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To All the Bishops of Sicily. Of the final decision of the trials of bishops, and graver ecclesiastical cases in the seat of the apostles.
We ought to be mindful of the grace of God to us, which in His own merciful regard has raised us for this purpose to the summit of priestly honour, that, abiding by His commandments, and appointed in a certain supervision of His priests, we may prohibit things unlawful, and teach those that are to be followed. As night does not extinguish the stars of heaven, so the unrighteousness of the world does not blind the minds of the faithful that hold by the sure support of Scripture. Therefore we ought to consider well and attend carefully to the Scriptures, and the divine precepts which are contained in these Scriptures, in order that we may show ourselves not transgressors, but fulfillers of the law of God.
Now patriarchs and primates, in investigating the case of an accused bishop, should not pronounce a final decision until, supported by the authority of the apostles, they find that the person either confesses himself guilty, or is proved so by witnesses trustworthy and regularly examined, who should not be fewer in number than were those disciples whom the Lord directed to be chosen for the help of the apostles— that is, seventy-two. Detractors also, who are to be rooted out by divine authority, and the advisers of enemies (auctores inimicorum), we do not admit in the indictment of bishops or in evidence against them; nor should any one of superior rank be indicted or condemned on the accusations of inferiors. Nor in a doubtful case should a decisive judgment be pronounced; nor should any trial be held valid unless it has been conducted according to order. No one, moreover, should be judged in his absence, because both divine and human laws forbid that. The accusers of those persons should also be free of all suspicion, because the Lord has chosen that His pillars should stand firm, and not be shaken by any one who will. For a sentence should not bind any of them if it is not given by their proper judge, because even the laws of the world ordain that that be done. For any accused bishop may, if it be necessary, choose twelve judges by whom his case may be justly judged. Nor should he be heard or excommunicated or judged until these be chosen by him; and on his being regularly summoned at first to a council of his own bishops, his case should be justly heard by them, and investigated on sound principles. The end of his case, however, should be remitted to the seat of the apostles, that it may be finally decided there. Nor should it be finished, as has been decreed of old by the apostles or their successors, until it is sustained by its authority. To it also all, and especially the oppressed, should appeal and have recourse as to a mother, that they may be nourished by her breasts, defended by her authority, and relieved of their oppressions, because
a mother cannot, and should not,
forget her son. Isaiah 49:15 For the trials of bishops and graver ecclesiastical cases, as the apostles and their holy successors have decreed, are to be finally decided along with other bishops by the seat of the apostles, and by no other; because, although they may be transferred to other bishops, it was yet to the blessed Apostle Peter these terms were addressed:
Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:19 And the other privileges which have been granted to this holy seat alone are found embodied both in the constitutions of the apostles and their successors, and in very many others in harmony with these. For the apostles have prefixed seventy decrees, together with very many other bishops, and have appointed them to be kept. For to judge rashly of the secrets of another's heart is sin; and it is unjust to reprove him on suspicion whose works seem not other than good, since God alone is Judge of those things which are unknown to men. He, however,
knows the secrets of the heart, and not another. For unjust judgments are to be guarded against by all, especially however by the servants of God.
And the servant of the Lord must not strive, 2 Timothy 2:24 nor harm any one. For bishops are to be borne by laity and clergy, and masters by servants, in order that, under the exercise of endurance, things temporal may be maintained, and things eternal hoped for. For that increases the worth of virtue, which does not violate the purpose of religion. You should be earnestly intent that none of your brothers be grievously injured or undone. Therefore you ought to succour the oppressed, and deliver them from the hand of their persecutors, in order that with the blessed Job you may say:
The blessing of him that was ready to perish will come upon me, and I consoled the widow's heart. I put on righteousness, and clothed myself with a robe and a diadem, my judgment. I was eye to the blind, and foot to the lame. I was a father to the poor, and the cause which I knew not I searched out most carefully. I broke the grinders of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth; and so forth. You, therefore, who have been placed in eminence by God, ought with all your power to check and repel those who prepare snares for brethren, or raise seditions and offenses against them. For it is easy by word to deceive man, not however God. Therefore you ought to keep these off, and be on your guard against them, until such darkness is done away utterly, and the morning star shines upon them, and gladness arises, most holy brethren. Given on the 20th September, in the consulship of the most illustrious Saturninus and Gallicanus.
To the Bishops of the Province of Egypt.
So great trust have we received from the Lord, the Founder of this holy seat and of the apostolic church, and from the blessed Peter, chief of the apostles, that we may labour with unwearied affection for the universal Church which has been redeemed by the blood of Christ, and aid all who serve the Lord, and give help to all who live piously by apostolic authority. All who will live 2 Timothy 2:24 piously in Christ must needs endure reproaches from the impious and aliens, and be despised as fools and madmen, that they may be made better and purer who lose the good things of time that they may gain those of eternity. But the contempt and ridicule of those who afflict and scorn them will be cast back upon themselves, when their abundance shall change to want, and their pride to confusion.
It has been reported at the seat of the apostles by your delegates, that certain of our brethren, bishops to wit, are being expelled from their churches and seats, and deprived of their goods, and summoned, thus destitute and spoiled, to trial; a thing which is void of all reason, since the constitutions of the apostles and their successors, and the statutes of emperors, and the regulations of laws, prohibit it, and the authority of the seat of the apostles forbids it to be done. It has been ordained, indeed, in the ancient statutes, that bishops who have been ejected and spoiled of their property should recover their churches, and, in the first place, have all their property restored to them; and then, in the second place, that if any one may desire to accuse them justly, he should do so at the like risk; that the judges should be discreet, the bishops right-minded and harmonious in the Church, where they should be witnesses for every one who seemed to be oppressed; and that they should not answer till all that belonged to them was restored to them, and to their churches by law without detriment. Nor is it strange, brethren, if they persecute you, when they persecuted even to death your Head, Christ our Lord. Yet even persecutions are to be endured patiently, that you may be known to be His disciples, for whom also ye suffer. Whence, too, he says Himself,
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake. Matthew 5:10 Sustained by these testimonies, we ought not greatly to fear the reproach of men, nor be overcome by their up-braidings, since the Lord gives us this command by Isaiah the prophet, saying,
Hearken unto me, you that know righteousness, my people, in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings; Isaiah 51:7 considering what is written in the Psalm,
Shall not God search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart, and the thoughts of such men, that they are vanity,
They spoke vanity every one with his neighbour: with deceitful lips in their heart, and with an evil heart they spoke. But the Lord shall cut off all deceitful lips, and the tongue that speaks proud things; who have said, Our lips are our own; who is Lord over us? For if they kept these things in memory, they would by no means break forth into so great wickedness. For they do not this by laudable and paternal instruction (probabili et paterna doctrina), but that they may wreak their vengeful feeling against the servants of God. For it is written,
The way of a fool is right in his eyes; Proverbs 12:15 and,
There are ways which seem right unto a man, but the end thereof leads to death. Proverbs 14:12 Now we who suffer these things ought to leave them to the judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his works; Matthew 16:27 who also has thundered through His servants, saying,
Vengeance is mine, I will repay. Romans 12:19 Assist ye, therefore, one another in good faith, and by deed and with a hearty will; nor let any one remove his hand from the help of a brother, since
by this, says the Lord, John 13:35 Whence, too, He speaks by the prophet, saying,
Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! In a spiritual dwelling, I interpret it, and in a concord which is in God, and in the unity of the faith which distinguishes this pleasant dwelling according to truth, which indeed was more beauteously illustrated in Aaron and the priests clothed with honour, as ointment upon the head, nurturing the highest understanding and leading even to the end of wisdom. For in this dwelling the Lord has promised blessing and eternal life. Apprehending, therefore, the importance of this utterance of the prophet, we have spoken this present brotherly word for love's sake, and by no means seeking, or meaning to seek, our own things. For it is not good to repay detraction with detraction, or according to the common proverb to cast out a beam with a beam (excutere palum palo). Be it far from us. Such manners are not ours. May the Godhead indeed forbid it. By the just judgment of God, power is given sometimes to sinners to persecute His saints, in order that they who are aided and borne on by the Spirit of God may become more glorious through the discipline of sufferings. But to those very persons who persecute, and reproach, and injure them, there will doubtless be woe. Woe, woe to those who injure the servants of God; for injury done to them concerns Him whose service they discharge, and whose function they execute. But we pray that a door of enclosure be placed upon their mouths, as we desire that no one perish or be defiled by their lips, and that they think or publish with their mouth no hurtful word. Whence also the Lord speaks by the prophet,
I said I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue. May the Lord Almighty, and His only-begotten Son and our Saviour Jesus Christ, give you this incitement, that with all means in your power you aid all the brethren under whatsoever tribulations they labour, and esteem, as is meet, their sufferings your own. Afford them the utmost assistance by word and deed, that you may be found His true disciples, who enjoined all to love the brethren as themselves.
Ordinations of presbyters and Levites, moreover, solemnly perform on a suitable occasion, and in the presence of many witnesses; and to this duty advance tried and learned men, that you may be greatly gladdened by their fellowship and help. Place the confidence of your hearts without ceasing on the goodness of God, and declare these and the other divine words to succeeding generations:
For this is our God for ever and ever, and He will guide us to eternity. Given on the 7th November, in the consulship of the most illustrious Saturninus and Gallicanus.
To Bishop Benedictus. On the Fasts of the Four Seasons, and that no one should take up an accusation against a doctor (teacher).
By the love of the brotherhood we are bound, and by our apostolic rule we are constrained, to give answer to the inquiries of the brethren, according to what the Lord has given us, and to furnish them with the authority of the seal of the apostles.
Fasting, which you have learned to hold three times in the year among us, we decree now to take place, as more suitable, in four seasons; so that even as the year revolves through four seasons, we too may keep a solemn fast quarterly in the four seasons of the year. And as we are replenished with grain, and wine, and oil for the nourishment of our bodies, so let us be replenished with fasting for the nourishment of our souls, in accordance with the word of the prophet Zechariah, who says,
The word of the Lord came to me, saying, Thus says the Lord of hosts, As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, and I repented not; so again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah: fear ye not. These are the things that you shall do: Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; judge the truth and the judgment of peace in your gates; and let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour, and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, says the Lord of hosts. And the word of the Lord of hosts came unto me, saying, Thus says the Lord of hosts, The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of the Lord joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; only love the truth and peace, says the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 8:1-19 In this, then, we ought to be all of one mind, so that, according to apostolic teaching, we may all say the same thing, and that there be no divisions among us. Let us then be perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment; 1 Peter iii in ready zeal for which work we congratulate ourselves on having your affection as our partner. For it is not meet for the members to be at variance with the head; but, according to the testimony of sacred Scripture, 1 Corinthians 12 all the members should follow the head. It is matter of doubt, moreover, to no one, that the church of the apostles is the mother of all the churches, from whose ordinances it is not right that you should deviate to any extent. And as the Son of God came to do the Father's will, so shall you fulfil the will of your mother, which is the Church, the head of which, as has been stated already, is the church of Rome. Wherefore, whatsoever may be done against the discipline of this church, without the decision of justice, cannot on any account be permitted to be held valid.
