The death of Arius was productive of no important consequences in the history of his party. They had never deferred to him as their leader, and since the Nicene Council had even abandoned his creed. The theology of the Eclectics had opened to Eusebius of Caesarea a language less obnoxious to the Catholics and to Constantine, than that into which he had been betrayed in Palestine; while his namesake, possessing the confidence of the Emperor, was enabled to wield weapons more decisive in the controversy than those which Arius had used. From that time Semi-Arianism was their profession, and calumny their weapon, for the deposition, by legal process, of their Catholic opponents. This is the character of their proceedings from A.D. 328 to A.D. 350; when circumstances led them to adopt a third creed, and enabled them to support it by open force.

It may at first sight excite our surprise, that men who were so little careful to be consistent in their professions of faith, should be at the pains to find evasions for a test, which they might have subscribed as a matter of course, and then dismissed from their thoughts. But, not to mention the natural desire of continuing an opposition to which they had once committed themselves, and especially after a defeat, there is, moreover, that in religious mysteries which is ever distasteful to secular minds. The marvelous, which is sure to excite the impatience and resentment of the baffled reason, becomes insupportable when found in those solemn topics, which it would fain look upon, as necessary indeed for the uneducated, but irrelevant when addressed to those who are already skilled in the knowledge and the superficial decencies of virtue. The difficulties of science may be dismissed from the mind, and virtually forgotten; the precepts of morality, imperative as they are, may be received with the condescension, and applied with the modifications, of a self-applauding refinement. But what at once demands attention, yet refuses to satisfy curiosity, places itself above the human mind, imprints on it the thought of Him who is eternal, and enforces the necessity of obedience for its own sake. And thus it becomes to the proud and irreverent, what the consciousness of guilt is to the sinner; a spectre haunting the field, and disturbing the complacency, of their intellectual investigations. In this at least, throughout their changes, the Eusebians are consistent,— in their hatred of the Sacred Mystery.

It has sometimes been scornfully said, on the other hand, that the zeal of Christians, in the discussion of theological subjects, has increased with the mysteriousness of the doctrine in dispute. There is no reason why we should shrink from the avowal. Doubtless, a subject that is dear to us, does become more deeply fixed in our affections by its very peculiarities and incidental obscurities. We desire to revere what we already love; and we seek for the materials of reverence in such parts of it, as exceed our intelligence or imagination. It should therefore excite our devout gratitude, to reflect how the truth has been revealed to us in Scripture in the most practical manner; so as both to humble and to win over, while it consoles, those who really love it. Moreover, with reference to the particular mystery under consideration, since a belief in our Lord's Divinity is closely connected (how, it matters not) with deep religions feeling generally,— involving a sense both of our need and of the value of the blessings which He has procured for us, and an emancipation from the tyranny of the visible world,—it is not wonderful, that those, who would confine our knowledge of God to things seen, should dislike to hear of His true and only Image. If the unbeliever has attempted to account for the rise of the doctrine, by the alleged natural growth of a veneration for the Person and acts of the Redeemer, let it at least be allowed to Christians to reverse the process of argument, and to maintain rather, that a low estimation of the evangelical blessings leads to unworthy conceptions of the Author of them. In the case of laymen it will show itself in a sceptical neglect of the subject of religion altogether; while ecclesiastics, on whose minds religion is forced, are tempted either to an undue exaltation of their order, or to a creed dishonorable to their Lord. The Eusebians adopted the latter alternative, and so merged the supremacy of Divine Truth amid the multifarious religions and philosophies of the world.

Their skillfulness in reasoning and love of disputation afford us an additional explanation of their pertinacious opposition to the Nicene Creed. Though, in possessing the favor of the Imperial Court, they had already the substantial advantages of victory, they disdained success without a battle. They loved the excitement of suspense, and the triumph of victory. And this sophistical turn of mind accounts, not only for their incessant wranglings, but for their frequent changes of view, as regards the doctrine in dispute. It may be doubted whether men, so practiced in the gymnastics of the Aristotelic school, could carefully develope and consistently maintain a definite view of doctrine; especially in a case, where the difficulties of an unsound cause combined with their own habitual restlessness and levity to defeat the attempt. Accordingly, in their conduct of the argument, they seem to be aiming at nothing beyond "living from hand to mouth," as the saying is; availing themselves of some or other expedient, which would suffice to carry them through existing difficulties; admissions, whether to satisfy the timid conscience of Constantius, or to deceive the Western Church; or statements so faintly precise and so decently ambiguous, as to embrace the greatest number of opinions possible, and to deprive religion, in consequence, of its austere and commanding aspect.

That I may not seem to be indulging in vague accusation, I here present the reader with a sketch of the lives of the chief of them; from which he will be able to decide, whether the above explanation of their conduct is unnecessary or gratuitous.

The most distinguished of the party, after Eusebius himself, for ability, learning, and unscrupulousness. was Acacius, the successor of the other Eusebius in the see of Caesarea. He had been his pupil, and on his death inherited his library. Jerome ranks him among the most learned commentators on Scripture. The Arian historian, Philostorgius, praises his boldness, penetration, and perspicuity in unfolding his views; and Sozomen speaks of his talents and influence as equal to the execution of the most difficult designs. He began at first with professing himself a Semi-Arian after the example of Eusebius, his master; next, he became the founder of the party, which will presently be described as the Homoean or Scriptural; thirdly, he joined himself to the Anomoeans or pure Arians, so as even to be the intimate associate of the wretched Aetius; fourthly, at the command of Constantius, he deserted and excommunicated him; fifthly, in the reign of the Catholic Jovian, he signed the Homousion or symbol of Nicaea.

George, of Laodicea, another of the leading members of the Eusebian party, was originally a presbyter of the Alexandrian Church, and deposed by Alexander for the assistance afforded by him to Arius at Nicomedia. At the end of the reign of Constantius, he professed for a while the sentiments of the Semi-Arians; whether seriously or not, we have not the means of deciding, although the character given of him by Athanasius, who is generally candid in his judgments, is unfavorable to his sincerity. Certainly he deserted the Semi-Arians in no long time, and died an Anomoean. He is also accused of open and habitual irregularities of life.

Leontius, the most crafty of his party, was promoted by the Arians to the see of Antioch; and though a pupil of the school of Lucian, and consistently attached to the opinions of Arius throughout his life, he seems to have conducted himself in his high position with moderation and good temper. The Catholic party was at that time still strong in the city, particularly among the laity; the crimes of Stephen and Placillus, his immediate Arian predecessors, had brought discredit on the heretical cause; and the theological opinions of Constantius, who was attached to the Semi-Arian doctrine, rendered it dangerous to avow the plain blasphemies of the first founder of their creed. Accordingly, with the view of seducing the Catholics to his own communion, he was anxious to profess an agreement with the Church, even where he held an opposite opinion; and we are cold that in the public doxology, which was practically the test of faith, not even the nearest to him in the congregation could hear from him more than the words "for ever and ever," with which it concludes, It was apparently with the same design, that he converted the almshouses of the city, destined for the reception of strangers, into seminaries for propagating the Christian faith; and published a panegyrical account of St. Babylas, when his body was to be removed to Daphne, by way of consecrating a place which had been before devoted to sensual excesses. In the meanwhile, he gradually weakened the Church, by a systematic promotion of heretical, and a discountenance of the orthodox Clergy; one of his most scandalous acts being his ordination of Aetius, the founder of the Anomoeans, who was afterwards promoted to the episcopacy in the reign of Julian.

Eudoxius, the successor of Leontius, in the see of Antioch, was his fellow-pupil in the school of Lucian. He is said to have been converted to Semi-Arianism by the writings of the Sophist Asterius; but he afterwards joined the Anomoeans, and got possession of the patriarchate of Constantinople. It was there, at the dedication of the cathedral of St. Sophia, that he uttered the wanton impiety, which has characterized him with a distinctness, which supersedes all historical notice of his conduct, or discussion of his religious opinions. “When Eudoxius”, says Socrates, “had taken his seat on the episcopal throne, his first words were these celebrated ones, “the Father is irreligious; the Son, religious”. When a noise and confusion ensued, he added, “Be not distressed at what I say; for the Father is irreligious, as worshipping none; but the Son is religious towards the Father”. On this the tumult ceased, and in its place an intemperate laughter seized the congregation; and it remains as a good saying even to this time”.

Valens, Bishop of Mursa, in Pannonia, shall close this list of Eusebian Prelates. He was one of the immediate disciples of Arius; and, from an early age, the champion of his heresy in the Latin Church. In the conduct of the controversy, inherited more of the plain dealing as well as of the principles of his master, than his associates; he was an open advocate of the Anomoean doctrine, and by his personal influence with Constantius balanced the power of the Semi-Arian party, derived from the Emperor's private attachment to their doctrine. The favor of Constantius was gained by a fortunate artifice, at the time the latter was directing his arms against the tyrant Magnentius. “While the two armies were engaged in the plains of Mursa”, says Gibbon, “and the fate of the two rivals depended on the chance of war, the son of Constantine passed the anxious moments in a church of the martyrs, under the walls of the city. His spiritual comforter Valens, the Arian Bishop of the diocese, employed the most artful precautions to obtain such early intelligence, as might secure either his favour or his escape. A secret chain of swift and trusty messengers informed him of the vicissitudes of the battle; and while the courtiers stood trembling around their affrighted master, Valens assured him that the Gallic legions gave way; and insinuated, with some presence of mind, that the glorious event had been revealed to him by an Angel. The grateful Emperor ascribed his success to the merits and intercession of the Bishop of Mursa, whose faith had deserved the public and miraculous approbation of Heaven”.

Such were the leaders of the Eusebian or Court faction; and on the review of them, do we not seem to see in each a fresh exhibition of their great type and forerunner, Paulus, on one side or other of his character, though surpassing him in extravagance of conduct, as possessing a wider field, and more powerful incentives for ambitious and energetic exertion? We see the same accommodation of the Christian Creed to the humor of an earthly Sovereign, the same fertility of disputation in support of their version of it, the same reckless profanation of things sacred, the same patient dissemination of error for the services of the age after them; and, if they are free from the personal immoralities of their master, they balance this favorable trait of character by the cruel and hard-hearted temper, which discovers itself in their persecution of the Catholics.


This persecution was conducted till the middle of the century according to the outward forms of ecclesiastical law. Charges of various kinds were preferred in Council against the orthodox prelates of the principal sees, with a profession at least of regularity, whatever unfairness there might be in the details of the proceedings. By this means all the most powerful Churches of Eastern Christendom, by the commencement of the reign of Constantius (A.D. 337), had been brought under the influence of the Arians; Constantinople, Heraclea, Hadrianople, Ephesus, Ancyra, both Caesarea, Antioch, Laodicea, and Alexandria. Eustathius of Antioch, for instance, had incurred their hatred, by his strenuous resistance to the heresy in the scat of its first origin. After the example of his immediate predecessor Philogonius, he refused communion to Stephen, Leontius, Eudoxius, George, and others; and accused Eusebius of Caesarea openly of having violated the faith of Nicaea. The heads of the party assembled in Council at Antioch; and, on charges of heresy and immorality, which they professed to be satisfactorily maintained, pronounced sentence of deposition against him. Constantine banished him to Philippi, together with a considerable number of the priests and deacons of his Church. So again, Marcellus of Ancyra, another of their inveterate opponents, was deposed, anathematized, and banished by them, with greater appearance of justice, on the ground of his leaning to the errors of Sabellius. But their most rancorous enmity and most persevering efforts were directed against the high-minded Patriarch of Alexandria; and, in illustration of their principles and conduct, the circumstances of his first persecution shall here be briefly related.

