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Theodoret: A bishop must not gratify his brother, or his son, or any other kinsman with the episcopal dignity, or ordain whom he pleases . . . But if any one shall do so, let the ordination be invalid. Most clearly, if we do not greatly err, Theodoret had this canon also in his mind.
If now we go back to the earlier time of the Christian church, we find such vestiges of the canons that it will appear that they were even then known. Nor will any one deny that most probably the Nicene council not only had regard to these canons, but also confirmed and more amply described them. We shall not deny that the canons were in use before this council.
Thus Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, when, in an epistle to Alexander, bishop of Constantinople, he mentions it as scandalous in many bishops that they received into the communion of the church several persons excommunicated by himself, sustains his opinion by these words, τω μήτε αποστολικόν κανόνα τούτο συγχωρείν.2 Who, indeed, is there whom it can escape, that canons XII. and XIII. are opposed to this abuse ?3 And by this epistle, as it was written before the Nicene council, it is necessarily shown even that the whole council were acquainted with these canons.
The Nicene Fathers, when they had in mind to propose and sanction certain canons concerning eunuchs, referred to earlier canons, in which, they said, the same precepts were contained. Now our canons exhibit to us certain precepts concerning ett. nuchs ;4 so that it can be affirmed, without any doubtfulness, that the Nicene Fathers had regard to these. For if this be not ad. mitted, where can be found any other canons which establish the same rules concerning eunuchs ? Wherever we may search, we find nowhere anything similar, except in our canons.
But there is another argument which confirms our conjecture.
"Ότι ου χρή επίσκοπον τώ αδελφό ή υιώ ή ετέρω συγγενεί χαριζόμενον το αξίωμα της επισκοπής, χειροτονείν ούς αυτος βούλεται: ει δέ τις τούτο ποιήσει, άκυρος μενέτω ή χειρτονία ..
2 Theodoret, Hist. Eccles. Lib. I. c. 3.
3 Can. XII. Εί τις κληρικός ή λαϊκός άφωρισμένος ήτοι άδεκτος, απελθών εν ετέρα πόλει δεχθή άνευ γραμμάτων συστατικών, αφοριζέσθω και ο δεξάμενος και ο δεχθείς.
• Can. ΧΧΙ. Ευνούχος ει μεν εξ επηρείας ανθρώπων έγενετό τις, ή εν διογμα αφηρεθη τα ανδρών, ή ούτως έφυ, και έστιν άξιος, επίσκοπος γινέσθω·-Can. ΧΧΙΙ. “Ο ακρωτηριάσας εαυτόν, μη γινέσθω κληρικός· αυτοφονευτής γάρ έστιν εαυτού και της του θεού δημιουργίας εχθρός. Can. XXIII. Εί τις κληρικός ών εαυτόν ακροτηριάσει, καθαιρείσθω, φονευτής γάρ έστιν εαυτού.
1847.] Traces of the Canons in early Ages.
11 The sixty-second apostolical canon expressly commands that a clerical person be deposed, if he deny his clerical character through fear of a Jew, or of a gentile, or of a heretic; but it gives no direction what shall be done to him who, before being ordained, may have denied Christ. Now the Nicene Fathers assign to such a man the same punishment that is assigned in our apostolical canon.
And it is evident that our canons, under various names indeed, were known also to other councils. Thus I would not deny that the council at Antioch, (A. D. 341,) allude to our canons when they mention θεσμούς εκκλησιαστικούς και αρχαιότερον κρατήσαντα α πατέρων ημών κανόνα. Νor may we at all conjecture that the author of our canons reduced his canons, as being spurious and fictitions, into harmony with the canons of the council at Antioch, when the Fathers of the council affirm them to be sarà ròv doaior xeróra.
But let us produce another testimony, which is extant, concerning the canons. For I hold it to be certain that our canons were known to Athanasius. He refers to them for the purpose
proving that his being deposed, which the Arians had effected, was unlawful. He informs us that he was removed from his ecclesiastical office, without being summoned to trial before a council of bishops, and without being convicted by his opponents, but being accused by Arians, his enemies, unworthy of confidence. All which, he contends, was done contrary to a constant and abiding canon of the church. This compels us to think that Athanasius had in view our canon LXXIV,2 which directs that a bishop be summoned to trial by bishops, and if he meet them, and be convicted, that he be punished by the council.
