|John Henry Newman
The Arians of the Fourth Century
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The Arians of the Fourth Century
Chapter V: Councils after the Reign of Constantius
The second Ecumenical Council was held at Constantinople, A.D. 381-383. It is celebrated in the history of theology for its condemnation of the Macedonians, who, separating the Holy Spirit from the unity of the Father and Son, implied or inferred that He was a creature. A brief account of it is here added in its ecclesiastical aspect; the doctrine itself, to which it formally bore witness, having been incidentally discussed in the second Chapter of this Volume.
Eight years before the date of this Council, Athanasius had been taken to his rest. After a life of contest, prolonged, in spite of the hardships he encountered, beyond the age of seventy years, he fell asleep in peaceable possession of the Churches, for which he had suffered. The Council of Alexandria was scarcely concluded, when he was denounced by Julian, and saved his life by flight or concealment. Returning on Jovian’s accession, he was, for a fifth and last time, forced to retreat before the ministers of his Arian successor Valens; and for four months lay hid in his father’s sepulchre. On a representation being made to the new Emperor, even with the consent of the Arians themselves, he was finally restored; and so it happened, through the good Providence of God, that the fury of persecution, heavily as it threatened in his last years, yet was suspended till his death, when it at once burst forth upon the Church with renewed vigour. Thus he was permitted to muse over his past trials and his prospects for the future; to collect his mind to meet his God, gathering himself up with Jacob on his bed of age, and yielding up the ghost peaceably among his children. Yet, amid the decay of nature, and the visions of coming dissolution, the attention of Athanasius was in no wise turned from the active duties of his station. The vigour of his obedience to those duties remained unabated; one of his last acts being the excommunication of one of the Dukes of Lybia, for irregularity of life.
At length, when the great Confessor was removed, the Church sustained a loss, from which it never recovered. His resolute resistance of heresy had been but one portion of his services; a more excellent praise is due to him, for his charitable skill in binding together his brethren in unity. The Church of Alexandria was the natural mediator between the East and West; and Athanasius had well improved the advantages thus committed to him. His judicious interposition in the troubles at Antioch has lately been described; and the dissensions between his own Church and Constantinople, which ensued upon his death, may be taken to show how much the combination of the Catholics depended on his silent authority. Theological subtleties were for ever starting into existence among the Greek Christians; and the Arian controversy had corrupted their spirit, where it had failed to impair their orthodoxy. Disputation was the rule of belief, and ambition of conduct, in the Eusebian school; and these evil introductions out-lived its day. Patronized by the secular power, the great Churches of Christendom conceived a jealousy of each other, and gradually fortified themselves in their own resources. As Athanasius drew towards his end, the task of mediation became more difficult. In spite of his desire to keep aloof from party, circumstances threw him against his will into one of the two divisions, which were beginning to discover themselves in the Christian world. Even before his time, traces appear of a rivalry between the Asiatic and Egyptian Churches. The events of his own day, developing their differences of character, at the same time connected the Egyptians with the Latins. The mistakes of his own friends obliged him to side with a seeming faction in the body of the Antiochene Church; and, in the schism which followed, he found himself in opposition to the Catholic communities of Asia Minor and the East. Still, though the course of events tended to ultimate disruptions in the Catholic Church, his personal influence remained unimpaired to the last, and enabled him to interpose with good effect in the affairs of the East. This is well illustrated by a letter addressed to him shortly before his death, by St. Basil, who belonged to the contrary party, and had then recently been elevated to the exarchate of Cæsarea. It shall be here inserted, and may serve as a sort of valediction in parting with one, who, after the Apostles, has been a principal instrument, by which the sacred truths of Christianity have been conveyed and secured to the world.
