Évêque de Barcelone (✝ 390)
Évêque de Barcelone et confesseur, ses écrits développent la doctrine évangélique et apostolique du Baptême, sacrement de la Foi qui fait participer l'homme à la victoire du Christ sur la mort.
À Barcelone en Catalogne, vers 390, saint Pacien, évêque. Exposant la foi, il déclarait : “Mon nom est: chrétien, et mon surnom: catholique”.
SAINT PACIEN, ÉVÊQUE DE BARCELONE, PERE DE L'EGLISE (390).
Saint Pacien, espagnol de naissance, évêque de Barcelone, naquit et mourut dans le 4ième siècle de l'Eglise : selon saint Jérôme [Patrologie Latine PL t.13 col.1051], il se rendit également recommandable par la pureté et la sainteté de sa vie, et par son éloquence, c'est-à-dire par la pureté et l'exactitude du discours et la beauté de l'esprit. Il avait été engagé dans le mariage avant son épiscopat, et avait un fils nommé Flavius Dexter, qui fut de si grande considération dans l'empire qu'on l'honora de la dignité de préfet du prétoire, et qui fut l'ami particulier de saint Jérôme. Il n'employa pas moins ses grands talents à combattre les hérésies que les vices. Nous en avons des preuves, surtout à l'égard des Novatiens, contre les erreurs desquels il écrivit quelques lettres à un homme qui était engagé dans leur secte. On nous en a conservé trois, qui non-seulement justifient le jugement avantageux que saint Jérôme faisait de lui, mais qui font voir encore combien il était attaché à la vérité de la doctrine reçue successivement dans toute l'Eglise depuis les Apôtres, par le canal d'une tradition pure et constante. C'est là qu'il apprend à tous les fidèles à se distinguer de toutes les sectes, en prenant, comme lui, "le nom de chrétien et le surnom de catholique", tandis que les hérétiques portent le nom de leurs chefs ou de leurs auteurs. Ce n'est pas seulement dans des écrits contre les Novatiens que notre Saint s'est rendu le défenseur de la pénitence : il n'a pas moins travaillé auprès des catholiques pour en établir la nécessité et les avantages. Dans un de ses exhortations qui nous est restée sur ce sujet, il reconnaît qu'il est quelquefois plus à propos de ne point parler de certains vices, que de les reprendre en les exposant au jour, parce qu'on apprend quelque fois le mal plutôt qu'on ne l'empêche, et qu'il y a des manières d'éteindre le feu qui ne servent qu'à le rallumer. Il se plaignait d'en avoir fait une fâcheuse expérience contre son intention, en publiant son petit livre "du Cerf". Il avait composé cet ouvrage contre une sorte de jeu profane appelé "le petit Cerf", qui était fort en usage dans la Gaule Narbonnaise et l'Aquitaine, et qui s'était introduit dans la Catalogne. Mais, au lieu du bon effet qu'il s'en était promis, il avait remarqué que son écrit n'avait servi qu'à exciter davantage la curiosité des personnes portées au mal, et qu'il fallait des remèdes plus sûrs, mais d'une vertu plus secrète, pour agir contre des désordres qui sont publics, et soutenus par une multitude. Ce petit traité "du Cerf" est du nombre des ouvrages de saint Pacien que nous avons perdus : et il ne nous reste, outre ceux dont nous avons parlé, qu'un discours du Baptême, adressé aux catéchumènes. Ce que valent de si précieux restes doit nous faire juger de la grandeur de la perte que nous avons faite. Outre l'élégance du style, qui était très-rare en son siècle, et plus encore dans les suivants, on y trouve une justesse fort grande dans ses pensées, beaucoup de solidité dans ses raisonnements, du tour, de la vivacité et de l'agrément dans sa manière d'écrire : qualités qui, se trouvant jointes à la pureté de la doctrine et des moeurs dans saint Pacien, l'ont fait regarder comme l'un des plus grands ornements de l'Eglise. Il mourtut dans une grande et heureuse vieillesse, sous le règne de Théodose l'ancien, vers l'an 390.
Saint Pacien de Barcelone (-v. 390), évêque
Homélie sur le baptême ; PL 13, 1092 (trad. bréviaire rev. ; cf SC 410, p.159)
Le péché d’Adam s’était communiqué à tout le genre humain, à tous ses enfants… Donc, il est nécessaire que la justice du Christ soit communiquée à tout le genre humain ; de même qu’Adam, par le péché, a fait perdre la vie à sa descendance, de même le Christ, par sa justice, donnera la vie à ses enfants (cf Rm 5,19s)…
À la fin des temps, le Christ a reçu de Marie une âme et notre chair. Cette chair, il est venu la sauver, il ne l’a pas abandonnée au séjour des morts (Ps 15,10), il l’a unie à son esprit et il l’a faite sienne. Ce sont là les noces du Seigneur, son union à une seule chair, afin que, selon « ce grand mystère », ils soient « deux en une seule chair : le Christ et l’Église » (Ep 5,31). Le peuple chrétien est né de ces noces, sur lesquelles est descendu l’Esprit du Seigneur. Ces semailles venues du ciel se sont aussitôt répandues dans la substance de nos âmes et s’y sont mélangées. Nous nous développons alors dans les entrailles de notre Mère et, en grandissant dans son sein, nous recevons la vie dans le Christ. C’est ce qui a fait dire à l’apôtre Paul : « Le premier Adam avait reçu la vie ; le dernier Adam est un être spirituel qui donne la vie » (1Co 15,45).
C’est ainsi que le Christ engendre des enfants dans l’Église par ses prêtres, comme le dit le même apôtre : « Dans le Christ, je vous ai engendrés » (1Co 4,15). Et c’est ainsi par l’Esprit de Dieu, le Christ fait naître l’homme nouveau formé dans le sein de sa Mère et mis au monde dans la fontaine baptismale, par les mains du prêtre, avec la foi pour témoin… Il faut donc croire que nous pouvons naître… et que c’est le Christ qui nous donne la vie. L’apôtre Jean le dit : « Tous ceux qui l’ont reçu, il leur a donné de pouvoir devenir enfants de Dieu » (Jn 1,12).
Saint Pacien de Barcelone (-v. 390), évêque
Homélie sur le baptême, 6 -7 ; PL 13, 1093 (trad. bréviaire)
« Il n’est pas le Dieu des morts, mais des vivants »
« De même que nous sommes à l’image de l’homme pétri de terre, de même nous serons à l’image de celui qui vient du ciel ; car, pétri de terre, le premier homme vient de la terre ; le deuxième homme, lui, vient du ciel. » Si nous agissons ainsi, mes bien-aimés, nous ne mourrons plus à l’avenir. Même si notre corps se dissout, nous vivrons dans le Christ, selon sa propre affirmation : « Celui qui croit en moi, même s’il meurt, vivra. » Nous sommes certains, sur le témoignage du Seigneur lui-même, qu’Abraham, Isaac, Jacob et tous les saints sont vivants. Car c’est à leur sujet que le Seigneur dit : « Tous sont vivants pour lui, car il n’est pas le Dieu des morts, mais des vivants. » Et l’apôtre Paul dit, en parlant de lui-même : « Pour moi, vivre, c’est le Christ, et mourir m’est un gain. J’ai le désir de m’en aller et d’être avec le Christ. » Et encore : « Tant que nous habitons dans ce corps, nous sommes en exil loin du Seigneur. En effet, nous cheminons dans la foi, nous ne voyons pas. » C’est là ce que nous croyons, frères bien-aimés. D’ailleurs : « Si nous avons mis notre espoir en ce monde seulement, nous sommes les plus à plaindre de tous les hommes. »
La vie en ce monde, comme vous le voyez vous-mêmes, est la même pour les animaux, les bêtes sauvages, les oiseaux, et pour nous-mêmes, et elle peut être plus longue pour eux. Mais ce qui est propre à l’homme, c’est ce que le Christ nous a donné par son Esprit, et qui est la vie sans fin, mais à condition que nous ne péchions plus…: « Le salaire du péché, c’est donc la mort ; le don de Dieu, c’est la vie éternelle par Jésus Christ notre Seigneur. »
(Références bibliques : 1Co 15,49.47; Jn 11,25; Ph 1,21.23; 2Co 5,6-7; 1Co 15,19; Rm 6,23)
SOURCE : http://gabriellaroma.unblog.fr/2009/11/21/saint-pacien-de-barcelone-il-nest-pas-le-dieu-des-morts-mais-des-vivants/
Pacian(us) of Barcelona B (RM)
Died in Barcelona, Spain, c. 390. Before being raised to the position of bishop of Barcelona in 365 (or 373), the well-born Saint Pacian was a married man. His son Dexter was high chamberlain to Emperor Theodosius, and praefectus-praetorio under Honorius. Pacian wrote much about ecclesiastical discipline. Although most of it is lost, Saint Jerome, who dedicated his catalogue of illustrious men to Pacian, extols his eloquence and learning, and more particularly the chastity and sanctity of his life. Pacian's Exhortation on penance is considered a classic. In the first of his three letters written to Sympronianus against Novatianism occurs the famous saying: "My name is Christian, my surname is Catholic." A sermon on Baptism also survives (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0309.shtml
Pacian(us) of Barcelona B (RM)
Died in Barcelona, Spain, c. 390. Before being raised to the position of bishop of Barcelona in 365 (or 373), the well-born Saint Pacian was a married man. His son Dexter was high chamberlain to Emperor Theodosius, and praefectus-praetorio under Honorius. Pacian wrote much about ecclesiastical discipline. Although most of it is lost, Saint Jerome, who dedicated his catalogue of illustrious men to Pacian, extols his eloquence and learning, and more particularly the chastity and sanctity of his life. Pacian's Exhortation on penance is considered a classic. In the first of his three letters written to Sympronianus against Novatianism occurs the famous saying: "My name is Christian, my surname is Catholic." A sermon on Baptism also survives (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0309.shtml
St. Pacian, Bishop of Barcelona, Confessor
HE was a great ornament of the church in the fourth century. He was illustrious by birth, and had been engaged in marriage in the world. His son Dexter was raised to the first dignities in the empire, being high chamberlain to the emperor Theodosius and præfectus-prætorio under Honorius. St. Pacian having renounced the world, was made bishop in 373. St. Jerom, who dedicated to him his Catalogue of illustrious men, extols his eloquence and learning, and more particularly the chastity and sanctity of his life. We have his Exortation to Penance, and three letters to Sympronianus, a Novatian nobleman, on Penance, and on the name of Catholic; also a sermon on Baptism. See St. Jerom, Catal. Vir. Illust. c. 106. p. 195. t. 4. Ceillier, t. 6. Tillem. t. 8.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
Appendix on the Writings of St. Pacian of Barcelona
WHEN he was made bishop of Barcelona, in 373, there lived in the neighbourhood of that city one Sympronian, a man of distinction, whom the bishop calls brother and lord, who was a Donatist, and also engaged in the heresy of the Novatians, who following the severity of the Montanists, denied penance and pardon for certain sins. He sent St. Pacian a letter by a servant, in which he censured the church for allowing repentance to all crimes, and for taking the title of Catholic. St. Pacian answers him in three learned letters.
In the first he sums up the principal heresies from Simon Magus to the Novatians, and asks Sympronian which he will choose to stand by: entreats him to examine the true church with docility and candour, laying aside all obstinacy, the enemy to truth. He says the name Catholic comes from God, and is necessary to distinguish the dove, the undivided virgin church from all sects, which are called from their particular founders. This name we learned from the holy doctors, confessors, and martyrs. “My name,” says he, “is Christian, my surname Catholic: the one distinguishes me, the other points me out to others.” “Christianus mibi nomen est; Catholicus vero cognomen: illud me nuncupat, istud ostendit; hoc probor, inde significor.” He says that no name can be more proper to express the church, which is all obedient to Christ, and one and the same through the whole world. “As to penance,” says he, “God grant it be necessary to none of the faithful; that none after baptism fall into the pit of death—but accuse not God’s mercy, who has provided a remedy even for those that are sick. Does the infernal serpent continually carry poison, and has not Christ a remedy? Does the devil kill, and cannot Christ relieve? Fear sin, but not repentance. Be ashamed to be in danger, not to be delivered out of it. Who will snatch a plank from one lost by shipwreck? Who will envy the healing of wounds?” He mentions the parables of the lost drachma, the lost sheep, the prodigal son, the Samaritan, and God’s threats, adding, “God would never threaten the impenitent, if he refused pardon. But you will say, only God can do this. It is true; but what he does by his priests, is his power. What is that he says to his apostles? Whatsoever you shall bind, &c. Mat. xvi. Why this, if it was not given to men to bind and to loosen? Is this given only to the apostles? Then it is only given to them to baptize, to give the Holy Ghost (in confirmation) to cleanse the sins of infidels, because all this was commanded to no other than to the apostles. If, therefore, the power of baptism and of chrism, (confirmation,) which are far greater gifts, descended from the apostles to bishops, the power of binding and loosing also came to them.” He concludes with these words: “I know, brother, this pardon of repentance is not promiscuously to be given to all, nor to be granted before the signs of the divine will, or perchance the last sickness; with great severity and strict scrutiny, after many groans, and shedding of tears; after the prayers of the whole church. But pardon is not denied to true repentance, that no one prevent or put by the judgment of Christ.” St. Pacian answers his reply by a second letter, that remedies seem often bitter, and says: “How can you be offended at my catalogue of heresies, unless you were a heretic? I congratulate with you for agreeing upon our name Catholic, which if you denied, the thing itself would cry out against you.” St. Pacian denies that St. Cyprian’s people were ever called Apostatics or Capitolins, or by any name but that of Catholics, which the Novatians, with all their ambition for it, could never obtain, nor ever be known but by the name of Novatians. He says, the emperors persecuted the Novatians of their own authority, not at the instigation of the church, “You say I am angry,” says he; “God forbid. I am like the bee which sometimes defends its honey with its sting.” He vindicates the martyr St. Cyprian, and denies that Novatian ever suffered for the faith; adding, that “if he had, he could not have been crowned, because he was out of the church, out of which no one can be a martyr. Etsi occisus, non tamen coronatus: quidni? Extra Ecclesiæ pacem, extra concordiam, extra eam matrem cujus portio debet esse, qui martyr est. Si charitatem non habeam, nibil sum. 1 Cor. xiii.” In his third letter he confutes the Novatian error: that the church could not forgive mortal sin after baptism. “Moses, Saint Paul, Christ, express tender charity for sinners; who then broached this doctrine? Novatian. But when? Immediately from Christ? No; almost three hundred years after him: since Decius’s reign. Had he any prophets to learn it from? any proof of his revelation? Had he the gift of tongues? did he prophesy? could he raise the dead? For he ought to have some of these to introduce a new gospel. Nay, St. Paul (Gal. i.) forbids a novelty in faith to be received from an angel. You will say, let us dispute our point. But I am secure; content with the succession and tradition of the church, with the communion of the ancient body. I have sought no arguments.” He asserts that the church is holy, and more than Sympronian had given it: but says it cannot perish by receiving sinners. The good have always lived amidst the wicked. It is the heretic who divides it, and tears it, which is Christ’s garment, asunder. The church is diffused over the whole world, and cannot be reduced to one little portion, or as it were chained to a part, as the Novatians, whose history he touches upon. Sympronian objected, that Catholic bishops remitted sin. St. Pacian answers: “Not I, but only God, who both blots out sin in baptism, and does not reject the tears of penitents. What I do is not in my own name, but in the Lord’s. Wherefore whether we baptize, or draw to penance, or give pardon to penitents, we do it by Christ’s authority. You must see whether Christ can do it, and did it,—Baptism is the sacrament of our Lord’s passion; the pardon of penitents is the merit of confession. All can obtain that, because it is the gratuitous gift of God; but this labour is but of a small number who rise after a fall, and recover by tears, and by destroying the flesh.” The saint shows the Novations encourage sin by throwing men into despair; whereas repentance heals and stops it. Christ does not die a second time indeed for the pardon of sinners, but he is a powerful advocate interceding still to his Father for sinners. Can he forsake those he redeemed at so dear a rate? Can the devil enslave, and Christ not absolve his servants? He alleges St. Peter denying Christ after he had been baptized, St. Thomas incredulous, even after the resurrection; yet pardoned by repentance. He answers his objections from scripture, and exhorts him to embrace the Catholic faith; for the true church cannot be confined to a few, nor be new. “If she began before you, if she believed before you, if she never left her foundation, and was never divorced from her body, she must be the spouse; it is the great and rich house of all. God did not purchase with his blood so small a portion, nor is Christ so poor. The church of God dilates its tabernacles from the rising to the setting of the sun.
Next to these three letters we have his excellent Parænesis, or exhortation to penance. In the first part he reduces the sins subjected to courses of severe public penance by the canons to three—idolatry, murder, and impurity; and shows the enormity of each. In the second he addresses himself to those sinners, who out of shame, or for fear of the penances to be enjoined, did not confess their crimes. He calls them shamefully timorous and bashful to do good, after having been bold and impudent to sin; and says: “And you do not tremble to touch the holy mysteries, and to thrust your defiled soul into the holy place, in the sight of the angels, and before God himself, as if you were innocent.” He mentions Oza slain for touching the ark, (2 Kings vi.) and the words of the apostle, (1 Cor. xi.) adding: “Do not you tremble when you hear, he shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord? One guilty of the blood of a man would not rest, and can he escape who has profaned the body of the Lord? What do you do by deceiving the priest, or hiding part of your load? I beseech you no longer to cover your wounded conscience. Rogo vos etiam pro periculo meo, per ilium Dominum quem occulta non fallunt, desinite vulneratam tegere conscientiam. Men sick are not backward to show their sores to physicians, and shall the sinner be afraid or ashamed to purchase eternal life by a momentary confusion? Will he draw back his wounds from the Lord, who is offering his hand to heal them? Peccator timebit? peccator erubescet perpetuam vitam præsenti pudore mercari? et offerenti manus Domino vulnera male tecta subducet?”
