Page images

committed to an almost Arian Confession. Soz. iv. 16, p. 562. It was finally settled on the Eve of Pentecost, and the dispute lasted till morning. Epiph. Hær. 73, 22. Mark at length was chosen to draw it up, Soz. iv. 22, p. 573, yet Valen's so managed that Basil could not sign it without an explanation. It was written in Latin, Socr. ii. 30, Soz. iv. 17, p. 563. Coustant, however, in Hil. p. 1152, note i., seems to consider this dispute and Mark's confession to belong to the same date (May 22,) in the foregoing year; but p. 1363, note b, he seems to change his opinion.

Petavius, who, Animadv. in Epiph. p. 318, follows Socrates in considering that the second Sirmian is the Confession which the Arians tried to suppress, nevertheless, de Trin. i. 9, § 8, yields to the testimony of Athanasius in behalf of the third, attributing the measure to their dissatisfaction with the phrase "Like in all things,” which Constantius had inserted, and with Basil's explanation on subscribing it, and to the hopes of publishing a bolder creed which their increasing influence with Constantius inspired. He does not think it impossible, however, that an attempt was made to suppress both. Coustant, again, in Hil. p. 1363, note b, asks when it could be that the Eusebians attempted to suppress the second Confession ; and conjectures that the ridicule which followed their dating of the third and their wish to get rid of the “ Like in all things,” were the causes of their anxiety about it. He observes too with considerable speciousness that Acacius's second formulary at Selucia (Athan. de Syn. 29), and the Confession of Nice (Ibid. 30), resemble second editions of the third Sirmian. Valesius, in Socr. ii. 30, and Montfaucon, in Athan. Syn. § 29, take the same side.

Pagi in Ann. 357. n. 13, supposes that the third Sirmian was the Creed signed by Liberius. Yet Coustant in Hil. p. 1335, note n, speaking of Liberius's “ perfidia Ariana,” as St. Hilary calls it, says, “Solus Valesius existimat tertiam [confessionem] hic memorari :” whereas Valesius, making four, not to say five, Sirmian Creeds, understands Liberius to have signed, not the third, but an intermediate one, between the second and third, as Petavius does, in Soz. iv. 15 and 16. Moreover, Pagi fixes the date as A.D. 358 ibid.

This Creed, thus drawn up by a Semi-Arian, with an Acacian or Arian appendix, then a Semi-Arian insertion, and after all a Semi-Arian protest on subscription, was proposed at Seleucia by Acacius, Soz. iv. 22, and at Ariminum by Valens, Socr. ii. 37, p. 132.

7. A.D. 359. Nicene Edition of the Third Sirmian. The third Sirmian was rejected both at Seleucia and Arimi. num ; but the Eusebians, dissolving the Council of Seleucia, kept the Fathers at Ariminum together through the summer and autumn. Meanwhile at Nice in Thrace they confirmed the third Sirmian, Socr. ii. 37, p. 141, Theod. Hist. ii. 16, with the additional proscription of the word hypostasis; apparently lest the Latins should by means of it evade the condemnation of the “consubstantial.” This Creed, thus altered, was ultimately accepted at Ariminum; and was confirmed in January 360 at Constantinople ; Socr. ii. 41, p. 163. Soz. iv. 24 init.

Liberius retrieved his fault on this occasion; for, whatever was the confession he had signed, he now refused his assent to the Ariminian, and, if Socrates is to be trusted, was banished in consequence, Socr. ii. 37, p. 140.


THE TERMS usia AND hypostasis, AS USED IN THE


(Vide supra, p. 198.)

