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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

ON the return of Eusebius and Theognis from their exile, they were reinstated in their churches, having expelled, as we observed, those who had been ordained in their stead. Moreover they came into great consideration with the emperor, who honoured them exceedingly, as those who had returned from damnable error to the orthodox faith. They however abused the licence thus afforded them, by exciting greater commotions in the world than they had done before; being instigated to this by two causes—the Arian heresy with which they had been previously infected on the one hand, and bitter animosity against Athanasius on the other, because he had so vigorously withstood them in the Synod while the articles of faith were under discussion. And in the first place they objected to his ordination, as a person unworthy of the prelacy, alleging that he had been elected by disqualified persons. But when Athanasius had shown himself superior to this calumny, and possessing the confidence of the Church of Alexandria, ardently contended for the Nicene Creed, then Eusebius exerted himself to the utmost in insidious plots against him, and efforts to bring Arius back to Alexandria: for he thought that thus only could the doctrine of consubstantiality be eradicated, and Arianism introduced. Eusebius therefore wrote to Athanasius, desiring him to re-admit Arius and his adherents into the church: the tone of his letter indeed being that of entreaty, while openly he menaced him. When Athanasius would by no means accede to this, he endeavoured to induce the emperor to give Arius an audience, and then permit him to return to Alexandria: but by what means he attained his object, I shall mention in its proper place. Before however this was effected, another commotion was raised in the church, her peace being again disturbed by her own children. Eusebius Pamphilus says, that immediately after the Synod, Egypt became agitated by intestine divisions: but as he does not assign the reason for this, some have accused him of disingenuousness, and have even attributed his avoiding to specify the causes of these dissensions, to a determination on his part not to give his sanction to the proceedings at Nice. Yet as we ourselves have discovered from various letters which the bishops wrote to one another after the Synod, the term ὁμοούσιος troubled some of them. But while they occupied themselves in a too minute investigation of its import, the discussion assumed a polemical character, though it seemed not unlike a contest in the dark; for neither party appeared to understand distinctly the grounds on which they calumniated one another. Those who objected to the word consubstantial, conceived that those who approved it, favoured the opinion of Sabellius and Montanus; they therefore called them blasphemers, as subverters of the existence of the Son of God. And again the advocates of this term, charging their opponents with polytheism, inveighed against them as introducers of heathen superstitions. Eustathius bishop of Antioch, accuses Eusebius Pamphilus of perverting the Nicene Creed: but Eusebius denies that lie violates that exposition of the faith, and recriminates, saying that Eustathius was a defender of the opinion of Sabellius. In consequence of these misunderstandings, each of them wrote volumes as if contending against adversaries: and although it was admitted on both sides that the Son of God has a distinct person and existence, and all acknowledged that there is one God in a Trinity of Persons, yet from what cause I am unable to divine, they could not agree among themselves, and therefore were never at peace.








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