Epistles of Cyprian - XXXI - LX

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Translated by the Rev. Ernest Wallis, Phd.

Text edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and first published by T&T Clark in Edinburgh in 1867. Additional introductionary material and notes provided for the American edition by A. Cleveland Coxe, 1886.

Epistle XXXI. [2310]

To the Carthaginian Clergy, About the Letters Sent to Rome, and Received Thence.

Argument. The Carthaginian Clergy are Requested to Take Care that the Letters of the Roman Clergy and Cyprian's Answer are Communicated.

Cyprian to the presbyters and deacons, his brethren, greeting. That you, my beloved brethren, might know what letters I have sent to the clergy acting [2311] at Rome, and what they have replied to me, and, moreover, what Moyses and Maximus, the presbyters, and Rufinus and Nicostratus, the deacons, and the rest of the confessors that with them are kept in prison, replied likewise to my letters, I have sent you copies to read. Do you take care, with as much diligence as you can, that what I have written, and what they have replied, be made known to our brethren. And, moreover, if any bishops from foreign places, [2312] my colleagues, or presbyters, or deacons, should be present, or should arrive among you, let them hear all these matters from you; and if they wish to transcribe copies of the letters and to take them to their own people, let them have the opportunity of transcribing them; although I have, moreover, bidden Saturus the reader, our brother, to give liberty of copying them to any individuals who wish it; so that, in ordering, for the present, the condition of the Church in any manner, an agreement, one and faithful, may be observed by all. But about the other matters which were to be dealt with, as I have also written to several of my colleagues, we will more fully consider them in a common council, when, by the Lord's permission, we shall begin to assemble into one place. I bid you, brethren, beloved and longed-for, ever heartily farewell. Salute the brotherhood. Fare ye well.

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Epistle XXXII. [2313]

To the Clergy and People, About the Ordination of Aurelius as a Reader.

Argument. Cyprian Tells the Clergy and People that Aurelius the Confessor Has Been Ordained a Reader by Him, and Commends, by the Way, the Constancy of His Virtue and His Mind, Whereby He Was Even Deserving of a Higher Degree in the Church.

1. Cyprian to the elders and deacons, and to the whole people, greeting. In ordinations of the clergy, beloved brethren, we usually consult you beforehand, and weigh the character and deserts of individuals, with the general advice. [2314] But human testimonies must not be waited for when the divine approval precedes. Aurelius, our brother, an illustrious youth, already approved by the Lord, and dear to God, in years still very young, but, in the praise of virtue and of faith, advanced; inferior in the natural abilities of his age, but superior in the honour he has merited, has contended here in a double conflict, having twice confessed and twice been glorious in the victory of his confession, both when he conquered in the course and was banished, and when at length he fought in a severer conflict, he was triumphant and victorious in the battle of suffering. As often as the adversary wished to call forth the servants of God, so often this prompt and brave soldier both fought and conquered. It had been a slight matter, previously to have engaged under the eyes of a few when he was banished; he deserved also in the forum to engage with a more illustrious virtue so that, after overcoming the magistrates, he might also triumph over the proconsul, and, after exile, might vanquish tortures also. Nor can I discover what I ought to speak most of in him, the glory of his wounds or the modesty of his character; that he is distinguished by the honour of his virtue, or praiseworthy for the admirableness of his modesty. He is both so excellent in dignity and so lowly in humility, that it seems that he is divinely reserved as one who should be an example to the rest for ecclesiastical discipline, of the way in which the servants of God should in confession conquer by their courage, and, after confession, be conspicuous for their character.

2. Such a one, to be estimated not by his years but by his deserts, merited higher degrees of clerical ordination and larger increase. But, in the meantime, I judged it well, that he should begin with the office of reading; because nothing is more suitable for the voice which has confessed the Lord in a glorious utterance, than to sound Him forth in the solemn repetition of the divine lessons; than, after the sublime words which spoke out the witness of Christ, to read the Gospel of Christ whence martyrs are made; to come to the desk after the scaffold; there to have been conspicuous to the multitude of the Gentiles, here to be beheld by the brethren; there to have been heard with the wonder of the surrounding people, here to be heard with the joy of the brotherhood. Know, then, most beloved brethren, that this man has been ordained by me and by my colleagues who were then present. I know that you will both gladly welcome these tidings, and that you desire that as many such as possible may be ordained in our church. And since joy is always hasty, and gladness can bear no delay, he reads on the Lord's day, in the meantime, for me; that is, he has made a beginning of peace, by solemnly entering on his office of a reader. [2315] Do you frequently be urgent in supplications, and assist my prayers by yours, that the Lord's mercy favouring us may soon restore both the priest [2316] safe to his people, and the martyr for a reader with the priest. I bid you, beloved brethren in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle XXXIII. [2317]

To the Clergy and People, About the Ordination of Celerinus as Reader.

Argument. This Letter is About the Same in Purport with the Preceding, Except that He Largely Commends the Constancy of Celerinus in His Confession of the Faith. Moreover, that Both of These Letters Were Written During His Retreat, is Sufficiently Indicated by the Circumstances of the Context.

1. Cyprian to the presbyters and deacons, and to the whole people, his brethren in the Lord, greeting. The divine benefits, beloved brethren, should be acknowledged and embraced, wherewith the Lord has condescended to embellish and illustrate His Church in our times by granting a respite to His good confessors and His glorious martyrs, that they who had grandly confessed Christ should afterwards adorn Christ's clergy in ecclesiastical ministries. Exult, therefore, and rejoice with me on receiving my letter, wherein I and my colleagues who were then present mention to you Celerinus, our brother, glorious alike for his courage and his character, as added to our clergy, not by human recommendation, but by divine condescension; who, when he hesitated to yield to the Church, was constrained by her own admonition and exhortation, in a vision by night, not to refuse our persuasions; and she had more power, and constrained him, because it was not right, nor was it becoming, that he should be without ecclesiastical honour, whom the Lord honoured with the dignity of heavenly glory. [2318]

2. This man was the first in the struggle of our days; he was the leader among Christ's soldiers; he, in the midst of the burning beginnings of the persecution, engaged with the very chief and author of the disturbance, in conquering with invincible firmness the adversary of his own conflict. [2319] He made a way for others to conquer; a victor with no small amount of wounds, but triumphant by a miracle, with the long-abiding and permanent penalties of a tedious conflict. For nineteen days, shut up in the close guard of a dungeon, he was racked and in irons; but although his body was laid in chains, his spirit remained free and at liberty. His flesh wasted away by the long endurance of hunger and thirst; but God fed his soul, that lived in faith and virtue, with spiritual nourishments. He lay in punishments, the stronger for his punishments; imprisoned, greater than those that imprisoned him; lying prostrate, but loftier than those who stood; as bound, and firmer titan the links which bound him; judged, and more sublime than those who judged him; and although his feet were bound on the rack, yet the serpent was trodden on and ground down and vanquished. In his glorious body shine the bright evidences of his wounds; their manifest traces show forth, and appear on the man's sinews and limbs, worn out with tedious wasting away. [2320] Great things are they marvellous things are they which the brotherhood may hear of his virtues and of his praises. And should any one appear like Thomas, who has little faith in what he hears, the faith of the eyes is not wanting, so that what one hears he may also see. In the servant of God, the glory of the wounds made the victory; the memory of the scars preserves that glory.

3. Nor is that kind of title to glories in the case of Celerinus, our beloved, an unfamiliar and novel thing. He is advancing in the footsteps of his kindred; he rivals his parents and relations in equal honours of divine condescension. His grandmother, Celerina, was some time since crowned with martyrdom. Moreover, his paternal and maternal uncles, Laurentius and Egnatius, who themselves also were once warring in the camps of the world, but were true and spiritual soldiers of God, casting down the devil by the confession of Christ, merited palms and crowns from the Lord by their illustrious passion. We always offer sacrifices for them, [2321] as you remember, as often as we celebrate the passions and days of the martyrs in the annual commemoration. Nor could he, therefore, be degenerate and inferior whom this family dignity and a generous nobility provoked, by domestic examples of virtue and faith. But if in a worldly family it is a matter of heraldry and of praise to be a patrician, of bow much greater praise and honour is it to become of noble rank in the celestial heraldry! I cannot tell whom I should call more blessed, whether those ancestors, for a posterity so illustrious, or him, for an origin so glorious. So equally between them does the divine condescension flow, and pass to and fro, that, just as the dignity of their offspring brightens their crown, so the sublimity of his ancestry illuminates his glory.

4. When this man, beloved brethren, came to us with such condescension of the Lord, illustrious by the testimony and wonder of the very man who had persecuted him, what else behoved to be done except that he should be placed on the pulpit, [2322] that is, on the tribunal of the Church; that, resting on the loftiness of a higher station, and conspicuous to the whole people for the brightness of his honour, he should read the precepts and Gospel of the Lord, which he so bravely and faithfully follows? Let the voice that has confessed the Lord daily be heard in those things which the Lord spoke. Let it be seen whether there is any further degree to which he can be advanced in the Church. There is nothing in which a confessor can do more good to the brethren than that, while the reading of the Gospel is heard from his lips, every one who hears should imitate the faith of the reader. He should have been associated with Aurelius in reading; with whom, moreover, he was associated in the alliance of divine honour; with whom, in all the insignia of virtue and praise, he had been united. Equal both, and each like to the other, in proportion as they were sublime in glory, in that proportion they were humble in modesty. As they were lifted up by divine condescension, so they were lowly in their own peacefulness and tranquillity, and equally affording examples to every one of virtues and character, and fitted both for conflict and for peace; praiseworthy in the former for strength, in the latter for modesty.

5. In such servants the Lord rejoices; in confessors of this kind He glories, whose way and conversation is so advantageous to the announcement of their glory, that it affords to others a teaching of discipline. For this purpose Christ has willed them to remain long here in the Church; for this purpose He has kept them safe, snatched from the midst of death, a kind of resurrection, so to speak, being wrought on their behalf; so that, while nothing is seen by the brethren loftier in honour, nothing more lowly in humility, the way of life of the brotherhood [2323] may accompany these same persons. Know, then, that these for the present are appointed readers, because it was fitting that the candle should be placed in a candlestick, whence it may give light to all, and that their glorious countenance should be established in a higher place, where, beheld by all the surrounding brotherhood, they may give an incitement of glory to the beholders. But know that I have already purposed the honour of the presbytery for them, that so they may be honoured with the same presents as the presbyters, and may share the monthly divisions [2324] in equalled quantities, to sit with us hereafter in their advanced and strengthened years; although in nothing can he seem to be inferior in the qualities of age who has consummated his age by the dignity of his glory. I bid you, brethren, beloved and earnestly longed-for, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle XXXIV. [2325]

To the Same, About the Ordination of Numidicus as Presbyter.

Argument. Cyprian Tells the Clergy and People that Numidicus Has Been Ordained by Him Presbyter; And Briefly Commends His Worth.

Cyprian to the presbyters and deacons, and to the whole people, his brethren, very dear and longed-for, greeting. That which belongs, dearest brethren, both to the common joy and to the greatest glory of our Church ought to be told to you; for you must know that I have been admonished and instructed by divine condescension, that Numidicus the presbyter should be appointed in the number of Carthaginian presbyters, and should sit with us among the clergy, a man illustrious by the brightest light of confession, exalted in the honour both of virtue and of faith; who by his exhortation sent before himself an abundant number of martyrs, slain by stones and by the flames, and who beheld with joy his wife abiding by his side, burned (I should rather say, preserved) together with the rest. He himself, half consumed, overwhelmed with stones, and left for dead, when afterwards his daughter, with the anxious consideration of affection, sought for the corpse of her father, was found half dead, was drawn out and revived, and remained unwillingly [2326] from among the companions whom he himself had sent before. But the reason of his remaining behind, as we see, was this: that the Lord might add him to our clergy, and might adorn with glorious priests the number of our presbyters that had been desolated by the lapse of some. [2327] And when God permits, he shall be advanced to a larger office in his region, when, by the Lord's protection, we have come into your presence once more. In the meantime, let what is revealed be done, that we receive this gift of God with thanksgiving, hoping from the Lord's mercy more ornaments of the same kind, that so the strength of His Church being renewed, He may make men so meek and lowly to flourish in the honour of our assembly. I bid you, brethren, very dear and longed-for, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle XXXV. [2328]

To the Clergy, Concerning the Care of the Poor and Strangers.

Argument. He Cautions Them Against Neglecting the Widows, the Sick, or the Poor, or Strangers.

Cyprian to the presbyters and deacons, his beloved brethren, greeting. In safety, by God's grace, I greet you, beloved brethren, desiring soon to come to you, and to satisfy the wish as well of myself and you, as of all the brethren. It behoves me also, however, to have regard to the common peace, and, in the meantime, although with weariness of spirit, to be absent from you, lest my presence should provoke the jealousy and violence of the heathens, and I should be the cause of breaking the peace, who ought rather to be careful for the quiet of all. When, therefore, you write that matters are arranged, and that I ought to come, or if the Lord should condescend to intimate it to me before, then I will come to you. For where could I be better or more joyful than there where the Lord willed me both to believe and to grow up? I request that you will diligently take care of the widows, and of the sick, and of all the poor. Moreover, you may supply the expenses for strangers, if any should be indigent, from my own portion, which I have left with Rogatianus, our fellow-presbyter; [2329] which portion, lest it should be all appropriated, I have supplemented by sending to the same by Naricus the acolyte another share, so that the sufferers may be more largely and promptly dealt with. I bid you, beloved brethren, ever heartily farewell; and have me in remembrance. Greet your brotherhood in my name, and tell them to be mindful of me.

Epistle XXXVI. [2330]

To the Clergy, Bidding Them Show Every Kindness to the Confessors in Prison.

Argument. He Exhorts His Clergy that Every Kindness and Care Should Be Exercised Towards the Confessors, as Well Towards Those Who Were Alive, as Those Who Died, in Prison; That the Days of Their Death Should Be Carefully Noted, for the Purpose of Celebrating Their Memory Annually; And, Finally, that They Should Not Forget the Poor Also.

1. Cyprian to the presbyters and deacons, his brethren, greeting. Although I know, dearest brethren, that you have frequently been admonished in my letters to manifest all care for those who with a glorious voice have confessed the Lord, and are confined in prison; yet, again and again, I urge it upon you, that no consideration be wanting to them to whose glory there is nothing wanting. And I wish that the circumstances of the place and of my station would permit me to present myself at this time with them; promptly and gladly would I fulfil all the duties of love towards our most courageous brethren in my appointed ministry. But I beseech you, let your diligence be the representative of my duty, and do all those things which behove to be done in respect of those whom the divine condescension has rendered illustrious in such merits of their faith and virtue. Let there be also a more zealous watchfulness and care bestowed upon the bodies of all those who, although they were not tortured in prison, yet depart thence by the glorious exit of death. For neither is their virtue nor their honour too little for them also to be allied with theblessed martyrs. As far as they could, they bore whatever they were prepared and equipped to bear. He who under the eyes of God has offered himself to tortures and to death, has suffered whatever he was willing to suffer; for it was not he that was wanting to the tortures, but the tortures that were wanting to him. "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven," [2331] saith the Lord. They have confessed Him "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved," [2332] saith the Lord. They have endured and have carried the uncorrupted and unstained merits of their virtues through, even unto the end. And, again, it is written, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." [2333] They have persevered in their faithfulness, and stedfastness, and invincibleness, even unto death. When to the willingness and the confession of the name in prison and in chains is added also the conclusion of dying, the glory of the martyr is consummated.

2. Finally, also, take note of their days on which they depart, that we may celebrate their commemoration among the memorials of the martyrs, [2334] although Tertullus, our most faithful and devoted brother, who, in addition to the other solicitude and care which he shows to the brethren in all service of labour, is not wanting besides in that respect in any care of their bodies, has written, and does write and intimate to me the days, in which our blessed brethren in prison pass by the gate of a glorious death to their immortality; and there are celebrated here by us oblations and sacrifices for their commemorations, which things, with the Lord s protection, we shall soon celebrate with you. Let your care also (as I have already often written) and your diligence not be wanting to the poor, to such, I mean, as stand fast in the faith and bravely fight with us, and have not left the camp of Christ; to whom, indeed, we should now show a greater love and care, in that they are neither constrained by poverty nor prostrated by the tempest of persecution, but faithfully serve with the Lord, and have given an example of faith to the other poor. I bid you, brethren beloved, and greatly longed-for, ever heartily farewell; and remember me. Greet the brotherhood in my name. Fare ye well.

Epistle XXXVII. [2335]

To Caldonius, Herculanus, and Others, About the Excommunication of Felicissimus.

Argument. Felicissimus, Together with His Companions in Sedition, is to Be Restrained from the Communion of All.

1. Cyprian to Caldonius and Herculanus, his colleagues, also to Rogatianus and Numidicus, his fellow-presbyters, greeting. I have been greatly grieved, dearest brethren, at the receipt of your letter, that although I have always proposed to myself and wished to keep all our brotherhood safe, and to preserve the flock unharmed, as charity requires, you tell me now that Felicissimus has been attempting many things with wickedness and craft; so that, besides his old frauds and plundering, of which I had formerly known a good deal, he has now, moreover, tried to divide with the bishop a portion of the people; that is, to separate the sheep from the shepherd, and sons from their parents, and to scatter the members of Christ. And although I sent you as my substitutes to discharge the necessities of our brethren, with funds, and if any, moreover, wished to exercise their crafts, to assist their wishes with such an addition as might be sufficient, and at the same time also to take note of their ages and conditions and deserts, that I also, upon whom falls the charge of knowing all of them thoroughly, might promote any that were worthy and humble and meek to the offices of the ecclesiastical administration; he has interfered, and directed that no one should be relieved, and that those things which I had desired should not be ascertained by careful examination; he has also threatened our brethren, who had first approached to be relieved, with a wicked exercise of power, and with a violent dread that those who desired to obey me should not communicate with him in death. [2336]

2. And since, after all these things, neither moved by the honour of my station, nor shaken by your authority and presence, but of his own impulse, disturbing the peace of the brethren he hath rushed forth with many more, and asserted himself as a leader of a faction and chief of a sedition with a hasty madness in which respect, indeed, I congratulate several of the brethren that they have withdrawn from this boldness, and have rather chosen to consent with you, so that they may remain with the Church, their mother, and receive their stipends from the bishop who dispenses them, which, indeed, I know for certain, that others also will peaceably do, and will quickly withdraw from their rash error, in the meantime, since Felicissimus has threatened that they should not communicate with him in death [2337] who had obeyed us, that is, who communicated with us, let him receive the sentence which he first of all declared, that he may know that he is excommunicated by us; inasmuch as he adds to his frauds and rapines, which we have known by the clearest truth, the crime also of adultery, which our brethren, grave men, have declared that they have discovered, and have asseverated that they will prove; all which things we shall then judicially examine, when, with the Lord's permission, we shall assemble in one place with many of our colleagues. But Augendus also, who, considering neither his bishop nor his Church, has equally associated himself with him in this conspiracy and faction, if he should further persevere with him, let him bear the sentence which that factious and impetuous man has provoked on himself. Moreover, whoever shall ally himself with his conspiracy and faction, let him know that he shall not communicate in the Church with us, since of his own accord he has preferred to be separated from the Church. Read this letter of mine to our brethren, and also transmit it to Carthage to the clergy, the names being added of those who have joined themselves with Felicissimus. I bid you, beloved brethren, ever heartily farewell; and remember me. Fare ye well.

Epistle XXXVIII. [2338]

The Letter of Caldonius, Herculanus, and Others, on the Excommunication of Felicissimus with His People.

Argument. Caldonius, Herculanus, and Others Carry into Effect What the Preceding Letter Had Bidden Them.

Caldonius, with Herculanus and Victor, his colleagues, also with Rogatianus and Numidicus, presbyters. [2339] We have rejected Felicissimus and Augendus from communion; also Repostus from among the exiles, and Irene of the Blood-stained ones; [2340] and Paula the sempstress; which you ought to know from my subscription; also we have rejected Sophronius and Soliassus (budinarius), [2341] himself also one of the exiles.

Epistle XXXIX. [2342]

To the People, Concerning Five Schismatic Presbyters of the Faction of Felicissimus.

Argument. In Like Manner, as in the Epistle But One Before This, Cyprian Told the Clergy, So Now He Tells the People, that Felicissimus is to Be Avoided, Together with Five Presbyters of His Faction, Who Not Only Granted Peace to the Lapsed Without Any Discrimination, But Stirred Up Sedition and Schism Against Himself.

1. Cyprian to the whole people, greeting. Although, dearest brethren, Virtius, [2343] a most faithful and upright presbyter, and also Rogatianus and Numidicus, presbyters, confessors, and illustrious by the glory of the divine condescension, and also the deacons, good men and devoted to the ecclesiastical administration in all its duties, with the other ministers, afford you the full attention of their presence, and do not cease to confirm individuals by their assiduous exhortations, and, moreover, to govern and reform the minds of the lapsed by their wholesome counsels, yet, as much as I can, I admonish, and as I can, I visit you with my letters. By my letters I say, dearest brethren; for the malignity and treachery of certain of the presbyters has accomplished this, that I should not be allowed to come to you before Easter-day; since mindful of their conspiracy, and retaining that ancient venom against my episcopate, that is, against your suffrage and God's judgment, they renew their old attack upon me, and once more begin their sacrilegious machinations with their accustomed craft. And, indeed, of God's providence, neither by our wish nor desire, nay, although we were forgiving and silent, they have suffered the punishment which they had deserved; so that, not cast out by us, they of their own accord have cast themselves out. They themselves, before their own conscience, have passed sentence on themselves in accordance with your suffrages and the divine. These conspirators and evil men of their own accord have driven themselves from the Church.

2. Now it has appeared whence came the faction of Felicissimus; on what root and by what strength it stood. These men supplied in former times encouragements and exhortations to certain confessors, not to agree with their bishop, not to maintain the ecclesiastical discipline with faith and quietness according to the Lord's precepts, not to keep the glory of their confession with an uncorrupt and unspotted conversation. And lest it should be too little to have corrupted the minds of certain confessors, and to have wished to arm a portion of our broken fraternity against God's priesthood, they have now turned their attention with their envenomed deceitfulness to the ruin of the lapsed, to turn away from the healing of their wound the sick and the wounded, and those who, by the misfortune of their fall, are less fit and less sturdy to take stronger counsel; and invite them, by the falsehood of a fallacious peace, to a fatal rashness, leaving off prayers and supplications, whereby, with long and continual satisfaction, the Lord is to be appeased.

3. But I pray you, brethren, watch against the snares of the devil, and, taking care for your own salvation, be diligently on your guard against this death-bearing fallacy. This is another persecution and another temptation. Those five presbyters are none other than the five leaders who were lately associated with the magistrates in an edict, that they might overthrow our faith, that they might turn away the feeble hearts of the brethren to their deadly nets by the prevarication of the truth. Now the same scheme, the same overturning, is again brought about by the five presbyters, linked with Felicissimus, to the destruction of salvation, that God should not be besought, and that he who has denied Christ should not appeal for mercy to the same Christ whom he had denied; that after the fault of the crime, repentance also should be taken away; and that the Lord should not be appeased through bishops and priests, but that the Lord's priests being. forsaken, a new tradition of a sacrilegious appointment should arise, contrary to the evangelical discipline. And although it was once arranged as well by us as by the confessors and the city [2344] clergy, and moreover by all the bishops appointed either in our province or beyond the sea, [2345] that no novelty should be introduced in respect of the case of the lapsed unless we all assembled into one place, and our counsels being compared, should decide upon a moderate sentence, tempered alike with discipline and with mercy; against this our counsel they have rebelled, and all priestly authority and power is destroyed by factious conspiracies.

