(XVIII.) ROME AND THE AFRICANS.

On entering the fifth century, when the materials for investigation become more abundant Mr. Rivington undertakes to "show that the Church of North Africa in the days of St. Augustine held that the bishop of Rome was the supreme governor of the Church under Christ by His Divine appointment." Let us see how this thesis is maintained.

(1) First we find the diocesan synod of Jerusalem taking up the question of Pelagianism at the instance of the young Spanish priest Orosius. It was a Western question, for which Eastern minds were not prepared; and it was natural, therefore, that the bishop John and his priests should agree to refer it to Innocent I., and to adopt his decision. [1] But on second thoughts, John brought the case before a synod

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of Palestinian bishops, who exhibited their unpreparedness for the task which they undertook by accepting the disingenuous explanations of Pelagius in the absence of his accusers. On hearing of this result, the African bishops met at Carthage, where, four years previously, Celestius, the keen-witted associate of Pelagius, had been condemned, and where the question as to the Fall and as to grace excited the deepest interest. What wonder if this Council wrote to Innocent, expressing its hope that the decisions already given in Africa might be upheld by the apostolicae sedis auctoritas? The letter assumes that Pelagianism is a heresy, and tells Innocent that he ought to anathematise it. The Numidian prelates, including St. Augustine, met soon afterwards at Milevis; their letter to Innocent is much in the same tone; but when they refer to his auctoritas as drawn de sanctarum Scripturarum auctoritate, they do not mean, as our author assumes, that his Papal right to decide such questions was "of Divine institution," but that his teaching is sure to be based on the Scriptural grounds to which they have just been referring. [2] However, Mr. Rivington

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relies chiefly on Innocent's own replies as if they had been simply accepted by the African Church. "From Peter has proceeded the episcopate itself and the whole authority of that title. [3] ... The Fathers decreed, by a judgment not human but Divine, that nothing done in remote provinces should be considered final until it came to the knowledge of this see, so that any just decision should be confirmed by its entire authority,

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and the other Churches should take from it [4] what they ought to enjoin," etc. Swelling words these, which it would have been impossible for Innocent to verify: the "Fathers" had never made any such decree, [5] and if "this one rescript contains the teaching of the Vatican Council entire," that teaching rests - as indeed we have already seen - on apocryphal history. The plain English of the matter is that Innocent, in true Roman fashion, was interpreting an application as broadly as suited him, and adding a broad assertion to match. But did the African bishops commit themselves to these statements by the mere fact of not challenging them? Consider their position they did really ascribe to the see of Rome, as "Apostolic [6] and Petrine," a very great weight and a very unique dignity; their object was to secure its "auctoritas" on their side against Pelagianism; they would not in such circumstances, feel bound to criticise its language about itself, but would dwell on its Catholic

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view of the question at issue. Some phrases of St. Augustine may be considered in a footnote. [7] But we must give full prominence to our author's daring, and twice repeated, defence of "Roma locuta est, causa finita est," as no more than "the exact equivalent" of certain words of St. Augustine (pp. 291, 317; cf 360). What words? He gives a fair enough translation of - "Jam enim de hac causa [i.e. Pelagianism] duo concilia missa sunt ad sedem apostolicam: inde etiam rescripta venerunt: causa finita est." [8] He tells us that it has been "customary" to represent the words

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which we have italicised by the formula in question, which he describes as doing them full justice - although it gives no hint whatever of the purport of what precedes them as to the reports of two Councils, to which Rome's utterance was a reply. So then, to suppress one of the elements in a process, and to ascribe the whole result to the other, is, in Roman eyes, a customary" and a legitimate way of using a document for a controversial end. In Anglican eyes, it is a scandalous offence against truth, and one of a numerous class of "signs" against Rome. [9]

