Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Ecclesiastical History, Dialogues, and Letters of Theodoret.: Synodical letter to the Emperor Jovian concerning the Faith.
Chapter III.—Synodical letter to the Emperor Jovian concerning the Faith.
To Jovianus Augustus most devout, most humane, victorious, Athanasius, and the rest of the bishops assembled, in the name of all the bishops from Egypt to Thebaid, and Libya. The intelligent preference and pursuit of holy things is becoming to a prince beloved of God. Thus may you keep your heart in truth in Gods hand and reign for many years in peace. 669 Since your piety has recently expressed a wish to learn from us the faith of the Catholic Church, we have given thanks to the Lord and have determined before all to remind your reverence of the faith confessed by the fathers at Nicæa. This faith some have set at nought, and have devised many and various attacks on us, because of our refusal to submit to the Arian heresy. They have become founders of heresy and schism in the Catholic Church. The true and pious faith in our Lord Jesus Christ has been made plain to all as it is known and read from the Holy Scriptures. In this faith the martyred saints were perfected, and now departed are with the Lord. This faith was destined everywhere to stand unharmed, had not the wickedness of certain heretics dared to attempt its falsification; for Arius and his party endeavoured to corrupt it and to bring in impiety for its destruction, alleging the Son of God to be of the nonexistent, a creature, a Being made, and susceptible of change. By these means they deceived many, so that even men who seemed to be somewhat, 670 were led away by them. Then our holy Fathers took the initiative, met, as we said, at Nicæa, anathematized the Arian heresy, and subscribed the faith of the Catholic Church so as to cause the putting out of the flames of heresy by proclamation of the truth throughout the world. Thus this faith throughout the whole church was known and preached. But since some men who wished to start the Arian p. 109 heresy afresh have had the hardihood to set at naught the faith confessed by the Fathers at Nicæa, and others are pretending to accept it, while in reality they deny it, distorting the meaning of the ὁμοούσιον and thus blaspheming the Holy Ghost, by alleging it to be a creature and a Being made through the Sons means, we, perforce beholding the harm accruing from blasphemy of this kind to the people, have hastened to offer to your piety the faith confessed at Nicæa, that your reverence may know with what exactitude it is drawn up, and how great is the error of them whose teaching contradicts it. Know, O holiest Augustus, that this faith is the faith preached from everlasting, this is the faith that the Fathers assembled at Nicæa confessed. With this faith all the churches throughout the world are in agreement, in Spain, in Britain, 671 in Gaul, in all Italy and Campania, in Dalmatia and Mysia, in Macedonia, in all Hellas, in all the churches throughout Africa, Sardinia, Cyprus, Crete, Pamphylia and Isauria, and Lycia, those of all Egypt and Libya, of Pontus, Cappadocia and the neighbouring districts and all the churches of the East except a few who have embraced Arianism. Of all those above mentioned we know the sentiments after trial made. We have letters and we know, most pious Augustus, that though some few gainsay this faith they cannot prejudice 672 the decision of the whole inhabited world.
After being long under the injurious influence of the Arian heresy they are the more contentiously withstanding true religion. For the information of your piety, though indeed you are already acquainted with it, we have taken pains to subjoin the faith confessed at Nicæa by these three hundred and eighteen bishops. It is as follows.
We believe in one God, Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, that is of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God: begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made both in Heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven, was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and rose again the third day. He ascended into Heaven, and is coming to judge both quick and dead. And we believe in the Holy Ghost; the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes those who say there was a time when the Son of God was not; that before He was begotten He was not; that He was made out of the non-existent, or that He is of a different essence or different substance, or a creature or subject to variation or change. In this faith, most religious Augustus, all must needs abide as divine and apostolic, nor must any strive to change it by persuasive reasoning and word battles, as from the beginning did the Arian maniacs in their contention that the Son of God is of the non-existent, and that there was a time when He was not, that He is created and made and subject to variation. Wherefore, as we stated, the council of Nicæa anathematized this heresy and confessed the faith of the truth. For they have not simply said that the Son is like the Father, that he may be believed not to be simply like God but very God of God. And they promulgated the term “Homoüsion” because it is peculiar to a real and true son of a true and natural father. Yet they did not separate the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son, but rather glorified It together with the Father and the Son in the one faith of the Holy Trinity, because the Godhead of the Holy Trinity 673 is one.
Scarcely a prophecy, even if we read ἕξεις, “you shall keep;” a bare wish if we read ἔχοις, “may you keep.” Vide preceding note. In Athanasius we find ἕξεις. Valesius says “The latter part of this sentence is wanting in the common editions of Athanasius, and Baronius supposes it to have been added by some Arian, with the object of ridiculing Athanasius as a false prophet. As a fact the reign of Jovian was short. But I see nothing low, spurious or factitious. Athanasius is not in fault because Jovian did not live as long as he had wished.”108:670
Gal. vi. 3109:671
Christianity thus appears more or less constituted in Britain more than 200 years before the mission of Augustine. But by about 208 the fame of British Christianity had reached Tertullian in Africa. The date, that of the first mention of the Church in Britain, indicates a probable connexion of its foundation with the dispersion of the victims of the persecution of the Rhone cities. The phrase of Tertullian, “places beyond the reach of the Romans, but subdued to Christ,” points to a rapid spread into the remoter parts of the island. Vide Rev. C. Holes “Early Missions,” S. P. C. K.109:672
“Τρίας is either the number Three, or a triplet of similar objects, as in the phrase κασιγνήτων τριάς (Rost u. Palms Lexicon. s.v.) In this sense it is applied by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. IV. vii. 55) to the Triad of Christian graces, Faith, Hope, and Charity. As Gregory of Nazianzus says (Orat. xiii. p. 24) Τριὰς οὐ πραγμάτων ἀνίσων ἀπαρίθμησις, ἀλλ᾽ ἴσων καὶ ὁμοτίμων σύλληψις. The first instance of its application to the Three Persons in the one God is in Theophilus of Antioch (Ad Autol. ii. 15)” [†. c. 185] “Similarly the word Trinitas, in its proper force, means either the number Three or a triad. It is first applied to the mystery of the Three in One by Tertullian, who says that the Church proprie et spiritualiter ipse est spiritus, in quo est Trinitas unius divinitatis, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus. De Pudicita 21.” [† c. 240] Archd. Cheetham. Dict. Christ. Biog. S.V.
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