Eusebius of Nicomedia
Eusebius Of Nicomedia, who may be called the leader, if not the organizer, of the Arian party in the fourth century, was a distant relative of the emperor Julian, and was born about A.D. 324 (Ammianus Marcellinus, Hist. 12:9). He was first bishop of Berytus, in Phoenicia, but got himself translated to Nicomedia — Theodoret says (1:19) in violation of the canones — by the influence of Constantia, sister of the emperor Constantine, whose confidence he had completely won. After the excommunication of Arius by Alexander, bishop of Alexandria (A.D. 321), Eusebius took Arius (who had written him a letter asking his aid) under his protection, offered him an asylum in his own house, and wrote urgently, though at the present time respectfully, in his favor, to Alexander, the patriarch of Alexandria (for details, SEE ARIANISM, volume 1, page 389). As Eusebius had been a disciple of Lucian, he probably held the opinions of Arius at the time. Socrates says that "Eusebius of Nicomedia and his partisans, with such as embraced the sentiments of Arius, demanded by letter that the sentence of excommunication which had been pronounced against him should be rescinded, and that those who had been excluded should be readmitted into the Church, as they held no unsound doctrine" (Hist. Eccl. 1:6; see also Sozoman.
At the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325), Eusebius and his friends used all possible efforts first to carry their own opinions through, and then to hinder a definitive sentence. Their opposition was finally concentrated against the application of the term ὁμοούσιος (consubstantial) to the Son. All opposition failed, and the orthodox doctrine was established by the council. SEE ARIANISM, SEE NICAEA, COUNCIL OF. Eusebius, finding himself standing nearly alone, affixed his signature at last Philostorgius (1:9) asserts that instead of the term ὁμοούσιος (of the same essence), Eusebius and his friends secretly introduced the semi-Arian term ὁμοιούσιος (of like essence); but the statements of Philostorgius are not to be implicitly believed. The decree of the council contained not only time Nicene Creed, but also an anathema of certain propositions of Arius. This last Eusebius refused to sign, declaring to the council that he "submitted to their determinations concerning the faith, and consented to subscribe to it, even admitting the word consubstantial, according to the genuine signification of it, and consequently that he held no erroneous opinion; but that as for the condemnation of Arius, he could not subscribe to it; not that he had a mind to reject the points of faith which they had decided, but because he did not think that he, whom they accused, was in the error that they laid to his charge: that, on the contrary, he was entirely persuaded, by the letters which he received from him, and by the conferences which he had had with him, that he was a man whose sentiments were entirely different from those for which he was condemned." Theognis of Nice, Theonas of Marmorica, and Secundus of Ptolemais, agreed with him in this. The council condemned them as heretics, and Constantine condemned them to banishment. But Arius, Theonas, and Secundus having submitted, Eusebius and Theognis finally signed, and were forgiven by the emperor.
Soon after the close of the council "Eusebius showed a desire to revive the controversy, for which he was deprived of his see and banished into Gaul. On this occasion Constantine addressed a letter to the people of Nicomedia, censuring their exiled bishop in the strongest manner as disaffected to his government, as the principal supporter of heresy, and a man wholly regardless of truth (Theodoret, Bed. Hist. 1:20). But he did not long remain under the imperial displeasure; indeed, he subsequently so completely regained Constantine's favor as to be selected to baptize him, not long before his death (A.D. 337). His Arian feelings, however, broke out again. He procured the deprivation of Eustathius (q.v.), bishop of Antioch, and, if we may believe Theodoret (1:21), by suborning a woman to bring against him a false accusation of the most infamous kind. He was, perhaps, the most bitter opponent of Athanasius SEE ATHANASIUS, and exerted himself to procure the restoration of Arius to the full privileges of churchmanship, menacing Alexander, bishop of Constantinople, with deposition unless he at once admitted him to the holy communion, in which he would have succeeded but for the sudden death of Arius. In 339 Eusebius managed to procure his election. to the see of Constantinople, in defiance of a canon against translations agreed to at Nicae. He died about A.D. 342. Though Eusebius lies under the disadvantage of having his character handed down to posterity almost entirely by the description of theological enemies, yet it is difficult to imagine that he was in any way deserving of esteem. His signature to the Nicene Creed was a gross evasion; nor can he be considered to have signed it merely as an article of peace, since he was ever afterwards a zealous opponent of its principles. It can scarcely be doubted that he was worldly and ambitious. Athanasius considers him as the teacher rather than the disciple of Arius; and afterwards, when the Arians were divided among themselves into parties, those who maintained the perfect likeness which the substance of the Son bore to that of the father (Homoiousians) against the Consubstantialists on the one hand, and the pure Arians or Anomoians on the other, pleaded the authority of this Eusebius. The tenets of this party were sanctioned by the Council of Seleucia, A.D. 359" (Smith, Dict. of Biography, s.v.). See, besides the works already cited, Cave, Hist. Lit. (Genev.) 1, 118; Neander, Ch. Hist. 2:367 sq.; Newman, History of the Arians; Lardner, Works, 3:594; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 4:242; Waterland, Works (Oxf. 1843), 2:369 sq.