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The Greek and Eastern Churches/Part 1/Division 1/Chapter 3

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CHAPTER III

ARIANISM

 

(a) The historians mentioned in the previous chapter; Athanasius, Orationes Con. Arianos, Hist. Arianorum, etc.; fragments of Philostorgius, the Arian historian.

(b) Gwatkin, Arian Controversy, 1889, a masterly authority; Newman, Arians of the Fourth Century, 1838—the 2nd edition, 1854, is unaltered, a vigorous but polemical treatise; Hefele, History of the Councils, Eng. Trans., vol. i., 1872.

 

Arianism caused the most serious division in the Church that has occurred during the whole course of the history of Christendom. It was the most momentous subject of controversy during the fourth century, the age of the greatest Fathers of the Eastern Church, the age of its keenest polemics and most masterly theological literature. The Nicene Creed, the essential standard of doctrine for the orthodox in the East, was formulated for the express purpose of excluding and crushing this heresy, which at times held its head so high, encouraged by imperial favour, that it threatened to dominate the Church and supplant the rival orthodox theology. So serious was the question deemed to be, that it was treated as of primary importance to the State, and the chief factor of politics throughout the century was the attitude of the emperors towards Arianism. During all this time it was essentially a question of the Eastern Church; the West was but little affected, although a protagonist in the controversy was Hosius of Cordova. Hilary of Poitiers was the only Western theologian of importance to take part in the controversy at this early stage. Much later, after Arianism had been stamped out in the East, it became dominant in the West, coming in with the invading Goths who were heretics without knowing it, having become such in a way by accident, simply because the great missionary Ulfilas, to whom they owed their conversion happened to be an Arian. Thus the later Arianism of the West was purely adventitious, a mere result of the migration of peoples. The real home of Arianism is the East, and it is with the Eastern Church that the great controversy is almost entirely concerned. It therefore demands some attention in the present volume, although it has been treated in two previous works of the same Series.[1]

The origin of this tremendous controversy, which shook the whole fabric of the Church down to its foundations—like that of many a mighty river which may be traced back to a little runnel of water trickling down the hillside—was seemingly quite insignificant. Arius, from whom the heresy derives its name, was a presbyter of the Church at Alexandria, where the presbyterate retained its importance longer than in other places, and he exercised the functions of pastor in the neighbouring village church of Baukalis from about the year a.d. 313. Five years later (a.d. 318) he accused his bishop Alexander of Sabellianism. That his motive in doing so was jealousy on account of his disappointment at not having been elected to the episcopate has not been proved, and we must always be on our guard against the personalities that are continually being bandied to and fro among the ecclesiastical controversialists, and constitute the most painful and humiliating features of Church history. Alexander saved the situation by turning the tables on his daring opponent and accusing Arius of false teaching. Thus, as has often happened, the heresyhunter himself turned out to be a heretic. There can be no doubt in this case that Arius was in the wrong. That Alexander was not a Sabellian is proved by his statement of his views contained in an important epistle. On the other hand, undoubtedly Arius was a heretic, in the technical sense of the term; that is to say, lie advocated private opinions that were at variance with the general trend of Church teaching.

Although Arianism sprang up in Alexandria, its roots have been traced back to Antioch. Origen had taught a strong subordination doctrine; but he had affirmed the eternal generation of the Son, and the tone and temper of his thought were alien to what we see in Arianism. The great Alexandrian theology was intensely Platonic, and the development of the orthodox faith during the fourth century was largely controlled by an infusion of Platonism; but the dry, hard, logical method of Arius was Aristotelian, and so was that of the school of Antioch. Harnack says, "This school is the parent of Arian doctrine and Lucian its head is the Arius before Arius."[2] Nevertheless, Professor Gwatkin traces it to Alexandrian heathenism.

