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field. Christianity uplifting itself in the freshness and glory of a new and triumphant power, and claiming to be the absolute religion embracing the whole circle of divine truth, must necessarily absorb very much of the speculative energies of the times.

Indifference to matters of creed was practically an impossibility. Many whom custom still bound to their old, worn-out heathenism may have had but a moderate interest in its tenets. But Christianity with its unforgotten record of heroic conflicts, with its long list of honored martyrs, with its lofty promises, with its comparative freshness, and with its felt superiority to all the religious products of the ancient world, claimed too lively an interest from thoughtful adherents to allow of an indifferent attitude towards its doctrinal contents.

Aside from indifference to matters of creed, unanimity of opinion was the only thing which could have saved the Church of that era from doctrinal controversies. But this, too, was practically out of the question. The depth of the subject was enough by itself to prevent unanimity of opinion, especially on the part of

men coming from such varied antecedents as belonged to the transition from a Jewish and heathen to a Christian world. There were causes, therefore, comparatively normal and legitimate, that acted powerfully in the direction of doctrinal agitation.

But these causes were re-enforced by others that have less claim upon our charity. A false impetus was given to theological strife by a wide-spread failure properly to recognize the broad distinction which exists between faith and orthodoxy. The abhorrence of heresy, which had been engendered by such gross aberrations from


Christian truth as Gnosticism and Manichæism, conjoined with the unspiritual temper of numerous adherents of the victorious Church, led not a few to confound evangelical belief with allegiance to a creed. According to their superficial estimate, a zealous championship of the right articles of faith was a supreme evidence of Christian character. Coalescing with this stimulus to controversy was the old Greek disputatiousness which still survived. It was easy for the Greek mind to run into a mania for speculation and discussion, to the neglect of practical interests. Cicero in his day complained of the contro

. versial bias of the Greeks, and accused them of thirsting for contention rather than for truth. Not a little of this spirit came unconquered into the Church.

Controversy was also intensified and imbittered by the action of the government. The design of the emperors was indeed the promotion of peace and harmony in the Church, but their interference none the less bore the natural fruit of increased strife. What else could have been the result of the principle established under the administration of Constantine; namely, that the minority of bishops, gathered or represented in a council, must submit their faith to the decision of the majority, and, in case of refusal, feel the force of civil as well as of ecclesiastical proscription? The inevitable consequence was, that, when a doctrinal dispute arose, the partisans of either side were intent upon securing for themselves a majority in a council and the co-operation of the government. The government, thus flattered by the appeals of contending factions, was incited to make a full show of its power and importance. Emperors having least understanding of the subjects under debate were quite apt to be most zealous in their attempts to control doctrinal settlements. Hence full scope was given, in the treatment of theological questions, to all the expedients of the most violent political strife.

Finally, the populace of the large cities, by their characteristic bias to faction and extreme partisanship, fostered controversy, and contributed to it an element of ferocity. “The abstruse tenets of the Christian theology," says Milman, “became the ill-understood, perhaps unintelligible watchwords of violent and disorderly men. The rabble of Alexandria and other cities availed themselves of the commotion to give loose to their suppressed passion for the excitement of plunder and bloodshed. If Christianity is accused as the immediate exciting cause of these disastrous scenes, the predisposing principle was in that uncivilized nature of man, which not merely was unallayed by the gentle and humanizing tenets of the gospel, but, as it has perpetually done, pressed the gospel itself, as it were, into its own unhallowed service.” 1

From all these causes resulted an age intensely polemical. As many testimonies and incidents assure us, controversial zeal burned with indescribable ardor.

“ Disputes and contentions," writes Theodoret, "arose in every city and in every village, concerning theological dogmas. These were indeed melancholy scenes over which tears might have been shed. For it was not

. as in bygone ages, when the Church was attacked by strangers and enemies: they who fought against each other [in this strife of tongues) were members of each other, and belonged to one body.” Every thing in

" 2

1 History of Christianity, Book III., chap. v. 2 Hist. Eccl., i. 6.




the city,” says Gregory of Nyssa, speaking of the Arian controversy in Constantinople, “is full of such [as dogmatize over things incomprehensible], - the lanes, the markets, the avenues, the streets, the clothiers, the bankers, the dealers in provisions. When you ask one how much a thing costs, he will favor you with a discourse about the begotten and the unbegotten. When you inquire the price of bread, he replies, • The Father is greater than the Son, and the Son is subordinate. If you ask, “Is the bath ready?' he declares, The Son was created from nothing.'. I know not by what name, whether frenzy or madness or other kindred term, this evil which has come upon the people may fitly be called.”1 In like manner Gregory Nazianzen testifies : “It has gone so far that the whole market resounds with the discourses of heretics, every banquet is corrupted by this babbling even to nausea, every merrymaking is transformed into a mourning, and every funeral solemnity is almost alleviated by this brawling as a still greater evil; even the chambers of women, the nurseries of simplicity, are disturbed thereby, and the flowers of modesty are crushed by this precocious practice of dispute."? If such language applies to the

' doctrinal strifes of the fourth century, what shall describe the polemic zeal of the fifth century? Said Nestorius in his inaugural sermon at Constantinople: “Give me, O Emperor, the earth purified from heretics, and I will give you heaven in return; help me to destroy the heretics, and I will help you to conquer the Persians.”


." 3 But intolerant as was the zeal which these

1 Orat. de Deitate Filii et Spiritus Sancti. 2 Orat., xxvii. 2 (Scbaff's rendering). 8 Socrates, Hist. Eccl., vii. 29. 1 Mansi, Concilia, iv. 1228. 2 Ibid., iv. 1241; Opera Cyrilli, Epist. xxiv (Migne). 8 Evagrius, Hist. Eccl., i. 2. 4 See Neander, iv. 203; also Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, $ 156.

words reveal, it by no means exceeded that which was directed against Nestorius himself as he fell under suspicion of heresy. At the council of Ephesus in 431, a whole string of anathemas was hurled against him. One bishop remarked, that, as those who counterfeit the imperial coins are deserving of the severest penalties, so Nestorius, who has dared to falsify the orthodox faith, was deserving of all punishments at the hands of God and of men. Another declared that he was worse than Cain and the Sodomites, and that the earth might fitly open to swallow him up, or fire from heaven descend upon him. In the official notification by the council of his condemnation, Nestorius was named a “new Judas;’l and the city of Ephesus expressed its delight over the sentence by processions, torches, and illuminations. A layman and a lawyer, writing subsequently, named Nestorius “that God-assaulting tongue, that second conclave of Caiaphas, that work-shop of blasphemy."3 Cyril of Alexandria, who was the soul of the crusade against Nestorius, scrupled at no means for securing his ends, even to the bribing of numerous court officials. The letters of his archdeacon show conclusively that he made presents to various parties at court, and exhorted the church at Constantinople to be careful to do their part in satisfying the avarice of certain persons. 4 Hefele attempts, indeed, to palliate the practice of Cyril, on the plea that it was Oriental custom to introduce a negotiation with a sovereign or other

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