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"devils, Antichrists, maniacs, dogs, wolves, lions, hares, chameleons, hydras, eels, cuttle-fish, gnats, beetles, leeches." Such names passed for arguments.
In his History of the Council of Nice, Dr. Stanley has made some use of legendary materials. Whether on so grave a matter of history it is in perfectly good taste so to mix up fact with fiction, is a point we shall not stop to discuss. Some may think that the line between history and fable should be more sharply drawn, and that the comic element should be excluded. For ourselves, we are willing the author should indulge his propensity to comedy and broad humor to the utmost, if he will make horses and sheep, and not the unfortunate Arius, the subject of them. In itself we see no harm in the story about the "old shepherd Spyridion," Bishop of Cyprus, to whom many miracles were attributed. The author has already told the story of the "sheep-stealers," and now gives us that of the horses. We will present the legend in Dr. Stanley's own words. Spyridion with his companions is on his way to the Council of Nice.
"One night, he, with a cavalcade of Orthodox bishops, arrived at a caravansarai, where, as it so chanced, a party of Arians were assembled also on their way to Nicæa. The Arians determined to seize this opportunity of intercepting the further progress of so formidable an accession to their rivals. Accordingly, in the dead of night, they cut off the heads of all the horses belonging to Spyridion and his companions. When, as is the custom in Oriental journeying, the travellers rose to start before break of day, the Orthodox bishops were dismayed at the discovery of what had befallen their steeds. A word from Spyridion, however, was sufficient to rectify the difficulty. He replaced the decapitated heads, and his party proceeded on their journey. When day broke they found that the miracle, performed in the dark and in haste, had restored the heads at random; black heads to white shoulders, white heads to black shoulders; in short, a caravan of piebald horses." - pp. 125, 126.
Dr. Stanley has appropriated two hundred and fifty pages, composed in his usual style, to the Council of Nice, and has produced a very lively narration, in parts quite entertaining, which is a good deal to affirm of a writing on such a subject. In the general arrangement of his topics, he reminds one of
Tillemont. But here the resemblance ends. Their two styles present a wonderful contrast. Nothing can exceed in minuteness and evidence of patient research Tillemont's History of the Council of Nice, and of the Arians. No authority, however obscure, escapes him. "Perhaps," says one, "no historian ever omitted less, or related more, that was to the purpose.' His manner of writing history, however, is peculiar. He does not give a continuous narrative in his own words, but from all ancient writers who touch on the subject, and all modern ones of any note, he collects and arranges in its proper order what has been said to the point, enclosing what he adds of his own. in brackets. This method precludes, of course, all animated narration or description, and gave occasion, at the time, for the remark that Tillemont might "not be so bright and sparkling as some other authors," the truth of which no one will think of questioning. But this method has one advantage; it gives the reader the original authorities, and their testimony in their own words, of the value of which he must judge for himself.
Tillemont is very bitter against the Arians; but he is conscientious and impartial, and we believe that his citations may be implicitly relied on as accurate. His History of the Council of Nice is not graphic, as is Dr. Stanley's; it is the opposite, it is minute and dry; but it presents materials of which more "bright and sparkling" writers may with advantage avail themselves. He first, as does Dr. Stanley, groups the bishops, both Orthodox and Arian, "following the order of the Provinces which is observed in the subscription to the Council."
"Of these holy prelates," he says, 66 some were eminent for the wisdom of their discourse, others for the severity of their lives and patience under afflictions, and some again for their prudent moderation. There were many of them who were adorned with Apostolic graces, and many who, as the Apostle says, bore in their bodies marks of the sufferings of Jesus Christ. Some of them were maimed in both their hands for Jesus Christ, as we observed of St. Paul of Neocæsarea; others, as St. Paphnutius, whose hams were burnt; others who had their right eye pulled out, as this same saint. In a word, there was a great number of confessors, and a whole multitude of martyrs. There was
to be seen assembled in one church all that the churches of Europe, Africa, and Asia could boast of as most considerable, and all the shining lights of the world." *
Tillemont then describes the circumstances of the assembling of the Council, the entrance of the Emperor Constantine, the disputes, the proceedings relating to the forming of the creed, and the result, with an account of the decrees and canons. To the whole are appended the history of Paphnutius and his speech on celibacy. This Tillemont gives as a story taken from the historians, that is, Socrates and Sozomen. He does not vouch for its truth. Of that, he says, he leaves others to judge. It "is what we find in history," he says; and he adds some testimony to show that the story is apocryphal.†
We then have an account of the "disputes of the philosophers with the prelates," in which occurs the famous story of the "holy old man," a bishop, say some, a laic, say others, -"a man of unaffected simplicity, and as ignorant as he could be " as to all worldly knowledge. His speech is given, by which, it is said, he silenced and converted one of the philosophers, a feat which passed for something miraculous. The name of the saint is not given. Baronius thinks it was St. Spyridion; but to this there are objections. Eulogius has been given as the name of the philosopher, but on no good authority. Historians differ in their account of the dispute, and the whole is involved in uncertainty.
