(XII.) THE COUNCIL OF SARDICA.

The genuineness of the canons ascribed to the Sardican Council of 343 is open to some doubt, inasmuch as canons passed by that great Western synod [1] would ordinarily have been circulated throughout the West, and this would

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have prevented St. Augustine, and the African Church in his time, from confounding the "Sardican Council" with the Arian "conciliabulum" of seceders to Philippopolis, which usurped its name and its rights in a circular letter. [2] But for our present purpose, the canons in question may be assumed to be really Sardican; and one need not spend time in discussing the bold hypothesis that four Roman bishops of the fifth century who persisted in calling them "Nicene" - we shall see ere long from what motive - were stating the literal fact as to their origin. [3] Another theory, somewhat

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less adventurous, would explain the description of them as "Nicene" by assuming that they were considered an "appendix and explication of Nicene directions," and so "were part and parcel of the Nicene settlement," as the "Constantinopolitan" recension of the Creed was "virtually contained in its Nicene" form. Well, we know what that "Nicene" form was; what do we know of any Nicene rulings which could stand in such a relation to the Sardican? and what authority had the Sardican Council, not being cecumenical, to accredit an appendix to Nicene laws? The words ascribed in one of these canons to bishop Hosius, and presently to be considered, are incompatible with the theory. And as for the suggestion that Popes might keep on "speaking of them as Nicene to Africans," in order to avoid confusion with the Pseudo-Sardican "conciliabulum," it is utterly hopeless. These "Popes" did not say, "The true Sardican Council was orthodox, and its rules are a legitimate explanation or development of the Nicene;" what they said was, "These

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rules are Nicene;" and they knew well how that assertion would be understood. But now for the provisions in regard to the see of Rome contained in the third, fourth, and fifth canons. They are introduced by a proposal on the part of Hosius; "If it is your pleasure, let us honour the memory of Peter the Apostle;" a phrase which is incompatible with an ancient right acknowledged on all hands. [4] But what is the power thus given, de novo, to Julius [5] of Rome, or to any "Roman bishop"? It comes to this: a

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bishop deposed by his provincial synod may demand a new trial, and appeal to the bishop of Rome for that purpose (can. 4,5); in which case his comprovincial judges shall also write to the same bishop (can. 3), who, if he deems the appeal reasonable, may send the case to the bishops of the next adjacent province, and, at the appellant's special request, may depute one or more presbyters de latere suo to act with them, as "holding his authority," [6] and the previous deposition shall not take effect until it has been reaffirmed by such a tribunal.

The first remark to be made is suggested by Mr. Rivington's assertion that "these canons do indeed condition appeals to Rome, but they assume their necessity, - do not inaugurate them," but "suppose that there will be" such appeals.

There is no warrant for such a statement: the probability of appeals to some quarter is indeed supposed, and it is deemed desirable to provide for them: but that they should be made to Rome is not a presupposition, but a "condition." Next the "appellate jurisdiction," if so it is to be called, thus conceded to the bishop of Rome, is in four respects limited. He may not evoke

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the cause, motu proprio, to Rome. [7] He may not, motu proprio, call the provincial synod to account. He may not form the new tribunal at his own pleasure. He may not decide the case personally. The power, in fact, is much less than was given by the Council of Chalcedon in such cases to the "exarch" or primate, - as superior to the metropolitans of his "dioecese," - or to "the see of Constantinople." One is really surprised at the complacency with which such provisions as these (natural enough at the time) are adduced as serviceable in controversy to the cause of a Papal sovereignty. They are not only inadequate, but actually damaging. St. Hilary [8] gives a Latin version of a letter, said to be addressed by the Council to Julius, and containing the sentence, "For this will seem best and 'valde congruentissimum, si ad caput, id est ad Petri apostoli sedem, de singulis quibusque provinciis Domini referant sacerdotes.'" Hefele admits that it does not come in naturally, but "interrupts the train of

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thought." Yet, if it be genuine, it does not go beyond what would be natural for Westerns to say of the great primatial and sole "apostolical" see in the West.

Notes

[1] As at Nicaea, so at Sardica, Hosius presided, and signed first: then "Julius of Rome by his presbyters Archidamus and Philoxemus" (Ath. Apol. c. Ari. 50).

[2] "Sardicense concilium Arianorum fuit, quod totum (qu. notum) jamdiu est, ut habemus in manibus, contractum maxime contra Athanasium," S. Aug. c. Crescon. iii. s.38. - ... Quod quidem concilium, ne te lateat, Arianonum est" (ib. iv. s.52). So in his Ep. 44. s.6. The old ecclesiastical historians know nothing of canons, but only of synodical letters, as put forth by the true Sardican Council. Cf. S. Athan. Apol. c. Ari. 37 ff. But in a letter of the Constantinopolitan council of 382 a "Nicene rule" is quoted, as to inviting "the bishops of the bordering territory" to meet the bishops of a province when assembled for the consecration of a new colleague (Theodoret, v. 9). This is not "Nicene," but has a resemblance to a sentence in the seventh Sandican canon, but only in its Creek text. However, Gratus of Carthage in 348 said he "remembered" a Sardican decree which is like Sard. 19 (or 15).

[3] This is the theory which Mr. Rivington, in p. 178, describes as "quite possible," but in p. 473 adopts as "the most satisfactory," although he considers the one next mentioned to be "perfectly tenable" (p. 473). He accordingly supposes the Sardican "provisions" about appeals to have been Nicene in very deed, but "preserved, after a while, at Rome only, the home of accuracy, the metropolis of canonical lore." Among the many extraordinary assertions in which his volume abounds, these words may take a foremost place. In his view, the sixth Nicene canon originally contained such directions. Why then did the Roman "legate" at Chalcedon read it without them?

[4] Hefele denies this, on the ground that "si placet" is often used in formulating a doctrinal decree, which must express an old truth: and that "every acknowledgment even of an ancient papal right is always made out of reverence to St. Peter." But (a) the matter in question is not doctrinal, but merely one of judiciary administration. (b) The reference to St. Peter's memory is made without any salvo, or even an implicit intimation that "an acknowledged papal right is being referred to," and in the circumstanees such a salvo would have been absolutely necessary. Mr. Rivington contends that this reference pertains merely to the third canon, which does not deal with appeals to Rome strictly so called. But in all reason it must be read with all the following provisions that refer to Rome, as recommending them for adoption.

[5] This name is in the Greek text (on which see Hefele, ii. 108, s. 64.) and in the Vetus and the Dionysian. The Prisca and Isidorian give no name. Mr. Rivington tells his readers that "some copies have 'Sylvester,'" which would suit his theory. He does not tell them that no good edition admits this reading, and that a note to the Codes Canonum in the appendix to St. Leo's works says bluntly: "Nomen Sylvestro pro Julio substitutum est ... ut congrueret cum tempore Nicaenae synodi."

[6] It is going beyond the text to assume, as does Hefele, that this means presiding in the court.

[7] It is not true that "Julius told the Eusebians that they ought to come to Rome, and have their cause tried there (in exact accordance with the provisions of the so-called Sardican canons)." These provisions do not go that length, and Julius' "exhortation" was in reply to the Eusebians' own "request" (Ath. Apol. c. Ari. 20, 22).

[8] Fragm. ii. 9-13.