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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

CONSTANTIUS had been at Constantinople ever since his return from the West. Acacius laid before him many accusations against the bishops assembled at Seleucia, whom he represented as wicked men who were plotting the ruin and destruction of the church. The emperor was aroused to indignation. But that which most deeply incensed him was a false accusation which Acacius brought against Cyril, who, he said, had sold to an actor the sacred robe of golden cloth which the celebrated emperor Constantine had, to honour the church of Jerusalem, presented to Macarius, then bishop of the city, that he might put it on whenever he administered the holy ordinance of baptism: the actor who had purchased this robe appeared in it at the theatre, and suddenly fell down and expired. Acacius also told the emperor that the other bishops had associated this same Cyril with themselves in all their deliberations, and that they passed judgment on others according to his opinion. The principal courtiers seized this pretext to persuade the emperor to send for ten bishops only, and not to summon the whole council; for they were fearful lest unanimity of opinion might prevail in so great an assembly of bishops. Among the ten principal bishops who were summoned, were Eustathius bishop of Armenia, Basil bishop of Galatia, Silvanus bishop of Tarsus, and Eleusius bishop of Cyzicum. Upon their arrival, they besought permission of the emperor to proceed at once to the investigation of the blasphemy and guilt of Eudoxius. But the emperor, at the instigation of the adverse party, said that it was necessary to deliberate first on matters relating to the faith, and that then his case might be examined. Basil, with the confidence which naturally arose from his former familiarity with the emperor, reproved him for having formed designs against the apostolical doctrines. Constantius became irritated, commanded Basil to be silent, and charged him with being the cause of the tempest which agitated the church. When Basil had thus been silenced, Eustathius exclaimed, “Since you desire, O Emperor, that the doctrines of the faith should be examined, turn your attention to the blasphemy against the only begotten Son which Eudoxius has dared to utter; for he has but just presented his formulary of faith, which contains the following among many other impious declarations: ‘Those things which are enunciated by different terms, differ also in substance. Now it is said there is one God the Father, of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things. Here the expressions of whom and by whom are not synonymous. The Son, therefore, is dissimilar from God the Father.’ ” The emperor, after having this confession of faith read to him, was moved to indignation by the impiety it contained, and asked Eudoxius whether it had been composed by him. Eudoxius affirmed that it was not written by him but by Aëtius. This was the same Aëtius who some time previously had been deprived of the office of deacon by Leontius, from the dread of the accusations of Flavianus and Diodorus: he had also been the accomplice of George, bishop of Alexandria, and had taken an active part in all his impious discourses and unholy enterprizes. Aëtius was then residing with Eunomius at the house of Eudoxius: for, at the death of Leontius, Eudoxius having seized the government of the church of Antioch, Aëtius had returned from Egypt, and had brought Eunomius with him. When he discovered that Eudoxius held the same sentiments as himself, and that his impious principles were combined with the luxurious habits of the Sybarites, he preferred to reside in Antioch rather than in any other city. He and Eunomius frequented the table of Eudoxius, and led the life of parasites, going hither and thither with the sole intent of gormandizing. These things coming to the knowledge of the emperor, he desired Aëtius to be brought before him, and, showing him the formulary, asked him whether he was the author of it? Aëtius, being totally ignorant of what had transpired, and unaware of the cause of the question being put to him, and expecting also that his confession of the fact would elicit applause, said that he was indeed the author of the document. The emperor, having thus detected his great impiety, immediately condemned him to banishment, and sent him to a region of Phrygia. Thus Aëtius reaped disgrace as the fruit of his blasphemy, and was thrust out of the palace. Eustathius deposed that Eudoxius held the same views as Aëtius who had indited these blasphemies, that he had been an inmate of the same house, and had sat down at the same table, and had been subservient to all his designs. Eustathius added, that this writing could not have been drawn up without the knowledge and concurrence of Eudoxius; and that this was proved by his having declared that it was written by Aëtius. The emperor said that the decision of judges ought not to rest upon conjectures, but upon the results of close and accurate examination. To this observation Eustathius made the following reply:—“Let Eudoxius convince us that he does not hold these sentiments, by pronouncing an anathema against the formulary of Aëtius.” The emperor having agreed to this proposal, Eudoxius endeavoured by various artifices to evade pronouncing the condemnation to which he had been challenged. But when the emperor became irritated, and threatened to send him into banishment with Aëtius as the accomplice in his impiety, he publicly renounced his own doctrines, which, however, he never desisted from defending. Eudoxius then objected to Eustathius that he and the other bishops ought to condemn the word con-substantial, as it is not to be found in Scripture. Silvanus replied, that, as the statements that the Son was called out of nothing into being, that he is a creature, and of a different substance from the Father, do not occur in Scripture, nor in the writings of prophets, nor of the apostles, it was but just that such statements should be condemned and expunged by those who held them. The emperor assented to this, and commanded the partizans of Eudoxius to condemn these expressions. At first they made some objections, but at length perceiving the indignation of the emperor, they reluctantly condemned the statements cited by Silvanus, and they demanded with greater vehemence than before that the term con-substantial should likewise be condemned. But Silvanus addressed both them and the emperor with subtlety as well as with truth. If the Word who is God was not created, if he is not a creature, if he is not of a different substance, he must be of the same substance as God who begat him; for he is God of God and Light of Light, and of the same nature as the Father who begat him.” But though he maintained these arguments with power and with truth, he did not succeed in convincing any one. The partisans of Acacius and Eudoxius raised loud shouts against him; and the emperor, being angry, threatened to expel him from the church. Eleusius, Silvanus, and others, told the emperor that he had the right of inflicting punishment, but that the right of judging between piety and impiety was theirs, and that they would never swerve from the doctrines of the fathers. Constantius, instead of applauding their wisdom and courage, and their defence of the apostolical doctrines, banished them from their churches and appointed others in their place. Eudoxius then seized the government of the church of Constantinople; and Eunomius took possession of the bishopric of Cyzicum, whence Eleusius had been ejected. The emperor then commanded a written condemnation of Aëtius to be prepared, so that his associates in impiety were compelled to condemn one holding the same sentiments as themselves. They wrote to George, bishop of Alexandria, informing him of what had been done against Aëtius. In proof of their malice I shall here insert their letter, for they treated those who coincided in their opinions and those who opposed them in the same manner.








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