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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

THE Arians, who were still very strong in point of numbers, and who, through the protection formerly granted by Constantius and Valens, were still permitted to hold their assemblies, and discourse publicly concerning God and the Divine nature, now determined upon making an attempt to gain over the emperor to their party, through the intervention of individuals of their sect who held appointments at court; and they entertained hopes of succeeding in this project as well as they had succeeded in the case of Constantius. These machinations excited great terror among the members of the Catholic Church, but the chief cause of their apprehension was the eloquence of Eunomius. It appears that during the reign of Valens, Eunomius had some dispute with the clergy of Cyzicus, and had in consequence seceded from the Arians, and retired to Bithynia, near Constantinople; here multitudes resorted to him, some with the design of testing his principles, and others merely from the desire of listening to his discourses. His reputation reached the ears of the emperor, who would gladly have held a conference with him; but the Empress Flacilla studiously prevented any interview from taking place between them, for she was strenuously attached to the Nicene doctrines, and feared lest Eunomius might by his powers of disputation, induce a change in the sentiments of the emperor.

In the meantime, while these intrigues were being carried on by each party, it is said that the bishops then residing in Constantinople went to the emperor to render him the customary salutations. An old bishop who presided over a city of little note, and who was simple and unworldly, yet well instructed in Divine subjects, formed one of this party. He went through precisely the same forms as the others in reverentially saluting the emperor. But instead of rendering equal honor to the prince who was seated beside his father, the old priest approached him, patted him familiarly, and called him his clear child. The emperor was deeply incensed at this indignity being offered to his son, and commanded that the old man should be thrust from his presence. While being led away, however, the old bishop turned round, and exclaimed, “Reflect, O emperor, on the wrath of the Heavenly Father against those who do not honor His Son as Himself, and who have the audacity to assert that the Son is inferior to the Father.” The emperor felt the force of this observation, re-called the priest, apologized to him for what had occurred, and confessed that he had spoken the truth. The emperor was henceforward less disposed to hold intercourse with heretics; and he enacted I a law by which he prohibited, under the severest penalties, all public disputes, assemblies, or disputations concerning the Divine substance and nature.








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