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at Ariminum, in Italy, they proposed it for their A.D. 359.
adoption. The synod, however, immediately required the Arian bishops to subscribe the Nicene creed, and deposed those who refused to do so.; and it was only after they had been wearied out by a delay of many months, intimidated by the threats of the emperor, and solemnly as. sured by the Arians that they received the creed in the or. thodox sense, that the bishops at last gave way, and, in hopes of securing peace, permitted the omission of the term homoüsion (“ of the same substance,”) which occurred in the Nicene creed. The majority of the bishops, too, either de. ceived or intimidated, subscribed the new creed; but the deception was soon discovered.
The Arians proclaimed every where that the Nicene faith was condemned, and an. nounced their own interpretation of the creed lately adopted. But though heresy seemed for a moment triumphant, it was soon to be overthrown. France and Italy, roused by the celebrated Hilary, bishop of Poictiers, who returned from his. exile in the East, declared their adherence
A.D. 360. to the true faith, annulled the proceedings at Ariminum, expelled the Arians from communion, and trans. mitted their resolutions to the orthodox bishops of the East. Egypt was already proclaiming its agreement with their faith ; for on the death of Constantius, Athana.
A.D. 361. sius re-appeared suddenly in the church of Alexandria, after having entirely disappeared for seven years, during which he had dwelt among the monks in Upper Egypt. When he thus, beyond all expectation, appeared again, the people of Alexandria rejoiced with exceeding joy, and delivered all the churches to him, expelling the Arians. At the same time, Lucifer, bishop of Cagliari, and Eusebius of Vercellæ, returned from the Upper Thebais, where Con. stantius had condemned them to perpetual exile for their faith; and Eusebius was present in the synod of
A.D. 362. Alexandria, held by Athanasius to confirm the Nicene creed. When the emperor, Julian the Apostate,
heard that St. Athanasius was again in Alexandria, and that he was converting many of the heathen to Christianity, he commanded him to leave the city. When departing from his see, and beholding the people weeping around him, he said, “Take courage; this is but a little cloud, which shall quickly pass away.” And so indeed it proved: for on the
accession of Jovian, Athanasius was restored A.D. 363.
to his see, and testified to that orthodox emperor, that the true faith was then received in all the Churches of Spain, Britain, Gaul, Italy, Dalmatia, Dacia, Mysia, Mace. donia, Greece, Africa, Sardinia, Cyprus, Crete, Pamphylia, Syria, Isauria, Egypt, Libya, Pontus, Cappadocia, and in all the East. Many councils of bishops successively confirmed the orthodox faith; and even those bishops of the East who were called Semi-Arians from their not adopting the word homoüsion, and who had been deceived by the real Arians, but whose faith differed not from that of the Catholic Church, now united in the universal acceptance of the Nicene faith. Thus the Arian heresy, when it seemed most prosperous, suddenly fell ; and, after lingering for a time under the protec.
tion of the Emperor Valens, and afterwards A.D. 364-378.
amongst the barbarous nations beyond the Roman empire, it disappeared from the face of the earth.
The protection vouehsafed by God to the true faith was never more wonderfully exemplified than in the existence and final triumph of the Nicene creed. Craft and violence alike failed to overthrow the belief of the Church. The truth is, that this heresy had never been able to take deep root in the Church. Arian bishops in the East governed a people whose pious simplicity was unable to detect errors veiled under the guise of orthodox language: but when, at length, the real tenets of the Arians began to be more openly developed, and when the multiplication of creeds, and their internal divi. sions, had shown the uncertainty of their faith, and when the patronage of the state was withdrawn from their cause, they fell at once.
While the Arian impiety was falling, the enemy of man was engaged in drawing forth from it a new temptation for the faith of the Church. All Christians had hitherto believ. ed that the Holy Ghost was truly the Spirit of God; but the Arian Macedonius taught that the Holy Ghost was merely a creature made by the Son, contrary to the words of Christ, who described him as the “ Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father.” This doctrine was condemned as antiChristian by many councils in Europe and Asia, but especi. ally, by the council of one hundred and fifty bishops at Constantinople, assembled by the Emperor Theodosius, in A.D. 381, and which, having been ever since universally approved by the Church, has been termed THE SECOND ECUMENICAL
On this occasion the Nicene creed was enlarged, in order to express the belief of Christians that the Holy Ghost is truly God.
