Page images
PDF
EPUB

For we

fered from the fury and the power of the Arians. cannot believe that our sufferings have been regarded with so much indifference by you, that you can now require to be informed of that in which you ought long ago to have sympathized. The tempests with which we have been visited cannot be unknown to you. The shortness of the time which has elapsed since the persecution, renders it impossible that these things could have passed away from the memory either of the sufferers, or of those whose love constrains them to make the sorrows of others their own. It was but, as it were, yesterday, that

many who had been exposed to numberless afflictions were permitted to return from banishment. The dead bodies of many who died in exile have been brought home. Some, after their return from banishment, have been exposed to greater sufferings in their own houses, from the fury of the heretics, than they ever experienced in foreign and distant lands. Some of them, like the blessed Stephen, were stoned to death. Various species of tortures were inflicted on others, so that they bear in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus. Who can estimate the amount of the taxes which were laid upon the cities? who can compute the number of individuals who were proscribed, or reckon up the long list of plots, of insults, and of imprisonments ? In fact, our sufferings were so multiplied as to exceed arithmetical computation ; and this must have arisen either from the justice of God, in visiting our sins with chastisement; or from his mercy, in being willing to exercise our patience by the severity of afflictions. We therefore return thanks to God for having, by so many visitations, bestowed instruction on us his servants, and for having, according to the fulness of his mercy, worked out deliverance for

Much leisure, a long period of time, and great labour, are requisite to enable us to remove the disorders into which the church has so long been plunged, and to restore it to its original state of healthful piety. For although we are now freed from the violence of persecutions, and have recovered the churches which were so long in the possession of the heretics, we are still molested by wolves who, ever since they have been expelled from the fold, have continually seized the sheep in the forests, have excited the people to sedition, and have watched for opportunities of injuring the church. Hence it is necessary, as I have already stated, to bestow much time upon these important matters. You have manifested to us your brotherly love, as is signified in the letters of

us.

your most pious emperor, by inviting us to attend as your members at the council which you intend, according to the will of God, to hold in Rome; in order that, as we alone had to struggle with affliction, you may not reign alone now that the emperors are of one accord in religion ; but that, to use the expression of the apostle, we may reign with you. It was our prayer to have been enabled to comply with your desire, and we were ready to ask, Who will give us the wings of a dove, that we may fly to you and repose by your side? But we could not join you without leaving our churches, which now would be inexpedient, because the work of restoration is commencing, and nothing can be done without us. We were assembled at Constantinople when we teceived your letters of last year. The preceding year we had been convened at the council of Aquilea by the most pious emperor Theodosius. Those only who had been convened from the various provinces to the council of Constantinople have been apprized of the proposition; and we were all of opinion that it was not expedient to undertake longer voyages. Besides, the time is too short to admit of our making preparations for so long a journey, or of our communicating with the bishops of the various provinces on the subject, and obtaining their sanction. And besides, as many amongst us are prevented by other insuperable obstacles from undertaking the voyage, we adopt the only means in our power of effecting the two objects, of carrying forward the restoration of the church, and at the same time of manifesting to you our love towards you. We have commissioned our most revered and honoured brethren and fellow-labourers, the bishops Cyriacus, Eusebius, and Priscian, to go to you, and to certify that we desire nothing but peace, that we seek nothing but unity, and that all our zeal is concentrated in the maintenance of sound faith. Whether we have suffered persecutions, distresses, menaces of emperors, tyranny of rulers, or the cruelty of heretics, we have suffered them in defence of the faith of the gospel which was signed at Nice, in Bithynia, by three hundred and eighteen fathers. You, and I, and all who do not wish to overturn the word of truth, must agree in this con

They allude to the epistle of the council of Italy addressed to the emperor Theodosius, as mentioned above.

THEODORET.)

1

P

а

fession of faith; for in it are set forth the ancient doctrines which are conformable to baptism, which teach us to believe in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and which declare that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, have the same Divinity, the same substance, and the same power; and that the three perfect hypostases, or three perfect persons, are co-equal and co-eternal. Therefore we have rejected the hypothesis of Sabellius, which confounds the three persons by denying their characteristics; neither do we receive the blasphemy of the Eunomians, of the Arians, or of the spiritualists, who divide the substance, the nature, and the Divinity of the Godhead, and who, denying the uncreated, consubstantial, and co-eternal Trinity, speak of a Trinity which they represent as having been created, or as consisting of diverse natures. We have preserved in all its purity the doctrine concerning the incarnation of the Lord, not admitting that he assumed an imperfect body, destitute either of a soul or of mind; but confessing that the Word of God was perfect before all ages, and that in the last times He, for our salvation, became perfect man. This is a brief summary of the faith which we constantly preach ; you will be led to look upon this confession with still higher satisfaction if you

