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  • Deposition of Arius.

    Deposition of Arius.


    Alexander’s Deposition of Arius and his companions, and Encyclical Letter on the subject.

    Alexander, being assembled with his beloved brethren, the Presbyters and Deacons of Alexandria, and the Mareotis, greets them in the Lord.

    Although you have already subscribed to the letter I addressed to Arius and his fellows, exhorting them to renounce his impiety, and to submit themselves to the sound Catholic Faith, and have shewn your right-mindedness and agreement in the doctrines of the Catholic Church: yet forasmuch as I have written also to our fellow-ministers in every place concerning Arius and his fellows, and especially since some of you, as the Presbyters Chares and Pistus352

    352 Cf. Apol. Ar. §24.

    , and the Deacons Serapion, Parammon, Zosimus, and Irenæus, have joined Arius and his fellows, and been content to suffer deposition with them, I thought it needful to assemble together you, the Clergy of the city, and to send for you the Clergy of the Mareotis, in order that you may learn what I am now writing, and may testify your agreement thereto, and give your concurrence in the deposition of Arius, Pistus, and their fellows. For it is desirable that you should be made acquainted with what I write, and that each of you should heartily embrace it, as though he had written it himself.

    A Copy.

    To his dearly beloved and most honoured fellow-ministers of the Catholic Church in every place, Alexander sends health in the Lord.

    1. As there is one body353

    353 (Eph. iv. 4.) St. Alexander in Theod. begins his Epistle to his namesake of Constantinople with some moral reflections, concerning ambition and avarice. Athan. indeed uses a similar introduction to his Ep. Æg., but it is not addressed to an individual.

    of the Catholic Church, and a command is given us in the sacred Scriptures to preserve the bond of unity and peace, it is agreeable thereto that we should write and signify to one another whatever is done by each of us individually; so that whether one member suffer or rejoice, we may either suffer or rejoice with one another. Now there are gone forth in this diocese, at this time, certain lawless354

    354 παράνομοι. vid. Hist. Ar. §71 init. 75 fin. 79.

    men, enemies of Christ, teaching an apostasy, which one may justly suspect and designate as a forerunner355

    355 πρόδρομον ᾽Αντιχρίστου. vid Orat. i. 7. Vit. Ant. 69. note on de Syn. 5.

    of Antichrist. I was desirous356

    356 καὶ ἐβουλόμην μὲν σιωπῇ….ἐπειδὴ δὲ….ἀνάγκην ἔσχον. vid. Apol. contra. Ar. §1 init, de Decr. § 2. Orat. i. 23 init. Orat. ii. init. Orat. iii. 1. ad Serap. i. 1. 16. ii. 1 init. iii. init. iv. 8 init. Letters 52. 2, 59. 3 fin. 61. 1. contra Apollin. i. 1 init.

    to pass such a matter by without notice, in the hope that perhaps the evil would spend itself among its supporters, and not extend to other places to defile357

    357 ῥυπώσῃ, and infr. ῥύπον. vid Hist. Ar. §3. §80, de Decr. §2. Ep. Æg. 11 fin. Orat. i. 10.

    the ears358

    358 ἀκοὰς, and infr. ἀκοὰς βύει. vid. Ep. Æg. §13. Orat. i. §7. Hist. Ar. §56.

    of the simple359

    359 ἀκεραίων. Apol. contr. Ar. §1. Ep. Æg. §18. Letters 59. 1, 60. 2 fin. Orat. i. 8.

    . But seeing that Eusebius, now of Nicomedia, who thinks that the government of the Church rests with him, because retribution has not come upon him for his desertion of Berytus, when he had cast an eye360

    360 ἐποφθαλμίσας also used of Eusebius Apol. contr. Ar. §6. Hist. Ar. §7.

    of desire on the Church of the Nicomedians, begins to support these apostates, and has taken upon him to write letters every where in their behalf, if by any means he may draw in certain ignorant persons to this most base and antichristian heresy; I am therefore constrained, knowing what is written in the law, no longer to hold my peace, but to make it known to you all; that you may understand who the apostates are, and the cavils361

    361 ῥημάτια. vid. de Decr. §8, 18. Orat. i. 10. de Sent. §23 init S. Dionysius also uses it. Ibid. §18.

    which their heresy has adopted, and that, should Eusebius write to you, you may pay no attention to him, for he now desires by means of these men to exhibit anew his old malevolence362

    362 κακόνοιαν. vid Hist. Ar. §75. de Decr. §1. et al.

    , which has so long been concealed, pretending to write in their favour, while in truth it clearly appears, that he does it to forward his own interests.

