Chapter XXVIII.—The Arians, under the Impression that the divine Meletius upheld their Sentiments, translate him from Sebaste to Antioch. On his Bold Confession of the Orthodox Doctrines, they were confounded, and after they had deposed him they placed Euzoïus in the See. Meletius formed his own Church: but those who held to Consubstantiality turned away from him because he had been ordained by Arians.
At the period that Eudoxius obtained the government of the church of Constantinople, 1354 there were many aspirants to the see of Antioch; and as is frequently the case under such circumstances, contentions and seditions divided the clergy and the people of that church.
Each party was anxious to commit the government of the church to a bishop of its own persuasion; for interminable disputes concerning doctrine were rampant among them, and they could not agree as to the mode of singing psalms; and, as has been before stated, psalms were sung by each individual, in conformity with his own peculiar creed. Such being the state of the church at Antioch, the partisans of Eudoxius thought it would be well to intrust the bishopric of that city to Meletius, then bishop of Sebaste, he being possessed of great and persuasive eloquence, of excellent life, and all, as they imagined, being of like opinions with themselves. They believed that his reputation would attract the inhabitants of Antioch and of the neighboring cities to conform to their heresy, particularly those called Eustathians, who had adhered invariably to the Nicene doctrines. But their expectations were utterly frustrated. It is said that on his first arrival in Antioch, an immense multitude, composed of Arians, and of those who were in communion with Paulinus, flocked around him. Some wished to see the man because his fame was great, even before his coming; others were anxious to hear what he had to say, and to ascertain the nature of his opinions; for a report had been spread abroad which was afterwards proved to be true, that he maintained the doctrines of those convened at Nicæa. In his first discourses he confined himself to instructing the people in what we call ethics; afterwards, however, he openly declared that the Son is of the same substance as the Father. It is said that at these words, the arch deacon of the church, who was then one of the clergy there, stretched out his hand, and covered the mouth of the preacher; but that he continued to explain his sentiments more clearly by means of his fingers than he could by language. He extended three fingers only towards the people, closed them, and then allowed only one finger to remain extended, and thus expressed by signs what he was prevented from uttering. As the archdeacon, in his embarrassment, seized the hand, he released the mouth; the tongue was free, and Meletius declared his opinion still more clearly and with a loud voice, and exhorted his auditors to adhere to the tenets of the council of Nicæa, and he testified to his hearers that those who held other views deviated from the truth. As he persisted in the enunciation of the same sentiments, either by word of mouth or by means of signs, when the archdeacon closed his mouth, a contention between both sides occurred, not unlike that of the pancratium; the followers of Eustathius shouted aloud and rejoiced and leaped, while the Arians were cast down. Eudoxius and his partisans were transported with indignation at this discourse, and contrived by their machinations to expel Meletius from Antioch. Soon afterwards, however, they recalled him, for they fancied he had renounced his former sentiments and had espoused theirs. As, however, it soon became apparent that his devotion to the Nicene doctrines was firm and unalterable, he was ejected from the church, and banished by order of the emperor; and the see of Antioch was conferred on Euzoïus, who had formerly been banished with Arius. The followers of Meletius separated themselves from the Arians, and held their assemblies apart, for those who had from the beginning maintained that the Son is consubstantial with the Father refused to admit them into communion, because Meletius had been ordained by Arian bishops, and because his followers had been baptized by Arian priests. For this reason they were separated, although holding the same views.
The emperor having been informed that an Insurrection was about to arise in Persia, repaired to Antioch.
Soc. ii. 44. The order is the same in Soz., but with many new details. Philost. v. 1, 5; Ruf. H. E. i. 24. Cf. Theodoret, H. E. ii. 31.