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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter XXXII.--The Distinguished Ecclesiastics of our Day, and which of them survived until the Destruction of the Churches.

Church History by Eusebius Pamphilius

Chapter XXXII.--The Distinguished Ecclesiastics of our Day, and which of them survived until the Destruction of the Churches.

1. At this time, Felix, having presided over the church of Rome for five years, was succeeded by Eutychianus, but he in less than ten months left the position to Caius, who lived in our day. He held it about fifteen years, and was in turn succeeded by Marcellinus, who was overtaken by the persecution.

2. About the same time Timæus received the episcopate of Antioch after Domnus, and Cyril, who lived in our day, succeeded him. In his time we became acquainted with Dorotheus, a man of learning among those of his day, who was honored with the office of presbyter in Antioch. He was a lover of the beautiful in divine things, and devoted himself to the Hebrew language, so that he read the Hebrew Scriptures with facility.

3. He belonged to those who were especially liberal, and was not unacquainted with Grecian propædeutics. Besides this he was a eunuch, having been so from his very birth. On this account, as if it were a miracle, the emperor took him into his family, and honored him by placing him over the purple dye-works at Tyre. We have heard him expound the Scriptures wisely in the Church.

4. After Cyril, Tyrannus received the episcopate of the parish of Antioch. In his time occurred the destruction of the churches.

5. Eusebius, who had come from the city of Alexandria, ruled the parishes of Laodicea after Socrates. The occasion of his removal thither was the affair of Paul. He went on this account to Syria, and was restrained from returning home by those there who were zealous in divine things. Among our contemporaries he was a beautiful example of religion, as is readily seen from the words of Dionysius which we have quoted.

6. Anatolius was appointed his successor; one good man, as they say, following another. He also was an Alexandrian by birth. In learning and skill in Greek philosophy, such as arithmetic and geometry, astronomy, and dialectics in general, as well as in the theory of physics, he stood first among the ablest men of our time, and he was also at the head in rhetorical science. It is reported that for this reason he was requested by the citizens of Alexandria to establish there a school of Aristotelian philosophy.

7. They relate of him many other eminent deeds during the siege of the Pyrucheium in Alexandria, on account of which he was especially honored by all those in high office; but I will give the following only as an example.

8. They say that bread had failed the besieged, so that it was more difficult to withstand the famine than the enemy outside; but he being present provided for them in this manner. As the other part of the city was allied with the Roman army, and therefore was not under siege, Anatolius sent for Eusebius, -- for he was still there before his transfer to Syria, and was among those who were not besieged, and possessed, moreover, a great reputation and a renowned name which had reached even the Roman general, -- and he informed him of those who were perishing in the siege from famine.

9. When he learned this he requested the Roman commander as the greatest possible favor, to grant safety to deserters from the enemy. Having obtained his request, he communicated it to Anatolius. As soon as he received the message he convened the senate of Alexandria, and at first proposed that all should come to a reconciliation with the Romans. But when he perceived that they were angered by this advice, he said, |But I do not think you will oppose me, if I counsel you to send the supernumeraries and those who are in nowise useful to us, as old women and children and old men, outside the gates, to go wherever they may please. For why should we retain for no purpose these who must at any rate soon die? and why should we destroy with hunger those who are crippled and maimed in body, when we ought to provide only for men and youth, and to distribute the necessary bread among those who are needed for the garrison of the city?|

10. With such arguments he persuaded the assembly, and rising first he gave his vote that the entire multitude, whether of men or women, who were not needful for the army, should depart from the city, because if they remained and unnecessarily continued in the city, there would be for them no hope of safety, but they would perish with famine.

11. As all the others in the senate agreed to this, he saved almost all the besieged. He provided that first, those belonging to the church, and afterwards, of the others in the city, those of every age should escape, not only the classes included in the decree, but, under cover of these, a multitude of others, secretly clothed in women's garments; and through his management they went out of the gates by night and escaped to the Roman camp. There Eusebius, like a father and physician, received all of them, wasted away through the long siege, and restored them by every kind of prudence and care.

12. The church of Laodicea was honored by two such pastors in succession, who, in the providence of God, came after the aforesaid war from Alexandria to that city.

13. Anatolius did not write very many works; but in such as have come down to us we can discern his eloquence and erudition. In these he states particularly his opinions on the passover. It seems important to give here the following extracts from them.

14. From the Paschal Canons of Anatolius. |There is then in the first year the new moon of the first month, which is the beginning of every cycle of nineteen years, on the twenty-sixth day of the Egyptian Phamenoth; but according to the months of the Macedonians, the twenty-second day of Dystrus, or, as the Romans would say, the eleventh before the Kalends of April.

15. On the said twenty-sixth of Phamenoth, the sun is found not only entered on the first segment, but already passing through the fourth day in it. They are accustomed to call this segment the first dodecatomorion, and the equinox, and the beginning of months, and the head of the cycle, and the starting-point of the planetary circuit. But they call the one preceding this the last of months, and the twelfth segment, and the final dodecatomorion, and the end of the planetary circuit. Wherefore we maintain that those who place the first month in it, and determine by it the fourteenth of the passover, commit no slight or common blunder.

