Page images

on him, and that he suffered so great a city to be abandoned to the blasphemies of Eunomius. Constantius then menaced Eudoxius with banishment unless he would bring him forward to judgment, and inflict upon him the penalties of the law, should he be convicted of the crimes laid to his charge. Eudoxius, terrified by these menaces, wrote to Eunomius, desiring him to flee from Cyzicum, and to impute all the blame to himself for not having followed the advice which had been given him. Eunomius was fearful for his own safety, and therefore retreated. He accused Eudoxius of treachery and injustice towards him and towards Aëtius. From that time he began to form a sect of his own. All those who had previously held the same sentiments as himself went over to him, and inveighed against the treachery of Eudoxius. They were called Eunomians after their leader, which name they have retained to this day. Eunomius being thus placed at the head of a faction, gave still greater weight by his impiety to the blasphemy of Arius. The facts themselves clearly prove that in making himself the head of a party he was solely impelled by ambition and the love of glory. Thus, when Aëtius was condemned and banished, he would not accompany him into exile, although he had previously declared him to be a man of God; but he continued on terms of friendship with Eudoxius. When his impiety had been visited by a just sentence of deposition, he would not submit to the decision of the council, but continued to ordain bishops and presbyters, although he had himself been divested of the episcopal office. These are the events which occurred at Constantinople.


JAMES, BISHOP OF THE CITY. SAPOR, king of Persia, having declared war against the Romans, Constantius raised troops and marched to Antioch. He defeated the enemy, yet not by the Roman army, but by the God of the pious individuals who dwelt in the Roman empire. I shall here relate the manner in which he gained the victory. Nisibis, by some called Antioch of Mygdonia, lies between the frontiers of the Persian and Roman empires. James, whom I have already mentioned, was the bishop, the guardian, and the leader of this city : all the gifts of the apostles were united in him. I have already narrated his extraordinary and celebrated miracles in a work entitled “Philotheus,” I therefore think it unnecessary again to record them here. I shall, however, mention one which has immediate connexion with our present narrative. As this city was under the government of the Romans, the Persian army blockaded it. During seventy days they surrounded it, they planted battering-rams against the walls, constructed many other warlike machines, and made ramparts and trenches around the city ; yet they could not force it to surrender. At length, they determined to stop the course of the river Mygdonius, which flows through the city; they formed ramparts on each side of the stream to prevent its overflowing, and so much of the water was thus collected that it began to flow over the embankment; then they hurled it like a battering-ram against the walls, which not being able to withstand the shock, were thrown down. The river also caused a similar catastrophe when it rushed out on the opposite side of the city, for the walls in that part were likewise unable to resist the impetuosity of the stream, and were consequently overthrown. On perceiving the walls thus battered down, Sapor expected to take possession of the city without any trouble. He remained at rest during that day with the intention of waiting till the ground had become dry and the river navigable, before he took any further steps. At length he called together all his troops, in the confident expectation of effecting an entrance into the city through the breaches which had been made in the walls; he then perceived that the walls had been rebuilt, and that all his labour had been in vain. For the holy bishop, after having by means of prayer raised the courage of the soldiers and of the other inhabitants, rebuilt the wall, and placed the warlike machines within the city in order to assault the enemy. In effecting this he did not even approach the walls, but remained within the church, praying to God. Sapor was not only terrified by the speedy re-erection of the walls, but also by a vision. He saw on the wall a man decorated with the imperial ornaments, and was surprised at the splendid radiance of his purple robes and of his diadem. He at first conjectured him to be the Roman emperor ; and he threatened to punish with death those who had reported him to be at a distance. But on their protesting

[ocr errors]


that what they had said was true, and on their proving that Constantius was at Antioch, Sapor perceived the signification of the vision, and exclaimed, “God is fighting for the Romans !" Filled with indignation, he shot up an arrow toward heaven, although he well knew the impossibility of wounding Him who is incorporeal. Then Ephraim, who was a most excellent man and the best of the Syrian writers, besought the holy James to mount upon the walls,' and looking upon the barbarians to pronounce imprecations against them. James acceded to this request, and accordingly ascended one of the towers. Thence he perceived the multitudes of men, but he uttered no imprecations against them. He prayed that flies and gnats might be sent against them, that so they might learn from these small insects the great power of Him who protected the Romans. His prayer was scarcely concluded, when swarms of flies and of gnats appeared like clouds. The trunks of the elephants, which are hollow like tubes, were filled with them, as also the ears and the nostrils of the horses and of the other beasts of burden. These animals, not being able with all their strength to get rid of the insects, became furious, threw their riders, broke the ranks, left the army,

and fled away with the utmost speed. The wretched king, learning by means of this slight and gentle punishment the power of that God who protects the pious, returned with shame at having met with defeat where he had confidently expected victory.



