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Constantine. The Scriptures were believed by the Church to declare the Divinity of Christ. The rise of the heresy which resulted from the attempts of human reason to discover the manner in which this truth could be either explained or reconciled with other truths; is traced from the learned sophists of Antioch and Alexandria, from the Judaizing Gnostic Cerinthians, Ebionites, and Nazarenes, from the learned Lucian®, the Aristotelian sophist, Paul of Samosata', to the time of the schism of the Donatists, and the alarm of Constantine, for the repose of the provinces of Africa. It was at this dangerous period that the Bishop of Alexandria, the diocesan of Arius, one of the public preachers of Alexandria, and, as some suppose, master of the catechetical school of that place, in a public meeting of the Clergy of Alexandria, accused the Bishop of Sabellianism'. Alexander, the Bishop of Alexandria, hesitated for some time to condemn Arius, though the more zealous Christians of the diocese were anxious for his decision. The heresy extended to other Churches. Arius was at length excommunicated by Alexander, after his opinions had been condemned by a council of one hundred Bishops (320). The excommunication and condemnation were alike unavailing to stop the progress of the heresy. Constantine interfered, and wrote to the leaders of both parties in vain?; and a furious civil war appeared to be about to desolate the whole Empire, when the Emperor resolved to appeal neither to the Bishop of Rome, to the Bishops of Gaul or of Italy, nor to the provincial Councils of Alexandria or of Africa. He summoned the first general Council. In that Council he obtained the solemn sentence and decision of the Universal Church to the truth of the disputed doctrine—and that decision, in spite of his own subsequent unjustifiable
of the Arians of the Fourth Century, p. 241. Very much do I grieve over one sentiment in this otherwise admirable work, which seems to militate against the doctrine of Toleration,-that the individual who is confident enough to publish his innovations, "should meet with no mercy; "he assumes the office of the tempter, and, so far forth as his error goes, must be dealt with " by the competent authority, as if he were embodied evil. To spare him is a false and dan.
gerous pity. It is to endanger the souls of thousands, and it is uncharitable towards himself.” - Newman’s Arians of the Fourth Century, p. 253. This ought not to have been written. Truth flourishes most when error is developed and manifested ; and that error must be subdued by moral persuasion, and an appeal to Revelation, not by want of mercy, and the dealings of the most competent authority.
* He edited the Septuagint.-Newman, p. 7. • He was deposed (circ.) A.D. 265. For an account of his errors, see Euseb. lib. vii. c. 27. The chief was this : Τούτου δε ταπεινά και χαμαιπετη περί του Χριστού παρά την εκκλησιαστικής διδασκαλίαν φρονήσαντος, ως κοινού την φύσιν ανθρώπου γενομένου.-Τom. ii. p. 385. The sneers of Gibbon are no refutation of the justice of the censure passed upon the errors of the Bishop of Samosata. Zenobia, his patroness, inherited and sanctioned the Judaizing Gnosticism which explained away the Divinity of Christ.
Socrates, Eccl. Hist. 1. i. c. v., tells us, that Alexander pilotypótepov tepi rīs åyias Τριάδος εν Τριάδι μονάδα είναι φιλοσοφών, έθεολόγει. 'Αρειος δε ... οιόμενος το Σαβελλίου του Λίβυος δόγμα εισηγείσθαι τον επίσκοπον, εκ φιλονεικίας κατά διάμετρον εις το εναντίον της του Λίβυος δόξης απέκλινε. .
? Euseb., Life of Constantine, 1. ii. 64–72. In these chapters he writes as a man deeply impressed with a sense of his duty as conservator of the public peace, and responsible for the employment of the power which he had attained.
wavering—in spite of the follies of his sons, and of all the efforts of the anti-Athanasian party-bas ever remained, from that hour to the present day, the one unalterable Creed of the Catholic Church of Christ, and one of the common foundations, therefore, of the ultimate union of all the Churches who worship the Divine Redeemer.
