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Maimonides, and Manasse-Ben-Israel. But he that gave the greatest credit to that opinion, was Papias, a disciple of St. John the Evangelist, and companion of St. Polycarp. He pretended to have received the Millenarian doctrine from the apostles and their disciples. Upon this assertion it was adopted by St. Irenæus, St. Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Victorinus, Lactantius, and several others; while it was on the other hand impugned by others from the first ages of the church. And certainly what Eusebius remarks of the character of Papias, ought to be sufficient to discredit his authority. He was a man of very moderate understanding, who, for want of comprehending what he heard from the apostles, took literally what was said in a mystical sense. St. Diony. sius of Alexandria in the third century expressly refuted one Nepos, who had composed a book in defence of the Millenarian opinion. And Caius, a priest of the church of Rome in the second century, calls it a fable invented by Cerinthus. Origen also rejects it in several places of his works.—In fine, we may conclude with a very able man, M. du Pin, Dissert. sur les Millenaires, who has fully discussed the question, that the Millenarian sentiment is contrary to the gospel, to the doctrine of St. Paul, and is not at all found in the Apocalypse."
To conclude this part of our present history; the reader may remark, that the events, which took their rise in the first age of the Church, have been here carried on in a continued series, because connected, far beyond the period of that age, which terminates about the year 320. And in general it must be observed, that the transactions relating to the Church are not confined within the compass of the age which gives them birth, and which they serve to characterize, but continue and extend into the subsequent ages.
THE HISTORY OF THE SECOND AGE OF THE CHRISTIAN
CHURCH.-THE OPENING OF THE SECOND SEAL.
Apoc. chap. vi. 3. “And when he had opened the second seal, I heard,” says St. John, “the second living creature, saying: Come and see.
V. 4 “And there went out another horse, that was red: and to him that sat thereon it was given that he should take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another, and a great sword was given to him."
Here is announced the heresy of Arianism, the rise of which opened the second age of the Church, about the year 320.
He who sits on the horse is the Heresiarch, Arius; and his horse is red, or according to the Greek expression, of a fiery colour, agreeing with the character of heresy, which always kindles a flame of discord and violence. To him, the rider, it was given that he should take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another. Constantine the Great had procured peace to the Church in 313, by suppressing the Roman idolatrous power, as we have before seen; but this peace is soon banished by intestine broils, occasioned by Arius broaching, in 319, a new doctrine, which impiously denied the divinity of Christ our Redeemer. This blasphemous doctrine, in progress of time, raised such a flame of contention among the Christians, that there ensued commotions, tumults, violences, and bloodshed. A great sword was given him, to Arius and the Arians, who were supported by the great powers of the earth, as by several Roman emperors, and by several kings of the -Goths, the Vandals, &c. who employed the sword in defence of the Arian doctrine, and cruelly persecuted the Catholic Christians. This explication will be elucidated presently by an historical account of that heresy.
The whole drift of the Arian doctrine being to impugn the divine nature of Christ: in opposition to it was ascribed to the Lamb the atribute of divinity, or riches, according to the Greek text, Apoc. v. 12. see p. 29; that is, the riches of the Godhead, which he shares cqually with the Father; for in him “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead corporally," Coloss. ii. 9; and Christ speaking to the Father, says; "all my things are thine; and thine are mine." John xvii. 10.
Let it be remarked that, at the opening of the second seal, the second living creature, which, as we have before shown, represents the prophet Jeremias, says to St. John, “come, and see.” This invitation comes with propriety from that prophet, who being a priest, here shows to St. John the apostacy of Arius, a priest of the Christian Church. Besides, Jeremias was sent by Almighty God against the false prophets, who deluded the Jews by their pernicious counsels and deceitful promises; see Jer. c. 23. In a similar manner he here points out Arius, a false teacher in the Christian Church.
The Sounding of the Second Trumpet. Apoc. Chap. viii. 8. “And the second angel sounded the trumpet, and as it were a great mountain, burning with fire, was cast into the sea, and the third part of the sea became blood.
V. 9. “And the third part of those creatures died which had life in the sea, and the third part of the ships were destroyed.”
In the seal we saw the intestine convulsions and violences occasioned by the Arian disputes; here we find described by an expressive allegory, the spiritual mischief done by that same heresy. And thus the second seal and second trumpet announce to us distinctly and separately the two dismal effects, temporal and spiritual, of Arianism. A great mountain burning with fire, or a great heresy, tending to kindle among Christians the fire of. discord in their principles of faith, and the flame of mutual animosity, is cast into the sea'; that is, published in the Church, which it embroils, and which therefore is now represented as a troubled sea. And the third part of the sea becomes blood, by which change its waters become poisonous to the fish that live in them: and in like manner the Catholic doctrine, on which the faithful live, is corrupted by Arianism through a third part of the Church, and becomes poisonous and destructive. The consequence of which is, the third part of those creatures die, which have life in the sea, or the third part nearly of the Christians drink the heretical poison, and die a spiritual death. And even the third part of the ships were destroyed, that is, a third part of the particular churches entire with their pastors, meant here by the ships, imbibe the same poison and perish.
