"On the Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia"
Source Used: Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 4. Translated by John Henry Newman and Archibald Robertson. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892.)
On the Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia:
Part 1. History of the Councils
Reason why two Councils were called. Inconsistency and folly of calling any; and of the style of the Arian formularies; occasion of the Nicene Council; proceedings at Ariminum; Letter of the Council to Constantius; its decree. Proceedings at Seleucia; reflections on the conduct of the Arians.
- Perhaps news has reached even yourselves concerning the Council, which is at this time the subject of general conversation; for letters both from the Emperor and the Prefects were circulated far and wide for its convocation. However, you take that interest in the events which have occurred, that I have determined upon giving you an account of what I have seen myself, and accurately ascertained, which may save you from the suspense attendant on the reports of others; and this the more, because there are parties who are in the habit of misrepresenting what has happened. At Nicæa then, which had been fixed upon, the Council has not met, but a second edict was issued, convening the Western Bishops at Ariminum in Italy, and the Eastern at Seleucia the Rugged, as it is called, in Isauria. The professed reason of such a meeting was to treat of the faith touching our Lord Jesus Christ; and those who alleged it, were Ursacius, Valens, and one Germinius from Pannonia; and from Syria, Acacius, Eudoxius, and Patrophilus of Scythopolis. These men who had always been of the Arian party, and ‘understood neither how they believe or whereof they affirm,’ and were silently deceiving first one and then another, and scattering the second sowing of their heresy, influenced some who seemed to be somewhat, and the Emperor Constantius among them, being a heretic , on some pretence about the Faith, to call a Council; under the idea that they should be able to put into the shade the Nicene Council, and prevail upon all to turn round, and to establish irreligion everywhere instead of the Truth.
- Now here I marvel first, and think that I shall carry every sensible man whatever with me, that, whereas a General Council had been fixed, and all were looking forward to it, it was all of a sudden divided into two, so that one part met here, and the other there. However, this was surely the doing of Providence, in order in the respective Councils to exhibit the faith without guile or corruption of the one party, and to expose the dishonesty and duplicity of the other. Next, this too was on the mind of myself and my true brethren here, and made us anxious, the impropriety of this great gathering which we saw in progress; for what pressed so much, that the whole world was to be put in confusion, and those who at the time bore the profession of clergy, should run about far and near, seeking how best to learn to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ? Certainly if they were believers already, they would not have been seeking, as though they were not. And to the catechumens, this was no small scandal; but to the heathen, it was something more than common, and even furnished broad merriment , that Christians, as if waking out of sleep at this time of day, should be enquiring how they were to believe concerning Christ; while their professed clergy, though claiming deference from their flocks, as teachers, were unbelievers on their own showing, in that they were seeking what they had not. And the party of Ursacius, who were at the bottom of all this, did not understand what wrath they were storing up Romans 2:5 against themselves, as our Lord says by His saints, ‘Woe unto them, through whom My Name is blasphemed among the Gentiles’ Isaiah 52:5; Romans 2:24; and by His own mouth in the Gospels Matthew 18:6, ‘Whoever shall offend one of these little ones, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea, than,’ as Luke adds, ‘that he should offend one of these little ones’ Luke 17:2.
- What defect of teaching was there for religious truth in the Catholic Church , that they should enquire concerning faith now, and should prefix this year’s Consulate to their profession of faith? For Ursacius and Valens and Germinius and their friends have done what never took place, never was heard of among Christians. After putting into writing what it pleased them to believe, they prefix to it the Consulate, and the month and the day of the current year ; thereby to show all sensible men, that their faith dates, not from of old, but now, from the reign of Constantius ; for whatever they write has a view to their own heresy. Moreover, though pretending to write about the Lord, they nominate another master for themselves, Constantius, who has bestowed on them this reign of irreligion ; and they who deny that the Son is everlasting, have called him Eternal Emperor; such foes of Christ are they in addition to irreligion. But perhaps the dates in the holy Prophets form their excuse for the Consulate; so bold a pretence, however, will serve but to publish more fully their ignorance of the subject. For the prophecies of the saints do indeed specify their times (for instance, Isaiah and Hosea lived in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah; Jeremiah in the days of Josiah; Ezekiel and Daniel prophesied under Cyrus and Darius; and others in other times); yet they were not laying the foundations of divine religion; it was before them, and was always, for before the foundation of the world God prepared it for us in Christ. Nor were they signifying the respective dates of their own faith; for they had been believers before these dates. But the dates did but belong to their own preaching. And this preaching spoke beforehand of the Saviour’s coming, but directly of what was to happen to Israel and the nations; and the dates denoted not the commencement of faith, as I said before, but of the prophets themselves, that is, when it was they thus prophesied. But our modern sages, not in historical narration, nor in prediction of the future, but, after writing, ‘The Catholic Faith was published,’ immediately add the Consulate and the month and the day, that, as the saints specified the dates of their histories, and of their own ministries, so these may mark the date of their own faith. And would that they had written, touching ‘their own ‘ (for it does date from today); and had not made their essay as touching ‘the Catholic,’ for they did not write, ‘Thus we believe,’ but ‘the Catholic Faith was published.’
- The boldness then of their design shows how little they understand the subject; while the novelty of their phrase matches the Arian heresy. For thus they show, when it was they began their own faith, and that from that same time present they would have it proclaimed. And as according to the Evangelist Luke, there ‘was made a decree’ Luke 2:1 concerning the taxing, and this decree before was not, but began from those days in which it was made by its framer, they also in like manner, by writing, ‘The Faith is now published,’ showed that the sentiments of their heresy are novel, and were not before. But if they add ‘of the Catholic Faith,’ they fall before they know it into the extravagance of the Phrygians, and say with them, ‘To us first was revealed,’ and ‘from us dates the Faith of Christians.’ And as those inscribe it with the names of Maximilla and Montanus , so do these with ‘Constantius, Master,’ instead of Christ. If, however, as they would have it, the faith dates from the present Consulate, what will the Fathers do, and the blessed Martyrs? Nay, what will they themselves do with their own catechumens, who departed to rest before this Consulate? How will they wake them up, that so they may obliterate their former lessons, and may sow in turn the seeming discoveries which they have now put into writing ? So ignorant they are on the subject; with no knowledge but that of making excuses, and those unbecoming and unplausible, and carrying with them their own refutation.
- As to the Nicene Council, it was not a common meeting, but convened upon a pressing necessity, and for a reasonable object. The Syrians, Cilicians, and Mesopotamians, were out of order in celebrating the Feast, and kept Easter with the Jews ; on the other hand, the Arian heresy had risen up against the Catholic Church, and found supporters in Eusebius and his fellows, who were both zealous for the heresy, and conducted the attack upon religious people. This gave occasion for an Ecumenical Council, that the feast might be everywhere celebrated on one day, and that the heresy which was springing up might be anathematized. It took place then; and the Syrians submitted, and the Fathers pronounced the Arian heresy to be the forerunner of Antichrist , and drew up a suitable formula against it. And yet in this, many as they are, they ventured on nothing like the proceedings of these three or four men. Without pre-fixing Consulate, month, and day, they wrote concerning Easter, ‘It seemed good as follows,’ for it did then seem good that there should be a general compliance; but about the faith they wrote not, ‘It seemed good,’ but, ‘Thus believes the Catholic Church;’ and thereupon they confessed how they believed, in order to show that their own sentiments were not novel, but Apostolical; and what they wrote down was no discovery of theirs, but is the same as was taught by the Apostles.
- But the Councils which they are now setting in motion, what colorable pretext have they ? If any new heresy has risen since the Arian, let them tell us the positions which it has devised, and who are its inventors? And in their own formula, let them anathematize the heresies antecedent to this Council of theirs, among which is the Arian, as the Nicene Fathers did, that it may appear that they too have some cogent reason for saying what is novel. But if no such event has happened, and they have it not to show, but rather they themselves are uttering heresies, as holding Arius’s irreligion, and are exposed day by day, and day by day shift their ground , what need is there of Councils, when the Nicene is sufficient, as against the Arian heresy, so against the rest, which it has condemned one and all by means of the sound faith? For even the notorious Aetius, who was surnamed godless , vaunts not of the discovering of any mania of his own, but under stress of weather has been wrecked upon Arianism, himself and the persons whom he has beguiled. Vainly then do they run about with the pretext that they have demanded Councils for the faith’s sake; for divine Scripture is sufficient above all things; but if a Council be needed on the point, there are the proceedings of the Fathers, for the Nicene Bishops did not neglect this matter, but stated the doctrine so exactly, that persons reading their words honestly, cannot but be reminded by them of the religion towards Christ announced in divine Scripture.
- Having therefore no reason on their side, but being in difficulty whichever way they turn, in spite of their pretences, they have nothing left but to say; ‘Forasmuch as we contradict our predecessors, and transgress the traditions of the Fathers, therefore we have thought good that a Council should meet ; but again, whereas we fear lest, should it meet at one place, our pains will be thrown away, therefore we have thought good that it be divided into two; that so when we put forth our documents to these separate portions, we may overreach with more effect, with the threat of Constantius the patron of this irreligion, and may supersede the acts of Nicæa, under pretence of the simplicity of our own documents.’ If they have not put this into words, yet this is the meaning of their deeds and their disturbances. Certainly, many and frequent as have been their speeches and writings in various Councils, never yet have they made mention of the Arian heresy as objectionable; but, if any present happened to accuse the heresies, they always took up the defense of the Arian, which the Nicene Council had anathematized; nay, rather, they cordially welcomed the professors of Arianism. This then is in itself a strong argument, that the aim of the present Councils was not truth, but the annulling of the acts of Nicæa; but the proceedings of them and their friends in the Councils themselves, make it equally clear that this was the case:— For now we must relate everything as it occurred.
- When all were in expectation that they were to assemble in one place, whom the Emperor’s letters convoked, and to form one Council, they were divided into two; and, while some betook themselves to Seleucia called the Rugged, the others met at Ariminum, to the number of those four hundred bishops and more, among whom were Germinius, Auxentius, Valens, Ursacius, Demophilus, and Gaius. And, while the whole assembly was discussing the matter from the Divine Scriptures, these men produced a paper, and, reading out the Consulate, they demanded that it should be preferred to every Council, and that no questions should be put to the heretics beyond it, nor inquiry made into their meaning, but that it should be sufficient by itself — and what they had written ran as follows:—
The Catholic Faith was published in the presence of our Master the most religious and gloriously victorious Emperor, Constantius, Augustus, the eternal and august, in the Consulate of the most illustrious Flavii, Eusebius and Hypatius, in Sirmium on the 11th of the Calends of June.
We believe in one Only and True God, the Father Almighty, Creator and Framer of all things:
And in one Only-begotten Son of God, who, before all ages, and before all origin, and before all conceivable time, and before all comprehensible essence, was begotten impassibly from God: through whom the ages were disposed and all things were made; and Him begotten as the Only-begotten, Only from the Only Father, God from God, like to the Father who begot Him, according to the Scriptures; whose origin no one knows save the Father alone who begot Him. We know that He, the Only-begotten Son of God, at the Father’s bidding came from the heavens for the abolishment of sin, and was born of the Virgin Mary, and conversed with the disciples, and fulfilled the Economy according to the Father’s will, and was crucified, and died and descended into the parts beneath the earth, and regulated the things there, Whom the gate-keepers of hell saw Job 38:17 and shuddered; and He rose from the dead the third day, and conversed with the disciples, and fulfilled all the Economy, and when the forty days were full, ascended into the heavens, and sits on the right hand of the Father, and is coming in the last day of the resurrection in the glory of the Father, to render to every one according to his works.
And in the Holy Ghost, whom the Only-begotten of God Himself, Jesus Christ, had promised to send to the race of men, the Paraclete, as it is written, ‘I go to My Father, and I will ask the Father, and He shall send unto you another Paraclete, even the Spirit of Truth. He shall take of Mine and shall teach and bring to your remembrance all things’ Job 14:16-26; 16:14.
But whereas the term ‘essence,’ has been adopted by the Fathers in simplicity, and gives offense as being misconceived by the people, and is not contained in the Scriptures, it has seemed good to remove it, that it be never in any case used of God again, because the divine Scriptures nowhere use it of Father and Son. But we say that the Son is like the Father in all things, as also the Holy Scriptures say and teach.
- When this had been read, the dishonesty of its framers was soon apparent. For on the Bishops proposing that the Arian heresy should be anathematized together with the other heresies too, and all assenting, Ursacius and Valens and those with them refused; till in the event the Fathers condemned them, on the ground that their confession had been written, not in sincerity, but for the annulling of the acts of Nicæa, and the introduction instead of their unhappy heresy. Marvelling then at the deceitfulness of their language and their unprincipled intentions, the Bishops said: ‘Not as if in need of faith have we come hither; for we have within us faith, and that in soundness: but that we may put to shame those who gainsay the truth and attempt novelties. If then you have drawn up this formula, as if now beginning to believe, you are not so much as clergy, but are starting with school; but if you meet us with the same views with which we have come hither, let there be a general unanimity, and let us anathematize the heresies, and preserve the teaching of the Fathers. Thus pleas for Councils will not longer circulate about, the Bishops at Nicæa having anticipated them once for all, and done all that was needful for the Catholic Church.’ However, even then, in spite of this general agreement of the Bishops, still the above-mentioned refused. So at length the whole Council, condemning them as ignorant and deceitful men, or rather as heretics, gave their suffrages in behalf of the Nicene Council, and gave judgment all of them that it was enough; but as to the forenamed Ursacius and Valens, Germinius, Auxentius, Gaius, and Demophilus, they pronounced them to be heretics, deposed them as not really Christians, but Arians, and wrote against them in Latin what has been translated in its substance into Greek, thus:—
- Copy of an Epistle from the Council to Constantius Augustus.
