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In the mean while, a Council had been held at Aquileia of the bishops of the north of Italy, with a view of inquiring into the faith of two Bishops of Dacia, accused of Arianism. During its session, news was brought of the determination of the Constantinopolitan Fathers to appoint a successor to Meletius; and, surprised both by the unexpected continuation of the schism, and by the slight put on themselves, they petitioned Theodosius to permit a general Council to be convoked at Alexandria, which the delegates of the Latin Church might attend. Some dissatisfaction, moreover, was felt for a time at the appointment of Nectarius, in the place of Maximus, whom they had originally recognized. They changed their petition shortly after, and expressed a wish that a Council should be held at Rome.
These letters from the West were submitted to the Council of Constantinople, at its second, or, (as some say,) third sitting, A.D. 382 or 383, at which Nectarius presided. An answer was returned to the Latins, declining to repair to Rome, on the ground of the inconvenience, which would arise from the absence of the Eastern bishops from their dioceses; the Creed and other doctrinal statements of the Council were sent them, and the promotion of Nectarius and Flavian was maintained to be agreeable to the Nicene Canons, which determined, that the Bishops of a province had the right of consecrating such of their brethren, as were chosen by the people and clergy, without the interposition of foreign Churches; an exhortation to follow peace was added, and to prefer the edification of the whole body of
Christians, to personal attachments and the interests of individuals.
Thus ended the second General Council. As to the addition made by it to the Nicene Creed, it is conceived in the temperate spirit, which might be expected from those men, who took the more active share in its doctrinal discussions. The ambitious and tumultuous part of the assembly seems to have been weary of the controversy, and to have left its settlement to the more experienced and serious-minded of their body. The Creed of Constantinople is said to be the composition of Gregory Nyssen.
From the date of this Council, Arianism was formed into a sect exterior to the Catholic Church; and, taking refuge among the Barbarian Invaders of the Empire, is merged among those external enemies of Christianity, whose history cannot be regarded as strictly ecclesiastical. Such is the general course of religious error; which rises within the sacred precincts, but in vain endeavours to take root in a soil uncongenial to it. The domination of heresy, however prolonged, is but one stage in its existence; it ever hastens to an end, and that end is the triumph of the Truth. “I myself have seen the ungodly in great power,” says the Psalmist, “and flourishing like a green bay tree; I went by, and lo, he was gone; I sought him, but his place could nowhere be found.” And so of the present perils, with which our branch of the Church is beset, as they bear a marked resemblance to those of the fourth century, so are the lessons, which we gain from that ancient time, especially cheering and edifying to Christians of the present day. Then as now, there was the prospect, and partly the presence in the Church, of an Heretical Power enthralling it, exerting a varied influence and a usurped claim in the appointment of her functionaries, and interfering with the management of her internal affairs. Now as then, “whosoever shall fall upon this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” Meanwhile, we may take comfort in reflecting, that, though the present tyranny has more of insult, it has hitherto had less of scandal, than attended the ascendancy of Arianism ; we may rejoice in the piety, prudence, and varied graces of our Spiritual Rulers; and may rest in the confidence, that, should the hand of Satan press us sore, our Athanasius and Basil will be given us in their destined season, to break the bonds of the Oppressor, and let the captives go free.
5 Whether or not the Macedonians explicitly denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit, is uncertain; but they viewed Him as essentially separate from, and external to, the One Indivisible Godhead. Accordingly, the Creed (which is that since incorporated into the public services of the Church), without declaring more than the occasion required, closes all speculations concerning the incomprehensible subject, by simply con. fessing His unity with the Father and Son. It declares, moreover, that He is the Lord (kúpios) or Sovereign Spirit, because the heretics considered Him to be but a minister of God; and the supreme Giver of life, because they considered Him a mere instrument, by whom we received the gift. The last clause of the second paragraph in the Crced, is directed against the heresy of Marcellus of Aucyra.
The original Creed of Nicæa, as contained in Socr.
Hist. i. 8.
Πιστεύομεν εις ένα θεόν, πατέρα παντοκράτορα, πάντων ορατών τε και αοράτων ποιητήν.
Και εις ένα κύριον Ιησούν Χριστόν, τον υιόν του θεού γεννηθέντα εκ του πατρός μονογενή τούτ' έστιν εκ της ουσίας του πατρός, θεόν εκ θεού και φως εκ φωτός, θεόν αληθινόν εκ θεού αληθινού γεννηθέντα ου ποιηθέντα, όμοούσιον τω πατρί δι' ου τα πάντα εγένετο, τά τε εν τω ουρανό και τα εν τη γή. Δι' ημάς τους ανθρώπους και διά την ημετέραν σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα, και σαρκωθέντα, και ενανθρωπήσαντα παθόντα, και αναστάντα τη τρίτη ημέρα, ανελθόντα εις τους ουρανούς, ερχόμενον κρίναι ζώντας και νεκρούς.
Και εις το άγιον πνεύμα.
Τους δε λέγοντας, ότι ήν ποτέ ότε ουκ ήν και πριν γεννηθήναι ουκ ήν και ότι εξ ουκ όντων εγένετο ή έξ ετέρας υποστάσεως ή ουσίας φάσκοντας είναι: ή κτιστον, ή τρεπτόν, ή αλλοιωτόν τον υιόν του θεού αναθεματίζει η αγία καθολική και αποστολική εκκλησία.