« Prev To Amphilochius, concerning the Canons. Next »

Letter CLXXXVIII.26112611    Placed in 347.

(Canonica Prima.)

To Amphilochius, concerning the Canons.26122612    In this letter Basil replies to several questions of Amphilochius concerning the Canons, and also concerning the interpretation of some passages of Holy Scripture.  Maran dates it at the end of 374.

Even a fool,” it is said, “when he asks questions,” is counted wise.26132613    Prov. xvii. 28, lxx.  But when a wise man asks questions, he makes even a fool wise.  And this, thank God, is my case, as often as I receive a letter from your industrious self.  For we become more learned and wiser than we were before, merely by asking questions, because we are taught many things which we did not know; and our anxiety to answer them acts as a teacher to us.  Assuredly at the present time, though I have never before paid attention to the points you raise, I have been forced to make accurate enquiry, and to turn over in my mind both whatever I have heard from the elders, and all that I have been taught in conformity with their lessons.

I.  As to your enquiry about the Cathari,26142614    i.e.the followers of Novatian.  cf. Eusebius vi. 43.  cf. De. Sp. Scto. ch. x. p. 17 and note. a statement has already been made, and you have properly reminded me that it is right to follow the custom obtaining in each region, because those, who at the time gave decision on these points, held different opinions concerning their baptism.  But the baptism of the Pepuzeni26152615    Or Pepuziani, another name for the Montanists.  “Epiphanius may safely be disregarded, who, treating of the Montanists, in the 48th section of his work on heresies, treats of the Pepuziani, in the 49th, as a kindred, but distinct, sect.”  Dr. Salmon in D.C.B. iv. 303.  The name is derived from Pepuza in Western Phrygia, the Montanist, or Cataphrygian, “Jerusalem.”  (Eus. H.E. v. 18.) seems to me to have no authority; and I am astonished how this can have escaped Dionysius,26162616    i.e. of Alexandria.  Jerome (Vir. illust. lxix.) says that he agreed with Cyprian and the African Synod on the rebaptizing of heretics.  The Ben. note says:  “Videtur hac in re major auctoritas Basilio attribuenda quam Hieronymo.  Plus operæ insumpserat Basilius in ea re examinanda.” acquainted as he was with the canons.  The old authorities decided to accept that baptism which in nowise errs from the faith.  Thus they used the names of heresies, of schisms, and of unlawful congregations.26172617    παρασυναγωγή.  By heresies they meant men who were altogether broken off and alienated in matters relating to the actual faith; by schisms26182618    Archbp. Trench (N.T. Syn. 330) quotes Augustine (Con. Crescon. Don. ii. 7):  “Schisma est recens congregationis ex aliquâ sententiarum diversitate dissensio; hæresis autem schisma inveteratum;” and Jerome (Ep. ad Tit. iii. 10):  “Inter hæresim et schisma hoc esse arbitrantur, quod hæresis perversum dogma habeat; schisma propter episcopalem dissensionem ab ecclesiâ separetur; quod quidem in principio aliquâ ex parte intelligi queat.  Cæterum nullum schisma non sibi aliquam confingit hæresim, ut recte ab ecclesia recessisse videatur.”
