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possible, works of this nature, with which he was engaged, to those concerned in the study of sacred literature.
About the same time, Eusebius dedicated a small book to the emperor Constantine, in which was comprised his description of the Jerusalem church, and of the gifts that had been consecrated there. -Which book, together with his tricennalian oration, that he had placed at the close of his Life of Constantine, is not now extant. At the same time, Eusebius wrote five books against Marcellus; of which the three last, De Ecclesiasticâ Theologia, he dedicated to Flaccillus bishop of Antioch. Flaccillus entered on that bishopric, a little before the synod of Tyre, which was convened in the consulate of Constantius and Albinus, A. D. 335. It is certain that Eusebius, in his First Book* writes in express words, that Marcellus had been deservedly condemned by the church. Now Marcellus was first condemned in the synod held at Constantinople, by those very bishops that had consecrated Constantine's church at Jerusalem, in the year of Christ 335, or, according to Baronius, 336. Socrates,† indeed, acknowledges only three books written by Eusebius against Marcellus, namely, those entitled, "De Ecclesiasticà Theologià;" but the whole work by Eusebius, against Marcellus, comprised Five Books. The last books written by Eusebius, seem to be the four on the life of Constantine; for they were written after the death of that emperor, whom Eusebius did not long survive, since he died about the beginning of the reign of Constantius Augustus, a little before the death of Constantine Junior, which happened, according to the testimony of Socrates' Second Book, when Acindynus and Proculus were consuls, A. D. 340.
We cannot admit, what Scaliger § has affirmed, that Eusebius's books against Porphyry, were written under Constantius, the son of Constantine the Great, especially since this is confirmed by the testimony of no ancient writer. Besides, in what is immediately after asserted by Scaliger, that Eusebius wrote his three last books of the Evangelic Demonstration, against Porphyry, there is an evident error. St. Jerome says, indeed, that Eusebius in three volumes, (that is, in
• De Ecclesiasticà Theologia, chap. 14.
† Eccles. Hist. book 2. chap. 20: where see note k. + Chap. 4 & 5.
§ In his Animadversions on Eusebius, page 250, last edit. Namely, the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth.
the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth,) answered Porphyry, who in the Twelfth and Thirteenth of those books which he published against the Christians, had attempted to confute the book of the prophet Daniel. St. Jerome, however, does not mean, as Scaliger thought, Eusebius's Books on Evangelic Demonstration, but the books he wrote against Porphyry, entitled, according to Photius's Bibliotheca, miei "ixiy zou x', Refutation and Defence. We are also persuaded that Eusebius wrote these books after his Ecclesiastic History; because Eusebius, though on other occasions he usually refers to his own works, does not in the Sixth Bookt of his Ecclesiastic History, where he quotes a notorious passage from Porphyry, make any mention of the books he wrote against him.
We avail ourselves of the present opportunity to make some re marks relative to Eusebius's Ecclesiastic History, the chief subject of our present labour and exertions. Much, indeed, had been written by our Eusebius, both against Jews and Heathens, to the edification of the orthodox and general church, and in confirmation of the verity of the Christian faith, nevertheless, amongst all his books, his Ecclesiastic History deservedly stands pre-eminent. For before Eusebius, many had written in defence of Christianity, and had, by the most satisfactory arguments, refuted the Jews on the one hand and the Heathens on the other, but not one, before Eusebius, had delivered to posterity a history of ecclesiastic affairs. On which account, therefore, because Eusebius, not only was the first to show this example, but has transmitted to us, what he undertook, in a state so complete and perfect, he is entitled to the greater commendation. Though many, it is true, induced by his example, have, since his time, furnished accounts of ecclesiastic affairs, yet they have not only uniformly commenced their histories from the times of Eusebius, but have left him to be the undisputed voucher of the period of which he yet remains the exclusive historian, and consequently he only is entitled to the epithet of the father of ecclesiastic history.
By what preliminary circumstances Eusebius was led to this his chef-d'œuvre, it is not difficult to conjecture. Having in his Chronological Canons accurately stated the time of the advent and passion of Jesus Christ, the names of the several bishops that had presided in the four principal churches, and of the eminent characters therein,
and having also detailed an account of the successive heresies and persecutions, he was, as it were, led by insensible degrees to write a history specially on ecclesiastic affairs, to furnish a full developement of what had been but briefly sketched in his Chronological Canons. This, indeed, is expressly confirmed by Eusebius in his preface to that work; where he also implores the forbearance of the candid reader, on account of his work being less circumstantial, consequent on his travelling in a path before untrod, and his being precluded from the intimations on that subject of any previous writer. Though this, it is true, in the view of some, may appear not so much an apology, as an indirect device of acquiring praise.
