And now we have come to a great name, around which, in this debate on Papal claims, much controversy has gathered. St. Cyprian's view on St. Peter's position should be examined before we consider his action in regard to what he regarded as "Peter's chair." That view is contained in some seven passages. It had been worked out in his mind with great distinctness; he evidently thought it both true and important; it is, in effect, that our Lord, accepting Peter as the spokesman [1] of the Apostles in general, addressed certain words to him individually, by way of emphasising that oneness which He willed to be a characteristic of the Apostolate, of the Church, ant of the Episcopate which, in and for the Church, was


to succeed the Apostolate in such functions as were permanently needful. [2] Peter was thus to represent the Twelve, and in them the future ministry, and the Church which, as Cyprian says in one passage, [3] was "founded on Peter in the commencement (or origin) of its oneness, and" - as the next words (et ratione) may be best understood, "in the expression of," or "bringing out (that oneness)," or else "in the method or order (of that oneness)." [4] So again, "in order to manifest the oneness, or unity, (i.e. as the context


shows, of the Apostolic college) He by His own authority arranged the commencement of that same oneness as (a commencement) beginning with one person. [5] The stress is laid on such words as ratione (unitatis), or manifestaret, which is equivalent to ostendit in a shorter passage. "Upon whom (Peter) He built the Church, and from whom He instituted and showed the commencement of (its) unity." [6] Peter was to be a living object-lesson of the principle of unity - this is the thought. Now, would Cyprian have dwelt on this idea, which some might call fanciful, - would he have talked as Peter's individuality as chosen to illustrate unity, - if he had held the extremely practical view which Roman controversialists struggle to extract from his writings, that Peter exclusively possessed by divine grant some some special and highly important powers, that he was the divinely ordained centre of unity, the single visible head of Apostle and of Christians, by subordination to whom their unity was to be secured, [7] that he was


actually, in truth, the universal spiritual ruler?

The question might well be left to suggest its own answer; but it is Cyprian himself, who, in the great context which Roman interpolations, long used though now abandoned, [8]


showed to be per se inadequate for Roman purposes, adds to his sentence about the "manifestation of unity" in St. Peter the assertion that "the other Apostles were just what Peter was, endowed with an equal share of office [honoris] and of power," although, by Christ's arrangement, "a beginning started from oneness," i.e. from one man; and elsewhere, after saying, in a passage already referred to, that "power to loose was given by the Lord to Peter," he takes care to avoid misconstruction: "And after His resurrection He addresses the Apostles also;" then quotes John xx. 21-23, by way of identifying the power to "remit sins," thus given to all of them, with the power to "loose" promised [9] to one. Here, we


may observe, by the way, the hopeless attempt sometimes made to limit the phrase, "an equal share of power," [10] as if the other Apostles were equal to Peter only in the sacerdotal or in ordinary apostolic powers, or in the jurisdiction which they held "in subordination to his supremacy." [11] This, of course, is to make Cyprian say that their power was not equal to Peter's; whereas he says just the contrary. It is to make him say that Peter had special powers over his brother Apostles; whereas he nowhere even implies it.

At this point we may conclude this brief survey of the Petrine theory of Cyprian, and come to his dealings with the actual Roman Church. He calls that Church principalis: [12] it is purely arbitrary to translate this word by "sovereign," [13]


but it may mean "pre-eminent," i.e. most distinguished or most conspicuous for historic dignity or moral influence, although the next words, "from which (Church) the unity of the priesthood" (i.e. the episcopate) "took its rise," might be heid to favour the other rendering, "primeval:" anyhow, the "episcopal unity" is said to arise out of that Church, because Cyprian, rightly or not, regarded it as the mother of Western Churches: to suppose that he viewed it as the mother of all Churches would be to make him talk sheer nonsense. But did he mean the Roman see exclusively when he spoke of the Novatianist schismatics at Rome as having "turned away fromn the bosom of their root and mother;" when he exhorted Africans bound for Rome to "acknowledge and hold to the root and womb of the Catholic Church ;" when he spoke of himself and his brethren as "holding to the head and root of the one Church"? [14] The context shows


