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Taken from the Works of St. Athanasius, vol. i. part i. p. 397,
seqq., edit. Benedic. Paris, 1698.|
To our beloved and most reverend fellow-ministers of the
Catholic Church in every place, Alexander sends greeting in the
1. Since the body of the Catholic Church is
and it is
commanded in Holy Scripture that we should keep the bond of unanimity
and peace, it follows that we should write and signify to one another
the things which are done by each of us; that whether one member suffer or
rejoice we may all either suffer or rejoice with one another. In
our diocese, then, not so long ago, there have gone forth lawless men,
and adversaries of Christ, teaching men to apostatize; which thing,
with good right, one might suspect and call the precursor of
Antichrist. I indeed wished to cover the matter up in silence,
that so perhaps the evil might spend itself in the leaders of the
heresy alone, and that it might not spread to other places and defile
the ears of any of the more simple-minded. But since Eusebius,
the present bishop of Nicomedia, imagining that with him rest all
because, having left Berytus and cast
his eyes upon the church of the Nicomedians, and no punishment has been
inflicted upon him, he is set over these apostates, and has undertaken
to write everywhere, commending them, if by any means he may draw aside
some who are ignorant to this most disgraceful and Antichristian
heresy; it became necessary for me, as knowing what is written in the
law, no longer to remain silent, but to announce to you all, that you
may know both those who have become apostates, and also the wretched
words of their heresy; and if Eusebius write, not to give heed to
[Imagining. Compare Hippolytus, vol. v. pp. 156 and 158,
supra. This expression seems to have been a sort of
2. For he, desiring by their assistance to
renew that ancient wickedness of his mind, with respect to which he has
for a time been silent, pretends that he is writing in their behalf,
but he proves by his deed that he is exerting himself to do this on his
own account. Now the apostates from the Church are these:
Carpones, the other Arius, Sarmates, who were formerly priests;
Euzoius, Lucius, Julius, Menas, Helladius, and Gaius, formerly deacons;
and with them Secundus and Theonas, who were once called bishops.
And the words invented by them, and spoken contrary to the mind of
Scripture, are as follows:—
[See p. 290, note 1, supra.]|
“God was not always the Father; but there was a
time when God was not the Father. The Word of God was not always,
but was made ‘from things that are not;’ for He who is God
fashioned the non-existing from the non-existing; wherefore there was a
time when He was not. For the Son is a thing created, and a thing
made: nor is He like to the Father in substance; nor is He the
true and natural Word of the Father; nor is He His true Wisdom; but He
is one of the things fashioned and made. And He is called, by a
misapplication of the terms, the Word and Wisdom, since He is Himself
made by the proper Word of God, and by that wisdom which is in God, in
which, as God made all other things, so also did He make Him.
Wherefore, He is by His very nature changeable and mutable, equally
with other rational beings. The Word, too, is alien and separate
from the substance of God. The father also is ineffable to the
Son; for neither does the Word perfectly and accurately know the
Father, neither can He perfectly see Him. For neither does the
Son indeed know His own substance as it is. Since He for our
sakes was made, that by Him as by an instrument God might create us;
nor would He have existed had not God wished to make us. Some one
asked of them whether the Son of God could change even as the devil
changed; and they feared not to answer that He can; for since He was
made and created, He is of mutable nature.”
3. Since those about Arius speak these
things and shamelessly maintain them, we, coming together with the
Bishops of Egypt and the Libyas, nearly a hundred in number, have
anathematized them, together with their followers. But those
about Eusebius have received them, earnestly endeavouring to mix up
falsehood with truth, impiety with piety. But they will not
prevail; for the truth prevails, and there is no communion betwixt
light and darkness, no concord between Christ and Belial.2449
ever heard such things? or who, now hearing them, is not astonished,
and does not stop his ears that the pollution of these words should not
touch them? Who that hears John saying, “In the beginning
was the Word,”2450
does not condemn those who say there was a time when He was not?
