Chapter I.-The Life and Writings of St. Hilary of Poitiers.
St. Hilary of Poitiers is one of the greatest, yet least studied, of the Fathers of the Western Church. He has suffered thus, partly from a certain obscurity in his style of writing, partly from the difficulty of the thoughts which he attempted to convey. But there are other reasons for the comparative neglect into which he has fallen. He learnt his theology, as we shall see, from Eastern authorities, and was not content to carry on and develop the traditional teaching of the West; and the disciple of Origen, who found his natural allies in the Cappadocian school of Basil and the Gregories(1) , his juniors though they were, was speaking to somewhat unsympathetic ears. Again, his Latin tongue debarred him from influence in the East, and he suffered, like all Westerns, from that deep suspicion of Sabellianism which was tooted in the Eastern Churches. Nor are these the only reasons for the neglect of Hilary. Of his two chief works, the Homilies(2) on the Psalms, important as they were in popularising the allegorical method of interpretation, were soon outdone in favour by other commentaries; while his great controversial work on the Trinity suffered from its very perfection for the purpose with which it was composed. It seems, at first sight, to be not a refutation of Arianism, or of any particular phase of Arianism, but of one particular document, the Epistle of Arius to Alexander, in which Arian doctrines are expressed; and that a document which, in the constantly shifting phases of the controversy, soon fell into an oblivion which the work of Hilary has nearly shared. It is only incidentally constructive; its plan follows, in the central portion, that of the production of Arius which he was controverting, and this negative method must have lessened its popularity for purposes of practical instruction, and in competition with such a masterpiece as the De Trinitate of St. Augustine. And furthermore, Hilary never does himself justice. He was a great original thinker in the field of Christology, but he has never stated his views systematically and completely. They have to be laboriously reconstructed by the collection of passages scattered throughout his works; and though he is a thinker so consistent that little or no conjecture is needed for the piecing together of his system, yet we cannot be surprised full justice has never been done to him. He has been regarded chiefly as one of the sufferers from the violence of Constantius, as the composer of a useful conspectus of arguments against Arianism, as an unsuccessful negotiator for an understanding between the Eastern and Western Churches; but his sufferings were as nothing compared to those of Athanasius, while his influence in controversy seems to have been as small as the results of his diplomacy. It is not his practical share, in word or deed, in the conflicts of his day that is his chief title to fame, but his independence and depth as a Christian thinker. He has, indeed, exerted an important influence upon the growth of doctrine, but it has been through the adoption of his views by Augustine and Ambrose; and many who have profited by his thoughts have never known who was their author.
Hilary of Poitiers, the most impersonal of writers, is so silent about himself, he is so rarely mentioned l)y contemporary writers-in all the voluminous works of Athanasius he is never once named,-and the ancient historians of the Church knew so little concerning him beyond what we, as well as they, can learn from his writings, that nothing more than a very scanty narrative can be constructed from these, as seen in the light of the general history of the time and combined with the few notices of him found elsewhere. But the account, though short, cannot be seriously defective. Apart from one or two episodes, it is eminently the history of a mind, and of a singularly consistent mind, whose antecedents we can, in the main, recognise, and whose changes of thought are few, and can be followed.
He was born, probably about the year 300 a.d.(5) . It would require wide special study and knowledge to fix his relation in matters of composition and rhetoric to other writers. But one assertion, that of Jerome(6) , that Hilary was deliberate imitator of the style of Quintilian, cannot be taken seriously. Jerome is the most reckless of writers; and it is at least possible to be somewhat familiar with the writings of both and yet see no resemblance, except in a certain sustained gravity, between them. Another description by Jerome of Hilary as `mounted on Gallic buskin and adorned with flowers of Greece' is suitable enough, as to its first part, to Hilary's dignified rhetoric; the flowers of Greece, if they mean embellishments inserted for their own sake, are not perceptible. In this same passage(7) Jerome goes on to criticise Hilary's entanglement in long periods, which renders him unsuitable for unlearned readers. But those laborious, yet perfectly constructed, sentences are an essential part of his method. Without them he could not attain the effect he desires; they are as deliberate and, in their way, as successful as the eccentricities of Tacitus. But when Jerome elsewhere calls Hilary `the Rhone of Latin eloquence(8) ,' he is speaking at random. It is only rarely that he breaks through his habitual sobriety of utterance; and his rare outbursts of devotion or denunciation are perhaps the more effective because the reader is unprepared to expect them. Such language as this of Jerome shews that Hilary's literary accomplishments were recognised, even though it fails to describe them well. But though he had at his command, and avowedly employed, theresources of rhetoric in order that his words might be as worthy as he could make them of the greatness of his theme(9) , yet some portions of the De Trinitate, and most of the Homilies on the Psalms are written in a singularly equable and almost conversational style, the unobtrusive excellence of which manifests the hand of a clear thinker and a practiced writer. He is no pedant(10) , no laborious imitator of antiquity, distant or near; he abstains, perhaps more completely than any other Christian writer of classical education, from the allusions to the poets which were the usual ornament of prose. He is an eminently businesslike writer; his pages, where they are unadorned, express his meaning with perfect clearness; where they are decked out with antithesis or apostrophe and other devices of rhetoric, they would no doubt, if our training could put us in sympathy with him, produce the effect upon us which he designed, and we must, in justice to him, remember as we read that, in their own kind, they are excellent, and that, whether they aid us or no in entering into his argument, they never obscure his thought. Save in the few passages when corruption exists in the text, it is never safe to assert that Hillary is unintelligible. The reader or translator who cannot follow or render the argument must rather lay the blame upon his own imperfect knowledge of the language and thought of the fourth century. Where he is stating or proving truth, whether well-established or newly ascertained, he is admirably precise; and even in his more dubious speculations he never cloaks a weak argument in ambiguous language. A loftier genius might have given us in language inadequate, through no fault of his own, to the attempt some intimations of remoter truths. We must be thankful to the sober Hilary that he, with his strong sense of the limitations of our intellect, has provided a clear and accurate statement of the case against Arianism, and has widened the bounds of theological knowledge by reasonable deductions from the text of Scripture, usually convincing and always suggestive.
His training as a writer and thinker had certainly been accomplished before his conversion. His literary work done, like that of St. Cyprian, within a few years of middle life, displays, with a somewhat increasing maturity of thought, a steady uniformity of language and idiom, which can only have been acquired in his earlier days. And this assured possession of literary form was naturally accompanied by a philosophical training. Of one branch of a philosophical education, that of logic, there is almost too much evidence in his pages. He is free from the repulsive angularity which sometimes disfigures the pages of Novatian, a writer who had no great influence over him; but in the De Trinitate he too often refuses to trust his reader's intelligence, and insists upon being logical not only in thought but in expression. But, sound premises being given, he may always be expected to draw the right conclusion. He is singularly free from confusion of thought, and never advances to results beyond what his premisses warrant. It is only when a false, though accepted, exegesis misleads him, in certain collateral arguments which may be surrendered without loss to his main theses, that he can be refuted; or again when, in his ventures into new fields of thought, he is unfortunate in the selection or combination of texts. But in these cases, as always, the logical processes are not in fault; his deduction is clear and honest.
Philosophy in those days was regarded as incomplete unless it included some knowledge of natural phenomena, to be used for purposes of analogy. Origen and Athanasius display a considerable interest in, and acquaintance with, physical and physiological matters, and Hilary shares the taste. The conditions of human or animal birth and life and death are often discussed(11) ; he believes in universal remedies for disease(12) , and knows of the employment of anaesthetics in surgery(13) . Sometimes he wanders further afield, as, for instance, in his account of the natural history of the fig-tree(14) and the worm(15) , and in the curious little piece of information concerning Troglodytes and topazes, borrowed, he says, from secular writers, and still to be read in the elder Pliny(16) . Even where he seems to be borrowing, on rare occasions, from the commonplaces of Roman poetry, it is rather with the interest of the naturalist than of the rhetorician, as when he speaks in all seriousness of `Marsian enchantments and hissing vipers lulled to sleep(17) ,' or recalls 1ucan's asps and basilisks of the African desert as a description of his heretical opponents(18) . Perhaps his lost work, twice mentioned by Jerome(19) , against the physician Dioscorus was a refutation of physical arguments against Christianity.
Hilary's speculative thought, like that of every serious adherent of the pagan creed, had certainly been inspired by Neoplatonism. We cannot take the account of his spiritual progress up to the full Catholic faith, which he gives in the beginning of the De Trinitate, and of which we find a less finished sketch in the Homily on Psalm lxi. § 2, as literal history. It is too symmetrical in its advance through steadily increasing light to the perfect knowledge, too well prepared as a piece of literary workmanship-it is indeed an admirable example of majestic prose, a worthy preface to that great treatise-for us to accept it, as it stands, as the record of actual experience. But we may safely see in it the evidence that Hilary had been an earnest student of the best thought of his day, and had found in Neoplatonism not only a speculative training but also the desire, which was to find its satisfaction in the Faith, for knowledge of God, and for union with Him. It was a debt which Origen, his master., shared with him; and it must have been because, as a Neoplatonist feeling after the truth, he found so much of common ground in Origen, that he was able to accept so fully the teaching of Alexandria. But it would be impossible to separate between the lessons which Hilary had learnt from the pagan form of this philosophy, and those which may have been new to him when he studied it in its Christian presentment. Of the influence of Christian Platonism upon him something will be said shortly. At this point we need only mehtion as a noteworthy indication of the fact that Hilary was not unmindful of the debt, that the only philosophy which he specificany attacks is the godless system of Epicurus, which denies creation, declares that the gods do not concern themselves with men, and deifies water or earth or atoms(20) .