   To these may be added Aug. (Quæst. in Matt. xi. 2):  “Solet autem etiam quæri schismatici quid ab hæreticis distent, et hoc inveniri quod schismaticos non fides diversa faciat sed communionis disrupta societas.  Sed utrum inter zizania numerandi sint dubitari potest, magis autem videntur spicis corruptis esse similiores, vel paleis aristarum fractis, vel scissis et de segete abruptis.”
men who had separated for some ecclesiastical reasons and questions capable of mutual solution; by unlawful congregations gatherings held by disorderly presbyters or bishops or by unin224structed laymen.  As, for instance, if a man be convicted of crime, and prohibited from discharging ministerial functions, and then refuses to submit to the canons, but arrogates to himself episcopal and ministerial rights, and persons leave the Catholic Church and join him, this is unlawful assembly.  To disagree with members of the Church about repentance, is schism.  Instances of heresy are those of the Manichæans, of the Valentinians, of the Marcionites, and of these Pepuzenes; for with them there comes in at once their disagreement concerning the actual faith in God.  So it seemed good to the ancient authorities to reject the baptism of heretics altogether, but to admit that of schismatics,26192619    τῶν ἀποσχισάντων, ὡς ἔτι ἐκ τῆς ἐκκλησίας ὄντων.
   The Ben. note is “Quod autem addit Basilius, ut adhuc ex Ecclesia exsistentium, non idcirco addit quod schismaticos in Ecclesiæ membris numeraret.  Illius verba si quis in deteriorem partem rapiat, facilis et expedita responsio, Nam sub finem hujus, canonis de Encratitis ipsis, id est, de hæreticis incarnationem et Dei singularitatem negantibus, ait sibi non jam integrum esse eos qui huic sectæ conjuncti sunt ab Ecclesia separare, quia duos eorum episcopos sine baptismo ac sine nova ordinatione receperat.  Nemo autem suspicabitur Basilium ejusmodi hæreticos ab Ecclesia alienissimos non judicasse.  Quare quidquid schismaticis tribuit, in sola baptismi societate positum est.  Nam cum Cyprianus et Firmilianus schismaticos et hæreticos ita ab Ecclesia distractos crederent, ut nihil prosus ad eos ex fontibus Ecclesiæ perflueret; Basilius huic sententiæ non assentitur, et in schismaticis quia fidem Ecclesiæ retinent, vestigium quoddam agnoscit necessitudinis et societatis cum Ecclesia, ita ut valida sacramentorum administratio ab Ecclesia ad illos permanare possit.  Hinc sibi integrum negat detestandos hæreticos ab Ecclesia separare, quorum baptisma ratum habuerat.  Idem docent duo præstantissimi unitatis defensores.  Optatus et Augustinus.  Quod enim scissum est, inquit Optatus lib. iii. n. 9, ex parte divisum est, non ex toto:  cum constet merito, quia nobis et vobis ecclesiastica una est conversatio, et si hominum litigant mentes, non litigant sacramenta.  Vid. lib. iv. n. 2.  Sic etiam Augustinus lib. i.  De baptismo n. 3:  Itaque isti (hæretici et schismatici) in quibusdam rebus nobiscum sunt:  in quibus autem nobiscum non sunt, ut veniendo accipiant, vel redeundo recipiant, adhortamur.  Vid. lib. iii. n. 26.  Sic ex Basilio hæretici nobiscum sunt quoad baptisma.”
on the ground that they still belonged to the Church.

