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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

THE partizans of Acacius remained some time at Constantinople, and invited thither several bishops of Bithynia, among whom were Maris, bishop of Chalcedon, and Ulfilas, bishop of the Goths. These prelates having assembled together, in number about fifty, they confirmed the formulary read at the Council of Ariminum, adding this provision, that the terms “substance” and “hypostasis” should never again be used in reference to God. They also declared that all other formularies set forth in times past, as likewise those that might be compiled at any future period, should be condemned. They then deposed Aetius from his office of deacon, because he had written works full of contention, and of a species of vain knowledge opposed to the ecclesiastical vocation; because he had used in writing and in disputation several impious expressions; and because he had been the cause of troubles and seditions in the church. It was alleged by many that they did not depose him willingly, but merely because they wished to remove all suspicion from the mind of the emperor that they favoured his doctrines. Those who held these sentiments took advantage of the resentment with which, for reasons above mentioned, the emperor regarded Macedonius, and they accordingly deposed him, and likewise Eleusius, bishop of Cyzicus; Basil, bishop of Ancyra; Heortasius, bishop of Sardis; and Dracontius, bishop of Pergamus. Although they differed in opinion from these prelates, yet they did not assign dissimilarity of religious sentiment as the cause of their deposition, but merely stated, in general terms, that they had disturbed the peace and violated the laws of the church. They specified, in particular, that when the presbyter Diogenes was travelling from Alexandria to Ancyra, Basil seized his papers, and struck him; they also deposed that Basil had unjustly delivered over many of the clergy from Antioch, from the banks of the Euphrates, and from Cilicia, Galatia, and Asia, to the rulers of the provinces, to be exiled and subjected to cruel punishments; so that many had been loaded with chains, and compelled to bribe the soldiers who held them in custody not to ill use them. They added that, on one occasion, when the emperor had commanded Aetius and some of his followers to be conducted before Cecropius, that they might answer to him for various accusations laid to their charge, Basil recommended the person who was entrusted with the execution of this edict to act according to the dictates of his own judgment. They said that he wrote directions to Hermogenes, the prefect and governor of Syria, stating who were to be banished, and whither they were to be sent; and that, when the exiles were recalled by the emperor, he would not consent to their return, but opposed himself to the wishes of the rulers and of the priests. They further deposed that Basil had excited the clergy of Sirmium against Germanius; and that, although he stated in writing that he had admitted Germanius, Valens, and Ursacius into communion, he had placed them as criminals before the tribunal of the African bishops; and that, when taxed with this deed, he had denied it, and perjured himself; and that, when he was afterwards convicted, he strove to screen himself by sophistical reasoning. They added, that he had been the cause of contention and of seditions in Illyria, Italy, Africa, and in the Roman church; that he had thrown a servant into prison to compel her to bear false witness against her mistress; that he had baptised a man of loose life, who lived in illicit intercourse with a woman, and had promoted him to be a deacon; that he had neglected to excommunicate a man who had occasioned the death of several persons; and that he and some of the clergy had bound themselves by oath before the holy altar, not to bring accusations against each other. This, they said, was an artifice adopted by the clergy to shield themselves from the condemnation they deserved. In short, such were the reasons they specified for the deposition of Basil. Eustathius, they said, was deposed because, when a presbyter, he had been condemned, and put away from the communion of prayers by Eulalius, his own father, who was bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia; and, also, because he had been excommunicated by a council held at Neocæsarea, a city of Pontus, and deposed by Eusebius, bishop of Constantinople, for unfaithfulness in the discharge of certain duties that had devolved upon him. He had also been deprived of his bishopric by the Council of Gangres on account of his having believed, taught, and acted contrary to sound doctrine. He had been convicted of perjury by the Council of Antioch. He had likewise endeavoured to reverse the decrees of the bishops convened at Melitina; and, although he was guilty of many crimes, had the assurance to aspire to be judge over the others, and to stigmatize them as heretics. They deposed Eleusius because he had raised one Heraclius, a native of Tyre, to be a deacon; this man had been a priest of Hercules at Tyre, had been accused of sorcery, and had retired to Cyzicus and feigned conversion to Christianity; and moreover, Eleusius, after having been apprised of these circumstances, had not excommunicated him. He had also rashly ordained certain individuals who had been condemned by Maris, bishop of Chalcedonia, who was present at this council. Heortasius was deposed because He had been ordained bishop of Sardis without the sanction of the bishops of Lydia. They deposed Dracontius, bishop of Pergamus, because he had previously held another bishopric in Galatia, and because, they stated, he had on both occasions been unlawfully ordained. After these transactions, a second assembly of the Council was held, and Silvanus, bishop of Tarsus, Sophronius, bishop of Pompeiopolis in Paphlagonia, Elpidus, bishop of Satalis, and Neonas, bishop of Seleucia in Isauria, were deposed. The reason they assigned for the deposition of Silvanus was, that he had constituted himself the leader of a party, and had deceived many in Seleucia and Constantinople: he had, besides, bestowed the bishopric of Castabalis on Theophilus, who had been previously ordained bishop of Eleutheropolis by the bishops of Palestine, and who had promised upon oath that he would never accept any other bishopric without their permission. Sophronius was deposed on account of his avarice, and on account of his having sold some of the offerings presented to the church, for his own profit; besides, after he had received three commands to appear before the council, he could, at last, be scarcely induced to make his appearance, and then, instead of replying to the accusations brought against him, he appealed to other judges. Neonas was deposed for having resorted to violence in his endeavours to procure the ordination in his own church of Annian, who had been appointed bishop of Antioch, and for having ordained as bishops certain individuals who had previously been decemviri, and who were utterly ignorant of the Holy Scriptures and of ecclesiastical canons, and who, after their ordination, preferred the enjoyment of their property to that of the priestly dignity, and declared in writing that they would rather take charge of their own possessions, than devote themselves exclusively to episcopal duties. Elpidus was deposed because he had participated in the mal-practices of Basil, and had occasioned great disorders, and because he had, contrary to the decrees of the Council of Melitina, restored to his former rank in the presbytery a man named Eusebius, who had been deposed for having created Nectaria a deaconess, after she had been excommunicated on account of perjury; and to confer this honour upon her was clearly contrary to the laws of the Church.








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