4. What sufferings do I now endure, dearest brethren, that I myself am not able to come to you at the present juncture, that I myself cannot approach you each one, that I myself cannot exhort you according to the teaching of the Lord and of His Gospel! An exile of, now, two years [2346] was not sufficient, and a mournful separation from you, from your countenance, and from your sight, continual grief and lamentation, which, in my loneliness without you, breaks me to pieces with my constant mourning, nor my tears flowing day and night, that there is not even an opportunity for the priest, whom you made with so much love and eagerness, to greet you, nor to be enfolded in your embraces. This greater grief is added to my worn spirit, that in the midst of so much solicitude and necessity I am not able myself to hasten to you, since, by the threats and by the snares of perfidious men, we are anxious that on our coming a greater tumult may not arise there; and so, although the bishop ought to be careful for peace and tranquillity in all things, he himself should seem to have afforded material for sedition, and to have embittered persecution anew. Hence, however, beloved brethren, I not only admonish but counsel you, not rashly to trust to mischievous words, nor to yield an easy consent to deceitful sayings, nor to take darkness for light, night for day, hunger for food, thirst for drink, poison for medicine, death for safety. Let not the age nor the authority deceive you of those who, answering to the ancient wickedness of the two elders; [2347] as they attempted to corrupt and violate the chaste Susannah, [2348] are thus also attempting, with their adulterous doctrines, to corrupt the chastity of the Church and violate the truth of the Gospel.

5. The Lord cries aloud, saying, "Hearken not unto the words of the false prophets, for the visions of their own hearts deceive them. They speak, but not out of the mouth of the Lord. They say to them that despise the word of the Lord, Ye shall have peace." [2349] They are now offering peace who have not peace themselves. They are promising to bring back and recall the lapsed into the Church, who themselves have departed from the Church. There is one God, and Christ is one, and there is one Church, and one chair founded upon the rock by the word of the Lord. [2350] Another altar cannot be constituted nor a new priesthood be made, except the one altar and the one priesthood. Whosoever gathereth elsewhere, scattereth. Whatsoever is appointed by human madness, so that the divine disposition is violated, is adulterous, is impious, is sacrilegious. Depart far from the contagion of men of this kind. and flee from their words, avoiding them as a cancer and a plague, as the Lord warns you and says, "They are blind leaders of the blind. But if the blind lead the blind, they shall both fall into the ditch." [2351] They intercept your prayers, which you pour forth with us to God day and night, to appease Him with a righteous satisfaction. They intercept your tears with which you wash away the guilt of the sin you have committed; they intercept the peace which you truly and faithfully ask from the mercy of the Lord; and they do not know that it is written, "And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, that hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, shall be put to death." [2352] Let no one, beloved brethren, make you to err from the ways of the Lord; let no one snatch you, Christians, from the Gospel of Christ; let no one take sons of the Church away from the Church; let them perish alone for themselves who have wished to perish; let them remain outside the Church alone who have departed from the Church; let them anoia be without bishops who have rebelled against bishops; let them alone undergo the penalties of their conspiracies who formerly, according to your votes, and now according to God's judgment, have deserved to undergo the sentence of their own conspiracy and malignity.

6. The Lord warns us in His Gospel, saying, "Ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may establish your own tradition." [2353] Let them who reject the commandment of God and endeavour to keep their own tradition be bravely and firmly rejected by you; let one downfall be sufficient for the lapsed; let no one by his fraud hurl down those who wish to rise; let no one cast down more deeply and depress those who are down, on whose behalf we pray that they may be raised up by God's hand and arm; let no one turn away from all hope of safety those who are half alive and entreating that they may receive their former health; let no one extinguish every light of the way of salvation to those that are wavering in the darkness of their lapse. The apostle instructs us, saying, "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ and His doctrine, he is lifted up with foolishness: from such withdraw thyself." [2354] And again he says, "Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them." [2355] There is no reason that you should be deceived with vain words, and begin to be partakers of their depravity. Depart from such, I entreat you, and acquiesce in our counsels, who daily pour out for you continual prayers to the Lord, who desire that you should be recalled to the Church by the clemency of the Lord, who pray for the fullest peace from God, first for the mother, and then for her children. Join also your petitions and prayers with our prayers and petitions; mingle your tears with our wailings. Avoid the wolves who separate the sheep from the shepherd; avoid the envenomed tongue of the devil, who from the beginning of the world, always deceitful and lying, lies that he may deceive, cajoles that he may injure, promises good that he may give evil, promises life that he may put to death. Now also his words are evident, and his poisons are plain. He promises peace, in order that peace may not possibly be attained; he promises salvation, that he who has sinned may not come to salvation; he promises a Church, when he so contrives that he who believes him may utterly perish apart from the Church.

7. It is now the occasion, dearly beloved brethren, both for you who stand fast to persevere bravely, and to maintain your glorious stability, which you kept in persecution with a continual firmness; and if any of you by the circumvention of the adversary have fallen, that in this second temptation you should faithfully take counsel for your hope and your peace; and in order that the Lord may pardon you, that you should not depart from the priests of the Lord, since it is written, "And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest or unto the judge that shall be in those days, even that man shall die." [2356] Of this persecution this is the latest and final temptation, which itself also, by the Lord's protection, shall quickly pass away; so that I shall be again presented to you after Easter-day with my colleagues, who, being present, we shall be able as well to arrange as to complete the matters which require to be done according to your judgment and to the general advice of all of us as it has been decided before. [2357] But if anybody, refusing to repent and to make satisfaction to God, shall yield to the party of Felicissimus and his satellites, and shall join himself to the heretical faction, let him know that he cannot afterwards return to the Church and communicate with the bishops and the people of Christ. I bid you, dearest brethren, ever heartily farewell, and that you plead with me in continual prayer that the mercy of God may be entreated.

Epistle XL. [2358]

To Cornelius, on His Refusal to Receive Novatian's Ordination. [2359]

Argument. The Messengers Sent by Novatian to Intimate His Ordination to the Church of Carthage are Rejected by Cyprian.

1. Cyprian to Cornelius, his brother, greeting. There have come to us, beloved brother, sent by Novatian, Maximus the presbyter, and Augendus the deacon, and a certain Machaeus and Longinus. But, as we discovered, as well from the letters which they brought with them, as from their discourse and declaration, that Novatian had been made bishop; disturbed by the wickedness of an unlawful ordination made in opposition to the Catholic Church, we considered at once that they must be restrained from communion with us; and having, in the meanwhile, refuted and repelled the things which they pertinaciously and obstinately endeavoured to assert, I and several of my colleagues, who had come together to me, were awaiting the arrival of our colleagues Caldonius and Fortunatus, whom we had lately sent to you as ambassadors, and to our fellow-bishops, who were present at your ordination, [2360] in order that, when they came and reported the truth of the matter, the wickedness of the adverse party might be quelled through them, by greater authority and manifest proof. But there came, in addition, Pompeius and Stephanus, our colleagues, who themselves also, by way of instructing us thereon, put forward manifest proofs and testimonies in conformity with their gravity and faithfulness, so that it was not even necessary that those who had come, as sent by Novatian, should be heard any further. And when in our solemn assembly [2361] they burst in with invidious abuse and turbulent clamour, demanding that the accusations, which they said that they brought and would prove, should be publicly investigated by us and by the people, we said that it was not consistent with our gravity to suffer the honour of our colleague, who had already been chosen and ordained and approved by the laudable sentence of many, to be called into question any further by the abusive voice of rivals. And because it would be a long business to collect into a letter the matters in which they have been refuted and repressed, and in which they have been manifested as having caused heresy by their unlawful attempts, you shall hear everything most fully from Primitivus our co-presbyter, [2362] when he shall come to you.

2. And lest their raging boldness should ever cease, they are striving here also to distract the members of Christ into schismatical parties, and to cut and tear the one body of the Catholic Church, so that, running about from door to door, through the houses of many, or from city to city, through certain districts, they seek for companions in their obstinacy and error to join to themselves in their schism. To whom we have once given this reply, nor shall we cease to command them to lay aside their pernicious dissensions and disputes, and to be aware that it is an impiety to forsake their Mother; and to acknowledge and understand that when a bishop [2363] is once made and approved by the testimony and judgment of his colleagues and the people, another can by no means be appointed. [2364] Thus, if they consult their own interest peaceably and faithfully, if they confess themselves to be maintainers of the Gospel of Christ, they must return to the Church. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle XLI. [2365]

To Cornelius, About Cyprian's Approval of His Ordination, and Concerning Felicissimus.

Argument. Cyprian Excuses Himself for Not Having Without Hesitation Believed in the Ordination of Cornelius, Until He Received the Letters of His Colleagues Caldonius And Fortunatus, Which Fully Testified to Its Legitimacy; And Incidentally Repeats, in Respect of the Contrary Faction of the Novatian Party, that He Did Not in the Very First Instance Give His Adhesion to That, But Rather to Cornelius, Even to the Extent of Refusing to Receive Accusations Against Him.

1. Cyprian to Cornelius his brother, greeting. As was fitting for God s servants, and especially for upright and peaceable priests, dearest brother, we recently sent our colleagues Caldonius and Fortunatus, that they might, not only by the persuasion of our letters, but by their presence and the advice of all of you, strive and labour with all their power to bring the members of the divided body into the unity of the Catholic Church, and associate them into the bond of Christian charity. But since the obstinate and inflexible pertinacity of the adverse party has not only rejected the bosom and the embrace of its root and Mother, but even, with a discord spreading and reviving itself worse and worse, has appointed a bishop for itself, and, contrary to the sacrament once delivered of the divine appointment and of Catholic Unity, has made an adulterous and opposed head outside the Church; having received your letters as well as those of our colleagues, at the coining also of our colleagues Pompeius and Stephanus, good men and very dear to us, by whom all these things were undoubtedly alleged and proved to us with general gladness, [2366] in conformity with the requirements alike of the sanctity and the truth of the divine tradition and ecclesiastical institution, we have directed our letters to you. Moreover, bringing these same things trader the notice of our several colleagues throughout the province, we have bidden also that our brethren, with letters from them, be directed to you.

2. This has been done, although our mind and intention had been already plainly declared to the brethren, and to the whole of the people in this place, when, having received letters lately from both parties, we read your letters, and intimated your ordination to the episcopate, in the ears of every one. Moreover, remembering the common honour, and having respect for the sacerdotal gravity and sanctity, we repudiated those things which from the other party had been heaped together with bitter virulence into a document transmitted to us; alike considering and weighing, that in so great and so religious an assembly of brethren, in which God's priests were sitting together, and His altar was set, they ought neither to be read nor to be heard. For those things should not easily be put forward, nor carelessly and rudely published, which may move a scandal by means of a quarrelsome pen in the minds of the hearers, and confuse brethren, who are placed far apart and dwelling across the sea, with uncertain opinions. Let those beware, who, obeying either their own rage or lust, and unmindful of the divine law and holiness, rejoice to throw abroad in the meantime things which they cannot prove; and although they may not be successful in destroying and ruining innocence, are satisfied with scattering stains upon it with lying reports and false rumours. Assuredly, we should exert ourselves, as it is fitting for prelates and priests to do, that such things, when they are written by any, should be repudiated as far as we are concerned. For otherwise, what will become of that which we learn and which we declare to be laid down in Scripture: "Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile? " [2367] And elsewhere: "Thy mouth abounded in malice, and thy tongue embraced deceit. Thou satest and spakest against thy brother, and slanderedst thine own mother's son." [2368] Also whist the apostle says: "Let no corrupt communication proceed from thy mouth, but that which is good to the edifying of faith, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." [2369] Further, we show what the right course of conduct to pursue is, [2370] if, when such things are written by the calumnious temerity of some, we do not allow them to be read among us: and therefore, dearest brother, when such letters came to me against you, even though they were the letters of your co-presbyter sitting with you, [2371] as they breathed a tone of religious simplicity, and did not echo with any barkings of curses and revilings, I ordered them to be read to the clergy and the people.

3. But in desiring letters from our colleagues, [2372] who were present at your ordination at that place, we did not forget the ancient usage, nor did we seek for any novelty. For it was sufficient for you to announce yourself by letters [2373] to have been made bishop, unless there had been a dissenting faction on the other side, who by their slanderous and calumnious fabrications disturbed the minds and perplexed the hearts of our colleagues, as well as of several of the brethren. To set this matter at rest, we judged it necessary to obtain thence the strong and decided authority of our colleagues who wrote to us; and they, declaring the testimony of their letters to be fully deserved by your character, and life, and teaching, have deprived even your rivals, and those who delight either in novelty or evil, of every scruple of doubt or of difference; and, according to our advice weighed in wholesome reason, the minds of the brethren tossing about in this sea have sincerely and decidedly approved your priesthood. For this, my brother, we especially both labour after, and ought to labour after, to be careful to maintain as much as we can the unity delivered by the Lord, and through His apostles to us their successors, and, as far as in us lies, to gather into the Church the dispersed and wandering sheep which the wilful faction and heretical temptation of some is separating from their Mother; those only being left outside, who by their obstinacy and madness have persisted, and have been unwilling to return to us; who themselves will have to give an account to the Lord of the dissension and separation made by them, and of the Church that they have forsaken.

4. Bill, so far as pertains to the cause of certain presbyters here, and of Felicissimus, that you may know what has been done here, our colleagues have sent you letters subscribed by their own hand, that you may learn, when you have heard the parties, from their letters what they have thought and what they have pronounced. But you will do better, [2374] brother, if you will also bid copies of the letters which I had sent lately by our colleagues Caldonius and Fortunatus to you, to he read for the common satisfaction, which I had written concerning the same Felicissimus and his presbytery to the clergy there, and also to the people, to be read to the brethren there; declaring your ordination, and the course of the whole transaction, that so as well there as here the brotherhood may be informed of all things by us. Moreover, I have here transmitted also copies of the same by Mettius the sub-deacon, sent by me, and by Nicephorus the acolyte. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle XLII. [2375]

To the Same, on His Having Sent Letters to the Confessors Whom Novatian Had Seduced.

Argument. The Argument of This Letter Sufficiently Appears from the Title. It is Manifest that This Letter and the Following Were Sent by One Messenger.

Cyprian to Cornelius his brother, greeting. I have though it both obligatory on me, and necessary for you, dearest brother, to write a short letter to the confessors who are there with you, and, seduced by the obstinacy and depravity of Novatian and Novatus, [2376] have departed from the Church; in which letter I might induce them, for the sake of our mutual affection, to return to their Mother, that is, to the Catholic Church. This letter I have first of all entrusted to you by Mettius the sub-deacon for your perusal, lest any one should pretend that I had written otherwise than according to the contents of my letter. I have, moreover, charged the same Mettius sent by me to you, that he should be guided by your decision; and if you should think that this letter should be given to the confessors, then that he should deliver it. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle XLIII. [2377]

To the Roman Confessors, that They Should Return to Unity.

Argument. He Exhorts the Roman Confessors Who Had Been Seduced by the Faction of Novatian and Novatus, to Return to Unity.

Cyprian to Maximus and Nicostratus, and the other confessors, greeting. As you have frequently gathered from my letters, beloved, what honour I have ever observed in my mode of speaking for your confession, and what love for the associated brotherhood; believe, I entreat you, and acquiesce in these my letters, wherein I both write and with simplicity and fidelity consult for you, and for your doings, and for your praise. For it weighs me down and saddens me, and the intolerable grief of a smitten, almost prostrate, spirit seizes me, when I find that you there, contrary to ecclesiastical order, contrary to evangelical law, contrary to the unity of the Catholic institution, had consented that another bishop should be made. [2378] That is what is neither right nor allowable to be done; that another church should be set up; that Christ's members should be torn asunder; that the one mind and body of the Lord's flock should be lacerated by a divided emulation. I entreat that in you, at all events, that unlawful rending of our brotherhood may not continue; but remembering both your confession and the divine tradition, you may return to the Mother whence you have gone forth; whence you came to the glory of confession with the rejoicing of the same Mother. And think not that you are thus maintaining the Gospel of Christ when you separate yourselves from the flock of Christ, and from His peace and concord; since it is more fitting for glorious and good soldiers to sit down within their own camp, and so placed within to manage and provide for those things which are to be dealt with in common. For as our unanimity and concord ought by no means to be divided, and because we cannot forsake the Church and go outside her to come to you, we beg and entreat you with what exhortations we can, rather to return to the Church your Mother, and to our brotherhood. I bid you, dearest brethren, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle XLIV. [2379]

To Cornelius, Concerning Polycarp the Adrumetine.

Argument. He Excuses Himself in This Letter for What Had Occurred, in That, During the Time that He Was at Adrumetum, Letters Had Been Sent Thence by the Clergy of Polycarp, Not to Cornelius, But to the Roman Clergy, Notwithstanding that Previously Polycarp Himself Had Written Rather to Cornelius. It Appears Tolerably Plain from the Context Itself that This Was Written After the Preceding Ones.

1. Cyprian to Cornelius his brother, greeting. I have read your letters, dearest brother, which you sent by Primitivus our co-presbyter, in which I perceived that you were annoyed that, whereas letters from the Adrumetine colony in the name of Polycarp were directed to you, yet after Liberalis and I came to that place, letters began to be directed thence to the presbyters and to the deacons.

2. In respect of which I wish you to know, and certainly to believe, that it was done from no levity or contempt. But when several of our colleagues who had assembled into one place had determined that, while our co-bishops Caldonius and Fortunatus were sent as ambassadors to you, all things should be in the meantime suspended as they were, until the same colleagues of ours, having reduced matters there to peace, or, having discovered their truth. should return to us; the presbyters and deacons abiding in the Adrumetine colony; in the absence of our co-bishop Polycarp, were ignorant of what had been decided in common by us. But when we came before them, and our purpose was understood, they themselves also began to observe what the others did, so that the agreement of the churches abiding there was in no respect broken.

3. Some persons, however, sometimes disturb men's minds and spirits by their words, in that they relate things otherwise than is the truth. For we, who furnish every person who sails hence with a plan that they may sail without any of-fence, know that we have exhorted them to acknowledge and hold the root and matrix of the Catholic Church. [2380] But since our province is wide-spread, and has Numidia and Mauritania attached to it; lest a schism made in the city should confuse the minds of the absent with uncertain opinions, we decided having obtained by means of the bishops the truth of the matter, and having got a greater authority for the proof of your ordination, and so at length every scruple being got rid of from the breast of every one that letters should be sent you by all who were placed anywhere in the province; as in fact is done, that so the whole of our colleagues might decidedly approve of and maintain both you and your communion, that is as well to the unity of the Catholic Church as to its charity. That all which has by God's direction come to pass, and that our design has under Providence been forwarded, we rejoice.

4. For thus as well the truth as the dignity of your episcopate has been established in the most open light, and with the most manifest and substantial approval; so that from the replies of our colleagues, who have thence written to us, and from the account and from the testimonies of our co-bishops Pompeius, and Stephanus, and Caldonius, and Fortunatus, both the needful cause and the right order, and moreover the glorious innocence, of your ordination might be known by all. That we, with the rest of our colleagues, may steadily and firmly administer this office, and keep it in the concordant unanimity of the Catholic Church, the divine condescension will accomplish; so that the Lord who condescends to elect and appoint for Himself priests in His Church, may protect them also when elected and appointed by His good-will and help, inspiring them to govern, and supplying both vigour for restraining the contumacy of the wicked, and gentleness for cherishing the penitence of the lapsed. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle XLV. [2381]

Cornelius to Cyprian, on the Return of the Confessors to Unity.

Argument. Cornelius Informs Cyprian of the Solemn Return of the Confessors to the Church, and Describes It.

1. Cornelius to Cyprian his brother, greeting. In proportion to the solicitude and anxiety that we sustained in respect of those confessors who had been circumvented and almost deceived and alienated from the Church by the craft and malice of that wily and subtle man, [2382] was the joy with which we were affected, and the thanks which we gave to Almighty God and to our Lord Christ, when they, acknowledging their error, and perceiving the poisoned cunning of the malignant man, as if of a serpent, came back, as they with one heart profess, with singleness of will to the Church from which they had gone forth. And first, indeed, our brethren of approved faith, loving peace and desiring unity, announced that the swelling pride of these men was already soothed; [2383] yet there was no fitting assurance to induce us easily to believe that they were thoroughly changed. But afterwards, Urbanus and Sidonius the confessors came to our presbyters, affirming that Maximus the confessor and presbyter, equally with themselves, desired to return into the Church; but since many things had preceded this which they had contrived, of which you also have been made aware from our co-bishops and from my letters, so that faith could not hastily be reposed in them, we determined to hear from their own mouth and confession those things which they had sent by the messengers. And when they came, and were required by the presbyters to give an account of what they had done, and were charged with having very lately repeatedly sent letters full of calumnies and reproaches, in their name, through all the churches, and had disturbed nearly all the churches; they affirmed that they had been deceived, and that they had not known what was in those letters; that only through being misled they had also committed schismatical acts, and been the authors of heresy, so that they suffered hands to be imposed on him as if upon a bishop. [2384] And when these and other matters had been charged upon them, they entreated that they might be done away and altogether discharged from memory.

2. The whole of this transaction therefore being brought before me, I decided that the presbytery [2385] should be brought together; (for there were present five bishops, who were also present to-day;) so that by well-grounded counsel it might be determined with the consent of all what ought to be observed in respect of their persons. And that you may know the feeling of all, and the advice of each one, I decided also to bring to your knowledge our various opinions, which you will read subjoined. When these things were done, Maximus, Urbanus, Sidonius, and several brethren who had joined themselves to them, came to the presbytery, desiring with earnest prayers that what had been done before might fall into oblivion, and no mention might be made of it; and promising that henceforth, as though nothing had been either done or said, all things on both sides being forgiven, they would now exhibit to God a heart clean and pure, following the evangelical word which says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." [2386] What remained was, that the people should be informed of all this proceeding, that they might see those very men established in the Church whom they had long seen and mourned as wanderers and scattered. Their will being known, a great concourse of the brotherhood was assembled. There was one voice from all, giving thanks to God; all were expressing the joy of their heart by tears, embracing them as if they had this day been set free from the penalty of the dungeon. And to quote their very own words, "We," they say, "know that Cornelius is bishop of the most holy Catholic Church elected by Almighty God, and by Christ our Lord. We confess our error; we have suffered imposture; we were deceived by captious perfidy and loquacity. For although we seemed, as it were, to have held a kind of communion with a man who was a schismatic and a heretic, yet our mind was always sincere in the Church. For we are not ignorant that there is one God; that there is one Christ the Lord whom we have confessed, and one Holy Spirit; and that in the Catholic Church there ought to be one bishop." [2387] Were we not rightly induced by that confession of theirs, [2388] to allow that what they had confessed before the power of the world they might approve when established in the Church? Wherefore we bade Maximus the presbyter to take his own place; the rest we received with great approbation of the people. But we remitted all things to Almighty God, in whose power all things are reserved.

3. These things therefore, brother, written to you in the same hour, at the same moment, we have transmitted; and I have sent away at once Nicephorus the acolyte, hastening to descend to embarkation, that so, no delay being made, you might, as if you had been present among that clergy and in that assembly of people, give thanks to Almighty God and to Christ our Lord. But we believe nay, we confide in it for certain-that the others also who have been ranged in this error will shortly return into the Church when they see their leaders acting with us. I think. brother, that you ought to send these letters also to the other churches, that all may know that the craft and prevarication of this schismatic and heretic are from day to day being reduced to nothing. Farewell, dearest brother.

Epistle XLVI. [2389]

Cyprian's Answer to Cornelius, Congratulating Him on the Return of the Confessors from Schism.

Argument. He Congratulates Him on the Return of the Confessors to the Church, and Reminds Him How Much that Return Benefits the Catholic Church.

1. Cyprian to Cornelius his brother, greeting. I profess that I both have rendered and do render the greatest thanks without ceasing, dearest brother, to God the Father Almighty, and to His Christ the Lord and our God and Saviour, that the Church is thus divinely protected, and its unity and holiness is not constantly nor altogether corrupted by the obstinacy of perfidy and heretical wickedness. For we have read your letter, and have exultingly received the greatest joy from the fulfilment of our common desire; to wit, that Maximus the presbyter, and Urbanus, the confessors, with Sidonius and Macarius, have re-entered into the Catholic Church, that is, that they have laid aside their error, and given up their schismatical, nay, their heretical madness, and have sought again in the soundness of faith the home of unity and truth; that whence they had gone forth to glory, thither they might gloriously return; and that they who had confessed Christ should not afterwards desert the camp of Christ, and that they might not tempt the faith of their charity and unity, [2390] who had not been overcome in strength and courage. Behold the safe and unspotted integrity of their praise; behold the uncorrupted and substantial dignity of these confessors, that they have departed from the deserters and fugitives, that they have left the betrayers of the faith, and the impugners of the Catholic Church. With reason did both the people and the brotherhood receive them when they returned, as you write, with the greatest joy; since in the glory of confessors who had maintained their glory, and returned to unity, there is none who does not reckon himself a partner and a sharer.

