Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

PART II.

equally dangerous and pernicious ture. Others, CENT. IV. in defending the arian notions, went further than their chief, and thus fell into errors much more extravagant than those which he maintained. Thus does it generally happen in religious controversies; the human mind, amidst its present imperfection and infirmity, and its unhappy subjection to the empire of imagination and the dictates of sense, rarely follows the middle way in the search of truth, or contemplates spiritual and divine things with that accurateness and simplicity, that integrity and moderation, which alone can guard against erro

neous extremes.

Among those who fell into such extremes by their inconsiderate violence in opposing the arian system, Apollinaris the younger, bishop of Laodicea, may be justly placed, though otherwise a man of distinguished merit, and one whose learned labours had rendered to religion the most important services. He defended strenuously the divinity of Christ against the arians; but, by indulging himself too freely in philosophical distinctions and subtilties, he was carried so far as to deny in some measure his humanity. He maintained that the body which Christ assumed, was endowed with a sensitive and not a rational soul; and that the divine nature performed the functions of reason, and supplied the place of what we call the mind, the spiritual and intellectual principle in man. And from this it seemed to follow as a natural consequence, that the divine nature in Christ was blended with the human, and suffered with it the pains of crucifixion and death itself. This great man was led astray, not only by his love of disputing, but

However erroneous the hypothesis of Apollinaris may have been, the consequences here drawn from it are not entirely just; for if it is true that the human soul does not, in any respect, suffer death by the dissolution of the body, the same must hold good with respect to the divine nature.

CENT. IV.

also by an imnpiderate attachment to the platonic PART II doctrine concerning the twofold nature of the soul, which was too generally adopted by the divines of this age; and which, undoubtedly, perverted their judgment in several respects, and led them to erroneous and extravagant decisions on various subjects.

Marcellus of Ancyra.

Other errors beside that now mentioned, are imputed to Apollinaris by certain ancient writers; but it is not easy to determine how far they deserve credit upon that head.d Be that as it will, his doctrine was received by great numbers in almost all the eastern provinces, though by the different explications that were given of it, its votaries were subdivided into various sects. It did not however maintain its ground long; but being attacked at the same time by the laws of the emperors, the decrees of councils, and the writings of the learned, it sunk by degrees under their united force.

XVIII. Marcellus, bishop of Ancyra in Galatia, may be ranked in the same class with Apollinaris, if we are to give credit to Eusebius of Cæsarea, and the rest of his adversaries, who represent his explication of the doctrine of the trinity as bor dering upon the sabellian and samosatenian errors. Many however are of opinion, that Eusebius of Cæsarea, and the bishop of Nicomedia, who bore the same name, represented with partiality the sentiments of Marcellus, on account of the bitterness and vehemence which he discovered in his opposition to the arians, and their protectors. But

d See Basnage's Historia Hæresis Apollinaris, published a second time by Voigt, in his Bibliotheca Hæresiologica, tom. i. fascie. i. p. 1-96, and improved by some learned and important additions. See also, tom. i. fascic. iii. and p. 607, of this latter work. The laws that were enacted against the followers of Apollinaris, are extant in the Theodosian Code, tom. vi. p. 144. See an account of Apollinaris and his heresy, in the English edition of Bayle's Dictionary, at the article Apollinaris.

PART 11.

though it should be acknowledged, that in some CENT. IV. particulars, the accusations of his enemies carried an aspect of partiality and resentment, yet it is manifest, that they were far from being entirely groundless. For if the doctrine of Marcellus be attentively examined it will appear, that he consid ered the Son and the Holy Ghost as two emanations from the Divine Nature, which, after performing their respective offices, were to return again into the substance of the Father; and every one will perceive, at first sight, how incompatible this opinion is with the belief of three distinct persons in the godhead. Beside this, a particular circumstance, which augmented considerably the aversion of many to Marcellus, as also the suspicion of his erring in a capital manner, was his obstinately re fusing, toward the conclusion of his life, to con. demn the tenets of his disciple Photinus.

Photinus.

