Epistle of Athanasius,
Archbishop of Alexandria,
on the Councils held at Ariminum in Italy
and at Seleucia in Isauria


Prefatory Notice

{61} THE following Epistle consists of three parts or six chapters, of which the first two chapters alone answer to the received title "Of the Synods of Ariminum and Seleucia." So much as this was contemporaneous history, from information gained with remarkable despatch, though coming short of the date of the catastrophe at Ariminum, when to "the astonishment" of the great mass of its members, the Council "found itself Arian." This was in the year 359. In 361 Athanasius seems to have added to his work several later documents. Vid. Ed. Ben. § 30, 31, and their preceding Monitum.

The place is unknown from which he wrote. In 359 he seems to have been in hiding; Tillemont, and Gibbon after him, suggest in consequence of the wording of his opening sentences, that he was present incognito at Seleucia.

The Arian party had long wished to accomplish the meeting of a general Council which might supersede that of Nicĉa. They had effected one great Eastern Council in 341 at Antioch, and another at Sirmium in 351. And now in 359 they aimed at a gathering of both East and West. It was originally convoked for Nicĉa, the site of that first and great Council which was to be put aside, but the party of Basil the Semi-arian, not approving of this choice, Nicomedia was substituted. The Bishops had set out when an earthquake threw the city into ruins. Nicĉa was then substituted, this time at Basil's wish, Soz. iv. 16, but it was considered too near the seat of the {62} earthquake to be safe. Then the Eusebian or Acacian influence prevailed, and the Council was divided into two, one portion to meet at Ariminum, the other at Seleucia; but at first Ancyra, Basil's see, was to have been one of them (where a celebrated Council of Semi-arians actually was sitting at the time), Hil. de Syn. 8, but this was changed for Seleucia. A delegacy of Bishops from each Province had been summoned to Nicomedia; but to Nicĉa, according to Sozomen, all Bishops whatever, whose health admitted of the journey; Hilary, however, says only one or two from each province of Gaul were summoned to Ariminum, he himself being at Seleucia by compulsion of the local magistrate, as an exile there for the faith, Sulp. ii. 57.

As to this bipartite Council, it was the concluding act of a long series of heretical attempts to commit the Church through her Synods to Arian doctrine, attempts which Athanasius has here, in his chapters iii. and iv., recorded and illustrated, after his manner, viz., by the documentary evidence of the creeds which were successively passed through those Synods, and of the State papers which arose out of them.

Chapters v. and vi., with which the Epistle ends, recur to the defence of the Homoüsion, which has been the subject of the foregoing Epistle. The latter of the two chapters is specially directed towards the removal of the difficulties which the Semi-arians felt in accepting the Nicene definition, a party to whom Athanasius is as gentle as he is fierce with the Arians.

It may be added, as has indeed appeared in what has gone before, that the large Arian party was divided into three:—(1) the pure Arians or Anomœans, who would not even allow that the Son was like the Father; (2) the chief object of their attack, the Homœüsians or Semi-arians, who maintained that the Son was like the Father even in Substance; (3) and the Court party, Eusebians or Acacians, who would not go farther than to say vaguely that our Lord was like the Father, and wished to keep to Scripture terms. {63}


Epistle of Athanasius, &c.

Chapter 1.

1. PERHAPS news has reached even yourselves concerning the Council, which is at this time the subject of general conversation; for letters both from the Emperor and the Prefects [Note 1] were circulated far and wide for its convocation. However, you take such interest in the events which have occurred, that I am led to give you an account of what I have seen myself or have ascertained, which may save you from the suspense attendant on the reports of others; and this the more, because there are parties who are in the practice of misrepresenting what is going on.

2. At Nicĉa then which had been fixed upon, the Council did not meet, but a second edict was issued, convening the Western Bishops at Ariminum in Italy, and the Eastern at Seleucia the Rocky, as it is called, in Isauria. The professed reason given out for such a meeting was to treat of the faith touching our Lord Jesus {64} Christ; and those who alleged it, were Ursacius and Valens, and one Germinius, from Pannonia; and from Syria, Acacius, Eudoxius, and Patrophilus of Scythopolis [Note 2]. These men who had always been of the Arian party, and understood neither how they believed nor whereof they affirmed, and were silently deceiving first one and then another, and scattering the second sowing of their heresy, persuaded some persons of consequence, and the Emperor Constantius among them, being a heretic, on some pretence about the Faith, to call a Council; under the idea that they should be able to put into the shade the Nicene Council, and prevail upon all to turn round, to the establishment of impiety everywhere instead of the Truth.

3. Now here I marvel first, and consider that I shall carry every thinking man whomsoever with me, that, whereas a Catholic Council had been fixed, and all were looking forward to it, it was all of a sudden divided in two, so that one part met here, and the other there. However, this would seem providential, in order, in each Council, to exhibit the faith without guile or corruption of the one party, and to expose the dishonesty and duplicity of the other. Next, this too was on the mind of myself and my true brethren here, and made us anxious, the impropriety in itself of this great gathering which we saw in progress; for what then pressed so much, that the whole world was to be thrown into confusion [Note 3], and those who at the time bore the profession of clerks, should run about far and near, seeking forsooth how best to learn to believe in our Lord Jesus {65 | ED. BEN. § 1-3.} Christ? Certainly, if they were believers already, they would not be seeking, as though they were not. And to the catechumens, this was no small scandal; but to the heathen, it was something more than common, and even furnished broad merriment, that Christians, as if waking out of sleep at this time of day, should be making out how they were to believe concerning Christ; while their professed clerks, though claiming deference from their flocks as teachers, were unbelievers on their own showing, since they were seeking what they had not. And the party of Ursacius, who were at the bottom of all this, did not understand what wrath they were storing up against themselves, as our Lord says by the sacred writers, Woe unto them, through whom My Name is blasphemed among the Gentiles; and by His own mouth in the Gospels, Whoso shall offend one of these little ones, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea, than, as Luke adds, that he should offend one of these little ones.

