THE HISTORY OF HERESIES and THEIR REFUTATION;
Translated from the Italian of
St. Alphonsus M. Liguori
By the Rev. John T. Mullock
Of the Order of St. Francis
In two volumes. –vol. I
Dublin:Published by James Duffy,
With references to the marginal numbers in each chapter.
The Heresies of the First Century
Simon Magus. 2. Menander. 3. Cerinthus. 4. Ebion. 5. Saturninus and Basilides.
6. The Nicholites.
The Heresies of the Second Century
1. Corpocrates. 2. Valentine. 3. Epiphanes. 4. Prodicus. 5. Tatian. 6. Severus. 7. Cerdonius. 8. Marcion. 9. Apelles. 10. Montanus. 11. Cataphrigians, Artotirites, Peputians, Ascodrogites, Pattalorinchites. 12. Bardesanes. 13. Theodotus the Currier, Artemon, and Theodotus Argentarius. 14. Hermogenes.
The Heresies of the Third Century
Praxeas. 2. Sabellius. 3. Paul of Samosata. 4. Manes. 5. Tertullian. 6.
Origen. 7. Novatus and Novatian. 8. Nepos—The Angelicals and the Apostolicals.
The Heresies of the Fourth Century
I. -- Schism and Heresy of the Donatists.
2. Schism. 3. Heresy. 4, 5. Confutation of St. Augustin. Circumcellionists.
6. Conference commanded by Honorius. 7. Death of Marcellinus, and Council
II. -- The Arian Heresy.
I. – Progress of Arius, and his Condemnation by the Council of Nice.
Origin of Arius. 9. His errors and supporters. 10. Synod of Bythinia. 11.
Synod of Osius in Alexandria. 12. General Council of Nice. 13. Condemnation
of Arius. 14.- 16. Profession of Faith.17. Exile of Eusebius of Nicomedia,
and insidious Letter of Eusebius of Cesarea. 18. Banishment of Arius. 19.
Decree for the Meletians. 20. Decree for the Quartodecimans. 21. Canons.
22. End of the Council.
21. Canons. 22. End of the Council.
II. – Occurences up to the Death of Constantine.
St. Athanasius is made Bishop of Alexandria; Eusebius is recalled; St.
Eustasius exiled, and Arius again taken into favour. 24. Council of Tyre.
25. St. Athanasius accused and exiled. 26. Arius banished from Alexandria.
27. His Perjury, and horrible death. 28. Constantine’s baptism and death;
Division of the Empire.
III. – The Emperor Constantius persecutes the Catholics.
Eusebius of Nicomedia is translated to the See of Constantinople; Synods
in Alexandria and Antioch. 31. Council of Sardis. 32. Council of Arles.
33. Council of Milan and exile of Liberius. 34. Exile of Osius. 35. Death
of Osius. 36. Fall of Liberius. 37. First Formula of Sirmium. 38. Second
Formula of Sirmium. 39. Third Formula of Sirmium. 40. Liberius signs the
Formula, etc. 41, 42. He signs the First Formula. 43. Return of Liberius
to Rome, and death of Felix. 44. Division among the Arians. 45 – 48. Council
of Rimini. 49. Death of Constantius. 50. The Empire descends to Julian.
The Schism of Lucifer.
IV. – Persecution of Valens, of Genneric, of Hunneric, and other Arian
Julian is made Emperor, and dies. 52. Jovian Emperor; his death. 53. Valentinian
and Valens Emperors. 54. Death of Liberius. 55, 56. Valens puts eighty
Ecclesiatics to death – his other cruelties. 57. Lucius persecutes the
Solitaries. 58. Dreadful death of Valens. 59 – 61. Persecution of Genseric.
62—64. Persecution of Hunneric. 65. Persecution of Theodoric. 67, 68. Persecution
– 74. Heresy of Macedonius. 75 – 77. Of Apollonares. 78. Of Elvidius. 79.
Of Aerius. 80, 81. The Messalians. 82. The Priscillianists. 83. Other Heretics.
84. Of Audaeus, in particular.
The Heresies of the Fifth Century
I. – The Heresies of Elvidius, Jovinian, and Vigilantius.
Heresy of Elvidius. 2. Errors of Jovinian. 3. Adverse opinions of Basnage
refuted. 4. Vigilantius and his errors.
II. – On the Heresy of Pelagius.
Origin of the heresy of Pelagius. 6. His errors and subterfuges. 7. Celestius
and his condemnation. 8. Perversity of Pelagius. 9. Council of Diospolis.
10, 11. He is condemned by St. Innocent, Pope. 12. Again condemned by Sozymus.
13. Julian, a follower of Pelagius. 14. Semi-Pelagians. 15. Predestination.
16 –19. Godeschalcus.
III. – The Nestorian Heresy.
Errors of Nestorius, and his elevation to the Episcopacy. 21. He approves
of the errors preached by his priest, Anastasius; his cruelty. 22. He is
contradicted, and other acts of cruelty. 23. St. Cyril’s letter to him,
and his answer. 24. The Catholics separate from him. 25. Letters to St.
Celestine, and his answer. 26. He is admonished; Anathemas of St. Cyril.
27. The sentence of the Pope is intimated to him. 28. He is cited to the
Council. 29. He is condemned. 30. The sentence of the Council is intimated
to him. 31. Cabal of John of Antioch. 32. Confirmation of the Council by
the Legates, in the name of the Pope. 33. The Pelagians are condemned.
34. Disagreeable affair with the Emperor Theodosius. 35. Theodosius approves
of the condemnation of Nestorius, and sends him into banishment, where
he dies. 36. Laws against the Nestorians. 37. Efforts of the Nestorians.
38. The same subject continued. 39. It is condemned as heretical to assert
that Jesus Christ is the adopted Son of God. 40 – 43. Answer to Basnage,
who has unjustly undertaken the defense of Nestorius.
IV. – The Heresy of Eutyches.
I. The Synod of St. Flavian. – The Council or Cabal of Ephesus, called
the “Latrocinium,” or Council of Robbers.
Beginning of Eutyches; he is accused by Eusebius or Dorileum. 45. St. Flavian
receives the charge. 46. Synod of St. Flavian. 47. Confession of Eutyches
at the Synod. 48. Sentence
of the Synod against Eutyches. 49. Complaints of Eutyches. 50. Eutyches
writes to St. Peter Chrysologus, and to St. Leo. 51. Character of Dioscorus.
52, 53. Cabal at Ephesus. 54. St. Flavian is deposed, and Eusebius of Dorileum.
55. The Errors of Theodore of Mopsuestia. 56. Death of St. Flavian. 57.
Character of Theodoret. 58, 59. Writings of Theodoret against St. Cyril.
Defense of Theodoret. 60. Dioscorus excommunicates St. Leo. 61. Theodosius
approved the Council or Cabal and dies. 62. Reign of St. Pulcheria and
II. – The Council of Calcedon.
A Council is assembled in Chalcedon, under the Emperor Marcian, and the
Pope St. Leo. 63. The cause of Dioscorus is tried in the first Session.
64. He is condemned. 65. Articles of faith defined in opposition to the
Eutychian Heresy. 66. Privileges granted by the Council to the Patriarch
of Constantinople. 67. Refused by St. Leo. 68. Eutyches and Dioscorus die
in their obstinacy. 69. Theodosius, head of the Eutychians in Jerusalem.
70. His cruelty. 71. Death of St. Pulcheria and of Marcian. 72. Timothy
Eleurus intruded into the See of Alexandria. 73. Martyrdom of St. Proterius,
the true Bishop. 74. Leo succeeds Marcian in the Empire. 75. Eleurus is
expelled from the See of Alexandria, and Timothy Salofacialus is elected.
76. Zeno is made Emperor; he puts Basiliscus to death. Eleurus commits
suicide. 77. St. Simon Stilites. 78. His happy death. 79. Peter the Stammerer
intruded into the See of Aalexandria.
III. – The Henoticon of the Emperor Zeno.
The Emperor Zeno publishes his Henoticon. 81. Mongos anathematizes Pope
St. Leo and the Council of Calcedon. 82. Peter the Fuller intrusted with
the See of Antioch. 83. Adventures and death of the Fuller. 84. Acacius,
Patriarch of Constantinople, dies excommunicated.
The Heresies of the Sixth Century
I. – Of the Acephali, and the different Sects they split into.
Regulation made by the new Emperor Anastasius, to the great detriment of
the Church. 2. Anastasius persecutes the Catholics; his awful death. 3.
The Acephali, and their Chief, Severus. 4. The Sect of the Jacobites. 5.
The Agnoites. 6. The Tritheists. 7. The Corruptibilists. 8. The Incorruptibilists.
9. Justinian falls into this error. 10. Good and bad actions of the Emperor.
11, 12. The Acemetic Monks; their obstinacy.
II. – The Three Chapters.
Condemnation of the Three Chapters of Theodore, Ibas, and Theodoret. 14,
15. Defended by Vigilius. 16. Answer to the objection of a Heretic, who
asserts that one Council contradicts another.
The Heresies of the Seventh Century
I. – Of Mahometanism.
Birth of Mahomet, and beginning of his False Religion. 2. The Alcoran filled
with blasphemy and nonsense. 3. Mohomet’s death.
II. – Heresy of the Monothelites
Commencement of the Monothelites; their chiefs, Sergius and Cyrus. 5. Opposed
by Sophrinius. 6. Letter of Sergius to Pope Honorius, and his Answer. 7.
Defense of Honorius. 8. Honorius erred, but did not fall into any error
against Faith. 9. The Ecthesis of Heraclius afterwards condemned by Pope
John IV. 10. The type of the Emperor Constans. 11. Condemnation of Paul
and Pyrrus. 12. Dispute of St. Maximus with Pyrrus. 13. Cruelty of Constans;
his violent death. 14. Condemnation of the Monothelites in the Sixth Council.
15. Honorius condemned in that Council, not for heresy, but for his negligence
in repressing Heresy.
The Heresies of the Eighth Century
Heresy of the Iconoclasts
Beginning of the Iconoclasts. 2, 3. St. Germanus opposes the Emperor Leo.
4. He resigns the See of Constantinople. 5. Anastasius is put in his place;
Resistance of the women. 6. Cruelty of Leo. 7. Leo endeavors to put the
Pope to death; opposition of the Romans. 8. Letter of the Pope. 9. A Council
is held in Rome in support of the Sacred Images, but Leo continues his
persecution. 10. His hand is miraculously to St. John of Damascus. 11.
Leo dies, and is succeeded by Constantine Copronymus, a greater persecutor;
death of the impious Patriarch Anastasius. 12. Council held by Constantine.
13. Martyrs in honor of the Images. 14. Other tyrannical acts of Constantine,
and his horrible death. 15. Leo IV. Succeeds to the Empire, and is succeeded
by his son, Constantine. 16. The Empress Irene, in her son’s name, demands
a Council. 17. Seditions against the Council. 18. The Council is held,
and the Veneration of Images established. 19. Erroneous opinion of the
Council of Frankfort regarding the Eighth General Council. 20. Persecution
again renewed by the Iconoclasts.
The Heresies of the Ninth Century
I. – The Greek Schism commenced by Photius.
St. Ignatius, by means of Bardas, uncle to the Emperor Michael, is expelled
from the See of Constantinople. 2. He is replaced by Photius. 3. Photius
is consecrated. 4. Wrongs inflicted on St. Ignatius, and on the Bishops
who defended him. 5. The Pope sends Legates to investigate the affair.
6. St. Ignatius appeals from the judgment of the Legates to the Pope himself.
7. He is deposed in a false Council. 8. The Pope defends St. Ignatius.
9. The Pope deposes the Legates and Photius, and confirms St. Ignatius
in his See. 10. Bardas is put to death by the Emperor, and he associates
Basil in the Empire. 11. Photius condemns and deposes Pope Nicholas II.,
and afterwards promulgates his error concerning the Holy Ghost. 12. The
Emperor Michael is killed, and Basil is elected, and banishes Photius.
II. – The Errors of the Greeks Condemned in Three General Councils.
14, 15. The Eighth General Council against Photius, under Pope Adrian and
the Emperor Basil. 16. Photius gains over Basil, and in the meantime St.
Ignatius dies. 17. Photius again gets possession of the See. 18. The Council
held by Photius rejected by the Pope; unhappy death of Photius. 19. The
Patriarch, Cerularius, revives and adds to the errors of Photius. 20. Unhappy
death of Cerularius. 21, 22. Gregory X. convokes the Council of Lyons,
at the instance of the Emperor Michael; it is assembled. 23. Profession
of faith written by Michael, and approved by the Council. 24. The Greeks
confess and swear to the decisions of the Council. 25. They separate again.
26. Council of Florence, under Eugenius IV.; the errors are again discussed
and rejected; Definition of the Procession of the Holy Ghost. 27. Of the
Consecration in Leavened Bread. 28. Of the Pains of Purgatory. 29. Of the
Glory of the Blessed. 30. Of the Primacy of the Pope. 31. Instructions
given to the Armenians, Jacobites, and Ethiopians; the Greeks relapse into
The Heresies which sprung up from the Eleventh to the Fifteenth Century.
I. – Heresies of the Eleventh Century.
Stephen and Lisosius burned for their Errors. 2. The New Nicholites and
the Incestuosists. 3. Berengarius, and the principles of his Heresy. 4.
His condemnation and relapse. 5. His conversion and death.
II. – Heresies of the Twelfth Century.
The Petrobrussians. 7. Henry, and his Disciples. 8. Their condemnation.
9. Peter Abelard, and his errors concerning the Trinity. 10. His condemnation.
11. His conversion and death. 12. His particular errors. 13. Arnold of
Brescia; his errors and condemnation. 14. Causes a sedition and is burned
alive. 15. Gilbert de la Porce; his errors and conversion. 16. Folmar,
Tanquelinus, and the Abbot Joachim; the Apostolicals and the Bogomiles.
17. Peter Waldo and his followers under different denominations – Waldenses,
Poor Men of Lyons, etc. 18. Their particular errors, and condemnation.
III. – Heresies of the Thirteenth Century
The Albigenses and their errors. 20. The corruption of their morals. 21.
Conferences held with them, and their obstinacy. 22. They create an Anti-Pope.
23. Glorious labours of St. Dominic, and his stupendous Miracles. 24. Crusade
under the command of Count Montfort, in which he is victorius. 25. Glorius
death of the Count, and the destruction of the Albigenses. 26. Sentence
of the Fourth Council of Lateran, in which the Dogma is defined in opposition
to their Tenets. 27. Amalric and his heresy; the errors added by his Disciples;
they are condemned. 28. William de St. Amour and his errors. 29. The Flagellants
and their errors. 30. The Fratricelli and their errors condemned by John
IV. – Heresies of the Fourteenth Century.
The Beghards and Beguines; their errors condemned by Clement V. 32. Marsilius
of Padua, and John Jandunus ; their writings condemned as heretical by
John XXII. 33. John Wickliffe, and the beginning of his heresy. 34. Is
assisted by John Ball; death of the Archbishop of Canterbury. 35. The Council
of Constance condemns forty-five Articles of Wickliffe. 36, 37. Miraculous
confirmation of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
38. Death of Wickliffe.
V. -- Heresies of the Fifteenth Century – The Heresy of John Huss, and
Jerome of Prague
John Huss's character, and the commencement of his heresy. 40. His errors.