It was, then, as a man of mature age, of literary skill and philosophical training, that Hilary approached Christianity. He bad been drawn towards the Faith by desire for a truth which he had not found in philosophy; and his conviction that this truth was Christianity was established by independent study of Scripture, not by intercourse with Christian teachers; so much we may safely conclude from the early pages of the De Trinitate. It must remain doubtful whether the works of Origen, who influenced his thought so profoundly, had fallen into his hands before his conversion, or whether it was as a Christian, seeking for further light upon the Faith, that he first studied them. For it is certainly improbable that he would find among the Christians of his own district many who could help him in intellectual difficulties. The educated classes were still largely pagan, and the Christian body, which was, we may say, unanimously and undoubtingly Catholic, held, without much mental activity, a traditional and inherited faith. Into this body Hilary entered by Baptism, at some unknown date. His age at the time, his employment, whether or no he was married(21) , whether or no he entered the ministry of the Church of Poitiers, can never be known. It is only certain that he was strengthening his faith by thought and study.
He had come to the Faith, St. Augustine says(22) , laden, like Cyprian, Lactantius and others, with the gold and silver and raiment of Egypt; and he would naturally wish to find a Christian employment for the philosophy which he brought with him. If his horizon had been limited to his neighbours in Gaul, he would have found little encouragement and less assistance. The oral teaching which prevailed in the West furnished, no doubt, safe guidance in doctrine, but could not supply reasons for the Faith. And reasons were the one great interest of Hilary. The whole practical side of Christianity as a system of life is ignored, or rather taken for granted and therefore not discussed, in his writings, which are ample enough to be a mirror of his thought. For instance, we cannot doubt that his belief concerning the Eucharist was that of the whole Church. Yet in the great treatise on the Trinity, of which no small part is given to the proof that Christ is God and Man, and that through this union must come the union of man with God, the Eucharist as a means to such union is only once introduced, and that in a short passage, and for the purpose of argument(23) . And altogether it would be as impossible to reconstruct the Christian life and thought of the day from his writings as from those of the half-pagan Arnobius. To such a mind as this the teaching which ordinary Christians needed and welcomed could bring no satisfaction, and no aid towards the interpretation of Scripture. The Western Church was, indeed, in an almost illogical position. Conviction was in advance of argument. The loyal practice of the Faith had led men on, as it were by intuition, to apprehend and firmly hold truths which the more thoughtful East was doubtfully and painfully approaching. Here, again, Hilary would be out of sympathy with his neighbours, and we cannot wonder that in such a doctrine as that of the Holy Spirit he held the conservative Eastern view. Nor were the Latin speaking Churches well equipped with theological literature. The two(24) great theologians who had as yet written in their tongue, Tertullian and Novatian, with the former of whom Hilary was familiar, were discredited by their personal history. St. Cyprian, the one doctor whom the West already boasted, could teach disciplined enthusiasm and Christian morality, but his scattered statements concerning points of doctrine convey nothing more than a general impression of piety and soundness; and even his arrangement, in the Testimonia, of Scriptural evidences was a poor weapon against the logical attack of Arianism. But there is little reason to suppose that there was any general sense of the need of a more systematic theology. Africa was paralysed, and the attention of the Western provinces probably engrossed, by the Donatist strife, into which questions of doctrine did not enter. The adjustment of the relations between Church and State, the instruction and government of the countless ptoselytes who flocked to the Faith while toleration grew into imperial favour, must have needed all the attention that the Church's rulers could give. And these busy years had followed upon a generation of merciless persecution, during which change of practice or growth of thought had been impossible; and the confessors, naturally a conservative force, were one of the dominant powers in the church. We cannot be surprised that the scattered notices in Hilary's writings of points of discipline, and his hortatory teaching, are in no respect different from what we find a century earlier in St. Cyprian. And men who were content to leave the superstructure as they found it were not likely to probe the foundations. Their belief grew in definiteness as the years went on, and faithful lives were rewarded, almost unconsciously, with a deeper insight into truth. But meanwhile they took the Faith as they had received it; one might say, as a matter of course. There was little heresy within the Western Church. Arianismwas never prevalent enough to excite fear, even though repugnance were felt. The Churches were satisfied with faith and life as they saw it within and around them. Their religion was traditional, in no degenerate sense.
But such a religion could not satisfy ardent and logical minds, like those of St. Hilary and his two great successors, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine. To such men it was a necessity of their faith that they should know, and know in its right proportions, the truth so far as it had been revealed, and trace the appointed limits which human knowledge might not overpass. For their own assurance and for effective warfare against heresy a reasoned system of theology was necessary. Hilary, the earliest, had the greatest difficulty. To aid him in the interpretation of Scripture he had only one writer in his own tongue, Tertullian, whose teaching, in the matters which interested Hilary, though orthodox, was behind the times. His strong insistence upon the subordination of the Son to the Father, due to the same danger which still, in the fourth century, seemed in the East the most formidable, was not in harmony with the prevalent thought of the West. Thus Hilary, in his search for reasons for the Faith, was practically isolated; there was little at home which could help him to construct his system. To an intellect so self-reliant as his this may have been no great trial. Scrupulous though he was in confining his speculations within the bounds of inherited and acknowledged truth, yet in matters still undecided he exercised a singularly free judgment, now advancing beyond, now lingering behind, the usual belief of his contemporaries. In following out his thoughts, loyally yet independently, he was conscious that he was breaking what was new ground to his older fellow-Christians, almost as much as to himself, the convert from Paganism. And that he was aware of the novelty is evident from the sparing use which he makes of that stock argument of the old controversialists, the newness of heresy. He uses it, e.g., in Trin. ii. 4, and uses it with effect; but it is far less prominent in him than in others.
For such independence of thought he could find precedent in Alexandrian theology, of which he was obviously a careful student and, in his free use of his own judgment upon it, a true disciple. When he was drawn into the Arian controversy and studied its literature, his thoughts to some extent were modified; but he never ceases to leave upon his reader the impression of an Oriental isolated in the West. From the Christian Platonists of Alexandria(25) come his most characteristic thoughts. They have passed on, for instance, from Philo to him the sense of the importance of the revelation contained in the divine name He that is. His peculiar doctrine of the impassibility of the incarnate Christ is derived, more probably directly than indirectly, from Clement of Alexandria. But it is to Origen that Hilary stands in the closest and most constant relations, now as a pupil, now as a critic. In fact, as we shall see, no small portion of the Homilies on the Psalms, towards the end of the work, is devoted to the controverting of opinions expressed by Origen; and by an omission which is itself a criticism he completely ignores one of that writer's most important contributions to Christian thought, the mystical interpretation of the Song of Songs. It is true that Jerome(26) knew of a commentary on that Book which was doubtfully attributed to Hilary; but if Hilary had once accepted such an exegesis he could not possibly have failed to use it on some of the numerous occasions when it must have suggested itself in the course of his writing, for it is not his habit to allow a thought to drop out of his mind; his characteristic ideas recur again and again. In some cases we can actually watch the growth of Hilary's mind as it emancipates itself from Origen's influence; as, for instance, in his psychology. He begins (Comm. in Matt. v. 8) by holding, with Origen and Tertullian, that the soul is corporeal; in later life he states expressly that this is not the case(27) . Yet what Hilary accepted from Origen is far more important than what he rejected. His strong sense of the dignity of man, of the freedom of the will, his philosophical belief in the inseparable connection of name and thing, the thought of the Incarnation as primarily an obscuring of the Divine glory(28) , are some of the lessons which Origen has taught him. But, above all, it is to him that he owes his rudimentary doctrine concerning the Holy Spirit. Hilary says nothing inconsistent with the truth as it was soon to be universally recognised; but his caution in declining to accept, or at least to state, the general belief of Western Christendom that the Holy Spirit, since Christians are baptized in His Name as well as in that of Father and Son, is God in the same sense as They, is evidence both of his independence of the opinion around him and of his dependence on Origen. Of similar dependence on any other writer or school there is no trace. He knew Tertullian well, and there is some evidence that he knew Hippolytus and Novatian, but his thought was not moulded by theirs; and when, in the maturity of his powers, he became a fellow-combatant with Athanasius and the precursors of the great Cappadocians, his borrowing is not that of a disciple but of an equal.
