|John Henry Newman
The Arians of the Fourth Century
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The Arians of the Fourth Century
Chapter IV: Councils in the Reign of Constantius
Section 1: The Eusebians
The death of Arius was productive of no important consequences in the history of his party. They had never deferred to him as their leader, and since the Nicene Council had even abandoned his creed. The theology of the Eclectics had opened to Eusebius of Cæsarea a language less obnoxious to the Catholics and to Constantine, than that into which he had been betrayed in Palestine; while his namesake, possessing the confidence of the Emperor, was enabled to wield weapons more decisive in the controversy than those which Arius had used. From that time Semi-Arianism was their profession, and calumny their weapon, for the deposition, by legal process, of their Catholic opponents. This is the character of their proceedings from A.D. 328 to A.D. 350; when circumstances led them to adopt a third creed, and enabled them to support it by open force.
It may at first sight excite our surprise, that men who were so little careful to be consistent in their professions of faith, should be at the pains to find evasions for a test, which they might have subscribed as a matter of course, and then dismissed from their thoughts. But, not to mention the natural desire of continuing an opposition to which they had once committed themselves, and especially after a defeat, there is, moreover, that in religious mysteries which is ever distasteful to secular minds. The marvellous, which is sure to excite the impatience and resentment of the baffled reason, becomes insupportable when found in those solemn topics, which it would fain look upon, as necessary indeed for the uneducated, but irrelevant when addressed to those who are already skilled in the knowledge and the superficial decencies of virtue. The difficulties of science may be dismissed from the mind, and virtually forgotten; the precepts of morality, imperative as they are, may be received with the condescension, and applied with the modifications, of a self-applauding refinement. But what at once demands attention, yet refuses to satisfy curiosity, places itself above the human mind, imprints on it the thought of Him who is eternal, and enforces the necessity of obedience for its own sake. And thus it becomes to the proud and irreverent, what the consciousness of guilt is to the sinner; a spectre haunting the field, and disturbing the complacency, of their intellectual investigations. In this at least, throughout their changes, the Eusebians are consistent,—in their hatred of the Sacred Mystery.
It has sometimes been scornfully said, on the other hand, that the zeal of Christians, in the discussion of theological subjects, has increased with the mysteriousness of the doctrine in dispute. There is no reason why we should shrink from the avowal. Doubtless, a subject that is dear to us, does become more deeply fixed in our affections by its very peculiarities and incidental obscurities. We desire to revere what we already love; and we seek for the materials of reverence in such parts of it, as exceed our intelligence or imagination. It should therefore excite our devout gratitude, to reflect how the truth has been revealed to us in Scripture in the most practical manner; so as both to humble and to win over, while it consoles, those who really love it. Moreover, with reference to the particular mystery under consideration, since a belief in our Lord’s Divinity is closely connected (how, it matters not) with deep religious feeling generally,—involving a sense both of our need and of the value of the blessings which He has procured for us, and an emancipation from the tyranny of the visible world,—it is not wonderful, that those, who would confine our knowledge of God to things seen, should dislike to hear of His true and only Image. If the unbeliever has attempted to account for the rise of the doctrine, by the alleged natural growth of a veneration for the Person and acts of the Redeemer, let it at least be allowed to Christians to reverse the process of argument, and to maintain rather, that a low estimation of the evangelical blessings leads to unworthy conceptions of the Author of them. In the case of laymen it will show itself in a sceptical neglect of the subject of religion altogether; while ecclesiastics, on whose minds religion is forced, are tempted either to an undue exaltation of their order, or to a creed dishonourable to their Lord. The Eusebians adopted the latter alternative, and so merged the supremacy of Divine Truth amid the multifarious religions and philosophies of the world.
Their skilfulness in reasoning and love of disputation afford us an additional explanation of their pertinacious opposition to the Nicene Creed. Though, in possessing the favour of the Imperial Court, they had already the substantial advantages of victory, they disdained success without a battle. They loved the excitement of suspense, and the triumph of victory. And this sophistical turn of mind accounts, not only for their incessant wranglings, but for their frequent changes of view, as regards the doctrine in dispute. It may be doubted whether men, so practised in the gymnastics of the Aristotelic school, could carefully develope and consistently maintain a definite view of doctrine; especially in a case, where the difficulties of an unsound cause combined with their own habitual restlessness and levity to defeat the attempt. Accordingly, in their conduct of the argument, they seem to be aiming at nothing beyond “living from hand to mouth,” as the saying is; availing themselves of some or other expedient, which would suffice to carry them through existing difficulties; admissions, whether to satisfy the timid conscience of Constantius, or to deceive the Western Church; or statements so faintly precise and so decently ambiguous, as to embrace the greatest number of opinions possible, and to deprive religion, in consequence, of its austere and commanding aspect.
