Athanasius hist. Ar., 36, 51

36. The Eunuch Eusebius attempts Liberius in vain.

But the Bishop endeavoured to convince him, reasoning with him thus: How is it possible for me to do this against Athanasius? how can we condemn a man, whom not one [1624] Council only, but a second [1625] assembled from all parts of the world, has fairly acquitted, and whom the Church of the Romans dismissed in peace? who will approve of our conduct, if we reject in his absence one, whose presence [1626] amongst us we gladly welcomed, and admitted him to our communion? This is no Ecclesiastical Canon; nor have we had transmitted to us any such tradition [1627] from the Fathers, who in their turn received from the great and blessed Apostle Peter [1628] . But if the Emperor is really concerned for the peace of the Church, if he requires our letters respecting Athanasius to be reversed, let their proceedings both against him and against all the others be reversed also; and then let an Ecclesiastical Council be called at a distance from the Court, at which the Emperor shall not be present, nor any Count be admitted, nor magistrate to threaten us, but where only the fear of God and the Apostolical rule [1629] shall prevail; that so in the first place, the faith of the Church may be secure, as the Fathers defined it in the Council of Nicaea, and the supporters of the Arian doctrines may be cast out, and their heresy anathematized. And then after that, an enquiry being made into the charges brought against Athanasius, and any other besides, as well as into those things of which the other party is accused, let the culprits be cast out, and the innocent receive encouragement and support. For it is impossible that they who maintain an impious creed can be admitted as members of a Council: nor is it fit that an enquiry into matters of conduct should precede the enquiry concerning the faith [1630] ; but all diversity of opinions on points of faith ought first to be eradicated, and then the enquiry made into matters of conduct. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not heal them that were afflicted, until they shewed and declared what faith they had in Him. These things we have received from the Fathers; these report to the Emperor; for they are both profitable for him and edifying to the Church. But let not Ursacius and Valens be listened to, for they have retracted their former assertions, and in what they now say they are not to be trusted.’

 


51. How Constantius shews his respect for his father and brother.

If therefore, as he declares in his letters, he desired to observe his sire’s practice, why did he first send out Gregory, and now this George, the eater of stores [1677] ? Why does he endeavour so earnestly to introduce into the Church these Arians, whom his father named Porphyrians [1678] , and banish others while he patronises them? Although his father admitted Arius to his presence, yet when Arius perjured himself and burst asunder [1679] he lost the compassion of his father; who, on learning the truth, condemned him as an heretic. Why moreover, while pretending to respect the Canon of the Church, has he ordered the whole course of his conduct in opposition to them? For where is there a Canon that a Bishop should be appointed from Court? Where is there a Canon [1680] that permits soldiers to invade Churches? What tradition is there allowing counts and ignorant eunuchs to exercise authority in Ecclesiastical matters, and to make known by their edicts the decisions of those who bear the name of Bishops? He is guilty of all manner of falsehood for the sake of this unholy heresy. At a former time he sent out Philagrius as Prefect a second time [1681] , in opposition to the opinion of his father, and we see what has taken place now. Nor for his brother’s sake’ does he speak the truth. For after his death he wrote not once nor twice, but three times to the Bishop, and repeatedly promised him that he would not change his behaviour towards him, but exhorted him to be of good courage, and not suffer any one to alarm him, but to continue to abide in his Church in perfect security. He also sent his commands by Count Asterius, and Palladius the Notary, to Felicissimus, who was then Duke, and to the Prefect Nestorius, that if either Philip the Prefect, or any other should venture to form any plot against Athanasius, they should prevent it.