Though it is evident from Eusebius's own testimony, that he wrote his Ecclesiastic History, after his Chronological Canons, it is remarkable that the twentieth yeart of Constantine is a limit common to both those works. Nor is it less singular, that, though the Nicene Council was held in that year,‡ yet no mention is made of it in either work. But in his Chronicle, at the fifteenth year of Constantine, we read that “Alexander is ordained the nineteenth bishop of the Alexandrian church, by whom Arius the presbyter being expelled, joins many to his own impiety. A synod, therefore, of three hundred and eighteen bishops, is convened at Nice, a city of Bithynia, who by their agreement on the terms, (consubstantial, or co-essential) suppressed all the devices of the heretics." It is sufficiently evident that these words were not written by Eusebius, but by St. Jerome, who in Eusebius's Chronicle inserted many passages of his own. For, not to mention that this reference to the Nicene Council is inserted in a place with which it has no proper connexion, who could believe that Eusebius would thus write concerning Arius, or should have inserted the term uses in his own Chronicle; which word, as we shall hereafter state, was not satisfactory to him. Was it likely that Eusebius should, in the Chronicle, state that three hundred and eighteen bishops were present at the Nicene synod, and in his Third§ Book on the Life of Constantine, say expressly that something more than two hundred and fifty sat in that council? We doubt not, however, that the Ecclesiastical History was not completely finished by Eusebius till some years after the council at Nice. As Dionysius of
Book 1. chap. 1.
† i. e. A. D. 325.
* On Constantine's Vicennalia, that is, on the twentieth year of his empire. § Chap. 8.
Halicarnassus, in his Comparison of Herodotus and Thucydides, had long since intimated to the writers of histories, the propriety of terminating their narratives at the consummation of some illustrious event, Eusebius had, therefore, it is likely, resolved to close his history with that peace, which after Diocletian's persecution shone, as he observes, like a light from heaven upon the church; on this account, probably, he avoided mentioning the Nicene synod, lest he should be compelled to commence a narrative of renewed litigation, and that too of bishops one amongst another. Now what event more illustrious could have been desired by Eusebius, than that repose, which after a most sanguinary persecution, had been restored to the Christians by Constantine; when the persecutors, and Licinius being every where extinct, not a fear of past afflictions could exist. This epoch, therefore, rather than that of the Nicene council, afforded the most eligible limit to his Ecclesiastical History. For in that synod, the contentions seemed not so much appeased as renewed; and that not through any fault of the synod itself, but by the pertinacity of those who refused to acquiesce in the very salutary decrces of that venerable assembly.
Having said thus much relative to the life and writings of Euse bius, it remains to make some remarks in reference to the soundness of his religious faith and sentiments. Let not the reader, however, here expect from us a defence, nor even any opinion of our own, but rather the judgment of the church and of the ancient fathers concerning him. Wherefore, certain points shall be here premised, as preliminary propositions, relying on which, we may arrive at the greater certainty relative to the faith of Eusebius. As the opinions of the ancients concerning Eusebius, are various, since some have termed him a Catholic, others a heretic, others a grov,* a person of a double tongue, or wavering faith, it is incumbent on us to inquire to which opinion we should chiefly assent. Of the law it is an inva riable rule, to adopt, in doubtful cases, the more lenient opinion as the safer alternative. Besides, since all the westerns, St. Jerome excepted, have entertained honourable sentiments relative to Eusebius, and since the Gallican church has enrolled† him in the catalogue of saints, it is questionless preferable to assent to the judgment of our
• See Socrates, lib. 1. c. 23.
† As may be learned from Victorius Aquitanus, the Martyrology of Usuardus, und from others.
fathers, than to that of the eastern schismatics. In short, whose authority ought to be more decisive in this matter than that of the bishops of Rome? But Galesius, in his work on the Two Natures, has recounted our Eusebius amongst the catholic writers, and has quoted two authorities out of his books. Pope Pelagius,* too, terms him the most honourable amongst historians, and pronounces him to be free from every taint of heresy, notwithstanding he had highly eulogized heretical Origen. Some, however, may say, that since the easterns were better acquainted with Eusebius, a man of their own language, a preference should be given, in this case, to their judg ment. Even amongst these, Eusebius does not want those, Socratest and Gelasius Cyzicenust for exanfple, who entertained a favourable opinion concerning him. But if the judgment of the Seventh Oecumenical Synod be opposed to any inclination in his favour, our answer is ready. The faith of Eusebius was not the subject of that synod's debate, but the worship of images. In order to the subversion of which, when the opponents that had lately assembled in the imperial city, had produced evidence out of Eusebius's letter to Constantia, and laid the greatest stress thereon, the fathers of the Seventh Synod, to invalidate the authority of that evidence, exclaimed that Eusebius was an Arian. But this was done merely casually, from the impulse of the occasion, and hatred of the letter, not advisedly, or from a previous investigation of the charge. They produce some passages, it is true, from Eusebius, to insinuate that he was favourable to the Arian hypothesis; but they avoid all discrimination between what Eusebius wrote prior to the Nicene Council, and what he wrote afterwards, which, questionless, ought to have been done as essential to a just decision relative to Eusebius's faith. In short, nothing written by Eusebius before that synod is fairly chargeable in this respect, against him. Eusebius's letter to Alexander, containing his intercession with that prelate for Arius, was of course, written before that council. The affirmation, therefore, of the fathers of the Seventh Synod, notwithstanding it has the semblance of the highest authority, seems rather to have the character of temerity and premature judgment, than to be the verdict of a synod derived from a judicial investigation of the cause. The Greeks may assume the
• In Epist. Tertiâ ad Eliam Aqueleiensem et alios Episcopos Istri.
†Sec his Defence of him, in book 2. chap. 21. * De Synod. Nicænâ, book 2. chap. 1.