The Seven Ecumenical Councils. The Third Ecumenical Council.

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Edited with Notes Gathered from the Writings of the Greatest Scholars

by Henry R. Percival, M.A., D.D.

Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.


The Canons of the Two Hundred Holy and Blessed Fathers Who Met at Ephesus. [262]

(Critical Annotations on the text will be found in Dr. Routh's Scriptorum Eccl. Opusc. Tom. II. [Ed. III.] p. 85.)

The holy and ecumenical Synod, gathered together in Ephesus by the decree of our most religious Emperors, to the bishops, presbyters, deacons, and all the people in every province and city:

When we had assembled, according to the religious decree [of the Emperors], in the Metropolis of Ephesus, certain persons, a little more than thirty in number, withdrew from amongst us, having for the leader of their schism John, Bishop of Antioch. Their names are as follows: first, the said John of Antioch in Syria, John of Damascus, Alexander of Apamea, Alexander of Hierapolis, Himerius of Nicomedia, Fritilas of Heraclea, Helladius of Tarsus, Maximin of Anazarbus, Theodore of Marcianopolis, Peter of Trajanopolis, Paul of Emissa, Polychronius of Heracleopolis, Euthyrius of Tyana, Meletius of Neocæsarea, Theodoret of Cyrus, Apringius of Chalcedon, Macarius of Laodicea Magna, Zosys of Esbus, Sallust of Corycus in Cilicia, Hesychius of Castabala in Cilicia, Valentine of Mutloblaca, Eustathius of Parnassus, Philip of Theodosia, and Daniel, and Dexianus, and Julian, and Cyril, and Olympius, and Diogenes, Polius, Theophanes of Philadelphia, Trajan of Augusta, Aurelius of Irenopolis, Mysæus of Aradus, Helladius of Ptolemais. These men, having no privilege of ecclesiastical communion on the ground of a priestly authority, by which they could injure or benefit any persons; since some of them had already been deposed; and since from their refusing to join in our decree against Nestorius, it was manifestly evident to all men that they were all promoting the opinions of Nestorius and Celestius; the Holy Synod, by one common decree, deposed them from all ecclesiastical communion, and deprived them of all their priestly power by which they might injure or profit any persons.

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[262] This is the caption in most mss., but in the Cod. Seguierianus it is quite different. Vide Labbe, Conc., III., 802.

Canon I.

Whereas it is needful that they who were detained from the holy Synod and remained in their own district or city, for any reason, ecclesiastical or personal, should not be ignorant of the matters which were thereby decreed; we, therefore, notify your holiness and charity that if any Metropolitan of a Province, forsaking the holy and Ecumenical Synod, has joined the assembly of the apostates, or shall join the same hereafter; or, if he has adopted, or shall hereafter adopt, the doctrines of Celestius, he has no power in any way to do anything in opposition to the bishops of the province, since he is already cast forth from all ecclesiastical communion and made incapable of exercising his ministry; but he shall himself be subject in all things to those very bishops of the province and to the neighbouring orthodox metropolitans, and shall be degraded from his episcopal rank.


Ancient Epitome of Canon I.

If a metropolitan, having deserted his synod, adheres or shall adhere to Celestine, let him be cast out.

Nicholas Hydruntinus.

Scholion concerning Celestine and Celestius. Whose finds at the end of the fourth canon of the Holy Synod of Ephesus [and the same is true of this first canon. Ed.] "Clerics who shall have consented to Celestine or Nestorius, should be deposed," let him not read "Celestine" with an "n," but "Celestius" without the "n." For Celestine was the holy and orthodox Pope of Rome, Celestius was the heretic.

It is perfectly certain that this was no accident on the part of Aristenus, for in his commentary on Canon V., he expressly says that "Celestine was Bishop of Rome" and goes on to affirm that, "The Holy Synod decreed that they who embraced the opinions of Nestorius and Celestine," etc. What perhaps is equally astonishing is that Nicholas Hydruntinus, while correcting the name, still is of opinion that Celestius was a pope of Rome and begins his scholion with the title, peri Kelestinou kai Kelestiou Papon Romes. Beveridge well points out that this confusion is all the more remarkable as in the Kalendar of the Saints observed at that very time by the Greeks, on the eighth day of April was kept the memory of "Celestine, Pope of Rome, as a Saint and Champion against the Nestorian heretics." (Bev., Annot, in C. v.).

Simeon the Logothete adds to this epitome the words, kai to exes adioiketos which are necessary to make the sense complete.


Excursus on the Conciliabulum of John of Antioch.

The assembly referred to in this canon is one held by John of Antioch who had delayed his coming so as to hamper the meeting of the synod. John was a friend of Nestorius and made many fruitless attempts to induce him to accept the orthodox faith. It will be noticed that the conciliabulum was absolutely silent with respect to Nestorius and his doctrine and contented itself with attacking St. Cyril and the orthodox Memnon, the bishop of Ephesus. St. Cyril and his friends did indeed accuse the Antiochenes of being adherents of Nestorius, and in a negative way they certainly were so, and were in open opposition to the defenders of the orthodox faith; but, as Tillemont [263] has well pointed out, they did not theologically agree with the heresy of Nestorius, gladly accepted the orthodox watchword "Mother of God," and subsequently agreed to his deposition.

The first session of the Council of Ephesus had already taken place on June 22, and it was only on June 26th or 27th, that John of Antioch arrived at last at Ephesus.

(Hefele, History of the Councils, Vol. III., p. 55 et seqq.)

The Synod immediately sent a deputation to meet him, consisting of several bishops and clerics, to show him proper respect, and at the same time to make him acquainted with the deposition of Nestorius, so that he might not be drawn into any intercourse with him. The soldiers who surrounded Archbishop John prevented the deputation from speaking to him in the street; consequently they accompanied him to his abode, but were compelled to wait here for several hours, exposed to the insults of the soldiers, and at last, when they had discharged their commission, were driven home, ill-treated and beaten. Count Irenæus, the friend of Nestorius, had suggested this treatment, and approved of it. The envoys immediately informed the Synod of what had happened, and showed the wounds which they had received, which called forth great indignation against John of Antioch. According to the representation of Memnon, excommunication was for this reason pronounced against him; but we shall see further on that this did not take place until afterwards, and it is clear that Memnon, in his brief narrative, has passed over an intermediate portion--the threefold invitation of John. In the meantime, Candidian had gone still further in his opposition to the members of the synod, causing them to be annoyed and insulted by his soldiers, and even cutting off their supply of food, while he provided Nestorius with a regular body-guard of armed peasants. John of Antioch, immediately after his arrival, while still dusty from the journey, and at the time when he was allowing the envoys of the synod to wait, held at his town residence a Conciliabulum with his adherents, at which, first of all Count Candidian related how Cyril and his friends, in spite of all warnings, and in opposition to the imperial decrees, had held a session five days before, had contested his (the count's) right to be present, had dismissed the bishops sent by Nestorius, and had paid no attention to the letters of others. Before he proceeded further, John of Antioch requested that the Emperor's edict of convocation should be read, whereupon Candidian went on with his account of what had taken place, and in answer to a fresh question of John's declared that Nestorius had been condemned unheard. John found this quite in keeping with the disposition of the synod since, instead of receiving him and his companions in a friendly manner, they had rushed upon them tumultuously (it was thus that he described what had happened). But the holy Synod, which was now assembled, would decide what was proper with respect to them. And this synod, of which John speaks in such grandiloquent terms, numbered only forty-three members, including himself, while on the other side there were more than two hundred.

