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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

WHEN Constantius departed to the West to make war against Magnentius, he appointed Gallus to be Cæsar of the East. Gallus had embraced the true religion, and stedfastly adhered to it throughout his life. At this juncture Julian threw off the salutary fear of God, boldly assumed more than was his by right, and aspired to the imperial sceptre. With this object in view, he traversed all Greece to consult the soothsayers and interpreters of oracles whether his ambitious aspirations would be fulfilled. He fell in with a man who promised to foretel what he desired, and who accordingly led him into the deepest recesses of an idolatrous temple, and there invoked the deceiving demons. When they appeared as usual under the most frightful forms, Julian, constrained by terror, made the sign of the cross upon his forehead. The demons, on perceiving the sign of the cross, the memorial of the Lord’s victory over them, and of their defeat, immediately vanished. The sorcerer reprimanded Julian for having caused their flight. Julian explained that he had been overcome by terror; and declared that he admired the power of the cross, the sign of which the demons were not able to look upon. “Do not take up that idea, good man,” said the sorcerer. “They did not fear that which you mention, but disappeared because they abominated the action which you performed.” After thus deceiving him, the sorcerer initiated him into the mysteries, and filled his mind with impiety. Thus did the lust of empire rob this wretched prince of all religion. When he ascended the throne, he for a long time concealed his impiety, because he feared the soldiers who had embraced the doctrines of religion. For Constantine, who was so deserving of all praise, after having freed them from their former superstitions, had had them instructed in true doctrines. His children stedfastly adhered to those doctrines which they had received from their father. For although Constantius was induced by those who had obtained an undue ascendancy over him to reject the term “consubstantial,” yet he had always sincerely admitted the doctrine signified by it. For he confessed that the Word is God, and the Son of God, begotten of God before all ages: and he condemned all those who dared to affirm that he is a creature; he also invariably prohibited the worship of idols. Among his other actions, one is worthy of being mentioned, as it displays his zeal for the things of God. When entering upon the war against Magnentius, he assembled all his soldiers and exhorted them to receive the holy rite of baptism. “Life,” said he, “is always uncertain, but especially in battle; for there it is endangered by arrows, darts, spears, swords, and a multitude of other weapons designed to inflict death. It is therefore necessary that each of you should be habited in that robe of which we shall stand most in need in the next life. If there be any one among you who desires to delay receiving this robe, let him now return to his own home, for those who have not submitted to this ordinance shall not engage in battle.”








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