41. He is condemned in a Synod. 42. Council of Constance --he is obliged
to appear at it. 43. He comes to Constance, and endeavours to escape. 44,
45. He presents himself before the Council, and continues obstinate. 46.
He is condemned to death, and burned. 47. Jerome of Prague is also burned
alive for his obstinacy. 48. Wars of the Hussites -- they are conquered
The Heresies of the Sixteenth Century
I. -- Of the Heresies of Luther.
I. -- The beginning and progress of the Lutheran Heresy.
Erasmus of Rotterdam, called by some the Precursor of Luther; his Literature.
2. His Doctrine was not sound, nor could it be called heretical. 3. Principles
of Luther; his familiarity with the Devil, who persuades him to abolish
Private Masses. 4. He joins the Order of the Hermits of St. Augustin. 5
Doctrines and vices of Luther. 6. Publication of Indulgences, and his Theses
on that subject. 7. He is called to Rome, and clears himself; the Pope
sends Cardinal Cajetan as his Legate to Germany. 8. Meeting between the
Legate and Luther. 9. Luther perseveres and appeals to the Pope. 10, 11.
Conference of Ecchius with the Heretics. 12 Bull of Leo X., condemning
forty-one errors of Luther, who burns the Bull and the Decretals.
II. -- The Diets and principal Congresses held concerning the Heresy of
Diet of Worms, where Luther appeared before Charles V., and remains obstinate.
14. Edict of the Emperor against Luther, who is concealed by the Elector
in one of his castles. 15. Diet of Spire, where the Emperor publishes a
Decree, against which the Heretics protest. 16. Conference with the Zuinglians;
Marriage of Luther with an Abbess. 17. Diet of Augsburg, and Melancthon's
profession of Faith; Melancthon's Treatise, in favour of the authority
of the Pope, rejected by Luther. 18. Another Edict of the Emperor in favour
of religion. 19. League of Smalkald broken up by the Emperor. 20. Dispensation
given by the Lutherans to the Landgrave to have two wives. 21. Council
of Trent, to which Luther refuses to come; he dies, cursing the Council.
22. The Lutherans divided into fifty?six Sects. 23. The Second Diet of
Augsburg, in which Charles V. published the injurious Formula of the Interim.
24, 25. The heresy of Luther takes possession of Sweden, Denmark, Norway,
and other Kingdoms.
III. -- Errors of Luther
Forty-one errors of Luther condemned by Leo X. 27. Other errors taken from
his Books. 28. Luther's remorse of conscience. 29. His abuse of Henry VIII.;
his erroneous translation of the New Testament – the Books he rejected.
30. His method of celebrating Mass. 31. His Book against the Sacramentarians,
who denied the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
IV. -- The Disciples of Luther
Melancthon, and his character. 33. His Faith, and the Augsburg Confession
composed by him. 34. Matthias Flaccus, author of the Centuries. 35. John
Agricola, chief of the Antinomians; Atheists. 36. Andrew Osiander, Francis
Stancar, and Andrew Musculus. 37. John Brenzius, Chief of the Ubiquists.
38. Gaspar Sneckenfield abhorred even by Luther for his impiety.
39. Martin Chemnitz, the Prince of Protestant theologians, and opponent
of the Council of Trent.
V. – The Anabaptists.
The Anabaptists – they refuse baptism to children. 41. Their Leaders –
Seditions and defeat. 42. Are again defeated under their chief, Munzer,
who is converted at his death. 43, 44, 45. 'They rebel again under John
of Leyden, who causes himself to be crowned King, is condemned to a cruel
death, and dies penitent. 46. Errors of the Anabaptists. 47. They are split
into various sects.
II. – The Sacramentarians.
I. – Carlostad.
Carlostad, father of the Sacramentarians. 49. He is reduced to live by
his labour in the field; he gets married, and composed a Mass on that subject.
50. He dies suddenly.
II. – Zuinglius.
Zuinglius, and the beginning of his heresy. 52. His errors. 53. Congress
held before the Senate of Zurich; the Decree of the Senate rejected by
the other Cantons. 54. Zuinglius sells his Canonry, and gets married; victory
of the Catholics, and his death.
III. -- Ecolampadius; Bucer; Peter Martyr
Ecolampadius. 56. Bucer. 57. Peter Martyr.
III. -- The Heresies of Calvin.
I. -- The Beginning and Progress of the Heresy of Calvin.
Birth and studies of Calvin. 59. He begins to broach his heresy; they seek
to imprison him, and he makes his escape through a window. 60. He commences
to disseminate his impieties in Angouleme. 61. He goes to Germany to see
Bucer, and meets Erasmus. 62. He returns to France, makes some followers,
and introduces the “Supper;" he afterwards goes to Basle, and finishes
his "Instructions." 63. He goes to Italy, but is obliged to fly;
arrives in Geneva, and is made Master of Theology. 64. He is embarrassed
there. 65. He flies from Geneva, and returns to Germany, where he marries
a widow. 66. He returns to Geneva and is put at the head of the Republic;
the impious works he publishes there; his dispute with Bolsec. 67. He causes
Michael Servetus to be burned allve. 68. Unhappy end of the Calvinistic
Mission to Brazil. 69. Seditions and disturbances in France on Calvin's
account; Conference of Poissy. 70. Melancholy death of Calvin. 71. His
personal qualities and depraved manners.
II. -- Theodore Beza, the Huguenots, and other Calvinists, who disturbed
France, Scotland, and England.
Theodore Beza -- his character and vices. 73. His learning, employments,
and death. 74 Conference of St. Francis de Sales with Beza. 75. Continuation
of the same subject. 76, 77. Disorders of the Huguenots in France, 78.
Horrors committed by them; they are proscribed in France. 79. Their disorders
in Flanders. 80. And in Scotland. 81. Mary Stuart is married to Francis
II. 82. She returns to Scotland, and marries Darnley; next Bothwell; is
driven by violence to make a fatal renunciation of her Crown in favour
of her son. 83. She takes refuge in England, and is imprisoned by Eliza­beth,
and afterwards condemned to death by her. 84. Edifying death of Mary Stuart.
85. James I., the son of Mary, succeeds Elizabeth; he is succeeded by his
son, Charles I., who was beheaded. 86. He is succeeded by his son, Charles
II., who is succeeded by his brother, James II., a Catholic, who died in
III. -- The Errors of Calvin.
Calvin adopts the errors of Luther. 88. Calvin's errors regarding the Scriptures.
89. The Trinity. 90. Jesus Christ. 91. The Divine Law. 92. Justification.
93. Good Works and Free Will. 94. That God predestines man to sin and to
hell, and Faith alone in Jesus Christ is sufficient for salvation. 95.
The Sacraments and especially Baptism. 96. Penance. 97. The Eucharist and
the Mass. 98. He denies Purgatory and Indulgences; other errors.
IV. -- The different Sects of Calvinists.
99. The Sects into which Calvinism was divided. 100. The Puritans. 101. The Independents and Presbyterians. 102. The difference between these Sects. 103. The Quakers and Tremblers. 104. The Anglo-Calvinists. 105. The Piscatorians. 106. The Arminians and Gomarists.
(Rev. John T. Mullock)
ardent wish manifested by the Faithful for an acquaintance with the valuable
writings of ST. LIGUORI, induced me to undertake the Translation of his
History of Heresies, one of his greatest works. The Holy Author was induced
to write this Work, to meet the numbers of infidel publications, with which
Europe was deluged in the latter half of the last century. Men's minds
were then totally unsettled; dazzled by the glare of a false philosophy
they turned away from the light of the Gospel. The heart of the Saint was
filled with sorrow, and he laboured to avert the scourge he saw impending
over the unfaithful people. He implored the Ministers of his Sovereign
to put the laws in force, preventing the introduction of irreligious publications
into the Kingdom of Naples; and he published this Work, among others, to
prove, as he says, that the Holy Catholic Church is the only true one--the
Mistress of Truth--the Church, founded by Jesus Christ himself which would
last to the end of time, notwithstanding the persecutions of the infidel,
and the rebellion of her own heretical children. He dedicates the Book
to the Marquis Tanucci, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom, whom he praises
for his zeal for Religion, and his vigorous execution of the laws against
the vendors of infidel publications. He brings down the History from the
days of the Apostles to his own time, concluding with the Refutation of
the Heresies of Father Berruyer. I have added a Supplementary Chapter,
giving a Succinct account of the Heretics and Fanatics of the last eighty
years. It was, at first, my intention to make it more diffuse; but, then,
I considered that it would be out of propor­tion with the remainder
of the Work. This Book may be safely consulted as a work of reference:
the Author constantly quotes his authorities; and the Student of Ecclesiastical
History can at once compare his State­ments with the sources from
which he draws. In the latter portion of the Work, and especially in that
portion of it, the most interesting to us, the History of the English Reformation,
the Student may perceive some slight variations between the original text
and my translation. I have collated the Work with the writings of modern
Historians--the English portion, especially with Hume and Lingard--and
wherever I have seen the statements of the Holy Author not borne out by
the authority of our own Historians, I have considered it more prudent
to state the facts, as they really took place; for our own writers must
naturally be supposed to be better acquainted with our History, than the
foreign authorities quoted by the Saint. The reader will also find the
circumstances, and the names of the actors, when I considered it necessary,
frequently given more in detail than in the original.
the style, I have endeavoured, as closely as the genius of our language
would allow, to keep to the original. ST. ALPHONSUS never sought for ornament;
a clear, lucid statement of facts is what he aimed at; there is nothing
inflated in his writings; he wrote for the people, and that is the principal
reason, I imagine, why not only his Devotional Works, but his Historical
and Theological Writings, also, have been in such request: but, while he
wrote for the people, we are not to imagine that he did not also please
the learned. His mind was richly stored with various knowledge; he was
one of the first Jurists of his day; his Theological science elicited the
express approbation of the greatest Theologian of his age--Benedict XIV.;
he was not only a perfect master of his own beautiful language, but profoundly
read in both Greek and Latin literature also, and a long life constantly
employed in studies, chiefly ecclesiastical, qualified him, above any man
of his time, to become an Ecclesiastical Historian, which no one should
attempt unless he be a general--I might almost say a universal, scholar:
so much for the His­torical portion of the Work.
the Second Part, the Refutation of Heresies, the Holy Author comprises,
in a small Space, a vast amount of Theological information; in fact, there
is no Heresy which cannot be refuted from it. Not alone are the usual Heresies,
which we have daily to combat -- such as those opposed to the Real Presence,
the Authority of the Church, the doctrine of Justification, clearly and
diffusely refuted, but those abstruse heretical opinions concerning Grace,
Free Will, the Procession of the Holy Ghost, the Mystery of the Incarnation,
and the two Natures of Christ, and so-forth, are also clearly and copiously
confuted; the intricacies of Pelagianism, Calvinism, and Jansenism, are
unravelled, and the true Doctrine of the Church triumphantly vindicated.
The reader will find, in general, the quotations from the Fathers in the
original, but those unacquainted with Latin will easily learn their sentiments
from the text. The Scripture quotations are from the Douay version.
Every Theologian will be aware of the difficulty of giving scholastic terms in an English dress. In the language of the Schools, the most abstract ideas, which would require a sentence to explain them in our tongue, are most appropriately expressed by a single word; all the Romance languages, daughters of the Latin, have very nearly the same facility, but our Northern tongue has not, I imagine, flexibility enough for the purpose. I have, however, endeavoured, as far as I could, to preserve the very terms of the original, knowing how easy it is to give a heterodox sense to a passage, by even the most trivial deviation from the very expression of the writer. The Theological Student will thus, I hope, find the Work a compact Manual of Polemic Theology; the Catholic who, while he firmly believes all that the Church teaches, wishes to be able to give an account of the Faith that is in him, will here find it explained and defended; while those not of the "fold," but for whom we ardently pray, that they may hear the voice of the "one Shepherd," may see, by its attentive perusal, that they inhabit a house “built upon the sand," and not the house “on the rock." They will behold the mighty tree of Faith sprung from the grain of mustard-seed planted by our Redeemer, always flourishing, always extending, neither uprooted by the storms of persecution, nor withered by the sun of worldly prosperity. Nay more, the very persecution the Church of God has suffered, and is daily enduring, only extends it more and more; the Faithful, persecuted in “one city," fly elsewhere, bearing with them the treasure of Faith, and communicating it to those among whom they settle, as the seeds of fertility are frequently borne on the wings of the tempest to the remote desert, which would otherwise be cursed with perpetual barrenness. The persecution of the Church in Ireland, for example, "has turned the desert into fruitfulness," in America, in Australia, in England itself, and the grey mouldering ruins of our fanes on the hill sides are compensated for by the Cathedral Churches across the ocean. The reader will see Heresy in every age, from the days of the Apostles themselves down to our own time, rising up, and vanishing after a while, but the Church of God is always the same, her Chief Pastors speaking with the same authority, and teaching the same doctrine to the trembling Neophites in the Catacombs, and to the Caesars on the throne of the world. Empires are broken into fragments and perish --- nations die away, and are only known to the historian --- languages spoken by millions disappear --- every thing that is man's work dies like man; heresies, like the rest, have their rise, their progress, their decay, but Faith alone is eternal and unchangeable, “yesterday, to-day, and the same for ever."
AUTHOR'S PREFACE. (St. Alphonsus M. Liguori)
-- My object in writing this work is to prove that the Roman Catholic Church
is the only true one among so many other Churches, and to show how carefully
the Almighty guarded her, and brought her victoriously through all the
persecutions of her enemies. Hence, as St. Iraeneus says (Lib. 3,
cap. 3, n. 2), all should depend on the Roman Church as on
their fountain and head. This is the Church founded by Jesus Christ, and
propagated by the Apostles; and although in the commencement persecuted
and contradicted by all, as the Jews said to St. Paul in Rome: “For as
concerning this sect (thus they called the Church), we know that it is
gainsayed every where" (Acts, xxviii, 22); still she always remained
firm, not like the other false Churches, which in the beginning numbered
many followers, but perished in the end, as we shall see in the course
of this history, when we speak of the Arians, Nestorians, Eutychians, and
Pelagians; and if any sect still reckons many followers, as the Mahometans,
Lutherans, or Calvinists, it is easy to see that they are upheld, not by
the love of truth, but either by popular ignorance, or relaxation of morals.
St. Augustin says that heresies are only embraced by those who had they
persevered in the faith, would be lost by the irregularity of their lives
-- (St. Aug. de Va. Rel. c. 8.)
-- Our Church, on the contrary, notwithstanding that she teaches her children
a law opposed to the corrupt inclinations of human nature, not only never
failed in the midst of persecutions, but even gained strength from them;
as Tertullian (Apol. cap. ult.) says, -- the blood of martyrs is the seed
of Christians, and the more we are mown down the more numerous we become;
and in the 20th chapter of the same work he says, -- the kingdom of Christ
and his reign is believed and he is worshipped by all nations. Pliny the
Younger confirms this in his celebrated Letter to Trajan, in which he says
that in Asia the temples of the gods were deserted because the Christian
Religion had overrun not only the cities but even the villages.
