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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

ARIANISM met with similar opposition at the same period in Osröene and Cappadocia. Basil bishop of Cæsarea, and Gregory bishop of Nazianzen, were held in high admiration and esteem throughout these regions. Syria and the neighbouring provinces, and more especially the city of Antioch, were plunged in confusion and disorder; for the Arians were very numerous in these parts, and had possession of the churches. The members of the Catholic Church were not, however, few in number. They were called Eustathians and Paulinists, and were under the guidance of Paulinus and Meletius, as has been before stated. It was through their instrumentality that the church of Antioch was preserved from the encroachments of the Arians, and enabled to resist the power of Valens, and of those who acted under his directions. Indeed, it appears that all the churches which were governed by men who were firmly attached to the faith did not deviate from the form of doctrine they had originally embraced. It is said that this was the cause of the firmness with which the Scythians adhered to their religion. There are in this country a great number of cities, of towns, and of fortresses. The metropolis is called Tomis; it is a large and opulent city, and lies to the left of the Euxine. According to an ancient custom which still prevails, all the churches of the whole country are under the sway of one bishop. Vetranio ruled over these churches at the period that the emperor visited Tomis. Valens repaired to the church, and strove, according to his usual custom, to gain over the bishop to the heresy of Arius; but this latter manfully opposed his arguments; and, after a courageous defence of the Nicene doctrines, quitted the emperor, and proceeded to another church, whither he was followed by the people. All the citizens had crowded to see the emperor; for they expected that something extraordinary would result from his interview with the bishop. Valens was extremely offended at being left alone in the church with his attendants; and, in resentment, condemned Vetranio to banishment. Not long after, however, he recalled him, because, I believe, he apprehended an insurrection; for the Scythians openly deplored the absence of their bishop. He well knew that the Scythians were a courageous nation, and that their country possessed many natural advantages, which rendered it necessary to the Roman empire; for it served as a barrier to ward off the invasions of the barbarians. Thus were the designs of the emperor frustrated by Vetranio. The Scythians themselves testify to the virtues of this bishop, and to his eminent sanctity of life. The resentment of the emperor at the defeat of his schemes was visited upon all the clergy except those of the Western churches; for Valentinian, who reigned over the Western regions, was attached to the Nicene doctrines, and was imbued with so much reverence for religion, that he never imposed any commands upon the priests, nor ever attempted to introduce any alteration in ecclesiastical regulations. Whatever might have been his capabilities for guiding the reins of empire (as, indeed, was evidenced by his deeds) he considered that ecclesiastical matters were beyond the range of his jurisdiction.








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