[Footnote 191: Cyprian plainly asserts (ep. 3. 3): "haec sunt initia haereticorum et ortus adque conatus schismaticorum, ut praepositum superbo tumore contemnant" (as to the early history of this conception, which undoubtedly has a basis of truth, see Clem., ep. ad Cor. 1. 44; Ignat.; Hegesippus in Euseb., H. E. IV. 22. 5; Tertull., adv. Valent. 4; de bapt. 17; Anonymus in Euseb; H. E. V. 16. 7; Hippolyt. ad. Epiphan. H. 42. 1; Anonymus in Eusebius, H. E. V. 28. 12; according to Cyprian it is quite the common one); see further ep. 59. 3: "neque enim aliunde haereses obortae sunt aut nata sunt schismata, quam quando sacerdoti dei non obtemperatur;" epp. 66. 5: 69. 1: "item b. apostolus Johannes nec ipse ullam haeresin aut schisma discrevit aut aliquos speciatim separes posuit"; 52. 1: 73. 2: 74. 11. Schism and heresy are always identical.]
[Footnote 192: Neither Optatus nor Augustine take Cyprian's theory as the starting-point of their disquisitions, but they adhere in principle to the distinction between heretic and schismatic. Cyprian was compelled by his special circumstances to identify them, but he united this identification with the greatest liberality of view as to the conditions of ecclesiastical unity (as regards individual bishops). Cyprian did not make a single new article an "articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae." In fact he ultimately declared—and this may have cost him struggle enough—that even the question of the validity of heretical baptism was not a question of faith.]
CONTINUATION. THE OLD CHRISTIANITY AND THE NEW CHURCH.
1. The legal and political forms by which the Church secured herself against the secular power and heresy, and still more the lower moral standard exacted from her members in consequence of the naturalisation of Christianity in the world, called forth a reaction soon after the middle of the second century. This movement, which first began in Asia Minor and then spread into other regions of Christendom, aimed at preserving or restoring the old feelings and conditions, and preventing Christendom from being secularised. This crisis (the so called Montanist struggle) and the kindred one which succeeded produced the following results: The Church merely regarded herself all the more strictly as a legal community basing the truth of its title on its historic and objective foundations, and gave a correspondingly new interpretation to the attribute of holiness she claimed. She expressly recognised two distinct classes in her midst, a spiritual and a secular, as well as a double standard of morality. Moreover, she renounced her character as the communion of those who were sure of salvation, and substituted the claim to be an educational institution and a necessary condition of redemption. After a keen struggle, in which the New Testament did excellent service to the bishops, the Church expelled the Cataphrygian fanatics and the adherents of the new prophecy (between 180 and 220); and in the same way, during the course of the third century, she caused the secession of all those Christians who made the truth of the Church depend on a stricter administration of moral discipline. Hence, apart from the heretic and Montanist sects, there existed in the Empire, after the middle of the second century, two great but numerically unequal Church confederations, both based on the same rule of faith and claiming the title "ecclesia catholica," viz., the confederation which Constantine afterwards chose for his support, and the Novatian Catharist one. In Rome, however, the beginning of the great disruption goes back to the time of Hippolytus and Calixtus; yet the schism of Novatian must not be considered as an immediate continuation of that of Hippolytus.
2. The so-called Montanist reaction was itself subjected to a similar change, in accordance with the advancing ecclesiastical development of Christendom. It was originally the violent undertaking of a Christian prophet, Montanus, who, supported by prophetesses, felt called upon to realise the promises held forth in the Fourth Gospel. He explained these by the Apocalypse, and declared that he himself was the Paraclete whom Christ had promised—that Paraclete in whom Jesus Christ himself, nay, even God the Father Almighty, comes to his own to guide them to all truth, to gather those that are dispersed, and to bring them into one flock. His main effort therefore was to make Christians give up the local and civil relations in which they lived, to collect them, and create a new undivided Christian commonwealth, which, separated from the world, should prepare itself for the descent of the Jerusalem from above.
The natural resistance offered to the new prophets with this extravagant message—especially by the leaders of communities, and the persecutions to which the Church was soon after subjected under Marcus Aurelius, led to an intensifying of the eschatological expectations that beyond doubt had been specially keen in Montanist circles from the beginning. For the New Jerusalem was soon to come down from heaven in visible form, and establish itself in the spot which, by direction of the Spirit, had been chosen for Christendom in Phrygia. Whatever amount of peculiarity the movement lost, in so far as the ideal of an assembly of all Christians proved incapable of being realised or at least only possible within narrow limits, was abundantly restored in the last decades of the second century by the strength and courage that the news of its spread in Christendom gave to the earnest minded to unite and offer resistance to the ever increasing tendency of the Church to assume a secular and political character. Many entire communities in Phrygia and Asia recognised the divine mission of the prophets. In the Churches of other provinces religious societies were formed in which the predictions of these prophets were circulated and viewed as a Gospel, though at the same time they lost their effect by being so treated. The confessors at Lyons openly expressed their full sympathy with the movement in Asia. The bishop of Rome was on the verge of acknowledging the Montanists to be in full communion with the Church. But among themselves there was no longer, as at the beginning, any question of a new organisation in the strict sense of the word, and of a radical remodelling of Christian society. Whenever Montanism comes before us in the clear light of history it rather appears as a religious movement already deadened, though still very powerful. Montanus and his prophetesses had set no limits to their enthusiasm; nor were there as yet any fixed barriers in Christendom that could have restrained them. The Spirit, the Son, nay, the Father himself had appeared in them and spoke through them. Imagination pictured Christ bodily in female form to the eyes of Prisca. The most extravagant promises were given. These prophets spoke in a loftier tone than any Apostle ever did, and they were even bold enough to overturn apostolic regulations. They set up new commandments for the Christian life, regardless of any tradition, and they inveighed against the main body of Christendom. They not only proclaimed themselves as prophets, but as the last prophets, as notable prophets in whom was first fulfilled the promise of the sending of the Paraclete. These Christians as yet knew nothing of the "absoluteness of a historically complete revelation of Christ as the fundamental condition of Christian consciousness;" they only felt a Spirit to which they yielded unconditionally and without reserve. But, after they had quitted the scene, their followers sought and found a kind of compromise. The Montanist congregations that sought for recognition in Rome, whose part was taken by the Gallic confessors, and whose principles gained a footing in North Africa, may have stood in the same relation to the original adherents of the new prophets and to these prophets themselves, as the Mennonite communities did to the primitive Anabaptists and their empire in Muenster. The "Montanists" outside of Asia Minor acknowledged to the fullest extent the legal position of the great Church. They declared their adherence to the apostolic "regula" and the New Testament canon. The organisation of the Churches, and, above all, the position of the bishops as successors of the Apostles and guardians of doctrine were no longer disputed. The distinction between them and the main body of Christendom, from which they were unwilling to secede, was their belief in the new prophecy of Montanus, Prisca, and Maximilla, which was contained, in its final form, in written records and in this shape may have produced the same impression as is excited by the fragments of an exploded bomb.
In this new prophecy they recognised a subsequent revelation of God, which for that very reason assumed the existence of a previous one. This after-revelation professed to decide the practical questions which, at the end of the second century, were burning topics throughout all Christendom, and for which no direct divine law could hitherto be adduced, in the form of a strict injunction. Herein lay the importance of the new prophecy for its adherents in the Empire, and for this reason they believed in it. The belief in the efficacy of the Paraclete, who, in order to establish a relatively stricter standard of conduct in Christendom during the latter days, had, a few decades before, for several years given his revelations in a remote corner of the Empire, was the dregs of the original enthusiasm, the real aspect of which had been known only to the fewest. But the diluted form in which this force remained was still a mighty power, because it was just in the generation between 190 and 220 that the secularising of the Church had made the greatest strides. Though the followers of the new prophecy merely insisted on abstinence from second marriage, on stricter regulations with regard to fasts, on a stronger manifestation of the Christian spirit in daily life, in morals and customs, and finally on the full resolve not to avoid suffering and martyrdom for Christ's name's sake, but to bear them willingly and joyfully, yet, under the given circumstances, these requirements, in spite of the express repudiation of everything "Encratite," implied a demand that directly endangered the conquests already made by the Church and impeded the progress of the new propaganda. The people who put forth these demands, expressly based them on the injunctions of the Paraclete, and really lived in accordance with them, were not permanently capable of maintaining their position in the Church. In fact, the endeavour to found these demands on the legislation of the Paraclete was an undertaking quite as strange, in form and content, as the possible attempt to represent the wild utterances of determined anarchists as the programme of a constitutional government. It was of no avail that they appealed to the confirmation of the rule of faith by the Paraclete; that they demonstrated the harmlessness of the new prophecy, thereby involving themselves in contradictions; that they showed all honour to the New Testament; and that they did not insist on the oracles of the Paraclete being inserted in it. As soon as they proved the earnestness of their temperate but far-reaching demands, a deep gulf that neither side could ignore opened up between them and their opponents. Though here and there an earnest effort was made to avoid a schism, yet in a short time this became unavoidable; for variations in rules of conduct make fellowship impossible. The lax Christians, who, on the strength of their objective possession, viz., the apostolic doctrine and writings, sought to live comfortably by conforming to the ways of the world, necessarily sought to rid themselves of inconvenient societies and inconvenient monitors; and they could only do so by reproaching the latter with heresy and unchristian assumptions. Moreover, the followers of the new prophets could not permanently recognise the Churches of the "Psychical," which rejected the "Spirit" and extended their toleration so far as to retain even whoremongers and adulterers within their pale.
