THE EPISTLES OF CYPRIAN

EPISTLE LII THROUGH LIX

TO FORTUNATUS AND HIS OTHER COLLEAGUES, CONCERNING THOSE WHO HAD BEEN OVERCOME BY TORTUES.

ARGUMENT.--CYPRIAN BEING CONSULTED BY HIS COLLEAGUES, WHETHER CERTAIN LAPSED PERSONS WHO HAD BEEN OVERPOWERED BY TORTURE SHOULD BE ADMITTED TO COMMUNION, REPLIES, THAT INASMUCH AS THEY HAD ALREADY REPENTED FOR THE SPACE OF THREE YEARS, HE THOUGHT THEY SHOULD BE RECEIVED; BUT AS AFTER THE FESTIVAL OF EASTER THERE WOULD BE A COUNCIL OF BISHOPS WITH HIM, HE WOULD THEN CONSIDER THE MATTER WITH THEM.

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

2. And indeed, in respect of my own opinion, I think that the Lord's mercy will not be wanting to those who are known to have stood in the ranks of battle, to have confessed the name,(1) to have overcome the violence of the magistrates and the rush of the raging populace with the persistency of unshaken faith, to have suffered imprisonment, to have long resisted, amidst the threats of the proconsul and the warring of the surrounding people, torments that wrenched and tore them with protracted repetition; so that in the last moment to have been vanquished by the infirmity of the flesh, may be extenuated by the plea of preceding deserts. And it may be sufficient for such to have lost their glory, but that we ought not, moreover, to close the place of pardon to them, and deprive them of their Father's love and of our communion; to whom we think it may be sufficient for entreating the mercy of the Lord, that for three years continually and sorrowfully, as you write, they have lamented with excessive penitential mourning. Assuredly I do not think that peace is incautiously and over-hastily granted to those, who by the bravery of their warfare, have not, we see, been previously wanting to the battle; and who, if the struggle should come on anew, might be able to regain their glory. For when it was decided in the council that penitents in peril of sickness should be assisted, and have peace granted to them, surely those ought to precede in receiving peace whom we see not to have fallen by weakness of mind, but who, having engaged in the conflict, and being wounded, have not been able to sustain the crown of their confession through weakness of the flesh; especially since, in their desire to die, they were not permitted to be slain, but the tortures wrenched their wearied frames long enough, not to conquer their faith, which is unconquerable, but to exhaust the flesh, which is weak.

3. Since, however, you have written for me to give full consideration to this matter with many of my colleagues; and so great a subject claims greater and more careful counsel from the conference of many; and as now almost all, during the first celebrations of Easter, are dwelling at home with their brethren: when they shall have completed the solenmity to be celebrated among their own people, and have begun to come to me, I will consider it more at large with each one, so that a decided opinion, weighed in the council of many priests, on the subject on which you have consulted me, may be established among us, and may be written to you. I bid you, dearest brethren, ever heartily farewell.(2)

EPISTLE LIII.(3)

TO CORNELIUS, CONCERNING GRANTING PEACE TO THE LAPSED.

ARGUMENT.--CYPRIAN ANNOUNCES THIS DECREE OF THE BISHOPS IN THE NAME OF THE WHOLE SYNOD TO FATHER CORNELIUS; AND THEREFORE THIS LETTER IS NOT SO MUCH THE LETTER OF CYPRIAN HIMSELF, AS THAT OF THE ENTIRE AFRICAN SYNOD.(4)

Cyprian, Liberalis, Caldonius, Nicomedes, Caecilius, Junius, Marrutius, Felix, Successus, Faustinus, Fortunatus, Victor, Saturninus, another Saturninus, Rogatianus, Tertullus, Lucianus, Eutyches, Amplus, Sattius, Secundinus, another Saturninus, Aurelius, Priscus, Herculanus, Victoricus, Quintus, Honoratus, Montanus, Hortensianus, Verianus, Iambus, Donatus, Pompeius, Polycarpus, Demetrius, another Donatus, Privatianus, another Fortunatus, Rogatus and Monulus, to Cornelius their brother,(5) greeting.(6)

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

2. For we must comply with fitting intimations and admonitions, that the sheep may not be deserted in danger by the shepherds, but that the whole flock may be gathered together into one place, and the Lord's army may be arrived for the contest of the heavenly warfare. For the repentance of the mourners was reasonably prolonged for a more protracted time, help only being afforded to the sick in their departure, so long as peace and tranquillity prevailed, which permitted the long postponement of the tears of the mourners, and late assistance in sickness to the dying. But now indeed peace is necessary, not for the sick, but for the strong; nor is communion to he granted by us to the dying, but to the living, that we may not leave those whom we stir up and exhort to the battle unarmed and naked, but may fortify them with the protection of Christ's body and blood. And, as the Eucharist is appointed for this very purpose that it may be a safeguard to the receivers, it is needful that we may arm those whom we wish to be safe against the adversary with the protection of the Lord's abundance. For how do we teach or provoke them to shed their blood in confession of His name. if we deny to those who are about to enter on the warfare the blood of Christ? Or how do we make them fit for the cup of martyrdom, if we do not first admit them to drink, in the Church, the cup of the Lord(1) by the right of communion?

