2.4.1 “Victor Constantine, Maximus Augustus. To Alexander and Arius. I understand the basis of the present dispute to be this: When you yourself, father Alexander, questioned your priests about exactly what each of them considered about a certain passage written in the law—or rather, you inquired of them about a certain meaningless detail of dispute—then you, Arius, unexpectedly responded with something which you either should have never pondered in the first place, or, if you did ponder it, you should have kept silent about it.

2.4.2 Because of this disagreement which has arisen among you, harmony has been annulled, and the most holy people have been split into two and severed from the unity of the shared body. So then, each of you, allow the other’s opinion equally and comply with what your fellow servant rightfully advises.

2.4.3 And what is that? It was neither proper to ask about these kinds of things in the first place nor to give an answer when asked. For there is no compulsory law which demands all these kinds of inquiries. Rather, they are promoted by the quibbling of unproductive idleness. And even if it takes place as part of some natural exercise, nevertheless, we ought to keep it confined within the mind and not readily pronounce it at open councils or thoughtlessly entrust it to the ears of all. For how many individuals have the ability to accurately comprehend or to sufficiently explain the meaning of matters so great and exceedingly difficult?”

2.4.4 A little later in his letter he wrote: “So then, we must avoid so much talk about these kinds of matters. Otherwise, we may be unable to explain what is set before us due to our own natural weakness, or the rather dull intelligence of those hearing and learning may not be capable of coming to an accurate grasp of what was said. Again, in either case, the common people would inevitably end up committing blasphemy or causing a schism.” And later he says: “For to be at variance is considered to be neither proper nor lawful at all.

2.4.5 Let me remind your intelligence with a small example. Surely you know that even the philosophers themselves, while all adhering to one set of principles, often still disagree concerning some detail of their statements. Yet although they are divided by their level of understanding, they really are still in agreement with each other in the unity of their set of principles. If this is the case, isn’t it so much more right and good for you who are the appointed servants of the mighty God to unanimously agree with each other in regards to a religious decision of this kind?

2.4.6 So, let us examine what was said with better reasoning, and let us ponder it with more understanding. Is it right that, because of a few arguments among you about mere empty words, brothers oppose brothers and children oppose their parents, and that the honor of the council is severed by an ungodly disagreement, because of you?

2.4.7 Let us willfully keep far away from the devil’s temptations. Our mighty God, the Savior of all, has extended the light for all to share in. Under his providence, allow me, the servant of the Superior, to bring this effort to an end, so that by my address and service and resolute admonition I might bring you, his people, into the holy fellowship of the council.”

2.4.8 And later in the letter he wrote: “Concerning divine providence, let there be among you one faith, one understanding, and one agreement about the Superior. But as for the things which you discuss in detail with each other during those trivial inquiries, even if you do not arrive at one conclusion, they should remain in your own head, kept hidden in the secret recesses of your mind. Indeed, let your remarkable shared love, faith in the truth, honor towards God, and religious observance of the law remain unshaken among you.

2.4.9 So, return to showing love and favor to one another. Embrace all the people once again. And you yourselves, when you cleanse your own souls, acknowledge one another again. For love often becomes sweet after hatred has been removed, and it returns again in reconciliation.

2.4.10 So then, restore for me calm days and restful nights so that from now on, I too may enjoy the pleasure of pure light and the cheerfulness of a quiet life.

2.4.11 But if you don’t, I will have to grieve, and I will have to fight back tears all the time, and the rest of my life will not be serene. For if even the people of God (I mean, my fellow servants) have thus become divided by unrighteous and harmful disputes with each other, how will I possibly be able to stand firm in my reasoning?

2.4.12 Listen so that you grasp how extreme my grief is about this. I recently stopped in the city of Nicomedia with the intention of immediately pressing on to the East. But while I was hurrying toward you and was practically already with you, the news of this matter impelled a sudden change of plans, so that I would not have to see with my eyes the things which I do not even think I can bear to let come into my ears.

2.4.13 So from now on, through a renewed harmony among you, reopen for me the path to the East which you closed to me by your disputes with each other. And make it so that rather soon I may rejoice to see you two and all the other people together and that I may, with a sweet-sounding oration, give due thanks to the Superior for the harmony and freedom we all share.”

2.4.14 The emperor’s letter gave such wonderful and very wise advice, but evil overpowered both the emperor’s zeal and the trustworthy reputation of the one who delivered the letters.

 

Next Chapter – 2.5 The most God-loving Emperor Constantine calls for a council of bishops to be held at Nicaea

Previous Chapter – 2.3 Bishop Alexander’s decree pronouncing the deposition of Arius and those on his side, which was sent to all the bishops everywhere

Click here to read Book 1 in its entirety.

 

Created by NJ 7-6-17

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