Similar danger to that which threatened the existence of Christianity in the days of Constantine, threatens it at present.—As in the midst of the disputes between Pagan and Christian, the dark form of Arianism excited the alarm of the Emperor, and endangered the tranquillity of the Empire ; so it is that in the midst of the disputes between the Papist and the Protestant, the dark form of infidelity endangers at once the general peace, and the common Christianity of Europe. It might have been supposed that the effects of the old infidelity of France, which was undoubtedly one chief cause of the first French Revolution, would have been regarded as a lasting warning both to Princes and People. The false philosophy of Germany, however, in all its various forms, like the dry rot in the beams of the tabernacle, or the pestilence that walketh in darkness, or the destruction that wasteth at noon-day, is beginning to sap the Literature, infect the Religion, and annihilate the Christian hope of millions. The Deism of England has poisoned the continent. The system of Kant, that human reason alone is the guide, to reject or retain as it pleases, the discoveries of Revelation ;—the system of Semler, that Jesus Christ and His Apostles spake those things only which were accommodated to the prejudices and opinions of their hearers ;—the systems of Wegscheider, Baüer, Gabler, Eichhorn, De Wette, and their brethren, that the narratives of the Bible, the fall of man, the deluge, &c. &c. &c., are not to be regarded as actual occurrences, but as muths or fables, or narratives invented to clothe the ideas of the authors ;—these, together with the whole hypothesis of Neology, by whatever name it be called, whether Rationalism, or Naturalism, or any other; constitute only one festering mass of loathsome infidelity, in which the spiritual death of one Church, or Society, or individual Christian, differs only from the spiritual death of another; as the incipient corruption of the body which is but just ready for the grave, differs from the complete corruption of the longer buried; or from the dust and ashes of the more wasted tenant of the sepulchre.—There are varieties in the stages of the corruption of the continental infidelity ; but they are only the varieties of the one spiritual death, the death of the soul of man, once more self-murdered by the apostasy of its reason from God. Here flourishes the Atheism of Schelling, identifying nature with God. There the Pantheism of Hegel, assuring us that there is no other God, but the inward principle of development, which is ever working, moving, and manifesting itself in the world.-Strauss denies the very History of Jesus Christ, and the individuality of the Deity as the Creator of His own world. Baüer makes the New Testament to be pure fiction. De Wette would dissolve the Old Testament into fictions, traditions, and mistakes. Even Neander himself would change the inspired Scriptures into mere human, uninspired composition ;—while in the very city of John Calvin, the Holy Truth, which alone constitutes the faith of Scripture and the hope of man, is impugned and denied; the atonement of Christ, the work of Christ, from the eternity which is past, to the eternity which is before us, is derided as a fable, and Geneva is more hateful than Rome.—If the Christian had not that faith in God which can remove mountains, and look beyond reason to Revelation, beyond man to God, beyond this world to the other; and see one wise Providence planning and accomplishing, by means of the Gospel, the ultimate recovery of the human race from the effects of its own folly, its abuse of reason, and its corruption of the Catholic Faith of the one Church of God; we should have cause to despair for mankind. Every hope of arriving at the condition to which the Holy Bible declares we shall attain, would seem to be visionary and absurd.— With these men, the miracles of the word of truth are exaggerations ; Prophecies are dreams, and their fulfilments are coincidences; Inspiration is an imposition, and the Canon of Scripture a fancy; man is a mere mortal, dreaming, anxious animal ; Deity itself is neither the cause, the author, the Creator, nor the Ruler of all things, but necessity, nature, or fate'. And the most anxious lover of the freedom of inquiry, and of the doctrines of toleration, while he laments the errors of the Church of Rome, is compelled to wish that some remedy could be provided for the diseases of the Nations; and that this remedy should be provided by their Princes and Sovereigns, as the Controllers of their Priests, the Fathers of their People, and as equally interested with the Priest and the People in the teaching of the Scriptures and Churches, of the God and Father of us all.