When Eusebius of Nicomedia failed to effect the restoration of Arius into the Alexandrian Church by persuasion, he had threatened to gain his end by harsher means. Calumnies were easily invented against the man who had withstood his purpose: and it so happened, that willing tools were found on the spot for conducting the attack. The Meletian sectaries have already been noticed, as being the original associates of Arius; who had troubled the Church by taking part in their schism, before he promulgated his peculiar heresy. They were called after Meletius, Bishop of Lycopolis in the Thebaid; who, being deposed for lapsing in the Diocletian persecution, separated from the Catholics, and, propagating a spurious succession of clergy by his episcopal prerogative, formed a powerful body in the heart of the Egyptian Church. The Council of Nicaea, desirous of terminating the disorder in the most temperate manner, instead of deposing the Meletian bishops, had arranged, that they should retain a nominal rank in the sees, in which they had respectively placed themselves; while, by forbidding them to exercise their episcopal functions, it provided for the termination of the schism at their death. But, with the bad fortune which commonly attends conciliatory measures, unless accompanied by such a display of vigor as shows that concession is but condescension, the clemency was forgotten in the restriction, which irritated, without repressing them; and, being bent on the overthrow of the dominant Church, they made a sacrifice of their principles, which had hitherto been orthodox, and joined the Eusebians. By this intrigue, the latter gained an entrance into the Egyptian Church, as effectual as that which had already been opened to them, by means of their heresy itself, in Syria and Asia Minor.

Charges against Athanasius were produced and examined in Councils successively held at Caesarea and Tyre (a.d. 333—335); the Meletians being the accusers, and the Eusebians the judges in the trial. At an earlier date, it had been attempted to convict him of political offences; but, on examination, Constantine became satisfied of his innocence. It had been represented, that, of his own authority, he had imposed and rigorously exacted a duty upon the Egyptian linen cloth; the pretended tribute being in fact nothing beyond the offerings, which pious persons had made to the Church, in the shape of vestments for the service of the sanctuary. It had moreover been alleged, that he had sent pecuniary aid to one Philumenus, who was in rebellion against the Emperor; as at a later period they accused him of a design of distressing Constantinople, by stopping the corn vessels of Alexandria, destined for the supply of the metropolis,

The charges brought against him before these Councils were both of a civil and of an ecclesiastical character; that he, or Macarius, one of his deacons, had broken a consecrated chalice, and the holy table itself, and had thrown the sacred books into the fire; next, that he had killed Arsenius, a Meletian bishop, whose hand, amputated and preserved for magical purposes, had been found in Athanasius's house. The latter of these strange accusations was refuted at the Council of Caesarea by Arsenius himself, whom Athanasius had gained, and who, on the production of a human hand at the trial, presented himself before the judges, thus destroying the circumstantial evidence by which it was to be identified as his. The former charge was refuted at Tyre by the testimony of the Egyptian bishops; who, after exposing the equivocating evidence of the accuser, went on to prove that at the place where their Metropolitan was said to have broken the chalice, there was neither church, nor altar, nor chalice, existing. These were the principal allegations brought against him; and their extraordinary absurdity, (certain as the charges are as matters of history, from evidence of various kinds,) can only be accounted for by supposing, that the Eusebians were even then too powerful and too bold, to care for much more than the bare forms of law, or to scruple at any evidence, which the unskilfulness of their Egyptian coadjutors might set before them. A charge of violence in his conduct towards certain Meletians was added to the above; and, as some say, a still more frivolous accusation of incontinence, but whether this was ever brought, is more than doubtful.

Caesarea and Tyre were places too public even for the audacity of the Eusebians, when the facts of the case were so plainly in favor of the accused. It was now proposed that a commission of inquiry should be sent to the Mareotis, which was in the neighborhood, and formed part of the diocese, of Alexandria, and was the scene of the alleged profanation of the sacred chalice. The leading members of this commission were Valens and Ursacius, Theognis, Maris, and two others, all Eusebians; they took with them the chief accuser of Athanasius as their guide and host, leaving Athanasius and Macarius at Tyre, and refusing admittance into the court of inquiry to such of the clergy of the Mareotis, as were desirous of defending their Bishop's interests in his absence. The issue of such proceedings may be anticipated. On the return of the commission to Tyre, Athanasius was formally condemned of rebellion, sedition, and a tyrannical use of his episcopal power, of murder, sacrilege, and magic; was deposed from the see of Alexandria, and prohibited from ever returning to that city. Constantine confirmed the sentence of the Council, and Athanasius was banished to Gaul.


It has often been remarked that persecutions of Christians, as in St. Paul's case, "fall out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel." The dispersion of the disciples, after the martyrdom of St. Stephen, introduced the word of truth together with themselves among the Samaritans; and in the case before us, the exile of Athanasius led to his introduction to the younger Constantine, son of the great Emperor of that name, who warmly embraced his cause, and gave him the opportunity of rousing the zeal, and gaining the personal friendship of the Catholics of the West. Constans also, another son of Constantine, declared in his favor; and thus, on the death of their father, which took place two years after the Council of Tyre, one third alone of his power, in the person of the Semi-Arian Constantius, Emperor of the East, remained with that party, which, while Constantine lived, was able to wield the whole strength of the State against the orthodox Bishops. The support of the Roman See was a still more important advantage gained by Athanasius. Rome was the natural mediator between Alexandria and Antioch, and at that time possessed extensive influence among the Churches of the West. Accordingly, when Constantius recommenced the persecution, to which his father had been persuaded, the exiles betook themselves to Rome; and about the year 340 or 341 we read of Bishops from Thrace, Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine, collected there, besides a multitude of Presbyters, and among the former, Athanasius himself, Marcellus, Asclepas of Gaza, and Luke of Hadrianople. The first act of the Roman See in their favor was the holding a provincial Council, in which the charges against Athanasius and Marcellus were examined, and pronounced to be untenable. And its next act was to advocate the summoning of a Council of the whole Church with the same purpose, referring it to Athanasius to select a place of meeting, where his cause might be secure of a more impartial hearing, than it had met with at Caesarea and Tyre.

The Eusebians, on the other hand, perceiving the danger which their interests would sustain, should a Council be held at any distance from their own peculiar territory, determined on anticipating the projected Council by one of their own, in which they might both confirm the sentence of deposition against Athanasius, and, if possible, contrive a confession of faith, to allay the suspicions which the Occidentals entertained of their orthodoxy. This was the occasion of the Council of the Dedication, as it is called, held by them at Antioch, in the year 341, and which is one of the most celebrated Councils of the century. It was usual to solemnize the consecration of places of worship, by an attendance of the principal prelates of the neighboring districts; and the great Church of the Metropolis of Syria, called the Dominicum Aureum, which had just been built, afforded both the pretext and the name to their assembly. Between ninety and a hundred bishops came together on this occasion, all Arians or Arianizers, and agreed without difficulty upon the immediate object of the Council, the ratification of the Synods of Caesarea and Tyre in condemnation of Athanasius.

So far their undertaking was in their own hands; but a more difficult task remained behind, viz., to gain the approval and consent of the Western Church, by an exposition of the articles of their faith. Not intending to bind themselves by the decision at Nicaea, they had to find some substitute for the Homousion. With this view four, or even five creeds, more or less resembling the Nicene in language, were successively adopted. The first was that ascribed to the martyr Lucian, though doubts are entertained concerning its genuineness. It is in itself almost unexceptionable; and, had there been no controversies on the subjects contained in it, would have been a satisfactory evidence of the orthodoxy of its promulgators. The Son is therein styled the exact Image of the substance, will, power, and glory of the Father; and the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity are said to be three in substance, one in will. An evasive condemnation was added of the Arian tenets; sufficient, as it might seem, to delude the Latins, who were unskilled in the subtleties of the question. For instance, it was denied that our Lord was born "in time," but in the heretical school, as was shown above, time was supposed to commence with the creation of the world; and it was denied that He was "in the number of the creatures," it being their doctrine, that He was the sole immediate work of God, and, as such, not like others, but separate from the whole creation, of which indeed He was the author. Next, for some or other reason, two new creeds were proposed, and partially adopted by the Council; the same in character of doctrine, but shorter. These three were all circulated, and more or less received in the neighboring Churches; but, on consideration, none of them seemed adequate to the object in view, that of recommending the Eusebians to the distant Churches of the West. Accordingly, a fourth formulary was drawn up after a few months' delay, among others by Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, a Semi-Arian Bishop of religious character, afterwards to be mentioned; its composers were deputed to present it to Constans; and, this creed proving unsatisfactory, a fifth confession was drawn up with considerable care and ability; though it too failed to quiet the suspicions of the Latins. This last is called the Maerostich, from the number of its paragraphs, and did not make its appearance till three years after the former.

In truth, no such exposition of the Catholic faith could satisfy the Western Christians, while they were witnesses to the exile of its great champion on account of his fidelity to it. Here the Eusebians were wanting in their usual practical shrewdness. Words, however orthodox, could not weigh against so plain a fact. The Occidentals, however unskilled in the niceties of the Greek language, were able to ascertain the heresy of the Eusebians in their malevolence towards Athanasius. Nay, the anxious attempts of his enemies, to please them by means of a confession of faith, were a refutation of their pretences. For, inasmuch as the sense of the Catholic world, had already been recorded in the Homousion, why should they devise a new formulary, if after all they agreed with the Church? or, why should they themselves be so fertile in confessions, if they had all of them but one faith? It is brought against them by Athanasius, that in their creeds they date their exposition of the Catholic doctrine, as if it were something new, instead simply of its being declared, which was the sole design of the Nicene Fathers; while at other times, they affected to acknowledge the authority of former Councils, which nevertheless they were indirectly opposing. Under these circumstances the Roman Church, as the repre­sentative of the Latins, only became more bent upon the convocation of a General Council in which the Nicene Creed might be ratified, and any innovation upon it reprobated; and the innocence of Athanasius, which it had already ascertained in its provincial Synod, might be formally proved, and proclaimed to the whole of Christendom. This object was at length accomplished. Constans, whom Athanasius had visited and gained, successfully exerted his influence with his brother Constantius, the Emperor of the East; and a Council of the whole Christian world was summoned at Sardica for the above purposes, the exculpation of Marcellus and others being included with that of Athanasius.

Sardica was chosen as the place of meeting, as lying on the confines of the two divisions of the Empire. It is on the borders of Moesia, Thrace, and Illyricum, and at the foot of Mount Haemus, which separates it from Philippopolis. There the heads of the Christian world assembled in the year 347, twenty-two years after the Nicene Council, in number above 380 bishops, of whom seventy-six were Arian. The President of the Council was the venerable Hosius; whose name was in itself a pledge, that the decision of Nicaea was simply to be preserved, and no fresh question raised on a subject already exhausted by controversy. But, almost before the opening of the Council, matters were brought to a crisis; a schism took place in its members; the Arians retreated to Philippopolis, and there excommunicated the leaders of the orthodox, Julius of Rome, Hosius, and Protogenes of Sardica, issued a sixth confession of faith, and confirmed the proceedings of the Antiochene Council against Athanasius and the other exiles.

This secession of the Arians arose in consequence of their finding, that Athanasius was allowed a seat in the Council; the discussions of which they refused to attend, while a Bishop took part in them, who had already been deposed by Synods of the East. The orthodox replied, that a later Council, held at Rome, had fully acquitted and restored him; moreover, that to maintain his guilt was but to assume the principal point, which they were then assembled to debate; and, though very consistent with their absenting themselves from the Council altogether, could not be permitted to those, who had by their coming recognized the object, for which it was called. Accordingly, without being moved by their retreat, the Council proceeded to the condemnation of some of the more notorious opponents among them of the Creed of Nicaea, examined the charges against Athanasius and the rest, reviewed the acts of the investigations at Tyre and the Mareotis, which the Eusebians had sent to Rome in their defense, and confirmed the decree of the Council of Rome, in favor of the accused. Constans enforced this decision on his brother by the arguments peculiar to a monarch; and the timid Constantius, yielding to fear what he denied to justice, consented to restore to Alexandria a champion of the truth, who had been condemned on the wildest of charges, by the most hostile and unprincipled of judges.