We believe that what was formerly decreed was brought about both by God’s command and by order of your piety. For we the bishops, from all the Western cities, assembled together at Ariminum, both that the Faith of the Catholic Church might be made known, and that gainsayers might be detected. For, as we have found after long deliberation, it appeared desirable to adhere to and maintain to the end, that faith which, enduring from antiquity, we have received as preached by the prophets, the Gospels, and the Apostles through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is Keeper of your Kingdom and Patron of your power. For it appeared wrong and unlawful to make any change in what was rightly and justly defined, and what was resolved upon in common at Nicæa along with the Emperor your father, the most glorious Constantine, — the doctrine and spirit of which [definition] went abroad and was proclaimed in the hearing and understanding of all men. For it alone was the conqueror and destroyer of the heresy of Arius, by which not that only but the other heresies also were destroyed, to which of a truth it is perilous to add, and full of danger to minish anything from it, since if either be done, our enemies will be able with impunity to do whatever they will. Accordingly Ursacius and Valens, since they had been from of old abettors and sympathisers of the Arian dogma, were properly declared separate from our communion, to be admitted to which they asked to be allowed a place of repentance and pardon for the transgressions of which they were conscious, as the documents drawn up by them testify. By which means forgiveness and pardon on all charges has been obtained. Now the time of these transactions was when the council was assembled at Milan , the presbyters of the Roman Church being also present. But knowing at the same time that Constantine of worthy memory had with all accuracy and deliberation published the Faith then drawn up; when he had been baptized by the hands of men, and had departed to the place which was his due, [we think it] unseemly to make a subsequent innovation and to despise so many saints, confessors, martyrs, who compiled and drew up this decree; who moreover have continued to hold in all matters according to the ancient law of the Church; whose faith God has imparted even to the times of your reign through our Master Jesus Christ, through whom also it is yours to reign and rule over the world in our day. Once more then the pitiful men of wretched mind with lawless daring have announced themselves as the heralds of an impious opinion, and are attempting to upset every summary of truth. For when according to your command the synod met, those men laid bare the design of their own deceitfulness. For they attempted in a certain unscrupulous and disorderly manner to propose to us an innovation, having found as accomplices in this plot Germinius, Auxentius , and Gaius, the stirrers up of strife and discord, whose teaching by itself has gone beyond every pitch of blasphemy. But when they perceived that we did not share their purpose, nor agree with their evil mind, they transferred themselves to our council, alleging that it might be advisable to compile something instead. But a short time was enough to expose their plans. And lest the Churches should have a recurrence of these disturbances, and a whirl of discord and confusion throw everything into disorder, it seemed good to keep undisturbed the ancient and reasonable institutions, and that the above persons should be separated from our communion. For the information therefore of your clemency, we have instructed our legates to acquaint you with the judgment of the Council by our letter, to whom we have given this special direction, to establish the truth by resting their case upon the ancient and just decrees; and they will also assure your piety that peace would not be accomplished by the removal of those decrees as Valens and Ursacius alleged. For how is it possible for peace-breakers to bring peace? On the contrary, by their means strife and confusion will arise not only in the other cities, but also in the Church of the Romans. On this account we ask your clemency to regard our legates with favourable ears and a serene countenance and not to suffer anything to be abrogated to the dishonour of the dead; but allow us to abide by what has been defined and laid down by our forefathers, who, we venture to say, we trust in all things acted with prudence and wisdom and the Holy Spirit; because by these novelties not only are the faithful made to disbelieve, but the infidels also are embittered. We pray also that you would give orders that so many Bishops who are detained abroad, among whom are numbers who are broken with age and poverty, may be enabled to return to their own country, lest the Churches suffer, as being deprived of their Bishops. This, however, we ask with earnestness, that nothing be innovated upon existing creeds, nothing withdrawn; but that all remain incorrupt which has continued in the times of your Father’s piety and to the present time; and that you will not permit us to be harassed, and estranged from our sees; but that the Bishops may in quiet give themselves always to prayers and worship, which they do always offer for your own safety and for your reign, and for peace, which may the Divinity bestow on you forever. But our legates are conveying the subscriptions and titles of the Bishops, and will also inform your piety from the Holy Scriptures themselves.
- Decree of the Council.
As far as it was fitting and possible, dearest brethren, the general Council and the holy Church have had patience, and have generously displayed the Church’s forbearance towards Ursacius and Valens, Gaius, Germinius, and Auxentius; who by so often changing what they had believed, have troubled all the Churches, and still are endeavouring to foist their heretical spirit upon the faith of the orthodox. For they wish to annul the formulary passed at Nicæa, which was framed against the Arian heresy. They have presented to us besides a creed drawn up by themselves from without, and utterly alien to the most holy Church; which we could not lawfully receive. Even before this, and now, have they been pronounced heretics and gainsayers by us, whom we have not admitted to our communion, but condemned and deposed them in their presence by our voices. Now then, what seems good to you, again declare, that each one’s vote may be ratified by his subscription.
The Bishops answered with one accord, It seems good that the aforenamed heretics should be condemned, that the Catholic faith may remain in peace.
Matters at Ariminum then had this speedy issue; for there was no disagreement there, but all of them with one accord both put into writing what they decided upon, and deposed the Arians.
- Meanwhile the transactions in Seleucia the Rugged were as follows: it was in the month called by the Romans September, by the Egyptians Thoth, and by the Macedonians Gorpiæus, and the day of the month according to the Egyptians the 16th , upon which all the members of the Council assembled together. And there were present about a hundred and sixty; and whereas there were many who were accused among them, and their accusers were crying out against them, Acacius, and Patrophilus, and Uranius of Tyre, and Eudoxius, who usurped the Church of Antioch, and Leontius , and Theodotus , and Evagrius, and Theodulus, and George who has been driven from the whole world , adopt an unprincipled course. Fearing the proofs which their accusers had to show against them, they coalesced with the rest of the Arian party (who were mercenaries in the cause of irreligion for this purpose, and were ordained by Secundus, who had been deposed by the great Council), the Libyan Stephen, and Seras, and Polydeuces, who were under accusation upon various charges, next Pancratius, and one Ptolemy a Meletian. And they made a pretence of entering upon the question of faith, but it was clear they were doing so from fear of their accusers; and they took the part of the heresy, till at length they were divided among themselves. For, whereas those with Acacius and his fellows lay under suspicion and were very few, the others were the majority; therefore Acacius and his fellows, acting with the boldness of desperation, altogether denied the Nicene formula, and censured the Council, while the others, who were the majority, accepted the whole proceedings of the Council, except that they complained of the word ‘Coessential,’ as obscure and so open to suspicion. When then time passed, and the accusers pressed, and the accused put in pleas, and thereby were led on further by their irreligion and blasphemed the Lord, thereupon the majority of Bishops became indignant , and deposed Acacius, Patrophilus, Uranius, Eudoxius, and George the contractor , and others from Asia, Leontius, and Theodosius, Evagrius and Theodulus, and excommunicated Asterius, Eusebius, Augarus, Basilicus, Phœbus, Fidelius, Eutychius, and Magnus. And this they did on their non-appearance, when summoned to defend themselves on charges which numbers preferred against them. And they decreed that so they should remain, until they made their defense and cleared themselves of the offenses imputed to them. And after dispatching the sentence pronounced against them to the diocese of each, they proceeded to Constantius, the most irreligious Augustus, to report to him their proceedings, as they had been ordered. And this was the termination of the Council in Seleucia.
- Who then but must approve of the conscientious conduct of the Bishops at Ariminum? Who endured such labour of journey and perils of sea, that by a sacred and canonical resolution they might depose the Arians, and guard inviolate the definitions of the Fathers. For each of them deemed that, if they undid the acts of their predecessors, they were affording a pretext to their successors to undo what they themselves then were enacting. And who but must condemn the fickleness of Eudoxius, Acacius, and their fellows, who sacrifice the honour due to their own fathers to partizanship and patronage of the Ario-maniacs ? For what confidence can be placed in their acts, if the acts of their fathers be undone? Or how call they them fathers and themselves successors, if they set about impeaching their judgment? And especially what can Acacius say of his own master, Eusebius, who not only gave his subscription in the Nicene Council, but even in a letter signified to his flock, that that was true faith, which the Council had declared? For, if he explained himself in that letter in his own way , yet he did not contradict the Council’s terms, but even charged it upon the Arians, that their position that the Son was not before His generation, was not even consistent with His being before Mary. What then will they proceed to teach the people who are under their teaching? That the Fathers erred? And how are they themselves to be trusted by those, whom they teach to disobey their Teachers? And with what eyes too will they look upon the sepulchres of the Fathers whom they now name heretics? And why do they defame the Valentinians, Phrygians, and Manichees, yet give the name of saint to those whom they themselves suspect of making parallel statements? Or how can they any longer be Bishops, if they were ordained by persons whom they accuse of heresy ? But if their sentiments were wrong and their writings seduced the world, then let their memory perish altogether; when, however, you cast out their books, go and cast out their remains too from the cemeteries, so that one and all may know that they are seducers, and that you are parricides.
- The blessed Apostle approves of the Corinthians because, he says, ‘ye remember me in all things, and keep the traditions as I delivered them to you’ 1 Corinthians 11:2; but they, as entertaining such views of their predecessors, will have the daring to say just the reverse to their flocks: ‘We praise you not for remembering your fathers, but rather we make much of you, when you hold not their traditions.’ And let them go on to accuse their own unfortunate birth, and say, ‘We are sprung not of religious men but of heretics.’ For such language, as I said before, is consistent in those who barter their Father.’ fame and their own salvation for Arianism, and fear not the words of the divine proverb, ‘There is a generation that curses their father’ Proverbs 30:11; Exodus 21:17, and the threat lying in the Law against such. They then, from zeal for the heresy, are of this obstinate temper; you, however, be not troubled at it, nor take their audacity for truth. For they dissent from each other, and, whereas they have revolted from their Fathers, are not of one and the same mind, but float about with various and discordant changes. And, as quarrelling with the Council of Nicæa, they have held many Councils themselves, and have published a faith in each of them, and have stood to none , nay, they will never do otherwise, for perversely seeking, they will never find that Wisdom which they hate. I have accordingly subjoined portions both of Arius’s writings and of whatever else I could collect, of their publications in different Councils; whereby you will learn to your surprise with what object they stand out against an Ecumenical Council and their own Fathers without blushing.
Part 2. History of Arian Opinions
Arius’s own sentiments; his Thalia and Letter to S. Alexander; corrections by Eusebius and others; extracts from the works of Asterius; letter of the Council of Jerusalem; first Creed of Arians at the Dedication of Antioch; second, Lucian’s on the same occasion; third, by Theophronius; fourth, sent to Constans in Gaul; fifth, the Macrostich sent into Italy; sixth, at Sirmium; seventh, at the same place; and eighth also, as given above in §8; ninth, at Seleucia; tenth, at Constantinople; eleventh, at Antioch.
- Arius and those with him thought and professed thus: ‘God made the Son out of nothing, and called Him His Son.’ ‘The Word of God is one of the creatures;’ and ‘Once He was not;’ and ‘He is alterable; capable, when it is His Will, of altering.’ Accordingly they were expelled from the Church by the blessed Alexander. However, after his expulsion, when he was with Eusebius and his fellows, he drew up his heresy upon paper, and imitating in the Thalia no grave writer, but the Egyptian Sotades, in the dissolute tone of his metre , he writes at great length, for instance as follows:—
Blasphemies of Arius.
God Himself then, in His own nature, is ineffable by all men. Equal or like Himself He alone has none, or one in glory. And Ingenerate we call Him, because of Him who is generate by nature. We praise Him as without beginning because of Him who has a beginning. And adore Him as everlasting, because of Him who in time has come to be. The Unbegun made the Son a beginning of things originated; and advanced Him as a Son to Himself by adoption. He has nothing proper to God in proper subsistence. For He is not equal, no, nor one in essence with Him. Wise is God, for He is the teacher of Wisdom. There is full proof that God is invisible to all beings; both to things which are through the Son, and to the Son He is invisible. I will say it expressly, how by the Son is seen the Invisible; by that power by which God sees, and in His own measure, the Son endures to see the Father, as is lawful. Thus there is a Triad, not in equal glories. Not intermingling with each other are their subsistences. One more glorious than the other in their glories unto immensity. Foreign from the Son in essence is the Father, for He is without beginning. Understand that the Monad was; but the Dyad was not, before it was in existence. It follows at once that, though the Son was not, the Father was God. Hence the Son, not being (for He existed at the will of the Father), is God Only-begotten , and He is alien from either. Wisdom existed as Wisdom by the will of the Wise God. Hence He is conceived in numberless conceptions : Spirit, Power, Wisdom, God’s glory, Truth, Image, and Word. Understand that He is conceived to be Radiance and Light. One equal to the Son, the Superior is able to beget; but one more excellent, or superior, or greater, He is not able. At God’s will the Son is what and whatsoever He is. And when and since He was, from that time He has subsisted from God. He, being a strong God, praises in His degree the Superior. To speak in brief, God is ineffable to His Son. For He is to Himself what He is, that is, unspeakable. So that nothing which is called comprehensible does the Son know to speak about; for it is impossible for Him to investigate the Father, who is by Himself. For the Son does not know His own essence, For, being Son, He really existed, at the will of the Father. What argument then allows, that He who is from the Father should know His own parent by comprehension? For it is plain that for that which has a beginning to conceive how the Unbegun is, or to grasp the idea, is not possible.
- And what they wrote by letter to the blessed Alexander, the Bishop, runs as follows:—
To Our Blessed Pope and Bishop, Alexander, the Presbyters and Deacons send health in the Lord.
