Chapter XXXVII.—After the Banishment of Athanasius, Arius having been sent for by the Emperor, raises a Disturbance against Alexander Bishop of Constantinople.
While these things were taking place, the thirtieth year of Constantines reign was completed. But Arius with his adherents having returned to Alexandria, again disturbed the whole city; for the people of Alexandria were exceedingly indignant both at the restoration of this incorrigible heretic with his partisans, and also because their bishop Athanasius had been sent to exile. When the emperor was apprised of the perverse disposition of Arius, he once more ordered him to repair to Constantinople, to give an account of the commotions he had afresh endeavored to excite. It happened at that time that Alexander, who had some time before succeeded Metrophanes, presided over the church at Constantinople. That this prelate was a man of devoted piety was distinctly manifested by the conflict he entered into with Arius; for when Arius arrived and the people were divided into two factions and the whole city was thrown into confusion: some insisting that the Nicene Creed should be by no means infringed on, while others contended that the opinion of Arius was consonant to reason. In this state of affairs, Alexander was driven to straits: more especially since Eusebius of Nicomedia had violently threatened that he would cause him to be immediately deposed, unless he admitted Arius and his followers to communion. Alexander, however, was far less troubled at the thought of his own deposition as fearful of the subversion of the principles of the faith, which they were so anxious to effect: and regarding himself as the constituted guardian of the doctrines recognized, and the decisions made by the council at Nicæa, he exerted himself to the utmost to prevent their being violated or depraved. Reduced to this extremity, he bade farewell to all logical resources, and made God his refuge, devoting himself to continued fasting and never ceased from praying. Communicating his purpose to no one, he shut himself up alone in the church called Irene: there going up to the altar, and prostrating himself on the ground beneath the holy communion table, he poured forth his fervent prayers weeping; and this he ceased not to do for many successive nights and days. What he thus earnestly asked from God, he received: for his petition was such a one: If the opinion of Arius were correct, he might not be permitted to see the day appointed for its discussion; but that if he himself held the true faith, Arius, as the author of all these evils, might suffer the punishment due to his impiety.