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PHILEAS, BISHOP OF THMUIS IN EGYPT; AND PHILOROMUS, RECEIVER-GENERAL AT
Phileas, says · Jerom, of a city in Egypt called Thmuis, of a noble family, and a large estate, « accepted an episcopal charge. He wrote an excellent book in praise of the martyrs. After a
long debate with the judge, who commanded him to sacrifice, he was beheaded for Christ under * the same persecutor, by whose orders Lucian suffered at Nicomedia.'
Jerom means the emperor Maximin. But learned men are not agreed about the year of this good man's martyrdom. By Cave it is placed in 311, by · Basnage in 311 or 312, by « Tilleinont after 306, and before the edict in 311 or 312. The place of his martyrdoin is now, I think, generally allowed to be o Alexandria, though Valesius once inclined to Thebais.
Phileas flourished, as Cave computes, near the end of the third century, about the year 296. It is likely that Thmuis was the place both of his nativity and episcopate.
Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History has a long passage of a letter of Phileas to the Christians at Thmuis; which is generally reckoned to be the same that Jerom' calls a book in Praise of the martyrs.
Eusebius at the same time gives an account of the martyrdom of Philoromus. And there are still extant : Acts of the martyrdoms of these two persons, which are esteemed genuine and sincere by * Tillemont and ' Ruinart: and indeed they are in the main agreeable to Eusebius: but yet it seems to me that they are interpolated : at least, I am of opinion that they are not to be relied upon as sincere and uncorrupt; for which reason I shall not make any use of them. But I shall immediately transcribe Eusebius's history of the death both of Phileas and Philoromus, with a part of the just-mentioned passage of the letter written by the former.
Our ecclesiastical historian then, having mentioned divers other instances of heroic courage and firmness of mind in the cause of truth, adds: • And these are indeed admirable: but yet more admirable are they who, distinguished by their wealth, high birth, honours, learning and eloquence, preferred before all other things true religion and faith in Jesus Christ. Among these was Philoromus, who bore no ordinary office, but was the emperor's receiver-general at
Alexandria; and, as became his high station in the Roman government, daily heard causes, « attended by a guard of soldiers. Phileas, likewise, bishop of the church at Thmuis, who had " with reputation discharged all public offices in his own country, and was eminent for his philo
sophical learning, when many of their kindred and other honourable friends, and some of the · magistrates, and even the judge himself advised them to take pity upon themselves, and to * consider their wives and children, would not by all their entreaties be induced, out of a regard • to their own life, to transgress the divine laws concerning denying and confessing our Saviour; • but with a manly and courageous and philosophic'mind, or rather with a religious heart truly * devoted to God, having withstood all the threatenings and abuses of the judge, they were both beheaded.'
• But, 'forasmuch as we said that Phileas was eminent for learning, let him be produced as - his own witness. At the same time he shews what he himself was, he will relate the martyr
oms that happened in his time at Alexandria much more exactly than we can do. Thus then
a Phileas, de urbe Egypti, quæ vocatur Thmuis, nobili genere, et non parvis opibus, suscepto episcopatu, elegantissimum librum de martyrum laude composuit. Et disputatione actorum habitâ adversus judicem, qui eum sacrificare cogebat, pro Christo capite truncatur, eodem in Egypto persecutionis auctore, quo Lucianus Nicomediæ. De V. I. c. 78. bH. L. in Philea.
e Vid. Basn. ib. n. 19. et Ruinart. Act. Mart. p. 494.
Annot. in Euseb. I. viü. c. 9. & Ap. Ruin. Act. M. p. 494-496. h As before, p. 163, &c. i Ubi supra, p. 493, 494.
Θαυμασιοι μεν εν και ετοι· εξαιρετως δε εκεινοι θαυμασιωτεροι, οι πλατω μεν και ευγενεια, και δοξη, λογω τε και φιλοσοφια διαπρεψαντες, κ. λ. Εus. 1. viii. c. 9, p. 30i, C. D. 302.
c Ann. 312, n. 19. d Mem. Ecc. S. Phileas, &c. T. v. P. iii. p. 173, et note 5.
