Images de page
PDF
ePub

2

OVK ÖVTOV, and others, were condemned.' And Sozomen adds, that his Thalia shared the same fate, and that he himself was prohibited from entering Alexandria. Lastly, Constantine, in a letter to the Bishops and people of the Churches, caused Arius himself to be named after the heathen and arch enemy of the Christians, Porphyry; and his followers to be called Porphyrians. He also commanded that his books should be burnt under pain of death. The Council then proceeded to draw up its creed, which is that we still use, except that for the last division, which was afterwards added at the Council of Constantinople, there originally stood the words, 'But those 'who say that there was a time when He was not, and before 'His Generation He was not, and He was formed out of 'nothing, or that He was of another essence or hypostasis, or that the Son of God is created, or is changeable, or is muta'ble, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes." The doctrinal questions necessary to be alluded to in a mention of the Creed, are three :-firstly, the history and meaning of the term oμoovoios; secondly, the doctrines intended to be forbidden by the Council in their Anathem of the expression Before His Generation He was not;' and, thirdly, 'He is of another essence or hypostasis.'

1. We can only consider the history of the term óμoovolos here, its doctrinal meaning we must reserve to a later part of our article; the only objection to this term, derivable from the prior history of the Church, is found in the supposed fact of its having been rejected by the Council held at Antioch in the year 265, against Paul, the heretical Bishop of that See. Granting-what, however, is by no means certain that the Council did reject this term, it was so treated, as S. Athanasius tells us, from its true meaning having been misunderstood, in that it was supposed to involve the idea that the Divine Essence was material, and therefore in the Generation of the Son underwent division. The words of S. Athanasius are as follows, They 'who deposed the Samosatene, took One in substance in a bodily sense, because Paul had attempted sophistry, and said, "Unless Christ has of man become God, it follows that He 'is One in substance with the Father; and if so, of necessity there are three substances, one the previous substance, and the other two from it;" and therefore, guarding against this, 'they said, with good reason, that Christ was not One in substance.'"

[ocr errors]

1 Socrates, i. 9.

[blocks in formation]

4 S. Athanasius, De Decret. Syn. Nic. § 4; Soc. i. 8; Theodoret, i. 12, who omits the word 'created.'

5 Oxford translation of S. Athanasius's Treatises, vol. viii. p. 143.

Dr. Newman thinks that Paul urged the Council with this dilemma, that the term was either to be taken in a material or in a spiritual sense: the former would make the Son a part of the Father, which was Manicheism; and the latter, as teaching that there was one only Individual, would of course involve the heresy of Sabellius; on which the Fathers of the Council, unable, as we learn from Eusebius, to reply to the sophistries of Paul, forbade the term. Be this as it may, Eusebius of Cæsarea himself acknowledges in his letter, that the word had been formerly used by some learned and illustrious Bishops and writers among the ancients, in their theological teaching about the Father and the Son.

21

2. The meaning of the Council in their anathema of the words 'Before His Generation He was not,' has been so thoroughly examined by Dr. Newman in his dissertation on the subject, in the first volume of the translation of S. Athanasius's Treatises against the Arians, that in truth nothing more remains to be said. It is well known that the Arians employed the Sonship of Christ to destroy his Godhead, arguing that if He were a Son, He must have had a beginning of existence, before which He was not; i. e. He must have been a creature; and their formula, 'before He was begotten He was not,' is, to use Dr. Newman's words, an argument ex absurdo, drawn from the force of the word Son, in behalf of the Arian doctrine; it being, as they 'would say, a truism, that, "whereas He was begotten, He was not before He was begotten," and the denial of it a contradic'tion in terms.' To this the Council replied, not by refuting the Arians, nor by explaining the manner of the Catholic doctrine of the Son's co-eternity, for this is ineffable; but by refusing to entertain a conclusion which is inapplicable to its subject. In like manner S. Athanasius and others urge that the argument by analogy, drawn from the generation of creatures, cannot apply to the Creator. S. Gregory Nazianzen, and S. Hilary, as Dr. Newman says, 'both decide that it is not 'true either that the Son, was before His Generation, or that 'He was not; in other words, that the question is unmeaning and irrelevant.'-(P. 276.) And there is this further meaning in the anathema of the Council, although it is not stated in words, that it is not to be held, as the Arians did hold, that the Son was Generated only at the period immediately preceding that of the Creation. Thus the Council rejects both the Arian fact of the Son, as such, having had a beginning of existence, and the time of that beginning;-but they confine their opposition to the former assertion, because that alone, as being intrinsically the more important, was brought prominently

