Hilarius

, or Hilary, an ancient father of the Christian church, who flourished in the fourth century, was born, as St. Jerom tells us, at Poictiers in France; but in what year, is not known. His parents, persons of rank and substance, had him liberally educated in the pagan religion, which they themselves professed, and which Hilary did not forsake till many years after he was grown-up; when reflecting upon the gross errors of paganism, he was gradually led to the truth, and confirmed in it by reading the holy Scriptures. He was then baptized, together with his wife and daughter, who were also converted with bin). He was advanced to the bishopric of Poictiers in the year 3 5 5, according to Baronius though Cave thinks he was bishop of that place some years before. As soon however as he was raised to this dignity, he became a most zealous champion of the orthodox faith, and distinguished himself particularly against the Arians, whose doctrines were at that time gaining ground in France. In 356, he was sent by Constantinus to support the party of Athanasius at the synod of Beterra, or Beziers, against Saturninusbishop of'Arles, who had just before been excommunicated by the bishops of France but Saturninus had so much influence with the emperor, who was then at Milan, as to induce that monarch to order him to be banished to Phrygia, where Hilary continued continued four years, and applied himself during that time to the composing of several works. He wrote his twelve books upon the Trinity, which Cave calls “a noble work,| and which has been much admired in all ages. He wrote also “A Treatise Concerning Synods,” addressed to the bishops of France in which he explains to them the sense of the Eastern churches upon the doctrine of the Trinity, and their man tier of holding councils. This was drawn up by Hilary, ‘after the council of Ancyra in 358, whose canons are contained in it; and before the councils of Rimini and Seleucia, which were called in the beginning of 359. ’ Some time after he was sent to the council of Seleucia, where he defended the Galiican bishops from the imputation of Sabellianism, which the Arians had fixed upun them; and boldly asserted the sound and orthodox faith of the Western bishops. He was so favourably received, and so much respected by this council, that they admitted him as one who should give in his opinion, and assist in a determination among their bishops. Hilary, however, finding the greater part of them to be Arian, would not act, although he continued at Seleucia till the council was over; and thinking the orthodox faith in the Utmost peril, followed the deputies of the council to Constantinople, when he petitioned the emperor for leave to dispute publicly with the Arians. The Arians, from a dread of his talents, contrived to have him sent to France, in which he arrived in 360, and after the catholic bishops had recovered their usual liberty and authority under Julian the Apostate, Hilary assembled several councils to reestablish the ancient orthodox faith, and to condemn the determinations of the synods of Rimini and Seleucia. He condemned Saturninus bishop of Aries, but pardoned those who acknowledged their error; and, in every respect, exerted himself so zealously, that France was in a great measure freed from Arianism by his single influence and endeavours. He extended a similar care over Italy and some foreign churches, and was particularly qualified to recover men from the error of their ways, being a man of a mild candid turn, very learned, and accomplished in the arts of persuasion, and in these respects, says the candid Dupin, “affords a very proper lesson of instruction to all who are employed in the conversion of heretics.

About 367 Hilary had another opportunity of distinguishing his zeal against Arianism. The emperor Valentinian coming to Milan, issued an edict, obliging all to acknowledge Auxentius for their bishop. Hilary, persuaded that Auxentius was in his heart an Ariao, presented | a petition to the emperor, in which he declared Auxentius to be a man whose opinions were opposite to those of the church. Upon this the emperor ordered Hilary and Auxentius to dispute publicly; and Auxentius, after many subtleties and evasive shifts to save his bishopric, was forced to own, that Jesus Christwas indeed God, of the same substance and divinity with the Father.” The emperor, believing this profession sincere, embraced his communion; but Hilary still insisted that he prevaricated, on which account he was ordered to depart from Milan, as one who disturbed the peace of the church. Hilary died the latter end of this year, after many struggles and endeavours to support the catholic faith. His works have been published several times: but the best edition of them was given by the Benedictines in 1693 at Paris, fol. That of the marquis de Maffei, published at Verona in 1730, 2 vols. folio, although it contains some additions, is less esteemed. There has since appeared an edition in 4 vols. 8vo, by-Oberthur, at Wurtzberg, 1785 1788. The principal articles are: the twelve books on the Trinity; the Treatise on Synods, three pieces addressed to the emperor Constantius; Commentaries on St. Matthew, and part of the Psalms. Cave has enumerated several articles improperly attributed to him. He was a man of great piety as well as abilities and learning, of which the ancient author of his life, attributed to Fortunatus, has given us some instances, mixed with superstitious prodigies and fictions. It appears that Hilary was married, and had by his wife a daughter called Abra, whose education he carefully superintended. To him the great church at Poictiers is dedicated, and in the midst of the city is a column erected to him, with an inscription expressive of their admiration of his virtues, but partaking a little of the superstitious. 1

1 Cave, vol, I. Dupin.--Fabric. Bib!. Lat, et Bibl. Med. Lat.Lardner’s Works. —Saxii Onomast.