|John Henry Newman
The Arians of the Fourth Century
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The Arians of the Fourth Century
Section 1: The Church of Antioch
It is proposed in the following pages to trace the outlines of the history of Arianism, between the first and the second General Councils. These are its natural chronological limits, whether by Arianism we mean a heresy or a party in the Church. In the Council held at Nicæa, in Bithynia, A.D. 325, it was formally detected and condemned. In the subsequent years it ran its course, through various modifications of opinion, and with various success, till the date of the second General Council, held A.D. 381, at Constantinople, when the resources of heretical subtilty being at length exhausted, the Arian party was ejected from the Catholic body, and formed into a distinct sect, exterior to it. It is during this period, while it still maintained its hold upon the creeds and the government of the Church, that it especially invites the attention of the student in ecclesiastical history. Afterwards, Arianism presents nothing new in its doctrine, and is only remarkable as becoming the animating principle of a second series of persecutions, when the barbarians of the North, who were infected with it, possessed themselves of the provinces of the Roman Empire.
The line of history which is thus limited by the two first Ecumenical Councils, will be found to pass through a variety of others, provincial and patriarchal, which form easy and intelligible breaks in it, and present the heretical doctrine in the various stages of its impiety. These, accordingly, shall be taken as cardinal points for our narrative to rest upon;—and it will matter little in the result, whether it be called a history of the Councils, or of Arianism, between the eras already marked out.
However, it is necessary to direct the reader’s attention in the first place, to the state of parties and schools, in and about the Church, at the time of its rise, and to the sacred doctrine which it assailed, in order to obtain a due insight into the history of the controversy; and the discussions which these subjects involve, will occupy a considerable portion of the volume. I shall address myself without delay to this work; and, in this chapter, propose first to observe upon the connexion of Arianism with the Church of Antioch, and upon the state and genius of that Church in primitive times. This shall be the subject of the present section: in those which follow, I shall consider its relation towards the heathen philosophies and heresies then prevalent; and towards the Church of Alexandria, to which, though with very little show of reasoning, it is often referred. The consideration of the doctrine of the Trinity shall form the second chapter.
During the third century, the Church of Antioch was more or less acknowledged as the metropolis of Syria, Cilicia, Phœnicia, Comagene, Osrhoene, and Mesopotamia, in which provinces it afterwards held patriarchal sway. It had been the original centre of Apostolical missions among the heathen; and claimed St. Peter himself for its first bishop, who had been succeeded by Ignatius, Theophilus, Babylas, and others of sacred memory in the universal Church, as champions and martyrs of the faith. The secular importance of the city added to the influence which accrued to it from the religious associations thus connected with its name, especially when the Emperors made Syria the seat of their government. This ancient and celebrated Church, however, is painfully conspicuous in the middle of the century, as affording so open a manifestation of the spirit of Antichrist, as to fulfil almost literally the prophecy of the Apostle in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians. Paulus, of Samosata, who was raised to the see of Antioch not many years after the martyrdom of Babylas, after holding the episcopate for ten years, was deposed by a Council of eastern bishops, held in that city A.D. 272, on the ground of his heretical notions concerning the nature of Christ. His original calling seems to have been that of a sophist; how he obtained admittance into the clerical order is unknown; his elevation, or at least his continuance in the see, he owed to the celebrated Zenobia, to whom his literary attainments, and his political talents, may be supposed to have recommended him. Whatever were the personal virtues of the Queen of the East, who is said to have been a Jewess by birth or creed, it is not surprising that she was little solicitous for the credit or influence of the Christian Church within her dominions. The character of Paulus is consigned to history in the Synodal Letter of the bishops, written at the time of his condemnation; which, being circulated through the Church, might fairly be trusted, even though the high names of Gregory of Neocæsarea and Firmilian were not found in the number of his judges. He is therein charged with a rapacity, an arrogance, a vulgar ostentation and desire of popularity, an extraordinary profaneness, and a profligacy, which cannot but reflect seriously upon the Church and clergy which elected, and so long endured him. As to his heresy, it is difficult to determine what were his precise sentiments concerning the Person of Christ, though they were certainly derogatory of the doctrine of His absolute divinity and eternal existence. Indeed, it is probable that he had not any clear view on the solemn subject on which he allowed himself to speculate; nor had any wish to make proselytes, and form a party in the Church. Ancient writers inform us that his heresy was a kind of Judaism in doctrine, adopted to please his Jewish patroness; and, if originating in this motive, it was not likely to be very systematic or profound. His habits, too, as a sophist, would dispose him to employ himself in attacks upon the Catholic doctrine, and in irregular discussion, rather than in the sincere effort to obtain