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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

IT is obvious that Eunomius and Aetius held the same opinions. In several passages of his writings, Eunomius boasts that Aetius was his instructor. Gregory, bishop of Nazianzen, speaks in the following terms of Apollinarius, in a letter addressed to Nectarius, bishop of Constantinople:—“Eunomius, who is a constant source of trouble among us, is not content with being a burden to us himself, but would consider himself to blame if he did not strive to drag every one with him to the destruction whither he is hastening. Such conduct, however, may be tolerated in some degree. The most grievous calamity against which the Church has now to struggle arises from the audacity of the Apollinarians. I know not how your Holiness could have agreed that they should be as free to hold meetings as we are ourselves. You have been fully instructed, by the grace of God, in the mysteries of our religion, and you are well able to undertake the defence of orthodox doctrine against the attacks of heretics; yet it may not be amiss to inform your Excellency that a book, written by Apollinarius, has fallen into my hands, replete with more evil assertions than were ever advanced by any other heretic. He declares that the body which the Son of God assumed, when he came among us for our redemption, was not one which was prepared for Him; but that this carnal nature existed in the Son from the beginning. He substantiates this evil hypothesis by a misapplication of the following words of Scripture:—‘No one hath ascended up into Heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from Heaven.’ He alleges, from this text, that Christ was the Son of Man before He descended from Heaven; and that when He did descend, He brought with Him His own body, which was eternal. This heretic also refers to the following passage:—‘The second man is from Heaven.’ He, moreover, maintains that this man who came down from Heaven was destitute of mind (νοῦς), but that the divinity of the only-begotten Son supplied the want of intellect, and constituted the third part of the human compound. The body and soul (ψυχὴ) formed two parts, as in other men; and the Word of God held the place of the third part that was wanting: but this is not the most dangerous of his errors. The most grievous point of the heresy is, that he asserts that the only-begotten Son of God, the Judge of all men, the giver of life, and the destroyer of death, is Himself subject to death; that He suffered in His divine nature, which died with the body; and that it was, by the Father, raised again from the dead.” It would take too long to recount all the other extravagant doctrines propounded by these heretics. What I have said may, I think, suffice to show the nature of the sentiments maintained by Apollinarius and Eunomius. If any one desire more detailed information, I can only refer him to the works on the subject written by these heretics and by their opponents. I do not profess to understand or to expound these matters. That these heretical doctrines did not finally become predominant is mainly to be attributed to the zeal of the monks of this period; for all the monks of Syria, Cappadocia, and the neighbouring provinces, were sincerely attached to the Nicene faith. The eastern regions, however, from Cilicia to Phœnicia, were nearly subverted by the heresy of Apollinarius. The heresy of Eunomius was spread from Cilicia and the mountains of Taurus as far as the Hellespont and Constantinople. These two heretics found it easy to attract to their respective parties the persons among whom they dwelt, and those of the neighbourhood: but the same fate awaited them that had been experienced by the Arians; for they incurred the full weight of the popular odium and aversion, when it was observed that their sentiments were regarded with suspicion by the monks, whose doctrines were invariably received and followed by the people, on account of the virtue exhibited in their actions. In the same way, the Egyptians were led by the monks to oppose the Arians.








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