Sec. III. – How the Bishop Is to Treat the Innocent, the Guilty, and the Penitent.
XXII. That David, the Ninevites, Hezekiah, and His Son Manasseh, Are Eminent Examples of Repentance. The Prayer of Manasseh King of Judah.
It is also thy duty, O bishop, to have before thine eyes the examples of those that have gone before, and to apply them skilfully to the cases of those who want words of severity or of consolation. Besides, it is reasonable that in thy administration of justice thou shouldest follow the will of God; and as God deals with sinners, and with those who return, that thou shouldest act accordingly in thy judging. Now, did not God by Nathan reproach David for his offence? And yet as soon as he said he repented, He delivered him from death, saying, “Be of good cheer; thou shalt not die.” (2Sa_12:13) So also, when God had caused Jonah (Jon_1:17 and Jon_2:1-10) to be swallowed up by the sea and the whale, upon his refusal to preach to the Ninevites, when yet he prayed to Him out of the belly of the whale, He retrieved his life from corruption. And when Hezekiah had been puffed up for a while, yet, as soon as he prayed with lamentation, He remitted his offence. But, O ye bishops, hearken to an instance useful upon this occasion. For it is written thus in the fourth book of Kings and the second book of Chronicles: “And Hezekiah died; and Manasseh his son reigned. He was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Hephzibah. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord: he did not abstain from the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord destroyed from the face of the children of Israel. And Manasseh returned and built the high places which Hezekiah his father had overthrown; and he reared pillars for Baal, and set up an altar for Baal, and made groves, as did Ahab king of Israel. And he made altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord spake to David and to Solomon his son, saying, Therein will I put my name. And Manasseh set up altars, and by them served Baal, and said, My name shall continue for ever.11 And he built altars to the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord; and he made his children pass through the fire in a place named Ge Benennom;12 and he consulted enchanters, and dealt with wizards and familiar spirits, and with conjurers and observers of times, and with teraphim. And he sinned exceedingly in the eyes of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. And he set a molten and a graven image, the image of his grove, which he made in the house of the Lord, wherein the Lord had chosen to put His name in Jerusalem, the holy city, for ever, and had said, I will no more remove my foot from the land of Israel, which I gave to their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the precepts that my servant Moses commanded them. And they hearkened not. And Manasseh seduced them to do more evil before the Lord than did the nations whom the Lord cast out from the face of the children of Israel. And the Lord spake concerning Manasseh and concerning His people by the hand of His servants the prophets, saying, Because Manasseh king of Judah has done all these wicked abominations in a higher degree than the Amorite did which was before him, and hath made Judah to sin with his idols, thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Behold, I bring evils upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of them, both his ears shall tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab; and I will blot out Jerusalem as a table-book is blotted out by wiping it. And I will turn it upside down; and I will give up the remnant of my inheritance, and will deliver them into the hands of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, because of all the evils which they have done in mine eyes, and have provoked me to anger from the day that I brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt even until this day. Moreover, Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, beside his sins wherewith he made Judah to sin in doing evil in the sight of the Lord. And the Lord brought upon him the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, and they caught Manasseh in bonds, and they bound him in fetters of brass, and brought him to Babylon; and he was bound and shackled with iron all over in the house of the prison. And bread made of bran was given unto him scantily, and by weight, and water mixed with vinegar but a little and by measure, so much as would keep him alive; and he was in straits and sore affliction. And when he was violently afflicted, he besought the face of the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the face of the Lord God of his fathers. And he prayed unto the Lord, saying, O Lord, almighty God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of their righteous seed, who hast made heaven and earth, with all the ornament thereof, who hast bound the sea by the word of Thy commandment, who hast shut up the deep, and sealed it by Thy terrible and glorious name, whom all men fear and tremble before Thy power; for the majesty of Thy glory cannot be borne, and Thine angry threatening towards sinners is insupportable. But Thy merciful promise is unmeasurable and unsearchable; for Thou art the most high Lord,13 of great compassion, long-suffering, very merciful, and repentest of the evils of men. Thou, O Lord, according to Thy great goodness, hast promised repentance and forgiveness to them that have sinned against Thee, and of Thine infinite mercy hast appointed repentance unto sinners, that they may be saved. Thou therefore, O Lord, that art the God of the just, has not appointed repentance to the just as to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, which have not sinned against Thee; but Thou hast appointed repentance unto me that am a sinner: for I have sinned above the number of the sands of the sea. My transgressions, O Lord, are multiplied; my transgressions are multiplied, and I am not worthy to behold and see the height of heaven for the multitude of mine iniquity. I am bowed down with many iron bands; for I have provoked Thy wrath, and done evil before Thee, setting up abominations, and multiplying offences. Now, therefore, I bow the knee of mine heart, beseeching Thee of grace. I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, and I acknowledge mine iniquities; wherefore I humbly beseech Thee, forgive me, O Lord, forgive me, and destroy me not with mine iniquities. Be not angry with me for ever, by reserving evil for me; neither condemn me into the lower part of the earth. For Thou art the God, even the God of them that repent, and in me Thou wilt show Thy goodness; for Thou wilt save me that am unworthy, according to Thy great mercy. Therefore I will praise Thee for ever all the days of my life; for all the powers of the heavens do praise Thee, and Thine is the glory for ever and ever. Amen. And the Lord heard his voice, and had compassion upon him. And there appeared a flame of fire about him, and all the iron shackles and chains which were about him fell off; and the Lord healed Manasseh from his affliction, and brought him back to Jerusalem unto his kingdom: and Manasseh knew that the Lord He is God alone. And he worshipped the Lord God alone with all his heart, and with all his soul, all the days of his life; and he was esteemed righteous. And he took away the strange gods and the graven image out of the house of the Lord, and all the altars which he had built in the house of the Lord, and all the altars in Jerusalem, and he cast them out of the city. And he repaired the altar of the Lord, and sacrificed thereon peace-offerings and thank-offerings. And Manasseh spake to Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel. And he slept in peace with his fathers; and Amon his son reigned in his stead. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord according to all things that Manasseh his father had done in the former part of his reign. And he provoked the Lord his God to anger.” (2Ki_20:1-21, 2Ki_21:1-26; 2Ch_32:1-33, 2Ch_33:1-25)
Ye have heard, our beloved children, how the Lord God for a while punished him that was addicted to idols, and had slain many innocent persons; and yet that He received him when he repented, and forgave him his offences, and restored him to his kingdom. For He not only forgives the penitent, but reinstates them in their former dignity.
