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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

WHILE these disputations were being carried on, certain of the Pagan philosophers became desirous of taking part in them; some, because they wished for information as to the doctrine that was inculcated, and others, because, feeling incensed against the Christians on account of the recent suppression of the Pagan religion, they wished to stigmatize them with engaging in strife about words, and to introduce dissensions among them. It is related that one of these philosophers, priding himself on his acknowledged superiority of eloquence, began to ridicule the priests, and thereby roused the indignation of a simple old man, highly esteemed as a confessor, who, although unskilled in the arts of reasoning and debating, undertook to oppose him. The less serious of those who knew the confessor, raised a laugh at his expense for engaging in such an undertaking, but the more thoughtful felt anxious lest, in opposing so eloquent a man, he should only render himself ridiculous; yet his influence was so great, and his reputation so high among them, that they could not forbid his engaging in the debate; and he accordingly delivered himself in the following terms. “In the name of Jesus Christ, O philosopher, hearken to me. There is one God, the Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. He made all things by the power of the Word, and established them by the holiness of His Spirit. The Word, whom we call the Son of God, seeing that man was sunk in error and living like unto the beasts, pitied him, and vouchsafed to be born of a woman, to hold intercourse with men, and to die for them. And He will come again to judge each of us as to the deeds of this present life. We believe these things to be true with all simplicity. Do not, therefore, expend your labour in vain by striving to disprove facts which can only be understood by faith, or by scrutinizing the manner in which these things did or did not come to pass. Answer me, dost thou believe?” The philosopher, astonished at what had transpired, replied, “I believe;” and having thanked the old man for having overcome him in argument, he began to teach the same doctrines to others. He exhorted those who still held his former sentiments, to adopt the views he had embraced, assuring them on oath that he had been impelled to embrace Christianity by a certain inexplicable impulse.

It is said that a similar miracle was performed by Alexander, bishop of Constantinople. When Constantine returned to Byzantium, certain philosophers came to him to complain of the innovations in religion, and particularly of his having introduced a new form of worship into the empire, contrary to that followed by his forefathers, and by all who were formerly in power, whether among the Greeks or the Romans. They likewise desired to hold a disputation on the doctrine with Alexander the bishop; and he, although unaccustomed to the art of debating, accepted the challenge at the command of the emperor; for he was a good and virtuous man, and was supported by the consciousness of his integrity. When the philosophers were assembled, and prepared to engage in the discussion, he requested that one might be chosen as spokesman, while the others were to remain silent. When one of the philosophers began to open the debate, Alexander said to him, “I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ, not to speak.” The man was instantaneously silenced. Surely it is a greater miracle that a man, and that man a philosopher, should be struck dumb thus easily, than that a stone wall should be cleft by the power of a word, which miracle I have heard some attribute with pride to Julian, surnamed the Chaldean.








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