28). Second Arian Persecution Under Constantius.
But the inheritors of the opinions and impiety of Eusebius and his fellows, the eunuch Leontius1 , who ought not to remain in communion even as a layman2 , because he mutilated himself that he might henceforward be at liberty to sleep with one Eustolium, who is a wife as far as he is concerned, but is called a virgin; and George and Acacius, and Theodorus, and Narcissus, who are deposed by the Council; when they heard and saw these things, were greatly ashamed. And when they perceived the unanimity and peace that existed between Athanasius and the Bishops (they were more than four hundred3 , from great Rome, and all Italy, from Calabria, Apulia, Campania, Bruttia, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and the whole of Africa; and those from Gaul, Britain, and Spain, with the great Confessor Hosius; and also those from Pannonia, Noricum, Siscia, Dalmatia, Dardania, Dacia, Moesia, Macedonia, Thessaly, and all Achaia, and from Crete, Cyprus, and Lycia, with most of those from Palestine, Isauria, Egypt, the Thebais, the whole of Libya, and Pentapolis); when I say they perceived these things, they were possessed with envy and fear; with envy, on account of the communion of so many together; and with fear, lest those who had been entrapped by them should be brought over by the unanimity of so great a number, and henceforth their heresy should be triumphantly exposed, and everywhere proscribed.
29). Relapse of Ursacius and Valens.
First of all they persuade Ursacius, Valens and their fellows to change sides again, and like dogs4 to return to their own vomit, and like swine to wallow again in the former mire of their impiety; and they make this excuse for their retractation, that they did it through fear of the most religious Constans. And yet even had there been cause for fear, yet if they had confidence in what they had done, they ought not to have become traitors to their friends. But when there was no cause for fear, and yet they were guilty of a lie, are they not deserving of utter condemnation? For no soldier was present, no Palatine or Notary5 had been sent, as they now send them, nor yet was the Emperor there, nor had they been invited by any one, when they wrote their recantation. But they voluntarily went up to Rome, and of their own accord recanted and wrote it down in the Church, where there was no fear from without, where the only fear is the fear of God, and where every one has liberty of conscience. And yet although they have a second time become Arians, and then have devised this unseemly excuse for their conduct, they are still without shame.
30). Constantius Changes Sides Again.
In the next place they went in a body to the Emperor Constantius, and besought him, saying, ‘When we first made our request to you, we were not believed; for we told you, when you sent for Athanasius, that by inviting him to come forward, you are expelling our heresy. For he has been opposed to it from the very first, and never ceases to anathematize it. He has already written letters against us into all parts of the world, and the majority of men have embraced communion with him; and even of those who seemed to be on our side, some have been gained over by him, and others are likely to be. And we are left alone, so that the fear is, lest the character of our heresy become known, and henceforth both we and you gain the name of heretics. And if this come to pass, you must take care that we be not classed with the Manichaeans. Therefore begin again to persecute, and support the heresy, for it accounts you its king.’ Such was the language of their iniquity. And the Emperors when in his passage through the country on his hasty march against Magnentius6 , he saw the communion of the Bishops with Athanasius, like one set on fire, suddenly changed his mind, and no longer remembered his oaths, but was alike forgetful of what he had written and regardless of the duty he owed his brother. For in his letters to him, as well as in his interview with Athanasius, he took oaths that he would not act otherwise than as the people should wish, and as should be agreeable to the Bishops. But his zeal for impiety caused him at once to forget all these things. And yet one ought not to wonder that after so many letters and so many oaths Constantius had altered his mind, when we remember that Pharaoh of old, the tyrant of Egypt, after frequently promising and by that means obtaining a remission of his punishments, likewise changed, until he at last perished together with his associates.
31). Constantius Begins to Persecute.
(He compelled then the people in every city to change their party; and on arriving at Aries and Milan7 , he proceeded to act entirely in accordance with the designs and suggestions of the heretics; or rather they acted themselves, and receiving authority from him, furiously attacked every one. Letters and orders were immediately sent hither to the Prefect, that for the future the corn should be taken from Athanasius and given to those who favoured the Arian doctrines, and that whoever pleased might freely insult them that held communion with him; and the magistrates were threatened if they did not hold communion with the Arians. These things were but the prelude to what afterwards took place under the direction of the Duke Syrianus. Orders were sent also to the more distant parts, and Notaries despatched to every city, and Palatines, with threats to the Bishops and Magistrates, directing the Magistrates to urge on the Bishops, and informing the Bishops that either they must subscribe against Athanasius, and hold communion with the Arians, or themselves undergo the punishment of exile, while the people who took part with them were to understand that chains, and insults, and scourgings, and the loss of their possessions, would be their portion. These orders were not neglected, for the commissioners had in their company the Clergy of Ursacius and Valens, to inspire them with zeal, and to inform the Emperor if the Magistrates neglected their duty. The other heresies, as younger sisters of their own8 , they permitted to blaspheme the Lord, and only conspired against the Christians, not enduring to hear orthodox language concerning Christ. How many Bishops in consequence, according to the words of Scripture, were brought before rulers and kings9 , and received this sentence from magistrates, ‘Subscribe, or withdraw from your churches, for the Emperor has commanded you to be deposed!’ How many in every city were roughly handled, lest they should accuse them as friends of the Bishops! Moreover letters were sent to the city authorities, and a threat of a fine was held out to them, if they did not compel the Bishops of their respective cities to subscribe. In short, every place and every city was full of fear and confusion, while the Bishops were dragged along to trial, and the magistrates witnessed the lamentations and groans of the people.
