Defence against the arians

By Athanasius
From: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2808.htm
 
Chapter II

Letter of Julius to the Eusebians at Antioch.

Eusebius and his fellows wrote also to Julius, and thinking to frighten
me, requested him to call a council, and to be himself the judge, if he so
pleased[6]. When therefore I went up to Rome, Julius wrote to Eusebius and his
fellows as was suitable, and sent moreover two of his own Presbyters[7],
Elpidius and Philoxenus[8]. But they, when they heard of me, were thrown into
confusion, as not expecting my going up thither; and they declined the
proposed Council, alleging unsatisfactory reasons for so doing, but in truth
they were afraid lest the things should be proved against them which Valens
and Ursacius afterwards confessed[9]. However, more than fifty Bishops
assembled, in the place where the Presbyter Vito held his congregation; and
they acknowledged my defence, and gave me the confirmation[1] both of their
communion and their love. On

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the other hand, they expressed great indignation against Eusebius and his
fellows, and requested that Julius would write to the following effect to
those of their number who had written to him. Which accordingly he did, and
sent it by the hand of Count Gabianus.

The Letter of Julius.

Julius to his dearly beloved brethren[2], Danius, Flacillus, Narcissus,
Eusebius, Maris, Macedonius, Theodorus, and their friends, who have written to
me from Antioch, sends health in the Lord.

21. I have read your letter[3] which was brought to me by my Presbyters
Elpidius and Philoxenus, and I am surprised to find that, whereas I wrote to
you in charity and with conscious sincerity, you have replied to me in an
unbecoming and contentious temper; for the pride and arrogance of the writers
is plainly exhibited in that letter. Yet such feelings are inconsistent with
the Christian faith; for what was written in a charitable spirit ought
likewise to be answered in a spirit of charity and not of contention. And was
it not a token of charity to send Presbyters to sympathize with them that are
in suffering, and to desire those who had written to me to come thither, that
the questions at issue might obtain a speedy settlement, and all things be
duly ordered, so that our brethren might no longer be exposed to suffering,
and that you might escape further calumny? But something seems to shew that
your temper is such, as to force us to conclude that even in the terms in
which you appeared to pay honour to us, you have expressed yourselves under
the disguise of irony. The Presbyters also whom we sent to you, and who ought
to have returned rejoicing, did on the contrary return sorrowful on account
of the proceedings they had witnessed among you. And I, when I had read your
letter, after much consideration, kept it to myself, thinking that after all
some of you would come, and there would be no need to bring it forward, lest
if it should be openly exhibited, it should grieve many of our brethren here.
But when no one arrived, and it became necessary that the letter should be
produced, I declare to you, they were all astonished, and were hardly able to
believe that such a letter had been written by you at all; for it is expressed
in terms of contention rather than of charity.

Now if the author of it wrote with an ambition of exhibiting his power of
language, such a practice surely is more suitable for other subjects: in
ecclesiastical matters, it is not a display of eloquence that is needed, but
the observance of Apostolic Canons, and an earnest care not to offend one of
the little ones of the Church. For it were better for a man, according to the
word of the Church, that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he
were drowned in the sea, than that he should offend even one of the little
ones[4]. But if such a letter was written, because certain persons have been
aggrieved on account of their meanness of spirit towards one another (for I
will not impute it to all); it were better not to entertain any such feeling
of offence at all, at least not to let the sun go down upon their vexation;
and certainly not to give it room to exhibit itself in writing.