As to those who assembled in unlawful congregations, their decision was to join them again to the Church, after they had been brought to a better state by proper repentance and rebuke, and so, in many cases, when men in orders26202620    τους ἐν βαθμῷcf. note on p. 218. had rebelled with the disorderly, to receive them on their repentance, into the same rank.  Now the Pepuzeni are plainly heretical, for, by unlawfully and shamefully applying to Montanus and Priscilla the title of the Paraclete, they have blasphemed against the Holy Ghost.  They are, therefore, to be condemned for ascribing divinity to men; and for outraging the Holy Ghost by comparing Him to men.  They are thus also liable to eternal damnation, inasmuch as blasphemy against the Holy Ghost admits of no forgiveness.  What ground is there, then, for the acceptance of the baptism of men who baptize into the Father and the Son and Montanus or Priscilla?  For those who have not been baptized into the names delivered to us have not been baptized at all.  So that, although this escaped the vigilance of the great Dionysius, we must by no means imitate his error.  The absurdity of the position is obvious in a moment, and evident to all who are gifted with even a small share of reasoning capacity.

The Cathari are schismatics; but it seemed good to the ancient authorities, I mean Cyprian and our own26212621    As being one of Basil’s predecessors in the see of Cæsarea. Firmilianus, to reject all these, Cathari, Encratites,26222622    “Hoc Encratitarum facinore non corrupta essentialis baptismi forma.  Sed novæ quædam adjectæ cærimoniæ.” Ben. Ed. and Hydroparastatæ,26232623    i.e.those who used water instead of wine in the Eucharist, as Tatian and his followers.  cf. Clem. Al., Strom. i. 19 and Cyprian. Ep. lxiii. by one common condemnation, because the origin of separation arose through schism, and those who had apostatized from the Church had no longer on them the grace of the Holy Spirit, for it ceased to be imparted when the continuity was broken.  The first separatists had received their ordination from the Fathers, and possessed the spiritual gift by the laying on of their hands.  But they who were broken off had become laymen, and, because they are no longer able to confer on others that grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves are fallen away, they had no authority either to baptize or to ordain.  And therefore those who were from time to time baptized by them, were ordered, as though baptized by laymen, to come to the church to be purified by the Church’s true baptism.  Nevertheless, since it has seemed to some of those of Asia that, for the sake of management of the majority, their baptism should be accepted, let it be accepted.  We must, however, perceive the iniquitous action of the Encratites; who, in order to shut themselves out from being received back by the Church have endeavoured for the future to anticipate readmission by a peculiar baptism of their own, violating, in this manner even their own special practice.26242624    The Ben. note points out that the improper proceeding of the Encratites consisted not in any corruption of the baptismal formula, but in the addition of certain novel ceremonies, and proceeds:  “Nam in canone 47 sic eos loquentes inducit.  In Patrem et Filium et Spiritum baptizati sumus.  Hinc eorum baptisma ratum habet, si qua inciderit magni momenti causa.  Quod autem ait hoc facinus eos incipere, ut reditum sibi in Ecclesiam intercludant, videtur id prima specie in eam sententiam accipiendum, quasi Encratitæ baptisma suum ea mente immutassent, ut Catholicos ad illud rejiciendum incitarent, sicque plures in secta contineret odium et fuga novi baptismatis.  Abhorrebat enim ab omnium animis iteratus baptismus, ut pluribus exemplis probat Augustinus, lib. v. De baptismo, n. 6.  Videtur ergo prima specie Encratitis, ea, quam dixi, exstitisse causa, cur baptismum immutarent.  Atque ita hunc locum interpretatur Tillemontius, tom. iv. p. 628.  Sic etiam illius exemplo interpretatus sum in Præf. novæ Cypriani operum editioni præmissa cap. 4. p. 12.  Sed huic interpretationi non convenit cum his quæ addit Basilius.  Vereri enim se significat ne Catholici, dum Encratitas ab hac baptismi immutatione deterrere volunt, nimium restricti sint et severi in eorum baptismo rejiciendo.  Sperabant ergo Catholici tardiores ad ejus modi baptisma Encratitas futuros, si illud Catholici ratum habere nollent; nedum ipsi Encratitæ baptismatis immutationem eo consilio induxerint, ut ejusmodi baptisma a Catholicis rejiceretur.  Quamobrem hæc verba, ut reditum sibi in Ecclesiam intercludant, non consilium et propositum Encratitarum designant, sed incommodum quod ex eorum facinore consequebatur; velut si dicamus aliquem scelus admittere, ut æternam sibi damnationem accersat.”  225My opinion, therefore, is that nothing being distinctly laid down concerning them, it is our duty to reject their baptism, and that in the case of any one who has received baptism from them, we should, on his coming to the church, baptize him.  If, however, there is any likelihood of this being detrimental to general discipline, we must fall back upon custom, and follow the fathers who have ordered what course we are to pursue.  For I am under some apprehension lest, in our wish to discourage them from baptizing, we may, through the severity of our decision, be a hindrance to those who are being saved.  If they accept our baptism, do not allow this to distress us.  We are by no means bound to return them the same favour, but only strictly to obey canons.  On every ground let it be enjoined that those who come to us from their baptism be anointed26252625    cf. note on p. 42.  St. Cyprian (Ep. lxx.) says that heretics who have no true altar cannot have oil sanctified by the altar.  “Gregory of Nazianzus, Orat. (xlviii in Jul.) speaks of oil sanctified or consecrated on the spiritual or divine table; Optatus of Milevis (c. Don. vii. 102) says that this ointment is compounded (conditur) in the name of Christ; and the Pseudo-Dionysius (De Hierarch. Eccles. c. 4) mentions the use of the sign of the cross in the consecration of it.”  D.C.A. i. 355. in the presence of the faithful, and only on these terms approach the mysteries.  I am aware that I have received into episcopal rank Izois and Saturninus from the Encratite following.26262626    This is the only known reference to these two bishops.  I am precluded therefore from separating from the Church those who have been united to their company, inasmuch as, through my acceptance of the bishops, I have promulgated a kind of canon of communion with them.