The journey of Athanasius to Alexandria elicited the fullest and most satisfactory testimonies of the real orthodoxy of the Eastern Christians; in spite of the existing cowardice or misapprehension, which surrendered them to the tyrannical rule of a few determined and energetic heretics. The Bishops of Palestine, one of the chief holds of the Arian spirit, welcomed, with the solemnity of a Council, a restoration, which, under the circumstances of the case, was almost a triumph over their own sovereign; and so excited was the Catholic feeling even at Antioch, that Constantius feared to grant to the Athanasians a single Church in that city, lest it should have been the ruin of the Arian cause.

One of the more important consequences of the Council of Sardica, was the public recantation of Valens, and his accomplice Ursacius, Bishop of Singidon, in Pannonia, two of the most inveterate enemies and calumniators of Athanasius. It was addressed to the Bishop of Rome, and was conceived in the following terms: “Whereas we are known heretofore to have preferred many grievous charges against Athanasius the Bishop, and, on being put on our defense by your excellency, have failed to make good our charges, we declare to your excellency, in the presence of all the presbyters, our brethren, that all which we have heretofore heard against the aforesaid, is false, and altogether foreign to his character; and therefore, that we heartily embrace the communion of the aforesaid Athanasius, especially considering your Holiness, according to your habitual clemency, has condescended to pardon our mistake. Further we declare, that, should the Orientals at any time, or Athanasius, from resentful feelings, be desirous to bring us to account, that we will not act in the matter without your sanction. As for the heretic Arius, and his partisans, who say that Once the Son was not that He is of created Substance and that He is not the Son of God before all time, we anathematize them now, and once for all, according to our former statement which we presented at Milan. Witness our hand, that we condemn once for all the Arian heresy, as we have already said, and its advocates. Witness also the hand of Ursacius.— I, Ursacius the Bishop, have set my name to this statement”.

The Council of Milan, referred to in the conclusion of this letter, seems to have been held A.D. 347; two years after the Arian creed, called Macrosich, was sent into the West, and shortly after the declaration of Constans in favor of the restoration of the Athanasians.





The events recorded in the last Section were attended by important consequences in the history of Arianism. The Council of Sardica led to a separation between the Eastern and Western Churches; which seemed to be there represented respectively by the rival Synods of Sardica and Philippopolis, and which had before this time hidden their differences from each other, and communicated together from a fear of increasing the existing evil. Not that really there was any discordance of doctrine between them. The historian, from whom this statement is taken, gives it at the same time as his own opinion, that the majority of the Asiatics were Homousians, though tyrannized over by the court influence, the sophistry, the importunity: and the daring, of the Eusebian party. This mere handful of divines, unscrupulously pressing forward into the highest ecclesiastical stations, set about them to change the condition of the Churches thus put into their power; and, as has been remarked in the case of Leontius of Antioch, filled the inferior offices with their own creatures, and sowed the seeds of future discords and disorders, which they could not hope to have themselves the satisfaction of beholding. The orthodox majority of Bishops and divines, on the other hand, timorously or indolently, kept in the background; and allowed themselves to be represented at Sardica by men, whose tenets they knew to be unchristian, and professed to abominate. And in such circumstances, the blame of the open dissensions, which ensued between the Eastern and Western divisions of Christendom, was certain to be attributed to those who urged the summoning of the Council, not to those who neglected their duty by staying away. In qualification of this censure, however, the intriguing spirit of the Eusebians must be borne in mind; who might have means, of which we are not told, of keeping away their orthodox brethren from Sardica. Certainly the expense of the journey was considerable, whatever might be the imperial or the ecclesiastical allowances for it, and their absence from their flocks, especially in an age fertile in Councils, was an evil. Still there is enough in the history of the times, to evidence a culpable negligence on the part of the orthodox of Asia.

However, this rupture between the East and West has here been noticed, not to censure the Asiatic Churches, but for the sake of its influence on the fortunes of Arianism. It had the effect of pushing forward the Semi-Arians, as they are called, into a party distinct from the Eusebian or Court party, among whom they had hitherto been concealed. This party, as its name implies, professed a doctrine approximating to the orthodox; and thus served as a means of deceiving the Western Churches, which were unskilled in the evasions, by which the Eusebians extricated themselves from even the most explicit confessions of the Catholic doctrine. Accordingly, the six heretical confessions hitherto recounted were all Semi-Arian in character, as being intended more or less to justify the heretical party in the eyes of the Latins. But when this object ceased to be feasible, by the event of the Sardican Council, the Semi-Arians ceased to be of service to the Eusebians, and a separation between the parties gradually took place.


The Semi-Arians, whose history shall here be introduced, originated, as far as their doctrine is concerned, in the change of profession which the Nicene anathema was the occasion of imposing upon the Eusebians; and had for their founders Eusebius of Caesarea, and the Sophist Asterius. But viewed as a party, they are of a later date. The genuine Eusebians were never in earnest in the modified creeds, which they so ostentatiously put forward for the approbation of the West. However, while they clamored in defense of the inconsistent doctrine contained in them, which, resembling the orthodox in word, might in fact subvert it, and at once confessed and denied our Lord, it so happened, that they actually recommended that doctrine to the judgment of some of their followers, and succeeded in creating a direct belief in an hypothesis, which in their own case was but the cloke for their own indifference to the truth. This at least seems the true explanation of an intricate subject in the history. There are always men of sensitive and subtle minds, the natural victims of the bold disputant; men, who, unable to take a broad and common-sense view of an important subject, try to satisfy their intellect and conscience by refined distinctions and perverse reservations. Men of this stamp were especially to be found among a people possessed of the language and acuteness of the Greeks. Accordingly, the Eusebians at length perceived, doubtless to their surprise and disgust, that a party had arisen from among themselves, with all the positiveness (as they would consider it), and nothing of the straightforward simplicity of the Catholic controversialists, more willing to dogmatize than to argue, and binding down their associates to the real import of the words, which they had themselves chosen as mere evasions of orthodoxy; and to their dismay they discovered, that in this party the new Emperor himself was to be numbered. Constantius, indeed, maybe taken as a type of a genuine Semi-Arian; resisting, as he did, the orthodox doctrine from over-subtlety, timidity, pride, restlessness, or other weakness of mind, yet paradoxical enough to combat at the same time and condemn all, who ventured to teach anything short of that orthodoxy. Balanced on this imperceptible centre between truth and error, he alternately banished every party in the controversy, not even sparing his own; and had recourse in turn to every creed for relief, except that in which the truth was actually to be found.

The symbol of the Semi-Arians was the "like in substance", which they substituted for the orthodox "one in substance" or "consubstantial". Their objections to the latter formula took the following form. If the word "substance" denoted the "first substance", or an individual being, then Homousios seemed to bear a Sabellian meaning, and to involve a denial of the separate personality of the Son. On the other hand, if the word was understood as including two distinct Persons (or Hypostases), this was to use it, as it is used of created things; as if by substance were meant some common nature, either divided in fact, or one merely by abstraction. They were strengthened in this view by the decree of the Council, held at Antioch between the years 260 and 270, in condemnation of Paulus, in which the word Homousion was proscribed. They preferred, accordingly, to name the Son "like in substance" or Homoousios, with the Father, that is, of a substance like in all things, except in not being the Father's substance; maintaining at the same time, that, though the Son and Spirit were separate in substance from the Father, still they were so included in His glory that there was but one God.

Instead of admitting the evasion of the Arians, that the word Son had but a secondary sense, and that our Lord was in reality a creature, though "not like other creatures", they plainly declared that He was not a creature, but truly the Son, born of the substance (usia) of the Father, as if an Emanation from Him at His will; yet they would not allow Him simply to be God, as the Father was; but, asserting that there were various energies in the Divine Being, they considered creation to be one, and the genesis or generation to be another, so that the Son, though distinct in substance from God, was at the same time essentially distinct from every created nature. Or they suggested that He was the offspring of the Person (hypostasis), not of the substance or usia of the Father; or, so to say, of the Divine Will, as if the force of the word "Son" consisted in this point. Further, instead of the "once He was not," they adopted the "generated time-apart," for which even Arius had changed it. That is, as holding that the question of the beginning of the Son's existence was beyond our comprehension, they only asserted that there was such a beginning, but that it was before time and independent of it; as if it were possible to draw a distinction between the Catholic doctrine of the derivation or order of succession in the Holy Trinity (the "unoriginately generated'') and this notion of a beginning simplified of the condition of time.

Such was the Semi-Arian Creed, really involving contradictions in terms, parallel to those of which the orthodox were accused;—that the Son was born before all times, yet not eternal; not a creature, yet not God; of His substance, yet not the same in substance; and His exact and perfect resemblance in all things, yet not a second Deity.


Yet the men were better than their creed; and it is satisfactory to be able to detect amid the impiety and worldliness of the heretical party any elements of a purer spirit, which gradually exerted itself and worked out from the corrupt mass, in which it was embedded. Even thus viewed as distinct from their political associates, the Semi-Arians are a motley party at best; yet they may be considered as Saints and Martyrs, when compared with the Eusebians, and in fact some of them have actually been acknowledged as such by the Catholics of subsequent times. Their zeal in detecting the humanitarianism of Marcellus and Photinus, rind their good service in withstanding the Anomoeans, who arrived at the same humanitarianism by a bolder course of thought, will presently be mentioned. On the whole they were men of correct and exemplary life, and earnest according to their views; and they even made pretensions to sanctity in their outward deportment, in which they differed from the true Eusebians, who, as far as the times allowed it, affected the manners and principles of the world. It may be added, that both Athanasius and Hilary, two of the most uncompromising supporters of the Catholic doctrine, speak favorably of them. Athanasius does not hesitate to call them brothers; considering that, however necessary it was for the edification of the Church at large, that the Homousion should be enforced on the clergy, yet that the privileges of private Christian fellowship were not to be denied to those, who from one cause or other stumbled at the use of it s. It is remarkable, that the Semi-Arians, on the contrary, in their most celebrated Synod (at Ancyra, A.D. 358) anathematized the holders of the Homousion, as if crypto-Sabellians.

Basil, the successor of Marcellus, in the see of Ancyra, united in his person the most varied learning with the most blameless life, of all the Semi-Arians. This praise of rectitude in conduct was shared with him by Eustathius of Sebaste, and Eleusius of Cyzicus. These three Bishops especially attracted the regard of Hilary, on his banishment to Phrygia by the intrigues of the Arians (A.D. 356). The zealous confessor feelingly laments the condition, in which he found the Churches in those parts. “I do not speak of things strange to me”, he says, “I write not without knowledge; I have heard and seen in my own person the faults, not of laics merely, but of bishops. For, excepting Eleusius and a few with him, the ten provinces of Asia, in which I am, are for the most part truly ignorant of God”. His testimony in favor of the Semi-Arians of Asia Minor, must in fairness be considered as delivered with the same force of assertion, which marks his protest against all but them; and he elsewhere addresses Basil, Eustathius, and Eleusius, by the title of “Sanctissimi viri”.

Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, in Syria, has obtained from the Greek Church the honors of a Saint and Martyr. He indulged, indeed, a violence of spirit, which assimilates him to the pure Arians, who were the first among Christians to employ force in the cause of religion. But violence, which endures as freely as it assails, obtains our respect, if it is denied our praise. His exertions in the cause of Christianity were attended with considerable success. In the reign of Constantius, availing himself of his power as a Christian Bishop, he demolished a heathen temple, and built a church on its site. When Julian succeeded, it was Mark's turn to suffer. The Emperor had been saved by him, when a child, on the massacre of the other princes of his house; but on this occasion he considered that the claims at once of justice and of paganism outweighed the recollection of ancient services. Mark was condemned to rebuild the temple, or to pay the price of it; and, on his flight from his bishopric, many of his flock were arrested as his hostages. Upon this, he surrendered himself to his persecutors, who immediately subjected him to the most revolting, as well as the most cruel indignities. “They apprehended the aged prelate”, says Gibbon, selecting some out of the number, “they inhumanly scourged him; they tore his beard; and his naked body, anointed with honey, was suspended, in a net, between heaven and earth, and exposed to the stings of insects and the rays of a Syrian sun”. The payment of one piece of gold towards the rebuilding of the temple, would have rescued him from these torments; but, resolute in his refusal to contribute to the service of idolatry, he allowed himself, with a generous insensibility, even to jest at his own sufferings, till he wore out the fury, or even, it is said, effected the conversion of his persecutors. Gregory Nazianzen, and Theodoret, besides celebrating his activity in making converts, make mention of his wisdom and piety, his cultivated understanding, his love of virtue, and the honorable consistency of his life.

Cyril of Jerusalem, and Eusebius of Samosata, are both Saints in the Roman Calendar, though connected in history with the Semi-Arian party. Eusebius was the friend of St. Basil, surnamed the Great; and Cyril is still known to us in his perspicuous and eloquent discourses addressed to the Catechumens.

Others might be named of a like respectability, though deficient, with those above-mentioned, either in moral or in intellectual judgment. With these were mingled a few of a darker character. George of Laodicea, one of the genuine Eusebians, joined them for a time, and took a chief share together with Basil in the management of the Council of Ancyra. Macedonia, who was originally an Anomoean, passed through Semi-Arianism to the heresy of the Pneumatomachists, that is, the denial of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, of which he is theologically the founder.


The Semi-Arians, being such as above described, were at first both in faith and conduct an ornament and recommendation of the Eusebians. But, when once the latter stood at variance with the Latin Church by the event of the Sardican Council, they Ceased to be of service to them as a blind, which was no longer available, or rather were an incumbrance to them, and formidable rivals in the favor of Constantius. The separation between the two parties was probably retarded for a while by the forced submission and recantation of the Eusebians Valens and Ursacius; but an event soon happened, which altogether released those two Bishops and the rest of the Eusebians from the embarrassments, in which the influence of the West and the timidity of Constantius had for the moment involved them. This was the assassination of the Catholic Constans which took place a.d. 350; in consequence of which (Constantine, the eldest of the brothers, being already dead) Constantius succeeded to the undivided empire. Thus the Eusebians had the whole of the West opened to their ambition; and were bound by no impediment, except such as the ill-instructed Semi-Arianism of the Emperor might impose upon them. Their proceedings under these fortunate circumstances will come before us presently; here I will confine myself to the mention of the artifice, by which they succeeded in recommending themselves to Constantius, while they opposed and triumphed over the Semi-Arian Creed.

This artifice, which, obvious as it is, is curious, from the place which it holds in the history of Arianism, was that of affecting on principle to limit confessions of faith to Scripture terms ; and was adopted by Acacius, Bishop of Caesarea, in Palestine, the successor of the learned Eusebius, one of the very men, who had advocated the Semi-Arian non-scriptural formularies of the Dedication and of Philippopolis. From the earliest date, the Arians had taken refuge from the difficulties of their own unscriptural dogmas in the letter of the sacred writers; but they had scarcely ventured on the inconsistency of objecting to the terms of theology, as such. But here Eusebius of Caesarea anticipated the proceedings of his party; and, as he opened upon his contemporaries the evasion of Semi-Arianism, so did he also anticipate his pupil Acacius in the more specious artifice now under consideration. It is suggested in the apology which he put forth for signing the Nicene anathema of the Arian formulae; which anathema he defends on the principle, that these formula were not conceived in the language of Scripture. Allusion is made to the same principle from time to time in the subsequent Arian Councils, as if even then the laxer Eusebians were struggling against the dogmatism of the Semi-Arians. Though the creed of Lucian introduces the "usia" the three other Creeds of the Dedication omit it; and this hypothesis of differences of opinion in the heretical body at these Councils partly accounts for that hesitation and ambiguity in declaring their faith, which has been noticed in its place. Again, the Macrostich omits the "usia," professes generally that the Son is "like in all things to the Father," and enforces the propriety of keeping to the language of Scripture.

About the time which is at present more particularly before us, that is, after the death of Constans, this modification of Arianism becomes distinct, and collects around it the Eastern Eusebians, under the skilful management of Acacius. It is not easy to fix the date of his openly adopting it the immediate cause of which was his quarrel with the Semi-Arian Cyril, which lies between A.D. 349—357. The distinguishing principle of his new doctrine was adherence to the Scripture phraseology, in opposition to the inconvenient precision of the Semi-Arians; its distinguishing tenet is the vague confession that the Son is generally "like" or at most "in all things like" the Father--"like" as opposed to the "one in substance", "like in substance" and "unlike"—that is, the vague confession that the Son is generally like, or altogether like, the Father. Of these two expressions, the "in all things like" was allowed by the Semi-Arians, who included "in substance" under it ; whereas the Acacians (for so they may now be called), or Homoeans (as holding the Homoeon or like), covertly intended to exclude the "in substance" by that very expression, mere similarity always implying difference, and "substance" being, as they would argue, necessarily excluded from the "in all things" if the "like" were intended to stand for anything short of identity. It is plain then that, in the meaning of its authors, and in the practical effect of it, this new hypothesis was neither more nor less than the pure Arian, or, as it was afterwards called, Anomoean, though the phrase, in which it was conveyed, bore in its letter the reverse sense.

Such was the state of the heresy about the year 350; before reviewing its history, as carried on between the two rival parties into which its advocates, the Eusebians, were dividing, the Semi-Arian and Homoean, I shall turn to the sufferings of the Catholic Church at that period.





THE second Arian Persecution is spread over the space of about twelve years, being the interval between the death of Constans, and that of Constantius (A.D. 350—361). Various local violences, particularly at Alexandria and Constantinople, had occurred with the countenance of the Eusebians at an earlier date; but they were rather acts of revenge, than intended as means of bringing over the Catholics, and were conducted on no plan. The chief sees, too, had been seized, and their occupants banished. But now the alternative of subscription or suffering was generally introduced; and, though Arianism was more sanguinary in its later persecutions, it could not be more audacious and abandoned than it showed itself in this.

The artifice of the Homoeon, of which Acacius had undertaken the management, was adapted to promote the success of his party, among the orthodox of the West, as well as to delude or embarrass the Oriental Semi-Arians, for whom it was particularly provided. The Latin Churches, who had not been exposed to those trials of heretical subtlety of which the Homousion was reluctantly made the remedy, had adhered with a noble simplicity to the decision of Nicaea; being satisfied (as it would seem), that, whether or not they had need of the test of orthodoxy at present, in it lay the security of the great doctrine in debate, whenever the need should come. At the same time, they were naturally jealous of the introduction of such terms into their theology, as chiefly served to remind them of the dissensions of foreigners; and, as influenced by this feeling, even after their leaders had declared against the Eusebians at Sardica, they were exposed to the temptation of listening favorably to the artifice of the "Homoeon" or "like." To shut up the subject in Scripture terms, and to say that our Lord was like His Father, no explanation being added, seemed to be a peaceful doctrine, and certainly was in itself unex­ceptionable; and, of course would wear a still more favourable aspect, when contrasted with the threat of exile and poverty, by which its acceptance was enforced. On the other hand, the proposed measure veiled the grossness of that threat itself, and fixed the attention of the solicited Churches rather upon the argument, than upon the Imperial command. Minds that are proof against the mere menaces of power, are overcome by the artifices of an importunate casuistry. Those, who would rather have suffered death than have sanctioned the impieties of Arius, hardly saw how to defend themselves in refusing creeds, which were abstractedly true, though incomplete, and intolerable only because the badges of a prevaricating party. Thus Arianism gained its first footing in the West. And, when one concession was made, another was demanded; or, at other times, the first concession was converted, not without speciousness, into a principle, as allowing change altogether in theological language, as if to depart from the Homousion were in fact to acquiesce in the open impieties of Arius and the Anomoeans. This is the character of the history as more or less illustrated in this and the subsequent Section; the Catholics being harassed by sophistry and persecution, and the Semi-Arians first acquiescing in the Homoeon, then retracting, and becoming more distinct upon the scene, as the Eusebians or Acacians ventured to speak of our Lord in less honorable terms.

But there was another subscription, required of the Catholics during the same period and from an earlier date, as painful, and to all but the most honest minds as embarrassing, as that to the creed of the Homoeon; and that was the condemnation of Athanasius. The Eusebians were incited against him by resentment and jealousy; they perceived that the success of their schemes was impossible, while a Bishop was on the scene, so popular at home, so respected abroad, the bond of connection between the orthodox of Europe and Asia, the organ of their sentiments, and the guide and vigorous agent of their counsels. Moreover, the circumstances of the times had attached an adventitious importance to his fortunes; as if the cause of the Homousion were, providentially committed to his custody, and in his safety or overthrow, the triumph or loss of the truth were actually involved. And, in the eyes of the Emperor, the Catholic champion appeared as a rival of his own sovereignty; type, as he really was, and instrument of that Apostolic Order, which, whether or not united to the civil power, must, to the end of time, divide the rule with Caesar 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 principal 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 neighborhood 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 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 Sec 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 Semi-Arian, 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 Homousion, 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 neighborhood visited by in 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 Homousion 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 Nicaea, 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 savored 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 Caesarea 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 Homoeusian and Homoeon, 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 submissive message, petitioning him for a general and final Council at Aquileia, a measure which Constantius had already led the Catholics to expect. The Western Bishops at Arles, on their part, demanded that, as a previous step to the condemnation of Athanasius, the orthodox Creed should be acknowledged by the Council, and Arius anathematized. However, the Eusebians carried their point; Valens followed up with characteristic violence the imperiousness of Constantius; ill treatment wan added, till the Fathers of the Council, worn out by sufferings, consented to depose and even excommunicate Athanasius. Upon this, an edict was published, denouncing punishment on all Bishops who refused to subscribe the decree thus obtained. Among the instances of cowardice, which were exhibited at Arles, none was more lamentable than that of Vincent of Capua, one of the deputies from Liberius to the Emperor. Vincent had on former occasions shown himself a zealous supporter of orthodoxy. He is supposed to be the presbyter of the same name who was one of the representatives of the Roman Bishop at Nicaea; he had acted with the orthodox at Sardica, and had afterwards been sent by Constans to Constantius, to effect the restoration of the Athanasians in A.D. 348. It was on this occasion, that he and his companion had been exposed to the malice of Stephen, the Arian Bishop of Antioch; who, anxious to destroy their influence, caused a woman of light character to be introduced into their chamber, with the intention of founding a calumny against them; and who, on the artifice being discovered, was deposed by order of Constantius. On the present occasion, Vincent was entirely in the confidence of Liberius; who, having entrusted him with his delicate commission from a sense of his vigor and experience, was deeply afflicted at his fall. It is satisfactory to know, that Vincent retrieved himself afterwards at Ariminum; where he boldly resisted the tyrannical attempt of the Eusebians, to force their creed on the Western Church,


Times of trial bring forward men of zeal and boldness, who thus are enabled to transmit their names to posterity. Liberius, downcast at the disgrace of his representative, and liable himself to fluctuations of mind, was unexpectedly cheered by the arrival of the famous Lucifer, Bishop of Cagliari, in Sardinia, and Eusebius of Vercellae. These, joined by a few others, proceeded as his deputies and advocates to the great Council of Milan, which was held by Constantius (a.d. 355), two years later than that in which Vincent fell. The Fathers collected there were in number above 300, almost all of the Western Church. Constantius was present, and Valens conducted the Arian manoeuvres; and so secure of success were he and his party, that they did not scruple to insult the Council with the proposal of a pure Arian, or Anomoean, creed.

