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which are the tokens of the genuine Arian temper. Nor was the allegorical principle of Eclecticism incompatible with the instruments of the Sophist. This also in the hands of a dexterous disputant, particularly in attack, would become more serviceable to the heretical than to the orthodox cause. For, inasmuch as the Arian controversialist professed to be asking for reasons why he should believe our Lord's divinity, an answer based on allegorisms did not silence him, while at the same time, it suggested to him the means of thereby evading those more argumentative proofs of the Catholic doctrine, which are built upon the explicit and literal testimonies of Scripture. It was notoriously the artifice of Arius, which has been since more boldly adopted by modern heretics, to explain away its clearest declarations by a forced figurative exposition. Here that peculiar subtlety in the use of language, in which his school excelled, supported and extended the application of the allegorical rule, recommended, as it was, to the unguarded believer, and forced upon the more wary, by its previous reception on the part of the most illustrious ornaments and truest champions of the Apostolic faith. · But after all there is no sufficient evidence in history that the Arians did make this use of Neo-Platonism?, considered as a party. I believe they did not, and from the facts of the history should conclude Eusebius of Cæsarea alone to be favourable to that philosophy: but some persons may attach importance to the circumstance, that Syria was one of its chief seats from its very first appearance. The virtuous and amiable Alexander Severus openly professed its creed in his Syrian court, and in consequence of this profession, extended his favour to the Jewish nation. Zenobia, a Jewess in religion, succeeded Alexander in her taste for heathen literature, and attachment to the syncretistic philosophy. Her instructor in the Greek language, the celebrated Longinus, had been the pupil of Ammonius, and was the early master of Porphyry, the most bitter opponent of Christianity that issued from the Eclectic school. Afterwards, Amelius, the friend and successor of Plotinus, transferred the seat of the philosophy from Rome to Laodicea in Syria; which became remarkable for the number and fame of its Eclectics 8. In the next century, lamblicus and Libanius, the friend of Julian, both belonged to the Syrian branch of the sect. It is remarkable that, in the mean time, its Alexandrian branch declined in reputation on the death of Ammonius; probably, in consequence of the hostility it met with from the Church which had the misfortune to give it birth.
7 There seems to have been a much earlier coalition between the Platonic and Ebionitish doctrines, if the works attributed to the Roman Clement may be taken in evidence of it. Mosheim (de Turb. Eccl. $ 34) says both the Recognitions and Clementines are infected with the latter, and the Clementines with the former doctrine. These works were written between A.D. 180.and A.D. 250 : are they to be referred to the school of Theodotus and Artemon, which was humanitarian and Roman, expressly claimed the Bishops of Rome as countenancing its errors, and falsified the Scriptures at least ? Plotinus came to Rome A.D. 244, and Philostratus commenced his life of Apollonius there as early as A.D. 217. This would account for the Platonism of the later of the two compositions, and its absence from the earlier.
ONE subject more must be discussed in illustration of the conduct of the Alexandrian school, and the circumstances under which the Arian heresy rose and extended itself. The Sabellianism which preceded it has often been considered the occasion of it;—viz. by a natural reaction from one error into its opposite; to separate the Father from the Son with the Arians, being the contrary heresy to that of confusing them together after the manner of the Sabellians. Here, however, Sabellianism shall be considered neither as the proximate nor the remote cause, or even occasion, of Arianism; but first, as drawing off the attention of the Church from the prospective evil of the philosophical spirit; next, as suggesting such reasonings, and naturalizing such expressions and positions in the doctrinal statements of the orthodox, as seemed to countenance the opposite error; lastly, as providing a sort of justification of the Arians, when they first showed themselves;—that is, Sabellianism is here regarded as facilitating rather than originating the disturbances occasioned by the Arian heresy.
1. The history of the heresy afterwards called Sabellian
is obscure. Its peculiar tenet is the denial of the distinction of Persons in the Divine Nature; or the doctrine of the Monarchia, as it is called by an assumption of exclusive orthodoxy, like that which has led to the term “ Unitarianism” at the present day. It was first maintained as a characteristic of party by a school established (as it appears) in Proconsular Asia, towards the end of the second century. This school, of which Noetus was the most noted master, is supposed to be an offshoot of the Gnostics; and doubtless it is historically connected with branches of that numerous family. Irenæus is said to have written against it; which either proves its antiquity, or seems to imply its origination in those previous Gnostic systems, against which his extant work is entirely directed”. It may be added, that Simon Magus, the founder of the Gnostics, certainly held a doctrine resembling that advocated by the Sabellians.
At the end of the second century, Praxeas, a presbyter of Ephesus, passed from the early school already mentioned to Rome. Meeting there with that determined resistance which honourably distinguishes the primitive Roman Church in its dealings with heresy, he retired into Africa, and there, as founding no sect, he was soon forgotten. However, the doubts and speculations which he had published, concerning the great doctrine in dispute, remained alive in that part of the world, though latent, till they burst into a flame about the middle of the third century, at the eventful era when the rudiments of Arianism were laid by the sophistical school at Antioch.
i Burton, Bampt. Lect. note 103. [The word Movapxia was adopted in opposition to the three åpxikal ÚTOOTO Els of the Eclectics; vide supra, p. 115.]
2 Dodwell in Iren. Diss. vi. 26. 3 Tertull. in Prax. 3. [It is not certain Praxeas was detected at Rome.]
The author of this new disturbance was Sabellius, from whom the heresy has since taken its name. He was a bishop or presbyter in Pentapolis, a district of Cyrenaica, included within the territory afterwards called, and then virtually forming, the Alexandrian Patriarchate. Other bishops in his neighbourhood adopting his sentiments, his doctrine became so popular among a clergy already prepared for it, or hitherto unpractised in the necessity of a close adherence to the authorized formularies of faith, that in a short time (to use the words of Athanasius) “the Son of God was scarcely preached in the Churches.” Dionysius of Alexandria, as primate, gave his judgment in writing; but, being misunderstood by some orthodox but over-zealous brethren, he in turn was accused by them, before the Roman See, of advocating the opposite error, afterwards the Arian; and in consequence, instead of checking the heresy, found himself involved in a controversy in defence of his own opinions“. Nothing more is known concerning the Sabellians for above a hundred years; when it is inferred from the fact that the Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381) rejected their baptism, that they formed at that time a communion distinct from the Catholic Church. · Another school of heresy also denominated Sabellian, is obscurely discernible even earlier than the Ephesian, among the Montanists of Phrygia. The well-known doctrine of these fanatics, when adopted by minds less
4 Vide Athan. de Sent. Dionys.