II.  The woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder.  With us there is no nice enquiry as to its being formed or unformed.  In this case it is not only the being about to be born who is vindicated, but the woman in her attack upon herself; because in most cases women who make such attempts die.  The destruction of the embryo is an additional crime, a second murder, at all events if we regard it as done with intent.  The punishment, however, of these women should not be for life, but for the term of ten years.  And let their treatment depend not on mere lapse of time, but on the character of their repentance.

III.  A deacon who commits fornication after his appointment to the diaconate is to be deposed.  But, after he has been rejected and ranked among the laity, he is not to be excluded from communion.  For there is an ancient canon that those who have fallen from their degree are to be subjected to this kind of punishment alone.26272627    “Respicit, ni falor, ad canonem 25 apostolorum, ad quem Balsamon et Zonaras observant nonnulla esse peccata, quibus excommunicatio, non solum depositio, infligitur; velut si quis pecunia, vel magistratus potentia, sacerdotium assequatur, ut sancitur Can. 29 et 30.”  Ben. note.

Herein, as I suppose, the ancient authorities followed the old rule “Thou shalt not avenge twice for the same thing.”26282628    Nahum i. 9, LXX.  There is this further reason too, that laymen, when expelled from the place of the faithful, are from time to time restored to the rank whence they have fallen; but the deacon undergoes once for all the lasting penalty of deposition.  His deacon’s orders not being restored to him, they rested at this one punishment.  So far is this as regards what depends on law laid down.  But generally a truer remedy is the departure from sin.  Wherefore that man will give me full proof of his cure who, after rejecting grace for the sake of the indulgence of the flesh, has then, through bruising of the flesh26292629    “Duo veteres libri συντριμμοῦ τῆς καρδίας.”  Ben. note. and the enslaving of it26302630    cf. 1 Cor. ix. 27. by means of self control, abandoned the pleasures whereby he was subdued.  We ought therefore to know both what is of exact prescription and what is of custom; and, in cases which do not admit of the highest treatment, to follow the traditional direction.

IV.  In the case of trigamy and polygamy they laid down the same rule, in proportion, as in the case of digamy; namely one year for digamy (some authorities say two years); for trigamy men are separated for three and often for four years; but this is no longer described as marriage at all, but as polygamy; nay rather as limited fornication.  It is for this reason that the Lord said to the woman of Samaria, who had five husbands, “he whom thou now hast is not thy husband.”26312631    John iv. 18.  For the more usual modern interpretation that the sixth union was an unlawful one, cf. Bengel.  Matrimonium hoc sextum non erat legitimum, vel non consummatum, aut desertio aliudve impedimentum intercesserat, ex altera utra parte.  He does not reckon those who had exceeded the limits of a second marriage as worthy of the title of husband or wife.  In cases of trigamy we have accepted a seclusion of five years, not by the canons, but following the precept of our predecessors.  Such offenders ought not to be altogether prohibited from the privileges of the Church; they should be considered deserving of hearing after two or three years, and afterwards of being permitted to stand in their place; but they must be kept from the communion of the good gift, and only restored to the 226place of communion after showing some fruit of repentance.