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

4. Nor let any one say, "that he who accepts martyrdom is baptized in his own blood, and peace is not necessary to him from the bishop, since he is about to have the peace of his own glory, and about to receive a greater reward from the condescension of the Lord." First of all, he cannot be fitted for martyrdom who is not armed for the contest by the Church; and his spirit is deficient which the Eucharist received does not raise and stimulate. For the Lord says in His Gospel: "But when they deliver you up, take no thought what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you."(2) Now, since He says that the Spirit of the Father speaks in those who are delivered up and set in the confession of His name, how can he be found prepared or fit for that confession who has not first, in the reception of peace, received the Spirit of the Father, who, giving strength to His servants, Himself speaks and confesses in us? Then, besides--if, having forsaken everything that he has, a man shall flee, and dwelling in hiding-places and in solitude, shall fall by chance among thieves, or shall die in fever and in weakness, will it not be charged upon us that so good a soldier, who has forsaken all that he hath, and contemning his house, and his parents, and his children, has preferred to follow his Lord, dies without peace and without communion? Will not either inactive negligence or cruel hardness be ascribed to us in the day of judgment, that, pastors though we are, we have neither been willing to take care of the sheep trusted and committed to us in peace, nor to arm them in battle? Would not the charge be brought against us by the Lord, which by His prophet He utters and says? "Behold, ye consume the milk, and ye clothe you with the wool, and ye kill them that are fed; but ye feed not my flock. The weak have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye comforted that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which strayed, neither have ye sought that which was lost, and that which was strong ye wore out with labour. And my sheep were scattered, because there were no shepherds: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field; and there was none who sought after them, nor brought them back. Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my sheep of their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding my sheep; neither shall they feed them any more: and I will deliver my sheep from their mouth, and I will feed them with judgment."(1)

5. Lest, then, the sheep committed to us by the Lord be demanded back from our mouth, wherewith we deny peace, wherewith we oppose to them rather the severity of human cruelty than the benignity of divine and paternal love; we have determined(2) by the suggestion of the Holy Spirit and the admonition of the Lord, conveyed by many and manifest visions, because the enemy is foretold and shown to be at hand, to gather within the camp the soldiers of Christ, to examine the cases of each one, and to grant peace to the lapsed, yea, rather to furnish arms to those who are about to fight. And this, we trust, will please you in contemplation of the paternal mercy. But if there be any (one) of our colleagues who, now that the contest is urgent, thinks that peace should not be granted to our brethren and sisters, he shall give an account to the Lord in the day of judgment, either of his grievous rigour or of his inhuman hardness. We, as befitted our faith and charity and solicitude, have laid before you what was in our own mind, namely, that the day of contest has approached, that a violent enemy will soon rise up against us, that a struggle is coming on, not such as it has been, but much more serious and fierce. This is frequently shown to us from above; concerning this we are often admonished by the providence and mercy of the Lord, of whose help and love we who trust in Him may be secure, because He who in peace foretells to His soldiers that the battle will come, will give to them when they are warring victory in the encounter. We bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell.

EPISTLE LIV.(3)

TO CORNELIUS, CONCERNING FORTUNATUS AND FELICISSIMUS, OR AGAINST THE HERETICS.

ARGUMENT.--CYPRIAN CHIEFLY WARNS CORNELIUS IN THIS LETTER NOT TO HEAR THE CALUMNIES OF FELICISSIMUS AND FORTUNATUS AGAINST HIM, AND NOT TO BE FRIGHTENED BY THEIR THREATS, BUT TO BE OF A BRAVE SPIRIT, AS BECOMES GOD'S PRIESTS IN OPPOSITION TO HERETICS; NAMELY, THOSE WHO, AFTER THE CUSTOM PREVAILING AMONG HERETICS, BEGAN THEIR HERESY AND SCHISMS WITH THE CONTEMPT OF ONE BISHOP IN THE CHURCH.(4)

1. I have read your letter, dearest brother, which you sent by Saturus our brother the acolyte, abundantly full of fraternal love and ecclesiastical discipline and priestly reproof; in which you signified that Felicissimus,(5) no new enemy of Christ, but long ago excommunicated for his very many and grave crimes, and condemned not only by my judgment, but also by that of very many of my fellow-bishops, has been rejected by you there, and that when he came attended by a band and faction of desperadoes, he was driven from the Church with the full rigour with which it behoves a bishop to act. From which Church long ago he was driven, with others like himself, by the majesty of God and the severity of Christ our Lord and Judge; that the author of schism and disagreement, the fraudulent user of money entrusted to him, the violator of virgins, the destroyer and corrupter of many marriages, should not, by the dishonour of his presence and his immodest and incestuous contact, violate further the spouse of Christ, hitherto uncorrupt, holy, modest.

2. But yet, when I read your other letter, brother, which you subjoined to your first one, I was considerably surprised at observing that you were in some degree disturbed by the threats and terrors of those who had come, when, according to what you wrote, they had attacked and threatened you with the greatest desperation, that if you would not receive the letters which they had brought, they would read them publicly, and would utter many base and disgraceful things, and such as were worthy of their mouth. But if the matter is thus, dearest brother, that the audacity of the most wicked men is to be dreaded, and that what evil men cannot do rightly and equitably, they may accomplish by daring and desperation, there is an end of the vigour of the episcopacy, and of the sublime and divine power of governing the Church; nor can we continue any longer, or in fact now be Christians, if it is come to this, that we are to be afraid of the threats or the snares of outcasts. For both Gentiles and Jews threaten, and heretics and all those, of whose hearts and minds the devil has taken possession, daily attest their venomous madness with furious voice. We are not, therefore, to yield because they threaten; nor is the adversary and enemy on that account greater than Christ, because he claims for himself and assumes so much in the world. There ought to abide with us, dearest brother, an immoveable strength of faith; and against all the irruptions and onsets of the waves that roar against us, a steady and unshaken courage should plant itself as with the fortitude and mass of a resisting rock. Nor does it matter whence comes the terror or the danger to a bishop, who lives subject to terrors and dangers, and is nevertheless made glorious by those very terrors and dangers. For we ought not to consider and regard the mere threats of the Gentiles or of the Jews, when we see that the Lord Himself was deserted by His brethren, and was betrayed by him whom He Himself had chosen among His apostles; that also in the beginning of the world it was none other than a brother who slew righteous Abel, and an angry brother pursued the fleeing Jacob, and the youthful Joseph was sold by the act of his brethren. In the Gospel also we read that it was foretold that our foes should rather be of our own household, and that they who have first been associated in the sacrament of unity(1) shall be they who shall betray one another. It makes no difference who delivers up or who rages, since God permits those to be delivered up whom He appoints to be crowned. For it is no ignominy to us to suffer from our brethren what Christ suffered, nor is it glory to them to do what Judas did. But what insolence it is in them, what swelling and inflated and vain boasting on the part of these threateners, there to threaten me in my absence, when here they have me present in their power! I do not fear their reproaches with which they daily wound themselves and their own life; I do not tremble at their clubs and stones and swords, which they brandish with parricidal words: as far as lies in their power such men are homicides before God. Yet they are not able to slay unless the Lord have allowed them to slay; and although I must die but once, yet they daily slay me by their hatred, their words, and their villanies.

