Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Against the Arians. (Orationes contra Arianos IV.): Chapter I
p. 306 Four Discourses Against the Arians.
Chapter I.—Introduction. Reason for writing; certain persons indifferent about Arianism; Arians not Christians, because sectaries always take the name of their founder.
1. Of all other heresies which have departed from the truth it is acknowledged that they have but devised 1821 a madness, and their irreligiousness has long since become notorious to all men. For that 1822 their authors went out from us, it plainly follows, as the blessed John has written, that they never thought nor now think with us. Wherefore, as saith the Saviour, in that they gather not with us, they scatter with the devil, and keep an eye on those who slumber, that, by this second sowing of their own mortal poison, they may have companions in death. But, whereas one heresy, and that the last, which has now risen as harbinger 1823 of Antichrist, the Arian, as it is called, considering that other heresies, her elder sisters, have been openly proscribed, in her craft and cunning, affects to array herself in Scripture language 1824 , like her father the devil, and is forcing her way back into the Churchs paradise,—that with the pretence of Christianity, her smooth sophistry (for reason she has none) may deceive men into wrong thoughts of Christ,—nay, since she has already seduced certain of the foolish, not only to corrupt their ears, but even to take and eat with Eve, till in their ignorance which ensues they think bitter sweet, and admire this loathsome heresy, on this account I have thought it necessary, at your request, to unrip the folds of its breast-plate 1825 , and to shew the ill savour of its folly. So while those who are far from it may continue to shun it, those whom it has deceived may repent; and, opening the eyes of their heart, may understand that darkness is not light, nor falsehood truth, nor Arianism good; nay, that those 1826 who call these men Christians are in great and grievous error, as neither having studied Scripture, nor understanding Christianity at all, and the faith which it contains.
2. For what have they discovered in this heresy like to the religious Faith, that they vainly talk as if its supporters said no evil? This in truth is to call even Caiaphas 1827 a Christian, and to reckon the traitor Judas still p. 307 among the Apostles, and to say that they who asked Barabbas instead of the Saviour did no evil, and to recommend Hymenæus and Alexander as right-minded men, and as if the Apostle slandered them. But neither can a Christian bear to hear this, nor can he consider the man who dared to say it sane in his understanding. For with them for Christ is Arius, as with the Manichees Manichæus; and for Moses and the other saints they have made the discovery of one Sotades 1828 , a man whom even Gentiles laugh at, and of the daughter of Herodias. For of the one has Arius imitated the dissolute and effeminate tone, in writing Thaliæ on his model; and the other he has rivalled in her dance, reeling and frolicking in his blasphemies against the Saviour; till the victims of his heresy lose their wits and go foolish, and change the Name of the Lord of glory into the likeness of the image of corruptible man 1829 , and for Christians come to be called Arians, bearing this badge of their irreligion. For let them not excuse themselves; nor retort their disgrace on those who are not as they, calling Christians after the names of their teachers 1830 , that they themselves may appear to have that Name in the same way. Nor let them make a jest of it, when they feel shame at their disgraceful appellation; rather, if they be ashamed, let them hide their faces, or let them recoil from their own irreligion. For never at any time did Christian people take their title from the Bishops among them, but from the Lord, on whom we rest our faith. Thus, though the blessed Apostles have become our teachers, and have ministered the Saviours Gospel, yet not from them have we our title, but from Christ we are and are named Christians. But for those who derive the faith which they profess from others, good reason is it they should bear their name, whose property they have become 1831 .
