THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH WITH PROLEGOMENA AND EXPLANATORY NOTES.
UNDER THE EDITORIAL SUPERVISION OF
PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D.,
HENRY WACE, D.D.,
Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Seminary, New York.
Principal of King’s College, London.
WM.B. EERDEMANS PUBLISHING COMPANY
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN
LIFE OF CONSTANTINE
ORATION IN PRAISE OF CONSTANTINE
Prolegomena. The Life and Writings of Eusebius of Caesarea
Testimonies of the Ancients Against Eusebius
The Church History of Eusebius
Supplementary Notes and Tables
The Life of the Blessed Emperor Constantine
The Oration of the Emperor Constantine
The Oration in Praise of the Emperor Constantine
Prolegomena. The Life and Writings of Eusebius of Caesarea.
Chapter I. The Life of Eusebius.
§1. Sources and Literature.
Acacius, the pupil and successor of Eusebius in the bishopric of Caesarea, wrote a life of the latter (Socr. H. E. II. 4) which is unfortunately lost. He was a man of ability (Sozomen H. E. III. 2, IV. 23) and had exceptional opportunities for producing a full and accurate account of Eusebius’ life; the disappearance of his work is therefore deeply to be regretted.
Numerous notices of Eusebius are found in the works of Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, Athanasius, Jerome, and other writers of his own and subsequent ages, to many of which references will be made in the following pages. A collection of these notices, made by Valesius, is found in English translation on p. 57 sq. of this volume. The chief source for a knowledge of Eusebius’ life and character is to be found in his own works. These will be discussed below, on p. 26 sq. Of the numerous modern works which treat at greater or less length of the life of Eusebius I shall mention here only those which I have found most valuable.
Valesius: De vita scriptisque Eusebii Diatribe (in his edition of Eusebius’ Histaria Eccles.; English version in Cruse’s translation of the same work).
Cave: Lives of the Fathers, II. 95–144 (ed. H. Cary, Oxf. 1840).
Tillemont: Hist. Eccles. VII. pp. 39–75 (compare also his account of the Arians in vol, VI.).
Stroth: Leben and Schriften des Eusebius (in his German translation of the Hist. Eccles.).
Closs: Leben and Schriflen des Eusebius (in his translation of the same work).
Danz: De Eusebio Caesariensi, Historion of the sam’ Eccles. Scriptore, ejusque fide historica recte rians in vol, VI.).and most val’stimanda, Cap. II.: de rebus ad Eusebii vitam pertinentibus (pp. 33–75).
Stein: Eusebius Bischof von Caesarea. Nach seinem Leben, seinen Schriften, and seinem dogmatischen Charakter dargestellt (Würzburg, 1859; full and valuable).
Bright, in the introduction to his edition of Burton’s text of the Hist. Eccles. (excellent).
Lightfoot (Bishop of Durham): Eusebius of Caesarea, in Smith and Wace’s Dictionary of Christian Biography, vol. II. pp. 308–348. Lightfoot’s article is a magnificent monument of patristic scholarship and contains the best and most exhaustive treatment of the life and writings of Eusebius that has been written.
The student may be referred finally to all the larger histories of the Church (e.g. Schaff, vol. III. 871 sqq. and 1034 sq.), which contain more or less extended accounts of Eusebius.
§2. Eusebius’ Birth and Training. His Life in Caesarea until the Outbreak of the Persecution.
Our author was commonly known among the ancients as Eusebius of Caesarea or Eusebius Pamphili. The former designation arose from the fact that he was bishop of the church in Caesarea for many years; the latter from the fact that he was the intimate friend and devoted admirer of Pamphilus, a presbyter of Caesarea and a martyr. Some such specific appellation was necessary to distinguish him from others of the same name. Smith and Wace’s Dictionary of Christian Biography mentions 137 men of the first eight centuries who bore the name Eusebius, and of these at least forty were contemporaries of our author. The best known among them were Eusebius of Nicomedia (called by Arius the brother of Eusebius of Caesarea), Eusebius of Emesa, and Eusebius of Samosata.
The exact date of our author’s birth is unknown to us, but his Ecclesiastical History contains notices which enable us to fix it approximately. In H. E. V. 28 he reports that Paul of Samosata attempted to revive again in his day kaqÆ hjma")the heresy of Artemon. But Paul of Samosata was deposed from the episcopate of Antioch in 272, and was condemned as a heretic at least as early as 268, so that Eusebius must have been born before the latter date, if his words are to be strictly interpreted. Again, according to H. E. III. 28, Dionysius was bishop of Alexandria in Eusebius’ time (kaqÆ hma"). But Dionysius was bishop from 247 or 248 to 265, and therefore if Eusebius’ words are to be interpreted strictly here as in the former case, he must have been born before 265. On the other hand, inasmuch as his death occurred about 340, we cannot throw his birth much earlier than 260. It is true that the references to Paul and to Dionysius do not prove conclusively that Eusebius was alive in their day, for his words may have been used in a loose sense. But in H. E. VII. 26, just before proceeding to give an account of Paul of Samosata, he draws the line between his own and the preceding generation, declaring that he is now about to relate the events of his own age (thn kaqÆ hma"). This still further confirms the other indications, and we shall consequently be safe in concluding that Eusebius was born not far from the year 260 a.d. His birthplace cannot be determined with certainty. The fact that he is called “Eusebius the Palestinian” by Marcellus (Euseb. lib. adv. Marcell. I. 4), Bash (Lib. ad. Amphil. de Spir. Sancto, c. 29), and others, does not prove that he was a Palestinian by birth; for the epithet may be used to indicate merely his place of residence (he was bishop of Caesarea in Palestine for many years). Moreover, the argument urged by Stein and Lightfoot in support of his Palestinian birth, namely, that it was customary to elect to the episcopate of any church a native of the city in preference to a native of some other place, does not count for much. All that seems to have been demanded was that a man should have been already a member of the particular church over which he was to be made bishop, and even this rule was not universal (see Bingham’s Antiquities, II 10, 2 and 3). The fact that he was bishop of Caesarea therefore would at most warrant us in concluding only that he had made his residence in Caesarea for some time previous to his election to that office. Nevertheless, although neither of these arguments proves his Palestinian birth, it is very probable that he was a native of that country, or at least of that section. He was acquainted with Syriac as well as with Greek, which circumstance taken in connection with his ignorance of Latin (see below, p. 47) points to the region of Syria as his birthplace. Moreover, we learn from his own testimony that he was in Caesarea while still a youth (Vita Canstantini, I. 19), and in his epistle to the church of Caesarea (see below, p. 16) he says that he was taught the creed of the Caesarean church in his childhood (or at least at the beginning of his Christian life: en th kathchsei), and that he accepted it at baptism. It would seem therefore that he must have lived while still a child either in Caesarea itself, or in the neighborhood, where its creed was in use. Although no one therefore (except Theodorus Metochita of the fourteenth century, in his Cap. Miscell. 17; Migne, Patr. Lat. CXLIV. 949) directly states that Eusebius was a Palestinian by birth, we have every reason to suppose him such. His parents are entirely unknown. Nicephorus Callistus (H. E. VI. 37) reports that his mother was a sister of Pamphilus. He does not mention his authority for this statement, and it is extremely unlikely, in the face of the silence of Eusebius himself and of all other writers, that it is true. It is far more probable that the relationship was later assumed to account for the close intimacy of the two men. Arius, in an epistle addressed to Eusebius of Nicomedia (contained in Theodoret’s Hist. Eccles. I. 5), calls Eusebius of Caesarea the latter’s brother. It is objected to this that Eusebius of Nicomedia refers to Eusebius of Caesarea on one occasion as his “master” (tou destpotou mou, in his epistle to Paulinus contained in Theodoret’s Hist. Eccles. I. 6), and that on the other hand Eusebius of Caesarea calls Eusebius of Nicomedia, “the great Eusebius” (Euseb. lib. adv. Marcell. I. 4), both of which expressions seem inconsistent with brotherhood. Lightfoot justly remarks that neither the argument itself nor the objections carry much weight. The term adelfo" may well have been used to indicate merely theological or ecclesiastical association, while on the other hand, brotherhood would not exclude the form of expression employed by each in speaking of the other. Of more weight is the fact that neither Eusebius himself nor any historian of that period refers to such a relationship, and also the unlikelihood that two members of one family should bear the same name.
From Eusebius’ works we gather that he must have received an extensive education both in secular philosophy and in Biblical and theological science. Although his immense erudition was doubtless the result of wide and varied reading continued throughout life, it is highly probable that he acquired the taste for such reading in his youth. Who his early instructors were we do not know, and therefore cannot estimate the degree of their influence over him. As he was a man, however, who cherished deep admiration for those whom he regarded as great and good men, and as he possessed an unusually acquisitive mind and a pliant disposition, we should naturally suppose that his instructors must have possessed considerable influence over him, and that his methods of study in later years must have been largely molded by their example and precept. We see this exemplified in a remarkable degree in the influence exerted over him by Pamphilus, his dearest friend, and at the same time the preceptor, as it were, of his early manhood. Certainly this great bibliopholist must have done much to strengthen Eusebius’ natural taste for omnivorous reading, and the opportunities afforded by his grand library for the cultivation of such a taste were not lost. To the influence of Pamphilus, the devoted admirer and enthusiastic champion of Origen, was doubtless due also in large measure the deep respect which Eusebius showed for that illustrious Father, a respect to which we owe one of the most delightful sections of his Church History, his long account of Origen in the sixth book, and to which in part antiquity was indebted for the elaborate Defense of Origen, composed by Pamphilus and himself, but unfortunately no longer extant. Eusebius certainly owed much to the companionship of that eager student and noble Christian hero, and he always recognized with deep gratitude his indebtedness to him. (Compare the account of Pamphilus given below in Bk. VII. chap. 32, §25 sq.) The names of his earlier instructors, who were eminently successful, at least in fostering his thirst for knowledge, are quite unknown to us. His abiding admiration for Plato, whom he always placed at the head of all philosophers (see Stein, p. 6), would lead us to think that he received at least a part of his secular training from some ardent Platonist, while his intense interest in apologetics, which lasted throughout his life, and which affected all his works, seems to indicate the peculiar bent of his early Christian education. Trithemius concluded from a passage in his History (VII. 32) that Eusebius was a pupil of the learned Dorotheus of Antioch, and Valesius, Lightfoot and others are apparently inclined to accept his conclusion. But, as Stroth remarks (Eusebii Kirchengeschichte, p. xix), all that Eusebius says is that he had heard Dorotheus expound the Scriptures in the church (toutou metriw" ta" grafa" epi th" ekklhsia" dihgoumenou kathkousamen), that is, that he had heard him preach. To conclude from this statement that he was a pupil of Dorotheus is certainly quite unwarranted.
Stroth’s suggestion that he probably enjoyed the instruction of Meletius for seven years during the persecution rests upon no good ground, for the passage which he relies upon to sustain his opinion (E. E. VII. 32. 28) says only that Eusebius “observed Meletius well” (katenohsamen) during those seven years.
In C§sarea Eusebius was at one time a presbyter of the church, as we may gather from his words in the epistle to that church already referred to, where, in speaking of the creed, he says, “As we believed and taught in the presbytery and in the episcopate itself.” But the attempt to fix the date of his ordination to that office is quite vain. It is commonly assumed that he became presbyter while Agapius was bishop of C§sarea, and this is not unlikely, though we possess no proof of it (upon Agapius see below, H. E. VII. 32, note 39). In his Vita Constantini, I. 19, Eusebius reports that he saw Constantine for the first time in Caesarea in the train of the Emperor Diocletian. In his Chron. Eusebius reports that Diocletian made an expedition against Egypt, which had risen in rebellion in the year 296 a.d., and Theophanes, in his Chron., says that Constantine accompanied him. It is probable therefore that it was at this time that Eusebius first saw Constantine in Caesarea, when he was either on his way to Egypt, or on his way back (see Tillemont’s Hist. des Emp., IV. p. 34).
