Page images
PDF
EPUB

most blameless life, of all the Semi-Arians'. This praise of rectitude in conduct was shared with him by Eustathius of Sebaste, and Eleusius of Cyzicus. These three Bishops especially attracted the regard of Hilary, on his banishment to Phrygia by the intrigues of the Arians (A.D. 356). The zealous Confessor feelingly laments the condition, in which he found the Churches in those parts. “I do not speak of things strange to me :” he says, “I write not without knowledge; I have heard and seen in my own person the faults, not of laics merely, but of bishops. For, excepting Eleusius and a few with him, the ten provinces of Asia, in which I am, are for the most part truly ignorant of God?” His testimony in favour of the Semi-Arians of Asia Minor, must in fairness be considered as delivered with the same force of assertion, which marks his protest against all but them; and he elsewhere addresses Basil, Eustathius, and Eleusius, by the title of “Sanctissimi viri 3.”

Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, in Syria, has obtained from the Greek Church the honours of a Saint and Martyr. He indulged, indeed, a violence of spirit, which assimilates him to the pure Arians, who were the first among Christians to employ force in the cause of religion. But violence, which endures as freely as it assails, obtains our respect, if it is denied our praise. His exertions in the cause of Christianity were attended with considerable success. In the reign of Constantius, ávailing himself of his power as a Christian Bishop, he demolished a heathen temple, and built a church on its site. When Julian succeeded, it was Mark's turn to suffer. The Enfperor had been saved by him, when a child, on the massacre of the other princes of his house; but on this occasion he considered that the claims at once of justice and of paganism outweighed the recollection of ancient services. Mark was condemned to rebuild the temple, or to pay the price of it; and, on his flight from his bishoprick, many of his flock were arrested as his hostages. Upon this, he surrendered himself to his persecutors, who immediately subjected him to the most revolting, as well as the most cruel indignities. “They apprehended the aged prelate," says Gibbon, selecting some out of the number, “ they inhumanly scourged him; they tore his beard ; and his naked body, anointed with honey, was suspended, in a net, between heaven and earth, and exposed to the stings of insects and the rays of a Syrian sun“.” The payment of one piece of gold towards the rebuilding of the temple, would have rescued him from these torments; but, resolute in his refusal to contribute to the service of idolatry, he allowed himself, with a generous insensibility, even to jest at his own sufferings 5, till he wore out the fury, or even, it is said, effected the conversion of his persecutors. Gregory Nazianzen, and Theodoret, besides celebrating his activity in making converts, make mention of his wisdom and piety, his cultivated understanding, his love of virtue, and the honourable consistency of his life .

i Theod. Hist. ii. 25.

2 Hilar. de Syn. 63. 3 Ibid. 90. Vid. also the Life of St. Basil of Cæsarea, who was inti. mate for a time with Eustathius and others.

4 Gibbon, Hist. ch. xxiii. .

5 Soz. v. 10. 6 Tillem. Mem. vol. vii. p. 340.

Cyril of Jerusalem, and Eusebius of Samosata, are both Saints in the Roman Calendar, though connected in history with the Semi-Arian party. Eusebius was the friend of St. Basil, surnamed the Great; and Cyril is still known to us in his perspicuous and eloquent discourses addressed to the Catechumens.

Others might be named of a like respectability, though deficient, with those above-mentioned, either in moral or in intellectual judgment. With these were mingled a few of a darker character. George of Laodicea, one of the genuine Eusebians, joined them for a time, and took a chief share together with Basil in the management of the Council of Ancyra. Macedonius, who was originally an Anomaan, passed through Semi-Arianism to the heresy of the Pneumatomachists, that is, the denial of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, of which he is theologically the founder.

The Semi-Arians, being such as above described, were at first both in faith and conduct an ornament and recommendation of the Eusebians. But, when once the latter stood at variance with the Latin Church by the event of the Sardican Council, they ceased to be of service to them as a blind, which was no longer available, or rather were an incumbrance to them, and formidable rivals in the favour of Constantius. The separation between the two parties was probably retarded for a while by the forced submission and recantation of the Eusebian Valens and Ursacius; but an event soon happened, which altogether released those two Bishops and

the rest of the Eusebians from the embarrassments, in which the influence of the West and the timidity of Constantius had for the moment involved them. This was the assassination of the Catholic Constans which took place a.d. 350; in consequence of which (Constantine, the eldest of the brothers, being already dead) Constantius succeeded to the undivided empire. Thus the Eusebians had the whole of the West opened to their ambition?; and were bound by no impediment, except such as the ill-instructed Semi-Arianism of the Emperor might impose upon them. Their proceedings under these fortunate circumstances will come before us presently; here I will confine myself to the mention of the artifice, by which they succeeded in recommending themselves to Constantius, while they opposed and triumphed over the Semi-Arian Creed.

This artifice, which, obvious as it is, is curious, from the place which it holds in the history of Arianism, was that of affecting on principle to limit confessions of faith to Scripture terms; and was adopted by Acacius, Bishop of Cæsarea, in Palestine, the successor of the learned Eusebius, one of the very men, who had advocated the Semi-Arian non-scriptural formularies of the Dedication and of Philippopolis S. From the earliest date, the Arians had taken refuge from the difficulties of their own unscriptural dogmas in the letter of the sacred writers ; but they had scarcely ventured on the inconsistency of objecting to the terms of theology, as such. But here Eusebius of Cæsarea anticipated the proceedings of his party; and, as he opened upon his contemporaries the evasion of Semi-Arianism, so did he also anticipate his pupil Acacius in the more specious artifice now under consideration. It is suggested in the apology which he put forth for signing the Nicene anathema of the Arian formulæ ; which anathema he defends on the principle, that these formulæ were not conceived in the language of Scripture'. Allusion is made to the same principle from time to time in the subsequent Arian Councils, as if even then the laxer Eusebians were struggling against the dogmatism of the Semi-Arians. Though the Creed of Lucian introduces the “usia," the three other Creeds of the Dedication omit it; and this hypothesis of differences of opinion in the heretical body at these Councils partly accounts for that hesitation and ambiguity in declaring their faith, which has been noticed in its place. Again, the Macrostich omits the “usia," professes generally that the Son is like in all things to the Father," and enforces the propriety of keeping to the language of Scripture?.

7 [The Eusebians, or political party, were renewed in the Acacians, immediately to be mentioned, Athanasius calling the latter the heirs of the former, Hist. Arian. S$ 19 and 28; (vid. also Ath. Tr. p. 7.) He ever distinguishes the Arians proper from the Eusebians (in his Ep. Enc. and Apol. Contr. Arian.), as afterwards the Anomeans were to be distinguished from the Acacians.]

9 Athan. de Syn. 36-38.

About the time which is at present more particularly

9 Vid. also Theod. Hist. ii. 3. [who tells us that the objection of “unscripturalness” had been suggested to Constantius by the Arian priest, the favourite of Constantia, to whom Constantine had entrusted his will. Eusebius, in his Letter about the Nicene Creed, docs scarcely more than glance at this objection.]

1 Vid. Athan. de Synod.

« PreviousContinue »