Click to View

Early Church Fathers
Click to ViewMaster Index
Click to ViewPower Search

 Click to View

Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Document

Excursus on the Heresies Condemned in Canon I.







Excursus on the Heresies Condemned in Canon I.

In treating of these heresies I shah invert the order of the canon, and shall speak of the Macedonian and Apollinarian heresies first, as being most nearly connected with the object for which the Constantinopolitan Synod was assembled.

The Semi-Arians, Macedonians or Pneumatomachi.

Peace indeed seemed to have been secured by the Nicene decision but there was an element of discord still extant, and so shortly afterwards as in 359 the double-synod of Rimini (Ariminum) and Selencia rejected the expressions hemousion and homoeusion equally, and Jerome gave birth to his famous phrase, "the world awoke to find itself Arian." The cause of this was the weight attaching to the Semi-Arian party, which counted among its numbers men of note and holiness, such as St. Cyril of Jerusalem. Of the developments of this party it seems right that some mention should be made in this place, since it brought forth the Macedonian heresy. (Wm. Bright, D.D., St. Leo on the Incarnation, pp. 213 et seqq.)

The Semi-Arian party in the fourth century attempted to steer a middle course between calling the Son Consubstantial and calling him a creature. Their position, indeed, was untenable, but several persisted in clinging to it; and it was adopted by Macedonius, who occupied the see of Constantinople. It was through their adoption of a more reverential language about the Son than had been used by the old Arians, that what is called the Macedonian heresy showed itself. Arianism had spoken both of the Son and the Holy Spirit as creatures. The Macedonians, rising up out of Semi-Arianism, gradually reached the Church's belief as to the uncreated majesty of the Son, even if they retained their objection to the homoousion as a formula. But having, in their previously Semi-Arian position, refused to extend their own "homoiousion" to the Holy Spirit, they afterwards persisted in regarding him as "external to the one indivisible Godhead," Newman's Arians, p. 226; or as Tillemont says (Mem. vi., 527), "the denial of the divinity of the Holy Spirit was at last their capital or only error." St. Athanasius, while an exile under Constantius for the second time, "heard with pain," as he says (Ep. i. ad Serap, 1) that "some who had left the Arians from disgust at their blasphemy against the Son of God, yet called the Spirit a creature, and one of the ministering spirits, differing only in degree from the Angels:" and soon afterwards, in 362, the Council of Alexandria condemned the notion that the Spirit was a creature, as being "no true avoidance of the detestable Arian heresy." See "Later Treatises of St. Athanasius," p. 5. Athanasius insisted that the Nicene Fathers, although silent on the nature of the Holy Spirit, had by implication ranked him with the Father and the Son as an object of belief (ad Afros, 11). After the death of St. Athanasius, the new heresy was rejected on behalf of the West by Pope Damasus, who declared the Spirit to be truly and properly from the Father (as the Son from the Divine substance) and very God, "omnia posse et omnia nosse, et ubique esse," coequal and adorable (Mansi, iii., 483). The Illyrian bishops also, in 374, wrote to the bishops of Asia Minor, affirming the consubstantiality of the Three Divine Persons (Theodoret, H. E., iv., 9). St. Basil wrote his De Spirits Sancto in the same sense (see Swete, Early History of the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, pp. 58, 67), and in order to vindicate this truth against the Pneumatomachi, as the Macedonians were called by the Catholics, the Constantinopolitan recension of the Nicene Creed added the words, "the Lord and the Life-giver, proceeding from the Father, with the Father and the Son worshipped and glorified" etc., which had already formed part of local Creeds in the East.

From the foregoing by Canon Bright, the reader will be able to understand the connexion between the Semi-Arians and Pneumatomachi, as well as to see how the undestroyed heretical germs of the Semi-Asian heresy necessitated by their development the condemnation of a second synod.

The Apollinarians.

(Philip Schaff, in Smith and Wace, Dict. Christ. Biog., s. v. Apollinaris.)

Apollinaris was the first to apply the results of the Nicene controversy to Christology proper, and to call the attention of the Church to the psychical and pneumatic element in the humanity of Christ; but in his zeal for the true deity of Christ, and fear of a double personality, he fell into the error of a partial denial of his true humanity. Adopting the psychological trichotomy of Plato (sw=ma yukh\, pneu=ma), for which he quoted 1. Thess. v. 23 and Gal. v. 17, he attributed to Christ a human body (sw=ma) and a human soul (the yukh\ a!logoj, the anima animans which man has in common with the animal), but not a rational spirit (nou=j, pneu=ma, yukh\, logikh;, anima rationalis,) and put in the place of the latter the divine Logos. In opposition to the idea of a mere connection of the Logos with the man Jesus, he wished to secure an organic unity of rite two, and so a true incarnation; but he sought this at the expense of the most important constituent of man. He reached only a Qeo\j sarkofo/rojas Nestorianism only an a!nqrwpoj qeofo/roj instead of the proper qea/ndrwtoj. He appealed to the fact that the Scripture says, "the Word was made flesh"-not spirit; "God was manifest in the flesh" etc, To which Gregory Nazianzen justly replied that in these passages the term sa/rc was used by synecdoche for the whole human nature. In this way Apollinaris established so close a connection of the Logos with human flesh, that all the divine attributes were transferred to the human nature, and all the human attributes to the divine, and the two merged in one nature in Christ. Hence he could speak of a crucifixion of the Logos, and a worship of his flesh. He made Christ a middle being between God and man, in whom, as it were, one part divine and two parts human were fused in the unity of a new nature. He even ventured to adduce created analogies, such as the mule, midway between the horse and the ass; the grey colour, a mixture of white and black; and spring, in distinction from winter and summer. Christ, said he, is neither whole man, nor God, but a mixture (mi/cij) of God and man. On the other hand, he regarded the orthodox view of a union of full humanity with a full divinity in one person-of two wholes in one whole-as an absurdity. He called the result of this construction a0nqrwpo/qeoj, a sort of monstrosity, which he put in the same category with the mythological figure of the Minotaur. But the Apollinarian idea of the union of the Logos with a truncated human nature might be itself more justly compared with this monster. Starting from the Nicene homoousion as to the Logos, but denying the completeness of Christ's humanity, he met Arianism half-way, which likewise put the divine Logos in the place of rite human spirit in Christ. But he strongly asserted his unchangeableness, while Arians taught his changeableness (trepto/thj).

