The distinction, which in the foregoing discussion we have frequently had under our notice, between the pisti" and gnwsi" of the early Church, the pisi" common to all, and formulated in the tessera or rule of faith, the gnwsi" the property of apologists and theologians aiming at the expression of faith in terms of the thought of their age, and at times, though for long only slightly, reacting upon the rule of faith itself (Aquileia, Caesarea, Gregory Thaumaturgus), makes itself felt in the account of the Nicene Council. That the legacy of the first world-wide gathering of the Church’s rulers is a Rule of Faith moulded by theological reflexion, one in which the gnwsi" of the Church supplements her pisti", is a momentous fact; a fact for which we have to thank not Athanasius but Arius. The pisti" of the Fathers repudiated Arianism as a novelty; but to exclude it from the Church some test was indispensable; and to find a test was the task of theology, of gnwsi". The Nicene Confession is the Rule of Faith explained as against Arianism. Arianism started with the Christian profession of belief in our Lord’s Sonship. If the result was incompatible with such belief, it was inevitable that an explanation should be given, not indeed of the full meaning of divine Sonship, but of that element in the idea which was ignored or assailed by the misconception of Arius. Such an explanation is attempted in the words ek th" ousia" tou patro", omoousiantw Patri, and again in the condemnation of the formula ex etera" upostasew" h ousia". This explanation was not adopted without hesitation, nor would it have been adopted had any other barrier against the heresy, which all but very few wished to exclude, appeared effective. We now have to examine firstly the grounds of this hesitation, secondly the justification of the formula itself.
The objections felt to the word omoousion at the council were (1) philosophical, based on the identification of ousia with either eioo" (i.e. as implying a ‘formal essence’ prior to Father and Son alike) or ulh; (2) dogmatic, based on the identification of ousia with tode ti, and on the consequent Sabellian sense of the omoousion; (3) Scriptural, based on the non-occurrence of the word in the Bible; (4) Ecclesiastical, based on the condemnation of the word by the Synod which deposed Paul at Antioch in 269.
All these objections were made and felt bona fide, although Arians would of course make the most of them. The subsequent history will shaw that their force was outweighed only for the moment with many of the fathers, and that to reconcile the ‘conservatism’ of the Asiatic bishops to the new formula must be a matter of time. The third or Scriptural objection need not now be discussed at length. Precedent could be pleaded for the introduction into creeds of words not expressly found in Scripture (e.g. the word ‘catholic’ applied to the Church in many ancient creeds, the creed of Gregory Thaumaturgus with tria" teleia, &c. &c).; the only question was, were the non-scriptural words expressive of a Scriptural idea? This was the pith of the question debated between Athanasius and his opponents for a generation after the council; the ‘conservative’ majority eventually came round to the conviction that Athanasius was right. But the question depends upon the meaning of the word itself.
The word means sharing in a joint or common essence, ousia (cf). pmwnumo", sharing the same name, &c. &c).. What then is ousia? The word was introduced into philosophical use, so far as we know, by Plato, and its technical value was fixed for future ages by his pupil Aristotle. Setting aside its use to express ‘existence’ in the abstract, we take the more general use of the word as indicating that which exists in the concrete. In this sense it takes its place at the centre of his system of ‘categories,’ as the something to which all determinations of quality, quantity, relation and the rest attach, and which itself attaches to nothing; in Aristotle’s words it alone is self-existent, cwriston, whereas all that comes under any of the other categories is acwriston, non-existent except as a property of some ousia. But here the difficulty begins. We may look at a concrete term as denoting either this or that individual simply (prwtw"), or as expressing its nature, and so as common to more individuals than one. Now properly (prwtw") ousia is only appropriate to the former purpose. But it may be employed in a secondary sense to designate the latter; in this sense species and genera are deuterai ousiai, the wider class being less truly ousiai than the narrower. In fact we here detect the transition of the idea of ousia from the category of ousia proper to that of poion cf. Athan. p. 478 sq.; he uses ousia freely in the secondary sense for non-theological purposes in contra Gentes, where it is often best rendered‘nature’). Aristotle accordingly uses ousia freely to designate what we call substances, whether simple or compound, such as iron, gold, earth, the heavens, to akinhton, &c., &c. Corresponding again, to the logical distinction of geno" and eioo" is the metaphysical distinction (not exactly of matter and form, but) of matter simply, regarded as to npokeimenon, and matter regarded as existing in this or that form, to poion to en th onsia, to ti hneinai the meeting-point of logic and metaphysics in Aristotle’s system. Agreeably to this distinction, onsia is used sometimes of the latter—the concrete thing regarded in its essential nature, sometimes of the former h np okeimenh onsia w" nlh, nlh being in fact the summum genus of the material world.