2. We can estimate the joy of that day [2391] from our own feelings. For if, in this place, the whole number of the brethren rejoiced at your letter which you sent concerning their confession, and received this tidings of common rejoicing with the greatest alacrity, what must have been the joy there when the matter itself, and the general gladness, was carried on tinder the eyes of all? For since the Lord in His Gospel says that there is the highest "joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth," [2392] how much greater is the joy in earth, no less than in heaven, over confessors who return with their glory and with praise to the Church of God, and make a way of returning for others by the faith and approval of their example? For this error had led away certain of our brethren, so that they thought they were following the communion of confessors. When this error was removed, light was infused into the breasts of all, and the Catholic Church has been shown to be one, and to be able neither to be cut nor divided. Nor can any one now be easily deceived by the talkative words of a raging schismatic, since it has been proved that good and glorious soldiers of Christ could not long be detained without the Church by the deceitfulness and perfidy of others. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle XLVII. [2393]

Cornelius to Cyprian, Concerning the Faction of Novatian with His Party.

Argument. Cornelius Gives Cyprian an Account of the Faction of Novatian. [2394]

Cornelius to Cyprian his brother, greeting. That nothing might be wanting to the future punishment of this wretched man, when cast down by the powers of God, (on the expulsion by you of Maximus, and Longinus, and Machaeus;) he has risen again; and, as I intimated in my former letter which I sent to you by Augendus the confessor, I think that Nicostratus, and Novatus, and Evaristus, and Primus, and Dionysius, have already come thither. Therefore let care be taken that it be made known to all our co-bishops and brethren, that Nicostratus is accused of many crimes, and that not only has he committed frauds and plunders on his secular patroness, whose affairs he managed; but, moreover (which is reserved to him for a perpetual punishment), he has abstracted no small deposits of the Church; that Evaristus has been the author of a schism; and that Zetus has been appointed bishop in his room, and his successor to the people over whom he had previously presided. But he contrived greater and worse things by his malice and insatiable wickedness than those which he was then always practising among his own people; so that you may know what kind of leaders and protectors that schismatic and heretic constantly had joined to his side. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily fare well.

Epistle XLVIII. [2395]

Cyprian's Answer to Cornelius, Concerning the Crimes of Novatus.

Argument. He Praises Cornelius, that He Had Given Him Timely Warning, Seeing that the Day After the Guilty Faction Had Come to Him He Had Received Cornelius Letter. Then He Describes at Length Novatus Crimes, and the Schism that Had Before Been Stirred Up by Him in Africa.

1. Cyprian to Cornelius his brother, greeting. You have acted, dearest brother, both with diligence and love, in sending us in haste Nicephorus the acolyte, who both told us the glorious gladness concerning the return of the confessors, and most fully instructed us against the new and mischievous devices of Novatian and Novatus for attacking the Church of Christ. For whereas on the day before, that mischievous faction of heretical wickedness had arrived here, itself already lost and ready to ruin others who should join it, on the day after, Nicephorus arrived with your letter. From which we both learnt ourselves, and have begun to teach and to instruct others, that Evaristus from being a bishop has now not remained even a layman; but, banished from the see and from the people, and an exile from the Church of Christ, he roves about far and wide through other provinces, and, himself having made shipwreck of truth and faith, is preparing for some who are like him, as fearful shipwrecks. Moreover, that Nicostratus, having lost the diaconate of sacred administrations, because he had abstracted the Church s money by a sacrilegious fraud, and disowned the deposits of the widows and orphans, did not wish so much to come into Africa as to escape thither from the city, from the consciousness of his rapines and his frightful crimes. And now a deserter and a fugitive from the Church, as if to have changed the clime were to change the man, he goes on to boast and announce himself a confessor, although he can no longer either be or be called a confessor of Christ who has denied Christ's Church. For when the Apostle Paul says, "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church; " [2396] when, I say, the blessed apostle says this, and with his sacred voice testifies to the unity of Christ with the Church, cleaving to one another with indivisible links, how can he be with Christ who is not with the spouse of Christ, and in His Church? [2397] Or how does he assume to himself the charge of ruling or governing the Church, who has spoiled and wronged the Church of Christ?

2. For about Novatus there need have been nothing told by you to us, since Novatus ought rather to have been shown by us to you, as always greedy of novelty, raging with the rapacity of an insatiable avarice, inflated with the arrogance and stupidity of swelling pride; always known with bad repute to the bishops there; always condemned by the voice of all the priests as a heretic and a perfidious man; always inquisitive, that he may betray: he flatters for the purpose of deceiving, never faithful that he may love; a torch and fire to blow up the flames of sedition; a whirlwind and tempest to make shipwrecks of the faith; the foe of quiet, the adversary of tranquillity, the enemy of peace. Finally, when Novatus withdrew thence from among you, that is, when the storm and the whirlwind departed, calm arose there in part, and the glorious and good confessors who by his instigation had departed from the Church, after he retired from the city, returned to the Church. This is the same Novatus who first sowed among us the flames of discord and schism; who separated some of the brethren here from the bishop; who, in the persecution itself, was to our people, as it were, another persecution, to overthrow the minds of the brethren. He it is who, without my leave or knowledge, of his own factiousness and ambition appointed his attendant Felicissimus a deacon, and with his own tempest sailing also to Rome to overthrow the Church, endeavoured to do similar and equal things there, forcibly separating a part of the people from the clergy, and dividing the concord of the fraternity that was firmly knit together and mutually loving one another. Since Rome from her greatness plainly ought to take precedence of Carthage, he there committed still greater and graver crimes. [2398] He who in the one place had made a deacon contrary to the Church, in the other made a bishop. Nor let any one be surprised at this in such men. The wicked are always madly carried away by their own furious passions; and after they have committed crimes, they are agitated by the very consciousness of a depraved mind. Neither can those remain in God s Church, who have not maintained its divine and ecclesiastical discipline, either in the conversation of their life or the peace of their character. Orphans despoiled by him, widows defrauded, moneys moreover of the Church withheld, exact from him those penalties which we behold inflicted in his madness. His father also died of hunger in the street, and afterwards even in death was not buried by him. The womb of his wife was smitten by a blow of his heel; and in the miscarriage that soon followed, the offspring was brought forth, the fruit of a father's murder. And now does he dare to condemn the hands of those who sacrifice, when he himself is more guilty in his feet, by which the son, who was about to be born, was slain?

3. He long ago feared this consciousness of crime. On account of this he regarded it as certain that he would not only be turned out of the presbytery, but restrained from communion; and by the urgency of the brethren, the day of investigation was coming on, on which his cause was to be dealt with before us, if the persecution had net prevented. He, welcoming this, with a sort of desire of escaping and evading condemnation, committed all these crimes, and wrought all this stir; so that he who was to be ejected and excluded from the Church, anticipated the judgment of the priests by a voluntary departure, as if to have anticipated the sentence were to have escaped the punishment.

4. But in respect to the other brethren, over whom we grieve that they were circumvented by him, we labour that they may avoid the mischievous neighbourhood of the crafty impostor, that they may escape the deadly nets of his solicitations, that they may once more seek the Church from which he deserved by divine authority to be expelled. Such indeed, with the Lord s help, we trust may return by His mercy, for one cannot perish unless it is plain that he must perish, since the Lord in His Gospel says, "Every planting which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up." [2399] He alone who has not been planted in the precepts and warnings of God the Father, can depart from the Church: he alone can forsake the bishops [2400] and abide in his madness with schismatics and heretics. But the mercy of God the Father, and the indulgence of Christ our Lord, and our own patience, will unite the rest with us. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle XLIX. [2401]

Maximus and the Other Confessors to Cyprian, About Their Return from Schism.

Argument. They Inform Cyprian that They Had Returned to the Church.

Maximus, Urbanus, Sidonius, and Macharius, to Cyprian their brother, greeting. We are certain, dearest brother, that you also rejoice together with us with equal earnestness, that we having taken advice, and especially, considering the interests and the peace of the Church, having passed by all other matters, and reserved them to God's judgment, have made peace with Cornelius our bishop, as well as with the whole clergy. [2402] You ought most certainly to know from these our letters that this was done with the joy of the whole Church, and even with the forward affection of the brethren. We pray, dearest brother, that for many years you may fare well.

Epistle L. [2403]

From Cyprian to the Confessors, Congratulating Them on Their Return from Schism.

Argument. Cyprian Congratulates the Roman Confessors on Their Return into the Church, and Replies to Their Letters.

1. Cyprian to Maximus the presbyter, also to Urbanus, and Sidonius, and Maturest, his brethren, greeting. When I read your letters, dearest brethren, that you wrote to me about your return, and about the peace of the Church, and the brotherly restoration, I confess that I was as greatly overjoyed as I had before been overjoyed when I learnt the glory of your confession, and thankfully received tidings of the heavenly and spiritual renown of your warfare. For this, moreover, is another confession of your faith and praise; to confess that the Church is one, and not to become a sharer in other men's error, or rather wickedness; to seek anew the same camp whence you went forth, whence with the most vigorous strength you leapt forth to wage the battle and to subdue the adversary. For the trophies from the battle-field ought to be brought back thither whence the arms for the field had been received, lest the Church of Christ should not retain those same glorious warriors whom Christ had furnished for glory. Now, however, you have kept in the peace of the Lord the fitting tenor of your faith and the law of undivided charity and concord, and have given by your walk an example of love and peace to others; so that the truth of the Church, and the unity of the Gospel mystery which is held by us, are also linked together by your consent and bond; and confessors of Christ do not become the leaders of error, after having stood forth as praiseworthy originators of virtue and honour.

2. Let others consider how much they may congratulate you, or how much each one may glory for himself: I confess that I congratulate you more, and I more boast of you to others, in respect of this your peaceful return and charity. For you ought in simplicity to hear what was in my heart. I grieved vehemently, and I was greatly afflicted, that I could not hold communion with those whom once I had begun to love. After the schismatical and heretical error laid hold of you, on your going forth from prison, it seemed as if your glory had been left in the dungeon. For there the dignity of your name seemed to have stayed behind when the soldiers of Christ did not return from the prison to the Church, although they had gone into the prison with the praise and congratulations of the Church.

3. For although there seem to be tares in the Church, yet neither our faith nor our charity ought to be hindered, so that because we see that there are tares in the Church we ourselves should withdraw from the Church: we ought only to labour that we may be wheat, that when the wheat shall begin to be gathered into the Lord's barns, we may receive fruit for our labour and work. The apostle in his Epistle says, "In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth, and some to honour and some to dishonour." [2404] Let us strive, dearest brethren, and labour as much as we possibly can, that we may be vessels of gold or silver. But to the Lord alone it is granted to break the vessels of earth, to whom also is given the rod of iron. The servant cannot be greater than his lord, nor may any one claim to himself what the Father has given to the Son alone, so as to think that he can take the fan for winnowing and purging the threshing-floor, or can separate by human judgment all the tares from the wheat. That is a proud obstinacy and a sacrilegious presumption which a depraved madness assumes to itself. And while some are always assuming to themselves more dominion than meek justice demands, they perish from the Church; and while they insolently extol themselves, blinded by their own swelling, they lose the light of truth. For which reason we also, keeping moderation, and considering the Lord's balances, and thinking of the love and mercy of God the Father, have long and carefully pondered with ourselves, and have weighed what was to be done with due moderation.

4. All which matters you can look into thoroughly, if you will read the tracts [2405] which I have lately read here, and have, for the sake of our mutual love, transmitted to you also for you to read; wherein there is neither wanting for the lapsed, censure which may rebuke, nor medicine which may heal. Moreover, my feeble ability has expressed as well as it could the unity of the Catholic Church. [2406] Which treatise I now more and more trust will be pleasing to you, since you now read it in such a way as both to approve and love it; inasmuch as what we have written in words you fulfil in deeds, when you return to the Church in the unity of charity and peace. I bid you, dearest brethren, and greatly longed-for, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle LI. [2407]

To Antonianus About Cornelius and Novatian.

Argument. When Antonianus, Having Received Letters from Novatian, Had Begun to Be Disposed in His Mind Towards His Party, Cyprian Confirms Him in His Former Opinion, Namely, that of Continuing to Hold Communion with His Bishop and So with the Catholic Church. He Excuses Himself for His Own Change of Opinion in Respect of the Lapsed, and at the End He Explains Wherein Consists the Novatian Heresy. [2408]

1. Cyprian to Antonianus his brother, greeting. I received your first letters, dearest brother, firmly maintaining the concord of the priestly college, and adhering to the Catholic Church, in which you intimated that you did not hold communion with Novatian, but followed my advice, and held one common agreement with Cornelius our co-bishop. [2409] You wrote, moreover, for me to transmit a copy of those same letters to Cornelius our colleague, so that he might lay aside all anxiety, and know at once that you held communion with him, that is, with the Catholic Church. [2410]

2. But subsequently there arrived other letters of yours sent by Quintus our co-presbyter, in which I observed that your mind, influenced by I the letters of Novatian, had begun to waver. For although previously you had settled your opinion and consent firmly, you desired in these letters that I should write to you once more what heresy Novatian had introduced, or on what grounds Cornelius holds communion with Trophimus and the sacrificers. In which matters, indeed, if you are anxiously careful, from solicitude for the faith, and are diligently seeking out the truth of a doubtful matter, the hesitating anxiety of a mind undecided in the fear of God, is not to be blamed.

3. Yet, as I see that after the first opinion expressed in your letter, you have been disturbed subsequently by letters of Novatian, I assert this first of all, dearest brother, that grave men, and men who are once established upon the strong rock with solid firmness, are not moved, I say not with a light air, but even with a wind or a tempest, lest their mind, changeable and uncertain, be frequently agitated hither and thither by various opinions, as by gusts of wind rushing on them, and so be turned from its purpose with some reproach of levity. That the letters of Novatian may not do this with you, nor with any one, I will set before you, as you have desired, my brother, an account of the matter in few words. And first of all indeed, as you also seem troubled about what I too have done, I must clear my own person and cause in your eyes, lest any should think that I have lightly withdrawn from my purpose, and while at first and at the commencement I maintained evangelical vigour, yet subsequently I seem to have turned my mind from discipline and from its former severity of judgment, so as to think that those who have stained their conscience with certificates, or have offered abominable sacrifices, are to have peace made easy to them. Both of which things have been done by me, not without long-balanced and pondered reasons.

4. For when the battle was still going on, and the struggle of a glorious contest was raging in the persecution, the courage of the soldiers had to be excited with every exhortation, and with full urgency, and especially the minds of the lapsed had to be roused with the trumpet call, as it were, of my voice, that they might pursue the way of repentance, not only with prayers and lamentations; but, since an opportunity was given of repeating the struggle and of regaining salvation, that they might be reproved by my voice, and stimulated rather to the ardour of confession and the glory of martyrdom. Finally, when the presbyters and deacons had written to me about some persons, that they were without moderation and were eagerly pressing forward to receive communion; replying to them in my letter which is still in existence, [2411] then I added also this: "If these are so excessively eager, they have what they require in their own power, the time itself providing for them more than they ask: the battle is still being carried on, and the struggle is daily celebrated: if they truly and substantially repent of what they have done, and the ardour of their faith prevails, he who cannot be delayed may be crowned." But I put off deciding what was to be arranged about the case of the lapsed, so that when quiet and tranquillity should be granted, and the divine indulgence should allow the bishops to assemble into one place, then the advice gathered from the comparison of all opinions being communicated and weighed, we might determine what was necessary to be done. But if any one, before our council, [2412] and before the opinion decided upon by the advice of all, should rashly wish to communicate with the lapsed, he himself should be withheld from communion.

5. And this also I wrote very fully to Rome, to the clergy who were then still acting without a bishop, and to the confessors, Maximus the presbyter, and the rest who were then shut up in prison, but are now in the Church, joined with Cornelius. You may know that I wrote this from their reply, for in their letter they wrote thus: "However, what you have yourself also declared in so important a matter is satisfactory to us, that the peace of the Church must first be maintained; then, that an assembly for counsel being gathered together, with bishop, presbyters, deacons, and confessors, as well as with the laity who stand fast, we should deal with the case of the lapsed." [2413] It was added also Novatian then writing, and reciting with his own voice what he had written, and the presbyter Moyses, then still a confessor, but now a martyr, subscribing that peace ought to be granted to the lapsed who were sick and at the point of departure. Which letter was sent throughout the whole world, and was brought to the knowledge of all the churches and all the brethren. [2414]

6. According, however, to what had been before decided, when the persecution was quieted, and opportunity of meeting was afforded; a large number of bishops, whom their faith and the divine protection had preserved in soundness and safety, we met together; and the divine Scriptures being brought forward [2415] on both sides, we balanced the decision with wholesome moderation, so that neither should hope of communion and peace be wholly denied to the lapsed, lest they should fail still more through desperation. and, because the Church was closed to them, should, like the world, live as heathens; nor yet, on the other hand, should the censure of the Gospel be relaxed, so that they might rashly rush to communion, but that repentance should be long protracted, and the paternal clemency be sorrowfully besought, and the cases, and the wishes, and the necessities of individuals be examined into, according to what is contained in a little book, which I trust has come to you, in which the several heads of our decisions are collected. And lest perchance the number of bishops in Africa should seem unsatisfactory, we also wrote to Rome, to Cornelius our colleague, concerning this thing, who himself also holding a council with very many bishops, concurred in the same opinion as we had held, with equal gravity and wholesome moderation. [2416]

7. Concerning which it has now become necessary to write to you, that you may know that I have done nothing lightly, but, according to what I had before comprised in my letters, had put off everything to the common determination of our council, and indeed communicated with no one of the lapsed as yet, so long as there still was an opening by which the lapsed might receive not only pardon, but also a crown. Yet afterwards, as the agreement of our college, and the advantage of gathering the fraternity together and of healing their wound required, I submitted to the necessity of the times, and thought that the safety of the many must be provided for; and I do not now recede from these things which have once been determined in our council by common agreement, although many things are ventilated by the voices of many, and lies against God's priests uttered from the devil s mouth, and tossed about everywhere, to the rupture of the concord of Catholic unity. But it behoves you, as a good brother and a fellow-priest like-minded, not easily to receive what malignants and apostates may say, but carefully to weigh what your colleagues, modest and grave men, may do, from an investigation of our life and teaching.

8. I come now, dearest brother, to the character of Cornelius our colleague, that with us you may more justly know Cornelius, not from the lies of malignants and detractors, but from the judgment of the Lord God, who made him a bishop, and from the testimony of his fellow-bishops, the whole number of whom has agreed with an absolute unanimity throughout the whole world. For, a thing which with laudable announcement commends our dearest Cornelius to God and Christ, and to His Church, and also to all his fellow-priests, he was not one who on a sudden attained to the episcopate; but, promoted through all the ecclesiastical offices, and having often deserved well of the Lord in divine administrations, he ascended by all the grades of religious service to the lofty summit of the Priesthood. Then, moreover, he did not either ask for the episcopate itself, nor did he wish it; nor, as others do when the swelling of their l arrogance and pride inflates them, did he seize upon it; [2417] but quiet otherwise, and meek and such as those are accustomed to be who are chosen of God to this office, having regard to the modesty of his virgin continency, and the humility of his inborn and guarded veneration, he did not, as some do, use force to be made a bishop, but he himself suffered compulsion, so as to be forced to receive the episcopal office. And he was made bishop by very many of our colleagues who were then present in the city of Rome, who sent to us letters concerning his ordination, honourable and laudatory, and remarkable for their testimony in announcement of him. Moreover, Cornelius was made bishop by the judgment of God and of His Christ, by the testimony of almost all the clergy, by the suffrage of the people who were then present, and by the assembly of ancient priests and good men, when no one had been made so before him, when the place of Fabian, that is, when the place of Peter [2418] and the degree of the sacerdotal throne was vacant; which being occupied by the will of God, and established by the consent of all of us, whosoever now wishes to become a bishop, must needs be made from without; and he cannot have the ordination of the Church who does not hold the unity of the Church. Whoever he may be, although greatly boasting about himself, and claiming very much for himself, he is profane, he is an alien, he is without. And as after the first there cannot be a second, whosoever is made after one who ought to be alone, is not second to him, but is in fact none at all.

9. Then afterwards, when he had undertaken the episcopate, not obtained by solicitation nor by extortion, but by the will of God who makes priests; what a virtue there was in the very undertaking of his episcopate, what strength of mind, what firmness of faith, a thing that we ought with simple heart both thoroughly to look into and to praise, that he intrepidly sate at Rome in the sacerdotal chair at that time when a tyrant, odious to God s priests, was threatening things that can, and cannot be spoken, inasmuch as he would much more patiently and tolerantly hear that a rival prince was raised up against himself than that a priest of God was established at Rome. Is not this man, dearest brother, to be commended with the highest testimony of virtue and faith? Is not he to be esteemed among the glorious confessors and martyrs, who for so long a time sate awaiting the manglers of his body and the avengers of a ferocious tyrant, who, when Cornelius resisted their deadly edicts, and trampled on their threats and sufferings and tortures by the vigour of his faith, would either rush upon him with the sword, or crucify him, or scorch him with fire, or rend his bowels and his limbs with some unheard-of kind of punishment? Even though the majesty and goodness of the protecting Lord guarded, when made, the priest whom He willed to be made; yet Cornelius, in what pertains to his devotion and fear, suffered [2419] whatever he could suffer, and conquered the tyrant first of all by his priestly office, who was afterwards conquered in arms and in war.

10. But in respect to certain discreditable and malignant things that are bandied about concerning him, I would not have you wonder when you know that this is always the work of the devil, to wound God's servants with lies, and to defame a glorious name by false opinions, so that they who are bright in the light of their own conscience may be tarnished by the reports of others Moreover, you are to know that our colleagues have investigated, and have certainly discovered that he has been blemished with no stain of a certificate, as some intimate; neither has he mingled in sacrilegious communion with the bishops who have sacrificed, but has merely associated with us those whose cause had been heard, and whose innocence was approved.

11. For with respect to Trophimus also, of whom you wished tidings to be written to you, the case is not as the report and the falsehood of malignant people had conveyed it to you. For, as our predecessors often did, our dearest brother, in bringing together the brethren, yielded to necessity; and since a very large part of the people had withdrawn with Trophimus, now when Trophimus returned to the Church, and atoned for, and with the penitence of prayer confessed his former error, and with perfect humility and satisfaction recalled the brotherhood whom he had lately taken away, his prayers were heard; and not only Trophimus, but a very great number of brethren who had been with Trophimus, were admitted into the Church of the Lord, who would not all have returned to the Church unless they had come in Trophimus company. Therefore the matter being considered there with several colleagues, [2420] Trophimus was received, for whom the return of the brethren and salvation restored to many made atonement. Yet Trophimus was admitted in such a manner as only to communicate as a layman, not, according to the information given to you by the letters of the malignants, in such a way as to assume the place of a priest.

12. But, moreover, in respect of what has been told you, that Cornelius communicates everywhere with those who have sacrificed, this intelligence has also arisen from the false reports of the apostates. For neither can they praise us who depart from us, nor ought we to expect to please them, who, while they displease us, and revolt against the Church, violently persist in soliciting brethren away from the Church. Wherefore, dearest brethren, do not with facility either hear or believe whatever is currently rumoured against Cornelius and about me.