    2. Now those who became apostates are these, Arius, Achilles, Aeithales, Carpones, another Arius, and Sarmates, sometime Presbyters: Euzoïus, Lucius, Julius, Menas, Helladius, and Gaius, sometime Deacons: and with them Secundus and Theonas, sometime called Bishops. And the novelties they have invented and put forth contrary to the Scriptures are these following:—God was not always a Father363

    363 οὐκ ἀεὶ πατήρ. This enumeration of Arius’s tenets, and particularly the mention of the first, corresponds to de Decr. §6. Ep. Æg. §12. as being taken from the Thalia. Orat. i. §5. and far less with Alex. ap. Theod. p. 731, 2. vid. also Sent. D. §16. καταχρηστικῶς, which is found here, occurs de Decr. §6.

    , but there was a time when God was not a Father. The Word of God was not always, but originated from things that were not; for God that is, has made him that was not, of that which was not; wherefore there was a time when He was not; for the Son is a creature and a work. Neither is He like in essence to the Father; neither is He the true and natural Word of the Father; neither is He His true Wisdom; but He is one of the things made and created, and is called the Word and Wisdom by an abuse of terms, since He Himself originated by the proper Word of God, and by the Wisdom that is in God, by which God has made not only all other things but Him also. Wherefore He is by nature subject to change and variation as are all rational creatures. And the Word is foreign from the essence364

    364 οὐσίαν· οὐσία τοῦ λόγου or τοῦ υἱοῦ is a familiar expression with Athan. e.g. Orat. i. 45, ii. 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 18 init. 22, 47 init. 56 init. &c., for which Alex. in Theod. uses the word ὑπόστασις e.g. τὴν ἰδιότροπον αὐτοῦ ὑπόστασιν· τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ ἀπεριεργαστοῦ· νεωτέραν τῆς ὑποστάσεως γένεσιν· ἡ τοῦ υονογενοῦς ἀνεκδιήγητος ὑπόστασις· τὴν τοῦ λόγου υπόστασιν

    of the Father, and is alien and separated therefrom. And the Father cannot be described by the Son, for the Word does not know the Father perfectly and accurately, neither can He see Him perfectly. Moreover, the Son knows not His own essence as it really is; for He is made for us, that God might create us by Him, as by an instrument; and He would not have existed, had not God wished to create us. Accordingly, when some one asked them, whether the Word of God can possibly change as the devil changed, they were not afraid to say that He can; for being something made and created, His nature is subject to change.

    3. Now when Arius and his fellows made these assertions, and shamelessly avowed them, we being assembled with the Bishops of Egypt and Libya, nearly a hundred in number, anathematized both them and their followers. But Eusebius and his fellows admitted them to communion, being desirous to mingle falsehood with the truth, and impiety with piety. But they will not be able to do so, for the truth must prevail; neither is there any “communion of light with darkness,” nor any “concord of Christ with Belial365

    365 (2 Cor. vi. 14.) κοινωνία φωτί. This is quoted Alex. ap. Theod. H. E. i. 3. p. 738; by S. Athan. in Letter 47. It seems to have been a received text in the controversy, as the Sardican Council uses it, Apol Ar. 49, and S. Athan. seems to put it into the mouth of St. Anthony, Vit. Ant. 69.

    .” For who ever heard such assertions before366

    366 τίς γὰρ ἤκουσε. Ep. Æg. §7 init. Letter 59. §2 init. Orat. i. 8. Apol. contr. Ar. 85 init. Hist. Ar. §46 init. §73 init. §74 init. ad Serap. iv. 2 init.

    ? or who that hears them now is not astonished and does not stop his ears lest they should be defiled with such language? Who that has heard the words of John, “In the beginning was the Word367

    367 John i. 1.

    ,” will not denounce the saying of these men, that “there was a time when He was not?” Or who that has heard in the Gospel, “the Only-begotten Son,” and “by Him were all things made368

    368 John i. 3; 14.

    ,” will not detest their declaration that He is “one of the things that were made.” For how can He be one of those things which were made by Himself? or how can He be the Only-begotten, when, according to them, He is counted as one among the rest, since He is Himself a creature and a work? And how can He be “made of things that were not,” when the Father saith, “My heart hath uttered a good Word,” and “Out of the womb I have begotten Thee before the morning star369

    369 Ps. xlv. 1. and cx. 3.

    ?” Or again, how is He “unlike in substance to the Father,” seeing He is the perfect “image” and “brightness370

    370 Heb. i. 3.

    ” of the Father, and that He saith, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father371

    371 (Joh. xiv. 9, 10; x. 29.) On the concurrence of these three texts in Athan. (though other writers use them too, and Alex. ap. Theod. has two of them), vid. note on Orat. i. 34.

