Century IV, Chapter IV

CHAP. IV.

THE PROGRESS OF THE ARIAN CONTROVERSY
DURING THE REIGN OF CON STANTIUS.

The subject before us is more speculative and Chap.
more secular than I could wish. I shall condense s *y-
it as much as possible into a narrow compass, keep-
ing more particularly in view the one great end of
this history.

The great Constantine was succeeded by three sons, Constantine, Constantius, and Constans. The first ruled in Spain and Gaul, the second in the East, the third in Italy and Africa. The other relations of the late emperor were put to death by the soldiers. Two sons alone of Julius his brother survived, Gallus and Julian. These were spared, privately educated, placed among the clergy, and appointed readers in the church. The latter was born at Constantinople, was only eight years old at the time of his uncle's death, and was reserved to be a scourge of degenerate Christendom, and a memorable instrument of Divine Providence.

Of Constantine the eldest we know but little;

Chap, and that little is laudable. He sent back Athanasius . *y* . to his church with great respect, and declared, that his father had intended to do the same, but was prevented by death. After a banishment of two years and four months, the bishop returned from Treves to his diocese, where he was received with general acclamations. Asclepas of Gaza and Marcellus of Ancyra, who had been deposed by Arians, with others likewise, were restored; but Constantine himself was slain by the troops of his brother Constans. He was undoubtedly steady in his adherence to the Nicene faith, but our information concerning him is too small to enable us to form any proper estimate of his character.

His next brother, Constantius, furnishes but too many materials to illustrate his disposition. One Eusebius an eunuch, his chamberlain, had great influence over him ; and was himself the convert of the Arian priest, whom Constantia had recommended to her brother, and to whom also the dying emperor had intrusted his will. The empress herself, the wife of Constantius, was infected with Arianism. By degrees at least the emperor, a man of a weak understanding, corrupted with the pride of power, and ill informed in any thing that belonged to real Christianity, was confirmed in the fashionable heresy. There was then during this whole reign, which reached from the year 337 to the year 361, a controversy carried on between the Church and the heretics by arms and resources suited to the genius of the parties ; those of the former were prayers, treatises, and preaching; of the latter, policy, intrigue, persecution, and the friendship of the great. The most zealous supporters of anti-scriptural sentiments seem far more disposed to cultivate Death of jjje favour 0f men 0f ranl{ than to labour in the

£.useblU3 ot .- linn *

CEsarea. work ot the ministry among the bulk of mankind. A. D. About the year 340 died the famous Eusebius 340. of Caesarea. He was the most learned of all the IV.

Christians. After viewing him with some atten- Cent. tion, I can put no other interpretation on his speculations than that which has been mentioned already*. He talks of a necessity that there was in God, to produce a middle power between himself and the angels, to lessen the infinite disproportion between him and the creature. Of the Holy Ghost he speaks still more explicitly, and represents him as one of the things made by the Son. Nevertheless, one might be disposed to put a favourable construction on various expressions of this great man, were it not that his practice is a strong comment on his opinions. He frequented the court, he associated with Arius, he joined in the condemnation of Athanasians. It really gives pain to part on such terms with the historian, to whom we are indebted for the preservation of so many valuable monuments of antiquity; but truth must be spoken, and his case is one of the many, which show that learning and philosophy, unless duly subordinate to the revealed will of God, are no friends to christian simplicity : however, the loud noise which in our times has been made, concerning the doctrine of the Trinity being derived from Platonisin, should be silenced, when it is known that it was by admiration of Plato and Origen that Eusebius himself was perverted.

About the same time died Alexander of Constan- Death of tinople, aged ninety-eight years, who had been bishop twenty-three years. His clergy asked him in tinople. his dying moments, whom he would recommend as his successor. If you seek a man of exemplary life, and able to instruct you, says he, you have Paul: if you desire a man of secular skill, and one who knows how to maintain an interest among the great, and to preserve an appearance of religion, Macedonia is preferable. The event showed in what strength of discernment the aged prelate was still preserved, and how caref i\ to his last breath he was

• IV. Demonstr. Evang. I. c. 6. See Fleury, B. XII. c. 6.

