Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Encyclical Letter. (Epistola Encyclica.): Violent and Uncanonical Intrusion of Gregory.
§2. Violent and Uncanonical Intrusion of Gregory.
Now the outrages which have been committed against us and against the Church are these. While we were holding our assemblies in peace, as usual, and while the people were rejoicing in them, and advancing in godly conversation, and while our fellow-ministers in Egypt, and the Thebais, and Libya, were in love and peace both with one another and with us; on a sudden the Prefect of Egypt puts forth a public letter, bearing the form of an edict, and declaring that one Gregory from Cappadocia was coming to be my successor from the court. This announcement confounded every one, for such a proceeding was entirely novel, and now heard of for the first time. The people however assembled still more constantly in the churches 450 , for they very well knew that neither they themselves, nor any Bishop or Presbyter, nor in short any one had ever complained against me; and they saw that Arians only were on his side, and were aware also that he was himself an Arian, and was sent by Eusebius and his fellows to the Arian party. For you know, brethren, that Eusebius and his fellows have always been the supporters and associates of the impious heresy of the Arian madmen 451 , by whose means they have ever carried on their designs against me, and were the authors of my banishment into Gaul.
The people, therefore, were justly indignant and exclaimed against the proceeding, calling the rest of the magistrates and the whole city to witness, that this novel and iniquitous attempt was now made against the Church, not on the ground of any charge brought against me by ecclesiastical persons, but through the wanton assault of the Arian heretics. For even if there had been any complaint generally prevailing against me, it was not an Arian, or one professing Arian doctrines, that ought to have been chosen to supersede me; but according to the ecclesiastical Canons, and the direction of Paul, when the people were gathered together, and the spirit of them that ordain, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ 452 all things ought to have been enquired into and transacted canonically, in the presence of those among the laity and clergy who demanded the change; and not that a person brought from a distance by Arians, as if making a traffic of the title of Bishop, should with the patronage and strong arm of heathen magistrates, thrust himself upon those who neither asked for nor desired his presence, nor indeed knew anything of what had been done. Such proceedings tend to the dissolution of all the ecclesiastical Canons, and compel the heathen to blaspheme, and to suspect that our appointments are not made according to a divine rule, but as a result of traffic and patronage 453 .
Assembling in the Churches seems to have been a sort of protest or demonstration, sometimes peaceably, but sometimes in a more exceptionable manner;—peaceably, during Justinas persecution at Milan, Ambros. Ep. i. 20. August. Confess. ix. 15, but at Ephesus after the third Ecumenical Council the Metropolitan shut up the Churches, took possession of the Cathedral, and succeeded in repelling the imperial troops. Churches were asylums, vid. Cod. Theodos. ix. 45. §4. &c.; at the same time arms were prohibited.93:451
ἀρειομανιτῶν, vid. note on de Syn. 13.93:452
1 Cor. v. 4.93:453
Orat. i. 8, note.
Next: Outrages which took place at the time of Gregory's arrival.
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