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Cyril Lectures 1845

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S. CYRIL, the author of the Catechetical Lectures which follow, was born in an age ill adapted for the comfort or satisfaction of persons distinguished by his peculiar character of mind, and in consequence did not receive that justice from contemporaries which the Church Catholic has since rendered to his memory. The Churches of Palestine, apparently his native country, were the first to give reception to Arius on his expulsion from Alexandria, and without adopting his heresy, affected to mediate and hold the balance between him and his accusers. They were followed in this line of conduct by the provinces of Syria and Asia Minor, till the whole of the East, as far as it was Grecian, became more or less a large party, enduring to be headed by men who went the whole length of Arianisın, from a fear of being considered Alexandrians or Athanasians, and a notion, for one reason or other, that it was thus pursuing a moderate course, and avoiding extremes. What were the motives which led to this perverted view of its duty to Catholic truth, then so seriously endangered, and what the palliations in the case of individuals, need not be minutely considered here. Suffice it to say, that between the Churches of Asia and the metropolis of Egypt there had been distinctions, not to say differences and jealousies of long standing; to which was added this great and real difficulty, that a Council held at Antioch about sixty years before had condemned the very term, Homoüsion, which was the symbol received at Nicæa, and maintained by the Alexandrians. The latter were in close agreement with the


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Latin Church, especially with Rome; and thus two great confederacies, as they may be called, were matured at this distressing era, which outlived the controversy forming them, the Roman, including the West and Egypt, and the Asiatic, extending from Constantinople to Jerusalem. Of the Roman party, viewed at and after the Arian period, were Alexander, Athanasius, Eustathius, Marcellus, Julius, Ambrose, and Jerome; of the Asiatic, Eusebius of Cæsarea, Cyril, Meletius, Eusebius of Samosata, Basil of Cæsarea (the Great), Basil of Ancyra, Eustathius of Sebaste, and Flavian. Of the latter, some were Semi-arian; of the former, one at least was Sabellian; while the majority of both were, to say the least, strictly orthodox; some of the latter indeed acquiescing with more or less of cordiality in the expediency of adopting the important Symbol of the Nicene Council, but others, it need scarcely be said, on both sides, being pillars of the Church in their day, as they have been her lights since. Such was the general position of the Church; and it is only confessing that the early Bishops and Divines were men“of like passions with” ourselves, to add, that some of them sometimes misunderstood or were prejudiced against others, and have left on record reports, for the truth of which they trusted perhaps too much to their antecedent persuasions, or the representations of their own friends. When Arianism ceased to be supported by the civil power, the controversy between East and West died; and peace was easily effected. And the terms of effecting it were these:-the reception of the Homoüsion by the Asiatics, and on that reception their recognition, in spite of their past scruples, by the Alexandrians and Latins. In this sketch the main outlines of S. Cyril's history will be found to be contained; he seems to have been afraid of the term Homoüsion', to have been disinclined both to the friends of Athanasius and to the Arians, to have allowed the tyranny of the latter, to have shared in the general reconciliation, and at length both in life and death to have received honours from the

a v. Bened. note iv. 7. xvi, 23.

b Lect. iv. 8. xi. 12, 16, 17. xv. 9.

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