3. But, dearest brother, ecclesiastical discipline is not on that account to be forsaken, nor priestly censure to be relaxed, because we are disturbed with reproaches or are shaken with terrors; since Holy Scripture meets and warns us, saying, "But he who presumes and is haughty, the man who boasts of himself, who hath enlarged his soul as hell, shall accomplish nothing."(2) And again: "And fear not the words of a sinful man, for his glory shall be dung and worms. To-day he is lifted up, and to-morrow he shall not be found, because he is turned into his earth, and his thought shall perish."(3) And again: "I have seen the wicked exalted, and raised above the cedars of Libanus: I went by, and, lo, he was not; yea, I sought him, and his place was not found."(4) Exaltation, and puffing up, and arrogant and haughty boastfulness, spring not from the teaching of Christ who teaches humility, but from the spirit of Antichrist, whom the Lord rebukes by His prophet, saying, "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will place my throne above the stars of God: I will sit on a lofty mountain, above the lofty mountains to the north: I will ascend above the clouds; I will be like the Most High."(5) And he added, saying, "Yet thou shalt descend into hell, to the foundations of the earth; and they that see thee shall wonder at thee."(6) Whence also divine Scripture threatens a like punishment to such in another place, and says, "For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is injurious and proud, and upon every one that is lifted up, and lofty."(7) By his mouth, therefore, and by his words, is every one at once betrayed; and whether he has Christ in his heart, or Antichrist, is discerned in his speaking, according to what the Lord says in His Gospel, "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things."(1) Whence also that rich sinner who implores help from Lazarus, then laid in Abraham's bosom, and established in a place of comfort, while he, writhing in torments, is consumed by the heats of burning flame, suffers most punishment of all parts of his body in his mouth and his tongue, because doubtless in his mouth and his tongue he had most sinned.(2)

4. For since it is written, "Neither shall revilers inherit the kingdom of God,"(3) and again the Lord says in His Gospel, "Whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou fool; and whosoever shall say, Raca, shall be in danger of the Gehenna of fire,"(4) how can they evade the rebuke of the Lord the avenger, who heap up such expressions, not only on their brethren, but also on the priests, to whom is granted such honour of the condescension of God, that whosoever should not obey his priest, and him that judgeth here for the time, was immediately to be slain? In Deuteronomy the Lord God speaks, saying, "And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest or to the judge, whosoever he shall be in those days, that man shall die; and all the people, when they hear, shall fear, and shall do no more wickedly."(5) Moreover, to Samuel when he was despised by the Jews, God says; "They have not despised thee, but they have despised me."(6) And the Lord also in the Gospel says, "He that heareth you, heareth me, and Him that sent me; and he that rejecteth you, rejecteth me; and he that rejecteth me, rejecteth Him that sent me."(7) And when he had cleansed the leprous man, he said, "Go, show thyself to the priest."(8) And when afterwards, in the time of His passion, He had received a buffet from a servant of the priest, and the servant said to Him, "Answerest thou the high priest so?"(9) the Lord said nothing reproachfully against the high priest, nor detracted anything from the priest's honour; but rather asserting His own innocence, and showing it, He says, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?"(10) Also subsequently, in the Acts of the Apostles, the blessed Apostle Paul, when it was said to him, "Revilest thou God's priest?"(11)--although they had begun to be sacrilegious, and impious, and bloody, the Lord having already been crucified, and had no longer retained anything of the priestly honour and authority--yet Paul, considering the name itself, however empty, and the shadow, as it were, of the priest, said, "I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy, people."(12)

5. When, then, such and so great examples, and many others, are precedents whereby the priestly authority and power by the divine condescension is established, what kind of people, think you, are they who, being enemies of the priests, and rebels against the Catholic Church, are frightened neither by the threatening of a forewarning Lord, nor by the vengeance of coming judgment? For neither have heresies arisen, nor have schisms originated, from any other source than from this, that God's priest is not obeyed; nor do they consider that there is one person for the time priest in the Church, and for the time judge in the stead of Christ;(13) whom, if, according to divine teaching, the whole fraternity should obey, no one would stir up anything against the college of priests; no one, after the divine judgment, after the suffrage of the people, after the consent of the co-bishops, would make himself a judge, not now of the bishop, but of God. No one would rend the Church by a division of the unity of Christ.(14) No one, pleasing himself, and swelling with arrogance, would found a new heresy, separate and without, unless any one be of such sacrilegious daring and abandoned mind, as to think that a priest is made without God's judgment, when the Lord says in His Gospel, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them does not fall to the ground without the will of your Father."(15) When He says that not even the least things are done without God's will, does any one think that the highest and greatest things are done in God's Church either without God's knowledge or permission, and that priests--that is, His stewards--are not ordained by His decree? This is not to have faith, whereby we live; this is not to give honour to God, by whose direction and decision we know and believe that all things are ruled and governed. Undoubtedly there are bishops made, not by the will of God, but they are such as are made outside of the Church--such as are made contrary to the ordinance and tradition of the Gospel, as the Lord Himself in the twelve prophets asserts, saying, "They have set up a king for themselves, and not by me."(16) And again: "Their sacrifices are as the bread of mourning; all that eat thereof shall be polluted."(1) And the Holy Spirit also cries by Isaiah, and says, "Woe unto you, children that are deserters. Thus saith the Lord, Ye have taken counsel, but not of me; and ye have made a covenant, but not of my Spirit, that ye may add sin to sin."(2)