Ib. cap. 10, p. 332, B. &c.
• he writes in his epistle to the people at Thmuis:' “ All · these ensamples and patterns and excellent admonitions being set before us in the divine and sacred scriptures, the blessed martyrs among us, without hesitation fixing the eye of their soul upon God over all, and willingly embracing death for the sake of religion, stedfastly adhered to their calling : knowing that our Lord Jesus Christ became man for our sake, that he might destroy all sin, and afford us helps for obtaining eternal life :” “ For he did not earnestly desire to appear like God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself unto death, even the death of the cross :" Philip. ii. 6, 7. “ Wherefore also these martyrs, full of Christ, “ earnestly desiring the greatest gifts,” (1 Cor. xii. 31,) endured not once only, but some of them often, all kinds of pains and tortures that can be invented; and, though the officers did their utmost by words and deeds to terrify them, they were not disheartened, " because perfect love casteth out fear:” 1 John iv. 18.
I omit the rest which may be seen in Eusebius himself, who having finished his extracts, adds: “ These are the words of a true philosopher, and a martyr filled with the love of God: • which, when in prison, before the final sentence of the judge, he sent to the people under his
care; partly informing them what were his own circumstances, partly exhorting them to hold • fast the faith of Christ, even after his death, which was then near at hand.'
Here are, I think, three references to books of the New Testament; the first epistle to the. Corinthians, and the epistle to the Philippians, and the first of St. John. We see by this short passage, what great regard the Christians of those times had for the holy scriptures; and how apt they were to clothe their own thoughts in expressions borrowed from them.
I suppose likewise, that none will dispute my interpretation of that phrase, which in our English translation is rendered, thought it not robbery to be equal with God;' for it is here evidently used and understood by Phileas, as expressive of our Lord's humility, not of his dignity and
greatness. In the like manner have we already observed that expression understood by several ancient Christian writers.
I would just observe that, at the end of the passage cited by Eusebius, Phileas quotes some precept of the Old Testament, as & sacred scripture.
Phileas is elsewhere mentioned by Eusebius among other bishops of Egypt, who suffered martyrdom in Dioclesian's persecution.
PETER, BISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA, AND THE MELETIANS.
I. Peter, his history and works, and testimony to the scriptures. II. The Meletians, their history
, and time.
1. In the year of our Lord 300, Peter succeeded Theonas at Alexandria. In St. Jerom's Chronicle' he is called the sixteenth bishop of that church, and is said to have had a glorious martyrdom in the ninth year of the persecution : but St. Jerom has not given this bishop of Alexandria a place in his Catalogue among other eminent writers of the church. Nor do I remember * : Τετων απαντων υποδειγματων ημιν και υπογραμμων, και
But afterwards ch. xiii. 13, he says, The greatest of καλων γνωρισματων εν ταις θειαις και ιεραις γραφαις, κ. λ. ib. C.
these is charity, μειζων δε τοτων η αγαπη. - τον μεν κυριον ημων Ιησεν Χριςον ευρoντες ενανθρωπη- e Ib. p. 304. B. σαντα δι' ημας, ένα πασαν μεν αμαρτίαν εκκόψη, εφοδια δε της See Vol. i. chap. xxxviii. num. xxviii. 12, and in this εις την αιωνιον ζωην εισοδα ημιν καταθηται· 8 γαρ αρπαγμoν ol. p. 21, 62, 63, 108. ήγησατο το ειναι ισα θεω" αλλ εαυτον εκενωσε, μορφης δελε και ηδεσαν γαρ τα υπο των ιερων γραφων ημιν προορισθεντα λαζων. Ιb. p. 302. C. D..
ib. p. 304. B. 11 L. viii. c. 13, p. 308. C. • Διο και ζηλωσαντες τα μειζονα χαρισματα οι χριςοφοροι i Alexandrinæ ecclesiæ sextusdecimus post Theonam episμάρτυρες. Ιb. D.
copus ordinalus Petrus, qui postea nono persecutionis anno St. Paul there says, the best gifts, ta xapicuata ta xpat. gloriose martyrium perpetravit. Hieron. Chr. p. 179.
year of the
of the per
that he has any where quoted him. However Peter is now generally reckoned an author. Several things are ascribed to him.
