THE EPISTLES OF CYPRIAN

EPISTLE XXX THROUGH XXXIX

THE ROMAN CLERGY TO CYPRIAN.

ARGUMENT.--THE ROMAN CLERGY ENTER INTO THE MATTERS WHICH THEY HAD SPOKEN OF IN THE FOREGOING LETTER, MORE FULLY AND SUBSTANTIALLY IN THE PRESENT ONE; REPLYING, MOREOVER, TO ANOTHER LETTER OF CYPRIAN, WHICH IS THOUGHT NOT TO BE EXTANT, AND FROM WHICH THEY QUOTE A FEW WORDS. THEY THANK CYPRIAN FOR HIS LETTERS SENT TO THE ROMAN CONFESSORS AND MARTYRS.(5)

1. To Father(6) Cyprian, the presbyters and deacons abiding at Rome, greeting. Although a mind conscious to itself of uprightness, and relying on the vigour of evangelical discipline, and made a true witness to itself in the heavenly decrees, is accustomed to be satisfied with God for its only judge, and neither to seek the praises nor to dread the charges of any other, yet those are worthy of double praise, who, knowing that they owe their conscience to God alone as the judge, yet desire that their doings should be approved also by their brethren themselves. It is no wonder, brother Cyprian, that you should do this, who, with your usual modesty and inborn industry, have wished that we should be found not so much judges of, as sharers in, your counsels, so that we might find praise with you in your doings while we approve them; and might be able to be fellow-heirs with you in your good counsels, because we entirely accord with them. In the same way we are all thought to have laboured in that in which we are all regarded as allied in the same agreement of censure and discipline.

2. For what is there either in peace so suitable, or in a war of persecution so necessary, as to maintain the due severity of the divine rigour? Which he who resists, will of necessity wander in the unsteady course of affairs, and will be tossed hither and thither by the various and uncertain storms of things; and the helm of counsel being, as it were, wrenched from his hands he will drive the ship of the Church's safety among the rocks; so that it would appear that the Church's safety can be no otherwise secured, than by repelling any who set themselves against it as adverse waves, and by maintaining the ever-guarded rule of discipline itself as if it were the rudder of safety in the tempest. Nor is it now but lately that this counsel has been considered by us, nor have these sudden appliances against the wicked but recently occurred to us; but this is read of among us as the ancient severity, the ancient faith, the ancient discipline,(1) since the apostle would not have published such praise concerning us, when he said "that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world"(2) unless already from thence that vigour had borrowed the roots of faith from those times; from which praise and glory it is a very great crime to have become degenerate.(3) For it is less disgrace never to have attained to the heraldry of praise, than to have fallen from the height of praise; it is a smaller crime not to have been honoured with a good testimony, than to have lost the honour of good testimonies; it is less discredit to have lain without the announcement of virtues, ignoble without praise, than, disinherited of the faith,(4) to have lost our proper praises. For those things which are proclaimed to the glory of any one, unless they are maintained by anxious and careful pains, swell up into the odium of the greatest crime.(5)

3. That we are not saying this dishonestly, our former letters have proved, wherein we have declared our opinion to you with a very plain statement, both against those who had betrayed themselves as unfaithful by the unlawful presentation of wicked certificates, as if they thought that they would escape those esnaring nets of the devil; whereas, not less than if they had approached to the wicked altars,(6) they were held fast by the very fact that they had testified to him; and against those who had used those certificates when made, although they had not been present when they were made, since they had certainly asserted their presence by ordering that they should be so written. For he is not guiltless of wickedness who has bidden it to be done; nor is he unconcerned in the crime with whose consent it is publicly spoken of, although it was not committed by him. And since the whole mystery(7) of faith is understood to be contained in the confession of the name of Christ, he who "seeks for deceitful tricks to excuse himself, has denied Christ; and he who wants to appear to have satisfied either edicts or laws put forth against the Gospel, has obeyed those edicts by the very fact by which he wished to appear to have obeyed them. Moreover, also, we have declared our faith and consent against those, too, who had polluted their hands and their mouths with unlawful sacrifices, whose own minds were before polluted; whence also their very hands and mouths were polluted also.(8) Far be it from the Roman Church to slacken her vigour with so profane a facility, and to loosen the nerves of her severity by overthrowing the majesty of faith; so that, when the wrecks of your ruined brethren are still not only lying, but are falling around, remedies of a too hasty kind, and certainly not likely to avail, should be afforded for communion; and by a false mercy, new wounds should be impressed on the old wounds of their transgression; so that even repentance should be snatched from these wretched beings, to their greater overthrow. For where can the medicine of indulgence profit, if even the physician himself, by intercepting repentance, makes easy way for new dangers, if he only hides the wound, and does not suffer the necessary remedy of time to close the scar? This is not to cure, but, if we wish to speak the truth, to slay.(9)