will peruse the document written by the synod of Antioch,' and also that drawn up last year at the generala council of Constantinople; for in these documents the doctrines of faith are more fully explained, and they contain likewise the condemnation, to which our own signatures are affixed, of the heresies which have lately arisen. With respect to the government of individual churches, there is, as you know, an ancient decree established by the holy fathers when assembled at Nice, which enjoins that the ceremony of ordination should be performed by the bishops of the particular province in which it takes place, or, if agreeable to them, by the bishops of the neighbouring provinces who may be with them. You must know that we have closely adhered to this canon, and that the bishops of our most important cities have been ordained in ac

| That synod, namely, which was held A. D. 378, in which a formula of faith was agreed upon, and fortified by sundry anathemas upon several heresies.

2 The Western bishops not being represented in this council, it was never held to be a general council, strictly speaking.

cordance with it. The church of Constantinople, for instance, which

may be said to be only recently founded, we having but just rescued it, through the mercy of God, from the blasphemy of the heretics as from the jaws of a lion, bas received the most revered and beloved Narcissus for its bishop: he was ordained by the unanimous consent of the general council in the presence of our most pious emperor Theodosius, amid the joyful acclamations of the clergy and of all the city. In the same way also did the bishops of Syria and of the Eastern diocese ordain, by unanimous consent and with the approval of the church, the most honoured and beloved Flavian to the government of the church of Antioch, the city in which the name of Christian was first introduced. His ordination has since been ratified by a council. We must apprize you that the revered and pious Cyril is bishop of the church of Jerusalem, which is the mother of all the churches, 2 that he was ordained according to law by the bishops of the province, and that he has in various places withstood the Arians. We beseech you to rejoice with us that these bishops have been ordained in a manner so strictly in accordance with the canon, and we entreat you to be united to them by spiritual love and by the fear of the Lord, which represses human passions, and which causes us to attach more importance to the edification of the church than to the love or sympathy of any creature. When we have come to one mind respecting the doctrines of faith, and when Christian love is established between us, we shall cease from saying what the apostle condemns, 'I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas.' We shall all be of Christ, who will not be divided in us; but, by God's help, we shall preserve the oneness of the body of the church, and shall stand with confidence before the tribunal of the Lord.”

Thus did the bishops write against the errors of Arius, Aëtius, Eunomius, Sabellius, Photinus, Marcellus, Paul of Samosata, and Macedonius. They also openly condemned the new doctrines of Apollinaris, saying, "We have preserved unchanged the doctrine of our Lord's incarnation, and we

6

"Socrates, Eccl. Hist. book v. ch. 8, asserts that patriarchs were first appointed in this council.

2 As being the church of that city in which Jesus Christ died, and the first foundations of the faith were laid. But this does not interfere with the other sense in which the same title is attributed to the see of Rome.

cannot admit that he assumed our incomplete body destitute of either soul or mind.” Damasis, who merited the highest celebrity, had no sooner heard of the rise of this heresy, than he deposed Apollinaris and his disciple Timothy, and ejected them from the church. This he signified to the bishops of the East by a letter which I shall now insert.

CHAP. X.-LETTER OF DAMASIS,' BISHOP OF ROME, AGAINST

APOLLINARIS AND TIMOTHY. “When you are led by love, my much-honoured sons, to pay due reverence to the apostolical chair, it is much to your own advantage. For though we are placed at the helm of that great and holy church in which the holy apostle sat down to teach, yet we confess ourselves to be altogether unworthy of the honour. And we strive earnestly, by every means in our power, to attain the glory and blessedness of which he is now possessed. Know then, that we have condemned Timothy, the disciple of the heretic Apollinaris, and his impious doctrines, and that we hope none of his sect will arise in future. If this old serpent, who has already been struck once or twice, and driven from the church, should revive to receive his own punishment, and should seek by his deadly venom to inflict mortal injury on some of the faithful, do you carefully shun his path, and adhere firmly and stedfastly to the faith of the apostles which was signed and published by the fathers at Nice; and permit not either the clergy or the people under your jurisdiction to give ear to vain words or forbidden questions. For we have already laid down the following rule, namely, that whoever professes to be a Christian ought to preserve the doctrines of the apostles; for Paul says, “if any one preach another doctrine than that ye have received, let him be anathema.' Christ, our Lord, the Son of God, has by his sufferings obtained redemption for all mankind, and, by having borne the whole weight of human guilt, has delivered all men from sin. Whoever asserts that his human or Divine nature is imperfect, is full of the spirit of the devil, and shows himself to be the son of perdition. Why then should you ask me to depose Timothy? He has been

Baronius fixes A. D. 373 as the probable date of this epistle. Valesius would place it a year or two later.

« PreviousContinue »