Page images
PDF
EPUB

by Facundus as Monophysites.1 Timothy the Cat, who is said to have agreed with Dioscorus and Peter the Stammerer, who signed the Henoticon, that is, with two Monophysite Patriarchs, is said nevertheless, according to Anastasius, to have maintained the extreme tenet, that “the Divinity is the sole nature in Christ.” 2 Severus, according to Anastasius, symbolized with the Phantasiasts (Eutychians), yet he is more truly, according to Leontius, the chief doctor and leader of the Monophysites. And at one time there was a union, though temporary, between the Theodosians (Monophysites) and the Gaianites.

Such a division of an heretical party, into the maintainers of a moderate and an extreme view, perspicuous and plausible on paper, yet in fact unreal, impracticable, and hopeless, was no new phenomenon in the history of the Church. As Eutyches put forward an extravagant tenet; which was first corrected into the Monophysite, and then relapsed recklessly into the doctrine of the Phantasiasts and the Theopaschites, so had Arius been superseded by the Eusebians, and had revived in Eunomius; and as the moderate Eusebians had formed the great body of the dissentients to the Nicene Council, so did the Monophysites include the mass of those who protested against Chalcedon; and as the Eusebians had been moderate in creed, yet unscrupulous in act, so were the Monophysites. And as the Eusebians were ever running individually into pure Arianism, so did the Monophysites run into pure Eutychianism. And as the Monophysites set themselves against Pope Leo, so had the Eusebians, with even less provocation, withstood and complained of Pope Julius. In like manner, the Apollinarians had divided into two sects; one, with Timotheus, going the whole length of the inferences which the tenet of their master involved, and the more cautious Fac. i. 5, circ. init.

? Hodeg. 20, p. 319.

or timid party making an unintelligible stand with Valentinus. Again, in the history of Nestorianism, though it admitted less opportunity for division of opinion, the See of Rome was with St. Cyril in one extreme, Nestorius in the other, and between them the great Eastern party, headed by John of Antioch and Theodoret, not heretical, but for a time dissatisfied with the Council of Ephesus.

The Nestorian heresy, I have said, gave less opportunity for doctrinal varieties than the heresy of Eutyches. Its spirit was rationalizing, and had the qualities which go with rationalism. When cast out of the Roman Empire, it addressed itself, as we have seen, to a new and rich field of exertion, got possession of an Established Church, co-operated with the civil government, adopted secular fashions, and, by whatever means, pushed itself out into an Empire. Apparently, though it requires a very intimate knowledge of its history to speak, except conjecturally, it was a political power rather than a dogma, and despised the science of theology. Eutychianism, on the other hand, was mystical, severe, enthusiastic; with the exception of Severus, and one or two more, it was supported by little polemical skill; it had little hold upon the intellectual Greeks of Syria and Asia Minor, but flourished in Egypt, which was far behind the East in civilization, and among the native Syrians. Nestorianism, like Arianism before it, was a cold religion, and more fitted for the schools than for the many;1 but the Monophysites carried the people with them. Like modern Jansenism, and unlike Nestorianism, the Monophysites were famous for their austerities. They have, or had, five Lents in the year, during which laity as well as clergy abstain not only from flesh and eggs, but from wine, oil, and fish.2 Monachism was a characteristic part of their ecclesiastical system : their Bishops, and Maphrian or Patriarch, were always taken from the Monks, who are even said to have worn an iron shirt or breastplate as a part of their monastic habit.1

Ti.e. in Greece: “Sanctiores aures plebis quam corda sunt sacerdotum.” S. Hil. contr. Auxent. 6. It requires some research to account for its hold on the barbarians. Vid. Supr. pp. 271, 2.

