Click to View

Early Church Fathers
Click to ViewMaster Index
Click to ViewPower Search

 Click to View

326 Cf. Matt. xix. 23. This sentence shows that Dionysius did not consider it impossible even for those to be saved who denied Christ before enduring any suffering at all. He was clearly willing to leave a possibility of salvation even to the worst offenders, and in this agreed perfectly with Cornelius, Cyprian, and the body of the Roman and Carthaginian churches.

327 asbestw puri.

328 The Greek word makar means "blessed."

329 custhraj "The instrument of torture here mentioned was an iron scraper, calculated to wound and tear the flesh as it passed over it" (Crusè).

330 puri asbestw.

331 Rufinus adds at this point the words et alia Ammonaria ("and another Ammonaria"). Valesius therefore conjectures that the words kai 'Ammonarion etera must have stood in the original text, and he is followed by Stroth and Heinichen. The mss., however, are unanimous in their omission of the words, and the second sentence below, which speaks of only a single Ammonarium, as if there were no other, certainly argues against their insertion. It is possible that Rufinus, finding only three women mentioned after Dionysius had referred to four, ventured to insert the "other Ammonaria."

332 It has been suggested (by Birks in the Dict. of Christ. Biog.) that this Dioscorus may be identical with the presbyter of the same name mentioned in Bk. VII. chap. 11, §24. But this is quite impossible, for Dioscorus, as we learn from this passage, was but fifteen years old at the time of the Decian persecution, and Dionysius is still speaking of the same persecution when he mentions the presbyter Dioscorus in the chapter referred to (see note 31 on that chapter).

333 marturia. It is difficult to ascertain from Dionysius' language whether these five soldiers suffered martyrdom or whether they were released. The language admits either interpretation, and some have supposed that the magistrate was so alarmed at what he feared might be a general defection among the troops that he dismissed these men without punishing them. At the same time it seems as if Dionysius would have stated this directly if it were a fact. There is nothing in the narrative to imply that their fate was different from that of the others; and moreover, it hardly seems probable that the defection of five soldiers should so terrify the judge as to cause him to cease executing the imperial decree, and of course if he did not execute it in the case of the soldiers, he could hardly do it in the case of others.

334 Ischyrion is known to us only from this passage.

335 enterwn 0ai splagxnwn.

336 Of the bishop Chaeremon of Nilus we know only what is told us here. The city Nilus or Nilopolis was situated on an island in the Nile, in middle Egypt, some distance south of Memphis.

337 th sumbiw eautou. The word sumbioj, which means a "companion" or "partner," can signify nothing else than "wife" as used here in the feminine.

338 to 'Arabion. The name Arabicus mons, to 'Arabion ouroj was given by Herodotus to the range of mountains which separated that part of Arabia lying west of the [Arabian Gulf from the Nile valley (see Smith's Dict. of Greek and Rom. Geography).

339 eisedecanto kai sunhgagon kai sunesthsan kai proseuxwn autoij kai estiasewn ekinwnhsan. It will be observed that nothing is said here about joining with these persons in celebrating the eucharist, or about admitting them to that service, and hence Valesius is quite right in distinguishing the kind of communion spoken of here from official communion in the church, around the Lord's table. Dionysius does not imply that these confessors had the power given them to receive the lapsed back again into the Church, and to dispense the eucharist to them. That was the prerogative of the bishop, and evidently Dionysius has no thought of its being otherwise. The communion of which he speaks was private fellowship merely, and implied a recognition on the part of these confessors that the persons in question had truly repented of their sin, and could be recommended for readmission into the Church. As we see from chap. 44, §2, the recommendation of these persons or of the people in general was quite necessary, before the bishop would consent to absolve the fallen person and receive him back again into the Church. And Dionysius' words in this passage show that he felt that the judgment of these confessors in regard to the fitness of the lapsed for readmission ought to be received with consideration, and have influence upon the final decision. Dionysius thus shows great respect to the confessors, but does not accord them the privileges which they claimed in some places (as we learn from Tertullian's de Pudicitia, 22, and from a number of Cyprian's Epistles) of themselves absolving the lapsed and readmittmg them to church communion. In this he showed again his agreement with Cyprian and with the principles finally adopted in the Roman and Carthaginian churches (cf. e.g. Cyprian's Epistles, 9 sq., al. 15; see also Dittrich, p. 51 sq.).

