« PreviousContinue »
night and day for all men, and even for the einperors.” “ You shall die the death of a malefactor, if you persevere in this inclination. *"
- That is a good inclination which fears God," answered Cyprian, " and therefore must not be changed." “ You must then, by the will of the princes, be banished.” “ He is no exile,” it was replied, “ who has God in his heart, for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.” Paternus said, “ Before you go, tell me where are your presbyters, who are said to be in this city ?" With much presence of mind Cyprian reminded him of the edicts made by the best Roman princes against the practice of informers: “ They ought not therefore to be discovered by me, but you may find them, and you yourselves do not approve of men offering themselves voluntarily to you." - I will make you discover them by torments.” “By me,
” the intrepid bishop rejoined, “ they shall not be discovered." “ Our princes have ordered that christians hold no conventicles, and whoever breaks this rule shall be put to death.”
" Do what you are ordered,” Cyprian calmly replied.
Paternus however was not disposed to hurt Cyprian. Most probably he respected the character of the man, which by this time must have been highly esteemed, through a shining series of good works in Africa. Having made some ineffectual attempts to work on his fears, he sent him into banishment to Curubis, a little town fifty miles from Carthage, situate by the sea, over against Sicily. The place was healthy, the air good, and by his own desire he had private lodg. ings. The citizens of Curubis, during the eleven months which he lived among them, treated him with great kindness, and he was repeatedly visited
by * The passion of Cyprian in Pam, Edit.---Fleury's Hift. B. 7
by christians. Here he served his Divine Master in good works, and Paternus in the interim died.
While he was here he heard that the persecutors had seized nine bishops, with several priests and deacons and a great number of the faithful, even virgins and children, and after beating them with sticks, had sent them to work in the copper-mines in the mountains. Every one of these bishops had been present at the last council of Carthage, and their names were Nemesius, Felix, Lucius, a fecond Felix, Litteus, Polus, Victor, Jader, and Dativus. I cannot account for the better treatment which Cyprian received from the Roman governors in any other way than by the respect that was paid to his superior quality, labours, and virtues. Be that as it may, Providence favoured him in a peculiar manner. But his sympathizing fpirit could not but be with his brethren; and what he felt, and how he thought, see expressed in a letter to Nemesian and the rest.
“ Your glory required, blessed and beloved brethren, that I ought to come and embrace you, were it not that the confeffion of the same name has confined me also to this place : but I exhibit myself to you as well as I can, and if it is forbidden me to come to you in body, yet I come in spirit and affection, expressing my soul in letters, how I exult in your honours, reckoning myself a partner with you, though not in suffering, yet in the fellowship of love. How can I hold my peace, when I know fuch glorious things of my dearest brethren, with which the Divine appointment hath honoured you; part
of you having already been consummated in martyrdom, who will receive a crown of righteousness from the Lord, and the rest as yet in prisons, or in mines, and bonds, exhibiting by the tediousness of punishment greater argu
ments to arm and strengthen the brethren, by the retardation of torments advancing to a higher proficiency in christian glory, and lure to receive in heaven according to their sufferings.
In truth, that the Lord has thus honoured you affords me no surprize when I consider the blameless course of your faith in the church, your firm adherence to the Divine ordinance, your integrity, concord, humility, diligence, mercy in cherishing the poor, conftancy in defence of the truth, and stricīness of christian discipline; and that nothing might be wanting in you as patterns of good works even now in the confession of your voice, and in the sufferings of the body, you ftir minds of the brethren to divine martyrdom, by exhibiting yourselves as leaders of goodness, so that while the flock follow their pastor and imitate their presidents, they may be crowned in like manner by the Lord. That you have been grievously beaten by clubs, and have been initiated by that punishment in christian confession, is a thing not to be lamented. The body of a christian trembles not on account of clubs, all whose hope is in wood*. The servant of Christ acknowledges the emblem of his salvation ; redeemed by wood to eternal life, by wood he is advanced to the crown. O feet, embarrassed with fetters indeed, but quickly about to run to Christ in a glorious course! Let malice and cruelty fetter you as they please, quickly you will come from earth and it's sorrows to the kingdom of heaven. In those mines che body is not refreshed by a bed, but Christ is
Lorre ris nii obferve, that the Want of a juil clullical talte, in comparton ornitorilie Algultan age, and the excess of false rhe, local obraments, every where appear in Cyprian. This was the popr?!" 1.10? Os deman, but of the rinies, and the meanness of the jun in the place will be forgiven by all who relish the preciousnefs of the do&rine coDOCA with it,
its consolation and rest; your limbs, fatigued with labours, lie on the ground; but to lie down with Christ is no punishment. Filth and dirt defile your limbs, void of the cleansing bath ; but you are inwardly washed from all uncleanness. Your allowance of bread is but scanty; but man doch not live by bread alone, but by the word of God. You have no proper clothes to fence you from the cold; but he who has put on Christ is clothed abundantly."
He afterwards comforts them by suitable argumenes, under the lofs of means of grace and public worship, and speaks of the Lord as rewarding what he himself hath performed in us. " For it is of him that we conquer; it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speakerh in you.” He shews hence the great fin of unbelief in not trusting him who promises his aid to those who confess him, and in not fearing him who threatens eternal punishment to those who deny him. In conclusion he begs their earnest prayers, that he and they may be freed from the snares and darkness of the world, that those who in the bond of love and peace had stood together against the injuries of heretics and the pressures of the heathen, might together rejoice in celestial manfions *.
Nemesian and the other bishops - returned him an answer full of affection and gratitude, from three different places in which they were confined, in which they acknowledge the pecuniary assistance which Cyprian fent thein. He wrote also to Rogatian the younger, and other confessors who were in prison, most probably at Carthage, ani. mating them in his usual manner " to spurn prefent punishment through the hope of future joys."
He speaks with much pleasure also of fome women and boys who were partners of their sufferings. He recommends to them the example of the elder Rogatian and the ever-quiet and sober Feliciffimus, who had confummated their martyrdom already.
In the year two hundred and fixty Cyprian returning from exile by permission, lived in a garden near Carchage, which was now providentially reftored to him, though he had fold it at his first conversion. His liberal spirit would have inclined him once more to sell it for the relief of the needy, had he not feared to attract the envy of the persecutors. Here he regulated the affairs of the church and distributed to the poor what he had left. Here he understood that the persecution, after a little interval, was broken out afresh, and hearing various reports, he sent fome to Rome to gain certain information. From these he learni, what he immediately communicated to the brethren I, that Valerian had given orders that bishops, presbyters, and deacons should be put to death without delay; that senators, noblemen, and knights should be degraded and deprived of their property, and if they still perfifted to be christians, Ihould lose their lives; that women of quality should be deprived of their property and banished; that all Calar's freedmen who should have confessed, should be stripped of their goods, chained and sent to work on his estates. These were Va. lerian's orders to the senate, and thus he wrote to the governors of provinces : “ These letters we daily expect to arrive, standing in the firmnets of faith, in patient expectation of luffering, and hoping from the Lord's help and kindness, che Hh
crown * I suppose he thus diftinguishes him from the factious FelicifCumus, Epif. 83.
I Epif. 82.