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

AT this time Felix, having held the episcopate at Rome five years, was succeeded by Eutychianus; he did not hold the office quite ten months, when he left his place to be occupied by Caius of our own day. Caius, also, presided about fifteen years, when he was succeeded by Marcellinus. He was overtaken by the persecution, and in these times, also, Timæus, after Domnus, governed the church of Antioch, who was succeeded by our contemporary Cyrillus, under whom we have known Dorotheus, a learned man, who was honoured with the rank of presbyter of Antioch at that time. He was a man of fine taste in sacred literature, and was much devoted to the study of the Hebrew language, so that he read the Hebrew Scriptures with great facility. He, also, was of a very liberal mind, and not unacquainted with the preparatory studies pursued among the Greeks, but in other respects a eunuch by nature, having been such from his birth; so that the emperor, on this account, as if it were a great miracle, received him into his house and family, and honoured him with an appointment over the purple dye establishment of Tyre. Him we have heard in the church expounding the Scriptures with great judgment; after Cyrillus, the duties of the episcopal office in the church of Antioch were administered by his successor Tyrannus, under whom the destruction of the churches took place. At Laodicea, the church was governed by Eusebius, the successor of Socrates, who was sprung from an Alexandrian family. The occasion of his removal was the affair respecting Paul of Samosata, on which account having come to Syria, he was prevented from returning home by those who took great interest in the Scriptures there. He was also an amiable instance of religion among our contemporaries, as may be readily seen in those extracts from Dionysius, which we have inserted above. Anatolius was appointed his successor, a good man, as they say, in the place of the good. He, too, was an Alexandrian. For his learning and skill in the Greek philosophy, he was superior to any of the most distinguished men of our day, as he had attained to the highest eminence in arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy, besides his proficiency in dialectics, physics, and rhetoric. On this account it is said, that he was requested by the Alexandrians to establish a school there of the succession (or order) of Aristotle. They relate innumerable achievements of his at the siege of the Bruchium, at Alexandria, as he was honoured by all in office, with extraordinary distinction; as a specimen, we shall only mention this.—When the bread, as they say, failed in the siege, so that they were better able to sustain their enemies from without than the famine within, Anatolius being present, devised a project like the following. As the other part of the city was in alliance with the Roman army, and therefore happened not to be besieged, he sent to inform Eusebius, who was among those not besieged, for he was yet there before his removal to Syria, and was very celebrated, and in high repute even with the Roman general, to inform him of the siege and those perishing with famine. On learning this he begged of the Roman general to grant safety to those who would desert from the enemy, as the greatest favour he could grant him. Obtaining his request, he immediately communicated it to Anatolius. The latter receiving the promise, collected the senate of Alexandria, and at first began to propose that they should come to a reconciliation with the Romans. But as he perceived that they were incensed at the suggestion, he said, I do not think you will oppose me, if I should advise you to send forth the superfluous number, and those that are of no use to us, the old women and children, and old men, and let them go where they wish. For why should we keep those with us, who will ere long at any rate die to no purpose? and why should we destroy with famine those that are already bereft of sight and mutilated in body? We ought to feed only men and youth, and furnish the necessary provisions to those that are necessary for the defence of the city. With such reasoning, having persuaded the senate, he was the first that rose and proposed the resolution, that the whole multitude whether of men or women, that were not needed for the army, should be dismissed from the city, because there would be no hope of safety at all for them, who, at any rate, were about to perish with the famine, if they continued and lingered in the city until the state of affairs was desperate. All the rest of the senate agreeing to this decree, he nearly saved the whole of the besieged; among the first providing, that those of the church, then those of every age in the town, should make their escape, and among these not only those that were included in the decree, but taking the opportunity, many others, secretly clad in women’s clothes, went out of the city by his management at night, and proceeded to the Roman camp. There Eusebius receiving them all, like a father and physician, recovered them, wasted away by a protracted siege, with every kind of attention to their wants. With two such pastors in succession, was the church of Laodicea honoured by the Divine interposition, who after the termination of the war mentioned had left the city of Alexandria, and came to these parts. Not many books were written by Anatolius; as many, however, have come down to us, as shew his eloquence and erudition. In these he sets forth his opinions on the Passover, from which it may be proper to extract the following: Extracts from the Canons of Anatolius ‘On the Paschal Festival.’ “You have, therefore, in the first year, the new moon of the first month, which is the beginning of every cycle of nineteen years, on the twenty-sixth of the Egyptian month Phamenoth, according to the months of the Macedonians, the twenty-second of Dystrus; and as the Romans would say, before the eleventh of the calends of April. The sun is found on the said twenty-sixth of the month Phamenoth, not only as entering the first segment (of the zodiac), but on the fourth day is already found passing through it. This segment they generally call the first dodecatomorium, and the equinox, and the beginning of the months, and the head of the cycle, and the head of the planetary course. That (segment) before this, they call the last of the months, the twelfth segment, and the last dodecatomorium, and the end of the planetary revolution. Hence, also, those that place the first month in it, and that fix the fourteenth of the month by it, commit, as we think, no little and no common blunder. But neither is this our opinion only, but it was also known to the Jews anciently, and before Christ, and was chiefly observed by them, as we may learn from Philo, Josephus, and Musæus; and not only from these, but also from those still more ancient, i. e. the two Agathobuli, commonly called the masters, and of Aristobulus, that most distinguished scholar, who was one of the seventy that translated the holy Scriptures from the Hebrew for Ptolemy Philadelphus, and his father, and dedicated his exposition of the law of Moses to the same kings. These, when they resolve inquiries on Exodus, say that all ought to sacrifice the passover alike after the vernal equinox, in the middle of the first month. This is found to be when the sun passes through the first segment of the solar, or, as some call it, the zodiacal circle. Aristobulus also adds, it was requisite that not only the sun should have passed the equinoctial segment for the feast of the passover, but the moon also. For as there are two equinoctial segments, the vernal and the autumnal, diametrically opposite to each other, and since the day of the passover is given on the fourteenth of the month at the evening, the moon will stand diametrically opposite to the sun, as may be seen in full moons. Thus the sun will be at the vernal equinox; the moon, on the contrary, at the autumnal equinox.