some definite conclusions, to satisfy his own mind or convince others. And the supercilious spirit, which the Synodal letter describes as leading him to express contempt for the divines who preceded him at Antioch, would naturally occasion incaution in his theories, and a carelessness about guarding them from inconsistencies, even where he perceived them. Indeed, the Primate of Syria had already obtained the highest post to which ambition could aspire, and had nothing to labour for; and having, as we find, additional engagements as a civil magistrate, he would still less be likely to covet the barren honours of an heresiarch. A sect, it is true, was formed upon his tenets, and called after his name, and has a place in ecclesiastical history till the middle of the fifth century; but it never was a considerable body, and even as early as the date of the Nicene Council had split into parties, differing by various shades of heresy from the orthodox faith. We shall have a more correct notion, then, of the heresy of Paulus, if we consider him as the founder of a school rather than of a sect, as encouraging in the Church the use of those disputations and sceptical inquiries, which belonged to the Academy and other heathen philosophies, and as scattering up and down the seeds of errors, which sprang up and bore fruit in the generation after him. In confirmation of this view, which is suggested by his original vocation, by the temporal motives which are said to have influenced him, and by his inconsistencies, it may be observed, that his intimate friend and fellow-countryman, Lucian, who schismatized or was excommunicated on his deposition, held heretical tenets of a diametrically opposite nature, that is, such as were afterwards called Semi-Arian, Paulus himself advocating a doctrine which nearly resembled what is commonly called the Sabellian.
More shall be said concerning Paulus of Samosata presently; but now let us advance to the history of this Lucian, a man of learning, and at length a martyr, but who may almost be considered the author of Arianism. It is very common, though evidently illogical, to attribute the actual rise of one school of opinion to another, from some real or supposed similarity in their respective tenets. It is thus, for instance, Platonism, or again, Origenism, has been assigned as the actual source from which Arianism was derived. Now, Lucian’s doctrine is known to have been precisely the same as that species of Arianism afterwards called Semi-Arianism; but it is not on that account that I here trace the rise of Arianism to Lucian. There is an historical, and not merely a doctrinal connexion between him and the Arian party. In his school are found, in matter of fact, the names of most of the original advocates of Arianism, and all those who were the most influential in their respective Churches throughout the East:—Arius himself, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Leontius, Eudoxius, Asterius, and others, who will be familiar to us in the sequel; and these men actually appealed to him as their authority, and adopted from him the party designation of Collucianists. In spite of this undoubted connexion between Lucian and the Arians, we might be tempted to believe, that the assertions of the latter concerning his heterodoxy, originated in their wish to implicate a man of high character in the censures which the Church directed against themselves, were it not undeniable, that during the times of the three bishops who successively followed Paulus, Lucian was under excommunication. The Catholics too, are silent in his vindication, and some of them actually admit his unsoundness in faith. However, ten or fifteen years before his martyrdom, he was reconciled to the Church; and we may suppose that he then recanted whatever was heretical in his creed: and his glorious end was allowed to wipe out from the recollection of Catholics of succeeding times those passages of his history, which nevertheless were so miserable in their results in the age succeeding his own. Chrysostom’s panegyric on the festival of his martyrdom is still extant, Ruffinus mentions him in honourable terms, and Jerome praises his industry, erudition, and eloquence in writing.
Such is the historical connexion at the very first sight between the Arian party and the school of Antioch: corroborative evidence will hereafter appear, in the similarity of character which exists between the two bodies. At present, let it be taken as a confirmation of a fact, which Lucian’s history directly proves, that Eusebius the historian, who is suspected of Arianism, and his friend Paulinus of Tyre, one of its first and principal supporters, though not pupils of Lucian, were more or less educated, and the latter ordained at Antioch; while in addition to the Arian bishops at Nicæa already mentioned, Theodotus of Laodicea, Gregory of Berytus, Narcissus of Neronias, and two others, who were all supporters of Arianism at the Council, were all situated within the ecclesiastical influence, and some of them in the vicinity of Antioch; so that (besides Arius himself), of thirteen, who according to Theodoret, arianized at the Council, nine are referable to the Syrian patriarchate. If we continue the history of the controversy, we have fresh evidence of the connexion between Antioch and Arianism. During the interval between the Nicene Council and the death of Constantius (A.D. 325-361), Antioch is the metropolis of the heretical, as Alexandria of the orthodox party. At Antioch, the heresy recommenced its attack upon the Church after the decision at Nicæa. In a Council held at Antioch, it first showed itself in the shape of Semi-Arianism, when Lucian’s creed was produced. There, too, in this and subsequent Councils, negotiations on the doctrine in dispute were conducted with the Western Church. At Antioch, lastly, and at Tyre, a suffragan see, the sentence of condemnation was pronounced upon Athanasius.
