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Of the early life of Eusebius little is known. The work of his biographer, Acacius, * who was his pupil and successor, has unfortunately perished, and from the few incidental notices of himself in his own writings we can glean but little. It has been conjectured that he was born about the year 270 ; though, if he had Dionysius of Alexandria, the famous Paul of Samosata, and the emperor Gallienus, for his cotemporaries, as some expressions employed by him would seem to imply,t we must assign to his birth a somewhat earlier date. of his parents no certain tradition is preserved. Nicephorus, indeed, a writer entitled to little respect, makes him, upon what authority he does not inform us, a nephew of Pamphilus, and others have called him his son. But neither account is in the least probable. For Pamphilus, we know, he cherished a lively and constant affection, and after his death by martyrdom took his name ; but, from the language of Eusebius himself, he appears to have stood to him in no relation of natural affinity.
It has been generally supposed, and probably with truth, that Eusebius was a native of Palestine, and perhaps of Cæsarea, where, as he informs us, in his Letter to his people from Nice, f he was instructed in the Christian faith, and baptized. In his youth he must have been a diligent student, for he had great store of such secular learning as a knowledge of Greek, probably his native tongue, and the only one with which he seems to have been familiar, placed within his reach. He was admitted to the priesthood by Agapius, whom he afterwards succeeded in the office of bishop, unless, with some, we assign an intervening episcopate of two or three years to Agricolaus. Among his fellow presbyters was Pamphilus, already alluded to, with whom he lived in the intimacy of the strictest friendship, and whose memory he never ceased to honor. Pamphilus, according to Photius, was a native of Phænicia, and a pupil of the celebrated Pierius of Alexandria, called for his learning a second Origen. He was himself a warm admirer of Origen; he collected and transcribed his
Socrates, Hist. Eccles. Lib. ii. c. 4. + Hist. Lib. iii. c. 28; v. 28; vii. 26. I Socrates, Lib. i. c. 8. Theod. Lib. i. c. 12.
s This name is sometimes placed on the catalogue the Bishops of Cesarea between Agapius and Eusebius, probably, however, erroneously.
works, and while in prison employed himself, in conjunction with Eusebius, in writing his “ Apology,” of which five books were finished before his death, and the sixth added afterwards by his surviving companion. He was fond of literature, and assiduous especially in the study of the Scriptures. He led a strict and philosophic life; he was resolute and persevering in whatever he undertook, and was remarkable for his benevolence. He cherished the cause of education and knowledge, and is reported to have founded a school and library at Cæsarea, of the latter of which some memorials are said still to exist in the collections of Europe. He suffered martyrdom in the year 304, after an imprisonment of two years, during which he constantly enjoyed the solace of his friend's society. In token of his grateful respect and affection, the latter wrote his life in three books, now however lost, and in his “ History” he seems never weary of naming him, and always in terms of tender regard or glowing panegyric.*
After the death of Pamphilus, as it appears, and before the end of the persecution called Diocletian's, Eusebius visited his friend Paulinus at Tyre, where, as he tells us, he was witness of the sufferings and constancy of the Martyrs. He afterwards beheld the sad spectacle of the cruelties to which they were subjected in Egypt and Thebais, f'and was himself thrown into prison. It was insinuated by his enemies that he escaped martyrdom at the expense of his integrity and honor as a Christian, but the reproach seems to have been undeserved. $
* Hist. Lib. vi. 32; vii. 32; viii. 13. - De Mart. Palæst. c. 7, 11.See also Socrates, iii. 7. - Jerome, De Vir. Illust. ; also, Adv. Ruf., and Epist. ad Pam. et Ocean. 41 (al. 65.) Hist. Lib. viii. c. 7.
| Ibid. c. 9. Ś The insinuation, in fact, is destitute of all support, and the charge very improbable. It was not made at the time, nor until some years afterwards, when the part which Eusebius took in the Arian controversy had raised up to him bitter and scornful enemies. It was first brought forward, we believe, by Potamon, an Egyptian bishop, and an adherent of Athanasius. Potamon, a man accustomed to use the utmost license of speech, (as Epiphanius, on whom the authority of the anecdote rests, admits,) indignant at seeing Athanasius, at the Council of Tyre, stand in the character of a culprit, while Eusebius and others were seated as his judges, suddenly bursts out in a strain of loud invective. “Is this,” says he, addressing Eusebius, “ to be endured ? Tell me, were you not with me in custody during the persecution ? I indeed lost an eye in the cause of the truth, but you appear unmutilated in person, - you live and are sound. By what means did you
Tranquillity being restored, and Christians enjoying the smiles of imperial favor under Constantine, the churches, which had been thrown down by the rage of persecuting tyrants, were rebuilt with more than former splendor; festivities and dedications frequently occurred, and all was full of joy and promise. The change was, indeed, great ; dungeons were exchanged for palaces, and the remembrance of past misery heightened the sense of present happiness. Eusebius depicts those halcyon days in warm and glowing colors.* He was now Bishop of Cæsarea, and for some time we hear little of him, except that he was present at the dedication of the new and stately church at Tyre, erected under the auspices of his friend Paulinus, and delivered, on the occasion, as is generally supposed, though we have not his express assertion for it, the oration or address, which he has recorded at length in the tenth book of his “ History.”* We may suppose that he passed his time chiefly in studious retirement, among the volumes collected by Pamphilus, to which he made large additions, examining the records deposited in the other principal sees, and occasionally visiting Jerusalem, where there is said to have been a voluminous library; thus gathering materials for his great works, some of which, as his “ Evangelical Preparation,” and the “Demonstration,” and possibly his “History, may have been composed before the Council of Nice. Within a few years, however, the Arian controversy broke out, and in its progress must have occupied no small portion of his time and thoughts. For a brief history of this controversy we must refer our readers to a former number. † The part which
escape from prison, unless you promised_our persecutors that you would do the nefarious thing, or did it?" (Epiph. Hær. Melit. 68, 57.) Now, it is to be observed, not one word of proof is here offered. All is vague conjecture. Eusebius had found means of leaving prison, how, Potamon does not know; the circumstance, he says, looks suspicious.