V.  Heretics repenting at death ought to be received; yet to be received, of course, not indiscriminately, but on trial of exhibition of true repentance and of producing fruit in evidence of their zeal for salvation.26322632    τῶν κανονικῶν.  The Greek is of either gender.  The Ben. note is:  Clericos sive eos qui in canone recensentur hac voce designari hactenus existimarunt Basilii interpretes, ac ipsi etiam Zonares et Balsamon.  Sed ut canonicas sive sacras virgines interpreter, plurimis rationum momentis adducor:  1. Basilius hoc nomine clericos appellare non solet, sed sacras virgines, ut persici potest ex epistolis 52 et 175; 2. præscriptum Basilii non convenit in clericos, quorum nonnullis, nempe lectoribus et aliis ejus modi venia dabatur ineundi matrimonii, quamvis in canone recenserentur; 3. prohibet Basilius ejusmodi stupra quæ honesto matrimonii nomine prætexi solebant.  At id non inconcessum erat matrimonium, alios vero matrimonium post ordinationem inire nulla prorsus Ecclesia patiebatur, aut certe matrimonii pretium erat depositio.  Contra virginibus nubentibus non longior pœna pluribus in locis imponebatur, quam digamis, ut perspicitur ex canone 18, ubi Basilius hance consuetudinem abrogat, ac virginum matrimonia instar adulterii existimat.

VI.  The fornication of canonical persons is not to be reckoned as wedlock, and their union is to be completely dissolved, for this is both profitable for the security of the Church and will prevent the heretics from having a ground of attack against us, as though we induced men to join us by the attraction of liberty to sin.

VII.  Abusers of themselves with mankind, and with beasts, as also murderers, wizards, adulterers, and idolaters, are deserving of the same punishment.  Whatever rule you have in the case of the rest, observe also in their case.  There can, however, be no doubt that we ought to receive those who have repented of impurity committed in ignorance for thirty years.26332633    So the mss.  But the Ben. note points out that there must be some error, if a sin knowingly committed was punished by excommunication for fifteen years (Canons lviii., lxii., lxiii.), and one unwittingly committed by a punishment of twice the duration.  In this case there is ground for forgiveness in ignorance, in the spontaneity of confession, and the long extent of time.  Perhaps they have been delivered to Satan for a whole age of man that they may learn not to behave unseemly;26342634    cf. 1 Tim. i. 20. wherefore order them to be received without delay, specially if they shed tears to move your mercy, and shew a manner of living worthy of compassion.26352635    The Ben. note continues:  “Deinde vero testatur Basilius eos fere hominis ætatem satanæ traditos fuisse.  At ætas hominis (γενεά) sæpe annorum viginti spatio existimatur; velut cum ait Dionysius Alexandrinus Alexandrinus apud Eusebium, lib. vii. cap. 21.  Israelitas in deserto fuisse duabus ætatibus.  Ipse Basilius in Epistola 201, quæ scripta est anno 375, Neocæsarienses incusat quod sibi jam totam fere hominis ætatem succenseant; quos tamen non ita pridem amicos habuerat; ac anno 568, Musonii morte affictos litteris amicissimis consolatus fuerat.  Sæculum apud Latinos non semper stricte sumitur; velut cum ait Hieronymus in Epist. 27 ad Marcellum, in Christi verbis explicandis per tanta jam sæcula tantorum ingenia sudasse; vel cum auctor libri De rebaptismate in Cyprianum tacito nomine invehitur, quod adversus prisca consulta post tot sæculorum tantam seriem nunc primum repente sine ratione insurgat, p. 357.  De hoc ergo triginta annorum numero non paucos deducendos esse crediderim.