Our faith from our forefathers, which also we have learned from you, Blessed Pope, is this:— We acknowledge One God, alone Ingenerate, alone Everlasting, alone Unbegun, alone True, alone having Immortality, alone Wise, alone Good, alone Sovereign; Judge, Governor, and Providence of all, unalterable and unchangeable, just and good, God of Law and Prophets and New Testament; who begot an Only-begotten Son before eternal times, through whom He has made both the ages and the universe; and begot Him, not in semblance, but in truth; and that He made Him subsist at His own will, unalterable and unchangeable; perfect creature of God, but not as one of the creatures; offspring, but not as one of things begotten; nor as Valentinus pronounced that the offspring of the Father was an issue ; nor as Manichæus taught that the offspring was a portion of the Father, one in essence ; or as Sabellius, dividing the Monad, speaks of a Son-and-Father ; nor as Hieracas, of one torch from another, or as a lamp divided into two ; nor that He who was before, was afterwards generated or new-created into a Son , as thou too yourself, Blessed Pope, in the midst of the Church and in session hast often condemned; but, as we say, at the will of God, created before times and before ages, and gaining life and being from the Father, who gave subsistence to His glories together with Him. For the Father did not, in giving to Him the inheritance of all things, deprive Himself of what He has ingenerately in Himself; for He is the Fountain of all things. Thus there are Three Subsistences. And God, being the cause of all things, is Unbegun and altogether Sole, but the Son being begotten apart from time by the Father, and being created and founded before ages, was not before His generation, but being begotten apart from time before all things, alone was made to subsist by the Father. For He is not eternal or co-eternal or co-unoriginate with the Father, nor has He His being together with the Father, as some speak of relations , introducing two ingenerate beginnings, but God is before all things as being Monad and Beginning of all. Wherefore also He is before the Son; as we have learned also from your preaching in the midst of the Church. So far then as from God He has being, and glories, and life, and all things are delivered unto Him, in such sense is God His origin. For He is above Him, as being His God and before Him. But if the terms ‘from Him,’ and ‘from the womb,’ and ‘I came forth from the Father, and I have come ‘ Romans 11:36; Psalm 110:3; John 16:28, be understood by some to mean as if a part of Him, one in essence or as an issue, then the Father is according to them compounded and divisible and alterable and material, and, as far as their belief goes, has the circumstances of a body, Who is the Incorporeal God.
This is a part of what Arius and his fellows vomited from their heretical hearts.
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- And before the Nicene Council took place, similar statements were made by Eusebius and his fellows, Narcissus, Patrophilus, Maris, Paulinus, Theodotus, and Athanasius of [A]nazarba. And Eusebius of Nicomedia wrote over and above to Arius, to this effect, ‘Since your sentiments are good, pray that all may adopt them; for it is plain to any one, that what has been made was not before its origination; but what came to be has a beginning of being.’ And Eusebius of Cæsarea in Palestine, in a letter to Euphration the Bishop , did not scruple to say plainly that Christ was not true God. And Athanasius of [A]nazarba uncloked the heresy still further, saying that the Son of God was one of the hundred sheep. For writing to Alexander the Bishop, he had the extreme audacity to say: ‘Why complain of Arius and his fellows, for saying, The Son of God is made as a creature out of nothing, and one among others? For all that are made being represented in parable by the hundred sheep, the Son is one of them. If then the hundred are not created and originate, or if there be beings beside that hundred, then may the Son be not a creature nor one among others; but if those hundred are all originate, and there is nothing besides the hundred save God alone, what absurdity do Arius and his fellows utter, when, as comprehending and reckoning Christ in the hundred, they say that He is one among others?’ And George who now is in Laodicea, and then was presbyter of Alexandria, and was staying at Antioch, wrote to Alexander the Bishop; ‘Do not complain of Arius and his fellows, for saying, Once the Son of God was not, for Isaiah came to be son of Amos, and, whereas Amos was before Isaiah came to be, Isaiah was not before, but came to be afterwards.’ And he wrote to the Arians, ‘Why complain of Alexander the Pope, saying, that the Son is from the Father? For you too need not fear to say that the Son was from God.’ For if the Apostle wrote 1 Corinthians 11:12, ‘All things are from God,’ and it is plain that all things are made of nothing, though the Son too is a creature and one of things made, still He may be said to be from God in that sense in which all things are said to be ‘from God.’ From him then those who hold with Arius learned to simulate the phrase ‘from God,’ and to use it indeed, but not in a good meaning. And George himself was deposed by Alexander for certain reasons, and among them for manifest irreligion; for he was himself a presbyter, as has been said before.
- On the whole then such were their statements, as if they all were in dispute and rivalry with each other, which should make the heresy more irreligious, and display it in a more naked form. And as for their letters I had them not at hand, to dispatch them to you; else I would have sent you copies; but, if the Lord will, this too I will do, when I get possession of them. And one Asterius from Cappadocia, a many-headed Sophist, one of the fellows of Eusebius, whom they could not advance into the Clergy, as having done sacrifice in the former persecution in the time of Constantius’s grandfather, writes, with the countenance of Eusebius and his fellows, a small treatise, which was on a par with the crime of his sacrifice, yet answered their wishes; for in it, after comparing, or rather preferring, the locust and the caterpillar to Christ, and saying that Wisdom in God was other than Christ, and was the Framer as well of Christ as of the world, he went round the Churches in Syria and elsewhere, with introductions from Eusebius and his fellows, that as he once made trial of denying, so now he might boldly oppose the truth. The bold man intruded himself into forbidden places, and seating himself in the place of Clergy , he used to read publicly this treatise of his, in spite of the general indignation. The treatise is written at great length, but portions of it are as follows:—
For the Blessed Paul said not that he preached Christ, His, that is, God’s, ‘own Power’ or ‘Wisdom,’ but without the article, ‘God’s Power and God’s Wisdom’ 1 Corinthians 1:24, preaching that the own power of God Himself was distinct, which was con-natural and co-existent with Him unoriginately, generative indeed of Christ, creative of the whole world; concerning which he teaches in his Epistle to the Romans, thus, ‘The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even His eternal power and divinity’ Romans 1:20. For as no one would say that the Deity there mentioned was Christ, but the Father Himself, so, as I think, His eternal power is also not the Only-begotten God John 1:18, but the Father who begot Him. And he tells us of another Power and Wisdom of God, namely, that which is manifested through Christ, and made known through the works themselves of His Ministry.
Although His eternal Power and Wisdom, which truth argues to be Unbegun and Ingenerate, would appear certainly to be one and the same, yet many are those powers which are one by one created by Him, of which Christ is the First-born and Only-begotten. All however equally depend upon their Possessor, and all His powers are rightly called His, who created and uses them; for instance, the Prophet says that the locust, which became a divine punishment of human sin, was called by God Himself, not only a power of God, but a great power Joel 2:25. And the blessed David too in several of the Psalms, invites, not Angels alone, but Powers also to praise God. And while he invites them all to the hymn, he presents before us their multitude, and is not unwilling to call them ministers of God, and teaches them to do His will.
- These bold words against the Saviour did not content him, but he went further in his blasphemies, as follows:
The Son is one among others; for He is first of things originate, and one among intellectual natures; and as in things visible the sun is one among phenomena, and it shines upon the whole world according to the command of its Maker, so the Son, being one of the intellectual natures, also enlightens and shines upon all that are in the intellectual world.
And again he says, Once He was not, writing thus:— ‘And before the Son’s origination, the Father had pre-existing knowledge how to generate; since a physician too, before he cured, had the science of curing.’ And he says again: ‘The Son was created by God’s beneficent earnestness; and the Father made Him by the superabundance of His Power.’ And again: ‘If the will of God has pervaded all the works in succession, certainly the Son too, being a work, has at His will come to be and been made.’ Now though Asterius was the only person to write all this, Eusebius and his fellows felt the like in common with him.
- These are the doctrines for which they are contending; for these they assail the ancient Council, because its members did not propound the like, but anathematized the Arian heresy instead, which they were so eager to recommend. This was why they put forward, as an advocate of their irreligion, Asterius who sacrificed, a sophist too, that he might not spare to speak against the Lord, or by a show of reason to mislead the simple. And they were ignorant, the shallow men, that they were doing harm to their own cause. For the ill savour of their advocate’s idolatrous sacrifice betrayed still more plainly that the heresy is Christ’s foe. And now again, the general agitations and troubles which they are exciting, are in consequence of their belief, that by their numerous murders and their monthly Councils, at length they will undo the sentence which has been passed against the Arian heresy. But here too they seem ignorant, or to pretend ignorance, that even before Nicea that heresy was held in detestation, when Artemas was laying its foundations, and before him Caiaphas’s assembly and that of the Pharisees his contemporaries. And at all times is this gang of Christ’s foes detestable, and will not cease to be hateful, the Lord’s Name being full of love, and the whole creation bending the knee, and confessing ‘that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father?’ Philippians 2:11.
- Yet so it is, they have convened successive Councils against that Ecumenical One, and are not yet tired. After the Nicene, Eusebius and his fellows had been deposed; however, in course of time they intruded themselves without shame upon the Churches, and began to plot against the Bishops who withstood them, and to substitute in the Church men of their own heresy. Thus they thought to hold Councils at their pleasure, as having those who concurred with them, whom they had ordained on purpose for this very object. Accordingly, they assemble at Jerusalem, and there they write thus:—
The Holy Council assembled in Jerusalem by the grace of God, etc….their orthodox teaching in writing , which we all confessed to be sound and ecclesiastical. And he reasonably recommended that they should be received and united to the Church of God, as you will know yourselves from the transcript of the same Epistle, which we have transmitted to your reverences. We believe that yourselves also, as if recovering the very members of your own body, will experience great joy and gladness, in acknowledging and recovering your own bowels, your own brethren and fathers; since not only the Presbyters, Arius and his fellows, are given back to you, but also the whole Christian people and the entire multitude, which on occasion of the aforesaid men have a long time been in dissension among you. Moreover it were fitting, now that you know for certain what has passed, and that the men have communicated with us and have been received by so great a Holy Council, that you should with all readiness hail this your coalition and peace with your own members, specially since the articles of the faith which they have published preserve indisputable the universally confessed apostolic tradition and teaching.
- This was the beginning of their Councils, and in it they were speedy in divulging their views, and could not conceal them. For when they said that they had banished all jealousy, and, after the expulsion of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, recommended the reception of Arius and his friends, they showed that their measures against Athanasius himself then, and before against all the other Bishops who withstood them, had for their object their receiving Arius and his fellows, and introducing the heresy into the Church. But although they had approved in this Council all Arius’s malignity, and had ordered to receive his party into communion, as they had set the example, yet feeling that even now they were short of their wishes, they assembled a Council at Antioch under color of the so-called Dedication and, since they were in general and lasting odium for their heresy, they publish different letters, some of this sort, and some of that and what they wrote in one letter was as follows:—
We have not been followers of Arius — how could Bishops, such as we, follow a Presbyter? — nor did we receive any other faith beside that which has been handed down from the beginning. But, after taking on ourselves to examine and to verify his faith, we admitted him rather than followed him; as you will understand from our present avowals.
For we have been taught from the first, to believe in one God, the God of the Universe, the Framer and Preserver of all things both intellectual and sensible.
And in One Son of God, Only-begotten, who existed before all ages, and was with the Father who had begotten Him, by whom all things were made, both visible and invisible, who in the last days according to the good pleasure of the Father came down; and has taken flesh of the Virgin, and jointly fulfilled all His Father’s will, and suffered and risen again, and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father, and comes again to judge quick and dead, and remains King and God unto all ages.
And we believe also in the Holy Ghost; and if it be necessary to add, we believe concerning the resurrection of the flesh, and the life everlasting.
- Here follows what they published next at the same Dedication in another Epistle, being dissatisfied with the first, and devising something newer and fuller:
We believe , conformably to the evangelical and apostolic tradition, in One God, the Father Almighty, the Framer, and Maker, and Provider of the Universe, from whom are all things.
And in One Lord Jesus Christ, His Son, Only-begotten God John 1:18, by whom are all things, who was begotten before all ages from the Father, God from God, whole from whole, sole from sole , perfect from perfect, King from King, Lord from Lord, Living Word, Living Wisdom, true Light, Way, Truth, Resurrection, Shepherd, Door, both unalterable and unchangeable; exact Image of the Godhead, Essence, Will, Power and Glory of the Father; the first born of every creature, who was in the beginning with God, God the Word, as it is written in the Gospel, ‘and the Word was God?’ John 1:1; by whom all things were made, and in whom all things consist; who in the last days descended from above, and was born of a Virgin according to the Scriptures, and was made Man, Mediator between God and man, and Apostle of our faith, and Prince of life, as He says, ‘I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me’ John 6:38; who suffered for us and rose again on the third day, and ascended into heaven, and sat down on the right hand of the Father, and is coming again with glory and power, to judge quick and dead.
And in the Holy Ghost, who is given to those who believe for comfort, and sanctification, and initiation, as also our Lord Jesus Christ enjoined His disciples, saying, ‘Go, teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost’ Matthew 28:19; namely of a Father who is truly Father, and a Son who is truly Son, and of the Holy Ghost who is truly Holy Ghost, the names not being given without meaning or effect, but denoting accurately the peculiar subsistence, rank, and glory of each that is named, so that they are three in subsistence, and in agreement one.
Holding then this faith, and holding it in the presence of God and Christ, from beginning to end, we anathematize every heretical heterodoxy. And if any teaches, beside the sound and right faith of the Scriptures, that time, or season, or age , either is or has been before the generation of the Son, be he anathema. Or if any one says, that the Son is a creature as one of the creatures, or an offspring as one of the offsprings, or a work as one of the works, and not the aforesaid articles one after another, as the divine Scriptures have delivered, or if he teaches or preaches beside what we received, be he anathema. For all that has been delivered in the divine Scriptures, whether by Prophets or Apostles, do we truly and reverentially both believe and follow.
