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A History Of The Church In Six Books by Evagrius

DURING the time that Vigilius was bishop of the Elder Rome, and first Menas, then Eutychius of New Rome, Apollinaris of Alexandria, Domninus of Antioch, and Eustochius of Jerusalem, Justinian summons the fifth synod, for the following reason:—On account of the increasing influence of those who held the opinions of Origen, especially in what is called the New Laura, Eustochius used every effort for their removal, and, visiting the place itself, he ejected the whole party, driving them to a distance, as general pests. These persons, in their dispersion, associated with themselves many others. They found a champion in Theodore, surnamed Ascidas, bishop of Cæsarea, the metropolis of Cappadocia, who was constantly about the person of Justinian, as being trusty and highly serviceable to him. Whereas he was creating much confusion in the imperial court, and declared the proceeding of Eustochius to be utterly impious and lawless, the latter despatches to Constantinople Rufus, superior of the monastery of Theodosius, and Conon, of that of Saba, persons of the first distinction among the solitaries, both on account of their personal worth and the religious houses of which they were the heads; and with them were associated others scarcely their inferiors in dignity. These, in the first instance, mooted the questions relating to Origen, Evagrius, and Didymus. But Theodore of Cappadocia, with a view to divert them from this point, introduces the subject of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret, and Ibas; the good God providentially disposing the whole proceeding, in order that the profanities of both parties should be ejected.

On the first question being started, namely, whether it were proper to anathematise the dead, Eutychius, a man of consummate skill in the divine Scriptures, being as yet an undistinguished person—for Menas was still living, and he was himself at that time apocrisiarius to the bishop of Amasea—casting a look on the assembly, not merely of commanding intelligence but of contempt, plainly declared that the question needed no debate, since King Josiah in former time not only slew the living priests of the demons, but also broke up the sepulchres of those who had long been dead. This was considered by all to have been spoken to the purpose. Justinian also, having been made acquainted with the circumstance, elevated him to the see of the imperial city on the death of Menas, which happened immediately after. Vigilius gave his assent in writing to the assembling of the synod but declined attendance.

Justinian addressed an inquiry to the synod on its assembling, as to what was their opinion concerning Theodore, and the expressions of Theodoret against Cyril and his twelve chapters, as well as the epistle of Ibas, as it is termed, addressed to Maris, the Persian. After the reading of many passages of Theodore and Theodoret, and proof given that Theodore had been long ago condemned and erased from the sacred diptychs, as also that it was fitting that heretics should be condemned after their death, they unanimously anathematise Theodore, and what had been advanced by Theodoret against the twelve chapters of Cyril and the right faith; as also the epistle of Ibas to Maris, the Persian; in the following words:—

“Our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, according to the parable in the gospels,” and so forth. “In addition to all other heretics, who have been condemned and anathematised by the before-mentioned four holy synods and by the holy catholic and apostolic church, we condemn and anathematise Theodore, styled bishop of Mopsuestia, and his impious writings; also whatever has been impiously written by Theodoret against the right faith, against the twelve chapters of the sainted Cyril, and against the first holy synod at Ephesus, and all that he has written in defence of Theodore and Nestorius. We further anathematise the impious epistle said to have been written by Ibas to Maris the Persian.”

After some other matter, they proceed to set forth fourteen chapters concerning the right and unimpeachable faith. In this manner had the transactions proceeded: but on the presentation of libels against the doctrine of Origen, named also Adamantius, and the followers of his impious error, by the monks Eulogius, Conon, Cyriacus, and Pancratius, Justinian addresses a question to the synod concerning these points, appending to it a copy of the libel, as well as the epistle of Vigilius upon the subject: from the whole of which may be gathered the attempts of Origen to fill the simplicity of the apostolic doctrine with philosophic and Manichæan tares. Accordingly, a relation was addressed to Justinian by the synod, after they had uttered exclamations against Origen and the maintainers of similar errors. A portion of it is expressed in the following terms: “O most Christian emperor, gifted with heavenly generosity of soul,” and so forth. “We have shunned, accordingly, we have shunned this error; for we knew not the voice of the alien; and having bound such a one, as a thief and a robber, in the cords of our anathema, we have ejected him from the sacred precincts.” And presently they proceed: “By perusal you will learn the vigour of our acts.” To this they appended a statement of the heads of the matters which the followers of Origen were taught to maintain, shewing their agreements, as well as their disagreements, and their manifold errors. The fifth head contains the blasphemous expressions uttered by private individuals belonging to what is called the New Laura, as follows. Theodore, surnamed Ascidas, the Cappadocian, said “If the Apostles and Martyrs at the present time work miracles, and are already so highly honoured, unless they shall be equal with Christ in the restitution of things, in what respect is there a restitution for them?” They also reported many other blasphemies of Didymus, Evagrius, and Theodore; having with great diligence extracted whatever bore upon these points. At an interval of some time after the meeting of the synod, Eutychius is ejected, and there is appointed in his place to the see of Constantinople John a native of Seremis, which is a village of the district of Cynegica, belonging to Antioch.








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