« ForrigeFortsett »
knowledge that he performed a great many wonderful miracles. Anthony acted in the same way during the reign of Constantine at Alexandria; he left the solitudes of the desert to go about every part of the city, warning the inhabitants that the Arians were opposing the truth, and that the doctrines of the apostles were preached only by Athanasius. Thus did these holy men know how to meet the emergencies of every period; they knew when to remain in retirement, and when to leave the desert and repair to the cities.
CHAP. XXVIII.-ACCOUNT OF THE OTHER CELEBRATED MONKS
OF THIS PERIOD.
THERE were at this time other monks who obtained just celebrity. In the desert of Chalcedonia, Avitus, Abraham, and not a few others, led a calm and spiritual life in a body subject to passion. In the neighbourhood of Apamea, Agapus, Simeon, Paul, and others, taught the most sublime philosophy. In the province of Zeugma, Publius and Paul adopted the same course of life. The renowned Acepsemas passed sixty years shut up in a cell in Cyrestes, without speaking to any one or seeing any human being. The admirable Zeugmatus, although deprived of the use of his eyes, carefully tended the flock, and defended it from the attacks of wolves. On this account the heretics set fire to his cell; but Trajan, one of the military commanders, who was a man of great piety, had another cell built for him, and took him under his own protection. Marianus, Eusebius, Ammian, Palladius, Symeon, Abraham, and others, preserved the image of God in the neighbourhood of Antioch, it being engraven in their own souls. I have written the history of their lives. The mountain which is situated in the neighbourhood of the great city was no less honoured, for here dwelt Peter, a native of Galatia, and an Egyptian who bore the same name, and also Romanus, Severus, Zeno, Moses, Malchus, and many others, who, though unknown to the multitude, were known to God.
CHAP. XXIX.-DIDYMUS OF ALEXANDRIA, AND EPHRAIM OF
Ar this period the admirable Ephraim dwelt at Edessa, and the illustrious Didymus at Alexandria; they both wrote [THEODORET.]
against the dogmas of the opponents of truth. Ephraim used the Syriac language as a medium for reflecting the rays of divine grace; and although unacquainted with the language of the Greeks, he most ably refuted all their errors, and exposed all the evil machinations of the heretics. Harmonius, the son of Bardesanis, having composed some hymns, in which impiety was disguised beneath the charms of verse, to the destruction of those who listened to them; Ephraim composed others, in which harmony and melody were combined with piety, and which subserved all the purposes of valuable and efficacious medicine. These verses are, even to this day, used at the festivals celebrated in honour of the victorious martyrs. Although Didymus had lost his sight in youth, he had applied himself to the study of poetry, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy; he had acquired, by means of the organ of hearing alone, a thorough acquaintance with the logic of Aristotle, and with the eloquence of Plato. These branches of knowledge are not to be regarded as teaching truth, but as furnishing weapons which may be used against falsehood in the defence of truth. He also committed the Sacred Scriptures to memory, and acquired the knowledge, not only of words, but also of their signification.1 These were some of the monks who rendered themselves conspicuous by their virtues during this period.
CHAP. XXX.-CELEBRATED BISHOPS OF PONTUS AND OF ASIA,
WHO FLOURISHED DURING THIS PERIOD.
AMONG the bishops of this period may be mentioned the two Gregories, of whom one was bishop of Nazianzenus, and the other of Nyssa. The one was the brother of the great Basil, and the other his friend and fellow-labourer. They distinguished themselves in Cappadocia by their zeal in defending religion. Peter, the brother of Basil, and of Gregory, rendered himself likewise conspicuous by his virtuous life, although he was not deeply versed in general learning. Optimus in Syria, and Amphilochius in Lycaonia, zealously defended the faith, and repelled the attacks of the adversaries. In the West, Damasis, bishop of Rome, and Ambrose, bishop of
That is, not only of their literal, but of their allegorical meaning.
Milan, successfully combated the designs of the enemies. Those who had been banished to the extremities of the empire were united with them in spirit, and by their letters strengthened their faith and animated them against their opponents. In the terrific tempest to which the church was exposed, the Ruler of all things had thus provided skilful pilots and physicians to devise suitable remedies for the evils with which she was then afflicted. But these were not the only means adopted by the gracious Lord for the preservation of the church. provided likewise in other ways for her safety.
CHAP. XXXI.-LETTER WRITTEN ON WAR BY VALENS TO VALENTINIAN, AND THE REPLY OF THE LATTER.
