Ante-nicene fathers



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On the Ordination of Presbyters and Deacons.

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 ye 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.”17 Given on the 7th November, in the consulship of the most illustrious Saturninus and Gallicanus,18

Notes by the American Editor.

1. The translator’s reference to Canon 73 is a mistake, and quite misleading. See vol. vii. Canon 74, p. 504.

2. It is worth while to recall who and what Zephyrinus was. See vol. v. p. 156, Elucidation V.; also same volume of this series, p. 157, Elucidation VI. This unhappy prelate was a heretic; and his decrees and opinions are worthless, as Hippolytus shows. Hence this letter, even were it genuine, would be of no value whatever. Consult also vol. v. p. 156, in Elucidation IV.; also same volume, Elucidation III.

3. On p. 610, Ep. 2, sec. 1, observe the reference to the “statutes of Emperors,” where the wily forger forgot himself, as if the Caesars of this date had legislated for the Christian Church. On the spirit of the ancient Canons, refuting all these Decretals, compare the Canons of Nicaea, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 15; of Constantinople, 2 and 3; of Ephesus, 8; and of Chalcedon, 9 and 28. To these Canons, against the claims of the Paparchy, the Church of England appealed at her Restoration.

The Epistles of Pope Callistus1

The First Epistle1

to Bishop Benedictus

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On the Fasts of the Four Seasons, and that no one should take up an accusation against a doctor (teacher).

Callistus, archbishop of the Church Catholic in the city of Rome, to Benedictus, our brother and bishop, greeting in the Lord.

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.

I.

(Of the seasons for fasting.)

Fasting, which ye 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 corn, 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 saith 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 ye 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, saith the Lord of hosts. And the word of the Lord of hosts came unto me, saying, Thus saith 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, saith the Lord of hosts.”2 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;3 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,4 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 ye 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.



II.



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