VIII.  The man who in a rage has taken up a hatchet against his own wife is a murderer.  But it is what I should have expected from your intelligence that you should very properly remind me to speak on these points more fully, because a wide distinction must be drawn between cases where there is and where there is not intent.  A case of an act purely unintentional, and widely removed from the purpose of the agent, is that of a man who throws a stone at a dog or a tree, and hits a man.  The object was to drive off the beast or to shake down the fruit.  The chance comer falls fortuitously in the way of the blow, and the act is unintentional.  Unintentional too is the act of any one who strikes another with a strap or a flexible stick, for the purpose of chastising him, and the man who is being beaten dies.  In this case it must be taken into consideration that the object was not to kill, but to improve, the offender.  Further, among unintentional acts must be reckoned the case of a man in a fight who when warding off an enemy’s attack with cudgel or hand, hits him without mercy in some vital part, so as to injure him, though not quite to kill him.  This, however, comes very near to the intentional; for the man who employs such a weapon in self defence, or who strikes without mercy, evidently does not spare his opponent, because he is mastered by passion.  In like manner the case of any one who uses a heavy cudgel, or a stone too big for a man to stand, is reckoned among the unintentional, because he does not do what he meant:  in his rage he deals such a blow as to kill his victim, yet all he had in his mind was to give him a thrashing, not to do him to death.  If, however, a man uses a sword, or anything of the kind, he has no excuse:  certainly none if he throws his hatchet.  For he does not strike with the hand, so that the force of the blow may be within his own control, but throws, so that from the weight and edge of the iron, and the force of the throw, the wound cannot fail to be fatal.

On the other hand acts done in the attacks of war or robbery are distinctly intentional, and admit of no doubt.  Robbers kill for greed, and to avoid conviction.  Soldiers who inflict death in war do so with the obvious purpose not of fighting, nor chastising, but of killing their opponents.  And if any one has concocted some magic philtre for some other reason, and then causes death, I count this as intentional.  Women frequently endeavour to draw men to love them by incantations and magic knots, and give them drugs which dull their intelligence.  Such women, 227when they cause death, though the result of their action may not be what they intended, are nevertheless, on account of their proceedings being magical and prohibited, to be reckoned among intentional homicides.  Women also who administer drugs to cause abortion, as well as those who take poisons to destroy unborn children, are murderesses.  So much on this subject.

IX.  The sentence of the Lord that it is unlawful to withdraw from wedlock, save on account of fornication,26362636    Matt. v. 32. applies, according to the argument, to men and women alike.  Custom, however, does not so obtain.  Yet, in relation with women, very strict expressions are to be found; as, for instance, the words of the apostle “He which is joined to a harlot is one body”26372637    1 Cor. vi. 16. and of Jeremiah, If a wife “become another man’s shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted?”26382638    Jer. iii. 1.  And again, “He that hath an adulteress is a fool and impious.”26392639    Prov. xviii. 22, LXX.  Yet custom ordains that men who commit adultery and are in fornication be retained by their wives.  Consequently I do not know if the woman who lives with the man who has been dismissed can properly be called an adulteress; the charge in this case attaches to the woman who has put away her husband, and depends upon the cause for which she withdrew from wedlock.26402640    The Ben. note is, Sequitur in hoc canone Basilius Romanas leges, quas tamen fatetur cum evangelio minus consentire.  Lex Constantini jubet in repudio mittendo a femina hæc sola crimina inquiri, si homicidam, vel medicamentarium, vel sepulcrorum dissolutorem maritum suum esse probaverit.  At eadem lege viris conceditur, ut adulteras uxores dimittant.  Aliud discrimen hoc in canone uxores inter et maritos ponitur, quod uxor injuste dimissa, si ab alia ducatur, adulterii notam non effugiat; dimissus autem injuste maritus nec adulter sit, si aliam ducat, nec quæ ab eo ducitur, adultera.  Cæterum Basilius ante episcopatum eodem jure uxorem ac maritum esse censebat.  Nam in Moral. reg. 73statuit virum ab uxore, aut uxorem a viro non debere separari, nisi quis deprehendatur in adulterio.  Utrique pariter interdicit novis nuptiis, sive repudient, sive repudientur.  In the case of her being beaten, and refusing to submit, it would be better for her to endure than to be separated from her husband; in the case of her objecting to pecuniary loss, even here she would not have sufficient ground.  If her reason is his living in fornication we do not find this in the custom of the church; but from an unbelieving husband a wife is commanded not to depart, but to remain, on account of the uncertainty of the issue.  “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband?”26412641    1 Cor. vii. 16.  Here then the wife, if she leaves her husband and goes to another, is an adulteress.  But the man who has been abandoned is pardonable, and the woman who lives with such a man is not condemned.  But if the man who has deserted his wife goes to another, he is himself an adulterer because he makes her commit adultery; and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has caused another woman’s husband to come over to her.

