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of a Council of the whole Church with the same purpose, referring it to Athanasius to select a place of meeting, where his cause might be secure of a more impartial hearing, than it had met with at Cæsarea and Tyre.
The Eusebians, on the other hand, perceiving the danger which their interests would sustain, should a Council be held at any distance from their own peculiar territory, determined on anticipating the projected Council by one of their own, in which they might both confirm the sentence of deposition against Athanasius, and, if possible, contrive a confession of faith, to allay the suspicions which the Occidentals entertained of their orthodoxy'. This was the occasion of the Council of the Dedication, as it is called, held by them at Antioch, in the year 341, and which is one of the most celebrated Councils of the century. It was usual to solemnize the consecration of places of worship, by an attendance of the principal prelates of the neighbouring districts; and the great Church of the Metropolis of Syria, called the Dominicum Aureum, which had just been built, afforded both the pretext and the name to their assembly. Between ninety and a hundred bishops came together on this occasion, all Arians or Arianizers, and agreed without difficulty upon the immediate object of the Council, the ratification of the Synods of Cæsarea and Tyre in condemnation of Athanasius.
So far their undertaking was in their own hands;
9 [“ After the Nicene Council, the Eusebians did not dare avow their heresy in Constantine's time, but merely attempted the banishment of Athanasius, and the restoration of Arius. Their first Council was A.D. 341, four years after Constantine's death and Constantius's accession.” -Ath. Tr. p. 30, m.]
but a more difficult task remained behind, viz. to gain the approval and consent of the Western Church, by an exposition of the articles of their faith. Not intending to bind themselves by the decision at Nicæa, they had to find some substitute for the Homoüsion. With this view four, or even five creeds, more or less resembling the Nicene in language, were successively adopted. The first was that ascribed to the martyr Lucian, though doubts are entertained concerning its genuineness. It is in itself almost unexceptionable; and, had there been no controversies on the subjects contained in it, would have been a satisfactory evidence of the orthodoxy of its promulgators. The Son is therein styled the exact Image of the substance, will, power, and glory of the Father; and the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity are said to be three in substance, one in will”. An evasive condemnation was added of the Arian tenets; sufficient, as it might seem, to delude the Latins, who were unskilled in the subtleties of the question. For instance, it was denied that our Lord was born“ in time,” but in the heretical school, as was shown above, time was supposed to commence with the creation of the world; and it was denied that He was "in the number of the creatures,” it being their doctrine, that He was the sole immediate work of God, and, as such, not like others, but separate from the whole creation, of which indeed He was the author. Next, for some or other reason, two new creeds were proposed, and partially adopted by the Council; the same in character of doctrine, but
1 Exact image, απαράλλακτος εικών; substance, ουσία και εubsistence, Or person, υπόστασις.
shorter. These three were all circulated, and more or less received in the neighbouring Churches ; but, on consideration, none of them seemed adequate to the object in view, that of recommending the Eusebians to the distant Churches of the West. Accordingly, a fourth formulary was drawn up after a few months' delay, among others by Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, a Semi-Arian Bishop of religious character, afterwards to be mentioned ; its composers were deputed to present it to Constans; and, this creed proving unsatisfactory, a fifth confession was drawn
with considerable care and ability; though it too failed to quiet the suspicions of the Latins. This last is called the Macrostich, from the number of its paragraphs, and did not make its appearance till three years after the former.
In truth, no such exposition of the Catholic faith could satisfy the Western Christians, while they were witnesses to the exile of its great champion on account of his fidelity to it. Here the Eusebians were wanting in their usual practical shrewdness. Words, however orthodox, could not weigh against so plain a fact. The Occidentals, however unskilled in the niceties of the Greek language, were able to ascertain the heresy of the Eusebians in their malevolence towards Athanasius. Nay, the anxious attempts of his enemies, to please them by means of a confession of faith, were a refutation of their pretences. For, inasmuch as the sense of the Catholic world, had already been recorded in the Homoüsion, why should they devise a new formulary, if after all they agreed with the Church ? or, why should they themselves be so fertile in confessions, if they had all of them but one faith? It is brought against them by Athanasius, that in their creeds they date their exposition of the Catholic doctrine, as if it were something new, instead simply of its being declared, which was the sole design of the Nicene Fathers; while at other times, they affected to acknowledge the authority of former Councils, which nevertheless they were indirectly opposing?. Under these circumstances the Roman Church, as the representative of the Latins, only became more bent upon the convocation of a General Council in which the Nicene Creed might be ratified, and any innovation upon it reprobated; and the innocence of Athanasius, which it had already ascertained in its provincial Synod, might be formally proved, and proclaimed to the whole of Christendom. This object was at length accomplished. Constans, whom Athanasius had visited and gained, successfully exerted his influence with his brother Constantius, the Emperor of the East; and a Council of the whole Christian world was summoned at Sardica for the above purposes, the exculpation of Marcellus and others being included with that of Athanasius.
Sardica was chosen as the place of meeting, as lying on the confines of the two divisions of the Empire. It is on the borders of Moesia, Thrace, and Illyricum, and at the foot of Mount Hæmus, which separates it from Philippopolis. There the heads of the Christian world assembled in the year 347, twenty-two years after the Nicene Council, in number above 380 bishops, of whom seventy-six were Arian. The President of the Council was the venerable Hosius; whose name was in itself a
2 Athan. de Syn. 3. 37.
pledge, that the decision of Nicæa was simply to be preserved, and no fresh question raised on a subject already exhausted by controversy. But, almost before the opening of the Council, matters were brought to a crisis; a schism took place in its members; the Arians retreated to Philippopolis, and there excommunicated the leaders of the orthodox, Julius of Rome, Hosius, and Protogenes of Sardica, issued a sixth confession of faith, and confirmed the proceedings of the Antiochene Council against Athanasius and the other exiles.
This secession of the Arians arose in consequence of their finding, that Athanasius was allowed a seat in the Council; the discussions of which they refused to attend, while a Bishop took part in them, who had already been deposed by Synods of the East. The orthodox replied, that a later Council, held at Rome, had fully acquitted and restored him; moreover, that to maintain his guilt was but to assume the principal point, which they were then assembled to debate; and, though very consistent with their absenting themselves from the Council altogether, could not be permitted to those, who had by their coming recognized the object, for which it was called. Accordingly, without being moved by their retreat, the Council proceeded to the condemnation of some of the more notorious opponents among them of the Creed of Nicæa, examined the charges against Athanasius and the rest, reviewed the acts of the investigations at Tyre and the Mareotis, which the Eusebians had sent to Rome in their defence, and confirmed the decree of the Council of Rome, in favour of the accused. Constans enforced this decision on his brother