XXIII. Amon Maybe an Example to Such as Sin with an High Hand.
There is no sin more grievous than idolatry, for it is an impiety against God: and yet even this sin has been forgiven, upon sincere repentance. But if any one sin in direct opposition, and on purpose to try whether God will punish the wicked or not, such a one shall have no remission, although he say with himself, “All is well, and I will walk according to the conversation of my evil heart.” Such a one was Amon the son of Manasseh. For the Scripture says: “And Amon reasoned an evil reasoning of transgression, and said, My father from his childhood was a great transgressor, and repented in his old age; and now I will walk as my soul lusteth, and afterwards I will return unto the Lord. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. And the Lord God soon destroyed him utterly from His good land. And his servants conspired against him, and slew him in his own house, and he reigned two years only.”
XXIV. That Christ Jesus Our Lord Came to Save Sinners by Repentance.
Take heed, therefore, ye of the laity, lest any one of you fix the reasoning of Amon in his heart, and be suddenly cut off, and perish. In the same manner, let the bishop take all the care he can that those which are yet innocent may not fall into sin; and let him heal and receive those which turn from their sins. But if he is pitiless, and will not receive the repenting sinner, he will sin against the Lord his God, pretending to be more just than God’s justice, and not receiving him whom He has received, through Christ; for whose sake He sent His Son upon earth to men, as a man; for whose sake God was pleased that He, who was the Maker of man and woman, should be born of a woman; for whose sake He did not spare Him from the cross, from death, and burial, but permitted Him to die, who by nature could not suffer, His beloved Son, God the Word, the Angel of His great council, that he might deliver those from death who were obnoxious to death. Him do those provoke to anger who do not receive the penitent. For He was not ashamed of me, Matthew, who had been formerly a publican; and admitted of Peter, when he had through fear denied Him three times, but had appeased Him by repentance, and had wept bitterly; nay, He made him a shepherd to His own lambs. Moreover, He ordained Paul, our fellow-apostle, to be of a persecutor an apostle, and declared him a chosen vessel, even when he had heaped many mischiefs upon us before, and had blasphemed His sacred name. He says also to another, a woman that was a sinner: “Thy sins, which are many, are forgiven, for thou lovest much.” (Luk_7:47) And when the elders had set another woman which had sinned before Him, and had left the sentence to Him, and were gone out, our Lord, the Searcher of the hearts, inquiring of her whether the elders had condemned her, and being answered No, He said unto her: “Go thy way therefore, for neither do I condemn thee.” (Joh_8:11) This Jesus, O ye bishops, our Saviour, our King, and our God, ought to be set before you as your pattern; and Him you ought to imitate, in being meek, quiet, compassionate, merciful, peaceable, without passion, apt to teach, and diligent to convert, willing to receive and to comfort; no strikers, not soon angry, not injurious, not arrogant, not supercilious, not wine-bibbers, not drunkards, not vainly expensive, not lovers of delicacies, not extravagant, using the gifts of God not as another’s, but as their own, as good stewards appointed over them, as those who will be required by God to give an account of the same.
Sec. IV. – On the Management of the Resources Collected for the Support of the Clergy, and the Relief of the Poor.
Let the bishop esteem such food and raiment sufficient as suits necessity and decency. Let him not make use of the Lord’s goods as another’s, but moderately; “for the labourer is worthy of his reward.” (Luk_10:7) Let him not be luxurious in diet, or fond of idle furniture, but contented with so much alone as is necessary for his sustenance.
XXV. Of First-Fruits and Tithes, and After What Manner the Bishop Is Himself to Partake of Them, or to Distribute Them to Others.