Whether this creed was generally subscribed, does not appear; but the condemnation of Athanasius was universally agreed upon, scarcely one or two of the whole number refusing to sign it. This is remarkable; inasmuch as, at first, the Occidentals demanded of the Eusebians an avowal of the orthodox faith, as the condition of entering upon the consideration of the charges against him. But herein is the strength of audacious men; who gain what is unjust, by asking what is extravagant. Sozomen attributes the concession of the Council to fear, surprise, and ignorance. In truth, a collection of men, who were strangers to each other, and without organization or recognized leaders, without definite objects or policy, was open to every variety of influence, which the cleverness of the usurping faction might direct against them. The simplicity of honesty, the weakness of an amiable temper, the inexperience of a secluded life, and the slowness of the unpractised intellect, all combined with their alarm at the Emperor's manifested displeasure, to impel them to take part with his heresy. When some of them ventured to object the rule of the Church against his command, that they should condemn Athanasius, and communicate with the Arians, "My will must be its rule," he replied; "so the Syrian Bishops have decided; and so must yourselves, would you escape exile."

Several of the more noble-minded prelates of the principal Churches submitted to the alternative, and left their sees. Dionysius, Exarch of Milan, was banished to Cappadocia or Armenia, where he died before the end of the persecution; Auxentius being placed in his see, a bitter Arian, brought for the purpose from Cappadocia, and from his ignorance of Latin, singularly ill-fitted to preside over a Western province. Lucifer was sent off into Syria, and Eusebius of Vercellee into Palestine. A fresh and more violent edict was published against Athanasius; orders were given to arrest him as an impious person, and to put the Arians in possession of his churches, and of the benefactions, which Constantine had left for ecclesiastical and charitable uses. All Bishops were prohibited from communion with him, under pain of losing their sees; and the laity were to be compelled by the magistrates to join themselves to the heretical party. Hilary of Poitiers was the next victim of the persecution. He had taken part in a petition, presented to Constantius, in behalf of the exiled bishops. In consequence a Gallic Council was called, under the presidency of Saturninus, Bishop of Aries; and Hilary was banished into Phrygia.


The history of Liberius, the occupier of the most powerful see in the West, possesses an interest, which deserves our careful attention. In 356, the year after the Council of Milan, the principal eunuch of the Imperial Court had been sent, to urge on him by threats and promises the condemnation of Athanasius; and, on his insisting on a fair trial for the accused, and a disavowal of Arianism on the part of his accusers, as preliminary conditions, had caused him to be forced away to Milan. There the same arguments were addressed to him in the more impressive words of the Emperor himself; who urged upon him "the notoriously wicked life of Athanasius, his vexatious opposition to the peace of the Church, his intrigues to effect a quarrel between the imperial brothers, and his frequent condemnation in the Councils of Eastern and Western Christendom"; and further exhorted him, as being by his pastoral office especially a man of peace, to be cautious of appearing the sole obstacle to the happy settlement of a question, which could not otherwise be arranged. Liberius replied by demanding of Constantius even more than his own deputies had proposed to the Milanese Council;—first, that there should be a general subscription to the Nicene faith throughout the Church; next, that the banished bishops should be restored to their sees; and lastly, should the trial of Athanasius be still thought advisable, that a Council should be held at Alexandria, where justice might be fairly dealt between him and his accusers. The conference between them ended in Liberius being allowed three days to choose between making the required subscription, and going into exile; at the end of which time he manfully departed for Berea, in Thrace. Constantius and the empress, struck with the nobleness of his conduct, sent after him a thousand pieces of gold; but he refused a gift, which must have laid him under restraint towards heretical benefactors. Much more promptly did he reject the offer of assistance, which Eusebius, the eunuch before-mentioned, from whatever feeling, made him. "You have desolated the Churches of Christendom," he said to the powerful favorite, "and then you offer me alms as a convict. Go, first learn to be a Christian."

There are men, in whose mouths sentiments, such as these, are becoming and admirable, as being the result of Christian magnanimity, and imposed upon them by their station in the Church. But the sequel of the history shows, that in the conduct of Liberius there was more of personal feeling and intemperate indignation, than of deep-seated fortitude of soul. His fall, which followed, scandalous as it is in itself, may yet be taken to illustrate the silent firmness of those others his fellow-sufferers, of whom we hear less, because they bore themselves more consistently. Two years of exile, among the dreary solitudes of Thrace, broke his spirit; and the triumph of his deacon Felix, who had succeeded to his power, painfully forced upon his imagination his own listless condition, which brought him no work to perform, and no witness of his sufferings for the truth's sake. Demophilus, one of the foremost of the Eusebian party, was bishop of Boroea, the place of Liberius's banishment; and gave intelligence of his growing melancholy to his own associates. Wise in their generation, they had an instrument ready prepared for the tempter's office, Fortunatian, Bishop of Aquileia, who stood high in the opinion of Liberius for disinterestedness and courage, had conformed to the court-religion in the Arian Council of Milan; and he was now employed by the Eusebians, to gain over the wavering prelate. The arguments of Fortunatian and Demophilus shall be given in the words of Maimbourg. “They told him, that they could not conceive, how a man of his worth and spirit could so long obstinately resolve to be miserable upon a chimerical notion, which subsisted only in the imagination of people of weak or no understanding: that, indeed, if he suffered for the cause of God and the Church, of which God had given him the government, they should not only look upon his sufferings as glorious, but, being willing to partake of his glory, they should also become his companions in banishment themselves. But that this matter related neither to God nor religion; that it concerned merely a private person, named Athanasius, whose cause had nothing in common with that of the Church, whom the public voice had long since accused of numberless crimes, whom Councils had condemned, and who had been turned out of his see by the great Constantine, whose judgment alone was sufficient to justify all that the East and West had so often pronounced against him. That, even if he were not so guilty as men made him, yet it was necessary to sacrifice him to the peace of the Church, and to throw him into the sea to appease the storm, which he was the occasion of raising; but that, the greater part of the Bishops having condemned him, the defending him would be causing a schism, and that it was a very uncommon sight to see the Roman prelate abandon the care of the Church, and banish himself into Thrace, to become the martyr of one, whom both divine and human justice had so often declared guilty. That it was high time to undeceive himself, and to open his eyes at last; to see, whether it was not passion in Athanasius, which gave a false alarm, and opposed an imaginary heresy, to make the world believe that they had a mind to establish error”.

The arguments, diffusively but instructively reported in the above extract, were enforced by the threat of death as the consequence of obstinacy; while, on the other hand, a temptation of a peculiar nature presented itself to the exiled bishop in his very popularity with the Roman people, which was such, that Constantius had already been obliged to promise them his restoration. Moreover, as if to give a reality to the inducements by which he was assailed, a specific plan of mutual concession and concord had been projected, in which Liberius was required to take part. The Western Catholics were, as we have seen, on all occasions requiring evidence of the orthodoxy of the Eusebians, before they consented to take part with them against Athanasius. Constantius then, desirous of ingratiating himself with the people of Rome, and himself a Semi-Arian, and at that time alarmed at the increasing boldness of the Anomoeans, or pure Arians, presently to be mentioned, perceived his opportunity for effecting a general acceptance of a Semi-Arian creed; and thus, while sacrificing the Anomoeans, whom he feared, to the Catholics, and claiming from the Catholics in turn what were scarcely concessions, in the imperfect language of the West, for realizing that religious peace, which he held to be incompatible with the inflexible orthodoxy of Athanasius. Moreover, the heresies of Marcellus and Photimis were in favor of this scheme; for, by dwelling upon them, he withdrew the eyes of Catholics from the contrary errors of Semi-Arianism. A creed was compiled from three former confessions, that of the orthodox Council against Paulus (a.d. 264), that of the Dedication (A.D. 341), and one of the three published at Sirmium. Thus carefully composed, it was signed by all parties, by Liberius 5, by the Semi-Arians, and by the Euse­bians ; the Eusebians being compelled by the Emperor to submit for the time to the dogmatic formula, which they had gradually abandoned. Were it desirable to enlarge on this miserable apostasy, there are abundant materials in the letters, which Liberius wrote in renunciation of Athanasius, to his clergy, and to the Arian bishops. To Valens he protests, that nothing but his love of peace, greater than his desire of martyrdom itself, would have led him to the step which he had taken; in another he declares, that he has but followed his conscience in God's sight. To add to his misery, Constantius suffered him for a while to linger in exile, after he had given way. At length he was restored; and at Ariminum in a measure retrieved his error, together with Vincent of Capua.


The sufferings and trials of Hosius, which took place about the same time, are calculated to impress the mind with the most sorrowful feelings, and still more with a lively indignation against his inhuman persecutors. Shortly before the conference at Sirmium, at which Liberius gave his allegiance to the supremacy of Semi-Arianism, a creed had been drawn up in the same city by Valens and the other more daring members of the Eusebian body. It would seem, that at this date Constantius had not taken the alarm against the Anomoeans, to the extent in which he felt it soon afterwards, on the news probably of their proceedings in the East. Accordingly, the creed in question is of a mixed character. Not venturing on the Anomoean, as at Milan, it nevertheless condemns the use of the usia (substance), Homousion, and Homoeusion, on somewhat of the equivocal plan, of which Acacius, as I have said above, was the most conspicuous patron; and being such, it was presented for signature to the aged Bishop of Corduba. The cruelty which they exercised to accomplish their purpose, was worthy of that singularly wicked faction which Eusebius had organized. Hosius was at this time 101 years old; and had passed a life, prolonged beyond the age of man, in services and sufferings in the cause of Christ. He had assisted in the celebrated Council of Elvira, in Spain (about the year 300), and had been distinguished as a confessor in the Maximinian persecution. He presided at the General Councils of Nicaea and Sardica, and was perhaps the only Bishop, besides Athanasius, who was known and reverenced at once in the East and West. When Constantius became possessed of the Western world, far from relaxing his zeal in a cause discountenanced at the Court, Hosius had exerted himself in his own diocese for the orthodox faith; and, when the persecution began, endeavored by letter to rouse other bishops to a sense of the connection between the acquittal of Athanasius, and the maintenance of divine truth. The Eusebians were irritated by his opposition; he was summoned to the Court at Milan, and, after a vain attempt to shake his constancy, dismissed back to his see. The importunities of Constantius being shortly after renewed, both in the way of threats and of promises, Hosius addressed him an admirable letter, which Athanasius has preserved. After declaring his willingness to repeat, should it be necessary, the good confession which he had made in the heathen persecution, he exhorts the Emperor to abandon his unscriptural creed, and to turn his ear from Arian advisers. He states his conviction, that the condemnation of Athanasius was urged merely for the establishment of the heresy; declares, that at Sardica his accusers had been challenged publicly to produce the proof of their allegations, and had failed, and that he himself had conversed with them in private, and could gain nothing satisfactory from them; and he further reminds Constantius, that Valens and Ursacius had before now retracted the charges, which they once urged against him.