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

7. Nor ought it, my dearest brother, to disturb any one who is faithful and mindful of the Gospel, and retains the commands of the apostle who forewarns us; if in the last days certain persons, proud, contumacious, and enemies of God's priests, either depart from the Church or act against the Church, since both the Lord and His apostles have previously foretold that there should be such. Nor let any one wonder that the servant placed over them should be forsaken by some, when His own disciples forsook the Lord Himself, who performed such great and wonderful works, and illustrated the attributes of God the Father by the testimony of His doings. And yet He did not rebuke them when they went away, nor even severely threaten them; but rather, turning to His apostles, He said, "Will ye also go away?"(3) manifestly observing the law whereby a man left to his own liberty, and established in his own choice, himself desires for himself either death or salvation. Nevertheless, Peter,(4) upon whom by the same Lord the Church had been built, speaking one for all, and answering with the voice of the Church, says, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we believe, and are sure that Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God:"(5) signifying, doubtless, and showing that those who departed from Christ perished by their own fault, yet that the Church which believes on Christ, and holds that which it has once learned, never departs from Him at all, and that those are the Church who remain in the house of God; but that, on the other hand, they are not the plantation planted by God the Father, whom we see not to be established with the stability of wheat, but blown about like chaff by the breath of the enemy scattering them, of whom John also in his epistle says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, no doubt they would have continued with us."(6) Paul also warns us, when evil men perish out of the Church, not to be disturbed, nor to let our faith be lessened by the departure of the faithless. "For what," he says, "if some of them have departed from the faith? Hath their unbelief made the faith of God of none effect? God forbid! For God is true, but every man a liar."(7)

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

9. But that I did not immediately write to you, dearest brother, about Fortunatus, that pseudo-bishop, constituted by a few, and those, inveterate heretics, the matter was not such as ought at once and hastily to be brought under your notice, as if it were great or to be feared; especially since you already know well enough the name of Fortunatus, who is one of the five presbyters who some time back deserted from the Church, and were lately excommunicated by the judgment of our fellow-bishops,(1) men both numerous and entitled to the greatest respect, who on this matter wrote to you last year. Also you would recognise Felicissimus, the standard-bearer of sedition, who himself also is comprised in those same letters long ago written to you by our co-bishops,(1) and who not only was excommunicated by them here, but moreover was lately driven from the Church by you there. Since I was confident that these things were in your knowledge, and knew for certain that they abode in your memory and discipline, I did not think it necessary that the follies of heretics should be told you quickly and urgently. For indeed it ought not to pertain to the majesty or the dignity of the Catholic Church, to concern itself with what the audacity of heretics and schismatics may attempt among themselves. For Novatian's party is also said to have now made Maximus the presbyter--who was lately sent to us as an ambassador for Novatian, and rejected from communion with us--their false bishop in that place; and yet I had not written to you about this, since all these things are slighted by us; and I had sent to you lately the names of the bishops appointed there, who with wholesome and sound discipline govern the brethren in the Catholic Church.(2) And this certainly, therefore, it was decided by the advice of all of us to write to you, that there might be found a short method of destroying error and of finding out truth, that you and our colleagues might know to whom to write, and reciprocally, from whom it behoved you to receive letters; but if any one, except those whom we have comprised in our letter, should dare to write to you, you would know either that he was polluted by sacrifice, or by receiving a certificate, or that he was one of the heretics, and therefore perverted and profane. Nevertheless, having gained an opportunity, by means of a very great friend and a clerk, I have written to you by Felicianus the acolyte, whom you had sent with Perseus our colleague, among other matters which were to be brought under your notice from their party, about that Fortunatus also. But while our brother Felicianus is either retarded there by the wind or is detained by receiving other letters from us, he has been forestalled by Felicissimus hastening to you. For thus wickedness always hastens, as if by its speed it could prevail against innocence.

10. But I intimated to you, my brother, by Felicianus, that there had come to Carthage, Privatus, an old heretic in the colony of Lambesa, many years ago condemned for many and grave crimes by the judgment of ninety bishops, and severely remarked upon in the letters of Fabian and Donatus, also our predecessors, as is not hidden from your knowledge;(3) who, when he said that he wished to plead his cause before us in the council which we held on the Ides of May then past, and was not permitted, made for himself that Fortunatus a pretended bishop, worthy of his college. And there had also come with him a certain Felix, whom he himself had formerly appointed a pseudo-bishop outside the Church, in heresy. But Jovinus also, and Maximus, were present as companions with the proved heretic,(4) condemned for wicked sacrifices and crimes proved against them by the judgment of nine bishops, our colleagues, and again excommunicated also by many of us last year in a council. And with these four was also joined Repostus of Suturnica, who not only fell himself in the persecution, but cast down by sacrilegious persuasion the greatest part of his people. These five, with a few who either had sacrificed, or had evil consciences, concurred in desiring Fortunatus as a false bishop for themselves, that so, their crimes agreeing, the ruler should be such as those who are ruled.

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

12. Nor does it behove me, dearest brother, to do like things to them, and to go through in my discourse those things which they have committed, and still commit, since we have to consider what it becomes God's priests to utter and to write. Nor ought grief to speak among us so much as shame, and I ought not to seem provoked rather to heap together reproaches than crimes and sins. Therefore I am silent upon the deceits practised in the Church. I pass over the conspiracies and adulteries, and the various kinds of crimes. That circumstance alone, however, of their wickedness, in which the cause is not mine, nor man's, but God's, I do not think must be withheld; that from the very first day of the persecution, while the recent crimes of the guilty were still hot, and not only the devil's altars, but the very hands and the mouths of the lapsed, were still smoking with the abominable sacrifices, they did not cease to communicate with the lapsed, and to interfere with their repentance. God cries, "He that sacrificeth unto any gods, save unto the Lord only, shall be rooted out."(1) And in the Gospel the Lord says, "Whosoever shall deny me, him will I deny."(2) And in another place the divine indignation and anger are not silent, saying, "To them hast thou poured out a drink-offering, and to them hast thou offered a meat-offering. Shall I not be angry with these things? saith the Lord.''(3) And they interfere that God may not be entreated, who Himself declares that He is angry; they interpose that Christ may not be besought with prayers and satisfactions, who professes that him who denies Him He will deny.

13. In the very time of persecution we wrote letters on this matter, but we were not attended to. A full council being held, we decreed, not only with our consent, but also with our threatening, that the brethren should repent,(4) and that none should rashly grant peace to those who did not repent. And those sacrilegious persons rush with impious madness against God's priests, departing from the Church; and raising their parricidal arms against the Church, in order that the malice of the devil may consummate their work,(5) take pains that the divine clemency may not heal the wounded in His Church. They corrupt the repentance of the wretched men by the deceitfulness of their lies, that it may not satisfy an offended God--that he who has either blushed or feared to be a Christian before, may not afterwards seek Christ his Lord, nor he return to the Church who had departed from the Church. Efforts are used that the sins may not be atoned for with just satisfactions and lamentations, that the wounds may not be washed away with tears. True peace is done away by the falsehood of a false peace; the healthful bosom of a mother is closed by the interference of the stepmother, that weeping and groaning may not be heard from the breast and from the lips of the lapsed. And beyond this, the lapsed are compelled with their tongues and lips, in the Capitol(6) wherein before they had sinned, to reproach the priests--to assail with contumelies and with abusive words the confessors and virgins, and those righteous men who are most eminent for the praise of the faith, and most glorious in the Church. By which things, indeed, it is not so much the modesty and the humility and the shame of our people that are smitten, as their own hope and life that are lacerated. For neither is it he who hears, but he who utters the reproach, that is wretched; nor is it he who is smitten by his brother, but he who smites a brother, that is a sinner under the law; and when the guilty do a wrong to the innocent, they suffer the injury who think that they are doing it. Finally, their mind is smitten by these things, and their spirit is dull, and their sense of right is estranged: it is God's wrath that they do not perceive their sins, lest repentance should follow as it is written, "And God gave them the spirit of torpor,"(7) that is, that they may not return and be healed, and be made whole after their sins by just prayers and satisfactions. Paul the apostle in his epistle lays it down, and says, "They received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."(8) The highest degree of happiness is, not to sin; the second, to acknowledge our sins. In the former, innocence flows pure and unstained to preserve us; in the latter, there comes a medicine to heal us. Both of these they have lost by offending God, both because the grace is lost which is received from the sanctification of baptism, and repentance comes not to their help, whereby the sin is healed. Think you, brother, that their wickednesses against God are trifling, their sins small and moderate--since by their means the majesty of an angry God is not besought, since the anger and the fire and the day of the Lord is not feared--since, when Antichrist is at hand the faith of the militant people is disarmed by the taking away of the power of Christ and His fear? Let the laity see to it how they may amend this.(1) A heavier labour is incumbent on the priests in asserting and maintaining the majesty of God, that we seem not to neglect anything in this respect, when God admonishes us, and says, "And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessing."(2) Is honour, then, given to God when the majesty and decree of God are so condemned, that when He declares that He is indignant and angry with those who sacrifice, and when He threatens eternal penalties and perpetual punishments, it is proposed by the sacrilegious, and said, Let not the wrath of God be considered, let not the judgment of the Lord be feared, let not any knock at the Church of Christ; but repentance being done away with, and no confession of sin being made, the bishops being despised and trodden under foot, let peace be proclaimed by the presbyters in deceitful words; and lest the lapsed should rise up, or those placed without should return to the Church, let communion be offered to those who are not in communion?

14. To these also it was not sufficient that they had withdrawn from the Gospel, that they had taken away from the lapsed the hope of satisfaction and repentance, that they had taken away those involved in frauds or stained with adulteries, or polluted with the deadly contagion of sacrifices, lest they should entreat God, or make confession of their crimes in the Church, from all feeling and fruit of repentance; that they had set up(3) outside for themselves--outside the Church, and opposed to the Church, a conventicle of their abandoned faction, when there had flowed together a band of creatures with evil consciences, and unwilling to entreat and to satisfy God. After such things as these, moreover, they still dare--a false bishop having been appointed for them by, heretics--to set sail and to bear letters from schismatic and profane persons to the throne of Peter, and to the chief church whence priestly unity takes its source;(4) and not to consider that these were the Romans whose faith was praised in the preaching of the apostle, to whom faithlessness could have no access.(5) But what was the reason of their coming and announcing the making of the pseudo-bishop in opposition to the bishops? For either they are pleased with what they have done, and persist in their wickedness; or, if they are displeased and retreat, they know whither they may return. For, as it has been decreed by all of us(6)--and is equally fair and just--that the case of every one should be heard there where the crime has been committed; and a portion of the flock has been assigned to each individual pastor, which he is to rule and govern, having to give account of his doing to the Lord; it certainly behoves those over whom we are placed not to run about nor to break up the harmonious agreement of the bishops with their crafty and deceitful rashness, but there to plead their cause, where they may be able to have both accusers and witnesses of their crime; unless perchance the authority of the bishops constituted in Africa seems to a few desperate and abandoned men to be too little,(7) who have already judged concerning them, and have lately condemned, by the gravity of their judgment, their conscience bound in many bonds of sins. Already their case has been examined, already sentence concerning them has been pronounced; nor is it fitting for the dignity of priests to be blamed for the levity of a changeable and inconstant mind, when the Lord teaches and says, "Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay."(8)

