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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

WHEN Julian found himself sole possessor of the empire, he commanded that all the Pagan temples should be re-opened throughout the East, that those which had been neglected should be repaired, that those which had fallen into ruins should be rebuilt, and that the altars should be restored. He assigned money for this purpose; he restored the customs of antiquity, and the practice of offering sacrifice. He himself offered libations and sacrifices in the temples, bestowed honours on those who were zealous in the performance of these ceremonies, re-established the priests and ministers of idols in the enjoyment of their former privileges, and exempted them from the payment of public taxes; he revived the pensions formerly granted to those who guarded the temples, and commanded them to abstain from certain meats, and from whatever the Pagans represented as inimical to purity. He also commanded that the admeasurements of the Nile and the symbols should be conveyed according to ancient usage to the temple of Serapis, instead of being deposited, according to the regulations established by Constantine, in the church. He wrote frequently to the inhabitants of those cities in which the observance of Pagan rites was retained, and urged them to proffer any request that they might desire. Towards the Christians, on the contrary, he openly manifested his aversion, refusing to honour them with his presence, to give audience to their deputies, or to listen to their complaints. When the inhabitants of Nisibis sent to implore his aid against the Persians, who were on the point of invading the Roman territories, he refused to assist them because they would neither re-open their temples nor resort to the priests; he would not receive their embassy, and threatened that he would never visit their city until they returned to Paganism. He likewise accused the inhabitants of Constantius in Palestine of attachment to Christianity, and rendered their city tributary to that of Gaza. Constantius was formerly called Majuma, and was used as a harbour for the vessels of Gaza; but, on hearing that the majority of its inhabitants were Christians, Constantine conferred on it the name of his own son, and a separate form of government; for he considered that it ought not to be dependant on Gaza, a city addicted to Pagan rites. On the accession of Julian, the citizens of Gaza went to law against those of Constantius. The emperor decided in favour of Gaza, and commanded that Constantius should be an appendage to that city, although it was situated at a distance of twenty stadia. It has since been denominated the maritime region of Gaza, The two cities have now merged into one, under the same magistrates, chiefs, and public regulations. With respect to ecclesiastical concerns, however, they may still be regarded as two cities. They have each their own bishop and their own clergy; they celebrate festivals in honour of their respective martyrs, and in memory of the priests who successively ruled them; and the boundaries by which the jurisdiction of the bishops are divided are still preserved. It happened within our own remembrance that an attempt was made by the bishop of Gaza, on the death of the bishop of Majuma, to unite the clergy of that town with those under his own jurisdiction, and the plea he advanced was, that two bishops were not required to rule over one city. The inhabitants of Majuma opposed this scheme, and the council of the province took cognizance of the dispute, and ordained another bishop. The council proceeded upon the assumption that it would be unjust to set aside the ecclesiastical privileges of a city which had been deprived of its civil rights by the edict of a Pagan emperor, merely on account of its adherence to the laws of the church. But these events occurred at a later period than that now under review.








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