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resumed a mild and devout aspect, such as became their holy pilgrimage to the sepulchre of Christ.108 Hi« Ant But the injustice of these ecclesiastical judges had not been
A.d!'»s countenanced by the submission, or even by the presence, of Athanasius. He resolved to make a bold and dangerous experiment, whether the. throne was inaccessible to the voice of truth; and, before the final sentence could be pronounced at Tyre, the intrepid primate threw himself into a bark which was ready to hoist sail for the Imperial city. The request of a formal audience might have been opposed or eluded; but Athanasius concealed his arrival, watched the moment of Constantine's return from an adjacent villa, and boldly encountered his angry sovereign as he passed on horseback through the principal street of Constantinople. So strange an apparition excited his surprise and indignation; and the guards were ordered to remove the importunate suitor; but his resentment was subdued by involuntary respect; and the haughty spirit of the emperor was awed by the courage and eloquence of a bishop, who implored his justice and awakened his conscience.109 Constantine listened to the complaints of Athanasius with impartial and even gracious attention; the members of the synod of Tyre were summoned to justify their proceedings; and the arts of the Eusebian faction would have been confounded, if they had not aggravated the guilt of the primate by the dexterous supposition of an unpardonable offence; a criminal design to intercept and detain the corn-fleet of Alexandria, which supplied the subsistence of the new capital.110 The emperor was satisfied that the peace of Egypt would be secured by the absence of a popular leader; but he refused to fill the vacancy of the archiepiscopal throne; and the sentence which, after a long hesitation, he pronounced was that of a jealous ostracism, rather than of an ignominious exile. In the remote province of Gaul, but in the hospitable court of Treves, Athana
08 Eusebius in Vit. Constantin. 1. iv. c. 41-47.
109 Athanas. torn. i. p. 804. In a church dedicated to St. Athanasius this situation would afford a better subject for a picture than most of the stories of miracles and martyrdoms.
"° Athanas. torn. i. p. 739. Eunapius has related (in Vit. Sophist, p. 36, 37, edit. Commelin) a strange example of the cruelty and credulity of Constantine on a similar occasion. The eloquent Sopater, a Syrian philosopher, enjoyed his friendship, and provoked the resentment of Ablavius, his Praetorian prasfect. The corn-fleet was detained for want of a south wind; the people of Constantinople were discontented; and Sopater was beheaded, on a charge that he had bound the winds by the power of magic. Suidas adds that Constantine wished to prove, by this execution, that be had absolutely renounced the superstition of the Gentiles.
sius passed about twenty-eight months. The death of the emperor changed the face of public affairs; and, amidst the general indulgence of a young reign, the primate was restored to his Ud TM>ocountry by an honourable edict of the younger Constantine, who Jud°s3« expressed a deep sense of the innocence and merit of his venerable guest.111
The death of that prince exposed Athanasius to a second Hu ucond persecution; and the feeble Constantius, the sovereign of the A.d'mi East, soon became the secret accomplice of the Eusebians. A.d. Mo] Ninety bishops of that sect or faction assembled at Antioch, under the specious pretence of dedicating the cathedral. They composed an ambiguous creed, which is faintly tinged with the colours of Semi-Arianism, and twenty-five canons, which still regulate the discipline of the orthodox Greeks.112 It was decided, with some appearance of equity, that a bishop, deprived by a synod, should not resume his episcopal functions, till he had been absolved by the judgment of an equal synod; the law was immediately applied to the case of Athanasius, the council of Antioch pronounced, or rather confirmed, his degradation: a stranger, named Gregory, was seated on his throne; and Philagrius,113 the prsefect of Egypt, was instructed to support the new primate with the civil and military powers of the province. Oppressed by the conspiracy of the Asiatic prelates Athanasius withdrew from Alexandria, and passed three114
111 In his return he saw Constantius twice, at Viminiacum and at Csesarea in Cappadocia (Athanas. torn. i. p. 676). Tillemont supposes that Constantine introduced him to the meeting of the three royal brothers in Pannonia (Memoires Eccles. torn. viii. p. 69).
"sSee Beveridge, Pandect, torn. i. p. 429-452, and torn. ii. Annotation, p. 182. Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. torn. vi. p. 310-324. St. Hilary of Poitiers has mentioned this synod of Antioch with too much favour and respect. He reckons ninety-seven bishops.
"3 This magistrate, so odious to Athanasius, is praised by Gregory Nazianien, torn. i. Oral. xxi. p. 390, 391.
