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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

THE barbarians termed Goths, dwelling beyond the Danube, having engaged in a civil war among themselves, were divided into two parties, one of which was headed by Fritigernes, the other by Athanaric. When the latter had obtained an evident advantage over his rival, Fritigernes had recourse to the Romans, and implored their assistance against his adversary. This being reported to the emperor Valens, he ordered the troops which were engarrisoned in Thrace, to assist those barbarians who had appealed to him against their more powerful countrymen; and by means of this subsidy a complete victory was obtained over Athanaric beyond the Danube, his forces being totally routed. Because of this, many of the barbarians professed the Christian religion: for Fritigernes to express his sense of the obligation the emperor had conferred upon him, embraced the religion of his benefactor, and persuaded those who were under his authority to do the same. Therefore it is that so many of the Goths are even to the present time infected with the errors of Arianism, they having on the occasion referred to become adherents to that heresy on the emperor’s account. Ulfila their bishop at that time, after inventing the Gothic letters, translated the sacred Scriptures into their own language, and undertook to instruct these barbarians in the Divine oracles. And as Ulfila did not restrict his labours to the subjects of Fritigernes, but extended them to those who acknowledged the sway of Athanaric also, that chief regarding this innovation as an insult offered to the religion of his ancestors, treated those who professed Christianity with great severity, so that many of the Arian Goths of that period became martyrs. Arius indeed, failing in his attempt to refute the opinion of Sabellius the Libyan, fell from the true faith, and asserted the Son of God to be a new God: but the barbarians embracing Christianity with greater simplicity of mind, despised the present life for the faith of Christ. With these remarks we shall close our notice of the Christianized Goths.








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