diodorus from Cilicia.
The council was also attended by Pelagius of Laodicaea, Eulogius of Edessa, Acacius, our own Isidorus, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gelasius of Caesarea in Palestine, who was renowned alike for lore and life and many other athletes of virtue.
All these then whom I have named separated themselves from the Egyptians and celebrated divine service with the great Gregory. But he himself implored them, assembled as they were to promote harmony, to subordinate all question of wrong to an individual to the promotion of agreement with one another. "For," said he, "I shall be released from many cares and once more lead the quiet life. I bold so dear; while you, after your long and painful warfare, will obtain the longed for peace. What can be more absurd than for men who have just escaped the weapons of their enemies to waste their own strength in wounding one another; by so doing we shall be a laughing stock to our opponents. Find then some worthy man of sense, able to sustain heavy responsibilities and discharge them well, and make him bishop." The excellent pastors moved by these counsels appointed as bishop of that mighty city a man of noble birth and distinguished for every kind of virtue as well as for the splendour of his ancestry, by name Nectarius. Maximus, as having participated in the insanity of Apollinarius, they stripped of his episcopal rank and rejected. They next enacted canons concerning the good government of the church, and published a confirmation of the faith set forth at Nicaea. Then they returned each to his own country. Next summer the greater number of them assembled again in the same city, summoned once more by the needs of the church. and received a synodical letter from the bishops of the west inviting them to come to Rome, where a great synod was being assembled. They begged however to be excused from travelling thus far abroad; their doing so, they said, would be useless. They wrote however both to point out the storm which had risen against the churches, and to hint at the carelessness with which the western bishops had treated it. They also included in their letter a summary of the apostolic doctrine, but the boldness and wisdom of their expressions will be more clearly shown by the letter itself.
CHAPTER IX. Synodical letter from the council at Constantinople.
"TO the right honourable lords our right reverend brethren and colleagues Damasus, Ambrosius, Britton, Valerianus, Ascholius, Ahemius, Basilius and the rest of the holy bishops assembled in the great city of Rome, the holy synod of the orthodox bishops assembled at the great city of Constantinople, sends greeting in the Lord.
"To recount all the sufferings inflicted on us by the power of the Arians, and to attempt to give information to your reverences, as though you were not already well acquainted with them, might seem superfluous. For we do not suppose your piety to hold what is befalling us as of such secondary importance as that you stand in any need of information on matter's which cannot but evoke your sympathy. Nor indeed were the storms which beset us such as to escape notice from their insignificance. Our persecutions are but of yesterday. The sound of them still rings in the ears alike of those who suffered them and of those whose love made the sufferers' pain their own. It was but a day or two ago, if I may so say, that some released from chains in foreign lands returned to their own churches through manifold afflictions; of others who had died in exile the relics were brought home; others again, even after their return from exile, found the passion of the heretics still at boiling heat, and, slain by them with stones as was the blessed Stephen, met with a sadder fate in their own than in a stranger's land. Others, worn away with various cruelties, still bear in their bodies the scars of their wounds and the marks of Christ.
"Who could tell the tale of fines, of disfranchisements, of individual confiscations, of intrigues, of outrages, of prisons? In truth all kinds of tribulation were wrought out beyond number in us, perhaps because we were paying the penalty of sins, perhaps because the merciful God was trying us by means of the multitude of our sufferings. For these all thanks to God, who by means of such afflictions trained his servants and, according to the multitude of his mercies, brought us again to refreshment. We indeed needed long leisure, time, and toil to restore the church once more, that so, like physicians healing the body after long sickness and expelling its disease by gradual treatment, we might bring her back to her ancient health of true religion. It is true that on the whole we seem to have been delivered from the violence of our persecutions and to be just now recovering the churches which have for a long time been the prey of the heretics. But wolves are troublesome to us who, though they have been driven from the byre, yet harry the flocks up and down the glades, daring to hold rival assemblies, stirring seditions among the people, and shrinking from nothing which can do damage to the churches.
"So, as we have already said, we needs must labour all the longer. Since however you showed your brotherly love to us by inviting us(as though we were your own members) by the letters of our most religious emperor to the synod which you are gathering by divine permission at Rome, to the end that since we alone were then condemned to suffer persecution, you should not now, when our emperors are at one with us as to true religion, reign apart from us, but that we, to use the apostle's phrase, should reign with you, our prayer was, if it were possible, all in company to leave our churches, and rather gratify our longing to see you than consult their needs. For who will give us wings as of a dove, and we will fly and be at rest? But this course seemed likely to leave the churches who were just recovering quite undefended, and the undertaking was to most of us impossible, for, in accordance with the letters sent a year ago from your holiness after the synod at Aquileia to the most pious emperor Theodosius, we had journeyed to Constantinople, equipped only for travelling so far as Constantinople, and bringing the consent of the bishops remaining in the provinces for this synod alone. We had been in no expectation of any longer journey nor had heard a word about it before our arrival at Constantinople. In addition to all this, and on account of the narrow limits of the appointed time which allowed of no preparation for a longer journey, nor of communicating with the bishops of our communion in the provinces and of obtaining their consent, the journey to Rome was for the majority impossible. We have therefore adopted the next best course open to us under the circumstances, both for the better administration of the church, and for manifesting our love towards you, by strongly urging our most venerated, and honoured colleagues and brother bishops Cyriacus, Eusebius and Priscianus, to consent to travel to you.
"Through them we wish to make it plain that our disposition is all for peace with unity for its sole object, and that we are full of zeal for the right faith. For we, whether we suffered persecutions, or afflictions, or the threats of emperors, or the cruelties of princes or any other trial at the hands of heretics, have undergone all for the sake of the evangelic faith, ratified by the three hundred and eighteen fathers at Nicaea in Bithynia. This is the faith which ought to be sufficient for you, for us, for all who wrest not the word of the true faith; for it is the ancient faith; it is the faith of our baptism; it is the faith that teaches us to believe in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
"Accordiug to this faith there is one Godhead, Power and Substance of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; the dignity being equal, and the majesty being equal in three perfect essences and three perfect persons. Thus there is neither room for the heresy of Sabellius by the confusion of the essences or destruction of the individualities; thus the blasphemy of the Eunomians, of the Arians, and of the Pneumatomachi is nullified, which divides the substance, the nature and the godhead and superinduces on the uncreated consubstantial and co-eternal trinity a nature posterior, created and of a different substance. We moreover preserve unperverted the doctrine of the incarnation of the Lord, holding the tradition that the dispensation of the flesh is neither soulless nor mindless nor imperfect; and knowing full well that God's Word was perfect before the ages, and became perfect than in the last days for our salvation.
"Let this suffice for a summary of the doctrine which is fearlessly and frankly preached by us, and concerning which you will be able to be still further satisfied if you will deign to read the report of the synod of Antioch, and also that issued last year by the oecumenical council held at Constantinople, in which we have set forth our confession of the faith at greater length, and have appended an anathema against the heresies which innovators have recently inscribed.
"Now as to the particular administration of individual churches, an ancient custom, as you know, has obtained, confirmed by the enactment of the holy fathers at Nicaea, that, in every province, the bishops of the province, and, with their consent, the neighbouring bishops with them, should perform ordinations as expediency may require. In conforming with these customs note that other churches have been administered by us and the priests of the most famous churches publicly appointed. Accordingly over the new made (if the expression be allowable) church at Constantinople, which, as though from a lion's mouth, we have lately snatched by God's mercy from the blasphemy of the heretics, we have ordained bishop the right reverend and most religious Nectarius, in the presence of the oecumenical council, with common consent, before the most religions emperor Theodosius, and with the assent of all the clergy and of the whole city. And over the most ancient and truly apostolic church in Syria, where first the noble name of Christians was given them, the bishops of the province and of the eastern diocese have met together and canonically ordained bishop the right reverend and most religious Flavianus, with the consent of all the church, who as though with one voice joined in expressing their respect for him. This rightful ordination also received the sanction of the general council. Of the church at Jerusalem, mother of all the churches, we make known that the right reverend and most religious Cyril is bishop, who was some time ago canonically ordained by the bishops of the province, and has in several places fought a good fight against the Arians. We beseech your reverence to rejoice at what has thus been rightly and canonically settled by us, by the intervention of spiritual love and by the influence of the fear of the Lord, compelling the feelings of then, and making the edification of churches of more importance than individual grace or favour. Thus since among us there is agreement in the faith and Christian charity has been established, we shall cease to use the phrase condemned by the apostles, 'I am of Paul and I of Apollos and I of Cephas,' and all appearing as Christ's, who in us is not divided, by God's grace we will keep the body of the church unrent, and will boldly stand at the judgment seat of the Lord."
These things they wrote against the madness of Arius, Aetius, and Eunomius; and moreover against Sabellius, Photinus, Marcellus, Paul of Samosata, and Macedonius. Similarly they openly condemned the innovation of Apollinarius in the phrase, "And we preserve the doctrine of the incarnation of the Lord, holding the tradition that the dispensation of the flesh is neither soulless, nor mindless, nor imperfect."