Alexander of Constun

Chap- of the propagation of Evangelical purity. These t IV- , two men were just such as he had described them.

Paul, though young, was at once pious and discreet; Macedonius was far advanced in life, but yet was only a deacon. The Arian party during the lifetime of the venerable champion was unable to predominate in the metropolis. After his death, they endeavoured to prefer Macedonius; but the primitive ideas were too prevalent as yet among the populace, and Paul was elected. Constantius arriving afterwards was provoked at the election, encouraged an Arian council, directed its resolves, and Eusebius of Nicomedia was translated to the metropolitan see, which from this time continued under Arian government for forty years. Thus the ancient usages in choosing bishops were altered, and a precedent was set, of fixing in the hands of princes the government of the church in capital cities. A council of a hundred bishops of Egypt, with Athanasius at their head, protested against these proceedings to the whole Christian world. Council at A council was now convened at Antioch, supAmioch. ported by the presence of the emperor and by the manoeuvres of Eusebius. Here they undertook to depose Athanasius, and ordain Gregory, a Cappadocian, in his room ; prevailing on Constantius to direct Philagrius, the prefect of Egypt, to support their proceedings with an armed force. For, the integrity and probity of Athanasius had gained him so strong an ascendant in Egypt, that while the primitive modes of church government remained, it would have been impossible to expel him. Violence was found necessary to support iniquity, and an Arian prince was obliged to tread in the steps of his pagan predecessors, to support what he called the Church.

His views were promoted with vigour. Virgins and monks were cruelly1 treated at Alexandria: Jews and pagans were encouraged to murder Christians*. Gregory himself entered the church with Cent.

the governor and certain pagans, and caused a ,

number of the friends of Athanasius to be scourged

and imprisoned. The persecuted prelate himself,

who wanted not courage and capacity to resist, Athanasius

acted however a much more Christian part. He fled R^nle* °

from the storm, and made his escape- to Rome. A. D .

This also happened about the year 342. It was 342. a memorable season for the church of God, which now found her livery to be that of persecution, even when pagans had ceased to reign. Gregory would not suffer the Athanasians, who in great numbers still refused to own the Arian domination, even to pray in their own houses. He visited Egypt in company with Philagrius. The greatest severities were inflicted on those bishops who had been zealous for the Nicene faith, though the decrees of the council had never been reversed, and the Arians as vet contented themselves with ambiguous confessions and the omission of the term consubstantial. Bishops were scourged and put in irons. Potamo, whom we have before celebrated, was beaten on the neck, till he was thought to have expired ; he recovered in a small degree, but died some time after. His crime, in the eyes of the Arians, was doubtless an unvaried attachment to the Nicene faith.

While Gregory dealt in violence, his competitor used only the more Christians arms of argument. He published an epistle to the Christian world t, exhorting all the bishops to unite on the occasion. " The faith is now begun," says he, " it came to ug by the Lord from his disciples. Lest what has been preserved in the churches until now perish in our days, and we be called to an account for our stewardship, exert yourselves my brethren, as stewards of the mysteries of God, and as beholding your

* Apolog. Athan. 2. Fleury, B. II. 14.
f Athan. VI. p. 943.

rights taken away by strangers." He goes on to inform them of the proceedings of the Arians, observing that the like had not happened in the church since the ascension of our Saviour. "If there were any complaint against me, the people should have been assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, with the spirit of ordination; all things should have been examined regularly, and in the presence of the clergy and people; a stranger should not have been intruded by force and the authority of secular judges, upon a people who neither require nor know him." He begs the bishops " not to receive the letters of Gregory, but to tear them, and treat the bearers with disdain as ministers of iniquity." It cannot be denied, that his arguments were sound, and that his cause was just. The Arians must bear the infamy of being the first who secularized the discipline of the church. But in adding the close of the letter, I mean the reader to remark the decline of the spirit of the Gospel at this time. As on the one hand it were very unfair to confound the Athanasians and the Arians as on an equal footing in point of piety and morality, when the superiority of the former is too evident to admit of a dispute; so on the other hand it is certain, that the experimental use of the Divinity of Christ, by no means employed an equal degree of the zeal of its patrons with the abstract doctrine itself. Hence Athanasius, though always firm and constantly sincere, fails in meekness ano1 charity.

