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A History Of The Church In Six Books by Evagrius

THIS was, then, the place of meeting of the before-mentioned synod; at which the bishops Paschasinus and Lucentius, and the presbyter Boniface, were the representatives of Leo, arch priest of the elder Rome; there being present Anatolius president of Constantinople, Dioscorus, bishop of Alexandria, Maximus of Antioch, and Juvenalis of Jerusalem: on whom attended both their associate priests, and those who held the places of highest rank in the most excellent senate. To the latter the representatives of Leo alleged, that Dioscorus ought not to be seated with themselves; for such, they said, were their instructions from their bishop: as also that they would withdraw from the church, if they should be unable to maintain this point. In reply to the question of the senators, what were the charges against Dioscorus, they stated, that he ought himself to render an account of his own decision, since he had unduly assumed the character of a judge. After this statement had been made, and Dioscorus, according to a resolution of the senate, had taken his seat in the centre, Eusebius demanded, in the following words, that the petition should be read which he had presented to the sovereign power: “I have been wronged by Dioscorus; the faith has been wronged: the bishop Flavian was murdered, and, together with myself, unjustly deposed by him. Give directions that my petition be read.” When the matter had been discussed, the petition was allowed to be read: it was couched in the following terms. “To our Christ-loving and most religious and pious sovereigns, Flavius Valentinianus, and Flavius Marcianus, the petition of Eusebius, the very humble bishop of Dorylæum, who now pleads on behalf of himself and the orthodox faith, and the sainted Flavian, formerly bishop of Constantinople. It is the aim of your majesty to exercise a providential care of all your subjects, and stretch forth a protecting hand to all who are suffering wrong, and to those especially who are invested with the priesthood; for by this means service is rendered to God, from whom you have received the bestowal of supremacy and power over all regions under the sun. Inasmuch, then, as the Christian faith and we have suffered many outrages at the hands of Dioscorus, the most reverent bishop of the great city of the Alexandrians, we address ourselves to your piety in pursuance of our rights. The circumstances of the case are as follow:—At the synod lately held at the metropolitan city of the Ephesians—would that it had never met, nor the world been thereby filled with mischiefs and tumult—the excellent Dioscorus, regarding neither the principle of justice nor the fear of God, sharing also in the opinions and feelings of the visionary and heretical Eutyches, though unsuspected by the multitude of being such as he afterwards shewed himself, took occasion of the charge advanced by me against his fellow in doctrine, Eutyches, and the decision given by the sainted bishop Flavian, and having gathered a disorderly rabble, and procured an overbearing influence by bribes, made havoc, as far as lay in his power, of the pious religion of the orthodox, and established the erroneous doctrine of Eutyches the monk, which had from the first been repudiated by the holy fathers. Since, then, his aggressions against the Christian faith and us are of no trifling magnitude, we beseech and supplicate your majesty to issue your commands to the same most reverent bishop Dioscorus, to defend himself against our allegations; namely, when the record of the acts which Dioscorus procured against us, shall be read before the holy synod; on the ground of which we are able to shew, that he is estranged from the orthodox faith, that he strengthened a heresy utterly impious, that he wrongfully deposed and has cruelly outraged us. And this we will do on the issuing of your divine and revered mandates to the holy and universal synod of the bishops, highly beloved of God, to the effect, that they should give a formal hearing to the matters which concern both us and the before-mentioned Dioscorus, and refer all the transactions to the decision of your piety, as shall seem fit to your immortal supremacy. If we obtain this our request, we shall ever pray for your everlasting rule, most divine sovereigns.”