4. Nevertheless, you have letters agreeing with our letters from the confessors, whom the dignity of their confession has still shut up here in prison, and whom, for the Gospel contest, their faith has once already crowned in a glorious confession; letters wherein they have maintained the severity of the Gospel discipline, and have revoked the unlawful petitions, so that they might not be a disgrace to the Church. Unless they had done this, the ruins of Gospel discipline(10) would not easily be restored, especially since it was to none so fitting to maintain the tenor of evangelical vigour unimpaired, and its dignity, as to those who had given themselves up to be tortured and cut to pieces by raging men on behalf of the Gospel, that they might not deservedly forfeit the honour of martyrdom, if, on the occasion of martyrdom, they had wished to be betrayers of the Gospel. For he who does not guard what he has, in that condition whereon he possesses it, by violating the condition whereon he possesses it, loses what he possessed.

5. In which matter we ought to give you also, and we do give you, abundant thanks, that you have brightened the darkness of their prison by your letters; that you came to them in whatever way you could enter; that you refreshed their minds, robust in their own faith and confession, by your addresses and letters; that, following up their felicities with worthy praises, you have inflamed them to a much more ardent desire of heavenly glory; that you urged them forward; that you animated, by the power of your discourse, those who, as we believe and hope, will be victors by and by; so that although all may seem to come from the faith of those who confess, and from the divine mercy, yet they seem in their martyrdom to have become in some sort debtors to you. But once more, to return to the point whence our discourse appears to have digressed, you shall find subjoined the sort of letters that we also sent to Sicily; although upon us is incumbent a greater necessity of delaying this affair; having, since the departure of Fabian of most noble memory, had no bishop appointed as yet, on account of the difficulties of affairs and times, who can arrange all things of this kind, and who can take account of those who are lapsed, with authority and wisdom. However, what you also have yourself declared in so important a matter, is satisfactory to us, that the peace of the Church must first be maintained; then, that an assembly for counsel being gathered together, with bishops, presbyters, deacons, and confessors, as well as with the laity who stand fast,(1) we should deal with the case of the lapsed. For it seems extremely invidious and burdensome to examine into what seems to have been committed by many, except by the advice of many; or that one should give a sentence when so great a crime is known to have gone forth, and to be diffused among so many; since that cannot be a firm decree which shall not appear to have had the consent of very many.(2) Look upon almost the whole world devastated, and observe that the remains and the ruins of the fallen are lying about on every side, and consider that therefore an extent of counsel is asked for, large in proportion as the crime appears to be widely propagated. Let not the medicine be less than the wound, let not the remedies be fewer than the deaths, that in the same manner as those who fell, fell for this reason that they were too incautious with a blind rashness, so those who strive to set in order this mischief should use every moderation in counsels, lest anything done as it ought not to be, should, as it were, be judged by all of no effect.

6. Thus, with one and the same counsel, with the same prayers and tears, let us, who up to the present time seem to have escaped the destruction of these times of ours, as well as those who appear to have fallen into those calamities of the time, entreat the divine majesty, and ask peace for the Church's name. With mutual prayers, let us by turns cherish, guard, arm one another; let us pray for the lapsed,(3) that they may be raised up; let us pray for those who stand, that they may not be tempted to such a degree as to be destroyed; let us pray that those who are said to have fallen may acknowledge the greatness of their sin, and may perceive that it needs no momentary nor over-hasty cure; let us pray that penitence may follow also the effects of the pardon of the lapsed; that so, when they have Understood their own crime, they may be willing to have patience with us for a while, and no longer disturb the fluctuating condition of the Church, lest they may seem themselves to have inflamed an internal persecution for us, and the fact of their unquietness be added to the heap of their sins. For modesty is very greatly fitting for them in whose sins it is an immodest mind that is condemned. Let them indeed knock at the doors, but assuredly let them not break them down; let them present themselves at the threshold of the church, but certainly let them not leap over it; let them watch at the gates of the heavenly camp, but let them be armed with modesty, by which they perceive that they have been deserters; let them resume the trumpet of their prayers, but let them not therewith sound a point of war; let them arm themselves indeed with the weapons of modesty, and let them resume the shield of faith, which they had put off by their denial through the fear of death, but let those that are even now armed believe that they are armed against their foe, the devil, not against the Church, which grieves over their fall. A modest petition will much avail them; a bashful entreaty, a necessary humility, a patience which is not careless. Let them send tears as their ambassadors for their sufferings; let groanings, brought forth from their deepest heart, discharge the office of advocate, and prove their grief and shame for the crime they have committed.

