Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus.: The Emperor summons the Synod to himself by Letter, in order that the Charges against Athanasius might be carefully examined before him.Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Chapter XXXIV.—The Emperor summons the Synod to himself by Letter, in order that the Charges against Athanasius might be carefully examined before him.
Victor Constantine Maximus Augustus, to the bishops convened at Tyre.
I am indeed ignorant of the decisions which have been made by your Council with so much turbulence and storm: but the truth seems to have been perverted by some tumultuous and disorderly proceedings: because, that is to say, in your mutual love of contention, which you seem desirous of perpetuating, you disregard the consideration of those things which are acceptable to God. It will, however, I trust, be the work of Divine Providence to dissipate the mischiefs resulting from this jealous rivalry, as soon as they shall have been detected; and to make it apparent to us, whether ye who have been convened have had regard to truth, and whether your decisions on the subjects which have been submitted to your judgment have been made apart from partiality or prejudice. Wherefore it is indispensable that you should all without delay attend upon my piety, that you may yourselves give a strict account of your transactions. For what reason I have deemed it proper to write thus, and to summon you before me, you will learn from what follows. As I was making my entry into the city which bears our name, in this our most flourishing home, Constantinople,—and it happened that I was riding on horseback at the time,—suddenly the Bishop Athanasius, with certain ecclesiastics whom he had around him, presented himself so unexpectedly in our path, as to produce an occasion of consternation. For the Omniscient God is my witness that at first sight I did not recognize him until some of my attendants, in answer to my enquiry, informed me, as was very natural, both who he was, and what injustice he had suffered. At that time indeed I neither conversed, nor held any communication with him. But as he repeatedly entreated an audience, and I had not only refused it, but almost ordered that he should be removed from my presence, he said with greater boldness, that he petitioned for nothing more than that you might be summoned hither, in order that in our presence, he, driven by necessity to such a course, might have a fair opportunity afforded him of complaining of his wrongs. Wherefore as this seems reasonable, and consistent with the equity of my government, I willingly gave instructions that these things should be written to you. My command therefore is, that all, as many as composed the Synod convened at Tyre, should forthwith hasten to the court of our clemency, in order that from the facts themselves you may make clear the purity and integrity of your decision in my presence, whom you cannot but own to be a true servant of God. It is in consequence of the acts of my religious service towards God that peace is everywhere reigning; and that the name of God is sincerely had in reverence even among the barp. 33 barians themselves, who until now were ignorant of the truth. Now it is evident that he who knows not the truth, does not have a true knowledge of God also: yet, as I before said even the barbarians on my account, who am a genuine servant of God, have acknowledged and learned to worship him, whom they have perceived in very deed protecting and caring for me everywhere. So that from dread of us chiefly, they have been thus brought to the knowledge of the true God whom they now worship. Nevertheless we who pretend to have a religious veneration for (I will not say who guard) the holy mysteries of his church, we, I say, do nothing but what tends to discord and animosity, and to speak plainly, to the destruction of the human race. But hasten, as I have already said, all of you to us as speedily as possible: and be assured that I shall endeavor with all my power to cause that what is contained in the Divine Law may be preserved inviolate, on which neither stigma nor reproach shall be able to fasten itself; and this will come to pass when its enemies, who under cover of the sacred profession introduce numerous and diversified blasphemies, are dispersed, broken to pieces, and altogether annihilated.
Next: The Synod not having come to the Emperor, the Partisans of Eusebius accuse Athanasius of having threatened to divert the Corn supplied to Constantinople from Alexandria: the Emperor being exasperated at this banishes Athanasius into Gaul.
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