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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

SILVANUS was formerly a rhetorician, and had been brought up in the school of Troïlus the sophist; but aiming at perfection in his Christian course, he entered on the ascetic mode of life, and threw aside the rhetorician’s pallium. Atticus bishop of Constantinople having afterwards ordained him bishop of Philippopolis, he resided three years in Thrace; but being unable to endure the cold of that region from the feebleness and delicacy of his frame, he begged Atticus to appoint some one else in his place. This having been done, Silvanus returned to Constantinople, where he practised so great austerities, that despising the luxurious refinements of the age, he often appeared in the crowded streets of that populous city shod with sandals made of hay. Some time having elapsed, the bishop of Troas died; on which account the inhabitants of that city came to Atticus concerning the appointment of a successor. While he was deliberating whom he should ordain for them, Silvanus happened to pay him a visit, which at once relieved him from further anxiety; for addressing Silvanus, he said: “You have now no longer any excuse for avoiding the pastoral administration of a church; for Troas is not a cold place: so that God has considered your infirmity of body, and provided you a suitable residence. Go thither then, my brother, without delay.” Silvanus therefore removed to that city, where he performed a miracle which I shall now relate. An immense ship for carrying burdens, such as they term Plate, intended for the conveyance of enormous pillars, had been recently constructed on the shore at Troas. But every effort to launch this vessel proved ineffectual; for although many strong ropes were attached to it, and the power of a vast number of persons was applied, all was unavailing. When these attempts had been repeated several days successively with the like result, the people began to think that the devil detained the ship; they therefore went to the bishop Silvanus, and entreated him to go and offer a prayer in that place, as they thought it could not be otherwise moved. He replied with his characteristic lowliness of mind that he was but a sinner, and that it pertained to some one more worthy to receive such grace from God as would relieve them from their difficulty. Being at length prevailed on by their continued entreaties, he approached the shore, where after having prayed, he took hold of a rope, and exhorting the rest to vigorous exertion, the ship was by the first pull instantly set in motion, and ran swiftly into the sea. This miracle wrought by the hands of Silvanus, stirred up the whole population of the province to piety. But the uncommon worth of Silvanus was manifested in various other ways. Perceiving that the ecclesiastics made a gain of the contentions of those engaged in law-suits, he would never nominate any one of the clergy as judge: but causing the documents of the litigants to be delivered to himself, he summoned to him some pious layman in whose integrity he had confidence, and committed to him the adjudication of the case. Thus were all differences soon equitably settled; and by this procedure Silvanus acquired for himself great reputation from all classes of persons. We have indeed digressed pretty much from the course of our history; but yet it will not, we imagine, be unprofitable. Let us now however return to the place from which we departed. The ordination of Maximian on the 25th of October, under the consulate of Bassus and Antiochus, had the effect of reducing the affairs of the church to a better ordered and more tranquil condition.








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