7. Nay, if they shudder at the magnitude of the guilt incurred; if with a truly medicinal hand they deal with the deadly wound of their heart and conscience and the deep recesses of the subtle mischief, let them blush even to ask; except, again, that it is a matter of greater risk and shame not to have besought the aid of peace. But let all this be in the sacrament;(1) in the law of their very entreaty let consideration be had for the time; let it be with downcast entreaty, with subdued petition, since he also who is besought ought to be bent, not provoked; and as the divine clemency ought to be looked to, so also ought the divine censure; and as it is written, "I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me,"(2) so it is written, "Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father and before His angels."(3) For God, as He is merciful, so He exacts obedience to His precepts, and indeed carefully exacts it; and as He invites to the banquet, so the man that hath not a wedding garment He binds hands and feet, and casts him out beyond the assembly of the saints. He has prepared heaven, but He has also prepared held He has prepared places of refreshment, but He has also prepared eternal punishment. He has prepared the light that none can approach unto, but He has also prepared the vast and eternal gloom of perpetual night.

8. Desiring to maintain the moderation of this middle course in these matters, we for a long time, and indeed many of us, and, moreover, with some of the bishops who are near to us and within reach, and some whom, placed afar off, the heat of the persecution had driven out from other provinces,(5) have thought that nothing new was to be done before the appointment of a bishop l but we believe that the care of the lapsed must be moderately dealt with, so that, in the meantime, whilst the grant of a bishop is withheld from us(6) by God, the cause of such as are able to bear the delays of postponement should be kept in suspense; but of such as impending death does not suffer to bear the delay, having repented and professed a detestation of their deeds with frequency; if with tears, if with groans, if with weeping they have betrayed the signs of a grieving and truly penitent spirit, when there remains, as far as man can tell, no hope of living; to them, finally, such cautious and careful help should be ministered, God Himself knowing what He will do with such, and in what way He will examine the balance of His judgment; while we, however, take anxious care that neither ungodly men should praise our smooth facility, nor truly penitent men accuse our severity as cruel. We bid you, most blessed and glorious father, ever heartily farewell in the Lord; and have us in memory.(7)

EPISTLE XXXI.(8)

TO THE CARTHAGINIAN CLERGY, ABOUT THE LETTERS SENT TO ROME, AND RECEIVED THENCE.

ARGUMENT.--THE CARTHAGINIAN CLERGY ARE REQUESTED TO TAKE CARE THAT THE LETTERS OF THE ROMAN CLERGY AND CYPRIAN'S ANSWER ARE COMMUNICATED.

Cyprian to the presbyters and deacons, his brethren, greeting. That you, my beloved brethren, might know what letters I have sent to the clergy acting(9) at Rome, and what they have replied to me, and, moreover, what Moyses and Maximus, the presbyters, and Rufinus and Nicostratus, the deacons, and the rest of the confessors that with them are kept in prison, replied likewise to my letters, I have sent you copies to read. Do you take care, with as much diligence as you can, that what I have written, and what they have replied, be made known to our brethren. And, moreover, if any bishops from foreign places,(10) my colleagues, or presbyters, or deacons, should be present, or should arrive among you, let them hear all these matters from you; and if they wish to transcribe copies of the letters and to take them to their own people, let them have the opportunity of transcribing them; although I have, moreover, bidden Saturus the reader, our brother, to give liberty of copying them to any individuals who wish it; so that, in ordering, for the present, the condition of the Church in any manner, an agreement, one and faithful, may be observed by all. But about the other matters which were to be dealt with, as I have also written to several of my colleagues, we will more fully consider them in a common council, when, by the Lord's permission, we shall begin to assemble into one place. I bid you, brethren, beloved and longed-for, ever heartily farewell. Salute the brotherhood. Fare ye well.

EPISTLE XXXII.(11)

TO THE CLERGY AND PEOPLE, ABOUT THE ORDINATION OF AURELIUS AS A READER.

ARGUMENT.--CYPRIAN TELLS THE CLERGY AND PEOPLE THAT AURELIUS THE CONFESSOR HAS BEEN ORDAINED A READER BY HIM, AND COMMENDS, BY THE WAY, THE CONSTANCY OF HIS VIRTUE AND HIS MIND, WHEREBY HE WAS EVEN DESERVING OF A HIGHER DEGREE IN THE CHURCH.

