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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

DIDYMUS, an ecclesiastical historian and a professor of sacred literature at Alexandria, flourished about the same period. He was acquainted with every branch of science, and was conversant with poetry and rhetoric, with astronomy and geometry, with arithmetic, and with the various theories of philosophy. He had acquired all this knowledge by the efforts of his own mind, aided by the sense of hearing, for he lost his sight in early childhood. From his youth he manifested an ardent desire to acquire learning, and for this purpose he frequented the schools, where he made such rapid progress that, by means of the sense of hearing alone, he speedily comprehended the most difficult mathematical theorems. It is said that he learnt the letters of the alphabet by means of wooden tablets on which they were sculptured, and which he felt with his fingers, and that he made himself acquainted with syllables and words by the force of attention and memory, and by listening attentively to the sounds. His was a very extraordinary case; and many persons resorted to Alexandria for the express purpose of hearing or at least of seeing him. His firmness in defending the doctrines of the Nicæan Council was extremely displeasing to the Arians. He carried conviction to the minds of his audience by persuasion rather than by power of reasoning, and submitted his arguments to the investigation of their judgment. He was esteemed and beloved by the members of the Catholic Church, by the monks of Egypt, and by Antony the Great. It is related that when Antony left the desert and repaired to Alexandria to give his testimony in favour of the doctrines of Athanasius, he said to Didymus, “It is not a great misfortune, O Didymus, to be deprived of the organs of sight which are possessed by rats, mice, and the lowest animals; but it is a great blessing to possess eyes like angels, whereby you can contemplate the Divine Being and attain to true knowledge.” In Italy and its territories, Eusebius and Hilarion, whom I have already mentioned, acquired great fame by their eloquence and their writings against the heterodox. Lucifer, the founder of a heresy which bears his name, also flourished at this period. Aetius was likewise held in high estimation among the heterodox; he was an expert logician, and proficient in the art of disputation. He reasoned so boldly concerning the nature of God, that many persons gave him the name of “Atheist.” It is said that he was originally a physician of Antioch in Syria, and that, as he frequently attended meetings of the Church for the examination of the Sacred Scriptures, he became acquainted with Gallus, who was then Cæsar, and who honoured religion and cherished its professors. It seems likely that, as Aetius obtained the esteem of Cæsar by means of these disputations, he devoted himself the more assiduously to these pursuits, in order to progress in the favour of the emperor. It is said that he was versed in the philosophy of Aristotle, and frequented the schools in which it was taught at Alexandria.

Besides the individuals above specified, there were many others in the churches who were capable of instructing the people, and of reasoning concerning the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures. It would be too great a task to attempt to name them all. Let it not be accounted strange, if I have bestowed commendation upon the leaders of the above mentioned heresies. I admire their eloquence, and their powers of reasoning. I leave their doctrines to be judged by those who are in authority. Judgment does not devolve upon me in my character of historian; I have only to give an account of events as they happened. I have now related what I have heard, concerning those individuals among the Romans and the Greeks who were celebrated for their learning and their eloquence.








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