32). Persecution by Constantius.
Such were the proceedings of the Palatine commissioners; on the other hand, those admirable persons, confident in the patronage which they had obtained, display great zeal, and cause some of the Bishops to be summoned before the Emperor, while they persecute others by letters, inventing charges against them; to the intent that the one might be overawed by the presence of Constantius, and the other, through fear of the commissioners and the threats held out to them in these pretended accusations, might be brought to renounce their orthodox and pious opinions. In this manner it was that the Emperor forced so great a multitude of Bishops, partly by threats, and partly by promises, to declare, ‘We will no longer hold communion with Athanasius.’ For those who came for an interview, were not admitted to his presence, nor allowed any relaxation, not so much as to go out of their dwellings, until they had either subscribed, or refused and incurred banishment thereupon. And this he did because he saw that the heresy was hateful to all men. For this reason especially he compelled so many to add their names to the small number10 of the Arians, his earnest desire being to collect together a crowd of names, both from envy of the Bishop, and for the sake of making a shew in favour of the Arian impiety, of which he is the patron; supposing that he will be able to alter the truth, as easily as he can influence the minds of men. He knows not, nor has ever read, how that the Sadducees and the Herodians, taking unto them the Pharisees, were not able to obscure the truth; rather it shines out thereby more brightly every day, while they crying out, ‘We have no king but Caesar11 ,’ and obtaining the judgment of Pilate in their favour, are nevertheless left destitute, and wait in utter shame, expecting shortly12 to become bereft, like the partridge13 , when they shall see their patron near his death.
33). Persecution is from the Devil
Now if it was altogether unseemly in any of the Bishops to change their opinions merely from fear of these things, yet it was much more so, and not the part of men who have confidence in what they believe, to force and compel the unwilling. In this manner it is that the Devil, when he has no truth on his side14 , attacks and breaks down the doors of them that admit him with axes and hammers15 . But our Saviour is so gentle that He teaches thus, ‘If any man wills to come after Me,’ and, ‘Whoever wills to be My disciple16 ;’ and coming to each He does not force them, but knocks at the door and says, ‘Open unto Me, My sister, My spouse17 ;’ and if they open to Him, He enters in, but if they delay and will not, He departs from them. For the truth is not preached with swords or with darts, nor by means of soldiers; but by persuasion and counsel. But what persuasion is there where fear of the Emperor prevails? or what counsel is there, when he who withstands them receives at last banishment and death? Even David, although he was a king, and had his enemy in his power, prevented not the soldiers by an exercise of authority when they wished to kill his enemy, but, as the Scripture says, David persuaded his men by arguments, and suffered them not to rise up and put Saul to death18 . But he, being without arguments of reason, forces all men by his power, that it may be shewn to all, that their wisdom is not according to God, but merely human, and that they who favour the Arian doctrines have indeed no king but Caesar; for by his means it is that these enemies of Christ accomplish whatsoever they wish to do. But while they thought that they were carrying on their designs against many by his means, they knew not that they were making many to be confessors, of whom are those who have lately19 made so glorious a confession, religious men, and excellent Bishops, Paulinus20 Bishop of Treveri, the metropolis of the Gauls, Lucifer, Bishop of the metropolis of Sardinia, Eusebius of Vercelli in Italy, and Dionysius of Milan, which is the metropolis of Italy. These the Emperor summoned before him, and commanded them to subscribe against Athanasius, and to hold communion with the heretics; and when they were astonished at this novel procedure, and said that there was no Ecclesiastical Canon to this effect, he immediately said, ‘Whatever I will, be that esteemed a Canon; the “Bishops” of Syria let me thus speak. Either then obey, or go into banishment.’
34). Banishment of the Western Bishops Spread the Knowledge of the Truth.
