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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

SUCH are the details that have been transmitted concerning John. Not long after his death, and three years after the elevation of Atticus to the bishopric of Constantinople, and during the consulate of Bassus and Philip, Arcadius died. He left Theodosius his son, who was still an infant, as his successor to the empire. He also left three daughters of tender age, named Pulcheria, Arcadia, and Marina.

It appears to me that it was the design of God to show by the events of this period that piety alone suffices for the safety and prosperity of princes; and that without piety, armies, a powerful empire and political resources, are of no avail. He who alone regulates the affairs of the universe, foresaw that the young emperor would be distinguished by his piety, and therefore caused his education to be conducted by his sister Pulcheria. This princess was but fifteen years of age, but was endowed with astonishing wisdom and prudence. She devoted her virginity to God, and instructed her sisters to do likewise. To avoid all cause of scandal and opportunity for intrigue, she permitted no man to enter her palace. In confirmation of her resolution, she took God, the priests, and all the subjects of the Roman empire as witnesses of her self-dedication, and presented a table, elaborately adorned with gold and precious stones, to the church of Constantinople, in token of the life of virginity to which she and her sisters had devoted themselves; and a suitable inscription was carved on the table. She superintended with extraordinary wisdom the transactions of the Roman government; concerted her measures well, and allowed no delay to take place in their execution. She was able to write and to converse with perfect accuracy in the Greek and Latin languages. She caused all affairs to be transacted in the name of her brother, and devoted great attention to furnishing him with such information as was suitable to his years. She employed masters to instruct him in horsemanship and the use of arms, and in literature and science. But he was taught how to maintain a deportment befitting an emperor by his sister; she showed him how to gather up his robes, and how to take a seat; and taught him to refrain from ill-timed laughter, to assume a mild or a formidable aspect as the occasion might require, and to enquire with urbanity into the cases of those who came before him with petitions. But she chiefly strove to imbue his mind with piety and with the love of prayer; she taught him to frequent the church regularly, and to be zealous in contributing to the embellishment of houses of prayer; and she inspired him with reverence for priests and other good men, and for those who, in accordance with the law of Christianity, had devoted themselves to philosophical asceticism. Many troubles which would have been excited in the church at this period by the influence of erroneous opinions, were averted by her zeal and vigilance. It is mainly owing to her prudence, as we shall have occasion to show in the after part of this history, that we are at the present time preserved from new heresies. It would take a long time to describe the magnificent houses of prayer which she erected, the hospitals for the relief of the poor and of strangers which she founded, and the monastical establishments which she endowed. If any one should doubt my statements, and desire to enquire into their truth, He will discover that I have been guilty neither of falsehood nor of partiality, if he will examine the registers kept by the treasurers of the princess. If these proofs suffice not to convince him of the truth, let him believe the testimony vouchsafed by God himself; for he heard and answered her prayers, and on many occasions bestowed on her the knowledge of future events. Such indications of Divine love are not conferred upon men unless they have merited them by their good works. But I must pass over in silence the manifestations of Divine favour that were granted to the sister of the emperor, lest I should be condemned as a mere panegyrist. One incident relating to her is, however, so connected with my history, that I shall now proceed to detail it, although it did not occur till a period subsequent to that which we are now reviewing.








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