Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Ecclesiastical History, Dialogues, and Letters of Theodoret.: Of the removal of the remains of John and of the faith of Theodosius and his sisters.
Chapter XXXVI.—Of the removal of the remains of John and of the faith of Theodosius and his sisters.
At a later time the actual remains of the great doctor were conveyed to the imperial city, and once again the faithful crowd turning the sea as it were into land by their close packed boats, covered the mouth of the Bosphorus towards the Propontis with their torches. The precious possession was brought into Constantinople by the present emperor, 936 who received the name of his grandfather and preserved his piety undefiled. After first gazing upon the bier he laid his head against it, and prayed for his parents and for pardon on them who had ignorantly sinned, for his parents had long ago been dead, leaving him an orphan in extreme youth, but the God of his fathers and of his forefathers permitted him not to suffer trial from his orphanhood, but provided for his nurture in piety, protected his empire from the assaults of sedition, and bridled rebellious hearts. Ever mindful of these blessings he honours his benefactor with hymns of praise. Associated with him in this divine worship are his sisters, 937 who have maintained virginity throughout their lives, thinking the study of the divine oracles 938 the greatest delight, and reckoning that riches beyond robbers reach are to be found in ministering to the poor. The emperor himself was adorned by many graces, and not least by his kindness and clemency, an unruffled calm of soul and a faith as undefiled as it is notorious. Of this I will give an undeniable proof.
A certain ascetic somewhat rough of temper came to the emperor with a petition. He came several times without attaining his object, and at last excommunicated the emperor and left him under his ban. The faithful emperor returned to his palace, and as it was the time for the banquet, and his p. 156 guests were assembled, he said that he could not partake of the entertainment before the interdict was taken off. On this account he sent the most intimate of his suite to the bishop, beseeching him to order the imposer of the interdict to remove it. The bishop replied that an interdict ought not to be accepted from every one, and pronounced it not binding, but the emperor refused to accept this remission until the imposer of it had after much difficulty been discovered, and had restored the communion withdrawn. So obedient was he to divine laws.
In accordance with the same principles he ordered a complete destruction of the remains of the idolatrous shrines, that our posterity might be saved from the sight of even a trace of the ancient error, this being the motive which he expressed in the edict published on the subject. Of this good seed sown he is ever reaping the fruits, for he has the Lord of all on his side. So when Rhoïlas, 939 Prince of the Scythian Nomads, had crossed the Danube with a vast host and was ravaging and plundering Thrace, and was threatening to besiege the imperial city, and summarily seize it and deliver it to destruction, God smote him from on high with thunderbolt and storm, burning up the invader and destroying all his host. A similar providence was shewn, too, in the Persian war. The Persians received information that the Romans were occupied elsewhere, and so in violation of the treaty of Peace, marched against their neighbours, who found none to aid them under the attack, because, in reliance on the Peace, the emperor had despatched his generals and his men to other wars. Then the further march of the Persians was stayed by a very violent storm of rain and hail; their horses refused to advance; in twenty days they had not succeeded in advancing as many furlongs. Meanwhile the generals returned and mustered their troops.
In the former war, too, these same Persians, when besieging the emperors eponymous city, 940 were providentially rendered ridiculous. For after Vararanes 941 had beset the aforesaid city for more than thirty days with all his forces, and had brought up many helepoles, and employed innumerable engines, and built up lofty towers outside the wall, resistance was offered, and the assault of the attacking engines repelled, by the bishop Eunomius alone. Our men had refused to fight against the foe, and were shrinking from bringing aid to the besieged, when the bishop, by opposing himself to them, preserved the city from being taken. When one of the barbarian chieftains ventured on his wonted blasphemy, and with words like those of Rabshakeh and Sennacherib, madly threatened to burn the temple of God, the holy bishop could not endure his furious wrath, but himself commanded a balista, 942 which went by the name of the Apostle Thomas, to be set up upon the battlements, and a mighty stone to be adjusted to it. Then, in the name of the Lord who had been blasphemed, he gave the word to let go,—down crashed the stone on that impious chief and hit him on his wicked mouth, and crushed in his face, and broke his head in pieces, and sprinkled his brains upon the ground. When the commander of the army who had hoped to take the city saw what was done, he confessed himself beaten and withdrew, and in his alarm made peace.