CHAPTER X. Synodical letter of Damasus bishop of Rome against Apollinarius and Timotheus.
WHEN the most praiseworthy. Damasus had heard of the rise of this heresy, he proclaimed the condemnation not only of Apollinarius but also of Timotheus his follower. The letter in which he made this known to the bishops of the Eastern empire I have thought it well to insert in my history.
Letter of Damasus bishop of Rome.
"Most honourable sons: Inasmuch as your love renders to the apostolic see the reverence which is its due, accept the same in no niggard measure for yourselves. For even though in the holy church in which the holy apostle sat, and taught us how it becomes us to manage the rudder which has been committed to us, we nevertheless confess ourselves to be unworthy of the honour, we yet on this very account strive by every means within our power if haply we may be able to achieve the glory of that blessedness. Know then that we have condemned Timotheus, the unhallowed, the disciple of Apollinarius the heretic, together with his impious doctrine, and are confident that for the future his remains will have no weight whatever. But if that old serpent, though smitten once and again, still revives to his own destruction, who though he exists without the church never ceases from the attempt by his deadly venom to overthrow certain unfaithful men, do you avoid it as you would a pest, mindful ever of the apostolic faith--that, I mean, which was set out in writing by the Fathers at Nicaea; do you remain on steady ground, firm and unmoved in the faith, and henceforward suffer neither your clergy nor laity to listen to vain words and futile questions, for we have already given a form, that he who professes himself a Christian may keep it, the form delivered by the Apostles, as says St. Paul, 'if any one preach to you another gospel than that you have received let him be Anathema.' For Christ the Son of God, our Lord, gave by his own passion abundant salvation to the race of men, that he might free from all sin the whole man involved in sin. If any one speaks of Christ as having had less of manhood or of Godhead, he is full of devils' spirits, and proclaims himself a child of hell.
"Why then do you again ask me for the condemnation of Timotheus? Here, by the judgment of the apostolic see, in the presence of Peter, bishop of Alexandria, he was condemned, together with his teacher, Apollinarius, who will also in the day of judgment undergo due punishment and torment. But if he succeeds in persuading some less stable men, as though having some hope, after by his confession changing the true hope which is in Christ, with him shall likewise perish whoever of set purpose withstands the order of the Church. May God keep you sound, most honoured sons."
The bishops assembled in great Rome also wrote other things against other heresies which I have thought it necessary to insert in my history.
CHAPTER XI. A confession of the Catholic faith which Pope Damasus sent to Bishop Paulinus in Macedonia when he was at Thessalonica.
AFTER the Council of Nicaea there sprung up this error. Certain men ventured with profane mouths to say that the Holy Spirit is made through the Son. We therefore anathematize those who do not with all freedom preach that the Holy Spirit is of one and the same substance and power with the Father and the Son. In like manner we anathematize them that follow the error of Sabellius and say that the Father and the Son are the same. We anathematize Arius and Eunomius who with equal impiety, though with differences of phrase, maintain the Son and the Holy Spirit to be a creature. We anathematize the Macedonians who, produced froth the root of Arius, have changed the name but not the impiety. We anathematize Photinus who, renewing the heresy of Ebion, confessed that our Lord Jesus Christ was only of Mary. We anathematize them that main- tain that there are two sons--one before the ages and another after the assumption of the flesh from Mary. We anathematize also all who maintain that the Word of God moved in human flesh instead of a reasonable soul. For this Word of God Himself was not in His own body instead of a reasonable and intellectual soul, but assumed and saved our soul, both reasonable and intellectual, without sin. We anathematize also them that say that the Word of God is separated from the Father by extension and contraction, and blasphemously affirm that He is without essential being or is destined to die.
Them that have gone from churches to other churches we so far hold alien from our communion till they shall have returned to those cities in which they were first ordained.
If any one, when another has gone from place to place, has been ordained in his stead, let him who abandoned his own city be held deprived of his episcopal rank until such time as his successor shall rest in the Lord.
If any one denies that the Father is eternal and the Son eternal and the Holy Ghost eternal, let him be anathema.
If any one denies that the Son was begotten of the Father, that is of His divine substance, let him be anathema.
If any one denies that the Son of God is very God, omnipotent and omniscient, and equal to the Father, let him be anathema.
If any one says that the Son of God, living in the flesh when he was on the earth, was not in heaven and with the Father, let him be anathema.
If any one says that in the Passion of the Cross the Son of God sustained its pain by Godhead, and not by reasonable soul and flesh which He bad assumed in the form of a servant, as saith the Holy Scripture, let him be anathema.
If any one denies that the Word of God suffered in the flesh and tasted death in the flesh, and was the first-born of the dead, as the Son is life and giver of life, let him be anathema.
If any one deny that He sits on the right hand of the Father in the flesh which He assumed, and in which He shall come to judge. quick and dead, let him be anathema.
If any one deny that the Holy Spirit is truly and absolutely of the Father, and that the Son is of the divine substance and very God of God, let him be anathema.
If any one deny that the Holy Spirit is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, as also the Son of the Father, let him be anathema.
If any one say that the Holy Spirit is a created being or was made through the Son, let him be anathema.
If any one deny that the Father made all things visible and invisible, through the Son who was made Flesh, and the Holy Spirit, let him be anathema.
If any one deny one Godhead and power, one sovereignty and glory, one lordship, out kingdom, will and truth of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, let him be anathema.
If any one deny three very persons of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, living for ever, containing all things visible and invisible, omnipotent, judging all things, giving life to all things, creating all things and preserving all things, let him be anathema.
If any one denies that the Holy Ghost is to be worshipped by all creation, as the Son, and as the Father, let him be anathema.
If any one shall think aright about the Father and the Son but does
not hold aright about the Holy Ghost, anathema, because he is a heretic,
for all the heretics who do not think aright about God the Son and about
the Holy Ghost are convicted of being involved in the unbelief of the Sews
and the heathen; and if any one shall divide Godhead, saying that the Father
is God apart and the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God, and should persist
that they are called Gods and not God, on account of the one Godhead and
sovereignty which we believe and know there to be of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Ghost--one God in three essences, --or withdrawing
the Son and the Holy Ghost so as to suggest that the Father alone is called
God and believed in as one God, let him be anathema.
For the name of gods has been bestowed by God upon angels and all saints, but of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost on account of their one and equal Godhead, not the names of "gods" but the name of "our God" is predicated and proclaimed, that we may believe that we are baptized in Father and Son and Holy Ghost and not in the names of archangels or angels, like the heretics or the Jews or foolish heathen.
This is the salvation of the Christians that believing in the Trinity, that is in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, and being baptized into the same one Godhead and power and divinity and substance, in Him we may trust.
These events happened during the life of Gratianus.
CHAPTER XII. Of the death of Gratianus and the sovereignty of Maximus.
GRATIANUS in the midst of his successes in war and wise and prudent government ended his life by conspiracy. He left no sons to inherit the empire, and a brother of the same name as their father, Valentinianus, who was quite a youth. So Maximus,a in contempt of the youth of Valentinianus, seized the throne of the West.
CHAPTER XIII. Of Justina, the wife of Valentinianus, and of her riot against Ambrosius.
AT this time Justina, wife of Valentinianus the great, and mother of the young prince, made known to her son the seeds of the Arian teaching which she had long ago received. Well knowing the warmth of her consort's faith she had endeavoured to conceal her sentiments during the whole of his life, but perceiving that her son's character was gentle and docile, she took courage to bring her deceitful doctrine forward. The lad supposed his mother's counsels to be wise and beneficial, for nature so disposed the bait that he could not see the deadly hook below. He first communicated on the subject with Ambrosius, trader the impression that, if he could persuade the bishop, he would be able without difficulty to prevail over the rest. Ambrosius, however, strove to remind him of his father's piety, and exhorted him to keep inviolate the heritage which he had received. He explained to him also how one doctrine differed from the other, how the one is in agreement with the teaching of the Lord and with the teaching of his apostles, while the other is totally opposed to it and at war with the code of the laws of the spirit.
The young man, as young men will. spurred on moreover by a mother herself the victim of deceit, not only did not assent to the arguments adduced, but lost his temper, and, in a passion, was for surrounding the approaches to the church with companies of legionaries and targeteers. When, however, he learnt that this illustrious champion was not in the least alarmed at his proceedings, for Ambrosius treated them all like the ghosts and hobgoblins with which some men try to frighten babies, he was exceedingly angry and publicly ordered him to depart from the church. "I shall not," said Ambrosius, "do so willingly. I will not yield the sheepfold to the wolves nor betray God's temple to blasphemers. If you wish to slay me drive your sword or your spear into me here within. I shall welcome such a death."
CHAPTER XIV. Of the information given by Maximus the tyrant to Valentinianus.
