Edited with Notes Gathered from the Writings of the Greatest Scholars
by Henry R. Percival, M.A., D.D.
Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.
Council of Constantinople held under Nectarius.a.d. 394.
Extracts from the Acts.
Ancient Epitome and Notes.
Introductory Note.The acts of this Council are found in Balsamon, page 761 of the Paris edition, with Hervetus's translation. Labbe  has taken Balsamon's text and inserted it into his Collection, from which the following translation is made. There is another version extant in Leunclavius, Jus Græco-Roman. p. 247.
On September the twenty-ninth of the year 394, a magnificent church, dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul, built by the munificence of Rufinus the Prætoreal prefect, and situated at a place called "the Oaks," a suburb of Chalcedon, was consecrated. Most scholars have adopted Tillemont's suggestion that this was the occasion which brought the patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch to Constantinople, and that occasion was taken advantage of to hold a synod with regard to the dispute as to the see of Bostra. At this council, in accordance with the canon of the Second Ecumenical Council, adopted only a dozen years before, Constantinople took the first place and its bishop presided, but so strong was the hold of Alexandria that three centuries afterwards the Quinisext Synod speaks of this council as held "under Nectarius and Theophilus." In passing it may not be amiss to remark that St. Gregory of Nyssa and Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Flavian were present at this council! Well may Tillemont  exclaim, "It is remarkable to see Theophilus there with Flavian, although they were not in communion with each other."
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(Found in Beveridge, Synodicon. Tom. I., p. 678; Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. II., col. 1151. Both taken from Balsamon.)
In the consulate of our most religious and beloved-of-God Emperors, Flavius Arcadius Augustus, for the third time, and Honorius for the second time, on the third day before the calends of October, in the baptistery of the most holy church of Constantinople, when the most holy bishops had taken their seats [here follow the names], Nectarius, the bishop of Constantinople, said: Since by the grace of God this synod has met in this holy place, if the synod of my holy brethren and fellow ministers in holy things thinks good, since I see our brothers Bagadius and Agapius, who contend between themselves about the bishopric of Bostra, are also present, let these begin to set forth their mutual rights. And after some things had been done by them for the sake of this cause, and it had been shewn that the afore-named Bagadius was deposed by only two bishops, both of whom were dead, Arabianus, bishop of Ancyra, said: Not on account of this judgment, but fearing henceforth for my whole life, I desire the holy Synod to make a decree, whether or no, a bishop can be deposed by only two bishops, and whether the Metropolitan is absent or not, without prejudice to the present cause. For I fear that some, taking their power from these acts, may dare to attempt such things. I wish therefore your response.
Nectarius, the bishop of Constantinople, said: The most religious bishop Arabianus hath spoken most laudably. But since it is impossible to go backward in judgment, let us, without condemning that which is past, establish things for the future. Arabianus, bishop of Ancyra, said: The synod of blessed fathers who met at Nice condemns what has taken place, for it orders that not less than three shall ordain, nor even so without the metropolitan. But of the future I, full of fear, have made this question. I would wish therefore that you would say clearly and without delay or doubt, that a bishop could not, according to the decree of the Synod of Nice, lawfully be ordained or deposed by two men.
And, after some further debate, Theophilus, the bishop of Alexandria, said: Against those who have gone forth, no sentence of indignation can be pronounced, since those to be condemned were not present. But if any one were to consider those who are to be deposed in future, it seems to me that not only these ought to assemble, but so far as possible all the other provincials, that by the sentence of many there may be rendered a more accurate condemnation of him who is present and is being judged, and who deserves deposition. Nectarius, the bishop of Constantinople, said: Since, the controversy is concerning legitimate institutions and decrees, it follows that nothing must be decreed on account of personal causes. Wherefore as the most holy bishop Arabianus has said, wishing to make the future certain, the sentence of the most holy bishop Theophilus hath consistently and considerately decreed that for the future it shall be lawful not even for three, far less for two bishops to depose him who is examined as a defendant: but by the sentence of the greater synod and of the bishops of the province, according to the Apostolic Canons. Flavian, the bishop of Antioch, said: What things the most holy bishop Nectarius, and the most holy bishop Theophilus have set forth are clearly right. And all the ecclesiastics agreed with these.
In future when a defendant is examined, he ought not to be deposed by two or three bishops: but by the sentence of the greater Synod and of his own provincials, as also the Apostolic Canons provide.