Moreover, let no one take up an accusation against a doctor (teacher), because it is not right for sons to find fault with fathers, nor for slaves to wound their masters. Now, all those whom they instruct are sons of doctors; and as sons ought to love their fathers after the flesh, so ought they to love their spiritual fathers. For he does not live rightly who does not believe rightly, or who reprehends fathers, or calumniates them. Doctors therefore, who are also called fathers, are rather to be borne with than reprehended, unless they err from the true faith. Let no one, consequently, accuse a doctor by writing (per scripta); neither let him answer to any accuser, unless he be one who is trustworthy and recognised by law, and who leads also a life and conversation free from reproach. For it is a thing unworthy that a doctor should reply to a foolish and ignorant person, and one who leads a reprehensible life, according to the man's folly; as Scripture says, Answer not a fool according to his folly. Proverbs 26:4 He does not live rightly who does not believe rightly. He means nothing evil who is faithful. If anyone is faithful (a believer), let him see to it that he make no false allegations, nor lay a snare for any man. The faithful man acts always in faith; and the unfaithful man plots cunningly, and strives to work the ruin of those who are faithful, and who live in piety and righteousness, because like seeks like. The unfaithful man is one dead in the living body. And on the other hand, the discourse of the man of faith guards the life of his hearers. For as the Catholic doctor, and especially the priest of the Lord, ought to be involved in no error, so ought he to be wronged by no machination or passion. Holy Scripture indeed says, Go not after your lusts, but refrain yourself from your appetites; Sirach 18:30 and we must resist many allurements of this world, and many vanities, in order that the integrity of a true continence may be obtained, whereof the first blemish is pride, the beginning of transgression and the origin of sin; for the mind with lustful will knows neither to abstain nor to give itself to piety. No good man has an enemy except in the wicked, who are permitted to be such only in order that the good man may be corrected or exercised through their means. Whatever, therefore, is faultless is defended by the Church Catholic. Neither for prince, nor for any one who observes piety, is it lawful to venture anything contrary to the divine injunctions. Consequently an unjust judgment, or an unjust decision (diffinitio), instituted or enforced by judges under the fear or by the command of a prince, or any bishop or person of influence, cannot be valid. The religious man ought not to hold it enough merely to refrain from entering into the enmities of others, or increasing them by evil speech, unless he also make it his study to extinguish them by good speech. Better is a humble confession in evil deeds, than a proud boasting in good deeds. Moreover, all who live the blessed life, choose rather to run that course in the proper estate of peace and righteousness, than to involve themselves in the avenging pains of our sins. For I am mindful that I preside over the Church under the name of him whose confession was honoured by our Lord Jesus Christ, and whose faith ever destroys all errors. And I understand that I am not at liberty to act otherwise than to expend all my efforts on that cause in which the well-being of the universal Church is at stake (infestatur). I hope, too, that the mercy of God will so favour us, that, with the help of His clemency, every deadly disease may be removed, God Himself expelling it, and that whatever may be done wholesomely, under His inspiration and help, may be accomplished to the praise of your faith and devotion. For all things cannot otherwise be safe, unless, as far as pertains to the service of the divine office, sacerdotal authority upholds them. Given on the 21st day of November in the consulship of the most illustrious Antoninus and Alexander.
To All the Bishops of Gaul. Of conspiracies and other illicit pursuits, that they be not engaged in, and of the restoration of the lapsed after penitence.)
By the report of very many, we learn that your love, by the zeal of the Holy Spirit, holds and guides the helm of the Church so firmly in the face of all assaults, that by God's will it is conscious neither of shipwreck nor of the losses of shipwreck. Rejoicing, therefore, in such testimonies, we beg you not to permit anything to be done in those parts contrary to the apostolic statutes; but, supported by our authority, check what is injurious, and prohibit what is unlawful.
Now we have heard that the crime of conspiracies prevails in your parts, and it has been shown us that the people are conspiring against their bishops; of which crime the craft is hateful, not only among Christians, but even among the heathen, and it is forbidden by foreign laws. And therefore the laws not only of the Church, but of the world, condemn those who are guilty of this crime; and not only those indeed who actually conspire, but those also who take part with such. Romans 1:32 Our predecessors, moreover, together with a very numerous body of bishops, ordained that any guilty of this offense among those who are set in the honour of the priesthood, and who belong to the clergy, should be deprived of the honour which they enjoy; and they ordered that others should be cut off from communion, and expelled from the Church; and they decreed, at the same time, that all men of both orders should be infamous (infames); and that, too, not only for those who did the deed, but for those also who took part with such. For it is but equitable that those who despise the divine mandates, and prove themselves disobedient to the ordinances of the fathers, should be chastised with severer penalties, in order that others may fear to do such things, and that all may rejoice in brotherly concord, and all take to themselves the example of severity and goodness. For if (which may God forbid) we neglect the care of the Church, and are regardless of its strength, our slothfulness will destroy discipline, and injury will be done assuredly to the souls of the faithful. Such persons, moreover, are not to be admitted to accuse any one: neither can their voice, nor that of those who are under the ban, injure or criminate any man.
Those, too, who are excommunicated by the priests, let no one receive previous to the just examination of both sides; nor let him have any intercourse with such in speech, or in eating or drinking, or in the salutation with the kiss, nor let him greet such; because, whosoever wittingly holds intercourse with the excommunicated in these or other prohibited matters, will subject himself, according to the ordinance of the apostles, to like excommunication. From these, therefore, let clergy and laity keep themselves if they would not have the same penalty to endure. Also do not join the unbelievers, neither have any fellowship with them. They who do such things, indeed, are judged not as believers, but as unbelievers. Whence the apostle says:
What part has he that believes with an infidel? Or what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? 2 Corinthians 6:14-15
Let no one, again, trespass upon the boundaries of another, nor presume to judge or excommunicate one belonging to another's parish; because such judgment or ordination, or excommunication or condemnation, shall neither be ratified nor have any virtue; since no one shall be bound by the decision of another judge than his own, neither shall he be condemned by such. Whence also the Lord speaks to this effect:
Pass not the ancient landmarks which your fathers have set. Proverbs 22:28 Moreover, let no primate or metropolitan invade the church or parish of a diocesan (diœcesani), or presume to excommunicate or judge any one belonging to his parish, or do anything without his counsel or judgment; but let him observe this law, which has been laid down by the apostles and fathers, and our predecessors, and has been ratified by us: to wit, that if any metropolitan bishop, except in that which pertains to his own proper parish alone, shall attempt to do anything without the counsel and good-will of all the comprovincial bishops, he will do it at the risk of his position, and what he does in this manner shall be held null and void; but whatever it may be necessary to do or to arrange with regard to the cases of the body of provincial bishops, and the necessities of their churches and clergy and laity, this should be done by consent of all the pontiffs of the same province, and that too without any pride of lordship, but with the most humble and harmonious action, even as the Lord says:
I came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. Matthew 20:28 And in another passage He says:
And whosoever of you is the greater, shall be your servant, Mark 10:44 and so forth. And in like manner the bishops of the same province themselves should do all things in counsel with him, except so much as pertains to their own proper parishes, in accordance with the statutes of the holy fathers (who, although they have preceded us by a certain interval of time, have yet drawn the light of truth and faith from one and the same fountain of purity, and have sought the prosperity of the Church of God and the common advantage of all Christians by the same enlightening and guiding Spirit), that with one mind, and one mouth, and one accord, the Holy Trinity may be glorified forever. No primate, no metropolitan, nor any of the other bishops, is at liberty to enter the seat of another, or to occupy a possession which does not pertain to him, and which forms part of the parish of another bishop, at the direction of any one, unless he is invited by him to whose jurisdiction it is acknowledged to belong; nor can he set about any arrangement or ordinance, or judgment there, if he wishes to keep the honour of his station. But if he presume to do otherwise, he shall be condemned; and not only he, but those who co-operate and agree with him: for just as the power of making appointments (ordinatio) is interdicted in such circumstances, so also is the power of judging or of disposing of other matters. For if a man has no power to appoint, how shall he judge? Without doubt, he shall in no wise judge or have power to judge: for just as another man's wife cannot intermarry with anyone (adulterari), nor be judged or disposed of by any one but by her own husband so long as he lives; so neither can it in anywise be allowed that the wife of a bishop, by whom undoubtedly is meant his church or parish, should be judged or disposed of by another without his (the bishop's) judgment and good-will so long as he lives, or enjoy another's embrace, that is, his ordaining. Wherefore the apostle says:
The wife is bound by the law so long as her husband lives; but if he be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. Romans 7:2 In like manner also, the spouse of a bishop (for the church is called his spouse and wife) is bound to him while he lives; but when he is dead she is loosed, and may be wedded to whomsoever she will, only in the Lord, that is, according to order. For if, while he is alive, she marry another, she shall be judged to be an adulteress. And in the same manner, he too, if he marry another of his own will, shall be held to be an adulterer, and shall be deprived of the privilege of communion. If, however, he is persecuted in his own church, he must flee to another, and attach himself to it, as the Lord says:
If they persecute you in one city, flee ye into another. Matthew 10:23 If, however, the change be made for the sake of the good of the church, he may not do this of himself, but only on the invitation of the brethren, and with the sanction of this holy seat, and not for ambition's sake, but for the public good.
Moreover, marriages among blood-relations are forbidden, since all laws, both sacred and secular, forbid such. Wherefore the divine laws not only expel, but even anathematize, those who do so, and those who spring from them. Secular laws, again, call such persons infamous, and interdict them from inheriting. And we too, following our fathers, and keeping close by their footsteps, brand such with infamy, and hold them to be infamous, because they are sprinkled with the stains of infamy. Neither ought we to admit those men or their accusations, that secular laws reject. (For who doubts that human laws, when they are not inconsistent with reason and honour, are to be embraced, especially when they either further the public good or defend the authority of the ecclesiastical office, and uphold it as a help?) And we call those blood-relations whom divine laws, and those of the emperors, both Roman and Greek, name blood-relations, and whom they admit to the right of inheriting, and cannot exclude from that. Marriages, then, between such are neither lawful nor capable of holding good, but are to be rejected. (And if any such are attempted in rash daring, they come to be rescinded by apostolic authority.)