In the East, that is, in Asia Minor, the breach between the Montanists and the Church had in all probability broken out before the question of Church discipline and the right of the bishops had yet been clearly raised. In Rome and Carthage this question completed the rupture that had already taken place between the conventicles and the Church (de pudic. 1. 21). Here, by a peremptory edict, the bishop of Rome claimed the right of forgiving sins as successor of the Apostles; and declared that he would henceforth exercise this right in favour of repentant adulterers. Among the Montanists this claim was violently contested both in an abstract sense and in this application of it. The Spirit the Apostles had received, they said, could not be transmitted; the Spirit is given to the Church; he works in the prophets, but lastly and in the highest measure in the new prophets. The latter, however, expressly refused to readmit gross sinners, though recommending them to the grace of God (see the saying of the Paraclete, de pud. 21; "potest ecclesia donare delictum, sed non faciam"). Thus agreement was no longer possible. The bishops were determined to assert the existing claims of the Church, even at the cost of her Christian character, or to represent the constitution of the Catholic Church as the guarantee of that character. At the risk of their own claim to be Catholic, the Montanist sects resisted in order to preserve the minimum legal requirements for a Christian life. Thus the opposition culminated in an attack on the new powers claimed by the bishops, and in consequence awakened old memories as to the original state of things, when the clergy had possessed no importance. But the ultimate motive was the effort to stop the continuous secularising of the Christian life and to preserve the virginity of the Church as a holy community. In his latest writings Tertullian vigorously defended a position already lost, and carried with him to the grave the old strictness of conduct insisted on by the Church.
Had victory remained with the stricter party, which, though not invariably, appealed to the injunctions of the Paraclete, the Church would have been rent asunder and decimated. The great opportunist party, however, was in a very difficult position, since their opponents merely seemed to be acting up to a conception that, in many respects, could not be theoretically disputed. The problem was how to carry on with caution the work of naturalising Christianity in the world, and at the same time avoid all appearance of innovation which, as such, was opposed to the principle of Catholicism. The bishops therefore assailed the form of the new prophecy on the ground of innovation; they sought to throw suspicion on its content; in some cases even Chiliasm, as represented by the Montanists, was declared to have a Jewish and fleshly character. They tried to show that the moral demands of their opponents were extravagant, that they savoured of the ceremonial law (of the Jews), were opposed to Scripture, and were derived from the worship of Apis, Isis, and the mother of the Gods. To the claim of furnishing the Church with authentic oracles of God, set up by their antagonists, the bishops opposed the newly formed canon; and declared that everything binding on Christians was contained in the utterances of the Old Testament prophets and the Apostles. Finally, they began to distinguish between the standard of morality incumbent on the clergy and a different one applying to the laity, as, for instance, in the question of a single marriage; and they dwelt with increased emphasis on the glory of the heroic Christians, belonging to the great Church, who had distinguished themselves by asceticism and joyful submission to martyrdom. By these methods they brought into disrepute that which had once been dear to the whole Church, but was now of no further service. In repudiating supposed abuses they more and more weakened the regard felt for the thing itself, as, for example, in the case of the so-called Chiliasm, congregational prophecy and the spiritual independence of the laity. But none of these things could be absolutely rejected; hence, for example, Chiliasm remained virtually unweakened (though subject to limitations) in the West and certain districts of the East; whereas prophecy lost its force so much that it appeared harmless and therefore died away. However, the most effective means of legitimising the present state of things in the Church was a circumstance closely connected with the formation of a canon of early Christian writings, viz., the distinction of an epoch of revelation, along with a corresponding classical period of Christianity unattainable by later generations. This period was connected with the present by means of the New Testament and the apostolic office of the bishops. This later time was to regard the older period as an ideal, but might not dream of really attaining the same perfection, except at least through the medium of the Holy Scriptures and the apostolic office, that is, the Church. The place of the holy Christendom that had the Spirit in its midst was taken by the ecclesiastic institution possessing the "instrument of divine literature" ("instrumentum divinae litteraturae") and the spiritual office. Finally, we must mention another factor that hastened the various changes; this was the theology of the Christian philosophers, which attained importance in the Church as soon as she based her claim on and satisfied her conscience with an objective possession.
3. But there was one rule which specially impeded the naturalisation of the Church in the world and the transformation of a communion of the saved into an institution for obtaining salvation, viz., the regulation that excluded gross sinners from Christian membership. Down to the beginning of the third century, in so far as the backslider did not atone for his guilt by public confession before the authorities (see Ep. Lugd. in Euseb., H. E. V. 1 ff.), final exclusion from the Church was still the penalty of relapse into idolatry, adultery, whoredom, and murder; though at the same time the forgiveness of God in the next world was reserved for the fallen provided they remained penitent to the end. In theory indeed this rule was not very old. For the oldest period possessed no theories; and in those days Christians frequently broke through what might have been counted as one by appealing to the Spirit, who, by special announcements—particularly by the mouth of martyrs and prophets—commanded or sanctioned the readmission of lapsed members of the community (see Hermas). Still, the rule corresponded to the ancient notions that Christendom is a communion of saints, that there is no ceremony invariably capable of replacing baptism, that is, possessing the same value, and that God alone can forgive sins. The practice must on the whole have agreed with this rule; but in the course of the latter half of the second century it became an established custom, in the case of a first relapse, to allow atonement to be made once for most sins and perhaps indeed for all, on condition of public confession. For this, appeal was probably made to Hermas, who very likely owed his prestige to the service he here unwittingly rendered. We say "unwittingly," for he could scarcely have intended such an application of his precepts, though at bottom it was not directly opposed to his attitude. In point of fact, however, this practice introduced something closely approximating to a second baptism. Tertullian indeed (de paenit. 12) speaks unhesitatingly of two planks of salvation. Moreover, if we consider that in any particular case the decision as to the deadly nature of the sin in question was frequently attended with great difficulty, and certainly, as a rule, was not arrived at with rigorous exactness, we cannot fail to see that, in conceding a second expiation, the Church was beginning to abandon the old idea that Christendom was a community of saints. Nevertheless the fixed practice of refusing whoremongers, adulterers, murderers, and idolaters readmission to the Church, in ordinary cases, prevented men from forgetting that there was a boundary line dividing her from the world.
This state of matters continued till about 220. In reality the rule was first infringed by the peremptory edict of bishop Calixtus, who, in order to avoid breaking up his community, granted readmission to those who had fallen into sins of the flesh. Moreover, he claimed this power of readmission as a right appertaining to the bishops as successors of the Apostles, that is, as possessors of the Spirit and the power of the keys. At Rome this rescript led to the secession headed by Hippolytus. But, between 220 and 250, the milder practice with regard to the sins of the flesh became prevalent, though it was not yet universally accepted. This, however, resulted in no further schism (Cyp., ep. 55. 21). But up to the year 250 no concessions were allowed in the case of relapse into idolatry. These were first occasioned by the Decian persecution, since in many towns those who had abjured Christianity were more numerous than those who adhered to it. The majority of the bishops, part of them with hesitation, agreed on new principles. To begin with, permission was given to absolve repentant apostates on their deathbed. Next, a distinction was made between sacrificati and libellatici, the latter being more mildly treated. Finally, the possibility of readmission was conceded under certain severe conditions to all the lapsed, a casuistic proceeding was adopted in regard to the laity, and strict measures—though this was not the universal rule—were only adopted towards the clergy. In consequence of this innovation, which logically resulted in the gradual cessation of the belief that there can be only one repentance after baptism—an assumption that was untenable in principle—Novatian's schism took place and speedily rent the Church in twain. But, even in cases where unity was maintained, many communities observed the stricter practice down to the fifth century. What made it difficult to introduce this change by regular legislation was the authority to forgive sins in God's stead, ascribed in primitive times to the inspired, and at a later period to the confessors in virtue of their special relation to Christ or the Spirit (see Ep. Lugd. in Euseb., H. E. V. 1 ff.; Cypr. epp.; Tertull. de pudic. 22). The confusion occasioned by the confessors after the Decian persecution led to the non-recognition of any rights of "spiritual" persons other than the bishops. These confessors had frequently abetted laxity of conduct, whereas, if we consider the measure of secularisation found among the great mass of Christians, the penitential discipline insisted on by the bishops is remarkable for its comparative severity. The complete adoption of the episcopal constitution coincided with the introduction of the unlimited right to forgive sins.