-- This, certainly, never could have taken place without the Power of the
Almighty, who intended to establish in the midst of idolatry, a new religion,
to destroy all the superstitions of the false religion, and the ancient
belief in a multitude of false gods adored by the Gentiles, by their ancestors,
by the magistrates, and by the emperors themselves, who made use of all
their power to protect it, and still the Christian faith was embraced by
many nations who forsook a relaxed law for a hard and difficult one, forbidding
them to pamper their sensual appetites. What but the power of God could
-- Great as the Persecutions were which the Church suffered from idolatry,
still greater were those she had to endure from the heretics which sprang
from her own bosom, by means of wicked men, who, either through pride or
ambition, or the desire of sensual license, endeavoured to rend the bowels
of their parent. Heresy has been called a canker: "It spreadeth like
a canker" (II. Tim. ii, 17); for as a canker infects the whole body,
so heresy infects the whole soul, the mind, the heart, the intellect, and
the will. It is also called a plague, for it not only infects the person
contaminated with it, but those who associate with him, and the fact is,
that the spread of this plague in the world has injured the Church more
than idolatry, and this good mother has suffered more from her own children
than from her enemies. Still she has never perished in any of the tempests
which the heretics raised against her; she appeared about to perish at
one time through the heresy of Arius, when the faith of the Council of
Nice, through the intrigues of the wicked Bishops, Valens and Ursacius,
was condemned, and, as St. Jerom says, the world groaned at finding itself
Arian (1); and the Eastern Church appeared in the same danger during the
time of the heresies of Nestorius and Eutyches. But it is wonderful, and
at the same time consoling, to read the end of all those heresies, and
behold the bark of the Church, which appeared completely wrecked and sunk
through the force of those persecutions, in a little while floating more
gloriously and triumphantly than before.
(1) St. Hieron. Dial. Adversus Lucifer.
-- St. Paul says: “There must be heresies, that they also who are reproved
may be made manifest among you" (I. Cor. ii, 19). St. Augustin, explaining
this text, says that as fire is necessary to purify silver, and separate
it from the dross, so heresies are necessary to prove the good Christians
among the bad, and to separate the true from the false doctrine. The pride
of the heretics makes them presume that they know the true faith, and that
the Catholic Church is in error, but here is the mistake: our reason is
not sufficient to tell us the true faith, since the truths of Divine Faith
are above reason; we should, therefore, hold by that faith which God has
revealed to his Church, and which the Church teaches, which is, as the
Apostle says, “the pillar and the ground of truth" (I. Tim. iii, 15).
Hence, as St. Iraeneus says, “It is necessary that all should depend on
the Roman Church as their head and fountain; all Churches should agree
with this Church on account of her priority of principality, for there
the traditions delivered by the Apostles have always been preserved"
(St. Iraen. lib, 3, c. 3); and by the tradition derived from the Apostles
which the Church founded at Rome preserves, and the Faith preserved by
the succession of the Bishops, we confound those who through blindness
or an evil conscience draw false conclusions (Ibid). “Do you wish
to know," says St. Augustin, "which is the true Church of Christ?
Count those priests who, in a regular succession have succeeded St. Peter.,
who is the Rock, against which the gates of hell will not prevail"
(St. Aug. in Ps. contra part Donat.): and the holy Doctor alleges as one
of the reasons which detain him in the Catholic Church, the succession
of Bishops to the present time in the See of St. Peter" (Epis. fund,
c. 4, n. 5); for in truth the uninterrupted succession from the
Apostles and disciples is characteristic of the Catholic Church and of
6. -- It was the will of the Almighty that the Church in which the true faith was preserved should be one, that all the faithful might profess the one faith, but the devil, St. Cyprian says (2), invented heresies to destroy faith, and divide unity. The enemy has caused mankind to establish many different churches, so that each, following the faith of his own particular one, in opposition to that of others, the true faith might be confused, and as many false faiths formed as there are different churches, or rather different individuals. This is especially the case in England, where we see as many religions as families, and even families themselves divided in faith, each individual following his own. St. Cyprian, then, justly says that God has disposed that the true faith should be preserved in the Roman Church alone, so that there being but one Church there should be but one faith and one doctrine for all the faithful. St. Optatus Milevitanus, writing to Parmenianus, says, also: “You cannot be ignorant that the Episcopal Chair of St. Peter was first placed in the city of Rome, in which one chair unity is observed by all” (St. Opt. l. 2, cont. Parmen.)
(2) St. Cyprian de Unitate Ecclesie
-- The heretics, too, boast of the unity of their Churches, but St. Augustin
says that it is unity against unity. “What unity,” says the Saint, “can
all those churches have which are divided from the Catholic Church, which
is the only true one; they are but as so many useless branches cut off
from the Vine, the Catholic Church, which is always firmly rooted. This
is the One, Holy, True, and Catholic Church, opposing all heresies; it
may be opposed, but cannot be conquered. All heresies come forth from it,
like useless shoots cut off from the vine, but it still remains firmly
rooted in charity, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
(St. Aug. lib. 1, de Symbol ad Cath. c. 6). St. Jerom says that
the very fact of the heretics forming a Church apart from the Roman Church,
is a proof, of itself, that they are followers of error, and disciples
of the devil, described by the Apostle, as “giving heed to spirits of error
and doctrines of devils” (I. Tim iv. 1).
-- The Lutherans and Calvinists say, just as the Donatists did before them,
that the Catholic Church preserved the true faith down to a certain period
– some say to the third, some to the fourth, some to the fifth century
– but that after that the true doctrine was corrupted, and the spouse of
Christ became an adulteress. This supposition, however, refutes itself;
for, granting that them Roman Catholic Church was the Church first founded
by Christ, it could never fail, for our Saviour himself promised that the
gates of hell never should prevail against it: “I say unto you that you
are Peter, and on this Rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell
shall not prevail against it” (Matt. xviii, 18). It being certain, then,
that the Roman Catholic Church was the true one, as Gerard, one of the
first ministers of Luther, admits (Gerard de Eccles. cap. 11, sec.
6) it to have been for the first five hundred years, and to have preserved
the Apostolic doctrine during that period, it follows that it must always
have remained so, for the spouse of Christ as St. Cyprian says, could never
become an adulteress.
-- The heretics, however, who, instead of learning from the Church the
dogmas they should believe, wish to teach her false and perverse dogmas
of their own, say that they have the Scriptures on their side, which are
the fountain of truth, not considering, as a learned author (3) justly
remarks, that it is not by reading, but by understanding, them, that the
truth can be found. Heretics of every sort avail themselves of the Scriptures
to prove their errors, but we should not interpret the Scripture according
to our own private opinions, which frequently lead us astray, but according
to the teaching of the Holy Church which is appointed the Mistress of true
doctrine, and to whom God has manifested the true sense of the Divine books.
This is the Church, as the Apostle tells us, which has been appointed the
pillar and the ground of truth: "that thou mayest know how thou oughtest
to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living
God, the pillar and the ground of truth” (I. Tim. iii, 15.) Hence St. Leo
says that the Catholic faith despises the errors of heretics barking against
the Church, who deceived by the vanity of worldly wisdom, have departed
from the truth of the Gospel -- (St. Leo, Ser. 8, de Nat Dim.)
(3) Danes, Gen. Temp. Nat. in Epil.
-- I think the History of Heresies is a most useful study, for it shows
the truth of our Faith more pure and resplendent, by showing how it has
never changed; and if, at all times, this is useful, it must be particularly
so at present, when the most holy maxims and the principal dogmas of Religion
are put in doubt: it shows, besides, the care God always took to sustain
the Church in the midst of the tempests which were unceasingly raised against
it, and the admirable manner in which all the enemies who attacked it were
confounded. The History of Heresies is also useful to preserve in us a
spirit of humility and subjection to the Church, and to make us grateful
to God for giving us the grace of being born in Christian countries; and
it shows how the most learned men have fallen into the most grievous errors,
by not subjecting themselves to the Church’s teaching.
-- I will now state my reasons for writing this work; some may think this
labour of mine superfluous, especially as so many learned authors have
written expressly and extensively the history of various heresies, as Tertullian,
St. Iraeneus, St. Epiphanius, St. Augustin, St. Vincent of Lerins, Socrates,
Sozymen, St. Philastrius, Theodoret, Nicephorus, and many others, both
in ancient and modern times. This, however, is the very reason which prompted
me to write this Work; for as so many authors have written, and so extensively,
and as it is impossible for many persons to procure so many and such expensive
works, or to find time to read them, if they had them, I, therefore, judged
it better to collect in a small compass, the commencement and progress
of all heresies, so that in a little time, and at little expense, anyone
may have a sufficient knowledge of the heresies and schisms which infected
the Church. I have said in a small compass, but still, not with such brevity
as some others have done, who barely give an outline of the facts, and
leave the reader dissatisfied, and ignorant of many of the most important
circumstances. I, therefore, have studied brevity; but I wish, at the same
time, that my readers may be fully informed of every notable fact connected
with the rise and progress of, at all events, the principal heresies that
disturbed the Church.
-- Another reason I had for publishing this Work was, that as modern authors,
who have paid most attention to historical facts, have spoken of heresies
only as a component part of Ecclesiastical History, as Baronius, Fleury,
Noel Alexander, Tillemont, Orsi, Spondanus, Raynaldus, Graveson, and others,
and so have spoken of each heresy chronologically, either in its beginning,
progress, or decay, and, therefore, the reader must turn over to different
parts of the works to find out the rise, progress, and disappearance of
each heresy; I, on the contrary, give all at once the facts connected with
each heresy in particular.
-- Besides, these writers have not given the Refutation of Heresies, and
I give this in the second part of the Work; -- I do not mean the refutation
of every heresy, but only of the principle ones, as those of Sabellius,
Arius, Pelagius, Macedonius, Nestorius, Eutyches, the Monothelites, tho
Iconoclasts, the Greeks, and the like. I will merely speak of the authors
of other heresies of less note, and their falsity will be apparent, either
from their evident weakness, or from the proofs I bring forward against
the more celebrated heresies I have mentioned.
-- We ought, then, dear reader, unceasingly to thank our Lord for giving
us the grace of being born and brought up in the bosom of the Catholic
Church. St. Francis de Sales exclaims: "O good God! many and great
are the benefits thou hast heaped on me, and I thank thee for them; but
how shall I be ever able to thank thee for enlightening me with thy holy
Faith?" And writing to one of his friends, he says: "O God! the
beauty of thy holy Faith appears to me so enchanting, that I am dying with
love of it, and I imagine I ought to enshrine this precious gift in a heart
all perfumed with devotion.) St. Teresa never ceased to thank God for having
made her a daughter of the Holy Church – her
consolation at the hour of death was to cry out: "I die a child
of the Holy Church -- I die a child of the Holy Church." We, likewise,
should never cease praising Jesus Christ for this grace bestowed on us
– one of the greatest conferred
on us – one distinguishing us from so many millions of mankind, who are
born and die among infidels and heretics: “He has not done in like manner
to every nation” (Psalm cxlvii, 9). With our minds filled with gratitude
for so great a favour, we shall now see the triumph the Church has obtained
through so many ages, over so many heresies opposed to her. I wish to remark,
however, before I begin, that I have written this work amidst the cares
of my Bishoprick, so that I could not give a critical examination, many
times, to the facts I state, and, in such case, I give the various opinions
of different authors, without deciding myself on one side or the other.
I have endeavoured, however, to collect all that could be found in the
most correct and notable writers on the subject; but it is not impossible
that some learned persons may be better acquainted with some facts than
OF THE FIRST CENTURY.
Simon Magus. 2. Menander. 3. Cerinthus. 4. Ebion. 5. Saturninus and Basilides.
6. The Nicholites.
-- Simon Magus (1), the first heretic who disturbed
the Church, was born in a part of Samaria called Githon or Gitthis. He
was called Magus, or the Magician, because he made use of spells to deceive
the multitude; and hence he acquired among countrymen the extraordinary
name of “The Great Power” (Acts, viii, 10). “This man is the power of God
which is called great.” Seeing that those on whom the Apostles Peter and
John laid hands received the Holy Ghost, he offered them money to give
to him the power of communicating the Holy Ghost in like manner; and on
that account the detestable crime of selling holy things is called Simony.
He went to Rome, and there was a statue erected to him in that city, a
fact which St. Justin, in his first Apology, flings in the face of the
Romans: “In your royal city,” he says, “he (Simon) was esteemed a God,
and a statue was erected to him in the Island of Tyber, between the two
bridges, bearing this Latin inscription—SIMONI, DEO SANCTO.” Samuel Basnage,
Petavius, Valesius, and many others, deny this fact; but Tillemont, Grotius,
Fleury, and Cardinal Orsi defend it, and adduce in favour of it the authority
of Tertullian, St. Irenaeus, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Augustin, Eusebius,
and Theodoret, who even says the statue was a bronze one. Simon broached
many errors, which Noel Alexander
enumerates and refutes (2). The principal ones were that the world was
created by angels; that when the soul leaves the body it enters into another
body, which, if true, says St. Irenaeus (3), it would recollect all that
happened when it inhabited the former body, for memory, being a spiritual
quality, it could not be separated from the soul. Another of his errors
was one which has been brought to light by the heretics of our own days,
that man had no free will, and, consequently, that good works are not necessary
for salvation. Baronius and Fleury relate (4), that, by force of magic
spells, he one day caused the devil to elevate him in the air; but St.
Peter and St. Paul being present, and invoking the name of Jesus Christ,
he fell down and broke both his legs. He was carried away by his friends;
but his corporeal and mental sufferings preyed so much on him, that, in
despair, he cast himself out of a high window; and thus perished the first
heretic who ever disturbed the Church of Christ (5). Basnage, who endeavours
to prove that St. Peter never was in Rome, and never filled the pontifical
chair of that city, says that this is all a fabrication; but we have the
testimony of St. Ambrose, St. Isidore of Pelusium, St. Augustin, St. Maximus,
St. Philastrius, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Severus Sulpicius, Theodoret,
and many others in our favour. We have, besides, a passage in Seutonius,
which corroborates their testimony, for he says (lib. Vl.
cap. xii) that, while Nero assisted at the public sports, a man
endeavoured to fly, but, after elevating himself for a while, he fell down,
and the Emperor's pavilion was sprinkled with his blood.
(1) Baron. Annal, 35, d. 23; N. Alex. Hist. Ecclesias. t. 5, c. 11, n. 1; Hermant. His. Con. 56, 1, c. 7; Van Ranst, His. Her. n. 1.
(2) Nat. Alex. t. 5, in fin. Dis. 24.
(3) St. Irenaeus, de Heresi. l. 2, c. 58.
(4) Baron. Ann. 35, n. 14, ad. 17; Fleury, His. Eccl. t. l. 2, n. 23; St. Augus. ; St. Joan. Chrys.
(5) Baron. n. 17; Nat. Alex. t. 5, c. 11; Orsi, Istor. Eccl. l. 1, n. 20, and l. 2, n. 19; Berti. Brev. Histor. t. l, c. 3.
-- Menander was a Samaritan likewise, and a disciple
of Simon Magus; he made his appearance in the year of our Lord 73. He announced
himself a messenger from the “Unknown Power," for the salvation of
mankind. No one, according to him, could be saved, unless he was baptized
in his name, and his baptism, he said, was the true resurrection, so that
his disciples would enjoy immortality even in this life (6). Cardinal Orsi
adds, that Menander was the first who invented the doctrine of “Eons,"
and that he taught that Jesus Christ exercised human functions in appearance
Fleury, loc. Cit. n. 42; N. Alex. Loc. Cit. art. 2.
-- Cerinthus was the next after Menander, but he
began to broach his doctrine in the same year (7). His errors can be reduced
to four heads: he denied that God was the creator of the world; he asserted
that the law of Moses was necessary for salvation; he also taught that
after the resurrection Jesus Christ would establish a terrestrial kingdom
in Jerusalem, where the just would spend a thousand years in the enjoyment
of every sensual pleasure; and, finally, he denied the divinity of Jesus
Christ. The account Bernini gives of his death is singular (8). The Apostle
St. John, he says, met him going into a bath, when, turning to those along
with him, he said, let us hasten out of this, lest we be buried alive,
and they had scarcely gone outside when the whole building fell with a
sudden crash, and the unfortunate Cerinthus was overwhelmed in the ruins.
