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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

WHEN the emperor had ceased speaking, the synod signified to him that such reliance was placed on his wisdom and piety, that it was desired that he should himself elect a bishop to the vacant office. But he replied, “This undertaking is beyond my ability. You, who are filled with divine grace, and who have received divine light, are better able to make the election than I am.” The bishops, therefore, left the palace, and held a conference together. The citizens in the meantime assembled tumultuously, and contended about the election. Those who had received the pernicious opinions of Auxentius demanded to have a bishop of the same sentiments. While those who had adhered to sound doctrines desired a pastor of the same faith as themselves. Ambrose, who was then governor of the province, hearing of the dissensions, and fearing that a sedition would ensue, hastened to the church. At his appearance all disputes ceased; and the contending parties declared with one voice that they chose Ambrose as their bishop. He had not then been baptised. The emperor, on being informed of the election of the people, ordered that the object of their choice should be immediately baptized and ordained; for he was acquainted with the rectitude and purity of his sentiments, and he regarded the unanimous consent of the opposite faction as a proof of the Divine will. After Ambrose had received the holy rite of baptism, and had been invested with the episcopal dignity, the excellent emperor, who was present during the ceremony, returned thanks to the Lord and Saviour in the following words: “I thank thee, O Lord Almighty, that Thou hast committed the charge of souls lo the very man whom I had appointed to that of the persons of my subjects, and for having thus demonstrated my choice to have been just.”

A few days afterwards, as St. Ambrose was talking with much freedom to the emperor, he blamed the enormities committed by the heads of government in the discharge of their functions. “I have long observed,” replied the emperor, “your fearless independence of speech, yet I did not on this account oppose your ordination; on the contrary, I consented to it. Deal with the diseases of our soul in the mode that is inculcated by the divine law.” These things were said and done by the emperor at Milan.

Being informed that disputes had arisen in Asia and in Phrygia respecting religious doctrines, the emperor commanded that a council should be held in Illyria; and he afterwards sent an account of the decrees and decisions of this council to those who were then engaged in dispute. The bishops assembled in Illyria decreed that the confession of faith signed at Nice should be universally established. The emperor also wrote to exhort the disputants to acquiesce in the decree; and in this letter he conjoined his brother’s name with his own. I shall introduce it here, because, while it clearly evinces the piety of Valentinian, it shows that at that period Valens held orthodox doctrines.








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