4. The original conception of the relation of the Church to salvation or eternal bliss was altered by this development. According to the older notion the Church was the sure communion of salvation and of saints, which rested on the forgiveness of sins mediated by baptism, and excluded everything unholy. It is not the Church, but God alone, that forgives sins, and, as a rule, indeed, this is only done through baptism, though, in virtue of his unfathomable grace, also now and then by special proclamations, the pardon coming into effect for repentant sinners, after death, in heaven. If Christendom readmitted gross sinners, it would anticipate the judgment of God, as it would thereby assure them of salvation. Hence it can only take back those who have been excluded in cases where their offences have not been committed against God himself, but have consisted in transgressing the commandments of the Church, that is, in venial sins. But in course of time it was just in lay circles that faith in God's grace became weaker and trust in the Church stronger. He whom the Church abandoned was lost to the world; therefore she must not abandon him. This state of things was expressed in the new interpretation of the proposition, "no salvation outside the Church" ("extra ecclesiam nulla salus"), viz., the Church alone saves from damnation which is otherwise certain. In this conception the nature of the Church is depotentiated, but her powers are extended. If she is the institution which, according to Cyprian, is the indispensable preliminary condition of salvation, she can no longer be a sure communion of the saved; in other words, she becomes an institution from which proceeds the communion of saints; she includes both saved and unsaved. Thus her religious character consists in her being the indispensable medium, in so far as she alone guarantees to the individual the possibility of redemption. From this, however, it immediately follows that the Church would anticipate the judgment of God if she finally excluded anyone from her membership who did not give her up of his own accord; whereas she could never prejudge the ultimate destiny of a man by readmission. But it also follows that the Church must possess a means of repairing any injury upon earth, a means of equal value with baptism, namely, a sacrament of the forgiveness of sins. With this she acts in God's name and stead, but—and herein lies the inconsistency—she cannot by this means establish any final condition of salvation. In bestowing forgiveness on the sinner she in reality only reconciles him with herself, and thereby, in fact, merely removes the certainty of damnation. In accordance with this theory the holiness of the Church can merely consist in her possession of the means of salvation: the Church is a holy institution in virtue of the gifts with which she is endowed. She is the moral seminary that trains for salvation and the institution that exercises divine powers in Christ's room. Both of these conceptions presuppose political forms; both necessarily require priests and more especially an episcopate. (In de pudic. 21 Tertullian already defines the position of his adversary by the saying, "ecclesia est numerus episcoporum.") This episcopate by its unity guarantees the unity of the Church and has received the power to forgive sins (Cyp., ep. 69. 11).
The new conception of the Church, which was a necessary outcome of existing circumstances and which, we may remark, was not formulated in contradictory terms by Cyprian, but by Roman bishops, was the first thing that gave a fundamental religious significance to the separation of clergy and laity. The powers exercised by bishops and priests were thereby fixed and hallowed. No doubt the old order of things, which gave laymen a share in the administration of moral discipline, still continued in the third century, but it became more and more a mere form. The bishop became the practical vicegerent of Christ; he disposed of the power to bind and to loose. But the recollection of the older form of Christianity continued to exert an influence on the Catholic Church of the third century. It is true that, if we can trust Hippolytus' account, Calixtus had by this time firmly set his face against the older idea, inasmuch as he not only defined the Church as essentially a mixed body (corpus permixtum), but also asserted the unlawfulness of deposing the bishop even in case of mortal sin. But we do not find that definition in Cyprian, and, what is of more importance, he still required a definite degree of active Christianity as a sine qua non in the case of bishops; and assumed it as a self-evident necessity. He who does not give evidence of this forfeits his episcopal office ipso facto. Now if we consider that Cyprian makes the Church, as the body of believers (plebs credentium), so dependent on the bishops, that the latter are the only Christians not under tutelage, the demand in question denotes a great deal. It carries out the old idea of the Church in a certain fashion, as far as the bishops are concerned. But for this very reason it endangers the new conception in a point of capital importance; for the spiritual acts of a sinful bishop are invalid; and if the latter, as a notorious sinner, is no longer bishop, the whole certainty of the ecclesiastical system ceases. Moreover, an appeal to the certainty of God's installing the bishops and always appointing the right ones is of no avail, if false ones manifestly find their way in. Hence Cyprian's idea of the Church—and this is no dishonour to him—still involved an inconsistency which, in the fourth century, was destined to produce a very serious crisis in the Donatist struggle. The view, however—which Cyprian never openly expressed, and which was merely the natural inference from his theory—that the Catholic Church, though the "one dove" ("una columba"), is in truth not coincident with the number of the elect, was clearly recognised and frankly expressed by Origen before him. Origen plainly distinguished between spiritual and fleshly members of the Church; and spoke of such as only belong to her outwardly, but are not Christians. As these are finally overpowered by the gates of hell, Origen does not hesitate to class them as merely seeming members of the Church. Conversely, he contemplates the possibility of a person being expelled from her fellowship and yet remaining a member in the eyes of God. Nevertheless he by no means attained to clearness on the point, in which case, moreover, he would have been the first to do so; nor did he give an impulse to further reflection on the problem. Besides, speculations were of no use here. The Church with her priests, her holy books, and gifts of grace, that is, the moderate secularisation of Christendom corrected by the means of grace, was absolutely needed in order to prevent a complete lapse into immorality.
But a minority struggled against this Church, not with speculations, but by demanding adherence to the old practice with regard to lapsed members. Under the leadership of the Roman presbyter, Novatian, this section formed a coalition in the Empire that opposed the Catholic confederation. Their adherence to the old system of Church discipline involved a reaction against the secularising process, which did not seem to be tempered by the spiritual powers of the bishops. Novatian's conception of the Church, of ecclesiastical absolution and the rights of the priests, and in short, his notion of the power of the keys is different from that of his opponents. This is clear from a variety of considerations. For he (with his followers) assigned to the Church the right and duty of expelling gross sinners once for all; he denied her the authority to absolve idolaters, but left these to the forgiveness of God who alone has the power of pardoning sins committed against himself; and he asserted: "non est pax illi ab episcopo necessaria habituro gloriae suae (scil. martyrii) pacem et accepturo maiorem de domini dignatione mercedem,"—"the absolution of the bishop is not needed by him who will receive the peace of his glory (i.e., martyrdom) and will obtain a greater reward from the approbation of the Lord" (Cypr. ep. 57. 4), and on the other hand taught: "peccato alterius inquinari alterum et idololatriam delinquentis ad non delinquentem transire,"—"the one is defiled by the sin of the other and the idolatry of the transgressor passes over to him who does not transgress." His proposition that none but God can forgive sins does not depotentiate the idea of the Church; but secures both her proper religious significance and the full sense of her dispensations of grace: it limits her powers and extent in favour of her content. Refusal of her forgiveness under certain circumstances—though this does not exclude the confident hope of God's mercy—can only mean that in Novatian's view this forgiveness is the foundation of salvation and does not merely avert the certainty of perdition. To the Novatians, then, membership of the Church is not the sine qua non of salvation, but it really secures it in some measure. In certain cases nevertheless the Church may not anticipate the judgment of God. Now it is never by exclusion, but by readmission, that she does so. As the assembly of the baptised, who have received God's forgiveness, the Church must be a real communion of salvation and of saints; hence she cannot endure unholy persons in her midst without losing her essence. Each gross sinner that is tolerated within her calls her legitimacy in question. But, from this point of view, the constitution of the Church, i.e., the distinction of lay and spiritual and the authority of the bishops, likewise retained nothing but the secondary importance it had in earlier times. For, according to those principles, the primary question as regards Church membership is not connection with the clergy (the bishop). It is rather connection with the community, fellowship with which secures the salvation that may indeed be found outside its pale, but not with certainty. But other causes contributed to lessen the importance of the bishops: the art of casuistry, so far-reaching in its results, was unable to find a fruitful soil here, and the laity were treated in exactly the same way as the clergy. The ultimate difference between Novatian and Cyprian as to the idea of the Church and the power to bind and loose did not become clear to the latter himself. This was because, in regard to the idea of the Church, he partly overlooked the inferences from his own view and to some extent even directly repudiated them. An attempt to lay down a principle for judging the case is found in ep. 69. 7: "We and the schismatics have neither the same law of the creed nor the same interrogation, for when they say: 'you believe in the remission of sins and eternal life through the holy Church,' they speak falsely" ("non est una nobis et schismaticis symboli lex neque eadem interrogatio; nam cum dicunt, credis in remissionem peccatorum et vitam aeternam per sanctam ecclesiam, mentiuntur"). Nor did Dionysius of Alexandria, who endeavoured to accumulate reproaches against Novatian, succeed in forming any effective accusation (Euseb., H. E. VII. 8). Pseudo-Cyprian had just as little success (ad Novatianum).
It was not till the subsequent period, when the Catholic Church had resolutely pursued the path she had entered, that the difference in principle manifested itself with unmistakable plainness. The historical estimate of the contrast must vary in proportion as one contemplates the demands of primitive Christianity or the requirements of the time. The Novatian confederation undoubtedly preserved a valuable remnant of the old tradition. The idea that the Church, as a fellowship of salvation, must also be the fellowship of saints ([Greek: Katharoi]) corresponds to the ideas of the earliest period. The followers of Novatian did not entirely identify the political and religious attributes of the Church; they neither transformed the gifts of salvation into means of education, nor confused the reality with the possibility of redemption; and they did not completely lower the requirements for a holy life. But on the other hand, in view of the minimum insisted upon, the claim that they were the really evangelical party and that they fulfilled the law of Christ was a presumption. The one step taken to avert the secularising of the Church, exclusion of the lapsed, was certainly, considering the actual circumstances immediately following a great apostasy, a measure of radical importance; but, estimated by the Gospel and in fact simply by the demands of the Montanists fifty years before, it was remarkably insignificant. These Catharists did indeed go the length of expelling all so-called mortal sinners, because it was too crying an injustice to treat libellatici more severely than unabashed transgressors; but, even then, it was still a gross self-deception to style themselves the "pure ones," since the Novatian Churches speedily ceased to be any stricter than the Catholic in their renunciation of the world. At least we do not hear that asceticism and devotion to religious faith were very much more prominent in the Catharist Church than in the Catholic. On the contrary, judging from the sources that have come down to us, we may confidently say that the picture presented by the two Churches in the subsequent period was practically identical. As Novatian's adherents did not differ from the opposite party in doctrine and constitution, their discipline of penance appears an archaic fragment which it was a doubtful advantage to preserve; and their rejection of the Catholic dispensations of grace (practice of rebaptism) a revolutionary measure, because it had insufficient justification. But the distinction between venial and mortal sins, a theory they held in common with the Catholic Church, could not but prove especially fatal to them; whereas their opponents, through their new regulations as to penance, softened this distinction, and that not to the detriment of morality. For an entirely different treatment of so-called gross and venial transgressions must in every case deaden the conscience towards the latter.