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But Zosimus succeeded Innocent; and Celestius "deceived" him, but how? First, he gave in an evasive written statement, in which he did not retract the heresy imputed to him, but did submit himself to "the judgment of the Apostolic see." Mr. Rivington seems afraid of quoting from the extant fragments of this libellus: it contained a denial of peccatum ex traduce, which would be understood to mean a denial of original sin. Zosimus held a solemn inquiry; he asked Celestius whether his paper represented his real mind - which was to acknowledge it to be, as far as it went, satisfactory. He did extract from Celestius a condemnation of errors imputed to him, "according to the condemnation of them by Pope Innocent;" but nothing more explicit could be obtained, and Zosimus, as if still puzzled, adjourned the case, but then very inconsistently wrote to the African bishops, describing Celestius' faith as "entirely sound, expressly combining his oral statement with his libellus, which was, on one point, at least suggestive of heresy, and declaring that statements "so plain and open should leave no doubt in their minds." [10] He next took

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account of a long and yet more pointedly evasive paper sent by Pelagius, containing no retractation, but rather an implicit reassertion of his theory, together with a request to be corrected, if in error, by him "who held both the faith and the see of Peter." Again Zosimus was taken in; he wrote, in terms of yet stronger remonstrance, to the Africans. "The letter of Pelagius had most abundantly cleared him;" [11] he and Celestius were men of "entirely sound faith," had "never been separated from Catholic truth," had been victims of false accusation and hasty censure, such as even the cautious equity of secular tribunals should have taught ecclesiastics to avoid. Mr. Rivington slurs over these points, and professes to rely on St. Augustine's account as "answering by anticipation" what Dr. Pusey has said on the case in the second part of his Eirenicon. [12] But the fact remains, that

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Zosimus (covering his virtual retreat under something very like bluster [13]) assured the Africans that he had not really taken a final step, tried to explain away his approval of Celestius, and afterwards, in a "Tractoria," or circular letter (which, one would conjecture, was written for him), absolutely condemned both Pelagius and Celestius. And before his change of mind could have been known in Africa, a large council met at Carthage (May I, 418) and passed several stringent decrees against Pelagianism. Two

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years later, Augustine endeavoured to meet the Pelagian charge of tergiversation against the Roman clergy by minimising their bishop's previous mistake, as if he had but provisionally or contingently acquitted the accused persons on the faith of their promise to accept his own decision. [14] But this will not pass. Augustine could not excuse Zosimus by ignoring some of his most inappropriate words. It was not simply on the ground of docility, or, as Mr. Rivington says, of their "profession of amendment" (a rather equivocal phrase), but on something more - on the ground of their written statements - that he had vindicated the orthodoxy of Pelagius and Celestius; and although he was not professing to teach the Church ex cathedra, he did for the time, through ignorance and carelessness, acquit men whose language would have been intelligible enough to any one who understood the theological issue. Is this case, then, an illustration of the "charisma" of Popes for the

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guardianship of Christian doctrine? Does it justify such a section-heading as "St. Zosimus' Support of the Faith"?

(2) The other African case is that of a wretched offender whom Rome was so imprudent as to patronise; and Zosimus reappears upon the scene. Apiarius, an African priest, deposed and excommunicated for gross offences, goes to Rome, and is upheld by Zosimus, who, being at the time malcontent with the African church, demands that the appellant's own bishop shall reinstate him. The African Council of May 1 met this interference by forbidding any clerics to carry an appeal out of Africa. [15] Thereupon Zosimus, according to Mr. Rivington, commissioned his legate, Faustinus, to impress upon the Africans that the principle of his procedure had been included in the Niccne canons" (p. 297) - a wording calculated to impress upon" the reader that what this "Pope" called Nicene was Nicene. In fact, Zosimus affirmed in the instructions to his legates, that the Nicene Fathers "said" [16] - then followed one of the canons known as Sardican

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sanctioning an appeal on a bishop's part to "the most blessed bishop of Rome." Another of these instructions made the like claim of Nicene authority for a Sardican rule allowing a cleric to appeal from his own bishop to "neighbouring bishops," a phrase which Rome would strain to include her own bishop. The former of these provisions would not directly touch the case of Apiarius; but the bishops who conferred with the "legates" in September, 418, were unable to say "It is a Sardican canon," for they knew not the true history of the Sardican Council; but they told Zosimus that they would abide by whatever was Nicene. On inquiry at Carthage, the Africans found that the canon produced was not in their own copies of the Nicene canons; [17] and when Faustinus repeated the citation on behalf of Boniface I., the successor of Zosimus, at the Council of May 25, 419, it was resolved to ascertain the Nicene text by inquiring at Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch, [18] the

