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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

THE renowned and admirable Athanasius was succeeded by Peter. Timothy succeeded Peter, and Theophilus was the successor of Timothy. Theophilus was a man of great prudence and intrepidity. He delivered the city of Alexandria from the errors of idolatry. He not only overthrew the idolatrous temples from their very foundations, but also disclosed the frauds of the priests to those whom they had deceived. These impostors had provided hollow statues, made of bronze and wood, with the back fitted against the wall, whence they secured an entrance into them. Having secreted themselves within the statues, they issued whatever commands they pleased, and the hearers, deceived by the fraud, obeyed them. By breaking these statues, this wisest of bishops showed to the deceived people the imposture which had been practised upon them.

When he went into the temple of Serapis, which is said to have been the largest and most beautiful of the whole world, he saw a statue of so prodigious a size that terror was excited by merely looking at it. The alarm which it created was increased by a rumour which had been spread abroad, that, if any one should venture to approach it, an earthquake would immediately ensue, by which all the inhabitants of the world would be engulphed. But Theophilus regarded these words as the random expressions of drunken old women; and, looking with contempt on the size of the statue, commanded a man who had a hatchet to strike Serapis with violence. When the blow was inflicted, all the people shrieked, fearing that what had been rumoured would come to pass. But Serapis suffered no pain from the wound, neither did it utter any exclamation; for it was made of wood, and was without life. When the head was broken open, a troop of mice immediately ran out; for these animals had made their abode in the interior of the god of the Egyptians. The body was broken up into small pieces and burnt; the head was carried throughout the city, and submitted to the inspection of those who had worshipped the idol, and who now ridiculed its weakness. In this way were the temples of the demons destroyed throughout the world.








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