This great man continued in exile at Rome for eighteen months, under the protection of Julius the bishop. Thither fled many others whom the Arian Death of lyranny had expelled from their sees. Eusebius of Kuscl,ius of Constantinople died soon after in the fulness of that ^pU.3"" prosperity, which his iniquity and oppression had procured him. Human depravity under religious appearances had in him attained a rare degree of maturity. And the only lesson which his life affords Cent. seems to be this, to warn the clergy to beware of . . secular ambition, and the spirit of the world, which so exceedingly depraved this dignitary, that he at length became one of the most memorable villains in history. A double election followed his death, that of Paul and that of Macedonius. Hermogenes, master of* the militia, was ordered by the emperor Banishment to banish Paul. He did so; and Paul's friends, «fP»ui. exasperated by a series of persecutions, forgot the character of Christians, and killed Hermogenes. HermogeThese events took place in or near the year 342. ne*kafe-* Paul however was then banished the city, and his holy character exempts him from all suspicion of being concerned in the outrage.

At Rome, Julius, in a council of the western bishops, justified Athanasius and his fellow sufferers. Among these was Marcellus of Ancyra, whose zeal against the Arians had provoked them to charge him with Sabellianism. It is not the design of this history to enlarge on these niceties. But it is easy to conceive how such a charge might be drawn up with specious appearances. Marcellus explained, and was cleared to the satisfaction of the council; but whether justly or not, is not so evident. The progress of error is easy, where the heart is not simply stayed upon God. Athanasius himself was afterwards far from being convinced of his soundness in the faith.

Julius wrote a public letter on this occasion, in which, after doing full justice to the sufferers, he concludes in a manner not unworthy of a Christian bishop, not threatening, but advising those of the East not to do the like for the future, lest, says he, we be exposed to the laughter of Pagans, and above all to the wrath of God, to whom we must all give an account at the day of judgment.

* Fleury, B. XII. a1.

Council at In the year 347, a council was held at Sardica S A ) ^ the joint order of the two emperors, Constantius * ' and Constans, the latter being as steady in the support of the Nicene faith as the former was in opposition. Sardica was in Illyria, the border of the dominions of the two emperors. The intention was to unite, but it actually separated the two parties more than ever. Prayer and holy breathings of soul, and judicious and affectionate preaching of practical religion, were now at a low ebb. Peaceable spirits were absorbed in superstition, turbulent ones in ecclesiastical contentions. The life of faith was little known. They treated the doctrine of the Trinity as a mere speculation, and the result of their disputes was, that each party retired as they entered upon them. The Easterns finding that it was likely to be afree council, departed from it, leaving the Westerns to settle matters as they pleased. Hosius of Corduba, the venerable president of Nice, presided here also, and the Athanasian cause was decided in the favour of the Alexandrian prelate. They made also some canons, in which they condemned the translation of bishops. The pious and zealous spirit of Hosius was chiefly concerned in these things. Remarkable are the words: " A pernicious custom must be rooted out. None have been found to pass from a greater bishopric to a less. Therefore they are induced by avarice and ambition." So reasoned and so ordained this council. But where the religion of the Holy Ghost, the religion of faith, hope, and charity, exist not, the canons of councils forbid in vain. There are several canons also which enjoin the residence of bishops, and which forbid their journeys to courts. The time also of bishops remaining in another diocese was fixed, in order to prevent the supplanting- of their brethren. These things show the times : rules are not made, except to prevent abuses, which already exist.