1S. Athanasius's Treatises, Oxford translation, vol. viii. p. 273.

forward by its authors. Grant them the question of fact, and that of time is of little moment, and follows of necessity.

3. The question of the ovoía and vπóσтaσis is also one of weight, because, if the Council meant to deny the latter word in the sense which it was ruled to bear in the Council of Alexandria, A. D. 362, as meaning Person, and therefore to teach that the Son has no Personality distinct from the Father, it was plainly guilty of Sabellianism. But this is both incredible and impossible. The word in question has borne two chief senses in theology; one before the Council of Alexandria, and the other after it. In the former it was occasionally used in a sense synonymous with ovoia, and signified essence or substance; in the latter it has a signification equivalent to that of πрóσwжоv, as used by the earlier theologians, and to this its use was henceforth confined. Now, as it never bore any other than these meanings, and as it is plain from the nature of the case, that the Council of Nice could not have used it in their anathema in the former, we have something more than a mere prior probability that it did use it in the latter.

This, Dr. Newman has in fact converted into something little short of positive certainty. In a dissertation previous to that on the words 'before His Generation He was not,' he has shown that the word úróσTaσis was used by the Westerns to express substance or essence, as ovcía by the Easterns; and that the Council, of which Hosius, a Western, was president, introduced it to convey to that branch of the Church the same idea as was suggested by ovcía to the Easterns.

In taking leave of Nicea and its creed, we will only observe further, that besides the oμoovoios, which includes everything in itself, the Council in this anathema has taught the pure and perfect Godhead of the Son in every manner possible; insisting that He is from Eternity; that He is not from matter which was created, but from the one Essence or Substance of the Father; and, as a result of the Divinity which follows from such essential Oneness, He is not of His own nature subject to the infirmities of mere creatures.

As it is our object to offer an account rather of the doctrinal than of the merely historical phase of Arianism, we must be content with giving a brief outline of the latter, dwelling at length only on one or two of its more difficult and controverted passages.

The events of the twelve years between the Council of Nicæa and the death of Constantine may be thus briefly stated. Soon after the Council, Arius was recalled from banishment, and having, with Euzoïus, palmed off upon Constantine an heretical creed of their own composition as equivalent to that of the Nicene Confession of Faith, was permitted to return to

Alexandria, where, however, S. Athanasius refused to receive him. Eusebius of Nicomedia, and Theognis were also recalled, and restored to their Sees, having declared their willingness to adopt the creed of Nicæa. But the first use of their freedom thus obtained, was to deprive Eustathius, the aged and Catholic Bishop of Antioch, of his See by an infamous calumny, and they then proceeded in their attacks on the orthodox doctrine, and S. Athanasius himself, as its chief defender. In a packed Synod at Tyre, he was accused of the murder of Arsenius a Meletian Bishop; of violence to a female; and of sacrilege. But these charges were disproved by the appearance of Arsenius himself; by his pretended victim not knowing him when she saw him; and by the ascertained fact, that the Church he was said to have profaned did not exist, and that Ischyras, its supposed priest, was an impostor: and their falseness being thus fully exposed, his enemies next sent a commission into Egypt, headed by Theognis, to seek there fresh matters of accusation against him. Though again failing-notwithstanding that in pursuance of their base design they scrupled not at atrocities equalled only in the worst days of Nero or Diocletian-they proceeded, on their return to Tyre, to deprive their enemy of his See, and shortly afterwards to admit Arius into [their] communion. Meanwhile S. Athanasius had left Tyre, and suddenly presenting himself before the emperor at Constantinople, induced the latter, on his solemn appeal, to command the Bishops to discontinue their sittings at Jerusalem, whither they had transferred them by his direction, and to proceed to Constantinople. But six only of the whole number ventured to appear, the Eusebii, Theognis, Patrophilus, Ursacius, and Valens; the rest, terrified at the consequence of their acts, and dreading to meet their victim before the emperor, returned to their Sees.