Scepe premente Deo fert Deus alter opem. For the credit of human nature, I am always pleased to discover some good qualities in those men whom party has represented as tyrants and monsters.
n«The chronological difficulties which perplex the residence of Athanasius at Rome are strenuously agitated by Valesius (Observat. ad Calcem, torn. ii. Hist. Eccles. 1. L c. 1-5) and Tillemont (Mem. Eccles. torn. viii. p. 674, &c). I have followed the simple hypothesis of Valesius, who allows only one journey, after the intrusion of Gregory. [Rightly; but the date must be Easter 340. This follows from the true date of the Council of Sardica, fixed by Hefele (Concilicngtschicntc, L p. 503-516) to A.d. 343, autumn—344, spring (Mansi had put it in 344); wh.ch date itself depends on the true date of the return of Athanasius to Alexandria. This had been formerly placed in 349; but the fragment of an anonymous biographer of Athanasius (c. 385 A.d.), published by Maffei in Osseruazioni luteraric, iii. p. 60, in 1738, gave the right date, 346 (21st Oct.), and occasioned an admirable discussion of the chronology by Mansi, Concilia, 3, p. 87 sqq. This was confirmed
years as an exile and a suppliant on the holy threshold of the Vatican.115 By the assiduous study of the Latin language, he soon qualified himself to negotiate with the western clergy; his decent flattery swayed and directed the haughty Julius: the Roman Pontiff was persuaded to consider his appeal as the peculiar interest of the Apostolic see; and his innocence was unanimously declared in a council of fifty bishops of Italy.11* At the end of three years, the primate was summoned to the court of Milan by the emperor Constans, who, in the indulgence of unlawful pleasures, still professed a lively regard for the orthodox faith. The cause of truth and justice was promoted by the influence of gold,117 and the ministers of Constans advised their sovereign to require the convocation of an ecclesiastical assembly, which might act as the representatives of the Catholic A.d. 3« church. Ninety-four bishops of the West, seventy-six bishops of the East, encountered each other at Sardica on the verge of the two empires, but in the dominions of the protector of Athanasius. Their debates soon degenerated into hostile altercations; the Asiatics, apprehensive for their personal safety, retired to Philippopolis in Thrace; and the rival synods reciprocally hurled their spiritual thunders against their enemies, whom they piously condemned as the enemies of the true God. Their decrees were published and ratified in their respective provinces; and Athanasius, who in the West was revered as a saint, was exposed as a criminal to the abhorrence of the East.115 The council of Sardica reveals the first symptoms of discord and schism between the Greek and Latin churches, which were separated by the accidental difference of faith and the permanent distinction of language.
by one of the Festal Letters (Ep. 19), written after the return of Athanasius, in 347: and agrees with the Historia Acephala, and Jerome's Chronicle (Migne, 8. 68al Hefele's correction of Mansi as to the Council takes account of the date 343, given in the Index to the Festal Letters.]
1181 cannot forbear transcribing a judicious observation of Wetstein (Prolegomen. N. T. p. 19): Si tamen Historiam Ecclesiasticam velimus consulere patebit jam inde aseculo quarto, cum, ortis controversiis, ecclesias GraeciEe doctores in anas partes scinderentur, ingenio, eloquentia, numero, tantum non aequales, earn partem quae vincere cupiebat Romam confugisse, majestatemque pontificis comiter coluisse, eoque pacto oppressis per pontificem et episcopos Latinos adversariis prasvaluisse, atque orthodoxiam in consiliis stabilivisse. Earn ob causam Athanasius, non sine comitatu, Romam petiit, pluresque annos ibi haesit.
116 [A letter of Pope Julius, reporting the decision of the Synod to the Easterns, is extant, which Mr. Gwatkin describes as " one of the ablest documents of the entire controversy ".]
1,7 Philostor. 1. iii. c. 12. If any corruption was used to promote the interest of religion, an advocate of Athanasius might justify or excuse this questionable conduct by the example of Cato and Sidney ; the former of whom is said to have given, and the latter to have received, a bribe, in the cause of liberty.
