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    August 19, 1897

    “How the Catholic Creed Was Made. The Catholic Faith Re-established” The Present Truth 13, 33, pp. 516-518.


    THE Emperor Constantius was succeeded by Julian, who restored paganism as the religion of the emperor and the empire, and exerted his influence, though not his power, in favour of its restoration as the religion of the people.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 516.1


    JULIAN refused to take any part whatever in the strifes of the church parties, “saying that as he was not so well acquainted with the nature of their disputes as a just and impartial judge ought to be, he hoped they would excuse him, lest he should be guilty of some injustice.” (Bower.) He therefore directed them to settle their differences among themselves. To this end he issued an edict of toleration to all classes of Christians, and recalled from banishment all the bishops and clergy who had been banished by Constantius.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 516.2

    Thus there was restored to the afflicted empire a condition of peace and quietness such as had not been for fifty years. And because of his refusal to allow himself and his authority to be made the tool of the riotous and bigoted church parties—to this more than to any other one thing, is to be attributed the spiteful epithet of “the apostate,” which ever since has been affixed to his name. Pagan though he was, if he had, like Constantine, assumed the hypocritical mask, and had played into the hands of the dominant church party, there is no room for doubt that he would, like Constantine, have been an orthodox emperor, with the title of “the great.”PTUK August 19, 1897, page 516.3

    Under the circumstances, it would be almost surprising if Julian had been anything else than what he was. His own father, an uncle, and seven of his cousins, were the victims of a murder instigated by the dying Constantine and faithfully carried out by Constantius. Julian himself, though only six years of age, by the care of some friends barely escaped the same fate. Constantius was his cousin, and, as emperor, assumed the place of his guardian. “His place of education had been a prison, and his subsequent liberty was watched with suspicious vigilance.” He had seen the streets of the chief cities of the empire run with blood, in the savage strifes of church parties. Over the bodies of slaughtered people he had seen bishops placed upon thrones of episcopal ambition. Such impressions forced upon his young mind, confirmed by more than twenty years’ observation of the violent and unchristian lives of Constantius, and hundreds of ecclesiastics, and multitudes of the populace, all professing to be living depositaries of the Christian faith,—all this was not the best calculated to convince him of the virtues of the imperial religion.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 516.4

    It is indeed charged that in issuing the edict of toleration, and the recall of the exiled ecclesiastics, Julian’s motive was to vent his spite against Christianity, by having the church parties destroy one another in their contentions. Even if this is true, if he was to be guided by the experience and observations of his whole life, he is hardly to be blamed for thinking that there was some prospect of such a result. No such result followed, however, because when the prospect of imperial favor and patronage and power was gone, the church parties had nothing to contend for; because, as Neander says:—PTUK August 19, 1897, page 516.5

    party passions among the Christians would, undoubtedly, never have risen to so high a pitch, had it not been for the interference of the State. As this disturbing and circumscribing influence of a foreign power now fell away of itself, and the church was left to follow out naturally its own development from within itself, the right relations were everywhere more easily restored.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 516.6


    JULIAN died June 26, A.D. 363, beyond the river Tigris, of a wound received in a war with Persia, after a reign of one year, eight months, and twenty-three days. Upon his death, the army in the field elected Jovian emperor, and returned to Antioch. The Emperor was no sooner arrived at Antioch than the ecclesiastical commotion was again renewed. The leaders of the church parties endeavored to outdo one another in their eager haste to secure his support; “for the heads of each party assiduously paid their court to the emperor, with a view of obtaining not only protection for themselves, but also power against their opponents.” (Socrates.)PTUK August 19, 1897, page 517.1

    Among the first of these came the party of Macedonius of Constantinople, with a petition that the emperor would expel all the Arians from their churches, and allow them to take their places. To this petition Jovian replied, “I abominate contentiousness; but I love and honor those who exert themselves to promote unanimity.” This somewhat checked the factious zeal. Another attempt was made, but Jovian declared “that he would not molest any one on account of his religious sentiments, and that he should love and highly esteem such as would zealously promote the unity of the church.” A pagan philosopher in an oration in honor of the Emperor, rebuked these parties with the observation that such persons worshipped the purple and not the Deity, and resembled the uncertain waves of the sea, sometimes rolling in one direction and again in the very opposite way; and praised the Emperor for his liberality in permitting every one freely to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 517.2