15. If the number of those who judged concerning them last year be reckoned with the presbyters and deacons, then there were more present to the judgment and hearing than are those very same persons who now seem to be associated with Fortunatus. For you ought to know, dearest brother, that after he was made a pseudo-bishop by the heretics, he was at once deserted by almost all. For those to whom in past time delusions were offered, and deceitful words were given, to the effect that they were to return to the Church together; after they saw that a false bishop was made there, learned that they had been fooled and deceived, and are daily returning and knocking at the door of the Church; while we, meanwhile, by whom account is to be given to the Lord, are anxiously weighing and carefully examining who ought to be received and admitted into the Church. For some are either hindered by their crimes to such a degree, or they are so obstinately and firmly opposed by their brethren, that they cannot be received at all except with offence and risk to a great many, For neither must some putridities be so collected and brought together, that the parts which are sound and whole should be injured; nor is that pastor serviceable or wise who so mingles the diseased and affected sheep with his flock as to contaminate the whole flock with the infection of the clinging evil. (Do not pay attention to their number.(1) For one who fears God is better than a thousand impious sons, as the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying, "O son, do not delight in ungodly sons, though they multiply to thee, except the fear of the Lord be with them."(2)) Oh, if you could, dearest brother, be with us here when those evil and perverse men return from schism, you would see what labour is mine to persuade patience to our brethren, that they should calm their grief of mind, and consent to receive and heal the wicked. For as they rejoice and are glad when those who are endurable and less guilty return, so, on the other hand, they murmur and are dissatisfied as often as the incorrigible and violent, and those who are contaminated either by adulteries or by sacrifices, and who, in addition to this, are proud besides, so return to the Church, as to corrupt the good dispositions within it. Scarcely do I persuade the people; nay, I extort it from them, that they should suffer such to be admitted. And the grief of the fraternity is made the more just, from the fact that one and another who, notwithstanding the opposition and contradiction of the people, have been received by my facility, have proved worse than they had been before, and have not been able to keep the faith of their repentance, because they had not come with true repentance.

16. But what am I to say of those who have now sailed to you with Felicissimus, guilty of every crime, as ambassadors sent by Fortunatus the pseudo-bishop, bringing to you letters as false as he himself is false, whose letters they bring, as his conscience is full of sins, as his life is execrable, as it is disgraceful; so that, even if they were in the Church, such people ought to be expelled from the Church. In addition, since they have known their own conscience, they do not dare to come to us or to approach to the I threshold of the Church, but wander about, without her, through the province, for the sake of circumventing and defrauding the brethren; and now, being sufficiently known to all, and everywhere excluded for their crimes, they sail thither also to you. For they cannot have the face to approach to us, or to stand before us, since the crimes which are charged upon them by the brethren are most grievous and grave. If they wish to undergo our judgment, let them come. Finally, if they can find any excuse or defence. let us see what thought they have of making satisfaction, what fruit of repentance they bring forward. The Church is neither closed here to any one, nor is the bishop denied to any. Our patience, and facility, and humanity are ready for those who come. I entreat all to return into the Church. I beg all our fellow-soldiers to be included within the camp of Christ, and the dwelling-place of God the Father. I remit everything. I shut my eyes to many things, with the desire and the wish to gather together the brotherhood. Even those things which are committed against God I do not investigate with the full judgment of religion. I almost sin myself, in remitting sins(3) more than I ought. I embrace with prompt and full love those who return with repentance, confessing their sin with lowly and unaffected atonement.(4)

17. But if there are some who think that they can return to the Church not with prayers but with threats, or suppose that they can make a way for themselves, not with lamentation and atonements, but with terrors, let them take it for certain that against such the Church of the Lord stands closed; nor does the camp of Christ, unconquered and firm with the Lord's protection, yield to threats. The priest of God holding fast the Gospel and keeping Christ's precepts may be slain; he cannot be conquered. Zacharias, God's priest, suggests and furnishes to us examples of courage and faith, who, when he could not be terrified with threats and stoning, was slain in the temple of God, at the same time crying out and saying, what we also cry out and say against the heretics, "Thus saith the Lord, Ye have forsaken the ways of the Lord, and the Lord will forsake you."(5) For because a few rash and wicked men forsake the heavenly and wholesome ways of the Lord, and not doing holy things are deserted by the Holy Spirit, we also ought not therefore to be unmindful of the divine tradition, so as to think that the crimes of madmen are greater than the judgments of priests; or conceive that human endeavours can do more to attack, than divine protection avails to defend.

18. Is the dignity of the Catholic Church, dearest brother, to be laid aside, is the faithful and uncorrupted majesty of the people placed within it,(1) and the priestly authority and power also, all to be laid aside for this, that those who are set without the Church may say that they wish to judge concerning a prelate in the Church? heretics concerning a Christian? wounded men about a whole man? maimed concerning a sound man? lapsed concerning one who stands fast? guilty concerning their judge? sacrilegious men concerning a priest? What is left but that the Church should yield to the Capitol, and that, while the priests depart and remove the Lord's altar, the images and idols should pass over with their altars into the sacred and venerable assembly of our clergy, and a larger and fuller material for declaiming against us and abusing us be afforded to Novatian; if they who have sacrificed and have publicly denied Christ should begin not only to be entreated and admitted without penance done, but, moreover, in addition, to domineer by the power of their terror?

19. If they desire peace, let them lay aside their arms. If they make atonement, why do they threaten? or if they threaten, let them know that they are not feared by God's priests. For even Antichrist, when he shall begin to come, shall not enter into the Church because he threatens; neither shall we yield to his arms and violence, because he declares that he will destroy us if we resist. Heretics arm us when they think that we are terrified by their threatenings; nor do they cast us down on our face, but rather they lift us up and inflame us, when they make peace itself worse to the brethren than persecution. And we desire, indeed, that they may not fill up with crime what they speak in madness, that they who sin with perfidious and cruel words may not also sin in deeds. We pray and beseech God, whom they do not cease to provoke and exasperate, that He will soften their hearts, that they may lay aside their madness, and return to soundness of mind; that their breasts, covered over with the darkness of sins, may acknowledge the light of repentance, and that they may rather seek that the prayers and supplications of the priest may be poured out on their behalf, than themselves pour out the blood of the priest. But if they continue in their madness, and cruelly persevere in these their parricidal deceits and threats, no priest of God is so weak, so prostrate, and so abject, so inefficient by the weakness of human infirmity, as not to be aroused against the enemies and impugners of God by strength from above; as not to find his humility and weakness animated by the vigour and strength of the Lord who protects him. It matters nothing to us by whom, or when we are slain, since we shall receive from the Lord the reward of our death and of our blood. Their concision(2) is to be mourned and lamented, whom the devil so blinds, that, without considering the eternal punishments of Gehenna, they endeavour to imitate the coming of Antichrist, who is now approaching.