During these years of quiet, before the great persecution of Diocletian, which broke out in 303 a.d., Eusebius’ life must have been a very pleasant one. Pamphilus’ house seems to have been a sort of rendezvous for Christian scholars, perhaps a regular divinity school; for we learn from Eusebius’ Martyrs in Palestine (Cureton’s edition, pp. 13 and 14) that he and a number of others, including the martyr Apphianus, were living together in one house at the time of the persecution, and that the latter was instructed in the Scriptures by Pamphilus and acquired from him virtuous habits and conduct. The great library of Pamphilus would make his house a natural center for theological study, and the immense amount of work which was done by him, or under his direction, in the reproduction of copies of the Holy Scriptures, of Origen’s works (see Jerome’s de vir. ill. 75 and 8r, and contra Ruf. I. 9), and in other literary employments of the same kind, makes it probable that he had gathered about him a large circle of friends and students who assisted him in his labors and profited by his counsel and instruction. Amidst these associations Eusebius passed his early manhood, and the intellectual stimulus thus given him doubtless had much to do with his future career. He was above all a literary man, and remained such to the end of his life. The pleasant companionships of these days, and the mutual interest and sympathy which must have bound those fellow-students and fellow-disciples of Pamphilus very close together, perhaps had much to do with that broad-minded spirit of sympathy and tolerance which so characterized Eusebius in later years. He was always as far as possible from the character of a recluse. He seems ever to have been bound by very strong ties to the world itself and to his fellow-men. Had his earlier days been filled with trials and hardships, with the bitterness of disappointed hopes and unfulfilled ambitions, with harsh experiences of others’ selfishness and treachery, who shall say that the whole course of his life might not have been changed, and his writings have exhibited an entirely different spirit from that which is now one of their greatest charms? Certainly he had during these early years in Caesarea large opportunities for cultivating that natural trait of admiration for other men, which was often so strong as to blind him even to their faults, and that natural kindness which led him to see good wherever it existed in his Christian brethren. At the same time these associations must have had considerable influence in fostering the apologetic temper. The pursuits of the little circle were apparently exclusively Christian, and in that day when Christianity stood always on its defense, it would naturally become to them a sacred duty to contribute to that defense and to employ all their energies in the task. It has been remarked that the apologetic temper is very noticeable in Eusebius’ writings. It is more than that; we may say indeed in general terms that everything he wrote was an apology for the faith. His History was written avowedly with an apologetic purpose, his Chronicle was composed with the same end in view. Even when pronouncing a eulogy upon a deceased emperor he seized ever), possible opportunity to draw from that emperor’s career, and from the circumstances of his reign, arguments for the truth and grandeur of the Christian religion. His natural temper of mind and his early training may have had much to do with this habit of thought, but certainly those years with Pamphilus and his friends in Caesarea must have emphasized and developed it.
Another characteristic which Pamphilus and the circle that surrounded him doubtless did something to develop in our author was a certain superiority to the trammels of mere traditionalism, or we might perhaps better say that they in some measure checked the opposite tendency of slavishness to the traditional which seems to have been natural to him. Pamphilus’ deep reverence for Origen proclaims him at once superior to that kind of narrow conservatism which led many men as learned and doubtless as conscientious as himself to pass severe and unconditional condemnation upon Origen and all his teaching. The effect of championing his cause must have fostered in this little circle, which was a very hotbed of Origenism, a contempt for the narrow and unfair judgments of mere traditionalists, and must have led them to seek in some degree the truth solely for its own sake, and to become in a measure careless of its relation to the views of any school or church. It could hardly be otherwise than that the free and fearless spirit of Origen should leave its impress through his writings upon a circle of followers so devoted to him as were these Caesarean students. Upon the impressionable Eusebius these influences necessarily operated. And yet he brought to them no keen speculative powers, no deep originality such as Origen himself possessed. His was essentially an acquisitive, not a productive mind, and hence it was out of the question that he should become a second Origen. It was quite certain that Origen’s influence over him would weaken somewhat his confidence in the traditional as such,-a confidence which is naturally great in such minds as his,— but at the same time would do little to lessen the real power of the past over him. He continued to get his truth from others, from the great men of the past with whom he had lived and upon whose thought he had feasted. All that he believed he had drawn from them; he produced nothing new for himself, and his creed was a traditional creed. And yet he had at the same time imbibed from his surroundings the habit of questioning and even criticising the past, and, in spite of his abiding respect for it, had learned to feel that the voice of the many is not always the voice of truth, and that the widely and anciently accepted is sometimes to be corrected by the clearer sight of a single man. Though he therefore depended for all he believed so completely upon the past, his associations had helped to free him from a slavish adherence to all that a particular school had accepted, and had made him in some small measure an eclectic in his relations to doctrines and opinions of earlier generations. A notable instance of this eclecticism on his part is seen in his treatment of the Apocalypse of John. He felt the force of an almost universal tradition in favor of its apostolic origin, and yet in the face of that he could listen to the doubts of Dionysius, and could be led by his example, in a case where his own dissatisfaction with the book acted as an incentive, almost, if not quite, to reject it and to ascribe it to another John. Instances of a similar mode of conduct on his part are quite numerous. While he is always a staunch apologist for Christianity, he seldom, if ever, degenerates into a mere partisan of any particular school or sect.
One thing in fact which is particularly noticeable in Eusebius’ works is the comparatively small amount of time and space which he devotes to heretics. With his wide and varied learning and his extensive acquaintance with the past, he had opportunities for successful heresy hunting such as few possessed, and yet he never was a heresy hunter in any sense. This is surprising when we remember what a fascination this employment had for so many scholars of his own age, and when we realize that his historical tastes and talents would seem to mark him out as just the man for that kind of work. May it not be that the lofty spirit of Origen, animating that Caesarean school, had something to do with the happy fact that he became an apologist instead of a mere polemic, that he chose the honorable task of writing a history of the Church. instead of anticipating Epiphanius’ Panarium?
It was not that he was not alive to the evils of heresy. He shared with nearly all good church-men of his age an intense aversion for those who, as he believed, had corrupted the true Gospel of Christ. Like them he ascribed heresy to the agency of the evil one, and was no more able than they to see any good in a man whom he looked upon as a real heretic, or to do justice in any degree to the error which he taught. His condemnations of heretics in his Church History are most severe. Language is hardly strong enough to express his aversion for them. And yet, although he is thus most thoroughly the child of his age, the difference between him and most of his contemporaries is very apparent. He mentions these heretics only to dismiss them with disapproval or condemnation. He seldom, if ever, discusses and refutes their views. His interests lie evidently in other directions; he is concerned with higher things. A still more strongly marked difference between himself and many churchmen of his age lies in his large liberality towards those of his own day who differed with him in minor points of faith, and his comparative indifference to the divergence of views between the various parties in the Church. In all this we believe is to be seen not simply the inherent nature of the man, but that nature as trained in the school of Pamphilus, the disciple of Origen.
§3. The Persecution of Diocletian.
In this delightful circle and engaged in such congenial tasks, the time must have passed very happily for Eusebius, until, in 303, the terrible persecution of Diocletian broke upon the Church almost like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky. The causes of the sudden change of policy on Diocletian’s part, and the terrible havoc wrought in the Church, it is not my intention to discuss here (see below, Bk. VIII. chap. 2, note 3 sq.). We are concerned with the persecution only in so far as it bears upon the present subject. In the first year of the persecution Procopius, the first martyr of Palestine, was put to death at Caesarea (Eusebius’ Martyrs of Palestine, Cureton’s ed. p. 4), and from that time on that city, which was an important Christian center, was the scene of a tempest which raged with greater or less violence, and with occasional cessations, for seven years. Eusebius himself was an eyewitness of many martyrdoms there, of which he gives us an account in his Martyrs of Palestine. The little circle which surrounded Pamphilus did not escape. In the third year of the persecution (Mart. of Pal. p. 12 sq.) a youth named Apphianus, or Epiphanius (the former is given in the Greek text, the latter in the Syriac), who “resided in the same house with us, confirming himself in godly doctrine, and being instructed by that perfect martyr, Pamphilus” (as Eusebius says), committed an act of fanatical daring which caused his arrest and martyrdom. It seems that without the knowledge of his friends, concealing his design even from those who dwelt in the same house with him, he laid hold of the hand of the governor, Arbanus, who was upon the point of sacrificing, and endeavored to dissuade him from offering to “lifeless idols and wicked devils.” His arrest was of course the natural consequence, and he had the glory of witnessing a good profession and suffering a triumphant death. Although Eusebius speaks with such admiration of his conduct, it is quite significant of the attitude of himself, and of most of the circle of which he was one, that Apphianus felt obliged to conceal his purpose from them. He doubtless feared that they would not permit him to perform the rash act which he meditated, and we may conclude from that, that the circle in the main was governed by the precepts of good common sense, and avoided that fanaticism which so frequently led men, as in the present case it led Apphianus, to expose themselves needlessly, and even to court martyrdom. It is plain enough from what we know of Eusebius’ general character that he himself was too sensible to act in that way. It is true that he speaks with admiration of Apphianus’ conduct, and in H. E. VIII. 5, of the equally rash procedure of a Nicomedian Christian; but that does not imply that he considered their course the wisest one, and that he would not rather recommend the employment of all proper and honorable precautions for the preservation of life. Indeed, in H. E. IV. 15, he speaks with evident approval of the prudent course pursued by Polycarp in preserving his life so long as he could without violating his Christian profession, and with manifest disapproval of the rash act of the Phrygian Quintus, who presumptuously courted martyrdom, only to fail when the test itself came. Pamphilus also possessed too much sound Christian sense to advocate any such fanaticism, or to practice it himself, as is plain enough from the fact that he was not arrested until the fifth year of the persecution. This unhealthy temper of mind in the midst of persecution was indeed almost universally condemned by the wisest men of the Church, and yet the boldness and the very rashness of those who thus voluntarily and needlessly threw their lives away excited widespread admiration and too often a degree of commendation which served only to promote a wider growth of the same unhealthy sentiment.