The faith of the Church revolted against such a mutilated and stunted humanity of Christ which necessarily involved also a merely partial redemption. The incarnation is an assumption of the entire human nature, sin only excluded. The e0nsa/rkwsij is e0nanqrw/phsij. To be a full and complete Redeemer, Christ must be a perfect man (te/leioj a!nqrwpoj). The spirit or rational soul is the most important element in man, his crowning glory, the seat of intelligence and freedom, and needs redemption as well as the soul and the body; for sin has entered and corrupted all the faculties.

In the sentence immediately preceding the above Dr. Scruff remarks "but the peculiar Christology of Apollinaris has reappeared from time to time in a modified shape, as isolated theological opinion." No doubt Dr. Schaff had in mind the fathers of the so-called "Kenoticism" of to-day, Gess and Ebrard, who teach, unless they have been misunderstood, that the incarnate Son had no human intellect or rational soul (nou=j) but that the divine personality took its place, by being changed into it.By this last modification, they claim to escape from tire taint of the Apollinarian heresy.2

The Eunomians or Anomoeans.

(Bright, Notes on the Canons, Canon I. of I. Const.)

"The Eunomians or Anomoeans." These were the ultra-Arians, who carried to its legitimate issue the original Arian denial of the eternity and uncreatedness of the Son, while they further rejected what Arius had affirmed as to the essential mysteriousness of the Divine nature (Soc., H. E., iv., 7; comp. Athan., De Synod., 15). Their founder was Aetius, the most versatile of theological adventurers (cf. Athan, De Synod., 31; Soc., H. E., ii., 45; and see a summary of his career in Newman's Arians, p. 347); but their leader at the time of the Council was the dating and indefatigable Eunomius (for whose personal characteristics, see his admirer Philostorgius, x., 6) He, too, had gone through many vicissitudes from his first employment as the secretary of Aetius, and his ordination as deacon by Eudoxius; as bishop of Cyzicus, he had been lured into a disclosure of his true sentiments, and then denounced as a heretic (Theod., H.. E., ii., 29); with Aetius he had openly separated from Eudoxius as a disingenuous time-server, and had gone into retirement at Chalcedon (Philostorg., ix., 4). The distinctive formula of his adherents was the "Anomoion." The Son, they said, was not "like to the Father in essence"; even to call him simply "like" was to obscure the fact that he was simply a creature, and, as such, "unlike" to his Creator. In other words, they thought the Semi-Arian "homoiousion" little better than the Catholic "homoousion": the "homoion" of the more "respectable" Arians represented in their eyes an ignoble reticence; the plain truth, however it might shock devout prejudice, must be put into words which would bar all misunderstanding: the Son might be called "God," but in a sense merely titular, so as to leave an impassable gulf between him and the uncreated Godhead (see Eunomius's Exposition in Valesius's note on See., H. E., v., 10). Compare Basil (Epist., 233, and his work against Eunomius), and Epiphanius (Hoer., 76).

The Arians or Eudoxians.

(Bright. Ut supra.)

"The Arians or Eudoxians." By these are meant the ordinary Arians of the period, or, as they may be called, the Acacian party, directed for several years by the essentially worldly and unconscientious Eudoxius. His real sympathies were with the Anomoeans (see Tillemont, Memoires, vi., 423, and compare his profane speech recorded by Socrates, H. E., ii., 43): but, as a bishop of Constantinople, he felt it necessary to discourage them, and to abide by the vague formula invented by Acacius of Caesarea, which described the Son as "like to the Father," without saying whether this likeness was supposed to be more than moral (cf. Newman, Arians, p. 317), so that the practical effect of this "homoion" was to prepare the way for that very Anomoeanism which its maintainers were ready for political purposes to disown.

The Sabellians.

(Bright. Ut supra.)

"The Sabellians," whose theory is traceable to Noetus and Praxeas in the latter part of the second century: they regarded the Son and the Holy Spirit as aspects and modes of, or as emanations from, the One Person of the Father (see Newman's Arians, pp. 120 et seqq.). Such a view tended directly to dissolve Christian belief in the Trinity and in the Incarnation (Vide Wilberforce, Incarnation, pp, 112, 197). Hence the gentle Dionysius of Alexandria characterised it in severe terms as involving "blasphemy, unbelief, and irreverence, towards the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" (Euseb., H. E., vii.. 6). Hence the deep repugnance which it excited, and the facility with which the imputation of "Sabellianizing" could be utilised by the Arians against maintainers of the Consubstantiality (Hilary, De Trinit., iv., 4; De Synod., 68; Fragm., 11; Basil, Epist., 189, 2). No organized Sabellian sect was in exist- ence at the date of this anathema: but Sabellian ideas were "in the air," and St. Basil could speak of a revival of this old misbelief (Epist., 126). We find it again asserted by Chilperic I., King of Neustria, in the latter part of the sixth century (Greg. Turon., Hist. Fr., v., 45).

The Marcellians.

(Bright. Ut supra.)

