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the Semi-Arian, the Scripturalist, and the Arian pure; by his respect for Basil and the Semi-Arians, the talent of Acacius, and his personal attachment to Valens.
Aetius, the founder of the Anomoeans, is a remarkable instance of the struggles and success of a restless and aspiring mind under the pressure of difficulties. He was a native of Antioch; his father, who had an office under the governor of the province, dying when he was a child, he was made the servant or slave of a vinedresser. He was first promoted to the trade of a goldsmith or travelling tinker, according to the conflicting testimony of his friends and enemies. Falling in with an itinerant practitioner in medicine, he acquired so much knowledge of the art, as to profess it himself; and, the further study of his new profession introducing him to the disputations of his more learned brethren, he manifested such acuteness and boldness in argument, that he was soon engaged, after the manner of the Sophists, as a paid advocate for such physicians as wished their own theories exhibited in the most advantageous form. The schools of Medicine were at that time infected with Arianism, and thus introduced him to the science of theology, as well as that of disputation; giving him a bias towards heresy, which was soon after confirmed by the tuition of Paulinus, Bishop of Tyre. At Tyre he so boldly conducted the principles of Arianism to their legitimate results, as to scandalize the Eusebian successor of Paulinus; who forced him to retire to Anazarbus, and to resume his former trade of a goldsmith. The energy of Aetius, however, could not be restrained by the obstacles which birth, education, and decency threw in his way. He made acquaintance with a teacher of grammar; and, readily acquiring a smattering of polite literature, he was soon enabled to criticise his master's expositions of sacred Scripture before his pupils. A quarrel, as might be expected, ensued; and Aetius was received into the house of the Bishop of Anazarbus, who had been one of the Arian prelates at Nicæa. This man was formerly mentioned as one of the rudest and most daring among the first assailants of our Lord's divinity”. It is probable, however, that, after signing the Homoüsion, he had surrendered himself to the characteristic duplicity and worldliness of the Eusebian party; for Aetius is said to have complained, that he was deficient in depth, and, in spite of his hospitality, looked out for another instructor, Such an one he found in the person of a priest of Tarsus, who had been from the first a consistent Arian ; and with him he read the Epistles of St. Paul. Returning to Antioch, he became the pupil of Leontius, in the prophetical Scriptures; and, after a while, put himself under the instruction of an Aristotelic sophist of Alexandria. Thus accomplished, he was ordained deacon by Leontius (A.D. 350), who had been lately raised to the patriarchial See of Antioch. Thus the rise of the Anomean sect coincides in point of time with the death of Constans, an event already noticed in the history of the Eusebians, as transferring the Empire of the West to Constantius, and, thereby furthering their
division into the Homcean and Homæusian factions. Scarcely had Aetius been ordained, when the same notorious irregularities in his carriage, whatever they were, which had more than once led to his expulsion from the lay communion of the Arians, caused his deposition from the diaconate, by the very prelate who had promoted him to it. After this, little is known of him for several years; excepting a dispute, which he held with the Semi-Arian Basil, which marks his rising importance. During the interval, he ingratiated himself with Gallus, the brother of Julian; and was implicated in his political offences. Escaping, however, the anger of Constantius, by his comparative insignificance, he retired to Alexandria, and lived for some time in the train of George of Cappadocia, who allowed him to officiate as deacon. Such was at this time the character of the clergy, whom the Arians had introduced into the Syrian Churches, that this despicable adventurer, whose manners were so odious, as his life was eccentric, and his creed blasphemous, had sufficient influence to found a sect, which engaged the attention of the learned Semi-Arians at Ancyra (A.D. 358), and has employed the polemical powers of the orthodox Fathers, Basil and Gregory Nyssen.
Eunomius, his disciple, was the principal disputant in the controversy. With more learning than Aetius, he was enabled to complete and fortify the Anomæan system, inheriting from his master the two peculiarities of character which belong to his school; the first, a faculty of subtle disputation and hard mathematical reasoning, the second, a fierce, and in one sense an honest, disdain of compromise and dissimulation. These had been the two marks of Arianism at its first rise; and the first associates of Arius, who, after his submission to Constantine, had kept aloof from the Court party in disgust, now joyfully welcomed and joined the Anomaans. The new sect justified their anticipations of its boldness. The same impatience, with which Aetius had received the ambiguous explanations of the Eusebian Bishop of Anazarbus, was expressed by Eunomius for the Acacianism of Eudoxius of Antioch, who in vain endeavoured to tutor him into a less real and systematic profession of the Arian tenets. So far did his party carry their vehemence, as even to re-baptize their Christian converts, as though they had been heathen ; and that, not in the case of Catholics only, but, to the great offence of the Eusebians, even of those, whom they converted from the other forms of Arianism. Earnestness is always respectable; and, if it be allowable to speak with a sort of moral catachresis, the Anomeans merited on this account, as well as ensured, a success, which a false conciliation must not hope to obtain.
3 Epiph. Hær. lxxvi. fin. Bingham, xi. 1. $ 10. [Thus, bold as were the original Arians, the Anomoans were bolder and more consistent. Athanasius challenges the former, if they dare, to speak out. Basil says “ Aetius was the first to teach openly that the Father's substance was unlike the Son’s.” Vide Ath. Tr. p. 10. u. However, Athanasius interprets Arius's Thalia to say that the Persons of the Holy Trinity are “utterly unlike (åvbuotoi) each other in substance and glory without limit.” Orat. § 6. De Syn. s 15. Again, Arius held that the Divine Being was incomprehensible (Athan. de Syn. § 15), but the Anomeans denied it. Socr. iv. 7.]
The progress of events rapidly carried them forward upon the scene of ecclesiastical politics. Valens, who by this time had gained the lead of the Western Bishops, was seconded in his patronage of them by the eunuchs of the Court; of whom Eusebius, the Grand Chamberlain, had unlimited sway over the weak mind of the Emperor. The concessions, made by Liberius and Hosius to the Eusebian party, furnished an additional countenance to Arianism, being misrepresented as actual advances towards the heretical doctrine. The inartificial cast of the Western theology, which scarcely recognized any middle hypothesis between that of the Homoüsion and pure Arianism, strengthened the opinion that those, who had abandoned the one, must in fact have embraced the other. And, as if this were not enough, it appears that an Anomcan creed was circulated in the East, with the pretence that it was the very formula which Hosius and Liberius had subscribed. Under these circumstances, the Anomeans were soon strong enough to aid the Eusebians of the East in their contest with the Semi-Arians 4. Events in the Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem favoured their enterprise. It happening that Acacius of Cæsarea and Cyril of Jerusalem were rivals for the primacy of Palestine, the reputed connexion of Cyril with the Semi-Arian party had the effect of throwing Acacius, though the author of the Homæon, on the side of its Anomean assailants; accordingly, with the aid of the neighbouring Bishops, he succeeded in deposing Cyril, and sending him out of the country. At Antioch,
4 Petav. tom. ii. i. 9, § 6. [Tillemont, t. 6. p. 429.]