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the credit of his favourite Osius, who appears to have presided in the council of Nice, might dispose the emperor in favour of the orthodox party; and a well-timed insinuation that the same Eusebius of Nicomedia, who now protected the heretic, had lately assisted the tyrant,” might exasperate him against their adversaries. The Nicene creed was ratified by Constantine; and his firm declaration that those who resisted the divine judgment of the synod must prepare themselves for an immediate exile annihilated the murmurs of a feeble opposition; which from seventeen, was almost instantly reduced to two, protesting bishops. Eusebius of Caesarea yielded a reluctant and ambiguous consent to the Homoousion;” and the wavering con
Houte duct of the Nicomedian Eusebius served only to delay, about
three months, his disgrace and exile.” The impious Arius was
and the orthodox
*Theodoret has preserved (l. i. c. 20) an epistle from Constantine to the people of Nicomedia, in which the monarch declares himself the public accuser of one of his subjects; he styles Eusebius, 6 ris Tupavvuxis ouárntos ovovorus, and complains of his hostile behaviour during the civil war. *See in Socrates (l. i. c. 8), or rather in Theodoret (l. i. c. 12), an original letter of Eusebius of Caesarea, in which he attempts to justify his subscribing the Homoousion. The character of Eusebius has always been a problem ; but those who have read the second critical epistle of Le Clerc (Ars Crit. tom. iii. p. 30-69) must entertain a very unfavourable opinion of the orthodoxy and sincerity of the bishop of Caesarea. [It is interesting to remark that Eusebius proposed that the creed (rigris) in use at Caesarea, which he had learnt as a catechumen, should be adopted by the council; that the council accepted the suggestion; but so altered the wording, especially by adding the attribute Homoousios, that a Caesarean could not have recognized it and Eusebius hesitated to subscribe. * Athanasius, tom. i. p. 727; Philostorgius, l. i. c. 10, and Godefroy, Commentary, p. 41. *Socrates, l. i. c. 9. In his circular letters, which were addressed to the several cities, Constantine employed against the heretics the arms of ridicule and comic raillery. ... [As to the result of the council: “the triumph was rather a surprise than a solid victory," Gwatkin (Arian Controversy, p. 39).]
exiles were recalled; and Eusebius, who gradually resumed his influence over the mind of Constantine, was restored to the episcopal throne from which he had been ignominiously degraded. Arius himself was treated by the whole court with the respect which would have been due to an innocent and oppressed man. His faith was approved by the synod of Jerusalem; and the emperor seemed impatient to repair his injustice, by issuing an absolute command that he should be solemnly admitted to the communion in the cathedral of Constantinople. On the same day which had been fixed for the triumph of Arius, he expired ; and the strange and horrid circumstances of his death might excite a suspicion that the orthodox saints had contributed more efficaciously than by their prayers to deliver the church from the most formidable of her enemies.* The three principal leaders of the Catholics, Athanasius of Alexandria, Eustathius of Antioch, and Paul of Constantinople, were deposed on various accusations, by the sentence of numerous councils; and were afterwards banished into distant provinces by the first of the Christian emperors, who, in the last moments of his life, received the rites of baptism from the Arian bishop of Nicomedia. The ecclesiastical government of Constantine cannot be justified from the reproach of levity and weakness. But the credulous monarch, unskilled in the stratagems of theological warfare, might be deceived by the modest and specious professions of the heretics, whose sentiments he never perfectly understood; and, while he protected Arius, and persecuted Athanasius, he still considered the council of Nice as the bulwark of the Christian faith and the peculiar glory of his own reign.* The sons of Constantine must have been admitted from their constantius childhood into the rank of catechumens, but they imitated, ino the delay of their baptism, the example of their father. Like” him, they presumed to pronounce their judgment on mysteries
*We derive the original story from Athanasius (tom. i. p. 670), who expresses some reluctance to stigmatize the memory of the dead. He might exaggerate; but the perpetual commerce of Alexandria and Constantinople would have rendered it dangerous to invent. Those who press the literal narrative of the death of Arius (his bowels suddenly burst out in a privy) must make their option between poison and miracle.