"The Marcellians," called after Marcellus bishop of Ancyra, who was persistently denounced not only by the Arianizers, but by St. Basil, and for a time, at least, suspected by St. Athanasius (Vide Epiphan., Hoer., 72, 4) as one who held notions akin to Sabellianism, and fatal to a true belief in the Divine Sonship and the Incarnation. The theory ascribed to him was that the Logos was an impersonal Divine power, immanent from eternity in God, but issuing from him in the act of creation, and entering at last into relations with the human person of Jesus, who thus became God's Son. But this expansion of the original divine unity would be followed by a "contraction," when the Logos would retire from Jesus, and God would again be all in all. Some nine years before the council, Marcellus, then in extreme old age, had sent his deacon Eugenius to St. Athanasius, with a written confession of faith, quite orthodox as to the eternity of the Trinity, and the identity of the Logos with a pre-existing and personal Son, although not verbally explicit as to the permanence of Christ's "kingdom,"-the point insisted on in one of the Epiphanian-Constantinopolitan additions to the Creed (Montfaucon, Collect. Nov., ii., 1). The question whether Marcellus was personally heterodox-i.e. whether the extracts from his treatise, made by his adversary Eusebius of Caesarea, give a fair account of his real views- has been answered unfavourably by some writers, as Newman (Athanasian Treatises, ii., 200, ed. 2), and Dollinger (Hippolytus and Callistus, p. 217, E. T. p. 201), while others, like Neale, think that "charity and truth" suggest his "acquittal" (Hist. Patr. Antioch., p. 106). Montfaucon thinks that his written statements might be favourably interpreted, but that his oral statements must have given ground for suspicion.

The Photinians.

(Bright. Ut supra. )

"The Photinians," or followers of Marcellus's disciple Photinus, bishop of Sirmium, the ready-witted and pertinacious disputant whom four successive synods condemned before he could be got rid of, by State power, in a.d. 351. (See St. Athanasius's Historical Writings, Introd. p. lxxxix.) In his representation of the "Marcellian" theology, he laid special stress on its Christological position-that Jesus, on whom the Logos rested with exceptional fulness, was a mere man. See Athanasius, De Synodis, 26, 27, for two creeds in which Photinianism is censured; also Soc. H. E. ii., 18, 29, 30; vii., 39. There is an obvious affinity between it and the "Samosatene" or Paulionist theory.

The bishops are not to go beyond their dioceses to churches lying outside of their bounds, nor bring confusion on the churches; but let the Bishop of Alexandria, according to the canons, alone administer the affairs of Egypt; and let the bishops of the East manage the East alone, the privileges of the Church in Antioch, which are mentioned in the canons of Nice, being preserved; and let the bishops of the Asian Diocese administer the Asian affairs only; and the Pontic bishops only Pontic matters; and the Thracian bishops only Thracian affairs. And let not bishops go beyond their dioceses for ordination or any other ecclesiastical ministrations, unless they be invited. And the aforesaid canon concerning dioceses being observed, it is evident that the synod of every province will administer the affairs of that particular province as was decreed at Nice. But the Churches of God in heathen nations must be governed according to the custom which has prevailed from the times of the Fathers.


Ancient Epitome of Canon II.

No traveller shall introduce confusion into the Churches either by ordaining or by enthroning. Nevertheless in Churches which are among the heathen the tradition of the Fathers shall be preserved.

In the above Ancient Epitome it will be noticed that not only is ordination mentioned but also the "inthronization" of bishops. Few ceremonies are of greater antiquity in the Christian Church than the solemn placing of the newly chosen bishop in the episcopal chair of his diocese. It is mentioned in the Apostolical Constitutions, and in the Greek Pontificals. Also in the Arabic version of the Nicene Canons. (No. lxxi.). A sermon was usually delivered by the newly consecrated bishop, called the "sermo enthronisticus." He also sent to neighbouring bishops sullabai\ e0nqronistikai;, and the fees the new bishops paid were called ta\ e0nqronistika;.


(Note on Socrates, H.E., v., 8).

This rule seems to have been made chiefly on account of Meletius. Bishop of Antioch, Gregory Nazianzen, and Peter of Alexandria. For Meletius leaving the Eastern diocese had come to Constantinople to ordain Gregory bishop there. And Gregory having abandoned the bishoprick of Sasima, which was in the Pontic diocese, had removed to Constantinople. While Peter of Alexandria had sent to Constantinople seven Egyptian bishops to ordain Maximus the Cynic. For the purpose therefore of repressing these [disorders], the fathers of the Synod of Constantinople made this canon.


Take notice from the present canon that formerly all the Metropolitans of provinces were themselves the heads of their own provinces, and were ordained by their own synods. But all this was changed by Canon xxviij of the Synod of Chalcedon, which directs that the Metropolitans of the dioceses of Pontus, Asia, and Thrace, and certain others which are mentioned in this Canon should be ordained by the Patriarch of Constantinople and should be subject to him. But if you find other churches which are autocephalous as the Church of Bulgaria, of Cyprus, of Iberia, you need not be astonished. For the Emperor Justinian gave this honour to the Archbishop of Bulgaria. ... The third Synod gave this honour to the Archbishop of Cyprus, and by the law of the same synod (Canon viii.), and by the Sixth Synod in its xxxixth Canon, the judgment of the Synod of Antioch is annulled and this honour granted to the bishop of Iberia.


(Mem. ix., 489).

The Council seems likewise to reject, whether designedly or inadvertently, what had been ordained by the Council of Sardica in favour of Rome. But as assuredly it did not affect to prevent either Ecumenical Councils, or even general Councils of the East, from judging of matters brought before them, so I do not know if one may conclude absolutely that they intended to forbid appeals to Rome. It regulates proceedings between Dioceses, but not what might concern superior tribunals.


(Hist. Eccl. in loc.).

This Canon, which gives to the councils of particular places full authority in Ecclesiastical matters, seems to take away the power of appealing to the Pope granted by the Council of Sardica, and to restore the ancient right.


An exception to the rule against interference in other patriarchates was made with regard to those Churches newly rounded amongst barbarous nations (not belonging to the Roman Empire), as these were of courseobliged to receive their first bishops fromstrange patriarchates, and remained after wards too few in number to form patriarchates of their own and were therefore governed as belonging to other patriarchates, as, for instance, Abyssinia by the patriarchate of Alexandria.