The Macedonian heresy had not many adherents, and did not long continue to trouble the Church; but the disputatious and proud spirit of Arianism had engendered a brood of errors. Sabellianism re-appeared in the person of Photinus ; while Apollinaris denied that our Lord possessed a human reasonable soul. These errors were universally condemned, and their authors were numbered with the heretics.
Though religion was suffering so grievously from the disturbances excited by heresies, it continued to expand itself among the heathen. Ethiopia was now converted by Frumentius, who was consecrated the first bishop of the Ethio. pians by St. Athanasius. The natives of Georgia, or Iberia, and the Goths of Thrace, Mæsia, and Dacia, also received the light of the Gospel. St. Martin, bishop of Tours, completed the conversion of the Gauls, and is said to have had the gift of miracles. Thus did that grain of mustard-seed sown by Christ continue to increase.
The Churr' was now threatened with new afflictions and adversities, in the decay of the Roman empire. Attracted by the prospect of an easy spoil, the barbarian nations of the
Goths, Heruli, Vandals, Huns, Franks, Saxons, precipitated themselves successively on a luxurious and unwarlike popu. lation; and scenes of the most dreadful carnage and destruction overspread every province of the falling empire. The greatest portion of its possessions in the West became the prey of the invaders; and the Churches of Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Africa, groaned beneath the yoke of hea. then or Arian conquerors. In Africa, the Vandals, who were Arians, endeavoured to extirpate the true faith by most cruelly persecuting its defenders, and by prohibiting all ordinations to the sacred ministry. These savage invaders were gradually converted from their errors; but the destruction of learning which they caused exercised a permanently evil infuence on Christianity. Ignorant themselves, and despising all literature, they were devoted only to war and to the chase ; and even their conversion to Christianity effected no alteration in the national character and tastes. Hence education was despised, the most ordinary literary attainments neglected, and, as a sure result, superstitions were gradually introduced, and found too ready an acceptance.
While Christianity was suffering grievous afflictions and persecutions from the barbarians, the torch of discord was again lighted by the heretic Pelagius, at the end of the fourth century. Pelagius denied that human nature is inclined to evil, or that man needs the assistance of divine grace to lead and assist him to perform good works. This doctrine was most strenuously opposed by the illustrious St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo in Africa, and was condemned by many councils in the East and West, especially by a council of two
hundred bishops at Carthage, the decrees of A.D. 417.
which were generally approved by the Church. This council excommunicated all those who taught that Adam was naturally mortal, so that death was not the punishment of sin; or that it is unnecessary to baptise infants; or that they do not derive from Adam any original sin which needs to be expiated by regeneration; or that the words of St. John,
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,” are merely to be understood as an expression of humility, not as the declaration of a real fact: for, as the decree adds, “ the following words of the apostle, But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,' show sufficiently that they were not mere expressions of humility, but of truth.” The heresy of Pelagius was finally condemned in the third ecumenical synod, of which I am about to speak.
Nestorius, a vain and arrogant man,* being ordained to the patriarchal see of Constantinople, declaimed violently against the title of Theotokos, applied by ancient piety to the Virgin Mary, signifying that she was the mother of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ,—and taught that God the Word and the man Christ Jesus were different persons under the same appearance. This was contrary to the Scripture, which said that “the Word was made flesh,” and that God
purchased the Church with his own blood ;” implying evidently that one and the same person, who was both God and man, had died for the sins of the world. A council of two hundred bishops at Ephesus, and which the
A.D. 431. Church reckons as the THIRD ECUMENICAL SYNOD, condemned the errors of Nestorius; and the decision, though disputed for a short time by the bishops of Syria under some feelings of jealousy, was speedily adopted by the whole Christian world.t St. Cyril of Alexandria had the honour
[Nestorius hardly has justice done him, by this statement. Fear of the Apollinarian heresy, and a predilection for the peculiar tenets and interpretations of the Antiochian school, made him over tenacious in opposition to phraseology adopted by the Alexandrian school: but the most accurate investigations leave little room for doubt that he did not teach the heretical doctrine afterwards put forth by some who took part in the dispute, and bore his name.--Am. Ed.]
t[The “decision" of the Council was, more properly speaking, its testimony to the fact that the Church had always held the doctrine of the union of the Divine and human natures in the one person of the Lord Jesus. From this testimony the Bishops of Syria did not dissent. Their difference was