John then proposed the question [as to] what was to be decided respecting Cyril and his adherents; and several who were not particularly pronounced Nestorian bishops came forward to relate how Cyril and Memnon of Ephesus had, from the beginning, maltreated the Nestorians, had allowed them no church, and even on the festival of Pentecost had permitted them to hold no service. Besides Memnon had sent his clerics into the residences of the bishops, and had ordered them with threats to take part in his council. And in this way he and Cyril had confused everything, so that their own heresies might not be examined. Heresies, such as the Arian, the Apollinarian, and the Eunomian, were certainly contained in the last letter of Cyril [to Nestorius, along with the anathematisms]. It was therefore John's duty to see to it that the heads of these heresies (Cyril and Memnon) should be suitably punished for such grave offences, and that the bishops who had been misguided by them should be subjected to ecclesiastical penalties.

To these impudent and false accusations John replied with hypocritical meekness "that he had certainly wished that he should not be compelled to exclude from the Church any one who had been received into the sacred priesthood, but diseased members must certainly be cut off in order to save the whole body; and for this reason Cyril and Memnon deserved to be deposed, because they had given occasion to disorders, and had acted in opposition to the commands of the Emperors, and besides, were in the chapters mentioned [the anathematisms] guilty of heresy. All who had been misled by them were to be excommunicated until they confessed their error, anathematized the heretical propositions of Cyril, adhered strictly to the creed of Nice, without any foreign addition, and joined the synod of John."

The assembly approved of this proposal, and John then announced the sentence in the following manner:--

"The holy Synod, assembled in Ephesus, by the grace of God and the command of the pious Emperors, declares: We should indeed have wished to be able to hold a Synod in peace, but because you held a separate assembly from a heretical, insolent, and obstinate disposition, although we were already in the neighbourhood, and have filled both the city and the holy Synod with confusion, in order to prevent the examination of your Apollinarian, Arian, and Eunomian heresies, and have not waited for the arrival of the holy bishops of all regions, and have also disregarded the warnings and admonitions of Candidian, therefore shall you, Cyril of Alexandria, and you Memnon of this place, know that you are deposed and dismissed from all sacerdotal functions, as the originators of the whole disorder, etc. You others, who gave your consent, are excommunicated, until you acknowledge your fault and reform, accept anew the Nicene faith [as if they had surrendered it!] without foreign addition, anathematize the heretical propositions of Cyril, and in all things comply with the command of the Emperors, who require a peaceful and more accurate consideration of the dogma."

This decree was subscribed by all the forty-three members of the Conciliabulum:

The Conciliabulum then, in very one-sided letters informed the Emperor, the imperial ladies (the wife and sister of the Emperor Theodosius II.), the clergy, the senate, and the people of Constantinople, of all that had taken place, and a little later once more required the members of the genuine Synod, in writing, no longer to delay the time for repentance and conversion, and to separate themselves from Cyril and Memnon, etc., otherwise they would very soon be forced to lament their own folly.

On Saturday evening the Conciliabulum asked Count Candidian to take care that neither Cyril nor Memnon, nor any one of their (excommunicated) adherents should hold divine service on Sunday. Candidian now wished that no member of either synodal party should officiate, but only the ordinary clergy of the city; but Memnon declared that he would in no way submit to John and his synod, and Cyril and his adherents held divine service. All the efforts of John to appoint by force another bishop of Ephesus in the place of Memnon were frustrated by the opposition of the orthodox inhabitants.


[263] Tillemont, Mémoires, Tom. xiv.

Canon II.

If any provincial bishops were not present at the holy Synod and have joined or attempted to join the apostacy; or if, after subscribing the deposition of Nestorius, they went back into the assembly of apostates; these men, according to the decree of the holy Synod, are to be deposed from the priesthood and degraded from their rank.


Ancient Epitome of Canon II.

If any bishop assents to or favours Nestorius, let him be discharged.

It was not unnatural that when it was seen that the Imperial authority was in favour of the Antiochene party that some of the clergy should have been weak enough to vacillate in their course, the more so as the Conciliabulum was not either avowedly, nor really, a Nestorian assembly, but one made up of those not sympathizing with Nestorius's heresy, yet friendly to the heretic himself, and disapproving of what they looked upon as the uncalled-for harshness and precipitancy of Cyril's course.

Canon III.

If any of the city or country clergy have been inhibited by Nestorius or his followers from the exercise of the priesthood, on account of their orthodoxy, we have declared it just that these should be restored to their proper rank. And in general we forbid all the clergy who adhere to the Orthodox and Ecumenical Synod in any way to submit to the bishops who have already apostatized or shall hereafter apostatize.


Ancient Epitome of Canon III.

To whom Nestorius forbids the priesthood, he is most worthy; but whom he approves is profane.

It would seem from this canon that any bishop who had become a member of the Conciliabulum of John, was considered as eo ipso having lost all jurisdiction. Also it would seem that the clergy were to disregard the inhibition of Nestorian prelates or at least these inhibitions were by some one to be removed. This principle, if generally applied, would seem to be somewhat revolutionary.


(Apos. Fath. Ign. Ad Rom. i., Vol. II., Sec. I., p. 191.)

The words choros ("place"), chora ("country"), and chorion ("district"), may be distinguished as implying locality, extension, and limitation, respectively. The last word commonly denotes either "an estate, a farm," or "a fastness, a stronghold," or (as a mathematical term) "an area." Here, as not unfrequently in later writers, it is "a region, a district," but the same fundamental idea is presumed. The relation of choros to chorion is the same as that of arguros, chrusos to argurion, chrusion, the former being the metals themselves, the latter the metals worked up into bullion or coins or plate or trinkets or images, e.g. Macar. Magn. Apocr. iii. 42 (p. 147).

Canon IV.

If any of the clergy should fall away, and publicly or privately presume to maintain the doctrines of Nestorius or Celestius, it is declared just by the holy Synod that these also should be deposed.


Ancient Epitome of Canon IV.

If any of the clergy shall consent to Celestine [264] or Nestorius, let them be deposed.


[264] It should read "Celestius"; see Scholion on Canon I.


Excursus on Pelagianism.