Now the use of the word in Christian theology had exemplified nearly every one of the above senses. In the quasi-mateial sense omoonsion had been used in the school of Valentinian to express the homogeneity of the two factors in the fundamental dualism of the Universe of intelligent beings. In a somewhat similar sense it is used in the Clementine Homilies 20,7. The Platonic phrase for the Divine Nature, epekeina pash" onsia", adopted by Origen and by Athanasius contra Gentes, appears to retain something of the idea of ousia as implying material existence; and this train of associations had to be expressly disclaimed in defending the Nicene formula. In the sense of homogeneity the word omoonsion is expressly applied by Origen, as we have seen, to the Father and the Son: on the other hand, taking ousia in the‘primary’Aristotelian sense, he has etero" kat on" ian kai npokeimenon
In the West (see (above on Tertullian and Novatian) the Latin substantia (Cicero had in vain attempted to give currency to the less euphonious but more suitable essentia) had taken its place in the phrase unius substantioeoe or communio substantioeoe, intended to denote not only the homogeneity but the Unity of Father and Son. Accordingly we find Dionysius of Rome pressing the test upon his namesake of Alexandria and the latter not declining it (below, p. 183). But a few years later we find the Origenist bishops, who with the concurrence of Dionysius of Rome deposed Paul of Samosata, expressly repudiating the term. This fact, which is as certain as any fact in Church history (see (Routh Rell. 3,364 &c., Caspari Alte u. Neue. Q., pp. 161 sqq.), was a powerful support to the Arians in their subsequent endeavours to unite the conservative East in reaction against the council. Scholars are fairly equally divided as to the explanation of the fact. Some hold, following Athanasius and Basil, that Paul imputed the omoonsion (in a materialising sense) to his opponents, as a consequence of the doctrine they opposed to his own, and that ‘the 80’ in repudiating the word, repudiated the idea that the divine nature could be divided by the emanation of a portion of it in the Logos. Hilary, on the other hand, tells us that the word was used by Paul himself (’male omoonsion Paulus confessus est, sed numquid melius Arii negaverunt?’) If so, it must have been meant to deny the existence of the Logos as an onsia (i.e. Hypostasis) distinct from the Father. Unfortunately we have not the original documents to refer to. But in either case the word was repudiated at Antioch in one sense, enacted at Nicaea in another. The fact however remains that the term does not exclude ambiguity. Athanasius is therefore going beyond strict accuracy when he claims (p. 164) that no one who is not an Arian can fail to be in agreement with the Synod. Marcellus and Photinus alone prove the contrary. But he is right in regarding the word as rigidly excluding the heresy of Arius.
This brings us to the question in what sense onsia is used in the Nicene definition. We must remember the strong Western and anti-Origenist influence which prevailed in the council (above, p. xvii)., and the use of npostasi and onsia as convertible terms in the anathematism (see (Excursus A, pp. 77, sqq. below). Now going back for a moment to the correspondence of the two Dionysii, we see that Dionysius of Rome had contended not so much against the subordination of the Son to the Father as against their undue separation (memerismenai npostasei). In other words he had pressed the omoonsion upon his namesake in the interest rather of the unity than of the equality of the Persons in the Holy Trinity. At Nicaea, the problem was (as shewn above) to explain (at least negatively) how the Church understood the Generation of the Son. Accordingly we find Athanasius in later years explaining that the Council meant to place beyond doubt the Essential Relation of the Divine Persons to one another (to izion th" onsia", tanntoth", see de Decr. pp. 161, 163 sq., 165, 168, 319; of course including identity of Nature, pp. 396, 413, 232), and maintaining to the end (where he expresses his own view, p. 490, &c). the convertibility of onsia and npostasi" for this purpose. By the word ogeo" or qeo" he understands ouoen eteron h tmn ousian tou onto" (de Decr. 22). The conclusion is that in their original sense the definitions of Nicaeaea assert not merely the specific identity of the Son with the Father (as Peter qua man is of one ousia with Paul, or the Emperor’s statue of one form with the Emperor himself, p. 396), but the full unbroken continuation of the Being of the Father in the Son, the inseparable unity of the Son with the Father in the Oneness of the Godhead. Here the phrase is ‘balanced’ by the ek th" [upostasewsh] ousia" tou Patro" not as though merely one ousia had given existence to another, but in the sense that with such origination the ousia remained the same. This is a‘first approximation to the mysterious doctrine of the pericwrhsi"` coinherence, or‘circuminsessio,’which is necessary to guard the doctrine of the Trinity against tritheism, but which, it must be observed, lifts it out of the reach of the categories of any system of thought in which the workings of human intelligence have ever been able to organise themselves. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity vindicated by the Nicene formula on the one hand remains, after the exclusion of others, as the one direction in which the Christian intellect can travel without frustrating and limiting the movement of faith, without bringing to a halt the instinct of faith in Christ as Saviour, implanted in the Church by the teaching of S. Paul and of S. John, of the Lord Himself: on the other hand it is not a full solution of the intellectual difficulties with which the analysis of that faith and those instincts brings us face to face. That God is One, and that the Son is God, are truths of revelation which the category of‘substance’fails to synthesise. The Nicene Definition furnishes a basis of agreement for the purpose of Christian devotion, worship, and life, but leaves two theologies face to face, with mutual recognition as the condition of the healthy life of either. The theology of Athanasius and of the West is that of the Nicene formula in its original sense. The inseparable Unity of the God of Revelation is its pivot. The conception of personality in the Godhead is its difficulty. The distinctness of the Father, Son, and Spirit is felt (allo" o Pathr allo" o uio"), but cannot be formulated so as to satisfy our full idea of personality). For this Athanasius had no word; prosqpon meant too little (implying as it did no more than an aspect possibly worn but for a special period or purpose), upostasi" (implying such personality as separates Peter from Paul) too much. But he recognised the admissibility of the sense in which the Nicene formula eventually, in the theology of the Cappadocian fathers, won its way to supremacy in the East. To them upostasi" was an appropriate term to express the distinction of Persons in the Godhead, while ousia expressed the divine Nature which they possessed in common (see (Excursus A. p. 77 sqq.). This sense of ousia approximated to that of species, or eioo" (Aristotle’s ‘secondary’ ousia), while that of upostasi gravitated toward that of personality in the empirical sense. But in neither case did the approximation amount to complete identity. The idea of trine personality was limited by the consideration of the Unity; the pericwrhsi" was recognised, although in a somewhat different form, the prominent idea in Athanasius being that of coinherence or immanence, whereas the Cappadocians, while using, of course, the language of Jn 14,11, yet prefer the metaphor of successive dependence wsper ex alusew. (Bas). Ep. 38, p). II8 D). To Athanasius, the Godhead is complete not in the Father alone, still less in the Three Persons as parts of the one ousia, but in each Person as much as in all. The Cappadocian Fathers go back to the Origenist view that the Godhead is complete primarily in the Father alone, but mediately in the Son or Spirit, by virtue of their origination from the Father as phgh or aitia th" qeothto". To Athanasius the distinct Personality of Son and Spirit was the difficulty; his difference from Origen was wide, from Marcellus subtle. To the Cappadocians the difficulty was the Unity of the Persons; to Marcellus they were toto coeoelo opposed, they are the pupils of Origen35 . Accordingly when Basil makes a distinction between ousia and upostasi" in the Nicene anathematism, he is giving not historical exegesis but his own opinion.
The Nicene definition in this sense emphasized the Unity of the Godhead in Three Persons, against the Arian division of the Son from the Father. How then did it escape the danger of lending countenance to Monarchiansm? Athanasius feels the difficulty without solving it, for the distinction given by him, p. 84, between omoousio" and monoousio" is without real meaning (we say with Tertullian‘of one substance’). On the whole in mature years he held that the title‘Son’was sufficient to secure the Trinity of Persons.‘By the name Father we confute Arius, by the name of Son we overthrow Sabellius’(p. 434; cf. p. 413); and we find that the council in its revision of the Caeaesarean creed shifted uio" to the principal position where it took the place of logo". Beyond this the Creed imposed no additional test in that direction (the ek th" ousia" is important but not decisive in this respect). This was felt as an objection to the Creed, and the objection was pointed by the influence of Marcellus at the council. The historical position of Marcellus is in fact, as we shall see, the principal key to the‘conservative’reaction which followed. The insertion into the conservative creeds of a clause asserting the endlessness of Christ’s Kingdom, which eventually received ecumenical authority, was an expression of this feeling. But a final explanation between the Nicene doctrine and Monarchianism could not come about until the idea of Personality had been tested in the light of the appearance of the Son in the Flesh. The solution, or rather definition, of the problem is to be sought in the history of the Christological questions which began with Apollinarius of Laodicea.
