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Calendar. The Epistle in question is so utterly un-
worthy of his high reputation that it seems quite in-
credible he should have written it, or that the great
St. Cyprian should have translated it. It appears,
however, to be accepted as genuine by the majority of
the learned ; though others have maintained it to be
a forgery of some Donatist, subsequent to the time
of St. Augustine but in the same century. That great
doctor never speaks of it, and it is argued that if it
had then been extant, the Donatists could hardly have
failed to have used it against him, as they used the
Epistles on the same subject which are attributed to
St. Cyprian. Nor is tlie letter mentioned by Diony-
sius of Alexandria, though he speaks of Firmilian —
nor by Eusebius — nor by St. Cyprian himself; and
the Greek version, from which it is said to have been
translated, has never been discovered. But, who-
ever compounded it, it is inaccurate as to facts, pas-
sionate as to temper, and, in language, exaggerated
beyond bounds. Still, with all this, it bears testi-
mony to the then existing claims of the Eoman See.
1'. 1 IS L !. ciiat. ' I i^iTi justly indignant,' says the writer, ' at this so
open and manifest folly of Stephen — that he who so
glories in the place of his Episcopate, and contends


that he holds the succession of Peter upon whom
the foundations of the Church have been hiid, sliould
bring in many other rocks, and should set up the
new edifices of many churches, inasmuch as he main-
tains by his authority that baptism exists in them.'

The excited and unworthy tone of the letter may
be perceived from the following passage, the con-
cluding sentence of which has been deemed worthy
of a place in the ' Eirenicon.' The words are ad-
dressed to the Eoman Pontifi*, St. Stephen : — ' Thou iiid. p. 150.
fearest not,' so it runs, ' the judgment of God,
giving testimony to heretics against the Church,
though it is written : A false witness shall not be Prov. xix. 9.
unpunished. Nay, thou art worse tlian all here-
tics. Quin immo tu hcereticis omnibus pejor es.
For when many, having perceived their error, come
from thence to thee, that they may accept the true
light of the Church, thou helpest on the errors
of those who come ; and, having obscured the light
of the Church's truth, thou addest to the darkness of
heretical niglit. And when they confess themselves
to be in sin and that they have no portion of grace,
and that on this account they come to the Churcli,
thou withdrawest from them the remission of sins
which is given in baptism, whilst thou say est that
they are already baptized and that they have ob-
tained the grace of the Church outside the Church.
Nor dost thou understand that, wlien the day of
judgment shall come, their souls are to be required
at thy hand, who hast denied the drink of the Church
to the thirsty, and hast been cause of death to those


who wished tu live. And moreover thou art in-
dignant. Behold with what ignorance (irnperitia)
thou darest to censure those who are striving for the
truth against falsehood. For who ought with the
more justice to be indignant against the other?
Whether, indeed, he who joins with the enemies of
God, or he who combines for the truth of the Church
against him who joins the enemies of God ? Unless
it be manifest that the ignorant (imperitos) are also
angrj^ and passionate, whilst through want of prudence
and of speech [consilii et sermonis) they are easily
moved to anger, so that of none other more than of
Prov. xxix. 22. thcc dotli the diviuc scripture say : A passionate
man 2:)repareth strifes^ and an angry man heapeth up
sins. For how many strifes and dissensions hast thou
prepared for the chm'ches of the whole world ? How
great sin hast thou heaped up for thyself when thou
hast separated thyself from so many flocks? For
thou hast cut off thyself. Do not deceive thyself.
If, indeed, he is truly schismatic who shall make
himself an apostate from the comnuniion of eccle-
siastical unity. For whilst thou thinkest that all
can be excommunicated by thee, thou hast excom-
municated thyself alone from all.'

The letter contains other passages of like character,
and it is from such unseemly railing against God's
ti'uth and its holy defender, that it has been sought to
wrest a weapon against the authority of the Koman
See ; whereas the quotation in question, when taken
^vith its context, bears witness to the existence of


that aiitliority, at the period when it was written.
The words would lose their force unless applied to
a superior. It would be a meaningless truism to
tell an ordinary bishop that he would cut himself
alone off from unity if he excommunicated all
others. Nor can it be supposed that St. Steplien
would have threatened the excommunication of dis-
tant churches without a consciousness and certainty
of unquestioned universal jurisdiction. It is to be
remarked that the letter distinctly states that St.
Stephen ' thought he could excommunicate all.' A
few lines subsequently, it openly acknowledges liis
primacy ; observing ironically, ' how diligently
Steplien has fulfilled the commands and wholesome
admonitions of the Apostle, practising m the Jirst
place " humility and mildness " (humilitatem sensus Ephes. iv. 2.
et lenitatem primo in loco servans).'