    ?” And if the Son is the “Word” and “Wisdom” of God, how was there “a time when He was not?” It is the same as if they should say that God was once without Word and without Wisdom372

    372 ἄλογον καὶ ἄσοφον τὸν θεόν. de Decr. §15. Orat. i. §19. Ap. Fug. 27. note, notes on Or. i. 19, de. Decr. 15, note 6.

    . And how is He “subject to change and variation,” Who says, by Himself, “I am in the Father, and the Father in Me373

    373 (Joh. xiv. 9, 10; x. 29.) On the concurrence of these three texts in Athan. (though other writers use them too, and Alex. ap. Theod. has two of them), vid. note on Orat. i. 34.

    ,” and “I and the Father are One374

    374 (Joh. xiv. 9, 10; x. 29.) On the concurrence of these three texts in Athan. (though other writers use them too, and Alex. ap. Theod. has two of them), vid. note on Orat. i. 34.

    ;” and by the Prophet, “Behold Me, for I am, and I change not375

    375 (Mal. iii. 6.) This text is thus applied by Athan. Orat. i. 30. ii. 10. In the first of these passages he uses the same apology, nearly in the same words, which is contained in the text.

    ?” For although one may refer this expression to the Father, yet it may now be more aptly spoken of the Word, viz., that though He has been made man, He has not changed; but as the Apostle has said, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” And who can have persuaded them to say, that He was made for us, whereas Paul writes, “for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things376

    376 Heb. xiii. 8; ii. 10.


    4. As to their blasphemous position that “the Son knows not the Father perfectly,” we ought not to wonder at it; for having once set themselves to fight against Christ, they contradict even His express words, since He says, “As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father377

    377 John x. 15.

    .” Now if the Father knows the Son but in part, then it is evident that the Son does not know the Father perfectly; but if it is not lawful to say this, but the Father does know the Son perfectly, then it is evident that as the Father knows His own Word, so also the Word knows His own Father Whose Word He is.

    5. By these arguments and references to the sacred Scriptures we frequently overthrew them; but they changed like chameleons378

    378 χαμαιλέοντες. vid. de Decr. §1. Hist. Ar. §79.

    , and again shifted their ground, striving to bring upon themselves that sentence, “when the wicked falleth into the depth of evils, he despiseth379

    379 Prov. xviii. 3 [cf. Orat. iii. 1, c. Gent. 8. 4, &c.]

    .” There have been many heresies before them, which, venturing further than they ought, have fallen into folly; but these men by endeavouring in all their cavils to overthrow the Divinity of the Word, have justified the other in comparison of themselves, as approaching nearer to Antichrist. Wherefore they have been excommunicated and anathematized by the Church. We grieve for their destruction, and especially because, having once been instructed in the doctrines of the Church, they have now sprung away. Yet we are not greatly surprised, for Hymenæus and Philetus380

    380 2 Tim. ii. 17.

    did the same, and before them Judas, who followed the Saviour, but afterwards became a traitor and an apostate. And concerning these same persons, we have not been left without instruction; for our Lord has forewarned us; “Take heed lest any man deceive you: for many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ, and the time draweth near, and they shall deceive many: go ye not after them381

    381 Luke xxi. 8.

    ;” while Paul, who was taught these things by our Saviour, wrote that “in the latter times some shall depart from the sound faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, which reject the truth382

    382 (1 Tim. iv. 1.) Into this text which Athan. also applies to the Arians (cf. note on Or. i. 9.), Athan. also introduces, like Alexander here, the word ὑγιανούσης, e.g. Ep. Æg. §20, Orat. i. 8 fin. de Decr. 3, Hist. Arian. §78 init. &c. It is quoted without the word by Origen contr. Cels. v. 64, but with ὑγίοῦς in Matth. t. xiv. 16. Epiphan, has ὑγιαινούσης διδασκαλίας, Hær. 78. 2. ὑγιοῦς διδ. ibid. 23. p. 1055.


    6. Since then our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has instructed us by His own mouth, and also hath signified to us by the Apostle concerning such men, we accordingly being personal witnesses of their impiety, have anathematized, as we said, all such, and declared them to be alien from the Catholic Faith and Church. And we have made this known to your piety, dearly beloved and most honoured fellow-ministers, in order that should any of them have the boldness383

    383 προπετεύσαιντο. vid. de Decr. §2.

    to come unto you, you may not receive them, nor comply with the desire of Eusebius, or any other person writing in their behalf. For it becomes us who are Christians to turn away from all who speak or think any thing against Christ, as being enemies of God, and destroyers384