The Easterns met at Philippopolis, in Thrace, and

c

excommunicated their brethren of the West; and for Cent. some time the two parties remained distant in this . IJ' , manner; while in Asia and Egypt the friends of the Nicene faith were treated with great cruelty. Into Europe the subtilties of this contention had not yet entered ; men were there more simple, and followed the primitive faith in quietness and peace *.

In Antioch the Arian bishop Stephen was found, even by his own party, too corrupt and profligate to be continued in his dignity. Leontius, who succeeded him, supported the Arian cause. Diodorus, an ascetic, and Flavian, afterwards bishop of Antioch, stirred up the faithful to a zeal for religion, and passed whole nights with them at the tombs of the martyrs. Leontius finding them to have the affection of the people, wished them to do this service in the church. And here I apprehend was a nursery of real godliness, but the account is very imperfect.

In the year 349 died Gregory, the secular bishop Deathof of Alexandria, as he may be justly called. Then it y'hop'oi was that Constantius, intimidated by the threats of Alexandria, his brother Constans, wrote repeatedly to Athana- A- Dsiusto return into the East, and to assure him of his 349favour and protection. The exiled prelate could not easily credit a man who had persecuted him so unrighteously. Atlength he complied, and after visiting Atimnasim Julius at Rome, who sent a letter full of tenderness f^*u An; to the church of Alexandria in favour of Athanasius, he travelled to Antioch, where Constantius then was, by whom he was very graciously received. The emr requested him to forget the past, and assured with oaths, that he would receive no calumnies against him for the future. While Athanasius was at Antioch, he communicated with the Eustathians, who under the direction of Flavian held a conventicle there. This same Flavian was the first who composed the doxology, "Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghostand in the * Fleury, C. 43.

Chap- singing of the Psalms, not only those who frequented IV- , his meeting made use of it, but in general all who favoured the Nicene faith in the church of Leontius did the same, in opposition to the Arian doxology. Glory to the Father, by the Son, in the Holy Ghost. So earnest were the two parties against each other. Leontius was a confirmed Arian, but of a milder temper than the rest of his party. He saw that it was by force only that he was in possession of his church; numbers of people still professing the Nicene faith. He dared not therefore oppose the Trinitarian hymns, and laboured to preserve peace in his own time; but touching his white hair, he said on the occasion, " When this snow shall melt, there will be much dirt," hinting at the dissensions which he imagined would arise after his death.

Constantius observed to Athanasius, that as he now put him into possession of all his Egyptian churches, he ought to leave one for the Arians. The Alexandrian prelate confessed it would be just, on condition also that the same liberty was allowed to the Eustathians at Antioch. The Arian party, however, sensible of the superior popularity of their opposers, thought it most prudent to wave the proposal *.

Athanuiuu The return of Athanasius to Alexandria was a XteuodrU triumph. Religious zeal and joy appeared in the garb of the age, by a number devoting themselves to a monastic life. Acts of mercy and liberality were also abundantly performed. Every house seemed to be a church set apart for prayer. Such are the views which Athanasius himself gives us of the effects of his restorationf : a number of his enemies retracted, and justified him in the most honourable manner, and among these the recantation ot Ursatius and Valens is remarkable. Asclepas was also restored to Gaza, and Marcellus to Ancyra,though the

* Socrates, B. III. c. 20.

f Athau. ad Solit. See Fleury, B. XII. c. a*.

latter was not unmolested. The suspicion of his Cent. unsoundness was perhaps justly increased by the . TM' . less ambiguous sentiments of Photinus bishop of Sirmium, who was supposed to tread in his steps, and was in a council at that place deposed as a Sabellian by universal consent. Germanius an Arian was elected in his stead, and then, as well as at this day, the Sabellians and the Arians in opposing each other assaulted the truth, which lay between them: the former removing all distinction between the Father and the Son, the latter establishing a distinction which took away the Trinity of the Godhead. Each desired to remove the mystery from the doctrine, and in the attempt corrupted it. While those who were taught of God, and were content with inadequate ideas, sincerely worshipped the Trinity in Unity, and mourned over the abominations of the times.

