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Athanasius?.” Hosius did not address such language with impunity to a Court, which affected the majesty of oriental despotism. He was summoned to Sirmium, and thrown into prison. There he remained for a whole year. Tortures were added to force the old man from his resolution. He was scourged, and afterwards placed upon the rack. Mysterious it was, that so honoured a life should be preserved to an extremity of age, to become the sport and triumph of the Enemy of mankind. At length broken in spirit, the contemporary of Gregory and Dionysius was induced to countenance the impieties of the generation, into which he had lived; not indeed signing the condemnation of Athanasius, for he spurned that baseness to the last, but yielding subscription to a formulary, which forbad the mention of the Homoüsion, and thus virtually condemned the creed of Nicæa, and countenanced the Arian proceedings. Hosius lived about two years after this tragical event : and, on his deathbed, he protested against the compulsion which had been used towards him, and, with his last breath, abjured the heresy which dishonoured his Divine Lord and Saviour.
Meanwhile, the great Egyptian prelate, seated on his patriarchal throne, had calmly prosecuted the work, for which he was raised up, as if his name had not been mentioned in the Arian Councils, and the troubles, which agitated the Western Church, were not the prelude to the blow, which was to fall on himself. Untutored in concession to impiety, by the experience or the prospect of suffering, yet, sensitively alive to the difference between misbelief and misapprehension, while he punished he spared, and restored in the spirit of meekness, while he rebuked and rejected with power. On his return to Alexandria, seven years previous to the events last recorded, congratulations and professions of attachment poured in upon him from the provinces of the whole Roman world, near and distant. From Africa to Illyricum, and from England to Palestine, 400 episcopal letters solicited his communion or patronage ; and apologies, and the officiousness of personal service were liberally tendered by those, who, through cowardice, dulness, or self-interest, had joined themselves to the heretical party. Nor did Athanasius fail to improve the season of prosperity, for the true moral strength and substantial holiness of the people committed to him. The sacred services were diligently attended ; alms and benefactions supplied the wants of the friendless and infirm; and the young turned their thoughts to that . generous consecration of themselves to God, recommended by St. Paul in times of trouble and persecution.
7 Athan. Hist. Arian. ad Monach. 44. 8 Vide supr. p. 128.
In truth the sufferings, which the Church of Alexandria had lately undergone from the hands of the Eusebians, were sufficient to indispose serious minds towards secular engagements, or vows of duty to a fellow-mortal; to quench those anticipations of quietness and peace, which the overthrow of paganism had at first excited; and to remind them, that the girdle of celibacy and the
lamp of watchers best became those, on whom God's judgments might fall suddenly. Not more than ten years were gone by, since Gregory, appointed to the see of Athanasius by the Council of the Dedication, had been thrust upon them by the Imperial Governor, with the most frightful and revolting outrages. Philagrius, an apostate from the Christian faith, and Arsacius, an eunuch of the Court, introduced the Eusebian Bishop into his episcopal city. A Church besieged and spoiled, the massacre of the assembled worshippers, the clergy trodden under foot, the women subjected to the most infamous profanations, these were the first benedictory greetings scattered by the Arian among his people. Next, bishops were robbed, beaten, imprisoned, banished; the sacred elements of the Eucharist were scornfully cast about by the heathen rabble, which seconded the usurping party ; birds and fruits were offered in sacrifice on the holy table; hymns chanted in honour of the idols of paganism; and the Scriptures given to the flames.
Such had already been the trial of a much-enduring Church; and it might suddenly be renewed in spite of its present prosperity. The Council of Sardica, convoked principally to remedy these miserable disorders, had in its Synodal Letter warned the Alexandrian Catholics against relaxing in the brave testimony they were giving to the faith of the Gospel. “We exhort you, beloved brethren, before all things, that ye hold the right faith of the Catholic Church. Many and grievous have been your sufferings, and many are the insults and injuries inflicted
on the Catholic Church, but 'he, who endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved.' Wherefore, should they essay further enormities against you, let affliction be your rejoicing. For such sufferings are a kind of martyrdom, and such confessions and tortures have their reward. Ye shall receive from God the combatant's prize. Wherefore struggle with all might for the sound faith, and for the exculpation of our brother Athanasius, your bishop. We on our part have not been silent about you, nor neglected to provide for your security; but have been mindful, and done all that Christian love requires of us, suffering with our suffering brethren, and accounting their trials as our own?.”
The time was now at hand, which was anticipated by the prophetic solicitude of the Sardican Fathers. The same year in which Hosius was thrown into prison, the furies of heretical malice were let loose upon the Catholics of Alexandria. George of Cappadocia, a man of illiterate mind and savage manners, was selected by the Eusebians as their new substitute for Athanasius in the see of that city; and the charge, of executing this extraordinary determination was committed to Syrianus, Duke of Egypt. The scenes which followed are but the repetition, with more aggrayated' horrors, of the atrocities perpetrated by the intruder. Gregory. Syrianus entered Alexandria at night; and straightway proceeded with his soldiers to one of the churches, where the Alexandrians were engaged in the services of religion. We have the account of the irruption from Athanasius himself;
1 Athan. Apol. cont. Arian. 38.
who, being accused by the Arians of cowardice, on occasion of his subsequent flight, after defending his conduct from Scripture, describes the circumstances, under which he was driven from his Church. “It was now night," he says, “and some of our people were keeping vigil, as communion was in prospect; when the Duke Syrianus suddenly came upon us, with a force of above 5000 men, prepared for attack, with drawn swords, bows, darts, and clubs, ... and surrounded the church with close parties of the soldiery, that none might escape from within. There seemed an impropriety in my deserting my congregation in such a riot, instead of hazarding the danger in their stead; so I placed myself in my bishop's chair, and bade the deacon read the Psalm (Ps. cxxxvi.), and the congregation alternate for His mercy endureth for ever,' and then all retire and go home. But the General bursting at length into the church, and his soldiers blocking up the chancel, with a view of arresting me, the clergy and some of my people present began in their turn clamorously to urge me to withdraw myself. However, I refused to do so, before one and all in the church were gone. Accordingly I stood up, and directed prayer to be said ; and then I urged them all to depart first, for that it was better that I should run the risk, than any of them suffer. But by the time that most of them were gone out, and the rest were following, the Religious Brethren and some of the clergy, who were immediately about me, ran up the steps, and dragged me down. And so, be truth my witness, though the soldiers blockaded the chancel, and were in motion round about the church, the Lord lead