5. If we glance at the Catholic Church and leave the melancholy recriminations out of account, we cannot fail to see the wisdom, foresight, and comparative strictness with which the bishops carried out the great revolution that so depotentiated the Church as to make her capable of becoming a prop of civic society and of the state, without forcing any great changes upon them. In learning to look upon the Church as a training school for salvation, provided with penalties and gifts of grace, and in giving up its religious independence in deference to her authority, Christendom as it existed in the latter half of the third century, submitted to an arrangement that was really best adapted to its own interests. In the great Church every distinction between her political and religious conditions necessarily led to fatal disintegrations, to laxities, such as arose in Carthage owing to the enthusiastic behaviour of the confessors; or to the breaking up of communities. The last was a danger incurred in all cases where the attempt was made to exercise unsparing severity. A casuistic proceeding was necessary as well as a firm union of the bishops as pillars of the Church. Not the least important result of the crises produced by the great persecutions was the fact that the bishops in West and East were thereby forced into closer connection and at the same time acquired full jurisdiction ("per episcopos solos peccata posse dimitti"). If we consider that the archiepiscopal constitution had not only been simultaneously adopted, but had also attained the chief significance in the ecclesiastical organisation, we may say that the Empire Church was completed the moment that Diocletian undertook the great reorganisation of his dominions. No doubt the old Christianity had found its place in the new Church, but it was covered over and concealed. In spite of all that, little alteration had been made in the expression of faith, in religious language; people spoke of the universal holy Church, just as they did a hundred years before. Here the development in the history of dogma was in a very special sense a development in the history of the Church. Catholicism was now complete; the Church had suppressed all utterances of individual piety, in the sense of their being binding on Christians, and freed herself from every feature of exclusiveness. In order to be a Christian a man no longer required in any sense to be a saint. "What made the Christian a Christian was no longer the possession of charisms, but obedience to ecclesiastical authority," share in the gifts of the Church, and the performance of penance and good works. The Church by her edicts legitimised average morality, after average morality had created the authority of the Church. ("La mediocrite fonda l'autorite".) The dispensations of grace, that is, absolution and the Lord's Supper, abolished the charismatic gifts. The Holy Scriptures, the apostolic episcopate, the priests, the sacraments, average morality in accordance with which the whole world could live, were mutually conditioned. The consoling words: "Jesus receives sinners," were subjected to an interpretation that threatened to make them detrimental to morality. And with all that the self-righteousness of proud ascetics was not excluded—quite the contrary. Alongside of a code of morals, to which any one in case of need could adapt himself, the Church began to legitimise a morality of self-chosen, refined sanctity, which really required no Redeemer. It was as in possession of this constitution that the great statesman found and admired her, and recognised in her the strongest support of the Empire.
A comparison of the aims of primitive Christendom with those of ecclesiastical society at the end of the third century—a comparison of the actual state of things at the different periods is hardly possible—will always lead to a disheartening result; but the parallel is in itself unjust. The truth rather is that the correct standpoint from which to judge the matter was already indicated by Origen in the comparison he drew (c. Cels. III. 29. 30) between the Christian society of the third century and the non-Christian, between the Church and the Empire, the clergy and the magistrates. Amidst the general disorganisation of all relationships, and from amongst the ruins of a shattered fabric, a new structure, founded on the belief in one God, in a sure revelation, and in eternal life, was being laboriously raised. It gathered within it more and more all the elements still capable of continued existence; it readmitted the old world, cleansed of its grossest impurities, and raised holy barriers to secure its conquests against all attacks. Within this edifice justice and civic virtue shone with no greater brightness than they did upon the earth generally, but within it burned two mighty flames—the assurance of eternal life, guaranteed by Christ, and the practice of mercy. He who knows history is aware that the influence of epoch-making personages is not to be sought in its direct consequences alone, as these speedily disappear: that structure which prolonged the life of a dying world, and brought strength from the Holy One to another struggling into existence, was also partly founded on the Gospel, and but for this would neither have arisen nor attained solidity. Moreover, a Church had been created within which the pious layman could find a holy place of peace and edification. With priestly strife he had nothing to do, nor had he any concern in the profound and subtle dogmatic system whose foundation was now being laid. We may say that the religion of the laity attained freedom in proportion as it became impossible for them to take part in the establishment and guardianship of the official Church system. It is the professional guardians of this ecclesiastical edifice who are the real martyrs of religion, and it is they who have to bear the consequences of the worldliness and lack of genuineness pertaining to the system. But to the layman who seeks from the Church nothing more than aid in raising himself to God, this worldliness and unveracity do not exist. During the Greek period, however, laymen were only able to recognise this advantage to a limited extent. The Church dogmatic and the ecclesiastical system were still too closely connected with their own interests. It was in the Middle Ages, that the Church first became a Holy Mother and her house a house of prayer—for the Germanic peoples; for these races were really the children of the Church, and they themselves had not helped to rear the house in which they worshipped.
I. THE PRIESTHOOD. The completion of the old Catholic conception of the Church, as this idea was developed in the latter half of the third century, is perhaps most clearly shown in the attribute of priesthood, with which the clergy were invested and which conferred on them the greatest importance. The development of this conception, whose adoption is a proof that the Church had assumed a heathen complexion, cannot be more particularly treated of here. What meaning it has is shown by its application in Cyprian and the original of the first six books of the Apostolic Constitutions (see Book II.). The bishops (and also the presbyters) are priests, in so far as they alone are empowered to present the sacrifice as representatives of the congregation before God and in so far as they dispense or refuse the divine grace as representatives of God in relation to the congregation. In this sense they are also judges in God's stead. The position here conceded to the higher clergy corresponds to that of the mystagogue in heathen religions, and is acknowledged to be borrowed from the latter. Divine grace already appears as a sacramental consecration of an objective nature, the bestowal of which is confined to spiritual personages chosen by God. This fact is no way affected by the perception that an ever increasing reference is made to the Old Testament priests as well as to the whole Jewish ceremonial and ecclesiastical regulations. It is true that there is no other respect in which Old Testament commandments were incorporated with Christianity to such an extent as they were in this. But it can be proved that this formal adoption everywhere took place at a subsequent date, that is, it had practically no influence on the development itself, which was not legitimised by the commandments till a later period, and that often in a somewhat lame fashion. We may perhaps say that the development which made the bishops and elders priests altered the inward form of the Church in a more radical fashion than any other. "Gnosticism," which the Church had repudiated in the second century, became part of her own system in the third. As her integrity had been made dependent on inalienable objective standards, the adoption even of this greatest innovation, which indeed was in complete harmony with the secular element within her, was an elementary necessity. In regard to every sphere of Church life, and hence also in respect to the development of dogma and the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, the priesthood proved of the highest significance. The clerical exposition of the sacred books, with its frightful ideas, found its earliest advocate in Cyprian and had thus a most skilful champion at the very first.
