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not by the emperor, unless his holiness first approve of it . And when this council were convened, observe their stile, viz." We, here assembled by the grace of God and favour of Constantine our prince, beloved of God'*". When this council was called by the sole order of Constantine, he also sat amongst them as president; the bishop of Rome was not there, but sent two deputies, stiled presbyters. But fo far was he, by his depuţies, chief there, that the first bishop, who opened the matter and
gave his opinion, was Eustathius bishop of Antioch; and in the sixth canon of that council for ranking and ordering of bishops in their places, no mention is made of the pre-eminence of Rome to any other city, but this general phrase used, That every church shall retain her due bonour t.
The number of bishops in this council were 318, befides vast numbers of presbyters, deacons, acolothists, &c. Eusebius tells us, that some came to the council with worldly views of gain ; and Theodoret, that others were subtle and crafty, and of a quarrelsome, malicious temper, which appeared immediately upon the opening of the council; for, notwithstanding the emperor was present, who admonished them to lay afide all their differences, and to enter into measures of union and peace, they fell to grofs reflections on each other, and raised great disturbances, insomuch that he was obliged to interpose his authority, and with much perfuafion filenced them. !
When the emperor had brought them to fome tem per, they fell in good earnest to creed-making, and drew up and subscribed that which, from the place where they were affembled, was called the Nicene ||.
Lib. i. de Conc. c. xii. See Hift. of Popery, vol, I, p. 25. * Vid. A&t. Concil. Nic. vol. i. + Theodoret, lib. i. 7.
# This creed was composed at this first general council of Nice, A. D.
325, but it received many additions and alterations at the second general council, at Constantinople, A. D. 381, and thereføre might be more properly ftiled the Constantinopolitan creed :
By the accounts of the transactions in this affembly, given by Athanasius himself in his letter to the African bishops, it appears, that they were determined to infert in the creed such words as were most obnoxious to the Arians, and thus to force them to a public separation from the church *: and when those of the Arian party proposed in writing to the fynod the form of faith they had drawn up, the bishops of the orthodox side no fooner read it than they gravely tore it in pieces, and called it a spurious and falfe confession, and after they had filled the place with noise and confusion, universally accused them of betraying the doctrine according to godliness; and when the Arians would have consented to forms of expression that were general and leaft exceptionable, the orthodox party would admit of no other phrases than, That the Son was consubstantial and of the same substance with the Father ; and notwithstanding the Arians urged, that this expression was un. scriptural, the orthodox would not admit of
alteration, and all the council subscribed the creed, (except five bifhops, who, beside other objections, were dilpleased with the word Consubstantial;) and the ortho: dox even proceeded so far as to cut off from communion all who would not agree to, and subscribe this creed. In this public manner did the bishops affert a dominion over the faith and consciences of others, and affumed a power not only to dictate to them what they should believe, but even to anathematize and expel from the Christian church all who refused to submit to their decisions, and own their authority ; for after they had and as the Arian or orthodox party prevailed, this creed was censured or confirmed in some of the succeeding councils for several centuries, The third council of Toledo, which was held in the seventh century, held this creed in great veneration, as more largely condemning all herefies that the apostles, and ordered that it should be always recited by the people before the facrament, 'to shew that they are free from herefy, and in strict union with the Catholic church. This creed has been usually read at the beginning of all the general councils since (a).
* Theod. E. H. l. I. c. viii.
carried their creed, they proceeded to excommunicate Arius, and his followers, and banished Arius from Alexandria. They also condemned his book, called Thalia, which contained his explication of his own doctrine. After this they fent letters to Alexandria, and to the brethren in Egypt, Lybia, and Pentapolis, to acquaint them with their decrees ; and to inform them, that the holy fynod had condemned the opinions of Arius, and exhort them to rejoice for the good deeds they had done, in cutting off all manner of heresy. Constantine, after this, dismissed the council, (not without some donations to gratify their avarice) recommended to them peace and harmony, and to avoid animosity against such as might excel, or be inferior to them: he likewise wrote to several churches, recommending and enjoining an universal conformity to the council's decrees, both in doctrine and ceremonies, using this, among other arguments, that what they had decreed was the will of God, and that the agreement of fo great a number of bishops was by inspiration of the Holy Ghoft. But it is very natural to remark, after the anathemas and depositions agreed on by this council, which were the beginning of all the persecutions that afterwards raged, with how little propriety the dignity of inspiration was applied to them.