340 The object of the letter is clearly revealed in these sentences (see chap. 41, note 1).

341 Eusebius, and the Greeks in general, write the name Noouatoj (though in Bk. VII. chap. 8, below, Dionysius writes Noouatianoj). Socrates has the form Nauatoj, which appears also in some mss. of Eusebius. Cyprian and the Latins write the name Novatianus. Lardner, in a note on chap. 47 of his Credibility, argues with great force for the correctness of the name Novatus, while Heinichen and others maintain that Novatianus is the right form. The name Novatiani, Noouatianoi, which was given to his followers, is urged with some reason by Lardner as an argument for the shorter form of the name. But even if his opinion is correct, the name Novatian is too long established to be displaced, and serves to distinguish him from the Carthaginian presbyter Novatus. The schism of Novatian was only one of the outcrops of the old strife between lax and strict discipline in the Church, the strife which had shown itself in connection with Montanism and also between Callistus and Hippolytus (see above, chap. 21, note 3). But in the present case the immediate cause of the trouble was the treatment of the lapsed. The terrible Decian persecution had naturally caused many to deny the faith, but afterward, when the stress was past, they repented and desired to be readmitted to the Church. The question became a very serious one, and opinions were divided, some advocating their acceptance after certain prescribed penances, others their continued exclusion. The matter caused a great deal of discussion, especially in Rome and Carthage. The trouble came to a head in Rome, when Cornelius, who belonged to the lax party, was chosen bishop in the year 251, after the see had been vacant for more than a year. The stricter party at once aroused to action and chose Novatian, the leader of the party, opposition bishop. He had been made a presbyter by the bishop Fabian, and occupied a very prominent position in the Roman Church. He seems originally to have held less rigid notions in regard to the treatment of the lapsed, but before the end of the persecution he became very decided in his opposition to their absolution and restoration. His position, as well as his ability and piety, made him the natural leader of the party and the rival candidate for the bishopric. He does not, however, seem to have desired to accept consecration as an opposition bishop, but his party insisted. He immediately sent the usual letters announcing the fact to the bishops of the principal sees, to Carthage, Alexandria, and Rome. Cyprian at once refused to recognize his appointment. Dionysius wrote to him advising him to withdraw (see his epistle, quoted in chap. 45). But Fabius of Antioch was inclined to take his side (see chap. 44, §1). Novatian was excommunicated by the council mentioned just below, and then founded an independent church, baptizing all who came over to his side. We know nothing of his subsequent career (according to the tradition of his followers, and also Socrates, H. E. IV. 28, he suffered martyrdom under Valerian), but his sect spread throughout the East and West, and continued in existence until the sixth century. Novatian was not at all heretical in doctrine. His work upon the Trinity is both able and orthodox. His character was austere and of unblemished purity (the account given by Cornelius below is a gross misrepresentation, from the pen of an enemy) and his talents were of a high order. But the tendency of the Church was toward a more merciful treatment of the lapsed and of other sinners, and the stricter methods advocated by him fell more and more into disfavor. Novatian was quite a prolific writer. According to Jerome, de vir. ill. chap. 10, he wrote de Pascha, de Sabbago, de Circumcisione, de Sacerdote, de Oratione, de Cibis Judaicis, de Instantia, de Attain Multaque alia, et de Trinitate grande Volumen. The de Cibis Judaicis and the de Trinitate are still extant. The best edition of his works is that of Jackson (London, 1728). An English translation is given in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, V. 611-650. Novatian was the author also of one of the epistles of the Roman clergy to Cyprian (Ep. 30). Our contemporaneous sources for a knowledge of Novatian and his schism are the epistles of Cyprian (some ten of them), and the epistles of Dionysius and Cornelius, quoted by Eusebius in this chapter and in chaps. 44 and 45.