AFTER a considerable time Maximus was informed of the attacks which were being made upon the loud-voiced herald of the truth, and he sent dispatches to Valentinianus charging him to put a stop to his war against true religion and exhorting him not to abandon his father's faith. In the event of his advice being disregarded he further threatened war, and confirmed what be wrote by what he did, for he mustered his forces and marched for Milan where Valentinianus was then residing. When the latter heard of his approach he fled into Illyri- cum. He had learnt by experience what good he had got by following his mother's advice.
CHAPTER XV. Of the Letter written by the Emperor Theodosius concerning the same.
WHEN the illustrious emperor Theodosius had heard of the emperor's doings and what the tyrant Maximus had written to him he wrote to the fugitive youth to this effect You must not be astonished if to yon has come panic and to your enemy victory; for you have been fighting against piety, and he on its side. You abandoned it, and are running away naked. He in its panoply is getting the mastery of you stripped bare of it, for He who hath given us the law of true religion is ever on its side.
So wrote Theodosius when he was yet afar off; but when he had heard of Valentinian's flight, and had come to his aid, and saw him an exile, taking refuge in his own empire, his first thought was to give succour to his soul, drive out the intruding pestilence of impiety, and win him back to the true religion of his fathers. Then he bade him be of good cheer and marched against the tyrant. He gave the lad his empire again without loss of blood and slew Maximus. For he felt that he should be guilty of wrong and should violate the terms of his treaty with Gratianus were be not to take vengeance on those who had caused his ally's death.
CHAPTER XVI. Of Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium.
ON the emperor's return the admirable Amphilochius, whom I have often mentioned, came to beg that the Arian congregations might be expelled from the cities. The emperor thought the petition too severe, and refused it. The very wise Amphilochius at the moment was silent, for he had hit upon a memorable device. The next time he entered the Palace and beheld standing at the emperor's side his son Arcadius, who had lately been appointed emperor, he saluted Theodosius as was his wont, but did no honour to Arcadius. The emperor, thinking that this neglect was due to forgetfulness, commanded Amphilochius to approach and to salute his son. "Sir," said he, "the honour which I have paid you is enough." Theodosius was indignant at the discourtesy, and said, "Dishonour done to my son is a rudeness to myself." Then, and not till then, the very wise Amphilochius disclosed the object of his conduct, and said with a loud voice, "You see, sir, that you do not brook dishonour done your son, and are bitterly angry with those who are rude to him. Believe then that the God of all the world abominates them that blaspheme the Only begotten Son, and hates them as ungrateful to their Saviour and Benefactor."
Then the emperor understood the bishop's drift, and admired both what he had done and what he had said. Without further delay he put out an edict forbidding the congregations of heretics.
But to escape all the snares of the common enemy of mankind is no easy task. Often it happens that one who has kept clear of lascivious passion is fixed fast in the toils of avarice; and if he prove superior to greed there on the other side is the pitfall of envy, and even if he leap safe over this he will find a net of passion waiting for him on the other side.. Other innumerable stumbling blocks the enemy sets in men's paths, trying to catch them to their ruin.
Then he has at his disposal the bodily passions to help the wiles which he lays against the soul. The mind alone, if it keep awake, gets the better of him, frustrating the assault of his devices by its inclination to what is Divine. Now, since this admirable emperor had his share of human nature, and was not free from its emotions, his righteous anger passed the bounds of moderation, and caused the perpetration of a savage and lawless deed. I must tell this story for the sake of those into whose hands it will fall; it does not, indeed, only involve blame of the admirable emperor, but so redounds to his credit as to deserve to be remembered.
CHAPTER XVII. Of the massacre of Thessalonica; the boldness of Bishop Ambrosius, and the piety of the Emperor.
THESSALONICA is a large and very populous city, belonging to Macedonia, but the capital of Thessaly and Achaia, as well as of many other provinces which are governed by the prefect of Illyricum. Here arose a great sedition, and several of the magistrates were stoned and violently treated.
The emperor was fired with anger when he heard the news, and unable to endure the rush of his passion, did not even check its onset by the curb of reason, but allowed his rage to be the minister of his vengeance. When the imperial passion had received its authority, as though itself an independent prince, it broke the bonds and yoke of reason unsheathed swords of injustice right and left without distinction, and slew innocent and guilty together. No trial preceded the sentence. No condemnation was passed on the perpetrators of the crimes. Multitudes were mowed down like ears of corn in harvest-tide. It is said that seven thousand perished.
News of this lamentable calamity reached Ambrosius. The emperor on his arrival at Milan wished according to custom to enter the church. Ambrosius met him outside the outer porch and forbade him to step over the sacred threshold. "You seem, sir, not to know," said he, "the magnitude of the bloody deed that has been done. Your rage has subsided, but your reason has not yet recognised the character of the deed. Peradventure your Imperial power prevents your recognising the sin, and power stands in the light of reason. We must however know how our nature passes away and is subject to death; we must know the ancestral dust from which we sprang, and to which we are swiftly returning. We must not because we are dazzled by the sheen of the purple fail to see the weakness of the body that it robes. You are a sovereign, Sir, of men of like nature with your own, and who are in truth your fellow slaves; for there is one Lord and Sovereign of mankind, Creator of the Universe. With what eyes then will you look on the temple of our common Lord--with what feet will you tread that holy threshold, how will you stretch forth your hands still dripping with the blood of unjust slaughter? How in such hands will you receive the all holy Body of the Lord? How will you who in your rage unrighteously poured forth so much blood lift to your lips the precious Blood? Begone. Attempt not to add another crime to that which you have committed. Submit to the restriction to which the God the Lord of all agrees that you be sentenced. He will be your physician, He will give you health."
Educated as he had been in the sacred oracles, Theodosius knew clearly what belonged to priests and what to emperors. He therefore bowed to the rebuke of Ambrose, and retired sighing and weeping to the palace. After a considerable time, when eight months had passed away, the festival of our Saviour's birth came round and the emperor sat in his palace shedding a storm of tears.
Now Rufinus, at that time controller of the household, and, from his familiarity with his imperial master, able to use great freedom of speech, approached and asked him why he wept. With a bitter groan and yet more abundant weeping "You are trifling, Rufinus," said the emperor, "because von do not feel my troubles. I am groaning and lamenting at the thought of my own calamity; for menials and for beggars the way into the church lies open; they can go in without fear, and put up their petitions to their own Lord. I dare not set my foot there, and besides this for me the door of heaven is shut, for I remember the voice of the Lord which plainly says, 'Whatsoever ye bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven.'"
Rufinus replied "With your permission I will hasten to the bishop, and by my entreaties induce him to remit your penalty." "He will not yield" said the emperor. "I know the justice of the sentence passed by Ambrose, nor will he ever be moved by respect for my imperial power to transgress the law of God."
Rufinus urged his suit again and again, promising to win over Ambrosius; and at last the emperor commanded him to go with all despatch. Then, the victim of false hopes, Theodosius, in reliance on the promises of Rufinus, followed in person, himself. No sooner did the divine Ambrose perceive Rufinus than he exclaimed, "Rufinus, your impudence matches a dog's, for you were the adviser of this terrible slaughter; you have wiped shame from your brow, and guilty as you are of this mad outrage on the image of God yon stand here fearless, without a blush." Then Rufinus began to beg and pray, and announced the speedy approach of the emperor. Fired with divine zeal the holy Ambrosius exclaimed "Rufinus, I tell you beforehand; I shall prevent him from crossing the sacred threshold. If he is for changing his sovereign power into that of a tyrant I too will gladly submit to a violent death." On this Rufinus sent a messenger to inform the emperor in what mind the archbishop was, and exhorted him to remain within the palace. Theodosius had already reached the middle of the forum when he received the message. "I will go," said he, "and accept the disgrace I deserve." He advanced to the sacred precincts but did not enter the holy building. The archbishop was seated in the house of salutation and there the emperor approached him and besought that his bonds might be loosed.
"Your coming" said Ambrose "is the coming of a tyrant. You are raging against God; yon are trampling on his laws." "No," said Theodosius, "I do not attack laws laid down, I do not seek wrongfully to cross the sacred threshold; but I ask you to loose my bond, to take into account the mercy of our common Lord, and not to shut against me a door which our master has opened for all them that repent." The archbishop replied "What repentance have you shown since your tremendous crime? You have inflicted wounds right hard to heal; what salve have you applied?" "Yours" said the emperor "is the duty alike of pointing out and of mixing the salve. It is for me to receive what is given me." Then said the divine Ambrosius "You let your passion minister justice, your passion not your reason gives judgment. Put forth therefore an edict which shall make the sentence of your passion null and void; let the sentences which have been published inflicting death or confiscation be suspended for thirty clays awaiting the judgment of reason. When the days shall have elapsed let them that wrote the sentences exhibit their orders, and then, and not till then, when passion has calmed down, reason acting as sole judge shall examine the sentences and will see whether they be right or wrong. If it find them wrong it will cancel the deeds; if they be righteous it will confirm them, and the interval of time will inflict no wrong on them that have been rightly condemned."