“To Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria. The more the sicknesses of the Church increase, so much the more earnestly do we all turn towards thy Perfection, persuaded that for thee to lead us is our sole remaining comfort in our difficulties. By the power of thy prayers, by the wisdom of thy counsels, thou art able to carry us through this fearful storm; as all are sure, who have heard or made trial of that perfection ever so little. Wherefore cease not both to pray for our souls, and to stir us up by thy letters; didst thou know the profit of these to us, thou wouldst never let pass an opportunity of writing to us. For me, were it vouchsafed to me, by the co-operation of thy prayers, once to see thee, and to profit by the gift lodged in thee, and to add to the history of my life a meeting with so great and apostolical a soul, surely I should consider myself to have received from the loving mercy of God a compensation for all the ills, with which my life has ever been afflicted.”
The trials of the Church, spoken of by Basil in this letter, were the beginnings of the persecution directed against it by the Emperor Valens. This prince, who succeeded Jovian in the East, had been baptized by Eudoxius; who, from the time he became possessed of the See of Constantinople, was the chief, and soon became the sole, though a powerful, support of the Eusebian faction. He is said to have bound Valens by oath, at the time of his baptism, that he would establish Arianism as the state religion of the East; and thus to have prolonged its ascendancy for an additional sixteen years after the death of Constantius (A.D. 361-378). At the beginning of this period, the heretical party had been weakened by the secession of the Semi-Arians, who had not merely left it, but had joined the Catholics. This part of the history affords a striking illustration, not only of the gradual influence of truth over error, but of the remarkable manner in which Divine Providence makes use of error itself as a preparation for truth; that is, employing the lighter forms of it in sweeping away those of a more offensive nature. Thus Semi-Arianism became the bulwark and forerunner of the orthodoxy which it opposed. From A.D. 357, the date of the second and virtually Homœan formulary of Sirmium, it had protested against the impiety of the genuine Arians. In the successive Councils of Ancyra and Seleucia, in the two following years, it had condemned and deposed them; and had established the scarcely objectionable creed of Lucian. On its own subsequent disgrace at Court, it had concentrated itself on the Asiatic side of the Hellespont; while the high character of its leading bishops for gravity and strictness of life, and its influence over the monastic institutions, gave it a formidable popularity among the lower classes on the opposite coast of Thrace.
Six years after the Council of Seleucia (A.D. 365), in the reign of Valens, the Semi-Arians held a Council at Lampsacus, in which they condemned the Homoean formulary of Ariminum, confirmed the creed of the Dedication (A.D. 341), and, after citing the Eudoxians to answer the accusations brought against them, proceeded to ratify that deposition of them, which had already been pronounced at Seleucia. At this time they seem to have entertained hopes of gaining the Emperor; but, on finding the influence of Eudoxius paramount at Court, their horror or jealousy of his party led them to a bolder step. They resolved on putting themselves under the protection of Valentinian, the orthodox Emperor of the West; and, finding it necessary for this purpose to stand well with the Latin Church, they at length overcame their repugnance to the Homoüsion, and subscribed a formula, of which (at least till the Council of Constantinople, A.D. 360) they had been among the most eager and obstinate opposers. Fifty-nine Semi-Arian Bishops gave in their assent to orthodoxy on this memorable occasion, which took place A.D. 366. Their deputies were received into communion by Liberius, who had recovered himself at Ariminum, and who wrote letters in favour of these new converts to the Churches of the East. On their return, they presented themselves before an orthodox Council then sitting at Tyana, exhibited the commendatory letters which they had received from Italy, Gaul, Africa, and Sicily, as well as Rome, and were joyfully acknowledged by the assembled Fathers as members of the Catholic body. A final Council was appointed at Tarsus; whither it was hoped all the Churches of the East would send representatives, in order to complete the reconciliation between the two parties. But enough had been done, as it would seem, in the external course of events, to unite the scattered portions of the Church; and, when that end was on the point of accomplishment, the usual law of Divine Providence intervened, and left the sequel of the union as a task and a trial for Christians individually. The project of the Council failed; thirty-four Semi-Arian bishops suddenly opposed themselves to the purpose of their brethren, and protested against the Homoüsion. The Emperor, on the other hand, recently baptized by Eudoxius, interfered; forbade the proposed Council, and proceeded to issue an edict, in which all bishops were deposed from their Sees who had been banished under Constantius, and restored by Julian. It was at this time, that the fifth exile of Athanasius took place, which was lately mentioned. A more cruel persecution followed in A.D. 371, and lasted for several years. The death of Valens, A.D. 378, was followed by the final downfall of Arianism in the Eastern Church.