The above account of the anti-Arian test formulated at Nicaeaea will suffice to explain the motives for its adoption, the difficulties which made that adoption reluctant, and the fact of the reaction which followed. One thing is clear, namely that given the actual conditions, nothing short of the test adopted would have availed to exclude the Arian doctrine. It is also I think clear, that not only was the current theology of the Eastern Church unable to cope with Arianism, but that it was itself a danger to the Church and in need of the corrective check of the Nicene definition. Hellenic as was the system of Origen, it was in its spirit Christian, and saturated with the influence of Scripture. It could never have taken its place as the expression of the whole mind of the Church; but it remains as the noblest monument of a Christian intellect resolutely in love with truth for its own sake, and bent upon claiming for Christ the whole range of the legitimate activity of the human spirit. But the age had inherited only the wreck of Origenism, and its partial victory in the Church had brought confusion in its train, the leaders of the Church were characterised by secular knowledge rather than grasp of first principles, by dogmatic intellectualism rather than central apprehension of God in Christ. Eusebius of Caeaesarea is their typical representative. The Nicene definition and the work of Athanasius which followed were a summons back to the simple first principles of the Gospel and the Rule of Faith. What then is their value to ourselves? Above all, this, that they have preserved to us what Arianism would have destroyed, that assurance of Knowledge of, and Reconciliation to, God in Christ of which the divinity of the Saviour is the indispensable condition; if we are now Christians in the sense of S. Paul we owe it under God to the work of the great synod. Not that the synod explained all; or did more than effectually ‘block off false forms of thought or avenues of unbalanced inference’which‘challenged the acceptance of Christian people.’The decisions of councils are‘primarily not the Church saying “yes” to fresh truths or developments or forms of consciousness; but rather saying “no” to untrue and misleading modes of shaping and stating her truth,’ (Lux Mundi, ed. 1,p. 240, cf. p. 334). It is objected that the Nicene Formula, especially as understood by Athanasius, is itself a ‘false form of thought,’ a flat contradiction in terms. That the latter is true we do not dispute (see (Newman’s notes infra, p. 336, note 1, &c).. But before pronouncing the form of thought for that reason a false one, we must consider what the ‘terms’ are, and to what they are applied. To myself it appears that a religion which brought the divine existence into the compass of the categories of any philosophy would by that very fact forfeit its claim to the character of revelation. The categories of human thought are the outcome of organised experience of a sensible world, and beyond the limits of that world they fail us. This is true quite apart from revelation. The ideas of essence and substance, personality and will, separateness and continuity, cause and effect, unity and plurality, are all in different degrees helps which the mind uses in order to arrange its knowledge, and valid within the range of experience, but which become a danger when invested with absolute validity as things in themselves. Even the mathematician reaches real results by operating with terms which contain a perfect contradiction (e.g). Ö-1, and to some extent the ‘calculus of operations’). The idea of Will in man, of Personality in God, present difficulties which reason cannot reconcile.
The revelation of Christ is addressed primarily to the will not to the intellect, its appeal is to Faith not to Theology. Theology is the endeavour of the Christian intellect to frame for itself conceptions of matters belonging to the immediate consequences of our faith, matters about which we must believe something, but as to which the Lord and His Apostles have delivered nothing formally explicit. Theology has no doubt its certainties beyond the express teaching of our Lord and the New Testament writers; but its work is subject to more than the usual limitations of human thought: we deal with things outside the range of experience, with celestial things; but ‘we have no celestial language.’ To abandon all theology would be to acquiesce in a dumb faith: we are to teach, to explain, to defend; the logo" sofia" and logo" gnwsew" have from the first been gifts of the Spirit for the building up of the Body. But we know in part and prophesy in part, and our terms begin to fail us just in the region where the problem of guarding the faith of the simple ends and the inevitable metaphysic, into which all pure reflexion merges, begins). Eite oun filosofhteon eite mh filosofhteon, filosofhteon, ‘man is metaphysical nolens volens:’ only let us recollect that when we find ourselves in the region of antinomies we are crossing the frontier line between revelation and speculation, between the domain of theology and that of ontology. That this line is approached in the definition of the great council no one will deny. But it was reached by the council and by the subsequent consent of the Church reluctantly and under compulsion. The bold assumption that we can argue from the revelation of God in Christ to mysteries beyond our experience was made by the Gnostics, by Arius: the Church met them by a denial of what struck at the root of her belief, not by the claim to erect formulaeae applied merely for the lack of better into a revealed ontology. In the terms Person, Hypostasis, Will, Essence, Nature, Generation, Procession, we have the embodiment of ideas extracted from experience, and, as applied to God, representing merely the best attempt we can make to explain what we mean when we speak of God as Father and of Christ as His Son. Even these last sacred names convey their full meaning to us only in view of the historical person of Christ and of our relation to God through Him. That this meaning is based upon an absolute relation of Christ to the Father is the rock of our faith. That relation is mirrored in the name Son of God: but what it is in itself, when the empirical connotations of Sonship are stripped away, we cannot possibly know. ‘Omoousio" tw Patpi, ek th" ousia" tou Patro"’ these words assert at once our faith that such relation exists and our ignorance of its nature. To the simplicity of faith it is enough to know (and this knowledge is what our formula secures) that in Christ we have not only the perfect Example of Human Love to God, but the direct expression and assurance of the Father’s Love to us.
34 The enormous literature of the subject is partly given by Harnack, 2,p. 182, Schaff, Nicene Christ. §§119, 120. The student will find great help from Bigg, Bampt. Lect. pp. 179, note 163–165, Gwatkin, Studies, p. 42, sqq.; Newman’s Arians 4, pp. 185 to 193, and his notes and excursus embodied in this volume, especially that appended to Epist. Euseb. p. 77; Zahn’s Marcellus, pp. 11–27 (also p. 87), perhaps the best modern discussion; Harnack 2,pp. 228–230, and note 31; Loofs §§32–34; Shedd 1,362–37a; and the Introduction to the Tomus and ad Afros in this volume pp. 482, 488. The use of ousia in Aristotle is tabulated by Bonitz in the fifth volume (index) to the Berlin edition: its use in Plato is less frequent and less technical, but see the brief account in Liddell and Scott).