One of the impious doctrines of this heretic was, that Jesus was
a mere man, born as all other men are, and that, when he was baptized in
the river Jordan, Christ descended on him, that is, a virtue or
power, in form of a dove, or a spirit sent by God to fill him with knowledge,
and communicate it to mankind; but after Jesus had fulfilled his mission,
by instructing mankind and working miracles, he was deserted by Christ,
who returned to heaven, and left him to darkness and death. Alas! what
impiety men fall into when they desert the light of faith, and follow their
own weak imaginations.
N. Alex. t. 5, c. 11, ar. 5; Fleury, t. 1,
l. 2, n. 42; Berti. Loc. Cit; Orsi, t. 1, l.
2, n. 43.
(8) Bernin. Istor. Del Eresia, t. 1, c. 1; St. Iren. L. 3, c. 4, de S.
-- Ebion prided himself in being a disciple of St.
Peter, and could even bear to hear St. Paul's name mentioned. He admitted
the sacrament of baptism; but in the consecration of the Eucharist he used
nothing but water in the chalice; he, however, consecrated the host in
unleavened bread, and Eusebius says he performed this every Sunday.
According to St. Jerome, the baptism of the Ebionites was admitted
by the Catholics. He endeavoured to unite the Mosaic and Christian law,
and admitted no part of the New Testament, unless the Gospel of St. Matthew,
and even that mutilated, as he left out two chapters, and altered the others
in many places. The ancient writers say that St. John wrote his Gospel
to refute the errors of Ebion. The most impious of his blasphemies was,
that Jesus Christ was the son of Joseph and Mary, born as the rest of men
are; that he was but a mere man, but that, on account of his great virtue,
the Almighty adopted him as his Son (9).
N. Alex. Loc. Cit. art. 6; Fleury, loc. Cit. n, 42 [N.B.
– Fleury puts Ebion first, next Cerinthus, and lastly Menander.]
-- Saturninus and Basilides were disciples of
Menander, whose history we have already seen; and they made some additions
to the heresy of their master. Saturninus, a native of Antioch, taught,
with Menander, as Fleury tells us (10), that there was one only Father,
unknown to all, who created the angels, and that seven angels created the
world and man. The God of the Jews, he said, was one of these rebellious
angels, and it was to destroy him that Christ appeared in the form of man,
though he never had a real body. He condemned matrimony and procreation
as an invention of the devil. He attributed the Prophecies partly to the
angels, partly to the devil, and partly to the God of the Jews. He also
said, according to St. Augustin (Heres. iii), that the Supreme Virtue--that
is, the Sovereign Father--having created the angels, seven of them rebelled
against him, created man, and for this reason: -- Seeing a celestial light,
they wished to retain it, but it vanished from them; and they then created
man to resemble it, saying, “Let us make man to the image and likeness."
Man being thus created, was like a mere worm, incapable of doing anything,
till the Sovereign Virtue, pitying his image, placed in him a spark of
himself and gave him life. This is the spark which, at the dissolution
of the body, flies to heaven. Those of his sect alone, he said, had this
spark; all the others were deprived of it, and, consequently, were reprobate.
Fleury, n. 19.
-- Basilides, according to Fleury, was a native
of Alexandria, and even exceeded Saturninus in fanaticism. He said that
the Father, whom he called Abrasax, produced Nous, that is,
Intelligence; who produced Logos, or the Word; the Word produced
Phronesis, that is, Prudence; and Prudence, Sophia and Dunamis,
that is, Wisdom and Power. These created the angels, who formed the first
heaven and other angels; and these, in their turn, produced a second heaven,
and so on, till there were three hundred and sixty-five heavens produced,
according to the number of days in the year. The God of the Jews, he said,
was the head of the second order of angels, and because he wished to rule
all nations, the other princes rose up against him, and, on that account,
God sent his first-born, Nous, to free mankind from the dominion
of the angels who created the world. This Nous, who, according to
him, was Jesus Christ, was an incorporeal virtue, who put on whatever form
pleased him. Hence, when the Jews wished to crucify him, he took the form
of Simon the Cyrenean, and gave his form to Simon, so that it was Simon,
and not Jesus, who was crucified. Jesus, at the same time, was laughing
at the folly of the Jews, and afterwards ascended invisibly to heaven.
On that account, he said, we should not venerate the crucifix, otherwise
we would incur the danger of being subject to the angels who created the
world. He broached many other errors; but these are sufficient to show
his fanaticism and impiety. Both Saturninus and Basilides, fled from martyrdom,
and always cloaked their faith with this maxim – “Know others, but let
no one know you." Cardinal Orsi says (11) they practised magic, and
were addicted to every species of incontinence, but that they were careful
in avoiding observation. They promulgated their doctrines before Menander,
in the year 125; but, because they were disciples of his, we have mentioned
them after him.
Orsi, t. 2, l. 3, n. 23.
-- The Nicholites admitted promiscuous intercourse
with married and single, and, also, the use of meats offered to idols.
They also said that the Father of Jesus Christ was not the creator of the
world. Among the other foolish doctrines they held, was one, that darkness,
uniting with the Holy Ghost, produced a matrix or womb, which brought fourth
four Eons; that from these four Eons sprang the evil Eon, who created the
Gods, the angels, men, and seven demoniacal spirits. This heresy was of
short duration; but some new Nicholites sprung up afterwards in the Milanese
territory, who were condemned by Pope Nicholas II. The Nicholites called
themselves disciples of Nicholas the Deacon, who, according to Noel Alexander,
was esteemed a heresiarch by St. Eusebius, St. Hilarion, and St. Jerome.
However, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, Theodoret, Baronius, St. Ignatius
the Martyr, Orsi, St. Augustin, Fleury, and Berti, acquit him of this charge
(12) Nat. Alex. t. 5, diss. 9; Baron. An. 68, n. 9; Orsi, t. l, n. 64; Fleury, t. 1, l. 2, n. 21; Berti, loc. Cit.
HERESIES OF THE SECOND CENTURY.
- Corpocrates. 2. - Valentine. 3. - Epiphanes. 4. - Prodicus. 5. - Tatian.
6. - Severus. 7. - Cerdonius. 8. - Marcion. 9. - Apelles. 10. - Montanus.
11. - Cataphrigians, Artotirites, Peputians, Ascodrogites, Pattalorinchites.
12. - Bardesanes. 13. Theodotus the Currier, Artemon, and Theodotus Argentarius.
-- Corpocrates was a native of Alexandria, or,
as others say, of Samasota. His followers were called Gnostics –
that is, learned or enlightened. He said that Jesus Christ was the son
of Joseph, born as other men are, and distinguished from them by his virtue
alone, and that the world was created by angels. Another blasphemous doctrine
of his was, that, to unite ourselves with God, we should practise all the
unclean works of concupiscence; our evil propensities should be followed
in every thing, for this, he said, was the enemy spoken of in the Gospel
(l), to which we should yield, and, by this means, we show our contempt
for the laws of the wicked angels, and acquire the summit of perfection;
and the soul, he said, would pass from one body to another till it had
committed all sorts of unclean actions. Another of his doctrines was, that
every one had two souls, for without the second, he said, the first would
be subject to the rebellious angels. The followers of this hellish monster
called themselves Christians, and, as a distinctive mark, they branded
the lower part of the ear with a red iron. They paid the same veneration
to the images of Pythagoras, Plato, and the other philosophers, as to that
of Jesus Christ. Corpocrates lived in the year 160.
N. Alex. t. 6, c. 3, ar. 2; Fleury, t. 3, n.
20; Berti, t. l, c. 3; Bernin. t. l, c. 2.
-- Valentine, who, it was supposed, was an Egyptian,
separated himself from the Church, because he was disappointed in obtaining
a bishopric. He came to Rome in 141, and abjured his errors, but soon again
embraced them, and persevered in them till his death (2). He invented a
fabulous genealogy Eons or Gods; and another of his errors was, that Jesus
Christ did not become incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary, but brought
his body from heaven. He admitted in man a continual exercise of spirit,
which, uniting with the flesh, rendered lawful every sensual pleasure;
and he divided mankind into three classes -- the carnal, the animal, and
the spiritual. His followers, he said, were the spiritualists, and, on
that account, were exempt from the necessity of good works, because, having
arrived at the apex of perfection, and being certain of eternal felicity,
it was useless for them to suffer, or observe the law. The carnal, he said,
were excluded from eternal salvation and predestined to hell (3).
Van Ranst, His. P. 20.
(3) Fleury, t. l, l. 3, n. 26-27; Bernin. t. l, c. 5; Graveson, t. 3, p. 49; N. Alex. t. 6, c. 3, ar. 6.
sects take their origin from Valentine. The first were called Sethites:
These paid such honour to Seth, that they said Jesus Christ was born of
him, and some went so far as to say that Jesus Christ and Seth were one
and the same person. The second sect were called Cainites: These venerated
as saints all those who the Scripture tells us were damned – as Cain, Core,
the inhabitants of Sodom,
and especially Judas Iscariot. The third were called Ophites: These said
that Wisdom became a serpent, and, on that account, they adored
Jesus Christ as a serpent; they trained one of these reptiles to come out
of a cave when called, and creep up on the table where the bread for sacrifice
was placed; they kissed him while he crept round the bread, and, considering
it then sanctified by the reptile, whom they blasphemously called Christ,
they broke it to the people, who received it as the Eucharist (4).
t. 1, l. 3, n. 30; Bernin. t. 1, c.
2; VanRanst, p. 20.
and Saturninus were disciples of Valentine; but their master admitted thirty
Eons, and they added eight more. He also had other disciples: -- Heraclion,
whose followers invoked over the dead certain names of principalities,
and anointed them with oil and water; Marcus and Colarbasus taught that
all truth was shut up in the Greek alphabet, and, on that account, they
called Christ Alpha and Omega (5); and Van Ranst adds to the list the Arconticites,
who rejected the sacraments -- Florinus, who said that God was the author
of sin -- and Blastus (6), who insisted that Easter should be celebrated
after the Jewish fashion. The disciples of Valentine made a new Gospel,
and added various books to the Canon of the Scriptures, as "The Parables
of the Lord," “ The Prophetic Sayings and the Sermons of the Apostles."
It is needless to add that all these were according to their own doctrines.
l. 3, n. 30, l. 4, n. 9 & 10.
(6) Van Ranst. p. 22.
-- Epiphanes, the son of Carpocrates, besides defending
the damnable opinions of his father, openly rejected the law of Moses,
and especially the two last precepts of the Decalogue. He also rejected
the Gospel, though he pretended to follow it (7).
Fleury, l. 3, n. 20; Bern. t. 1, c. 2.
-- Prodicus taught that it was lawful to deny the
faith to avoid death; he rejected the worship of an invisible God, and
adored the four elements and the sun and the moon; he condemned all prayers
to God as superstitious, but he prayed to the elements and the planets
to be propitious to mankind (8). This impious worship he always performed
naked. Noel Alexander and Theodoret assign to this heretic the institution
of the sect called Adamites; these always performed their religious exercises
in their churches, or rather brothels, as St. Epiphanius calls them, naked,
pretending by this to imitate the innocence of Adam, but, in reality, practising
every abomination (9).
Bern. loc. cit.
(9) N. Alex. t. 6, c. 3, ar. 12; Gotti, Ver. Rel. t. 2, c, 27, s.1; Bernin. loc. cit.
-- Tatian, was born in Assyria, and was a disciple
of St. Justin Martyr. He was the founder of the sect called Encratics,
or Continent; he taught, with Valentine, that matter was uncreated and
eternal; he attributed the creation to God, but through the instrumentality
of an inferior Eon, who said let there be light, not by way of command,
but of supplication, and thus light was created. He denied, with Valentine,
the resurrection of the dead, and human flesh, he said was too unworthy
to be united with the divinity in the person of Christ. He deprived man
of free will, saying he was good and spiritual, or bad and carnal, by necessity,
according as the seed of divine grace was infused or not into him; and
he rejected the law of Moses, as not instituted by God, but by the Eon
who created the world. Finally, he condemned matrimony, prohibited the
use of flesh-meat and wine, and, because he used nothing but water in the
consecration of the chalice, his disciples were called Hydroparastati,
or Aquarii (10).
t. 2, l. 4, n. 11; Fleury, t. 1, l.
4, n. 8; Baron. An. 174, n. 3, 4; N. Alex. t. 6, c.
3, ar. 7.
6. -- Severus was a disciple of Tatian; but differed
from his master in some essential points, especially in admitting the law
of Moses, the Prophets, and the Gospels. Julius Capianus, a disciple of
Valentine, joined with Severus, and was the founder of the heresy of the
Doceti, who said that Jesus had not a real, but an apparent, body. He wrote
a book on continence, in which he quoted a passage of the spurious gospel
used by the Egyptians, in which Jesus Christ is made to curse matrimony.
In his commentaries on Genesis be says marriage was the forbidden fruit
Fleury, loc. cit. n. 8; Orsi, loc. cit. n. 12.
-- Cerdonius followed the doctrines of Simon, Menander,
and Saturninus; besides, he taught, with Manus, the existence of two first
principles, or Gods, a good and a bad one, and admitted the resurrection
of the soul, but not of the body. He rejected all the Gospels, except St.
Luke's, and mutilated that in several places (12).
Fleury, l. 3, n. 30; Nat. Alex. t. 6, c.
3, ar. 4; Orsi, t. 2, , l. 3, n. 44.
8. -- Marcion was a native of the city of Sinope,
in the province of Pontus, and the son of a Catholic bishop. In his early
days he led a life of continence and retirement; but for an act of immorality
he was cut off from the Church by his own father. He then went to Rome,
and endeavoured to accomplish his restoration; but not being able to succeed,
he, in a fit of rage, said – “I will cause an eternal division in your
Church." He then united himself to Cerdonius, admitting two principles,
and founding his doctrine on the sixth chapter of St. Luke, where it is
said a good tree cannot bring forth bad fruits. The good principle, he
said, was the author of good, and the bad one of evil; and the good principle
was the father of Jesus Christ, the giver of grace, and the bad one, the
creator of matter and the founder of the law. He denied the incarnation
of the Son of God, saying it was repugnant to a good God to unite himself
with the filthiness of flesh, and that his soul should have for a companion
a body infected and corrupt by nature. He also taught the existence of
two Gods -- one, the good God; the other, an evil one, the God of the Jews,
and the creator of the world. Each of these Gods promised to send a Christ.
Our Christ appeared in the reign of Tiberius, and was the good Christ;
the Jewish Christ did not yet come. The Old Testament he rejected, because
it was given by the bad principle, or God of the Jews. Among other errors,
he said, that when Jesus descended into hell, he did not save Abel, or
Henoc, or Noah, or any other of the just of the old law, because they were
friends of the God of the Jews; but that he saved Cain, the Sodomites,
and the Egyptians, because the were the enemies of this God (13).
Orsi, t. 2, 1. 3, n. 45; N. Alex. t. 6, c.
3, ar. 6; Baron. Ann. 146, n. 9, &c.; Fleury, t.
l, l. 3, n. 34.
