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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

ABOUT the same time the heresy of the Messalians sprang up. Those who have rendered their name into Greek call them Euchites. Besides the above, they bear other appellations. They are sometimes called Enthusiasts, because they regard the agitating influences of a demon by whom they are possessed as indications of the presence of the Holy Ghost. Those who have thoroughly imbibed this heresy shun all manual labour as a vice; they abandon themselves to sleep, and declare their dreams to be prophecies. The following were the leaders of this sect; Dadoes, Sabbas, Adelphius, Hermes, Symeon, and many others. They never seceded from communion with the church, because they believed that the holy food there provided was innoxious although useless. Whereas Christ the Lord, in allusion to this food, says, “Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood shall live for ever.” Their great desire of concealing their error leads them shamelessly to deny it, even when convicted of it, and induces them to condemn in others the very sentiments which they hold themselves. Letoius, bishop of the church of Melitene, on finding that these errors were entertained in numerous monasteries, which were, in reality, so many caverns of robbers, set fire to them all in the plenitude of his zeal, and chased the wolves far away from the sheepfold. The celebrated Amphilochus was the bishop of the metropolis of Lycaonia, and therefore ruled over the whole province: on being apprised of the extension of this heresy, he preserved, by his vigilance, the flock committed to his care free from the contagion. The renowned Flavian, who was afterwards bishop of Antioch, hearing that these sectarians were at Edessa, and that they disseminated their corrupt opinions throughout the neighbourhood, sent a body of monks to bring them to Antioch. They there denied the fact of their being infected with these doctrines, and declared that their accusers calumniated them, and bore false witness against them. Flavian requested Adelphius, who was an old man, to come to him; and, after desiring him in a kindly manner to sit down beside him, said to him, “We, O old man, who have lived a long time, must be better acquainted with human nature and with the inimical machinations of demons, and must also have learnt more respecting the supply of divine grace, than the other persons of the assembly, who, being young, and not having yet acquired accurate information, are not capable of understanding spiritual discourses. Tell me, then, what you mean by saying, that the hostile spirit departs when the Holy Spirit comes with grace?” The old man being gained over by these words, disclosed the hidden poison of this heresy: he said, that the holy rite of baptism was of no benefit to those who received it, and that perseverance in prayer alone could expel the demon which dwells within us; “because,” said he, “every one who is born is, by nature, as much the slave of the demons as he is the descendant of the first man. When the demons are driven away by the fervency of prayer, the most Holy Spirit visits us, and gives sensible and visible signs of his own presence, by freeing the body from the perturbation of passion, and the soul from evil propensities; so that, henceforth, there is no more need of fasting for the subjugation of the body, nor of instruction for the restraint and direction of the soul. Whoever has enjoyed this visitation is delivered from all inward struggles; he clearly foresees the future, and gazes with his own eyes upon the Holy Trinity.” Flavian, having thus discovered the fetid fountain-head of error, and having detected the evil streams which issued from it, said to this wretched old man, “You, who have grown old in sin, have convicted yourself by your own mouth, without any interposition on my part. Your own lips have borne witness against you.” The unsound principles of these sectarians having been thus detected, they were expelled from Syria. They went to Pamphylia, and propagated their injurious heresy throughout the province.








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