Let him use those tenths and first-fruits, which are given according to the command of God, as a man of God; as also let him dispense in a right manner the free-will offerings which are brought in on account of the poor, to the orphans, the widows, the afflicted, and strangers in distress, as having that God for the examiner of his accounts who has committed the disposition to him. Distribute to all those in want with righteousness, and yourselves use the things which belong to the Lord, but do not abuse them; eating of them, but not eating them all up by yourselves: communicate with those that are in want, and thereby show yourselves unblameable before God. For if you shall consume them by yourselves, you will be reproached by God, who says to such unsatiable people, who alone devour all, “Ye eat up the milk, and clothe yourselves with the wool;” (Eze_34:3) and in another passage, “Must you alone live upon the earth?” (Isa_5:8) Upon which account you are commanded in the law, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Lev_19:18) Now we say these things, not as if you might not partake of the fruits of your labours; for it is written, “Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox which treadeth out the corn;” (Deu_25:4; 1Co_9:9) but that you should do it with moderation and righteousness. As, therefore, the ox that labours in the threshing-floor without a muzzle eats indeed, but does not eat all up; so do you who labour in the threshing-floor, that is, in the Church of God, eat of the Church: which was also the case of the Levites, who served in the tabernacle of the testimony, which was in all things a type of the Church. Nay, further, its very name implied that that tabernacle was fore-appointed for a testimony of the Church. Here, therefore, the Levites also, who attended upon the tabernacle, partook of those things that were offered to God by all the people, – namely, gifts, offerings, and first-fruits, and tithes, and sacrifices, and oblations, without disturbance, they and their wives, and their sons and their daughters. Since their employment was the ministration to the tabernacle, therefore they had not any lot or inheritance in the land among the children of Israel, because the oblations of the people were the lot of Levi, and the inheritance of their tribe. You, therefore, O bishops, are to your people priests and Levites, ministering to the holy tabernacle, the holy Catholic Church; who stand at the altar of the Lord your God, and offer to Him reasonable and unbloody sacrifices through Jesus the great High Priest. You are to the laity prophets, rulers, governors, and kings; the mediators between God and His faithful people, who receive and declare His word, well acquainted with the Scriptures. Ye are the voice of and witnesses of His will, who bear the sins of all, and intercede for all; whom, as you have heard, the word severely threatens if you hide the key of knowledge from men, who are liable to perdition if you do not declare His will to the people that are under you; who shall have a certain reward from God, and unspeakable honour and glory, if you duly minister to the holy tabernacle. For as yours is the burden, so you receive as your fruit the supply of food and other necessaries. For you imitate Christ the Lord; and as He “bare the sins of us all upon the tree” at His crucifixion, the innocent for those who deserved punishment, so also you ought to make the sins of the people your own. For concerning our Saviour it is said in Isaiah, “He bears our sins, and is afflicted for us.” (Isa_53:4) And again: “He bare the sins of many, and was delivered for our offences.” (Isa_53:12) As, therefore, you are patterns for others, so have you Christ for your pattern. As, therefore, He is concerned for all, so be you for the laity under you. For do not thou imagine that the office of a bishop is an easy or light burden. As, therefore, you bear the weight, so have you a right to partake of the fruits before others, and to impart to those that are in want, as being to give an account to Him, who without bias will examine your accounts. For those who attend upon the Church ought to be maintained by the Church, as being priests, Levites, presidents, and ministers of God; as it is written in the book of Numbers concerning the priests: “And the Lord said unto Aaron, Thou, and thy sons, and the house of thy family, shall bear the iniquities of the holy things of priesthood.” (Num_18:1) “Behold, I have given unto you the charge of the first-fruits, from all that are sanctified to me by the children of Israel; I have given them for a reward to thee, and to thy sons after thee, by an ordinance for ever. This shall be yours out of the holy things, out of the oblations, and out of the gifts, and out of all the sacrifices, and out of every trespass-offering, and sin-offerings; and all that they render unto me out of all their holy things, they shall belong to thee, and to thy sons: in the sanctuary shall they eat them.” (Num_18:8, etc.) And a little after: “All the first-fruits of the oil, and of the wine, and of the wheat, all which they shall give unto the Lord, to thee have I given them; and all that is first ripe, to thee have I given it, and every devoted thing. Every first-born of man and of beast, clean and unclean, and of sacrifice, with the breast, and the right shoulder, all these appertain to the priests, and to the rest of those belonging to them, even to the Levites.” (Num_18:12, etc.)
Hear this, you of the laity also, the elect Church of God. For the people were formerly called “the people of God,” (Exo_19:5, Exo_19:6) and “an holy nation.” (Heb_12:23) You, therefore, are the holy and sacred “Church of God, enrolled in heaven, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people,” (1Pe_2:9) a bride adorned for the Lord God, a great Church, a faithful Church. Hear attentively now what was said formerly: oblations and tithes belong to Christ our High Priest, and to those who minister to Him. Tenths of salvation are the first letter of the name of Jesus. Hear, O thou Holy Catholic Church, who hast escaped the ten plagues, and hast received the ten commandments, and hast learned the law, and hast kept the faith, and hast believed in Jesus, and hast known the decad, and hast believed in the iota which is the first letter of the name of Jesus,14 and art named after His name, and art established, and shinest in the consummation of His glory. Those which were then the sacrifices now are prayers, and intercessions, and thanksgivings. Those which were then first-fruits, and tithes, and offerings, and gifts, now are oblations, which are presented by holy bishops to the Lord God, through Jesus Christ, who has died for them. For these are your high priests, as the presbyters are your priests, and your present deacons instead of your Levites; as are also your readers, your singers, your porters, your deaconesses, your widows, your virgins, and your orphans: but He who is above all these is the High Priest.