22. Yet what has been done that is a just cause of vexation? or in what
respect was my letter to you such? Was it, that I invited you to be present at
a council? You ought rather to have received the proposal with joy. Those who
have confidence in their proceedings, or as they choose to term them, in their
decisions, are not wont to be angry, if such decision is inquired into by
others; they rather shew all boldness, seeing that if they have given a just
decision, it can never prove to be the reverse. The Bishops who assembled in
the great Council of Nicaea agreed, not without the will of God, that the
decisions of one council should be examined in another[5], to the end that the
judges, having before their eyes that other trial which was to follow, might
be led to investigate matters with the utmost caution, and that the parties
concerned in their sentence might have assurance that the judgment they
received was just, and not dictated by the enmity of their

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former judges. Now if you are unwilling that such a practice should be adopted
in your own case, though it is of ancient standing, and has been noticed and
recommended by the great Council, your refusal is not becoming; for it is
unreasonable that a custom which had once obtained in the Church, and been
established by councils, should be set aside by a few individuals.

For a further reason they cannot justly take offence in this point. When
the persons whom you, Eusebius and his fellows, dispatched with your letters,
I mean Macarius the Presbyter, and Martyrius and Hesychius the Deacons,
arrived here, and found that they were unable to withstand the arguments of
the Presbyters who came from Athanasius, but were confuted and exposed on all
sides, they then requested me to call a Council together, and to write to
Alexandria to the Bishop Athanasius, and also to Eusebius and his fellows, in
order that a just judgment might be given in presence of all parties. And they
undertook in that case to prove all the charges which had been brought against
Athanasius. For Martyrius and Hesychius had been publicly refuted by us, and
the Presbyters of the Bishop Athanasius had withstood them with great
confidence: indeed, if one must tell the truth, Martyrius and his fellows had
been utterly overthrown; and this it was that led them to desire that a
Council might be held. Now supposing that they had not desired a Council, but
that I had been the person to propose it, in discouragement of those who had
written to me, and for the sake of our brethren who complain that they have
suffered injustice; even in that case the proposal would have been reasonable
and just, for it is agreeable to ecclesiastical practice, and well pleasing to
God. But when those persons, whom you, Eusebius and his fellows, considered to
be trustworthy, when even they wished me to call the brethren together, it was
inconsistent in the parties invited to take offence, when they ought rather to
have shewn all readiness to be present. These considerations shew that the
display of anger in the offended persons is petulant, and the refusal of those
who decline to meet the Council is unbecoming, and has a suspicious
appearance. Does any one find fault, if he sees that done by another, which he
would allow if done by himself? If, as you write, each council has an
irreversible force, and he who has given judgment on a matter is dishonoured,
if his sentence is examined by others; consider, dearly beloved, who are they
that dishonour councils? who are setting aside the decisions of former judges?
Not to inquire at present into every individual case, lest I should appear to
press too heavily on certain parties, the last instance that has occurred, and
which every one who hears it must shudder at, will be sufficient in proof of
the others which I omit.

23. The Arians who were excommunicated for their impiety by Alexander, the
late Bishop of Alexandria, of blessed memory, were not only proscribed by the
brethren in the several cities, but were also anathematised by the whole body
assembled together in the great Council of NicAEa. For theirs was no ordinary
offence, neither had they sinned against man, but against our Lord Jesus
Christ Himself, the Son of the living God. And yet these persons who were
proscribed by the whole world, and branded in every Church, are said now to
have been admitted to communion again; which I think even you ought to hear
with indignation. Who then are the parties who dishonour a council? Are not
they who have set at nought the votes of the Three hundred[6], and have
preferred impiety to godliness? The heresy of the Arian madmen was condemned
and proscribed by the whole body of Bishops everywhere; but the Bishops
Athanasius and Marcellus have many supporters who speak and write in their
behalf. We have received testimony in favour of Marcellus[7], that he resisted
the advocates of the Arian doctrines in the Council of NicAEa; and in favour
of Athanasius[8], that at Tyre nothing was brought home to him, and that in
the Mareotis, where the Reports against him are said to have been drawn up, he
was not present. Now you know, dearly beloved, that ex parte proceedings are
of no weight, but bear a suspicious appearance. Nevertheless, these things
being so, we, in order to be accurate, and neither shewing any prepossession
in favour of yourselves, nor of those who wrote in behalf of the other party,
invited those who had written to us to come hither; that, since there were
many who wrote in their behalf, all things might be enquired into in a
council, and neither the guiltless might be condemned, nor the person on his
trial be accounted innocent. We then are not the parties who dishonour a
council, but they who at once and recklessly have received the Arians whom all
had condemned, and contrary to the decision of the judges. The greater part of
those judges have now departed, and are with Christ; but some of them are
still in this life of trial, and

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are indignant at learning that certain persons have set aside their judgment.

