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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

WE have now transcribed the letter of the Council of Ariminum. Ursacius and Valens, anticipating the arrival of the deputies of the council, read their formulary of faith to the emperor, and calumniated the members of the council. The emperor was displeased at the rejection of this formulary, as it had been accepted in his presence at Sirmium, and he therefore treated Ursacius and Valens with honour; while, on the other hand, he manifested great contempt towards the deputies, and even delayed granting them an audience. At length, however, he wrote to the synod, and informed them that an expedition which he was compelled to undertake against the barbarians, prevented him from conferring with the deputies; and that he had, therefore, commanded them to remain at Adrianople until his return, in order that, when other business had been dismissed, his mind might be at liberty to attend to the representations of the deputies: “for it is right,” he said, “to bring to the investigation of divine subjects, a mind unfettered by other cares.” Such was the strain of his letter.

The bishops replied, that they could never depart from the decision they had formed, as they had before declared in writing, and had charged their deputies to declare; and they besought him to regard them with favour, to give audience to their deputies, and to read their letter. They told him that it must appear grievous to him that so many churches should be deprived of their bishops; and that, if agreeable to him, they would return to their churches before the winter. After writing this letter, which was full of supplications and entreaties, the bishops waited for a time for a reply; but, as no answer was granted them, they afterwards returned to their own cities.

What I have above stated clearly proves, that the bishops who were convened at Ariminum confirmed the decrees which had of old been set forth at Nicæa. Let us now consider how it was that they eventually assented to the formulary of faith compiled by Valens and Ursacius. Various accounts have been given me of this transaction. Some say that the emperor was offended at the bishops having departed from Ariminum without his permission, and allowed Valens and his partizans to govern the churches of the West according to their own will, to set forth their own formulary, to eject those who refused to sign it from the churches, and to ordain others in their place; they say that, taking advantage of this power, Valens compelled some of the bishops to sign the formulary, and that he drove Liberius and many others, who refused compliance, from their churches. It is further asserted, that Valens and his adherents acted in the same manner in Italy, and persecuted the bishops of the East in the same manner. As these persecutors were passing through Thrace, they stopped, it is said, at Nicæa, a city of that province; they there convened a council and read the formulary of Ariminum which they had translated into the Greek language, and by representing that it had been approved by a general council, they obtained its adoption at Nicæa; they then denominated it the Nicæan formulary of faith, in order, by the resemblance of names, to deceive the simple, and cause it to be mistaken for the ancient formulary set forth by the Nicæan Council. Such is the account given by some parties. Others say that the bishops, who were convened at the Council of Ariminum, were wearied by their detention in that city, as the emperor neither honoured them with a reply to their letter, nor granted them permission to return to their own churches; and that, at this juncture, those who had espoused the opposite heresy, represented to them that it was not right that divisions should exist between the priests of the whole world for the sake of one word, and that it was only requisite to admit that the Son is like unto the Father in order to put an end to all disputes; for that the bishops of the East would never rest until the term “substance” was rejected. By these representations, it is said, the members of the council were at length persuaded to assent to the formulary which Ursacius had so sedulously pressed upon them. Ursacius and his partizans, being apprehensive lest the deputies sent by the council to the emperor should declare what firmness was in the first place evinced by the Western bishops, and should expose the true cause of the rejection of the term “con-substantial,” detained these deputies at Nicæa in Thrace throughout the winter, under the pretext that no public conveyances could be then obtained, and that the roads were in a bad state for travelling; and they then induced them, it is said, to translate the formulary they had accepted from Latin into Greek, and to send it to the Eastern bishops. By this means, they anticipated that the formulary would produce the impression they intended without the fraud being detected; for there was no one to testify that the members of the Council of Ariminum had not voluntarily rejected the term “substance” from deference to the Eastern bishops, who were averse to the use of that word. But this was evidently a false account; for all the members of the council, with the exception of a few, maintained strenuously that the Son is like unto the Father in substance, and the only differences of opinion existing between them were, that some said that the Son is of the same substance as the Father, while others asserted that He is of like substance with the Father. We have now given both the accounts which have been handed down of this transaction.








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