Penitential • Canons, supposed to have been drawn up by him in the fourth
A work entitled De Divinitate, quoted in the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon.
Peter is several times mentioned by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History. It appears to me worth the while to transcribe all his passages; though some notice has been already taken of them at the beginning of the articles of Theonas and Pierius.
• Theonas, having borne the episcopal office nineteen years, was succeeded by Peter, who • obtained great honour during his episcopate, which he held twelve years. He governed the
church three years before the persecution. The rest of his time he passed in a more strict and « mortified course of life, but still without neglecting the common good of the churches; for · which reason, in the ninth year of the persecution, he was beheaded, and obtained the crown of martyrdom.'
In another place, giving an account of those presidents of the churches, who had demonstrated the sincerity of their faith by laying down their lives in the late persecution, he says; • But of those, who in Alexandria, and throughout Egypt and Thebais, gloriously finished
their course, none more fit to be first mentioned than Peter, bishop of Alexandria, a' most « excellent teacher of the Christian doctrine: and, among his presbyters, Faustus, Dius, and
Ammonius, were perfect martyrs of Christ; as were also Phileas, Hesychius, Pachymius and • Theodorus, bishops of divers churches in Egypt.'
Once more : About * the same time also Peter, who with so much reputation presided over the church at Alexandria, an ornament to the episcopal character, both for the holiness of • his life and his laborious application in studying and explaining the sacred scriptures, without any crime of any kind laid to his charge, beyond all expectation, on a sudden, for no other reason but the will of Maximin, was taken up and beheaded.' **. Our bishop is several times mentioned and called martyr by St. Athanasius. I shall take notice of two places. In one of them he observes: Peter" was bishop here before the perse
cution, and in the persecution was also a martyr.' In the other he intimates, that Peter suffered at the end of the persecution, or even after it was over, as his manner of writing may be thought to imply. Which too seems to be agreeable to what Eusebius said just now of Peter's having been arrested and beheaded on a sudden, and beyond all expectation. The words of Athanasius are these : · But ° when the persecution had ceased, and the blessed bishop Peter had • suffered martyrdom, Antony removed, and returned to his monastery.'
Sozomen says that » Peter fled in the time of the persecution: I suppose he must mean some retirement, which was free from blame. Sozomen himself does not pass any censure upon it: and Eusebius has represented Peter's episcopate as so illustrious, and every way worthy of com. mendation, that it is not easy to admit the suspicion of any improper conduct. However, that expression of Sozomen, and what Eusebius says of Peter's strict course of life, though without at all neglecting the care of the churches, may lead us to think that, for a large part of the persecution, he lived in some private place unknown to the instruments of the persecution; where however Christian people had access to him, and received his advices and instructions.
a Vid. Labbei Concil. T. i. p. 955_-968.
Scripsit quarto persecutionis Diocletianeæ anno, Christi 306, eorum causâ, qui in prædictâ persecutione lapsi essent, librum de Pænitentiâ ; ex quo supersunt hodie canones 15, variis pænitentium casibus accommodati. Cav. H. L. in Petro.
C Alium item librum de Divinitate, Cav. ib. Vid. Labb. Concit. Tom. iy. p. 286. C. D. E.
Scripsit etiam tractatum de Paschate. Testantur id, quæ habemus hodie, hujus operis fragmenta. Cav: ib. p. 100. • Vid. Cav. ut supra, Basnag. Ann. 306, n. xiii. f.
Eus. H. E. I. vii. c. 32, p. 289, 290. 8 - εν τοις μαλισα και αυτος διαπρεψας εφ' όλoις δυοκαιδεκα ενιαυτοις. ib. p. 289. D.
" Ib. 1. viii. c. 13, p. 308. B. C.
