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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

“WE believe that it is by the help of God, and through your pious enactment, that so many bishops are now assembled at Rimini from all the cities of the West, for the purpose of publicly recognizing the faith of the catholic church, and of detecting heretics. For after having deeply reflected upon the subject, it seems right to us to adhere to the ancient faith which was preached by the prophets, the evangelists, and the apostles, through Jesus Christ our Lord, the Protector of your empire, and the Guardian of your own well being. This faith we have always held, and we will adhere to it even to the end. It appeared absurd and impious to us to alter the orthodox and just declarations drawn up at Nice, by common consent of the bishops and of your father Constantine of glorious memory. The doctrines then established were declared and preached to all men, and were used as the means not only of confuting the Arian heresy, but also of expunging all other heresies. Nothing could be altered in this formulary, without making room for the introduction of the deleterious poison of heretical doctrines. Ursacius and Valens were at one period suspected of having imbibed the Arian heresy, and were in consequence suspended from communion with us. They, however, afterwards petitioned for forgiveness, and promised amendment upon its being accorded. This is testified by their own writings, and by the pardon granted by the church at the time when the synod was convened at Milan, at which the presbyters of the church of Rome were present. We repeat, that we consider it absurd to make any innovations in that confession of faith, which was submitted to accurate examination in the presence of Constantine, and in the belief of which he was baptised, and entered into the eternal rest. Besides, this confession was held and signed by many holy confessors of the faith, and by martyrs, who adhered inviolably to the ancient decrees of the church. This faith has been preserved even to this present period in which you have received from God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, the empire of the world.

“Some wretched individuals of disordered intellect have again had the boldness and audacity to preach impious doctrines, and are still endeavouring to overturn those doctrines which have been established according to all the principles of truth. For when we had assembled in council according to your edict, to deliberate on the doctrines of the faith, we were presented with a formulary drawn up by those disturbers of the peace of the church, with whom Germanius, Auxentius, and Caius are now associated. The doctrines set forth in this formulary were blasphemous. On its being rejected by the council, they endeavoured to make sundry alterations in it: this indeed they effected within a very short space of time. But in order that the church may not be subjected to further disturbance, it appeared right to us to preserve the ancient form of belief, and to suspend the persons above-mentioned from communion with us. We have sent despatches to acquaint your majesty with these particulars; the sentiments of the council will be learnt from the letters. We have charged these deputies to endeavour, above all things, to ensure the firm and permanent establishment of the ancient doctrines. We have also enjoined upon them to acquaint you that what has been asserted by Ursacius and Valens, namely, that peace can be procured by the introduction of slight changes, is not true. How can peace be secured by those who have subverted it; and especially by those who have filled all the cities, and particularly the church of Rome, with disputes and troubles? Hence we beseech your clemency to give a gracious reception and a favourable bearing to our deputies, and not permit the dead to be injured by the mutation of those doctrines which, we are persuaded, were implanted in their minds by the Holy Ghost. For these innovations are not only grievous to believers, but likewise deter unbelievers from receiving the faith. We also beseech you to command that those bishops who are detained at Rimini, of whom some are suffering from the infirmities of age and the hardships of poverty, may be sent back to their own dioceses, in order that the churches may no longer be rendered desolate by the absence of their bishops. We now again beseech you that nothing may be added to, or taken away from, the faith; but that those doctrines, which were so carefully preserved during the reign of your father, may now and henceforth be suffered to remain unchanged. Do not in future permit us to be torn from our dioceses, and sent to distant regions; but allow the bishops to remain peaceably and undisturbed with their own people, that they may pray for the prosperity of your empire, for your own salvation, and for peace. Our deputies will present you with documents containing the signatures and the names of all the bishops.”

The principal courtiers, who all favoured the Arian heresy, presented these documents to the emperor; but they would not permit the deputies to enter the palace, assigning as a reason to them, that the emperor was occupied with public affairs. They thus acted because they imagined that the bishops would be wearied by the length of time they were detained, and would become anxious to return to their own cities, thus abandoning all the advantages that they had gained against heresy. But this artifice did not succeed; for these noble defenders of the faith despatched another letter to the emperor, entreating him to receive their deputies, and to dismiss the council. I shall here insert their letter.








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