From Eusebius Pamphilus : His Ten Books of Ecclesiastical History, Faithfully Translated and Abridg’d from the Original, by Samuel Parker, Gent.; London : Printed for George Sawbridge at the Three Flower de-Luces in Little Britain, 1703; pp. 119-136 .
AFTER, whose Reign lasted no longer than Two Years, the Imperial Scepter came to the Hands of Gallus, another Disturber of the Church.
To Cornelius (Bishop about Three Years) succeeded Lucius, and to Lucius (Eight Months after) Stephen, between whom and St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, the Question was disputed, Whether ’twas necessary that Converts from Heresy should be rebaptiz’d, or only receive Confirmation by Imposition of Hands. Stephen pleaded ancient Usage for the latter, St. Cyprian urg’d his own Arguments for the former; which by the Decision of several Councils, that 120 assembled upon the Occasion in the Western Church were over-rul’d; as the like Authority had by this time vanquish’d all the dangerous, wild Efforts of Novatus, and restor’d a perfect Union and Tranquillity among all the Parts of the Catholick Church; concerning which, Dionysius informs us in his Letters to Stephen : And in his Third Epistle to Philemon, a Roman Presbyter, to justify his curious and earnest Enquiries into the Writings and Traditions of Hereticks, declares he had receiv’d a Commission immediately from Heaven to examine and baffle them; and as to the Judgment of the Church upon the Topick of Rebaptization, he says he had always remember’d it her Practice, as often as any Persons that had follow’d the Interest or Communion of Hereticks, whether openly or secretly, and had therefore been excommunicated, became sensible of their Error, and submitted to the Penance impos’d, that they were admitted to Communion without the Repetition of Baptism, by virtue of which ’twas allow’d, That they had been already made Partakers of the Influences of the Holy Spirit. And in his Fifth Epistle to Xystus, as a Specimen of his own Management in this concern, speaking of a certain Brother, that had conceiv’d such a Dissatisfaction and Horror at the Form and Manner of that Heretical Baptism, wherewith he had formerly been initiated, as to forbear communicating with the Orthodox, even in the Daily Offices of Devotion; he lets us understand that he gave him Comfort, and 121 without any Scruple directed him not only to joyn in the daily Prayers, but also to receive the Holy Sacrament.
After Gallus, who govern’d about as long time as Decius, succeeded Valerian and his Son Gallienus. Valerian, at first, upon his Accession to the Imperial Authority, express’d a gracious Tenderness and Favour for the Christians, and many of them were very courteously entertain’d and promoted by him, till Macrianus, his Receiver-General, and President of the Egyptian Magi, who had always been an Enemy to the Christian Religion, and highly resented the Contempt which the Christians cast upon the Heathen Deities, and the Power of Expulsion that was exercis’d over them, insinuated into the Emperor a ridiculous Fondness for the Initiatory Mysteries of the Egyptian Priests, and to wed him to their bloody Sacrifices and execrable Rites, alienated his Mind from the Christians, and from the Belief of that God and Providence, which himself had ever mock’d and oppos’d, in as much as he devoted all the Services of his Soul to his Interest and Ambition, for though he knew his own Bodily Constitution was too feeble to support the weight of the Imperial Diadem, yet he had two Sons to leave behind him, for whom he projected nothing less than Majesty and Universal Dominion.