-- Apelles, the most famous disciple of Marcion,
was excommunicated by his master for committing a crime against chastity,
and felt his disgrace so much that he fled to Alexandria. This heretic,
among other errors, said that God created a number of angels and powers,
and among the rest a power called the Lord, who created this world to resemble
the world above, but not being able to bring it to perfection, he repented
him of having created it (14). Van Ranst says that he rejected the Prophecies,
and said the Son of God took a body of air which, at his ascension, dissolved
into air again.
loc. cit. n. 35.
-- Montanus, as Cardinal Orsi tells us (15), was
born in Ardraba, an obscure village of Mysia. He first led such a mortified
life that he was esteemed a saint; but, possessed by the demon of ambition,
his head was turned. He began to speak in an extraordinary manner, make
use of unknown words, and utter prophecies in contradiction to the traditions
of the Church. Some thought him possessed by a spirit of error; others
looked on him as a saint and prophet. He soon acquired a number of followers,
and carried his madness to the utmost excess; among others who joined him
were two loose women of the names of Prisca or Priscilla and Maximilla,
and, seemingly possessed by the same spirit as himself, they uttered the
most extraordinary rhodomontades. Montanus said that he and his prophetesses
received the plenitude of the Holy Ghost, which was only partially communicated
to others, and he quoted in his favour that text of St. Paul (I. Corinthians,
xiii, 9), “By part we know, and by part we prophesy;" and they had
the madness to esteem themselves greater than the apostles, since they
had received the Holy Ghost promised by Jesus Christ in perfection. They
also said that God wished, at first, to save the world, by means of Moses
and the prophets; when he saw that these were not able to accomplish it,
he himself became incarnate; but even this not sufficing, he descended
in the Holy Ghost into Montanus and his prophetesses. He established nine
fasting-days and three Lents in the year. Among other errors he prohibited
his disciples to fly from persecution, and refused to admit sinners to
repentance, and prohibited second marriages (16). Eusebius tells us that
he died miserably, having hanged himself (17).
(15) Orsi, t. 2, l. 4, n. 17.
(16) Euseb. Hist. Eccl. l. 5, c. 15.
(17) Baron. An. 173, n. 20; N. Alex. t. 6, sec. 2, c. 3, ar. 8; Fleury, t. 1, l. 4, n. 5; Bernin. t. l, c. 8; Orsi, t. 2, l. 4, n. 18.
-- The heresy of Montanus shot forth different branches, as the Cataphrigians,
Artotirites, Peputians, Ascodrogites, and Pattalorinchites. The Cataphrigians
were called from the nation to which Montanus belonged. The Eucharistic
bread they used was made of flour and blood taken from the body of an infant
by puncturing it all over; if the infant died he was considered a martyr,
but if he survived, he was regarded as high priest. This we learn from
Noel Alexander (18). The Artotirites were so called, because in the sacrifice
of the Eucharist, they offered up bread and cheese. The Peputians took
their name from an obscure village of Phrigia, where they held their solemn
meetings; they ordained women priests and bishops, saying there was no
difference between them and men. The Ascodrogites were no better than the
ancient bacchanalians; they used bottles which they filled with wine near
the altars, saying that these were the new bottles Jesus Christ spoke of
– “They shall put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved."
The Pattalorinchites were so called, because they wore a small stick in
the mouth or nose, a sign of strict silence; they were so called, from
pattalos, a stick, and rinchos, the nose (19).
Nat. Alex. cit. ar. 8, n. 11; St. Augus. & St.
Cyril. [St. Epiphanius says it is the Peputians.]
(19) Van Ranst, His. Heres. p. 24; Vedia anche Nat. Alex. loc. cit.
-- Bardesanes, a native of Edessa, in Syria, lived
in this age also. He was celebrated in the time of Marcus Aurelius for
his learning and constancy in defending the faith. He told the Philosopher
Apollonius, the favourite of the Emperor, who endeavoured to pervert him,
that he was ready to seal his belief with his blood. He opposed the errors
of Valentine; but, being educated in his school, he was infected with some
of them, especially disbelieving the resurrection of the dead. He wrote
many works in refutation of the heresies of his day, especially an excellent
treatise on fate, which St. Jerome, in his catalogue of ecclesiastical
writers, praises highly. We may truly say, with Noel Alexander, that the
fall of so great a man is to be lamented (20).
Nat. Alex. t. 6, c. 3, ar. 9; Van Ranst, p.
-- Theodotus the Currier, so called
on account of his trade, was a native of Byzantium, and he, along with
Artemon, asserted like Ebion and Cerinthus, that Christ was mere man. Besides
this there was another Theodotus, called Argentarius, or the Banker, who
taught that Melchisadech was Christ, or even greater than Christ, on account
of that verse of the Psalms – “Thou art a priest for ever, according to
the order of Melchisadech;" and his followers were afterwards called
Alex. loc. cit. ar. 10; Fleury, t. 1, l. 4, n.
-- Hermogenes said that matter was uncreated and
eternal. Tertullian, Eusebius, and Lactanctius refuted this error. He also
taught that the devils would hereafter be united with matter and that the
body of Jesus Christ was in the sun (22).
loc. cit. n. 21; N. Alex. loc. cit. ar. 15.
OF THE THIRD CENTURY.
- Praxeas. 2. - Sabellius. 3. - Paul of Samosata. 4. - Manes. 5. - Tertullian.
6. - Origen. 7. - Novatus and Novatian. 8. - Nipos.
The Angelicals and the Apostolicals.
- Praxeas, a native of Phrigia, was at first a Montanist,
but afterwards becoming an enemy of Montanus, he caused him to be condemned
by Pope Zepherinus, concealing his own heresy at the same time. Being soon
discovered, he retracted his opinions, but soon afterwards openly proclaimed
them. He denied the mystery of the Trinity, saying that in God there was
but one person and one nature, which he called the Father. This sole person,
he said, descended into the womb of the Virgin, and being born of her by
means of the incarnation, was called Jesus Christ. According to this impious
doctrine, then, it was the Father who suffered death, and on that account
his followers were called Patripassionists. The most remarkable among his
disciples were Berillus, Noetus, and Sabellius. Berillus was Bishop of
Bostris in Arabia; he said that Christ, before his incarnation, had no
divinity, and in his incarnation had no divinity of his own, but only that
of the Father. Noel Alexander sails says that Origen refuted him, and brought
him back to the Catholic faith (1). Noetus, more obstinate in error, said
that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost were but one person and one
God; he and his followers were cut off from the Church, and, as he died
impenitent, he was refused Christian burial (2). The most celebrated promoter
of this error was Sabellius.
(1) Nat. Alex. t. 7, s. 3, c. 3, ar. 1, ex Euseb.; Van Ranst, p. 65.
(2) Nat. Alex. ibid, c. 3, ar. 7; Van Ranst, p. 48.
2. - Sabellius was born in the Ptolemais in
Africa, and lived in the year 227. He shed a greater lustre, if we may
say so, on the heresy of his master, and on that account this impious sect
was called Sabellians. He denied the distinction of the three persons in
the Trinity, and said they were but three names to distinguish the different
operations of the Divinity. The Trinity, he said, was like the sun, in
which we distinguish the light, the heat, and the form, though the sun
be but one and the same. The light represents the Son, the heat the Holy
Ghost, and the figure or substance of the sun itself the Father, who, in
one person alone, contained the Son and the Holy Ghost (3). This error
we will refute in the last part of the work.
(3) Nat. Alex. t. 7, c. 3, ar. 7; Orsi, t. 2, l. 5, n. 14; Hermant, l. 1, c. 60; Fleury, l. 7, n. 35.
- Paul of Samosata was Bishop of Antioch.
Before his appointment to the see he was poor, but afterwards, by extortion
and sacrilege, by selling justice, and making false promises, he amassed
a great deal of wealth. He was so vain and proud that he never appeared
in public without a crowd of courtiers; he was always preceded by one hundred
servants, and followed by a like number, and his own praises were the only
subjects of his sermons; he not only abused those who did not flatter him,
but frequently also offered them personal violence; and at length his vanity
arrived at such a pitch that he had a choir of courtezans to sing hymns
in his praise in the church; he was so dissolute in his morals that he
had always a number of ladies of lax morals in his train. In fine, this
impious prelate crowned all his crimes with heresy. The first of his blasphemies
was, that Jesus Christ never existed until he was born of the Virgin, and
hence he said he was a mere man; he also said that in Jesus there were
two persons and two sons of God, one by nature and the other by adoption;
he also denied the Trinity of the Divine persons, and although he admitted
the names of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, not, however,
denying, as Orsi thinks, personal existence to the Son and the Holy Ghost,
yet he did not recognize either one or the other as persons of the Trinity,
attributing to the Father alone the incarnation and passion (4). His disciples
inserted those errors in their profession of faith, and in the formula
of Baptism, but N. Alexander says that it is uncertain whether Paul was
the author of this heresy.
(4) Orsi, t. 3, 1. 8, n. 15; Gotti de Vera Rel. t. 2, c. 11, s. 2; N. Alex. t. 7, c. 3, ar. 8, sec. 2; Hermant, t. 1, c. 63; Fleury, t. 2, 1. 8, n. 1.
4. - Manes was the founder of the Manicheans, and
he adopted this name on account of taking to himself the title of the Paraclete,
and to conceal the lowliness of his condition, since he was at first only
a slave in Persia, but was liberated and adopted by an old lady of that
country. She sent him to the public academy to be educated, but he made
little progress in learning. Whatever he wanted in learning he made up
in impudence, and on that account he endeavoured to institute a new sect;
and, to enlist the peasantry under the banner of his heresy, he studied
magic with particular attention. To acquire a name for himself he undertook
to cure the King of Persia's son, who was despaired of by the physicians.
Unfortunately for him, however, the child died, notwithstanding all his
endeavours to save him, and he was thrown into prison, and would have been
put to death only he bribed the guards to let him escape. Misfortune, however,
pursued him: after travelling through various countries, he fell again
into the King's hands, who ordered him to be flayed alive with a sharp-pointed
reed; his body was thrown to the beasts, and his skin hung up in the city
gate, and thus the impious Manes closed his career. He left many followers
after him, among whom was St. Augustin in his youth, but, enlightened by
the Almighty, he abandoned his errors, and became one of his most strenuous
(5) Baron. Ann. 277, ex n. 1; Nat. Alex. t. 7, c. 3, ar. 9, sec. 1.
errors of Manes can be classed under the following heads: 1st.
He admitted the plurality of Gods, alleging that there were two principles,
one of good and the other of evil. Another of his errors was, that man
had two souls -- one bad, which the evil principle created, together with
the body, and another, good, created by the good principle, which was co-eternal,
and of the same nature with God. All the good actions which man performs
he attributes to the good soul, and all the evil ones he commits to the
bad soul. He deprived man of free-will, saying that he was always carried
irresistibly forward by a force which his will could not resist. He denied
the necessity of baptism, and entirely abolished that sacrament. Among
many other errors, the Manicheans detested the flesh, as being created
by the evil principle; and, therefore, denied that Jesus Christ ever took
a body like ours, and they were addicted to every sort of impurity (6).
They spread almost over the entire world, and though condemned by many
Popes, and persecuted by many Emperors, as Dioclesian, Gratian, and Theodosius,
but especially by Justin and Justinian, who caused many of them to be burned
alive in Armenia, still they were not annihilated till the year 1052, when,
as Baronius relates, Henry II., finding some of them lurking in France,
caused them to be hanged. The refutation of this heresy we have written
in the book called the Truth of the Faith (7).
(7) Verita della Fede, part 3, c. 2, sec. 2.
- Tertullian was born, as Fleury (8) relates,
in Carthage, and his father was a centurion in the Pretorian Bands. He
was at first a Pagan, but was converted about the year 197, and was a priest
for forty years, and died at a very advanced age. He wrote many works of
the highest utility to the Church, on Baptism, Penance, Idolatry, on the
Soul, on Proscriptions, and an apology for the Christians, which has acquired
great celebrity. Although in his book on Proscriptions he calls Montanus
a heretic, still, according to the general opinion of authors, he fell
into Montanism himself. Baronius says that he was cut off from the Church,
and excommunicated by Pope Zepherinus (9). Tertullian was a man of the
greatest austerity; he had the greatest veneration for continence; he practised
extraordinary watchings, and on account of a dispute he had with the clergy
of Rome, he attached himself to the Montanists, who, to the most rigid
mortification, joined the belief that Montanus was the Holy Ghost. N. Alexander
proves, on the authority of St. Jerome, St. Hilary, St. Pacianus, St. Optatus,
and St. Augustin, that he asserted the Church could not absolve adulterers,
that those who married a second time were adulterers, and that it was not
lawful to fly from persecution. He called the Catholics, Psichici, or Animals.
Fleury says (10), that Tertullian taught that the soul was a body, of a
palpable form, but transparent, because one of the Prophetesses heard so
in a vision. Both Fleury and Noel Alexander say (11), that he forsook the
Montanists before his death, but a sect, who called themselves Tertullianists
after him, remained in Carthage for two hundred years, until the time of
St. Augustin, when they once more returned to the bosom of the Church.
(8) Fleury, t. 1, l. 4, n. 47.
(9) Baron. Ann. 201, n. 3, & seq. ad. 11; Fleury, t. 1, l. 25 & 26; Orsi, t. 3, l. 8, n. 28.
(10) Fleury, t. 1, 1. 5, n. 25.
(11) Fleury, t. 1, 1. 6, n. 3, cum St. Angus. & Nat. Alex. t. 6, c. 3, ar. 8, n. 9.
- Origen was an Egyptian, and his early days were
spent in Alexandria. His father was St. Leonidas the Martyr, who had him
educated in every branch of sacred and profane literature (12). It is said
his own father held him in the highest veneration, and that often while
he slept he used to kiss his bosom, as the temple where the Holy Ghost
dwelt (13). At the age of eighteen he was made Catechist of the Church
of Alexandria, and he discharged his duties so well that the very pagans
flocked to hear him. Plutarch, who afterwards became an illustrious martyr
of the faith of Christ, was one of his disciples. In the height of the
persecution he never ceased to assist the confessors of Christ, despising
both torments and death. He had the greatest horror of sensual pleasures,
and it is related of him that for fear of offending against chastity, and
to avoid temptation, he mutilated himself, interpreting the 12th verse
of the 19th chapter of St. Matthew in a wrong sense (14). He refuted the
Arabians, who denied the immortality of the soul, and converted Berrillus,
as we have already seen, who denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. He also
converted Ambrose from the errors of the Valentinians. He was so desirous
of martyrdom, that his mother was obliged to take away his clothes, to
prevent him from going to his father, who was in prison for the faith.
All this, however, was to no purpose; he avoided her vigilance, flew to
his father, and when he would not be allowed too speak to him, he exhorted
him by letter to persevere in the faith. At the age of eighteen Prefect
of the studies of Alexandria. When he was composing his Commentaries on
the Scriptures, he dictated to seven or eight amanuenses at the same time.
He edited different editions of the Scriptures, compiling the Tetrapla,
the Hexapla, and the Octapla. The Tetrapla had four columns in each page;
in the first was the version of the seventy, or Septuagint, in the second
that of Aquila, in the third that of Simmachus, and in the fourth that
of Theodotian. The Hexapla had six columns, and, besides the former, contained
the Hebrew text and a Greek translation. Finally, the Octapla contained,
besides the former, two other versions, compiled by some Hebrews. His name
was so famous at that time that all the priests and doctors consulted him
in any difficult matter. Presuming too much on his wisdom, he fell into
different errors, by wishing to interpret many texts of Scripture in a
mystical, rejecting the literal, sense. Those, he says, who adhere to the
letter of the Scripture will never see the kingdom of God (15), hence we
should seek the spirit of the word, which is hidden and mysterious. He
is defended by some; but the majority condemn him, although he endeavoured
to clear himself by saying that he wrote his sentiments merely as opinions,
and subjected them to the judgment of his readers (16).