342 kaqaroi, "pure."

343 This council is undoubtedly identical with the one mentioned in Cyprian's epistle to Antonianus (Ep. 51, §6; al. 55). It was held, according to Cyprian, soon after the Carthaginian synod, in which the treatment of the lapsi was first discussed, and accepted the decisions of that council. The Carthaginian synod met in the spring of 251 (see Hefele, Conciliengesch. I. p. 112). The Roman synod must, therefore, have been held before the end of the same year; Hefele thinks about October (ibid. p. 114). Cornelius would not, of course, have waited long before procuring the official condemnation of the opposition bishop. We know nothing more about the constitution of the council than is told us here. It was, of course, only a local synod. The pastors of the remaining provinces were the other Italian bishops who could not be present at the council. Cornelius solicits their opinion, in order that the decree passed by the council may represent as large a number of bishops as possible.

344 touj de th sumfora peripeptokotaj. The Carthaginian synod had decided that no offenses are beyond the regular power of the Church to remit.

345 Jerome (de vir. ill. chap. 66) gives the singular instead of the plural (epistolam ad Fabium); so also Rufinus; but there is no reason for doubting the integrity of the Greek text of Eusebius, which runs, hlqon d oun eij hmaj epistolai Kornhliou. Valesius, although translating epistolae Cornelii, yet follows Jerome and Rufinus in believing that only one epistle is meant here. Neither Rufinus nor, apparently, Jerome knew anything about the epistle, except what they read in Eusebius, and therefore it is more probable that Eusebius was correct in using the plural than that they were correct in using the singular. It is easy to understand the change of Eusebius' indefinite plural into their definite singular. They were evidently written in Greek; for in speaking of Cyprian's epistles immediately afterward, Eusebius especially mentions the fact that they were written in Latin. The epistle from which Eusebius quotes just below was also written in Greek, for Eusebius would otherwise, as is his custom have mentioned the fact that he gives only a translation of it. This has been pointed out by Valesius; but, as Routh remarks, we can certainly go further, and say that the other epistle mentioned by Eusebius must have been in Greek, too, since it was written by the same Cornelius, and addressed to the same Fabius. These epistles are no longer extant.

346 Eusebius says, ta peri thj 'Rwmaiwn sunodon kai ta docanta pasi toiz kata th/ 'Italian k.t.l., which Jerome has transformed or compressed into de Synodo Romana, Italica, Africana, another instance of the careless way in which his de vir. ill. was composed.

347 These epistles from Cyprian and the African bishops Jerome transforms into a single epistle from Cornelius to Fabius, de Novatiano, et de his qui lapsi sunt. At least, it seems impossible to explain this epistle mentioned by Jerome in any other way. Knowing the slovenly way in which he put his work together, it is not surprising that he should attribute these epistles to the same person who wrote the ones mentioned just before and after. Since the first epistles mentioned are said to have been addressed to Fabius and also the last one, from which Eusebius quotes, it is reasonable to conclude that all mentioned in this connection were addressed to him; and it would of course be quite natural for Cyprian, too, to write to Fabius (who was known to be inclined to favor Novatian), in order to confirm the account of Cornelius, and to announce that he agreed with the latter in regard to the treatment of the lapsed. No epistle, however, of Cyprian or of other African bishops to Fabius are extant, though the same subject is discussed in many epistles of Cyprian addressed to the people.

348 Rufinus mentions only two epistles of Cornelius in this connection, apparently confounding this one on the deeds of the Novatians with the one mentioned just before on the Decrees of the Council. Jerome, on the other hand, making Cornelius, as already mentioned, the author of the epistles of Cyprian and the African bishops, assigns four epistles to Cornelius. None of the epistles mentioned in this section are extant, except the long fragment of the last one quoted just below. As mentioned in the next chapter, Fabius inclined to take the side of Novatian over against the laxer party; and it was on this account that Cornelius wrote him so many epistles (compare also the epistle of Dionysius of Alexandria, quoted in chaps. 41 and 42, and see note 1 on the former chapter), and endeavored to blacken the character of Novatian as he does in the passages quoted.

349 This Maximus was a presbyter, and one of a party of Roman confessors who played a prominent part in the controversy about the lapsed. He and his companions were imprisoned at the very beginning of the Decian persecution (Cyprian, Ep. 24; al. 28), i.e. early in the year 250, and while in prison they adopted rigoristic views and wrote to some Carthaginian confessors, urging strict methods in dealing with the lapsed (see Cyprian, Ep. 22; al. 27). Early in the year 251, after eleven months m prison, the presbyter Moses, the leading spirit of the party, died, and Maximus became the chief one among them. Moses before his death, in spite of his rigoristic principles, refused to commune with Novatian and his five presbyters (as we learn from §20 of this chapter), apparently because he saw that his insistence upon strict discipline was tending toward schism, and that such discipline could not be maintained without sacrificing the Church. But Maximus and those mentioned with him here, together with some others (see Cyprian, Ep. 45; al. 49), became even stricter than at first, and finally went over to the party of Novatian (which took its rise after the election of Cornelius in 251), but were at length reconciled to Cornelius and the rest of the Church, and received back with rejoicing (see Cyprian, Ep. 43, 45, 46, 49, 50; al. 46, 49, 51, 53, 54). The notices of Maximus and Urbanus in Cyprian's epistles, which with the epistle of Cornelius constitute our only source for a knowledge of their lives, do not mention a second confession made by these two men, so that we cannot tell when it took place, but it must of course have been during the persecution of Decius.

350 Urbanus was a confessor only, not a presbyter or deacon as we learn from the notices of him in Cyprian's epistles, in connection with the party referred to in the previous note.

351 Sidonius likewise was a confessor simply, and is mentioned with the others in the epistles of Cornelius and Cyprian.

352 Celerinus was also one of this party of Roman confessors (as we learn from Cyprian, Ep. 15, al. 87), who, upon his release from prison, went to Carthage, and was there ordained a reader by Cyprian (Ep. 33, al. 39). His release from prison and departure for Carthage took place before the release of the others and before the death of Moses (as we learn from Ep. 15), that is, before the end of the year 250. He was still in Rome, however, at Easter of that year, as we learn from his epistle to Lucian, mentioned below. He came of a family of martyrs (Ep. 33), and was himself one of the most celebrated confessors of his time. There is extant an epistle written by him to Lucian, the Carthaginian confessor (Cyprian, Ep. 21), in which he begs absolution for his sisters, who had denied the faith. The epistle (as we learn from its own statements) was written at Easter time and in the year 250, for there was no bishop of Rome at the time of its composition. As we learn from this passage, Celerinus went over with these other Roman confessors to the party of Novatian, and returned with them to the Church. He is, however, mentioned neither by Cyprian nor by Cornelius (in his epistle to Cyprian) in connection with the schism of these confessors. This is very remarkable, especially since Celerinus was quite a prominent character. It is possible that he was in Carthage the greater part of the time, and did not return to Rome until shortly before the confessors returned to the Church. He might then have thrown in his lot with them, and have returned with them to the orthodox church; and yet, not having been mentioned by Cornelius' earlier epistle to Cyprian, announcing the schismatic position of the confessors, he was omitted also in the later letters announcing their return (which in fact only mentions the three leaders), and in Cyprian's reply, which of course would only mention those of whom he had been told in Cornelius' first epistle. Of the subsequent career of Celerinus and of these other confessors we know nothing.

