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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

FRUMENTIUS was the means of communicating the knowledge of God to India. Iberia, about the same time, was taught the way of truth by a captive woman. She devoted herself to prayer: she allowed herself no better bed than a sack spread upon the ground, and accounted fasting her highest enjoyment. This austerity was rewarded by gifts similar to those of the apostles. The barbarians, who were ignorant of medicine, were accustomed, when attacked by disease, to visit each other, in order to ask those who had suffered in a similar way by what means they had been cured; in accordance with this custom, a native woman who had a sick child, repaired to this admirable female, to enquire if she knew of any cure for the disease. The latter took the child, placed it upon her bed, and prayed that it might be healed. Her supplication was heard, and the disease was removed. This extraordinary woman hence obtained great celebrity; and the queen, who was suffering from a severe disease, hearing of her by report, sent for her. The captive held herself in very low estimation, and would not accept the invitation of the queen. But her majesty, in her anxiety to obtain relief from suffering, threw aside her royal dignity, and went herself to seek the captive woman. The latter made the queen lie down upon her bed, and applied to her disease the efficacious remedy of prayer. The queen was healed, and offered as rewards for so important a service, gold, silver, garments, mantles, and such gifts as royal munificence could bestow. The holy woman told her, that she did not want any of these recompences, and that the greatest reward she desired was to lead her to the knowledge of religion. She then meekly explained the Divine doctrines, and exhorted her to erect a church in honour of Christ who had healed her. The queen then returned to the palace, and excited the admiration of her consort, by relating to him the miraculous mode of her cure; and led him to acknowledge the power of that God whom the captive adored. She besought him not only to seek the knowledge of God, but to erect a church, that all the nation might serve Him. The king praised the miracle which had been performed upon the queen, but he would not consent to erect a church. A short time after he went out hunting, and, by the mercy of God, was converted in the same way as Paul: for a sudden storm arose, and enveloped him in darkness, which did not extend beyond him, for those with him were not deprived of light. He, however, found means to dispel the darkness, for his perplexity led him to the knowledge of the Saviour. His mind reverted to his former unbelief, he implored the help of the God of the captive woman, and immediately the darkness was removed. He then went to the extraordinary captive, and asked her in what way a church ought to be built. He who once filled Bezaleel with architectural skill, graciously enabled this woman to devise the plan of a church. When she had drawn the plan, the erection of the church was immediately commenced. When the edifice was completed, the roof put on, and every thing supplied except the priests, this admirable Woman persuaded the king to send to the Roman empire for teachers of religion. The king accordingly despatched an embassy for the purpose. The emperor Constantine, who was warmly attached to the cause of religion, gladly welcomed the ambassadors when informed of the purport of the embassy. He selected a bishop endowed with great faith, wisdom, and virtue, and presenting him with many gifts, sent him to the Iberians, that he might lead them to the knowledge of God. Not content with having effected so much for Iberia, he was led by his own feelings to protect the Christians in Persia; and, learning that they were persecuted, and that the king treated them with great cruelty, he wrote to him, entreating him to embrace the Christian religion himself, as well as to honour its professors. His own letter will render the subject more intelligible than any description.








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