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which even Arius would scarcely have allowed, expressed as it is almost after the manner of Paulus'.
3. The first Ecumenical Council met at Nicæa in Bithynia, in the summer of A.D. 325. It was attended by about 300 Bishops, chiefly from the eastern provinces of the empire, besides a multitude of priests, deacons, and other functionaries of the Church. Hosius, one of the most eminent men of an age of saints, was president. The Fathers who took the principal share in its proceedings were Alexander of Alexandria, attended by his deacon Athanasius, then about 27 years of age, and soon afterwards his successor in the see; Eustathius, patriarch of Antioch, Macarius of Jerusalem, Cæcilian of Carthage, the object of the hostility of the Donatists, Leontius of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, and Marcellus of Ancyra, whose name was afterwards unhappily notorious in the Church. The number of Arian Bishops is variously stated at 13, 17, or 22 ; the most conspicuous of these being the wellknown prelates of Nicomedia and Cæsarea, both of whom bore the name of Eusebius.
The discussions of the Council commenced in the middle of June, and were at first private. Arius was introduced and examined ; and confessed his impieties with a plainness and vehemence far more respectable than the hypocrisy which was the characteristic of his party, and ultimately was adopted by himself. Then followed his disputation with Athanasius”, who after
1 Theod. Hist. i. 12.
["It is difficult," say the notes, Ath. Tr. pp. 94, 183,“ to gain a clear
Council. [CHAP. III. wards engaged the Arian Eusebius of Nicomedia, Maris, and Theognis. The unfortunate Marcellus also distinguished himself in the defence of the Catholic doctrine.
Reference has been already made to Gibbon's representation, that the Fathers of the Council were in doubt for a time, how to discriminate between their own doctrine and the heresy; but the discussions of the
idea of the character of Arius. Athanasius speaks as if his Thalia was but in keeping with his life, calling him the Sotadean Arius,' while Constantine, Alexander, and Epiphanius give us a contrary view of him, still differing one from the other. Constantine, indeed, is not consistent with himself; first he cries out to him (as if with Athanasius), ‘Arius, Arius, at least let the society of Venus keep you back,' then “Look, look all men .. how his veins and flesh are possessed with poison, and are in a ferment of severe pain; how his whole body is wasted, and is all withered and sad and pale and shaking, and all that is miserable and fearfully emaciated. How hateful to see, and how filthy is his mass of hair, how he is half dead all over, with failing eyes and bloodless countenance, and woe-begone; so that, all these things combining in him at once, frenzy, madness, and folly, from the continuance of the complaint, have made thee wild and savage. But, not having any sense of the bad plight he is in, he cries out, “I am transported with delight, and I leap and skip for joy, and I fly ;” and again, with boyish impetuosity, “ Be it so,” he says,“ we are lost." "" Harduin. Conc. t. i. p. 457. St. Alexander speaks of Arius's melancholy temperament. Epiphanius's account of him is as follows: “From elation of mind this old man swerved from the truth. He was in stature very tall, downcast in visage, with manners like a wily serpent, captivating to every guileless heart by that same crafty bearing. For, ever habited in cloke and vest, he was pleasant of address, ever persuading souls and flattering,” &c. Hær. 69, 3. Arius is here said to be tall; Athanasius, unless Julian's description of him is but declamation, was short, undè århp, år' å vpwnlokos eŮTelds (“ not even a man, but a common little fellow"). Ep. 51. However, Gregory Nazianzen, who had never seen him, speaks of him, as “high in prowess, and humble in spirit, mild, meek, full of sympathy, pleasant in speech, more pleasant in manners, angelical in person, more angelical in mind, serene in his rebukes, instructive in his praises,” &c. Orat. 21. 8.]
3 [Supr. p. 240.]
1.] History of the Nicene Council. 259 foregoing Chapter contain sufficient evidence, that they had rather to reconcile themselves to the adoption of a formula which expedience suggested, and to the use of it as a test, than to discover a means of ejecting or subduing their opponents. In the very beginning of the controversy, Eusebius of Nicomedia had declared, that he would not admit the “ from the substance” as an attribute of our Lord". A letter containing a similar avowal was read in the Council, and made clear to its members the objects for which they had met; viz. to ascertain the character and tendency of the heresy; to raise a protest and defence against it; lastly, for that purpose, to overcome their own reluctance to the formal and unauthoritative adoption of a word, in explanation of the true doctrine, which was not found in Scripture, had actually been perverted in the previous century to an heretical meaning, and was in consequence forbidden by the Antiochene Council which condemned Paulus.
The Arian party, on the other hand, anxious to avoid a test, which they themselves had suggested, presented a Creed of their own, drawn up by Eusebius of Cæsarea. In it, though the expression “ of the substance” or “consubstantial” was omitted, every term of honour and dignity, short of this, was bestowed therein upon the Son of God; who was designated as the Logos of God, God of God, Light of Light, Life of Life, the Onlybegotten Son, the First-born of the whole creation, of the Father before all worlds, and the Instrument of creating them. The Three Persons were confessed to be
Council. [CHAP. III. in real hypostasis or subsistence in opposition to Sabellianism), and to be truly Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Catholics saw very clearly, that concessions of this kind on the part of the Arians did not conceal the real question in dispute. Orthodox as were the terms employed by them, naturally and satisfactorily as they would have answered the purposes of a test, had the existing questions never been agitated, and consistent as they were with certain producible statements of the Ante-Nicene writers, they were irrelevant at a time when evasions had been found for them all, and triumphantly proclaimed. The plain question was, whether our Lord was God in as full a sense as the Father, though not to be viewed as separable from Him; or whether, as the sole alternative, He was a creature; that is, whether He was literally of, and in, the one Indivisible Essence which we adore as God, “consubstantial with God," or of a substance which had a beginning. The Arians said that He was a creature, the Catholics that He was very God; and all the subtleties of the most fertile ingenuity could not alter, and could but hide, this fundamental difference. A specimen of the Arian argumentation at the Council has already been given on the testimony of Athanasius; happily it was not successful. A form of creed was drawn up by Hosius, containing the discriminating terms of orthodoxy ; and anathemas
5 [Justice has not been done here to the ground of tradition, on which the Fathers specially took their stand. For example, “Who. ever heard such doctrine ?” says Athanasius; “ whence, from whom did they gain it ? Who thus expounded to them when they were at school ?” Orat. i. & 8. “Is it not enough to distract a man, and to
were added against all who maintained the heretical formulæ, Arius and his immediate followers being mentioned by name. In order to prevent misapprehension of the sense in which the test was used, explanations accompanied it. Thus carefully defined, it was offered for subscription to the members of the Council; who in consequence bound themselves to excommunicate from their respective bodies all who actually obtruded upon the Church the unscriptural and novel positions of Arius. As to the laity, they were not required to subscribe any test as the condition of communion; though they were of course exposed to the operation of the anathema, in case they ventured on positive innovations on the rule of faith.
While the Council took this clear and temperate view of its duties, Constantine acted a part altogether consistent with his own previous sentiments, and praiseworthy under the circumstances of his defective knowledge. He had followed the proceedings of the assembled prelates with interest, and had neglected no opportunity of impressing upon them the supreme importance of securing the peace of the Church. On the opening of the Council, he had set the example of conciliation, by burning publicly, without reading, certain charges which had been presented to him against some of its members; a noble act, as conveying a lesson to all present to repress every private feeling, and to deliberate for the wellbeing of the Church Catholic to the end of time. Such was his behaviour, while the question in make him stop his ears ? ” § 35. Vide Ath. Tr. pp. 190, 191, with the note and references.] . .