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To Philemon
(Eus., H. E. vii. 7)
(The third on the same subject)

(1) I read both the critical researches and the traditional treatises9090Dionysius seems to distinguish here two kinds of writings: (1) those that were based on systematic research and criticism, and (2) those that handed on the more traditional and less critical views and statements of the past. of the heretics, defiling my soul a little with their abominable opinions and yet gaining this advantage from them, that I could 57 refute them for myself and abhor them much more thoroughly. And indeed when a certain brother among the presbyters tried to restrain me and frighten me from contaminating myself with the mire of their iniquity (he said I should ruin my soul, and, as I perceived, there was truth in what he said), a heaven-sent vision9191Divine interposition is more vaguely suggested above on p. 44. S. Augustine’s statement should also be compared, that at a critical moment of his conversion he heard a voice saying, “Take and read” (Conf. vii. 12, § 29); S. Polycarp likewise heard a voice from heaven saying, “Be strong and play the man,” as he was led into the arena. came and strengthened me, and words came to me which expressly ordered me thus: “Read all that may come to thy hands: for thou art competent to sift and test everything, and that was the original reason9292See Introduction, p. 11. of thy accepting the Faith.” I acknowledged the vision as in agreement with the apostolic voice which says to the more able: “Approve yourselves bankers of repute.”9393This is one of the more common apocryphal sayings usually attributed to our Lord: hence the epithet “apostolic” is somewhat strange.

(2) This cause and rule I received from our blessed Father9494The word for “Father” here is πὰπας (pope), a colloquial form of πατήρ applied to any bishop (or even to one of the inferior clergy sometimes) in the first ages. For Heraclas see p. 11. It is to be noticed, however, that this canon of his dealt not with heretical baptism (such as Dionysius is dealing with), but with actual or reputed perverts, and stated the terms on which they were to be restored to the Church of their baptism. Heraclas. For those that came over from the heretics, although they had apostatized from the Church—or rather had not even done that but were informed against as resorting to some heretical teacher, though still reputed members of our congregations—these he repelled from the Church, and 58 did not restore them at their request until they had publicly and fully stated all that they had heard among those who set themselves against us; and then he admitted them without requiring them to be re-baptized: for they had received that holy gift already.

(3) I have learnt this also, that the brethren in Africa9595i. e. the Church in Africa Proconsularis, of which Carthage was the metropolis and Cyprian the metropolitan. did not introduce this practice (of re-baptism) now for the first time, but it was also adopted some time ago among our predecessors as Bishops, in the most populous churches and well-attended synods of the brethren, viz. in Iconium and Synnada,9696Iconium was the chief city of Lycaonia (see Acts xiii. and xiv.), and Synnada was an important town in Phrygia Salutaris. These synods had been held some twenty-five years before (in A.D. 230). and I cannot bring myself to reverse their decisions and involve them in strife and controversy. For “thou shalt not remove,” it says, “thy neighbour’s boundaries, which thy fathers set.”9797Deut. xix. 14.


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