Many unhappy consequences very soon took place ; for when the Emperor's recommending to the churches a submission to their decrees was not effectual, morë violent measures were made use of; for out of his
great zeal to extinguish heresy, he put forth public edicts against the authors and maintainers of its against the Novatians, Valentiniáns, Marcionites, and others; ordained that the books written by any of them should be burnt; and if any kept them in their possession, or ens deavoured to counteract his edict, they should, on conviction thereof, suffer death.
Thus the orthodox first brought in the punishment of herefy with death, and persuaded the emperor to destroy those whom they could not easily convert. The
scriptures were now no longer the rule and standard of the Christian faith; orthodoxy and heresy were from henceforward, to be determined by the decisions of councils and fathers, and religion to be propagared no longer by the apostolic methods of persuasion, forbearance, and the virtues of an holy life, but by imperial edicts and decrees; and heretical gainlayers not to be convinced, that they may be brought to the acknowledgement of the truth and be saved, but to be perfecuted and destroyed. It is no wonder, that after this there should be a continual quctuation of the public faith, just as -the prevailing parties had the imperial authority to support them, or that we should meet with little else in ecclesiastical history but violence and cruelties, committed by men, who had left the fisiplicity of the Christian faith and profession, enfaved themselves to ambition and avarice, and had before them the ensnaring views of temporal grandeur, high preferments, and large revenues.
If one reads the complaints of the orthodox writers against the Arians, one would think the Arians the moft execrable set of men that ever lived: but Socrates tells us, this was the practice of the bishops towards all they deposed, to accuse and pronounce them impious, but not to tell others the reasons why they accused them as sucht. :
Soon after these transactions, Arius died; and the manner of his death, as it was reported by the ortho. dox, Athanasius thinks of itself sufficient, fully to condemn the Arian herefy, and an evident proof that it was hateful to God. The Christians, however, being blessed with Christian emperors, were of opinion, that the divine providence had, in a signal manner, raised ap and protected Conftantine, for destroying the enemies of the church; but there is usually much of rashness and presumption, in supposing the calamities of finners in this world are particular judgements of
God. Nor did Conftantine himself long furvive him. He was succeeded by his three fons, Constantine, Conftantius, and Conftans. Constantine, the eldest, recalled Athanasius from banishment, and restored him to his bishopric's upon which account there arose most grievous quarrels and feditions, many being killed, and several publicly whipped, by Athanasius's order, according to the accusations of his enemies. Conftantius, after his elder brother's death, convened a fynod at Antioch in Syria, where Athanasius was again deposed for these crimes, and Gregory put into the see of Alexandria." In this council a new creed was drawn up, in which the word Consubstantial was wholely omitted, and the expressions made use of fo general, as that they might have been equally agreed to by the orthodox and Arians. In the close of it several anathema's were added, and particularly upon all who should teach, or, preach, otherwise than what this council had received, because, as they themselves fay, They did really believe and follow all things delivered by the boly scriptures, both prophets and apostles, so that now the whole Christian world was under a fynodical curse, the opposite councils having damned one another, and all that differed from them; and if councils, as fuch, have any authority to anathematize all who will not submit to them, this authority equally belongs to every council; and therefore, it was but a natural piece of revenge, that as the council of Nice had sent all the Arians to the devil, the Arians, in their , take the orthodox along with them for company, and thus repay one anathema with another.
Constantius II. was warmly on the Arian fide, and favoured the bishops of that party only, and ejected Paul, the orthodox bishop, from the fee of Constantinople, as a person altogether unworthy of it. Macedonius being substituted in his room, who was in a different scheme, or at least expresied himself in different words, both from the orthodox and Arians, asserting that the Son was not consubftantial, not of the