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

AGAINST the above-mentioned heresy of the Phrygians, that power which is the defender of the truth, raised up a powerful weapon and antagonist in Apollinaris of Hierapolis, whom we mentioned before, and in many other eloquent men with him; of whom, also, most abundant matter has been left us for our history. One of them, in the very beginning of his work against them, first intimates that he would meet and refute them by open argument. For thus he commences his work: “As for a long and very considerable time, O beloved Avircius Marcellus, I have been urged by thee to write a discourse against the heresy which is called after Miltiades, I have been somewhat in doubt until now, not indeed for want of argument to refute the false doctrine, or to bear witness to the truth, but because fearful and apprehensive, lest I should appear to give any new injunctions, or to add any thing to the doctrine of the New Testament, which it is impossible that any resolved to live according to the gospel, should add to or diminish. Lately, however, having been at Ancyra, a city of Galatia, and having understood that the church in Pontus was very much agitated by this new prophecy, as they call it, but which, as shall be shown, with divine assistance, deserves rather the name of false prophecy, I discoursed many days in the church, both respecting these matters and others that were proposed; so that the church, indeed, rejoiced and was strengthened in the truth; but the adversaries were put to flight, and the opponents were cast down. But as the presbyters of the place requested that we should leave some account of those things that we said, in opposition to the enemies of the truth, Zoticus Otrenus also being present, who was our fellow-presbyter; this, indeed, I did not perform, but I promised writing thither, and to send it as soon as possible, if the Lord permitted.” This, and other matters, he states in the beginning of his work, premising the cause of the mentioned heresy, as follows: “Their combination, therefore, and recent heretical severance from the church, had for its origin the following cause:—There is said to be a certain village of Mysia in Phrygia, called Ardaba. There, they say, during the proconsulship of Cratus in Asia, one of those who was but a recent convert, Montanus by name, in the excessive desire of his soul to take the lead, gave the adversary occasion against himself, so that he was carried away in spirit, and wrought up into a certain kind of frenzy and irregular ecstasy, raving, and speaking, and uttering strange things, and proclaiming what was contrary to the institutions that had prevailed in the church, as handed down and preserved in succession from the earliest times. But of those that happened then to be present, and to hear these spurious oracles, some being indignant, rebuked him as one under the influence of demons and the spirit of delusion, and only exciting disturbances among the multitude. These bore in mind the distinction and the warning given by our Lord, when he cautioned them to be vigilantly on their guard against false prophets. Others again, elated as if by the Holy Spirit, and the prophetic gift, and not a little puffed up; and forgetting the caution given by our Lord; challenged this insidious, flattering, and seducing spirit, and were themselves captivated and seduced by his influence, so that they were no longer able to silence him. Thus, by an artifice, or rather by a certain crafty process, the devil having devised destruction against those that disobeyed the truth, and thus excessively honoured by them, secretly stimulated and fired their understandings, already wrapt in insensibility, and wandering away from the truth. He also excited two others, females, and filled them with the spirit of delusion, so that they spake like the former, in a kind of frenzy, out of all propriety, and in a manner strange and novel. They rejoiced and gloried in the spirit who thus pronounced them happy and puffed them up by the greatness of his promises. Sometimes also he pointedly and deservedly condemned them, so that he might seem a chastising spirit. Those few that were deceived were Phrygians; and the same arrogant spirit taught them to revile the whole church under heaven, because it gave neither access nor honour to this false spirit of prophecy. The faithful, therefore, held frequent conferences in many places throughout Asia on this account, and having examined these novel doctrines, pronounced them vain, rejected them as heresy, and expelled and prohibited from communion with the church those who held them.” After relating these facts in the beginning of his work, and introducing the refutation of it throughout, he adds the following remarks in the second book, respecting the end of those just described. “Therefore,” says he, “since they call us slayers of the prophets, because we did not promptly receive these talkative teachers, pretending that they were those whom the Lord promised to send to his people, let them tell us in the name of God, O friends, which of these who began prating from Montanus and his women, is there that suffered persecution, or was slain by the impious? None. Not even one of them has been seized and crucified for the name (of Christ). None at all. Not one of their women was ever scourged in the synagogues of the Jews, or stoned. No, never.

“Montanus and Maximilla, indeed, are said to have died another death than this, for at the instigation of that mischievous spirit, the report is, that both of them hung themselves, not, indeed, at the same time, but at the particular time of each one’s death, as the general report is; and thus they died and terminated their life like the traitor Judas. Thus, also, the general opinion is, that Theodotus, one of the first that was carried away by their prophecy, as it was called, and who became a kind of patron of the delusion, as if he should at some time be taken up and received into the heavens, and who falling into trances, gave himself up to the spirit of deception, was finally tossed by him like a quoit in the air, and thus miserably perished. They say this happened as we have stated. But, my friend, we do not presume to know anything certain of these matters, unless we had seen them. For perhaps both Montanus and Theodotus, and the above-mentioned woman, may have died in this way, or they may not.” He mentions also in the same book, that the holy bishops of that time attempted to refute the spirit in Maximilla, but were prevented by others who manifestly co-operated with the spirit. His statement is as follows: “And let not, as is said in the same work of Asterius Urbanus, let not the spirit of Maximilla say, ‘I am chased like a wolf from the flock; I am no wolf. I am utterance, spirit, and power.’ But let him show the power in the spirit effectually, and prove it. And let him by the spirit face those that were present at the time, to examine and argue with the babbling spirit, men who were eminent, and bishops of the church, Zoticus of Comana, Julian of Apamea, whose tongues the followers of Themison bridled, and prevented them from refuting the false and seducing spirit.”

In the same work, after stating other matters in refutation of the false predictions of Maximilla, he likewise indicates the time that he wrote this, and mentions also, her declarations in which she foretold that there would be wars and political convulsions. The falsity of which is evinced by him as follows: “And has not,” says he, “the falsehood of this been made obvious? For it is now more than thirteen years since the woman died, and neither has there been a partial nor a general war, but rather, by the mercy of God, continued peace to the Christians.” This he writes in the second book. I shall also subjoin some extracts from the third book, in which he speaks as follows, against those who boasted that there were many of their number that had suffered martyrdom: “But,” says he, “since they are at a loss what to reply to the refutation of their errors, they fly for refuge to their martyrs, saying they have many martyrs, and that this is one sure evidence of the power of that spirit which they call prophetical. But this, as it appears, is not the more true on that account. For some of the other heresies also have a vast number of martyrs, but neither do we the more on that account agree with them, nor acknowledge that they have truth on their side. Indeed, they who are called Marcionites, say that they had vast numbers that were martyrs for Christ. But they do not confess Christ in truth.” And a little after he adds: “Hence, whenever those that are called martyrs by the church, on account of enduring martyrdom for the true faith, happen to fall in with those called martyrs of the Phrygian heresy, they always separate from them and undergo death, having no communion with them, because they do not assent to the spirit of Montanus and the women; and that all this is true, and happened in our own times at Apamea on the Menander, is manifest from those who suffered martyrdom with Caius and Alexander of Eumenia.”








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