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the annals of the church, did not unite christian professors in love. One hence sees the necessity for so severe a scourge to the church, and the advantages thence accruing to the real faithful; either by happily removing them to rest, out of a world of sin and vanity, or by promoting their sanctification, if their pilgrimage be prolonged.

Novatus, either unwilling to face the bishop of Carthage, or desirous to extend the mischiefs of schism, passed the sea and came to Rome. There he separated from the church a priest named Novarian, a friend of the confeffor Moyses, whose sufferings at Rome were of a tedious nature. Moyses renounced his acquaintance on this, and died soon after in prison, where he had been near a year. He entered into full peace at length, having left the evidence of modesty and peaceableness in addition to his other more splendid virtues, as testimonies of his love to the Lord Jesus.

Novatus found the ideas of his new partner in religion placed in an extreme opposite to his own. Novatian had been a stoic before he was a chris Atian, and he still retained the rigour of the sect to such a degree, that he held it wrong to receive those into the church who once had lapsed, though they gave the sincerest marks of repentance. Full of these unwarranted severities, he exclaimed against the unreasonable lenity of the Roman clergy in receiving penitents. Many of the clergy of Rome, who were still in prison for the faith, were seduced by his apparent zeal for churchdiscipline, among others Maximus and others to whom Cyprian had formerly written. These joined Novatian. His African tutor, with aftonishing inconsistency, after having itirred up a general indignation in Africa against the bishop for severity to the lapsed, now supported a party


who complained of too much lenicy at Rome, and defended two extremes, it is hard to say which is the worse, with equal pertinacity within the compass of two years.

The Roman clergy thought it high time to stem the torrent. They had for fixteen months * with singular piety and fortitude governed the church during one of its most stormy seasons. . Schism was now added to persecution; to be chosen bishop of Rome was plainly for a man to expose himself to martyrdom; for Decius threatened bishops with great haughtiness and asperity. Sixteeen bishops happening to be then at Rome, ordained Cornelius as the succeffor of Fabian. He was very unwilling to accept of the office; but the election of a bishop to withstand the growing schism appeared necesary, and the people who were present ap- . proved of his ordination.

Novatian procured himself to be ordained bishop, in opposition, in a very irregular manner , and vented calumnies against Cornelius, whole life appears to have been worthy of the gospel.

Thus was formed the first body of christians, who, in modern language, ought to be called Dissenters, that is, men who separate from the general church, not on grounds of doctrine, but of discipline. The Novatianists held no opinions contrary to the faith of the gospel. It is certain, from fome writings of Novatian extant, 's that their leader was found in the doctrine of the Trinity. But the confessors, whom his preter.sions to superior $ purity had seduced, returned afterwards to


* Fleury, B. 6. I See in Eufebius, B. 6, Cornelias's letter concerning Novatiana whom Eusebius confounds with Noratus by mistake. +-Sue Waterland's Importance of the Trinity,

§ Epif. 48 and 49.

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the communion of Cornelius, and wept over theit own credulity. In a letter of Cornelius to Fabius, bishop of Antioch, we have occasionally the menu tion of a few circumstances which may give ant idea of the church of Rome at that time. There were under the bifhop forty-six priests, feven deacons, seven sub-deacons, forty-cwo acolyths, fifty-two exorcists, and readers with porters, widows, and impotent persons, above 1950 fouls.

The number of the laity was, fays he, innu. merable. I don't know so authentic a memorial of the numbers of the christians in those times. In his letter he charges Novatian, perhaps without fufficient Warrant, with having denied himself to be a priest during the heat of the perfecution, and with obliging his fepararifts, when he administered to thein the Lord's fupper, to fwear to adhere to him. He was daily more and more forsaken, and the party at Rome loft ground. In Africa, whither Novatus returned, the party held up its head, and ordained Nicoltratus the deacon, the only person of note, who was seduced at Rome by Novatian, and who refused to return to communion with Cornelius. Conscious of scandalous crimes I, he Aed from Rome and became bishop of the Novatians in Africa.

It would not have been worth while to have detailed chefe events thus diftinctly, bue to mark the syniptoms of declension in the church, the unity of which was now broken for the first time; for ic ought not to be thought that all the Novacians were men-void of the faith and love of Jesus. The artifices of Satan also, in pushing forward opposite extreines, are worthy of notice. He tried bosh the lax and the severe method in pome of


discipline. About the middle of the third century. The Novatians called themfelves Cathari, pure people,

discipline. The former he finds more suitable to the state of christianity among us. But it could gain no folid footing in the third century. The Novatian schism stood at last on the ground of excessive severity, a certain proof of the strictness of discipline then fashionable among christians, and Golf course of great purity of life and doctrine haying been prevalent among them; but to refuse the re-admission of penitents was a dangerous instance of pharifaical pride, though in justice to Novatian it ought to be mentioned that he advised the exhorting of the lapsed to repentance, and then leaving them to the judgment of God. But extreme austerity and superstition were now growing evils, and cherished by false philosophy. On the same plan Novatian also condemned second marriages.

At length Cyprian ventured out of his retreat and returned to Carthage. In what manner he there conducted himself shall be the subject of the next chapter.

CH A P. X.




THE prudence of Cyprian had been so re

markable tion of Decius, that we may fairly conclude he had ceased to apprehend any personal danger when he appeared again in public at Carthage. In fact, it was not the cessation of malice, but


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the distraction of public affairs, which put an end to the persecution. Decius, on account of the incursion of the Goths, was obliged to leave Rome; and God gave a breathing-time to his servants, while men of the world were wholly taken up with resisting or mourning under their calamities. After Eafter a council was held at Carthage, and the eyes of Christians were turned toward it, in expectation of some fettlement of the very confused ftate of the church under the auspices of Cyprian and the other bishops of Africa. There at first, for want of exact information of circumstances, foine delay was made before Cornelius was owned as legitimate bishop of Rome. But when the truth of things was laid 'open, 'the regularity of his appointment and the violation of order in the schismatical ordination of Novatian, by fome perfons who were in a state of intoxication *, there was no room to hesitate. Novatian was rejected in the African fynod, and Felicisfimus, with his five presbyters, was condemned. And now the cafe of the Japfed, which had given fo much disquietude, and which Cyprian had so often promited to settle in full council, was 'finally determined, and with men who feared. God it was no hard thing to adjust a due medium. A proper temperature was ufed between the precipitation of the lapsed and the stoical severity of Novatian. Hence penitents were restored, and the case of dubious characters was deferred, and yet every method of christian charity was used to facilitate their restoration.

Fortunatus preferved ftill a fchifmatical affembly. But both his bishop and his flock.fhrunk foon into insignificance. The christian authority of Cyprian was restored. The Novatian party Cc2

alone See Cornelius's letter in Euseb,

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