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CHAP. VIII.-SYNODICAL LETTER FROM THE BISHOPS ASSEMBLED AT SARDICA, ADDRESSED TO THE OTHER BISHOPS.
"THE holy council assembled at Sardica, from Rome, Spain, Gaul, Italy, Campania, Calabria, Africa, Sardinia, Pannonia, Moesia, Dacia, Dardania, Lesser Dacia, Macedonia, Thessaly, Achaia, Epirus, Thrace, Rhodope, Asia, Caria, Bithynia, the Hellespont, Phrygia, Pisidia, Cappadocia, Pontus, another Phrygia, Cilicia, Pamphylia, Lydia, the Cyclades, Egypt, Thebes, Libya, Galatia, Palestine, and Arabia, to the bishops throughout the world, our fellow-ministers in the catholic and apostolic church, and our beloved brethren in the Lord. Peace be unto you.
"The infatuation of the Arians has often led them to the perpetration of violent atrocities against the faithful servants of God; they introduce false doctrines themselves, and persecute those who uphold orthodox principles. So violent was their opposition to the faith, that it reached the ears of our beloved emperors. Through the grace of God, the emperors have summoned us from different provinces and cities to the holy council which they have appointed to be held in the city of Sardica, in order that all dissensions may be terminated, all evil doctrines repressed, and the religion of Christ alone established amongst all people. Some bishops from the East have attended the council at the solicitation of our most religious emperors, principally on account of the reports circulated against our beloved brethren and fellow-ministers, Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, Marcellus, bishop of Ancyra in Galatia, and Asclepas, bishop of Gaza. Perhaps the Arians have already tried to make you believe their groundless accusations of the innocent, and no doubt have endeavoured to prevent any suspicion being excited in your mind of the depraved heresy which they uphold: but they have not long been permitted so much freedom of action. The Lord is the Protector of the church; for it and for us all he suffered death, and opened for us the way to heaven.
"The adherents of Eusebius, Maris, Theodore, Theognis, Ursacius, Valens, Menophantes, and Stephen, have fre
Athanasius, in his Second "Apolog. contr. Arianos," makes mention of Eusebius only. Valesius thinks that several besides Eusebius joined in the letters to Julius, but he exempts Menophantes and Stephen.
quently written to Julius, the bishop of Rome, and our fellowminister, against our aforesaid fellow-ministers, Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, Marcellus, bishop of Ancyra in Galatia, and Asclepas, bishop of Gaza. Some other bishops1 wrote to Julius, testifying the innocence of Athanasius, and proving that all that had been asserted by the partisans of Eusebius was nothing more than falsehood and calumny. The refusal of the Arians to obey the summons of our beloved brother and fellow-ruler, Julius, and also the letter written by that bishop, clearly prove the falseness of their accusation. For they would have gone to Rome had they believed that what they had done and represented against our fellow-minister admitted of justification. But their mode of procedure in that great and holy council is a manifest proof of their fraud. For when, upon their arrival at Sardica, they perceived that our brethren, Athanasius, Marcellus, Asclepas, and others, were there also, they were afraid of entering the council, although they had been summoned to attend it, not once or twice only, but repeatedly; and although they were expected by the assembled bishops, who were all worthy of honour and respect, particularly the venerable Hosius, on account of his advanced age, his adherence to the faith, and his labours in the church. Their refusal to attend the council, and their ignominious flight from it, prove more forcibly than any arguments the inaccuracy of their representations, and the duplicity of their designs.
"Those who are confident of the truth of their assertions are always ready to avow them openly. But as these accusers would not appear to substantiate what they had advanced, any future allegations which they may by their usual artifices bring against our fellow-ministers, will only be regarded as proceeding from a desire of slandering them in their absence, not daring to confront them openly. They fled, beloved brethren, not only because they dared not avow their own calumnies, but also because they knew that they could not refute the accusations which would be brought against them. They were charged with having used chains, and the sword, as the engines of their cruelty. Several individuals were pre
The allusion probably is to the letter of the bishops of Egypt, addressed to Julius and to all the bishops of the Catholic Church, of which mention is made by Athanasius, ubi supr.
sent whom they had exiled: others came forward as deputies from those still kept in exile. The relations and friends of those whom they had put to death also attended: and what was of most importance, bishops also appeared against them; one of whom exhibited the irons and the chains with which they had bound him. There were also witnesses to testify that the death of many others had been occasioned by their calumnies. Their infatuation led them to such excesses that they even attempted the life of a bishop; and he would have fallen a sacrifice to their fury, had he not escaped from their hands. Theodulus, our fellow-minister, of blessed memory, died while striving to make his escape from them; for, on account of their calumnies, he had been condemned to death. Some showed the wounds which the swords of these persecutors had inflicted on them; others deposed that they had been exposed to the torments of famine.