X.  Those who swear that they will not receive ordination, declining orders upon oath, must not be driven to perjure themselves, although there does seem to be a canon making concessions to such persons.  Yet I have found by experience that perjurers never turn out well.26422642    The Ben. note refers to the case of Dracontius, who had sworn that he would escape if he were ordained bishop, and so did; but was urged by Athanasius to discharge the duties of his diocese, notwithstanding his oath.  Account must however be taken of the form of the oath, its terms, the frame of mind in which it was taken, and the minutest additions made to the terms, since, if no ground of relief can anywhere be found, such persons must be dismissed.  The case, however, of Severus, I mean of the presbyter ordained by him, does seem to me to allow of relief of this kind, if you will permit it.  Give directions for the district placed under Mestia, to which the man was appointed, to be reckoned under Vasoda.  Thus he will not forswear himself by not departing from the place, and Longinus, having Cyriacus with him, will not leave the Church unprovided for, nor himself be guilty of neglect of work.26432643    On this obscure passage the Ben. note is:  Longinus presbyter erat in agro Mestiæ subjecto.  Sed cum is depositus essit ob aliquod delictum, ac forte honorem sacerdotii retineret, ut nonnumquam fiebat, Severus episcopus in ejus locum transtulit Cyriacum, quem antea Mindanis ordinaverat, ac jurare coegerat se Mindanis mansurum.  Nihil hac in re statui posse videbatur, quod non in magnam aliquam diffcultatem incurreret.  Nam si in agro Mestiæ subjecto Cyriacus remaneret, perjurii culpam sustinebat.  Si rediret Mindana, ager Mestiæ subjectus presbytero carebat, atque hujus incommodi culpa redundabat in caput Longini, qui ob delictum depositus fuerat.  Quid igitur Basilius?  Utrique occurrit incommodo; jubet agrum, qui Mastiæ subjectus erat Vasodis subjici, id est loco, cui subjecta erant Mindana.  Hoc ex remedio duo consequebatur Basilius, ut et ager ille presbytero non careret, et Cyriacus ibi remanens Mindana tamen redire censeretur, cum jam hic locus eidem ac Mindana chorepiscopo pareret.  I moreover shall not be held guilty of taking action in contravention of any canons by making a concession to Cyriacus who had sworn that he would remain at Mindana and yet accepted the transfer.  His return will be in accordance with his oath, and his obedience to the arrangement will not be reckoned against him as perjury, because it was not added to his oath that he would not go, even a short time, from Mindana, but would remain there for the future.  Severus, who pleads forgetfulness, I shall pardon, only telling him that One who knows what is secret will not overlook the ravaging of His Church by a man of such a character; a man who originally appoints uncanonically, then imposes oaths in violation of the Gospel, then tells a man to 228perjure himself in the matter of his transfer, and last of all lies in pretended forgetfulness.  I am no judge of hearts; I only judge by what I hear; let us leave vengeance to the Lord, and ourselves pardon the common human error of forgetfulness, and receive the man without question.

XI.  The man who is guilty of unintentional homicide has given sufficient satisfaction in eleven years.  We shall, without doubt, observe what is laid down by Moses in the case of wounded men, and shall not hold a murder to have been committed in the case of a man who lies down after he has been struck, and walks again leaning on his staff.26442644    Exod. xxi. 19.  If, however, he does not rise again after he has been struck, nevertheless, from there being no intent to kill, the striker is a homicide, but an unintentional homicide.

