Chapter XXI.—Letter of Constantius to the Egyptians in behalf of Athanasius. Synod of Jerusalem.
The emperor, on sending back 1277 Athanasius to Egypt, wrote in his favor to the bishops and presbyters of that country, and to the people of the church of Alexandria; he testified to the integrity of his conduct and the virtue of his manners, and exhorted them to be of one mind, and to unite in prayer and service to God under his guidance. He added that, if any evil-disposed persons should excite disturbances, they should receive the punishment awarded by the laws for such offenses. He also commanded that the former decrees he had enacted against Athanasius, and those who were in communion with him, should be effaced from the public registers, and that his clergy should be admitted to the same exemptions they had previously enjoyed; and edicts to this effect were dispatched to the governors of Egypt and Libya.
Immediately on his arrival in Egypt, Athanasius displaced those whom he knew to be attached to Arianism, and placed the government of the Church and the confession of the Nicæan council in the hands of those whom he approved, and he exhorted them to hold to this with earnestness. It was said at that time, that, when he was traveling through other countries, he effected the same change, if he happened to visit churches which were under the Arians. He was certainly accused of having dared to perform the ceremony of ordination in cities where he had no right to do so. But because he had effected his return, although his enemies were unwilling, and it did not seem that he could be easily cast under suspicion, in that he was honored with the friendship of the Emperor Constans, he was regarded with greater consideration than before. Many bishops, who had previously been at enmity with him, received him into communion, particularly those of Palestine. When he at that time visited these latter, they received him kindly. They held a Synod at Jerusalem, and Maximus and the others wrote the following letter in his favor.
Athan. Apol. cont. Arian. 54–56; Hist. Arian. 23; these are given in Soc. ii. 23; and for the Synod of Jerusalem, ii. 24; Ruf. i. 19.