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285Chapter V.—The Partial Council of Antioch; it deposed Athanasius; it substituted Gregory; its Two Statements of the Faith; those who agreed with them.

Soon after these occurrences, the emperor went to Antioch, a city of Syria.12211221    Soc. ii. 7. Here a church had already been completed, which excelled in size and beauty. Constantine began to build it during his lifetime, and as the structure had been just finished by his son Constantius, it was deemed a favorable opportunity by the partisans of Eusebius, who of old were zealous for it, to convene a council. They, therefore, with those from various regions who held their sentiments, met together in Antioch;12221222    Soc. ii. 8–10. Soz. with independent matter borrows from the same sources as Soc., one of which is Athan. de Synodis, 22–25. their bishops were about ninety-seven in number. Their professed object was the consecration of the newly finished church; but they intended nothing else than the abolition of the decrees of the Nicæan Council, and this was fully proved by the sequel. The Church of Antioch was then governed by Placetus,12231223    Also called Flaccillus. Soc. ii. 8. who had succeeded Euphronius. The death of Constantine the Great had taken place about five years prior to this period. When all the bishops had assembled in the presence of the emperor Constantius, the majority expressed great indignation, and vigorously accused Athanasius of having contemned the sacerdotal regulation which they had enacted,12241224    Cf. Soc. ii. 10. and taken possession of the bishopric of Alexandria without first obtaining the sanction of a council. They also deposed that he was the cause of the death of several persons, who fell in a sedition excited by his return; and that many others had on the same occasion been arrested and delivered up to the judicial tribunals. By these accusations they contrived to cast odium on Athanasius, and it was decreed that Gregory should be invested with the government of the Church of Alexandria. They then turned to the discussion of doctrinal questions, and found no fault with the decrees of the council of Nice. They dispatched letters to the bishops of every city, in which they declared that, as they were bishops themselves, they had not followed Arius. “For how,” said they, “could we have been followers of him, when he was but a presbyter,12251225    Athan. de Synodis, 22. and we were placed above him?” Since they were the testers of his faith, they had readily received him; and they believed in the faith which had from the beginning been handed down by tradition. This they further explained at the bottom of their letter, but without mentioning the substance of the Father or the Son, or the term consubstantial. They resorted, in fact, to such ambiguity of expression, that neither the Arians nor the followers of the decrees of the Nicæan Council could call the arrangement of their words into question, as though they were ignorant of the holy Scriptures. They purposely avoided all forms of expression which were rejected by either party, and only made use of those which were universally admitted. They confessed12261226    This creed is given in Athan. de Synodis, 23. Cf. Soc. ii. 10; here only in a suggestion and criticism. that the Son is with the Father, that He is the only begotten One, and that He is God, and existed before all things; and that He took flesh upon Him, and fulfilled the will of His Father. They confessed these and similar truths, but they did not describe the doctrine of the Son being co-eternal or consubstantial with the Father, or the opposite. They subsequently changed their minds, it appears, about this formulary, and issued another,12271227    Theophronius’ statement is passed over, and the final creed is here given in summary. Athan. de Synodis, 24, 25. which, I think, very nearly resembled that of the council of Nice, unless, indeed, some secret meaning be attached to the words which is not apparent to me. Although they refrained—I know not from what motive—from saying that the Son is consubstantial, they confessed that He is immutable, that His Divinity is not susceptible of change, that He is the perfect image of the substance, and counsel, and power, and glory of the Father, and that He is the first-born of every creature. They stated that they had found this formulary of faith, and that it was entirely written by Lucianus,12281228    This person was a presbyter of Antioch. Cf. vi. 12; Philost. ii. 12–14; Eus. H. E. ix. 6. who was martyred in Nicomedia, and who was a man highly approved and exceedingly accurate in the sacred Scriptures. I know not whether this statement was really true, or whether they merely advanced it in order to give weight to their own document, by connecting with it the dignity of a martyr. Not only did Eusebius (who, on the expulsion of Paul, had been transferred from Nicomedia to the throne of Constantinople) participate in this council, but likewise Acacius, the successor of Eusebius Pamphilus, Patrophilus, bishop of Scythopolis, Theodore, bishop of Heraclea, formerly called Perinthus, Eudoxius, bishop of Germanicia, who subsequently directed the Church of Constantinople after Macedonius, and Gregory, who had been chosen to preside over the Church of Alexandria. It was universally acknowledged that all these bishops held the same sentiments, such as Dianius,12291229    He is also called Dianœus. bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, George, bishop of Laodicea in Syria, and many others who acted as bishops over metropolitan and other distinguished churches.


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