13. For if any are seized with sicknesses, help is given to them in danger, as it has been decided. Yet after they have been assisted, and peace has been granted to them in their danger, they cannot be suffocated by us, or destroyed, [2421] or by our force or hands urged on to the result of death; as if, because peace is granted to the dying, it were necessary that those who have received peace should die; although the token of divine love and paternal lenity appears more in this way, that they, who in peace given to them receive the pledge of life, are moreover here bound to life by the peace they have received. And therefore, if with peace received, a reprieve is given by God, no one ought to complain of the priests for this, when once it has been decided that brethren are to be aided in peril. Neither must you think, dearest brother, as some do, that those who receive certificates are to be put on a par with those who have sacrificed; since even among those who have sacrificed, the condition and the case are frequently different. For we must not place on a level one who has at once leapt forward with good-will to the abominable sacrifice, and one who, after long struggle and resistance, has reached that fatal result under compulsion; one who has betrayed both himself and all his connections, and one who, himself approaching the trial in behalf of all, has protected his wife and his children, and his whole family, by himself undergoing the danger; one who has compelled his inmates or friends to the crime, and one who has spared inmates and servants, and has even. received many brethren who were departing to banishment and flight, into his house and hospitality; showing and offering to the Lord many souls living and safe to entreat for a single wounded one.

14. Since, then, there is much difference [2422] between those who have sacrificed, what a want of mercy it is, and how bitter is the hardship, to associate those who have received certificates, with those who have sacrificed, when he by whom the certificate has been received may say, "I had previously read, and had been made aware by the discourse of the bishop, [2423] that we must not sacrifice to idols, that the servant of God ought not to worship images; and therefore, in order that I might not do this which was net lawful, when the opportunity of receiving a certificate was offered, which itself also I should not have received, unless the opportunity had been put before me, I either went or charged some other person going to the magistrate, to say that I am a Christian, that I am not allowed to sacrifice, that I cannot come to the devil's altars, and that I pay a price for this purpose, that I may not do what is not lawful for me to do." Now, however, even he who is stained with having received a certificate, after he has learnt from our admonitions that he ought not even to have done this, and that although his hand is pure, and no contact of deadly food has polluted his lips, yet his conscience is nevertheless polluted, weeps when he hears us, and laments, and is now admonished of the thing wherein he has sinned, and having been deceived, not so much by guilt as by error, bears witness that for another time he is instructed and prepared.

15. If we reject the repentance of those who have some confidence in a conscience that may be tolerated; at once with their wife, with their children, whom they had kept safe, they are hurried by the devil s invitation into heresy or schism; and it will be attributed to us in the day of judgment, that we have not cared for the wounded sheep, [2424] and that on account of a single wounded one we have lost many sound ones. And whereas the Lord left the ninety and nine that were whole, and sought after the one wandering and weary, and Himself carried it, when found, upon His shoulders, we not only do not seek the lapsed, but even drive them away when they come to us; and while false prophets are not ceasing to lay waste and tear Christ's flock, we give an opportunity to dogs and wolves, so that those whom a hateful persecution has not destroyed, we ruin by our hardness and inhumanity. And what will become, dearest brother, of what the apostle says: "I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ." [2425] And again: "To the weak I became as weak, that I might gain the weak." [2426] And again: "Whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member rejoice, all the members rejoice with it." [2427]

16. The principle of the philosophers and stoics is different, dearest brother, who say that all sins are equal, and that a grave man ought not easily to be moved. But there is a wide difference between Christians and philosophers. And when the apostle says, "Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit," [2428] we are to avoid those things which do not come from God's clemency, but are begotten of the presumption of a too rigid philosophy. Concerning Moses, moreover, we find it said in the Scriptures, "Now the man Moses was very meek; " [2429] and the Lord in His Gospel says, "Be ye merciful, as your Father also had mercy upon you; " [2430] and again, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." [2431] What medical skill can he exercise who says, "I cure the sound only, who have no need of a physician? "We ought to give our assistance, our healing art, to those who are wounded; neither let us think them dead, but rather let us regard them as lying half alive, whom we see to have been wounded in the fatal persecution, and who, if they had been altogether dead, would never from the same men become afterwards both confessors and martyrs. [2432]

17. But since in them there is that, which, by subsequent repentance, may be strengthened into faith; and by repentance strength is armed to virtue, which could not be armed if one should fall away through despair; if, hardly and cruelly separated from the Church, he should turn himself to Gentile ways and to worldly works, or, if rejected by the Church, he should pass over to heretics and schismatics; where, although he should afterwards be put to death on account of the name, still, being placed outside the Church, and divided from unity and from charity, he could not in his death be crowned. And therefore it was decided, dearest brother, the case of each individual having been examined into, that the receivers of certificates should in the meantime be admitted, that those who had sacrificed should be assisted at death, because there is no confession in the place of the departed, [2433] nor can any one be constrained by us to repentance, if the fruit of repentance be taken away. If the battle should come first, strengthened by us, he will be found ready armed for the battle; but if sickness should press hard upon him before the battle, he departs with the consolation of peace and communion.

18. Moreover, we do not prejudge when the Lord is to be the judge; save that if He shall find the repentance of the sinners full and sound, He will then ratify what shall have been here determined by us. If, however, any one should delude us with the pretence of repentance, God, who is not mocked, and who looks into man's heart, will judge of those things which we have imperfectly looked into, and the Lord will amend the sentence of His servants; while yet, dearest brother, we ought to remember that it is written, "A brother that helpeth a brother shall be exalted; " [2434] and that the apostle also has said, "Let all of you severally have regard to yourselves, lest ye also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ; " [2435] also that, rebuking the haughty, and breaking down their arrogance, he says in his Epistle, "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall; " [2436] and in another place he says, "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth; yea, he shall stand, for God is able to make him stand." [2437] John also proves that Jesus Christ the Lord is our Advocate and Intercessor for our sins, saying, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Supporter: and He is the propitiation for our sins." [2438] And Paul also, the apostle, in his Epistle, has written, "If, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us; much more, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." [2439]

19. Considering His love and mercy, we ought not to be so bitter, nor cruel, nor inhuman in cherishing the brethren, but to mourn with those that mourn, and to weep with them that weep, and to raise them up as much as we can by the help and comfort of our love; neither being too ungentle and pertinacious in repelling their repentance; nor, again, being too lax and easy in rashly yielding communion. Lo! a wounded brother lies stricken by the enemy in the field of battle. There the devil is striving to slay him whom he has wounded; here Christ is exhorting that he whom He has redeemed may not wholly perish. Whether of the two do we assist? On whose side do we stand? Whether do we favour the devil, that he may destroy, and pass by our prostrate lifeless brother, as in the Gospel did the priest and Levite; or rather, as priests of God and Christ, do we imitate what Christ both taught and did, and snatch the wounded man from the jaws of the enemy, that we may preserve him cured for God the judge? [2440]

20. And do not think, dearest brother, that either the courage of the brethren will be lessened, or that martyrdoms will fail for this cause, that repentance is relaxed to the lapsed, and that the hope of peace is offered to the penitent. The strength of the truly believing remains unshaken; and with those who fear and love God with their whole heart, their integrity continues steady and strong. For to adulterers even a time of repentance is granted by us, and peace is given. Yet virginity is not therefore deficient in the Church, nor does the glorious design of continence languish through the sins of others. The Church, crowned with so many virgins, flourishes; and chastity and modesty preserve the tenor of their glory. Nor is the vigour of continence broken down because repentance and pardon are facilitated to the adulterer. It is one thing to stand for pardon, another thing to attain to glory: it is one thing, when cast into prison, not to go out thence until one has paid the uttermost farthing; another thing at once to receive the wages of faith and courage. It is one thing, tortured by long suffering for sins, to be cleansed and long purged by fire; [2441] another to have purged all sins by suffering. It is one thing, in fine, to be in suspense till the sentence of God at the day of judgment; another to be at once crowned by the Lord.

21. And, indeed, among our predecessors, some of the bishops here in our province thought that peace was not to be granted to adulterers, and wholly closed the gate of repentance against adultery. Still they did not withdraw from the assembly of their co-bishops, nor break the unity of the Catholic Church [2442] by the persistency of their severity or censure; so that, because by some peace was granted to adulterers, he who did not grant it should be separated from the Church. While the bond of concord remains, and the undivided sacrament of the Catholic Church endures, every bishop disposes and directs his own acts, and will have to give an account of his purposes to the Lord. [2443]

22. But I wonder that some are so obstinate as to think that repentance is not to be granted to the lapsed, or to suppose that pardon is to be denied to the penitent, when it is written, "Remember whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works," [2444] which certainly is said to him who evidently has fallen, and whom the Lord exhorts to rise up again by his works, because it is written, "Alms do deliver from death," [2445] and not, assuredly, from that death which once the blood of Christ extinguished, and from which the saving grace of baptism and of our Redeemer has delivered us, but from that which subsequently creeps in through sins. Moreover, in another place time is granted for repentance; and the Lord threatens him that does not repent: "I have," saith He, "many things against thee, because thou sufferest thy wife Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols; and I gave her a space to repent, and she will not repent of her fornication. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds; " [2446] whom certainly the Lord would not exhort to repentance, if it were not that He promises mercy to them that repent. And in the Gospel He says, "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance." [2447] For since it is written, "God did not make death, neither hath He pleasure in the destruction of the living," [2448] assuredly He who wills that none should perish, desires that sinners should repent, and by repentance should return again to life. Thus also He cries by Joel the prophet, and says, "And now, thus saith the Lord your God, Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your heart, and not your garments, and return unto the Lord your God; for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil appointed." [2449] In the Psalms, also, we read as well the rebuke as the clemency of God, threatening at the same time as He spares, punishing that He may correct; and when He has corrected, preserving. "I will visit," He says, "their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from them." [2450]

23. The Lord also in His Gospel, setting forth the love of God the Father, says, "What man is there of you, whom, if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much l more shall your heavenly Father give good things to them that ask Him?" [2451] The Lord is here comparing the father after the flesh, and the eternal and liberal love of God the Father. But if that evil father upon earth, deeply offended by a sinful and evil son, yet if he should see the same son afterwards reformed, and, the sins of his former life being put away, restored to sobriety and morality and to the discipline of innocence by the sorrow of his repentance, both rejoices and gives thanks, and with the eagerness of a father's exultation, embraces the restored one, whom before he had cast out; how much more does that one and true Father, good, merciful, and loving yea, Himself Goodness and Mercy and Love rejoice in the repentance of His own sons! nor threatens punishment to those who are now repenting, or mourning and lamenting, but rather promises pardon and clemency. Whence the Lord in the Gospel calls those that mourn, blessed; because he who mourns calls forth mercy. [2452] He who is stubborn and haughty heaps up wrath against himself, and the punishment of the coming judgment. And therefore, dearest brother, we have decided that those who do not repent, nor give evidence of sorrow for their sins with their whole heart, and with manifest profession of their lamentation, are to be absolutely restrained from the hope of communion and peace if they begin to beg for them in the midst of sickness and peril; because it is not repentance for sin, but the warning of urgent death, that drives them to ask; and he is not worthy to receive consolation in death who has not reflected that he was about to die.

24. In reference, however, to the character of Novatian, dearest brother, of whom you desired that intelligence should be written you what heresy he had introduced; know that, in the first place, we ought not even to be inquisitive as to what he teaches, so long as he teaches out of the pale of unity. Whoever he may be, and whatever he may be, he who is not in the Church of Christ is not a Christian. Although he may boast himself, and announce his philosophy or eloquence with lofty words, yet he who has not maintained brotherly love or ecclesiastical unity has lost even what he previously had been. Unless he seems to you to be a bishop, who when a bishop has been made in the Church by sixteen [2453] co-bishops strives by bribery to be made an adulterous and extraneous bishop by the hands of deserters; and although there is one Church, divided by Christ throughout the whole world into many members, and also one episcopate diffused through a harmonious multitude of many bishops; [2454] in spite of God s tradition, in spite of the combined and everywhere compacted unity of the Catholic Church, is endeavouring to make a human church, and is sending his new apostles through very many cities, that he may establish some new foundations of his own appointment. And although there have already been ordained in each city, and through all the provinces, bishops old in years, sound in faith, proved in trial, proscribed in persecution, (this one) dares to create over these other and false bishops: as if he could either wander over the whole world with the persistence of his new endeavour, or break asunder the structure of the ecclesiastical body, by the propagation of his own discord, not knowing that schismatics are always fervid at the beginning, but that they cannot increase nor add to what they have unlawfully begun, but that they immediately fail together with their evil emulation. But he could not hold the episcopate, even if he had before been made bishop, since he has cut himself off from the body of his fellow-bishops, and from the unity of the Church; since the apostle admonishes that we should mutually sustain one another, and not withdraw from the unity which God has appointed, and says, "Bearing with one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." [2455] He then who neither maintains the unity of the Spirit nor the bond of peace, and separates himself from the band of the Church, and from the assembly of priests, can neither have the power nor the honour of a bishop, since he has refused to maintain either the unity or the peace of the episcopate. [2456]

25. Then, moreover, what a swelling of arrogance it is, what oblivion of humility and gentleness, what a boasting of his own arrogance, that any one should either dare, or think that he is able, to do what the Lord did not even grant to the apostles; that he should think that he can discern the tares from the wheat, or, as if it were granted to him to bear the fan and to purge the threshing-floor, should endeavour to separate the chaff from the wheat; and since the apostle says, "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth," [2457] should think to choose the vessels of gold and of silver, to despise, to cast away, and to condemn the vessels of wood and of clay; while the vessels of wood are not burnt up except in the day of the Lord by the flame of the divine burning, and the vessels of clay are only broken by Him to whom is given the rod of iron.

26. Or if he appoints himself a searcher and judge of the heart and reins, let him in all cases judge equally. And as he knows that it is written, "Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing happen unto thee," [2458] let him separate the fraudulent and adulterers from his side and from his company, since the case of an adulterer is by far both graver and worse than that of one who has taken a certificate, because the latter has sinned by necessity, the former by free will: the latter, thinking that it is sufficient for him that he has not sacrificed, has been deceived by an error; the former, a violator of the matrimonial tie of another, or entering a brothel, into the sink and filthy gulf of the common people, has befouled by detestable impurity a sanctified body and God's temple, as says the apostle: "Every sin that a man doeth is without the body, but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body." [2459] And yet to these persons themselves repentance is granted, and the hope of lamenting and atoning is left, according to the saying of the same apostle: "I fear lest, when I come to you, I shall bewail many of those who have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness, and fornication, and lasciviousness which they have committed." [2460]

27. Neither let the new heretics flatter themselves in this, that they say that they do not communicate with idolaters; although among them there are both adulterers and fraudulent persons, who are held guilty of the crime of idolatry, according to the saying of the apostle: "For know this with understanding, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, whose guilt is that of idolatry, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." [2461] And again: "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; putting off fornication, uncleanness, and evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which are the service of idols: for which things sake cometh the wrath of God." [2462] For as our bodies are members of Christ, and we are each a temple of God, whosoever violates the temple of God by adultery, violates God; and he who, in committing sins, does the will of the devil, serves demons and idols. For evil deeds do not come from the Holy Spirit, but from the prompting of the adversary, and lusts born of the unclean spirit constrain men to act against God and to obey the devil. Thus it happens that if they say that one is polluted by another's sin, and if they con tend, by their own asseveration, that the idolatry of the delinquent passes over to one who is not guilty according to their own word; they cannot be excused from the crime of idolatry, since from the apostolic proof it is evident that the adulterers and defrauders with whom they communicate are idolaters. But with us, according to our faith and the given rule of divine preaching, agrees the principle of truth, that every one is himself held fast in his own sin; nor can one become guilty for another, since the Lord forewarns us, saying, "The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." [2463] And again: "The fathers shall not die for the children, and the children shall not die for the fathers. Every one shall die in his own sin." [2464] Reading and observing this, we certainly think that no one is to be restrained from the fruit of satisfaction, and the hope of peace, since we know, according to the faith of the divine Scriptures, God Himself being their author, and exhorting in them, both that sinners are brought back to repentance, and that pardon and mercy are not denied to penitents. [2465]

28. And oh, mockery of a deceived fraternity! Oh, vain deception of miserable and senseless mourners! Oh, ineffectual and profitless tradition of heretical institution! to exhort to the repentance of atonement, and to take away the healing from the atonement; to say to our brethren, "Mourn and shed tears, and groan day and night, and labour largely and frequently for the washing away and cleansing of your sin; but, after all these things, you shall die without the pale of the Church. Whatsoever things are necessary to peace, you shall do, but none of that peace which you seek shall you receive!" Who would not perish at once? Who would not fall away, from very desperation? Who would not turn away his mind from all design of lamentation? Do you think that the husbandman could labour if you should say, "Till the field with all the skill of husbandry, diligently persevere in its cultivation; but you shall reap no harvest, you shall press no vintage, you shall receive no fruits of your olive-yard, you shall gather no apples from the trees; "or if, urging upon any one the possession and use of ships, you were to say, "Purchase, my brother, material from excellent woods; inweave your keel with the strongest and chosen oak; labour on the rudder, the ropes, the sails, that the ship may be constructed and fitted; but when you have done this, you shall never behold the result from its doings and its voyages? "

29. This is to shut up and to cut off the way of grief and of repentance; so that while in all Scripture the Lord God sooths those who return to Him and repent, repentance itself is taken away by our hardness and cruelty, which intercepts the fruits of repentance. But if we find that none ought to be restrained from repenting, and that peace may be granted by His priests to those who entreat and beseech the Lord's mercy, inasmuch as He is merciful and loving, the groaning of those who mourn is to be admitted, and the fruit of repentance is not to be denied to those who grieve. And because in the place of the departed there is no confession, neither can confession be made there, [2466] they who have repented from their whole heart, and have asked for it, ought to be received within the Church, and to be kept in it for the Lord, who will of a surety judge, when He comes to His Church, those whom He shall find within it. But apostates and deserters, or adversaries and enemies, and those who lay waste the Church of Christ, cannot, even if outside the Church they have been slain for His name, according to the apostle, be admitted to the peace of the Church, since they have neither kept the unity of the spirit nor of the Church.

30. These few things for the present, out of many, dearest brother, I have run over as briefly as I could, that I might thereby both satisfy your desire, and might link you more and more closely to the society of our college and body. [2467] But if there should arise to you an opportunity and power of coming to us, we shall be able to confer more fully together, and to consider more fruitfully and more at large the things which make for a salutary agreement. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle LII. [2468]

To Fortunatus and His Other Colleagues, Concerning Those Who Had Been Overcome by Tortures.

Argument. Cyprian Being Consulted by His Colleagues, Whether Certain Lapsed Persons Who Had Been Overpowered by Torture Should Be Admitted to Communion, Replies, that Inasmuch as They Had Already Repented for the Space of Three Years, He Thought They Should Be Received; But as After the Festival of Easter There Would Be a Council of Bishops with Him, He Would Then Consider the Matter with Them.

1. Cyprian to Fortunatus, Ahymnus, Optatus, Privatianus, Donatulus, and Felix, his brethren, greeting, You have written to me, dearest brethren, that when you were in the city of Capsa for the purpose of ordaining a bishop, Superius, our brother and colleague brought before you, that Ninus, Clementianus, and Florus, our brethren, who had been previously laid hold of in the persecution, and confessing the name of the Lord, had overcome the violence of the magistracy, and the attack of a raging populace, afterwards, when they were tortured before the proconsul with severe sufferings, were vanquished by the acuteness of the torments, and fell, through their lengthened agonies, from the degree of glory to which in the full virtue of faith they were tending, and after this grave lapse, incurred not willingly but of necessity, had not yet ceased their repentance for the space of three years: of whom you thought it right to consult whether it was well to receive them now to communion.

2. And indeed, in respect of my own opinion, I think that the Lord's mercy will not be wanting to those who are known to have stood in the ranks of battle, to have confessed the name, [2469] to have overcome the violence of the magistrates and the rush of the raging populace with the persistency of unshaken faith, to have suffered imprisonment, to have long resisted, amidst the threats of the proconsul and the warring of the surrounding people, torments that wrenched and tore them with protracted repetition; so that in the last moment to have been vanquished by the infirmity of the flesh, may be extenuated by the plea of preceding deserts. And it may be sufficient for such to have lost their glory, but that we ought not, moreover, to close the place of pardon to them, and deprive them of their Father's love and of our communion; to whom we think it may be sufficient for entreating the mercy of the Lord, that for three years continually and sorrowfully, as you write, they have lamented with excessive penitential mourning. Assuredly I do not think that peace is incautiously and over-hastily granted to those, who by the bravery of their warfare, have not, we see, been previously wanting to the battle; and who, if the struggle should come on anew, might be able to regain their glory. For when it was decided in the council that penitents in peril of sickness should be assisted, and have peace granted to them, surely those ought to precede in receiving peace whom we see not to have fallen by weakness of mind, but who, having engaged in the conflict, and being wounded, have not been able to sustain the crown of their confession through weakness of the flesh; especially since, in their desire to die, they were not permitted to be slain, but the tortures wrenched their wearied frames long enough, not to conquer their faith, which is unconquerable, but to exhaust the flesh, which is weak.

3. Since, however, you have written for me to give full consideration to this matter with many of my colleagues; and so great a subject claims greater and more careful counsel from the conference of many; and as now almost all, during the first celebrations of Easter, are dwelling at home with their brethren: when they shall have completed the solenmity to be celebrated among their own people, and have begun to come to me, I will consider it more at large with each one, so that a decided opinion, weighed in the council of many priests, on the subject on which you have consulted me, may be established among us, and may be written to you. I bid you, dearest brethren, ever heartily farewell. [2470]

Epistle LIII. [2471]

To Cornelius, Concerning Granting Peace to the Lapsed.

Argument. Cyprian Announces This Decree of the Bishops in the Name of the Whole Synod to Father Cornelius; And Therefore This Letter is Not So Much the Letter of Cyprian Himself, as that of the Entire African Synod. [2472]

Cyprian, Liberalis, Caldonius, Nicomedes, Caecilius, Junius, Marrutius, Felix, Successus, Faustinus, Fortunatus, Victor, Saturninus, another Saturninus, Rogatianus, Tertullus, Lucianus, Eutyches, Amplus, Sattius, Secundinus, another Saturninus, Aurelius, Priscus, Herculanus, Victoricus, Quintus, Honoratus, Montanus, Hortensianus, Verianus, Iambus, Donatus, Pompeius, Polycarpus, Demetrius, another Donatus, Privatianus, another Fortunatus, Rogatus and Monulus, to Cornelius their brother, [2473] greeting. [2474]

1. We had indeed decided some time ago, dearest brother, having mutually taken counsel one with another, that they who, in the fierceness of persecution, had been overthrown by the adversary, and had lapsed, and had polluted themselves with unlawful sacrifices, should undergo a long and full repentance; and if the risk of sickness should be urgent, should receive peace on the very point of death. For it was not right, neither did the love of the Father nor divine mercy allow, that the Church should be closed to those that knock, or the help of the hope of salvation be denied to those who mourn and entreat, so that when they pass from this world, they should be dismissed to their Lord without communion and peace; since He Himself who gave the law, that things which were bound on earth should also be bound in heaven, allowed, moreover, that things might be loosed there which were here first loosed in the Church. But now, when we see that the day of another trouble is again beginning to draw near, and are admonished by frequent and repeated intimations that we should be prepared and armed for the struggle which the enemy announces to us, that we should also prepare the people committed to us by divine condescension, by our exhortations, and gather together from all parts all the soldiers of Christ who desire arms, and are anxious for the battle within the Lord's camp: trader the compulsion of this necessity, we have decided that peace is to be given to those who have not withdrawn from the Church of the Lord, but have not ceased from the first day of their lapse to repent, and to lament, and to beseech the Lord; and we have decided that they ought to be armed and equipped for the battle which is at hand.

2. For we must comply with fitting intimations and admonitions, that the sheep may not be deserted in danger by the shepherds, but that the whole flock may be gathered together into one place, and the Lord's army may be arrived for the contest of the heavenly warfare. For the repentance of the mourners was reasonably prolonged for a more protracted time, help only being afforded to the sick in their departure, so long as peace and tranquillity prevailed, which permitted the long postponement of the tears of the mourners, and late assistance in sickness to the dying. But now indeed peace is necessary, not for the sick, but for the strong; nor is communion to he granted by us to the dying, but to the living, that we may not leave those whom we stir up and exhort to the battle unarmed and naked, but may fortify them with the protection of Christ's body and blood. And, as the Eucharist is appointed for this very purpose that it may be a safeguard to the receivers, it is needful that we may arm those whom we wish to be safe against the adversary with the protection of the Lord's abundance. For how do we teach or provoke them to shed their blood in confession of His name. if we deny to those who are about to enter on the warfare the blood of Christ? Or how do we make them fit for the cup of martyrdom, if we do not first admit them to drink, in the Church, the cup of the Lord [2475] by the right of communion?