As to Semi-Arianism, it disappears from ecclesiastical history at the date of the proposed Council of Tarsus (A.D. 367); from which time the portion of the party, which remained non-conformist, is more properly designated Macedonian, or Pneumatomachist, from the chief article of their heresy.
During the reign of Valens, much had been done in furtherance of evangelical truth, in the still remaining territory of Arianism, by the proceedings of the Semi-Arians; but at the same period symptoms of returning orthodoxy, even in its purest form, had appeared in Constantinople itself. On the death of Eudoxius (A.D. 370), the Catholics elected an orthodox successor, by name Evagrius. He was instantly banished by the Emperor’s command; and the population of Constantinople seconded the act of Valens, by the most unprovoked excesses towards the Catholics. Eighty of their clergy, who were in consequence deputed to lay their grievances before the Emperor, lost their lives, under circumstances of extreme treachery and barbarity. Faith, which was able to stand its ground in such a season of persecution, was naturally prompted to more strenuous acts, when prosperous times succeeded. On the death of Valens, the Catholics of Constantinople looked beyond their own community for assistance, in combating the dominant heresy. Evagrius, whom they had elected to the See, seems to have died in exile; and they invited to his place the celebrated Gregory Nazianzen, a man of diversified accomplishments, distinguished for his eloquence, and still more for his orthodoxy, his integrity, and the innocence, amiableness, and refinement of his character.
Gregory was a native of Cappadocia, and an intimate friend of the great Basil, with whom he had studied at Athens. On Basil’s elevation to the exarchate of Cæsarea, Gregory had been placed by him in the bishoprick of Sasime; but, the appointment being contested by Anthimus, who claimed the primacy of the lower Cappadocia, he retired to Nazianzus, his father’s diocese, where he took on himself those duties, to which the elder Gregory had become unequal. After the death of the latter, he remained for several years without pastoral employment, till the call of the Catholics brought him to Constantinople. His election was approved by Meletius, patriarch of Antioch and by Peter, the successor of Athanasius, who by letter recognized his accession to the metropolitan see.
On his first arrival there, he had no more suitable place of worship than his own lodgings, where he preached the Catholic doctrine to the dwindled communion over which he presided. But the result which Constantius had anticipated, when he denied to Athanasius a Church in Antioch, soon showed itself at Constantinople. His congregation increased; the house, in which they assembled, was converted into a church by the pious liberality of its owner, with the name of Anastasia, in hope of that resurrection which now awaited the long-buried truths of the Gospel. The contempt, with which the Arians had first regarded him, was succeeded by a persecution on the part of the populace. An attempt was made to stone him; his church was attacked, and he himself brought before a magistrate, under pretence of having caused the riot. Violence so unjust did but increase the influence, which a disdainful toleration had allowed him to establish; and the accession of the orthodox Theodosius secured it.
On his arrival at Constantinople, the new Emperor resolved on executing in his capital the determination, which he had already prescribed by edict to the Eastern Empire. The Arian Bishops were required to subscribe the Nicene formulary, or to quit their sees. Demophilus, the Eusebian successor of Eudoxius, who has already been introduced to our notice as an accomplice in the seduction of Liberius, was first presented with this alternative; and, with an honesty of which his party affords few instances, he refused at once to assent to opinions, which he had all through his life been opposing, and retired from the city. Many bishops, however, of the Arian party conformed; and the Church was unhappily inundated by the very evil, which in the reign of Constantine the Athanasians had strenuously and successfully withstood.