The only point which is material to the main object of this volume is that Pelagius and his fellow heretic Celestius were condemned by the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus for their heresy. On this point there can be no possible doubt. And further than this the Seventh Council by ratifying the Canons of Trullo received the Canons of the African Code which include those of the Carthaginian conciliar condemnations of the Pelagian heresy to which the attention of the reader is particularly drawn. The condemnation of these heretics at Ephesus is said to have been due chiefly to the energy of St. Augustine, assisted very materially by a layman living in Constantinople by the name of Marius Mercator.

Pelagius and his heresy have a sad interest to us as he is said to have been born in Britain. He was a monk and preached at Rome with great applause in the early years of the fifth century. But in his extreme horror of Manichæism and Gnosticism he fell into the opposite extreme; and from the hatred of the doctrine of the inherent evilness of humanity he fell into the error of denying the necessity of grace.

Pelagius's doctrines may be briefly stated thus. Adam's sin injured only himself, so that there is no such thing as original sin. Infants therefore are not born in sin and the children of wrath, but are born innocent, and only need baptism so as to be knit into Christ, not "for the remission of sins" as is declared in the creed. Further he taught that man could live without committing any sin at all. And for this there was no need of grace; indeed grace was not possible, according to his teaching. The only "grace," which he would admit the existence of, was what we may call external grace, e.g. the example of Christ, the teaching of his ministers, and the like. Petavius [265] indeed thinks that he allowed the activity of internal grace to illumine the intellect, but this seems quite doubtful.

Pelagius's writings have come down to us in a more or less--generally the latter--pure form. There are fourteen books on the Epistles of St. Paul, also a letter to Demetrius and his Libellus fidei ad Innocentium. In the writings of St. Augustine are found fragments of Pelagius's writings on free will.

It would be absurd to attempt in the limits possible to this volume to give any, even the most sketchy, treatment of the doctrine involved in the Pelagian controversy: the reader must be referred to the great theologians for this and to aid him I append a bibliographical table on the subject.

St. Augustine.

St. Jerome.

Marius Mercator, Commonitorium super nomine Coelestii.

Vossius, G. J., Histor. de controv. quas Pel. ejusque reliquiæ moverunt.

Noris. Historia Pelagiana.

Garnier, J. Dissertat. in Pelag. in Opera Mar. Mercator.

Quesnel, Dissert. de conc. Africanis in Pelag. causa celebratis etc.

Fuchs, G. D., Bibliothek der Kirchenversammlungen.

Horn, De sentent. Pat. de peccato orig.

Habert, P. L., Theologiæ Græcorum Patrum vindicatæ circa univers. materiam gratiæ.

Petavius, De Pelag. et Semi-Pelag. [266]

The English works on the subject are so well known to the English reader as to need no mention.

As it is impossible to treat the theological question here, so too is it impossible to treat the historical question. However I may remind the reader that Nestorius and his heresy were defended by Theodore of Mopsuestia, and that he and Celestius were declared by Pope Zosimus to be innocent in the year 417, a decision which was entirely disregarded by the rest of the world, a Carthaginian Synod subsequently anathematizing him. Finally the Pope retracted his former decision, and in 418 anathematized him and his fellow, and gave notice of this in his "epistola tractoria" to the bishops. Eighteen Italian bishops, who had followed the Pope in his former decision of a twelve month before, refused to change their minds at his bidding now, and were accordingly deposed, among them Julian of Eclanum. After this Pelagius and Celestius found a fitting harbour of refuge with Nestorius of Constantinople, and so all three were condemned together by the council of Ephesus, he that denied the incarnation of the Word, and they twain that denied the necessity of that incarnation and of the grace purchased thereby.


[265] Petav. De Pelag. et Semi-Pelag. Hær., Cap. iv. [266] I am chiefly indebted to Michaud for this list.

Canon V.

If any have been condemned for evil practices by the holy Synod, or by their own bishops; and if, with his usual lack of discrimination, Nestorius (or his followers) has attempted, or shall hereafter attempt, uncanonically to restore such persons to communion and to their former rank, we have declared that they shall not be profited thereby, but shall remain deposed nevertheless.


Ancient Epitome of Canon V.

If one condemned by his bishop is received by Nestorius it shall profit him nothing.

This canon is interesting as shewing that thus early in the history of the Church, it was not unusual for those disciplined for their faults in one communion to go to another and there be welcomed and restored, to the overthrow of discipline and to the lowering of the moral sense of the people to whom they minister.

Canon VI.

Likewise, if any should in any way attempt to set aside the orders in each case made by the holy Synod at Ephesus, the holy Synod decrees that, if they be bishops or clergymen, they shall absolutely forfeit their office; and, if laymen, that they shall be excommunicated.


Ancient Epitome of Canon VI.

If any layman shall resist the Synod, let him be excommunicated. But if it be a cleric let him be discharged.

How courageous the passing of this canon was can only be justly appreciated by those who are familiar with the weight of the imperial authority at that day in ecclesiastical matters and who will remember that at the very time this canon was passed it was extremely difficult to say whether the Emperor would support Cyril's or John's synod.

Observation of the Roman Editors (Ed: 1608).

In the Vatican books and in some others only these six canons are found; but in certain texts there is added, under the name of Canon VII., the definition of the same holy Synod put forth after the Presbyter Charisius had stated his case, and for Canon VIII. another decree of the synod concerning the bishops of Cyprus.

Observation of Philip Labbe, S.J.P.

In the Collections of John Zonaras and of Theodore Balsamon, also in the "Code of the Universal Church" which has John Tilius, Bishop of St. Brieuc and Christopher Justellus for its editors, are found eight canons of the Ephesine council, to wit the six which are appended to the foregoing epistle and two others: but it is altogether a subject of wonder that in the Codex of Canons, made for the Roman Church by Dionysius Exiguus, none of these canons are found at all. I suppose that the reason of this is that the Latins saw that they were not decrees affecting the Universal Church, but that the Canons set forth by the Ephesine fathers dealt merely with the peculiar and private matters of Nestorius and of his followers.

The Decree of the same holy Synod, pronounced after hearing the Exposition [of the Faith] by the Three hundred and eighteen holy and blessed Fathers in the city of Nice, and the impious formula composed by Theodore of Mopsuestia, and given to the same holy Synod at Ephesus by the Presbyter Charisius, of Philadelphia:

Canon VII.

When these things had been read, the holy Synod decreed that it is unlawful for any man to bring forward, or to write, or to compose a different (heteran) Faith as a rival to that established by the holy Fathers assembled with the Holy Ghost in Nicæa.

But those who shall dare to compose a different faith, or to introduce or offer it to persons desiring to turn to the acknowledgment of the truth, whether from Heathenism or from Judaism, or from any heresy whatsoever, shall be deposed, if they be bishops or clergymen; bishops from the episcopate and clergymen from the clergy; and if they be laymen, they shall be anathematized.