The Arians then brought an entirely new and most improbable charge against S. Athanasius, accusing him of having threatened to stop the exportation of corn from Alexandria to Constantinople; and the Emperor, either from jealousy of the supposed invasion of his jurisdiction, or, as S. Athanasius himself says, to protect him from the malice of his enemies, banished him to Treves, whilst Arius himself, being now rid of his opponent, came to Constantinople.

And now it was that the heresiarch is recorded to have committed that atrocious perjury which was so speedily and so signally avenged in his death. On coming before the Emperor, he offered a second Confession of Faith, declaring with an oath that he believed what he then professed; but Socrates tells us that he held concealed in his sleeve another paper, containing his real belief. The Emperor, as if suspecting perfidy, ex

NO. LXXXIII.-N.S,

claimed, If thy faith be right, thou hast sworn well; but if otherwise, God will avenge thy perjury.' But being unable to prove the fraud, Constantine gave orders that Alexander (who was still Bishop of Constantinople) should admit Arius into communion on the following day, which was Sunday. The other events of that Saturday-the Bishop Alexander's solemn prayer in Church; apov "Apetov, that God would either remove him from the world, or take the instrument of those evils with which the Church was threatened; Arius's momentary triumph, and sudden and immediate death-have been told too often to need a lengthened repetition in these pages. We shall confine our remarks to the frequently mooted question, of the immediate cause of the death of the heresiarch. Gibbon says, that if we press the literal narrative of his death, we must make our option between a miracle or poison,' an assertion in which he has not been without followers. Bishop Kaye, however, confesses himself unable to see this necessity. There is nothing in the circumstances,' he says, 'which, if we make 'due allowance for exaggeration, may not be accounted for by 'natural causes. It was not a miraculous or preternatural interposition; but a most striking and awful event, occurring in 'the ordinary course of God's providential government.-P. 79.

[ocr errors]

S. Athanasius relates the event as follows:-o..."Apelos ἐθάῤῥει τοὺς περὶ Εὐσέβιον, πολλά τε φλυαρῶν, εἰσῆλθεν εἰς καθέδρας ὡς διὰ χρείαν τῆς γαστρὸς, καὶ ἐξαίφνης κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένον πρηνής γενόμενος ἐλάκησε μέσος, καὶ πεσὼν ἐνθὺς ἀπέψυξεν, ἀμφοτέρων τε τῆς κοινωνίας καὶ τοῦ ζῆν ἀπεστερήθη. Τὸ μὲν οὖν τέλος τοῦ ̓Αρείου τοιοῦτον γέγονε. From the fact of his having avowedly cited the words in which S. Peter described the death of Judas Iscariot, it would appear as if he were speaking as a rhetorician rather than as a historian; and besides, he derived his information, not from his own. immediate knowledge, for he was not at Constantinople at the time, but from the report of his presbyter Macarius. The account, however, as he relates it, is physically impossible. Macarius was probably deceived by a rumour, to which neither he nor S. Athanasius were anatomists or pathologists enough to affix the true value.

But it is not so with the relation of the same event given by Socrates, who, we should remember, lived within a century of its occurrence, and penned his history in the city in which it happened. He tells us that 'a terror of conscience seized Arius, 'followed by a sudden looseness. On retiring, he was seized ' with faintness; the bowel with its contents came away; a vast quantity of blood, with the smaller intestines, the liver,

[ocr errors]

1 Chap. xxi note o, in loc.

« PrécédentContinuer »