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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

JOHN having been informed that many of the bishops of Asia and of the neighbouring churches were unworthy of their office, and that they sold the priesthood for money, or bestowed that dignity as a matter of private favour, repaired to Ephesus, and deposed thirteen bishops of Lycia, Phrygia, and Asia, and elected others in their stead. The bishop of Ephesus was dead, and he therefore ordained Heraclides over that church. Heraclides was a native of Cyprus, and was one of the deacons under John: he had formerly joined the monks at Scetis, and had been the disciple of Evagrius. John also deposed Gerontius, bishop of Nicomedia. This latter was a deacon under Ambrosius, of the church of Milan: he declared, either with an intention to deceive others, or because he had been himself deceived by some illusion of the devil, that he had seized a quadruped resembling an ass (ὀνοσκελίς) by night, had cut off its head, and flung it into a grinding-house. Ambrose regarded this mode of discourse as utterly unworthy of a servant of God, and commanded Gerontius to remain in seclusion until he had expiated his fault by repentance. Gerontius, however, was a very skilful physician; he was eloquent and persuasive, and knew well how to gain friends; he therefore ridiculed the command of Ambrose, and repaired to Constantinople. In a short time, he obtained the friendship of the most powerful men at court; and, not long after, was elevated to the bishopric of Nicomedia. He was ordained by Helladius, bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, who performed this office the more readily for him because he had been instrumental, through his interest at court, in obtaining a high appointment in the army for his son. When Ambrose heard of this ordination, he wrote to Nectarius, bishop of Constantinople, desiring him to eject Gerontius from the priesthood, and not to permit the discipline of the church to be violated by such gross abuses. However desirous Nectarius might have been to obey this injunction, he could never succeed in carrying it into effect, owing to the determined resistance of the people of Nicomedia. John deposed Gerontius, and ordained Pansophius, who had formerly been preceptor to the wife of the emperor, and who, though a man of decided piety and of a mild and gentle disposition, was not liked by the Nicomedians. They arose in sedition, and declaimed publicly and privately on the charity and beneficence of Gerontius, and on the benefits which all classes, rich and poor, had enjoyed from his skill in medicine; and, as is usual when we applaud those we love, they ascribed many other virtues to him. They went about the streets of Nicomedia and Constantinople as if some earthquake, or pestilence, or other visitation of Divine wrath had occurred, and sang psalms, and offered supplications that they might have Gerontius for their bishop. They were at length compelled to yield to necessity, and parted most reluctantly with Gerontius, receiving in his stead a bishop whom they regarded with fear and aversion. The bishops who had been deposed and all their followers declaimed against John, and alleged that he had violated the laws of the church, and set aside ordinations which had been legally conferred; and, in the excess of their resentment, they condemned deeds which were worthy of commendation. Among other matters, they reproached him with the proceedings that had been taken against Eutropius.








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