that he was thinking of the Catholic Church herself as such, everywhere present, and represented, of course, at Rome by Cornelius the bishop, and his clergy and laity, as at Carthage by the community of which Cyprian himself was the head; - just as, when speaking of the requirements of a valid Eucharist, he says that any one who has been misled into innovations should "return to the root and origin of the Lord's tradition" [15] - that is, to the original tradition itself; to that which St. Paul had received from the Lord. Again, is he thinking of the Roman see when he speaks of "one chair founded by the Lord upon a rock"? [16] Certainly not, but of the


episcopate which he describes, in the Treatise on Unity, as "one," and the authority of which, as we have seen, he traces to the great Petrine passage in St. Matthew. Nor is it beside the purpose to observe, that when he speaks of his "brother" Cornelius of Rome as having ascended ad sacerdotii sublime fastigium, he explains this phrase in the next line as meaning simply "the episcopate." [17] During the vacancy of the Roman see, he tells the Roman clergy that he "thought it well to abide by their opinion," for the sake, as he adds, of exact co-operation; [18] and they praise him for desiring to act with them, while "conscious that he is responsible to God only as his judge." [19] There is not, in fact, one word in all his correspondence on Roman Church affairs which will admit of being interpreted in a Papalist sense; and he does not shrink from


admonishing Cornelius, when he thinks that the Roman bishop shows signs of weakness in the face of schismatical bluster. [20] As for the case of Marcian, the Novatianist bishop of Arles, it was perfectly natural for Gallic bishops, who had not, in that age, a metropolitan, to write to Stephen of Rome for advice; and equally natural that when Stephen, apparently, hesitated, Cyprian should have been applied to by Faustinus, bishop of Lyons, and should then have admonished Stephen, with not a little of respectful peremptoriness, to write to the Catholics of Arles and to "the province," in order that a Catholic pastor might be substituted for Marcian. [21] But on what grounds does he base his exhortation? Is Stephen to intervene as Supreme Pontiff and universal judge? Not a word of this. The reason expressly given by Cyprian is, that all bishops ought to act under a sense of common interest, in guarding any part of the whole fold from the pestilent influence of a false shepherd. [22] So again, when


two Spanish bishops had compromised their Christian fidelity under persecution, and were guilty of other grave offences, their sees were filled up by the regular action of comprovincial jurisdiction; but they endeavoured to get reinstated, and one of them deceived Stephen of Rome into granting him communion as a bishop. The Spanish Church was perturbed: Cyprian was applied to; he held a Council, and a letter in its name was sent to Spain, [23] insisting that the deposition of the two offenders must be upheld, notwithstanding the action taken by "Stephen our colleague" under false information. To say, as has been said, that the African bishops did not "dispute the principle that the Pope could, where just cause existed, restore a deposed bishop of Spain," is but one of too many reckless attempts to shift the onus probandi. [24] Lastly, on the


question as to the validity or invalidity of heretics' baptism, the fact that the Western Church tradition has for ages pronounced that Cyprian was wrong, and Stephen of Rome was right, does not affect the historic significance of his absolute and persistent opposition to Stephen's plainly expressed view. [25] He wrote individually to an individual bishop, Pompeius, charging the bishop of Rome not only with rashness and incaution, but with "pride, harshness, obstinacy" [26] and implied that Stephen had threatened to withdraw his communion from the Africans. Later, Firmilian of Caesarea in Cappadocia wrote yet more severely, indeed with passionate indignation,


and contrasted Stephen's claim to "succeed Peter on whom the Church was founded" with what, from his standpoint, he regarded as Stephen's constructive tolerance of heresy. [27] St. Cyprian held another Council of more than eighty bishops on Sept. 1, 256, [28] and in his opening speech made a hit at Stephen: "No one of us sets himself up as a bishop of bishops, or constrains his colleagues by the terror that tyranny can inspire to an unwilling obedience," etc. The deputies sent by this synod to Rome were treated by Stephen as under a ban: no Roman Churchman was to open his doors to them; so that they were debarred not only from ecclesiastical fellowship, but from hospitable shelter. This fact is asserted by Firmilian: and he says more - in an apostrophe to Stephen he implies that the latter, in pursuance of his threat, had actually suspended communion with Cyprian, and with all other prelates who took the same line about heretics' baptism. [29] This must have been said


