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perfected, that Basilides, after the detection of his crimes, and the baring of his conscience even by his own confession, went to Rome and deceived Stephen our colleague, placed at a distance, and ignorant of what had been done, and of the truth, to canvass that he might be replaced unjustly in the episcopate from which he had been righteously deposed."1 Evidently the Bishop of Rome was to Cyprian only that which he names him in the above communication,- a colleague; a colleague possessing high honor on account of his eminent position, but nothing more than a colleague.
Some of the contemporaries of Cyprian gave as conspicuous a denial of the authority of the Roman bishop as that which we have from him. For example, Firmilian, Bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, in a letter written to Cyprian, charged Stephen with pride and audacity, accused him of rebelling against the sacrament and the faith with the madness of contumacious discord, and declared that he had cut himself off from the unity of love, and made himself a stranger in all respects from his brethren.2
A very decisive example of denial of universal jurisdiction in the Roman bishop occurred also in connection with the Easter controversy already mentioned. Polycrates, the venerable Bishop of Ephesus, replying to the demands of Victor, in the name of a synod of bishops, declared plainly that he was not at all alarmed by the things threatened against him, and had no intention whatever of departing from the custom which had been handed down by his predecessors.3
1 Epist., lxvii.
3 Euseb., v. 24.
2 Epist., lxxiv., in Works of Cyprian.
Taking the Church at large, the only primacy accorded to the Roman bishop in the first three centuries was a primacy of honor, or a certain precedence as regards the respect rendered. This was due in some degree to the fact that the Roman was an apostolic church, founded, according to current belief, by the two eminent apostles Peter and Paul. It was due in a much larger degree to the political pre-eminence of Rome. It is no exaggeration to say, that the political importance, the grandeur, and the imperial associations of the city of Rome were the pre-eminent factors in giving origin to the papacy. In the race for episcopal honor and power, the political importance of the various cities outweighed by far every other factor. Jerusalem, the mother of all churches, was for a long time the seat of a subordinate bishopric. The bishop there was of small account because the city was of small account, and rose to importance only as the city rose to importance, and became a favorite pilgrim resort. Antioch, though the first Christian centre after Jerusalem, and the scene of the labors of the very chief of apostles, was compelled to yield the palm to Alexandria. The importance of the see of Antioch became second to that of Alexandria because the city was second. Constantinople, built on the site of an obscure bishopric, overtopped both Antioch and Alexandria in episcopal honor; and her patriarch became well nigh a rival for the Bishop of Rome, simply because Constantinople rose to the greatest political importance of any city in the East. There is no mystery, therefore, about the genesis of the papacy. Before the building of Constantinople, Rome was what no city has been since, the
capital of the civilized world.
From her prestige the
Roman bishop derived prestige. In the midst of tendencies toward ecclesiastical monarchy, he had a start and an advantage enjoyed by no other. The first three centuries, however, witnessed only growing ambition and pretension: they did not witness the beginning of the papacy in the sense of any acknowledgment of a constitutional supremacy in the Roman bishop over the Church at large.
II.- COUNCILS, CANONS, AND CONSTITUTIONS.
The growing sense of a demand for concerted action. found expression at an early date in the assembling of synods, or councils. We find traces of such bodies at the middle of the second century, and during the third they were of frequent occurrence. Still, this period. stands in marked contrast with the following, in that it witnessed no great representative assembly. Its councils were not above the provincial scale; none of them are classed as ecumenical.
In the membership of the councils, the bishops were the main factor. Not unfrequently, it is true, priests and deacons were present, and sometimes laymen were invited; but in most instances the decrees were signed only by the bishops.
Among the occasions for councils in these centuries were the rise of Montanism, the controversy on the time for celebrating Easter, the question respecting the validity of heretical baptism, the anti-trinitarian theories of Paul of Samosata and Beryllus, the disturbance in the Alexandrian Church over the irregular ordination
of Origen, and the exigencies of church discipline, together with different views upon the subject.
The record of some of these councils is almost wholly wanting. With others, especially that held by Cyprian on the subject of re-baptism, and that of Elvira, we have quite ample means of acquaintance. From the latter, which represented the Spanish Church in the year 305 or 306, eighty-one canons have been transmitted. Most of them relate to matters of discipline. Their tone indicates, that in Spain there was at this time more than an average zeal for a strict régime. An item of special interest is a decree in behalf of clerical celibacy, -the first recorded legislation on the subject. The thirty-third canon enjoins upon bishops, presbyters, and deacons abstinence from conjugal relations. The terms used are these: Placuit in totum prohibere epis copis, presbyteris, et diaconibus vel omnibus clericis positis in ministerio, abstinere se a conjugibus suis et non generare filios; quicunque vero fecerit, ab honore clericatus exterminetur.1 The thirty-sixth canon is also noteworthy as forbidding in the churches pictorial representations of objects of worship: Placuit picturas in ecclesia esse non debere, ne quod colitur et adoratur in parietibus depingatur. In the first canon the severe principle is enjoined, that a baptized Christian of mature age, who has lapsed into idolatry, should be denied the communion even in the hour of death, as having been guilty of a capital crime.
While thus councils were developing a code for the
1 The design of the canon is sufficiently obvious, though it is needful to substitute for prohibere a word of opposite meaning, to bring out the sense intended. A like usage may be observed in Canon 80.
guidance of their respective constituencies, a body of instructions, laws, and liturgical formularies was being prepared, which claimed for itself an ecumenical authority as bearing the seal of apostolic teaching and command. This was the so-called Apostolic Constitutions. The eight books of this somewhat elaborate collection no doubt contain much corresponding to actual usage in the early Church. They were written, in the main, before the Council of Nicæa. At the same time, individual statements, in the absence of confirmation from other sources, can be credited with only moderate weight; there being need of proof both that they were not interpolated at a comparatively late date, and also that they represent any thing more than a private opinion.
The Apostolic Canons, sometimes appended to the eighth book of the Constitutions, contain a list of directions for the clergy. The following are some of the more noteworthy provisions: "Let not a bishop, a priest, or a deacon cast off his own wife under pretence of piety" (Can. 6). "Let not a bishop, a priest, or deacon undertake the cares of the world" (Can. 7). "He who has been twice married after his baptism, or has had a concubine, cannot be made a bishop or presbyter or deacon, or indeed any one of the sacerdotal catalogue "(Can. 17). "If any bishop obtains that dignity by money, or even a presbyter or deacon, let him and the person that ordained him be deprived" (Can. 30). "We command that the bishop have power over the goods of the church" (Can. 41). "We do not permit servants to be ordained into the clergy without their masters' consent" (Can. 82). The origin of this col