Whosoever, therefore, has not been lawfully married, or has been united without the dotal title (dotali titulo) and the blessing of a priest, cannot by any means bring a charge against priests, or those who are lawfully married, or bear witness against them, since every one who is polluted with the stain of incest is infamous, and is not allowed to accuse the above-named. And consequently not only they, but all those too who agree with them, are to be rejected, and are rendered infamous. We hold that the same should also be the case with robbers, or with those who assault the elderly. The laws of the world, indeed, put such persons to death; but we, with whom mercy has the first place, receive them under the mark of infamy to repentance. That infamy also with which they are stained, we are not able to remove; but our desire is to heal their souls by public penitence, and by satisfaction made to the Church: for public sins are not to be purged by secret correction. Those, again, who are suspected in the matter of the right faith, should by no means be admitted to prefer charges against priests, and against those of whose faith there is no doubt; and such persons should be held of doubtful authority in matters of human testimony. Their voice, consequently, should be reckoned invalid whose faith is doubted; and no credit should be given to those who are ignorant of the right faith. Accordingly, in judgment, inquiry should be made as to the conversation and faith of the person who accuses, and of him who is accused; since those who are not of correct conversation and faith, and whose life is open to impeachment, are not allowed to accuse their elders, neither can such permission be given to those whose faith and life and liberty are unknown. Nor should vile persons be admitted to accuse them. But a clear examination is to be made as to what kind of persons the accusers are (rimandæ sunt enucleatim personæ accusatorum); for they are not to be admitted readily without writing, and are never to be admitted as accusers on mere writing. For no one may either accuse or be accused by mere writing, but with the living voice; and every one must lay his accusation in the presence of him whom he seeks to accuse. And no credit should be given to any accuser in the absence of him whom he seeks to accuse. In like manner, witnesses must not prefer their evidence by writing only; but they must give their testimony truthfully in their own persons, and in matters which they have seen and do know. And they are not to give evidence in any other cases or matters but in those which are known to have happened in their presence. Accusers, moreover, of one blood, are not to bear witness against those who are not related to the family, nor is that to be the case with domestics (familiares) or those proceeding from the house; but if it is their wish, and they agree among themselves, the parents only should give evidence in such cases, and not others. Neither accusers nor witnesses should be admitted who are open to any suspicion; for the feeling of relationship, or friendship, or lordship, is wont to impede the truth. Carnal love, and fear, and avarice, commonly blunt the perceptions of men, and pervert their opinions; so that they look on gain as godliness, and on money as the reward of prudence. Let no one, then, speak deceitfully to his neighbour. The mouth of the malevolent is a deep pit. The innocent man, while he believes easily, falls readily; but though he falls, he rises; and the shuffler, with all his arts, goes headlong to ruin, whence he can never rise or escape. Therefore let every one weigh well his words, and let him not say to another what he would not say to himself. Whence the sacred Scripture says well:
Do not that to another which you would not have done to yourself. Tobit 4:15 For we need time to do anything perfectly (maturius); and let us not be precipitate in our counsels or our works, neither let us violate order. But if any one has fallen in anything, let us not consign him to ruin; but let us reprove him with brotherly affection, as the blessed apostle says:
If a man be overtaken in any fault, you which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burden, and so will you fulfil the law of Christ. Furthermore, the sainted David had deadly crimes to repent of, and yet he was continued in honour. The blessed Peter also shed the bitterest tears when he repented of having denied the Lord; but still he abode an apostle. And the Lord by the prophet makes this promise to the sinning:
In the day that the sinner is converted, and repents, I will not mention any more against him all his transgressions. Ezekiel 18:21-22
For those are in error who think that the priests of the Lord, after a lapse, although they may have exhibited true repentance, are not capable of ministering to the Lord, and engaging their honourable offices, though they may lead a good life thereafter, and keep their priesthood correctly. And those who hold this opinion are not only in error, but also seem to dispute and act in opposition to the power of the keys committed to the Church, whereof it is said:
Whatsoever you shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. Matthew 18:18 And in short, this opinion either is not the Lord's, or it is true. But be that as it may, we believe without hesitation, that both the priests of the Lord and other believers may return to their honours after a proper satisfaction for their error, as the Lord Himself testifies by His prophet:
Shall he who falls not also rise again? And shall he who turns away not return? Jeremiah 8:4 And in another passage the Lord says:
I desire not the death of the sinner, but that he may turn, and live. And the prophet David, on his repentance, said: sacrifice to God, giving thereby an example to the teachers of the holy Church, that if they have fallen, and thereafter have exhibited a right repentance to God, they may do both things in like manner. For he taught when he said:
I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted unto You. And he offered sacrifice for himself, while he said:
The sacrifice for God is a broken spirit. For the prophet, seeing his own transgressions purged by repentance, had no doubt as to healing those of others by preaching, and by making offering to God. Thus the shedding of tears moves the mind's feeling (passionem). And when the satisfaction is made good, the mind is turned aside from anger. For how does that man think that mercy will be shown to himself, who does not forgive his neighbour? If offenses abound, then, let mercy also abound; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption. In the Lord's hand there is abundance of all things, because He is the Lord of powers (virtutum) and the King of glory. For the apostle says:
All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ: whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, 'I say,' at this time His righteousness, that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus. Romans 3:23-26 And David says:
Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Man, therefore, is cleansed of his sin, and rises again by the grace of God though he has fallen, and abides in his first position, according to the above-cited authorities. Let him see to it that he sin no more, that the sentence of the Gospel may abide in him:
Go, and sin no more. John 8:11 Whence the apostle says:
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey the lusts thereof: neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Do you not know, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that you were the servants of sin; but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men. Romans 6:12-19 For greater is the sin of him who judges, than of him who is judged.
Do you think, says the apostle,
O man, who judges them that do such things, and do the same, that you shall escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering? Do you not know that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But, after your hardness and impenitent heart, you store up unto yourself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that does evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek: but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that works good. Romans 3:3-10 My brethren, shun not only the holding, but even the hearing, of the judgment that bans mercy; for better is mercy than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices. Mark 12:33 We have replied to your interrogations shortly, because your letter found us burdened overmuch, and preoccupied with other judgments. Given on the 8th day of October, in the consulship of the most illustrious Antonine and Alexander.
To All Christians. Of the church's receiving only the property of the faithful, and not the price of the same, as in the times of the apostles; and as to why elevated seats should be prepared in the churches for the bishops; and as to the fact that no one should have intercourse with those whom the bishops excommunicate, and that no one should receive those whom they have cast out in any manner whatever.
It becomes all Christians, most dearly beloved, to imitate Him whose name they have received.
What does it profit, my brethren, says the Apostle James,
though a man say he has faith, and have not works? James 2:14
My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that you receive (sumitis) the greater condemnation; for in many things we offend all. James 3:1-2
Let him who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you, show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. James 3:13
We know that you are not ignorant of the fact that hitherto the principle of living with all things in common has been in vigorous operation among good Christians, and is still so by the grace of God; and most of all among those who have been chosen to the lot of the Lord, that is to say, the clergy, even as we read in the Acts of the Apostles:
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joseph, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas (which is, being interpreted, the son of consolation), a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet; Acts 4:32-37 and so forth. Accordingly, as the chief priests and others, and the Levites, and the rest of the faithful, perceived that it might be of more advantage if they handed over to the churches over which the bishops presided the heritages and fields which they were in the way of selling, inasmuch as they might furnish a larger and better maintenance for the faithful who hold the common faith, not only in present but also in future times, out of the revenues of such property than out of the money for which they might at once be sold, they began to consign to the mother churches the property and lands which they were wont to sell, and got into the manner of living on the revenues of these.
The property, moreover, in the possession of the several parishes was left in the hands of the bishops, who hold the place of the apostles; and it is so to this day, and ought to be so in all future time. And out of those possessions the bishops and the faithful as their stewards ought to furnish to all who wish to enter the life in common all necessaries as they best can, so that none may be found in want among them. For the possessions of the faithful are also called oblations, because they are offered to the Lord. They ought not therefore to be turned to any other uses than those of the Church, and in behoof of Christian brethren before mentioned, and of the poor; for they are the offerings of the faithful, and they are redemption moneys for sins (pretia peccatorum), and the patrimony of the poor, and are given over to the Lord for the purpose already named. But if any one act otherwise (which may God forbid), let him take care lest he meet the condemnation of Ananias and Sapphira, and be found guilty of sacrilege, as those were who lied as to the price of the property designated, of whom we read thus in the before-cited passage of the Acts of the Apostles:
But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold land (agrum), and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said to Ananias, Why has Satan tempted (tentavit) your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whilst it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own power? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied unto men, but unto the Lord. And Ananias, hearing these words, fell down, and gave up the ghost. And great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, and removed him (amoverunt), and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, and said, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said to her, How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of them which have buried your husband are at the door, and shall carry you out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost. And the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the Church, and upon as many as heard these things. Acts 5:1-11 These things, brethren, are carefully to be guarded against, and greatly to be feared. For the property of the Church, not being like personal, but like common property, and property offered to the Lord, is to be dispensed with the deepest fear, in the spirit of faithfulness, and for no other objects than the above-named, lest those should incur the guilt of sacrilege who divert it from the hands to which it was consigned, and lest they should come under the punishment and death of Ananias and Sapphira, and lest (which is yet worse) they should become anathema maranatha, and lest, though their body may not fall dead like that of Ananias and Sapphira, their soul, which is nobler than the body, should fall dead, and be cut off from the company of the faithful, and sink into the depths of the pit. Wherefore all must give heed to this matter, and watch in faithfulness, and avert the dishonour of such usurpation, lest possessions dedicated to the uses of things secret (or sacred) and heavenly be spoiled by any parties invading them. And if any one do so, then, after the sharp vengeance which is due to such a crime, and which is justly to be carried out against the sacrilegious, let him be condemned to perpetual infamy, and cast into prison or consigned to life-long exile. For, according to the apostle, 1 Corinthians 5:5 we ought to deliver such a man to Satan, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
By the increase, therefore, and the mode of life which have been mentioned, the churches over which the bishops preside have grown so greatly with the help of the Lord, and the greater part of them are now in possession of so much property, that among them there is not a man who, selecting the life in common, is kept in poverty; but such an one receives all necessaries from the bishop and his ministers. Therefore, if any one in modern or in future time shall rise up and attempt to divert that property, let him be smitten with the judgment which has been already mentioned.
Furthermore, as to the fact that in the churches of the bishops there are found elevated seats set up and prepared like a throne, they show by these that the power of inspection and of judging, and the authority to loose and bind, are given to them by the Lord. Whence the Saviour Himself says in the Gospel,
Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matthew 18:18 And elsewhere:
Receive the Holy Ghost. Whose soever sins ye remit, are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. John 20:22-23
These things, then, we have set before you, most dearly beloved, in order that you may understand the power of your bishops, and give reverence to God in them, and love them as your own souls; and in order that you may have no communication with those with whom they have none, and that you may not receive those whom they have cast out. For the judgment of a bishop is greatly to be feared, although he may bind one unjustly, which, however, he ought to guard against with the utmost care.
And in exhorting you, we also admonish all who have embraced the faith of Christ, and who have taken from Christ the name of Christian, that you make your Christianity vain in no respect, but keep steadfastly the engagement which you took upon yourselves in baptism, so that you may be found not reprobate, but worthy in His presence. And if any one of you has entered the life which has all things common, and has taken the vow to hold no private property, let him see to it that he make not his promise vain, but let him keep with all faithfulness this engagement which he has made to the Lord, so that he may acquire for himself not damnation, but a reward; for it is better for a man not to take a vow at all than not to discharge to the best of his ability the vow that he has made. For they who have made a vow, or taken on them the faith, and have not kept their vow, or have carried out their life in things evil, are punished more severely than those who have carried out their life without a vow, or have died without faith, but not without doing good works. For to this end have we received a reasonable mind by the gift of nature, and the renewal also of the second birth, that, according to the apostle, we may discern (sapiamus) rather things above, and not things on the earth; Colossians 3:2 for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. 1 Corinthians 3:19 For to what, most dearly beloved, does the wisdom of this world urge us, but to seek things that are hurtful, and to love things that are to perish, and to neglect things that are healthful, and to esteem as of no value things that are lasting? It commends the love of money, of which it is said, The love of money is the root of all evil; 1 Timothy 6:10 and which has this evil in special, that while it obtrudes the transitory, it hides from view the eternal; and while it looks on things that are outside, it does not look in upon things that lurk within; and while it seeks after strange things, it is an evil that makes itself strange to him who does it. Behold, to what does the wisdom of this world urge a man? To live in pleasures. Whence it is said: A widow that lives in pleasure, is dead while she lives. 1 Timothy 5:6 It urges a man to feed the flesh with the softest delights, with sins, and vices, and flames, to press the soul with intemperance in food and wine, and to check the life of the spirit, and to put into his enemy's hand the sword to be used against himself. Behold, what is the counsel which the wisdom of this world gives? That those who are good should choose rather to be evil, and that in error of mind they should be zealous to be sinners, and should not bethink themselves of that terrible voice of God, when the wicked shall be burned up like grass.
For all the faithful ought to receive the Holy Spirit after baptism by imposition of the hand of the bishops, so that they may be found to be Christians fully; because when the Holy Spirit is shed upon them, the believing heart is enlarged for prudence and steadfastness. We receive of the Holy Spirit in order that we may be made spiritual; for the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:14 We receive of the Holy Spirit in order that we may be wise to discern between good and evil, to love the just, and to loathe the unjust, so as to withstand malice and pride, and resist luxury and various allurements, and impure and unworthy lust. We receive of the Holy Spirit in order that, fired with the love of life and the ardour of glory, we may be able to raise our mind from things earthly to things heavenly and divine. — Given on the Nones of September — that is, on the fifth day of the same month, in the consulship of the most illustrious Antonine and Alexander.
To Felix Subscribonius. On the honour to be bestowed on priests.
Pontianus, bishop, to Felix Subscribonius, greeting.