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

2. Such a one, to be estimated not by his years but by his deserts, merited higher degrees of clerical ordination and larger increase. But, in the meantime, I judged it well, that he should begin with the office of reading; because nothing is more suitable for the voice which has confessed the Lord in a glorious utterance, than to sound Him forth in the solemn repetition of the divine lessons; than, after the sublime words which spoke out the witness of Christ, to read the Gospel of Christ whence martyrs are made; to come to the desk after the scaffold; there to have been conspicuous to the multitude of the Gentiles, here to be beheld by the brethren; there to have been heard with the wonder of the surrounding people, here to be heard with the joy of the brotherhood. Know, then, most beloved brethren, that this man has been ordained by me and by my colleagues who were then present. I know that you will both gladly welcome these tidings, and that you desire that as many such as possible may be ordained in our church. And since joy is always hasty, and gladness can bear no delay, he reads on the Lord's day, in the meantime, for me; that is, he has made a beginning of peace, by solemnly entering on his office of a reader.(2) Do you frequently be urgent in supplications, and assist my prayers by yours, that the Lord's mercy favouring us may soon restore both the priest(3) safe to his people, and the martyr for a reader with the priest. I bid you, beloved brethren in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ, ever heartily farewell.

EPISTLE XXXIII.(4)

TO THE CLERGY AND PEOPLE, ABOUT THE ORDINATION OF CELERINUS AS READER.

ARGUMENT.--THIS LETTER IS ABOUT THE SAME IN PURPORT WITH THE PRECEDING, EXCEPT THAT HE LARGELY COMMENDS THE CONSTANCY OF CELERINUS IN HIS CONFESSION OF THE FAITH. MOREOVER, THAT BOTH OF THESE LETTERS WERE WRITTEN DURING HIS RETREAT, IS SUFFICIENTLY INDICATED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CONTEXT.

1. Cyprian to the presbyters and deacons, and to the whole people, his brethren in the Lord, greeting. The divine benefits, beloved brethren, should be acknowledged and embraced, wherewith the Lord has condescended to embellish and illustrate His Church in our times by granting a respite to His good confessors and His glorious martyrs, that they who had grandly confessed Christ should afterwards adorn Christ's clergy in ecclesiastical ministries. Exult, therefore, and rejoice with me on receiving my letter, wherein I and my colleagues who were then present mention to you Celerinus, our brother, glorious alike for his courage and his character, as added to our clergy, not by human recommendation, but by divine condescension; who, when he hesitated to yield to the Church, was constrained by her own admonition and exhortation, in a vision by night, not to refuse our persuasions; and she had more power, and constrained him, because it was not right, nor was it becoming, that he should be without ecclesiastical honour, whom the Lord honoured with the dignity of heavenly glory.(5)

2. This man was the first in the struggle of our days; he was the leader among Christ's soldiers; he, in the midst of the burning beginnings of the persecution, engaged with the very chief and author of the disturbance, in conquering with invincible firmness the adversary of his own conflict.(1) He made a way for others to conquer; a victor with no small amount of wounds, but triumphant by a miracle, with the long-abiding and permanent penalties of a tedious conflict. For nineteen days, shut up in the close guard of a dungeon, he was racked and in irons; but although his body was laid in chains, his spirit remained free and at liberty. His flesh wasted away by the long endurance of hunger and thirst; but God fed his soul, that lived in faith and virtue, with spiritual nourishments. He lay in punishments, the stronger for his punishments; imprisoned, greater than those that imprisoned him; lying prostrate, but loftier than those who stood; as bound, and firmer titan the links which bound him; judged, and more sublime than those who judged him; and although his feet were bound on the rack, yet the serpent was trodden on and ground down and vanquished. In his glorious body shine the bright evidences of his wounds; their manifest traces show forth, and appear on the man's sinews and limbs, worn out with tedious wasting away.(2) Great things are they--marvelIous things are they--which the brotherhood may hear of his virtues and of his praises. And should any one appear like Thomas, who has little faith in what he hears, the faith of the eyes is not wanting, so that what one hears he may also see. In the servant of God, the glory of the wounds made the victory; the memory of the scars preserves that glory.

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

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

5. In such servants the Lord rejoices; in confessors of this kind He glories,--whose way and conversation is so advantageous to the announcement of their glory, that it affords to others a teaching of discipline. For this purpose Christ has willed them to remain long here in the Church; for this purpose He has kept them safe, snatched from the midst of death,--a kind of resurrection, so to speak, being wrought on their behalf; so that, while nothing is seen by the brethren loftier in honour, nothing more lowly in humility, the way of life of the brotherhood s may accompany these same persons. Know, then, that these for the present are appointed readers, because it was fitting that the candle should be placed in a candlestick, whence it may give light to all, and that their glorious countenance should be established in a higher place, where, beheld by all the surrounding brotherhood, they may give an incitement of glory to the beholders. But know that I have already purposed the honour of the presbytery for them, that so they may be honoured with the same presents as the presbyters, and may share the monthly divisions(1) in equalled quantities, to sit with us hereafter in their advanced and strengthened years; although in nothing can he seem to be inferior in the qualities of age who has consummated his age by the dignity of his glory. I bid you, brethren, beloved and earnestly longed-for, ever heartily farewell.