Besides all this, looking merely to the historical
fact of the respective numbers, the assertion was
flagrantly false. It is notorious not only that St.
Stephen did not stand alone, but that his doctrine
was that of the vast majority of bishops.

Thus, St. Augustine speaks of tlie party of St.
Cyprian, as some ' fifty orientals, and seventy or a
few more Africans, against many thousands of
bishops, to whom this error was displeasing through-
out the Avhole world.' It is only the blindness of
passion or the over-zeal of a forgerer, wliich can
account for the hyperbolical assertion ascribed to
Firmilian, that St. Ste])hen had cut himself off from all.


If all this be taken into account, and if it is

remembered, further, that the doctrine of the Pope

thus scandalously denounced as heretical, has been

subsequently acknowledged by the Universal Church

as an article of the faith ; and that, on the other

hand, the opinion defended by the writer of the

letter ascribed to Firmilian has been rejected as

heresy; it will not be difficult to estimate the actual

value of tliat writer's angry exclamation against

Pope St. Stephen, which has been brought forward

as the saying of ' one now counted a Saint.'

The respect The letter in question is not a saintly one, who-

i-'irmiiian. Gvcr may liavc been its author. Even saints whilst

in this mortal life are liable to human weakness.

The epistle stands self-condemned ; but far be it

from me to speak disparagingly of a Bishop whose

name holds so high a place in the Church's annals,

as that of the great Finnilian of Cappadocia. He

De vita is mentioned by St. Gregory of Nyssa as the early

,. Ti.g. lauma urgi.^.^^^^^^^ ^^ g^^ Grcgory thc Wonder-worker, and as

his companion in relinquishing the vain philosophy
of the world for the true philoso[)hy of the Cross.
He says that Firmilian resembled him in disposition,
' as he showed by his after life when he was the
ornament of the Church of the Cassareans.' Eusebius
iii«t. EltIcs. vii. 28. mentions him first amongst the most eminent Eastern
Bishops who were assembling at Antioch against
the heresy of Paul of Samosata, when he fell sick
upon the way and died at Tarsus about the year 269.
iM(i. cap. 30. The synodical letter of tlie same council, wliich is

EOME's office is UXIVERSAL.


addressed to Dionysius Bishop of the Eoman city,
to Maximus of Alexandria, and to the Universal
Catholic Church, makes especial mention of Firmilian,
as one of those whose presence had been solicited by
letters. It says that he had twice before come to
Antioch and condemned the novelty. It names him in
company with St. Dionysius of Alexandria, and styles
them together, ' men of blessed memory.' It is not
probable that one thus spoken of in an epistle of
such a nature, formally addressed to the Eoman
Pontiff and the whole Churcli, can liave died out of
visible communion with Eome.

As in the case of St. Victor and the Asiatics, the
points on which the Cyprianic contest is appealed to
by Dr. Pusey are involved in great obscurity, wdiilst
the office which the providence of God has entrusted
to the Eoman See, is clearly illustrated thereby.
Apart from that office, what was there in this matter
to induce Eome to raise a voice of authority through-
out Africa and the East? On what other ground
were Africa and the East so disturbed by Eome's de-
nunciation of their novelties ? As regards his personal
influence, who will compare St= Steplien to the great
and the eloquent St. Cyprian ? The error more-
over was supported by Synods, and by Bishops
illustrious for virtue, many of whom as well as St.
Cyprian were afterwards found worthy of the martyr's
crown ; it rested on plausible arguments, and ap-
parently just interpretations of Holy Scripture.

To human eyes it might seem, on the other hand.



the office

of the

Roman See.