In his third part he speaks to those who confessed their sins entirely, but feared the severity of the penance. He compares these to dying men who should not have the courage to take a dose which would restore their health, and says, “This is to cry out, behold I am sick, I am wounded; but I will not be cured.” He deplores their delicacy, and proposes to them King David’s austere penance. He describes thus the life of a penitent: “He is to weep in the sight of the church, to go meanly clad, to mourn, to fast, to prostrate himself, to renounce the bath, and such delights: if invited to a banquet he he is to say, such things are for those who have not had the misfortune to have sinned; I have offended the Lord, and am in danger of perishing for ever—what have I to do with feasts? Ista felicibus: ego deliqui in Dominum, et periclitor in æternum perire: quo mihi epulas qui Dominum læsi? You must moreover sue for the prayers of the poor, of the widows, of the priests, prostrating yourself before them, and of the whole church; to do everything rather than to perish. Omnia prius tentare ne pereas.” He presses sinners to severe penance, for fear of hell, and paints a frightful image of it from the fires of Vesuvius and Ætna. His treatise or sermon on Baptism, is an instruction on original sin, and the effects of this sacrament, by which we are reborn, as by chrism, or confirmation we receive the Holy Ghost by the hands of the bishop. He adds a moving exhortation that, being delivered from sin, and having renounced the devil, we no more return to sin; such a relapse after baptism being much worse. “Hold therefore, strenuously,” says he, “what you have received, preserve it faithfully; sin no more; keep yourselves pure and spotless for the day of our Lord.” Besides these three books, he wrote one against the play of the stag, commended by St. Jerom, but now lost. The heathens had certain infamous diversions with a little stag at the beginning of every year, mentioned by St. Ambrose, (in ps. 141.) and by Nilus. (ep. 81.) It seems from the sermons, 129, 130, in the appendix to St. Augustine’s, (t. 5.) that it consisted of masquerades, dressed in the figures of wild beasts. Some Christians probably joined in them. St. Pacian’s seal dictated that book against it, but the effect it produced at that time, seemed chiefly to make many more curious and more eager to see that wicked play, as Saint Pacian himself says in the beginning of his exhortation to penance. The beauty of this holy doctor’s writings can only be discovered by reading them. His diction is elegant, his reasoning just and close, and his thoughts beautiful: he is full of unction, when he exhorts to virtue, and of strength when he attacks vice.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
The works of S. Pacian, which have been here subjoined, as they are kindred in subject, so may they be in some sort regarded as further fruits of the mind of S. Cyprian, whose writings S. Pacian quotes with reverence, and from whom he seems to have derived some of the texts he employs, his citations agreeing verbally also sometimes with S. Cyprian. Of his life all which is known is contained in the few words of S. Jerome, who dedicated his book de viris illustribus to his son Dexter, a Prefect of the Praetorium and his own friend 1, at whose suggestion it was written;
"Pacian, Bp. of Barcelona in the Pyrenees, of chastened 2 eloquence, eminent for his life as for his writings, wrote various works, of which is the Cervus and against the Novatians. He died lately in the reign of Theodosius, in extreme old age;" i. e. before A. 392. (in which, the 14th of Theod., S. Jerome wrote this book, Praef.) He was born then probably about 30 years after the martyrdom of S. Cyprian, was a younger |xxiii contemporary of Hosius, and through him joined on to the Council of Eliberis, and the restoration of discipline in the Spanish Church. His memory was kept with great affection at Barcelona on May 9, on which he is commemorated in the Martyrologium Romanum, in words taken from S. Jerome. It is of the good Providence of God, that, of the same father, works should have come down, vindicating the doctrine of the Church on penitence,----as a doctrine, against the heresy of Novatian,----practically, against the neglect of careless sinners. The Epistles to Sympronian and the exhortation to Penitence, combined, shew how compatible are tenderness to the sinner with a strict and, as it would now seem, severe doctrine of penitence; that not earnest calls to a self-avenging 3 and self-chastening penitence, but the denial of its fruits and of the power of the keys, is the essence of Novatianism. Well versed as S. Pacian was in the writings of S. Cyprian, who also insists on the same acts 4 of penitence, his language approaches more both in style and vividness of expostulation to that of Tertullian, whose work on penitence he claims, as having been written by him while a Catholic 5. It is hoped that from this very combination, his works might be useful in these days, in which, for want of that more frequent special application of the power of the keys, which our Church suggests, any mention of more earnest penitence is thought to partake of the hard and uncompassionating heresy of Novatian.
It remains to add, that for the Translation and the basis of the Index of S. Cyprian the Editors are indebted to the Rev. H. Carey, M.A. of'Worcester College; and for S. Pacian with the Index, to the Rev. C. H. Collyns, M.A. Student of Christ Church. For S. Cyprian the Benedictine text has been adopted, except in some few cases, (which have been noticed,) in which that of Bp. Fell seemed preferable. For S. Pacian the very valuable readings, noted in the margin of the Edition of Cardinal Aguirre, (Collect. Maxima Concil. Hisp. t. ii.) from a Vatican MS. of the ninth century, formerly |xxiv belonging to the Queen of Sweden, have been employed. Almost all its readings are improvements of the text; many places they clear up, in which before the meaning was altogether obscured. They are marked in the margin as V. or Vat. Some collations on the margin of the Edit. Par. 1538. Guillard. in the Bodleian, derived from a MS. in the Royal Library at Paris, (the source of which Dr. Bandinel kindly pointed out to the Editor,) have also been used. The MS. although a late one, in several places agrees with the Vatican MS. They are marked R. The Editions were also consulted for the Editor by Mr. Collyns. The collations of the Vat. MS. are wanting on the De Baptismo, but neither had the text the same difficulty.
E. B. P.
Ember Week after Whitsunday, 1844.
I. Ep. to Sympronian, of the Catholic Name 319
II-------------------------on Novatian's Letter 327
III ------------------------- against the Treatise of the Novatian 336
Exhortation to Penitence 364
On Baptism 378
Indices to S. Cyprian 385
Indices to S. Pacian 413
[Note that in the original volume the works of S.Pacian were only an appendix to the Epistles of S.Cyprian. Material relating to Cyprian only is omitted]
2. 24 "castigatae eloquentiae" Vat.; which Vallars also prefers ; others "castitate et eloquentia," which seems less probable, since he was married. Nor is the construction so fluent. Ver. castitate eloquentiae.
BISHOP OF BARCELONA.
BISHOP OF BARCELONA.
EPISTLES TO SYMPRONIAN,
EXHORTATION TO REPENTANCE,
EXHORTATION TO REPENTANCE,
OF THE CATHOLIC NAME.
[Translated by the Rev. C. H. Collyns, M.A., Student of Christ Church.]
Variety of heresies united in the Cataphrygians. 320 --- No one convinced against his will; truth not to be blamed if it fail. 321 --- Value and antiquity of the name Catholic. 322 --- Penitence, a necessary, though sad, remedy. 323 --- Exhortations to penitence in O. and N. T. after great sin. 324 --- If Apostles only could absolve, they only could baptize. 325 --- All Apostolic functions descended to Bishops, so none defined. 326 --- Caution in giving absolution; it precludes not Judgment of Christ. 327
Pacian to Sympronian his brother, greeting.
1. If it be not a carnal intention, my lord 1, but as I judge, a calling of the Spirit, that thou enquirest of us the faith of the Catholic verity, thou, before all, taldng thy rise as far as appears, from a streamlet at a distance, and not holding to the fountain and source of the principal Church, shouldest, in the first instance, have shewn what or how different are the opinions which thou followest. Thou shouldest unfold thyself as to what cause more particularly had loosened thee from the unity of our body. For those parts, for which a remedy is sought, should be laid bare. Whereas now (if I may so say) the bosom of correspondence being closed, we see not on what members more especially we have to bestow our care. For such are the heresies which have sprung forth from the Christian head, that of the mere names the roll would be immense. For to pass over the heretics of the Jews, Dositheus 2 the Samaritan, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees, it were long to enumerate how many grew up in the times of the Apostles, Simon Magus, and Menander, and Nicolaus, and others hidden by an inglorious fame. What again in later times were Ebion, and Apelles, and Marcion, and Valentinus, and Cerdon, and not long after them, the Cataphrygians, and Novatians, not to notice any recent swarms!
2. Whom then in my letters must I first refute? Wouldest thou the mere names of all, my paper will not contain them; |320 unless indeed by your writings every way condemnatory of penance you declare your agreement with the Phrygians. But, most illustrious Lord, so manifold and so diverse is the error of these very men, that in them we have not only to overthrow their peculiar fancies against penance, but to cut off the heads, as it were, of some Lernaean monster. And, in the first place, they rely on more founders than one, for I suppose Blastus 3 the Greek is of them; Theodotus 4 also and Praxeas 5 were once teachers of your party, themselves also Phrygians of some celebrity, who falsely say they are inspired of Leucius 6, boast that they are instructed by Proculus 7. Following Montanus, and Maximilla, and Priscilla, howmanifold controversies have they raised concerning the day of Easter, the Paraclete, Apostles, Prophets, and many other disputes, as this 8 also concerning the Catholic name, the pardon of penance.
3. Wherefore if we would discuss all these points, thou hadst need been present and teachable. But if on those points merely on which thou writest, my instruction should not be sufficiently full, yet as it is our duty to serve, in whatsoever way we can, those who solemnly adjure us 9, we now, for the sake of informing you, discourse 10 with thee summarily on those matters about which thou hast deigned to write to us. If thou wouldest have fuller knowledge on our side, thou must on thine declare thyself more unreservedly, lest by somewhat of obscurity in thy enquiries, thou leave us uncertain, whether thou art consulting or censuring.
4. Meanwhile (and this concerns our present correspondence 11) I would above all entreat thee not to borrow authority for error from this very fact that, as thou sayest, throughout the whole world no one has been found 12, who could convince or persuade thee contrary to what thou believest. For |321 although we be unskilled, most skilful is the Spirit of God, and if we are faithless, faithful is God, Who cannot deny Himself.13 Then, also, because it was not allowed the Priests of God to contend long with one who resisted 14. We, says the Apostle, have no such custom, neither the churches of God. After one admonition 15, as thou thyself knowest, the contentious is passed by. For who can persuade any of any thing against his will? Thine own fault was it therefore, brother, and not theirs, if no one convinced thce of what in itself is most excellent. For at this day too it is in thy power to despise our writings also, if thou hadst rather refute than approve them. Yet very many resisted both the Lord Himself, and the Apostles, nor could any ever be persuaded of the truth, unless he consented to it by his own religious feeling.16
5. Therefore, my Lord, neither have we written with that confidence, as though we could persuade thee, if thou resistest, but in that faith by which we would not deny thee an entrance to holy peace, if thou wiliest. Which peace if it be after thine own soul and heart2, there ought3 to be no contest about the name of Catholic. For if it is through God that our people obtain this name, no question is to be raised, when Divine authority is followed. If through man, you must discover when it was first taken. Then, if the name is good, no odium rests with it; if ill, it need not be envied. The Novatians, I hear, are called after Novatus or Novatian; yet it is the sect which I accuse in them, not the name: nor has any one objected their name to Montanus or the Phrygians.
6. But under the Apostles, you will say, no one was called Catholic. Be it thus. It shall have been so. Allow even that. When after the Apostles heresies had burst forth, and were striving under various names to tear piecemeal and divide the Dove and the Queen of God,17 did not the Apostolic people require a name of their own, whereby to mark the unity of the people that were uncorrupted, lest the error of some should rend limb by limb the undefiled virgin 18 of God? Was it not seemly that the chief head should be distinguished by its own peculiar appellation? Suppose, this very day, I entered a populous city. When I had found Marcionites, |322 Apollinarians, Cataphrygians, Novatians, and others of the kind who call themselves Christians, by what name should I recognise the congregation of my own people, unless it were named Catholic? Come tell me, who bestowed so many names on the other peoples? Why have so many cities, so many nations, each their own description? The man who asks the meaning of the Catholic Name, will he be ignorant himself of the cause of his own name if I shall enquire its origin? Whence was it delivered to me? Certainly that which has stood through so many ages was not borrowed from man. This name "Catholic" sounds not of Marcion, nor of Apelles, nor of Montanus, nor does it take heretics as its authors.
7. Many things 19 the Holy Spirit hath taught us, Whom God sent from Heaven to the Apostles as their Comforter and Guide. Many things reason teaches us, as Paul saith, and honesty, and, as he says, nature herself. 20 What! Is the authority of Apostolic men, of Primitive Priests, of the most blessed Martyr and Doctor Cyprian, of slight weight with us? Do we wish to teach the teacher? Are we wiser than he was, and are we puffed up by the spirit of the flesh against the man, whom his noble shedding of blood, and a crown of most glorious suffering, have set forth as a witness of the Eternal God? What thinkest thou of so many Priests on this same side, who throughout the whole world were compacted together in one bond of peace with this same Cyprian? What of so many aged Bishops, so many Martyrs, so many Confessors? Come say, if they were not sufficient authorities for the use of this name, are we sufficient for its rejection? And shall the Fathers rather follow our authority, and the antiquity of Saints give way to be emended by us, and times now putrifying through their sins, pluck out the grey hairs of Apostolic age? And yet, my brother, be not troubled; Christian is my name, but Catholic my surname. The former gives me a name, the latter distinguishes me. By the one I am approved; by the other I am but marked.
8. And if at last we must give an account of the word Catholic, and draw it out from the Greek by a Latin interpretation, "Catholic" is 'every where one 21,' or, (as learned men 22 think,) "obedience in all," i. e. all the commands of |323 God. Whence the Apostle, Whether ye he obedient in all things;23 and again, For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous. 24 Therefore he who is a Catholic, the same man is obedient 25. He who is obedient, the same is a Christian, and thus the Catholic is a Christian. Wherefore our people when named Catholic are separated by this appellation from the heretical name. But if also the word Catholic means 'every where one,' as those first think, David indicates this very thing, when he saith, The queen did stand in a vesture of gold, wrought about with, divers colours; 26 that is, one amidst all. And in the Song of Songs the Bridegroom speaketh these words, My dove, My undefiled, is but one; she is the only one of her mother; she is the choice one of her that bare her.27 Again it is written, The virgins shall be brought unto the King after her. And further, Virgins without number.28 Therefore amidst all she is one, and one over all. If thou askest the reason of the name, it is evident.
9. But as to penance 29, God grant that it may be necessary for none of the faithful; that no one after the help of the sacred font may fall into the pit of death, and that Priests may not be compelled to inculcate or to teach its tardy consolations, lest, whilst by remedies they soothe the sinner, they open a road to sin. But we lay open this indulgence of our God to the miserable, not to the happy; not before sin, but after sins; nor do we announce a medicine to the whole, but to the sick. If spiritual wickednesses have no power over the baptized, none, that fraud of the serpent, which subverted the first man, which hath printed on his posterity so many marks of condemnation: if it hath retired from the world, if we have already begun to reign, if no crime steals over our eyes, none over our hands, none over our minds, then let this gift of God be cast aside, this help rejected; be no confession, no groans, heard; let a proud righteousness despise every remedy.