THE Goths having prepared for war, Valens was obliged to retreat towards the Bosphorus, for he only knew how to fight against religion. Being aware of his own weakness, he sent to implore aid from his brother.1 But Valentinian wrote back in reply, that it would be wrong to assist a man who had taken up arms against God, and that it would be only just to allow his effrontery to be repressed. This reply filled the un'happy man with the deepest sorrow, yet he did not desist from his course of violence, but persevered in his opposition to the truth.
CHAP. XXXII.-PIETY OF TERENTIUS.
TERENTIUS, a general distinguished by his valour and by his piety, was able, on his return from Armenia, to erect trophies of victory. Valens promised to give him everything that he might desire. But he asked not for gold or silver; for lands, power, or houses; but he requested that a church might be given to those who preached the apostolical doctrines. When the emperor received the petition and read the contents, he was highly irritated, and desired Terentius to ask something else. Terentius picked up the torn fragments of the document, and said, "I have received, O emperor, the gift which I desired, and I shall ask no other. The Judge of all sees and judges my intentions."
1 Valesius says that Theodoret is mistaken here, for his brother Valentinian was dead. He suggests that the word ἀδελφιδοῦν, (nephew, means Gratian.
CHAP. XXXIII.-BOLDNESS OF TRAJAN, A MILITARY CHIEF.
WHEN Valens had passed the Bosphorus and had arrived in Thrace, he at first remained for some time in Constantinople, making preparations for war. He sent Trajan, the general, with some troops, against the barbarians. Trajan was defeated; and, on his return, the emperor reproached him severely, and accused him of weakness and of cowardice. But Trajan replied with great boldness: "It is not I, O emperor, who have been defeated; for you, by fighting against God, have thrown the barbarians upon His protection, and have thus surrendered the victory to them. For as you have taken up arms against God, He has ranged himself on the side of your enemies. With Him is victory, and those triumph who are led by him. Do you not know," continued he, "who those are whom you have driven from the churches, and who are those to whom you have given them up?" Arintheus and Victor, the other commanders, accorded in what had been said, and besought the emperor to reflect on the truth of their re
CHAP. XXXIV.-PREDICTION OF ISAAC, A HERMIT OF CON
It is said that Isaac, who dwelt in a solitary tent near Constantinople, exclaimed, on seeing the emperor depart at the
head of his army, "Where are you marching, O emperor?
You who have declared war against God, cannot receive His aid. He has raised up the barbarians against you, because you have excited many to blasphemy against Him, and have driven away from the churches those who celebrated His praises. Cease, then, from fighting against Him, and He will terminate the war. Restore the pastors to their flocks, and then you will obtain a bloodless victory. But if you despise my advice, and rush into battle, you will find how hard it is to kick against the pricks. You will never return, but will perish with your troops." The emperor was enraged, and answered, "I shall return, and your life shall pay the penalty of your false prediction." Isaac, not at all terrified by the threat, rejoined in a loud tone of voice, "Let me be slain if my words prove false."
CHAP. XXXV.-Boldness OF VETRANION, Bishop of SCYTHIA.
VETRANION, who was noted for possessing every virtue, was bishop of all the cities of Scythia. Being filled with divine zeal, he rebuked Valens for having corrupted the doctrines of the faith, and for having unjustly persecuted the saints; and repeated to him in a loud voice the following words of the most holy David, "I shall speak of thy testimonies before kings and shall not be ashamed" (Ps. cxix. 46).
CHAP. XXXVI.-EXPEDITION OF VALENS AGAINST THE GOTHS.—
THE PENALTY OF HIS IMPIETY.
VALENS, despising the wise advice which he had received, sent his army against the enemy, while he himself remained in a village waiting the issue of the battle. His troops, not being able to resist the onset of the barbarians, were put to flight, and were closely pursued. When they reached the village in which Valens was concealed, the barbarians set fire to it, and the enemy of religion perished in the flames. Thus, even in this life, did Valens receive the punishment of his iniquities.
CHAP. XXXVII.-THE GOTHS SEDUCED INTO THE ARIAN
I THINK that I ought to narrate, for the information of those who may be unacquainted with the facts, how the Goths were led to receive the Arian errors. When they passed the Danube, and entered into alliance with Valens, the wicked Eudoxius, who was present, suggested to the emperor that the Goths ought to be constrained to hold communion with them. This nation had received from the first the light of the knowledge of God, and had been nourished in the apostolical doctrines. "Peace," said Eudoxius, "would be cemented between us by their becoming one with us in sentiment." Valens, approving of this advice, proposed to the chief persons among them to assent to the doctrines which he held; but they replied that they could not abandon the doctrines of their fathers. Urfila was then their bishop, and possessed so much influence among them, that they received his words as laws. Eudoxius,