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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

A QUESTION was at this period agitated in Egypt, which had been propounded a short time previously, namely, whether it is right to believe that God possesses a corporeal nature. Owing to a too liberal and simple mode of interpreting Scripture, most of the monks of that part of the world supposed that God possesses eyes, a face and hands, and other members of the bodily organization. This position, however, was denied by those who searched into the hidden meaning of the words of Scripture; and they maintained that those who denied the incorporeality of God were guilty of blasphemy. This latter opinion was espoused by Theophilus, and preached by him in the church; and in the epistle which, according to custom, he wrote respecting the celebration of the passover, he took occasion to state, that God is to be regarded as incorporeal, and as bearing no resemblance to the human form. When it was signified to the Egyptian monks that Theophilus had broached these sentiments, they went to Alexandria, assembled the people together, excited a tumult, and determined upon slaying the bishop as an impious man. Theophilus, however, presented himself to the insurgents, and said to them, “When I look upon you, it is as if I beheld the face of God.” This address mollified their resentment, and they replied: “Wherefore, then, if you really hold orthodox doctrines, do you not denounce the books of Origen, which set forth doctrine of an opposite tendency?” “Such has long been my intention,” replied he, “and I shall do as you advise; for I blame as much as you do all those who follow the doctrines of Origen.” By these means he deluded the monks, and quelled the sedition.








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