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    August 12, 1897

    “How the Catholic Creed Was Made. Arianism Triumphant” The Present Truth 13, 32, pp. 500-503.



    LAST week we saw how the Council of Milan established Arianism, as the Council of Nice had condemned it, and with even greater unanimity. And now, after the five dissenting bishops had been banished, it was determined that all the Western bishops not present at the council should be made to accept the orthodoxy established by council and law.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 500.1

    Liberius, Bishop of Rome, rejected the decisions of the council, and still defended Athanasius. Constantius sent one of his chief ministers with presents to bribe, and a letter to threaten, him. Liberius rejected the bribes and disregarded the threats; and in return cursed all Arian heretics, and excommunicated Constantius. Next he was brought to Milan by force.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 500.2

    Constantius told him that he must either sign or go into exile, and that he would give him three days to decide. Liberius answered that he had already decided, and that he should not change his mind in three days nor in three months; therefore, the emperor might as well send him that minute to whatever place he wanted him to go. Nevertheless, Constantius gave him the three days, but before they were past, sent for him again, hoping to persuade him to yield. Liberius stood fast, and the emperor pronounced sentence of banishment, and sent him to Berea, in Thrace. Before Liberius was gone out of the palace, the emperor sent him a present of five hundred pieces of gold, as he said, to pay his expenses. Liberius sent it back, saying he had better keep it to pay his soldiers.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 500.3


    As soon as it was known in Rome that Liberius was banished, the people assembled, and bound themselves by an oath not to acknowledge any other bishop as long as Liberius lived. The Arian party, however, were determined to have a bishop in Rome. They selected a deacon of that church, Felix by name, who was willing to be bishop of Rome. The clergy would not receive him, and the people collected in mutinous crowds, and refused to allow the Arians to enter any of the churches. The imperial palace in Rome was chosen as the place of ordination. Three of the emperor’s eunuchs were appointed to represent the people, and they duly elected Felix. Three bishops of the court were appointed to represent the clergy, and they ordained the new bishop. “The intrusion of Felix,” says Bower, “created a great sedition, in which many lost their lives.”PTUK August 12, 1897, page 500.4

    Another bishop, whose endorsement of the creed of Milan was scarcely less important than that of Liberius himself, was Hosius of Cordova, who had been one of the chief factors in forming the union of Church and State. He was one of the bishops who visited Constantine in Gaul in A.D. 311, to invite him to the conquest of Rome, and was one of Constantines chief advisers afterward in all his course, until after the Council of Nice. He was summoned to Milan, but steadfastly refused to sign and was allowed to return. Later he was banished. Imprisonment followed; he was cruelly beaten, and finally put to the rack and most inhumanly tortured. Under these fearful torments, the aged bishop yielded, A.D. 356.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 501.1

    “The case of Hosius deserves,” says Bower, “without all doubt, to be greatly pitied; but it would be still more worthy of our pity and compassion had he been himself an enemy to all persecution. But it must be observed that he was the author and promoter of the first Christian persecution; for it was he who first stirred up Constantine against the Donatists, many of whom were sent into exile, and some even sentenced to death; nay, and led to the place of execution.” The surrender of Hosius was counted as the most signal of victories; it was published throughout the whole East, and caused the greatest rejoicing among the Arians everywhere.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 501.2


    THE next step was for Constantius to remove Athanasius from the archbishopric of Alexandria. All who held public office were commanded wholly to abandon the cause of Athanasius, and to communicate with the Arians only. Messengers were sent into the provinces bearing the emperor’s authority, to compel the bishops to communicate with the Arians, or to go into exile. Now he sent two of his secretaries and some other officials of the palace to Alexandria, to banish Athanasius. These officers, with the governor of Egypt and the prefect, commanded Athanasius to leave the city. He demanded that they produce the written authority of the emperor; but Constantius had sent no written order. Athanasius, supported by the people, refused to obey any verbal order.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 501.3

