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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

AT this period Athanasius returned from the West of Gaul to Alexandria. It is said that Constantine intended to have recalled him, and that in his testament he even gave orders to that effect. But as he was prevented by death from performing his intention, his son, who bore his name, and who was then commanding in Western Gaul, recalled Athanasius, and wrote a letter on the subject to the people of Alexandria. Having met with a copy of this letter translated from the Latin into Greek, I shall insert it precisely as I found it. It is as follows:—

“Constantine Cæsar, to the people of the Catholic Church of Alexandria.

“You cannot, I believe, be unacquainted with the fact that Athanasius, the venerable interpreter of the law, was sent for a time into Gaul, lest he should fall a sacrifice to the sanguinary designs of his enemies, who sought his destruction. In order to shield him from the dangers which menaced him, he was desired to remain in the country which is under my sway, and means were taken, in every city wherein he abode, to supply all his wants; but he is endowed with such exalted and extraordinary virtue, that, by the aid of the grace of God, he sets at nought all the necessities of nature. Our Lord and my father, Constantine Augustus, of most blessed memory, intended to have reinstated this bishop in his diocese, and thus to have restored him to your piety; but as he was prevented by death from fulfilling his intention, it devolves upon me, as his heir, to carry his design into execution. Athanasius will inform you in person of the respect which I have manifested towards him. Nor is it surprising that I should have acted as I have done towards him, for I was impelled by the desire of gratifying your wish of seeing him again, and by the feeling of esteem which was excited in my mind by the virtue of so holy a man. May Divine Providence watch over you, my beloved brethren.”

In consequence of this letter from the emperor, Athanasius returned from exile, and resumed the government of the Egyptian churches. Those who were attached to the Arian doctrines viewed his return with consternation; they excited fresh seditions, and had recourse to other machinations against him. The partizans of Eusebius accused him before the emperor of being a seditious person, and of having reversed the decree of exile, contrary to the laws of the church, and without the consent of the bishops. I shall presently relate in the proper place, how, by their intrigues, Athanasius was again expelled from Alexandria.

Eusebius, surnamed Pamphilus, died about this period, and Acacius was appointed to the bishopric of Cæsarea in Palestine. He had been instructed by Eusebius in the interpretation of Holy Writ; he possessed some learning and eloquence; and had written several works. Not long after, the Emperor Constantine declared war against his brother Constantius, and was slain by his own generals. The Roman Empire was divided between the surviving brothers; the East fell to the lot of Constantius, and the West to Constans.








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