236 CHRIST HAS entrusted ROME WITH

that the cau^>e of truth was inadequately represented
by the simple declaration of St. Stephen, in few
but decided words condemning novelty, maintaining
tradition, setting aside the opinion of St. Cyprian
and of all the Bishops of his party throughout
Africa, Asia, and the whole world, wherever they
might profess it. But this simple declaration was
the voice of Christ in His Vicar. In opposition
to it, all the Synods, all the learning, all the emi-
nence, all the holiness, all the plausible appeals to
Scripture, even of Bishops like C}^3rian, prove as
nothing ; they become as dreams ; they add but
another page to the history of human weakness,
human error, and human impotence apart from God.
Rome instructs the nations. At times her word of
truth may seem to lie dormant iu men's hearts ; but,
like all that is divine, if its work is silent it is strong.
As in the case before us, it is often found that those
who at first oppose it, after a few brief years have
passed, are brought to confess its power, and to pro-
claim that Eome's teaching is the word of the
living God. Why does Eome prove always right,
and Asia, Africa, Cyprian, Firmilian, and others
who oppose her always wrong ? It is not from any
human super-excellence; not from any superior
human talents ; not from any greater human power.
It is, because to Peter, and through him to Eome,
and not to Carthage or to Asia, or elsewhere
throughout the globe, was the conunand of Christ
addressed : — ' Feed my lambs, Feed my sheep ;' —


' Strengthen and confirm tliy brethren.' It is beoanse

to Peter, and to none other, was it said : — Ego dico St. Matt, xvi.is.

tibi^ quia tu es Petrus^ et super hanc petram cediji-

cabo ecclesirun meam, etportCB inferi non prcevalebunt

adversus earn.

The universe has to learn its faith from Eome,
because to Eome has its guardianship been entrusted
by a power which is divine. Rome liolds it not for
herself alone, but for the good of the human race ;
therefore that divine power unceasingly assists her,
and preserves her from unfaithfulness to the light
and grace, which are superabundantly bestowed upon
her for the fulfilment of her high commission.

St. Vincent of Lerins points to the conduct of St. Commonitormm.
Stephen in this matter, as one out of many examples
afforded by those blessed ones who ' shine, like the
seven-branched candlestick with the sevenfold light of
the Holy Spirit ; ' examples which most plainly show
to posterity how, in spite of vain words, the audacity
of profane novelty may be trampled under foot by
the authority of hallowed antiquity. — ' Such ex-
amples,' he says, '-abound ; but, not to be tedious,
let us fix on one, and that the rather from the
Apostolic See, that all may perceive more clearly
than the hght, with how great strength, witli how
great zeal, with what earnest striving, the blessed
succession of the blessed Apostles will always defend
the integrity of the religion once received.'

'At one time, then, Agrippinus, Bishop of Car- circa a.d. 217.
thage, of venerable memory' (a predecessor of St.


Cyprian, in that See), ' tlie first of all mortals, in
contradiction to the divine canon, in contradiction
to the rule of the Universal Church, in contradiction
to the sentiments of all his fellow-priests, in contra-
diction to the custom and the institutions of ancestors,
judged that baptism was to be repeated. Which pre-
sumption brought in so much evil as to have afforded,
not only an example of sacrilege to all heretics, but
also an occasion of error even to certain Catholics.
When therefore, on all sides, every one was ex-
claiming against the novelty of the thing, and all
Priests in all directions were resisting it, each one
according to the measure of his zeal ; then Pope
Stephen, of blessed memory, who presided over the
Apostolic See, withstood it, together indeed Avith the
rest of his colleagues, but yet before the rest ; es-
teeming it fitting, as I imagine, if he should surpass
the others as much in the devotion of his faith, as
he excelled them in the authority of his position.
In short, in the letter which was then sent to Africa,
he decreed [sanxit) in these words : — Let there
be no innovation on what is handed down. Nihil
novandum, nisi quod tradituin est. For the holy
and prudent man understood that the rule of piety
admits of nothing else, except that all things should
be consigned to tlie children with the same fidelity
witli which they have been received from the fathers ;
and that we ought not to lead religion where we
will, but ratliei' to follow wherever it may lead us ;
and that it belongs to Cliiistiaii modesty and gravity.


not to hand down to posterity what is from ourselves,
but to preserve entire those things which have been
received by us from our ancestors. What, then, was
the end of the whole business ? What indeed, but
the usual and accustomed end ? Antiquity, forsooth,
is maintained ; novelty is rejected.'

The rescript of St. Stephen does not appear to
have been intended by him as a definition of dogma,
but as a practical rule to be followed under the
existing circumstances. Such is the opinion of
Cardinals Orsi and Bellarmine Ihe latter says that De irreform. Rom.

n r< n , T -> • ^ ii •!/• Pont.judicio.l.iii.c. 4.

St. Stephen ' did not wish i o make the matter itseli ^^ summo Pontif.
of faith, without a General Council: but he wished Lib.iv.cap.7,11. lo.
only that in the meantime the ancient custom should
be observed.'

