degrees and titles, saueryng more of ambition, then of persecution, geueth me verely to suppose this Epistle not to be written by this Stephen, but by some other man, either of that name, or of some other tyme, when the Churche began to be satled in more prosperitie, and orders therein to be taken, for euery man to know his degree and limites of his authoritie, accordyng as is specified by the vj. and vij. Canon of Nicene Councel, decreyng of the same matter.[Back to Top]
The like estimation may be conceiued also of the seuenth Canon of the sayd Epistle: where he willeth and appointeth all causes iudiciarie to be decised and determined within the precinct of their owne proper Prouince, and not to passe ouer the boundes therof, MarginaliaLawfull to appeale to Rome. vnlesse (sayth he) the appeale be made to the Apostolicall sea of Rome; which sauoreth in my nose, rather of a smacke of Poperie, then of the veyne of Christianitie, especiall in these tymes, duryng this terrible persecution among the Bishops of Christ. And thus much of the second decretall Epistle of Stephanus: although of the first Epistle also written to Hilarius, somethyng may be sayd, MarginaliaVestimentes and holy vessels seruyng for the aultare. as where he speaketh in the sayd Epistle of holy vestimentes, and holy vessels, and other ornamentes of the aulter, seruyng to diuine worshyp, and therefore not to be touched nor handled of any man, sauyng of Priests alone. Concernyng all which implementes, my opinion is this, that I thinke the Churche of Rome not to haue bene in so good state then, that either Stephanus or Sixtus before him beyng occupied about other more earnest matters, and scarse able to hide their owne heades, had any mynde or cogitation to study vpon such vnnecessary inuentions, seruyng in publicke Churches. Neither do I see how the Heathen in those dayes would haue suffered these ornamentes to be vnconsumed, whiche would not suffer the Byshops them selues to liue amongest them. Notwithstandyng Isidorus and Polydorus iudge the contrarye. Betwene this Stephen, and Cyprian Byshop of Carthage was a great contention, about rebaptising of heretickes, whereof more hereafter (Christ wyllyng) shall be sayd.[Back to Top]
Beside these byshops aboue specified, diuers other there were also sent into banishment vnder the forenamed Emperours Gallus and Volusianus, as appeareth by Dionysius writyng to Hermammon, on this wise: that Gallus not seyng the euill of Decius, nor foreseyng the occasion of his seduction and ruine, stumbled also him selfe at the same stone, lying open before his eyes. MarginaliaByshops banished in the tyme of Gallus. For at the first beginnyng whē his Empire went prosperously forward, and all thynges went luckely with him, afterward he draue out holy men which prayed for his peace and safegarde, and so with them reiected also the prayers which they made for him. &c. Eusebius. Lib. 7. cap. 1. Otherwise of any bloudshed, or any Martyrs that in the tyme of this Emperour were put to death, we do not read.[Back to Top]
MarginaliaGallus and Volusianus Emperours slayne. After the raigne of which Emperour Gallus and of his sonne Volusianus, beyng expired, who raigned but. ij. yeares: Emelianus which slewe them both by ciuill sedition, succeeded in their place, who raigned but three monethes, & was also slayne. MarginaliaEmelianus emperor three monethes. Next to whom Valerianus, and his sonne Galienus were aduaunced to the Empire.[Back to Top]
MarginaliaValerianus & Galienus his sonne Emperours.
Persecution ceased for a tyme. About the chaungyng of these Emperours, the persecution which first began at Decius, and afterward slaked in the tyme of Gallus, was now extinguished for a tyme, partly for the great plague raignyng in all places, partly by the chaunge of the Emperours, although it was not very lōg. MarginaliaThe good begynnyng of Valerian. For Valerianus in the first entraunce of the Empire for the space of. iij. or foure yeares, was right courteous and gētle to the people of God, and well accepted to the Senate. Neither was there any of all the Emperours before him, no not of thē which openly professed Christ, that shewed him selfe so louyng & familiar towarde the Christians as he dyd: in so much that (as Dionysius writyng to Herman doth testifie) MarginaliaEx Dionysio citāte
Euseb. Lib. 7. cap. 10. & Nicepho. Lib. 6. cap. 10. all his whole court was replenished wt holy Saintes & seruaūts of Christ, and godly persons, so that his house might seeme to be made a Church of God. But by the malice of Sathā, through wicked coūsaile these quyet dayes endured not very long. MarginaliaWicked counsayle what euill it doth. For in processe of tyme this Valerianus beyng charmed or incensed by a certaine Egyptian, a chief ruler of the Heathen Synagoge of the Egiptians, a maister of the Charmers or inchaūters, who in deede was troubled, for that he could not do his Magical feates for the Christians, was so farre infatuated and bewitched, that through the destestable prouocations of that deuilish Egyptian, he was wholy turned vnto abhominable Idoles, and to execrable impietie, in sacrificing young infantes, & quarteryng their bodyes, and deuidyng the intrals of children new borne: and so proceedyng in his furie, moued the eight persecution agaynst the Christians, whom the wicked Egyptian could not abyde, as beyng the hynderers and destroyers of hys Magicall enchauntings, about the yeare of the Lord. 259.
