Chapter XIX.—Epistle of the Emperor Constantine against Eusebius and Theognis, addressed to the Nicomedians.
“Who has taught these doctrines to the innocent multitude? It is manifestly Eusebius, the co-operator in the cruelty of the tyrants. For that he was the creature 405 of the tyrant has been clearly shown; and, indeed, is proved by the slaughter of the bishops, and by the fact that these victims were true bishops. The relentless persecution of the Christians proclaims this fact aloud.
“I shall not here say anything of the insults directed against me, by which the conspiracies of the opposite faction were mainly carried out. But he went so far as to send spies to watch me, and scarcely refrained from raising troops in aid of the tyrant. Let not any one imagine that I allege what I am not prepared to prove. I am in possession of clear evidence; for I have caused the bishops and presbyters belonging to his following to be seized. But I pass over all these facts. I only mention them for the purpose of making these persons ashamed of their conduct, and not from any feeling of resentment.
“There is one thing I fear, one thing which causes me anxiety, and that is to see you charged as accomplices; for you are influenced by the doctrines of Eusebius, and have thus been led away from the truth. But your cure will be speedy, if, after obtaining a bishop who holds pure and faithful doctrines, you will but look unto God. This depends upon you alone; and you would, no doubt, have thus acted long ago, had not the aforesaid Eusebius come here, strongly supported by those then in power, and overturned all discipline.
“As it is necessary to say something more about Eusebius, your patience will remember that a council was held in the city of Nicæa, at which, in obedience to my conscience, I was present, being actuated by no other motive than the desire of producing unanimity among all, and before all else of proving and dispelling the mischief which originated from the infatuation of Arius of Alexandria, and was straightway strengthened by the absurd and pernicious machinations of Eusebius. But, beloved and much-honoured brethren, you know not how earnestly and how disgracefully Eusebius, although convicted by the testimony of his own conscience, persevered in the support of the false doctrines which had been universally condemned. He secretly sent persons to me to petition on his behalf, and personally intreated my assistance in preventing his being ejected from his bishopric, although his crimes had been fully detected. God, who, I trust, will continue His goodness towards you and towards me, is witness to the truth of what I say. I was then myself deluded and deceived by Eusebius, as you shall well know. In everything he acted according to his own desire, his mind being full of every kind of secret evil.
“Omitting the relation of the rest of his misdeeds, it is well that you should be informed of the crime which he lately perpetrated in concert with Theognis, the accomplice of his folly. I had sent orders for the apprehension of certain individuals in Alexandria who had deserted our faith, and by whose means the firebrand of dissension was kindled. But these good gentlemen, forsooth, bishops, whom, by the clemency of the council, I had reserved for penitence, not only received them under their protection, but also participated in their evil deeds. Hence I came to the determination to punish these ungrateful men, by apprehending and banishing them to some far-distant region.
“It is now your duty to look unto God with that same faith which it is clear that you have ever held, and in which it is fitting you should abide. So let us have cause of rejoicing in the appointment of pure, orthodox, and beneficent bishops. If any one should make mention of those destroyers, or presume to speak in their praise, let him know that his audacity will be repressed by the authority which has been committed to me as the servant of God. May God preserve you, beloved brethren!”
The above-mentioned bishops were then deposed and banished. Amphion 406 was entrusted with the church of Nicomedia, and Chrestus 407 with that of Nicæa. But the exiled bishops, employing their customary artifices, abused the benevolence of the emperor, renewed the p. 57 previous contests, and regained their former power.
πρόσφυξ, originally a protected “runaway,” then protégé or client.56:406
Athanasius, Disp Prima Cont. Ar., mentions an Amphion, orthodox bishop of Epiphania in Cilicia Secunda. That he is the same as the Amphion of the text is asserted by Baronius and doubted by Tillemont. Dict. Christ. Biog. s.v.56:407
In 328, Chrestus and Amphion retired on the recantation of Theognis and Eusebius, whose βιβλίον μετανοίας, or act of retractation, is given in Soc. i. xiv.