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Chapter XVIII.—The Letter of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, concerning the same Council.

The great Athanasius also, in his letter to the Africans, writes thus about the council at Ariminum. “Under these circumstances who will tolerate any mention of the council of Ariminum or any other beside the Nicene? Who would not express detestation of the setting aside of the words of the Fathers, and the preference for those introduced at Ari84minum by violence and party strife? Who would wish to be associated with these men—fellows who do not, forsooth, accept their own words? In their own ten or a dozen synods they have laid down, as has been narrated already, now one thing now another; and at the present time these synods, one after another, they are themselves openly denouncing. They are now suffering the fate undergone of old by the traitors of the Jews. For as is written in the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah “they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water,565565    Jer. ii. 13 so these men, in their opposition to the Œcumenical synod, have hewed for themselves many synods which have all proved vain and like “buds that yield no meal,566566    Hosea viii. 7. The text “δράγματα μὴ ἔχοντα ἵσχύν” recalls the septuagint δράγμα οὐκ ἔχον ἴσχύν let us not therefore admit those who cite the council of Ariminum or any other but that of Nicæa, for indeed the very citers of Ariminum do not seem to know what was done there; if they had they would have held their tongues. For you, beloved, have learnt from your own representatives at that Council, and are consequently very well aware, that Ursacius, Valens, Eudoxius, and Auxentius, and with them Demophilus were asked to anathematize the Arian heresy, and made excuse, choosing rather to be its champions, and so were all deposed for making propositions contrary to the Nicene decrees. The bishops, on the contrary, who were the true servants of the Lord, and of the right faith,—about two hundred in number,—declared their adherence to the Nicene Council alone, and their refusal to entertain the thought of either subtraction from, or addition to, its decrees. This conclusion they have communicated to Constantius, by whose order the council assembled.

On the other hand the bishops who were deposed at Ariminum have been received by Constantius, and have succeeded in getting the two hundred who sentenced them grossly insulted, and threatened with not being allowed to return to their dioceses, and with having to undergo rigorous treatment in Thrace, and that in the winter, in order to force them to accept the innovators’ measures.

If, then, we hear any one appealing to Ariminum, show us, let us rejoin, first the sentence of deposition, and then the document drawn up by the bishops, in which they declare that they do not seek to go beyond the terms drawn up by the Nicene Fathers, nor appeal to any other council than that of Nicæa. In reality, these are just the facts they conceal, while they put prominently forward the forced confession of Thrace. They do but shew themselves friends of the Arian heresy, and strangers to the sound faith. Only let any one be willing to put side by side that great synod, and those others to which these men appeal, and he will perceive, on the one side, true religion, on the other, folly and disorder. The fathers of Nicæa met together not after being deposed, but after confessing that the Son was of the Substance of the Father. These men were deposed once, a second time, and again a third time at Ariminum, and then dared to lay down that it is wrong to attribute Substance or Essence to God. So strange and so many were the tricks and machinations concocted by the mad gang of Arius in the West against the dogmas of the Truth.


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