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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

With the illustrations of Baronius


Nestorius,

[30] native of Germanicia, and a monk of Antioch, was recommended by the austerity of his life, and the eloquence of his sermons; but the first homily which he preached before the devout Theodosius betrayed the acrimony and impatience of his zeal. "Give me, O Caesar!" he exclaimed, "give me the earth purged of heretics, and I will give you in exchange the kingdom of heaven. Exterminate with me the heretics; and with you I will exterminate the Persians." On the fifth day as if the treaty had been already signed, the patriarch of Constantinople discovered, surprised, and attacked a secret conventicle of the Arians: they preferred death to submission; the flames that were kindled by their despair, soon spread to the neighboring houses, and the triumph of Nestorius was clouded by the name of incendiary. On either side of the Hellespont his episcopal vigor imposed a rigid formulary of faith and discipline; a chronological error concerning the festival of Easter was punished as an offence against the church and state. Lydia and Caria, Sardes and Miletus, were purified with the blood of the obstinate Quartodecimans; and the edict of the emperor, or rather of the patriarch, enumerates three-and-twenty degrees and denominations in the guilt and punishment of heresy. [31] But the sword of persecution which Nestorius so furiously wielded was soon turned against his own breast. Religion was the pretence; but, in the judgment of a contemporary saint, ambition was the genuine motive of episcopal
warfare. [32]

[Footnote 28: He was deaf to the entreaties of Atticus of Constantinople, and of Isidore of Pelusium, and yielded only (if we may believe Nicephorus, l. xiv. c. 18) to the personal intercession of the Virgin. Yet in his last years he still muttered that John Chrysostom had been justly condemned, (Tillemont, Mem. Eccles. tom. xiv. p. 278--282. Baronius Annal. Eccles. A.D. 412, No. 46--64.)]

[Footnote 29: See their characters in the history of Socrates, (l. vii. c. 25--28;) their power and pretensions, in the huge compilation of Thomassin, (Discipline de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 80-91.)]

[Footnote 30: His elevation and conduct are described by Socrates, (l. vii. c. 29 31;) and Marcellinus seems to have applied the eloquentiae satis, sapi entiae parum, of Sallust.]

[Footnote 31: Cod. Theodos. l. xvi. tit. v. leg. 65, with the illustrations of Baronius, (A.D. 428, No. 25, &c.,) Godefroy, (ad locum,) and Pagi, Critica, (tom. ii. p. 208.)]

[Footnote 32: Isidore of Pelusium, (l. iv. Epist. 57.) His words are strong and scandalous. Isidore is a saint, but he never became a bishop; and I half suspect that the pride of Diogenes trampled on the pride of Plato.]

In the Syrian school, Nestorius had been taught to abhor the confusion of the two natures, and nicely to discriminate the humanity of his master Christ from the divinity of the Lord Jesus. [33] The Blessed Virgin he revered as the mother of Christ, but his ears were offended with the rash and recent title of mother of God, [34] which had been insensibly adopted since the origin of the Arian controversy.


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