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A History Of The Church In Five Books by Theodoret

COPY of the letter written by all the council to George, concerning the atrocious blasphemy of his deacon Aëtius.

“The holy synod assembled at Constantinople saluteth the much honoured George, bishop of Alexandria.

“The bishops, by condemning the unlawful and scandalous writings of Aëtius, have acted in conformity with the canons of the church. They have likewise ejected him from the office of deacon, and have excommunicated him. They admonished us to refrain from reading his letters, and desired us to destroy his writings on account of their inutility and pernicious tendency. They also enacted that a sentence of condemnation should be issued against him and his adherents if he persisted in his error. It would have been well if the author of all the offences, troubles, schisms, and tumults which have agitated the whole world, and of the disputes which have divided the members of the church, had been regarded with aversion by all the bishops assembled at the council, so that they might have unanimously concurred in the sentence pronounced against him. But, contrary to all our hopes and expectations, Serras, Stephen, Heliodorus, Theophilus, and others refused to assent to our decision, or to sign the sentence which we had adjudged. Yet Serras accused Aëtius of the grossest infatuation, alleging that he had had the presumption and audacity to declare that God had revealed to him what had been kept concealed from the apostles. Even after proof of the infatuation and arrogance of Aëtius had been adduced by Serras, they could not be led either by entreaties or by arguments to sign the sentence which we had decreed against him. We bore with them patiently for a longtime, addressing them alternately in tones of indignation, of entreaty, and of rebuke, and then beseeching them to agree with us and with the whole council. We waited a long time to see if they would yield to the force of our arguments. But when we had borne with them during so long a period, and had found that they would not yield nor assent to the condemnation of the aforesaid individual, we testified that we held the canons of the church in higher estimation than the friendship of men, and we excluded them from communion; we gave them, however, six months for repentance and amendment, and for reconciliation with the synod. We determined that if within the time appointed they repented of their error, became united in opinion with their brethren, and assented to the decree against Aëtius, they should be admitted into communion with the church, and should receive from us, in all the synods, the authority and the love which they had previously enjoyed; but that if, regarding the friendship of men more than the laws of the church and unity with us, they persisted in refusing to repent of their temerity, that we should then consider them unworthy of the episcopal dignity. Upon their deposition, it became requisite that other bishops should fill their offices, in order that the church may be united in opinion, that the bonds of love may be preserved between the bishops of every region, and that they all may declare the same truths, and be of one mind and of one opinion. This is what we had to mention to you respecting the decrees of the council. We pray that you may be enabled to observe them; and that you may, by the grace of Christ, peaceably and lawfully govern the church which is under you.”








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