118 The Canon which allows appeals to the Roman pontiffs ["in honour of the memory of Peter"] has almost raised the council of Sardica to the dignity of a general council; and its acts have been ignorantly or artfully confounded with those of the Niccne synod. See Tillemont, torn. viii. p. 689, and Geddes's Tracts, vol. ii. p. 419.46a
During the second exile in the West, Athanasius was fre- and itoquently admitted to the imperial presence; at Capua, Ixxli, Ad. Hi Milan, Verona, Padua, Aquileia, and Treves. The bishop of the diocese usually assisted at these interviews; the master of the offices stood before the veil or curtain of the sacred apartment; and the uniform moderation of the primate might be attested by these respectable witnesses, to whose evidence he solemnly appeals.119 Prudence would undoubtedly suggest the mild and respectful tone that became a subject and a bishop. In these familiar conferences with the sovereign of the West, Athanasius might lament the error of Constantius; but he boldly arraigned the guilt of his eunuchs and his Arian prelates; deplored the distress and danger of the Catholic church; and excited Constans to emulate the zeal and glory of his father. The emperor declared his resolution of employing the troops and treasures of Europe in the orthodox cause; and signified, by a concise and peremptory epistle to his brother Constantius, that, unless he consented to the immediate restoration of Athanasius, he himself, with a fleet and army, would seat the archbishop on the throne of Alexandria.120 But this religious war, so horrible to nature, was prevented by the timely com- (jma.d.j pliance of Constantius; and the emperor of the East condescended to solicit a reconciliation with a subject whom he had injured. Athanasius waited with decent pride, till he had received three successive epistles full of the strongest assurances of the protection, the favour, and the esteem of his sovereign; who invited him to resume his episcopal seat, and who added the humiliating precaution of engaging his principal ministers to attest the sincerity of his intentions. They were manifested in a still more public manner by the strict orders which were dispatched into Egypt to recall the adherents of Athanasius, to restore their privileges, to proclaim their innocence, and to erase from the public registers the illegal proceedings which
119 As Athanasius dispersed secret invectives against Constantius (see the Epistle to the Monks), at the same time that he assured him of his profound respect, we might distrust the professions of the archbishop, torn. i. p. 677.
Mo Notwithstanding the discreet silence of Athanasius, and the manifest forgery of a letter inserted by Socrates, these menaces are proved by the unquestionable evidence of Lucifer of Cagliari, and even of Constantius himself. See Tillemont, torn. viii. p. 693.
VOL. II. 24
had been obtained during the prevalence of the Eusebian faction. After every satisfaction and security had been given, which justice or even delicacy could require, the primate proceeded, by slow journeys, through the provinces of Thrace, Asia, and Syria; and his progress was marked by the abject homage of the oriental bishops, who excited his contempt without deceiving his penetration.121 At Antioch he saw the emperor Constantius; sustained, with modest firmness, the embraces and protestations of his master, and eluded the proposal of allowing the Arians a single church at Alexandria, by claiming, in the other cities of the empire, a similar toleration for his own party; a reply which might have appeared just and moderate in the mouth of an independent prince. The entrance of the archbishop into his capital was a triumphal procession; absence and persecution had endeared him to the Alexandrians; his authority, which he exercised with rigour, was more firmly established; and his fame was diffused from /Ethiopia to Britain, over the whole extent of the Christian world.122 R.Mntm«nt But the subject who has reduced his prince to the necessity utuon* of dissembling can never expect a sincere and lasting forgiveness; and the tragic fate of Constans soon deprived Athanasius of a powerful and generous protector. The civil war between the assassin and the only surviving brother of Constans, which afflicted the empire above three years, secured an interval of repose to the Catholic church; and the two contending parties were desirous to conciliate the friendship of a bishop who, by the weight of his personal authority, might determine the fluctuating resolutions of an important province. He gave audience to the ambassadors of the tyrant, with whom he was afterwards accused of holding a secret correspondence;12s and the emperor Constantius repeatedly assured his dearest father,
1211 have always entertained some doubts concerning the retractation of Ursacius and Valens (Athanas. torn. i. p. 776). Their epistles to Julius, bishop of Rome, and to Athanasius himself, are of so different a cast from each other that they cannot both be genuine. The one speaks the language of criminals who confess their guilt and infamy; the other of enemies who solicit on equal terms an honourable reconciliation.
12a The circumstances of his second return may be collected from Athanasius himself, torn. i. p. 769 and 822, 843; Socrates, 1. ii. c. 18; Sozomen, 1. iii. c 19; Theodoret, 1. ii. c. 11, 12; Philostorgius, 1. iii. c. ia.
128 Athanasius (torn. i. p. 677, 678) defends his innocence by pathetic complaints, solemn assertions, and specious arguments. He admits that letters had been forged in his name, but he requests that his own secretaries, and those of the tyrant, may be examined, whether those letters had been written by the former or received by the latter.