In the fifth year of the persecution Pamphilus was arrested and thrown into prison, where he remained for two years, when he finally, in the seventh year of the persecution, suffered martyrdom with eleven others, some of whom were his disciples and members of his own household. (Pal. Mart. Cureton’s ed. p. 36 sq.; H. E. App. chap. 11.) During the two years of Pamphilus’ imprisonment Eusebius spent a great deal of time with him, and the two together composed five books of an Apology for Origen, to which Eusebius afterward added a sixth (see below, p. 36). Danz (p. 37) assumes that Eusebius was imprisoned with Pamphilus, which is not an unnatural supposition when we consider how much they must have been together to compose the Apology as they did. There is, however, no other evidence that he was thus imprisoned, and in the face of Eusebius’ own silence it is safer perhaps to assume (with most historians) that he simply visited Pamphilus in his prison. How it happened that Pamphilus and so many of his followers were imprisoned and martyred, while Eusebius escaped, we cannot tell. In his Martyrs of Palestine, chap. 11, he states that Pamphilus was the only one of the company of twelve martyrs that was a presbyter of the Caesarean church; and from the fact that he nowhere mentions the martyrdom of others of the presbyters, we may conclude that they all escaped. It is not surprising, therefore, that Eusebius should have done the same. Nevertheless, it is somewhat difficult to understand how he could come and go so frequently without being arrested and condemned to a like fate with the others. It is possible that he possessed friends among the authorities whose influence procured his safety. This supposition finds some support in the fact that he had made the acquaintance of Constantine (the Greek in Vita Const. I. 19 has egnwmen, which implies, as Danz remarks, that he not only saw, but that he became acquainted with Constantine) some years before in Caesarea. He could hardly have made his acquaintance unless he had some friend among the high officials of the city. Influential family connections may account in part also for the position of prominence which he later acquired at the imperial court of Constantine. If he had friends in authority in Caesarea during the persecution his exemption from arrest is satisfactorily accounted for. It has been supposed by some that Eusebius denied the faith during the terrible persecution, or that he committed some other questionable and compromising act of concession, and thus escaped martyrdom. In support of this is urged the fact that in 335, at the council of Tyre, Potamo, bishop of Heraclea, in Egypt, addressed Eusebius in the following words: “Dost thou sit as judge, O Eusebius; and is Athanasius, innocent as he is, judged by thee? Who can bear such things? Pray tell me, wast thou not with me in prison during the persecution? And I lost an eye in behalf of the truth, but thou appearest to have received no bodily injury, neither hast thou suffered martyrdom, but thou hast remained alive with no mutilation. How wast thou released from prison unless thou didst promise those that put upon us the pressure of persecution to do that which is unlawful, or didst actually do it?” Eusebius, it seems, did not deny the charge, but simply rose in anger and dismissed the council with the words, “If ye come hither and make such accusations against us, then do your accusers speak the truth. For if ye tyrannize here, much more do ye in your own country” (Epiphan. Har. LXVIII. 8). It must be noticed, however, that Potamo does not directly charge Eusebius with dishonorable conduct, he simply conjectures that he must have acted dishonorably in order to escape punishment; as if every one who was imprisoned with Potamo must have suffered as he did! As Stroth suggests, it is quite possible that his peculiarly excitable and violent temperament was one of the causes of his own loss. He evidently in any case had no knowledge of unworthy conduct on Eusebius’ part, nor had any one else so far as we can judge. For in that age of bitter controversy, when men’s characters were drawn by their opponents in the blackest lines, Eusebius must have suffered at the hands of the Athanasian party if it had been known that he had acted a cowardly part in the persecution. Athanasius himself refers to this incident (Contra Arian. VIII. 1), but he only says that Eusebius was “accused of sacrificing,” he does not venture to affirm that he did sacrifice; and thus it is evident that he knew nothing of such an act. Moreover, he never calls Eusebius “the sacrificer,” as he does Asterius, and as he would have been sure to do had he possessed evidence which warranted him in making the accusation (cf. Lightfoot, p. 311). Still further, Eusebius’ subsequent election to the episcopate of Caesarea, where his character and his conduct during the persecution must have been well known, and his appointment in later life to the important see of Antioch, forbid the supposition that he had ever acted a cowardly part in time of persecution. And finally, it is psychologically impossible that Eusebius could have written works so full of comfort for, and sympathy with, the suffering confessors, and could have spoken so openly and in such strong terms of condemnation of the numerous defections that occurred during the persecution, if he. was conscious of his own guilt. It is quite possible, as remarked above, that influential friends. protected him without any act of compromise on his part; or, supposing him to have been imprisoned with Potamo, it may be, as Lightfoot suggests, that the close of the persecution brought him his release as it did so many others. For it would seem natural to refer that imprisonment to the latter part of the persecution, when in all probability he visited Egypt, which was the home of Potamo. We must in any case vindicate Eusebius from the unfounded charge of cowardice and apostasy; and we ask, with Cave, “If every accusation against any man at any time were to be believed, who would be guiltless?”
From his History and his Martyrs in Palestine we learn that Eusebius was for much of the time in the very thick of the fight, and was an eyewitness of numerous martyrdoms not only in Palestine, but also in Tyre and in Egypt.
The date of his visits to the latter places (H. E. VIII. 7, 9) cannot be determined with exactness. They are described in connection with what seem to be the earlier events of the persecution, and yet it is by no means certain that chronological order has been observed in the narratives. The mutilation of prisoners—such as Potamo suffered—seems to have become common only in the year 308 and thereafter (see Mason’s Persecution of Diocletian, p. 281), and hence if Eusebius was imprisoned with Potamo during his visit to Egypt, as seems most probable, there would be some reason for assigning that visit to the later years of the persecution. In confirmation of this might be urged the improbability that he would leave Caesarea while Pamphilus was still alive, either before or after the latter’s imprisonment, and still further his own statement in H. E. VII. 32, that he had observed Meletius escaping the fury of the persecution for seven years in Palestine. It is therefore likely that Eusebius did not make his journey to Egypt, which must have occupied some time, until toward the very end of the persecution, when it raged there with exceeding fierceness during the brief outburst of the infamous Maximin.
§4. Eusebius’ Accession to the Bishopric of Caesarea.
Not long after the close of the persecution, Eusebius became bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, his own home, and held the position until his death. The exact date of his accession cannot be ascertained, indeed we cannot say that it did not take place even before the close of the persecution, but that is hardly probable; in fact, we know of no historian who places it earlier than 313. His immediate predecessor in the episcopate was Agapius, whom he mentions in terms of praise in H. E. VII. 32. Some writers have interpolated a bishop Agricolaus between Agopins and Eusebius (see e.g. Tillemont, Hist. Ecceles. VII. 42), on the ground that his name appears in one of the lists of those present at the Council of Ancyra (c. 314), as bishop of Caesarea in Palestine (see Labbei el Cossartii Conc. I. 1475). But, as Hefele shows (Conciliengesch. I. 220), this list is of late date and not to be relied upon. On the other hand, as Lightfoot points out, in the Libellus Synadicus(Conc. I. 1480), where Agricolaus is said to have been present at the Council of Ancyra, he is called bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia; and this statement is confirmed by a Syriac list given in Cowper’s Miscellanies, p. 41. Though perhaps no great reliance is to be placed upon the correctness of any of these lists, the last two may at any rate be set over against the first, and we may conclude that there exists no ground for assuming that Agapius, who is the last Caesarean bishop mentioned by Eusebius, was not the latter’s immediate predecessor. At what time Agapius died we do not know. That he suffered martyrdom is hardly likely, in view of Eusebius’ silence on the subject. It would seem more likely that he outlived the persecution. However that may be, Eusebius was already bishop at the time of the dedication of a new and elegant Church at Tyre under the direction of his friend Paulinus, bishop of that city. Upon this occasion he delivered an address of considerable length, which he has inserted in his Ecclesiastical History, Bk. X. chap. 4. He does not name himself as its author, but the way in which he introduces it, and the very fact that he records the whole speech without giving the name of the man who delivered it, make its origin perfectly plain. Moreover, the last sentence of the preceding chapter makes it evident that the speaker was a bishop: “Every one of the rulers (arcontwn) present delivered panegyric discourses.” The date of the dedication of this church is a matter of dispute, though it is commonly put in the year 315. It is plain from Eusebius’ speech that it was uttered before Licinius had begun to persecute the Christians, and also, as Görres remarks, at a lime when Constantine and Licinius were at least outwardly at peace with each other. In the year 314 the two emperors went to war, and consequently, if the persecution of Licinius began soon after that event, as it is commonly supposed to have done, the address must have been delivered before hostilities opened; that is, at least as early as 314, and this is the year in which Görres places it (Kritische Untersuchungen ueber die licinianische Christenverfolgung, p. 8). But if Görres’ date (319 a.d.) for the commencement of the persecution be accepted (and though he can hardly be said to have proved it, he has urged some strong grounds in support of it), then the address may have been delivered at almost any time between 315 and 319, for, as Görres himself shows, Licinius and Constantine were outwardly at peace during the greater part of that time (ib. p. 14, sq.). There is nothing in the speech itself which prevents this later date, nor is it intrinsically improbable that the great basilica reached completion only in 315 or later. In fact, it must be admitted that Eusebius may have become bishop at any time between about 311 and 318.
The persecution of Licinius, which continued until his defeat by Constantine, in 323, was but local, and seems never to have been very severe. Indeed, it did not bear the character of a bloody persecution, though a few bishops appear to have met their death on one ground or another. Palestine and Egypt seem not to have suffered to any great extent (see Görres, ib. p. 32 sq.).
§5. The Outbreak of the Arian Controversy. The Attitude of Eusebius.
About the year 318, while Alexander was bishop of Alexandria, the Arian controversy broke out in that city, and the whole Eastern Church was soon involved in the strife. We cannot enter here into a discussion of Arius’ views; but in order to understand the rapidity with which the Arian party grew, and the strong hold which it possessed from the very start in Syria and Asia Minor, we must remember that Arius was not himself the author of that system which we know as Arianism, but that he learned the essentials of it from his instructor Lucian. The latter was one of the most learned men of his age in the Oriental Church, and rounded an exegetico-theological school in Antioch, which for a number of years stood outside of the communion of the orthodox Church in that city, but shortly before the martyrdom of Lucian himself (which took place in 311 or 312) made its peace with the Church, and was recognized by it. He was held in the highest reverence by his disciples, and exerted a great influence over them even after his death. Among them were such men as Arius, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Asterius, and others who were afterward known as staunch Arianists. According to Harnack the chief points in the system of Lucian and his disciples were the creation of the Son, the denial of his co-eternity with the Father, and his immutability acquired by persistent progress and steadfastness. His doctrine, which differed from that of Paul of Samosata chiefly in the fact that it was not a man but a created heavenly being who became “Lord,” was evidently the result of a combination of the teaching of Paul and of Origen. It will be seen that we have here, at least in germ, all the essential elements of Arianism proper: the creation of the Son out of nothing, and consequently the conclusion that there was a time when he was not; the distinction of his essence from that of the Father, but at the same time the emphasis upon the fact that he “was not created as the other creatures,” and is therefore to be sharply distinguished from them. There was little for Arius to do but to combine the elements given by Lucian in a more complete and well-ordered system, and then to bring that system forward clearly and publicly, and endeavor to make it the faith of the Church at large. His christology was essentially opposed to the Alexandrian, and it was natural that he should soon come into conflict with that church, of which he was a presbyter (upon Lucian’s teaching and its relation to Arianism, see Harnack’s Dogmengeschichte, II. p. 183 sq.).
