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De Decretis or Defence of the Nicene Definition

Chapter I. -- Introduction. The complaint of the Arians against the Nicene Council; their fickleness; they are like Jews; their employment of force instead of reason.

1. Thou hast done well, in signifying to me the discussion thou hast had with the advocates of Arianism, among whom were certain of the friends of Eusebius, as well as very many of the brethren who hold the doctrine of the Church. I hailed thy vigilance for the love of Christ, which excellently exposed the irreligion of their heresy; while I marvelled at the effrontery which led the Arians, after all the past detection of unsoundness and futility in their arguments, nay, after the general conviction of their extreme perverseness, still to complain like the Jews, |Why did the Fathers at Nicæa use terms not in Scripture , Of the essence' and One in essence?'| Thou then, as a man of learning, in spite of their subterfuges, didst convict them of talking to no purpose; and they in devising them were but acting suitably to their own evil disposition. For they are as variable and fickle in their sentiments, as chameleons in their colours ; and when exposed they look confused, and when questioned they hesitate, and then they lose shame, and betake themselves to evasions. And then, when detected in these, they do not rest till they invent fresh matters which are not, and, according to the Scripture, imagine a vain thing '; and all that they may be constant to their irreligion.

Now such endeavours are nothing else than an obvious token of their defect of reason , and a copying, as I have said, of Jewish malignity. For the Jews too, when convicted by the Truth, and unable to confront it, used evasions, such as, What sign doest Thou, that we may see and believe Thee? What dost Thou work ? though so many signs were given, that they said themselves, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles .' In truth, dead men were raised, lame walked, blind saw afresh, lepers were cleansed, and the water became wine, and five loaves satisfied five thousand, and all wondered and worshipped the Lord, confessing that in Him were fulfilled the prophecies, and that He was God the Son of God; all but the Pharisees, who, though the signs shone brighter than the sun, yet complained still, as ignorant men, Why dost Thou, being a man, make Thyself God ?' Insensate, and verily blind in understanding! they ought contrariwise to have said, |Why hast Thou, being God, become man?| for His works proved Him God, that they might both worship the goodness of the Father, and admire the Son's Economy for our sakes. However, this they did not say; no, nor liked to witness what He was doing; or they witnessed indeed, for this they could not help, but they changed their ground of complaint again, |Why healest Thou the paralytic, why makest Thou the born-blind to see, on the sabbath day?| But this too was an excuse, and mere murmuring; for on other days as well did the Lord heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease ,' but they complained still according to their wont, and by calling Him Beelzebub, preferred the suspicion of Atheism , to a recantation of their own wickedness. And though in such sundry times and divers manners the Saviour shewed His Godhead and preached the Father to all men, nevertheless, as kicking against the pricks, they contradicted in the language of folly, and this they did, according to the divine proverb, that by finding occasions, they might separate themselves from the truth .

2. As then the Jews of that day, for acting thus wickedly and denying the Lord, were with justice deprived of their laws and of the promise made to their fathers, so the Arians, Judaizing now, are, in my judgment, in circumstances like those of Caiaphas and the contemporary Pharisees. For, perceiving that their heresy is utterly unreasonable, they invent excuses, |Why was this defined, and not that?| Yet wonder not if now they practise thus; for in no long time they will turn to outrage, and next will threaten the band and the captain .' Forsooth in these their heterodoxy has its support, as we see; for denying the Word of God, reason have they none at all, as is equitable. Aware then of this, I would have made no reply to their interrogations: but, since thy friendliness has asked to know the transactions of the Council, I have without any delay related at once what then took place, shewing in few words, how destitute Arianism is of a religious spirit, and how their one business is to frame evasions.

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