When the Bishops heard this they were utterly amazed, and stretching forth their hands to God, they used great boldness of speech against him teaching him that the kingdom was not his, but God’s, who had given it to him, Whom also they bid him fear, lest He should suddenly take it away from him. And they threatened him with the day of judgment, and warned him against infringing Ecclesiastical order, and mingling Roman sovereignty with the constitution21 of the Church, and against introducing the Arian heresy into the Church of God. But he would not listen to them, nor permit them to speak further, but threatened them so much the more, and drew his sword against them, and gave orders for some of them to be led to execution; although afterwards, like Pharaoh, he repented. The holy men therefore shaking off the dust, and looking up to God, neither feared the threats of the Emperor, nor betrayed their cause before his drawn sword; but received their banishment, as a service pertaining to their ministry. And as they passed along, they preached the Gospel in every place and city22 , although they were in bonds, proclaiming the orthodox faith, anathematizing the Arian heresy, and stigmatizing the recantation of Ursacius and Valens. But this was contrary to the intention of their enemies; for the greater was the distance of their place of banishment, so much the more was the hatred against them increased, while the wanderings of these men were but the heralding of their impiety. For who that saw them as they passed along, did not greatly admire them as Confessors, and renounce and abominate the others, calling them not only impious men, but executioners and murderers, and everything rather than Christians?
1 On the suneisaktai, vid). [D. C. A. 1939 sqq. Bright, Notes on Canons, p. 839], Mosheim de Rebus Ante Const. p. 599, Routh, Reliqu. Sacr. t. 2. p. 606. t. 3. p. 445. Basnag). Diss. 7,19. in Ann. Eccles. t. 2. Muratori, Anecdot. Graec. p. 218. Dodwell, Dissert. Cyrian. 3,Bevereg. in Can). Nic. 3. Suicer). Thesaur. in voc. &c. &c. It is conjectured by Beveridge, Dodwell, Van Espen, &c., that Leontius gave occasion to the first Canon of the Nicene Council, peri twn tolmwntwn eautou" ektemnein.
2 Can). Ap. 17. but vid. Morin). de Poen. p. 185.
3 After Sardica, vid). Apol. Ar. 50, note 10.
4 [351 a.d.] Cf. 2P 2,22.
5 Apol. Const. 19).
6 [351 a.d.]
7 [353 and 355.]
8 93 De Syn. 12, note 11.
9 (Mc 13,9,
10 Cf). de Syn. 5, note. and above Ep. Aeg. 7).
11 (Jn 19,15, and Orat 1,8, note.
12 oson oudetw, above, 13; Const. died Nov. 3, 361 aged 45.
13 Jr 17,11, LXX.
14 Vid. note on §67 [and Bright, Hist. Writings of Ath. p. 68,note 9].
15 Vid. Ps 74,6.
16 (Mt 16,24,
17 (Ct 5,2,
18 (1S 26,9,
19 Apol. Const. 27; Apol. Fug. 4, and below, §76.
20 §26, and references there.
21 diatagh, cf. §36.
22 Infr. §40, vid. Ac 8,4 Ph 1,13).
35). Persecution and Lapse of Liberius.
Now it had been better if from the first Constantius had never become connected with this heresy at all; or being connected with it, if he had not yielded so much to those impious men; or having yielded to them, if he had stood by them only thus far, so that judgment might come upon them all for these atrocities alone. But as it would seem, like madmen, having fixed themselves in the bonds of impiety, they are drawing down upon their own heads a more severe judgment. Thus from the first1 they spared not even Liberius, Bishop of Rome, but extended2 their fury even to those parts; they respected not his bishopric, because it was an Apostolical throne; they felt no reverence for Rome, because she is the Metropolis of Romania3 ; they remembered not that formerly in their letters they had spoken of her Bishops as Apostolical men. But confounding all things together, they at once forgot everything, and cared only to shew their zeal in behalf of impiety. When they perceived that he was an orthodox man and hated the Arian heresy, and earnestly endeavoured to persuade all persons to renounce and withdraw from it, these impious men reasoned thus with themselves: ‘If we can persuade Liberius, we shall soon prevail over all.’ Accordingly they accused him falsely before the Emperor; and he, expecting easily to draw over all men to his side by means of Liberius, writes to him, and sends a certain eunuch called Eusebius with letters and offerings, to cajole him with the presents, and to threaten him with the letters. The eunuch accordingly went to Rome, and first proposed to Liberius to subscribe against Athanasius, and to hold communion with the Arians, saying, ‘The Emperor wishes it, and commands you to do so.’ And then shewing him the offerings, he took him by the hand, and again besought him saying, ‘Obey the Emperor, and receive these.’
36). The Eunuch Eusebius Attempts Liberius in Vain.
