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CONTINUATION. THE OLD CHRISTIANITY AND THE NEW CHURCH.
1. The legal and political forms by which the Church secured herself against the secular power and heresy, and still more the lower moral standard exacted from her members in consequence of the naturalisation of Christianity in the world, called forth a reaction soon after the middle of the second century. This movement, which first began in Asia Minor and then spread into other regions of Christendom, aimed at preserving or restoring the old feelings and conditions, and preventing Christendom from being secularised. This crisis (the so-called Montanist struggle) and the kindred one which succeeded produced the following results: The Church merely regarded herself all the more strictly as a legal community basing the truth of its title on its historic and objective foundations, and gave a correspondingly new interpretation to the attribute of holiness she claimed. She expressly recognised two distinct classes in her midst, a spiritual and a secular, as well as a double standard of morality. Moreover, she renounced her character as the communion of those who were sure of salvation, and substituted the claim to be an educational institution and a necessary condition of redemption. After a keen struggle, in which the New Testament did excellent service to the bishops, the Church expelled the Cataphrygian fanatics and the adherents of the new prophecy (between 180 and 220); and in the same way, during the course of the third century, she caused the secession of all those Christians who made the truth of the Church depend on a stricter administration of moral discipline. Hence, apart from the heretic and Montanist sects, there existed in the Empire, after the middle of the second 95century, two great but numerically unequal Church confederations, both based on the same rule of faith and claiming the title “ecclesia catholica”, viz., the confederation which Constantine afterwards chose for his support, and the Novatian Catharist one. In Rome, however, the beginning of the great disruption goes back to the time of Hippolytus and Calixtus; yet the schism of Novatian must not be considered as an immediate continuation of that of Hippolytus.
2. The so-called Montanist reaction193193See Ritschl, 1. c.; Schwegler, Der Montanismus, 1841; Gottwald, De Montanismo Tertulliani, 1862; Réville, Tertull. et le Montanisme, in the Revue des Deux Mondes of 1st Novr. 1864; Stroehlin, Essai sur le Montanisme, 1870; De Soyres, Montanism and the Primitive Church, 1878; Cunningham, The Churches of Asia, 1880; Renan, Les Crises du Catholicisme Naissant in the Revue des Deux Mondes of 15th Febr. 1881; Renan, Marc Aurèle, 1882, p. 208 ff.; Bonwetsch, Geschichte des Montanismus, 1881; Harnack, Das Mönchthum, seine Ideale und seine Geschichte, 3rd. ed., 1886; Belck, Geschichte des Montanismus, 1883; Voigt, Eine verschollene Urkunde des antimontanistischen Kampfes, 1891. Further the articles on Montanism by Möller (Herzog’s Real-Encyklopädie), Salmon (Dictionary of Christian Biography), and Harnack (Encyclopedia Britannica). Weizsäcker in the Theologische Litteraturzeitung, 1882, no. 4; Bonwetsch, Die Prophetie im apostolischen und nachapostolischen Zeitalter in the Zeitschrift für kirchliche Wissenschaft und kirchliches Leben, 1884, Parts 8, 9; M. von Engelhardt, Die ersten Versuche zur Aufrichtung des wahren Christenthums in einer Gemeinde von Heiligen, Riga, 1881. was itself subjected to a similar change, in accordance with the advancing ecclesiastical development of Christendom. It was originally the violent undertaking of a Christian prophet, Montanus, who, supported by prophetesses, felt called upon to realise the promises held forth in the Fourth Gospel. He explained these by the Apocalypse, and declared that he himself was the Paraclete whom Christ had promised — that Paraclete in whom Jesus Christ himself, nay, even God the Father Almighty, comes to his own to guide them to all truth, to gather those that are dispersed, and to bring them into one flock. His main effort therefore was to make Christians give up the local and civil relations in which they lived, to collect them, and create a new undivided Christian commonwealth, which, separated from the world, should prepare itself for the descent of the Jerusalem from above.194194In certain vital points the conception of the original nature and history of Montanism, as sketched in the following account, does not correspond with that traditionally current. To establish it in detail would lead us too far. It may be noted that the mistakes in estimating the original character of this movement arise from a superficial examination of the oracles preserved to us and from the unjustifiable practice of interpreting them in accordance with their later application in the circles of Western Montanists. A completely new organisation of Christendom, beginning with the Church in Asia, to be brought about by its being detached from the bonds of the communities and collected into one region, was the main effort of Montanus. In this way he expected to restore to the Church a spiritual character and fulfil the promises contained in John. That is clear from Euseb., V. 16 ff. as well as from the later history of Montanism in its native land (see Jerome, ep. 41; Epiphan., H. 49. 2 etc.). In itself, however, apart from its particular explanation in the case of Montanus, the endeavour to detach Christians from the local Church unions has so little that is striking about it, that one rather wonders at being unable to point to any parallel in the earliest history of the Church. Wherever religious enthusiasm has been strong, it has at all times felt that nothing hinders its effect more than family ties and home connections. But it is just from the absence of similar undertakings in the earliest Christianity that we are justified in concluding that the strength of enthusiastic exaltation is no standard for the strength of Christian faith. (Since these words were written, we have read in Hippolytus’ Commentary on Daniel [see Georgiades in the journal Ἐκκλ. ἀληθεία, 1885, p. 52 sq.] very interesting accounts of such undertakings in the time of Septimius Severus. A Syrian bishop persuaded many brethren with wives and children to go to meet Christ in the wilderness; and another in Pontus induced his people to sell all their possessions, to cease tilling their lands, to conclude no more marriages etc., because the coming of the Lord was nigh at hand).96
The natural resistance offered to the new prophets with this extravagant
message — especially by the leaders of communities, and the persecutions to which
the Church was soon after subjected under Marcus Aurelius, led to an intensifying
of the eschatological expectations that beyond doubt had been specially keen in
Montanist circles from the beginning. For the New Jerusalem was soon to come down
from heaven in visible form, and establish itself in the spot which, by direction
of the Spirit, had been chosen for Christendom in Phrygia.195195Oracle of Prisca
in Epiph. H. 49. 1. Whatever amount of peculiarity the movement lost, in
so far as the ideal of an assembly of all Christians proved incapable of being realised
or at least only possible within narrow limits, was abundantly restored in the last
decades of the second century by the strength and courage that the news of its spread
in Christendom gave to the earnest minded to unite and offer resistance to the ever
increasing tendency of the Church to assume a secular and political character. Many entire communities
97in Phrygia and Asia recognised the divine mission of the prophets.
In the Churches of other provinces religious societies were formed in which the
predictions of these prophets were circulated and viewed as a Gospel, though at
the same time they lost their effect by being so treated. The confessors at Lyons
openly expressed their full sympathy with the movement in Asia. The bishop of Rome
was on the verge of acknowledging the Montanists to be in full communion with the
Church. But among themselves there was no longer, as at the beginning, any question
of a new organisation in the strict sense of the word, and of a radical remodelling
of Christian society.196196Even in its original home Montanism must have accommodated
itself to circumstances at a comparatively early date — which is not in the least
extraordinary. No doubt the Montanist Churches in Asia and Phrygia, to which the
bishop of Rome had already issued literæ pacis, were now very different from the
original followers of the prophets (Tertull., adv. Prax. 1). When Tertullian further
reports that Praxeas at the last moment prevented them from being recognised by
the bishop of Rome, “falsa de ipsis prophetis et ecclesiis eorum adseverando”, the
“falsehood about the Churches” may simply have consisted in an account of the original
tendencies of the Montanist sect. The whole unique history which, in spite of this,
Montanism undoubtedly passed through in its original home is, however, explained
by the circumstance that there were districts there, where all Christians belonged
to that sect (Epiph., H. 51. 33; cf. also the later history of Novatianism). In
their peculiar Church organisation (patriarchs, stewards, bishops), these sects
preserved a record of their origin. Whenever Montanism comes before us in
the clear light of history it rather appears as a religious movement already deadened,
though still very powerful. Montanus and his prophetesses had set no limits to their
enthusiasm; nor were there as yet any fixed barriers in Christendom that could have
restrained them.197197Special weight must be laid on this. The fact that whole communities
became followers of the new prophets, who nevertheless adhered to no old regulation,
must above all be taken into account. The Spirit, the Son, nay, the Father
himself had appeared in them and spoke through them.198198See Oracles 1, 3, 4, 5,
10, 12, 17, 18, 21 in Bonwetsch, l.c., p. 197 f. It can hardly have been customary
for Christian prophets to speak like Montanus (Nos. 3-5):
ἐγὼ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ ταντοκράτωρ καταγινόμενος
ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ, or ἐγὼ κύριος
ὁ θεὸς πατὴρ ἦλθον or ἐγὼ
εἰμί ὁ πατὴρ καὶ ὁ υἱὸς καὶ ὁ παράκλητος, though Old Testament prophecy
takes an analogous form. Maximilla says on one occasion (No. 11);
ἀπέστειλέ με κύριος τούτου τοῦ πόνου καὶ τῆς
συνθήκης καὶ τῆς ἐπαγγελίας αἱρετιστήν; and a second time (No. 12):
διώκομαι ὡς λύκος ἐκ προβάτων˙ οὐκ
εἰμὶ λύκς˙ ῥῆμά εἰμί καὶ πνεῦμα καὶ δύναμις. The two utterances
do not exclude, but include, one another (cf. also No. 10: ἐμοῦ μὴ ἀκούσητε ἀλλὰ
Χριστοῦ ἀκούσατε). From James IV. V. and Hermas, and from the Didache, on the other
hand, we can see how the prophets of Christian communities may have usually spoken. Imagination pictured
98Christ bodily in female form to the eyes of Prisca.199199L.c., no. 9: Χριστὸς ἐν ἰδέᾳ
How variable must the misbirths of the Christian imagination have been in this respect also!
Unfortunately almost everything of that kind has been lost to us because it has
been suppressed. The fragments of the once highly esteemed Apocalypse of Peter are
instructive, for they still attest that the existing remains of early Christian
literature are not able to give a correct picture of the strength of religious imagination
in the first and second centuries. The passages where Christophanies are spoken
of in the earliest literature would require to be collected. It would be shown what
naive enthusiasm existed. Jesus appears to believers as a child, as a boy, as a
youth, as Paul etc. Conversely, glorified men appear in visions with the features
of Christ. The most
extravagant promises were given.200200See Euseb., H. E. V. 16. 9. In Oracle No. 2 an evangelical promise
is repeated in a heightened form; but see Papias in Iren., V. 33. 3 f. These prophets spoke in a loftier tone than any
Apostle ever did, and they were even bold enough to overturn apostolic regulations.201201We may unhesitatingly act on the principle that the Montanist
elements, as they appear in Tertullian, are, in all cases, found not in a strengthened,
but a weakened, form. So, when even Tertullian still asserts that the Paraclete
in the new prophets could overturn or change, and actually did change, regulations
of the Apostles, there is no doubt that the new prophets themselves did not adhere
to apostolic dicta and had no hesitation in deviating from them. Cf., moreover,
the direct declarations on this point in Hippolytus (Syntagma and Philos. VIII.
19) and in Didymus (de trin. III. 41. 2).
They set up new commandments for the Christian life, regardless of any tradition,202202The precepts for a Christian life, if we may so speak, given
by the new prophets, cannot be determined from the compromises on which the discipline
of the later Montanist societies of the Empire were based. Here they sought for
a narrow line between the Marcionite and Encratite mode of life and the common church
practice, and had no longer the courage and the candour to proclaim the “e sæculo
excedere”. Sexual purity and the renunciation of the enjoyments of life were the
demands of the new prophets. But it is hardly likely that they prescribed precise
“laws”, for the primary matter was not asceticism, but the realising of a promise.
In later days it was therefore possible to conceive the most extreme demands as
regulations referring to none but the prophets themselves, and to tone down the
oracles in their application to believers. It is said of Montanus himself (Euseb.,
H. E. V. 18. 2): ὁ διδάξας λύσεις
γάμων, ὁ νηστείας νομοθετήσας;
Prisca was a παρθένος
(l.c. § 3); Proculus, the chief of the Roman Montanists, “virginis senectæ” (Tert.,
adv. Val. 5). The oracle of Prisca (No. 8) declares that sexual purity is the preliminary
condition for the oracles and visions of God; it is presupposed in the case of every
“sanctus minister”. Finally, Origen tells us (in Titum, Opp. IV. 696) that the (older)
Cataphrygians said: “ne accedas ad me, quoniam mundus sum; non enim accepi uxorem,
nec est sepulcrum patens guttur meum, sed sum Nazarenus dei non bibens vinum sicut
illi”. But an express legal direction to abolish marriage cannot have existed in
the collection of oracles possessed by Tertullian. But who can guarantee that they
were not already corrected? Such an assumption, however, is not necessary. and they inveighed against the main body of
99Christendom.203203Euseb., V. 16. 9: V. 18. 5. They not only proclaimed themselves as prophets, but
as the last prophets, as notable prophets in whom was first fulfilled the promise
of the sending of the Paraclete.204204 It will not do simply to place Montanus and his two female associates
in the same category as the prophets of primitive Christian Churches. The claim
that the Spirit had descended upon them in unique fashion must have been put forth
by themselves with unmistakable clearness. If we apply the principle laid down on
p. 98, note 3, we will find that — apart from the prophets’ own utterances — this is
still clearly manifest from the works of Tertullian. A consideration of the following
facts will remove all doubt as to the claim of the new prophets to the possession
of an unique mission. (1) From the beginning both opponents and followers constantly
applied the title “New Prophecy” to the phenomenon in question (Euseb., V. 16. 4:
V. 19. 2; Clem., Strom. IV. 13. 93; Tertull., monog. 14, ieiun. 1, resurr. 63, Marc.
III. 24: IV. 22, Prax. 30; Firmil. ep. 75. 7; alii). (2) Similarly, the divine afflatus
was, from the first, constantly designated as the “Paraclete” (Orac. no. 5; Tertull.
passim; Hippol. passim; Didymus etc.). (3) Even in the third century the Montanist
congregations of the Empire must still have doubted whether the Apostles had possessed
this Paraclete or not, or at least whether this had been the case in the full sense.
Tertullian identifies the Spirit and the Paraclete and declares that the Apostles
possessed the latter in full measure — in fact as a Catholic he could not do otherwise.
Nevertheless he calls Montanus etc. “prophetæ proprii” of the Spirit (pudic. 12;
see Acta Perpet. 21). On the contrary we find in Philos. VIII. 19: ὑπὲρ δὲ ἀποστόλους
καὶ πᾶν χάρισμα ταῦτα τὰ γύναια δοξάζουσιν, ὡς τολμᾶν πλεῖόν τι Χριστοῦ ἐν τούτοις
λέγειν τινὰς αὐτῶν γεγονέναι.
Pseudo-Tertullian says: “in apostolis quidem dicunt
spiritum sanctum fuisse, paracletum non fuisse, et paracletum plura in Montano dixisse
quam Christum in evangelio protulisse.” In Didymus, 1.c., we read: τοῦ ἀποστόλου
γράψαντος κ.τ.λ., ἐκεῖνοι λέγουσιν τὸν Μοντανὸν ἐληλυθέναι καὶ ἐσχηκέναι τὸ τέλειον
τὸ τοῦ παρακλήτου, τοῦτ᾽ τὸ τοῦ
ἁγίου πνεύματος. (4) Lastly, the Montanists asserted
that the prediction contained in John XIV. ff. had been fulfilled in the new prophecy,
and that from the beginning, as is denoted by the very expression “Paraclete.”
What sort of mission they ascribed to themselves is seen from the last quoted passage, for the promises contained in it must be regarded as the enthusiastic carrying out of Montanus’ programme. If we read attentively John XIV. 16-21, 23, 26: XV. 20-26: XVI. 7-15, 25 as well as XVII. and X.; if we compare the oracles of the prophets still preserved to us; if we consider the attempt of Montanus to gather the scattered Christians and really form them into a flock, and also his claim to be the bearer of the greatest and last revelations that lead to all truth; and, finally, if we call to mind that in those Johannine discourses Christ designated the coming of the Paraclete as his own coming in the Paraclete and spoke of an immanence and unity of Father, Son, and Paraclete, which one finds re-echoed in Montanus’ Oracle No. V., we cannot avoid concluding that the latter’s undertaking is based on the impression made on excited and impatient prophets by the promises contained in the Gospel of John, understood in an apocalyptic and realistic sense, and also by Matt. XXIII. 34 (see Euseb., V. 16. 12 sq.). The correctness of this interpretation is proved by the fact that the first decided opponents of the Montanists in Asia — the so-called “Alogi” (Epiph., H. 51) — rejected both the Gospel and Revelation of John, that is, regarded them as written by some one else. Montanism therefore shows us the first and — up till about 180 — really the only impression made by the Gospel of John on non-Gnostic Gentile Christians; and what a remarkable one it was! It has a parallel in Marcion’s conception of Paulinism. Here we obtain glimpses of a state of matters which probably explains why these writings were made innocuous in the canon. To the view advanced here it cannot be objected that the later adherents of the new prophets founded their claims on the recognised gift of prophecy in the Church, or on a prophetic succession (Euseb., H. E. V. 17. 4; Proculus in the same author, II. 25. 7: III. 31. 4), nor that Tertullian, when it suits him, simply regards the new prophecy as a restitutio (e.g., in Monog. 4); for these assumptions merely represent the unsuccessful attempt to legitimise this phenomenon within the Catholic Church. In proof of the fact that Montanus appealed to the Gospel of John see Jerome, Ep. 41 (Migne, I. p. 474), which begins with the words: “Testimonia de Johannis evangelio congregata, quæ tibi quidam Montani sectator ingessit, in quibus salvator noster se ad patrem iturum missurumque paracletum pollicetur etc.” In opposition to this Jerome argues that the promises about the Paraclete are fulfilled in Acts II., as Peter said in his speech, and then continues as follows: “Quodsi voluerint respondere et Philippi deinceps quattuor filias prophetasse et prophetam Agabum reperiri et in divisionibus spiritus inter apostolos et doctores et prophetas quoque apostolo scribente formatos, etc.” These Christians as yet knew nothing of the “absoluteness of 100a historically complete revelation of Christ as the fundamental condition of Christian consciousness;” they only felt a Spirit to which they yielded unconditionally and without reserve. But, after they had quitted the scene, their followers sought and found a kind of compromise. The Montanist congregations that sought for recognition in Rome, whose part was taken by the Gallic confessors, and whose principles gained a footing in North Africa, may have stood in the same relation to the original adherents of the new prophets and to these prophets themselves, as the Mennonite communities did to the primitive Anabaptists and their empire in Münster. The “Montanists” outside of Asia Minor acknowledged to the fullest extent the legal position of the great Church. They declared their adherence 101to the apostolic “regula” and the New Testament canon.205205We are assured of this not only by Tertullian, but also by the Roman Montanist Proculus, who, like the former, argued against heretics, and by the testimony of the Church Fathers (see, e.g., Philos. VIII. 19). It was chiefly on the ground of their orthodoxy that Tertullian urged the claim of the new prophets to a hearing; and it was, above all, as a Montanist that he felt himself capable of combating the Gnostics, since the Paraclete not only confirmed the regula, but also by unequivocal utterances cleared up ambiguous and obscure passages in the Holy Scriptures, and (as was asserted) completely rejected doctrines like the Monarchian (see fuga 1, 14; corona 4; virg. vel. 1; Prax. 2, 13, 30; resurr. 63; pud. 1; monog. 2; ieiun. 10, 11). Besides, we see from Tertullian’s writings that the secession of the Montanist conventicles from the Church was forced upon them. The organisation of the Churches, and, above all, the position of the bishops as successors of the Apostles and guardians of doctrine were no longer disputed. The distinction between them and the main body of Christendom, from which they were unwilling to secede, was their belief in the new prophecy of Montanus, Prisca, and Maximilla, which was contained, in its final form, in written records and in this shape may have produced the same impression as is excited by the fragments of an exploded bomb.206206The question as to whether the new prophecy had or had not to be recognised as such became the decisive one (fuga 1, 14; coron. 1; virg. vel. 1; Prax. 1; pudic. 11; monog. 1). This prophecy was recorded in writing (Euseb., V. 18. 1; Epiph., H. 48. 10; Euseb., VI. 20). The putting of this question, however, denoted a fundamental weakening of conviction, which was accompanied by a corresponding falling off in the application of the prophetic utterances.
