Eusebius

, an eminent ecclesiastical historian, surnamed Pamphilus, from his friendship with Pamphilus the Martyr, was born in Palestine, about A. D. 267. Cave thinks it probable, that he was born at Coesarea; but we have no account of his parents, or his masters. He tells us himself, that he was educated in Palestine, and saw Constantine there, while he travelled through that country in the retinue of Diocletian. He was ordained priest by Agapius, bishop of Caesarea, where he contracted an intimacy with Pamphilus, an eminent presbyter of that church. During the persecution under Diocletian, he exhorted the Christians to suffer resolutely for the faith of Christ; and particularly assisted his friend Pamphilus, who suffered martyrdom in the year 309, after two years imprisonment. In the time of the same persecution he went to Tyre, where he was ah eye-witness of the glorious combats of the five Egyptian martyrs. He was likewise in Egypt and at Thebais, where he saw the admirable | constancy of many martyrs of both sexes, and was himself imprisoned. He has been reproached with having offered incense to idols in this persecution, in order to free himself from prison. This imputation was fixed upon him by Potomon, bishop of Heraclea, at the council of Tyre. Epiphanius informs us that Potomon, seeing Eusebius sitting in the council, cried out, “Is it fit, Eusebius, that you should sit, and that the innocent Athanasius should stand to be judged by you Who can bear such things as these Tell me, were not you in prison with me during the time of the persecution I lost an eye in defence of the truth but you are maimed in no part of your body, nor did you suffer martyrdom, but are whole and alive. By what means did you escape out of prison, unless you promised our persecutors that you would do the detestable thing, and perhaps have done itEpiphanius adds, that Eusebius, hearing this, rose and broke the assembly, saying, “If, when you are out of your own country, you say such things against us, it is certain that your accusers must be in the right: for, if you exercise your tyranny here, you will do it with much more assurance in your own country.” Valesius observes, from the above-cited passage of Epiphanius, that those persons are mistaken, who relate that Eusebius had sacrificed to idols, and that it was openly objected to him in the council of Tyre; since Potomon did not charge him with it, but only grounded a suspicion on his being dismissed safe and whole. Besides, as Cave very properly remarks, had he really sacrificed, the discipline of the church was then so rigid, that he would have been degraded from his orders; at least, would never have been advanced to the episcopal dignity. Dr. Lardner has also brought various authorities to prove this accusation unfounded.

When the persecution was over, and peace restored to the church, Eusebius was elected bishop of Caesarea, in Palestine, in the room of Agapius, who was dead; and this was about the year 3 13 or 315. He had afterwards a considerable share in the contest relating to Arius, priest of Alexandria; whose cause he, as well as other bishops of Palestine, defended at first, upon a persuasion that Arius had been unjustly persecuted by Alexander, bishop of Alexandria. He not only wrote to that bishop in favour of Arius, but likewise, not being able to procure his restoration, permitted him and his followers to preserve their | rank, and to hold in their churches the ordinary assemblies of the faithful, on condition that they should submit to their bishop, and intreat him to restore them to communion. He assisted at the council of Nice, held in the year 325, and made a speech to the emperor Constantine, at whose right hand he was placed, when he came to the council. He at first refused to admit of the term Consubstantial; and the long and formal opposition which he made to it occasioned a suspicion for which there seems to be very good ground, that he was not altogether sincere, when he subscribed, as he did at length, to the Nicene creed. About the year 330 he was present at the council of Antioch, in which Eustathius. bishop of that city, was deposed, but though he consented to his deposition, and was elected to the see of Antioch in his room, he absolutely refused it; and when the bishops wrote to Constantine to desire him to oblige Eusebius to consent to the election, he wrote also to the emperor, to request him that he would not urge him to accept of it; which Constantine readily granted, and at the same time commended his moderation. Eusebius assisted at the council of Tyre held in the year 335 against Athanasius; and at the assembly of bishops at Jerusalem, when the church was dedicated there. He was sent by those bishops to Constantine, to defend what they had done against Athanasius; and it was then that he pronounced his panegyric upon that emperor, during the pubHe rejoicings in the 30th year of his reign, which was the last of his life. He was honoured with very particular marks of Constantine’s esteem: he frequently received letters from him, several of which are inserted in his books; and he was often invited to the emperor’s table, and admitted into private discourse with him. When Constantine wanted copies of the scriptures for the use of those churches which he had built at Constantinople, he conn mitted the care of transcribing them to Eusebius, whom he knew to be well skilled in those affairs; and when Eusebius dedicated to him his book “concerning Easter,” he ordered it immediately to be translated into Latin, and desired our author to communicate as soon as possible the other works of that nature which he had then in hand.

