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

AND first we must speak of Dionysius, who was appointed over the church at Corinth, and imparted freely, not only to his own people, but to others abroad also, the blessings of his divine labours. But he was most useful to all in the catholic epistles that he addressed to the churches; one of which is addressed to the Lacedæmonians, and contains instructions in the true religion, and inculcates peace and unity. One also to the Athenians, exciting them to the faith, and the life prescribed by the gospel, from which he shows that they had swerved, so that they had nearly fallen from the truth, since the martyrdom of Publius, then bishop, which happened in the persecutions of those times. He also makes mention of Quadratus, who was bishop after the martyrdom of Publius, bearing witness also that the church was again collected, and the faith of the people revived by his exertions. He states, moreover, that Dionysius the Areopagite, who was converted to the faith by Paul the apostle, according to the statement in the Acts of the Apostles, first obtained the episcopate of the church at Athens. There is also another epistle of his extant, addressed to the Nicomedians, in which he refutes the heresy of Marcion, and adheres closely to the rule of faith. In an epistle to the church of Gortyna, and to the other churches in Crete, he commends their bishop Philip, for the numerous instances of fortitude that the church evinced under him, according to the testimony of all, whilst he cautions them against the perversions of the heretics. He also wrote to the church at Amastris, together with those at Pontus, in which he makes mention of Bacchylides and Elpistus, as those who urged him to write. He also adds some expositions of the sacred writings, where he intimates that Palmas was then bishop. He also recommends many things in regard to marriage, and the purity to be observed by those who enter this state, and enjoins upon the church to receive kindly all that return again from their backslidings, whether heresy or delinquency. Among them is also inserted an epistle to the Gnossians, in which he admonishes Pinytus, the bishop of the church, not to impose upon the brethren without necessity, a burden in regard to purity too great to be borne, but to pay regard to the infirmity of the great mass. To which Pinytus, writing in reply, admires and applauds Dionysius, but exhorts him at the same time to impart some time or other stronger food, and to feed the people under him with writings abounding in more perfect doctrine when he wrote again, so that they might not remain constantly nurtured with milk, and imperceptibly grow old, under a discipline calculated only for children. In which epistle, also, the correct views which Pinytus cherished, his solicitude respecting the welfare of those that were committed to his care, and his learning and intelligence in divine matters, are exhibited as in a most perfect image. There is yet another epistle, to the Romans, ascribed to Dionysius, and addressed to Soter the bishop of that city, from which we may also subjoin some extracts, from that part where he commends a practice of the Romans retained even to the persecution in our day. He writes as follows: “For this practice has prevailed with you from the very beginning, to do good to all the brethren in every way, and to send contributions to many churches in every city. Thus refreshing the needy in their want, and furnishing to the brethren condemned to the mines, what was necessary; by these contributions which ye have been accustomed to send from the beginning, you preserve, as Romans, the practices of your ancestors. Which was not only observed by your bishop Soter, but also increased, as he not only furnished great supplies to the saints, but also encouraged the brethren that came from abroad, as a loving father his children, with consolatory words.” In this same letter he mentions that of Clement to the Corinthians, showing that it was the practice to read in the churches, even from the earliest times. “To-day,” says he, “we have passed the Lord’s holy-day, in which we have read your epistle; in reading which we shall always have our minds stored with admonition, as we shall, also, from that written to us before by Clement.” Besides this, the same author writes respecting his own epistles as having been corrupted: “As the brethren,” says he, “desired me to write epistles, I wrote them, and these the apostles of the devil have filled with tares, exchanging some things, and adding others, for whom there is a woe reserved. It is not, therefore, matter of wonder, if some have also attempted to adulterate the sacred writings of the Lord, since they have attempted the same in other works that are not to be compared with these.” There is also another epistle attributed to this Dionysius, addressed to his most faithful sister Chrysophora, in which he writes what was suitable to her, and imparts also to her the proper spiritual food. And thus much respecting Dionysius.








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