The unfortunate policy, which led to this measure, might seem at first sight to be sanctioned by the decree of the Alexandrian Council, which made subscription the test of orthodoxy; but, on a closer inspection, the cases will be found to be altogether dissimilar. When Athanasius acted upon that principle, in the reign of Julian, there was no secular object to be gained by conformity; or rather, the malevolence of the Emperor was peculiarly directed against those, whether orthodox or Semi-Arians, who evinced any earnestness about Christian truth. Even then, the recognition was not extended to those who had taken an active part on the side of heresy. On the other hand, the example of Athanasius himself, and of Alexander of Constantinople, in the reign of Constantine, sufficiently marked their judgment in the matter; both of them having resisted the attempt of the Court to force Arius upon the Church, even though he professed his assent to the Homoüsion.
Whether or not it was in Gregory’s power to hinder the recognition of the Arianizers, or whether his firmness was not equal to his humility and zeal, the consequences of the measure are visible in the conduct of the General Council, which followed it. He himself may be considered as the victim of it; and he has left us in poetry and in oratory his testimony to the deterioration of religious principle, which the chronic vicissitudes of controversy had brought about in the Eastern Church.
The following passage, from one of his orations, illustrates both the state of the times, and his own beautiful character, though unequal to struggle against them. “Who is there,” he says, “but will find, on measuring himself by St. Paul’s rules for the conduct of Bishops and Priests,—that they should be sober, chaste, not fond of wine, not strikers, apt to teach, unblamable in all things, unassailable by the wicked,—that he falls far short of its perfection?…I am alarmed to think of our Lord’s censure of the Pharisees, and his reproof of the Scribes; disgraceful indeed would it be, should we, who are bid be so far above them in virtue, in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, appear even worse than they…These thoughts haunt me night and day; they consume my bones, and feed on my flesh; they keep me from boldness, or from walking with erect countenance. They so humble me and cramp my mind, and place a chain on my tongue, that I cannot think of a Ruler’s office, nor of correcting and guiding others, which is a talent above me; but only, how I myself may flee from the wrath to come, and scrape myself some little from the poison of my sin. First, I must be cleansed, and then cleanse others; learn wisdom, and then impart it; draw near to God, and then bring others to Him; be sanctified, and then sanctify. ‘When will you ever get to the end of this?’ say the all-hasty and unsafe, who are quick to build up and to pull down. ‘When will you place your light on a candlestick? Where is your talent?’ So say friends of mine, who have more zeal for me than religious seriousness. Ah, my brave men, why ask my season for acting, and my plan? Surely the last day of payment is soon enough, old age in its extreme term. Grey hairs have prudence, and youth is untaught. Best be slow and sure, not quick and thoughtless; a kingdom for a day, not a tyranny for a life; a little gold, not a weight of lead. It was the shallow earth shot forth the early blade. Truly there is cause of fear, lest I be bound hand and foot, and cast without the marriage-chamber, as an audacious intruder without fitting garment among the assembled guests. And yet I was called thither from my youth (to confess a matter which few know), and on God was I thrown from the womb; made over to Him by my mother’s promise, confirmed in His service by dangers afterwards. Yea, and my own wish grew up beside her purpose, and my reason ran along with it; and all I had to give, wealth, name, health, literature, I brought and offered them to Him, who called and saved me; my sole enjoyment of them being to despise them, and to have something which I could resign for Christ. To undertake the direction and government of souls is above me, who have not yet well learnt to be guided, nor to be sanctified as far as is fitting. Much more is this so in a time like the present, when it is a great thing to flee away to some place of shelter, while others are whirled to and fro, and so to escape the storm and darkness of the evil one; for this is a time when the members of the Christian body war with each other, and whatever there was left of love is come to nought. Moabites and Ammonites, who were forbidden even to enter the Church of Christ, now tread our holiest places. We have opened to all, not gates of righteousness, but of mutual reviling and injury. We think those the best of men, not who keep from every idle word through fear of God, but such as have openly or covertly slandered their neighbour most. And we mark the sins of others, not to lament, but to blame them; not to cure, but to second the blow; and to make the wounds of others an excuse for our own. Men are judged good and bad, not by their course of life, but by their enmities and friendships. We praise today, we call names tomorrow. All things are readily pardoned to impiety. So magnanimously are we forgiving in wicked ways!”