353 There is no reason to doubt, as Cornelius does, Novatian's sincerity in declaring that he did not seek the office of bishop. Both Cornelius and Cyprian make his ambition and his jealousy of Cornelius, the successful candidate, the cause of his schism. But such an accusation was made against every schismatic, even when there was not a shadow of support for it, and there is no reason to suppose it nearer the truth in this than in other cases. In fact, his own protestation, as recorded here by Cornelius, and as testified to by Dionysius in chap. 45, as well as the character of the man as revealed in his life previous to his episcopal ordination (as certified to even by his enemies), and in his writings, are entirely opposed to the supposition that he sought the episcopal office and that his schism was a result of his defeat. We shall do much better to reject entirely this exceedingly hostile and slanderous account of his enemy Cornelius, and to accept his own account of the matter as reported by Dionysius in chap. 25. He was the natural head of the rigoristic party, made such by his commanding ability, his deep piety, and his ascetic principles of living; and when Cornelius, the head of the lax party, was made bishop (in March, 251), the strict party revolted, and it could not be otherwise than that Novatian should be elected bishop, and that even if reluctant he should feel compelled to accept the office in order to assert the principles which he believed vital, and to prevent the complete ruin of the Church. Cornelius gives a sad story of his ordination to the episcopate. But one thing as certain, he had with him for some time a large portion of the best people in the Roman church, among them Maximus and others of the most influential confessors, who seem at length to have returned to the Church only because they saw that the schism was injuring it. Certainly if Novatian had been a self-seeker, as Cornelius describes him, and if his ordination had been of such a nature as Cornelius reports, he could never have had the support of so many earnest and prominent men. It is doubtless true, as Cornelius states, that Novatian was ordained by three Italian bishops, very likely bishops of rural and comparatively insignificant sees, and it is quite possible that one of them, as he also records, afterwards repented of his act as schismatic, and returned to the Church and received absolution. But all this does not imply that these three bishops were deceived by false pretenses on the part of Novatian, or that they were intoxicated when they performed the service. This, in fact, may be looked upon as baseless calumny. Novatus, the Carthaginian agitator who had caused Cyprian so much trouble, took a prominent part in the Novatian schism, though to make him the author of it, as Cyprian does, is undoubtedly incorrect (see Lardner, Works, III. p. 94 sq.; London ed. 1829). It was perhaps he (as reported by Eulogius, according to Photius, Cod. 182, and by Theodoret, Haer. Fab. III. 5) that found these three bishops to ordain Novatian. It is not at all improbable, when so many prominent men in the Roman church favored the stricter principles and supported Novatian, that bishops could be found in Italy who held the same principles and would be glad to ordain Novatian as bishop of Rome.

354 magganon.

355 As Closs remarks, these words are evidently an allusion to Novatian's work, de Trinitate.

356 ekdikhthj tou euaggeliou. Possibly another sarcastic reference to Novatian's work in defense of the doctrine of the Church possibly only an allusion to the fact that he prided himself on his orthodoxy.

357 The principle, that there should be only one bishop in a city, was not clearly enunciated and forcibly emphasized until the third century. Cyprian's writings are full of it (cf. his treatise On the Unity of the Church), and in connection with this Novatian schism, which showed so plainly the disintegrating effects of a division of the church under two bishops, the principle was established so firmly as never again to be questioned. I do not mean to assert here that the principle so clearly and conclusively established at this time was a new principle. We find it enunciated even by Ignatius at the beginning of the second century, and it was the common opinion of Christendom, or otherwise Cyprian could not have appealed to universal custom as he does in discussing the matter. I mean simply that the principle had never before been brought to such a test as to require its formal enunciation and public recognition by the clergy and the Church at large. The emergency which now arose compelled such formal statement of it; and the Council of Nicaea made it canon law (cf. Bingham's Antiquities, I. p. 160 sq.).

358 The limitation of the deacons to seven in number was due to the fact that the appointment of the Seven by the apostles (Acts vi.) was commonly looked upon as the institution of the office of the diaconate. But upon this matter, see above, Bk II. chap. 1, note 2 a. The practice of limiting the number of the deacons to seven was quite a common one, and was enacted as a law in the fifteenth canon of the Council of Neo-Caesarea (held early in the third century). The practice, however, was by no means universal, as we are informed by Sozomen (H. E. VII. 19). Indeed, at least in Alexandria and in Constantinople, their number was much greater (see Bingham's Ant. I. p. 286).