In this new prophecy they recognised a subsequent revelation of God, which for that very reason assumed the existence of a previous one. This after-revelation professed to decide the practical questions which, at the end of the second century, were burning topics throughout all Christendom, and for which no direct divine law could hitherto be adduced, in the form of a strict injunction. Herein lay the importance of the new prophecy for its adherents in the Empire, and for this reason they believed in it.207207The situation that preceded the acceptance of the new prophecy in a portion of Christendom may be studied in Tertullian’s writings “de idolol.” and “de spectac.” Christianity had already been conceived as a nova lex throughout the whole Church, and this lex had, moreover, been clearly defined in its bearing on the faith. But, as regards outward conduct, there was no definite lex, and arguments in favour both of strictness and of laxity were brought forward from the Holy Scriptures. No divine ordinances about morality could be adduced against the progressive secularising of Christianity; but there was need of statutory commandments by which all the limits were clearly defined. In this state of perplexity the oracles of the new prophets were gladly welcomed; they were utilised in order to justify and invest with divine authority a reaction of a moderate kind. More than that — as may be inferred from Tertullian’s unwilling confession — could not be attained; but it is well known that even this result was not reached. Thus the Phrygian movement was employed in support of undertakings, that had no real connection with it. But this was the form in which Montanism first became a factor in the history of the Church. To what extent it had been so before, particularly as regards the creation of a New Testament canon (in Asia Minor and Rome), cannot be made out with certainty. The belief in the efficacy of the Paraclete, 102who, in order to establish a relatively stricter standard of conduct in Christendom during the latter days, had, a few decades before, for several years given his revelations in a remote corner of the Empire, was the dregs of the original enthusiasm, the real aspect of which had been known only to the fewest. But the diluted form in which this force remained was still a mighty power, because it was just in the generation between 190 and 220 that the secularising of the Church had made the greatest strides. Though the followers of the new prophecy merely insisted on abstinence from second marriage, on stricter regulations with regard to fasts, on a stronger manifestation of the Christian spirit in daily life, in morals and customs, and finally on the full resolve not to avoid suffering and martyrdom for Christ’s name’s sake, but to bear them willingly and joyfully,208208See Bonwetsch, l.c., p. 82-108. yet, under the given circumstances, these requirements, in spite of the express repudiation of everything “Encratite,”209209This is the point about which Tertullian’s difficulties are greatest. Tatian is expressly repudiated in de ieiun. 15. implied a demand that directly endangered the conquests already made by the Church and impeded the progress of the new propaganda.210210Tertullian (de monog.) is not deterred by such a limitation: “qui potest capere capiat, inquit, id est qui non potest discedat.” The people who put forth these demands, expressly based them on the injunctions of the Paraclete, and really lived in accordance with them, were not permanently capable of maintaining their position in the Church. In fact, the endeavour to found these demands 103on the legislation of the Paraclete was an undertaking quite as strange, in form and content, as the possible attempt to represent the wild utterances of determined anarchists as the programme of a constitutional government. It was of no avail that they appealed to the confirmation of the rule of faith by the Paraclete; that they demonstrated the harmlessness of the new prophecy, thereby involving themselves in contradictions;211211It is very instructive, but at the same time very painful, to trace Tertullian’s endeavours to reconcile the irreconcilable, in other words, to show that the prophecy is new and yet not so; that it does not impair the full authority of the New Testament and yet supersedes it. He is forced to maintain the theory that the Paraclete stands in the same relation to the Apostles as Christ does to Moses, and that he abrogates the concessions made by the Apostles and even by Christ himself; whilst he is at the same time obliged to reassert the sufficiency of both Testaments. In connection with this he hit upon the peculiar theory of stages in revelation — a theory which, were it not a mere expedient in his case, one might regard as the first faint trace of a historical view of the question. Still, this is another case of a dilemma, furnishing theology with a conception that she has cautiously employed in succeeding times, when brought face to face with certain difficulties; see virg. vel. 1; exhort. 6; monog. 2, 3, 14; resurr. 63. For the rest, Tertullian is at bottom a Christian of the old stamp; the theory of any sort of finality in revelation is of no use to him except in its bearing on heresy; for the Spirit continually guides to all truth and works wherever he will. Similarly, his only reason for not being an Encratite is that this mode of life had already been adopted by heretics, and become associated with dualism. But the conviction that all religion must have the character of a fixed law and presupposes definite regulations — a belief not emanating from primitive Christianity, but from Rome — bound him to the Catholic Church. Besides, the contradictions with which he struggled were by no means peculiar to him; in so far as the Montanist societies accepted the Catholic regulations, they weighed on them all, and in all probability crushed them out of existence. In Asia Minor, where the breach took place earlier, the sect held its ground longer. In North Africa the residuum was a remarkable propensity to visions, holy dreams, and the like. The feature which forms the peculiar characteristic of the Acts of Perpetua and Felicitas is still found in a similar shape in Cyprian himself, who makes powerful use of visions and dreams; and in the genuine African Acts of the Martyrs, dating from Valerian’s time, which are unfortunately little studied. See, above all, the Acta Jacobi, Mariani etc., and the Acta Montani, Lucii etc. (Ruinart, Acta Mart. edit Ratisb. 1859, p. 268 sq., p. 275 sq.) that they showed all honour to the New Testament; and that they did not insist on the oracles of the Paraclete being inserted in it.212212Nothing is known of attempts at a formal incorporation of the Oracles with the New Testament. Besides, the Montanists could dispense with this because they distinguished the commandments of the Paraclete as “novissima lex” from the “novum testamentum.” The preface to the Montanist Acts of Perpetua and Felicitas (was Tertullian the author?) showed indeed the high value attached to the visions of martyrs. In so far as these were to be read in the Churches they were meant to be reckoned as an “instrumentum ecclesiæ?” in the wider sense. As soon as they proved the earnestness of their temperate 104but far-reaching demands, a deep gulf that neither side could ignore opened up between them and their opponents. Though here and there an earnest effort was made to avoid a schism, yet in a short time this became unavoidable; for variations in rules of conduct make fellowship impossible. The lax Christians, who, on the strength of their objective possession, viz., the apostolic doctrine and writings, sought to live comfort-ably by conforming to the ways of the world, necessarily sought to rid themselves of inconvenient societies and inconvenient monitors;213213Here the bishops themselves occupy the foreground (there are complaints about their cowardice and serving of two masters in the treatise de fuga). But it would be very unjust simply to find fault with them as Tertullian does. Two interests combined to influence their conduct; for if they drew the reins tight they gave over their flock to heresy or heathenism. This situation is already evident in Hermas and dominates the resolutions of the Church leaders in succeeding generations (see below). and they could only do so by reproaching the latter with heresy and unchristian assumptions. Moreover, the followers of the new prophets could not permanently recognise the Churches of the “Psychical,”214214The distinction of “Spiritales” and “Psychici” on the part of the Montanists is not confined to the West (see Clem., Strom. IV. 13. 93); we find it very frequently in Tertullian. In itself it did not yet lead to the formal breach with the Catholic Church. which rejected the “Spirit” and extended their toleration so far as to retain even whoremongers and adulterers within their pale.
In the East, that is, in Asia Minor, the breach between the Montanists and the Church had in all probability broken out before the question of Church discipline and the right of the bishops had yet been clearly raised. In Rome and Carthage this question completed the rupture that had already taken place between the conventicles and the Church (de pudic. 1. 21). Here, by a peremptory edict, the bishop of Rome claimed the right of forgiving sins as successor of the Apostles; and declared that he would henceforth exercise this right in favour of repentant adulterers. Among the Montanists this claim was 105violently contested both in an abstract sense and in this application of it. The Spirit the Apostles had received, they said, could not be transmitted; the Spirit is given to the Church; he works in the prophets, but lastly and in the highest measure in the new prophets. The latter, however, expressly refused to readmit gross sinners, though recommending them to the grace of God (see the saying of the Paraclete, de pud. 21; “potest ecclesia donare delictum, sed non faciam”). Thus agreement was no longer possible. The bishops were determined to assert the existing claims of the Church, even at the cost of her Christian character, or to represent the constitution of the Catholic Church as the guarantee of that character. At the risk of their own claim to be Catholic, the Montanist sects resisted in order to preserve the minimum legal requirements for a Christian life. Thus the opposition culminated in an attack on the new powers claimed by the bishops, and in consequence awakened old memories as to the original state of things, when the clergy had possessed no importance.215215A contrast to the bishops and the regular congregational offices existed in primitive Montanism. This was transmitted in a weakened form to the later adherents of the new prophecy (cf. the Gallic confessors’ strange letter of recommendation on behalf of Irenæus in Euseb., H. E. V. 4), and finally broke forth with renewed vigour in opposition to the measures of the lax bishops (de pudic. 21; de exhort. 7; Hippolytus against Calixtus). The ecclesia, represented as numerus episcoparum, no longer preserved its prestige in the eyes of Tertullian. But the ultimate motive was the effort to stop the continuous secularising of the Christian life and to preserve the virginity of the Church as a holy community.216216See here particularly, de pudicitia 1, where Tertullian sees the virginity of the Church not in pure doctrine, but in strict precepts for a holy life. As will have been seen in this account, the oft debated question as to whether Montanism was an innovation or merely a reaction does not admit of a simple answer. In its original shape it was undoubtedly an innovation; but it existed at the end of a period when one cannot very well speak of innovations, because no bounds had yet been set to subjective religiosity. Montanus decidedly went further than any Christian prophets known to us; Hermas, too, no doubt gave injunctions, as a prophet, which gave rise to innovations in Christendom; but these fell short of Montanus’ proceedings. In its later shape, however, Montanism was to all intents and purposes a reaction, which aimed at maintaining or reviving an older state of things. So far, however, as this was to be done by legislation, by a novissima lex, we have an evident innovation analogous to the Catholic development. Whereas in former times exalted enthusiasm had of itself, as it were, given rise to strict principles of conduct among its other results, these principles, formulated with exactness and detail, were now meant to preserve or produce that original mode of life. Moreover, as soon as the New Testament was recognised, the conception of a subsequent revelation through the Paraclete was a highly questionable and strange innovation. But for those who acknowledged the new prophecy all this was ultimately nothing but a means. Its practical tendency, based as it was on the conviction that the Church abandons her character if she does not resist gross secularisation at least, was no innovation, but a defence of the most elementary requirements of primitive Christianity in opposition to a Church that was always more and more becoming a new thing. In his latest writings Tertullian vigorously 106defended a position already lost, and carried with him to the grave the old strictness of conduct insisted on by the Church.
Had victory remained with the stricter party, which, though not invariably, appealed to the injunctions of the Paraclete,217217There were of course a great many intermediate stages between the extremes of laxity and rigour, and the new prophecy was by no means recognised by all those who had strict views as to the principles of Christian polity; see the letters of Dionysius of Corinth in Euseb., H. E. IV. 23. Melito, the prophet, eunuch, and bishop, must also be reckoned as one of the stricter party, but not as a Montanist. We must judge similarly of Irenæus. the Church would have been rent asunder and decimated. The great opportunist party, however, was in a very difficult position, since their opponents merely seemed to be acting up to a conception that, in many respects, could not be theoretically disputed. The problem was how to carry on with caution the work of naturalising Christianity in the world, and at the same time avoid all appearance of innovation which, as such, was opposed to the principle of Catholicism. The bishops therefore assailed the form of the new prophecy on the ground of innovation;218218Euseb., H. E. V. 16. 17. The life of the prophets themselves was subsequently subjected to sharp criticism. they sought to throw suspicion on its content; in some cases even Chiliasm, as represented by the Montanists, was declared to have a Jewish and fleshly character.219219This was first done by the so-called Alogi who, however, had to be repudiated. They tried to show that the moral demands of their opponents were extravagant, that they savoured of the ceremonial law (of the Jews), were opposed to Scripture, and were derived from the worship of Apis, Isis, and the mother of the Gods.220220De ieiun. 12, 16. To the 107claim of furnishing the Church with authentic oracles of God, set up by their antagonists, the bishops opposed the newly formed canon; and declared that everything binding on Christians was contained in the utterances of the Old Testament prophets and the Apostles. Finally, they began to distinguish between the standard of morality incumbent on the clergy and a different one applying to the laity,221221Tertullian protested against this in the most energetic manner. as, for instance, in the question of a single marriage; and they dwelt with increased emphasis on the glory of the heroic Christians, belonging to the great Church, who had distinguished themselves by asceticism and joyful submission to martyrdom. By these methods they brought into disrepute that which had once been dear to the whole Church, but was now of no further service. In repudiating supposed abuses they more and more weakened the regard felt for the thing itself, as, for example, in the case of the so-called Chiliasm,222222It is well known that in the 3rd century the Revelation of John itself was viewed with suspicion and removed from the canon in wide circles in the East. congregational prophecy and the spiritual independence of the laity. But none of these things could be absolutely rejected; hence, for example, Chiliasm remained virtually unweakened (though subject to limitations223223In the West the Chiliastic hopes were little or not at all affected by the Montanist struggle. Chiliasm prevailed there in unimpaired strength as late as the 4th century. In the East, on the contrary, the apocalyptic expectations were immediately weakened by the Montanist crisis. But it was philosophical theology that first proved their mortal enemy. In the rural Churches of Egypt Chiliasm was still widely prevalent after the middle of the 3rd century; see the instructive 24th chapter of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Book VII. “Some of their teachers,” says Dionysius, “look on the Law and the Prophets as nothing, neglect to obey the Gospel, esteem the Epistles of the Apostles as little worth, but, on the contrary, declare the doctrine contained in the Revelation of John to be a great and a hidden mystery.” There were even temporary disruptions in the Egyptian Church on account of Chiliasm (see Chap. 24. 6).) in the West and certain districts of the East; whereas prophecy lost its force so much that it appeared harmless and therefore died away.224224“Lex et prophetæ usque ad Johannem” now became the motto. Churchmen spoke of a “completus numerus prophetarum” (Muratorian Fragment), and formulated the proposition that the prophets corresponded to the pre-Christian stage of revelation, but the Apostles to the Christian; and that in addition to this the apostolic age was also particularly distinguished by gifts of the Spirit. “Prophets and Apostles” now replaced “Apostles, prophets, and teachers,” as the court of appeal. Under such circumstances prophecy might still indeed exist; but it could no longer be of a kind capable of ranking, in the remotest degree, with the authority of the Apostles in point of importance. Hence it was driven into a corner, became extinct, or at most served only to support the measures of the bishops. In order to estimate the great revolution in the spirit of the times let us compare the utterances of Irenæus and Origen about gifts of the Spirit and prophecy. Irenaeus still expressed himself exactly like Justin (Dial. 39, 81, 82, 88); he says (II. 32. 4: V. 6. 1): καθὼς καὶ πολλῶν ἀκούομεν ἀδελφῶν ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ προφητικὰ χαρίσματα ἐχόντων κ.τ.λ. Origen on the contrary (see numerous passages, especially in the treatise c. Cels.), looks back to a period after which the Spirit’s gifts in the Church ceased. It is also a very characteristic circumstance that along with the naturalisation of Christianity in the world, the disappearance of charisms, and the struggle against Gnosticism, a strictly ascetic mode of life came to be viewed with suspicion. Euseb., H. E. V. 3 is especially instructive on this point. Here it is revealed to the confessor Attalus that the confessor Alcibiades, who even in captivity continued his ascetic practice of living on nothing but bread and water, was wrong in refraining from that which God had created and thus become a “τύπος σκανδάλου” to others. Alcibiades changed his mode of life. In Africa, however, (see above, p. 103) dreams and visions still retained their authority in the Church as important means of solving perplexities. 108However, the most effective means of legitimising the present state of things in the Church was a circumstance closely connected with the formation of a canon of early Christian writings, viz., the distinction of an epoch of revelation, along with a corresponding classical period of Christianity unattainable by later generations. This period was connected with the present by means of the New Testament and the apostolic office of the bishops. This later time was to regard the older period as an ideal, but might not dream of really attaining the same perfection, except at least through the medium of the Holy Scriptures and the apostolic office, that is, the Church. The place of the holy Christendom that had the Spirit in its midst was taken by the ecclesiastic institution possessing the “instrument of divine literature” (“instrumentum divinæ litteraturæ”) and the spiritual office. Finally, we must mention another factor that hastened the various changes; this was the theology of the Christian philosophers, which attained importance in the Church as soon as she based her claim on and satisfied her conscience with an objective possession.
3. But there was one rule which specially impeded the naturalisation of the Church in the world and the transformation of a communion of the saved into an institution for obtaining 109salvation, viz., the regulation that excluded gross sinners from Christian membership. Down to the beginning of the third century, in so far as the backslider did not atone for his guilt225225 Tertullian, adv. Marc. IV. 9, enumerates “septem maculas capitalium delictorum,” namely, “idololatria”, “blasphemia”, “homicidium”, “adulterium” “stuprum”, “falsum testimonium”, “fraus”. The stricter treatment probably applied to all these seven offences. So far as I know, the lapse into heresy was not placed in the same category in the first centuries; see Iren. III. 4. 2; Tertull., de præser. 30 and, above all, de pudic. 19 init.; the anonymous writer in Euseb., H. E. V. 28. 12, from which passages it is evident that repentant heretics were readmitted. by public confession before the authorities (see Ep. Lugd. in Euseb., H. E. V. 1 ff.), final exclusion from the Church was still the penalty of relapse into idolatry, adultery, whoredom, and murder; though at the same time the forgiveness of God in the next world was reserved for the fallen provided they remained penitent to the end. In theory indeed this rule was not very old. For the oldest period possessed no theories; and in those days Christians frequently broke through what might have been counted as one by appealing to the Spirit, who, by special announcements — particularly by the mouth of martyrs and prophets — commanded or sanctioned the readmission of lapsed members of the community (see Hermas).226226Hermas based the admissibility of a second atonement on a definite divine revelation to this effect, and did not expressly discuss the admission of gross sinners into the Church generally, but treated of their reception into that of the last days, which he believed had already arrived. See particulars on this point in my article “Lapsi”, in Herzog Real-Encyklopädie, 2 ed. Cf. Preuschen, Tertullian’s Schriften de pænit. et de pudic. mit Rücksicht auf die Bussdisciplin, 1890; Rolffs, Indulgenz-Edict des Kallistus, 1893. Still, the rule corresponded to the ancient notions that Christendom is a communion of saints, that there is no ceremony invariably capable of replacing baptism, that is, possessing the same value, and that God alone can forgive sins. The practice must on the whole have agreed with this rule; but in the course of the latter half of the second century it became an established custom, in the case of a first relapse, to allow atonement to be made once for most sins and perhaps indeed for all, on condition of public confession.227227In the work de pænit. (7 ff.) Tertullian treats this as a fixed Church regulation. K. Müller, Kirchengeschichte I. 1892 p. 114, rightly remarks: “He who desired this expiation continued in the wider circle of the Church, in her “antechamber” indeed, but as her member in the wider sense. This, however, did not exclude the possibility of his being received again, even in this world, into the ranks of those possessing full Christian privileges, — after the performance of penance or exhomologesis. But there was no kind of certainty as to that taking place. Meanwhile this exhomologesis itself underwent a transformation which in Tertullian includes a whole series of basal religious ideas. It is no longer a mere expression of inward feeling, confession to God and the brethren, but is essentially performance. It is the actual attestation of heartfelt sorrow, the undertaking to satisfy God by works of self-humiliation and abnegation, which he can accept as a voluntarily endured punishment and therefore as a substitute for the penalty that naturally awaits the sinner. It is thus the means of pacifying God, appeasing his anger, and gaining his favour again — with the consequent possibility of readmission into the Church. I say the possibility, for readmission does not always follow. Participation in the future kingdom may be hoped for even by him who in this world is shut out from full citizenship and merely remains in the ranks of the penitent. In all probability then it still continued the rule for a person to remain till death in a state of penance or exhomologesis. For readmission continued to involve the assumption that the Church had in some way or other become certain that God had forgiven the sinner, or in other words that she had power to grant this forgiveness in virtue of the Spirit dwelling in her, and that this readmission therefore involved no violation of her holiness.” In such instances it is first prophets and then martyrs that appear as organs of the Spirit, till at last it is no longer the inspired Christian, but the professional medium of the Spirit, viz., the priest, who decides everything. For this, appeal was probably made 110to Hermas, who very likely owed his prestige to the service he here unwittingly rendered. We say “unwittingly,” for he could scarcely have intended such an application of his precepts, though at bottom it was not directly opposed to his attitude. In point of fact, however, this practice introduced something closely approximating to a second baptism. Tertullian indeed (de pænit. 12) speaks unhesitatingly of two planks of salvation.228228In the 2nd century even endeavours at a formal repetition of baptism were not wholly lacking. In Marcionite congregations repetition of baptism is said to have taken place (on the Elkesaites see Vol. I. p. 308). One can only wonder that there is not more frequent mention of such attempts. The assertion of Hippolytus (Philos. IX. 12 fin.) is enigmatical: Ἐπὶ Kαλλίστου πρώτω τετόλμηται δεύτερον ἀυτοῖς βάπτισμα. Moreover, if we consider that in any particular case the decision as to the deadly nature of the sin in question was frequently attended with great difficulty, and certainly, as a rule, was not arrived at with rigorous exactness, we cannot fail to see that, in conceding a second expiation, the Church was beginning to abandon the old idea that Christendom was a community of 111saints. Nevertheless the fixed practice of refusing whoremongers, adulterers, murderers, and idolaters readmission to the Church, in ordinary cases, prevented men from forgetting that there was a boundary line dividing her from the world.
This state of matters continued till about 220.229229See Tertull., de pudic. 12: “hinc est quod neque idololatriæ neque sanguini pax ab ecclesiis redditur.” Orig., de orat. 28 fin; c. Cels. III. 50. In reality the rule was first infringed by the peremptory edict of bishop Calixtus, who, in order to avoid breaking up his community, granted readmission to those who had fallen into sins of the flesh. Moreover, he claimed this power of readmission as a right appertaining to the bishops as successors of the Apostles, that is, as possessors of the Spirit and the power of the keys.230230It is only of whoremongers and idolaters that Tertullian expressly speaks in de pudic. c. I. We must interpret in accordance with this the following statement by Hippolytus in Philos. IX. 12: Κάλλιστος πρῶτος τὰ πρὸς τὰς ἡδονὰς τοῖς ἀνθρώποις συγχωρεῖν ἐπενόησε, λέγων πᾶσιν ὑπ᾽ ἀυτοῦ ἀφίεσθαι ἁμαρτίας. The aim of this measure is still clear from the account of it given by Hippolytus, though this indeed is written in a hostile spirit. Roman Christians were then split into at least five different sects, and Calixtus left nothing undone to break up the unfriendly parties and enlarge his own. In all probability, too, the energetic bishop met with a certain measure of success. From Euseb., H. E. IV. 23. 6, one might be inclined to conclude that, even in Marcus Aurelius’ time, Dionysius of Corinth had issued lax injunctions similar to those of Calixtus. But it must not he forgotten that we have nothing but Eusebius’ report; and it is just in questions of this kind that his accounts are not reliable. At Rome this rescript led to the secession headed by Hippolytus. But, between 220 and 250, the milder practice with regard to the sins of the flesh became prevalent, though it was not yet universally accepted. This, however, resulted in no further schism (Cyp., ep. 55. 21). But up to the year 250 no concessions were allowed in the case of relapse into idolatry.231231 No doubt persecutions were practically unknown in the period between 220 and 260. These were first occasioned by the Decian persecution, since in many towns those who had abjured Christianity were more numerous than those who adhered to it.232232See Cypr., de lapsis. The majority of the bishops, part of them with hesitation, agreed on new principles.233233What scruples were caused by this innovation is shown by the first 40 letters in Cyprian’s collection. He himself had to struggle with painful doubts. 112To begin with, permission was given to absolve repentant apostates on their deathbed. Next, a distinction was made between sacrificati and libellatici, the latter being more mildly treated. Finally, the possibility of readmission was conceded under certain severe conditions to all the lapsed, a casuistic proceeding was adopted in regard to the laity, and strict measures — though this was not the universal rule — were only adopted towards the clergy. In consequence of this innovation, which logically resulted in the gradual cessation of the belief that there can be only one repentance after baptism — an assumption that was untenable in principle — Novatian’s schism took place and speedily rent the Church in twain. But, even in cases where unity was maintained, many communities observed the stricter practice down to the fifth century.234234Apart from some epistles of Cyprian, Socrates, II. E. V. 22, is our chief source of information on this point. See also Conc. Illib. can. 1, 2, 6-8, 12, 17, 18-47, 70-73, 75. What made it difficult to introduce this change by regular legislation was the authority to forgive sins in God’s stead, ascribed in primitive times to the inspired, and at a later period to the confessors in virtue of their special relation to Christ or the Spirit (see Ep. Lugd. in Euseb., H. E. V. 1 ff.; Cypr. epp.; Tertull. de pudic. 22). The confusion occasioned by the confessors after the Decian persecution led to the non-recognition of any rights of “spiritual” persons other than the bishops. These confessors had frequently abetted laxity of conduct, whereas, if we consider the measure of secularisation found among the great mass of Christians, the penitential discipline insisted on by the bishops is remarkable for its comparative severity. The complete adoption of the episcopal constitution coincided with the introduction of the unlimited right to forgive sins.235235See my article “Novatian” in Herzog’s Real-Encyklopädie, 2nd ed. One might be tempted to assume that the introduction of the practice of unlimited forgiveness of sins was an “evangelical reaction” against the merciless legalism which, in the case of the Gentile Church indeed, had established itself from the beginning. As a matter of fact the bishops and the laxer party appealed to the New Testament in justification of their practice. This had already been done by the followers of Calixtus and by himself. See Philos. IX. 12: φάσκοντες Χριστὸν ἀφιέναι τοῖς εὐδοκοῦσι; Rom. XIV. 4 and Matt. XIII. 29 were also quoted. Before this Tertuilian’s opponents who favoured laxity had appealed exactly in the same way to numerous Bible texts, e.g., Matt. X. 23: XI. 19 etc., see de monog., de pudic., de ieiun. Cyprian is also able to quote many passages from the Gospels. However, as the bishops and their party did not modify their conception of baptism, but rather maintained in principle, as before, that baptism imposes only obligations for the future, the “evangelical reaction” must not be estimated very highly; (see below, p. 117, and my essay in the Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche, Vol. I., “Die Lehre von der Seligkeit allein durch den Glauben in der alten Kirche.”113
4. The original conception of the relation of the Church to salvation or eternal bliss was altered by this development. According to the older notion the Church was the sure communion of salvation and of saints, which rested on the forgiveness of sins mediated by baptism, and excluded everything unholy. It is not the Church, but God alone, that forgives sins, and, as a rule, indeed, this is only done through baptism, though, in virtue of his unfathomable grace, also now and then by special proclamations, the pardon coming into effect for repentant sinners, after death, in heaven. If Christendom readmitted gross sinners, it would anticipate the judgment of God, as it would thereby assure them of salvation. Hence it can only take back those who have been excluded in cases where their offences have not been committed against God himself, but have consisted in transgressing the commandments of the Church, that is, in venial sins.236236The distinction of sins committed against God himself, as we find it in Tertullian, Cyprian, and other Fathers, remains involved in an obscurity that I cannot clear up. But in course of time it was just in lay circles that faith in God’s grace became weaker trust in the Church stronger. He whom the Church abandoned was lost to the world; therefore she must not abandon him. This state of things was expressed in the new interpretation of the proposition, “no salvation outside the Church” (“extra ecclesiam nulla salus”), viz., the Church alone saves from damnation which is otherwise certain. In this conception the nature of the Church is depotentiated, but her powers are extended. If she is the institution which, according to Cyprian, is the indispensable preliminary condition of salvation, she can no longer be a sure communion of the saved; in other words, she becomes an institution from which proceeds the communion of saints; she includes both saved and unsaved. Thus her religious character consists in her being the indispensable 114medium, in so far as she alone guarantees to the individual the possibility of redemption. From this, however, it immediately follows that the Church would anticipate the judgment of God if she finally excluded anyone from her membership who did not give her up of his own accord; whereas she could never prejudge the ultimate destiny of a man by readmission.237237Cyprian never expelled any one from the Church, unless he had attacked the authority of the bishops, and thus in the opinion of this Father placed himself outside her pale by his own act. But it also follows that the Church must possess a means of repairing any injury upon earth, a means of equal value with baptism, namely, a sacrament of the forgiveness of sins. With this she acts in God’s name and stead, but — and herein lies the inconsistency — she cannot by this means establish any final condition of salvation. In bestowing forgiveness on the sinner she in reality only reconciles him with herself, and thereby, in fact, merely removes the certainty of damnation. In accordance with this theory the holiness of the Church can merely consist in her possession of the means of salvation: the Church is a holy institution in virtue of the gifts with which she is endowed. She is the moral seminary that trains for salvation and the institution that exercises divine powers in Christ’s room. Both of these conceptions presuppose political forms; both necessarily require priests and more especially an episcopate. (In de pudic. 21 Tertullian already defines the position of his adversary by the saying, “ecclesia est numerus episcoporum.”) This episcopate by its unity guarantees the unity of the Church and has received the power to forgive sins (Cyp., ep. 69. 11).
