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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

WHILE these things were taking place, the thirtieth year of Constantine’s reign was completed. But Arius and his adherents having returned to Alexandria, again caused a general disturbance; for the people were exceedingly indignant both at the restoration of this incorrigible heretic with his partisans, and also at the exile of their bishop Athanasius. When the emperor was apprised of the perverse disposition and conduct of Arius, he once more ordered him to repair to Constantinople, to give an account of the commotions he had afresh endeavoured to excite. The church at Constantinople was then presided over by Alexander, who had some time before succeeded Metrophanes. That this prelate was a man of devoted piety was distinctly manifested by the conflict he entered into with Arius; upon whose arrival the whole city was thrown into confusion by the renewal of factious divisions: some insisting that the Nicene Creed should be by no means infringed on, while others contended that the opinion of Arius was consonant to reason. In this distracted state of affairs, Alexander felt most painfully the difficulties of his position: more especially since Eusebius of Nicomedia had violently threatened that he would cause him to be immediately deposed, unless he admitted Arius and his followers to communion. Alexander however was far less troubled at the thought of his own degradation, than fearful of the subversion of the principles of the faith, which they were so anxious to effect: and regarding himself as the constituted guardian of the doctrines recognised, and the decisions made by the council at Nice, he exerted himself to the utmost to prevent their being violated or depraved. Reduced to the last extremity, he bade farewell to all logical resources, and made God his refuge, devoting himself to continued fasting and prayer. Communicating his purpose to no one, he shut himself up alone in the church called Irene: there going up to the altar, and prostrating himself on the ground beneath the holy communion table, he poured forth his fervent intercessions, mingled with tears; and this he ceased not to do for several successive nights and days. What he thus earnestly asked from God, he received: for his petition was, that if the opinion of Arius were correct, he might not be permitted to see the day appointed for its discussion; but that if he himself held the true faith, Arius as the author of all these evils, might suffer the punishment due to his impiety.








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