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

IN a work written by a certain one of these authors against the heresy of Artemon, which Paul of Samosata again attempted to revive among us, there is a narrative well adapted to the history we are now investigating. This writer, not long since, in refuting the heresy mentioned, which asserts that Christ is a mere man, since its leaders wish to boast as if it were the ancient doctrine, besides many other arguments that he adduces in refutation of their impious falsehood, gives the following account: “For they assert,” says he, “that all those primitive men and the apostles themselves both received and taught these things as they are now taught by them, and that the truth of the gospel was preserved until the times of Victor, who was the thirteenth bishop of Rome from Peter, and that from his successor Zephyrinus, the truth was mutilated. And perchance what they say might be credible, were it not that the holy Scriptures contradict them; and then, also, there are works of certain brethren older than Victor’s times, which they wrote in defence of the truth, and against the heresies then prevailing. I speak of Justus and Miltiades, and Tatian and Clement, and many others, in all which the divinity of Christ is asserted. For who knows not the works of Irenæus and Melito, and the rest, in which Christ is announced as God and man? Whatever psalms and hymns were written by the brethren from the beginning, celebrate Christ the Word of God, by asserting his Divinity. How then could it happen, that since the doctrine of the church has been proclaimed for so many years, that those until the times of Victor, preached the gospel after this manner? And how are they so devoid of shame to utter these falsehoods against Victor, well knowing that Victor excommunicated that currier Theodotus, the leader and father of this God-denying apostasy, as the first one that asserted Christ was a mere man. For had Victor entertained the sentiments which their impious doctrine promulgates, how could he have expelled Theodotus, the inventor of this heresy?” Thus much with respect to Victor. After this author had superintended the church, Zephyrinus was appointed his successor about the ninth year of the reign of Severus. The same author that composed the book already mentioned respecting the founder of this heresy, also adds an account of another event that occurred in the times of Zephyrinus, in these words: “I shall remind many of the brethren of a fact,” says he, “that happened in our days, which, had it happened in Sodom, I think would have led them to reflection. There was a certain Natalius, who lived not in remote times, but in our own. This man was seduced on a certain occasion by Asclepiodotus, and another Theodotus, a money-changer. Both of these were disciples of Theodotus the currier, the first that had been excommunicated by Victor, then bishop as before said, on account of this opinion, or rather insanity. Natalius was persuaded by them to be created a bishop of this heresy, with a salary from them of one hundred and fifty denarii a month. Being connected, therefore, with them, he was frequently brought to reflection by the Lord in his dreams. For the merciful God and our Lord Jesus Christ, would not that he who had been a witness of his own sufferings, should perish, though lie was out of the church. But as he paid little attention to these visions, being ensnared both by the desire of presiding among them, and that foul gain which destroys so many, he was finally lashed by holy angels, through the whole night, and was thus most severely punished; so that he arose early in the morning, and putting on sackcloth and covered with ashes, in great haste, and bathed in tears, he fell down before Zephyrinus the bishop, rolling at the feet not only of the clergy but even of the laity, and thus moved the compassionate church of Christ with his tears. And, although he implored their clemency with much earnestness, and pointed to the strokes of the lashes he had received, he was at last scarcely admitted to communion.” To this, we will also add other extracts from the same writer respecting this sect: “The sacred Scriptures,” says he, “have been boldly perverted by them; the rule of the ancient faith they have set aside, Christ they have renounced, not inquiring what the holy Scriptures declared, but zealously labouring what form of reasoning may be devised to establish their impiety. And should any one present a passage of divine truth, they examined, first, whether a connected or disjoined form of syllogism can be formed from it. But they abandon the holy Scriptures for the study of geometry, as being of the earth they talk of the earth, and know not him that cometh from above. Euclid, therefore, is industriously measured by them. Aristotle and Theophrastus are also admired, and as to Galen he is even perhaps worshipped by some. But as to these men who abuse the acts of the unbelievers, to their own heretical views, and who adulterate the simplicity of that faith contained in the holy Scriptures, by the wily arts of impious men: where is the necessity of asserting that they are not right in the faith? For this purpose they fearlessty lay their hands upon the holy Scriptures, saying that they have corrected them. And that I do not say this against them without foundation, whoever wishes may learn; for should any one collect and compare their copies one with another, he would find them greatly at variance among themselves. For the copies of Asclepiodotus will be found to differ from those of Theodotus. Copies of many you may find in abundance, altered, by the eagerness of their disciples to insert each one his own corrections, as they call them, i. e. their corruptions. Again, the copies of Hermophilus do not agree with these, for those of Apollonius are not consistent with themselves. For one may compare those which were prepared before by them, with those which they afterwards perverted for their own objects, and you will find them widely differing. But what a stretch of audacity this aberration indicates, it is hardly probable themselves can be ignorant. For either they do not believe that the holy Scriptures were uttered by the Holy Spirit, and they are thus infidels, or they deem themselves wiser than the Holy Spirit, and what alternative is there but to pronounce them demoniacs? For neither can they deny that they have been guilty of the daring act, when the copies were written with their own hand, nor did they receive such Scriptures from those by whom they were instructed in the elements of the faith: nor can they show copies from which they were transcribed. But some of them did not even deign, or think it worth while, to mutilate the Scriptures, but directly denying the law and the prophets by their lawless and impious doctrine, under the pretext of grace, they sunk down to the lowest depths of perdition.” But let this suffice on this subject.








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