EPISTLE XXXIV.(2)

TO THE SAME, ABOUT THE ORDINATION OF NUMIDICUS AS PRESBYTER.

ARGUMENT.--CYPRIAN TELLS THE CLERGY AND PEOPLE THAT NUMIDICUS HAS BEEN ORDAINED BY HIM PRESBYTER; AND BRIEFLY COMMENDS HIS WORTH.

Cyprian to the presbyters and deacons, and to the whole people, his brethren, very dear and longed-for, greeting. That which belongs, dear-est brethren, both to the common joy and to the greatest glory of our Church ought to be told to you; for you must know that I have been admonished and instructed by divine condescension, that Numidicus the presbyter should be appointed in the number of Carthaginian presbyters, and should sit with us among the clergy,--a man illustrious by the brightest light of confession, exalted in the honour both of virtue and of faith; who by his exhortation sent before himself an abundant number of martyrs, slain by stones and by the flames, and who beheld with joy his wife abiding by his side, burned (I should rather say, preserved) together with the rest. He himself, half consumed, overwhelmed with stones, and left for dead,--when afterwards his daughter, with the anxious consideration of affection, sought for the corpse of her father,--was found half dead, was drawn out and revived, and remained unwillingly(3) from among the companions whom he himself had sent before. But the reason of his remaining behind, as we see, was this: that the Lord might add him to our clergy, and might adorn with glorious priests the number of our presbyters that had been desolated by the lapse of some.(4) And when God permits, he shall be advanced to a larger office in his region, when, by the Lord's protection, we have come into your presence once more. In the meantime, let what is revealed be done, that we receive this gift of God with thanksgiving, hoping from the Lord's mercy more ornaments of the same kind, that so the strength of His Church being renewed, He may make men so meek and lowly to flourish in the honour of our assembly. I bid you, brethren, very dear and longed-for, ever heartily farewell.

EPISTLE XXXV.(5)

TO THE CLERGY, CONCERNING THE CARE OF THE POOR AND STRANGERS.

ARGUMENT.--HE CAUTIONS THEM AGAINST NEGLECTING THE WIDOWS, THE SICK, OR THE POOR, OR STRANGERS.

Cyprian to the presbyters and deacons, his beloved brethren, greeting. In safety, by God's grace, I greet you, beloved brethren, desiring soon to come to you, and to satisfy the wish as well of myself and you, as of all the brethren. It behoves me also, however, to have regard to the common peace, and, in the meantime, although with weariness of spirit, to be absent from you, lest my presence should provoke the jealousy and violence of the heathens, and I should be the cause of breaking the peace, who ought rather to be careful for the quiet of all. When, therefore, you write that matters are arranged, and that I ought to come, or if the Lord should condescend to intimate it to me before, then I will come to you. For where could I be better or more joyful than there where the Lord willed me both to believe and to grow up? I request that you will diligently take care of the widows, and of the sick, and of all the poor. Moreover, you may supply the expenses for strangers, if any should be indigent, from my own portion, which I have left with Rogatianus, our fellow-presbyter;(6) which portion, lest it should be all appropriated, I have supplemented by sending to the same by Naricus the acolyte another share, so that the sufferers may be more largely and promptly dealt with. I bid you, beloved brethren, ever heartily farewell; and have me in remembrance. Greet your brotherhood in my name, and tell them to be mindful of me.

EPISTLE XXXVI.(7)

TO THE CLERGY, BIDDING THEM SHOW EVERY KINDNESS TO THE CONFESSORS IN PRISON.

ARGUMENT.--HE EXHORTS HIS CLERGY THAT EVERY KINDNESS AND CARE SHOULD BE EXERCISED TOWARDS THE CONFESSORS, AS WELL TOWARDS THOSE WHO WERE ALIVE, AS THOSE WHO DIED, IN PRISON; THAT THE DAYS OF THEIR DEATH SHOULD BE CAREFULLY NOTED, FOR THE PURPOSE OF CELEBRATING THEIR MEMORY ANNUALLY; AND, FINALLY, THAT THEY SHOULD NOT FORGET THE POOR ALSO.