That I may not seem to be indulging in vague accusation, I here present the reader with a sketch of the lives of the chief of them; from which he will be able to decide, whether the above explanation of their conduct is unnecessary or gratuitous.
The most distinguished of the party, after Eusebius himself, for ability, learning, and unscrupulousness, was Acacius, the successor of the other Eusebius in the see of Cæsarea. He had been his pupil, and on his death inherited his library. Jerome ranks him among the most learned commentators on Scripture. The Arian historian, Philostorgius, praises his boldness, penetration, and perspicuity in unfolding his views: and Sozomen speaks of his talents and influence as equal to the execution of the most difficult designs. He began at first with professing himself a Semi-Arian after the example of Eusebius, his master; next, he became the founder of the party, which will presently be described as the Homœan or Scriptural; thirdly, he joined himself to the Anomœans or pure Arians, so as even to be the intimate associate of the wretched Aetius; fourthly, at the command of Constantius, he deserted and excommunicated him; fifthly, in the reign of the Catholic Jovian, he signed the Homoüsion or symbol of Nicæa.
George, of Laodicæa, another of the leading members of the Eusebian party, was originally a presbyter of the Alexandrian Church, and deposed by Alexander for the assistance afforded by him to Arius at Nicomedia. At the end of the reign of Constantius, he professed for a while the sentiments of the Semi-Arians; whether seriously or not, we have not the means of deciding, although the character given of him by Athanasius, who is generally candid in his judgments, is unfavourable to his sincerity. Certainly he deserted the Semi-Arians in no long time, and died an Anomœan. He is also accused of open and habitual irregularities of life.
Leontius, the most crafty of his party, was promoted by the Arians to the see of Antioch; and though a pupil of the school of Lucian, and consistently attached to the opinions of Arius throughout his life, he seems to have conducted himself in his high position with moderation and good temper. The Catholic party was at that time still strong in the city, particularly among the laity; the crimes of Stephen and Placillus, his immediate Arian predecessors, had brought discredit on the heretical cause; and the theological opinions of Constantius, who was attached to the Semi-Arian doctrine, rendered it dangerous to avow the plain blasphemies of the first founder of their creed. Accordingly, with the view of seducing the Catholics to his own communion, he was anxious to profess an agreement with the Church, even where he held an opposite opinion; and we are told that in the public doxology, which was practically the test of faith, not even the nearest to him in the congregation could hear from him more than the words “for ever and ever,” with which it concludes. It was apparently with the same design, that he converted the almshouses of the city, destined for the reception of strangers, into seminaries for propagating the Christian faith; and published a panegyrical account of St. Babylas, when his body was to be removed to Daphne, by way of consecrating a place which had been before devoted to sensual excesses. In the meanwhile, he gradually weakened the Church, by a systematic promotion of heretical, and a discountenance of the orthodox Clergy; one of his most scandalous acts being his ordination of Aetius, the founder of the Anomœans, who was afterwards promoted to the episcopacy in the reign of Julian.
Eudoxius, the successor of Leontius, in the see of Antioch, was his fellow-pupil in the school of Lucian. He is said to have been converted to Semi-Arianism by the writings of the Sophist Asterius; but he afterwards joined the Anomœans, and got possession of the patriarchate of Constantinople. It was there, at the dedication of the cathedral of St. Sophia, that he uttered the wanton impiety, which has characterized him with a distinctness, which supersedes all historical notice of his conduct, or discussion of his religious opinions. “When Eudoxius,” says Socrates, “had taken his seat on the episcopal throne, his first words were these celebrated ones, ‘the Father is [asebes], irreligious; the Son [eusebes], religious.’ When a noise and confusion ensued, he added, ‘Be not distressed at what I say; for the Father is irreligious, as worshipping none; but the Son is religious towards the Father.’ On this the tumult ceased, and in its place an intemperate laughter seized the congregation; and it remains as a good saying even to this time.”