II. SACRIFICE. In Book I., chap. III., Sec. 7, we have already shown what a wide field the idea of sacrifice occupied in primitive Christendom, and how it was specially connected with the celebration of the Lord's Supper. The latter was regarded as the pure (i.e., to be presented with a pure heart), bloodless thank offering of which Malachi had prophesied in I. 11. Priesthood and sacrifice, however, are mutually conditioned. The alteration of the concept "priest" necessarily led to a simultaneous and corresponding change in the idea of sacrifice, just as, conversely, the latter reacted on the former. In Irenaeus and Tertullian the old conception of sacrifice, viz., that prayers are the Christian sacrifice and that the disposition of the believer hallows his whole life even as it does his offering, and forms a well-pleasing sacrifice to God, remains essentially unchanged. In particular, there is no evidence of any alteration in the notion of sacrifice connected with the Lord's Supper. But nevertheless we can already trace a certain degree of modification in Tertullian. Not only does he give fasting, voluntary celibacy, martyrdom, etc., special prominence among the sacrificial acts of a Christian life, and extol their religious value—as had already been done before; but he also attributes a God-propitiating significance to these performances, and plainly designates them as "merita" ("promereri deum"). To the best of my belief Tertullian was the first who definitely regarded ascetic performances as propitiatory offerings and ascribed to them the "potestas reconciliandi iratum deum." But he himself was far from using this fatal theory, so often found in his works, to support a lax Church practice that made Christianity consist in outward forms. This result did not come about till the eventful decades, prolific in new developments, that elapsed between the persecutions of Septimius and Decius; and in the West it is again Cyprian who is our earliest witness as to the new view and practice. In the first place, Cyprian was quite familiar with the idea of ascetic propitiations and utilised it in the interest of the Catholicity of the Church; secondly, he propounded a new theory of the offering in the cultus. As far as the first point is concerned, Cyprian's injunctions with regard to it are everywhere based on the understanding that even after baptism no one can be without sin (de op. et cleemos. 3); and also on the firm conviction that this sacrament can only have a retrospective virtue. Hence he concludes that we must appease God, whose wrath has been aroused by sin, through performances of our own, that is, through offerings that bear the character of "satisfactions." In other words we must blot out transgressions by specially meritorious deeds in order thus to escape eternal punishment. These deeds Cyprian terms "merita," which either possess the character of atonements, or, in case there are no sins to be expiated, entitle the Christian to a special reward (merces). But, along with lamentationes and acts of penance, it is principally alms-giving that forms such means of atonement (see de lapsis, 35, 36). In Cyprian's eyes this is already the proper satisfaction; mere prayer, that is, devotional exercises unaccompanied by fasting and alms, being regarded as "bare and unfruitful." In the work "de opere et eleemosynis" which, after a fashion highly characteristic of Cyprian, is made dependent on Sirach and Tobias, he has set forth a detailed theory of what we may call alms-giving as a means of grace in its relation to baptism and salvation. However, this practice can only be viewed as a means of grace in Cyprian's sense in so far as God has accepted it, that is, pointed it out. In itself it is a free human act. After the Decian persecution and the rearrangement of ecclesiastical affairs necessitated by it, works and alms (opera et eleemosynae) made their way into the absolution system of the Church, and were assigned a permanent place in it. Even the Christian who has forfeited his Church membership by abjuration may ultimately recover it by deeds of sacrifice, of course under the guidance and intercessory cooeperation of the Church. The dogmatic dilemma we find here cannot be more clearly characterised than by simply placing the two doctrines professed by Cyprian side by side. These are:—(1) that the sinfulness common to each individual can only be once extirpated by the power of baptism derived from the work of Christ, and (2) that transgressions committed after baptism, inclusive of mortal sins, can and must be expiated solely by spontaneous acts of sacrifice under the guidance of kind mother Church. A Church capable of being permanently satisfied with such doctrines would very soon have lost the last remains of her Christian character. What was wanted was a means of grace, similar to baptism and granted by God through Christ, to which the opera et eleemosynae are merely to bear the relation of accompanying acts. But Cyprian was no dogmatist and was not able to form a doctrine of the means of grace. He never got beyond his "propitiate God the judge by sacrifices after baptism" ("promereri deum judicem post baptismum sacrificiis"), and merely hinted, in an obscure way, that the absolution of him who has committed a deadly sin after baptism emanates from the same readiness of God to forgive as is expressed in that rite, and that membership in the Church is a condition of absolution. His whole theory as to the legal nature of man's (the Christian's) relationship to God, and the practice, inaugurated by Tertullian, of designating this connection by terms derived from Roman law continued to prevail in the West down to Augustine's time. But, during this whole interval, no book was written by a Western Churchman which made the salvation of the sinful Christian dependent on ascetic offerings of atonement, with so little regard to Christ's grace and the divine factor in the case, as Cyprian's work de opere et eleemosynis.
No less significant is Cyprian's advance as regards the idea of the sacrifice in public worship, and that in three respects. To begin with, Cyprian was the first to associate the specific offering, i.e., the Lord's Supper with the specific priesthood. Secondly, he was the first to designate the passio dominis, nay, the sanguis Christi and the dominica hostia as the object of the eucharistic offering. Thirdly, he expressly represented the celebration of the Lord's Supper as an incorporation of the congregation and its individual members with Christ, and was the first to bear clear testimony as to the special importance attributed to commemoration of the celebrators ("vivi et defuncti"), though no other can be ascertained than a specially strong intercession. But this is really the essential effect of the sacrifice of the supper as regards the celebrators; for however much the conceptions about this ceremony might be heightened, and whatever additions might be made to its ritual, forgiveness of sins in the strict sense could not be associated with it. Cyprian's statement that every celebration of the Lord's Supper is a repetition or imitation of Christ's sacrifice of himself, and that the ceremony has therefore an expiatory value remains a mere assertion, though the Romish Church still continues to repeat this doctrine to the present day. For the idea that partaking of the Lord's Supper cleansed from sin like the mysteries of the Great Mother (magna mater) and Mithras, though naturally suggested by the ceremonial practice, was counteracted by the Church principles of penance and by the doctrine of baptism. As a sacrificial rite the Supper never became a ceremony equivalent in effect to baptism. But no doubt, as far as the popular conception was concerned, the solemn ritual copied from the ancient mysteries could not but attain an indescribably important significance. It is not possible, within the framework of the history of dogma, to describe the development of religious ceremonial in the third century, and to show what a radical alteration took place in men's conceptions with regard to it (cf. for example, Justin with Cyprian). But, in dealing with the history of dogma within this period, we must clearly keep in view the development of the cultus, the new conceptions of the value of ritual, and the reference of ceremonial usages to apostolic tradition; for there was plainly a remodelling of the ritual in imitation of the ancient mysteries and of the heathen sacrificial system, and this fact is admitted by Protestant scholars of all parties. Ceremonial and doctrine may indeed be at variance, for the latter may lag behind the former and vice versa, but they are never subject to entirely different conditions.
III. MEANS OF GRACE, BAPTISM, and EUCHARIST. That which the Western Church of post-Augustinian times calls sacrament in the specific sense of the word (means of grace) was only possessed by the Church of the third century in the form of baptism. In strict theory she still held that the grace once bestowed in this rite could be conferred by no holy ceremony of equal virtue, that is, by no fresh sacrament. The baptised Christian has no means of grace, conferred by Christ, at his disposal, but has his law to fulfil (see, e.g., Iren. IV. 27. 2). But, as soon as the Church began to absolve mortal sinners, she practically possessed in absolution a real means of grace that was equally effective with baptism from the moment that this remission became unlimited in its application. The notions as to this means of grace, however, continued quite uncertain in so far as the thought of God's absolving the sinner through the priest was qualified by the other theory (see above) which asserted that forgiveness was obtained through the penitential acts of transgressors (especially baptism with blood, and next in importance lamentationes, ieiunia, eleemosynae). In the third century there were manifold holy dispensations of grace by the hands of priests; but there was still no theory which traced the means of grace to the historical work of Christ in the same way that the grace bestowed in baptism was derived from it. From Cyprian's epistles and the anti-Novatian sections in the first six books of the Apostolic Constitutions we indeed see that appeal was not unfrequently made to the power of forgiving sins bestowed on the Apostles and to Christ's declaration that he received sinners; but, as the Church had not made up her mind to repeat baptism, so also she had yet no theory that expressly and clearly supplemented this rite by a sacramentum absolutionis. In this respect, as well as in regard to the sacramentum ordinis, first instituted by Augustine, theory remained far behind practice. This was by no means an advantage, for, as a matter of fact, the whole religious ceremonial was already regarded as a system of means of grace. The consciousness of a personal, living connection of the individual with God through Christ had already disappeared, and the hesitation in setting up new means of grace had only the doubtful result of increasing the significance of human acts, such as offerings and satisfactions, to a dangerous extent.
Since the middle of the second century the notions of baptism in the Church have not essentially altered (see Vol. I. p. 206 ff.). The result of baptism was universally considered to be forgiveness of sins, and this pardon was supposed to effect an actual sinlessness which now required to be maintained. We frequently find "deliverance from death," "regeneration of man," "restoration to the image of God," and "obtaining of the Holy Spirit." ("Absolutio mortes," "regeneratio hominis," "restitutio ad similitudinem dei" and "consecutio spiritus sancti") named along with the "remission of sins" and "obtaining of eternal life" ("remissio delictorum" and "consecutio aeternitatis"). Examples are to be found in Tertullian adv. Marc. I. 28 and elsewhere; and Cyprian speaks of the "bath of regeneration and sanctification" ("lavacrum regenerationis et sanctificationis"). Moreover, we pretty frequently find rhetorical passages where, on the strength of New Testament texts, all possible blessings are associated with baptism. The constant additions to the baptismal ritual, a process which had begun at a very early period, are partly due to the intention of symbolising these supposedly manifold virtues of baptism, and partly owe their origin to the endeavour to provide the great mystery with fit accompaniments. As yet the separate acts can hardly be proved to have an independent signification. The water was regarded both as the symbol of the purification of the soul and as an efficacious, holy medium of the Spirit (in accordance with Gen. I. 2; water and Spirit are associated with each other, especially in Cyprian's epistles on baptism). He who asserted the latter did not thereby repudiate the former (see Orig. in Joann. Tom. VI. 17, Opp. IV. p. 133). Complete obscurity prevails as to the Church's adoption of the practice of child baptism, which, though it owes its origin to the idea of this ceremony being indispensable to salvation, is nevertheless a proof that the superstitious view of baptism had increased. In the time of Irenaeus (II. 22. 4) and Tertullian (de bapt. 18) child baptism had already become very general and was founded on Matt. XIX. 14. We have no testimony regarding it from earlier times; Clement of Alexandria does not yet assume it. Tertullian argued against it not only because he regarded conscious faith as a needful preliminary condition, but also because he thought it advisable to delay baptism (cunctatio baptismi) on account of the responsibility involved in it (pondus baptismi). He says: "It is more advantageous to delay baptism, especially in the case of little children. For why is it necessary for the sponsors" (this is the first mention of "godparents") "also to be thrust into danger?... let the little ones therefore come when they are growing up; let them come when they are learning, when they are taught where they are coming to; let them become Christians when they are able to know Christ. Why does an age of innocence hasten to the remission of sins? People will act more cautiously in worldly affairs, so that one who is not trusted with earthly things is trusted with divine. Whoever understands the responsibility of baptism will fear its attainment more than its delay." To all appearance the practice of immediately baptising the children of Christian families was universally adopted in the Church in the course of the third century. (Origen, Comment, in ep. ad Rom. V. 9, Opp. IV. p. 565, declared child baptism to be a custom handed down by the Apostles.) Grown up people, on the other hand, frequently postponed baptism, but this habit was disapproved.