1. Cyprian to the presbyters and deacons, his brethren, greeting. Although I know, dearest brethren, that you have frequently been admonished in my letters to manifest all care for those who with a glorious voice have confessed the Lord, and are confined in prison; yet, again and again, I urge it upon you, that no consideration be wanting to them to whose glory there is nothing wanting. And I wish that the circumstances of the place and of my station would permit me to present myself at this time with them; promptly and gladly would I fulfil all the duties of love towards our most courageous brethren in my appointed ministry. But I beseech you, let your diligence be the representative of my duty, and do all those things which behove to be done in respect of those whom the divine condescension has rendered illustrious in such merits of their faith and virtue. Let there be also a more zealous watchfulness and care bestowed upon the bodies of all those who, although they were not tortured in prison, yet depart thence by the glorious exit of death. For neither is their virtue nor their honour too little for them also to be allied with the blessed martyrs. As far as they could, they bore whatever they were prepared and equipped to bear. He who under the eyes of God has offered himself to tortures and to death, has suffered whatever he was willing to suffer; for it was not he that was wanting to the tortures, but the tortures that were wanting to him. "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven,"(1) saith the Lord. They have confessed Him "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved,"(2) saith the Lord. They have endured and have carried the uncorrupted and unstained merits of their virtues through, even unto the end. And, again, it is written, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."(3) They have persevered in their faithfulness, and stedfastness, and invincibleness, even unto death. When to the willingness and the confession of the name in prison and in chains is added also the conclusion of dying, the glory of the martyr is consummated.

2. Finally, also, take note of their days on which they depart, that we may celebrate their commemoration among the memorials of the martyrs,(4) although Tertullus, our most faithful and devoted brother, who, in addition to the other solicitude and care which he shows to the brethren in all service of labour, is not wanting besides in that respect in any care of their bodies, has written, and does write and intimate to me the days, in which our blessed brethren in prison pass by the gate of a glorious death to their immortality; and there are celebrated here by us oblations and sacrifices for their commemorations, which things, with the Lord's protection, we shall soon celebrate with you. Let your care also (as I have already often written) and your diligence not be wanting to the poor,--to such, I mean, as stand fast in the faith and bravely fight with us, and have not left the camp of Christ; to whom, indeed, we should now show a greater love and care, in that they are neither constrained by poverty nor prostrated by the tempest of persecution, but faithfully serve with the Lord, and have given an example of faith to the other poor. I bid you, brethren beloved, and greatly longed-for, ever heartily farewell; and remember me. Greet the brotherhood in my name. Fare ye well.

EPISTLE XXXVII.(5)

TO CALDONIUS, HERCULANUS, AND OTHERS, ABOUT THE EXCOMMUNICATION OF

FELICISSIMUS.

ARGUMENT.--FELICISSIMUS, TOGETHER WITH HIS COMPANIONS IN SEDITION, IS TO BE RESTRAINED FROM THE COMMUNION OF ALL.

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

2. And since, after all these things, neither moved by the honour of my station, nor shaken by your authority and presence, but of his own impulse, disturbing the peace of the brethren he hath rushed forth with many more, and asserted himself as a leader of a faction and chief of a sedition with a hasty madness--in which respect, indeed, I congratulate several of the brethren that they have withdrawn from this boldness, and have rather chosen to consent with you, so that they may remain with the Church, their mother, and receive their stipends from the bishop who dispenses them, which, indeed, I know for certain, that others also will peaceably do, and will quickly withdraw from their rash error,--in the meantime, since Felicissimus has threatened that they should not communicate with him in death(2) who had obeyed us, that is, who communicated with us, let him receive the sentence which he first of all declared, that he may know that he is excommunicated by us; inasmuch as he adds to his frauds and rapines, which we have known by the clearest truth, the crime also of adultery, which our brethren, grave men, have declared that they have discovered, and have asseverated that they will prove; all which things we shall then judicially examine, when, with the Lord's permission, we shall assemble in one place with many of our colleagues. But Augendus also, who, considering neither his bishop nor his Church, has equally associated himself with him in this conspiracy and faction, if he should further persevere with him, let him bear the sentence which that factiou and impetuous man has provoked on himself. Moreover, whoever shall ally himself with his conspiracy and faction, let him know that he shall no• communicate in the Church with us, since of his own accord he has preferred to be separated from the Church. Read this letter of mine to our brethren, and also transmit it to Carthage to the clergy, the names being added of those who have joined themselves with Felicissimus. I bid you, beloved brethren, ever heartily farewell; and remember me. Fare ye well.

EPISTLE XXXVIII.(3)

THE LETTER OF CALDONIUS, HERCULANUS, AND OTHERS, ON THE EXCOMMUNICATION OF FELICISSIMUS WITH HIS PEOPLE.

ARGUMENT.--CALDONIUS, HERCULANUS, AND OTHERS CARRY INTO EFFECT WHAT THE PRECEDING LETTER HAD BIDDEN THEM.

