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very unanimous in their resolutions, excepting a few reclaimants. In their Synodical Epistlek, they declare that they had condemned the Arian doctrines of the Son's being from nothing, and that he once was not, as full of blasphemy and madness, and such as they had not patience to hear. So far were they from any apprehension that the Arian or Eusebian doctrines had been held by the ancient Church. This was the year before Athanasius (our founder, as Mr. Wh. calls him) was Bishop of the Church, and about fifteen years before he drew his pen in defence of the doctrines established in that Council.
Much about the same time, the good Emperor Constantine, after a fair and full hearing of the cause in the Nicene Council, bears his testimony against Arius, as being the first broacher of that doctrine, by the instigation of the Devill. And he makes an order to have the Arians branded with the name of Porphyrians m, as being followers of the Pagan Porphyrius, either in their avowed opposition to Christ, (as some think,) or in their adopting the Platonic gradations into the Christian Trinity, as others conjecture.
In the year 335, Marcellus and Eusebius engaged on opposite sides : from which time Mr. Whiston begins the date of the Athanasian Confessions. What he produces from Eusebius himself is not to the purpose, since he reckons not him with the Athanasians, about whom our present question is. However, it is of no great moment, if Eusebius could ever so justly appeal to the ancient Doctors against Marcellus's particular tenets; many of which (as Eusebius was pleased to understand them) were undoubtedly novelties. As to Marcellus, he charges the Eusebian or Arian heresy, as a thing then newly inventedn. He gives up nothing in respect of the Ante-Nicene Fathers in general, but in respect of Origen only: whom
k Apud Socrat. E. Hist. lib. i. cap. 9. Compare Athanas. vol. i. p. 283. | Socrat. E. H. lib. i. cap. 9. p. 30.
m Ibid. p. 31. v Euseb. contr. Marcell. lib. i. cap. 4. p. 20.
he supposes to have been, in some points, not very consistento. Neither does he confess that Origen was entirely in the sentiments of the Eusebians; but only that he agreed with them in making the Son a second Hypostasis P : which Marcellus scrupled to allow, not considering that Origen's sense of a second Hypostasis intended only in opposition to the Noëtian heresy) was a quite different thing from what the Eusebians or Arians were contending for. It is to be noted, that Marcellus and the other Eustathians were, for some time, too nice and scrupulous about admitting three Hypostases; differing therein from the wiser and more judicious Athanasians.
About the year 352, Athanasius wrote his Epistle concerning the decrees of the Nicene Council. What he thought of the doctrine of the Ante-Nicene Church may appear sufficiently from one passage, running thus :
“ We give you demonstration that our doctrine has “ been handed down to us from Fathers to Fathers. But “ you, ye revivers of Judaism, and disciples of Caiaphas, " what writers can you bring to father your tenets ? Not “ a man can you name of any repute for sense or judg“ ment: all abhor you, excepting only the Devil, who has “ alone been the father of such an apostasy ?,” &c.
Many other passages of the like import may be produced from Athanasius, who every where appeals to constant tradition, along with Scripture, for the truth of his doctrine, against the Arian novelties. Neither are the pretended Confessions, which Mr. Whiston alleges out of him, of any the least moment; amounting to no more than his proposing of some Arian objections; which he abundantly confutes in the very places, showing them to be nothing else but misrepresentation and calumny.
In the year 355, Hilary, one of the greatest Bishops of the west, and who may be justly called the Western
· Euseb. contr. Marcell. lib. i. cap. 4. p. 22. p Id. ibid. 9 Athanas. de Decret. Syn. Nicæn. p. 233.
Athanas. p. 111, 262, 412, 502, 676, 723. ed. Bened.
Athanasius, wrote his first letter to Constantius the Emperor; in which we have the following testimony relating to our present purpose.
