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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

IMMEDIATELY after the death of Constantius, the dread of a persecution arose in the church, and Christians suffered more anguish from the anticipation of this calamity than they would have experienced from its actual occurrence. This state of feeling proceeded from the long peace they had enjoyed, from the remembrance of the cruelties which had been exercised by the tyrants upon their fathers, and from their knowledge of the hatred with which Julian regarded their doctrines. It is said that he renounced the faith of Christ with the utmost profanity, and had recourse to sacrifices and sanguinary expiations to efface his baptism, and wipe away from himself the sacrament of the church. From that period he employed himself in auguries, and in the celebration of the Pagan rites, both publicly and privately. It is related, that one day, as he was inspecting the entrails of a victim, he beheld among them a cross encompassed with a crown. This appearance terrified those who were assisting in the ceremony; for they judged that it indicated the triumph of religion, and the eternal duration of the doctrines of Christianity; they considered that the crown is in itself the symbol of victory, and that, as it encircled the cross, and returned as it were into itself without beginning or end, it typified eternity. The chief augur, however, tried to re-assure the emperor, by insisting that no unfavourable omens were indicated by the appearance of the entrails; but that, on the contrary, it might be thence inferred that the Christian sect would be confined within very narrow limits, beyond which all extension would be impossible. I have also heard, that one day Julian descended into a noted and terrific cavern, either for the purpose of participating in some ceremony, or of consulting an oracle, and that, by means of machinery, or of enchantment, such frightful spectres appeared before him, that, losing all reflection and presence of mind, he thoughtlessly made the sign of the cross, according to the custom of Christians in time of danger. Immediately the spectres disappeared, and the ceremony was arrested. The officiating priest was at first surprised at the disappearance of the spectres, but when apprised of the cause, he declared that it was a profanation, and after exhorting the emperor not to fear, or to have recourse to anything connected with the Christian religion, he re-commenced the ceremony.

The extravagant attachment which Julian evinced towards the Pagan rites was extremely displeasing to the Christians, more especially on account of his having been himself formerly a Christian. He was born of pious parents, had been baptised in infancy according to the custom of the church, and had been brought up in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures under the guidance of priests and bishops. He and Gallus were the sons of Constantius, the brother of Constantine the emperor, and of Dalmatius. Dalmatius had a son of the same name, who was declared Cæsar, and was slain by the soldiery after the death of Constantius. His fate would have been shared by Gallus and Julian, who were then orphans, had not Gallus been spared on account of a disease under which lie was labouring, and which appeared to be hopeless; and Julian, on account of his extreme youth, for he was but eight years of age. After this wonderful preservation, a residence was assigned to the two brothers in a palace called Macella, situated in Cappadocia, near Mount Argeus, and not far from Cæsarea; it was a magnificent edifice, and adorned with gardens, baths, and fountains. Here they were educated in a manner corresponding to the dignity of their birth; they were taught the sciences and bodily exercises befitting their age, and had masters to instruct them in sacred and in profane literature. Such was their progress, that they were enrolled among the clergy, and permitted to read the ecclesiastical books to the people. Their habits and mode of life indicated no dereliction from piety. They respected the clergy and other good and zealous persons, they repaired regularly to church, and rendered due homage to the tombs of the martyrs. It is said that they undertook to deposit the tomb of St. Mammas the martyr in a large edifice, and to perform all the labour themselves, and that while they were, in emulation of the martyr, labouring to surpass him in piety, an event occurred which was so astonishing that it would indeed be utterly incredible, were it not for the testimony of many who are still among us, and who were eye-witnesses of the transaction. The part of the edifice upon which Gallus laboured advanced rapidly, as might have been expected, towards completion; but the portion upon which Julian laboured fell into ruin; in one part the stones were detached from the foundations, and in another the foundations themselves were forced from the earth, as if ejected by some secret power. This was universally regarded as a prodigy. The people, however, drew no conclusion from it till subsequent events had manifested its import. There were a few who, from that moment, doubted the reality of Julian’s religion, and suspected that he only made an outward profession of religion for fear of displeasing the emperor, and that he concealed his own sentiments because it was not safe to divulge them. It is asserted that he was first led to renounce the religion of his fathers by his intimacy and intercourse with diviners; for when the resentment of Constantius against the two brothers was abated, Gallus went to Asia, and took up his residence in Ephesus, where the greater part of his property was situated, and Julian repaired to Constantinople, and frequented the schools, where his natural abilities and great acquirements did not remain concealed. He appeared in public in the garb of a private individual, and was sociable and easy of access: but because he was related to the emperor, and was capable of holding the reins of empire, and because many expected him to succeed to the imperial dignity, and publicly expressed their wishes to this effect, he was commanded to leave this populous city, and retire to Nicomedia. Here he became acquainted with Maximus, an Ephesian philosopher, who instructed him in philosophy, and inspired him with hatred towards the Christian religion; and moreover, assured him that he would one day attain to empire, whither his own hopes and the wishes of the people already tended. Julian was gratified and cheered, in the midst of his adverse circumstances, by this announcement, and contracted an intimate friendship with Maximus. As these occurrences reached the ears of Constantius, Julian became apprehensive of receiving ill-treatment, and accordingly shaved himself, and adopted externally the monkish mode of life, while he secretly abandoned himself to Pagan superstitions. When he arrived at the age of manhood, his infatuation for Paganism increased; and admiring the art (if there be such an art) of predicting the future, he endeavoured to make himself acquainted with it, and in his researches had recourse to experiments from which Christians are prohibited. From this period, he manifested great regard towards those who held Pagan sentiments; and after his arrival in Egypt he addicted himself with incredible ardour to superstitious observances.

