Novat

, or Novatus, a priest of the church of Carthage, flourished in the third century, and was the author of a remarkable schism called after his name, or rather after the name of his associate Novatian, who, however, is also called Novatus by many ancient writers. He is represented by the orthodox as a person scandalous and infamous for perfidy, adulation, arrogance, and so sordidly covetous, that he even suffered his own father to perish with hunger, and spared not to pillage the goods of the church, the poor, and the orphans. It was in order to escape the punishment due to these crimes, and to support himself by raising disturbances, that he resolved to form a schism; and to that end entered into a cabal with Felicissimus, an African priest, who opposed St. Cyprian Novatus was summoned to appear before the prelate in the year 249; but the persecution, begun by Decius the following year, obliging that saint to retire for his own safety, Novatus was delivered from the danger of that process; and, not long after associating himself with Felicissimws, then a deacon, with him maintained the doctrine, that the lapsed ought to be received into the communion of the church without any form of penitence. In the year 2.51, he went to Rome, about the time of the election of pope Cornelius. There he met with Novatian, a priest, who had acquired a reputation for eloquence, and presently formed an alliance with him; and, although their sentiments with regard to the lapsed were diametrically opposite, they agreed to publish the most atrocious calumnies against the Roman clergy, which they coloured over so artfully, that many were deceived and joined their party. This done, they procured a congregation consisting of three obscure, simple, and ignorant bishops; and, plying them well with wine, prevailed upon them to elect Novatian bisuop of Rome. After this irregular election, Novatian addressed letters to St. Cyprian of Carthage, to Fabiuu of Antioch, and to Dionysius of Alexandria; but St. Cyprian refused to open his letter, and excommunicated | his deputies: he had likewise sent to Rome before, ia order to procure the abolition of the schism. Fabius made himself pleasant at Novatian’s expence; and Dionysius declared to him, that the best way of convincing the world, that his election was made against his consent, would be to quit the see, for the sake of peace. On the contrary, Novatian now maintained his principal doctrine, that such as had fallen into any sin after baptism ought not to be re*­ceived into the church by penance; and he was joined in the same by Novatus, although he had originally maintained the contrary while in Africa. Novatian had been a Pagan philosopher before his conversion to Christianity, and it does not appear that he and his party separated from the church, on any grounds of doctrine, but of discipline, and it is certain, from some writings of Novatian still extant, that he was sound in the doctrine of the Trinity. He lived to the time of Valerian, when he suffered martyrdom. He composed treatises upon the “Paschal Festival, or Easter,” of -the “Sabbath,” of “Circumcision,” of the “Supreme Pontiff,” of “Prayer,” of the “Jewish Meats,” and of “the Trinity.” It is highly probable, that the treatise upon the “Trinity,” and the book upon the “Jewish Meats,” inserted into the works of Tertullian, were written by Novatian, and they are well written. There is an edition of his works by Whiston, 1709; one by Welchman; and a third, of 1728, with notes, by Jackson. With respect to the followers of Novatian, at the first separation, they only refused communion with those who had fallen into idolatry: afterwards they went farther, and excluded, for ever, from their communion, all such as had committed crimes for which penance was required; and at last they took away from the church the power of the keys, of binding and loosing offenders, and rebaptised those who had been baptised by the church. This sect subsisted a long time both in the east and west; but chiefly became considerable in the east, where they had bishops, both in the great sees and the small ones, parish-churches, and a great number of followers. There were also Novatians in Africa in the time of St. Leo, and in the east some remains continued till the eighth century. 1

1 Dupin, Mosheim, Milner. Lardner, c.