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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

AT this period, many of the disciples of Antony the Great still flourished in the solitude of Scetis. Origen, who was then far advanced in life, Didymus, Cronins, who was about one hundred and ten years of age, Arsisius the Great, Putubastes, Arsio, and Serapion, had all been contemporary with Antony the Great. They had grown old in the exercises of asceticism, and were at this period presiding over the monasteries. There were some holy men among them who were not so far advanced in age, but who were celebrated for their great and excellent qualities; among these were Ammon, Eusebius, and Dioscorus: they were brothers; but, on account of their height of stature, were called the “Great Brothers.” It is said that Ammon attained the height of philosophy, and overcame the love of ease and pleasure; he was very studious, and had read the works of Origen, of Didymus, and of other ecclesiastical writers. From his youth to the day of his death, he never tasted anything, with the exception of bread, that had been prepared by means of fire. He was once chosen to be ordained bishop, and after urging every argument that could be devised in rejection of the honour, but in vain, he cut off one of his ears, and said to those who were besieging him with their importunities, “Henceforward I am excluded from ordination; for the ecclesiastical canons require that the person of a priest should be perfect.” Those who had been sent for him accordingly departed; but, on ascertaining that the Church does not observe the Jewish law, in requiring a priest to be perfect in all his members, but merely requires him to be irreprehensible in point of morals, they returned to Ammon, and endeavoured to take him by force. He protested to them that, if they attempted any violence against him, he would cut out his tongue; and, terrified at this menace, they immediately took their departure. Ammon was ever after surnamed Parstides. Some time afterwards, during the ensuing reign, the wise Evagrius formed an intimacy with him. Evagrius was a very learned man, powerful in thought and in word, and skilful in discerning the first appearances of virtue and of vice, and in urging others to imitate the one, and to eschew the other. His eloquence is fully attested by the works he has left behind him. With respect to his moral character, it appears that he was totally free from all pride or superciliousness, so that he was not elated when just commendations were awarded him, nor displeased when unjust reproaches were brought against him. He was a native of Iberia, near the Euxine; he had studied philosophy and the Sacred Scriptures under Gregory bishop of Nazianzen, and had filled the office of archdeacon in the church of Gregory at Constantinople. He was handsome in person, and careful in his mode of attire; and hence, an acquaintanceship he had formed with a certain lady excited the jealousy of her husband, who determined upon slaying him. While the assassins were waiting for an opportunity to take his life, God vouchsafed to show him a vision, which was the means of saving him. It appeared to him that he had been arrested in the act of committing some crime, and that he was chained hand and foot: as he was being led before the magistrates, to receive the sentence of condemnation, a man who held in his hand the book of the Holy Gospels, addressed him, and swore to rescue him, provided he would promise to quit the city. Evagrius touched the book, and gave the required promise: immediately his chains appeared to fall off, and he awoke. Having received this timely intimation of danger, he was enabled to evade it. He resolved upon devoting himself to a life of asceticism, and proceeded from Constantinople to Jerusalem. Some time after, he went to visit the ascetics of Scetis, with whom he eventually fixed his abode.








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