Socrates (H. E. I. 5 sq.), Sozomen (H. E. I. 15) and Theodoret (H. E. I. 2 sq.), all of whom give accounts of the rise of Arianism, differ as to the immediate occasion of the controversy, but agree that Arius was excommunicated by a council convened at Alexandria, and that both he and the bishop Alexander sent letters to other churches, the latter defending his own course, the former complaining of his harsh treatment, and endeavoring to secure adherents to his doctrine. Eusebius of Nicomedia at once became his firm supporter, and was one of the leading figures on the Arian side throughout the entire controversy. His influential position as bishop of Nicomedia, the imperial residence, and later of Constantinople, was of great advantage to the Arian cause, especially toward the close of Constantine’s reign. From a letter addressed by this Eusebius to Paulinus of Tyre (Theodoret, H. E. I. 6) we learn that Eusebius of Caesarea was quite zealous in behalf of the Arian cause. The exact date of the letter we do not know, but it must have been written at an early stage of the controversy. Arius himself, in an epistle addressed to Eusebius of Nicomedia (Theodoret, H. E. I. 5), claims Eusebius of Caesarea among others as accepting at least one of his fundamental doctrines (“And since Eusebius, your brother in Caesarea, and Theodotus, and Paulinus, and Athanasius, and Gregory, and ’tius, and all the bishops of the East say that God existed before the Son, they have been condemned,” etc.). More than this, Sozomen (H. E. I. 15) informs us that Eusebius of Caesarea and two other bishops, having been appealed to by Arius for “permission for himself and his adherents, as he had already attained the rank of presbyter, to form the people who were with them into a church,” concurred with others “who were assembled in Palestine,” in granting the petition of Arius, and permitting him to assemble the people as before; but they “enjoined submission to Alexander, and commanded Arius to strive incessantly to be restored to peace and communion with him.” The addition of the last sentence is noticeable, as showing that they did not care to support a presbyter in open and persistent rebellion against his bishop. A fragment of a letter written by our Eusebius to Alexander is still extant, and is preserved in the proceedings of the Second Council of Nicaea, Act. VI. Tom. V. (Labbei et Cossartii Conc. VII. col. 497). In this epistle Eusebius strongly remonstrates with Alexander for having misrepresented the views of Arius. Still further, in his epistle to Alexander of Constantinople, Alexander of Alexandria (Theodoret, H. E. I. 4) complains of three Syrian bishops “who side with them [i.e. the Arians] and excite them to plunge deeper and deeper into iniquity.” The reference here is commonly supposed to be to Eusebius of Caesarean, and his two friends Paulinus of Tyre and Theodotus of Laodicea, who are known to have shown favor to Arius. It is probable, though not certain, that our Eusebius is one of the persons meant. Finally, many of the Fathers (above all Jerome and Photius), and in addition to them the Second Council of Nicaea, directly accuse Eusebius of holding the Arian heresy, as may be seen by examining the testimonies quoted below on p. 67 sq. In agreement with these early Fathers, many modern historians have attacked Eusebius with great severity, and have endeavored to show that the opinion that he was an Arian is supported by his own writings. Among those who have judged him most harshly are Baronins (ad ann. 340, c. 38 sq.), Petavius (Dogm. Theol. de Trin. I. c. 11 sq.), Scaliger (,In Elencho Trihoeresii, c. 27, and De emendatione temporum, Bk. VI. c. 1), Mosheim (Ecclesiastical History, Murdock’s translation, I. p. 287 sq.), Montfaucon (Proelim. in Comment. ad Psalm. c. VI.), and Tillemont (H. E. VII. p. 67 sq. 2d ed.).On the other hand, as may be seen from the testimonies in Eusebius’ favor, quoted below on, p. 57 sq., many of the Fathers, who were themselves orthodox, looked upon Eusebius as likewise sound on the subject of the Trinity. He has been defended in modern times against the charge of Arianism by a great many prominent scholars; among others by Valesius in his Life of Eusebius, by Bull (Def. Fid. Nic. II. 9. 20, III. 9. 3, 11), Cave (Lives of the Fathers, II. p. 135 sq.), Fabricius (Bibl. Groec. VI. p. 32 sq.), Dupin (Bibl. Eccles. IL p. 7 sq.), and most fully and carefully by Lee in his prolegomena to his edition of Eusebius’ Theaphania, p. xxiv. sq. Lightfoot also defends him against the charge of heresy, as do a great many other writers whom it is not necessary to mention here. Confronted with such diversity of opinion, both ancient and modern, what are we to conclude? It is useless to endeavor, as Lee does, to clear Eusebius of all sympathy with and leaning toward Arianism. It is impossible to explain such widespread and continued condemnation of him by acknowledging only that there are many expressions in his works which are in themselves perfectly orthodox but capable of being wrested in such a way as to produce a suspicion of possible Arianistic tendencies, for there are such expressions in the works of multitudes of ancient writers whose orthodoxy has never been questioned. Nor can the widespread belief that he was an Arian be explained by admitting that he was for a time the personal friend of Arius, but denying that he accepted, or in any way sympathized with his views (cf. Newman’s Arians, p. 262). There are in fact certain fragments of epistles extant, which are, to say the least, decidedly Arianistic in their modes of expression, and these must be reckoned with in forming an opinion of Eusebius’ views; for there is no reason to deny, as Lee does, that they are from Eusebius’ own hand. On the other hand, to maintain, with some of the Fathers and many of the moderns, that Eusebius was and continued through life a genuine Arian, will not do in the face of the facts that contemporary and later Fathers were divided as to his orthodoxy, that he was honored highly by the Church of subsequent centuries, except at certain periods, and was even canonized (see Lightfoot’s article, p. 348), that he solemnly signed the Nicene Creed, which contained an express condemnation of the distinctive doctrines of Arius, and finally that at least in his later works he is thoroughly orthodox in his expressions, and is explicit in his rejection of the two main theses of the Arians,—that there was a time when the Son of God was not, and that he was produced out of nothing. It is impossible to enter here into a detailed discussion of such passages in Eusebius’ works as bear upon the subject under dispute. Lee has considered many of them at great length, and the reader may be referred to him for further information.
A careful examination of them will, I believe, serve to convince the candid student that there is a distinction to be drawn between those works written before the rise of Arius, those written between that time and the Council of Nicaea, and those written after the latter. It has been very common to draw a distinction between those works written before and those written after the Council, but no one, so far as I know, has distinguished those productions of Eusebius’ pen which appeared between 318 and 325, and which were caused by the controversy itself, from all his other writings. And yet such a distinction seems to furnish the key to the problem. Eusebius’ opponents have drawn their strongest arguments from the epistles which Eusebius wrote to Alexander and to Euphration; his defenders have drawn their arguments chiefly from the works which he produced subsequent to the year 325; while the exact bearing of the expressions used in his works produced before the controversy broke out has always been a matter of sharp dispute. Lee has abundantly shown his Contra Marcel., his De Eccl. Theol., his Thephania (which was written after the Council of Nicaea, and not, as Lee supposes, before it), and other later works, to be thoroughly orthodox and to contain nothing which a trinitarian might not have written. In his Hist. Eccl., Proeparatio Evang., Demanstratio Evang., and other earlier works, although we find some expressions employed which it would not have been possible for an orthodox trinitarian to use after the Council of Nicaea, at least without careful limitation to guard against misapprehension, there is nothing even in these works which requires us to believe that he accepted the doctrines of Arius’ predecessor, Lucian of Antioch; that is, there is nothing distinctly and positively Arianistic about them, although there are occasional expressions which might lead the reader to expect that the writer would become an Arian if he ever learned of Arius’ doctrines. But if there is seen to be a lack of emphasis upon the divinity of the Son, or rather a lack of clearness in the conception of the nature of that divinity, it must be remembered that there was at this time no especial reason for emphasizing and defining it, but there was on the contrary very good reason for laying particular stress upon the subordination of the Son over against Sabellianism, which was so widely prevalent during the third century, and which was exerting an influence even over many orthodox theologians who did not consciously accept Sabellianistic tenets. That Eusebius was a decided subordinationist must be plain to every one that reads his works with care, especially his earlier ones. It would be surprising if he had not been, for he was born at a time when Sabellianism (monarchianism) was felt to be the greatest danger to which orthodox christology was exposed, and he was trained under the influence of the followers of Origen, who had made it one of his chief aims to emphasize the subordination of the Son over against that very monarchianism.1 The same subordinationism may be clearly seen in the writings of Dionysius of Alexandria and of Gregory Thaumaturgus, two of Origen’s greatest disciples. It must not be forgotten that at the beginning of the fourth century the problem of how to preserve the Godhood of Christ and at the same time his subordination to the Father (in opposition to the monarchianists) had not been solved. Eusebius in his earlier writings shows that he holds both (he cannot be convicted of denying Christ’s divinity), but that he is as far from a solution of the problem, and is just as uncertain in regard to the exact relation of Father and Son, as Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Dionysius, and Gregory Thaumaturgus were; is just as inconsistent in his modes of expression as they, and yet no more so (see Harnack’s Dogmengeschichte, I. pp. 628 sq. and 634 sq., for an exposition of the opinions of these other Fathers on the subject). Eusebius, with the same immature and undeveloped views which were held all through the third century, wrote those earlier works which have given rise to so much dispute between those who accuse him of Arianism and those who defend him against the charge. When he wrote them he was neither Arian nor Athanasian, and for that reason passages may be found in them which if written after the Council of Nicaea might prove him an Arian, and other passages which might as truly prove him an Athanasian, just as in the writings of Origen were found by both parties passages to support their views, and in Gregory Thaumaturgus passages apparently teaching Arianism, and others teaching its opposite, Sabellianism (see Harnack, ib. p. 646).
Let us suppose now that Eusebius, holding fast to the divinity of Christ, and yet convinced just as firmly of his subordination to the Father, becomes acquainted through Arius, or other like-minded disciples of Lucian of Antioch, with a doctrine which seems to preserve the Godhood, while at the same time emphasizing strongly the subordination of the Son, and which formulates the relation of Father and Son in a clear and rational manner. That he should accept such a doctrine eagerly is just what we should expect, and just what we find him doing. In his epistles to Alexander and Euphration, he shows himself an Arian, and Arius and his followers were quite right in claiming him as a supporter. There is that in the epistles which is to be found nowhere in his previous writings, and which distinctly separates him from the orthodox party. How then are we to explain the fact that a few years later he signed the Nicene creed and anathematized the doctrines of Arius? Before we can understand his conduct, it is necessary to examine carefully the two epistles in question. Such an examination will show us that what Eusebius is defending in them is not genuine Arianism. He evidently thinks that it is, evidently supposes that he and Arius are in complete agreement upon the subjects under discussion; but he is mistaken. The extant fragments of the two epistles are given below on p. 70. It will be seen that Eusebius in them defends the Arian doctrine that there was a time when the Son of God was not. It will be seen also that he finds fault with Alexander for representing the Arians as teaching that the “Son of God was made out of nothing, like all creatures,” and contends that Arius teaches that the Son of God was begotten, and that he was not produced like all creatures. We know that the Arians very commonly applied the word “begotten” to Christ, using it in such cases as synonymous with “created,” and thus not implying, as the Athanasians did when they used the word, that he was of one substance with the Father (compare, for instance, the explanation of the meaning of the term given by Eusebius of Nicomedia in his epistle to Paulinns; Theod. H. E. I. 6). It is evident that the use of this word had deceived our Eusebius, and that he was led by it to think that they taught that the Son was of the Father in a peculiar sense, and did in reality partake in some way of essential Godhood. And indeed it is not at all surprising that the words of Arius, in his epistle to Alexander of Alexandria (see Athan. Ep. de conc. Arim. et Seleuc., chap. II. §3; Oxford edition of Athanasius’ Tracts against Arianism, P. 97), quoted by Eusebius in his epistle to the same Alexander, should give Eusebius that impression. The words are as follows: “The God of the law, and of the prophets, and of the New Testament before eternal ages begat an only-begotten Son, through whom also He made the ages and the universe. And He begat him not in appearance, but in truth, and subjected him to his own will, unchangeable and immutable, a perfect creature of God, but not as one of the creatures.” Arius’ use here of the word “begat,” and his qualification of the word “creature” by the adjective “perfect,” and by the statement that he was “not as one of the creatures” naturally tended to make Eusebius think. that Arius acknowledged a real divinity of the Son, and that appeared to him to be all that was necessary. Meanwhile Alexander in his epistle to Alexander of Constantinople (Theod. H. E. I. 4) had, as Eusebius says, misstated Arius’ opinion, or at least had attributed to him the belief that Christ was “made like all other men that have ever been born,” whereas Arius expressly disclaims such a belief. Alexander undoubtedly thought that that was the legitimate result to which the other views of Arius must lead; but Eusebius did not think so, and felt himself called upon to remonstrate with Alexander for what seemed to him the latter’s unfairness in the matter.
