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(To Novatian)
(Eus., H. E. vi. 45)

If it was against thy will, as thou sayest, that thou wast promoted,6262Or perhaps “carried on” (to act as thou didst). thou wilt prove this by retiring of thine own accord. It were good to suffer anything and everything so to escape dividing the Church of God. And martyrdom6363Strictly speaking, Novatian’s withdrawal was not very likely to involve actual martyrdom. to avoid schism is no less glorious than martyrdom to avoid idolatry. Nay, it is to my mind greater. In one case a man is a martyr for his own single soul’s sake. But this is for the whole Church. Even now wast thou to persuade or constrain the brethren to come to one mind, thy true deed6464The word is κατόρθωμα (success); perhaps “recovery” would bring out the antithesis to “fall” (σφάλμα) better. were greater than thy fall. This will not be reckoned to thee, the other will be lauded. And if thou shouldest be powerless to sway disobedient spirits, save, save thine own soul.6565Gen. xix. 17 (LXX). I pray for thy health and thy steadfast cleaving to peace in the Lord.


[I have to thank the editors and publishers for leave to reprint the above translation by Archbishop Benson from his Cyprian, p. 142.]

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