Hitherto I have spoken of individuals as the authors of the apostasy which is to engage our attention in the following chapters; but there is reason to fear that men like Paulus were but symptoms of a corrupted state of the Church. The history of the times gives us sufficient evidence of the luxuriousness of Antioch; and it need scarcely be said, that coldness in faith is the sure consequence of relaxation of morals. Here, however, passing by this consideration, which is too obvious to require dwelling upon, I would rather direct the reader’s attention to the particular form which the Antiochene corruptions seem to have assumed, viz., that of Judaism; which at that time, it must be recollected, was the creed of an existing nation, acting upon the Church, and not merely, as at this day, a system of opinions more or less discoverable among professing Christians.
The fortunes of the Jewish people had experienced a favourable change since the reign of Hadrian. The violence of Roman persecution had been directed against the Christian Church; while the Jews, gradually recovering their strength, and obtaining permission to settle and make proselytes to their creed, at length became an influential political body in the neighbourhood of their ancient home, especially in the Syrian provinces which were at that time the chief residence of the court. Severus (A.D. 194) is said to have been the first to extend to them the imperial favour, though he afterwards withdrew it. Heliogabalus, and Alexander, natives of Syria, gave them new privileges; and the latter went so far as to place the image of Abraham in his private chapel, among the objects of his ordinary worship. Philip the Arabian continued towards them a countenance, which was converted into an open patronage in the reign of Zenobia. During the Decian persecution, they had been sufficiently secure at Carthage, to venture to take part in the popular ridicule which the Christians excited; and they are even said to have stimulated Valerian to his cruelties towards the Church.
But this direct hostility was not the only, nor the most formidable means of harassing their religious enemies, which their improving fortunes opened upon them. With their advancement in wealth and importance, their national character displayed itself under a new exterior. The moroseness for which they were previously notorious, in great measure disappears with their dislodgment from the soil of their ancestors; and on their re-appearance as settlers in a strange land, those festive, self-indulgent habits, which, in earlier times, had but drawn on them the animadversion of their Prophets, became their distinguishing mark in the eyes of external observers. Manifesting a rancorous malevolence towards the zealous champions of the Church, they courted the Christian populace by arts adapted to captivate and corrupt the unstable and worldly-minded. Their pretensions to magical power gained them credit with the superstitious, to whom they sold amulets for the cure of diseases; their noisy spectacles attracted the curiosity of the idle, who weakened their faith, while they disgraced their profession, by attending the worship of the Synagogue. Accordingly there was formed around the Church a mixed multitude, who, without relinquishing their dependence on Christianity for the next world, sought in Judaism the promise of temporal blessings, and a more accommodating rule of life than the gospel revealed. Chrysostom found this evil so urgent at Antioch in his day, as to interrupt his course of homilies on the heresy of the Anomœans, in order to direct his preaching against the seductions to which his hearers were then exposed, by the return of the Jewish festivals. In another part of the empire, the Council of Illiberis found it necessary to forbid a superstitious custom, which had been introduced among the country people, of having recourse to the Jews for a blessing on their fields. Afterwards, Constantine made a law against the inter-marriage of Jews and Christians; and Constantius confiscated the goods of Christians who lapsed to Judaism. These successive enactments may be taken as evidence of the view entertained by the Church of her own danger, from the artifices of the Jews. Lastly, the attempt to rebuild the temple in Julian’s reign, was but the renewal of a project on their part, which Constantine had already frustrated, for reinstating their religion in its ancient ritual and country.
Such was the position of the Jews towards the primitive Church, especially in the patriarchate of Antioch; which, I have said, was their principal place of settlement, and was at one time under the civil government of a Judaizing princess, the most illustrious personage of her times, who possessed influence enough over the Christian body to seduce the Metropolitan himself from the orthodox faith.
