1. The pastors who had assembled about this matter, prepared by common consent an epistle addressed to Dionysius, bishop of Rome, and Maximus of Alexandria, and sent it to all the provinces. In this they make manifest to all their own zeal and the perverse error of Paul, and the arguments and discussions which they had with him, and show the entire life and conduct of the man. It may be well to put on record at the present time the following extracts from their writing:
2. |To Dionysius and Maximus, and to all our fellow-ministers throughout the world, bishops, presbyters, and deacons, and to the whole Catholic Church under heaven, Helenus, Hymenæus, Theophilus, Theotecnus, Maximus, Proclus, Nicomas, Ælianus, Paul, Bolanus, Protogenes, Hierax, Eutychius, Theodorus, Malchion, and Lucius, and all the others who dwell with us in the neighboring cities and nations, bishops, presbyters, and deacons, and the churches of God, greeting to the beloved brethren in the Lord.|
3. A little farther on they proceed thus: |We sent for and called many of the bishops from a distance to relieve us from this deadly doctrine; as Dionysius of Alexandria and Firmilianus of Cappadocia, those blessed men. The first of these not considering the author of this delusion worthy to be addressed, sent a letter to Antioch, not written to him, but to the entire parish, of which we give a copy below.
4. But Firmilianus came twice and condemned his innovations, as we who were present know and testify, and many others understand. But as he promised to change his opinions, he believed him and hoped that without any reproach to the Word what was necessary would be done. So he delayed the matter, being deceived by him who denied even his own God and Lord, and had not kept the faith which he formerly held.
5. And now Firmilianus was again on his way to Antioch, and had come as far as Tarsus because he had learned by experience his God-denying wickedness. But while we, having come together, were calling for him and awaiting his arrival, he died.|
6. After other things they describe as follows the manner of life which he led:
7. |Whereas he has departed from the rule of faith, and has turned aside after base and spurious teachings, it is not necessary, -- since he is without, -- that we should pass judgment upon his practices: as for instance in that although formerly destitute and poor, and having received no wealth from his fathers, nor made anything by trade or business, he now possesses abundant wealth through his iniquities and sacrilegious acts, and through those things which he extorts from the brethren, depriving the injured of their rights and promising to assist them for reward, yet deceiving them, and plundering those who in their trouble are ready to give that they may obtain reconciliation with their oppressors, supposing that gain is godliness'; --
8. or in that he is haughty, and is puffed up, and assumes worldly dignities, preferring to be called ducenarius rather than bishop; and struts in the market-places, reading letters and reciting them as he walks in public, attended by a body-guard, with a multitude preceding and following him, so that the faith is envied and hated on account of his pride and haughtiness of heart; --
9. or in that he practices chicanery in ecclesiastical assemblies, contrives to glorify himself, and deceive with appearances, and astonish the minds of the simple, preparing for himself a tribunal and lofty throne, -- not like a disciple of Christ, -- and possessing a secretum,' -- like the rulers of the world, -- and so calling it, and striking his thigh with his hand, and stamping on the tribunal with his feet; -- or in that he rebukes and insults those who do not applaud, and shake their handkerchiefs as in the theaters, and shout and leap about like the men and women that are stationed around him, and hear him in this unbecoming manner, but who listen reverently and orderly as in the house of God; -- or in that he violently and coarsely assails in public the expounders of the Word that have departed this life, and magnifies himself, not as a bishop, but as a sophist and juggler,
10. and stops the psalms to our Lord Jesus Christ, as being the modern productions of modern men, and trains women to sing psalms to himself in the midst of the church on the great day of the passover, which any one might shudder to hear, and persuades the bishops and presbyters of the neighboring districts and cities who fawn upon him, to advance the same ideas in their discourses to the people.
11. For to anticipate something of what we shall presently write, he is unwilling to acknowledge that the Son of God has come down from heaven. And this is not a mere assertion, but it is abundantly proved from the records which we have sent you; and not least where he says Jesus Christ is from below.' But those singing to him and extolling him among the people say that their impious teacher has come down an angel from heaven. And he does not forbid such things; but the arrogant man is even present when they are uttered.
12. And there are the women, the subintroductæ,' as the people of Antioch call them, belonging to him and to the presbyters and deacons that are with him. Although he knows and has convicted these men, yet he connives at this and their other incurable sins, in order that they may be bound to him, and through fear for themselves may not dare to accuse him for his wicked words and deeds. But he has also made them rich; on which account he is loved and admired by those who covet such things.
13. We know, beloved, that the bishop and all the clergy should be an example to the people of all good works. And we are not ignorant how many have fallen or incurred suspicion, through the women whom they have thus brought in. So that even if we should allow that he commits no sinful act, yet he ought to avoid the suspicion which arises from such a thing, lest he scandalize some one, or lead others to imitate him.
14. For how can he reprove or admonish another not to be too familiar with women, -- lest he fall, as it is written, -- when he has himself sent one away already, and now has two with him, blooming and beautiful, and takes them with him wherever he goes, and at the same time lives in luxury and surfeiting?
15. Because of these things all mourn and lament by themselves; but they so fear his tyranny and power, that they dare not accuse him.
16. But as we have said, while one might call the man to account for this conduct, if he held the Catholic doctrine and was numbered with us, since he has scorned the mystery and struts about in the abominable heresy of Artemas (for why should we not mention his father?), we think it unnecessary to demand of him an explanation of these things.|
17. Afterwards, at the close of the epistle, they add these words:
|Therefore we have been compelled to excommunicate him, since he sets himself against God, and refuses to obey; and to appoint in his place another bishop for the Catholic Church. By divine direction, as we believe, we have appointed Domnus, who is adorned with all the qualities becoming in a bishop, and who is a son of the blessed Demetrianus, who formerly presided in a distinguished manner over the same parish. We have informed you of this that you may write to him, and may receive letters of communion from him. But let this man write to Artemas; and let those who think as Artemas does, communicate with him.|
18. As Paul had fallen from the episcopate, as well as from the orthodox faith, Domnus, as has been said, became bishop of the church at Antioch.
19. But as Paul refused to surrender the church building, the Emperor Aurelian was petitioned; and he decided the matter most equitably, ordering the building to be given to those to whom the bishops of Italy and of the city of Rome should adjudge it. Thus this man was driven out of the church, with extreme disgrace, by the worldly power.
20. Such was Aurelian's treatment of us at that time; but in the course of his reign he changed his mind in regard to us, and was moved by certain advisers to institute a persecution against us. And there was great talk about this on every side.
21. But as he was about to do it, and was, so to speak, in the very act of signing the decrees against us, the divine judgment came upon him and restrained him at the very verge of his undertaking, showing in a manner that all could see clearly, that the rulers of this world can never find an opportunity against the churches of Christ, except the hand that defends them permits it, in divine and heavenly judgment, for the sake of discipline and correction, at such times as it sees best.
22. After a reign of six years, Aurelian was succeeded by Probus. He reigned for the same number of years, and Carus, with his sons, Carinus and Numerianus, succeeded him. After they had reigned less than three years the government devolved on Diocletian, and those associated with him. Under them took place the persecution of our time, and the destruction of the churches connected with it.
23. Shortly before this, Dionysius, bishop of Rome, after holding office for nine years, died, and was succeeded by Felix.