    A truce was agreed upon, until an embassy could be sent to Constantius to bring a written command; but on the part of the officers, this truce was granted merely for the purpose of disarming the vigilance of the supporters of Athanasius. The officers immediately began with the greatest possible secrecy to gather the necessary troops into the city. When twenty-three days had thus been spent, a force of five thousand troops held possession of the most important parts of the city. The night before a solemn festival day of the church, Athanasius was conducting the services in the church of St. Theonas. Suddenly, at midnight, there was all about the church the sound of trumpets, the rushing of horses, and the clash of arms; the doors were burst open, and with the discharge of a cloud of arrows, the soldiers, with drawn swords, poured in to arrest Athanasius.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 501.4

    The cries of the wounded, the groans of those who were trampled down in attempting to force their way out through the soldiery, the shouts of the assailants, mingled in wild and melancholy uproar. (Milman.)PTUK August 12, 1897, page 501.5

    In the tumult, Athanasius again escaped.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 501.6


    ATHANASIUS was gone. The next thing was to install an Arian bishop in his place. Their choice fell on George of Cappadocia, who was more savage and cruel than Gregory, the Arian bishop who had been appointed to this place before. George’s original occupation was that of “a parasite,” by which means he secured the contract for supplying the army with bacon. “His employment was mean; he rendered it infamous. He accumulated wealth by the basest arts of fraud and corruption,” which finally became so notorious that he had to flee from justice. The Arian bishop of Antioch made him a priest and a church-member at the same time. Surrounded by armed troops, George was now placed on the episcopal throne, “and during at least four months, Alexandria was exposed to the insults of a licentious army, stimulated by the ecclesiastics of a hostile faction.” Every kind of violence was committed. “And the same scenes of violence and scandal which had been exhibited in the capital, were repeated in more than ninety episcopal cities of Egypt. The entrance of the new archbishop was that of a barbarian conqueror; and each moment of his reign was polluted by cruelty and avarice.” (Gibbon.)PTUK August 12, 1897, page 501.7

    November 30, A.D. 361, he was murdered by the pagans. In the fifth century—A.D. 494—Pope Gelasius made him a martyr. In the sixth century he was worshipped as a Catholic saint; and since the Crusades, he has been “the renowned Saint Gregory of England, patron of arms, of chivalry, and of the Garter.”PTUK August 12, 1897, page 501.8


    In A.D. 357 Constantius visited Rome and celebrated a triumph. The leading women of the church determined to take advantage of the opportunity thus offered to present a petition for the recall of Liberius. “Having adorned themselves in the most splendid attire, that their rank might be evident from their appearance” they proceeded to the imperial palace, and declared that Felix was detested and avoided by all, and that none would attend service so long as Liberius was absent. Constantius smiled, and said, “If so, you must have Liberius again: I shall without delay despatch the proper orders for his return.”PTUK August 12, 1897, page 501.9

    The next day the edict of recall was read in the circus; but it provided that the two new bishops should rule jointly. It happened to be the most interesting and decisive moment of a horse-race, but the excited feelings of the multitude were turned in an instant to the more absorbing question of the orthodox faith. Some cried in ridicule that the edict was just, because there were two factions in the circus, and now each one could have its own bishop. Others shouted, “What, because we have two factions in the circus, are we to have two factions in the church?” Then the whole multitude set up one universal yell, “There is but one God, one Christ, one bishop!” Upon which Theodoret devoutly remarks, “Some time after this Christian people had uttered these pious and just acclamations, the holy Liberius returned, and Felix retired to another city.”PTUK August 12, 1897, page 501.10

