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Chapter XXXIX.—Of the Synod at Seleucia, in Isauria.

But I must now give an account of the other Synod, which the emperor’s edict had convoked in the east, as a rival to that of Ariminum. It was at first determined that the bishops should assemble at Nicomedia in Bithynia; but a great earthquake having nearly destroyed that city, prevented their being convened there. This happened in the consulate417417    358 a.d. of Tatian and Cerealis, on the 28th day of August.418418    In this calamity Cecropius, the bishop of Nicomedia, perished, and the splendid cathedral of the city was ruined; both of which misfortunes were attributed by the heathen to the wrath of their gods. See Sozom. IV. 16. They were therefore planning to transfer the council to the neighboring city of Nicæa: but this plan was again altered, as it seemed more convenient to meet at Tarsus in Cilicia. Being dissatisfied with this arrangement also, they at last assembled themselves at Seleucia, surnamed Aspera,419419    Τραχεῖα, on account of the neighboring steep mountains. This Seleucia was the capital of Isauria. a city of Isauria. This took place in the same year [in which the council of Ariminum was held], 68under the consulate of Eusebius and Hypatius,420420    359 a.d. See, on this double council of Ariminum and Seleucia, Hefele, Hist. of the Ch. Councils, Vol. II. p. 346–371. the number of those convened being about 160. There was present on this occasion Leonas, an officer of distinction attached to the imperial household, before whom the emperor’s edict had enjoined that the discussion respecting the faith should be entered into. Lauricius also, the commander-in-chief of the troops in Isauria, was ordered to be there, to serve the bishops in such things as they might require. In the presence of these personages therefore, the bishops were there convened on the 27th of the month of September, and immediately began a discussion on the basis of the public records, shorthand writers being present to write down what each might say. Those who desire to learn the particulars of the several speeches, will find copious details of them in the collection of Sabinus; but we shall only notice the more important heads. On the first day of their being convened, Leonas ordered each one to propose what he thought fit: but those present said that no question ought to be agitated in the absence of those prelates who had not yet arrived; for Macedonius, bishop of Constantinople, Basil of Ancyra, and some others who were apprehensive of an impeachment for their misconduct, had not made their appearance. Macedonius pleaded indisposition, and failed to attend; Patrophilus said he had some trouble with his eyes, and that on this account it was needful for him to remain in the suburbs of Seleucia; and the rest offered various pretexts to account for their absence. When, however, Leonas declared that the subjects which they had met to consider must be entered on, notwithstanding the absence of these persons, the bishops replied that they could not proceed to the discussion of any question, until the life and conduct of the parties accused had been investigated: for Cyril of Jerusalem, Eustathius of Sebastia in Armenia, and some others, had been charged with misconduct on various grounds long before. A sharp contest arose in consequence of this demur; some affirming that cognizance ought first to be taken of all such accusations, and others denying that anything whatever should have precedence of matters of faith. The emperor’s orders contributed not a little to augment this dispute, inasmuch as letters of his were produced urging now this and now that as necessary to be considered first. The dispute having arisen on this subject, a schism was thus made, and the Seleucian council was divided into two factions, one of which was headed by Acacius of Cæsarea in Palestine, George of Alexandria, Uranius of Tyre, and Eudoxius of Antioch, who were supported by only about thirty-two other bishops. Of the opposite party, which was by far the more numerous, the principal were George of Laodicea in Syria, Sophronius of Pompeiopolis in Paphlagonia, and Eleusius of Cyzicus. It being determined by the majority to examine doctrinal matters first, the party of Acacius openly opposed the Nicene Creed, and wished to introduce another instead of it. The other faction,421421    Cf Athan. de Synodd. 12. which was considerably more numerous, concurred in all the decisions of the council of Nicæa, but criticised its adoption of the term homoousion. Accordingly they debated on this point, much being said on each side, until late in the evening, when Silvanus, who presided over the church at Tarsus, insisted with much vehemence of manner, ‘that there was no need of a new exposition of the faith; but that it was their duty rather to confirm that which was published at Antioch,422422    See chaps. 8 and 10. at the consecration of the church in that place.’ On this declaration, Acacius and his partisans privately withdrew from the council; while the others, producing the creed composed at Antioch, read it, and then separated for that day. Assembling in the church of Seleucia on the day following, after having closed the doors, they again read the same creed, and ratified it by their signatures. At this time the readers and deacons present signed on behalf of certain absent bishops, who had intimated their acquiescence in its form.


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