The Council of Aries (a.d. 314), at which
C^cilianus of Carthage and several other African
Bishops assisted, put forth a decree to the same
eflfect as St. Stephen's rescript ; viz. that converts
from heresy were not to be rebaptized, but only re-
ceive imposition of hands, excepting in the case of
defect in the essentials of their previous baptism.
The Ecumenical Council of Nice (a.d. 325) practi-
cally confirmed this decree : for it made no allusion
to baptism in its canon respecting the reception of Conc. Niccn. can. 8.
converts from the Cathari ; whereas in the case of
the Paulianists (whose baptism was defective) it is 11 ad. can. 19.
enjoined, that they are by all means to be baptized
when they come to the Church.

It would not be right to pass on without observing


that there are authors, worthy of consideration, who
maintain that the letters of St. Cyprian on this subject,
as well as tlie letter of Fii-railian, were forged by
ancient heretics. Their opinion is not commonly

Vide supra, ]). 227. acccptcd, but, as may be seen above, it existed even in

the time of St. Augustine, who does not absolutely

Ep. xeiii. reject it, but says that he himself does not deny that

Vincent. Eogat.n. 39. sucli wcrc the scntimcnts of St. Cyprian, for two
reasons : first, because the style resembles his ; and,
secondly, because the letters attributed to him render
the argument against the Donatists the more invin-
cible by showing, that not even the reception of
converts whom he considered as unbaptized, could
induce St. Cyprian to separate from the Universal

The said epistles have been appealed to as evi-
dence that St. Cyprian was opposed to the claims of
the Eoman See. But the real sentiments of a writer
are to be gathered from the habitual expression of
his thoughts in moments of calm, rather than from
occasional passages penned at a time of trial and
strong excitement. The works of St. Cyprian, and
even these very letters, afford undeniable testimony to
his faith in the primacy of St. Peter and of St. Peter's
.successors at Pome. lie observes to Quintus that
EpiHt.ixxi. ed. ciut. ' Peter whom the Lord elected first, and upon whom
He built His Church (Petru.s, quern prwium Donii-
nus ekf/it, et super quern cedijicavit ecdesiam suam),
when Paul afterwards contended witli him respecting
circumcision,' diil not anogantly answer that 'he


held the primacy (.9^ j?r/yy/rt^?</>? tenere) and oiiglit
rather to be yielded to by new disciples posterior to
himself.' — He writes to the Numidian Bishops: —
' There is one baptism, and one Holy Ghost, and one Kp. ixx. ihid.
Chnrch, founded by Christ the Lord u])on Peter, for
the origin and rule of unity {una ecclesia a Christo
Domino super Petruni^ origine iinitatis et ratione fun-
data).'' — To Jubaianus, after observing that ' it is Ep. ixxiii. ibid,
manifest where and by whom remission of sins can be
given,' he proceeds : — Tor to Peter first upon whom
He has built the Church, and whence he institutes and
shows the origin of unity, the Lord gave this povv'er
that that should be loosed in heaven which he should
have loosed on earth.' Nam Petro primum Domi-
nus, super quern wdijicavit ecclesiam, et unde unitatis
originem instituit et osteiidit, poiestatem istam dedit
ut id solveretur in coelis quod ilk solvisset in terris.
After thus specially distinguishing St. Peter, he passes
on to say that after the resurrection also the power St. Joim xx. 21-23.
of remitting sins was conferred on the apostles. St.
Cyprian seems to delight in bringing forward this
prerogative of St. Peter as an attribute of the Church,
even when it seems superfluous. Thus, in his book,
' De Bono Patientige,' in quoting the words of the Op. d. cvp. p. 200,

^ ° «!. citata.

^ Baliizius concludes from ancient autlioritics that the correct
reading is here Petriun, and not petram, as in some editions
(notes to St. Cyprian, p. 497). The meaning of the sentence
would not however be affected by reading petram, since the
terms are synonymous. The other quotations in the text testify
abundantly that St. Cyprian believed and taught that the Church
is founded upon Peter as the rock, and as the centre of unity.



beloved disciple, he gives liiin the simple appellation
of ' John the Apostle,' but when he quotes St. Peter
in llie next sentence, he describes him as ' Peter,
upon whom the Clnu^ch is built by the judgment of
the Lord,' Itew Petnis, super quern ecclesia Domini
dignatione fundata est, in epistola sua ponit et
dicit, cj'f .