But the Bishop endeavoured to convince him, reasoning with him thus: ‘How is it possible for me to do this against Athanasius? how can we condemn a man, whom not one4 Council only, but a second5 assembled from all parts of the world, has fairly acquitted, and whom the Church of the Romans dismissed in peace? who will approve of our conduct, if we reject in his absence one, whose presence6 amongst us we gladly welcomed, and admitted him to our communion? This is no Ecclesiastical Canon; nor have we had transmitted to us any such tradition7 from the Fathers, who in their turn received from the great and blessed Apostle Peter8 . But if the Emperor is really concerned for the peace of the Church, if he requires our letters respecting Athanasius to be reversed, let their proceedings both against him and against all the others be reversed also; and then let an Ecclesiastical Council be called at a distance from the Court, at which the Emperor shall not be present, nor any Count be admitted, nor magistrate to threaten us, but where only the fear of God and the Apostolical rule9 shall prevail; that so in the first place, the faith of the Church may be secure, as the Fathers defined it in the Council of Nicaea, and the supporters of the Arian doctrines may be cast out, and their heresy anathematized. And then after that, an enquiry being made into the charges brought against Athanasius, and any other besides, as well as into those things of which the other party is accused, let the culprits be cast out, and the innocent receive encouragement and support. For it is impossible that they who maintain an impious creed can be admitted as members of a Council: nor is it fit that an enquiry into matters of conduct should precede the enquiry concerning the faith10 ; but all diversity of opinions on points of faith ought first to be eradicated, and then the enquiry made into matters of conduct. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not heal them that were afflicted, until they shewed and declared what faith they had in Him. These things we have received from the Fathers; these report to the Emperor; for they are both profitable for him and edifying to the Church. But let not Ursacius and Valens be listened to, for they have retracted their former assertions, and in what they now say they are not to be trusted.’
37). Liberius Refuses the Emperors Offering.
These were the words of the Bishop Liberius. And the eunuch, who was vexed, not so much because he would not subscribe, as because he found him an enemy to the heresy, forgetting that he was in the presence of a Bishop, after threatening him severely, went away with the offerings; and next commits an offence, which is foreign to a Christian, and too audacious for a eunuch. In imitation of the transgression of Saul, he went to the Martyry11 of the Apostle Peter, and then presented the offerings. But Liberius having notice of it, was very angry with the person who kept the place, that he had not prevented him, and cast out the offerings as an unlawful sacrifice, which increased the anger of the mutilated creature against him. Consequently he exasperates the Emperor against him, saying, ‘The matter that concerns us is no longer the obtaining the subscription of Liberius, but the fact that he is so resolutely opposed to the heresy, that he anathematizes the Arians by name.’ He also stirs up the other eunuchs to say the same; for many of those who were about Constantius, or rather the whole number of them, are eunuchs12 , who engross all the influence with him, and it is impossible to do anything there without them. The Emperor accordingly writes to Rome, and again Palatines, and Notaries, and Counts are sent off with letters to the Prefect, in order that either they may inveigle Liberius by stratagem away from Rome and send him to the Court to him, or else persecute him by violence.
38). The Evil Influence of Eunuchs at Court.
Such being the tenor of the letters, there also fear and treachery forthwith became rife throughout the whole city. How many were the families against which threats were held out! How many received great promises on condition of their acting against Liberius! How many Bishops hid themselves when they saw these things! How many noble women retired to country places in consequence of the calumnies of the enemies of Christ! How many ascetics were made the objects of their plots! How many who were sojourning there, and had made that place their home, did they cause to be persecuted! How often and how strictly did they guard the harbour13 and the approaches to the gates, lest any orthodox person should enter and visit Liberius! Rome also had trial of the enemies of Christ, and now experienced what before she would not believe, when she heard how the other Churches in every city were ravaged by them. It was the eunuchs who instigated these proceedings against all. And the most remarkable circumstance in the matter is this; that the Arian heresy which denies the Son of God, receives its support from eunuchs, who, as both their bodies are fruitless, and their souls barren of virtue, cannot bear even to hear the name of son. The Eunuch of Ethiopia indeed, though he understood not what he read14 , believed the words of Philip, when he taught him concerning the Saviour; but the eunuchs of Constantius cannot endure the confession of Peter15 , nay, they turn away when the Father manifests the Son, and madly rage against those who say, that the Son of God is His genuine Son, thus claiming as a heresy of eunuchs, that there is no genuine and true offspring of the Father. On these grounds it is that the law forbids such persons to be admitted into any ecclesiastical Council16 ; notwithstanding which they have now regarded these as competent judges of ecclesiastical causes, and whatever seems good to them, that Constantius decrees, while men with the name of Bishops dissemble with them. Oh! who shall be their historian? who shall transmit the record of these things to another generation? who indeed would believe it, were he to hear it, that eunuchs who are scarcely entrusted with household services (for theirs pleasure-loving race, that has no serious concern but that of hindering in others what nature has taken from them); that these, I say, now exercise authority in ecclesiastical matters, and that Constantius in submission to their will treacherously conspired against all, and banished Liberius!
