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a considerable number of followers, when in a. d. 318, the celebrated dispute with bishop Alexander broke out. This dispute had a greater and more lasting influence upon the development of the Christian religion than any other controversy. The accounts respecting the immediate occasion of the dispute differ (Epiphan. Haeres. 69. 3; So-crat. //. E. i. 5 ; Sozom. H. E. i. 15 ; Philostorg. i. 4), but all agree in stating that Alexander after having heard some reports respecting Anus's novel views about the Trinity, attacked them in a public assembly of presbyters. Hereupon Arms charged the bishop with being guilty of the errors of Sa-bellius, and endeavoured to defend his own opinions. He maintained that the Son of God had been created by God, previous to the existence of the world and of time, by an act of God's own free will and out of nothing ; that therefore the Son had not existed from all eternity; and that consequently in this respect the Son was not perfectly equal to the Father, although he was raised far above all men. This first dispute was followed by a circular letter from Alexander to his clergy, and by a second conference, but all had no effect. As in the meantime the number of Arius's followers was rapidly increasing, and as both the clergy and laity of Egypt, as well as several bishops of Syria and Asia Minor, were favourably disposed towards Arms, partly because his doctrines resembled those of Lucian, who had died a martyr about ten years before, and partly because they were captivated by Arius^s insinuating letters addressed to them, Alexander, in a. d. 321, convened at Alexandria a synod of nearly one hundred Egyptian and Libyan bishops. The influence of Alexander, of course, prevailed at this synod: Anus was deposed, and he and his followers were excommunicated. In order to insure the proper effect of this verdict, Alexander addressed numerous letters to foreign bishops, in which he announced to them the judgment passed upon Arius, endeavoured to refute his doctrines, and urged them to adopt his own views of the case, and not to afford any protection to the heretic. Two of these letters are still extant. [alexander, p. Ill, b.]
It was owing to these letters and to the extensive exertions of Arius to defend his doctrines and to win more followers, that the possibility of an amicable settlement of the question diminished more and more every day. At Alexandria the Arians regularly withdrew from the church, and had their separate places of worship; and in Palestine, whither Arius had fled from Egypt, he found a favourable reception. Here he addressed a letter, still extant (Epiphan. Haeres. 69. 6; Theodoret. H. E. i. 5), to his friend, Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedeia, the most influential bishop of the time, and who himself bore a grudge against Alexander of Alexandria. Eusebius in his answer, as well as in a letter he addressed to Pau-linus, bishop of Tyre, expressed his perfect agreement with the views of Arius (Athanas. de Synod. § 17 ; Theodoret. H. E. i. 6), and even received Arius into his own house. During his stay at Nicomedeia, Arius wrote a theological work called Thaleia (OaAeja), which is said to have been composed in the effeminate style of Sotades, and to have been written in part in the so-called Sot-adic metre. [sotades.] He also addressed a letter to bishop Alexander, in which he entered into an explanation of his doctrines, and which
was signed by the clergy who had been excommunicated with him. Of his Thaleia we possess only some abstracts made by his enemy Atha-nasius, which are written in a philosophical and earnest tone; but they contain statements, which could not but be offensive to a believer in the divinity of Christ. These things, when compared with the spirit of Anus's letters, might lead to the belief that Athanasius in his epitome exaggerated the statements of Arius; but we must remember that Arius in his letters was always prudent and moderate, to avoid giving offence, by not shewing how far his theory might be carried. On the whole, the controversy between Arius and Alexander presents no features of noble generosity or impartiality; each is ambitious and obstinate. Arius was as zealous in endeavouring to acquire new followers as Alexander was fierce and stubborn in his persecution. At last, in a. d. 323, Eusebius and the other bishops who were in favour of Arianism, assembled in council in Bithynia, and issued a circular to all the bishops, requesting them to continue their ecclesiastical communion with Arius, and to use their influence with Alexander on his behalf. But neither this step nor the permission granted by several bishops to Arius to resume his functions, as presbyter, so far as it could be done without encroachment upon the rights of Alexander, was calculated to restore peace; on the contrary, the disputes for and against Arianism spread so much both among the laity and clergy of Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor, that in a. d. 324, the emperor Constantine thought it necessary to write a letter to Arius and Alexander in common, in which he declared the controverted point of little importance, exhorted the disputants to a speedy reconciliation, and left it to each to hold his own opinions, provided he did not disturb the outward union of the church. (Euseb. De Vit. Const. M. ii. 64, &c.) This letter was carried to Alexandria, whither Arius had returned in the meantime, by Hosius, bishop of Corduba, who was also to act as mediator. But Hosius soon adopted the views of Alexander, and his mission had no effect.
The disputes became more vehement from day to day, and Constantine at last saw himself obliged to convoke a general council at Nicaea, A. d. 3259 at which upwards of 300 bishops were present, principally from the eastern part of the empire, and among them Arius, Alexander, and his friend Athanasius. Each defended his own opinions; but Arius being the accused party was in a disadvantageous position, and a confession of faith, which he presented to the council, was torn to pieces in his presence. Athanasius was the most vehement opponent of Arius, and after long debates the council came to the resolution, that the Son of God was begotten, not made, of the same substance with the Father, and of the same essence with him (d/xooucrios). Arius was condemned with his writings and followers. This verdict was signed by nearly all the bishops present. Eusebius and three others, who refused to sign, were compelled by the threats of the emperor to follow the example of the rest: only two bishops, Theonas of Marmarica and Secundus of Ptolemais, had courage enough to share the fate of Arius and accompanied him to Illyricum whither he was exiled. At the same time an edict was issued, commanding every one, under the penalty of death, to sur-