Tracts for the Times/Record XIX

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TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.




RECORDS OF THE CHURCH.

No. XIX.




THE HOLY CHURCH THROUGHOUT ALL THE WORLD DOTH ACKNOWLEDGE THEE.


St. Cyprian on the Unity of the Church.


St. Cyprian was Bishop of Carthage, and was martyred in the Valerian persecution, A.D. 258. His authority stands very high in the Church, from his early date, and from the force and magnanimity of his character. He was originally a teacher of rhetoric, and was converted to Christianity by one Cæcilius, a priest, whose name he afterwards assumed. From the time he was a Catechumen, (i.e. a candidate for baptism,) he devoted himself to the stricter form of Christian obedience, believing that in this way he should best arrive at the knowledge of divine truth; according to the text (John vii. 17.) "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine," &c. Soon after he was baptized he sold his goods to assist the poor. He was afterwards ordained Priest; and, on the death of the Bishop of Carthage, elected in his place. During the Decian persecution, he was clamorously demanded by the populace at the heathen shows, to be thrown to the wild beasts, and in consequence retired from Carthage to a place of safety, where he remained till the fury of the enemies of Christ abated. Some years afterwards the persecution was renewed under the emperor Valerian, when he was banished, by the Roman governor, to a city at some distance from Carthage. Here he remained eleven months, and at the end of this time was arrested by his persecutors, and beheaded in the neighbourhood of his see, on September 14, A.D. 258.

His treatise on the Unity of the Church is especially valuable, as showing the clear and complete view taken by Christians at that early period, of the doctrine of the One Holy Catholic Church, as confessed in the Creed, and maintained by the Church of England, in her Prayer Book and by her great Divines, at this day. It seems to have been written in consequence of a noted religious disturbance of the day, called the Novatian Schism




1.

Heresy and Schism are snares of the Devil.


"Forasmuch as our Lord has given us these words of admonition, 'Ye are the salt of the earth,' and commands us not only to maintain an innocent simplicity of character, but to be prudent as well as simple; ought we not, therefore, my beloved brethren, to keep ourselves ever on the watch, and by anxious and active vigilance to detect and disarm the treachery of our spiritual foe? Let not us, who in Christ have been clothed with wisdom from God the Father, yet prove ourselves to lack wisdom for the protection of our eternal interests. The servants of God have other species of hostility to fear, besides that which would overthrow them by direct opposition, and undisguised assaults. It is easy to be cautious if the danger is before our eyes; for when the foe declares himself, the mind is forearmed for the battle. But fear and caution become more needful, when the enemy steals upon us in a lurking way, and deceives by pretence of amity: an enemy that moves towards his ends by gestures of so subtle a description as to have acquired therefrom the name of Serpent. Such ever have been the arts of that being: such the dark and insidious plots, by which he makes man his victim; by such, in the beginning of the world, he wrought his deceptions, and deceived, with the blandishment of lying flatteries, the incautious credulity of simple souls. And so too he tried to tempt the Lord Himself, approaching Him by stealth, as if, for the second time, he would gain his end by evading suspicion: he was however detected and overpowered, his repulse resulting from his detection. Here, then, we have a lesson before us, of avoiding the way of 'the old man,' and treading in the footsteps of our victorious Saviour; lest we fall back, from incaution, into the snares of death, and fail, through our neglect of prospective dangers, to possess the immortality which has been gained for us. And how can that immortality be ours, unless we keep those commandments of Christ whereby death is driven out and subdued? For Christ Himself has warned us in these words, 'If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.' And again; 'If ye do the things I command you, henceforth I call you not servants, but friends.' In fine, it is to those who act thus, that he applies the distinction of strength and consistency; and speaks of them as founded in massive solidity upon a rock, rearing themselves amidst all the storms and blasts of this world, in tranquil and motionless stability. 'Whosoever,' He saith, heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a rock: the rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.' We ought then to repose upon His mandates: all that he has taught and done we ought to learn and to do. Yet how can any man say that he believes in Christ, when he does not those things which Christ has commanded him to do? How shall the reward of faith belong to the man who keeps no faith with the commandment? Such an one is surely tottering, and will fall away, wafted about by the blasts of error, like dust in a whirlwind; for he who walks not in the way of truth, can make no advance toward salvation.