“Many other matters, I know, have been discussed by him; some of them with great probability, others established with the most certain demonstrations, in which he attempts to show that the festival of the passover, and of unleavened bread, ought to be observed altogether after the equinox; but I shall omit demanding such full demonstrations of matters from which the veil of the Mosaic law has been removed; and it now remains for us, in this uncovered surface, to contemplate, as in a mirror, the reflected doctrines and sufferings of Christ. That the first month of the Hebrews is about the equinox, may be gathered from the book of Enoch.”

The same author has also left an elementary work, On Calculation, ten books in all; and other proofs of his great study and proficiency in sacred literature. Theotecnus, bishop of Cæsarea in Palestine, was the first that laid his hands upon him in his ordination to the episcopate, designing to constitute him his successor in his own church after his death; and, indeed, both of them presided for a short time over the same church. But when the synod at Antioch called him to Antioch against Paul, as he passed through the city of Laodicea, Eusebius, the bishop of that place, being dead, he was constrained by the brethren to remain. And Anatolius also dying, Stephen was made bishop of that church, the last bishop before the persecution; a man greatly admired for his knowledge of philosophy, and other branches of Greek learning. But he was not equally disposed towards the divine faith, as the progress of the persecution evinced; in which he was proved to be timid and cowardly, rather than a sound philosopher. The affairs of the church, however, were not likely to be ruined by this, for these were corrected and restored by Theodotus, who, under a special providence of God, the Saviour of all, was ordained bishop of the church there: and by his deeds proved the reality of his name (given of God), and of his office as bishop; for he excelled in his knowledge of the medical art, as applied to the body, and was skilled in that healing art which is applied to the soul. No one was ever his equal in kindness, sincerity, sympathy, and a zeal to benefit those that needed his aid. He was, also, much exercised in the study of divine things. Such was he.

At Cæsarea in Palestine, Theotecnus, after a most diligent and active episcopate, was succeeded at his death by Agapius. Him we know to have laboured much, and to have kept a most thorough oversight in superintending the people, and with his liberal hand to have paid regard especially to the poor. In his time, we were acquainted with that most eloquent man, and truly practical philosopher, who was honoured with the rank of presbyter in that church; I mean Pamphilus, whose character and greatness would be no trifling subject to elucidate. But we have dwelt in a separate work on the particulars of his life, and the school which he established, as also the trials which he endured amid the persecution in the different confessions, and besides this, the death of martyrdom with which he was crowned. He, indeed, was the most admirable of all here. Among the very eminent men that have flourished near our own times, of presbyters we have known Pierius of Alexandria; Melchius also, bishop of the churches in Pontus. The former was greatty celebrated for his voluntary poverty, and his philosophical knowledge, and was abundantly exercised in expositions of the Scriptures, and the discourses in the public assemblies of the church. Melchius was called by the learned, the honey (μελι) of Attica, and was the most perfect original of learned men that could be described. It is impossible to admire sufficiently the superiority of his eloquence; it might be said perhaps that he derived this from nature, but who is there that could excel him in the excellence of his skill and erudition? for in all the sciences that require the exercise of argumentation, if you were to make trial, you would readily say that he was a most subtle and acute reasoner. The virtues of his life were also a parallel to these. We have had the opportunity of observing him during the persecution, escaping its fury for seven years, in the regions of Palestine. The church of Jerusalem, after Hymenæus, was under the episcopal care of Zambdas, and he not long after dying, Hermon was the last before the persecution of our day; the same that now holds the apostolic chair preserved there to the present. At Alexandria, however, Maximus, who held the episcopal office eighteen years after the death of Dionysius, was succeeded by Theonas. In his time Achillas, who had been honoured with the order of presbyter, was of note at Alexandria, having entrusted to him the school for religious instruction. In his life and actions he exhibited a most rare instance of sound wisdom, and a genuine specimen of evangelical deportment. After Theonas had discharged the duties of the office nineteen years, he was succeeded in the episcopate of Alexandria by Peter, who was also very eminent, and held the office twelve years; nearly three of which he governed the church, before the persecution; during the rest of his life he subjected himself to a more rigid course of discipline, but still continued to manifest great interest in advancing the welfare of the church. Hence, in the ninth year of the persecution he was beheaded, and thus obtained the crown of martyrdom. But after giving in our history an account of the successors, since the birth of our Saviour until the demolition of the churches, embracing a period of three hundred and five years, now let us here attempt to give the conflicts which have been endured in the cause of religion, in our own times, in all their extent and magnitude, that it may be on record for the benefit of posterity.

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