The Bishop of Constantinople, however, shall have the prerogative of honour after the Bishop of Rome; because Constantinople is New Rome.


Ancient Epitome of Canon III.

The bishop of Constantinople is to be honoured next after the bishop of Rome.

It should be remembered that the change effected by this canon did not affect Rome directly in any way, but did seriously affect Alexandria and Antioch, which till then had ranked next after the see of Rome. When the pope refused to acknowledge the authority of this canon, he was in reality defending the principle laid down in the canon of Nice, that in such matters the ancient customs should continue. Even the last clause, it would seem, could give no offence to the most sensitive on the papal claims, for it implies a wonderful power in the rank of Old Rome, if a see is to rank next to it because it happens to be "New Rome." Of course these remarksonly refer to the wording of the canon whichis carefully guarded; the intention doubtlesswas to exalt the see of Constantinople, the chief see of the East, to a position of as near equality as possible with the chief see of the West.


In this place the Council takes action concerning Constantinople, to which it decrees the prerogative of honour, the priority, and the glory after the Bishop of Rome as being New Rome and the Queen of cities. Some indeed wish to understand the preposition meta; here of time and not of inferiority of grade. And they strive to confirm this interpretation by a consideration of the XXVIII canon of Chalcedon, urging that if Constantinople is to enjoy equal honours, the preposition "after" cannot signify subjection. But on the other hand the hundred and thirtieth novel of Justinian,1 Book V of the Imperial Constitutions, title three, understands the canon otherwise. For, it says, "we decree that the most holy Pope of Old Rome, according to the decrees of the holy synods is the first of all priests, and that the most blessed bishop of Constantinople and of New Rome, should have the second place after the Apostolic Throne of the Elder Rome, and should be superior in honour to all others." From this therefore it is abundantly evident that "after" denotes subjection (u9pobibasmo\n) and diminution. And otherwise it would be impossible to guard this equality of honour in each see. For in reciting their names, or assigning them seats when they are to sit together, or arranging the order of their signatures to documents, one must come before the other. Whoever therefore shall explain this particle meta; as only referring to time, and does not admit that it signifies an inferior grade of dignity, does violence to the passage and draws from it a meaning neither true nor good. Moreover in Canon xxxvj of the Council in Trullo, meta; manifestly denotes subjection, assigning to Constantinople the second place after the throne of Old Rome; and then adds, after this Alexandria, then Antioch, and last of all shall be placed Jerusalem.


If we enquire the reason why this Council tried to change the order of rank of the great Sees, which had been established in the sixth Nicene canon, we must first take into consideration that, since the elevation of Constantinople to the Imperial residence, as New Rome, the bishops as well as the Emperors naturally wished to see the new imperial residence, New Rome, placed immediately after Old Rome in ecclesiastical rank also; the rather, as with the Greeks it was the rule for the ecclesiastical rank of a See to follow the civil rank of the city. The Synod of Antioch in 341, in its ninth canon, had plainly declared this, and subsequently the fourth General Council, in its seventeenth canon, spoke in the same sense. But how these principles were protested against on the side of Rome, we shall see further on in the history of the fourth General Council. For the present, it may suffice to add that the aversion to Alexandria which, by favouring Maximus, had exercised such a disturbing influence on Church affairs in Constantinople, may well have helped to effect the elevation of the See of Constantinople over that of Alexandria. Moreover, for many centuries Rome did not recognize this change of the old ecclesiastical order. In the sixteenth session of the fourth General Council, the Papal Legate, Lucentius, expressly declared this. In like manner the Popes Leo the Great and Gregory the Great pronounced against it; and though even Gratian adopted this canon in his collection the Roman critics added the following note: Canon hic ex iis est, quos Apostolica Romana Sedes a principio et longo post tempore non recepit. It was only when, after the conquest of Constantinople by the Latins, a Latin patriarchate was founded there in 1204, that Pope Innocent III, and the twelfth General Council, in 1215, allowed this patriarch the first rank after the Roman; and the same recognition was expressly awarded to the Greek Patriarch at the Florentine Union in 1439.T. W. Allies.2

Remarkable enough it is that when, in the Council of Chalcedon, appeal was made to this third Canon, the Pope St. Leo declared that it had never been notified to Rome. As in the mean time it had taken effect throughout the whole East, as in this very council Nectarius, as soon as he is elected, presides instead of Timothy of Alexandria, it puts in a strong point of view the real self-government of the Eastern Church at this time; for the giving the Bishop of Constantinople precedence over Alexandria and Antioch was a proceeding which affected the whole Church, and so far altered its original order-one in which certainly the West might claim to have a voice. Tillemont goes on: "It would be very difficult to justify St. Leo, if he meant that the Roman Church had never known that the Bishop of Constantinople took the second place in the Church, and the first in the East, since his legates, whose conduct he entirely approves, had just themselves authorized it asa thing beyond dispute, and Eusebius of Dorylaeum maintained that St. Leo himself hadproved it." The simple fact is, that, exceedingly unwilling as the Bishops of Rome were to sanction it, from this time, 381, to say the least, the Bishop of Constantinople appears uniformly as first bishop of the East.

Cardinal Baronius in his Annals (a.d. 381, n. 35, 36) has disputed the genuineness of this Canon! As already mentioned it is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Decretum, Pars I., Dist. XXII, c. iij. The note added to this in Gratian reads as follows:Note IN Gratian's "Decretum."

This canon is of the number of those which the Apostolic See of Rome did not at first nor for long years afterwards receive. This is evident from Epistle LI. (or LIII.) of Pope Leo I. to Anatolius of Constantinople and from several other of his letters. The same thing also is shewn by two letters of Leo IX.'s, the one against the presumptuous acts of Michael and Leo (cap. 28) and the other addressed to the same Michael. But still more clearly is this seen from the letter of Blessed Gregory (xxxj., Lib. VI.) to Eulogius of Alexandria and Anastasius of Antioch, and from the letter of Nicholas I. to the Emperor Michel which begins "Proposueramus." However, the bishops of Constantinople, sustained by the authority of the Emperors, usurped to themselves the second place among the patriarchs, and this at length wasgranted to them for the sake of peace and tranquillity, as Pope Innocent III. declares (in cap. antiqua de privileg.).3

This canon Dionysius Exiguus appends to Canon 2, and dropping 5, 6, and 7 he has but three canons of this Synod.