3. We should make a difference, dearest brother, between those who either have apostatized, and, having returned to the world which they have renounced, are living heathenish lives, or, having become deserters to the heretics, are daily taking up parricidal arms against the Church; and those who do not depart from the Church's threshold, and, constantly and sorrowfully imploring divine and paternal consolation, profess that they are now prepared for the battle, and ready to stand and fight bravely for the name of their Lord and for their own salvation. In these times we grant peace, not to those who sleep, but to those who watch. We grant peace, not amid indulgences, but amid arms. We grant peace, not for rest, but for the field of battle. If, according to what we hear, and desire, and believe of them, they shall stand bravely, and shall overthrow the adversary with us in the encounter, we shall not repent of having granted peace to men so brave. Yea, it is the great honour and glory of our episcopate to have granted peace to martyrs, so that we, as priests, who daily celebrate the sacrifices of God, may prepare offerings and victims for God. But if which may the Lord avert from our brethren any one of the lapsed should deceive, seeking peace by guile, and at the time of the impending struggle receiving peace without any purpose of doing battle, he betrays and deceives himself, hiding one thing in his heart and pronouncing another with his voice. We, so far as it is allowed to us to see and to judge, look upon the face of each one; we are not able to scrutinize the heart and to inspect the mind. Concerning these the Discerner and Searcher of hidden things judges, and He will quickly come and judge of the secrets and hidden things of the heart. But the evil ought not to stand in the way of the good, but rather the evil ought to be assisted by the good. Neither is peace, therefore, to be denied to those who are about to endure martyrdom, because there are some who will refuse it, since for this purpose peace should be granted to all who are about to enter upon the warfare, that through our ignorance he may not be the first one to be passed over, who in the struggle is to be crowned.

4. Nor let any one say, "that he who accepts martyrdom is baptized in his own blood, and peace is not necessary to him from the bishop, since he is about to have the peace of his own glory, and about to receive a greater reward from the condescension of the Lord." First of all, he cannot be fitted for martyrdom who is not armed for the contest by the Church; and his spirit is deficient which the Eucharist received does not raise and stimulate. For the Lord says in His Gospel: "But when they deliver you up, take no thought what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." [2476] Now, since He says that the Spirit of the Father speaks in those who are delivered up and set in the confession of His name, how can he be found prepared or fit for that confession who has not first, in the reception of peace, received the Spirit of the Father, who, giving strength to His servants, Himself speaks and confesses in us? Then, besides if, having forsaken everything that he has, a man shall flee, and dwelling in hiding-places and in solitude, shall fall by chance among thieves, or shall die in fever and in weakness, will it not be charged upon us that so good a soldier, who has forsaken all that he hath, and contemning his house, and his parents, and his children, has preferred to follow his Lord, dies without peace and without communion? Will not either inactive negligence or cruel hardness be ascribed to us in the day of judgment, that, pastors though we are, we have neither been willing to take care of the sheep trusted and committed to us in peace, nor to arm them in battle? Would not the charge be brought against us by the Lord, which by His prophet He utters and says? "Behold, ye consume the milk, and ye clothe you with the wool, and ye kill them that are fed; but ye feed not my flock. The weak have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye comforted that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which strayed, neither have ye sought that which was lost, and that which was strong ye wore out with labour. And my sheep were scattered, because there were no shepherds: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field; and there was none who sought after them, nor brought them back. Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my sheep of their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding my sheep; neither shall they feed them any more: and I will deliver my sheep from their mouth, and I will feed them with judgment." [2477]

5. Lest, then, the sheep committed to us by the Lord be demanded back from our mouth, wherewith we deny peace, wherewith we oppose to them rather the severity of human cruelty than the benignity of divine and paternal love; we have determined [2478] by the suggestion of the Holy Spirit and the admonition of the Lord, conveyed by many and manifest visions, because the enemy is foretold and shown to be at hand, to gather within the camp the soldiers of Christ, to examine the cases of each one, and to grant peace to the lapsed, yea, rather to furnish arms to those who are about to fight. And this, we trust, will please you in contemplation of the paternal mercy. But if there be any (one) of our colleagues who, now that the contest is urgent, thinks that peace should not be granted to our brethren and sisters, he shall give an account to the Lord in the day of judgment, either of his grievous rigour or of his inhuman hardness. We, as befitted our faith and charity and solicitude, have laid before you what was in our own mind, namely, that the day of contest has approached, that a violent enemy will soon rise up against us, that a struggle is coming on, not such as it has been, but much more serious and fierce. This is frequently shown to us from above; concerning this we are often admonished by the providence and mercy of the Lord, of whose help and love we who trust in Him may be secure, because He who in peace foretells to His soldiers that the battle will come, will give to them when they are warring victory in the encounter. We bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle LIV. [2479]

To Cornelius, Concerning Fortunatus and Felicissimus, or Against the Heretics.

Argument. Cyprian Chiefly Warns Cornelius in This Letter Not to Hear the Calumnies of Felicissimus and Fortunatus Against Him, and Not to Be Frightened by Their Threats, But to Be of a Brave Spirit, as Becomes God s Priests in Opposition to Heretics; Namely, Those Who, After the Custom Prevailing Among Heretics, Began Their Heresy and Schisms with the Contempt of One Bishop in the Church. [2480]

1. I have read your letter, dearest brother, which you sent by Saturus our brother the acolyte, abundantly full of fraternal love and ecclesiastical discipline and priestly reproof; in which you signified that Felicissimus, [2481] no new enemy of Christ, but long ago excommunicated for his very many and grave crimes, and condemned not only by my judgment, but also by that of very many of my fellow-bishops, has been rejected by you there, and that when he came attended by a band and faction of desperadoes, he was driven from the Church with the full rigour with which it behoves a bishop to act. From which Church long ago he was driven, with others like himself, by the majesty of God and the severity of Christ our Lord and Judge; that the author of schism and disagreement, the fraudulent user of money entrusted to him, the violator of virgins, the destroyer and corrupter of many marriages, should not, by the dishonour of his presence and his immodest and incestuous contact, violate further the spouse of Christ, hitherto uncorrupt, holy, modest.

2. But yet, when I read your other letter, brother, which you subjoined to your first one, I was considerably surprised at observing that you were in some degree disturbed by the threats and terrors of those who had come, when, according to what you wrote, they had attacked and threatened you with the greatest desperation, that if you would not receive the letters which they had brought, they would read them publicly, and would utter many base and disgraceful things, and such as were worthy of their mouth. But if the matter is thus, dearest brother, that the audacity of the most wicked men is to be dreaded, and that what evil men cannot do rightly and equitably, they may accomplish by daring and desperation, there is an end of the vigour of the episcopacy, and of the sublime and divine power of governing the Church; nor can we continue any longer, or in fact now be Christians, if it is come to this, that we are to be afraid of the threats or the snares of outcasts. For both Gentiles and Jews threaten, and heretics and all those, of whose hearts and minds the devil has taken possession, daily attest their venomous madness with furious voice. We are not, therefore, to yield because they threaten; nor is the adversary and enemy on that account greater than Christ, because he claims for himself and assumes so much in the world. There ought to abide with us, dearest brother, an immoveable strength of faith; and against all the irruptions and onsets of the waves that roar against us, a steady and unshaken courage should plant itself as with the fortitude and mass of a resisting rock. Nor does it matter whence comes the terror or the danger to a bishop, who lives subject to terrors and dangers, and is nevertheless made glorious by those very terrors and dangers. For we ought not to consider and regard the mere threats of the Gentiles or of the Jews, when we see that the Lord Himself was deserted by His brethren, and was betrayed by him whom He Himself had chosen among His apostles; that also in the beginning of the world it was none other than a brother who slew righteous Abel, and an angry brother pursued the fleeing Jacob, and the youthful Joseph was sold by the act of his brethren. In the Gospel also we read that it was foretold that our foes should rather be of our own household, and that they who have first been associated in the sacrament of unity [2482] shall be they who shall betray one another. It makes no difference who delivers up or who rages, since God permits those to be delivered up whom He appoints to be crowned. For it is no ignominy to us to suffer from our brethren what Christ suffered, nor is it glory to them to do what Judas did. But what insolence it is in them, what swelling and inflated and vain boasting on the part of these threateners, there to threaten me in my absence, when here they have me present in their power! I do not fear their reproaches with which they daily wound themselves and their own life; I do not tremble at their clubs and stones and swords, which they brandish with parricidal words: as far as lies in their power such men are homicides before God. Yet they are not able to slay unless the Lord have allowed them to slay; and although I must die but once, yet they daily slay me by their hatred, their words, and their villanies.

3. But, dearest brother, ecclesiastical discipline is not on that account to be forsaken, nor priestly censure to be relaxed, because we are disturbed with reproaches or are shaken with terrors; since Holy Scripture meets and warns us, saying, "But he who presumes and is haughty, the man who boasts of himself, who hath enlarged his soul as hell, shall accomplish nothing." [2483] And again: "And fear not the words of a sinful man, for his glory shall be dung and worms. To-day he is lifted up, and to-morrow he shall not be found, because he is turned into his earth, and his thought shall perish." [2484] And again: "I have seen the wicked exalted, and raised above the cedars of Libanus: I went by, and, lo, he was not; yea, I sought him, and his place was not found." [2485] Exaltation, and puffing up, and arrogant and haughty boastfulness, spring not from the teaching of Christ who teaches humility, but from the spirit of Antichrist, whom the Lord rebukes by His prophet, saying, "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will place my throne above the stars of God: I will sit on a lofty mountain, above the lofty mountains to the north: I will ascend above the clouds; I will be like the Most High." [2486] And he added, saying, "Yet thou shalt descend into hell, to the foundations of the earth; and they that see thee shall wonder at thee." [2487] Whence also divine Scripture threatens a like punishment to such in another place, and says, "For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is injurious and proud, and upon every one that is lifted up, and lofty." [2488] By his mouth, therefore, and by his words, is every one at once betrayed; and whether he has Christ in his heart, or Antichrist, is discerned in his speaking, according to what the Lord says in His Gospel, "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things." [2489] Whence also that rich sinner who implores help from Lazarus, then laid in Abraham's bosom, and established in a place of comfort, while he, writhing in torments, is consumed by the heats of burning flame, suffers most punishment of all parts of his body in his mouth and his tongue, because doubtless in his mouth and his tongue he had most sinned. [2490]

4. For since it is written, "Neither shall revilers inherit the kingdom of God," [2491] and again the Lord says in His Gospel, "Whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou fool; and whosoever shall say, Raca, shall be in danger of the Gehenna of fire," [2492] how can they evade the rebuke of the Lord the avenger, who heap up such expressions, not only on their brethren, but also on the priests, to whom is granted such honour of the condescension of God, that whosoever should not obey his priest, and him that judgeth here for the time, was immediately to be slain? In Deuteronomy the Lord God speaks, saying, "And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest or to the judge, whosoever he shall be in those days, that man shall die; and all the people, when they hear, shall fear, and shall do no more wickedly." [2493] Moreover, to Samuel when he was despised by the Jews, God says; "They have not despised thee, but they have despised me." [2494] And the Lord also in the Gospel says, "He that heareth you, heareth me, and Him that sent me; and he that rejecteth you, rejecteth me; and he that rejecteth me, rejecteth Him that sent me." [2495] And when he had cleansed the leprous man, he said, "Go, show thyself to the priest." [2496] And when afterwards, in the time of His passion, He had received a buffet from a servant of the priest, and the servant said to Him, "Answerest thou the high priest so? " [2497] the Lord said nothing reproachfully against the high priest, nor detracted anything from the priest's honour; but rather asserting His own innocence, and showing it, He says, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me? " [2498] Also subsequently, in the Acts of the Apostles, the blessed Apostle Paul, when it was said to him, "Revilest thou God s priest? " [2499] although they had begun to be sacrilegious, and impious, and bloody, the Lord having already been crucified, and had no longer retained anything of the priestly honour and authority yet Paul, considering the name itself, however empty, and the shadow, as it were, of the priest, said, "I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy, people." [2500]

5. When, then, such and so great examples, and many others, are precedents whereby the priestly authority and power by the divine condescension is established, what kind of people, think you, are they who, being enemies of the priests, and rebels against the Catholic Church, are frightened neither by the threatening of a forewarning Lord, nor by the vengeance of coming judgment? For neither have heresies arisen, nor have schisms originated, from any other source than from this, that God's priest is not obeyed; nor do they consider that there is one person for the time priest in the Church, and for the time judge in the stead of Christ; [2501] whom, if, according to divine teaching, the whole fraternity should obey, no one would stir up anything against the college of priests; no one, after the divine judgment, after the suffrage of the people, after the consent of the co-bishops, would make himself a judge, not now of the bishop, but of God. No one would rend the Church by a division of the unity of Christ. [2502] No one, pleasing himself, and swelling with arrogance, would found a new heresy, separate and without, unless any one be of such sacrilegious daring and abandoned mind, as to think that a priest is made without God's judgment, when the Lord says in His Gospel, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them does not fall to the ground without the will of your Father." [2503] When He says that not even the least things are done without God's will, does any one think that the highest and greatest things are done in God's Church either without God's knowledge or permission, and that priests that is, His stewards are not ordained by His decree? This is not to have faith, whereby we live; this is not to give honour to God, by whose direction and decision we know and believe that all things are ruled and governed. Undoubtedly there are bishops made, not by the will of God, but they are such as are made outside of the Church such as are made contrary to the ordinance and tradition of the Gospel, as the Lord Himself in the twelve prophets asserts, saying, "They have set up a king for themselves, and not by me." [2504] And again: "Their sacrifices are as the bread of mourning; all that eat thereof shall be polluted." [2505] And the Holy Spirit also cries by Isaiah, and says, "Woe unto you, children that are deserters. Thus saith the Lord, Ye have taken counsel, but not of me; and ye have made a covenant, but not of my Spirit, that ye may add sin to sin." [2506]

6. But I speak to you as being provoked; I speak as grieving; I speak as constrained when a bishop is appointed into the place of one deceased, when he is chosen in time of peace by the suffrage of an entire people, when he is protected by the help of God in persecution, faithfully linked with all his colleagues, approved to his people by now four years experience in his episcopate; observant of discipline in time of peace; in time of disturbance, proscribed with the name of his episcopate applied and attached to him; so often asked for in the circus "for the lions; "in the amphitheatre, honoured with the testimony of the divine condescension; even in these very days on which I have written this letter to you, on account of the sacrifices which, by proclaimed edict, the people were commanded to celebrate, demanded anew in the circus "for the lions" by the clamour of the populace; when such a one, dearest brother, is seen to be assailed by some desperate and reckless men, and by those who have their place outside the Church, it is manifest who assails him: not assuredly Christ, who either appoints or protects his priests; but he who, as the adversary of Christ and the foe to His Church, for this purpose persecutes with his malice the ruler of the Church, that when the pilot is removed, he may rage more atrociously and more violently with a view to the Church's dispersion.

7. Nor ought it, my dearest brother, to disturb any one who is faithful and mindful of the Gospel, and retains the commands of the apostle who forewarns us; if in the last days certain persons, proud, contumacious, and enemies of God's priests, either depart from the Church or act against the Church, since both the Lord and His apostles have previously foretold that there should be such. Nor let any one wonder that the servant placed over them should be forsaken by some, when His own disciples forsook the Lord Himself, who performed such great and wonderful works, and illustrated the attributes of God the Father by the testimony of His doings. And yet He did not rebuke them when they went away, nor even severely threaten them; but rather, turning to His apostles, He said, "Will ye also go away? " [2507] manifestly observing the law whereby a man left to his own liberty, and established in his own choice, himself desires for himself either death or salvation. Nevertheless, Peter, [2508] upon whom by the same Lord the Church had been built, speaking one for all, and answering with the voice of the Church, says, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we believe, and are sure that Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God: " [2509] signifying, doubtless, and showing that those who departed from Christ perished by their own fault, yet that the Church which believes on Christ, and holds that which it has once learned, never departs from Him at all, and that those are the Church who remain in the house of God; but that, on the other hand, they are not the plantation planted by God the Father, whom we see not to be established with the stability of wheat, but blown about like chaff by the breath of the enemy scattering them, of whom John also in his Epistle says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, no doubt they would have continued with us." [2510] Paul also warns us, when evil men perish out of the Church, not to be disturbed, nor to let our faith be lessened by the departure of the faithless. "For what," he says, "if some of them have departed from the faith? Hath their unbelief made the faith of God of none effect? God forbid! For God is true, but every man a liar." [2511]

8. For our own part, it befits our conscience, dearest brother, to strive that none should perish going out of the Church by our fault; but if any one, of his own accord and by his own sin, should perish, and should be unwilling to repent and to return to the Church, that we who are anxious for their well-being should be blameless in the day of judgment, and that they alone should remain in punishment who refused to be healed by the wholesomeness of our advice. Nor ought the reproaches of the lost to move us in any degree to depart from the right path and from the sure rule, since also the apostle instructs us, saying, "If I should please men, I should not be the servant of Christ." [2512] There is a great difference whether one desires to deserve well of men or of God. If we seek to please men, the Lord is offended. But if we strive and labour that we may please God, we ought to contemn human reproaches and abuse.

9. But that I did not immediately write to you, dearest brother, about Fortunatus, that pseudo-bishop, constituted by a few, and those, inveterate heretics, the matter was not such as ought at once and hastily to be brought under your notice, as if it were great or to be feared; especially since you already know well enough the name of Fortunatus, who is one of the five presbyters who some time back deserted from the Church, and were lately excommunicated by the judgment of our fellow-bishops, [2513] men both numerous and entitled to the greatest respect, who on this matter wrote to you last year. Also you would recognise Felicissimus, the standard-bearer of sedition, who himself also is comprised in those same letters long ago written to you by our co-bishops, [2514] and who not only was excommunicated by them here, but moreover was lately driven from the Church by you there. Since I was confident that these things were in your knowledge, and knew for certain that they abode in your memory and discipline, I did not think it necessary that the follies of heretics should be told you quickly and urgently. For indeed it ought not to pertain to the majesty or the dignity of the Catholic Church, to concern itself with what the audacity of heretics and schismatics may attempt among themselves. For Novatian's party is also said to have now made Maximus the presbyter who was lately sent to us as an ambassador for Novatian, and rejected from communion with us their false bishop in that place; and yet I had not written to you about this, since all these things are slighted by us; and I had sent to you lately the names of the bishops appointed there, who with wholesome and sound discipline govern the brethren in the Catholic Church. [2515] And this certainly, therefore, it was decided by the advice of all of us to write to you, that there might be found a short method of destroying error and of finding out truth, that you and our colleagues might know to whom to write, and reciprocally, from whom it behoved you to receive letters; but if any one, except those whom we have comprised in our letter, should dare to write to you, you would know either that he was polluted by sacrifice, or by receiving a certificate, or that he was one of the heretics, and therefore perverted and profane. Nevertheless, having gained an opportunity, by means of a very great friend and a clerk, I have written to you by Felicianus the acolyte, whom you had sent with Perseus our colleague, among other matters which were to be brought under your notice from their party, about that Fortunatus also. But while our brother Felicianus is either retarded there by the wind or is detained by receiving other letters from us, he has been forestalled by Felicissimus hastening to you. For thus wickedness always hastens, as if by its speed it could prevail against innocence.

10. But I intimated to you, my brother, by Felicianus, that there had come to Carthage, Privatus, an old heretic in the colony of Lambesa, many years ago condemned for many and grave crimes by the judgment of ninety bishops, and severely remarked upon in the letters of Fabian and Donatus, also our predecessors, as is not hidden from your knowledge; [2516] who, when he said that he wished to plead his cause before us in the council which we held on the Ides of May then past, and was not permitted, made for himself that Fortunatus a pretended bishop, worthy of his college. And there had also come with him a certain Felix, whom he himself had formerly appointed a pseudo-bishop outside the Church, in heresy. But Jovinus also, and Maximus, were present as companions with the proved heretic, [2517] condemned for wicked sacrifices and crimes proved against them by the judgment of nine bishops, our colleagues, and again excommunicated also by many of us last year in a council. And with these four was also joined Repostus of Suturnica, who not only fell himself in the persecution, but cast down by sacrilegious persuasion the greatest part of his people. These five, with a few who either had sacrificed, or had evil consciences, concurred in desiring Fortunatus as a false bishop for themselves, that so, their crimes agreeing, the ruler should be such as those who are ruled.

11. Hence also, dearest brother, you may now know the other falsehoods which desperate and abandoned men have there spread about, that although, of the sacrificers, or of the heretics, there were not more than five false bishops who came to Carthage, and appointed Fortunatus as the associate of their madness; yet they, as children of the devil, and full of lies, dared, as you write, to boast that there were present twenty-five bishops; which falsehood they boasted here also before among our brethren, saying that twenty-five bishops would come from Numidia to make a bishop for them. After they were detected and confounded in this their lie (only five who had made shipwreck coming together, and these being excommunicated by us), they sailed to Rome with the reward of their lies, as if the truth could not sail after them, and convict their lying tongues by proof of the certainty. And this, my brother, is real madness, not to think nor to know that lies do not long deceive, that the night only lasts so long as until the day brightens; but that when the day is clear and the sun has arisen, the darkness and gloom give place to light, and the robberies which were going on through the night cease. In fine, if you were to seek the names from them, they would have none which they could even falsely give. For such among them is the penury even of wicked men, that neither of sacrificers nor of heretics can there be collected twenty-five for them; and yet, for the sake of deceiving the ears of the simple and the absent, the number is exaggerated by a lie, as if, even if this number were true, either the Church would be overcome by heretics, or righteousness by the unrighteous.

12. Nor does it behove me, dearest brother, to do like things to them, and to go through in my discourse those things which they have committed, and still commit, since we have to consider what it becomes God's priests to utter and to write. Nor ought grief to speak among us so much as shame, and I ought not to seem provoked rather to heap together reproaches than crimes and sins. Therefore I am silent upon the deceits practised in the Church. I pass over the conspiracies and adulteries, and the various kinds of crimes. That circumstance alone, however, of their wickedness, in which the cause is not mine, nor man s, but God s, I do not think must be withheld; that from the very first day of the persecution, while the recent crimes of the guilty were still hot, and not only the devil's altars, but the very hands and the mouths of the lapsed, were still smoking with the abominable sacrifices, they did not cease to communicate with the lapsed, and to interfere with their repentance. God cries, "He that sacrificeth unto any gods, save unto the Lord only, shall be rooted out." [2518] And in the Gospel the Lord says, "Whosoever shall deny me, him will I deny." [2519] And in another place the divine indignation and anger are not silent, saying, "To them hast thou poured out a drink-offering, and to them hast thou offered a meat-offering. Shall I not be angry with these things? saith the Lord." [2520] And they interfere that God may not be entreated, who Himself declares that He is angry; they interpose that Christ may not be besought with prayers and satisfactions, who professes that him who denies Him He will deny.