39). Liberius’s Speech to Constantius.
For after the Emperor had frequently written to Rome, had threatened, sent commissioners, devised schemes, on the persecution17 subsequently breaking out at Alexandria, Liberius is dragged before him, and uses great boldness of speech towards him. ‘Cease,’ he said, ‘to persecute the Christians; attempt not by my means to introduce impiety into the Church. We are ready to suffer anything rather than to be called Arian madmen. We are Christians; compel us not to become enemies of Christ. We also give you this counsel: fight not against Him who gave you this empire, nor shew impiety towards Him instead of thankfulness18 ;’ persecute not them that believe in Him, lest you also hear the words, ‘It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks19 .’ Nay, I would that you might hear them, that you might obey, as the holy Paul did. Behold, here we are; we are come, before they fabricate charges. For this cause we hastened hither, knowing that banishment awaits us at your hands, that we might suffer before a charge encounters us, add that all may clearly see that all the others too have suffered as we shall suffer, and that the charges brought against them were fabrications of their enemies, and all their proceedings were mere calumny and falsehood.’
40). Banishment of Liberius Anal Others.
These were the words of Liberius at that time, and he was admired by all men for them. But the Emperor instead of answering20 , only gave orders for their banishment, separating each of them from the rest, as he had done in the former cases. For he had himself devised this plan in the banishments which he inflicted, that so the severity of his punishments might be greater than that of former tyrants and persecutors21 . In the former persecution Maximian, who was then Emperor, commanded a number of Confessors to be banished together22 , and thus lightened their punishment by the consolation which he gave them in each other’s society. But this man was more savage than he; he separated those who had spoken boldly and confessed together, he put asunder those who were united by the bond of faith, that when they came to die they might not see one another; thinking that bodily separation can disunite also the affections of the mind, and that being severed from each other, they would forget the concord and unanimity which existed among them. He knew not that however each one may remain23 apart from the rest, he has nevertheless with him that Lord, whom they confessed in one body together, who will also provide (as he did in the case of the Prophet Elisha24 ) that more shall be with each of them, than there are soldiers with Constantius. Of a truth iniquity is blind; for in that they thought to afflict the Confessors, by separating them from one another, they rather brought thereby a great injury upon themselves. For had they continued in each other’s company, and abode together, the pollutions of those impious men would have been proclaimed from one place only; but now by putting them asunder, they have made their impious heresy and wickedness to spread abroad and become known in every place25 .
41). Lapse of Liberius.
Who that shall hear what they did in the course of these proceedings will not think them to be anything rather than Christians? When Liberius sent Eutropius, a Presbyter, and Hilarius, a Deacon, with letters to the Emperor, at the time that Lucifer and his fellows made their confession, they banished the Presbyter on the spot, and after stripping Hilarius26 the Deacon and scourging him on the back, they banished him too, clamouring at him, ‘Why didst thou not resist Liberius instead of being the bearer of letters from him.’ Ursacius and Valens, with the eunuchs who sided with them, were the authors of this outrage. The Deacon, while he was being scourged, praised the Lord, remembering His words, ‘I gave My back to the smiters27 ;’ but they while they scourged him laughed and mocked him, feeling no shame that they were insulting a Levite. Indeed they acted but consistently in laughing while he continued to praise God; for it is the part of Christians to endure stripes, but to scourge Christians is the outrage of a Pilate or a Caiaphas. Thus they endeavoured at the first to corrupt the Church of the Romans, wishing to introduce impiety into it as well as others. But Liberius after he had been in banishment two years gave way, and from fear of threatened death subscribed. Yet even this only shews their violent conduct, and the hatred of Liberius against the heresy, and his support of Athanasius, so long as he was suffered to exercise a free choice. For that which men are forced by torture to do contrary to their first judgment, ought not to be considered the willing deed of those who are in fear, but rather of their tormentors. They however attempted everything in support of their heresy, while the people in every Church, preserving the faith which they had learnt, waited for the return of their teachers, and condemned the Antichristian heresy, and all avoid it, as they would a serpent.