10. But if the Lord Himself 30 hath provided these things for His own creature man, if the same Lord Who hath bestowed remedies on the fallen, hath given rewards to them that stand, cease to accuse the Divine goodness, to erase by |324 the interposition of your own rigour so many inscriptions of heavenly mercy, or by inexorable harshness to prohibit the gratuitous good gifts of the Lord. This is not a largess from our own bounty. Turn ye, saith the Lord, even to Me, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart;31 and again, Let the wicked man leave his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts 32, and turn unto the Lord, and he shall obtain mercy.33 And also after this manner crieth the Prophet, For He is gracious, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil.34 Hath the serpent so lasting a poison, and hath not Christ a remedy? Doth the Devil kill in the world, and hath Christ no power here to help? Be we indeed ashamed to sin, but not ashamed to repent. Be we ashamed to hazard ourselves, but not ashamed to be delivered. Who will snatch the plank 35 from the shipwrecked, that he escape not? Who will grudge the curing of a wound? Doth not David say, Every night I will wash my bed, I will water my couch with my tears; and again, I acknowledge my sin, and mine unrighteousness have I not hid; and yet more, I said, I will confess my sins unto the Lord, and so Thou forgavest the wickedness of my heart.36 Did not the Prophet answer him 37 when, after the guilt of murder and adultery, penitent for Bathsheba, The Lord also hath put away from thee thy sin? 38 Did not confession deliver the king of Babylon, when condemned after so many sins of idolatry? And what is it that the Lord saith, Shall he who has fallen not arise, and he who has turned not return? 39 What answer give the subjects of those many parables of our Lord? That the woman findeth the coin, and rejoiceth when she hath found it? That the shepherd carrieth back the wandering sheep? That when the son was returning, all his goods wasted in riotous living 40 with harlots and fornicators, the Father with kindness met him, and, assigning the grounds, chideth the , envious brother, saying, This My son was dead, and is alive again, was lost, and is found.41 What of him who was wounded in the way, whom Levite and Priest passed by? Is he not taken care of? |325
11. Ponder what the Spirit saith to the Churches.42 The Ephesians He accuses of having forsaken their love; to them of Thyatira He imputeth fornication; the people of Sardis He blameth as loitering in the work; those of Pergamus as teaching things contrary; of the Laodiceans He brandeth the riches; and yet He calleth all to penance and to satisfaction. What meaneth the Apostle, when he writeth to the Corinthians thus, Lest, when I come, I bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness, and fornication, and lasciviousness, which they have committed? 43 What, when again to the Galatians, If a man be overtaken in a fault, (i. e. any whatever,) ye who are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 44 Does then the master of the family in a large house guard only the silver and golden vessels? Does he not deign to guard both the earthen and the wooden, and some that are put together and repaired? Now I rejoice, saith the Apostle, that ye sorrowed to repentance; and again, for godly sorrow worketh repentance unto enduring salvation.45 But penitence, you say, was not allowed. No one enjoins a fruitless labour, For the labourer is worthy of his hire.46 Never would God threaten the impenitent, unless He would pardon the penitent 47. This, you will say, God alone can do. It is true. But that also which He does through His Priests, is His own authority. Else what is that which He saith to the Apostles, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven? 48 Why said He this, if it was not lawful for men to bind and loose? Is this allowed to Apostles only? Then to them also only is it allowed to baptize, and to them only to give the Holy Spirit, and to them only to cleanse the sins of the nations; for all this was enjoined on none others but Apostles.
12. But if both the loosening of bonds and the power of the Sacrament are given in one place, either the whole has been derived to us from the Apostolic form and authority, or else not even this relaxation has been made from the decree. I, he saith, have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.49 This, therefore, we build up, which the doctrine of |326 the Apostles laid as the foundation. And, lastly, Bishops also are named Apostles, as saith Paul of Epaphroditus, My brother and fellow-soldier; but your Apostle.50
13. If, therefore, the power of the Laver, and of the Anointing, gifts 51 far greater, descended thence to Bishops, then the right of binding and of loosing was with them. Which although for our sins it be presumptuous in us to claim, yet God, Who hath granted unto Bishops the name even of His only Beloved, will not deny it unto them, as if holy and sitting in the chair of the Apostles.
14. I would write more, brother, were I not pressed by the hasty return of the servant, and were I not reserving a fuller account for thee when either present, or making confession of thy whole purport. Let no one despise the Bishop on consideration of the man. Let us remember that the Apostle Peter hath named our Lord, Bishop. But are now, he saith, returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.52 What shall be denied to the Bishop, in whom operateth the Name of God? He shall indeed give an account, if he have done any thing wrong, or if he shall have judged corrupt and unrighteous judgment. Nor is God's Judgment forestalled, but that He may undo the work of a wicked builder. In the mean while, if that his ministration be holy, he abideth as an helper in the work of God. See the Apostle writeth to Laity: To whom, ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.53 But if what the Laity forgive, the Apostle saith that he hath forgiven, what a Bishop hath done, in what character can it be rejected? Therefore neither the Anointing, nor Baptism, nor remission of sins, nor the renewing of the Body, were granted to his sacred authority, because nothing was entrusted to him as assumed by himself, but the whole has descended in a stream from the Apostolic privilege.
15. Know 54, brother, that not indiscriminately to all is this very pardon through penance granted; nor until there shall have been either some indication of the Divine will, or perchance some visitation, may men be loosed; that with |327 careful pondering and much balancing, after many groans and much shedding of tears, after the prayers of the whole Church, pardon is in such wise not refused to true penitence, as that no one thereby prejudgeth the future Judgment of Christ. If, brother, thou wouldest write thy sentiments more openly, thou shalt be more fully instructed.
[Marginal numbered notes, references, and footnotes all moved to the end and renumbered]
1. 1 Domine
2. a He was one of the "false Christs" shortly after our Lord's Coming. See Orig. c. Cels. i. 57. in Matt. Comm. Lat. §. 33. ed. de la Rue al. Tr. 27. in Joan. tom. 13. §. 27.
3. b He separated from the Church as a Quarto-deciman, whence S. Irenaeus wrote to him as a schismatic, (Eus. H. E. v. 20.) he, however, seems to have so done as judaizing, (Tert. adv. omn. haer. c. 8.) S. Epiphanius mentions Quarto-decimans as an off-shoot of Montanists. Haer. 50. c. 1. see Tillemont, t. 2. Art. Montanistes c. 15.
4. c who first denied our Lord in persecution, then His Divinity. Tert. L. c. Some then of the Montanists became nakedly Humanitarians, as others (note d.) Sabellians.
5. d One section of the Cataphrygians, named from one Aeschines, (kata Aeschinem,) said that Christ was both the Son and the Father. Tert. ib. c. 8.
7. f from whom one division of the Montanists was called kata Proclum, (Tert. 1. c.) and who held a disputation with Caius at Rome in the time of Zephyrinus. Eus. H. E. vi. 20.
CONCERNING NOVATIAN'S LETTER.
[Translated by the Rev. C. H. Collyns, M.A., Student of Christ Church.]
Novatians claimed to be called Christians only, not Catholics; cannot get rid of their human name; or affix any on the Catholics. Sympronian's captious criticism; all language God's gift. The civil power may punish misbelievers, if with good end. Novatians not persecuted, yet dwindle. Contrast of S. Cyprian and Novatian. Nov. no martyr, nor would suffering out of the Church make one. Pride of Novatian; humility is innocence.
Pacian the Bishop to Sympronian his brother, greeting.
1. On a prolix question I will, as far as I can, seek brevity. Nor will I, brother, make thee any return of evil, although, under plea of fair questioning, casting and directing at me hidden arrows in thy speech, of thine own framing. We are bidden to pray for those that persecute us, and to bless those who curse us.1 Deceit belongeth as it were to the fox, violence 2 to the lion. Either is most alien from the nature of man, but deceit is deservedly the most odious. For whereas thou deemest thou art best informed 3, thou questionest as if ignorant; when thou thinkest that thou art teaching, thou pretendest to be taught. The Pharisees of old were wont to call the Lord, Rabbi, when they were setting before Him ambiguous questions 4 of the law; they entitled Him Master, when they would claim all mastery for themselves. But do what thou wilt, brother, thou shalt hear all in return from me without guile. I had rather be thought unskilful, than malicious. I. had rather be judged foolish, than crafty.
2. Wherefore, before I assign the grounds of our faith, (about which thou art anxious,) hear a few words on your letter, which you put as a front 5 to your treatise. You say that you were refreshed by our former Epistle, and then straightway add that my answer was couched in bitter terms. If bitter things refresh, I know not what would be the effect |328 of sweet; unless it be that, as in a draught of medicine, what is bitter is wont to cure more than what is sweet. But, I beg, look again 6 at my letters and see whether they are at all sprinkled with gall; what there was haughty, what unsweet in my answer. Thou sayest that I named many heresies, about which no one enquired. Well, how did this affect thee, if thou wert not an heretic? You raised a question concerning our faith, and said that you wished for instruction; I wrote that the causes of ignorance were manifold, in order that you might shew which one especially had influence on you, to save perplexity in opening a large number.
3. On the name Catholic I answered fully and with calmness. For I said, that it mattered to neither, what the other was called. And if you demanded the meaning of the name, I said that, whatever it might be 7, it was wonderful, whether it was 'one in all,' or 'one over all,' or (an interpretation which I have not mentioned before,) 'the king's son,' that is, 'the Christian people.' Certainly too that was no accessory name which endured through so many ages. And indeed I am glad for thee that although thou mayest have preferred others, yet thou agreest that the name attaches to us. What, should you deny? Nature would cry out. But and if you still have doubts, let us hold our peace. We will both be that which we shall be named, witness the antiquity of the name. If, however, thou perseverest in asking, beware lest that man of might exclaim, Why askest thou thus after My Name, seeing it is wonderful? 8 I next added, that we need not consider, whence Catholics, derived this name, because neither was it wont to be any imputation against the Valentinians, if they were called after Valentinus, nor the Phrygians, if from Phrygia, nor the Novatians, if after Novatian. At this you are grievously excited, and rouse yourself as if pierced with a sting. For in your wrath you thus exclaim, 'Is it ever any objection to that holy man Cyprian, that his people bear the name of Apostaticum, Capitolinum 9, or Synedrium? Thou revilest, but lo! I am not moved. Have we been called by any of |329 these names? Ask a century, brother, and all its years in succession, whether this name has adhered to us; whether the people of Cyprian have been called other than Catholic? No one of these names have I ever heard. Consider now, if a man can be called by a name, which he knows not to have been given him. What then? These are taunts, not names, and taunts of the angry, taunts of the petulant. I too could call you by as many names as you will, were it lawful to be angry. Callest thou Cyprian holy, and his people apostatizing? How so? If the first-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches.10 Am I Apostate, or Novatus? I, I say, or Novatus who forsook his father, abandoned the Church, and caused his wife to miscarry 11? Am I Apostate, or Novatian, whom a letter in his absence made a feigned Bishop 12, whom the Episcopal seat 13 received without consecration from any? But of these points hereafter. In the mean time, tell me yourselves what ye are called. Do ye deny that the Novatians are called frorm Novatian? Impose on them 14 whatever name you like; that will ever adhere to them. Search, if it please you, whole annals, and trust so many ages. You will answer, "Christian." But if I enquire the genus of the sect, you will not deny that it is Novatian. And yet it is not the name of thy Novatian which I censure, and which, so often sought after, thou cnvelopest in lines of circumlocution, and, if I may so speak, in closed bosom. Confess it without deceit. There is no wickedness in the name. Why, when so often enquired for, do you hide yourself? Why ashamed of the origin of your name? When you first wrote, I thought you a Cataphrygian. Dost thou 15 acknowledge it in thy second letter? Dost thou grudge me my name, and yet shun thine own? Think what there is of shame in a cause which shrinks from its own name.
5. But what is this thy criticism on which thou art so busy? As though I had applied to a Rhetorician, or had to |330 treat of a science, or to expound verses of Virgil? What then had I said? or what verses of Virgil was I expounding 16? Having named several heretics, I added, 'Et quos fama recondit obscura 17.' And whence thinkest thou this to be quoted from a verse of Virgil, if thou hadst no knowledge at all of Virgil? But I did not set down the verse in order, for I said, 'Quos fama recondit obscura,' just as, when speaking, we are accustomed, out of the abundance of human language, to say any thing which may have been said before. Whereas you requote the verse in its own order, in its rhythm. Hadst thou so much more love for Virgil, as to deem it sacrilege, to make any infringement on his verse? And yet I had learnt this of a little child. What wonder if I stumbled on that which I knew? Is there such a spirit of enterprise then, brother, that now at last thou readest those very things, which thou didst blush should once have been read by others? As well mayest thou accuse one, taught in Latin, for speaking Latin, as thou mightest a Greek for speaking Greek, a Parthian for speaking Parthian, a Carthaginian for speaking Punic. Medes, Egyptians, Hebrews, have each their own language, according to the abundance of the Lord, Who hath harmonized language into an hundred and twenty 18 tongues. A Bishop quote a verse from a Poet! What? Does the Apostle Paul blush, when he hath both quoted and approved of that Athenian verse? For in the Acts of the , Apostles he putteth it thus, As certain also of your own poets have said, For we are His offspring. Since then we are the offspring of God. 19 And again, to Titus he said, One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.20 And he added, This witness is true.21 So we have authority for our error. Nor are we Rhetoricians, but whatever word we use, we believe it to be the rich gift of God. Latium, Egypt, Athens, Thracians, Arabians, Spaniards, acknowledge God. The Holy Spirit understandeth all languages. |331
7. But why do you say, 'I will smear thy letters with fresh oil of cedar, to protect them from the destructive enemies of the Muses?' What Muses, I pray you? Those who invented letters, and wrote the sheets which are the prey of moths? Tell me, I pray then, brother, did the Muses invent letters? Are not all things through The Lord, and all from God? Besides those hundred and twenty tongues, was there yet another of the Muses? That idea was falsely devised by Hesiod on Helicon, but only to please the Athenians, who 22, the Apostle says, had no leisure but to talk.23 We (the Apostle is our witness) retain the measures of all words, and all kinds of language, as inspired by God. Yet I pardon you, brother, if you rely somewhat upon your own author, and if you join together the philosophy of Novatian, whereby he made shipwreck of religion, with the authority of Hesiod. But thou oughtest to have remembered the words of the Apostle, who saith, Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit.24
8. And now of what sort is that which you think is to be imputed to Catholics, "if at any time kings or governments have persecuted you?" 25 Then, on the other hand, ought it to be imputed to you, as often as Catholics have had to endure the wickedness and persecution of kings, and pagan princes have persecuted us. Have ye had to bear the odium attached to Christians? But we have had more reason to complain. Let him who did this, see to it with what intention, in what spirit he did it; to procure peace or discord. But and if some of them have erred, he saith, shall they make the faith of God without effect?26 And yet think not that there was any reason to complain of us. When through our Faith 27 princes had begun to be Christians, these very princes, favouring the Catholic, that is their own, side, were moved by their own sorrow; unless it is to be imputed to Daniel, that he was avenged by Darius: or to that most holy woman Esther, when for her a chief minister of the king is put to death: or to the three youths, because after they had made trial of the flames, the king of Babylon for their sakes threatens the wicked and unbelieving. Does not Peter put |332 Simon to confusion with the consent of the judge 28? Does not 29 Paul strike Elymas blind with the approval of Sergius? And even at Jerusalem he had been avenged, had he when in bonds had any confidence in them 30. Dost thou not know that authorities themselves are the servants of the innocent, and minister for good to the holy side 31? As saith the Apostle, Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shall have praise of the same through the Lord; for he is a minister of God to thee for good. 32
9. And yet I have complained of no one, I have been avenged on no one, nor do I think that the Novatians are any obstacle to me, in whose fewness and decrease, if I would, I might glory. See, no one accuses your people to the Emperor, and yet thou art alone 33. Nevertheless we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ,34 of which one thing I know the Novatians would complain, if their cause were acceptable to any princes.
10. "It profiteth more," you say, "to overcome than to please." But they who are led by a burning desire to overcome make their way by contention. Whereas the Apostle saith, But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the Churches of God.35 On the other hand, of the desire of pleasing he saith, I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own, profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.36 But ye, whilst ye are thinking of your own, not the profit of your brethren, had rather destroy by overcoming, than refresh by pleasing. To overcome evil with good, is the office of reason: but to wish for victory, in whatever cause it be, is the part of a mad presumption. This cometh from the law not of Apostles, but of Greeks, amongst whom it is found on record, that the whole spirit of the Lacedemonians was inflamed with a |333 desire of conquering. The filthy boar also, and the infuriated tigress, what else do they desire but to conquer, rather than to please?
11. "I have leisure," you write, and therefore art thou well pleased with contention. But to me, fully occupied in Catholic business, your letters were delivered after about thirty days; resumed, after forty more.
12. You say that I am angry. God forbid. I believe that I am roused; like the bee who sometimes defends her honey with her sting. But reconsider the letters on either side. You will soon see whether it be with stings or with flowers that we join issue on paper. The Apostle indeed speaks of some similar persons, whose mouths must be stopped 37. But listen, we engage with thee, as doves, with the mouth rather than with the teeth.
13. Oh! would it were true that thou sayest thou wouldest be taught! at once, with my own hands would I give thee the very anointing of the Holy Spirit. Dost thou love me? I have not harmed thee, this I know. But then couldest thou love me, if thou didst not hold things contrary; then wouldest thou approach my work with kindly feelings.
14. Dost thou marvel that the Epistles of Cyprian please me? And how should they not, the Epistles of a blessed Martyr and a Catholic Priest? Dost thou force Novatian upon me? I hear that he was a philosopher 38 of the world; it is not then much wonder to me that he fell away from the Church of the Living God. I know that he deserted the root of the ancient law, the fountain of the ancient people; envying Cornelius, lending himself to the phrenzy of Novatus, made Bishop without legitimate consecration, and therefore not even made, by the letter of those men, who pretended they were Confessors, who rent asunder the limbs of their one mother. These points, brother, I will prove to you in letters, by the confession of your own friends. Thus this philosopher of thine, seeking to establish his own wisdom,39 as the Apostle saith, was not made subject to the wisdom of God, since by its wisdom the world knoweth not 40 the wisdom |334 of God. For whereas thou supposest that Novatian suffered first, and subjoinest that Cyprian said, "My adversary hath preceded me 41," see how clear the answer I can make. Novatian never endured martyrdom; nor was that ever heard or read from the words of the most blessed Cyprian. Thou hast his Epistles in which he mentions 42 Cornelius Bishop of the City 43, of whom Novatian was then envious, as resisting the hostile princes, often a confessor, often harassed; as made the leader of many Confessors, of many Martyrs also, and as receiving a most glorious crown with many others, whilst Novatian was still alive, and even free from all anxiety. For he had left the Church of Christ for this very reason, that he might not have to bear the toils of Confessorship 44. First, stung by envy, he could not endure the Episcopate of Cornelius; then, with the mockery of those letters of a few, he had bound himself to Novatus. All this concerning Novatian you may learn from the letters of Cyprian.