- And one Theophronius , Bishop of Tyana, put forth before them all the following statement of his personal faith. And they subscribed it, accepting the faith of this man:—
God knows, whom I call as a witness upon my soul, that so I believe:— in God the Father Almighty, the Creator and Maker of the Universe, from whom are all things.
And in His Only-begotten Son, Word, Power, and Wisdom, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things; who has been begotten from the Father before the ages, perfect God from perfect God , and was with God in subsistence, and in the last days descended, and was born of the Virgin according to the Scriptures, and was made man, and suffered, and rose again from the dead, and ascended into the heavens, and sat down on the right hand of His Father, and comes again with glory and power to judge quick and dead, and remains for ever:
And in the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, the Spirit of truth John 15:26, which also God promised by His Prophet to pour out Joel 2:28 upon His servants, and the Lord promised to send to His disciples: which also He sent, as the Acts of the Apostles witness.
But if any one teaches, or holds in his mind, anything beside this faith, be he anathema; or with Marcellus of Ancyra , or Sabellius, or Paul of Samosata, be he anathema, both himself and those who communicate with him.
- Ninety Bishops met at the Dedication under the Consulate of Marcellinus and Probinus, in the 14th of the Indiction , Constantius the most irreligious being present. Having thus conducted matters at Antioch at the Dedication, thinking that their composition was deficient still, and fluctuating moreover in their own opinions, again they draw up afresh another formulary, after a few months, professedly concerning the faith, and dispatch Narcissus, Maris, Theodorus, and Mark into Gaul. And they, as being sent from the Council, deliver the following document to Constans Augustus of blessed memory, and to all who were there:
We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Creator and Maker of all things; from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named. Ephesians 3:15
And in His Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who before all ages was begotten from the Father, God from God, Light from Light, by whom all things were made in the heavens and on the earth, visible and invisible, being Word, and Wisdom, and Power, and Life, and True Light; who in the last days was made man for us, and was born of the Holy Virgin; who was crucified, and dead, and buried, and rose again from the dead the third day, and was taken up into heaven, and sat down on the right hand of the Father; and is coming at the consummation of the age, to judge quick and dead, and to render to every one according to his works; whose Kingdom endures indissolubly into the infinite ages ; for He shall be seated on the right hand of the Father, not only in this age but in that which is to come.
And in the Holy Ghost, that is, the Paraclete; which, having promised to the Apostles, He sent forth after His ascension into heaven, to teach them and to remind of all things; through whom also shall be sanctified the souls of those who sincerely believe in Him.
But those who say, that the Son was from nothing, or from other subsistence and not from God, and, there was time when He was not, the Catholic Church regards as aliens.
- As if dissatisfied with this, they hold their meeting again after three years, and dispatch Eudoxius, Martyrius, and Macedonius of Cilicia , and some others with them, to the parts of Italy, to carry with them a faith written at great length, with numerous additions over and above those which have gone before. They went abroad with these, as if they had devised something new.
We believe in one God the Father Almighty, the Creator and Maker of all things, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named.
And in His Only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who before all ages was begotten from the Father, God from God, Light from Light, by whom all things were made, in heaven and on the earth, visible and invisible, being Word and Wisdom and Power and Life and True Light, who in the last days was made man for us, and was born of the Holy Virgin, crucified and dead and buried, and rose again from the dead the third day, and was taken up into heaven, and sat down on the right hand of the Father, and is coming at the consummation of the age to judge quick and dead, and to render to every one according to his works, whose Kingdom endures unceasingly unto the infinite ages; for He sits on the right hand of the Father not only in this age, but also in that which is to come.
And we believe in the Holy Ghost, that is, the Paraclete, which, having promised to the Apostles, He sent forth after the ascension into heaven, to teach them and to remind of all things: through whom also shall be sanctified the souls of those who sincerely believe in Him.
But those who say, (1) that the Son was from nothing, or from other subsistence and not from God; (2) and that there was a time or age when He was not, the Catholic and Holy Church regards as aliens. Likewise those who say, (3) that there are three Gods: (4) or that Christ is not God; (5) or that before the ages He was neither Christ nor Son of God; (6) or that Father and Son, or Holy Ghost, are the same; (7) or that the Son is Ingenerate; or that the Father begot the Son, not by choice or will; the Holy and Catholic Church anathematizes.
(1.) For neither is safe to say that the Son is from nothing, (since this is no where spoken of Him in divinely inspired Scripture,) nor again of any other subsistence before existing beside the Father, but from God alone do we define Him genuinely to be generated. For the divine Word teaches that the Ingenerate and Unbegun, the Father of Christ, is One.
(2.) Nor may we, adopting the hazardous position, ‘There was once when He was not,’ from unscriptural sources, imagine any interval of time before Him, but only the God who has generated Him apart from time; for through Him both times and ages came to be. Yet we must not consider the Son to be co-unbegun and co-ingenerate with the Father; for no one can be properly called Father or Son of one who is co-unbegun and co-ingenerate with Him. But we acknowledge that the Father who alone is Unbegun and Ingenerate, has generated inconceivably and incomprehensibly to all: and that the Son has been generated before ages, and in no wise to be ingenerate Himself like the Father, but to have the Father who generated Him as His beginning; for ‘the Head of Christ is God.’ 1 Corinthians 11:3
(3.) Nor again, in confessing three realities and three Persons, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost according to the Scriptures, do we therefore make Gods three; since we acknowledge the Self-complete and Ingenerate and Unbegun and Invisible God to be one only , the God and Father John 20:17 of the Only-begotten, who alone has being from Himself, and alone vouchsafes this to all others bountifully.
(4.) Nor again, in saying that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is one only God, the only Ingenerate, do we therefore deny that Christ also is God before ages: as the disciples of Paul of Samosata, who say that after the incarnation He was by advance made God, from being made by nature a mere man. For we acknowledge, that though He be subordinate to His Father and God, yet, being before ages begotten of God, He is God perfect according to nature and true , and not first man and then God, but first God and then becoming man for us, and never having been deprived of being.
(5.) We abhor besides, and anathematize those who make a pretence of saying that He is but the mere word of God and unexisting, having His being in another — now as if pronounced, as some speak, now as mental — holding that He was not Christ or Son of God or mediator or image of God before ages; but that He first became Christ and Son of God, when He took our flesh from the Virgin, not quite four hundred years since. For they will have it that then Christ began His Kingdom, and that it will have an end after the consummation of all and the judgment. Such are the disciples of Marcellus and Scotinus of Galatian Ancyra, who, equally with Jews, negative Christ’s existence before ages, and His Godhead, and unending Kingdom, upon pretence of supporting the divine Monarchy. We, on the contrary, regard Him not as simply God’s pronounced word or mental, but as Living God and Word, existing in Himself, and Son of God and Christ; being and abiding with His Father before ages, and that not in foreknowledge only , and ministering to Him for the whole framing whether of things visible or invisible. For He it is, to whom the Father said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness ‘ Genesis 1:26, who also was seen in His own Person by the patriarchs, gave the law, spoke by the prophets, and at last, became man, and manifested His own Father to all men, and reigns to never-ending ages. For Christ has taken no recent dignity, but we have believed Him to be perfect from the first, and like in all things to the Father.
(6.) And those who say that the Father and Son and Holy Ghost are the same, and irreligiously take the Three Names of one and the same Reality and Person, we justly proscribe from the Church, because they suppose the illimitable and impassible Father to be limitable withal and passible through His becoming man: for such are they whom Romans call Patripassians, and we Sabellians. For we acknowledge that the Father who sent, remained in the peculiar state of His unchangeable Godhead, and that Christ who was sent fulfilled the economy of the Incarnation.
(7.) And at the same time those who irreverently say that the Son has been generated not by choice or will, thus encompassing God with a necessity which excludes choice and purpose, so that He begot the Son unwillingly, we account as most irreligious and alien to the Church; in that they have dared to define such things concerning God, beside the common notions concerning Him, nay, beside the purport of divinely inspired Scripture. For we, knowing that God is absolute and sovereign over Himself, have a religious judgment that He generated the Son voluntarily and freely; yet, as we have a reverent belief in the Son’s words concerning Himself Proverbs 8:22, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways for His works,’ we do not understand Him to have been originated like the creatures or works which through Him came to be. For it is irreligious and alien to the ecclesiastical faith, to compare the Creator with handiworks created by Him, and to think that He has the same manner of origination with the rest. For divine Scripture teaches us really and truly that the Only-begotten Son was generated sole and solely. Yet , in saying that the Son is in Himself, and both lives and exists like the Father, we do not on that account separate Him from the Father, imagining place and interval between their union in the way of bodies. For we believe that they are united with each other without mediation or distance , and that they exist inseparable; all the Father embosoming the Son, and all the Son hanging and adhering to the Father, and alone resting on the Father’s breast continually. Believing then in the All-perfect Triad, the most Holy, that is, in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and calling the Father God, and the Son God, yet we confess in them, not two Gods, but one dignity of Godhead, and one exact harmony of dominion, the Father alone being Head over the whole universe wholly, and over the Son Himself, and the Son subordinated to the Father; but, excepting Him, ruling over all things after Him which through Himself have come to be, and granting the grace of the Holy Ghost unsparingly to the saints at the Father’s will. For that such is the account of the Divine Monarchy towards Christ, the sacred oracles have delivered to us.
Thus much, in addition to the faith before published in epitome, we have been compelled to draw forth at length, not in any officious display, but to clear away all unjust suspicion concerning our opinions, among those who are ignorant of our affairs: and that all in the West may know, both the audacity of the slanders of the heterodox, and as to the Orientals, their ecclesiastical mind in the Lord, to which the divinely inspired Scriptures bear witness without violence, where men are not perverse.
- However they did not stand even to this; for again at Sirmium they met together against Photinus and there composed a faith again, not drawn out into such length, not so full in words; but subtracting the greater part and adding in its place, as if they had listened to the suggestions of others, they wrote as follows:—
We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, the Creator and Maker of all things, ‘from whom all fatherhood in heaven and earth is named Ephesians 3:15 ‘
And in His Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus the Christ, who before all the ages was begotten from the Father, God from God, Light from Light, by whom all things were made, in heaven and on the earth, visible and invisible, being Word and Wisdom and True Light and Life, who in the last of days was made man for us, and was born of the Holy Virgin, and crucified and dead and buried, and rose again from the dead the third day, and was taken up into heaven, and sat down on the right hand of the Father, and is coming at the consummation of the age, to judge quick and dead, and to render to every one according to his works; whose Kingdom being unceasing endures unto the infinite ages; for He shall sit on the right hand of the Father, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come.
And in the Holy Ghost, that is, the Paraclete; which, having promised to the Apostles to send forth after His ascension into heaven, to teach and to remind them of all things, He did send; through whom also are sanctified the souls of those who sincerely believe in Him.
(1.) But those who say that the Son was from nothing or from other subsistence and not from God, and that there was time or age when He was not, the Holy and Catholic Church regards as aliens.
(2.) Again we say, Whosoever says that the Father and the Son are two Gods, be he anathema.
(3.) And whosoever, saying that Christ is God, before ages Son of God, does not confess that He has subserved the Father for the framing of the universe, be he anathema.
(4.) Whosoever presumes to say that the Ingenerate, or a part of Him, was born of Mary, be he anathema.
(5.) Whosoever says that according to foreknowledge the Son is before Mary and not that, generated from the Father before ages, He was with God, and that through Him all things were originated, be he anathema.
(6.) Whosoever shall pretend that the essence of God is dilated or contracted , be he anathema.
(7.) Whosoever shall say that the essence of God being dilated made the Son, or shall name the dilation of His essence Son, be he anathema.
(8.) Whosoever calls the Son of God the mental or pronounced Word , be he anathema.
(9.) Whosoever says that the Son from Mary is man only, be he anathema.
(10.) Whosoever, speaking of Him who is from Mary God and man, thereby means God the Ingenerate , be he anathema.
(11.) Whosoever shall explain ‘I God the First and I the Last, and besides Me there is no God,’ Isaiah 44:6, which is said for the denial of idols and of gods that are not, to the denial of the Only-begotten, before ages God, as Jews do, be he anathema.
(12.) Whosoever hearing ‘The Word was made flesh,’ John 1:14, shall consider that the Word has changed into flesh, or shall say that He has undergone alteration by taking flesh, be he anathema.
(13.) Whosoever hearing the Only-begotten Son of God to have been crucified, shall say that His Godhead has undergone corruption, or passion. or alteration, or diminution, or destruction, be he anathema.
(14.) Whosoever shall say that ‘Let Us make man’ Genesis 1:26, was not said by the Father to the Son, but by God to Himself, be he anathema.
(15.) Whosoever shall say that Abraham saw, not the Son, but the Ingenerate God or part of Him, be he anathema.
(16.) Whosoever shall say that with Jacob, not the Son as man, but the Ingenerate God or part of Him, has wrestled, be he anathema.
(17.) Whosoever shall explain, ‘The Lord rained fire from the Lord?’ Genesis 19:24, not of the Father and the Son, and says that He rained from Himself, be he anathema. For the Son, being Lord, rained from the Father Who is Lord.
(18.) Whosoever, hearing that the Father is Lord and the Son Lord and the Father and Son Lord, for there is Lord from Lord, says there are two Gods, be he anathema. For we do not place the Son in the Father’s Order, but as subordinate to the Father; for He did not descend upon Sodom without the Father’s will, nor did He rain from Himself, but from the Lord, that is, the Father authorising it. Nor is He of Himself set down on the right hand, but He hears the Father saying, ‘Sit on My right hand’ Psalm 110:1.
(19.) Whosoever says that the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are one Person, be he anathema.