XXVI. According to What Patterns and Dignity Every Order of the Clergy Is Appointed by God.
The bishop, he is the minister of the word, the keeper of knowledge, the medieator between God and you in the several parts of your divine worship. He is the teacher of piety; and, next after God, he is your father, who has begotten you again to the adoption of sons by water and the Spirit. He is your ruler and governor; he is your king and potentate; he is, next after God, your earthly god, who has a right to be honoured by you. For concerning him, and such as he, it is that God pronounces, “I have said, Ye are gods; and ye are all children of the Most High.” (Psa_82:6) And, “Ye shall not speak evil of the gods.” (Exo_22:28) For let the bishop preside over you as one honoured with the authority of God, which he is to exercise over the clergy, and by which he is to govern all the people. But let the deacon minister to him, as Christ does to His Father;15 and let him serve him unblameably in all things, as Christ does nothing of Himself, but does always those things that please His Father. Let also the deaconess be honoured by you in the place of the Holy Ghost, and not do or say anything without the deacon; as neither does the Comforter say or do anything of Himself, but gives glory to Christ by waiting for His pleasure. And as we cannot believe on Christ without the teaching of the Spirit, so let not any woman address herself to the deacon or bishop without the deaconess. Let the presbyters be esteemed by you to represent us the apostles, and let them be the teachers of divine knowledge; since our Lord, when He sent us, said, “Go ye, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Mat_28:19) Let the widows and orphans be esteemed as representing the altar of burnt-offering; and let the virgins be honoured as representing the altar of incense, and the incense itself.
XXVII. That It Is a Horrible Thing for a Man to Thrust Himself into Any Sacerdotal Office, as Did Corah and His Company, Saul and Uzziah.
As, therefore, it was not lawful for one of another tribe, that was not a Levite, to offer anything, or to approach the altar without the priest, so also do you do nothing without the bishop;16 for if any one does anything without the bishop, he does it to no purpose. For it will not be esteemed as of any avail to him. For as Saul, when he had offered without Samuel, was told, “It will not avail for thee;” (1Sa_13:13) so every person among the laity, doing anything without the priest, labours in vain. And as Uzziah the king, (2Ch_26:1-23) who was not a priest, and yet would exercise the functions of the priests, was smitten with leprosy for his transgression; so every lay person shall not be unpunished who despises God, and is so mad as to affront His priests, and unjustly to snatch that honour to himself: not imitating Christ, “who glorified not Himself to be made an high priest;” (Heb_5:5) but waited till He heard from His Father, “The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psa_110:4) If, therefore, Christ did not glorify Himself without the Father, how dare any man thrust himself into the priesthood who has not received that dignity from his superior, and do such things which it is lawful only for the priests to do? Were not the followers of Corah, even though they were of the tribe of Levi, consumed with fire, because they rose up against Moses and Aaron, and meddled with such things as did not belong to them? And Dathan and Abiram went down quick into hell; and the rod that budded put a stop to the madness of the multitude, and demonstrated who was the high priest ordained by God. (Num_16:1-50) You ought therefore, brethren, to bring your sacrifices and your oblations to the bishop, as to your high priest, either by yourselves or by the deacons; and do you bring not those only, but also your first-fruits, and your tithes, and your free-will offerings to him. For he knows who they are that are in affliction, and gives to every one as is convenient, that so one may not receive alms twice or oftener the same day, or the same week, while another has nothing at all. For it is reasonable rather to supply the wants of those who really are in distress, than of those who only appear to be so.
XXVIII. Of an Entertainment, and After What Manner Each Distinct Order of the Clergy Is to Be Treated by Those Who Invite Them to It.
If any determine to invite elder women to an entertainment of love, or a feast, as our Saviour calls it, (Luk_14:13) let them most frequently send to such a one whom the deacons know to be in distress. But let what is the pastor’s due, I mean the first-fruits,17 be set apart in the feast for him, even though he be not at the entertainment, as being your priest, and in honour of that God who has entrusted him with the priesthood. But as much as is given to every one of the elder women, let double so much be given to the deacons, in honour of Christ. Let also a double portion be set apart for the presbyters, as for such who labour continually about the word and doctrine, upon the account of the apostles of our Lord, whose place they sustain, as the counsellors of the bishop and the crown of the Church. For they are the Sanhedrim and senate of the Church. If there be a reader there, let him receive a single portion, in honour of the prophets, and let the singer and the porter have as much. Let the laity, therefore, pay proper honours in their presents, and utmost marks of respect to each distinct order. But let them not on all occasions trouble their governor, but let them signify their desires by those who minister to him, that is, by the deacons, with whom they may be more free. For neither may we address ourselves to Almighty God, but only by Christ. In the same manner, therefore, let the laity make known all their desires to the bishop by the deacon, and accordingly let them act as he shall direct them. For there was no holy thing offered or done in the temple formerly without the priest. “For the priest’s lips shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth,” as the prophet somewhere says, “for he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty.” (Mal_2:7) For if the worshippers of demons, in their hateful, abominable, and impure performances, imitate the sacred rules till this very day (it is a wide comparison indeed. and there is a vast distance between their abominations and God’s sacred worship), in their mockeries of worship they neither offer nor do anything without their pretended priest, but esteem him as the very mouth of their idols of stone, waiting to see what commands he will lay upon them. And whatsoever he commands them, that they do, and without him they do nothing; and they honour him, their pretended priest, and esteem his name as venerable in honour of lifeless statues, and in order to the worship of wicked spirits. If these heathens, therefore, who give glory to lying vanities, and place their hope upon nothing that is firm, endeavour to imitate the sacred rules, how much more reasonable is it that you, who have a most certain faith and undoubted hope, and who expect glorious, and eternal, and never-failing promises, should honour the Lord God in those set over you, and esteem your bishop to be the mouth of God!
