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Chapter XXV.—The Macedonians and Acacians meet at Antioch, and proclaim their Assent to the Nicene Creed.

Meanwhile the state of the church was by no means tranquil; for the heads of the sects assiduously paid their court to the emperor their king that protection for themselves meant also power against their acknowledged opponents. And first the Macedonians presented a petition to him, in which they begged that all those who asserted the Son to be unlike the Father, might be expelled from the churches, and themselves allowed to take their place. This supplication was presented by Basil bishop of Ancyra, Silvanus of Tarsus, Sophronius of Pompeiopolis, Pasinicus of Zelæ,561561    The mss. and all the Greek texts read Ζήνων, making the name ‘Pasinicus Zenon, or Zeno.’ The translation here given assumes the alteration in the process of transcription of a single letter making the original Ζηλῶν, which probably means the city of Zeleia, on the southeastern coast of the Euxine, famous for a victory of Mithridates over Triarius, the lieutenant of Lucullus, in 67 b.c. Leontius of Comana, Callicrates of Claudiopolis, and Theophilus of Castabala. The emperor having perused it, dismissed them without any other answer than this: ‘I abominate contentiousness; but I love and honor those who exert themselves to promote unanimity.’ When this remark became generally known, it subdued the violence of those who were desirous of altercation and thus was realized in the design of the emperor. At this time the real spirit of the Acacian sect, and their readiness to accommodate their opinions to those invested with supreme authority, became more conspicuous than ever. For assembling themselves at Antioch in Syria, they entered into a conference with Melitius, who had separated from them a little before, and embraced the ‘homoousian’ opinion. This they did because they saw Melitius was in high estimation with the emperor, who then resided at Antioch; and assenting therefore by common consent, they drew up a declaration of their sentiments acknowledging the homoousion and ratifying the Nicene Creed and presented it to the emperor. It was expressed in the following terms.

‘The Synod of bishops convened at Antioch out of various provinces, to the most pious and beloved of God, our lord Jovian Victor Augustus.

‘That your piety has above all things aimed at establishing the peace and harmony of the church, we ourselves, most devout emperor, are fully aware. Nor are we insensible that you have wisely judged an acknowledgment of the 95orthodox faith to be the sum and substance of this unity. Wherefore lest we should be included in the number of those who adulterate the doctrine of the truth, we hereby declare to your piety that we embrace and steadfastly hold the faith of the holy Synod formerly convened at Nicæa. Especially since the term homoousios, which to some seems novel562562    This word, whose original is ξένον, is inserted by Valesius. If it were omitted, the translation would be, ‘which to some seems acceptable. and inappropriate, has been judiciously explained by the fathers to denote that the Son was begotten of the Father’s substance, and that he is like the Father as to substance. Not indeed that any passion is to be understood in relation to that ineffable generation. Nor is the term ousia, “substance,” taken by the fathers in any usual signification of it among the Greeks; but it has been employed for the subversion of what Arius impiously dared to assert concerning Christ, viz.—that he was made of things “not existing.” Which heresy the Anomœans, who have lately sprung up, still more audaciously maintain, to the utter destruction of ecclesiastical unity. We have therefore annexed to this our declaration, a copy of the faith set forth by the bishops assembled at Nicæa, with which also we are fully satisfied. It is this: “We believe in one God the Father Almighty,” and all the rest of the Creed in full. We, the undersigned, in presenting this statement, most cordially assent to its contents. Melitius bishop of Antioch, Eusebius of Samosata, Evagrius of Sicily, Uranius of Apamæa, Zoilus of Larissa, Acacius of Cæsarea, Antipater of Rhosus, Abramius of Urimi,563563    On the present borders of Turkey and Persia. Aristonicus of Seleucia-upon-Belus, Barlamenus of Pergamus, Uranius of Melitina, Magnus of Chalcedon, Eutychius of Eleutheropolis, Isacocis of Armenia Major, Titus of Bostra, Peter of Sippi,564564    According to Valesius Hippi. Pelagius of Laodicæa, Arabian of Antros, Piso of Adana through Lamydrion a presbyter, Sabinian bishop of Zeugma, Athanasius of Ancyra through Orphitus and Aëtius presbyters, Irenion bishop of Gaza, Piso of Augusta, Patricius of Paltus through Lamyrion a presbyter, Anatolius bishop of Berœa, Theotimus of the Arabs, and Lucian of Arca.’565565    The name of this city is variously given as Archis, Arca, Arcæ, Arcas, Arcæa, Arcena. It lies at the foot of Mount Lebanon. See Joseph. Antiq. V. 1 and de Bello, XII. 13.

This declaration we found recorded in that work of Sabinus, entitled A Collection of the Acts of Synods. Now the emperor had resolved to allay if possible the contentious spirit of the parties at variance, by bland manners and persuasive language toward them all; declaring that he ‘would not molest any one on account of his religious sentiments, and that he should love and highly esteem such as would zealously promote the unity of the church.’ The philosopher Themistius attests that such was his conduct, in the oration he composed on his ‘consulate.’ For he extols the emperor for his overcoming the wiles of flatterers by freely permitting every one to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience. And in allusion to the check which the sycophants received, he facetiously observes566566    Themist. Orat. V. (p. 80, ed. Harduin). that experience has made it evident that such persons ‘worship the purple and not God; and resemble the changeful Euripus,567567    Straits between Eubœa and the mainland. which sometimes rolls its waves in one direction, and at others the very opposite way.’


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