    Jovian, though guaranteeing a general toleration, himself professed the Nicene Creed, and a particular preference for Athanasius, who at his invitation visited Antioch, and after having settled the faith of the emperor, and promised him “a long and peaceful reign,” returned to his episcopal seat at Alexandria. The long and peaceful reign assured by the zealous ecclesiastic continued only about two months from this time, and ended in the death of Jovian, February 17, A.D. 364, after a total reign of seven months and twenty-one days from the death of Julian.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 517.3

    Ten days after the death of Jovian, Valentinian was chosen emperor; and thirty days after this, he bestowed upon his brother Valens an equal share in the imperial dignity. Valens assumed the jurisdiction of the whole East, with his capital at Constantinople. Valentinian retained the dominion of the West, with his capital at Milan. Both of these emperors pursued the tolerant policy of Jovian, so far as paganism and the church parties were concerned; but they let loose a cruel persecution upon the profession of “magic,” and under the accusations of sorcery and witchcraft, an infinite number and variety of individual spites and animosities were let loose, and it seemed as though the horrors of the days of Tiberius and Domitian were returned.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 517.4

    In 370 Valens cast his influence decidedly in favor of the Arian faith, by receiving baptism at the hands of the Arian bishop of Constantinople. The tumults of the religious parties again began, and “every episcopal vacancy was the occasion of a popular tumult.”PTUK August 19, 1897, page 517.5


    In 373 Athanasius died, and the emperor Valens commanded the prefect of Egypt to install in the vacant bishopric an Arian prelate by the name of Lucius, which was done; but not without the accompaniment of riot and bloodshed, which was now hardly more than a part of the regular ceremony of induction into office in the principal bishoprics of the empire.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 517.6

    In the West, after the death of Constantius, the bishops returned to the faith established by the Council of Nice, which so largely prevailed there that the differences springing from the Arian side caused no material difficulty. As before stated, Valentinian suffered all religious parties, even the pagan, to continue unmolested; yet he himself was always a Catholic. About the year 367 he greatly increased the dignity and authority of the bishop of Rome by publishing a law empowering him to examine, and sit as judge upon, the cases of other bishops. In 375 Valentinian died, and was succeeded by his two sons, Gratian, aged sixteen years, and Valentinian II, aged four years.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 517.7

    Gratian was but the tool of the bishops. Ambrose was at that time bishop of Milan, and never was episcopal ambition more arrogantly asserted than in that insolent prelate. Soon the mind of the bishop asserted the supremacy over that of the boy emperor, and Ambrose “wielded at his will the weak and irresolute Gratian.” (Milman.) But above all things else that Gratian did, that which redounded most to the glory of the Catholic Church was his choice of Theodosius as associate emperor. Valens was killed in a battle with the Goths, A.D. 378. A stronger hand than that of a youth of nineteen was required to hold the reins of government in the East.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 517.8

    In the establishment of the Catholic Church, the place of Theodosius is second only to that of Constantine. About the beginning of A.D. 380 he was baptized by the Catholic bishop of Thessalonica, and immediately afterward he issued the following edict:—PTUK August 19, 1897, page 517.9

    It is our pleasure that the nations which are governed by our clemency and moderation, should steadfastly adhere to the religion which was taught by St. Peter to the Romans, which faithful tradition has preserved, and which is now professed by the pontiff Damasus, and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the discipline of the apostles, and the doctrine of the gospel, let us believe the sole deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, under an equal majesty, and a pious Trinity. We authorize the followers of this doctrine to assume the title of Catholic Christians, and as we judge that all others are extravagant madmen, we brand them with the infamous name of “heretics,” and declare that their conventicles shall no longer usurp the respectable appellation of churches. Besides the condemnation of divine justice, they must expect to suffer the severe penalties which our authority, guided by heavenly wisdom, shall think proper to inflict upon them.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 517.10

    This law was issued in the names of the three emperors, Gratian, Valentinian II, and Theodosius. “Thus the religion of the whole Roman world was enacted by two feeble boys and a rude Spanish soldier.” (Milman.)PTUK August 19, 1897, page 517.11

    In Constantinople the Catholics were so few that at the accession of Theodosius they had no regular place of meeting, nor had they any pastor. No sooner was the new emperor proclaimed, however, than they called to their aid Gregory, bishop and native of Nazianzum, and hence called Gregory Nazianzen. A room in a private house was fitted up as the place of meeting, and Gregory began his ministry in the imperial city. The quarrel between the religious parties again broke out into open riot. A great crowd, led on by monks and women, with clubs, stones, and firebrands, attacked the meeting-place of the Catholics, broke down the doors, and ravaged the place inside and outside. Blood was shed, lives were lost, and Gregory was accused before the magistrate; but upon the strength of the imperial edict establish- ing the Catholic religion, he secured his acquittal.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 517.12