Concerning Maximus the Cynic and the disorder which has happened in Constantinople on his account, it is decreed that Maximus never was and is not now a Bishop; that those who have been ordained by him are in no order whatever of the clergy; since all which has been done concerning him or by him, is declared to be invalid.


Ancient Epitome of Canon IV.

Let Maximus the Cynic be cast out from among the bishops, and anyone who was inscribed by him on the clergy list shall be held as profane.

Edmund Venables.

(Smith and Wace, Diet. Christ. Biog.) Maximus the Cynic; the intrusive bishop of Constantinople, a.d. 380. Ecclesiastical history hardly presents a more extraordinary career than that of this man, who, after a most disreputable youth, more than once brought to justice for his misdeeds, and bearing the scars of his punishments, by sheer impudence, clever flattery, and adroit manage-merit of opportunities, contrived to gain the confidence successively of no less men than Peter of Alexandria, Gregory Nazianzen, and Ambrose, and to install himself in one of the first sees of the church, from which he was with difficulty dislodged by a decree of an ecumenical council. His history also illustrates the jealousy felt by the churches of Alexandria and Rome towards their young and vigorous rival for patriarchal honours, the church of Constantinople; as well as their claim to interfere with her government, and to impose prelates upon her according to their pleasure. Alexandria, as the chief see of the Eastern world, from the first asserted a jurisdiction which she has never formally relinquished over the see of Constantinople, more particularly in a vacancy in the episcopate (Neale, Pair. of Alexandria, i, 206). The conduct of Peter, the successor of Athanasius, first in instituting Gregory Nazianzen bishop of Constantinople by his letters and sending a formal recognition of his appointment and then in substituting Maximus, as has been remarked by Milman (History of Christianity, iii., 115, note) and Ullman (Greg. Naz., p. 203 [Cox's translation]), furnish unmistakable indications of the desire to erect an Oriental papacy, by establishing the primacy of Alexandria over Constantinople and so over the East, which was still further illustrated a few years later by the high-handed behaviour of Theophilus towards Chrysostom.

Maximus was a native of Alexandria of low parentage. He boasted that his family had produced martyrs. He got instructed in the rudiments of the Christian faith and received baptism, but strangely enough sought to combine the Christian profession with Cynic philosophy.

When he presented himself at the Eastern capital he wore the white robe of a Cynic, and carried a philosopher's staff, his head being laden with a huge crop of crisp curling hair,dyed a golden yellow, and swinging over hisshoulders in long ringlets. He represented himself as a confessor for the Nicene faith, and his banishment to the Oasis as a sufferingfor the truth (Orat. xxiii., p. 419). Beforelong he completely gained the ear and heart of Gregory, who admitted him to the closest companionship. Maximus proclaimed the most unbounded admiration for Gregory's discourses, which he praised in private, and, according to the custom of the age, applauded in public. His zeal against heretics was most fierce, and his denunciation of them uncompromising. The simple-hearted Gregory became the complete dupe of Maximus.

All this time Maximus was secretly maturing a plot for ousting his unsuspicious patron from his throne. He gained the ear and the confidence of Peter of Alexandria, and induced him to favour his ambitious views. Gregory, he asserted, had never been formally enthroned bishop of Constantinople; his translation thither was a violation of the canons of the church; rustic in manners, he had proved himself quite unfitted for the place. Constantinople was getting weary of him. It was time the patriarch of the Eastern world should exercise his prerogative and give New Rome a more suitable bishop. The old man was imposed on as Gregory had been, and lent himself to Maximus's projects. Maximus found a ready tool in a presbyter of Constantinople, envious of Gregory's talents and popularity (de Vit., p. 13). Others were gained by bribes. Seven unscrupulous sailor fellows were despatched from Alexandria to mix with the people, and watch for a favourable opportunity for carrying out the plot. When all was ripe they were followed by a bevy of bishops, with secret instructions from the patriarch to consecrate Maximus.

The conspirators chose the night for the accomplishment of their enterprise. Gregory they knew was confined by illness. They forced their way into the cathedral, and commenced the rite of ordination. By the time they had set the Cynic on the archiepiscopal throne, and had just begun shearing away his long curls, they were surprised by the dawn. The news quickly spread, and everybody rushed to the church. The magistrates appeared on the scene with their officers; Maximus and his consecrators were driven from the sacred precincts, and in the house or shopof a flute-player the tonsure was completed. Maximums repaired to Thessalonica to lay his cause before Theodosius. He met with a cold reception from the emperor, who committed the matter to Ascholius, the much respected bishop of that city, charging him to refer it to pope Damasus. We have two letters of Damasus's on this subject. In the first, addressed to Ascholius and the Mace- donian bishops, he vehemently condemns the "ardor animi et feeds presumptio" which had led certain persons coming from Egypt, in violation of the rule of ecclesiastical discipline, to have proposed to consecrate a restless man, an alien from the Christian profession, not worthy to be called a Christian, who wore an idolatrous garb ("habitus idoli") and the long hair which St. Paul said was a shame to a man, and remarks on the fact thatbeing expelled from the church they were compelled to complete the ordination "intra parities alienos." In the second letter addressed to Ascholius individually (Ep. vi.) he repeats his condemnation of the ordination of the long-haired Maximus ("comatum") and asks him to take special care that a Catholic bishop may be ordained (Migne, Patrolog., xiii., pp. 366-369; Ep. 5; 5, 6).

