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The Extension Of The Church Abou

The most important missionary work in the early part of the fifth century
was the extension of the work of Ulfilas among the German tribes and the
work of the missionaries of the West in Gaul and western Germany. Of the
latter the most important was Martin of Tours.

(a) Socrates, Hist. Ec., II, 41. (MSG, 67:349.)


Additional material for the life of Ulfilas may be found in the
Ecclesiastical History of Philostorgius, fragments of which, as
preserved, may be found appended to the Bohn translation of
Sozomen's Ecclesiastical History.

After giving a list of creeds put forth by various councils, from
Nicaea down to the Arian creed of Constantinople, 360 (text may be
found in Hahn, 167), Socrates continues:

The last creed was that put forth at Constantinople [A. D. 360], with the
appendix. For to this was added the prohibition respecting the mention of
substance [ousia], or subsistence [hypostasis], in relation to God. To
this creed Ulfilas, bishop of the Goths, then first gave his assent. For
before that time he had adhered to the faith of Nicaea; for he was a
disciple of Theophilus, bishop of the Goths, who was present at the Nicene
Council, and subscribed what was there determined.

(b) Ulfilas, Confession of Faith. Hahn, 198.

This confession of faith, which Ulfilas describes as his
testament, is found at the conclusion of a letter of Auxentius,
his pupil, an Arian bishop of Silistria, in Moesia Inferior; see
note of Hahn. It should be compared with that of Constantinople of

I, Ulfilas, bishop and confessor, have always thus believed, and in this
sole and true faith I make my testament before my Lord: I believe that
there is one God the Father, alone unbegotten and invisible; and in His
only begotten Son, our Lord and God, the fashioner and maker of all
creation, not having any one like him--therefore there is one God of all,
who, in our opinion, is God--and there is one Holy Spirit, the illuminating
and sanctifying power--as Christ said to his apostles for correction,
"Behold I send the promise of my Father to you, but remain ye in the city
of Jerusalem until ye be indued with power from on high"; and again, "And
ye shall receive power coming upon you from the Holy Spirit"--neither God
nor Lord, but a minister of Christ in all things; not ruler, but a
subject, and obedient in all things to the Son, and the Son himself
subject and obedient in all things to his Father through Christ with
the Holy Spirit.(163)

(c) Socrates, Hist. Ec., IV, 23. (MSG, 67:551.)

The barbarians dwelling beyond the Danube, who are called Goths, having
been engaged in a civil war among themselves, were divided into two
parties; of one of these Fritigernus was the leader, of the other
Athanaric. When Athanaric had obtained an evident advantage over his
rival, Fritigernus had recourse to the Romans and implored their
assistance against his adversary. When these things were reported to the
Emperor Valens [364-378], he ordered the troops garrisoned in Thrace to
assist those barbarians against the barbarians fighting against them. They
won a complete victory over Athanaric beyond the Danube, totally routing
the enemy. This was the reason why many of the barbarians became
Christians: for Fritigernus, to show his gratitude to the Emperor for the
kindness shown him, embraced the religion of the Emperor, and urged those
under him to do the same. Therefore it is that even to this present time
so many of the Goths are infected with the religion of Arianism, because
the emperors at that time gave themselves to that faith. Ulfilas, the
bishop of the Goths at that time, invented the Gothic letters and,
translating the Holy Scriptures into their own language, undertook to
instruct these barbarians in the divine oracles. But when Ulfilas taught
the Christian religion not only to the subjects of Fritigernus but to the
subjects of Athanaric also, Athanaric, regarding this as a violation of
the privileges of the religion of his ancestors, subjected many of the
Christians to severe punishments, so that many of the Arian Goths of that
time became martyrs. Arius, indeed, failing to refute the opinion of
Sabellius the Libyan, fell from the true faith and asserted that the Son
of God was a new God; but the barbarians, embracing Christianity with
greater simplicity, despised this present life for the faith of Christ.

(d) Sulpicius Severus, Vita S. Martini, 13. (MSL, 20:167.)

Sulpicius Severus was a pupil of Martin of Tours, and wrote the
life of his master during the latter's lifetime (died 397), but
published it after his death. He wrote also other works on Martin.
The astounding miracles they contain present curious problems for
the student of ethics as well as of history. As St. Martin was one
of the most popular saints of Gaul, and in this case the merits of
the man and his reputation as a saint were in accord, the works of
Sulpicius became the basis of many popular lives of the saint. The
following passage illustrates the embellishment which soon became
attached to all the lives of religious heroes. It is, however, one
of the least astounding of the many miracles the author relates in
apparent good faith. Whatever may be the judgment regarding the
miracle, the story contains several characteristic touches met
with in the history of missions in the following centuries:
e.g., the destruction of heathen temples and objects of worship.

This sacred tree also finds its duplicate in other attacks upon
heathen sanctuaries.

Ch. 13. When in a certain village he had demolished a very ancient temple,
and had set about cutting down a pine-tree, which stood close to the
temple, the chief priest of that place and a crowd of other heathen began
to oppose him. And though these people, under the influence of the Lord,
had been quiet while the temple was being overthrown, they could not
patiently allow the tree to be cut down. Martin carefully instructed them
that there was nothing sacred in the trunk of a tree; let them rather
follow God, whom he himself served. He added that it was necessary that
that tree be cut down, because it had been dedicated to a demon [i.e.,
to a heathen deity]. Then one of them, who was bolder than the others,
said: "If you have any trust in the God whom you say you worship, we
ourselves will cut down this tree, you shall receive it when it falls; for
if, as you declare, your Lord is with you, you will escape all injury."
Then Martin, courageously trusting in the Lord, promised that he would do
this. Thereupon all that crowd of heathen agreed to the condition; for
they held the loss of their tree a small matter, if only they got the
enemy of their religion buried beneath its fall. Accordingly when that
pine-tree was hanging over in one direction, so that there was no doubt as
to what side it would fall on being cut, Martin, having been bound, was,
in accordance with the decision of these pagans, placed in that spot
where, as no one doubted, the tree was about to fall. They began,
therefore, to cut down their own tree with great joy and mirth. At some
distance there was a great multitude of wondering spectators. And now the
pine-tree began to totter and to threaten its own ruin by falling. The
monks at a distance grew pale and, terrified by the danger ever coming
nearer, had lost all hope and confidence, expecting only the death of
Martin. But he, trusting in the Lord, and waiting courageously, when now
the falling pine had uttered its expiring crash, while it was now falling,
while it was just rushing upon him, with raised hand put in its way the
sign of salvation [i.e., the sign of the cross]. Then, indeed, after the
manner of a spinning top (one might have thought it driven back) it fell
on the opposite side, so that it almost crushed the rustics, who had been
standing in a safe spot. Then truly a shout was raised to heaven; the
heathen were amazed by the miracle; the monks wept for joy; and the name
of Christ was extolled by all in common. The well-known result was that on
that day salvation came to that region. For there was hardly one of that
immense multitude of heathen who did not desire the imposition of hands,
and, abandoning his impious errors, believe in the Lord Jesus. Certainly,
before the times of Martin, very few, nay, almost none, in those regions
had received the name of Christ; but through his virtues and example it
has prevailed to such an extent that now there is no place there which is
not filled with either very crowded churches or monasteries. For wherever
he destroyed heathen temples, there he was accustomed to build,
immediately, either churches or monasteries.

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