There is one of St. Hilary's writings, evidently the earliest of those extant and probably the earliest of all, which may be noticed here, as it gives no sign of being written by a Bishop. It is the Commentary on St. Matthew. It is, in the strictest sense, a commentary, and not, like the work upon the Psalms, a series of exegetical discourses. It deals with the text of the Gospel, as it stood in Hilary's Latin version, without comment or criticism upon its peculiarities, and draws out the meaning, chiefly allegorical, not of the whole Gospel, but apparently of lections that were read in public worship. A few pages at the beginning and end are ufortunately lost, but they cannot have contained anything of such importance as to alter the impression which we form of the book. In diction and grammar it is exactly similar to Hilary's later writings; the fact that it is, perhaps, somewhat more stiff in style may be due to self-consciousness of a writer venturing for the first time upon so important a subject. The exegesis is often the same as that of Origen, but a comparison of the several passages in which Jerome mentions this commentary makes it certain that it is not dependent upon him in the same way as are the Homilies on the Psalms and Hilary's lost work upon Job. Yet if he is not in this work the translator, or editor, of Origen, he is manifestly his disciple. We cannot account for the resemblance otherwise. Hilary is independently working out Origen's thoughts on Origen's lines. Origen is not named, nor any other author, except that he excuses himself from expounding the Lord's Prayer on the ground that Tertullian and Cyprian had written excellent treatises upon it(29) . This is a rare exception to his habit of not naming other writers. But, whoever the writers were from whom Hilary drew his exegesis, his theology is his own. There is no immaturity in the thought; every one of his characteristic ideas, as will be seen in the next chapter, is already to be found here. But there is one interesting landmark in the growth of the Latin theological vocabulary, very archaic in itself and an evidence that Hilary had not yet decided upon the terms that he would use. He twice(30) speaks of Christ's Divinity as `the theotes which we call deitas.' In his later writings he consistently uses divinitas, except in the few instances where he is almost forced, to avoid intolerable monotony, to vary it with deitas; and in his commentary he would not have used either of these words, still less would he have used both, unless he were feeling his way to a fixed technical term. Another witness to the early date of the work is the absence of any clear sign that Hilary knew of the existence of Arianism. He knows, indeed, that there are heresies which impugn the Godhead of Christ(31) , and in consequence states that doctrine with great precision, and frequently as well as forcibly. But it has been pointed out(32) that he discusses many texts which served, in the Arian strife, for attack or defence, without alluding to that burning question: and this would have been impossible and, indeed, a dereliction of duty, in Hilary's later life. And there is one passage(33) in which he speaks of God the Father as `He with (or `in') Whom the Word was before He was born.' The Incarnation is spoken of in words which would usually denote the eternal Generation: and if a candid reader could not be misled, yet an opportunity is given to the malevolent which Hilary or, indeed, any careful writer engaged in the Arian controversy would have avoided. The Commentary, then, is an early work, yet in no respect unworthy of its author. But though he had developed his characteristic thoughts before he began to write it, they are certainly less prominent here than in the treatises whichfollowed. It is chiefly remarkable for its display of allegorical ingenuity. Its pages are full of fantastic interpretations of the kind which he had so great a share in introducing into Western Europe(34) . He started by it a movement which he would have been powerless to stop; that he was not altogether satisfied with the principle of allegory is strewn by the more modest use that he made of it when he composed, with fuller experience, the Homilies on the Psalms. It is, perhaps, only natural that there is little allegorism in the De Trinitate. Such a hot-house growth could not thrive in the keen air of controversy. As for the Commentary on St. Matthew, its chief influence has been indirect, in that St. Ambrose made large use of it in his own work upon the same Gospel. The consideration of Hilary's use of Scripture and of the place which it held in his system of theology is reserved for the next chapter, where illustrations from this Commentary are given.
About the year 350 Hilary was consecrated Bishop of Poitiers. So we may infer from his own words(35) that he had been a good while regenerate, and for some little time a bishop, on the eve of his exile in 356 a.d. Whether, like Ambrose, he was raised directly from lay life to the Episcopate cannot be known. It is at least possible that this was the case. His position as a bishop was one of great importance, and, as it must have seemed, free from special difficulties. There was a wide difference between the Church organisation of the Latin-speaking provinces of the Empire (with the exception of Central and Southern Italy and of Africa, in each of which a multitude of insignificant sees were dependent upon the autocracy of Tome and Carthage respectively) and that of the Greek-speaking provinces of the East. In the former there was a mere handful of dioceses, of huge geographical extent; in the latter every town, at least in the more civilised parts, had its bishop. The Western bishops were inevitably isolated from one another, and could exercise none of that constant surveillance over each other's orthodoxy which was, for evil as well as for good, so marked a feature of the Church life of the East. And the very greatness of their position gave them stability. The equipoise of power was too perfect, the hands in which it was vested too few, the men themselves, probably, too statesmanlike, for the Western Church to be infected with that nervous agitation which possessed the shifting multitudes of Eastern prelates, and made them suspicious and loquacious and disastrously eager for compromise. It was, in fact, the custom of the West to take the orthodoxy of its bishops for granted, and an external impulse was necessary before they could be overthrown. The two great sees with which Hilary was in immediate relation were those of Arles and Milan, and both were in Arian hands. But it needed the direct incitation of a hostile Emperor to set Saturninus against Hilary; and it was in vain that Hilary, in the floodtide of orthodox revival in the West, attacked Auxentius. The orthodox Emperor upheld the Arian, who survived Hilary by eight years and died in possession of his see. But this great and secure position of the Western bishop had its drawbacks. Hilary was conscious of its greatness(36) and strove to be worthy of it; but it was a greatness of responsibility to which neither he, nor any other man, could be equal. For in his eyes the bishop was still, as he had been in the little Churches of the past, and still might be in quiet places of the East or South, the sole priest, sacerdos(37) , of his flock. In his exile he reminds the Emperor that he is still distributing the communion through his presbyters to the Church. This survival can have had none but evil results. It put both bishop and clergy in a false position. The latter were degraded by the denial to them of a definite status and rights of their own. Authority without influence and information in lieu of knowledge was all for which the former could hope. And this lack of any organised means of influencing a wide-spread flock-such a diocese as that of Poitiers must have been several times as large as a rural diocese of England-prevented its bishop from creating any strong public opinion within it, unless he were an evangelist with the gifts of a Martin of Tours. It was impossible for him to excite in so unwieldy a district any popular enthusiasm or devotion to himself. Unlike an Athanasius, he could be deported into exile at the Emperor's will with as little commotion as the bishop of some petty half-Greek town in Asia Minor.
During the first years of Hilary's episcopate there was civil turmoil in Gaul, but the Church was at peace. While the Eastern ruler Constantius favoured the Arians, partly misled by unprincipled advisers and partly guided by an unwise, though honest, desire for compromise in the interests of peace, his brother Constans, who reigned in the West, upheld the Catholic cause, to which the immense majority of his clergy and people was attached. He was slain in January, 350, by the usurper Magnentius, who, with whatever motives, took the same side. It was certainly that which would best conciliate his own subjects; but he went further, and attempted to strengthen his precarious throne against the impending attack of Constantius by negotiations with the discontented Nicene Christians of the East. He tried to win over Athallasius, who was, however, too wise to listen; and, in any case, he gained nothing by tampering with the subjects of Constantius. Constantius defeated Magnentius, pursued him, and finally slew him on the 11th August, 353, and was then undisputed master not only of the East but of the West, which he proceeded to bring into ecclesiastical conformity, as far as he could, with his former dominions.
The general history of Arising and the tendencies of Christian thought at this time have been so fully and admirably delineated in the introduction to the translation of St. Athanasius in this series(38) , that it would be superfluous and presumptuous to go over the same ground. It must suffice to say that Constantius was animated with a strong personal hatred against Athanasius, and that the prelates at his court seem to have found their chief employment in intrigues for the expulsion of bishops, whose seats might be filled by friends of their own. Athanasius was a formidable antagonist, from his strong position in Alexandria, even to an Emperor; and Constantius was attempting to weaken him by creating an impression that he was unworthy of the high esteem in which he was held. Even in the East, as yet, the Nicene doctrine was not avowedly rejected; still less could the doctrinal issue be raised in Gaul, where the truths stated in the Nicene Creed were regarded as so obvious that the Creed itself had excited little interest or attention. Hilary at this time had never heard it(39) , though nearly thirty years had passed since the Council decreed it. But there were personal charges against Athanasius, of which he has himself given us a full and interesting account(40) , which had done him, and were to do him, serious injury. They had been disproved publicly and completely more than once, and with great solemnity and apparent finality ten years before this, at Sardica in 343 A-D- But in a distant province, aided by the application of sufficient pressure, they might serve their turn, and if the Emperor could obtain his enemy's condemnation, and that in a region whose theological sympathies were notoriously on his side, a great step would be gained towards his expulsion from Egypt. No time was lost. In October, 353, a Council was called at Arles to consider the charges. It suited Constantius' purpose well that Saturninus of Arles, bishop of the most important see in Gaul, and the natural president, was both a courtier and an Arian. He did his work well. The assembled bishops believed, or were induced to profess that they believed, that the charges against Athanasius were not made in the interests of his theological opponents, and that the Emperor's account of them was true. The decision, condemning the accused, was almost unanimous. Even the representative of Liberius of Tome consented, to be disavowed on his return; and only one bishop, Paulinus of Treves, suffered exile for resistance. He may have been the only advocate for Athanasius, or Constantius may have thought that one example would suffice to terrify the episcopate of Gaul into submission. It is impossible to say whether Hilary was present at the Council or no. It is not probable that he was absent: and his ignorance, even later, on important points in the dispute shows that he may well have given an honest verdict against Athanasius. The new ruler's word had been given that he was guilty; nothing can yet have been known against Constantius and much must have been hoped from him. It was only natural that he should obtain the desired decision. Two years followed, during which the Emperor was too busy with warfare on the frontiers of Gaul to proceed further in the matter of Athanasius. But in the Autumn of 355 he summoned a Council at Milan, a city whose influence over Gaul was so great that it might almost be called the ecclesiastical capital of that country. Here again strong pressure was used, and the verdict given as Constantius desired. Hilary was not present at this Council; he was by this time aware of the motives of Constantius and the courtier bishops, and would certainly have shared in the opposition offered, and probably in the exile inflicted upon three of the leaders in it. These were Dionysius of Milan, who disappears from history, his place being taken by Hilary's future enemy, Auxentius, and Eusebius of Vercelli and Lucifer of Cagliari, both of whom were to make their mark in thefuture.