Valens, Bishop of Mursa, in Pannonia, shall close this list of Eusebian Prelates. He was one of the immediate disciples of Arius; and, from an early age, the champion of his heresy in the Latin Church. In the conduct of the controversy, he inherited more of the plain dealing as well as of the principles of his master, than his associates; he was an open advocate of the Anomœan doctrine, and by his personal influence with Constantius balanced the power of the Semi-Arian party, derived from the Emperor’s private attachment to their doctrine. The favour of Constantius was gained by a fortunate artifice, at the time the latter was directing his arms against the tyrant Magnentius. “While the two armies were engaged in the plains of Mursa,” says Gibbon, “and the fate of the two rivals depended on the chance of war, the son of Constantine passed the anxious moments in a church of the martyrs, under the walls of the city. His spiritual comforter Valens, the Arian Bishop of the diocese, employed the most artful precautions to obtain such early intelligence, as might secure either his favour or his escape. A secret chain of swift and trusty messengers informed him of the vicissitudes of the battle; and while the courtiers stood trembling around their affrighted master, Valens assured him that the Gallic legions gave way; and insinuated, with some presence of mind, that the glorious event had been revealed to him by an Angel. The grateful Emperor ascribed his success to the merits and intercession of the Bishop of Mursa, whose faith had deserved the public and miraculous approbation of Heaven.”
Such were the leaders of the Eusebian or Court faction; and on the review of them, do we not seem to see in each a fresh exhibition of their great type and forerunner, Paulus, on one side or other of his character, though surpassing him in extravagance of conduct, as possessing a wider field, and more powerful incentives for ambitious and energetic exertion? We see the same accommodation of the Christian Creed to the humour of an earthly Sovereign, the same fertility of disputation in support of their version of it, the same reckless profanation of things sacred, the same patient dissemination of error for the services of the age after them; and, if they are free from the personal immoralities of their master, they balance this favourable trait of character by the cruel and hard-hearted temper, which discovers itself in their persecution of the Catholics.
This persecution was conducted till the middle of the century according to the outward forms of ecclesiastical law. Charges of various kinds were preferred in Council against the orthodox prelates of the principal sees, with a profession at least of regularity, whatever unfairness there might be in the details of the proceedings. By this means all the most powerful Churches of Eastern Christendom, by the commencement of the reign of Constantius (A.D. 337), had been brought under the influence of the Arians; Constantinople, Heraclea, Hadrianople, Ephesus, Ancyra, both Cæsareas, Antioch, Laodicæa, and Alexandria. Eustathius of Antioch, for instance, had incurred their hatred, by his strenuous resistance to the heresy in the seat of its first origin. After the example of his immediate predecessor Philogonius, he refused communion to Stephen, Leontius, Eudoxius, George, and others; and accused Eusebius of Cæsarea openly of having violated the faith of Nicæa. The heads of the party assembled in Council at Antioch; and, on charges of heresy and immorality, which they professed to be satisfactorily maintained, pronounced sentence of deposition against him. Constantine banished him to Philippi, together with a considerable number of the priests and deacons of his Church. So again, Marcellus of Ancyra, another of their inveterate opponents, was deposed, anathematized, and banished by them, with greater appearance of justice, on the ground of his leaning to the errors of Sabellius. But their most rancorous enmity and most persevering efforts were directed against the high-minded Patriarch of Alexandria; and, in illustration of their principles and conduct, the circumstances of his first persecution shall here be briefly related.
When Eusebius of Nicomedia failed to effect the restoration of Arius into the Alexandrian Church by persuasion, he had threatened to gain his end by harsher means. Calumnies were easily invented against the man who had withstood his purpose; and it so happened, that willing tools were found on the spot for conducting the attack. The Meletian sectaries have already been noticed, as being the original associates of Arius; who had troubled the Church by taking part in their schism, before he promulgated his peculiar heresy. They were called after Meletius, Bishop of Lycopolis in the Thebaid; who, being deposed for lapsing in the Dioclesian persecution, separated from the Catholics, and, propagating a spurious succession of clergy by his episcopal prerogative, formed a powerful body in the heart of the Egyptian Church. The Council of Nicæa, desirous of terminating the disorder in the most temperate manner, instead of deposing the Meletian bishops, had arranged, that they should retain a nominal rank in the sees, in which they had respectively placed themselves; while, by forbidding them to exercise their episcopal functions, it provided for the termination of the schism at their death. But, with the bad fortune which commonly attends conciliatory measures, unless accompanied by such a display of vigour as shows that concession is but condescension, the clemency was forgotten in the restriction, which irritated, without repressing them; and, being bent on the overthrow of the dominant Church, they made a sacrifice of their principles, which had hitherto been orthodox, and joined the Eusebians. By this intrigue, the latter gained an entrance into the Egyptian Church, as effectual as that which had already been opened to them, by means of their heresy itself, in Syria and Asia Minor
Charges against Athanasius were produced and examined in Councils successively held at Cæsarea and Tyre (A.D. 333-335); the Meletians being the accusers, and the Eusebians the judges in the trial. At an earlier date, it had been attempted to convict him of political offences; but, on examination, Constantine became satisfied of his innocence. It had been represented, that, of his own authority, he had imposed and rigorously exacted a duty upon the Egyptian linen cloth; the pretended tribute being in fact nothing beyond the offerings, which pious persons had made to the Church, in the shape of vestments for the service of the sanctuary. It had moreover been alleged, that he had sent pecuniary aid to one Philumenus, who was in rebellion against the Emperor; as at a later period they accused him of a design of distressing Constantinople, by stopping the corn vessels of Alexandria, destined for the supply of the metropolis.