Maximus returned to Alexandria, and demanded that Peter should assist him in re-establishing himself at Constantinople. But Peter had discovered the man's true character, and received him as coldly as Theodosius had done. Determined to carry his point he presented himself to the patriarch at the head of a disorderly mob, with the threat that if he did not help him to gain the throne of Constantinople he would have that of Alexandria. Peter appealed to the prefect, by whom Maximus was driven out of Egypt. The death of Peter and the accession of Timotheus are placed Feb. 14, 380. The events described must therefore have occurred in 379. When the second ecumenical council met at Con- stantinople in 381, the question of Maximus's claim to the see of Constantinople came up for consideration. His pretensions were unanimously rejected.


(Notes on the Canons, in loc.)

Maximus, however, having been expelled from Egypt, made his way into Northern Italy, presented to Gratian at Milan a largework which he had written against the Arians (as to which Gregory sarcastically remarks-"Saul a prophet, Maximus an author!" Carm. adv. Mar., 21), and deceived St. Ambrose andhis suffragans by showing the record of hisconsecration, with letters which Peter had once written in his behalf. To these prelates of the "Italic diocese" the appeal of Maximus seemed like the appeal of Athanasius, and more recently of Peter himself, to the sympathy of the church of Rome; and they re quested Theodosius to let the case be heard before a really General Council (Mansi, iii.631). Nothing further came of it; perhaps, says Tillemont, those who thus wrote in favour of Maximus "reconnurent bientot quel il etait" (ix., 502): so that when a Council did meet at Rome towards the end of 382, no steps were taken in his behalf.

(Probably adopted at a Council held in Constantinople the next year, 382. Vide. Introduction on the number of the Canons.)

IN regard to the tome of the Western [Bishops], we receive those in Antioch also who confess the unity of the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.


Ancient Epitome of Canon V.

The Tome of the Westerns which recognizes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as consubstantial is highly acceptable.

Beveridge and Van Espen translate this canon differently, thus, "With regard to the tome of the Westerns, we agree with those in Antioch [i.e. the Synod of 378] who (accepted it and) acknowledged the unity of theGodhead of the Father etc," In oppositionto this translation Hefele urges that a0pode/xesqai in ecclesiastical language usually refers to receiving persons and recognizing them, not opinions or doctrines.


This canon probably does not belong to the second General Council, but to the Synod held in the following year at Constantinople consisting of nearly the same bishops.

It is certain that by the "Tome of the Westerns" a dogmatic work of the Western bishops is to be understood, and the only question is which Tome of the Westerns is here meant. Several-for instance, the Greek commentators, Balsamon and Zonaras, and the spokesman of the Latins at the Synod of Florence in 1439 (Archbishop Andrew of Rhodes)-understood by it the decrees of the Synod of Sardica; but it seems to me that this canon undoubtedly indicates that theTome of the Westerns also mentioned the condition of the Antiochian Church, and the division into two parties of the orthodox of that place-the Meletian schism. Now, as this was not mentioned, nay, could not have been, at the Synod of Sardica -for this schism at Antioch only broke out seventeen years later-some other document of the Latins must certainly be meant. But we know that Pope Damasus, and the synod assembled by him in 369, addressed a Tome to the Orientals, of which fragments are still preserved, and that nine years later, in 379, a great synod at Antioch of one hundred and forty-six orthodox Oriental bishops, under Meletius, accepted and signed this Tome, and at the same time sought to put a stop to the Meletian schism. Soon afterwards, in 380, Pope Damasus and his fourth Roman Synod again sent a treatise on the faith, of which we still possess a portion, containing anathemas, to the Orientals, especially to Bishop Paul of Antioch, head of the Eustathians of that city. Under these circumstances, we are justified in referring the expression "the tome of the Westerns" either to the Roman treatise of 369 or to that of 380, and I am disposed to give the preference to the former, for the following reasons:-

(1.) As has been already observed, this canon belongs to the Synod held at Constantinople in 382.

(2.) We still possess in Theodoret a Synodal Letter to the Latins from this later Synod.

(3.) The canon in question, as proceeding from the same source, is, of course to a certain extent, connected with this letter.

(4.) In this Synodal Letter, the Eastern bishops, in order to convince the Latins of their orthodoxy, appeal to two documents, the one a "tome" of an Antiochian Synod, and the other a "tome" of the Ecumenical Council held at Constantinople in 381.

(5.) By the Antiochian Synod here mentioned, I understand the great synod of 378, and, as a necessary consequence, believe the "tome" there produced to be none other than the Roman Tome of 369, which was then accepted at Antioch.

(6.) It is quite certain that the Synod of Antioch sent a copy of this Tome, with the declaration of its acceptance and the signatures of the members, back to Rome, as a supplement to its Synodal Letter; and hence Lucas Holstenius was still able to find fragments of it in Rome.

(7.) The Synod of Constantinople of 382 might well call this Tome, sent back to Rome with the acceptance and signatures of the Easterns, a "Tome established at Antioch," although it was really drawn up at Rome.

(8.) If, however, the Synod of Constantinople in its Synodal Letter speaks of this Tome, we are justified in supposing that the one mentioned in its canon is the same.

(9.) That which still remains of the Roman Tome of 369, treats expressly of the oneness of the Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and such were the contents of the Tome according to this canon.

(10.) It is true that the fragments still preserved of this Tome contain no passage directly referring to the Antiochian schism; but, in the first place, very little remains of it, and there is the more reason to suppose that the Meletian schism was spoken of in the portion which has been lost, as it was the same Antiochian Synod that accepted the Tome which urged the putting an end to that schism. It is still more to the purpose that the Italian bishops, in their letter to the Easterns in 381, expressly say that they had already long before (dudum) written to the Orientals in order to put an end to the division between the orthodox at Antioch. By this "dudum" I conclude that they refer to the Roman Tome of 369; and if the Westerns in their letter to the Easterns in 381 pointed to this Tome, it was natural that the Synod ofConstantinople of 382 should also have re ferred to it, for it was that very letter of the Latins which occasioned and called the synod into being.

