HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 







A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

“To our most honoured lords, and most religious brethren and fellow-ministers, Damasis, Ambrose, Brittonius, Valerian, Ascholius, Anemius, Basil, and to the other holy bishops assembled in the great city of Rome, the orthodox bishops, who are convened in the great city of Constantinople, send greeting in the Lord.

“It would be useless to describe to you, as if you were ignorant of the facts, the innumerable evils which we have suffered from the fury and the power of the Arians. For we cannot believe that our sufferings have been regarded with so much indifference by you, that you can now require to be informed of that in which you ought long ago to have sympathised. The tempests with which we have been visited cannot be unknown to you. The shortness of the time which has elapsed since the persecution, renders it impossible that these things could have passed away from the memory either of the sufferers, or of those whose love constrains them to make the sorrows of others their own. It was but, as it were, yesterday, that many who had been exposed to numberless afflictions were permitted to return from banishment. The dead bodies of many who died in exile have been brought home. Some, after their return from banishment, have been exposed to greater sufferings in their own houses, from the fury of the heretics, than they ever experienced in foreign and distant lands. Some of them, like the blessed Stephen, were stoned to death. Various species of tortures were inflicted on others, so that they bear in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus. Who can estimate the amount of the taxes which were laid upon the cities? Who can compute the number of individuals who were proscribed, or reckon up the long list of plots, of insults, and of imprisonments? In fact our sufferings were so multiplied as to exceed arithmetical computation; and this must have arisen either from the justice of God in visiting our sins with chastisement; or from his mercy, in being willing to exercise our patience by the severity of afflictions. We therefore return thanks to God for having, by so many visitations, bestowed instruction on us his servants, and for having, according to the fulness of his mercy, worked out deliverance for us. Much leisure, a long period of time, and great labour, are requisite to enable us to remove the disorders into which the church has so long been plunged, and to restore it to its original state of healthful piety. For although we are now freed from the violence of persecutions, and have recovered the churches which were so long in the possession of the heretics, we are still molested by wolves who, ever since they have been expelled from the fold, have continually seized the sheep in the forests, have excited the people to sedition, and have watched for opportunities of injuring the church. Hence it is necessary, as I have already stated, to bestow much time upon these important matters. You have manifested to us your brotherly love, as is signified in the letters of your most pious emperor, by inviting us to attend as your members at the council which you intend, according to the will of God, to hold in Rome, in order that as we alone had to struggle with affliction, you may not reign alone now that the emperors are of one accord in religion; but that, to use the expression of the apostle, we may reign with you. It was our prayer to have been enabled to comply with your desire, and we were ready to ask, who will give us the wings of a dove, that we may fly to you and repose by your side? But we could not join you without leaving our churches, which now would be inexpedient, because the work of restoration is commencing, and nothing can be done without us. We were assembled at Constantinople when we received your letters. The preceding year we had been convened at the council of Aquila by the most pious emperor Theodosius. Those only who had been convened from the various provinces to the council of Constantinople have been apprised of the proposition; and we were all of opinion that it was not expedient to undertake longer voyages. Besides the time is too short to admit of our making preparations for so long a journey, or of our communicating with the bishops of the various provinces on the subject, and obtaining their sanction. And besides, as many amongst us are prevented by other insuperable obstacles from undertaking the voyage, we adopt the only means in our power of effecting the two objects of carrying forward the restoration of the church, and at the same time of manifesting to you our love towards you. We have commissioned our most revered and honoured brethren and fellow-labourers, the bishops Cyriacus, Eusebius, and Priscian, to go to you, and to certify that we desire nothing but peace, that we seek nothing but unity, and that all our zeal is concentrated in the maintenance of sound faith. Whether we have suffered persecutions, distresses, menaces of emperors, tyranny of rulers, or the cruelty of heretics, we have suffered them in defence of the faith of the gospel which was signed at Nice, in Bithynia, by three hundred and eighteen fathers. You, and I, and all who do not wish to overturn the word of truth, must agree in this confession of faith; for in it are set forth the ancient doctrines which are conformable to baptism, which teach us to believe in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and which declare that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, have the same divinity, the same substance, and the same power; and that the three perfect hypostases, or three perfect persons, are co-equal and co-eternal. Therefore we have rejected the hypothesis of Sabellius 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 God-head, and who, denying the uncreated consubstantial and co-eternal Trinity, speak of a Trinity which they represent as having been created, or as consisting of diverse natures. We have preserved in all its purity the doctrine concerning the incarnation of the Lord, not admitting that he assumed an imperfect body, destitute either of a soul or of mind; but confessing that the Word of God was perfect before all ages, and that in the last times He, for our salvation, became perfect man. This is a brief summary of the faith which we constantly preach; you will be led to look upon this confession with still higher satisfaction if you will peruse the document written by the Synod of Antioch, and also that drawn up last year at the general council of Constantinople; for in these documents the doctrines of faith are more fully explained, and they contain likewise the condemnation, to which our own signatures are affixed, of the heresies which have lately arisen. With respect to the government of individual churches, there is, as you know, an ancient decree established by the holy fathers when assembled in Nice, which enjoins that the ceremony of ordination should be performed by the bishops of the particular province in which it takes place, or, if agreeable to them, by the bishops of the neighbouring provinces who may be with them. You must know that we have closely adhered to this canon, and that the bishops of our most important cities have been ordained in accordance with it. The church of Constantinople, for instance, which may be said to be only recently founded, we having but just rescued it, through the mercy of God, from the blasphemy of the heretics as from the jaws of a lion, has received the most revered and beloved Narcissus for its bishop: he was ordained by the unanimous consent of the general council in the presence of our most pious emperor Theodosius, amid the joyful acclamations of the clergy and of all the city. In the same way also did the bishops of Syria and of the East ordain, by unanimous consent and with the approval of the church, the most honoured and beloved Flavian to the government of the church of Antioch, the city in which the name of Christian was first introduced. His ordination has since been ratified by a council. We must apprise you that the revered and pious. Cyril is bishop of the church of Jerusalem, which is the mother of all the churches, that he was ordained according to law by the bishops of the province, and that he has in various places withstood the Arians. We beseech you to rejoice with us that these bishops have been ordained in a manner so strictly in accordance with the canon, and we entreat you to be united to them by spiritual love and by the fear of the Lord, which represses human passions, and which causes us to attach more importance to the edification of the church than to the love or sympathy of any creature. When we have come to one mind respecting the doctrines of faith, and when Christian love is established between us, we shall cease, from saying what the apostle condemns, ‘I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas.’ We shall all be of Christ, who will not be divided in us; but, by God’s help, we shall preserve the oneness of the body of the church, and shall stand with confidence before the tribunal of the Lord.”

Thus did the bishops write against the errors of Arius, Aëtius, Eunomius, Sabellius, Photinus, Marcellus, Paul of Samosata, and Macedonius. They also openly condemned the new doctrines of Apollinaris, saying:—“We have preserved unchanged the doctrine of our Lord’s incarnation, and we cannot admit that he assumed our incomplete body destitute of either soul or mind.” Damasis, who merited the highest celebrity, had no sooner heard of the rise of this heresy, than he deposed Apollinaris and his disciple Timothy, and ejected them from the church. This he signified to the bishops of the East by a letter which I shall now insert.








Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com