Aerians a sect which arose about the middle of the fourth century, being the followers of Aerius (different from Arius and Aetius), a monk and a presbyter of Sebastia, in Pontus, A.D. 355-360. He is charged by Epiphanius with being an Arian, or Semi-Arian, without just ground. The real cause, perhaps, of the accusation against him was his attempt to reform the Church, by maintaining that a presbyter or elder differs not in order and degree from a bishop; and by rejecting prayers for the dead, with certain fasts and festivals then superstitiously observed. Epiphanius attributes the zeal of Aerius to his being disappointed of the bishopric of Sebaste, which was conferred on his friend Eustathius; but the statements of Epiphanius are evidently colored by his personal prejudice against Aerius. His followers were driven from the churches, and out of all the towns and villages, and were obliged to assemble in the woods, caverns, and open defiles. The sect was still in existence at the time of Augustine. — Epiphanius, Adv. Hoeres. 56; Neander, Ch. Hist. 2, 342, 343; Bingham, b. 15, ch. 3; Lardner, Works, 4, 179; Walch, Hist. d. Ketzer. 3, 321.

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