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CX. To Domnus, Bishop of Antioch.18571857 This letter is placed by Garnerius in the end of 447 on account of its allusion to Proclus, who died in October 447, and to the deposition of Irenæus of Tyre, for which the formal edict was issued in Feb. 448, but which was perhaps rumoured earlier. But by some the death of Proclus is placed a year earlier.
When I read your letter I
remembered the very blessed Susannah, who when she saw the famous
villains, and believed that the God of all was present, uttered that
remarkable cry, “I am straitened on every side;”18581858 Susannah
22 but nevertheless preferred to fall
into the snares of slander rather than to despise the just God. And I,
sir, have two alternatives as I have often said, to offend God and
wound my conscience, or to fall by man’s unjust sentence. The
most pious emperor, I think, knows nothing of this. For what hindered
him from writing, and ordering the ordination to take place, if in
truth it so pleased him? Why in the world do they utter threats without
and cause alarm, and yet do not send letters openly ordering it? One of
two things must be true; either the very pious emperor is not induced
to write, or they are trying to make us break the law and afterwards be
indicted by them for illegality. I have before me the example of the
blessed Principius,18591859 Of the blessed Principius nothing is known. cf. Tillemont, XV.
267. for in that
case, when they had given orders by writing, they punished him for
obedience. Moreover the letters which I read on the very day of the
letter-bearer’s arrival are of a contrary tenour. For one of the
holy monks has written to some one that he has received letters both
from the very illustrious guardsman and the very glorious ex-magister
stating that the case of the very godly lord bishop Irenæus will
stand more favourably, and in return for this good will they ask
prayers on their behalf. I think therefore that a reply ought to be
written to the clergy who have written from the imperial city to the
effect that18601860 “The phraseology of this letter has given rise to much
misapprehension. The use of the first person has led some to suppose
that Theodoret, who belonged to another province, was the consecrator
of Irenæus, or that he took part in his consecration, or even with
the Abbé Martin (le Pseudo-Synode d’Éphèse, pp.
84, 85) that it is erroneously ascribed to Theodoret, and was really
written by Domnus. It is clear from the tenor of the epistle that it
was written by Theodoret, and that the first person is employed by him
as writing in Domnus’ name. (Tillemont xv. pp. 871, 872.)”
Dict. Christ. Biog. iii. 281 n.
It is in consonance with this theory that Alexander of Antioch is described as bishop of this apostolic see, a phrase natural for Domnus to use, but not for Theodoret. “in obedience to the sentence of the very godly bishops of Phœnicia, and knowing both the zeal and the magnanimity and love for the poor and all the other virtues of the very godly bishop Irenæus, and in addition to this the orthodoxy of his opinions, I have ordained him. I am not aware that he has ever objected to apply to the holy Virgin the title ‘Theotokos,’ or has ever held any other opinions contrary to the doctrines of the Gospel. As to the question of digamy, I have followed my predecessors; for Alexander of blessed and sacred memory, the ornament of this apostolic see, as well as the very blessed Acacius, bishop of Berœa, ordained Diogenes of blessed memory who was a ‘digamus;’18611861 It is uncertain who this Diogenes was; he cannot have been Diogenes of Cyzicus, for he was alive and present at Chalcedon in 451. and similarly the blessed Praylius ordained Domninus of Cæsarea who was a ‘digamus.’18621862 No more is known of Domninus or Praylius. cf. p. 157. “It is clear from the Philosophumena of Hippolytus (ix, 12.) that by the beginning of the third century the rule of monogamy for the clergy was well established, since he complains that in the days of Callistus ‘digamist and trigamist bishops, priests, and deacons began to be admitted.’” Dict. Christ. Ant. i. 552. We have therefore followed precedent, and the example of men well known and illustrious both for learning and character. Proclus, bishop of Constantinople, of blessed memory well aware of this and many other instances, both himself accepted the ordination, and wrote in praise and admiration of it. So too did the leading godly bishops of the Pontic Diocese,18631863 The Pontic Diocese is one of the twelve civil divisions of the Constantinian empire. and all the Palestinians.
“No doubt has been raised about the matter, and we hold it wrong to condemn a man illustrious for many and various noble actions.” In my opinion it is becoming to write in these terms. If your holiness holds any other view, let what seems good to you be done. I, as they suppose, have undergone one punishment, and am ready by God’s help to undergo yet another. Even a third and fourth, if they like, by the stay of God’s grace I will endure, praising the Lord. If your holiness thinks right, let us see what answer comes from Palestine, and, after considering more exactly what course is to be taken, let us so write to Constantinople.
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