From considering the parallel circumstances of the age of Constantine and the
present day, we are to enquire what remedies were adopted by Constantine for the evils which then afflicted the Church ; and whether any, or what similar remedies, whether with or without the sanction of Rome, may be adopted at
present. We learn from the foregoing statement, that the four great objects which Constantine, when he embraced Christianity, and which every secular prince and
* I have not stopped to give the references to Rose--State of Protestantism in Germany: London, Rivingtons; to Pusey—Historical Enquiry into the probable causes of the Rationalist character lately predominant in the Theology of Germany: Rivingtons, London ; MillObservations on the application of Pantheistic principles to the Theory and Historic Criticism of the Gospel ; Dewar-German Protestantism, and the right of private judgment in the interpretation of Holy Scripture : Oxford, 1844 ; who have given admirable accounts of the Infidel Apostasy of Germany; as I presume their works are familiar to the student. I am but acquainted with some of the works of Jemler, Wegscheider, Bauer, Strauss — The knowledge of sin is not wisdom-and I cannot therefore recommend the student to read these books, merely to refute them. I may however affirm, that I am confirmed in my helief in the mercy and wisdom of God, as they are developed in the Gospel of the Old and New Testament, and in the Faith of the Primitive Church, of the uncorrupt period of the Church of Rome, of the Church of England, and of the Fathers, and Reformers,--from a patient and persevering effort to know as much as possible of the sneers, the arguments, and the reasonings of Infidelity.
VOL. II. PART IV.
potentate ought now to keep in view, were the same. These duties are, to promote union among Christians, first, by diminishing the deadly hatred between Christian and Christian ; secondly, by preserving the authority of the chief magistrate in matters of religion; thirdly, by securing toleration to all persons, so far as might be consistent with the public good; and, fourthly, by protecting the truth of Revelation, whether against Paganism, Arianism, Popery, Sectarianism, or Infidelity.
On inquiring into the remedies for evils, and the plans of good adopted by Constantine, we shall find that his example in endeavouring to promote the union of Christians may be wisely followed by his successors in the empire in the following seven particulars.
1. His impartiality between the Controversialists.
2. His upholding his own supremacy, without acknowledging the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome.
3. His consulting the Catholic Episcopacy.
5. His maintaining the Universal Episcopate, and the Canons of the Universal, but not the Roman Church.
6. His care to extend the knowledge and reception of the Scriptures.
7. His sanctioning the primitive Liturgies of the Church, and the worship of Christ as divine.
The powers of Europe, if they desire to secure the peace and happiness of their subjects, and to promote the union of Christians, would certainly do much to accomplish these great objects, by acting on these principles, and commending them to the Universal Church.
1. They may imitate Constantine in his impartiality between the Controversialists.
I must beg to be forgiven for speaking truisms. That Prince, or King, or Emperor alone possesses a royal mind; he or she alone is fit to govern States and Churches, and Priests and People ; that Sovereign alone is the representative of the God by whom kings reign; who looks with equal eye upon all his subjects, and refuses, as a portion of his duty to the God who raised him above his fellows, to be the head of one party only, among a divided and distracted nation. The sincerity of the conversion of Constantine has been questioned ; his motives have been impugned, his religion has been derided; but on one point at least, all parties are agreed, that for the sake of his own happiness, and for the sake of the common good, he desired the peace and union of his Empire; and all his measures, whether they were successful or unsuccessful, were intended to diminish the miseries which resulted from the mutual hatred of his people. When, therefore, he found in the case of the Donatists, that the appeals to the foreign or provincial Councils, the reference of the dispute to the Bishops of Rome and of Italy, the decisions of the secular Court of the Vicar of Africa',
• Gibbon (Milman's edit., vol. iii. cap. xxi. p. 302) says, “The controversy was solemnly “ tried in five successive tribunals, which were appointed by the emperor, and the whole pro“ceeding, from the first appeal to the final sentence, lasted above three years."--Tillemont also mentions five.—Mémoires, Paris, quarto, 1704, vol. vi. article xxvi. p. 61.