The gravamen of Arius' objection to Alexander's teaching was the doctrine of the eternity of the Son of God, which, he maintained, involved Sabellianism. On the other hand, the non-eternity of the Second Person of the Trinity was the starting-point of Arianism. Pressed into a corner, Arius will not say that "there was a time when He was not," because time itself did not then exist, since it began with creation, and He was before all other things; but he affirms that "there was when He was not." As he develops his system the following features emerge:—

1. The unity of God. He alone is neither generated nor created—eternal, essential being, τὸ ὄν, Deity apart from all else. Arius is in sympathy with the heathen and later Jewish conception of the transcendence of God.

2. The independent personality of Christ. Here Arius is in direct antagonism to Sabellianism. Extreme opponents of Arius—Marcellus, Photius, etc.—went over the knife-edge of orthodoxy on the other side and became Sabellian. Every system of thought that has enlisted the sympathies of earnest men has its merits, and one of the merits of Arianism is that it tended to rescue the idea of a Mediator, of an actual personal Redeemer of the world revealed in the gospel, au idea that was becoming swamped in metaphysical conceptions of the Godhead.

3. The origin of Christ by creation. According to Arius, the sonship of Christ was only a figurative conception. God could not really have a Son begotten of His own nature. Christ must have been made, created out of nothing, and that by the will of God. He was made before all other creatures; and the difference between His origin and that of the rest of the universe was that He was created directly by God, while all other existences that came into being were created through Him.

4. He had no human soul. The exalted being Christ came down and was incarnate in a human body; that was all. Thus the problem of the nature of Christ was simplified. There was no complexity of a double consciousness.

5. Christ was naturally mutable. He could turn to evil, if He so chose.

6. A somewhat inconsistent part of the system was the contention that Christ received Divine honours in recognition of His worthy conduct. At this point Arianism is linked on to adoptionism. It is not easy to harmonise such a conception with Arius's idea of the pre-existing Christ; but the reconciliation is sought in the Divine foreknowledge. God foresaw how Christ would conduct Himself and rewarded Him accordingly by anticipation.

Arianism was an extremely simple system; herein was its recommendation. It professed to be free from the obscurities of the popular theology. It banished mystery from religion. Its appeal was to logic. Further, it claimed to be conservative, falling back on the verbal sense of Scripture against the speculative elaborations of metaphysical theology; but its range of scriptural authority was small, a mere group of texts arbitrarily selected and in some cases wilfully misapplied. In this matter both parties were almost equally guilty of offending against sound principles of textual exegesis.

Still, when we make due allowance for all such considerations, it may yet strike us as remarkable that a system so artificial in structure, and so harsh in outline, should have won its way in the Church. The objections to it were obvious. On the face of it Arianism toned down the honour that enthusiastic Christians were eagerly offering to their Lord. While it allowed of a Mediator, this strange being was neither God nor man, neither united to the Divine on the one hand nor to the human on the other. Thus the gulf still remained unbridged, and all that was offered was a monstrous figure standing isolated in the middle of it; or if we view the idea another way, while Christ was not one with us in human nature, He did belong to our created nature, so that if we think of God on one side of the gulf and creation on the other, Christ adheres completely to the side of creation, and there is no real mediation at all. Nevertheless, it is allowed that some measure of worship may be offered to Him, and He may be called God in a secondary sense, as the locust is called the "great power" of God.[3] But then, since He is but a creature, such worship is the worship of the creature, that is to say, idolatry. The essential paganism of the scheme was apparent to Athanasius, who urged this charge home against the Arians. They were importing the demi-god of the heathen world into the Church of the only true, living God.

Since these objections are obvious, we may wonder how it came about that Arianism got a lodgment in the Church, spread so rapidly, and attained to so much influence as was the case. Something may be set down to the personal fascination of its author. Athanasius' first attack on the heresy is based on its name, the Arians naming themselves after a man while the orthodox called themselves simply "Christians." This is significant, showing that the name was not a label attached to them by their enemies, like the title "Swedenborgian" commonly given to the community that calls itself the "New Church." The Arians were proud of Arius—at least this was the case in the early days; later, when opprobrium had been heaped on his name, some of them were not so eager to claim it.