Now, therefore, at the Instance of this Macrianus, the Emperor begins Hostilities against the Christians. Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, 122 (and with him Maximus, a Presbyter, (Successor afterwards to Dionysius in the Chair of Alexandria) three Deacons, Faustus, (afterwards a Martyr under Diocletian) Eusebius, (afterwards Bishop of Laodicea) Chæremon, and some others) are summon’d before Æmilian the Prefect, who very gravely admonishes them that both by Writing, and in Person, he had us’d all manner of Arguments to bring them to a fair Understanding of things, and more especially of the Emperor’s great Goodness and Clemency. Dionysius reply’d, That as to worshipping the Divinities of the Heathens, he and his Fellow Christians knew no other Object to which their Adorations were due, but the only true God, Creator of all things, from whom their Majesties, Valerian and Gallienus, receiv’d their Authority, and to whom the Christians offer’d up daily Prayers that the Reign of them might be long and prosperous. Well, but (says Æmilian) why cannot you Adore an Emperor as well as Pray for him? To whom again Dionysius, We Christians Adore but one God. Upon this, the Prefect having first reproach’d them, as those that had insulted the Lenity of their Prince, Banish’d them to Cephro in Libya, forbidding them to Assemble in the Places of Prayer, and commanding them (Dionysius then strugling with a Distemper) immediately to repair to their Libyan Quarters. Dionysius notwithstanding took as effectual care that his Flock should have the Benefit of Publick Communion, as if he had continu’d among them, while they at Cephro had not only the 123 Comfort of a numerous Congregation, but an Opportunity likewise of Converting the Natives, to whom as yet the Gospel had never been Preach’d. And herein their Success was answerable to the Goodness of their Intentions, though the first Approaches they made had like to have cost them their Lives. From thence they were order’d towards the Province of Mareotis, into a more barren and barbarous Region, where again they propagated the Word of God, conceiving themselves specially appointed thereunto by these remarkable Methods of his Providence in removing them. Colluthio was the Name of the Place assign’d for the Residence of Dionysius, where, though a Christian was rarely seen before his Arrival, yet afterwards many came from a neighbouring City to Converse with him, and joyn in the Prayers. But alas! these were no more than an inconsiderable Portion of the Rigors and Distresses which the great Confessor underwent, as we learn from himself. All this while at Alexandria, the Christians of both Sexes, and of all Ages and Conditions, were rack’d and mangl’d with every kind of Torture, and sent out of a miserable World by a thousand Arts and Machines of Cruelty. And, yet, as terrible as they were, their Proceedings could not discourage Maximus, Dioscorus, Demetrius, and Lucius, (Presbyters) and Faustus, Eusebius, Chæremon (Deacons) from Assisting and Adminstring to the Confessors in Chains; and so fearless was Eusebius, as to take away the Bodies 124 of the Martyrs and Bury them. At Cæsarea in Palestine, Priscus, Malchus, and Alexander, were thrown to the Wild Beasts, having left the Security of the Country where they had lain disguiz’d for some time, on purpose to present themselves before the Inquisition. With these there suffered a Woman, reported to have been a Marcionite.
But within a little while the Storm blew over, when Valerian was taken and made a Slave by the Barbarians, and Gallienus held the Sovereignty. For it pleas’d Gallienus to put a stop to these Persecutions, to allow the Christians the free Exercise of their Religion, and to send out his Letters of Indulgence and Encouragement to the Bishops of the Church; in which regard this Emperor is highly commended by Dionysius of Alexandria, and the Equity of that Divine Providence celebrated, which had blasted the touring Hopes and ambitious Advances of Macrianus, and propitiously instated Gallienus both in the Right and Exercise of the Imperial Power.
Xystus still held the Chair of Rome. Demetrianus succeeded Fabius in that of Antioch. Firmilian was Bishop of the Cappadocian Cæsarea, and of Cæsarea in Palestine successively, (after Theoctistus) Domnus and Theotecnus, a Disciple of Origen’s. The two Brothers, Gregory and Athenodorus had their respective Sees in Pontus. And after Mazabanes, Hymenæus was advanc’d to that of Jerusalem.125
Yet the Favour and good Effects of Gallienus’s Dispensation were not so universal, but that at Cæsarea in Palestine, one Marinus, a Soldier, a Gentleman of Illustrious Birth and Ample Fortunes, was sacrific’d to the Dregs of Valerian’s Frenzy. The Occasion was this. Marinus for his great Deserts and Services, was upon the Point of receiving a Military Honour and Promotion; when a certain Competitor, finding no other way nor hopes to carry it from him, acquainted the Judge that Marinus was incapacitated, as being a Christian. And the Judge putting the Question to him, Marinus assur’d him that such he was. The Judge then gave him Three Hours time to weigh the Consequences, during which Reprieve, Theotecnus, the Bishop, led Marinus up to the Altar, and shewing him first his own Sword, and then the Books of the New Testament, recommended to his choice, which of the two he would accept. Marinus immediately laid his Hand upon the latter. So the Bishop bade him be resolute and depart in Peace, as he did soon after to Eternal Glory, having again asserted his Faith before the Tribunal with greater Ardency than ever. Asturias, a Christian of singular Courage, and a Senator of Rome, a Darling of both Emperors, well Born and Wealthy, having been present at the Execution, laid the Body of the Martyr upon his own Shoulders, carry’d him off, and interr’d him magnificently. This Asturias, when a Spectator, once upon a time, at a certain Annual Ceremony of the Heathens, (which was 126 to throw the Carcass of a Victim into the Fountains that supply’d the River Jordan, the Devil having always gratify’d their Curiosity by causing it to disappear, stood forth in the Presence of them all, and by Prayer to God, in the Name of Jesus Christ, brought back the Victim to the top of the Water, and there it floated; nor could the Devil repeat his Illusions in that place any more.