This suggestion the emperor accepted and thought it admirable. He ordered the edict to be put out forthwith and gave it the authority of his sign manual. On this the divine Ambrosius loosed the bond.
Now the very faithful emperor came boldly within the holy temple bat did not pray to his Lord standing, or even on his knees, but lying prone upon the ground he tittered David's cry "My soul cleaveth unto the dust, quicken thou me according to thy word."
He plucked out his hair; he smote his head; he besprinkled the ground with drops of tears and prayed for pardon. When the time came for him to bring his oblations to the holy table, weeping all the while he stood up and approached the sanctuary.
After making his offering, as he was wont, he remained within at the rail, but once more the great Ambrosius kept not silence and taught him the distinction of places. First he asked him if he wanted anything; and when the emperor said that he was waiting for participation in the divine mysteries, Ambrose sent word to him by the chief deacon and said, "The inner place, sir, is open only to priests; to all the rest it is inaccessible; go out and stand where others stand; purple can make emperors, but not priests." This instruction too the faithful emperor most gladly received, and intimated in reply that it was not from any audacity that he had remained within the rails, but because he had understood that this was the custom at Constantinople. "I owe thanks," he added, "for being cured too of this error."
So both the archbishop and the emperor showed a mighty shining light of virtue. Both to me are admirable; the former for his brave words, the latter for his docility; the archbishop for the warmth of his zeal, and the prince for the purity of his faith.
On his return to Constantinople Theodosius kept within the bounds of piety which he had learnt from the great archbishop. For when the occasion of a feast brought him once again into the divine temple, after bringing his gifts to the holy table he straightway went out. The bishop at that time was, and on his asking the emperor what could possibly be the reason of his not remaining within, Theodosius answered with a sigh "I have learnt after great difficulty the differences between an emperor and a priest. It is not easy to find a man capable of teaching me the truth. Ambrosius alone deserves the title of bishop."
So great is the gain of conviction when brought home by a man of bright and shining goodness.
CHAPTER XVIII. Of the Empress Placilia.
YET other opportunities of improvement lay within the emperor's reach, for his wife used constantly to put him in mind of the divine laws in which she had first carefully educated herself. In no way exalted by her imperial rank she was rather fired by it with greater longing for divine things. The greatness of the good gift given her made her love for Him who gave it all the greater, so she bestowed every kind of attention on the maimed and the mutilated, declining all aid from her household and her guards, herself visiting the houses where the sufferers lodged, and providing every one with what he required. She also went about the guest chambers of the churches and ministered to the wants of the sick, herself handling pots and pans, and tasting broth, now bringing in a dish and breaking bread and offering morsels, and washing out a cup and going through all the other duties which are supposed to be proper to servants and maids. To them who strove to restrain her from doing these things with her own hands she would say, "It befits a sovereign to distribute gold; I, for the sovereign power that has been given me, am giving my own service to the Giver." To her husband, too, she was ever wont to say, "Husband, you ought always to bethink you what you were once and what you have become now; by keeping this constantly in mind you will never grow ungrateful to your benefactor, but will guide in accordance with law the empire bestowed upon you, and thus you will worship Him who gave it." By ever using language of this kind, she with fair and wholesome care, as it were, watered the seeds of virtue planted in her husband's heart.
She died before her husband, and not long after the time of her death events occurred which showed how well her husband loved her.
CHAPTER XIX. Of the sedition of Antioch.
IN consequence of his continual wars the emperor was compelled to impose heavy taxes on the cities of the empire.
The city of Antioch refused to put up with the new tax, and when the people saw the victims of its exaction subjected to torture and indignity, then, in addition to the usual deeds which a mob is wont to do when it is seizing an opportunity for disorder, they pulled down the bronze statue of the illustrious Placilla, for so was the empress named, and dragged it over a great part of the town. On being informed of these events the emperor, as was to be expected, was indignant. He then deprived the city of her privileges, and gave her dignity to her neighbour, with the idea that thus he could inflict on her the greatest indignity, for Antioch from the earliest times bad had a rival in Laodicea. He further threatened to burn and destroy the town and reduce it to the rank of a village. The magistrates however had arrested some men in the very act, and had put them to death before the tragedy came to the emperor's ears. All these orders bad been given by the Emperor, but had not been carried out because of the restriction imposed by the edict which had been made by the advice of the great Ambrosius. On the arrival of the commissioners who brought the emperor's threats, Elebichus, then a military commander, and Caesarius prefect of the palace, styled by the Romans magister officiorum, the whole population shuddered in consternation. But the athletes of virtue, dwelling at the foot of the hill, of whom at that time there were many of the best, made many supplications and entreaties to the imperial officers. The most holy Macedonius, who was quite unversed in the things of this life, and altogether ignorant of the sacred oracles, living on the tops of the mountains, and night and day offering up pure prayers to the Saviour of all, was not in the least dismayed at the imperial violence, nor at all affected by the power of the commissioners. As they rode into the middle of the town he caught hold of one of them by the cloak and bade both of them dismount. At the sight of a little old man, clad in common rags, they were at first indignant, but some of those who were conducting them informed them of the high character of Macedonius, and then they sprang from their horses, caught hold of his knees, and asked his pardon. The old man, urged on by divine wisdom, spoke to them in the following terms: "Say, dear sirs, to the emperor; you are not only an emperor, you are also a man. Bethink you, therefore, not only of your sovereignty, but also of your nature. You are a man, and you reign over your fellow men. Now the nature of man is formed after the image and likeness of God. Do not, therefore, thus savagely and cruelly order the massacre of God's image, for by punishing His image yon will anger the Maker. Think how you are acting thus in your wrath for the sake of a brazen image. Now all who are endued with reason know how far a lifeless image is inferior to one alive and gifted with soul and sense. Take into account, too, that for one image of bronze we can easily make many more. Even you yourself cannot make one single hair of the slain."
After the good men had heard these words they reported them to the emperor, and quenched the flame of his rage. Instead of his threats he wrote a defence, and explained the cause of his anger. "It was not right," said he, "because I was in error, that indignity should be inflicted after her death on a woman so worthy of the highest praise. They that were aggrieved ought to have armed their anger against me." The emperor further added that he was grieved and distressed when he heard that some had been executed by the magistrates. In relating these events I have had a twofold object. I did not think it right to leave in oblivion the boldness of the illustrious monk, and I wished to point out the advantage of the edict which was put out by the advice of the great Ambrosius.
CHAPTER XX. Of the destruction of the temples all over the Empire.
Now the right faithful emperor diverted his energies to resisting paganism, and published edicts in which he ordered the shrines of the idols to be destroyed. Constantine the Great, most worthy of all eulogy, was indeed the first to grace his empire with true religion; and when he saw the world still given over to foolishness he issued a general prohibition against the offering of sacrifices to the idols. He had not, however, destroyed the temples, though he ordered them to be kept shut. His sons followed in their father's footsteps. Julian restored the false faith and rekindled the flame of the ancient fraud. On the accession of Jovian he once more placed an interdict on the worship of idols, and Valentinian the Great governed Europe with like laws. Valens, however, allowed every one else to worship any way they would and to honour their various objects of adoration. Against the champions of the Apostolic decrees alone he persisted in waging war. Accordingly during the whole period of his reign the altar fire was lit, libations and sacrifices were offered to idols, public feasts were celebrated in the forum, and votaries initiated in the orgies of Dionysus ran about in goat-skins, mangling hounds in Bacchic frenzy, and generally behaving in such a way as to show the iniquity of their master. When the right faithful Theodosius found all these evils he pulled them up by the roots, and consigned them to oblivion.
CHAPTER XXI. Of Marcellus, bishop of Apamea, and the idols' temples destroyed by him.
THE first of the bishops to put the edict in force and destroy the shrines in the city committed to his care was Marcellus, trusting rather in God than in the hands of a multitude. The occurrence is remarkable, and I shall proceed to narrate it. On the death of John, bishop of Apamea, whom I have already mentioned, the divine Marcellus, fervent in spirit, according to the apostolic law, was appointed in his stead.
Now there had arrived at Apamea the prefect of the East with two tribunes and their troops. Fear of the troops kept the people quiet. An attempt was made to destroy the vast and magnificent shrine of Jupiter, but the building was so firm and solid that to break up its closely compacted stones seemed beyond the power of man; for they were huge and well and truly laid, and moreover clamped fast with iron and lead.