Our heart is exceedingly rejoiced with your goodness, in that you strive by all means in your power to carry out the practice of holy religion, and strengthen sad and destitute brethren in faith and religion. Wherefore we implore the mercy of our Redeemer, that His grace may support us in all things, and that He may grant us to carry out in effect what He has given us to aspire after. In this good thing, therefore, the benefits of recompense are multiplied just in proportion as our zeal for the work increases. And because in all these things we need the assistance of divine grace, we implore with constant prayers the clemency of Omnipotent God, that He may both grant us the desire for these good works which should ever be wrought by us, and give us power also to perform them, and direct us in that way, for the fruit of well-doing — which way the Pastor of pastors declared Himself to be — so that you may be able to carry out through Him, without whom nothing can be done, those good works which you have begun. Moreover, with respect to the priests of the Lord whom we have heard you aid against the plots of wicked men, and whose cause you sustain, know ye that in so doing ye please God greatly, who has called them to the service of Himself, and has honoured them with so intimate a fellowship with Him, that through them He accepts the oblations of others, and pardons their sins, and reconciles them with Him. They also make the body of the Lord with their own mouth (proprio ore corpus Domini conficiunt), and give it to the people. For of them it is said: He that hurts you, hurts me; and he that does you an injury, shall receive again that which he has done unrighteously. And elsewhere: He that hears you, hears me; and he that despises you, despises me; and he that despises me, despises Him that sent me. Luke 10:16 Hence they are not to be molested, but honoured. And in them the Lord Himself is honoured, whose commission they execute. They accordingly, if they happen to fall, are to be raised up and sustained by the faithful. And again, they are not to be accused by the infamous, or the wicked, or the hostile, or by the members of another sect or religion. If they sin, they are to be arraigned by the other priests; further, they are to be held in check (constringantur) by the chief pontiffs, and they are not to be arraigned or restrained by seculars or by men of evil life. Not slight, therefore, is our grief in hearing that you have to sorrow for your brother's passing away (transitu). For which reason we beseech Almighty God to console you by the breathing (aspiratione) of His grace, and keep you with heavenly guardianship from evil spirits and perverse men. For if you have to bear any turmoil of certain adversaries after his disease, do not think it strange though ye, who seek to enjoy good in your own country — that is, in the land of the living — have to bear evil things at the hands of men in a strange country. For the present life is a sojourning; and to him who sighs after the true fatherland, the place of his sojourning is a trial, however pleasant it may seem. And as to you who seek the fatherland, among the sighs which you heave I hear the groans also of human oppression rising. And this happens by the wonderful dispensation of Almighty God, in order that, while the truth calls you in love, this present world may cast back your affection from itself through the tribulations which it brings on, and that the mind may be so much the more easily delivered from the love of this world, as it is also impelled while it is called. Therefore, as you have begun, give heed to the duty of hospitality; labour most urgently in prayer and tears; devote yourselves more liberally and freely now to those almsgivings which you have ever loved, in order that in the recompense the profit to you for your work may be greater in proportion as your zeal for the labour has risen to higher degrees here.
Furthermore, hailing your goodness with paternal pleasantness, we beg you not to fail in the good works which you have begun. And may no one be able to turn you from them; but may the clergy and servants of God, and all Christians who sojourn in those parts, fully discover by the love of Christ and Saint Peter the disposition of your charity in all things, and obtain the comforts of your favour in every necessity that may arise; to the end that all may be defended and helped by your aid, and that we, too, may owe you thanks, and that our Lord Jesus Christ may make good to you eternal glory, and that the blessed Apostle Peter, the chief of the apostles, in whose cause you spend yourselves, may open the gate of that same glory.— Given on the 10th day before the kalends of February (the 23d of January), in the consulship of the most illustrious Severus and Quintianus.
To All Bishops. On brotherly love, and on avoiding the evil.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will. Luke 1:14 These words, most beloved, are not the words of men, but of angels; and they were not devised by human sense, but were uttered by angels at the birth of the Saviour. And from these words it can be understood without doubt by all that peace is given by the Lord, not to men of evil will, but to men of good will. Whence the Lord, speaking by the prophet, says:
How good is God to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart! But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had nearly slipped: for I was envious at the unrighteous, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. Of the good, however, the Truth says in His own person,
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 And they are not the pure in heart who think evil things, or things hurtful to their brethren; for he who is the faithful man devises nothing evil. The faithful man, accordingly, loves rather to hear things which are becoming, than to speak things which are not becoming. And if any one is faithful, let him see to it that he speak no evil, and lay no snares in the way of any one. In this, then, are the children of God distinguished from the children of the devil. For the children of God always think and strive to do things which are of God, and give help unceasingly to their brethren, and wish to injure no one. But, on the other hand, the children of the devil are always meditating things evil and hurtful, because their deeds are evil. And of them the Lord, speaking by the prophet Jeremiah, says:
I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness. Jeremiah 1:16
Wherefore I will yet plead with you, says the Lord; and with your children's children will I plead. Jeremiah 2:9
Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you. Jeremiah 18:11 These things, brethren, are greatly to be feared, and to be guarded against by all; for the man on whom the judgment of God may fall will not depart unhurt. And therefore let every one see to it carefully that he neither contrive nor do against a brother what he would not wish to have to endure himself. And let not the man of faith come under the suspicion even of saying or doing what he would not wish to have to endure himself. Wherefore persons suspected, or hostile or litigious, and those who are not of good conversation, or whose life is reprehensible, and those who do not hold and teach the right faith, have been debarred from being either accusers or witnesses by our predecessors with apostolic authority; and we too remove them from that function, and exclude them from it in times to come, lest those lapse wilfully whom we ought to keep in and save; lest not only (which may God forbid!) the predicted judgment of God should fall upon both, but we also should perish (which may God forbid!) through their fault. For it is written,
Have they made you the master of a feast? Take care for them, that you may be merry on their account, and receive as your crown the ornament of esteem, and find approbation of your election. Sirach 32:1-3 For the evil word affects the heart, out of which proceed these four objects, good and evil, life and death; and the tongue in its assiduous action is what determines these. Wherefore the before-named parties are altogether to be avoided; and until the before-noted matters are investigated, and the parties are found to be clear of such, they are not to be received: for the right sacrifice is to give heed to the commandments, and to depart from all iniquity.
To depart from wickedness is a thing pleasing to the Lord, and to forsake unrighteousness is a sacrifice of praise. Sirach 35:1-3 For it is written,
Love your friend, and be faithful unto him. But if you betray his secrets, follow no more after him. For as a man who destroys his friend, so is he who destroys (loses) the friendship of his neighbour. And as one that lets a bird go out of his hand, so are you that has let your neighbour go and shall not get him again. Follow after him no more, for he is far off. For he has escaped like a roe out of the snare, because his soul is wounded. You will not be able to bind him any more, and there is reconciliation for the reviled. But to betray the secrets of a friend is the desperation of a wretched soul. He that winks with the eye works evil, and no one will cast him off. When you are present, he will despise his own mouth, and express his wonder at your discourse; but at the last he will writhe his mouth, and slander your sayings. I have hated many things, but nothing like him; and the Lord will hate him. Whoever casts a stone on high, it will fall upon his own head, and a deceitful stroke of the deceitful will make wounds. Whoever digs a pit shall fall therein; and he that sets a stone in his neighbour's way will fall thereon; and he that places a snare for another will perish therein. He that works mischief, it shall fall upon him, and he shall not know whence it comes on him. Mockery and reproach are from the proud; and vengeance, as a lion, shall be in wait for them. They that rejoice at the fall of the righteous shall perish in the snare, and anguish shall consume them before they die. Anger and wrath are both abominations, and the sinful man shall have them both. Sirach 27:17-30 He that will be avenged shall find vengeance from the Lord, and he will surely keep his sins. Forgive your neighbour the hurt that he has done unto you, and then shall your sins be forgiven you when you pray. One man bears hatred against another; and does he ask redress of God? He shows no mercy to a man which is like himself; and does he ask forgiveness of the Most High for his own sins? He, though he is flesh, nourishes hatred; and does he ask pardon of God? Who will entreat for his sins? Remember your end, and let enmity cease; for corruption and death impend on commandments. Remember the fear of God, and bear no malice to your neighbour. Remember the covenant of the Highest, and look down upon (despice) the ignorance of your neighbour. Abstain from strife, and you shall diminish your sins.
For a furious man kindles strife; and a sinful man will disquiet friends, and make enmity among them that be at peace. For even as the trees of the wood are, so will the fire burn; and as a man's strength is, so will his anger be; and as his riches are, so will he make his anger rise. An hastened contention will kindle a fire, and an hastening quarrel will shed blood, and a testifying (testificans) tongue will bring death. If you blow upon the spark, it will burn like a fire; and if you spit upon it, it will be extinguished: and both these come out of the mouth. Cursed be the whisperer and doubled-tongued, for such have troubled many that were at peace. A third (tertia) tongue has disquieted many, and driven them from nation to nation: the fortified cities of the rich it has pulled down, and overthrown the houses of great men. It has subverted the virtues of peoples, and has destroyed strong nations. A third tongue has cast out truthful women, and deprived them of their labours. Whoever hearkens unto it shall never find rest, and never dwell quietly. The stroke of the whip makes marks in the flesh, but the stroke of the tongue will break bones. Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but not in such manner as those who have perished by their tongue. Well is he that is defended from the evil tongue, who has not passed into the anger thereof, and who has not drawn the yoke thereof, nor has been bound with the bands of it; for the yoke thereof is a yoke of iron, and the band thereof is a band of brass. The death thereof is the vilest death, and the grave were better than it. The perseverance thereof shall not abide; but it shall hold the ways of the unrighteous, and its flame shall not burn the righteous. Such as forsake the Lord shall fall into it, and it shall burn in them, and not be quenched; and it shall be sent upon them as a lion, and hurt them as a leopard. Hedge your ears about with thorns, and listen not to the evil tongue; and make a door for your mouth, and bars for your ears. Smelt (confla) your gold and silver, and make a balance for your words, and right curbs for your mouth. And beware that you slide not perchance in your tongue, and fall before your enemies that lie in wait for you, and your fall be irremediable even to death. Sirach xxviii
Make no tarrying to turn to the Lord, and put not off from day to day. For suddenly shall His wrath come, and in the time of vengeance He will destroy you. Set not your heart upon goods unjustly gotten, for they shall not profit you in the day of veiling (for execution, obductionis) and vengeance. Move not with every wind, and go not into every way; for so is the sinner proved with the double-tongue. Be steadfast in the way of the Lord, and in the truth of your understanding, and in knowledge; and let the word of peace and righteousness attend you. Be courteous in hearing the word, that you may understand it, and with wisdom give a true answer. If you have understanding, answer your neighbour; if not, lay your hand upon your mouth, lest you be caught in a word of folly, and be confounded. Honour and glory are in the talk of the intelligent man; the tongue of the unwise is his fall. Be not called a whisperer, and be not caught in your tongue, and confounded. For confusion and penitence are upon the thief, and the worst condemnation upon the double-tongued. Moreover, for the whisperer there is hatred, and enmity, and shame. Justify the small and the great alike. Sirach 5:7-18 Instead of a friend, become not an enemy to your neighbour. For the evil man shall inherit reproach and shame, and every sinner in like manner that is envious and double-tongued. Extol not yourself in the counsel of your own heart as a bull, lest perchance your virtue be shattered in folly, and it consume your leaves, and destroy your fruits, and you be left as a dry tree in the desert. For a wicked soul shall destroy him that has it, and makes him to be laughed to scorn by his enemies, and shall bring him down to the lot of the impious. Sirach 6:1-4 Most dearly beloved, study to lift up the oppressed, and always help the necessitous; for if a man relieves an afflicted brother, delivers a captive, or consoles a mourner, let him have no doubt that that will be recompensed to him by Him on whom he bestows it all, and who says:
Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of my brethren, you have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40 Strive, then, unceasingly to do what is good in such wise that you may both obtain the fruit of good works here, and enjoy the favour of God in the future, to the intent that hereafter ye may be worthy to enter the court of the heavenly kingdom. — Given on the fourth day before the kalends of May (the 28th of April), in the consulship of the most illustrious Severus and Quintianus.
On the translation of bishops and of episcopal seats.
To the brethren, most dearly beloved, constituted to be bishops in the provinces of Bœtica and Toletana, Bishop Anterus sends greeting in the Lord.
