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

THE pastors, therefore, who had been convened, having drawn up an epistle, by common consent addressed it to Dionysius bishop of Rome, and to Maximus of Alexandria, and sent to all the provinces. In this, they set forth their own zeal to all, and the perverse doctrine of Paul, together with the arguments and discussions which they had had with him; stating at the same time, the whole life and conduct of the man, from whose statement it may be well perhaps to give the following extracts for the present. The epistle: “To Dionysius and Maximus, and to all our fellow-ministers throughout the world, the bishops and presbyters and deacons, and to the whole catholic church throughout the world under heaven: Helenus, Hymenæus, and Theophilus, and Theotecnus, and Maximus, Proculus, Nicomas, and Ælianus, Paul, and Bolanus, and Protogenes, Hierax, and Eutychius, and Theodorus, and Malchion, and Lucius, and all the rest; who are bishops, presbyters, or deacons, dwelling with us, in the neighbouring cities and nations, together with the churches of God, wish joy to the beloved brethren in the Lord.” After a short preliminary, the following is subjoined: “We have addressed epistles, and at the same time have exhorted many of the bishops at a distance, to come to our relief from this destructive doctrine; among these to Dionysius the bishop of Alexandria, and Firmilianus of Cappadocia, those holy men, of whom the former wrote to Antioch, not even deigning to honour the leader in this delusion with an address, nor writing to him in his name, but to the whole church, of which epistle we have also added a copy. And Firmilianus, who came twice to Antioch, despised his new fangled doctrines, as we who were present, and many others besides, well know, and can attest. But as he promised to change his mind, he believed him, and hoped that, without any reproach upon the word, the matter would be settled in a proper manner. He deferred it therefore; in which, however, he was deceived by this denier of his God and Lord, and this deserter of his former faith. Firmilianus was now on his way to Antioch, and had come as far as Tarsus, because he had before made trial of his infidel wickedness; but whilst we were thus collecting and requesting him to come, and awaiting his arrival, he departed this life.”

After these, and other matters, they also describe what kind of a life the man led, as follows: “Since, abandoning the rule of faith, he went over to spurious and corrupt doctrines, there is no necessity to speak of his conduct, he being as one ‘without,’ nor of his poverty and beggary; nor to state that he who had received neither wealth from his fathers, nor obtained possessions by any art, or any trade or business, has now arrived at excessive wealth, by his iniquities and sacrileges, and by those various means which he employed to exact and extort from the brethren, depressing the injured, and promising to aid them for a reward; nor yet how he deceived them, and, without doing them any good, took advantage of the readiness of those who were in difficulties, to make them give any thing in order to be freed from their oppressors. Nor need we speak of his making merchandise of piety (1 Tim. 6); and how he affected lofty things, and assumed with great haughtiness worldly dignities, wishing rather to be called a magistrate (ducenarius) than a bishop, strutting through the forum, and reading letters, and repeating them as he walked in public; and how he was escorted by multitudes going before and following after him; how he, also, brought envy and odium upon the faith, by his pomp and the haughtiness of his heart. Nor need we mention the vanity and pretensions with which he contrived, in our ecclesiastical assemblies, to catch at glory and empty shadows, and to confound the minds of the more simple, with such things as these. He prepared himself a tribunal and throne, not as a disciple of Christ, but having, like the rulers of this world, a secretum, and calling it by this name. He smote his thigh and stamped on the tribunal with his feet, and reproved and insulted those that did not applaud nor clap as in the theatres, nor exclaim and leap about at these things with his partisans, men and women around him, who were the indecent listeners to these things. He reproved those (I say) that were modestly and orderly hearing as in the house of God. He was harsh in his invectives, in the congregation, against the expounders of the word who had departed this life, and magnified himself, not as a bishop, but as a sophist and juggler. Besides this, he stopped the psalms that were sung in honour of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the late compositions of modern men, but in honour of himself he had prepared women to sing at the great festival in the midst of the church, which one might shudder to hear. He suborned, also, those bishops and presbyters of the neighbouring districts and cities of his party, to advance the same things in their addresses to the people. And if we may here anticipate something of what we intend to write below, he did not wish to confess with us that the Son of God descended from heaven. And this we do not merely assert, it is proved abundantly from those records that we have sent you, and from that not the least, where he says that Jesus is from below. They who sing to his praise, and extol him among the people, say that he has descended as an angel from heaven. And these things he by no means prohibits, but the haughty mortal is even present when they are said. And as to the women, these adopted sisters as the inhabitants of Antioch call them, which belong to him, and the presbyters and deacons about him, whose incurable sins, in this and other respects, he conceals with them: though he is conscious of the facts, and has convicted them, he dissembles, in order to have them subservient to his purposes; so that, fearing for themselves, they dare not venture to accuse him in regard to his impious conduct and doctrine. Besides this, he has made them rich, for which he is both beloved and admired by those who covet these things. But why should we write these things? For, beloved, we know that the bishop and all the clergy ought to be an example to the people of all good works. Nor are we ignorant how many, by the introduction of such females, have fallen, or have incurred suspicion. So that, should any one even grant that nothing disgraceful has been done by him, yet it was a duty to avoid, at least, the suspicion growing out of the matter; so that no one might take offence, nor any be induced to imitate him. For how could any one reprove or admonish another to beware of yielding too much to this familiarity with a woman, lest perchance, he should slip, as it is written; especially, when, after having already dismissed one, he retains two others with him, blooming in age and eminent for beauty, and takes them with him wherever he goes; and all this, too, indulging in luxury and surfeiting, on account of which things all around them are groaning and lamenting. But they are so much afraid of his tyranny and power, that they do not venture to accuse him. And these matters, indeed, one might perhaps correct, in a man who was of the catholic faith, and associated with us; but as to one who has trifled away the sacred mystery (of religion), and who parades with the execrable heresy of Artemas, (for why should we not mention his father?) we deem it unnecessary to exact of him a reason for all these things.”