Caldonius, with Herculanus and Victor, his colleagues, also with Rogatianus and Numidicus, presbyters.(4) We have rejected Felicissimus and Augendus from communion; also Repostus from among the exiles, and Irene of the Blood-stained ones;(5) and Paula the sempstress; which you ought to know from my subscription; also we have rejected Sophronius and Soliassus (budinarius),(6)--himself also one of the exiles.

EPISTLE XXXIX.(7)

TO THE PEOPLE, CONCERNING FIVE SCHISMATIC PRESBYTERS OF THE FACTION OF FELICISSIMUS.

ARGUMENT.--IN LIKE MANNER, AS IN THE EPISTLE BUT ONE BEFORE THIS, CYPRIAN TOLD THE CLERGY, SO NOW HE TELLS THE PEOPLE, THAT FELICISSIMUS IS TO BE AVOIDED, TOGETHER WITH FIVE PRESBYTERS OF HIS FACTION, WHO NOT ONLY GRANTED PEACE TO THE LAPSED WITHOUT ANY DISCRIMINATION, BUT STIRRED UP SEDITION AND SCHISM AGAINST HIMSELF.

1. Cyprian to the whole people, greeting. Although, dearest brethren, Virtius,(8) a most faithful and upright presbyter, and also Rogatianus and Numidicus, presbyters, confessors, and illustrious by the glory of the divine condescension, and also the deacons, good men and devoted to the ecclesiastical administration in all its duties, with the other ministers, afford you the full attention of their presence, and do not cease to confirm individuals by their assiduous exhortations, and, moreover, to govern and reform the minds of the lapsed by their wholesome counsels, yet, as much as I can, I admonish, and as I can, I visit you with my letters. By my letters I say, dearest brethren; for the malignity and treachery of certain of the presbyters has accomplished this, that I should not be allowed to come to you before Easter-day; since mindful of their conspiracy, and retaining that ancient venom against my episcopate, that is, against your suffrage and God's judgment, they renew their old attack upon me, and once more begin their sacrilegious machinations with their accustomed craft. And, indeed, of God's providence, neither by our wish nor desire, nay, although we were forgiving and silent, they have suffered the punishment which they had deserved; so that, not cast out by us, they of their own accord have cast themselves out. They themselves, before their own conscience, have passed sentence on themselves in accordance with your suffrages and the divine. These conspirators and evil men of their own accord have driven themselves from the Church.

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

3. But I pray you, brethren, watch against the snares of the devil, and, taking care for your own salvation, be diligently on your guard against this death-bearing fallacy. This is another persecution and another temptation. Those five presbyters are none other than the five leaders who were lately associated with the magistrates in an edict, that they might overthrow our faith, that they might turn away the feeble hearts of the brethren to their deadly nets by the prevarication of the truth. Now the same scheme, the same overturning, is again brought about by the five presbyters, linked with Felicissimus, to the destruction of salvation, that God should not be besought, and that he who has denied Christ should not appeal for mercy to the same Christ whom he had denied; that after the fault of the crime, repentance also should be taken away; and that the Lord should not be appeased through bishops and priests, but that the Lord's priests being. forsaken, a new tradition of a sacrilegious appointment should arise, contrary to the evangelical discipline. And although it was once arranged as well by us as by the confessors and the city(1) clergy, and moreover by all the bishops appointed either in our province or beyond the sea,(2) that no novelty should be introduced in respect of the case of the lapsed unless we all assembled into one place, and our counsels being compared, should decide upon a moderate sentence, tempered alike with discipline and with mercy;--against this our counsel they have rebelled, and all priestly authority and power is destroyed by factious conspiracies.

4. What sufferings do I now endure, dearest brethren, that I myself am not able to come to you at the present juncture, that I myself cannot approach you each one, that I myself cannot exhort you according to the teaching of the Lord and of His Gospel! An exile of, now, two years(3) was not sufficient, and a mournful separation from you, from your countenance, and from your sight,--continual grief and lamentation, which, in my loneliness without you, breaks me to pieces with my constant mourning, nor my tears flowing day and night, that there is not even an opportunity for the priest, whom you made with so much love and eagerness, to greet you, nor to be enfolded in your embraces. This greater grief is added to my worn spirit, that in the midst of so much solicitude and necessity I am not able myself to hasten to you, since, by the threats and by the snares of perfidious men, we are anxious that on our coming a greater tumult may not arise there; and so, although the bishop ought to be careful for peace and tranquillity in all things, he himself should seem to have afforded material for sedition, and to have embittered persecution anew. Hence, however, beloved brethren, I not only admonish but counsel you, not rashly to trust to mischievous words, nor to yield an easy consent to deceitful sayings, nor to take darkness for light, night for day, hunger for food, thirst for drink, poison for medicine, death for safety. Let not the age nor the authority deceive you of those who, answering to the ancient wickedness of the two elders;(4) as they attempted to corrupt and violate the chaste Susannah,(5) are thus also attempting, with their adulterous doctrines, to corrupt the chastity of the Church and violate the truth of the Gospel.