"We must therefore, my beloved brethren, regard with suspicion, not only those dangers which are open and manifest, but those still more, which steal treacherously upon us. And in these times, when light is come unto the nations, and the beams of salvation break forth to restore and save, when the deaf hear the voice of spiritual grace, the blind open their eyes upon their God, the sick grow strong unto eternal health, the lame hasten unto the Christian communion, and the dumb break out in the expressive accents of prayer, can there be any stronger instance of treachery and stratagem than for this enemy, when he sees the idols left alone, and shrines and temples deserted by the nations of them that believe, to devise the novel artifice of deceiving the credulity even of those who bear the name and title of Christians? Heresy and schism are his invention, for the subversion of faith, the corruption of truth, the division of unity. Those whom he can retain no longer in the blindness of the former way, he circumvents by betraying them into deviation from their new progress. He tears men away from the Church; and while they imagine themselves to have come unto the light, and to have escaped the night of this world, he secretly infuses a second accession of darkness; so that they continue to call themselves Christians, while they stand not by the Gospel of Christ, and never heed or obey Him. They walk in darkness, and think they have light; while the enemy flatters and deceives them, transforming himself, as the Apostle says, into an angel of light, and dressing out his emissaries as the ministers of righteousness. These are the maintainers of night for day, of death for salvation, of despair for proffered hope, of perfidy pretending honour, and of anti-Christ instead of Christ. They invest falsehood in probabilities, and employ stratagem for the frustration of truth."




2.

The Unity of the Church-system is represented in symbol by our Lord's words to St. Peter.

"These results, my beloved brethren, will continue to operate, so long as men neglect the source whence truth came, by never looking back to the Head over all, or keeping up the form of doctrine, which was delivered to us by our Heavenly Teacher. With those who will weigh the subject in their thoughts, and search it out, it will not be necessary to employ any protracted considerations or arguments. It is easy to argue with a faithful mind, because truth in that case may be stated with brevity. The Lord saith unto Peter, 'I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.' And again he says to him, one and the same, after his resurrection, 'Feed my sheep.' He builds his Church on one. And though he gives an equal power to all the Apostles, saying, 'As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted to him; whosesoever sins ye retain, they shall be retained:'—yet in order to indicate the principle of unity, he has by his own act established the origin of that unity in the person of one individual. There was no distinction between St. Peter and the other Apostles, but all participated together in honour and power; yet the selection of one individual is the first act in the Church, that the Church may be itself shown to be one: and this one Church the Holy Spirit hath in the Song of Songs designated and declared, 'My dove, my spotless one, is but one; she is the only one of her mother, elect of her that bare her.'"




3.

Episcopacy is a witness for Unity.

"He who holds not this unity of the Church, does he think that he holds the faith? When a man struggles against the Church, and resists it, does he suppose that he continues to belong to it? For surely the blessed Apostle St. Paul teaches the same thing, and indicates the sacredness of unity in these words: 'There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God.' This unity it is our duty to hold and vindicate with firmness, especially we bishops who preside in the Church, that we may approve our Episcopal authority to be founded in one indivisible principle. Let no man injure the brotherhood by deception; let no man corrupt the truth of our faith by faithless concessions. Episcopal authority is founded in one principle; and the tenure of this authority, however distributed, is associated with a recognition of its indivisible principle. The Church, too, is one, though multiplied far and wide by its naturally prolific tendency: in like manner as the sun has rays many, yet one light; and the tree has many boughs, yet their strength, from the root upwards, is a single property; and when many streams flow from one head, a character of multiplicity may be developed in the copiousness of their discharge, and yet the unity of their nature must be recognised in the fountain they proceed from. Divide the ray from the sun, and the principle of unity will negative their separation; lop the bough from the tree, it will want strength to blossom; cut the stream from its fountain, the remnant will be dried up. Thus the Church, invested with light from the Lord, sends out her rays over the whole earth; and yet the light is one, disseminated every where, with no separation of the original body: she stretches forth the rich luxuriance of her branches over all the world, and pours out her onward streams, and spreads into the distance; yet is there one head, one source, one mother, in all the instances of her eventful fecundity."




4.


The Church is ordained by Christ as the fountain of spiritual life.

"It is from her we receive our birth: her milk is our nourishment; her breath, our life. The spouse of Christ is a spotless spouse; she is incorruptible, and pure; she recognises but one home, and secures by her purity the sanctity of but one alliance. She keeps us as the property of God, and vindicates to His sons their royal inheritance. Whosoever separates from the Church declares himself an alien, and cuts himself off from the inheritance which the Church promises. He cannot obtain the reward which Christ gives, who leaves the Church which Christ has established: he is an alien: he is impure: he is an enemy. God is no more our Father when we cease to be children of the Church. If any one of those escaped who were without the ark of Noah, then will he escape, who trespasses beyond the pale of the Church. The Lord hath given us these words of warning, 'He who is not with me, is against me; and he who gathereth not with me, scattereth.' He who breaks the peace and concord of Christ, sets himself against Christ. He who gathereth elsewhere but in the Church, scattereth the Church of Christ."




5.

One God and Saviour, one Church.