(20.) Whosoever, speaking of the Holy Ghost as Paraclete, shall mean the Ingenerate God, be he anathema.
(21.) Whosoever shall deny, what the Lord taught us, that the Paraclete is other than the Son, for He has said, ‘And another Paraclete shall the Father send to you, whom I will ask,’ John 14:16 be he anathema.
(22.) Whosoever shall say that the Holy Ghost is part of the Father or of the Son be he anathema.
(23.) Whosoever shall say that the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are three Gods, be he anathema.
(24.) Whosoever shall say that the Son of God at the will of God has come to be, as one of the works, be he anathema.
(25.) Whosoever shall say that the Son has been generated, the Father not wishing it , be he anathema. For not by compulsion, led by physical necessity, did the Father, as He wished not, generate the Son, but He at once willed, and, after generating Him from Himself apart from time and passion, manifested Him.
(26.) Whosoever shall say that the Son is without beginning and ingenerate, as if speaking of two unbegun and two ingenerate, and making two Gods, be he anathema. For the Son is the Head, namely the beginning of all: and God is the Head, namely the beginning of Christ; for thus to one unbegun beginning of the universe do we religiously refer all things through the Son.
(27.) And in accurate delineation of the idea of Christianity we say this again; Whosoever shall not say that Christ is God, Son of God, as being before ages, and having subserved the Father in the framing of the Universe, but that from the time that He was born of Mary, from thence He was called Christ and Son, and took an origin of being God, be he anathema.
- Casting aside the whole of this, as if they had discovered something better, they propound another faith, and write at Sirmium in Latin what is here translated into Greek.
Whereas it seemed good that there should be some discussion concerning faith, all points were carefully investigated and discussed at Sirmium in the presence of Valens, and Ursacius, and Germinius, and the rest.
It is held for certain that there is one God, the Father Almighty, as also is preached in all the world.
And His One Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, generated from Him before the ages; and that we may not speak of two Gods, since the Lord Himself has said, ‘I go to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God?’ John 20:17. On this account He is God of all, as also the Apostle taught: ‘Is He God of the Jews only, is He not also of the Gentiles? Yea of the Gentiles also: since there is one God who shall justify the circumcision from faith, and the uncircumcision through faith’ Romans 3:29-30; and every thing else agrees, and has no ambiguity.
But since many persons are disturbed by questions concerning what is called in Latin ‘Substantia,’ but in Greek ‘Usia,’ that is, to make it understood more exactly, as to ‘Coessential,’ or what is called, ‘Like-in-Essence,’ there ought to be no mention of any of these at all, nor exposition of them in the Church, for this reason and for this consideration, that in divine Scripture nothing is written about them, and that they are above men’s knowledge and above men’s understanding; and because no one can declare the Son’s generation, as it is written, ‘Who shall declare His generation’ Isaiah 53:8? For it is plain that the Father only knows how He generated the Son, and again the Son how He has been generated by the Father. And to none can it be a question that the Father is greater: for no one can doubt that the Father is greater in honour and dignity and Godhead, and in the very name of Father, the Son Himself testifying, ‘The Father that sent Me is greater than I’ John 10:29; 14:28. And no one is ignorant, that it is Catholic doctrine, that there are two Persons of Father and Son, and that the Father is greater, and the Son subordinated to the Father together with all things which the Father has subordinated to Him, and that the Father has no beginning, and is invisible, and immortal, and impassible; but that the Son has been generated from the Father, God from God, Light from Light, and that His origin, as aforesaid, no one knows, but the Father only. And that the Son Himself and our Lord and God, took flesh, that is, a body, that is, man, from Mary the Virgin, as the Angel preached beforehand; and as all the Scriptures teach, and especially the Apostle himself, the doctor of the Gentiles, Christ took man of Mary the Virgin, through which He has suffered. And the whole faith is summed up , and secured in this, that a Trinity should ever be preserved, as we read in the Gospel, ‘Go and baptize all the nations in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost’ Matthew 28:19. And entire and perfect is the number of the Trinity; but the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, sent forth through the Son, came according to the promise, that He might teach and sanctify the Apostles and all believers.
- After drawing up this, and then becoming dissatisfied, they composed the faith which to their shame they paraded with ‘the Consulate.’ And, as is their wont, condemning this also, they caused Martinian the notary to seize it from the parties who had the copies of it. And having got the Emperor Constantius to put forth an edict against it, they form another dogma afresh, and with the addition of certain expressions, according to their wont, they write thus in Isauria.
We decline not to bring forward the authentic faith published at the Dedication at Antioch ; though certainly our fathers at the time met together for a particular subject under investigation. But since ‘Coessential’ and ‘Like-in-essence,’ have troubled many persons in times past and up to this day, and since moreover some are said recently to have devised the Son’s ‘Unlikeness’ to the Father, on their account we reject ‘Coessential’ and ‘Like-in-essence,’ as alien to the Scriptures, but ‘Unlike’ we anathematize, and account all who profess it as aliens from the Church. And we distinctly confess the ‘Likeness’ of the Son to the Father, according to the Apostle, who says of the Son, ‘Who is the Image of the Invisible God?’ Colossians 1:15.
And we confess and believe in one God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
And we believe also in our Lord Jesus Christ, His Son, generated from Him impassibly before all the ages, God the Word, God from God, Only-begotten, light, life, truth, wisdom, power, through whom all things were made, in the heavens and on the earth, whether visible or invisible. He, as we believe, at the end of the world, for the abolishment of sin, took flesh of the Holy Virgin, and was made man, and suffered for our sins, and rose again, and was taken up into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father, and is coming again in glory, to judge quick and dead.
We believe also in the Holy Ghost, which our Saviour and Lord named Paraclete, having promised to send Him to the disciples after His own departure, as He did send; through whom He sanctifies those in the Church who believe, and are baptized in the Name of Father and Son and Holy Ghost.
But those who preach anything beside this faith the Catholic Church regards as aliens. And that to this faith that is equivalent which was published lately at Sirmium, under sanction of his religiousness the Emperor, is plain to all who read it.
- Having written thus in Isauria, they went up to Constantinople , and there, as if dissatisfied, they changed it, as is their wont, and with some small additions against using even ‘Subsistence’ of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, they transmitted it to those at Ariminum, and compelled even those in the said parts to subscribe, and those who contradicted them they got banished by Constantius. And it runs thus:—
We believe in One God, Father Almighty, from whom are all things;
And in the Only-begotten Son of God, begotten from God before all ages and before every beginning, by whom all things were made, visible and invisible, and begotten as only-begotten, only from the Father only , God from God, like to the Father that begot Him according to the Scriptures; whose origin no one knows, except the Father alone who begot Him. He as we acknowledge, the Only-begotten Son of God, the Father sending Him, came hither from the heavens, as it is written, for the undoing of sin and death, and was born of the Holy Ghost, of Mary the Virgin according to the flesh, as it is written, and convened with the disciples, and having fulfilled the whole Economy according to the Father’s will, was crucified and dead and buried and descended to the parts below the earth; at whom hades itself shuddered: who also rose from the dead on the third day, and abode with the disciples, and, forty days being fulfilled, was taken up into the heavens, and sits on the right hand of the Father, to come in the last day of the resurrection in the Father’s glory, that He may render to every man according to his works.
And in the Holy Ghost, whom the Only-begotten Son of God Himself, Christ, our Lord and God, promised to send to the race of man, as Paraclete, as it is written, ‘the Spirit of truth’ John 16:13, which He sent unto them when He had ascended into the heavens.
But the name of ‘Essence,’ which was set down by the Fathers in simplicity, and, being unknown by the people, caused offense, because the Scriptures contain it not, it has seemed good to abolish, and for the future to make no mention of it at all; since the divine Scriptures have made no mention of the Essence of Father and Son. For neither ought Subsistence to be named concerning Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. But, we say that the Son is Like the Father, as the divine Scriptures say and teach; and all the heresies, both those which have been afore condemned already, and whatever are of modern date, being contrary to this published statement, be they anathema.
- However, they did not stand even to this: for coming down from Constantinople to Antioch, they were dissatisfied that they had written at all that the Son was ‘Like the Father, as the Scriptures say;’ and putting their ideas upon paper , they began reverting to their first doctrines, and said that ‘the Son is altogether unlike the Father,’ and that the ‘Son is in no manner like the Father,’ and so much did they change, as to admit those who spoke the Arian doctrine nakedly and to deliver to them the Churches with licence to bring forward the words of blasphemy with impunity. Because then of the extreme shamelessness of their blasphemy they were called by all Anomœans, having also the name of Exucontian , and the heretical Constantius for the patron of their irreligion, who persisting up to the end in irreligion, and on the point of death, thought good to be baptized ; not however by religious men, but by Euzoius , who for his Arianism had been deposed, not once, but often, both when he was a deacon, and when he was in the see of Antioch.
- The forementioned parties then had proceeded thus far, when they were stopped and deposed. But well I know, not even under these circumstances will they stop, as many as have now dissembled, but they will always be making parties against the truth, until they return to themselves and say, ‘Let us rise and go to our fathers, and we will say unto them, We anathematize the Arian heresy, and we acknowledge the Nicene Council;’ for against this is their quarrel. Who then, with ever so little understanding, will bear them any longer? Who, on hearing in every Council some things taken away and others added, but perceives that their mind is shifty and treacherous against Christ? Who on seeing them embodying to so great a length both their professions of faith, and their own exculpation, but sees that they are giving sentence against themselves, and studiously writing much which may be likely by their officious display and abundance of words to seduce the simple and hide what they are in point of heresy? But as the heathen, as the Lord said, using vain words in their prayers Matthew 6:7, are nothing profited; so they too, after all this outpouring, were not able to quench the judgment pronounced against the Arian heresy, but were convicted and deposed instead; and rightly; for which of their formularies is to be accepted by the hearer? Or with what confidence shall they be catechists to those who come to them? For if they all have one and the same meaning, what is the need of many? But if need has arisen of so many, it follows that each by itself is deficient, not complete; and they establish this point better than we can, by their innovating on them all and remaking them. And the number of their Councils, and the difference of their statements is a proof that those who were present at them, while at variance with the Nicene, are yet too feeble to harm the Truth.
Part 3. On the Symbols ‘Of the Essence’ And ‘Coessential.’
We must look at the sense not the wording. The offense excited is at the sense; meaning of the Symbols; the question of their not being in Scripture. Those who hesitate only at ‘coessential,’ not to be considered Arians. Reasons why ‘coessential’ is better than ‘like-in-essence,’ yet the latter may be interpreted in a good sense. Explanation of the rejection of ‘coessential’ by the Council which condemned the Samosatene; use of the word by Dionysius of Alexandria; parallel variation in the use of Unoriginate; quotation from Ignatius and another; reasons for using ‘coessential;’ objections to it; examination of the word itself; further documents of the Council of Ariminum.
- But since they are thus minded both towards each other and towards those who preceded them, proceed we to ascertain from them what absurdity they have seen, or what they complain of in the received phrases, that they have proved ‘disobedient to parents’ Romans 1:30, and contend against an Ecumenical Council ? ‘The phrases of the essence and coessential,‘ say they, ‘do not please us, for they are an offense to some and a trouble to many.’ This then is what they allege in their writings; but one may reasonably answer them thus: If the very words were by themselves a cause of offense to them, it must have followed, not that some only should have been offended, and many troubled, but that we also and all the rest should have been affected by them in the same way; but if on the contrary all men are well content with the words, and they who wrote them were no ordinary persons but men who came together from the whole world, and to these testify in addition the 400 Bishops and more who now met at Ariminum, does not this plainly prove against those who accuse the Council, that the terms are not in fault, but the perverseness of those who misinterpret them? How many men read divine Scripture wrongly, and as thus conceiving it, find fault with the Saints? Such were the former Jews, who rejected the Lord, and the present Manichees who blaspheme the Law ; yet are not the Scriptures the cause to them, but their own evil humours. If then you can show the terms to be actually unsound, do so and let the proof proceed, and drop the pretence of offense created, lest you come into the condition of the Pharisees of old. For when they pretended offense at the Lord’s teaching, He said, ‘Every plant, which My heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up’ Matthew 15:13. By which He showed that not the words of the Father planted by Him were really an offense to them, but that they misinterpreted what was well said, and offended themselves. And in like manner they who at that time blamed the Epistles of the Apostle, impeached, not Paul, but their own deficient learning and distorted minds.
- For answer, what is much to the purpose, Who are they whom you pretend are offended and troubled at these terms? Of those who are religious towards Christ not one; on the contrary they defend and maintain them. But if they are Arians who thus feel, what wonder they should be distressed at words which destroy their heresy? For it is not the terms which offend them, but the proscription of their irreligion which afflicts them. Therefore let us have no more murmuring against the Fathers, nor pretence of this kind; or next you will be making complaints of the Lord’s Cross, because it is ‘to Jews an offense and to Gentiles foolishness,’ as said the Apostle 1 Corinthians 1:23-24. But as the Cross is not faulty, for to us who believe it is ‘Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God,’ though Jews rave, so neither are the terms of the Fathers faulty, but profitable to those who honestly read, and subversive of all irreligion, though the Arians so often burst with rage as being condemned by them. Since then the pretence that persons are offended does not hold, tell us yourselves, why is it you are not pleased with the phrase ‘of the essence’ (this must first be enquired about), when you yourselves have written that the Son is generated from the Father? If when you name the Father, or use the word ‘God,’ you do not signify essence, or understand Him according to essence, who is that He is, but signify something else about Him , not to say inferior, then you should not have written that the Son was from the Father, but from what is about Him or in Him ; and so, shrinking from saying that God is truly Father, and making Him compound who is simple, in a material way, you will be authors of a newer blasphemy. And, with such ideas, you must needs consider the Word, and the title ‘Son,’ not as an essence but as a name only, and in consequence hold your own views as far as names only, and be talking, not of what you believe to exist, but of what you think not to exist.