3. Yes surely; while all of us are and are called Christians after Christ, Marcion broached a heresy a long time since and was cast out; and those who continued with him who ejected him remained Christians; but those who followed Marcion were called Christians no more, but henceforth Marcionites. Thus Valentinus also, and Basilides, and Manichæus, and Simon Magus, have imparted their own name to their followers; and some are accosted as Valentinians, or as Basilidians, or as Manichees, or as Simonians; and other, Cataphrygians from Phrygia, and from Novatus Novatians. So too Meletius, when ejected by Peter the Bishop and Martyr, called his party no longer Christians, but Meletians 1832 , and so in consequence when Alexander of blessed memory had cast out Arius, those who remained with Alexander, remained Christians; but those who went out with Arius, left the Saviours Name to us who were with Alexander, and as to them they were hence-forward denominated Arians. Behold then, after Alexanders death too, those who communicate with his successor Athanasius, and those with whom the said Athanasius communicates, are instances of the same rule; none of them bear his name, nor is he named from them, but all in like manner, and as is usual, are called Christians. For though we have a succession of teachers and become their disciples, yet, because we are taught by them the things of Christ, we both are, and are called, Christians all the same. But those who follow the heretics, though they have innumerable successors in their heresy, yet anyhow bear the name of him who devised it. Thus, though Arius be dead, and many of his party have succeeded him, yet those who think with him, as being known from Arius, are called Arians. And, what is a remarkable p. 308 evidence of this, those of the Greeks who even at this time come into the Church, on giving up the superstition of idols, take the name, not of their catechists, but of the Saviour, and begin to be called Christians instead of Greeks: while those of them who go off to the heretics, and again all who from the Church change to this heresy, abandon Christs name, and henceforth are called Arians, as no longer holding Christs faith, but having inherited Ariuss madness.
4. How then can they be Christians, who for Christians are Ario-maniacs 1833 ? or how are they of the Catholic Church, who have shaken off the Apostolical faith, and become authors of fresh evils? who, after abandoning the oracles of divine Scripture, call Ariuss Thaliæ a new wisdom? and with reason too, for they are announcing a new heresy. And hence a man may marvel, that, whereas many have written many treatises and abundant homilies upon the Old Testament and the New, yet in none of them is a Thalia found; nay nor among the more respectable of the Gentiles, but among those only who sing such strains over their cups, amid cheers and jokes, when men are merry, that the rest may laugh; till this marvellous Arius, taking no grave pattern, and ignorant even of what is respectable, while he stole largely from other heresies, would be original in the ludicrous, with none but Sotades for his rival. For what beseemed him more, when he would dance forth against the Saviour, than to throw his wretched words of irreligion into dissolute and loose metres? that, while a man, as Wisdom says, is known from the utterance of his word 1834 , so from those numbers should be seen the writers effeminate soul and corruption of thought 1835 . In truth, that crafty one did not escape detection; but, for all his many writhings to and fro, like the serpent, he did but fall into the error of the Pharisees. They, that they might transgress the Law, pretended to be anxious for the words of the Law, and that they might deny the expected and then present Lord, were hypocritical with Gods name, and were convicted of blaspheming when they said, Why dost Thou, being a man, make Thyself God, and sayest, I and the Father are one 1836 ? And so too, this counterfeit and Sotadean Arius, feigns to speak of God, introducing Scripture language 1837 , but is on all sides recognised as godless 1838 Arius, denying the Son, and reckoning Him among the creatures.
ἐπινοήσασαι. This is almost a technical word, and has occurred again and again already, as descriptive of heretical teaching in opposition to the received traditionary doctrine. It is also found passim in other writers. Thus Socrates, speaking of the decree of the Council of Alexandria, 362, against Apollinaris; for not originating, ἐπινοήσαντες, any novel devotion, did they introduce it into the Church, but what from the beginning the Ecclesiastical Tradition declared. Hist. iii. 7. The sense of the word ἐπίνοια which will come into consideration below, is akin to this, being the view taken by the mind of an object independent of (whether or not correspondent to) the object itself. [But see Bigg. B. L. p. 168, sq.]306:1822