13. In the very time of persecution we wrote letters on this matter, but we were not attended to. A full council being held, we decreed, not only with our consent, but also with our threatening, that the brethren should repent, [2521] and that none should rashly grant peace to those who did not repent. And those sacrilegious persons rush with impious madness against God's priests, departing from the Church; and raising their parricidal arms against the Church, in order that the malice of the devil may consummate their work, [2522] take pains that the divine clemency may not heal the wounded in His Church. They corrupt the repentance of the wretched men by the deceitfulness of their lies, that it may not satisfy an offended God that he who has either blushed or feared to be a Christian before, may not afterwards seek Christ his Lord, nor he return to the Church who had departed from the Church. Efforts are used that the sins may not be atoned for with just satisfactions and lamentations, that the wounds may not be washed away with tears. True peace is done away by the falsehood of a false peace; the healthful bosom of a mother is closed by the interference of the stepmother, that weeping and groaning may not be heard from the breast and from the lips of the lapsed. And beyond this, the lapsed are compelled with their tongues and lips, in the Capitol [2523] wherein before they had sinned, to reproach the priests to assail with contumelies and with abusive words the confessors and virgins, and those righteous men who are most eminent for the praise of the faith, and most glorious in the Church. By which things, indeed, it is not so much the modesty and the humility and the shame of our people that are smitten, as their own hope and life that are lacerated. For neither is it he who hears, but he who utters the reproach, that is wretched; nor is it he who is smitten by his brother, but he who smites a brother, that is a sinner under the law; and when the guilty do a wrong to the innocent, they suffer the injury who think that they are doing it. Finally, their mind is smitten by these things, and their spirit is dull, and their sense of right is estranged: it is God's wrath that they do not perceive their sins, lest repentance should follow as it is written, "And God gave them the spirit of torpor," [2524] that is, that they may not return and be healed, and be made whole after their sins by just prayers and satisfactions. Paul the apostle in his Epistle lays it down, and says, "They received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." [2525] The highest degree of happiness is, not to sin; the second, to acknowledge our sins. In the former, innocence flows pure and unstained to preserve us; in the latter, there comes a medicine to heal us. Both of these they have lost by offending God, both because the grace is lost which is received from the sanctification of baptism, and repentance comes not to their help, whereby the sin is healed. Think you, brother, that their wickednesses against God are trifling, their sins small and moderate since by their means the majesty of an angry God is not besought, since the anger and the fire and the day of the Lord is not feared since, when Antichrist is at hand the faith of the militant people is disarmed by the taking away of the power of Christ and His fear? Let the laity see to it how they may amend this. [2526] A heavier labour is incumbent on the priests in asserting and maintaining the majesty of God, that we seem not to neglect anything in this respect, when God admonishes us, and says, "And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessing." [2527] Is honour, then, given to God when the majesty and decree of God are so condemned, that when He declares that He is indignant and angry with those who sacrifice, and when He threatens eternal penalties and perpetual punishments, it is proposed by the sacrilegious, and said, Let not the wrath of God be considered, let not the judgment of the Lord be feared, let not any knock at the Church of Christ; but repentance being done away with, and no confession of sin being made, the bishops being despised and trodden under foot, let peace be proclaimed by the presbyters in deceitful words; and lest the lapsed should rise up, or those placed without should return to the Church, let communion be offered to those who are not in communion?

14. To these also it was not sufficient that they had withdrawn from the Gospel, that they had taken away from the lapsed the hope of satisfaction and repentance, that they had taken away those involved in frauds or stained with adulteries, or polluted with the deadly contagion of sacrifices, lest they should entreat God, or make confession of their crimes in the Church, from all feeling and fruit of repentance; that they had set up [2528] outside for themselves outside the Church, and opposed to the Church, a conventicle of their abandoned faction, when there had flowed together a band of creatures with evil consciences, and unwilling to entreat and to satisfy God. After such things as these, moreover, they still dare a false bishop having been appointed for them by, heretics to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source; [2529] and not to consider that these were the Romans whose faith was praised in the preaching of the apostle, to whom faithlessness could have no access. [2530] But what was the reason of their coming and announcing the making of the pseudo-bishop in opposition to the bishops? For either they are pleased with what they have done, and persist in their wickedness; or, if they are displeased and retreat, they know whither they may return. For, as it has been decreed by all of us [2531] and is equally fair and just that the case of every one should be heard there where the crime has been committed; and a portion of the flock has been assigned to each individual pastor, which he is to rule and govern, having to give account of his doing to the Lord; it certainly behoves those over whom we are placed not to run about nor to break up the harmonious agreement of the bishops with their crafty and deceitful rashness, but there to plead their cause, where they may be able to have both accusers and witnesses of their crime; unless perchance the authority of the bishops constituted in Africa seems to a few desperate and abandoned men to be too little, [2532] who have already judged concerning them, and have lately condemned, by the gravity of their judgment, their conscience bound in many bonds of sins. Already their case has been examined, already sentence concerning them has been pronounced; nor is it fitting for the dignity of priests to be blamed for the levity of a changeable and inconstant mind, when the Lord teaches and says, "Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay." [2533]

15. If the number of those who judged concerning them last year be reckoned with the presbyters and deacons, then there were more present to the judgment and hearing than are those very same persons who now seem to be associated with Fortunatus. For you ought to know, dearest brother, that after he was made a pseudo-bishop by the heretics, he was at once deserted by almost all. For those to whom in past time delusions were offered, and deceitful words were given, to the effect that they were to return to the Church together; after they saw that a false bishop was made there, learned that they had been fooled and deceived, and are daily returning and knocking at the door of the Church; while we, meanwhile, by whom account is to be given to the Lord, are anxiously weighing and carefully examining who ought to be received and admitted into the Church. For some are either hindered by their crimes to such a degree, or they are so obstinately and firmly opposed by their brethren, that they cannot be received at all except with offence and risk to a great many, For neither must some putridities be so collected and brought together, that the parts which are sound and whole should be injured; nor is that pastor serviceable or wise who so mingles the diseased and affected sheep with his flock as to contaminate the whole flock with the infection of the clinging evil. (Do not pay attention to their number. [2534] For one who fears God is better than a thousand impious sons, as the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying, "O son, do not delight in ungodly sons, though they multiply to thee, except the fear of the Lord be with them." [2535] ) Oh, if you could, dearest brother, be with us here when those evil and perverse men return from schism, you would see what labour is mine to persuade patience to our brethren, that they should calm their grief of mind, and consent to receive and heal the wicked. For as they rejoice and are glad when those who are endurable and less guilty return, so, on the other hand, they murmur and are dissatisfied as often as the incorrigible and violent, and those who are contaminated either by adulteries or by sacrifices, and who, in addition to this, are proud besides, so return to the Church, as to corrupt the good dispositions within it. Scarcely do I persuade the people; nay, I extort it from them, that they should suffer such to be admitted. And the grief of the fraternity is made the more just, from the fact that one and another who, notwithstanding the opposition and contradiction of the people, have been received by my facility, have proved worse than they had been before, and have not been able to keep the faith of their repentance, because they had not come with true repentance.

16. But what am I to say of those who have now sailed to you with Felicissimus, guilty of every crime, as ambassadors sent by Fortunatus the pseudo-bishop, bringing to you letters as false as he himself is false, whose letters they bring, as his conscience is full of sins, as his life is execrable, as it is disgraceful; so that, even if they were in the Church, such people ought to be expelled from the Church. In addition, since they have known their own conscience, they do not dare to come to us or to approach to the I threshold of the Church, but wander about, without her, through the province, for the sake of circumventing and defrauding the brethren; and now, being sufficiently known to all, and everywhere excluded for their crimes, they sail thither also to you. For they cannot have the face to approach to us, or to stand before us, since the crimes which are charged upon them by the brethren are most grievous and grave. If they wish to undergo our judgment, let them come. Finally, if they can find any excuse or defence. let us see what thought they have of making satisfaction, what fruit of repentance they bring forward. The Church is neither closed here to any one, nor is the bishop denied to any. Our patience, and facility, and humanity are ready for those who come. I entreat all to return into the Church. I beg all our fellow-soldiers to be included within the camp of Christ, and the dwelling-place of God the Father. I remit everything. I shut my eyes to many things, with the desire and the wish to gather together the brotherhood. Even those things which are committed against God I do not investigate with the full judgment of religion. I almost sin myself, in remitting sins [2536] more than I ought. I embrace with prompt and full love those who return with repentance, confessing their sin with lowly and unaffected atonement. [2537]

17. But if there are some who think that they can return to the Church not with prayers but with threats, or suppose that they can make a way for themselves, not with lamentation and atonements, but with terrors, let them take it for certain that against such the Church of the Lord stands closed; nor does the camp of Christ, unconquered and firm with the Lord s protection, yield to threats. The priest of God holding fast the Gospel and keeping Christ's precepts may be slain; he cannot be conquered. Zacharias, God's priest, suggests and furnishes to us examples of courage and faith, who, when he could not be terrified with threats and stoning, was slain in the temple of God, at the same time crying out and saying, what we also cry out and say against the heretics, "Thus saith the Lord, Ye have forsaken the ways of the Lord, and the Lord will forsake you." [2538] For because a few rash and wicked men forsake the heavenly and wholesome ways of the Lord, and not doing holy things are deserted by the Holy Spirit, we also ought not therefore to be unmindful of the divine tradition, so as to think that the crimes of madmen are greater than the judgments of priests; or conceive that human endeavours can do more to attack, than divine protection avails to defend.

18. Is the dignity of the Catholic Church, dearest brother, to be laid aside, is the faithful and uncorrupted majesty of the people placed within it, [2539] and the priestly authority and power also, all to be laid aside for this, that those who are set without the Church may say that they wish to judge concerning a prelate in the Church? heretics concerning a Christian? wounded men about a whole man? maimed concerning a sound man? lapsed concerning one who stands fast? guilty concerning their judge? sacrilegious men concerning a priest? What is left but that the Church should yield to the Capitol, and that, while the priests depart and remove the Lord's altar, the images and idols should pass over with their altars into the sacred and venerable assembly of our clergy, and a larger and fuller material for declaiming against us and abusing us be afforded to Novatian; if they who have sacrificed and have publicly denied Christ should begin not only to be entreated and admitted without penance done, but, moreover, in addition, to domineer by the power of their terror?

19. If they desire peace, let them lay aside their arms. If they make atonement, why do they threaten? or if they threaten, let them know that they are not feared by God's priests. For even Antichrist, when he shall begin to come, shall not enter into the Church because he threatens; neither shall we yield to his arms and violence, because he declares that he will destroy us if we resist. Heretics arm us when they think that we are terrified by their threatenings; nor do they cast us down on our face, but rather they lift us up and inflame us, when they make peace itself worse to the brethren than persecution. And we desire, indeed, that they may not fill up with crime what they speak in madness, that they who sin with perfidious and cruel words may not also sin in deeds. We pray and beseech God, whom they do not cease to provoke and exasperate, that He will soften their hearts, that they may lay aside their madness, and return to soundness of mind; that their breasts, covered over with the darkness of sins, may acknowledge the light of repentance, and that they may rather seek that the prayers and supplications of the priest may be poured out on their behalf, than themselves pour out the blood of the priest. But if they continue in their madness, and cruelly persevere in these their parricidal deceits and threats, no priest of God is so weak, so prostrate, and so abject, so inefficient by the weakness of human infirmity, as not to be aroused against the enemies and impugners of God by strength from above; as not to find his humility and weakness animated by the vigour and strength of the Lord who protects him. It matters nothing to us by whom, or when we are slain, since we shall receive from the Lord the reward of our death and of our blood. Their concision [2540] is to be mourned and lamented, whom the devil so blinds, that, without considering the eternal punishments of Gehenna, they endeavour to imitate the coming of Antichrist, who is now approaching.

20. And although I know, dearest brother, from the mutual love which we owe and manifest one towards another, that you always read my letters to the very distinguished clergy who preside with you there, [2541] and to your very holy and large congregation, [2542] yet now I both warn and ask you to do by my request what at other times you do of your own accord and courtesy; that so, by the reading of this my letter, if any contagion of envenomed speech and of pestilent propagation has crept in there, it may be all purged out of the ears and of the hearts of the brethren, and the sound and sincere affection of the good may be cleansed anew from all the filth of heretical disparagement.

21. But for the rest, let our most beloved brethren firmly decline, and avoid the words and conversations of those whose word creeps onwards like a cancer; as the apostle says, "Evil communications corrupt good manners." [2543] And again: "A man that is an heretic, after one admonition, reject: knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." [2544] And the Holy Spirit speaks by Solomon, saying, "A perverse man carrieth perdition in his mouth; and in his lips he hideth a fire." [2545] Also again, he warneth us, and says, "Hedge in thy ears with thorns, and hearken not to a wicked tongue." [2546] And again: "A wicked doer giveth heed to the tongue of the unjust; but a righteous man does not listen to lying lips." [2547] And although I know that our brotherhood there, [2548] assuredly fortified by your foresight, and besides sufficiently cautious by their own vigilance, cannot be taken nor deceived by the poisons of heretics, and that the teachings and precepts of God prevail with them only in proportion as the fear of God is in them; yet, even although needlessly, either my solicitude or my love persuaded me to write these things to you, that no commerce should be entered into with such; that no banquets nor conferences be entertained with the wicked; but that we should be as much separated from them, as they are deserters from the Church; because it is written, "If he shall neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." [2549] And the blessed apostle not only warns, but also commands us to withdraw from such. "We command you," he says, "in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." [2550] There can be no fellowship between faith and I faithlessness. He who is not with Christ, who is an adversary of Christ, who is hostile to His unity and peace, cannot be associated with us. If they come with prayers and atonements, let them be heard; if they heap together curses and threats, let them be rejected. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell. [2551]

Epistle LV. [2552]

To the People of Thibaris, Exhorting to Martyrdom.

Argument. Cyprian First of All Excuses Himself to the Thibaritans that He Had Not Been to Visit Them, and Gives Them Warning of the Persecution at Hand; He Then Furnishes Inducements Readily to Undergo Martyrdom. [2553]

1. Cyprian to the people abiding at Thibaris, greeting. I had indeed thought, beloved brethren, and prayerfully desired-if the state of things and the condition of the times permitted, in conformity with what you frequently desired myself to come to you; and being present with you, then to strengthen the brotherhood with such moderate powers of exhortation as I possess. But since I am detained by such urgent affairs, that I have not the power to travel far from this place, and to be long absent from the people over whom by divine mercy I am placed, I have written in the meantime this letter, to be to you in my stead. For as, by the condescension of the Lord instructing me, I am very often instigated and warned, I ought to bring unto your conscience also the anxiety of my warning. For you ought to know and to believe, and hold it for certain, that the day of affliction has begun to hang over our heads, and the end [2554] of the world and the time of Antichrist to draw near, so that we must all stand prepared for the battle; nor consider anything but the glory of life eternal, and the crown of the confession of the Lord; and not regard those things which are coming as being such as were those which have passed away. A severer and a fiercer fight is now threatening, for which the soldiers of Christ ought to prepare themselves with uncorrupted faith and robust courage, considering that they drink the cup of Christ's blood daily, [2555] for the reason that they themselves also may be able to shed their blood for Christ. For this is to wish to be found with Christ, to imitate that which Christ both taught and did, according to the Apostle John, who said, "He that saith he abideth in Christ, ought himself also so to walk even as He walked." [2556] Moreover, the blessed Apostle Paul exhorts and teaches, saying, "We are God s children; but if children, then heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." [2557]

2. Which things must all now be considered by us, that no one may desire anything from the world that is now dying, but may follow Christ, who both lives for ever, and quickens His servants, who are established in the faith of His name. For there comes the time, beloved brethren, which our Lord long ago foretold and taught us was approaching, saying, "The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things they will do unto you, because they have not known the Father nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them." [2558] Nor let any one wonder that we are harassed with constant persecutions, and continually tried with increasing afflictions, when the Lord before predicted that these things would happen in the last times, and has instructed us for the warfare by the teaching and exhortation of His words. Peter also, His apostle, has taught that persecutions occur for the sake of our being proved, and that we also should, by the example of righteous men who have gone before us, be joined to the love of God by death and sufferings. For he wrote in his Epistle, and said, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is thing happened unto you; but as often as ye partake in Christ's sufferings, rejoice in all things, that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached in the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the name of the majesty and power of the Lord resteth on you, which indeed on their part is blasphemed, but on our part is glorified." [2559] Now the apostles taught us those things which they themselves also learnt from the Lord's precepts and the heavenly commands, the Lord Himself thus strengthening us, and saying, "There is no man that hath left house, or land, or parents, or brethren, or sisters, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive sevenfold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting." [2560] And again He says, "Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and shall separate you from their company, and shall cast you out, and shall reproach your name as evil for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for, behold your reward is great in heaven." [2561]

3. The Lord desired that we should rejoice and leap for joy in persecutions, because, when persecutions occur, then are given the crowns of faith, then the soldiers of God are proved then the heavens are opened to martyrs. For we have not in such a way given our name to warfare that we ought only to think about peace and draw back from and refuse war, when in this very warfare the Lord walked first the Teacher of humility, and endurance, and suffering so that what He taught to be done, He first of al did, and what He exhorts to suffer, He Himself first suffered for us. Let it be before your eyes beloved brethren, that He who alone received al judgment from the Father, and who will come to judge, has already declared the decree of His judgment and of His future recognition, foretelling and testifying that He will confess those before His Father who confess Him, and will deny those who deny Him. If we could escape death, we might reasonably fear to die. But since, on the other hand, it is necessary that a mortal man should die, we should embrace the occasion that comes by the divine promise and condescention, and accomplish the ending provided by death with the reward of immortality; nor fear to be slain, since we are sure when we are slain to be crowned.

4. Nor let any one, beloved brethren, when he beholds our people driven away and scattered by the fear of persecution, be disturbed at seeing the brotherhood gathered together, nor the bishops discoursing. [2562] All are not able to be there together, who may not kill, but who must be killed. Wherever, in those days, each one of the brethren shall be separated from the flock for a time, by the necessity of the season, in body, not in spirit, let him not be moved at the terror of that flight; nor, if he withdraw and be concealed, let him be alarmed at the solitude of the desert place. He is not alone, whose companion in flight Christ is; he is not alone who, keeping God's temple wheresoever he is, is not without God. And if a robber should fall upon you, a fugitive in the solitude or in the mountains; if a wild beast should attack you; if hunger, or thirst, or cold should distress you, or the tempest and the storm should overwhelm you hastening in a rapid voyage over the seas, Christ everywhere looks upon His soldier fighting; and for the sake of persecution, for the honour of His name, gives a reward to him when he dies, as He has promised that He will give in the resurrection. Nor is the glory of martyrdom less that he has not perished publicly and before many, since the cause of perishing is to perish for Christ. That Witness who proves martyrs, and crowns them, suffices for a testimony of his martyrdom.

5. Let us, beloved brethren, imitate righteous Abel, who initiated martyrdoms, he first being slain for righteousness sake. Let us imitate Abraham, the friend of God, who did not delay to offer his son as a victim with his own hands, obeying God with a faith of devotion. Let us imitate the three children Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, who, neither frightened by their youthful age nor broken down by captivity, Judea, being conquered and Jerusalem taken, overcame the king by the power of faith in his own kingdom; who, when bidden to worship the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had made, stood forth stronger both than the king's threats and the flames, calling out and attesting their faith by these words: "O king Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. For the God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and He will deliver us out of thine hands, O king. But if not, be it known unto j thee, that we do not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." [2563] They believed that they might escape according to their faith, but they added, "and if not," that the king might know that they could also die for the God they worshipped. For this is the strength of courage and of faith, to believe and to know that God can deliver from present death, and yet not to fear death nor to give way, that faith may be the more mightily proved. The uncorrupted and unconquered might of the Holy Spirit broke forth by their mouth, so that the words which the Lord in His Gospel spoke are seen to be true: "But when they shall seize you, take no thought what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." [2564] He said that what we are able to speak and to answer is given to us in that hour from heaven, and supplied; and that it is not then we who speak, but the Spirit of God our Father, who, as He does not depart nor is separated from those who confess Him, Himself both speaks and is crowned in us. So Daniel, too, when he was required to worship the idol Bel, which the people and the king then worshipped, in asserting the honour of his God, broke forth with full faith and freedom, saying, "I worship nothing but the Lord my God, who created the heaven and the earth." [2565]

6. What shall we say of the cruel tortures of the blessed martyrs in the Maccabees, [2566] and the multiform sufferings of the seven brethren, and the mother comforting her children in their agonies, and herself dying also with her children? Do not they witness the proofs of great courage and faith, and exhort us by their sufferings to the triumphs of martyrdom? What of the prophets whom the Holy Spirit quickened to the foreknowledge of future events? What of the apostles whom the Lord chose? Since these righteous men were slain for righteousness sake, have they not taught us also to die? The nativity of Christ witnessed at once the martyrdom of infants, so that they who were two years old and under were slain for His name's sake. An age not yet fitted for the battle appeared fit for the crown. That it might be manifest that they who are slain for Christ's sake are innocent, innocent infancy was put to death for His name's sake. It is shown that none is free from the peril of persecution, when even these accomplished martyrdoms. But how grave is the case of a Christian man, if he, a servant, is unwilling to suffer, when his Master first suffered; and that we should be unwilling to suffer for our own sins, when He who had no sin of His own suffered for us! The Son of God suffered that He might make us sons of God, and the son of man will not suffer that he may continue to be a son of God! If we suffer from the world's hatred, Christ first endured the world's hatred. If we suffer reproaches in this world, if exile, if tortures, the Maker and Lord of the world experienced harder things than these, and He also warns us, saying, "If the world hate you, remember that it hated me before you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you." [2567] Whatever our Lord and God taught, He also did, that the disciple might not be excused if he learns and does not.

7. Nor let any one of you, beloved brethren, be so terrified by the fear of future persecution, or the coming of the threatening Antichrist, as not to be found armed for all things by the evangelical exhortations and precepts, and by the heavenly warnings. Antichrist is coming, but above him comes Christ also. [2568] The enemy goeth about and rageth, but immediately the Lord follows to avenge our sufferings and our wounds. The adversary is enraged and threatens, but there is One who can deliver us from his hands. He is to be feared whose anger no one can escape, as He Himself forewarns, and says: "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell." [2569] And again: "He that loveth his life, shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world, shall keep it unto life eternal." [2570] And in the Apocalypse He instructs and forewarns, saying, "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead or in his hand, the same also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, mixed in the cup of His indignation, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torments shall ascend up for ever and ever; and they shall have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image." [2571]

8. For the secular contest men are trained and prepared, and reckon it a great glory of their honour if it should happen to them to be crowned in the sight of the people, and in the presence of the emperor. Behold a lofty and great contest, glorious also with the reward of a heavenly crown, inasmuch as God looks upon us as we struggle, and, extending His view over those whom He has condescended to make His sons, He enjoys the spectacle of our contest. God looks upon us in the warfare, and fighting in the encounter of faith; His angels look on us, and Christ looks on us. How great is the dignity, and how great the happiness of the glory, to engage in the presence of God, and to be crowned, with Christ for a judge! Let us be armed, beloved brethren, with our whole strength, and let us be prepared for the struggle with an uncorrupted mind, with a sound faith, with a devoted courage. Let the camp of God go forth to the battle-field which is appointed to us. Let the sound ones be armed, lest he that is sound should lose the advantage of having lately stood; let the lapsed also be armed, that even the lapsed may regain what he has lost: let honour provoke the whole; let sorrow provoke the lapsed to the battle. The Apostle Paul teaches us to be armed and prepared, saying, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers, and the princes of this world and of this darkness, against spirits of wickedness in high places. Wherefore put on the whole armour, that ye may be able to withstand in the most evil day, that when ye have done all ye may stand; having your loins girt about with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one; and the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." [2572]

9. Let us take these arms, let us fortify ourselves with these spiritual and heavenly safeguards, that in the most evil day we may be able to withstand, and to resist the threats of the devil: let us put on the breastplate of righteousness, that our breast may be fortified and safe against the darts of the enemy: let our feet be shod with evangelical teaching, and armed, so that when the serpent shall begin to be trodden and crushed by us, he may not be able to bite and trip us up: let us bravely bear the shield of faith, by the protection of which, whatever the enemy darts at us may be extinguished: let us take also for protection of our head the helmet of salvation, that our ears may be guarded from hearing the deadly edicts; that our eyes may be fortified, that they may not see the odious images; that our brow may be fortified, so as to keep safe the sign of God; [2573] that our mouth may be fortified, that the conquering tongue may confess Christ its Lord: let us also arm the right hand with the sword of the Spirit, that it may bravely reject the deadly sacrifices; that, mindful of the Eucharist, the hand which has received the Lord's body [2574] may embrace the Lord Himself, hereafter to receive from the Lord the reward of heavenly crowns.

