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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

ABOUT this time, Eunomius, who had succeeded Eleusius in the bishopric of Cyzicus, and who presided over the Arians, devised another heresy, which some have called by his name, but which is sometimes denominated the Anomian heresy. Some assert that Eunomius was the first who ventured to maintain that baptism ought to be performed by immersion, and to corrupt, in this manner, the apostolical tradition which has been carefully handed down to the present day. He introduced, it is said, a mode of discipline contrary to that of the church, and endeavoured to disguise the innovation under the cloak of a grave and severe deportment. He was very eloquent, and delighted in disputations and conferences. The generality of those who entertain his sentiments have the same predilections. They do not applaud a virtuous course of life and conduct, or charity towards the needy, unless exhibited by persons of their own sect, so much as skill in disputation, and the power of triumphing in debates over the arguments of an opponent. Persons possessed of these accomplishments are accounted religious and virtuous. Others assert, I believe, with greater appearance of probability, that Theophranes, a native of Cappadocia, and Eutychus, both zealous propagators of this heresy, seceded from communion with Eunomius during the succeeding reign, and introduced heretical doctrines concerning the rite of baptism: they taught that baptism ought not to be administered in the name of the Trinity, but in the name of the death of Christ. It appears that Eunomius broached no new opinion on the subject, but remained from the beginning firmly attached to the sentiments of Arius. After his elevation to the bishopric of Cyzicus, he was accused by his own clergy of introducing innovations upon the established forms of doctrine. Eudoxius, bishop of the Arians at Constantinople, obliged him to undergo a public trial, and give an account of his doctrines to the people: finding, however, no fault in him, Eudoxius exhorted him to return to Cyzicus. Eunomius, however, replied, that he could not remain with people who regarded him with suspicion; and, it is said, seized this opportunity to secede from communion; although it seems that in taking this step he was really actuated by the resentment he felt at the refusal which Aetius, his teacher, had met with, of being received into communion. Eunomius, it is added, dwelt with Aetius, and never deviated from his original sentiments. Such are the conflicting accounts of various individuals: some narrate the circumstances in one way, and some in another. But whether it was Eunomius, or any other person, who first introduced heretical opinions concerning baptism, it seems to me that such innovators, whoever they may have been, were alone in danger, according to their own representation, of quitting this life without having received the rite of holy baptism: for if, after having received baptism according to the ancient mode of the church, they found it impossible to re-confer it on themselves, it must be admitted that they introduced a practice to which they had not themselves submitted, and thus undertook to administer to others what had never been administered to themselves. Thus, after having laid down certain principles, according to their own fancy, without any data, they proceeded to bestow upon others what they had not themselves received. The absurdity of this assumption is manifest from their own confession; for they admit that those who have not received the rite of baptism have not the power of administering it. Now, according to their opinion, those who have not received the rite of baptism in conformity with their mode of administration, are unbaptized; and they confirm this opinion by their practice, inasmuch as they re-baptize all those who join their sect, although previously baptized by the Catholic Church. These varying dogmas are the sources of innumerable troubles; and many are deterred from embracing Christianity by the diversity of opinion which prevails in matters of doctrine.

The dispute daily became stronger, and the heresy reached a greater height; for its advocates were not deficient in zeal or eloquence: indeed, it appears that the greater part of the Catholic Church would have been subverted by this heresy, had not Basil and Gregory of Cappadocia strenuously opposed its further progress. With the view of repressing the heresies that had arisen, the emperor Theodosius, not long after, banished the founders of heretical sects from the populous parts of the empire, to the most desert and thinly-populated regions. But, lest those who read my history should be ignorant of the precise nature of the two heresies to which I have more especially alluded, I think it necessary to state that Aetius, the Syrian, was the originator of the heresy usually attributed to Eunomius; and that, like Arius, he maintained that the Son is dissimilar from the Father, that He is a created Being, and was created out of what had no previous existence. Those who first adopted these erroneous views were called Aetians; but afterwards, during the reign of Constantius, when, as we have stated, some parties maintained that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, and others, that he is like in substance to the Father, and when the Council of Ariminum had decreed that the Son is only to be considered like unto the Father, Aetius was condemned to banishment, as guilty of impiety and blasphemy against God. For some time subsequently, his heresy seemed to have been suppressed; for neither he nor Eunomius ventured on undertaking its defence: but when Eunomius was raised to the bishopric of Cyzicus, he found it impossible to disguise his sentiments, and openly preached the doctrine of Aetius. Hence, as it often happens that the names of the original founders of heretical sects pass into oblivion, the followers of Eunomius were designated by his own name, although he merely renewed the heresy of Aetius, and promulgated it with greater boldness than Aetius himself.








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