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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

THE controversy would most likely have been terminated had it not been renewed by Theophilus himself, from inimical feelings against Ammon, Dioscorus, Eusebius, and Euthymius, who were called “the great.” They were brothers, and as we have before stated, rendered themselves very conspicuous among the ascetics at Scetis. They were at one period beloved by Theophilus above all the other monks of Egypt; he sought their society, and frequently dwelt with them. He even conferred on Dioscorus the bishopric of Hermopolis. But from the time of his attempt to ordain Isidore as successor to Nectarius, in the bishopric of Constantinople, he had regarded them with hatred. Some say, that a woman, belonging to the Manichean sect, having been converted to the faith of the Catholic Church, Theophilus rebuked the arch-presbyter (towards whom he had other reasons for entertaining resentful feelings), because he had admitted her to participate in the sacred mysteries before she had abjured her former heresy. Peter, for this was the name of the arch-presbyter, maintained that he had received the woman into communion according to the laws of the church, and at the consent of Theophilus; and referred to Isidore, as a witness to the truth of what he deposed. Isidore happened to be then at Rome; but on his return, he testified that the assertions of Peter were true. Theophilus resented this avowal, and ejected both him and Peter from the church. Such is the account given by some persons of the transaction. I have, however, heard it alleged by a man of undoubted veracity, who was very intimate with the monks above-mentioned, that the enmity of Theophilus towards Isidore originated from two causes. One of these causes was identical with that specified by Peter the presbyter, namely, that he had refused to attest the existence of a testament in which the inheritance was entailed on the sister of Theophilus: the other cause alleged by this individual was, that Isidore refused to give up certain monies that had been confided to him for the relief of the poor, and which Theophilus wished to appropriate to the erection of churches; and told his bishop, that it would be far better to apply the money to the relief of the bodies of the sick, which are the temples of God, than to the building of edifices. But from whatever cause the enmity of Theophilus might have originated, Isidore, immediately after his excommunication, joined his former companions, the monks at Scetis. Ammon, with a few others, then repaired to Theophilus, and entreated him to restore Isidore to communion. Theophilus readily promised to do as they requested; but as time passed away, and his promise still remained unfulfilled, they again repaired to him, renewed their entreaties, and pressed him to be faithful to his engagement. Instead of complying, Theophilus thrust one of the monks into prison, for the purpose of intimidating the others. Ammon and all the monks then went to the prison, into which they were readily admitted by the gaoler, who imagined that they had come to bring provisions to the prisoner; but having once obtained admission, they refused to leave the prison. When Theophilus heard of their voluntary confinement, he sent to desire them to come to him. They replied, that he ought to take them out of prison himself, for it was not just, after having been subjected to public indignity, that they should be privately released from confinement. At length, however, they yielded, and went to him. Theophilus apologised for what had occurred, and dismissed them as if he had no further intention of molesting them; but he retained in secret the utmost resentment against them, and studied the most efficient means of injuring them. He was in doubt, however, as to how he could ill-treat them, as they had no possessions, and despised every thing but wisdom, until it occurred to him, to disturb the peace of their retirement. From his former intercourse with them he had gathered that they blamed those who believe that God has a human form, and that they adhered to the opinions of Origen; he therefore seized this pretext to set all the other monks, who maintained contrary doctrines, at variance with them. A furious dispute ensued among the monks; for instead of resorting to argument, and striving to convince each other of the truth, they mutually insulted each other, and gave the name of Origenists to those who maintained the incorporeality of the Deity, while those who held the opposite opinion were called Anthropomorphists.








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