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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

THEODOSIUS being now sole ruler, concealed the death of the emperor Honorius as long as possible, amusing the people sometimes with one report, and then another. But he privately despatched a military force to Salonæ a city of Dalmatia, that in the event of any revolutionary movement in the West there might be resources at hand to check it; and after making these provisional arrangements, he at length openly announced his uncle’s death. In the interim, John the emperor’s chief secretary, not content with the dignity to which he had already attained, seized upon the sovereign authority; and sent an embassy to the emperor Theodosius, demanding to be recognised as his colleague in the empire. But that prince after causing the ambassadors to be arrested, immediately sent off Ardaburius the commander-in-chief of the army, who had greatly distinguished himself in the Persian war. He, on arriving at Salonæ, set sail from thence for Aquileia: but fortune was adverse to him as he then thought (although it afterwards appeared far otherwise); for a contrary wind having arisen, he was driven into the tyrant’s hand. The capture of Ardaburius made the usurper more sanguine in his hope, that Theodosius would be induced by the urgency of the case to elect and proclaim him emperor, in order to preserve the life of this officer. And the emperor was in fact greatly distressed when he heard of it, as was also the army which had been sent against the tyrant, lest Ardaburius should be subjected to any rigorous treatment. Aspar the son of Ardaburius, having learnt that his father was in the tyrant’s power, and aware at the same time that the party of the rebels was strengthened by the accession of immense numbers of barbarians, knew not what course to pursue. But at this crisis the prayer of the pious emperor again prevailed. For an angel of God under the appearance of a shepherd, undertook the guidance of Aspar and the troops which were with him, and led him through the lake near Ravenna: for in that city the tyrant was then residing, and there detained the military chief. Now no one had ever been known to have forded that lake before; but God then rendered that passable, which had hitherto been impassable. Having therefore crossed the lake, as if going over dry ground, they found the gates of the city open, and seized the tyrant. This event afforded that most devout emperor Theodosius an opportunity of giving a fresh demonstration of his piety towards God. For the news of the tyrant’s being destroyed, having arrived while he was engaged at the exhibition of the sports of the Hippodrome, he immediately said to the people: “We will, if you please, leave these diversions, and proceed to the church to offer thanksgivings to God, by whose hand the tyrant has been overthrown.” Thus did he address them; and the spectacles were immediately forsaken, the people all passing out of the circus singing praises together with him, as with one heart and one voice. And arriving at the church, the whole city again became one vast congregation, and passed the remainder of the day in these devotional exercises.








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