- But this is more like the crime of the Sadducees, and of those among the Greeks who had the name of Atheists. It follows that you will deny that even creation is the handy-work of God Himself that is; at least, if ‘Father’ and ‘God’ do not signify the very essence of Him that is, but something else, which you imagine: which is irreligious, and most shocking even to think of. But if, when we hear it said, ‘I am that I am,’ and, ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,’ and, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord,’ and, ‘Thus says the Lord Almighty’ Exodus 3:14; Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 6:4, we understand nothing else than the very simple, and blessed, and incomprehensible essence itself of Him that is, (for though we be unable to master what He is, yet hearing ‘Father,’ and ‘God,’ and ‘Almighty,’ we understand nothing else to be meant than the very essence of Him that is ); and if you too have said, that the Son is from God, it follows that you have said that He is from the ‘essence’ of the Father. And since the Scriptures precede you which say, that the Lord is Son of the Father, and the Father Himself precedes them, who says, ‘This is My beloved Son?’ Matthew 3:17, and a son is no other than the offspring from his father, is it not evident that the Fathers have suitably said that the Son is from the Father’s essence? Considering that it is all one to say rightly ‘from God,’ and to say ‘from the essence.’ For all the creatures, though they be said to have come into being from God, yet are not from God as the Son is; for they are not offsprings in their nature, but works. Thus, it is said, ‘in the beginning God,’ not ‘generated,’ but ‘made the heaven and the earth, and all that is in them’ Genesis 1:1. And not, ‘who generates,’ but ‘who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire’ Psalm 104:4. And though the Apostle has said, ‘One God, from whom all things’ 1 Corinthians 8:6, yet he says not this, as reckoning the Son with other things; but, whereas some of the Greeks consider that the creation was held together by chance, and from the combination of atoms ; and spontaneously from elements of similar structure , and has no cause; and others consider that it came from a cause, but not through the Word; and each heretic has imagined things at his will, and tells his fables about the creation; on this account the Apostle was obliged to introduce ‘from God,’ that he might thereby certify the Maker, and show that the universe was framed at His will. And accordingly he straightway proceeds: ‘And one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things’ 1 Corinthians 8:6, by way of excepting the Son from that ‘all’ (for what is called God’s work, is all done through the Son; and it is not possible that the things framed should have one origin with their Framer), and by way of teaching that the phrase ‘of God,’ which occurs in the passage, has a different sense in the case of the works, from what it bears when used of the Son; for He is offspring, and they are works: and therefore He, the Son, is the proper offspring of His essence, but they are the handywork of his will.
- The Council, then, comprehending this , and aware of the different senses of the same word, that none should suppose, that the Son was said to be ‘from God?’ like the creation, wrote with greater explicitness, that the Son was ‘from the essence.’ For this betokens the true genuineness of the Son towards the Father; whereas, by the simple phrase ‘from God,’ only the Creator’s will in framing is signified. If then they too had this meaning, when they wrote that the Word was ‘from the Father,’ they had nothing to complain of in the Council; but if they meant ‘of God,’ in the instance of the Son, as it is used of the creation, then as understanding it of the creation, they should not name the Son, or they will be manifestly mingling blasphemy with religiousness; but either they have to cease reckoning the Lord with the creatures, or at least to refrain from unworthy and unbecoming statements about the Son. For if He is a Son, He is not a creature; but if a creature, then not a Son. Since these are their views, perhaps they will be denying the Holy Laver also, because it is administered into Father and into Son and not into Creator and Creature, as they account it. ‘But,’ they say, ‘all this is not written: and we reject these words as unscriptural.’ But this, again, is an unblushing excuse in their mouths. For if they think everything must be rejected which is not written, wherefore, when the Arian party invent such a heap of phrases, not from Scripture , ‘Out of nothing,’ and ‘the Son was not before His generation,’ and ‘Once He was not,’ and ‘He is alterable,’ and ‘the Father is ineffable and invisible to the Son,’ and ‘the Son knows not even His own essence;’ and all that Arius has vomited in his light and irreligious Thalia, why do not they speak against these, but rather take their part, and on that account contend with their own Fathers? And, in what Scripture did they on their part find ‘Unoriginate,’ and ‘the term essence,’ and ‘there are three subsistences,’ and ‘Christ is not very God,’ and ‘He is one of the hundred sheep,’ and ‘God’s Wisdom is ingenerate and without beginning, but the created powers are many, of which Christ is one?’ Or how, when in the so-called Dedication, Acacius and Eusebius and their fellows used expressions not in Scripture, and said that ‘the First-born of the creation’ was ‘the exact Image of the essence and power and will and glory,’ do they complain of the Fathers, for making mention of unscriptural expressions, and especially of essence? For they ought either to complain of themselves, or to find no fault with the Fathers.
- Now, if certain others made excuses of the expressions of the Council, it might perhaps have been set down, either to ignorance or to caution. There is no question, for instance, about George of Cappadocia , who was expelled from Alexandria; a man, without character in years past, nor a Christian in any respect; but only pretending to the name to suit the times, and thinking ‘religion to be a’ means of ‘gain’ 1 Timothy 6:5. And therefore there is no reason to complain of his making mistakes about the faith, considering he knows neither what he says, nor whereof he affirms; but, according to the text, ‘goes after all, as a bird’ 1 Timothy 1:7; Proverbs 7:22-23, not Septuagint? But when Acacius, and Eudoxius, and Patrophilus say this, do not they deserve the strongest reprobation? For while they write what is unscriptural themselves, and have accepted many times the term ‘essence’ as suitable, especially on the ground of the letter of Eusebius, they now blame their predecessors for using terms of the same kind. Nay, though they say themselves, that the Son is ‘God from God,’ and ‘Living Word,’ ‘Exact Image of the Father’s essence;’ they accuse the Nicene Bishops of saying, that He who was begotten is ‘of the essence’ of Him who begot Him, and ‘Coessential’ with Him. But what marvel if they conflict with their predecessors and their own Fathers, when they are inconsistent with themselves, and fall foul of each other? For after publishing, in the so-called Dedication at Antioch, that the Son is exact Image of the Father’s essence, and swearing that so they held and anathematizing those who held otherwise, nay, in Isauria, writing down, ‘We do not decline the authentic faith published in the Dedication at Antioch ,’ where the term ‘essence’ was introduced, as if forgetting all this, shortly after, in the same Isauria, they put into writing the very contrary, saying, We reject the words ‘coessential,’ and ‘like-in-essence,’ as alien to the Scriptures, and abolish the term ‘essence,’ as not contained therein.
- Can we then any more account such men Christians? Or what sort of faith have they who stand neither to word nor writing, but alter and change every thing according to the times? For if, O Acacius and Eudoxius, you ‘do not decline the faith published at the Dedication,’ and in it is written that the Son is ‘Exact Image of God’s essence,’ why is it you write in Isauria, ‘we reject the Like in essence?’ for if the Son is not like the Father according to essence, how is He ‘exact image of the essence?’ But if you are dissatisfied at having written ‘Exact Image of the essence,’ how is it that you ‘anathematize those who say that the Son is Unlike?’ for if He be not according to essence like, He is surely unlike: and the Unlike cannot be an Image. And if so, then it does not hold that ‘he that has seen the Son, has seen the Father?’ John 14:9, there being then the greatest possible difference between Them, or rather the One being wholly Unlike the Other. And Unlike cannot possibly be called Like. By what artifice then do you call Unlike like, and consider Like to be unlike, and pretend to say that the Son is the Father’s Image? For if the Son be not like the Father in essence, something is wanting to the Image, and it is not a complete Image, nor a perfect radiance. How then read you, ‘In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily?’ and, ‘from His fullness all we received’ Colossians 2:9; John 1:16? How is it that you expel the Arian Aetius as an heretic, though you say the same with him? For he is your companion, O Acacius, and he became Eudoxius’s master in this so great irreligion ; which was the reason why Leontius the Bishop made him deacon, that using the name of the diaconate as sheep’s clothing, he might be able with impunity to pour forth the words of blasphemy.
- What then has persuaded you to contradict each other, and to procure to yourselves so great a disgrace? You cannot give any good account of it; this supposition only remains, that all you do is but outward profession and pretence, to secure the patronage of Constantius and the gain from thence accruing. And you make nothing of accusing the Fathers, and you complain outright of the expressions as being unscriptural; and, as it is written, ‘opened your legs to every one that passed by’ Ezekiel 16:25; so as to change as often as they wish, in whose pay and keep you are. Yet, though a man use terms not in Scripture, it makes no difference so that his meaning be religious. But the heretic, though he use scriptural terms, yet, as being equally dangerous and depraved, shall be asked in the words of the Spirit, ‘Why do you preach My laws, and take My covenant in your mouth’ Psalm 50:16? Thus whereas the devil, though speaking from the Scriptures, is silenced by the Saviour, the blessed Paul, though he speaks from profane writers, ‘The Cretans are always liars,’ and, ‘For we are His offspring,’ and, ‘Evil communications corrupt good manners,’ yet has a religious meaning, as being holy — is ‘doctor of the nations, in faith and verity,’ as having ‘the mind of Christ?’ Titus 1:12; Acts 17:28; 1 Corinthians 15:33; 1 Timothy 2:7; 1 Corinthians 2:16, and what he speaks, he utters religiously. What then is there even plausible, in the Arian terms, in which the ‘caterpillar’ Joel 2:25 and the ‘locust’ are preferred to the Saviour, and He is reviled with ‘Once You were not,’ and ‘You were created,’ and ‘You are foreign to God in essence,’ and, in a word, no irreverence is unused among them? But what did the Fathers omit in the way of reverence? Or rather, have they not a lofty view and a Christ-loving religiousness? And yet these, they wrote, ‘We reject;’ while those others they endure in their insults towards the Lord, and betray to all men, that for no other cause do they resist that great Council but that it condemned the Arian heresy. For it is on this account again that they speak against the term Coessential, about which they also entertain wrong sentiments. For if their faith was right, and they confessed the Father as truly Father, believed the Son to be genuine Son, and by nature true Word and Wisdom of the Father, and as to saying that the Son is ‘from God,’ if they did not use the words of Him, as of themselves, but understood Him to be the proper offspring of the Father’s essence, as the radiance is from light, they would not every one of them have found fault with the Fathers; but would have been confident that the Council wrote suitably; and that this is the right faith concerning our Lord Jesus Christ.
- ‘But,’ say they, ‘the sense of such expressions is obscure to us;’ for this is another of their pretences, — ‘We reject them ,’ say they, ‘because we cannot master their meaning.’ But if they were true in this profession, instead of saying, ‘We reject them,’ they should ask instruction from the well informed; else ought they to reject whatever they cannot understand in divine Scripture, and to find fault with the writers. But this were the venture of heretics rather than of us Christians; for what we do not understand in the sacred oracles, instead of rejecting, we seek from persons to whom the Lord has revealed it, and from them we ask for instruction. But since they thus make a pretence of the obscurity of such expressions, let them at least confess what is annexed to the Creed, and anathematize those who hold that ‘the Son is from nothing,’ and ‘He was not before His generation,’ and ‘the Word of God is a creature and work,’ and ‘He is alterable by nature,’ and ‘from another subsistence;’ and in a word let them anathematize the Arian heresy, which has originated such irreligion. Nor let them say any more, ‘We reject the terms,’ but that ‘we do not yet understand them;’ by way of having some reason to show for declining them. But I know well, and am sure, and they know it too, that if they could confess all this and anathematize the Arian heresy, they would no longer deny those terms of the Council. For on this account it was that the Fathers, after declaring that the Son was begotten from the Father’s essence, and Co-essential with Him, thereupon added, ‘But those who say’— what has just been quoted, the symbols of the Arian heresy —’we anathematize;’ I mean, in order to show that the statements are parallel, and that the terms in the Creed imply the disclaimers subjoined, and that all who confess the terms, will certainly understand the disclaimers. But those who both dissent from the latter and impugn the former, such men are proved on every side to be foes of Christ.
- Those who deny the Council altogether, are sufficiently exposed by these brief remarks; those, however, who accept everything else that was defined at Nicæa, and doubt only about the Coessential, must not be treated as enemies; nor do we here attack them as Ario-maniacs, nor as opponents of the Fathers, but we discuss the matter with them as brothers with brothers , who mean what we mean, and dispute only about the word. For, confessing that the Son is from the essence of the Father, and not from other subsistence, and that He is not a creature nor work, but His genuine and natural offspring, and that He is eternally with the Father as being His Word and Wisdom, they are not far from accepting even the phrase, ‘Coessential.’ Now such is Basil, who wrote from Ancyra concerning the faith. For only to say ‘like according to essence,’ is very far from signifying ‘of the essence,’ by which, rather, as they say themselves, the genuineness of the Son to the Father is signified. Thus tin is only like to silver, a wolf to a dog, and gilt brass to the true metal; but tin is not from silver, nor could a wolf be accounted the offspring of a dog. But since they say that He is ‘of the essence’ and ‘Like-in-essence,’ what do they signify by these but ‘Coessential ?’ For, while to say only ‘Like-in-essence,’ does not necessarily convey ‘of the essence,’ on the contrary, to say ‘Coessential,’ is to signify the meaning of both terms, ‘Like-in-essence,’ and ‘of the essence.’ And accordingly they themselves in controversy with those who say that the Word is a creature, instead of allowing Him to be genuine Son, have taken their proofs against them from human illustrations of son and father , with this exception that God is not as man, nor the generation of the Son as issue of man, but such as may be ascribed to God, and is fit for us to think. Thus they have called the Father the Fount of Wisdom and Life, and the Son the Radiance of the Eternal Light, and the Offspring from the Fountain, as He says, ‘I am the Life,’ and, ‘I Wisdom dwell with Prudence’ John 14:6; Proverbs 8:12. But the Radiance from the Light, and Offspring from Fountain, and Son from Father, how can these be so fitly expressed as by ‘Coessential?’ And is there any cause of fear, lest, because the offspring from men are coessential, the Son, by being called Coessential, be Himself considered as a human offspring too? Perish the thought! not so; but the explanation is easy. For the Son is the Father’s Word and Wisdom; whence we learn the impassibility and indivisibility of such a generation from the Father. For not even man’s word is part of him, nor proceeds from him according to passion ; much less God’s Word; whom the Father has declared to be His own Son, lest, on the other hand, if we merely heard of ‘Word,’ we should suppose Him, such as is the word of man, impersonal; but that, hearing that He is Son, we may acknowledge Him to be living Word and substantive Wisdom.