The first disturbance in the reviving Church of Constantinople had arisen from the ambition of Maximus, a Cynic philosopher, who aimed at supplanting Gregory in his see. He was a friend and countryman of Peter, the new Patriarch of Alexandria; and had suffered banishment in the Oasis, on the persecution which followed the death of Athanasius. His reputation was considerable among learned men of the day, as is shown by the letters addressed to him by Basil. Gregory fell in with him at Constantinople; and pleased at the apparent strictness and manliness of his conduct, he received him into his house, baptized him, and at length admitted him into inferior orders. The return made by Maximus to his benefactor, was to conduct an intrigue with one of his principal Presbyters; to gain over Peter of Alexandria, who had already recognized Gregory; to obtain from him the presence of three of his bishops; and, entering the metropolitan church during the night, to instal himself, with their aid, in the episcopal throne. A tumult ensued, and he was obliged to leave the city; but, far from being daunted at the immediate failure of his plot, he laid his case before a Council of the West, his plea consisting on the one hand, in the allegation that Gregory, as being Bishop of another Church, held the See contrary to the Canons, and on the other hand, in the recognition which he had obtained from the Patriarch of Alexandria. The Council, deceived by his representations, approved of his consecration; but Theodosius, to whom he next addressed himself, saw through his artifices, and banished him.
Fresh mortifications awaited the eloquent preacher, to whom the Church of Constantinople owed its resurrection. While the Arians censured his retiring habits, and his abstinence from the innocent pleasures of life, his own flock began to complain of his neglecting to use his influence at Court for their advantage. Overwhelmed with the disquietudes, to which these occurrences gave birth, Gregory resolved to bid adieu to a post which required a less sensitive or a more vigorous mind than his own. In a farewell oration, he recounted his labours and sufferings during the time he had been among them, commemorated his successes, and exhorted them to persevere in the truth, which they had learned from him. His congregation were affected by this address; and, a reaction of feeling taking place, they passionately entreated him to abandon a resolve, which would involve the ruin of orthodoxy in Constantinople, and they declared that they would not quit the church till he acceded to their importunities. At their entreaties, he consented to suspend the execution of his purpose for a while; that is, until the Eastern prelates who were expected at the General Council, which had by that time been convoked, should appoint a Bishop in his room.
The circumstances attending the arrival of Theodosius at Constantinople, connected as they were with the establishment of the true religion, still were calculated to inflict an additional wound on his feelings, and to increase his indisposition to continue in his post, endeared though it was to him by its first associations. The inhabitants of an opulent and luxurious metropolis, familiarized to Arianism by its forty years’ ascendancy among them, and disgusted at the apparent severity of the orthodox school, prepared to resist the installation of Gregory in the cathedral of St. Sophia. A strong military force was appointed to escort him thither; and the Emperor gave countenance to the proceedings by his own presence. Allowing himself to be put in possession of the church, Gregory was nevertheless firm to his purpose of not seating himself upon the Archiepiscopal throne; and when the light-minded multitude clamorously required it, he was unequal to the task of addressing them, and deputed one of his Presbyters to speak in his stead.
Nor were the manners of the Court more congenial to his well-regulated mind, than the lawless spirit of the people. Offended at the disorders which he witnessed there, he shunned the condescending advances of the Emperor; and was with difficulty withdrawn from the duties of his station, the solitude of his own thoughts, and the activity of pious ministrations, prayer and fasting, the punishment of offenders and the visitation of the sick. Careless of personal splendour, he allowed the revenues of his see to be expended in supporting its dignity, by inferior ecclesiastics, who were in his confidence; and, while he defended the principle, on which Arianism had been dispossessed of its power, he exerted himself with earnestness to protect the heretics from all intemperate execution of the Imperial decree.
