Ambrose

, deacon of Alexandria, the intimate friend and admirer of Origen, was a man of great learning and | piety, and worthy of being recorded, although his history has not in all particulars been exactly ascertained. Eusebius says that he followed the Valentinian heresy, but was brought over to orthodoxy by the preaching of Origen. St. Jerome says that he was at first a Marcionite, but being convinced of his error by Origen, he became a deacon of the church, and had the honour of suffering for Christ, as a confessor. To him, he adds, and to Protoctetus, Origen inscribed his book on Martyrdom, and dedicated to him many other volumes which were published at his desire and expence. Ambrose was a man of a good family, and of considerable wit, as his letters to Origen show. He died before Origen, and is blamed by many, because, though he was rich, he did not at his death remember his friend, who was not only poor, but in his old age.

Of these two accounts of Ambrose’s first opinions, Dr. Lardner prefers that of Eusebius, and thinks that Ambrose’s conversion from the heresy of Valentinus, took place about the year 212. Eusebius says nothing of his being a deacon of the church of Alexandria, which we have named him, and Dr. Lardner is inclined to think he held that office in the church of Csesarea. Origen, in a letter of which a fragment only remains, calls him “a man indeed devoted to God,” and speaks of his earnest desire to understand the scriptures, and of his great application to them. He had a wife, named Marcella, by whom he had several children; she is commended by Origen as a true Christian, and faithful wife. Eusebius also informs us, that Ambrose was the person who excited Origen to write commentaries upon the scriptures, and that not only by words and entreaties, but by supplies of all things necessary, furnishing him with amanuenses, whom he paid liberally. With respect to his bequeathing nothing to Origen, Tillemont thinks that Ambrose knew his friend’s mind, and that Origen chose to be poor, and to live in a dependence on providence. St. Jerome speaks of Ambrose’s “Epistles;” but there are none of them extant. It appears by the best conjectures, that he lived nearly to the year 250. 1

1

Gen. Dict. Lardner’s Works, vol. III. p. 191. —Moreri.