*The change in the sentiments, or at least in the conduct, of Constantine, may be traced in Eusebius (in Vit. Constant. l. iii. c. 23, l. iv. c.41), Socrates (l. i. c. * 39), Sozomen (l. ii. c. 16-34), Theodoret (l. i. c. 14-34), and Philostorgius (l. ii. c. 1-17). But the first of these writers was too near the scene of action and the others were too remote from it. It is singular enough that the important task of continuing the history of the church should have been left for two laymen and a heretic. §: Gwatkin rejects the view that Constantine turned Arian.]
into which they had never been regularly initiated : * and the fate of the Trinitarian controversy depended, in a great measure, on the sentiments of Constantius; who inherited the provinces of the East, and acquired the possession of the whole empire. The Arian presbyter or bishop, who had secreted for his use the testament of the deceased emperor, improved the fortunate occasion which had introduced him to the familiarity of a prince whose public counsels were always swayed by his domestic favourites. The eunuchs and slaves diffused the spiritual poison through the palace, and the dangerous infection was communicated, by the female attendants to the guards, and by the empress to her unsuspicious husband.* The partiality which Constantius always expressed towards the Eusebian faction” was insensibly fortified by the dexterous management of their leaders; and his victory over the tyrant Magnentius increased his inclination, as well as ability, to employ the arms of power in the cause of Arianism. While the two armies were engaged in the plains of Mursa, 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 round 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.* The Arians, who considered as their own the
* Quia etiam tum catechumenus sacramentum fidei merito videretur potuisse nescire. Sulp. Sever. Hist. Sacra, l. ii. p. 410 [c. 39]. * Socrates, l. ii. c. 2. Sozomen, l. iii. c. 18. Athanas, tom. i. p. 813, 834. He observes that the eunuchs are the natural enemies of the Son. Compare Dr. Jortin's Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, vol. iv. p. 3, with a certain genealogy in Candide (ch. ix.), which ends with one of the first companions of Christopher Columbus. 87 [It is important to note that the anti-Nicenes, headed by Eusebius and opposed to Athanasius, did not dare to avow open Arianism till A.D. 357. The strength of the opposition, as Mr. Gwatkin has well brought out, rested on a “formidable mass of conservative discontent,” including Jews, pagans, &c. and especially strong in the province of Asia. ] *Sulpicius Severus, in Hist. Sacra, l. ii. p. 405, 406 [c. 38].
victory of Constantius, preferred his glory to that of his father.” Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, immediately composed the description of a celestial cross encircled with a splendid rainbow ; which during the festival of Pentecost, about the third hour of the day, had appeared over the Mount of Olives, to the edification of the devout pilgrims and the people of the holy city.” The size of the meteor was gradually magnified; and the Arian historian has ventured to affirm that it was conspicuous to the two armies in the plains of Pannonia; and that the tyrant, who is purposely represented as an idolater, fled before the auspicious sign of orthodox Christianity.”
The sentiments of a judicious stranger, who has impartially on.
considered the progress of civil or ecclesiastical discord, are always entitled to our notice: and a short passage of Ammianus, who served in the armies, and studied the character, of Constantius, is perhaps of more value than many pages of theological invectives. “The Christian religion, which, in itself,” says that moderate historian, “is plain and simple, he confounded by the dotage of superstition. Instead of reconciling the parties by the weight of his authority, he cherished and propagated, by verbal disputes, the differences which his vain curiosity had excited. The highways were covered with troops of bishops, galloping from every side to the assemblies, which they call synods; and, while they laboured to reduce the whole sect to their own particular opinions, the public establishment of the posts was almost ruined by their hasty and repeated journies.” ” Our more intimate knowledge of the ecclesiastical
* Cyril (apud Baron. A.D. 353, No. 26) expressly observes that in the reign of Constantine the cross had been found in the bowels of the earth; but that it had appeared, in the reign of Constantius, in the midst of the heavens. This opposition evidently proves that Cyril was ignorant of the stupendous miracle to which the conversion of Constantine is attributed; and this ignorance is the more surprising, since it was no more than twelve years after his death that Cyril was consecrated bishop of Jerusalem by the immediate successor of Eusebius of Caesarea. See Tillemont, Mém. Ecclés. tom. viii. p. 715.