359 The sub-deacons (the highest of the inferior orders of the clergy) are first mentioned in this epistle of Cornelius and in various epistles of Cyprian. At what time they arose we cannot tell, but they seem to have appeared in the East later than in the West, at least the first references we have to them in the Orient are in the fourth century, e.g. in the Apost. Const. VIII. 21. They acted as deacons' assistants, preparing the sacred vessels for use at the altar, attended the doors during communion service, and were often employed by the bishops for the conveyance of letters or messages to distant churches. See Bingham's Ant. Bk. III. chap. 2.

360 The Acolyths (akolouqoi), another of the inferior orders of the clergy, are likewise first mentioned here and in Cyprian's epistles. They seem to have been of much later institution in the East, for we first hear of them there in the time of Justinian (Justin. Novel. 59). Their duties seem to have been to attend to the lights of the church and to procure the wine for communion service. See Bingham, ibid. chap. 3.

361 The Exorcists likewise constituted one of the inferior orders of the clergy; but although we find exorcism very frequently referred to by the Fathers of the second century, there seems to have been no such office until the third century, the present being the earliest distinct reference to it. In the fourth century we find the office in all parts of the Church East and West. Their duty was to take charge of those supposed to be possessed of an evil spirit; to pray with them, care for them, and exorcise the demon when possible. See Bingham, ibid. chap. 4.

362 The Readers, or Lectors (Greek, anagnwstai; Latin, Lectores), constituted still another of the inferior orders, and were already a distinct office in the time of Tertullian (cf. de Praescrip. chap. 41). From the third century on the order seems to have been universal. Their duty was to read the Scriptures in the public services of the sanctuary. See Bingham, ibid. chap. 5.

363 The Janitors, or Doorkeepers (Greek, pulwroi or qurwroi; Latin, ostiarii or janitores), are first mentioned in this passage. In the fourth century, however, we find them frequently referred to. Their office seems to have been about the same as that of the modern janitor or sexton. See Bingham, ibid. chap. 6.

364 There is no reason to doubt that Novatian received clinical baptism, as here stated by Cornelius. This does not imply, as is commonly supposed, that he was of heathen parentage, for many Christians postponed baptism as long as possible, in order not to sacrifice baptismal race by sins committed after baptism. We do not know whether his parents were heathen or Christians. Upon the objection to Novatian's ordination, based upon his irregular baptism, see below, ¥17.

365 tou te sfragisqhnai upo tou episkopou. sfragisqhnai here means confirmation or consignation (as it was commonly called among the Latins); that is, the imposition of the hands of the bishop which regularly followed baptism, immediately if the bishop were on the ground, in other cases at as early a date as possible. The imposition of hands was for the purpose of conveying the Holy Spirit, who should supply the newly baptized Christian with the necessary grace to fit him for the Christian life. Confirmation was thus looked upon as completing the baptism and as a necessary pre-condition of receiving the eucharist. At the same time, if a person died after baptism, before it was possible to receive imposition of hands, the baptism was not regarded as rendered invalid by the omission, for in the baptism itself the full remission of sins was supposed to be granted. The confirmation was not necessary for such remission, but was necessary for the bestowal of the requisite sustaining grace for the Christian life. Cornelius in the present paragraph does not intend to imply that regenerating grace was not given in Novatian's baptism. He means simply that the Holy Spirit was not given in that full measure in which it was given by the laying on of hands, and which was necessary for growth in grace and Christian living. The baptism was looked on in ordinary cases as in a sense negative,-effecting the washing. away of sin, the laying on of hands as positive, confirming the gift of the Spirit. The former, therefore, was sufficient to save the man who died immediately thereafter; the latter was necessary to sustain the man who still remained in the world. Compare with these words of Cornelius Tertullian's de Baptism. chap. 6. The earliest extant canon on this subject is the thirty-eighth of the synod of Elvira (306 a.d.), which decrees that a sick person may in case of necessity be baptized by a layman, but that he is afterward, if he recovers, to be taken to the bishop that the baptism may be perfected by the laying on of hands. The seventy-seventh canon decrees the same thing for those baptized by deacons, but expressly declares that if the baptized person die before the imposition of hands, he is to be regarded as saved in virtue of the faith which he confessed in his baptism. It is not necessary to give other references in connection with this matter. For further particulars, see Bingham, ibid. Bk. XII.