The Lord's Supper was not only regarded as a sacrifice, but also as a divine gift. The effects of this gift were not theoretically fixed, because these were excluded by the strict scheme of baptismal grace and baptismal obligation. But in practice Christians more and more assumed a real bestowal of heavenly gifts in the holy food, and gave themselves over to superstitious theories. This bestowal was sometimes regarded as a spiritual and sometimes as a bodily self-communication of Christ, that is, as a miraculous implanting of divine life. Here ethical and physical, and again ethical and theoretical features were intermixed with each other. The utterances of the Fathers to which we have access do not allow us to classify these elements here; for to all appearance not a single one clearly distinguished between spiritual and bodily, or ethical and intellectual effects unless he was in principle a spiritualist. But even a writer of this kind had quite as superstitious an idea of the holy elements as the rest. Thus the holy meal was extolled as the communication of incorruption, as a pledge of resurrection, as a medium of the union of the flesh with the Holy Spirit; and again as food of the soul, as the bearer of the Spirit of Christ (the Logos), as the means of strengthening faith and knowledge, as a sanctifying of the whole personality. The thought of the forgiveness of sins fell quite into the background. This ever changing conception, as it seems to us, of the effects of partaking of the Lord's Supper had also a parallel in the notions as to the relation between the visible elements and the body of Christ. So far as we are able to judge no one felt that there was a problem here, no one enquired whether this relation was realistic or symbolical. The symbol is the mystery and the mystery was not conceivable without a symbol. What we now-a-days understand by "symbol" is a thing which is not that which it represents; at that time "symbol" denoted a thing which, in some kind of way, really is what it signifies; but, on the other hand, according to the ideas of that period, the really heavenly element lay either in or behind the visible form without being identical with it. Accordingly the distinction of a symbolic and realistic conception of the Supper is altogether to be rejected; we could more rightly distinguish between materialistic, dyophysite, and docetic conceptions which, however, are not to be regarded as severally exclusive in the strict sense. In the popular idea the consecrated elements were heavenly fragments of magical virtue (see Cypr., de laps. 25; Euseb., H. E. VI. 44). With these the rank and file of third-century Christians already connected many superstitious notions which the priests tolerated or shared. The antignostic Fathers acknowledged that the consecrated food consisted of two things, an earthly (the elements) and a heavenly (the real body of Christ). They thus saw in the sacrament a guarantee of the union between spirit and flesh, which the Gnostics denied; and a pledge of the resurrection of the flesh nourished by the blood of the Lord (Justin; Iren. IV. 18. 4, 5; V. 2. 2, 3; likewise Tertullian who is erroneously credited with a "symbolical" doctrine). Clement and Origen "spiritualise," because, like Ignatius, they assign a spiritual significance to the flesh and blood of Christ himself (summary of wisdom). To judge from the exceedingly confused passage in Paed. II. 2, Clement distinguishes a spiritual and a material blood of Christ. Finally, however, he sees in the Eucharist the union of the divine Logos with the human spirit, recognises, like Cyprian at a later period, that the mixture of wine with water in the symbol represents the spiritual process, and lastly does not fail to attribute to the holy food a relationship to the body. It is true that Origen, the great mysteriosophist and theologian of sacrifice, expressed himself in plainly "spiritualistic" fashion; but in his eyes religious mysteries and the whole person of Christ lay in the province of the spirit, and therefore his theory of the Supper is not "symbolical," but conformable to his doctrine of Christ. Besides, Origen was only able to recognise spiritual aids in the sphere of the intellect and the disposition, and in the assistance given to these by man's own free and spontaneous efforts. Eating and drinking and, in general, participation in a ceremonial are from Origen's standpoint completely indifferent matters. The intelligent Christian feeds at all times on the body of Christ, that is, on the Word of God, and thus celebrates a never ending Supper (c. Cels. VIII. 22). Origen, however, was not blind to the fact that his doctrine of the Lord's Supper was just as far removed from the faith of the simple Christian as his doctrinal system generally. Here also, therefore, he accommodated himself to that faith in points where it seemed necessary. This, however, he did not find difficult; for, though with him everything is at bottom "spiritual," he was unwilling to dispense with symbols and mysteries, because he knew that one must be initiated into the spiritual, since one cannot learn it as one learns the lower sciences. But, whether we consider simple believers, the antignostic Fathers or Origen, and, moreover, whether we view the Supper as offering or sacrament, we everywhere observe that the holy ordinance had been entirely diverted from its original purpose and pressed into the service of the spirit of antiquity. In no other point perhaps is the hellenisation of the Gospel so evident as in this. To mention only one other example, this is also shown in the practice of child communion, which, though we first hear of it in Cyprian (Testim. III. 25; de laps. 25), can hardly be of later origin than child baptism. Partaking of the Supper seemed quite as indispensable as baptism, and the child had no less claim than the adult to a magical food from heaven.
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In the course of the third century a crass superstition became developed in respect to the conceptions of the Church and the mysteries connected with her. According to this notion we must subject ourselves to the Church and must have ourselves filled with holy consecrations as we are filled with food. But the following chapters will show that this superstition and mystery magic were counterbalanced by a most lively conception of the freedom and responsibility of the individual. Fettered by the bonds of authority and superstition in the sphere of religion, free and self-dependent in the province of morality, this Christianity is characterised by passive submission in the first respect and by complete activity in the second. It may be that exegetical theology can never advance beyond an alternation between these two aspects of the case, and a recognition of their equal claim to consideration; for the religious phenomenon in which they are combined defies any explanation. But religion is in danger of being destroyed when the insufficiency of the understanding is elevated into a convenient principle of theory and life, and when the real mystery of the faith, viz., how one becomes a new man, must accordingly give place to the injunction that we must obediently accept the religious as a consecration, and add to this the zealous endeavour after ascetic virtue. Such, however, has been the character of Catholicism since the third century, and even after Augustine's time it has still remained the same in its practice.
EXCURSUS TO CHAPTERS II. AND III.
CATHOLIC AND ROMAN.
In investigating the development of Christianity up till about the year 270 the following facts must be specially kept in mind: In the regions subject to Rome, apart from the Judaeo-Christian districts and passing disturbances, Christianity had yet an undivided history in vital questions; the independence of individual congregations and of the provincial groups of Churches was very great; and every advance in the development of the communities at the same time denoted a forward step in their adaptation to the existing conditions of the Empire. The first two facts we have mentioned have their limitations. The further apart the different Churches lay, the more various were the conditions under which they arose and flourished; the looser the relations between the towns in which they had their home the looser also was the connection between them. Still, it is evident that towards the end of the third century the development in the Church had well-nigh attained the same point everywhere—except in outlying communities. Catholicism, essentially as we conceive it now, was what most of the Churches had arrived at. Now it is an a priori probability that this transformation of Christianity, which was simply the adaptation of the Gospel to the then existing Empire, came about under the guidance of the metropolitan Church, the Church of Rome; and that "Roman" and "Catholic" had therefore a special relation from the beginning. It might a limine be objected to this proposition that there is no direct testimony in support of it, and that, apart from this consideration, it is also improbable, in so far as, in view of the then existing condition of society, Catholicism appears as the natural and only possible form in which Christianity could be adapted to the world. But this is not the case; for in the first place very strong proofs can be adduced, and besides, as is shown by the development in the second century, very different kinds of secularisation were possible. In fact, if all appearances are not deceptive, the Alexandrian Church, for example, was up to the time of Septimius Severus pursuing a path of development which, left to itself, would not have led to Catholicism, but, in the most favourable circumstances, to a parallel form.