In the next place, at the joint request of Dioscorus and Eusebius, the acts of the second council of Ephesus were publicly read, the particulars of which, as being lengthy, and at the same time embraced by the detail of the proceedings at Chalcedon, I have subjoined to the present book of the history, that I might not seem prolix to those who are eager to be brought to the end of the transactions; thereby leaving to such as are desirous of minute acquaintance with every particular, the means of leisurely consultation and an accurate conception of the whole. By way of a cursory statement of the more important points, I mention, that Dioscorus was convicted of having suppressed the epistle of Leo, bishop of the elder Rome; and further, of having enacted the deposition of Flavian, bishop of new Rome, in the space of a single day, and procured the subscriptions of the assembled prelates to a blank paper, represented as containing the form of the deposition. Upon these grounds, the senators decreed as follows: “Of points relating to the orthodox and catholic faith, we are agreed that a more exact inquiry should take place before a fuller assembly of the council, at its next meeting. But inasmuch as it has been shewn, from examination of the acts and decrees, and from the oral testimony of the presidents of that synod, who admit that themselves were in error, and the deposition was void, that Flavian, of pious memory, and the most reverent bishop Eusebius, were convicted of no error concerning the faith, and were wrongfully deposed, it seems to us, according to God’s good pleasure, to be a just proceeding, if approved by our most divine and pious sovereign, that Dioscorus, the most reverent bishop of Alexandria; Juvenalis, the most reverent bishop of Jerusalem; Thalassius, the most reverent bishop of Caesarea, in Cappadocia; Eusebius, the most reverent bishop of Ancyra; Eustathius, the most reverent bishop of Berytus; and Basilius, the most reverent bishop of Seleucia, in Isauria; who exercised sway and precedency in that synod; should be subjected to the selfsame penalty, by suffering at the hands of the holy synod deprivation of their episcopal dignity, according to the canons; whatever is consequent hereupon, being submitted to the cognizance of the emperor’s sacred supremacy.”

On the presentation of libels against Dioscorus at the next meeting of the council, containing charges of slander and extortion, and his refusal, for certain alleged reasons, to appear, after a twice and thrice repeated summons, the representatives of Leo, bishop of the elder Rome, made the following declaration:—“The aggressions committed by Dioscorus, lately bishop of the great city Alexandria, in violation of canonical order and the constitution of the church, have been clearly proved by the investigations at the former meeting, and the proceedings of to-day. For, not to mention the mass of his offences, he did, on his own authority, uncanonically admit to communion his partisan Eutyches, after having been canonically deprived by his own bishop, namely, our sainted father and archbishop Flavian; and this before he sat in council with the other bishops at Ephesus. To them, indeed, the holy see granted pardon for the transactions of which they were not the deliberate authors, and they have hitherto continued obedient to the most holy archbishop Leo, and the body of the holy and universal synod; on which account he also admitted them into communion with him, as being his fellows in faith. Whereas Dioscorus has continued to maintain a haughty carriage, on account of those very circumstances over which he ought to have bewailed and humbled himself to the earth. Moreover, he did not even allow the epistle to be read which the blessed pope Leo had addressed to Flavian, of holy memory; and that too, notwithstanding he was repeatedly exhorted thereto by the bearers, and had promised with an oath to that effect. The result of the epistle not being read, has been to fill the most holy churches throughout the world with scandals and mischief. Notwithstanding, however, such presumption, it was our purpose to deal mercifully with him as regards his past impiety, as we had done to the other bishops, although they had not held an equal judicial authority with him. But inasmuch as he has, by his subsequent conduct, overshot his former iniquity, and has presumed to pronounce excommunication against Leo, the most holy and religious archbishop of great Rome; since, moreover, on the presentation of a paper full of grievous charges against him to the holy and great synod, he refused to appear, though once, twice, and thrice canonically summoned by the bishops, pricked no doubt by his own conscience; and since he has unlawfully given reception to those who had been duly deposed by different synods; he has thus, by variously trampling upon the laws of the church, given his own verdict against himself. Wherefore Leo, the most blessed and holy archbishop of the great and elder Rome, has, by the agency of ourselves and the present synod, in conjunction with the thrice-blessed and all honoured Peter, who is the rock and basis of the Catholic church, and the foundation of the orthodox faith, deprived him of the episcopal dignity, and severed him from every priestly function. Accordingly, this holy and great synod decrees the provisions of the canons on the aforesaid Dioscorus.”