When the divine Marcellus saw that the prefect was afraid to begin the attack, he sent him on to the rest of the towns; while he himself prayed to God to aid him in the work of destruction. Next morning there came uninvited to the bishop a man who was no builder, or mason, or artificer of any kind, but only a labourer who carried stones, and timber on his back. "Give me," said he, "two workmen's pay; and I promise you I will easily destroy the temple." The holy bishop did as he was asked, and the following was the fellow's contrivance. Round the four sides of the temple went a portico united to it, and on which its upper story rested. The columns were of great bulk, commensurate with the temple, each being sixteen cubits in circumference. The quality of the stone was exceptionally hard, and offering great resistance to the masons' tools. In each of these the man made an opening all round, propping up the superstructure with olive timber before he went on to another. After he had hollowed out three of the columns, he set fire to the timbers. But a black demon appeared and would not suffer the wood to be consumed, as it naturally would be, by the fire, and stayed the force of the flame. After the attempt had been made several times, and the plan was proved ineffectual, news of the failure was brought to the bishop, who was taking his noontide sleep. Marcellus forthwith hurried to the church, ordered water to be poured into a pail, and placed the water upon the divine altar. Then, bending his head to the ground, he besought the loving Lord in no way to give in to the usurped power of the demon, but to lay bare its weakness and exhibit His own strength, lest unbelievers should henceforth find excuse for greater wrong. With these and other like words he made the sign of the cross over the water, and ordered Equitius, one of his deacons, who was armed with faith and enthusiasm, to take the water and sprinkle it in faith, and then apply the flame. His orders were obeyed, and the demon, unable to endure the approach of the water, fled. Then the fire, affected by its foe the water as though it had been oil, caught the wood, and consumed it in an instant. When their support had vanished the columns themselves fell down, and dragged other twelve with them. The side of the temple which was connected with the columns was dragged down by the violence of their fall, and carried away with them. The crash, which was tremendous, was heard throughout the town, and all ran to see the sight. No sooner did the multitude hear of the flight of the hostile demon than they broke out into a hymn of praise to God.
Other shrines were destroyed in like manner by this holy bishop. Though I have many other most admirable doings of this holy man to relate,--for he wrote letters to the victorious martyrs, and received replies from them, and himself won the martyr's crown,--for the present I hesitate to narrate them, lest by over prolixity I weary the patience of those into whose hands my history may fall.
I will therefore now pass to another subject.
CHAPTER XXII. Of Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, and what happened at the demolition of the idols in that city.
THE illustrious Athanasius was succeeded by the admirable Petrus, Petrus by Timotheus, and Timotheus by Theophilus, a man of sound wisdom and of a lofty courage. By him Alexandria was set free from the error of idolatry; for, not content with razing the idols' temples to the ground, he exposed the tricks of the priests to the victims of their wiles. For they had constructed statues of bronze and wood hollow within, and fastened the backs of them to the temple walls, leaving in these walls certain invisible openings. Then coming up from their secret chambers they got inside the statues, and through them gave any order they liked and the hearers, tricked and cheated, obeyed. These tricks the wise Theophilus exposed to the people.
Moreover he went up into the temple of Serapis, which has been described by some as excelling in size and beauty all the temples in the world. There he saw a huge image of which the bulk struck beholders with terror, increased by a lying report which got abroad that if any one approached it, there would be a great earthquake, and that all the people would be destroyed. The bishop looked on all these tales as the mere drivelling of tipsy old women, and in utter derision of the lifeless monster's enormous size, he told a man who had an axe to give Serapis a good blow with it. No sooner had the man struck, than all the folio cried out, for they were afraid of the threatened catastrophe. Serapis however, who had received the blow, felt no pain, inasmuch as he was made of wood, and uttered never a word, since he was a lifeless block. His head was cut off, and forthwith out ran multitudes of mice, for the Egyptian god was a dwelling place for mice. Serapis was broken into small pieces of which some were committed to the flames, but his head was carried through all the town in sight of his worshippers, who mocked the weakness of him to whom they had bowed the knee.
Thus all over the world the shrines of the idols were destroyed.
CHAPTER XXIII. Of Flavianus bishop of Antioch and of the sedition which arose in the western Church on account of Paulinus.
AT Antioch the great Meletius had been succeeded by Flavianus who, together with Diodorus, had undergone great struggles for the salvation of the sheep. Paulinus had indeed desired to receive the bishopric, but he was withstood by the clergy on the ground that it was not right that Meletius at his death should be succeeded by one who did not share his opinions, and that to the care of the flock ought to be advanced he who was conspicuous for many toils, and had run the risk of many perils for the sheeps' sake. Thus a lasting hostility arose among the Romans and the Egyptians against the East, and the ill feeling was not even destroyed on the death of Paulinus. After him when Evagrius had occupied his see, hostility was still shewn to the great Flavianus, notwithstanding the fact that the promotion of Evagrius was a violation of the law of the Church, for he had been promoted by Paulinus alone in disregard of many canons. For a dying bishop is not permitted to ordain another to take his place, and all the bishops of a province are ordered to be convened; again no ordination of a bishop is permitted to take place without three bishops. Nevertheless they refused to take cognizance of any of these laws, embraced the communion of Evagrius, and filled the ears of the emperor with complaints against Flavianus, so that, being frequently importuned, he summoned him to Constantinople, and ordered him to repair to Rome.
Flavianus, however, urged in reply that it was now winter, and promised to obey the command in spring. He then returned home. But when the bishops of Rome, not only the admirable Damasus, but also Siricius his successor and Anastasius the successor of Siricitus, importuned the emperor more vehemently and represented that, while he put down the rivals against his own authority, he suffered bold rebels against the laws of Christ to maintain their usurped authority, then he sent for him again and tried to force him to undertake the journey to Rome. On this Flavianus in his great wisdom spoke very boldly, and said, "If, sir, there are some who accuse me of being unsound in the faith, or of life and conversation unworthy of the priesthood, I will accept my accusers themselves for judges, and will submit to whatever sentence they may give. But if they are contending about see and primacy I will not contest the point; I will not oppose those who wish to take them; I will give way and resign my bishopric. So, sir, give the episcopal throne of Antioch to whom you will."
The emperor admired his manliness and wisdom, and bade him go home again, and tend the church committed to his care.
After a considerable time had elapsed the emperor arrived at Rome, and once more encountered the charges advanced by the bishops on the ground that he was making no attempt to put down the tyranny of Flavianus. The emperor ordered them to set forth the nature of the tyranny, saying that he himself was Flavianus and had become his protector. The bishops rejoined that it was impossible for them to dispute with the emperor. He then exhorted them in future to join the churches in concord. put an end to the quarrel, and quench the fires of an useless controversy. Paulinus, he pointed out, had long since departed this life; Evagrius had been irregularly promoted; the eastern churches accepted Flavianus as their bishop. Not only the east but all Asia. Pontius, and Thrace were united in communion with him, and all Illyricum recognised his authority over the oriental bishops. In submission to these counsels the western bishops promised to bring their hostility to a close and to receive the envoys who should he sent them.
When Flavianus had been informed of this decision he despatched to Rome certain worthy bishops with presbyters and deacons of Antioch, giving the chief authority among them to Acacius bishop of Berma, who was famous throughout the world. On the arrival of Acacius and his party at Rome they put an end to the protracted quarrel, and after a war of seventeen years gave peace to the churches. When the Egyptians were informed of the reconciliation they too gave up their opposition, and gladly accepted the agreement which was made.
At that time Anastasius had been succeeded in the primacy of the Roman Church by Innocent, a man of prudence and ready wit. Theophilus, whom I have previously mentioned, held the see of Alexandria.
CHAPTER XXIV. Of the tyranny of Eugenius and the victory wan through faith by the emperor Theodosius.
IN this manner the peace of the churches was secured by the most religious emperor. Before the establishment of peace he had heard of the death of Valentinianus and of the usurpation of Eugenius and had marched for Europe.
At this time there lived in Egypt a man of the name of John, who had embraced the ascetic life. Being full of spiritual grace, he foretold many future events to persons who from time to time came to consult him. To him the Christ-loving emperor sent, in his anxiety to know whether he ought to make war against the tyrants. In the case of the former war he foretold a bloodless victory. In that of the second he predicted that the emperor would only win after a great slaughter. With this expectation the emperor set out, and, while drawing up his forces, shot down many of his opponents, but lost many of his barbarian allies.
When his generals represented that the forces on their side were few and recommended him to allow some pause in the campaign, so as to muster an army at the beginning of spring and out-number the enemy, Theodosius refused to listen to their advice. "For it is wrong," said he, "to charge the Cross of Salvation with such infirmity, for it is the cross which leads our troops, and attribute such power to the image of Hercules which is at the head of the forces of our foe." Thus in right faith he spoke, though the men left him were few in number and much discouraged. Then when he had found a little oratory, on the top of the hill where his camp was pitched, be spent the whole night in prayer to the God of all.
About cock-crow sleep overcame him, and as he lay upon the ground he thought he saw two men in white raiment riding upon white horses, who bade him be of good cheer, drive away his fear, and at dawn arm and marshal his men for battle. "For," said they, "we have been sent to fight for you," and one said, "I am John the evangelist," and the other, "I am Philip the apostle."