2 Gibbon, ch. 47.

Severus, Patriarch of Antioch at the end of the fifth century, has already been mentioned as an exception to the general character of the Monophysites, and, by his learning and ability, may be accounted the founder of its theology. Their cause, however, had been undertaken by the Emperors themselves before him. For the first thirty years after the Council of Chalcedon, the protesting Church of Egypt had been the scene of continued tumult and bloodshed. Dioscorus had been popular with the people for his munificence, in spite of the extreme laxity of his morals, and for a while the Imperial Government did not succeed in obtaining the election of a successor. At length Proterius, a man of fair character, and the Vicar-general of Dioscorus on his absence at Chalcedon, was chosen, consecrated, and enthroned; but the people rose against the civil authorities, and the military, coming to their defence, were attacked with stones, and pursued into a church, where they were burned alive by the mob. Next, the popular leaders prepared to intercept the supplies of grain which were destined for Constantinople; and, a defensive retaliation taking place, Alexandria was starved. Then a force of two thousand men were sent for the restoration of order, and permitted themselves in scandalous excesses towards the women of Alexandria. Proterius's life was attempted, and he was obliged to be attended by a guard. The Bishops of Egypt would not submit to him; two of his own clergy, who afterwards succeeded him, Timothy and Peter, seceded, and were joined by four or five of the Bishops and by the mass of the population ;2 and the Catholic 1 Assem. B.O. t. 2, de Monoph. circ. fin. 2 Leont. Sect. v. init.

Patriarch was left without a communion in Alexandria. He held a council, and condemned the schismatics; and the Emperor, seconding his efforts, sent them out of the country, and enforced the laws against the Eutychians. An external quiet succeeded; then Marcian died; and then forthwith Timothy the Cat made his appearance again, first in Egypt, then in Alexandria. The people rose in his favour, and carried in triumph their persecuted champion to the great Cæsarean Church, where he was consecrated Patriarch by two deprived Bishops, who had been put out of their sees, whether by a Council of Egypt or of Palestine.1 Timothy, now raised to the Episcopal rank, began to create a new succession; he ordained Bishops for the Churches of Egypt, and drove into exile those who were in possession. The Imperial troops, who had been stationed in Upper Egypt, returned to Alexandria; the mob rose again, broke into the Church, where St. Proterius was in prayer, and murdered him. A general ejectment of the Catholic clergy throughout Egypt followed. On their betaking themselves to Constantinople to the new Emperor, Timothy and his party addressed him also.. They quoted the Fathers, and demanded the abrogation of the Council of Chalcedon. Next, they demanded a conference; the Catholics said that what was once done could not be undone; they agreed, and urged it, as their very argument against Chalcedon, that it had added to the faith, and reversed former decisions. After a rule of three years, Timothy was driven out and Catholicism restored; but then in turn the Monophysites rallied, and this state of warfare and alternate success continued for thirty years.

At length the Imperial Government, wearied out with a dispute which was interminable, came to

Tillemont, t. 15, p. 784.
2 Tillemont, Mem. t. 15, pp. 790-811.

con or Pacin himself to do

that no

the conclusion that the only way of restoring peace to the Church was to abandon the Council of Chalcedon. In the year 482 was published the famous Henoticon or Pacification of Zeno, in which the Emperor took upon himself to determine a matter of faith. The Henoticon declared that no symbol of faith but that of the Nicene Creed, commonly so called, should be received in the Churches; it anathematized the opposite heresies of Nestorius and Eutyches, and it was silent on the question of the “One” or “Two Natures" after the Incarnation, This middle measure had the various effects which might be anticipated. It united the great body of the Eastern Bishops, who readily relapsed into the vague profession of doctrine from which they had been roused by the authority of St. Leo. All the Eastern Bishops signed this Imperial formulary. But this unanimity of the East was purchased by a breach with the West; the Popes cut off the communication between the two divisions of Christendom for thirty-five years. On the other hand, the more zealous Monophysites, disgusted at their leaders for accepting what they considered an unjustifiable compromise, split off from the heretical Churches, and formed a sect by themselves, which remained without Bishops (acephali) for three hundred years, when at length they were received back into the communion of the Catholic Church.

Dreary and waste was the condition of the Church, and forlorn her prospects, at the period which we have been reviewing. After the brief triumph which attended the conversion of Constantine, trouble and trial had returned upon her. Her imperial protectors were failing in power or in faith. Strange forms of evil were rising in the distance and were thronging for the conflict. There was but one spot in the whole of Christendom, one voice in the whole

« PreviousContinue »