20. And although I know, dearest brother, from the mutual love which we owe and manifest one towards another, that you always read my letters to the very distinguished clergy who preside with you there,(3) and to your very holy and large congregation,(4) yet now I both warn and ask you to do by my request what at other times you do of your own accord and courtesy; that so, by the reading of this my letter, if any contagion of envenomed speech and of pestilent propagation has crept in there, it may be all purged out of the ears and of the hearts of the brethren, and the sound and sincere affection of the good may be cleansed anew from all the filth of heretical disparagement.

21. But for the rest, let our most beloved brethren firmly decline, and avoid the words and conversations of those whose word creeps onwards like a cancer; as the apostle says, "Evil communications corrupt good manners."(5) And again: "A man that is an heretic, after one admonition, reject: knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself."(6) And the Holy Spirit speaks by Solomon, saying, "A perverse man carrieth perdition in his mouth; and in his lips he hideth a fire."(7) Also again, he warneth us, and says, "Hedge in thy ears with thorns, and hearken not to a wicked tongue."(8) And again: "A wicked doer giveth heed to the tongue of the unjust; but a righteous man does not listen to lying lips."(9) And although I know that our brotherhood there,(10) assuredly fortified by your foresight, and besides sufficiently cautious by their own vigilance, cannot be taken nor deceived by the poisons of heretics, and that the teachings and precepts of God prevail with them only in proportion as the fear of God is in them; yet, even although needlessly, either my solicitude or my that Antichrist is near, prepares the soldiers for the battle, not only by the urgency of his speech and his words, but by the example of his faith and courage.

3. We understand, dearest brother, and we perceive with the whole light of our heart, the salutary and holy plans of the divine majesty, whence the sudden persecution lately arose there--whence the secular power suddenly broke forth against the Church of Christ and the bishop Cornelius, the blessed martyr, and all of you; so that, for the confusion and beating down of heretics, the Lord might show[1] which was the Church --which is its one bishop chosen by divine appointment--which presbyters are associated with the bishop in priestly honour--which is the united and true people of Christ, linked together in the love of the Lord's flock--who they were whom the enemy would harass; whom, on the other hand, the devil would spare as being his own. For Christ's adversary does not persecute and attack any except Christ's camp and soldiers; heretics, once prostrated and made his own, he despises and passes by. He seeks to cast down those whom he sees to stand.

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

EPISTLE LVIII.[2]

TO FIDUS, ON THE BAPTISM OF INFANTS.

ARGUMENT.--IN THIS LETTER CYPRIAN IS NOT ESTABLISHING ANY NEW DECREE; BUT KEEPING MOST FIRMLY THE FAITH OF THE CHURCH, FOR THE CORRECTION OF THOSE WHO THOUGHT THAT AN INFANT MUST NOT BE BAPTIZED BEFORE THE EIGHTH DAY AFTER ITS BIRTH, HE DECREED WITH SOME OF HIS FELLOW-BISHOPS, THAT AS SOON AS IT WAS BORN IT MIGHT PROPERLY BE BAPTIZED. HE TAKES OCCASION, HOWEVER, TO REFUSE TO RECALL THE PEACE THAT HAD BEEN GRANTED TO ONE VICTOR, ALTHOUGH IT HAD BEEN GRANTED AGAINST THE DECREES OF SYNODS CONCERNING THE LAPSED; BUT FORBIDS THERAPIUS THE BISHOP TO DO IT IN OTHER CASES.[3]

1. Cyprian, and others his colleagues who were present in council, in number sixty-six, to Fidus their brother, greeting. We have read your letter, dearest brother, in which you intimated concerning Victor, formerly a presbyter, that our colleague Therapius, rashly at a too early season, and with over-eager haste, granted peace to him before he had fully repented, and had satisfied the Lord God, against whom he had sinned; which thing rather disturbed us, that it was a departure from the authority of our decree,[4] that peace should be granted to him before the legitimate and full time of satisfaction, and without the request and consciousness of the people--no sickness rendering it urgent, and no necessity compelling it. But the judgment being long weighed among us, it was considered sufficient to rebuke Therapius our colleague for having done this rashly, and to have instructed him that he should not do the like with any other. Yet we did not think that the peace once granted in any wise by a priest s of God was to be taken away, and for this reason have allowed Victor to avail himself of the communion granted to him.

2. But in respect of the case of the infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think that one who is just born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day, we all thought very differently in our council. For in this course which you thought was to be taken, no one agreed; but we all rather judge that the mercy and grace of God is not to be refused to any one born of man. For as the Lord says in His Gospel, "The Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them,"[1] as far as we Can, We must strive that, if possible, no soul be lost. For what is wanting to him who has once been formed in the womb by the hand of God? To us, indeed, and to our eyes, according to the worldly course of days, they who are born appear to receive an increase. But whatever things are made by God, are completed by the majesty and work of God their Maker.

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

4. For, with respect to what you say, that the aspect of an infant in the first days after its birth is not pure, so that any one of us would still shudder at kissing it,[2] we do not think that this ought to be alleged as any impediment to heavenly grace. For it is written, "To the pure all things are pure."[3] Nor ought any of us to shudder at that which God hath condescended to make. For although the infant is still fresh from its birth, yet it is not such that any one should shudder at kissing it in giving grace and in making peace; since in the kiss of an infant every one of us ought for his very religions sake, to consider the still recent hands of God themselves, which in some sort we are kissing, in the man lately formed and freshly born, when we are embracing that which God has made. For in respect of the observance of the eighth day in the Jewish circumcision of the flesh, a sacrament was given beforehand in shadow and in usage; but when Christ came, it was fulfilled in truth. For because the eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath, was to be that on which the Lord should rise again, and should quicken us, and give us circumcision of the spirit, the eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath, and the Lord's day, went before in the figure; which figure ceased when by and by the truth came, and spiritual circumcision was given to us.

