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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

IMMEDIATELY after Peter had been raised to the archiepiscopal dignity, the governor of the province collected a multitude of Pagans and Jews, and surrounded the church, desiring Peter to retire; and on his refusal, he threatened to expel him. He acted in the same way against all whose opinions were opposed to those of the emperor, under the pretence, indeed, of complying with his wishes, but, in truth, to satisfy his own impious prejudices, for he was addicted to the worship of idols; and the storms which agitated the church were to him a source of festivity and rejoicing. When this unexpected war broke out, Peter quitted the city secretly, and embarking on board a vessel, proceeded to Rome. A few days after, Euzoius arrived at Alexandria from Antioch, bringing Lucius with him, whom he installed in the government of the churches. Lucius had given many proofs of his impiety and injustice at Samosata. when the multitudes who had been nourished by the teaching of Athanasius, perceived that other food was presented to them, they kept away from the assemblies of the church. Lucius assembled round him a troop of idolaters, who acted as his guards. He had some of the orthodox beaten, others he threw into prison, some he compelled to flee, and he pillaged the houses of others. All these occurrences are best explained by the admirable Peter, in one of his letters. But before I insert this letter in my work, I must relate one atrocious deed committed by Lucius.

There are in Egypt men who, desirous of leading a life like that of angels, have sequestered themselves from the tumult of cities to dwell in deserts, and who among these barren sands produce by their extraordinary virtues fruit pleasing unto God. Anthony was one of the most celebrated of those who originated this mode of living in the desert; but after he had safely anchored in the haven of rest, his followers were most cruelly persecuted. The celebrated Macarius who was one of the leaders of this party, another individual of the same name, Isidore, and others, were torn away from their caverns, and were sent to an island where the inhabitants were heathens, and had never received any instruction in religion. As soon as their vessel approached the shores of the island, the demon who was there worshipped quitted the statue of the idol which had long been his abode, and entered into the body of the priest’s daughter. He threw her into a state of madness and agitation, dragged her towards that part of the shore which the vessel was approaching, and compelled her to utter expressions similar to those used by the damsel who was filled with the spirit of Python at Philippi. While all the people, both men and women, were listening to these exclamations, the demon said through her, “O servants of Christ, how great is your power! We have been driven by you from every place, from cities and from villages, from mountains, from hills, and from the solitudes of the desert. We did hope that, in this neglected island, we should have been safe from your weapons; but our hope was vain. Your persecutors have sent you hither, not for the purpose of injuring or of molesting you, but in order that we may be driven away by you. We shall now depart from the island. We are unable to endure the brightness of your virtue.” After having thus spoken, the demons flung the damsel on the ground, and fled. The holy men, after having engaged in prayer, raised the damsel from the ground, and restored her to health of body and of mind. Those who witnessed the miracle threw themselves at the feet of these holy men, and entreated them to show them the way of salvation. They destroyed the temple of their idols, and received the doctrines of religion and the rite of baptism. When these events became known in Alexandria, all the people assembled, and rose against Lucius, declaring that judgments would be sent to manifest the wrath of God, if the persecutions against the saints were continued. Lucius, intimidated by these tumults, granted permission to the inspired men to return to their caverns. These facts are quite sufficient to show his wickedness and impiety. The letter of Peter, however, exposes his violence and injustice yet more clearly. I shall here insert this letter; but, to avoid prolixity, shall commence at the middle paragraph.








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