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Chapter LXIX.—Origin of the Controversy between Alexander and Arius, and that these Questions ought not to have been discussed.

I understand, then, that the origin of the present controversy is this. When you, Alexander, demanded of the presbyters what opinion they severally maintained respecting a certain passage in the Divine law,32163216    [The word νόμος seems to be commonly used by Eusebius as a general term for Divine revelation; as we employ the word “Scripture.”—Bag.] or rather, I should say, that you asked them something connected with an unprofitable question, then you, Arius, inconsiderately insisted on32173217    The plain English “stuck to” represents the idea of Heinichen (animo infixisses infixumque teneres) followed by Molz (mit unkluger Hartnäckigkeit festhieltest). Bag. had “gave utterance to,” and with this Vales., 1709, and Str. correspond. what ought never to have been conceived at all, or if conceived, should have been buried in profound silence. Hence it was that a dissension arose between you, fellowship was withdrawn,32183218    Bag.,“The meeting of the synod was prohibited.” and 517the holy people, rent into diverse parties, no longer preserved the unity of the one body. Now, therefore, do ye both exhibit an equal degree of forbearance,32193219    On “forgiveness.” and receive the advice which your fellow-servant righteously gives. What then is this advice? It was wrong in the first instance to propose such questions as these, or to reply to them when propounded. For those points of discussion which are enjoined by the authority of no law, but rather suggested by the contentious spirit which is fostered by misused leisure, even though they may be intended merely as an intellectual exercise, ought certainly to be confined to the region of our own thoughts, and not hastily produced in the popular assemblies, nor unadvisedly intrusted to the general ear. For how very few are there able either accurately to comprehend, or adequately to explain subjects so sublime and abstruse in their nature? Or, granting that one were fully competent for this, how many people will he convince? Or, who, again, in dealing with questions of such subtle nicety as these, can secure himself against a dangerous declension from the truth? It is incumbent therefore on us in these cases to be sparing of our words, lest, in case we ourselves are unable, through the feebleness of our natural faculties, to give a clear explanation of the subject before us, or, on the other hand, in case the slowness of our hearers’ understandings disables them from arriving at an accurate apprehension of what we say, from one or other of these causes the people be reduced to the alternative either of blasphemy or schism.


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