After this, at the close of the epistle, they add the following. “This man, who sets himself up in opposition to God, and is unwilling to yield, we have been compelled therefore to excommunicate, and to appoint another bishop in his place over the catholic church, we trust, by Divine providence of God, namely, Domnus the son of Demetrianus, of blessed memory, and who before this presided with much honour over the same church, a man we believe fully endowed with all the excellent qualities of a bishop. We have also communicated this to you, that you may write, and receive letters of communion from him. But the other may write to Artemas if he pleases, and those that think with Artemas may have communion with him.” And this may suffice in this place. Paul, therefore, having thus fallen from the episcopate, and the true faith, as already said, Domnus succeeded in the administration of the church at Antioch. Paul being unwilling to leave the building of the church, an appeal was made to the emperor Aurelian, who decided most equitably on the business, ordering the building to be given up to those whom the Christian bishops of Italy and Rome should appoint. Thus, then, this man was driven out of the church with extreme disgrace, by the temporal power itself. Such was the disposition of Aurelian at this time; but in the progress of his reign, he began to cherish different sentiments with regard to us, and then proceeded, influenced by certain advisers, to raise a persecution against us. The rumour of this was now every where abroad. But whilst he was already on the point, and so to say, in the very act of subscribing the decrees, the Divine vengeance overtook him, all but, as we might say, restraining him from his design at the very elbow, and illustriously proving to all, that there can be no privilege granted the rulers of the world against the churches of Christ, unless by the sovereign hand of God, and the decree of heaven permitting it to be done for our correction and amendment, and in those times and seasons that he may approve. Aurelian, therefore, after a reign of six years, was succeeded by Probus. He held the government the same number of years, when he was succeeded by Carus, together with Carianus and Numerianus. These again did not continue three full years, when the government devolved on Diocletian, and those subsequently associated with him. In their times the persecution of our own day was begun, and the destruction of the churches at the same time; but a little before this, Dionysius, who had been bishop of Rome for nine years, was succeeded by Felix.








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