A great change in civil affairs having taken place Martyrdom by the death of Constans, and the ruin of the ^*uln°.f usurper Magnentius, Constantius, now sole master i,opie, of the empire, revived the persecution. About the A. D. year 351, Paul of Constantinople was sent into 351. Mesopotamia, loaded with irons, and at length to Cucusus on the confines of Cappadocia. There, after suffering cruel hardships, he was strangled*. Macedonius by an armed force, attended with much effusion of blood, took possession of the see. Paul received the crown of martyrdom, and the Arians seemed ambitious to equal the bloody fame of Galerius.

The weak mind of Constantius was again pre- Council »i judiced by absurd calumnies against Athanasius, and Mllan' a council at Milan was convened in the year 355, A' D* in the presence of the emperor, who proposed to *'*'*'* them an Arian creed, which he recommended by this argument, that God had declared in his favour hy his victories. Prosperity, it seems, had not * Theodoret, B. XI. c. ,5.

strengthened his reasoning powers, but, unhappily, had increased the depravity of his heart. Here appeared the magnanimous constancy of Lucifer bishop of Cagliari in Sardinia, and the pious selfdenial of Eusebius bishop of Vercellae in Italy. These prelates were animated with a sincere spirit of piety on this occasion, and answered that the Nicene faith had always been the faith of the Church. " I ask not your advice, says the emperor, and you shall not hinder me from following Arius, if I think fit." The emperor s creed was read in the Church; but the people, more sincere and more simple than the great, and more willingly attached to the doctrine of the Trinity, because they read it in their Bibles, rejected the faith of Constantius, and it was not pressed any farther. The condemnation of Athanasius was, however, insisted on, and Dionysius bishop of Milan, and the two others just mentioned, were most unreasonably required to subscribe to it. " Obey, or be banished," was the imperious mandate. The bishops lifted up their hands to heaven, and told Constantius, that the empire was not his, but God's, and reminded him of the day of judgment. He drew his sword on them in a rage, but contented himself with ordering their banishment. Hilary the deacon was stripped and scourged, and ridiculed by Ursatius and Valens, who had recanted some time ago. Hilary blessed God, and bore the indignity as a Christian. The greatest part of the bishops subscribed to the condemnation of Athanasius : a few only testified that the grace of G od was still as powerful as ever, in supporting his people, and in causing them to suffer gladly, rather than to sin. Others, besides the three mentioned above, joined in the same measure, particularly Maximus, bishop of Naples, who was tortured in hopes of forcing his submission, because of the weakness of his body. In the end he was banished, and died in exile.

Eusebius of Vercellas was sent into Palestine, Lucifer into Syria, and Dionysius into Cappadocia» Cent. where he died soon after. Liberius of Rome was . IV- , in an advanced age, when the storm which had murmered at a distance, burst upon him : He was carried before Constantius at Milan, where the eunuch Eusebius, the secret and prevalent supporter of Arianism, assisted the emperor in oppressing him. Liberius said, "Though I were single, the cause of the faith would not fail: there was a time when three persons only were found who resisted a regal ordinance." Eusebius understanding his allusion to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered, "Do you make the emperor a Nebuchadnezzar?" "No, said the bishop of Rome, but you are not less unreasonable than he, in desiring to condemn a man unheard." In the conclusion Liberius was banished into Thrace. But a character still more venerable than his was yet unsubdued, and the Arians, fiercely pursuing their victories, proceeded to the attack. Hosius, bishop of Corduba in Spain, was now a hundred years old. He was looked on as the first of bishops, had been a confessor under the Dioclesian persecution, had presided sixty years in the church, had guided the Nicene council, had been a principal person in the appointment of canons, and was held in universal respect. Constantius and the whole Christian party were sensible of the importance of such a character. Flattery and menaces were both employed to prevail on him to condemn Athanasius. A few lines of his answer to an imperious letter of the emperor's may give us some idea of his spirit*: " I confessed the first time in the persecution under Maximian, your greatgrandfather. If you likewise desire to persecute me, I am ready still to suffer any thing rather than betray the truth. It is not so much a personal malice against Athanasius, as the love of heresy which influences these men. I myself invited them to * Athan. ad Solit.

