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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

THE rulers of the churches now resumed the agitation of doctrinal questions. They had remained quiet during the reign of Julian, when Christianity itself was endangered, and had unanimously offered up their supplications for the favour and protection of God. It is thus that men, when attacked by foreign enemies, remain at peace among themselves; but, when external troubles are removed, then internal dissensions creep in: this, however, is not a proper place for the citation of the numerous examples which history affords of this fact.

At this period, Basil bishop of Ancyra, Silvanus bishop of Tarsus, Sophronius bishop of Pompeiopolis, and others of their party who regarded the heresy of the. Anomians with the utmost aversion, and received the term “similar as to substance,” instead of the term “con-substantial,” wrote to the emperor; and, after expressing their thankfulness to God for his accession to the empire, besought him to confirm the decrees issued at Ariminum and Seleucia, and to annul what had been established merely by the zeal and power of certain individuals. They also entreated that, if discussion should still prevail in the churches, the bishops from every region might be convened in some place indicated by the emperor, and not be permitted to assemble elsewhere, and issue decrees at variance with each other, as had been done during the reign of Constantius. They added, that they had not gone to visit him at his camp, because they were fearful of being burdensome to him; but that, if he desired to see them, they would gladly repair to him, and defray all expenses attendant on the journey themselves.

At this juncture, a council was convened at Antioch in Syria; the form of belief established by the council of Nicæa was confirmed; and it was decided that the Son is incontrovertibly of the same substance as the Father. Meletius, who was then bishop of Antioch, Eusebius bishop of Samosata, Pelagius bishop of Laodicea in Syria, Acacius bishop of Cæsarea in Palestine, Irenius bishop of Gaza, and Athanasius bishop of Ancyra, took part in this council. On the termination of the council, they acquainted the emperor with the transactions that had taken place, by despatching the following letter—

“To the most religious and beloved Lord Jovian Augustus the Conqueror, from the bishops assembled from divers regions, at Antioch.

“We know, O emperor, well-beloved of God, that your piety is fully intent upon maintaining peace and concord in the church; neither are we ignorant that you have embraced the true and orthodox faith, which is the source of all unity. Lest, therefore, we should be reckoned among those who assail these doctrines of truth, we declare and testify, that we receive and maintain the form of belief which was anciently set forth by the holy council of Nicæa. Now, although the term ‘consubstantial’ appears strange to some persons, yet it was safely interpreted by the Fathers, and signifies that the Son was begotten of the substance of the Father, and that He is of like substance with the Father. This term does not convey the idea of unbroken generation; neither does it coincide with the use which the Greeks make of the word ‘substance,’ but is calculated to withstand the impious allegation of Arius, that the Son proceeded from what had had no previous existence. The Anomians have still the impudence and rashness to maintain this same audacious dogma; and they thereby most grievously disturb the peace and unanimity of the churches.

“We subjoin to this letter a copy of the formulary of faith adopted by the bishops assembled at Nicæa, which we also receive and cherish.”

Such were the decisions formed by the bishops convened at Antioch; and they appended to their letter a copy of the Nicene formulary of faith.








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