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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter II.--Of the return of the bishops and the consecration of Paulinus.

The Ecclesiastical History Of Theodoret by Theodoret

Chapter II.--Of the return of the bishops and the consecration of Paulinus.

Julian had clear information on these points, and did not make known the impiety of his soul. With the object of attracting all the bishops to acquiescence in his rule he ordered even those who had been expelled from their churches by Constantius, and who were sojourning on the furthest confines of the empire, to return to their own churches. Accordingly, on the promulgation of this edict, back to Antioch came the divine Meletius, and to Alexandria the far famed Athanasius.

But Eusebius, and Hilarius of Italy and Lucifer who presided over the flock in the island of Sardinia, were living in the Thebaid on the frontier of Egypt, whither they had been relegated by Constantius. They now met with the rest whose views were the same and affirmed that the churches ought to be brought into harmony. For they not only suffered from the assaults of their opponents, but were at variance with one another. In Antioch the sound body of the church had been split in two; at one and the same time they who from the beginning, for the sake of the right worthy Eustathius, had separated from the rest, were assembling by themselves; and they who with the admirable Meletius had held aloof from the Arian faction were performing divine service in what is called the Palæa. Both parties used one confession of faith, for both parties were champions of the doctrine laid down at Nicæa. All that separated them was their mutual quarrel, and their regard for their respective leaders; and even the death of one of these did not put a stop to the strife. Eustathius died before the election of Meletius, and the orthodox party, after the exile of Meletius and the election of Euzoius, separated from the communion of the impious, and assembled by themselves; with these, the party called Eustathians could not be induced to unite. To effect an union between them the Eusebians and Luciferians sought to discover a means. Accordingly Eusebius besought Lucifer to repair to Alexandria and take counsel on the matter with the great Athanasius, intending himself to undertake the labour of bringing about a reconciliation.

Lucifer however did not go to Alexandria but repaired to Antioch. There he urged many arguments in behalf of concord on both parties. The Eustathians, led by Paulinus, a presbyter, persisted in opposition. On seeing this Lucifer took the improper course of consecrating Paulinus as their bishop.

This action on the part of Lucifer prolonged the feud, which lasted for eighty-five years, until the episcopate of the most praise-worthy Alexander.

No sooner was the helm of the church at Antioch put into his hands than he tried every expedient, and brought to bear great zeal and energy for the promotion of concord, and thus joined the severed limb to the rest of the body of the church. At the time in question however Lucifer made the quarrel worse and spent a considerable time in Antioch, and Eusebius when he arrived on the spot and learnt that bad doctoring had made the malady very hard to heal, sailed away to the West.

When Lucifer returned to Sardinia he made certain additions to the dogmas of the church and those who accepted them were named after him, and for a considerable time were called Luciferians. But in time the flame of this dogma too went out and it was consigned to oblivion. Such were the events that followed on the return of the bishops.

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