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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

THE emperor, always intent on the advancement of religion, erected magnificent temples to God in every place, particularly in metropolises, such as Nicomedia in Bithynia, Antioch on the river Orontes, and Byzantium. He greatly improved this latter city, and made it equal to Rome in power and influence; for, when he had settled the affairs of the empire according to his own mind, and had freed himself from foreign foes, he resolved upon founding a city which should be called by his own name, and should be equal in celebrity to Rome. With this intention he repaired to a plain at the foot of Troy, near the Hellespont, above the tomb of Ajax, where, it is said, the Achaians entrenched themselves when besieging Troy; and here he laid the plan of a large and beautiful city, and built the gates on an elevated spot of ground, whence they are still visible from the sea to mariners. But when he had advanced thus far, God appeared to him by night, and commanded him to seek another site for his city. Led by the hand of God, he arrived at Byzantium in Thrace, beyond Chalcedon in Bithynia, and here he was desired to build his city, and to render it worthy of the name of Constantine. In obedience to the command of God, he therefore enlarged the city formerly called Byzantium, and surrounded it with high walls; he also erected magnificent dwelling houses, and being aware that the former population was insufficient for so great a city, he peopled it with men of rank and their households, Whom he summoned thither from Rome and from other countries. He imposed taxes to cover the expenses of building and adorning the city, and of supplying its inhabitants with food. He erected all requisite edifices, a hippodrome, fountains, porticoes, and other beautiful embellishments. He named it Constantinople and New Rome, and constituted it the Roman capital for all the inhabitants of the North, the South, the East, and the shores of the Mediterranean, from the cities on the Danube, and from Epidamnus and the Ionian Gulf, to Cyrene and that part of Lybia called Bonium. He created another senate, which he endowed with the same honours and privileges as that of Rome, and he sought to render the city which bore his name equal in every respect to that of Rome in Italy: nor were his wishes thwarted, for, by the assistance of God, it became the most populous and wealthy of cities. I know of no cause to account for this extraordinary aggrandizement, unless it be the piety of the builder and of the inhabitants, and their compassion and liberality towards the poor. The zeal they manifested for Christianity was so great that many of the Jewish inhabitants, and most of the Greeks, were converted. As this city became the capital of the empire during the period of religious prosperity, it was not polluted by altars, Grecian temples, nor sacrifices; and although Julian authorised the introduction of idolatry for a short space of time, it soon afterwards became extinct. Constantine further honoured this hew city of Christ by adorning it with numerous and magnificent houses of prayer, in which the Deity vouchsafed to bless the efforts of the emperor by giving sensible manifestations of His presence. According to the general opinion of foreigners and citizens, the most remarkable of these edifices was that built in a place called Hestiis, but since named Michaelius. This place lies to the right of those who navigate the Pontus to Constantinople, and is about thirty-five stadia distant from that city by water, but if you make the circuit of the bay, the distance is seventy stadia and upwards. It Is generally believed that Michael, the divine archangel, once appeared at this place, and hence its name. And I, too, can join my testimony to theirs who assert that the power of Michael was manifest in this place. This was evidenced by many wonderful works; for those who had fallen into inevitable peril, those who were oppressed with heavy calamities, or who were suffering from disease and sorrow, there prayed to God, and met with immediate deliverance. I should be prolix were I to give details of these miraculous cures. But I cannot omit mentioning the case of Aquiline, who is an advocate in the same court of justice as that to which we belong, and who is even at the present time residing with us. I shall relate what I saw myself, and what I heard from him concerning this occurrence. Being attacked with a severe fever, arising from disordered bile, the physicians administered an aperient medicine. This he vomited, and, by the effort of vomiting, diffused the bile, which tinged his countenance with its own colour. He had no power to retain his food, and continued a long time in this state; the skill of the physicians was utterly ineffectual. Finding that he was already half dead, he commanded his servant to carry him to the house of prayer; for he said, that there he would either die or be freed from his disease. While he was lying there, a Divine Power (δύναμις) appeared to him by night, and commanded him to dip his foot in a confection made of honey, wine, and pepper. The man did so, and was freed from his complaint, although the prescription was contrary to the professional rules of the physicians, a confection of so very hot a nature being considered adverse to a bilious disorder. I have also heard that Probianus, one of the physicians of the palace, who was suffering greatly from a disease in the feet, likewise met with deliverance from sickness at this place, and was accounted worthy of being visited with a Divine and wonderful vision. He had formerly been attached to the Grecian superstitions, but afterwards became a Christian; yet, while he admitted the probability of the rest of our doctrines, he could not understand how, by the Divine Cross, the salvation of all is effected. While his mind was in doubt on this subject, the symbol of the cross which lay on the altar of this church was pointed out to him in a divine vision, and he heard a voice openly declaring, that, as Christ had been crucified on the cross, the necessities of the human race, or of individuals, whatsoever they might be, could not be met by the ministration of angels or of good men; for that there was no power to help apart from the cross. I have only recorded a few of the incidents which I know to have taken place in this temple: I shall not now recount them all.








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