By this time Hilary had definitely taken his side, and it will be well to consider his relation to the parties in the controversy. And first as to Arianism. As we have seen, Arian prelates were now in possession of the two great sees of Arles and Milan in his own neighbourhood; and Arianisers of different shades, or at least men tolerant of Arianism, held a clear majority of the Eastern bishoprics, except in the wholly Catholic Egypt. But it is certain that, in the West at any rate, the fundamental difference of the Arian from the Catholic position was not generally recognised. Arian practice and Arian practical teaching was indistinguishable from Catholic; and unless ultimate principles were questioned, Catholic clergy might work, and the multitudes of Catholic laity might live and die, without knowing that their bishop's creed was different from their own. The Abbe Duchesne has made the very probable suggestion that the stately Ambrosian ritual of Milan was really introduced from the East by Auxentius, the Arian intruder from Cappadocia, of whom we have spoken(41) . Arian Baptism and the Arian Eucharist were exactly the same as the Catholic. They were not sceptical; they accepted all current beliefs or superstitions, and had their own confessors and workers of miracles(42) . The Bible was common ground to both parties: each professed its confidence that it had the support of Scripture. "No false system ever struck more directly at the life of Christianity than Arianism. Yet after all it held aloft the Lord's example as the Son of Man, and never wavered in its worship of Him as the Son of God(43) ." And the leaders of this school were in possession of many of the great places of the Church, and asserted that they had the right to hold them; that if they had not the sole right, at least they had as good a right as the Catholics, to be bishops, and yet to teach the doctrine that Christ was a creature, not the Son. And what made things worse was that they seemed to be at one with the Catholics, and that it was possible, and indeed almost inevitable, that the multitudes who did not look below the surface should be satisfied to take them for what they seemed. Many of the Arians no doubt honestly thought that their position was a tenable one, and held their offices with a good conscience; but we cannot wonder that men like Athanasius and Hilary, aware of the sophistical nature of many of the arguments used, and knowing that some, at least, of the leaders were unscrupulous adventurers, should have regarded all Arianism and all Arians as deliberately dishonest. It seemed incredible that they could be sincerely at home in the Church, and intolerable that they should have the power of deceiving the people and persecuting true believers. It is against Arianism in the church that Hilary's efforts are directed, not against Arianism as an external heresy. He ignores heresies outside the Church as completely as does Cyprian; they are outside, and therefore he has nothing to do with them. But Arianism, as represented by an Auxentius or a Saturninus, is an internum malum(44) ; and to the extirpation of this `inward evil' the remaining years of his life were to be devoted.
His own devotion, from the time of his conversion to the Catholic Faith, which almost all around him held, was not the less sincere because it did not find its natural expression in the Nicene Creed. That document, which primarily concerned only bishops, and them only when their orthodoxy was in question, was hardly known in the West, where the bishops had as yet had little occasion for doubting one another's faith. Hilary had never heard it,-he can hardly have avoided hearing of it,-till just before his exile. In his earlier conflicts he rarely- mentions it, and when he does it is in connection with the local circumstances of the East. In later life he, with Western Christendom at large, recognised its value as a rallying point for the faithful; but even then there is no attachment to the Creed for its own sake. It might almost seem that the Creed, by his defence of which Athanasius has earned such glory, owed its original celebrity to him rather than he to it. His unjust persecution and heroic endurance excited interest in the symbol of which he was the champion. If it were otherwise, there has been a strange conspiracy of silence among Western theologians. In their great works on the Trinity, Hilary most rarely, and Augustine never, allude to it; the Council of Aquileia, held in the same interests and almost at the same time as that of Constantinople in 381, absolutely ignores it(45) . The Creed, in the year 355, was little known in the West and unpopular in the East. Even Athanasius kept it somewhat in the background, from reasons of prudence, and Hilary's sympathies, as we shall see, were with the Eastern School which could accept the truth, though they disliked this expression of it.
The time had now come for Hilary, holding these views of Arianism and of the Faith, to take an active part in the conflict. We have seen that he was not at Milan; he was therefore not personally compromised, but the honour of the Church compelled him to move. He exerted himself to induce the bishops of Gaul to withdraw from communion with Saturninus, and with Ursacius and Valens, disciples of Arius during his exile on the banks of the Danube thirty years before, and now high in favour with Constantius, and his ministers, we might almost say, for the ecclesiastical affairs of the Western provinces. We do not know how many bishops were enlisted by Hilary against Saturninus. It is probable that not many would follow him in so bold a venture; even men of like mind with himself might well think it unwise. It was almost a revolutionary act; an importation of the methods of Eastern controversy into the peaceful West, for this was not the constitutional action of a synod but the private venture of Hilary and his allies. However righteous and necessary, in the interests of morality and religion, their conduct may have seemed to them, to Constantius and his advisers it must have appeared an act of defiance to the law, both of Church and State. And Hilary would certainly not win favour with the Emperor by his letter of protest, the First Epistle to Constantius, written about the end of the year 355. He adopts the usual tone of the time, that of exaggerated laudation and even servility towards the Emperor. Such language was, of course, in great measure conventional; we know from Cicero's letters how little superlatives, whether of flattery or abuse, need mean, and language had certainly not grown more sincere under the Empire. The letter was, in fact, a singularly bold manifesto, and one which Hilary himself must have foreseen was likely to bring upon him the punishment which had befallen the recusants at Arles and Milan. He begins (§ I) in studiously general terms, making no mention of the provinces in which the offenses were being committed, with a complaint of the tyrannical interference of civil officers in religious matters. If there is to be peace (§ 2), there must be liberty; Catholics must not be forced to become Arians. the voice of resistance was being raised; men were beginning to say that it was better to die than to see the faith defiled at the bidding of an individual. Equity required that God-fearing men should not suffer by compulsory intercourse with the teachers of execrable blasphemy, but be allowed bishops whom they could obey with a good conscience. Truth and falsehood, light and darkness could not combine. He entreated the Emperor to allow the people to choose for themselves to what teachers they would listen, with whom they would join in the Eucharist and in prayer for him. Next (§ 3) he denies that there is any purpose of treason, or any discontent. The only disturbance is that caused by Arian propagators of heresy, who are busily engaged in misleading the ignorant. He now (§ 4) prays that the excellent bishops who have been sent into exile may be restored; liberty and joy would be the result. Then (§ 5) he attacks the modern and deadly Arian pestilence. Borrowing, somewhat incautiously, the words of the Council of Sardica, now twelve years old, he gives a list of Arian chiefs which ends with "those two ignorant and unprincipled youths, Ursacius and Valens." Communion with such men as these, even communion in ignorance, is a participation in their guilt, a fatal sin. He proceeds, in § 6, to combine denunciation of the atrocities committed in Egypt with a splendid plea for liberty of conscience; it is equally vain and wicked to attempt to drive men into Arianism, and an enforced faith is, in any case, worthless. The Arians (§ 7) were themselves legally convicted long ago and Athanasius acquitted; it is a perversion of justice that the condemned should now be intriguing against oneso upright and so faithful to the truth. And lastly (§ 8) he comes to the wrong just done at Milan, and tells the well-known story of the violence practiced upon Eusebius of Vercelli and others in the `Synagogue of malignants,' as he calls it. Here also he takes occasion to speak of Paulinus of Treves, exiled for his resistance at Arles two years before, where he "had withstood the monstrous crimes of those men." The conclusion of the letter is unfortunately lost, and there are one or more gaps in the body of it; these, we may judge, would only have made it more unacceptable to Constantius.
It was, indeed, from the Emperor's point of view, a most provocatory Epistle. He and his advisers were convinced that compromise was the way of peace. They had no quarrel with the orthodoxy of the West, if only that orthodoxy would concede that Arianisers were entitled to office in the Church, or would at least be silent; and they were animated by a persistent hatred of Athanasius. Moreover, the whole tendency of thought, since Constantine began to favour the Church, had run towards glorification of the Emperor as the vice-regent of God; and the orthodox had had their full share in encouraging the idea. That a bishop, with no status to justify his interference, should renounce communion with his own superior, the Emperor's friend, at Arles; should forbid the officers of state to rneddle in the Church's affairs, and demand an entirely new thing, recognition by the state as lawful members of the Church while yet they rejected the prelates whom the state recognised; should declare that peace was impossible because the conflicting doctrines were as different as light and darkness, and that the Emperor's friends were execrable heretics; should assert, while denying that he or his friends had any treasonable purpose, that men were ready to die rather than submit; should denounce two Councils, lawfully held, and demand reinstatement of those who had opposed the decision of those Councils; should, above all, take the part of Athanasius, now obviously doomed to another exile;-all this must have savoured of rebellion. And rebellion was no imaginary danger. We have seen that Magnentius had tried to enlist Athanasius on his side against the Arian Emperor. Constantius was but a new ruler over Gaul, and had no claim, through services rendered, to its loyalty. He might reasonably construe Hilary's words into a threat that the orthodox of Gaul would, if their wishes were disregarded, support an orthodox pretender. And there was a special reason for suspicion. At this very time Constantius had just conferred the government of the West upon his cousin Julian, who was installed as Caesar on the 6th November, 355. From the first, probably, Constantius distrusted Julian, and Julian certainly distrusted Constantius. Thus it might well seem that the materials were ready for an explosion; that a disloyal Caesar would find ready allies in discontented Catholics.