And in like manner, if any, whether bishops, clergymen, or laymen, should be discovered to hold or teach the doctrines contained in the Exposition introduced by the Presbyter Charisius concerning the Incarnation of the Only-Begotten Son of God, or the abominable and profane doctrines of Nestorius, which are subjoined, they shall be subjected to the sentence of this holy and ecumenical Synod. So that, if it be a bishop, he shall be removed from his bishopric and degraded; if it be a clergyman, he shall likewise be stricken from the clergy; and if it be a layman, he shall be anathematized, as has been afore said.


Ancient Epitome of Canon VII.

Any bishop who sets forth a faith other than that of Nice shall be an alien from the Church: if a layman do so let him be cast out.

The heading is that found in the ordinary Greek texts. The canon itself is found verbatim in the Acts--Actio VI. (Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III., col. 689.)


"When these things had been read." Balsamon here makes an egregious mistake, for it was not after the reading of the decree of this council and of the Nicene Creed, that this canon was set forth, as Balsamon affirms; but after the reading of the libellum of Charisius, and of the Nestorian Creed, as is abundantly evident from what we read in the Acts of the council. From this it is clear that Balsamon had never seen the Acts of this council, or at least had never carefully studied them, else he could not have written such a comment.

[With regard to Charisius, Balsamon] makes another mistake. For not only did this presbyter not follow the evil opinions of Nestorius, but as a matter of fact exhibited to the synod his libellum written against Nestorius; in which so far from asserting that Nestorius was orthodox, he distinctly calls him kakodoxos.

Photius has included this canon in his Nomocanons, Title I., cap. j.


Excursus on the Words pistin heperan

It has been held by some and was urged by the Greeks at the Council of Florence, [267] and often before and since, as well as by Pope Leo III., in answer to the ambassadors of Charlemagne, that the prohibition of the Council of Ephesus to make, hold, or teach any other faith than that of Nice forbade anyone, even a subsequent General Council, to add anything to the creed. This interpretation seems to be shewn to be incorrect from the following circumstances.

1. That the prohibition was passed by the Council immediately after it had heard Charisius read his creed, which it had approved, and on the strength of which it had received its author, and after the reading of a Nestorian creed which it condemned. From this it seems clear that heteran must mean "different," "contradictory," and not "another" in the sense of mere explanatory additions to the already existing creed.

(E. B. Pusey, On the Clause "and the Son," p. 81.)

St. Cyril ought to understand the canon, which he probably himself framed, as presiding over the Council of Ephesus, as Archbishop of Alexandria and representative of Celestine, Bishop of Rome. His signature immediately succeeds the Canon. We can hardly think that we understand it better than he who probably framed it, nay who presided over the Council which passed it. He, however, explained that what was not against the Creed was not beside it. The Orientals had proposed to him, as terms of communion, that he should "do away with all he had written in epistles, tomes, or books, and agree with that only faith which had been defined by our holy Fathers at Nice." But, St. Cyril wrote back: "We all follow that exposition of faith which was defined by the holy fathers in the city of Nice, sapping absolutely nothing of the things contained in it. For they are all right and unexceptionable; and anything curious, after it, is not safe. But what I have rightly written against the blasphemies of Nestorius no words will persuade me to say that they were not done well:" and against the imputation that he "had received an exposition of faith or new Creed, as dishonouring that old and venerable Creed," he says:

"Neither have we demanded of any an exposition of faith, nor have we received one newly framed by others. For Divine Scripture suffices us, and the prudence of the holy fathers, and the symbol of faith, framed perfectly as to all right doctrine. But since the most holy Eastern Bishops differed from us as to that of Ephesus and were somehow suspected of being entangled in the meshes of Nestorius, therefore they very wisely made a defence, to free themselves from blame, and eager to satisfy the lovers of the blameless faith that they were minded to have no share in his impiety; and the thing is far from all note of blame. If Nestorius himself, when we all held out to him that he ought to condemn his own dogmas and choose the truth instead thereof, had made a written confession thereon, who would say that he framed for us a new exposition of faith? Why then do they calumniate the assent of the most holy Bishops of Phoenicia, calling it a new setting forth of the Creed, whereas they made it for a good and necessary end, to defend themselves and soothe those who thought that they followed the innovations of Nestorius? For the holy Ecumenical Synod gathered at Ephesus provided, of necessity, that no other exposition of faith besides that which existed, which the most blessed fathers, speaking in the Holy Ghost, defined, should be brought into the Churches of God. But they who at one time, I know not how, differed from it, and were suspected of not being right-minded, following the Apostolic and Evangelic doctrines, how should they free themselves from this ill-report? by silence? or rather by self-defence, and by manifesting the power of the faith which was in them? The divine disciple wrote, `be ready always to give an answer to every one who asketh you an account of the hope which is in you.' But he who willeth to do this, innovates in nothing, nor doth he frame any new exposition of faith, but rather maketh plain to those who ask him, what faith he hath concerning Christ." [268]

2. The fathers of the Council of Chalcedon, by their practice, are authoritative exponents of the Canon of Ephesus. For they renewed the prohibition of the Council of Ephesus to "adduce any other faith," but, in "the faith" which is not to be set aside, they included not only the Creeds of Nice and Constantinople, but the definitions at Ephesus and Chalcedon itself. The statements of the faith were expanded, because fresh contradictions of the faith had emerged. After directing that both Creeds should be read, the Council says, "This wise and saving Symbol of Divine grace would have sufficed to the full knowledge and confirmation of the faith; for it teaches thoroughly the perfect truth of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and presents to those who receive it faithfully the Incarnation of the Lord." Then, having in detail shewn how both heresies were confuted by it, and having set forth the true doctrine, they sum up.

"These things being framed by us with all accuracy and care on every side, the holy and ecumenical Synod defines, that it shall be lawful for no one to produce or compose, or put together, or hold, or teach others another faith, and those who venture, etc." (as in the Council of Ephesus).

The Council of Chalcedon enlarged greatly the terms although not the substance of the faith contained in the Nicene Creed; and that, in view of the heresies, which had since arisen; and yet renewed in terms the prohibition of the Canon of Ephesus and the penalties annexed to its infringement. It shewed, then, in practice, that it did not hold the enlargement of the things proposed as de fide to be prohibited, but only the producing of things contradictory to the faith once delivered to the saints. Its prohibition, moreover, to "hold" another faith shews the more that they meant only to prohibit any contradictory statement of faith. For if they had prohibited any additional statement not being a contradiction of its truth, then (as Cardinal Julian acutely argued in the Council of Florence), any one would fall under its anathema, who held (as all must) anything not expressed in set terms in the Nicene Creed; such as that God is eternal or incomprehensible.

