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both in the way of threats and of promises, Hosius addressed him an admirable letter, which Athanasius has preserved. After declaring his willingness to repeat, should it be necessary, the good confession which he had made in the heathen persecution, he exhorts the Emperor to abandon his unscriptural creed, and to turn his ear from Arian advisers. He states his conviction, that the condemnation of Athanasius was urged merely for the establishment of the heresy; declares, that at Sardica his accusers had been challenged publicly to produce the proof of their allegations, and had failed, and that he himself had conversed with them in private, and could gain nothing satisfactory from them; and he further reminds Constantius, that Valens and Ursacius had before now retracted the charges, which they once urged against him. “Change your course of action, I beseech you," continues the earnest Prelate; “ remember that you are a man. Fear the day of judgment; keep your hands clean against it; meddle not with Church matters; far from advising us about them, rather seek instruction from us. God has put dominion into your hands; to us He has entrusted the management of the Church ; and, as a traitor to you is a rebel to the God who ordained you, so be afraid on your part, lest, usurping ecclesiastical power, you become guilty of a great sin. It is written, ‘Render unto Cæsar, Cæsar's, and what is God's, to God. We may not bear rule; you, O Emperor, may not burn incense. I write this from a care for your soul. As to your message, I remain in the same mind. I do not join the Arians. I anathematize them. I do not subscribe the condemnation of 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. s 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
9 Vid. supra, p. 294
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 aggravated 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;
i Athan. Apol. cont. Arian. 38.