But the evidence of the existence of Judaism, as a system, in the portion of Christendom in question, is contained in a circumstance which deserves our particular attention; the adoption, in those parts, of the quarto-deciman rule of observing Easter, when it was on the point of being discontinued in the Churches of Proconsular Asia, where it had first prevailed.
It is well known that at the close of the second century, a controversy arose between Victor, Bishop of Rome, and Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus, concerning the proper time for celebrating the Easter feast, or rather for terminating the ante-paschal fast. At that time the whole of Christendom, with the exception of Proconsular Asia (a district of about two hundred miles by fifty), and its immediate neighbourhood, continued the fast on to the Sunday after the Jewish Passover, which they kept as Easter Day as we do now, in order that the weekly and yearly commemorations of the Resurrection might coincide. But the Christians of the Proconsulate, guided by Jewish custom, ended the fast on the very day of the paschal sacrifice, without regarding the actual place held in the week by the feast, which immediately followed; and were accordingly called Quarto-decimans. Victor felt the inconvenience of this want of uniformity in the celebration of the chief Christian festival; and was urgent, even far beyond the bounds of charity, and the rights of his see, in his endeavour to obtain the compliance of the Asiatics. Polycrates, who was primate of the Quarto-deciman Churches, defended their peculiar custom by a statement which is plain and unexceptionable. They had received their rule, he said, from St. John and St. Philip the Apostles, Polycarp of Smyrna, Melito of Sardis, and others; and deemed it incumbent on them to transmit as they had received. There was nothing Judaistic in this conduct; for, though the Apostles intended the Jewish discipline to cease with those converts who were born under it, yet it was by no means clear, that its calendar came under the proscription of its rites. On the other hand, it was natural that the Asian Churches should be affectionately attached to a custom which their first founders, and their inspired teachers, had sanctioned.
But the case was very different, when Churches, which had for centuries observed the Gentile rule, adopted a custom which at the time had only existence among the Jews. The Quarto-decimans of the Proconsulate had come to an end by A.D. 276; and, up to that date, the Antiochene provinces kept their Easter feast in conformity with the Catholic usage; yet, at the time of the Nicene Council (fifty years afterwards), we find the Antiochenes the especial and solitary champions of the Jewish rule. We can scarcely doubt that they adopted it in imitation of the Jews who were settled among them, who are known to have influenced them, and who about that very date, be it observed, had a patroness in Zenobia, and, what was stranger, had almost a convert in the person of the Christian Primate. There is evidence, moreover, of the actual growth of the custom in the Patriarchate at the end of the third century; which well agrees with the hypothesis of its being an innovation, and not founded on ancient usage. And again (as was natural, supposing the change to begin at Antioch), at the date of the Nicene Council, it was established only in the Syrian Churches, and was but making its way with incomplete success in the extremities of the Patriarchate. In Mesopotamia, Audius began his schism with the characteristic of the Quarto-deciman rule, just at the date of the Council; and about the same time, Cilicia was contested between the two parties, as I gather from the conflicting statements of Constantine and Athanasius, that it did, and that it did not, conform to the Gentile custom. By the same time, the controversy had reached Egypt also. Epiphanius refers to a celebrated contest, now totally unknown, between one Crescentius and Alexander, the first defender of the Catholic faith against Arianism.
It is true that there was a third Quarto-deciman school, lying geographically between the Proconsulate and Antioch, which at first sight might seem to have been the medium by which the Jewish custom was conveyed on from the former to the latter; but there is no evidence of its existence till the end of the fourth century. In order to complete my account of the Quarto-decimans, and show more fully their relation to the Judaizers, I will here make mention of it; though, in doing so, I must somewhat digress from the main subject under consideration.
