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.(1) 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."(2)
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.(3) 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.(4)
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.(5) 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,(6) 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,(7) 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(8) 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 theae 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 "Homooµsion" 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(9) is one.
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.(10) For Julian, as was to be expected of one who had gone to war with our Lord and Saviour, had stopped even this maintenance, 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.(11) 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.
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(12) 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,(13) 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,(14) 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."
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(15) 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(16) 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.
Letters of the Emperors Valentinianus and Valens, written to the diocese(17) of Asia about the Homooµsion, 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(18) 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 hisbrother 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,(19) to the bishops of Asia, Phrygia, Carophrygia Pacatiana,(20) greeting in the Lord.
A great council having met in Illyricum,(21) 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.(22) 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."(23)
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.(24) 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,(25) asked water for his hands and washed his hands, saying I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man.(26)
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,(27) as in the case of the blood of Zacharias,(28) but he and his were destroyed by our Heavenly King Jesus Christ after (at) 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 feigned 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.(29) 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(30) 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.
"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?'(31)
"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;(32) and, if not, from the order of presbyters: in like manner of the appointment of presbyters and deacons out of the actual priestly(33) 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."
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."(34) 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(35) 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?"(36) 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."(37) But this is not a tithe to refute their unreasonable error. I therefore pass on to the remainder of my narrative.(38)
At this time also arose the heresy of the Messaliani. Those who translate their name into Greek call them Euchitae.(39)
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.(40)
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."(41)
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,(42) 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(43) 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,(44) 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.
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 buffet 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.(45) 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(46) 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(47) to the bottom.
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.(48) 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.
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.(49)
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 and 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.(50) 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, and 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.(51) 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(52) 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 had 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.
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,(53) 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(54) 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 near 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.
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 had 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 for."
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.(55)
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(56) 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;(57) and to the excellent Protogenes was assigned the husbandry of Charrae,(58) a barren spot full of the thorns of heathendom and needing abundant labour. But these events happened after peace was restored to the churches.
Valens, one might almost say, deprived every church of its shepherd, and set out for the Cappadocian Caesarea,(59) 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(60) lay sick at the very gates of death and his wife(61) 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,(62) 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,(63) 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 hand He had proclaimed abroad the courage of good men. Thus Valens was disappointed in his attack.
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.(64)
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,(65) 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 impiety 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(66) 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 rowers 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,(67) 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.
Palladius governor of the province, by sect a heathen,(68) 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(69) 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."(70) 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,(71) 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,(72) 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,(73) 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.(74) In this state of things when even I had withdrawn from the church(75) -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.(76) No synod of orthodox bishops had chosen him;(77) 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,(78) 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,(79) 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."(80) 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 handed 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 do 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 their 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,(81) 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,(82) 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 he had delivered his sentence against them in the neighbourhood of the public baths. He showed them his sword unsheathed, thinking that he could 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."(83)
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,"(84) 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 and 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,(85) 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(86) and Proconnesus.(87)
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.(88) 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.(89) 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."(90)
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.(91)
In all, after many fruitless efforts, they drove into exile to Dio-Caesarea,(92) 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,(93) 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(94) 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.
At this time(97) 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 fightest 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.(98)
These then were the deeds done by Lucius in Alexandria under the dispensation of the providence of God.
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.
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,(99) but they continued to hymn their maker and benefactor in all places of his dominion.(100) 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 and 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,(101) and, like some trainer for the games, anointed the great Diodorus(102) as though he had been an athlete for five contests.(103)
At that time he did not 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,(104) 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.
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,(105) 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, and 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.
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,(106) an athlete of virtue who afterwards very wisely ruled the church at Beroea, to the famous Julianus(107) 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(108) 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.
There were also other then at this period who emitted the bright rays of the philosophy of solitary life. In the Chalcidian(109) desert Avitus, Marcianus(110) and Abraames,(111) 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,(112) Agapetus,(113) Simeon,(114) Paulus and others reaped the fruits of the highest wisdom.
In the district of the Zeugmatenses(115) were Publius(116) and Paulus. In the Cyrestian(117) 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,(118) Eusebius,(119) Ammianus,(120) Palladius,(121) Simeon,(122) Abraames,(123) 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,(124) Zeno,(125) Moses, and Malchus,(126) and many others of whom the world is ignorant, but who are known to God.
At that period at Edessa flourished the admirable Ephraim, and at Alexandria Didymus,(127) 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(128) he was able to expose the niceties of heathen error, and lay bare the weakness of all heretical artifices. Harmonius(129) the son of Bardesanes(130) 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 sound but the sense. So among livers of ascetic lives and students of virtue, these men at that time were conspicuous.
Among the bishops were the two Gregorii, the one of Nazianzus(131) and the other of Nyssa,(132) 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 the West Damasus,(135) Bishop of Rome, and Ambrosius, entrusted with the government 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.
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.(136)
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."
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,(137) 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.(138)
Chapter XXXI.-Of Isaac(139) 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.(140) 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."(141)
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.(142)
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 communion with Eudoxius and Valens denied that there was any difference in doctrine and that the difference had arisen from mere empty strife.(143)