"The Lord saith, 'I and the Father are one;' and again, of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, it is written, 'and these Three are One.' And does any man believe that this unity, resting in strength from above, and formed by the consecration of Heaven, can be cut asunder in the Church, and separated by the opposition of clashing opinions? He who holds not this unity, holds not the law of God, holds not the faith of Father and Son, holds not the truth unto salvation. This consecration of unity, this bond of union inseparably coherent, is exhibited in the place in the Gospel, where the coat of our Lord Jesus Christ is left entire by persons casting lots for it; so that the garment, instead of being parted, becomes a single possession, and is delivered over complete and perfect. Holy Scripture has these words; "But for the coat, because it was not sewed, but woven from the top throughout, they said one to another, let us not rend it, but cast lots whose it shall be." Here unity descended from the top, to denote that it proceeds from heaven and from the Father. And it was out of the question for the receiver or possessor of it to rend it, but he took possession of the whole piece, as a complete and united substance. He wears not Christ's garment, who cuts and sunders Christ's Church. Now, on the other hand, when, on Solomon's death, his kingdom and people were divided, Ahijah the prophet, meeting Jeroboam the king in the field, divided his garment into twelve parts, saying, take unto thee ten pieces; for thus saith the Lord, Behold, I rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee, and two tribes shall belong to him, for my servant David's sake, and for Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen, to place my name there. When the twelve tribes of Israel were divided, the prophet Ahijah rent his garment. But because Christ's people cannot be rent, his coat being woven and conjoined throughout, was not divided by its owners. United, conjoined, co-entwined, it shows the inseparable concord of us, the people who put on Christ : so that in this holy instance of His garment, he manifests the unity of the Church."


(To be continued.)


Oxford,
The Feast of St. Andrew.



These Tracts are published Monthly, and sold at the price of 2d. for each sheet, or 7s. for 50 copies.

LONDON: PRINTED FOR J. G. & F. RIVINGTON,
ST. PAUL'S CHURCH YARD, AND WATERLOO PLACE.

1834.


Gilbert & Rivington, Printers, St. John's Square, London.
[Price 1d.
(Ad Populum.)


TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.




RECORDS OF THE CHURCH.

No. XX.




THE HOLY CHURCH THROUGHOUT ALL THE WORLD DOTH ACKNOWLEDGE THEE.


St. Cyprian on the Unity of the Church, (continued.)




6.

The one Church Catholic, and one only, in every place.

Who then is the criminal and the traitor, who so mad and reckless a schismatic, as either to credit the practicability, or venture on the attempt of putting asunder what God has made one; this garment of the Lord, the Church of Christ? He teaches. He warns us, in His Gospel, "There shall be one fold, and one shepherd." And does any suppose that there can be, in one place, either many shepherds or many folds? So too the Apostle, suggesting this same unity, implores and exhorts us; "I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you; but that ye be joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment." And again he says, "bearing one another's burthens in love, doing all to preserve the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace." Think you that any can stand and live, who retires from the Church, and forms for himself other habitations and a different home? whereas, it was said to Rahab, in whom was prefigured the Church, "Thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all the house of thy father, thou shalt gather unto thee into thine house, and it shall come to pass, whosoever shall go abroad beyond the door of thine house, his blood shall be on his own head." So the Paschal sacrifice contains this simple mandate in the law of Exodus, that the lamb which is slain, as prefigurative of Christ, must be eat in one house. "In one house shall ye eat it, saith the Lord: ye shall not send its flesh abroad from the house." The flesh of Christ, the Lord's Sacrament, cannot be sent out of doors: and believers have no other home, but the Church only. This home, this hostelry of love, the Holy Spirit designates and expresses in the Psalms, saying, "God who maketh men to dwell with one mind in an house." In the house of God, in the Church of Christ, men live together with one mind, in concord and simplicity continuing.

Therefore, likewise the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove: a simple and joyous animal, not mischievous in its nature nor dangerous from the use either of its beak or talons; recognising in its affections one single home; each pair nurturing together their common offspring; consorting in their flight when they wander abroad, passing their lives in mutual intercourse; indicating by the gesture of their bills the peacefulness of their union, and every way fulfilling the law of love. The same singleness of mind ought to be seen in the Church, and the same intercourse of affection be maintained; our love of the brotherhood ought to have its pattern in the doves; our mildness and gentleness to be copied from lambs and sheep. Has the spirit of a Christian aught to do with the fierceness of the wolf, or the rage of the dog, the deadly poison of serpents, and the untamed ferocity of wild beasts? We should rejoice that such foes are shut out from the Church, lest they waste the doves and the sheep of Christ, by their cruel and poisonous contagion. There can be no amalgamation, no co-union of bitter with sweet, of darkness with light, of fair weather with foul, of war with peace, of plenty with dearth, of drought with fountains, of calm with storm.