24. We have also been informed of the following circumstance by those who
were at Alexandria. A certain Carpones, who had been excommunicated by
Alexander for Arianism, was sent hither by one Gregory with certain others,
also excommunicated for the same heresy. However, I had learnt the matter also
from the Presbyter Macarius, and the Deacons Martyrius and Hesychius. For
before the Presbyters of Athanasius arrived they urged me to send letters to
one Pistus at Alexandria, though at the same time the Bishop Athanasius was
there. And when the Presbyters of the Bishop Athanasius came, they informed me
that this Pistus was an Arian, and that he had been excommunicated[9] by the
Bishop Alexander and the Council of NicAEa, and then ordained[1] by one
Secundus, whom also the great Council excommunicated as an Arian. This
statement Martyrius and his fellows did not gainsay, nor did they deny that
Pistus had received his ordination from Secundus. Now consider, after this who
are most justly liable to blame? I, who could not be prevailed upon to write
to the Arian Pistus; or those, who advised me to do dishonour to the great
Council, and to address the irreligious as if they were religious persons?
Moreover, when the Presbyter Macarius, who had been sent hither by Eusebius
with Martyrius and the rest, heard of the opposition which had been made by
the Presbyters of Athanasius, while we were expecting his appearance with
Martyrius and Hesychius, he departed in the night, in spite of a bodily
ailment; which leads us to conjecture that his departure arose from shame on
account of the exposure which had been made concerning Pistus. For it is
impossible that the ordination of the Arian Secundus should be considered
valid in the Catholic Church. This would indeed be dishonour to the Council,
and to the Bishops who composed it, if the decrees they framed, as in the
presence of God, with such extreme earnestness and care, should be set aside
as worthless.

25. If, as you write[2], the decrees of all Councils ought to be of force,
according to the precedent in the case of Novatus[3] and Paul of Samosata, all
the more ought not the sentence of the Three hundred to be reversed, certainly
a general Council ought not to be set at nought by a few individuals. For the
Arians are heretics as they, and the like sentence has been passed both
against one and the other. And, after such bold proceedings as these, who are
they that have lighted up the flame of discord? for in your letter you blame
us for having done this. Is it we, who have sympathised with the sufferings of
the brethren, and have acted in all respects according to the Canon ; or they
who contentiously and contrary to the Canon have set aside the sentence of the
Three hundred, and dishonoured the Council in every way? For not only have the
Arians been received into communion, but Bishops also have made a practice of
removing from one place to another[4]. Now if you really believe that all
Bishops have the same and equal authority[5], and you do not, as you assert,
account of them according to the magnitude of their cities; he that is
entrusted with a small city ought to abide in the place committed to him, and
not from disdain of his trust to remove to one that has never been put under
him; despising that which God has given him, and making much of the vain
applause of men. You ought then, dearly beloved, to have come and not
declined, that the matter may be brought to a conclusion; for this is what
reason demands.

But perhaps you were prevented by the time fixed upon for the Council, for
you complain in your letter that the interval before the day we appointed[6]
was too short. But this, beloved, is a mere excuse. Had the day forestalled
any when on the journey, the interval allowed would then have been proved to
be too short. But when persons do not wish to come, and detain even my
Presbyters up to the month of January[7], it is the mere excuse of those who
have no confidence in their cause; otherwise, as I said before, they would
have come, not regarding the length of the journey, not considering the
shortness of the time, but trusting to the justice and reasonableness of their
cause. But perhaps they did not come on account of the aspect of the times[8],
for again you declare in your letter, that we ought to have considered the
present circumstances of the East, and not to have urged you to come. Now if
as you say you did not come because the times were such, you ought to have
considered such times beforehand, and not to have become the authors of
schism, and of mourning and lamentation in the Churches. But as the matter
stands, men, who have been

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the cause of these things, shew that it is not the times that are to blame,
but the determination of those who will not meet a Council.