35 Gregory Thaumaturgus was the great Origenist influence in northern Asia Minor: the Cappadocian fathers were also influenced in the direction of the omoousion by Apollinarius: see the correspondence between Basil and the latter Bas). Epp. 8, 9, edited by Dräseke in Ztschr. für K.G. 8,85 sqq. Apollinarius was of course equally opposed to Arianism and to Origen: see also p. 449 sq.
‘The victory of Nicaeaea was rather a surprise than a solid conquest. As it was not the spontaneous and deliberate purpose of the bishops present, but a revolution which a minority had forced through by sheer strength of clearer Christian thought, a reaction was inevitable as soon as the half-convinced conservatives returned home’ (Gwatkin). The reaction, however, was not for a long time overtly doctrinal. The defeat, the moral humiliation of Arianism at the council was too signal, the prestige of the council itself too overpowering, the Emperor too resolute in supporting its definition, to permit of this. Not till after the death of Constantine in 337 does the policy become manifest of raising alternative symbols to a coordinate rank with that of Nicaeaea; not till six years after the establishment of Constantius as sole Emperor,—i.e. not till 357,— did Arianism once again set its mouth to the trumpet. During the reign of Constantine the reaction, though doctrinal in its motive, was personal in its ostensible grounds. The leaders of the victorious minority at Nicaeaea are one by one attacked on this or that pretence and removed from their Sees, till at the time of Constantine’s death the East is in the hands of their opponents. What were the forces at work which made this possible?
(1) Persecuted Arians. Foremost of all, the harsh measures adopted by Constantine with at least the tacit approval of the Nicene leaders furnished material for reaction. Arius and his principal friends were sent into exile, and as we have seen they went in bitterness of spirit. Arius himself was banished to Illyricum, and would seem to have remained there five or six years. (The chronology of his recall is obscure, but see D.C.B. 2,364, and Gwatkin, p. 86, note 2). It would be antecedently very unlikely that a religious exile would spare exertions to gain sympathy for himself and converts to his opinions. As a matter of fact, Arianism had no more active supporters during the next half-century than two bishops of the neighbouring province of Pannonia, Valens of Mursa (Mitrowitz), and Ursacius36 of Singidunum (Belgrade). Valens and Ursacius are described as pupils of Arius, and there is every reason to trace their personal relations with the heresiarch to his Illyrian exile. The seeds sown in Illyria at this time were still bearing fruit nearly 50 years later (pp. 489, 494, note). Secundus nursed his bitterness fully thirty years (p. 294; cf. 456). Theognis grasped at revenge at Tyre in 335 (pp. 104, 114). Eusebius of Nicomedia, recalled from exile with his friend and neighbour Theognis, not long after the election of Athanasius in 328, was ready to move heaven and earth to efface the results of the council. The harsh measures against the Arians then, if insufficient to account for the reaction, at any rate furnished it with the energy of personal bitterness and sense of wrong.
(2) The Eusebians and the Court. Until the council of Sardica (i.e. a short time after the death of Eusebius of Nicomedia), the motive power of the reaction proceeded from the environment of Eusebius, oi peri Eusebion. It should be observed once for all that the term ‘Eusebians’ is the later and inexact equivalent of the last named Greek phrase, which (excepting perhaps p. 436) has reference to Eusebius of Nicomedia only, and not to his namesake of Caeaesarea. The latter, no doubt, lent his support to the action of the party, but ought not to suffer in our estimation from the misfortune of his name. Again, the ‘Eusebians’ are not a heresy, nor a theological party or school; they are the ‘ring,’ or personal entourage, of one man, a master of intrigue, who succeeded in combining a very large number of men of very different opinions in more or less close association for common ecclesiastical action. The ‘Eusebians’ sensu latiori are the majority of Asiatic bishops who were in reaction against the council and its leaders; in the stricter sense the term denotes the pure Arians like Eusebius, Theognis, and the rest, and those ‘political Arians’ who without settled adherence to Arian principles, were, for all practical purposes, hand in glove with Eusebius and his fellows. To the former class emphatically belong Valens and Ursacius, whose recantation in 347 is the solitary and insufficient foundation for the sweeping generalisation of Socrates (ii. 37), that they ‘always inclined to the party in power,’ and George, the presbyter of Alexandria, afterwards bishop of the Syrian Laodicea, who, although he went through a phase of ‘conservatism,’ 357–359, began and ended (Gwatkin, pp. 181–183) as an Arian, pure and simple. Among ‘political Arians’ of this period Eusebius of Caeaesarea is the chief. He was not, as we have said above, an Arian theologically, yet whatever allowances may be made for his conduct during this period (D.C.B., 2,315, 316) it tended all in one direction. But on the whole, political Arianism is more abundantly exemplified in the Homoeans of the next generation, whose activity begins about the time of the death of Constans. The Eusebians proper were political indeed ei tine" kai alloi, but their essential Arianism is the one element of principle about them37 . Above all, the employment of the term ‘Semi-Arians’ as a synonym for Eusebians, or indeed as a designation of any party at this period, is to be strongly deprecated. It is the (possibly somewhat misleading, but reasonable and accepted) term for the younger generation of convinced ‘conservatives,’ whom we find in the sixth decade of the century becoming conscious of their essential difference in principle from the Arians, whether political or pure, and feeling