“Change your course of action, I beseech you," continues the earnest Prelate; "remember that you are a man. Fear the day of judgment; keep your hands clean against it; meddle not with Church matters; far from advising us about them, rather seek instruction from us. God has put dominion into your hands; to us He has entrusted the management of the Church; and, as a traitor to you is a rebel to the God who ordained you, so be afraid on your part, lest, usurping ecclesiastical power, you become guilty of a great sin. It is written, 'Render unto Caesar, Caesar's, and what is God's, to God.' We may not bear rule; you, O Emperor, may not burn incense. I write this from a care for your soul. As to your message, I remain in the same mind. I do not join the Arians. I anathematize them. I do not subscribe the condemnation of Athanasius”.

Hosius did not address such language with impunity to a Court, which affected the majesty of oriental despotism. He was summoned to Sirmium, and thrown into prison. There he remained for a whole year. Tortures were added to force the old man from his resolution. He was scourged, and afterwards placed upon the rack. Mysterious it was, that so honored a life should be preserved to an extremity of age, to become the sport and triumph of the Enemy of mankind. At length broken in spirit, the contemporary of Gregory and Dionysius was induced to countenance the impieties of the generation, into which he had lived; not indeed signing the condemnation of Athanasius, for he spurned that baseness to the last, but yielding subscription to a formulary, which forbad the mention of the Homousion, and thus virtually condemned the creed of Nicaea, and countenanced the Arian proceedings. Hosius lived about two years after this tragical event: and, on his deathbed, he protested against the compulsion which had been used towards him, and, with his last breath, abjured the heresy which dishonored his Divine Lord and Saviour.


Meanwhile, the great Egyptian prelate, seated on his patriarchal throne, had calmly prosecuted the work, for which he was raised up, as if his name had not been mentioned in the Arian Councils, and the troubles, which agitated the Western Church, were not the prelude to the blow, which was to fall on himself. Untutored in concession to impiety, by the experience or the prospect of suffering, yet, sensitively alive to the difference between misbelief and misapprehension, while he punished he spared, and restored in the spirit of meekness, while he rebuked and rejected with power. On his return to Alexandria, seven years previous to the events last recorded, congratulations and professions of attachment poured in upon him from the provinces of the whole Roman world, near and distant. From Africa to Illyricum, and from the contemporary of Gregory and Dionysius was induced to countenance the impieties of the generation, into which he had lived; not indeed signing the condemnation of Athanasius, for he spurned that baseness to the last, but yielding subscription to a formulary, which forbad the mention of the Homousion, and thus virtually condemned the creed of Nicaea, and countenanced the Arian proceedings. Hosius lived about two years after this tragical event: and, on his deathbed, he protested against the compulsion which had been used towards him, and, with his last breath, abjured the heresy which dishonoured his Divine Lord and Saviour.

England to Palestine, 400 episcopal letters solicited his communion or patronage; and apologies, and the officiousness of personal service were liberally tendered by those, who, through cowardice, dullness, or self-interest, had joined themselves to the heretical party. Nor did Athanasius fail to improve the season of prosperity, for the true moral strength and substantial holiness of the people committed to him. The sacred services were diligently attended; alms and benefactions supplied the wants of the friendless and infirm; and the young turned their thoughts to that generous consecration of themselves to God, recommended by St. Paul in times of trouble and persecution.

In truth the sufferings, which the Church of Alexandria had lately undergone from the hands of the Eusebians, were sufficient to indispose serious minds towards secular engagements, or vows of duty to a fellow-mortal; to quench those anticipations of quietness and peace, which the overthrow of paganism had at first excited; and to remind them, that the girdle of celibacy and the lamp of watchers best became those, on whom God's judgments might fall suddenly. Not more than ten years were gone by, since Gregory, appointed to the see of Athanasius by the Council of the Dedication, had been thrust upon them by the Imperial Governor, with the most frightful and revolting outrages. Philagrius, an apostate from the Christian faith, and Arsacius, an eunuch of the Court, introduced the Eusebian Bishop into his episcopal city. A Church besieged and spoiled, the massacre of the assembled worshippers, the clergy trodden underfoot, the women subjected to the most infamous profanations, these were the first benedictory greetings scattered by the Arian among his people. Next, bishops were robbed, beaten, imprisoned, banished; the sacred elements of the Eucharist were scornfully cast about by the heathen rabble, which seconded the usurping party; birds and fruits were offered in sacrifice on the holy table; hymns chanted in honor of the idols of paganism ; and the Scriptures given to the flames. 

Such had already been the trial of a much-enduring Church; and it might suddenly be renewed in spite of its present prosperity. The Council of Sardica, convoked principally to remedy these miserable disorders, had in its Synodal Letter warned the Alexandrian Catholics against relaxing in the brave testimony they were giving to the faith of the Gospel. "We exhort you, beloved brethren, before all things, that ye hold the right faith of the Catholic Church. Many and grievous have been your sufferings, and many are the insults and injuries inflicted on the Catholic Church, but 'he, who endureth unto the end, the same shall be saved.' Wherefore, should they essay further enormities against you, let affliction be your rejoicing. For such sufferings are a kind of martyrdom, and such confessions and tortures have their reward. Ye shall receive from God the combatant's prize. Wherefore struggle with all might for the sound faith, and for the exculpation of our brother Athanasius, your bishop. We on our part have not been silent about you, nor neglected to provide for your security; but have been mindful, and done all that Christian love requires of us, suffering with our suffering brethren, and accounting their trials as our own."

The time was now at hand, which was anticipated by the prophetic solicitude of the Sardican Fathers. The same year in which Hosius was thrown into prison, the furies of heretical malice were let loose upon the Catholics of Alexandria. George of Cappadocia, a man of illiterate mind and savage manners, was selected by the Eusebians as their new substitute for Athanasius in the see of that city; and the charge of executing this extraordinary determination was committed to Syrianus, Duke of Egypt. The scenes which followed are but the repetition, with more aggravated horrors, of the atrocities perpetrated by the intruder Gregory. Syrianus entered Alexandria at night; and straightway proceeded with his soldiers to one of the churches, where the Alexandrians were engaged in the services of religion. We have the account of the irruption from Athanasius himself; who, being accused by the Arians of cowardice, on occasion of his subsequent flight, after defending his conduct from Scripture, describes the circumstances, under which he was driven from his Church. "It was now night," he says, "and some of our people were keeping vigil, as communion was in prospect; when the Duke Syrianus suddenly came upon us, with a force of above 5000 men, prepared for attack, with drawn swords, bows, darts, and clubs ... and surrounded the church with close parties of the soldiery, that none might escape from within. There seemed an impropriety in my deserting my congregation in such a riot, instead of hazarding the danger in their stead; so I placed myself in my bishop's chair, and bade the deacon read the Psalm and the congregation alternate 'for His mercy endureth for ever,' and then all retire and go home. But the General bursting at length into the church, and his soldiers blocking up the chancel, with a view of arresting me, the clergy and some of my people present began in their turn clamorously to urge me to withdraw myself. However, I refused to do so, before one and all in the church were gone. Accordingly I stood up, and directed prayer to be said; and then I urged them all to depart first, for that it was better that I should run the risk, than any of them suffer. But by the time that most of them were gone out, and the rest were following, the Religious Brethren and some of the clergy, who were immediately about me, ran up the steps, and dragged me down. And so, be truth my witness, though the soldiers blockaded the chancel, and were in motion round about the church, the Lord leading, I made my way through them, and by His protection got away unperceived; glorifying God mightily, that I had been enabled to stand by my people, and even to send them out before me, and yet had escaped in safety from the hands of those who sought me."

The formal protest of the Alexandrian Christians against this outrage, which is still extant, gives a stronger and fuller statement of the violences attending it. "While we were watching in prayer," they say, "suddenly about midnight, the most noble Duke Syrianus came upon us with a large force of legionaries, with arms, drawn swords, and other military weapons, and their helmets on. The prayers and sacred reading were proceeding, when they assaulted the doors, and, on these being laid open by the force of numbers, he gave the word of command. Upon which, some began to let fly their arrows, and others to sound a charge; and there was a clashing of weapons, and swords glared against the lamplight. Presently, the sacred virgins were slaughtered, numbers trampled down one over another by the rush of the soldiers, and others killed by arrows. Some of the soldiers betook themselves to pillage, and began to strip the females, to whom the very touch of strangers was more terrible than death. Meanwhile, the Bishop sat on his throne, exhorting all to pray ... He was dragged down, and almost torn to pieces. He swooned away, and became as dead; we do not know how he got away from them, for they were bent upon killing him."

The first purpose of Athanasius on his escape was at once to betake himself to Constantius; and he had begun his journey to him, when news of the fury, with which the persecution raged throughout the West, changed his intention. A price was set on his head, and every place was diligently searched in the attempt to find him. He retired into the wilderness of the Thebaid, then inhabited by the followers of Paul and Anthony, the first hermits. Driven at length thence by the activity of his persecutors, he went through a variety of strange adventures, which lasted for the space of six years, till the death of Constantius allowed him to return to Alexandria.

His suffragan bishops did not escape a persecution, which was directed, not against an individual, but against the Christian faith. Thirty of them were banished, ninety were deprived of their churches; and many of the inferior clergy suffered with them. Sickness and death were the ordinary result of such hardships as exile involved; but direct violence in good measure superseded a lingering and uncertain vengeance. George, the representative of the Arians, led the way in a course of horrors, which he carried through all ranks and professions of the Catholic people; and the Jews and heathen of Alexandria, sympathizing in his brutality, submitted themselves to his guidance, and enabled him to extend the range of his crimes in every direction. Houses were pillaged, churches were burned, or subjected to the most loathsome profanations, and cemeteries were ransacked. On the week after Whitsuntide, George himself surprised a congregation, which had refused to communicate with him. He brought out some of the consecrated virgins, and threatened them with death by burning, unless they forthwith turned Arians. On perceiving their constancy of purpose, he stripped them of their garments, and beat them so barbarously on the face, that for some time afterwards their features could not be distinguished. Of the men, forty were scourged; some died of their wounds, the rest were banished. This is one out of many notorious facts, publicly declared at the time, and uncontradicted; and which were not merely the unauthorized excesses of an uneducated Cappadocian, but recognized by the Arian body as their own acts, in a state paper from the Imperial Court, and perpetrated for the maintenance of the peace of the Church, and of a good understanding among all who agreed in the authority of the sacred Scriptures. In the manifesto, issued for the benefit of the people of Alexandria (A.B. 356), the infatuated Emperor applauds their conduct in turning from a cheat and impostor, and siding with those who were venerable men, and above all praise. "The majority of the citizens," he continues, "were blinded by the influence of one who rose from the abyss, darkly misleading those who seek the truth; who had at no time any fruitful exhortation to communicate, but abused the souls of his hearers with frivolous and superficial discussions ... That noble personage has not ventured to stand a trial, but has adjudged himself to banishment; whom it is the interest even of the barbarians to get rid of, lest by pouring out his griefs as in a play to the first comer, he persuade some of them to be profane. So we will wish him a fair journey. But for yourselves, only the select few are your equals, or rather, none are worthy of your honours ; who are allotted excellence and sense, such as your actions proclaim, celebrated as they are almost in every place. ... You have roused yourselves from the grovelling things of earth to those of heaven, the most reverend George undertaking to be your leader, a man of all others the most accomplished in such matters; under whose care you will enjoy in days to come honorable hope, and tranquility at the present time. May all of you hang upon his words as upon a holy anchor, that any cutting and burning may be needless on our part against men of depraved souls, whom we seriously advise to abstain from paying respect to Athanasius, and to dismiss from their minds his troublesome garrulity; or such factious men will find themselves involved in extreme peril, which perhaps no skill will be able to avert from them. For it were absurd indeed, to drive about the pestilent Athanasius from country to country, aiming at his death, though he had ten lives, and not to put a stop to the extravagances of his flatterers and juggling attendants, such as it is a disgrace to name, and whose death has long been determined by the judges. Yet there is a hope of pardon, if they will desist from their former offences. As to their profligate leader Athanasius, he distracted the harmony of the state, and laid on the most holy men impious and sacrilegious hands."

