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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

THE bishops assembled at Constantinople deposed also Marcellus bishop of Ancyra, a city of Galatia Minor, on this account. A certain rhetorician of Cappadocia named Asterius having abandoned his art, and professed himself a convert to Christianity, undertook the composition of some treatises, which are still extant, in which he maintained the dogmas of Arius; asserting that Christ is the power of God, in the same sense that the locust and the palmer-worm are said by Moses to be the power of God, with other similar blasphemies. This man was in constant association with the bishops, and especially with those of their number who did not discountenance the Arian doctrine: he also frequently attended their Synods, in the hope of insinuating himself into the bishopric of some city: but he failed even to obtain ordination, in consequence of having sacrificed during the persecution. Going therefore throughout the cities of Syria, he read in public the books which he had composed. Marcellus being informed of this, and wishing to counteract his influence, in his over anxiety to confute him, fell into the opposite error; for he dared to say, as Paul of Samosata had done, that Christ was a mere man. When the bishops then convened at Jerusalem had intelligence of these things, they took no notice of Asterius, because he was not enrolled in the catalogue of those who had been admitted to holy orders; but they insisted that Marcellus, as a priest, should give an account of the book which he had written. Finding that he entertained Paul of Samosata’s sentiments, they required him to retract his opinion; and he being ashamed of the position into which he had brought himself, promised to burn his book. But the convention of bishops being hastily dissolved by the emperor’s summoning them to Constantinople, the Eusebians on their arrival at that city, again took the case of Marcellus into consideration; and on his refusal to fulfil his promise of burning his impious book, the assembled bishops deposed him, and sent Basil into Ancyra in his stead. Moreover Eusebius wrote a refutation of this work in three books, in which he fully exposed its erroneous doctrine. Marcellus however was afterwards reinstated in his bishopric by the Synod at Sardis, on his assurance that his book had been misunderstood, and that therefore he was supposed to favour Paul of Samosata’s views. But of this we shall speak more fully in its proper place.








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