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service. This distinguished writer, to whom the Christian world has so great a debt at the present day, though not characterized by the unprincipled ambition of his namesake, is unhappily connected in history with the Arian party. He seems to have had the faults and the virtues of the mere man of letters: strongly excited neither to good nor to evil, and careless at once of the cause of truth and the prizes of secular greatness, in comparison of the comforts and decencies of literary ease. His first master was Dorotheus of Antioch '; afterwards he became a pupil of the School of Cæsarea, which seems to have been his birth-place, and where Origen had taught. Here he studied the works of that great master, and the other writers of the Alexandrian school. It does not appear when he first began to arianize. At Cæsarea he is celebrated as the friend of the Orthodox Pamphilus, afterwards martyred, whom he assisted in his defence of Origen, in answer to the charges of heterodoxy then in circulation against him. The first book of this work is still extant in the Latin translation of Ruffinus, and its statements of the Catholic doctrines are altogether explicit and accurate. In his own writings, numerous as they are, there is very little which fixes on Eusebius any charge, beyond that of an attachment to the Platonic phraseology. Had he not connected himself with the Arian party, it would have been unjust to have suspected him of heresy. But his acts are his confession. He openly sided with those whose blasphemies a true Christian would have abhorred; and he sanctioned and shared their deeds of violence and injustice perpetrated on the Catholics.
s Danz. de Eus. Cæsar. 22.
But it is a different reason which has led to the mention of Eusebius in this connexion. The grave accusation under which he lies, is not that of arianizing, but of corrupting the simplicity of the Gospel with an Eclectic spirit. While he held out the ambiguous language of the schools as a refuge, and the Alexandrian imitation of it as an argument, against the pursuit of the orthodox, his conduct gave countenance to the secular maxim, that difference in creeds is a matter of inferior moment, and that, provided we confess as far as the very terms of Scripture, we may speculate as philosophers, and live as the world". A more dangerous adviser Constantine could hardly have selected, than a man thus variously gifted, thus exalted in the Church, thus disposed towards the very errors against which he required especially to be guarded. The remark has been made that, throughout his Ecclesiastical History no instance occurs of his expressing abhorrence of the superstitions of paganism, and that his custom is either to praise, or not to blame, such heretical writers as fall under his notice.
Nor must the influence of the Court pass unnoticed, in recounting the means by which Arianism secured a hold over the mind of the Emperor. Constantia, his favourite sister, was the original patroness of Eusebius of Nicomedia ; and thus a princess, whose name would otherwise be dignified by her misfortunes, is known to Christians of later times only as a principal instrument of the success of heresy. Wrought upon by a presbyter, a creature of the bishop's, who was in her confidence, she summoned Constantine to her bed-side in her last illness, begged him, as her parting request, to extend his favour to the Arians, and especially commended to his regard the presbyter himself, who had stimulated her to this experiment on the feelings of a brother. The hangers-on of the Imperial Court imitated her in her preference for the polite and smooth demeanour of the Eusebian prelates, which was advantageously contrasted to the stern simplicity of the Catholics. The eunuchs and slaves of the palace (strange to say) embraced the tenets of Arianism; and all the most light-minded and frivolous of mankind allowed themselves to pervert the solemn subject in controversy into matter for fashionable conversation or literary amusement.
4 In this association of the Eusebian with the Eclectic temper, it must not be forgotten, that Julian the Apostate was the pupil of Eusebius of Nicomedia, his kinsman ; that he took part with the Arians against the Catholics; and that, in one of his extant epistles, he speaks in praise of the writings of an Arian Bishop, George of Laodicea. Vide Weisman, sec. iv. 35. § 12.
5 Kestner de Euseb. Auctor. prolegom. § 17. Yet it must be confessed, he is strongly opposed to gontela in all its forms; i.e. as being unworthy a philosopher.
The arts of flattery completed the triumph of the heretical party. So many are the temptations to which monarchs are exposed of forgetting that they are men, that it is obviously the duty of the Episcopal Order to remind them that there is a visible Power in the world, divinely founded and protected, superior to their own. But Eusebius places himself at the feet of a heathen; and forgetful of his own ordination-grace, allows the Emperor to style himself “the bishop of Paganism,"
and “the predestined Apostle of virtue to all men.” The shrine of the Church was thrown open to his inspection; and, contrary to the spirit of Christianity, its mysteries were officiously explained to one who was not yet even a candidate for baptism. The restoration and erection of Churches, which is the honourable distinction of his reign, assimilated him, in the minds of his courtiers, to the Divine Founder and Priest of the invisible temple; and the magnificence, which soothed the vanity of a monarch, seemed in its charitable uses almost a substitute for personal religion?.
While events thus gradually worked for the secular advancement of the heretical party, the Catholics were allotted gratifications and anxieties of a higher character. The proceedings of the Council had detected the paucity of the Arians among the Rulers of the Church ; which had been the more clearly ascertained, inasmuch as no temporal interests had operated to gain for the orthodox cause that vast preponderance of advocates which it had actually obtained. Moreover, it had confirmed by the combined evidence of the universal Church, the argument from Scripture and local tradition, which each separate Christian community already possessed. And there was a satisfaction in having found a formula adequate to the preservation of the all-important article in controversy in all its purity. On the other hand, in spite of these immediate causes of congratulation, the
6 Euseb. Vit. Const. iii. 58. iv. 24. Vide also i. 4. 24.
Council. 273 fortunes of the Church were clouded in prospect, by the Emperor's adoption of its Creed as a formula of peace, not of belief, and by the ready subscription of the unprincipled faction, which had previously objected to it. This immediate failure, which not unfrequently attends beneficial measures in their commencement, issued, as has been said, in the temporary triumph of the Arians. The disease, which had called for the Council, instead of being expelled from the system, was thrown back upon the Church, and for a time afflicted it ; nor was it cast out, except by the persevering fasting and prayer, the labours and sufferings, of the oppressed believers. Meanwhile, the Catholic prelates could but retire from the Court party, and carefully watch its movements; and, in consequence, incurred the reproach and the penalty of being “ troublers of Israel.” This may be illustrated from the subsequent history of Arius himself, with which this Chapter shall close.
It is doubtful, whether or not Arius was persuaded to sign the symbol at the Nicene Council; but at least he professed to receive it about five years afterwards. At this time Eusebius of Nicomedia had been restored to the favour of Constantine ; who, on the other hand, influenced by his sister, had become less zealous in his adherence to the orthodox side of the controversy. An attempt was made by the friends of Arius to effect his re-admission into the Church at Alexandria. The great Athanasius was at this time Primate of Egypt; and in his instance the question was tried, whether or not the Church would adopt the secular principles, to which the
8 Theod. Hist. i. 6. fin.