come to me, and declare at the council of Sardica what they knew against him. They dared not; they all refused. Athanasius came afterwards to your court at Antioch : he desired his enemies might be sent for, that they might make good their accusations. Why do you still hearken to them who refused such fair proposals ? How can you endure Ursatius and Valens, after they have recanted and acknowledged their calumny in writing? Remember you are a mortal man; be afraid of the day of judgment. God hath given you the empire, and hath committed the church to our care. I write thus through my concern for your eternal welfare ; but with respect to your requisition, I cannot agree with Arians, nor write against Athanasius. You act for his enemies, but in the day of judgment you must defend yourself alone." Constantius kept him a year at Sirmium, without respect to his age and infirmities. His orders addressed to the bishops were to condemn Athanasius, and to communicate with the Arians under pain of banishment. The judges were directed to see to the execution of these things. Ursatius and Valens, whose instability should have destroyed their credit, assisted the persecution by informations : zealous heretics by force of arms were intruded in the place of the exiled ; and Arianism seemed well nigh to have avenged the cause of fallen idolatry.

The adventures of Athanasius himself in his sufferings were extraordinary. He was for some time preserved in the house of a pious woman with great care and fidelity. But we must not enlarge on the various hardships to which he was exposed : suffice it to mention some of the particular circumstances. Syrianus, a secular officer, came at night to his principal church at Alexandria, when the people were intent on their devotions. Numbers were murdered, others insulted and beaten. The intrepid prelate sat still in his chair, and directed the deacon

to leave Alexandria.

to sing the cxxxvi"1 Psalm, the people answering, Cent. according to the custom of alternate singing, " For . TM' his mercy endureth for ever." Which being finished, he bade the people return to their houses. As the soldiers advanced toward him, his clergy and people begged him to depart, which he refused, thinking it his duty to stay till they had all left the church. He was in a manner forced out by the clergy and monks, and conveyed safe from the guards. An unavailing protest was made by the people against these violences.

The Pagans took courage, and assisted the here- George of tics in the persecution, saying, the Arians have em- cboxnty* braced our religion*. A bishop was found worthy theArjam to support these proceedings, George of Cappadocia, ;„ Replace who began his usurpation in the year 356. Through ofAttomhis influence, supported by the secular arm, the mA' D friends of the Nicene faith were cruelly beaten, and ' g some died under their anguish. A sub-deacon having been severely scourged, was sent to the mines, without being allowed time to dress his wounds, and he died on the road. Venerable, aged bishops were sent into the deserts throughout Egypt, and Arianism reigned and glutted itself in blood. The episcopal office was sold to unworthy men; the profession of Arianism being the only requisite for the office. The cruelties of George provoked the Alexandrians to retaliation, but military force prevailed ; and after this bishop had been once expelled, he returned still more terrible and more detested.