As Bagadius, the bishop of Bostra, had been deposed by only two bishops, the matter was considered in the synod at Constantinople, whether that deposition had been rightly decreed. Agapius, the elect, laying claim to it under the decision. And it was decreed that the deposition was not canonical, since not two but a number should judge of those accusations which are made against bishops. But know that this constitution has no force to-day, for by the twelfth canon of the synod of Carthage, which is much later, crimes charged against bishops are to be judged of by twelve bishops. Read that canon, and know that this synod was held in the time of the Emperor Arcadius, while that of Carthage was in the days of Theodosius the younger.
Zonaras explains that by the words "have gone forth" in the speech of Theophilus of Alexandria is to be understood have died.
The remains of the Acts.
Notes, with St. Cyprian's Epistle to Januarius, et al.
Zonaras remarks: "This is the most ancient of all the synods. For that which was held at Antioch in Syria concerning Paul of Samosata was more ancient than the others, being holden in the time of the Roman Emperor Aurelius, but this one is still earlier. For the great Cyprian finished his martyr course in the time of the Emperor Decius: but there was a long interval between Aurelian and Decius. For many emperors reigned after the death of Decius, to whom at last Aurelian succeeded on the throne. Therefore this is by far the most ancient of all synods. In it moreover above eighty-four bishops were gathered together, and considered the question as to what was to be done about the baptism of those who came to the Church after abandoning their heresies, and of schismatics who returned to the Church."
(Found in Beveridge, Synodicon, Tom. I., p. 365, and in Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. I., col. 786.)
When very many bishops were met together at Carthage on the Calends of September from the province of Africa, Numidia and Mauritania, with the presbyters and deacons (the greater part of the people being likewise present) and when the holy letters of Jubaianus to Cyprian had been read, and Cyprian's answers to Jubaianus, concerning heretical baptisms, as well as what the same Jubaianus afterwards wrote to Cyprian,
Cyprian said: Ye have heard, my dearly beloved colleagues, what our fellow bishop Jubaianus has written to me, taking counsel of my littleness concerning the illicit and profane baptisms of heretics, and the answer which I made him; being of the same opinion as we have been on former occasions, that heretics coming to the Church should be baptized and sanctified with the Church's baptism. Moreover there has been read to you also the other letter of Jubaianus, in which answering for his sincere and pious devotion to our letter, not only he agrees therewith but offered thanks that he has been so instructed by it. It only remains therefore that we, each one of us, one by one, say what our mind is in this matter, without condemning any one or removing any one from the right of communion who does not agree with us.
For no one [of us  ] has set himself up [to be] bishop [of bishops],  or attempted with tyrannical dread to force his colleagues to obedience to him, since every bishop has, for the license of liberty and power, his own will, and as he cannot be judged by another, so neither can he judge another. But we await the judgment of our universal Lord, our Lord Jesus Christ, who one and alone hath the power, both of advancing us in the governance of his Church, and of judging of our actions [in that position].
[The bishops then one by one declared against heretical baptism.  Last of all (col. 796)]:
Cyprian, the Confessor and Martyr of Carthage, said: The letter which was written to Jubaianus, my colleague, most fully set forth my opinion, that heretics who, according to the evangelical and apostolic witness, are called adversaries of Christ's and anti-Christs, when they come to the Church, should be baptized with the one (unico) baptism of the Church, that they may become instead of adversaries friends, and Christians instead of Antichrists.
These are the opinions therefore of the fathers, which assembled in council with the great Cyprian: but they do not apply to all heretics nor to all schismatics. For the Second Ecumenical Council, as we have just said [i.e. in the Preface he has placed to the acts of the synod. Vide L. and C., Conc., Tom. i., col. 801] makes an exception of some heretics, and give its sanction to their reception without baptism, only requiring their anointing with the holy chrism, and then anathematizing at the same time their own and all heresies.
Balsamon does not print the acts of the Council at all but only the letter of St. Cyprian (Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. I., col. 799.) I have not thought it worth while to place here the remarks of the eighty-six bishops, hos me anankaiai, hoia mede energousai, to quote Zonaras's words.
The allusion here is to the decree of Stephen, who was wont, according to the custom of his elders, to be styled "Bishop of bishops," and because he had acrimoniously threatened excommunication to all not agreeing with him.
On the disputed historical fact as to whether St. Cyprian died in or out of the communion of the See of Rome the reader will do well to consult Puller, The Primitive Saints and the See of Rome.
