3. Arian Tenets and Reasonings

The idea of Sonship includes in it two main relations viewed as regards paternity, non-priority of existence and community of nature. As used in theology, it is an analogous and indirect illustration (vid. Illustrations) of the Divine Truth which is the cardinal doctrine of Revelation, and what has to be determined is the special aspect under which we are intended to view it. For instance, it may be argued that, a son being junior in age to his father, and having a beginning, our Lord is not eternal, but a creature; or on the contrary, as the Catholic Church, as following Scripture, has ever taught, that, as the Son belongs to God's very essence and being, therefore, if God is from eternity uncreate, so is He. {35}

As God created the world out of nothing by an external, so He gave birth to the Son out of Himself by an internal; and if this divine generation be, as it is, incomprehensible, so also confessedly is the divine creation.

The Arians refused to our Lord the name of God, except in the sense in which they called Him Word and Wisdom, not as denoting His nature and essence, but as epithets really belonging to the Supreme Being alone or to His attributes, though from grace or by privilege transferred by Him in an improper sense to the creature. In this sense the Son could claim to be called God, but in no other.

The main argument of the Arians was that our Lord was a Son, and therefore was not eternal, but of a substance which had a beginning. With this Arius started in his dispute with Alexander. "Arius, a man not without dialectic skill, thinking that the Bishop was introducing the doctrine of Sabellius the Libyan, out of contention fell off into the opinion diametrically opposite, … and he says, 'If the Father begot the Son, he that was begotten had a beginning of existence; and from this it is plain that once the Son was not; and it follows of necessity that He had His subsistence out of nothing.'" Socr. i. 5. Accordingly, Athanasius says (in substance) early in his Decr., "Having argued with them as to the meaning of their own selected term, 'Son,' let us go on to others, which on their very face make for us, such as Word, Wisdom, &c."

In what sense then was "Son" to be predicated of the Divine Nature? The Catholics said that the true {36} meaning of the word was consubstantiality (co-essentiality) with the Father, whereas the point of posteriority to the Father depended on a condition, time, which could not exist in the instance of God.

But the Arians persisted, maintaining that a son has his origin of existence from his father; what has an origin has a beginning; what has a beginning is not from eternity; what is not from eternity is not God; forgetting, first, that origination and beginning are not convertible terms, and that the idea of a beginning is not bound up with the idea of an origin; and secondly, that a son not only has his origin of existence from his father, but also his nature, and all that is proper to his nature.

The Arians went on to maintain that to suppose a true Son, was to think of God irreverently, as implying division, change, composition, &c. The Catholics replied that the notion of materiality was quite as foreign from the Divine Essence as time, and as a Divine Sonship could be eternal, in like manner it implied neither composition nor development, [sumbebekos], [peribole] or [probole].

The Arians, moreover, argued in behalf of their characteristic tenet from the inferiority necessarily involved in the very idea of a Son. But since He was distinct from His Father, and inferior, He was not God; and, if not God, then He was created, even though a Son. Sonship was a mere quality or characteristic bestowed upon a creature. The Catholics, in answer, denied that a son was in his nature inferior to his father; just the reverse; and the question here simply was about {37} our Lord's nature, whether it was divine, whether He was of one, of the same, nature with the Father.

Though the Arians would not allow to Catholics that our Lord was Son by nature, and maintained that the word implied a beginning of existence, they were unwilling to say that He was Son merely in the sense in which we are sons, though, as Athan. contends, they necessarily tended to this conclusion, as soon as they receded from the Catholic view. Thus Arius said that He was a creature, "but not as one of the creatures." Orat. ii. § 19. Valens at Ariminum said the same. Jerom. adv. Lucifer. 18. Hilary says, that, not daring directly to deny that He was God, the Arians merely asked "whether He was a Son." De Trin. viii. 3.