It may not be amiss to remember that the argument that pistin heteran forbids any addition to the Creed or any further definition of the faith, was that urged by the heretics at the Latrocinium, and the orthodox were there condemned on the ground that they had added to the faith and laid themselves under the Anathema of Ephesus. How far this interpretation was from being that of the Council of Chalcedon is evinced by the fact that it immediately declared that St. Flavian and Bishop Eusebius had been unjustly deposed, and proceeded to depose those who had deposed them. After stating these facts Dr. Pusey remarks, "Protestants may reject consistently the authority of all councils; but on what grounds any who accept their authority can insist on their own private interpretation of a canon of one council against the authority of another General Council which rejected that interpretation, I see not." [269]

4. The Fifth Ecumenical Council, the Second of Constantinople, received both the creeds of Nice and that of Constantinople, as well of the definitions of Ephesus and Chalcedon, and yet at the end of the fourth Session we find in the acts that the fathers cried out, with respect to the creed of Theodore of Mopsuestia: "This creed Satan composed. Anathema to him that composed this creed! The First Council of Ephesus anathematized this creed and its author. We know only one symbol of faith, that which the holy fathers of Nice set forth and handed down. This also the three holy Synods handed down. Into this we were baptized, and into this we baptize, etc., etc." [270] From this it is clearer than day that these fathers looked upon the creed of Constantinople, with its additions, to be yet the same creed as that of Nice.

(Le Quien, Diss. Dam., n. 37.)

In the Sixth Council also, no one objecting, Peter of Nicomedia, Theodore, and other bishops, clerks, and monks, who had embraced the Monothelite heresy, openly recited a Creed longer and fuller than the Nicene.

In the Seventh Synod also, another was read written by Theodore of Jerusalem: and again, Basil of Ancyra, and the other Bishops, who had embraced the errors of the Iconoclasts, again offered another, although the Canon of Ephesus pronounced, that "it should not be lawful to offer to heretics, who wished to be converted to the Church, any other creed than the Nicene." In this same Synod, was read another profession of faith, which Tarasius had sent to the Patriarchs of the Eastern sees. It contains the Nicene, or Constantinopolitan Creed, variously enlarged and interpolated. But of the Holy Spirit it has specifically this: "And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, which proceedeth from the Father through the Son." But since the Greeks at the Council of Florence said, that these were individual, not common, formulæ of faith, here are others, which are plainly common and solemn, which are contained in their own rituals. They do not baptize a Hebrew or a Jew, until he have pronounced a profession of Christian Faith, altogether different from the Creed of Constantinople, as may be seen in the Euchologion. In the consecration of a Bishop, the Bishop elect is first bidden to recite the Creed of Constantinople; and then, as if this did not suffice, a second and a third are demanded of him; of which the last contains that aforesaid symbol, intermingled with various declarations. Nay, Photius himself is pointed out to be the author of this interpolated symbol. [271]I pass by other formulæ, which the Greeks have framed for those who return to the Church from divers heresies or sects, although the terms of the Canon of Ephesus are, that "it is unlawful to propose any other faith to those who wish to be converted to the Church, from heathenism, or Judaism, or any heresy whatever."

The Judgment of the same Holy Synod, pronounced on the petition presented to it by the Bishops of Cyprus:


[267] Hefele, Conciliengesch. XLVIII., 810. [268] Cyril. Alex., Ep. xxxv., Ad Acac. Melit. [269] E. B. Pusey, Lib. cit., p. 86. [270] Labbe and Cossart, Tom. v., col. 455. [271] In the Codex Cæsareus, mentioned by Lambecius, Lib. vii., cod 77.

Canon VIII.

Our brother bishop Rheginus, the beloved of God, and his fellow beloved of God bishops, Zeno and Evagrius, of the Province of Cyprus, have reported to us an innovation which has been introduced contrary to the ecclesiastical constitutions and the Canons of the Holy Apostles, and which touches the liberties of all. Wherefore, since injuries affecting all require the more attention, as they cause the greater damage, and particularly when they are transgressions of an ancient custom; and since those excellent men, who have petitioned the Synod, have told us in writing and by word of mouth that the Bishop of Antioch has in this way held ordinations in Cyprus; therefore the Rulers of the holy churches in Cyprus shall enjoy, without dispute or injury, according to the Canons of the blessed Fathers and ancient custom, the right of performing for themselves the ordination of their excellent Bishops. The same rule shall be observed in the other dioceses and provinces everywhere, so that none of the God beloved Bishops shall assume control of any province which has not heretofore, from the very beginning, been under his own hand or that of his predecessors. But if any one has violently taken and subjected [a Province], he shall give it up; lest the Canons of the Fathers be transgressed; or the vanities of worldly honour be brought in under pretext of sacred office; or we lose, without knowing it, little by little, the liberty which Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Deliverer of all men, hath given us by his own Blood.

Wherefore, this holy and ecumenical Synod has decreed that in every province the rights which heretofore, from the beginning, have belonged to it, shall be preserved to it, according to the old prevailing custom, unchanged and uninjured: every Metropolitan having permission to take, for his own security, a copy of these acts. And if any one shall bring forward a rule contrary to what is here determined, this holy and ecumenical Synod unanimously decrees that it shall be of no effect.


Ancient Epitome of Canon VIII.

Let the rights of each province be preserved pure and inviolate. No attempt to introduce any form contrary to these shall be of any avail.

The caption is the one given in the ordinary Greek texts. The canon is found word for word in the VII Session of the Council, with the heading, "A decree of the same holy Synod." (Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III., col. 802.)

I have followed in reading "the Canons of the Holy Apostles" the reading in Balsamon and Zonaras, and that of Elias Ehingerus Augustanus (so says Beveridge) in his edition of the Greek canons, a.d. 1614. But the Bodleian ms., and John of Antioch in his collection of the Canons, and the Codex edited by Christopher Justellus read "of the Holy Fathers" instead of "of the Holy Apostles." Beveridge is of opinion that this is the truer reading, for while no doubt the Ephesine Fathers had in mind the Apostolic Canons, yet they seem to have more particularly referred in this place to the canons of Nice. And this seems to be intimated in the libellum of the Bishops of Cyprus, who gave rise to this very decree, in which the condemned practice is said to be "contrary to the Apostolic Canons and to the definitions of the most holy Council of Nice."

This canon Photius does not recognize, for in the Preface to his Nomocanon he distinctly writes that there were but seven canons adopted by the Ephesine Synod, and in the first chapter of the first title he cites the preceding canon as the seventh, that is the last. John of Antioch likewise says that there are but seven canons of Ephesus, but reckons this present canon as the seventh, from which Beveridge concludes that he rejects the Canon concerning Charisius (vii).


Concerning the present canon, of rather decree, the Bishop of Antioch, who had given occasion to the six former canons, gave also occasion for the enacting of this, by arrogating to himself the right of ordaining in the Island of Cyprus, in violation of former usage. After the bishops of that island, who are mentioned in the canon, had presented their statements (libellum) to the Synod, the present decree was set forth, in which warning was given that no innovation should be tolerated in Ecclesiastical administration, whether in Cyprus or elsewhere; but that in all Dioceses and Provinces their ancient rights and privileges should be preserved.


The Letter of the Same Holy Synod of Ephesus, to the Sacred Synod in Pamphylia Concerning Eustathius Who Had Been Their Metropolitan.