XXIX. What Is the Dignity of a Bishop and of a Deacon.
For if Aaron, because he declared to Pharaoh the words of God from Moses, is called a prophet; and Moses himself is called a god to Pharaoh, on account of his being at once a king and a high priest, as God says to him, “I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet;” (Exo_7:1) why do not ye also esteem the mediators of the word to be prophets, and reverence them as gods?
XXX. After What Manner the Laity Are to Be Obedient to the Deacon.
For now the deacon is to you Aaron, and the bishop Moses. If, therefore, Moses was called a god by the Lord, let the bishop be honoured among you as a god, and the deacon as his prophet. For as Christ does nothing without His Father, so neither does the deacon do anything without his bishop; and as the Son without His Father is nothing, so is the deacon nothing without his bishop; and as the Son is subject to His Father, so is every deacon subject to his bishop; and as the Son is the messenger and prophet of the Father, so is the deacon the messenger and prophet of his bishop. Wherefore let all things that he is to do with any one be made known to the bishop, and be finally ordered by him.
XXXI. That the Deacon Must Not Do Anything Without the Bishop.
Let him not do anything at all without his bishop, nor give anything without his consent. For if he gives to any one as to a person in distress without the bishop’s knowledge, he gives it so that it must tend to the reproach of the bishop, and he accuses him as careless of the distressed. But he that casts reproach on his bishop, either by word or deed, opposes God, not hearkening to what He says: “Thou shalt not speak evil of the gods.” (Exo_22:28) For He did not make that law concerning deities of wood and of stone, which are abominable, because they are falsely called gods, but concerning the priests and the judges, to whom He also said, “Ye are gods, and children of the Most High.” (Psa_82:6)
XXXII. That the Deacon Must Not Make Any Distributions Without the Consent of the Bishop, Because That Will Turn to the Reproach of the Bishop.
If therefore, O deacon, thou knowest any one to be in distress, put the bishop in mind of him, and so give to him; but do nothing in a clandestine way, so as may tend to his reproach, lest thou raise a murmur against him; for the murmur will not be against him, but against the Lord God: and the deacon, with the rest, will hear what Aaron and Miriam heard, when they spake against Moses: “How is it that ye were not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” (Num_12:8) And again, Moses says to those who rose up against him: “Your murmuring is not against us, but against the Lord our God.” (Exo_16:8) For if he that calls one of the laity Raka, (Mat_5:22) or fool, shall not be unpunished, as doing injury to the name18 of Christ, how dare any man speak against his bishop, by whom the Lord gave the Holy Spirit among you upon the laying on of his hands, by whom ye have learned the sacred doctrines, and have known God, and have believed in Christ, by whom ye were known of God, by whom ye were sealed with the oil of gladness and the ointment of understanding, by whom ye were declared to be the children of light, by whom the Lord in your illumination testified by the imposition of the bishop’s hands, and sent out His sacred voice upon every one of you, saying, “Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee?” (Psa_2:7) By thy bishop, O man, God adopts thee for His child. Acknowledge, O son, that right hand which was a mother to thee. Love him who, after God, is become a father to thee, and honour him.
XXXIII. After What Manner the Bishops Are to Be Honoured, and to Be Reverenced as Our Spiritual Parents.
For if the divine oracle says, concerning our parents according to the flesh, “Honour thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee;” (Exo_20:12) and, “He that curseth his father or his mother, let him die the death;” (Exo_21:17) how much more should the word exhort you to honour your spiritual parents, and to love them as your benefactors and ambassadors with God, who have regenerated you by water, and endued you with the fulness of the Holy Spirit, who have fed you with the word as with milk, who have nourished you with doctrine, who have confirmed you by their admonitions, who have imparted to you the saving body and precious blood of Christ, who have loosed you from your sins, who have made you partakers of the holy and sacred eucharist, who have admitted you to be partakers and fellow-heirs of the promise of God! Reverence these, and honour them with all kinds of honour; for they have obtained from God the power of life and death, in their judging of sinners, and condemning them to the death of eternal fire, as also of loosing returning sinners from their sins, and of restoring them to a new life.
XXXIV. That Priests Are to Be Preferred Before Rulers and Kings.
Account these worthy to be esteemed your rulers and your kings, and bring them tribute as to kings; for by you they and their families ought to be maintained. As Samuel made constitutions for the people concerning a king, (1Sa_8:1-22) in the first book of Kings, and Moses did so concerning priests in Leviticus, so do we also make constitutions for you concerning bishops. For if there the multitude distributed the inferior services in proportion to so great a king, ought not therefore the bishop much more now to receive of you those things which are determined by God for the sustenance of himself and of the rest of the clergy belonging to him? But if we may add somewhat further, let the bishop receive more than the other received of old: for he only managed the affairs of the soldiery, being entrusted with war and peace for the preservation of men’s bodies; but the other is entrusted with the exercise of the priestly office in relation to God, in order to preserve both body and soul from dangers. By how much, therefore, the soul is more valuable than the body, so much the priestly office is beyond the kingly. For it binds and looses those that are worthy of punishment or of remission. Wherefore you ought to love the bishop as your father, and fear him as your king, and honour him as your lord, bringing to him your fruits and the works of your hands, for a blessing upon you, giving to him your first-fruits, and your tithes, and your oblations, and your gifts, as to the priest of God; the first-fruits of your wheat, and wine, and oil, and autumnal fruits, and wool,19 and all things which the Lord God gives thee. And thy offering shall be accepted as a savour of a sweet smell to the Lord thy God; and the Lord will bless the works of thy hands, and will multiply the good things of the land. “For a blessing is upon the head of him that giveth.” (Pro_11:26)