Lastly, for the full understanding of this canon, it is necessary to observe that the Latins, in their letter just mentioned of 381, say that "they had already in their earlier missive (i.e. as we suppose, in the Tome of 369) spoken to the effect that both parties at Antioch, one as much as the other, were orthodox." Agreeing with this remark of the Westerns, repeated in their letter of 381, the Easterns in this canon say, "We also recognise all Antiochians as orthodox who acknowledge the oneness of the Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

(Probably adopted at a Council held in Constantinople the next year, 382. Vide Introduction on the number of Canons.)

Forasmuch as many wishing to confuse and overturn ecclesiastical order, do contentiously and slanderously fabricate charges against the orthodox bishops who have the administration of the Churches, intending nothing else than to stain the reputation of the priests and raise up disturbances amongst the peaceful laity; therefore it seemed right to the Holy Synod of Bishops assembled together in Constantinople, not to admit accusers without examination; and neither to allow all persons whatsoever to bring accusations against the rulers of the Church, nor, on the other hand, to exclude all. If then, any one shall bring a private complaint against the Bishop, that is, one relating to his own affairs, as, for example, that he has been defrauded, or otherwise unjustly treated by him, in such accusations no examination shall be made, either of the person or of the religion of the accuser; for it is by all means necessary that the conscience of the Bishop should be free, and that he who says he has been wronged should meet with righteous judgment, of whatever religion he may be. But if the charge alleged against the Bishop be that of some ecclesiastical offence, then it is necessary to examine carefully the persons of the accusers, so that, in the first place, heretics may not be suffered to bring accusations touching ecclesiastical matters against orthodox bishops. And by heretics we mean both those who were aforetime cast out and those whom we ourselves have since anathematized, and also those professing to hold the true faith who have separated from our canonical bishops, and set up conventicles in opposition [to them]. Moreover, if there be any who have been condemned for faults and cast out of the Church, or excommunicated, whether of the clergy or the laity, neither shall it be lawful for these to bring an accusation against the bishop, until they have cleared away the charge against themselves. In like manner, persons who are under previous accusations are not to be permitted to bring charges against a bishop or any other clergyman, until they shall have proved their own innocence of the accusation brought against them. But if any, being neither heretics, nor excommunicate, nor condemned, nor under previous accusation for alleged faults, should declare that they have any ecclesiastical charge against the bishop, the Holy Synod bids them first lay their charges before all the Bishops of the Province, and before them prove the accusations, whatsoever they may be, which they have brought against the bishop. And if the comprovincials should be unable rightly to settle the charges brought against the bishop, then the parties must betake themselves to a greater synod of the bishops of that diocese called together for this purpose; and they shall not produce their allegations before they have promised in writing to undergo an equal penalty to be exacted from themselves, if, in the course of the examination, they shall be proved to have slandered the accused bishop. And if anyone, despising what has been decreed concerning these things, shall presume to annoy the ears of the Emperor, or the courts of temporal judges, or, to the dishonour of all the Bishops of his Province, shall trouble an Ecumenical Synod, such an one shall by no means be admitted as an accuser; forasmuch as he has east contempt upon the Canons, and brought reproach upon the order of the Church.


Ancient Epltome of Canon VI.

Even one that is of ill repute, if he have suffered any injury, let him bring a charge against the bishop. If however it be a crime of ecclesiastical matters let him not speak. Nor shall another condemned before, speak. Let not one excommunicated, or cast forth, or charged with any crimes speak, until he is cleared of them. But those who should bring the charge are the orthodox, who are communicants, uncondemned, unaccused. Let the case be heard by the provincials. If however they are not able to decide the case, let them have recourse to a greater synod and let them not be heard, without a written declaration of liability to the same sufferings [i.e. of their readiness to be tried by the lex talionis.] But should anyone contrary to the provisions appeal to the Emperor and trouble him, let such be cast forth.

The phrase "who have the administration of the Churches," Hatch in his Bampton Lectures (Lect. I., p. 41) erroneously supposes to refer only to the administration of the Church's alms. But this, as Dr. Bright well points out (" Notes on the Canons," in loc.) cannot be the meaning of oi0konamei=n when used absolutely as in this canon. He says, "When a merely `economic' function is intended, the context shows it, as in Chalcedon, Canon xxvj." He also points out that in Canon ij., and in Eusebius (H. E. iv., 4), and when St. Basil wishes his brother to oi0konomei=n a church suited to his temperament (Epist. xcviij., 2) the meaning of the word is evidently spiritual stewardship.


By "those who were cast out of the Church" are to be understood those who were altogether cut off from the Church; butby those who were "excommunicated" theholy fathers intend all those, whether clericsor laymen, who are deprived of communion for a set time.

Van Espen.

It is evident from the context of this canon that "Diocese" here does not signify the district or territory assigned to any one bishop, as we to-day use the word; but for a district, which not only contained many episcopal districts, as today do ecclesiastical provinces, but which contained also many provinces, and this was the meaning of the word at the time of this Council's session.


We call Adrianople, for example, or Philopopolis with the bishops of each a "Province," but the whole of Thrace or Macedonia we call a "Diocese." When these crimes were brought forward to be corrected, for the judging of which the provincial bishops were by no means sufficient, then the Canon orders the bishops of the diocese to assemble, and determine the charges preferred against the bishop.

Van Espen.

Both the Canon and the Civil Law require the accusers to submit themselves to the law of retaliation (lex talionis). Vide Gratian, Pt. II., Causa II., Quaest. III., 2 and 3, where we read from the decree of Pope Hadrian; "Whoever shall not prove what he advances, shall himself suffer the penalty due the crime he charged." And under the name of Damasus, "The calumniator, if he fail in proving his accusation, shall receive his tale." The Civil Law is in L. x., Cod. de Calumniatoribus, and reads, "Whoso charges a crime, shall not have licence to lie with impunity, since justice requires that calumniators shall endure the punishment due the crime which they failed to prove."