The charges brought against him before these Councils were both of a civil and of an ecclesiastical character; that he, or Macarius, one of his deacons, had broken a consecrated chalice, and the holy table itself, and had thrown the sacred books into the fire; next, that he had killed Arsenius, a Meletian bishop, whose hand, amputated and preserved for magical purposes, had been found in Athanasius’s house. The latter of these strange accusations was refuted at the Council of Cæsarea by Arsenius himself, whom Athanasius had gained, and who, on the production of a human hand at the trial, presented himself before the judges, thus destroying the circumstantial evidence by which it was to be identified as his. The former charge was refuted at Tyre by the testimony of the Egyptian bishops; who, after exposing the equivocating evidence of the accuser, went on to prove that at the place where their Metropolitan was said to have broken the chalice, there was neither church, nor altar, nor chalice, existing. These were the principal allegations brought against him; and their extraordinary absurdity, (certain as the charges are as matters of history, from evidence of various kinds,) can only be accounted for by supposing, that the Eusebians were even then too powerful and too bold, to care for much more than the bare forms of law, or to scruple at any evidence, which the unskilfulness of their Egyptian coadjutors might set before them. A charge of violence in his conduct towards certain Meletians was added to the above; and, as some say, a still more frivolous accusation of incontinence, but whether this was ever brought, is more than doubtful.
Cæsarea and Tyre were places too public even for the audacity of the Eusebians, when the facts of the case were so plainly in favour of the accused. It was now proposed that a commission of inquiry should be sent to the Mareotis, which was in the neighbourhood, and formed part of the diocese, of Alexandria, and was the scene of the alleged profanation of the sacred chalice. The leading members of this commission were Valens and Ursacius, Theognis, Maris, and two others, all Eusebians; they took with them the chief accuser of Athanasius as their guide and host, leaving Athanasius and Macarius at Tyre, and refusing admittance into the court of inquiry to such of the clergy of the Mareotis, as were desirous of defending their Bishop’s interests in his absence. The issue of such proceedings may be anticipated. On the return of the commission to Tyre, Athanasius was formally condemned of rebellion, sedition, and a tyrannical use of his episcopal power, of murder, sacrilege, and magic; was deposed from the see of Alexandria, and prohibited from ever returning to that city. Constantine confirmed the sentence of the Council, and Athanasius was banished to Gaul.
It has often been remarked that persecutions of Christians, as in St. Paul’s case, “fall out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel.” [Phil. i. 12.] The dispersion of the disciples, after the martyrdom of St. Stephen, introduced the word of truth together with themselves among the Samaritans; and in the case before us, the exile of Athanasius led to his introduction to the younger Constantine, son of the great Emperor of that name, who warmly embraced his cause, and gave him the opportunity of rousing the zeal, and gaining the personal friendship of the Catholics of the West. Constans also, another son of Constantine, declared in his favour; and thus, on the death of their father, which took place two years after the Council of Tyre, one third alone of his power, in the person of the Semi-Arian Constantius, Emperor of the East, remained with that party, which, while Constantine lived, was able to wield the whole strength of the State against the orthodox Bishops. The support of the Roman See was a still more important advantage gained by Athanasius. Rome was the natural mediator between Alexandria and Antioch, and at that time possessed extensive influence among the Churches of the West. Accordingly, when Constantius re-commenced the persecution, to which his father had been persuaded, the exiles betook themselves to Rome; and about the year 340 or 341 we read of Bishops from Thrace, Syria, Phœnicia, and Palestine, collected there, besides a multitude of Presbyters, and among the former, Athanasius himself, Marcellus, Asciepas of Gaza, and Luke of Hadrianople. The first act of the Roman See in their favour was the holding a provincial Council, in which the charges against Athanasius and Marcellus were examined, and pronounced to be untenable. And its next act was to advocate the summoning of a Council of the whole Church with the same purpose, referring it to Athanasius to select a place of meeting, where his cause might be secure of a more impartial hearing, than it had met with at Cæsarea and Tyre.
