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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

LUCIUS went with the governor of Egypt and a band of soldiers against the monks in the desert; for he imagined that, if he could overcome their opposition by interrupting the tranquillity which they loved, he would meet with fewer obstacles in drawing over to his party the Christians who inhabited the cities. The monasteries of this country were governed by several individuals of eminent sanctity, who were strenuously opposed to the heresy of Arius. The people, who were neither able nor willing to enter upon the investigation of doctrinal questions, received their opinions from them, and thought with them; for they were persuaded that men whose virtue was manifested by their deeds were in possession of truth. We have heard that the leaders of these Egyptian ascetics were two men of the name of Macarius, of whom mention has been already made, Pambonius and Heraclides, and other disciples of Antony. On reflecting that the Arians could never succeed in establishing an ascendancy over the Catholic Church, unless the monks could be drawn over to their party, Lucius determined to have recourse to force to compel the monks to side with him, all gentler measures having been attended with signal failure; but here again his schemes were frustrated; for the monks were prepared to fall by the sword rather than to swerve from the Nicene doctrines. It is related that, at the very time that the soldiers were about to attack them, a man whose limbs were withered, and who was unable to stand, was carried to them; and that, when they had anointed him with oil, and commanded him (in the name of Christ whom Lucius persecuted) to arise and go to his house, he was immediately restored to health and strength. This miraculous cure manifested the necessity of adopting the sentiments of those whose prayers were heard and answered by God, in opposition to the dogmas of Lucius: but the persecutors of the monks were not led to repentance by this miracle; on the contrary, they arrested these holy men, and conveyed them by night to an island of Egypt, lying in the midst of swamps and marshes. The inhabitants of this island had never heard of the Christian faith, and were devoted to the service of demons: the island contained many temples of great antiquity used for idolatrous purposes. It is said that, when the monks landed on the island, the daughter of the priest, who was possessed of a devil, went to meet them. The girl ran screaming towards them; and the people of the island, astonished at her strange conduct, followed in crowds. When she drew near the ship in which were the holy priests, she flung herself upon the ground, and exclaimed in a loud voice, “Wherefore are you come to us, O servants of the great God? for we have long dwelt in this island without giving trouble to any one. Unknown to men, we have concealed ourselves here, and shut up ourselves within these marshes. If, however, it please you, accept our possessions, and fix your abode here; we will quit the island.” Macarius and his companions exorcised the demon, and the girl was restored. Her father and all her house, with the inhabitants of the island, immediately embraced Christianity, and demolished their temple for the purpose of erecting a church. On these occurrences being reported at Alexandria, Lucius was overcome by immoderate grief; and fearing lest he should incur the hatred of his own partizans, and be accused of warring against God, and not against man, he sent secret orders for Macarius and his companions to be re-conveyed to their own dwellings in the wilderness. Thus did Lucius occasion troubles and commotions in Egypt. About the same period, Didymus the philosopher and several other illustrious men acquired great renown. Struck by their virtue, and by that of the monks, the people followed their doctrines, and opposed those of the partizans of Lucius. The Arians, though not so strong in point of numbers as the other party, grievously persecuted the church of Egypt.








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