After the ratification of these measures by the synod, and the transaction of some other matters, those who had been deposed together with Dioscorus, were reinstated, at the request of the synod and the assent of the imperial government; and, after some further transactions, a definition of faith was enounced in these precise words: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, while confirming the knowledge of the faith in his disciples said, ‘My peace I give to you; my peace I leave to you;’ to the purpose, that no one should differ from his neighbour in the doctrines of piety, but should accord in publishing the declaration of the truth.” After the reading of the holy Nicene creed, and also that of the hundred and fifty holy fathers, they subjoined as follows: “This wise and salutary symbol of divine grace is indeed sufficient for the perfect knowledge and confirmation of godliness; for, concerning the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, its teaching is plain and complete, and it sufficiently suggests the incarnation of the Lord to those who receive it faithfully. But since the enemies of the truth are endeavouring to subvert its doctrine by heresies of their own, and have given birth to certain empty speeches, some daring to pervert the mystery of the economy which the Lord bore for our sakes, and rejecting the term ‘Mother of God,’ in the case of the Virgin; others introducing a confusion and commixture of substance, and inconsiderately moulding into one the natures of the flesh and of the Godhead, and by such confusion producing the monstrous notion of passibility in the divine nature of the Only-begotten; for this reason the present great and universal holy synod, from a desire to preclude every device of theirs against the truth, and to maintain the hitherto unshaken declaration of doctrine, has determined primarily that the creed of the three hundred and eighteen holy fathers shall be indefeasible; and, on account of those who impugn the Holy Spirit, it ratifies the doctrine delivered subsequently concerning the substance of the Spirit by the hundred and fifty fathers, who assembled in the imperial city, and by them promulgated universally, not as though they were supplying some defect on the part of their predecessors, but were more clearly setting forth, by expressly recorded testimony, their notion respecting the Holy Spirit, in opposition to those who endeavoured to annul His prerogative. In respect to those who have dared to corrupt the mystery of the economy, and with shameless wantonness to represent Him who was born of the holy Virgin as a mere man, the council has adopted the synodic epistles of the blessed Cyril, pastor of the church of the Alexandrians, addressed to Nestorius and the prelates of the East, in refutation of the madness of Nestorius, and for the instruction of those who with pious zeal are desirous of being impressed with a due conception of the saving symbol. To these the council has not without reason appended, in order to the confirmation of the true doctrines, the epistle of the president of the great and elder Rome, which the most blessed and holy archbishop Leo addressed to the sainted archbishop Flavian, for the overthrow of the evil design of Eutyches; as being in agreement with the confession of the mighty Peter, and forming with it a monument of concurrent testimony against the maintainers of pernicious opinions; for it boldly confronts those who endeavour to dissever the mystery of the economy into a duality of sons; it expels from the congregation of the holy rites those who presume to affirm that the Godhead of the Only-begotten is passible; and opposes those who imagine a mixture or confusion in respect of the two natures of Christ. It also ejects such as fondly fancy that the form of a servant which He assumed from our own nature, was of a heavenly or any other substance; and it anathematises those who fable a resolution into one, at their union, of two previous natures of the Lord. Following, accordingly, the holy fathers, we confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and we all with one voice declare him to be at the same time perfect in Godhead, and perfect in manhood, very God, and at the same time very man, consisting of a reasonable soul and a body, being consubstantial with the Father as respects his Godhead, and at the same time consubstantial with ourselves as respects his manhood; resembling us in all things, independently of sin; begotten, before the ages, of the Father, according to his Godhead, but born, in the last of the days, of Mary, the virgin and mother of God, for our sakes and for our salvation; being one and the same Jesus Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, made known in two natures without confusion, without conversion, without severance, without separation, inasmuch as the difference of the natures is in no way annulled by their union, but the peculiar essence of each nature is rather preserved, and conspires in one person and one subsistence, not as though he were parted or severed into two persons, but is one and the same Son, Only-begotten, Divine Word, Lord Jesus Christ, as the prophets declared concerning Him, and Christ himself has fully instructed us, and the symbol of the fathers has conveyed to us. Since, then, these matters have been defined by us with all accuracy and diligence, the holy and universal synod has determined that no one shall be at liberty to put forth another faith, whether in writing, or by framing, or devising, or teaching it to others. And that those who shall presume to frame, or publish, or teach another faith, or to communicate another symbol to those who are disposed to turn to the knowledge of the truth from heathenism or Judaism, or any other sect—that they, if they be bishops or clerks, shall suffer deprivation, the bishops of their episcopal, the clerks of their clerical office; and if monks or laics, shall be anathematised.” After the reading of the formula, the emperor Marcian visited Chalcedon, and attended the synod, and, having delivered an harangue, again took his departure. Juvenalis also and Maximus arranged on mutual terms the matters relating to their own provinces, and Theodoret and Ibas were reinstated. Other matters were also mooted; an account of which, as I have already said, is subjoined to this history. It was also determined that the see of New Rome, while ranking second to that of Old Rome, should take precedence of all others.

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