4. What defect in religious teaching was there in the Catholic Church, that they should be searching after faith now, and should prefix this year's Consulate to the profession they make of it? Yet Ursacius, and Valens, and Germinius, and their friends have done, what never took place, never yet was heard of, among Christians. After putting into writing what it pleased themselves to believe, they prefix to it the Consulate, and the month and the day of the current year [Note 4]; thereby to show all thinking men that {66} their faith dates, not from of old, but now, from the reign of Constantius; for whatever they write has a view to their own heresy. Moreover, though pretending to write about the Lord, they nominate another sovereign for themselves, Constantius, who has provided for them this supremacy of impiety; and they who deny that the Son is everlasting, have called him Eternal Emperor instead; such foes of Christ are they in behalf of their impiety.

5. But perhaps the dates in the holy Prophets form their excuse for naming the Consulate; so bold a pretence, however, will serve but to publish more fully their ignorance of the subject. For the prophecies of the sacred writers do indeed specify their times; (for instance, Esaias and Osee lived in the days of Ozias, Joatham, Achaz, and Ezekias; Jeremias, in the days of Josias; Ezekiel and Daniel prophesied under Cyrus and Darius; and others in other times;) yet they were not laying the foundations of divine religion; that was before their date, and was always, for before the foundation of the world had God prepared it for us in Christ. Nor were they signifying the respective dates of their own faith; for they had been believers before these dates, which did but belong to their own preaching. And this preaching chiefly related to the Saviour's coming, and secondarily to what was to happen to Israel and the nations; but our modern sages, not in historical narration, nor in prediction of the future, but, after writing, "The Catholic Faith was published," immediately add the Consulate and the month and the date; that, as the sacred writers were wont to set down the dates of their histories, and of their own ministries, so these may mark the date of their own faith. Nay, it would be well if they had written about "their own," (for it does date from today) and had not taken in hand "the Catholic;" for they did not write, "Thus we believe," but "the Catholic Faith was published." {67 | ED. BEN. § 3-5.}

6. The boldness then of their purpose shows how little they understand the subject; while the originality of their phrase befits their heresy. For thus they show in set words when it was that their own faith began, and from that same time present they would have it proclaimed. And, as according to the Evangelist Luke, there was made a decree concerning the registration, and this decree before was not, but began from those days in which it was made by its framer, they also in like manner, by writing, "The Faith is now published," showed that the views of their heresy are young, and did not exist before. But when they add "of the Catholic Faith," they have fallen before they know it into the extravagance of the Phrygians, and say together with them, "To us first was revealed," and "from us dates the Faith of Christians." And as those sectaries inscribe it with the names of Maximilla and Montanus, so do these with "Constantius, Sovereign," instead of Christ. If, however, as they would have it, the faith dates from the present Consulate, what must the Fathers do, and the blessed Martyrs? nay, what will they themselves do with their own catechumens, who went to rest before this Consulate? how will they wake their pupils up, that they may obliterate that old teaching which they then thought so sufficient, and may sow instead the discoveries which they have now put into writing? so ignorant are they on the subject; with no knowledge but that of framing evasions, and those unbecoming and unplausible, and carrying with them their own refutation!

7. As to the Nicene Council, it was no casual meeting, but convened upon a pressing necessity, and for a reasonable object. The Syrians, Cilicians, and Mesopotamians, were out of order in celebrating the Feast, and were wont to keep Easter with the Jews [Note 5]; on the other hand, the {68} Arian heresy had risen up against the Catholic Church, and found supporters in the party of Eusebius, who were both zealous for the heresy, and conducted the attack upon religious people. This gave occasion for an Ecumenical Council, that the feast might be everywhere celebrated on one day, and that the heresy which was springing up might be anathematised. It took place then; and the Syrians submitted, and the Fathers pronounced the Arian heresy to be a forerunner of Antichrist [Note 6], and drew up a suitable formula against it. And yet, in this definition, for all their authority of numbers, they ventured on nothing like the acts of these three or four men [Note 7]. Without prefixing Consulate, month, and day, they wrote concerning the Easter, "It seemed good as follows," for it did then seem good that there should be a general compliance; but about the faith they wrote not, "It seemed good," but, "Thus believes the Catholic Church;" and thereupon they confessed what was the ground of their faith, in order to show that their own belief was not novel, but Apostolical; and that what they wrote down was no discovery of theirs, but is the same as was taught by the Apostles.

8. Such was the Council of Nicĉa; but the Councils which they have set in motion, what colourable pretext have these? If any new heresy has risen since the Arian, let them tell us the statements which it has invented and who are its inventors? and while they draw up a formula of their own, let them at the same time anathematise the {69 | ED. BEN. § 5-6.} heresies antecedent to this their Council, among which is the Arian, as the Nicene Fathers did, that it may be made appear that they too have some cogent reason for saying what is on any view a novelty. But if no such event has happened, and they cannot produce such, but rather they themselves are uttering heresies, as holding that very impiety of Arius, and are held up day after day, and day by day shift their ground, what need is there of Councils, when the Nicene is sufficient, as against the Arian heresy, so against the rest, which it has condemned one and all already by setting forth the sound faith? For even the notorius Aetius, who was surnamed godless, vaunts not of the discovering of any mania of his own, but under stress of weather has been wrecked upon bare Arianism, himself and the persons whom he has beguiled. Vainly then do they run about with the pretext that they have demanded Councils for the faith's-sake, for divine Scripture is sufficient above all things; but if a Council be needed on the point, there are the authoritative acts of the Nicene Fathers, for they did not do their work carelessly, but stated the doctrine so exactly, that persons reading their words honestly, cannot but find their memory refreshed in respect to the pious doctrine concerning Christ announced in divine Scripture.