We cannot wonder that Hilary's letter had no effect upon the policy of Constantius. It is somewhat surprising that several months elapsed before he was punished. In the spring of the year 356 Saturninus presided at a Council held at Beziers, at which Hilary was, he tells us, compelled to attend. In what the compulsion consisted we do not know. It may simply have been that he was summoned to attend; a summons which he could not with dignity refuse, knowing, as he must have done, that charges would be brought against himself. Of the proceedings of the Synod we know little. The complaints against Hilary concerned his conduct, not his faith. This latter was, of course, above suspicion, and it was not the policy of the court party to attack orthodoxy in Gaul. He seems to have been charged with exciting popular discontent; and this, as we have seen, was an accusation which his own letter had rendered plausible. He tried to raise the question of the Faith, challenging the doctrine of his opponents. But though a large majority of a council of Gallic bishops would certainly be in sympathy with him, he had no success. Their position was not threatened; Hilary, like Paulinus, was accused of no doctrinal error, and these victims of Constantius, if they had raised no questions concerning their neighbours' faith and made no objections to the Emperor's tyranny, might also have passed their days in peace. The tone of the episcopate in Gaul was, in fact, by no means heroic. If we may trust Sulpicius Severus(46) , in all these Councils the opposition was prepared to accept the Emperor's word about Athanasius, and excommunicate him, if the general question of the Faith might be discussed. But the condition was evaded, and the issue never frankly raised; and, if it was cowardly, it was not unnatural that Hilary should have been condemned by the Synod, and condemned almost unanimously. Only Rodanius of Toulouse was punished with him; the sufferers would certainly have been more numerous had there been any strenuous remonstrance against the injustice. The Synod sent their decision to the Caesar Julian, their immediate ruler. Julian took no action; he may have felt that the matter was too serious for him to decide without reference to the Emperor, but it is more likely that he had no wish to outrage the dominant Church feeling of Gaul and alienate sympathies which he might need in the future. In any case he refused to pass a sentence which he must have known would be in accordance with the Emperor's desire; and the vote of the Synod, condemning Hilary, was sent to Constantius himself. He acted upon it at once, and in the summer of the same year, 356, Hilary was exiled to the diocese, or civil district comprising several provinces, of Asia.
We now come to the most important period of Hilary's life. He was already, as we have seen, a Greek scholar and a follower of Greek theology. He was now to come into immediate contact with the great problems of the day in the field on which they were being constantly debated. And he was well prepared to take his part. He had formed his own convictions before he was acquainted with hemoousion, homoiousion or the Nicene Creed(47) . He was therefore in full sympathy with Athanasius on the main point. And his manner of treating the controversy shews that the policy of Athanasius was also, in a great measure, his. Like Athanasius, he spares Marcellus as much as possible. We know that Athanasius till the end refused to condemn him, though one of the most formidable weapons in the armoury of the Anti-Nicene party was the conjunction in which they could plausibly put their two names, as those of the most strenuous opponents of Arianism. Similarly Hilary never names Marcellus(48) , as he never names Apollinaris, though he had the keenest sense of the danger involved in either heresy, and argues forcibly and often against both. Like Athanasius again, he has no mercy upon Photinus the disciple, while he spares Marcellus the master; and it is a small, though clear, sign of dependence that he occasionally applies Athanasius' nickname of Ariomanitae, or `Arian lunatics,' to his opponents. It is certain that Hilary was familiar with the writings of Athanasius, and borrowed freely from them. But so little has yet been done towards ascertaining the progress of Christian thought and the extent of each writer's contribution to it, that it is impossible to say which arguments were already current and may have been independently adopted by Hilary and by Athanasius, and for which the former is indebted to the latter(49) . Yet it is universally recognised that the debt exists; and Hilary's greatness as a theologian(50) , his mastery of the subject, would embolden him to borrow and adapt the more freely that he was dealing as with an equal and a fellow-combatant in the same cause.
Athanasius and Hilary can never have met face to face. But the eyes and the agents of Athanasius were everywhere, and he must have known something of the exile and of the services of Hilary, who was, of course, well acquainted with the history of Athanasius, though, with the rest of Gaul, he may not have been whole-hearted in his defence. And now he was the more likely to be drawn towards him because this was the time of his approximation to the younger generation of the Conservative School. For it is with them that Hilary's affinities are closest and most obvious. The great Cappadocians were devoted Origenists-we know the service they rendered to their master by the publication of the Philocalia,-and there could be no stronger bond of union between Hilary and themselves. They were the outgrowth of that great Asiatic school to which the name of Semiarians, somewhat unkind1y given by Epiphanius, has clung, and which was steadily increasing in influence over the thought of Asia, the dominant province, at this time, of the whole Empire. Gregory of Nazianzus, the eldest of the three great writers, was probably not more than twenty-five years of age when Hilary was sent into exile, and none of them can have seriously affected even his latest works. But they represented, in a more perfect form, the teaching of the best men of the Conservative School; and when we find that Hilary, who was old enough to be the father of Basil and the two Gregories, has thoughts in common with them which are not to be found in Athanasius, we may safely assign this peculiar teaching to the influence upon Hilary, predisposed by his loyalty to Origen to listen to the representatives of the Origenist tradition, of this school of theology. We see one side of this influence in Hilary's understatement of the doctrine of the Holy Ghost. The Semiarians were coming to be of one mind with the Nicenes as to the consubstantial Deity of the Son; none of them, in all probability, at this time would have admitted the consubstantial Deity of the Spirit, and the unity of their School was to be wrecked in future years upon this point. The fact that Hilary could use language so reserved upon this subject must have led them to welcome his alliance the more heartily. Neither he nor they could foresee the future of the doctrine, and both sides must have sincerely thought that they were at one. And, indeed, on Hilary's part there was a great willingness to believe in this unity, which led him, as we shall see, into an unfortunate attempt at ecclesiastical diplomacy Another evidence of contact with this Eastern School, but at its most advanced point, is the remarkable expression, `Only-begotten God,' which Hilary `employs with startling freedom, evidently as the natural expression of his own inmost thought(51) .' Dr. Hort, whose words these are, states that the term is used by Athanasius only twice, once in youth and once in old age; but that, on the other hand, it is familiar to two of the Cappadocians, Basil and Gregory of Nyssa. They must have learned it from some Asiatic writer known to Hilary as a contemporary, to them as successors. And when we find Hilary(52) rejecting the baptism of heretics, and so putting himself in opposition to what had been the Roman view for a century and that of Gaul since the Council of Arles in 314, and then find this opinion echoed by Gregtory of Nazianzus(53) , we are reminded not only of Hilary's general independence of thought, but of the circumstance that St. Cyprian found his stoutest ally in contesting this same point in the Cappadocian Firmilian. A comparison of the two sets of writings would probably lead to the discovery of more coincidences than have yet been noticed; of the fact itself, of `the Semiarian influence so visible in the De Synodis of Hilary, and even in his own later work(54) ,' there can be no doubt.
With these affinities, with an adequate knowledge of the Greek language and a strong sympathy, as well as a great familiarity, with Greek modes of thought, Hilary found himself in the summer of the year 356 an exile in Asia Minor. It was exile in the most favourable circumstances. He was still bishop of Poitiers, recognised as such by the government, which only forbade him, for reasons of state ostensibly not connected with theology, to reside within his diocese. He held free communication with his fellow-bishops in Gaul, and was allowed to administer his own diocese, so far as administration by letter was possible, without interruption. And his diocese did not forget him. We learn from Sulpicius Severus(55) that he and the others of the little band of exiles, who had suffered at Arles, and Milan, and Beziers, were the heroes of the day in their own country. That orthodox bishops should suffer for the Faith was a new thing in the West; we cannot wonder that subsidies were raised for their support and delegations sent to assure them of the sympathy of their flocks. To a man like Hilary, of energy and ability, of recognised episcopal rank unimpeached orthodoxy, the position offered not less but more opportunities of service than hitherto he had enjoyed. For no restriction was put upon his movements, so long as he kept within the wide bounds allotted him. He had perfect leisure for travel or for study, the money needed for the expense of his journeys, and something of the glory, still very real, with which the confessor was invested. And his movements were confined to the very region where he could learn most concerning the question of the hour, and do most for its solution. In fact, in sending Hilary into such an exile as this, Constantius had done too much, or too little; he had injured, and not advanced, his own favourite cause of unity by way of compromise. In this instance, as in those of Arius and Athallasius and many others, exile became an efficacious means for the spreading and strengthening of convictions. If Hilary had no great success, as we shall see, in the Council which he attended, yet his presence, during these critical years, in a region where men were gradually advancing to the fuller truth cannot have been without influence upon their spiritual growth; and his residence in Asia no doubt confirmed and enriched his own apprehension of the Faith.
