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A History Of The Church In Nine Books by Sozomen

SOON after these occurrences, the emperor went to Antioch, a city of Syria. Here a large and beautiful church had been founded by the late emperor Constantine; and as the structure had been just completed by his son Constantius, it was deemed a favourable opportunity by the partizans of Eusebius to convene a council. They, therefore, with those from various regions who held their sentiments, met together in Antioch; their bishops were about ninety-seven in number. Their professed object was the consecration of the new church; but they intended nothing else than the abolition of the decrees of the Nicæan Council, and this was fully proved by the sequel. The church of Antioch was then governed by Hacillus, who had succeeded Euphronius. The death of Constantine the Great had taken place about five years prior to this period. When all the bishops had assembled in the presence of the emperor Constantius, the majority expressed great indignation against Athanasius for having contemned the sacerdotal regulation which they had enacted, and taken possession of the bishopric of Alexandria without first obtaining the sanction of a council. They also deposed that he was the cause of the death of several persons who fell in a sedition excited by his return; and that many others had on the same occasion been arrested, and delivered up to the judicial tribunals. By these accusations they contrived to cast odium on Athanasius, and it was decreed that Gregory should be invested with the government of the church of Alexandria. They then turned to the discussion of doctrinal questions, and found no fault with the decrees of the Council of Nice. They despatched letters to the bishops of every city, in which they declared that, as they were bishops themselves, they had not followed Arius. “For how,” said they, “could we have been followers of him, when he was but a presbyter and we were placed above him?” They affirmed that they received the faith which had, from the beginning, been handed down by tradition. This they further explained at the bottom of their letter, but without alluding to the substance of the Father or the Son, or to the term consubstantial. They resorted, in fact, to such ambiguity of expression, that neither the Arians nor the followers of the decrees of the Nicæan Council could call their assertions into question, or affirm that they departed from the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures. They purposely avoided all forms of expression which were rejected by either party, and only made use of those which were universally admitted. They confessed that the Son is with the Father, that He is the only begotten One, and that He is God, and existed before all things; and that He took flesh upon him, and fulfilled the will of His Father. They admitted these and similar truths, but neither affirmed nor denied the doctrine of the Son being co-eternal and consubstantial with the Father. They subsequently disapproved, it appears, of this formulary, and issued another, which, I think, very nearly resembles that of the Council of Nice, unless, indeed, some secret meaning be attached to the words which is not apparent to me. Although they refrained, I know not from what motive, from saying that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, they confessed that He is immutable, that His divinity is not susceptible of change, that He is the perfect image of the substance, and counsel, and power, and glory of the Father, and that He is the first-born of every creature. They stated that they had found this formulary of faith, and that it was written by Lucinius who was martyred in Nicomedia, and who was a man of great celebrity and remarkably conversant with the Sacred Scriptures. I know not whether this statement was really true, or whether they merely advanced it in order to give weight to their own document, by connecting with it the name of an illustrious martyr. Not only was Eusebius (who, on the expulsion of Paul, had been transferred from the bishopric of Nicomedia to that of Constantinople) present at this council, but likewise Acacius, the successor of Eusebius Pamphilus, Patrophilus, bishop of Scythopolis, Theodore, bishop of Heraclea, formerly called Perinthus, Eudoxius, bishop of Germanicia, who succeeded Macedonius in the government of the church of Constantinople, and Gregory, who had been appointed bishop of the church of Alexandria. It was universally acknowledged that all these bishops held the same sentiments. Dianius, bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, George, bishop of Laodicea in Syria, and many other metropolitan bishops and primates of renowned churches, were also present at this council.








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