9. Having therefore no show of reason on their side, but being in difficulty whichever way they turn, in spite of their evasions, they have nothing left but to say: "Forasmuch as we contradict our predecessors, and transgress the traditions of the Fathers, therefore we have thought good that a Council should meet; but again, whereas we fear lest, should it meet at one place, our pains will be all thrown away, therefore we have thought good that it be divided into two; that so, on our putting forth our own formula to these separate portions, we may overreach with more effect, with the threat of Constantius our {70} patron in this impiety, and may abrogate the acts of Nicĉa, under pretence of introducing a more simple faith." If they have not put this into words, yet this is the meaning of their deeds and of their disturbances. Certainly many and frequent as have been their speeches and writings in various Councils, never yet have they made mention of the Arian heresy as unchristian; but, if anyone present happened to accuse the existing heresies, they always took up the defence of the Arian, which the Nicene Council had anathematised; nay, rather they cordially welcomed its professors. This then is in itself a strong argument, that the aim of the present Councils has been not truth, but the annulling of the acts of Nicĉa; but the proceedings of these men and their friends in the two Councils, make it equally clear that this was the case:—It is necessary then to relate everything as it occurred, as I proceed to do.

Chapter 2.

10. WHEN all, as many as were named in the Emperor's letters, were in expectation of one place of meeting, and to form one Council, they were divided into two; and, while some went off to Seleucia called the Rocky, the others met at Ariminum, to the number of four hundred bishops and more, and among them Germinius, Auxentius, Valens, Ursacius, Demophilus, and Caius [Note 8]. And, while the whole assembly was discussing the matter from the divine Scriptures, these men produced a paper, and, reading the Consulate, they demanded that the whole Council should give this the precedence of anything else, and put no tests upon the heretics beyond it, nor inquire into its meaning, but take this confession as sufficient; and it ran as follows [Note 9]:— {71 | ED. BEN. § 7-8.}

Eighth Confession, at Sirmium
(third Sirmian, vid. infr. p. 114)

11. "The Catholic Faith was published in the presence of our Sovereign the most religious and gloriously victorious Emperor, Constantius, Augustus, the eternal and majestic, in the Consulate of the most illustrious Flavians, Eusebius and Hypatius, in Sirmium on the 11th of the Calends of June [Note 10].

"We believe in one Only and True God, the Father Almighty, Creator and Framer of all things:

"And in one Only-begotten Son of God, who before all ages, and before every origin, and before all conceivable time, and before all comprehensible substance, was begotten impassibly from God; through whom the ages were disposed and all things were made; and begotten as the Only-begotten, as only from the Only Father, as God from God, like to the Father who begat Him, according to the Scriptures; whose generation no one knoweth save the Father alone who begat Him. We know that He, the Only-begotten Son of God, at the Father's bidding came from the heavens for the abolition of sin, and was born of the Virgin Mary, and conversed with the disciples, and fulfilled all the economy according to the Father's will, and was crucified, and died and descended into the parts beneath the earth, and directed the economy of things there, whom the gate-keepers of hell saw and shuddered; and that He rose from the dead the third day, and conversed with the disciples, and fulfilled the economy, and, when the forty days were full, ascended into the heavens, {72} and sitteth on the right hand of the Father, and will come in the last day of the resurrection in the glory of the Father, to render to every one according to his works.

"And in the Holy Ghost, whom the Only-begotten of God Himself, Jesus Christ, had promised to send to the race of men, the Paraclete, as it is written, 'I go to the Father, and I will ask the Father, and He shall send unto you another Paraclete, even the Spirit of Truth. He shall take of Mine and shall teach and bring to your remembrance all things.'

"But whereas the term 'substance,' has been adopted by the Fathers in simplicity, and gives offence as unintelligible to the people, and not contained in the Scriptures, it has seemed good to remove it, and that it be never in any case used of God again, because the divine Scriptures nowhere use it of Father and Son. But we say that the Son is like the Father in all things, as all the Holy Scriptures say and teach." [Note 11]

12. When this had been read, the dishonesty of its framers was soon apparent. For on the Bishops proposing that the Arian heresy should be anathematised together with the other heresies, and all assenting, Ursacius and Valens and their friends refused, and at length were condemned, on the ground that their confession had been written, not in sincerity, but for the annulling of the Acts of Nicĉa, and the introduction instead of their miserable heresy. Marvelling then at the deceitfulness of their language and their unprincipled intentions, the Bishops said: "Not as if in need of faith have we come hither; for we have within us the faith, and that in soundness; but that we may put to shame those who gainsay the truth and venture upon novelties. If then ye have drawn up this formula, as if now beginning to believe, ye are not so much as clerks, but need to start with your catechism; but if {73 | ED. BEN. § 8-10.} you meet us here with the same religious sentiments with which we have come hither, let there be a unanimity, of one and all, and let us anathematise the heresies, and preserve the teaching of the Fathers. Thus pleas for new Councils will not longer circulate about, the Bishops at Nicĉa having anticipated them once for all, and done all that was needful for the Catholic Church." However, even then, in spite of an unanimous agreement of the Bishops a second time, still the above-mentioned refused. So at length the whole assembly, condemning them as ignorant and deceitful men, or rather as heretics, gave their suffrages in behalf of the Nicene Council, and gave judgment all of them that it was enough; but as to the forenamed Ursacius and Valens, Germinius, Auxentius, Caius, and Demophilus, they pronounced them to be heretics, deposed them as not really Christians, but Arians, and wrote against them in Latin what has been translated in its substance into Greek, thus:—

13. Copy of an Epistle from the Council to Constantius, Augustus [Note 12]:—

"We believe it has been ordered by God's command, upon the mandate [Note 13] of your religiousness, that we, the Bishops of the Western Provinces, came from all parts to Ariminum, for the manifestation of the Faith to all Catholic Churches and the detection of the heretics. For upon a general discussion, in which we who are orthodox all took part, it was our decision to adhere to that faith which {74} has come down to us from antiquity, and which we hold, as we have ever held, from Prophets, Gospels, and Apostles, from God Himself and our Lord Jesus Christ, the upholder of your dominion, and the author of your welfare. For we deemed it to be a sin to mutilate any work of the saints, and in particular of those who in the framing of the Nicene formulary, held session together with Constantine of glorious memory, the father of your religiousness. Which formulary was put abroad and gained entrance into the minds of the Christian people, and, as at that time drawn up against Arianism, is found to be of such force that heresies of all kinds are overthrown by it; from which, if aught were subtracted, an opening is made to the poison of the heretics.

