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THE ARIAN HERESY.
It remains to give some account of the heretical doctrine, which was first promulgated within the Church by Arius. There have been attempts to attribute this heresy to Catholic writers previous to his time; yet its contemporaries are express in their testimony that he was the author of it, nor can any thing be adduced from the Ante-Nicene theology to countenance such an imputation. Sozomen expressly says, that Arius was the first to introduce into the Church the formula of the "out of nothing," and the "once He was not,” that is, the creation and the non-eternity of the Son of God. Alexander and Athanasius, who had the amplest means of information on the subject, confirm his testimony'. That the heresy existed before his time outside the Church, may be true,—though little is known on the subject; and that there had been certain speculators, such as Paulus of Samosata, who were simply humanitarians, is undoubtedly true; but they did not hold the formal doctrine of Arius, that an Angelic being had been exalted into a God. However, he and his supporters, though they do not venture to adduce in their favour the evidence of former Catholics, nevertheless speak in a general way of their having received their doctrines from others. Arius too himself appears to be only a partisan of the Eusebians, and they in turn are referable to Lucian of Antioch, who for some cause or other was at one time under excommunication. But here we lose sight of the heresy; except that Origen assails a doctrine, whose we know not, which bears a resemblance to it; nay, if we may trust Ruffinus, which was expressed in the very same heterodox formulæ, which Sozomen declares that Arius was the first to preach within the Church.
i Soz. i. 15. Theod. Hist, i. 4. Athan. Decr. Nic. 27. de Sent. Dionys. 6.
Before detailing, however, the separate characteristics of his heresy, it may be right briefly to confront it with such previous doctrines, in and out of the Church, as may be considered to bear a resemblance to it.
The fundamental tenet of Arianism was, that the Son of God was a creature, not born of the Father, but, in the scientific language of the times, made “out of nothing." It followed that He only possessed a super-angelic nature, being made at God's good pleasure before the worlds, before time, after the pattern of the attribute Logos or Wisdom, as existing in the Divine Mind, gifted with the illumination of it, and in consequence called after it the Word and the Wisdom, nay inheriting the title
? [The Rv TOTÈ ĎTE ook hv; it might be Tertullian who was aimed at, especially as St. Dionysius of Rome denounces the doctrine also.]
3 E duk ortwv; hence the Arians were called Exucontii.
itself of God; and at length united to a human body, in the place of its soul, in the person of Jesus Christ.
1. This doctrine resembled that of the five philosophizing Fathers, as described in the foregoing Section, so far as this, that it identified the Son with the External or Prophoric Logos, spoke of the Divine Logos Itself as if a mere internal attribute, and yet affected to maintain a connexion between the Logos and the Son. Their doctrine differed from it, inasmuch as they believed, that He who was the Son had ever been in personal existence as the Logos in the Father's bosom, whereas Arianism dated His personal existence from the time of His manifestation.
2. It resembled the Eclectic theology, so far as to maintain that the Son was by nature separate from and inferior to the Father; and again, formed at the Father's will. It differed from Eclecticism, in considering the Son to have a beginning of existence, whereas the Platonists held Him, as they held the universe, to be an eternal Emanation, and the Father's will to be a concomitant, not an antecedent, of His gennesis.
3. It agreed with the teaching of Gnostics and Manichees, in maintaining the Son’s essential inferiority to the Father: it vehemently opposed them in their material notions of the Deity.
4. It concurred with the disciples of Paulus, in considering the Intellectual and Ruling Principle in Christ, the Son of God, to be a mere creature, by nature subject to a moral probation, as other men, and exalted on the ground of His obedience, and gifted, moreover, with a heavenly wisdom, called the Logos, which guided Him.
The two heresies also agreed, as the last words imply, in holding the Logos to be an attribute or manifestation, not a Person". Paulus considered it as if a voice or sound, which comes and goes; so that God may be said to have spoken in Christ. Arius makes use of the same illustration : “Many words speaketh God,” he says, “ which of them is manifested in the flesh?” He differs from Paulus, in holding the pre-existence of the spiritual intelligence in Christ, or the Son, whom he considers to be the first and only creation of the Father's Hand, superangelic, and the God of the Christian Economy.
5. Arianism agreed with the heresy of Sabellius, in teaching God to exist only in one Person, and His true Logos to be but an attribute, manifested in the Son, who was a creature. It differed from Sabellianism, as regards the sense in which the Logos was to be accounted as existing in Christ. The Sabellian, lately a Patripassian, at least insisted much upon the formal and abiding presence of the Logos in Him. The Arian, only partially admitting the influence of the Divine Logos on that superangelic nature, which was the Son of God, and which in Christ took the place of a soul, nevertheless gave it the name of Logos, and maintained accordingly that the incarnate Logos was not the true Wisdom and Word of God, which was one with Him, but a created semblance of it.
[When the Eternal Word, after the Nicene Council, was defined to have a personal subsistence, then the Samosatene doctrine would become identical with Nestorianism. Both heresies came from Antioch.]
5 Athan. Decret. Nicen. 16. 6 Athan. Sent. Dionys. 25.
6. Such is Arianism in its relations to the principal errors of its time; and of these it was most opposed to the Gnostic and Sabellian, which, as we shall see, it did not scruple to impute to its Catholic adversaries. Towards the Catholics, on the other hand, it stood thus : it was willing to ascribe to the Son all that is commonly attributed to Almighty God, His name, authority, and power ;
all but the incommunicable nature or being (usia), that is, all but that which alone could give Him a right to these prerogatives of divinity in a real and literal sense. Now to turn to the arguments by which the heresy defended itself, or rather,"attacked the Church.
1. Arius commenced his heresy thus, as Socrates informs us :-“ (1) If the Father gave birth to the Son, He who was born has an origin of existence; (2) therefore once the Son was not; (3) therefore He is created out of nothing?.” It appears, then, that he inferred his doctrine from the very meaning of the word “ Son,"
7 Socr. i. 5. That is, the Son, as such, (1) had åpxnv útrápčews, (2) iv ότι ουκ ήν, (3) εξ ουκ όντων έχει την υπόστασιν. The argument thus stated in the history, answers to the first three propositions anathematized at Nicæa, which are as follows, the figures prefixed marking the correspondence of each with Arius's theses, as set down by Socrates :-Toùs λέγοντας (2) ότι ήν ποτε ότε ουκ ήν, (1) και πριν γεννηθήναι ουκ ήν, (3) και ότι εξ ουκ όντων εγένετο, (4) ή εξ ετέρας υποστάσεως και ουσίας είναι, ή κτιστόν, (5) ή τρεπτών και άλλοιωτόν τον υιόν του θεού, αναθεματίζει η αγία καθολική εκκλησία. [The fourth of these propositions is the denial of the ducovolov.] The last, viz. the mutability of the Son, was probably not one of Arius's original propositions, but forced from him by his opponents as a necessary consequence of his doctrine. He retracts it in his letters to Eusebius and Alexander, who, on the other hand, bears testimony to his having avowed it.