Who that hears these words of the Gospel, “the only-begotten
Him were all things made,”2452
will not hate those who declare He is one
of the things made? For how can He be one of the things made by
Him? or how shall He be the only-begotten who, as they say, is reckoned
with all the rest, if indeed He is a thing made and created? And
how can He be made of things which are not, when the Father says,
“My heart belched forth a good Word;”2453
and, “From the womb, before the
morning have I begotten Thee?”2454
Or how is He unlike to the
substance of the Father, who is the perfect image and brightness of the
Father, and who says, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the
Ps. cx. 3; Heb. i.
if the Son is the Word or Wisdom and Reason of God, was there a time
when He was not? It is all one as if they said, that there was a
time when God was without reason and wisdom. How, also, can He be
changeable and mutable, who says indeed by Himself: “I am
in the Father, and the Father in Me,”2456
and, “I and My Father are
and by the
prophet, “I am the Lord, I change not?”2458
For even though one saying may
refer to the Father Himself, yet it would now be more aptly spoken of
the Word, because when He became man, He changed not; but, as says the
apostle, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and for
induced them to say, that for our sakes He was made; although Paul
says, “for whom are all things, and by whom are all
4. Now concerning their blasphemous
assertion who say that the Son does not perfectly know the Father, we
need not wonder: for having once purposed in their mind to wage
war against Christ, they impugn also these words of His, “As the
Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father.”2461
Wherefore, if the Father only in
part knoweth the Son, then it is evident that the Son doth not
perfectly know the Father. But if it be wicked thus to speak, and
if the Father perfectly knows the Son, it is plain that, even as the
Father knoweth His own Word, so also the Word knoweth His own Father,
of whom He is the Word.
5. By saying these things, and by unfolding
the divine Scriptures, we have often refuted them. But they,
chameleon-like, changing their sentiments, endeavour to claim for
themselves that saying: “When the wicked cometh, then
Before them, indeed, many heresies
existed, which, having dared more than was right, have fallen into
madness. But these by all their words have attempted to do away
with the Godhead of Christ, have made those seem righteous, since they
have come nearer to Antichrist. Wherefore they have been
excommunicated and anathematized by the Church.2463
And indeed, although we grieve at
the destruction of these men, especially that after having once learned
the doctrine of the Church, they have now gone back; yet we do not
wonder at it; for this very thing Hymenæus and Philetus
[See the signators to this decree in the subjoined fragment.]|
and before them
Judas, who, though he followed the Saviour, afterwards became a traitor
and an apostate. Moreover, concerning these very men, warnings
are not wanting to us, for the Lord foretold: “Take heed
that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in My Name, saying,
I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after
having learnt these things from the Saviour, wrote, “In the
latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing
spirits, and doctrines of devils which turn away from the
6. Since, therefore, our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ has thus Himself exhorted us, and by His apostle hath
signified such things to us; we, who have heard their impiety with our
own ears, have consistently anathematized such men, as I have already
said, and have declared them to be aliens from the Catholic Church and
faith, and we have made known the thing, beloved and most honoured
fellow-ministers, to your piety, that you should not receive any of
them, should they venture rashly to come unto you, and that you should
not trust Eusebius or any one else who writes concerning them.
For it becomes us as Christians to turn with aversion from all who
speak or think against Christ, as the adversaries of God and the
destroyers of souls, and “not even to wish them Godspeed, lest at
any time we become partakers of their evil deeds,”2467
as the blessed
John enjoins. Salute the brethren who are with you. Those
who are with me salute you.
Presbyters of Alexandria.
I, Colluthus, presbyter,2468
give my suffrage to the things which
are written, and also for the deposition of Arius, and those who are
guilty of impiety with him.
[See p. 291, note 3, supra.]|
Alexander, presbyter, in like manner.
Dioscorus, presbyter, in like manner.
Dionysius, presbyter, in like manner.
Eusebius, presbyter, in like manner.
Alexander, presbyter, in like manner.
Nilaras, presbyter, in like manner.
Arpocration, presbyter, in like manner.
Cyrus, presbyter, in like manner.
Ammonius, deacon, in like manner.
Pistus, deacon, in like manner.
Macarius, deacon, in like manner.
Gaius, deacon, in like manner.
Polybius, deacon, in like manner.
Romanus, deacon, in like manner.
Presbytery of Mareotis.
I, Apollonius, presbyter, give my suffrage to the things
which are written, and also for the deposition of Arius, and of those
who are guilty of impiety with him.
Ingenius, presbyter, in like manner.
Dionysius, presbyter, in like manner.
Sarapion, deacon, in like manner.
Justus, deacon, in like manner.
Zoilus, deacon, in like manner.
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