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every creature, the Wisdom, and the Word, and the power of God, before the ages, not by foreknowledge, but in substance and in person, God, the Son of God, as we have 'learned in the Old and the New Testament, we confess and preach. But whoever says the contrary, that the Son of God was not before the constitution of the world, and who says that to believe and confess him to be God, is nothing else but to preach two Gods, and who preaches that the Son of God is not God—such an one we judge to be alien from the ecclesiastical rule of faith, and all the Catholic Churches agree with us. For of him it is written: 'Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom,' &c.
The whole of this epistle, which is very long, consists of an extensive discussion of Scripture, establishing, on the single authority of the Sacred Volume, the whole Trinitarian doctrine.
From the fifth Book of Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. chap. 29. of Rev. Mr. Cruse's translation, p. 213. we insert the following passage, which bears directly on the point in question.
'In a work written against the heresy of Artemon,' saith Eusebius, 'which heresy Paul of Samosata again attempted to revive among us, there is a narrative well adapted to the history we are now investigating. This writer, not long since, in refuting the heresy mentioned,
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which asserts that Christ is a mere man, since its leaders wish to boast as if it were the ancient doctrine, besides many other arguments that he adduces in refutation of their impious falsehood, gives the following account: 'For they assert,' says he, 'that all those primitive men, and the Apostles themselves, both received and taught these things as they are now taught by them, and that the truth of the Gospel was preserved until the time of Victor, who was the thirteenth Bishop of Rome from Peter. But that from his successor Zephyrinus, the truth was mutilated. And perchance what they say might be credible, were it not that the holy Scriptures contradict them: and then, also, there are works of certain brethren older than Victor's times, which they wrote in defence of the truth, and against the heresies then prevailing. I speak of Justus, and Miltiades, and Tatian, and Clement, and many others, in all of which the Divinity of Christ is asserted. For who knows not the works of Irenasus and Melito, and the rest, in which Christ is announced as God and man? Whatever psalms and hymns were written by the brethren from the beginning, celebrate Christ, the Word of God, by asserting his Divinity. How*, then, could it happen, since the doctrine of the Church has been proclaimed for so many years, that those until the time of Victor preached the Gospel after this manner. And how are they so devoid of shame to utter these falsehoods against Victor, well knowing that Victor excommunicated that currier Theodotus, the leader and father of this God-denying apostacy, as the first one that asserted Christ was a mere man. For had Victor entertained the sentiments which their impious doctrine promulgates, how could he have expelled Theodotus the inventor of this heresy?'
Let these extracts, out of volumes of similar testimony, suffice to show that the Christian Fathers before the Council of Nice, believed in the Trinity, and rested their belief on the Bible, using the same arguments, in substance, which are used at the present day. We shall now apply to the history of that celebrated Council, in order to ascertain whether the very same principle was not adopted there.
The long and elaborate address of the Emperor Constantine before the Council, has been preserved, in which he maintains strongly the orthodox doctrine, and concludes in these words:
(e) ' The books of the Evangelists and Apostles, as also the oracles of the ancient Prophets, teach us evidently what we ought to think of the Deity. All seditious contention, therefore, being driven away, let us determine the matters in dispute, by the testimonies of the divinely inspired Scriptures.' (Mansi. Concil. torn. 2. 817.)
Now let us ask, where should Constantine, a convert from heathenism, learn to recommend an appeal to Scripture as the only authority on this very question, if such were not the universal doctrine of his day? The opposition of the Arians to the Trinity, as including the proper Deity of Christ and of the Holy Spirit, was the very cause why Constantine assembled this Council. And if the orthodox Fathers were accustomed to defend their doctrine by any other authority than that of Scripture, how should Constantine, their patron, recommend that Scripture alone should decide the question? In precise accordance to his advice, accordingly, we find the Council of Nice declaring as follows: (Comment. Gelas. Cyzicen. cap. 12. apud. Mansi. Concil. torn. 2. p. 825.)
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