On the signification of the verb sqragizw, see Suicer's Thesaurus. We can hardly believe that Novatian failed to receive imposition of hands from the bishop, for it is inconceivable that the latter would have omitted what was regarded as such an important prerequisite to church communion in the case of one whom he ordained to the presbyterate. Novatian may not have received confirmation immediately after his recovery, but he must have received it before his ordination. As seen in §17, it is not the omission of confirmation that causes the objections on the part of the clergy, but the clinical baptism.

366 The majority of the mss., followed by Schwegler, Laemmer, and Heinichen, read toutwn. But some of the best mss., followed by all the other editors, read toutou.

367 This is certainly a calumny. It is possible, as Neander suggests, that Novatian, although a presbyter, withdrew somewhat from active duty and lived the life of an ascetic, and that it is this to which Cornelius refers in speaking of his admiration for "another philosophy." But however that may be, Cornelius' interpretation of his conduct as cowardly or unworthy is quite false. See above, note 1.

368 Clinic baptism (so-called from klinh, "a bed") was ordinarily looked upon in the early Church, in which immersion was the common mode of baptism, as permanently debarring a person from the presbyterate, and by many persons it was denied that such baptism was baptism at all. The latter opinion, however. the Church refused to sustain (cf. Cyprian, Ep. 75; al. 19). The twelfth canon of the Council of Neo-Caesarea (held early in the fourth century) says, "If any man is baptized only in time of sickness, he shall not be ordained a presbyter; because his faith was not voluntary, but as it were of constraint; except his subsequent faith and diligence recommend him, or else the scarcity of men make it necessary to ordain him." It is clear that this canon meant to apply only to persons whose baptism was delayed by their own fault. It was common for catechumens to postpone the rite as long as possible in order not to forfeit baptismal grace by their post-baptismal sins, and it was to discourage this practice that such canons as this of Neo-Caesarea were passed. Even this canon, however, provided for exceptional cases, and the fact that Novatian was ordained in spite of his irregular baptism is a proof that he must have been an exceptionally pious and zealous man.

369 On Moses (or Moyses, as he is called by Cyprian), see note 9, above.

Lipsius (Chron. der röm. Bischöfe, p. 202, note) maintains that Cornelius is referring, at this point, not to Novatian, but to Novatus, the Carthaginian presbyter, and that Eusebius has confounded the two men. He bases this opinion upon the mention of the five presbyters, whom he identifies with those who, with Novatus, separated from the Carthaginian church in connection with the schism of Felicissimus (see Cyprian, Ep. 39; al. 43), and also upon the fact that Moses died before the election of Novatian as opposition bishop. In regard to the first point, it must be noticed that, in an epistle to Cyprian upon the schism of Novatian (Cyprian, Ep. 47; al. 50), Cornelius mentions five presbyters (including Novatus) as connected with Novatian in his schism. Certainly it is most natural to refer Cornelius' words in this paragraph to the same five men. Indeed, to speak of Novatus and the five presbyters with him would be very peculiar, for Novatus himself was one of the five, and therefore there were but four with him. As to the second point, it may simply be said that Moses might well have refused to commune with Novatian, before the election of the latter, seeing that his position would inevitably lead to schism. There remains, therefore, no reason for supposing Eusebius mistaken, and for referring these words to Novatus of Carthage, instead of Novatian of Rome.

370 These lists of the bishops present at the council, and of those who expressed their agreement with the decision of the synod, are no longer extant.

371 See above, chap. 39, note 7.

372 This epistle, as we may gather from the description of its contents in the next sentence, is without doubt the same from which Eusebius has quoted at such length in chaps. 41 and 42. Upon the date and purpose of it, see chap. 41, note 1. We possess only the fragments quoted by Eusebius in these three chapters.

373 Of this Serapion we know only what is told us in this chapter.

Click Your Choice