No more does Athanasius, the determined foe of Eusebius, venture to affirm that there existed any evidence that the reproach was deserved. He simply quotes a letter of some Egyptian bishops, in which it is intimated that he was accused by their confessors of having sacrificed. (Apol. II. in Arianos.) But could not Athanasius, who, during the time he was seated on the Episcopal throne of Alexandria, might be regarded as the most powerful man in Egypt, easily have obtained proof of the impious act, had it been committed ? The disposition surely was not wanting. “ Was not Eusebius,” it is asked in the Letter, “accused of offering sacrifice to idols ? " And what then? Were not you, Athanasius, accused of foul crimes,
and among others, treason, sacrilege, and murder? And were you not banished by your sovereign as a “pestilent fellow,” the foe of all peace and order ?
Origen, if we mistake not, before Eusebius, was reproached with having thrown incense to idols. The charge was easily made or insinuated, and appears to have been resorted to by the malignity of enemies to depress an adversary or rival.
Multitudes of Christians, and some who had been thrown into prison during the severe persecutions, escaped without any improper compliance. Why might not Eusebius have been of the number? It is certain that his fame stood high immediately after the persecution under Diocletian ceased, for he was very soon advanced to the bishopric of Cæsarea; he was afterwards invited to the see of Antioch; and, finally, enjoyed the confidence of Christians generally to the end of life, which could hardly have been the case had there been any good ground for the charge alluded to. We feel little hesitation, therefore, in pronouncing the insinuation of Athanasius and his friend Potamon a calumny.
* Lib. x. c. 1, 2, 3.
* Cap. 4. It has been usual with ecclesiastical writers to apply to this discourse the epithets “fine," " eloquent,” and the like. Even Le Clerc calls it "une belle harangue," and thinks that the author
ed his name through “ modesty." The general style of speaking and writing, at that time, however, was marked with bad taste, and the piece in question furnishes, in our opinion, no exception. It abounds with Eusebius' usual faults. It is exceedingly loose and immethodical, though not wanting in vivacity and warmth of expression. It is, too, full of the most extravagant panegyric, of which, however, Eusebius could be guilty on occasion. He exalts Paulinus, who seems to have been present and heard the whole, to a place next the Saviour of the world. The conclusion, however, is solemn and scriptural, and the whole breathes a strain of unaffected and fervent piety.
+ Christian Examiner, New Series, Vol. VII. p. 298. Arius, a priest of Alexandria, maintained, in opposition to the extravagant and, in certain respects, novel doctrines of his bishop, Alexander, that the Son was inferior to the Father, that he had a beginning, and was created out of nothing. The first of these propositions was agreeable to the prevailing doctrine of Christians of his time, and had been asserted by all the old fathers of the church. In regard to the second, though these fathers used the term created in application to the Son, and spoke of him as having had a beginning, - that is, as being the beginning of the creation of God, as expressed in Prov. viii. 22, which was uniformly rendered, “The Lord created me the beginning of his ways to his works,” — yet they supposed that he possessed from eternity a sort of metaphysical existence in the Father, that is, existed as an attribute of the Deity, his logos, reason, or wisdom ; that it was, therefore, absurd to say that there was a time when he was not, since the
he took in it may be stated in few words. From first to last he was disposed to favor the Arians, either because he leaned to their opinions, though he seems not fully to have embraced them, or because, as some may think, he understood better than many of his cotemporaries the great principles of Christian liberty, which, however, may be doubtful.
Arius, after his expulsion from Egypt, found a warm and active friend in Eusebius of Nicomedia, who assembled a council in Bithynia, A. D. 323, which made an effort in his favor, but without success.
Alexander still refused to restore him to coinmunion. He then applied to some bishops of Palestine for permission to occupy a church, and perform among his adherents all the functions of a priest. The application was successful chiefly through the influence of Eusebius, the historian, who thus early embarked in the controversy.
At the Council of Nice, as Sozomen informs us, he occupied a seat on the right of the emperor, whom he addressed in a short speech. * Of the part he took in the deliberations of the council we have his own account in his apologetic Letter to his people, already alluded to. In this letter be inserts at
Father was never without reason or wisdom. A little before the creation of the material world, as they generally asserted, this attribute was thrown out, or prolated, as it was expressed, that is, acquired, by a voluntary act of the Father, a separate being, became a personal agent, possessing individual consciousness. This was what they meant, when they spoke of the Son as made or begotten of the Father. They regarded him as a “hypostatized attribute.” This metaphysical nicety Arius discarded, maintaining that though the Son was, next to God, the greatest and best of beings, ranking both in time and dignity as the first and chief of his creation, and immutable, yet he existed not from eternity, nor was made of things that were, but was called into being from nothing, by an act of the Supreme Infinite One, and that he did not exist before he was begotten, and moreover that Alexander himself formerly preached the same doctrine. Arius did not choose to retract; he was popular and much caressed; subtile in argument, keen, discriminating, of irreproachable life, exhibiting all the marks of warm and sincere piety; of a grave aspect, but possessing winning powers of conversation ; and altogether a formidable opponent of his bishop, who, failing to convince his reason, assembled a council of neighbouring bishops, A. D. 322, and drove him and his adherents from the city.
* Eusebius himself simply says, “He of the bishops on the right” rose and addressed the Emperor, suppressing the name. - Life of Constantine, Lib. iii. c. 11. VOL. XVIII. N. S. VOL. XIII. NO. I.