10. Oh, what and how great will that day be at its coming, beloved brethren, when the Lord shall begin to count up His people, and to recognise the deservings of each one by the inspection of His divine knowledge, to send the guilty to Gehenna, and to set on fire our persecutors with the perpetual burning of a penal fire, but to pay to us the reward of our faith and devotion! What will be the glory and how great the joy to be admitted to see God, to be honoured to receive with Christ, thy Lord God, the joy of eternal salvation and light to greet Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles, and martyrs to rejoice with the righteous and the friends of God in the kingdom of heaven, with the pleasure of immortality given to us to receive there what neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man! For the apostle announces that we shall receive greater things than anything that we here either do or suffer, saying, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come hereafter which shall be revealed in us." [2575] When that revelation shall come, when that glory of God shall shine upon us, we shall be as happy and joyful, honoured with the condescension of God, as they will remain guilty and wretched, who, either as deserters from God or rebels against Him, have done the will of the devil, so that it is necessary for them to be tormented with the devil himself in unquenchable fire.

11. Let these things, beloved brethren, take hold of our hearts; let this be the preparation of our arms, this our daily and nightly meditation, to have before our eyes and ever to revolve in our thoughts and feelings the punishments of the wicked and the rewards and the deservings of the righteous: what the Lord threatens by way of punishment against those that deny Him; what, on the other hand, He promises by way of glory to those that confess Him. If, while we think and meditate on these things, there should come to us a day of persecution, the soldier of Christ instructed in His precepts and warnings is not fearful for the battle, but is prepared for the crown. I bid you, dearest brethren, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle LVI. [2576]

To Cornelius in Exile, Concerning His Confession.

Argument. Cyprian Praises in Cornelius and His People Their Confession of the Name of Christ Even to Banishment; And Exhorts Them to Constancy and to Mutual Prayer for One Another, as Well in Respect of the Approaching Day of Struggle in This Life, as After Death. [2577]

1. Cyprian to Cornelius his brother, greeting. We have been made acquainted, dearest brother, with the glorious testimonies of your faith and courage, and have received with such exultation the honour of your confession, that we count ourselves also sharers and companions in your merits and praises. For as we have one Church, a mind united, and a concord undivided, what priest does not congratulate himself on the praises of his fellow-priest [2578] as if on his own; or what brotherhood would not rejoice in the joy of its brethren? It cannot be sufficiently declared how great was the exultation and how great the joy here, when we had heard of your success and bravery, that you had stood forth as a leader of confession to the brethren there; and, moreover, that the confession of the leader had increased by the consent of the brethren; so that, while you precede them to glory, you have made many your companions in glory, and have persuaded the people to become a confessor by being first prepared to confess on behalf of all; so that we are at a loss what we ought first of all to commend in you, whether your prompt and decided faith, or the inseparable love of the brethren. Among you the courage of the bishop going before has been publicly proved, and the unitedness of the brotherhood following has been shown. As with you there is one mind and one voice, the whole Roman Church has confessed. [2579]

2. The faith, dearest brethren, which the blessed apostle commended in you has shone brightly. He even then in the spirit foresaw this praise of courage and firmness of strength; and, attesting your merits by the commendation of your future doings, in praising the parents he provokes the children. While you are thus unanimous, while you are thus brave, you have given great examples both of unanimity and of bravery to the rest of the brethren. You have taught them deeply to fear God, firmly to cling to Christ; that the people should be associated with the priests in peril; that the brethren should not be separated from brethren in persecution that a concord, once established, can by no means be overcome; that whatsoever is at the same time sought for by all, the God of peace will grant to the peaceful. The adversary had leapt forth to disturb the camp of Christ with violent terror; but, with the same impetuosity with which he had come, he was beaten back and conquered; and as much fear and terror as he had brought, so much bravery and strength he also found. He had thought that he could again overthrow the servants of God, and agitate them in his accustomed manner, as if they were novices and inexperienced as if little prepared and little cautious. He attacked one first, as a wolf had tried to separate the sheep from the flock, as a hawk to separate the dove from the flying troop; for he who has not sufficient strength against all, seeks to gain advantage from the solitude of individuals. But when beaten back as well by the faith as by the vigour of the combined army, he perceived that the soldiers of Christ are now watching, and stand sober and armed for the battle; that they cannot be conquered, but that they can die; and that by this very fact they are invincible, that they do not fear death; that they do not in turn assail their assailants, since it is not lawful for the innocent even to kill the guilty; but that they readily deliver up both their lives and their blood; that since such malice and cruelty rages in the world, they may the more quickly withdraw from the evil and cruel. What a glorious spectacle was that under the eyes of God! what a joy of His Church in the sight of Christ, that not single soldiers, but the whole camp, at once went forth to the battle which the enemy had tried to begin! For it is plain that all would have come if they could have heard, since whoever heard ran hastily and came. How many lapsed were there restored by a glorious confession! They bravely stood, and by the very suffering of repentance were made braver for the battle, that it might appear that lately they had been taken at unawares, and had trembled at the fear of a new and unaccustomed thing, but that they had afterwards returned to themselves; that true faith and their strength, gathered from the fear of God, had constantly and firmly strengthened them to all endurance; and that now they do not stand for pardon of their crime, but for the crown of their suffering.

3. What does Novatian say to these things, dearest brother? Does he yet lay aside his error? Or, indeed, as is the custom of foolish men, is he more driven to fury by our very benefits and prosperity; and in proportion as the glory of love and faith grows here more and more, does the madness of dissension and envy break out anew there? Does the wretched man not cure his own wound, but wound both himself and his friends still more severely, clamouring with his tongue to the ruin of the brethren, and hurling darts of poisonous eloquence, more severe in accordance with the wickedness of a secular philosophy than peaceable with the gentleness of the Lord s wisdom, a deserter of the Church, a foe to mercy, a destroyer of repentance a teacher of arrogance, a corrupter of truth, a murderer of love? Does he now acknowledge who is the priest of God; which is the Church and the house of Christ; who are God's servants, whom the devil molests; who the Christians, whom Antichrist attacks? For neither does he seek those whom he has already subdued, nor does he take the trouble to overthrow those whom he has already made his own. The foe and enemy of the Church despises and passes by those whom he has alienated from the Church, and led without as captives and conquered; he goes on to harass those in whom he sees Christ dwell.

4. Even although any one of such should have been seized, there is no reason for his flattering himself, as if in the confession of the name; since it is manifest that, if people of this sort should be put to death outside the Church, it is no crown of faith, but is rather a punishment of treachery. Nor will those dwell in the house of God among those that are of one mind, whom we see to have withdrawn by the madness of discord from the peaceful and divine household.

5. We earnestly exhort as much as we can, dearest brother, for the sake of the mutual love by which we are joined one to another, that since we are instructed by the providence of the Lord, who warns us, and are admonished by the wholesome counsels of divine mercy, that the day of our contest and struggle is already approaching, we should not cease to be instant with all the people in fastings, in watchings, in prayers. Let us be urgent, with constant groanings and frequent prayers. For these are our heavenly arms, which make us to stand fast and bravely to persevere. These are the spiritual defences and divine weapons which defend us. Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides always pray for one another. Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if any one of us, by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence the first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father s mercy. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartly farewell.

Epistle LVII. [2580]

To Lucius [2581] The Bishop of Rome, Returned from Banishment.

Argument. Cyprian, with His Colleagues, Congratulates Lucius on His Return from Exile, Reminding Him that Martyrdom Deferred Does Not Make the Glory Less. Then, Pointing Out that the Martyrdom of Cornelius and the Banishment of Lucius Had Happened by Divine Direction, for the Confusion of the Novatians, He Foretells to Him His Own Impending Martyrdom, God So Ordaining It that It Should Be Consummated Not Away from Home, But Among His Own People.

1. Cyprian, with his colleagues, to Lucius his brother, greeting. We had lately also congratulated you indeed, dearest brother, when the divine condescension, by a double honour, appointed you in the administration of God's Church, as well a confessor as a priest. But now also we no less congratulate you and your companions, and the whole fraternity, that the benignant and liberal protection of the Lord has brought you back again to His own with the same glory, and with praises to you; that so the shepherd might be restored to feed his flock, and the pilot to manage the ship, and the ruler to govern the people; and that it might appear that your banishment was so divinely arranged, not that the bishop banished and driven away should be wanting to the Church, but that he should return to the Church greater than he had left it.

2. For the dignity of martyrdom was not the less in the case of the three youths, because, their death being frustrated, they came forth safe from the fiery furnace; nor did Daniel stand forth uncompleted in the praise he deserved, because, when he had been sent to the lions for a prey, he was protected by the Lord, and lived to glory. Among confessors of Christ, martyrdoms deferred do not diminish the merits of confession, but show forth the greatness of divine protection. We see represented in you what the brave and illustrious youths announced before the king, that they indeed were prepared to be burnt in the flames, that they might not serve his gods, nor worship the image which he had made; but that the God whom they worshipped, and whom we also worship, was able even to rescue them from the fiery furnace, and to deliver them from the hands of the king, and from imminent sufferings. This we now find carried out in the faith of your confession, and in the Lord's protection over you; so that while you were prepared and ready to undergo all punishment, yet the Lord withdrew you from punishment, and preserved you for the Church. In your return the dignity of his confession has not been abridged in the bishop, but the priestly authority has rather increased; so that a priest is assisting at the altar of God, who exhorts the people to take up the arms of confession, and to submit to martyrdom, that Antichrist is near, prepares the soldiers for the battle, not only by the urgency of his speech and his words, but by the example of his faith and courage.

3. We understand, dearest brother, and we perceive with the whole light of our heart, the salutary and holy plans of the divine majesty, whence the sudden persecution lately arose there whence the secular power suddenly broke forth against the Church of Christ and the bishop Cornelius, the blessed martyr, and all of you; so that, for the confusion and beating down of heretics, the Lord might show [2582] which was the Church which is its one bishop chosen by divine appointment which presbyters are associated with the bishop in priestly honour which is the united and true people of Christ, linked together in the love of the Lord's flock who they were whom the enemy would harass; whom, on the other hand, the devil would spare as being his own. For Christ's adversary does not persecute and attack any except Christ's camp and soldiers; heretics, once prostrated and made his own, he despises and passes by. He seeks to cast down those whom he sees to stand.

4. And I wish, dearest brother, that the power were now given us to be with you there on your return, that we ourselves, who love you with mutual love, might, being present with the rest, also receive the very joyous fruit of your coming. What exultation among all the brethren there; what running together and embracing of each one as they arrive! Scarcely can you be satisfied with the kisses of those who cling to you; scarcely can the very faces and eyes of the people be satiated with seeing. At the joy of your coming the brotherhood there has begun to recognise what and how great a joy will follow when Christ shall come. For because His advent will quickly approach, a kind of representation has now gone before in you; that just as John, His forerunner and preparer of His way, came and preached that Christ had come, so, now that a bishop returns as a confessor of the Lord, and His priest, it appears that the Lord also is now returning. But I and my colleagues, and all the brotherhood, send this letter to you in the stead of us, dearest brother; and setting forth to you by our letter our joy, we express the faithful inclination of our love here also in our sacrifices and our prayers, not ceasing to give thanks to God the Father, and to Christ His Son our Lord; and as well to pray as to entreat, that He who is perfect, and makes perfect, will keep and perfect in you the glorious crown of your confession, who perchance has called you back for this purpose, that your glory should not be hidden, if the martyrdom of your confession should be consummated away from home. For the victim which affords an example to the brotherhood both of courage and of faith, ought to be offered up when the brethren are present. We bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle LVIII. [2583]

To Fidus, on the Baptism of Infants.

Argument. In This Letter Cyprian is Not Establishing Any New Decree; But Keeping Most Firmly the Faith of the Church, for the Correction of Those Who Thought that an Infant Must Not Be Baptized Before the Eighth Day After Its Birth, He Decreed with Some of His Fellow-Bishops, that as Soon as It Was Born It Might Properly Be Baptized. He Takes Occasion, However, to Refuse to Recall the Peace that Had Been Granted to One Victor, Although It Had Been Granted Against the Decrees of Synods Concerning the Lapsed; But Forbids Therapius the Bishop to Do It in Other Cases. [2584]

1. Cyprian, and others his colleagues who were present in council, in number sixty-six, to Fidus their brother, greeting. We have read your letter, dearest brother, in which you intimated concerning Victor, formerly a presbyter, that our colleague Therapius, rashly at a too early season, and with over-eager haste, granted peace to him before he had fully repented, and had satisfied the Lord God, against whom he had sinned; which thing rather disturbed us, that it was a departure from the authority of our decree, [2585] that peace should be granted to him before the legitimate and full time of satisfaction, and without the request and consciousness of the people no sickness rendering it urgent, and no necessity compelling it. But the judgment being long weighed among us, it was considered sufficient to rebuke Therapius our colleague for having done this rashly, and to have instructed him that he should not do the like with any other. Yet we did not think that the peace once granted in any wise by a priest [2586] of God was to be taken away, and for this reason have allowed Victor to avail himself of the communion granted to him.

2. But in respect of the case of the infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think that one who is just born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day, we all thought very differently in our council. For in this course which you thought was to be taken, no one agreed; but we all rather judge that the mercy and grace of God is not to be refused to any one born of man. For as the Lord says in His Gospel, "The Son of man is not come to destroy men s lives, but to save them," [2587] as far as we Can, We must strive that, if possible, no soul be lost. For what is wanting to him who has once been formed in the womb by the hand of God? To us, indeed, and to our eyes, according to the worldly course of days, they who are born appear to receive an increase. But whatever things are made by God, are completed by the majesty and work of God their Maker.

3. Moreover, belief in divine Scripture declares to us, that among all, whether infants or those who are older, there is the same equality of the divine gift. Elisha, beseeching God, so laid himself upon the infant son of the widow, who was lying dead, that his head was applied to his head, and his face to his face, and the limbs of Elisha were spread over and joined to each of the limbs of the child, and his feet to his feet. If this thing be considered with respect to the inequality of our birth and our body, an infant could not be made equal with a person grown up and mature, nor could its little limbs fit and be equal to the larger limbs of a man. But in that is expressed the divine and spiritual equality, that all men are like and equal, since they have once been made by Cool; and our age may have a difference in the increase of our bodies, according to the world, but not according to God; unless that very grace also which is given to the baptized is given either less or more, according to the age of the receivers, whereas the Holy Spirit is not given with measure, but by the love and mercy of the Father alike to all. For God, as He does not accept the person, so does not accept the age; since He shows Himself Father to all with well-weighed equality for the attainment of heavenly grace.

4. For, with respect to what you say, that the aspect of an infant in the first days after its birth is not pure, so that any one of us would still shudder at kissing it, [2588] we do not think that this ought to be alleged as any impediment to heavenly grace. For it is written, "To the pure all things are pure." [2589] Nor ought any of us to shudder at that which God hath condescended to make. For although the infant is still fresh from its birth, yet it is not such that any one should shudder at kissing it in giving grace and in making peace; since in the kiss of an infant every one of us ought for his very religion's sake, to consider the still recent hands of God themselves, which in some sort we are kissing, in the man lately formed and freshly born, when we are embracing that which God has made. For in respect of the observance of the eighth day in the Jewish circumcision of the flesh, a sacrament was given beforehand in shadow and in usage; but when Christ came, it was fulfilled in truth. For because the eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath, was to be that on which the Lord should rise again, and should quicken us, and give us circumcision of the spirit, the eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath, and the Lord s day, went before in the figure; which figure ceased when by and by the truth came, and spiritual circumcision was given to us.

5. For which reason we think that no one is to be hindered from obtaining grace by that law which was already ordained, and that spiritual circumcision ought not to be hindered by carnal circumcision, but that absolutely every man is to be admitted to the grace of Christ, since Peter also in the Acts of the Apostles speaks, and says, "The Lord hath said to me that I should call no man common or unclean." [2590] But if anything could hinder men from obtaining grace, their more heinous sins might rather hinder those who are mature and grown up and older. But again, if even to the greatest sinners, and to those who had sinned much against God, when they subsequently believed, remission of sins is granted and nobody is hindered from baptism and from grace how much rather ought we to shrink from hindering an infant, who, being lately born, has not sinned, except in that, being born after the flesh according to Adam, [2591] he has contracted the contagion of the ancient death at its earliest birth, who approaches the more easily on this very account to the reception of the forgiveness of sins that to him are remitted, not his own sins, but the sins of another.

6. And therefore, dearest brother, this was our opinion in council, that by us no one ought to he hindered from baptism and from the grace of God, who is merciful and kind and loving to all. Which, since it is to he observed and maintained in respect of all, we think is to be even more observed in respect of infants and newly-born persons, who on this very account deserve more from our help and from the divine mercy, that immediately, on the very beginning of their birth, lamenting and weeping, they do nothing else but entreat. We bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell.

Epistle LIX. [2592]

To the Numidian Bishops, on the Redemption of Their Brethren from Captivity Among the Barbarians.

Argument. Cyprian Begins by Deploring the Captivity of the Brethren, of Which He Had Heard from the Numidian Bishops, and Says that He is Sending Them a Hundred Thousand Sesterces, Contributed by Brethren and Sisters and Colleagues [2593]

1. Cyprian to Januarius, Maximus, Proculus, Victor, Modianus, Nemesianus, Nampulus, and Honoratus, his brethren, greeting. With excessive grief of mind, and not without tears, dearest, brethren, I have read your letter which you wrote to me from the solicitude of your love, concerning the captivity of our brethren and sisters. For who would not grieve at misfortunes of that kind, or who would not consider his brother's grief his own, since the Apostle Paul speaks, saying, "Whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member rejoice, all the members rejoice with it; " [2594] and in another place he says, "Who is weak, and I am not weak? " [2595] Wherefore now also the captivity of our brethren must be reckoned as our captivity, and the grief of those who are endangered is to be esteemed as our grief, since indeed there is one body of our union; and not love only, but also religion, ought to instigate and strengthen us to redeem the members of the brethren.

2. For inasmuch as the Apostle Paul says again, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? " [2596] even although love urged us less to bring help to the brethren, yet in this place we must have considered that it was the temples of God which were taken captive, and that we ought not by long inactivity and neglect of their suffering to allow the temples of God to be long captive, but to strive with what powers we can, and to act quickly by our obedience, to deserve well of Christ our Judge and Lord and God. For as the Apostle Paul says, "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ," [2597] Christ is to be contemplated in our captive brethren, and He is to be redeemed from the peril of captivity who redeemed us from the peril of death; so that He who took us out of the jaws of the devil, who abides and dwells in us, may now Himself be rescued and redeemed from the hands of barbarians by a sum of money who redeemed us by His cross and blood who suffers these things to happen for this reason, that our faith may be tried, whether each one of us will do for another what he would wish to be done for himself, if he himself were held captive among barbarians. For who that is mindful of humanity, and reminded of mutual love, if he be a father, will not now consider that his sons are there; if he be a husband, will not think that his wife is there kept captive, with as much grief as shame for the marriage tie? But how great is the general grief among all of us, and suffering concerning the peril of virgins who are kept there, on whose behalf we must bewail not only the loss of liberty, but of modesty; and must lament the bonds of barbarians less than the violence of seducers and abominable places, lest the members dedicated to Christ, and devoted for ever in honour of continence by modest. virtue, should be sullied by the Just and contagion of the insulter.

3. Our brotherhood, considering all these things according to your letter, and sorrowfully examining, have all promptly and willingly and liberally gathered together supplies of money for the brethren, being always indeed, according to the strength of their faith, prone to the work of God, but now even more stimulated to salutary works by the consideration of so great a suffering. For since the Lord in His Gospel says, "I was sick, and ye visited me," [2598] with how much greater reward for our work will He say now, "I was captive, and ye redeemed me!" And since again He says, "I was in prison, and ye came unto me," how much more will it be when He begins to say, "I was in the dungeon of captivity, and I lay shut up and bound among barbarians, and from that prison of slavery you delivered me," being about to receive a reward from the Lord when the day of judgment shall come! Finally, we give you the warmest thanks that you have wished us to be sharers in your anxiety, [2599] and in so great and necessary a work that you have offered us fruitful fields in which we might cast the seeds of our hope, with the expectation of a harvest of the most abundant fruits which will proceed from this heavenly and saving operation. We have then sent you a sum of one hundred thousand sesterces, [2600] which have been collected here in the Church over which by the Lord's mercy we preside, by the contributions of the clergy and people established with us, which you will there dispense with what diligence you may.

4. And we wish, indeed, that nothing of such a kind may happen again, and that our brethren, protected by the majesty of the Lord, may be preserved safe from perils of this kind. If, however, for the searching out of the love of our mind, and for the testing of the faith of our heart, any such thing should happen, do not delay to tell us of it in your letters, counting it for certain that our church and the whole fraternity here beseech by their prayers that these things may not happen again; but if they happen, that they will willingly and liberally render help. But that you may have in mind in your prayers our brethren and sisters who have laboured so promptly and liberally for this needful work, that they may always labour; and that in return for their good work you may present them in your sacrifices and prayers, I have subjoined the names of each one; and moreover also I have added the names of my colleagues and fellow-priests, who themselves also, as they were present, contributed some little according to their power, in their own names and the name of their people. And besides our own amount, I have intimated and sent their small sums, all of whom, in conformity with the claims of faith and charity, you ought to remember in your supplications and prayers. [2601] We bid you, dearest brethren, ever heartily farewell, and remember us.

Epistle LX. [2602] To Euchratius, About an Actor.

Argument. He Forbids an Actor, If He Continue in His Disgraceful Calling, from Communicating in the Church. Neither Does He Allow It to Be an Excuse for Him, that He Himself Does Not Practice the Histrionic Art, So Long as He Teaches It to Others; Neither Does He Excuse It Because of the Want of Means, Since Necessaries May Be Supplied to Him from the Resources of the Church; And Therefore, If the Means of the Church There are Not Sufficient, He Recommends Him to Come to Carthage.

1. Cyprian to Euchratius his brother, greeting. From our mutual love and your reverence for me you have thought that I should be consulted, dearest brother, as to my opinion concerning a certain actor, who, being settled among you, still persists in the discredit of the same art of his; and as a master and teacher, not for the instruction, but for the destruction of boys, that which he has unfortunately learnt he also imparts to others: you ask whether such a one ought to communicate with us. This, I think, neither befits the divine majesty nor the discipline of the Gospel, that the modesty and credit of the Church should be polluted by so disgraceful and infamous a contagion. For since, in the law, men are forbidden to put on a woman s garment, and those that offend in this manner are judged accursed, how much greater is the crime, not only to take women's garments, but also to express base and effeminate and luxurious gestures, by the teaching of an immodest art.

2. Nor let any one excuse himself that he himself has given up the theatre, while he is still teaching the art to others. For he cannot appear to have given it up who substitutes others in his place, and who, instead of himself alone, supplies many in his stead; against God's appointment, instructing and teaching in what way a man may be broken down into a woman, and his sex changed by art, [2603] and how the devil who pollutes the divine image may be gratified by the sins of a corrupted and enervated body. But if such a one alleges poverty and the necessity of small means, his necessity also can be assisted among the rest who are maintained by the support of the Church; if he be content, that is, with very frugal but innocent food. And let him not think that he is redeemed by an allowance to cease from sinning, since this is an advantage not to us, but to himself. What more he may wish he must seek thence, from such gain as takes men away from the banquet of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and leads them down, sadly and perniciously fattened in this world, to the eternal torments of hunger and thirst; and therefore, as far as you can, recall him from this depravity and disgrace to the way of innocence, and to the hope of eternal life, that he may be content with the maintenance of the Church, sparing indeed, but wholesome. But if the Church with you is not sufficient for this, to afford support for those in need, he may transfer himself to us, and here receive what may be necessary to him for food and clothing, and not teach deadly things to others without the Church, but himself learn wholesome things in the Church. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell.


