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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

AT the period that Eudoxius obtained the government of the church of Constantinople, there were many aspirants to the bishopric of Antioch; and, as is frequently the case under such circumstances, discord and contention divided the clergy and the people of that church. Each party was anxious to commit the government of the church to a bishop of its own persuasion; for interminable disputes concerning doctrine were rampant among them, and they could not agree as to the mode of singing psalms; and, as has been before stated, psalms were sung by each individual, in conformity with his own peculiar creed. Such being the state of the church of Antioch, the partizans of Eudoxius thought that it would be well to entrust the bishopric of that city to Meletius, then bishop of Sebaste, he being possessed of great and persuasive eloquence, of eminent virtue, and above all, as they imagined, being firmly attached to their tenets. They believed that his fame would attract the inhabitants of Antioch and of the neighbouring cities to conform to their heresy; particularly the sectarians called Eustathians, who had invariably adhered to the Nicene doctrines. But their expectations were utterly frustrated. It is said that, on his first arrival in Antioch, an immense multitude, composed of Arians, and of those who were in communion with Paulinus, flocked around him. Some were drawn by curiosity, desiring to know whether his merits were equivalent to the great reputation he enjoyed; others were anxious to hear what he had to say, and to ascertain the nature of his opinions; for a report had been spread abroad, which was afterwards proved to be true, that he maintained the doctrines of the Council of Nicæa. In his first discourses, he confined himself to instructing the people in what we call ethics; afterwards, however, he openly declared that the Son is of the same substance as the Father. It is said that, at these words, the archdeacon of the church stretched out his hand, and covered the mouth of the preacher, but that he continued to explain his sentiments more clearly by means of his fingers than he could by language. He extended three fingers towards the people, closed them, and then allowed only one finger to remain extended, and thus expressed by signs what he was prevented from uttering. As the archdeacon freed his mouth, in order to seize his hand, he unfolded his doctrine with still greater perspicuity than before, and exhorted his auditors to adhere to the tenets of the Council of Nicæa, assuring them that they would deviate from the truth if they followed any other doctrines. As he persisted in the enunciation of the same sentiments, either by word of mouth, or by means of signs when the archdeacon closed his mouth, the followers of Eustathius testified their joy by loud acclamations, while the Arians gave evident proofs of dissatisfaction. Eudoxius and his partizans were transported with indignation at this discourse, and contrived by their machinations to expel Meletius from Antioch. Soon afterwards, however, they recalled him; for they fancied that he had renounced his former sentiments, and had espoused theirs. As, however, it soon became apparent that his devotion to the Nicene doctrines was firm and unalterable, he was ejected from the church, and banished by order of the emperor, and his bishopric was conferred on Euzoius, who had formerly been banished with Arius. The followers of Meletius separated themselves from the Arians, and held their assemblies apart; for those who had, from the beginning, maintained that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, refused to admit them into communion, because Meletius had been ordained by Arian bishops, and because his followers had been baptized by Arian priests. For these reasons, although united by the reception of one creed, they did not hold communion together.

The emperor, having been informed that an insurrection was about to arise in Persia, repaired to Antioch.








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