15. But, moreover, although Novatian did endure some suffering, yet was he not also slain. And although he was slain, yet was he not crowned. Why not? He was without the peace of the Church, without the bounds of concord, without the pale of that mother, of whom he ought to be a part who is a Martyr. Hear the Apostle, And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.45 But Cyprian suffered, in concord with all, in the common peace of all, amid a company of Confessors; and, having often been a Confessor in reiterated persecutions, and harassed with many a torment, had at last given him to drink of the cup of salvation. This was to be crowned! Wherefore let Novatian have his Epistles to himself, to himself his haughtiness, to |335 himself his pride, by which, whilst he is lifted up on high, he is dashed down to pieces, whilst he spares no one, he is himself cast out.
16. Lo! the man, who by an inexorable religion closes the way of salvation against his brethren! Lo! the man, who is confident that he beareth the fan 46, and is purging the garner of the Lord! Take pity on thyself, brother Sympronian, lest Novatian deceive thee under this mask, as though he were therefore to be thought the more righteous, because he despised others in comparison of himself. Audacity often feigns itself confidence; and the false image of a good conscience flatters even desperate sinners. Whereas contrariwise all humility is innocence, even that of the debtor, even that of the sinner, even that which softeneth its soul with the sinner 47. Blot me, I pray Thee, says Moses, out of Thy book which Thou hast written;48 and this, that sinners might not perish. For I could wish, saith the Apostle, that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.49 Both then pray for sinners; and yet neither Moses nor Paul offend God on this account. Is Novatian better than they? a corrector of Prophets? a teacher of Apostles? Is he now seen with Christ, as was this same Moses?50 Is he now carried up, as was Paul, into the third heaven?51 Is he alone to be now heard, and all others neglected? This would have been a sufficient answer to return to your letter.
17. But as you argue to some extent against doing penance, or for doing it before Baptism; and have filled your page with many chapters of examples from his treatise, I will, though more than is called for, answer each point. I will not hold back the substance of the truer faith. And as thou hast deigned to enjoin on me to hear thee at great length, do thou in return afford a kind requital to our treatise. The Lord perhaps will vouchsafe, that we, who have patiently yielded ourselves to thy enquiries, may gather some fruit from thy patience also. The Lord vouchsafe to guard and protect thee for ever, and make thee to live a Christian and a Catholic, and to agree with us! Amen.
[Marginal numbered notes, references, and footnotes all moved to the end and renumbered]
1. Mat. 5, 44.
2. 1 autem om. V.
3. 2 nosse te for nocere V. It.
4. 3 aenigmata
5. k praetulisti, perhaps as a false front. [Tr.]
6. 1 repetas added V.
7. 2 esset added V.
8. Judg. 13, 18.
9. l intended, doubtless, to refer to the admission of the lapsed, who had sacrificed in the Capitol, see ab. on S. Cypr. Ep. 8. §. 2. p. 18. n. u.
10. Rom. 11, 16.
11. m see ab. S.Cypr. Ep. 52. §.3. p. 113.
12. n finxit. Novatian's consecration, although wholly irregular, does not appear to have the irregularity here seemingly ascribed to it. Yet S. Cyprian is thought to speak of the absence of consecration in terms equally strong (de Laps. §. 10. p. 138. Oxf. Tr. see Tillemont, H. E. t. 3. p. 350. note g. sur S. Corneille.
13. o linteata sedes. "used in investitures." Hoffm.
14. 1 illis added V. R.
15. 2 tune for tunc V.
16. p "disputandum! Quid ergo dixeram? aut quos Virgilii" inserted from Vat. after Virgilii, omitted through the
17. 1 Aen. v. 302.
18. q Coteler. (quoted by Galland.) on the Recogn. ii. 42. conjectures, that CXX has been substituted for lxx, according to the distribution of languages into lxxii, or lxxv. see his note, t. i. p. 513. and Abp. Potter on S. Clem. Al. Strom, i. p. 404. Else the number might have been taken from Acts 1, 15.
19. Acts 17, 28.
20. Tit. 1, 12.
21. ver. 16.
22. 1 ut om. V.
23. Acts 17, 21.
25. r regum et persecutionem Edd. impius et persecutiones V. impietatem Marg. regum imperiis R.
26. Rom. 3, 3.
27. s the Catholic Faith.
28. t Doubtless, Nero, who Philastrius (Haer. c. 29.) says was present, with which correspond the tales of Dio Chrys. Or, 21. and especially Sueton. (vi. 12. quoted by Baronius and Tillemont, H. E. S. Pierre Art. 34.) as to a juggler, who promised Nero to fly, and tell to the ground in his presence.
29. 1 non R.
30. u ''Vindicatus esset et Hierosolymis, si quid fidei ligatus habuisset.'' If it may thus be rendered, it may allude to Acts 25, 10. 11. and 26, 32. Could he have reposed confidence in Festus, he might have been set at liberty, through his civil privilege.
31. 2 partibus for patribus. V.
32. Rom. 13, 3. 4.
33. x the sect melting away of itself, without civil interference.
34. Rom. 14, 10.
35. 1 Cor. 11, 16.
36. 1 Cor. 10, 33.
37. y Tit. 1, 9. "indentare for e0pistomiIzein for which it is also used by Lucif. Calar. pro S. Ath. ii. 40." (Gall. B. P. vi. p. 195.) Gall.
38. z see on S. Cypr. Ep. 52. §. l.p. 111. n. m.
39. Rom. 10, 3.
40. 1 Cor.1, 21.
41. a A spurious account of a confession, or contest (a!qlhsij), also called a martyrdom, of Novatian is mentioned by Eulogius ap. Phot. Cod. 182. 208.280. The Novatians set much store by it; Eulogius says, that "it was of the extremest vulgarity in language, thought, and composition;" and a bad fiction (kako&plastoj). It consisted chiefly of a long and foolish dialogue between Novatian and a Ducenarian, and did not even pretend that N. "endured scourging, or suffering, or torment of any kind." Socrates' statement (iv. 28.) that he was martyred, as well as that of the text, seem derived from this, and are discredited by it, as it would doubtless give the most favourable account.
42. b Ep. 55. ad Anton. §. 6. 7. p 120. sqq.
43. 1 Rome
44. c see ab. p. 111. n. m.
45. 1 Cor. 13, 2. 3.
46. d palam ferre V. others, paleam auferre.
47. e quae animam suam cum peccatore blanditur.
48. Exod. 32, 82.
49. Rom. 9, 3.
50. Mat. 17, 3.
51. 2 Cor. 12.
AGAINST THE TREATISE OF THE NOVATIANS.
[Translated by the Rev. C. H. Collyns, M.A., Student of Christ Church.]
Pacian the Bishop to Sympronian his brother, greeting.
1. The whole treatise of the Novatians, which you have addressed to me thronged with propositions on all sides, amounts to this, brother Sympronian: That there is no room for repentance after Baptism; that the Church cannot remit mortal sin; that by the receiving of sinners she herself perishes. Illustrious honour! Singular authority! Great constancy! To reject the guilty; to flee the touch of sinners; to have so little confidence in her own innocence!
2. Who is the assertor of this doctrine, brother, Moses, or Paul, or Christ? But Moses wishes to be wiped out of the book for the sake of blasphemers; and Paul to be accursed for his brethren; and the Lord Himself willeth to suffer for the unrighteous. None of these, you will say. Who then, I ask? It was the ordinance of Novatian. Some spotless and pure man, I suppose, who was no follower of Novatus, who never deserted the Church, who was made Bishop by Bishops, who was consecrated according to the received rites, who obtained the Episcopal Chair in the Church when duly vacant? What is that to thee? thou wilt say. I answer, Novatian taught this doctrine. But, at least, when did he teach it, brother, or at what period? Immediately after the Passion of the Lord? After the reign of Decius, that is, nearly three hundred years after the Passion of the Lord. And what then did he? Did he follow Prophets, as the Cataphrygians? some Philumene 1, as Apelles? or received he himself so great authority? Spake he with tongues? Did he prophesy? Could he raise the dead? For some one of these powers he ought to have had who was to bring in a Gospel with new laws 2. Although the Apostle crieth even against this, Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. |337
3. Novatian, you will say, discerned this; but Christ taught it. Was there no one of discernment from the Advent of Christ even to the reign of Decius? Again, since Decius, has every Bishop been weary of his office ? all others relaxed men, choosing rather to join themselves with the lost, to perish with the miserable, to be wounded through the wounds of others? Novatian vindicateth, righteousness is set free; Novatian guideth, every error is corrected.
4. "But come," you will say, "let our conflict be carried on with examples, and let us contend with reasoning." But I so far am safe. Contented with the line of the Church itself, with the peace of the ancient congregation, I have learnt no desire of discord, I have sought no arguments for contest. Thou, having been separated from the rest of the body, and divided from thy mother, that thou mayest give account of thy deed, art an assiduous searcher into the inmost recesses of books; every thing which is hidden, you molest; and whatever is at rest, you disturb. Our Fathers, unrequired, entered into no dispute; our very unanxiousness sought no arms; every advance of your party is guarded. I then know not what Novatian did, of what Novatian was guilty, what the swelling pride of Evaristus, what the report of Nicostratus. Despising your weapons, I know them not; yet, beware, how thou engage with unarmed truth. Let us await, however, what thou mayest object, what thou hast to say. Will truth be able to hold its ground though unarmed, or innocence unskilled?
5. You set forth, and rightly indeed, that "the Church is a people born again of water and the Holy Spirit, free from denying the Name of Christ, the temple and house of God, the pillar and ground of the truth; a Holy Virgin of chastest feelings, the spouse of Christ, of His Bones and His Flesh, not having spot, or wrinkle, holding the laws of the Gospels entire." Who of us denies this? But we add moreover that: the Church is the queen in a vesture of gold, wrought about: with divers colours; the fruitful vine on the walls of the House of the Lord; the mother of virgins without number; |338 the one beautiful and perfect Dove, the chosen' of her mother, the very mother of all; built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone. A great house enriched with a diversity of every kind of vessel. But this of ours hereafter. Meanwhile, consider we those of yours.
6. "The Church is a people born again of water and the Holy Spirit" Well! say, who hath closed the fountain of God against me? Who hath taken the Holy Spirit from me? Yea, rather with us is the living water, the very water which springeth from Christ; but thou, separated from the everlasting Fountain, whence receivest thou thy birth? Nor hath the Holy Spirit departed from the chief mother; whence then came He to thee? Unless perchance He hath followed one that is in strife, and abandoning so many priests, nor pleased to abide in His consecrated dwelling-place, hath preferred the broken cisterns of an adulterated fountain? Whence have your people the Spirit, not having, been sealed by an anointed priest? Whence the water, being separated from its mother's womb? Whence renewal, who have lost the cradle of Bridal Peace?
7. 'The Church is a people free from denying the Name of Christ' Are there then no Confessors amongst us, no Martyrs, no untainted and spotless Priests, who have been proved by prisons, by chains, by fire, by the sword? " There were," thou wilt say, " but by receiving those who had denied, they perished." I do not mention, I do not infer even thisd, that your own Novatian, whilst he was still living in the Church, both wrote, and recommended, and read a book, on receiving those who had denied, or the lapsed. In the mean time, whom will you be able to persuade that by receiving the lapsed the whole Church hath perished? That by the admission of penitents, the people of those who admit them has been made a denier of the Faith? But even if the people here or there have been too lax, have the other peoples4 also who approved not of their deed, but followed custom and peace, lost the Christian name? Hear the voice of Jeremiah, In those days shall they not say, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are |339 set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity. Nor is the Lord silent by the mouth of Ezekiel, As the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is Mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die; and afterwards, The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him. You yourself bring forward this example; Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they only shall be delivered. See, they who are placed in the midst of sinners, who cannot deliver others, are themselves saved. Whereas thou bindest the whole world with the chains of a few; thou condemnest the whole Church for the infirmity of a small portion. What are all with you saints, whom Novatus trained, whom Evaristus chose, whom Nicostratus 3 taught, whom Novatian instructed? Hast thou escaped the thorns and briars? Hast thou no tares in thy corn? Is thy wheat already purged? Will He that purgeth come to thee without His fail? Shalt thou alone of all have no chaff? But come, proceed with the rest.
8. "The Church is the body of Christ." Truly, the body, not a member; the body composed of many parts and members knit in one, as saith the Apostle, For the body is not one member, but many. Therefore the Church is the full body, compacted and diffused now throughout the whole world; like a city, I mean, all1 whose parts are united, not as ye are, O Novatians, some small and insolent portion, and a mere swelling that has gathered, and separated from2 the rest of the body.
9. "The Church is the temple of God." Truly, an ample temple, a great house, having vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and earth, some unto honour; and many indeed of glorious fashion destined for the manifold uses of various works.
10. "The Church is a holy Virgin, of chastest feelings, the Spouse of Christ." "A Virgin," it is true, but a mother also. A " Spouse," it is clear, but also a wife and an helpmeet taken from her Husband, and therefore bone of His bones, and flesh of His flesh. For of her David saith, Thy |340 wife shall be as the fruitful vine upon the walls of thine house; thy children like the olive-branches round about thy table. Great, therefore, is the progeny of this Virgin, and without number her offspring, wherewith the whole world is filled, wherewith the populous swarm ever throngs the circumfluous hive. Great is the care of that mother for her children, and tender her affection. The good are honoured, the haughty are chastised, the sick are cared for, no one perishes, no one is despised, the young are kept safe under the indulgent protection of a mother.
11. "The Church is without spot or wrinkle," that is, without heresies, without Valentinus, without Cataphrygians, without Novatians. For in these are certain spotted and wrinkled folds, envious of the ornaments of the precious vesture. But the sinner and the penitent are not a spot on the Church, because, as long as he sinneth and repenteth not, he is put without the Church 4. When he ceases to sin, he is already whole. But the heretic rends, divides, spots, wrinkles, the garment of the Lord, the Church of Christ. For whereas there are schisms and contentions among you, saith the Apostle, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? and moreover, Their word will eat as doth a canker. This is the spot that defileth unity, this the wrinkle. Lastly, when the Apostle is speaking of these things, he is setting forth the love and affection of Christ. As Christ, he saith, loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might remove , that is, the heretics, because they know not how to love. But why is this, you will say, for the wretched penitent? Because he wisheth both to love and be loved.
12. "The Church is that which keepeth the laws of the Gospels entire." Truly "entire," because all, because fully |341 Where reward is given to the faithful, where tears are not denied to the wretched, where the weeping of them that ask is heard, where the wounded are bound up, where the sick are healed, where insolent health claimeth nothing for itself nor a proud righteousness, where charity endureth long solicitous for all, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things; (whence is that of the Apostle, Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?) where the whole brotherhood mourning together, beareth its own burdens, secure in mutual affection, all in turn bearing with one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This will be the Church, brother Sympronian; this will be the " people born again in Christ of water and the Holy Spirit."
13. "I know not," you say, "whether sin can be remitted by Bishops, since our Lord hath said, Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father Which is in heaven. Why then did your Novatian teach this, when a Priest, before he had falsely assumed the Episcopate, long before Cornelius was made Bishop of Rome, before he was envious of his priesthood? You have the evidence of Cyprian to this; Cyprian, whom not even ye have ever been able to defame. For in a certain place he writes to Antonianus after this manner 5; 'It was added, moreover, (Novatian being then the writer, and with his own voice reciting what he had written, and Moyses, then a Confessor, now a Martyr, subscribing,) that peace should be given to the lapsed when sick, and in extremities; which Epistle was sent throughout the world, and brought to the knowledge of all the Churches.' What sayest thou, brother Sympronian? Novatian wrote this, and, that he might add the assent of his entire will, recited it also when written. His right hand is witness; witness the hand which wrote; witness the tongue which read. As yet Cornelius, on account of whom all this envy of yours burst forth, was not Bishop. Long subsequent to this, with very many brother Bishops, with very many Confessors, and forthwith Martyrs, as the same Cyprian writes, he agreed in the decision of the elders, that peace might be given. If the approach to penance is to |342 be refused, Novatian is involved in the guilt, who wrote, recommended, and recited this. Where then was this impatient rigour? Where then this unrelenting censorship? Had no one preferred Cornelius to you, that authority of Novatian so writing had remained.
14. Now this whole judgment displeaseth, now are arrows shot at us, and these very men furnish them, by whose authority the cause whereat they direct them, gained its strength. But when began the Novatians to fall into this very heresy? Listen, I pray, and consider the whole course of your error. Cornelius, now made Bishop of Rome by sixteen Bishops, had succeeded to the place of the vacant Chair, and in that virginal chastity wherewith he was endued, suffered frequent persecutions from the angered Prince. At that time by chance a certain Presbyter named Novatus 6, having defrauded the widows in the Church of Carthage, robbed orphans, denied and withheld the money of the Church, cast his father out of his house, suffered him to die of hunger and left him without burial, stricken with his heel the womb of his pregnant wife, and destroyed her child, came from Africa to Rome. And there, when at the urgent request of his brethren in the Church, the day on which he must render account at Carthage was close upon him, he lay concealed.