The Council wishes that all accusations of bishops for ecclesiastical offences shall be kept out of the secular courts, and shall be heard by synods of bishops, in the manner and form here prescribed, which is in accordance with the Constitution which under the names of Valens, Gratian, and Valentinian, the Emperors, is referred to in law xxiij. of the Code of Theodosius, De Episcopis et Clericis.

Whatever may be said of the meeting of bishops at which this canon was enacted, this is clear, no mention was made of the Roman Pontiff, nor of the Council of Sardica, as Fleury notes in his Histoire Ecclesiastique, Lib. xviij., n. 8. From this it is evident either that at that time the Orientals did not admit, especially for bishops, appeals to the Roman Pontiff; nor did they accept the authority of the Synod of Sardica, in so far as it permitted that the sentence given in a provincial synod, should be reopened by the neighbouring bishops together with the bishops of the province, and if it seemed good, that the cause might be referred to Rome.

Warning to the Reader Touching Canon VII.

(Beveridge, Synodicon, Tom. II., in loc.)

This canon, I confess, is contained in all the editions of the Commentaries of Balsamon and Zonaras. It is cited also by Photius in Nomocanon, Tit. xii. ch. xiv., besides it is extant in a contracted form in the Epitome of Alexius Aristenus. But it is wanting in all the Latin versions of the Canons, in the ancient translations of Dionys. Exig., Isidore Mercator, etc.; also in the Epitome of Sym. Logothet., and the Arabic paraphrase of Josephus Aegyp., and what is particularly to be observed, in the collection and nomocanon of John of Antioch; and this not through want of attention on his part, as is clear from this namely, that in the order of the Canons as given by him he attributes six Canons only to this second General Council, saying "... of the Fathers who assembled at Constantinople, by whom six Canons were set forth," so that it is clear the present was not reckoned among the canons of thiscouncil in those days. Nay, the whole composition of this canon clearly indicates that it is to be ascribed, neither to this present council, nor to any other (unless perhaps to that of Trullo, of which we shall speak afterwards). For nothing is appointed in it, nothing confirmed, but a certain ancient custom of receiving converted heretics, is here merely recited. (Hefele, History of the Councils, Vol. II., p. 368.)

As we possess a letter from the Church at Constantinople in the middle of the fifth century to Bishop Martyrius of Antioch, in which the same subject is referred to in a precisely similar way, Beveridge is probably right in conjecturing that the canon was only an extract from this letter to Martyrius; therefore in no way a decree of the second General Council, nor even of the Synod of 382, but at least eighty years later than the latter. This canon, with an addition, was afterwards adopted by the Quinisext Synod as its ninety-fifth, without, however, giving its origin.

Those who from heresy turn to orthodoxy, and to the portion of those who are being saved, we receive according to the following method and custom: Arians, and Macedonians, and Sabbatians, and Novatians, who call themselves Cathari or Aristori, and Quarto-decimans or Tetradites, and Apollinarians, we receive, upon their giving a written renunciation [of their errors] and anathematize every heresy which is not in accordance with the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of God. Thereupon, they are first sealed or anointed with the holy oil upon the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth, and ears; and when we seal them, we say, "The Seal of the gift of the Holy Ghost." But Eunomians, who are baptized with only one immersion, and Montanists, who are here called Phrygians, and Sabellians, who teach the identity of Father and Son, and do sundry other mischievous things, and [the partisans of] all other heresies-for there are many such here, particularly among those who come from the country of the Galatians:-all these, when they desire to turn to orthodoxy, we receive as heathen. On the first day we make them Christians; on the second, catechumens; on the third, we exorcise them by breathing thrice in their face and ears; and thus we instruct them and oblige them to spend some time in the Church, and to hear the Scriptures; and then we baptize them.


Ancient Epitome of Canon VII.


Quarto-decimans or Tetradites, Arians, Macedonians, Sabbatians, and Apollinarians ought to be received with their books and anointed in all their organs of sense.

Ancient Epitome of Canon VIII.

Eunomians baptized with one immersion, Sabellians, and Phrygians are to be received as heathen.Aristemus (in Can. vij.).

Those givingup their books and execrating every heresy are received with only anointing with chrism of the eyes, the nostrils, theears, the mouth, and the brow; and signing them with the words, "The Seal of the gift of the Holy Ghost."

For the "Cathari," see Notes on Canon viii. of I. Nice.


Sabbatians. Sabbatius was a presbyter who adopted the sentiments of Novatius, but as it is clear from the histories of Socrates and Sozomen, that he did not do so till at least eight years after the celebration of this council, it is of course equally clear that this canon could not have been framed by this council.

Aristeri. This is probably a false reading for Aristi, i.e. the best. In the letter above mentioned the expression is Cathari and Catheroteri, i.e. the pure, and the more pure.

The Quarto-decimans, or Tetradites, were those persons who persisted in observing the Easter festival with the Jews, on the fourteenth day of the first month, whatever day of the week it happened to be.

Montanists. One of the older sects, so called from Montanus, who embraced Christianity in the second century. He professed to be inspired in a peculiar way by the Holy Ghost, and to prophesy. He was supportedin his errors by two women, Priscilla and Maximilla, who also pretended to prophesy. His heresy infected many persons, amongst others Tertullian, but being condemned by the Church. his followers formed a sect remarkable for extreme austerity. But although they asserted that the Holy Ghost had inspired Montanus to introduce a system of greater perfection than the Church had before known, and condemned those who would not join them as carnal, they did not at first innovate in any of the articles of the Creed. This sect lasted a long time, and spread much in Phrygia and the neighbouring districts, whence they were called Phryges and Cata-phryges, and latterly adopted the errors of Sabellius respecting the Trinity.

The other heresies mentioned in this canonhave been treated of in the excursus to Canon j.

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Document

Click Your Choice