Athanasius Ap contra Ar., 23f

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23. The Arians who were excommunicated for their impiety by Alexander, the late Bishop of Alexandria, of blessed memory, were not only proscribed by the brethren in the several cities, but were also anathematised by the whole body assembled together in the great Council of Nicaea. For theirs was no ordinary offence, neither had they sinned against man, but against our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of the living God. And yet these persons who were proscribed by the whole world, and branded in every Church, are said now to have been admitted to communion again; which I think even you ought to hear with indignation. Who then are the parties who dishonour a council? Are not they who have set at nought the votes of the Three hundred [543] , and have preferred impiety to godliness? The heresy of the Arian madmen was condemned and proscribed by the whole body of Bishops everywhere; but the Bishops Athanasius and Marcellus have many supporters who speak and write in their behalf. We have received testimony in favour of Marcellus [544] , that he resisted the advocates of the Arian doctrines in the Council of Nicaea; and in favour of Athanasius [545] , that at Tyre nothing was brought home to him, and that in the Mareotis, where the Reports against him are said to have been drawn up, he was not present. Now you know, dearly beloved, that ex parte proceedings are of no weight, but bear a suspicious appearance. Nevertheless, these things being so, we, in order to be accurate, and neither shewing any prepossession in favour of yourselves, nor of those who wrote in behalf of the other party, invited those who had written to us to come hither; that, since there were many who wrote in their behalf, all things might be enquired into in a council, and neither the guiltless might be condemned, nor the person on his trial be accounted innocent. We then are not the parties who dishonour a council, but they who at once and recklessly have received the Arians whom all had condemned, and contrary to the decision of the judges. The greater part of those judges have now departed, and are with Christ; but some of them are still in this life of trial, and are indignant at learning that certain persons have set aside their judgment.

24. We have also been informed of the following circumstance by those who were at Alexandria. A certain Carpones, who had been excommunicated by Alexander for Arianism, was sent hither by one Gregory with certain others, also excommunicated for the same heresy. However, I had learnt the matter also from the Presbyter Macarius, and the Deacons Martyrius and Hesychius. For before the Presbyters of Athanasius arrived they urged me to send letters to one Pistus at Alexandria, though at the same time the Bishop Athanasius was there. And when the Presbyters of the Bishop Athanasius came, they informed me that this Pistus was an Arian, and that he had been excommunicated [546] by the Bishop Alexander and the Council of Nicaea, and then ordained [547] by one Secundus, whom also the great Council excommunicated as an Arian. This statement Martyrius and his fellows did not gainsay, nor did they deny that Pistus had received his ordination from Secundus. Now consider, after this who are most justly liable to blame? I, who could not be prevailed upon to write to the Arian Pistus; or those, who advised me to do dishonour to the great Council, and to address the irreligious as if they were religious persons? Moreover, when the Presbyter Macarius, who had been sent hither by Eusebius with Martyrius and the rest, heard of the opposition which had been made by the Presbyters of Athanasius, while we were expecting his appearance with Martyrius and Hesychius, he departed in the night, in spite of a bodily ailment; which leads us to conjecture that his departure arose from shame on account of the exposure which had been made concerning Pistus. For it is impossible that the ordination of the Arian Secundus should be considered valid in the Catholic Church. This would indeed be dishonour to the Council, and to the Bishops who composed it, if the decrees they framed, as in the presence of God, with such extreme earnestness and care, should be set aside as worthless.