Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

divinity he asserted to be similar to that of the Father, denying the identity : and partly in respect of the Holy Ghost, whom he expressly affirmed to be a creature. (Theodoret. Eccles. Hist. ii. c. 6.) This council condemned the Macedonian and some other heresies : revised and enlarged the Nicene creed, (this was the work of Gregory of Nyssa), and passed some canons (H), affecting ecclesiastical order and discipline, and wrote a synodical epistle of thanks to the Emperor Theodosius, by whom they had been convened. The creed put forth by this council is the same with that in the English Communion Service, excepting the words " and the Son,” speaking of the procession of the Holy Ghost. There are, besides, slight variations (1) in the different copies cited. (Socrates, Hist. Eccles. v. 8; Sozomen, vii. 9; Labbé and Cossart, ii. 911; Beveridge's Pandect. ii. 89; Routh, Scr. Eccles. Opusc. ii. 382.)

III. EPHESUS, A.D. 431.

The third Council to which the style and authority of a General Synod has been allowed by the whole Church, is that composed of 200 bishops assembled at Ephesus, by command of the Emperor Theodosius (K), in the year 431. The purpose of their meeting was to pass sentence upon Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, who refused to acknowledge the Virgin Mary to be the Mother of God, denying that Christ was God and man in one and the same

[ocr errors]

ne

person, by what is called the hypostatical union; and asserting that the Godhead of the Son merely dwelt in the body of Christ, so that he was composed of two persons. The council was convened at the instigation of Cyril, bishop of Alexandria. The only Western bishops present at it, were Arcadius and Projectus, legates from the Roman See. John, bishop of Antioch, assembled a synod in opposition to this, which passed censure upon Cyril and those with him, who in their turn pronounced the same upon John and his adherents. By the interposition of the Emperor this breach was subsequently bound up, and the decrees of this council received at Antioch as elsewhere. Besides the condemnation of Nestorius, the synod passed two decrees, one concerning the faith, and the other concerning usurped ecclesiastical jurisdiction, by both of which the modern Church of Rome stands openly convicted of schism. (Socrates, Eccles. Hist. vii. 34; Evagrius, i. 3; Labbé and Cossart, iii. 1.)

Ephesus, A.D. 449. The style of a general council was assumed by the synod of 128 bishops, who at the command of the Emperor Theodosius assembled at Ephesus in the year 449 : the style of a general council was allowed it by Gregory the Great (L), who is cited by Labbé and Cossart (iii. 1471): and as far as regards the members of which the synod was composed, there being the four Eastern patriarchs present in person,

and the Western represented by his legates, it has greater claim to be considered general than many of those which have been generally received. But its proceedings having been interrupted by the rude and tumultuous violence of the soldiery and others, the council was broken up, and nothing which it determined has ever been recognized by the Catholic Church. It was convened at the instigation of Dioscorus, patriarch of Alexandria, to obtain a reversal of the sentence of condemnation passed against the heretic Eutyches, at the council of Constantinople the preceding year, by Flavianus, the patriarch of that See, and thirty other bishops. The Emperor Theodosius was himself a favourer of Eutyches. Dioscorus interrupted the proceedings with a band of soldiers, and 300 armed monks; compelled the bishops to pass sentence of condemnation upon Flavianus and others, and committed them to prison. It may serve to show the barbarity of the age to mention, that, upon Flavianus remonstrating, Dioscorus fell foul of him, and so kicked and bruised him, that he died of the injuries which he then received. (Labbé and Cossart, iv. 4, 5.)

IV. CHALCEDON, A.D. 451.

The fourth Council to which the style and authority of a General Synod has been allowed by the whole Church, is that of 630 bishops convened by the Emperor Marcian, first at Nice, and thence

transferred to Chalcedon, in the year 451. It was assembled at the earnest entreaty of all the orthodox bishops, for the purpose of reversing the unlawful and heretical proceedings at Ephesus, and of obtaining the judgment of the whole Church upon the opinions which had been broached by the monk Eutyches. This individual had fallen into the exactly opposite error to that of Nestorius, which was condemned at the first council of Ephesus. For so far from allowing our Lord to have had two persons, he denied that he had two natures; maintaining that the human body which he received of the Virgin was not real flesh and blood, but merely the appearance of it, so that all his sufferings were in appearance also, and not real. (We find Ignatius in the second century contending against a similar error, as appears by his epistle to the Trallians.) The council condemned and deposed Dioscorus for his proceedings above-mentioned, reversed the acts of the second synod of Ephesus, and confirmed the Catholic faith in the reality of the two natures in the One Person of our Lord. They also passed thirty canons (M) relating to ecclesiastical jurisdiction and discipline in general. They confirmed also the decree of the first synod of Ephesus concerning the faith. (Labbé and Cossart, iv. 1—10.)

V. CONSTANTINOPLE II. A.D. 553.

The fifth synod, to which the style and authority

of a General Council has been allowed by the Catholic Church, is that of 165 bishops, assembled under the command of the Emperor Justinian the younger, in the year 553, at Constantinople; in which certain writings of Ibas, Bishop of Edessa, Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia, and of Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus, (commonly known as “the three chapters,”) which savoured of the Nestorian heresy, were condemned. There were no Western bishops present at it. Vigilius, Bishop of Rome, who was in Constantinople at the time, refused to be present, and sent to the emperor a decree contrary to the course which the council was taking. The council, notwithstanding, persisted, and passed with anathema, resolutions contrary to his decrees. (Baron. Annal. Eccles. ad ann. 553.) Vigilius, refusing to subscribe to these resolutions, was sent into exile by the emperor, and at last consented to give his approbation. The Roman writers are hard put to it to vindicate the authority of the Bishop of Rome in this matter; and it is curious to see the different and inconsistent grounds of defence adopted by Baronius, Binius, De Marca, and which may be found in Labbé and Cossart, v. 601.731. I confess it seems to me that they might have spared themselves the trouble, as far as Vigilius is concerned. When it is known that this wretched being procured the uncanonical deposition of his predecessor, Silverius, by bribery to the Roman general Belisarius ; that he procured his own election to the Popedom, during the lifetime of his un

reso

« PoprzedniaDalej »