5. For which reason we think that no one is to be hindered from obtaining grace by that law which was already ordained, and that spiritual circumcision ought not to be hindered by carnal circumcision, but that absolutely every man is to be admitted to the grace of Christ, since Peter also in the Acts of the Apostles speaks, and says, "The Lord hath said to me that I should call no man common or unclean."[4] But if anything could hinder men from obtaining grace, their more heinous sins might rather hinder those who are mature and grown up and older. But again, if even to the greatest sinners, and to those who had sinned much against God, when they subsequently believed, remission of sins is granted--and nobody is hindered from baptism and from grace--how much rather ought we to shrink from hindering an infant, who, being lately born, has not sinned, except in that, being born after the flesh according to Adam,[5] he has contracted the contagion of the ancient death at its earliest birth, who approaches the more easily on this very account to the reception of the forgiveness of sins--that to him are remitted, not his own sins, but the sins of another.

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

EPISTLE LIX.[1]

TO THE NUMIDIAN BISHOPS, ON THE REDEMPTION OF THEIR BRETHREN FROM CAPTIVITY AMONG THE BARBARIANS.

ARGUMENT.--CYPRIAN BEGINS BY DEPLORING THE CAPTIVITY OF THE BRETHREN, OF' WHICH HE HAD HEARD FROM THE NUMIDIAN BISHOPS, AND SAYS THAT HE IS SENDING THEM A HUNDRED THOUSAND SESTERCES, CONTRIBUTED BY BRETHREN AND SISTERS AND COLLEAGUES[2]

1. Cyprian to Januarius, Maximus, Proculus, Victor, Modianus, Nemesianus, Nampulus, and Honoratus, his brethren, greeting. With excessive grief of mind, and not without tears, dearest, brethren, I have read your letter which you wrote to me from the solicitude of your love, concerning the captivity of our brethren and sisters. For who would not grieve at misfortunes of that kind, or who would not consider his brother's grief his own, since the Apostle Paul speaks, saying, "Whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member rejoice, all the members rejoice with it;"[3] and in another place he says, "Who is weak, and I am not weak?"[4] Wherefore now also the captivity of our brethren must be reckoned as our captivity, and the grief of those who are endangered is to be esteemed as our grief, since indeed there is one body of our union; and not love only, but also religion, ought to instigate and strengthen us to redeem the members of the brethren.

2. For inasmuch as the Apostle Paul says again, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"[5]--even although love urged us less to bring help to the brethren, yet in this place we must have considered that it was the temples of God which were taken captive, and that we ought not by long inactivity and neglect of their suffering to allow the temples of God to be long captive, but to strive with what powers we can, and to act quickly by our obedience, to deserve well of Christ our Judge and Lord and God. For as the Apostle Paul says, "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ,"[6] Christ is to be contemplated in our captive brethren, and He is to be redeemed from the peril of captivity who redeemed us from the peril of death; so that He who took us out of the jaws of the devil, who abides and dwells in us, may now Himself be rescued and redeemed from the hands of barbarians by a sum of money--who redeemed us by His cross and blood--who suffers these things to happen for this reason, that our faith may be tried, whether each one of us will do for another what he would wish to be done for himself, if he himself were held captive among barbarians. For who that is mindful of humanity, and reminded of mutual love, if he be a father, will not now consider that his sons are there; if he be a husband, will not think that his wife is there kept captive, with as much grief as shame for the marriage tie? But how great is the general grief among all of us, and suffering concerning the peril of virgins who are kept there, on whose behalf we must bewail not only the loss of liberty, but of modesty; and must lament the bonds of barbarians less than the violence of seducers and abominable places, lest the members dedicated to Christ, and devoted for ever in honour of continence by modest. virtue, should be sullied by the Just and contagion of the insulter.

3. Our brotherhood, considering all these things according to your letter, and sorrowfully examining, have all promptly and willingly and liberally gathered together supplies of money for the brethren, being always indeed, according to the strength of their faith, prone to the work of God, but now even more stimulated to salutary works by the consideration of so great a suffering. For since the Lord in His Gospel says, "I was sick, and ye visited me,"[7] with how much greater reward for our work will He say now, "I was captive, and ye redeemed me!" And since again He says, "I was in prison, and ye came unto me," how much more will it be when He begins to say, "I was in the dungeon of captivity, and I lay shut up and bound among barbarians, and from that prison of slavery you delivered me," being about to receive a reward from the Lord when the day of judgment shall come! Finally, we give you the warmest thanks that you have wished us to be sharers in your anxiety,[8] and in so great and necessary a work--that you have offered us fruitful fields in which we might cast the seeds of our hope, with the expectation of a harvest of the most abundant fruits which will proceed from this heavenly and saving operation. We have then sent you a sum of one hundred thousand sesterces,[9] which have been collected here in the Church over which by the Lord's mercy we preside, by the contributions of the clergy and people established with us, which you will there dispense with what diligence you may.

4. And we wish, indeed, that nothing of such a kind may happen again, and that our brethren, protected by the majesty of the Lord, may be preserved safe from perils of this kind. If, however, for the searching out of the love of our mind, and for the testing of the faith of our heart, any such thing should happen, do not delay to tell us of it in your letters, counting it for certain that our church and the whole fraternity here beseech by their prayers that these things may not happen again; but if they happen, that they will willingly and liberally render help. But that you may have in mind in your prayers our brethren and sisters who have laboured so promptly and liberally for this needful work, that they may always labour; and that in return for their good work you may present them in your sacrifices and prayers, I have subjoined the names of each one; and moreover also I have added the names of my colleagues and fellow-priests, who themselves also, as they were present, contributed some little according to their power, in their own names and the name of their people. And besides our own amount, I have intimated and sent their small sums, all of whom, in conformity with the claims of faith and charity, you ought to remember in your supplications and prayers.[1] We bid you, dearest brethren, ever heartily farewell, and remember us.

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