Chapter XXVII.—Epistle of the Emperor Constantine to the Council of Tyre 434 .
“In the general prosperity which distinguishes the present time, it seems right that the Catholic Church should likewise be exempt p. 62 from trouble, and that the servants of Christ should be freed from every reproach.
“But certain individuals instigated by the mad desire of contention, not to say leading a life unworthy of their profession, are endeavoring to throw all into disorder. This appears to me to be the greatest of all possible calamities. I beseech you, therefore, in post haste, as the phrase goes, to assemble together, without any delay, in formal synod; so that you may support those who require your assistance, heal the brethren who are in danger, restore unanimity to the divided members, and rectify the disorders of the Church while time permits; and thus restore to those great provinces the harmony which, alas! the arrogance of a few men has destroyed. I believe every one would admit that you could not perform anything so pleasing in the sight of God, so surpassing all my prayers as well as your own, or so conducive to your own reputation, as to restore peace.
“Do not ye therefore delay, but when you have come together with all that sincerity and fidelity which our Saviour demands of all His servants, almost in words that we can hear, endeavour with redoubled eagerness to put a fitting end to these dissensions.
“Nothing shall be omitted on my part to further the interests of our religion. I have done all that you recommended in your letters. I have sent to those bishops whom you specified, directing them to repair to the council for the purpose of deliberating with you upon ecclesiastical matters. I have also sent Dionysius 435 , a man of consular rank, to counsel those who are to sit in synod with you, and to be himself an eye witness of your proceedings, and particularly of the order and regularity that is maintained. If any one should dare on the present occasion also to disobey our command, and refuse to come to the council, which, however, I do not anticipate, an officer will be despatched immediately to send him into banishment by imperial order, that he may learn not to oppose the decrees enacted by the emperor for the support of truth.
“All that now devolves upon your holinesses is to decide with unanimous judgment, without partiality or prejudice, in accordance with the ecclesiastical and apostolical rule, and to devise suitable remedies for the offences which may have resulted from error; in order that the Church may be freed from all reproach, that my anxiety may be diminished, that peace may be restored to those now at variance, and that your renown may be increased. May God preserve you, beloved brethren.”
The bishops accordingly repaired to the council of Tyre. Amongst them were those who were accused of holding heterodox doctrines; of whom Asclepas, bishop of Gaza, was one. The admirable Athanasius also attended. I shall first dwell on the tragedy of the accusation, and shall then relate the proceedings of this celebrated tribunal.
The Council of Tyre met a.d. 335, on the date, vide Bp. Lightfoot in Dict. Christ. Biog. iii. 316, note. “The scenes at the Council of Tyre form the most picturesque and the most shameful chapter in the Arian controversy.” Id.62:435