1 In contrast to date of his fall.
2 thn manian exeteinan; vid). ekteinai thn manian, §42. And so in the letter of the Council of Chalcedon to Pope Leo; which says that Dioscorus, katAE autou th" ampelou thn fulakhn para tou swthro" epitetrammenou thn manian exeteine, legomen dh th" sh" osiothto". Hard). Conc. t. 2. p. 636). [Cf. Prolegg. ch. av. §4.]
3 By Romania is meant the Roman Empire, according to Montfaucon after Nannius. vid. Praefat. 34,xxxv. And so Epiph. Hoer, lxvi, 1 fin, p. 618, and 68,2 init. p. 728, Nil. Ep. 1,75. vid. Du Cange Gloss. Groec. in voc.
4 At Alexandria.
5 At Sardica.
6 Vid). Apol. Ar. 29.
7 paradosi", vid. §14.
8 Apol. Ar. §35.
9 twn apastolwn diataxi", cf. §34.
10 Vid. Pallavicin). Conc. Trid. vi. 7. Sarpi). Hist. 2,37).
11 [I Sam. 13,9. cf. D.C.A. 1132, s.v. Martyrium.]
12 Vid. Gibbon, Hist. ch. 19 init.
13 Ostia, vid. Gibbon, Hist. ch. 31, p. 303.
14 (Ac 8,27,
15 (Mt 16,16, allusion to Liberius? vid. Hard). Conc. t. 2. p. 305 E.
16 Can. Nic. 1.
17 [356 a.d.]
18 Cf. §34.
19 (Ac 9,5,
20 [But see Theodoret, Hist. ii. 16.]
21 Cf. infr. §60.
22 §64 [a.d. 355].
23 Cf. §47.
24 (2R 6,16,
25 Cf. §34.
26 This Hilary afterwards followed Lucifer of Calaris in his schism. He is supposed to be the author of the Comments on S. Paul’s Epistles attributed to S. Ambrose, who goes under the name of Amurosiaster.
27 (Is 50,6).
42). Persecution and Lapse of Hoslus.
But although they had done all this, yet these impious men thought they had accomplished nothing, so long as the great Hosius escaped their wicked machinations. And now they undertook to extend their fury1 to that great old man. They felt no shame at the thought that he is the father2 of the Bishops; they regarded not that he had been a Confessor3 ; they reverenced not the length of his Episcopate, in which he had continued more than sixty years; but they set aside everything, and looked only to the interests of their heresy, as being of a truth such as neither fear God, nor regard man4 . Accordingly they went to Constantius, and again employed such arguments as the following: ‘We have done everything; we have banished the Bishop of the Romans; and before him a very great number of other Bishops, and have filled every place with alarm. But these strong measures of yours are as nothing to us, nor is our success at all more secure, so long as Hosius remains. While he is in his own place, the rest also continue in their Churches, for he is able by his arguments and his faith to persuade all men against us. He is the president of Councils5 , and his letters are everywhere attended to. He it was who put forth the Nicene Confession, and proclaimed everywhere that the Arians were heretics. If therefore he is suffered to remain, the banishment of the rest is of no avail, for our heresy will be destroyed. Begin then to persecute him also and spare him not, ancient as he is. Our heresy knows not to honour even the hoary hairs of the aged.’
43). Brave Resistance of Hosius.
Upon hearing this, the Emperor no longer delayed, but knowing the man, and the dignity of his years, wrote to summon him. This was when he first6 began his attempt upon Liberius. Upon his arrival he desired him, and urged him with the usual arguments, with which he thought also to deceive the others, that he would subscribe against us, and hold communion with the Arians. But the old man, scarcely bearing to hear the words, and grieved that he had even ventured to utter such a proposal, severely rebuked him, and after gaining his consent, withdrew to his own country and Church. But the heretics still complaining, and instigating him to proceed (he had the eunuchs also to remind him and to urge him further), the Emperor again wrote in threatening terms; but still Hosius, while he endured their insults, was unmoved by any fear of their designs against him, and remaining firm to his purpose, as one who had built the house of his faith upon the rock, he spake boldly against the heresy, regarding the threats held out to him in the letters but as drops of rain and blasts of wind. And although Constantius wrote frequently, sometimes flattering him with the title of Father, and sometimes threatening and recounting the names of those who had been banished, and saying, ‘Will you continue the only person to oppose the heresy? Be persuaded and subscribe against Athanasius; for whoever subscribes against him thereby embraces with us the Arian cause;’ still Hosius remained fearless, and while suffering these insults, wrote an answer in such terms as these. We have read the letter, which is placed at the end7 .
44. ‘Hosius to Constantius the Emperor Sends Health in the Lord.’