15. And not long after, when this Novatian was troubled at the Episcopate of Cornelius, (for he had hoped it for himself,) he, with some partizans of his side, (as is men's wont in such cases,) urges him on when hesitating, encourages him when doubtful, exhorts him to hope for something great. He finds some out of the number of those who escaped the tempest of that persecution, in whose minds he could infuse against Cornelius this very odium about the receiving of the lapsed. He gives to Novatian their letters to him. He by authority of these letters, there being already a Bishop sitting at Rome, in opposition to the laws of the singleness of the Priesthood, assumes to himself the name of a second 7 Bishop; accuses Cornelius of being in communion with the lapsed; asserts his own innocence. Over against such a man I am |343 to render account; against such, I am to maintain the cause of modesty; against such is purity of life to be vindicated!
16. "But," thou wilt say, "why do ye too, Bishops, approve such things?" This let another say; do thou defend Novatian. Let the cause seem to others inexcusable; to thee it should be acceptable. Be he innocent in thy sight, whoever is in thy behalf guilty. Accuse not another of a crime, from which you cannot clear yourself. Well, be it that we Bishops every way owe a debt of shame, because we have received the name of Apostles, because we are sealed with the title of Christ. "The Lord," thou sayest, "denies him that denieth, I would not that thou shouldest acknowledge him denying." Who does acknowledge him denying? He, I ask, who constrains him to penance, rebukes him, shews him his crime, lays bare his wounds, tells him of eternal punishments, corrects him by the destruction of the flesh? This is to chasten, not to acknowledge. The Lord saith unto us, Ye are the salt of the earth. Good then is the harmony when we so teach, nor will its authority be slight, whosoever shall hear us. Thou seest that the sentence of the Lord is not trampled on, but enforced by us; severity is not laid aside, but His will laid open.
17. "But," thou wilt say, "you forgive sin to the penitent, whereas it is allowed to you to remit sin only in Baptism." Not to me at all, but to God only, Who both in Baptism forgiveth the guilt incurred, and rejecteth not the tears of the penitent. But what I do, I do not by my own right, but by the Lord's. We are labourers together with God, saith the Apostle; ye are God's building; and again, I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Wherefore, whether we baptize, whether we constrain to penance, or grant pardon to the penitent, we do this by the authority of Christ. See thou to it, whether Christ hath this power, whether Christ have done this. |344
18. "If remission of sin," thou sayest, "could be given to the penitent, Baptism was not necessary." Most senseless comparison! For Baptism is the Sacrament of the Lord's Passion: the pardon of penitents is the earning of him that confesseth. The former all can obtain, because it is the gift of the grace of God, that is, a free gift; but penitence is the toil of the few, who after falling arise, who after wounds recover, who are holpen by tearful prayers, who recover life through the destruction of the flesh.
19. Thou maintainest that to no purpose did I adduce that instance that God hath said, I desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that he repent. What had I added that of Isaiah, When thou shall return and mourn, then shall thou be saved, and know where thou hast been? What if that of the Apocalypse, Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works? "These things," (thou wilt say,) "were spoken to the Gentiles before Baptism." Hear the Apostle, Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law. Therefore, those who lived without the law will not be holden by this condition of repentance. And should they have repented, they had done it out of an unconstrained faith, not by any bond of repentance imposed by the law.
20. Therefore (thou wilt say) the Jews at least who repented before Baptism cannot repent after Baptism. Who taught thee this, brother Sympronian? Who convinced thee that he who may have repented before, ought not to repent afterwards? But this we will see hereafter. Meanwhile, even if the Jews were precluded from repentance after Baptism, because they had repented before, allow that the Gentiles at least who, before, knew not the law of repentance, ought to repent afterwards. But I would not that thou shouldest be deceived even as to the Jews. For on this very ground did they before repent, because they had corrupted their old Baptism, and they repented as having, after Faith, betrayed the Faith. Hear the Apostle, Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same |345 spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Bock was Christ. This Baptism then they had violated, and therefore did they repent. Let us now see what thou sayest.
21. "If God bids man often repent," (sayest thou,) "He allows him often to sin." What sayest thou? Does he then who frequently points out the remedy for a crime, point out the crime? And when the physician cures, does he teach us to be constantly wounded? God wisheth not man to sin even once, and yet He delivers him from sin. Nor yet when He delivereth, doth He teach sin; as neither does he who delivers from a fire, teach to kindle it; nor does he who rescues the shipwrecked from the cliffs, drive him upon the rocks. It is one thing to be delivered from danger, another to be forced upon danger. And perchance I might allow this, if luxury were accounted penitence, on which such toil is imposed, the destruction of the flesh enjoined, continual tears, unending groans. Will he then who has been cured wish again to feel the knife, again to suffer cautery? Will he wish to sin again, and again to repent, when it is written, Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee; and again, On him that sinneth constantly I have no mercy 8.
22. But if, as thou sayest, he is driven into sin, to whom is pointed out the medicine of penance; what then will be his case, who is shut out even from penance? who has his whole wound laid bare, and yet despairs of any remedy? who is utterly and entirely denied any approach to life?
23. "In Baptism," (thou wilt say,) "we die once for all according to the Apostle, Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into His Death? Therefore we are buried with Him by Baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. What marvel? The Apostle taught that we were renewed, that no one might sin. And yet it followed that he who had sinned should repent. The one is to live uninjured, the other cured. The innocent should receive a |346 crown, the penitent pardon: the one a reward, the other a remedy. And, lastly, the same Apostle saith, For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Much more then, being now justified by His Blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. From the wrath, that is, which was due to sinners. But if He suffered not the Gentile people to die, much more when redeemed will He not suffer them to be lost. Nor will He cast away those, whom He hath bought at a great Price. Nor is the loss of His servants a little matter in His eyes. , He That has risen again shall die no more, as it is written. But Himself is our Advocate with the Father, Himself intercedeth for our sins, no powerless Maintainer of the cause of the wretched, no inadequate Intercessor! Answer, brother; can the devil oppress the servants of God, and cannot Christ set them free?
24. Thou sayest, that "the repentance of Peter was before the Passion of our Lord?" No one adduced this instance to thee. And yet Peter had been already baptized. For to him the Lord had said 9, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit. Afterwards, however, he received the remedy of Christ's Death, but he repented before, and was esteemed holy before he attained to this remedy. Nor would his repentance be written as a memorial, had it not in some way profited the penitent. He wept, it is said, bitterly. Wiliest thou not that the believer should do what Peter did? Wiliest thou not that what profited Peter should profit us? Come say, Favoureth it not me, that Thomas, after the Resurrection of the Lord, doubt of the Resurrection? Is he not marked by the Lord as guilty of faithlessness, when are shewn him the prints of the nails, the pierced Hands, the wound in the Side, when the Lord saith unto him thus, Be not faithless, but believing? What then? Was he ashamed to repent? Was he not humbled? Does he not straightway acknowledge his God and his Lord? And is not that confession his commendation?
25. How acutely now dost thou dispatch that head which I set down, that power was given unto Bishops, that |347 whatsoever they bound on earth, should be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever 1 they loosed on earth, should be loosed also in heaven. Thou sayest, that this has reference not to the Faithful, but to Catechumens, that in the case, namely, of people yet to be baptized, sins were allowed either to be loosed or retained. Lastly, thou joinest together clauses from two Evangelists, so as to seem one; and addest, that what Matthew detailed less fully, John filled up: so that whereas the Lord had said according to Matthew, Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, He completed His words in John, saying, Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained; so that this loosing or binding may seem to refer to the Gentiles who were yet to be baptized, because the former Evangelist spoke first of the Gentiles, but the latter "filled up" concerning loosing and binding. What sayest thou? Do the two Evangelists relate meanings mutually halved between them, and but half entire? Were they mutually deficient either in language or in reason? Or did not in all the Holy Spirit fill the whole man, carrying out entirely the sense proposed, and defining the words even to the full? No one super-addeth to a man's testament when confirmed: shall another covenant change the covenant of God? What is this desire in you of overcoming, that you dare any such thing? What is this, which according to Matthew himself the Lord had said before His Passion, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven? Our Lord had foretold this in St. Matthew, and made there no mention of the Gentiles. Why then do you join on the chapter of John to him, where he has set down what is peculiar to himself, and so set it down, as to keep it distinct from the Gentiles; which, had he wished to refer to the Gentiles, he could surely join that together which himself elsewhere set down.
26. All thou seekest then, thou hast in Matthew. Why didst not thou, who teachest a Bishop, read the whole? Look at the first head of that command. According to the relation of Matthew himself, the Lord spake a little above to |348 Peter; (He spake to one, that from one He might lay the foundation of unity;) afterwards delivering the very same command in common to all, He still begins in the same terms as to Peter; And I say also unto thee, He saith, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And 1 will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Say, brother, did He speak this of the Gentiles only, Upon this rock, He saith, I will build My Church? Doth He call nations not baptized, the Church? Is man not as yet re-born, the body of Christ? What do I loose to the Gentiles? What is not bound? For if it is not imputed, nor bound, why bind I on, what I bind not of right? The Gentile is free from the Law. See now, on the other hand, whether both words do not agree with the baptized. He is loosed by pardon, because he was bound by sin: he is bound by anathema, because he had been loosed by faith, and set free through grace. But if I grant that this power of loosing and binding regarded the Gentiles also, much more do I prove that it appertained to the baptized. For if he could be loosed or bound, who had no chain, how much more he, who was held by the laws of faith?
27. Thou sayest that Matthew had written, If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; and that immediately after the Lord added, Whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; so that it would seem to have reference to offence given to a brother. But look, seest thou not what He saith above, If thy brother shall trespass against thee? but here He addeth, Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall loose on earthy &c. The former is a command to one, the latter a power of loosing granted to many; the one, that same looseth against whom it is committed, the other, the Church; the former is obtained without the priest, without the brethren, the latter from all. Whatsoever ye shall loose, He says. He excepted nothing whatever. Whatsoever, He says, great or small. Listen to what He saith to Peter below, that sin against man is to be forgiven seventy times seven, in |349 order to shew that in other cases it can be forgiven at least once 10. And yet he who sins against Peter, doth despite to the Lord, as He declares Himself when speaking to Samuel, They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me. What then is commanded to us so often, is allowed to the Church, at least, once.
28. But to return to the lost sheep, the piece of silver, and the younger son, examples upon which I slightly touched in my former letter, thou hast gone over again in full, teaching and shewing that the piece of silver, and the sheep, and the younger son, refer to publicans and sinners, that is, a lowly people, not to the image of the Christian people, nor the likeness of the faithful. I congratulate myself on being taught, but I am sorry that I comprehend not. For what shall I say? That whatsoever the law saith, it saith to those under the law, and that this was spoken principally to the former people, but as a likeness of the faithful, but as an image of those who should be, as the Apostle saith, Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come; and again, All which things in them were a shadow of good things to come. Certainly thou thyself acknowledgest that these things were spoken to publicans and sinners, that is, a lowly people, and therefore the younger. Say then, is not the Christian people itself that younger people 11? Hath it not grown together into the root? Hath He not compacted these members into one? built, as it is written, upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner Stone. Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also. For there is One God, Who justifieth the ungodly by faith, and the uncircumcision 12 through faith. Certainly, that lowly people, whom God compared to the piece of silver, the younger son, and the sheep, was the Church, whence are Apostles, whence is the whole assembly of believers, whence the Christian people. |350To this body then are joined our members also, and all portions of believers, out of the wild olive tree of the Gentiles, that they might grow together into a good olive tree, partaking, as the Apostle saith, of its fatness; and so we might be all one in Christ, Jew and Greek, bond and free. If, therefore, we with those lowly ones are one body, those things which were said to the lowly among the ancients were spoken also to us; and thus whatever was declared to a part of the body, was announced to the whole body.
29. I will speak more plainly still. This latter, this poor, this lowly people was an image of the Church, the humble and modest soul, the soul delivered through Christ. This the Lord came to save. This He left not in hell. This is the sheep which is carried back on the shoulders, that is, with the effort and might of patience. This the piece of silver, which is looked for, and, when found, is shewn unto the neighbours. Seest thou how its fashion is like unto the similitude of penitents? Seest thou that mercy is extended even to this time? Seest thou that whatever was spoken to the Church at its birth, relates also to the Church in its fulness? Thence did the Lord then add, Likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. For if all these things were written for our admonition, to whom, I ask, shall that sinful, humble, people be compared, but to the penitent people? And if, the figures recurring in regular order, the ninety and nine sheep that were safe are the whole Church, but the one that strayed in that small portion of offenders, the piece of money which was lost is that wretched sinner, let the son returning after his evil ways, be held the pattern of him that is redeemed.
30. Thou now seest that I rightly set down, when treating of the cure of penitents, that the Lord said, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick; and rightly again, Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Whatsoever was said of publicans and sinners, will apply to all that are sick, and all that are miserable.
31. Thou sayest, "It was written of Martyrs only, Blessed are they that mourn." Does no one bewail his sins besides |351 them? Doth not David cry, Every night wash I my bed? and again, For I have eaten ashes as it were bread; and, mingled my drink with weeping? Saith not Jacob, Few and evil have the years of my life been? Does not the Apostle write to Timothy, Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears? And yet he spoke not this of a Martyr. What now? Are the eyes of the wretched penitents dry? And they who grieve that they have sinned, know they not how to weep? We ourselves, the communicants, we, the faithful, have not we tears? Hath anyone of us pleasure in rejoicing, when the world rejoiceth? Ye, Novatians, Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us. It is not then they only who are miserable, who are the objects of commiseration 13.
32. Your next proposition is, that it is written by the Lord, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men. But whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Either I am mistaken, or this example makes against thee. For if all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven, thou seest that pardon is not denied to penitents; all sin then, even blasphemy itself then. According to Luke you have it added, And whosoever shall sin 14 against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him. What can be more large than this as to the mercy of God, the clemency of the Judge? Is not thine eye evil because the Householder is good? May not He do, what He willeth? Moreover, Who art thou that judgest a servant? to his own Master he standeth or falleth. Yea, God is able to make him stand. But he that blasphemeth against the Holy Spirit, He saith, shall not be forgiven. Thou usually readest the whole lessons. Why didst thou not read here what that meaneth, against the Spirit? Thou hast it written above, that, when our Lord was casting out devils by His word, and performing many other deeds by the power of the Spirit, the Pharisees said, This fellow doth not cast out devils but by |352 Beelzebub the prince of the devils. This it is to have sinned against the Holy Spirit, to have blasphemed against those things which were wrought by the Holy Spirit. For in other sins we either fall through error, or are conquered by fear, or are overcome by the infirmity of the flesh. This is the blindness of not seeing what thou seest, imputing to the devil the works of the Holy Spirit, and calling that glory of God, by which the. devil himself is overcome, the power of the devil. This it is then which shall not be forgiven. All other things, brother Sympronian, are forgiven to good penitents.
33. After this thou thus givest the instances of the branches and the vine: in John the Lord saith, I am the true Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit, He taketh away, and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it. Thou seest then that in the branches fruit is required, that is, good works of repentance, as John says, Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. Thou seest that the branches are purged. This purging is the destruction of the flesh, the loss of joy, the loss of inheritance, the toils of life; and these are the peculiar acts of penitents. You see also that the Husbandman is the Lord, Who destroyeth not even the very branches, but purgeth and gathereth, some certainly for the fire, some to renew and plant again His vineyards.
34. "Eli the priest," thou sayest, "speaketh, saying, If one man sin against another, they shall pray for him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? In like manner John, If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask,and He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that thou shall pray for it. Thou seest that all this has reference to sins still remaining, not to those persons who have at any time sinned, and begun to repent before any one asketh for them. It were a long task to unfold the instances. Remark all the sins which God threatens, thou wilt at once see that they are present sins. But if his past righteousness shall not profit the righteous in the time of his iniquity, neither shall his wickedness which he hath forsaken hurt the wicked man in the time of his righteousness; for it |353 is written, Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he shall obtain mercy. But if God hath punished even past sins, tell me, hath He it not in His own power to change His sentence against him, to whom15 He hath appointed punishment and suffering for things past and overlooked? Did He not deliver Rahab, Nebuchadnezzar the king, the Gibeonites, the Ninevites, and Zoar, from the destruction foretold? Doth not Joel thus speak in His Name, Turn unto the Lord your God with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil. Who knoweth if He will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him? Wherefore if thou shalt have anyhow proved that punishment is appointed for the sinner, thou must allow this, either that it is appointed for enduring sins, or that liberty is left to God of changing His sentence in their favour, on repentance.
35. Thou sayest it is further written, If thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cast them from thee. The meaning of this Moses foretold by the testimony of the Book of Deuteronomy, If thy brother, (for these are our eyes and our hands,) or thy daughter, or thy wife, which is in thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known: then he added below, Thou 16 shalt accuse him, and thine hand shall be upon him to put him to death. Dost thou see then that this was not spoken of penitents, but of those who not only themselves persevere in wickedness, but also cease not to put stumblingblocks in our way? These, however dear they be, we must relinquish; however useful, we must abandon.