The new conception of the Church, which was a necessary outcome of existing circumstances and which, we may remark, was not formulated in contradictory terms by Cyprian, but by Roman bishops,238238Hippol., Philos. IX. 12: Καὶ παραβολὴν τῶν ζιζανίων πρὸς τοῦτο ἔφη ὁ Κάλλιστος λέγεσθαι· Ἄφετε τὰ ζιζάνια συναύξειν τῷ σιτῷ τουτέστιν ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοὺς ἁμαρτάνοντας. Ἀλλὰ καὶ τὴν κιβωτὸν τοῦ Νῶε εἰς ὁμοίωμα ἐκκλησίας ἔφη γεγονέναι, ἐν ᾗ καὶ κύνες καὶ λύκοι καὶ κόρακες κὰι πάντα τὰ καθαρὰ καὶ ἀκάθαρτα. ὁύτω φάσκων δεῖν εἶναι ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ ὁμοίως· καὶ ὅσα πρὸς τοῦτο δυνατὸς ἦν συνάγειν ὁύτως ἡρμήνευσεν. From Tertull., de idolol. 24, one cannot help assuming that even before the year 200 the laxer sort in Carthage had already appealed to the Ark. (“Viderimus si secundum arcæ typum et corvus et milvus et lupus et canis et serpens in ecclesia erit. Certe idololatres in arcæ typo non habetur. Quod in arca non fuit, in ecclesia non sit”). But we do not know what form this took and what inferences they drew. Moreover, we have here a very instructive example of the multitudinous difficulties in which the Fathers were involved by typology: the Ark is the Church, hence the dogs and snakes are men. To solve these problems it required an abnormal degree of acuteness and wit, especially as each solution always started fresh questions. Orig. (Hom. II. in Genes. III.) also viewed the Ark as the type of the Church (the working out of the image in Hom. I. in Ezech., Lomm. XIV. p. 24 sq., is instructive); but apparently in the wild animals he rather sees the simple Christians who are not yet sufficiently trained — at any rate he does not refer to the whoremongers and adulterers who must be tolerated in the Church. The Roman bishop Stephen again, positively insisted on Calixtus’ conception of the Church, whereas Cornelius followed Cyprian (see Euseb., H. E. VI. 43. 10), who never declared sinners to be a necessary part of the Church in the same fashion as Calixtus did. (See the following note and Cyp., epp. 67. 6; 68. 5). was the first thing that gave a fundamental 115religious significance to the separation of clergy and laity. The powers exercised by bishops and priests were thereby fixed and hallowed. No doubt the old order of things, which gave laymen a share in the administration of moral discipline, still continued in the third century, but it became more and more a mere form. The bishop became the practical vicegerent of Christ; he disposed of the power to bind and to loose. But the recollection of the older form of Christianity continued to exert an influence on the Catholic Church of the third century. It is true that, if we can trust Hippolytus’ account, Calixtus had by this time firmly set his face against the older idea, inasmuch as he not only defined the Church as essentially a mixed body (corpus permixtum), but also asserted the unlawfulness of deposing the bishop even in case of mortal sin.239239 Philos., 1.c,: Κάλλιστος ἐδογμάτισεν ὅπως εἰ ἐπίσκοπος ἁμάρτοι τι, εἰ καὶ πρὸς θάνατον, μὴ δεῖν κατατίθεσθαι. That Hippolytus is not exaggerating here is evident from Cyp., epp. 67, 68; for these passages make it very probable that Stephen also assumed the irremovability of a bishop on account of gross sins or other failings. But we do not find that definition in Cyprian, and, what is of more importance, he still required a definite degree of active Christianity as a sine quâ non in the case of bishops; and assumed it as a self-evident necessity. He who does not give evidence of this forfeits his episcopal office ipso facto.240240See Cypr., epp. 65, 66, 68; also 55. 11. Now if we consider 116that Cyprian makes the Church, as the body of believers (plebs credentium), so dependent on the bishops, that the latter are the only Christians not under tutelage, the demand in question denotes a great deal. It carries out the old idea of the Church in a certain fashion, as far as the bishops are concerned. But for this very reason it endangers the new conception in a point of capital importance; for the spiritual acts of a sinful bishop are invalid;241241This is asserted by Cyprian in epp. 65. 4 and 67. 3; but he even goes on to declare that everyone is polluted that has fellowship with an impure priest, and takes part in the offering celebrated by him. and if the latter, as a notorious sinner, is no longer bishop, the whole certainty of the ecclesiastical system ceases. Moreover, an appeal to the certainty of God’s installing the bishops and always appointing the right ones242242On this point the greatest uncertainty prevails in Cyprian. Sometimes he says that God himself instals the bishops, and it is therefore a deadly sin against God to criticise them (e.g., in ep. 66. 1); on other occasions he remembers that the bishops have been ordained by bishops; and again, as in ep. 67. 3, 4, he appears to acknowledge the community’s right to choose and control them. Cf. the sections referring to Cyprian in Reuter “Augustinische Studien” (Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte, Vol. VII., p. 199 ff.). is of no avail, if false ones manifestly find their way in. Hence Cyprian’s idea of the Church — and this is no dishonour to him — still involved an inconsistency which, in the fourth century, was destined to produce a very serious crisis in the Donatist struggle.243243The Donatists were quite justified in appealing to Cyprian, that is, in one of his two aspects. The view, however — which Cyprian never openly expressed, and which was merely the natural inference from his theory — that the Catholic Church, though the “one dove” (“una columba”), is in truth not coincident with the number of the elect, was clearly recognised and frankly expressed by Origen before him. Origen plainly distinguished between spiritual and fleshly members of the Church; and spoke of such as only belong to her outwardly, but are not Christians. As these are finally overpowered by the gates of hell, Origen does not hesitate to class them as merely seeming members of the Church. Conversely, he contemplates the possibility of a person being expelled from her fellowship and yet remaining a member in 117the eyes of God.244244Origen not only distinguishes between different groups within the Church as judged by their spiritual understanding and moral development (Comm. in Matt. Tom. XI. at Chap. XV. 29; Hom. II. in Genes. Chap. 3; Hom. in Cantic. Tom. I. at Chap. I. 4: “ecclesia una quidem est, cum perfecta est; multæ vero sunt adolescentulæ, cum adhuc instruuntur et proficiunt”; Hom. III. in Levit. Chap. iii.), but also between spiritual and carnal members (Hom. XXVI. in Num. Chap. vii.) i.e., between true Christians and those who only bear that name without heartfelt faith — who outwardly take part in everything, but bring forth fruits neither in belief nor conduct. Such Christians he as little views as belonging to the Church as does Clement of Alexandria (see Strom. VII. 14. 87, 88). To him they are like the Jebusites who were left in Jerusalem; they have no part in the promises of Christ, but are lost (Comm. in Matt. T. XII. c. xii.). It is the Church’s task to remove such members, whence we see that Origen was far from sharing Calixtus’ view of the Church as a corpus permixtum; but to carry out this process so perfectly that only the holy and the saved remain is a work beyond the powers of human sagacity. One must therefore content oneself with expelling notorious sinners; see Hom. XXI. in Jos., c. i.: “sunt qui ignobilem et degenerem vitam ducunt, qui et fide et actibus et omni conversatione sua perversi sunt. Neque enim possibile est, ad liquidum purgari ecclesiam, dum in terris est, ita ut neque impius in ea quisquam, neque peccator residere videatur, sed sint in ea omnes sancti et beati, et in quibus nulla prorsus peccati macula deprehendatur. Sed sicut dicitur de zizaniis: Ne forte eradicantes zizania simul eradicetis et triticum, ita etiam super its dici potest, in quibus vel dubia vel occulta peccata sunt . . . Eos saltem eiiciamus quos possumus, quorum peccata manifesta sunt. Ubi enim peccatum non est evidens, eiicere de ecclesia neminem possumus.” In this way indeed very many wicked people remain in the Church (Comm. in Matt. T. X. at c. xiii. 47 f.: μὴ ξενιζῶμεθα, ἐάν ὁρῶμεν ἡμῶν τὰ ἀθροίσματα πεπληρωμένα καὶ πονηρῶν); but in his work against Celsus Origen already propounded that empiric and relative theory of the Christian Churches which views them as simply “better” than the societies and civic communities existing alongside of them. The 29th and 30th chapters of the 3rd book against Celsus, in which he compares the Christians with the other population of Athens, Corinth, and Alexandria, and the heads of congregations with the councillors and mayors of these cities, are exceedingly instructive and attest the revolution of the times. In conclusion, however, we must point out that Origen expressly asserts that a person unjustly excommunicated remains a member of the Church in God’s eyes; see Hom. XIV. in Levit. c. iii.: “ita fit, ut interdum ille qui foras mittitur intus sit, et ille foris, qui intus videtur retineri.” Döllinger (Hippolytus and Calixtus, page 254 ff.) has correctly concluded that Origen followed the disputes between Hippolytus and Calixtus in Rome, and took the side of the former. Origen’s trenchant remarks about the pride and arrogance of the bishops of large towns (in Matth. XI. 9. 15: XII. 9-14: XVI. 8. 22 and elsewhere, e.g., de orat. 28, Hom. VI. in Isai. c. i., in Joh. X. 16), and his denunciation of such of them as, in order to glorify God, assume a mere distinction of names between Father and Son, are also correctly regarded by Langen as specially referring to the Roman ecclesiastics (Geschichte der römischen Kirche I. p. 242). Thus Calixtus was opposed by the three greatest theologians of the age — Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Origen. Nevertheless he by no means attained to clearness on the point, in which case, moreover, he would have been the first to do so; nor did he give an impulse to further reflection on the problem. Besides, speculations were of no 118use here. The Church with her priests, her holy books, and gifts of grace, that is, the moderate secularisation of Christendom corrected by the means of grace, was absolutely needed in order to prevent a complete lapse into immorality.245245If, in assuming the irremovability of a bishop even in case of mortal sin, the Roman bishops went beyond Cyprian, Cyprian drew from his conception of the Church a conclusion which the former rejected, viz., the invalidity of baptism administered by non-Catholics. Here, in all likelihood, the Roman bishops were only determined by their interest in smoothing the way to a return or admission to the Church in the case of non-Catholics. In this instance they were again induced to adhere to their old practice from a consideration of the catholicity of the Church. It redounds to Cyprian’s credit that he drew and firmly maintained the undeniable inferences from his own theory in spite of tradition. The matter never led to a great dogmatic controversy.
But a minority struggled against this Church, not with speculations, but by demanding adherence to the old practice with regard to lapsed members. Under the leadership of the Roman presbyter, Novatian, this section formed a coalition in the Empire that opposed the Catholic confederation.246246As to the events during the vacancy in the Roman see immediately before Novatian’s schism, and the part then played by the latter, who was still a member of the Church, see my essay: “Die Briefe des römischen Klerus aus der Zeit. der Sedisvacanz im Jahre 250” (Abhandl. f. Weizsäcker, 1892). Their adherence to the old system of Church discipline involved a reaction against the secularising process, which did not seem to be tempered by the spiritual powers of the bishops. Novatian’s conception of the Church, of ecclesiastical absolution and the rights of the priests, and in short, his notion of the power of the keys is different from that of his opponents. This is clear from, a variety of considerations. For he (with his followers) assigned to the Church the right and duty of expelling gross sinners once for all;247247So far as we are able to judge, Novatian himself did not extend the severer treatment to all gross sinners (see ep. 55. 26, 27); but only decreed it in the case of the lapsed. It is, however, very probable that in the later Novatian Churches no mortal sinner was absolved (see, e.g., Socrates, H. E. I. 10). The statement of Ambrosius (de pænit. III. 3) that Novatian made no difference between gross and lesser sins and equally refused forgiveness to transgressors of every kind distorts the truth as much as did the old reproach laid to his charge, viz., that he as “a Stoic” made no distinction between sins. Moreover, in excluding gross sinners, Novatian’s followers did not mean to abandon them, but to leave them under the discipline and intercession of the Church. he denied her the authority to absolve 119idolaters, but left these to the forgiveness of God who alone has the power of pardoning sins committed against himself; and he asserted: “non est pax illi ab episcopo necessaria habituro gloriæ suæ (scil. martyrii) pacem et accepturo maiorem de domini dignatione mercedem,” — “the absolution of the bishop is not needed by him who will receive the peace of his glory (i.e., martyrdom) and will obtain a greater reward from the approbation of the Lord” (Cypr. ep. 57. 4), and on the other hand taught: “peccato alterius inquinari alterum et idololatriam delinquentis ad non delinquentem transire,” — “the one is defiled by the sin of the other and the idolatry of the transgressor passes over to him who does not transgress.” His proposition that none but God can forgive sins does not depotentiate the idea of the Church; but secures both her proper religious significance and the full sense of her dispensations of grace: it limits her powers and extent in favour of her content. Refusal of her forgiveness under certain circumstances — though this does not exclude the confident hope of God’s mercy — can only mean that in Novatian’s view this forgiveness is the foundation of salvation and does not merely avert the certainty of perdition. To the Novatians, then, membership of the Church is not the sine quâ non of salvation, but it really secures it in some measure. In certain cases nevertheless the Church may not anticipate the judgment of God. Now it is never by exclusion, but by readmission, that she does so. As the assembly of the baptised, who have received God’s forgiveness, the Church must be a real communion of salvation and of saints; hence she cannot endure unholy persons in her midst without losing her essence. Each gross sinner that is tolerated within her calls her legitimacy in question. But, from this point of view, the constitution of the Church, i.e., the distinction of lay and spiritual and the authority of the bishops, likewise retained nothing but the secondary importance it had in earlier times. For, according to those principles, the primary question as regards Church membership 120is not connection with the clergy (the bishop). It is rather connection with the community, fellowship with which secures the salvation that may indeed be found outside its pale, but not with certainty. But other causes contributed to lessen the importance of the bishops: the art of casuistry, so far-reaching in its results, was unable to find a fruitful soil here, and the laity were treated in exactly the same way as the clergy. The ultimate difference between Novatian and Cyprian as to the idea of the Church and the power to bind and loose did not become clear to the latter himself. This was because, in regard to the idea of the Church, he partly overlooked the inferences from his own view and to some extent even directly repudiated them. An attempt to lay down a principle for judging the case is found in ep. 69. 7: “We and the schismatics have neither the same law of the creed nor the same interrogation, for when they say: ‘you believe in the remission of sins and eternal life through the holy Church’, they speak falsely” (“non est una nobis et schismaticis symboli lex neque eadem interrogatio; nam cum dicunt, credis in remissionem peccatorum et vitam æternam per sanctam ecclesiam, mentiuntur”). Nor did Dionysius of Alexandria, who endeavoured to accumulate reproaches against Novatian, succeed in forming any effective accusation (Euseb., H. E. VII. 8). Pseudo-Cyprian had just as little success (ad Novatianum).
It was not till the subsequent period, when the Catholic Church had resolutely pursued the path she had entered, that the difference in principle manifested itself with unmistakable plainness. The historical estimate of the contrast must vary in proportion as one contemplates the demands of primitive Christianity or the requirements of the time. The Novatian confederation undoubtedly preserved a valuable remnant of the old tradition. The idea that the Church, as a fellowship of salvation, must also be the fellowship of saints, (Καθαροί) corresponds to the ideas of the earliest period. The followers of Novatian did not entirely identify the political and religious attributes of the Church; they neither transformed the gifts of salvation into means of education, nor confused the reality with the possibility of redemption; and they did not completely lower 121the requirements for a holy life. But on the other hand, in view of the minimum insisted upon, the claim that they were the really evangelical party and that they fulfilled the law of Christ248248The title of the evangelical life (evangelical perfection, imitation of Christ) in contrast to that of ordinary Catholic Christians, a designation which we first find among the Encratites (see Vol. I. p. 237, note 3) and Marcionites (see Tertull., adv. Marc. IV. 14: “Venio nunc ad ordinarias sententias Marcionis, per quas proprietatem doctrinæ suæ inducit ad edictum, ut ita dixerim, Christi, Beati mendici etc.”), and then in Tertullian (in his pre-Montanist period, see ad mart., de patient., de pænit., de idolol.; in his later career, see de coron. 8, 9, 13, 14; de fuga 8, 13; de ieiun. 6, 8, 15; de monog. 3, 5, I I; see Aubé, Les Chrétiens dans l’empire Romain de la fin des Antonins, 1881, p. 237 ff.: “Chrétiens intransigeants et Chrétiens opportunistes”) was expressly claimed by Novatian (Cypr., ep. 44. 3: “Si Novatiani se adsertores evangelii et Christi esse confitentur”; 46. 2: “nec putetis, sic vos evangelium Christi adserere”). Cornelius in Eusebius, H. E. VI. 43. 11 calls Novatian: ὁ ἐκδικητὴς τοῦ εὐαγγελίου. This is exceedingly instructive, and all the more so when we note that, even as far back as the end of the second century, it was not the “evangelical”, but the lax, who declared the claims of the Gospel to be satisfied if they kept God in their hearts, but otherwise lived in entire conformity with the world. See Tertullian, de spec. 1; de pænit. 5: “Sed aiunt quidam, satis deum habere, si corde et animo suspiciatur, licet actu minus fiat; itaque se salvo metu et fide peccare, hoc est salva castitate matrimonia violare etc.”; de ieiun. 2: “Et scimus, quales sint carnalium commodorum suasoriæ, quam facile dicatur: Opus est de totis præcordiis credam, diligam deum et proximum tanquam me. In his enim duobus præceptis tota lex pendet et prophetæ, non in pulmonum et intestinorum meorum inanitate.” The Valentinian Heracleon was similarly understood, see above Vol. I. p. 262. was a presumption. The one step taken to avert the secularising of the Church, exclusion of the lapsed, was certainly, considering the actual circumstances immediately following a great apostasy, a measure of radical importance; but, estimated by the Gospel and in fact simply by the demands of the Montanists fifty years before, it was remarkably insignificant. These Catharists did indeed go the length of expelling all so-called mortal sinners, because it was too crying an injustice to treat libellatici more severely than unabashed transgressors;249249Tertullian (de pud. 22) had already protested vigorously against such injustice. but, even then, it was still a gross self-deception to style themselves the “pure ones”, since the Novatian Churches speedily ceased to be any stricter than the Catholic in their renunciation of the world. At least we do not hear that asceticism and devotion to religious faith were very much more prominent in 122the Catharist Church than in the Catholic. On the contrary, judging from the sources that have come down to us, we may confidently say that the picture presented by the two Churches in the subsequent period was practically identical.250250From Socrates’ Ecclesiastical History we can form a good idea of the state of the Novatian communities in Constantinople and Asia Minor. On the later history of the Catharist Church see my article “Novatian”, l.c., 667 ff. The most remarkable feature of this history is the amalgamation of Novatian’s adherents in Asia Minor with the Montanists and the absence of distinction between their manner of life and that of the Catholics. In the 4th century of course the Novatians were nevertheless very bitterly attacked. As Novatian’s adherents did not differ from the opposite party in doctrine and constitution, their discipline of penance appears an archaic fragment which it was a doubtful advantage to preserve; and their rejection of the Catholic dispensations of grace (practice of rebaptism) a revolutionary measure, because it had insufficient justification. But the distinction between venial and mortal sins, a theory they held in common with the Catholic Church, could not but prove especially fatal to them; whereas their opponents, through their new regulations as to penance, softened this distinction, and that not to the detriment of morality. For an entirely different treatment of so-called gross and venial transgressions must in every case deaden the conscience towards the latter.