At Cæsarea, Philippi (were these Fountains rise) is now to be seen a Statue (suppos’d to be) of the Woman cur’d by Christ of an Issue of Blood, and opposite to it another of Christ himself : At the Basis of the latter there grows a Plant (no where else to be found) reaching up to the Border of Christ’s Garment. The Plant is a present Remedy against all Diseases; and the Image, they say, is an exact and genuine resemblance of Christ’s Humanity; neither is this the only one still remaining; besides the several Effigies that are left of St. Peter and St. Paul, and the ancient Throne of St. James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem.
No sooner was a Period put to the Persecution of Valerian, but Dionysius return’d to Jerusalem; some time after Intestine Wars and Tumults arising there, and his Friends being detain’d from him by the Violence of a Publick Outrage, and quite confounded and distracted between opposite Interests, he took occasion to write Epistles to them from his Residence in Alexandria, expressing himself as if he were at a long distance off, and soon after in an Epistle to 127 to Hierax, an Egyptian Bishop, he describes these Commotions at large, comparing them with the Plagues and Calamities which God sent upon the Egyptians by the Hand of Moses. Such numbers of the Inhabitants, he says, were destroy’d, that all the Survivors put together (and reckoning from the Age of Fourteen to Fourscore) did not equal the number of as many as were formerly found from Forty to Threescore and ten. In the publick Uproar the Christians were not at all concern’d as Actors, but as Sufferers, beside the hard measure they met with from the contending Parties, they had, over and above, an equal Share in the Common Destruction and Loss. And these Confusions were follow’d by as terrible a Pestilence, which, though chiefly fatal to the Infidels, yet swept away large numbers of the Christians too, and the more by a great many, because the latter thought it their Duty to Visit, Attend, and Serve one another, and to look after and bury their Dead; and the Clergy and Laity, who by discharging these Offices, caught the Infection and died, were look’d upon as worthy the Name of Martyrs, while the former had none of them the Heart to run the Risque of assisting or coming near one another.
In the Reign of Gallienus, the Error of the Millenaries obtruded it self upon the Church, being reviv’d by Nepos, an Egyptian Bishop, affirming in his Book, (entituled, A Confutation of the Allegorists) That the Saints were certainly 128 to have the Fruition of Corporal Pleasures at the end of World. for the length of a thousand Years. Against this Assertion, Dionysius compos’d his Two Books about the Promises, and is so just and ingenuous to the Memory of Nepos, as to give him all the Advantages of his Character, as a sincere Believer, and an industrious Workman in the Vineyard, but highly Resents the Ill Use which the Advancers of that Opinion made of the Book, especially, because they had the Confidence to Postpone, even the Sacred Canon to its Authority. He tells us further, That in the Province of Arsinoe (where his Doctrine had occasion’d lamentable Dissensions and Schisms) Publick Disputations and Consults had been held upon it, and that after a fair Discussion of all Arguments urg’d on either side, it was rejected and condemn’d, and even by Coracius himself, the Captain of the Faction.
In this Treatise of Dionysius, Concerning the Promises, he has given us his Opinion about the Revelations, of which, though some People, he says, did not stick to say, That it was the Work of Cerinthus, who made very great Account of the Pleasures of the Body, yet for his own part he readily and sincerely acquiesc’d in that General Tradition and Esteem, with which the Book had been receiv’d in the Church, asserting and proving, that the Sense of it is altogether Mystical and Sublime, and professing that he dares not attempt an Interpretation of it, and therefore that he Reads it with so 129 much the greater Veneration, firmly believing the Author to have been Divinely Inspired, and his Name John, tho’ he doubts whether he were St. John, the Apostle, because St. John has no where mention’d his own Name, either in his Gospel or Epistles, as the Author of the Revelations has done. Beside, that there is all along an exact Affinity and Resemblance between the Gospel and First Epistle of St. John in the Argument, Matter, and Expressions. Thus the first Lines of his Gospel are almost the same with those of his First Epistle : In the beginning was the Word, ——— and the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld his Glory, &c. That which we have heard, which we have seen with our Eyes, which we have looked upon, and our Hands have handled of the Word of Life, for the Life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, &c. Then as to the Substance of them, they run Parallel to each other in the Doctrines and Notices of the Light, the Truth, Grace, Joy, the Body and Blood of Christ, Condemnation, Remission of Sins; the Love of God to Man, the Duty of Brotherly Love; the Distinction of the Persons in the Holy Trinity, &c. And so likewise as to the Stile and Manner of Expression. Whereas there is not the least Similitude or Coincidence of this kind between the Gospel or Epistle, and the Revelations. Again, as the former make no mention of the latter, so neither does the latter of either of the former, though St. Paul in his Epistles makes mention of the Revelations, to which he had been 130 admitted; not to mention the difference between the one and other, in Point of Elegance and Argumentation. Nevertheless ’tis certain, the Author’s Name was John, but whether that John (Acts 13.) whose Surname was Mark, (and yet he did not go into Asia, but return’d to Jerusalem) or the other of the two Johns, whose Sepulchres were found at Ephesus (which Dionysius thinks the most probable) tho’ his Expression and Stile were very different from that of the Apostle, or which of the many Holy Persons bearing that Name, should be the Author, does not pretend to determine.