their way toward fusion with the Nicenes. These are a definite party, with a definite theological position, to which nothing in the earlier period exactly corresponds. The Eusebians proper were not semi-, but real Arians. Eusebius of Coeoesarea and the Asiatic conservatives are the predecessors of the semi-Arians, but their position is not quite the same. Reserving them for a moment, we must complete our account of the Eusebians proper. Their nucleus consisted of the able and influential circle of ‘Lucianists;’ it has been remarked by an unprejudiced observer that, so far as we know, not one of them was eminent as a religious character (Harnack, 2,185); their strength was in fixity of policy and in ecclesiastical intrigue; and their battery was the imperial court. Within three years of the Council, Constantine had begun to waver, not in his resolution to maintain the Nicene Creed, that he never relaxed, but in his sternness toward its known opponents. His policy was dictated by the desire for unity: he was made to feel the lurking dissatisfaction of the bishops of Asia, perhaps as his anger was softened by time he missed the ability and ready counsel of the extruded bishop of his residential city. An Arian presbyter (‘Eustathius’ or ‘Eutokius’?), who was a kind of chaplain to Constantia, sister of Constantine and widow of Licinius, is said to have kept the subject before the Emperor’s mind after her death (in 328, see Socr. 1,25). At last, as we have seen, first Eusebius and Theognis were recalled, then Arius himself was pardoned upon his general assurance of agreement with the faith of the Synod).
The atmosphere of a court is seldom favourable to a high standard of moral or religious principle; and the place-hunters and hangers-on of the imperial courts of these days were an exceptionally worthless crew (see Gwatkin, p. 60, 100, 234). It is a tribute to the Nicene cause that their influence was steadily on the other side, and to the character of Constantine that he was able throughout the greater part of the period to resist it, at any rate as far as Athanasius was concerned. But on the whole the court was the centre whence the webs of Eusebian intrigue extended to Egypt, Antioch, and many other ohscurer centres of attack.
The influences outside the Church were less directly operative in the campaign, but such as they were they served the Eusebian plans. The expulsion of a powerful bishop from the midst of a loyal flock was greatly assisted by the co-operation of a friendly mob; and Jews (pp. 94, 296), and heathen alike were willing to aid the Arian cause. The army, the civil service, education, the life of society were still largely heathen; the inevitable influx of heathen into the Church, now that the empire had become Christian, brought with it multitudes to whom Arianism was a more intelligible creed than that of Nicaea; the influence of the philosophers was a serious factor, they might well welcome Arianism as a ‘Selbstersetzung des Christentums.’ This is not inconsistent with the instances of persecution of heathenism by Arian bishops, and of savage heathen reprisals, associated with the names of George of Alexandria, Patrophilus, Marc of Arethusa, and others. (For a fuller discussion, with references, see Gwatkin, pp. 53—59).
(3)). The Ecclesiastical Conservatives. Something has already been said in more than one connection to explain how it came to pass that the very provinces whose bishops made up thelarge numerical majority at Nicaea, also furnished the numbers which swelled the ranks of the Eusebians at Tyre, Antioch, and Philippopolis. The actual men were, of course, in many cases38 changed in the course of years, but the sees were the same, and there is ample evidence that the staunch Nicene party were in a hopeless minority in Asia Minor39 and but little stronger in Syria. The indefiniteness of this mass of episcopal opinion justifies the title ‘Conservative.’ In adopting it freely, we must not forget, what the whole foregoing account has gone to shew, that their conservatism was of the empirical or short-sighted kind, prone to acquiesce in things as they are, hard to arouse to a sense of a great crisis, reluctant to step out of its groove. If by conservatism we mean action which really tends to preserve the vital strength of an institution, then Athanasius and the leaders of Nicaea were the only conservatives. But it is not an unknown thing for vulgar conservatism to take alarm at the clear grasp of principles and facts which alone can carry the State over a great crisis, and by wrapping itself up in its prejudices to play into the hands of anarchy. Common men do not easily rise to the level of mighty issues. Where Demosthenes saw the crisis of his nation’s destiny, Aeschines saw materials for a personal impeachment of his rival. In the anti-Nicene reaction the want of clearness of thought coincided with the fatal readiness to magnify personal issues. Here was the opportunity of the Arian leaders: a confused succession of personal skirmishes, in which the mass of men saw no religious principle, nor any combined purpose (Soc. 1,13, nuktomacia" teouden apeice ta ginomena) was conducted from headquarters with a fixed steady aim. But their machinations would have been fruitless had the mass of the bishops been really in sympathy with the council to which they were still by their own action committed. ‘Arian hatred of the council would have been powerless if it had not rested on a formidable mass of conservative discontent: while the conservative discontent might have died away if the court had not supplied it with the means of action’ (Gwatkin, p. 61. He explains the policy of the court by the religious sympathies of Asia Minor40 and its political importance, pp. 90–91). But the authority of the council remained unchallenged during the lifetime of Constantine, and no Arian raised his voice against it. One doctrinal controversy there was, of subordinate importance, but of a kind to rivet the conservatives to their attitude of sullen reaction.