Nor was the elevated refinement of Gregory better adapted to sway the minds of the corrupt hierarchy which Arianism had engendered, than to rule the Court and the people. “If I must speak the truth,” he says in one of his letters, “I feel disposed to shun every conference of Bishops; because I never saw Synod brought to a happy issue, nor remedying, but rather increasing, existing evils. For ever is there rivalry and ambition, and these have the mastery of reason;—do not think me extravagant for saying so;—and a mediator is more likely to be attacked himself, than to succeed in his pacification. Accordingly, I have fallen back upon myself, and consider quiet the only security of life.”
Such was the state of things, under which the second Œcumenical Council, as it has since been considered, was convoked. It met in May, A.D. 381; being designed to put an end, as far as might be, to those very disorders, which unhappily found their principal exercise in the assemblies which were to remove them. The Western Church enjoyed at this time an almost perfect peace, and sent no deputies to Constantinople. But in the Oriental provinces, besides the distractions caused by the various heretical off-shoots of Arianism, its indirect effects existed in the dissensions of the Catholics themselves; in the schism at Antioch; in the claims of Maximus to the see of Constantinople; and in recent disturbances at Alexandria, where the loss of Athanasius was already painfully visible. Added to these, was the ambiguous position of the Macedonians; who resisted the orthodox doctrine, yet were only by implication heretical, or at least some of them far less than others. Thirty-six of their Bishops attended the Council, principally from the neighbourhood of the Hellespont; of the orthodox there were 150, Meletius, of Antioch, being the president. Other eminent prelates present were Gregory Nyssen, brother of St. Basil, who had died some years before; Amphilochius of Iconium, Diodorus of Tarsus, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Gelasius of Cæsarea, in Palestine.
The Council had scarcely accomplished its first act, the establishment of Gregory in the see of Constantinople, to the exclusion of Maximus, when Meletius, the President, died; an unhappy event, as not only removing a check from its more turbulent members, but in itself supplying the materials of immediate discord. An arrangement had been effected between the two orthodox communions at Antioch, by which it was provided, that the survivor of the rival Bishops should be acknowledged by the opposite party, and a termination thus put to the schism. This was in accordance with the principle acted upon by the Alexandrian Council, on the separation of the Meletians from the Arians. At that time the Eustathian party was called on to concede, by acknowledging Meletius; and now, on the death of Meletius, it became the duty of the Meletians in turn to submit to Paulinus, whom Lucifer had consecrated as Bishop of the Eustathians. Schism, however, admits not of these simple remedies. The self-will of a Latin Bishop had defeated the plan of conciliation in the former instance; and now the pride and jealousy of the Orientals revolted from communion with a prelate of Latin creation. The attempt of Gregory, who had succeeded to the presidency of the Council, to calm their angry feelings, and to persuade them to deal fairly with the Eustathians, as well as to restore peace to the Church, only directed their violence against himself. It was in vain that his own connection with the Meletian party evidenced the moderation and candour of his advice; in vain that the age of Paulinus gave assurance, that the nominal triumph of the Latins could be of no long continuance. Flavian, who, together with others, had solemnly sworn, that he would not accept the bishoprick in case of the death of Meletius, permitted himself to be elevated to the vacant see; and Gregory, driven from the Council, took refuge from its clamours in a remote part of Constantinople.
