Page images
PDF
EPUB

own extraordinary folly frustrated. Whilst the Council hesitated, others took the matter into their own hands. The solution was one which forcibly illustrates the ecclesiastical usages of those times, as unlike to those of the Church of M. de Broglie, or to those of our own, as it is possible to conceive.

There was a magistrate at Constantinople named Nectarius, remarkable for his dignified manners, perhaps one of those grandees so often mentioned by Gregory as the object of episcopal adulation. He was a native of Tarsus, and, being on the point of returning home, called on his countryman Diodorus, Bishop of Tarsus, then at the Council, to ask whether he could take any letters for him.* Diodorus, perhaps not without the partiality of a fellow-citizen, was so much struck by his venerable white locks and his splendid priestly appearance, that he determined, if possible, to have him raised to the vacant bishopric. He accordingly communicated his name to the Bishop of Antioch, who at first laughed at the notion as preposterous, but at last consented, partly as a favour, partly as a joke, to add his name at the end of the list to be submitted to the Emperor.

Meantime, as not long afterwards at Milan, in the case of Ambrose, the name of Nectarius appears to have been whispered about in the

groups

of loiterers who may always be seen in an Eastern city, and thus to have reached the Court. The Emperor the moment he saw the list, put his finger on Nectarius's name, ran over the other candidates, then came back to Nectarius, and declared him bishop, to the general amazement of the Council, who, nevertheless, at once acquiesced in the decision.

Not only, however, was Nectarius a layman and a magistrate, but he was unbaptised, and not only unbaptised, but he had purposely delayed his baptism, according to the bad practice of that corrupt age, in order to reserve for the last moment the cancelling of the sins of a somewhat frivolous youth and manhood. But this discovery was made too late, and the Emperor adhered to his decision with an obstinacy so surprising that it was afterwards supposed by Nectarius's admirers that he must have had a special inspiration. In the opinion of some this strange episcopate turned out extremely well. But this is not the natural inference from the few facts that we know

* It is difficult not to be reminded of Cardinal Consalvi's naïve account of the election of Pius VII. by the Conclave (see Memoirs of Consalvi, vol. i.).

† Sozomen, vii. c. 8. This incident is very imperfectly related by M. de Broglie. VOL. CXXVI. NO. CCLVII.

concerning it.* Its beginning certainly was not creditable. He learned his episcopal duties as fast as he could from one of his Cilician friends, Cyriacus, Bishop of Adana, who, by the advice of Diodorus, he retained with him for some time. He also surrounded himself with a circle of his own countrymen, and amongst others was anxious to ordain as his chaplain and deacon, Martyrius, a physician, who had been formerly one of his boon companions, but who now declined Nectarius's strange proposal on the characteristic ground, that he, having been baptised long before, had lost the chance of clearing himself which Nectarius, by his postponement of the sacred rite, had so prudently reserved.

Such was the new head of the Council and of the clergy of Constantinople to be introduced into his office by an accumulation, in the course of a few days, of the ceremonies of baptism, ordination, and consecration, each of which at that time implied weeks if not years of preparation. The scandal of Nectarius's elevation caused so much talk as to revive once more the hopes of our friend Maximus the Dog, who seduced no less a person than Ambrose † and the other bishops of the West to take up his cause. But Nectarius held his own, supported, as he was, by Emperor and Council, and also by a kindly note from his deposed rival, 'cast away by the ungrateful city like a • flake of foam or a fragment of sea-weed' on the Bosphorus.

Meanwhile, under these not very august auspices the Council hastened to wind up its affairs, and to approach the decision of the theological questions for which the Bishops had mainly been summoned. . By this time they were so thoroughly demoralized and discredited by their internal quarrels, that the thirty-six heretical prelates who were present took courage to offer a determined front, and, to the surprise alike of Emperor and Council, fixed a day for their departure, and left Constantinople, protesting against any further attempts on the part of the assembly. But the majority which remained, however reduced in numbers and authority by this secession, were relieved to feel themselves at liberty to conclude their task without any further discussion.

From the most authentic accounts it would appear that they

* The bad character of Nectarius's episcopate is fairly brought out by Tillemont, vol. ix. p. 488.

† This curious story, told by Sozomen, book vii. c. 9, is omitted by M. de Broglie.

| Tillemont, vol. ix. pp. 501, 502. It was on this occasion that Maximus came out with an orthodox book in order to procure the favour of the Emperor Gratian.

[ocr errors]

confined themselves to issuing a series of decrees or canons. Of these the first strongly condemned in a mass the various heresies of the time. The second, third, and fourth, endeavoured to determine the jurisdictions and precedencies of the different bishops of the Empire, annulling the election of Maximus, and giving to the see of Constantinople a rank second only to that of Rome, on the express ground that Constantinople was a second Rome. This order is important as embodying the fact that the several dignitaries of Christendom took their positions not according to the sacred or apostolic recollections of their sees, but according to the civil rank of the cities where they resided. The exaltation of Constantinople was assuredly owing not to any apostolic dignity, but to its being the capital of Constantine, and the bishop of old Rome, in like manner, assuredly occupied the first place, not because he was the successor of Peter, but the bishop of the capital of the world.