I was a Confessor at the first, when a persecution arose in the time of your grandfather Maximian; and if you shall persecute me, I am ready now, too, to endure anything rather than to shed innocent blood and to betray the truth. But I cannot approve of your conduct in writing after this threatening manner. Cease to write thus; adopt not the cause of Arius, nor listen to those in the East, nor give credit to Ursacius, Valens and their fellows. For whatever they assert, it is not on account of Athanasius, but for the sake of their own heresy. Believe my statement, O Constantius, who am of an age to be your grandfather. I was present at the Council of Sardica, when you and your brother Constans of blessed memory assembled us all together; and on my own account I challenged the enemies of Athanasius, when they came to the church where I abode8 , that if they had anything against him they might declare it; desiring them to have confidence, and not to expect otherwise than that a right judgment would be passed in all things. This I did once and again, requesting them, if they were unwilling to appear before the whole Council, yet to appear before me alone; promising them also, that if he should be proved guilty, he should certainly be rejected by us; but if he should be found to be blameless, and should prove them to be calumniators, that if they should then refuse to hold communion with him, I would persuade him to go with me into the Spains. Athanasias was willing to comply with these conditions, and made no objection to my proposal; but they, altogether distrusting their cause, would not consent. And on another occasion Athanasius came to your Court9 , when you wrote for him, and his enemies being at the time in Antioch, he requested that they might be summoned either altogether or separately, in order that they might either convict him, or be convicted10 , and might either in his presence prove him to be what they represented, or cease to accuse him when absent. To this proposal also you would not listen, and they equally rejected it. Why then do you still give ear to them that speak evil of him? How can you endure Valens and Ursacius, although they have retracted and made a written confession of their calumnies11 ? For it is not true, as they pretend, that they were forced to confess; there were no soldiers at hand to influence them; your brother was not cognizant of the matter12 . No, such things were not done under his government, as are done now; God forbid. But they voluntarily went up to Rome, and in the presence of the Bishop and Presbyters wrote their recantation, having previously addressed to Athanasius a friendly and peaceable letter. And if they pretend that force was employed towards them, and acknowledge that this is an evil thing, which you also disapprove of; then do you cease to use force; write no letters, send no Counts; but release those that have been banished, lest while you are complaining of violence, they do but exercise greater violence. When was any such thing done by Constans? What Bishop suffered banishment? When did he appear as arbiter of an Ecclesiastical trial? When did any Palatine of his compel men to subscribe against any one, that Valens and his fellows should be able to affirm this? Cease these proceedings, I beseech you, and remember that you are a mortal man. Be afraid of the day of judgment, and keep yourself pure thereunto. Intrude not yourself into Ecclesiastical matters, neither give commands unto us concerning them; but learn them from us. God has put into your hands the kingdom; to us He has entrusted the affairs of His Church; and as he who would steal the empire from you would resist the ordinance of God, so likewise fear on your part lest by taking upon yourself the government of the Church, you become guilty of a great offence. It is written, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s13 .” Neither therefore is it permitted unto us to exercise an earthly rule, nor have you, Sire, any authority to burn incense14 . These things I write unto you out of a concern for your salvation. With regard to the subject of your letters, this is my determination; I will not unite myself to the Arians; I anathematize their heresy. Neither will I subscribe against, Athanasius, whom both we and the Church of the Romans and the whole Council pronounced to be guiltless. And yourself also, when you understood this, sent for the man, and gave him permission to return with honour to his country and his Church. What reason then can there be for so great a change in your conduct? The same persons who were his enemies before, are so now also; and the things they now whisper to his prejudice (for they do not declare them openly in his presence), the same they spoke against him, before you sent for him; the same they spread abroad concerning him when they come to the Council. And when I required them to come forward, as I have before said, they were unable to produce their proofs; had they possessed any, they would not have fled so disgracefully. Who then persuaded you so long after to forget your own letters and declarations? Forbear, and be not influenced by evil men, lest while you act for the mutual advantage of yourself and them, you render yourself responsible. For here you comply with their desires, hereafter in the judgment you will have to answer for doing so alone. These men desire by your means to injure their enemy, and wish to make you the minister of their wickedness, in order that through your help they may sow the seeds15 of their accursed heresy in the Church. Now it is not a prudent thing to cast one’s self into manifest danger for the pleasure of others. Cease then, I beseech you, O Constantius, and be persuaded by me. These things it becomes me to write, and you not to despise.’
45). Lapse of Hosius, Due to Cruel Persecution.