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bishop of Rome being requested to do the like on his own part. [19] In the interim the canon as quoted by Faustinus was to be observed. [20] A letter was accordingly sent to Boniface. In a very short time, it appears, authenticated copies were obtained from two of the great Eastern sees; [21] and, of course, the canon about appeals to

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Rome was conspicuous by its absence. But that is nothing to Mr. Rivington: he considers "the most satisfactory theory" on the subject to be simply this, that the Eastern text of the Nicene canons had been mutilated by those "busy forgers" the Arians (p. 473; cf. pp. 165, 181, 385).

But when the information thus obtained was transmitted to Boniface at the end of 419, did the African Church suddenly throw up its case and sanction episcopal appeals to Rome? So it is maintained, on the ground that, three years afterwards, Antony, the unworthy bishop of Fussala, appealed to Boniface against a sentence which had deprived him of his episcopal jurisdiction. Boniface, as might be expected, favoured the appellant: and Augustine wrote to his successor, Celestine, piteously entreating that Antony might not be supported by civil or military "powers" employed to reimpose his presence on Fussala. This was in 423. [22] But

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in the very next year, as Hefele dates it, [23] the African Church returned to the subject when the question of Apiarius had again become urgent. The council of 419 had accepted the profession of repentance, and restored him to his priestly functions. He had relapsed, had been again deposed, had renewed his application to Rome, and, as Mr. Rivington ventures to think, had been "unhappily absolved" by Celestine. Hereupon, a council met at Carthage, which put an end to any provisional acquiescence in the demands of Rome on the subject of appeals. Faustinus reappeared as "legate," and tried to bully the African bishops into receiving Apiarius ; but they insisted on a full inquiry, which extracted a full confession from this scandalous client of three Roman bishops. Then it was that the Council spoke out. The famous lqtter beginning "Optaremus," and addressed to Celestine, is a great annoyance to Ultramontanes, and our author has recourse to two expedients: (1) While treating it as genuine, as

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"written by the Africans," he contends that it does not "oppose the principle of Papal jurisdiction" [24] (p. 299), but only objects to its exercise, in Africa, by legates a latere, like Faustinus, instead of by a "commission" of African bishops [25] - and to a "hasty and undue reversal" of African decisions; or (with a parenthetical "if it is genuine") he represents "Africa as pleading" by it "for a court of first instance of a more satisfactory nature, which would diminish their attendance at Rome" (p. 119; observe the suggestio in "diminish"). (2) Then he shifts his ground.

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It is probably spurious - "the gravest suspicion rests on" it; and in a later context (for this author's scepticism vires acquirit eundo) it is roundly declared "to have every possible mark of forgery" (pp. 303, 474). [26] The motive

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for this twofold and broadly incoherent criticism is obvious: the letter insists that all Church matters ought, in all reason, and on Nicene principles, to be settled by the native Church authorities; [27] it absolutely denies any distinction, on this point between the cases of bishops and of clergy; it dwells on the impossibility of securing a due examination of witnesses before a foreign tribunal; and it warns Celestine against a course [28] which would "introduce into the Church the smoky

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arrogance of the world," an expansion of a phrase used as to the Roman deputy in the letter to Boniface. And this may suffice about the Church of Africa.

Notes

[1] "Universi quod ille decerneret secuturi" (Oros, Apol. 6).

[2] The words, we are told, "ought to be written over every page of these treatises which endeavour to enlist the witness of 'the church of North Africa in the days of St. Augustine' against the supremacy of the holy see" p. 287). We can have no objection, provided they are given with their context. Earlier in the letter (Aug. Ep. 176.3) we find, "Quae contra sanctas scripturas plurima disserunt." So the council of Carthage quotes some texts about grace, referring to "numberless" others which might be gathered "de scripturis omnibus," and then almost apologises for mentioning the texts cited "quae majore gratia de sede apostolica praedicas" (Ep. 175.3).

