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An Ecclesiastical History To The 20th Year Of The Reign Of Constantine by Eusebius

AS it is my purpose to record the successions of the holy apostles, together with the times since our Saviour, down to the present, to recount how many and important transactions are said to have occurred in Ecclesiastical History, what individuals in the most noted places eminently governed and presided over the church, what men also in their respective generations, whether with or without their writings, proclaimed the divine Word; to describe the character, times and number of those who, stimulated by the desire of innovation, and advancing to the greatest errors, announced themselves leaders in the propagation of false opinions, like grievous wolves, unmercifully assaulting the flock of Christ; as it is my intention, also, to describe the calamities that swiftly overwhelmed the whole Jewish nation, in consequence of their plots against our Saviour; how often, by what means, and in what times, the word of God has encountered the hostility of the nations; what eminent persons persevered in contending for it through those periods of blood and torture, beside the martyrdoms which have been endured in our own times: and, after all, to show the gracious and benign interposition of our Saviour; these being proposed as the subjects of the present work, I shall go back to the very origin and the earliest introduction of the dispensation of our Lord and Saviour the Christ of God.

But here, acknowledging that it is beyond my power to present the work perfect and unexceptionable, I freely confess it will crave indulgence, especially since, as the first of those that have entered upon the subject, we are attempting a kind of trackless and unbeaten path. Looking up with prayer to God as our guide, we trust, indeed, that we shall have the power of Christ as our aid, though we are totally unable to find even the bare vestiges of those who may have travelled the way before us: unless, perhaps, what is only presented in the slight intimations, which some in different ways have transmitted to us in certain partial narratives of the times in which they lived; who, raising their voices before us, like torches at a distance, and as looking down from some commanding height, call out and exhort us where we should walk, and whither direct our course with certainty and safety. Whatsoever, therefore, we deem likely to be advantageous to the proposed subject, we shall endeavour to reduce to a compact body by historical narration. For this purpose we have collected the materials that have been scattered by our predecessors, and culled, as from some intellectual meadows, the appropriate extracts from ancient authors. In the execution of this work we shall be happy to rescue from oblivion, the successions, if not of all, at least of the most noted apostles of our Lord, in those churches which even at this day are accounted the most eminent; a labour which has appeared to me necessary in the highest degree, as I have not yet been able to find that any of the ecclesiastical writers have directed their efforts to present any thing complete in this department of writing. But as, on the one hand, I deem it highly necessary, so also I believe it will appear no less useful, to those who are zealous admirers of historical research. Of these matters, indeed, I have already heretofore furnished an epitome in my chronological tables; but in the present work I have undertaken a more full narrative. As I said above, I shall begin my treatise with that dispensation, and that doctrine of the divinity which in sublimity and excellency surpasses all human invention, viz. that of our Saviour Christ. And, indeed, whoever would give a detail of Ecclesiastical History to posterity, is necessarily obliged to go back to the very origin of the dispensation of Christ, as it is from him, indeed, that we derive our very epithet, a dispensation more divine than many are disposed to think.








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