5. If we glance at the Catholic Church and leave the melancholy recriminations out of account, we cannot fail to see the wisdom, foresight, and comparative strictness251251This indeed was disputed by Hippolytus and Origen. with which the bishops carried out the great revolution that so depotentiated the Church as to make her capable of becoming a prop of civic society and of the state, without forcing any great changes upon them.252252This last conclusion was come to after painful scruples, particularly in the East — as we may learn from the 6th and 7th books of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History. For a time the majority of the Oriental bishops adopted an attitude favourable to Novatian and unfavourable to Cornelius and Cyprian. Then they espoused the cause of the latter, though without adopting the milder discipline in all cases (see the canons of Ancyra and Neocæsarea IV. sæc. init.). Throughout the East the whole question became involved in confusion, and was not decided in accordance with clear principles. In giving up the last remnant of her exclusiveness (the canons of Elvira are still very strict while those of Arles are lax), the Church became “Catholic” in quite a special sense, in other words, she became a community where everyone could find his place, provided he submitted to certain regulations and rules. Then, and not till then, was the Church’s pre-eminent importance for society and the state assured. It was no longer variance, and no longer the sword (Matt. X. 34, 35), but peace and safety that she brought; she was now capable of becoming an educative or, since there was little more to educate in the older society, a conservative power. At an earlier date the Apologists (Justin, Melito, Tertullian himself) had already extolled her as such, but it was not till now that she really possessed this capacity. Among Christians, first the Encratites and Marcionites, next the adherents of the new prophecy, and lastly the Novatians had by turns opposed the naturalisation of their religion in the world and the transformation of the Church into a political commonwealth. Their demands had progressively become less exacting, whence also their internal vigour had grown ever weaker. But, in view of the continuous secularising of Christendom, the Montanist demands at the beginning of the 3rd century already denoted no less than those of the Encratites about the middle of the second, and no more than those of the Novatians about the middle of the third. The Church resolutely declared war on all these attempts to elevate evangelical perfection to an inflexible law for all, and overthrew her opponents. She pressed on in her world-wide mission and appeased her conscience by allowing a twofold morality within her bounds. Thus she created the conditions which enabled the ideal of evangelical perfection to be realised in her own midst, in the form of monasticism, without threatening her existence. “What is monasticism but an ecclesiastical institution that makes it possible to separate oneself from the world and to remain in the Church, to separate oneself from the outward Church without renouncing her, to set oneself apart for purposes of sanctification and yet to claim the highest rank among her members, to form a brotherhood and yet to further the interests of the Church?” In succeeding times great Church movements, such as the Montanist and Novatian, only succeeded in attaining local or provincial importance. See the movement at Rome at the beginning of the 4th century, of which we unfortunately know so little (Lipsius, Chronologie der römischen Bischöfe, pp. 250-255); the Donatist Revolution, and the Audiani in the East. In learning to look upon the Church as a training 123school for salvation, provided with penalties and gifts of grace, and in giving up its religious independence in deference to her authority, Christendom as it existed in the latter half of the third century,253253It is a characteristic circumstance that Tertullian’s de ieiun. does not assume that the great mass of Christians possess an actual knowledge of the Bible. submitted to an arrangement that was really best adapted to its own interests. In the great Church every distinction between her political and religious conditions necessarily led to fatal disintegrations, to laxities, such as arose in Carthage owing to the enthusiastic behaviour of the confessors; or to the breaking up of communities. The last was a danger 124incurred in all cases where the attempt was made to exercise unsparing severity. A casuistic proceeding was necessary as well as a firm union of the bishops as pillars of the Church. Not the least important result of the crises produced by the great persecutions was the fact that the bishops in West and East were thereby forced into closer connection and at the same time acquired full jurisdiction (“per episcopos solos peccata posse dimitti”). If we consider that the archiepiscopal constitution had not only been simultaneously adopted, but had also attained the chief significance in the ecclesiastical organisation,254254The condition of the constitution of the Church about the middle of the 3rd century (in accordance with Cyprian’s epistles) is described by Otto Ritschl, l. c., pp. 142-237. Parallels to the provincial and communal constitution of secular society are to be found throughout. we may say that the Empire Church was completed the moment that Diocletian undertook the great reorganisation of his dominions.255255To how great an extent the Church in Decius’ time was already a state within the state is shown by a piece of information given in Cyprian’s 55th epistle (c. 9.): “Cornelius sedit intrepidus Romæ in sacerdotali cathedra eo tempore: cum tyrannus infestus sacerdotibus dei fanda adque infanda comminaretur, cum multo patientius et tolerabilius audiret levari adversus se æmulum principem quam constitui Romæ dei sacerdotem.” On the other hand the legislation with regard to Christian flamens adopted by the Council of Elvira, which, as Duchesne (Mélanges Renier: Le Concile d’Elvire et les flamines chrétiens, 1886) has demonstrated, most probably dates from before the Diocletian persecution of 300, shows how closely the discipline of the Church had already been adapted to the heathen regulations in the Empire. In addition to this there was no lack of syncretist systems within Christianity as early as the 3rd century (see the Κεστοί of Julius Africanus, and other examples). Much information on this point is to be derived from Origen’s works and also, in many respects, from the attitude of this author himself. We may also refer to relic- and hero-worship, the foundation of which was already laid in the 3rd century, though the “religion of the second order” did not become a recognised power in the Church or force itself into the official religion till the 4th. No doubt the old Christianity had found its place in the new Church, but it was covered over and concealed. In spite of all that, little alteration had been made in the expression of faith, in religious language; people spoke of the universal holy Church, just as they did a hundred years before. Here the development in the history of dogma was in a very special sense a development in the history of the Church. Catholicism was now complete; the Church had suppressed all utterances of individual piety, in the sense of their being binding on 125Christians, and freed herself from every feature of exclusiveness. In order to be a Christian a man no longer required in any sense to be a saint. “What made the Christian a Christian was no longer the possession of charisms, but obedience to ecclesiastical authority,” share in the gifts of the Church, and the performance of penance and good works. The Church by her edicts legitimised average morality, after average morality had created the authority of the Church. (“La médiocrité fonda l’autorité”). The dispensations of grace, that is, absolution and the Lord’s Supper, abolished the charismatic gifts. The Holy Scriptures, the apostolic episcopate, the priests, the sacraments, average morality in accordance with which the whole world could live, were mutually conditioned. The consoling words: “Jesus receives sinners”, were subjected to an interpretation that threatened to make them detrimental to morality.256256See Tertullian’s frightful accusations in de pudic. (10) and de ieiun. (fin) against the “Psychici”, i.e., the Catholic Christians. He says that with them the saying had really come to signify “peccando promeremur”, by which, however, he does not mean the Augustinian: “o felix culpa”. And with all that the self-righteousness of proud ascetics was not excluded — quite the contrary. Alongside of a code of morals, to which any one in case of need could adapt himself, the Church began to legitimise a morality of self-chosen, refined sanctity, which really required no Redeemer. It was as in possession of this constitution that the great statesman found and admired her, and recognised in her the strongest support of the Empire.257257The relation of this Church to theology, what theology she required and what she rejected, and, moreover, to what extent she rejected the kind that she accepted may be seen by reference to chap. 5 ff. We may here also direct attention to the peculiar position of Origen in the Church as well as to that of Lucian the Martyr, concerning whom Alexander of Alexandria (Theoderet, H.E. 1. 3) remarks that he was a ἀποσυνάγωγος in Antioch for a long time, namely, during the rule of three successive bishops.
A comparison of the aims of primitive Christendom with those of ecclesiastical society
at the end of the third century — a comparison of the actual state of things at the
different periods is hardly possible — will always lead to a disheartening result;
but the parallel is in itself unjust. The truth rather is that the correct standpoint from which to judge the matter was already
126indicated by Origen in the comparison he drew (c. Cels. 111. 29. 30) between the
Christian society of the third century and the non-Christian, between the Church
and the Empire, the clergy and the magistrates.258258 We have already referred to
the passage above. On account of its importance we may quote it here:
“According to Celsus Apollo required the Metapontines to regard Aristeas as a god; but in their eyes the latter was but a man and perhaps not a virtuous one . . . They would therefore not obey Apollo, and thus it happened that no one believed in the divinity of Aristeas. But with regard to Jesus we may say that it proved a blessing to the human race to acknowledge him as the Son of God, as God who appeared on earth united with body and soul.” Origen then says that the demons counterworked this belief, and continues: “But God who had sent Jesus on earth brought to nought all the snares and plots of the demons and aided in the victory of the Gospel of Jesus throughout the whole earth in order to promote the conversion and amelioration of men; and everywhere brought about the establishment of Churches which are ruled by other laws than those that regulate the Churches of the superstitious, the dissolute and the unbelieving. For of such people the civil population (πολιτευόμενα ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῶν πολέων πλήθη) of the towns almost everywhere consists.” Αἱ δὲ τοῦ Θεοῦ Χριστῷ μαθητευθεῦσαι ἐκκλησίαι, συνεξεταζόμεναι ταῖς ὧν παροικοῦσι δήμων ἐκκλησίαις, ὡς φωστῆρας εἰσιν ἐν κόσμῳ. τίς γὰρ οὐκ ἄν ὁμολογήσαι, καὶ τοὺς χείρους τῶν ἀπὸ τῆς ἐκκλησίας καὶ συγκρίσει βελτιόνων ἐλάττους πολλῷ κρείττους τυγχάνειν τῶν ἐν τοῖς δήμοις ἐκκλησιῶν; ἐκκλησία μὲν γὰρ τοῦ Θεοῦ, φέρ᾽ εἰπεῖν, ἡ Ἀθήνῃσι πραεῖά τις καὶ εὐσταθής, ἅτε Θεῷ ἀρέσκειν τῷ ἐπὶ πᾶσι βουλομένη· ἡ δ᾽Αθηναίων ἐκκλησία στασιώδης καὶ οὐδαμῶς παραβαλλομένη τῇ ἐκεῖ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ· τὸ δ᾽αὐτὸ ἐρεῖς. Περὶ ἐκκλησίας τοῦ Θεοῦ τῆς ἐν Κορίνθῳ καὶ τῆς ἐκκλησίας τοῦ δήμου Κορινθίων·; καὶ, φέρ᾽ εἰπεῖν, περὶ ἐκκλησίας τοῦ Θεοῦ τῆς ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ, καὶ ἐκκλησίας τοῦ Ἀλεξανδρέων δήμου. Καὶ ἐὰν εὐγνώμων ᾖ ὁ τούτου ἀκούων καὶ φιλαλήθως ἐξετάθῃ τὰ πράγματα, θαυμάσεται τὸν καὶ βουλευσάμενον καὶ ἀνύσαι δυνηθέντα πανταχοῦ συστήσασθαι ἐκκλησίας τοῦ Θεοῦ, παροικούσασ ἒκλησίαις τῶν καθ᾽ ἑκάστην πόλιν δήμων οὕτω δὲ καὶ βουλὴν ἐκκλησίας Θεοῦ βουλῇ τῇ καθ᾽ ἑκάστην πόλιν συνεξετάζων εὕροις ἄν ὅτι τινὲς μὲν τῆς ἐκκλησίας βουλευταὶ ἄξιοὶ εἰσι — εἵ τίς ἐστιν ἐν τῷ παντὶ πόλις τοῦ Θεοῦ — ἐν εκείνῃ πολιτεύεσθαι ὁι δὲ πανταχοῦ βουλευταὶ οὐδὲν ἄξιον τῆς ἐκ κατατάξεως ὑπεροχῆς, ἢν ὑπερέχειν δοκοῦσι τῶν πολιτῶν, φέρουσιν ἐν τοῖς ἑαυτῶν ἤθεσιν· οὕτω δὲ καὶ ἄρχοντα ἐκκλησίας ἑκάςτης πόλεως ἄρχοντι τῶν ἐν τῇ πόλει συγκριτέν· ἵνα κατανοήσῃς, ὅτι καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν σφόδρα ἀποτυγχανομένων βουλευτῶν καὶ ἀρχόντων ἐκκλησίας Θεοῦ, καὶ ῥαθυμοτέρων παρὰ τοὺς εὐτονωτέρως βιοῦντας οὐδὲν ἧττόν ἐστιν εὑρεῖν ὡς ἐπίπαν ὑπεροχήν τὴν ἐν τῇ ἐπὶ τὰς ἀρετὰς προκοπῇ παρὰ τὰ ἤθη τῶν ἐν ταῖς πόλεσι βουλευτῶν καὶ ἀρχόντων. Amidst the general disorganisation of all relationships, and from amongst the ruins of a shattered fabric, a new structure, founded on the belief in one God, in a sure revelation, and in eternal life, was being laboriously raised. It gathered within it more and more all the elements still capable of continued existence; it readmitted the old world, cleansed of its grossest impurities, and raised holy 127barriers to secure its conquests against all attacks. Within this edifice justice and civic virtue shone with no greater brightness than they did upon the earth generally; but within it burned two mighty flames — the assurance of eternal life, guaranteed by Christ, and the practice of mercy. He who knows history is aware that the influence of epoch-making personages is not to be sought in its direct consequences alone, as these speedily disappear: that structure which prolonged the life of a dying world, and brought strength from the Holy One to another struggling into existence, was also partly founded on the Gospel, and but for this would neither have arisen nor attained solidity. Moreover, a Church had been created within which the pious layman could find a holy place of peace and edification. With priestly strife he had nothing to do, nor had he any concern in the profound and subtle dogmatic system whose foundation was now being laid. We may say that the religion of the laity attained freedom in proportion as it became impossible for them to take part in the establishment and guardianship of the official Church system. It is the professional guardians of this ecclesiastical edifice who are the real martyrs of religion, and it is they who have to bear the consequences of the worldliness and lack of genuineness pertaining to the system. But to the layman who seeks from the Church nothing more than aid in raising himself to God, this worldliness and unveracity do not exist. During the Greek period, however, laymen were only able to recognise this advantage to a limited extent. The Church dogmatic and the ecclesiastical system were still too closely connected with their own interests. It was in the Middle Ages, that the Church first became a Holy Mother and her house a house of prayer — for the Germanic peoples; for these races were really the children of — the Church, and they themselves had not helped to rear the house in which they worshipped.
I. The Priesthood. The completion of the old Catholic conception of the Church, as this idea was developed in the latter half of the third century, is perhaps most clearly shown in the attribute of priesthood, with which the clergy were invested and which conferred on them the greatest importance.259259 Rïtschl, Entstehung der altkatholischen Kirche pp. 362, 368, 394, 461, 555, 560, 576. Otto Ritschl, l.c., pp. 208, 218, 231. Hatch “Organisation of the early Christian Church”, Lectures 5 and 6; id., Art. “Ordination”, “Priest”, in the Dictionary of Christian Antiquities. Hauck, Art. “Priester” in Herzog’s Real-Encyklopädie, 2nd ed. Voigt, l.c., p. 175 ff. Sohm, Kirchenrecht I. p. 205 ff. Louw, Het ontstaan van het Priesterschap in de christ. Kerk, Utrecht, 1892. The development of this conception, whose adoption is a proof that the Church had assumed a heathen complexion, cannot be more particularly treated of here.260260Clement of Rome was the first to compare the conductors of public worship in Christian Churches with the priests and Levites, and the author of the Διδαχή was the first to liken the Christian prophets to the high priests. It cannot, however, be shown that there were any Christian circles where the leaders were directly styled “priests” before the last quarter of the 2nd century. We can by no means fall back on Ignatius, Philad. 9, nor on Iren., IV. 8. 3, which passage is rather to be compared with Διδ. 13. 3. It is again different in Gnostic circles, which in this case, too, anticipated the secularising process; read for example the description of Marcus in Iren., I. 13. Here, mutatis mutandis, we have the later Catholic bishop, who alone is able to perform a mysterious sacrifice to whose person powers of grace are attached — the formula of bestowal was: μεταδοῦναί σοι θέλω τῆς ἐμῆς χάριτος . . . λάμβανε ἀπ᾽ εμõυ καὶ δι᾽ εμõυ χάριν, and through whose instrumentality union with God can alone be attained: the ἀπολύτρωσις (I. 21.) is only conferred through the mystagogue. Much of a similar nature is to be found, and we can expressly say that the distinction between priestly mystagogues and laymen was of fundamental importance in many Gnostic societies (see also the writings of the Coptic Gnostics); it was different in the Marcionite Church. Tertullian (de bapt. 17) was the first to call the bishop “summus sacerdos”, and the older opinion that he merely “played” with the idea is untenable, and refuted by Pseudo-Cyprian, de aleat. 2 (“sacerdotalïs dignitas”). In his Antimontanist writings the former has repeatedly repudiated any distinction in principle of a particular priestly class among Christians, as well as the application of certain injunctions to this order (de exhort. 7: “nonne et laici sacerdotes sumus? . . . adeo ubi ecclesiastici ordinis non est consessus, et offers et tınguıs et sacerdos es tibi solus, sed ubi tres, ecclesia est, licet laici.”; de monog. 7). We may perhaps infer from his works that before about the year 200, the name “priest” was not yet universally applied to bishop and presbyters in Carthage (but see after this de præscr. 29, 41: sacerdotalia munera; de pud. 1, 21; de monog. 12: disciplina sacerd.; de exhort. 7: sacerdotalis ordo; ibid. 11: “et offeres pro duabus uxoribus, et commendabis illas duas per sacerdotem de monogamia ordinatum; de virg. vel. 9: sacerdotale officium; Scorp. 7: sacerdos). The latest writings of Tertullian show us indeed that the name and the conception which it represents were already prevalent. Hippolytus (Philos. præf.: ὧν ἡμεῖς διάδοχοι τυγχάνοντες τῆς τε ἀυτῆς χάριτος μετέχοντες ἀρχιερατείας καὶ διδασκαλίας, see also the Arabian canons) expressly claimed high priesthood for the bishops, and Origen thought he was justified in giving the name of “Priests and Levites” to those who conducted public worship among Christians. This he indeed did with reserve (see many passages, e.g., Hom. II. in Num., Vol. II. p. 278; Hom. VI. in Lev., Vol. II. p. 211; Comment. in Joh., Vol. I. 3), but yet to a far greater extent than Clement (see Bigg, l.c., p. 214 f.). In Cyprian and the literature of the Greek Church in the immediately following period we find the designation “priest” as the regular and most customary name for the bishop and presbyters. Novatian (Jerome. de vir. inl. 70) wrote a treatise de sacerdote and another de ordinatione. The notable and momentous change of conception expressed in the idea can be traced by us through its preparatory stages almost as little as the theory of the apostolic succession of the bishops. Irenæus (IV. 8. 3, 17. 5, 18. 1) and Tertullian, when compared with Cyprian, appear here as representatives of primitive Christianity. They firmly assert the priesthood of the whole congregation. That the laity had as great a share as the leaders of the Churches in the transformation of the latter into Priests is moreover shown by the bitter saying of Tertullian (de monog. 12): “Sed cum extollimur et inflamur adversus clerum, tunc unum omnes sumus, tunc omnes sacerdotes, quia ‘sacerdotes nos deo et patri fecit’. Cum ad peræquationem disciplinæ sacerdotalis provocamur, deponimus infulas.” What meaning it has 129is shown by its application in Cyprian and the original of the first six books of the Apostolic Constitutions (see Book II.). The bishops (and also the presbyters) are priests, in so far as they alone are empowered to present the sacrifice as representatives of the congregation before God261261See Sohm, I. p. 207. and in so far as they dispense or refuse the divine grace as representatives of God in relation to the congregation. In this sense they are also judges in God’s stead.262262The “deservire altari et sacrificia divina celebrare” (Cypr., ep. 67. 1) is the distinctive function of the sacerdos dei. It may further be said, however, that all ceremonies of public worship properly belong to him, and Cyprian has moreover contrived to show that this function of the bishop as leader of the Church follows from his priestly attributes; for as priest the bishop is antistes Christi (dei); see epp. 59. 18: 61. 2: 63. 14: 66. 5, and this is the basis of his right and duty to preserve the lex evangelica and the traditio dominica in every respect. As antistes dei, however, an attribute bestowed on the bishop by the apostolic succession and the laying on of hands, he has also received the power of the keys, which confers the right to judge in Christ’s stead and to grant or refuse the divine grace. In Cyprian’s conception of the episcopal office the successio apostolica and the position of vicegerent of Christ (of God) counterbalance each other; he also tried to amalgamate both elements (ep. 55. 8: “cathedra sacerdotalis). It is evident that as far as the inner life of each church was concerned, the latter and newer necessarily proved the more important feature. In the East, where the thought of the apostolical succession of the bishops never received such pronounced expression as in Rome it was just this latter element that was almost exclusively emphasised from the end of the 3rd century. Ignatius led the way when he compared the bishop, in his position towards the individual community, with God and Christ. He, however, is dealing in images, but at a later period the question is about realities based on a mysterious transference. The position here conceded to the 130higher clergy corresponds to that of the mystagogue in heathen religions, and is acknowledged to be borrowed from the latter.263263Soon after the creation of a professional priesthood, there also arose a class of inferior clergy. This was first the case in Rome. This development was not uninfluenced by the heathen priesthood, and the temple service (see my article in Texte und Untersuchungen II. 5). Yet Sohm, 1. c., p. 128 ff., has disputed this, and proposed modifications, worth considering, in my view of the origin of the ordines minores. Divine grace already appears as a sacramental consecration of an objective nature, the bestowal of which is confined to spiritual personages chosen by God. This fact is no way affected by the perception that an ever increasing reference is made to the Old Testament priests as well as to the whole Jewish ceremonial and ecclesiastical regulations.264264Along with the sacerdotal laws, strictly so called, which Cyprian already understood to apply in a frightful manner (see his appeal to Deut. XVII. 12; I Sam. VIII. 7; Luke X. 16; John XVIII. 22 f.; Acts XXIII. 4-5 in epp. 3. 43, 59. 66), other Old Testament commandments could not fail to be introduced. Thus the commandment of tithes, which Irenæus had still asserted to be abolished, was now for the first time established (see Orion; Constit. Apost. and my remarks on Διδ. c. 13); and hence Mosaic regulations as to ceremonial cleanness were adopted (see Hippol. Canones arab. 17; Dionys. Alex., ep. canon.). Constantine was the first to base the observance of Sunday on the commandment as to the Sabbath. Besides, the West was always more hesitating in this respect than the East. In Cyprian’s time, however, the classification and dignity of the clergy were everywhere upheld by an appeal to Old Testament commandments, though reservations still continued to be made here and there. It is true that there is no other respect in which Old Testament commandments were incorporated with Christianity to such an extent as they were in this.265265Tertullian (de pud. I.) sneeringly named the bishop of Rome “pontifex maximus”, thereby proving that he clearly recognised the heathen colouring given to the episcopal office. With the picture of the bishop drawn by the Apostolic constitutions may be compared the ill-natured descriptions of Paul of Samosata in Euseb., VII. 30. But it can be proved that this formal adoption everywhere 131took place at a subsequent date, that is, it had practically no influence on the development itself, which was not legitimised by the commandments till a later period, and that often in a somewhat lame fashion. We may perhaps say that the development which made the bishops and elders priests altered the inward form of the Church in a more radical fashion than any other. “Gnosticism”, which the Church had repudiated in the second century, became part of her own system in the third. As her integrity had been made dependent on in-alienable objective standards, the adoption even of this greatest innovation, which indeed was in complete harmony with the secular element within her, was an elementary necessity. In regard to every sphere of Church life, and hence also in respect to the development of dogma266266Yet this influence, in a direct form at least, can only be made out at a comparatively late period. But nevertheless, from the middle of the 3rd century the priests alone are possessed of knowledge. As μάθησις and μυσταγωγία are inseparably connected in the mysteries and Gnostic societies, and the mystagogue was at once knowing one and priest, so also in the Catholic Church the priest is accounted the knowing one. Doctrine itself became a mystery to an increasing extent. and the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, the priesthood proved of the highest significance. The clerical exposition of the sacred books, with its frightful ideas, found its earliest advocate in Cyprian and had thus a most skilful champion at the very first.267267 Examples are found in epp. 1, 3, 4, 33, 43, 54, 57, 59, 65, 66. But see Iren., IV. 26. 2, who is little behind Cyprian here, especially when he threatens offenders with the fate of Dathan and Abiram. One of the immediate results of the formation of a priestly and spiritual class was that the independent “teachers” now shared the fate of the old “prophets” and became extinct (see my edition of the Διδαχή, prolegg. pp. 131-137). It is an instructive fact that Theoktistus of Cæsarea and Alexander of Jerusalem in order to prove in opposition to Demetrius that independent teachers were still tolerated, i.e., allowed to speak in public meetings of the Church, could only appeal to the practice of Phrygia and Lycaonia, that is, to the habit of outlying provinces where, besides, Montanism had its original seat. Euelpis in Laranda, Paulinus in Iconium, and Theodorus in Synnada, who flourished about 216, are in addition to Origen the last independent teachers (i.e., outside the ranks of the clergy) known to us in Christendom (Euseb., H. E. VI. 19 fin.).