The Eusebians, on the other hand, perceiving the danger which their interests would sustain, should a Council be held at any distance from their own peculiar territory, determined on anticipating the projected Council by one of their own, in which they might both confirm the sentence of deposition against Athanasius, and, if possible, contrive a confession of faith, to allay the suspicions which the Occidentals entertained of their orthodoxy. This was the occasion of the Council of the Dedication, as it is called, held by them at Antioch, in the year 341, and which is one of the most celebrated Councils of the century. It was usual to solemnize the consecration of places of worship, by an attendance of the principal prelates of the neighbouring districts; and the great Church of the Metropolis of Syria, called the Dominicum Aureum, which had just been built, afforded both the pretext and the name to their assembly. Between ninety and a hundred bishops came together on this occasion, all Arians or Arianizers, and agreed without difficulty upon the immediate object of the Council, the ratification of the Synods of Cæsarea and Tyre in condemnation of Athanasius.
So far their undertaking was in their own hands; but a more difficult task remained behind, viz., to gain the approval and consent of the Western Church, by an exposition of the articles of their faith. Not intending to bind themselves by the decision at Nicæa, they had to find some substitute for the Homoüsion. With this view four, or even five creeds, more or less resembling the Nicene in language, were successively adopted. The first was that ascribed to the martyr Lucian, though doubts are entertained concerning its genuineness. It is in itself almost unexceptionable; and, had there been no controversies on the subjects contained in it, would have been a satisfactory evidence of the orthodoxy of its promulgators. The Son is therein styled the exact Image of the substance, will, power, and glory of the Father; and the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity are said to be three in substance, one in will. An evasive condemnation was added of the Arian tenets; sufficient, as it might seem, to delude the Latins, who were unskilled in the subtleties of the question. For instance, it was denied that our Lord was born “in time,” but in the heretical school, as was shown above, time was supposed to commence with the creation of the world; and it was denied that He was “in the number of the creatures,” it being their doctrine, that He was the sole immediate work of God, and, as such, not like others, but separate from the whole creation, of which indeed He was the author. Next, for some or other reason, two new creeds were proposed, and partially adopted by the Council; the same in character of doctrine, but shorter. These three were all circulated, and more or less received in the neighbouring Churches; but, on consideration, none of them seemed adequate to the object in view, that of recommending the Eusebians to the distant Churches of the West. Accordingly, a fourth formulary was drawn up after a few months’ delay, among others by Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, a Semi-Arian Bishop of religious character, afterwards to be mentioned; its composers were deputed to present it to Constans; and, this creed proving unsatisfactory, a fifth confession was drawn up with considerable care and ability; though it too failed to quiet the suspicions of the Latins. This last is called the Macrostich, from the number of its paragraphs, and did not make its appearance till three years after the former.
In truth, no such exposition of the Catholic faith could satisfy the Western Christians, while they were witnesses to the exile of its great champion on account of his fidelity to it. Here the Eusebians were wanting in their usual practical shrewdness. Words, however orthodox, could not weigh against so plain a fact. The Occidentals, however unskilled in the niceties of the Greek language, were able to ascertain the heresy of the Eusebians in their malevolence towards Athanasius. Nay, the anxious attempts of his enemies, to please them by means of a confession of faith, were a refutation of their pretences. For, inasmuch as the sense of the Catholic world, had already been recorded in the Homoüsion, why should they devise a new formulary, if after all they agreed with the Church? or, why should they themselves be so fertile in confessions, if they had all of them but one faith? It is brought against them by Athanasius, that in their creeds they date their exposition of the Catholic doctrine, as if it were something new, instead simply of its being declared, which was the sole design of the Nicene Fathers; while at other times, they affected to acknowledge the authority of former Councils, which nevertheless they were indirectly opposing. Under these circumstances the Roman Church, as the representative of the Latins, only became more bent upon the convocation of a General Council in which the Nicene Creed might be ratified, and any innovation upon it reprobated; and the innocence of Athanasius, which it had already ascertained in its provincial Synod, might be formally proved, and proclaimed to the whole of Christendom. This object was at length accomplished. Constans, whom Athanasius had visited and gained, successfully exerted his influence with his brother Constantius, the Emperor of the East; and a Council of the whole Christian world was summoned at Sardica for the above purposes, the exculpation of Marcellus and others being included with that of Athanasius.
