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wards called, Anomean, though the phrase, in which it was conveyed, bore in its letter the reverse sense.
Such was the state of the heresy about the year 350 ; before reviewing its history, as carried on between the two rival parties into which its advocates, the Eusebians, were dividing, the Semi-Arian and Homean, I shall turn to the sufferings of the Catholic Church at that period.
The second Arian Persecution is spread over the space of about twelve years, being the interval between the death of Constans, and that of Constantius (A.D. 350—361). Various local violences, particularly at Alexandria and Constantinople, had occurred with the countenance of the Eusebians at an earlier date; but they were rather acts of revenge, than intended as means of bringing over the Catholics, and were conducted on no plan. The chief sees, too, had been seized, and their occupants banished. But now the alternative of subscription or suffering was generally introduced ; and, though Arianism was more sanguinary in its later persecutions, it could not be more audacious and abandoned than it showed itself in this.
The artifice of the Homøon, of which Acacius had undertaken the management, was adapted to promote the success of his party, among the orthodox of the West, as well as to delude or embarrass the Oriental Semi-Arians, for whom it was particularly provided. The Latin Churches, who had not been exposed to those trials of heretical subtlety of which the Homoüsion was reluctantly made the remedy, had adhered with a noble simplicity to the decision of Nicæa; being satisfied (as it would seem), that, whether or not they had need of the test of orthodoxy at present, in it lay the security of the great doctrine in debate, whenever the need should come. At the same time, they were naturally jealous of the introduction of such terms into their theology, as chiefly served to remind them of the dissensions of foreigners; and, as influenced by this feeling, even after their leaders had declared against the Eusebians at Sardica, they were exposed to the temptation of listening favourably to the artifice of the “ Homæon” or “like.” To shut up the subject in Scripture terms, and to say that our Lord was like His Father, no explanation being added, seemed to be a peaceful doctrine, and certainly was in itself unexceptionable; and, of course would wear a still more favourable aspect, when contrasted with the threat of exile and poverty, by which its acceptance was enforced. On the other hand, the proposed measure veiled the grossness of that threat itself, and fixed the attention of the solicited Churches rather upon the argument, than upon the Imperial command. Minds that are proof against the mere menaces of power, are overcome by the artifices of an importunate casuistry. Those, who would rather have suffered death than have sanctioned the impieties of Arius, hardly saw how to defend themselves in refusing creeds, which were abstractedly true, though incomplete, and intolerable only because the badges of a .prevari. cating party. Thus Arianism gained its first footing in the West. And, when one concession was made, another was demanded ; or, at other times, the first concession was converted, not without speciousness, into a principle, as allowing change altogether in theological language, as if to depart from the Homoüsion were in fact to acquiesce in the open impieties of Arius and the Anomeans. This is the character of the history as more or less illustrated in this and the subsequent Section; the Catholics being harassed by sophistry and persecution, and the Semi-Arians first acquiescing in the Homoeon, then retracting, and becoming more distinct upon the scene, as the Eusebians or Acacians ventured to speak of our Lord in less honourable terms. . But there was another subscription, required of the Catholics during the same period and from an earlier date, as painful, and to all but the most honest minds as embarrassing, as that to the creed of the Homæon; and that was the condemnation of Athanasius. The Eusebians were incited against him by resentment and jealousy; they perceived that the success of their schemes was impossible, while a Bishop was on the scene, so popular at home, so respected abroad, the bond of connexion between the orthodox of Europe and Asia, the organ of their sentiments, and the guide and vigorous agent of their counsels. Moreover, the circumstances of the times had attached an adventitious importance to his fortunes ; as if the cause of the Homoüsion were providentially committed to his custody, and in his safety or overthrow, the triumph or loss of the truth were actually involved. And, in the eyes of the Emperor, the Catholic champion appeared as a rival of his own sovereignty; type, as he really was, and instrument of that Apostolic
Order, which, whether or not united to the civil power, must, to the end of time, divide the rule with Cæsar as the minister of God. Considering then Athanasius too great for a subject, Constantius, as if for the peace of his empire, desired his destruction at any rate? Whether he was unfortunate or culpable it mattered not; whether implicated in legal guilt, or forced by circumstances into his present position ; still he was the fit victim of a sort of ecclesiastical ostracism, which, accordingly, he called upon the Church to inflict. He demanded it of the Church, for the very eminence of Athanasius rendered it unsafe, even for the Emperor, to approach him in any other way. The Patriarch of Alexandria could not be deposed, except after a series of successes over less powerful Catholics, and with the forced acquiescence or countenance of the principle Christian communities. And thus the history of the first few years of the persecution, presents to us the curious spectacle of a party warfare raging everywhere, except in the neighbourhood of the person who was the real object of it, and who was left for a time to continue the work of God at Alexandria, unmolested by the Councils, conferences, and usurpations, which perplexed the other capitals of Christendom.
As regards the majority of Bishops who were called upon to condemn him, there was, it would appear, little room for error of judgment, if they dealt honestly with their consciences. Yet, in the West, there were those, doubtless, who hardly knew enough of him to give him, their confidence, or who had no means of forming a true
1 Gibbon, Hist. ch. xxi.