When we examine the Caesarean creed2 which Eusebius presented to the Council as a fair statement of his belief, we find nothing in it inconsistent with the acceptance of the kind of Arianism which he defends in his epistle to Alexander, and which he evidently supposed to be practically the Arianism of Arius himself. In his epistle to Euphration, however, Eusebius seems at first glance to go further and to give up the real divinity of the Son. His words are, “Since the Son is himself God, but not true God.” But we have no right to interpret these words, torn as they are from the context which might make their meaning perfectly plain, without due regard to Eusebius’ belief expressed elsewhere in this epistle, and in his epistle to Alexander which was evidently written about the same time. In the epistle to Alexander he clearly reveals a belief in the real divinity of the Son, while in the other fragment of his epistle to Euphration he dwells upon the subordination of the Son and approves the Arian opinion, which he had defended also in the other epistle, that the “Father was before the Son.” The expression, “not true God” (a very common Arian expression; see Athan. Orat. c. Arian. I. 6) seems therefore to have been used by Eusebius to express a belief, not that the Son did not possess real divinity (as the genuine Arians used it), but that he was not equal to the Father, who, to Eusebius’ thought, was “true God.” He indeed expressly calls the Son qeo", which shows—when the sense in which he elsewhere uses the word is considered—that he certainly did believe him to partake of Godhood, though, in some mysterious way, in a smaller degree, or in a less complete manner than the Father. That Eusebius misunderstood Arius, and did not perceive that he actually denied all real deity to the Son, was due doubtless in part to his lack of theological insight (Eusebius was never a great theologian), in part to his habitual dread of Sabellianism (of which Arius had accused Alexander, and toward which Eusebius evidently thought that the latter was tending), which led him to look with great favor upon the pronounced subordinationism of Arius, and thus to overlook the dangerous extreme to which Arius carried that subordinationism.
We are now, the writer hopes, prepared to admit that Eusebius, after the breaking out of the Arian controversy, became an Arian, as he understood Arianism, and supported that party with considerable vigor; and that not as a result of mere personal friendship, but of theological conviction. At the same time, he was then, as always, a peace-loving man, and while lending Arius his approval and support, he united with other Palestinian bishops in enjoining upon him submission to his bishop (Sozomen, H. E. I. 15). As an Arian, then, and yet possessed with the desire of securing, if it were possible, peace and harmony between the two factions, Eusebius appeared at the Council of Nicaea, and there signed a creed containing Athanasian doctrine and anathematizing the chief tenets of Arius. How are we to explain his conduct? We shall, perhaps, do best to let him explain his own conduct. In his letter to the church of Caesarea (preserved by Socrates, H. E. I. 8, as well as by other authors), he writes as follows:—
“What was transacted concerning ecclesiastical faith at the Great Council assembled at Nicaea you have probably learned, Beloved, from other sources, rumour being wont to precede the accurate account of what is doing. But lest in such reports the circumstances of the case have been misrepresented, we have been obliged to transmit to you, first, the formula of faith presented by ourselves; and next, the second, which the Fathers put forth with some additions to our words. Our own paper, then, which was read in the presence of our most pious Emperor, and declared to be good and unexceptionable, ran thus:—
“‘As we have received from the Bishops who preceded us, and in our first catechisings, and when we received the Holy Layer, and as we have learned from the divine Scriptures, and as we believed and taught in the presbytery, and in the Episcopate itself, so believing also at the time present, we report to you our faith, and it is this:—
“‘We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, God from God, Light from Light, Life from Life, Son Only-begotten, first-born of every creature, before all the ages, begotten from the Father, by whom also all things were made; who for our salvation was made flesh, and lived among men, and suffered, and rose again the third day, and ascended to the Father, and will come again in glory to judge quick and dead, And we believe also in One Holy Ghost; believing each of These to be and to exist, the Father truly Father, and the Son truly Son, and the Holy Ghost truly Holy Ghost, as also our Lord, sending forth His disciples for the preaching, said, Go, teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Concerning whom we confidently affirm that so we hold, and so we think, and so we have held aforetime, and we maintain this faith unto the death, anathematizing every godless heresy. That this we have ever thought from our heart and soul, from the time we recollect ourselves, and now think and say in truth, before God Almighty and our Lord Jesus Christ do we witness, being able by proofs to show and to convince you, that, even in times past, such has been our belief and preaching.’
“On this faith being publicly put forth by us, no room for contradiction appeared; but our most pious Emperor, before any one else, testified that it comprised most orthodox statements. He confessed, moreover, that such were his own sentiments; and he advised all present to agree to it, and to subscribe its articles and to assent to them, with the insertion of the single word, ‘One in substance’ (omoousio"), which, moreover, he interpreted as not in the sense of the affections of bodies, nor as if the Son subsisted from the Father, in the way of division, or any severance; for that the immaterial and intellectual and incorporeal nature could not be the subject of any corporeal affection, but that it became us to conceive of such things in a divine and ineffable manner. And such were the theological remarks of our most wise and most religious Emperor; but they, with a view to the addition of ‘One in substance,’ drew up the following formula:—
“‘We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible:— And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, Only-begotten, that is, from the Substance of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, very God from very God, begotten, not made, One in substance with the Father, by whom all things were made, both things in heaven and things in earth; who for us men and for our salvation came down and was made flesh, was made man, suffered, and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven, and cometh to judge quick and dead.
“‘And in the Holy Ghost. But those who say, “Once He was not,” and “Before His generation He was not,” and “He came to be from nothing,” or those who pretend that the Son of God is “Of other subsistence or substance,” or “created,” or “alterable,” or “mutable,” the Catholic Church anathematizes.’
“On their dictating this formula, we did not let it pass without inquiry in what sense they introduced ‘of the substance of the Father,’ and ‘one in substance with the Father.’ Accordingly questions and explanations took place, and the meaning of the words underwent the scrutiny of reason. And they professed that the phrase ‘of the substance’ was indicative of the Son’s being indeed from the Father, yet without being as if a part of Him. And with this understanding we thought good to assent to the sense of such religious doctrine, teaching, as it did, that the Son was from the Father, not, however, a part of His substance. On this account we assented to the sense ourselves, without declining even the term ‘One in substance,’ peace being the object which we set before us, and steadfastness in the orthodox view. In the same way we also admitted ‘begotten, not made’; since the Council alleged that ‘made’ was an appellative common to the other creatures which came to be through the Son, to whom the Son had no likeness. Wherefore, said they, He was not a work resembling the things which through Him came to be, but was of a substance which is too high for the level of any work, and which the Divine oracles teach to have been generated from the Father, the mode of generation being inscrutable and incalculable to every generated nature. And so, too, on examination there are grounds for saying that the Son is ‘one in substance’ with the Father; not in the way of bodies, nor like mortal beings, for He is not such by division of substance, or by severance; no, nor by any affection, or alteration, or changing of the Father’s substance and power (since from all such the ingenerate nature of the Father is alien), but because ‘one in substance with the Father’ suggests that the Son of God bears no resemblance to the generated creatures, but that to His Father alone who begat Him is He in every way assimilated, and that He is not of any other subsistence and substance, but from the Father.
“To which term also, thus interpreted, it appeared well to assent; since we were aware that, even among the ancients, some learned and illustrious Bishops and writers have used the term ‘one in substance’ in their theological teaching concerning the Father and Son. So much, then, be said concerning the faith which was published; to which all of us assented, not without inquiry, but according to the specified senses, mentioned before the most religious Emperor himself, and justified by the fore-mentioned considerations. And as to the anathematism published by them at the end of the Faith, it did not pain us, because it forbade to use words not in Scripture, from which almost all the confusion and disorder of the Church have come. Since, then, no divinely inspired Scripture has used the phrases, ‘out of nothing’ and ‘once He was not,’ and the rest which follow, there appeared no ground for using or teaching them; to which also we assented as a good decision, since it had not been our custom hitherto to use these terms. Moreover, to anathematize ‘Before His generation He was not’ did not seem preposterous, in that it is confessed by all that the Son of God was before the generation according to the flesh. Nay, our most religious Emperor did at the time prove, in a speech, that He was in being even according to His divine generation which is before all ages, since even before he was generated in energy, He was in virtue with the Father ingenerately, the Father being always Father, as King always and Saviour always, having all things in virtue, and being always in the same respects and in the same way. This we have been forced to transmit to you, Beloved, as making clear to you the deliberation of our inquiry and assent, and how reasonably we resisted even to the last minute, as long as we were offended at statements which differed from our own, but received without contention what no longer pained us, as soon as, on a candid examination of the sense of the words, they appeared to us to coincide with what we ourselves have professed in the faith which we have already published.”3
It will be seen that while the expressions “of the substance of the Father,” “begotten not made,” and “One in substance,” or “consubstantial with the Father,” are all explicitly anti-Arianistic, yet none of them contradicts the doctrines held by Eusebius before the Council, so far as we can learn them from his epistles to Alexander and Euphration and from the Caesarean creed. His own explanation of those expressions, which it is to be observed was the explanation given by the Council itself, and which therefore he was fully warranted in accepting,—even though it may not have been so rigid as to satisfy an Athanasius,—shows us how this is. He had believed before that the Son partook of the Godhood in very truth, that He was “begotten,” and therefore “not made,” if “made” implied something different from “begotten,” as the Nicene Fathers held that it did; and he had believed before that the “Son of God has no resemblance to created’ things, but is in every respect like the Father only who begat him, and that He is of no other substance or essence than the Father,” and therefore if that was what the word “Consubstantial” (omoousio") meant he could not do otherwise than accept that too.
It is clear that the dread of Sabellianism was still before the eyes of Eusebius, and was the cause of his hesitation in assenting to the various changes, especially to the use of the word omoousio", which had been a Sabellian word and had been rejected on that account by the Synod of Antioch, at which Paul of Samosata had been condemned some sixty years before.
It still remains to explain Eusebius’ sanction of the anathemas attached to the creed which expressly condemn at least one of the beliefs which he had himself formerly held, viz.: that the “Father was before the Son,” or as he puts it elsewhere, that “He who is begat him who was not.” The knot might of course be simply cut by supposing an act of hypocrisy on his part, but the writer is convinced that such a conclusion does violence to all that we know of Eusebius and of his subsequent treatment of the questions involved in this discussion. It is quite possible to suppose that a real change of opinion on his part took place during the sessions of the Council. Indeed when we realize how imperfect and incorrect a conception of Arianism he had before the Council began, and how clearly its true bearing was there brought out by its enemies, we can see that he could not do otherwise than change; that he must have become either an out and-out Arian, or an opponent of Arianism as he did. When he learned, and learned for the first time, that Arianism meant the denial of all essential divinity to Christ, and when he saw that it involved the ascription of mutability and of other finite attributes to him, he must either change entirely his views on those points or he must leave the Arian party. To him who with all his subordinationism had laid in all his writings so much stress on the divinity of the Word (even though he had not realized exactly what that divinity involved) it would have been a revolution in his Christian life and faith to have admitted what he now learned that Arianism involved. Sabellianism had been his dread, but now this new fear, which had aroused so large a portion of the Church, seized him too, and he felt that stand must be made against this too great separation of Father and Son, which was leading to dangerous results. Under the pressure of this fear it is not surprising that he should become convinced that the Arian formula—“there was a time when the Son was not ”—involved serious consequences, and that Alexander and his followers should have succeeded in pointing out to him its untruth, because it led necessarily to a false conclusion. It is not surprising, moreover, that they should have succeeded in explaining to him at least partially their belief, which, as his epistle to Alexander shows, had before been absolutely incomprehensible, that the Son was generated from all eternity, and that therefore the Father did not exist before him in a temporal sense.
