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Chapter XXII.—Acesius, Bishop of the Novatians, is summoned by the Emperor to be present at the First Council.

It is related, that the emperor, under the impulse of an ardent desire to see harmony re-established among Christians, summoned Acesius, bishop of the church of the Novatians,11291129    Soc. i. 10, who derived it from Auxanon, a presbyter, who accompanied Acesius to Nice. Cf. i. 13. to the council, placed before him the definition of the faith and of the feast, which had already been confirmed by the signatures of the bishops, and asked whether he could agree thereto. Acesius answered that their exposition defined no new doctrine, and that he accorded in opinion with the Synod, and that he had from the beginning held these sentiments with respect both to the faith and to the feast. “Why, then,” said the emperor, “do you keep aloof from communion with others, if you are of one mind with them?” He replied that the dissension first broke out under Decius, between Novatius and Cornelius,11301130    Eus. H. E. vi. 43–46. and that he considered such persons unworthy of communion who, after baptism, had fallen into those sins which the Scriptures declare to be unto death;11311131    1 John v. 16. for that the remission of those sins, he thought, depended on the authority of God only, and not on the priests. The emperor replied, by saying, “O Acesius, take a ladder and ascend alone to heaven.” By this speech I do not imagine the emperor intended to praise Acesius, but rather to blame him, because, being but a man, he fancied himself exempt from sin.11321132    Socrates’ statement of the source of his information is passed over, as well as his criticism of prejudiced historians. The comment substituted by Soz. is, nevertheless, a partially correct interpretation.


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