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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

ATHANASIUS, on leaving Alexandria, fled to Rome. Paul, bishop of Constantinople, Marcellus, bishop of Ancyra, and Asclepas, bishop of Gaza, repaired thither at the same time. Asclepas, who was strongly opposed to the Arians, had been accused by them of having thrown down an altar, and Quintian had been appointed in his stead over the church of Gaza. Lucius, also, bishop of Adrianople, who had on some accusation been deposed from his office, was dwelling at this period in Rome. The Roman bishop, on learning the cause of their condemnation, and on finding that they held the same sentiments as himself, and adhered to the Nicæan doctrines, admitted them to communion; and as, by the dignity of his seat, the charge of watching over the orthodox devolved upon him, he restored them all to their own churches. He wrote to the bishops of the East, and rebuked them for having judged these bishops unjustly, and for having disturbed the peace of the church by abandoning the Nicæan doctrines. He summoned a few among them to appear before him on an appointed day, in order to account to him for the sentence they had passed, and threatened to bear with them no longer should they introduce any further innovations. Athanasius and Paul were reinstated in their bishoprics, and forwarded the letter of Julius to the bishops of the East. The bishops were highly indignant at this letter; and they assembled together at Antioch, and framed a reply to Julius, replete with elegance and the graces of rhetoric, but couched in a tone of irony and defiance. They confessed, in this epistle, that the church of Rome was entitled to universal honour, because it had been founded by the apostles, and had enjoyed the rank of a Metropolitan Church from the first preaching of religion, although those who first propagated a knowledge of Christian doctrines in this city came from the East. They added, that the second place in point of honour ought not to be assigned to them, merely on account of the smallness of their city and of their numerical inferiority, for that, with respect to zeal and firmness, they surpassed others. They called Julius to account for having admitted Athanasius into communion, and expressed their indignation against him for having insulted their synod, and abrogated their decrees; and they reprehended his conduct, because, they said, it was opposed to justice and to the canons of the church. After these complaints and protestations, they proceeded to state, that they were willing to continue on terms of amity and communion with Julius, provided that he would sanction the deposition of the bishops whom they had expelled, and the ordination of those whom they had elected in their stead: but that, unless he would accede to these terms, they should have recourse to hostility. They added, that the bishops who had preceded them in the government of the Eastern churches had offered no opposition to the deposition of Novatian by the church of Rome. They made no allusion in their letter to any deviations they had manifested from the doctrines of the council of Nice, but merely stated they had various reasons to allege in justification of the course they had pursued, and that they considered it unnecessary to enter at that time upon any defence of their conduct, as they were suspected of having violated justice in every respect.








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