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this spirit of controversy, we questioned them, whether they spoke, as the Arians, of Hypostases foreign and dissimilar to each other, and diverse in substance, each independent and separate in itself, as in the case of individual creatures, or the offspring of man, or, as different substances, gold, silver, or brass ; or, again, as other heretics hold, of Three Origins, and Three Gods. In answer, they solemnly assured us, that they neither said nor had imagined any such thing. On our inquiring, 'In what sense then do you say this, or why do you use such expressions at all ?' they answered, “Because we believe in the Holy Trinity, not as a Trinity in name only, but in truth and reality. We acknowledge the Father truly and in real subsistence, and the Son truly in substance, and subsistent, and the Holy Ghost subsisting and existing'. They said too, that they had not spoken of Three Gods, or Three Origins, nor would tolerate that statement or notion ; but acknowledged a Holy Trinity indeed, but only One Godhead, and One Origin, and the Son consubstantial with the Father, as the Council declared, and the Holy Spirit, not a creature, nor foreign, but proper to and indivisible from, the substance of the Son and the Father.
“Satisfied with this explanation of the expressions in question, and the reasons for their use, we next examined the other party, who were accused by the above-mentioned as holding but One Hypostasis, whether their teaching coincided with that of the Sabellians, in destroying the substance of the Son and the subsistence of the Holy Spirit. They were as earnest as the others could be, in denying both the statement and thought of such a doctrine; 'but we use Hypostasis (subsistence), they said, considering it means the same as Usia (substance), and we hold that there is but one, because the Son is from the Usia (substance) of the Father, and because of the identity of Their nature; for we believe, as in One Godhead, so in One Divine Nature, and not that the Father's is one, and that the Son's is foreign, and the Holy Ghost's also.' It appeared then, that both those, who were accused of holding Three Hypostases, agreed with the other party, and those, who spoke of one Substance, professed the doctrine of the former in the sense of their interpretation; by both was Arius anathematized as an enemy of Christ, Sabellius and Paulus of Samosata as impious, Valentinus and Basilides as strangers to the truth, Manichæus, as an originator of evil doctrines. And, after these explanations, all, by God's grace, unanimously agree, that such expressions were not so desirable or accurate as the Nicene Creed, the words of which they promised for the future to acquiesce in and to use?."
8 υφεστωσαν. 9 Yίον αληθώς ενούσιον όντα και υφεστωτα, και πνεύμα "Αγιον υφεστος
και υπάρχον. .
Plain as was this statement, and natural as the decision resulting from it, yet it could scarcely be expected to find acceptance in a city, where recent events had increased dissensions of long standing. In providing the injured and zealous Eustathians with an ecclesiastical head, Lucifer had, under existing circumstances, administered a stimulant to the throbbings and festerings of the baser passions of human nature-passions, which it requires the strong exertion of Christian magnanimity and charity to overcome. The Meletians, on the other hand, recognized as they were by the Oriental Church as a legitimate branch of itself, were in the position of an establishment, and so exposed to the temptation of disdaining those, whom the surrounding Churches considered as schismatics. How far each party was in fault, we are not able to determine; but blame lay somewhere, for the controversy about the Hypostasis, verbal as it was, became the watchword of the quarrel between the two parties, and only ended, when the Eustathians were finally absorbed by the larger and more powerful body.
1 Athan. Tom. ad Antioch, 5 and 6.
THE ECUMENICAL COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE IN THE
REIGN OF THEODOSIUS.
THE second Ecumenical Council was held at Constanti. nople, A.D. 381–383. It is celebrated in the history of theology for its condemnation of the Macedonians, who, separating the Holy Spirit from the unity of the Father and Son, implied or inferred that He was a creature. A brief account of it is here added in its ecclesiastical aspect; the doctrine itself, to which it formally bore witness, having been incidentally discussed in the second Chapter of this Volume.
Eight years before the date of this Council, Athanasius had been taken to his rest. After a life of contest, prolonged, in spite of the hardships he encountered, beyond the age of seventy years, he fell asleep in peaceable possession of the Churches, for which he had suffered. The Council of Alexandria was scarcely concluded, when he was denounced by Julian, and saved his life by flight or concealment. Returning on Jovian's accession, he was, for a fifth and last time, forced to retreat before the ministers of his Arian successor Valens; and for four months lay hid in his father's sepulchre. On a representation being made to the new Emperor, even with
the consent of the Arians themselves, he was finally restored ; and so it happened, through the good Providence of God, that the fury of persecution, heavily as it threatened in his last years, yet was suspended till his death, when it at once burst forth upon the Church with renewed vigour. Thus he was permitted to muse over his past trials, and his prospects for the future; to collect his mind to meet his God, gathering himself up with Jacob on his bed of age, and yielding up the ghost peaceably among his children. Yet, amid the decay of nature, and the visions of coming dissolution, the attention of Athanasius was in no wise turned from the active duties of his station. The vigour of his obedience to those duties remained unabated; one of his last acts being the excommunication of one of the Dukes of Lybia, for irregularity of life.
At length, when the great Confessor was removed, the Church sustained a loss, from which it never recovered. His resolute resistance of heresy had been but one portion of his services; a more excellent praise is due to him, for his charitable skill in binding together his brethren in unity. The Church of Alexandria was the natural mediator between the East and West; and Athanasius had well improved the advantages thus committed to him. His judicious interposition in the troubles at Antioch has lately been described ; and the dissensions between his own Church and Constantinople, which ensued upon his death, may be taken to show how much the combination of the Catholics depended on his silent authority. Theological subtilties were for ever starting into existence among the Greek Christians;