After he had seen this vision the emperor ceased not his supplication, but pursued it with still greater eagerness. The vision was also seen by a soldier in the ranks who reported it to his centurion. The centurion brought him to the tribune, and the tribune to the general. The general supposed that he was relating something new, and reported the story to the emperor. Then said Theodosius, "Not for my sake has this vision been seen by this man, for I have put my trust in them that promised me the victory. But that none may have supposed me to have invented this vision, because of my eagerness for the battle, the protector of my empire has given the information to this man too, that he may bear witness to the truth of what I say when I tell you that first to me did our Lord vouchsafe this vision. Let us then fling aside our fear. Let us follow our front rank and our generals. Let none weigh the chance of victory by the number of the men engaged, but let every man bethink him of the power of the leaders."
He spoke in similar terms to his men, and after thus inspiring all his host with high hope, led them down from the crest of the hill. The tyrant saw the army coming to attack him from a distance, and then armed his forces and drew them up for battle. He himself remained on some elevated ground, and said that the emperor was desirous of death, and was coming into battle because he wished to be released from this present life: so he ordered his generals to bring him alive and in chains. When the forces were drawn up in battle array those of the enemy appeared by far the more numerous, and the tale of the emperor's troops might be easily told. But when both sides had begun to discharge their weapons the front rank proved their promises true. A violent wind blew right in the faces of the foe, and diverted their arrows and javelins and spears, so that no missile was of any use to them, and neither trooper nor archer nor spearman was able to inflict any damage upon the emperor's army. Vast clouds of dust, too, were carried into their faces, compelling them to shut their eyes and protect them from attack. The imperial forces on the other hand did not receive the slightest injury from the storm, and vigorously attacked and slew the foe. The vanquished then recognised the divine help given to their conquerors, flung away their arms, and begged the emperor for quarter. Theodosius then yielded to their entreaty and had compassion on them, and ordered them to bring the tyrant immediately before him. Eugenius was ignorant of how the day had gone, and when he saw his men running up the hillock where he sat, all out of breath, and shewing their eagerness by their panting, he took them for messengers of victory, and asked if they had brought Theodosius in chains, as he had ordered. "No," said they, "we are not bringing him to you, but we are come to carry you off to him, for so the great Ruler has ordained." Even as they spoke they lifted him from his chariot, put chains upon him, and carried him thus lettered, and led away the vain boaster of a short hour ago, now a prisoner of war.
The emperor reminded him of the wrongs he had done Valentinianus, of his usurped authority, and of the wars which he had waged against the rightful emperor. He ridiculed also the figure of Hercules and the foolish confidence it had inspired and at last pronounced the sentence of right and lawful punishment.
Such was Theodosius in peace and in war, ever asking and never refused the help of God.
CHAPTER XXV. Of the death of the Emperor Theodosius.
AFTER this victory Theodosius fell sick and divided his empire between his sons, assigning to the elder the sovereignty which he had wielded himself and to the younger the throne of Europe.
He charged both to hold fast to the true religion, "for by its means," said he, "peace is preserved, war is stopped, foes are routed, trophies are set up and victory is proclaimed." After giving this charge to his sons he died, leaving behind him imperishable fame. His successors in the empire were also inheritors of his piety.
CHAPTER XXVI. Of Honorius the emperor and Telemachus the monk.
HONORIUS, who inherited the empire of Europe, put a stop to the gladiatorial combats which had long been held at Rome. The occasion of his doing so arose from the following circumstance. A certain man of the name of Telemachus had embraced the ascetic life. He had set out from the East and for this reason had repaired to Rome. There, when the abominable spectacle was being exhibited, he went himself into the stadium, and, stepping down into the arena, endeavoured to stop the men who were wielding their weapons against one another. The spectators of the slaughter were indignant. and inspired by the triad fury of the demon who delights in those bloody deeds, stoned the peacemaker to death.
When the admirable emperor was informed of this he numbered Telemachus in the array of victorious martyrs, and put an end to that impious spectacle.
CHAPTER XXVII. Of the piety of the emperor Arcadius and the ordination of John Chrysostom.
On the death at Constantinople of Nectarius, bishop of that see, Arcadius, who had succeeded to the Eastern empire, summoned John, the great luminary of the world. He had heard that he was numbered in the ranks of the presbyterate, and now issued orders to the assembled bishops to confer on him divine grace, and appoint him shepherd of that mighty city.
This fact is alone sufficient to show the emperor's care for divine things. At the same time the see of Antioch was held by Flavianus, and that of Laodicea by Elpidius, who had formerly been the comrade of the great Meletius, and had received the impress of his life and conversation more plainly than wax takes the impression of a seal ring.
He succeeded the great Pelagius; and the divine Marcellus was followed by the illustrions Agapetus whom I have already described as conspicuous for high ascetic virtue. In the time of the tempest of heresy, of Selencia ad Taurum, Maximus, the companion of the great John, was bishop, and of Mopsuestia Theodorus, both illustrious teachers. Conspicuous, too, in wisdom and character was the holy Acacius, bishop of Beroea.
Leontius, a shining example of many virtues, tended the flock of the Galatians.
CHAPTER XXVIII. Of John's boldness for God.
WHEN the great John had received the tiller of the Church, he boldly convicted certain wrong doers, made seasonable exhortations to the emperor and empress, and admonished the clergy to live according to the laws laid down. Transgressors against these laws he forbade to approach the churches, urging that they who shewed no desire to live the life of true priests ought not to enjoy priestly honour. He acted with this care for the church not only in Constantinople, but throughout the whole of Thrace, which is divided into six provinces, and likewise of Asia, which is governed by eleven governors. Pontica too, which has a like number of rulers with Asia, was happily brought by him under the same discipline.
CHAPTER XXIX. Of the idol temples which were destroyed by John in Phoenicia.
ON receiving information that Phoenicia was still suffering from the madness of the demons' rites, John got together certain monks who were fired with divine zeal armed them with imperial edicts and despatched them against the idols' shrines. The money which was required to pay the craftsmen and their assistants who were engaged in the work of destruction was not taken by John from imperial resources, but he persuaded certain wealthy and faithful women to make liberal contributions, pointing out to them how great would be the blessing their generosity would win.
Thus the remaining shrines of the demons were utterly destroyed.
CHAPTER XXX. Of the church of the Goths.
IT was perceived by John that the Scythians were involved in the Arian net; he therefore devised counter contrivances and discovered a means of winning them over. Appointing presbyters and deacons and readers of the divine oracles who spoke the Scythian tongue, he assigned a church to them, and by their means won many from their error. He used frequently himself to visit it and preach there, using an interpreter who was skilled in both languages, and he got other good speakers to do the same. This was his constant practice in the city, and many of those who had been deceived he rescued by pointing out to them the truth of the apostolic preaching.
CHAPTER XXXI. Of his care far the Scythians and his zeal against the Marcionists.
ON learning that some of the Nomads encamped along the Danube were thirsty for salvation, but had none to bring them the stream, John sought out men who were filled with a love of labour like that which had distinguished the apostles, and gave them charge of the work. I have myself seen a letter written by him to Leontius, bishop of Ancyra, in which he described the conversion of the Scythians, and begged that fit men for their instruction might be sent.
On hearing that in our district some men were infected with the plague of Marcion he wrote to the then bishop charging him to drive out the plague, and proffering him the aid of the imperial edicts. I have said enough to show how, to use the words of the divine apostle, he carried in his heart "the care of all the churches."
His boldness may also be learnt from other sources.
CHAPTER XXXII. Of the demand made by Gainas and of John Chrysostom's reply.
ONE Gainas, a Scythian, but still more barbarous in character, and of cruel and violent disposition, was at that time a military commander. He had under him many of his own fellow-countrymen, and with them commanded the Roman cavalry and infantry. He was an object of terror not only to all the rest but even to the emperor himself, who suspected him of aiming at usurpation.
He was a participator in the Arian pest, and requested the emperor to grant him the use of one of the churches. Arcadius replied that he would see to it and have it done. He then sent for the divine John, told him of the request that had been made, reminded him of the power of Gainas, hinted at the usurpation which was being aimed at, and besought him to bridle the anger of the barbarian by this concession. "But," said that noble man, "attempt, sir, no such promise, nor order what is holy to be given to the dogs. I will never suffer the worshippers and praisers of the Divine Word to be expelled and their church to be given to them that blaspheme Him. Have no fear, sir, of that barbarian; call us both, me and him, before you; listen in silence to what is said, and I will both curb his tongue and persuade him not to ask what it is wrong to grant."
The emperor was delighted with what Chrysostom said, and on the next day summoned both the bishop and the general before him. Gainas began to request the fulfilment of the promise, but the great John said in reply that the emperor, who professed the true religion, had no right to venture on any act against it. Gainas rejoined that he also must have a place to pray in. "Why," said the great John, "every church is open to you, and nobody prevents you from praying there when you are so disposed." "But I," said Gainas, "belong to another sect, and I ask to have one church with them, and surely I who undergo so many toils in war for Romans may fairly make such a request." "But," said the bishop, "you have greater rewards for your labours, you are a general; you are vested in the consular robe, and you must consider what you were formerly and what you are now--your indigence in the past and your present prosperity; what kind of raiment you wore before you crossed the Ister, and what you are robed in now. Consider, I say, the littleness of your labours and the greatness of your rewards, and be not unthankful to them who have shewn you honour." With these words the teacher of the world silenced Gainas, and compelled him to stand dumb. In process of time, however, he made known the rebellion which he had long had at heart, gathered his forces in Thrace, and went out ravaging and plundering in very many directions. At news of this there arose an universal panic among both princes and subjects, and no one was found willing to march against him; no one thought it safe to approach him with an ambassage, for every one suspected his barbarous character.