"Therefore it was that Ursacius and Valens formerly came into suspicion of the said Arian heresy, and were suspended from communion, and had to ask pardon, as their letters show, which they obtained from the Council of Milan, in the presence of the legates of the Roman Church. And since Constantine was at the Nicene Council, when the formulary in question was drawn up with great care, and after being baptised into the profession of it, departed to God's rest, we think it a crime to mutilate aught in it, and in anything to detract from so many Saints and Confessors, and Successors of Martyrs, who took part in framing it; considering that they preserved all the doctrine of the Catholics who were before them according to the Scriptures, and that they remained with us unto these times in which your religiousness has received the charge of ruling the world from God the Father through our God and Lord Jesus Christ. As for these men, they were attempting to pull up what had been reasonably laid down. For, whereas the letters of your religiousness commanded us to treat of the faith, there was proposed to us by the aforenamed troublers of the {75 | ED. BEN. § 10.} Churches, Germinius and his associates Auxentius [Note 14] and Caius, something simply novel for our consideration, which contained many particulars of perverse doctrine. And next, when they became aware that what they proposed publicly in the Council was unacceptable to the Fathers, they determined to draw up another determined statement. Indeed it is notorious that they have often changed these formularies in a short time; accordingly, lest the Churches should have a recurrence of these disturbances, we held to our resolve to retain decisions which were both ancient and reasonable. For the information therefore of your clemency, we have instructed our legates to acquaint you with the judgment of the Council by our letter, to whom we have given this sole direction, not to execute their office otherwise than for the absolute stability and permanence of the ancient decrees; in order that your wisdom might also know, that peace would not be accomplished by the removal of those decrees, as the aforesaid Valens and Ursacius, Germinius and Caius, promised. On the contrary, troubles have in consequence been excited in all regions and in the Roman Church.

"On this account we ask your clemency to receive and hear all our legates with favourable ears and a serene countenance, and not to suffer aught to be abrogated to the dishonour of the ancients; so that all things may continue which we have received from our forefathers, who, as we are sure, were prudent men, and acted not without the {76} Holy Spirit of God; because by these novelties not only are faithful populations unsettled, but infidels also are deterred from believing. We pray also that you would give orders that so many Bishops, who are detained at Ariminum, among whom are numbers who are broken with old age and poverty, may return to their own country, lest the people of their Churches suffer, being deprived of their Bishops. This, however, we ask again and again, that nothing be innovated, nothing withdrawn; but that all remain incorrupt which has continued through the times of the father of your sacred piety and your own religious days; and that your holy prudence will not permit us to be harassed, and torn from our sees; but that we may without distraction ever give ourselves to the prayers which we do always offer for your personal welfare and for your reign, and for peace, which may the Divinity bestow on you, according to your merits, profound and perpetual! But our legates will bring the subscriptions and names of the Bishops and their titles, as another letter informs your holy and religious prudence."

14. And the Decree of the Council [Note 15] ran thus:—

"As far as it was fitting, dearest brethren, the Catholic Council has had patience, and has so often displayed the Church's forbearance towards Ursacius and Valens, Germinius, Caius, and Auxentius; who by so often changing what they had believed, have troubled all the Churches, and still are endeavouring to introduce their heretical spirit into Christian minds. For they wish to annul the {77 | ED. BEN. § 10-11.} formulary drawn up at Nicĉa, which was framed against the Arian and the other heresies. They have presented to us besides a creed drawn up by themselves, which we could not lawfully receive. Even before this have they been pronounced heretics by us, and this has been confirmed by a long period,—whom we have not admitted to our communion, but by our separate voices condemned in their own presence. Now then, give your judgment on this matter afresh, that it may be ratified by the subscription of each.

"All the Bishops answered—It seems good to us that the aforenamed heretics should be condemned, that the Church may remain in that unshaken faith, which is truly Catholic, and in perpetual peace."

Matters at Ariminum then had this speedy issue; for there was no disagreement there, but all the Fathers with one accord both put into writing what they decided upon, and deposed the Arians [Note 16].

15. Meanwhile the transactions in Seleucia the Rocky were as follows: it was in the month called by the Romans September, by the Egyptians Thoth, and by the Macedonians {78} Gorpiĉus [Note 17], and the day of the month according to the Egyptians the 16th, upon which all the members of the Council assembled together. And there were present about a hundred and sixty; and whereas there were many who were accused among them, and their accusers were crying out against them, thereupon Acacius, and Patrophilus, and Uranius of Tyre, and Eudoxius, who usurped the Church of Antioch, and Leontius, and Theodotus, and Evagrius, and Theodulus [Note 18], and George who has been driven from the whole world, pursue an unprincipled course. Fearing the proofs which their accusers had to show against them, they employed for their purpose the other section of the Arian party, those hirelings of impiety, who had been ordained by that Secundus, whom the great Council had deposed,—such men as the Libyan Stephen, and Seras, and Pollux, who were under accusation upon various charges, next Pancratius, and one Ptolemy a Meletian. Accordingly, to divert the Fathers from the consideration of the charges lying against them, they made a pretence of discussing the {79 | ED. BEN. § 12.} question of faith, but it was clear they were doing so from fear of their accusers; and they took the part of the heresy, till at length they were left by themselves. For, whereas the supporters of the Acacians lay under suspicion and were very few, but the others were the majority, therefore the Acacians, acting with the boldness of desperation, altogether denied the Nicene formula, and censured the Nicene Council, while the others, who were the majority, accepted the whole proceedings of the great Council, except that they complained of the word, "Consubstantial," as obscure and open to suspicion. When then time passed there, and the accusers pressed, and the accused put in pleas, and thereby were led on further by their impiety and blasphemed the Lord, thereupon the majority of Bishops became indignant, and deposed Acacius, Patrophilus, Uranius, Eudoxius, and George the contractor [Note 19], and others from Asia, Leontius and Theodosius, Evagrius and Theodulus, and excommunicated Asterius, Eusebius, Augarus, Basilicus, Phœbus, Fidelius, Eutychius, and Magnus. And this the Bishops did on their non-appearance, when summoned to defend themselves on charges which numbers preferred against them. And they decreed that so they should remain, until they made their defence and cleared themselves of the charges brought against them. And after despatching the sentence pronounced against them to the diocese of each, they proceeded to Constantius, that most impious Augustus, to report to him their proceedings, as they had been ordered. And this was the termination of the Council in Seleucia.

