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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

ENVY was unable to bear the lustre of the virtue of this bishop, and resorted to its usual artifices to deprive the metropolis and the whole world of his eloquence and doctrines. I cannot define the feelings I experience in writing this part of my history. For when I wish to relate the injustice to which this great man was exposed, I am confused by the recollection of the other virtues of those who injured him; I shall therefore endeavour, as far as possible, to conceal their names. They had, from various causes, conceived so inveterate a hatred against him, that they could not perceive the greatness of his numerous virtues. They sought out some persons to accuse him; but, as the falsity of their accusations was very manifest, they held a council without the city, and passed sentence against him. The emperor believed the assertion of the bishops, and commanded him to be banished: so that John, without hearing the grounds of his accusation, and without being permitted to make any defence, was, as if he had been guilty of the crimes laid to his charge, banished from the city to a place called Hiero, situated at the mouth of the Pontus. At night a great earthquake took place, and the empress was exceedingly terrified; at the earliest break of day messengers were despatched to the exile, entreating him to return with the utmost speed to the city, and deliver it from impending danger. After these messengers had departed, others were despatched on the same errand, and then again others, until the Bosphorus was blocked up with the messengers. The mouth of the Propontus was filled with ships, in which the faithful people had embarked, for they all went out to him bearing lighted torches. Thus were the plots of the hostile faction frustrated. A few months after, the partizans of this faction again assembled, and laying aside their former false accusations, charged him merely with having exercised the episcopal functions after his deposition. He replied, that none of the forms of law had been observed in his case, that he had heard none of the accusations, that he had made no defence, and that no sentence of condemnation had been passed in his presence; but that he had been expelled from the city, and had been afterwards recalled by the emperor. The enemies of John again assembled in council, but did not trouble themselves this time by passing another sentence of condemnation. They succeeded in persuading the emperor that the first sentence was just and legal, and had him not only expelled from the city, but banished to Cucusus, a small and unpeopled district of Armenia. An order was then issued for him to be conveyed to Pityunta, a town situated at the farthest extremity of Pontus, and of the Roman empire, lying in the neighbourhood of the most cruel and barbarous nations. But the gracious Lord did not permit this triumphant combatant to be conducted thither; for, when he had travelled as far as Comana, he was translated to a life exempt from infirmity and pain. His body was, according to his own command, deposited near the tomb of the martyr Basiliscus. It is unnecessary, and would render the history too prolix, to enumerate the bishops who were banished from their churches on his account, and who were expelled to the furthest extremities of the habitable globe; nor is it requisite to give an account of the hermits, who underwent cruel persecutions in the same cause. Besides, I think it is right to pass rapidly over such occurrences, and to conceal the transgressions of those who are one with us in faith. Most of those who had treated him so unjustly received the punishment that they had merited, and their sufferings served as warnings to the others. The bishops of Europe viewed the injustice with detestation; they withdrew from communion with those by whom it had been committed, and were joined by all Illyria. Most of the Eastern cities shunned all participation in the crime, and yet did not separate themselves from the body of the church. The Western bishops would not, even after the death of the great doctor of the world, admit to communion any member of the churches of Egypt, of the East, of the Bosphorus, or of Thrace, until they had placed the name of that inspired man on an equality with those of the other bishops. Arsacius, who succeeded him, was deemed unworthy of the bishopric. Attacus, the successor of Arsacius, sent many embassies to the bishops of the West, to solicit their friendship; and, at length, after he had restored the name of John to the holy registers, they acknowledged him as a bishop.








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