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but a more difficult task remained behind, viz. to gain the approval and consent of the Western Church, by an exposition of the articles of their faith. Not intending to bind themselves by the decision at Nicæa, they had to find some substitute for the Homoüsion. With this view four, or even five creeds, more or less resembling the Nicene in language, were successively adopted. The first was that ascribed to the martyr Lucian, though doubts are entertained concerning its genuineness. It is in itself almost unexceptionable; and, had there been no controversies on the subjects contained in it, would have been a satisfactory evidence of the orthodoxy of its promulgators. The Son is therein styled the exact Image of the substance, will, power, and glory of the Father; and the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity are said to be three in substance, one in will’. An evasive condemnation was added of the Arian tenets; sufficient, as it might seem, to delude the Latins, who were unskilled in the subtleties of the question. For instance, it was denied that our Lord was born“ in time," but in the heretical school, as was shown above, time was supposed to commence with the creation of the world; and it was denied that He was “in the number of the creatures," it being their doctrine, that He was the sole immediate work of God, and, as such, not like others, but separate from the whole creation, of which indeed He was the author. Next, for some or other reason, two new creeds were proposed, and partially adopted by the Council; the same in character of doctrine, but shorter. These three were all circulated, and more or less received in the neighbouring Churches; but, on consideration, none of them seemed adequate to the object in view, that of recommending the Eusebians to the distant Churches of the West. Accordingly, a fourth formulary was drawn up after a few months' delay, among others by Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, a Semi-Arian Bishop of religious character, afterwards to be mentioned; its composers were deputed to present it to Constans; and, this creed proving unsatisfactory, a fifth confession was drawn up with considerable care and ability; though it too failed to quiet the suspicions of the Latins. This last is called the Macrostich, from the number of its paragraphs, and did not make its appearance till three years after the former.
1 Exact image, ånapáalaktos eixóv; substance, oiola ; subsistence, or person, υπόστασις.
In truth, no such exposition of the Catholic faith could satisfy the Western Christians, while they were witnesses to the exile of its great champion on account of his fidelity to it. Here the Eusebians were wanting in their usual practical shrewdness. Words, however orthodox, could not weigh against so plain a fact. The Occidentals, however unskilled in the niceties of the Greek language, were able to ascertain the heresy of the Eusebians in their malevolence towards Athanasius. Nay, the anxious attempts of his enemies, to please them by means of a confession of faith, were a refutation of their pretences. For, inasmuch as the sense of the Catholic world, had already been recorded in the Homoäsion, why should they devise a new formulary, if after all they agreed with the Church? or, why should they themselves be so fertile in confessions, if they had all of them but one faith? It is brought against them by Athanasius, that in their creeds they date their exposition of the Catholic doctrine, as if it were something new, instead simply of its being declared, which was the sole design of the Nicene Fathers; while at other times, they affected to acknowledge the authority of former Councils, which nevertheless they were indirectly opposing? Under these circumstances the Roman Church, as the representative of the Latins, only became more bent upon the convocation of a General Council in which the Nicene Creed might be ratified, and any innovation upon it reprobated; and the innocence of Athanasius, which it had already ascertained in its provincial Synod, might be formally proved, and proclaimed to the whole of Christendom. This object was at length accomplished. Constans, whom Athanasius had visited and gained, successfully exerted his influence with his brother Constantius, the Emperor of the East; and a Council of the whole Christian world was summoned at Sardica for the above purposes, the exculpation of Marcellus and others being included with that of Athanasius.
Sardica was chosen as the place of meeting, as lying on the confines of the two divisions of the Empire. It is on the borders of Moesia, Thrace, and Illyricum, and at the foot of Mount Hæmus, which separates it from Philippopolis. There the heads of the Christian world assembled in the year 347, twenty-two years after the Nicene Council, in number above 380 bishops, of whom seventy-six were Arian. The President of the Council was the venerable Hosius; whose name was in itself a
2 Athan. de Syn. 3. 37.
pledge, that the decision of Nicæa was simply to be preserved, and no fresh question raised on a subject already exhausted by controversy. But, almost before the opening of the Council, matters were brought to a crisis; a schism took place in its members; the Arians retreated to Philippopolis, and there excommunicated the leaders of the orthodox, Julius of Rome, Hosius, and Protogenes of Sardica, issued a sixth confession of faith, and confirmed the proceedings of the Antiochene Council against Athanasius and the other exiles.
This secession of the Arians arose in consequence of their finding, that Athanasius was allowed a seat in the Council; the discussions of which they refused to attend, while a Bishop took part in them, who had already been deposed by Synods of the East. The orthodox replied, that a later Council, held at Rome, had fully acquitted and restored him; moreover, that to maintain his guilt was but to assume the principal point, which they were then assembled to debate; and, though very consistent with their absenting themselves from the Council altogether, could not be permitted to those, who had by their coming recognized the object, for which it was called. Accordingly, without being moved by their retreat, the Council proceeded to the condemnation of some of the more notorious opponents among them of the Creed of Nicæa, examined the charges against Athanasius and the rest, reviewed the acts of the investigations at Tyre and the Mareotis, which the Eusebians had sent to Rome in their defence, and confirmed the decree of the Council of Rome, in favour of the accused. Constans enforced this decision on his brother by the arguments peculiar to a monarch; and the timid Constantius, yielding to fear what he denied to justice, consented to restore to Alexandria a champion of the truth, who had been condemned on the wildest of charges, by the most hostile and unprincipled of judges.
The journey of Athanasius to Alexandria elicited the fullest and most satisfactory testimonies of the real orthodoxy of the Eastern Christians; in spite of the existing cowardice or misapprehension, which surrendered them to the tyrannical rule of a few determined and energetic heretics. The Bishops of Palestine, one of the chief holds of the Arian spirit, welcomed, with the solemnity of a Council, a restoration, which, under the circumstances of the case, was almost a triumph over their own sovereign; and so excited was the Catholic feeling even at Antioch, that Constantius feared to grant to the Athanasians a single Church in that city, lest it should have been the ruin of the Arian cause.
One of the more important consequences of the Council of Sardica, was the public recantation of Valens, and his accomplice Ursacius, Bishop of Singidon, in Pannonia, two of the most inveterate enemies and calumniators of Athanasius. It was addressed to the Bishop of Rome, and was conceived in the following terms: “Whereas we are known heretofore to have preferred many grievous charges against Athanasius the Bishop, and, on being put on our defence by your excellency, have failed to make good our charges, we declare to your excellency, in the presence of all the presbyters, our brethren, that all which we have heretofore heard against the aforesaid, is false, and altogether foreign to