on the warrant of information from Cyprian himself; and it is confirmed by the statement of Dionysius of Alexandria, that Stephen wrote circulars respecting Firmilian and others in Asia Minor, "to the effect that he would not hold communion with them." [30] Did he ever recall this step? There is no ground for thinking so. Did Cyprian, as Mr. Rivington is pleased to suggest, "lead the way in the direction of submission" to Roman authority? [31] There is nothing to support this imagination but some words of Jerome about the Africans "issuing a new decree;" [32] against it there


is the whole tenor of Cyprian's character and conduct, plus the sufficiently decisive fact that the Council of Arles - about sixty-five years before Jerome wrote - found it necessary to legislate "about the Africans," forbidding them in future to "observe their own rule." [33]


[1] It seems clear that Peter replied to our Lord's question as spokesman, and that our Lord thereupon addressed him as being, in point of character, their appointed repreentative. The promise of the keys is explained by Isa. xxii. 22; from this passage it is clear that "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom" is equivalent to "I will make thee My steward." Either, therefore, the keys were not to be held exclusively by St. Peter, or the other apostles were not stewards, which is absurd. See St. Augustine, Serm. 149. 7.

[2] This is fully brought out in Ep. 33, where Cyprian formally comments on Matt. xvi. 19: "Dominus noster ... episcopi honorem et et ecclesiae suae rationem" (systematised order) "disponens ... dicit Petro, 'Ego dico tibi quia tu es Petrus, et super istam petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam ... soluta est in coelis.' Inde per temporum et successionum vices episcoporum ordinatio et ecclesiae ratio decurrit, ut ecclesia super episcopos constituatur, et omnis actus ecclesiae per eosdem praepositos gubernetur." Here, if Cyprian had been a Papalist, he would have added a salvo for the rights of the Church's "sovereign ruler," from whom all bishops derived their commission, and to whom they owed entire obedience.

[3] Epist. 70. 3: "super Petrum, origine" (not, observe, originem) "unitatis et ratione." Mr. Rivington repeatedly mistranslates the first words by identifying Peter with the "origin." "St. Peter is" (i.e. according to Cyprian) "the origin of the Church's unity;" "This origin of unity which Peter was made;" "Peter whom Christ instituted as the origin of unity;" "Our Lord made him the origin" (pp. 55, 61, 464, 467).

[4] Ratio has various shades of meaning in Cyprian's writings.

[5] De Unit. 4.

[6] Ep. 73. 7. He adds, "potestatem istam dedit ut id solveretur," etc.

[7] Mr. Rivington (p. 48, etc.) imagines that Cyprian recognises in St. Peter a special office of headship among and over the Apostles. Thi idea has to be "read into" his words. Ep. 33 shows, on the contrary, that the words, "Thou art Peter," etc., were taken by him to be a commission to the episcopate as such, not to the episcopate as in subjection to the Roman see. Nowhere does he intimate the opinion fathered on him (cf. Rivington, p. 61), that "the chair of Peter (i.e. the Roman see) was the principle of cohesion to the Christian episcopate.
When Cyprian says (Ep. 71. 3), "Nec Petrus quem primum Dominus elegit, et super quaem aedificavit ecclesiam suam ... vindicavit sibi aliquid insolenter ... ut diceret se primatum tenere et obtemperari a novellis ... sibi potius oportere," primatus clearly means seniority. Mr. Rivington misreads this, and mistranslates in the same note (p. 83)
Augustine's words, "primatus apostolorum," "apostolatus principatus," as if they meant primacy or principality over the apostles, whereas the immediate context settles the sense - "a posteriore apostolo Paulo" (De Bapt. ii. s. 2).