The ignorance and folly of this remarkable document are at first sight incredible; but to an observant mind the common experience of life brings sufficient proof, that there is nothing too audacious for party spirit to assert, nothing too gross for monarch or inflamed populace to receive.





IT remains to relate the circumstances of the open disunion and schism between the Semi-Arians and the Anomoeans. In order to set this clearly before the reader, a brief recapitulation must first be made of the history of the heresy, which has been thrown into the shade in the last Section, by the narrative of the ecclesiastical events to which it gave occasion.

The Semi-Arian school was the offspring of the ingenious refinements, under which the Eusebians concealed impieties, which the temper of the faithful made it inexpedient for them to avow. Its creed preceded the party; that is, those subtleties, which were too feeble to entangle the clear intellects of the school of Lucian, produced after a time their due effect upon the natural subjects of them, viz. men who, with more devotional feeling than the Arians, had less plain sense, and a like deficiency of humility. A Platonic fancifulness made them the victims of an Aristotelic subtlety; and in the philosophising Eusebius and the sophist Asterius, we recognize the appropriate inventors, though hardly the sincere disciples, of the new creed. For a time, the distinction between the Semi-Arians and the Eusebians did not openly appear; the creeds put forth by the whole party being all, more or less, of a Semi-Arian cast, down to the Council of Sirmium inclusive (a.d. 351), in which Photinus was condemned. In the meanwhile the Eusebians, little pleased with the growing dogmatism of members of their own body, fell upon the expedient of confining their confessions to Scripture terms; which, when separated from their context, were of course inadequate to concentrate and ascertain the true doctrine. Hence the formula of the Homoeon; which was introduced by Acacius with the express purpose of deceiving or baffling the Semi-Arian members of his party. This measure was the more necessary for Eusebian interests, inasmuch as a new variety of the heresy arose in the East at the same time, advocated by Aetius and Eunomius; who, by professing boldly the pure Arian tenet, alarmed Constantius, and threw him back upon Basil, and the other Semi-Arians. This new doctrine, called Anomoean, because it maintained that the usia or substance of the Son was unlike the Divine usia, was actually adopted by one portion of the Eusebians, Valens and his rude Occidentals; whose language and temper, not admitting the refinements of Grecian genius, led them to rush from orthodoxy into the most hard and undisguised impiety. And thus the parties stand at the date now before us (A.D. 356—361); Constantius being alternately swayed by Basil, Acacius, and Valens, that is, by the Homoeusian, the Homoean, and the Anomoean,—the Semi-Arian, the Scripturalist, and the Arian pure; by his respect for Basil and the Semi-Arians, the talent of Acacius, and his personal attachment to Valens.


Aetius, the founder of the Anomoeans, is a remarkable instance of the struggles and success of a restless and aspiring mind under the pressure of difficulties. He was a native of Antioch; his father, who had an office under the governor of the province, dying when he was a child, he was made the servant or slave of a vine-dresser. He was first promoted to the trade of a goldsmith or travelling tinker, according to the conflicting testimony of his friends and enemies. Falling in with an itinerant practitioner in medicine, he acquired so much knowledge of the art, as to profess it himself; and, the further study of his new profession introducing him to the disputations of his more learned brethren, he manifested such acuteness and boldness in argument, that he was soon engaged, after the manner of the Sophists, as a paid advocate for such physicians as wished their own theories exhibited in the most advantageous form. The schools of Medicine were at that time infected with Arianism, and thus introduced him to the science of theology, as well as that of disputation; giving him a bias towards heresy, which was soon after confirmed by the tuition of Paulinus, Bishop of Tyre. At Tyre he so boldly conducted the principles of Arianism to their legitimate results, as to scandalize the Eusebian successor of Paulinus; who forced him to retire to Anazarbus, and to resume his former trade of a goldsmith. The energy of Aetius, however, could not be restrained by the obstacles which birth, education, and decency threw in his way. He made acquaintance with a teacher of grammar; and, readily acquiring a smattering of polite literature, he was soon enabled to criticize his master's expositions of sacred Scripture before his pupils. A quarrel, as might be expected, ensued; and Aetius was received into the house of the Bishop of Anazarbus, who had been one of the Arian prelates at Nicaea. This man was formerly mentioned as one of the rudest and most daring among the first assailants of our Lord’s divinity. It is probable, however, that, after signing the Homousion, he had surrendered himself to the characteristic duplicity and worldliness of the Eusebian party; for Aetius is said to have complained, that he was deficient in depth, and, in spite of his hospitality, looked out for another instructor. Such an one he found in the person of a priest of Tarsus, who had been from the first a consistent Arian; and with him he read the Epistles of St. Paul. Returning to Antioch, he became the pupil of Leontius, in the prophetical Scriptures; and, after a while, put himself under the instruction of an Aristotelic sophist of Alexandria. Thus accomplished, he was ordained deacon by Leontius (a.d. 350), who had been lately raised to the patriarchal See of Antioch. Thus the rise of the Anomoean sect coincides in point of time with the death of Constans, an event already noticed in the history of the Eusebians, as transferring the Empire of the West to Constantius, and, thereby furthering their division into the Homoean and Homoeusian factions. Scarcely had Aetius been ordained, when the same notorious irregularities in his carriage, whatever they were, which had more than once led to his expulsion from the lay com­munion of the Arians, caused his deposition from the diaconate, by the very prelate who had promoted him to it! After this, little is known of him for several years; excepting a dispute, which he held with the Semi-Arian Basil, which marks his rising importance. During the interval, he ingratiated himself with Gallus, the brother of Julian; and was implicated in his political offences. Escaping, however, the anger of Constantius, by his comparative insignificance, he retired to Alexandria, and lived for some time in the train of George of Cappadocia, who allowed him to officiate as deacon. Such was at this time the character of the clergy, whom the Arians had introduced into the Syrian Churches, that this despicable adventurer, whose manners were as odious, as his life was eccentric, and his creed blasphemous, had sufficient influence to found a sect, which engaged the attention of the learned Semi-Arians at Ancyra (A.D. 358), and has employed the polemical powers of the orthodox Fathers, Basil and Gregory Nyssen.

Eunomius, his disciple, was the principal disputant in the controversy. With more learning than Aetius, he was enabled to complete and fortify the Anomoean system, inheriting from his master the two peculiarities of character which belong to his school; the first, a faculty of subtle disputation and hard mathematical reasoning, the second, a fierce, and in one sense an honest, disdain of compromise and dissimulation. These had been the two marks of Arianism at its first rise; and the first associates of Arius, who, after his submission to Constantine, had kept aloof from the Court party in disgust, now joyfully welcomed and joined the Anomoeans. The new sect justified their anticipations of its boldness. The same impatience, with which Aetius had received the ambiguous explanations of the Eusebian Bishop of Anazarbus, was expressed by Eunomius for the Acacianism of Eudoxius of Antioch, who in vain endeavored to tutor him into a less real and systematic profession of the Arian tenets. So far did his party carry their vehemence, as even to re-baptize their Christian converts, as though they had been heathen; and that, not in the case of Catholics only, but, to the great offence of the Eusebians, even of those, whom they converted from the other forms of Arianism. Earnestness is always respectable; and, if it be allowable to speak with a sort of moral catachresis, the Anomoeans merited on this account, as well as ensured, a success, which a false conciliation must not hope to obtain.


The progress of events rapidly carried them forward upon the scene of ecclesiastical politics. Valens, who by this time had gained the lead of the Western Bishops, was seconded in his patronage of them by the eunuchs of the Court; of whom Eusebius, the Grand Chamberlain, had unlimited sway over the weak mind of the Emperor. The concessions, made by Liberius and Hosius to the Eusebian party, furnished an additional countenance to Arianism, being misrepresented as actual advances towards the heretical doctrine. The inartificial cast of the Western theology, which scarcely recognized any middle hypothesis between that of the Homousion and pure Arianism, strengthened the opinion that those, who had abandoned the one, must in fact have embraced the other, and, as if this were not enough, it appears that an Anomoean creed was circulated in the East, with the pretence that it was the very formula which Hosius and Liberius had subscribed. Under these circumstances, the Anomoeans were soon strong enough to aid the Eusebians of the East in their contest with the Semi-Arians. Events in the Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem favored their enterprise. It happening that Acacius of Caesarea and Cyril of Jerusalem were rivals for the primacy of Palestine, the reputed connection of Cyril with the Semi-Arian party had the effect of throwing Acacius, though the author of the Homoeon, on the side of its Anomoean assailants; accordingly, with the aid of the neighboring Bishops, he succeeded in deposing Cyril, and sending him out of the country. At Antioch, the cautious Leontius, Arian Bishop, dying (a.d. 357), the eunuchs of the Court contrived to place Eudoxius in his see, a man of restless and intriguing temper, and opposed to the Semi-Arians. One of his first acts was to hold a Council, at which Acacius was present, as well as Aetius and Eunomius, the chiefs of the Anomoeans. There the assembled Bishops did not venture beyond the language of the second creed of Sirmium, which Hosius had signed, and which kept clear of Anomoean doctrine; but they had no difficulty in addressing a letter of thanks and congratulations to the party of the Anomoean Valens, for having at Sirmium brought the troubles of the West to so satisfactory a termination.

The election, however, of Eudoxius, and this Council which followed it were not to pass unchallenged by the Semi-Arians. Mention has already been made of one Georges, a presbyter of Alexandria; who, being among the earliest supporters of Arius, was degraded by Alexander, but, being received by the Eusebians into the Church of Antioch, became at length Bishop of Laodicea. George was justly offended at the promotion of Eudoxius, without the consent of himself and Mark of Arethusa, the most considerable Bishops of Syria; and, at this juncture, took part against the combination of Homoeans and Anomoeans, at Antioch, who had just published their assent to the second creed of Sirmium. Falling in with some clergy whom Eudoxius had excommunicated, he sent letters by them to Macedonius, Basil of Ancyra, and other leaders of the Semi-Arians, intreating them to raise a protest against the proceedings of the Council of Antioch, and so to oblige Eudoxius to separate himself from Aetius and the Anomoeans. This remonstrance produced its effect; and, under pretence of the dedication of a Church, a Council was immediately held by the Semi-Arian party at Ancyra (A.D. 358), in which the Anomoean heresy was condemned. The Synodal letter, which they published, professed to be grounded on the Semi-Arian creeds of the Dedication (A.D. 341), of Philippopolis (a.d. 347), and of Sirmium (a.d. 351), when Photinus was condemned and deposed. It is a valuable document, even as a defence of orthodoxy; its error consisting in its obstinate rejection of the Nicene Homousion, the sole practical bulwark of the Catholic faith against the misrepresentations of heresy,—against a sort of tritheism on the one hand, and a degraded conception of the Son and Spirit on the other.

The two parties thus at issue, appealed to Constantius at Sirmium. That weak Prince had lately sanctioned the almost Acacian creed of Valens, which Hosius had been compelled to subscribe, when the deputation from Antioch arrived at the Imperial Court; and he readily gave his assent to the new edition of it which Eudoxius had promulgated. Scarcely had he done so, when the Semi-Arians made their appearance from Ancyra, with Basil at their head; and succeeded so well in representing the dangerous character of the creed passed at Antioch, that, recalling the messenger who had been sent off to that city, he forthwith held the Conference, mentioned in the foregoing Section, in which he imposed a Semi-Arian creed on all parties, Eudoxius and Valens, the representatives of the Eusebians, being compelled, as well as the orthodox Liberius, to sign a formulary, which Basil compiled from the creeds against Paulus of Samosata, and Photinus (a.d. 264-351), and the creed of Lucian, published by the Council of the Dedication (a.d. 341). Yet in spite of the learning, and personal respectability of the Semi-Arians, which at the moment exerted this strong influence over the mind of Constantius, the dexterity of the Eusebians in disputation and intrigue was ultimately successful.