Eusebius did not long survive Constantine, for he. died about the year 33 o, according to Dupin; or the year 340, according to Valesius. He wrote several great and important works, of which among those that are extant we | have, 1. “Chronicon” divided into two parts, and carried down to A. D. 325 in which, not long before the council of Nice, Cave supposes this work to have been finished. The first part, which is at present extremely mutilated, contains an history of the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Medes, Persians, Lydians, Jews, Egyptians, &c. from the creation of the world. In the second part, which is called “Canon Chronicus,” he digests the history of the several nations according to the order of time. St. Jerom translated both parts into Latin: but we have remaining of the version of the first part, only some extracts, containing the names of the kings, printed with the translation of the second part. It was printed at Basil, and afterwards published more accurately by Arnauld de Pontac, bishop of Baras, at Bourdeaux in 1604. But no person ever undertook to collect the Greek fragments of the original, till Joseph Scaliger published them at Leyden, 1606, in folio, under the following title: “Thesaurus temporum, complectens Eusebii Pamphili chronicon Latine, S. Hieronymo interprete, cum ipsius chronici fragmentis Graecis antehac non editis, et auctores omnes derelicta ab Eusebio continuantes. Edente Josepho Justo Scaligero, qui notas et castigationes in Eusebium, nee non Isagogicorum Chronologix canonum libros tres adjecit.” There, was another edition, much enlarged, printed at Amsterdam in 1658, in 2 vols. fol. under the care of Alexander Morus. Dupin says, that “this work of Eusebius displays a prodigious extent of reading, and consummate erudition. It is necessary to have read an infinite number of books and ancient monuments, in order to compile an universal history; and to have been master of a very clear understanding at the same time, in order to collect such a multitude of facts, and dispose them in their proper order. This is an immense labour, which is a strong proof of the vast reading and prodigious memory of Eusebius. It must be owned, indeed, that Africanus’s Chronicle was of great service to him, and that he has copied that author throughout his work. However, he has corrected several of Africanus’s mistakes, though he has fallen into others himself. But it is almost impossible not to err in a work of such vast extent and difficulty as an universal chronicle. Mistakes are excusable in a performance of this kind; nor can they hinder it from being deservedly considered as one of the molt useful works of antiquity.| His next work is, 2. “Prseparationis Evangelicae, Hbri XV.” Valesius tells us that this book, as well as his treatise “De Demonstratione Evangelica,” was written before the Nicene council, since they are expressly cited in his “Ecclesiastical History,” which Valesius affirms to have been written also before it; but Cave is of opinion that the book “De Prseparatione Evangelica” was written after that council, undoubtedly after his “Chrdnicon,” since his “Canones Chronici” are expressly cited in it. 3. “De Demonstratione Evangelical” We have of this work only ten books extant, though Eusebius wrote twenty. A beautiful edition of this and the former book was printed in Greek by Robert Stephens in 1544 and 1545, in 2 vols. fol. They were reprinted at Paris, 1628, in 2 vols. fol. with a new version of the book “De Praeparatione,” by the Jesuit Francis Vigerus, and with Donatus’s translation! of the book “De Demonstratione.” 4. “Historic Ecclesiasticae, libri V.” containing the history of the church from the beginning to the death of Licinius the elder, which includes a period of 324 years. Valesius observes, that he wrote this after almost all his other works; and Cave says, that it was written after the Nicene council, since he mentions in it not only his “Chronicon,” but likewise his treatise “De Demonstratione.” At the end of the eighth book we find a small treatise “Of the Martyrs of Palestine;” in which he describes the martyrdom of those who suffered for the faith of Christ iri that province. This has been erroneously confounded with the 8th book of the history; whereas it is a separate tract, which serves for a supplement to that book. The Ecclesiastical History has been often translated and printed: but the best edition is that of Henry Valesius^ who, having remarked the defects of all the former translations, undertook a new one, which he has joined to the Greek text revised by four manuscripts, and has added notes full of erudition. Valesius’s edition was printed at Paris in 1659 and 1671, and at Francfort in 1672, with the rest of the ecclesiastical historians. It was printed again at Cambridge in 1720, in three vols. folio, by William Reading, who has joined to the notes of Valesius such observations of modern authors as he could collect; but, in Le Clerc’s opinion, somewhat too harsh, “they might as well have been placed at the end of the book, since they are much interior to those of Valesius, both for style and matter; and appear | with the same disadvantage as an ordinary painting placed by the work of an eminent master.