II. Sacrifice. In Book I., chap. III., § 7, we have already shown what a wide field the idea of sacrifice occupied in primitive Christendom, and how it was specially connected with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The latter was regarded 132as the pure (i.e., to be presented with a pure heart), bloodless thank-offering of which Malachi had prophesied in I. 11. Priesthood and sacrifice, however, are mutually conditioned. The alteration of the concept “priest” necessarily led to a simultaneous and corresponding change in the idea of sacrifice, just as, conversely, the latter reacted on the former.268268See Döllinger, Die Lehre von der Eucharistie in den ersten drei Jahrhunderten, 1826. Höfling, Die Lehre der ältesten Kirche vom Opfer, p. 71 ff. Th. Harnack, Der christliche Gemeindegottesdienst im apostolischen und altkatholischen Zeitalter, p. 342 ff. Steitz, Art. “Messe” in Herzog’s Real Encyklopädie, 2nd ed. It is idle to enquire whether the conception of the “sacerdotium” or that of the “sacrificium” was first altered, because they are correlative ideas. In Irenæus and Tertullian the old conception of sacrifice, viz., that prayers are the Christian sacrifice and that the disposition of the believer hallows his whole life even as it does his offering, and forms a well-pleasing sacrifice to God, remains essentially unchanged. In particular, there is no evidence of any alteration in the notion of sacrifice connected with the Lord’s Supper.269269See the proof passages in Höfling, 1. c., who has also treated in detail Clement and Origen’s idea of sacrifice, and cf. the beautiful saying of Irenæus IV. 18. 3: “Non sacrificia sanctificant hominem; non enim indiget sacrificio deus; sed conscientia eius qui offert sanctificat sacrificium, pura exsistens, et præstat acceptare deum quasi ab amico” (on the offering in the Lord’s Supper see Iren. IV. 17. 5, 18. 1); Tertull., Apolog. 30; de orat. 28; adv. Marc. III. 22; IV. 1, 35: adv. Jud. 5; de virg. vel. 13. But nevertheless we can already trace a certain degree of modification in Tertullian. Not only does he give fasting, voluntary celibacy, martyrdom, etc., special prominence among the sacrificial acts of a Christian life, and extol their religious value — as had already been done before; but he also attributes a God-propitiating significance to these performances, and plainly designates them as “merita” (“promereri deum”). To the best of my belief Tertullian was the first who definitely regarded ascetic performances as propitiatory offerings and ascribed to them the “potestas reconciliandi iratum deum.”270270Cf. specially the Montanist writings; the treatise de ieiunio is the most important among them in this case; see cc. 7, 16; de resurr. 8. On the use of the word “satisfacere” and the new ideas on the point which arose in the West (cf. also the word “meritum”) see below chap. 5. 2 and the 2nd chap. of the 5th Vol. Note that the 2nd Ep. of Clement already contains the sayings: καλὸν ἐλεημοσύνη ὡς μετάνοια ἁμαρτίας· κρείσσων νηστεία προσευχῆς, ἐλεημοσύνη δὲ ἀμφοτέρων . . . ἐλεημοσύνη γὰρ κούϕισμα ἁμαρτίας γίνεται (16. 4; similar expressions occur in the “Shepherd”). But they only show how far back we find the origin of these injunctions borrowed from Jewish proverbial wisdom. One cannot say that they had no effect at all on Christian life in the 2nd century; but we do not yet find the idea that ascetic performances are a sacrifice offered to a wrathful God. Martyrdom seems to have been earliest viewed as a performance which expiated sins. In Tertullian’s time the theory, that it was on a level with baptism (see Melito, 12. Fragment in Otto, Corp. Apol. IX. p. 418: δύο συνέστη τὰ ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτημάτα παρεχόμενα, πάθος διὰ Χριστὸν καὶ βάπτισμα), had long been universally diffused and was also exegetically grounded. In fact, men went a step further and asserted that the merits of martyrs could also benefit others. This view had likewise become established long before Tertullian’s day, but was opposed by him (de pudic. 22), when martyrs abused the powers universally conceded to them. Origen went furthest here; see exhort. ad mart. 50: ὥσπερ τιμίῳ αἵματι τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἠγοράσθημεν . . . οὕτως τῷ τιμίῳ αἵματι τῶν μαρτύρων ἀγορασθήσονταί τινες; Hom. X. in Num. c. II.: “ne forte, ex quo martyres non fiunt et hostiæ sanctorum non offeruntur pro peccatis nostris, peccatorum nostrorum remissionem non mereamur.” The origin of this thought is, on the one hand, to be sought for in the wide-spread notion that the sufferings of an innocent man benefit others, and, on the other, in the belief that Christ himself suffered in the martyrs (see, e.g., ep. Lugd. in Euseb., H. E. V. 1. 23, 41). But he himself was far from using 133this fatal theory, so often found in his works, to support a lax Church practice that made Christianity consist in out ward forms. This result did not come about till the eventful decades, prolific in new developments, that elapsed between the persecutions of Septimius and Decius; and in the West it is again Cyprian who is our earliest witness as to the new view and practice.271271In the East it was Origen who introduced into Christianity the rich treasure of ancient ideas that had become associated with sacrifices. See Bigg’s beautiful account in “The Christian Platonists of Alexandria,” Lect. IV.-VI. In the first place, Cyprian was quite familiar with the idea of ascetic propitiations and utilised it in the interest of the Catholicity of the Church; secondly, he propounded a new theory of the offering in the cultus. As far as the first point is concerned, Cyprian’s injunctions with regard to it are everywhere based on the understanding that even after baptism no one can be without sin (de op. et eleemos. 3); and also on the firm conviction that this sacrament can only have a retrospective virtue. Hence he concludes that we must appease God, whose wrath has been aroused by sin, through performances of our own, that is, through offerings that bear the character of “satisfactions”. In other words we must blot out transgressions by specially meritorious deeds in order thus to escape eternal punishment. These deeds 134Cyprian terms “merita”, which either possess the character of atonements, or, in case there are no sins to be expiated, entitle the Christian to a special reward (merces).272272Moreover, Tertullian (Scorp. 6) had already said: “Quomodo multæ mansiones apud patrem, si non pro varietate meritorum.” But, along with lamentationes and acts of penance, it is principally alms-giving that forms such means of atonement (see de lapsis, 35, 36). In Cyprian’s eyes this is already the proper satisfaction; mere prayer, that is, devotional exercises unaccompanied by fasting and alms, being regarded as “bare and unfruitful”. In the work “de opere et eleemosynis” which, after a fashion highly characteristic of Cyprian, is made dependent on Sirach and Tobias, he has set forth a detailed theory of what we may call alms-giving as a means of grace in its relation to baptism and salvation.273273See c. 1: Nam cum dominus adveniens sanasset illa, quæ Adam portaverit vulnera et venena serpentis antiqua curasset, legem dedit sano et præcepit, ne ultra iam peccaret, ne quid peccanti gravius eveniret; coartati eramus et in angustum innocentiæ præscriptione conclusi, nec haberet quid fragilitatis humanæ infirmitas adque imbecillitas faceret, nisi iterum pietas divina subveniens iustitiæ et misericordiæ operibus ostensis viam quandam tuendæ salutis aperiret, ut sordes postmodum quascumque contrahimus eleemosynis abluamus.” c. 2: sicut lavacro aquæ salutaris gehennæ ignis extinguitur, ita eleemosynis adque operationibus iustus delictorum flamma sopitur, et quia semel in baptismo remissa peccatorum datur, adsidua et iugis operatio baptismi instar imitata dei rursus indulgentiam largiatur.” 5, 6, 9. In c. 18 Cyprian already established an arithmetical relation between the number of alms-offerings and the blotting out of sins, and in c. 21, in accordance with an ancient idea which Tertullian and Minucius Felix, however, only applied to martyrdom, he describes the giving of alms as a spectacle for God and Christ. In Cyprian’s epistles “satisfacere deo” is exceedingly frequent. It is almost still more important to note the frequent use of the expression “promereri deum (iudicem)” in Cyprian. See de unitate 15: “iustitia opus est, ut promereri quis possit deum iudicem: præceptis eius et monitis obtemperandum est, ut accipiant merita nostra mercedem.” 18; de lapsis 31; de orat. 8, 32, 36; de mortal. 10; de op. 11, 14, 15, 26; de bono pat. 18; ep. 62. 2: 73. 10. Here it is everywhere assumed that Christians acquire God’s favour by their works. However, this practice can only be viewed as a means of grace in Cyprian’s sense in so far as God has accepted it, that is, pointed it out. In itself it is a free human act. After the Decian persecution and the rearrangement of ecclesiastical affairs necessitated by it, works and alms (opera et eleemosynæ) made their way into the absolution system of the Church, and were assigned a permanent place in it. Even 135the Christian who has forfeited his Church membership by abjuration may ultimately recover it by deeds of sacrifice, of course under the guidance and intercessory coöperation of the Church. The dogmatic dilemma we find here cannot be more clearly characterised than by simply placing the two doctrines professed by Cyprian side by side. These are: — (1) that the sinfulness common to each individual can only be once extirpated by the power of baptism derived from the work of Christ, and (2) that transgressions committed after baptism, inclusive of mortal sins, can and must be expiated solely by spontaneous acts of sacrifice under the guidance of kind mother Church.274274Baptism with blood is not referred to here. A Church capable of being permanently satisfied with such doctrines would very soon have lost the last remains of her Christian character. What was wanted was a means of grace, similar to baptism and granted by God through Christ, to which the opera et eleemosynæ are merely to bear the relation of accompanying acts. But Cyprian was no dogmatist and was not able to form a doctrine of the means of grace. He never got beyond his “propitiate God the judge by sacrifices after baptism” (“promereri deum judicem post baptismum sacrificiis”), and merely hinted, in an obscure way, that the absolution of him who has committed a deadly sin after baptism emanates from the same readiness of God to forgive as is expressed in that rite, and that membership in the Church is a condition of absolution. His whole theory as to the legal nature of man’s (the Christian’s) relationship to God, and the practice, inaugurated by Tertullian, of designating this connection by terms derived from Roman law continued to prevail in the West down to Augustine’s time.275275With modifications, this has still continued to be the case beyond Augustine’s time down to the Catholicism of the present day. Cyprian is the father of the Romish doctrine of good works and sacrifice. Yet is it remarkable that he was not yet familiar with the theory according to which man must acquire merita. In his mind “merits” and “blessedness” are not yet rigidly correlated ideas; but the rudiments of this view are also found in him; cf. de unit. 15 (see p. 134, note 3 ). But, during this whole interval, no book was written by a Western Churchman which made the salvation of the sinful Christian dependent on ascetic offerings of atonement, 136with so little regard to Christ’s grace and the divine factor in the case, as Cyprian’s work de opere et eleemosynis.
No less significant is Cyprian’s advance as regards the idea of the sacrifice in public worship, and that in three respects. To begin with, Cyprian was the first to associate the specific offering, i.e., the Lord’s Supper276276“Sacrificare”, “sacrificium celebrare”, in all passages where they are unaccompanied by any qualifying words, mean to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Cyprian has never called prayer a “sacrifice” without qualifying terms; on the contrary he collocates “preces” and “sacrificium”, and sometimes also “oblatio” and “sacrificium”. The former is then the offering of the laity and the latter of the priests. with the specific priesthood. Secondly, he was the first to designate the passio dominis, nay, the sanguis Christi and the dominica hostia as the object of the eucharistic offering.277277Cf. the whole 63rd epistle and above all c. 7: “Et quia passionis eius mentionem in sacrificiis omnibus facimus, passio est enim domini sacrificium quod offerrimus, nihil aliud quam quod ille fecit facere debemus”; c. 9.: “unde apparet sanguinem Christi non offerri, si desit vinum calici.” 13; de unit. 17: “dominicæ hostiæ veritatem per falsa sacrificia profanare”; ep. 63. 4: “sacramentum sacrificii dominici”. The transference of the sacrificial idea to the consecrated elements, which, in all probability, Cyprian already found in existence, is ultimately based on the effort to include the element of mystery and magic in the specifically sacerdotal ceremony of sacrifice, and to make the Christian offering assume, though not visibly, the form of a bloody sacrifice, such as secularised Christianity desired. This transference, however, was the result of two causes. The first has been already rightly stated by Ernesti (Antimur. p. 94) in the words: “quia eucharistia habet ἀνάμνησιν Christi mortui et sacrificii eius in cruce peracti, propter ea paullatim cœpta est tota eucharistia sacrificium dici.” In Cyprian’s 63rd. epistle it is still observable how the “calicem in commemorationem domini et passionis eius offerre” passes over into the “sanguinem Christi offerre”, see also Euseb. demonstr. I. 13: μνήμην τῆς θυσίας Χριστοῦ προσφέρειν and τὴν ἔνσαρκον τοῦ Χριστοῦ παρουσίαν καὶ τὸ καταρτισθὲν αὐτοῦ σῶμα προσφέρειν. The other cause has been specially pointed out by Theodore Harnack (l.c., p. 409 f.). In ep. 63. 2 and in many other passages Cyprian expresses the thought “that in the Lord’s Supper nothing else is done by us but what the Lord has first done for us.” But he says that at the institution of the Supper the Lord first offered himself as a sacrifice to God the Father. Consequently the priest officiating in Christ’s stead only presents a true and perfect offering when he imitates what Christ has done (c. 14: “si Christus Jesus dominus et deus noster ipse est summus sacerdos dei patris et sacrificium patri se ipsum obtulit et hoc fieri in sui commemorationem præcepit, utique ille sacerdos vice Christi vere fungitur, qui id quod Christus fecit imitatur et sacrificium verum et plenum tunc offert in ecclesia deo patri, si sic incipiat offerre secundum quod ipsum Christum videat obtulisse”). This brings us to the conception of the repetition of Christ’s sacrifice by the priest. But in Cyprian’s case it was still, so to speak, only a notion verging on that idea, that is, he only leads up to it, abstains from formulating it with precision, or drawing any further conclusions from it, and even threatens the idea itself inasmuch as he still appears to conceive the “calicem in commemorationem domini et passionis eius offerre” as identical with it. As far as the East is concerned we find in Origen no trace of the assumption of a repeated sacrifice of Christ. But in the original of the first 6 books of the Apostolic Constitutions this conception is also wanting, although the Supper ceremonial has assumed an exclusively sacerdotal character (see II. 25: αἱ τότε (in the old covenant) θυσίαι, νῦν εὐχαὶ καὶ δεήσεις καὶ ἐυχαριστίαι. II. 53). The passage VI. 23: ἀνρὶ θυσίας τῆς δἰ αἱμάτων τήν λογικὴν καὶ τὴν μυστικήν, ἥτις εἰς τὸν θάνατον τοῦ κυρίου συμβόλων χάριν ἐπιτελεῖται τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ καὶ τοῦ αἵματος, does not belong to the original document, but to the interpolator. With the exception therefore of one passage in the Apostolic Church order (printed in my edition of the Didache prolegg. p. 236) viz.: ἡ προσϕορὰ τοῦ σώματος καὶ τοῦ αἵματος, we possess no proofs that there was any mention in the East before Eusebius’ time of a sacrifice of Christ’s body in the Lord’s Supper. From this, however, we must by no means conclude that the mystic feature in the celebration of the sacrifice had been less emphasised there. Thirdly, he expressly represented the 137celebration of the Lord’s Supper as an incorporation of the congregation and its individual members with Christ, and was the first to bear clear testimony as to the special importance attributed to commemoration of the celebrators (“vivi et defuncti”), though no other can be ascertained than a specially strong intercession.278278In ep. 63. 13 Cyprian has illustrated the incorporation of the community with Christ by the mixture of wine and water in the Supper, because the special aim of the epistle required this: “Videmus in aqua populum intellegi, in vino vero ostendi sanguinem Christi; quando autem in calice vino aqua miscetur, Christo populus adunatur et credentium plebs ei in quem credidit copulatur et iungitur etc.” The special mention of the offerers (see already Tertullian’s works: de corona 3, de exhort. cast. 11, and de monog. 10) therefore means that the latter commend themselves to Christ as his own people, or are recommended to him as such. On the Praxis see Cyprian ep. 1. 2 “. . . si quis hoc fecisset, non offerretur pro eo nec sacrificium pro dormitione eius celebraretur”; 62. 5: “ut fratres nostros in mente habeatis orationibus vestris et eis vicem boni operis in sacrificiis et precibus repræsentetis, subdidi nomina singulorum.” But this is really the essential effect of the sacrifice of the supper as regards the celebrators; for however much the conceptions about this ceremony might be heightened, and whatever additions might be made to its ritual, forgiveness of sins in the strict sense could not be associated with it. Cyprian’s statement that every celebration of the Lord’s Supper is a repetition or imitation of Christ’s sacrifice of himself, and that the ceremony has therefore an expiatory value remains a mere assertion, though the Romish Church still continues to 138repeat this doctrine to the present day. For the idea that partaking of the Lord’s Supper cleansed from sin like the mysteries of the Great Mother (magna mater) and Mithras, though naturally suggested by the ceremonial practice, was counteracted by the Church principles of penance and by the doctrine of baptism. As a sacrificial rite the Supper never became a ceremony equivalent in effect to baptism. But no doubt, as far as the popular conception was concerned, the solemn ritual copied from the ancient mysteries could not but attain an indescribably important significance. It is not possible, within the framework of the history of dogma, to describe the development of religious ceremonial in the third century, and to show what a radical alteration took place in men’s conceptions with regard to it (cf. for example, Justin with Cyprian). But, in dealing with the history of dogma within this period, we must clearly keep in view the development of the cultus, the new conceptions of the value of ritual, and the reference of ceremonial usages to apostolic tradition; for there was plainly a remodelling of the ritual in imitation of the ancient mysteries and of the heathen sacrificial system, and this fact is admitted by Protestant scholars of all parties. Ceremonial and doctrine may indeed be at variance, for the latter may lag behind the former and vice versa, but they are never subject to entirely different conditions.
III. Means of Grace, Baptism, and Eucharist. That which the Western Church of post-Augustinian times calls sacrament in the specific sense of the word (means of grace) was only possessed by the Church of the third century in the form of baptism.279279Much as the use of the word “sacramentum” in the Western Church from Tertullian to Augustine (Hahn, Die Lehre von den Sacramenten, 1864, p. 5 ff.) differs from that in the classic Romish use it is of small interest in the history of dogma to trace its various details. In the old Latin Bible μυστήροιν was translated “sacramentum” and thus the new signification “mysterious, holy ordinance or thing” was added to the meaning “oath”, “ sacred obligation”. Accordingly Tertullian already used the word to denote sacred facts, mysterious and salutary signs and vehicles, and also holy acts. Everything in any way connected with the Deity and his revelation, and therefore, for example, the content of revelation as doctrine, is designated “sacrament”; and the word is also applied to the symbolical which is always something mysterious and holy. Alongside of this the old meaning “sacred obligation” still remains in force. If, because of this comprehensive use, further discussion of the word is unnecessary, the fact that revelation itself as well as everything connected with it was expressly designated as a “mystery” is nevertheless of importance in the history of dogma. This usage of the word is indeed not removed from the original one so long as it was merely meant to denote the supernatural origin and supernatural nature of the objects in question; but more than this was now intended; “sacramentum” (μυτήριον) was rather intended to represent the holy thing that was revealed as something relatively concealed. This conception, however, is opposed to the Judæo-Christian idea of revelation, and is thus to be regarded as an introduction of the Greek notion. Probst (Sacramente und Sacramentalia, 1872) thinks differently. That which is mysterious and dark appears to be such an essential attribute of the divine, that even the obscurities of the New Testament Scriptures were now justified because these writings were regarded as altogether “spiritual”. See Iren. II. 28. 1-3. Tert. de bapt. 2: “deus in stultitia et impossibilitate materias operationis suæ instituit.” In strict theory she still held that the grace once 139bestowed in this rite could be conferred by no holy ceremony of equal virtue, that is, by no fresh sacrament. The baptised Christian has no means of grace, conferred by Christ, at his disposal, but has his law to fulfil (see, e.g., Iren. IV. 27. 2). But, as soon as the Church began to absolve mortal sinners, she practically possessed in absolution a real means of grace that was equally effective with baptism from the moment that this remission became unlimited in its application.280280We have explained above that the Church already possessed this means of grace, in so far as she had occasionally absolved mortal sinners, even at an earlier period; but this possession was quite uncertain and, strictly speaking, was not a possession at all, for in such cases the early Church merely followed extraordinary directions of the Spirit. The notions as to this means of grace, however, continued quite uncertain in so far as the thought of God’s absolving the sinner through the priest was qualified by the other theory (see above) which asserted that forgiveness was obtained through the penitential acts of transgressors (especially baptism with blood, and next in importance lamentationes, ieiunia, eleemosynæ). In the third century there were manifold holy dispensations of grace by the hands of priests; but there was still no theory which traced the means of grace to the historical work of Christ in the same way that the grace bestowed in baptism was derived from it. From Cyprian’s epistles and the anti-Novatian sections in the first six books of the Apostolic Constitutions we indeed see that appeal was not unfrequently made to the power of forgiving 140sins bestowed on the Apostles and to Christ’s declaration that he received sinners; but, as the Church had not made up her mind to repeat baptism, so also she had yet no theory that expressly and clearly supplemented this rite by a sacramentum absolutionis. In this respect, as well as in regard to the sacramentum ordinis, first instituted by Augustine, theory remained far behind practice. This was by no means an advantage, for, as a matter of fact, the whole religious ceremonial was already regarded as a system of means of grace. The consciousness of a personal, living connection of the individual with God through Christ had already disappeared, and the hesitation in setting up new means of grace had only the doubtful result of increasing the significance of human acts, such as offerings and satisfactions, to a dangerous extent.