I should wish, my dearest brethren, always to receive the glad account of your sincere love and peace, so that the signs of your welfare might be promoted in turn by the dissemination of our letters among you, if our ancient enemy should give us quiet and deliverance from his attacks; who was a liar from the beginning, John 8:44 the enemy of the truth, the rival of man — in order to deceive whom he first deceived himself — the adversary of modesty, the master of luxury. He feeds on cruelties; he is punished by abstinence; he hates fasts, and his ministers preach, to that effect, as he declares them to be superfluous, having no hope of the future, and echoing that sentence of the apostle, in which he says,
Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die. 1 Corinthians 15:32 O miserable boldness! O subtlety of a desperate mind! For he exhorts to hatred, and puts concord to flight. And because the mind of man is easily drawn over to the worse part, and chooses rather to walk by the broad way than laboriously to take its course by the narrow way, for this reason, brethren most dearly beloved, follow ye the better, and always leave the worse behind you. Do good, avoid evil, in order that you may be found to be the disciples of the Lord in truth.
Now, of the transference of bishops, on which subject it has been your wish to consult the holy seat of the apostles, know ye that that may lawfully be done for the sake of the common good, or when it is absolutely necessary, but not at the mere will or bidding of any individual. Peter, our holy master, and the prince of the apostles, was translated for the sake of the common good from Antioch to Rome, in order that he might be in a position there of doing more service. Eusebius also was transferred from a certain minor city to Alexandria by apostolic authority. In like manner Felix, on account of the doctrine and the good life which he maintained, was translated by the common consent of the bishops and the other priests, and the people from the city in which, on the election of the citizens, he had been ordained, to Ephesus. For that man is not chargeable with shifting from city to city who does not do that of his own inclination or by the force of ambition, but who is transferred for the general good, or in virtue of some necessity, by the counsel and with the consent of the chief parties. Nor can he be said to transfer himself from a smaller city to a larger, who is placed in that position not by his own self-seeking or his own choice, but either as being driven out of his own proper seat by force, or as being compelled by some necessity, and who without pride and in humility has been translated and installed there by others for the good of the place or the people: for man looks on the countenance, but the Lord sees the heart. And the Lord, speaking by the prophet, says, mind. Nor does he change his city who is changed not of his own will, but by the decision and election of others. And accordingly he does not shift from city to city who does not leave his own city for the sake of gain to himself, or of his own choice, but who, as has already been said, has been translated to another city either in consequence of being driven out of his own seat, or compelled by some necessity, or in virtue of the election and injunction of the priests and people. For as the bishops have power regularly to ordain bishops and other orders of priests, so, as often as any matter of advantage or necessity constrains them, they have power in the above-mentioned manner both to transfer and to install. As you have asked our opinion in these matters, though they are not subjects unknown to you, we give you these things in charge to hold them, lest, through the ignorance of some, that which is better and more profitable be avoided, and what is more profitless be taken up, even as we read in the holy Gospel:
Woe unto you, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. You blind guides, which strain out a gnat and swallow a camel. Matthew 23:23-24 What is lawful is with them not lawful, and what is not lawful is lawful. Even as Jannes and Mambres 2 Timothy 3:8 resisted the truth, so do they, being reprobate in mind, and lovers of pleasure rather than of God, teach that that is unlawful which is lawful, to wit, that bishops should shift from city to city in the manner already noted; and what is unlawful they teach as lawful, to wit, to omit to show mercy to those who endure straits: that is to say, they deny that a bishop belonging to another city should be bestowed for good, or for necessity's sake, upon those who have no bishop, and who want the sacred episcopal ministry; and that another episcopal seat should be assigned to bishops who endure persecution or straits. They contradict the sacred Scripture also, which testifies that God desires mercy rather than judgment.
What greater charity, I pray you, can there be, or what more profitable service of piety, on the part of any one to another, than to deliver him from the darkness of ignorance and the thick darkness of inexperience, and restore him, in fine, by the nutriment of the doctrine of the true faith, not for gain indeed, or ambition, but for instruction and edification? [For he becomes, so to speak, the hand for the maimed, the foot for the lame, the eye for the blind, Job 29:15 who unlocks the treasure of wisdom and knowledge to one wrapped in the darkness of ignorance, and opens up to such an one the brightness of the light and the ways of the Lord.]
Now for both parties — namely, for those who endure a famine of the word of God, and for bishops who endure straits, when they are installed in other cities for the common good — no small degree of mercy is shown. And they who deny this, although they have the form of godliness, do yet deny the power thereof. 2 Timothy 3:5 For in such a matter I make no recognition of race (prosapiam). If, however, any one of the wise, whom the stress of this storm (or season) has allied with other leaders among the unwise, is stained with a participation in their deeds, yet the excellence of the wise man, although he may chance to be privy to their offenses, makes him incapable of giving himself as a leader to sinners. The cause of public good and necessity is one thing, and the cause of self-seeking, and presumption, or private inclination, is another thing. On account of self-seeking, or presumption, or private inclination, bishops are not to be transferred from one city to another, but only on account of public good and necessity. And this is a matter which no one denies, except those of whom it is said, Isaiah 28:7 For if I were constrained to open up in narration things that have been brought to end, I would show you that no comfort comes from the comparison of such deeds. But, most dearly beloved,
stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths of the Lord, and see what is the good way and the right, and walk therein, and you shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16 And, to speak according to the word of Wisdom:
Love righteousness, you that be judges of the earth. Think of the Lord in goodness, and in simplicity of heart seek Him. For He is found of them that tempt Him not, and shows Himself unto such as do not distrust Him. For froward thoughts separate from God; and His power, when it is tried, reproves the unwise. For into a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter, nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin. For the holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit, and remove from thoughts that are without understanding, and will not abide when unrighteousness comes in. For wisdom is a benign spirit, and will not acquit a blasphemer of His words. For God is witness of his reins, and a true beholder of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue. For the Spirit of the Lord has filled the world, and that which contains all things has knowledge of the voice. Therefore he that speaks unrighteous things cannot be hid; neither shall vengeance, when it punishes, pass by him. For inquisition shall be made into the counsels of the ungodly. And the sound of his words shall come unto the Lord, and unto the manifestation of his wicked deeds; for the ear of jealousy hears all things, and the noise of murmurings shall not be hid. Therefore beware of murmuring, which is unprofitable; and refrain your tongue from backbiting, for there is no word so secret that it shall go for nought. The mouth that belies slays the soul. Seek not death in the error of your life, and pull not upon yourself destruction with the works of your hands; for God made not death, neither has He pleasure in the destruction of the living. For He created all things that they might have their being, and He wished the nations of the world to be healthful. There is no poison of destruction in them, nor the kingdom of death upon the earth of the living. Righteousness is perpetual and immortal, but unrighteousness is the acquisition of death. And ungodly men with their hands and words called it to them; and when they thought to have it their friend, they consumed to nought, and made a covenant with it; because they are worthy of death who take part with it.
For they said, reasoning with themselves, but not aright, The time of our life is short and tedious; and in the death of a man there is no remedy, neither was there any man known to have returned from the grave. For we are born of nothing, and we shall be hereafter as though we had never been. For the breath in our nostrils is as smoke, and speech is a little spark for the moving of our heart; which being extinguished, our body shall be turned into ashes, and our spirit shall vanish as the soft air. And our life shall pass as the trace of a cloud, and shall be dispersed as a mist that is driven away with the beams of the sun, and overcome with the heat thereof. And our name shall be forgotten in time, and no man shall have our works in remembrance. For our time is a very shadow that passes away, and after our end there is no returning; for it is fast sealed, and no man shall come again. Wisdom 2:1-5 And for this reason every one must see to it that he keep himself with all care, and watch himself for his own good, so that when his last day and the end of his life come upon him, he may not pass over to everlasting death, but to eternal life. For the deeds of those put under us are judged by us, but our own does God judge. Sometimes, moreover, bishops are perverted through the fault of the people, to the end that those fall more precipitately who follow them. When the head languishes, the other members of the body are affected thereby. And viler are those who corrupt the life and morals of the good, than those who spoil the property and goods of others. Let each one take care that he have neither an itching tongue nor itching ears; that is to say, that he neither be a detractor of others himself, nor listen to others in their detractions.
You sat, says he,
and spoke against your brother; and you slandered your own mother's son. Let every individual abstain from a detracting tongue, and keep a guard upon his own words, and understand that all that they say of others shall enter into the judgment wherewith they themselves shall be judged. No one readily refers to an unwilling auditor. Let it be the care of all of you, most dearly beloved, to keep not only your eyes, but also your tongue, pure. And let not another house ever know by your means what is done in any man's house. Let all have the simplicity of the dove, that they devise not guile against any one; and the subtlety of the serpent, that they be not ever thrown by the crafty designs of others. It does not belong to my humble station and measure to judge others, and to say anything unfavourable of the ministers of the churches. Far be it from me that I should say anything unfavourable of those who are the successors to the apostolic status, and make the body of Christ with their sacred mouth; by whose instrumentality we too are Christians, and who have the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and exercise judgment before the day of judgment. Moreover, it is contained in the ancient law, that whoever has not given obedience to the priests should either be stoned outside the camp by the people, or with his neck beneath the sword should expiate his presumption by his blood. Deuteronomy xvii
Now, however, the disobedient is cut off by spiritual chastisement; and being cast out of the church, is torn by the rabid mouth of demons. For it becomes those who have God in their heritage, to serve God free from all the hindrances of the world, so that they may be able to say,
The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance.
O how good and pleasant is Your Spirit, O Lord, in all things! Wisdom 12:1 And You spare all because they are Yours, O Lord, who loves souls. Therefore chasten them little by little that offend, and warn them of those things wherein they offend, and address them, that leaving their wickedness, they may believe in You, O Lord. Wisdom 12:2
But You, our God, art gracious and true, long-suffering, and in mercy ordering all things. For if we sin, we are Yours, knowing Your power. And if we sin not, we know that we are counted Yours. Wisdom 15:1-2
The spirit of those that fear the Lord shall be required of him; and in His regard they shall be blessed. Sirach 34:13-14 Wherefore, most beloved brethren,
let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:29-32
Be therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becomes saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks. For this know ye, understanding that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things comes the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For you were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord: walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth), proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever is made manifest (manifestatur) is light. Wherefore He says, Awake, you that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, brethren, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Holy Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ. Ephesians 5:1-21 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the tradition of the apostles and the apostolic seat,
that our Lord Jesus Christ and our Father, which has loved us, and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, may comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-3 Wherefore set your hearts continually in the strength (virtute) of God, and always resist the wicked, and tell these things, according to the word of the prophet,
to the generations following; for this God is our God unto eternity, and He will rule us for ever and ever. Hence ye who are set for examples (in specula) by the Lord, ought by all means to check and keep back those who devise crafty counsels against the brethren, or excite against them seditions and slanders. For it is an easy thing to deceive man with a word, but it is not so with the Lord. Wherefore ye ought to reprehend such persons, and turn away from them, to the end that, all darkness of this manner being completely done away, the Morning Star may shine upon them, and gladness arise in their hearts.
And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, brethren, that you both do and will do the things which we command you. 2 Thessalonians 3:4 For the more ye show forth your kindnesses to them, the greater a return have ye to look for from the omnipotent God whom they serve. May the omnipotent God keep you in His protection, and grant you to maintain honour and precept; and may glory and honour be to God the Father Almighty, and to His only-begotten Son our Saviour, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.
Given on the 12th day before the kalends of April (the 21st of March), in the consulship of the most illustrious Maximianus and Africanus.
To All the Ministers of the Church Catholic. Of those who ought not to be admitted to clear themselves, and of the duty of having no fellowship with the excommunicated.
