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NPNF2-02. Socrates and Sozomenus Ecclesiastical Histories
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Chapter XVIII.—Letter from the Council at Ariminum to the Emperor Constantius.

The Synod selected twenty bishops,13291329    The emperor had requested ten; cf. also ii. 23. and sent them on an embassy to the emperor, with the following letter, which has been translated from Latin into Greek:—13301330    Athan. de Synodis, c. 10; Hil. Fragm. viii., Latin form; Soc. ii. 37; Theod. ii. 19.

“We believe that it is by the command of God, as well as by the arrangement of your piety, that we have been led from all the cities of the West, to assemble at Ariminum, for the purpose of declaring the faith of the Catholic Church, and of detecting those who have set forth heresies in opposition to it. After a protracted investigation, we have come to the conclusion that it is best to preserve that faith which has been continuous from antiquity, and which was preached by the prophets, the evangelists, the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Guardian of your empire, and Protector of your strength, by holding on thereto and guarding it to the end. It would have been absurd, as well as illegal, to have introduced any change in the doctrines which were so rightly and so justly propounded by the bishops at Nicæa, with the concurrence of the most illustrious Constantine, the emperor and your father, whose teaching and thought has gone forth and been preached in the universal hearing and reflection of men; and it is the antagonist and destroyer of the Arian heresy; through whose agency not only that deflection from the faith, but all others have been destroyed. There is great danger in adding to, or in taking away from, these doctrines; nor can the slightest alteration be made in any one of them, without giving an opportunity to the adversaries to do what they list. Ursacius and Valens, after having been suspected of participating in and advising about the Arian doctrine, were cut off from communion with us. In the hope of being restored to communion, they confessed their error, and obtained forgiveness, as their own writings testify, through which they were spared and received a pardon from the charges. The occasion on which the edict of forgiveness was conceded, was at the council of Milan, when the presbyters of the Roman church were also present.

“Since we know that the formulary of the faith set forth at Nicæa was compiled with the greatest care and accuracy, in the presence of Constantine, of worthy memory, who maintained it throughout his life, and at his baptism, and when he departed to enjoy the merited peace of heaven, we judge that it would be absurd to attempt any alteration in it, and to overlook so many holy confessors and martyrs, and the writers and authors of this dogma, who have bestowed much thought upon it, and have perpetuated the ancient decree of the Catholic Church. God has transmitted the knowledge of their faith to the time in which you live, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom you reign and rule the world. Again have these wretched men, who are lamentable, to our way of thinking, announced themselves as heralds of an impious view with unlawful rashness, and have attempted to overturn the entire system of truth. For according to your injunction, the Synod was convened, and these men laid bare the view of their own deceit; for they attempted an innovation which they introduced with knavery and disturbance, and they found some companions whom they captured for this nefarious transaction; viz. Germanius, Auxentius, and Caius, who caused contention and discord. The teaching of these men, although it was uniform, exceeded the entire range of blasphemies. As they perceived that they were after all not of the same heresy, and that they did not think alike in any of the points of their evil suggestions, they went over to our symbol, so that it might appear as some other document. The time was indeed brief, but it was sufficient to refute their opinions. In order that the affairs of the Church might not be wrecked by them and that the disturbance and tumult which tossed everything to and fro might be restrained, it appeared the safe thing to preserve the ancient and immovable definitions, and to eject the aforesaid persons from communion with us. We have, for this reason, sent our reinstructed deputies to your Clemency, and have furnished them with letters, declaratory of the sentiments of the council. These deputies have been especially charged by us to maintain the truths which were defined rightly by the founders, and to instruct your Holiness as to the falsity of the assertion of Valens and Ursacius, that a few changes in righteous truths would produce peace in the Church. For how can peace be reproduced by those who destroy peace? They would be more likely to introduce contention and disturbance into the other cities and into the Church of Rome. We therefore entreat your Clemency to consider our deputies with gentle audience and mild look, and not to allow the dead to be dishonored by any novel changes. We pray you to permit us to remain in the definitions and decrees which we received from our ancestors, who, we would affirm, did their work with ready minds, with prudence, and with the Holy Spirit. For these innovations not only lead believers to infidelity, but also delude unbelievers to immaturity. We likewise entreat you to command that the bishops who are now absent from their churches, and of whom some are laboring under the infirmities of old age, and others under the privations of poverty, may be furnished with the means of returning to their own homes, in order that the churches may not be longer deprived of their ministry.

“Again, we beseech you that nothing be taken away from the former decisions, or added to them; let all remain unchanged, even as it has been preserved from the piety of your father to the present time; so that we may not in future be fatigued, and be compelled to become strangers to our own parishes, but that bishops and people may dwell together in peace, and be able to devote themselves to prayer and supplication for your own personal salvation and empire and peace, which may the Deity graciously vouchsafe to you uninterruptedly.

“Our deputies will show you the signatures and the names of the bishops, and some of them will offer instruction to your Holiness out of the Sacred Scriptures.”


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