It is certain that Hilary was busily engaged in writing his great work upon the Trinity, and that some parts of it were actually published, during his exile. But as this work in its final form would appear to belong to the next stage of Hilary's life, it will be well to postpone its consideration for the present, and proceed at once to his share in the conciliar action of the time. We have no information concerning his conduct before the year 358, but it is necessary to say something about the important events which preceded his publication of the De Synodis and his participation in the Council of Seleucia.
It was a time when new combinations of parties were being formed. Arianism was shewing itself openly, as it had not dared to do since Nicaea. In 357 Hilary's adversaries, Ursacius and Valens, in a Synod at Sirrnium, published a creed which was Arian without concealment; it was, indeed, as serious a blow to the Emperor's policy of compromise as anything that Athanasius or Hilary had ventured. But it was the work of friends of the Emptier, and shewed that, for the moment at any rate, the Court had been won over to the extreme party. But the forces of Conservatism were still the strongest. Within a few months, early in 358, the great Asiatic prelates, soon to be divided over the question of the Godhead of the Holy Spirit but still at one, Basil of Ancyra, Macedonius and others, met at Ancyra and repudiated Arianism while ignoring, after their manner, the Nicene definition. Then their delegates proceeded to the Court, now at Sirmium, and won Constantius back to his old position. Ursacius and Valens, who had no scruples, signed a Conservative creed, as did the weak Liberius of Tome, anxious to escape from an exile to which he had been consigned soon after the banishment of Hilary. It was a great triumph to have induced so prominent a bishop to minimise- we cannot say that he denied-his own belief and that of the Western churches. And the Asiatic leaders were determined to have the spoils of victory. Liberius, of course, was allowed to return home, for he had proved compliant, and the Conservatives had no quarrel with those who held the homoousion. But the most prominent of the Arian leaders, those who had the courage of their conviction, to the number, it is said, of seventy, were exiled. It is true that Constantius was quickly persuaded by other influences to restore them; but the theological difference was embittered by the sense of personal injury, and further conflicts rendered inevitable between Conservatives and Arians.
It was with this Conservative party, victorious for the moment, that Hilary had to deal. Its leaders, and especially Basil of Ancyra, had the ear of the Emperor, and seemed to hold the future of the Church in their hands. Hilary was on friendly terms with Basil, with whom, as we have seen, he had much in common, and corresponded on his behalf with the Western Bishops. He was, indeed, by the peculiar combination in him of the Eastern and the Western, perhaps the only man who could have played the part he undertook. He was thoroughly and outspokenly orthodox, yet had no prejudice in favour of the Nicene definition. He would have been content, like the earlier generation of Eastern bishops, with a simple formulary; the Apostles' Creed, the traditional standard of the West, satisfied the exigencies even of his own precise thought. And if a personal jealousy of Athanasius and his school on the part of the Asiatic Conservatives was one of the chief obstacles to peace, here again Hilary had certain advantages. We have seen that there was no personal communication between him and Athanasius; he could ignore, and may even have been ignorant of, the antipathy of Asia to Alexandria. And he was no absolute follower of Athanasius' teaching. We saw that in some important respects he was an independent thinker, and that in others he is on common ground with the Cappadocians, the heirs of the best thought of such men as Basil of Ancyra. Nor could he labour under any suspicion of being involved in the heresy of Marcellus. It was an honourable trardition of Eastern Christendom to guard against the recrudescence of such heresy as his, which revived the fallacies of Paul of Samosata and of Sabellius, and seemed in Asia the most formidable of all possible errors. Marcellus had forged it as a weapon in defence of the Nicene faith; and if his doctrine were among the most formidable antagonists of Arianism, it may well have seemed that there was not much to choose between the two. And while Athallasius had never condemned Marcellus, and the West had more than once pronounced him innocent, the general feeling of the East was decisively against him, and deeply suspicious of any appearance of sympathy with him. And further, by one of those complications of personal with theological opposition which were so sadly frequent, Basil was in possession of that very see of Ancyra from which the heretic Marcellus had been expelled. Hilary, who was unconcerned in all this, saw a new hope for the Church in his Asiatic friends, and his own tendencies of thought must have been a welcome surprise to them, accustomed as they were to suspect Sabellianism in the West. The prospect, indeed, was at first sight a fair one. The faith, it seemed, might be upheld by imperial support, now that it had advocates who were not prejudiced in the Emperor's eyes as was Athanasius; and Athanasius himself, accredited by the testimony of Asia, might recover his position. Yet Hilary was building on an unsound foundation. The Semiarian party was not united. Hilary may not have suspected, or may, in his zeal for the cause, have concealed from himself the fact, that in the doctrine of the Holy Ghost there lay the seeds of a strife which was soon to divide his allies as widely as Arius was separated from Athanasius. And these allies, as a body, were not worthy supporters of the truth. There were many sincere men among them, but these were mixed with adventurers, who used the conflict as a means of attaining office, with as few scruples as any of the other prelates who hung around the court. But the fatal obstacle to success was that the whole plan depended on the favour of Constantius. For the moment Basil and his friends possessed this, but their adversaries were men of greater dexterity and fewer scruples than they. Valens and Ursacius and their like were doing their utmost to retrieve defeat and enjoy revenge. It is significant that Athanasius, as it seems, had no share in Hilary's hopes and schemes for drawing East and West together. He had an unrivalledknowledge of the circumstances, and an open mind, willing to see good in the Semiarians; had the plan contained the elements of success it would have received his warm support.
Hilary threw himself heartily into it. He travelled, we know, extensively; so much so, that his letters from Gaul failed to reach him in the year 358. This was a serious matter. We have seen that the exiles from the West had derived great support from their flocks. Hilary's own weight as a negotiator must have depended upon the general knowledge that he did not stand alone, but represented the public opinion of a great province. For this reason, as well as for his own peace of mind, it must have been a welcome relief to him to learn, when letters came at last, that his friends had not forgotten or deserted him; and he seized the opportunity of reply to send to the bishops of all the Gallic provinces and of Britain the circular letter which we call the De Synodis, translated in this volume. The Introduction to it, here given, makes it unnecessary to describe its contents. It may suffice to say that it is an able and well-written attempt to explain the Eastern position to Western theologians. He shews that the Eastern creeds, which had been composed since the Nicene, were susceptible of an orthodox meaning, and felicitously brings out their merits by contrast with the unmitigated heresy of the second creed of Sirmium, which he cites at full length. It must be admitted that there is a certain amount of special pleading; that his eyes are resolutely shut to any other aspect of the documents than that which he is commending to the attention of his readers in Gaul. And he is as boldly original in his rendering of history as of doctrine. He actually describes the Council of the Dedication, which confirmed the deposition of Athanasius and propounded a compromising creed, definitely intended to displace the Nicene, as an `assembly of the saints(56) .' The West, we know, cared little for Eastern disputes and formularies. There can have been no great risk that Hilary's praise should revolt the minds of his friends, and as little hope that it would excite any enthusiasm among them. This description, and a good deal else in the De Synodis, was obviously meant to be read in the land where it was written. When all possible allowance is made for his sympathy with the best men among the Asiatics, and for the hopefulness with which he might naturally regard his allies, it is still impossible to think that he was quite sincere in asserting that their object in compiling ambiguous creeds was the suppression of Sabellianism and not the rejection of the homoousion. Yet it was natural enough that he should write as he did, for the prospect must have seemed most attractive. If this open letter could convince the Eastern bishops that they were regarded in the West not with suspicion, as teachers of the inferiority of Christ, but with admiration, as steadfast upholders of His reality, a great step was made towards union. And if Hilary could persuade his brethren in Gaul that the imperfect terms in which the East was accustomed to express its faith in Christ were compatible with sound belief, an approach could be made from that side also. And in justice to Hilary we must bear in mind that he does not fall into the error of Liberius. It was a serious fault for a Western bishop to abandon words which were, for him and for his Church, the recognised expression of the truth; it was a very different matter to argue that inadequate terms, in the mouth of those who were unhappily pledged to the use of them, might contain the saving Faith. This latter is the argument which Hilary uses. He urges the East to advance to the definiteness of the Nicene confession; he urges the West to welcome the first signs of such an advance, and meantime to recognise the truth that was half-concealed in their ambiguous documents. The attempt was a bold one, and met, as was inevitable, with severe criticism from the side of uncompromising orthodoxy, which we may for the moment leave unnoticed. What Athanasius thought of the treatise we do not know; itwould be unsafe to conjecture that his own work, which bears the same title and was written in the following year, when the futility of the hope which had buoyed Hilary up had been demonstrated, was a silent criticism upon the De Synodis of the other. It is, at least, a success in itself, and was a step towards the ultimate victory of truth; we cannot say as much of Hilary's effort, admirable though its intention was, and though it must have contributed something to the softening of asperities. But Alexandria and Gaul were distant, and while the one excited repugnance in the Emperor's mind, the other had little influence with him. The decision seemed to lie in the hands of Basil of Ancyra and his colleagues. The men who had the ear of Constantius, and had lately induced him to banish the Arians, must in consistency use their influence for the restoration of exiles who were suffering for their opposition to Arianism; and this influence, if only the West would heartily join with them, would be strong enough to secure even the restoration of Athanasius. Such thoughts were certainly present in the mind of Hilary when he painted so bright a picture of Eastern Councils, and represented Constantius as an innocent believer, once misguided but now returned to the Faith(57) . From the Semiarian leaders, controlling the policy of Constantius, he expected peace for the Church, restoration of the exiles, the suppression of Arianism. And if to some extent he deceived himself, and was willing to believe and to persuade others that men's faith and purpose differed from what in fact it was, we must remember that it was a time of passionate earnestness, when cool judgment concerning friend or foe was almost impossible for one who was involved in that great conflict concerning the Divinity of Christ.