We do not commend Tillemont's style. As to that of Dr. Stanley, we should be at once set down as heretics, we suppose, should we so much as venture to hint that it has a fault; and yet we are not perfectly sure that on subjects of this kind the more simple and quiet manner of Dr. Milman is not preferable, apart even from the temptations to unfaithfulness which beset a writer who adopts a more pretentious and sparkling style, and must fill his pages with a succession of high-toned pictures. This, however, is a reflection which sug
*Tillemont's Hist. Coun. Nice, tr. by Thomas Deacon, Sec. 5. Lond. 1732. ↑ Ibid., Sec. 17, and note 20.
Ibid., Sec. 18.
gests itself only after we have laid down Dr. Stanley's volume, and the mind has had time to recover itself, and return to its sober mood. While reading, we are so dazzled by the author's brilliant rhetoric, that we are, for the moment, not disposed to criticise. We must except, however, the passages relating to Arius, which must be read with sorrow, and a feeling little short of indignation, we think, by every honest mind not warped by theological prejudice.
As to the authorities for the portrait of Arius, we will here add, that, in another part of the volume, and in another connection, Dr. Stanley intimates that there may be some question of the genuineness of the letter ascribed to Constantine, now found in the third book of Gelasius. He says that "Constantine, if the letter be really his, condescended to an invective against him [Arius], mixed in almost equal proportions of puns on his name, of jests on his personal appearance, of eager attacks upon his doctrine, and of supposed prophecies against him in the Sibylline books."* Excellent! Yet this is precisely the document on which half the objectionable part of Dr. Stanley's description of Arius is founded, a letter, by his own intimation, of doubtful authorship, dealing in "puns on Arius's name and jests on his personal appearance." Why did it not occur to the Doctor to express some doubt of the trustworthiness of the letter at the time he was using it in making up the description referred to? After all, however, he appears to have no settled opinion on the subject of its genuineness. Thus, in a note appended to the passage just quoted, he seems inclined to take back what he has said on the doubtful authorship of the foolish or wicked letter. He quotes a short passage from Socrates, and adds, that it "confirms the genuineness of the Emperor's letter; gives some explanation of it as a mere ironical and rhetorical display, and shows that it was writtten after the Council," and not before, as Newman, and, we may add, the Prince de Broglie, with more reason, we think, assert.† The application of the quotation from Socrates, however, is merely conjectural, so far as relates to this particular letter. All this does not, so far as we can see, help the matter. As
* Pages 171, 172.
↑ L'Église et l'Empire Romain, I. 388.
long as the passages we have extracted are allowed to stand in the text, without any intimation of the suspicious character of the sources whence they were drawn, or as long as they are allowed to stand at all as an authentic description of Arius, the writer, we conceive, is chargeable with gross injustice to the heresiarch, and with holding very loose notions of the responsibilities of an historian.
We are glad to have done with fault-finding; and, having said thus much of the one great blemish of Dr. Stanley's book, we will afford our readers the pleasure of a few extracts in a different strain. The following is well said. Speaking of the "Arian sect," Dr. Stanley observes:
"For three hundred years after the date of its origin it represented considerable power, both political and religious; and this not only in the Eastern regions of its birth, but in our own Western and Teutonic nations. The whole of the vast Gothic population which descended on the Roman Empire, so far as it was Christian at all, held to the faith of the Alexandrian heretic. Our first Teutonic version of the Scriptures was by an Arian missionary, Ulfilas. The first conqueror of Rome, Alaric, the first conqueror of Africa, Genseric, were Arians. Theodoric the Great, king of Italy, and hero of the Nibelungen Lied, was an Arian. The vacant place in his massive tomb at Ravenna is a witness of the vengeance which the Orthodox took on his memory, when on their triumph they tore down the porphyry vase in which his Arian subjects had enshrined his ashes. The ferocious Lombards were Arians till they began to be won over by their queen, Theodelinda, at the close of the sixth century. But the most remarkable strongholds of Arianism were the Gothic kingdoms of Spain and Southern France. In France it needed all the power of Clovis, the one orthodox chief of the barbarian nations, to crush it on the plains of Poitiers. In Spain, it expired only in the sixth century, where it was renounced by King Recared in the basilica of Toledo.". pp. 71, 72.
"Still, the fundamental principle of the old Arianism, as separated from the logical form and the political organization which it assumed, has hardly ever departed from the Church. It has penetrated where we least expected to find it. The theological opinions of many who have thought themselves, and been thought by others, most orthodox, have been deeply colored by the most conspicuous tendencies of the doctrine of Arius. Often men have been attacked as heretics, only because they agreed too closely with the doctrine of Athanasius. 'In