XXXV. That Both the Law and the Gospel Prescribe Offerings.
Now you ought to know, that although the Lord has delivered you from the additional bonds, and has brought you out of them to your refreshment, and does not permit you to sacrifice irrational creatures for sin-offerings, and purifications, and scapegoats, and continual washings and sprinklings, yet has He nowhere freed you from those oblations which you owe to the priests, nor from doing good to the poor. For the Lord says to you in the Gospel: “Unless your righteousness abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat_5:20) Now herein will your righteousness exceed theirs, if you take greater care of the priests, the orphans, and the widows; as it is written: “He hath scattered abroad; he hath given to the poor; his righteousness remaineth for ever.” (Psa_112:9) And again: “By acts of righteousness and faith iniquities are purged.” (Pro_16:6) And again: “Every bountiful soul is blessed.” (Pro_11:25) So therefore shalt thou do as the Lord has appointed, and shalt, give to the priest what things are due to him, the first-fruits of thy floor, and of thy wine-press, and sin-offerings, as to the mediator between God and such as stand in need of purgation and forgiveness. For it is thy duty to give, and his to administer, as being the administrator and disposer of ecclesiastical affairs. Yet shalt thou not call thy bishop to account, nor watch his administration, how he does it, when, or to whom, or where, or whether he do it well or ill, or indifferently; for he has One who will call him to an account, the Lord God, who put this administration into his hands, and thought him worthy of the priesthood of so great dignity.
XXXVI. The Recital of the Ten Commandments, and After What Manner They Do Here Prescribe to Us.
Have before thine eyes the fear of God, and always remember the ten commandments of God, – to love the one and only Lord God with all thy strength; to give no heed to idols, or any other beings, as being lifeless gods, or irrational beings or dæmons. Consider the manifold workmanship of God, which received its beginning through Christ. Thou shalt observe the Sabbath, on account of Him who ceased from His work of creation, but ceased not from His work of providence: it is a rest for meditation of the law, not for idleness of the hands. Reject every unlawful lust, everything destructive to men, and all anger. Honour thy parents, as the authors of thy being. Love thy neighbour as thyself. Communicate the necessaries of life to the needy. Avoid swearing falsely, and swearing often, and in vain; for thou shalt not be held guiltless. Do not appear before the priests empty, and offer thy free-will offerings continually. Moreover, do not leave the church of Christ; but go thither in the morning before all thy work, and again meet there in the evening, to return thanks to God that He has preserved thy life. Be diligent, and constant, and laborious in thy calling. Offer to the Lord thy free-will offerings; for says He, “Honour the Lord with the fruit of thy honest labours.” (Pro_3:9) If thou art not able to cast anything considerable into the Corban,20 yet at least bestow upon the strangers one, or two, or five mites. “Lay up to thyself heavenly treasure, which neither the moth nor thieves can destroy.” (Mat_6:20) And in doing this, do not judge thy bishop, or any of thy neighbours among the laity; for if thou judge thy brother, thou becomest a judge, without being constituted such by anybody, for the priests are only entrusted with the power of judging. For to them it is said, “Judge righteous judgment;” (Deu_1:16, Deu_16:18) and again “Approve yourselves to be exact money-changers.” (Zec_7:9) For to you this is not entrusted; for, on the contrary, it is said to those who are not of the dignity of magistrates or ministers: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.” (Luk_6:37)
Sec. V. – On Accusations, and the Treatment of Accusers.
XXXVII. Concerning Accusers and False Accusers, and How a Judge Is Not Rashly Either to Believe Them or Disbelieve Them, but After an Accurate Examination.
But it is the duty of the bishop to judge rightly, as it is written, “Judge righteous judgment;” (Joh_7:24) and elsewhere, “Why do ye not even of yourselves judge what is right?” (Luk_12:57) Be ye therefore as skilful dealers in money: for as these reject bad money, but take to themselves what is current, in the same manner it is the bishops’s duty to retain the unblameable, but either to heal, or, if they be past cure, to cast off those that are blameworthy, so as not to be hasty in cutting off, nor to believe alI accusations; for it sometimes happens that some, either through passion or envy, do insist on a false accusation against a brother, as did the two elders in the case of Susanna in Babylon, (Hist. Susanna) and the Egyptian woman in the case of Joseph. (Gen_39:1-23) Do thou therefore, as a man of God, not rashly receive such accusations, lest thou take away the innocent and slay the righteous; for he that will receive such accusations is the author of anger rather than of peace. But where there is anger, there the Lord is not; for that anger, which is the friend of Satan – I mean that which is excited unjustly by the means of false brethren – never suffers unanimity to be in the Church. Wherefore, when you know such persons to be foolish, quarrelsome, passionate, and such as delight in mischief, do not give credit to them; but observe such as they are, when you hear anything from them against their brother: for murder is nothing in their eyes, and they cast a man down in such a way as one would not suspect. Do thou therefore consider diligently the accuser,21 wisely observing his mode of life, what, and of what sort it is; and in case thou findest him a man of veracity, do according to the doctrine of our Lord, (Mat_18:15) and taking him who is accused, rebuke him, that he may repent, when nobody is by. But if he be not persuaded, take with thee one or two more, and so show him his fault, and admonish him with mildness and instruction; for “wisdom will rest upon an heart that is good, but is not understood in the heart of the foolish.” (Pro_14:32)
XXXVIII. That Sinners Are Privately to Be Reproved, and the Penitent to Be Received, According to the Constitution of Our Lord.