Since the middle of the second century the notions of baptism281281Höfling, Das Sacrament der Taufe, 2 Vols., 1846. Steitz, Art. “Taufe” in Herzog’s Real Encyklopädie. Walch, Hist. pædobaptismi quattuor priorum sæculorum, 1739. in the Church have not essentially altered (see Vol. I. p. 206 ff.). The result of baptism was universally considered to be forgiveness of sins, and this pardon was supposed to effect an actual sinlessness which now required to be maintained.282282In de bono pudic. 2: “renati ex aqua et pudicitia,” Pseudo-Cyprian expresses idea, which, though remarkable, is not confined to himself. We frequently find “deliverance from death”, “regeneration of man”, “restoration to the image of God”, and “obtaining of the Holy Spirit”. (“Absolutio mortes”, “regeneratio hominis”, “restitutio ad similitudinem dei” and “consecutio spiritus sancti”) named along with the “remission of sins” and “obtaining of eternal life” (“remissio delictorum” and “consecutio æternitatis”). Examples are to be found in Tertullian283283But Tertullian says (de bapt. 6): “Non quod in aquis spiritum sanctum consequamur, sed in aqua emundati sub angelo spiritui sancto præparamur.” adv. Marc. I. 28 and elsewhere; and Cyprian speaks of the “bath of regeneration and sanctification” (“lavacrum regenerationis et sanctificationis”). Moreover, we pretty frequently find rhetorical passages where, on the strength of New Testament texts, all possible blessings are associated with baptism.284284The disquisitions of Clement of Alexandria in Pædag. I. 6 (baptism and sonship) are very important, but he did not follow them up. It is deserving of note that the positive effects of baptism were more strongly emphasised in the East than in the West. But, on the other hand, the conception is more uncertain in the former region. The constant additions to the 141baptismal ritual, a process which had begun at a very early period, are partly due to the intention of symbolising these supposedly manifold virtues of baptism,285285 See Tertullian, de bapt. 7 ff.; Cypr., ep. 70. 2 (“ungi quoque necesse est eum qui baptizatus est, ut accepto chrismate, i.e., unctione esse unctus dei et habere in se gratiam Christi possit”), 74. 5 etc. “Chrism” is already found in Tertullian as well as the laying on of hands. The Roman Catholic bishop Cornelius in the notorious epistle to Fabius (Euseb., H. E. VI. 43. 15), already traces the rites which accompany baptism to an ecclesiastical canon (perhaps one from Hippolytus’ collection; see can. arab. 19). After relating that Novatian in his illness had only received clinical baptism he writes: οὐ μὴν οὐδὲ τῶν λοιπῶν ἔτυχε, διαφυγὼν τὴν νόσον, ὧν χρὴ μεταλαμβάνειν κατὰ τὸν τῆς ἐκκλησίας κανόνα, τοῦ τε σφραγισθῆναι ὑπὸ τοῦ ἐπισκόπου. It is also remarkable that one of the bishops who voted about heretic baptism (Sentent. episcop., Cypr., opp. ed. Hartel I. p. 439) calls the laying on of hands a sacrament like baptism: “neque enim spiritus sine aqua separatim operari potest nec aqua sine spiritu male ergo sibi quidem interpretantur ut dicant, quod per manus impositionem spiritum sanctum accipiant et sic recipiantur, cum manifestum sit utroque sacramento debere eos renasci in ecclesia catholica.” Among other particulars found in Tertullian’s work on baptism (cc. 1. 12 seq.) it may moreover be seen that there were Christians about the year 200, who questioned the indispensability of baptism to salvation (baptismus non est necessarius, quibus fides satis est). The assumption that martyrdom replaces baptism (Tertull., de bapt. 16; Origen), is in itself a sufficient proof that the ideas of the “sacrament” were still uncertain As to the objection that Jesus himself had not baptised and that the Apostles had not received Christian baptism see Tert., de bapt. 11, 12. and partly owe their origin to the endeavour to provide the great mystery with fit accompaniments.286286In itself the performance of this rite seemed too simple to those who sought eagerly for mysteries. See Tertull., de bapt. 2: “Nihil adeo est quod obduret mentes hominum quam simplicitas divinorum operum, quæ in actu videtur, et magnificentia, quæ in effecta repromittitur, ut hinc quoque, quoniam tanta simplicitate, sine pompa, sine apparatu novo aliquo, denique sine sumptu homo in aqua demissus et inter pauca verba tinctus non multo vel nihilo mundior resurgit, eo incredibilis existimetur consecutio æternitatis. Mentior, si non e contrario idolorum solemnia vel arcana de suggestu et apparatu deque sumptu fidem at auctoritatem sibi exstruunt.” As yet the separate acts can hardly be proved to have an independent signification.287287But see Euseb., H. E. VI. 43. 15, who says that only the laying on of hands on the part of the bishop communicates the Holy Spirit, and this ceremony must therefore follow baptism. It is probable that confirmation as a specific act did not become detached from baptism in the West till shortly before the middle of the third century. Perhaps we may assume that the Mithras cult. had an influence here. The water was 142regarded both as the symbol of the purification of the soul and as an efficacious, holy medium of the Spirit (in accordance with Gen. I. 2; water and Spirit are associated with each other, especially in Cyprian’s epistles on baptism). He who asserted the latter did not thereby repudiate the former (see Orig. in Joann. Tom. VI. 17, Opp. IV. p. 133).288288See Tertullian’s superstitious remarks in de bap. 3-9 to the effect that water is the element of the Holy Spirit and of unclean Spirits etc. Melito also makes a similar statement in the fragment of his treatise on baptism in Pitra, Anal, Sacra II., p. 3 sq. Cyprian, ep. 70. 1, uses the remarkable words: “oportet vero mundari et sanctificari aquam prius a sacerdote (Tertull. still knows nothing of this: c. 17: etiam laicis ius est”), ut possit baptismo suo peccata hominis qui baptizatur abluere.” Ep. 74. 5: “peccata purgare et hominem sanctificare aqua sola non potest, nisi habeat et spiritum sanctum.” Clem. Alex. Protrept. 10. 99: λάβετε ὕδωρ λογικόν. Complete obscurity prevails as to the Church’s adoption of the practice of child baptism, which, though it owes its origin to the idea of this ceremony being indispensable to salvation, is nevertheless a proof that the superstitious view of baptism had increased.289289It was easy for Origen to justify child baptism, as he recognised something sinful in corporeal birth itself, and believed in sin which had been committed in a former life. The earliest justification of child baptism may therefore be traced back to a philosophical doctrine. In the time of Irenæus (II. 22. 4) and Tertullian (de bapt. 18) child baptism had already become very general and was founded on Matt. XIX. 14. We have no testimony regarding it from earlier times; Clement of Alexandria does not yet assume it. Tertullian argued against it not only because he regarded conscious faith as a needful preliminary condition, but also because he thought it advisable to delay baptism (cunctatio baptismi) on account of the responsibility involved in it (pondus baptismi). He says: “It is more advantageous to delay baptism, especially in the case of little children. For why is it necessary for the sponsors (this is the first mention of “godparents “) also to be thrust into danger? . . . let the little ones therefore come when they are growing up; let them come when they are learning, when they are taught where they are coming to; let them become Christians when they are able to know Christ. Why does an age of innocence hasten to the remission of sins? People will act more cautiously in worldly affairs, so that one 143who is not trusted with earthly things is trusted with divine. Whoever understands the responsibility of baptism will fear its attainment more than its delay.”290290 Translator’s note. The following is the original Latin, as quoted by Prof. Harnack: “Cunctatio baptismi utilior est, præcipue circa parvulos. Quid enim necesse, sponsores etiam periculo ingeri . . . veniant ergo parvuli, dum adolescunt; veniant dum discunt, dum quo veniant docentur; fiant Christiani, cum Christum nosse potuerint. Quid festinat innocens ætas ad remissionem peccatorum? Cautius agetur in sæcularibus, ut cui substantia terrena non creditur, divina credatur . . . Si qui pondus intelligant baptismi, magis timebunt consecutionem quam dilationem.” To all appearance the practice of immediately baptising the children of Christian families was universally adopted in the Church in the course of the third century. (Origen, Comment. in ep. ad Rom. V. 9, Opp. IV. p. 565, declared child baptism to be a custom handed down by the Apostles.) Grown up people, on the other hand, frequently postponed baptism, but this habit was disapproved.291291Under such circumstances the recollection of the significance of baptism in the establishment of the Church fell more and more into the background (see Hermas: “the Church rests like the world upon water”; Irenæus III. 17. 2: “Sicut de arido tritico massa una non fieri potest sine humore neque unis panis, ita nec nos multi unum fieri in Christo Iesu poteramus sine aqua quæ de cœlo est. Et sicut arida terra, si non percipiat humorem, non fructificat: sic et nos lignum aridum exsistentes primum, nunquam fructificaremus vitam sine superna voluntaria pluvia. Corpora unim nostra per lavacrum illam quæ est ad incorruptionem unitatem acceperunt, animæ autem per spiritum”). The unbaptised (catechumens) also belong to the Church, when they commit themselves to her guidance and prayers. Accordingly baptism ceased more and more to be regarded as an act of initiation, and only recovered this character in the course of the succeeding centuries. In this connection the 7th (spurious) canon of Constantinople (381) is instructive: καὶ τὴν πρώτην ἡμέραν ποιοῦμεν αὐτοὺς Χριστιανούς, τὴν δὲ δευτέραν κατηχουμένους, εἶτα τὴν τρίτην ἐξορκίζομεν αὐτοὺς κ.τ.λ.
The Lord’s Supper was not only regarded as a sacrifice, but also as a divine gift.292292Döllinger, Die Lehre von der Eucharistic in dem ersten 3 Jahrhunderten, 1826. Engelhardt in the Zeitschrift für die hist. Theologie, 1842, I. Kahnis, Lehre vom Abendmahl, 1851. Rückert, Das Abendmahl, sein Wesen und seine Geschichte, 1856. Leimbach, Beiträge zur Abendmahlslehre Tertullian’s, 1874. Steitz, Die Abendmahlslehre der griechischen Kirche, in the Jahrbücher für deutsche Theologie, 1864-1868; cf. also the works of Probst. Whilst Eucharist and love feast had already been separated from the middle of the 2nd century in the West, they were still united in Alexandria in Clement’s time; see Bigg, l.c., p. 103. The effects of this gift were not theoretically fixed, because these were excluded by the strict scheme293293The collocation of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which, as the early Christian monuments prove, was a very familiar practice (Tert., adv. Marc. IV. 34: sacramentum baptismi et eucharistiæ; Hippol., can. arab. 38: “baptizatus et corpore Christi pastus”), was, so far as I know, justified by no Church Father on internal grounds. Considering their conception of the holy ordinances this is not surprising. They were classed together because they were instituted by the Lord, and because the elements (water, wine, bread) afforded much common ground for allegorical interpretation. 144of baptismal grace and baptismal obligation. But in practice Christians more and more assumed a real bestowal of heavenly gifts in the holy food, and gave themselves over to superstitious theories. This bestowal was sometimes regarded as a spiritual and sometimes as a bodily self-communication of Christ, that is, as a miraculous implanting of divine life. Here ethical and physical, and again ethical and theoretical features were intermixed with each other. The utterances of the Fathers to which we have access do not allow us to classify these elements here; for to all appearance not a single one clearly distinguished between spiritual and bodily, or ethical and intellectual effects unless he was in principle a spiritualist. But even a writer of this kind had quite as superstitious an idea of the holy elements as the rest. Thus the holy meal was extolled as the communication of incorruption, as a pledge of resurrection, as a medium of the union of the flesh with the Holy Spirit; and again as food of the soul, as the bearer of the Spirit of Christ (the Logos), as the means of strengthening faith and knowledge, as a sanctifying of the whole personality. The thought of the forgiveness of sins fell quite into the background. This ever changing conception, as it seems to us, of the effects of partaking of the Lord’s Supper had also a parallel in the notions as to the relation between the visible elements and the body of Christ. So far as we are able to judge no one felt that there was a problem here, no one enquired whether this relation was realistic or symbolical. The symbol is the mystery and the mystery was not conceivable without a symbol. What we now-a-days understand by “symbol” is a thing which is not that which it represents; at that time “symbol” denoted a thing which, in some kind of way, really is what it signifies; but, on the other hand, according to the ideas of that period, the really heavenly element lay either in or behind the visible form without being 145identical with it. Accordingly the distinction of a symbolic and realistic conception of the Supper is altogether to be rejected; we could more rightly distinguish between materialistic, dyophysite, and docetic conceptions which, however, are not to be regarded as severally exclusive in the strict sense. In the popular idea the consecrated elements were heavenly fragments of magical virtue (see Cypr., de laps. 25; Euseb., H. E. VI. 44). With these the rank and file of third-century Christians already connected many superstitious notions which the priests tolerated or shared.294294The story related by Dionysius (in Euseb., l.c.) is especially characteristic, as the narrator was an extreme spiritualist. How did it stand therefore with the dry tree? Besides, Tertull. (de corona 3) says: “Calicis aut panis nostri aliquid decuti in terram anxie patimur”. Superstitious reverence for the sacrament ante et extra usum is a very old habit of mind in the Gentile Church. The antignostic Fathers acknowledged that the consecrated food consisted of two things, an earthly (the elements) and a heavenly (the real body of Christ). They thus saw in the sacrament a guarantee of the union between spirit and flesh, which the Gnostics denied; and a pledge of the resurrection of the flesh nourished by the blood of the Lord (Justin; Iren. IV. 18. 4, 5; V. 2. 2, 3; likewise Tertullian who is erroneously credited with a “symbolical” doctrine295295Leimbach’s investigations of Tertullian’s use of words have placed this beyond doubt; see de orat. 6; adv. Marc. I. 14: IV. 40: III. 19; de resurr. 8.). Clement and Origen “spiritualise”, because, like Ignatius, they assign a spiritual significance to the flesh and blood of Christ himself (summary of wisdom). To judge from the exceedingly confused passage in Pæd. II. 2, Clement distinguishes a spiritual and a material blood of Christ. Finally, however, he sees in the Eucharist the union of the divine Logos with the human spirit, recognises, like Cyprian at a later period, that the mixture of wine with water in the symbol represents the spiritual process, and lastly does not fail to attribute to the holy food a relationship to the body.296296The chief passages referring to the Supper in Clement are Protrept. 12. 120; Pæd. I. 6. 43: II. 2. 19 sq.: I. 5. 15: I. 6. 38, 40; Quis div. 23; Strom. V. 10. 66: I. 10. 46: I. 19. 96: VI. 14. 113: V. 11. 70. Clement thinks as little of forgiveness of sins in connection with the Supper as does the author of the Didache or the other Fathers; this feast is rather meant to bestow an initiation into knowledge and immortality. Ignatius had already said, “the body is faith, the blood is hope”. This is also Clement’s opinion; he also knows of a transubstantiation, not, however, into the real body of Christ, but into heavenly powers. His teaching was therefore that of Valentinus (see the Exc. ex. Theod. § 82, already given on Vol. i. p. 263) Strom. V. 11. 70: λογικὸν ἡμῖν βρῶμα ἡ γνῶσις; I. 20. 46: ἕνα δὴ φάγωμεν λογικῶς; V. 10. 66: βρῶσις γὰρ καὶ πόσις τοῦ θείου λόγου ἡ γνῶσις ἐστι τῆς θείας οὐσίας. Adumbrat. in epp. Joh.: “sanguis quod est cognitio”; see Bigg, i.e., p. 106 ff. It is true that Origen, the great 146mysteriosophist and theologian of sacrifice, expressed himself in plainly “ spiritualistic” fashion; but in his eyes religious mysteries and the whole person of Christ lay in the province of the spirit, and therefore his theory of the Supper is not “symbolical”, but conformable to his doctrine of Christ. Besides, Origen was only able to recognise spiritual aids in the sphere of the intellect and the disposition, and in the assistance given to these by man’s own free and spontaneous efforts. Eating and drinking and, in general, participation in a ceremonial are from Origen’s standpoint completely indifferent matters. The intelligent Christian feeds at all times on the body of Christ, that is, on the Word of God, and thus celebrates a never ending Supper (c. Cels. VIII. 22). Origen, however, was not blind to the fact that his doctrine of the Lord’s Supper was just as far removed from the faith of the simple Christian as his doctrinal system generally. Here also, therefore, he accommodated himself to that faith in points where it seemed necessary. This, however, he did not find difficult; for, though with him everything is at bottom “spiritual”, he was unwilling to dispense with symbols and mysteries, because he knew that one must be initiated into the spiritual, since one cannot learn it as one learns the lower sciences.297297Orig. in Matth. Comment. ser. 85: “Panis iste, quem deus verbum corpus suum esse fatetur, verbum est nutritorium animarum, verbum de deo verbo procedens et panis de pane cœ’esti . . . Non enim panem illum visibilem, quem tenebat in manibus, corpus suum dicebat deus verbum, sed verbum, in cuius mysterio fuerat panis ille frangendus; nec potum illum visibilem sanguinem suum dicebat, sed verbum in cuius mysterio potus ille fuerat effundendus”; see in Matt. XI. 14; c. Cels. VIII. 33. Hom. XVI. 9 in Num. On Origen’s doctrine of the Lord’s Supper see Bigg, p. 219 ff. But, whether we consider simple believers, the antignostic Fathers or Origen, and, moreover, whether we view the Supper as offering or sacrament, we everywhere observe that the holy ordinance had been entirely 147diverted from its original purpose and pressed into the service of the spirit of antiquity. In no other point perhaps is the hellenisation of the Gospel so evident as in this. To mention only one other example, this is also shown in the practice of child communion, which, though we first hear of it in Cyprian (Testim. III. 25; de laps. 25), can hardly be of later origin than child baptism. Partaking of the Supper seemed quite as indispensable as baptism, and the child had no less claim than the adult to a magical food from heaven.298298The conception of the Supper as viaticum mortis (fixed by the 13th canon of Nicæa: περὶ δὲ τῶν ἐξοδευόντων ὁ παλαιὸς καὶ κανονικὸς νόμος φυλαχθήσεται καὶ νῦν, ὥστε εἴτις ἐξοδεύοι, τοῦ τελευταίου καὶ ἀναγκαιοτάτου ἐφοδίου μὴ ἀποστερεῖσθαι, a conception which is genuinely Hellenic and which was strengthened by the idea that the Supper was φάρμακον ἀθανασίας), the practice of benediction, and much else in theory and practice connected with the Eucharist reveal the influence of antiquity. See the relative articles in Smith and Cheetham’s Dictionary of Christian Antiquities.
In the course of the third century a crass superstition became developed in respect to the conceptions of the Church and the mysteries connected with her. According to this notion we must subject ourselves to the Church and must have ourselves filled with holy consecrations as we are filled with food. But the following chapters will show that this superstition and mystery magic were counterbalanced by a most lively conception of the freedom and responsibility of the individual. Fettered by the bonds of authority and superstition in the sphere of religion, free and self-dependent in the province of morality, this Christianity is characterised by passive submission in the first respect and by complete activity in the second. It may be that exegetical theology can never advance beyond an alternation between these two aspects of the case, and a recognition of their equal claim to consideration; for the religious phenomenon in which they are combined defies any explanation. But religion is in danger of being destroyed when the insufficiency of the understanding is elevated into a convenient principle of theory and life, and when the real mystery of the faith, 148viz., how one becomes a new man, must accordingly give place to the injunction that we must obediently accept the religious as a consecration, and add to this the zealous endeavour after ascetic virtue. Such, however, has been the character of Catholicism since the third century, and even after Augustine’s time it has still remained the same in its practice.149
EXCURSUS TO CHAPTERS II. AND III.
CATHOLIC AND ROMAN.299299The fullest account of the “history of the Romish Church down to the pontificate of Leo I.” has been given by Langen, 1881; but I can in no respect agree (see Theol. Lit. Ztg. 1891, No. 6) with the hypotheses about the primacy as propounded by him in his treatise on the Clementine romances (1890, see especially p. 163 ff). The collection of passages given by Caspari, “Quellen zur Geschichte des Taufsymbols,” Vol. III., deserves special recognition. See also the sections bearing on this subject in Renan “Origines du Christianisme”, Vols. V.-VII., especially VII., chaps. 5, 12, 23. Sohm in his “Kirchenrecht” I. (see especially pp. 164 ff., 350 ff., 377 ff.) has adopted my conception of “Catholic “ and “Roman”, and made it the basis of further investigations. He estimates the importance of the Roman Church still more highly, in so far as, according to him, she was the exclusive originator of Church law as well as of the Catholic form of Church constitution; and on page 381 he flatly says: “The whole Church constitution with its claim to be founded on divine arrangement was first developed in Rome and then transferred from her to the other communities.” I think this is an exaggeration. Tschirn (Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte, XII. p. 215 ff.) has discussed the origin of the Roman Church in the 2nd century. Much that was the common property of Christendom, or is found in every religion as it becomes older, is regarded by this author as specifically Roman.
