Page images

itself of God; and at length united to a human body, in the place of its soul, in the person of Jesus Christ. : 1. This doctrine resembled that of the five philosophizing Fathers, as described in the foregoing Section, so far as this, that it identified the Son with the External or Prophoric Logos, spoke of the Divine Logos Itself as if a mere internal attribute, and yet affected to maintain a connexion between the Logos and the Son. Their doctrine differed from it, inasmuch as they believed, that He who was the Son had ever been in personal existence as the Logos in the Father's bosom, whereas Arianism dated His personal existence from the time of His manifestation.

2. It resembled the Eclectic theology, so far as to maintain that the Son was by nature separate from and inferior to the Father; and again, formed at the Father's will. It differed from Eclecticism, in considering the Son to have a beginning of existence, whereas the Platonists held Him, as they held the universe, to be an eternal Emanation, and the Father's will to be a concomitant, not an antecedent, of His gennesis.

3. It agreed with the teaching of Gnostics and Manichees, in maintaining the Son's essential inferiority to the Father: it vehemently opposed them in their material notions of the Deity.

4. It concurred with the disciples of Paulus, in considering the Intellectual and Ruling Principle in Christ, the Son of God, to be a mere creature, by nature subject to a moral probation, as other men, and exalted on the ground of His obedience, and gifted, moreover, with a heavenly wisdom, called the Logos, which guided Him. The two heresies also agreed, as the last words imply, in holding the Logos to be an attribute or manifestation, not a Person". Paulus considered it as if a voice or sound, which comes and goes; so that God may be said to have spoken in Christ. Arius makes use of the same illustration : “Many words speaketh God,” he says, “ which of them is manifested in the flesh 5?” He differs from Paulus, in holding the pre-existence of the spiritual intelligence in Christ, or the Son, whom he considers to be the first and only creation of the Father's Hand, superangelic, and the God of the Christian Economy.

5. Arianism agreed with the heresy of Sabellius, in teaching God to exist only in one Person, and His true Logos to be but an attribute, manifested in the Son, who was a creature. It differed from Sabellianism, as regards the sense in which the Logos was to be accounted as existing in Christ. The Sabellian, lately a Patripassian, at least insisted much upon the formal and abiding presence of the Logos in Him. The Arian, only partially admitting the influence of the Divine Logos on that superangelic nature, which was the Son of God, and which in Christ took the place of a soul, nevertheless gave it the name of Logos, and maintained accordingly that the incarnate Logos was not the true Wisdom and Word of God, which was one with Him, but a created semblance of it.

4 [When the Eternal Word, after the Nicene Council, was defined to have a personal subsistence, then the Samosatene doctrine would become identical with Nestorianism. Both heresies came from Antioch.]

5 Athan. Decret. Nicen. 16. 6 Athan. Sent. Dionys. 25.

6. Such is Arianism in its relations to the principal errors of its time; and of these it was most opposed to the Gnostic and Sabellian, which, as we shall see, it did not scruple to impute to its Catholic adversaries. Towards the Catholics, on the other hand, it stood thus : it was willing to ascribe to the Son all that is commonly attributed to Almighty God, His name, authority, and power; all but the incommunicable nature or being (usia), that is, all but that which alone could give Him a right to these prerogatives of divinity in a real and literal sense. Now to turn to the arguments by which the heresy defended itself, or rather,"attacked the Church.


1. Arius commenced his heresy thus, as Socrates informs us :-“ (1) If the Father gave birth to the Son, He who was born has an origin of existence; (2) therefore once the Son was not; (3) therefore He is created out of nothing?..” It appears, then, that he inferred his doctrine from the very meaning of the word “Son,"

7 Socr. i. 5. That is, the Son, as such, (1) had åpxiv útépčews, (2) hv Te oùK hv, (3) oỦk outwv čxel TTU Útbotaoi. The argument thus stated in the history, answers to the first three propositions anathematized at Nicæa, which are as follows, the figures prefixed marking the correspondence of each with Arius's theses, as set down by Socrates :-Toùs Néyovras (2) őri v Tote őte oùK hv, (1) kài apiv yevunonvai oủk tỉv, (3) και ότι εξ ουκ όντων εγένετο, (4) ή εξ ετέρας υποστάσεως και ουσίας είναι, ή κτιστον, (5) ή τρεπτόν ή αλλοιωτόν τον υιόν του θεού, αναθεματίζει η àyla kalorikékkinoia. [The fourth of these propositions is the denial of the duocúolov.] The last, viz. the mutability of the Son, was probably not one of Arius's original propositions, but forced from him by his opponents as a necessary consequence of his doctrine. He retracts it in his letters to Eusebius and Alexander, who, on the other hand, bear; testimony to his having avowed it.

which is the designation of our Lord in Scripture; and so far he adopted a fair and unexceptionable mode of reasoning. Human relations, though the merest shadows of “heavenly things," yet would not of course be employed by Divine Wisdom without fitness, nor unless with the intention of instructing us. But what should be the exact instruction derived by us from the word Sonis another question. The Catholics (not to speak of their guidance from tradition in determining it) had taken “Sonin its most obvious meaning; as interpreted moreover by the title “ Only-begotten,and as confirmed by the general tenor of Revelation. But the Arians selected as the sense of the figure, that part of the original import of the word, which, though undeniably included in it, when referred to us, is at best what logicians call a property deduced from the essence or nature, not an element of its essential idea, and which was especially out of place, when the word was used to express a truth about the Divine Being. That a father is prior to his son, is not suggested, though it is implied, by the force of the terms, as ordinarily used ; and it is an inference altogether irrelevant, when the inquiry has reference to that Being, from our notion of whom time as well as space is necessarily excluded. It is fair, indeed, to object at the outset to the word “Father” being applied at all in its primary sense to the Supreme Being; but this was not the Arian ground, which was to argue from, not against, the metaphor employed. Nor was even this the extent of perverseness which their argument evidences. Let it be observed, that they admitted the primary sense of the word, in order to introduce a mere secondary sense, contending that, because our Lord was to be considered really as a Son, therefore in fact He was no Son at all. In the first proposition Arius assumes that He is really a Son, and argues as if He were ; in the third he has arrived at the conclusion that He was created, that is, no Son at all, except in a secondary sense, as having received from the Father a sort of adoption. An attempt was made by the Arians to smooth over their inconsistency, by adducing passages of Scripture, in which the works of God are spoken of as births, —as in the instance from Job, “ He giveth birth to the drops of dew.” But this is obviously an entirely new mode of defending their theory of a divine adoption, and does not relieve their original fault; which consisted in their arguing from an assumed analogy, which the result of that argument destroyed. For, if He be the Son of God, no otherwise than man is, that is, by adoption, what becomes of the argument from the anterior and posterior in existence ? as if the notion of adoption contained in it any necessary reference to the nature and circumstances of the two parties between whom it takes place.

8 “[Non recte faciunt, qui vim adhibent, ut sic se habeat exemplum, ut prototypum. Non enim esset jam exemplum, nisi haberet aliquid dissimile." Leont. Contr. Nest. i. p. 539, ed. Canis.]

2. Accordingly, the Arians were soon obliged to betake themselves to a more refined argument. They dropped the consideration of time, and withdrew the inference involving it, which they had drawn from the

9 [That is, an adopted son is not necessarily younger, but might be older, than the person adopting him.]

« PreviousContinue »