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The fifth to the eighth Canons.
in the abrogation of which all, in the apostolic age, were agreed. This ancient observance of the Jewish church, towards the close of the third century, when bishops arrogated to themselves increased authority, prevailed so much that fruits were not only offered by the faithful, but were distributed by the bishops to all others who were needy. Of this Origen is a most substantial witness; from whose testimony it is abundantly evident, that the custom of offering first fruits was already in his time exceedingly common.1
The fifth canon, a most dangerous rock to the Roman church, exhibits the regulation that no bishop, presbyter, or deacon, put away his wife under pretext of religion; and the seventh inculcates that no one of the clergy undertake secular cares.2 Each of these canons is so consentaneous with the apostolic age, that nothing hinders our supposing it to be sanctioned by apostolic men. The subject of the sixth canon sufficiently explains why, in the Western church where celibacy was held in great honor, our canons, of which those just now quoted are unfavorable to celibacy, were received so tardily.
Then in the eighth canon it is forbidden that any bishop, or pres byter, or deacon, celebrate the sacred day of the Passover [Easter] before the vernal equinox, with the Jews, under penalty of being deposed. But it will not appear wonderful to any one, that I most confidently adjudge this canon to the end of the sec if I present briefly the reasons of this judgment. What! Is any canon sanctioned, unless there be some cause requiring its promulgation? No, most certainly. Now let us inspect the canon. From what cause was it possible to decree that the Passover be not kept before the vernal equinox, with the Jews? Doubtless from the cause that, at the time of passing the decree, there had arisen many and vehement contentions respecting the day on which the Passover was to be celebrated. The canon, therefore, fits precisely the end of the second century,
Origen contra Celsum, Lib. VIII. p. 400, ed. Cantabrig. Koos pèv daiμονάδας ἀνατίθεται βούλεται· ἡμεῖς δὲ τῷ εἰπόντι, βλαστησάτω ἡ γὴ βοτάνην χόρε · ὁ δὲ τὰς ἀπαρχὰς ἀποδίδωμην, τούτω καὶ τὰς εὐχὰς ἀναπέμπομεν, ἔχοντες ἀρχιερέα μέγαν, διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανοὺς, Ἰησοῦν, τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ.
* Can. V1. Ἐπίσκοπος ἢ πρεσβύτερος ἢ διάκονος τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γυναῖκα μὴ ἐκβαλλέγω προφάσει εὐλαβείας· ἐὰν δὲ ἐκβάλῃ ἀφοριζέσθω· ἐπιμένων δὲ, καθαιρείσθω. Can. VII. Ἐπίσκοπος ἢ πρεσβύτερος ἢ διάκονος κοσμικὰς φροντίδας μὴ ἀναλαμβανέσθω· εἰ δὲ μὴ, καθαιρείσθω.
* Can. V111. Εἴ τις ἐπίσκοπος ἢ πρεσβύτερος ἢ διάκονος τὴν ἁγίαν τοῦ πάσχα ἡμέραν πρὸ τῆς ἑαρινῆς ἰσημερίας μετὰ Ἰουδαίων ἐπιτελέσει, καθαιρείσθω.
when this question was most vehemently agitated between Victor, bishop of Rome, and Polycrates, bishop of Smyrna.
The next two canons, (IX. and X,) treat concerning the holy communion to be received by all the faithful, both clergy and laity, whenever they enter the church. It is with good reason that Beveridge refutes the opinion of Daillé, who, because adherents of the Roman church leave the place of worship without partaking of the host, and thus she does not observe those canons, confidently infers that she did not acknowledge their apostolic origin. But what to us is the Roman church? It belongs to herself to see why she follows another fashion. Her usage and custom can bring nothing against the antiquity of our canons. So far are these canons from being at variance with the observances of the second century, that they fit them exactly. Let us consult the Fathers of that century. Justin Martyr at once presents himself, and can vouch for the correctness of our statement. In his Apology, when he describes the eucharist to Antoninus Pius, he says expressly of the Christians that they all assembled on Sunday, and listened to the reading of the sacred Scriptures and to an address from the bishop. Then all arose together to pray; and, when prayers were ended, there was an offering of bread and wine. The bishop gave thanks. The people responded, Amen. Distribution was made, and each partook. It is obvi ous, therefore, that in this century the eucharist was celebrated by all Christians, as often as they came together. It is not, then, alien from the observances of the second century, if our canons threaten excommunication to clerical and lay persons who do not partake of the communion, when an offering is made.