By the divine precepts and the apostolic institutes, we are admonished to watch in behoof of the position of all the churches with unwearied interest. Whence it follows that you ought to know what is being done in things sacred in the church of Rome, in order that, by following her example, you may be found to be true children of her who is called your mother. Accordingly, as we have received the institution from our fathers, we maintain seven deacons in the city of Rome distributed over seven districts of the state, who attend to the services enjoined on them week by week, and on the Lord's days and the solemn festivals, in concert with the subdeacons, and acolytes, and servants of the succeeding orders, and hold themselves in readiness every hour for religious duty, and for the discharge of all that is enjoined upon them. In like manner ought ye also to do throughout your different cities, as may be convenient, that religious duty may be discharged zealously and regularly, without any delay or negligence. Furthermore, we have ordained in like manner seven subdeacons who shall stand by (imminerent) the seven notaries, and bring into one full and accurate account the histories of the martyrs, and lay them before us for our examination. And this, too, we urge you all to do, so that no doubt or questioning of these things may arise in later times;
for whatsoever things were written, were written for our learning. Romans 15:4 And whatsoever things are written in truth in our times, are directed to the learning of future times. And therefore we enjoin these duties to be put in charge of the most faithful, that nothing false may be found in them, from which an offense (which may God forbid) may arise to the faithful. For this reason also we beg it of your love in paternal benignity, that the holy Church may now find the good-will of your love in all things, and obtain the comforts of your favour whenever there is necessity. And as the goodness of your zeal affords us the assurance that we ought to distrust it in nothing, but rather commit these things in all confidence to you as to wise sons of our church; so, small importance being attached to opportune occasions, your virtue ought to exert itself the more strenuously in labours, and keep off reproaches by all possible means, and with all zeal. We exhort you also, according to the word of the apostle, to be
steadfast and immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as you know that your labour is not vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58 And in another place:
Watch ye, and pray, and stand fast in the faith. Quit you like men, and be strong. Let all things be done with charity. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 Furthermore, we desire you to know this, that in our times, as our sins embarrassed us, and that ancient enemy who always goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, 1 Peter 5:8 instigated him, Novatus came up out of Africa, and separated Novatianus and certain other confessors of Christ from the Church of Christ, and persuaded them into the acceptance of evil doctrine. From such persons, brethren, keep yourselves aloof, and beware of all who hold a faith and doctrine different from that which the apostles and their successors have held and taught, lest (which may God forbid) going after him ye fall into the toils of Satan, and be bound with his fetters. Wherefore with most earnest prayers we beg it of your brotherly love, that you may deem it fit to remember our insignificance in your holy prayers, beseeching and entreating the Lord of heaven that we, as well as our holy mother the Church of Christ, redeemed with His precious blood, may be delivered from the toils of Satan, who lies in wait for us; and from troublesome and wicked men, and that the Word of God may have free course and be glorified, and that the evil doctrine of them, and of all who teach things contrary to the truth, may be overthrown and perish. We beseech you also to be zealous in praying in your pious supplications, that our God and Lord Jesus Christ, who will have all men to be saved, and no one to perish, 1 Timothy 2:4 may, by His vast omnipotence, cause their hearts to turn again to sound doctrine and to the Catholic faith, in order that they may be recovered from the toils of the devil who are held captive by him, and be united with the children of our mother the Church. Be mindful also of your brethren, and have pity upon them, and labour for them by all means in your power, that they be not lost, but be saved unto the Lord by your prayers, and other efforts of your goodness. So act therefore in these matters that you may approve yourselves as obedient and faithful children of the holy Church of God, and that you may obtain the recompense of reward. These men, and all else who do not teach the true doctrine, and hold not the true faith, cannot act as accusers of any true believer, because they are branded with infamy, and are cut off from the bosom of our holy mother the Church by the sword of the apostles, until their return to correct conversation and belief. Hence by apostolic authority, and in agreement with all the sons of the same apostolic and universal Church, we resolve that all who come under suspicion with respect to the Catholic faith cannot be admitted as accusers of those who hold the true creed; for suspicions are always to be set aside. Rightly therefore are charges which are preferred by those who are objects of suspicion in the matter of the true faith, rejected. Neither are they at all to be credited who are unacquainted with the faith of the Trinity. In like manner we set aside and withdraw from all part in the accusing of the faithful, all those whom the decrees of the holy fathers in times past and times future alike anathematize. Accordingly, the believing ought always to be kept distinct from the unbelieving, and the righteous from the unrighteous; since the unbelieving and evil-minded, by every means in their power, are always troubling the believing, and striving to undo them; and consequently they are not to be received, but rejected and kept entirely at a distance, lest they may undo or defame the believing. For this reason, dearly beloved, beware of the pit of such persons, into which we know many have fallen. Beware of the snares (or darts) of such persons, and of the efforts of the ancient enemy, by which we have seen even those closely connected with us fall wounded before us. Watch the nooses of the liers in wait, by which they are wont to strangle associates and comrades. Follow not such, but keep them far off from you. Be, according to the voice of Truth, wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16 See to it that you neither run nor labour in vain; but, sustained by each other's prayers and supplications, strive ye to do the will of God; and from those persons whom I have mentioned, if they show themselves incorrigible, keep yourselves separate in all things. In like manner keep yourselves separate from all those of whom the apostle makes mention when he says,
with such persons, no, not to eat; 1 Corinthians 5:11 since these latter, as well as the former, are to be rejected, and are not to be admitted before they have given satisfaction to the Church. For those with whom it is not lawful to eat are manifestly separated from all intercourse with the rest of the brethren until such satisfaction is given. Wherefore they ought not and cannot be admitted to the preferring of charges against the faithful, but they ought to be debarred from their society until the satisfaction already mentioned is given, lest these too should be made like them, or underlie their excommunication; for to this effect have the apostles decreed, saying, With the excommunicated no fellowship is to be held. And if any one, setting aside the rules wittingly, sings with the excommunicated in his house, or speaks or prays in company with them, that man is to be deprived of the privilege of communion. Such persons, therefore, are in all things to be guarded against, and are not to be received, because, according to the apostle, not only those who commit such things are condemned, but also those who consent with those who do them. Romans 1:32 Whence also the blessed chief of the apostles, Peter, addressing the people at the ordination of Clement, says this among other things: If this Clement is hostile to any one on account of his deeds, wait not ye for his saying directly to you, Be not on terms of friendship with this man. But mark ye carefully his will as you ought, and second it without need of direct injunction; and separate yourselves from that man to whom you perceive him to be inimical, and speak not with those with whom he speaks not, in order that every one who may be in fault, as he desires to possess the friendship of all of you, may be zealous in effecting a reconciliation all the more quickly with him who presides over all, so that he may return to spiritual well-being (redeat et salutem) hereby, when he begins to yield obedience to the charges of the president.
If, however, any one is not friendly, and speaks with those with whom he (his chief) speaks not, such an one belongs to those who seek to exterminate the Church of God; and though he seems to be with you in body, he is against you in mind and heart. And such an one is a much more dangerous enemy than those who are without, and who are openly hostile. For this man under the guise of friendship acts the part of an enemy, and scatters and ruins the church. And therefore, dearly beloved, in these apostolic institutes we warn and teach you, that your charity, being instructed therein (effecta certior), may hereafter study to act with greater care and prudence, so that perverse and unbelieving men may not have the power of injuring the faithful and well-disposed; for the hope of such, and of all the ungodly, is like dust that is blown away with the wind; and like a thin froth that is driven away with the storm; and like as the smoke which is dispersed here and there with a tempest, and as the remembrance of a of a single day that passes away. Wisdom 5:14 With the utmost care, dearly beloved, are such persons to be guarded against, and avoided, and rejected, if they show themselves injurious. For the laws of the world, no less than those of the Church, do not admit the injurious, but reject them. Whence it is written,
The mouth of the wicked devours iniquity. Proverbs 19:28 And the Lord, speaking by the prophet, says,
With the holy you will show yourself holy; and with the froward you will show yourself froward; and with the excellent you will show yourself excellent (electus); and with the innocent man you will show yourself innocent. And the apostle says,
Evil communications corrupt good manners. 1 Corinthians 15:33 Wherefore, as has already been indicated, the wicked are always to be avoided and shunned, and the good and rightly-disposed are to be steadfastly followed, in order that, as far as possible, we may avoid the peril of sloth. And lest this pest may be spread abroad more widely, let us cut it off from us with all possible severity; for the temerity of presumption does not intervene where there is the diligence of piety. Let every one of you, sustained by this apostolic representation, act according to his strength, and study in brotherly love and in godly piety to keep his own manners correct, and to help each other, and to abide in charity, and to keep himself in the will of God unceasingly, in order that we may praise the Lord together, and give Him thanks always without wearying. Fare well in the Lord, dearly beloved, and with the Lord's help strive to fulfil to the best of your ability the things before mentioned.— Given on the first day of July, in the consulship of the most illustrious Maximinus (or, Maximus) and Africanus.
To All the Bishops of the East. That the chrism should be renewed with consecration every year, and that the old supply should be set aside to be burnt in the churches; also concerning the accusing of priests, and on the duty of the sheep not to dare to blame their shepherd unless he errs in the faith.
Your love for the seat of the apostles requires counsels which we neither can nor ought to deny you. It is clear, moreover, that our predecessors did this for the bishops of many districts; and brotherly charity and the debt of obedience impose the duty of so doing also upon us who, by the bountiful goodness of God, are placed in the same seat. Care, therefore, is to be had by your solicitude, that neither remissness may avail to neglect, nor presumption be able to disturb, those things which have been ordained by the apostles and their successors, and established under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But as it was proper that that should be defined which the use of right order required, so what has been so defined ought not to be violated.
Now, among other matters, in your letter we find it stated that certain bishops of your district adopt a different practice from yours and ours, and do not prepare the chrism at the Lord's supper every year, but keep it in use for two or three, making such a supply of the holy chrism once for all. For they say, as we find in the letter referred to, that balsam cannot be got every year; and besides that, even though it were got, there would be no necessity for preparing chrism every year, but that, so long as the one preparation of chrism is sufficiently large, they have no need to make another. They are in error, however, who think so; and in making such statements they speak like madmen rather than men in their right senses. For on that day the Lord Jesus, after supping with His disciples, and washing their feet, according to the tradition which our predecessors received from the holy apostles and left to us, taught them to prepare the chrism. That washing of their feet signifies our baptism, as it is completed and confirmed by the unction of the holy chrism. For as the solemn observance of that day is to be kept every year, so the preparing of that holy chrism is to be attended to every year, and it is to be renewed from year to year and given to the faithful. For the material of this new sacrament is to be made anew every year, and on the day already named; and the old supply is to be burned in the holy churches. These things we have received from the holy apostles and their successors, and we commit them to your keeping. The holy church of Rome and that of Antioch have been guardians of these things from the times of the apostles: these things also the churches of Jerusalem and Ephesus maintain. Presiding over these churches, the apostles taught these things, and ordained that the old chrism should be burnt, and permitted them to use it no longer than one year, and commanded them thereafter to use the new, and not the old material. If any one, therefore, ventures to go against these things, let him understand that the door of indulgence is barred against him on your part and on that of all right-minded men: for the perverse doctrine of most depraved minds, while it uses the reins too indulgently, slips into the sin of presumption; and it can by no means be cast out, unless it is cleared of all support and correction on the part of the intelligent. And those usages which the holy Church throughout the whole world uniformly observes with respect to the divine mysteries, and towards the subjects of baptism, are not to be regarded with indifferent concern, lest we make way for purposeless efforts and superstitions. We ought not, therefore, to bring over the untaught minds of the faithful to such practices as we have named, because they should be instructed rather than played upon. For good deeds make for our happiness, and evil deeds prick us with the stings of sorrow. But here, however we are situated, we are among the hands of robbers and the teeth of raging wolves, and the contumacious are put in the place of the true sheep. And it is by the barking of the dogs and the staff of the shepherd that the fury of the wolves is checked. Those wounds, moreover, which cannot be healed by remedies, must be cut out with the knife. Neither can we keep silence, for, in seeking here to call back some from things unlawful, we are impelled by the instinct of our office, having been set on the watchtowers by the Lord with this object, that we should prove the diligence of our watchfulness by checking things that should be prohibited, and deciding for things that should be observed.