1 θειον επισκοπων χρημα, βια αρετής τε ένεκα, και της των
Apol. contr. Arian. 1. xi. p. 133, D. Ep. ad Episc. Æg.
n Apol. contr. Arian. n. 59.
φευγοντος για τον τοτε διωγμον. Soc. 1. i. c. 24.
Theodoret styles Peter * a most excellent person, and a victorious combatant, who in the time of wicked tyrants obtained the crown of martyrdom. Again he calls him divine Peter.
I do not intend to make any long extracts out of Peter's book of Canons, or Canonical Epistle, the only piece of his that remains, if indeed it be his. I would however observe, that he resolves all his cases by the authority of the holy scriptures: and that here are cited the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke; the Acts of the apostles, very largely; several epistles of Paul, particularly that to the Hebrews, as the apostle's, intending Paul, and the first epistle of John. In the fragment of his book De Divinitate are cited the beginning of John's gospel, several epistles of Paul, and the first of Peter.
II. In the time of Peter arose the Meletian controversy, or schism, as it is usually called; which, as Tillemont observes, subsisted for the space of an hundred and fifty years, not being extinct in the time of Theodoret and Socrates.
I do not reckon myself obliged to give a particular history of that affair; but I beg liberty to say, that I cannot easily assent to Athanasius's account of the rise and occasion of it, which is to this purpose: Peter in a full synod of bishops deposed Meletius, an Egyptian bishop; who • was convicted of several crimes, and particularly of having sacrificed. Meletius neither appealed * to another synod, nor took any pains to vindicate himself
, but presently made a schism. And to this day : his followers, instead of Christians, are called Meletians. From that time Meletius . took great liberties in calumniating Peter, and then Achillas.'
There are several considerations tending to weaken the credit of this account: 1. Athanasius is a prejudiced person. After the council of Nice, if not before, the Meletians joined interests with the Arians; and certainly they were always enemies to the bishop of Alexandria. 2. Athanasius writes with passion. Meletius, he says, was convicted of many crimes; but he does not name them: he only mentions sacrificing. Nor is it likely that the Meletians quitted the name of Christians. They were often called Meletians by others, and sometimes possibly by themselves: but to say that instead of Christians they were called Meletians is invidious. How unreasonable is this in Athanasius, when Meletius and his followers at first, and for a good while, if not all along, agreed with him in every point of doctrine! Epiphanius, to whom others assent, expressly says that Meletius made a schism, but attempted not any innovation in the faith. Nor does · Athanasius differ from them. 3. If Meletius had been convicted of apostasy, or of sacrificing to idols in time of persecution, the sentence passed upon him and his adherents in the council of Nice would have been different. What it was may be seen in several “ ancient writers of ecclesiastical history. 4. Meletius" always complained of injustice. 5. And more. over · he had a numerous party on his side, no less than eight-and-twenty bishops, and many good men: which could not have been, if he had been known to have fallen so greatly in the time of the persecution. 6. There are other accounts, and Athanasius is almost singular. Socrates o indeed speaks to the like purpose, because he transcribes Athanasius: but, according to Epiphanius, Meletius' was a confessor: and the controversy between the bishop of Lycopolis in Thebais and the bishop of Alexandria was owing to their different sentiments concerning the manner of receiving such as had lapsed in the persecution, Peter being more mild and merciful
-μετα Πετρον εκείνον τον νικηφορον αγωνισης, ος επι των 1. iv. c. 7. p. 239. Αλλ' εκεινος μεν εδες των της ευσεβειας δογδυσσεζων εκείνων τυραννων τα μαρτυριε τεφανον ανεδησατο. ματων εκαινοτομησεν. Ιd. ib. p. 240. Thdrt. 1. i. c. 2, p. 7.