This opinion is confirmed by the fact that Athanasius has often quoted ecclesiastical canons in such a manner that it is obvious they accord with those of which we are treating.
But let us call into discussion those passages which are extant in Eusebius concerning our canons. Eusebius, called by the suffrages of the clergy and of the people to the office of bishop at Antioch, declined this dignity, because he thought that his ac
' Εί τις κληρικός διά φόβον ανθρώπινον Ιουδαίου ή "Έλληνος ή αιρετικού αρνήσηται, ει μεν όνομα Χριστού, αποβαλλέσθω, ει δε και το όνομα του κληρικού, καθαιρείσθω μετανοήσας δε, ώς λαϊκός δεχθήτω.
3 Επίσκοπον κατηγορηθέντα επί τινι παρά αξιοπιστων ανθρώπων, καλείσθαι αυτόν αναγκαίον υπό των επισκόπων καν μεν απαντήση και ομολογήση ή έλεγχθείη, ορίζεσθαι το επιτίμιον ...
ceptance of it would be contrary to an apostolical canon, (ánosTodıxov xavóra.) In liis life of Constantine, B. III. c. 61, he presenis is an epistle of the emperor, in which he very much commends Eusebius for this; and affirms to him that he now understands that Eusebius had rightly observed the ecclesiastical canon, and had acted in accordance with apostolic tradition. It will now appear to be placed beyond a doubt that both Eusebilis and Constantine referred to our canon XIV.2
It remains that we inspect and weigh the testimonies of the Latin church. We have already mentioned that at first the Latin church knew nothing at all of the canons; but that afterwards she attributed great power and authority to a part of them. The first who in the Roman church has made mention of them is Julius, bishop of Rome, who referred to these canons, when, in an epistle to the Oriental bishops, he reproached them with certain things connected with the deposing of Athanasius. From this, however, we cannot conclude that the canons were then of force in the Western church. For, probably, Athanasius had informed Julius concerning this canon; and urged upon him that, relying on this canon, which the Oriental church had acknowledged, he might demonstrate to the Greek bishops that their proceeding had been uplawful.
Al length, the decree of Gelasius ascribed our canons to the class of apocryphal books. Concerning this decree there have been the most diverse opinions. Indeed, some have gone so far as to contend that no council was ever held at Rome, A. D. 494, by the bishop Gelasius.3 Others think it altogether uncertain whether this decree was ever put forth by Gelasius, since no one mentions il till three hundred years afterwards. But others (we need mention only Beveridge)4 are of the opinion that, even if Gelasius issued a decree concerning books to be received and to be rejected, it is, nevertheless, uncertain whether those words, the apocryphal book of the canons of the apostles, (liber canonum
| Euseb. Vita Constant. Lib. 111. c. 61. . . Tòv kavova this érkamolaotians επιστημης εις ακρίβειαν φυλαχθέντα . εμμενείν γούν τούτοις άπερ άρεστα τε τω θεώ και την αποστολική παραδόσει σύμφωνα φαίνεται, ευαγές.
'Επίσκοπον μη εξειναι καταλείψαντα την εαυτού παροικίαν, έτέρα έπιπηδάν, καν υπό πλειόνων αναγκάζεται, ει μή τις ευλογος αιτία ή τουτο βιαζοκένη αυτόν ποιείν. .
3 Jo, Pearson, in his Vindiciae Epistolorum Ignatii, P. I. c. 4.
4 Beveridge, Codex Canonum Ecclesiae Primitivae Vindicatus, Lib. I. c. IX. 93.
1847.] The Origin of the Apostolic Canons.
13 Apostolorum apocryphus) proceeded from Gelasius himself. This opinion becomes probable, when we consider that, in the manuscript of Justell and in other manuscripts, these words are manifestly wanting. Besides, Hincmar, bishop of Rheims, contends that the canons of the apostles are not recounted by Gelasius in this decree. However this may be, we understand sufficiently from Isidore of Sevillel that the Latin church rejected them entirely, and ascribed to them not even the least authority. This being made clear, we easily see why these canons have been excluded from later collections of canons; as has been done by Martin of Braga,2 by Ferrand, deacon of Carthage, and by others. At least, by the Pseudo-Isidore, they were given out to be truly apostolical canons; and, therefore, they were received into the canonical Law. But although in the seventh century, and in later centuries also, they were called in question, yet at length they claimed for themselves ecclesiastical authority and power.
