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countries, Thebes and Libya. After Peter, the illustrious champion of the faith, had, during the sway of wicked tyrants, obtained the crown of martyrdom, the church of Alexandria was ruled for a short time by Achillas. He was succeeded by Alexander, [A. D. 312,] who was the foremost in defending the doctrines of the gospel. Arius, whose name was then enrolled among the presbytery, and who was intrusted with the exposition of the Holy Scriptures, fell a prey to uncontrollable jealousy, when he saw that all the power of the priesthood was committed to Alexander. Under the influence of this passion, he sought opportunities for dispute and contention; and, although he perceived that Alexander's conduct was far above the reach of detraction, he could not subdue the envy by which he was tormented. The enemy of truth made use of him to plunge the church into trouble, by exciting him to oppose the apostolical doctrines held by Alexander, who, receiving the testimony of the Holy Scriptures, taught that the Son is equal with the Father, and of the same substance with God who begat him. Arius inveighed in direct terms against this truth, and affirmed that the Son of God is merely a creature or created being, and that there was a time when he had no existence the other opinions which he advanced may be learned from his own writings.1 He taught these false doctrines not only in the church, but also in general meetings and assemblies; and he even went from house to house, endeavouring to draw men over to his sentiments. Alexander, who was strongly attached to the doctrines of the apostles, at first endeavoured by arguments and remonstrances to convince him of his error; but when he found that he had had the madness to make a public declaration of his impiety, he ejected him from the order of the presbytery, according to the precept of the word of God," If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee."
CHAP. III.-LIST OF THE PRINCIPAL BISHOPS.
THE church of Rome was at this period ruled by Silvester. His predecessor in the administration was Miltiades,2 the suc
He alludes to the letters of Alexander concerning the condemnation of Arius, addressed to all the bishops.
2 Riddle calls him Melchiades.
cessor of that Marcellinus who had so nobly distinguished himself during the persecution. After the death of the tyrant, when peace began to be restored to the churches, Vitalis assumed the chief authority in Antioch, and restored what had been destroyed during the reign of the tyrants. He was succeeded by Philogonius, who completed all that had been omitted in the work of restoration : he had, during the time of Licinius, signalized himself by his zeal for religion. After the administration of Hermon, the government of the church in Jerusalem was committed to Macarius, a man whose name was noble, and whose mind was adorned by every virtue. At this period, Alexander, who had become illustrious by his apostolical gifts, governed the church of Constantinople.
It was at this time that Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, perceiving that the ruling passion of Arius was the love of power, and that many were deluded by the blasphemous doctrines propagated by him at private meetings, communicated an account of his heresy by letter to the rulers of the principal churches. That the truth of my statement may not be suspected, I shall now transcribe the letter which he wrote to Alexander, bishop of Constantinople, as it contains a clear account of all the facts I have mentioned. I shall subjoin the letter of Arius, and also some other letters which are necessary to the completion of this history, and which are corroborative, as well as explanatory, of what has been already written. The following letter was written by Alexander of Alexandria to the bishop of the same name as himself.
THE EPISTLE OF ALEXANDER, BISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA, TO ALEXANDER, BISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE. "ALEXANDER sendeth greeting in the Lord to Alexander, the honoured and beloved brother.
"Impelled by avarice and ambition, some evil-minded individuals have formed designs to obtain the highest ecclesiastical preferments. Under various pretexts, they trample upon the religion of the church; and, being instigated by Satanic agency, they abandon all circumspection, and throw off the fear of God's judgments. Having been made to suffer by them in my own diocese, I write to arouse your caution, that you may be on your guard against them, lest they or any of
their party should presume to enter your diocese. They are skilful in deception, and circulate false and specious letters, calculated to delude the simple and unwary.
"Arius and Achillas have lately formed a conspiracy, and have acted even more culpably than Colluthus, whom they rivalled in ambition. He reprehended their conduct; for he certainly had some pretext to plead in extenuation of his own guilt. When they perceived the gain resulting from his sale of ordinances, they felt unable to remain in subjection. to the church; they accordingly constructed caverns, like those of robbers, in which they constantly assemble, and day and night they there invent calumnies against the Saviour, and against us. They revile the religious doctrines of the apostles, and having, like the Jews, conspired against Christ, they deny his Divinity, and declare him to be on a level with other men. They collect all those passages which allude to the incarnation of our Saviour, and to his having humbled himself for our salvation; and bring them forward as corroborative of their own impious assertion, while they evade all those which declare his Divinity, and the glory which he possesses with the Father. They maintain the ungodly hypothesis entertained by the Greeks and the Jews concerning Jesus Christ; and, at the same time, endeavour by every art to ingratiate themselves with those people.
