Chapter XXIII.—Acacius and Aëtius; and how the Deputies of the Two Councils of Ariminum p. 319 and of Seleucia were led by the Emperor to accept the Same Doctrines.
Immediately after the above transactions, the adherents of Acacius repaired to the emperor; 1341 but the other bishops returned to their respective homes. The ten bishops who had been unanimously chosen as deputies to the emperor, met, on their arrival at the court, the ten deputies 1342 of the council of Ariminum, and likewise the partisans of Acacius. These latter had gained over to their cause the chief men attached to the palace, and, through their influence, had secured the favor of the emperor. It was reported that some of these proselytes had espoused the sentiments of Acacius at some previous period; that some were bribed by means of the wealth belonging to the churches; and that others were seduced by the subtilty of the arguments presented to them, and by the dignity of the persuader. Acacius was, in fact, no common character; by nature he was gifted with great powers of intellect and eloquence, and he exhibited no want of skill or of address in the accomplishment of his schemes. He was the president of an illustrious church, and could boast of Eusebius Pamphilus as his teacher, whom he succeeded in the episcopate, and was more honorably known than any other man by the reputation and succession of his books. Endowed with all these advantages, he succeeded with ease in whatever he undertook.
As there were at this period at Constantinople all together twenty deputies, ten from each council, besides many other bishops, who, from various motives, had repaired to the city, Honoratus, 1343 whom the emperor, before his departure to the West, had constituted chief governor of Constantinople, received directions to examine, in the presence of the exarchs of the great council, the reports circulated concerning Aëtius and his heresy. Constantius, with some of the rulers, eventually undertook the investigation of this case; and as it was proved that Aëtius had introduced dogmas essentially opposed to the faith, the emperor and the other judges were offended at his blasphemous statements. It is said that the partisans of Acacius at first feigned ignorance of this heresy, for the purpose of inducing the emperor and those around him to take cognizance of it; for they imagined that the eloquence of Aëtius would be irresistible; that he would infallibly succeed in convincing his auditory; and that his heresy would conquer the unwilling. When, however, the result proved the futility of their expectations, they demanded that the formulary of faith accepted by the council of Ariminum should receive the sanction of the deputies from the council of Seleucia. As these latter protested that they would never renounce the use of the term “substance,” the Acacians declared to them upon oath that they did not hold the Son to be, in substance, dissimilar from the Father; but that, on the contrary, they were ready to denounce this opinion as heresy. They added that they esteemed the formulary compiled by the Western bishops at Ariminum the more highly, because the word “substance” had been unexpectedly expunged from it; because, they said, if this formulary were to be received, there would be no further mention, either of the word “substance” or of the term “consubstantial,” to which many of the Western priests were, from their reverence for the Nicæan council, peculiarly attached.
It was for these reasons that the emperor approved of the formulary; and when he recalled to mind the great number of bishops who had been convened at Ariminum, and reflected that there is no error in saying either that “the Son is like unto the Father” or “of the same substance as the Father”; and when he further considered that no difference in signification would ensue, if, for terms which do not occur in Scripture, other equivalent and uncontrovertible expressions were to be substituted (such, for instance, as the word “similar”), he determined upon giving his sanction to the formulary. Such being his own sentiments, he commanded the bishops to accept the formulary. The next day preparations were made for the pompous ceremony of proclaiming him consul, which, according to the Roman custom, took place in the beginning of the month of January, and the whole of that day and part of the ensuing night the emperor spent with the bishops, and at length succeeded in persuading the deputies of the council of Seleucia to receive the formulary transmitted from Ariminum.
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