But it is now sufficiently evident, that the canons of the apostles did not derive their origin from the apostles themselves, and that, not from this but from some other cause, they were honored with the name of the apostles. In this our age men have indulged their ingenuity and their imagination; and the more novel their conjectures, the more gratifying they have been to many. in proposing and amplifying my conjecture, I refer to Spittler, who, if there is need, can give it support.4
From our survey of the testimonies of the ancients, it seems evident that, in the early church, single canons were circulated under the name of ancient canons, apostolical canons, ecclesiastical regulations, and ancient law, (πάλαι κανόνες αποστολικοί κανότες, εκκλησιαστικοί θεσμοί, παλαιός νόμος.) Each of these canons, although made and sanctioned by later persons, has been ascribed to the apostles, if it has seemed to accord with their doctrine. These canons, therefore, were called apostolical, not (at first] from any supposed apostolical authorship, but from the nature of the doctrine inculcated in them. There were in the early ages
1 Isidor. Hisp. ap. Anton. Augustin. Lib. I. de emendat. Gratiani Dial. VI. Gratiani Digest XVI. c. 1. Canones qui dicuntur Apostolorum, sed quia nec sedes apostolica eos recepit, nec S. S. Patres illis assensum praebuerunt, pro eo, quod ab haereticis sub nomine apostolorum compositi dignoscantur, quamvis in iis otilia inveniantur. : Compare Du Pin, Nov. Bibl. Auct. Eccles. Tom. I. p. 23. • Breviatio Canonum. Comp. Justelli Bibl. Juris Can. Vet. Tom. I. p. 419. • See Spittler's Geschichte des Kanonischen Rechts, p. 12. VOL. IV. No. 13.
many churches or parishes to which there were ascribed, as it were, a preëminence and a superior authority, because they derived their origin from apostles; whence there was given to them the name of apostolical churches.
After having diligently examined all the testimonies, I would now, without any hesitancy, contend that all the canons arose, one after another, in single churches of the first centuries, until, instead of being dispersed here and there, they were brought into one collection,
IV. Let us now see at what time the single canons first appear, ed. To guard against transgressing the proposed limits of this dissertation, it will doubtless be best to place together several canons and exhibit our judgment concerniug them.
As to the first two canons, they order expressly that a bishop be ordained by two or three bishops; but a preshyter, a deacon and any other clerical person, hy one bishop.' But how alien this rule is from the apostolic times! This we sufficiently perceive from the terms employed. For who does not know that, in the apostolic age, there was no distinction between presbyter and bishop? And since in our canons a bishop and a presbyter are distinguished in authority, in office and even in rank, it is evident that this distinction is most unsuitable to the apostolic age, in which these names were used promiscuously. To what age do we assign these canons ? Certainly to one in which there was a distinction between the words bishop and presbyter, and a new signification had come into use. Besides, we find an indication of the time of their origin in the mention of the other clerical persons, (oi 201zoi xanpixoi.) So far as I can judge, it is right to conclude that
κληρικοί.) these canons were framed at that time when the inferior clerical orders in the church were constituted. Now since Tertullian, in his work De Praescriptione Haereticorum, c. 41. mentions the inferior orders, and is the first ecclesiastical writer that has mentioned them, it follows that these canons are to be adjudged to the concluding part of the second century.
In canons III, IV. and V, certain regulations are presented in respect to the first fruits which were to be offered. As it is selfevident that the origin of these was not apostolical, I forbear to enlarge on the subject. But no one who has carefully considered the matter, will deny that these canons pertain to the Mosaic law,
1 Can. Ι. 'Επίσκοπος χειροτονείσθω υπό επισκόπων δύο ή τριών, and Can. 1. Πρεσβύτερος υφ' ενός επισκόπου χειροτονείσθω, και διάκονος και οι λοιποί κλερικοί.