Early Church Fathers
96 What is conspicuously true of the Second General Council is in reality not less true of the First. Its high authority to later ages is due not to its formal character as a council, but to the character of its work; the consent of the Church, and that not readily given, but as the result of a long process of searching and sifting, has given to it its `irreformable' authority. Its authority is expressly put on a par with that of the Antiochene Synod of c. 269, by Ath. de Syn. 43 (consult the whole discussion, pp. 473, 475, &c.). Short of a council which should include every bishop of the entire Church, in unanimous agreement,-an impossible contingency,-the claims of any given council to be truly ecumenical are relative, not absolute; and no consistent theory is possible of the conditions under which a council could by virtue of its constitution claim infallibility for its decisions. The supposed infallibility of general councils lies in reality outside them, in the authority which sanctions and consecrates their decisions. According to the precedent of Nicaea this is the Church `diffusive' (cf. p. 489, and Pusey, Councils, p. 225, sq.), and such consent, again, must necessarily be partial and relative. If a more tangible and expeditious theory is wanted, we have it in the Roman system, according to which a council is infallible if ratified by the Pope. This at once puts all such councils, whether local or general, on one level, and affords a ready criterion. In other words, the only consistent (mechanical) theory of the infallibility of councils is one which makes councils superfluous. If such a theory had been known to the Church in the age of councils, the councils would not have been held.
97 The doctrine of Athanasius is, not formally but none the less really, the doctrine of Chalcedon, which again stands or falls together with that of Nicaea. Like the latter, it transcends the power of human thought to do more than state it in terms which exclude the (Nestorian and Monophysite) alternatives. The Man Jesus Christ is held to have lacked nothing that constitutes personality in man; the human personality which therefore belongs to it ideally, being in fact merged in the Divine personality of the Son. The `impersonality,' as it is sometimes called, of Christ qua man is therefore better spoken of as His Divine Personality. Personality and will are correlated but not identical ideas.
98 The candid, but friendly, and often just, criticisms on Mr. Gwatkin's book do not concern us here. But the Reviewer's chronological strictures are his weakest point: he uses his texts without criticism, and falls far short of Mr. Gwatkin's standard of searching historical method.
99 E.g. that he died five months after his return home from the council (Tillem.), or after the reconciliation of Meletius (Montf.). As neither event is dated, both hypotheses render the `five months' useless for chronology.
100 The above resumé of the details of the evidence makes it clear that Mr. Gwatkin's alleged oversights are in reality those of his critic. The proposal of the latter to correct `Epiph.' in Fest. Ind. to `Pharmuthi' is especially gratuitous.