    AND now the contentions began among the Catholics themselves. The occasion of it was this: As soon as Constantine had become sole emperor by the murder of Licinius, he proceeded to complete the organization of the government of the empire which had been planned, and in a manner begun, by Diocletian. He divided the empire into prefectures, dioceses, and provinces. Of the provinces there were one hundred and sixteen; of the dioceses, thirteen; of the prefectures, four.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 518.1

    The heads of the prefectures were entitled prefects. The heads of the dioceses were entitled vicars, or vice-perfects. The heads of the provinces were designated by different titles, of which the term “governor” will be sufficiently exact.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 518.2

    The governors were subject to the jurisdiction of the vicars, or vice-prefects; the vicars, or vice-prefects, were subject to the jurisdiction of the prefects; and the prefects were subject to the immediate jurisdiction of the emperor himself.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 518.3

    Now when the church and State became one, the organization of the church was made to conform as precisely as possible to that of the empire. In fact, so far as the provinces and the dioceses, the organization of the church was identical with that of the empire. There was a gradation in the order and dignity of the bishoprics according to the political divisions thus formed.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 518.4

    The dignity of the chief bishop in a province or diocese was regulated by the chief city. The bishop of the chief city in a province was the principal bishop of that province, and all the other bishops in the province were subject to his jurisdiction; to him pertained the ordination to vacant bishoprics and all other matters. The bishop of the principal city in the diocese was chief bishop of that diocese, and all other bishops within said diocese were subject to his jurisdiction.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 518.5

    The chief bishop of the province was called “Metropolitan,” from the metropolis or chief city, or “primate” from primus, first. The chief bishop of a diocese was called “exarch.” Above these were four bishops corresponding to the four prefects, and were called “patriarchs,” yet these were not apportioned according to the lines of the prefectures, but were bishops of the four chief cities of the empire,—Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, and Constantinople.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 518.6

    This was the general plan of the organization of the church, though through the mutual ambitions and jealousies of the whole hierarchy there were many exceptions; and as time went on, titles and jurisdictions overran the limits defined in this general plan.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 518.7


    The bishopric of Alexandria had always been held as second only to that of Rome in dignity, since Alexandria was the second city of the empire. Constantinople was now an imperial city, and its bishopric was fast assuming an importance which rivaled that of Alexandria for second place. To this the archbishop of Alexandria did not propose to assent. That Peter, bishop of Alexandria, whom the edict of Theodosius had advertised and endorsed as a man of apostolic holiness, asserted his episcopal jurisdiction over Constantinople. He sent up seven Alexandrians, who ordained a certain Maximus to be bishop of Constantinople. A tumult was raised, and Maximus was driven out by the party of Gregory. He fled to Theodosius, but his claim was rejected by the emperor also.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 518.8

    Theodosius soon came to Constantinople, and immediately on his arrival, summoned to his palace Damophilus, the Arian bishop of the city, and commanded him to subscribe to the Nicene Creed, or else surrender to the Catholics the episcopal palace, the cathedral, and all the churches of the city, which amounted to fully a hundred. Damophilus refused, and November 24, A.D. 380, an edict was issued expelling all the Arians from all their houses of worship, and forfeiting the same to the Catholics, who in fact were barely able to fill the single house of worship which they already owned.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 518.9

    Damophilus was exiled, and Gregory, accompanied by the emperor and surrounded by armed troops, was conducted to the cathedral, which was already occupied by a body of imperial guards, where he was regularly installed in the office of bishop of Constantinople. “He beheld the innumerable multitude of either sex and of every age, who crowded the streets, the windows, and the roofs of the houses; he heard the tumultuous voice of rage, grief, astonishment, and despair; and Gregory fairly confesses that on the memorable day of his installation, the capital of the East wore the appearance of a city taken by storm, in the hands of a barbarian conqueror.” (Gibbon.)PTUK August 19, 1897, page 518.10

    At the beginning of the year 381, Theodosius issued an edict expelling from all the churches within his dominions, all the bishops and other ecclesiastics who should refuse to subscribe to the creed of Nice. By a commissioned officer with a military force, the edict was executed in all the provinces of the East. Having thus established his religion throughout the empire, the next thing to do was to have a general council endorse his action, compose the disputes which disturbed the Catholic party itself, and again “settle” the faith of the Catholic Church. To this end a general council was called to meet at Constantinople this same year, A.D. 381.PTUK August 19, 1897, page 518.11

    A. T. JONES.

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