It can, however, be proved that it was in the Roman Church, which up to about the year 190 was closely connected with that of Asia Minor, that all the elements on which Catholicism is based first assumed a definite form. (1) We know that the Roman Church possessed a precisely formulated baptismal confession, and that as early as the year 180 she declared this to be the apostolic rule by which everything is to be measured. It is only in her case that we are really certain of this, for we can merely guess at it as regards the Church of Smyrna, that is, of Asia Minor. It was accordingly admitted that the Roman Church was able to distinguish true from false with special exactness; and Irenaeus and Tertullian appealed to her to decide the practice in Gaul and Africa. This practice, in its precisely developed form, cannot be shown to have existed in Alexandria till a later period; but Origen, who testifies to it, also bears witness to the special reverence for and connection with the Roman Church. (2) The New Testament canon, with its claim to be accounted catholic and apostolic and to possess exclusive authority is first traceable in her; in the other communities it can only be proved to exist at a later period. In the great Antiochian diocese there was, for instance, a Church some of whose members wished the Gospel of Peter read; in the Pentapolis group of congregations the Gospel of the Egyptians was still used in the 3rd century; Syrian Churches of the same epoch used Tatian's Diatessaron; and the original of the first six books of the Apostolic Constitutions still makes no mention of a New Testament canon. Though Clement of Alexandria no doubt testifies that, in consequence of the common history of Christianity, the group of Scriptures read in the Roman congregations was also the same as that employed in public worship at Alexandria, he had as yet no New Testament canon before him in the sense of Irenaeus and Tertullian. It was not till Origen's time that Alexandria reached the stage already attained in Rome about forty years earlier. It must, however, be pointed out that a series of New Testament books, in the form now found in the canon and universally recognised, show marks of revision that can be traced back to the Roman Church. Finally, the later investigations, which show that after the third century the Western readings, that is, the Roman text, of the New Testament were adopted in the Oriental MSS. of the Bible, are of the utmost value here; for the most natural explanation of these facts is that the Eastern Churches then received their New Testament from Rome and used it to correct their copies of books read in public worship. (3) Rome is the first place which we can prove to have constructed a list of bishops reaching back to the Apostles (see Irenaeus). We know that in the time of Heliogabalus such lists also existed in other communities; but it cannot be proved that these had already been drawn up by the time of Marcus Aurelius or Commodus, as was certainly the case at Rome. (4) The notion of the apostolic succession of the episcopate was first turned to account by the Roman bishops, and they were the first who definitely formulated the political idea of the Church in connection with this. The utterances and corresponding practical measures of Victor, Calixtus (Hippolytus), and Stephen are the earliest of their kind; whilst the precision and assurance with which they substituted the political and clerical for the ideal conception of the Church, or amalgamated the two notions, as well as the decided way in which they proclaimed the sovereignty of the bishops, were not surpassed in the third century by Cyprian himself. (5) Rome was the first place, and that at a very early period, to date occurrences according to her bishops; and, even outside that city, churches reckoned, not according to their own, but according to the Roman episcopate. (6) The Oriental Churches say that two bishops of Rome compiled the chief apostolic regulations for the organisation of the Church; and this is only partially wrong. (7) The three great theologians of the age, Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Origen, opposed the pretensions of the Roman bishop Calixtus; and this very attitude of theirs testified that the advance in the political organisation of the Church, denoted by the measures of Calixtus, was still an unheard-of novelty, but immediately exercised a very important influence on the attitude of other Churches. We know that the other communities imitated this advance in the succeeding decades. (8) The institution of lower orders of clergy with the corresponding distinction of clerici maiores and minores first took place in Rome; but we know that this momentous arrangement gradually spread from that city to the rest of Christendom. (9) The different Churches communicated with one another through the medium of Rome.
From these considerations we can scarcely doubt that the fundamental apostolic institutions and laws of Catholicism were framed in the same city that in other respects imposed its authority on the whole earth; and that it was the centre from which they spread, because the world had become accustomed to receive law and justice from Rome. But it may be objected that the parallel development in other provinces and towns was spontaneous, though it everywhere came about at a somewhat later date. Nor do we intend to contest the assumption in this general sense; but, as I think, it can be proved that the Roman community had a direct and important share in the process and that, even in the second century, she was reckoned the first and most influential Church. We shall give a bird's-eye view of the most important facts bearing on the question, in order to prove this.
No other community made a more brilliant entrance into Church history than did that of Rome by the so called First Epistle of Clement—Paul having already testified (Rom. I. 8) that the faith of this Church was spoken of throughout the whole world. That letter to the Corinthians proves that, by the end of the first century, the Roman Church had already drawn up fixed rules for her own guidance, that she watched with motherly care over outlying communities, and that she then knew how to use language that was at once an expression of duty, love, and authority. As yet she pretends to no legal title of any kind, but she knows the "commandments and ordinances" ([Greek: prostagmata] and [Greek: dokaiomata]) of God, whereas the conduct of the sister Church evinces her uncertainty on the matter; she is in an orderly condition, whereas the sister community is threatened with dissolution; she adheres to the [Greek: kanon tes paradoseos], whilst the other body stands in need of exhortation; and in these facts her claim to authority consists. The Shepherd of Hermas also proves that even in the circles of the laity the Roman Church is impressed with the consciousness that she must care for the whole of Christendom. The first testimony of an outsider as to this community is afforded us by Ignatius. Soften as we may all the extravagant expressions in his Epistle to the Romans, it is at least clear that Ignatius conceded to them a precedence in the circle of sister Churches; and that he was well acquainted with the energy and activity displayed by them in aiding and instructing other communities. Dionysius of Corinth, in his letter to bishop Soter, affords us a glimpse of the vast activity manifested by the Christian Church of the world's metropolis on behalf of all Christendom and of all brethren far and near; and reveals to us the feelings of filial affection and veneration with which she was regarded in all Greece as well as in Antioch. This author has specially emphasised the fact that the Roman Christians are Romans, that is, are conscious of the particular duties incumbent on them as members of the metropolitan Church. After this evidence we cannot wonder that Irenaeus expressly assigned to the Church of Rome the highest rank among those founded by the Apostles. His famous testimony has been quite as often under as over-estimated. Doubtless his reference to the Roman Church is introduced in such a way that she is merely mentioned by way of example, just as he also adds the allusion to Smyrna and Ephesus; but there is quite as little doubt that this example was no arbitrary selection. The truth rather is that the Roman community must have been named, because its decision was already the most authoritative and impressive in Christendom. Whilst giving a formal scheme of proof that assigned the same theoretical value to each Church founded by the Apostles, Irenaeus added a reference to particular circumstance, viz., that in his time many communities turned to Rome in order to testify their orthodoxy. As soon as we cease to obscure our vision with theories and keep in view the actual circumstances, we have no cause for astonishment. Considering the active intercourse between the various Churches and the metropolis, it was of the utmost importance to all, especially so long as they required financial aid, to be in connection with that of Rome, to receive support from her, to know she would entertain travelling brethren, and to have the power of recommending prisoners and those pining in the mines to her influential intervention. The evidence of Ignatius and Dionysius as well as the Marcia-Victor episode place this beyond doubt (see above). The efforts of Marcion and Valentinus in Rome have also a bearing on this question, and the venerable bishop, Polycarp, did not shrink from the toil of a long journey to secure the valuable fellowship of the Roman Church; it was not Anicetus who came to Polycarp, but Polycarp to Anicetus. At the time when the controversy with Gnosticism ensued, the Roman Church showed all the rest an example of resolution; it was naturally to be expected that, as a necessary condition of mutual fellowship, she should require other communities to recognise the law by which she had regulated her own circumstances. No community in the Empire could regard with indifference its relationship to the great Roman Church; almost everyone had connections with her; she contained believers from all the rest. As early as 180 this Church could point to a series of bishops reaching in uninterrupted succession from the glorious apostles Paul and Peter down to the present time; and she alone maintained a brief but definitely formulated lex, which she entitled the summary of apostolic tradition, and by reference to which she decided all questions of faith with admirable certainty. Theories were incapable of overcoming the elementary differences that could not but appear as soon as Christianity became naturalised in the various provinces and towns of the Empire. Nor was it theories that created the empiric unity of the Churches, but the unity which the Empire possessed in Rome; the extent and composition of the Graeco-Latin community there; the security—and this was not the least powerful element—that accompanied the development of this great society, well provided as it was with wealth and possessed of an influence in high quarters already dating from the first century; as well as the care which it displayed on behalf of all Christendom. All these causes combined to convert the Christian communities into a real confederation under the primacy of the Roman Church (and subsequently under the leadership of her bishops). This primacy cannot of course be further defined, for it was merely a de facto one. But, from the nature of the case, it was immediately shaken, when it was claimed as a legal right associated with the person of the Roman bishop.
That this theory is more than a hypothesis is shown by several facts which prove the unique authority as well as the interference of the Roman Church (that is, of her bishop). First, in the Montanist controversy—and that too at the stage when it was still almost exclusively confined to Asia Minor—the already sobered adherents of the new prophecy petitioned Rome (bishop Eleutherus) to recognise their Church, and it was at Rome that the Gallic confessors cautiously interfered in their behalf; after which a native of Asia Minor induced the Roman bishop to withdraw the letters of toleration already issued. In view of the facts that it was not Roman Montanists who were concerned, that Rome was the place where the Asiatic members of this sect sought for recognition, and that it was in Rome that the Gauls interfered in their behalf, the significance of this proceeding cannot be readily minimised. We cannot of course dogmatise on the matter; but the fact can be proved that the decision of the Roman Church must have settled the position of that sect of enthusiasts in Christendom. Secondly, what is reported to us of Victor, the successor of Eleutherus, is still plainer testimony. He ventured to issue an edict, which we may already style a peremptory one, proclaiming the Roman practice with regard to the regulation of ecclesiastical festivals to be the universal rule in the Church, and declaring that every congregation, that failed to adopt the Roman arrangement, was excluded from the union of the one Church on the ground of heresy. How would Victor have ventured on such an edict—though indeed he had not the power of enforcing it in every case—unless the special prerogative of Rome to determine the conditions of the "common unity" ([Greek: koine henosis]) in the vital questions of the faith had been an acknowledged and well-established fact? How could Victor have addressed such a demand to the independent Churches, if he had not been recognised, in his capacity of bishop of Rome, as the special guardian of the [Greek: koine henosis]? Thirdly, it was Victor who formally excluded Theodotus from Church fellowship. This is the first really well-attested case of a Christian taking his stand on the rule of faith being excommunicated because a definite interpretation of it was already insisted on. In this instance the expression [Greek: huios monogenes] (only begotten Son) was required to be understood in the sense of [Greek: Phusei Theos] (God by nature). It was in Rome that this first took place. Fourthly, under Zephyrinus, Victor's successor, the Roman ecclesiastics interfered in the Carthaginian veil dispute, making common cause with the local clergy against Tertullian; and both appealed to the authority of predecessors, that is, above all, of the Roman bishops. Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, and Cyprian were obliged to resist the pretensions of these ecclesiastics to authority outside their own Church, the first having to contend with Calixtus, and the three others with Stephen.