    384 φθορέας τῶν ψυχῶν. but S. Alex. in Theod. uses the compound word φθοροποιός. p. 731. Other compound or recondite words (to say nothing of the construction of sentences) found in S. Alexander’s Letter in Theod., and unlike the style of the Circular under review, are such as ἡ φίλαρχος καὶ φιλάργυρος πρόθεσις· χριστεμπορίαν· φρενοβλαβοῦς· ἰδιότροπον· ὁμοστοίχοις συλλαβαῖς· θεηγόρους ἀποστόλους· & 135·ντιδιαστολήν τῆς πατρικῆς μαιεύσεως· μελαγχολικήν· φιλόθεος σαφήνεια ἀνοσιουργίας· φληνάφων μύθων. Instances of theological language in S. Alex. to which the Letter in the text contains no resemblance are ἀχώριστα πράγματα δύο· ὁ υἱ& 232·ς τὴν κατὰ πάντα ὁμοιότητα αὐτοῦ ἐκ φύσεως ἀπομαξάμενος· δι᾽ ἐσόπτρου ἀκηλιδώτου καὶ ἐμψύχου θείας εἰκόνος· μεσιτεύουσα φύσις μονογενής· τὰς τῇ ὑποστάσει δύο φύσεις

    of souls; and not even to “bid such God speed385

    385 2 John 10.

    ,” lest we become partakers of their sins, as the blessed John hath charged us. Salute the brethren that are with you. They that are with me salute you.

    Presbyters of Alexandria.

    7. I, Colluthus, Presbyter, agree with what is here written, and give my assent to the deposition of Arius and his associates in impiety.


    386 Vid. Presbyters, Apol. Ar. 73.

    , Presbyter, likewise


    387 Vid. Presbyters, Apol. Ar. 73.

    , Presbyter, likewise


    388 Vid. Presbyters, Apol. Ar. 73.

    , Presbyter, likewise

    Eusebius, Presbyter, likewise

    Alexander, Presbyter, likewise


    389 Vid. Presbyters, Apol. Ar. 73.

    , Presbyter, likewise

    Arpocration, Presbyter, likewise

    Agathus, Presbyter

    Nemesius, Presbyter


    390 Vid. Presbyters, Apol. Ar. 73.

    , Presbyter

    Silvanus, Presbyter

    Peroys, Presbyter

    Apis, Presbyter

    Proterius, Presbyter

    Paulus, Presbyter

    Cyrus, Presbyter, likewise



    391 Vid. Presbyters, ib.

    , Deacon, likewise

    Macarius, Deacon


    392 Vid. Presbyters, ib.

    , Deacon, likewise

    Athanasius, Deacon

    Eumenes, Deacon


    393 Vid. Presbyters, ib.

    , Deacon

    Olympius, Deacon


    394 Vid. Presbyters, ib.

    , Deacon


    395 Vid. Presbyters, ib.

    , Deacon

    Macarius, Deacon, likewise

    Paulus, Deacon

    Petrus, Deacon

    Ambytianus, Deacon


    396 Vid. Presbyters, ib.

    , Deacon, likewise

    Alexander, Deacon

    Dionysius, Deacon

    Agathon, Deacon

    Polybius, Deacon, likewise

    Theonas, Deacon

    Marcus, Deacon

    Comodus, Deacon


    397 Vid. Presbyters, ib.

    , Deacon

    Nilon, Deacon

    Romanus, Deacon, likewise

    Presbyters of the Mareotis.

    I, Apollonius, Presbyter, agree with what is here written, and give my assent to the deposition of Arius and his associates in impiety.


    398 Apol. Ar. 75.

    , Presbyter, likewise

    Ammonius, Presbyter


    399 Apol. Ar. 75.

    , Presbyter

    Sostras, Presbyter


    400 Apol. Ar. 75.

    , Presbyter

    Tyrannus, Presbyter

    Copres, Presbyter


    401 Apol. Ar. 75.

    , Presbyter

    Orion, Presbyter

    Serenus, Presbyter

    Didymus, Presbyter


    402 Heraclius? ib.

    , Presbyter


    403 Apol. Ar. 75.

    , Presbyter

    Agathus, Presbyter

    Achillas, Presbyter

    Paulus, Presbyter

    Thalelæus, Presbyter

    Dionysius, Presbyter, likewise



    404 Ib.

    , Deacon, likewise

    Justus, Deacon, likewise

    Didymus, Deacon


    405 Ib.

    , Deacon


    406 Ib.

    , Deacon

    Alexander, Deacon


    407 Ib.

    , Deacon

    Comon, Deacon


    408 Ib.

    , Deacon


    409 Ib.

    , Deacon

    Didymus, Deacon


    410 Ib.

    , Deacon

    Seras, Deacon


    411 Ib.

    , Deacon


    412 Ib.

    , Deacon

    Marcus, Deacon

    Theonas, Deacon

    Sarmaton, Deacon

    Carpon, Deacon

    Zoilus, Deacon, likewise>


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