Thus the universal sovereign protects the faithful emperor, for he clearly acknowledges whose slave he is, and performs fitting service to his Master. 943
Theodosius II. succeeded his father May 1, 408, at the age of eight. The translation of the remains of Chrysostom took place at the beginning of 438. Theodosius died in 450, and the phrase “ὁ νῦν βασιλεὺων” thus limits the composition of the History. As however Theodoret does not continue his list of bishops of Rome after Cælestinus, who died in 440, we may conclude that the History was written in 438–439. But the mention of Isdigirdes II. in Chap. xxxviii. carries us somewhat further. Possibly the portions of the work were jotted down from time to time.155:937
Theodosius II. had four sisters, Flaccilla, Pulcheria, Arcadia, and Marina. Pulcheria was practically empress-regnant for a considerable period. She was only two years older than her brother, but was declared Augusta and empress July 14, 414, at the age of 15½. On his death in 450 she married Marcianus a general. Besides the relics of Chrysostom she translated in 446 those of the martyrs of Sebaste. Soz. ix. 2.155:938
“τὰ θεῖα λόγια.” This is the common phrase in our author for the Holy Scriptures. According to the interpretation given by Schleiermacher and like theologians to the title of the work of Papias, “λογίων κυριακῶν ἐξηγήσεις” and to the passage of Eusebius (Ecc. Hist. iii. 39) in which Papias is quoted as saying that Matthew “῾Εβραϊδι διαλέκτῳ τὰ λόγια συνεγράψατο.” Pulcheria and her sisters did not study the Scriptures, but only “the divine discourses,” to the exclusion of anything that was not a discourse. cf. Salmon Introduction to the N. T. 4th Ed. pp. 95, 96, and Bp. Lightfoots Essays in reply to the anonymous author of “Supernatural Religion.” cf. Rom. iii. 21, Heb. 5:12, 1 Pet. iv. 11, and Clem. ad Cor. liii. “For beloved you know, aye, and well know, the sacred Scriptures, and have pored over the oracles of God.”156:939
Supposed to be identified with Rogas, Rugilas, or Roas, a prince said by Priscus in his Hist. Goth. to have preceded Attila in the sovereignty of the Huns. cf. Soc. vii, 43.156:940
i.e. Rhœsina, or Theodosiopolis in Osrhoena, now Erzeroum.156:941
Vararanes V. son of Isdigirdes I. persecuted Christians in the beginning of the 5th c. cf. Soc. vii. 18, 20.
Sapor III. 385–390.
Vararanes IV. Isdigirdes I. 399–420.
390–399. Vararanes V. 420–440.
Isdigirdes II. 440–457.156:942
It is interesting to find in the fifth century an instance of the sacred nomenclature with which we have familiar instances in the “San Josef” and the “Salvador del mundo” of Cape St. Vincent, and the “Santa Anna” and “Santissima Trinidad” of Trafalgar. (Southey, Life of Nelson, Chap iv. and ix.) On the north side of Sebastopol there was an earthwork called “The Twelve Apostles.” (Kinglake, Crimea, Vol. iv. p. 48.) St. Thomas was the supposed founder of the church of Edessa.156:943
This might have been written before the weaker elements in the character of Theodosius II. produced their most disastrous results. But he was not a satisfactory sovereign, nor a desirable champion of Christendom. In some respects like our Edward the Confessor and Henry VI. he had, in the words of Leo, “the heart of a priest as well as of an emperor.” “He had fifteen prime ministers in twenty-five years, the last of whom, the Eunuch Chrysaphius, retained his power for the longest period. a.d. 443–450. During that time the empire was rapidly hurrying to destruction. The Vandals in Africa and the Huns under Attila in Europe were ravaging some of his fairest provinces while the emperor was attending to palace intrigues.…Chrysaphius made him favourable to Eutyches, and thus largely contributed to the establishment of the monophysite heresy.” Dr. Stokes in Dict. Christ. Biog. iv. 966.
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