16. Who then but must approve of the conscientious conduct of the Bishops who met at Ariminum? who endured such fatigue of journey and perils of sea, that by a sacred and canonical resolution they might depose {80} the Arians, and guard inviolate the definitions of the Fathers. For each of them felt that, if they undid the acts of their predecessors, they were affording a pretext to their successors to undo what they themselves then were enacting. And who but must condemn such sleight of hand as exercised by the party of Eudoxius and Acacius, who sacrifice the honour due to their own fathers to partisanship and patronage of the Ario-maniacs? for what confidence can be placed in their own acts, if the acts of their fathers be undone? or how call they them Fathers and themselves their successors, if they set about impeaching their judgment? and especially what can Acacius say of his own master, Eusebius [Note 20], who not only gave his subscription in the Nicene Council, but even in a letter signified to his flock, that that was true faith, which the Council had declared? for, even if he explained himself in that letter in his own way, yet he did not contradict the Council's terms, but even charged it upon the Arians, that their statement that the Son was not before His generation was not even consistent with His being before Mary.

17. What then will they now teach the people who have received their past teaching from them? that the Fathers have made a slip? and how are they themselves to be trusted by those whom they now teach not to follow their own Teachers? and with what faces too will they look upon the sepulchres of the Fathers whom they now name heretics? And why do they abuse the Valentinians, Phrygians, and Manichees, yet give the name of saint to those whom they themselves think probably to have made parallel statements? or how can they any longer be Bishops, if they were ordained by persons whom they now accuse of heresy? But if these were heterodox and their definitions misled the world, then let their memory perish {81 | ED. BEN. § 13-14.} altogether; and while you are casting out their books, go and cast out their relics too from the cemeteries, so that one and all may know that they are seducers, and that you are parricides. The blessed Apostle approves of the Corinthians because, he says, ye remember me in all things and keep the traditions as I delivered them to you; but they, as entertaining such thoughts of their predecessors, will have the daring to say to their flocks just the reverse: "We praise you, not for 'remembering' your fathers, but rather we make much of you, when you do not 'hold their traditions.'" And let them go on to cast a slur on their own ignoble birth, and say, "We are sprung, not of religions men but of heretics." For such language, as I said before, is consistent in those who barter the good name of their Fathers and their own salvation for Arianism, and fear not the words of the divine proverb, There is a generation that curseth their father, and the threat lying in the Law against such.

18. They then, from zeal for the heresy, are of this obstinate temper: you, however, be not troubled at it, nor take their audacity for truth. For they dissent from each other, and, whereas they have revolted from the Fathers, are of no one opinion, but float about with various and contrary changes [Note 21]. And, as quarrelling with the Council of Nicĉa, they have in consequence themselves held many Councils, and have published a faith in each of them, but have stood to none,—nay, they will never act otherwise, for, seeking perversely, they will never find that Wisdom which in truth they hate. I have accordingly subjoined portions both of Arius's writings, and of whatever else I could collect, of their publications in different Councils; whereby you will learn and wonder how it is that they can stand out against an Ecumenical Council and their own Fathers, without being overwhelmed by the effort. {82}

Chapter 3.

19. ARIUS and his friends thought and professed thus: "God made the Son out of nothing, and called Him His Son;" "The Word of God is one of the creatures;" and "Once He was not;" and "He is alterable; capable, when it is His will, of altering." Accordingly they were expelled from the Church by Alexander of blessed memory. However, Arius after his expulsion, when he was living near the party of Eusebius, drew up his heresy upon paper, and imitating, in the character of his music, as if on a festive occasion, no grave writer, but the Egyptian Sotades, he writes at great length, for instance as follows:—

20. Blasphemies of Arius

God Himself then, in His own nature, is ineffable by all men.
Equal or like Himself He alone has none, nor one in glory.
And Ingenerate we call Him, because of Him who is generate by nature.
We praise Him as Unoriginate because of Him who has an origin.
And adore Him as everlasting, because of Him who was born in time.
The Unoriginate made the Son an origin of things that were brought into being;
And advanced Him as a Son to Himself, begetting Him to be such.
He has nothing proper to God in His proper subsistence;
For He is not equal, no, nor consubstantial with Him.
Wise is God, for He is the teacher of Wisdom.
There is full proof that God is invisible to all beings,
Both to things which are through the Son, and to the Son is He invisible. {83 | E
D. BEN. § 15.}
I will say it expressly, how by the Son is seen the Invisible;
By that power by which God sees, and in His own measure,
Doth the Son endure to see the Father, as is lawful.
Thus there is a Triad, not in equal glories.
Not intermingling with each other are their subsistences.
One more glorious than the other in their glories unto immensity.
Foreign to the Son in substance is the Father, for He is Unoriginate.
Understand that the Monad was; but the Dyad was not, before it was in existence.
It follows at once that, when the Son was not, the Father is already God.
Hence the Son, not being, (for He existed at the will of the Father,)
Is God Only-begotten, and each is foreign from either.
Wisdom existed as Wisdom by the will of the Wise God.
Hence He is conceived in numberless conceptions.
Spirit, Power, Wisdom, God's glory, Truth, Image, and Word.
Understand that He is conceived to be Radiance and Light.
One equal to the Son, the Supreme is able to generate.
But more excellent, or superior, or greater, He is not able.
At God's will the Son is what and whatsoever He is.
And when and since He was, from that time He has subsisted from God.
He, being a strong God, praises in His degree the Supreme.
To speak in brief, God is ineffable to His Son.
For He is to Himself what He is, that is, unspeakable.
So that nothing which relates to comprehension {84}
Does the Son understand to speak about; for it is impossible for Him
To investigate the Father who is by Himself.
For the Son Himself does not know His own substance,
For, being Son, He really existed at the will of the Father.
How can it reasonably be, that He who is from the Father
Should know His own Parent by comprehension?
For it is plainly impossible that what hath an origin
Should conceive how the Unoriginate is,
Or should grasp the idea of Him.

