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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

ATHANASIUS, after having fled from Tyre, repaired to Constantinople, and complained to the Emperor Constantine of the injustice of his condemnation, and besought him to permit the decrees of the council of Tyre to be submitted to examination in his presence. Constantine regarded this request as reasonable, and wrote in the following terms to the bishops assembled at Tyre:—

“I know not what has been enacted in confusion and disorder by your synod; but it appears that, from some disturbance or other, decrees which are not in conformity with truth have been enacted, and that your constant disputations among yourselves have prevented you from considering what is pleasing to God. But it will be the work of Divine Providence to terminate these disputes, and to manifest to us whether you have been actuated by a desire to maintain the truth, and whether you have not been misled in your judgment by motives of private friendship or aversion. I therefore command that you all come here to me without delay, in order that we may receive an exact account of your transactions. I will explain to you the cause of my writing to you in this strain. As I was returning on horseback to that city which bears my name, and which I regard as my country, Athanasius, the bishop, presented himself so unexpectedly in the middle of the highway, with certain individuals who accompanied him, that I felt exceedingly surprised at beholding him. God who sees all things is my witness, that at first I did not know who he was, but that some of my attendants, having ascertained this point, and the subject on which he had come to proffer his complaint, gave me the necessary information. I did not on this occasion grant him an interview. He, however, persevered in requesting an audience; and although I refused him, and was on the point of commanding that he should be removed from my presence, he told me with greater boldness than he had previously manifested, that he sought no other favour of me than that I should summon you hither, in order that he might, in your presence, complain of the injustice that had been evinced towards him. As this request appears reasonable and timely, I deemed it right to address you in this strain, and to command all of you who were convened at the synod of Tyre to repair to us, so that the equity of your decrees may be judged by me, whom you cannot refuse to acknowledge as a faithful servant of God. By my zeal in his service peace has been established throughout the world, and the name of God is praised among barbarians who, till now, were in ignorance of the truth; and it is evident, that whoever is ignorant of the truth knows not God. Notwithstanding, as is above stated, the barbarians have, through my instrumentality, learnt to know and to worship God; for they perceived that every where, and on all occasions, His protection rested on me; and they reverence God the more deeply, because they fear my power. But we who have to announce the mysteries of his clemency (for I will not say that we keep them), we, I say, ought not to do any thing that can tend to dissension or hatred, or, to speak plainly, to the destruction of the human race. Come then to us, as I have said, with all diligence, and be assured that I shall do every thing in my power to preserve the inviolability of the law of God, and to expose those enemies of the law who, under the name of holiness, endeavour to introduce various blasphemies.”

This letter of the emperor so excited the fears of some of the bishops that they set off on their journey homewards. But Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, and his partizans, went to the emperor, and represented that the synod of Tyre had enacted no decrees against Athanasius but what were founded on justice. They brought forward as witnesses, Theognis, Maris, Theodore, Valens, and Ursacius, and deposed that he had broken a sacred vase, and their calumnies were finally triumphant. The emperor, either believing their statements to be true, or imagining that unanimity would be restored among the bishops if Athanasius were removed, exiled him to Treves, a city of Gaul; and thither, therefore, he was conducted.








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