In investigating the development of Christianity up till about the year 270 the following facts must be specially kept in mind: In the regions subject to Rome, apart from the Judæo-Christian districts and passing disturbances, Christianity had yet an undivided history in vital questions;300300No doubt we must distinguish two halves in Christendom. The firs the ecclesiastical West, includes the west coast of Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome together with their daughter Churches, that is, above all, Gaul and North Africa. The second or eastern portion embraces Palestine, Egypt, Syria, and the east part of Asia Minor. A displacement gradually arose in the course of the 3rd century. In the West the most important centres are Ephesus, Smyrna, Corinth, and Rome, cities with a Greek and Oriental population. Even in Carthage the original speech of the Christian community was probably Greek. the independence of individual congregations and of the provincial groups of Churches was very great; and every advance in the development of the 150communities at the same time denoted a forward step in their adaptation to the existing conditions of the Empire. The first two facts we have mentioned have their limitations. The further apart the different Churches lay, the more various were the conditions under which they arose and flourished; the looser the relations between the towns in which they had their home the looser also was the connection between them. Still, it is evident that towards the end of the third century the development in the Church had well-nigh attained the same point everywhere — except in outlying communities. Catholicism, essentially as we conceive it now, was what most of the Churches had arrived at. Now it is an a priori probability that this transformation of Christianity, which was simply the adaptation of the Gospel to the then existing Empire, came about under the guidance of the metropolitan Church,301301Rome was the first city in the Empire, Alexandria the second. They were the metropolitan cities of the world (see the inscription in Kaibel, No. 1561, p. 407: θρέψε μ᾽ Ἀλεξάνδρεια, μέτοικον ἔθαψε δὲ Ῥώμη, αἱ κόσμου καὶ γῆς, ὦ ξένε, μητροπόλεις). This is reflected in the history of the Church; first Rome appears, then Alexandria. The significance of the great towns for the history of dogma and of the Church will be treated of in a future volume. Abercius of Hieropolis, according to the common interpretation (inscription V. 7 f.) designates Rome as “queen”. This was a customary appellation; see Eunap., vita Prohær. p. 90: ἡ βασιλεύουσα Ῥώμη. the Church of Rome; and that “Roman” and “Catholic” had therefore a special relation from the beginning. It might a limine be objected to this proposition that there is no direct testimony in support of it, and that, apart from this consideration, it is also improbable, in so far as, in view of the then existing condition of society, Catholicism appears as the natural and only possible form in which Christianity could be adapted to the world. But this is not the case; for in the first place very strong proofs can be adduced, and besides, as is shown by the development in the second century, very different kinds of secularisation were possible. In fact, if all appearances are not deceptive, the Alexandrian Church, for example, was up to the time of Septimius Severus pursuing a path of development which, left to itself, would not have led to Catholicism, but, in the most favourable circumstances, to a parallel form.302302In this connection we need only keep in mind the following summary of facts. Up to the end of the second century the Alexandrian Church had none of the Catholic and apostolic standards, and none of the corresponding institutions as found in the Roman Church; but her writer, Clement, was also “as little acquainted with the West as Homer”. In the course of the first half of the 3rd century she received those standards and institutions; but her writer, Origen, also travelled to Rome himself in order to see “the very old” church and formed a connection with Hippolytus; and her bishop Dionysius carried on a correspondence with his Roman colleague, who also made common cause with him. Similar particulars may also be ascertained with regard to the Syrian Church.151
It can, however, be proved that it was in the Roman Church, which up to about the year 190 was closely connected with that of Asia Minor, that all the elements on which Catholicism is based first assumed a definite form.303303See the proofs in the two preceding chapters. Note also that these elements have an inward connection. So long as one was lacking, all were, and whenever one was present, all the others immediately made their appearance. (1) We know that the Roman Church possessed a precisely formulated baptismal confession, and that as early as the year 180 she declared this to be the apostolic rule by which everything is to be measured. It is, only in her case that we are really certain of this, for we can merely guess at it as regards the Church of Smyrna, that is, of Asia Minor. It was accordingly admitted that the Roman Church was able to distinguish true from false with special exactness;304304Ignatius already says that the Roman Christians are ἀποδιυλισμένοι ἀπὸ παντὸς ἀλλοτρίον χρώματος (Rom. inscr.); he uses this expression of no others. Similar remarks are not quite rare at a later period; see, for instance, the oft-repeated eulogy that no heresy ever arose in Rome. At a time when this city had long employed the standard of the apostolic rule of faith with complete confidence, namely, at the beginning of the 3rd century, we bear that a lady of rank in Alexandria, who was at any rate a Christian, lodged and entertained in her house Origen, then a young man, and a famous heretic. (See Euseb., H. E. VI. 2. 13, 14). The lectures on doctrine delivered by this heretic and the conventicles over which he presided were attended by a μυρίον πλῆθος οὐ μόνον αἱρετικῶν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἡμετέρων. That is a very valuable piece of information which shows us a state of things in Alexandria that would have been impossible in Rome at the same period. See, besides, Dionys. Alex. in Euseb., H. E. VII. 7. and Irenæus and Tertullian appealed to her to decide the practice in Gaul and Africa. This practice, in its precisely developed form, cannot be shown to have existed in Alexandria till a later period; but Origen, who testifies to it, also bears witness to the special reverence for and connection with the Roman Church. (2) The New Testament canon, with its claim to be accounted catholic and apostolic and to possess 152exclusive authority is first traceable in her; in the other communities it can only be proved to exist at a later period. In the great Antiochian diocese there was, for instance, a Church some of whose members wished the Gospel of Peter read; in the Pentapolis group of congregations the Gospel of the Egyptians was still used in the 3rd century; Syrian Churches of the same epoch used Tatian’s Diatessaron; and the original of the first six books of the Apostolic Constitutions still makes no mention of a New Testament canon. Though Clement of Alexandria no doubt testifies that, in consequence of the common history of Christianity, the group of Scriptures read in the Roman congregations was also the same as that employed in public worship at Alexandria, he had as yet no New Testament canon before him in the sense of Irenæus and Tertullian. It was not till Origen’s time that Alexandria reached the stage already attained in Rome about forty years earlier. It must, however, be pointed out that a series of New Testament books, in the form now found in the canon and universally recognised, show marks of revision that can be traced back to the Roman Church.305305I must here refrain from proving the last assertion. The possibility of Asia Minor having had a considerable share, or having led the way, in the formation of the canon must be left an open question (cf. what Melito says, and the use made of New Testament writings in the Epistle of Polycarp). We will, however, be constrained to lay the chief emphasis on Rome, for it must not be forgotten that Irenæus had the closest connection with the Church of that city, as is proved by his great work, and that he lived there before he came to Gaul. Moreover, it is a fact deserving of the greatest attention that the Montanists and their decided opponents in Asia, the so-called Alogi, had no ecclesiastical canon before them, though they may all have possessed the universally acknowledged books of the Romish canon, and none other, in the shape of books read in the churches. Finally, the later investigations, which show that after the third century the Western readings, that is, the Roman text, of the New Testament were adopted in the Oriental MSS. of the Bible,306306See the Prolegg. of Westcott and Hort (these indeed give an opposite judgment), and cf. Harris, Codex Bezæ. A study of the so-called Western text of the New Testament, 1891. An exhaustive study of the oldest martyrologies has already led to important cases of agreement between Rome and the East, and promises still further revelations. See Duchesne, “Les Sources du Martyrologe Hieron.” 1885. Egli, “Altchristliche Studien, Martyrien und Martyrologieen ältester Zeit.” 1887; the same writer in the “Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie”. 1891, p. 273 ff. are of the utmost value here; for the most natural 153explanation of these facts is that the Eastern Churches then received their New Testament from Rome and used it to correct their copies of books read in public worship.307307On the relations between Edessa and Rome see the end of the Excursus. (3) Rome is the first place which we can prove to have constructed a list of bishops reaching back to the Apostles (see Irenæus).308308See my treatise “Die ältesten christlichen Datirungen und die Anfänge einer bischöflichen Chronographie in Rom.” in the report of the proceedings of the Royal Prussian Academy of Science, 1892, pp. 617-658. I think I have there proved that, in the time of Soter, Rome already possessed a figured list of bishops, in which important events were also entered. We know that in the time of Heliogabalus such lists also existed in other communities; but it cannot be proved that these had already been drawn up by the time of Marcus Aurelius or Commodus, as was certainly the case at Rome. (4) The notion of the apostolic succession of the episcopate309309 That the idea of the apostolic succession of the bishops was first turned to account or appeared in Rome is all the more remarkable, because it was not in that city, but rather in the East, that the monarchical episcopate was first consolidated. (Cf. the Shepherd of Hermas and Ignatius’ Epistles to the Romans with his other Epistles). There must therefore have been a very rapid development of the constitution in the time between Hyginus and Victor. Sohm, l.c., tries to show that the monarchical episcopate arose in Rome immediately after the composition of the First Epistle of Clement, and as a result of it; and that this city was the centre from which it spread throughout Christendom. was first turned to account by the Roman bishops, and they were the first who definitely formulated the political idea of the Church in connection with this. The utterances and corresponding practical measures of Victor,310310See Pseudo-Cyprian’s work “de aleat” which, in spite of remarks to the contrary, I am inclined to regard as written by Victor; cf. Texte und Untersuchungen “ V. 1; see c. 1 of this writing: “et quoniam in nobis divina et paterna pietas apostolatus ducatum contulit et vicariam domini sedem cælesti dignatione ordinavit et originem authentici apostolatus, super quem Christus fundavit ecclesiam, in superiore nostro portamus.” Calixtus (Hippolytus), and Stephen are the earliest of their kind; whilst the precision and assurance with which they substituted the political and clerical for the ideal conception of the Church, or amalgamated the two notions, as well as the decided way in which they proclaimed the sovereignty of the bishops, were not surpassed in the third century by Cyprian himself. (5) Rome was the first place, and 154that at a very early period, to date occurrences according to her bishops; and, even outside that city, churches reckoned, not according to their own, but according to the Roman episcopate.311311See report of the proceedings of the Royal Prussian Academy of Science, 1892, p. 622 ff. To the material found there must be added a remarkable passage given by Nestle (Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie, 1893, p. 437), where the dates are reckoned after Sixtus I. (6) The Oriental Churches say that two bishops of Rome compiled the chief apostolic regulations for the organisation of the Church; and this is only partially wrong.312312Cf. the 8th book of the Apostolic Constitutions with the articles referring to the regulation of the Church, which in Greek MSS. bear the name of Hippolytus. Compare also the Arabian Canones Hippolyti, edited by Haneberg (1870) and commented on by Achelis (Texte und Untersuchungen VI. 4). Apart from the additions and alterations, which are no doubt very extensive, it is hardly likely that the name of the Roman bishop is wrongly assigned to them. We must further remember the importance assigned by the tradition of the Eastern and Western Churches to one of the earliest Roman “bishops”, Clement, as the confidant and secretary of the Apostles and as the composer and arranger of their laws. (7) The three great theologians of the age, Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Origen, opposed the pretensions of the Roman bishop Calixtus; and this very attitude of theirs testified that the advance in the political organisation of the Church, denoted by the measures of Calixtus, was still an unheard-of novelty, but immediately exercised a very important influence on the attitude of other Churches. We know that the other communities imitated this advance in the succeeding decades. (8) The institution of lower orders of clergy with the corresponding distinction of clerici maiores and minores first took place in Rome; but we know that this momentous arrangement gradually spread from that city to the rest of Christendom.313313See my proofs in “Texte und Untersuchungen”, Vol. II., Part 5. The canons of the Council of Nicæa presuppose the distinction of higher and lower clergy for the whole Church. (9) The different Churches communicated with one another through the medium of Rome.314314We see this from the Easter controversy, but there are proofs of it elsewhere, e.g., in the collection of Cyprian’s epistles. The Roman bishop Cornelius informs Fabius, bishop of Antioch, of the resolutions of the Italian, African, and other Churches (Euseb., H. E. VI. 43. 3: ἦλθον εἰς ἡμᾶς ἐπιστολαὶ Κορνηλὶου Ῥωμαίων ἐπισκόπου πρὸς . . . φάβιον, δηλοῦσαι τὰ περὶ τῆς Ῥωμαίων συνόδου, καὶ τὰ δόξαντα πᾶσι τοῖς κατὰ τὴν Ἰταλίαν καὶ Ἀφρικὴν καὶ τὰς αὐτόθι χώρας. We must not forget, however, that there were also bishops elsewhere who conducted a so-called œcumenical correspondence and enjoyed great influence, as, e.g., Dionysius of Corinth and Dionysius of Alexandria. In matters relating to penance the latter wrote to a great many Churches, even as far as Armenia, and sent many letters to Rome (Euseb., H. E. VI. 46). The Catholic theologian, Dittrich — before the Vatican Decree, no doubt — has spoken of him in the following terms (Dionysius von Alexandrien , 1867, p. 26): “As Dionysius participated in the power, so also he shared in the task of the primateship.” “Along with the Roman bishop he was, above all, called upon to guard the interests of the whole Church.”155
From these considerations we can scarcely doubt that the fundamental apostolic institutions and laws of Catholicism were framed in the same city that in other respects imposed its authority on the whole earth; and that it was the centre from which they spread, because the world had become accustomed to receive law and justice from Rome.315315This conception, as well as the ideas contained in this Excursus generally, is now entirely shared by Weingarten (Zeittafeln 3rd. ed., 1888 pp. 12, 21): “The Catholic Church is essentially the work of those of Rome and Asia Minor. The Alexandrian Church and theology do not completely adapt themselves to it till the 3rd century. The metropolitan community becomes the ideal centre of the Great Church” . . . “The primacy of the Roman Church is essentially the transference to her of Rome’s central position in the religion of the heathen world during the Empire: urbs æterna urbs sacra.” But it may be objected that the parallel development in other provinces and towns was spontaneous, though it everywhere came about at a somewhat later date. Nor do we intend to contest the assumption in this general sense; but, as I think, it can be proved that the Roman community had a direct and important share in the process and that, even in the second century, she was reckoned the first and most influential Church.316316This is also admitted by Langen (l.c., 184 f.), who even declares that this precedence existed from the beginning. We shall give a bird’s-eye view of the most important facts bearing on the question, in order to prove this.
No other community made a more brilliant entrance into Church history than did that of Rome by the so-called First Epistle of Clement — Paul having already testified (Rom. i. 8) that the faith of this Church was spoken of throughout the whole world. That letter to the Corinthians proves that, by the end of the first century, the Roman Church had already drawn up fixed rules for her own guidance, that she watched with motherly 156care over outlying communities, and that she then knew how to use language that was at once an expression of duty, love, and authority.317317Cf. chaps. 59 and 62, but more especially 63. As yet she pretends to no legal title of any kind, but she knows the “commandments and ordinances” (προστάγματα and δοκαιώματα) of God, whereas the conduct of the sister Church evinces her uncertainty on the matter; she is in an orderly condition, whereas the sister community is threatened with dissolution; she adheres to the κανὼν τῆς παραδόσεως, whilst the other body stands in need of exhortation;318318At that time the Roman Church did not confine herself to a letter; she sent ambassadors to Corinth, οἵτινες μάρτυρες ἔσονται μεταξὺ ὑμῶν καὶ ἡμῶν. Note carefully also the position of the Corinthian community with which the Roman one interfered (see on this point Wrede, Untersuchungen zum I Clemensbrief, 1891.) and in these facts her claim to authority consists. The Shepherd of Hermas also proves that even in the circles of the laity the Roman Church is impressed with the consciousness that she must care for the whole of Christendom. The first testimony of an outsider as to this community is afforded us by Ignatius. Soften as we may all the extravagant expressions in his Epistle to the Romans, it is at least clear that Ignatius conceded to them a precedence in the circle of sister Churches; and that he was well acquainted with the energy and activity displayed by them in aiding and instructing other communities.319319In Ignatius, Rom. inscr., the verb προκάθημαι is twice used about the Roman Church (προκάθηται ἐν [to be understood in a local sense] τόπῳ χωρίου Ῥρωμαίων — προκαθημένη τῆς ἀγάπης = presiding in, or having the guardianship of, love). Ignatius (Magn. 6), uses the same verb to denote the dignity of the bishop or presbyters in relation to the community. See, besides, the important testimony in Rom. II.: ἄλλους ἐδιδάξατε. Finally, it must be also noted that Ignatius presupposes an extensive influence on the part of individual members of the Church in the higher spheres of government. Fifty years later we have a memorable proof of this in the Marcia-Victor episode. Lastly, Ignatius is convinced that the Church will interfere quite as energetically on behalf of a foreign brother as on behalf of one of her own number. In the Epistle of Clement to James, c. 2, the Roman bishop is called ὁ ἀληθείας προκαθεζόμενος. Dionysius of Corinth, in his letter to bishop Soter, affords us a glimpse of the vast activity manifested by the Christian Church of the world’s metropolis on behalf of all Christendom and of all brethren far and near; and reveals to us the feelings of filial affection and veneration 157with which she was regarded in all Greece as well as in Antioch. This author has specially emphasised the fact that the Roman Christians are Romans, that is, are conscious of the particular duties incumbent on them as members of the metropolitan Church.320320Euseb., H. E. IV. 23. 9-12; cf, above all, the words: Ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὑμῖν ἔθος ἐστὶ τοῦτο, πάντας μὲν ἀδελφοὺς ποικίλως εὐεργετεῖν, ἐκκλησίαις τε πολλαῖς ταῖς κατὰ πᾶσαν πόλιν ἐφόδια πέμπειν . . . πετροπαράδοτον ἔθος Ῥωμαίων Ῥωμαῖοι διαφυλάττοντες. Note here the emphasis laid on Ῥωμαῖοι. After this evidence we cannot wonder that Irenæus expressly assigned to the Church of Rome the highest rank among those founded by the Apostles.321321According to Irenæus a peculiar significance belongs to the old Jerusalem Church, in so far as all the Christian congregations sprang from her (III. 12. 5: αὗται φωνὰι τῆς ἐκκλησίας, ἐξ ἧς πᾶσα ἔσχηκεν ἐκκλησία τὴς ἀρχήν· αὗται φωναὶ τῆς μητροπόλεως τῶν τῆς καινῆς διαθήκης πολιτῶν). For obvious reasons Irenæus did not speak of the Jerusalem Church of his own time. Hence that passage cannot be utilised. His famous testimony has been quite as often under- as over-estimated. Doubtless his reference to the Roman Church is introduced in such a way that she is merely mentioned by way of example, just as he also adds the allusion to Smyrna and Ephesus; but there is quite as little doubt that this example was no arbitrary selection. The truth rather is that the Roman community must have been named, because its decision was already the most authoritative and impressive in Christendom.322322Iren. III. 3. 1: “Sed quoniam valde longum est, in hoc tali volumine omnium ecclesiarum enumerare successiones, maximæ et antiquissimæ et omnibus cognitæ, a gloriosissimis duobus apostolis Paulo et Petro Romæ fundatæ et constitutæ ecclesiæ, eam quam habet ab apostolis traditionem et annuntiatam hominibus fidem, per successiones episcoporum pervenientem usque ad nos indicantes confundimus omnes eos, qui quoquo modo vel per sibiplacentiam malam vel vanam gloriam vel per cæcitatem et malam sententiam, præterquam oportet, colligunt. Ad hanc enim ecclesiam propter potentiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam, hoc est, eos qui sunt undique fideles, in qua semper ab his, qui sunt undique, conservata est ea quæ est ab apostolis traditio.” On this we may remark as follows: (1) The special importance which Irenæus claims for the Roman Church — for he is only referring to her — is not merely based by him on her assumed foundation by Peter and Paul, but on a combination of the four attributes “maxima”, “antiquissima” etc. Dionysius of Corinth also made this assumption (Euseb., II 25. 8), but applied it quite as much to the Corinthian Church. As regards capability of proving the truth of the Church’s faith, all the communities founded by the Apostles possess principalitas in relation to the others; but the Roman Church has the potentior principalitas, in so far as she excels all the rest in her qualities of ecclesia maxima et omnibus cognita etc. Principalitas = “sovereign authority,” αυθεντία, for this was probably the word in the original text (see proceedings of the Royal Prussian Academy of Science, 9th Nov., 1893). In common with most scholars I used to think that the “in qua” refers to “Roman Church”; but I have now convinced myself (see the treatise just cited) that it relates to “omnem ecclesiam”, and that the clause introduced by “in qua” merely asserts that every church, in so far as she is faithful to tradition, i.e., orthodox, must as a matter of course agree with that of Rome. (2) Irenæus asserts that every Church, i.e., believers in all parts of the world, must agree with this Church (“convenire” is to be understood in a figurative sense; the literal acceptation “every Church must come to that of Rome” is not admissible). However, this “must” is not meant as an imperative, but = ἀνάγκη = “it cannot be otherwise.” In reference to principalitas = ἀυθεντία (see I. 31. 1: I. 26. 1) it must be remembered that Victor of Rome (l.c.) speaks of the “origo authentici apostolatus”, and Tertullian remarks of Valentinus when he apostatised at Rome, “ab ecclesia authenticæ regulæ abrupit” (adv. Valent. 4). Whilst giving a 158formal scheme of proof that assigned the same theoretical value to each Church founded by the Apostles, Irenaeus added a reference to particular circumstance, viz., that in his time many communities turned to Rome in order to testify their orthodoxy.323323Beyond doubt his “convenire necesse est” is founded on actual circumstances. As soon as we cease to obscure our vision with theories and keep in view the actual circumstances, we have no cause for astonishment. Considering the active intercourse between the various Churches and the metropolis, it was of the utmost importance to all, especially so long as they required financial aid, to be in connection with that of Rome, to receive support from her, to know she would entertain travelling brethren, and to have the power of recommending prisoners and those pining in the mines to her influential intervention. The evidence of Ignatius and Dionysius as well as the Marcia-Victor episode place this beyond doubt (see above). The efforts of Marcion and Valentinus in Rome have also a bearing on this question, and the venerable bishop, Polycarp, did not shrink from the toil of a long journey to secure the valuable fellowship of the Roman Church;324324On other important journeys of Christian men and bishops to Rome in the 2nd and 3rd centuries see Caspari, l.c. Above all we may call attention to the journey of Abercius of Hierapolis (not Hierapolis on the Meander) about 200 or even earlier. Its historical reality is not to be questioned. See his words in the epitaph composed by himself (V. 7 f.): εἰς Ῥώμην ὅς ἔπεμψεν ἐμὲν βασίληαν ἀθρῆσαι καὶ βασίλισσαν ιδεῖν χρυσόστολον χρυσοπέδιλον. However, Ficker raises very serious objections to the Christian origin of the inscription. it was not Anicetus who came to Polycarp, 159but Polycarp to Anicetus. At the time when the controversy with Gnosticism ensued, the Roman Church showed all the rest an example of resolution; it was naturally to be expected that, as a necessary condition of mutual fellowship, she should require other communities to recognise the law by which she had regulated her own circumstances. No community in the Empire could regard with indifference its relationship to the great Roman Church; almost everyone had connections with her; she contained believers from all the rest. As early as 180 this Church could point to a series of bishops reaching in uninterrupted succession from the glorious apostles Paul and Peter325325We cannot here discuss how this tradition arose; in all likelihood it already expresses the position which the Roman Church very speedily attained in Christendom. See Renan, Orig., Vol. VII., p. 70: “Pierre et Paul (réconciliés), voilà le chef-d’œuvre qui fondait la suprématie ecclésiastique de Rome clans l’avenir. Une nouvelle qualité mythique remplaçait celle de Romulus et Remus.” But it is highly probable that Peter was really in Rome like Paul (see 1 Clem. V., Ignatius ad Rom. IV.); both really performed important services to the Church there, and died as martyrs in that city. down to the present time; and she alone maintained a brief but definitely formulated lex, which she entitled the summary of apostolic tradition, and by reference to which she decided all questions of faith with admirable certainty. Theories were incapable of overcoming the elementary differences that could not but appear as soon as Christianity became naturalised in the various provinces and towns of the Empire. Nor was it theories that created the empiric unity of the Churches, but the unity which the Empire possessed in Rome; the extent and composition of the Græco-Latin community there; the security — and this was not the least powerful element — that accompanied the development of this great society, well provided as it was with wealth and possessed of an influence in high quarters already dating from the first century;326326The wealth of the Roman Church is also illustrated by the present of 200,000 sesterces brought her by Marcion (Tertull., de præsc. 30). The “Shepherd” also contains instructive particulars with regard to this. As far as her influence is concerned, we possess various testimonies from Philipp. IV. 22 down to the famous account by Hippolytus of the relations of Victor to Marcia. We may call special attention to Ignatius’ Epistle to the Romans. as well as the care which it displayed on behalf of all Christendom. All these causes combined to convert 160the Christian communities into a real confederation under the primacy of the Roman Church (and subsequently under the leadership of her bishops.). This primacy cannot of course be further defined, for it was merely a de facto one. But, from the nature of the case, it was immediately shaken, when it was claimed as a legal right associated with the person of the Roman bishop.