26. But I wonder also how you could ever have written that part of your
letter, in which you say, that I alone wrote, and not to all of you, but to
Eusebius and his fellows only. In this complaint one may discover more of
readiness to find fault than of regard for truth. I received the letters
against Athanasius from none other than Martyrius, Hesychius and their
fellows, and I necessarily wrote to them who had written against him. Either
then Eusebius and his fellows ought not alone to have written, apart from you
all, or else you, to whom I did not write, ought not to be offended that I
wrote to them who had written to me. If it was right that I should address my
letter to you all, you also ought to have written with them: but now
considering what was reasonable, I wrote to them, who had addressed themselves
to me, and had given me information. But if you were displeased because I
alone wrote to them, it is but consistent that you should also be angry,
because they wrote to me alone. But for this also, beloved, there was a fair
and not unreasonable cause. Nevertheless it is necessary that I should
acquaint you that, although I wrote, yet the sentiments I expressed were not
those of myself alone, but of all the Bishops throughout Italy and in these
parts. I indeed was unwilling to cause them all to write, test the others
should be overpowered by their number. The Bishops however assembled on the
appointed day, and agreed in these opinions, which I again write to signify to
you; so that, dearly beloved, although I alone address you, yet you may be
assured that these are the sentiments of all. Thus much for the excuses, not
reasonable, but unjust and suspicious, which some of you have alleged for your
conduct.

27. Now although what has already been said were sufficient to shew that
we have not admitted to our communion our brothers Athanasius and Marcellus
either too readily, or unjustly, yet it is but fair briefly to set the matter
before you. Eusebius and his fellows wrote formerly against Athanasius and his
fellows, as you also have written now; but a great number of Bishops out of
Egypt and other provinces wrote in his favour. Now in the first place, your
letters against him are inconsistent with one another, and the second have no
sort of agreement with the first, but in many instances the former are
answered by the latter, and the latter are impeached by the former. Now where
there is this contradiction in letters, no credit whatever is due to the
statements they contain. In the next place if you require us to believe what
you have written, it is lint consistent that we should not refuse credit to
those who have written in his favour; especially, considering that you write
from a distance, while they are on the spot, are acquainted with the man, and
the events which are occurring there, and testify in writing to his manner of
life, and positively affirm that he has been the victim of a conspiracy
throughout.

Again, a certain Bishop Arsenius was said at one time to have been made
away with by Athanasius, but we have learned that he is alive, nay, that he is
on terms of friendship with him. He has positively asserted that the Reports
drawn up in the Mareotis were ex parte ones; for that neither the Presbyter
Macarius, the accused party, was present, nor yet his Bishop, Athanasius
himself. This we have learnt, not only from his own mouth, but also from the
Reports which Martyrius, Hesychius and their fellows, brought to as[9]; for we
found on reading them, that the accuser Ischyras was present there, but
neither Macarius, nor the Bishop Athanasius; and that the Presbyters of
Athanasius desired to attend, but were not permitted. Now, beloved, if the
trial was to be conducted honestly, not only the accuser, but the accused also
ought to have been present. As the accused party Macarius attended at Tyre, as
well as the accuser Ischyras, when nothing was proved, so not only ought the
accuser to have gone to the Mareotis, but also the accused, so that in person
he might either be convicted, or by not being convicted might shew the
falseness of the accusation. But now, as this was not the case, but the
accuser only went out thither, with those to whom Athanasius objected, the
proceedings wear a suspicious appearance.