7.

Schism an evidence of presumption and perverseness.

Let it not be thought, that those are good men who withdraw from the Church. The wind never carries away the wheat, nor do storms overthrow the tree which has a solid root to rest on. It is the empty straw that the tempest tosses, it is the sapless tree that the blast of wind overthrows. It is men like these, that the Apostle John points out with a reproach, "they went forth from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, surely they would have remained with us." Hence, often have heresies arisen, and hence do rise, while the perverse spirit puts a period to peace, and perfidy and discord exclude unity. But the Lord permits and suffers these things to be done, maintaining the continuance of individual free-will, that while the heart and spirit are weighed in the balance of truth, the perfect faith of them that are approved may be distinguished and ascertained. The Holy Spirit forewarns us by the Apostle, and says, "it is needful also, that heresies should be, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." Thus are the faithful approved, and thus the faithless detected: so that even before the day of judgment the souls of the righteous are separated from the unrighteous, the wheat distinguished from the chaff.

These are they who take upon them, God not willing, to preside over their rash companions, establish themselves in authority without any lawful ordination, and assume the name of Bishop, when no man gives them a Bishoprick. These the Holy Spirit marks out in the Psalms, as sitting in the seat of the noxious: a plague and infection of the faith, deceiving with the serpent's mouth, wise to corrupt truth, breathing out poison unto death with pestilential tongues; whose words eat like a canker; whose writings pour a deadly poison into every breast and heart. Against these the Lord cries out, and reins back and recalls his wandering people, saying, "Hearken not unto the words of the prophets which prophesy falsely, for the vision of their heart maketh them vain. They speak, but not from the mouth of the Lord; they say to those who cast away the word of God, there shall be peace unto you; and to all that walk in their own pleasures, every one who walketh in the error of his own heart, evil shall not come upon him. I have not spoken unto them, and they have of their own selves prophesied; if they had stood in me, and had heard my words, and had taught my people, I would have converted them from their evil thoughts." These same persons the Lord again designates and denotes, saying, "They have deserted me, the fountain of living water, and have made for themselves broken cisterns, "which cannot hold water." There can be but one true Baptism; and yet they think they can baptize. They desert the fountain of life, yet hold out the gift of a living and health-giving water. Men are not cleansed by them, but rather are made filthy: their sins are not wiped away, but verily are heaped up. They are born, not the sons of God, but sons of Satan: they are gendered of perfidy, they have lost the gift of faith, they cannot arrive unto the reward of peace, for they have destroyed the peace of the Lord by discord and fury.




8.

Conventicles have no claim to Christ's promised favours.

Let no man deceive himself by a mistaken interpretation of the Lord's words, "wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, I am with them." Those who corrupt and falsely interpret the Scriptures, state the latter part of the passage, and omit the former: they attend to one part, and the other they artfully suppress. As themselves are separated from the Church, so do they sunder the purport of a passage which should be undivided. For the Lord, in urging his disciples to maintain unanimity and peace, saith, "I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth, touching anything which ye shall ask, it shall be given you by my Father which is in heaven. For wheresoever two or three shall be gathered together in my name, I am with them." Showing that a value is put, not on the number of those who pray, but on their unanimity; "If" He saith, "two of you on earth shall agree together." Unanimity is put first: a peaceful agreement is the previous premise; He faithfully and firmly teaches, that we must agree together. Yet how can any individual be said to agree with another, when he does not agree with the great body and general brotherhood of the Church? How can two or three be gathered together in Christ's name, when they are beyond question separated from Christ, and from His Gospel? We do not leave them, but they leave us: and inasmuch as heresies and schisms are naturally gendered of persons forming for themselves separate places of meeting, they are therefore deserters from the source and origin of truth. But the Lord speaks of His Church, and says, in reference to those who are in the Church, that if they be of one mind, if, in the words of his mandate and lesson, but two or three of them gather together and offer up the prayer of one heart, two or three though they be, they will be enabled to receive from the Divine Majesty whatever they pray for. "Wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, I," saith He, "am with them,"—that is, with the single-hearted and peaceful, those who fear God, and keep his commandments. With them, He says that He is, though they be but two or three. So was He, with the three children in the burning fiery furnace: and because they had a single heart for God, and stood in concord together. He poured breezy dews over them, enveloped as they were by the surrounding flames. So also with the two Apostles who were shut in prison, because they were of one mind and one spirit, He was present: and drawing back the bolts of their cell, led them again into the market-place of the city, that they might make known to the multitude, that word which they faithfully preached. When therefore He lays it down in His commandment, and says, "when two or three are gathered together in my name, I am with them," He divides not men from the Church, Himself its Author and Maker, but reproaching the faithless with their discord, and in expressive terms commending peace to the faithful. He shows that He is more present with two or three that pray with one heart, than with many persons nor agreeing together: and that more may be gained by the united request of a few, than from the prayers of many where discord is among them. It is hence that when He gave rules for prayer He added, "when ye stand and pray, forgive whatever ye have against another, that your Father also who is in Heaven may forgive you your sins." And any who comes with a quarrel to the sacrifice, he calls back from the altar, and tells him first to agree with his brother, and then return in peace, and present his oblation to God: for neither had God respect unto Cain's sacrifice; for he could not have God at peace with him, who through envy and discord was not at peace with his brother.


