Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus.: Athanasius and Paul going to Rome, and having obtained Letters from Bishop Julius, recover their respective Dioceses.Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
p. 42 Chapter XV.—Athanasius and Paul 285 going to Rome, and having obtained Letters from Bishop Julius, recover their respective Dioceses.
Athanasius, meanwhile, after a lengthened journey, at last reached Italy. The western division of the empire was then under the sole power of Constans, the youngest of Constantines sons, his brother Constantine having been slain by the soldiers, as was before stated. At the same time also Paul, bishop of Constantinople, Asclepas of Gaza, Marcellus of Ancyra, a city of the Lesser Galatia, and Lucius of Adrianople, having been accused on various charges, and expelled from their several churches arrived at the imperial city. There each laid his case before Julius, bishop of Rome. He on his part, by virtue of the Church of Romes peculiar privilege, sent them back again into the East, fortifying them with commendatory letters; and at the same time restored to each his own place, and sharply rebuked those by whom they had been deposed. Relying on the signature of the bishop Julius, the bishops departed from Rome, and again took possession of their own churches, forwarding the letters to the parties to whom they were addressed. These persons considering themselves treated with indignity by the reproaches of Julius, called a council at Antioch, assembled themselves and dictated a reply to his letters as the expression of the unanimous feeling of the whole Synod. 286 It was not his province, they said, to take cognizance of their decisions in reference to any whom they might wish to expel from their churches; seeing that they had not opposed themselves to him, when Novatus was ejected from the church. These things the bishops of the Eastern church communicated to Julius, bishop of Rome. But, as on the entry of Athanasius into Alexandria, a tumult was raised by the partisans of George the Arian, in consequence of which, it is affirmed, many persons were killed; and since the Arians endeavor to throw the whole odium of this transaction on Athanasius as the author of it, it behooves us to make a few remarks on the subject. God the Judge of all only knows the true causes of these disorders; but no one of any experience can be ignorant of the fact, that such fatal accidents are for the most part concomitants of the factious movements of the populace. It is vain, therefore, for the calumniators of Athanasius to attribute the blame to him; and especially Sabinus, 287 bishop of the Macedonian heresy. For had the latter reflected on the number and magnitude of the wrongs which Athanasius, in conjunction with the rest who hold the doctrine of consubstantiality, had suffered from the Arians, or on the many complaints made of these things by the Synods convened on account of Athanasius, or in short on what that arch-heretic Macedonius himself has done throughout all the churches, he would either have been wholly silent, or if constrained to speak, would have spoken more plausible words, instead of these reproaches. But as it is intentionally overlooking all these things, he willfully misrepresents the facts. He makes, however, no mention whatever of the heresiarch, desiring by all means to conceal the daring enormities of which he knew him to be guilty. And what is still more extraordinary, he has not said one word to the disadvantage of the Arians, although he was far from entertaining their sentiments. The ordination of Macedonius, whose heretical views he had adopted, he has also passed over in silence; for had he mentioned it, he must necessarily have recorded his impieties also, which were most distinctly manifested on that occasion. Let this suffice on this subject.
Julius, in his letter to the Eastern bishops (Ep. I. adv. Eusebianos, 4 and 5), mentions Athanasius and Marcellus, ex-bishop of Ancyra, as with him at this time, but does not allude to Paul; from which it has been inferred that Socrates is in error here in setting the date of Pauls visit to Rome at this time, as otherwise Julius would have named him also with Athanasius and Marcellus. Sozomen, as usual, copies the mistake of Socrates; cf. Sozom. III. 15.42:286
It appears from this that there was no recognition of any special prerogative or right belonging to the bishop of Rome as yet. The position of that bishop during these agitations in the Eastern church, when the Western church was in comparative peace, seems to be that of an arbitrator voluntarily invoked, rather than of an official judge. Cf. Neander, Hist. of the Christ. Church, Vol. II. p. 171, 172.42:287
i.e. in his Collection of Synodical Transactions, mentioned in chap. 17.
Next: The Emperor Constantius, through an Order to Philip the Prætorian Prefect, secures the Exile of Paul, and the Installation of Macedonius in his See.
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