Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Cyprian/The Epistles of Cyprian/Part 43
To the Roman Confessors, that They Should Return to Unity.
Argument.—He Exhorts the Roman Confessors Who Had Been Seduced by the Faction of Novatian and Novatus, to Return to Unity.
Cyprian to Maximus and Nicostratus, and the other confessors, greeting. As you have frequently gathered from my letters, beloved, what honour I have ever observed in my mode of speaking for your confession, and what love for the associated brotherhood; believe, I entreat you, and acquiesce in these my letters, wherein I both write and with simplicity and fidelity consult for you, and for your doings, and for your praise. For it weighs me down and saddens me, and the intolerable grief of a smitten, almost prostrate, spirit seizes me, when I find that you there, contrary to ecclesiastical order, contrary to evangelical law, contrary to the unity of the Catholic institution, had consented that another bishop should be made. That is what is neither right nor allowable to be done; that another church should be set up; that Christ’s members should be torn asunder; that the one mind and body of the Lord’s flock should be lacerated by a divided emulation. I entreat that in you, at all events, that unlawful rending of our brotherhood may not continue; but remembering both your confession and the divine tradition, you may return to the Mother whence you have gone forth; whence you came to the glory of confession with the rejoicing of the same Mother. And think not that you are thus maintaining the Gospel of Christ when you separate yourselves from the flock of Christ, and from His peace and concord; since it is more fitting for glorious and good soldiers to sit down within their own camp, and so placed within to manage and provide for those things which are to be dealt with in common. For as our unanimity and concord ought by no means to be divided, and because we cannot forsake the Church and go outside her to come to you, we beg and entreat you with what exhortations we can, rather to return to the Church your Mother, and to our brotherhood. I bid you, dearest brethren, ever heartily farewell.
- Oxford ed.: Ep. xlvi. a.d. 251.
- [“Another bishop should be made.” What would have been the outcry of the whole Church, and what the language of Cyprian, had any idea entered their minds that the case was that of the Divine Oracle of Christendom, the Vicar of Christ, the Centre of Unity, the Infallible, etc.]