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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

WHEN Theodosius returned to the East, the admirable Amphilochius, of whom mention has been already made, requested him to prohibit the Arians from holding their assemblies in the cities. The emperor, conceiving that this requisition involved the exercise of too much harshness, refused to comply with it. The wise Amphilochius remained silent for a time, and then adopted an expedient which is worthy of being remembered. He went to the palace soon after this occurrence. Arcadius, the emperor’s son, who had been recently invested with the imperial dignity, was seated near the emperor. Amphilochius saluted the father, according to custom, but omitted to salute the son. The emperor, imagining that this omission had arisen from forgetfulness, called him back, and commanded him to salute his son. Amphilochius said, that it was quite sufficient to pay that mark of respect to the emperor alone. Theodosius was offended, and expressed his resentment at the indignity offered to his son. Then the wise Amphilochius declared to him the motive of his conduct; and said in a loud voice, “You see, O emperor, that you cannot endure to see any want of respect manifested towards your son, but that you are filled with indignation against those who insult him. You may be sure then that the God of all holds in abhorrence the blasphemies uttered against His only begotten Son, and that He turns away from those who thus dishonour Him.” The emperor was as much astonished at this speech as he had been by the conduct of Amphilochius, and immediately enacted a law prohibiting heretics from holding assemblies.

But it is not easy to escape all the snares of the common enemy of mankind. It often happens that he who evades the allurements of voluptuousness is enslaved by avarice; he who rises superior to avarice is overcome by envy; he who is not subject to envy is not free from anger; and there are besides thousands of other snares by which the feet of men are entangled, and in which they are captured to their own destruction. The passions which derive their origin from the body are often as the instruments by which the soul is slain. It is only when the mind is intent upon divine things, that the force of temptation can be resisted. As the emperor was a man, and was possessed of the passions of man, it ought not to excite astonishment that his justifiable indignation became on one occasion unmeasured and burst all bounds, and that by the immoderate indulgence of anger he committed a deed of atrocious cruelty. I shall relate this action for the profit of my readers. The details connected with it redound more to the praise than to the dishonour of this admirable emperor.








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