But the times were not ripe for an understanding between East and West, and the Asiatics in whom Hilary had put his trust were not, and did not deserve to be, the restorers of the Church. Their victory had been complete, but the Emperor was inconstant and their adversaries were men of talent, who had once guided his counsels and knew how to recover their position. The policy of Constantius was, as we know, one of compromise, and it might seem to him that the prevailing confusion would cease if only a sufficiently comprehensive formula could be devised and accepted. `Specious charity and colourless indefiniteness(58) ' was the policy of the new party, formed by Valens and Arians of every shade, which won the favour of Constantius within a year of the Semiarian victory. They had been mortified, had been forced to sign a confession which they disbelieved, many of them had suffered a momentary exile. Now they were to have their revenge; not only were the terms of communion to be so lax that extreme Arianism should be at home within the Church, but, as in a modern change of ministry, the Semiarians were to yield their sees to their opponents. To attain these ends a Council was necessary. The general history of the Homoean intrigues, of their division of the forces opposed to them by the assembling of a Western Council at Rimini, of an Eastern at Seleucia, and their apparent triumph, gained by shameless falsehood, in the former, would be out of place. Hilary and his Asiatic friends were concerned only with the Council which met at Seleucia in September, 359. The Emperor, who hoped for a final settlement, desired that the Council should be as large as possible, and the governors of provinces exerted themselves to collect bishops, and to forward them to Seleucia, as was usual, at the public expense. Among the rest, Hilary, who was, we must remember, a bishop with a diocese of his own, and of unimpugned orthodoxy, exiled ostensibly for a political offence, received orders to attend at the cost of the State(59) . In the Council, which numbered some 160 bishops, his Semiarian friends were in a majority of three to one; the uncompromising Nicenes of Egypt and the uncompromising Arians, taken together, did not number more than a quarter of the whole. Hilary was welcomed heartily and, as it would seem, unanimously; but he had to disclaim, on behalf of the Church in Gaul, the Sabellianism of which it was suspected, and with some reason after the Western welcome of Marcellus. He stated his faith to the satisfaction of the Council in accordance with the Nicene confession(60) , We cannot doubt that he made use of its very words, for Hilary was not the man to retreat from the position he held, and the terms of his alliance with the school of Basil of Ancyra required no such renunciation. The proceedings of the Council, in which Hilary took no public part, may be omitted. The Semiarians, strong in numbers and, as they still thought, in the Emperor's favour, swept everything before them. They adopted the ambiguous creed of the Council of the Dedication,-that Council which Hilary had lately called an `assembly of the Saints'-for the Nicenes were a powerless minority; and they repeated their sentence of excommunication upon the Arians, who were still fewer in number. They even ventured to consecrate a successor to Eudoxius, one of the most extreme, for the great Church of Antioch. Then the Council elected a commission of ten of the leaders of the majority to present to the Emperor a report of its proceedings, and dispersed. In spite of some ominous signs of obstinacy on the part of the Arians, and of favour towards them shown by the government officials, they seemed to have succeeded in establishing still more firmly the results attained at Ancyra two years before, and to have struck another and, as they might hope, a more effectual blow at the heretics.
But when the deputation, with whom Hilary travelled, reached Constantinople, they found that the position was entirely different from their expectation. The intriguing party, whose aim was to punish and displace the Semiarians, had contrived a double treason. They misrepresented the Western Council to the Emperor as in agreement with themselves; and they sacrificed their more honest colleagues in Arianism. They hated those who, like Basil of Ancyra, maintained the homoeousion, the doctrine that the Son is of like nature with the Father; the Emperor sincerely rejected the logical Arianism which said that He is of unlike nature. They abandoned their friends in order to induce Constantius to sacrifice his old Semiarian advisers; and proposed with success their new Homoean formula, that the Son is `like the Father in all things, as Scripture says.' His nature is not mentioned; the last words were a concession to the scruples of the Emperor. We shall see presently that this rupture with the consistent Arians is a matter of some importance for the dating of Hilary's De Trinitate; for the present we must follow the fortunes of himself and his allies. He had journeyed with them to Constantinople. This was, apparently, a breach of the order given him to confine himself to the diocese of Asia; but he had already been commanded to go to Seleucia, which lay beyond those limits, and his journey to Constantinople may have been regarded as a legitimate sequel to his former journey. In any case he was not molested, and was allowed to appear, with the deputation from Seleucia, at the Court of Constantius. For the last two months of the year 359 the disputes concerning the Faith still continued. But the Emperor was firm in his determination to bring about a compromise which should embrace every one who was not an extreme and conscientious Arian, and the Homoean leaders supported him ably and unscrupulously. They falsified the sense of the Council of Rimini and denied their own Arianism, and Constantius backed them up by threats against the Seleucian deputation. Hilary, of course, had no official position, and could speak only for himself. The Western Church seemed to have decided against its own faith, and the decision of the East, represented by the ten delegates, was not yet declared, though it must have been probable that they would succumb to the pressure exercised upon them, and desert their own convictions and those of the Council whose commission they held. In these circumstances Hilary had the courage, which we cannot easily overestimate, to make a personal appeal to Constantius(61) . It is evident that as yet he is hopeful, or at least that he thinks it worth while to make an attempt. He writes with the same customary humility which we found in his former address to the Emperor. Constantius is `most pious,' `good and religious,' `most gracious,' and so forth. The sincerity of the appeal is manifest; Hilary still believes, or is trying to believe, that the Emperor, who had so lately been on the side of Basil of Ancyra and his friends, and had at their instigation humiliated and exiled their opponents, has not transferred his favour once more to the party of Valens. The address is written with great dignity of style and of matter. Hilary begins by declaring that the importance of his theme is such that it enforces attention, however insignificant the speaker may be; yet (§ 2) his position entitles him to speak. He is a bishop, in communion with all the churches and bishops of Gaul, and to that very day distributing the Eucharist by the hands of his presbyters to his own Church. He is in exile, it is true, but he is guiltless; falsely accused by designing men who had gained the Emperor's ear. He appeals to Julian's knowledge of his innocence; indeed, the malice of his opponents had inflicted less of suffering upon himself than of discredit upon the administration of Julian, under which he had been condemned.The Emperor's rescript sentencing Hilary to exile was public; it was notorious that the charges upon which the sentence was based were false. Saturninus, the active promoter, if not the instigator, of the attack, was now in Constantinople. Hilary confidently promises to demonstrate that the proceedings were a deception of Constantius, and an insult to Julian; if he fails, he will no longer petition to be allowed to return to the exercise of his office, but will retire to pass the rest of his days as a layman in repentance. To this end he asks to be confronted with Saturninus (§ 3), or rather takes for granted that Constantius will do as he wishes. He leaves the Emperor to determine all the conditions of the debate, in which, as he repeats, he will wring from Saturninus the confession of his falsehood. Meanwhile he promises to be silent upon the subject till the appointed time. Next, he turns to the great subject of the day. The world's danger, the guilt of silence, the judgment of God, fill him with fear; he is constrained to speak when his own salvation and that of the Emperor and of mankind is at stake, and encouraged by the consciousness of multitudes who sympathise with him. He bids the Emperor (§ 4) call back to his mind the Faith which (so he says) Constantius is longing in vain to hear from his bishops. Those whose duty is to proclaim the Faith of God are employed, instead, in composing faiths of their own, and so they revolve in an endless circle of error and of strife. The sense of human infirmity ought to have made them content to hold the Faith in the same form of words in which they had received it. At their baptism they had professed and sworn their faith, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; doubt or change are equine unlawful. Yet men were using the sacred words while they dishonestly assigned to them another meaning, or even were daring to depart from them. Thus to some the three sacred Names were empty terms. Hence innovations in the statement of the Faith; the search for novelties took the place of loyalty to ancient truth, and the creed of the year displaced the creed of the Gospels. Every one framed his confession according to his own desire or his own character; while creeds were multiplying, the one Faith was perishing. Since the Council of Nicaea (§ 5) there had been no end to this writing of creeds. So busily were men wrangling over words, seeking novelties, debating knotty points, forming factions and pursuing ambitions, refusing to agree and hurling anathemas at one another, that almost all had drifted away from Christ. The confusion was such that none could either teach or learn in safety. Within the last year no less than four contradictory creeds had been promulgated. There was no single point of the Faith which they or their fathers had held upon which violent hands had not been laid. And the pitiful creed which for the moment held the field was that the Son is `like the Father'; whether this likeness w ere perfect or imperfect was left in obscurity. The result of constant change and ceaseless dispute was self-contradiction and mutual destruction. This search for a faith (§ 6) involved the assumption that the true Faith was not ready to the believer's hand. They would have it in writing, as though the heart were not its place. Baptism implied the Faith and was useless without its acceptance; to teach a new Christ after Baptism, or to alter the Faith then declared, was sin against the Holy Ghost. The chief cause of the continuance of the present blasphemy was the love of applause; men invented grandiloquent paraphrases in place of the Apostles' Creed, to delude the vulgar, to conceal their aberrations, to effect a compromise with other forms of error. They would do anything rather than confess that they had been wrong. When the storm arises (§ 7) the mariner returns to the harbour he had left; the spendthrift youth, with ruin in prospect, to the sober habits of his father'shome. So Christians, with shipwreck of the Faith in sight and the heavenly patrimony almost lost, must return to the safety which lies in the primitive, Apostolic Baptismal Creed. They must not condemn as presumptuous or profane the Nicene confession, but eschew it as giving occasion to attacks upon the Faith and to denials of the truth on the ground of novelty. There is danger lest innovation creep in, excused as improvement of this creed; and emendation is an endless process, which leads the emenders to condemnation of each other. Hilary now (§8) professes his sincere admiration of Constantius' devout purpose and earnestness in seeking the truth, which he who denies is antichrist, and he who feigns is anathema. He entreats the Emperor to allow him to expound the Faith, in his own presence, before the Council which was now debating the subject at Constantinople. His exposition shall be Scriptural; he will use the words of Christ, Whose exile and Whose bishop he is. The Emperor seeks the Faith; let him hear it not from modern volumes, but from the books of God. Even in the West it may be taught, whence shall come some that shall sit at meat in the kingdom of God. This is a matter not of philosophy, but of the teaching of the Gospel. He asks audience rather for the Emperor's sake and for God's Churches than for himself. He is sure of the faith that is in him; it is God's, and he will never change it. But (§ 9) the Emperor must bear in mind that every heretic professes that his own is the Scriptural doctrine. So say Marcellus, Photinus, and the rest. He prays (§ 10) for the Emperor's best attention; his plea will be for faith and unity and eternal life. He will speak in all reverence for Constantius' royal position, and for his faith, and what he says shall tend to peace between East and West. Finally (§ II) he gives, as an outline of the address he proposes to deliver, the series of texts on which he will base his argument. This is what the Holy Spirit has taught him to believe. To this faith he will ever adhere, loyal to the Faith of his fathers, and the creed of his Baptism, and the Gospel as he has learnt it.
