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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

CONSTANTIA, the widow of Licinius, was the sister of Constantine. She was intimately acquainted with a certain priest who had imbibed the doctrines of Arius. He did not openly acknowledge his heterodoxy; but, in the frequent conversations which he had with her, he did not refrain from declaring that Arius had been unjustly calumniated. After the death of her ungodly husband, the renowned Constantine did every thing in his power to solace and comfort her. He attended her also in her last illness, and rendered her every service which she could desire. She then presented the priest whom I mentioned to the emperor, and entreated him to receive him under his protection. Constantine acceded to her request, and soon after fulfilled his promise. But though the priest was permitted the utmost freedom, and was advanced to a most honourable office, yet he always concealed his corrupt principles, being well aware of the firmness with which the emperor adhered to the truth. When Constantine was on the point of being translated to a higher and an eternal kingdom, he drew up a will, in which he directed that his dominions should be divided among his children. None of them were with him when he was dying, so he entrusted the will to the priest alone, and desired him to give it to Constantius, who, being at a shorter distance from the spot than his brothers, was expected to arrive the first. Accordingly, upon the arrival of Constantius, the priest presented the will to him; and he thus obtained his favour, and was commanded to visit him frequently. Perceiving the weakness of Constantius, whose mind could only be compared to reeds driven to and fro by the wind, he became emboldened to attack the doctrines of the gospel. He loudly deplored the troubles of the church, and asserted that they were all produced by those who had appended the unscriptural word “consubstantial” to the confession of faith, and that all the disputes among the clergy and the laity had been occasioned by them. He calumniated Athanasius and all who coincided in his opinions, and formed designs for their destruction. He had for his accomplices, Eusebius, Theognis, and Theodore, bishop of Perinthus. The latter, who went generally by the name of Heracleotes, was a man of great erudition, and had written an exposition of the holy Scriptures. These bishops resided near the emperor, and frequently visited him; they assured him that the return of Athanasius from banishment had occasioned many evils, and had excited a tempest by which not only Egypt, but also Palestine, Phœnicia, and the adjacent countries, had been shaken.








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