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A History Of The Church In Six Books by Evagrius

AND here let not any one of the deluded worshippers of idols presume to sneer, as if it were the business of succeeding councils to depose their predecessors, and to be ever devising some addition to the faith. For while we are endeavouring to trace the unutterable and unsearchable scheme of God’s mercy to man, and to revere and exalt it to the utmost, our opinions are swayed in this or that direction: and with none of those who have been the authors of heresies among Christians, was blasphemy the first intention; nor did they fall from the truth in a desire to dishonour the Deity, but rather from an idea which each entertained, that he should improve upon his predecessors by upholding such and such doctrines. Besides, all parties agree in a confession which embraces the essential points; for a Trinity is the single object of our worship, and unity the complex one of our glorification, and the Word, who is God begotten before the worlds, and became flesh by a second birth in mercy to the creature: and if new opinions have been broached on other points, these also have arisen from the freedom granted to our will by our Saviour God, even on these subjects, in order that the holy catholic and apostolic church might be the more exercised in bringing opposing opinions into captivity to truth and piety, and arrive, at length, at one smooth and straight path. Accordingly the apostle says most distinctly: “There is need of heresies among you, that the approved ones may be manifested.” And here also, we have occasion to admire the unutterable wisdom of God, who said to the divine Paul, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” For by the very causes by which the members of the church have been broken off, the true and pure doctrine has been more accurately established, and the catholic and apostolic church of God has attained amplification and exaltation to heaven. But those who have been nurtured in Grecian error, having no desire to extol God or his tender care of men, were continually endeavouring to shake the opinions of their predecessors, and of each other, rather devising gods upon gods, and assigning to them by express titles the tutelage of their own passions, in order that they might find an excuse for their own debaucheries by associating such deities with them. Thus, their supreme Father of Gods and men, under the form of a bird, shamelessly carried off the Phrygian boy; and as a reward of his vile service, bestowed the cup, with leave to pledge him in an amorous draught, that they might with the nectar drink in their common shame. Besides innumerable other villanies, reprobated by the meanest of mankind, and transformations into every form of brutes, himself the most brutish of all, he becomes bi-sexual, pregnant, if not in his belly yet in his thigh, that even this violation of nature might be fulfilled in his person: whence springing, the bi-sexual dithyrambic birth outraged either sex; author of drunkenness, surfeit, and mad debauch, and all their fearful consequences. To this Ægis-wearer, this Thunderer, they attach, in spite of these majestic titles, the crime of parricide, universally regarded as the extremity of guilt; inasmuch as he dethroned Saturn who unhappily had begotten him. Why need I also mention their consecration of fornication, over which they made Venus to preside, the shell-born Cyprian, who abhorred chastity as an unhallowed and monstrous thing, but delighted in fornication and all filthiness, and willed to be propitiated by them: in whose company Mars also suffers unseemly exposure, being, by the contrivance of Vulcan, made a spectacle and laughing-stock to the Gods? Justly would one ridicule their phalli and ithyphalli, and phallagogia; their Priapus, and Pan, and the Eleusinian mysteries, which in one respect deserve praise, namely, that the sun was not allowed to see them, but they were condemned to dwell with darkness. Leaving, then, the worshippers and the worshipped in their shame, let us urge our steed to the goal, and set forth, in compendious survey, the remaining transactions of the reign of Theodosius.








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