36. Further, thou settest forth that the Apostle Paul said, Put away from among yourselves the evil thing 17; the evil which continues, that is. But repentance is not an evil, for |354 David saith, It is a good thing to make confession unto the Lord. And yet he who is doing penance is not with me, nor is he joined in the portion of the saints, nor in peace. But the Apostle saith, If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one not even to eat. Thou seest that not without cause doth it stand, if he be, i. e. one who is not yet penitent, who has not ceased to be wicked. And certainly the same words apply to the covetous, to drunkards, and to railers. Answer, brother, is no one of this kind comprehended in your communion? Thence then is it that God crieth by Isaiah, The destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together; not of the penitent, not of those who are busied in works of mercy, to whom God saith again in the same Isaiah, Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
37. "Nevertheless," thou sayest, "the Apostle condemned him that erred. For in the first Epistle to the Corinthians he saith thus: For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have already judged, concerning him that hath so done this deed, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus." Mark, brother, first that he condemns not those with whom this man is in communion. He alone who had done this deed, is delivered to Satan, he only is excommunicated, the peace of the Saints being kept entire. Ye for one sinner condemn all churches. Next thou seest, that this very incestuous sinner is not delivered to death, but to Satan, to be reformed, to be buffeted, to repent. Lastly, he says, for the destruction of the flesh, not however of the soul, not even of the spirit also, but for the destruction of the flesh only, trials, namely, straits in the flesh, wearing of the members, as in another place he saith of them who refrain not, Nevertheless, such shall have trouble in the flesh. Wouldest thou know3? In the second Epistle to the Corinthians, the same Paul absolves this same wicked man. For of him he |355 saith. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such an one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you, that ye would confirm your love toward him. And so below, To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the Person of Christ; lest Satan should get an advantage of us. Seest thou the indulgence of the Apostle, tempering even his own sentences? Seest thou his most gentle lenity, so far removed from your pride? Widely differing from the front which Novatian assumes, but consulting for the common life and salvation of all?
38. But thou inveighest against us also with the severity of a censor. Thou sayest, that "according to the law of heaven it is not allowed to break one of the commandments, and that lambs ought not to hold communion with wolves, and that all consenting unto such is in fault, that he then who toucheth pitch is defiled, and that there is no society of light with darkness, of the temple of God with idols, or agreement of Christ with Belial." Thou sayest at last that we "rescind the commandments of God." Do we alter one tittle of the law, or the Novatians rather, who have violated all laws of the Church, all laws of concord, who, after so many years of peace, so many sacred treaties, have produced these new laws of yours, new customs, new rites, feigning sanctity under an inexorable front, a sanctity heretofore unknown? Do we receive wolves into the Church, who avoid the very faces of heretics, or the Novatians rather, who, themselves rapacious wolves, shudder at the poor sheep but little more wretched than themselves? Do we "consent unto the wicked," do we "touch pitch," have we fellowship with darkness, do we join ourselves unto idols and unto Belial, or they who received Evaristus, who received Nicostratus, and the others who left the Church, defiled in tongue, |356 in hand, in life? Have we dealings with adulterers and thieves, or they who preferred Novatus over their own lives and heads, after he had embezzled the money of orphans and widows, the murderer of his wretched parent and of his wife's offspring, not only not penitent, but even glorying?
39. But the Apostle Paul said, Lay hands suddenly on no man. Yet he teacheth, that slowly and after repentance it must not be refused. "Yet at the destruction of Jericho Achan the son of Carmi was put to death for stealing a garment." Slay ye then all who have stolen our money and our books, and exercise your fury against the bones of Novatus. Take upon you again that yoke which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear. Why delay ye, O Novatians, to ask eye for eye, tooth for tooth, to demand life for life, to renew once more the practice of circumcision and the sabbath? Put to death the thief. Stone the petulant. Choose not to read in the Gospel that the Lord spared even the adulteress who confessed, when none had condemned her; that He absolved the sinner who washed His feet with her tears; that He delivered Rahab at Jericho, itself a city of the Phoenicians; that He set Tamar free from the sentence of the Patriarch; that when the Sodomites also perished, He destroyed not the daughters of Lot; willing likewise to have delivered his sons-in-law, had they believed the destruction to come.
40. Come, dost thou not remember that the Lord saith by David, With them that hated peace was I peaceful? and that the sentence of Solomon 18 is not withheld when he saith, A brother that helpeth a brother shall be exalted? What says the Apostle? Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so shall ye fulfil the law of Christ; and again, (which I have before quoted,) I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh; and |357 again, I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save all; that is, so as to share their groans with the wounded, suffering with the sick, death with the dying, to be able to blend the fall of brethren with his own standing, to abate from his own health, and apply medicine to the sinking.
41. What profiteth it you to harden yourselves with an haughty and hard brow, to be stiff2 and bear your necks high, to turn away your faces from the miserable, to close the ear and eye? Have ye, I pray you,never fallen? Is there no stain on your minds? No mote, I pray, in your eyes? Who will boast that he hath a clean heart, or that he is free from sins? Ye, I suppose, are just, benevolent, temperate, your members are all sound, your whole body unharmed, ye have no need of a physician, nor of medicine for weakness! Enter ye heaven at once, penetrate the approaches to paradise while the sword gives wayq before you, close your holy gifts against so many nations of ours, who confess the One and Only God! But if they are in a far different state from that which the implacable rigour of nature and your cruelty pretend, ye must see now, O Novatians, that God can have mercy; now, that a remedy, late though it be, is open to wretched brethren who confess what is past; now, that that wounded man, passed by by the Levite and Priest, can be healed by Christ; now, that the prayers of the Church are not to be refused to the humble; now, that the hands of the Priests are to be imparted to those brethren who deserve pity.
42. But we understand, as thou reproachest us, that the Church of God is a dove, not bitter with gall 19, not fierce nor rending with talons, white moreover with small and tender plumage. We know likewise that, being the well of living water, and a fountain sealed, it is defiled with no filth of engulfing heresy, and that it is a garden enclosed and full of herbs great alike and small, vile and precious; that it is the eight souls from the Ark, among whom, however, was Ham also, and those thousands of birds and beasts, in pairs and in sevens, clean alike and unclean. But by the dry fountains and clouds carried about of winds we understand the barrenness of heretics, and the assaults of strangers' voices.
43. Neither do we promise liberty, when we are ourselves the servants of punishment, but we confess our sins, and exhort the rest also to confess theirs, and to believe on Him Who justifieth the wicked by faith, Who revoketh the sentence pronounced against wickedness. When also we avoid you, we beware of false prophets and ravening wolves. But we believe that Jannes and Mambres withstood Moses, as ye do the Catholics. Whence the Apostle layeth it down thus, Now as Jannes and Mambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. That this was spoken against you, is clear; for ye can neither proceed further, nor hide your folly.
44. He that is washed by the dead, profiteth nothing 20, he, that is, who is dipped in an heretical fountain, and in like manner, he who is anointed with the oil of the sinner, who is filled, that is, with an unclean spirit. So then ye shall be also children of blood. For ye desire not the peace, but the blood of brethren. Your cruelty is a false faith. An heretical congregation is an adulteress woman; for the Catholic hath never from the beginning left the couch and the chamber of her Spouse, nor gone after other and strange lovers. Ye have painted a divorced form in new colours, ye have withdrawn your couch from the old wedlock, ye have left the body of a mother, the wife of One Husband, decking yourselves out with new arts of pleasing, new allurements of corruption.
45. For whereas ye bring forward as a witness against me the most blessed Cyprian, because in his Epistle on the Lapsed 21 he says that Moses 22 and Daniel and Job prayed for sinners, and obtained not, our Lord saying, Though. Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they shall deliver neither son nor |358 daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness. Would, would ye did rely on the witness of Cyprian, would ye acquiesced in doctrines so salutary! For when he was urging the lapsed to penance, who were unwilling to do penance because they said that they had received peace from Confessors or Martyrs, he taught and shewed that not even those Patriarchs obtained any thing for the unrepentant. For who can deliver one unwilling? Who can humble himself for the proud? Who obtain any thing for the unrepentant? So when he said this, he was constraining them to the remedies of penance. Nor did a man of such gravity and merit in any wise contradict himself, but he taught that the sinner must pour forth prayer, and must love Confession.
46. These examples, however, of Cyprian shake you, in which he relates that both Moses and other saints who prayed for sinners, obtained not their request. Sayest thou? Seest thou not for whom Moses obtained not his request? Returned to the people, what heareth he in the camp? The voices of drunkards and the songs of the idol-sacrifice were resounding through it. The people was still persevering in wickedness, still remaining in the very crime, but repentance it knew not. And yet who of us told thee that Moses obtained not his request? God indeed had said unto him, Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book. He had spoken, however, with the authority of a Judge, and with the power of a Lord. But see how soon He turned back the sentence pronounced against the wickedness of the people. Listen. Immediately, in the same place, the Prophet saith, And Moses besought the Lord his God, Lord, why doth Thy wrath wax hot against Thy people? and so on. Then again below, And the Lord repented of the evil which He thought to do unto His people. Seest thou that the anger of God was softened? Seest thou that the offence was atoned for? And he prayed for a people not praying, nor repenting what they had done.
47. "But Noah," thou sayest, "and Daniel, and Job, could not deliver sons nor daughters." And the meaning of this is; if they should ask for them who asked not themselves, if they should pray for him that persevered in crime, if they |359 would throw their protection over not individuals, not a few, but many thousands. Yet Noah delivered his own household from the general ruin; and Job received again all which he lost; and Daniel by prayer removed that sword which was hanging over the wise men of Babylon. Lot certainly prayeth for the safety of a city, Paul for the passengers of the ship. So they who know how to repent are absolved by help of 1 the righteous.
48. Lastly, look even at the very words which are written, They only shall be delivered. Who are they? Those same who pray for sinners, shall pray for such with impunity. And why condemnest thou the Church? Why forbiddest thou to pray for the penitent? if we may pray even for those, for whom we may not obtain? Read, therefore, my Cyprian with more care. Read the whole Epistle on the Lapsed; read another which he wrote to Antonianus, in which Novatian is pressed by examples of all sorts. Then thou wilt learn what he pronounced as to the healing of penitents; Cyprian, I say, who is opposed to you, and adhered to the Catholic laws. Tertullian after he had fallen into heresy, (for you have taken much from this source,) you may hear himself, in his Epistle, and that same which he published when a Catholic, confess that the Church can forgive sins.
49. Thou seest then that the Church is a Queen in a vesture of gold, wrought about with divers colours; consisting, that is, of many diverse bodies, and of many people. This painting is not of one colour, nor doth this great diversity glisten in one garment. This part of her array covereth, another adorneth. One part is fitted to the bosom, another sweeps along in the lowest fold, and contracts defilement in the very act of walking. Part is likened to the purple of Martyrs; part to virgin silk. A part is sewed on beneath in folds, or repaired by the stitches of the needle. One after this manner, and another after that. And yet in all is she made one queen.
50. Therefore she is also a fruitful and rich vine, with many branches, and the varied tresses of many a tendril. |360 Look. Are there every where large clusters, is every grape full-swelled? Have none of these suffered from the winter cold? Has none endured the rough hail? Has none to accuse the burning heat of summer? One bud is studded thicker with shoots; another is stronger; another cleaner; one bursts forth into fruit, another only into exuberance of leaves. Yet is she a vine in every part beautiful.
51. She is the mother of virgins without number. Calculate now, if thou canst, the Catholic flocks, and count on thy fingers the swarms of our people. Not those only, which are scattered throughout the whole world and fill whole regions, but those, brother Sympronian, which are with thee in the nearest borders and in the neighbouring city. Contemplate how many of us you alone see, how many people of mine you alone meet. Art not thou absorbed as eaves-droppings in great fountains, as a single drop by the ocean? Say, say, are these virgins the offspring of your people? Art thou alone the mother of so many? This queen, I say, is ours, the chosen one of her mother and perfect. Nothing indeed can be chosen, except what is better and greater from another; nothing can be perfect except what is full.
52. Next consider this, whether she is not especially built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner Stone. If her beginning was before thee, if her belief was before thee, if she hath not left her former foundations, if she hath not moved them, if she hath not separated from the rest of the body and appointed her own rulers for herself and peculiar documents, well 23; if she hath made unreceived interpretations, if she hath invented some new law, if she hath given a divorce from peace to her own body, then clearly may she seem to have left Christ, then may she seem to stand apart from Prophets and Apostles.
53. This then will be the great house, rich in diversity of all vessels, in which glistens the pure gold, in which gleams the ductile silver, but which despises not, as it is written, the vessels of wood and earth. For a great house employeth |361 many services, is busied about various works. It seeks not silver only, nor is delighted with ornament of gold alone. Now and then what is of slight account is more ornament to things great; and in a noble suite, things little are sometimes pleasing. No workman despiseth his own work, nor thinks that vile which he hath made. And whence was it, thinkest thou, that Christ suffered for sinners, except that He was unwilling to lose any thing which He Himself formed? Whence was it, thinkest thou, that He even now intercedeth with the Father for the miserable, except that He repels not him of little worth, even though he be most despised. None of those whom He has received, would He lose, although compared to vessels of wood and earth, and so He putteth together in His house all vessels.
54. At length, brother Sympronian, be not ashamed to be with the many; at length consent to despise these festering spots of the Novatians, and these parings of yours; at length, to look upon the flocks of the Catholics, and the people of the Church extending so far and wide. Where one is, (thou wilt say,) there am I also; and where two are, there is the Church: "where one," yet in concord, "where two," but at peace. "Where one is, there is the Church also." How much more, where many are? Two, it saith, are belter than one, and a three-fold cord is not broken. Hear what David saith, I will sing unto Thy Name in the great Congregation; and again, I will praise Thee among much people; and, The Lord, even the most mighty God, hath spoken: and called the world, from the rising up of the sun, unto the going down thereof. What! shall the seed of Abraham, which is as the stars and the sand on the sea shore for number, be contented with your poverty 24? In thy seed, he saith, shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Say, does Novatian make these up? Not thus little hath God redeemed with His Own Blood, nor is Christ so poor.
55. Recognise now, brother, the Church of God extending |362 her tabernacles, and fixing the stakes of her curtains on the right and on the left; Understand that The Lord's name is praised, from the rising up of the sun, unto the going down thereof. See, see, I beg you, that, whilst the Novatians are striving over words, the riches of Catholics are being dispersed throughout the world.
56. I have now instructed thee on all the points, about which thou hast consulted me. I have passed over no head or sentence of your propositions. I have answered every tittle and word. If you enquired as one consulting, I have shewn you lovingly. If as attacking, I have argued not indi-ligently. I will add, when I shall have leisure, another Epistle also, in which I will not confute your views, but set forth ours. And if you read it with good feeling and without fastidiousness, perchance it may not hurt you. Meanwhile in this Epistle I beg you to read each and all parts of it thoroughly. All that is read in haste passes away. If thou cravest better gifts, and hast a soul open to good instruction, thou wilt not easily despise things so true. The Lord vouchsafe to guard and protect thee for ever, and make thee live a Christian to the unity of the Spirit!
[Selected footnotes only]
1. a see Tert. de Praescr. c. 6. p. 440. n. g. and c. 30.
2. b ib. c. 30. p. 464.
3. c see S. Cypr. Ep. 50. p. 109. n. k. and Ep. 52. p. 112.
4. g Bellarm. de Eccl. iii. 9. arg. 7. defends this, as though S. Pacian meant it of heretics only, of whom he had just spoken. But St. P. speaks much more broadly; the Novatians objected to the reception of certain open offenders; St. P. answers, that the Church received them, not as offenders, but when cleansed by penitence, in which case they were no longer "spots." The question did not relate to a discipline which neither Church, nor heretics, can exert, as to secret offenders; these, St. P. often says, (e. g. §. 7.) both must have; but heretics, he says, were altogether denied, and of these the Church was free, the Novatians were made up; restored penitents were no defilement, because they were cleansed; while in their sins, they were shut out by the discipline of the Church.
5. Ep. 55.
6. m S. Cypr. Ep. 52. ad Corn. §. 3. p. 113.
7. n See St. C. on the oneness of the Episcopate. Ep. 59. §. 5. p. 155. n. c.
8. q probably Ecclus. 12, 3. "non est enim ei bene qui assiduus est in malis."
9. s see on Tert. de Bapt. c. 12. p. 270. n. i. Oxf. Tr.
10. x See on Tert. de Poenit. c. 7. p. 362. n. d. Oxf. Tr.
11. y See Tert. adv. Jud. c. 1. adv. Marc. iii. ult.
12. z The Vat. supplies "acrobystiam." The Ed. notices that a little part of the sentence is wanting, the letters being faint and illegible, else it seems complete.
13. a i. e. The sympathy of the members of the Church is not confined to the fallen; all "groan, being burdened" and so all have sympathy.
14. b So quoted also by Lucif. Calar. de non parc. in D.del. p. 237 h. quoted by Sabat. ad loc. and in the latter clause, Opt. c. Don. vii. Breviar. fid. c. Arian. ap. Sirm. quoted ib. on S. Matt. 12, 32.
15. d Latinius' coni. "deque"'for "de quo" gives an easier reading, "If God hath punished even past sins, andhas appointed punishment and suffering for things past and overlooked, say, hath He it not in His power to change His sentence."
16. f LXX.so quoted nearly by S. Cypr. Ep. ad Fortun. §. 5. p. 284. Oxf. Tr. Lucif. Cal. de non parc. in D. del. p. 228. d.
17. g as if it had been to_ ponhro_n, which S. Aug. qu. 39. in Deut. observes, it is not.
18. o Prov, 18, 19. so quoted by S. Cypr. ab. Ep. 55. §.15. p. 126. and by S. Paulinus. see Sabat. ad loc.
19. r which the dove was supposed not to have. Horus Hierogl. i. 54.
20. t See above on S. Cypr. Ep. 71. §. 1. p. 238. n. b.