"All these depositions were made, not by a few obscure individuals, but by whole churches; the presbyters of these churches clearly proving that the persecutors had excited the military against their enemies, that they had armed the people for the same purpose, and that they endeavoured to terrify them into subjection by judicial threats, and by the production of spurious documents.
"Letters were read which had been written by Theognis, for the purpose of prejudicing the emperor against our fellowministers, Athanasius, Marcellus, and Asclepas. This was attested by those who had formerly been the deacons of Theognis. It was also proved that they had denuded virgins, burnt churches, and imprisoned our fellow-ministers, and all for no other purpose than to support the infatuated principles of Arianism, and to take vengeance on those who refused to be associated with them. The consciousness of having committed all these crimes threw them into great perplexity. Intent upon concealing their culpability, they repaired to Sardica, thinking that their boldness in venturing thither would efface all suspicion of their guilt. But when they perceived that those whom they had falsely accused, and also those who had suffered much from their cruelty, were present; and that likewise several had come forward with various irrefragable accusations against them, they would not enter the 1 ἀνέστη. "Recessit, vel sedem suam reliquit," morte scil.
council, although our fellow-ministers, Athanasius, Marcellus, and Asclepas, took every means to induce them to attend ; proposing not only to prove the fraudulency of the accusations they had advanced, but also to demonstrate the truth of those which were laid to their charge, and likewise to show how deeply they had injured their churches. But they were so utterly overwhelmed by the terrors of conscience, that they took to flight, and by this flight was clearly proved the falsity of their accusations, as well as their own guilt. But though their calumny and perfidy, which had indeed been apparent from the beginning, were now clearly perceived, yet we determined to examine the circumstances of the case according to the laws of truth, lest they should, from their very flight, derive pretexts for renewed acts of deceitfulness.
"Upon carrying this resolution into effect, we proved by their actions that they were calumniators, and that they had formed artful designs against our fellow-ministers. Arsenius, whom they declared had been put to death by Athanasius, is still living. This fact alone is sufficient to show that their other allegations are false. Although they spread a report everywhere that a chalice had been broken by Macarius, one of the presbyters of Athanasius, yet those who came from Alexandria, from Mareota, and from other places, testified that this was not the fact; and the bishops in Egypt wrote to Julius, our fellow-minister, declaring that there were no data for harbouring the least suspicion that such a deed had been committed.
"The memorials which the Arians pretend to possess against Macarius, have been all drawn up by one party: and in these documents the depositions of Pagans and of Catechumens were included. One of these Catechumens, when interrogated, replied, that he was in the church when Macarius entered it. Another deposed that Ischyras, on whom they had conferred so much celebrity, was then lying ill in his cell. Hence it appears that the mysteries could not have been celebrated at that time, as the Catechumens were present, and as Ischyras was absent; for he was at that very time confined by illness. Ischyras, that wicked man who had falsely affirmed that Athanasius had burnt the sacred books, and had been convicted of the crime, now confessed that he was ill in bed 1 Compare Socrates, Eccl. Hist. b. i. ch. 29.
when Macarius arrived; hence the fraudulency of his accusation was clearly demonstrated. His calumny was, however, rewarded by his party; for he was made a bishop, although previously he had not even been raised to the priesthood. For two presbyters, who some time back had lived with Melitius, and were afterwards received by the blessed Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and who are now with Athanasius, protested that he had never been ordained as an elder, and that Melitius had never ruled the church nor exercised any ministry in Mareota. Yet, although he had never been ordained as an elder, they promoted him to a bishopric, in order that his title might, by imposing upon the imaginations of those who heard it, lead to the reception of his false accusations.
"The writings of our fellow-minister, Marcellus, were also read, and plainly evinced the duplicity of the adherents of Eusebius; for what Marcellus had simply suggested as a point of inquiry, they affirmed that he had laid down as an established principle. The arguments which he had advanced, before and after the inquiry, were read, and his faith was proved to be orthodox. He did not affirm, as they represented, that the origin of the Word of God was dated from the conception of the holy Mary, or that his kingdom would have an end. On the contrary, he wrote that his kingdom had had no beginning, and would have no end. Asclepas, our fellow-minister, produced the memorials drawn up at Antioch in the presence of the accusers, and of Eusebius, bishop of Cæsarea; and proved his innocence by the sentence of the bishops who had presided as judges. It was not then without cause, beloved brethren, that, although so frequently summoned, they would not attend the council; it was not without reason that they took to flight. The reproaches of conscience constrained them to make their escape, and thus, at the same time, to demonstrate the groundlessness of their calumnies, and the truth of those accusations which were advanced and proved against them. Besides all the other grounds of complaint, it may be added, that all those who had been accused of holding the Arian heresy, and had been ejected in consequence, were not only received, but advanced to the highest dignities by them. They raised deacons. to the office of the presbytery; and the presbyters who had been deposed, they promoted to the dignity of bishops; and
'The ground of complaint here is, not that they had promoted some