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contained in the letter of Theodosius. At a subsequent period, when the young prince threw himself upon his protection, Theodosius extricated him in the first place from the depths of impiety, and led him back to the religion of his father : he then took up arms on his behalf against the usurper, and restored the prince to his dominions; and, to revenge the death of Gratian, who had been unjustly murdered, he put the usurper to death.
CHAP. XVI.-AMPHILOCHIUS, BISHOP OF ICONIUM. WHEN Theodosius returned to the East, the admirable Amphilochius, of whom mention has been already made, requested him to prohibit the Arians from holding their assemblies in the cities. The emperor, conceiving that this requisition involved the exercise of too much harshness, refused to comply with it. The wise Amphilochius remained silent for a time, and then adopted an expedient which is worthy of being remembered. He went to the palace soon after this occurrence. Arcadius, the emperor's son, who had been recently invested with the imperial dignity, was seated near the emperor. Amphilochius saluted the father, according to custom, but omitted to salute the son. The emperor, imagining that this omission had arisen from forgetfulness, called him back, and commanded him to salute his son. Amphilochius declared to him the motive of his conduct; and said in a loud voice, “ You see, O emperor, that you cannot endure to see any want of respect manifested towards your son, but that you are filled with indignation against those who insult him. You may be sure then that the God of all holds in abhorrence the blasphemies uttered against His only-begotten Son, and that He turns away from those who thus dishonour Him.” The emperor was as much astonished at this speech as he had been by the conduct of Amphilochius, and immediately enacted a law prohibiting heretics from holding assemblies.
But it is not easy to escape all the snares of the common enemy of mankind.
It often happens that he who evades the "There were many laws passed against heretics in the 16th book of the Theodosian Codex. But Valesius does not find this particular one enumerated among them. It is probable that Theodoret has made some chronological error.
allurements of voluptuousness is enslaved by avarice; he who rises superior to avarice is overcome by envy; he who is not subject to envy is not free from anger; and there are besides thousands of other snares by which the feet of men are entangled, and in which they are captured to their own destruction. The passions which derive their origin from the body are often as the instruments by which the soul is slain. It is only when the mind is intent upon divine things, that the force of temptation can be resisted. As the emperor was a man, and was possessed of the passions of man, it ought not to excite astonishment that his justifiable indignation became on one occasion unmeasured and burst all bounds, and that by the immoderate indulgence of anger he committed a deed of atrocious cruelty. I shall relate this action for the profit of my readers. The details connected with it redound more to the praise than to the dishonour of this admirable emperor.
CHAP. XVII.-MASSACRE AT THESSALONICA. THESSALONICA is a large and populous city: it is situated in the province of Macedonia, and is the metropolis of Thessaly, Achaia, and of several other provinces which are under the administration of the governor of Illyria. A sedition arose in this city, and some of the magistrates were stoned and dragged through the streets. When the emperor was
. informed of this occurrence, his anger rose to the highest pitch: and, instead of curbing it by the suggestions of reason, he gratified his vindictive desire of vengeance by unsheathing the sword most unjustly and tyrannically against all ; slaying alike the innocent and the guilty. It is said that seven thousand persons were put to death without any of the forms of law, and without even having judicial sentence passed upon them; but that, like the ears of corn in the time of harvest, they were all alike cut down.
CHAP. XVIII.-FIDELITY OF THE BISHOP AMBROSE.-PIETY OF
THE EMPEROR. AMBROSE, of whom we have so often spoken, when apprized of this deplorable catastrophe, went out to meet the emperor, who, on his return to Milan, desired to enter as usual the holy It is,
church ; but Ambrose prohibited his entrance, saying, “ You
; do not reflect it seems, O emperor, on the guilt you have incurred by the great massacre which has taken place ; but now that your fury is appeased, do you not perceive the enormity of the crime? It may be that the greatness of your empire prevents your discerning the sins which you have committed, and thạt absolute power obscures the light of reason. however, necessary to reflect on our nature which is subject to death and to decay; for we are made of dust, and unto dust we must return. You must not be dazzled by the splendour of the purple in which you are clothed, and be led to forget the weakness of the body which it enrobes. Your subjects, O emperor, are of the same nature as yourself, and not only so, but they are likewise your fellow-servants. For there is one Lord and Ruler of all, and He is the Maker of all creatures, whether princes or people. How would
the temple of the one Lord of all ? How would you walk upon such holy ground ? How could you lift upin prayer hands steeped in the blood of unjust massacre ? How could you
with such hands presume to receive the most sacred body of our Lord ? How could you carry his precious blood to a mouth, whence the word of fury issued, commanding the wanton effusion of innocent blood ? Depart, then, and do not by a second crime augment the guilt of the first. Submit to the wholesome bonds which God the Lord of all has ordained ; for such bonds possess healing virtue and power to restore you to health.”
