Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter IV. Leporius together with some others recants his Pelagianism.
Leporius together with some others recants his Pelagianism.
But still as those who were the outcome of this stock of pestilent thorns have already by the Divine help and goodness been healed, we should also now pray to our Lord God that as in some points that older heresy and this new one are akin to each other, He would grant a like happy ending to those which had a like bad beginning. For Leporius, then a monk, now a presbyter, who followed the teaching or rather the evil deeds of Pelagius, as we said above, and was among the earliest and greatest champions of the aforesaid heresy in Gaul, was admonished by us and corrected by God, and so nobly condemned his former erroneous persuasion that his amendment was almost as much a matter for congratulation as is the unimpaired faith of many. For it is the best thing never to fall into error: the second best thing to make a good repudiation of it. He then coming to himself confessed his mistake with grief but without shame not only in Africa, where he was then and is now, 2371 but also gave to all the cities of Gaul penitent letters containing his confession and grief; in order that his return to the faith might be made known where his deviation from it had been first published, and that those who had formerly been witnesses of his error might also afterwards be witnesses of his amendment.
The after history of Leporius appears to have been this. Having come under Augustines influence, he was persuaded by him to give up all his property, and renounce the temporal care of a monastery which he had previously founded in a garden at Hippo; where also he had begun to build a xenodochium or house of refuge for strangers, partly at his own expense, and partly out of the alms of the faithful. He also at Augustines suggestion, built a church in memory of the “eight martyrs” (see Aug. Serm. 356). This complete renunciation of the world must have taken place about 425; and in the following year we find that he was present at the election of Eraclius to succeed Augustine (Aug. Ep. 213); but subsequent to this nothing is known of his history except that he was still living when Cassian wrote. It is right to mention that doubts have been raised by Tillemont whether the presbyter of Hippo is identical with the quondam heretic, but on scarcely sufficient grounds.
Next: Chapter V. By the case of Leporius he establishes the fact that an open sin ought to be expiated by an open confession; and also teaches from his words what is the right view to be held on the Incarnation.
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