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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

THE commission with which you charged me, O holy man of God, Theodore, I have executed in the five foregoing books; in which to the best of my ability, I have comprised the history of the church from the time of Constantine. You will perceive that I have been by no means studious of style; for I considered that too great fastidiousness about elegance of expression might defeat the object I had in view. But even supposing my purpose could still have been accomplished, I was wholly precluded from the exercise of that discretionary power of which ancient historians seem to have so largely availed themselves, whereby any one of them imagined himself quite at liberty to amplify or curtail matters of fact. Moreover refined composition would be utterly lost upon simple-minded and illiterate men, who are intent merely on knowing what was really transacted, and pay not the least regard to beauty of diction. In order therefore to render my production not unprofitable to both classes of readers,—to the learned on the one hand, whom no elaboration of language could satisfy to rank it with the magniloquence of the writers of antiquity, and to the unlearned on the other, whose understandings would be clouded by a parade of words,—I have purposely adopted a style, divested indeed of all affectation of sublimity, but at the same time clear and perspicuous.

Before however entering on our sixth book, I must premise this, that in undertaking to detail the events of our own age, I am apprehensive of advancing such things as may be unpalatable to many: either because, according to the proverb, “Truth is bitter;” or on account of my not mentioning with encomium the names of those whom some may love; or from my not lauding their actions. The zealots of our churches will condemn me for not calling the bishops “Most dear to God,” “Most holy,” and such like. Others will be litigious because I do not bestow the appellations “Most divine,” and “Lords” on the emperors, nor apply to them such other epithets as they are commonly assigned. But since I could easily prove from the testimony of ancient authors, that among them servants were accustomed to address their masters simply by name, without reference to their dignity or titles, on account of the pressure of business, I shall in like manner obey the laws of history, which demand a simple and faithful narration, unobscured by a veil of any kind. My course will therefore be to record accurately what I have either myself seen, or have been able to ascertain from actual observers; having tested the truth with unsparing labour, and by every means I could possibly command, where there was the least discrepancy of statement among the many parties consulted who professed to be intimately acquainted with these things.








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