Arius appears before us as a strange figure—a tall, gaunt man, wearing his hair in a tangled mass, with a wild look in his eyes, and restless convulsive movements in his limbs, ascetic in his habits, generally grave and silent, but capable of fierce excitement when fairly roused, and very attractive in the earnestness of his manner and the sweetness of his voice. He resorted to a dubious device for the popularising of his doctrines, composing dry, didactic hymns in the metre of vulgar banquet songs, to the scandal of sober Churchmen, but indicating that he knew how to catch the ear of the public. These hymns would be sung to lively music and dancing—a curious compound of worldly gaiety and orgiastic pagan practices, inherited from the ancient religion of the Egyptians and continued down to the present day in the weird practices of the dervishes.

Still, it is doubtful if Arius would have made much headway if he had been left to propagate his ideas on their own merits and only by the force of his unaided influence. Alexander summoned a synod of neighbouring bishops which excommunicated the heretic, who then left Egypt and visited leading ecclesiastics in Syria and Asia Minor, from some of whom he received sympathetic treatment. But there was one man whose adhesion was the making of his cause. This was Eusebius of Nicomedia, the most powerful prelate in the East, an old friend of Arius, who soon became the real leader of the party, and to whom must be attributed the political character of the movement in its subsequent development. With the obscure presbyter Arius it was only a ferment working locally; under the hands of the great bishop Eusebius it leaped into imperial importance, so that the settlement of it became a first concern of the State with Constantine himself. After this, political intrigues in the interests of men and parties had more influence in its dominance and extension than theological arguments. Although for long periods Arianism was the recognised religion of Eastern Christendom, this was mainly because the plots of diplomacy had secured for it imperial favour. A majority of the bishops of the Greek portion of the Church were Arian for a time, but only because the adherents of the opposite party had been violently deposed by acts of despotism and their successors thrust into their sees and imposed upon their flocks against the will of the people. There is nothing to show that the main body of the Church in the East was ever Arian; and certainly this was never the case in the West. Lastly, we must notice how the Arians obtained support from an unexpected quarter quite adventitiously, by the adhesion of the Meletians. These people, the party of Meletius, a bishop of Lycopolis, the modern Assiūt—in the fourth century second only in importance to Alexandria, who had been condemned purely on grounds of discipline and apart from any suspicion of doctrinal error, threw in their lot with the Arians, and so helped to swell the body of the heretics in common opposition to the dominant majority.

Fortified by the encouragement he had obtained when on his travels, Arius returned to Alexandria and organised a church of his followers in defiance of his bishop. This was an act of independence which could only be regarded by an ecclesiastic as one of rebellion. The crisis was becoming acute. So widespread was the quarrel now, and so bitter the spirit it was engendering, that it became a matter of serious concern to Constantine. This is a plain proof of its great importance.

Here is a pitiable situation indeed, a most painful instance of the irony of history. No sooner has peace been established between State and Church than the State interferes to preserve the peace of the Church. Still half a pagan, quite a novice, in character sadly below the Christian standard, the recently converted emperor finds it necessary to rebuke the faults of the Church in order to prevent it from ruining its own cause. One might have thought that the Christians would have blushed for shame to have brought down upon their heads the moral disapproval of a convert. But that would be viewing the case from the emperor's point of view. To Alexander and his friends it would appear in a very different light. Constantine wrote a letter to Alexander urging a settlement of the dispute, on the calm assumption that the ground of it was quite trivial, and treating the bishops concerned almost as though they were a group of quarrelling schoolboys. Thus he says in the course of his letter: "For the cause of your difference has not been any of the leading doctrines or precepts of the Divine law, nor has any new heresy respecting the worship of God arisen among you. You are in truth of one and the same judgment; you may therefore well join in communion and fellowship. For as long as you continue to contend about these small and very insignificant questions, it is not fitting that so large a portion of God's people should be under the direction of your judgment, since you are thus divided between yourselves."[4] In reading such words we do not know whether to admire most the amazing arrogance that presumes to attempt the settlement of religious difference by a message of imperial authority, or the sublime simplicity that is totally incapable of perceiving the gravity of the question at issue or the depth of the fissure in the Church that it is producing. Not a "new heresy"—"one and the same judgment"—"small and very insignificant questions"—these are phrases that indicate total incapacity to grasp the actual issues of the dispute. The letter is a living, characteristic document, in every paragraph revealing its writer as the man of the world who would brush aside the most serious theological discussions as mere hair-splitting, but also the earnest, practical statesman who is anxious to establish peace in the community for the government of which he is responsible.

