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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

ABOUT this time Chrysanthus bishop of the Novatians, after presiding over the churches of his own sect seven years, died on the 26th of August, under the consulate of Monaxius and Plintha. He was succeeded in the bishopric by Paul, who had formerly been a teacher of Roman eloquence: but afterwards abandoning this profession, had devoted himself to an ascetic course of life; and having founded a monastery of religious men, he adopted a mode of living very similar to that pursued by the monks in the desert. In fact I myself found him just such a person as Evagrius describes these recluses to be; imitating them in continued fastings, silence, abstinence from animal food, and a very sparing use of oil and wine. He was moreover particularly solicitous about the wants of the poor; frequently visited those who were in prison, and in behalf of many criminals interceded with the judges, who readily attended to him on account of his eminent piety. But instead of farther enumerating the excellencies that distinguished him, I shall content myself with mentioning a fact well worthy of being recorded. A Jewish impostor, pretending to be a convert to Christianity, had been often baptized, and by that artifice amassed a good deal of money. After having deceived many of the Christian sects by this fraud, and received baptism from the Arians and Macedonians, so that there remained no others to practise his hypocrisy upon, he at length came to Paul bishop of the Novatians, declaring that he earnestly desired baptism, and requesting that he might obtain it at his hand. Paul commended the determination of the Jew, but told him he could not perform that rite for him, until he had been instructed in the fundamental principles of the faith, and given himself to fasting and prayer for many days. The Jew impatient of the long fasts which he most unwillingly was obliged to undergo, became the more importunate for his baptism; and Paul not wishing to discourage him by longer delays now that he was so urgent, consented to grant his request, and made all the necessary preparations. Having purchased a white vestment for him, he ordered the font to be filled with water, and then led the Jew to it in order to baptize him. But by the invisible power of God, the water suddenly disappeared. The bishop and those present, had not the least suspicion of the real cause, but imagined that the water had escaped by the ordinary channels underneath: these passages were therefore very carefully closed, and the font filled again. No sooner however was the Jew taken there a second time, than the water vanished as before. Then Paul addressing the Jew, said, “Either you are a deceiver, or an ignorant person who has already been baptized.” The people having crowded together to witness this miracle, one among them recognized the Jew, and identified him as having been baptized by Atticus the bishop a little while before. Such was the miracle wrought by the hands of Paul bishop of the Novatians.








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