28. And he complained also that the persons who went to the Mareotis went
against his wish, for that Theognius, Maris, Theodorus, Ursacius, Valens, and
Macedonius, who were the persons they sent out, were of suspected character.
This he shewed not by his own assertions merely, but from the letter of
Alexander who was Bishop of Thessalonica; for he produced a letter written by
him to Dionysius[1], the Count who presided in the Council, in which he shews
most clearly that there was a conspiracy on foot against Athanasius. He has
also brought forward a genuine document, all in the handwriting of the accuser
Ischyras himself[2], in which he calls God Almighty to

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witness that no cup was broken, nor table overthrown, but that he had been
suborned by certain persons to invent these accusations. Moreover, when the
Presbyters of the Mareotis arrived[3], they positively affirmed that Ischyras
was not a Presbyter of the Catholic Church and that Macarius had not committed
any such offence as the other had laid to his charge. The Presbyters and
Deacons also who came to us testified in the fullest manner in favour of the
Bishop Athanasius, strenuously asserting that none of those things which were
alleged against him were true, but that he was the victim of a conspiracy.

And all the Bishops of Egypt and Libya wrote and protested[4] that his
ordination was lawful and strictly ecclesiastical, and that all that you had
advanced against him was false, for that no murder had been committed, nor any
persons despatched on his account, nor any cup broken, but that all was false.
Nay, the Bishop Athanasius also shewed from the ex parte reports drawn up in
the Mareotis, that a catechumen was examined and said[5], that he was within
with Ischyras, at the time when they say Macarius the Presbyter of Athanasius
burst into the place; and that others who were examined said,--one, that
Ischyras was in a small cell,--and another, that he was lying down behind the
door, being sick at that very time, when they say Macarius came thither. Now
from these representations of his, we are naturally led to ask the question,
How was it possible that a man who was lying behind the door sick could get
up, conduct the service, and offer? and how could it be that Oblations were
offered when catechumens were within[6]? for if there were catechumens
present, it was not yet the time for presenting the Oblations. These
representations, as I said,were made by the Bishop Athanasius, and he showed
from the reports, what was also positively affirmed by those who were with
him, that Ischyras has never been a presbyter at all in the Catholic Church,
nor has ever appeared as a presbyter in the assemblies of the Church; for not
even when Alexander admitted those of the Meletian schism, by the indulgence
of the great Council, was he named by Meletius among his presbyters, as they
deposed[7]; which is the strongest argument possible that he was not even a
presbyter of Meletius; for otherwise, he would certainly have been numbered
with the rest. Besides, it was shewn also by Athanasius from the reports, that
Ischyras had spoken falsely in other instances: for he set up a charge
respecting the burning of certain books, when, as they pretend, Macarius burst
in upon them, but was convicted of falsehood by the witnesses he himself
brought to prove it.

29. Now when these things were thus represented to us, and so many
witnesses appeared in his favour, and so much was advanced by him in his own
justification, what did it become us to do? what did the rule of the Church
require of us, but that we should not condemn him, but rather receive him and
treat him like a Bishop, as we have done? Moreover, besides all this he
continued here a year and six months[8], expecting the arrival of yourselves
and of whoever chose to come, and by his presence he put everyone to shame,
for he would not have been here, had he not felt confident in his cause; and
he came not of his own accord, but on an invitation by letter from us, in the
manner in which we wrote to you[9]. But still you complain after all of our
transgressing the Canons. Now consider; who are they that have so acted? we
who received this man with such ample proof of his innocence, or they who,
being at Antioch at the distance of six and thirty posts[1], nominated a
stranger to be Bishop, and sent him to Alexandria with a military force; a
thing which was not done even when Athanasius was banished into Gaul, though
it would have been done then, had he been really proved guilty of the offence.
But when he returned, of course he found his Church unoccupied and waiting for
him.