Constantine's object was excellent; but it was not long before he learnt that the first method he had employed for securing it was utterly futile. This olive branch had no effect whatever; the document was literally a dead letter. It had been accompanied by one of the emperor's chaplains, a man highly venerated in the Church, who was to play a prominent part in the subsequent negotiations, Hosius, the bishop of Cordova.

But even this good and able man's efforts at effecting a settlement on the spot were quite abortive. Then the emperor resorted to another method much wiser, much more practical. He summoned the bishops of the whole Church to discuss the question and settle it by vote. This is the first instance of any attempt at a gathering representing the general body of Christians throughout the world. Local councils had been held in various districts—in Asia, at Home, at Aries, at Carthage, at Alexandria, and elsewhere. Now for the first time there was summoned a general council, as distinguished from a provincial synod. It was the large-minded, widely comprehensive imperialism of Constantine that gave birth to the idea. The emperor summoned the council and paid the expenses of the members out of the funds of the State. This precedent was so much recognised in the summoning of later councils that the Church of England formally recognised it in the 21st of the Thirty-nine Articles: "General councils may not be gathered together but by the commandment and will of princes." Still, this council aimed at going beyond the limits of the empire in including the whole Church, and in point of fact two bishops from beyond its border—John of Persia and Theophilus of Scythia—were present in the assembly. The great idea was that the Church was to settle its disputes for itself. "Councils," writes Dean Stanley when summing up their characteristics, "are also the first precedents of the principle of representative government."[5] Presbyters and deacons were present, as well as bishops; and the latter were really popular representatives, since they had been elected by universal suffrage in their churches.

This first and most momentous general council met in the year a.d. 325 at Nicæa, a small town at the head of a sea loch where the Bithynian mountains descend towards the shore not far from Nicomedia, the emperor's Eastern capital before the building of Constantinople. The quarrel in the Church that occasioned the summoning of the bishops arose in the East and essentially concerned the East; the council met in the East; it consisted almost entirely of the representatives of Eastern churches. Although bishops had been called from all over the empire, and beyond, and although the proceedings of the council were recognised and endorsed in the West, it was to all intents and purposes an Oriental assembly. The same may be said of all the ancient councils; they were all held in the East and they all consisted almost entirely of Eastern prelates. At Nicæa there were only seven bishops from the whole area covered by the Latin Church. Sylvester, the bishop of Rome, was not present, his age being his reason or excuse for not attending, and he was represented by two presbyters. This was in no sense a papal council. It was not summoned by the pope; it was not presided over by the pope. Hefele argues that Hosius, who sat in a place of honour next to the emperor, was really in this position because he represented the West for the pope. But his close relations with Constantine and the leading part he had taken in the preliminary negotiations added to the weight of his personal character will account for the dignified position that was accorded to him. Besides, Sylvester's representation by the two presbyters is inconsistent with this notion. In the absence of the emperor Hosius appears to have presided in turn with three other bishops, Eustathius of Antioch, Alexander of Alexandria, and Eusebius of Cæsarea—the learned historian whom we must not confound with the Arian leader, Eusebius of Nicomedia. These three were all Eastern bishops.