[2309] [This eloquent and evangelical letter proves that much dross had been burned away by the fires of persecution since the episcopate of Callistus. It is refferred to, p. 309, note 4.] [2310] Oxford ed.: Ep. xxxii. A.D. 250. [2311] [Administering jurisdiction sede vacante.] [2312] [Illustrating the Treatise on Unity.] [2313] Oxford ed.: Ep. xxxviii. A.D. 25O. [2314] [Note,again this principle of the Cyprianic freedom and evangelical discipline. Acts xv. 22; Matt. xviii. 17.] [2315] Aurelius not being able to discharge the functions of hisoffice in public, because of the persecution, in the meantime read for Cyprian; which is said to be an augury or beginning of future peace. [2316] [That is himself. Compare Phil. i, 26.] [2317] Oxford ed.: Ep. xxxix. A.D. 250. [2318] [See testimony of Cornelius, in Euseb., H. E., vi, 43.] [2319] [He produced some momentary impression on Decius himself.] [2320] [Gal. vi 17. St. Paul esteemed such stigmataa better ground of glorying in the flesh than his circumcision.] [2321] [Memorial thanksgivings. Ussher argues hereby the absence of all purgatorial ideas, because martyrs were allowed by all to go at once to bliss. Compare Tertull., vol. iv. p. 67.] [2322] [He was called to preach and expound the Scriptures.] [2323] "The brotherhood may follow and imitate these same persons;" [2324] See Bin ham, Book v. cap 6, sec. 3.] [2325] Oxford cd.: Ep, xl. A.D. 250. [2326] Otherwise, "unconquered." [2327] [Let us put ourselves in Cyprian's place, and share his anxiety to fill up the vacant places in his list of presbyters at this terrible period.] [2328] Oxford ed.: Ep. vii. A.D. circa251. [2329] [Here,as elsewhere, spoken of in this way, in imitation of 1 Pet. v. 1.] [2330] Oxford ed.: Ep. xii. A.D. circa251. [2331] Matt. x. 32. [2332] Matt. x. 22. [2333] Rev. ii. 10. [2334] [The tract of Archbishop Ussher shows what these commemorations were. See vol. iii. p. 701, and Elucidation, p. 706, also vol i. p 484.] [2335] Oxford ed.: Ep. xli. A.D. 250. [2336] [So the Oxford ed., p. 91.] Or, "in the mount," "in monte;" vide meander, K. G., i. 252; probably in some church or congregation assembled by Felicissimus, on an eminence near or in Carthage. [2337] Or, "on the mount." [2338] Oxford ed.: Ep. xiii. A.D. 251. [2339] V. l."to Cyprian, greeting." [2340] "Rutili," scil. confessors who had spilt their blood. [2341] "Budinarius." The exact meaning of this word is unknown. Some read it as another name: "Soliassus and Budinarius" The Oxford editor changes it into Burdonarius, meaning a "carrier on mules." Salmasius, in a long note on a passage in the life of Aurelian (Hist. Aug., p. 408), proposes butinarius, which he derives from Butinē, a cruet for containing vinegar, etc., and which he identifies with Bouttis, the original of our bottle. Butinariaswould then mean a maker of vessels suitable for containing vinegar, etc. See Sophocles Glossary of Byzantine Greek, s. v.Bouttis. [Probably low Latin for a maker of force-meats. Spanish, budin.] [2342] Oxford ed.: Ep xliii. A.D. 251. [2343] Some read "Britius" or "Briccius." [2344] "Clericis urbicis," scil. the "Roman city clergy." [A very important example of the concurrent action of the clergy of the metropolis with those of sister churches.] [2345] "Romae" scil. "across the sea, at Rome." [The African canons forbade appeals to any bishop beyond seas.] [2346] [Concerning this exile, see p. 270, supra.] [2347] [" The elders," i.e., presbyters. Our author plays upon the word, and compares the corrupt presbyters to their like in the Hebrew Church, from which this name is borrowed. Exod. iii. 16and passim. ] [2348] Hist. of Susannah. [2349] Jer. xxiii. 16, 17. [2350] [See Treatise on Unity. Cyprian considers the universal episcopate as one cathredra, like "Moses seat" in the Church of the Hebrews. This one chair he calls "Peter's chair."] [2351] Matt. xv. 14. [2352] Deut. xiii. 5. [2353] Mark vii. 9. [2354] 1 Tim. vi. 3-5. [2355] Eph.v. 6, 7. [2356] Deut. xvii. 12. [2357] [The high official tone with which Cyprian upholds his own authority is always balanced by equal zeal for the presbyters and the laity. On which Compare Hooker, Polity, book viii. cap. vi. 8.] [2358] Oxford ed.: Ep. xliv, A.D 251. [2359] [ Cornelius has succeeded to the cathedrain Rome. Here opens a new chapter in the history of Cyprian and of the Roman See.] [2360] Ordinationto the episcopate was the term used. Consecrationis the inferior term now usual in Western Christendom. Elucidation VIII.] [2361] "In statione," "stationary assembly;" these being the Wednesdays and Fridays in each week (Marshall). [See vol. i. p. 33.] [2362] [Note the free use of this phrase by Cyprian This also to the Bishop of Rome.] [2363] [Nothing of a "universal bishop" is intimated or heard of. The e ection is that of a bishop like any other bishop.] [2364] [Here note, that the episcopate of Rome is in no otherwise regulated or regarded than that of any other See.] [2365] Oxford ed,: Ep. xlv. A.D. 251. [2366] The Oxford edition follows some authorities in reading this "sadness" rather than "gladness." [2367] Ps. xxxiv. 13. [2368] Ps. l. 19, 20. [2369] Eph. iv, 29. [2370] Lit.: "that these things ought to be done." [2371] The co-presbyter here spoken of is Novatian. The Orford text reads," When such writings came to me concerning you and your co-presbyters sitting with you, as had the true ring of religious simplicity m then ." There is a variety of readings. [But think of a modern "Pope" thus addressed about a "co-presbyter."] [2372] [Cyprian, however, respectfully demands the canonical evidences from his brother Cornelius.] [2373] [Every bishop thus announced his ordination.] [2374] [Had such instructions proceeded from the Roman See to Cyprian, what inferences would have been manufactured out of them by the media:vol writers.] [2375] Oxford ed.: Ep. xlvii. A.D. 25l. [2376] [On the frequent confusion of these names see Wordsworth, Hippol., p. 109.] [2377] Oxford ed.: Ep. xlvi. A.D. 251. [2378] [" Another bishop should be made." What would have been the outcry o( the whole Church, and what the language of Cyprian, had any idea entered their minds that the case was that of the Divine Oracle of Christendom, the Vicar of Christ, the Centre of Unity, the Infallible, etc.] [2379] Oxford ed.: Ep. xlviii. A.D. 251. [2380] [This refers to the episcopate. They had taken letters only to "presbyters and deacons." Or to Christ the root, and the Church the womb or matrix. See infra, Letter xlviii. p. 325. [2381] Oxford ed.: Ep. xlix. A.D. 251. [2382] Novatian. [2383] Baluz.: "Announced the swelling pride of some, the softened temper of others." [2384] [i.e., for episcopal ordination and consecration.] [2385] [See Ep. xvii. p. 296, supra.] [2386] Matt. v. 8. [2387] [Episcopatus unus est. One bishop, i e., one episcopate. See the note, Oxford translation of this letter, p. 108, and Cyprian's theory of the same in his Treatise on Unity.] [2388] Baluzius reads,without authority: "Who would not be moved by that profession of theirs.", etc. [2389] Oxford ed.: Ep. li. A.D. 251. [2390] Some read, "might not be tried by the faith of their charity and unity." [2391] Some old editions read, "of that thing." [2392] Luke xv.7. [2393] Oxford ed.: Ep. l. A D. 251. [2394] [Oxford trans., p. III. Elucidation VIII. and p. 319, supra.] [2395] Oxford ed.: Ep. lii. A.D. 251. [2396] Eph. v. 31, 32. [2397] [See letter xliv. p. 322, p. 322, supra.] [2398] [" From her greatness;" he does not even mention her dignity as the one and only apostolic see of Western Christendom. And this is the case in subsequent action of the Great Councils. Rome, though not theroot, was yet a "root and matrix."] [2399] Matt. xv. 13. [2400] [Cyprian's idea of unity as expounded in his treatise, infra.] [2401] Oxford ed.: Ep. liii, A.D. 251. [2402] [The language of this letter clearly demonstrates the primitive condition of the Roman clergy and their bishop, and their entire unconsciousness of any exceptional position in their estate or relations to other churches. "Our bishop " - not Urbis et Orbis papau.] [2403] Oxford ed.: Ep. liv. A.D. 252. [2404] 2 Tim. ii. 20. [2405] [i.e., On Unityand On the Lapsers.] [2406] " Of the Unity of the Church." [And note, Cyprian innocently teaches these Roman clergy the principles of Catholic unity, without an idea that they were in a position to know much more on the subject than they could be taught by a bishop in Africa.] [2407] Oxford ed.: Ep. lv. A.D. 252. [2408] That be may induce him to this, he narrates the history of the whole disturbance between Cornelius and Novatian, and explains that Cornelius was an excellent man, and legitimately elected; while Novatian was guilty of many crimes, and had obtained an unlawful election. [2409] [" Our co-bishop," language which reflects our author's idea of Catholic communion. See his Treatise on Unity; also p 329.] [2410] [His idea is, that to be in communion with the whole Church, one must be in fellowship with his own lawful bishop.] [2411] Ep. xiii. 2. [2412] [The provincial council, clearly.] [2413] Ep. xxx. p. 310. [2414] [On principles of Catholic unity expounded in his Treatise.] [2415] [Note this appeal to Scripture aiways, as enthroned infallibility, insuring the presence of the Spiritof counsel.] [2416] [A most important reference to the true position of the Roman See. Elucidation IX.] [2417] [Novatian and his like.] [2418] [On the death of Fabian, see Ep. iii. p. 281; sufferings of Cornelius (inference), p, 3O3; Decius, p. 299.] [2419] [On the death of Fabian, see Ep. iii. p. 281; sufferings of Cornelius (inference), p, 3O3; Decius, p. 299.] [2420] [Not by a mere decision, but by consent o( "colleagues."] [2421] Opprimi. [2422] [Jude 22.] [2423] [Episcopo tractante. See Oxford trans., a valuable note, p. 124; also Vincent, Common., cap. 28.] [2424] [Ezek. xxxiv. 4.] [2425] 1 Cor. x. 33, 1 Cor. xi. 1. [2426] 1 Cor. ix. 22. [2427] 1 Cor. xii, 26. [2428] Col. ii. 8. [2429] Num. xii. 3. [2430] Luke vi, 36. [2431] Matt. ix. 12. [2432] [ Compare Cyprian, in all this, with his less reasonable "master" Tertullian ] [2433] Apud inferos. See Ps. vi. 5. [2434] Prov. xviii. 19 (old version). [2435] Gal. vi. 1, 2. [2436] 1 Cor. x.12. [2437] Rom.xiv. 4. [2438] 1 John ii, 2. [2439] Rom. v. 8, 9. [2440] [I bespeak admiration for this loving spirit of one often upbraided for his strong expressions aud firm convictions.] [2441] These words are variously read, "to be purged divinely," or "to be purged for a long while," scil. "purgari divine," or "purgari diutine." [Candid Romish writers concede that this does not refer to their purgatory; but, the idea once accepted, we can read it into this place as into 1 Cor. iii. 13. See Oxford trans., p. i28.] [2442] [The unity of the Catholic Church, in his view, consists in this unity of co-bishops in one episcopate, with which every Christian should be in communion throu h his own bishop.] [2443] [The independence of bishops, and their intercommunion as one episcopate, is his theory of the undivided sacrament of Catholicity.] [2444] Apoc. ii. 5. [2445] Tob. iv. 10. [2446] Apoc. ii. 20-22. [2447] Luke xv. 7. [2448] Wisd. i. 13. [2449] Joel ii. 12, 13. [2450] Ps. lxxxix. 32, 33. [2451] Matt. vii. 9-11. [2452] [Matt. v. 4. A striking exposition. "The quality of mercy is not strained," etc.] [2453] [The primitive canons require the consent of a majority of comprovincials, and threeat least to ordain.] [2454] [One of the many aphoristic condensations of the Cyprianic theory. Elucidation X.] [2455] Eph. iv. 2, 3. [2456] [" The body of his fellow-bishops," as above.] [2457] 2 Tim. ii. 20. [2458] John v. 14. [2459] 1 Cor. vi. 18. [2460] 2 Cor. xii. 21. [2461] Eph. v. 5. [2462] Col. iii. 5, 6. [2463] Ezek. xviii. 20. [2464] Deut. xxiv. 26. [2465] [" Fools make a mock at sin." But what serious reflections are inspired by the solemn discipline of primitive Christianity! Mercy is magnified, indeed, but pardon and peace are made worth striving after. Repentance is made a reality, and we hear nothing of mechanical penances and absolutions.] [2466] [He has never heard of indulgences and masses for the dead, nor of purgatorial remission. See p. 332, note 7.] [2467] [To the unity of our common episcopate. Note this; for, if he had imagined Cornelius to have been a "Pope," he must have said, "to unity with the true pontiff, against whom Novatian has rebelled, and made himself an anti-pope."] [2468] Oxford ed.: Ep. lvi. A.D. 252. [2469] According to some readings, "the name of the Lord." [2470] [The sweetness, moderation, and prudence of this letter are alike commendable. But let us reflect what it meant to confess Christ in those days.] [2471] Oxford ed.: Ep. lvii. [2472] As the African bishops had previously decided in a certain council, that the lapsed, except after long penitence, should not be received to peace, unless perchance peril of sickness was urgent; now on the appearance of a new persecution they decided that peace was to be granted to all those who had repented, so that they might be the more courageous for the contest of suffering. [2473] [" To Cornelius their brother." Now compare this with the abject conduct of Latin bishops at the late council of the Vatican. See Dollinger (On Unity, etc.), Janus, and Quirinus. [2474] The superscription in other texts is as follows; "Cyprian, Liberalis, Caldonius, Nicomedes, Caecilius, Junius, Marrutius, Felix, Successus, Faustinus, Fortunatus, Victor, Saturninus, another Saturninus, Rogatian, Tertullus, Lucianus, Sattius, Secundinus, another Saturninus, Eutyches, Amplus, another Saturninus, Anrelius, Priscus, Herculaneus, Victoricus, Quintus, Honoratus, Manthaneus, Hortensianus, Verianus, Iambus, Donatus, Pomponius, Polycarp, Demetrius, another Donatus, Privatianus, another Fortunatus, Rogatus and Munnulus, to Cornelius their brother, greeting." [2475] [CompareLuke xxii. 15, 42, and Ps. cxvi. 13.] [2476] Matt. x. 19, 20. [2477] Ezek. xxxiv. 3-6, 10-16. [2478] [" We have determined." No reference to any revising power in the Bishop of Rome, who is counselled from first to last as a brother, and told what he should do.] [2479] Oxford ed.: Ep. lix. A.D, 252. [2480] Indicating also by the way whence heresy and schisms are wont to take their rise, so that the letter is with good reason inscribed by Morell "Contra Haereticos." [2481] [He was a purse-proud layman. But see Elucidation Xlll. infra.] [2482] [" The sacramental host of God's elect." The Task, Cowper.] [2483] Hab. ii. 5. [2484] 1 Mac. ii. 62, 63. [2485] Ps. xxxviii. 35, 36. [2486] Isa. xiv. 13, 14. [2487] Isa. xiv. 15, 16. [2488] Isa. ii. 12. [2489] Matt. xii. 34, 35. [2490] [This idea became embedded in the minds of Western Christians. See Southey, Roderick, xxv. note pa. The Fabulous Chronicle which Southey gives at length is a curious study of this subject.] [2491] 1 Cor. vi. 10. [2492] Matt. v. 22. [2493] Deut. xvii. 12, 13. [2494] 1 Sam. viii. 7. [2495] Luke x. 16. [2496] Matt. viii. 4. [2497] John xviii. 22. [2498] John xviii. 23. [2499] Acts xxiii. 4. [2500] Acts xxiii. 5. [2501] [i.e., in each Church the one episcopate " the college of priests" - is represented by the one bishop. See note, Oxford trans. p. 155.] [2502] [An illustration again of the Cyprianic theory. See the Treatise on Unity. These notes will aid when we reach that Treatise.] [2503] Matt. x. 29. [2504] Hos. viii. 4. [2505] Hos. ix. 4. [2506] Isa. xxx. 1. [2507] John vi. 67. [2508] [Cyprian could not have written this letter to Cornelius had he recognised in him, as a successor of Peter, any other than the gifts which he supposed common to all bishops.] [2509] Matt. xv. 13. [2510] 1 John ii. 19. [2511] Rom. iii. 3, 4. [2512] Gal. i. 10. [2513] [" Our fellow-bishops." This council was held on the return of Cyprian, A o. 251, soon after Easter.] [2514] [" Our fellow-bishops." This council was held on the return of Cyprian, A o. 251, soon after Easter.] [2515] [They were not appointed there by any "favour of the Apostolic See," and Cyprian knows much more of their existence as bishops than Cornelius does.] [2516] [Elucidation XI.] [2517] Or, "with Privatus, the proved heretic; " or, according to the Oxford translation, "a proud heretic." [See p. 308.] [2518] Ex. xxii. 20. [2519] Matt. x. 33. [2520] Isa. lvii. 6. [2521] Strictly, the phrase here as elsewhere is, "should do penance," "poenitentiam lagerent." [2522] "That by the malice of the devil they may consummate their work;" v. l. [2523] Scil. Capitol of Carthage, for the provinces imitated Rome in this respect. Du Cange give many instances. [2524] Isa. xxix. 10: orig. "transpunctionis." [2525] 2 Thess. ii. 10-12. [2526] [The or animation of the laity into their freedom and franchises is part of the Cyprianic system, and gave birth to the whole fabric of free constitutions, in England and elsewhere.] [2527] Mal. ii. 1, 2. [2528] "Unless they had set up," vl. [2529] [The Apostolic See of the West was necessarily all this in the eyes of an unambitious faithful Western co-bishop; but the letter itself proves that it was not the See of one who had any authority over or apart from his co-bishops. Let us not read into his expressions ideas which are an after-thought, and which conflict with the life and all the testimony of Cyprian.] [2530] [To be interpreted by Epistle xxx. p. 308, supra. Elucidation XII.] [2531] [Note this decree, "by all of us," and what follows.] [2532] [Only "desperate and abandoned men" could make light of other bishops, by carrying their case from their own province to Rome This was forbidden by canons. Cyprian's respect for the mother See was like that felt by Anglo-Americans for Canterbury, involving no subjection in the least degree. See Elucidation Xlll.] [2533] Matt. v. 37. [2534] [Exod. xxiii. 2. The best comment on Cyprian's system is to be found in the Comnonitoryof Vincent of Lerins (A.D. 450), who lays down the rule, that if the whole Church revolts from the faith save only a few, those few are the Catholics.] [2535] Ecclus. xvi. 1, 2. The words in parenthesis are not found in many editions. [2536] [See vol. ii. pp, 15, 22. And for this ecclesiastical "remission," 2 Cor. ii. 10 , which Cyprian imitates.] [2537] [What a contrast to the hierarchical spirit of the Middle Ages, this primitive compassion for penitents! Think of Canossa.] [2538] 2 Chron. xxiv. 20. [2539] [Cyprian's love for the people is always thus conspicuous. Here the majesty and dignity of the Catholic Church is identified with all estates of men therein.] [2540] [Phil. iii. 2. The apostle calls the Judaizers a concision, the particle cut offand thrown away in the rite of circumcision; a rejected schism. See Joel iii. 14, Eng., margin. Elucidation XII.] [2541] [Note this significant language. Our author has no conception of a pontifical system excluding the presbytery from its part and place in the councils and regimen of the Church.] [2542] [Elucidation XV,; also Elucidation XIII.] [2543] 1 Cor. xv. 33. [2544] Tit. iii. 10, 11. [2545] Prov. xvi. 27. [2546] Ecclus. xxviii. 24 (Vulg. 28). [2547] Prov. xvii. 4. [2548] [It must be seen what all this implies as to the position of Cornelius and ("our brotherhood there") his comprovincial bishops, i.e., in their relations to Cyprian.] [2549] Matt. xviii. 17. [2550] 2 Thess. iii. 6. [Cyprian virtually commands Cornelius, through, the Apostle, what course to take. Elucidation XIII.] [2551] [Had such a letter been sent by Cornelius to Cyprian, so full of warning, advice, and even direction, what would not have been made of it as a "Decretal" ? A.D. 252.] [2552] Oxford ed.: Ep. lviii. [2553] Hence are suggested illustrations of good men from the beginning of the world who have suffered martyrdom, especially that which surpasses all examples, the passion of our Lord. What excitement is afforded to the endurance of martyrdom by the brave and ready enduring of the contests of the stadium and the theatre. Finally, let the reward be considered, which now, moreover, animates and influences us to sustain everything. [2554] Occasum. [2555] [It has been a question whether this dailyreception of the communion was confined to times o( persecution, or was more generally the custom. It seems to me exceptional. Freeman, vol. i. p. 383.] [2556] 1 John ii. 6. [2557] Rom. viii. 16, 17. [2558] John xvi. 2-4. [2559] 1 Pet. iv. 12-14. [2560] Luke xviii. 29, 3. [2561] Luke vi. 22, 23. [2562] [Preaching the eminent duty of true bishops. See letter li p 330, note 4, supra.] [2563] Dan. iii. 16-18. [2564] Matt. x. 19, 20. [2565] Bel and the Dragon, 5. [2566] [Referred to by St. Paul, Heb. xi.35. I say St. Pauladvisedly. See, to the contrary, Farrar, St. Paul, p. 6.] [2567] John xv. 18-20. [2568] [Valuable note, Oxford trans., Ep. lviii. p. 142, note k.] [2569] Matt. x, 28. [2570] John xii. 25. [2571] Apoc. xiv. 9-11. [2572] Eph. vi. 12-17. [2573] Scil.: the signn of the cross in baptism. [2574] It is observed here that the Eucharist was at this time received by the hand of the comnnmicant, and not placed in his mouth by the minister, as some have pretended was the original mode of administration. [See Cyril of Jerusalem, Mystagog., v. p. 1126, migne.] [2575] Rom. viii. 18. [2576] Oxford ed.: Ep. lx. A.D. 252. [2577] Damasus mentions this Epistle in the life of Cornelius, as being that on account of which a calumny arose, whence the tyrant took an excuse for his death. [2578] [Note the entire equality of these bishops. Carthage and Rome are of equal sacerdocy.] [2579] [Cornelius the voice of his diocese only because they concur with him. Compare Leto, Vat. Council, p. 223 and passim.] [2580] Oxford ed.: Ep lxi. A. D. 252. [2581] [Hi episcopate lasted not six months. See Eusebius, H. E., vii. 2. He seems to have suffered martyrdom by the sword.] [2582] [Not Novatian. The organization at Rome is here glanced at, as answering to the Cyprianic theory in all respects.] [2583] Oxford ed.: Ep. lxiv. [It would be unbecoming in me to add comments of my own on this letter. Such are the views of Cyprian; and one may see the opposite views, set forth with extreme candor, by Jeremy Taylor in his Liberty of Prophesying.] [2584] This letter was evidently written after both synods concerning the lapsed, of which mention was made above in Epistle liii.; but whether a long time or a short time after is uncertain, although the context indicates that it was written during a time of peace. [2585] [i.e., the decree of the synod, or council.] [2586] [See letter liv. p. 340, supra.] [2587] Luke iv. 56. [2588] [A marvellous relic of pagan ideas. A new-born babe, after its bath, makes no such impression upon civilized minds.] [2589] Tit. i. 15. [2590] Acts x. 28. [2591] [I cannot refrain from quoting a layman's beautiful lines on the death of his son: -"Pure from all stain save that o( human clay, Which Christ's atoning blood had washed away." George Canning, A.D. 1770-18277.] [2592] Oxford ed.: Ep. lxii. A. D. 253. [2593] It is probable that this captivity was the work of those barbarians against whom Decius went to war and was killed. [2594] 1 Cor. xii. 26. [2595] 2 Cor. xi. 29. [2596] 1 Cor. iii. 16. [2597] Gal. iii. 27. [2598] Matt. xxv. 36. [2599] [Primitive Christians were grateful for opportunities to distribute gifts. Rom. xii. 13.] [2600] [An immense contribution, for the times. In our money reckoned (for temp. Decii) at $3,757. For the Augustan age it would be $4,294. The text (sestertia) dubious. Ed. Paris. [2601] [The diptychsare here referred to; that is, lists (read at the Eucharist) in which benefactors, living or dead, were gratefully remembered. Anglice, "beadroll."] [2602] Oxford ed.: Ep. ii. CircaA.D. 249. [2603] [In the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican, to the disgrace of the pontifical court, the fine music is obtained by recourse to this expedient, inflicted upon children.]

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