He says toward the close of his epistle to the Caesarean church that he had not been accustomed to use such expressions as “There was a time when he was not,” “He came to be from nothing,” etc. And there is no reason to doubt that he speaks the truth. Even in his epistles to Alexander and Euphration he does not use those phrases (though he does defend the doctrine taught by the first of them), nor does Arius himself, in the epistle to Alexander upon which Eusebius apparently based his knowledge of the system, use those expressions, although he too teaches the same doctrine. The fact is that in that epistle Arius studiously avoids such favorite Arian phrases as might emphasize the differences between himself and Alexander, and Eusebius seems to have avoided them for the same reason. We conclude then that Eusebius was not an Arian (nor an adherent of Lucian) before 318, that soon after that date he became an Arian in the sense in which he understood Arianism, but that during the Council of Nicaea he ceased to be one in any sense. His writings in later years confirm the course of doctrinal development which we have supposed went on in his mind. He never again defends Arian doctrines in his works, and yet he never becomes an Athanasian in his emphasis upon the omoousion. In fact he represents a mild orthodoxy, which is always orthodox—when measured by the Nicene creed as interpreted by the Nicene Council—and yet is always mild. Moreover, he never acquired an affection for the word omoousio", which to his mind was bound up with too many evil associations ever to have a pleasant sound to him. He therefore studiously avoided it in his own writings, although clearly showing that he believed fully in what the Nicene Council had explained it to mean. It must be remembered that during many years of his later life he was engaged in controversy with Marcellus, a thorough-going Sabellian, who had been at the time of the Council one of the strongest of Athanasius’ colleagues. In his contest with him it was again anti-Sabellianistic polemics which absorbed him and increased his distaste for omoousion and minimized his emphasis upon the distinctively anti-Arianistie doctrines formulated at Nicaea. For any except the very wisest minds it was a matter of enormous difficulty to steer between the two extremes in those times of strife; and while combating Sabeilianism not to fall into Arianism, and while combating the latter not to be engulfed in the former. That Eusebius under the constant pressure of the one fell into the other at one time, and was in occasional danger of falling into it again in later years, can hardly be cited as an evidence either of wrong heart or of weak head. An Athanasius he was not, but neither was he an unsteady weather-cock, or an hypocritical time-server.
§6. The Council of Nicoea.
At the Council of Nicaea, which met pursuant to an imperial summons in the year 325 A.D., Eusebius played a very prominent part. A description of the opening scenes of the Council is given in his Vita Constantini, III. 10 sq. After the Emperor had entered in pomp and had taken his seat, a bishop who sat next to him upon his right arose and delivered in his honor the opening oration, to which the Emperor replied in a brief Latin address. There can be no doubt that this bishop was our Eusebius. Sozomen (H. E. I. 19) states it directly; and Eusebius, although he does not name the speaker, yet refers to him, as he had referred to the orator at the dedication of Paulinus’ church at Tyre, in such a way as to make it clear that it was himself; and moreover in his Vita Constantini, I. 1, he mentions the fact that he had in the midst of an assembly of the servants of God addressed an oration to the Emperor on the occasion of the latter’s vicennalia, i.e. in 325 a.d. On the other hand, however, Theodoret (H. E. I. 7) states that this opening oration was delivered by Eustathius, bishop of Antioch; while Theodore of Mopsuestia and Philostorgius (according to Nicetas Choniates, Thes. de arthod. fid. V. 7) assign it to Alexander of Alexandria. As Lightfoot suggests, it is possible to explain the discrepancy in the reports by supposing that Eustathius and Alexander, the two great patriarchs, first addressed a few words to the Emperor and that then Eusebius delivered the regular oration. This supposition is not at all unlikely, for it would be quite proper for the two highest ecclesiastics present to welcome the Emperor formally in behalf of the assembled prelates, before the regular oration was delivered by Eusebius. At the same time, the supposition that one or the other of the two great patriarchs must have delivered the opening address was such a natural one that it may have been adopted by Theodoret and the other writers referred to without any historical basis. It is in any case certain that the regular oration was delivered by Eusebius himself (see the convincing arguments adduced by Stroth, p. xxvii. sq.). This oration is no longer extant, but an idea of its character may be formed from the address delivered by Eusebius at the Emperor’s tricennalia (which is still extant under the title De laudibus Canstantini; see below, p. 43) and from the general tone of his Life of Constantine. It was avowedly a panegyric, and undoubtedly as fulsome as it was possible to make it, and his powers in that direction were by no means slight.
That Eusebius, instead of the bishop of some more prominent church, should have been selected to deliver the opening address, may have been in part owing to his recognized standing as the most learned man and the most famous writer in the Church, in part to the fact that he was not as pronounced a partisan as some of his distinguished brethren; for instance, Alexander of Alexandria, and Eusebius of Nicomedia; and finally in some measure to his intimate relations with the Emperor. How and when his intimacy with the latter grew up we do not know. As already remarked, he seems to have become personally acquainted with him many years before, when Constantine passed through Caesarea in the train of Diocletian, and it may be that a mutual friendship, which was so marked in later years, began at that time. However that may be, Eusebius seems to have possessed special advantages of one kind or another, enabling him to come into personal contact with official circles, and once introduced to imperial notice, his wide learning, sound common sense, genial temper and broad charity would insure him the friendship of the Emperor himself, or of any other worthy officer of state. We have no record of an intimacy between Constantine and Eusebius before the Council of Nicaea, but many clear intimations of it after that time. In fact, it is evident that during the last decade at least of the Emperor’s life, few, if any, bishops stood higher in his esteem or enjoyed a larger measure of his confidence. Compare for instance the records of their conversations (contained in the Vita Canstantini, I. 28 and II. 9), of their correspondence (ib. II. 46, III. 61, IV. 35 and 36), and the words of Constantine himself (ib. III. 60). The marked attention paid by him to the speeches delivered by Eusebius in his presence (ib. IV. 33 and 46) is also to be noticed. Eusebius’ intimacy with the imperial family is shown likewise in the tone of the letter which he wrote to Constantia, the sister of Constantine and wife of Licinius, in regard to a likeness of Christ which she had asked him to send her. The frankness and freedom with which he remonstrates with her for what he considers mistaken zeal on her part, reveal a degree of familiarity which could have come only from long and cordial relations between himself and his royal correspondent. Whatever other reasons therefore may have combined to indicate Eusebius as the most fitting person to deliver the oration in honor of the Emperor at the Council of Nicaea, there can be little doubt that Constantine’s personal friendship for him had much to do with his selection. The action of the Council on the subject of Arianism, and Eusebius’ conduct in the matter, have already been discussed. Of the bishops assembled at the Council, not far from three hundred in number (the reports of eye-witnesses vary from two hundred and fifty to three hundred and eighteen), all but two signed the Nicene creed as adopted by the Council. These two, both of them Egyptians, were banished with Arius to Illyria, while Eusebius of Nicomedia, and Theognis of Nicaea, who subscribed the creed itself but refused to assent to its anathemas, were also banished for a time, but soon yielded, and were restored to their churches.
Into the other purposes for which the Nicene Council was called,—the settlement of the dispute respecting the time of observing Easter and the healing of the Meletian schism,—it is not necessary to enter here. We have no record of the part which Eusebius took in these transactions. Lightfoot has abundantly shown (p. 313 sq.) that the common supposition that Eusebius was the author of the paschal cycle of nineteen years is false, and that there is no reason to suppose that he had anything particular to do with the decision of the paschal question at this Council.
§7. Continuance of the Arian Controversy. Eusebius’ Relations to the Two Parties.
The Council of Nicaea did not bring the Arian controversy to an end. The orthodox party was victorious, it is true, but the Arians were still determined, and could not give up their enmity against the opponents of Arius, and their hope that they might in the end turn the tables on their antagonists. Meanwhile, within a few years after the Council, a quarrel broke out between our Eusebius and Eustathius, bishop of Antioch, a resolute supporter of Nicene orthodoxy. According to Socrates (H. E. I. 23) and Sozomen (H. E. II. 18) Eustathius accused Eusebius of perverting the Nicene doctrines, while Eusebius denied the charge, and in turn taxed Eustathius with Sabellianism. The quarrel finally became so serious that it was deemed necessary to summon a Council for the investigation of Eustathius’ orthodoxy and the settlement of the dispute. This Council met in Antioch in 330 a.d. (see Tillemont, VII. p. 651 sq., for a discussion of the date), and was made up chiefly of bishops of Arian or semi-Arian tendencies. This fact, however, brings no discredit upon Eusebius. The Council was held in another province, and he can have had nothing to do with its composition. In fact, convened, as it was, in Eustathius’ own city, it must have been legally organized; and indeed Eustathius himself acknowledged its jurisdiction by appearing before it to answer the charges made against him. Theodoret’s absurd account of the origin of the synod and of the accusations brought against Eustathius (H. E. I. 21) bears upon its face the stamp of falsehood, and is, as Hefele has shown (Canciliengeschichte, I. 451), hopelessly in error in its chronology. It is therefore to be rejected as quite worthless. The decision of the Council doubtless fairly represented the views of the majority of the bishops of that section, for we know that Arianism had a very strong hold there. To think of a packed Council and of illegal methods of procedure in procuring the verdict against Eustathius is both unnecessary and unwarrantable. The result of the Council was the deposition of Eustathius from his bishopric and his banishment by the Emperor to Illyria, where he afterward died. There is a division of opinion among our sources in regard to the immediate successor of Eustathius. All of them agree that Eusebius was asked to become bishop of Antioch, but that he refused the honor, and that Euphronius was chosen in his stead. Socrates and Sozomen, however, inform us that the election of Eusebius took place immediately after the deposition of Eustathius, while Theodoret (H. E. I. 22) names Eulalius as Eustathius’ immediate successor, and states that he lived but a short time, and that Eusebius was then asked to succeed him. Theodoret is Supported by Jerome (Chron., year of Abr. 2345) and by Philostorgius (H. E. III. 15), both of whom insert a bishop Eulalius between Eustathius and Euphronius. It is easier to suppose that Socrates and Sozomen may have omitted so unimportant a name at this point than that the other three witnesses inserted it without warrant. Socrates indeed implies in the same chapter that his knowledge of these affairs is limited, and it is not surprising that Eusebius’ election, which caused a great stir, should have been connected in the mind of later writers immediately with Eustathius’ deposition, and the intermediate steps forgotten. It seems probable, therefore, that immediately after the condemnation of Eustathius, Eulalius was appointed in his place, perhaps by the same Council, and that after his death, a few months later, Eusebius, who had meanwhile gone back to Caesarea, was elected in due order by another Council of neighboring bishops summoned for the purpose, and that he was supported by a large party of citizens. It is noticeable that the letter written by the Emperor to the Council, which wished to transfer Eusebius to Antioch (see Vita Const. III. 62), mentions in its salutation the names of five bishops, but among them is only one (Theodotus who is elsewhere named as present at the Council which deposed Eustathius, while Eusebius of Nicomedia, and Theognis of Nicaea, as well as others whom we know to have been on hand on that occasion, are not referred to by the Emperor. This fact certainly seems to point to a different council.