You desired also to consult us, as we find in the above-mentioned letter of yours, on the subject of the accusing of priest — a thing which, as we learn also from the same epistle, is exceedingly frequent among you. You have intimated, besides, that very many notice that not a few in places of ecclesiastical dignity do not live in a manner conformable to the discourses and sacraments with which the people are served by their means. O miserable men, who in looking at these forget Christ, who long since indeed told us how that the law of God should be obeyed, rather than that those should be looked to for imitation who do not the things which they say; and bearing with the traitor himself even to the end, He sent him also along with the rest to preach the Gospel. For the apostles had no such custom, neither did they teach that it was one fit to be had. And to like effect their successors also, foreseeing by the Spirit of God things to come, have determined largely on such subject. Besides, as you read in the Acts of the Apostles,
There was at that time among them that believed one heart and one soul; neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. Acts 4:32 For there was no laying of accusations against each other among them, except what was friendly; neither ought there ever to be such among their followers or among believers: for the Lord says,
Do not that to another which you would not have done to yourself. And He says also,
You shall love your neighbour as yourself; and, Love works no ill to his neighbour. Romans 13:10 In accordance herewith, the apostles themselves and their successors decreed of old time that those persons should not be admitted to lay accusations who were under suspicion, or who but yesterday, or the day before, or a little time ago, were at enmity, as they come thus under suspicion, or who are not of good conversation, or whose life is reprehensible, or who are doubtful in the matter of the true faith. In like manner is it decided to be with those whose faith and life and liberty are unknown, or who are marked with the stains of infamy, or entangled in the snares of offenses. Again, those have neither the right nor the power to accuse the priests or the clergy, who are incapable themselves of being made priests legitimately, and are not of their order; for just as the priests and the other members of the clerical order are debarred from laying accusations against the secular laity, so these latter, too, should be debarred and excluded from the right of bringing charges against the former. And as the former should not be admired by the latter, so the latter should not be admired by the former: for as the conversation of the priests of the Lord ought to be something separate from the conversation of these others, so should they be separate from them also in the matter of litigation;
for the servant of the Lord ought not to strive. 1 Timothy 2:24 To the utmost of your power, dearly beloved brethren, prohibit such accusations, and all unrighteous and injurious emulations, because contention is to be avoided by all means.
For a just man will fall seven times in a day, and will rise again; but the wicked shall fall into mischief. Rejoice not when your enemy falls, says Solomon,
and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him. Fret not yourself because of evil-doers, neither be envious at the wicked: for the evil have not the hope of the future, and the candle of the wicked shall be put out. Envy not evil men, neither be desirous to be with them; for their mind meditates rapine, and their lips speak deceits. Dearly beloved, beware of these things. Ponder these things, and minister comfort to the brethren in all things; for, as the Truth says in His own person, John 13:35 For if in things secular each man's right and his proper position are kept for him, how much more ought there to be no confusion induced in matters of ecclesiastical order! And this is a right which will be duly observed if no deference is paid to mere power, but all to equity. Whence it is an established duty, that the bishops of each several district should exercise a watchful care over all those who live under their rule, and in the fear of God should dispose of all cases in which they are concerned, and of all matters in which they are interested. It is therefore extremely inequitable that any bishops should neglect their own cases, and mix themselves up with those of others. But those whose part it is to ordain such persons to the priesthood, and by whom they have been already ordained, ought to order the life and judgment of such by the exercise of a competent and regular administration; for, as the law says,
Cursed is every one that removes his neighbour's landmarks. And all the people said Amen. Deuteronomy 27:17 To this therefore, brethren, has God foreordained you, and all who hold the highest office of the priesthood, that you should put all injustice out of the way, and cut off presumption, and help those who labour in the priesthood, and give no occasion for their reproach and trouble, but bring assistance to him who endures calumny and reproach, and cut off him who works calumny and reproach, and act for the help of the Lord in His priests. The Lord, moreover, has chosen the priests for Himself, that they should sacrifice to Him, and offer oblations to their Lord. He commanded the Levites also to be under them in their ministries. Whence He speaks to Moses in these terms:
And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest shall be chief over the chief of the Levites, and have the oversight of them that keep the charge of the sanctuary. Numbers 3:32 For of these the Lord spoke to Moses in this wise:
Take the Levites instead of the first-born among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the Lord. Numbers 3:45 If the Lord willed the Levites to be His own, how much more has He taken the priests for Himself! And of these He says:
If any stranger comes near, he shall be put to death. Numbers 1:51 All objects, moreover, that are the Lord's are to be handled carefully, and are not lightly to be injured; for even among men, those are reckoned faithful who attend to the interests of their masters rightly, and deal with them faithfully, and rightly observe the commands of their masters, and transgress them not. And those, on the other hand, are reputed unfaithful who deal with the interests of their masters carelessly and negligently, and despise their commands, and do not observe them as they ought.
Accordingly we have set these matters before you, in order that those who now know it not may know this; viz., that the priests, too, whom the Lord has taken to Himself from among all men, and has willed to be His own, are not to be dealt with lightly, nor injured, nor rashly accused or reprehended, save by their masters, seeing that the Lord has chosen to reserve their causes to Himself, and ministers vengeance according to His own judgment. For in these and other precepts of the Lord the faithful are distinguished, and the unfaithful at the same time disapproved. For these are rather to be borne with by the faithful than made subjects of reproach (exprobrandi); just as there is chaff with the wheat even to the last winnowing, and as there are bad fish with good even on to their separation, which is yet to be on the shore — that is to say, at the end of the world. By no means, then, can that man be condemned by a human examination, whom God has reserved for His own judgment, that the purpose of God, according to which He has decreed to save what had perished, may be unalterable. And consequently, as His will suffers no change, let no man presume on matters which are not conceded to him. And herein is the meaning of that word which the apostle speaks:
Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do you not rather take wrong? Why do you not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 1 Corinthians 6:7 To this, too, our Lord's word may refer:
And if any man will take away your coat, and sue you at the law, let him have your cloak also. Matthew 5:40 And in another place:
Of him that takes away your goods, ask them not again. Luke 6:30 Moreover, there are certain things which might be thought most trivial were they not shown in the Scriptures to be of more serious import. Who would ever consider the man who says to his brother
You fool worthy of hell-fire, were it not that the Truth Himself told us so? Matthew 5:22 Those, furthermore, who commit those sins whereof the apostle says,
They who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God, Galatians 5:21 are by all means to be guarded against, and are to be compelled to seek amendment if they do not choose it voluntarily, because they are marked with the stains of infamy, and go down into the pit, unless assistance is brought them by sacerdotal authority. Those also are to be dealt with in like manner of whom he says,
With such persons, no, not to eat; 1 Corinthians 5:11 because such persons are branded with infamy until they are restored by sacerdotal authority, and reinstated in the bosom of our holy mother the Church; since those who are outside us cannot communicate with us. And it is manifest that these are outside us, and ought to be separated from us, with whom it is not lawful for us to eat or to take food. In like manner also, all persons who underlie the charge of any manner of turpitude and dishonour, are rendered infamous; and all who arm themselves against fathers are rendered infamous.
Sand, and salt, and a mass of iron, is easier to bear than a man without understanding, and foolish and impious. Sirach 22:15
He that wants understanding thinks upon vain things; and a foolish and erring man imagines follies. Sirach 16:23 For their suspicion has overthrown many, and their opinion has held them in vanity.
A stubborn heart shall fare evil at the last; and he that loves danger shall perish therein. A heart that enters two ways shall not have rest; and the evil heart in them shall be made to stumble. A wicked heart shall be laden with sorrows; and the sinner shall heap sin upon sin. The holy apostles and their successors, having such things in mind, and foreseeing, as being filled with the Holy Spirit, the course of wicked men, and having regard to the simple, determined that the accusing of priests should be a matter undertaken with difficulty, or never undertaken, that they might not be ruined or displaced by wicked men. For if this were made an easy matter to secular and wicked men, there would remain no one, or but the scantiest few; seeing that it ever has been and still is the case — and (which is yet worse) that too in growing measure — that the wicked persecute the good, and that the carnal are hostile to the spiritual. For this reason, then, as has been already said, they decreed that such should not be accused at all; or if that could not be avoided, that the accusing of such should be made a matter of great difficulty. And they determined also, as has been stated above, by what persons that function should not be assumed; and they resolved further, that bishops should not be cast out from their own proper seats and churches. But if in any way the matter of accusation should be taken in hand before their rightful seat and all their property are restored by those laws, they should by no means be accused or criminated by any one, and should not answer any one on such charges, unless they choose to do so of their own accord. But after they have been reinstated, as has been before noted, and have had all their effects restored to them by those laws, when their affairs are arranged and set in order, they should then have a long period allowed them for the disposing of their case; and thereafter, if need be, they should be regularly summoned, and so come to the suit; and if the matter seem just, they should answer the propositions of their accusers with the help of their brethren. For so long as their effects, or their churches and property, are held by their adversaries, or by any person, no manner of reason allows that any charge ought to be preferred against them. And no one is at liberty by any means to bring any charge against them, whether superior or inferior, so long as they are dispossessed of their churches, effects, or powers. In like manner also it was decreed, and we too confirm the same statutes and hereby decree, that if any one among the clergy proves an enemy or traducer of his bishops, and seeks to criminate them, or conspires against them, at once, before the consideration of judicial investigation, he should be removed from the clerical order, and given over to the court (curiæ), to which he shall devote himself zealously all the days of his life, and shall remain infamous without any hope of restoration. And let no one ever presume to be at once accuser, and judge, or witness; for in every judicial investigation there must always be four persons present: that is, the judges elected, and the accusers, and the defenders, and the witnesses. In like manner we decree and ordain by apostolic authority, that the flock should not dare to bring a charge against their pastor, to whose care they had been consigned, unless he falls into error in the faith; for the deeds of superiors are not to be smitten with the sword of the mouth; neither can the disciple be above the master, as the voice of Truth says,
The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. Matthew 10:24
And pride is hateful before God and men, and all iniquity is execrable.
The Lord has destroyed the memory of the proud, and has left the memory of the humble in mind. The seed of men shall be honoured, this seed that fears God. But that seed shall be dishonoured that transgresses the commandments of the Lord. Among brethren, he that is chief is honourable; and they that fear the Lord shall be in His eyes. My son, says Solomon, preserve your soul in meekness, and give honour to him whom honour beseems.
Blame not any one before you examine him; and when you have examined him, reprove him justly. Answer not a word before you hear the cause; neither interrupt with talk in the midst of your seniors. Sirach 11:7-8 After the example of Ham the son of Noah, they are condemned who bring the faults of their fathers into public view, or presume to accuse or calumniate them; even as was the case with Ham, who did not cover the shame of his father Noah, but exhibited it for mockery. And in like manner those are justified by the example of Shem and Japhet, who reverently cover and seek not to display those matters in which they find their fathers to have erred. For if a bishop should happen to err from the faith, he should in the first place be corrected privately by those placed under him (a subditis suis). And if he show himself incorrigible (which may God forbid), then an accusation should be laid against him before his primates, or before the seat of the apostles. For his other actings, however, he is rather to be borne with by his flock and those put under him, than accused or made the subject of public detraction; because when any offense is committed in these matters by those put under them, His ordinance is withstood who set them before him, as the apostle says,
Whosoever resists the power, resists the ordinance of God. Romans 13:2 But he who fears Almighty God, agrees in no way to do anything contrary to the Gospel, or contrary to the apostles, or contrary to the prophets or the institutions of the holy fathers. The priests therefore are to be honoured, and not to be injured or reproached. Thus read we in Ecclesiasticus:
Fear the Lord with all your soul, and reverence His priests. Love Him that made you with all your strength, and forsake not His ministers. Honour God with your whole soul, and honour the priest, and cleanse yourself beforehand with the shoulders (propurga te cum brachiis). Give him his portion, as it is commanded you, of the first-fruits; and purge yourself concerning negligence with a few things. You shall offer the gift of your shoulders, and the sacrifice of sanctification, and the first-fruits of the holy things to the Lord. And stretch your hand unto the poor, that your atonement and blessing may be perfected. Sirach 7:29-32 We desire these things to become known not to you only, but through you to all the brethren, that we may abide in Christ of one accord and one mind, making no claim for ourselves through strife or vainglory, and being pleasers not of men, but of God our Saviour. To Him belongs honour and glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
To Bishop Hilary. That extraneous judgments should be rejected, and that the accused person should carry out his cause in his own locality; and that every one who brings forward a charge should intimate in writing his ability to prove it, and that if he fails to prove what he alleges, he should bear the penalty which he advanced.
