Page images
PDF
EPUB

piety, order the judges to assemble; and if it be seen that Athanasius deserves condemnation, then let sentence be passed upon him

according to ecclesiastical forms. No man ought to be condemned without being examined.”

CONSTANTIUS.- “ The whole universe has condemned him ; but he, as he has done from the very first, does but trifle

[ocr errors]

away time.”

[ocr errors]

LIBERIUS.—“Those who signed the condemnation were not eye-witnesses of anything that occurred; but were actuated by the desire of glory, and by the fear of ignominy."

THE EMPEROR. “What glory did they desire ? What ignominy did they fear ?"

LIBERIUS.- 56 Those who love not the glory of God, but who attach greater value to your gifts than to his glory, have condemned a man whom they have neither seen nor judged: this is very contrary to the principles of Christians.”

THE EMPEROR.- :-“ Athanasius was present at the council of Tyre, when he was judged and condemned by all the bishops of the world.”

LIBERIUS.—“No judgment on his conduct has ever been passed while he was present. Those who were there assembled condemned him without cause after he had retired."

EUSEBIUS THE EUNUCH.-" It was demonstrated at the council of Nice,' that he held opinions entirely at variance with the catholic faith.”

LIBERIUS. — * Of all those who sailed with Ischerus to Maraeotis, and who were sent with memorials against the accused,2 five only delivered the accusation against him. Of the five who were thus sent, two are now dead, namely, Theognis and Theodore. The three others, Maris, Valens, and Ursacius, are still living. Sentence was passed at Sardica against all those who were sent for this purpose to Maraeotis. They presented a petition 3 to the council, soliciting pardon for having drawn up at Maraeotis memorials con

1 Valesius remarks upon the folly of Eusebius, in asserting that Athanasius at Nicæa spoke on the Arian side; an assertion which in fact refutes itself. He adds, “Nescio quid sibi voluerit hic Eunuchus: stultus stulta loquitur.”

? The truth of this assertion has been disputed. But the fact is as follows: five bishops were sent to Mareotis by the synod held at Tyre, to take cognizance of the frivolous charge brought against Athanasius.

3 We are to understand the “Libellus satisfactionis" offered to Julius

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sisting of false accusations and depositions of only one party. This petition is still in our hands. Whose cause are we to espouse, O emperor? With whom are we to hold communion ? With those who first condemned Athanasius, and then solicited pardon for having condemned him, or with those who have condemned these latter ?”1

EPICTETUS THE BISHOP.—“O emperor, it is not on behalf of the faith, nor in defence of the ecclesiastical judgments, that Liberius is pleading ; but merely in order that he may boast before the Roman senators of having, by his arguments, turned the emperor from his purpose.'

THE EMPEROR (addressing Liberius).-“What portion do you constitute of the universe, that you desire to destroy the peace of the whole world, in order to defend one solitary wicked individual ?”

LIBERIUS.-“If I were standing alone, the cause of truth would not be less important. There was once a period when only three persons could be found sufficiently courageous to resist the royal mandate.”

EUSEBIUS THE EUNUCH.—“You compare our emperor to Nebuchadnezzar.”

LIBERIUS. “By no means. But you rashly condemn a man without any previous examination. What I desire is, in the first place, that a confession of faith be signed, confirming that drawn up at the council of Nice. And secondly, that all our brethren be recalled from exile, and reinstated in their own bishoprics. If, when all this has been carried into execution, it can be shown that the doctrines of those who now fill the churches with trouble are conformable to the apostolic faith, then we will all assemble at Alexandria to meet the accusers, the accused, and their defenders, and after having examined the cause, we will pass judgment upon it.”

EPICTETUS THE BISHOP.—“There are not sufficient public vehicles to convey so many bishops."

LIBERIUS.—“Ecclesiastical affairs can be transacted without public vehicles. No churches are unable to provide means for the conveyance of their respective bishops by sea. by Ursacius and Valens, not at the council of Sardica, but at Rome, A, D. 349.

| That is, the fathers who composed the council of Sardica, and who condemned Ursacius and Valens.

2

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

THE EMPEROR. “ The sentence which has once been passed ought not to be revoked. The decision of the greater number of bishops ought to prevail. You alone retain friendship towards that impious man.”

LIBERIUS.—“O emperor, it is a thing hitherto unheard of, that a judge should accuse the absent of impiety, as if he were his personal enemy."

THE EMPEROR.--"All without exception have been injured by him, but none so deeply as I have been. Not content with occasioning the death of my eldest brother, he endeavoured to excite Constans, of blessed memory, to enmity against me ; and, had not his aims been frustrated by my moderation, he would have caused a violent contest between us. None of the victories which I have gained, not even excepting those obtained over Magnentius and Silvanus, appear so satisfactory to me as the ejection of this despicable man from the government of the church."

