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Chapter XII.—Aëtius, the Syrian, and Eudoxius, the Successor of Leontius in Antioch. Concerning the Term “Consubstantial.”

About this time,13121312    iii. 15, and references there; Athan. de Synodis, 8, 38; Soc. ii. 35, 36; cf. Theodoret, H. E. ii. 24. Aëtius broached his peculiar opinions concerning the Godhead. He was then deacon of the church of Antioch, and had been ordained by Leontius.13131313    So also says Socrates. But Epiphanius asserts that he was ordained by George of Alexandria in Taurus. Adv. hæres. iii. 1, 38 (hæres. lxxiii.). He maintained, like Arius, that the Son is a created being, that He was created out of nothing, and that He is dissimilar from the Father. As he was extremely addicted to contention, very bold in his assertions on theological subjects, and prone to have 308recourse to a very subtle mode of argumentation, he was accounted a heretic, even by those who held the same sentiments as himself. When he had been, for this reason, excommunicated by the heterodox, he feigned a refusal to hold communion with them, because, they had unjustly admitted Arius into communion after he had perjured himself by declaring to the Emperor Constantine that he maintained the doctrines of the council of Nicæa. Such is the account given of Aëtius.

While the emperor was in the West, tidings arrived of the death of Leontius, bishop of Antioch. Eudoxius requested permission of the emperor to return to Syria, that he might superintend the affairs of that church. On permission being granted, he repaired with all speed to Antioch, and installed himself as bishop of that city without the sanction of George, bishop of Laodicea; of Mark, bishop of Arethusa; of the other Syrian bishops; or of any other bishop to whom the right of ordination pertained. It was reported that he acted with the concurrence of the emperor, and of the eunuchs belonging to the palace, who, like Eudoxius, favored the doctrines of Aëtius, and believed that the Son is dissimilar from the Father. When Eudoxius found himself in possession of the church of Antioch, he ventured to uphold this heresy openly. He assembled in Antioch all those who held the same opinions as himself, among whom was Acacius, bishop of Tyre, and rejected the terms, “of like substance,” and “consubstantial,” under the pretext that they had been denounced by the Western bishops. For Hosius, with some of the priests there, had certainly, with the view of arresting the contention excited by Valens, Ursacius, and Germanius,13141314    Otherwise called Germinius. He was afterwards promoted to the bishopric of Sirmium, according to Athan. Hist. Arian. 74; cf. de Synodis, 1, 8. consented, though by compulsion,13151315    See, above, chap. vi. near the end. at Sirmium, as it is reported, to refrain from the use of the terms “consubstantial” and “of like substance,” because such terms do not occur in the Holy Scriptures, and are beyond the understanding of men.13161316    Athanasius also excuses the lapse of Hosius on the ground that he acted under compulsion. They13171317    Not the individual letter of Eudoxius, according to some readings, but of the Synod of Antioch. sent an epistle to the bishops as though these sustained the writings of Hosius on this point, and conveyed their thanks to Valens, Ursacius, and Germanius, because they had given the impulse of right views to the Western bishops.


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