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Fathers Of The Church, Catholic Edition

1. I supposed that, after so many proofs of my innocence had been given, my enemies would have shrunk from further enquiry, and would now have condemned themselves for their false accusations of others. But as they are not yet abashed, though they have been so clearly convicted, but, as insensible to shame, persist in their slanderous reports against me, professing to think that the whole matter ought to be tried over again (not that they may have judgment passed on them, for that they avoid, but in order to harass me, and to disturb the minds of the simple); I therefore thought it necessary to make my defence unto you, that you may listen to their murmurings no longer, but may denounce their wickedness and base calumnies. And it is only to you, who are men of sincere minds, that I offer a defence: as for the contentious, I appeal confidently to the decisive proofs which I have against them. For my cause needs no further judgment; for judgment has already been given, and not once or twice only, but many times. First of all, it was tried in my own country in an assembly of nearly one hundred of its Bishops ; a second time at Rome, when, in consequence of letters from Eusebius, both they and we were summoned, and more than fifty Bishops met ; and a third time in the great Council assembled at Sardica by order of the most religious Emperors Constantius and Constans, when my enemies were degraded as false accusers, and the sentence that was passed in my favour received the suffrages of more than three hundred Bishops, out of the provinces of Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis, Palestine, Arabia, Isauria, Cyprus, Pamphylia, Lycia, Galatia, Dacia, Moesia, Thrace, Dardania, Macedonia, Epirus, Thessaly, Achaia, Crete, Dalmatia, Siscia, Pannonia, Noricum, Italy, Picenum, Tuscany, Campania, Calabria, Apulia, Bruttia, Sicily, the whole of Africa, Sardinia, Spain, Gaul, and Britain.

Added to these was the testimony of Ursacius and Valens, who had formerly calumniated me, but afterwards changed their minds, and not only gave their assent to the sentence that was passed in my favour, but also confessed that they themselves and the rest of my enemies were false accusers; for men who make such a change and such a recantation of course reflect upon Eusebius and his fellows, for with them they had contrived the plot against me. Now after a matter has been examined and decided on such clear evidence by so many eminent Bishops, every one will confess that further discussion is unnecessary; else, if an investigation be instituted at this time, it may be again discussed and again investigated, and there will be no end to such trifling.

2. Now the decision of so many Bishops was sufficient to confound those who would still fain pretend some charge against me. But when my enemies also bear testimony in my favour and against themselves, declaring that the proceedings against me were a conspiracy, who is there that would not be ashamed to doubt any longer? The law requires that in the mouth of two or three witnesses judgments shall be settled, and we have here this great multitude of witnesses in my favour, with the addition of the proofs afforded by my enemies; so much so that those who still continue opposed to me no longer attach any importance to their own arbitrary judgment, but now have recourse to violence, and in the place of fair reasoning seek to injure those by whom they were exposed. For this is the chief cause of vexation to them, that the measures they carried on in secret, contrived by themselves in a corner, have been brought to light and disclosed by Valens and Ursacius; for they are well aware that their recantation while it clears those whom they have injured, condemns themselves.

Indeed this led to their degradation in the Council of Sardica, as mentioned before; and with good reason; for, as the Pharisees of old, when they undertook the defence of Paul , fully exposed the conspiracy which they and the Jews had formed against him; and as the blessed David was proved to be persecuted unjustly when the persecutor confessed, I have sinned, my son David ;’ so it was with these men; being overcome by the truth they made a request, and delivered it in writing to Julius, Bishop of Rome. They wrote also to me requesting to be on terms of peace with me, though they have spread such reports concerning me; and probably even now they are covered with shame, on seeing that those whom they sought to destroy by the grace of the Lord are still alive. Consistently also with this conduct they anathematized Arius and his heresy; for knowing that Eusebius and his fellows had conspired against me in behalf of their own misbelief, and of nothing else, as soon as they had determined to confess their calumnies against me, they immediately renounced also that antichristian heresy for the sake of which they had falsely asserted them.

The following are the letters written in my favour by the Bishops in the several Councils and first the letter of the Egyptian Bishops.

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