30. But now I am ignorant under what colour these proceedings have been
carried on. In the first place, if the truth must be spoken, it was not right,
when we had written to summon a council, that any persons should anticipate
its decisions: and in the next place, it was not fitting that such novel
proceedings should be adopted against the Church. For what canon of the
Church, or what Apostolical tradition warrants this, that when a Church was at
peace, and so many Bishops were in unanimity with Athanasius the Bishop of
Alexandria, Gregory should be sent thither, a stranger to the city, not having
been baptized

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there, nor known to the general body, and desired neither by Presbyters, nor
Bishops, nor Laity--that he should be appointed at Antioch, and sent to
Alexandria, accompanied not by presbyters, nor by deacons of the city, nor by
bishops of Egypt, but by soldiers? for they who came hither complained that
this was the case.

Even supposing that Athanasius was in the position of a criminal after the
Council, this appointment ought not to have been made thus illegally and
contrary to the rule of the Church, but the Bishops of the province ought to
have ordained one in that very Church, of that very Priesthood, of that very
Clergy[2]; and the Canons received from the Apostles ought not thus to be set
aside. Had this offence been committed against any one of you, would you not
have exclaimed against it, and demanded justice as for the transgression of
the Canons? Dearly beloved, we speak honestly, as in the presence of God, and
declare, that this proceeding was neither pious, nor lawful, nor
ecclesiastical. Moreover, the account which is given of the conduct of Gregory
on his entry into the city, plainly shews the character of his appointment. In
such peaceful times, as those who came from Alexandria declared them to have
been, and as the Bishops also represented in their letters, the Church was set
on fire; Virgins were stripped; Monks were trodden under foot; Presbyters and
many of the people were scourged and suffered violence; Bishops were cast into
prison; multitudes were dragged about from place to place; the holy
Mysteries[3], about which they accused the Presbyter Macarius, were seized
upon by heathens and cast upon the ground; and all to constrain certain
persons to admit the appointment of Gregory. Such conduct plainly shews who
they are that transgress the Canons. Had the appointment been lawful, he would
not have had recourse to illegal proceedings to compel the obedience of those
who in a legal way resisted him. And notwithstanding all this, you write that
perfect peace prevailed in Alexandria and Egypt. Surely not, unless the work
of peace is entirely changed, and you call such doings as these peace.

31. I have also thought it necessary to point out to you this
circumstance, viz. that Athanasius positively asserted that Macarius was kept
at Tyre under a guard of soldiers, while only his accuser accompanied those
who went to the Mareotis; and that the Presbyters who desired to attend the
inquiry were not permitted to do so, while the said inquiry respecting the cup
and the Table was carried on before the Prefect and his band, and in the
presence of Heathens and Jews. This at first seemed incredible, but it was
proved to have been so from the Reports; which caused great astonishment to
us, as I suppose, dearly beloved, it does to you also. Presbyters, who are the
ministers of the Mysteries, are not permitted to attend, but an enquiry
concerning Christ's Blood and Christ's Body is carried on before an external
judge, in the presence of Catechumens, nay, worse than that, before Heathens
and Jews, who are in ill repute in regard to Christianity. Even supposing that
an offense had been committed, it should have been investigated legally in the
Church and by the Clergy, not by heathens who abhor the Word and know not the
Truth. I am persuaded that both you and all men must perceive the nature and
magnitude of this sin. Thus much concerning Athanasius.

32. With respect to Marcellus[5], forasmuch as you have charged him also
of impiety towards Christ, I am anxious to inform you, that when he was here,
he positively declared that what you had written concerning him was not true;
but being nevertheless requested by us to give an account of his faith, he
answered in his own person with the utmost boldness, so that we recognised
that he maintain s nothing outside the truth. He made a confession[6] of the
same godly doctrines concerning our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as the
Catholic Church confesses; and he affirmed that he had held these opinions for
a very long time, and had not recently adopted them: as indeed our
Presbyters[7], who were at a former date present at the Council of NicAEa,
testified to his orthodoxy; for he maintained then, as he has done now, his
opposition to Arianism (on which points it is right to admonish you, lest any
of you admit such heresy, instead of abominating it as alien from sound
doctrine[8]). Seeing then that he professed orthodox opinions, and had
testimony to his orthodoxy, what, I ask again in his case, ought we to have
done, except to receive him as a Bishop, as we did, and not reject him from
our communion? These things I have written, not so much for the purpose of
defending their cause,

