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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

WE must now mention by what means the profession of Christianity was extended in this emperor’s reign: for it was in his time that the nations both of the Indians in the interior, and of the Iberians first embraced the Christian faith. But it may be needful briefly to explain why the expression in the interior is appended. When the Apostles went forth by lot among the nations, Thomas received the apostleship of the Parthians; Matthew was allotted Ethiopia; and Bartholomew the part of India contiguous to that country: but the interior of India, which was inhabited by many barbarous nations using different languages, was not enlightened by Christian doctrine before the time of Constantine. I now come to speak of the cause which led them to become converts to Christianity. Mcropius, a Tyrian philosopher, determined to visit the country of the Indians, being stimulated to this by the example of the philosopher Metrodorus, who had previously travelled through that region. Having taken with him therefore two youths to whom he was related, who were by no means ignorant of the Greek language, Meropius arrived at that country by ship; and when he had inspected whatever he wished, he touched at a certain place which had a safe harbour, for the purpose of procuring some necessaries. It so happened that the treaty between the Romans and Indians had been violated a little before his arrival. The Indians therefore having seized the philosopher and those who sailed with him, killed them all except his two young kinsmen; but sparing them from compassion for their tender age, they sent them as a gift to the king of the Indians. He being pleased with the personal appearance of the youths, constituted one of them, whose name was Edesius, cup-bearer at his table; to the other, named Frumentius, he entrusted the care of the royal records. The king dying soon after, left them free, the government devolving on his wife and infant son; and the queen seeing her son thus left in his minority, begged the young men to undertake the charge of him, until he should become of adult age. They therefore accepted this commission, and entered on the administration of the kingdom; but the chief authority was in the hands of Frumentius, who began anxiously to enquire whether among the Roman merchants trafficking with that country, there were any Christians to be found: and having discovered some, he informed them who he was, and exhorted them to select some appropriate places for the celebration of Christian worship. In the course of a little while he built a house of prayer; and having instructed some of the Indians in the principles of Christianity, they were admitted to participation in the worship. On the young king’s reaching maturity, Frumentius resigned to him the administration of public affairs, in the management of which he had honourably acquitted himself, and besought permission to return to his own country. Both the king and his mother entreated him to remain; but he being desirous of revisiting his native place, could not be prevailed on, and consequently they both departed. Edesius hastened to Tyre to see his parents and kindred: but Frumentius arriving at Alexandria, relates his whole story to Athanasius the bishop, who had but recently been invested with that dignity; and acquainting him with the particulars of his residence abroad, expressed a hope that measures would be taken to convert the Indians to Christianity. He also begged him to send a bishop and clergy there, and by no means to neglect those who might thus be brought to the knowledge of salvation. Athanasius having considered how this could be most profitably effected, requested Frumentius himself to accept the bishopric, declaring that he could appoint no one more suitable than he. He was accordingly ordained, and again returning to India with episcopal authority, became there a preacher of the gospel, and built several Oratories: being aided also by divine grace, he performed various miracles, healing diseases both of the souls and bodies of many. Rufinus assures us that he heard these facts from Edesius, who was afterwards inducted into the sacred office at Tyre.








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