It is greatly to Eusebius’ credit that he refused the call extended to him. Had he been governed simply by selfish ambition he would certainly have accepted it, for the patriarchate of Antioch stood at that time next to Alexandria in point of honor in the Eastern Church. The Emperor commended him very highly for his decision, in his epistles to the people of Antioch and to the Council (Vita Const. III. 60, 62), and in that to Eusebius himself (ib. III. 61). He saw in it a desire on Eusebius’ part to observe the ancient canon of the Church, which forbade the transfer of a bishop from one see to another. But that in itself can hardly have been sufficient to deter the latter from accepting the high honor offered him, for it was broken without scruple on all sides. It is more probable that he saw that the schism of the Antiochenes would be embittered by the induction into the bishopric of that church of Eustathius’ chief opponent, and that he did not feel that he had a right so to divide the Church of God. Eusebius’ general character, as known to us, justifies us in supposing that this high motive had much to do with his decision. We may suppose also that so difficult a place can have had no very great attractions for a man of his age and of his peace-loving disposition and scholarly tastes. In Caesarea he had spent his life; there he had the great library of Pamphilus at his disposal, and leisure to pursue his literary work. In Antioch he would have found himself compelled to plunge into the midst of quarrels and seditions of all kinds, and would have been obliged to devote his entire attention to the performance of his official duties. His own tastes therefore must have conspired with his sense of duty to lead him to reject the proffered call and to remain in the somewhat humbler station which he already occupied.
Not long after the deposition of Eustathius, the Arians and their sympathizers began to work more energetically to accomplish the ruin of Athanasius, their greatest foe. He had become Alexander’s successor as bishop of Alexandria in the year 326, and was the acknowledged head of the orthodox party. If he could be brought into discredit, there might be hopes of restoring Arius to his position in Alexandria, and of securing for Arianism a recognition, and finally a dominating influence in the church at large. To the overthrow of Athanasius therefore all good Arians bent their energies. They found ready accomplices in the schismatical Meletians of Egypt, who were bitter enemies of the orthodox church of Alexandria. It was useless to accuse Athanasius of heterodoxy; he was too widely known as the pillar of the orthodox faith. Charges must be framed of another sort, and of a sort to stir up the anger of the Emperor against him. The Arians therefore and the Meletians began to spread the most vile and at the same time absurd stories about Athanasius (see especially the latter’s Apol. c. Arian. §59 sq.). These at last became so notorious that the Emperor summoned Athanasius to appear and make his defense before a council of bishops to be held in Caesarea (Sozomen, H. E. II. 25; Theodoret, H. E. I. 28). Athanasius, however, fearing that the Council would be composed wholly of his enemies, and that it would therefore be impossible to secure fair play, excused himself and remained away. But in the following year (see Sozomen, H. E. II, 25) he received from the Emperor a summons to appear before a council at Tyre. The summons was too peremptory to admit of a refusal, and Athanasius therefore attended, accompanied by many of his devoted adherents (see Sozomen, ib.; Theodoret, H. E. I. 30; Socrates, H. E. I. 28; Athanasius, Apol. c. Arian. §71 sq.; Eusebius, Vita Const. IV. 41 sq., and Epiphanius, Hoer. LXVIII. 8). After a time, perceiving that he had no chance of receiving fair play, he suddenly withdrew from the Council and proceeded directly to Constantinople, in order to lay his case before the Emperor himself, and to induce the latter to allow him to meet his accusers in his presence, and plead his cause before him. There was nothing for the Synod to do after his flight but to sustain the charges brought against him, some of which he had not stayed to refute, and to pass condemnation upon him. Besides various immoral and sacrilegious deeds of which he was accused, his refusal to appear before the Council of Caesarea the previous year was made an important item of the prosecution. It was during this Council that Potamo flung at Eusebius the taunt of cowardice, to which reference was made above, and which doubtless did much to confirm Eusebius’ distrust of and hostility to the Athanasian party-Whether Eusebius of Caesarea, as is commonly supposed, or Eusebius of Nicomedia, or some other bishop, presided at this Council we are not able to determine. The account of Epiphanius seems to imply that the former was presiding at the time that Potamo made his untimely accusation. Our sources are, most of them, silent on the matter, but according to Valesius, Eusebius of Nicomedia is named by some of them, but which they are I have not been able to discover. We learn from Socrates (H. E. I. 28), as well as from other sources, that this Synod of Tyre was held in the thirtieth year of Constantine’s reign, that is, between July, 334, and July, 335. As the Council was closed only in time for the bishops to reach Jerusalem by July, 335, it is probable that it was convened in 335 rather than in 334. From Sozomen (H. E. II. 25) we learn also that the Synod of Caesarea had been held the preceding year, therefore in 333 or 334 (the latter being the date commonly given by historians). While the Council of Tyre was still in session, the bishops were commanded by Constantine to proceed immediately to Jerusalem to take part in the approaching festival to be held there on the occasion of his tricennalia. The scene was one of great splendor. Bishops were present from all parts of the world, and the occasion was marked by the dedication of the new and magnificent basilica which Constantine had erected upon the site of Calvary (Theodoret, I. 31; Socrates, I. 28 and 33; Sozomen, II. 26; Eusebius, Vita Canst. IV. 41 and 43). The bishops gathered in Jerusalem at this time held another synod before separating. In this they completed the work begun at Tyre, by re-admitting Arius and his adherents to the communion of the Church (see Socrates, 1. 33, and Sozomen, II. 27). According to Sozomen the Emperor, having been induced to recall Arius from banishment in order to reconsider his case, was presented by the latter with a confession of faith, which was so worded as to convince Constantine of his orthodoxy. He therefore sent Arius and his companion Euzoius to the bishops assembled in Jerusalem with the request that they would examine the confession, and if they were satisfied with its orthodoxy would re-admit them to communion. The Council, which was composed largely of Arius’ friends and sympathizers, was only too glad to accede to the Emperor’s request.
Meanwhile Athanasius had induced Constantine, out of a sense of justice, to summon the bishops that had condemned him at Tyre to give an account of their proceedings before the Emperor himself at Constantinople. This unexpected, and, doubtless, not altogether welcome summons came while the bishops were at Jerusalem, and the majority of them at once returned home in alarm, while only a few answered the call and repaired to Constantinople. Among these were Eusebius of Nicomedia, Theognis of Nicaea, Patrophilus of Scythopolis, and other prominent Arians, and with them our Eusebius (Athanasius, Apol. c. Arian. §§86 and 87; Socrates, I. 33–35; Sozomen, II. 28). The accusers of Athanasius said nothing on this occasion in regard to his alleged immoralities, for which he had been condemned at Tyre, but made another equally trivial accusation against him, and the result was his banishment to Gaul. Whether Constantine banished him because he believed the charge brought against him, or because he wished to preserve him from the machinations of his enemies (as asserted by his son Constantine, and apparently believed by Athanasius himself; see his Apol. c. Arian. §87), or because he thought that Athanasius’ absence would allay the troubles in the Alexandrian church we do not know. The latter supposition seems most probable. In any case he was not recalled from banishment until after Constantine’s death. Our Eusebius has been severely condemned by many historians for the part taken by him in the Eustathian controversy and especially in the war against Athanasius. In justice to him a word or two must be spoken in his defense. So far as his relations to Eustathius are concerned, it is to be noticed that the latter commenced the controversy by accusing Eusebius of heterodoxy. Eusebius himself did not begin the quarrel, and very likely had no desire to engage in any such doctrinal strife; but he was compelled to defend himself, and in doing so he could not do otherwise than accuse Eustathius of Sabellianism; for if the latter was not satisfied with Eusebius’ orthodoxy, which Eusebius himself believed to be truly Nicene, then he must be leaning too far toward the other extreme; that is, toward Sabellianism. There is no reason to doubt that Eusebius was perfectly straightforward and honorable throughout the whole controversy, and at the Council of Antioch itself. That he was not actuated by unworthy motives, or by a desire for revenge, is evinced by his rejection of the proffered call to Antioch, the acceptance of which would have given him so good an opportunity to triumph over his fallen enemy. It must be admitted, in fact, that Eusebius comes out of this controversy without a stain of any kind upon his character. He honestly believed Eustathius to be a Sabellian, and he acted accordingly.
Eusebius has been blamed still more severely for his treatment of Athanasius. But again the facts must be looked at impartially. It is necessary always to remember that Sabellianism was in the beginning and remained throughout his life the heresy which he most dreaded, and which he had perhaps most reason to dread. He must, even at the Council of Nicaea, have suspected Athanasius, who laid so much stress upon the unity of essence on the part of Father and Son, of a leaning toward Sabellianistic principles; and this suspicion must have been increased when he discovered, as he believed, that Athanasitis’ most staunch supporter, Eustathius, was a genuine Sabellian. Moreover, on the other side, it is to be remembered that Eusebius of Nicomedia, and all the other leading Arians, had signed the Nicene creed and had proclaimed themselves thoroughly in sympathy with its teaching. Our Eusebius, knowing the change that had taken place in his own mind upon the controverted points, may well have believed that their views had undergone even a greater change, and that they were perfectly honest in their protestations of orthodoxy. And finally, when Arius himself presented a confession of faith which led the Emperor, who had had a personal interview with him, to believe that he had altered his views and was in complete harmony with the Nicene faith, it is not surprising that our Eusebius, who was naturally unsuspicious, conciliatory and peace-loving, should think the same thing, and be glad to receive Arius back into communion, while at the same time remaining perfectly loyal to the orthodoxy of the Nicene creed which he had subscribed. Meanwhile his suspicions of the Arian party being in large measure allayed, and his distrust of the orthodoxy of Athanasius and of his adherents being increased by the course of events, it was only natural that he should lend more or less credence to the calumnies which were so industriously circulated against Athanasius. To charge him with dishonesty for being influenced by these reports, which seem to us so absurd and palpably calumnious, is quite unwarranted. Constantine, who was, if not a theologian, at least a clear-headed and sharp-sighted man, believed them, and why should Eusebius not have done the same? The incident which took place at the Council of Tyre in connection with Potamo and himself was important; for whatever doubts he may have had up to that time as to the truth of the accusations made against Athanasius and his adherents, Potamo’s conduct convinced him that the charges of tyranny and high-handed dealing brought against the whole party were quite true. It could not be otherwise than that he should believe that the good of the Alexandrian church, and therefore of the Church at large, demanded the deposition of the seditious and tyrannous archbishop, who was at the same time quite probably Sabellianistic in his tendencies. It must in justice be noted that there is not the slightest reason to suppose that our Eusebius had anything to do with the dishonorable intrigues of the Arian party throughout this controversy. Athanasius, who cannot say enough in condemnation of the tactics of Eusebius of Nicomedia and his supporters, never mentions Eusebius of Caesarea in a tone of bitterness. He refers to him occasionally as a member of the opposite party, but he has no complaints to utter against him, as he has against the others. This is very significant, and should put an end to all suspicions of unworthy conduct on Eusebius’ part. It is to be observed that the latter, though having good cause as he believed to condemn Athanasius and his adherents, never acted as a leader in the war against them. His name, if mentioned at all, occurs always toward the end of the list as one of the minor combatants, although his position and his learning would have entitled him to take the most prominent position in the whole affair, if he had cared to. He was but true to his general character in shrinking from such a controversy, and in taking part in it only in so far as his conscience compelled him to. We may suspect indeed that he would not have made one of the small party that repaired to Constantinople in response to the Emperor’s imperious summons had it not been for the celebration of Constantine’s tricennalia, which was taking place there at the time, and at which he delivered, on the special invitation of the Emperor and in his presence, one of his greatest orations. Certain it is, from the account which he gives in his Vita Constantini, that both in Constantinople and in Jerusalem the festival of the tricennalia, with its attendant ceremonies, interested him much more than did the condemnation of Athanasius.
§8. Eusebius and Marcellus.
