The Ancient Library

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stantine himself was favourable, and a majority of the council decreed its insertion. Eusebius at first hesitated to sign it, but afterwards did so; because, as he told the people of Caesareia in a pastoral letter explanatory of the proceedings at the council (So-crat. i. 5), the emperor had assured him that by the phrase need only be understood an assertion that the Son of God is wholly different from every created being; and that as His nature is entirely spiritual, He was not born from the Father by any division, or separation, or other corporeal pro-* cess. Eusebius, however, always retained his mild feelings on this subject; for he wished to reinstate Arius in his church, in opposition to Athanasius, and he was intimate with his namesake, the bishop of Nicomedeia, a decided Arian. Eusebius had a very strong feeling against pictures of our Lord, and other novelties, which were then creep­ing into the Church. When Constantia, the widow of Licinius and sister of Constantine, re­quested him to send her such a picture, he re­fused, and pronounced all such representations worthy only of heathenism. ( Vit. Const. 1. 3. p. 1069.) These pictures he destroyed when they came in his way, considering them inconsistent with 2 Cor. v. 10 (" Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more"); and he greatly objected (Hist. •Eccl. vii. 18) to a practice prevalent at Caesareia of offering up figures of Christ as an act of thanks­giving for recovery from sickness. It cannot be denied that in some of his objections to pictures of our Lord, he appears to overlook the practical im­portance of His Incarnation to our Christian life. .Eusebius remained in favour with the imperial fa­mily till his death. He was offered the see of Antioch on the death of Eustathius, but declined it, considering the practice of translations objec­tionable, and, indeed, contrary to one of the canons agreed upon at the recent council of Nicaea. For this moderation he was exceedingly praised by Constantine, who declared that he was universally considered worthy to be the bishop not of one city only, but almost of the whole world. (Socrat. H. E. i. 18.) He died about a.d. 340; so that his birth, his elevation to high office, and his death, nearly coincide in time with those of his imperial patron.

The character of Eusebius, and his honesty as a writer, have been made the subject of a fierce attack by Gibbon, who (Decline and Fall^ c. xvi.) accuses him of relating whatever might redound to the credit, and suppressing whatever would tend to cast reproach on Christianity, and represents him as little better than a dishonest sycophant, anxious for nothing higher than the favour of Constantine; and resumes the subject in his <4 Vindication " of the fifteenth and sixteenth chap­ters of the history. For the charge of sycophancy there is but little foundation. The joy of the Christians at Constantine's patronage of the true religion was so great, that he was all but .deified by them both before and after his death; and al­though no doubt Niebuhr (Lectures on Roman History^ Lect. Ixxix. ed. Schmitz) has sufficiently sbswn that Constantine, at least up to the time of his last illness, can only be considered as a pagan j yet, considering that his accession not only termi­nated the persecution which had raged for ten years, but even established Christianity as the state religion, it is not surprising that Eusebius,



like others, should be willing to overlook his faults, and regard him as an especial favourite of Heaven. As to the charge of dishonesty, though we could neither expect nor wish a Christian to be impartial in Gibbon's sense, yet Eusebius has certainly avowed (H. E. viii. 2), that he omits almost all account of the wickedness and dissensions of the Christians, from thinking such stories less edifying than those which display the excellence of religion, by reflecting honour upon the martyrs. The fact that he avows this principle, at once di­minishes our confidence in him as an historian and acquits him of the charge of intentional deceit, to which he would otherwise have been exposed. But besides this, Eusebius has written a chapter (Praep. Evang. xii. 31) bearing the monstrous title,—" How far it may be lawful and fitting to use falsehood as a medicine for the advantage of thdse who require such a method." Now at first sight this naturally raises in our minds a strong prejudice against a person who, being a Christian in profession, could suppose that the use of false­hood can ever be justified; and no doubt the thought was suggested by the pious frauds which are the shame of the early Church. But when we read the chapter itself, we find that the in­stances which Eusebius takes of the extent to which the principle may be carried are the cases in which God is described in the Old Testament as liable to human affections, as jealousy or anger, " which is done for the advantage of those who require such a method." From this explanation it would appear that Eusebius may have meant nothing more than the' principle of accommodating the degree of enlightenment granted from time to time to the knowledge and moral state of man­kind ; and his bnly error consists, in giving the odious name of falsehood to what is practically the most real truth. (See Arnold, Essay appended to Sermons, vol. iL)

The principal works of Eusebius are as follows:—. 1. The Chronicon (xpoviKa nwroScwry/s tcrropias), a work of great value to us in the study of ancient history. For some time it was only known in a fragmentary state, but was discovered entire in an Armenian MS. version at Constantinople, and pub­lished by Mai and Zohrab at Milan, in 1818. It is in two books. The first, entitled xpovoypatyia, contains a sketch of the history of several ancient nations, as the Chaldaeans, Assyrians, Medes, Per­sians, Lydians, Hebrews, and Egyptians. It is chiefly taken from the irevTajSijSAtoy xpovoAo'yi/foi' of Africanus [africanus, sex. julius], and gives lists of kings and other magistrates, with short ac­counts of remarkable events from the creation to the time of Eusebius. The second book consists of synchronological tables, with similar catalogues of rulers and striking occurrences, from the time of Abraham to the celebration of Constantine's Vicennalm at Nicomedeia, A. d. 327, and at Rome, A. d. 328. Eusebius's object in writing it was to give an account of ancient history, previous to the time of Christ, in .order to establish belief in the truth of the Old Testament History, and to point out the superior antiquity of the Mosaic to any other writings". For he says that whereas different accounts had been given of the age of Moses, it would be found from his work that he was con-? temporary with Cecrops, and therefore not only prior to Homer, Hesiod, and the Trojan war, but also to Hercules, Musaeus, Castor, Pollux, Hermes.

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