The portion of Asia Minor, lying between the Proconsulate and the river Halys, may be regarded, in the Ante-Nicene times, as one country, comprising the provinces of Phrygia, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Paphlagonia, afterwards included within the Exarchate of Cæsarea; and was then marked by a religious character of a peculiar cast. Socrates, speaking of this district, informs us, that its inhabitants were distinguished above other nations by a strictness and seriousness of manners, having neither the ferocity of the Scythians and Thracians, nor the frivolity and sensuality of the Orientals. The excellent qualities, however, implied in this description, were tarnished by the love of singularity, the spirit of insubordination and separatism, and the gloomy spiritual pride which their history evidences. St. Paul’s Epistle furnishes us with the first specimen of this unchristian temper, as evinced in the conduct of the Galatians, who, dissatisfied with the exact evangelical doctrine, aspired to some higher and more availing system than the Apostle preached to them. What the Galatians were in the first century, Montanus and Novatian became in the second and third; both authors of a harsh and arrogant discipline, both natives of the country in question, and both meeting with special success in that country, although the schism of the latter was organized at Rome, of which Church he was a presbyter. It was, moreover, the peculiarity, more or less, of both Montanists and Novatians in those parts, to differ from the general Church as to the time of observing Easter; whereas, neither in Africa nor in Rome did the two sects dissent from the received rule. What was the principle or origin of this irregularity, does not clearly appear; unless we may consider as characteristic, what seems to be the fact, that when their neighbours of the Proconsulate were Quarto-decimans, they (in the words of Socrates) “shrank from feasting on the Jewish festival” and after the others had conformed to the Gentile rule, they, on the contrary, openly judaized. This change in their practice, which took place at the end of the fourth century, was mainly effected by a Jew, of the name of Sabbatius, who becoming a convert to Christianity, rose to the episcopate in the Novatian Church. Sozomen, in giving an account of the transaction, observes that it was a national custom with the Galatians and Phrygians to judaize in their observance of Easter. Coupling this remark with Eusebius’s mention of Churches in the neighbourhood of the Proconsulate, as included among the Quarto-decimans whom Victor condemned, we may suspect that the perverse spirit which St. Paul reproves in his Epistle, and which we have been tracing in its Montanistic and Novatian varieties, still lurked in those parts in its original judaizing form, till after a course of years it was accidentally brought out by circumstances upon the public scene of ecclesiastical history. If further evidence of the connexion of the Quarto-deciman usage with Judaism be required, I may refer to Constantine’s Nicene Edict, which forbids it, among other reasons, on the ground of its being Jewish.
The evidence, which has been adduced for the existence of Judaism in the Church of Antioch, is not without its bearing upon the history of the rise of Arianism. I will not say that the Arian doctrine is the direct result of a judaizing practice; but it deserves consideration whether a tendency to derogate from the honour due to Christ, was not created by an observance of the Jewish rites, and much more, by that carnal, self-indulgent religion, which seems at that time to have prevailed in the rejected nation. When the spirit and morals of a people are materially debased, varieties of doctrinal error spring up, as if self-sown, and are rapidly propagated. While Judaism inculcated a superstitious, or even idolatrous dependence on the mere casualties of daily life, and gave license to the grosser tastes of human nature, it necessarily indisposed the mind for the severe and unexciting mysteries, the large indefinite promises, and the remote sanctions, of the Catholic faith; which fell as cold and uninviting on the depraved imagination, as the doctrines of the Divine Unity and of implicit trust in the unseen God, on the minds of the early Israelites. Those who were not constrained by the message of mercy, had time attentively to consider the intellectual difficulties which were the medium of its communication, and heard but “a hard saying” in what was sent from heaven as “tidings of great joy.” “The mind” says Hooker, “feeling present joy, is always marvellously unwilling to admit any other cogitation, and in that case, casteth off those disputes whereunto the intellectual part at other times easily draweth…The people that are said in the sixth of John to have gone after our Lord to Capernaum…leaving Him on the one side of the sea of Tiberias, and finding Him again as soon as they themselves by ship were arrived on the contrary side…as they wondered, so they asked also, ‘Rabbi, when camest Thou hither?’ The Disciples, when Christ appeared to them in a far more strange and miraculous manner, moved no question, but rejoiced greatly in what they saw…The one, because they enjoyed not, disputed; the other disputed not, because they enjoyed.”
It is also a question, whether the mere performance of the rites of the Law, of which Christ came as anti-type and repealer, has not a tendency to withdraw the mind from the contemplation of the more glorious and real images of the Gospel; so that the Christians of Antioch would diminish their reverence towards the true Saviour of man, in proportion as they trusted to the media of worship provided for a time by the Mosaic ritual. It is this consideration which accounts for the energy with which the great Apostle combats the adoption of the Jewish ordinances by the Christians of Galatia, and which might seem excessive, till vindicated by events subsequent to his own day. In the Epistle addressed to them, the Judaizers are described as men labouring under an irrational fascination, fallen from grace, and self-excluded from the Christian privileges; when in appearance they were but using, what on the one hand might be called mere external forms, and on the other, had actually been delivered to the Jews on Divine authority. Some light is thrown upon the subject by the Epistle to the Hebrews, in which it is implied throughout, that the Jewish rites, after their Antitype was come, did but conceal from the eye of faith His divinity, sovereignty, and all-sufficiency. If we turn to the history of the Church, we seem to see the evils in actual existence, which the Apostle anticipated in prophecy; that is, we see, that in the obsolete furniture of the Jewish ceremonial, there was in fact retained the pestilence of Jewish unbelief, tending (whether directly or not, at least eventually) to introduce fundamental error respecting the Person of Christ.
