On the Lapsed.
Argument.--Having Enlarged Upon the Unlooked-for Peace of the Church, and the Constancy of the Confessors and Those Who Had Stood Fast in the Faith; And Then with Extreme Grief Having Pointed to the Downfall of the Lapsed, and Unfolded the Causes of the Bygone Persecution, Namely, the Neglect of Discipline, and the Sins of the Faithful; Our Author Severely Reproaches the Lapsed, That, at the Very First Words of the Enemy Threatening Them, They Had Sacrificed to Idols, and Had Not Rather Withdrawn, According to Christ's Counsel. 3 Lastly, He Warns His Readers to Avoid the Novatians, Confuting Their Heresy with Many Scriptures.
[Written a.d. 251.] ↩
Cyprian had frequently promised, that as soon as peace should be restored to the Church, he would write something definite on the subject of the lapsed; and in the following treatise he fulfils his promise. ↩
Now that they had been polluted with sacrifices, contrary to the law of the Gospel, before their sins were atoned for, before confession of their crime had been made, they were doing violence to the body and blood of the Lord, and were extorting communion and peace from certain presbyters, without the bishop's judgment. He exhorts them accordingly, in many words, that,--deterred by the divine vengeance on certain of the lapsed who had communicated unworthily, and animated by the example of those, who, although under the bondage of no crime, either of sacrifice or of certificate, yet, because they had even thought of these things, confessed with grief and sincerity the actual sin to God's priests and made avowal,--they should confess their sin, to public repentance and full satisfaction. ↩