    It is true that Liberius returned soon after this, but Constantius had made it the condition of his return that he should sign the decisions of the Council of Milan. Two years’ sojourn in cold and barbarous Thrace, while a rival bishop was enjoying the splendors of the episcopal office in Rome, exerted a strong tendency to convince Liberius that Athanasius was rightly condemned, and that the Arian doctrine might be true. He therefore signed both the condemnation of Athanasius and the Arian creed of Milan. But as in the meantime the emperor had changed his views and adopted the Semi-Arian doctrine, he would not allow Liberius to return to Rome unless he would first subscribe to the same. Liberius signed this also, and was allowed to go on his way to Rome. The people poured out through the gates to meet him, and escorted him in triumph to the episcopal palace, Aug. 2, 358. “The adherents of Felix were inhumanly murdered in the streets, in the public places, in the baths, and even in the churches; and the face of Rome, upon the return of a Christian bishop, renewed the horrid image of the massacres of Marius and the proscriptions of Sylla.”PTUK August 12, 1897, page 501.11


    As stated above, Constantius had again changed his opinion as to the nature of Christ, adopting the Semi-Arian view. The Semi-Arian party was a third one that had grown up between the strictly Arian and the Athanasian, based upon a third mental abstraction as elusive as either of the others. The three doctrines now stood thus:—PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.1

    The Athanasians declared the Son of God to be of the same substance, the same existence, and the same essence, with the Father.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.2

    The strict Arians declared the Son to be like the Father, but rather by grace than by nature,—as like as a creature could be to the Creator.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.3

    The Semi-Arians declared the Son to be like the Father in nature, in existence, in essence, in substance, and in everything else.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.4

    In furtherance of his “visionary” commission to give peace to the church, Constantius determined to call a general council, and have the Semi-Arian doctrine adopted and made orthodox by a council. Two councils were appointed, one at Seleucia for the East, and one at Rimini, in Italy, for the West, to make it more convenient for all to attend. Civil officers were instructed to see that all bishops attended onr or the other.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.5

    The council was first appointed to meet at Nicomedia, A.D. 358, but while the bishops were on the way there, an earthquake destroyed that city. The appointment was then changed to Nice in early summer, 359. But before that time arrived, he decided to have two councils instead of one, that all might more easily attend. The bishops of the East were to meet at Seleucia, in Isauria; those of the West at Rimini on the Adriatic Sea in Italy.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.6

    The bishops therefore set out from all parts; the public carriages, roads, and houses were everywhere crowded with them, which gave great offence to the catechumens, and no small diversion to the pagans, who thought it equally strange and ridiculous that men who had been brought up from their infancy in the Christian religion, and whose business it was to instruct others in that belief, should be constantly hurrying in their old age, from one place to another, to know what they themselves should believe. (Bower.)PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.7

    In the summer of A.D. 359, more than four hundred bishops assembled at Rimini, of whom eighty were Arians. One hundred and sixty assembled at Seleucia, of whom one hundred and five were Semi-Arians; about forty were Arians, while the Catholics were still fewer in number. A civil officer of high rank was appointed to represent the emperor at each council, and the one appointed to Rimini was directed not to allow any bishop to go home until all “had come to one mind concerning the faith.” That there might be as little difficulty as possible in coming to one mind, a creed was drawn up and sent to the council to be signed.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.8

    But at Rimini the Catholics took everything into their own hands. They unanimously approved the Nicene Creed, and then declared heretical the creed which had come from the Emperor. They next took up the doctrine of Arianism, and pronounced a curse upon each particular point; denounced by name the bishops who had come from the emperor as “ignorant and deceitful men, imposters, and heretics; and declared them deposed.”PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.9

    All this they put in writing; every one of them signed it July 21, A.D. 359, and sent it by the ten deputies to the emperor, accompanied by a request that he would allow them to return to their churches. At the same time the Arians of the council also sent ten deputies to Constantius, who reached the emperor before the others, and made their report. When the others arrived, Constantius refused even to see them so much as to receive their report; but sent an officer to receive it, and under the pretext of being overwhelmed with public business, kept them waiting. After waiting long they were sent to Adrianople to await the emperor’s pleasure; and at the same time he sent a letter to the bishops at Rimini, commanding them to await there the return of their deputies.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.10


    SHORTLY afterward the deputies were ordered to go to a small town called Nice, not many miles from Adrianople. This was a trick of the Arians and Semi-Arians, by which they proposed to have their creed signed there, and then pass it off upon the uninitiated as the original creed of the Council of Nice in Bithynia, in Asia. The deputies were finally forced to sign, and to reverse all the acts and proceedings of the Council of Rimini.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.11