If once they could be allowed to deny our Lord's proper divinity, they cared not what high titles they heaped upon Him in order to cloak over their heresy, and to calm the indignation and alarm which it roused; nay, in the case of many of the Semi-Arians, in order to hide the logical consequences of their misbelief from themselves. They did not like to call our Lord barely a creature; certainly the political party did not, who had to carry the Emperor with them, and, if possible, the laity. Anyhow, in their preaching He was the first of creatures; more than a creature, because a son, though they could not say what was meant by a son, as distinct from a creature: and so far they did in fact confess a mystery; that is, the Semi-Arians, such as Eusebius, as shown in a passage quoted in art. Son; though Arius and Arians proper, and the Anomœans, who spoke out, and had no fear of the Imperial Court, {38} avowed their belief that our Lord, like other creatures, was capable of falling. However, as represented by their Councils and Creeds, they readily called Him "a creature not as other creatures, an offspring not as other offsprings," the primeval and sole work of God, the Creator, and created in order to create, the one Mediator, the one Priest, God of the world, Image of the Most Perfect, the Mystical Word and Wisdom of the Highest, and, as expressive of all this, the Only begotten.

"What use is it," says Athan., "to pretend that He is a creature and not a creature? for though ye shall say, Not as 'one of the creatures,' I will prove this sophism of yours to be a poor one. For still ye pronounce Him to be one of the creatures; and whatever a man might say of the other creatures, such ye hold concerning the Son. For is any one of the creatures just what another is, that ye should predicate this of the Son as some prerogative?" Orat. ii. § 19. And so S. Ambrose, "Quæ enim creatura non sicut alia creatura non est? Homo non ut Angelus, terra non ut cœlum." De Fid. i. n. 130; and a similar passage in Nyss. contr. Eun. iii. p. 132, 3.

The question between Catholics and Arians was whether our Lord was a true Son, or only called Son. "Since they whisper something about Word and Wisdom as only names of the Son," &c. [onomata monon], Decr. § 16. "The title of Image too is not a token of a similar substance, but His name only," Orat. i. § 21; and so ii. § 38, where [tois onomasi] is synonymous with [kat epinoian], as Sent. D. 22, vid. also ibid. § 39; Orat. {39} iii. § 11, 18; "not named Son, but ever Son," iv. § 24, fin.; Ep. Æg. 16. "We call Him so, and mean truly what we say; they say it, but do not confess it." Chrysost. in Act. Hom. 33, 4. Vid. also [nothois hosper onomasi], Cyril. de Trin. ii. p. 418. "Non hæc nuda nomina," Ambros. de Fid. i. 17. Yet, though the Arians denied the reality of the Sonship, so it was that since Sabellianism went beyond them, as denying the divine Sonship in any sense, Orat. iv. 2, they were able to profess that they believed that our Lord was "true Son." E.g., this is professed by Arius, Syn. § 16; by Euseb. in Marc. pp. 19, 35, 161; by Asterius, Orat. ii. § 37; by Palladius and Secundianus in the Council of Aquileia ap. Ambros. Opp. t. 2, p. 791 (ed. Bened.); by Maximinus ap. August. contr. Max. i. 6. As to their sense of "real," it was no more than the sense in which Athan. uses the word of us, when he says [huiopoioumetha alethos].

When the Nicene controversialists maintained, on the contrary, that He was "true God," because He was "of true God," as the Creed speaks (vid. art. Son); of one nature with God as the offspring of man is of one nature with man, and of one essence as well as of one nature, because God is numerically one, the Arians in answer denied that, by reason of His being true Son therefore He was true God. They said that in order to be a true Son it was sufficient to partake of the Father's nature, that is, to have a certain portion of divinity, [metousia]; this all holy beings had, and without it they could not be holy; of this S. Peter speaks; but as this participation of the divine nature {40} does not make holy beings who possess it God, neither is the Son God, though He be Son [kurios kai alethos]. And it must be granted that the words [kurios] and [alethos] are applied by the Fathers themselves to the sonship conveyed in the gifts of regeneration and sanctification. (Arts. Father and Grace.)

The Catholics would reply that it was not a question of the use of terms: anyhow, to have a [metousia] of divinity, as creatures have, is not to have the divine [ousia], as our Lord has. No [metousia] is a proper [gennesis]. "When God is wholly partaken, this," says Athanasius, and we may add, this only, "is equivalent to saying He begets." In this sense Augustine says, "'As the Father has life in Himself, so hath He given also to the Son to have life in Himself,' not by participating, but in Himself. For we men have not life in ourselves, but in our God. But that Father, who has life in Himself, begat a Son such, as to have life in Himself, not to become partaker of life, but to be Himself life; and of that life to make us partakers." Serm. 127, de Verb. Evang. 9. It was plain, then, that, though the Arians professed to accept the word "Son" in its first and true sense, they did not understand it in its literal fulness, but in only a portion or aspect of its true sense, that is, figuratively.