So deplorably misinformed was Constantius, that in a letter to the people of Alexandria, he represents this same George as one who was very capable of instructing others in heavenly things. Athanasius having obtained a sight of this letter, was at length deterred from his intended journey to the emperor, and betook himself to the deserts, and visited the monks, his most faithful adherents, who refused to

* Athan. ad Solit.

discover him to his persecuting adversaries, and of, fered their throats to the sword, being ready to die for the Nicene faith. He rilled up another part of his time in writing his own apology to Constantius. There are in it strong traces of that rapid eloquence and clear reasoning, for which this father is renowned. Integrity and fervour appear throughout; but it were to be wished, that less zeal on his own account, and more on account of his Divine Master, were visible in this as well as in his other writings. In truth, the connexion of the doctrine of the Trinity with the honour of Christ, and with lively faith in his mediation, is so plain, that practical, serious, humble religion, if it exist at all in any scene of controversy, must be found on that side. Men, who degrade the Divine Saviour into a creature, will of course exalt themselves, and cannot have that humility and faith which are the essential ingredients of a holy life. I gladly remind my readers, and myself, that the value of the apostolical doctrines, so fiercely persecuted in the fourth century, rests not on speculation, but on the holy tendency of their nature. There is sufficient proof of the existence of this holy tendency and influence, both in regard to Athanasius and other Trinitarians of that time; and there is also more than sufficient proof to the contrary tendency of the doctrines supported by the Arians. But it must be allowed that the evidence of the former sort is scanty : Christian godliness continued very low in all this period : and good men in their writings and reflections attended too little to the connexion which subsists between doctrine and practice.

Eusebius of Vercellae, one of the most honest and pious bishops of those times, still suffered severely in Palestine in his banishment. The persecution reached even to Gaul, which had yet happily preserved the simplicity of apostolical confession unmolested. In Constantinople, Macedonius, by the terror of his persecutions, drove those of the general church and the. Novatiau dissenters, into a sym- Cent. pathy for each other, which their mutual prejudices , 1V- . had long prevented. Both sorts suffered extremely, being obliged to communicate with Arians, or to undergo a variety of hardships. Agelius, the Novatian bishop, fled. A priest and a monk of theirs were tortured, and the latter died by this usage. Novatianism still retained a measure of the divine Spirit, and was honoured with furnishing those who suffered for Jesus. This * people had three churches in Constantinople, one of which was thrown down by the emperor's orders. The Novatians carried away the materials to the other side of the sea : the women and children wrought diligently, and thus it was rebuilt. In the next reign, by the emperor's permission, they carried back the materials, and rebuilt their church at Constantinople, and called it Anastatiat. An attempt was now made to reunite those of the general- church with the Novatians : the former were the more ready, because they had no place of worship at all; but the narrow bigotry, which had ever been the great fault of Novatianism, prevented the union. But we must now mention a remarkable instance of human infirmity, which calls at once for compassion and for caution. Hosius had been a year confined at Sirmium, his relations were persecuted, and he suffered in his own person both scourges and tortures. By thus afflicting him, the Arian tyrant thought he served the cause; and by such inhuman measures were the patrons of the heresy stimulated to seek the destruction of Godliness! Yet so infatuated was the spirit of Constantius, that he all along was liberally supporting the most expensive forms and ornaments of Christian worship, while he was labouring with all his might to eradicate Christian doctrine. Hosius, above a hundred years old, submitted at Conductor length to subscribe an Arian creed, but the con- {,'JeHoiiuT.

• Sozomen, B. IV. c. 20. \ That is, " risen again."

Chap, demnation of Athanasius he would not vindicate. . , Permitted at length to return into Spain, he lived, however, to retract, protesting against the violence with which he had been treated, and with his last breath exhorting all men to reject the heresy of Arius; and thus we have seen to his end the most venerable character of that age, still in his heart true to his God. The length of his days only exposed him to a greater variety of suffering, and though Satan's malice was permitted to do him much mischief, he yet was enabled to die in peace, and to prove that the Lord faileth not them that are his. Libcrius of In the same year, 357, Liberius of Rome, after ^"£rf°"" two years exile, was not only prevailed on to reA. D. ceive an Arian creed, but even to reject Athanasius. 357. The subscription to the creed was not so much an evidence of insincerity, as was the condemnation of the Alexandrian prelate, because the Arians, fertile in expedients, made creeds upon creeds, expressed in artful ambiguities, to impose on the unwary. Liberius by these unworthy means recovered his bishopric. The see of Rome at that time had secular charms sufficient to seduce a worldly mind. Whether Liberius cordially repented of his hypocrisy or not, we have no evidence. The cruelty of the Arians tried to the utmost the hearts of men in those days, and now the proverb was verified, "All the world against Athanasius, and Athanasius against all the world."

