2.1.1 “Therefore, when Constantine was proclaimed sole emperor and obtained absolute power by the assistance God had given him, he promoted the interests of Christians ever more eagerly. He did this in various ways, for he possessed a burning faith as well as a deeply rooted and extremely faithful devotion to the God of all. The whole church under heaven enjoyed profound peace.”1

2.1.2 Let us now listen to what the most excellent ploughman of ecclesiastical farming, truth-loving Eusebius, successor of the renowned Pamphilus, says:

2.1.3 “Licinius therefore followed a path of impiety like that of the godless tyrants and, as one might expect, staggered off the same cliff as they had.

2.1.4 And so he lay dead in the place where he had fallen, but Maximus Victor Augustus Constantinus, who excelled in every pious virtue, together with his son Crispus, a God-loving Caesar who was just like his father in everything, regained control of the eastern lands and made the Roman Empire one united empire as it formerly had been. Thus he brought peace to the whole globe, from east to west, over the north and south poles, and over the equator as well.

2.1.5 As a result, mankind had no reason to fear that anyone would oppress them, and they celebrated joyous and jovial festival days. Everything was full of light, and those who had previously been downcast greeted each other with smiling faces and beaming eyes. They even sang songs of praise throughout city and countryside. They gave honor especially to God their Emperor and Christ his true Son because they had been taught to do so, and then they honored their pious emperor together with his God-loving sons.

2.1.6 They forgot all about the evils of the past and all ungodliness, and they enjoyed good times and expected even better times to come. Thus decrees and laws which displayed the victorious emperor’s kindness were introduced everywhere, revealing his generosity and true piety.

2.1.7 In this way, after he had cleaned out all tyranny, Constantine and his sons’ absolute rule over the empire was secure and unrivaled.”2

2.1.8 Those, then, are the exact words of the ecclesiastical history which the most reliable of the ancient ecclesiastical writers, Eusebius Pamphili, left behind for us, ten books in all, after he had endured so much labor and had investigated, putting his account together from the simple sources.

2.1.9 He began at the Lord’s coming and ended at the times just discussed after more than a little labor. (How else could he have taken on such a great task and preserved the unity of such a vast collection?) As I just said, he expended much effort and a vast amount of labor.

2.1.10 However, no one should form an opinion of the man based on the things alleged about him, such as that at one time he somewhat favored Arius’s depraved blasphemy. Rather, he should be confident that even if he said or wrote some things which are considered a little bit Arian, it was not because he agreed with Arius’s ungodly opinion, but because of his straightforward simplicity, just as he himself also testified in his statement of defense, which he sent to the community of orthodox bishops, thus giving full assurance about his beliefs.

2.1.11 Everyone who rightly takes into consideration when the man lived will realize as a result that the teachings of Arius had never yet been heard in any place and will conclude that he was telling the truth. This was also demonstrated at the Synod of Nicaea when he contended against Arius’s ungodliness on behalf of the apostolic and orthodox faith.

2.1.12 But let us return to the sequence of events of our church history.3 Christ our Savior’s church throughout the world enjoyed profound peace, which God, the Absolute Emperor, obtained for it through his servant Constantine and his sons.

2.1.13 After the martyrdom of blessed Peter, bishop of the church of Alexandria, who by his martyrdom became perfect and received the imperishable crown for his struggle, the church there was without a bishop for one year.

2.1.14 After that year, Achillas was elected to the episcopal see of the holy martyr Peter. Achillas was a strong, good-natured, holy-minded man who stood out because of his godly reverence and exceedingly great wisdom, as the accurate old writings relate to us. After much persuasion, he received Arius into the diaconate.

2.1.15 When Achillas died only five months after becoming bishop, Alexander immediately took up authority as bishop over the church of Alexandria. He was an honorable man in every respect to all the clergy and laity of the church. He was small in stature, generous, eloquent, and gentle. He loved God, loved people, and loved the poor. He was helpful and kind to all, as much as or more than anyone else. He himself also appointed Arius priest very near to him.

2.1.16 In his time, the churches enjoyed peace, which kept shining ever more radiantly day by day and brought them into absolute harmony with each other. This peace was extolled everywhere on earth, to the benefit of the holy martyrs. But the devil could not stand the fact that the number of faithful people of the church was growing so much because of the heavenly worship of God within it, so he once again instigated tumult through a love of strife among those in the church.

Next Chapter – 2.2 The heresy invented by Arius, the fighter-against-God

Previous Chapter – 1.12 The victory of the God-loving Emperor Constantine over the ungodly Licinius

Click here to read Book 1 in its entirety.

Created by NJ 6-26-17

Updated by RR 5-27-21

  1. Hansen identifies 2.1.1 as a quotation from Gelasius of Caesarea, H.E., Fragm. 9.
  2. The quotation from 2.1.3-7 is from Eusebius, H.E., 10.9.5-9.
  3. After the long aside in 2.1.2-11 on Eusebius, the author again picks up his narrative of the church’s progress under the rule of Constantine.

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