[3] So to the Milevitan council: "All our fellow-bishops are bound to refer to none but Peter - that is, the author of their name and office" (Ep. 182). In the case of St. Chrysostom Innocent knew that no such claims would pass with the East. But Mr. Rivington misrepresents some words in his letter to five individual African prelates (Ep. 183.2). He does net say "that his sentence will have its effect in whatever part of the world Pelagius may be;" but that wherever any Pelagians may be, he "believes that they will easily be set right when they hear of the condemnation" of their leader. The Latin is unmistakeable. Mr. Rivington has combined the opening reference to what Pelagius, "wherever he was," had formerly done, with the mention of his "condemnation" seen eight lines further. In other words, he has not read the sentence through. The letters are Innoc. Epp. 24-26.

[4] Here, in a parenthesis, Rome is assumed to be the fountain-head of all churches. Such is Roman "accuracy."

[5] The language goes far beyond the provisions called Sardican. So does that of Innoe. Ep. 2. 3.

[6] Yet Augustine recognises a plurality of apostolic sees in C. Faust. xxviii. 2 ; C. litt. Petil. ii. 118.

[7] The statement that Innocent had "replied ad omnia in a manner worthy of the bishop of the apostolic see" must be taken with the words preceding, that Rome had been informed by two councils "de hac re," i.e. the discussion as to grace; and individual bishops, Augustine and four others, had also written to him "de ipsa causa" (Ep. 186. 2). "The Lord's testimony," which Augustine says (C. Jul. i. 13) Innocent "used," was, not any "Petrine" text, but the great saying prophetic of the Eucharist (John vi. 53).

[8] Serm. 131. 10, preached September 23, 417, before Augustine could know of Zosimus' letter in favour of Celestius, which must have been a sore disappointment to him. Gratry, in his second letter, charged the archbishop of Malines with assigning the "Roma locuta est," etc., to Augustine, and numbers it among the false passages "put in circulation by the ignorance and audacity of a school of error." It is important to observe that twenty-four years earlier Augustine had said to the Donatists, "Olim jam causa finita est, quod vos non statis in pace," i.e. because they had broken off from Church unity (Ps. c. part. Donati, 37).

[9] See a striking article in the Church Quarterly Review, vol. xxviii. p. 35 ff. entitled, "Certain Graver Aspects of the Roman Position;" and see p. 358 of the same volume, on falsified quotations. In 1849 Posey wrote, "When the passages of the Fathers" (adduced on the Roman side) "are spurious, this makes things worse; and this is a further difficulty, that practices grew up through forgeries," etc. (Liddon's Life of Pusey, iii. 208). On such "forgeries" adduced as to "the Glories of Mary," see Christian Rcmembrancer for October, 1855, p. 453 ff. It is difficult to keep this subject quite apart from a certain "Theory of Truthfulness" discussed in the Christ. Remembr. for January 1854. For one fasssous fabrication, which adopted a Donatist libel against St. Marcellinus in order to make up an early testimony to the principle that the pope could not be judged by any man, see Mansi, i. 1257: it was fashioned, apparently, at Rome, in the days of Symmachus; it was introduced into the Roman breviary (April 26) in 1536, and stood there until, thanks to Leo XIII.'s sense of historical truth, it was recently removed. It is needless to dwell on other cases.

[10] Cf. Aug. c. duas Epp. Pel. ii.6; Zos. Ep. 3.3,5.

[11] By way of proving it to be satisfactory, Zosimus remarks that it quite agreed with Celestius' paper. "Omnia quidem paria ... quae Coelestius ante protulerat, continebant" (Zos. Ep. 4.1 ; Mansi, iv. 353).