Beside this Treatise, Dionysius wrote a great many other Epistolary Discourses, and particularly several against the Sabellian Heresy; another Work concerning Nature, and a Book about Temptation, and informs us in one of his Epistles to Basilides, Bishop of Pentapolis, that he had writ a Comment upon part of Ecclesiastes.
Xystus deceasing, who sat Eleven Years Bishop of Rome, the Chair was supply’d by Dionysius, Name-sake to the Bishop of Alexandria; and that of Antioch, after the Death of Demetrianus, by Paulus Samosatenus, a Wolf in a covering of Wooll, as the Event made appear, when he came to assert his Heresy, that Christ was no more than another ordinary Man. This alarm’d all the Governors of the Church, and a very numerous Council of Prelates, Presbyters, and Deacons, met at Antioch, in which 131 assisted the most Illustrious Bishops, then flourishing, only the Great Dionysius, being detain’d by Infirmities and Age, sent his Opinion in Writing, and died soon after, in the Twelfth Year of Gallienus, having been Bishop of Alexandria Seventeen Years. The Merits of the Cause were examin’d with great Accuracy and Application, and not a Session pass’d without variety of Debates, and Paul from time to time, still made use of all the Fallacies and Equivocations imaginable to shroud his Blasphemy. But the last and deciding Council (for many were held upon this occasion) consisting of an innumerable Assembly of Bishops, condemn’d Paul’s Execrable and Impious Positions, and himself was excluded the Communion of all the Catholick Churches over the Face of the whole Earth. The Person more especially concern’d and successful in Unwinding and Confuting the Subterfuges of Paul, was Malchion (a Presbyter of the Church of Antioch) a Man conspicuous for his Orthodoxy and Integrity, and who formerly had been chief Director in the Schola Sophistica, or School of Disputation there.
No sooner Paul receiv’d his Sentence, but the Council notify’d it by Synodical Epistles to Dionysius, Bishop of Rome, and to Maximus, Bishop of Alexandria, (Successor to Dionysius) and to all the other Churches of the Christian World; wherein they give them to understand, that for the Suppression of so black a Heresy, they had call’d together the Bishops, far and near, to Council, that Dionysius of 132 Alexandria had directed his Epistle relating to it, to the Church of Antioch, and not so much as mention’d the Name of Paul, as their Bishop; that Firmilian (who presided in two of the Councils) had twice condemn’d the Heresy, and that he was coming again to Antioch to pronounce Sentence against the Heretic, (having before deferr’d it upon the dissembled Assurances of Paul that he would Recant) but died by the way; that as to the Morals and Practices of the Deceiver, it appear’d he had made all his Fortunes by Fraud, Oppression, Sacrilege, and Simony; that he had brought no little Scandal upon the Church by his pompous Affectation of Popularity, and his ambitious assuming of Secular Honours, preferring the Name of a State-Pensioner to that of a Bishop, and erecting himself a Civil Tribunal in the place of his Episcopal Throne, that he malign’d the Memory of worthy Men departed, rioted in his own Commendations, concerted with some of his Presbyters that they should Blazon his Character from the Pulpit; and instead of the Hymns appointed to be Sung in Honour of Christ, order’d others to be Sung in Honour of himself; that in these he suffer’d himself to be stil’d an Angel from Heaven; that he had us’d a very suspicious (and by his Licence and Example, several of his Presbyters and Deacons a very foul) Familiarity with the Sisters of a Vow’d Virginity. That he had revised the Heresy of Artemas [Artemon], and asserted, That Jesus Christ descended not from Heaven, but had 133 his Original upon Earth; and that therefore they had thrust him out of the Communion of the Catholick Church, and constituted in his place Domnus, the Son of Demetrian, Paul’s Predecessor. Paul however kept the Keys and Possession of the Church, till such time as the Emperor, Aurelian, being petition’d, was pleas’d to Command and Force him to Retire. But though this Emperor, in this Instance, supported the Authority of the Church by exerting his own, yet soon after he was preparing to rend her with Persecution; when by the Divine Providence he was snatch’d out of the World, after a Reign of Six Years.