[8] Their literary history is given in Treatises of Cypr., Lib. Fath. p. 151. The text, as given by Hartel, quotes Matt. xvi. 18, 19, and proceeds (omitting what Fell adds, "Et iterum eidem post resurrectionem suam dicit, Pasce oves meas"), "Super unum aedificat ecclesiam: et quamvis apostolis omnibus post resurrectionem suam parem potestatem tribuat et dicat. Sicut misit me Pater, etc. (John xx. 21-23), tamen, ut unitatem manifestaret, unitatis ejusdem originem ab uno incipientem sua auctoritate disposuit." At this point it is well to contrast the true text with the falsified, thus: -

"Hoc erant utique et caeteri apostoli quod fuit Petrus, pari consortio praediti et honoris et potestatis: sed exordium ab unitate profiscitur, ut ecclesie Christi una monstretur... Qui ecclesiae renititur et resistit, in ecclesia se esse confidit?"

"Hoc erant utique et caeteri quod Petrus: sed primatus Petro datur, ut una ecclesia et cathedra una monstretur... Qui cathedram Petri, super quam fundata ecclesia est, deserit, in ecclesia se esse confidit?"

A fraud like this requires no comment; but it has well been said as to the genuine passage, "If, in the time of Cyprian, the bishop of Rome had been conceived to be the head of unity and influence of the Church, it is impossible but that our saint would have seized the opportunity of mentioning it: the supremacy of the pope would have been a palmary argument in favour of unity." And this argument, in fact, he does not use.

[9] See Fr. Puller, Prim. Saints, etc., p. 351.

[10] If Cyprian had believed that St. Peter had a supreme jurisdiction over the other apostles, he could not, as an honest man, have written this sentence without a saving clause. The words in the preceding chapter, "Heresies and schisms arise ... because the Head is not sought for," are first of all referred by Mr. Rivington to our Lord as having instituted the Petrine headship, and afterwards to the Roman bishop himself. They refer, in fact, to our Lord as having said to Peter and to the other apostles what Cyprian is about to quote.

[11] Rivington, pp. 61, 462.

[12] Ep. 59. 14.

[13] So Rivington repeatedly; also using the term "ruling," and putting them together (p. 58). He refers to Tertullian as having defined the word (principalis) as meaning that which is over anything (De Anima, 13). But to be over a thing does not necessarily imply "sovereignty." He quotes Cyprian's language about Tertullian, "Give me my master:" but the De Praescr. Haer., where principalitatem is opposed to posteritatem, is a likelier book than the De Anima to have been much in Cyprian's hands.

[14] Epp. 45.1; 48.3; 73.2. Mr. Rivington imagines (p. 464) that in the first passage the "mother" is Cornelius himself, as bishop! If in the second passage the root and womb mean Cornelius, why did not Cyprian say, "We have exhorted them to acknowledge and hold to thee"? He might fitly tell them to "acknowledge" or recognise the communion of Cornelius as Catholic. The third passage is decisive: Cyprian is thinking of the Church Catholic as a whole. Mr. Rivington's pretence that he means "the bishop of Rome who traced to Peter, or perhaps, more strictly speaking, Peter himself, whom they reached through Stephen, and not through Novatian" (p. 85), is clean against the context; the mention of "Novatian" in that passage points to him as head of the Sectarians who were external to the Church. Cp. Cypr. ad Demetr. 2, where "springing up as shoots radicis atque originis tui" means "... from yourself as a root."

[15] Ep. 63.1

[16] Ep. 43.5. Hartel reads "Petrum."

[17] Ep. 55.8.

[18] Ep. 20. 3. Mr. Rivington twists this into, "he submitted his judgment on that question" -that of the lapsed - "to the Roman clergy," because it touched "the dogmatic faith" (p. 86; cp. p. 52: "The aroma of infallibility lingered in the vacant see"). No, it was on a special point, the treatment of penitent lapsi who were dying, and Cyprian simply thought it right to act on the same lines with the Roman clergy. If he "renders to them an account of his action," it is not out of duty to Rome, but because he has been misrepresented.