(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tome III., col. 806.)

Forasmuch as the divinely inspired Scripture says, "Do all things with advice," [272] it is especially their duty who have had the priestly ministry allotted to them to examine with all diligence whatever matters are to be transacted. For to those who will so spend their lives, it comes to pass both that they are established in [the enjoyment of] an honest hope concerning what belongs to them, and that they are borne along, as by a favouring breeze, in things that they desire: so that, in truth, the saying [of the Scripture] has much reason [to commend it]. But there are times when bitter and intolerable grief swoops down upon the mind, and has the effect of cruelly beclouding it, so as to carry it away from the pursuit of what is needful, and persuade it to consider that to be of service which is in its [very] nature mischievous. Something of this kind we have seen endured by that most excellent and most religious Bishop Eustathius. For it is in evidence that he has been ordained canonically; but having been much disturbed, as he declares, by certain parties, and having entered upon circumstances he had not foreseen, therefore, though fully able to repel the slanders of his persecutors, he nevertheless, through an extraordinary inexperience of affairs, declined to battle with the difficulties which beset him, and in some way that we know not set forth an act of resignation. Yet it behooved him, when he had been once entrusted with the priestly care, to cling to it with spiritual energy, and, as it were, to strip himself to strive against the troubles and gladly to endure the sweat for which he had bargained. But inasmuch as he proved himself to be deficient in practical capacity, having met with this misfortune rather from inexperience than from cowardice and sloth, your holiness has of necessity ordained our most excellent and most religious brother and fellow-bishop, Theodore, as the overseer of the Church; for it was not reasonable that it should remain in widowhood, and that the Saviour's sheep should pass their time without a shepherd. But when he came to us weeping, not contending with the aforenamed most religious Bishop Theodore for his See or Church, but in the meantime seeking only for his rank and title as a bishop, we all suffered with the old man in his grief, and considering his weeping as our own, we hastened to discover whether the aforenamed [Eustathius] had been subjected to a legal deposition, or whether, forsooth, he had been convicted on any of the absurd charges alleged by certain parties who had poured forth idle gossip against his reputation. And indeed we learned that nothing of such a kind had taken place, but rather that his resignation had been counted against the said Eustathius instead of a [regular] indictment. Wherefore, we did by no means blame your holiness for being compelled to ordain into his place the aforenamed most excellent Bishop Theodore. But forasmuch as it was not seemly to contend much against the unpractical character of the man, while it was rather necessary to have pity on the elder who, at so advanced an age, was now so far away from the city which had given him birth, and from the dwelling-places of his fathers, we have judicially pronounced and decreed without any opposition, that he shall have both the name, and the rank, and the communion of the episcopate. On this condition, however, only, that he shall not ordain, and that he shall not take and minister to a Church of his own individual authority; but that [he shall do so only] if taken as an assistant, or when appointed, if it should so chance, by a brother and fellow-bishop, in accordance with the ordinance and the love which is in Christ. If, however, ye shall determine anything more favourable towards him, either now or hereafter, this also will be pleasing to the Holy Synod.


[272] Ecclesiasticus, xxxii., 19--"Do nothing without advice" (sine consilio nihil facias): The deutero-canonical book of Ecclesiasticus is here by an Ecumenical Council styled "divinely-inspired Scripture."


The Letter of the Synod to Pope Celestine.

(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III., col. 659; also in Migne, Pat. Lat. [reprinted from Galland., Vett. Patr., Tom. ix.], Tom. L., Ep. xx., col. 511.)

The relation which the holy council of Ephesus sent to Pope Celestine; in which are explained what things were done in that Holy and Great Council.

The Holy Synod which by the grace of God was assembled at Ephesus the Metropolis to the most holy and our fellow-minister Coelestine, health in the Lord.

The zeal of your holiness for piety, and your care for the right faith, so grateful and highly pleasing to God the Saviour of us all, are worthy of all admiration. For it is your custom in such great matters to make trial of all things, and the confirmation of the Churches you have made your own care. But since it is right that all things which have taken place should be brought to the knowledge of your holiness, we are writing of necessity [to inform you] that, by the will of Christ the Saviour of us all, and in accordance with the orders of the most pious and Christ-loving Emperors, we assembled together in the Metropolis of the Ephesians from many and far scattered regions, being in all over two hundred bishops. Then, in accordance with the decrees of the Christ-loving Emperors by whom we were assembled, we fixed the date of the meeting of the holy Synod as the Feast of the Holy Pentecost, all agreeing thereto, especially as it was contained in the letters of the Emperors that if anyone did not arrive at the appointed time, he was absent with no good conscience, and was inexcusable both before God and man. The most reverend John bishop of Antioch stopped behind; not in singleness of heart, nor because the length of the journey made the impediment, but hiding in his mind his plan and his thought (which was so displeasing to God,) [a plan and thought] which he made clear when not long afterwards he arrived at Ephesus.

Therefore we put off the assembling [of the council] after the appointed day of the Holy Pentecost for sixteen whole days; in the meanwhile many of the bishops and clerics were overtaken with illness, and much burdened by the expense, and some even died. A great injury was thus being done to the great Synod, as your holiness easily perceives. For he used perversely such long delay that many from much greater distances arrived before him.

Nevertheless after sixteen days had passed, certain of the bishops who were with him, to wit, two Metropolitans, the one Alexander of Apamea, and the other Alexander of Hierapolis, arrived before him. And when we complained of the tardy coming of the most reverend bishop John, not once, but often, we were told, "He gave us command to announce to your reverence, that if anything should happen to delay him, not to put off the Synod, but to do what was right." After having received this message,--and as it was manifest, as well from his delay as from the announcements just made to us, that he refused to attend the Council, whether out of friendship to Nestorius, or because he had been a cleric of a church under his sway, or out of regard to petitions made by some in his favour,--the Holy Council sat in the great church of Ephesus, which bears the name of Mary.

But when all with zeal had come together, Nestorius alone was found missing from the council, thereupon the holy Synod sent him admonition in accordance with the canons by bishops, a first, second, and third time. But he surrounding his house with soldiers, set himself up against the ecclesiastical laws, neither did he shew himself, nor give any satisfaction for his iniquitous blasphemies.

After this the letters were read which were written to him by the most holy and most reverend bishop of the Church of Alexandria, Cyril, which the Holy Synod approved as being orthodox and without fault (orthos kai aleptos echein), and in no point out of agreement either with the divinely inspired Scriptures, or with the faith handed down and set forth in the great synod of holy Fathers, which assembled sometime ago at Nice in Bithynia, as your holiness also rightly having examined this has given witness.

On the other hand there was read the letter of Nestorius, which was written to the already mentioned most holy and reverend brother of ours and fellow-minister, Cyril, and the Holy Synod was of opinion that those things which were taught in it were wholly alien from the Apostolic and Evangelical faith, sick with many and strange blasphemies.

