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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

ACACIUS, who was at this period bishop of Berœa in Syria, rendered himself very conspicuous by his virtues. Many wonderful actions are ascribed to him. He was from his youth brought up to the profession of ascetic monasticism, and was rigid in observing all the regulations of this mode of life. When he was raised to the bishopric, he kept his house open at all hours of the day, so that the citizens and strangers were always free to enter, even when he was at meals or at repose. This course of conduct is, in my opinion, very admirable; it might have emanated from his perfect confidence in his own rectitude; or possibly he might have been led to seek the presence of others, in order to be always on his guard against those infirmities to which all men are liable, and perhaps from fear lest he should be unawares tempted to any action inconsistent with his profession.

Zeno and Ajax, two celebrated brothers, flourished about the same period. They devoted themselves to a life of monasticism, but did not fix their abode in the desert, but at Gaza, a maritime city in the territory of Majuma. They both defended the truth of their religion with invincible intrepidity, and confessed themselves to be Christians so repeatedly in the presence of the Pagans, that they were subjected to the most cruel treatment. It is said that Ajax married a very lovely woman, and after he had known her thrice, had three sons; and that subsequently he held no further intercourse with her, but persevered in the exercises of asceticism. He brought up two of his sons to the monastic profession, and the third, he permitted to marry. He governed the church of Botelion with great wisdom and piety.

Zeno, who had from his youth renounced the world and marriage, persevered in stedfast adherence to the service of God. It is said, and I myself am witness of the truth of the assertion, that when he was bishop of Majuma, he was never absent, morning or evening, or any other period, from the public worship of God, unless attacked by some malady, and yet he was at this period nearly a hundred years of age. After his elevation to the episcopal dignity, he did not relax in any of the exercises of monasticism, but by pursuing his trade of weaving linen, continued to earn the means of supplying his own wants and of providing for the poor. He never deviated from this course of conduct till the close of his life, although he attained, as I before said, a very advanced age, and although he presided over the richest and greatest church of the province.

I have advanced the examples of these bishops to show the high attainments possessed by those who ruled over the church at this period. It would be difficult to enumerate all the bishops who were distinguished in this manner; the majority of them were endowed with extraordinary virtues, and God bore testimony to this fact by granting their prayers and by working miracles on their behalf.








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