Such were the sentiments, and such the letter, of the Abraham-like old man, Hosius, truly so called16 . But the Emperor desisted not from his designs, nor ceased to seek an occasion against him; but continued to threaten him severely, with a view either to bring him over by force, or to banish him if he refused to comply. And as the Officers and Satraps of Babylon17 , seeking an occasion against Daniel, found none except in the law of his God; so likewise these present Satraps of impiety were unable to invent any charge against the old man (for this true Hosius, and his blameless life were known to all), except the charge of hatred to their heresy. They therefore proceeded to accuse him; though not under the same circumstances as those others accused Daniel to Darius, for Darius was grieved to hear the charge, but as Jezebel accused Naboth, and as the Jews applied themselves to Herod. And they said, ‘He not only will not subscribe against Athanasius, but also on his account condemns us; and his hatred to the heresy is so great, that he also writes to others, that they should rather suffer death, than become traitors to the truth. For, he says, our beloved Athanasius also is persecuted for the Truth’s sake, and Liberius, Bishop of Rome, and all the rest, are treacherously assailed.’ When this patron of impiety, and Emperor of heresy18 , Constantius, heard this, and especially that there were others also in the Spains of the same mind as Hosius, after he had tempted them also to subscribe, and was unable to compel them to do so, he sent for Hosius, and instead of banishing him, detained him a whole year in Sirmium. Godless, unholy, without natural affection, he feared not God, he regarded not his father’s affection for Hosius, he reverenced not his great age, for he was now a hundred years old19 ; but all these things this modern Ahab, this second Belshazzar of our times, disregarded for the sake of impiety. He used such violence towards the old man, and confined him so straitly, that at last, broken by suffering, he was brought, though hardly, to hold communion with Valens, Ursacius, and their fellows, though he would not subscribe against Athanasius. Yet even thus he forgot not his duty, for at the approach of death, as it were by his last testament, he bore witness to the force which had been used towards him, and anathematized the Arian heresy, and gave strict charge that no one should receive it.
46. Arbitrary Expulsion of So Many Bishops.
Who that witnessed these things, or that has merely heard of them, will not be greatly amazed, and cry aloud unto the Lord, saying, ‘Wilt Thou make a full end of Israel20 ?’ Who that is acquainted with these proceedings, will not with good reason cry out and say, ‘A wonderful and horrible thing is done in the land;’ and, ‘The heavens are astonished at this, and the earth is even more horribly afraid21 .’ The fathers of the people and the teachers of the faith are taken away, and the impious are brought into the Churches? Who that saw when Liberius, Bishop of Rome, was banished, and when the great Hosius, the father22 of the Bishops, suffered these things, or who that saw so many Bishops banished out of Spain and the other parts, could fail to perceive, however little sense he might possess, that the charges23 against Athanasius also and the rest were false, and altogether mere calumny? For this reason those others also endured all suffering, because they saw plainly that the conspiracies laid against these were founded in falsehood. For what charge was there against Liberius? or what accusation against the aged Hosius? who bore even a false witness against Paulinus, and Lucifer, and Dionysius, and Eusebius? or what sin could be lain to the account of the rest of the banished Bishops, and Presbyters, and Deacons? None whatever; God forbid. There were no charges against them on which a plot for their ruin might be formed; nor was it on the ground of any accusation that they were severally banished. It was an insurrection of impiety against godliness; it was zeal for the Arian heresy, and a prelude to the coming of Antichrist, for whom Constantius is thus preparing the way.
1 ekteinai thn manian
2 Ap. Fug. 5.
3 Under Maximian.
4 (Lc 18,2,
5 Of Nicaea and Sardica (Ap. Fug. 5).
6 i.e. two years before his fall.
7 Transferred by copyists hither.
8 [i.e. at Sardica, cf. Apol. Ar. 36.]
9 Cf. §22).
10 Apol. Const. 5.
11 Apol. Ar. 58.
13 (Mt 22,21,
14 [The language of Hosius is figurative. The first mention of incense as a rite in Christian worship is in ps.-Dionys, about a.d. 500, cf. D.C.A. p. 830 sq.]
15 Vid). de Decr. 2, note 6. It is remarkable, this letter having so much its own character, and being so unlike Athanasius’s writings in style, that a phrase characteristic of him should here occur in it. Did Athan. translate it from Latin?
16 o alhqws (Osio". kataskopoi, on gar episkopoi, supr. §3. infr. §§48, 76 fin. and so alhqw" Eusebie, Theod). Hist. 1,4). AEOnhsimon, ton pote soi acrhston, nuni de eucrhston Philem. 10. De Syn. 26, note 6.
17 (Da 6,5).
18 §§9, 30, 54.
19 onte ton Qeon fobhbei" o aqeo", oute ton patro" thn diaqesin aidesqei" o anosio", oute to ghra" aiscunqei" o astorgo".
20 Ez 11,13.
21 (Jr 5,30 Jr 2,12,
22 Cf §15.
23 Vid. in Apol. contr. Ar. and ad Const.