I place here St. Cyprian's Seventieth Epistle in the Oxford Translation (Epistle of St. Cyprian, pp. 232 et seqq.). This letter is addressed to Januarius, Satterninus, etc., and is headed in Beveridge's Synodicon "Canon I."
When we were together in council, dearest brethren, we read the letter which you addressed to us respecting those who are thought to be baptized by heretics and schismatics, whether, when they come to the one true Catholic Church, they ought to be baptized. Wherein, although ye yourselves also hold the Catholic rule in its truth and fixedness, yet since, out of our mutual affection, ye have thought good to consult us, we deliver not our sentence as though new but, by a kindred harmony, we unite with you in that long since settled by our predecessors, and observed by us; thinking, namely, and holding for certain, that no one can be baptized without the Church, in that there is one Baptism appointed in the holy Church, and it is written, the Lord himself speaking, "They have forsaken me, the Fountain of living water, and hewed them out broken cisterns that can hold no water." Again, holy Scripture admonishes us, and says, "Keep thee from the strange water, and drink not from a fountain of strange water." The water then must first be cleansed and sanctified by the priest, that it may be able, by Baptism therein, to wash away the sins of the baptized, for the Lord says by the prophet Ezekiel, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be cleansed from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you; a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you." But how can he cleanse and sanctify the water, who is himself unclean, and with whom the Spirit is not? whereas the Lord says in Numbers, "And whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean." Or how can he that baptizeth give remission of sins to another, who cannot himself free himself from his own sins, out of the Church?
Moreover, the very interrogatory which is put in Baptism, is a witness of the truth. For when we say, "Dost thou believe in eternal life, and remission of sins through the holy Church?" we mean, that remission of sins is not given, except in the Church; but that, with heretics, where the Church is not, sins cannot be remitted. They, therefore, who claim that heretics can baptize, let them either change the interrogatory, or maintain the truth; unless indeed they ascribe a Church also to those who they contend have Baptism.
Anointed also must he of necessity be, who is baptized, that having received the chrism--that is, unction, he may be the anointed of God, and have within him the grace of Christ. Moreover, it is the Eucharist through which the baptized are anointed, the oil sanctified on the altar. But he cannot sanctify the creature of oil, who has neither altar nor church. Whence neither can the spiritual unction be with heretics, since it is acknowledged that the oil cannot be sanctified nor the Eucharist celebrated among them. But we ought to know and remember that it is written, "Let not the oil of a sinner anoint my head;" which the Holy Ghost forewarned in the Psalms, lest any, quitting the track, and wandering out of the path of truth, be anointed by heretics and adversaries of Christ. Moreover, when baptized, what kind of prayer can a profane priest and a sinner offer? in that it is written, "God heareth not a sinner; but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth."
But who can give what himself hath not? or how can he perform spiritual acts, who hath himself lost the Holy Spirit? Wherefore he is to be baptized and received, who comes uninitiated to the Church, that within he may be hallowed through the holy; for it is written, "Be ye holy, for I am holy, saith the Lord." So that he who has been seduced into error and washed without should, in the true Baptism of the Church, put off this very thing also; that he, a man coming to God, while seeking for a priest, fell, through the deceit of error, upon one profane. But to acknowledge any case where they have baptized, is to approve the baptism of heretics and schismatics.
For neither can part of what they do be void and part avail. If he could baptize, he could also give the Holy Ghost. But if he cannot give the Holy Ghost because, being set without, he is not with the Holy Ghost, neither can he baptize any that cometh: for that there is both one Baptism, and one Holy Ghost, and one Church, founded by Christ the Lord upon Peter, through an original and principle of unity; so it results, that since all among them is void and false, nothing that they have done ought to be approved by us. For what can be ratified and confirmed by God, which they do whom the Lord calls his enemies and adversaries, propounding in his Gospel, "He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth." And the blessed Apostle John also, keeping the commandments and precepts of the Lord, has written in his Epistle, "Ye have heard that Antichrist shall come; even now are there many Antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us." Whence we, too, ought to infer and consider, whether they who are the adversaries of the Lord, and are called Antichrists, can give the grace of Christ. Wherefore we who are with the Lord, and who hold the unity of the Lord, and according to this vouchsafement administer his priesthood in the Church, ought to repudiate and reject and account as profane, whatever his adversaries and Antichrists do; and to those who, coming from error and wickedness, acknowledge the true faith of the one Church, we should impart the reality of unity and faith by all the sacraments of Divine grace.
We bid you, dearest brethren, ever heartily farewell.
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