When Gallus, his brother, who had been surnamed Cæsar, was put to death on account of certain innovations which he designed to introduce into the empire, Julian incurred the suspicion of Constantius, who imagined that he was aiming at the possession of imperial power, and therefore put him under the custody of guards. Eusebia, the wife of Constantius, obtained for him permission to retire to Athens, and he accordingly repaired thither, and under pretence of receiving instruction from the philosophers, he consulted diviners concerning his future prospects. Constantius recalled him shortly afterwards, proclaimed him Cæsar, promised him his sister Constantia in marriage, and sent him to Gaul, where the barbarians, whose aid had been implored by Constantius against Magnentius, finding that their services were not required, had fixed their residence. As Julian was very young, generals, in whom the chief responsibility was vested, were sent with him; but as these generals abandoned themselves to indolence and inaction, Julian assumed the entire conduct of the expedition, used every means to animate the courage of his soldiers, and encouraged them more especially by promising a reward to all who should slay a barbarian. After he had thus secured the affections of the soldiery, he wrote to Constantius, acquainting him with the misconduct of the generals; and when, at his request, other generals were sent to take their place, he attacked the barbarians, and obtained the victory. They sent to beg for peace, and showed the letter in which Constantius had requested them to enter the Roman dominions; but instead of dismissing the ambassador, Julian detained him, and, seizing a favourable opportunity for giving battle, he gained another victory.

Some have imagined that Constantius sent Julian on this expedition for the express purpose of exposing him to danger; but this does not appear probable to me. For, as it rested with Constantius alone to nominate him Cæsar, why did he confer that title upon him, if he intended to take his life? or, why did he promise him his sister in marriage, or receive his complaints against the inefficiency of his generals, and send others to displace them? No doubt he was actuated by feelings of regard towards Julian, and by the desire that he should be successful in his expedition. It seems to me that he conferred on him the title of Cæsar from motives of attachment; but that, after Julian had, without his sanction, been proclaimed emperor, he was not averse to exposing him to the perils of the war against the barbarians who had possessed themselves of the banks of the Rhine; and this, I think, resulted from the dread that Julian would seek revenge for the ill-treatment he and his brother Gallus had experienced during their youth, as well as from the apprehension that he would aspire to participation in the government of the empire. But many various opinions are entertained on this subject.








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