Background Image
Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  449 / 470 Next Page
Basic version Information
Show Menu
Previous Page 449 / 470 Next Page
Page Background

INDEPENDENCE

OF CHURCHES.

401

ends.

This probably they

did

at

first

in a

free way,

without

rule,

ac-

cording

to

occasion, as

prudence

suggested,

but

afterwards,

by

confe-

deration

and

consent, those conventions were formed

into method,

and regulated by certain

orders established by

consent;

whence arose

an

ecclesiastical

unity

of

government within certain precincts, much

like

that

of

the

united

states

in

the

Netherlands

;which

course was

very

prudential, and

useful for preserving

the truth

of religion

and

unity

of faith against heretical

devices

springing

up

in

that

free

age,

for

maintaining

concord

and

good correspondence

among Christians,

together with

a

harmony in manners and discipline:

for

that

other-

wise

Christendom

would have been

shattered and crumbled into

numberless parties, discordant

in

opinion

and

practice,

and

conse-

quently alienated in

affection,

which

inevitably, among most men,

follows

difference of opinion

and

manners,

so

that

in short time

it

would

not

have appeared what Christianity

was,

and

consequently

the

religion, being overgrown

with

differences

and

discords,

must have

perished.

Thus

in the

case

about admitting

the

Lapsi* to

communion,

St

Cyprian relates,

"

When the persecution"

of Decius

"

ceased,

so

that

leave

was now

given us to

meet in

one place

together,

a

considerable

number

of bishops, whom

their

own

faith and

God's protection had

preserved sound

and entire,"

from

the

late

apostasy

and

persecution,

" being

assembled,

we

deliberated

of

the

composition

of

the matter

with

wholesome

moderation,"

&c.'

" Which thing

also

Agrippinus

of blessed memory,

with his other

fellow

-

bishops, who

then

governed

the

church

of

Christ

in the

African

province and in Numidia, established, and, by

the

well

-

weighed exa-

mination of the

common advice

of them all together,

confirmed

it "'

Thus

it

was

the

custom

in

the

churches

of Asia, as

Firmilian tells

us

in

these

words:

"

Upon

which

occasion

it

necessarily

happens

that

every year

we,

the

elders

and

rulers,

come

together to regulate

those things which

are committed to our

care,

that

if

there

should be any

things

of

greater moment,

by

common advice

they

be determined.

"3

Yet

while

things

went thus, in order to common

truth

and

peace,

* Those

who

had

lapsed

into

heresy, apostasy, or crime.

En.

'

Persecution

sopita, cum

data

esset

facultas in unum

conveniendi,

oopiosus episco-

porum numerus,

quos

integros

et

incolumes

fide

sua

ac Domini

tutela

protexit,

in unum

convenimus,

et scripturis

diu

ex

utraque parte

prolatis, temperamentum salubri

mode

-

ratione libravimus,

&c.

Cypr.,

Ep. lii.

ad Antonia

».

Quod quidem

et Agrippinus

boom

memori

vir, cum

ce=teris coepiscopis

suis,

qui

illo tempore

in provincia Africa et Numidia

ecclesiam Domini

gubernabant,

statuit

et

librato

consilii communis examine

firmavit.

Cypr.,

Ep. lxxi. ad

Quint.

Qua ex causa necessario

apud

nos fit,

ut

per singulos

annos seniores

et

prsepositi

in

unum

conveniamus,

ad

disponenda

ea

gum

curet

nostrse commissa

sunt,

ut

si

qua

gra

viora

sunt

communi consilio

dirigantur,

&c.

Cypr.,

Ep. lxxv.

vol..

I.

26