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as in order to convince you, that we acted justly and canonically in receiving
these persons, and that you are contentious without a cause. But it is your
duty to use your anxious endeavours and to labour by every means to correct
the irregularities which have been committed contrary to the Canon, and to
secure the peace of the Churches; so that the peace of our Lord which has been
given to us[9] may remain, and the Churches may not be divided, nor you incur
the charge of being authors of schism. For I confess, your past conduct is an
occasion of schism rather than of peace.

33. For not only the Bishops Athanasius and Marcellus and their fellows
came hither and complained of the injustice that had been done them, but many
other Bishops also[1], from Thrace, from Coele-Syria, from PhOEnicia and
Palestine, and Presbyters, not a few, and others from Alexandria and from
other parts, were present at the Council here, and in addition to their other
statements, lamented before all the assembled Bishops the violence and
injustice which the Churches had suffered, and affirmed that similar outrages
to those which had been committed in Alexandria had occurred in their own
Churches, and in others also. Again there lately came Presbyters with letters
from Egypt and Alexandria, who complained that many Bishops and Presbyters who
wished to come to the Council were prevented; for they said that, since the
departure of Athanasius[2] even up to this time, Bishops who are confessors[3]
have been beaten with stripes, that others have been cast into prison, and
that but lately aged men, who have been an exceedingly long period in the
Episcopate, have been given up to be employed in the public works, and nearly
all the Clergy of the Catholic Church with the people are the objects of plots
and persecutions. Moreover they said that certain Bishops and other brethren
had been banished for no other reason than to compel them against their will
to communicate with Gregory and his Arian associates. We have heard also from
others, what is confirmed by the testimony of the Bishop Marcellus, that a
number of outrages, similar to those which were committed at Alexandria, have
occurred also at Ancyra in Galatia[4]. And in addition to all this, those who
came to the Council reported against some of you (for I will not mention
names) certain charges of so dreadful a nature that I have declined setting
them down in writing: perhaps you also have heard them from others. It was for
this cause especially that I wrote to desire you to come, that you might be
present to hear them, and that all irregularities might be corrected and
differences healed. And those who were called for these purposes ought not to
have refused, but to have come the more readily, lest by failing to do so they
should be suspected of what was alleged against them, and be thought unable to
prove what they had written.

34. Now according to these representations, since the Churches are thus
afflicted and treacherously assaulted, as our informants positively affirmed,
who are they that have lighted up a flame of discords[5]? We, who grieve for
such a state of things and sympathize with the sufferings of the brethren, or
they who have brought these things about? While then such extreme confusion
existed in every Church, which was the cause why those who visited us came
hither, I wonder bow you could write that unanimity prevailed in the Churches.
These things tend not to the edification of the Church, but to her
destruction; and those who rejoice in them are not sons of peace, but of
confusion: but our God is not a God of confusion, but of peace[6]. Wherefore,
as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ knows, it was from a regard for
your good name, and with prayers that the Churches might not fall into
confusion, but might continue as they were regulated by the Apostles, that I
thought it necessary to write thus unto you, to the end that you might at
length put to shame those who through the effects of their mutual enmity have
brought the Churches to this condition. For I have heard, that it is only a
certain few[7] who are the authors of all these things.