Before the end of the first century, this result is disclosed in the system of the Cerinthians and the Ebionites. These sects, though more or less infected with Gnosticism, were of Jewish origin, and observed the Mosaic Law; and whatever might be the minute peculiarities of their doctrinal views, they also agreed in entertaining Jewish rather than Gnostic conceptions of the Person of Christ. Ebion, especially, is characterised by his Humanitarian creed; while on the other hand, his Judaism was so notorious, that Tertullian does not scruple to describe him as virtually the object of the Apostle’s censure in his Epistle to the Galatians.
The Nazarenes are next to be noticed;—not for the influence they exercised on the belief of Christians, but as evidencing, with the sects just mentioned, the latent connection between a judaizing discipline and heresy in doctrine. Who they were, and what their tenets, has been a subject of much controversy. It is sufficient for my purpose—and so far is undoubted—that they were at the same time “zealous of the Law” and unsound in their theology; and this without being related to the Gnostic families: a circumstance which establishes them as a more cogent evidence of the real connexion of ritual with doctrinal Judaism than is furnished by the mixed theologies of Ebion and Cerinthus. It is worth observing that their declension from orthodoxy appears to have been gradual; Epiphanius is the first writer who includes them by name in the number of heretical sects.
Such are the instances of the connexion between Judaism and theological error, previously to the age of Paulus, who still more strikingly exemplifies it. First, we are in possession of his doctrinal opinions, which are grossly humanitarian; next we find, that in early times they were acknowledged to be of Jewish origin; further, that his ceremonial Judaism also was so notorious that one author even affirms that he observed the rite of circumcision: and lastly, just after his day we discover the rise of a Jewish usage, the Quarto-deciman, in the provinces of Christendom, immediately subjected to his influence.
It may be added that this view of the bearing of Judaism upon the sceptical school afterwards called Arian is countenanced by frequent passages in the writings of the contemporary Fathers, on which no stress, perhaps, could fairly be laid, were not their meaning interpreted by the above historical facts. Moreover, in the popular risings which took place in Antioch and Alexandria in favour of Arianism, the Jews sided with the heretical party; evincing thereby, not indeed any definite interest in the subject of dispute, but a sort of spontaneous feeling, that the side of heresy was their natural position; and further, that its spirit, and the character which it created, were congenial to their own. Or, again, if we consider the subject from a different point of view, and omitting dates and schools, take a general survey of Christendom during the first centuries, we shall find it divided into the same two parties, both on the Arian and the Quarto-deciman questions; Rome and Alexandria with their dependencies being the champions of the Catholic tradition in either controversy, and Palestine, Syria, and Asia Minor, being the strongholds of the opposition. And these are the two questions which occasioned the deliberations of the Nicene Fathers.
However, it is of far less consequence, as it is less certain, whether Arianism be of Jewish origin, than whether it arose at Antioch: which is the point principally insisted on in the foregoing pages. For in proportion as it is traced to Antioch, so is the charge of originating it removed from the great Alexandrian School, upon which various enemies of our Apostolical Church have been eager to fasten it. In corroboration of what has been said above on this subject, I here add the words of Alexander, in his letter to the Church of Constantinople, at the beginning of the controversy; which are of themselves decisive in evidence of the part, which Antioch had, in giving rise to the detestable blasphemy which he was combating.
“Ye are not ignorant,” he writes to the Constantinopolitan Church concerning Arianism, “that this rebellious doctrine belongs to Ebion and Artemas, and is in imitation of Paulus of Samosata, Bishop of Antioch, who was excommunicated by the sentence of the Bishops assembled in Council from all quarters. Paulus was succeeded by Lucian, who remained in separation for many years during the time of three bishops…Our present heretics have drunk up the dregs of the impiety of these men, and are their secret offspring; Arius and Achillas, and their party of evil-doers, incited as they are to greater excesses by three Syrian prelates, who agree with them…Accordingly, they have been expelled from the Church, as enemies of the pious Catholic teaching; according to St. Paul’s sentence, ‘If any man preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be anathema.’ ”