How was an individual inquirer to find, or a private Christian to keep the Truth, amid so many rival teachers? The misfortunes or perils of holy men and saints show us the difficulty; St. Augustine was nine years a Manichee; St. Basil for a time was in admiration of the Semi-arians; St. Sulpicius gave a momentary countenance to the Pelagians; St. Paula listened, and Melania assented, to the Origenists. Yet the rule was simple, which would direct every one right; and in that age, at least, no one could be wrong, for any long time without his own fault. The Church is everywhere, but it is one; sects are everywhere, but they are many, independent and discordant. Catholicity is the attribute of the Church, independency of sectaries. It is true that some sects might seem almost Catholic in their diffusion; Novatians or Marcionites were in all quarters of the empire; yet it is hardly more than the name, or the general doctrine or philosophy, that was universal: the different portions which professed it seem to have been bound together by no strict or definite tie. The Church might be evanescent or lost for a while in particular countries, or it might be levelled and buried among sects, when the eye was confined to one spot, or it might be confronted by the one and same heresy in various places; but, on looking round the orbis terrarum, there was no mistaking that body which, and which alone, had possession of it. The Church is a kingdom; a heresy is a family rather than a kingdom; and as a family continually divides and sends out branches, founding new houses, and propagating itself in colonies, each of them as independent as its original head, so was it with heresy. Simon Magus, the first heretic, had been Patriarch of Menandrians, Basilidians, Valentinians, and the whole family of Gnostics; Tatian of Encratites, Severians, Aquarians, Apotactites, and Saccophori. The Montanists had been propagated into Tascodrugites, Pepuzians, Artotyrites, and Quartodecimans. Eutyches, in a later time, gave birth to the Dioscorians, Gaianites, Theodosians, Agnoetæ, Theopaschites, Acephali, Semidalitæ, Nagranitæ, Jacobites, and others. This is the uniform history of heresy. The patronage of the civil power might for a time counteract the law of its nature, but it showed it as soon as that obstacle was removed. Scarcely was Arianism deprived of the churches of Constantinople, and left to itself, than it split in that very city into the Dorotheans, the Psathyrians, and the Curtians; and the Eunomians into the Theophronians and Eutychians. One fourth part of the Donatists speedily became Maximinianists; and besides these were the Rogatians, the Primianists, the Urbanists, and the Claudianists. If such was the fecundity of the heretical principle in one place, it is not to be supposed that Novatians or Marcionites in Africa or the East would feel themselves bound to think or to act with their fellow-sectaries of Rome or Constantinople; and the great varieties or inconsistencies of statement, which have come down to us concerning the tenets of heresies, may thus be explained. ....

In one point alone the heresies seem universally to have agreed,—in hatred to the Church. This might at that time be considered one of her surest and most obvious Notes. She was that body of which all sects, however divided among themselves, spoke ill; according to the prophecy, "If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of His household." They disliked and they feared her; they did their utmost to overcome their mutual differences, in order to unite against her. Their utmost indeed was little, for independency was the law of their being; they could not exert themselves without fresh quarrels, both in the bosom of each, and one with another. "Bellum hæreticorum pax est ecclesiæ" had become a proverb; but they felt the great desirableness of union against the only body which was the natural antagonist of all, and various are the instances which occur in ecclesiastical history of attempted coalitions. The Meletians of Africa united with the Arians against St. Athanasius; the Semi-Arians of the Council of Sardica corresponded with the Donatists of Africa; Nestorius received and protected the Pelagians; Aspar, the Arian minister of Leo the Emperor, favoured the Monophysites of Egypt; the Jacobites of Egypt sided with the Moslem, who are charged with holding a Nestorian doctrine. It had been so from the beginning: "They huddle up a peace with all everywhere," says Tertullian, "for it maketh no matter to them, although they hold different doctrines, so long as they conspire together in their siege against the one thing, Truth." ...

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