About this time the arrival of the Egyptian bishops increased the dissension. By some inexplicable omission they had not been summoned to the Council; and they came, inflamed with resentment against the Orientals. They had throughout taken the side of Paulinus, and now their earnestness in his favour was increased by their jealousy of his opponents. Another cause of offence was given to them, in the recognition of Gregory before their arrival; nor did his siding with them in behalf of Paulinus, avail to avert from him the consequences of their indignation. Maximus was their countryman, and the deposition of Gregory was necessary to appease their insulted patriotism. Accordingly, the former charge was revived of the illegality of his promotion. A Canon of the Nicene Council prohibited the translation of bishops, priests, or deacons, from Church to Church; and, while it was calumniously pretended, that Gregory had held in succession three bishopricks, Sasime, Nazianzus, and Constantinople, it could not be denied, that, at least, he had passed from Nazianzus, the place of his original ordination, to the Imperial city. Urged by this fresh attack, Gregory once more resolved to retire from an eminence, which he had from the first been reluctant to occupy, except for the sake of the remembrances, with which it was connected. The Emperor with difficulty accepted his resignation; but at length allowed him to depart from Constantinople, Nectarius being placed on the patriarchal throne in his stead.
In the mean while, a Council had been held at Aquileia of the bishops of the north of Italy, with a view of inquiring into the faith of two Bishops of Dacia, accused of Arianism. During its session, news was brought of the determination of the Constantinopolitan Fathers to appoint a successor to Meletius; and, surprised both by the unexpected continuation of the schism, and by the slight put on themselves, they petitioned Theodosius to permit a general Council to be convoked at Alexandria, which the delegates of the Latin Church might attend. Some dissatisfaction, moreover, was felt for a time at the appointment of Nectarius, in the place of Maximus, whom they had originally recognized. They changed their petition shortly after, and expressed a wish that a Council should be held at Rome.
These letters from the West were submitted to the Council of Constantinople, at its second, or, (as some say,) third sitting, A.D. 382 or 383, at which Nectarius presided. An answer was returned to the Latins, declining to repair to Rome, on the ground of the inconvenience, which would arise from the absence of the Eastern bishops from their dioceses; the Creed and other doctrinal statements of the Council were sent them, and the promotion of Nectarius and Flavian was maintained to be agreeable to the Nicene Canons, which determined, that the Bishops of a province had the right of consecrating such of their brethren, as were chosen by the people and clergy, without the interposition of foreign Churches; an exhortation to follow peace was added, and to prefer the edification of the whole body of Christians, to personal attachments and the interests of individuals.
Thus ended the second General Council. As to the addition made by it to the Nicene Creed, it is conceived in the temperate spirit, which might be expected from those men, who took the more active share in its doctrinal discussions. The ambitious and tumultuous part of the assembly seems to have been weary of the controversy, and to have left its settlement to the more experienced and serious-minded of their body. The Creed of Constantinople is said to be the composition of Gregory Nyssen.
From the date of this Council, Arianism was formed into a sect exterior to the Catholic Church; and, taking refuge among the Barbarian Invaders of the Empire, is merged among those external enemies of Christianity, whose history cannot be regarded as strictly ecclesiastical. Such is the general course of religious error; which rises within the sacred precincts, but in vain endeavours to take root in a soil uncongenial to it. The domination of heresy, however prolonged, is but one stage in its existence; it ever hastens to an end, and that end is the triumph of the Truth. “I myself have seen the ungodly in great power,” says the Psalmist, “and flourishing like a green bay tree; I went by, and lo, he was gone; I sought him, but his place could nowhere be found.” And so of the present perils, with which our branch of the Church is beset, as they bear a marked resemblance to those of the fourth century, so are the lessons, which we gain from that ancient time, especially cheering and edifying to Christians of the present day. Then as now, there was the prospect, and partly the presence in the Church, of an Heretical Power enthralling it, exerting a varied influence and a usurped claim in the appointment of her functionaries, and interfering with the management of her internal affairs. Now as then, “whosoever shall fall upon this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” Meanwhile, we may take comfort in reflecting, that, though the present tyranny has more of insult, it has hitherto had less of scandal, than attended the ascendancy of Arianism; we may rejoice in the piety, prudence, and varied graces of our Spiritual Rulers; and may rest in the confidence, that, should the hand of Satan press us sore, our Athanasius and Basil will be given us in their destined season, to break the bonds of the Oppressor, and let the captives go free.