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Chapter X.—The Emperor also summons to the Synod Acesius, Bishop of the Novatians.

The emperor’s diligence induces me to mention another circumstance expressive of his mind, and serving to show how much he desired peace. For aiming at ecclesiastical harmony, he summoned to the council Acesius also, a bishop of the sect of Novatians. Now, when the declaration of faith had been written out and subscribed by the Synod, the emperor asked Acesius whether he would also agree to this creed to the settlement of the day on which Easter should be observed. He replied, ‘The Synod has determined nothing new, my prince: for thus heretofore, even from the beginning, from the times of the apostles, I traditionally received the definition of the faith, and the time of the celebration of Easter.’ When, therefore, the emperor further asked him, ‘For what reason then do you separate yourself from communion with the rest of the Church?’ he related what had taken place during the persecution under Decius; and referred to the rigidness of that austere canon which declares, that it is not right persons who after baptism have committed a sin, which the sacred Scriptures denominate ‘a sin unto death’191191    John v. 16. to be considered worthy of participation in the sacraments:192192    θείων μυστηρίων. that they should indeed be exhorted to repentance, but were not to expect remission from the priest, but from God, who is able and has authority to forgive sins.193193    Cf. IV. 28. When Acesius had thus spoken, the emperor said to him, ‘Place a ladder, Acesius, and climb alone into heaven.’194194    Sozom. I. 22. Neither Eusebius Pamphilus nor any other has ever mentioned these things: but I heard them from a man by no means prone to falsehood, who was very old, and simply stated what had taken place in the council in the course of a narrative. From which I conjecture that those who have passed by this occur18rence in silence, were actuated by motives which have influenced many other historians: for they frequently suppress important facts, either from prejudice against some, or partiality towards others.


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