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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

SOME time after the emperor again visited Cappadocia, and found that Eusebius was dead, and that the bishopric had been transferred to Basil. He thought of expelling him from this office, but was compelled to abandon his intention. It is said that the night after he had formed his plans, his wife was disturbed by a frightful dream, and that his only son Galates was about the same time cut off by a rapid disease. The death of this prince was universally attributed to the wrath of God on account of the machinations that had been carried on against Basil. Valens himself was of this opinion, and after the death of his son, offered no further molestation to the bishop. When the prince was sinking under the disease, and at the point of death, the emperor sent for Basil, and requested him to pray to God for his son’s recovery. For as soon as Valens had arrived at Cæsarea, the prefect had sent for Basil, and commanded him to embrace the religious sentiments of the emperor, menacing him with death in case of non-compliance. Basil replied, that it would be great gain to him to be delivered from the bondage of the body, and that he should consider himself under obligation to whoever would free him from that bondage. The prefect gave him the rest of that day and the approaching night for deliberation, and advised him not to rush imprudently into obvious and imminent danger. “I do not require to deliberate,” replied Basil. “My determination will be the same to-morrow as it is to-day. Never will I worship the creature, or recognise the creature as God; neither will I conform to your religion, nor to that of the emperor. Although your power may be great, and although you have the honour of ruling no inconsiderable a portion of the empire, yet I ought not on these accounts to seek to please men, and at the same time deviate from that divine faith which neither exile, proscription, nor death, have ever impelled me to abjure. Inflictions of this nature have never excited in my mind one pang of sorrow. I possess nothing but a cloak and a few books. I dwell on the earth as a traveller. As to bodily tortures, the weakness of my constitution is such, that I should triumph over them on the first application of the rack.” The prefect admired the courage evinced in this bold reply, and communicated the circumstance to the emperor. On the festival of the Epiphany, the emperor repaired to the church, with the rulers and his guards, presented gifts at the altar, and held a conference with Basil, whose wisdom and gravity of deportment strongly excited his admiration. Not long after, however, the calumny of his enemies prevailed, and Basil was condemned to banishment. On the night previous to the execution of the edict, the son of the emperor fell ill with a dangerous and malignant fever. The father prostrated himself on the earth, and wept over the calamity; and not knowing what other measures to take towards effecting the recovery of his son, he despatched some of his attendants to Basil, whom he feared to summon himself, on account of the injustice he had manifested towards him. Immediately on the arrival of Basil, the prince began to rally; so that many maintain that his recovery would have been complete, had not some heretics been summoned to pray with Basil for his restoration. It is said that the prefect, likewise, fell ill; but that on his repentance, and on prayer being offered to God, he was restored to health. The instances above adduced are quite inadequate to convey an idea of the wonderful endowments of Basil: his austerity of life and astonishing powers of eloquence attracted great celebrity.








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