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presbyteri, qui populum erudire debent, de ipsa fide diligentissime examinentur, ita ut apostolicam fidem et universalem sex Synodorum per Spiritum Sanctum probatam, sicut tradita est nobis a Sancta Romana Ecclesia, per omnia confiteantur, teneant, et prædicent; et si opportunum venerit, pro ea mori non pertimescant : et quoscunque sancta universalia concilia susceperunt, suscipiant, et quos illa damnaverunt, eos et corde rejiciant et condemnent.-Wilkins, Conc. i. 146.
The first consisted of 318 Bishops (B)'assembled at Nice in Bithynia, at the command of the emperor Constantine, to decide the genuine and Apostolic Faith of the Church concerning the divinity of the Son, Jesus Christ, which had been assailed by Arius, who denied that he was really God. This dispute gave rise to the adoption of the term Homoousion ouoovolov, with which the orthodox bishops endeavoured to guard the identity in substance and essence of the Divinity of the Son with that of the Father. The 318 bishops condemned Arius, and set forth a creed which is the foundation of that usually known as the Nicene, though on account of the additions which were made to it at the council of Constantinople, A.D. 381, it is more correctly styled the Constantinopolitan creed. The historian Theodoret mentions that there were present in the council many who still exercised apostolical gifts, of whom he instances James Bishop of Antioch, who had raised the dead to life. There were also many who, as he says, “bore in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus," being maimed and scarred with the cruelties they had suffered from heathen persecutors on account of their religion; and he instances Paul, Bishop of Neocæsarea, who had had both hands seared with hot irons; others had lost their right eyes; others had been ham-strung in the right leg: so that he says it was a band of martyrs met together. Besides the creed, they put forth twenty canons relating to discipline. They also determined the time for keeping Easter, according to the method which has since obtained throughout Christendom. Which subject had previously been, and continued for some time afterwards to be, a fruitful source of dispute.
The following is the creed put forth in this council:
We believe in one God the Father, Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only-begotten, that is, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten not made, being of one
substance with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which are in heaven and which are in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down, and was incarnate, and was made man: he suffered, and rose the third day, ascended into heaven, and will come again to judge the quick and the dead : and in the Holy Ghost. But those who say, there was a time when He was not, and that He was not before He was begotten, and that He was of things which were not, or who say that He was of another subject or substance, or that the Son of God is subject to conversion and change, such persons the Catholick and Apostolick Church anathematizes. (See Eusebius' Life of Constantine, books ii. c. 64–73, and iii. c. 5–14; the Eccles. Hist. of Socrates, i. c. 8.; Sozomen, i. c. 17; and Theodoret, book i. ch. 7—10, 12. iv. 3.)
Sardica, A.D. 347.
The Roman writers (see Labbé and Cossart, vol. ii. p. 623), have laboured hard to give the authority of a general council to a synod of western bishops, to the number of eighty (see Beveridge's Pandect. ii. 199), who assembled at Sardica in Illyricum, against the Arians, in the year 347. Their apparent motive for this has been that certain canons (of doubtful authenticity), ascribed to this council somewhat favour the Roman claim for supremacy. But the council was never acknowledged in the East as general, nor was it ever contained in that list of general councils to which, as appears by the second profession of faith in libro diurno Roman. Pontif. published by Garner the Jesuit, and reprinted lately by the learned Routh (Script. Eccles. Opusc. ii. 501.) the Roman pontiffs were required to profess their adherence. The decrees ascribed to it, therefore, even if they could be shewn to be genuine (c), are totally irrelevant to the present undertaking. There is reason to believe that British bishops were present at this council (D).
Arimini, A.D. 359.
The title of a General Council is also claimed by the Roman writers (Labbé and Cossart, ii. 791), for the council of 400 Western bishops assembled at Arimini in Italy, likewise against the Arians, in the year 359. But it was never so considered by the Church at large, neither in the East nor West, and all its acts have been lost. There is no question that British bishops were present at it (E).
II. CONSTANTINOPLE, A.D. 381.
The second General (F) Council consisted of 150 bishops assembled at Constantinople in the year 381, by the Emperor Theodosius (G), to pass sentence upon Macedonius, who had broached a double heresy, partly in respect of the Son, whose substance and