Fabian, to my dearly beloved brother Bishop Hilary.
We ought to be mindful of the grace of God to us, who, in the compassion of His own regard, has raised us for this reason to the summit of sacerdotal dignity, that by cleaving to His commandments, and by being set in a certain eminence as overseers of His priests, we may restrain things unlawful, and inculcate things that are to be followed. For we have heard that in those western parts in which you dwell, the craft of the devil rages so violently against the people of Christ, and breaks forth in delusions so manifold, that it oppresses and troubles not only the secular laity, but the priests of the Lord themselves also. Wherefore, involved as we are in deep grief, we cannot conceal what we ought severely to correct. Accordingly a sufficient remedy must be employed for such wounds, lest a hasty facility in the cure may prove of no service for the deadly disease of the head; and lest the trouble, by being too easily dealt with, may involve, through the defect of an illegitimate mode of cure, the hurt and the healers together in its evil.
On this account, therefore, we decree and resolve, that those who are not of good conversation, or whose life is impeachable, or whose faith and life and liberty are unknown, should not have the power of accusing the priests of the Lord, lest vile persons should thus be admitted to the liberty of accusing them. In like manner, those who are involved in any matters of accusation, or who are under suspicion, should not have a voice in laying charges against their seniors; for the voice of the suspected and the inimical is wont to oppress the truth.
Moreover, by a general ordinance, and without prejudice to the authority of the apostles in all things, we prohibit extraneous judgments, because it is not fit that he should be judged by strangers, who ought to have those of his own province and those elected by himself as his judges, unless an appeal has been made. Wherefore, if any one of the bishops is accused on precise charges, he ought to be heard by all the bishops who are in the province; for it is not right that an accused person should be heard elsewhere than in his own circuit. Again, if any one is of opinion that he has a judge adverse to him, he should claim the right of appeal; and an appellant ought to be injured by no kind of oppression or detention; but an appellant ought to have the liberty of righting his case, when wronged, by the remedy of appeal. There ought also to be liberty of appeal in criminal cases. And the right of appealing ought to be denied to no one whom judgment has destined for punishment.
A person arraigned ought to plead his cause before his judge; and an arraigned person may refuse to speak, if he choose so, before one who is not his own proper judge; and indulgence (induciæ) should be granted to the arraigned as often as they appeal.
If, then, any one in passion brings a charge rashly against any one, mere abuse is not to be taken for an accusation. But a certain time being allowed for dealing with the matter, the person should profess his ability in writing to prove what he has alleged in passion; so that, if he should happen to think better of the things he uttered in passion, and decline to repeat or write them, the person may not be held as charged with the crime. Every one, therefore, who adduces a charge, ought to state in writing his ability to prove it. And, indeed, a cause should always be dealt with in the place where the charge is admitted; and the man who fails to substantiate his allegation, should himself bear the penalty which he advanced.
It is determined, moreover, that, in the case of an accused bishop appealing to the seat of the apostles, that should be held to be a settlement which is the decision of the pontiff of that same seat. On all occasions, however, in cases concerning priests, let this form be maintained, that no one be bound by a decision pronounced by another than his own proper judge. It is the duty also of all the faithful to be ready to help the oppressed and the miserable in their distress, in order that by the manifestation of another manner of recompense (vindictæ) they may be able to keep the recompense (vengeance) of God from themselves. For he offers (libat) things prosperous to the Lord who keeps off things adverse from the afflicted. Whence it is written,
A brother aiding a brother shall be exalted. Proverbs 18:19 For the Church of God ought to be without spot or wrinkle, and therefore it ought not to be trodden and defiled by certain persons; for it is written,
My dove, my undefiled, is but one. Song of Songs 6:9 Hence, again, the Lord says to Moses,
There is a place with me (penes me), and you shall stand upon a rock. Exodus 33:21 What place is there that belongs not to the Lord, seeing that all things consist in Him by whom they were created? There is a place, however, with God — to wit, the unity of the holy Church — in which there is a standing upon a rock, while the perfection of the confession (confessionis soliditas) is held in lowliness. We admonish you, our brother, and all our brethren who are rulers in the Church of Christ, which He has purchased with His blood, to keep back, by whatever checks ye possess, all men from that abyss into which some brethren are slipping, in reviling the Lord's pastors, and persecuting them both by word and deed; and we counsel you not to suffer them to be wounded with the hook of passion: for it is written, James 1:20 Hence it is said again,
Let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak, and slow to wrath. James 1:19 Now I doubt not that with God's help you observe all these things; but as an occasion for counsel has arisen, I also secretly attach my word to your good desires and deeds, so that what you are doing of yourselves and independently of admonition you may do presently not by yourselves alone, now that the counsellor himself is added to you. Wherefore, brethren, it becomes you and all the faithful to love each other, and not to calumniate or accuse one another: for it is written,
Love your neighbour, and be faithful unto him. But if you betray his secrets, you shall follow no more after him. For as a man who destroys his friend, so is he that loses the love of his neighbour. And as one that lets a bird go out of his hand, so are you who has let your neighbour go, and shall not get him again. Follow after him no more, for he is far off. For he is as a roe escaped out of the snare, since his soul is wounded. Further you will not be able to bind him up, and after reviling there may be reconcilement; but to bewray the secrets of a friend is the despair of an unhappy mind. He that winks with the eye works evil, and every one will cast him off. When you are present, he will speak sweetly, and will admire your words. But at last he will writhe his mouth, and slander your sayings. I have hated many things, but nothing like him; and the Lord will hate him. Whoever casts a stone on high, it will fall upon his own head; and a deceitful stroke shall make wounds in the deceiver. Whoever digs a pit shall fall therein; and he that places a stone in his neighbour's way shall stumble thereon; and he that sets a trap for another shall perish in it. He that works mischief, it shall fall upon him; and he shall not know whence it comes on him. Mockery and reproach are from the proud; and vengeance, as a lion, shall lie in wait for them. They that rejoice at the fall of the righteous shall be taken in the snare; and anguish shall consume them before they die. Wrath and fury are both abominations, and the sinful man shall have them both. Sirach 27:17-30
He that desires to be avenged shall find vengeance from the Lord, and He will surely keep his sins in remembrance. Forgive your neighbour the hurt that he has done you; so shall your sins also be forgiven you when you pray. One man bears hatred against another, and does he seek pardon from the Lord? He shows no mercy to a man which is like himself, and does he ask forgiveness of his own sins from the Most High? He, though he is but flesh, nourishes hatred; and does he implore mercy from God? Who will entreat for pardon of his sins? Remember your end, and let enmity cease. For corruption and death impend on His commandments. Remember the fear of God, and bear no malice to your neighbour. Remember the covenant of the Highest, and wink at the ignorance of your neighbour. Abstain from strife, and you shall diminish your sins. For a furious man will kindle strife, and a sinful man will disquiet friends, and will make debate among them that be at peace. For according to the trees of the wood, so will the fire burn; and according as a man's strength is, so will his wrath be; and according to his riches, his anger will rise. An hasty contention will kindle a fire; and an hasty fighting will shed blood; and a tale-bearing (testificans) tongue will cause death. If you blow the spark, it shall burn like a fire; and if you spit upon it, it shall be quenched; and both these come out of your mouth. The whisperer and double-tongued is cursed; for he has destroyed many that were at peace. A backbiting (tertia) tongue has disquieted many, and driven them from nation to nation. Strong cities of the rich has it pulled down, and overthrown the houses of great men. It has destroyed the strength of peoples, and has scattered strong nations. A backbiting tongue has cast out virtuous women (viratas, spirited), and deprived them of their labours. Whoever hearkens unto it shall never find rest, and shall never have a friend on whom he may repose. The stroke of the whip makes marks; but the stroke of the tongue will break the bones. Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but not so many as have fallen by the tongue. Well is he that is defended from the evil tongue, and has not passed through the venom thereof; who has not drawn the yoke thereof, nor has been bound in her bands. For the yoke thereof is a yoke of iron, and the bands thereof are bands of brass. The death thereof is an evil death, and the grave were better than it. Its endurance shall not abide, but it shall possess the ways of the unrighteous. In its flame it shall not burn the righteous. Such as forsake the Lord shall fall into it; and it shall burn in them, and not be quenched; and it shall be sent upon them as a lion, and devour them as a leopard. Hedge your ears (sæpi aures) about with thorns, and refuse to listen to the evil tongue, and make a door for your mouth and bars for your ears. Smelt (confla) your gold and your silver, and make a balance for your words, and a right bridle for your mouth. And beware lest you slide perchance in your tongue, and fall in the sight of your enemies that be in wait for you, and your fall be irremediable unto death. Sirach xxviii Let all beware of these things, and
keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile.
Finally, dearly beloved, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places (cœlestibus). Wherefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and to stand perfect in all (omnibus perfecti). Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; in all (in omnibus) taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17 It is our wish, brother, that those things which we have written to you should be made known generally to all, in order that things which touch the others should be made known to all. May Almighty God protect you, brother, and all our brethren everywhere situate, even to the end — even He who has thought good to redeem the whole world, our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever. Amen.— Given on the 16th day of October, in the consulship of the most illustrious Africanus and Decius.
Taken from the Decretal of Gratian.
If any injured person refuses to be reconciled to his brother, when he who has injured him offers satisfaction, he should be reduced by the severest fastings, even until he accepts the satisfaction offered him with thankful mind.
Whosoever has knowingly forsworn himself, should be put for forty days on bread and water, and do penance also for the seven following years; and he should never be without penance; and he should never be admitted to bear witness. After this, however, he may enjoy communion.
Neither can a mad man nor a mad woman enter into the marriage relation. But if it has been entered, then they shall not be separated.
Concerning relations who enter affinity by the connection of husband and wife, these, on the decease of wife or husband, may form a union in the fifth generation; and in the fourth, if they are found, they should not be separated. In the third degree of relationship, however, it is not lawful for one to take the wife of another on his death. In an equable manner, a man may be united in marriage after his wife's death with those who are his own kinswomen, and with the kinswomen of his wife.
To the immediately preceding notice.
Those who marry a wife allied by blood, and are separated, shall not be at liberty, as long as both parties are alive, to unite other wives with them in marriage, unless they can plead the excuse of ignorance.
No alien should accuse blood connections, or reckon the matter of consanguinity in the synod, but relations to whose knowledge it pertains — that is, father and mother, sister and brother, paternal uncle, maternal uncle, paternal aunt, maternal aunt, and their children. If, however, offspring entirely fails, the bishop shall make inquiry canonically of the older and more trustworthy persons to whom the same relationship may be known; and if such relationship is found, the parties should be separated.
Although they may not do it more frequently, yet at least three times in the year should the laity communicate, unless one happen to be hindered by any more serious offenses, — to wit, at Easter, and Pentecost, and the Lord's Nativity.
If one has not completed thirty years of age, he should in no way be ordained as presbyter, even although he may be extremely worthy; for even the Lord Himself was baptized only when He was thirty years of age, and at that period He began to teach. It is not right, therefore, that one who is to be ordained should be consecrated until he has reached this legitimate age.
The Decrees of the Same, from the Codex of Decrees in Sixteen Books, from the Fifth Book, and the Seventh and Ninth Chapters
We decree that on each Lord's day the oblation of the altar should be made by men and women in bread and wine, in order that by means of these sacrifices they may be released from the burden of their sins.
Source. Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0835.htm>.
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