Chapter XXIV.—Synodical Epistle written against Aetius.
After these transactions the emperor ordered Aetius to be condemned by a formal Letter, and, in obedience to the command, his companions in iniquity condemned their own associate. Accordingly they wrote to Georgius, bishop of Alexandria, the letter about him to which I shall give a place in my history, in order to expose their wickedness, for they treated their friends and their foes precisely in the same way.
Copy of the Letter written by the whole council to Georgius against Aetius his deacon, on account of his iniquitous blasphemy.
To the right honourable Lord Georgius, Bishop of Alexandria, the holy Synod in Constantinople assembled, Greeting.
In consequence of the condemnation of Aetius by the Synod, on account of his unlawful and most offensive writings, he has been dealt with by the bishops in accordance with the canons of the church. He has been degraded from the diaconate and expelled from the Church, and our admonitions have gone forth that none are to read his unlawful epistles, but that on account of their unprofitable and worthless character they are to be cast aside. We have further appended an anathema on him, if he abides in his opinion, and on his supporters.
It would naturally have followed that all the bishops met together in the Synod should have felt detestation of, and approved the sentence delivered against, a man who is the author of offences, disturbances and schisms, of agitation over all the world, and of rising of church against church. But in spite of our prayers, and against all our expectation, Seras, Stephanus, Heliodorus and Theophilus and their party 579 have not voted with us, and have not even consented to subscribe the sentence delivered against him, although Seras charged the aforenamed Aetius with another instance of insane arrogance, alleging that he, with still bolder impudence, had sprung forward to declare that what God had concealed from the Apostles had been now revealed to him. Even after these wild and boastful words, reported by Seras about Aetius, the aforenamed bishops were not put out of countenance, nor could they be induced to vote with us on his condemnation. We however with much long suffering bore with them 580 for a great length of time, now indignant, now beseeching, now importuning them to join with us and make the decision of the Synod unanimous; and we persevered long in the hope that they might hear and agree and give in. But when in spite of all this patience we could not shame them into acceptance of our declarations against the aforesaid offender, we counted the rule of the church more precious than the friendship of men, and pronounced against them a decree of excommunication, allowing them a period of six mouths for conversion, repentance, and the expression of a desire for union and harmony with the synod. If within the given time they should turn and accept agreement with their brethren and assent to the decrees about Aetius, we decided that they should be received into the church, to the recovery of their own authority in synods, and our affection. If however they obstinately persisted, and preferred human friendship to the p. 90 canons of the church and our affection, then we judged them deposed from the rank of the bishops. If they suffer degradation it is necessary to appoint other bishops in their place, that the lawful church may be duly ordered and at unity with herself, while all the bishops of every nation by uttering the same doctrine with one mind and one counsel preserve the bond of love.
To acquaint you with the decree of the Synod we have sent these present to your reverence, and pray that you may abide by them, and by the grace of Christ rule the churches under you aright and in peace.
Seras, or Serras, had been an Arian leader in Libya. In 356 Serras, together with Secundus, deposed bishop of Ptolemais, proposed to consecrate Aetius; he refused on the ground that they were tainted with Orthodoxy. Phil. iii. 19. In 359 he subscribed the decrees of Seleucia as bishop of Parætonium (Al Bareton W. of Alexandria) (Epiph. Hær. lxxiii. 20). Now he is deposed (360) by the Constantinopolitan Synod. Vide Dict. Christ. Biog. s.v.
Stephanus, a Libyan bishop ordained by Secundus of Ptolemais, and concerned with him in the murder of the Presbyter Secundus, as described by Athan. in Hist. Ar. §65 cf. Ath. de Syn. §12.
Heliodorus was Arian bishop of Apollonia or Sozysa (Shahfah) in Libya Prima. cf. LeQuien Or. Ch. ii. 617.
Theophilus, previously bishop of Eleutheropolis in Palestine, was translated, against his vow of fidelity to that see, (Soz. iv. 24) to Castabala in Cilicia. On the place Vide Bp. Lightfoot. Ap. Fathers Pt. ii. Vol. III. 136.89:580
συμπεριηνέχθημεν is the suggestion of Valesius for συμπεριεψηθίσθημεν, a word of no authority.