9.

Schism is not expiated by Martyrdom.

What prospect then of peace have they, who are foes to the brethren? What sacrifice do they think they celebrate, when they become rivals of the priesthood? When gathered together beyond the pale of the Church, do they still believe that Christ is in the midst of them? Though men like these were killed in the profession of their faith, not even by their blood would their spot be washed out. The offence of discord is a weighty offence; it includes no expiation, and is absolved by no sufferings. He cannot be a Martyr, who is not in the Church; he cannot attain unto the kingdom who leaveth her to whom the kingdom shall be given. Christ gave us peace. He told us to be of one heart and one mind: He directed that the alliance of affection and endearment should be preserved unbroken and inviolate; so that those who do not maintain the love of brethren, can lay no claim to the honours of martyrdom. The Apostle Paul supports this position by the language he has used: "and though I have faith so that I can remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing: and though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity is of lofty spirit, charity is kind, charity envieth not, charity acteth not amiss, is not puffed up, is not angered, thinketh no evil, is content with all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things; charity never faileth." "Charity," he saith, "never faileth." For it will continue to reign for ever, presenting an eternal centre of union to the brotherhood that circles around it. Into the kingdom of Heaven discord can never enter. It meets with no reward from that Saviour who said, "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you." He cannot belong to Christ, who violates the love of Christ by faithless dissensions. He who liveth not in charity liveth not in God. It is the word of John, the blessed Apostle: "God," saith he, "is love: and he who dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." They cannot remain with God, who will not remain with one heart in God's Church. Though they be cast to the flame and to the fire to be burnt, or lay down their lives by being a prey to wild beasts, they will gain, not the crown of faith, but the penalty of perfidy;—their end, not the glorious consummation of religious excellence, but the death-blow of despair. Such men may attain unto death, but never can attain unto the crown.


(To be concluded.)


Oxford,
The Feast of St. John the Evangelist.



These Tracts are published Monthly, and sold at the price of 2d. for each sheet, or 7s. for 50 copies.

LONDON: PRINTED FOR J. G. & F. RIVINGTON,
ST. PAUL'S CHURCH YARD, AND WATERLOO PLACE.

1835.


Gilbert & Rivington, Printers, St. John's Square, London.
[Price 1d.
(Ad Populum.)


TRACTS FOR THE TIMES.




RECORDS OF THE CHURCH.

No. XXI.




THE HOLY CHURCH THROUGHOUT ALL THE WORLD DOTH ACKNOWLEDGE THEE.


St. Cyprian on the Unity of the Church, (concluded.)




10.

False prophets have been foretold.

They profess themselves Christians after the manner in which the Devil puts on Christ: as the Lord Himself forewarns us, and says, "Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ." As he is not Christ, though he deceives men with His name, so neither can that man be called a Christian, who does not stand in the truth of Christ's Gospel and in faith. To prophesy, to cast out devils, to show great signs on earth, is a high and wonderful thing: yet the man that does these things, possesses not the kingdom of heaven, unless he walk in observance of the strait and right way. The Lord hath uttered this denunciation. "Many shall say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name cast out Devils, and in Thy name done great wonders: and then will I say unto them, I never knew you: Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity." Righteousness is the thing needful, before we can gain the favour of God our Judge. We must obey His commands and warnings, that we may be found meet for our reward. When the Lord in the Gospel would point out with a compendious brevity the path of our hope and faith, He says, "the Lord thy God is One: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." He teaches, according to His office, unity and love. In two commandments he includes all the law and the prophets. But what unity does he keep, what love does he maintain, or have a thought for, who in the mad heat of discord sunders the Church, pulls down its faith, confounds its peace, scatters its love, and profanes its sacraments?




11.

Apostacy in the last times.

