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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

IN the mean time, the contention which had arisen among the Egyptians could not be quelled. The heresy of Arius had been positively condemned by the council of Nice, while the followers of Meletius had been admitted into communion under the stipulations above stated. When Alexander returned to Egypt, Meletius delivered up to him the churches whose government he had unlawfully usurped, and retired to Lycus. Not long after, finding his end approaching, he nominated John, one of his most intimate friends, as his successor, contrary to the decree of the Nicæan council, and thus plunged the churches into fresh troubles. When the Arians perceived that the Meletians were introducing innovations, they also attempted to involve the churches in trouble. For, as frequently occurs in similar contests, some applauded the dogmas of Arius, while others contended that those who had been ordained by Meletius ought to govern the churches. These two bodies of sectarians had hitherto been opposed to each other, but, on perceiving that the clergy of the Catholic church were followed by the multitude, they, from motives of jealousy, formed an alliance together, regarding the clergy of Alexandria as their common enemies. Their measures of attack and defence were so long carried on in concert, that, in process of time, the Meletians were generally called Arians in Egypt, although they only dissent on questions of supreme rule and church government, while the Arians hold the same opinions concerning God as Arius. But although their sentiments were thus at variance, they had recourse to dissimulation, in order to carry on conjointly their schemes against the Catholics. From this period, however, it seems, the Meletians began to examine the contested topics, and were led to receive the Arian doctrines, and to hold the same opinions as Arius concerning God. This revived the original controversy concerning Arius, and some of the clergy and laity seceded from communion with the others. The dispute concerning the doctrines of Arius was renewed at Constantinople and other cities, and particularly in the provinces of Bithynia and the Hellespont. In short, it is said that Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, and Theognis, bishop of Nicæa, bribed the notary to whom the emperor had intrusted the custody of the documents of the Nicæan council, effaced their signatures, and openly taught that the Son is not to be considered consubstantial with the Father. Eusebius was accused of these irregularities before the emperor, and he replied with great boldness. “If this robe,” said he, “had been cut asunder in my presence, I could not affirm the fragments to be all of the same substance.” The emperor was much grieved at these disputes, for he had believed that questions of this nature had been finally decided by the council of Nice. He more especially regretted that Eusebius and Theognis had received certain Alexandrians into communion, although the synod had recommended them to repent on account of their heterodox opinions, and although he had himself condemned them to banishment from their native land, as being the exciters of sedition. It is asserted by some, that it was for the above reasons that the emperor exiled Eusebius and Theognis; but, as I have already stated, I have derived my information from those who are intimately acquainted with these matters.








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