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Order, which, whether or not united to the civil power, must, to the end of time, divide the rule with Cæsar as the minister of God. Considering then Athanasius too great for a subject, Constantius, as if for the peace of his empire, desired his destruction at any rate?. Whether he was unfortunate or culpable it mattered not; whether implicated in legal guilt, or forced by circumstances into his present position; still he was the fit victim of a sort of ecclesiastical ostracism, which, accordingly, he called upon the Church to inflict. He demanded it of the Church, for the very eminence of Athanasius rendered it unsafe, even for the Emperor, to approach him in any other way. The Patriarch of Alexandria could not be deposed, except after a series of successes over less powerful Catholics, and with the forced acquiescence or countenance of the principle Christian communities. And thus the history of the first few years of the persecution, presents to us the curious spectacle of a party warfare raging everywhere, except in the neighbourhood of the person who was the real object of it, and who was left for a time to continue the work of God at Alexandria, unmolested by the Councils, conferences, and usurpations, which perplexed the other capitals of Christendom.
As regards the majority of Bishops who were called upon to condemn him, there was, it would appear, little room for error of judgment, if they dealt honestly with their consciences. Yet, in the West, there were those, doubtless, who hardly knew enough of him to give him their confidence, or who had no means of forming a true
. 1 Gibbon, Hist. ch. xxi.
opinion of the fresh charges to which he was subjected. Those, which were originally urged against him, have already been stated; the new allegations were as follows: that he had excited differences between Constantius and his brother; that he had corresponded with Magnentius, the usurper of the West; that he had dedicated, or used, a new Church in Alexandria without the Emperor's leave; and lastly, that he had not obeyed his mandate summoning him to Italy.—Now to review some of the prominent passages in the persecution :
Paul had succeeded Alexander in the See of Constantinople, A.D. 336. At the date before us (A.D. 350), he had already been thrice driven from his Church by the intrigues of the Arians; Pontus, Gaul, and Mesopotamia, being successively the places of his exile. He had now been two years restored, when he was called a fourth time, not merely to exile, but to martyrdom. By authority of the Emperor, he was conveyed from Constantinople to Cucusus in Cappadocia, a dreary town amid the deserts of the Taurus, afterwards the place of banishment of his successor St. Chrysostom. Here he was left for six days without food ; when his conductors impatiently anticipated the termination of his sufferings by strangling him in prison. Macedonius, the SemiArian, took possession of the vacant see, and maintained his power by the most savage excesses. The confiscation of property, banishment, brandings, torture, and death, were the means of his accomplishing in the Church of Constantinople, a conformity with the tenets of heresy.
The Novatians, as maintaining the Homoüsion, were included in the persecution. On their refusing to communicate with him, they were seized and scourged, and the sacred elements violently thrust into their mouths. Women and children were forcibly baptized; and, on the former resisting, they were subjected to cruelties too miserable to be described.
The sufferings of the Church of Hadrianople occurred about the same time, or even earlier. Under the superintendence of a civil officer, who had already acted as the tool of the Eusebians in the Mareotis, several of the clergy were beheaded; Lucius, their Bishop, for the second time loaded with chains and sent into exile, where he died; and three other Bishops of the neighbourhood visited by an Imperial edict, which banished them, at the peril of their lives, from all parts of the Empire.
Continuing their operations westward, the Arians next possessed themselves of the province of Sirmium in Pannonia, in which the dioceses of Valens and Ursacius were situated. These Bishops, on the death of Constans, had relapsed into the heresy of his brother, who was now master of the whole Roman world; and from that time they may be accounted as the leaders of the Eusebian party, especially in the West. The Church of Sirmium was opened to their assaults under the following circumstances. It had always been the policy of the Arians to maintain that the Homoüsion involved some or other heresy by necessary consequence. A Valentinian or a Manichean materialism was sometimes ascribed to the orthodox doctrine; and at another time, Sabellianism, which was especially hateful to the Semi-Arians. And it happened, most unhappily for the Church, that one of the most strenuous of her champions at Nicæa, had since fallen into a heresy of a Sabellian character; and had thus confirmed the prejudice against the true doctrine, by what might be taken to stand as an instance of its dangerous tendency. In the course of a work in refutation of the Sophist Asterius, one of the first professed Semi-Arians, Marcellus, Bishop of Ancyra, was led to simplify (as he conceived) the creed of the Church, by statements which savoured of Sabellianism; that is, he maintained the unity of the Son with the Father, at the expense of the doctrine of the personal distinction between the Two. He was answered, not only by Asterius himself, but by Eusebius of Cæsarea and Acacius; and, A.D. 335, he was deposed from his see by the Eusebians, in order to make way for the Semi-Arian Basil. In spite of the suspicions against him, the orthodox party defended him for a considerable time, and the Council of Sardica (A.D. 347) acquitted him and restored him to his see; but at length, perhaps on account of the increasing definiteness of his heretical views, he was abandoned by his friends as hopeless, even by Athanasius, who quietly put him aside with the acquiescence of Marcellus himself. But the evil did not end there; his disciple Photinus, Bishop of Sirmium, increased the scandal, by advocating, and with greater boldness, an almost Unitarian doctrine. The Eusebians did not neglect the opportunity thus
offered them, both to calumniate the Catholic teaching, and to seize on so considerable a see, which its present occupier had disgraced by his heresy. They held a Council at Sirmium (A.D. 351), to inquire into his opinions; and at his request a formal disputation was held. Basil, the rival of Marcellus, was selected to be the antagonist of his pupil; and having the easier position to defend, gained the victory in the judgment of impartial arbiters, who had been selected. The deposition of Photinus followed, and an Arian, Germinius, placed in his see. Also a new creed was promulgated of a structure between Homæusian and Homean, being the first of three which are dated from Sirmium. Germinius some years afterwards adopted a Semi-Arianism bordering upon the Catholic doctrine, and that at a time when it may be hoped that secular views did not influence his change.
The first open attack upon Athanasius and the independence of the West, was made two years later at Arles, at that time the residence of the Court. There the Emperor held a Council, with the intention of committing the Bishops of the West to an overt act against the Alexandrian Prelate. It was attended by the deputies of Liberius, the new Bishop of Rome, whom the Eusebian party had already addressed, hoping to find him more tractable than his predecessor Julius. Liberius, however, had been decided in Athanasius's favour by the Letter of an Egyptian Council; and, in order to evade the Emperor's overtures, he addressed to him a submis