5. The Lord cries aloud, saying, "Hearken not unto the words of the false prophets, for the visions of their own hearts deceive them. They speak, but not out of the mouth of the Lord. They say to them that despise the word of the Lord, Ye shall have peace."(1) They are now offering peace who have not peace themselves. They are promising to bring back and recall the lapsed into the Church, who themselves have departed from the Church. There is one God, and Christ is one, and there is one Church, and one chair founded upon the rock by the word of the Lord.(2) Another altar cannot be constituted nor a new priesthood be made, except the one altar and the one priesthood. Whosoever gathereth elsewhere, scattereth. Whatsoever is appointed by human madness, so that the divine disposition is violated, is adulterous, is impious, is sacrilegious. Depart far from the contagion of men of this kind. and flee from their words, avoiding them as a cancer and a plague, as the Lord warns you and says, "They are blind leaders of the blind. But if the blind lead the blind, they shall both fall into the ditch."(3) They intercept your prayers, which you pour forth with us to God day and night, to appease Him with a righteous satisfaction. They intercept your tears with which you wash away the guilt of the sin you have committed; they intercept the peace which you truly and faithfully ask from the mercy of the Lord; and they do not know that it is written, "And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, that hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, shall be put to death."(4) Let no one, beloved brethren, make you to err from the ways of the Lord; let no one snatch you, Christians, from the Gospel of Christ; let no one take sons of the Church away from the Church; let them perish alone for themselves who have wished to perish; let them remain outside the Church alone who have departed from the Church; let them anoia be without bishops who have rebelled against bishops; let them alone undergo the penalties of their conspiracies who formerly, according to your votes, and now according to God's judgment, have deserved to undergo the sentence of their own conspiracy and malignity.

6. The Lord warns us in His Gospel, saying, "Ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may establish your own tradition."(5) Let them who reject the commandment of God and endeavour to keep their own tradition be bravely and firmly rejected by you; let one downfall be sufficient for the lapsed; let no one by his fraud hurl down those who wish to rise; let no one cast down more deeply and depress those who are down, on whose behalf we pray that they may be raised up by God's hand and arm; let no one turn away from all hope of safety those who are half alive and entreating that they may receive their former health; let no one extinguish every light of the way of salvation to those that are wavering in the darkness of their lapse. The apostle instructs us, saying, "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ and His doctrine, he is lifted up with foolishness: from such withdraw thyself."(6) And again he says, "Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them."(7) There is no reason that you should be deceived with vain words, and begin to be partakers of their depravity. Depart from such, I entreat you, and acquiesce in our counsels, who daily pour out for you continual prayers to the Lord, who desire that you should be recalled to the Church by the clemency of the Lord, who pray for the fullest peace from God, first for the mother, and then for her children. Join also your petitions and prayers with our prayers and petitions; mingle your tears with our wailings. Avoid the wolves who separate the sheep from the shepherd; avoid the envenomed tongue of the devil, who from the beginning of the world, always deceitful and lying, lies that he may deceive, cajoles that he may injure, promises good that he may give evil, promises life that he may put to death. Now also his words are evident, and his poisons are plain. He promises peace, in order that peace may not possibly be attained; he promises salvation, that he who has sinned may not come to salvation; he promises a Church, when he so contrives that he who believes him may utterly perish apart from the Church.

7. It is now the occasion, dearly beloved brethren, both for you who stand fast to persevere bravely, and to maintain your glorious stability, which you kept in persecution with a continual firmness.; and if any of you by the circumvention of the adversary have fallen, that in this second temptation you should faithfully take counsel for your hope and your peace; and in order that the Lord may pardon you, that you should not depart from the priests of the Lord, since it is written, "And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest or unto the judge that shall be in those days, even that man shall die."(1) Of this persecution this is the latest and final temptation, which itself also, by the Lord's protection, shall quickly pass away; so that I shall be again presented to you after Easter-day with my colleagues, who, being present, we shall be able as well to arrange as to complete the matters which require to be done according to your judgment and to the general advice of all of us as it has been decided before.(2) But if anybody, refusing to repent and to make satisfaction to God, shall yield to the party of Felicissimus and his satellites, and shall join himself to the heretical faction, let him know that he cannot afterwards return to the Church and communicate with the bishops and the people of Christ. I bid you, dearest brethren, ever heartily farewell, and that you plead with me in continual prayer that the mercy of God may be entreated.

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