21. And what they wrote by letter to Alexander of blessed memory, the Bishop, runs as follows:—

To our Blessed Pope [Note 22] and Bishop, Alexander,
the Presbyters and Deacons send health in the Lord

Our faith from our forefathers, which also we have learned from thee, Blessed Pope, is this:—We acknowledge one God, alone Ingenerate, alone Everlasting, alone Unoriginate, alone True, alone having Immortality, alone Wise, alone Good, alone Sovereign; Judge, Governor, and Providence of all, unalterable and unchangeable, just and good, God of Law and Prophets and New Testament; who generated an Only-begotten Son before eternal times, through whom He has made both the ages and the universe; and generated Him, not in seeming, but in truth; and that He made Him subsist at His own will, unalterable and {85 | ED. BEN. § 15-16.} unchangeable; perfect creature of God, but not as one of the creatures; offspring, but not as one of things brought into being; nor, as Valentinus pronounced, is the offspring of the Father an issue; nor, as Manichĉus taught, is the offspring a consubstantial portion of the Father; nor is He as Sabellius said, dividing the One, a Son-and-Father [Note 23]; nor as Hieracas speaks of one torch from another, or as a lamp divided into two; nor was He who was before, afterwards generated or new-created into a Son, a notion which, when advanced, thou too thyself, Blessed Pope, in the midst of the Church and in Session hast often condemned; but, as we say, at the will of God, created before times and before ages, and possessing life and being from the Father, who gave subsistence to His glories together with Himself. For the Father did not, in giving to Him the inheritance of all things, deprive Himself of what He has ingenerately in Himself; for He is the fountain of all things.

"Thus there are Three Subsistences. And God, being the cause of all things, is Unoriginate and altogether Sole; but the Son, being generated apart from time by the Father, and being created and established before ages, was not before His generation, but being generated apart from time before all things, He alone subsisted by the act of the Father. For He is not eternal or co-eternal or co-ingenerate with the Father, nor has He His being together with the Father, as some speak of relations [Note 24], introducing two ingenerate origins, but God is before all things as being a One and an Origin of all. Wherefore also He is before the Son; as we have learned {86} also from thy preaching in the midst of the Church. So far then as from God He has His being, and His glories, and His life, and all things are delivered unto Him, in such sense is God His origin, for He is above Him, as being His God and before Him. But if the terms from Him and from the womb, and I come forth from the Father, and I am come, be understood by some to mean as if a consubstantial part of Him, or as an issue, then the Father is according to them compounded and divisible and alterable and material, and, as far as their belief goes, has the circumstances of a body, who is the Incorporeal God."

This is a part of what the Arians vomited from their heretical hearts.

22. And before the Nicene Council took place, similar statements were made by Eusebius's party, Narcissus, Patrophilus, Maris, Paulinus, Theodotus, and Athanasius of Nazarba. And Eusebius of Nicomedia wrote over and above to Arius, to this effect, "Since your views are right, pray that all may adopt them; for it is plain to any one, that what has been made was not before its generation; but what came to be, has an origin of being." And Eusebius of Cĉsarea in Palestine, in a letter to Euphration the Bishop, did not scruple to say plainly that Christ was not true God. And Athanasius of Nazarba uncloaked the heresy still further, saying that the Son of God was one of the hundred sheep. For, writing to Alexander the Bishop, he had the extreme audacity to say: "Why complain of the Arian party, for saying, The Son of God is made as a creature out of nothing, and one among others? For, all that are made being represented in parable by the hundred sheep, the Son is one of them. If then the hundred are not created and brought into existence, or if there be beings beside that hundred, then may the Son be not a creature nor one among others; but if those hundred are all brought into being, and there is nothing besides the {87 | ED. BEN. § 16-18.} hundred save God alone, what extravagance do the Arians utter, when, as comprehending and reckoning Christ in the hundred, they say that He is one among others?" And George who now is in Laodicea, and then was presbyter of Alexandria, and was staying at Antioch, wrote to Alexander the Bishop, "Do not complain of the Arians, for saying, 'Once the Son of God was not,' for Esaias came to be Son of Amos, and, whereas Amos was before Esaias came into being, Esaias was not before, but came into being afterwards." And he wrote to the Arians, "Why complain of Alexander your Father, saying, that the Son is from the Father? for you too need not fear to say that the Son was from God. For if the Apostle wrote, All things are from God, and it is plain that all things are made of nothing, therefore, though the Son too is a creature and one of things made, still He may be said to be from God in that sense in which all things are said to be from God." From him then the Arians learned to be hypocrites, professing indeed the phrase from God, but not in a right sense [Note 25]. And George himself was deposed by Alexander for certain reasons, and among them for manifest impiety; for he was himself a presbyter, as has been said before.