The dangerous temper of the assembly was seen at the commencement, in the fact that a number of letters containing charges against various bishops were presented to the emperor; and Constantine's good sense and pacific intentions were as quickly revealed by his calling for a brazier at his first meeting with the council, and burning the whole sheaf of them unread. He had come to make peace, and his policy was toleration, not repression, or expulsion, or persecution. It was not his fault that the course of the discussion took another turn. Constantine spoke in a gentle voice and with a modest demeanour, calling himself a bishop, evidently with the sole object of softening the asperity of the debate and obtaining a pacific decision. But Arius was soon denounced in the most angry terms and expelled from the assembly.

Members of the lower clergy, although perhaps they had no votes, were allowed to be present and contribute to the discussion, so free and open was it. This liberty gave his opportunity to the hero of the whole controversy, the one man who was soon to tower head and shoulders over everybody else by sheer force of intellectual energy and moral earnestness, Alexander's attendant deacon, the young Athanasius. The romance of the Arian period circles round this great man in his strange adventures, his hairbreadth escapes, his magnanimous victories; but better than that, it is he who lifts the whole controversy out of the miserable arena of person and party, seizes on its really significant features, and holds to the vital issues notwithstanding calumny, spite, and brutal violence, with a tenacity that is perfectly heroic until he brings them out to a triumphant issue. Then, best of all, he reveals true greatness of soul and the generosity of a genuine Christian character, by insisting only on what is vital, by labouring to bury the old quarrel, by gladly welcoming back old opponents when they return to what he holds to be the true faith.

Guided by this young deacon, who soon proved himself to be the most masterly theologian present, the assembly that had quickly determined to stamp out Arianism was able to accomplish the more difficult task of settling the positive creed of the Church. And yet Athanasius was far too real and large-minded to care much for the mere phrases of any creed. It is a significant fact that while he is the indomitable champion of the Nicene ideal, he rarely uses in his writings the term that became the watchword of the Nicene party and their battle-cry in conflict with opponents—the word Homoousios.[6] At an early stage of the discussion the Arians saw that there was no chance of their own specific phrases being allowed by the council. Accordingly they fell back on Scripture language. In their simplicity the majority of the Fathers seemed disposed to acquiesce in this way out of the difficulty. Then a bombshell was thrown into the meeting in the shape of a letter from Eusebius of Nicomedia, declaring the assertion that the Son was uncreated to be equivalent to saying that He was of one essence (homoousios) with the Father. The assembly seized on the word; it was just what they wanted. The Son was of one essence with the Father. So the fight raged round this word. Here the Arians had a certain advantage over their opponents. There was a taint of heresy about it. We first meet with it in a description of the notions of the Gnostic Valentinus.[7] And although, according to Pamphilus, it was used by Origen, and Tertullian employs the Latin equivalent of the relation of the Son to the Father,[8] it had been subsequently condemned in a synod at Antioch in connection with the heresy of Paul of Samosata, either as descriptive of his own idea of the Godhead, or in repudiation of Sabellian tendencies by his opponents. Thus the Arians were able to appeal to precedent, and pose as conservatives, when really appealing to prejudice. These two courses—the claim to use only Bible language in opposition to the defining phrases of scientific theology, and the objection to a dubious term as a dangerous innovation in the language of the Church—gave Eusebius and his friends some hold on the majority of the council, which consisted of country pastors of no theological pretensions. It became necessary to expose the Arian tactics, and this was done successfully. Nevertheless, when the reaction came it was made apparent that the final decision of the council had been rather acquiesced in by the majority than intelligently conceived and earnestly desired. Certainly the majority were not Arian; but neither were they at this time convinced of the necessity of the technical language of the opponents of Arianism. Left to themselves they would have been satisfied with a simpler solution; but they were overawed by a few men of superior culture and great determination—especially Alexander, Athanasius, and Hosius. It was in this way that at length they were led to give an almost unanimous vote for the final definition.