1 Can. IX. Εἴ τις ἐπίσκοπος ἢ πρεσβύτερος ἢ διάκονος ἢ ἐκ τοῦ καταλόγου τοῦ ἱερατικοῦ προσφορᾶς γενομένης μὴ μεταλάβοι, τὴν αἰτίαν εἰπάτω· καὶ ἐὰν εὔλογος ᾖ, συγγνώμης τυγχανέτω· εἰ δὲ μὴ λέγῃ, ἀφοριζέσθω, ὡς αἴτιος βλάβης γενόμενος τῷ λαῷ καὶ ὑπόνοιαν ἐμποιήσας κατὰ τοῦ προσενέγκαντος. Can. Χ. Πάντας τοὺς εἰσιόντας πιστοὺς καὶ τῶν γραφῶν ἀκούοντας, μὴ παραμένοντας δὲ τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ ἁγίᾳ μεταλήψει, ὡς ἀταξίαν ἐμποιοῦντας τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, ἀφορίζεσθαι χρή.
* [Apol. I. c. 67. Καὶ τῇ τοῦ ἡλίου λεγομένῃ ἡμέρᾳ πάντων κατὰ πόλεις ἢ ἀγροὺς μενόντων ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ συνέλευσις γίνεται, καὶ τὰ ἀποπνημονεύματα τῶν ἀποστόλων, ἢ τὰ συγγράμματα τῶν προφητῶν ἀναγινώσκεται μέχρις ἐγχωρεῖ. Εἶτα παυσαμένου τοῦ ἀναγινώσκοντος, ὁ προεστὼς διὰ λόγου τὴν νουθεσίαν καὶ πρόκλησιν τῆς τῶν καλῶν τούτων μιμήσεως ποιεῖται. Έπειτα ἀνιστάμεθα κοινῇ πάντες, καὶ εὐχὰς πέμπομεν· καὶ, ὡς προέφημεν, παυσαμένων ἡμῶν τῆς εὐχῆς, ἄρτος προσφέρεται καὶ δινος καὶ ὕδωρ; καὶ ὁ προεστὼς εὐχὰς ὁμοίως καὶ εὐχαρισ τίας, ὅση δύναμις αὐτῷ, ἀναπέμπει, καὶ ὁ λαὸς ἀπευφημεῖ λέγων τὸ ἀμήν· καὶ ἡ διάδοσις καὶ ἡ μετάληψις ἀπὸ τῶν εὐχαρίστη θέντων ἑκάστῳ γίνεται.]
The eleventh to the twenty-fourth Canons.
In the next two canons, (XI. and XII,) there is nothing to prevent their being adjudged to the apostolic age. That they who are guilty of a want of rectitude or of truth, be kept from the communion, agrees most fully with the first times of the Christian church.
To the thirteenth canon another time must be assigned. Here commendatory letters are mentioned. The ecclesiastical custom of giving such letters to those who were sent from another vicinity, arose in the third century, when, in the time of persecutions, the several churches were obliged to use the utmost caution, lest they should receive a secret Heathen or heretic; [or rather, the custom which very naturally began in the time of the apostles, then became specially important.]
Concerning canons XIV. and XV. we have already treated, and shown that regard was had to these canons in subsequent times. It remains that we here remark, in passing, that canons XIV, XV. and XVI, contain nothing which departs from the apostolic age; and therefore, although perhaps they were framed at a later time, we cannot deny that they may have belonged to the apostolic period, if we judge merely from the subjects of which they treat. But surely the author would not contend that, in the time of the apostles, such absolute control over Presbyters was given to a bishop, as is assumed in canon XV.; nor that the inferior orders swelling 'the catalogue of clerical persons,' had already been introduced.]
Let us now proceed to the following canons, namely, XVII, XVIII, XIX. and XX, concerning which the same judgment is to be pronounced. Nothing can be found in them that does not accord with the primitive church. [But here we would make the same remark which we made on the preceding paragraph. Besides, the misinterpretation of 1 Tim. 3: 2, (a consequence and a cause of much error,) the mention of 'the sacerdotal catalogue,' and perhaps some other things in these canons, seem to betray an ascetic, hierarchical and Judaizing spirit and tendency.]
The four canons which follow, (XXI, XXII, XXIII. and XXIV,) decree that he who has mutilated himself, never be made a clergyman; and that if a clergyman has mutilated himself, he be deposed; but if a layman, that he be separated from communion three years. Daillé has, I think, correctly remarked that canons have not been established and promulgated in the church before some fact gave occasion for their being introduced. But if we examine the history of the primitive church whether there
may be any example which might have given occasion for these canons, we do not search long in vain. From the preceding part of our discussion it followed, that our canons were at least more ancient than the Nicene council. Epiphanius, that most grave reprover of heretics, describes at large the heresy of the Valesians, who mutilated themselves. (Haeres. Vales, 58. Eisì dè πάντες ἀπόκοποι.) But let us recollect that bloody act which, as all know, the most celebrated teacher of the early church performed upon himself; Origen I mean, who, borne away by insane and perverse juvenile ardor, perpetrated against himself such a crime. It is in the highest degree probable that these canons were not in existence when this deed was performed by Origen; and it is not improbable that the deed of Origen occasioned the establishing of these canons, so that it was forbidden, under penalty of being deposed or separated, that any similar act be done under the semblance of piety.