But the power of divine grace was displayed during this disastrous season in preserving a remnant, and particularly in strengthening the mind of that great man, through a long course of afflictions. He composed about this time a letter to the monks, in which he confesses the extreme difficulty of writing concerning the divinity of the Son of God, though it be easy to confute the heretics. He owns his ignorance, and calls himself a'mere babbler, and beseeches the brethren to receive what he wrote, not as a perfect explanation of the divinity of the Word, but Cent. as a confutation of the enemies of that doctrine. . ^ .

Two councils were held, the one at Rimini, the other at Selucia, both with a view to support Arianism. In the former a number of good men were artfully seduced, by the snares of the Arians, to agree to what they did not understand. This sect, now victorious every where, began to show itself disunited, and to separate into two parties. But it is not worth while to trouble the reader with idle niceties, in which proud men involved themselves, while all had forsaken the simple faith of antiquity. In these confusions, Macedonius lost the see of Eudoxiu* Constantinople, which was given to Eudoxius, trans- jj^ureh lated from Antioch, in the year 360. Constantius °f Constanpoorly endeavoured to atone for the corruptions liu^pe^ both of principle and practice, with which he filled * the church, by offering large vessels of gold and silver, carpetsforthe altar ofgold tissue, adorned with precious stones, curtains of gold and divers colours for the doors of the church, and also liberal donatives to the clergy, the virgins, and the widows*.

In the mean time Christendom throughout groaned under the weight of extorted Arian subscriptions ; and Macedonius, the deposed bishop of Constantinople, formed another sect of those who were enemies to the divinity of the Holy Ghost. These, by the advantage of sober manners, spread themselves among the monasteries, and increased the corruption which then pervaded the Christian world. But the vigilant spirit of Athanasius was stirred up to oppose this heresy also. "The Father cannot be Son, nor the Son Father, says he, and the Holy Ghost is never called by the name of Son, but is called the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. The holy Trinity is but one divine nature, and one God, with which a creature cannot be joined. This is sufficient for the faithful. Human knowledge goes • Fleury, R. XIV. 33.

Chap- no farther : the cherubims veil the rest with their wings."

The see of Antioch being vacant, Meletius, bishop of Sebasta, a man of exemplary meekness and piety, was chosen. The Arians supposed him to be of their party. Constantius ordered the new bishop to preach before him on the controversial subject of the Trinity: Meletius delivered himself with Christian sincerity, rebuked the rashness of men, who strove to fathom the divine nature, and exhorted his audience to adhere to the simplicity of the faith. He had remained only a month in Antioch, and had the honour to be banished by the emperor, who filled up the see with Euzoius, the old friend of Arius. In consequence of this, the friends of Meletius separated from the Arians. and held their assemblies in the ancient church, which had been the first at Antioch. Besides the Arians, who were in possession of the emperor's favour, there were two parties both sound in the Nicene faith, the Eustathians, before spoken of, and the Meletians, who testified in the strongest manner their regard Constautim for their exiled pastor. In the year 361, however, <l e* D Constantius died of a fever, having received bapg ' tism a little before he expired, from Euzoius; for, ** after his father's example, he had deferred it till this time*. His character needs no detail: it appeared from his case, that a weak man, armed with despotic power, was capable of doing incredible mischief in the Church of Christ.

* A fact related of him by Theodoret enables us to fix the religious character of this prince. When he was going to carry on war with Magnentius, he exhorted all his soldiers to receive baptism, observing the danger of dying without that sacred rite, and ordering those to return home who refused to submit to it. Not infidelity, but superstition, predominated in his mind. Yet how inconsistent, to defer his own baptism so long!