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not completely corrected. EWTN has corrected all discovered errors.)
EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA
LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF HIS DIOCESE.
[Translated by J. H. Newman, revised by substituting "essence" for
"substance" (ousi'a) and altering the translation of genhto's by
1. What was transacted concerning ecclesiastical faith at the Great
Council assembled at Nicaea, you have probably learned, Beloved, from other
sources, rumour being wont to precede the accurate account of what is
doing. But lest in such reports the circumstances of the case have been
misrepresented, we have been obliged to transmit to you, first, the formula
of faith presented by ourselves, and next, the second, which [the Fathers]
put forth with some additions to our words. Our own paper, then, which was
read in the presence of our most pious  Emperor, and declared to be good
and unexceptionable, ran thus :--
2. "As we have received from the Bishops who preceded us, and in our
first catechisings, and when we received the Holy Layer, and as we have
learned from the divine Scriptures, and as we believed and taught in the
presbytery, and in the Episcopate itself, so believing also at the time
present, we report to you our faith, and it is this :--
3. "We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of all things
visible and invisible. And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, God
from God, Light from Light, Life from Life, Son Only-begotten, first-born
of every creature, before all the ages, begotten from the Father, by Whom
also all things were made; Who for our salvation was made flesh, and lived
among men, and suffered, and rose again the third day, and ascended to the
Father, and will come again in glory to judge the quick and dead. And we
believe also in One Holy Ghost:
"believing each of these to be and to exist, the Father truly Father,
and the Son truly Son, and the Holy Ghost truly Holy Ghost, as also our
Lord, sending forth His disciples for the preaching, said, "Go teach all
nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of
the Holy Ghost ." Concerning Whom we confidently affirm that so we
hold, and so we think, and so we have held aforetime, and we maintain this
faith unto the death, anathematizing every godless heresy. That this we
have ever thought from our heart and soul, from the time we recollect
ourselves, and now think and say in truth, before God Almighty and our Lord
Jesus Christ do we witness, being able by proofs to shew and to convince
you, that, even in times past, such has been our belief and preaching."
4. On this faith being publicly put forth by us, no room for
contradiction appeared; but our most pious Emperor, before any one else,
testified that it comprised most orthodox statements. He confessed moreover
that such were his own sentiments, and he advised all present to agree to
it, and to subscribe its articles and to assent to them, with the insertion
of the single word, One-in-essence, which moreover he interpreted as not in
the sense of the affections of bodies, nor as if the Son subsisted from the
Father in the way of division, or any severance; for that the immaterial,
and intellectual, and incorporeal nature could not be the subject of any
corporeal affection, but that it became us to conceive of such things in a
divine and ineffable manner. And such were the theological remarks of our
most wise and most religious Emperor; but they, with a view (4a) to the
addition of One in essence, drew up the following formula:--
The Faith dictated in the Council.
"We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things
visible and invisible:--
"And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father,
Only-begotten, that is, from the essence of the Father; God from God, Light
from Light, Very God from Very God, begotten not made, One in essence with
the Father, by Whom all things were made, both things in heaven and things
in earth; Who for us men and for our salvation came down and was made
flesh, was made man, suffered, and rose again the third day, ascended into
heaven, and cometh to judge quick and dead.
"And in the Holy Ghost.
"And those who say, 'Once He was not,' and 'Before His generation He
was not,' and 'He came to be from nothing,' or those who pretend that the
Son of God is 'Of other subsistence or essence (4b),' or 'created' or
alterable,' or 'mutable,' the Catholic Church anathematizes."
5. On their dictating this formula, we did not let it pass without
inquiry in what sense they introduced" of the essence of the Father," and
"one in essence with the Father." Accordingly questions and explanations
took place, and the meaning of the words underwent the scrutiny of reason.
And they professed, that the phrase "of the essence" was indicative of the
Son's being indeed from the Father, yet without being as if a part of Him.
And with this understanding we thought good to assent to the sense of such
religious doctrine, teaching, as it did, that the Son was from the Father,
not however a part of His essence (5). On this account we assented to the
sense ourselves, without declining even the term "One in essence," peace
being the object which we set before us, and stedfastness in the orthodox
6. In the same way we also admitted "begotten, not made;" since the
Council alleged that "made" was an appellative common to the other
creatures which came to be through the Son, to whom the Son had no
likeness. Wherefore, say they, He was not a work resembling the things
which through Him came to be (6), but was of an essence which is too high
for the level of any work; and which the Divine oracles teach to have been
generated from the Father 7, the mode of generation being inscrutable and
incalculable to every originated nature.
7. And so too on examination there are grounds for saying that the Son
is "one in essence" with the Father; not in the way of bodies, nor like
mortal beings, for He is not such by division of essence, or by severance
no nor by any affection, or alteration, or changing of the Father's essence
and power s (since from all such the unoriginate nature of the Father is
alien), but because "one in essence with the Father" suggests that the Son
of God bears no resemblance to the originated creatures, but that to His
Father alone Who begat Him is He in every way assimilated, and that He is
not of any other subsistence and essence, but from the Father (9). To which
term also, thus interpreted, it appeared well to assent; since we were
aware that even among the ancients, some learned and illustrious Bishops
and writers (1) have used the term "one in essence," in their theological
teaching concerning the Father and Son.
8. So much then be said concerning the faith which was published; to
which all of us assented, not without inquiry, but according to the
specified senses, mentioned before the most religious Emperor himself, and
justified by thee forementioned considerations. And as to the anathematism
published by them at the end of the Faith, it did not pain us, because it
forbade to use words not in Scripture, from which almost all the confusion
and disorder of the Church have come. Since then no divinely inspired
Scripture has used the phrases, "out of nothing," and "once He was not,"
and the rest which follow, there appeared no ground for using or teaching
them; to which also we assented as a good decision, since it had not been
our custom hitherto to use these terms.
9. Moreover to anathematize "Before His generation He was not," did not
seem preposterous, in that it is confessed by all, that the Son of God was
before the generation according to the flesh (2).
10. Nay, our most religious Emperor did at the time prove, in a speech,
that He was in being even according to His divine generation which is
before all ages, since even before He was generated in energy, He was in
virtue (3) with the Father ingenerately, the Father being always Father, as
King always, and Saviour always, being all things in virtue, and being
always in the same respects and in the same way.
11. This we have been forced to transmit to you, Beloved, as making
clear to you the deliberation of our inquiry and assent, and how reasonably
we resisted even to the last minute as long as we were offended at
statements which differed from our own, but received without contention
what no longer pained us, as soon as, on a candid examination of the sense
of the words, they appeared to us to coincide with what we ourselves have
professed in the faith which we have already published.
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published
by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in
1867. (LNPF II/IV, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The
Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.