Hence it stands in the Nicene Creed, "from the Father, that is, from the substance of the Father." Vid. Eusebius's Letter (Decr. App.). According to the received doctrine of the Church, all rational beings, and in one sense all beings whatever, are "from God," over and above the fact of their creation; and of this {41} truth the Eusebians made use to deny our Lord's proper divinity. Athan. lays down elsewhere that nothing continues in consistence and life, except from a participation of the Word, which is to be considered a gift from Him, additional to that of creation, and separable in idea from it. Vid. art. Grace. Thus he says that "the all-powerful and all-perfect, Holy Word of the Father, pervading all things, and developing everywhere His power, and illuminating all things visible and invisible, gathers them within Himself and knits them in one, leaving nothing destitute of His power, but quickening and preserving all things and through all, and each by itself, and the whole altogether." Contr. Gent. 42. Again, "God not only made us of nothing, but also vouchsafed to us a life according to God, by the grace of the Word. But men, turning from things eternal to the things of corruption at the devil's counsel, have brought on themselves the corruption of death, who were, as I said, by nature corrupted, but by the grace of the participation ([metousias]) of the Word, would have escaped their natural state, had they remained good." Incarn. 5. Man thus considered is, in his first estate, a son of God and born of God, or, to use the term which occurs so frequently in the Arian controversy, in the number, not only of the creatures, but of things generate, [geneta]. This was the sense in which the Arians said that our Lord was Son of God; whereas, as Athan. says, "things generate, being works ([demiourgemata],) cannot be called generate, except so far as, after their making, they partake of the begotten Son, and are therefore said to have been generated {42} also; not at all in their own nature, but because of their participation of the Son in the Spirit." Orat. i. 56. The question then was, as to the distinction of the Son's divine generation over that of holy men; and the Catholics answered that He was [ex ousias], from the substance of God; not by participation of grace, not by resemblance, not in any limited sense, but really and simply from Him, and therefore by an internal divine act. Vid. Decr. § 22.

The Arians availed themselves of certain texts as objections, argued keenly and plausibly from them, and would not be driven from them. Orat. ii. § 18; Epiph. Hær. 69, 15. Or rather they took some words of Scripture, and made their own deductions from them; viz., "Son," "made," "exalted," &c. "Making their private impiety as if a rule, they misinterpret all the divine oracles by it." Orat. i. § 52. Vid. also Epiph. Hær. 76. 5, fin. Hence we hear so much of their [thrulletai phonai, lexeis, ete, rheta], sayings in general circulation, which were commonly founded on some particular text; e.g., Orat. i. § 22, "amply providing themselves with words of craft, they used to go about, &c." [perierchonto]. Vid. vol. i. p. 29, note. Also [ano kai kato peripherontes], De Decr. § 13; [toi rhetoi tethrullekasi ta pantachou], Orat. ii. § 18; [to poluthrulleton sophisma], Basil. contr. Eunom. ii. 14; [ten poluthrulleton dialektiken], Nyssen contr. Eun. iii. p. 125; [ten thrulloumenen aporrhoen], Cyril. Dial. iv. p. 505; [ten poluthrulleton phonen], Socr. ii. 43.

Eusebius's letter to Euphration, mentioned Syn. § 17, illustrates their sharp and shallow logic—"If they {43} co-exist, how shall the Father be Father and the Son Son; or how the One first, the Other second? and the One ingenerate and the Other generate?" Acta Conc. 7, p. 1015, Ed. Ven. 1729. Hence Arius, in his Letter to Eusebius Nic., complains that Alexander says, [aei ho theos, aei ho huios; hama pater, hama huios]. Theod. Hist. i. 4. "Then their profaneness goes farther," says Athan.; Orat. i. § 14. "'If it never was, that the Son was not,' say they, 'but He is eternal, and co-exists with the Father, call Him no more the Father's Son, but brother.'" As the Arians here object that the First and Second Persons of the Holy Trinity are [adelphoi], so did they say the same in the course of the controversy of the Second and Third. Vid. Athan. Serap. i. 15; iv. 2.

"They contend that the Son and the Father are not in such wise One or Like as the Church preaches, but ... they say, since what the Father wills, the Son wills also, in all respects concordant, ... therefore it is that He and the Father are one." Orat. iii. § 10.

"The Arians reply, 'So are the Son and the Father One, and so is the Father in the Son, and the Son in the Father, as we too may become one in Him.'" Orat. iii. § 17.

In the Arian Creed of Potamius, Bishop of Lisbon, our Lord is said "hominem suscepisse per quem compassus est," which seems to imply that He had no soul distinct from His Divinity. "Non passibilis Deus Spiritus," answers Phœbadius, "licet in homine suo passus." The Sardican confession also seems to impute this heresy to the Arians. Vid. supr. vol. i. note, p. 116, and infr. art. Eusebius, fin. {44}

They did not admit into their theology the notion of mystery. In vain might Catholics urge the ne sutor ultra crepidam. It was useless to urge upon them that they were reasoning about matters upon which they had no experimental knowledge; that we had no means of determining whether or how a spiritual being, really trine, could be numerically one, and therefore can only reason by means of our conceptions, and as if nothing were a fact which was inconceivable. It is a matter of faith that Father and Son are one, and reason does not therefore contradict it, because experience does not show us how to conceive of it. To us, poor creatures of a day,—who are but just now born out of nothing, and have everything to learn even as regards human knowledge,—that such truths are incomprehensible to us, is no wonder.

The Anomœan Arians, who arose latest and went farthest, had no scruple in answering this consideration by denying that God was incomprehensible. Arius indeed says in his Thalia that the Son cannot know the Father by comprehension, [kata katalepsin]: "to that which has origin, to conceive how the Unoriginate is, is impossible." Syn. § 15; but on the other hand the doctrine of the Anomœans, who in most points agreed with Arius, was, that all men could know God as He knows Himself; according to Socrates, who says, "Not to seem to be slandering, listen to Eunomius himself, what words he dares to use in sophistry concerning God; they run thus:—'God knows not of His own substance more than we do; nor is it known to Him more, to us less; but whatsoever {45} we may know of it, that He too knows; and what again He, that you will find without any difference in us.'" Hist. iv. 7.

[Katalepsis] was originally a Stoical word, and even when the act was perfect, it was considered attributable only to an imperfect being. For it is used in contrast to the Platonic doctrine of [ideai], to express the hold of things obtained by the mind through the senses; it being a Stoical maxim, "nihil esse in intellectu quod non fuerit prius in sensu." In this sense it is also used by the Fathers, to mean real and certain knowledge after inquiry, though it is also ascribed to Almighty God. As to the position of Arius, since we are told in Scripture that none "knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him," if [katalepsis] be an exact and complete knowledge of the object of contemplation, to deny that the Son comprehended the Father, was to deny that He was in the Father, that is, to deny the doctrine of the [perichoresis],—vid. in the Thalia, Syn. § 15, the word [anepimiktoi]; or to maintain that He was a distinct, and therefore a created, being. On the other hand, Scripture asserts that, as the Holy Spirit which is in God, "searcheth all things, yea, the deep things," of God, so the Son, as being, "in the bosom of the Father," alone "hath declared Him." Vid. Clement. Strom. v. 12. And thus Athan., speaking of Mark xiii. 32, "If the Son is in the Father, and the Father in the Son, and the Father knows the day and the hour, it is plain that the Son too, being in the Father, and knowing the things in the Father, Himself {46} also knows the day and the hour." Orat. iii. 44, vid. also Matt. xi. 27.

4. Historical Course of Arianism

There seems to have been a remarkable anticipation of this heresy in the century before its rise; and it is notable as showing in consequence the early date of a formal development of Catholic theology, which we are apt to assign to the fourth and fifth centuries. Vid. note on p. 47 in the present work, ed. Oxf. The controversy which called for this development arose in the middle of the third century, and incurred the vigilant protest of the Pope of the day as being the issue of a dangerous opinion, founded apparently on the Stoic distinction between the [logos endiathetos] and [prophorikos], and looked on with favour in some Catholic quarters, vid. Tracts Theol., &c., art. iii. p. 137. And. thus we are brought to Arianism.

When this conclusion was reached by a number of men sufficient in position and influence to constitute a party, the first Ecumenical Council was held in A.D. 325 at Nicæa for its condemnation.

The Nicene Fathers, in the first place, defined the proper divinity of the Son of God, introducing into their creed the formulas [ex ousias] and [homoousios], as tests of orthodoxy, and next they anathematised the heretical propositions: and this with the ready adhesion of Constantine. He died in 337.

During his later years he had softened towards the Arians, and on his death they gained his son Constantius, {47} who tyrannised over Christendom, persecuting the orthodox Bishops, and especially Athanasius, till his immature death in 361.

The Arians regained political power on the accession of Valens, in 364, who renewed the persecutions of Constantius.

They came to an end, as far as regards any influence on the State, upon the accession of Theodosius and the Second Ecumenical Council, 381.

In the controversies and troubles they occasioned, while the orthodox formulas were, as has been said, the [ex ousias] and the [homoousios], (viz., that our Lord was from and in the Divine Essence,) the Semi-Arians maintained the [homoiousion], or that He was like the Divine Essence, the political and worldly party of Eusebius, Acacius, and Eudoxius, professed vaguely the [homoion kata panta], or that our Lord was like God in all things, and the fanatical Anomœans gained their name because they denied any likeness in Him to God at all. {48}


THIS writer, already noticed in art. Arian Leaders, seems according to Athan. to have been hired to write upon the Arian side, and argued on the hypothesis of Semi-Arianism. He agrees very much in doctrine with Eusebius, and in moderation of language, judging by the extracts which Athan. has preserved. (Vid. also Epiph. Hær. 72, 6.)

Like Eusebius, he held (Orat. ii. § 24) that the God of all created His Son as an instrument or organ, or [hypourgos], of creation, by reason of the necessary incapacity in the creature, as such, to endure the force and immediate presence of a Divine Hand (vid. art. [akratos]), which, while It created, would have annihilated. (Euseb. Demonstr. iv. 4; Eccl. Th. i. 8, 13; Præp. vii. 15; Sabell. p. 9.)

But, says Athanasius, it is contrary to all our notions of religion to suppose God is not sufficient for Himself, and cannot create, enlighten, address, and unite Himself to His creatures immediately. "The Word has with His Father the oneness of Godhead indivisible. Else, why does the Father through Him create, and in Him reveal Himself to whom He will, &c. ... If they say that the Father is not all-sufficient, their answer is impious." Orat. ii. § 41. And such an answer seems to be implied in saying that {49} the Son was created for creation, illumination, &c., &c.; vid. art. Mediation.

He considered that our Lord was taught to create, and without teaching could not by His mere nature have acquired the skill. "Though He is a creature, and has been brought into being," Asterius writes, "yet as from Master and Artificer has He learned to frame things, and thus has ministered to God who taught Him," Orat. ii. § 28, vid. art. Eusebius, who speaks of the Word in the poetical tone of Platonism.

Also he distinguishes after the manner of the Semi-Arians, between the [gennetike] and the [demiourgike dunamis]. Again, the illustration of the Sun (Syn. § 19) is another point of agreement with Eusebius; vid. Demonstr. iv. 5.

And he, like Eusebius, is convicted of Arianism beyond mistake, in whatever words he might cloak his heresy, by his rejection of the doctrine of the [perichoresis]. "He is in the Father," he says, "and the Father again in Him, because neither the word on which He is discoursing is His own, but the Father's, nor the works, but the Father's who gave Him the power." Orat. iii. § 2.

He defined the [agennetos], or "Ingenerate, to mean that which never came into being, but was always" (Orat. i. § 30); and then he would argue, that God being [agennetos], and a Son [gennetos], our Lord could not be God.

While, with the other Arians, he introduced philosophical terms into theology, he with them explained away Scripture. They were accustomed to interpret {50} our Lord's titles, "Son," "Word," "Power," by the secondary senses of such terms, as they belong to us, God's children by adoption; and so Asterius, perhaps flippantly, answered such arguments, as "Christ God's Power and Wisdom," by objecting that the locust was called by the prophet "God's great power." Syn. § 19.

He argues, in behalf of our Lord's gennesis following upon an act of Divine counsel and will, that we must determine the point by inquiring whether it is more worthy of God to act with deliberation or not. Now the Creator acted with such counsel and will in the work of creation; therefore so to act is most worthy of Him; it follows that will should precede the gennesis also. But in that case the Son is posterior to the Father. {51}


THIS renowned Father is in ecclesiastical history the special doctor of the sacred truth which Arius denied, bringing it out into shape and system so fully and luminously that he may be said to have exhausted his subject, as far as it lies open to the human intellect. But, besides this, writing as a controversialist, not primarily as a priest and teacher, he accompanies his exposition of doctrine with manifestations of character which are of great interest and value. Here some of the more prominent of these traits shall be set down, as they are seen in various of his Treatises.

1. The fundamental idea with which he starts in the controversy is a deep sense of the authority of Tradition, which he considers to have a definitive jurisdiction even in the interpretation of Scripture, though at the same time he seems to consider that Scripture, thus interpreted, is a document of final appeal in inquiry and in disputation. Hence, in his view of religion, is the magnitude of the evil which he is combating, and which exists prior to that extreme aggravation of it (about which no Catholic can doubt) involved in the characteristic tenet of Arianism itself. According to him, opposition to the witness of the Church, separation from its communion, private judgment overbearing the authorised catechetical teaching, the fact of a denomination, as men now speak, this is a self-condemnation; and the heretical tenet, whatever it may happen to be, {52} which is its formal life, is a spiritual poison and nothing else; the sowing of the evil one upon the good seed, in whatever age and place it is found; and he applies to all separatists the Apostle's words, "They went out from us, for they were not of us." Accordingly, speaking of one Rhetorius, an Egyptian, who, as S. Austin tells us, taught that "all heresies were in the right path and spoke truth," he says that "the impiety of such doctrine is frightful to mention." Apoll. i. § 6.

This is the explanation of the fierceness of his language, when speaking of the Arians, which to a modern reader may seem superfluous and painful; the heretics were simply, as Elymas, "full of all guile and of all deceit; children of the devil, enemies of all justice," [theomachoi],—by court influence, by violent persecution, by sophistry, seducing, unsettling, perverting, the people of God.

2. It was not his way to be fierce, as a matter of course, with those who opposed him; his treatment of the Semi-Arians is a proof of this. Eusebius of Cæsarea indeed he did not favour, for he discerned in that eminent man what, alas, was genuine Arianism; and Eusebius's conduct towards him, and his partisanship with the heretics, and his antagonism to the Nicene Council, confirmed his judgment; but with the Semi-Arian body, who rose up against the pure Arians, he was very gentle, considering them, or at least many of them, of good promise, as the event proved them to be. He calls some of them "brethren" and [agapetoi] (Syn. §§ 41, 43), as Hilary calls them "Sanctissimi viri," (Syn. 80, vid. art. Semi-Arianism infr.) Nor is there {53} any violence in his treatment of Marcellus, Apollinaris, Hosius, or Liberius. Vid. art. [Aletheia].

3. And so in the account he has left us of the death of Arius (de Mort. Ar.), which he considers, and truly, as an awful judgment of God, there is no triumph in his tone, though he held him in holy horror; not those fierce expressions, which certainly are to be found in his Orations. "I was not at Constantinople," he says, "when he died, but Macarius the Presbyter was, and I heard the account of it from him. Arius had been summoned by the Emperor Constantine, through the interest of the Eusebians, and, when he entered the presence, the Emperor inquired of him, whether he held the faith of the Catholic Church, and he declared upon oath that he held the right faith ... The Emperor dismissed him saying, 'If thy faith be right, thou hast done well to swear; but if thy faith be impious, and thou hast sworn, God judge thee according to thy oath.' When he thus came from the presence of the Emperor, the Eusebians, with their accustomed violence, desired to bring him into the Church; but Alexander the Bishop … was greatly distressed, and, entering into the Church, he stretched forth his hands to God, and bewailed himself; and, casting himself upon his face, in the chancel, he prayed upon the pavement. Macarius also was present and prayed with him, and heard his words. And he sought these two things, saying, 'If Arius is brought to communion tomorrow, let me Thy servant depart, … but, if Thou wilt spare Thy Church ... take off Arius, lest the heresy may seem to enter with him.' ... A wonderful and extraordinary {54} circumstance took place. While the Eusebians threatened, the Bishop prayed; but Arius, who had great confidence in the Eusebians, and talked very wildly, seized by indisposition withdrew, and suddenly, in the language of Scripture, falling headlong, burst asunder in the midst, and immediately expired as he lay, and was deprived both of communion and of his life together." Then he adds, "Such was the end of Arius; and the Eusebians, overwhelmed with shame, buried their accomplice, while the blessed Alexander, amid the rejoicing of the Church, celebrated the Synaxis with piety and orthodoxy, praying with all the brethren and greatly glorifying God; not as exulting in his death (God forbid), for it is appointed unto all men once to die, but ... that the Lord Himself judged between the threats of the Eusebians and the prayer of Alexander, and condemned the Arian heresy."

4. His language, in speaking of Constantius, gives opportunity for more words. Up to the year 356, Athanasius had treated Constantius as a member of the Church; but at that date the Eusebian or Court party abandoned the Semi-Arians for the Anomœans. George of Cappadocia was placed as Bishop in Alexandria, Athanasius was driven into the desert, S. Hilary and other Western Bishops were sent into banishment. Hosius was persecuted into signing an Arian confession, and Pope Liberius into communicating with the Arians. Upon this Athanasius changed his tone, and considered that he had to deal with an Antichrist. In his Apol. contr. Arian. init. (A.D. 350), ad Ep. Æg. 5 (356), and his Apol. ad Constant. passim. (356), he calls the {55} Emperor most pious, religious, &c. At the end of the last-mentioned work, § 27, the news comes to him, while in exile, of the persecution of the Western Bishops and the measures against himself. He still in the peroration calls Constantius "blessed and divinely favoured Augustus," and urges on him that he is a "Christian Emperor, [philochristos]." In the works which follow, Apol. de fuga, § 26 (357), he calls him a heretic; and Hist. Arian. § 45, &c. (358), speaking with indignation of the treatment of Hosius, &c., he calls him "Ahab," "Belshazzar," "Saul," "Antichrist." The passage at the end of the Apol. contr. Arian., in which he speaks of the "much violence and tyrannical power of Constantius," is an addition of Athan.'s at a later date. Vid. Montfaucon's note on § 88, fin. This is worth mentioning, as it shows the unfairness of the following passage in Gibbon, ch. xxi. note 116: "As Athanasius dispersed secret invectives against Constantius, see the Epistle to the monks" [i.e., Hist. Arian. ad Monach. A.D. 358], "at the same time that he assured him of his profound respect, we might distrust the professions of the Archbishop, tom. i. p. 677" [i.e., apparently Apol. ad Const. A.D. 356]. Again, in a later part of the chapter, "In his public Apologies, which he addressed to the Emperor himself, he sometimes affected the praise of moderation; whilst at the same time in secret and vehement invectives he exposed Constantius as a weak and wicked prince, the executioner of his family, the tyrant of the republic, and the Antichrist of the Church." He offers no proof of this assertion. It may be added that S. Greg. Naz. {56} praises Constantius, but it is in contrast to Julian. Orat. 4. 3, and 5. 6. And S. Ambrose, but it is for his enmity to paganism. Ep. i. 18, n. 32.

5. It is the same prudent, temperate spirit and practical good sense, which leads Athanasius, though the prime champion of the Nicene Homoüsion, to be so loth to use that formula, much less abruptly to force it upon his adversaries in the first instance, and to content himself with urging and inculcating our Lord's Divinity in other language and by casual explanations, when prejudice or party-spirit made it difficult to get a hearing for the terms which the Church had determined. Hence in his Three Orations he hardly names the Homoüsion,. though the doctrine which it upholds is never out of his thoughts. He accepted the Semi-Arian Homœüsion, though he is so often represented by the shallow ignorance of modern times to have waged war with other theologians whose views did not differ from his own except by a single letter. "Those," he says, "who accept everything else that was determined at Nicæa, and quarrel only with the Homoüsion, must not be received as enemies, nor do we here attack them as Ariomaniacs, nor as opposers of the Fathers, but we discuss the matter with them, as brothers with brothers, who mean what we mean, and dispute only about the word." Syn. § 41. (Arim. n. 47.) Vid. arts. [homoios], Semi-Arians, &c.

6. It arises from the same temper of mind that he is so self-distrustful and subdued in his comments on Scripture and in his controversial answers; he, the foremost doctor of the Divine Sonship, being the most modest as {57} well as the most authoritative of teachers. Thus, "They had best have been silent," i.e., in so sacred a matter, he says, "but since it is otherwise, after many prayers that God would be gracious to us, thus we might ask them in turn," &c., Orat. i. § 25. (Disc. n. 39.) "Against their profaneness I wish to urge a further question, bold indeed, but with a religious intent,—be propitious, O Lord! (Disc. n. 50, p. 197.) "The unwearied habits of the religious man is to worship the All ([to pan]) in silence, and to hymn God his benefactor with thankful cries ... but since," &c., Apoll. i. init.

And especially in his letter to the Monks, "I thought it needful to represent to your piety what pains the writing of these things has cost me, in order that you may understand thereby how truly the Blessed Apostle has said, O, the depth, &c., and may kindly bear with a weak man, such as I am by nature. For the more I desired to write and endeavoured to force myself to understand the Divinity of the Word, so much the more did the knowledge thereof withdraw itself from me, and in proportion as I thought that I apprehended it, in so much I perceived myself to fail of doing so. Moreover, I was also unable to express in writing even what I seemed to myself to understand, and that which I wrote was unequal to the imperfect shadow of the truth which existed in my conceptions," ad Monach. i. Vid. also Serap. i. 15-17, 20; ii. init., iv. 8, 14; Epict. 12 fin.; Max. init.; Ep. Æg. 11 fin. Once more: "It is not safe for the writings of an individual to be published, especially if they relate to the highest and chief {58} doctrines, lest what is imperfectly expressed, through infirmity or the obscurity of language, do hurt to the reader," &c. Mort. Ar. § 5.

He set the example of modesty to others. Vid. Basil. in Eunom. ii. 17; Didym. Trin. iii. 3, p. 341; Ephr. Syr. adv. Hær. Serm. 55 init. (t. 2, p. 557); Facund. Tr. Cap. iii. 3 init.

7. And his repetitions of statements in these Treatises are not without a place in the evidences of his religious caution. Often indeed they must be accounted purely accidental, arising from forgetfulness, as he wandered or travelled about, what it was that he had written the day before; often, too, they may have subserved the purpose of cathechetical instruction; but sometimes they would seem to be owing to his anxiety to confine himself to words which had stood the test of time or of readers, or at least were existing forms which he could improve upon or at least reconsider and appeal to, as after his time is instanced in S. Leo.

8. As to his acquirements, they were considerable. Gregory only says that he had a knowledge [ton enkuklion], but Sulpitius speaks of him as a jurisconsult (vid. philosophy and [ousia]). His earliest works, written when perhaps he was not more than twenty-one, give abundant evidence of a liberal education. He had a knowledge of Homer and Plato, and his early style, though it admits of pruning, is graceful and artistic. I cannot, with Gibbon, talk of its "rude eloquence," though it has not the refined and elaborate elegance of Basil. And Gibbon grants that his writings are "clear, forcible, and persuasive." Erasmus seems to prefer him, as {59} a writer, to all the Fathers, and certainly, in my own judgment, no one comes near him but Chrysostom and Jerome. "Habebat," says Erasmus, "vere dotem illam quam Paulus in Episcopo putat esse præcipuam, [to didaktikon]; adeo dilucidus est, acutus, sobrius, adtentus, breviter omnibus modis ad docendum appositus. Nihil habet durum, quod offendit in Tertulliano, nihil [epideiktikon], quod vidimus in Hieronymo, nihil operosum, quod in Hilario, nihil laciniosum, quod est in Augustino, atque etiam Chrysostomo, nihil Isocraticos numeros aut Lysiæ compositionem redolens, quod est in Gregorio Nazianzeno, sed totus est in explicandâ re." ap. Montfaucon, t. 1. p. xxi. ed. Patav.

Photius's praise of Athan.'s style and matter is quoted supr. in the Notice prefixed to the Orations.


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