His most impious expositions were likewise read, and also the letter written to him by your holiness, in which he was properly condemned as one who had written blasphemy and had inserted irreligious views (phonas) in his private exegesis, and after this a just sentence of deposition was pronounced against him; especially is this sentence just, because he is so far removed from being penitent, or from a confession of the matters in which he blasphemed, while yet he had the Church of Constantinople, that even in the very metropolis of the Ephesians, he delivered a sermon to certain of the Metropolitical bishops, men who were not ignorant, but learned and God-fearing, in which he was bold enough to say, "I do not confess a two or three months old God," and he said other things more outrageous than this.

Therefore as an impious and most pestilent heresy, which perverts our most pure religion (threskeian) and which overthrows from the foundation the whole economy of the mystery [i.e. the Incarnation], we cast it down, as we have said above. But it was not possible, as it seemed, that those who had the sincere love of Christ, and were zealous in the Lord should not experience many trials. For we had hoped that the most reverend John, bishop of Antioch would have praised the sedulous care and piety of the Synod, and that perchance he would have blamed the slowness of Nestorius's deposition. But all things turned out contrary to our hope. For he was found to be an enemy, and a most warlike one, to the holy Synod, and even to the orthodox faith of the churches, as these things indicate.

For as soon as he was come to Ephesus, before he had even shaken off the dust of the journey, or changed his travelling dress, he assembled those who had sided with Nestorius and who had uttered blasphemies against their head, and only not derided the glory of Christ, and gathering as a college to himself, I suppose, thirty men, having the name of bishops (some of whom were without sees, wandering about and having no dioceses, others again had for many years been deposed for serious causes from their metropolises, and with these were Pelagians and the followers of Celestius, and some of those who were turned out of Thessaly), he had the presumption to commit a piece of iniquity no man had ever done before. For all by himself he drew up a paper which he called a deposition, and reviled and reproached the most holy and reverend Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, and the most reverend Memnon, bishop of Ephesus, our brother, and fellow-minister, none of us knowing anything about it, and not even those who were thus reviling knew what was being done, nor for what reason they had presumed to do this. But ignoring the anger of God for such behaviour, and unheeding the ecclesiastical canons, and forgetting that they were hastening to destruction by such a course of action, under the name of an excommunication, they then reviled the whole Synod. And placing these acts of theirs on the public bulletin boards, they exposed them to be read by such as chose to do so, having posted them on the outside of the theatres, that they might make a spectacle of their impiety. But not even was this the limit of their audacity; but as if they had done something in accordance with the canons, they dared to bring what they had done to the ears of the most pious and Christ-loving Emperors. Things being in this condition, the most holy and reverend Cyril, bishop of Alexandria and the most reverend Memnon bishop of the city of Ephesus, offered some books composed by themselves and accusing the most reverend Bishop John and those who with him had done this thing, and conjuring our holy Synod that John and those with him should be summoned according to the canons, so that they might apologize for their daring acts, and if they had any complaints to make they might speak and prove them, for in their written deposition, or rather sheet of abuse, they made this statement as a pretext, "They are Apollinarians, and Arians, and Eunomians, and therefore they have been deposed by us." When, therefore, those who had endured their reviling were present, we again necessarily assembled in the great church, being more than two hundred bishops, and by a first, second, and third call on two days, we summoned John and his companions to the Synod, in order that they might examine those who had been reviled, and might make explanations, and tell the causes which led them to draw up the sentence of deposition; but he [273] did not dare to come.

But it was right that he, if he could truly prove the before-mentioned holy men to be heretics, both should come and prove the truth of that which, accepted as a true and indubitable crime, induced the temerarious sentence against them. But being condemned by his own conscience he did not come. Now what he had planned was this. For he thought that when that foundation-less and most unjust reviling was done away, the just vote of the Synod which it cast against the heretic Nestorius would likewise be dissolved. Being justly vexed, therefore, we determined to inflict according to law the same penalty upon him and those who were with him, which he contrary to law had pronounced against those who had been convicted of no fault. But although most justly and in accordance with law he would have suffered this punishment yet in the hope that by our patience his temerity might be conquered, we have reserved this to the decision of your holiness. In the meanwhile, we have deprived them of communion and have taken from them all priestly power, so that they may not be able to do any harm by their opinions. For those who thus ferociously, and cruelly, and uncanonically are wont to rush to such frightful and most wicked things, how was it not necessary that they should be stripped of the powers which [as a matter of fact] they did not possess, [274] of being able to do harm.

With our brethren and fellow-ministers, both Cyril the bishop and Memnon, who had endured reproval at their hands, we are all in communion, and after the rashness [of their accusers] we both have and do perform the liturgy in common, all together celebrating the Synaxis, having made of none effect their play in writing, and having thus shewn that it lacked all validity and effect. For it was mere reviling and nothing else. For what kind of a synod could thirty men hold, some of whom were marked with the stamp of heresy, and some without sees and ejected [from their dioceses]? Or what strength could it have in opposition to a synod gathered from all the whole world? For there were sitting with us the most reverend bishops Arcadius and Projectus, and with them the most holy presbyter Philip, all of whom were sent by your holiness, who gave to us your presence and filled the place of the Apostolic See (tes apostolikes kathedras). Let then your holiness be angered at what took place. But if license were granted to such as wished to pour reproval upon the greater sees, and thus unlawfully and uncanonically to give sentence or rather to utter revilings against those over whom they have no power, against those who for religion have endured such great conflicts, by reason of which now also piety shines forth through the prayers of your holiness [if, I say, all this should be tolerated], the affairs of the Church would fall into the greatest confusion. But when those who dare to do such things shall have been chastised aright, all disturbance will cease, and the reverence due to the canons will be observed by all.

When there had been read in the holy Synod what had been done touching the deposition of the most irreligious Pelagians and Coelestines, of Coelestius, and Pelagius, and Julian, and Præsidius, and Florus, and Marcellian, and Orontius, and those inclined to like errors, we also deemed it right (edikaiosamen ) that the determinations of your holiness concerning them should stand strong and firm. And we all were of the same mind, holding them deposed. And that you may know in full all things that have been done, we have sent you a copy of the Acts, and of the subscriptions of the Synod. We pray that you, dearly beloved and most longed for, may be strong and mindful of us in the Lord. [275]


[273] Plural in the Greek but singular in the Latin, which the critical editors consider the correct reading. [274] It seems that echontas and not ekontas, is the true reading. [275] The Latin adds, "Then all the bishops subscribed their names."


The Definition of the Holy and Ecumenical Synod of Ephesus Against the Impious Messalians Who are Also Called Euchetæ and Enthusiasts.

(Found in Latin only. Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III., col. 809.)