"All those suppositions connected with our religion which have been advanced to excite derision, they represent as true. They daily excite persecutions and seditions against us. They bring accusations against us before judicial tribunals, suborning as witnesses certain unprincipled women whom they have seduced into error.2 They dishonour Christianity by permitting young women to ramble about the streets. They have had the audacity to rend the seamless garment of Christ
· τὴν ἐκείνου Χριστεμπορείαν. Colluthus, though only a presbyter, had assumed the functions of a bishop, and had ordained many presbyters and deacons. His ordinations, however, were afterwards cancelled in a synod held at Alexandria, as is asserted by St. Athanasius. It would appear from this passage that he was guilty of simony, and that he conferred these orders for money. A similar instance occurs in the case of Ischyras, in Socrates, Eccl. Hist. i. 27.
2 He alludes to "Libelli accusationum" which the women of Alexandria were suborned by the Arian party to prefer against Alexander, the orthodox bishop.
which the people dared not divide. When their wicked course of life, which had been carefully concealed, became gradually known to us, we unanimously ejected them from the church which recognises the Divinity of Christ. They then ran hither and thither to form cabals against us; they even repaired to our fellow-ministers who were of one mind with us, and under the pretence of seeking peace and communion with them, they endeavoured, by means of fair words, to delude some among them into their own error. They ask them to write long verbose letters, and then make known the contents to those whom they have deceived, in order that they may not retract, but be confirmed in error by finding that bishops concur in their sentiments. They are careful not to admit before them, that they teach unholy doctrines, and perpetrate infamous actions amongst us, and that they are for this cause excluded from communion with us. These facts they either pass over in silence, or else disguise by false assertions and deceptive arguments.
They conceal their pernicious doctrines by means of their plausible and persuasive mode of conversation; they thus deceive the unwary, while they never omit calumniating our religion on all occasions. Hence it arises that several have been led to sign their letters, and to receive them into communion. I consider that the conduct of our fellow-ministers, in acting so rashly, is highly reprehensible; for they thus disobey the apostolical canons, and co-operate in the work of the devil against Christ. It is on this account that I make you acquainted without delay, beloved brethren, with the unbelief of certain persons who say, that there was a time when the Son of God had no existence; and that, not having existed from eternity, he must have had a beginning; and that when he was created, he was made like all other men that have ever been born. God, they say, created all things, and they include the Son of God in the number of creatures, both rational and irrational. To argue consistently, they, as a necessary consequence, affirm, that he is by nature liable to change, and capable both of virtue and of vice. Their hypothesis, of his having been created, contradicts the testimony of the Divine Scriptures, which declare the immutability, the Divinity, and the wisdom of the Word, which Word is Christ. We are also able,' say these evil-minded individuals, 'to become
like him, the sons of God; for it is written,—I have nourished and brought up children' (Isa. i. 2). When the continuation of this text is brought before them, which is, 'and they have rebelled against me,' and it is objected that these words cannot refer to Christ, whose nature is immutable, they throw aside all reverence, and affirm that God foreknew and foresaw that his Son would not rebel against him, and that he therefore chose him in preference to all others. They likewise assert that he was not elected because he had by nature any qualifications superior to those of the other sons of God; for God, say they, has not any son by nature, nor, indeed, had he any connexion whatever with him; they consider that he was elected because, though mutable by nature, he was vigilant and zealous in avoiding evil. They add that if Paul and Peter had made similar efforts, their filiation would in no respects have differed from his.
"To establish this absurd doctrine they pervert the Scriptures, and bring forward that expression in the Psalms, wherein it is said of Christ, Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity, therefore thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows' (Psal. xlv. 7). That the Son of God was not created,' and that there never was a time in which he did not exist, is expressly taught by John the evangelist, who spoke of him as the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father' (John i. 18). This divine teacher desired to show that the Father and the Son are inseparable; and, therefore, he said, 'that the Son was in the bosom of the Father.' But he elsewhere affirms, that the Word of God is not to be classed among created beings; for he says, that, 'all things were made by him,' and he also declares his individual existence in the following words: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.' If, then, all things were made by him, how is it that He who thus bestowed existence on all, could at any period have had no existence himself? The Word who created cannot be of the same nature as the things created. For He was in the beginning, and all things were made by him, and were called by him out of nothing into being: he who is said to have existed before all 1 OUTε ¿1⁄2 OVK ÖVтwv yεyévŋtαι. See Socrates, Eccl. Hist. b. i. ch. 8. [THEODORET.]