" This appears, in that Athanasius calls the Arians heretics, TB SELOTATO TTerpe, x. A. Id. 1. i.c. 9, in.
the Meletians schismatics only, and thus distinguisheth their -ειμη, ως λεγει αποσολος, επιλιποι δ' αν ήμας διηγε- several crimes. Αλλ' οι μεν προ πεντηκοντα και πεντε ετων μενες ο χρονος. [Ηebr. xi. 32]Can. ix. app.Labb. T. i. p. 962. σχισματικοι γεγoνασιν» οι δε προ τριακοντα και εξ ετων, απεδειχ
impar aigetixos. X. X. Ep. ad Episc. Æg. et Lib. n. 22, T. i. • St. Pierre d'Alexandrie. art. 8. Mem. Ec. T. v. P. iii.
p. 293. P.111.
m Vid. Socrat. 1. i. c. 9. Sozom. 1. i. c. 24. Thdrt. H. F. I. Ουτος Μελιτιoν, απο της Αιγυπτ8 λεγομενον επισκoπoν, επι
iv. c. 7. πολλαις ελεγχθεντα σαρανομίαις, και θυσια, εν κοινη συνοδω η ηδικησθαι μεν ελεγεν εαυτον, κ. λ. Socrat. 1. i. c. 6, p. 14, TWY ETIOXOTWY xalsiasy, x. d. Athan, ap. contr. Arian. n. 97, C. Conf. Thdrt. 1. i. c. 9, in. T. i. p. 177
• Vid. Epiph. H. 68, n. 2, 3, et 5. * Και αντι Χρισιανων, Μελισιανοι μεχρι νυν οι της εκεινε με- p Vid. Athan. ap. contr. Arian. n. 71, p. 187. ριδος ονομαζονται. ibid.
9 Socr. ubi supr. p. 14, B. Vid, not. ". Vid. Socrat. H. E. 1. i. c. 6, p. 14, Sozom. I. ii. c. 21. Epiph. ib, n. 1, 2.
Σχισμα εποίησεν, 8 μην μεταλλαγμενος την αισιν γεγεννη: • Ο δε αγιωτατος Πετρος ευσπλαγχνος ων, κ. λ. Epiph. ib. Tel. Epiph. H. 68, n. i. Vid. ib. reliqua.
n. 3, in. * Αλλα ταυτα μεν τη εκκλησια φρονων... Theodoret. Η. Ε.
than Meletius. Sozomen makes the fault of Meletius to have been this; that, when Peter had fled, Meletius usurped a power of ordaining where he had no right: nor is there any thing laid to his charge by the council of Nice, as the ground and reason of their sentence, but the rashness and presumption of his ordinations, and the obstinacy and contumacy of him and his adherents in maintaining them. Theodoret indeed does in one place say, following Athanasius, it is likely that Meletius was convicted of some crimes; but he does not seem to know what they were, nor to have any good assurance of the facts. And, in another place, speaking of Meletius, all he lays to his charge is ambition, or love of dominion, ' in ordaining bishops and other clergy out of his owo province, where he had no jurisdiction.
Upon the whole I think there is not sufficient ground to admit the truth of what Athanasius says of Meletius sacrificing. It is more likely that it is a story forged by some angry people with a view to discredit the Meletian cause: which story Athanasius too readily received.
Samuel Basnage, of Flottemanville, in his Exercitations published in 1692, disputes the truth of that account: but in his annals, published in 1706, he writes as if he had quite forgot what he had once said; which needs not, however, to be reckoned very strange in an author who writes a good deal.
In composing the argument here offered, I have had no regard to that in Basnage's Exercitations, which I did not observe till afterwards. These thoughts arose in my mind in reading Athanasius, and comparing him with other ancient writers.
It is disputed among learned men when this schism began. Baronius & placeth it in 306; Basnage in his Annals, before cited, contends for the same date: Pagi is altogether for 301, or 302: Tillemont carefully examines the merits of each opinion without determining the point.
It seems to me that all the accounts and testimonies above cited, which speak of this contro, versy, as arising in the time of Peter, and after the beginning of the persecution, should lead us to pitch upon the year 306, or thereabout: when Peter, as is supposed, put out his Canons, and, as is likely, began to live more retired than he had done; then, probably, Meletius began to ordain bishops, and other clergy, where he should not.
