Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen.: Concerning the Presbyter by whom Constantine was persuaded to recall Arius and Euzoïus from Exile; the Tractate concerning his Possibly Pious Faith, and how Arius was again received by the Synod assembled at Jerusalem.Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Chapter XXVII.—Concerning the Presbyter by whom Constantine was persuaded to recall Arius and Euzoïus from Exile; the Tractate concerning his Possibly Pious Faith, and how Arius was again received by the Synod assembled at Jerusalem.
The bishops who had embraced the sentiments of Arius found a favorable opportunity of restoring him and Euzoïus to communion, by zealously striving to have a council in the city of Jerusalem. They effected their design in the following manner 1195 :—
A certain presbyter who was a great admirer of the Arian doctrines, was on terms of intimacy with the emperors sister. At first he concealed his sentiments; but as he frequently visited and became by degrees more familiar with Constantia, for such was the name of the sister of Constantine, he took courage to represent to her that Arius was unjustly exiled from his country, and cast out from the Church, through the jealousy and personal enmity of Alexander bishop of the Alexandrian Church. He said that his jealousy had been excited by the esteem which the people manifested towards Arius.
Constantia believed these representations to be true, yet took no steps in her lifetime to innovate upon the decrees of Nicæa. Being attacked with a disease which threatened to terminate in death, she besought her brother, who went to visit her, to grant what she was about to ask, as a last favor; this request was, to receive the above mentioned presbyter on terms of intimacy, and to rely upon him as a man who had correct opinions about the Divinity. “For my part,” she added, “I am drawing nigh to death, and am no longer interested in the concerns of this life; the only apprehension I now feel, arises from dread lest you should incur the wrath of God and suffer any calamity, or the loss of your empire, since you have been induced to condemn just and good men wrongfully to perpetual banishment.” From that period the emperor received the presbyter into favor, and after permitting him to speak freely with him and to commune on the same topics concerning which his sister had given her command, deemed necessary to subject the case of Arius to a fresh examination; it is probable that, in forming this decision, the emperor was either influenced by a belief in the credibility of the attacks, or by the desire of gratifying his sister. It was not long before he recalled Arius from exile, 1196 and demanded of him a written exposition of his faith concerning the Godhead. Arius avoided making use of the new terms which he had previously devised, and constructed another exposition by using simple terms, and such as were recognized by the sacred Scriptures; he declared upon oath, that he held the doctrines set forth in this exposition, that he both felt these statements ex animo and had no other thought than these. It was as follows: 1197 “Arius and Euzoïus, presbyters, to Constantine, our most pious emperor and most beloved of God.
“According as your piety, beloved of God, commanded, O sovereign emperor, we here furnish a written statement of our own faith, and we protest before God that we, and all those who are with us, believe what is here set forth.
“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, and in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, who was begotten from Him before all ages, God the Word, by whom all things were made, whether things in heaven or things on earth; He came and took upon Him flesh, suffered and rose again, and ascended into heaven, whence He will again come to judge the quick and the dead.
“We believe in the Holy Ghost, in the resurrection of the body, in the life to come, in the kingdom of heaven, and in one Catholic Church of God, established throughout the earth. We have received this faith from the Holy Gospels, in which the Lord says to His disciples, Go forth and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. If we do not so believe this, and if we do not truly receive the doctrines concerning the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, as they are taught by the whole Catholic Church and by the sacred Scriptures, as we believe in every point, let God be our judge, both now and in the day which is to come. Wherefore we appeal to your piety, O our emperor most beloved of God, that, as we are enrolled among the members of the clergy, and as we hold the faith and thought of the Church and of the sacred Scriptures, we may be openly reconciled to our mother, the Church, through your peacemaking and pious piety; so that useless questions and disputes may be cast aside, and that we and the Church may dwell together in peace, and we all in common may offer the customary prayer for your peaceful and pious empire and for your entire family.”
Many considered this declaration of faith as an artful compilation, and as bearing the appearance of difference in expression, while, in reality, it supported the doctrine of Arius; the terms in which it was couched being so vague p. 278 that it was susceptible of diverse interpretations. The emperor imagined that Arius and Euzoïus were of the same sentiments as the bishops of the council of Nicæa, and was delighted over the affair. He did not, however, attempt to restore them to communion without the judgment and approval of those who are, by the law of the Church, masters in these matters. He, therefore, sends them to the bishops who were then assembled at Jerusalem, and wrote, desiring them to examine the declaration of faith submitted by Arius and Euzoïus, and so to influence the Synod that, whether they found that their doctrine was orthodox, and that the jealousy of their enemies had been the sole cause of their condemnation, or that, without having reason to blame those who had condemned them, they had changed their minds, a humane decision might, in either case, be accorded them. Those who had long been zealous for this, seized the opportunity under cover of the emperors letter, and received him into fellowship. They wrote immediately to the emperor himself, to the Church of Alexandria, and to the bishops and clergy of Egypt, of Thebes, and of Libya, earnestly exhorting them to receive Arius and Euzoïus into communion, since the emperor bore witness to the correctness of their faith, in one of his own epistles, and since the judgment of the emperor had been confirmed by the vote of the Synod. 1198
These were the subjects which were zealously discussed by the Synod of Jerusalem.
Ruf. H. E. i. 11; Soc. i. 25, 26, 33.277:1196
This letter of the emperor is in Soc. i. 25.277:1197
Soc. i. 26, verbal variations. Both probably from Sabinus.278:1198
Ruf. H. E, i. 11; Soc. i. 33. For the letter of the Synod, cf. Athan. de Synodis, 21; a part is also given in Apol. cont. Arian. 84.
Next: Letter from the Emperor Constantine to the Synod of Tyre, and Exile of St. Athanasius through the Machination of the Arian Faction.
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