The natural consequences of heresy are, disputes and contentions in the Church; and therefore we find ascribed to it voices or noises. Apoc. viii. 5. see p. 19..
The pouring out of the second Vial of the wrath of God.
Apoc. chap. xvi. 3. “And the second angel,” says St. John, “poured out his vial upon the sea, and there came blood as it were of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.”
As at the sounding of the second trumpet, a fiery mountain was thrown into the sea, or among the Christians; so here
the second vial of God's wrath is also poured out upon the sea, or on the corrupted and guilty part of the Christians, namely, the Arian heretics. And there came blood as it were of a dead man: on pouring out the vial follows the divine judgment. There appears blood like that of a dead man, or blood, which after having flowed with a free and vigorous circulation during the time of health, gradually retards its motion in a dying man, is totally lost and stopped when the man is dead. Thus the Arians, after having subsisted for a while in a vigorous condition and powerful state, are condemned by a just judgment, to decline, dwindle, and die away. Hence, every living soul died in the sea; the Arians were, in course of time, either destroyed or converted to the Catholic faith, and the heresy extinguished. Such was their case. The preceding Explication illustrated by a short account of
the Rise, Progress, and Decline of Arianism. By the accession of Constantine to the imperial throne idolatry received a deadly blow, and the Christian religion was established and peaceably practised throughout the whole Roman empire from the year 313. The blessing of so happy a condition was more than could be expected by the Christians to last long, since Christ had fixed that his disciples should follow him, not by a life of ease and prosperity, but through the thorny road of tribulation. Their present situation was too flattering, not to raise the envy of their ever watchful and implacable enemy the devil, “He," to use the words of St. Cyprian, "seeing his idols fallen into disrepute, and his temples deserted, on account of the number of converts to Chris. tianity, invented a new artifice, to deceive the unwary under the disguise of the Christian name itself: this was heresy and schism, which he employed as his instruments to subvert faith, corrupt truth, and dissolve unity. Those that he could not keep in the old dark road of idolatry, he deceived by leading them into the by-path of error.” Lib. de Unit. Eccl. Arius, a turbulent ambitious priest of Alexandria in Egypt, aspired to that see; but finding himself disappointed by the election of St. Alexander, his jealousy and resentment stimulated him to decry the doctrine of this holy prelate, which was true and orthodox, and to oppose to it a new system of doctrine of his own invention. He began to teach that Christ was not God, but a created being, formed indeed before all other creatures, but not from eternity. Arius had a graceful mien, and a modest deportment: He was old, and had a mortified coun
tenance: these qualities gave him credit, and contributed to gain him proselytes.
The holy bishop, Alexander, at first endeavoured to reclaim him by mild remonstrances and entreaties: but these not availing, and his pernicious doctrine gaining ground, Alex: ander assembled a synod of the bishops of Egypt and Lybia, in which Arius and his abettors were condemned and cut off from the communion of the faithful, in the year 320. Of this proceeding St. Alexander gave account by a circular let. ter to all the bishops of the Church. Arius fled from Alexandria into Palestine; there he procured protection from some bishops: from thence he proceeded to Nicomedia, where he met with a favourable reception from its bishop, Eusebius, who became a warm friend to him, and his principal patron. But the heresiarch was not content with having gained over. to his party some of the bishops; he invented a scheme to propagate his tenets among the vulgar class of people. He composed songs, which he taught them to sing, and in them he mixed the poison of his doctrine, which by that easy means they unwarily sucked in. .
Constantine the emperor, in order to put a stop to the unhappy disputes that divided the Church, wrote letters to Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and to Arius, exhorting them to be reconciled. But this expedient proving inef- . fectual, and the divisions increasing, at the solicitation of the bishops, he willingly concurred in procuring a general council of the Church to be held. The place pitched upon for it was Nice in Bithynia, and the emperor generously defrayed the whole charges of the Clergy, who resorted thither from all parts of the world, to the number of 318, in the year 325. St. Sylvester, pope, not being able to go himself to the council, commissioned Osius, bishop of Cor. duba in Spain, to preside there in his name, and sent him two priests, Vitus and Vicentius, for assistants. Arius was there present, and had two and twenty bishops of his party. Constantine made a short speech to the fathers, in which, among other things, he said: “Let us take care, that after having crushed, by the help of God, our Saviour, the tyranny of those who waged war against him, the devil by his jealousy does not expose the gospel to the slànder and malevolence of the wicked, by this intestine war which I see rise up in the Church.” The fathers then called upon Arius, to explain his doctrine, which shocked them very much. He and his partisans were soon confounded, and