1. EVEN before we take into account the effect which would naturally be produced on the first Christians by the novelty and mysteriousness of doctrines which depend for their reception simply upon Revelation, we have reason to anticipate that there would be difficulties and mistakes in expressing them, when they first came to be set forth by unauthoritative writers. Even in secular sciences, inaccuracy of thought and language is but gradually corrected ; that is, in proportion as their subject-matter is thoroughly scrutinized and mastered by the co-operation of many independent intellects, successively engaged upon it. Thus, for instance, the word Person requires the rejection of various popular senses, and a careful definition, before it can serve for philosophical uses. We sometimes use it for an individual as contrasted with a class or multitude, as when we speak of having “personal objections” to another; sometimes for the body, in contrast to the soul, as when we speak of “ beauty of

We sometimes use it in the abstract, as when we speak of another as “insignificant in person;" sometimes in the concrete, as when we call him “ an insignificant person." How divergent in meaning are the derivatives, personable, personalities, personify, personation, personage, parsonage! This variety arises partly from our own carelessness, partly from the necessary developments of language, partly from the exuberance of human thought, partly from the defects of our vernacular tongue.

i From the Atlantis, July, 1858.


Language then requires to be refashioned even for sciences which are based on the senses and the reason ; but much more will this be the case, when we are concerned with subject matters, of which, in our present state, we cannot possibly form any complete or consistent conception, such as the Catholic doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation. Since they are from the nature of the case above our intellectual reach, and were unknown till the preaching of Christianity, they required on their first promulgation new words, or words used in new senses, for their due enunciation ; and, since these were not definitely supplied by Scripture or by tradition, nor, for centuries, by ecclesiastical authority, variety in the use, and confusion in the apprehension of them, were unavoidable in the interval. This conclusion is necessary, admitting the premisses, antecedently to particular instances in proof.

Moreover, there is a presumption equally strong, that the variety and confusion that I have anticipated, would in matter of fact issue here or there in actual heterodoxy, as often as the language of theologians was misunderstood By hearers or readers, and deductions were made from it which the teacher did not intend. Thus, for instance, the word Person, used in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, would on first hearing suggest Tritheism to one who made the word synonymous with individual ; and Unitarianism to another, who accepted it in the classical sense of a mask or character.

Even to this day our theological language is wanting in accuracy: thus, we sometimes speak of the controversies concerning the Person of Christ, when we mean to include in them those also which belong to the two natures which are predicated of Him.

Indeed, the difficulties of forming a theological phraseology for the whole of Christendom were obviously so great, that we need not wonder at the reluctance which the first age of Catholic divines showed in attempting it, even apart from the obstacles caused by the distraction and isolation of the churches in times of persecution. Not only had the words to be adjusted and explained which were peculiar to different schools or traditional in different places, but there was the formidable necessity of creating a common measure between two, or rather three languages,-Latin, Greek, and Syriac. The intellect had to be satisfied, error had to be successfully excluded, parties the most contrary to each other, and the most obstinate, had to be convinced. The very

confidence which would be felt by Christians in general that Apostolic truth would never fail, -and that they held it in each locality themselves and the orbis terrarum with them, in spite of all verbal contrarieties,—would indispose them to define it, till definition became an imperative duty.

2. I think this plain from the nature of the case; and history confirms me in the instance of the celebrated word homoüsion, which, as one of the first and most necessary steps, so again was apparently one of the most discouraging, in the attempt to give a scientific expression to doctrine. This formula, as Athanasius, Hilary, and Basil affirm, had been disowned, as savouring of heterodoxy, by the great Council of Antioch in A.D. 264–269; yet, in spite of this disavowal on the part of Bishops of the highest authority, it was imposed on all the faithful to the end of time in the Ecumenical Council of Nicæa, A.D. 325, as the one and only safeguard, as it really is, of orthodox teaching. The misapprehensions and protests which, after such antecedents, its adoption occasioned for many years, may be easily imagined. Though above three hundred Bishops had accepted it at Nicæa, the great body of the Episcopate in the next generation considered it inexpedient; and Athanasius himself, whose imperishable name is bound up with it, showed himself most cautious in putting it forward, though he knew it had the sanction of a General Council. Moreover, the word does not occur in the Catecheses of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, A.D. 347, nor in the recantation made before Pope Julius by

« PreviousContinue »