“ After four hundred years almost, since the only be“ gotten Son of God vouchsafed to take pity on lost man“ kind, as if there had been no Apostles before, or as if “ after their martyrdoms and deaths there had been no “ Christians, now at length is come abroad the Arian “pestilence, novel and direful, not a plague of infected air, “ but of execrable blasphemies. Have they then, who “ believed before, entertained false hopes of immortality? “ It is but late, we know, that these imaginations have “ been invented by the two Eusebius's and Narcissus, “ and Theodorus, and Stephanus, and Acacius, and Me“ nophantus ; and the two ignorant and immoral youths, “ Ursatius and Valens, whose letters are published, and “ who are farther convicted by credible witnesses, such as “ have heard them, not so much disputing, as barking “ against us s.” In another treatise, published three years after, the same Hilary, having shown how he had received his faith from the Prophets, Evangelists, and Apostles, goes on thus : “ By these have I been taught to believe “ as I do: in this faith am I imbued beyond recovery. “ Pardon me, O God Almighty, that I cannot be moved “ from this belief; but I can die for it. This age is tardy, “ I conceive, in bringing me these most impious teachers : “ these masters are too late for my faith, a faith which “ thou hast taught me. Such was my faith in thee, before “ ever I so much as heard of these names: by thee was I “thus regenerated, and from that time forwards thus am “I ever thine!.” Such is the constant strain of this blessed saint; who every where brands the Arian doctrine as the new, novel, upstart heresy, folly, madness; and the broachers of it as the new apostolate, emissaries of Antichrist, Vlasphemers, and the like. Little did he suspect, though a knowing and a learned man, that any
• Hilar. ad Constant. lib. i. p. 1220.
Hilar. de Trin. lib. vi. p. 892.
such doctrine had been received or taught by the AnteNicene churches.
About the year 360, Basil entered the lists in this controversy. We shall often u find him appealing to the tradition of the Fathers for the Athanasian doctrine. His confession, (in Mr. Whiston's phrase,) relating to Gregory of Neocæsarea, amounts only to this, that Gregory had made use of some expressions which evil-minded men had perverted to a false and bad sense, directly contrary to Gregory's true meaning. Basil himself bears full and clear testimony to Gregory's orthodoxy; as Bishop Bull has largely demonstrated <, beyond contradiction.
As to what Basil says of Dionysius of Alexandria, that he was the first who laid the seeds of the impiety of the Anomæans : thus much, at least, may be gathered from it, that, in Basil's judgment, none of the writers before Dionysius (who wrote against Sabellius, about the year 259) had any tincture of that impiety; but that the AnteNicene Church in general was very free from it. And as to Dionysius himself, (however hardly Basil might once think of him,) he has been abundantly vindicated by Athanasius among the ancients, and by several learned moderns.
What Basil is said to confess of Origen, shows that in his opinion, custom and common consent was, in Origen's time, on the side of the doctrines called Athanasian; and that Origen himself, sometimes at least, conformed to it. But I shall vindicate Origen at large in a proper
Nazianzen, a contemporary of Basil's, in more places than one, bears testimony to the antiquity and uninterrupted succession of the Nicene faith, from the times of the Apostles. As to a pretended Confession of his looking the other way, it will be considered at large in the following sheets.
Epiphanius, about the year 375, says, that the apo• Basil. contr. Eunom. lib. i. p. 5. De Spir. S. p. 167. Ep. 79. * Bull. D. F. sect. ii. cap. 12.
stolical faith (that is, the Athanasian in his account) continued pure and uncorrupted till the time of Arius, who divided the Churchy: and who by the instigation of the Devil, and with an impudent forehead, let his tongue loose against his Lord z: so little did he imagine that Arianism was primitive Christianity. He observes farther, that had it not been for the subtle practices of Eudoxius, Bishop of Constantinople, in perverting and corrupting the most pious Emperor Valens, the very women and children, and all that had been in any tolerable measure instructed in Christian principles, would have reproved and routed the Arians, as blasphemers and murderers of their Lorda, &c. Such was the assurance the Athanasians then had, that their faith was the settled and standing doctrine of the primitive churches all the world over, till the time of Arius.
As to Epiphanius's opinion of Lucian and Origen, (two single men,) it was severe enough, and indeed not just; as Bishop Bull hath abundantly proved. Yet, from Epiphanius's censure of Origen, one may perceive plainly, that he thought the Ante-Nicene Church in general, both before and after Origen, to be of a very contrary judgment to that which he condemns in Lucian and Origen, that is, to Arianism.
At this time lived Gregory Nyssen; who about the year 381 encountered Eunomius, the shrewdest and sharpest Arian of that age. In his reply to him, he takes notice that the Church had been in possession of this doctrine, that God the Son is essentially true God, of the essence of the true God : and that if Eunomius should undertake to confute that doctrine, he ought to fix upon some firm and certain principles whereon to proceed, and trace them down by just and regular deductions, in order to come at his conclusion. After he had said this, he goes on in these words.
“Let no one here tell me, that we ought also to give
y Epiphan. contr. Hæres. Ixix. p. 728. 2 Ibid. p. 736.
• Ibid. p. 737.