Sardica was chosen as the place of meeting, as lying on the confines of the two divisions of the Empire. It is on the borders of Mœsia, Thrace, and Illyricum, and at the foot of Mount Hæmus, which separates it from Philippopolis. There the heads of the Christian world assembled in the year 347, twenty-two years after the Nicene Council, in number above 380 bishops, of whom seventy-six were Arian. The President of the Council was the venerable Hosius; whose name was in itself a pledge, that the decision of Nicæa was simply to be preserved, and no fresh question raised on a subject already exhausted by controversy. But, almost before the opening of the Council, matters were brought to a crisis; a schism took place in its members; the Arians retreated to Philippopolis, and there excommunicated the leaders of the orthodox, Julius of Rome, Hosius, and Protogenes of Sardica, issued a sixth confession of faith, and confirmed the proceedings of the Antiochene Council against Athanasius and the other exiles.
This secession of the Arians arose in consequence of their finding, that Athanasius was allowed a seat in the Council; the discussions of which they refused to attend, while a Bishop took part in them, who had already been deposed by Synods of the East. The orthodox replied, that a later Council, held at Rome, had fully acquitted and restored him; moreover, that to maintain his guilt was but to assume the principal point, which they were then assembled to debate; and, though very consistent with their absenting themselves from the Council altogether, could not be permitted to those, who had by their coming recognized the object, for which it was called. Accordingly, without being moved by their retreat, the Council proceeded to the condemnation of some of the more notorious opponents among them of the Creed of Nicæa, examined the charges against Athanasius and the rest, reviewed the acts of the investigations at Tyre and the Mareotis, which the Eusebians had sent to Rome in their defence, and confirmed the decree of the Council of Rome, in favour of the accused. Constans enforced this decision on his brother by the arguments peculiar to a monarch; and the timid Constantius, yielding to fear what he denied to justice, consented to restore to Alexandria a champion of the truth, who had been condemned on the wildest of charges, by the most hostile and unprincipled of judges.
The journey of Athanasius to Alexandria elicited the fullest and most satisfactory testimonies of the real orthodoxy of the Eastern Christians; in spite of the existing cowardice or misapprehension, which surrendered them to the tyrannical rule of a few determined and energetic heretics. The Bishops of Palestine, one of the chief holds of the Arian spirit, welcomed, with the solemnity of a Council, a restoration, which, under the circumstances of the case, was almost a triumph over their own sovereign; and so excited was the Catholic feeling even at Antioch, that Constantius feared to grant to the Athanasians a single Church in that city, lest it should have been the ruin of the Arian cause.
One of the more important consequences of the Council of Sardica, was the public recantation of Valens, and his accomplice Ursacius, Bishop of Singidon, in Pannonia, two of the most inveterate enemies and calumniators of Athanasius. It was addressed to the Bishop of Rome, and was conceived in the following terms: “Whereas we are known heretofore to have preferred many grievous charges against Athanasius the Bishop, and, on being put on our defence by your excellency, have failed to make good our charges, we declare to your excellency, in the presence of all the presbyters, our brethren, that all which we have heretofore heard against the aforesaid, is false, and altogether foreign to his character; and therefore, that we heartily embrace the communion of the aforesaid Athanasius, especially considering your Holiness, according to your habitual clemency, has condescended to pardon our mistake. Further we declare, that, should the Orientals at any time, or Athanasius, from resentful feelings, be desirous to bring us to account, that we will not act in the matter without your sanction. As for the heretic Arius, and his partisans, who say that ‘Once the Son was not,’ that ‘He is of created Substance,’ and that ‘He is not the Son of God before all time,’ we anathematize them now, and once for all, according to our former statement which we presented at Milan. Witness our hand, that we condemn once for all the Arian heresy, as we have already said, and its advocates. Witness also the hand of Ursacius.—I, Ursacius the Bishop, have set my name to this statement.”
The Council of Milan, referred to in the conclusion of this letter, seems to have been held A.D. 347; two years after the Arian creed, called Macrostich, was sent into the West, and shortly after the declaration of Constans in favour of the restoration of the Athanasians.