The creed thus adopted was based on an old Palestinian confession introduced by Eusebius of Cæsarea. Hitherto there had been no one form of words accepted by all Christians as an expression of their faith. Although the "rule of faith" was recognised by Irenæus and insisted on with great vehemence by Tertullian, this could not have existed in any rigid verbal form, because it is variously worded in different places. Therefore the phrase would seem to represent simply a generally understood common agreement of belief. Still, as early as this time, i.e. by about the end of the second century, we have the Apostles' Creed at Rome in its primitive form. This, which is the most elementary of the creeds, is based on the baptismal formula,[9] the basis of all the creeds. But there is no reason to believe that any elaborate creed was actually repeated by converts at baptism. At first renunciation of the old life and faith in Christ were the only requisites. In the Æthiopic version of the Apostolical Constitutions, representing the oldest text, the candidate for baptism says, "I believe in the only true God, the Father Almighty, and in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, and in the Holy Ghost the Giver of life"—with other phrases which must have been inserted after the council of Nicæa. Meanwhile the creeds were growing up, probably as schedules of doctrine in use by the teachers of catechumens. In this way the example of Rome was followed, and thus among others was produced that early Palestinian creed which was adopted as the base of the Nicene Creed. When this was adopted by the council it became the first creed established by authority for the whole Church. Even then only the clergy were required to sign it. It was a test for the clergy, not a condition of membership in the Church. The laity were not required to assent to it. And yet a great step had been taken towards the fixing of orthodoxy. Hitherto there had been no one formal standard by which a Church teacher's doctrine could be settled. Now there was an end to this Ante-Nicene liberty. Henceforth any divergence from the established formula on the part of a bishop or priest would involve the loss of office and even excommunication. A series of stern anathemas was added to the creed to secure this end. All the members of the council were required to sign the document; the five who refused were deposed from the posts they held and expelled from the Church. The Catholic Church was now to be the orthodox Church, and orthodoxy was made the test of Catholicity.

On the other hand, it should be noted that points not in the creed were left open. When we consider how large a part of the field of theology was thus not fenced in, the silence becomes significant: moreover, if a standard of orthodoxy was necessary, here was one that guarded the very citadel of the faith. After all, when we penetrate behind phrases to facts, we see that with an earnest, large-minded man such as Athanasius the real test was not subscription to a highly technical creed; it was what that subscription implied, namely, loyalty to the Divine-human Christ.

Some other matters were also settled at the council of Nicæa. The Paschal controversy, which had divided some of the churches of Asia Minor who kept Easter on the Jewish plan only according to the day of the month, from the churches of the West and others that agreed with them who fixed it according to the day of the week, was decided in favour of the Western usage. At the time many thought this as important as the Arian question. The Meletians were condemned and their ordination disallowed. Lastly, certain canons of discipline were passed. But the council had been summoned to settle the Arian dispute and its decision on this was absolute and peremptory. Then Constantine came in with the power of the State to enforce the ruling of the Church, denouncing the Arians as "Porphyrians," banishing Arius and his few determined followers, and ordering all Arian books to be burnt—which indeed was not so cruel as the action of the princes of the time of the Inquisition, who burnt the heretics themselves—and threatening death to anybody detected in concealing a book compiled by Arius[10]—a most significant, a truly ominous threat.