[12] On Healthful Reunion, p. 219 ff. He notices that Augustine did not treat a formal approval of Pelagianism by the Roman church as "a thing impossible, but as much to be deprecated (quod absit)." One does not see how, if it had happened, "Zosimus would have injured sibi, non sedi apostolicae," as Bossuet persuaded himself (Def. Decl. ix. 35). The assurance with which Mr. Rivington says that "Dr. Pusey is mistaken in nearly every assertion that he makes on this subject" (p. 293), and that "in his handling of that pope's history" we have "the old story of the conflict between science and religion," is really a mental and moral phenomenon. He has inferred the assertion of "the infallibility of the holy see" from Innocent's words, "Following Peter, we know how to condemn ... and to approve" (p. 288). Here, then, is an occupant of "the holy see" "approving," as "completely satisfactory," statements at least suggestive of heresy. Moreover, he claims the language of an African council (about the end of 417), decreeing that "Innocent's sentence from the see of Peter against Pelagius and Celestius should stand, until they plainly acknowledged" the true doctrine. Here the Africans were setting the authority of the late "successor of Peter" against the present - an ingeniously respectful mode of admonishing the latter to reconsider his own position.

[13] Again we have a Roman bishop using language about his own see which, if challenged, he could not possibly have supported by evidence. "Quamvis patrum traditio apostolicae sedi auctoritatem tantam tribuerit, ut de ejus judicio disceptare nullus auderet, idque per canones semper regulasque servaverit" (Zos. Ep. 10.1, March 21, 418).

[14] C. duas Epp. Pel. ii. 5. Tillemont has a curious sentence about this, which ought, perhaps, to propitiate Mr. Rivington: "The charity of St. Augustine, who was not writing a history in which he would have been obliged to represent things just as they were, covers this fault of Zosimus with a modest silence" (xiii. 726). "The excuse goes beyond the words of pope Zosimus" (Pusey, p. 222).

[15] A clause, probably added later, says that bishops had "often been forbidden" to do so. Cf. Mansi, iii. 728; iv. 332.

[16] "Ita dixerunt in concilio Nicaeno," etc. (Mansi, iv. 404).

[17] One of them said afterwards, in the legate's presence, with fine irony, "I don't know how it was, but we did not find these words anywhere in our copies" (Mansi, iv. 404). The speaker was Augustine's intimate friend, the Alypius of his "Confessions."

[18] Faustinus hinted (as we may understand his somewhat dark speech) that it would be sufficient for Rome and Africa to inquire without consulting the Easterns, and that thus "contention" would be avoided. His motive was obvious. But the council did not see it in that light; and Faustinus gave way for the moment, but presently, as Van Espen puts it, "made a fresh attempt negotium ad pontificem trahere" in regard to the other rule about priests or deacons; but he was again put aside.

[19] The Africans do not "imply that they would be guided by Italian custom" (p. 298), as such. The passage in the synodical letter to Boniface is, as Tillemont (xiii. 783) says, "obscure" ("Quae si ibi," etc. ; Mansi, iv. 512). But the drift of it appears to be that they will abide by what is proved to be Nicene.

[20] St. Augustine made a similar "interim" proposal as to the canon about clergy, but Van Espen thinks it was not carried simpliciter (Opp. iii. 276, ed. Lovan. 1753).

[21] The bishops of Constantinople and Alexandria are admitted, in p. 298, to have sent their copies; while "Antioch did not send her canons." Then we are referred to p. 474, where we find that "the supposed letter from St. Cyril and from Atticus, accompanying their copies - ... is obviously a translation from the Latin, suggesting that the original was a Latin forgery, and containing terminology nowhere else found in Cyril's writings." There are two letters in Latin (Mansi, iv. 513). The Greek of Cyril's, at the end of his "Epistles," is only twenty-seven lines long; and its use of the Latinism skriniou is quite coinpatiblc with genuineness. Atticus' letter is also short. But it is interesting to learn that Latins as well as Greeks could "forge" - always provided that they were not Romans! Yet what of the so-called correspondence between African councils and Damasus (Mansi, iii. 430), in which the Africans are made to say that "the decrees of all the fathers had reserved the decision of the highest ecclesiastical affairs to his see," and he is made, in reply, to claim "an episcopal ministry over the universal catholic church"? On the text as authenticated by Atticus, see "Additional Note" at the end.

[22] Ep. 209.9. He quotes i. Pet. v.3. It was years before this, in 418, that Augustine had gone to Mauritania on some "urgent church business enjoined on him by Zosimus." See Aug. Ep. 190.1. The business was probably this very case of Apiarius (Van Espen, Opp. iii. 273).

[23] Tillemont dates the council in 426.

[24] However, five pages further on, it is called "the heated letter against appeals," and is apparently alluded to as "a forged letter which does repudiate the supreme jurisdiction of" Rome (p. 304).

[25] Mansi, iv. 515. Not one word in the letter about a "papal commission" of such bishops. In the sentence which says it is "incredible that God would give the spirit of justice unicuilibet, and deny it to many bishops assembled in council," Mr. Rivington applies "unicuilibet" to Faustinus. But this is against the context, which sets the authority of (1) a provincial council, (2) a council of all Africa, in antithesis to that of "any one you can think of," of whatever rank or position - this individual being regarded as residing "beyond sea," i.e. at Rome; while Faustinus is mentioned as actually present in the African council. And it is only in a subsequent sentence, as if by afterthought, that the plan of a legateship a latere is just referred to as unauthorised by "any synod." It was in the Sardican canon, adduced on Rome's part as "Nicene;" but the Africans had set that canon aside as not Nicene.

[26] The objections taken are very weak. The aggrieved tone is natural under such provocations. Then we are told of the difference between the fifteen names prefixed to the letter and the list of fifteen representatives who were appointed by the council of May, 418 (not "shortly before "), to "represent a universal synod" (p. 304). Now, first, the list at the head of the letter does not "differ altogether" from the earlier list; four names appear in both. "Antonius" may well be, not (as Mr. Rivington repeatedly assumes) the disgraced bishop of Fussala, but the Antonius who signed the Carthaginian letter to Innocent (Mansi, iv. 321). St. Augustine may have been absent, as considering that he had said his say to Celestine. But next, Mr. Rivington forgets that the appointment in 418 was for the business of that year (Mansi, iv. 508; cf. Hefele, ii. 42) and the council of 419 appointed a committee of eighteen to wind up its business, of whom four only had sat on that of 418. The absence of a date proves nothing, for this letter alone remains of the acts of this council; and the letter to Boniface (Mansi, iv. 511 ; see Hefele, s. 122) is also undated. But then, Mr. Rivington, who had made use of that letter in p. 298, considers it to be "suspicious" in p. 474. He says: "Van Espen expresses himself as quite nonplussed in regard to the council from which the letter to Boniface is supposed to have emanated." An ordinary reader would infer that Van Espen doubted the authenticity of the letter. But here Mr. Rivington is in a tangle of errors. He refers to "Jus. Eccl. vii. 10, art. 2, Lovanii, 1766;" a loose reference. It is in his Dissertatio in Synodos Africanas that Van Espen treats of these councils. The council of which he says, "Sat obscurum est cujus loci," is the first held on the affair of Apiarius (Diss. x. art. 2); but he thinks it was at Caesarea in Mauritania (Algiers), where we know that Augustine took part in a meeting of bishops (see above). It is in art. 7 that he comes to the letter to Boniface, and considers it to have been written (by the committee of bishops) after the closing of the council of Carthage, begun May 25, 419 (Opp. iii. 273, 278). And then, as to forgery: on Mr. Rivington's showing, who should forge? The African church, he asserts, acknowledged the "supreme jurisdiction of that see which it called ... the apostolic see" (p. 304). As if that phrase, applied to Rome alone in the West, carried with it the papalist principle, or implied that the Romams bishop was regarded as "the permanent apostle of the Christian Church!" (p. 120). Van Espen considers that the canon of "the 20th council" against "transmarine appeals," read in the Carthaginian council of 525 (Mansi, viii. 644), was the resolution of the council which closed the case of Apiarius.

[27] See Cyprian, Ep. 59. 14, on this principle.

[28] I.e. that of sending Roman clerics to carry out his orders in Africa. The reading should be, "Executores etiam clericos vestros quibusque petentibus [not 'potentibus,' as in Mansi's text] nolite mittere," etc. Mr. Rivington dwells (p. 359) on "lest we should seem to introduce," etc. But this is a polite way of advising him not to present himself in that light.