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Thoughts on Baptism

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    CHAPTER XV. EUNOMIUS—WEIGHT OF HISTORICAL QUOTATIONS—THE GREEK CHURCH

    The advocates of three immersions claim that Eunomius, Bishop of Cyzicum, was the originator of single immersion. No sufficient evidence to this effect exists. They profess to prove it by Sozomen and Theodoret. But Sozomen does not say what they ascribe to him. Theodoret, in his history, gives quite a full account of Eunomius, of his being condemned as a friend of Arius, of his taking the bishopric, but not one word of that which is placed to his credit. He has also recorded a Synodical letter of a council held in Constantinople, a. d. 381, in which are the following words:—TOB 158.1

    “We have rejected the hypothesis of Sabelleus, which confounds the three persons by denying their characteristics; neither do we receive the blasphemy of the Eunomians, of the Arians, or of the Spiritualists, who divide the substance, the nature, and the divinity of the Godhead, and who, denying the uncreated and consubstantial and co-eternal Trinity, speak of a Trinity which they represent as having been created, or as consisting of diverse natures.”TOB 158.2

    What these persons really believed will never be known. A brief notice of the treatment of heretics in those times may not be out of place. Bower says:—TOB 158.3

    “We shall find very few, if any at all, who, upon their teaching doctrines not approved by the fathers, have not been immediately transformed by them, out of their great zeal for the purity of the faith, into monsters of wickedness, though they themselves had perhaps proposed them before for patterns of every Christian virtue. It behooves us, therefore, to be very cautious in giving credit to what they say of those whom they style heretics.”—History of the Popes, vol. 1, p. 150.TOB 159.1

    On reading the history of those times we have often been impressed with the idea that ambition, rather than Christianity, prompted the dominant party, and that the zeal of the orthodox was not so strongly roused against the lives, or even the doctrines, of those called heretics, as against their persons. The spirit and temper of the times seems to be well expressed by Gibbon: “Religion was the pretense; but in the judgment of a contemporary saint, ambition was the genuine motive of episcopal warfare.”TOB 159.2

    Eunomius was ordained bishop, probably about a. d. 360. Mr. Moore does not, indeed, say that the 50th Canon was of earlier date than a. d. 200, but he evidently wishes to make it appear to be so. Why else plead for its early date, saying that some learned men have ascribed to some of them a date much earlier than a. d. 200? But if the 50th Canon was even nearly as early as that, as they would have us think, how does it then appear that Eunomius originated single immersion nearly two centuries afterward? Here is an Apostolical Canon, if not coming from the very age of the apostles yet from their immediate successors, near enough to them to be justly called “Apostolical,” which strongly condemns a practice which was not introduced till near the close of the fourth century! Chrystal so highly esteems this Canon that he constantly calls it “Canon 50 of the Apostles,” and yet he contends that Eunomius, near the fifth century, was the originator of single immersion, which this “Canon of the Apostles” so strongly condemns! So does error lean on a “tottering fence” for support.TOB 159.3

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