If, therefore, he be persuaded by the mouth of you three, it is well. But if any one hardens himself, “tell it to the Church: but if he neglects to hear the Church, let him be to thee as an heathen man and a publican;” (Mat_18:17) and receive him no longer into the Church as a Christian, but reject him as an heathen. But if he be willing to repent, receive him. For the Church does not receive an heathen or a publican to communion, before they every one repent of their former impieties; for our Lord Jesus, the Christ of God, has appointed place for the acceptance of men upon their repentance.
XXXIX. Examples of Repentance.
For I Matthew, one of those twelve which speak to you in this doctrine, am an apostle, having myself been formerly a publican, but now have obtained mercy through believing, and have repented of my former practices, and have been vouchsafed the honour to be an apostle and preacher of the word. And Zacchæus, whom the Lord received upon his repentance and prayers to Him, was also himself in the same manner a publican at first. And, besides, even the soldiers and multitude of publicans, who came to hear the word of the Lord about repentance, heard this from the prophet John, after he had baptized them: “Do nothing more than that which is appointed you.” (Luk_3:13) In like manner, life is not refused to the heathen, if they repent and cast away their unbelief. Esteem, therefore, every one that is convicted of any wicked action, and has not repented, as a publican or an heathen. But if he afterward repents, and turns from his error, then, as we receive the heathen, when they wish to repent, into the Church indeed to hear the word, but do not receive them to communion until they have received the seal of baptism, and are made complete Christians; so do we also permit such as these to enter only to hear, until they show the fruit of repentance, that by hearing the word they may not utterly and irrecoverably perish. But let them not be admitted to communion in prayer; and let them depart after the reading of the law, and the prophets, and the Gospel, that by such departure they may be made better in their course of life, by endeavouring to meet every day about the public assemblies, and to be frequent in prayer, that they also may be at length admitted, and that those who behold them may be affected, and be more secured by fearing to fall into the same condition.
XL. That We Are Not to Be Implacable to Him Who Has Once or Twice Offended.
But yet do not thou, O bishop, presently abhor any person who has fallen into one or two offences, nor shalt thou exclude him from the word of the Lord, nor reject him from common intercourse, since neither did the Lord refuse to eat with publicans and sinners; and when He was accused by the Pharisees on this account, He said: “They that are well have no need of the physician, but they that are sick.” (Mat_9:12) Do you, therefore, live and dwell with those who are separated from you for their sins; and take care of them, comforting them, and confirming them, and saying to them: “Be strengthened, ye weak hands and feeble knees.” (Isa_35:3) For we ought to comfort those that mourn, and afford encouragement to the fainthearted, lest by immoderate sorrow they degenerate into distraction, since “he that is fainthearted is exceedingly distracted.” (Pro_14:29, LXX)
XLI. After What Manner We Ought to Receive a Penitent; How We Ought to Deal With Offenders, and When They Are to Be Cut Off from the Church.
But if any one returns, and shows forth the fruit of repentance, then do ye receive him to prayer, as the lost son, the prodigal, who had consumed his father’s substance with harlots, who fed swine, and desired to be fed with husks, and could not obtain it. This son, when he repented, and returned to his father, and said, “I have sinned against Heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son;” (Luk_15:21) the father, full of affection to his child, received him with music, and restored him his old robe, and ring, and shoes, and slew the fatted calf, and made merry with his friends. Do thou therefore, O bishop, act in the same manner. And as thou receivest an heathen after thou hast instructed and baptized him, so do thou let all join in prayers for this man, and restore him by imposition of hands to his ancient place among the flock, as one purified by repentance; and that imposition of hands shall be to him instead of baptism: for by the laying on of our hands the Holy Ghost was given to believers. And in case some one of those brethren who had stood immoveable accuse thee, because thou art reconciled to him, say to him: “Thou art always with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet to make merry and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” For that God does not only receive the penitent, but restores them to their former dignity, holy David is a sufficient witness, who, after his sin in the matter of Uriah, prayed to God, and said: “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with Thy free Spirit.” (Psa_51:1-19) And again: “Turn Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine offences. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit in my inward parts. Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.” Do thou therefore, as a compassionate physician, heal all that have sinned, making use of saving methods of cure; not only cutting and searing, or using corrosives, but binding up, and putting in tents, and using gentle healing medicines, and sprinkling comfortable words. If it be an hollow wound, or great gash, nourish it with a suitable plaister, that it may be filled up, and become even with the rest of the whole flesh. If it be foul, cleanse it with corrosive powder, that is, with the words of reproof. If it have proud flesh, eat it down with a sharp plaister – the threats of judgment. If it spreads further, sear it, and cut off the putrid flesh, mortifying him with fastings. But if, after all that thou hast done, thou perceivest that from the feet to the head there is no room for a fomentation, or oil, or bandage, but that the malady spreads and prevents all cure, as a gangrene which corrupts the entire member; then, with a great deal of consideration, and the advice of other skilful physicians, cut off the putrefied member, that the whole body of the Church be not corrupted. Be not therefore ready and hasty to cut off, nor do thou easily have recourse to the saw, with its many teeth; but first use a lancet to lay open the wound, that the inward cause whence the pain is derived being drawn out, may keep the body free from pain. But if thou seest any one past repentance, and he is become insensible, then cut off the incurable from the Church with sorrow and lamentation. For: “Take out from among yourselves that wicked person.” (Deu_17:7) And: “Ye shall make the children of Israel to fear.” (Lev_15:31) And again: “Thou shalt not accept the persons of the rich in judgment.” (Deu_1:17; Lev_19:15) And: “Thou shalt not pity a poor man in his cause: for the judgment is the Lord’s.” (Exo_23:3)
