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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

THE synod selected twenty bishops, and sent them on an embassy to the emperor, with the following letter, which has been translated from Latin into Greek:—

“We believe that it is by the will of God, as well as by your pious arrangements, that we have been led from all the cities of the West, to assemble at Ariminum, for the purpose of declaring the faith of the Catholic church, and of detecting those who have set forth heresies in opposition to it. After a close and lengthened investigation, we have come to the conclusion that it is best to preserve the faith which has been handed down from antiquity, and which was preached by the prophets, the evangelists, the apostles, and by our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Protector of your empire. It would have been absurd, as well as illegal, to have introduced any change in the doctrines which were so rightly and so justly propounded by the bishops at Nicæa, with the concurrence of Constantine your father, of glorious memory. These doctrines have been preached to all men, and tend to the utter subversion of the Arian, and, indeed, of all other heresies. There is great danger in adding to, or in taking away from, these doctrines; nor can the slightest alteration be made in any one of them, without giving an opportunity to the adversaries to do what they list. Ursacius and Valens, after having been long suspected of having imbibed the Arian doctrine, were cut off from communion with us. In the hope of being restored to communion, they confessed their error, and obtained forgiveness, as their own writings testify. The occasion on which the edict of forgiveness was conceded, was at the Council of Milan, in the presence of the deputies of the Roman Church.

“The formulary of the faith set forth at Nicæa, having been compiled with the greatest possible care and accuracy, in the presence of Constantine, who maintained it throughout his life, and at his baptism, and when he departed to enjoy the rest and peace of heaven, we judge that it would be absurd to attempt any alteration in it. We hold that it is necessary to retain the doctrines which were professed by so many holy confessors and martyrs, and which they maintained, in accordance with the ancient decrees of the Church. God has transmitted the knowledge of their faith to the time in which you live, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom you reign, and rule the world. These wretched men, who can only be regarded as objects of compassion, have had the audacity to publish certain impious doctrines, which are in opposition to the truth. After we had received your letters, in which you charged us to enter upon the investigation of doctrinal questions, the aforesaid disturbers of the church, aided by Germanius, Auxentius, and Caius, laid a new formulary before us, replete with pernicious doctrine. When they perceived that this document would inevitably be rejected, they desired to effect some alterations in it. They have but too often been successful in proposing these alterations; but, to preserve the church from further trouble arising from this source, we decided that it was requisite to preserve the inviolability of the ancient canons, and to eject the aforesaid persons from communion with us. We have, for this reason, sent our deputies to you, and have furnished them with letters, declaratory of the sentiments of the council. These deputies have been especially charged by us to maintain the truths which were set forth of old by the Christians of antiquity, and to prove to your Holiness the falsity of the assertion of Valens and Ursacius, that a few changes would produce peace in the church. For how can peace be restored by those who destroy peace? They would be more likely to introduce contention and disturbance into Rome and the other cities, rather than peace. We therefore entreat your Clemency to listen to our deputies, and to regard them favourably, and not to allow the dead to be dishonoured by the introduction of alterations and novelties. We pray you to preserve the tradition which we received from our ancestors, who were all wise and prudent, and who, we have reason to believe, were led by the Spirit of God. For these innovations not only lead believers to infidelity, but also delude unbelievers. We likewise entreat you to command that the bishops who are now absent from their churches, and of whom some are labouring under the infirmities of old age, and others under the privations of poverty, may be furnished with the means of returning to their own homes, in order that the churches may not be longer deprived of their ministry.

“Again, we beseech you that nothing be taken away from, or added to, the faith; let it remain unchanged, even as it has continued from the reign of your father to the present time; so that we may not, in future, be compelled to leave our churches, and undertake long journeys, but that bishops and people may dwell together in peace, and be able to devote themselves to prayer and supplication for your own personal welfare, and for the continual peace of your empire.

“Our deputies will show you the signatures of the bishops; and some of them will offer instruction to your Holiness out of the Sacred Scriptures.”








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