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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

AFTER experiencing considerable difficulties, Athanasius at last reached Italy. The whole western division of the empire was then under the power of Constans, the youngest of Constantine’s sons, his brother Constantine having been slain by the soldiery, as was before stated. At the same time also Paul bishop of Constantinople, Asclepas of Gaza, Marcellus of Ancyra a city of Galatia Minor, and Lucius of Adrianople, having been expelled from their several churches on various charges, arrived at the imperial city. There each laid his case before Julius bishop of Rome, who sent them back again into the East, restoring them to their respective sees by virtue of his letters, in the exercise of the Church of Rome’s peculiar privilege; and at the same time in the liberty of that prerogative, sharply rebuking those by whom they had been deposed. Relying on the authority of these documents, the bishops depart from Rome, and again take possession of their own churches, forwarding the letters to the parties to whom they were addressed. These persons considering themselves treated with indignity by the reproaches of Julius, assemble themselves in council at Antioch, and dictate a reply to his letters as the expression of the unanimous feeling of the whole Synod. It was not his province, they said, to take cognizance of their decisions in reference to the expulsion of any bishops from their churches; seeing that they had not opposed themselves to him, when Novatus was ejected from the church. Such was the tenor of the Eastern bishops’ disclaimer of the right of interference of Julius bishop of Rome. But sedition was excited by the partisans of George the Arian, on the entry of Athanasius into Alexandria, in consequence of which, it is affirmed, many persons were killed; and since the Arians endeavour to throw the whole odium of this transaction on Athanasius as the author of it, it behoves us to make a few remarks on the subject. God the Judge of all only knows the true causes of these disorders: but no one of any experience can be ignorant of the fact, that such fatal accidents are the frequent concomitants of the factious movements of the populace. It is vain therefore for the calumniators of Athanasius to attribute the blame to him; and especially Sabinus bishop of the Macedonian heresy. For had the latter reflected on the number and magnitude of the wrongs which Athanasius, in conjunction with the rest who hold the doctrine of consubstantiality, has suffered from the Arians; or on the many complaints made of these things by the Synods convened on account of Athanasius; or in short on what that arch-heretic Macedonius himself has done throughout all the churches, he would either have been wholly silent, or if constrained to speak, would have highly commended Athanasius, instead of loading him with reproaches. But intentionally overlooking all these things, he wilfully misrepresents his character and conduct; without however trusting himself to speak at all of Macedonius, lest he should betray the gross enormities of which he knew him to be guilty. And what is still more extraordinary, he has not said one word to the disadvantage of the Arians, although he was far from entertaining their sentiments. The ordination of Macedonius whose heretical views he had adopted, he has also passed over in silence; for had he mentioned it, he must necessarily have recorded his impieties, which were most distinctly manifested on that occasion.








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