At this period the emperor Constantius resided at Antioch. After he had, by concluding a truce, terminated the war against the Persians, he again assembled all the bishops, and tried to compel them to expunge the term consubstantial,(to ouoouolov,) and to insert the expression of a different substance,(étepooúolov). The church of Antioch was then desstitute of a pastor: for Eudoxius, who had seized the bishopric

| Valesius gives his reasons for believing that Theodoret is mistaken here, and that he confounds together two distinct sieges of Nisibis. But the fact is that the city was besieged three times, namely, in A. D. 337, 350, and 359, and it was on the second of these three occasions that James, the bishop, saved the city by his prayers.

[ocr errors]

on the death of Leontius, had been expelled, and had, in disobedience to the decrees of many councils, taken possession of that of Constantinople. The bishops who were assembled from all regions, therefore said that it was first necessary to elect a pastor over the flock, and that they would then, in concert with him, deliberate on the doctrines of religion. At this period Melitius, whose character was most highly exemplary, had resigned the bishopric of a little city in Armenia, not being able to bear the contumacy of the people, and was living elsewhere in quiet and retirement. The members of the Arian faction, believing that Melitius was of one mind with themselves, and that he upheld the same doctrines, petitioned Constantius to commit the reins of the church of Antioch into his hands; for they fearlessly violated every enactment in their attempts to strengthen their own impious cause. The very foundation of their blasphemy was laid upon the transgression of the laws; and they have everywhere introduced numerous innovations. Those who supported the apostolical doctrines, being aware of the sound principles of the great Melitius, as well as of his exemplary course of life and of his great virtues, warmly seconded the petition ; and zealously took measures to insure the decree of his election being written and signed. When the decree had been duly completed, it was intrusted to the care of Eusebius, bishop of Samosata, who was a noble defender and champion of the truth. Upon receiving the imperial command, the great Melitius returned, and was met by all the bishops, by the clergy, by the citizens, and even by the Jews and the Greeks, who were desirous of seeing so celebrated a man. commanded him, and those other bishops who possessed rhetorical abilities, to explain to the multitude the following words, “ The Lord made me in the beginning of his ways, for his works” (Prov. viii. 22): and he commanded that each exposition should be committed to writing in order to secure accuracy. George, bishop of Laodicea, was the first who drew up an exposition, and in it he displayed the baneful nature of his heresy. Acacius, bishop of Cæsarea, in his explanation, which was next completed, steered a middle course between the impiety of the Arians and the purity of the apostolical doctrines, differing greatly from the one, and yet not preserving the characteristic features of the other. Thirdly, the great

The emperor


Melitius stood up and explained the principles enforced by the ecclesiastical canons. He weighed all his words in the balance of truth, and carefully avoided saying either too much or too little. His discourse was heard with general approbation, and being entreated to give a brief synopsis of his doctrines, he extended three of his fingers, and then closed two, leaving one only extended, and uttered the following remarkable words : “ Three persons are conceived in the mind, but we speak as if addressing one.” Those who had imbibed the errors of Arius began to revile him, and to accuse him falsely of following the doctrines of Sabellius. They induced the emperor, who was more changeable than Æolus, to banish him to his native country. His bishopric was given to Euzoius, who openly advocated the Arian doctrines, and who had been deposed at the same time as Arius, and had been excluded from the office of deacon by the great Alexander. On account of this election, the more orthodox part of the community separated from those who had embraced heresy, and assembled in the apostolical church which was situated in the old city, During thirty years, which had elapsed since the machinations against the celebrated Eustathius,? they had borne with the wickedness of the Arians, expecting that affairs would take a better turn. But when they saw that the cause of heresy was becoming stronger, and that all who maintained the apostolical doctrines were either openly opposed or secretly persecuted, and when they perceived that the holy Melitius had been deposed, and Euzoius, the patron of heresy, appointed to supplant him, they recalled to mind the words addressed to Lot, your

soul.” The following precept of the gospel likewise occurred to them, “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee.” (Matt. v. 29.) The signification of these words was meant by the Lord to extend to the hand and to the foot ; for it is added, “ It is better for thee that one of thy members should perish, than that thy whole body should be cast into hell."

It was in this way that the church of Antioch was divided into opposite parties.

1 év tỳ IIałalą. In this part of the city was the church called after the name of the apostles, and in which St. Peter had his chair. See below, book iii. 4.

? He had been deposed A. D. 330.


66 Save



« PreviousContinue »