It is curious that the work vulgarly ascribed to this Council, and by which alone it has achieved a certain fame in the annals of the Church, was, in all probability, not performed by it. In the common traditions * of ecclesiastical history, the third part of the Nicene Creed is said to have been added by the Fathers of the Council of Constantinople to resist a new heresy concerning the Third Person in the Trinity, and the Nicene Creed thus enlarged is designated as the Creed of Constantinople. But this designation, though not quite as erroneous as that which speaks of the Apostles Creed, and of Athanasius's Creed, or which describes this altered confession as the Nicene Creed, is very nearly as destitute of foundation. There is no trace in the records of the Council of such formal enunciation of any new Creed; on the contrary they appeal to the existing Nicene Creed as adequate for all theological purposes. Such too is the language of Gregory Nazianzen a few years after the meeting of the Council. Such also is the language of the next General Council - that of Ephesus, which not only spoke of the original Nicene Creed as the only one in existence, but positively prohibited, under the severest penalties, the adoption of any new one. It is not till the Fourth General Council (eighty years after)—that of Chalcedon—that the Creed now called of Constantinople is recited under that name;

Added by the Fathers of the first Council of Constantinople.' (Catechism of the Council of Trent, Article VIII.) Long after the Council, a chapel was shown in Constantinople, under the name of *Concord,' where the creed was said to have been drawn up. (Tiltea mont, vol. ix. p. 495, where the whole matter is well discussed.

† See Hefele. (Concilien-Geschichte, vol. ii. p. 11.)

any

but then only under remonstrances and difficulties. Under the cover* of this sanction it gradually crept into use, in defiance of the prohibition of the Council of Ephesus, and has now been received by all Christian Churches, except those of the Monophysite and Nestorian persuasions, which separated from the general Imperial Church before the Chalcedonian decree had been issued.

In point of fact, the additions usually said to have been made at Constantinople appear in a work of Epiphanius written several years before, and M. de Broglie's explanation is probably correct—that they had belonged to some exposition of the faith which was already in use in some churches, and that the Council, partly from a just desire of following the moderate principles of Basil, and of abstaining from further dogmatism, partly from weariness of the whole business, acquiesced in these additions, without formally adopting them. With this would agree a tradition which ascribes them, not to the Council, but to Gregory of Nyssa, who was present, and whose great name, if he in any way took them up, would, more than any other single cause, have led to their popular acceptance, not only from his own learning and genius, but from the fame of his brother Basil, and from the influence—at any rate at the beginning of the Council —of his friend and namesake, Gregory Nazianzen. This tradition, moreover, which, whether borne out by historical evidence or not, has never been disputed on dogmatical grounds, is important as showing that the orthodox Eastern Church was not ashamed of receiving its most solemn declaration of Christian faith from one who, had he lived in our times, would have been pronounced by the leaders of the modern High Church party an incorrigible and excommunicated heretic. There can be no doubt in the mind of any ones who has examined his writings—and it is freely admitted, indeed urged, by theologians † without the slightest suspicion of latitudina

* Tillemont, vol. ix. p. 424; vol. xiv. p. 412.

† See especially Catech. Orat, ch. xxvi. De iis qui prematurè abripiuntur, ch. xv. De Anima et Resurrectione (on Phil. ii. 10; 1 Cor. xv. 28.) The contrary lias been maintained by a recent writer, Vincenzo, in four volumes, on the writings of Gregory of Nyssu. But this is done, not as in former times (Tillemont, vol. ix. p. 602), by denying the genuineness of the passages cited in fuvour of the milder view, but by quoting passages from other parts of lois works, containing apparently contradictory sentiments. This might be done equally in the case of Origen, of Archbishop Tillotson, and of Bishop Newton, and to any one who knows the writings of that age proves ab-olutely nothing.

# Dr. Newman's Auswer to Dr. Pusey's Eirenicon.

[ocr errors]

rianism - that Gregory of Nyssa held the opinion, shared with him by Origen, and although less distinctly by Gregory of Nazianzus, that there was a hope for the final restoration of the wicked in the other world. And whether or not he actually drew up

the additional clauses of the Nicene Creed, there is no doubt that Gregory of Nyssa was present at the Council, where, if ever, these latter articles were accepted-that he, if any one, must have impressed his own sense upon them—and that to him, and through him to the Council, the only clause which speaks at all of the future life ("I look for the Resurrection of the

Dead, and the Life of the World to come ') must have included the blessed hope that God's justice and mercy are not controlled by the powers of evil, that sin is not eternal, and that in the 'world to come,' punishment will be corrective and not final, will be ordered by a Love and Justice, the height and depth of which we cannot here fathom or comprehend.

We may add that the rest of the additions are in the same temperate tone. It was one of the constant charges of the hyper-orthodox party against Basil and Gregory that they were unwilling to define precisely and polemically the doctrine of the Third Person in the Trinity. Accordingly those who read the exposition of this doctrine as set forth in the original Greek* of these clauses will be surprised to see how wonderfully that subtle language has veiled the harshnesses and roughnesses that appear in the English or Latin † translation. What

may have been the feelings of the followers of Macedonius, we know not; but we may be certain that no sect now existing, whether belonging to the so-called orthodox or the socalled heretical churches, could find any difficulty in accepting,

Το πνεύμα, το κυρίον, το ζωοποιόν, το εκ του Πατρός εκπορευόμενον, το συν Πατρί και Υιώ συμπροσκυνούμενον συνδοξαζόμενον' το λαλήσαν @ià Tuy IIpoontūro compared with the Lord and Giver of Life who proceedeth from the Father and the Son,' &c. &c. † M. de Broglie, with an inaccuracy or a partiality, exceedingly rare in his works, has represented this part of the Creed as containing the disputed clause of the Filioque, proceeding from the Father ' and the Son.' Unimportant as this is according to our present notions, it was deemed of vital consequence in the middle ages by the Latin Church, and is still so regarded by the Greek Church. M. de Broglie therefore ought to have been the more careful to remember that it was not added till two centuries later, in the Latin versions of the Creed. An excellent account of its interpolation is given in M. Ffoulkes's second volume of Christendom's Divisions,' which, though by a Roman Catholic, is written with a laudable impartiality as regards the merits of the Greek and Latin controversies.

« PreviousContinue »