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SCHOOLS AND PARTIES IN AND ABOUT THE ANTE-NICENE
CHURCH, CONSIDERED IN THEIR RELATION TO THE
THE CHURCH OF ANTIOCH.
It is proposed in the following pages to trace the outlines of the history of Arianism, between the first and the second General Councils. These are its natural chronological limits, whether by Arianism we mean a heresy or a party in the Church. In the Council held at Nicæa, in Bithynia, A.D. 325, it was formally detected and condemned. In the subsequent years it ran its course, through various modifications of opinion, and with various success, till the date of the second General Council, held A.D. 381, at Constantinople, when the resources of heretical subtilty being at length exhausted, the Arian party was ejected from the Catholic body, and formed into a distinct sect, exterior to it. It is during this period, while it still maintained its hold upon the creeds and the government of the Church, that
it especially invites the attention of the student in ecclesiastical history. Afterwards, Arianism presents nothing new in its doctrine, and is only remarkable as becoming the animating principle of a second series of persecutions, when the barbarians of the North, who were infected with it, possessed themselves of the provinces of the Roman Empire.
The line of history which is thus limited by the two first Ecumenical Councils, will be found to pass through a variety of others, provincial and patriarchal, which form easy and intelligible breaks in it, and present the heretical doctrine in the various stages of its impiety. These, accordingly, shall be taken as cardinal points for our narrative to rest upon ;-and it will matter little in the result, whether it be called a history of the Councils, or of Arianism, between the eras already marked out.
However, it is necessary to direct the reader's attention in the first place, to the state of parties and schools, in and about the Church, at the time of its rise, and to the sacred doctrine which it assailed, in order to obtain a due insight into the history of the controversy ; and the discussions which these subjects involve, will occupy a considerable portion of the volume. I shall address myself without delay to this work; and, in this chapter, propose first to observe upon the connexion of Arianism with the Church of Antioch, and upon the state and genius of that Church in primitive times. This shall be the subject of the present section: in those which follow, I shall consider its relation towards the heathen philosophies and heresies then prevalent; and towards the Church of Alexandria, to which, though with very little show of reasoning, it is often referred. The consideration of the doctrine of the Trinity shall form the second chapter.
During the third century, the Church of Antioch was more or less acknowledged as the metropolis of Syria, Cilicia, Phænicia, Comagene, Osrhoene, and Mesopotamia, in which provinces it afterwards held patriarchal sway'. It had been the original centre of Apostolical 'missions among the heathen” ; and claimed St. Peter himself for its first bishop, who had been succeeded by Ignatius, Theophilus, Babylas, and others of sacred memory in the universal Church, as champions and martyrs of the faith. The secular importance of the city added to the influence which accrued to it from the religious associations thus connected with its name, especially when the emperors made Syria the seat of their government. This ancient and celebrated Church, however, is painfully conspicuous in the middle of the century, as affording so open a manifestation of the spirit of Antichrist, as to fulfil almost literally the prophecy of the Apostle in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians*. Paulus, of Samosata, who was raised to the see of Antioch not many years after the martyrdom of Babylas, after holding the episcopate for ten years, was deposed by a Council of eastern bishops, held in that city A.D. 272, on the ground of his heretical notions concerning the nature of Christ. His original
1 Bingham, Antiq. ix. 1.
2 Acts xi., xiii., xiy.
calling seems to have been that of a sophist“; how he obtained admittance into the clerical order is unknown; his elevation, or at least his continuance in the see, he owed to the celebrated Zenobia', to whom his literary attainments, and his political talents, may be supposed to have recommended him. Whatever were the personal virtues of the Queen of the East, who is said to have been a Jewess by birth or creed, it is not surprising that she was little solicitous for the credit or influence of the Christian Church within her dominions. The character of Paulus is consigned to history in the Synodal Letter of the bishops, written at the time of his condemnation’; which, being circulated through the Church, might fairly be trusted, even though the high names of Gregory of Neocæsarea and Firmilian were not found in the number of his judges. He is therein charged with a rapacity, an arrogance, a vulgar ostentation and desire of popularity, an extraordinary profaneness, and a profligacy, which cannot but reflect seriously upon the Church and clergy which elected, and so long endured him. As to his heresy, it is difficult to determine what were his precise sentiments concerning the Person of Christ, though they were certainly derogatory of the doctrine of His absolute divinity and eternal existence. Indeed, it is probable that he had not any clear view on the solemn subject on which he allowed himself to speculate ; nor had any wish to make proselytes, and form a party in the Church. Ancient writers inform us that his heresy was a kind of Judaism in doctrine, adopted to please his Jewish patronesso; and, if originating in this motive, it was not likely to be very systematic or profound. His habits, too, as a sophist, would dispose him to employ himself in attacks upon the Catholic doctrine, and in irregular discussion, rather than in the sincere effort to obtain some definite conclusions, to satisfy his own mind or convince others. And the supercilious spirit, which the Synodal letter describes as leading him to express contempt for the divines who preceded him at Antioch, would naturally occasion incaution in his theories, and a carelessness about guarding them from inconsistencies, even where he perceived them. Indeed, the Primate of Syria had already obtained the highest post to which ambition could aspire, and had nothing to labour for; and having, as we find, additional engagements as a civil magistrate, he would still less be likely to covet the barren honours of an heresiarch. A sect, it is true, was formed upon his tenets, and called after his name, and has a place in ecclesiastical history till the middle of the fifth century; but it never was a considerable body, and even as early as the date of the Nicene Council had split into parties, differing by various shades of heresy from the orthodox
5 Mosheim, de Reb. ante Constant. sæc. iii. $ 35.
6 He was raised to the episcopate at the commencement of Odenatus's successes against Sapor (Tillemont, Mem. vol. iv. Chronol.). In the years which followed, he held a civil magistracy with his ecclesiastical dignity; in the temporalities of which, moreover, he was upheld by Zenobia, some years after his formal deposition by the neighbouring bishops. (Basnag. Annal. A.D. 269, § 6.)
7 Euseb. Hist. vii. 30.