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

WHILST he was thus engaged with his school where be abode, as he somewhere states, and there was no one at Alexandria that applied himself to give instruction in the principles of the faith, all being driven away by the threatening aspect of persecution, some of the Gentiles came to him with a mind to hear the word of God; the first of whom, he states, was Plutarch; who, after a life of piety, was also crowned with divine martyrdom. The second was Heraclas, the brother of Plutarch, who, indeed, having given abundant proof of a life of retired contemplation and discipline, was deemed worthy of the episcopate of Alexandria after Demetrius. But he was in his eighteenth year when he conducted the school for elementary instruction in the faith, in which also he made great proficiency under the persecutions of Aquila, governor of Alexandria; where, also, he obtained a celebrated name with all the believers, on account of that cordiality and promptness which he exhibited to all the martyrs, whether known to him or not; for not only was he with them when in bonds, nor only until the last of their trial at the tribunal, but even after this, when led away to die, he conversed freely with these holy martyrs, and advanced in the face of danger, so that, as he boldly proceeded, and with great freedom saluted the brethren with a kiss, the infuriate multitude who stood around had more than once almost overwhelmed him (with stones), had he not this once experienced the helping hand of God, and wonderfully escaped. But this same celestial grace, at one time and another, again and again, and indeed no one can tell how often, in consequence of his great zeal for the doctrine of Christ, and his fearlessness, as often protected him in danger. So great, indeed, was the hostility of the unbelievers to him, that they formed themselves into companies, to station soldiers about the house where he abode, on account of the numbers that were instructed by him in the principles of the faith. But the persecution against him daily blazed forth with such virulence, that the whole city of Alexandria could no longer contain him, as he removed from house to house, driven about in every direction, on account of the great number of those that had been brought over by him to the true faith, since also his daily actions afforded admirable specimens of a conduct resulting from a sound philosophy. For, “as his doctrine,” say they, “so was his life; and as his life, so also was his doctrine.” “Wherefore, also, with the divine assistance, he induced numbers to imitate him. But when lie saw a greater number of pupils coming, the instruction of them having been committed to him entirely by Demetrius the bishop of the church, he thought that to teach literature exclusively was inconsistent with the study of divine truth, and without delay abandoned the school of philosophy, as useless, and an obstruction to his sacred studies. Then, also, with a becoming consideration that lie might not stand in need of aid from others, he disposed of whatsoever works he had formerly written on ancient works, and composed with great elegance and taste, and was content with receiving four oboli the day from the purchaser. Many years he continued to lead this life of philosophy, completely removing all the incentives to youthful passions from him, during the whole day undergoing no trifling amount of laborious exercise, and at night devoting himself the most of the time to the study of the holy Scriptures, and restraining himself, as far as possible, by a most rigid and philosophical life. Sometimes he was exercised in the discipline of fasting; then again, at night, he limited his times for sleep, which, in consequence of his great zeal, he never enjoyed on his bed, but upon the bare ground. But, most of all, he thought that the evangelical precepts of our Saviour should be observed, in which he exhorts that we should not have two coats, nor make use of shoes, nor pass our time in cares for the future. Indulging, also, an ardour greater than his years, he persevered in cold and nakedness; and advancing to the greatest extremes of poverty, astonished, most of all, his nearest friends. Many, indeed, that wished to impart to him some of their means, were grieved on account of the laborious toil that he endured for the sake of inspired truth. He did not, however, relax in his perseverance. He is said, indeed, to have walked the ground for many years without any shoes; and also to have abstained from the use of wine and other food not necessary for sustenance, many years, so that now he was greatly in danger of subverting and destroying his constitution. But in presenting such specimens of his ascetic life to the beholders, he naturally induced many of his visitors to pursue the same course; so that now many, both of the unbelieving heathen, and some of the learned, and even philosophers of no mean account, were prevailed upon to adopt his doctrine. Some of these, also, having been deeply imbued by him, with the sound faith in Christ deeply implanted in the soul, were also eminent in the midst of the persecution then prevailing; so that some were taken, and finished their course by martyrdom.








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