    The emperor was highly pleased at this result, and calling it a good omen of like success with the whole council, gave the ten deputies leave to return to Rimini. At the same time he sent letters to the prefect, commanding him anew not to allow a single bishop to leave until all had signed; and to exile whoever should persist in a refusal, provided the number did not exceed fifteen.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.12

    The bishops werePTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.13

    eager to return to their sees; the emperor was inflexible; Taurus took care to render the place both inconvenient and disagreeable to them. Some therefore fell off, others followed their example, the rest began to waver, and being so far got the better of, yielded soon after, and went over to the Arian party in such crowds that in a very short time the number of the orthodox bishops who continued steady, was reduced to twenty. (Bower.)PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.14

    At the head of these twenty was a certain Phebadius, and they determined invincibly to hold their position. Nevertheless they were caught by a trick that the veriest tyro ought to have seen. Two bishops in particular, Ursacius and Valens, had charge of the creed; and they pretended in the interests of peace to be willing to make a concession.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.15

    They came together, and began to reconstruct the creed: first were inserted some curses against the Arian heresy, then an addition, declaring the Son to be “equal to the Father, without beginning, and before all things.” When this was written, Valens proposed that in order to leave no room whatever for any new disputes or any question upon this point, there should be added a clause declaring that “the Son of God is not a creature like other creatures.” To this the twenty bishops assented, blindly overlooking the fact that in admitting that the Son was not a creature like other creatures, they did indeed place him among the creatures, and admitted the very point upon which the Arians had all the time insisted. Thus all were brought to “the unity of the faith.” The council broke up, and the bishops departed to their homes.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.16

    The council was past, and no sooner did the Arians find themselves secure, than they loudly proclaimed the victory which they had gained. Upon examination of the creed, the twenty bishops were obliged to confess that they had been entrapped. They renounced the creed, and publicly retracted “all they had said, done, or signed, repugnant to the truths of the Catholic Church.”PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.17


    THE companion council which was called at Seleucia, met Sept. 27, 359, but as there were three distinct parties, besides individuals who differed from all, there was among them such utter confusion, tumult, and bitterness, that after four days of angry debate, in which the prospect became worse and worse, the imperial officer declared that he would have nothing more to do with the council, and told them they could go to the church if they wanted to, and “indulge in this vain babbling there as much as they pleased.” The parties then met separately, denounced, condemned, and excommunicated one another, and sent their deputies to Constantius, who spent a whole day and the greater part of the night, December 31, 359, in securing their signatures to the confession of faith which he had approved. The emperor’s confession was then published throughout the whole empire, and all bishops were commanded to sign it, under penalty of exile upon all who refused. “This order was executed with the utmost rigor in all the provinces of the empire, and very few were found who did not sign with their hands what they condemned in their hearts. Many who till then had been thought invincible were overcome, and complied with the times: and such as did not, were driven without distinction from their sees into exile, and others appointed in their room, the signing of that confession being a qualification indispensably requisite both in obtaining and keeping the episcopal dignity. Thus were all the sees throughout the empire filled with Arians, insomuch that in the whole East not an orthodox bishop was left, and in the West but one; namely, Gregory, bishop of Elvira, in Andalusia, and he, in all likelihood, obliged to absent himself from his flock and lie concealed.” (Bower.)PTUK August 12, 1897, page 502.18

    Thus Constantius had succeeded much more fully than had his father in establishing “the unity of the faith.” That faith was the original Arian. And Arianism was now as entirely orthodox, and, if the accommodated sense of the word be used, as entirely Catholic, as Athanasianism had ever been.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 503.1

    Having, like his father, by the aid of the bishops, united the world “under one head,” and brought the opinions respecting the Deity to a condition of “settled uniformity,” the emperor Constantius died the following year, A.D. 361.PTUK August 12, 1897, page 503.2

    A. T. JONES.

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