Although we assign also to this time canons XXV. and XXVI, as being consonant with apostolic doctrine, yet we do not assign to it canon XXVII, because there is in it a mention of the minor orders; about which circumstance we have already spoken.
Nor can we in any manner accede to the opinion of Daillé, who, with arguments that are not valid, impugns the antiquity even of canon XXVIIL This canon commands that a bishop, presbyter, or deacon striking believers who sin, or unbelievers who do an injury, be deposed. I do not see how any one can deny that in 1 Tim. 3: 2, and in Tit. 1: 7, the foundation is contained on which this canon rests. That apostolic men, therefore, could have sanctioned this canon, will be manifest to all who consider the matter without partiality.
Let us now proceed to discuss the question concerning the canons from XXX. to XXXIV.; all which I think to have been framed in the middle of the third century. Let us more accurately inspect their contents. Do they not place the image of the third century before our eyes? Now there was provision to be made by a canon lest any one obtain the office of a bishop by means of the secular powers. How abhorrent this is from the apostolic age we need not say. But afterwards, in the third century, audacious men, to the detriment of the church, obtained the episcopate in an unworthy manner. Other canons very much favor the dignity of that office. In these precepts we see the beAnd any one most easily understands
ginnings of the hierarchy.
I Can XXXI. Εἴ τις ἐπίσκοπος κοσμικοῖς ἄρχουσι χρησάμενος δι' αὐτῶν ἐγ
Canons which have reference to Bishops.
that several of these canons were written to exalt the dignity of the Bishop, and increase his power.
In canons XXXIX, XL. and XLI, there are similar efforts to commend the episcopal honor and dignity. In canon XXXIX, it is authoritatively declared that the bishop shall have care of the ecclesiastical revenues, and administer them as in the presence of God, (καὶ διοικείτω αὐτὰ ὡς θεοῦ ἐφορῶντος.) Nay, canon XL directs that presbyters and deacons perform nothing without the bishop. These are the beginnings and foundations from which the hierarchy was elevated to its highest eminence. In view of these facts, who does not acknowledge that these canons were not only well known and spread abroad in the third century, but also that there were in them the germs of regulations, which the Papal church in later times has used as the basis of her system? Moreover, they decide another thing pertaining to ecclesiastical discipline, concerning which, in the third century, there had arisen great discord; namely, concerning the revenues which were to be paid to the bishops. Although the priests often imposed on the laymen a greater tribute than was proper, yet they often endea vored in vain to collect it. Our forty-first canon deduced from the religion of the Jews the layman's duty of paying to the priest; since they who wait at the altar (Deut. 18), are also maintained by the altar. And this also accords with the habits of the third century; when it was believed that the Christian church is to be formed and regulated after the model of the Jewish church, and the priesthood of the Christians, after the model of the Levitical priesthood.
Concerning the antiquity of canon XXXV, in which the authority of Metropolitan bishops is established, we find a contest still undecided. Daillé vehemently assails the canon, and denies its antiquity. But although in the true and undoubted monuments of the apostles we readily concede to Daillé that there appears no vestige of the Metropolitans, yet we must oppose him in respect to this canon. Great force and great influence, in our opinion, ought to be attributed to the fact that the Nicene council κρατῆς ἐκκλησίας γένηται, καθαιρείσθω καὶ ἀφοριζέσθω, καὶ οἱ κοινωνοῦντες αὐτῷ παντες. Can. ΧΧΧΙΧ. Πάντων τῶν ἐκκλησιαστικῶν πραγμάτων ὁ ἐπίσκοπος ἐχέτω τὴν φροντίδα, καὶ διοικείτω αὐτὰ, ὡς θεοῦ ἐφορῶντος. . . . Can. XL. οἱ πρεσβύτεροι καὶ διάκονοι ἄνευ γνώμης τοῦ ἐπισκόπου μηδὲν ἐπιτελείτωσαν. . . Can. XLI. Προστάσσομεν τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἐξουσίαν ἔχειν τῶν τῆς ἐκκλησίας πραγμάτων . . . ὥστε κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ ἐξουσίαν πάντα διοικεῖσθαι. . .
1... Ὁ γὰρ νόμος τοῦ θεοῦ διετάξατο, τοὺς τῷ θυσιαστηρίῳ ὑπηρετοῦντας ἐκ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου τρέφεσθαι.