[19] Ep. 30.1.

[20] Ep. 59.2.

[21] Ep. 68.

[22] "Cui rei nostrum et consulere et subvenire, frater carissime ... Quapropter facere te oportet plenissimas litteras ad coepiscopos nostros," etc. Mr. Rivington glosses this by "letters of plenary authority," "a mandate," "not merely a papal brief, but also a full exposition of principles" (p. 71).
Because Cyprian, again, says that Cornelius and Lucius of Rome censuerunt against Novatianism, and adds, "Quam rem omnes omnino ubique censuimus, because we could not hold a different opinion when in us there was the one Spirit," Mr. Rivington claims this as an expression of his own Church's doctrine on infallibility (p. 72). Rather, it expresses the old sense of solidarity among churches.

[23] Ep.67.

[24] Rivington, p. 75. Nowhere in the letter is this "principle" asserted, or even hinted at. For Stephen's error Cyprian makes allowance, while blaming him to some extent. "Neque enim tam culpandus est ille cui negligenter obreptum est," etc. In p. 73 we are told that Cyprian "nowhere denies the authority of the pope as a matter of principle." Where does he admit it?

[25] When Cyprian and his council told Stephen (Ep. 72.3) that they believed "etiam tibi pro religionis tuae et fidei veritate placere quae et religiosa pariter et vera sunt," Mr. Rivington tries to make placere mean "will be sanctioned by authority," although in the same paragraph the theory of each bishop's independence of action is carefully formulated (p. 88). In Ep. 74.1, Cyprian quotes Stephen's words, "Nihil innovetur," etc.: Mr. Rivington comments, "St. Stephen put St. Cyprian on his obedience" (p. 95). Did Cyprian let himself be "put" in any such position? He had just said that the words quoted were but a specimen of "vel superba, vel ... sibi ipsi contraria, quae imperite atque improvide scripsit."

[26] Ep. 74.

[27] Firmilian, ap. Cyp. Ep. 75.

[28] Reckoned as Cyprian's sixth council, and third on the baptismal controversy. Cf. Hefele, Councils, i. 94 ff. E.T.

[29] "Te a tot gregibus scidisti ... dum enim putas omnes a te abstineri posse, solum te ab omnibus abstinuisti" (Ep. 75.24).

[30] Ws oude ekeinois koinwnhswn (ap. Euseb. vii. 5). This Mr. Rivington translates "as neither about to communicate with them," and adds, " the Greek is simply in the future." Does this use of the future leave the meaning doubtful? Fr. Puller's rendering (to which Mr. Rivington objects) "saying that he would not communicate with them," is equivalent to that of Valesius, "sese ... ab illorum communione discessurum." Mr. Rivington refers to St. Augustine c. Cresc. iii. 3, as saying that the Easterns "corrected their judgment," and afterwards describes them as having "dropped their resistance to the decision of Rome" (pp. 111, 114). St. Augustine speaks of "fifty Eastern bishops," but we have contemporary evidence as to great numbers; and we know that in the fourth century, Cyril of Jerusalem generally, and St. Athanasius with special reference to Arians and many other heretics, denied the validity of heretical baptism (Procatech, 7; Or. c. Ari. ii. 42 ; see Pusey in Tertull. Lib. Fath. p. 286).

[31] Rivington, p. 112.

[32] Adv. Lucif. 23. The statement is not guaranteed by other evidence. So Vallarsi in loc., adding, "Quin et ipsa disputatio inter Donatistas et S. Augustinum tale nihil penitus novit." See Routh, Rell. Sacr. iii. 167.

[33] De Afris, quod propria lege sua utuntur ut rebaptizent, placuit" that baptism administered in the name of the Father, etc., should not be iterated. Mr. Rivington vainly tries to limit this in p. 111: "We know from the council of Arles that some persisted in their erroneous custom." Here "some" is simply his own gloss. It is to this decision of a "plenary council" that Augustine often refers as having settled the question; e.g. De Bapt. i. s.28; ii. 5,14; iv. 8.