Now, as having bowels of mercy, take ye care to correct, as I said before,
the irregularities which have been committed contrary to the Canon, so that if
any mischief has already befallen, it may be healed through your zeal. And
write not that I have preferred the communion of Marcellus and Athanasius to
yours, for such like complaints are no indications of peace, but of
contentiousness and hatred of the brethren. For this cause I have written the
foregoing, that you may understand that we acted not unjustly in admitting
them to our communion, and so may cease this strife. If

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you had come hither, and they had been condemned, and had appeared unable to
produce reasonable evidence in support of their cause, you would have done
well in writing thus. But seeing that, as I said before, we acted agreeably to
the Canon, and not unjustly, in holding communion with them, I beseech you for
the sake of Christ, suffer not the members of Christ to be torn asunder,
neither trust to prejudices, but seek rather the peace of the Lord. It is
neither holy nor just, in order to gratify the petty feeling of a few persons,
to reject those who have never been condemned and thereby to grieve the
Spirit[8]. But if you think that you are able to prove anything against them,
and to confute them face to face let those of you who please come hither: for
they also promised that they would be ready to establish completely the truth
of those things which they have reported to us.

35. Give us notice therefore of this, dearly beloved, that we may write
both to them, and to the Bishops who will have again to assemble, so that the
accused may be condemned in the presence of all, and confusion no longer
prevail in the Churches. What has already taken place is enough: it is enough
surely that Bishops have been sentenced to banishment in the presence of
Bishops; of which it behoves me not to speak at length, lest I appear to press
too heavily on those who were present on those occasions. But if one must
speak the truth, matters ought not to have proceeded so far; their petty
feeling ought not to have been suffered to reach the present pitch. Let us
grant the "removal," as you write, of Athanasius and Marcellus, front their
own places, yet what must one say of the case of the other Bishops and
Presbyters who, as I said before, came hither from various parts, and who
complained that they also had been forced away, and had suffered the like
injuries? O beloved, the decisions of the Church are no longer according to
the Gospel, but tend only to banishment and death[9]. Supposing, as you
assert, that some offence rested upon those persons, the case ought to have
been conducted against them, not after this manner, but according to the
Canon of the Church. Word should have been written of it to us all, that
so a just sentence might prceed from all. For the sufferers were Bishops, and
Churches of no ordinary note, but those which the Apostles themselves had
governed in their own persons[2].

And why was nothing said to us concerning the Church of the Alexandrians
in particular? Are you ignorant that the custom has been for word to be
written first to us, and then for a just decision to be passed from this
place[3]? If then any such suspicion rested upon the Bishop there, notice
thereof ought to have been sent to the Church of this place; whereas, after
neglecting to inform us, and proceeding on their own authority as they
pleased, now they desire to obtain our concurrence in their decisions, though
we never condemned him. Not so have the constitutions[4] of Paul, not so have
the traditions of the Fathers directed; this is another form of procedure, a
novel practice. I beseech you, readily bear with me: what I write is for the
common good. For what we have received from the blessed Apostle Peter s, that
I signify to you; and I should not have written this, as deeming that these
things were manifest unto all men, had not these proceedings so disturbed us.
Bishops are forced away from their sees and driven into banishment, while
others from different quarters are appointed in their place; others are
treacherously assailed, so that the people have to grieve for those who are
forcibly taken from them, while, as to those who are sent in their room, they
are obliged to give over seeking the man whom they desire, and to receive
those they do not.

I ask of you, that such things may no longer be, but that you will
denounce in writing those persons who attempt them; so that the Churches may
no longer be afflicted thus, nor any Bishop or Presbyter be treated with
insult, nor any one be compelled to act contrary to his judgment, as they have
represented to us, lest we become a laughing-stock among the heathen, and
above all, lest we excite the wrath of God

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against us. For every one of us shall give account in the Day of judgment[6]
of the things which he has done in this life. May we all be possessed with the
mind of God ! so that the Churches may recover their own Bishops, and rejoice
evermore in Jesus Christ our Lord; through Whom to the Father be glory, for
ever and ever. Amen.

I pray for your health in the Lord, brethren dearly beloved and greatly
longer for.

36. Thus wrote the Council of Rome by Julius, Bishop of Rome.