XIX. Photinus, bishop of Sirmium, may, with The sect of propriety, be placed at the head of those whom the arian controversy was the occasion of seducing in to the most extravagant errors. This prelate pub lished, in the year 343, his opinions concerning the Deity, which were equally repugnant to the orthodox and arian systems. His notions, which have been but obscurely, and indeed sometimes incon sistently represented by the ancient writers, amount to this, when attentively examined; "that Jesus Christ was born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary; that a certain divine emanation, or ray, which he called the word, descended upon this extraordinary man; that, on account of the union of the divine word with his human nature, Jesus was called the Son of God, nay, God himself; and that

• See Montfaucon's Diatriba de Caussa Marcelli in Nova Collectione Patrum Græcorum, tom. ii. p. 51; as also Gervaise, Vie de S. Epiphane, p. 42.

PART II.

Macedonius.

CENT. IV. the Holy Ghost was not a distinct person, but a ce. lestial virtue proceeding from the Deity." The temerity of this bold innovator was chastised, not only by the orthodox in the councils of Antioch and Milan, held in the years 345 and 347, and in that of Sirmium, whose date is uncertain, but also by the arians in one of their assemblies held at Sirmium, in the year 351. In consequence of all this, Photinus was degraded from the episcopal dignity, and died in exile in the year 372.8 The heresy of xx. After him arose Macedonius, bishop of Constantinople, a very eminent semiarian doctor, who, through the influence of the eunomians, was deposed by the council of Constantinople, in the year 360, and sent into exile, where he formed the sect of the macedonians, or pneumatomachians. In his exile, he declared with the utmost freedom those sentiments which he had formerly either concealed, or at least taught with much circumspection. He considered the Holy Ghost as "a divine energy diffused throughout the universe, and not as a person distinct from the Father and the Son." This opinion had many partisans in the Asiatic provinces; but the council assembled by Theodosius, in the year 381, at Constantinople, to which the second rank among the ecumenical or general councils is commonly attributed, put a stop by its authority, to the growing evil, and crushed this rising sect before, it had arrived at its full maturity. An hundred and fifty bishops, who were present

Of According to Dr. Lardner's account this council of Antioch, in 345, was held by the arians, or eusebians, and not by the orthodox, as our author affirms. See Lardner's Credibility, &c. vol. ix. p. 13; see also Athanas. De Synod. N. vi. vii. compared with Socrat. lib. ii. cap. xviii. xix.

8 Or in 575, as is concluded from Jerome's Chronicle. Matt. Larroque, De Photino, et ejus multiplici condemnatione. Thom. Ittigius, Historia Photini in App, ad librum de Haresiarchis ævi Apostolici.

h Socrates, Hist. Eccles. lib. iv. cap. iv.

PART II.

at this council, gave the finishing touch to what CENT. IV. the council of Nice had left imperfect, and fixed in a full and determinate manner, the doctrine of three Persons in one God, which is as yet received among the generality of christians. This venerable assembly did not stop here; they branded with infamy all the errors, and set a mark of execration upon all the heresies that were hitherto known; they advanced the bishop of Constantinople, on account of the eminence and extent of the city in which he resided, to the first rank after the Roman pontiff, and determined several other points, which they looked upon as essential to the well being of the church in general.i

1

anists.

xXThe frenzy of the ancient gnostics, which The priscillihad been so often vanquished, and in appearance removed, by the various remedies that had been used for that purpose, broke out anew in Spain. It was transported thither, in the beginning of this century, by a certain person, named Marc of Memphis in Egypt, whose converts at first were not very numerous. They increased, however, inprocess of time, and counted in their number sev. eral persons highly eminent for their learning and piety. Among others, Priscillian, a layman, distinguished by his birth, fortune, and eloquence, and afterward bishop of Abila, was infected with this odious doctrine, and became its most zealous and ardent defender. Hence he was accused by several bishops, and by a rescript obtained from the emperor Gratian, he was banished with his followers from Spain; but was restored some time

G.

k

i Socrates, Hist. Eccles. lib. v. cap. viii. p. 624. Sozomen, Hist. Eccles. lib. vii. cap. vii. p. 711.

7

This banishment was the effect of a sentence pronounced against Priscillian, and some of his followers, by a synod convened at Saragossa in the year 380; in consequence of which, Idacius and Ithacius, two cruel and persecuting ecclesiastics, obtained from Gratian the rescript

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »