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Yet though neither party yielded to the other, they did not, on that account, break the bonds of charity.*
Toward the end of the century, Victor, bishop of Rome, as bishops were in those days, undertook to force upon the Asiatic Christians the custom of the west; and on their refusing to comply, “ broke communion with them, pronounced them unworthy of the name of brethren, and excluded them from all fellowship with the church of Rome.”+ But Victor and his associates were obliged to give back; and both sides
retained their own customs until the fourth century, when the council of Nice abolished that of the Asiatics, and rendered the time of the celebration of Easter the same through all the Christian churches.!'I
There is extant on this subject a fragment of Trenæus, being part of a letter which he wrote in his own name and the name of his brethren, to Victor; and which had great influence in healing the breach. It is worth inserting.
After admonishing Victor that he ought not, for such a reason,
“ to cut off from communion whole churches of God who observed the custom handed down from their ancestors," he adds :
* Mosheim, Vol. I. p.
* Ib. p. 204, 205.
* Not only is there a controversy about the day, but about the very form, of the fast. For some think it ought to be kept for one day, others for two, others even for several ; others measure for their term forty hours, including both night and day. And this variety among those who keep it, has not originated in our times, but prevailed long before us; our predecessors, it seems, not having been very scrupulous with regard to accuracy; but having adopted their custom in their simplicity and according to their peculiar feelings, handed it down, thus diversified, to the succeeding age. But all these were not, therefore, the less at peace among themselves, nor are we. The difference about the fast commends the agreement in the faith.
“ The Presbyters who, before Soter, ruled the church which you now govern; we mean Anicetus, and Pius, and Hyginus, and Telesphorus, and Xystus, neither observed themselves, nor permitted their people to observe, the day which is kept by the Asiatic Christians: and, nevertheless, while they did not observe that day, they maintained peace* with the other Presbyters who did, when they visited them; although the observance was more obnoxious to them, than the
*“ Maintaining peace,” in the phraseology of Irenæus and the primitive Christians, is equivalent with“ holding communion.”
non-observance to the Asiatics; yet never were any, on account of this diversity, cast out of the church. But the Presbyters who preceded you, and did not keep the day, sent the Eucharist to the others who did. And when blessed Polycarp went on a journey to Rome in the time of Anicetus, and they had some little difference about other matters, they immediately dropped it for the sake of peace; and would by no means cherish contention on this head. Anicetus could not, indeed, persuade Polycarp to relinquish his observance; as having always kept it with John, the disciple of the Lord, and the other Apostles with whom he had been conversant. Nor did Polycarp persuade Anicetus to adopt it, as he pleaded for the necessity of retaining the custom of the Presbyters who had gone before him. Yet while things were in this state, they held communion with each other. And in the church, Anicetus, from pure respect, yielded to Polycarp the dispensation of the Eucharist, and they amicably separated from each other; and the peace of the whole church was preserved, both by those who kept the day, and those who did not."* Thus Irenæus.
* The importance of this document, on several accounts, will be deemed a sufficient apology for accompanying it with the original, notwithstanding its length.
Ου γας μονον αερα της ημερας εστιν ή αμφισβητησις, αλλα και περι του
In the next century there was a keen controversy concerning the validity of baptism administered by heretics, as well as concerning their readmission into the Catholic church. Stephanus, bishop of Rome, had acted with hauteur and even violence towards the celebrated Cyprian. This drew from Firmilianus, bishop of Cæsarea
ειδους αυτου της νηστείας. Οι μεν γαρ οιονται μιαν ημερας δειν αυτους νηστευειν· δι δε δυο, οι δε και πλειονας· οι δε τεσσαρακοντα ωρας, ημερινας τε και νυκτερινας συμμετουσι την ημεραν αυτων. Και τοιαυτη μεν ποικιλία των επιτηρουντων, ου νυν εφ' ημων γεγογυια, αλλα και πολυ προτερον επι των προ ημων, των παρα το ακριβες, ώς εικος, κρατουντων, την καθ' απλοτητα και ιδιωτισμον συνηθειαν εις το μετεπειτα σεποιηκοτων. Και ουδεν έλαττον παντες ουτοι ειρηνευσαν τε, και ειρηνευομεν προς αλλήλους και και διαφωνια της νηστείας την ομονοιαν της πιστεως, συνιστησι.
Και οι αρο Σωτηρος πρεσβυτεροι οι προσταντες της εκκλησιας, ής νυν αφηγή, Ανικητον λεγομεν και Πιον, Υγινον τε και Τελεσφορον, και Ξυστον, ουτε αυτοι ετησησαν, ουτε τους μετ' αυτους επετρεπον. Και ουδεν έλαττον αυτοι μη τηρουντες, ειρηνευον τους απο τον παροικιων εν αις ετηρειτο, ευχομενους προς αυτους, καιτοι μαλλον εναντιον ην το τηρειν τοις μη τησουσι ουδεποτε δια το ειδος τοντο απεβλήθησαν τινες. Αλλ' αυτοι μη τήξουντές οι προ σου αρεσβύτεροι τοις απο των παροικιων τηgoυσιν επεμπον ευχαριστ λιαν. Καιτον μακαριου Πολυκαρπου επιδημησαντος τη Ρωμη επι Ανικηθου, και περι αλλων τινων μικρα σχολες προς αλλήλους, ευθυς ειρηνευσαν, αερι Ιούλου 1ου κεφαλαιου η φιλεμιστησαν7ες εαύλους. Ουτε γας ο Αγική/ος 1ον Πολυκάρπον πεισαι εδυναλο μη Ingειν, άλε μίλα Ιωάννου του μαθήλου Κυρίου ήμων, και λοιπων Ανοσολων οίς συνδιέλειψεν, αει 14ης ηκολα ουτε μην o Πολυκαρσος τον Ανικήλον επεισε ηχειν, λεγονία, την συνηθειαν των
αυλου πρεσβύθερων οφελειν καλεχειν. Και τουλων ουτως εχούλων, εκοινωνησαν εαυτοις: και εν τη εκκλησία παρεχώρησε την ευχαριστιαν Ιω Πολύκαρπω, κατ' εντροαην δηλονότι, και μεθ' ειρηνης απ’ αλληλων απηλλάγησαν, πασης της εκκλησιας ειρηΤην εχονίων και 7ων Ιησουίλων, καιων μη ημουνίων. IREN. ap. Euseb. Η. Ε. Ι. VI. c. 24. Τ. Ι. p. 246-249.
Ed. Reading, 1720.
in Cappadocia, about A. D. 256, a letter to Cyprian, in which is the following statement.
“ But that they who are at Rome do not entirely observe all things which have been handed down from the beginning; and that they appeal in vain to Apostolic authority for their own usages, any one may know from the fact of his seeing that there are some differences among them about the days on which the Paschal feast” (before Easter)" is to be kept; and about many other particulars of divine worship; and that they have not precisely the same observances there as prevail in Jerusalem. So likewise, in a very great number of other provinces, many things vary according to the diversity of place and people ; but nevertheless these variations have at no time infringed the peace and unity of the Catholic church : which Stephanus has now dared to do; breaking that
which his predecessors always maintained with you,” (the African churches) “ in mutual love and honour."*
* Eos autem qui Romæ sunt non ea in omnibus observare quæ sunt ab origine tradita, et frustra Apostolorum auctoritatem prætendere; scire quis etiam inde potest, quod circa celebrandos dies paschæ, et circa multa alia divinæ rei sacramenta, videat esse apud illos aliquas diversitates ; nec observari illic omnia æqualiter quæ Hierosolymis observantur. Secundum quod in ceteris quoque plurimis provinciis, malta pro locorum ot bominum diversitate variantur; nec tamen prop