Two other points remain to be noticed in the history of the third century. Dionysius of Alexandria, in his zeal against the Sabellians, had used language which was, to say the least, incautious, and was interpreted as denying the co-essential Divinity of our Lord. The close connection between Rome and Alexandria led some "brethren" to complain of him to his namesake Dionysius, [1] the only theologian in


three centuries among the occupants of the so-called "infallible chair." Thereupon the Roman prelate held a synod, which probably approved the term "co-essential," though it does not appear in an extant fragment of his treatise or letter against the Sabellians. [2] The Alexandrian bishop - a model of candour, gentleness, [3] and all episcopal excellences - explained that he had not rejected the term, and had used words equivalent to it. And this explanation was deemed satisfactory. It should be added that the word "entreating," [4] used by him some four years earlier as to his remonstrance with Stephen in the baptismal controversy, might well represent his humble and charitable temper, without implying anything like submission. The same context dwells on "very large synods of bishops" as having taken a different line from the Roman. [5]


And when he asks Stephen's successor for his "opinion" on a peculiar and difficult case, on which he is "afraid of making a mistake," it is the "advice" of a "brother "that he seeks; [6] the words exclude the notion of applying to a supreme authority for orders, or leaning, as our Roman author words it, on "the guidance of the Holy See."


[1] This we learn from St. Athanasius, De Sententia Dionysii, 13 ff., and De Synod. 44. They may have been Egyptian bishops; but see Tillemont, iv. 279.

[2] See it in Routh, Rell. Sacr. iii. 373. Athanasius makes Dionysius "express the mind" of the synod to his namesake.

[3] "There is none of the early fathers who impresses me more favourably as a man of earnest piety, good sense, moderation, and Christian charity" (Salmon, Introd. to N.T., p. 272).

[4] Mr. Rivington characteristically amplifies deomenos (Euseb. vii. 5) into "prayers and entreaties" (p. 81).

[5] Euseb. vii. 5. Yet Mr. Rivington has represented Stephen as "feeling compelled," as successor of St. Peter, "to insist on conformity in Africa to the custom followed in Rome" (p. 96).

[6] Euseb. vii. 9.