Long ago, my beloved brethren, this calamity arose; but the odious pestilence has now advanced in magnitude, and the poisonous mortality of heretical perverseness and schism has begun to stretch upward, and put out its luxuriance. Thus it was to be in the latter days of the world, for the Holy Spirit so prophesied and forewarned us by the Apostle. "In the last days," saith He, "troublous days shall come, and men shall be lovers of their ownselves, proud, boasters, covetous, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, impious, without natural affection, trucebreakers, traitors, heady, swollen with stupidity, loving pleasures more than God, having the form of godliness, but denying its power. Of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts; ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jamnes and Mambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning faith, yet shall they not much prevail; for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their's also was." All that was predicted, is fulfilled; and now that the last days are arrived, the trial of our faith, in respect both of men and times, is come upon us. As the fury of our adversary increases, error deceives, ignorance exalts, envy inflames, cupidity blinds, impiety depraves, pride inflates, discord exasperates, and anger hurries men along. Let not, however, this gross and unexpected unbelief of the many move or disturb us: rather let our faith be confirmed through the confidence created by its being announced beforehand. In the same way as some have begun to be of this character, because it was before predicted, so let the other brethren be on their guard against these men; for this too is predicted, the Lord having prepared us by saying, "but be ye on your guard; behold I have told you all, before it come to pass." I entreat you to avoid such men, and drive off their pernicious converse from beside you, and from your hearing, as though it were a mortal pestilence. As it is written, "hedge thine ears with thorns, and be unwilling to hear a wicked tongue." And again, "evil communications corrupt good manners." The Lord teaches and admonishes us to retire from such men. He speaks of the blind leading the blind; if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. That man ought to be avoided and exiled from our society, who is separated from the Church. Such a man is perverse, and a sinner, and condemns himself. Does the man think himself with Christ, who strives against the Christian priesthood, and separates himself from the converse of Christ's clergy and people? He is bearing arms' against the Church; he is fighting against God's ordinances, a foe to the altar, a rebel against Christ's sacrifice, for honour faithless, for religion sacrilegious, a servant without obedience, a son without piety, a brother without love, setting at naught the Bishops, and despising the Priests of his God, he audaciously builds another altar, offers up the unhallowed accents of a separate prayer, and profanes with false sacrifices the truth of the Dominical victim. He is not permitted to be wiser, since he who strives against the ordinances of God is punished for his temerity and daring by divine reprehension.




12.

Korah, Dathan, and Abiram are a warning to us.

Thus Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who endeavoured to assume to themselves a licence, to sacrifice in opposition to Moses, and Aaron the priest, forthwith paid the penalty of their attempts. The earth burst its fastenings, and opened the depth of its bosom, and while they stood erect and alive, they were swallowed up by the parting gulph. And not only were the leaders smitten with the anger of an indignant God, but two hundred and fifty besides, who were partakers and associates in the same mad undertaking, and had gathered together with these in the same daring spirit, were with speedy vengeance consumed by the fire that went forth from the Lord: warning men, and proving to them, that whatsoever bad men, by human will, attempt for the overthrow of God's ordinances, is done contrary to God's will. Thus also Azias the king, when he took the censer, and violently took upon him to sacrifice, in opposition to the law of God, and on Azarias the priest resisting, refused to be obedient and give way, confounded by the Divine anger, was marked by the Spot of leprosy upon his forehead; on that part of his body marked by his offended Lord, on which they are marked who have found favour in His sight. The sons also of Aaron, who placed strange fire on the altar, which the Lord had not commanded, were at once consumed by an avenging God. Now all these have their sect and followers in them, who despise the tradition of God, and follow after strange doctrines, clothing themselves with the institutions of man's device; these the Lord reproaches and upbraids in His Gospel, saying, "Ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may establish your own tradition."




13.

Schismatising is more heinous than lapsing, and nullifies confessorship.

This crime is worse than that which backsliders appear to commit; and these indeed, when they revert to a state of penitence, deprecate God's wrath by the necessary course. In their case the Church is considered and appealed to; in the other it is opposed. In the former instance there may have been a force introduced; in the latter free-will forms a proportion of the sin in question. The backslider injures only himself; but whoever attempts the commission of heresy and schism, betrays many by drawing them after him. In the one case, one soul is brought to fall; in the other very many are in jeopardy. The backslider is undoubtedly aware of his transgression, and laments and mourns it; the other, inflated, though guilty, and finding complacency in his sins, separates sons from their mother, entices the sheep from the shepherd, and disturbs the sacraments of God. Moreover the sin of the backslider is single, while the heretic's is reiterated day by day; and lastly, the backslider, if he afterward attain unto martyrdom, may receive the promises of the kingdom; but the other, if put to death beyond the limits of the Church, has no title to the rewards which to the Church belong.