τὸ γὰρ ἐξελθεῖν…δῆλον ἂν εἴη, i.e. τῷ and so infr. §43. τὸ δὲ καὶ προσκυνεῖσθαι…δῆλον ἂν εἴη.306:1823
de Syn. 5.306:1824
Vid. infr. §4 fin. That heresies before the Arian appealed to Scripture we learn from Tertullian, de Præscr. 42, who warns Catholics against indulging themselves in their own view of isolated texts against the voice of the Catholic Church. vid. also Vincentius, who specifies obiter Sabellius and Novation. Commonit. 2. Still Arianism was contrasted with other heresies on this point, as in these two respects; (1.) they appealed to a secret tradition, unknown even to most of the Apostles, as the Gnostics, Iren. Hær. iii. 1 or they professed a gift of prophecy introducing fresh revelations, as Montanists, de Syn. 4, and Manichees, Aug. contr. Faust. xxxii. 6. (2.) The Arians availed themselves of certain texts as objections, argued keenly and plausibly from them, and would not be driven from them. Orat. ii. §18. c. Epiph. Hær. 69. 15. Or rather they took some words of Scripture, and made their own deductions from them; viz. Son, made, exalted, &c. Making their private irreligiousness as if a rule, they misinterpret all the divine oracles by it. Orat. i. §52. vid. also Epiph. Hær. 76. 5 fin. Hence we hear so much of their θρυλληταὶ φωναὶ, λέξεις, ἔπη, ῥητὰ, sayings in general circulation, which were commonly founded on some particular text. e.g. infr., §22, amply providing themselves with words of craft, they used to go about, &c. Also ἄνω καὶ κάτω περιφέροντες, de Decr. §13. τῷ ῥ& 208·τῳ τεθρυλλήκασι τὰ πανταχοῦ. Orat. 2. §18. τὸ πολυθρύλλητον σόφισμα, Basil. contr. Eunom. ii. 14. τὴν πολυθρύλλητον διαλεκτικήν, Nyssen. contr. Eun. iii. p. 125. τὴν θρυλλουμένην ἀποῤ& 191·οήν, Cyril. Dial. iv. p. 505. τὴν πολυθρύλλητον φώνην, Socr. ii. 43.306:1825
Job xli. 13 (v. 4. LXX).306:1826
These Orations and Discourses seem written to shew the vital importance of the point in controversy, and the unchristian character of the heresy, without reference to the word ὁμοούσιον. He has [elsewhere] insisted that the enforcement of the symbol was but the rejection of the heresy, and accordingly he is here content to bring out the Catholic sense, as feeling that, if persons understood and embraced it, they would not scruple at the word. He seems to allude to what may be called the liberal or indifferent feeling as swaying the person for whom he writes, also infr. §7 fin. §9. §10 init. §15 fin. §17. §21. §23. He mentions in Apollin. i. 6. one Rhetorius, who was an Egyptian, whose opinion, he says, it was fearful to mention. S. Augustine tells us that this man taught that all heresies were in the right path, and spoke truth, which, he adds, is so absurd as to seem to me incredible. Hær 72. vid. also Philastr. Hær. 91.306:1827
de Decr. §§2, 24, 27.307:1828
de Syn. §1.307:1829
Vid. Hil. de Trin. viii. 28; Rom. i. 25.307:1830
He seems to allude to Catholics being called Athanasians; vid. however next §. Two distinctions are drawn between such a title as applied to Catholics, and again to heretics, when they are taken by Catholics as a note against them. S. Augustine says, Arians call Catholics Athanasians or Homoüsians, not other heretics too. But ye not only by Catholics but also by heretics, those who agree with you and those who disagree, are called Pelagians; as even by heresies are Arians called Arians. But ye, and ye only, call us Traducianists, as Arians call us Homoüsians, as Donatists Macarians, as Manichees Pharisees, and as the other heretics use various titles. Op. imp. i. 75. It may be added that the heretical name adheres, the Catholic dies away. S. Chrysostom draws a second distinction, Are we divided from the Church? have we heresiarchs? are we called from man? is there any leader to us, as to one there is Marcion, to another Manichæus, to another Arius, to another some other author of heresy? for if we too have the name of any, still it is not those who began the heresy, but our superiors and governors of the Church. We have not “teachers upon earth,” &c. in Act. Ap. Hom. 33 fin.307:1831
