Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume III/Theodoret/Ecclesiastical History/Book III/Chapter 2
Chapter II.—Of the return of the bishops and the consecration of Paulinus.
Julian had clear information on these points, and did not make known the impiety of his soul. With the object of attracting all the bishops to acquiescence in his rule he ordered even those who had been expelled from their churches by Constantius, and who were sojourning on the furthest confines of the empire, to return to their own churches. Accordingly, on the promulgation of this edict, back to Antioch came the divine Meletius, and to Alexandria the far famed Athanasius.
But Eusebius, and Hilarius of Italy and Lucifer who presided over the flock in the island of Sardinia, were living in the Thebaid on the frontier of Egypt, whither they had been relegated by Constantius. They now met with the rest whose views were the same and affirmed that the churches ought to be brought into harmony. For they not only suffered from the assaults of their opponents, but were at variance with one another. In Antioch the sound body of the church had been split in two; at one and the same time they who from the beginning, for the sake of the right worthy Eustathius, had separated from the rest, were assembling by themselves; and they who with the admirable Meletius had held aloof from the Arian faction were performing divine service in what is called the Palæa. Both parties used one confession of faith, for both parties were champions of the doctrine laid down at Nicæa. All that separated them was their mutual quarrel, and their regard for their respective leaders; and even the death of one of these did not put a stop to the strife. Eustathius died before the election of Meletius, and the orthodox party, after the exile of Meletius and the election of Euzoius, separated from the communion of the impious, and assembled by themselves; with these, the party called Eustathians could not be induced to unite. To effect an union between them the Eusebians and Luciferians sought to discover a means. Accordingly Eusebius besought Lucifer to repair to Alexandria and take counsel on the matter with the great Athanasius, intending himself to undertake the labour of bringing about a reconciliation.
Lucifer however did not go to Alexandria but repaired to Antioch. There he urged many arguments in behalf of concord on both parties. The Eustathians, led by Paulinus, a presbyter, persisted in opposition. On seeing this Lucifer took the improper course of consecrating Paulinus as their bishop.
This action on the part of Lucifer prolonged the feud, which lasted for eighty-five years, until the episcopate of the most praise-worthy Alexander.
No sooner was the helm of the church at Antioch put into his hands than he tried every expedient, and brought to bear great zeal and energy for the promotion of concord, and thus joined the severed limb to the rest of the body of the church. At the time in question however Lucifer made the quarrel worse and spent a considerable time in Antioch, and Eusebius when he arrived on the spot and learnt that bad doctoring had made the malady very hard to heal, sailed away to the West.
When Lucifer returned to Sardinia he made certain additions to the dogmas of the church and those who accepted them were named after him, and for a considerable time were called Luciferians. But in time the flame of this dogma too went out and it was consigned to oblivion. Such were the events that followed on the return of the bishops.
- The accession of Julian was made known in Alexandria at the end of Nov. 361, and the Pagans at once rose against George, imprisoned him, and at last on Dec. 24, brutally beat and kicked him to death. The Arians appointed a successor—Lucius, but on Feb. 22 Athanasius once more appeared among his faithful flock, and lost no time in getting a Council for the settlement of several moot points of discipline and doctrine, which Theodoret proceeds to enumerate.
- i.e.of Vercellæ. Vide p. 76. From Scythopolis he had been removed to Cappadocia, and thence to the Thebaid, whence he wrote a letter, still extant, to Gregory, bp. of Elvira in Spain.
- Valesius supposes Hilary of Poictiers to be mentioned here, though he recognises the difficulty of the “ὁ ἐκ τῆς ᾽Ιταλίας,” and would alter the text to meet it. Possibly this is the Hilary who is said to have been bishop of Pavia from 358 to 376, and may be the “Sanctus Hilarius” of Aug. Cont. duas Epist. Pelag iv. 4. 7. cf. article Ambrosiaster in Dict. Christ. Biog.
- cf. p. 76, note. Lucifer, bishop of Cagliari, had first been relegated in 355 to Eleutheropolis, (a town of the 3d C., in Palestine, about 20 m. west of Jerusalem) whence he wrote the controversial pamphlets still extant. He vigorously abused Constantius, to whom he paid the compliment of sending a copy of his work. The emperor appears to have retorted by having him removed to the Thebaid, whence he returned in 361.
- cf. p. 41. Eustathius died about 337, at Philippi,—probably about six years after his deposition. Alexander, an ascetic (cf. post, V. Ch. 35) did not become bishop of Antioch till 413.
- The raison d’etre of the Luciferians as a distinct party was their unwillingness to accept communion with men who had ever lapsed into Arianism. Jerome gives 371 as the date of Lucifer’s death. “To what extent he was an actual schismatic remains obscure.” St. Ambrose remarks that “he had separated himself from our communion,” (de excessu Satyri 1127, 47) and St. Augustine that “he fell into the darkness of schism, having lost the light of charity.” (Ep. 185 n. 47.) But there is no mention of any separation other than Lucifer’s own repulsion of so many ecclesiastics; and Jerome in his dialogue against the Luciferians (§20) calls him “beatus and bonus pastor.” J. Ll. Davies in Dict. Christ. Biog. s.v.