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very doubtful by the difficulty of conjecturing what was the Greek original. Gieseler thinks the sentence should read, “ For with this Church [at Rome), on account of its superior originality, or primitiveness,' every Church must agree.” This looks like a very strong statement. But observe the wording of the sentence, and especially its connections. Irenæus does not say that it is necessary to agree with the Roman bishop, but with the Roman Church. Very likely he had the bishop in mind more than any single officer beside ; there is nothing, however, to enforce the conclusion that he would have attached more weight to his decision than to a decision generally agreed upon by the board of presbyters. Even if it be granted that he spoke with special reference to the bishop, the connection shows that he had no reference at all to his official prerogatives. The reference is solely to the precedence which came from superior means of correct information upon the doctrinal contents of Christianity. Irenæus was arguing against the Gnostic heretics. He wished to set forth a corrective to their arbitrary interpretations. He, therefore, pointed to the fact that there were numerous churches in which the apostles had labored, and in which the truths which they had preached had been handed down by a continuous line of successors. Since it would be tedious to mention all these churches, and prove a continuous succession in each of them, he said that he would fix upon one that had enjoyed special ad. vantages for understanding and perpetuating Christian doctrine, — “the very great, the very ancient, and uni

1 ikavutepay ápxiv, vorzüglicher Ursprünglichkeit. (Kirchengeschichte, 1 De Præscript. Hærat., xxxii., xxxvi. 2 Cont. Hær., iii. 3, 3.

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versally known church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul.” He mentioned this church as an eminent example of a class, not as one occupying a wholly exceptional position. He assumed that other apostolic churches were, as a matter of fact, in doctrinal agreement with this. For churches less favored, he indicated that the surest and most convenient way to arrive at pure traditions was to appeal to Rome. Very likely he fixed upon Rome in particular because he wrote in the West, and Rome was the only apostolic church in the West. The animus of his language is indicated by the parallel passage from Tertullian, who asserts that the final appeal, outside of the Scriptures, must be to the churches of apostolic origin and associations; Christians in the East appealing to Smyrna, Corinth, Philippi, and Ephesus, while Christians in Italy could most conveniently refer to Rome. By the obligation to agree with Rome, Irenæus meant, as is shown by his whole line of thought, not a constitutional, but a moral, obligation. The obligation which he affirms was simply the duty to seek for truth at a source where it was most likely to be found, at least infinitely more likely to be found than in the chaotic domain of the Gnostics. Irenæus nowhere concedes a constitutional supremacy to the Roman bishop. He does not even call him the successor of Peter. “The blessed apostles," he says, “having founded and built up the church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy." 2 In one instance he applies the very modest title of presbyters to the succession of Roman bishops. Finally he gave evidence by his conduct that he acknowledged no constitutional supremacy in the Roman prelate, writing a letter of rebuke to the headstrong and intolerant Victor, assuming the same right as he to address the churches, and addressing them counter to his policy. “Not only to Victor," says Eusebius, “but likewise to most of the other rulers of the churches, he sent letters of exhortation on the agitated


As the most flattering tribute from Cyprian to Roman dignity, the following expression may be cited: Petri cathedra atque ecclesia principalis unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est (“the throne of Peter and the chief church, whence sacerdotal unity has arisen").3 A commentary on the meaning of this sentence is provided for us in a more extended passage, which, omitting the fraudulent items interpolated near the end of the sixth century, reads as follows the reference being to Matt. xvi. 18-19; John xxi. 15, xx. 21): “Although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power, and says, “As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you: Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whosesoever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted unto him; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they shall be retained ;' yet that He might set forth unity, He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one. Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honor and power; but the beginning proceeds from unity, which one Church, also, the Holy Spirit in 1 Euseb., v. 24.

8 Epist. liv., Ad Cornelium.

3 Ibid.


the Song of Songs designated in the person of our Lord, and says, “My dove, my spotless one, is but one.'” 1 Had we only these passages before us, the intelligent conclusion would be, that Cyprian was dealing in types and figures when he connected the idea of ecclesiastical unity with Peter and the Roman Church; that he was speaking of them, not as factors in the actual constitution and government of the Church, but as the chosen means of a symbolical representation of Church unity. His line of thought amounts to this: Peter received no more authority than the other apostles, but Christ made an earlier mention of his authority in order that he might serve as an image of ecclesiastical unity. The worth of the whole representation is well expressed by Barrow, who says, “I can discern little solidity in this conceit, and as little harm.”But if the passages in Cyprian which lean most toward Rome are thus void of any real acknowledgment of a constitutional supremacy in the Roman bishop or Church, the unimpaired force of other passages must convince a candid mind, beyond all shadow of doubt, that Cyprian did not even dream of such a supremacy. He plainly regarded the bishops as one great fraternity, appointed to conserve the unity of the Church; each, while having his own more definite sphere of labor, inhering in the whole body, and all standing upon a substantial equality. His language in immediate connection with that quoted above is suggestive of this stand-point. “This unity,” he says, “we

, ought firmly to hold and assert, especially those of us that are bishops who preside in the Church, that we may also prove the episcopate itself to be one and undivided. The episcopate is one, each part of which is held by each one for the whole." The statement, however, most clearly setting forth the equality of bishops, is found in his address to a council convened at Carthage to consider the question of the re-baptism of heretics. In this he says to his brother bishops: “It remains, that upon this same matter each one of us should bring forward what we think, judging no man, nor rejecting any one from the right of communion, if he should think differently from us. For neither does any of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops, nor by tyrannical terror does any compel his colleague to the necessity of obedience; since every bishop, according to the allowance of his liberty and power, has his own proper right of judgment, and can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another." This language, since it

1 De Unitat. Ecclesiæ. 2 Treatise of the Pope's Supreinacy.

" was uttered with special reference to the attempts of the Roman bishop Stephen 1 to force his views upon the North African Church, is a clear and absolute denial of any constitutional supremacy in the Roman bishop over the Church at large. And Cyprian's conduct throughout was in harmony with his address to the council. On the question of re-baptism, he refused to yield an iota to the demands of Stephen. In connection with another matter, also, he denied any superior jurisdiction in the Roman bishop, and counselled the Spanish Church not to reverse their action and restore some unworthy bishops (Basilides and Martialis) who had betrayed the authorities at Rome into espousing their cause. “ Neither can it rescind,” he wrote, “an ordination rightly

1 Hefele is forced to suspect here an "Anspielung auf Papst Stephan.” (Concliengeschichte, $ 6.)


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