It was the Roman Church that first displayed this activity and care; the Roman bishop sprang from the community in exactly the same way as the corresponding official did in other places. In Irenaeus' proof from prescription, however, it is already the Roman bishops that are specially mentioned. Praxeas reminded the bishop of Rome of the authority of his predecessors ("auctoritates praecessorum eius") and it was in the character of bishop that Victor acted. The assumption that Paul and Peter laboured in Rome, that is, founded the Church of that city (Dionysius, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Caius), must have conferred a high degree of prestige on her bishops, as soon as the latter officials were elevated to the position of more or less sovereign lords of the communities and were regarded as successors of the Apostles. The first who acted up to this idea was Calixtus. The sarcastic titles of "pontifex maximus," "episcopus episcoporum," "benedictus papa" and "apostolicus," applied to him by Tertullian in "de pudicitia" I. 13, are so many references to the fact that Calixtus already claimed for himself a position of primacy, in other words, that he associated with his own personal position as bishop the primacy possessed by the Roman Church, which pre-eminence, however, must have been gradually vanishing in proportion to the progress of the Catholic form of organisation among the other communities. Moreover, that is evident from the form of the edict he issued (Tert. I. c., I: "I hear that an edict has been issued and that a decisive one," "audio edictum esse praepositum et quidem peremptorium"), from the grounds it assigned and from the opposition to it on the part of Tertullian. From the form, in so far as Calixtus acted here quite independently and, without previous consultation, issued a peremptory edict, that is, one settling the matter and immediately taking effect; from the grounds it assigned, in so far as he appealed in justification of his action to Matt. XVI. 18 ff.—the first instance of the kind recorded in history; from Tertullian's opposition to it, because the latter treats it not as local, Roman, but as pregnant in consequences for all Christendom. But, as soon as the question took the form of enquiring whether the Roman bishop was elevated above the rest, a totally new situation arose. Even in the third century, as already shown, the Roman community, led by its bishops, still showed the rest an example in the process of giving a political constitution to the Church. It can also be proved that even far distant congregations were still being bound to the Roman Church through financial support, and that she was appealed to in questions of faith, just as the law of the city of Rome was invoked as the standard in civil questions. It is further manifest from Cyprian's epistles that the Roman Church was regarded as the ecclesia principalis, as the guardian par excellence of the unity of the Church. We may explain from Cyprian's own particular situation all else that he said in praise of the Roman Church (see above p. 88, note 2) and specially of the cathedra Petri; but the general view that she is the "matrix et radix ecclesiae catholicae" is not peculiar to him, and the statement that the "unitas sacerdotalis" originated in Rome is merely the modified expression, necessitated by the altered circumstances of the Church, for the acknowledged fact that the Roman community was the most distinguished among the sister groups, and as such had had and still possessed the right and duty of watching over the unity of the whole. Cyprian himself no doubt took a further step at the time of his correspondence with Cornelius, and proclaimed the special reference of Matt. XVI. to the cathedra Petri; but he confined his theory to the abstractions "ecclesia," "cathedra." In him the importance of this cathedra oscillates between the significance of a once existent fact that continues to live on as a symbol, and that of a real and permanent court of appeal. Moreover, he did not go the length of declaring that any special authority within the collective Church attached to the temporary occupant of the cathedra Petri. If we remove from Cyprian's abstractions everything to which he himself thinks there is nothing concrete corresponding, then we must above all eliminate every prerogative of the Roman bishop for the time being. What remains behind is the special position of the Roman Church, which indeed is represented by her bishop. Cyprian can say quite frankly: "owing to her magnitude Rome ought to have precedence over Carthage" ("pro magnitudine sua debet Carthaginem Roma praecedere") and his theory: "the episcopate is one, and a part of it is held by each bishop for the whole" ("episcopatus unus est, cuius a singulis in solidum pars tenetur"), virtually excludes any special prerogative belonging to a particular bishop (see also "de unit." 4). Here we have reached the point that has already been briefly referred to above, viz., that the consolidation of the Churches in the Empire after the Roman pattern could not but endanger the prestige and peculiar position of Rome, and did in fact do so. If we consider that each bishop was the acknowledged sovereign of his own diocese—now Catholic, that all bishops, as such, were recognised to be successors of the Apostles, that, moreover, the attribute of priesthood occupied a prominent position in the conception of the episcopal office, and that, the metropolitan unions with their presidents and synods had become completely naturalised—in short, that the rigid episcopal and provincial constitution of the Church had become an accomplished fact, so that, ultimately, it was no longer communities, but merely bishops that had dealings with each other, then we shall see that a new situation was thereby created for Rome, that is, for her bishop. In the West it was perhaps chiefly through the cooeperation of Cyprian that Rome found herself face to face with a completely organised Church system. His behaviour in the controversy about heretical baptism proves that in cases of dispute he was resolved to elevate his theory of the sovereign authority of each bishop above his theory of the necessary connection with the cathedra Petri. But, when that levelling of the episcopate came about, Rome had already acquired rights that could no longer be cancelled. Besides, there was one thing that could not be taken from the Roman Church, nor therefore from her bishop, even if she were denied the special right to Matt. XVI., viz., the possession of Rome. The site of the world's metropolis might be shifted, but Rome could not be removed. In the long run, however, the shifting of the capital proved advantageous to ecclesiastical Rome. At the beginning of the great epoch when the alienation of East from West became pronounced and permanent, an emperor, from political grounds, decided in favour of that party in Antioch "with whom the bishops in Italy and the city of the Romans held intercourse" ([Greek: hois an hoi kata ten Italian kai ten Rhomaion polin episkopoi tou dogmatos epistelloien]). In this instance the interest of the Roman Church and the interest of the emperor coincided. But the Churches in the various provinces, being now completely organised and therefore seldom in need of any more help from outside, were henceforth in a position to pursue their own interest. So the bishop of Rome had step by step to fight for the new authority, which, being now based on a purely dogmatic theory and being forced to repudiate any empirical foundation, was inconsistent with the Church system that the Roman community more than any other had helped to build up. The proposition "the Roman Church always had the primacy" ("ecclesia Romana semper habuit primatum") and the statement that "Catholic" virtually means "Roman Catholic" are gross fictions, when devised in honour of the temporary occupant of the Roman see and detached from the significance of the Eternal City in profane history; but, applied to the Church of the imperial capital, they contain a truth the denial of which is equivalent to renouncing the attempt to explain the process by which the Church was unified and catholicised.
[Footnote 193: See Ritschl, l.c.; Schwegler. Der Montanismus, 1841; Gottwald, De Montanismo Tertulliani, 1862; Reville, Tertull. et le Montanisme, in the Revue des Deux Mondes of 1st Novr. 1864; Stroehlin, Essai sur le Montanisme, 1870; De Soyres, Montanism and the Primitive Church, 1878; Cunningham, The Churches of Asia, 1880; Renan, Les Crises du Catholicisme Naissant in the Revue des Deux Mondes of 15th Febr. 1881; Renan, Marc Aurele, 1882, p. 208 ff.; Bonwetsch, Geschichte des Montanismus, 1881; Harnack, Das Monchthum, seine Ideale und seine Geschichte, 3rd. ed., 1886; Belck, Geschichte des Montanismus, 1883; Voigt, Eine verschollene Urkunde des antimontanistischen Kampfes, 1891. Further the articles on Montanism by Moller (Herzog's Real-Encyklopaedie), Salmon (Dictionary of Christian Biography), and Harnack (Encyclopedia Britannica). Weizsaecker in the Theologische Litteraturzeitung, 1882, no. 4; Bonwetsch, Die Prophetie im apostolischen und nachapostolischen Zeitalter in the Zeitschrift fur kirchliche Wissenschaft und kirchliches Leben, 1884, Parts 8, 9; M. von Engelhardt, Die ersten Versuche zur Aufrichtung des wahren Christenthums in einer Gemeinde von Heiligen, Riga, 1881.]
[Footnote 194: In certain vital points the conception of the original nature and history of Montanism, as sketched in the following account, does not correspond with that traditionally current. To establish it in detail would lead us too far. It may be noted that the mistakes in estimating the original character of this movement arise from a superficial examination of the oracles preserved to us and from the unjustifiable practice of interpreting them in accordance with their later application in the circles of Western Montanists. A completely new organisation of Christendom, beginning with the Church in Asia, to be brought about by its being detached from the bonds of the communities and collected into one region, was the main effort of Montanus. In this way he expected to restore to the Church a spiritual character and fulfil the promises contained in John. That is clear from Euseb., V. 16 ff. as well as from the later history of Montanism in its native land (see Jerome, ep. 41; Epiphan., H. 49. 2 etc.). In itself, however, apart from its particular explanation in the case of Montanus, the endeavour to detach Christians from the local Church unions has so little that is striking about it, that one rather wonders at being unable to point to any parallel in the earliest history of the Church. Wherever religious enthusiasm has been strong, it has at all times felt that nothing hinders its effect more than family ties and home connections. But it is just from the absence of similar undertakings in the earliest Christianity that we are justified in concluding that the strength of enthusiastic exaltation is no standard for the strength of Christian faith. (Since these words were written, we have read in Hippolytus' Commentary on Daniel [see Georgiades in the journal [Greek: Ekkl. aletheia] 1885, p. 52 sq.] very interesting accounts of such undertakings in the time of Septimius Severus. A Syrian bishop persuaded many brethren with wives and children to go to meet Christ in the wilderness; and another in Pontus induced his people to sell all their possessions, to cease tilling their lands, to conclude no more marriages etc., because the coming of the Lord was nigh at hand.)]