That this theory is more than a hypothesis is shown by several facts which prove the unique authority as well as the interference of the Roman Church (that is, of her bishop). First, in the Montanist controversy — and that too at the stage when it was still almost exclusively confined to Asia Minor — the already sobered adherents of the new prophecy petitioned Rome (bishop Eleutherus) to recognise their Church, and it was at Rome that the Gallic confessors cautiously interfered in their behalf; after which a native of Asia Minor induced the Roman bishop to withdraw the letters of toleration already issued.327327See Tertullian, adv. Prax.1; Euseb., H. E. V. 3, 4. Dictionary of Christian Biography III., p. 937. In view of the facts that it was not Roman Montanists who were concerned, that Rome was the place where the Asiatic members of this sect sought for recognition, and that it was in Rome that the Gauls interfered in their behalf, the significance of this proceeding cannot be readily minimised. We cannot of course dogmatise on the matter; but the fact can be proved that the decision of the Roman Church must have settled the position of that sect of enthusiasts in Christendom. Secondly, what is reported to us of Victor, the successor of Eleutherus, is still plainer testimony. He ventured to issue an edict, which we may already style a peremptory one, proclaiming the Roman practice with regard to the regulation of ecclesiastical festivals to be the universal rule in the Church, and declaring that every congregation, that failed to adopt the Roman arrangement,328328 Euseb., H. E. V. 24. 9: Ἐπὶ τούτοις ὁ μὲν τῆς Ῥωμαίων προεστὼς Βίκτωρ ἀθρόως τῆς Ἀσίας πάσης ἅμα ταῖς ὁμόροις ἐκκλησίαις τὰς παροικίας ἀποτόέμνειν ὡσὰν ἑτεροδοξούσας, τῆς κοινῆς ἑνώσεως πειρᾶται, καὶ στηλιτέυει γε διὰ γραμμάτων, ακοινωνέτους πάντας ἄρδην τούς ἐκεῖσε ἀνακηρύττων ἀδελφούς. Stress should be laid on two points here: (1) Victor proclaimed that the people of Asia Minor were to be excluded from the κοινὴ ἕνωσις, and not merely from the fellowship of the Roman Church; (2) he based the excommunication on the alleged heterodoxy of those Churches. See Heinichen, Melet. VIII., on Euseb., l.c. Victor’s action is parallelled by that of Stephen. Firmilian says to the latter: “Dum enim putas, omnes abs te abstineri posse, solum te ab omnibus abstinuisti.” It is a very instructive fact that in the 4th century Rome also made the attempt to have Sabbath fasting established as an apostolic custom. See the interesting work confuted by Augustine (ep. 36), a writing which emanates from a Roman author who is unfortunately unknown to us. Cf. also Augustine’s 54th and 55th epistles. 161was excluded from the union of the one Church on the ground of heresy. How would Victor have ventured on such an edict — though indeed he had not the power of enforcing it in every case — unless the special prerogative of Rome to determine the conditions of the “common unity” (κοινὴ ἕνωσις) in the vital questions of the faith had been an acknowledged and well-established fact? How could Victor have addressed such a demand to the independent Churches, if he had not been recognised, in his capacity of bishop of Rome, as the special guardian of the κοινὴ ἕνωσις?329329Irenæus also (l.c. § 11) does not appear to have questioned Victor’s proceeding as such, but as applied to this particular case. Thirdly, it was Victor who formally excluded Theodotus from Church fellowship. This is the first really well-attested case of a Christian taking his stand on the rule of faith being excommunicated because a definite interpretation of it was already insisted on. In this instance the expression ὑιὸς μονογενής (only begotten Son) was required to be understood in the sense of φύσει Θεός (God by nature). It was in Rome that this first took place. Fourthly, under Zephyrinus, Victor’s successor, the Roman ecclesiastics interfered in the Carthaginian veil dispute, making common cause with the local clergy against Tertullian; and both appealed to the authority of predecessors, that is, above all, of the Roman bishops.330330See Tertull., de orat. 22: “Sed non putet institutionem unusquisque antecessoris commovendam.” De virg. vel. I: “Paracletus solus antecessor, quia solus post Christum”; 2: “Eas ego acclesias proposui, quas et ipsi apostoli vel apostolici viri condiderunt, et puto ante quosdam”; 3: “Sed nec inter consuetudines dispicere voluerunt illi sanctissimi antecessores”. This is also the question referred to in the important remark in Jerome, de vir. inl. 53: “Tertullianus ad mediam ætatem presbyter fuit ecclesiæ Africanæ, invidia postea et contumeliis clericorum Romanæ ecclesiæ ad Montani dogma delapsus.” Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, and Cyprian were 162obliged to resist the pretensions of these ecclesiastics to authority outside their own Church, the first having to contend with Calixtus, and the three others with Stephen.331331Stephen acted like Victor and excluded almost all the East from the fellowship of the Church; see in addition to Cyprian’s epistles that of Dionysius of Alexandria in Euseb., H. E. VII. 5. In reference to Hippolytus, see Philosoph. I. IX. In regard to Origen, see the allusions in de orat. 28 fin.; in Matth. XI. 9, 15: XII. 9-14: XVI. 8, 22: XVII. 14; in Joh. X. 16; Rom. VI in Isai. c. I. With regard to Philosoph. IX. 12, Sohm rightly remarks (p. 389): “It is clear that the responsibility was laid on the Roman bishop not merely in several cases where married men were made presbyters and deacons, but also when they were appointed bishops; and it is also evident that he appears just as responsible when bishops are not deposed in consequence of their marrying. One cannot help concluding that the Roman bishop has the power of appointing and deposing not merely presbyters and deacons, but also bishops. Moreover, the impression is conveyed that this appointment and deposition of bishops takes place in Rome, for the passage contains a description of existent conditions in the Roman Church. Other communities may be deprived of their bishops by an order from Rome, and a bishop (chosen in Rome) may be sent them. The words of the passage are: ἐπὶ Καλλίστου ἤρξαντο ἐπίσκοποι καὶ πρεσβύτεροι καὶ διάκονοι δίγαμοι καὶ τρίγαμοι καθίστασθαι εἰς κλήρους· εἰ δὲ καὶ τις ἐν κλήρῳ ὤν γαμοίη, μένειν τὸν τοιοῦτον ἐν τῷ κλήρῳ ὡς μὴ ἡμαρτηκότα.
It was the Roman Church that first displayed this activity and care; the Roman bishop sprang from the community in exactly the same way as the corresponding official did in other places.332332In the treatise “Die Briefe des römischen Klerus aus der Zeit der Sedisvacanz im Jahre 250” (Abhandlungen für Weizsäcker, 1892), I have shown how the Roman clergy kept the revenue of the Church and of the Churches in their hands, though they had no bishop. What language the Romans used in epistles 8, 30, 36 of the Cyprian collection, and how they interfered in the affairs of the Carthaginian Church! Beyond doubt the Roman Church possessed an acknowledged primacy in the year 250; it was the primacy of active participation and fulfilled duty. As yet there was no recognised dogmatic or historic foundation assigned for it; in fact it is highly probable that this theory was still shaky and uncertain in Rome herself. The college of presbyters and deacons feels and speaks as if it were the bishop. For it was not on the bishop that the incomparable prestige of Rome was based — at least this claim was not yet made with any confidence, — but on the city itself, on the origin and history, the faith and love, the earnestness and zeal of the whole Roman Church and her clergy. In Irenæus’ proof from prescription, however, it is already the Roman bishops that are specially mentioned.333333In Tertullian, de præsc. 36, the bishops are not mentioned. He also, like Irenæus, cites the Roman Church as one amongst others. We have already remarked that in the scheme of proof from prescription no higher rank could be assigned to the Roman Church than to any other of the group founded by the Apostles. Tertullian continues to maintain this position, but expressly remarks that the Roman Church has special authority for the Carthaginian, because Carthage had received its Christianity from Rome. He expresses the special relationship between Rome and Carthage in the following terms: “Si autem Italiæ adiaces habes Romam, unde nobis quoque auctoritas præsto est.” With Tertullian, then, the de facto position of the Roman Church in Christendom did not lead to the same conclusion in the scheme of proof from prescription as we found in Irenæus. But in his case also that position is indicated by the rhetorical ardour with which he speaks of the Roman Church, whereas he does nothing more than mention Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Ephesus. Even at that time, moreover, he had ground enough for a more reserved attitude towards Rome, though in the antignostic struggle he could not dispense with the tradition of the Roman community. In the veil dispute (de virg. vel. 2) he opposed the authority of the Greek apostolic Churches to that of Rome. Polycarp had done the same against Anicetus, Polycrates against Victor, Proculus against his Roman opponents. Conversely, Praxeas in his appeal to Eleutherus (c. I.: “præcessorum auctoritates”), Caius when contending with Proculus, the Carthaginian clergy when opposing Tertullian (in the veil dispute), and Victor when contending with Polycrates set the authority of Rome against that of the Greek apostolic Churches. These struggles at the transition from the 2nd to the 3rd century are of the utmost importance. Rome was here seeking to overthrow the authority of the only group of Churches able to enter into rivalry with her those of Asia Minor, and succeeded in the attempt. 163Praxeas reminded the bishop of Rome of the authority of his predecessors (“auctoritates praecessorum eius”) and it was in the character of bishop that Victor acted. The assumption that Paul and Peter laboured in Rome, that is, founded the Church of that city (Dionysius, Irenæus, Tertullian, Caius), must have conferred a high degree of prestige on her bishops, as soon as the latter officials were elevated to the position of more or less sovereign lords of the communities and were regarded as successors of the Apostles. The first who acted up to this idea was Calixtus. The sarcastic titles of “pontifex maximus”, “episcopus episcoporum”, “benedictus papa” and “apostolicus”, applied to him by Tertullian in “de pudicitia” I. 13, are so many references to the fact that Calixtus already claimed for himself a position of primacy, in other words, that he associated with his own personal position as bishop the primacy possessed by the Roman Church, which pre-eminence, however, must have been gradually vanishing in proportion to the progress of the Catholic form of organisation among the other communities. Moreover, that is evident from the form of the edict he issued (Tert. 1. c., I: “I hear that an edict has been issued and that a decisive one”, 164“audio edictum esse præpositum et quidem peremptorium”), from the grounds it assigned and from the opposition to it on the part of Tertullian. From the form, in so far as Calixtus acted here quite independently and, without previous consultation, issued a peremptory edict, that is, one settling the matter and immediately taking effect; from the grounds it assigned, in so far as he appealed in justification of his action to Matt. XVI. 18 ff.334334De pudic. 21: “De tua nunc sententia quæro, unde hoc ius ecclesiæ usurpes. Si quia dixerit Petro dominus: Super hanc petram ædificabo ecclesiam meam, tibi dedi claves regni cælestis, vel, Quæcumque alligaveris vel solveris in terra, erunt alligata vel soluta in cœlis, id circo præsumis et ad te derivasse solvendi et alligandi potestatem?” Stephen did the same; see Firmilian in Cyprian ep. 75. With this should be compared the description Clement of Rome gives in his epistles to James of his own installation by Peter (c. 2). The following words are put in Peter’s mouth: Κλήμεντα τοῦτον ἐπίσκοπον ὑμῖν χειροτονῶ, ᾧ τὴν ἐμὴν τῶν λόγων πιστεύω καθέδραν . . . διὸ αὐτῷ μεταδίδωμι τὴν ἐξουσίαν τοῦ δεσμεύειν καὶ λύειν, ἵνα περὶ παντὸς οὗ ἄν χειροτονήσῃ ἐπὶ γῆς ἔσται δεδογματισμένον ἐν οὐρανοῖς. δήσει γὰρ ὅ δεῖ δεθῆναι καὶ λύσει ὅ δεῖ λυθῆναι, ὡς τὸν τῆς ἐκκλησίας εἰδὼς κανόνα. — the first instance of the kind recorded in history; from Tertullian’s opposition to it, because the latter treats it not as local, Roman, but as pregnant in consequences for all Christendom. But, as soon as the question took the form of enquiring whether the Roman bishop was elevated above the rest, a totally new situation arose. Even in the third century, as already shown, the Roman community, led by its bishops, still showed the rest an example in the process of giving a political constitution to the Church. It can also be proved that even far distant congregations were still being bound to the Roman Church through financial support,335335See Dionysius of Alexandria’s letter to the Roman bishop Stephen (Euseb., H. E. VII. 5. 2): Αἱ μέντοι Συρίαι ὅλαι καὶ ἡ Ἀραβία, οἷς ἐπαρκεῖτε ἑκάστοτε καὶ οἷς νῦν ἐπεστείλατε. and that she was appealed to in questions of faith, just as the law of the city of Rome was invoked as the standard in civil questions.336336In the case of Origen’s condemnation the decision of Rome seems to have been of special importance. Origen sought to defend his orthodoxy in a letter written by his own hand to the Roman bishop Fabian (see Euseb., H. E. VI. 36; Jerome, ep. 84. 10). The Roman bishop Pontian had previously condemned him after summoning a “senate”; see Jerome, ep. 33 (Döllinger, Hippolytus and Calixtus, p. 259 f.). Further, it is an important fact that a deputation of Alexandrian Christians, who did not agree with the Christology of their bishop Dionysius, repaired to Rome to the Roman bishop Dionysius and formally accused the first named prelate. It is also significant that Dionysius received this complaint and brought the matter up at a Roman synod. No objection was taken to this proceeding (Athanas., de synod.). This information is very instructive, for it proves that the Roman Church was ever regarded as specially charged with watching over the observance of the conditions of the general ecclesiastical federation, the κοινὴ ἕνωσις. As to the fact that in circular letters, not excepting Eastern ones, the Roman Church was put at the head of the address, see Euseb., H. E. VII. 30. How frequently foreign bishops came to Rome is shown by the 19th canon of Arles (A.D. 314): “De episcopis peregrinis, qui in urbem solent venire, placuit iis locum dari ut offerant.” The first canon is also important in deciding the special position of Rome. It 165is further manifest from Cyprian’s epistles that the Roman Church was regarded as the ecclesia principalis, as the guardian par excellence of the unity of the Church. We may explain from Cyprian’s own particular situation all else that he said in praise of the Roman Church (see above p. 88, note 2) and specially of the cathedra Petri; but the general view that she is the “matrix et radix ecclesiæ catholicæ” is not peculiar to him, and the statement that the “unitas sacerdotalis” originated in Rome is merely the modified expression, necessitated by the altered circumstances of the Church, for the acknowledged fact that the Roman community was the most distinguished among the sister groups, and as such had had and still possessed the right and duty of watching over the unity of the whole. Cyprian himself no doubt took a further step at the time of his correspondence with Cornelius, and proclaimed the special reference of Matt. XVI. to the cathedra Petri; but he confined his theory to the abstractions “ecclesia”, “cathedra”. In him the importance of this cathedra oscillates between the significance of a once existent fact that continues to live on as a symbol, and that of a real and permanent court of appeal. Moreover, he did not go the length of declaring that any special authority within the collective Church attached to the temporary occupant of the cathedra Petri. If we remove from Cyprian’s abstractions everything to which he himself thinks there is nothing concrete corresponding, then we must above all eliminate every prerogative of the Roman bishop for the time being. What remains behind is the special position of the Roman Church, which indeed is represented by her bishop. Cyprian can say quite 166frankly: “owing to her magnitude Rome ought to have precedence over Carthage” (“pro magnitudine sua debet Carthaginem Roma præcedere”) and his theory: “the episcopate is one, and a part of it is held by each bishop for the whole” (“episcopatus unus est, cuius a singulis in solidum pars tenetur”), virtually excludes any special prerogative belonging to a particular bishop (see also “de unit.” 4). Here we have reached the point that has already been briefly referred to above, viz., that the consolidation of the Churches in the Empire after the Roman pattern could not but endanger the prestige and peculiar position of Rome, and did in fact do so. If we consider that each bishop was the acknowledged sovereign of his own diocese — now Catholic, that all bishops, as such, were recognised to be successors of the Apostles, that, moreover, the attribute of priesthood occupied a prominent position in the conception of the episcopal office, and that the metropolitan unions with their presidents and synods had become completely naturalised — in short, that the rigid episcopal and provincial constitution of the Church had become an accomplished fact, so that, ultimately, it was no longer communities, but merely bishops that had dealings with each other, then we shall see that a new situation was thereby created for Rome, that is, for her bishop. In the West it was perhaps chiefly through the cooperation of Cyprian that Rome found herself face to face with a completely organised Church system. His behaviour in the controversy about heretical baptism proves that in cases of dispute he was resolved to elevate his theory of the sovereign authority of each bishop above his theory of the necessary connection with the cathedra Petri. But, when that levelling of the episcopate came about, Rome had already acquired rights that could no longer be cancelled.337337Peculiar circumstances, which unfortunately we cannot quite explain, are connected with the cases discussed by Cyprian in epp. 67 and 68. The Roman bishop must have had the acknowledged power of dealing with the bishop of Arles, whereas the Gallic prelates had not this right. Sohm, p. 391 ff., assumes that the Roman bishop alone — not Cyprian or the bishops of Gaul — had authority to exclude the bishop of Arles from the general fellowship of the Church, but that, as far as the Gallic Churches were concerned, such an excommunication possessed no legal effect, but only a moral one, because in their case the bishop of Rome had only a spiritual authority and no legal power. Further, two Spanish bishops publicly appealed to the Roman see against their deposition, and Cyprian regarded this appeal as in itself correct. Finally, Cornelius says of himself in a letter (in Euseb., H. E. VI. 43. 10): τῶν λοιπῶν ἐπισκόπων διαδόχους εἰς τοὺς τόπους, ἐν οἷς ἦσαν, χειροτονήσαντες ἀπεστάλκαμεν. This quotation refers to Italy, and the passage, which must be read connectedly, makes it plain (see, besides, the quotation in reference to Calixtus given above on p. 162), that, before the middle of the 3rd century, the Roman Church already possessed a legal right of excommunication and the recognised power of making ecclesiastical appointments as far as the communities and bishops in Italy were concerned (see Sohm, p. 389 ff.). Besides, there was 167one thing that could not be taken from the Roman Church, nor therefore from her bishop, even if she were denied the special right to Matt. XVI., viz., the possession of Rome. The site of the world’s metropolis might be shifted, but Rome could not be removed. In the long run, however, the shifting of the capital proved advantageous to ecclesiastical Rome. At the beginning of the great epoch when the alienation of East from West became pronounced and permanent, an emperor, from political grounds, decided in favour of that party in Antioch “with whom the bishops in Italy and the city of the Romans held intercourse” (οἷς ἄν οἱ κατὰ τὴν Ἰταλίαν καὶ τὴν Ῥωμαίων πόλιν ἐπίσκοποι τοῦ δόγματος επιστέλλοιεν338338Euseb., H. E. VII. 30. 19. The Church of Antioch sought to enter upon an independent line of development under Paul of Samosata. Paul’s fall was the victory of Rome. We may suppose it to be highly probable, though to the best of my belief there is for the present no sure proof, that it was not till then that the Roman standards and sacraments, catholic and apostolic collection of Scriptures (see, on the contrary, the use of Scripture in the Didaskalia), apostolic rule of faith, and apostolic episcopacy attained supremacy in Antioch; but that they began to be introduced into that city about the time of Serapion’s bishopric (that is, during the Easter controversy). The old records of the Church of Edessa have an important bearing on this point; and from these it is evident that her constitution did not begin to assume a Catholic form till the beginning of the 3rd century, and that as the result of connection with Rome. See the Doctrine of Addai by Phillips, p. 50: “Palut himself went to Antioch and received the hand of the priesthood from Serapion, bishop of Antioch. Serapion, bishop of Antioch, himself also received the hand from Zephyrinus, bishop of the city of Rome, from the succession of the hand of the priesthood of Simon Cephas, which he received from our Lord, who was there bishop of Rome 25 years, (sic) in the days of the Cæsar, who reigned there 13 years.” (See also Tixeront, Édesse, pp. 149, 152.) Cf. with this the prominence given in the Acts of Scharbil and Barsamya to the fact that they were contemporaries of Fabian, bishop of Rome. We read there (see Rubens Duval, Les Actes de Scharbil et les Actes de Barsamya, Paris, 1889, and Histoire d’Édesse, p. 130): “Barsamya (he was bishop of Edessa at the time of Decius) lived at the time of Fabian, bishop of Rome. He had received the laying on of hands from Abschelama, who had received it from Palut. Palut had been consecrated by Serapion, bishop of Antioch, and the latter had been consecrated by Zephyrinus, bishop of Rome.” As regards the relation of the State of Rome to the Roman Church, that is, to the Roman bishop, who by the year 250 had already become a sort of præfectus urbis, with his district superintendents, the deacons, and in fact a sort of princeps æmulus, cf. (1) the recorded comments of Alexander Severus on the Christians, and especially those on their organisation; (2) the edict of Maximinus Thrax and the banishment of the bishops Pontian and Hippolytus; (3) the attitude of Philip the Arabian; (4) the remarks of Decius in Cyp. ep. 55 (see above p. 124) and his proceedings against the Roman bishops, and (5) the attitude of Aurelian in Antioch. On the extent and organisation of the Roman Church about 250 see Euseb., H. E. VI. 43.). In this instance the 168interest of the Roman Church and the interest of the emperor coincided. But the Churches in the various provinces, being now completely organised and therefore seldom in need of any more help from outside, were henceforth in a position to pursue their own interest. So the bishop of Rome had step by step to fight for the new authority, which, being now based on a purely dogmatic theory and being forced to repudiate any empirical foundation, was inconsistent with the Church system that the Roman community more than any other had helped to build up. The proposition “the Roman Church always had the primacy” (“ecclesia Romana semper habuit primatum”) and the statement that “Catholic” virtually means “Roman Catholic” are gross fictions, when devised in honour of the temporary occupant of the Roman see and detached from the significance of the Eternal City in profane history; but, applied to the Church of the imperial capital, they contain a truth the denial of which is equivalent to renouncing the attempt to explain the process by which the Church was unified and catholicised.339339The memorable words in the lately discovered appeal by Eusebius of Dorylaeum to Leo I. (Neues Archiv., Vol. XI., part 2, p. 364 f.) are no mere flattery, and the fifth century is not the first to which they are applicable: “Curavit desuper et ab exordio consuevit thronus apostolicus iniqua perferentes defensare et eos qui in evitabiles factiones inciderunt, adiuvare et humi iacentes erigere, secundum possibilitatem, quam habetis; causa autem rei, quod sensum rectum tenetis et inconcussam servatis erga dominum nostrum Iesum Christum fidem, nec non etiam indissimulatam universis fratribus et omnibus in nomine Christi vocatis tribuitis caritatem, etc.” See also Theodoret’s letters addressed to Rome.
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