The only thing that leads to the year 300, or 301, or 302, is a passage of Athanasius in a piece supposed to have been written in - 256; where he says that m the Meletians had been
hismatics above five-and-fifty years. Upon which I would observe, that possibly the numbers in Athanasius have been altered; or he might write in haste, and mistake through forgetfulness: or, finally, it is not impossible that, for some reason or other affecting his mind at that time, he might chuse to ascribe a very early date to that schism. I add, that in the same place Atha, nasius says, “It " was six-and-thirty years since the Arians were declared heretics, and cast out of the church by the judgment of an oecumenical council.? Which might induce us to think that piece must have been written in the year 361 or 362, that is, six-and-thirty years after the council of Nịce, when the Arians were condemned; if there were not some cogent reasons shewing that epistle to have been written in 356: and, • notwithstanding what the Benedictine
-Πετρ8--φευγοντος δια τον διωγμον, τας διαφερεσας major Athanasius.--At falso contaminari Epiphanii narratioαυτω χειριτονιας υφηρπασε. Sozom. 1. i. c. 24.
nem extra dubium est. Cum enim Epiphanio antiquior, et δ'Ελειπετο δε το κατα την προπετειαν Μέλιτι8, και των υπ' rerum Ægypti, ubi schisma Meletianum exortum est, longe a:T8 XEI POTOVmbertwy. ap. Socr. I. i. c. 9, p. 28.-07:30- peritior Athanasius scriptum reliquit, Meletium idolis sacrifiμενή το προπετες και έτοιμον εις χειροτονιαν Μελισια, και των câsse, fide quoque dignior est. Basn. Ann. Pol. Eo. A, 206, Ta auta OgoyBytwy. Sozom. ubi supra. Vid. et Thdrt, 1. i. n. 14. Roterod. 1706. 6 Baron. Ann. 306, n. 44. cap. 9.
h Basn. Ann. 306, n. 15. Ann. 306, n. 29, 30. επι τισι παρανομίαις διελεγχθεις, και, λ. Thdit. 1. 1. * Mem. Ec. S. Pierre d'A. art. 8, et not. 8, T. v. P. iii. p.
111, et 301. « Μελετιος τις επισκόπος κατα της Αλεξαν δρα το μεγαλα | Vid. Athanas. Opp. Ed. Bened. T. i. p. 177, not. o. et po σασιασας ηγεμονιας, πολλαις πόλεσι και επισκοπες εχειροτονησε, 269. και πρεσβυτερες, και-8 καινης αιρεσεως προς απευων, αλλα γαρ ολιγος εσιν ο χρονος· αλλ' οι μεν προ πεντήκοντα ταύτα μεν τη εκκλησια φρόνων, το δε της φιλαρχιας εισδεξα- και πεντε ετων σχισματικοι γέγονασιν οι δε προ τριακοντα και HEVOS wabos.' Id. H. Fab. 1. iv. c. 7.
εξ ετων απεδειχθησαν αιρετικοι, και της εκκλησίας απειληθησαν. e Hoc affirmat Athanasius-tantique testis auctoritas apud εκ κρισεως τασης της οικεμενικης συνοδε. Εp. ad. Episc. Eg. me plurimum valet. Verumtamen nonnullas de Meletii et Lib. n. 22, p. 293.
n See note m idololatriâ dubitandi causas suggerunt Theodoretus, Epipha- • Verum hunc locum par est ita distinguere, ut verbum,, nius, Nicæna Synodus. - -Hæc sunt quæ de Meletianâ ido- ATTEDEX
Orrar, sunt declarati, ad Alexandrum Alexandrinum lolatriâ suspensúm detinent. -Basn. Exercit. p. 307, 308. referantur, qui nimirum in Synodo Alexandrina Arium bæUltraj. 1692.
reticum primus declaravit ; cætera autem quiee sequuntur, Vera prædicásse Socratem, testis est omni exceptione Nicænæ attribuantur Synodo. Ubi supr. p. 269, 0. 4.
€. 9, in.