28. In a word, then, such were their statements, as if they all were in dispute and rivalry with each other which should make the heresy more impious, and display it in a more naked form. And as for their letters, I have them not at hand, to despatch them to you; else I would have sent you copies; but, if the Lord will, this too I will do, when I get possession of them. And one Asterius from Cappadocia, a many-headed [Note 26] Sophist, one of the Eusebians, whom they could not advance into the Clergy, as having sacrificed in the former persecution in the time {88} of Constantius's grandfather, writes, with the countenance of the Eusebians, a sort of a treatise, which was on a par with the crime of his sacrifice, but answered their purpose; for in it, after placing the locust and the caterpillar with or rather before Christ, and saying that Wisdom in God was other than Christ, and was the Framer as well of Christ as of the world, he went round the Churches in Syria and elsewhere, with introductions from the Eusebians, that, as he had once been at pains to deny the truth so now he might make free with it. This audacious man intruded himself into forbidden places, and seating himself in the place set apart for Clerks [Note 27], he read publicly this treatise of his, in spite of the general indignation. It includes many matters at great length, but portions of it are as follows:—

Passage from the Arian Asterius

"For the Blessed Paul said not that he preached Christ, His, that is, God's 'own power' or 'Wisdom,' but without the article, a power of God and a Wisdom of God, thus preaching that the proper power of God Himself, which is connatural and co-existent with Him ingenerately, is something distinct, generative indeed of Christ, creative of the whole world, concerning which he teaches in his Epistle to the Romans, thus, The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even His eternal Power and Godhead. For as no one would say that the Godhead there mentioned was Christ, instead of the Father Himself, {89 | ED. BEN. § 18.} so, as I think, His eternal power is also not the Only-begotten God, but the Father who begat Him. And he tells us of another Power and Wisdom of God, namely, that which is manifested through Christ, and made known through the works themselves of His Ministry."

And again:—

Another Passage

"Although His eternal Power and Wisdom, which the reasonings of Truth determine to be Unoriginate and Ingenerate, would appear certainly to be one and the same, yet many are those powers which are one by one created by Him, of which Christ is the First-born and Only-begotten. All, however, equally depend upon their Possessor, and all His powers are rightly called His, who has created and uses them; for instance, the Prophet says that the locust, which became a divine punishment of human sins, was called by God Himself, not only the power of God, but the great power. And the blessed David, too, in many of the Psalms, invites, not Angels alone, but Powers also to praise God. And while he invites them all to the hymn of praise, he presents before us their multitude, and is not unwilling to call them ministers of God, and teaches that they do His will."

24. These bold words against the Saviour did not content him, but he went further in his blasphemies, as follows:—

Another Passage

"The Son is one among others; for He is first of things made, and singular among intellectual natures; and as in things visible the sun is one among such as show themselves, and it shines upon the whole world according to the command of its Maker, so the Son, being one among intellectual natures, also enlightens and shines upon all that are in the intellectual world." {90}

And again he says, Once He was not, writing thus:—"And before the Son's generation, the Father had pre-existing knowledge how to generate; since a physician, too, before he cured, had the science of curing." And he says again: "The Son was created by God's earnest beneficence; and the Father made Him by the superabundance of His Power." And again: "If the will of God has pervaded all the works in succession, certainly the Son too, being a work, has at His will come into being and been made." Now though Asterius was the only person to write all this, the Eusebians felt the like in common with him.

25. These are the doctrines for which they are contending; for these they assail the Ancient Council, because its members did not propound the like, but anathematised the Arian heresy instead, which these men were so eager to recommend. On this account they put forward, as an advocate of their impiety, Asterius who had sacrificed, a sophist too, that he might not spare whether to speak against the Lord, or by a show of reason to mislead the simple. And they were ignorant, the shallow men, that they were doing harm to their own cause. For the ill savour of their advocate's idolatrous sacrifice, betrayed still more plainly that the heresy is Christ's foe. And now again, the general agitations and troubles which they are exciting, are in consequence of their belief, that if they commit enough murders, and hold synods enough month after month, at length they will succeed in repealing the sentence which has been passed against the Arian heresy. But here, too, they seem ignorant, or to pretend ignorance, that even before Nicĉa that heresy was held in abomination when Artemas [Note 28] was laying its foundations, and before {91 | ED. BEN. § 19-20.} him at the time of Caiaphas's assembly and that of the Pharisees his contemporaries. And at all times is this workshop of Christ's foes abominable, and will not cease to be hateful, while the Lord's Name inspires love, and the whole creation bows the knee, and confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