Eusebius wrote, 5. “Contra Hieroclem liber.Hierocles had written a book under the name of Philalethes, against the Christian religion; in which, to> render it ridiculous, he had compared Apollonius Tyanseus with Christ, affirming that the former had worked miracles as well as the latter, and was ascended to heaven as well as he. Against this work of Hierocles, Ewsebius’s book was written; and it is printed at the eml of the “De Demonstratione Evangelica,” and at the end of Philostratus “De vita Apollonii.” 6. “Contra Marcellum, libri II.” and “De Ecclcsiastica Tbeologia, libri III.” This work was designed to confute Marcellus, bishop of Ancyra, who was condemned for Sabellianism in the synod at Constantinople in the year 336; and was written at the desire of that synod. It is subjoined also to the book “De Demonstratione.” 7. “Epistola ad Cicsarienses de fide Nicajna.Socrates and Theodoret have preserved this in their ecclesiastical histories. 8. “De locis Hebraicis,” containing a geographical description of all the countries, cities, and places, mentioned in the Old Testament. It was translated into Latin, and at the same time enlarged and corrected by St. Jerom. The original, with that translation, and a new version, with learned notes, was published by James Bonfrerius at Paris in 1631 and 1659. 9. “Oratio de laudibus Constantini,” mentioned above, which is printed at the end of the Ecclesiastical History. 10. “De vita Constantini, libri IV.” This is rather a panegyric than a life, being written in a florid and oratorical style. Some have denied this to be Eusebius’ s; but Cave thinks their arguments so inconsiderable, as not to deserve a particular answer. It is subjoined to the Ecclesiastical History. 11. “Expositio in Canticum Canticorum.” This was not written entirely by Eusebius, but compiled partly out of his writings, and partly out of those of Athanasius, Didymus, St. Gregory of Nyssen, and others. It was published in Greek with Polychronius and Psellus by Meursius at Leyden, 1617, 4to. 12. “Vitae prophetarum,” ascribed to Eusebius in an ancient manuscript, and published with the Commentaries of Procopius on Isaiah, in Greek and Latin, by Curterius, at Paris, 1580, in folio. 13. “Cajioues sacrorum evangeliorum X.” The translation of these by St. Jerom js published among that father’s works, | and in the “Bibliotheca Patrum.” 14. “Apologise pro Origene liber primus,” translated by Ruffinus, is published in St. Jerom’s works. St. Jerom tells us that Eusebius was the sole author of the “Six Books of the Apology for Origen,” ascribed to his friend Pamphilus: but it is evident from the testimony of Eusebius himself and from that of Photius, that he wrote the first five books in conjunction with Pamphilus, and added the sixth after the death of that martyr. The Latin translation of the first book of this work is all that we have remaining of it. 15. “Sermo in illud, Sero sabbatorum. Item, De Angelis ad monumentum visis.” These two sermons were published in Greek and Latin by Combefisius. Besides these works of Eusebius, there are several extant in ms. which have not yet been published; and the titles of several, which are not extant. Of the latter kind, the thirty books “against Porphyry,” (though Cave makes but twenty-five) “are,” says Le Clerc, “in all probability the greatest loss which we have sustained with respect to the writings of Eusebius; for we might have learned from' them the objections of the most learned philosopher of his time, and the answers of the most learned bishop also of his time.

Photius has said of Eusebius, that he was a man of extensive learning, but that his style is neither agreeable nor polite. Dupin observes, that he was one of the most learned men of antiquity, as his friends and enemies have equally acknowledged and that there was none among the Greek writers who had read so much but remarks, that he never applied himself to the polishing his works, and is very negligent in his style. Dr. Jortin styles Eusebiusthe most learned bishop of his age, and the father of ecclesiastical history. Like the illustrious Origen,” says he, “of whom he was very fond, he hath had warm friends and inveterate enemies; and the world hath ever been divided in judging of his theological sentiments. The Arians and Unitarians have always laid claim to him and in truth any party might be glad to have him. He scrupled at first to admit the word Consubstantial, because it was nnscriptural; but afterwards, for the sake of peace and quiet, he complied with it in a sense which he gave to it. He seems to have been neither an Arian nor an Athanasian, but one who endeavoured to steer a middle course, yet inclining more to the Arians than the Athanasians.” Le Clerc had a dispute with Cave about the orthodoxy of Eusebius; | who, as Cave said, was a Consubstantialist, but, according to Le Clerc, an Arian, which last opinion appears to us most probable, as he associated with Arius, and joined in the condemnation of the Athanasians. Brucker, speaking of his “Preparatio et Demonstrate Evangelica,” says, that had this celebrated work been more free from prejudice; had he taken more care not to be imposed upon by spurious authorities; had he more clearly understood, from the leading principles of each sect, its peculiar language; had he distinguished the pure doctrine of Plato from that of the later Platonists; had he more accurately marked the points of difference between the tenets of the sectarian philosophers and the doctrine of Christ, his works would have been much more valuable. 1

1

Gen. Dict.—Cave, vol. I.—Dupin.—Lardner’s Works.—Jortin’s Remarks on Eccl. History.