LIBERIUS.—“Do not gratify your own hatred and revenge, O emperor, by the instrumentality of bishops ; for their hands ought only to be raised for purposes of blessing and of sanctification. If it be consonant with your will, command the bishops to return to their own residences; and if it appear that they can become of one mind with him who to this day maintains the true doctrines of the confession of faith signed at Nice, then peace will ensue throughout the world, and an innocent man will not serve as a mark for reproach.”

THE EMPEROR.—“One question only requires to be made. If you will enter into communion with the churches, I will send you back to Rome. Consent therefore to peace, and sign your assent, and then you shall return to Rome.”

LIBERIUS.—“I have already taken leave of the brethren who are in that city. The decrees of the church are of greater importance than a residence in Rome.”

THE EMPEROR.—“I will give you three days to consider whether

you will sign the document and return to Rome; if not, you must choose the place of your

banishment." LIBERIUS:-“ Neither three days nor three months can change my sentiments. Send me wherever you please.”

After the lapse of two days, the emperor sent for Liberius, and finding his opinions unchanged, he commanded him to be banished to Berea, a city of Thrace. Upon the departure of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Liberius, the emperor sent him five hundred pieces of gold? to defray his expenses. Liberius said to the messenger who brought them, “Go, and give them back to the emperor, he has need of them to pay his troops.” The empress also sent him a sum of the same amount; he said, “ Take it to the emperor, for he

may want it to pay his troops ; but if not, let it be given to Auxentius and Epictetus, for they stand in need of it.” Eusebius the eunuch brought him other sums of money, and he thus addressed him : “ After having converted all the churches of the world into deserts, do you bring alms to me, as to a criminal ? Go, and become first a Christian.” 2 He was sent into exile three days afterwards, without having accepted anything that was offered him.

"If we

[ocr errors]

CHAP. XVII.-BANISHMENT AND RETURN OF THE HOLY

LIBERIUS. This illustrious champion of the faith was sent into Thrace according to the sentence that had been enacted. Two years after this event Constantius went to Rome. The ladies of rank urged their husbands to petition the emperor for the restoration of the shepherd to his flock : they added, that if this could not be conceded, the flock would go itself in quest of its great pastor. Their husbands replied, that they were afraid of incurring the resentment of the emperor. were to ask him,” they continued, “we should not succeed in obtaining the least concession ; but if you were yourselves to present the petition, he would either accede to your request, or else dismiss you without injury.” These noble ladies adopted this suggestion, and presented themselves before the emperor, after having adorned themselves in the most splendid attire, that their rank might be evident from their appearance, in order to insure greater respect and lenity. Having thus presented themselves before him, they besought him to take pity on the condition of so large a city, deprived of its pastor and ravaged by wolves. The emperor replied, that the flock

| The original reading here is ookortivovs, a term whose meaning is uncertain. Sirmundus suggests xpuoivovs, and this latter reading we have adopted accordingly.

2 The Catholics, as is evident from this passage, did not consider the Arians in the light of Christians. See Athanasius, Ep. ad Solitar. pp. 829, 831, 836.

possessed a pastor capable of tending it, and that no other was needed in the city. After the banishment of the great Liberius, one of his deacons, named Felix, had been appointed bishop. He preserved inviolate the doctrines set forth in the Nicean confession of faith, yet he held communion with those who had corrupted that faith. For this reason none of the citizens of Rome would enter the church while he was in it. The ladies mentioned these facts to the emperor. Their persuasions were successful ; and he commanded that the great Liberius should be recalled from exile, and that the two bishops should conjointly rule the church. The edict of the emperor was read in the race-course, and the multitude shouted, that the imperial regulation was just; that the spectators were divided into two factions, each deriving its name from its own colours, and that each faction would now have its own bishop. After having thus ridiculed the edict of the emperor, they all exclaimed with one voice, “ There is but one God, one Christ, one bishop."

." These were their precise words. Some time after this Christian people had uttered these pious and just acclamations, the holy Liberius returned, and Felix retired to another city.

I have, for the sake of preserving order, appended this narrative to the history of the synod of Milan. I shall now return to the relation of events in their due course.

CHAP. XVIII.-COUNCIL OF RIMINI. WHEN all who defended the faith had been removed, (A. D. 359,) those who impelled the mind of the emperor according to their own will, flattering themselves that the faith which they opposed might be easily subverted, and Arianism established in its stead, persuaded Constantius to summon bishops from the East and from the West to Rimini, and to command

i It was a universal rule 'in the church that there should be only one bishop in one see. Hence those who came back to the church from the Novatian heresy, recognised this truth, and alleged it as one of the reasons which made them abandon their position. Compare Euseb. Eccl. Hist. vi. 43, and the letter of Cornelius to St. Cyprian, among the Cyprianic Epistles. The only instance of two bishops in one see is in the case of a coadjutor appointed by a prelate on account of age or infirmity, or else where there happen to be two peoples speaking different languages in one city.

« PreviousContinue »