Nevertheless, the dispute was far from being settled. Instead of being the end, this was but the beginning of the great Arian controversy which was to ravage the Church and almost rend the empire for more than half a century longer, and even after that to linger on and break out again in unexpected quarters. It is true that at first the Arian protest was reduced to insignificant proportions. Two of Arius's friends deserted him and signed the creed; so that of the five who had supported Arius throughout the discussion only two bishops stood by him at the . end and shared his penalty of exile. But a sign of coming trouble might have been detected in the conciliatory action of one of the most pacific of men. Eusebius of Cæsarea, the famous historian, the most learned scholar of his day, wrote to his Church explaining the sense in which he had signed the creed; and his explanation amounted to what was afterwards known as "Semi-Arianism," for he interpreted the test word "homoousios" in the sense of resemblance, saying that "it suggests that the Son of God bears no resemblance to the creature, but is in every respect like the Father only who begat him."[11] Many must have given their assent to the creed without really knowing what they were signing; others must have been overawed by the imperial authority conjoined to the vehement insistence of the majority, and when released from the pressure of the council and the emperor's presence these people soon showed that they had no love for the creed, and some of them ventured to come forward as champions of Arius. Then an immense weight was swung into the scale of reaction. Constautine recalled the banished bishops and ordered the restoration of Arius. This amazing change of front has been attributed to the influence of his sister Constantia, who was a patroness of Eusebius of Nicomedia, to the fact—perhaps due to this court influence—that Eusebius superseded Hosius in the emperor's favour, to the diplomatic subtlety of the Arians, and to other causes, all of which may have played their parts in what had now become a political drama of huge dimensions. But we must not forget that Constantine's aim throughout was mainly peace and good order throughout his dominions. This was apparent in his first act of interference, the famous letter to Alexander. At first he had sought peace by silencing discussion; then, finding this expedient unsuccessful, he took the course of supporting uniformity and suppressing dissent; this too proving ineffectual, he returned to the idea of comprehension which he had advocated at first. But whether by forcible uniformity or by violent comprehensiveness, his aim was to end the irritating polemic. First he tried a soothing medicine; next he took up the surgeon's knife; finally he resorted to ecclesiastical splints, a forcible binding together of the body of the Church which he saw split by faction, working continuously with the one aim of ending the dispute. Thus at last the emperor appears in the paradoxical rôle of a despot insisting on toleration.

Worn out by fatigues and anxieties, the aged Alexander died three years after the council of Nicæa (a.d. 328), nominating Athanasius his deacon to be his successor as bishop of Alexandria. The Church accepted his nomination, and duly elected the champion of the faith. Nevertheless this decision was challenged, and the most cruel charges were trumped up against the new bishop by absolutely unscrupulous enemies. The next chapter in the history of the Arian dispute is largely occupied with the romantic story of the adventures of Athanasius, his startling vicissitudes of fortune, his hairbreadth escapes, his heroic course of fidelity, though at times he seemed to stand alone. But this isolation was more apparent than real, for probably at no time was the majority of people in the Church Arian. The West was always at heart with Athanasius, when this was possible openly so; and great numbers of quiet people in the East did not really acquiesce in the Arian tyranny to which they were forced to submit. But Athanasius never allowed himself to be coerced into yielding. Meanwhile there were synods, packed with Arian bishops—at Tyre, removed to Jerusalem (a.d. 335), and at Constantinople (a.d. 336). Athanasius was condemned at Tyre on trumpery charges and banished to Trêves by Constantine, and Alexander the bishop of Constantinople, to his consternation, was ordered to receive Arius into the Church. The sudden awful death of Arius at the height of his triumph saved the bishop from his dilemma. The next year Constantine died, taking care to be baptised in his last illness.

 
  1. Fisher, History of Christian Doctrine; Rainy, The Ancient Church.
  2. History of Dogma, Eng. Trans., vol. iv. p. 3.
  3. See Athanasius, Orat. Cont. Arian. i. 6.
  4. Vit. Const. ii. 70, 71.
  5. Eastern Church, Lecture ii.
  6. ὁμοούσιος.
  7. See Irenæus, Adv. Hær. i. 1.
  8. Unitate Substantiæ, Apol. xxi.; cf. Adv. Praxean. ii.
  9. Matt. xxviii. 19.
  10. Socrates, i. 9.
  11. Socrates, i. 8. There are several versions and accounts of the letter, but this appears to be the most sober and reliable.