- Accordingly, as in saying ‘offspring,’ we have no human thoughts, and, though we know God to be a Father, we entertain no material ideas concerning Him, but while we listen to these illustrations and terms, we think suitably of God, for He is not as man, so in like manner, when we hear of ‘coessential,’ we ought to transcend all sense, and, according to the Proverb, ‘understand by the understanding what is set before us’ Proverbs 23:1; so as to know, that not by will, but in truth, is He genuine from the Father, as Life from Fountain, and Radiance from Light. Else why should we understand ‘offspring’ and ‘son,’ in no corporeal way, while we conceive of ‘coessential’ as after the manner of bodies? Especially since these terms are not here used about different subjects, but of whom ‘offspring’ is predicated, of Him is ‘coessential’ also. And it is but consistent to attach the same sense to both expressions as applied to the Saviour, and not to interpret ‘offspring’ in a good sense, and ‘coessential’ otherwise; since to be consistent, you who are thus minded and who say that the Son is Word and Wisdom of the Father, should entertain a different view of these terms also, and understand Word in another sense, and Wisdom in yet another. But, as this would be absurd (for the Son is the Father’s Word and Wisdom, and the Offspring from the Father is one and proper to His essence), so the sense of ‘Offspring’ and ‘Coessential’ is one, and whoever considers the Son an offspring, rightly considers Him also as ‘coessential.’
- This is sufficient to show that the meaning of the beloved ones is not foreign nor far from the ‘Coessential.’ But since, as they allege (for I have not the Epistle in question), the Bishops who condemned the Samosatene have said in writing that the Son is not coessential with the Father, and so it comes to pass that they, for caution and honour towards those who have so said, thus feel about that expression, it will be to the purpose cautiously to argue with them this point also. Certainly it is unbecoming to make the one conflict with the others; for all are fathers; nor is it religious to settle, that these have spoken well, and those ill; for all of them fell asleep in Christ. Nor is it right to be disputatious, and to compare the respective numbers of those who met in the Councils, lest the three hundred seem to throw the lesser into the shade; nor to compare the dates, lest those who preceded seem to eclipse those that came after. For all, I say, are fathers; and yet not even the three hundred laid down nothing new, nor was it in any self-confidence that they became champions of words not in Scripture, but they fell back upon fathers, as did the others, and used their words. For there have been two of the name of Dionysius, much older than the seventy who deposed the Samosatene, of whom one was of Rome, and the other of Alexandria. But a charge had been laid by some persons against the Bishop of Alexandria before the Bishop of Rome, as if he had said that the Son was made, and not coessential with the Father. And, the synod at Rome being indignant, the Bishop of Rome expressed their united sentiments in a letter to his namesake. And so the latter, in defense, wrote a book with the title ‘of Refutation and Defence.’ and thus he writes to the other:
- And I wrote in another Letter a refutation of the false charge which they bring against me, that I deny that Christ is coessential with God. For though I say that I have not found or read this term anywhere in holy Scripture, yet my remarks which follow, and which they have not noticed, are not inconsistent with that belief. For I instanced a human production, which is evidently homogeneous, and I observed that undeniably fathers differed from their children, only in not being the same individuals; otherwise there could be neither parents nor children. And my Letter, as I said before, owing to present circumstances, I am unable to produce, or I would have sent you the very words I used, or rather a copy of it all; which, if I have an opportunity, I will do still. But I am sure from recollection, that I adduced many parallels of things kindred with each other, for instance, that a plant grown from seed or from root, was other than that from which it sprang, and yet altogether one in nature with it; and that a stream flowing from a fountain, changed its appearance and its name, for that neither the fountain was called stream, nor the stream fountain, but both existed, and that the fountain was as it were father, but the stream was what was generated from the fountain.
- Thus the Bishop. If then any one finds fault with those who met at Nicæa, as if they contradicted the decisions of their predecessors, he might reasonably find fault also with the seventy, because they did not keep to the statements of their own predecessors; but such were the Dionysii and the Bishops assembled on that occasion at Rome. But neither these nor those is it pious to blame; for all were charged with the embassy of Christ, and all have given diligence against the heretics, and the one party condemned the Samosatene, while the other condemned the Arian heresy. And rightly have both these and those written, and suitably to the matter in hand. And as the blessed Apostle, writing to the Romans, said, ‘The Law is spiritual, the Law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good’ Romans 7:14; and soon after, ‘What the Law could not do, in that it was weak’ Romans 8:3, but wrote to the Hebrews, ‘The Law has made no one perfect’ Hebrews 7:19; and to the Galatians, ‘By the Law no one is justified’ , but to Timothy, ‘The Law is good, if a man use it lawfully’ 1 Timothy 1:8; and no one would accuse the Saint of inconsistency and variation in writing, but rather would admire how suitably he wrote to each, to teach the Romans and the others to turn from the letter to the spirit, but to instruct the Hebrews and Galatians to place their hopes, not in the Law, but in the Lord who had given the Law;— so, if the Fathers of the two Councils made different mention of the Coessential, we ought not in any respect to differ from them, but to investigate their meaning, and this will fully show us the agreement of both the Councils. For they who deposed the Samosatene took Coessential in a bodily sense, because Paul had attempted sophistry and said, ‘Unless Christ has of man become God, it follows that He is Coessential with the Father; and if so, of necessity there are three essences, one the previous essence, and the other two from it;’ and therefore guarding against this they said with good reason, that Christ was not Coessential. For the Son is not related to the Father as he imagined. But the Bishops who anathematized the Arian heresy, understanding Paul’s craft, and reflecting that the word ‘Coessential’ has not this meaning when used of things immaterial , and especially of God, and acknowledging that the Word was not a creature, but an offspring from the essence, and that the Father’s essence was the origin and root and fountain of the Son, and that he was of very truth His Father’s likeness, and not of different nature, as we are, and separate from the Father, but that, as being from Him, He exists as Son indivisible, as radiance is with respect to Light, and knowing too the illustrations used in Dionysius’s case, the ‘fountain,’ and the defense of ‘Coessential’ and before this the Saviour’s saying, symbolic of unity , ‘I and the Father are one’ and ‘he that has seen Me has seen the Father?’ John 10:30; 14:9, on these grounds reasonably asserted on their part, that the Son was Coessential. And as, according to a former remark, no one would blame the Apostle, if he wrote to the Romans about the Law in one way, and to the Hebrews in another; in like manner, neither would the present Bishops find fault with the ancient, having regard to their interpretation, nor again in view of theirs and of the need of their so writing about the Lord, would the ancient censure their successors. Yes surely, each Council has a sufficient reason for its own language; for since the Samosatene held that the Son was not before Mary, but received from her the origin of His being, therefore those who then met deposed him and pronounced him heretic; but concerning the Son’s Godhead writing in simplicity, they arrived not at accuracy concerning the Coessential, but, as they understood the word, so spoke they about it. For they directed all their thoughts to destroy the device of the Samosatene, and to show that the Son was before all things, and that, instead of becoming God from man, He, being God, had put on a servant’s form, and being Word, had become flesh, as John says Philippians 2:7; John 1:14. This is how they dealt with the blasphemies of Paul; but when Eusebius, Arius, and their fellows said that though the Son was before time, yet was He made and one of the creatures, and as to the phrase ‘from God,’ they did not believe it in the sense of His being genuine Son from Father, but maintained it as it is said of the creatures, and as to the oneness of likeness between the Son and the Father, did not confess that the Son is like the Father according to essence, or according to nature as a son resembles his father, but because of Their agreement of doctrines and of teaching ; nay, when they drew a line and an utter distinction between the Son’s essence and the Father, ascribing to Him an origin of being, other than the Father, and degrading Him to the creatures, on this account the Bishops assembled at Nicæa, with a view to the craft of the parties so thinking, and as bringing together the sense from the Scriptures, cleared up the point, by affirming the ‘Coessential;’ that both the true genuineness of the Son might thereby be known, and that to things originate might be ascribed nothing in common with Him. For the precision of this phrase detects their pretence, whenever they use the phrase ‘from God,’ and gets rid of all the subtleties with which they seduce the simple. For whereas they contrive to put a sophistical construction on all other words at their will, this phrase only, as detecting their heresy, do they dread; which the Fathers set down as a bulwark against their irreligious notions one and all.
- Let then all contention cease, nor let us any longer conflict, though the Councils have differently taken the phrase ‘Coessential,’ for we have already assigned a sufficient defense of them; and to it the following may be added:— We have not derived the word ‘Unoriginate’ from Scripture, (for no where does Scripture call God Unoriginate,) yet since it has many authorities in its favour, I was curious about the term, and found that it too has different senses. Some, for instance, call what is, but is neither generated, nor has any personal cause at all, unoriginate; and others, the uncreate. As then a person, having in view the former of these senses, viz. ‘that which has no personal cause,’ might say that the Son was not unoriginate, yet would not blame any one whom he perceived to have in view the other meaning, ‘not a work or creature but an eternal offspring,’ and to affirm accordingly that the Son was unoriginate, (for both speak suitably with a view to their own object); so, even granting that the Fathers have spoken variously concerning the Coessential, let us not dispute about it, but take what they deliver to us in a religious way, when especially their anxiety was directed in behalf of religion.
- Ignatius, for instance, who was appointed Bishop in Antioch after the Apostles, and became a martyr of Christ, writes concerning the Lord thus: ‘There is one physician, fleshly and spiritual, originate and unoriginate ,’ God in man, true life in death, both from Mary and from God;’ whereas some teachers who followed Ignatius, write in their turn, ‘One is the Unoriginate, the Father, and one the genuine Son from Him, true offspring, Word and Wisdom of the Father.’ If therefore we have hostile feelings towards these writers, then have we right to quarrel with the Councils; but if, knowing their faith in Christ, we are persuaded that the blessed Ignatius was right in writing that Christ was originate on account of the flesh (for He became flesh), yet unoriginate, because He is not in the number of things made and originated, but Son from Father; and if we are aware too that those who have said that the Unoriginate is One, meaning the Father, did not mean to lay down that the Word was originated and made, but that the Father has no personal cause, but rather is Himself Father of Wisdom, and in Wisdom has made all things that are originated; why do we not combine all our Fathers in religious belief, those who deposed the Samosatene as well as those who proscribed the Arian heresy, instead of making distinctions between them and refusing to entertain a right opinion of them? I repeat, that those, in view of the sophistical explanation of the Samosatene, wrote, ‘He is not coessential ;’ and these, with an apposite meaning, said that He was. For myself, I have written these brief remarks, from my feeling towards persons who were religious to Christ-ward; but were it possible to come by the Epistle which we are told that the former wrote, I consider we should find further grounds for the aforesaid proceeding of those blessed men. For it is right and meet thus to feel, and to maintain a good conscience toward the Fathers, if we be not spurious children, but have received the traditions from them, and the lessons of religion at their hands.
- Such then, as we confess and believe, being the sense of the Fathers, proceed we even in their company to examine once more the matter, calmly and with a kindly sympathy, with reference to what has been said before, viz. whether the Bishops collected at Nicæa do not really prove to have thought aright. For if the Word be a work and foreign to the Father’s essence, so that He is separated from the Father by the difference of nature, He cannot be one in essence with Him, but rather He is homogeneous by nature with the works, though He surpass them in grace. On the other hand, if we confess that He is not a work but the genuine offspring of the Father’s essence, it would follow that He is inseparable from the Father, being connatural, because He is begotten from Him. And being such, good reason He should be called Coessential. Next, if the Son be not such from participation, but is in His essence the Father’s Word and Wisdom, and this essence is the offspring of the Father’s essence , and its likeness as the radiance is of the light, and the Son says, ‘I and the Father are One,’ and, ‘he that has seen Me, has seen the Father?’ John 10:30; 14:9, how must we understand these words? Or how shall we so explain them as to preserve the oneness of the Father and the Son? Now as to its consisting in agreement of doctrines, and in the Son’s not disagreeing with the Father, as the Arians say, such an interpretation is a sorry one; for both the Saints, and still more Angels and Archangels, have such an agreement with God, and there is no disagreement among them. For he who disagreed, the devil, was beheld to fall from the heavens, as the Lord said. Therefore if by reason of agreement the Father and the Son are one, there would be things originated which had this agreement with God, and each of these might say, ‘I and the Father are One.’ But if this be absurd, and so it truly is, it follows of necessity that we must conceive of Son’s and Father’s oneness in the way of essence. For things originate, though they have an agreement with their Maker, yet possess it only by influence , and by participation, and through the mind; the transgression of which forfeits heaven. But the Son, being an offspring from the essence, is one by essence, Himself and the Father that begot Him.