Alex. t. 7, ar. 12.
(13) Fleury, l. 5, n. 2; Orsi, l. 5, n. 27.
(14) Nat. Alex. t. 7, ar. 12.
(15) Origen, Stromata, l. 10.
(16) Orsi. l. 6, n. 61.
was obliged to go into Achaia, a
country at that time distracted by various heresies. In his journey he
persuaded two bishops of Palestine whom he visited, that it would be of
great service to the Church if he was ordained priest (17). Yielding to
his suggestions they ordained him, and this so displeased Demetrius, Bishop
of Alexandria, that in a council he deposed and excommunicated him. Several
other bishops, however, received him in his misfortunes, and entertained
him honourably. Orsi, on the authority of Eusebius, tells us (18), that,
in the persecution of Decius he was imprisoned a long time, loaded with
irons, and a great iron ring on his neck; and that he was not only tortured
in the legs in a horrible manner, but was likewise put on the rack. Dionisius,
Eusebius says (19), wrote him a letter, or rather a small treatise, to
animate and console him; and from that circumstance, Cardinal Orsi (20)
proves the fallacy of Du Pin's conjecture, that the sentence passed against
him by Demetrius, was enforced under his successors Aracla and Dionisius.
Origen did not long survive the torments he endured in that persecution.
He died in Tyre, in the year 253, the sixty-ninth of his age (21).
(17) Nat. Alex. ibid; Orsi, n. 30.
(18) Orsi, t. 3, 1. 7, n. 33.
(19) Euseb. His. Eccl. 1. 6.
(20) Orsi. t. 3, 1. 7, n. 33.
(21) Orsi, loc. cit.; Hermant, t. 1, c. 68; Bar. Ann. 204, n. 8; V. Ranst, p. 42; Graves, s. 3.
tells us, on the authority of St. Epiphanius (22), (thinking, however,
that this was foisted into St. Epiphanius's works by the enemies of Origen)
that he denied the faith by offering incense to idols, to avoid the indignities
and insults inflicted on him by an Ethiopian, and that he was then freed
from prison, and his life spared. After that he went from Alexandria to
Jerusalem, and at the request of the clergy and people went into the pulpit
to preach. It happened, however, that opening the book of the Psalms, to
explain them, the first words he read were those of the 49th Psalm: “God
said to the sinner, why dost thou declare my justices and take my covenant
into thy mouth?" Struck dumb with sorrow, he began to weep bitterly,
and left the pulpit without saying a word. Not only St. Epiphanius, but
Eusebius (23) before him, bear witness to Origen's fall. Although Bernini
(24) says this story is quite fabulous, yet Petavius, Daniel Uerius, Pagi,
and especially Noel Alexander (25), say it is a fact. Roncaglia (26) is
of opinion that Noel Alexander's arguments are groundless, and that Baronius's
opinion carries more weight with it. We can decide nothing as to the salvation
of Origen, though Baronius says that St. Simeon Salus saw him in hell;
still, all is a mystery known to God alone. We know, however, on the authority
of Baronius, that his doctrine was condemned by Pope Anastasius and Pope
Gelasius, and afterwards by the fifth general council (27).
Istor. t. l, c. 1, p. 125.
(23) Euseb. l. 6; Hist. Eccl. c. 59.
(24) Baron. Ann. 253, n. 117, & seq. cum Graves, loc. cit.
(25) Petav. In Animadv. In St. Epiph. Heres. 64; Heutius, l. 1; Orig. c. 4; Pagius ad an. 251, n. 19; Nat. Alex. t. 7, diss. 15, q. 2, art. unic.
(26) Ronc. Not. In Natal. Loc. cit.
(27) Baron. Ann. 400, &c.
substance of the errors of Origen, as well as I could collect from the
works of Noel Alexander, Fleury, Hermant, Orsi, Van Ranst (who gives a
great deal of information in a small space), and others, was all included
in his Periarchon, or Treatise on Principles. This treatise, Fleury
says, was translated by Rufinus, who endeavoured to correct it as much
as possible. The intent of Origen in this work was to refute Valentine,
Marcion, and Ebion, who taught that men are either essentially good or
essentially wicked. He said that God alone was good and immutable, but
that his creatures were capable of either good or evil, by making use of
their free will for a good purpose, or perverting it for a wicked one.
Another of his opinions was that the souls of men were of the same nature
as the celestial spirits, that is, composed of spirit and matter; that
they were all created before the beginning of the world, but that, as a
punishment for some crimes committed, they were shut up in the sun, moon,
and other planets, and even in human bodies, as it were in a prison, to
punish them for a time; after which, being freed from their slavery by
death, they went to heaven to receive the reward of their virtues, or to
hell to suffer the punishment of their sins, but such rewards and punishments
were not eternal. Hence, he said, the blessed in heaven could be banished
from that abode of happiness for faults committed there, and that the punishment
of the devils and the damned would not last for all eternity, because at
the end of the world Jesus Christ would be again crucified, and they would
participate in the general redemption. He also said that before the creation
of this world there existed many others, and that after this had ceased
to exist many more would be created, for, as God was never idle, so he
never was without a world. He taught many other erroneous opinions; in
fact his doctrine is entirely infected with the maxims of Plato, Pythagoras,
and the Manicheans. Cassiodorus, speaking of Origen, says, I wonder how
the same man could contradict himself so much; for since the days of the
Apostles he had no equal in that part of his doctrine which was approved
of, and no one ever erred more grossly in the part which was condemned.
Cabassutius (28) says, that Pope Gelasius, following the example of Anastatius,
gave this sentence relative to Origen in the Roman council:­ “We
declare that those works of Origen which the blessed Jerome does not reject
can be read, but we condemn all others with their author."
Notit. Hist. Conc. Constsn. II. An. 553, n. 14. in fin.
the death of Origen his followers disturbed the Church very much by maintaining
and propagating his errors. Hermant (29) relates that Pope Anastasius had
a great deal of difficulty in putting down the troubles occasioned by the
Origenists in Rome, who got footing there under the auspices of Melania,
by means of the priest Rufinus. The author of the notes on Fleury, says,
that Anastasius wrote to John of Jerusalem to inform him of how matters
were going on, and that he, on that account, cut off Rufinus from the Church.
In the reign of the Emperor Justinian, some Origenist monks who lived in
a laura founded by St. Saba, under the abbot Nonnus, began to disseminate
their errors among this brethren, and in a short time infected the principal
laura, but were expelled by the abbot Gelasius. Favoured, however, by Theodore
of Cesarea, they got possession of the great laura again, and expelled
the greater part of the monks who disagreed with them. In the meantime,
Nonnus died, and his successor George being deposed for immorality by his
own party, the Catholic monks again got possession of the laura, and elected
Conon, one of this party, abbot (30). Finally, in the twelfth canon of
the second council of Constantinople, both Origen and all those who would
persist in defending his doctrine were condemned (31).
(29) Hermant, t. 1, c, 132.
(30) Orsi, t. 18, 1. 41, n. 1 & 5, ad 7.
(31) Orsi, al luogo cit. n. 70.
An. 254, n. 50.; Nat. t. 7, c. 3, ar. 3, 4;
Fleury, t. 1, l. 6, n. 51.
now come to speak of the character and errors of Novatian. Being possessed
by an evil spirit he was baptized in bed during a dangerous fit of sickness,
and when he recovered he neglected getting the ceremonies of baptism supplied,
and never received confirmation, which, according to the discipline of
the Church in those days, he ought to have received after baptism, and
his followers, for that reason, afterwards rejected this sacrament. He
was afterwards ordained priest, the bishop dispensing in the irregularity
he incurred by being baptized in bed. Hence his ordination gave great umbrage
both to the clergy and people. While the persecution was raging the deacons
begged of him to leave his place of concealment, and assist the faithful,
who were dragged to the place of punishment; but he answered, that he did
not henceforward intend to discharge the duties of a priest; that he had
his mind made up for other objects. This was nothing less than the Popedom,
which he had the ambition to pretend to, puffed up by the applause he received
for his ora­torical powers. At this time, Cornelius was elected
Pope, and he, by intrigue, got himself consecrated privately by three ignorant
bishops whom he made intoxicated. Thus he was the first anti-Pope who ever
raised a schism in the Church of Rome. But what will not ambition do? While
he administered the Eucharist to his partizans, he exacted an oath from
each of them, saying, "Swear to me, by the blood of Jesus Christ,
that you will never leave my party and join Cornelius" (33).
(33) Nat. loc. cit.; Baron. n. 61, &c.
errors of Novatus and Novatian were the following:-- they denied that the
Church could use any indulgence with those who became idolaters through
fear of persecution, or that she could grant pardon for any mortal sin
committed after baptism, and they denied the sacrament of confirmation.
Like the Montanists, they condemned second marriages, and refused communion
on the point of death to those who contracted them (34).
Alex. ibid; Van Ranst, p. 45, 46; Fleury, cit. n. 51; Hermant,
t. l. c. 48, 51.
8. - These were not the only heretics who
disturbed the Church during this century. Nipos, an Egyptian bishop, about
the year 284, again raked up the errors of the Millenarians, taking the
promise of the Apocalypse in a literal sense, that Jesus Christ would reign
on earth for the space of a thousand years, and that the saints should
enjoy all manner of sensual delights. The Angelicals offered the supreme
adoration which should be given to God alone, to the angels; adored them
as the creators of the world, and pretended to lead angelic lives themselves.
The Apostolicals said it was not lawful for any one to possess property
of any sort, and that the riches of this life were an insurmountable obstacle
to salvation. These heretics received no married persons into this sect
(35) Nat. Alex. t. 7, c. 3, ar. 6,
9; Van Ranst, p, 47 & 64; Berti, t. 1, s. 3, c.
OF THE FOURTH CENTURY.
ARTICLE I. SCHISM AND HERESY OF THE DONATISTS.
2. - Schism. 3. - Heresy. 4, 5. - Confutation of St. Augustin. Circumcellionists.
6. - Conference commanded by Honorius. 7. - Death of St. Marcellinus, and
Council of Carthage.
- In order properly to understand the history
of the Donatists, we must separate the schism from the heresy, for they
were at first schismatics before they were heretics. Donatus the first
was the author of the schism; a second Donatus was the father of the heresy,
and he was called by his followers Donatus the Great. In the beginning
of the fourth century, Mensurius, Bishop of Carthage, was cited before
the tyrant Maxentius on the charge of concealing in his house a deacon
of the name of Felix, the author of a libel on the Emperor. Mensurius went
to Rome to defend himself, and died on his way home. Cecilianus was elected
by the general voice of the people to fill the vacant see, and was consecrated
by Felix, Bishop of Aphthongum and other prelates. His opponents immediately
began to question the validity of his consecration, because it was performed
by those bishops called traitors (traditores), who deli­vered
up the Scriptures to the pagans. Another charge made against him was that
he prohibited the faithful from supplying the confessors in the prisons
with food. At the head of this conspiracy was a bishop of an African city,
called “the Black Houses," whose name was Donatus; and it was very
much strengthened by the intrigues of Lucilla, a Spanish lady then residing
in Carthage. Cecilianus happened to come into collision with her while
he was yet a deacon, because he reprimanded her for paying the veneration
due to a holy martyr to a certain dead man, whose sanctity was never recognized
by the Church. To revenge herself on him for this, she became the soul
of the conspiracy, and by the influence of her wealth brought over to her
party many of the bishops of Africa, who, uniting together in council,
under the presidency of the secondary primate of Numidia, deposed Cecilianus
in his absence, and elected a domestic of Lucilla's in his place, of the
name of Majorinus, who was consecrated by Donatus (1).
(1) Baron. Ann. 303, n. 29, & Ann. 306, n. 74 & 75; vide Fleury, Nat. Alex. Orsi, Van Ranst, & Hermant.
- Notwithstanding all this
persecution, Cecilianus remained steadfast in the faith which obliged the
Donatists to have recourse to the Emperor Constantine. He referred the
entire matter to St. Melchiades, the reigning Pope, who, in the year 315,
or according to others, in 316, assembled a council of nineteen bishops,
and declared both the innocence of Cecilianus and the validity of his consecration.
The Donatists were discontented with this decision, and again appealed
to the Emperor; he used every means to pacify them, but seeing them determined
to keep up the schism, he ordered Elianus, pro-consul of Africa, to investigate
the matter, and find out whether the crime laid to the charge of Felix
who consecrated Cecilianus (that of delivering up the Scriptures to the
idolators), was true. The conspirators, aware that this investigation was
to take place, bribed a notary of the name of Ingentius, to prove a falsehood;
but in his examination before the Pro-consul, he acquitted both Felix and
Cecilianus. The Emperor being informed of this was satisfied as to their
innocence; but in order to appease the Donatists, and give them no cause
of complaint, he caused another council to be convoked at Arles, to which
St. Silvester, who succeeded St. Melchiades in the year 314, sent his legate
to preside in his name; and in that and the following year, Felix and Cecilianus
were again acquitted by the council (2).
(2) Hermant, c. 78, &c.
3. - Nothing, however, could satisfy the Donatists; they even, according to Fleury (3), extended themselves as far as Rome. Heresy now was added to schism. The second Donatus, called by them Donatus the Great, put himself at their head; and although tinctured with the Arian heresy, as St. Augustin says (4), intruded himself into the See of Carthage, as successor to Majorinus. He was the first who began to disseminate the errors of the Donatists in Africa (5). Those consisted in the adoption of one false principle, which was the source of many others. This was that the Church was composed of the just alone, and that all the wicked were excluded from it; founding this belief on that text of St. Paul, where he says that the Church of Christ is free from all stain: “Christ loved his Church, and delivered himself up for it, that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle " (Ephesians, v. 27). They also professed to find this doctrine in the twenty-seventh verse of the twenty-first chapter of the Apocalypse: “There shalt not enter into it anything defiled.” The adoption of this erroneous principle led them into many heretical consequences: -- First, believing that the Church was composed of the good alone, they inferred that the Church of Rome was lost, because the Pope and bishops having admitted to their communion traitors, or those who delivered up the holy books into the hands of the Pagans, as they alleged Felix and Cecilianus to have done, and as the sour leaven corrupteth the entire mass, then the Church, being corrupted and stained by the admission of those, was lost, it only remained pure in that part of Africa where the Donatists dwelt; and to such a pitch did their infatuation arrive, that they quoted Scripture for this also, interpreting that expression of the Canticles, “Shew me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou liest in the mid-day," (the south), as relating to Africa, which lies in the southern part of the world. Another heretical inference of theirs was, that the sacrament of baptism was null and void if administered out of their Church, because a Church that was lost had not the power of administering the sacrament, and on that account they re-baptized all proselytes.
(3) Fleury, t. 2, l. 10, n. 26.
(4) St. Augus. l. de Heres. c. 69
(5) Orsi, t. 4, l. 11, n. 51 & 52.
