56. Letter of Athanasius to Jovian concerning the Faith.
1. A desire to learn and a yearning for heavenly things is suitable to a religious Emperor; for thus you will truly have ‘your heart’ also ‘in the hand of God.’ Since then your Piety desired to learn from us the faith of the Catholic Church, giving thanks for these things to the Lord, we counselled above all things to remind your Piety of the faith confessed by the Fathers at Nicæa. For this certain set at nought, while plotting against us in many ways, because we would not comply with the Arian heresy, and they have become authors of heresy and schisms in the Catholic Church. For the true and pious faith in the Lord has become manifest to all, being both ‘known and read’ from the Divine Scriptures. For in it both the saints were made perfect and suffered martyrdom, and now are departed in the Lord; and the faith would have abode inviolate always had not the wickedness of certain heretics presumed to tamper with it. For a certain Arius and those with him attempted to corrupt it, and to introduce impiety in its place, affirming that the Son of God was from nought, and a creature, and a thing made and changeable. But with these words they deceived many, so that even ‘they that seemed to be somewhat were carried away,’ with their blasphemy. And yet our holy Fathers, as we said before, came promptly together at the Synod at Nicæa, and anathematised them, and confessed in writing the faith of the Catholic Church, so that, this being everywhere preached, the heresy kindled by the heretics might be quenched. This faith then was everywhere in every Church sincerely known and preached. But since now certain who wish to renew the Arian heresy have presumed to set at nought this faith confessed at Nicæa by the Fathers, and while pretending to confess it, do in fact deny it, explaining away the ‘Coessential,’ and blaspheming of their own accord against the Holy Spirit, in affirming that It is a creature, and came into being as a thing made by the Son, we hasten as of bounden duty, in view of the injury resulting to the people from such blasphemy, to hand to your Piety the faith confessed at Nicæa; in order that thy religiousness may know what has been written with all accuracy, and how far wrong they are who teach contrary to it.
2. For know, most religious Augustus, that these things have been preached from time immemorial, and this faith the Fathers who met at Nicæa confessed; and to it have assented all the Churches in every quarter, both those in Spain, and Britain, and the Gauls, and all Italy and Dalmatia, Dacia and Mœsia, Macedonia and all Greece, and in all Africa and Sardinia, and Cyprus and Crete, as well as Pamphylia, Lycia and Isauria, and those in Egypt and the Libyas, Pontus and Cappadocia, and those near at hand to us, and the Churches in the East, except a few who hold with Arius. For of all those above mentioned we have both learnt the opinion by experience, and we have letters. And you know, O most religious Augustus, that even if some few speak against this faith, they cannot create a demurrer, inasmuch as the whole world holds the Apostolic faith. For they having long been infected by the Arian heresy, now the more obstinately oppose the truth. And that your Piety may know, although you know already, yet we hasten to append the faith confessed by the Bishops at Nicæa. The faith then confessed at Nicæa by the Fathers is as follows:
4. By this faith, Augustus, all must needs abide, as Divine and Apostolic, and none must unsettle it by plausibilities, and contentions about words, which is what the Arian madmen have done, saying that the Son of God is from nought, and that once there was when He was not, and that He is created, and made and changeable. For for this cause, as we said before, the Synod at Nicæa anathematised such heresy, but confessed the faith of the truth. For they have not merely said that the Son is like the Father, lest He should be believed merely like God, instead of Very God from God; but they wrote ‘Coessential,’ which was peculiar to a genuine and true Son, truly and naturally from the Father. Nor yet did they make the Holy Spirit alien from the Father and the Son, but rather glorified Him together with the Father and the Son, in the one faith of the Holy Triad, because there is in the Holy Triad also one Godhead.