- This is why He has equality with the Father by titles expressive of unity , and what is said of the Father, is said in Scripture of the Son also, all but His being called Father. For the Son Himself said, ‘All things that the Father has are Mine’ John 16:15; and He says to the Father, ‘All Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine’ John 17:10 — as for instance , the name God; for ‘the Word was God;’— Almighty, ‘Thus says He that is, and that was, and that is to come, the Almighty’ John 1:1; Apocalypse 1:8:— the being Light, ‘I am,’ He says, ‘the Light’ John 8:12:— the Operative Cause, ‘All things were made by Him,’ and, ‘whatsoever I see the Father do, I do also’ John 1:3; 5:19:— the being Everlasting, ‘His eternal power and godhead,’ and, ‘In the beginning was the Word,’ and, ‘He was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world;’— the being Lord, for, ‘The Lord rained fire and brimstone from the Lord,’ and the Father says, ‘I am the Lord,’ and, ‘Thus says the Lord, the Almighty God;’ and of the Son Paul speaks thus, ‘One Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things’ Romans 1:20; John 1:1-9; Genesis 19:24; Isaiah 45:5; Amos 5:16; 1 Corinthians 8:6. And on the Father Angels wait, and again the Son too is worshipped by them, ‘And let all the Angels of God worship Him;’ and He is said to be Lord of Angels, for ‘the Angels ministered unto Him,’ and ‘the Son of Man shall send His Angels.’ The being honoured as the Father, for ‘that they may honour the Son,’ He says, ‘as they honour the Father;’— being equal to God, ‘He counted it not a prize to be equal with God?’ Hebrews 1:6; Matthew 4:11; 24:31; John 5:23; Philippians 2:6:— the being Truth from the True, and Life from the Living, as being truly from the Fountain, even the Father;— the quickening and raising the dead as the Father, for so it is written in the Gospel. And of the Father it is written, ‘The Lord your God is One Lord,’ and, ‘The God of gods, the Lord, has spoken, and has called the earth;’ and of the Son, ‘The Lord God has shined upon us,’ and, ‘The God of gods shall be seen in Sion.’ And again of God, Isaiah says, ‘Who is a God like You, taking away iniquities and passing over unrighteousness?’ Deuteronomy 6:4; Psalm 50:1; 118:27; 84:7 (Septuagint); Micah 7:18). But the Son said to whom He would, ‘Your sins are forgiven you;’ for instance, when, on the Jews murmuring, He manifested the remission by His act, saying to the paralytic, ‘Rise, take up your bed, and go unto your house.’ And of God Paul says, ‘To the King eternal;’ and again of the Son, David in the Psalm, ‘Lift up your gates, O you rulers, and be lifted up you everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in.’ And Daniel heard it said, ‘His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and His Kingdom shall not be destroyed’ Matthew 9:5; Mark 2:11; 1 Timothy 1:17; Psalm 24:7; Daniel 4:3; 7:14. And in a word, all that you find said of the Father, so much will you find said of the Son, all but His being Father, as has been said.
- If then any think of other beginning, and other Father, considering the equality of these attributes, it is a mad thought. But if, since the Son is from the Father, all that is the Father’s is the Son’s as in an image and Expression, let it be considered dispassionately, whether an essence foreign from the Father’s essence admit of such attributes; and whether such a one be other in nature and alien in essence, and not coessential with the Father. For we must take reverent heed, lest transferring what is proper to the Father to what is unlike Him in essence, and expressing the Father’s godhead by what is unlike in kind and alien in essence, we introduce another essence foreign to Him, yet capable of the properties of the first essence , and lest we be silenced by God Himself, saying, ‘My glory I will not give to another,’ and be discovered worshipping this alien God, and be accounted such as were the Jews of that day, who said, ‘Wherefore do You, being a man, make Yourself God.’ referring, the while, to another source the things of the Spirit, and blasphemously saying, ‘He casts out devils through Beelzebub’ Isaiah 42:8; John 10:33; Luke 11:15. But if this is shocking, plainly the Son is not unlike in essence, but coessential with the Father; for if what the Father has is by nature the Son’s, and the Son Himself is from the Father, and because of this oneness of godhead and of nature He and the Father are one, and He that has seen the Son has seen the Father, reasonably is He called by the Fathers ‘Coessential;’ for to what is other in essence, it belongs not to possess such prerogatives.
- And again, if, as we have said before, the Son is not such by participation, but, while all things originated have by participation the grace of God, He is the Father’s Wisdom and Word of which all things partake , it follows that He, being the deifying and enlightening power of the Father, in which all things are deified and quickened, is not alien in essence from the Father, but coessential. For by partaking of Him, we partake of the Father; because that the Word is the Father’s own. Whence, if He was Himself too from participation, and not from the Father His essential Godhead and Image, He would not deify , being deified Himself. For it is not possible that He, who merely possesses from participation, should impart of that partaking to others, since what He has is not His own, but the Giver’s; and what He has received, is barely the grace sufficient for Himself. However, let us fairly examine the reason why some, as is said, decline the ‘Coessential,’ whether it does not rather show that the Son is coessential with the Father. They say then, as you have written, that it is not right to say that the Son is coessential with the Father, because he who speaks of ‘coessential’ speaks of three, one essence pre-existing, and that those who are generated from it are coessential: and they add, ‘If then the Son be coessential with the Father, then an essence must be previously supposed, from which they have been generated; and that the One is not Father and the Other Son, but they are brothers together.’ As to all this, though it be a Greek interpretation, and what comes from them does not bind us , still let us see whether those things which are called coessential and are collateral, as derived from one essence presupposed, are coessential with each other, or with the essence from which they are generated. For if only with each other, then are they other in essence and unlike, when referred to that essence which generated them; for other in essence is opposed to coessential; but if each be coessential with the essence which generated them, it is thereby confessed that what is generated from anything, is coessential with that which generated it; and there is no need of seeking for three essences, but merely to seek whether it be true that this is from that. For should it happen that there were not two brothers, but that only one had come of that essence, he that was generated would not be called alien in essence, merely because there was no other from the essence than he; but though alone, he must be coessential with him that begot him. For what shall we say about Jephtha’s daughter; because she was only-begotten, and ‘he had not,’ says Scripture, ‘other child’ Judges 11:34; and again, concerning the widow’s son, whom the Lord raised from the dead, because he too had no brother, but was only-begotten, was on that account neither of these coessential with him that begot? Surely they were, for they were children, and this is a property of children with reference to their parents. And in like manner also, when the Fathers said that the Son of God was from His essence, reasonably have they spoken of Him as coessential. For the like property has the radiance compared with the light. Else it follows that not even the creation came out of nothing. For whereas men beget with passion , so again they work upon an existing subject matter, and otherwise cannot make. But if we do not understand creation in a human way , when we attribute it to God, much less seemly is it to understand generation in a human way, or to give a corporeal sense to Coessential; instead of receding from things originate, casting away human images, nay, all things sensible, and ascending to the Father , lest we rob the Father of the Son in ignorance, and rank Him among His own creatures.
- Further, if, in confessing Father and Son, we spoke of two beginnings or two Gods as Marcion and Valentinus , or said that the Son had any other mode of godhead, and was not the Image and Expression of the Father, as being by nature born from Him, then He might be considered unlike; for such essences are altogether unlike each other. But if we acknowledge that the Father’s godhead is one and sole, and that of Him the Son is the Word and Wisdom; and, as thus believing, are far from speaking of two Gods, but understand the oneness of the Son with the Father to be, not in likeness of their teaching, but according to essence and in truth, and hence speak not of two Gods but of one God; there being but one Form of Godhead, as the Light is one and the Radiance; (for this was seen by the Patriarch Jacob, as Scripture says, ‘The sun rose upon him when the Form of God passed by,’ Genesis 32:31, Septuagint); and beholding this, and understanding of whom He was Son and Image, the holy Prophets say, ‘The Word of the Lord came to me;’ and recognising the Father, who was beheld and revealed in Him, they made bold to say, ‘The God of our fathers has appeared unto me, the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob’ Exodus 3:16; this being so, wherefore scruple we to call Him coessential who is one with the Father, and appears as does the Father, according to likeness and oneness of godhead? For if, as has been many times said, He has it not to be proper to the Father’s essence, nor to resemble, as a Son, we may well scruple: but if this be the illuminating and creative Power, specially proper to the Father, without Whom He neither frames nor is known (for all things consist through Him and in Him); wherefore, perceiving the fact, do we decline to use the phrase conveying it? For what is it to be thus connatural with the Father, but to be one in essence with Him? For God attached not to Him the Son from without , as needing a servant; nor are the works on a level with the Creator, and honoured as He is, or to be thought one with the Father. Or let a man venture to make the distinction, that the sun and the radiance are two lights, or different essences; or to say that the radiance accrued to it over and above, and is not a simple and pure offspring from the sun; such, that sun and radiance are two, but the light one, because the radiance is an offspring from the Sun. But, whereas not more divisible, nay less divisible is the nature of the Son towards the Father, and the godhead not accruing to the Son, but the Father’s godhead being in the Son, so that he that has seen the Son has seen the Father in Him; wherefore should not such a one be called Coessential?
- Even this is sufficient to dissuade you from blaming those who have said that the Son was coessential with the Father, and yet let us examine the very term ‘Coessential,’ in itself, by way of seeing whether we ought to use it at all, and whether it be a proper term, and is suitable to apply to the Son. For you know yourselves, and no one can dispute it, that Like is not predicated of essence, but of habits, and qualities; for in the case of essences we speak, not of likeness, but of identity. Man, for instance, is said to be like man, not in essence, but according to habit and character; for in essence men are of one nature. And again, man is not said to be unlike dog, but to be of different nature. Accordingly while the former are of one nature and coessential, the latter are different in both. Therefore, in speaking of Like according to essence, we mean like by participation; (for Likeness is a quality, which may attach to essence), and this would be proper to creatures for they, by partaking, are made like to God. For ‘when He shall appear,’ says Scripture, ‘we shall be like Him’ 1 John 3:2, like, that is, not in essence but in sonship, which we shall partake from Him. If then you speak of the Son as being by participation, then indeed call Him Like-in-essence; but thus spoken of, He is not Truth, nor Light at all, nor in nature God. For things which are from participation, are called like, not in reality, but from resemblance to reality; so that they may swerve, or be taken from those who share them. And this, again, is proper to creatures and works. Therefore, if this be out of place, He must be, not by participation, but in nature and truth Son, Light, Wisdom, God; and being by nature, and not by sharing, He would properly be called, not Like-in-essence, but Coessential. But what would not be asserted, even in the case of others (for the Like has been shown to be inapplicable to essences), is it not folly, not to say violence, to put forward in the case of the Son, instead of the ‘Coessential?’
- This is why the Nicene Council was correct in writing, what it was becoming to say, that the Son, begotten from the Father’s essence, is coessential with Him. And if we too have been taught the same thing, let us not fight with shadows, especially as knowing, that they who have so defined, have made this confession of faith, not to misrepresent the truth, but as vindicating the truth and religiousness towards Christ, and also as destroying the blasphemies against Him of the Ario-maniacs. For this must be considered and noted carefully, that, in using unlike-in-essence, and other-in-essence, we signify not the true Son, but some one of the creatures, and an introduced and adopted Son, which pleases the heretics; but when we speak uncontroversially of the Coessential, we signify a genuine Son born of the Father; though at this Christ’s enemies often burst with rage. What then I have learned myself, and have heard men of judgment say, I have written in few words; but do you, remaining on the foundation of the Apostles, and holding fast the traditions of the Fathers, pray that now at length all strife and rivalry may cease, and the futile questions of the heretics may be condemned, and all logomachy ; and the guilty and murderous heresy of the Arians may disappear, and the truth may shine again in the hearts of all, so that all every where may ‘say the same thing’ 1 Corinthians 1:10, and think the same thing , and that, no Arian contumelies remaining, it may be said and confessed in every Church, ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism’ Ephesians 4:5, in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom to the Father be the glory and the strength, unto ages of ages. Amen.
- After I had written my account of the Councils , I had information that the most irreligious Constantius had sent Letters to the Bishops remaining in Ariminum; and I have taken pains to get copies of them from true brethren and to send them to you, and also what the Bishops answered; that you may know the irreligious craft of the Emperor, and the firm and unswerving purpose of the Bishops towards the truth.
Interpretation of the Letter.
Constantius, Victorious and Triumphant, Augustus, to all Bishops who are assembled at Ariminum.
That the divine and adorable Law is our chief care, your excellencies are not ignorant; but as yet we have been unable to receive the twenty Bishops sent by your wisdom, and charged with the legation from you, for we are pressed by a necessary expedition against the Barbarians; and as you know, it beseems to have the soul clear from every care, when one handles the matters of the Divine Law. Therefore we have ordered the Bishops to await our return at Adrianople; that, when all public affairs are well arranged, then at length we may hear and weigh their suggestions. Let it not then be grievous to your constancy to await their return, that, when they come back with our answer to you, you may be able to bring matters to a close which so deeply affect the well-being of the Catholic Church.
This was what the Bishops received at the hands of three emissaries.
Reply of the Bishops.
The letter of your humanity we have received, most God-beloved Lord Emperor, which reports that, on account of stress of public affairs, as yet you have been unable to attend to our deputies; and in which you command us to await their return, until your godliness shall be advised by them of what we have defined conformably to our ancestors. However, we now profess and aver at once by these presents, that we shall not recede from our purpose, as we also instructed our deputies. We ask then that you will with serene countenance command these letters of our mediocrity to be read; but also that you will graciously receive those, with which we charged our deputies. This however your gentleness comprehends as well as we, that great grief and sadness at present prevail, because that, in these your most happy days, so many Churches are without Bishops. And on this account we again request your humanity, most God-beloved Lord Emperor, that, if it please your religiousness, you would command us, before the severe winter weather sets in, to return to our Churches, that so we may be able, unto God Almighty and our Lord and Saviour Christ, His Only-begotten Son, to fulfil together with our flocks our wonted prayers in behalf of your imperial sway, as indeed we have ever performed them, and at this time make them.