The emperor, who had been brought up in the knowledge of the sacred Scriptures, and who well knew the distinction between the ecclesiastical and the temporal power, submitted to this rebuķe ; and with many groans and tears returned to his palace. More than eight months after, the festival of our Saviour's birth occurred. The emperor shut himself
in his palace, mourned bitterly, and shed floods of tears. This was observed by Rufin, the controller of the palace, and he took the liberty of inquiring the cause of his tears. sighing yet more piteously, and weeping still more bitterly, replied, “You, O Rufin, may be at ease, and may be able to divert yourself, for
do not feel the evils under which I groan. Í weep and sigh when I reflect on the calamity in which I am involved ; the church of God is open to servants and to mendicants, and they can freely enter and pray to the Lord.
But to me the church is closed, and so are the doors of heaven. The following words of our Lord dwell upon my memory: •Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven." “If you will permit me,” said Rufin, “ I will run to the bishop and beseech him to unloose your. bonds." 6 You will not be able to persuade him,” said the emperor. “I see the justice of the sentence which he has pronounced against me, and I know that respect for imperial power will never lead him to transgress the divine law.” 1
Rufin, however, persisted in declaring that he could obtain some promise from Ambrose. The emperor, therefore, commanded him to go immediately, while he himself, animated by the hope that Rufin would obtain some concession, followed very shortly after.
As soon as St. Ambrose saw Rufin, he thus addressed him : “ You imitate, O Rufin, the impudence of dogs. You were the adviser of this cruel massacre, and now you have divested yourself of every feeling of shame, and neither blush nor tremble at having given vent to your fury against the image of God.” Rufin addressed him in a supplicatory tone, and told him that the emperor was coming to him. Ambrose, inspired by Divine zeal, replied, “I declare to you, O Rufin, that I forbid him from entering the gates of the holy church. If he change his empire into tyranny, I will gladly receive death.”
On hearing this determination, Rufin sent to the emperor to inform him of what the bishop had said, and to advise him to remain within the palace. But the emperor, having received this message when he had reached the middle of the market-place, exclaimed, “I will go and receive the rebukes which I so justly deserve.” When he arrived at the entrance of the church, he did not go into the sacred edifice, but went to the bishop who was sitting in his stranger's house, and besought him to unloose his bonds. Ambrose accused him of having acted in a tyrannical manner, of having risen in oppo
He alludes to the law of the church which forbade the bishops to reconcile penitents to the church except at the time of the Easter festival, or else to that canon which forbade a homicide to be received into commu
a nion, except at the point of death.
? oikoç ảonaotikós. The stranger's hall or guest-chamber, which most bishops kept for the purpose of dispensing hospitality.
sition against God, and of having trampled upon his laws. Theodosius replied, “I do not oppose the laws which have been laid down, neither do I intend to enter within the sacred doors contrary to your injunctions; but I beseech you, in consideration of the mercy of our common Lord, to unloose me from these bonds, and not to shut against me the door which is opened by the Lord to all who truly repent.” “What repentance," asked the bishop, “ have you then manifested for so great a crime? What remedy have you applied to so severe a wound ?” The emperor replied, “ It is your office to point out the remedy, and mine to receive and to comply with it.” “ As you acted by the impulse of passion,” said the holy Ambrose, " and enacted the sentence according to the dictates of resentment rather than of reason, let a law be drawn up to cancel henceforth all decrees passed in haste and fury; and to decree that when sentence of death or of proscription has been signed against any one, thirty days are to elapse before the sentence is carried into execution, and that on the expiration of this period the case is to be brought before you; for
your resenment will then be calmed, and will leave your reason and judgment at liberty to examine the facts, and to decide whether the sentence be just or unjust. If it be proved to be unjust it ought to be revoked, but if just it ought to be confirmed. The delay of this number of days will not injure the cause of justice.”
listened to this advice; and, deeming it to be excellent, he immediately ordered the law to be committed to writing,' and he signed the document with his own hand. St. Ambrose then unloosed his bonds. The emperor, who was full of faith, took courage to enter the holy church; he prayed neither in a standing nor a kneeling posture, but throwing himself on the ground, he said, with David, “My soul cleaveth unto the dust, quicken thou me according to thy word ” (Psal. cxix. 25). He tore his hair, struck his forehead, and shed torrents of tears as he implored forgiveness of God. When the time came to present offerings on the communion table, he went up weeping no less than before, to present his gift; and, as usual, remained afterwards within the enclosed space.
The great Ambrose, however, did not suffer this in silence, but ac
· The same story is given by Rufinus, Eccl. Hist. b. xviii. The law is extant in the Theodosian and Justinian Codes.