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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

THIS formulary was condemned by all the adherents of truth, and particularly by the bishops of the West, as is testified by their letter to the bishops of Illyria. This letter was signed by Damasus, the virtuous successor of Liberius in the government of the church of Rome, and likewise by ninety bishops from Italy and from the country of the Galatae, which is now called Gaul, who were then assembled in Rome. I should have inserted their names, had it not appeared superfluous to do so. The following is the letter written by them:—

“Damasus, Valens, and the other bishops assembled at the holy council held at Rome, to the beloved brethren the bishops of Illyria. Peace be unto you in the Lord.

“We believe that you adhere to that holy faith which is founded on the doctrines of the apostles, and is conformable to the opinions of the fathers, and that you preach it to the people; for the priests of God, whose vocation is to instruct others, ought not to depart from the truth. But we have heard from our brethren in Gaul and at Venice, that there are some who are zealous to introduce heresy; an evil which all the bishops are bound to guard against, as well as against whatever is contrary to true interpretation of doctrines, lest any should, from ignorance or from simplicity, be deluded, and be led to listen to those who devise new doctrines, instead of adhering to the faith of our fathers. Auxentius, bishop of Milan, was justly condemned on this very account. It is then right that all the teachers of the law throughout the Roman empire should be of one mind, and not destroy by disputes the unity of the faith. As soon as the evil of heresy began to reach that pitch which the Arian blasphemy has now attained, three hundred and eighteen of our fathers were selected by the most holy bishop of Rome to deliberate on the subject at Nice; and they then erected a wall against the weapons of the devil, and prepared an antidote against the deadly poison of heresy. This antidote is the declaration that the Father and the Son have one substance, one divinity, one virtue, one power, one character, and that the Holy Ghost is likewise of the same hypostasis and substance. We have decided that those who advocate other opinions are to be excluded from communion with us. Certain individuals have endeavoured to pervert and to violate this salutary and excellent decision. But those who thus acted at the council of Rimini have since retracted, and have confessed that they were deceived; they stated that heretical doctrines were propounded in so specious a manner at that council, that they did not appear to be at variance with the decrees of our fathers at Nice. The number of those assembled at Rimini ought not to occasion any prejudice against the truth, because they assembled without the sanction either of the bishop of Rome, whose opinion ought to have been consulted before that of any other bishop, or of Vincent, who had during so many years exercised the episcopal functions; and also without the consent of many others who held similar sentiments. And besides, those bishops who had been deluded, and who hence appeared to vacillate, testified, as soon as they became undeceived, that their own dereliction from better principles had really grieved them. You must now perceive, that the articles of faith settled at Nice, upon the authority of the apostles, ought to be firmly established, and that the bishops both of the East and of the West, who profess to be catholics, ought to take pride in preserving unity with us. We believe that, before long, those who hold sentiments at variance with ours will be excluded from communion with us, and be deprived of the very name of bishop, so that the people, being freed from their errors, may have liberty to breathe. The multitude cannot be liberated from error by those who cling to it themselves. Accord in opinion with the priests of God; we believe that you are in this respect firm and stedfast, but in order that we may not doubt it, gladden us by communicating this fact to us by letter. Farewell, much honoured brethren.”








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