Chapter II.—Of the return of Athanasius.
Delighted with these words the emperor undertook for the future to take counsel for the safety of the state, and how to bring home the army without loss from the campaign. He was in no need of much deliberation, but at once reaped the fruit sprung from the seeds of true religion, for the God of all gave proof of His own providence, and caused all difficulty to disappear. No sooner had the Persian sovereign been made acquainted with Jovians accession than he sent envoys to treat for peace; nay more, he despatched provisions for the troops and gave directions for the establishment of a market for them in the desert. A truce was concluded for thirty years, and the army brought home in safety from the war. 667 The first edict of the emperor on setting foot upon his own territory was one recalling the bishops from their exile, and announcing the restoration of the churches to the congregations who had held inviolate the confession of Nicæa. He further sent a despatch to Athanasius, the famous champion of these doctrines, beseeching that a letter might be written to him containing exact teaching on matters of religion. Athanasius summoned the most learned bishops to meet him, and wrote back exhorting the emperor to hold fast the faith delivered at Nicæa, as being in harmony with apostolic teaching. Anxious to benefit all who may meet with it I here subjoin the letter. 668
The terms were in fact humiliating, “pacem cum Sapore necessariam quidem sed ignobilem fecit; multatus finibus, ac nonnulla imperii Romani parte tradita: quod ante eum annis mille centum et duobus de viginti fere ex quo Romanum imperium conditum erat, nunquam accidit.” Eut. brev x. 17.108:668
“Gibbon (Chap. xxv) sneers at Athanasius for assuring Jovian that his orthodox faith would be rewarded with a long and peaceful reign, and remarks that after his death this charge was omitted from some mss., referring to Valesius on the passage of Theodoret, and Jortins Remarks, iv. p. 38. But the expression is not that of a prophet who stakes his credit on the truth of his prediction, but little more than a pious reflection, of the nature of a wish.” Bp. J. Wordsworth, Dict. Christ. Biog. iii. 463. n. Jortin says “the good bishops μαντική failed him sadly; and the emperor reigned only one year, and died in the flower of his age.” The note of Valesius will be found below.