21. x de Laps. §. 12. p. 166. Oxf. Tr.
22. y Noah, in S. Cypr.
23. a This break has been necessarily made, although there is no distinction in the present text, of which the former part plainly belongs to the Catholics, the latter to the Novatians.
24. f It must be borne in mind in these contrasts, that the Novatians, as the Donatists afterwards, claimed to be the whole Church; they do not apply to us, who, however outwardly rent, claim to be a portion only.
exhortation to penance
TREATISE OF EXHORTATION UNTO PENANCE.
[Translated by the Rev. C. H. Collyns, M.A., Student of Christ Church.]
1. Although I have spoken several times, however hurriedly, of the cure of penitents, still, mindful of the Lord's solicitude, Who for the loss of one poor sheep spared not even His own neck and shoulders, carrying back the delicate sinner to the reintegrated flock, I shall endeavour (as I can) to build up even with my pen the example of so great excellence, and as a servant shall imitate, with the humility becoming me, the industry of the Lord's labour.
2. My only fear is, dearly beloved, lest by the unhappiness of wonted contrariety, by insisting on what is done, I should teach, rather than repress, sins; and that after the example of the Athenian Solon it would be better to be silent concerning great crimes, than to warn against them, the morals of our age having gone so far, that men deem themselves reminded, when they are forbidden. For this I suppose has very lately been the effect of my Cervulus 1, that the offence has been wrought the more diligently, the more earnestly it was branded. And all that censure of a disgrace visibly stamped and often repeated, seems not to have repressed, but to have taught wantonness. Wretched man that I am! Where has been my guilt? They had not known, I suppose, how to act the wanton, had not I by blaming taught them.
3. But let that pass. Rebels from God, and placed without the Church, are also exasperated by chastisement, as a wrong, |365 indignant forsooth that their morals can be blamed by any. And as mud is wont then most to stink, when you stir it, and fire then to burn more if you turn it, and madness then to be more fierce if you provoke it: so they, by turning the heel, have broken the pricks of necessary blame, yet not without being hurt and wounded by their resistance.
4. Do ye however, most beloved, remember that it is said by The Lord, Reprove a fool, and he will hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee; and again, Whom I love, I rebuke and chasten. Do ye then, following lovingly, not obstinately opposing, believe that the kindly and anxious diligence of this my work, undertaken according to the will of the Lord by me your brother and priest, is of love rather than of rigour.
5. Moreover let no man imagine that this very discourse on the institution of penance is framed for penitents only, lest for this reason whoever is placed without that rank, despise what shall be spoken as intended for others; whereas the discipline of the whole Church is tied as it were into this fastening, since Catechumens must be careful that they pass not into this state, and the faithful that they return not to it; and penitents themselves must toil, to arrive speedily at the fruit of this their work.
6. But in my discourses the order preserved will be this. First, to speak of the degrees of sins, that no one think that the extremest peril is set upon all sins whatsoever. Then I shall speak of those faithful, who, ashamed of their remedy, use an ill-timed bashfulness, and communicate, with body defiled and mind polluted. In the sight of men most timid, before the Lord most shameless, they contaminate with profane hands and polluted mouth the Altar to be dreaded even by Saints and Angels. Thirdly, my discourse shall relate to those, who, having duly confessed and laid bare their crimes, either know not or refuse the remedies of penance, and the very acts belonging to the ministry of confession. Lastly, it shall be our endeavours to shew most clearly, what will be the punishment of those who either do no penance, or even neglect it, and who die therefore in their wound and imposthumes: and what again will be their crown, what their |366 reward, who purge the stains of their conscience by right and regular Confession.
7. First, therefore, as we proposed, let us treat of the degrees of sinners, diligently searching out what are sins, what are crimes, that no one may think that, for the innumerable faults from the deceitfulness of which no man is free, I bind the whole human race under one undistinguishing law of penance. With Moses and the ancients, those guilty of even the least sin, and (so to speak) of one farthing were immersed in the same aestuary of misery; as well those who had broken the sabbath, as those who had touched what was unclean, who had taken forbidden food, or who murmured, or who had entered the temple of The Most High King when their wall was leprous or their garment defiled, or, when under this defilement, had touched the altar with their hand or with their garment come in contact with it, so that it were easier to ascend into heaven, or better to die, than to have to keep the whole of these commandments.
8. From all these therefore and many carnal offences besides, that each might more speedily attain his destined end, the Blood of The Lord hath delivered us, redeemed from the servitude of the Law, and set free in the liberty of the Faith. And therefore saith the Apostle Paul, For ye have been called unto liberty. This is that liberty, that we are not bound by all those things whereby they of old were held: but (if I may use the expression) the whole entangled mass of our faults being forgiven and the indulgence of remedies appointed, we are constrained to a few and necessary points, which, whether to keep or to avoid, were most easy for believers; so that he could not deny that he most truly deserved hell, who, ungrateful for so great forgiveness, kept not even these few. But what these are let us see.
9. After the Passion of the Lord, the Apostles having considered and treated of all things, delivered an Epistle to be sent to such of the Gentiles as had believed; of which letter the import was as follows: The Apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words; so below, |367 It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. This is the whole conclusion of the New Testament. The Holy Spirit, despised in those many ordinances, hath left these injunctions to us on condition of hazard of our lives. Other sins are cured by the compensation of better works: but these three crimes we must dread, as the breath of some basilisk, as a cup of poison, as a deadly arrow: for they know how, not to corrupt only, but to cut off the soul. Wherefore niggardliness shall be redeemed by liberality, slander be compensated by satisfaction, moroseness by pleasantness, harshness by gentleness, levity by gravity, perverse ways by honesty; and so in all cases which are well amended by their contraries. But what shall the despiser of God do? What the blood-stained? What remedy shall there be for the fornicator? Shall either he be able to appease the Lord who hath abandoned Him? Or he to preserve his own blood, who hath shed another's? Or he to restore the temple of God, who hath violated it by fornication? These, my brethren, are capital, these are mortal, crimes.
10. Now hear John and be confident, if ye can. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, let him ask, and the Lord shall give him life, if he have sinned a sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. But if you like, hear separately also of each. God thus addresses Moses when praying for the people who had blasphemed, Whosoever hath (He saith) sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book. Concerning the murderer, the Lord thus judgeth, He that smiteth with the sword, (He saith,) shall die by the sword. And of the fornicator the Apostle says, Defile not the temple of God, which temple ye are; if any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.
11. These things are written, most beloved brethren, and engraven on everlasting monuments; written and engraven, I say not on wax and paper and brass or with the pen, but |368 in the book of The Living God. Heaven and earth shall pass, (He saith,) one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away, till all be fulfilled. What then? Must we die? Many too have in mind fallen into these sins. Many are guilty of blood; many, sold unto idols; many, adulterers. I say moreover that not hands only are involved in murder, but every design also which hath driven the soul of another to death; and that not only those who have burnt incense on profane altars, but altogether every lust that wandereth beyond the marriage couch and the lawful embrace, is bound by the sentence of death. Whosoever shall have done these things after believing, shall not see the face of God. But those who are guilty of so great crimes are in despair. What have I done unto you? Was it not in your power that it should not be? Did no one warn you? No one foretell it? Was the Church silent? Said the Gospels nothing? Did the Apostles threaten nothing? Did the priest ask nothing? Why seek ye late consolations? Then ought ye when ye might. This is a hard saying. But they who call you happy lead you into error, and disturb the path of your feet. He shews the way of wickedness to the innocent, who after their crimes flatters the guilty. "Are we then to perish?" will some one say. "And where is the merciful God, Who devised not death, nor hath pleasure in the destruction of the living? Shall we die in our sins? And what wilt thou do, the priest? By what gains wilt thou repay so many losses to the Church?" Receive the remedy, if ye begin to despair, if ye acknowledge yourselves miserable, if ye fear. Whoso is too confident is unworthy. To this man (saith the Lord) will 1 look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.
12. You then I first call on, brethren, who, having committed crimes, refuse penance: you, I say, timid after being shameless, modest after sinning; who blush not to sin, yet blush to confess; who with evil conscience touch the Holy Things 2 of God, and fear not the Altar of The Lord; who come to the hands of the priest, who come in the sight of |369 angels with the confidence of innocence; who insult the Divine patience; who bring to God, as if, because silent, He knew not, a polluted soul and a profane body. Hear first what the Lord hath clone, and then what He hath said. When the people of the Hebrews were bringing back the ark of the Lord to Jerusalem, Uzzah, from the house of Aminadab the Israelite, who had touched the side of the ark without having examined his conscience, was slain; and yet he had drawn near, not to take any thing from it, but to hold it when leaning through the stumbling of the kine. So great a care was there of reverence towards God, that He endured not bold hands even in help. The same also the Lord crieth, saying, And as for the flesh, all that be clean shall eat thereof. But the soul that eateth of the Jlesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from his people. Are these things old and happen they not now? What then? Hath God ceased to care for what concerns us? Had He withdrawn out of view of the world, and doth He look down upon no one from heaven? Is His long-suffering ignorance? God forbid, thou wilt say. He seeth then what we do, but He waiteth indeed and endureth, and granteth a season for repentance, and alloweth His Christ to put off the end, lest they quickly perish whom He hath redeemed. Understand well, thou sinner. Thou art beheld by God. Thou canst appease Him if thou wilt. But grant that it is a thing of old that the unclean were not permitted to approach the table of God: open the writings of the Apostles, and learn what is of later date.
13. In the first Epistle to the Corinthians Paul hath |370 inserted these words, Whosoever, he saith, shall eat this Bread, and drink this Cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. So likewise below: For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's Body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Do ye tremble or not? Shall be guilty, he saith, of the Body and Blood of the Lord. One guilty as to human life could not be absolved; doth he escape who violates the Body of The Lord? He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, he saith, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself. Awake, O sinner. Fear judgment present within thee if thou hast done any such thing. For this cause, he saith, many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. If then any one fears not the future, let him now, at least, dread present sickness and present death. But when we are judged, he saith, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Rejoice, O sinner, if in this life thou art either cut off by death, or wasted by sickness, that thou be not punished in the life to come. See how great wickedness he committeth, who cometh when unworthy to the Altar, to whom it is reckoned as a remedy, if he either labours under sickness, or is destroyed by death!
14. But if your own soul is of little value to you, spare the people, spare the priests. The Apostle saith, a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. What will, thou do, by whose means the whole lump is corrupted; through whom the whole brotherhood shall suffer? Shalt thou live guilty of so many souls? Shalt thou be excused when the innocent shall have imputed to thee their communion, when the Church shall have named thee as the author of her desolation?
15. Behold again the Apostle saith to the Priest, Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins. What wilt thou do, who deceivest the Priest? Who either misleadest him if ignorant, or, not fully knowing, perplexest him with the difficulty of proof? I beseech you therefore, brethren, by that Lord from Whom no secrets are |371 hid, even in consideration of my danger, cease ye from hiding the wounds of your consciences. The wise, when: sick, fear not the physician, not even when about to cut, not even when about to burn them in the secret parts of the body. We have heard of some who, not ashamed even as to parts of the body, withdrawn by modesty from sight, have endured the pains of the knife and of cautery, and even of the corrosive powder. And how great then is the endurance which men have shewn? Shall the sinner fear? Shall the sinner blush to purchase everlasting life by present shame? And withdraw his ill-concealed wounds from the Lord when He stretcheth forth His Hands? And hath he any thing whereat to blush before the priest, who hath injured the Lord? Or is it better that he should thus be lost, lest thou, shrinking through shame, shouldest without shame perish? By not giving way to shame, thou wouldest gain more through its loss, thou, for whom it were better to perish for thyself. But if ye are ashamed that the eyes of your brethren should see, fear not those who are partners in your misfortune. No body is glad at the suffering of its own members; it grieves with them, and labours with them for a remedy. In one and two is the Church, and in the Church is Christ. And he therefore, who hides not his sins from the brethren, assisted by the tears of the Church, is absolved by Christ.
16. And now I would address those who, well and wisely confessing their wounds under the name of penance, neither know what penance is, nor what the cure for their wounds, and are like those who lay bare indeed their wounds and swellings, and acknowledge them also to the physician who sitteth by; but when warned what is to be applied, neglect it, and refuse what they have to take. This is just as if one should say, "Lo! I am sick, Lo! I am wounded, but I wish |372 not to be cured." Such is it, but see a thing still more foolish.
17. Another disease is added to the original cause, and a new wound inflicted, all that is just contrary is applied, all that is hurtful is drank. Under this evil especially doth our brotherhood labour, adding on to old faults new sins. Therefore hath it burst forth into vice more grievously still, is now racked by a most destructive consumption. What then shall I the Priest now do who am compelled to cure? It is late in such cases. If however there is any one of you who can bear to be cut and cauterized, I still can do it. Behold the knife of the Prophet; Turn unto the Lord your God, (he saith,) with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart. Fear not this cutting, most beloved. David bore it. He lay in filthy ashes, and was disfigured by a covering of rough sackcloths He who had once been accustomed to gems and to purple, hid his soul in fasting; he whom seas, whom woods, whom streams served and the land bringing forth the promised wealth, wasted in floods of tears those eyes with which he had beheld the glory of God; the ancestor of Mary, the ruler also of the Jewish kingdom, confessed himself unhappy and miserable. That king of Babylon 3 performs penitence 4, forsaken of all, and is worn away by seven years of squalidness. His uncombed hair and wild roughness surpassed the shagginess of lion's mane, and his hands hooked with crooked talons take the semblance of eagles', while he eats grass as oxen, chewing the green herb. Yet this punishment commends him to God, and restores him to the kingdom, once his own. Whom men shuddered at, God received, blessed through this very calamity of a severer discipline. Behold the cutting which I promised! Whoso shall be able to endure it shall be healed.
18. I will yet apply fire from the cautery of the Apostle. |373 Let us see whether ye can bear it. I have judged, he saith. when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus. What say ye, penitents? Where is the destruction of your flesh? Is it that in the very time of penance ye always walk abroad in greater pomp, full from the feast, sleek from the bath, with well-studied attire? Lo, here is one man once thrifty, once somewhat poor, once sordidly dressed in a coarse cloak. Now he is daintily bedecked and wealthy and a proper man, as though he would lay it to God's charge that he cannot serve Him, and would refresh his dying soul with the pleasure of his members. It is well that we are of moderate means, else should we be doing those same things too, whereof certain men and women of richer state are not ashamed, dwelling in marble, weighed down with gold, sweeping along in silk, glowing with scarlet. If the ferruginous powder glisteneth on their eye-brow, or the fictitious colour gloweth upon their cheeks, or the artificial ruddiness melt over their lips,----these things perhaps ye have not. But still ye have your pleasant retreats at your villas or the sea, and wines of more exquisite quality, and rich banquetings, yea old wines well-refined 5. So act, so believe, so ye but live.
19. I can bear it no longer, brethren. Daniel with his fellows, covered with sackcloth and ashes, bloodless 6 through fasting, speaketh thus: We have sinned, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly, we have transgressed Thy precepts and Thy judgments. Of Azariah also the Divine Scripture saith, Azariah stood up, and prayed; and opening his mouth made confession to God 7 with his fellows. David himself saith, Every night wash I my bed, and water my couch with my tears. But we----what of such sort do we? what like to this? I speak not of those things which we gather together in heaps, by trafficking, merchandizing, ravening; by hunting out gains abroad, and lusts at home; by doing nothing simply, giving nothing to the poor, forgiving nothing to brethren. |374 Not even those things which can be seen by the Priest, and praised by the Bishop when he witnesseth them; not even these daily duties do we observe: To weep 8, namely, in sight of the Church, to mourn our lost life in sordid garb, to fast, to pray, to fall prostrate; to refuse luxury, if one invite to the bath; to say, if one bid to a feast, "These things for the happy! I have sinned against the Lord, and am in danger of perishing eternally. What have I to do with feasting who have injured the Lord?" and besides this, to hold the poor man by the hand, to entreat the prayers of the widows, to fall down before the Priests, to ask the entreaties of the interceding Church, to essay all sooner than perish.
20. I know that some of your brethren and sisters wrap the breast in hair-cloth, lie in ashes, and study late fastings; nor yet perhaps have they so sinned. Why speak of brethren? The wild goats, we are told, know what will cure themselves. I have heard that when pierced 9 with the poisoned arrow they traverse the Cretan forests, until, plucking the stalk of the dittany, they with the poisonous 10 liquid of the healing juice expel from their bodies the ejected darts. We repel the fiery darts of the devil with no juice of penance, with no plant of confession. The swallow 11 knoweth how by her own swallow-wort to give sight to her blinded young. We cure the lost light of the mind by no root of severe discipline. Lo! man like neither the goat, nor the swallow, is jealous of his own blindness and malady!