XII.  The canon absolutely excludes digamists from the ministry.26452645    Ap. Can. xiii. 14:  “It is clear from the Philosophumena of Hippolytus (ix. 12) that by the beginning of the 3d century the rule of monogamy for the clergy was well established, since he complains that in the days of Callistus ‘digamist and trigamist bishops, and priests and deacons, began to be admitted into the clergy.’  Tertullian recognises the rule as to the clergy.  Thus in his De Exhortatione Castitatis (c. 7) he asks scornfully; ‘Being a digamist, dost thou baptize?  Dost thou make the offering?’”  Dict. C. A. i. 552.
   Vide also Canon Bright, Notes on the Canons of the first four General Councils.  On Can. Nic. viii. p. 27.

XIII.  Homicide in war is not reckoned by our Fathers as homicide; I presume from their wish to make concession to men fighting on behalf of chastity and true religion.  Perhaps, however, it is well to counsel that those whose hands are not clean only abstain from communion for three years.26462646    The Ben. note quotes Balsamon, Zonaras, and Alexius Aristenus as remarking on this that Basil gives advice, not direction, and regards the hands, not the hearts, of soldiers as defiled; and as recalling that this canon was quoted in opposition to the Emperor Phocas when he wished to reckon soldiers as martyrs.  The canon was little regarded, as being contrary to general Christian sentiment.
   cf. Athan. Ep. xlviii. p. 557 of this edition:  “In war it is lawful and praiseworthy to destroy the enemy; accordingly not only are they who have distinguished themselves in the field held worthy of great honours, but monuments are put up proclaiming their achievements.”

XIV.  A taker of usury, if he consent to spend his unjust gain on the poor, and to be rid for the future of the plague of covetousness, may be received into the ministry.26472647    cf. Can. Nic. xvii.  Canon Bright (On the Canons, etc., p. 56) remarks:  “It must be remembered that interest, called τόκος and fenus, as the product of the principal, was associated in the early stages of society,—in Greece and Rome as well as in Palestine,—with the notion of undue profit extorted by a rich lender from the needy borrower (see Grote, Hist. Gr. ii. 311 H.; Arnold, Hist. Rome i. 282; Mommsen, Hist. R. i. 291).  Hence Tacitus says, ‘sane vetus urbi fenebre malcum, et seditionum discordiarumque creberrima causa’ (Ann. vi. 16), and Gibbon calls usury ‘the inveterate grievance of the city, abolished by the clamours of the people, revived by their wants and idleness.’”  (v. 314.)

XV.  I am astonished at your requiring exactitude in Scripture, and arguing that there is something forced in the diction of the interpretation which gives the meaning of the original, but does not exactly render what is meant by the Hebrew word.  Yet I must not carelessly pass by the question started by an enquiring mind.  At the creation of the world, birds of the air and the fishes of the sea had the same origin;26482648    Ps. viii. 8. for both kinds were produced from the water.26492649    Gen. i. 20 and 21.  The reason is that both have the same characteristics.  The latter swim in the water, the former in the air.  They are therefore mentioned together.  The form of expression is not used without distinction, but of all that lives in the water it is used very properly.  The birds of the air and the fishes of the sea are subject to man; and not they alone, but all that passes through the paths of the sea.  For every water-creature is not a fish, as for instance the sea monsters, whales, sharks, dolphins, seals, even sea-horses, sea-dogs, saw-fish, sword-fish, and sea-cows; and, if you like, sea nettles, cockles and all hard-shelled creatures of whom none are fish, and all pass through the paths of the sea; so that there are three kinds, birds of the air, fishes of the sea, and all water-creatures which are distinct from fish, and pass through the paths of the sea.

XVI.  Naaman was not a great man with the Lord, but with his lord; that is, he was one of the chief princes of the King of the Syrians.26502650    2 Kings v. 1.  Read your Bible carefully, and you will find the answer to your question there.


« Prev To Amphilochius, concerning the Canons. Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |