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The preceding Explication illustrated by a short Account of the Rise, Progress, and Decline of Arianism.

By the accession of Constantine to the Imperial Throne, Idolatry received a deadly blow, and the Christion religion was established and peaceably practised throughout the whole Roman Empire from the year 313. The blessing of so happy a condition was more than could be expected by the Christians to last long, since Christ had fixed that his disciples should follow him, not by a life of ease and prosperity, but through the thorny road of tribulation. Their present situation was too flattering, not to raise the envy of their everwatchful and implacable enemy, the Devil." He," to use the words of St. Cyprian," seeing his idols fallen "into disrepute, and his temples deserted, on account "of the number of converts to Christianity, invented a 66 new artifice, to deceive the unweary under the dis"guise of the Christian name itself: this was Heresy "and Schism, which he employed as his instruments to "subvert faith, corrupt truth, and dissolve unity. Those "that he could not keep in the old dark road of idolatry, "he deceived by leading them into the by-path of er"ror." Lib. de Unit. Eccl. Arius, a turbulent ambitious Priest of Alexandria in Egypt, aspired to that see; but finding himself disappointed by the election of St. Alexander, his jealousy and resentment stimulated him to decry the doctrine of this holy prelate, which was true and orthodox, and to oppose to it a new system of doctrine of his own invention. He began to teach that Christ was not God, but a created being, formed indeed before all other creatures, but not from eternity. Arius had a graceful mien, and a modest deportment: he was old, and had a mortified countenance: these qualities gave him credit, and contributed to gain him proselytes.

The holy bishop Alexander at first endeavoured to reclaim him by mild remonstrances and entreaties: but these not availing, and his pernicious doctrine gaining ground, Alexander assembled a synod of the bishops of Egypt and Lybia, in which Arius and his abettors were


condemned and cut off from the communion of the faithful, in the year 320. Of this proceeding St. Alexander gave account by a circular letter to all the bishops of the Church. Arius fled from Alexandria into Palestine; there he procured protection from some bishops: from thence he proceeded to Nicomedia, where he met with 2 favourable reception from its bishop Eusebius, who became a warm friend to him, and his principal patron. But the Heresiarch was not content with having gained over to his party some of the bishops; he invented a scheme to propagate his tenets among the vulgar class of people. He composed songs, which, he taught them to sing, and in them he mixed the poison of his doctrine, which by that easy means they unwarily sucked in.

Constantine the Emperor, in order to put a stop to the unhappy disputes that divided the Church, wrote letters to Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and to Arius, exhorting them to be reconciled. But this expedient proving ineffectual, and the divisions increasing, at the solicitation of the bishops he willingly concurred in procuring a general council of the Church to be held. The place pitched upon for it was Nice, in Bithynia, and the emperor generously defrayed the whole charges of the clergy, who resorted thither from all parts of the world, to the number of 318, in the year 325. St. Sylvester Pope, not being able to go himself to the council, commissioned Osius, bishop of Corduba, in Spain, to preside there in his name, and sent him two priests, Vitus and Vincentius, for assistants. Arius was there present, and had two and twenty bishops of his party. Constantine made a short speech to the fathers, in which, among other things, he said: "Let us "take care, that, after having crushed, by the help of "God our Saviour, the tyranny of those who waged "war against him, the devil by his jealousy does not "expose the gospel to the slander and malevolence of "the wicked, by this intestine war which I see rise up " in the Church." The fathers then called upon Arius to explain his doctrine, which shocked them very much. He and his partisans were soon confounded,

and in the debate St. Athanasius distinguished himself by force of argument in defence of the Catholic faith. In fine, the Arian doctrine was proscribed, and Jesus Christ declared to be truly God, consubstantial or having the same eternal substance with the Father, and that the Father is in him, and he in the Father. In consequence of this determination, they drew up a profession of the Catholic faith, which is called the Nicene Creed, to which all subscribed, except a few Arian bishops. These, with Arius, and his other adherents, were anathematized by the council, and banished by Constantine.


In this manner the Catholic faith was ascertained, and triumphed over its enemies but the spirit of heresy, which is always restless, could not be quelled. The Arians, though every way confounded, instead of yielding, employed themselves in raising fresh troubles. They wrote to the emperor, and, by pretending to admit the Nicene faith, they got themselves recalled from banishment; they then set themselves to poison the emperor's mind by different arts, by slanders, and calumnies against the Catholic bishops, and prevailed upon him to banish some of them, among whom was St. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria. But not stopping there, they concerted a scheme to get Arius received into the Church, even in the imperial city of Constantinople, and in presence of the emperor, who then resided there, in 336. For that purpose they insinuated to Constantine, that Arius was become orthodox in his doctrine, and they requested he might be called to Constantinople. This being granted, and Arius arrived in the city, the emperor sent for him, and asked him if he receiv ed the Nicene Faith: the heresiarch answered in the affirmative, and presented to the emperor a written profession of faith, in appearance not different from that of Nice, but conceived in artful and ambiguous terms. The emperor, supposing him sincere, desired Alexander, bishop of Constantinople, to receive him into the Catholic communion. The holy prelate reinonstrated pathetically against such a dangerous and uncanonical step, but Arius's friends were clamorous, and


insisted on the emperor's desire being complied with. The bishop retired immediately into the Church, prostrated himself before the altar, and in his fervent prayer thus addressed Almighty God: "Lord, if Arius "must be received into the Church, be pleased to take 66 me out of the world; but if you have compassion on your Church, as I know you have, permit not your inheritance to become an object of contempt." Next morning Arius's friends assembled, and resolved to conduct him to Church, in spite of the bishop. They were leading him, as in triumph, through the streets, when on a sudden finding himself pressed by a necessity of nature, he retired into a back place to ease himself; but there with his excrements he voided his bowels, and was found dead. Thus was the hand of God visible upon Arius.

This ambitious apostate and proud heresiarch had taken peace from the earth, had disturbed the Church of Christ, and created a fatal division among the Christians. "The Church was in a flourishing condition," says the historian Eusebius, speaking of the rise of Arianism," and the faithful employed themselves in "all kinds of holy exercises with comfort and joy: nor was there the least danger to be feared from any foreign enemy. But a secret jealousy unhappily crept in. It first insinuated itself into the minds of the "people, then found its way into the assemblies of the "bishops, whom it animated against one another, by "raising disputes and altercations among them con"cerning the Christian doctrine. This small begin"ning gave rise to a great flame, which first broke out "at Alexandria," having been there kindled by Arius. De vita Const. lib. 2. c. 61.

Constantine the Great, dying in 337, left three sons, who divided the empire according to their father's directions. Constantine, the eldest, had Spain, Gaul, and all the provinces on this side of the Alps. Constantius, the second son, had Thrace, Asia, Egypt, and the eastern countries: and Constans, the youngest, had Italy, Sicily, Africa, except Egypt, Greece, and Illyricum. Constantius was soon gained over by the Arians,

and his family was chiefly composed of them. From his palace the infection diffused itself, first into private families, and by degrees was propagated into the towns and even distant provinces under his dominion. Many bishops imbibed the contagion, and communicated it to their flocks. This great accession of number increascd the Arian power, which they did not fail to exert in persecuting the orthodox Christians. They gave great trouble to St. Athanasius, by the calumnies they invented against him, and they intruded into his see of Alexandria, by force of arms, a bishop of their own party in his place. When St. Alexander, bishop of Constantinople, died in 340, Paul, a true Catholic, was chosen his successor, but the Arian faction deposed him, with the agreement of the emperor Constantius, and substituted in his room the arch-Arian Eusebius, of Nicomedia. From that date the Arians were masters in Constantinople for forty years. They carried on every thing by violence in the East: Relying on the protection of the emperor Constantius, they arrogated the power of deposing at their pleasure the orthodox prelates, and filling their places with Arians.

By all these different means, Arianism had very much diffused itself through the East, while the West was but little tainted with it. This produced great disunion in the Church; which occasioned a council to be held at Sardica, in Illyricum, in 347. It was compos

ed of about 250 bishops, convened from both the Eastern and Western provinces, of whom 170 were orthodox, and fourscore of the Arian party. Several of the bishops, and others, there showed the wounds they had received from the swords of the Arians; they complained of the cruel hardships they had been made to suffer, under which some had even perished; they gave account of the violences committed by the soldiers and people, and of the threats of the judges: they represented that the virgins were stripped of their substance, the holy ministers imprisoned, and the Churches burned. These, and other persecutions, that had been carried on by the Arians, they recapitulated before the council. The Arian party expected to domi

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