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controversy was still pending ; but when the decision was once announced, his tone altered, and what had been a recommendation of caution, at once became an injunction to conform. Opposition to the sentence of the Church was considered as disobedience to the civil authority; the prospect of banishment was proposed as the alternative of subscription; and it was not long before seven of the thirteen dissentient Bishops submitted to the pressure of the occasion, and accepted the creed with its anathemas as articles of peace.
Indeed the position in which Eusebius of Nicomedia had placed their cause, rendered it difficult for them consistently to refuse subscription. The violence, with which Arius originally assailed the Catholics, had been succeeded by an affected earnestness for unity and concord, so soon as his favour at Court allowed him to dispense with the low popularity by which he first rose into notice. The insignificancy of the points in dispute which had lately been the very ground of complaint with him and his party against the particular Church which condemned him, became an argument for their yielding, when the other Churches of Christendom confirmed the sentence of the Alexandrian. It is said, that some of them substituted the “homoüsion” (“like in substance"), for the “homoüsion” (“one in substance"), in the confessions which they presented to the Council; but it is unsafe to trust the Anomaan Philostorgius, on whose authority the report rests o, in a charge against the Eusebian party, and perhaps after all he merely means, that they explained the latter by the former as an excuse for their own recantation. The six, who remained unpersuaded, had founded an objection, which the explanations set forth by the Council had gone to obviate, on the alleged materialism of the word which had been selected as the test. At length four of them gave way; and the other two, Eusebius of Nicomedia, and another, withdrawing their opposition to the “ homoüsion," only refused to sign the condemnation of Arius. These, however, were at length released from their difficulty, by the submission of the heresiarch himself; who was pardoned on the understanding, that he never returned to the Church, which had suffered so much from his intrigues. There is, however, some difficulty in this part of the history. Eusebius shortly afterwards suffered a temporary exile, on a detection of his former practices with Licinius to the injury of Constantine; and Arius, apparently involved in his ruin, was banished with his followers into Illyria.
6 Philost. i. 9.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE NICENE COUNCIL.
From the time that the Eusebians consented to subscribe the Homoüsion in accordance with the wishes of a heathen prince, they became nothing better than a political party. They soon learned, indeed, to call themselves Homæusians, or believers in the “like” substance (homoüsion,) as if they still held the peculiarities of a religious creed; but in truth it is an abuse of language to say that they had any definite belief at all. For this reason, the account of the Homæusian or SemiArian doctrine shall be postponed, till such time as we fall in with individuals whom we may believe to be serious in their professions, and to act under the influence of religious convictions however erroneous. Here the Eusebians must be described as a secular faction, which is the true character of them in the history in which they bear a part.
Strictly speaking, the Christian Church, as being a visible society, is necessarily a political power or party. It may be a party triumphant, or a party under persecution; but a party it always must be, prior in existence to the civil institutions with which it is surrounded, and
from its latent divinity formidable and influential, even to the end of time. The grant of permanency was made in the beginning, not to the mere doctrine of the Gospel, but to the Association itself built upon the doctrine '; in prediction, not only of the indestructibility of Christianity, but of the medium also through which it was to be manifested to the world. Thus the Ecclesiastical Body is a divinely-appointed means, towards realizing the great evangelical blessings. Christians depart from their duty, or become in an offensive sense political, not when they act as members of one community, but when they do so for temporal ends or in an illegal manner; not when they assume the attitude of a party, but when they split into many. If the primitive believers did not interfere with the acts of the civil government, it was merely because they had no civil rights enabling them legally to do so. But where they have rights, the case is different?; and the existence of a secular spirit is to be ascertained, not by their using these, but their using them for ends short of the ends for which they were given. Doubtless in criticizing the mode of their exercising them in a particular case, differences of opinion may fairly exist; but the principle itself, the duty of using their civil rights in the service of religion, is clear; and since there is a popular misconception, that Christians, and especially the Clergy, as such, have no concern in temporal affairs, it is expedient to take every opportunity of formally denying the position, and demanding proof of it. In truth, the Church was framed for the express purpose of inter* Matt. xvi. 18.
; Acts xvi. 37–39.
of the Nicene Council. [CHAP. III. fering, or (as irreligious men will say) meddling with the world. It is the plain duty of its members, not only to associate internally, but also to develope that internal union in an external warfare with the spirit of evil, whether in Kings' courts or among the mixed multitude; and, if they can do nothing else, at least they can suffer for the truth, and remind men of it, by inflicting on them the task of persecution.
These principles being assumed, it is easy to enter into the relative positions of the Catholics and Arians at the era under consideration. As to the Arians, it is a matter of fact, that Arius and his friends commenced their career with the deliberate commission of disorderly and schismatical acts; and it is a clear inference from their subsequent proceedings, that they did so for private ends. For both reasons, then, they were a mere political faction, usurping the name of religion ; and, as such, essentially anti-christian. The question here is not whether their doctrine was right or wrong; but, whether they did not make it a secondary object of their exertions, an instrument towards attaining ends which they valued above it. Now it will be found, that the party was prior to the creed. They grafted their heresy on the schism of the Meletians, who continued to support them after they had published it; and they readily abandoned it, when their secular interests required the sacrifice. At the Council of Nicæa, they began by maintaining an erroneous doctrine; they ended by con