« PreviousContinue »
his character; and therefore, that we heartily embrace the communion of the aforesaid Athanasius, especially considering your Holiness, according to your habitual clemency, has condescended to pardon our mistake. Further we declare, that, should the Orientals at any time, or Athanasius, from resentful feelings, be desirous to bring us to account, that we will not act in the matter without your sanction. As for the heretic Arius, and his partisans, who say that “ Once the Son was not,” that“He is of created Substance," and that “ He is not the Son of God before all time," we anathematize them now, and once for all, according to our former statement which we presented at Milan. Witness our hand, that we condemn once for all the Arian heresy, as we have already said, and its advocates. Witness also the hand of Ursacius.—I, Ursacius the Bishop, have set my name to this statement 3."
The Council of Milan, referred to in the conclusion of this letter, seems to have been held A.D. 347; two years after the Arian creed, called Macrostich, was sent into the West, and shortly after the declaration of Constans in favour of the restoration of the Athanasians.
8 Athan. Apol. cont. Arian. 58.
The events recorded in the last Section were attended by important consequences in the history of Arianism. The Council of Sardica led to a separation between the Eastern and Western Churches; which seemed to be there represented respectively by the rival Synods of Sardica and Philippopolis, and which had before this time hidden their differences from each other, and communicated together from a fear of increasing the existing evil'. Not that really there was any discordance of doctrine between them. The historian, from whom this statement is taken, gives it at the same time as his own opinion, that the majority of the Asiatics were Homoüsians, though tyrannized over by the court influence, the sophistry, the importunity, and the daring, of the Eusebian party. This mere handful of divines, unscrupulously pressing forward into the highest ecclesiastical stations, set about them to change the condition of the Churches thus put into their power; and, as has been remarked in the case of Leontius of Antioch, filled the inferior offices with their own creatures, and sowed the seeds of future discords and disorders, which they could not hope to have themselves the satisfaction of beholding. The orthodox majority of Bishops and divines, on the other hand, timorously or indolently, kept in the background; and allowed themselves to be represented at Sardica by men, whose tenets they knew to be unchristian, and professed to abominate. And in such circumstances, the blame of the open dissensions, which ensued between the Eastern and Western divisions of Christendom, was certain to be attributed to those who urged the summoning of the Council, not to those who neglected their duty by staying away. In qualification of this censure, however, the intriguing spirit of the Eusebians must be borne in mind; who might have means, of which we are not told, of keeping away their orthodox brethren from Sardica. Certainly the expense of the journey was considerable, whatever might be the imperial or the ecclesiastical allowances for it, and their
i Soz. iii. 13.
2 [On the cursus publicus, vid. Gothofred. in Cod. Theod. viii. tit. 5. It was provided for the journeys of the Emperor, for persons whom he summoned, for magistrates, ambassadors, and for such private persons as the Emperor indulged in the use of it, which was gratis. The use was granted by Constantine to the Bishops who were summoned to Nicæa, as far as it it went, in addition to other means of travelling. Euseb. V. Const. iii. 6. (though aliter Valesius in loc.) The cursus publicus brought the Bishops to the Council of Tyre. Ibid. iv. 43. In the conference between Liberius and Constantius (Theod. Hist. ii. 13), it is objected that the cursus publicus is not sufficient to convey Bishops to the Council, as Liberius proposes ; he answers that the Churches are rich enough to convey their Bishops as far as the seas. Thus St. Hilary was compelled (datâ evectionis copiâ, Sulp. Sev. Hist. ii. 57) to attend at Seleucia, as Athanasius at Tyre. Julian complains of the abuse of the cursus publicus, perhaps with an allusion to these Councils of Constantius. Vide Cod. Theod. viii. tit. 5, 1. 12; where Gothofred quotes Liban. Epitaph. in
absence from their flocks, especially in an age fertile in Councils, was an evil. Still there is enough in the history of the times, to evidence a culpable negligence on the part of the orthodox of Asia.
However, this rupture between the East and West has here been noticed, not to censure the Asiatic Churches, but for the sake of its influence on the fortunes of Arianism. It had the effect of pushing forward the Semi-Arians, as they are called, into a party distinct from the Eusebian or Court party, among whom they had hitherto been concealed. This party, as its name implies, professed a doctrine approximating to the orthodox; and thus served as a means of deceiving the Western Churches, which were unskilled in the evasions, by which the Eusebians extricated themselves from even the most explicit confessions of the Catholic doctrine. Accordingly, the six heretical confessions hitherto recounted were all Semi-Arian in character, as being intended more or less to justify the heretical
Julian. (vol. i. p. 569, ed. Reiske). Vide the well-known passage of Ammianus, who speaks of the Councils as being the ruin of the res vehi. cularia, Hist. xxi. 16. The Eusebians at Philippopolis say the same, Hilar. Fragm. iii. 25. The Emperor provided board and perhaps lodg. ing for the Bishops at Ariminum; which the Bishops of Aquitaine, Gaul, and Britain declined, except three British from poverty. Sulp. Hist. ii. 56. Hunmeric in Africa, after assembling 466 Bishops at Carthage, dismissed them without mode of conveyance, provision, or baggage. Victor. Utic. Hist. iii. init. In the Emperor's letter previous to the assembling of the sixth Ecumenical Council, A.D. 678 (Harduin. Conc. t. 3, p. 1043, fin.), he says he has given orders for the conveyance and maintenance of its members. Pope John VIII. reminds Ursus, Duke of Venice (A.D. 876), of the same duty of providing for the members of a Council, “secundum pios principes, qui in talibus munificè semper erant intenti.” Colet. Concil. (Ven. 1730) t. xi. p. 14.]
party in the eyes of the Latins. But when this object ceased to be feasible, by the event of the Sardican Council, the Semi-Arians ceased to be of service to the Eusebians, and a separation between the parties gradually took place.
The Semi-Arians, whose history shall here be introduced, originated, as far as their doctrine is concerned, in the change of profession which the Nicene anathema was the occasion of imposing upon the Eusebians; and had for their founders Eusebius of Cæsarea, and the sophist Asterius. But viewed as a party, they are of a later date'. The genuine Eusebians were never in earnest in the modified creeds, which they so ostentatiously put forward for the approbation of the West. However, while they clamoured in defence of the inconsistent doctrine contained in them, which, resembling the orthodox in word, might in fact subvert it, and at once confessed and denied our Lord, it so happened, that they actually recommended that doctrine to the judgment of some of their followers, and succeeded in creating a direct belief in an hypothesis, which in their own case was but the cloke for their own indifference to the truth. This at least seems the true explanation of an intricate subject in the history. There are always men of sensitive and subtle minds, the natural victims of the bold disputant; men, who, unable to take a broad and commonsense view of an important subject, try to satisfy their
3 [Vide Ath. Tr. p. 111, t. p. 116, hı.]