Though seventy Bishops of their party were immediately banished, these were in a few months reinstated by the capricious Emperor, who from that time inclined first to the Acacian or Homoean, and then to the open Anomoean or pure Arian doctrine; and who before his death (A.D. 361) received baptism from the hands of Euzoius, one of the original associates of Arius, then recently placed in the see of Antioch.— The history of this change, with the Councils attending it, will bring us to the close of this chapter.


The Semi-Arians, elated by their success with the Emperor, followed it up by obtaining his consent for an Ecumenical Council, in which the faith of the Christian Church should definitely be declared for good. A meeting of the whole of Christendom had not been attempted, except in the instance of the Council of Sardica, since the Nicene; and the Sardican itself had been convoked principally to decide upon the charges urged against Athanasius, and not to open the doctrinal question. Indeed it is evident, that none but the heterodox party, now dominant, could consistently debate an article of belief, which the united testimony of the Churches of the East and West had once for all settled at Nicaea. This, then, was the project of the Semi-Arians. They aimed at a renewal on an Ecumenical scale of the Council of the Dedication at Antioch in A.D. 341. The Eusebian party, however, had no intention of tamely submitting to defeat. Perceiving that it would be more for their own interest that the prelates of the East and West should not meet in the same place (two bodies being more manageable than one), they exerted themselves so strenuously with the assistance of the eunuchs of the palace, that at last it was determined, that, while the Orientals met at Seleucia in Isauria, the Occidental Council should be held at Ariminum, in Italy. Next, a previous Conference was held at Sirmium, in order to determine on the creed to be presented to the bipartite Council; and here again the Eusebians gained an advantage, though not at once to the extent of their wishes. Warned by the late indignation of Constantius against the Anomoean tenet, they did not attempt to rescue it from his displeasure; but they struggled for the adoption of the Acacian Homoeon, which the Emperor had already both received and abandoned, and they actually effected the adoption of the "like in all things according to the Scriptures"—a, phrase in which the Semi-Arians indeed included their "like in substance" or Homoeusion, but which did not necessarily refer to substance or nature at all. Under these circumstances the two Councils met in the autumn of A.D. 359, under the nominal superintendence of the Semi-Arians; but on the Eusebian side, the sharp-witted Acacius undertaking to deal with the disputatious Greeks, the overbearing and cruel Valens with the plainer Latins. About 160 Bishops of the Eastern Church assembled at Seleucia, of whom not above forty were Eusebians. Far the greater number were professed Semi-Arians; the Egyptian prelates alone, of whom but twelve or thirteen were present, displaying themselves, as at the first, the bold and faithful adherents of the Homousion, It was soon evident that the forced reconciliation which Constantius had imposed on the two parties at Sirmium, was of no avail in their actual deliberations. On each side an alteration of the proposed formula was demanded. In spite of the sanction given by Basil and Mark to the "like in all things," the majority of their partisans would be contented with nothing short of the definite "like in substance" or Homoeusion, which left no opening (as they considered) to evasion; and in consequence proposed to return to Lucian's creed, adopted by the Council of the Dedication. Acacias, on the other hand, not satisfied with the advantage he had just gained in the preliminary meeting at Sirmium, where the mention of the usia or substance was dropped (although but lately imposed by Constantius on all parties, in the formulary which Liberius signed), proposed a creed in which the Homousion and Homoeusion, were condemned, the Anomoeon anathematized, as the source of confusion and schism, and his own Homoeon adopted (that is, "like" without the addition of "in all things"); and when he found himself unable to accomplish his purpose, not waiting for the formal sentence of deposition, which the Semi-Arians proceeded to pronounce upon himself and eight others, he set off to Constantinople, where the Emperor then was, hoping there, in the absence of Basil and his party, to gain what had been denied him in the preliminary meeting at Sirmium. It so happened, however, that his object had been effected even before his arrival; for, a similar quarrel having resulted from the meeting at Ariminum, and deputies from the rival parties having thence similarly been despatched to Constantius, a Conference had already taken place at a city called Nice or Nicaea, in the neighbourhood of Hadrianople, and an emendated creed adopted, in which, not only the safeguard of the "in all things" was omitted, and the usia condemned, but even the word Hypostasis (Subsistence or Person) also, on the ground of its being a refinement on Scripture. So much had been already gained by the influence of Valens, when the arrival of Acacius at Constantinople gave fresh activity to the Eusebian party.

Thereupon a Council was summoned in the Imperial city of the neighboring Bishops, principally of those of Bithynia, and the Acacian formula of Ariminum confirmed. Constantius was easily persuaded to believe of Basil, what had before been asserted of Athanasius, that he was the impediment to the settlement of the question, and to the tranquility of the Church. Various charges of a civil and ecclesiastical nature were alleged against him and other Semi-Arians, as formerly against Athanasius, with what degree of truth it is impossible at this day to determine; and a sentence of deposition was issued against them. Cyril of Jerusalem, Eleusius of Cyzicus, Eustathius of Sebaste, and Macedonius of Constantinople, were in the number of those who suffered with Basil; Macedonius being succeeded by Eudoxius, who, thus seated in the first see of the East, became subsequently the principal stay of Arianism under the Emperor Valens.

This triumph of the Eusebian party in the East, took place in the beginning of a.d. 360; by which time the Council of Ariminum in the West, had been brought to a conclusion. To it we must now turn our attention.

The Latin Council had commenced its deliberations, before the Orientals had assembled at Seleucia; yet it did not bring them to a close till the end of the year. The struggle between the Eusebians and their opponents had been so much the more stubborn in the West, in proportion as the latter were more numerous there, and further removed from Arian doctrine, and Valens on the other hand more unscrupulous, and armed with fuller powers. Four hundred Bishops were collected at Ariminum, of whom but eighty were Arians; and the civil officer, to whom Constantius had committed the superintendence of their proceedings, had orders not to let them stir out of the city, till they should agree upon a confession of faith. At the opening of the Council, Valens, Ursacius, Germinius, Auxentius, Caius, and Demophilus, the Imperial Commissioners, had presented to the assembly the formula of the "like in all things" agreed upon in the preliminary conference at Sirmium; and demanded, that, putting aside all strange and mysterious terms of theology, it should be at once adopted by the assembled Fathers. They had received for answer, that the Latins determined to adhere to the formulary of Nicaea; and that, as a first step in their present deliberations, it was necessary that all present should forthwith anathematize all heresies and innovations, beginning with that of Arius. The Commissioners had refused to do so, and had been promptly condemned and deposed, a deputation of ten being sent from the Council to Constantius, to acquaint him with the result of its deliberations. The issue of this mission to the Court, to which Valens opposed one from his own party, has been already related. Constantius, with a view of wearing out the Latin Fathers, pretended that the barbarian war required his immediate attention, and delayed the consideration of the question till the beginning of October, several months after the opening of the Council; and then, frightening the Catholic deputation into compliance, he effected at Nice the adoption of the Homoean creed (that is, the "like'' without the "in all things'") and sent it back to Ariminum.

The termination of the Council there assembled was disgraceful to its members, but more so to the Emperor himself. Distressed by their long confinement, impatient at their absence from their respective dioceses, and apprehensive of the approaching winter, they began to waver. At first, indeed, they refused to communicate with their own apostate deputies; but these, almost in self-defence, were active and successful in bringing over others to their new opinions. A threat was held out by Taurus, the Praetorian Prefect, who superintended the discussions, that fifteen of the most obstinate should be sent into banishment; and Valens was importunate in the use of such theological arguments and explanations, as were likely to effect his object. The Prefect conjured them with tears to abandon an unfruitful obstinacy, to reflect on the length of their past confinement, the discomfort of their situation, the rigours of the winter, and to con­sider, that there was but one possible termination of the difficulty, which lay with themselves, not with him. Valens, on the other hand, affirmed that the Eastern bishops at Seleucia had abandoned the usia; and he demanded of those who still stood their ground, what objection they could make to the Scriptural creed proposed to them, and whether, for the sake of a word, they would be the authors of a schism between Eastern and Western Christendom. He affirmed, that the danger apprehended by the Catholics was but chimerical; that he and his party condemned Arms and Arianism, as strongly as themselves, and were only desirous of avoiding a word, which confessedly is not in Scripture, and had in past time been productive of much scandal. Then, to put his sincerity to the proof, he began with a loud voice to anathematize the maintainers of the Arian blasphemies in succession; and he concluded by declaring that he believed the Word to be God, begotten of God before all time, and not in the number of the creatures, and that whoever should say that He was a creature as other creatures, was anathema. The foregoing history of the heresy has sufficiently explained how the Arians evaded the force of these strong declarations; but the inexperienced Latins did not detect their insincerity. Satisfied, and glad to be released, they gave up the Homousion, and signed the formula of the Homoeon; and scarcely had they separated, when Valens, as might be expected, boasted of his victory, arguing that the faith of Nicaea had been condemned by the very circumstance of his being allowed to confess, that the Son was "not a creature as other creatures," and so to imply, that, though not like other creatures, still He was created. Thus ended this celebrated Council; the result of which is well characterized in the lively statement of Jerome: “The whole world groaned in astonishment to find itself Arian”.

In the proceedings attendant on the Councils of Seleucia and Ariminum, the Eusebians had skillfully gained two important objects, by means of unimportant concessions on their part. They had sacrificed Aetius and his Anomoeon; and effected in exchange the disgrace of the Semi-Arians as well as of the Catholics, and the establishment of the Homoeon the truly characteristic symbol of a party, who, as caring little for the sense of Scripture, found an excuse and an indulgence of their unconcern, in a pretended maintenance of the letter. As to the wretched mountebank just mentioned, whose profaneness was so abominable, as to obtain for him the title of the "Atheist," he was formally condemned in the Council at Constantinople (A.D. 360) already mentioned, in which the Semi-Arian Basil, Macedonius, and then-associates had been deposed. During the discussions which attended it, Eleusius, one of the latter party, laid before the Emperor an Anomoean creed, which he ascribed to Eudoxius. The latter, when questioned, disowned it; and named Aetius as its author, who was immediately summoned. Introduced into the Imperial presence, he was unable to divine, in spite of his natural acuteness, whether the Emperor was pleased or displeased with the composition; and, hazarding an acknowledgement of it, he drew down on himself the full indignation of Constantius, who banished him into Cilicia, and obliged his patron Eudoxius to anathematize both the confession in question, and all the positions of the pure Arian heresy. Such was the fall of Aetius, at the time of the triumph of the Eusebians; but soon afterwards he was promoted to the episcopate (under what circumstances is unknown), and was favourably noticed, as a former friend of Gallus, by the Emperor Julian, who gave him a territory in the Island of Mitelene.

Eunomius, his disciple, escaped the jealousy of Constantius through the good offices of Eudoxius, and was advanced to the Bishopric of Cyzicus; but, being impatient of dissimulation, he soon fell into disgrace, and was banished. The death of the Emperor took place at the end of A.D. 361; his last acts evincing a further approximation to the unmitigated heresy of Arius. At a Council held at Antioch in the course of that year, he sanctioned the Anomoean doctrine in its most revolting form; and shortly before his decease, received the sacrament of baptism, as has been stated above, from Euzoius, the personal friend and original associate of Arius himself.