21. Now, brethren, consider what we promised at the close, what reward, or contrariwise what end will follow these works. The Spirit of the Lord threateneth delicate sinners who do not penance, saying, They received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them the working of delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. Also the Apocalypse thus speaketh of the harlot, How much |375 she hath glorified herself, and lived deliriously, so much torment and sorrow give her. And the Apostle Paul saith, Not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance. But after thy hardness treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the Day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
22. Fear then, most dearly beloved, these righteous judgments. Leave off error. Condemn delicate living. The last time is now hastening on. Darkness and hell are opening their enlarged bosoms for the wicked. After the punishment of souls in time, everlasting punishment is reserved also for the revivified bodies. Let no one believe as to the heart of Tityus, or the vulture of the Poets! The eternal fire, itself for itself, renews the substance of the regenerated bodies 12. Listen, if ye believe not. The force of the waters raging in the fire shall be recruited by the punishment which feeds it. If 13 ye draw back from the torture of confession, remember hell, which confession shall extinguish for you. Estimate its force even from things visible; for some few petty outlets of it do wear away the mightiest mountains with their subterranean fires. Thence do the Sicilian 14 Aetna and the Campanian Vesuvius boil with unwearied volumes of flame; and to prove to us the eternity of judgment, they are cleft asunder, they are devoured, and yet do they never end.
23. Consider in the Gospel the rich man, as yet suffering under the tortures of the soul only. What then shall be those exceeding tortures of the restored bodies? What gnashing of teeth therein? What weeping? Remember, brethren, there is no confession in the grave; nor can penance then be assigned, when the season for penitence is exhausted. Hasten whilst ye are alive, whilst ye are on the way with your adversary. Lo! we fear the fires of this world, and we shrink back from the iron claws of tortures. |376 Compare with them the hands of ever-during torturers, and the forked flames which never die!
24. By the faith of the Church, by mine own anxiety, by the souls of all in common, I adjure and intreat you, brethren, not to be ashamed in this work, not to be slack to seize, as soon as ye may, the proffered remedies of salvation; to bring your souls down by mourning, to clothe the body with sackcloth, to sprinkle it with ashes, to macerate yourselves by fasting, to wear yourselves with sorrow, to gain the aid of the prayers of many. In proportion as ye have not been sparing in your own chastisement, will God spare you. For He is merciful and long-suffering, of great pity, and repenteth Him against the evil He hath inflicted 15. Behold! I promise, I engage, if ye return to your Father with true satisfaction, erring no more, adding nothing to former sins, saying also some humble and mournful words, as, Father, we have sinned before Thee, and are no more worthy to be called Thy sons; straightway shall leave you both that filthy herd, and the unseemly food of husks. Straightway on your return shall the robe be put upon you, and the ring adorn you, and your Father's embrace again receive you. Lo! He saith Himself, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that he turn from his way and live. And again He saith, Shall they fall, and not arise? Shall he turn away, and not return? And the Apostle saith, God is able to make him stand.
25. The Apocalypse also threateneth the seven Churches unless they should repent. Nor would He indeed threaten the impenitent, unless He pardoned the penitent. God Himself also saith, Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent. And again, When thou shalt return and mourn, then shalt thou be saved, and know where thou hast been. And let no one so despair of the vileness of a sinful soul, as to believe that God hath no longer need of him. The Lord willeth not that one of us should perish. |377 Even those of little worth, and the least are sought after. If ye believe not, see. Lo! in the Gospel the piece of silver is sought after, and when found is shewn unto the neighbours. The poor sheep, although to be carried back on His lowly-stooping shoulders, is not burdensome to the Shepherd. Over one sinner that repenteth the Angels in heaven rejoice, and the celestial choir is glad. Come, then, thou sinner; cease not to ask! Thou seest where there is joy over thy return!
[Selected footnotes only]
1. a The Heathen new-year's profligacies were so entitled, (see Du Cange v. Cervulus,) against which this treatise was written. Litanies and fasts were appointed in the Church to repress them. (see ib.) The work is mentioned, by S. Jerome de vir. ill. c. 106.
2. f Dei Sancta. See on Tert. de Spect. c. 25. p. 214. n. n. Oxf. Tr.
3. i imitated from Tert. de Poenit. fin. p. 369. Oxf. Tr.
4. k exomologesin facit. see Tert. l. c. p. 364. and Note L.
5. k See Tert. de Poen. c. 11. p. 367.
6. l See, of Christians, on Tert. Apol. c. 40. p. 87. n. z.
7. m Dan. 3, 25. (Song of 3 Children, beg.) not LXX. nor Vulg. but so quoted in S. Cypr. de Laps. §. 19. p. 173. Oxf. Tr.
8. n See Tert. de Poen. c. 9.
9. o Tert. de Poen. fin. p. 369.
10. p "The juice [of the dittany], drunk with wine, is of benefit to those bitten by venomous animals. But such is the power of the plant, that even its smell will drive away, its touch will destroy, venomous animals." Dioscorides de Mater. Med. iii. 34. ed. Sprengel, (furnished by a medical friend.)
11. q Tert. l. c.
12. r Tert. Apol. c. 48. p. 102.
13. s Tert. de Poen. c. ult. p. 368. The very words are in part retained.
14. t V. has Aetna Siculus, which may be a trace of the right reading. The Edd. have vel Lisaniculus. Bal. ad Cypr. p. 568. (quoted by Gall.) makes the same correction from an old Carthusian Ms. and does not notice the difference of gender as a difficulty. A scribe perhaps conformed it to "et Vesuvius" which follows,
15. u et qui sententiam flectat adversus malitiam irrogatam. Joel 2, 13. so quoted by S. Cypr. Ep. 55. §. 18. de taps. §. ult. p. 176. de bono Pat. §. 2. p. 252. Lucif. Cal. de reg. Apost. p. 220. c. (ap. Sabat.) Vict. Tun. de Poen. App. S. Ambr. ii. 593. (ib.).
DISCOURSE ON BAPTISM
THE FAITHFUL AND THE CATECHUMENS.
[Translated by the Rev. C. H. Collyns, M.A., Student of Christ Church.]
1. It is my wish to explain after what manner we are born in Baptism, and after what manner we are renewed. I shall speak indeed, brethren, in His own words, lest perchance on account of the beauty of my sentences, ye should believe that I take pleasure in my style, and that ye may be able to comprehend a mysterious subject. And would that I could inculcate it upon you. I seek not glory: for glory belongeth to God Alone. My only anxiety is my concern for you, and especially for these Candidates for Baptism, if in any wise it may be possible for us to comprehend the examination of so great happiness. I shall therefore shew what Heathenism was previously, what Faith bestows, what indulgence Baptism grants. And if this shall so sink into your hearts, as I feel it, ye will judge, brethren, that no preaching ever yielded us more fruit.
2. Learn then, dearly beloved, in what death man was placed before Baptism. Ye know that assuredly of old, how Adam was returned to his earthly origin; what condemnation imposed upon him the law of eternal death; and this death had dominion over all his posterity, as being held under this one law, over the whole race from Adam to Moses. But through Moses one only people was chosen, the seed that is of Abraham, if they had been able to keep the commands of righteousness. Meanwhile we all were held under sin, that we might eat the fruits of death: appointed to feed on husks |379 and to keep swine, that is to filthy works, by wicked augels, whose dominion allowed us neither to do nor to know righteousness. For our very condition 1 compelled us to obey such masters. How we were delivered from these powers and from this death, now listen.
3. When Adam sinned, (as I have mentioned,) the Lord then saying, Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shall return, he was assigned unto death. This assignment was transmitted to the whole race, for all sinned, nature herself now impelling them, as saith the Apostle, As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Sin therefore reigned, in whose bonds we were dragged, as it were captives unto death, death, that is, eternal. But this sin, before the time of the Law, was not even understood, as saith the Apostle, Until the Law was, sin in the world was not accounted, that is, was not seen; at the coming of the Law, it revived. For it was made manifest, that it might be seen; but to no purpose, for no one hardly kept it. For the Law said, Thou shall not commit adultery, thou shall not kill, thou shall not covet, yet concupiscence with all vices still continued. So then before the Law this sin slew man with a concealed, under the Law, with a drawn, sword. What hope therefore had man? Without the Law he perished, because he could not see sin, and under the Law, because he ran into that very sin which he saw. Who could free him from death? Hear the Apostle, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Grace 2 (he saith) through our Lord Jesus Christ.
4. But what is grace? The remission of sin, that is, a free gift. For grace is a free gift. Christ therefore, coming and taking upon Him the nature of man, first presented before God this very human nature pure from the power of sin and innocent. Isaiah saith, Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. And of Him again, Who did no sin, |380 neither was guile found in His mouth. Under this guardianship of innocence when Christ first undertook the defence of man in the very flesh of sin, forthwith that father of the disobedience of sin, who had once deceived our first parents, began to be excited, to be troubled, to tremble. For he was to be overcome by the loosening of that law by which alone he had retained possession of man, or could retain it. He arms himself therefore for a spiritual contest with the Immaculate, and first he attacks Him with that artifice with which he had overcome Adam in Paradise, under the pretence of dignity; and as if perplexed about His heavenly power, he saith, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread; that so ashamed or unwilling to conceal that He was the Son of God, He might fulfil the commands of the tempter. Behold still he is not silent, suggesting that if He would cast Himself down from above, He would be received in the hands of angels, to whom The Father had entrusted that on their hands they should bear Him up, lest by any means He should dash His foot against a stone; that so, while the Lord wished to prove that He it was of Whom the Father had given this command, He might do what the tempter urged. Last of all the serpent being now crushed, as if he were now giving up, promises Him those very kingdoms of the world, which he had taken from the first man: that so whilst the Advocate of man believes that he has overcome, He by receiving the empire (which He was to recover,) might incline towards the dignity offered by the Evil One, and so at last sin. But in all these attacks the Enemy is overcome, and destroyed by the heavenly power, as saith the Prophet unto the Lord, That thou mightest still the enemy, and the avenger. For I shall behold the heavens, the works of Thy fingers.
5. The Devil ought now to have yielded. But nevertheless he ceaseth not yet. He suborns with his wonted snares, and stimulates with rage the Scribes and Pharisees and all that band of wicked men. They, therefore, after various arts and lying devices of the heart, in which serpent-like they thought to deceive the Lord by professions of fealty, when they |381 prevailed nothing, at last attacked Him with open violence and a most cruel kind of suffering; that so through the indignity of the thing, or the pain of punishment, He might either do or say something unrighteous, and thus destroy the human nature which He bore, and His soul be left in hell, which had one law to retain the sinner. For the sting of death is sin. Christ therefore endured, and did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth, as we have said, not then even when He was led as a victim,. This was to conquer, to be condemned without sin! For the Devil had received over sinners the power which he claimed for himself over the Immaculate One; and thus he himself was overcome; decreeing that against the Holy One which was not allowed him by the law that he had received 3. Whence saith the Prophet to the Lord, That Thou mightest be justified in Thy saying, and clear when Thou art judged 4. And thus, as the Apostle saith, Having led principalities in triumph, Christ condemned sin in the flesh, nailing it to His Cross and blotting out the hand-writing of death 5. Thence it was that God left not His soul in hell, nor suffered His Holy One to see corruption. Thence it was that having trodden under-foot the stings of death He rose again on the third day in the flesh, reconciling it to God, and restoring it to immortality, having overcome and blotted out sin.
6. But if He only conquered, what conferred He on others? Hear briefly. The sin of Adam had passed on the whole race. For by one man (as saith the Apostle) sin |382 entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men. Therefore also the righteousness of Christ must needs pass over to the whole race; and as Adam by sin destroyed his race, so must Christ by righteousness give life to all His race. This the Apostle urges, saying, For as by the disobedience of one, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous. That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life.
7. Some one will here object. "But the sin of Adam deservedly passed on his posterity, because they were born of him. And are we then born of Christ, that we can be saved for His sake?" Cease to have carnal thoughts. And now shall ye see in what wise we are born of Christ as of our parent. In these last days Christ took a soul 6 with the flesh from Mary. This He came to save. This He left not in hell. This He joined to His Spirit and made His own. And this is the marriage of the Lord, joined together to one flesh, that according to that great sacrament, might be these two in one flesh, Christ and the Church. From this marriage is born the Christian people, the Spirit of the Lord coming from above; and straightway the heavenly seed being poured upon and mingled with the substance of our souls, we grow in the bowels of our mother, and coming forth from her womb are made alive in Christ. Whence the Apostle, The first Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit. Thus Christ begetteth in the Church by His Priests, as says the same Apostle, For in Christ Jesus have I begotten you. And so the seed of Christ, that is, the Spirit of God produces, by the hands of the Priests, the new man conceived in the womb of our Mother, and received at the birth of the font, faith presiding over the marriage rite. For neither will he seem to be engrafted into the Church, who hath not believed, nor he to be born again of Christ, who hath not himself received the Spirit. We must believe therefore that we can be born. For so saith Philip, If thou believest . . . thou mayest. Christ therefore must be received that He may beget, for |383 thus saith the Apostle John, As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God. But these things cannot otherwise be fulfilled except by the Sacrament of the Laver, and of the Chrism, and of the Bishop. For by the Laver sins are washed away, by Chrism the Holy Spirit is poured out, but both these we obtain at the hand and the mouth of the Bishop. And so the whole man is born again and renewed in Christ, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead, even so we also should walk in newness of life; that is, that having laid aside the errors of our former life, the serving of idols, cruelty, fornication, wantonness, and all other vices of flesh and blood, we should through the Spirit follow new ways in Christ, faith, modesty, innocence, chastity. And as we bore the image of the earthy, so also should we bear His, Who is from Heaven, for the first man is of the earth, earthy; the Second from heaven, heavenly. This if we do, most beloved, we shall die no more. Although we be dissolved in this body, we shall live in Christ, as He Himself saith, He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. We are sure indeed, and that on the testimony of the Lord, that both Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the Saints of God are alive. For of these very men saith the Lord, They all live unto Him, for God is not the God of the dead but of the living. And the Apostle saith of himself, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain; I could wish to depart and be with Christ. And again, Whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord; for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8. This is what, we believe, dearly beloved. But if in this life only we have hope, then are we of all men the most miserable. The life of this world, cattle, and wild beasts, and birds, as yourselves see, have in common with us, or even longer. That is peculiar to man, which Christ hath given through His Spirit, that is, life, eternal; yet only if we now sin no more. For as death is gained by wickedness, is avoided by goodness; so life is lost by wickedness, is retained by goodness. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Before all other things, my little ones, remember, that once (as we said above) all nations were given over to the princes |384 and powers of darkness, now are set free through the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ. He it is, He it is Who redeemed us, forgiving us all sins, as saith the Apostle, blotting out the hand-writing of disobedience that was against us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His Cross, putting off the flesh, He made a shew of the powers openly, triumphing over them in Himself. He set them free, who were bound, and burst our chains in sunder, as David had said; The Lord raiseth them that are cast down. The Lord looseth the prisoners, the Lord giveth sight to the blind. And again, Thou hast broken my bonds in sunder. I will offer to Thee the Sacrifice of thanksgiving. Freed therefore from our bonds, when through the Sacrament of Baptism we come unto the Sign of the Lord, we renounce the Devil and all his angels, whom before we served, that we should now serve them no longer, being delivered by the Blood and Name of Christ. But if after this any one forgetful of himself and ignorant of his redemption, return again to the serving of Angels, and to the weak and beggarly elements of the world; he shall be bound again by his old fetters and chains, that is, by the bonds of sin, and his last state shall be worse than his first. For the Devil shall bind him more strongly, as if overtaken in flight, and Christ shall not now be able to suffer for him; for, Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more. Therefore, dearly beloved, we are washed once, once are set free, are once admitted into the kingdom of heaven; once is that, blessed is he whose unrighteousness is forgiven, and whose sin is covered. Hold mightily what ye have received; keep it. blessedly, sin no more. Preserve yourselves pure and unspotted from that time even to the Day of the Lord. Great and boundless are the rewards granted unto the faithful, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have they entered into the heart of man. These rewards that ye may receive, obtain by the labours of righteousness and spiritual vows!
1. b res ipsa. R., apparently, servitus ipsa, in the same sense, the slavery perpetuated itself; being slaves, we could not but remain slaves, and all our actions enslaved us the more.
2. c Gratia, i.e. Dei. according to the reading of D. E. Vulg. S. Ambr. S. Aug. &c. see Scholz.
3. f "What is that righteousness whereby the Devil was conquered? What, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ? And how was he conquered? Because when he found in Him nothing worthy of death, he yet slew Him. And so it is just that the debtors whom he held should be set free, believing in Him Whom without any debt to shew." S. Aug. de Trin. xiii. 14. see others ap. Petav. de Incarn. ii. 5. 10. sqq.
4. g These words are so quoted by S. Aug. ad loc. as having their exactest and deepest fulfilment in our Lord; "Thou Alone, justly judgest, art unjustly judged, Who hast the power to lay down Thy life, and hast the power to take it again. Thou prevailest then, when Thou art judged." He is followed by S. Greg. M. in 7. Ps. Poen. ad loc. as also (quoted by Lorin. ad loc.) Gaud. Brix. S. 12. Isid. de Pass. Dom. c. 25. p. 554.
5. h This rendering occurs in Tert. de Pudic. c. 19. It maybe an explanation of what the Vulg. now has, "decreti," tou~ do&gmatoj Vel. (in the sing, for toi=j do&masin ) Two old Lat. Mss. ap. Sabat. have "delicti." as S. Pac. §. ult. has "inobauditionis," which may be a comment, as S. Hil. (de Trin. ix. 10.) quoting "chirographum in sententiis," paraphrases "chir. legis peccati," in reference to his own words, §. 7. and S. Iren. 5. 17. 3. has "chirographum debiti nostri," in reference to "debita nostra" just before.
6. l against the Arians who, as well as Apollinaris, denied that our Lord had a human soul, see Petav. de Inc. i. 5, 5. and add ib. v. 11.