Probus was the next Emperor, and continued as long; then Carus, with his Two Sons, Carinus and Numerian; then Dioclesian and Maximian, within less than Three Years, and some time after the Death of Dionysius, who had held the Chair of Rome Nine Years, and was succeeded by Felix.
About the same time started up the monstrous Manichæan Heresy, so call’d from its Author Manes, who gave himself out to be sometimes Christ; at other times, the Holy Ghost; and in Mockery of our Saviour, chose him Twelve Apostles. His Heresy, which was a Rhapsody of all the old extinguish’d Heresies, took its Birth in Persia, made its way into the Provinces of the Roman Empire, and has a multitude of Followers at this very Day.
Felix sat Five Years Bishop of Rome, and was succeeded by Eutychianus, and (Ten Months 134 after) Eutchianus by Caius, and he again Fifteen Years after by Marcellinus. At Antioch, to Domnus Timæus, to Timæus succeeded Cyril, among whose Presbyters was one Dorotheus, a very Learned Person, and critically verst in the Holy Scriptures : This Dorotheus was an Eunuch Born, which prov’d an occasion of his coming to the Emperor’s Knowledge, and afterwards into his particular Esteem and Favour. To Cyril succeeded Tyrannus. In the Church of Laodicea, Socrates was succeeded by Eusebius, and Eusebius by Anatolius, both Alexandrians, and the latter the most Eminent Philosopher and Mathematician of his time. ’Tis related of him, that, when Bruchium, where he held the principal Post of Honour, was besieg’d by the Romans, and reduc’d to the Extremities of Famine, he privately suggested to Eusebius, who had a mighty interest in the Roman General, and belong’d to another Part of the Town, which was in League and Amity with the Romans, that, if possible, he should prevail with the General to suffer all that deserted from the Besieg’d to be favourably entertain’d in that other part of the Town. Accordingly Eusebius petition’d, and obtain’d his Request, which so soon as Anatolius understood, with Consent of the Senate of Alexandria, he caus’d all the Inhabitants, whom he judg’d unfit for Service, to retire thither; and under the shelter of this Advantage, a great many others; more especially consulting the Safety of the Christians; and Eusebius took as much care to dispose and relieve 135 them as they arriv’d. Anatolius was no Voluminous Writer, yet those few Pieces of his which are left, afford us a very precious and noble Specimen of his Eloquence and great Learning, particularly his Book of Paschal Canons, where he sets out a nice Rationale about the time of Celebrating Easter, according to the Astronomical Rules and Computations current among the Egyptians, the Grecians, the Romans, the Jews; besides which, and several Books upon Theological Arguments, we have also his Ten Books of Arithmetick. Before his Election at Laodicea, this Anatolius had been Ordain’d by Theotecnus, Bishop of Cæsarea in Palestine, his Collegue and Coadjutor in that See, and was once design’d his Successor. After Anatolius, follow’d Stephanus, an incomparable Philosopher and Humanist, but a weak and half-spirited Christian, as was too evident by his Behaviour in the Persecution. To him, and very seasonably, succeeded Theodotus, a Pious, Benevolent, Charitable Man, and an Extraordinary Physician as well as Divine. After Theotecnus, Agapius was prefer’d to the Bishoprick of Cæsarea in Palestine, a very Bountiful and Vigilant Pastor. Pamphilus, the Martyr was one of his Presbyters, of whose Excellent Learning, Exemplary Life, Variety of Sufferings, and Final Martyrdom, I have given a distinct Account in a Work by it self. There were likewise then Eminent, and have flourish’d to this Day, Pierius, a Presbyter of Alexandria (a very mortify’d and contemplative Man, and an admirable 136 Preacher) and Meletius, an extraordinary Scholar, no less Religious and Virtuous than Learned, for his Eloquence, surnamed The Attick Honey-comb. In the Chair of Jerusalem, Hymenæus was succeeded by Zabdas, and Zabdas by Hermon. In that of Alexandria, Maximus, when he had held it Eighteen Years, was succeeded by Theonas; under whom Achillas, a Presbyter of that Church, an accomplish’d and severe Practicer, as well as Professor of the best Philsophy, exercis’d the Function of a Publick Instructor and Catechist. Theonas govern’d his Church Nineteen Years, after whom Peter took the Charge on him, and held it Twelve Years. During the Nine last, because it was a Season of Persecution, he led a Life of Mortification and Ascetical Discipline, but not so as to render himself e’er the less Useful, and at last he died a Martyr. Thus descends the Order of Episcopal Succession in the respective Churches abovemention’d, down to the Year of Christ, 305.