And let no man wonder, my beloved brethren, that certain Confessors also adventure thus far, and thereby draw others into enormities, so unspeakably great. For neither does martyrdom involve a security from the crafts of the Devil, or offer a perpetual immunity to men, while yet they remain in this world, against the world's temptations, dangers, assaults, and attacks. Were it so, we should never witness in confessors those instances of fraud, fornication, and adultery, over which we now groan and grieve. Be a confessor who he may, he is neither a greater nor a better man than Solomon, nor one more dear to God. As long as Solomon walked in the ways of the Lord, so long he retained that grace which God had given him: when he deserted the way of the Lord, he lost also the grace of God, according to that which is written, "and the Lord raised up Satan against Solomon." Therefore also it is written, "keep what thou hast, lest another receive thy crown." Surely God had not threatened that the crown of righteousness should be taken away, unless, when righteousness ceases, the crown must cease also. Confession opens an access to glory, but in itself merits not the crown. It does not perfect praise, but opens the way to a good degree. And since it is written, "whosoever perseveres unto the end, he shall be saved," all that occurs before the end, is the step whereby we mount to the height of salvation, not the end of the course, at which the summit of the pinnacle is attained. Is any a confessor? His danger after a confession is greater, because the adversary is more provoked. Is he a confessor? He ought for that very reason to stand by the Gospel of the Lord, having through the Gospel attained unto the Lord's glory. For the Lord says, "to whom much is given, of him shall much be required," the proportion of obedience required is measured by the degree of dignity conceded. May none ever perish through the example of a confessor! May no man learn injustice, insolence, or perfidy, from a confessor's conduct! Is any a confessor? Let him be humble and peaceful: let him be modest and disciplined in all he does. As one who is entitled a confessor of Christ, let him imitate that Christ, whom he confesses. For whereas He saith, "he who exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he who humbleth himself shall be exalted;" and whereas He was himself exalted by the Father, because on earth he humbled himself, as the Word, the Power, the Wisdom of God the Father, how can He show favour to exaltation, who has at once recommended us in his commandment to be humble, and has received from the Father, in recompense of his humiliation, a name that is above every name? Is any a confessor of Christ? it is only if the majesty and dignity of Christ be not evil spoken of through him. Let not the tongue that confesses Christ speak evil: let it not be found turbulent, or allow the language of reproach and discord to be heard from it. Let it not, after rightly speaking, hurl poison of the serpent against the brethren and priests of God. But if a man afterwards become guilty and hateful, if he betrays his profession by evil conversation, and dishonours his life by baseness and profligacy; if, lastly, after being a confessor he becomes a deserter from the Church, sunders the concord of unity, and exchanges what was faith before for unbelief afterwards, he cannot flatter himself that by confession he is elected to the reward of glory, since from this very cause have penalties more condign ensued; for the Lord elected Judas among His Apostles, and yet Judas afterwards betrayed his Lord.

The faith and firmness of the Apostles did not fail in consequence of the secession from their society of Judas the betrayer; nor is the sanctity and dignity of the confessors necessarily impaired, because certain of them break the faith. The blessed Apostle in his Epistle thus speaks: "For what if certain of them fell from the faith, does their faithlessness bring to nought the faithfulness of God? God forbid, God is "true, though every man be a liar." The greater and better portion of the confessors stand firm in the strength of its faith, and in the law and teaching of the Lord. Those who feel that God has in the Church thought them worthy to find grace, do not retire from the peace of the Church: but from this very cause the title of their faith becomes more illustrious, because withdrawing from the perfidy of those who had been associated in the fellowship of their profession, they have come out from the contagion of guilt, and being illumined by the true light of the Gospel, and irradiated with pure and spotless lustre from the Lord, their glory is as great in preserving the peace of Christ, as had been their triumph when they fought against Satan.




14.

The duty of withdrawing from Schismatics.

It is my desire, most beloved brethren, and likewise I advise and exhort you, that if it be possible, no brother perish, and that our joyful mother may embrace in her bosom the undivided assemblage of her consenting congregation. But if wholesome counsel is unable to recall to the way of salvation certain leaders of schism and authors of dissension, who stand fast in blind and reckless madness, yet let those others among you, who are either betrayed by simpleness or seduced by error, or deceived by the artifices of some treacherous deception, withdraw from the snares of falsehood, free your wandering steps from error, and recognise the strait path which leads to heaven. These are the words of the Apostle's exhortation: "We command you," saith he, "by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from all brethren that walk inordinately, and not according to that tradition which they have received from us." And again he says, "let no man deceive you by vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye partakers with them." We must remove ourselves from them that walk aside: in any event we must avoid them, lest while joining those who walk wrongly, and treading in the paths of error and guilt, any man go aside from the way of truth, and become entangled in their guilt. There is one God, there is one Christ, one Church which is His, one faith, one people, conjoined by the bond of concord in the solid unity of one body. The unity cannot be sundered, the individual body cannot be separated by the dissolution of its joints, or be torn in pieces by the rending of its scattered elements. Whatsoever cometh forth from the womb cannot live and breathe in separate portions: it loses the source of existence. The Holy Spirit warns us and says, "What man is there who wishes to live, and would fain see good days? Refrain thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile. Eschew evil and do good; seek peace and ensue it." The son of peace ought to seek and to pursue peace; and to refrain his tongue from the calamity of dissension; if he has felt and loves the bond of charity. Among His divine mandates and salutary lessons, our Lord when nigh to His passion, added this one: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you." This inheritance Christ to us hath given. All the gifts He outholds and the rewards he promises are involved in the preservation of peace. If we are heirs of Christ, let us continue in Christ's peace. If we are the sons of God, we ought to be peaceable. "Blessed," saith He, "are the peaceable, for they shall be called the sons of God." Need is that the sons of God should be peaceable, mild in heart, simple in language, united in affection, faithfully attached each to the other by the bonds of unanimity. This unanimity once existed under the Apostles: so that the new assemblage of believers kept the Lord's commandment and maintained its charity. Holy Scripture saith in proof, "the multitude of them that believed acted with one heart and soul." And again, "and they all continued with one heart in communion with the women, and with Mary the mother of Christ, and with His brethren." And therefore they prayed effectually, and were with confidence enabled to obtain whatsoever they required of their Lord's mercy.