XLII. That a Judge Must Not Be a Respecter of Persons.
But if the slanderous accusation be false, and youthat are the pastors, with the deacons, admit of that falsehood for truth, either by acceptance of persons or receiving of bribes, as willing to do that which will be pleasing to the devil, and so you thrust out from the Church him that is accused, but is clear of the crime, you shall give an account in the day of the Lord. For it is written: “The innocent and the righteous thou shalt not slay.” (Exo_23:7, Exo_23:8) “Thou shalt not take girls to smite the soul: for gifts blind the eyes of the wise, and destroy the words of the righteous.” (Deu_27:25, Deu_16:19) And again: “They that justify the wicked for gifts, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him.” (Isa_5:23) Be careful, therefore, not to condemn any persons unjustly, and so to assist the wicked. For “woe to him that calls evil good, and good evil; bitter sweet, and sweet bitter; that puts light for darkness, and darkness for light.” (Isa_5:20) Take care, therefore, lest by any means ye become acceptors of persons, and thereby fall under this voice of the Lord.22 For if you condemn others unjustly, you pass sentence against yourselves. For the Lord says: “With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and as you condemn, you shall be condemned.” (Mat_7:2; Luk_6:37) If, therefore, ye judge without respect of persons, ye will discover that accuser who bears false witness against his neighbour, and will prove him to be a sycophant, a spiteful person, and a murderer, causing perplexity by accusing the man as if he were wicked, inconstant in his words, contradicting himself in what he affirms, and entangled with the words of his own mouth; for his own lips are a dangerous snare to him: whom, when thou hast convicted him of speaking falsely, thou shalt judge severely, and shalt deliver him to the fiery sword, and thou shalt do to him as he wickedly proposed to do to his brother; for as much as in him lay he slew his brother, by forestalling the ears of the judge. (Deu_19:19) Now it is written, that “he that sheddeth man’s blood, for that his own blood shall be shed.” (Gen_9:6) And: “Thou shalt take away that innocent blood, which was shed without cause, from thee.” (Gen_19:13)
XLIII. After What Manner False Accusers Are to Be Punished.
Thou shalt therefore cast him out of the congregation as a murderer of his brother. Some time afterwards, if he says that he repents, mortify him with fastings, and afterwards ye shall lay your hands upon him and receive him, but still securing him, that he does not disturb anybody a second time. But if, when he is admitted again, he be alike troublesome, and will not cease to disturb and to quarrel with his brother, spying faults out of a contentious spirit, cast him out as a pernicious person, that he may not lay waste the Church of God. For such a one is the raiser of disturbances in cities; for he, though he be within, does not become the Church, but is a superfluous and vain member, casting a blot, as far as in him lies, on the body of Christ. For if such men as are born with superfluous members of their body, which hang to them as fingers, or excrescences of flesh, cut them away from themselves on account of their indecency, whereby the unseemliness vanishes, and the man recovers his natural good shape by the means of the surgeon; how much more ought you, the pastors of the Church (for the Church is a perfect body, and sound members; of such as believe in God, in the fear of the Lord, and in love), to do the like when there is found in it a superfluous member with wicked designs, and rendering the rest of the body unseemly, and disturbing it with sedition, and war, and evil-speaking; causing fears, disturbances, blots, evil-speaking, accusations, disorders, and doing the like works of the devil, as if he were ordained by the devil to cast a reproach on the Church by calumnies, and mighty disorders, and strife, and division! Such a one, therefore, when he is a second time cast out of the Church, is justly cut off entirely from the congregation of the Lord. And now the Church of the Lord will be more beautiful than it was before, when it had a superfluous, and to itself a disagreeable member. Wherefore henceforward it will be free from blame and reproach, and become clear of such wicked, deceitful, abusive, unmerciful, traitorous persons; of such as are “haters of those that are good, lovers of pleasure,” (2Ti_3:3, 2Ti_3:4) affecters of vainglory, deceivers, and pretenders to wisdom; of such as make it their business to scatter, or rather utterly to disperse, the lambs of the Lord.
11 From “said” to “ever” is not in Scripture.
12 Taken from 2Ch_23:3, LXX., instead of the reading of the mss., “Gebanai.”
13 Not in mss.
14 Inserted from V. mss.
15 The V. mss. read, “as the powers do to God,” which, Ültzen remarks, is an orthodox correction of an Arian opinion.
16 One V. mss. reads “priest.”
17 [Compare Teaching, chap. xiii. p. 381. – R.]
18 Capellius reads, “the law of Christ.”
19 One V. mss. reads “olives” instead of “wool.”
20 The V. mss. read: “Casting into the treasury whatever you can bestow.”
21 The mss. read, “the accused.”
22 This sentence follows the passage from Isa_5:23 in most mss. One V. ms. has the order adopted in the text.