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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

THE emperor was persuaded that it would not be desirable for the public, on account of the expense, nor advantageous to the bishops, on account of the length of the journey, to convene them all to the same place for the purpose of holding a council. He therefore wrote to the bishops who were then at Ariminum, as well as to those who were then at Seleucia, and directed them to enter upon an investigation of contested points concerning the faith, and then to turn their attention to the complaints of Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, and of other bishops who had remonstrated against the injustice of decrees of deposition and banishment which had been issued against them, and to examine the legality of various sentences which had been enacted against other bishops. There were, in fact, several accusations pending against different bishops. George was accused by the Egyptians of rapine and violence. Finally, the emperor commanded that ten deputies should be sent to him from each council, to inform him of their respective proceedings.

In accordance with this edict, the bishops assembled at the appointed cities. The synod at Ariminum first commenced proceedings; it consisted of above four hundred members. Those who regarded Athanasius with the greatest enmity, were of opinion that there was nothing further to be decreed against him. When they had entered upon the investigation of doctrinal questions, Valens and Ursacius, supported by Germanius, Auxentius, Caius and Demophilus, advanced into the middle of the assembly, and demanded that all the formularies of faith which had been previously compiled should be suppressed, and that the formulary which they had but a short time previously set forth in the Latin language at Sirmium should be alone retained. In this formulary, it was taught, according to Scripture, that the Son is like unto the Father; but no mention was made of the substance of God. They declared that this formulary had been approved by the emperor, and that it was incumbent upon the council to adopt it, instead of consulting too scrupulously the individual opinions of every member of the council, because too close an investigation of mere words could only lead to dispute and contention. They added, that it was better to establish orthodox doctrines concerning the Godhead, than, by aiming at too great a refinement of terms, to introduce the use of neological expressions. By these representations, they designed to denounce the use of the term “consubstantial,” because they said it was not found in the Holy Scriptures, and was obscure to the multitude; and, instead of this term, they wished to substitute the expression that “the Son is like unto the Father in all things,” which is borne out by the Sacred Scriptures. After they had read their formulary containing the above representations, many of the bishops told them that no new formulary of the faith ought to be set forth, that those which had been previously compiled were quite sufficient for all purposes, and that they were met together for the express purpose of preventing all innovations. These bishops then urged those who had compiled and read the formulary to declare publicly their condemnation of the Arian doctrine, as the cause of all the troubles which had agitated the churches of every region. Ursacius and Valens, Germanius and Auxentius, Demophilus and Gaius, having protested against this proposition, the council commanded that the formularies compiled by other parties should be read, and likewise that set forth at Nicæa: so that those formularies which favoured divers heresies might be condemned, and those which were in accordance with the Nicene doctrines might be approved, in order that there might be no further ground for dispute, and no future necessity for councils, but that a final and efficient decision might be formed. They remarked that it was absurd to compose so many formularies, as if they had but just commenced to become acquainted with the faith, and as if they wished to slight the ancient traditions of the church, by which the churches had been governed by themselves, and by their predecessors, many of whom had witnessed a good confession, and had received the crown of martyrdom. Such were the arguments adduced by these bishops, to prove that no innovations ought to be attempted. As Valens and Ursacius and their partizans refused to be convinced by these arguments, but persisted in advocating the adoption of their own formulary, they were deposed, and it was decided that their formulary should be rejected. It was remarked that the declaration at the commencement of this formulary, of its having been compiled at Sirmium, in the presence of Constantius, “the eternal Augustus,” and during the consulate of Eusebius and Hypatius, was an absurdity. Athanasius made the same remark, in a letter addressed to one of his friends, and said that it was ridiculous to term Constantius the eternal emperor, and yet to shrink from acknowledging the Son of God to be eternal; he also ridiculed the date affixed to the formulary, as though condemnation were meant to be thrown on the faith of former ages, as well as on those who had before that period been initiated in the faith.

After these events had transpired at Ariminum, Valens and Ursacius, irritated at their deposition, repaired with all haste to the emperor.








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