Owen - BX9315 O81

PntrACE. vii. pagation of the faith of the church. And the same means are still sufficientunto the same ends, were they attended unto with conscienceand diligence. The pre- tended defence of truth with arts and arms of another kind, bath been the bane ofreligion, and lost the peace of Christians beyond recovery. And it may be observ- ed, that whilst this way alone for the preservation of the truth was insisted on and pursued, that although innumerableheresies arose one after another, and some- times many together, yet they never made any great progress, nor arrived unto any such consistency, as to make a stated opposition unto the truth, but the errors themselves and their authors were as vagrantmeteors, which appeared for a little while and vanished away. Afterwards it was not so, when other ways and means for the suppression of heresies were judged convenient and needful. For in process oftime, when the power of the Roman empiregave countenance and protection unto theChrist- ianreligion, another way was fixed on for this end, name- ly, the use ofsuch assemblies of bishops and others as they called general councils, armed with a mixt power, partly civil, and partly ecclesiastical, with respect unto the authority of the emperors, and that jurisdiction in the churchwhich began then to befirst talked of. This way was begun in the council of Nice, wherein although there was a determination of the doctrine concerning the person of Christ then in agitation, and opposed, as unto his divine nature therein, according unto the truth, yet sundry evils and inconveniences ensued thereon. From henceforth the faith of Christians began greatly tobe resolved into the authority of men, and as much, ifnet more weight to be laid on what was decreed by the fathers there assembled, than on what was clearly taught in the scriptures. Besides, being necessitated as they thought, to explain their conceptions of the di- vine nature of Christ, in words either not used in the scripture, or whose signification unto that purpose was not determined therein, occasion was given unto end- less contentions about them. The Grecians themselves could not for a long season agree among themselves whether áPta essence and ú,rlrams substance were of the same signification or no, both of them denoting essence and substance; or whether they differed in their signi- fication; or if they did, wherein that difference lay. Athanasius at first affirmed them to be the same, Orat. b 5. con. Arian. and Epist. ad African. Basil denied them so to be, or that they were used unto the same purpose in the council of Nice, Epist. 78. The like difference immediately fell out between the Grecians and Latins, about hypostasis and persona. For the Latins rendered hypostasis by substantia, and persona by as,,, theface. Hereof Jerom complains in his epis- tle to Damasus, that they required ofhim in the east to confess tres hypostases, three substances, and he would only acknowledge tres personas, three persons, Epist. 71. And Austin gives an account of the same difference, ele Trinitate, lib. 5. cap. 8, b. Athanasius endeavoured the composing of this difference, and in a good measure effected it, as Gregory of Nazianzen af- firms in his oration concerning his praise. It was done by him in a synod. at Alexandria in the first year of, Julian's reign. On this occasion many contests arose even among them who all pleaded their adherence unto . the doctrineof the council of Nice. And as the subtle. Arians made incredible advantage hereof at first, pre- tending that they opposed not the Deity of Christ, but only the expression of it by ;tw hies, the some essence; se, afterwards they countenanced themselves in coining words and terms to express their minds with, which ut- terly rejected it. Hence were their c¡ee,éems, sr,gécros, 1 Tv,, and the like names of blasphemy, about which the contests were fierce and endless. And there were yet farther evils that ensued hereon. For the curious and serpentine wits of men, finding themselves by this means set at liberty to think and discourse of those mys- teries of the blessed Trinity, and the person of Christ, without much regard unto plain divine testimonies, in such ways, wherein cunning and sophistry did much bear sway, began to multiplysuch new, curious, and false notions about them, especially about the latter, as caus- ed newdisturbances, and those of large extent and long continuance. For their suppression, councils were cal- led one on the back of another, *hereon commonly new occasions of differences did arise, and most of them managed with great scandal unto the Christian religion. For men began much to forego the primitive ways of opposing errors, and extinguishing heresies, betaking, themselves unto their interest, the number of their par- ty, and prevalency with thé present emperors. And al- though it so fell out, as in that at Constantinople, the first at Ephesus, and that of Chalcedon, that the truth