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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

THE bishops of the Arian party assumed greater assurance from the imperial edicts. For what reason they undertook to convene a Synod, we will explain, after having briefly mentioned a few of their acts previously. Acacius and Patrophilus having ejected Maximus bishop of Jerusalem, installed Cyril in his see. Macedonius subverted the order of things in the cities and provinces adjacent to Constantinople, promoting to ecclesiastical honours the assistants of his machinations against the churches. He ordained Eleusius bishop of Cyzicum, and Marathonius bishop of Nicomedia: the latter had before been a deacon under Macedonius himself, and had been very active in founding monasteries both of men and women. But we shall now mention in what way Macedonius, after having again possessed himself of the prelacy by the means before stated, desolated the churches around Constantinople, and inflicted innumerable calamities on such as were unwilling to adopt his views. His persecutions were not confined to those who were recognized as members of the catholic church, but extended to the Novatians also, inasmuch as they maintained the doctrine of consubstantiality; they therefore with the others underwent the most intolerable sufferings, but Angelius their bishop effected his escape by flight. Many persons eminent for their piety were seized and tortured, because they refused to communicate with him: and after being subjected to the torture, they were forcibly constrained to be partakers of the holy mysteries, their mouths being forced open with a piece of wood, and then the consecrated elements thrust into them. Those who were so treated regarded this as a punishment far more grievous than all others. Moreover they laid hold of women and children, and compelled them to be initiated by baptism: and if any one resisted or otherwise spoke against it, stripes immediately followed, with bonds, imprisonment, and other violent measures. I shall here relate an instance or two whereby the reader may form some idea of the extent of the barbarity exercised by Macedonius and those who were then in power. They first pressed in a box and then sawed off, the breasts of such women as were unwilling to communicate with them. The same parts of the persons of other women they burnt partly with iron, and partly with eggs intensely heated in the fire: a mode of torture which was never practised even among the heathen, but was invented by those who professed to be Christians. These facts were related to me by the aged Auxano, the presbyter in the Novatian church of whom I spoke in the first book. He said also that he had himself endured great severities from the Arians, prior to his receiving the dignity of presbyter; having been thrown into prison and beaten with many stripes, together with Alexander Paphlagon, his companion in the monastic life. He added that he was himself enabled to sustain these tortures, but that Alexander died in prison from the effects of their infliction. His tomb is still visible on the right of those sailing into the bay of Constantinople which is called Ceras, close by the rivers, where there is a church of the Novatians bearing Alexander’s name. Moreover the Arians, at the instigation of Macedonius, demolished with many other churches in various cities, that of the Novatians at Constantinople near Pelargus. Why I particularly mention this church, will be seen from the extraordinary circumstances connected with it, as testified by the same venerable informant. The emperor’s edict and the violence of Macedonius had doomed to destruction the churches of those who maintained the doctrine of consubstantiality; and not only was the ruin of this church threatened, but those also who were charged with the execution of the mandate were at hand to carry it into effect. The zeal displayed by the Novatians on this occasion, as well as the sympathy they experienced from those whom the Arians at that time ejected, but who are now in peaceful possession of their churches, cannot be too highly admired. For when the emissaries of their enemies were urgent to accomplish its destruction, an immense multitude of Novatians, aided by numbers of others who held similar sentiments, having assembled around this devoted church, pulled it down, and conveyed the materials of it to Sycæ, which stands opposite the city, and forms its thirteenth ward. This removal was effected in a very short time, from the extraordinary ardour of the numerous persons engaged in it: one carried tiles, another stones, a third timber; some loading themselves with one thing, and some another. Even women and children assisted in the work, regarding it as the realization of their best wishes, and esteeming it the greatest honour to be accounted the faithful guardians of things consecrated to God. In this way was the church of the Novatians transported to Sycæ: when however Constantius was dead, the emperor Julian ordered its former site to be restored, and permitted them to rebuild it there. The people therefore, as before, having carried back the materials, reared the church in its former position; and from this circumstance, and its great improvement in structure and ornament, they not inappropriately called it Anastasia. This was done, as we before said, in the reign of Julian. But at that time both the catholics and the Novatians were alike subjected to persecution: for the former abominated offering their devotions in those churches in which the Arians assembled, choosing rather to frequent the other three churches at Constantinople which belonged to the Novatians, and to engage in divine service with them. Indeed they would have been wholly united, had not the Novatians opposed this from regard to their ancient precepts. In other respects however, they mutually maintained such a degree of cordiality and affection, as to be ready to lay down their lives for one another: both parties were therefore persecuted indiscriminately, not only at Constantinople, but also in other provinces and cities. At Cyzicum, Eleusius the bishop of that place perpetrated the same kind of enormities against the Christians there, as Macedonius had done elsewhere, harassing and putting them to flight in all directions; and among other things he completely demolished the church of the Novatians at Cyzicum. But Macedonius consummated his wickedness in the following manner. Hearing that there was a great number of the Novatian sect in the province of Paphlagonia, and especially at Mantinium, and perceiving that such a numerous body could not be driven from their homes by ecclesiastics alone, he caused, by the emperor’s permission, four companies of soldiers to be sent into Paphlagonia, that through dread of the military they might receive the Arian opinion. But those who inhabited Mantinium, animated to desperation by zeal for their religion, armed themselves with long reap-hooks, hatchets, and whatever weapon came to hand, and went forth to meet the troops; on which a conflict ensuing, many indeed of the Paphlagonians were slain, but nearly all the soldiers were destroyed. I learnt these things from a countryman of Paphlagonia, who said that he was present at the engagement; and many others of that province corroborate this account. Such were the exploits of Macedonius on behalf of Christianity, consisting of murders, battles, incarcerations, and civil wars: proceedings which rendered him odious not only to the objects of his persecution, but even to his own party. He became obnoxious also to the emperor on these accounts, and particularly so from the circumstance I am about to relate. The church where the coffin lay that contained the relics of the emperor Constantine threatening to fall, so as to cause great alarm to those who had entered it, as well as to those who were accustomed to remain there for devotional purposes, Macedonius wished to remove the emperor’s remains, lest the coffin should be injured by the ruins. The populace getting intelligence of this, endeavoured to prevent it, insisting that the emperor’s bones should not be disturbed, as such a disinterment would be sacrilege: many however affirmed that its removal could not possibly injure the dead body, and thus two parties were formed on this question; such as held the doctrine of consubstantiality joining with those who opposed it on the ground of its impiety. Macedonius in total disregard of these prejudices, caused the emperor’s remains to be transported to the church where those of the martyr Acacius lay. Whereupon a vast multitude rushed toward that edifice in two hostile divisions, which attacked one another with such fury, that great numbers lost their lives; and not only was the church-yard covered with gore, but the well also which was in it overflowed with blood, which ran into the adjacent portico, and thence even into the very street. When the emperor was informed of this disastrous encounter, he was highly incensed against Macedonius, not only on account of the slaughter which he had occasioned, but especially because he had dared to remove his father’s body without consulting him. Having therefore left the Cæsar Julian to take care of the Western parts, he himself set out for the East. How Macedonius was a short time afterwards deposed, and thus suffered a most inadequate punishment for his infamous crimes, I shall hereafter relate.








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