and all his other efforts were useless to prevent division; and when the peace of the Churches was again further endangered by the Arian controversy; he resolved to summon the first universal Council of the Catholic Church, to obtain their decision on the controversy. He wisely believed, and the experience of fifteen centuries has proved him to be right, that the universal Church, whatever might be the opposition for a time to the decisions of such a Council, would eventually find some effectual diminution of its mutual bitter hatred, by receiving its right conclusions. This, however, was but one proof of his impartiality. Before the Council met, before its deliberations began, he gave to the world other demonstrations of his impartiality between the two great parties which convulsed the Roman world. He wrote to both Alexander and Arius, the Bishop and Presbyter. He begins his letter to Alexander and Arius by declaring that his reason for interfering in the controversies of the empire was twofold : to make one notion of Deity common to all nations, and next to restore its former health to the diseased body of the Empire'. He had attempted the former object by conviction, the second by severity. After some observations, he proceeds to reprove both Alexander and Arius?. He reproved Alexander for originating the controversy, by asking the questions, which Arius had not answered satisfactorily, and he reproved Arius for his answers. He affirms the utter impossibility of satisfactorily answering the questions which may be always raised respecting the nature of the Deity; and the danger lest the common, or uninformed people, should unavoidably fall into blasphemy or schism. He reminds them that they did not differ on the meaning of the commandments, and exhorts them to imitate the examples of the philosophers, who though they disagreed, were not disunited'. He implores them to study union, and he conjures them to restore to himself his former tranquil days and unanxious nights'; for he could take no rest when his
* This beginning of the letter is in Eusebius, de Vita Const. lib. ii. c. lxiv. Ixv. IpūTov μεν γάρ την απάντων των εθνών περί το θείον πρόθεσιν. Valerius prefers διάθεσιν, or apóanyiv. Edit. Reding, p. 567, edit. fol. Cantab. 1720.
6 Το της κοινής οικουμένης σώμα καθάπερ χαλεπω τινί νοσήματι πάσχον κακώς, διορθώsartat a potovunOnv. Euseb. de Vita Const. ii. c. Ixv. ; but see the note of Valesius, ut supra, and the corrections and additions which he there suggests. It is impossible, consistently with any moderate limits to this essay, to discuss every various reading to the passages referred to in the text of Eusebius.
1 Eusebius, de Vit. Const. ii. 69, thus addressed the conflicting parties : "Otɛ yùp où, ở "Αλέξανδρε, παρά των πρεσβυτέρων εζήτεις, τί δή ποτε αυτών έκαστος υπέρ τινος τόπου των εν τω νόμω γεγραμμένων, μάλλον δ' υπέρ ματαίου τινός ζητήσεως μέρους επυνθάνου, σύ τε, ώ 'Αρειε, τούθ' όπερ ή μήτε την αρχήν ενθυμηθήναι, ή ενθυμηθέντα σιωπή παραδούναι προσήκον ήν απροόπτως εντέθεικας ; όθεν της εν υμίν διχονοίας έγερθείσης, η μεν σύνοδος ηρνήθη. .
εξ όποτέρου τούτων, ή βλασφημίας, η σχίσματος είς ανάγκης ο δήμος περισταίη. Euseb. de Vit. Const. 1. ii. c. 69 ; but see again Valesius' Note, and the wording of the passage in Socrates, Gelasius, and Nicephorus, there referred to.
9 I am not considering the propriety or impropriety of the opinions of the emperor, or the nature of the dispute;—Mr. Newman's arguments (History of the Arians, &c.) in favour of the absolute necessity of the setting forth its creed by the Universal Church, are unanswerable ;but showing only the impartiality of Constantine at this time.
1'Απόδοτε ουν μοι γαληνάς μεν ημέρας, νύκτας δ' άμερίμνους. Ιb. cap. 72,