It is evident also that St. Cyprian did not regard
these prerogatives as confined to the person of St.
Peter alone, but that he considered them to be
inherited by his successors in the Eoman See ; for he
expressly speaks of the Eoman Pontiffs as occupying
the place of Peter. He says of Pope St. Cornelius, who

Ep. lii. ed. citat. succccdcd St. Fabian, that lie was elected ' when tlie
place of Fabian, that is, when the place of Peter and
the rank of the sacerdotal chair, w^as vacant.' Cinn
Fahiani locus, id est, cum locus Petri et gradus cathe-
drce sacerdotalis, vacaret. Elsewhere he speaks of

Ep. iv. ed. citat. tliosc who ' darc to sail and to carry letters from
schismatic and profane persons to the chair of Peter
and to the principal Church, from whence the sacer-
dotal unity hath arisen, nor consider that they are
Piomans whose faith has been praised in the Apostle's
preaching, to whom faithlessness cannot have access.'
Navigare aiident, et ad Petri cathedram atque ad
ecclesiam principalem, unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta
est, a schismaticis et prophanis litteras ferre, nee
cogitare eos esse Pomanos quorum fides apostolo p)rw-
dicante laudata est, ad quos peifidia habere non 2)ossit


Otlier well-known passages might be added from
the same holy father, and, for the simple-minded,
there needs no comnaent on them ; but such as are
guided by preconceived opinions will explain away
the clearest language and the most patent facts. May
God preserve us from eyes that see not, ears that
hear not, and hearts that will not understand His
voice !

During the latter half of the fourth century, the St. Mdotius
Cathohcs of Antioch were divided into two parties tho diSons in
respecting the rival claims of St. Meletius and Pau- Autioc.b.
linus to the episcopate of that important diocese.
The title of Paulinus is said to have been preferred
in the West, and that of St. Meletius in the East. It
is a portion of history which is imperfectly known
and which particularly demands attention, since the
case of St. Meletius and liis party is appealed to as fur-
nishing a precedent for the separated position of the
established Church of England, and as affording an
instance of outwardly divided unity.

It is unreservedly affirmed in the 'Eirenicon' that, Eiivn.p. co.
' St. Meletius out of communion with Eome, presided
(as it w^ere, marked out by God) at the second general
council ;' and that, ' when departed, he was owned
to be a Saint by those who, in his lifetime, owned him
not as a Bishop,' — alluding to Eome and the West.

Dr. Forbes observes : — ' Subjective unity was sus- s.c extract, above,
pended during the schism at Antioch, yet objective ''' '

unity is maintained; for the blessed Meletius is a Saint.'




St. Meiefius The scliism ill question was internal, and neither

Eoman Catholic siclc was cut ofT, as is the case witli England, from
many^yrarr before Bome and tliB Universal church. There is undeniable
second gpnerai pi'oof that before the period of the second general
council, St. Meletius was in formal and acknowledged
' communion mth Eome ; ' nor can it be assumed
that he was personally out of her communion, even
when she demurred respecting his claims to the
Bishopric of Antioch. It is notorious that after his
early errors had been redeemed by his subsequent
sufferings for religion and formal profession of the
Nicene faith, for a long time before the second
general council, St. Meletius enjoyed, and was
known at Eome to be enjoying, the constant and
intimate communion of St. Basil the Great and other
eminent Catholic Bishops, without any interruption
of their own acknowledged episcopal communion with
the Eoman See. This shows that, even at that time,
St. Meletius was not out of communion with Eome.

It was never denied that Meletius was a Bishop.
The only question at issue Avas whether he or Paulinus
ought to be considered the rightful Bishop of Antioch.
Eome never pronounced a formal judgment on the
case, and her silence implied toleration. Eome and
the whole Catholic world now venerate Meletius as a
Saint, though Eome and the West, perhaps influenced
by the great St. Athanasius, would not prefer his
claims to those of Paulinus in respect to the See of
Antioch. There is no evidence however that Mele-
tius was ever condemned by Eome, or cut off by her


from ecclesiastical coininunion, or placed uiidei- any
censure. It is not recorded tliat Eomc remon-
strated with any of the Eastern Catholic Bishops in
consequence of their open espousal of his communion
and advocacy of his claims. Eome received commu-
nications expressly from Meletius and other Bishops
of his party, on the affairs of the East in general ;
nor did the Pope even reject the deacon of i\Ieletius

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