- These two heretical opinions
fall to the ground at once, by proving the falsity of the first proposition,
that the Church consists of the good alone. St. Augustin proves clearly
that texts of St. Paul and St. John, refer to the triumphant and not to
the militant Church, for our Redeemer, speaking of the militant Church,
says, in many places, it contains both good and bad; in one place he likens
it to a threshing floor, which contains both straw and grain: “He will
thoroughly cleanse his floor, and gather his wheat into the barn, but the
chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire" (Matt. iii, 12). In another
place he compares it to a field sown with good seed, and cockle growing
amongst it: “Let both grow" he says, “till the time of the harvest,
and then I will say to the reapers, Gather up first the cockle and bind
it into bundles to burn, but gather the wheat into my barn" (Matt.
xiii, 3) (6).
(6) Nat. Alex. t. 9, diss. 31.
- The Donatists were not content with the crime of heresy, but committed
a thousand others, if possible of a deeper dye. They destroyed the altars
of the Catholics, broke the chalices, spilled the holy Chrism on the ground,
and threw the holy Eucharist to the dogs. But St. Optatus Milevitanus (7)
informs us that God did not suffer the indignity to his sacred body and
blood to go unpunished, for the dogs getting mad turned on their own masters,
and tore them, as if in revenge for the insult offered to the body of Jesus
Christ. Not satisfied with tormenting the living, they outraged the dead,
whom they dragged out of their graves, and exposed to the most unheard-of
indignities. About this time, also, the Circumcellionists sprung from the
Donatists. Their chiefs were Faber and Maxidus, and they were called Circumcellionists
from running about from town to town and house to house. They were called
by Donatus the chiefs of the saints; they boasted that they were the redressors
of all wrong and injustice through the world, though nothing could be more
unjust than their own proceedings. They gave liberty to slaves, and commanded
debtors not to pay their debts, telling them they were freed from all obligation.
Their cruelty equalled their fanaticism, for they went about in armed bands,
and put to death those who did not become proselytes to their doctrine;
but what was more astonishing than all was to see this fury turned against
themselves, for many of them committed suicide by throwing themselves over
precipices, some cast themselves into the fire, others drowned themselves,
or cut their throats, and endeavoured to induce others to follow their
example, telling them that all who died so were martyrs; even women followed
the example of their husbands in this madness, and St. Augustin tells us
that even some, in a state of pregnancy, threw themselves down precipices.
It is true that even the Donatist bishops endeavoured by every means to
put a stop to such frightful fanaticism, and even called in the authority
of the secular power to aid them, but they could not deny that they were
their own disciples, and that they became the victims of such perverse
doctrines from following their own example (8).
(7) St. Opt. L. 2, de Donatis.
(8) Baron. An. 357, n. 15; v. Ranst; Fleury, t. 2, l. 11, n. 46; Hermant, c. 81.
- The Emperors Constantine
and Constans, sons of Constantine the Great and Valentinian, issued several
edicts against the Donatists, but all was of little avail. In the reign
of Honorious an edict was published, giving liberty to all sects to profess
publicly their doctrines, but about the year 410 the Donatists, taking
advantage of this, broke out into several acts of violence, which so exasperated
Honorious that, at the suggestion of the Catholic bishops of Africa, he
revoked the edict. He then published that law (L. 51, Codox Theodosianus),
which punishes with confiscation of property the practice of any religion
except the Catholic, and even with pain of death if the professors of any
heretical doctrines should publicly assemble in their conventicles. In
order, however, entirely to extinguish the heresy of Donatus, he sent the
Imperial Tribune, Marcellinus, a man of the greatest learning and prudence,
into Africa, with orders to assemble all the African bishops, both Catholics
and Donatists, in Carthage, to proceed to a conference to see who was right
and who was wrong, that peace should be established between them. The Donatists
at first refused to come, but the edicts of Honorius were too strict to
be avoided, and they consented, and the conference was held in the Baths
of Gazilian. Two hundred and eighty-six Catholics and two hundred and seventy-nine
Donatists assembled, but Marcellinus, to avoid confusion, would allow only
thirty-six, eighteen on each side, to hold the conference, these eighteen
to be chosen from among all the rest. The schismatics refused to obey the
regulations of Marcellinus, and used every stratagem to avoid coming to
the point; especially they endeavoured to cushion the question concerning
the true Church, but, with all their art, they were, one day, drawn into
it, and, seeing themselves caught, they could not help lamenting, saying,
see how insensibly we have got into the bottom of the case. Then it was
that St. Augustin, as we have already shown, proved clearer than the noon-day
sun that the Church is not composed of the good alone, as the Donatists
would have it, but of the good and the bad, as the threshing floor contains
both corn and chaff. Finally, after many disputations, Marcellinus gave
his decision in favor of the Catholics (9).
t. 11, l. 25, n. 1, 24; Baron. Ann. 411, n.
- Many were united to the
Church, but many more persisted in their errors, and appealed to Honorius,
who would not even admit them to an audience, but condemned to a heavy
fine all those who would not join the Catholic Church, and threatened to
banish all the Donatist bishops and priests who would persist in their
opposition to his decree. Nothing could exceed their malice against the
Catholics after that; they murdered the defender of the Church, Restitutus
(10), and plotted with the Count Marinus the destruction of Marcellinus.
The means by which Marinus accomplished this were horrible. He caused St.
Marcellinus to be imprisoned on a charge of high treason, alleging that
he was one of the chief promoters of the rebellion of Heraclian, which
he was most innocent of, and although he swore to his friend Cecilianus
that he would liberate both St. Marcellinus and his brother Aprinius from
prison, he ordered him the next day to be taken out to a lonesome place,
and beheaded. Cardinal Orsi proves this on the authority Orosius, St. Jerome,
and St. Augustin. Thus Marcellinus died a martyr, but Marinus was punished
for his injustice, being shortly after recalled by Honorius, and stripped
of all his honours. In the Council of Carthage, in 348, or, as Hermant
(11) has it, in 349, the Catholic bishops of Africa assembled in great
numbers to thank the Almighty for putting an end to this sect, and the
schismatical bishops then joined them. In this council it was prohibited
to re-baptize those who were baptized in the faith of the Trinity, in opposition
to the erroneous opinion of the Donatists, who declared the baptism administered
out of their communion invalid. It was also forbidden to honour as martyrs
those who killed themselves, and they were allowed the rites of burial
through compassion alone. Cardinal Baronius says that this sect lasted
till the time of Gregory the Great, who endeavoured to put an end to it
altogether, and he also says that those heretics were the cause of the
ruin of the Church of Africa (12).
(10) Baron. An. 412, n. l, &c.; Orsi, n. 28, 29.
(11) Hermant, c. 99.
(12) Baron. An. 591, &c.
ARTICLE II. THE ARIAN HERESY
OF ARIUS, AND HIS CONDEMATION BY THE COUNCIL OF NICE.
- Origin of Arius. 9. - His Errors and Supporters. 10. - Synod of Bythynia.
11. - Synod of Osius in Alexandria. 12. - General Council of Nice. 13.
- Condemnation of Arius. 14. - 16. - Profession of Faith. 17. - Exile of
Eusebius of Nicomedia, and insidious Letter of Eusebius of Cesarea. 18.
- Banishment of Arius. 19. - Decree for the Meletians. 20. - Decree for
the Quartodecimans. 21. - Canons. 22. - End of the Council.
-- Arius was an African, born in that part of it called Lybia Cirenaica,
and he went to Alexandria in the expectation of obtaining some ecclesiastical
dignity. He was, as Baronius tells us, a man of great learning and science--of
polished manners, but of a forbidding appearance--ambitious of glory, and
fond of novelty (1). At first he was a follower of Meletius, Bishop of
Lycopolis, in Upper Egypt. This bishop, in the beginning of the fourth
century, though he taught nothing contrary to faith, still was deposed
by St. Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, on account of many grievous crimes,
one of which even was idolatry (2); and he then raised a great schism in
Egypt against St. Peter, and went so far as to administer the ordination
belonging by right to the Saint. Arius judged that he would have no great
chance of advancing himself according to his wishes, by continuing a partizan
of Meletius, so he made his submission to St. Peter, and was ordained deacon
by him; but he, finding that he still continued to correspond with Meletius,
turned him out of Alexandria. St. Peter was soon after put in prison for
the faith, and about to be martyred. Arius endeavoured again to be received
by him; and it was then, as Baronius(3) tells us, on the authority of the
Acts of the martyrdom of St. Peter, that Christ appeared to the Saint with
a torn garment, and said to him: "Arius has torn this; take heed lest
you receive him into your communion." Alexander has strong doubts
of the truth of this vision(4); but his arguments are not convincing, and
it has been admitted into the Roman Breviary on the 26th of
November, the feast of St. Peter. Arius, for all that, was promoted to
the priesthood by Achilla, who succeeded St. Peter, martyred in 311, and
got the charge of a parochial church called Baucal (5), in Alexandria.
On the death of Achilla, Arius, who was now, as Fleury tells us, advanced
in years, expected to succeed him; but St. Alexander was chosen, a man
of great knowledge and most exemplary life. Arius began immediately to
censure his conduct and condemn his doctrine, saying that he falsely taught
that the Word, the Son of God, was equal to the Father, begotten by him
from all eternity, and of the same nature and substance as the Father,
which, he said, was the heresy of Sabellius. He then began to promulgate
the following blasphemies:-- 1. That the Word was not from all eternity,
but was brought forth out of nothing by the Father, and created, the same
as one of ourselves; and, 2ndly, that Christ, according to his free will,
was of a mutable nature, and that he might have followed vice, but that,
as he embraced goodness, God, as a reward for his good works, made him
a participator in the divine nature, and honoured him with the title of
the Word, the Son, and of Wisdom (6). Noel Alexander says that these errors
are taken from an impious work he wrote, called Thalia, and from an Epistle
of his to St. Alexander, referred to by St. Athanasius, and from the Synodical
Epistle of Council of Nice, quoted by Socrates, St. Epiphanius, and Theodoret.
Noel Alexander also says, on the authority of St. Athanasius and Theodoret,
that he taught that the Word in the Incarnation took a body without a soul,
and that the soul was part of the divinity.
(1) Baron. An. 319; Van Ranst, p. 70; Nat. Alex.
t. 8, c. 3, ar. 3; Fleury, l. 10; Hermant,
t. l. c. 85; Orsi, l. 12, n. 2.
(2) Nat. ibid, ar. 2; St. Athan. cum. Socrat. & Theodoret; Orsi, l. 12, n. 41; Fleury, l. 11, n. 15.
(3) Baron. An. 310, n. 4 & 5.
(4) N. Alex. t. 8, diss. 9.
(5) St. Epip. Her. 69, Theod. &c.
(6) Nat. Alex. ar. 3, sec. 2; Fleury, cit. n. 28; Baron. An. 315, n. 19 & 20; Hermant c. 84.
-- Arius began at first privately to teach his errors; but he soon became
so bold that he publicly preached them in his parish. St. Alexander at
first tried to bring him back by admonition, but, finding that of no avail,
he had recourse to more rigorous measures; and as some bishops were even
then tainted with his heresy--especially Secundus of Ptolemais, and Theonas
of Marmorica--he convoked a synod in Alexandria, in 320, at which nearly
one hundred bishops from Lybia and Egypt assembled, besides a great number
of priests. Arius was called before them, and publicly professed his errors;
so the assembled Fathers excommunicated him and his adherents, and St.
Alexander wrote from the synod an encyclical letter, giving, an account
of it to all the bishops of the Church (7). Notwithstanding this, Arius
only became more obstinate, and made many proselytes, both men and women;
and Theodoret says (8) he seduced several of his female followers. He then
put himself under the protection of Eusebius of Nicomedia, a powerful and
learned, but wicked, man, who left his own bishopric of Beyrout, and intruded
himself into the see of Nicomedia, through the influence of Constantia,
the sister of Constantine. He wrote to St. Alexander, requesting him to
receive Arius again into his communion; but the Holy Patriarch not only
refused his request, but obliged Arius and all his followers to quit Alexandria
(7) N. Alex. ar. 4. s. 1; Fleury, ibid;
Hermant, c. 86; Orsi.
(8) Theodoret, l. 1, c. 4.
(9) Socrat. l. 1, c. 6; Orsi, n. 9; Fleury, loc. cit.
-- Arius then went to Palestine, and succeeded in seducing several bishops
of that and the neighbouring provinces, especially Eusebius of Cesarea,
Aezius of Lidda or Hospolis, Paulinus of Tyre, Gregory of Beiroot, Athanasius
of Anazarbus, and Theodotus of Laodicea. When St. Alexander heard of this,
he complained very much of it, and wrote to several of the bishops of Palestine,
who yielded to his advice, and forsook Arius. He then took refuge with
his friend Eusebius of Nicomedia, and there he wrote his book called Thalia,
interlarding it with low jests, to take the common people, and with all
his blasphemies against the faith, to instil into the minds of every class
the poison of his heresy (10). Eusebius called together a synod in Bythinia
of bishops favourable to Arius, who wrote to several other bishops to interfere
with St. Alexander to receive him again to his communion, but the saint
was inflexible (11).
(10) St. Athan. Apol. 15.
(11)Orsi, l. 12, n. 16; Fleury, l. 10, n. 37.
-- About this time Constantine gained the victory over Licinius, which
gave him peaceable possession of the empire; but when he came to Nicomedia
he was afflicted to hear of the dissensions between St. Alexander and Arius
and the bishops of the East. Eusebius of Nicomedia, who had the first story
for the Emperor, told him it was a matter of no great importance altogether,
and did not touch on the integrity of the faith, and that all that was
requisite was that both sides should be silent. So, to believe that Jesus
Christ was either God or a simple creature was a matter of trifling importance;
but this has always been the aim of heretics, to make it appear that the
dogmas they impugned were of no great consequence. The Emperor being thus
deceived, wrote to St. Alexander (12), telling him it was unwise to disturb
the Church after this manner, and that the wisest way would be to hold
his tongue, and leave every one to follow his own opinions. The disturbance
in the East, however, only increased; so that, at length, Osius, Bishop
of Cordova, in Spain for thirty years, a man of the greatest merit and
learning, and who suffered a great deal in the persecution of Maximilian,
was sent to put an end to it. Baronius and Van Ranst say he was sent by
St. Sylvester; but the general opinion, which Fleury and Noel Alexander,
on the authority of Socrates, Eusebius, Sozymen, and Theodoret adopt, is
that he was sent by the Emperor (13). When Osius arrived in Alexandria,
and saw that the evil was greater than he imagined, he summoned a synod
of bishops in concert with St. Alexander, and Arius and followers were
again excommunicated, and his errors condemned (14).
(12) Euseb. in Vit. Costant. c. 63.
(13) Baron. An. 518, n. 88; Fleury, n. 42; Van Ranst, p. 71.
(14) N. Alex. ar. 4, sec. 1; Fleury, l. 10, n. 43; Orsi, l. 12, n. 21; Hermant, l. 1, c. 86.