15.

Suddenness of Christ's coming.

Among us, however, there is as great a defect of unanimity, as there is a falling of in works of charity. Men in those days gave houses and lands for sale, and laying up for themselves treasure in heaven, presented the price to the Apostles, for distribution among the necessitous. But now we do not even give tithes of our estates, and while the Lord saith "sell," we rather buy and gather up. Thus is it that the power of faith languishes, and the believer's strength sinks: and therefore the Lord, in respect of this our age, saith in His Gospel, "When the Son of man cometh, think you that He will find faith on the earth?" We see that done, which He predicted. In the fear of God, in the law of righteousness, in love, in works, faith is not. No man, in fear of the future, takes thought for the day of the Lord, and the anger of God; and no man contemplates the punishment which is to come on unbelievers, and the eternal torments decreed to the faithless. That which our conscience would fear if it believed, because it believes not it does not fear; if it believed, it would become cautious; if made cautious, it would escape. Let us awake, my beloved brethren, as far as we can; let us break through the slumbers of our former sloth, and rise up to observe and perform the commandments of our Lord. Let us be such as He bade us to be; "let your loins be girded, and your lamps burning, and be ye like unto men who await their Lord, when he cometh from the marriage, that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him: blessed are those servants, whom their Lord when he cometh shall find watching." We must gird ourselves up, lest when the day of haste cometh, he find us hindered and impeded. Let our light shine in good works, let it so beam, as to lead us on from the night of this world to the splendours of eternal glory. Let us be always anxiously and cautiously on the wait for the sudden coming of our Lord, that when He knocketh our faith may be found watching, and may receive the reward of vigilance from the Lord. If these commandments are kept, and these warnings and lessons maintained, it will not be for us to slumber, and so be subdued by the wiles of Satan, but we shall reign in the kingdom of Christ, as servants that have been found watching.


ST. CYPRIAN'S ACCOUNT OF HIS BAPTISM.


(From his Treatise on the Grace of God, addressed to Donatus.)


For me, while I yet lay in darkness and bewildering night, and was tossed to and fro on the billows of this troublesome world, ignorant of my true life, an outcast from light and truth, I used to think that second birth, which Divine Mercy promised for my salvation, a hard saying according to the life I then led; as if a man could be so quickened to a new life in the laver of healing water, as to put off his natural self, and keep his former tabernacle, yet be changed in heart and soul! How is it possible, said I, for so great a conversion to be accomplished, so that both the obstinate defilement of our natural substance, and old and ingrained habits should suddenly and rapidly be put off,—evils, whose roots are deeply seated within?

Such were my frequent musings;—for whereas I was encumbered with the many sins of my past life, which it seemed impossible to be rid of, so I had used myself to give way to my clinging infirmities, and from despair of better things, to humour the evils of my heart as slaves born in my house and my proper offspring. But, after that life-giving water succoured me, washing away the stain of former years, and pouring into my cleansed and hallowed breast the light which comes from heaven, after that I drank in the Heavenly Spirit, and was created into a new man by a second birth,—then marvellously, what before was doubtful forthwith became plain to me,—what was hidden was revealed,—what was dark began to shine,—what was before difficult now had a way and means,—what had seemed impossible now could be achieved,—what was in me of the guilty flesh now confessed that it was earthy,—what was quickened in me by the Holy Ghost now had a growth according to God. Thou knowest, O my friend, thou knowest, thou canst recollect as well as I, what was then taken from me, and what was given by that death of sin, that quickening power of holiness!


Oxford,
The Feast of St. Matthias.



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