In this address, to which we cannot wonder that Constantius made no response, there is much that is remarkable. There is no doubt that Hilary's exile had been a political measure, and that the Emperor, in this as in the numerous other cases of the same kind, had acted deliberately and with full knowledge of the circumstances in the way that seemed to him most conducive to the interests of permanent peace. Hilary's assumption that Constantius had been deceived is a legitimate allusion, which no one could misunderstand, to a fact which could not be respectfully stated. That he should have spoken as he did, and indeed that he should have raised the subject at all, is a clear sign of the uncertainty of the times. A timorous appeal for mercy would have been useless; a bold statement of innocence, although, as things turned out, it failed, was an effort worth making to check the Homoean advance. Saturninus, as we saw, was one of the Court party among the bishops. and he was an enemy of Julian, who was soon to permit his deposition. Julian's knowledge of Hilary can have been but small; his exile began within a month or two of the Caesar's arrival in Gaul, and Julian was not responsible for it. For good or for evil, he had little to say in the case. But the suspicions were already aroused which were soon to lead to Julian's revolt, and Constantius had begun to give the orders which would lessen Julian's military force, and were, as he supposed, intended to prepare his downfall. To appeal to Julian and to attack Saturninus was to remind Constantius very broadly that great interests were at stake, and that a protector might be found for the creed which he persecuted. And his double mention of the West (~§ 8, 10) as able to teach the truth, and as needing to be reconciled with the East, has a political ring. It suggests that the Western provinces are a united force, with which the Emperor must reckon. The fact that Constantius, though he did not grant the meeting in his own presence with Saturninus, which Hilary had asked for, yet did grant the substance of his prayer, allowing him to return without obstacle to his diocese, seems to shew that the Emperor felt the need for caution and concession in the West.
The theological part of the letter is even more remarkable. Its doctrine is, of course, exactly that of the De Trinitate. The summary of Scripture proofs for the doctrine in § II, the allusion to unlearned fishermen who have been teachers of the Faith(62) , and several other passages, are either anticipations or reminiscences of that work. But the interest of the letter lies in its bold proposal to go behind all the modern creeds, of the confusion of which a vivid picture is drawn, and revert to the baptismal formula. Here is a leading combatant on the Catholic side actually proposing to withdraw the Nicene confession:- `Amid these shipwrecks of faith, when our inheritance of the heavenly patrimony is almost squandered, our safety lies in clinging to that first and only Gospel Faith which we confessed and apprehended at our Baptism, and in making no change in that one form which, when we welcome it and listen to it, brings the right faith(63) I do not mean that we should condemn as a godless and blasphemous writing the work of the Synod of our fathers; yet rash men make use of it as a means of gain saying' (§ 7). The Nicene Creed(64) , Hilary goes on to say, had been tbe starting-point of an endless chain of innovations and amendments, and thus had done harm instead of good. We have seen that Hilary was not only acting with the Semiarians, but was nearer to them in many ways than he was to Athanasius. The future of his friends was now in doubt; not only was their doctrine in danger, but, after the example they had themselves set, They must have been certain that defeat meant deposition. This was a concession which only a sense of extreme urgency could have induced Hilary to make. Yet even now he avoids the mistake of Liberius. He offers to sign no compromising creed; he only proposes that all modern creeds be consigned to the same oblivion. It was, in effect, the offer of another compromise in lieu of the Homoean; though Hilary makes it perfectly clear what is, in his eyes, the only sense in which this simple and primitive confession can honestly be made, yet assuredly those whose doctrine most widely diverged would have felt able to make it. That the proposal was sincerely meant, and that his words, uncompromising as they are in assertion of the truth, were not intended for a simple defiance of the enemy, is strewn by the list of heretics whom he advances, in § 9, in proof of his contention that all error claims to be based on Scripture. Three of them, Montanus, Manichaeus and Marcion, were heretics in the eyes of an Arian as much as of a Catholic; the other three, Marcellus, Photinus and Sabellius, were those with whom the Arians were constantly taunting their adversaries. Hilary avoids, deliberately as we may be sure, the use of any name which could wound his opponents. But bold and eloquent and true as the appeal of Hilary was, it was still less likely that his petition for a hearing in Council should be granted than that he should be allowed to disprove the accusations which had led to his exile. The Homoean leaders had the victory in their hands, and they knew it, if Hilary and his friends were still in the dark. They did not want conciliation, but revenge, and this appeal was foredoomed to failure. The end of the crisis soon came. The Semiarian leaders were deposed, not on the charge of heresy, for that would have been inconsistent with the Homoean position and also with their acquiescence in the Homoean formula, but on some of those complaints concerning conduct which were always forthcoming when they were needed. Among the victims was not only Basil of Ancyra, Hilary's friend, but also Macedonius of Constantinople, who was in after days to be the chief of the party which denied the true Godhead of the Holy ghoast. He and his friends were probably unconscious at this time of the gulf which divided them from such men as Hilary, who for their part were content, in the interestsof unity, with language which understated their belief, or else had not yet a clear sense of their faith upon this point. In any case it was well that the final victory of the true Faith was not won at this time, and with the aid of such allies; we may even regard it as a sign of some short-sightedness on Hilary's part that he bad thrown himself so heartily into their cause. But he, at any rate, was not to suffer. The two Eastern parties, Homoean and Semiarian, which alternately ejected one another from their sees, were very evenly balanced, and though Constantius was now on the side of the former, his friendship was not to be trusted. The solid orthodoxy of the West was an influence which, as Hilary had hinted, could not be ignored; and even in the East the Nicenes were a power worth conciliating. Hence the Homocans gave a share of the Semiarian spoils to them(65) ; and it was part of the same policy, and not, as has been quaintly suggested, because they were afraid of his arguments, That they permitted Hilary to return to Gaul. Reasons of state as well as of ecclesiastical interest favoured his restoration.
In the late revolution, though the Faith had suffered, individual Catholics had gained. But the party to which Hilary had attached himself, and from which he had hoped so much was crushed; and his personal advantage did not compensate, in his eyes, for the injury to truth He has left us a memorial of his feelings in the Invective against Constantius, one of the bitterest documents of a controversy in which all who engaged were too earnest to spare their opponents. It is an admirable piece of rhetoric suffused with passion, not the less spontaneous because its form, according to the canons of taste of that time, is perfect. For we must remember that the education of the day was literary, its aim being to provide the recipient with a prompt and felicitous expression of his thoughts, whatever they might be. The invective was certainly written in the first place as a relief to Hilary's own feelings; he could not anticipate that Constantius had changed his views for the last time; that he would soon cease to be the master of Gaul, and would be dead within some eighteen months. But the existence of other attacks upon Constantius, composed about this time, makes it probable that there was some secret circulation of such documents; and we can as little accuse the writers of cowardice, when we consider the Emperor's far-reaching power, as we can attribute to them injustice towards him.