CHAPTER XXXIII. Of the ambassage of Chrysostom to Gainas.
THEN when every one else was passed over because of the universal panic, this great chief was persuaded to undertake the ambassage. He took no heed of the dispute which has been related, nor of the ill feeling which it had engendered, and readily set out for Thrace. No sooner did Gainas hear of the arrival of the envoy than he bethought him of the bold utterance which he had made on behalf of true religion. He came eagerly froth a great distance to meet him, placed his right hand upon his eyes, and brought his children to his saintly knees. So is it the nature of goodness to put even those who are most opposed to it to the blush and vanquish them. But envy could not endure the bright rays of his philosophy. It put in practice its wonted wiles and deprived of his eloquence and his wisdom the imperial city--aye indeed the whole world.
CHAPTER XXXIV. Of the events which happened on account of Chrysostom.
AT this part of my history I know not what sentiments to entertain; wishful as I am to relate the wrong inflicted on Chrysostom, I yet regard in other respects the high character of those who wronged him. I shall therefore do my best to conceal even their names. These persons had different reasons for their hostility, and were unwilling to contemplate his brilliant virtue. They found certain wretches who accused him, and, perceiving the openness of the calumny, held a meeting at a distance from the city and pronounced their sentence.
The emperor, who had confidence in the clergy, ordered him to be banished. So Chrysostom, without having heard the charges brought against him, or brought forward his defence, was forced as though convicted on the accusations advanced against him to quit Constantinople, and departed to Hieron at the mouth of the Euxine, for so the naval station is named.
In the night there was a great earthquake and the empress was struck with terror. Envoys were accordingly sent at daybreak to the banished bishop beseeching him to return without delay to Constantinople, and avert the peril from the town. After these another party was sent and yet again others after them and the Bosphorus was crowded with the couriers. When the faithful people learned what was going on they covered the mouth of the Propontis with their boats, and the whole population lighted up waxen torches and came forth to meet him. For the time indeed his banded foes were scattered.
But after the interval of a few months they endeavoured to enact punishment, not for the forged indictment, but for his taking part in divine service after his deposition. The bishop represented that he had not pleaded, that he had not heard the indictment, that he had made no defence, that he had been condemned in his absence, that he had been exiled by the emperor, and by the emperor again recalled. Then another Synod met, and his opponents did not ask for a trial, but persuaded the emperor that the sentence was lawful and right. Chrysostom was then not merely banished, but relegated to a petty and lonely town in menia of the name of Cucusus. Even from thence he was removed and deported to Pityus, a place at the extremity of the Euxine and on the marches of the Roman Empire, in the near neighbourhood of the wildest savages. But the loving Lord did not suffer the victorious athlete to be carried off to this islet, for when he had reached Comana he was removed to the life that knows nor age nor pain.
The body that had struggled so bravely was buried by the side of the coffin of the martyred Basiliscus, for so the martyr had ordained in a dream.
I think it needless to prolong my narrative by relating how many bishops were expelled from the church on Chrysostom's account, and sent to live in the ends of the earth, or how many ascetic philosophers were involved in the same calamities, and all the more because I think it needful to curtail these hideous details, and to throw a veil over the ill deeds of men of the same faith as our own. Punishment however did fall on most of the guilty, and their sufferings were a means of good to the rest. This great wrong was regarded with special detestation by the bishops of Europe, who separated themselves from communion with the guilty parties. In this action they were joined by all the bishops of Illyria. In the East most of the cities shrank from participation in the wrong, but did not make a rent in the body of the church.
On the death of the great teacher of the great teacher of the world, the bishops of the West refused to embrace the communion of the bishops of Egypt, of the East, of the Bosphorus, and in Thrace, until the name of that holy man had been inserted among those of deceased bishops. Arsacius his immediate successor they declined to acknowledge, but Atticus the successor of Arsacius, after he had frequently solicited the boon of peace, was after a time received when he had inserted the name in the roll.
CHAPTER XXXV. Of Alexander, bishop of Antioch.
AT this time the see of Alexandria was held by Cyril, brother's son to Theophilus whom he succeeded; at the same time Jeru- salem was occupied by John in succession to Cyril whom we have formerly mentioned. The Antiochenes were under the care of Alexander whose life and conversation were of a piece with his episcopate. Before his consecration he passed his time in ascetic training and in hard bodily exercise. He was known as a noble champion, teaching by word and confirming the word by deed. His predecessor was Porphyrius who guided that church after Flavianus, and left behind him many memorials of his loving character. He was also distinguished by intellectual power. The holy Alexander was specially rich in self discipline and philosophy; his life was one of poverty and self denial; his eloquence was copious and his other gifts were innumerable; by his advice and exhortation, the following of the great Eustathius which Paulinus, and after him Evagrius, had not permitted to be restored, was united to the rest of the body, and a festival was celebrated the like of which none had ever seen before. The bishop gathered all the faithful together, both clergy and laity, and marched with them to the assembly. The procession was accompanied by musicians; one hymn was sung by all in harmony, and thus he and his company went in procession from the western postern to the great church, filling the whole forum with people, and constituting a stream of thinking living beings like the Orontes in its course.
When this was seen by the Jews, by the victims Of the Arian plague, and by the insignificant remnant of Pagans, they set up a groaning and wailing, and were distressed at seeing the rest of the rivers discharging their waters into the Church. By Alexander the name of the great John was first inscribed in the records of the Church.
CHAPTER XXXVI. Of the removal of the remains of John and of the faith of Theodosius and his sisters.
AT a later time the actual remains of the great doctor were conveyed to the imperial city, and once again the faithful crowd turning the sea as it were into land by their close packed boats, covered the mouth of the Bosphorus towards the Propontis with their torches. The precious possession was brought into Constantinople by the present emperor, who received the name of his grandfather and preserved his piety undefiled. After first gazing upon the bier he laid his head against it, and prayed for his parents and for pardon on them who had ignorantly sinned, for his parents had long ago been dead, leaving him an orphan in extreme youth, but the God of his fathers and of his forefathers permitted him not to suffer trial from his orphanhood, but provided for his nurture in piety, protected his empire from the assaults of sedition, and bridled rebellious hearts. Ever mindful of these blessings he honours his benefactor with hymns of praise. Associated with him in this divine worship are his sisters, who have maintained virginity throughout their lives, thinking the study of the divine oracles the greatest delight, and reckoning that riches beyond robbers' reach are to be found in ministering to the poor. The emperor himself was adorned by many graces, and not least by his kindness and clemency, an unruffled calm of soul and a faith as undefiled as it is notorious. Of this I will give an undeniable proof.
A certain ascetic somewhat rough of temper came to the emperor with a petition. He came several times without attaining his object, and at last excommunicated the emperor and left him under his ban. The faithful emperor returned to his palace, and as it was the time for the banquet, and his guests were assembled, he said that he could not partake of the entertainment before the interdict was taken off. On this account he sent the most intimate of his suite to the bishop, beseeching him to order the imposer of the interdict to remove it. The bishop replied that an interdict ought not to be accepted from every one, and pronounced it not binding, but the emperor refused to accept this remission until the imposer of it had after much difficulty been discovered, and had restored the communion withdrawn. So obedient was he to divine laws.
In accordance with the same principles he ordered a complete destruction of the remains of the idolatrous shrines, that our posterity might be saved from the sight of even a trace of the ancient error, this being the motive which he expressed in the edict published on the subject. Of this good seed sown he is ever reaping the fruits, for he has the Lord of all on his side. So when Rhoilas, Prince of the Scythian Nomads, had crossed the Danube with a vast host and was ravaging and plundering Thrace, and was threatening to besiege the imperial city, and summarily seize it and deliver it to destruction, God smote him from on high with thunderbolt and storm, burning up the invader and destroying all his host. A similar providence was shewn, too, in the Persian war. The Persians received information that the Romans were occupied elsewhere, and so in violation of the treaty of Peace, marched against their neighbours, who found none to aid them under the attack, because, in reliance on the Peace, the emperor had despatched his generals and his men to other wars. Then the further march of the Persians was staved by a very violent storm of rain and hail; their horses refused to advance; in twenty days they had not succeeded in advancing as many furlongs. Meanwhile the generals returned anti mustered their troops.