It follows from what has been said of the influence of Origen in moulding the current theology of the Eastern Church, that the one theological principle which was most vividly and generally grasped was the horror of Monarchian and especially of ‘Sabellian’ teaching. Now in replying to Asterius the spokesman of early Arianism, no less a person than Marcellus, bishop of Ancyra (Angora) in Galatia, and one of the principal leaders of Nicaea, had laid himself open to this charge. It was brought with zeal and learning (in 336) in two successive works by Eusebius of Caesarea, which, with Ath., Orat. 4,are our principal source of information as to the tenets of Marcellus (see (D.C.B. 2,341, sq., Zahn Marcellus 99 sqq., fragments collected by Rettberg Marcelliana). On the other hand he was uniformly supported by the Nicene party, and especially by Athanasius and the Roman Church. His book was examined at Sardica, and on somewhat ex parte grounds (p. 125) pronounced innocent: a personal estrangement from Athanasius shortly after (Hilar). Fragm. 2,21, 23) on account of certain ‘ambiguae praedi-cationes eius, in quam Photinus erupit, doctrinae,’ did not amount to a formal breach of communion (he is mentioned 14 years later as an exiled Nicene bishop, pp. 256, 271), nor did the anxious questioning of Epiphanius (see (Har. 72. 4). succeed in extracting from the then aged Athanasius more than a significant smile. He refuses to condemn him, and in arguing against opinions which appear to be his, he refrains from mentioning the name even of Photinus41 . It may be well therefore to sketch in a few touches what we know of the system of Marcellus, in order that we may appreciate the relative right of Eusebius in attacking, and of Athanasius and the Romans in supporting him. Marcellus is a representative of the traditional theology of Asia Minor, as we find it in Ignatius and Irenaeus (see (above, pp. xxii.—xxiv., 26,fin)., and is independent of any influence of, or rather in conscious reaction against, Origenism. We cannot prove that he had studied either Ignatius or Irenaeus, but we find the doctrine of anakefalaiwsi" with reference to Creation and the Incarnation, and the Ignatian thought of the Divine Silence, and a general unmistakeable affinity (cf. Zahn 236—244). Marcellus ‘appeals from Origen to S. John.’ He begins with the idea of Sonship, as Arius and the Nicene Council had done. Perceiving that on the one hand Arians and Origenists alike were led by the idea of Sonship as dependent on paternal will to infer the inferiority of the Son to the Father, and in the more extreme case to deny His coeternity, feeling on the other hand (with Irenaeus II. 28,6) our inability to find an idea to correspond with the relation implied in the eternal Sonship, he turns to the first chapter of S. Jn as the classic passage for the pre-existent nature of Christ. He finds that before the Incarnation the Saviour is spoken of as Logos only: accordingly all other designations, even that of Son, must be reserved for the Incarnate. Moreover (Jn 1,1) the Word is strictly coeternal, and no name implying an act (such as gennhsi") can express the relation of the Word to God. But in view of the Divine Purpose of Creation and Redemption (for the latter is involved in the former by the doctrine of anakefalaiw-si") there is a process, a stirring within the divine Monad. The Word which is potentially (dunamei) eternally latent in God proceeds forth in Actuality (energeia), yet without ceasing to be potentially in God as well. In this energeia drastikh, to which the word gennhsi" may be applied, begins the great drama of the Universe which rises to the height of the Incarnation, and which, after the Economy is completed, and fallen man restored (and more than restored) to the Sonship of God which he had lost, ends in the return of the Logos to the Father, the handing over of His Kingdom by the Son, that God may be all in all.