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1. There were at this time four Prĉtorian Prefects, who divided between them the administration of the Empire. They had been lately made civil officers, Constantine having suppressed the celebrated troops which they had commanded. At Ariminum one of them, Taurus, was present, and was the instrument of the Emperor in overawing the Council.
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2. Vid. App. Arian leaders.
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3. The heathen Ammianus speaks of "the troops of Bishops hurrying to and fro at the public expense," and "the Synods, in their efforts to bring over the whole religion to their side, being the ruin of the posting establishments." Hist. xxi. 16. "The spectacle proceeds to that pitch of indecency," says Eusebius, "that at length in the very midst of the theatres of the unbelievers the solemn matters of divine teaching were subjected to the basest mockery." Vit. Const. ii. 61.
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4. "Faith is made a thing of dates rather than of Gospels, while it is marked off by years, and is not measured by the confession of baptism." Hil. ad Const. ii. 4. "We determine yearly and monthly creeds concerning God, we determine them and then repent of them; we repent and then defend them; we anathematise after defending; we condemn our own doings in the doings of others, or those of others in our own, and gnawing each other, we are well-nigh devoured one of another." Ibid. 5.
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5. This seems to have been an innovation in these countries of about fifty years old, or from about the year 276. It is remarkable, that the Quartodeciman custom had come to an end in Proconsular Asia, where it had existed from St. John's time, before it began in Syria. Tillemont refers the change to Anatolius of Laodicea; I have before now thought it might be traced to the influence of Zenobia and Paul of Samosata; vid. Arians, ch. i. § 1.
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6. Vid. Antichrist.
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7. [oligoi tines], says Pope Julius in 342 ap. Athan Apol. 34. [egrapsan tines peri pisteos], says Athan. in 356 ad Ep. Ĉg. 5. Infr. pp. 70-73, supr. n. 2, p. 64, he mentions by name six, Acacius, &c.
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8. Vid. Arian leaders.
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9. The Creed which follows had been prepared at Sirmium shortly before, and is the third, or, as some think, the fourth, drawn up at Sirmium. It was the composition of Mark of Arethusa, yet it was written in Latin; and though Mark was a Semi-arian, it distinctly abandons the word substance. But this point of history is involved in much obscurity. As it stands, it is a patchwork of two views. It will be observed, that it is the Creed on which Athanasius has been animadverting above, p. 65.
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10. May 22, 359, Whitsun Eve.
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11. Vid. infr. Creeds vii. and ix., pp. 114-116.
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12. The same version of the Letter which follows is found in Socr. ii. 39. Soz. iv. 10. Theod. Hist. ii. 19. Niceph. i. 40. On comparison with the Latin original, which is preserved by Hilary, (Fragm. viii.) it appears to be so very freely executed, that it has been thought better here to translate it from the text of Hilary.
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13. Ex prĉcepto. Prĉceptum becomes a technical word afterwards for a royal deed, charter, or edict; and it has somewhat of that meaning even here.
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14. Auxentius, omitted in Hilary's copy, has been inserted here, and in the decree which follows, from the Greek, since Athanasius has thus given his sanction to the fact of that Arian Bishop being condemned at Ariminum. Yet Auxentius appeals to Ariminum triumphantly. Hil. contr. Aux. fin. Socrates, Hist. ii. 37, says, that Demophilus also was deposed, but he was an Eastern Bishop, if he be Demophilus of Berea, vid. Coustant. on Hil. Fragm. vii., p. 1342. Yet he is mentioned also by Athanasius as present, supr. p. 70. A few words are wanting in the Latin in the commencement of one of the sentences which follow.
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15. This Decree is also here translated from the original in Hilary, who has besides preserved the "Catholic Definition" of the Council, in which it professes its adherence to the Creed of Nicĉa, and, in opposition to the Sirmian Confession which the Arians had proposed, acknowledges in particular both the word and the meaning of "substance:" "substantiĉ nomen et rem, à multis sanctis Scripturis insinuatam mentibus nostris, obtinere debere sui firmitatem." Fragm. vii. 3.
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16. Athanasius seems to have known no more of the proceedings at Ariminum, which perhaps were then in progress, when he wrote this Treatise; their termination, as is well known, was very unhappy, "Ingemuit totus orbis," says St. Jerome, "et Arianum se esse miratus est," ad Lucif. 19. A deputation of ten persons was sent from the Council to Constantius, to which Valens opposed one of his own. Constantius pretended the barbarian war, and delayed an answer till the beginning of October, the Council having opened in May. The Postscript to this Treatise contained the news of this artifice and of the Council's distress in consequence, which Athanasius had just heard. This he also seems to have inserted into his work, infr. pp. 118-122, upon the receipt of the news of the mission of Valens to Constantinople, a mission which ended in the giving way of the Catholic delegacy. Upon his returning to Ariminum with the delegates and the Arian creed they had signed (vid. infr.), Valens, partly by menaces and partly by sophistry, succeeded in procuring the subscriptions of the Council also to the same formula.
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17. Gorpiĉus was the first month of the Syro-Macedonic year among the Greeks, dating according to the era of the Seleucidĉ. The Roman date of the meeting of the Council was the 27th of September. The original transactions at Ariminum had at this time been finished as much as two months, and its deputies were waiting for Constantius at Constantinople.
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18. There is little to observe of these Acacian Bishops in addition to what has already been said of several of them, except that George is the Cappadocian, the notorious intruder into the see of S. Athanasius. The charges which lay against them were of various kinds. Socrates says that the Acacian party consisted in all of about 36; other writers increase it by a few more. The Eusebian or Court party is here called Acacian, and was Anomœan and Semi-arian alternately, or more properly as it may be called Homœan or Scriptural; for Arians, Semi-arians, and Anomœans, all used theological terms as well as the Catholics. The Semi-arians numbered about 100, the remaining dozen might be the Egyptian Bishops who were zealous supporters of the Catholic cause. However, there were besides a few Anomœans, or Arians, as Athan. calls them, with whom the Acacians now coalesced.
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19. Pork contractor to the troops. Hist. Arian. 75, Naz. Orat. 21, 16.
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20. Vid. supr. pp. 15 and 55.
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21. Vid. Append. Arian leaders, Chameleons, &c.
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22. [papa]. Alexander is also so called, Theod. Hist. i. 4, p. 749. Athanatius, Hieron. contr. Joan. 4. Heraclas, also of Alexandria, by Dionysius apud Euseb. Hist. vii. 7. Epiphanius of Cyprus, Hieron. Ep. 57, 2. John of Jerusalem, Hier. contr. Joan. 4. Cyprian of Carthage, Ep. ap. Cypr. 31. Augustine of Hippo, Hier. Ep. 141 init. Lupus, Pragmatius, Leontius, Theoplastus, Eutropius, &c. of Gaul, by Sidon. Apoll. Epp. vii. 5, &c. Eutyches, Archimandrite, Abraham Abbot, are called by the same name, in the acts of Chalcedon.
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23. Vid. Append. [probole], [huiopator], &c.
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24. The phrase [ta pros ti] Bull well explains to refer to the Catholic truth that the Father or Son being named, the Other is therein implied without naming. Defens. F. N. iii. 9, § 4. Hence Arius, in his Letter to Eusebius, complains that Alexander says, [aei ho theos, aei ho huios, hama pater, hama huios] Theod. Hist. i. 4.
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25. Vid. supr. p. 36, and Eusebius, ibid. 51, 52.
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26. Viz. like the hydra.
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27. None but the Clergy might enter the Chancel, i.e. in Service time. Hence Theodosius was made to retire by St. Ambrose. Theod. v. 17. The Council of Laodicea, said to be held A.D. 372, forbids any but persons in orders, [hieratikoi], to enter the Chancel and then communicate. Can. 19, vid. also 44, Conc. t. 1, p. 788, 789. It is doubtful what orders the word [hieratikoi] is intended to include. Vid. Bingham Antiq. viii. 6, § 7.
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28. Artemas or Artemon was one of the chiefs of a school of heresy at Rome at the end of the second century. Theodotus was another, and the more eminent. They founded separate sects. Their main tenet is what would now be called Unitarianism, or that our Lord was a mere man. Artemas seems to have been more known in the East; at least is more frequently mentioned in controversy with the Arians, e.g. by Alexander, Theod. Hist. i. 3, p. 739.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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