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

BESIDES these, there are two works of his On the Promises. The occasion of his writing this arose from Nepos, a bishop in Egypt, having taught, that the promises given to holy men in the Scriptures, should be understood more as the Jews understood them, and supposed that there would be a certain millennium of sensual luxury on this earth. Thinking, therefore, that he could establish his own opinion by the Revelation of John, he composed a book on this subject, with the title, Refutation of the Allegorists. This, therefore, was warmly opposed by Dionysius, in his work On the Promises. In the former, indeed, he gives his own opinion on the subject; in the other he enters into a discussion on the Revelation of John, where, in the introduction, he makes mention of Nepos, as follows: “But they produce a certain work of Nepos, upon which they lay great stress, as if he advanced things that are irrefragable when he asserts that there will be an earthly reign of Christ. In many other respects I accord with and greatly love Nepos, both on account of his faith and industry, and his great study in the Scriptures; as also for his great attention to psalmody, by which many are still delighted. I greatly reverence the man also, for the manner in which he has departed this life. But the truth is to be loved and honoured before all. It is just, indeed, that we should applaud and approve whatever is said aright, but it is also a duty to examine and correct whatever may not appear to be written with sufficient soundness. If, indeed, he were present, and were advancing his sentiments orally, it would be sufficient to discuss the subject without writing, and to convince and confute the opponents by question and answer. But as the work is published, and, as it appears to some, is calculated to convince, and there are some teachers who say that the law and prophets are of no value, and who give up following the gospels, and who depreciate the epistles of the apostles, and who at the same time announced the doctrine of this work as a great and hidden mystery, and who also do not allow that our brethren have any sublime and great conception, either of the glorious and truly divine appearance of our Lord nor of our own resurrection, and our being gathered, and assimilated to him, but persuade them to expect what is little and perishable, and such a state of things as now exists in the kingdom of God; it becomes necessary for us also, to reason with our brother Nepos as if he were present.” To these he adds, after other remarks: “When I was at Arsinoe, where, as you know, long since, this doctrine was afloat, so that schisms and apostasies of whole churches followed, after I had called the presbyters and teachers of the brethren in the villages, when those brethren had come who wished to be present, I exhorted them to examine the doctrine publicly. When they had produced this book as a kind of armour and impregnable fortress, I sat with them for three days, from morning till evening, attempting to refute what it contained. Then, also, I was greatly pleased to observe the constancy, the sincerity, the docility, and intelligence of the brethren, so moderately and methodically did we propose our questions and doubts and concessions, for we carefully and studiously avoided, in every possible way, insisting upon those opinions [which might be offensive] though they might once be maintained by us and seem correct. Nor did we attempt to evade objections, but endeavoured as far as possible to keep to our subject, and to confirm these. Nor ashamed, if reason prevailed, to change opinions, and to acknowledge the truth; but rather received with a good conscience and sincerity, and with single hearts, before God, whatever was established by the proofs and doctrines of the holy Scriptures. At length Coracio, who was the founder and leader of this doctrine, in the hearing of all the brethren present, confessed and avowed to us, that he would no longer adhere to it, nor discuss it, that he would neither mention nor teach it, as he had been fully convinced by the opposite arguments. The other brethren present rejoiced also at this conference, and at the conciliatory spirit and unanimity exhibited by all.”








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