16. And this is not an opinion of our own; but it was known to the Jews of old, even before Christ, and was carefully observed by them. This may be learned from what is said by Philo, Josephus, and Musæus; and not only by them, but also by those yet more ancient, the two Agathobuli, surnamed Masters,' and the famous Aristobulus, who was chosen among the seventy interpreters of the sacred and divine Hebrew Scriptures by Ptolemy Philadelphus and his father, and who also dedicated his exegetical books on the law of Moses to the same kings.

17. These writers, explaining questions in regard to the Exodus, say that all alike should sacrifice the passover offerings after the vernal equinox, in the middle of the first month. But this occurs while the sun is passing through the first segment of the solar, or as some of them have styled it, the zodiacal circle. Aristobulus adds that it is necessary for the feast of the passover, that not only the sun should pass through the equinoctial segment, but the moon also.

18. For as there are two equinoctial segments, the vernal and the autumnal, directly opposite each other, and as the day of the passover was appointed on the fourteenth of the month, beginning with the evening, the moon will hold a position diametrically opposite the sun, as may be seen in full moons; and the sun will be in the segment of the vernal equinox, and of necessity the moon in that of the autumnal.

19. I know that many other things have been said by them, some of them probable, and some approaching absolute demonstration, by which they endeavor to prove that it is altogether necessary to keep the passover and the feast of unleavened bread after the equinox. But I refrain from demanding this sort of demonstration for matters from which the veil of the Mosaic law has been removed, so that now at length with uncovered face we continually behold as in a glass Christ and the teachings and sufferings of Christ. But that with the Hebrews the first month was near the equinox, the teachings also of the Book of Enoch show.|

20. The same writer has also left the Institutes of Arithmetic, in ten books, and other evidences of his experience and proficiency in divine things.

21. Theotecnus, bishop of Cæsarea in Palestine, first ordained him as bishop, designing to make him his successor in his own parish after his death. And for a short time both of them presided over the same church. But the synod which was held to consider Paul's case called him to Antioch, and as he passed through the city of Laodicea, Eusebius being dead, he was detained by the brethren there.

22. And after Anatolius had departed this life, the last bishop of that parish before the persecution was Stephen, who was admired by many for his knowledge of philosophy and other Greek learning. But he was not equally devoted to the divine faith, as the progress of the persecution manifested; for it showed that he was a cowardly and unmanly dissembler rather than a true philosopher.

23. But this did not seriously injure the church, for Theodotus restored their affairs, being straightway made bishop of that parish by God himself, the Saviour of all. He justified by his deeds both his lordly name and his office of bishop. For he excelled in the medical art for bodies, and in the healing art for souls. Nor did any other man equal him in kindness, sincerity, sympathy, and zeal in helping such as needed his aid. He was also greatly devoted to divine learning. Such an one was he.

24. In Cæsarea in Palestine, Agapius succeeded Theotecnus, who had most zealously performed the duties of his episcopate. Him too we know to have labored diligently, and to have manifested most genuine providence in his oversight of the people, particularly caring for all the poor with liberal hand.

25. In his time we became acquainted with Pamphilus, that most eloquent man, of truly philosophical life, who was esteemed worthy of the office of presbyter in that parish. It would be no small matter to show what sort of a man he was and whence he came. But we have described, in our special work concerning him, all the particulars of his life, and of the school which he established, and the trials which he endured in many confessions during the persecution, and the crown of martyrdom with which he was finally honored. But of all that were there he was indeed the most admirable.

26. Among those nearest our times, we have known Pierius, of the presbyters in Alexandria, and Meletius, bishop of the churches in Pontus, -- rarest of men.

27. The first was distinguished for his life of extreme poverty and his philosophic learning, and was exceedingly diligent in the contemplation and exposition of divine things, and in public discourses in the church. Meletius, whom the learned called the |honey of Attica,| was a man whom every one would describe as most accomplished in all kinds of learning; and it would be impossible to admire sufficiently his rhetorical skill. It might be said that he possessed this by nature; but who could surpass the excellence of his great experience and erudition in other respects?

28. For in all branches of knowledge had you undertaken to try him even once, you would have said that he was the most skillful and learned. Moreover, the virtues of his life were not less remarkable. We observed him well in the time of the persecution, when for seven full years he was escaping from its fury in the regions of Palestine.

29. Zambdas received the episcopate of the church of Jerusalem after the bishop Hymenæus, whom we mentioned a little above. He died in a short time, and Hermon, the last before the persecution in our day, succeeded to the apostolic chair, which has been preserved there until the present time.

30. In Alexandria, Maximus, who, after the death of Dionysius, had been bishop for eighteen years, was succeeded by Theonas. In his time Achillas, who had been appointed a presbyter in Alexandria at the same time with Pierius, became celebrated. He was placed over the school of the sacred faith, and exhibited fruits of philosophy most rare and inferior to none, and conduct genuinely evangelical.

31. After Theonas had held the office for nineteen years, Peter received the episcopate in Alexandria, and was very eminent among them for twelve entire years. Of these he governed the church less than three years before the persecution, and for the remainder of his life he subjected himself to a more rigid discipline and cared in no secret manner for the general interest of the churches. On this account he was beheaded in the ninth year of the persecution, and was adorned with the crown of martyrdom.

32. Having written out in these books the account of the successions from the birth of our Saviour to the destruction of the places of worship, -- a period of three hundred and five years, -- permit me to pass on to the contests of those who, in our day, have heroically fought for religion, and to leave in writing, for the information of posterity, the extent and the magnitude of those conflicts.

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