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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

“TO the very religious, most benevolent and victorious Augustus Jovian, from Athanasius and the other bishops assembled in person, from all Egypt, from Thebes, and from Lybia.

“It is right for a pious emperor to seek and long after the knowledge of heavenly things. It clearly proves that your heart is in the hand of God, and that you will govern the empire in tranquillity during a long course of years. As you piously desire to learn from us the faith of the Catholic Church, we have, after rendering thanks on your behalf to God, determined above all things to propound to you the faith confessed by our fathers at Nice. Some having renounced this faith, have laid various snares for us, because we would not be led into the Arian heresy. These persons are the authors of heresy and of schism in the Catholic Church. The true faith in our Lord Jesus Christ can be apprehended by all, for it may be both learnt and read in the holy Scriptures. It was in this faith that the saints were perfected by martyrdom; they are now freed from all bondage, and are in the Lord. This faith would have continued for ever in all its purity, had it not been corrupted by the daring attacks of heretics. Arius, and others with him, endeavoured to destroy it, and to exalt irreligion in its stead, by saying that the Son of God was called out of nothing into being, that He is a creature, and a work, and that He is subject to change. Numbers were deceived by them, and many of those who held the most prominent place in the church were led away by their blasphemies. When our holy fathers assembled, as we have already stated, at the council of Nice, they anathematized the heresy of Arianism. They drew up in writing a confession of the faith of the Catholic Church, and by the preaching of this faith in every place all the heresies which have been framed by heretics have been overthrown. This faith was known and preached everywhere, and in every church. But some persons, desiring to renew the Arian heresy, have had the temerity to renounce the confession of faith made by our fathers at Nice, while others who appear to receive it, do in fact deny it, by giving a false interpretation to the word ‘consubstantial,’ and by uttering blasphemies against the Holy Ghost, saying that he was made by the Son; we therefore perceive that to prevent these blasphemies from proving injurious to the people, it is necessary to place before you the Nicean confession of faith; in order that you may know with what accuracy it was written, and also how great is the errror of those who espouse other doctrines. Know then, O most religious Augustus, that this faith which was confessed by our fathers at Nice, was preached in the beginning of the gospel, and has received the assent of the churches of all places—namely, of those of Spain, Britain and Gaul, of all Italy, Campania, Dalmatia, Dacia, Mœsia, Macedonia, of all Greece, of all those of Africa, Sardinia, Cyprus and Crete, Pamphylia, Lycia, Isauria, of all Egypt and Lybia, Pontus, Cappadocia, and of neighbouring countries, and of all the Eastern churches, with the exception of a few who advocate Avian doctrines. We have learnt by experience the sentiments of all the aforesaid churches, having been engaged in correspondence with them. And we know, O most religious Augustus, that the few who oppose this faith cannot prevail against all the churches of the universe, by whom it is maintained. As these persons have been long under the injurious influence of Arianism, they resist religion with much pertinacity. In order that you may know what articles of faith were confessed at Nice by three hundred and eighteen bishops, the confession shall be here inserted. It is as follows:—

‘We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, the maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, who is of the substance of the Father, God of God, light of light, very God of very God, begotten and not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things in heaven and on earth were made. Who for ns men and our salvation came down from heaven, and took upon him our nature, and became man, and suffered death. He rose again the third day and ascended into heaven; and he will come again to judge the living and the dead. And we believe in the Holy Ghost. The holy catholic and apostolic church pronounces condemnation on those who say that there was a time when the Son of God existed not, that before he was begotten he was not, that he was formed out of nothing, or that he is of a different hypostasis or substance from the Father, that he is a creature, or that he is subject to change.’

“It is necessary, O beloved Augustus, to maintain this faith, for it is divine and apostolical, and no one ought to pervert it by specious arguments, or by contentious words, as has been done from the beginning by the Arians, who have pretended that the Son of God was formed out of nothing, that there was a period when he had no existence, that he is a creature and a work, and that he is subject to change. It was on this account that the council of Nice anathematized the Arian heresy, as we have stated above, and propounded an exposition of the truth. In this formulary it is not merely said that the Son is like the Father, lest it should be believed that He is only similar to God; but it is written that he is consubstantial with God, and this is an expression which can only be used with respect to the true Son, begotten of the Father. This exposition does not speak of the Holy Ghost as separate from the Father and the Son, but renders glory to Him, and the Father, and the Son, in the faith of the one holy Trinity, and recognizes the same divine nature in three persons.”








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