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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Are sullied with the false and prescribed reading of Concil


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these scandalous offences, Dioscorus was deposed by the synod, and banished by the emperor; but the purity of his faith was declared in the presence, and with the tacit approbation, of the fathers. Their prudence supposed rather than pronounced the heresy of Eutyches, who was never summoned before their tribunal; and they sat silent and abashed, when a bold Monophysite casting at their feet a volume of Cyril, challenged them to anathematize in his person the doctrine of the saint. If we fairly peruse the acts of Chalcedon as they are recorded by the orthodox party, [64] we shall find that a great majority of the bishops embraced the simple unity of Christ; and the ambiguous concession that he was formed Of or From two natures, might imply either their previous existence, or their subsequent confusion, or some dangerous interval between the conception of the man and the assumption of the God. The Roman theology, more positive and precise, adopted the term most offensive to the ears of the Egyptians, that Christ existed In two natures; and this momentous particle [65] (which the memory, rather than the understanding, must retain) had almost produced a schism among the Catholic bishops. The tome of Leo had been respectfully, perhaps sincerely, subscribed; but they protested, in two successive debates, that it was neither expedient nor lawful to transgress the sacred landmarks which had been fixed at Nice, Constantinople, and Ephesus, according to the rule of Scripture and tradition.
At length they yielded to the importunities of their masters; but their infallible decree, after it had been ratified with deliberate votes and vehement acclamations, was overturned in the next session by the opposition of the legates and their Oriental friends. It was in vain that a multitude of episcopal voices repeated in chorus, "The definition of the fathers is orthodox and immutable! The heretics are now discovered! Anathema to the Nestorians! Let them depart from the synod! Let them repair to Rome." [66] The legates threatened, the emperor was absolute, and a committee of eighteen bishops prepared a new decree, which was imposed on the reluctant assembly. In the name of the fourth general council, the Christ in one person, but in two natures, was announced to the Catholic world: an invisible line was drawn between the heresy of Apollinaris and the faith of St. Cyril; and the road to paradise, a bridge as sharp as a razor, was suspended over the abyss by the master-hand of the theological artist. During ten centuries of blindness and servitude, Europe received her religious opinions from the oracle of the Vatican; and the same doctrine, already varnished with the rust of antiquity, was admitted without dispute into the creed of the reformers, who disclaimed the supremacy of the Roman pontiff. The synod of Chalcedon still triumphs in the Protestant churches; but the ferment of controversy has subsided, and the most pious Christians of the present day are ignorant, or careless, of their own belief concerning the mystery of the incarnation.

[Footnote 64: Those who reverence the infallibility of synods, may try to ascertain their sense. The leading bishops were attended by partial or careless scribes, who dispersed their copies round the world. Our Greek Mss. are sullied with the false and prescribed reading of (Concil. tom. iii. p. 1460:) the authentic translation of Pope Leo I. does not seem to have been executed, and the old Latin versions materially differ from the present Vulgate, which was revised (A.D. 550) by Rusticus, a Roman priest, from the best Mss. at Constantinople, (Ducange, C. P. Christiana, l. iv. p. 151,) a famous monastery of Latins, Greeks, and Syrians. See Concil. tom. iv. p. 1959--2049, and Pagi, Critica, tom. ii. p. 326, &c.]

[Footnote 65: It is darkly represented in the microscope of Petavius, (tom. v. l. iii. c. 5;) yet the subtle theologian is himself afraid--ne quis fortasse supervacaneam, et nimis anxiam putet hujusmodi vocularum inquisitionem, et ab instituti theologici gravitate alienam, (p. 124.)]


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