The Foxe Project was not able to complete the commentary on this section of text by the date by which this online edition was compiled (23 September 2008).
MarginaliaThe eight persecution.
The chief executours of this persecution. IN the which persecution the chief administers and executours were Emilianus President of Egypt, Paternus and Galerius Maximus Proconsuls in Aphrica. Bergomensis also maketh mention of Paternus Vicegerent of Rome, and of Perennius. Vincentius speaketh also of Nicetius, and Claudius Presidentes. &c.
MarginaliaThe speciall causes of this persecution. What was the chief originall cause of this persecution, partly is signified before, where mention was made of the wicked Eyptian. But as this was the outward and politicall cause: so S. Cyprian sheweth other causes more speciall, and Ecclesiasticall, in his. iiij. booke, Epistle. 4. MarginaliaCypria. Lib 4. Epist. 4. whose wordes be these: But we (sayth he) must vnderstand and confesse, that this turbulent oppression and calamitie, which hath wasted for the most part all our whole company, and doth dayly consume, riseth chiefly of our owne wickednes & sinnes: MarginaliaThe sinnes of the Christians cause of persecution. while we walke not in the way of the Lord, nor obserue his preceptes left vnto vs for our institution. The Lord obserued the will of his father in all pointes: but we obserue not the will of the Lord, hauyng all our mynde and study set vpon lucre and possessions, geuen to pride, full of emulation and dissension, voyde of simplicitit and faythfull dealyng, renouncyng this world in word onely, but nothyng in deede, euery man pleasyng him selfe, and displeasing all other. And therfore are we thus scourged, and worthely. For what stripes and scourges do we not deserue, when the cōfessours thēselues (such as haue byd the triall of their confession) and such as ought to be an exāple to the rest of well doyng, do keepe no discipline? And therfore because some such there be, proudly puft vp with this swellyng and vnmanerly braggyng of their confession, these tormētes come: such as do not easely send vs to the crowne, except by the mercy of God, some beyng takē away by quicknes of death, do preuent the tediousnes of punishment. These thynges do we suffer for our sinnes and desertes, as by the Lordes censure we haue bene forewarned, saying: If they shall forsake my law, and will not walke in my iudgementes: If they shall prophane my institutions, and will not obserue my preceptes, I wil visite their iniquities with the rod, and their transgressions with scourges. These rods & scourges (sayth he) we feele, whiche neither please God in our good deedes, nor repent in our euil deedes. Wherfore the sayd Cyprian, addyng this exhortacion with all: exhorteth them to pray and intreate from the bottome of their hart and whole mynde, the mercy of God which promiseth, sayngng: but yet my mercy I wil not scatter from them. &c. Let vs aske, and we shall obtaine, and though (sayth Cyprian) it be with tariance, yet for somuch as we haue grieuously offended, let vs continue knockyng, for to him that knocketh, it shalbe opened, if our prayers sighyngs, and weepyngs knocke stil at the doore with continuance, and if our prayers be ioyned together with brotherly agreement. &c.[Back to Top]
MarginaliaDiscord and diuision amōg the brethren. Moreouer, what vices were then principally raygnyng among the Christians, he further specifieth in the sayd Epistle: which chiefly were diuision and dissension among the brethren. For when it was spoken to them in a vision, by these wordes: Petite & impetrabitis, that is: Pray, and ye shall obtayne, afterward it was required of the congregatiō there present, to direct their prayers, for certaine persons assigned to them by name: but they could not agree and condescende all together of the names and persōs of thē which they should pray for, but were dissonant in their consent & petition: which thyng (sayth Cyprian) did greatly displease hym, that spake vnto them: Pray, and ye shall obtaine, for that there was no vniforme equalitie of voyce and hart, nor one simple and ioynt concorde among the brethren, wherof it is writtē in the Psalme. 67. God which maketh to dwell in the house together mē of one accord. &c
MarginaliaPsal. 67. And so by the occasion hereof he writeth vnto them the foresaid Epistle, and moueth them to prayer and mutuall agremēt. For (sayth he) if it be promised in the Gospel, to be graunted what so euer any two consentyng together shall aske, what thē shall the whole Church do agreyng together? or what if this vnanimitie, were among the whole fraternitie? Which vnanimitie (sayth Cyprian) if it had bene then amōg the brethren, non venissent fratribus hæc mala, si in vnum fraternitas fuisset animata, that is: these euils had not happened to the brethren, if the brethren had ioyned together in brotherly vnanimitie. &c.
MarginaliaA visiō foreshewyng persecution to come.
Cyprian. Lib. 4. Epist. 4. After the causes thus declared of this or other persecutions, the sayd S. Cyprian moreouer in the forenamed Epistle (worthy to be read of all men) describeth likewise a certaine vision, wherin was shewed vnto them by the Lord, before the persecution came, what should happen. This visiō