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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

THE bishops who had embraced the sentiments of Arius found a favourable opportunity of restoring him and Euzoius to communion, by convening a council in the city of Jerusalem. They effected their design in the following manner:—A certain priest, who was a great admirer of the Arian doctrines, was on terms of intimacy with the emperor’s sister. At first he concealed his sentiments; but as he frequently visited, and became by degrees more familiar with Constantia, for such was the name of the emperor’s sister, he took courage to represent to her that Arius was unjustly exiled from his country, and cast out from the church, through the jealousy and personal enmity of Alexander, bishop of the Alexandrian church. He said that his jealousy had been excited by the esteem which the people manifested towards Arius. Constantia believed these representations to be true, yet took no steps in opposition to the decrees of the council of Nice. Being attacked with a disease which threatened to terminate in death; she besought her brother, who went to visit her, to grant what she was about to ask, as her dying request: this request was, to receive the above-mentioned priest on terms of intimacy, and to rely upon him as a man of orthodox faith. “For my part,” she added, “I am drawing nigh to death, and am no longer interested in the concerns of this life; the only apprehension I now feel arises from dread lest you should incur the wrath of God, and suffer any calamity, or the loss of your empire, since you have been induced to condemn good men to perpetual banishment.” From that period, the emperor received the priest into favour, and after frequently permitting him to converse with him on the same topics on which he had conversed with his sister, deemed it necessary to subject the case of Arius to a fresh examination: it is probable that, in forming this decision, the emperor was either influenced by a belief in the credibility of the priest’s calumnies, or by the desire of acceding to the wishes of his sister. It was not long before he recalled Arius from exile, and demanded of him a written exposition of his faith concerning the Godhead. Arius avoided making use of the new terms which he had previously devised, and couched his sentiments in the most simple phraseology, frequently introducing the words used in Scripture; he declared upon oath, that he held the doctrines set forth in this exposition, and that there was no other meaning attached to the words than that which met the eye. It was as follows:—

“Arius and Euzoius, presbyters, to Constantine, our most religious and best beloved emperor.

“According to your pious command, O Sovereign Lord, we here furnish a written statement of our faith, and we protest before God that we, and all those who are with us, believe what is here set forth.

“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, and in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, who proceeded from Him before all ages, being God the Word, by whom all things were made, whether things in heaven or things on earth; He took upon Him flesh, suffered and rose again, and ascended into Heaven, whence he will again come to judge the quick and the dead. We believe in the Holy Ghost, in the resurrection of the body, in the life to come, in the Kingdom of Heaven, and in one Catholic Church of God, established throughout the earth. We have received this faith from the Holy Gospels, in which the Lord says to His disciples, ‘Go forth and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ If we do not believe these truths, and if we do not truly receive the doctrines concerning the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, as they are taught by the whole Catholic Church and by the Sacred Scriptures, let God be our judge, both in this life and in that which is to come. Wherefore we appeal to your piety, O our best beloved emperor, and beseech you that, as we are enrolled among the members of the clergy, and as we hold the faith and doctrines of the Church and of the Sacred Scriptures, you will effect a reconciliation between us and the Church, which is our Mother; so that useless questions and disputes may be cast aside, and that we and the Church may dwell together in peace, and join together in prayer for the prosperity of your empire and the welfare of your family.”

Many considered this declaration of faith as an artful compilation, and as bearing an appearance of opposition to the Arian tenets, while, in reality, it supported them; the terms in which it was couched being so vague that it was susceptible of divers interpretations. The emperor imagined that Arms and Euzoius were of the same sentiments as the bishops of the council of Nicæa, and was delighted at the supposed discovery. He did not, however, attempt to restore them to communion without the sanction and co-operation of those who are, by the law of the church, judges of doctrine. He therefore sent them to the bishops who were then assembled at Jerusalem, and wrote to those bishops, desiring them to examine the declaration of faith submitted by Arius and Euzoius, and so to influence the decision of the synod that, whether they found that their doctrine was orthodox, and that the jealousy of their enemies had been the sole cause of their condemnation, or that, without having reason to blame those who had condemned them, they had subsequently embraced other sentiments, a favourable judgment might, in either case, be accorded them. Those who had long desired the restoration of Arius to communion were pleased by the opportunity afforded by the emperor’s letter for effecting their purpose. They wrote immediately to the emperor himself, to the church of Alexandria, and to the bishops and clergy of Egypt, of Thebes, and of Lybia, to beseech them to receive Arius and Euzoius into communion, since the emperor bore witness to the orthodoxy of their faith, in one of his own epistles, and since the judgment of the emperor had been confirmed by the decree of the synod.

These were the subjects which were zealously discussed by the synod of Jerusalem.








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