* It is not easy to determine how far the ingenuity of Cyril might be assisted by some natural appearances of a solar halo.
* Philostorgius, l. iii. c. 26. He is followed by the author of the Alexandrian Chronicle, by Cedrenus, and by Nicephorus (see Gothofred. Dissert. p. 188). They could not refuse a miracle, even from the hand of an enemy.
*So curious a passage well deserves to be transcribed. Christianam religionem absolutam et simplicem, anili superstitione confundens; in quâ scrutandā perplexius quam componendà gravius excitaret discidia plurima; quae progressa fusius aluit concertatione verborum, ut catervis antistitum jumentis publicis ultro citroque discurrentibus, per synodos (quas appellant) dum ritum omnem ad suum trahere conantur ([so best Ms.], Valesius reads conatur) rei vehiculariae concideret nervos. Ammianus, xxi. 16.
transactions of the reign of Constantius would furnish an ample commentary on this remarkable passage; which justifies the rational apprehensions of Athanasius that the restless activity of the clergy, who wandered round the empire in search of the true faith, would excite the contempt and laughter of the unbelieving world.” As soon as the emperor was relieved from the terrors of the civil war, he devoted the leisure of his winter quarters at Arles, Milan, Sirmium, and Constantinople, to the amusement or toils of controversy: the sword of the magistrate, and even of the tyrant, was unsheathed, to enforce the reasons of the theologian ; and, as he opposed the orthodox faith of Nice, it is readily confessed that his incapacity and ignorance were equal to his presumption.* The eunuchs, the women, and the bishops, who governed the vain and feeble mind of the emperor, had inspired him with an insuperable dislike to the Homoousion; but his timid conscience was alarmed by the impiety of Aetius. The guilt of that atheist was aggravated by the suspicious favour of the unfortunate Gallus; and even the deaths of the Imperial ministers who had been massacred at Antioch were imputed to the suggestions of that dangerous sophist. The mind of Constantius, which could neither be moderated by reason nor fixed by faith, was blindly impelled to either side of the dark and empty abyss by his horror of the opposite extreme: he alternately embraced and condemned the sentiments, he successively banished and recalled the leaders, of the Arian and Semi-Arian factions.” During the season of public business or festivity, he employed whole days, and even nights, in selecting the words, and weighing the syllables, which composed his fluctuating creeds. The subject of his meditation still pursued and occupied his slumbers; the incoherent dreams of the emperor were received as celestial visions; and he accepted with complacency the lofty title of bishop of bishops, from those ecclesiastics who forgot the interest of their order for the gratification of their passions. The design
* Athanas. tom. i. p. 870.
*Socrates, l. ii. c. 35-47. Sozomen, l. iv. c. 12-30. Theodoret, l. ii. c. 18-32. Philostorg. l. iv. c. 4-12; l. v. c. 1-4; l. vi. c. 1-5.
*Sozomen, l. iv. c. 23, Athanas. tom. i. p. 831. Tillemont (Mém. Ecclés. tom. vii. p. 947) has collected several instances of the haughty fanaticism of Constantius from the detached treatises of Lucifer of Cagliari. The very titles of these treatises inspire zeal and terror; “Moriendum pro Dei Filio,” “De Regibus Apostaticis,” “De non conveniendo cum Haeretico,” “De non parcendo in Deum delinquentibus". [Exiled 355-361. His strictness led him to renounce communion with Athanasius as tainted by Arianism. His works are printed in Migne, Patrol. xiii., and there is a new ed. by Hartel, 1886.]