In the former war, too, these same Persians, when besieging the emperor's eponymous city, were providentially rendered ridiculous. For after Vararanes had beset the aforesaid city for more than thirty days with all his forces, and had brought up many helepoles, and employed innumerable engines, and built up lofty towers outside the wall, resistance was offered, and the assault of the attacking engines repelled, by the bishop Eunomius alone. Our men had refused to fight against the foe, and were shrinking from bringing aid to the besieged, when the bishop, by opposing himself to them, preserved the city from being taken. When one of the barbarian chieftains ventured on his wonted blasphemy, and with words like those of Rabshakeh and Sennacherib, madly threatened to burn the temple of God, the holy bishop could not endure his furious wrath, but himself commanded a balista, which went by the name of the Apostle Thomas, to be set up upon the battlements, and a mighty stone to be adjusted to it. Then, in the name of the Lord who had been blasphemed, he gave the word to let go,--down crashed the stone on that impious chief and hit him on his wicked mouth, and crushed in his face, and broke his head in pieces, and sprinkled his brains upon the ground. When the commander of the army who had hoped to take the city saw what was done, he confessed himself beaten and withdrew, and in his alarm made peace.
Thus the universal sovereign protects the faithful emperor, for he clearly acknowledges whose slave he is, and performs fitting service to his Master.
CHAPTER XXXVII. Of Theodotus bishop of Antioch.
THEODOSlUS restored the relics of the great luminary of the world to the city which deeply regretted his loss. These events however happened later.
Innocent the excellent bishop of Rome was succeeded by Bonifacius, Bonifacius by Zosimus and Zosimus by Caelestinus.
At Jerusalem after the admirable John the charge of the church was committed to Praylius, a man worthy of his name.
At Antioch after the divine Alexander Theodotus, the pearl of purity, succeeded to the supremacy of the church, a man of conspicuous meekness and of exact regularity of life. By him the sect of Apollinarius was admitted to fellowship with the rest of the sheep on the earnest request of its members to be united with the flock. Many of them however continued marked by their former unsoundness.
CHAPTER XXXVIII. Of the persecutions in Persia and of them that were martyred there.
AT this time Isdigirdes, King of the Persians, began to wage war against the churches and the circumstances which caused him so to do were as follows. A certain bishop, Abdas by name, adorned with many virtues, was stirred with undue zeal and destroyed a Pyreum, Pyreum being the name given by the Persians to the temples of the fire which they regarded as their God.
On being informed of this by the Magi Isdigirdes sent for Abdas and first in moderate language complained of what had taken place and ordered him to rebuild the Pyreum.
This the bishop, in reply, positively refused to do, and thereupon the king threatened to destroy all the churches, and in the end carried out all his threats, for first be gave orders for the execution of that holy man and then commanded the destruction of the churches. Now I am of opinion that to destroy the Pyreum was wrong and inexpedient, for not even the divine Apostle, when he came to Athens and saw the city wholly given to idolatry, destroyed any one of the altars which the Athenians honoured, but convicted them of their ignorance by his arguments, and made manifest the truth. But the refusal to rebuild the fallen temple, and the determination to choose death rather than so do, I greatly praise and honour, and count to be a deed worthy of the martyr's crown; for building a shrine in honour of the fire seems to me to be equivalent to adoring it.
From this beginning arose a tempest which stirred fierce and cruel waves against the nurslings of the true faith, and when thirty years had gone by the agitation still remained kept up by the Magi, as the sea is kept in commotion by the blasts of furious winds. Magi is the name given by the Persians to the worshippers of the sun and moon but I have exposed their fabulous system in another treatise and have adduced solutions of their difficulties.
On the death of Isdigirdes, Vararanes, his son, inherited at once the kingdom and the war against the faith, and dying in his turn left them both together to his son. To relate the various kinds of tortures and cruelties inflicted on the saints is no easy task. In some cases the hands were flayed, in others the back; of others they stripped the heads of skin from brow to beard; others were enveloped in split reeds with the cut part turned inwards and were surrounded with tight bandages from head to foot; then each of the reeds was dragged out by force, and, tearing away the adjacent portions of the skin, caused severe agony; pits were dug and carefully greased in which quantities of mice were put; then they let down the martyrs, bound hand and foot, so as not to be able to protect themselves from the animals, to be food for the mice, and the the mice, under stress of hunger, little by little devoured the flesh of the victims, causing them long and terrible suffering. By others sufferings were endured even more terrible than these, invented by the enemy of humanity and the opponent of the truth, but the courage of the martyrs was unbroken, and they hastened unbidden in their eagerness to win that death which ushers men into indestructible life. Of these I will cite one or two to serve as examples of the courage of the rest. Among the noblest of the Persians was one called Hormisdas, by race an Achaemenid and the son of a Prefect. On receiving information that he was a Christian the king summoned him and ordered him to abjure God his Saviour. He replied that the royal orders were neither right nor reasonable, "for he," so he went on, "who is taught to find no difficulty in spurning and denying the God of all, will haply the more easily despise a king who is a man of mortal nature; and if, sir, he who denies thy sovereignty is deserving of the severest punishment, how much more terrible a chastisement is not due to him who denies the Creator of the world?" The king ought to have admired the wisdom of what was said, but, instead of this, he stripped the noble athlete of his wealth and rank, and ordered him to go clad in nothing save a loin cloth, and drive the camels of the army. After some days had gone by, as he looked out of his chamber, he saw the excellent man scorched by the rays of the sun, and covered with dust, and he be thought him of his father's illustrious rank, and sent for him, and told him to put on a tunic of linen. Then thinking the toil he had suffered, and the kindness shewn him, had softened his heart, "Now at least," said he "give over your opposition, and deny the carpenter's son." Full of holy zeal Hormisdas tore the tunic and flung it away saying, "If you think that this will make one give up the true faith, keep your present with your false belief." When the king saw how bold he was he drove him naked from the palace.
One Suenes, who owned a thousand slaves, resisted the King, and refused to deny his master. The King therefore asked him which of his slaves was the vilest, and to this slave handed over the ownership of all the rest, and gave him Suenes to be his slave. He also gave him in marriage Suenes' wife, supposing that thus he could bend the will of the champion of the truth. But he was disappointed, for he had built his house upon the rock.
The king also seized and imprisoned a deacon of the name of Benjamin. After two years there came an envoy from Rome, to treat of other matters, who, when he was informed of this imprisonment, petitioned the king to release the deacon. The king ordered Benjamin to promise that he would not attempt to teach the Christian religion to any of the Magi, and the envoy exhorted Benjamin to obey, but Benjamin, after he heard what the envoy had to say, replied, "It is impossible for me not to impart the light which I have received; for how great a penalty is due for the hiding of our talent is taught in the history of the holy gospels." Up to this time the King had not been informed of this refusal and ordered him to be set free. Benjamin continued as he was wont seeking to catch them that were held down by the darkness of ignorance, and bringing them to the light of knowledge. After a year information of his conduct was given to the king, and he was summoned and ordered to deny Him whom he worshipped. He then asked the king "What punishment should be assigned to one who should desert his allegiance and prefer another?" "Death and torture," said the king. "How then" continued the wise deacon "should he be treated who abandons his Maker and Creator, makes a God of one of his fellow slaves, and offers to him the honour due to his Lord?" Then the king was moved with wrath, and had twenty reeds pointed, and driven into the nails of his hands and feet. When he saw that Benjamin took this torture for child's play, he pointed another reed and drove it into his privy part and by working it up and down caused unspeakable agony. After this torture the impious and savage tyrant ordered him to be impaled upon a stout knotted staff, and so the noble sufferer gave up the ghost.
Innumerable other similar deeds of violence were committed by these impious men, but we must not be astonished that the Lord of all endures their savagery and impiety, for indeed before the reign of Constantine the Great all the Roman emperors wreaked their wrath on the friends of the truth, and Diocletian, on the day of the Saviour's passion, destroyed the churches throughout the Roman Empire, but after nine years had gone by they rose again in bloom and beauty many times larger and more splendid than before, and he and his iniquity perished.
These wars and the victory of the church had been predicted by the Lord, and the event teaches us that war brings us more blessing than peace. Peace makes us deli- cate, easy and cowardly. War whets our courage and makes us despise this present world as passing away. But these are observations which we have often made in other writings.
CHAPTER XXXIX. Of Theodorus, bishop of Mopsuestia.
WHEN the divine Theodorus was ruling the church of Antioch, Theodorus, bishop of Mopsuestia, a doctor of the whole church and successful combatant against every heretical phalanx, ended this life. He had enjoyed the teaching of the great Diodorus, and was the friend and fellow-worker of the holy John, for they both together benefited by the spiritual draughts given by Diodorus. Six-and-thirty years he had spent in his bishopric, fighting against the forces of Arius and Eunomius, struggling against the piratical band of Apollinarius, and finding the best pasture for God's sheep. His brother Polychronius was the excellent bishop of Apamea, a man gifted with great eloquence and of illustrious character.
I shall now make an end of my history, and shall entreat those who meet with it to requite my labour with their prayers. The narrative now embraces a period of 105 years, beginning from the Arian madness and ending with the death of the admirable Theodorus and Theodotus. I will give a list of the bishops of great cities after the persecution.
End of Etext THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF THEODORET by THEODORET
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