It was during this visit to Constantinople that another synod was held, at which Eusebius was present, and the result of which was the condemnation and deposition of the bishop Marcellus of Ancyra (see Socrates, I. 36; Sozomen, II. 33; Eusebius, Contra Marc. II. 4). The attitude of our Eusebius toward Marcellus is again significant of his theological tendencies. Marcellus had written a book against Asterius, a prominent Arian, in which, in his zeal for the Nicene orthodoxy, he had laid himself open to the charge of Sabellianism. On this account he was deposed by the Constantinopolitan Synod, and our Eusebius was urged to write a work exposing his errors and defending the action of the Council. As a consequence he composed his two works against Marcelins which will be described later. That Eusebius, if not in the case of Athanasius and possibly not in that of Eustathius, had at least in the present case good ground for the belief that Marcellus was a Sabellian, or Sabellianistic in tendency, is abundantly proved by the citations which he makes from Marcellus’ own works; and, moreover, his judgment and that of the Synod was later confirmed even by Athanasius himself. Though not suspecting Marcellus for some time, Athanasius finally became convinced that he had deviated from the path of orthodoxy, and, as Newman has shown (in his introduction to Athanasius’ fourth discourse against the Arians, Oxford Library of the Fathers, vol. 19, p. 503 sq.), directed that discourse against his errors and those of his followers.
The controversy with Marcellus seems to have been the last in which Eusebius was engaged, and it was opposition to the dreaded heresy of Sabellius which moved him here as in all the other cases. It is important to emphasize, however, what is often overlooked, that though Eusebius during these years was so continuously engaged in controversy with one or another of the members of the anti-Arian party, there is no evidence that he ever deviated from the doctrinal position which he took at the Council of Nicaea. After that date it was never Arianism which he consciously supported; it was never the Nicene orthodoxy which he opposed. He supported those members of the old Arian party who had signed the Nicene creed and protested that they accepted its teaching, against those members of the opposite party whom he believed to be drifting toward Sabellianism, or acting tyrannously and unjustly toward their opponents. The anti-Sabellianistic interest influenced him all the time, but his post-Nicene writings contain no evidence that he had fallen back into the Arianizing position which he had held before 325. They reveal, on the contrary, a fair type of orthodoxy, colored only by its decidedly anti-Sabellian emphasis.
§9. The Death of Eusebius.
In less than two years after the celebration of his tricennalia, on May 22, 337 a.d., the great Constantine breathed his last, in Nicomedia, his former Capital. Eusebius, already an old man, produced a lasting testimonial of his own unbounded affection and admiration for the first Christian emperor, in his Life of Constantine. Soon afterward he followed his imperial friend at the advanced age of nearly, if not quite, eighty years. The exact date of his death is unknown, but it can be fixed approximately. We know from Sozomen (H. E. III. 5) that in the summer of 341, when a council was held at Antioch (on the date of the Council, which we are able to fix with great exactness, see Hefele, Conciliengesch. I. p. 502 sq.) Acacius, Eusebius’ successor, was already bishop of Caesarea. Socrates (H. E. II. 4) and Sozomen (H. E. III. 5) both mention the death of Eusebius and place it shortly before the death of Constantine the younger, which took place early in 340 (see Tillemont’s Hist. des Emp. IV. p. 357 sq.), and after the intrigues had begun which resulted in Athanasius’ second banishment. We are thus led to place Eusebius’ death late in the year 339, or early in the year 340 (cf. Lightfoot’s article, p. 318).
Chapter II. The Writings of Eusebius.
§1. Eusebius as a Writer.
Eusebius was one of the most voluminous writers of antiquity, and his labors covered almost every field of theological learning. In the words of Lightfoot he was “historian, apologist, topographer, exegete, critic, preacher, dogmatic writer, in turn.” It is as an historian that he is best known, but the importance of his historical writings should not cause us to overlook, as modern scholars have been prone to do, his invaluable productions in other departments. Light-foot passes a very just judgment upon the importance of his works in the following words: “If the permanent utility of an author’s labors may be taken as a test of literary excellence, Eusebius will hold a very high place indeed. The Ecclesiastical History is absolutely unique and indispensable. The Chronicle is the vast storehouse of information relating to the ancient monarchies of the world. The Preparation and Demonstration are the most important contributions to theology in their own province. Even the minor works, such as the Martyrs of Palestine, the Life of Constantine, the Questions addressed to Stephanus and to Marinus, and others, would leave an irreparable blank, if they were obliterated. And the same permanent value attaches also to his more technical treatises. The Canons and Sections have never yet been superseded for their particular purpose. The Topography of Palestine is the most important contribution to our knowledge in its own department. In short, no ancient ecclesiastical writer has laid posterity under heavier obligations.”
If we look in Eusebius’ works for evidences of brilliant genius we shall be disappointed. He did not possess a great creative mind like Origen’s or Augustine’s. His claim to greatness rests upon his vast erudition and his sterling sense. His powers of acquisition were remarkable and his diligence in study unwearied. He had at his command undoubtedly more acquired material than any man of his age, and he possessed that true literary and historical instinct which enabled him to select from his vast stores of knowledge those things which it was most worth his while to tell to the world. His writings therefore remain valuable while the works of many others, perhaps no less richly equipped than himself for the mission of adding to the sum of human knowledge, are entirely forgotten. He thus had the ability to do more than acquire; he had the ability to impart to others the very best of that which he acquired, and to make it useful to them. There is not in his writings the brilliancy which we find in some others, there is not the same sparkle and freshness of new and suggestive thought, there is not the same impress of an overmastering individuality which transforms everything it touches. There is, however, a true and solid merit which marks his works almost without exception, and raises them above the commonplace. His exegesis is superior to that of most of his contemporaries, and his apologetics is marked by fairness of statement, breadth of treatment, and instinctive appreciation of the difference between the important and the unimportant points under discussion, which give to his apologetic works a permanent value. His wide acquaintance, too, with other systems than his own, and with the products of Pagan as well as Christian thought, enabled him to see things in their proper relations and to furnish a treatment of the great themes of Christianity adapted to the wants of those who had looked beyond the confines of a single school. At the same time it must be acknowledged that he was not always equal to the grand opportunities which his acquaintance with the works and lives of other men and other peoples opened before him. He does not always reveal the possession of that high quality of genius which is able to interpret the most various forces and to discover the higher principles of unity which alone make them intelligible; indeed, he often loses himself completely in a wilderness of thoughts and notions which have come to him from other men and other ages, and the result is dire confusion.
We shall be disappointed, too, if we seek in the works of Eusebius for evidences of a refined literary taste, or for any of the charms which attach to the writings of a great master of composition. His style is, as a rule, involved and obscure, often painfully rambling and incoherent. This quality is due in large part to the desultoriness of his thinking. He did not often enough clearly define and draw the boundaries of his subject before beginning to write upon it. He apparently did much of his thinking after he had taken pen in hand, and did not subject what he had thus produced to a sufficiently careful revision, if to any revision at all. Thoughts and suggestions poured in upon him while he was writing; and he was not always able to resist the temptation to insert them as they came, often to the utter perversion of his train of thought, and to the ruin of the coherency and perspicuity of his style. It must be acknowledged, too, that his literary taste was, on the whole, decidedly vicious. Whenever a flight of eloquence is attempted by him, as it is altogether too often, his style becomes hopelessly turgid and pretentious. At such times his skill in mixing metaphors is something astounding (compare, for instance, H. E. II. 14). On the other hand, his works contain not a few passages of real beauty. This is especially true of his Martyrs of Palestine, where his enthusiastic admiration for and deep sympathy with the heroes of the faith cause him often to forget himself and to describe their sufferings in language of genuine fire or pathos. At times, too, when he has a sharply defined and absorbing aim in mind, and when the subject with which he is dealing does not seem to him to demand rhetorical adornment, he is simple and direct enough in his language, showing in such cases that his commonly defective style is not so much the consequence of an inadequate command of the Greek tongue as of desultory thinking and vicious literary taste.
But while we find much to criticise in Eusebius’ writings, we ought not to fail to give him due credit for the conscientiousness and faithfulness with which he did his work. He wrote often, it is true, too rapidly for the good of his style, and he did not always revise his works as carefully as he should have done; but we seldom detect undue haste in the collection of materials or carelessness and negligence in the use of them. He seems to have felt constantly the responsibilities which rested upon him as a scholar and writer, and to have done his best to meet those responsibilities. It is impossible to avoid contrasting him in this respect with the most learned man of the ancient Latin Church, St. Jerome. The haste and carelessness with which the latter composed his De Viris Illustribus, and with which he translated and continued Eusebius’ Chronicle, remain an everlasting disgrace to him. An examination of those and of some others of Jerome’s works must tend to raise Eusebius greatly in our esteem. He was at least conscientious and honest in his work, and never allowed himself to palm off ignorance as knowledge, or to deceive his readers by sophistries, misstatements, and pure inventions. He aimed to put the reader into possession of the knowledge which he had himself acquired, but was always conscientious enough to stop there, and not attempt to make fancy play the role of fact.
One other point, which was mentioned some pages back, and to which Lightfoot calls particular attention, should be referred to here, because of its bearing upon the character of Eusebius’ writings. He was, above all things, an apologist; and the apologetic aim governed both the selection of his subjects and method of his treatment. He composed none of his works with a purely scientific aim. He thought always of the practical result to be attained, and his selection of material and his choice of method were governed by that. And yet we must recognize the fact that this aim was never narrowing in its effects. He took a broad view of apologetics, and in his lofty conception of the Christian religion he believed that every field of knowledge might be laid under tribute to it. He was bold enough to be confident that history, philosophy, and science all contribute to our understanding and appreciation of divine truth; and so history and philosophy and science were studied and handled by him freely and fearlessly. He did not feel the need of distorting truth of any kind because it might work injury to the religion which he professed. On the contrary, he had a sublime faith which led him to believe that all truth must have its place and its mission, and that the cause of Christianity will be benefited by its discovery and diffusion. As an apologist, therefore, all fields of knowledge had an interest for him; and he was saved that pettiness of mind and narrowness of outlook which are sometimes characteristic of those who write with a purely practical motive.
§2. Catalogue of his Works.There is no absolutely complete edition of Eusebius’ extant works. The only one which can lay claim even to relative completeness is that of Migne: Eusebii Pamphili, Coesarea Palestinoe Episcopi, Opera omnia qu’ extant, curis variorum, nempe: Henrici Valesii, Francisci Vigeri, Bernardi Montfauconii, Card. Angelo Maii edita; collegit et denuo recognovit J. P. Migne. Par. 1857. 6 vols (tom. XIX.-XXIV. of Migne’s Patrologia Groeca). This edition omits the works which are extant only in Syriac versions, also the Topica, and some brief but important Greek fragments (among them the epistles to Alexander and Euphration). The edition, however, is invaluable and cannot be dispensed with. References to it (under the simple title Opera) will be given below in connection with those works which it contains. Many of Eusebius’ writings, especially the historical, have been published separately. Such editions will be mentioned in their proper place in the Catalogue.
More or less incomplete lists of our author’s writings are given by Jerome (De vir. ill. 87); by Nicephorus Callistus (H. E. VI. 37); by Ebedjesu (in Assemani’s Bibl. Orient. III. p. 18 sq.); by Photius (Bibl. 9–13, 27, 39, 127); and by Suidas (who simply copies the Greek version of Jerome). Among modern works all the lives of Eusebius referred to in the previous chapter give more or less extended catalogues of his writings. In addition to the works mentioned there, valuable lists are also found in Lardner’s Credibility, Part II chap. 72, and especially in Fabricius’ Bibl. Groeca (ed. 1714), vol. VI. p. 30 sq.
The writings of Eusebius that are known to us, extant and non-extant, may be classified for convenience’ sake under the following heads: I. Historical. II. Apologetic. III. Polemic. IV. Dogmatic. V. Critical and Exegetical. VI. Biblical Dictionaries. VII. Orations. VIII. Epistles. IX. Spurious or doubtful works. The classification is necessarily somewhat artificial, and claims to be neither exhaustive nor exclusive.4