-- After this new condemnation, Arius wrote to the Emperor in his defence;
but Constantine, now informed of his errors, answered him in a long letter,
in which, after refuting his errors, he proved him to be a malicious fool,
and he also ordered that this letter should be made public. The Arians
were so annoyed at this that they pelted the Emperor's statue, and disfigured
the face of it; but he showed his good sense, and proved himself a man
of great moderation, on the occasion, for when his ministers urged him
to punish them, he, laughing, put his hand to his face, and said, “I don't
perceive they have hurted me," and took no more notice of the matter
(15). The fire of discord was not, however, extinguished, but rather burned
more violently every day. The Emperor then judged it best to call together
a general council, to put an end to it; and appointed Nice, in Bythinia,
not Nice, in Thrace, as the place of meeting, and invited all bishops--both
those of the empire, and those beyond its bordors--to assemble there, and
provided for all their expenses (16). The bishops of Asia, Africa, and
Europe were rejoiced at this, and came to the council; so that, in the
year 325, three hundred and eighteen bisbops were assembled in Nice, as
Noel Alexander asserts, on the authority of St. Ambrose, in contradiction
to Eusebius, who reduces the number to two hundred and fifty (17). Oh,
how glorious it was for the Church to see so many pastors assembled in
this council! Among them were many prelates bearing on their persons the
marks of persecution suffered for the faith, especially St. Paphnutius,
bishop in the Thebaid, whose right eye was plucked out, and his left hand
burned, in the persecution of Maximillian; St. Paul, Bishop of Neoceserea,
who, by order of Licinius, lost the use of both hands, the sinews being
burned with a red iron; St. Potamon, Bishop of Thrace, whose right eye
also was torn out for the faith; and many other ecclesiastics, who were
tortured by the idolaters (18).
(15) Orsi, l. 12, n. 24.
(16) Fleury, l. 11, n. 1; Orsi, l. 12, n. 25.
(17) Baron. Ann. 325; Nat. Alex., Fleury, Ruf. Soc. St. Athanasius, & Soz.
(18) Theodoret, l. 1, c. 7; Fleury, & Orsi.
-- St. Sylvester seconded the pious intention of the Emperor, and assented
to the council; and as his advanced age did not permit hime to attend in
person, he sent, as his legates, Vito and Vicentius, Roman priests, and
Osius, Bishop of Cordova, to preside in his place, and regulate the sessions
(19). Tillemont, in his history, at the year 325, doubts if Osius presided
at this council; but not alone all the authors cited speak of him as president,
but MaClaine, the English annotator of Mosheim, allows the fact. St. Athanasius
calls Osius the chief and leader of the synod (20); and Gelasius Cizicenus,
the historian of the fifth century, speaking of the Nicene Council, says
Osius held the place of Sylvester, and, along with Vito and Vincentius,
was present at that meeting. On the 19th of June, 325, the synod was opened
in the great church of Nice, as Cardinal Orsi (21), following the general
opinion, relates. The session, he says, held in the palace, in presence
of Constantine, was not, as Fleury believes, the first but the last one
(22). The first examination that was made of the errors of Arius, who,
by Constantines orders, was present in Nice; and being called on to give
an account of his faith, he vomited forth, with the greatest audacity,
those blasphemies he before preached, saying, that the Son of God did not
exist from all eternity, but was created from nothing, just like any other
man, and was mutable, and capable virtue or vice. The holy bishops hearing
such blasphemies--for all were against him with the exception of twenty-two,
friends of his, which number was afterwards reduced to five, and finally
to two--stopped their ears with horror, and, full of holy zeal, exclaimed
against him (23). Notwithstanding this, the council wished that his propositions
should be separately examined; and it was then that St. Athanasius--brought
from Alexandria, by his bishop, St. Alexander--showed forth his prowess
against the enemies of the faith, who marked him from that out, and persecuted
him for the rest of his life. A letter of Eusebius of Nicomedia was read
in the council, from which it appeared that he coincided in his opinions
with Arius. The letter was publicly torn in his presence, and he was covered
with confusion. The Eusebian party, notwithstanding, ceased not to defend
the doctrine of Arius; but they contradicted one another, and, by their
very answers, showed the inconsistency of their opinions (24).
(19) Socrat. l. 1, c. 3; N. Alex. Orsi,
(20) St. Athan. Apol. de Fuga.
(21) Orsi, n. 22, infra.
(22) Fleury, l. 11, n. 10.
(24) Socrat. l. 2, c. 8.
-- The Arians were asked by the Catholics: If they admitted that the Son
was in every thing like the Father--if he was his image--if he always existed--if
he was unchangeable--if he was subsistent in the Father--if he was the
power of God--if he was true God. At first the Arian party were undecided,
whether they should admit all or only part of these terms; but the Eusebians,
having whispered a while among themselves, agreed to admit them all. They
could grant he was like the Father, they argued, and his image, since it
is written in St. Paul (I Cor. 11. 7), “that man is the image and glory
of God;” they might say he was subsistent in the Father, since, in the
Acts, xvii, 28, it is written, “in him we live, and move, and be;"
that he always existed, since it is written of us (II. Cor. iv, 11), “For
we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus's sake," so
that even we have always existed in the power and mind of God; that he
was immutable, since it is written that nothing could separate us from
the charity of God, "Nor life nor death shall be able to separate
us from the love of God"--­the power of God, for even soothsayers
are called the power of God--the true God, for the Son of God, by his merits,
he was made God, a name sometimes given unto men: “I said you are Gods"
(John, x, 34) (25).
(25) Fleury, al loc. cit. con St. Athan.
The Fathers of the Council, seeing how they thus distorted the Scriptures,
and gave their own meaning to the texts, judged it necessary to avail themselves
of a word which would remove all doubts, and could not be explained away
by their adversaries, and this word was "consubstantial," which
they considered as necessary to be introduced into the profession of faith,
using the Greek word “omousion,” the meaning of which is that the Son is
not only like but is the very thing, the very substance, with the Father,
as our Saviour himself says--“I and the Father are one" (John, x,
30). The Arians stoutly refused to admit this expression, for that one
word did away with all subterfuges, and knocked away the last prop on which
this heresy rested; they made, therefore, many objections, but all were
overruled. We shall treat more fully of this in the third part of the work,
The Theological Refutation of Errors.
-- The Emperor, Cardinal Orsi says, was anxious to be present at the last
session of this synod, and wished it to be held in his palace, and came
from Nicomedia to Nice for that purpose. When he entered the assembly,
some discontented bishops handed him memorials, accusing their colleagues,
and appealing to his judgement; but he ordered them to be burnt, making
use of those remarkable expressions quoted by Noel Alexander (26), “God
has made you priests, and has given you power even to judge ourselves,
and we are properly judged by you, for you are given to us by God as Gods
on this earth, and it is not meet that man should judge Gods." He
refused to sit down on the low seat he had prepared for himself in the
council until the bishops desired him; he then sat down, and all the bishops
with his permission also took their seats (27). One of the fathers of the
council--it is generally supposed Eustachius, Bishop of Antioch (28)--then
arose and delivered an oration, in which he praised the Emperor's zeal,
and gave God thanks for his vic­tories. Constantine then spoke
(29): It afforded him, he said, the greatest consolation to see so many
fathers thus united in the same sentiments; he recommended peace to them,
and gave every one liberty to speak his mind; he praised the defenders
of the faith, and reproved the temerity of the Arians. The fathers then
framed the decree in the following form, as Cabassutius gives it (30):--“We
believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of all things visible
and invisible; and in One Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only
begotten of the Father; God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God,
born, not made, consubstantial to the Father by whom all things were made
in heaven and in earth; who for us died, for our salvation descended, became
incarnate and was made man; he suffered and rose again the third day, and
ascended into heaven, and again shall come to judge the quick and the dead;
and in the Holy Ghost." This symbol, St. Athanasius says (31), was
composed by Osius, and was recited in the synod. The council then fulminated
an anathema against any one who should say there was a time when the Son
of God did not exist, or that he did not exist before he was born, or that
he was made of those things that exist not; or should assert that he was
of any other substance or essence, or created, or mutable, or convertible.
All who speak thus of the Son of God, the Catholic and Apostolic Church
(26) N. Alex. ar. 4, sec. 2; Rufin.; Theodoret,
(27) Fleury, l. 11, n. 10.
(28) Theod, l. 1, c. 7.
(29) Euseb. in vita Const. c. 12.
(30) Cabass. Not. Concil. p. 88, ex St. Athan. Socrat Rufin. & Theod.
(31) St. Athan. His. Arian. n. 42.
says (32), that the council then added to the hymn; "Glory be to the
Father, &c," the words, “As it was in the beginning, is now, and
ever shall be, for ever, and ever, Amen."
(32) Baron. Ann. 325, n. 173.
-- The bishops of the opposite side were, as we have already seen, twenty-two
at first, but they were reduced, as Sozymen (33) says, to seventeen; and
even these, terrified by the threats of Constantine, and fearing to lose
their sees, and be banished, all gave in with the exception of five (34);
these were Eusebius of Nicomedia; Thegonis of Nice; Maris of Chalcedon;
Theonas of Marmorica; and Secundus of Ptolemais; and of these, three finally
yielded, and the two first alone remained obstinate, and were deposed and
banished (35). But while we condemn the temerity of those, we must acknowledge
that they were more sincere than their colleagues, who subscribed the decrees,
but were afterwards persecutors of the council and the Catholics. Eusebius
of Cesarea especially merits reprobation on this score, for writing to
his diocesans, as Socrates tells us (36), and publishing the formula of
faith promulgated by the council, he says that he subscribed it merely
for peace sake, and states, among other falsehoods, that the council approved
the formula handed in by Eusebius of Nicomedia, when the fact was that
it was not only rejected, but torn in pieces; that the word "consubstantial”
was inserted to please the Emperor,
when it was inserted by the fathers after the most mature deliberation,
as a touchstone to distinguish the Catholics from the Arians. The fathers,
he adds, in adopting this word intended merely to signify that the Son
was of the Father, and not as a substantial part of him; and that the words
born and not made, merely meant that he was not made like
other creatures, who were afterwards created by him, but of a more excellent
nature. He concludes by saying that the council anathematized any one who
would assert that the Son was made from nothing, and that he did not exist
before he was born, in as far as such expressions are not found to be used
in the Scriptures, and likewise because the Son, before he was generated,
though he did not exist, was nevertheless existing potentialiter,
as theologians say, in the Father, who was potentialiter from all
eternity the creator of all things. Besides the proof afforded by this
letter of his opinion, St. Jerome (37) says, that every one knows that
Eusebius was an Arian. The fathers of the seventh synod, in the sixth Actio,
declare “ no one is ignorant that Eusebius Pamphilius, given over to a
reprobate cause, holds the same opinions as those who follow the impiety
of Arius." Valois remarks that this may have been said inci­dentally
by the fathers, but Juenin (38) on the contrary proves that the synod came
to this decision, after a strict examination of the arguments taken from
(33) Sozyman, l. 1, c. 28.
(34) Socrat. l. 1, c. 8.
(35) Fleury, l. 11, n. 24; Orsi, t. 5, l. 12, n. 54.
(36) Orsi, ibid.
(37) St. Hieron. Epist. ad Ctesiphont.
(38) Juenin, Theol. t. 3, ar. 4, sec. 1.
-- Though Arius was abandoned by all except the two obstinate bishops,
he still continued to defend his errors, so he was excommunicated by the
council, and banished to Illiria, together with his partisans, by Constantine.
All his writings, and especially the infamous Thalia, were likewise condemned
by the Emperor and the council, and the Emperor published a circular or
decree through the entire empire, ordering the writings of Arius to be
every where burned, and denouncing the punishment of death against any
one who would controvert this order (39).
(39) Fleury, t. 2, l. 11, n. 24;
Orsi, t. 5, l. 12, n, 42.
-- The council having disposed of Arius, next suspended Meletius, Bishop
of Lycopolis, from all his episcopal functions, and especially from ordaining
any one; but ordered, at the same time, that all his followers should be
admitted to the communion of the Church on condition of renouncing his
schism and doctrine (40).
(40) N. Alex. ar. 4, sec. 2.
-- The council likewise arranged the question of the celebration of Easter,
which then made a great noise in Asia, by ordering that in future it should
be celebrated not in the Jewish style, on the fourteenth day of the moon
but according to the Roman style, on the Sunday after the fourteenth day
of the moon, which falls after the vernal equinox. This the council declared
was not a matter of faith, but discipline (41); for whenever it speaks
of articles of faith as opposed to the errors of Arius, the words, “This
the church believes," are used, but in making this order, the words
are, "We have decreed, &c." This decree met with no opposition,
but as we learn from the circular of Constantine, was embraced by all the
Churches (42), and it is thought that the council then adopted the cycle
of nineteen years invented by Meto, an Athenian astronomer, for fixing
the lunations of each year, as every nineteenth year the new moon falls
on the same day of the solar year as it did nineteen years before (43).
(41) St. Athan. de Synod, n. 5; Nat. Alex. ar.
4, sec. 2.
(42) Euseb. His. l. 3, c. 18, & Socrat. l. 1, c. 9.
(43) Orsi, t. 5, l. 12, n. 42.
-- The council next decreed twenty canons of discipline; we shall mention
some of the principal ones. 1st. The council excludes from the
clergy, and deposes, all those who have voluntarily made themselves eunuchs,
in opposition to the heresy of the Valerians, who were all eunuchs; but
more especially to condemn those who justified and followed the example
of Origen, through love of chastity (44). By the third canon, the clergy
are prohibited from keeping in their houses any woman unless a mother,
a sister, an aunt, or some person from whom no suspicion can arise. It
was the wish of the council to establish the celibacy of bishops, priests,
and deacons, and sub-deacons even, according to Sozymen, but they were
turned from this by St. Paphnutius, who forcibly contended that it was
quite enough to decree that those already in holy orders should not be
allowed to marry, but that it would be laying too heavy an obligation on
those who were married before they were admitted to ordination, to oblige
them to separate themselves from their wives. Cardinal Orsi, however, says
(45), that the authority of Socrates is not sufficient to establish this
fact, since both St. Epiphanius, who lived in the time of the council,
and St. Jerome (46), who was born a few years after, attest that no one
was admitted to orders unless unmarried, or if married, who separated himself
from his wife. It was ordained in the fourth canon that bishops should
be ordained by all the co-provincial bishops, or at least by three with
consent of the rest, and that the right of confirmation appertaining to
the Metropolitan, should be strictly preserved. The sixth canon say that
the rights of the Patriarchal Sees shall be preserved, especially those
of the See of Alexandria, over the Churches of Egypt, of Lybia, and of
Pantopolis, after the example of the Bishop of Rome, who enjoys a similar
authority over the Churches subject to his Patriarchate. Noel Alexander
(47) has written a special dissertation to prove that the primacy of the
Roman See is not weakened by this canon, and among other proofs adduces
the sixth canon of the great council of Chalcodon; “the Roman Church always
had the primacy," and it is proved, he says, that after this canon
was passed, the Bishop of Rome judged the persons of the other patriarchs,
and took cogni­zance of the sentences passed by them, and no one
ever complained that he usurped an authority which did not belong to him,
or violated the sixth canon of the council of Nice.
(44) Ibid.; N. Alex. ibid.
(45) Orsi, ibid; Soc. l.1.
(46) Epiphan. Her. 59, & St. Hier. Adv. Vigilan.
(47) N. Alex. t. 8; Diss. 20.
-- Finally, the fathers wrote a circular letter addressed to all churches,
giving them notice of the condemnation of Arius, and the regulation concerning
the celebration of Easter. The council was then dissolved, but before the
bishops separated, Constantine had them all to dine with him, and had those
who suffered for the faith placed near himself, and frequently kissed the
scars of their wounds; he then made presents to each of them, and again
recommending them to live in peace, he affectionately took leave of them
(48). The sentence of exile against Eusebius and Theognis, was then carried
into execution; they were banished to Gaul, and Amphion succeeded Eusebius
in the Bishopric of Nicomedia, and Chrestus, Theogius, in the See of Nice.
It was not long, however, till the bishops of their party showed that they
accepted the decrees of the council through fear alone (49).
(48) Orsi, t, 5, l. 12.
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