Vid. foregoing note. Also, Let us become His disciples, and learn to live according to Christianity; for whoso is called by other name besides this, is not of God. Ignat. ad Magn. 10. Hegesippus speaks of Menandrians, and Marcionites, and Carpocratians, and Valentinians, and Basilidians, and Saturnilians, who each in his own way and that a different one brought in his own doctrine. Euseb. Hist. iv. 22. There are, and there have been, my friends, many who have taught atheistic and blasphemous words and deeds, coming in the name of Jesus; and they are called by us from the appellation of the men, whence each doctrine and opinion began.…Some are called Marcians, others Valentinians, others Basilidians, others Saturnilians, &c. Justin. Tryph. 35. Iren. Hær. i. 23. When men are called Phrygians, or Novatians, or Valentinians, or Marcionites, or Anthropians, or by any other name, they cease to be Christians; for they have lost Christs Name, and clothe themselves in human and foreign titles. Lact. Inst. iv. 30. A. How are you a Christian, to whom it is not even granted to bear the name of Christian? for you are not called Christian but Marcionite. M. And you are called of the Catholic Church; therefore ye are not Christians either. A. Did we profess mans name, you would have spoken to the point; but if we are called from being all over the world, what is there bad in this? Adamant. Dial. §1, p. 809. Epiph. Hær. 42. p. 366. ibid. 70. 15. vid. also Hær. 75. 6 fin. Cyril Cat. xviii. 26. Christian is my name, Catholic my surname. Pacian. Ep. 1. If you ever hear those who are called Christians, named, not from the Lord Jesus Christ, but from some one else, say Marcionites, Valentinians, Mountaineers, Campestrians, know that it is not Christs Church, but the synagogue of Antichrist. Jerom. adv. Lucif. fin.307:1832
Vid. de Syn. 12. [Prolegg. ch. ii. §2.]308:1833
de Syn. 13, note 4. Manes also was called mad; Thou must hate all heretics, but especially him who even in name is a maniac. Cyril. Catech. vi. 20, vid. also ibid. 24 fin.—a play upon the name, vid. de Syn. 26, Scotinus.308:1834
Vid. Ecclesiasticus 4.24.308:1835
It is very difficult to gain a clear idea of the character of Arius. [Prolegg. ch. ii. §2.] Epiphaniuss account of Arius is as follows:—From elation of mind the old man swerved from the mark. He was in stature very tall, downcast in visage, with manners like wily serpent, captivating to every guileless heart by that same crafty bearing. For ever habited in cloke and vest, he was pleasant of address, ever persuading souls and flattering; wherefore what was his very first work but to withdraw from the Church in one body as many as seven hundred women who professed virginity.? Hær. 69. 3, cf. ib. §9 for a strange description of Arius attributed to Constantine, also printed in the collections of councils: Hard. i. 457.308:1836
John x. 30.308:1837
§1, note 4.308:1838
And so godless or atheist Aetius, de Syn. 6, note 3, cf. note on de Decr. 1, for an explanation of the word. In like manner Athan. says, ad Serap. iii. 2, that if a man says that the Son is a creature, who is word and Wisdom, and the Expression, and the Radiance, whom whoso seeth seeth the Father, he falls under the text, Whoso denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. Such a one, he continues, will in no long time say, as the fool, There is no God. In like manner he speaks of those who think the Son to be the Spirit as without (ἔξω) the Holy Trinity, and atheists (Serap. iv. 6), because they really do not believe in the God that is, and there is none other but He. Cf. also Serap. i. 30. Eustathius speaks of the Arians as ἀνθρώπους ἀθέους, who were attempting κρατῆσαι τοῦ θείου. ap. Theod. Hist. i. 7. p. 760. Naz. speaks of the heathen πολύθεος ἀθεΐα. Orat. 25. 15. and he calls faith and regeneration a denial of atheism, ἀθεΐας, and a confession of godhead, θεότητος, Orat. 23. 12. He calls Lucius, the Alexandrian Anti-pope, on account of his cruelties, this second Arius, the more copious river of the atheistic spring, τῆς ἀθέου πηγῆς. Orat. 25. 11. Palladius, the Imperial officer, is ἀνὴρ ἄθεος. ibid. 12.
Next: Extracts from the Thalia of Arius. Arius maintains that God became a Father, and the Son was not always; the Son out of nothing; once He was not; He was not before his generation; He was created; named Wisdom and Word after God's attributes; made that He might make us; one out of many powers of God; alterable; exalted on God's foreknowledge of what He was to be; not very God; but called so as others by participation; foreign in essence from the Father; does not know or see the Father; does not know Himself.
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