When the most pious and religious bishops, Valerian and Amphilochius had come to us, they proposed that we should consider in common the case of the Messalians, that is the Euchetes or Enthusiasts, who were flourishing in Pamphylia, or by what other name this most contaminating heresy is called. And when we were considering the question, the most pious and religious bishop Valerian, presented to us a synodical schedule which had been drawn up concerning them in the great city of Constantinople, under Sisinnius of blessed memory: What we read therein was approved by all, as well composed and as a due presentation of the case. And it seemed good to us all, and to the most pious bishops Valerian and Amphilochius and to all the most pious bishops of the provinces of Pamphylia and Lycaonia, that all things contained in that Synodical chart should be confirmed and in no way rescinded; also that the action taken at Alexandria might also be made firm, so that all those who throughout the whole province are of the Messalian or Enthusiastic heresy, or suspected of being tainted with that heresy, whether clerics or laymen, may come together; and if they shall anathematize in writing, according to the decrees pronounced in the aforesaid synod [their errors], if they are clergymen they may remain such; and if laymen they may be admitted to communion. But if they refuse to anathematize, if they were presbyters or deacons or in any other ecclesiastical grade, let them be cast out of the clergy and from their grade, and also from communion; if they be lay-men let them be anathematized.

Furthermore those convicted of this heresy are no more to be permitted to have the rule of our monasteries, lest tares be sown and increase. And we give command that the most pious bishops Valerian and Amphilochius, and the rest of the most reverend bishops of the whole province shall pay attention that this decree be carried into effect. In addition to this it seemed good that the filthy book of this heresy, which is called the "Asceticon," should be anathematized, as composed by heretics, a copy of which the most religious and pious Valerian brought with him. Likewise anything savouring of their impiety which may be found among the people, let it be anathema.

Moreover when they come together, let there be commended by them in writing such things as are useful and necessary for concord, and communion, and arrangement (dispositionem vel dispensationem). But should any question arise in connexion with the present business, and if it should prove to be difficult and ambiguous, what is not approved by the most pious bishops Valerian and Amphilochius, and the other bishops throughout the province, they ought to discuss all things by reference to what is written. And if the most pious bishops of the Lycians or of the Lycaonians shall have been passed over; nevertheless let not a Metropolitan be left out of whatever province he may be. And let these things be inserted in the Acts so that if any have need of them they would find how also to expound these things more diligently to others.

Note on the Messalians or Massalians.

(Tillemont, Mémoires, Tom. VIII., Seconde Partie. Condensed.)

St. Epiphanius distinguishes two sorts of persons who were called by the name of Messalians, the one and the more ancient were heathen, the other were Christian in name.

The Messalians who bore the Christian name had no beginning, nor end, nor chief, nor fixed faith. Their first writers were Dadoes, Sabas, Adelphus, Hermes, Simeon and some others. Adelphus was neither monk nor clerk, but a layman. Sabas had taken the habit of an anchorite and was surnamed "the Eunuch," because he had mutilated himself. Adelphus was of Mesopotamia and was considered their leader, so that they are sometimes called "Adelphians." They are also called "Eustathians." "Euchites" is the Greek equivalent of "Messalians" in Hebrew. They were also called "Enthusiasts" or "Corentes" because of the agitation the devils caused them, which they attributed to the Holy Spirit.

St. Epiphanius thought that these heretics sprang up in the time of Constance, although Theodoret does not put them down until the days of Valentinian. They came from Mesopotamia, but spread as far as Antioch by the year 376.

They pretended to renounce the world, and to give up their possessions, and under the habit of monks they taught Manichæan impieties, and others still more detestable.

Their principal tenet was that everyone inherited from his ancestors a demon, who had possession of his soul from the moment of his birth, and always led it to evil. That baptism cut away the outside branches of sin, but could not free the soul of this demon, and that therefore its reception was useless. That only constant prayer could drive out this demon. That when it was expelled, the Holy Spirit descended and gave visible and sensible marks of his presence, and delivered the body from all the uprisings of passion, and the soul from the inclination to evil, so that afterwards there was no need of fasting, nor of controlling lust by the precepts of the Gospel.

Besides this chief dogma, gross errors, contrary to the first principles of religion, were attributed to them. That the divinity changed itself in different manners to unite itself to their souls. They held that the body of Christ was infinite like his divine nature; they did not hesitate to say that his body was at first full of devils which were driven out when the Word took it upon him. [276]They claimed that they possessed clear knowledge of the state of souls after death, read the hearts and desires of man, the secrets of the future and saw the Holy Trinity with their bodily eyes. They affirmed that man could not only attain perfection but equal the deity in virtue and knowledge.

They never fasted, slept men and women together, in warm weather in the open streets. But certain say that before attaining to this liberty of license three years of mortification were required.

The most well-known point of their discipline is that they forbade all manual labour as evil, and unworthy of the spiritual.

Harmenopulus in his Basilicæ (Tom. I. Lib. ix.) says that they held the Cross in horror, that they refused to honour the Holy Virgin, or St. John the Baptist, or any of the Saints unless they were Martyrs; that they mutilated themselves at will, that they dissolved marriages, that they foreswore and perjured themselves without scruple, that women were appointed as mistresses of the sect to instruct and govern men, even priests.

Although so opposed to the faith of the Church, yet for all this the Messalians did not separate themselves from her communion. They did not believe in the Communion as a mystery which sanctifies us, which must be approached with fear and faith, but only came to the holy Table to hide themselves and to pass for Catholics, for this was one of their artifices. When asked, they had no hesitation in denying all that they believed, and were willing to anathematize those who thought with them. And all this they did without fear, because they were taught they had attained perfection, that is impassibility.

Vide Theodoret, H. E., Lib. iv., cap. xi.

Photius tells us that John of Antioch wrote against these heretics.

St. Maximus the Abbot speaks of this heresy as still existing in the VIIth Century, and as practising the most abominable infamies. Photius bears witness of its resuscitation in his days in Cappadocia with its wonted corruptions. Harmenopulus remarks that a certain Eleutherius of Paphlagonia had added to it new crimes, and that in part it became the source of the sect of the Bogomiles, so well known in the decadence of the Greek empire.


[276] They were therefore Nestorians.


Decree of the Synod in the Matter of Euprepius and Cyril.

(Found in Latin only. Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. III., col. 810.)

The petition of the most pious bishops Euprepius and Cyril, which is set forth in the papers they offered, is honest. Therefore from the holy canons and the external laws, which have from ancient custom the force of law, [277] let no innovation be made in the cities of Europa, but according to the ancient custom they shall be governed by the bishops by whom they have been formerly governed. For since there never was a metropolitan who had power otherwise, so neither hereafter shall there be any departure from the ancient custom.


(Hist. of the Councils, Vol. III., p. 77.)

Two Thracian bishops, Euprepius of Biza (Bizya) and Cyril of Coele, gave occasion for a decree, praying for protection against their Metropolitan, Fritilas of Heraclea, who had gone over to the party of John of Antioch, and at the same time for the confirmation of the previous practice of holding two bishoprics at the same time. The Synod granted both.


[277] The text, as the side note remarks, "seems to be mutilated and depraved" in this passage, but the meaning is clear enough as given by Hefele in the note.

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