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History of the Christian Church, Volume III: Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity. A.D. 311-600.
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§ 39. Fanatical and Heretical Monastic Societies in The East.


Acta Concil. Gangrenensis, in Mansi, ii. 1095 sqq. Epiphan.: Haer. 70, 75 and 80. Socr.: H. E. ii. 43. Sozom.: iv. 24. Theodor.: H. E. iv. 9, 10; Fab. haer. iv. 10, 11. Comp. Neander: iii. p. 468 sqq. (ed. Torrey, ii. 238 sqq.).


Monasticism generally adhered closely to the orthodox faith of the church. The friendship between Athanasius, the father of orthodoxy, and Anthony, the father of monachism, is on this point a classical fact. But Nestorianism also, and Eutychianism, Monophysitism, Pelagianism, and other heresies, proceeded from monks, and found in monks their most vigorous advocates. And the monastic enthusiasm ran also into ascetic heresies of its own, which we must notice here.

1. The Eustathians, so named from Eustathius, bishop of Sebaste and friend of Basil, founder of monasticism in Armenia, Pontus, and Paphlagonia. This sect asserted that marriage debarred from salvation and incapacitated for the clerical office. For this and other extravagances it was condemned by a council at Gangra in Paphlagonia (between 360 and 370), and gradually died out.

2. The Audians held similar principles. Their founder, Audius, or Udo, a layman of Syria, charged the clergy of his day with immorality, especially avarice and extravagance. After much persecution, which he bore patiently, he forsook the church, with his friends, among whom were some bishops and priests, and, about 330, founded a rigid monastic sect in Scythia, which subsisted perhaps a hundred years. They were Quartodecimans in the practice of Easter, observing it on the 14th of Nisan, according to Jewish fashion. Epiphanius speaks favorably of their exemplary but severely ascetic life.

3. The Euchites or Messalians,338338   From ןילִצְלִמַ = Εὐχίται–ϊ, –ͅϊ from εὐχη–ΐ,–ͅϊ prayer. also called Enthusiasts, were roaming mendicant monks in Mesopotamia and Syria (dating from 360), who conceived the Christian life as an unintermitted prayer, despised all physical labor, the moral law, and the sacraments, and boasted themselves perfect. They taught, that every man brings an evil demon with him into the world, which can only be driven away by prayer; then the Holy Ghost comes into the soul, liberates it from all the bonds of sense, and raises it above the need of instruction and the means of grace. The gospel history they declared a mere allegory. But they concealed their pantheistic mysticism and antinomianism under external conformity to the Catholic church. When their principles, toward the end of the fourth century, became known, the persecution of both the ecclesiastical and the civil authority fell upon them. Yet they perpetuated themselves to the seventh century, and reappeared in the Euchites and Bogomiles of the middle age.



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