What strikes one throughout the scheme is the intense difficulty caused to Marcellus by the unsolved problem which underlies the whole theology of the Nicene leaders, the problem of personality. The Manhood of Christ was to Marcellus per se non-personal. The seat of its personality was the indwelling Logos. But in what sense was the Logos itself personal? Here Marcellus loses his footing: in what sense can any idea of personality attach to a merely potential existence? Again, if it was only in the energeia drastikh that the personality of the Word was realised, and this only reached its fulness in the Incarnation of Christ, was the transition difficult to the plain assertion that the personality of the Son, or of the Word, originated with the Incarnation? But if this were not so, and if the Person of the Word was to recede at the consummation of all things into the Unity of the Godhead, what was to become of the Nature He had assumed? That it too could merge into a potential existence within the Godhead was of course impossible; what then was its destiny? The answer of Marcellus was simple: he did not know (Zahn, 179); for Scripture taught nothing beyond 1Co 15,28.
We now perceive the subtle difference between Marcellus and Athanasius. Neither of them could formulate the idea of Personality in the Holy Trinity. But Athanasius, apparently on the basis of a more thorough intelligence of Scripture (for Marcellus, though a devout, was a partial and somewhat ignorant biblical theologian), felt what Marcellus did not, the steady inherent personal distinctness of the Father and the Son. Accordingly, while Athanasius laid down and adhered to the doctrine of eternal gennhsi", Marcellus involved himself in the mystical and confused idea of a divine platusmo" and sustolh. Moreover, while Athanasius was clearsighted in his apprehension of the problem of the day, Marcellus was after all merely conservative: he went behind the conservatism of the Origenists,—behind even that of the West, where Tertullian had left a sharper sense of personal distinction in the Godhead,—to an archaic conservatism akin to the ‘naive modalism’ of the early Church; upon this he engrafted reflexion, in part that of the old Asiatic theology, in part his own. As the result, his faith was such as Athanasius could not but recognise as sincere; but in his attempt to give it theological expression he split upon the rocks of Personality, of Eschatology, of the divine immutability. His theology was an honest and interesting but mistaken attempt to grapple with a problem before he understood another which lay at its base. In doing so he exposed himself justly to attack; but we may with Athanasius, while acknowledging this, retain a kindly sympathy for this veteran ally of many confessors and sturdy opponent of the alliance between science and theology.
The feeling against Marcellus might have been less strong, at any rate it would have had less show of reason, but for the fact that he was the teacher of Photinus. This person became bishop of Sirmium between 330 and 340, gave great offence by his teaching, and was deposed by the Arian party ineffectually in 347, finally in 351. After his expulsion he occupied himself with writing books in Greek and in Latin, including a work ‘against all heresies,’ in which he expounded his own (Socr. 2,30). None of his works have survived, and our information is very scanty (Zahn, Marc. 189—196 is the best account), but he seems to have solved the central difficulty of Marcellus by placing the seat of the Personality of Christ in His Human Soul. How much of the system of his master he retained is uncertain, but the result was in substance pure Unitarianism. It is instructive to observe that even Photinus was passively supported for a time by the Nicenes. He was apparently (Hil). Fr. 2,19, sqq.)condemned at a council at Milan in 345, but not at Rome till 380. Athanasius (pp. 444—447) abstains from mentioning his name although he refutes his opinions; once only he mentions him as a heretic, and with apparent reluctance (c. Apoll. 2,19, tou legomenou fwteinou). The first42 condemnation of him on the Nicene side in the East is by Paulinus of Antioch in 362 (p. 486). On the other hand the Eusebians eagerly caught at so irresistible a weapon. Again and again they hurled anathemas at Photinus, at first simply identifying him with Marcellus, but afterwards with full appreciation of his position. And even to the last the new Nicene party in Asia were aggrieved at the refusal of the old Nicenes at Alexandria and Rome to anathematise the master of such a heretic. Photinus was the scandal of Marcellus, Marcellus of the Council of Nicaea.
36 They were probably not yet bishops at this time, as they were young bishops at Tyre in 335; evidently they are ‘the fairest of God’s youthful flock’ (!) alluded to in Eus). V.C. iv. 43.
37 At the same time Arius himself and all his fellow Lucianists (unlike the obscure Secundus and Theonas, and the later generation of Eunomians) are open to the charge of subserviency at a pinch).
38 Alexander of Thessalonica had been at Nicaea, Dianius of Caes. Capp. had not. The two are typical of the better sort of conservatives.
39 For Asia besides Marcellus we have only Diodorus of Tenedos, not at Nicaea, but expelled soon after 330, p. 271; signs at Sardica, p. 147, banished again p. 276, not in D.C.B.; for Syria the names p. 271, cf. p. 256.
40 Always an important factor in the stability of the Byzantine throne, see, on Justinian, D.C.B. 3,545a, sub fin. Newman, Arians, Appendix 5,, brings no conclusive proof of strong Nicene feeling among the masses of the laity in this region. But ‘the people’ in Galatia, according to Basil, remained devoted to Marcellus).
41 At the same time he adopts a certain reserve in speaking of Marcellus, and his name is absent from the roll of the orthodox, p. 227.
42 But he is condemned by name in the alleged Coptic Acts of the Council of 362; moreover Eustathius appears to have written against him, see Cowper, Syr. Misc. 60).