Brief introduction to Basil
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CLXXXVIII (first canonical letter)
CXCIX (second canonical letter)
CCXVII (third canonical letter)
"EVEN a fool," it is said, "when he asks questions," is counted wise. But when a wise man asks questions, he makes even a feel 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, 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 Pepuzeni seems to me to have no authority; and I am astonished how this can have escaped Dionysius, 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. By heresies they meant men who were altogether broken off and alienated in matters relating to the actual faith; by schisms 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 unin- structed 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 Manichae- ans, 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, 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 orders 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 own Firmilianus, to reject all these, Cathari, Encratites, and Hydroparastatae, 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. My 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 anointed 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. 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 promulgate d 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.
Herein, as I suppose, the ancient authorities followed the old rule "Thou shalt not avenge twice for the same thing." 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 flesh and the enslaving of it 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." 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 place 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.
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. 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; 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.
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, when 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, 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" and of Jeremiah, If a wife "become another man's shall be return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted?" And again, "He that hath an adulteress is a feel and impious." 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. 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 shall save thy husband?" 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. 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 tinder 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. 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 perjure 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. 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.
XIII. Homicide in war is not reckoned by our Fathers as homicide; I presume froth 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.
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.
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; for both kinds were produced from the water. 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. Read your Bible carefully, and you will find the answer to your question there.
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I WROTE some time ago in reply to the questions of your reverence, but I did not send the letter, partly because from my long and dangerous illness I had not time to do so; partly because I had no one to send with it. I have but few men with me who are experienced in travelling and fit for service of this kind. When you thus learn the causes of my delay, forgive me. I have been quite astonished at your readiness to learn and at your humility. You are entrusted with the office of a teacher, and yet you condescend to learn, and to learn of me, who pretend to no great knowledge. Nevertheless, since you consent, on account of your fear of God, to do what another man might hesitate to do, I am bound for my part to go even beyond my strength in aiding your readiness and righteous zeal.
XVII. You asked me about the presbyter Bianor can he be admitted among the clergy, because of his oath? I know that I have already given the clergy of Antioch a general sentence in the case of all those who had sworn with him; namely, that they should abstain from the public congregations, but might perform priestly functions in private. Moreover, he has the further liberty for the performance of his ministerial functions, from the fact that his sacred duties lie not at Antioch, but at Iconium; for, as you have written to me yourself, he has chosen to live rather at the latter than at the former place. The man in question may, therefore, be received; but your reverence must require him to shew repentance for the rash readiness of the oath which he took before the unbeliever, being unable to bear the trouble of that small peril.
XVIII. Concerning fallen virgins, who, after professing a chaste life before the Lord, make their vows vain, because they have fallen under the lusts of the flesh, our fathers, tenderly and meekly making allowance for the infirmities of them that fall, laid down that they might be received after a year, ranking them with the digamists. Since, however, by God's grace the Church grows mightier as she advances, and the order of virgins is becoming more numerous, it is my judgment that careful heed should be given both to the act as it appears upon consideration, and to the mind of Scripture, which may be discovered from the context. Widowhood is inferior to virginity; consequently the sin of the widows comes far behind that of the virgins. Let us see what Paul writes to Timothy. "The young widows refuse: for when they have begun tO wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation because they have cast off their first faith." If, therefore, a widow lies under a very heavy charge, as setting at naught her faith in Christ, what must we think of the virgin, who is the bride of Christ, and a chosen vessel dedicated to the Lord? It is a grave fault even on the part of a slave to give herself away in secret wedlock and fill the house with impurity, and, by her wicked life, to wrong her owner; but it is forsooth far more shocking for the bride to become an adulteress, and, dishonouring her union with the bridegroom, to yield herself to unchaste indulgence. The widow, as being a corrupted slave, is indeed condemned; but the virgin comes under the charge of adultery. We call the man who lives with another man's wife an adulterer, and do not receive him into communion until he has ceased from his sin; and so we shall ordain in the case of him who has the virgin. One point, however, must be determined beforehand, that the name virgin is given to a woman who voluntarily devotes herself to the Lord, renounces marriage, and embraces a life of holiness. And we admit professions dating from the age of full intelligence. For it is not right in such cases to admit the words of mere children. But a girl of sixteen or seventeen years of age, in full possession of her faculties, who has been submitted to strict examination, and is then constant, and persists in her entreaty to be admitted, may then be ranked among the virgins, her profession ratified, and its violation rigorously punished. Many girls are brought forward by their parents and brothers, and other kinsfolk, before they are of full age, and have no inner impulse towards a celibate life. The object of the friends is simply to provide for themselves. Such women as these must not be readily received, before we have made public investigation of their own sentiments.
XIX. I do not recognise the profession of men, except in the case of those who have enrolled themselves in the order of monks, and seem to have secretly adopted the celibate life. Yet in their case I think it becoming that there should be a previous examination, and that a distinct profession should be received from them, so that whenever they may revert to the life of the pleasures of the flesh, they may be subjected to the punishment of fornicators.
XX. I do not think that any condemnation ought to be passed on women who professed virginity while in heresy, and then afterwards preferred marriage. "What things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law." Those who have not yet put on Christ's yoke do not recognise the laws of the Lord. They are therefore to be received in the church, as having remission in the case of these sins too, as of all, from their faith in Christ. As a general rule, all sins formerly committed in the catechumenical state are not taken into account. The Church does not receive these persons without baptism; and it is very necessary that in such cases the birthrights should be observed.
XXI. If a man living with a wife is not satisfied with his marriage and falls into fornication, I account him a fornicator, and prolong his period of punishment. Nevertheless, we have no canon subjecting him to the charge of adultery, if the sin be committed against an unmarried woman. For the adulteress, it is said, "being polluted shall be polluted," and she shall not return to her husband: and "He that keepeth an adulteress is a fool and impious." He, however, who has committed fornication is not to be cut off from the society of his own wife. So the wife will receive the husband on his return from fornication, but the husband will expel the polluted woman from his house. The argument here is not easy, but the custom has so obtained. XXII. Men who keep women carried off by violence, if they carried them off when betrothed to other men, must not be received before removal of the women and their restoration to those to whom they were first contracted, whether they wish to receive them, or to separate from them. In the case of a girl who has been taken when not betrothed, she ought first to be removed, and restored to her own people, and handed over to the will of, her own people whether parents, or brothers, or any one having authority over her. If they choose to give her up, the cohabitation may stand; but, if they refuse, no violence should be used. In the case of a man having a wife by seduction, be it secret or by violence, he must be held guilty of fornication. The punish-meat of fornicators is fixed at four years. In the first year they must be expelled from prayer, and weep at the door of the church; in the second they may be received to set-mon; in the third to penance; in the fourth to standing with the people, while they are withheld from the oblation. Finally, they may be admitted to the communion of the good gift.
XXIII. Concerning men who marry two sisters, or women who marry two brothers a short letter of mine has been published, of which I have sent a copy to your reverence. The man who has taken his own brother's wife is not to be received until he have separated from her.
XXIV. A widow whose name is in the list of widows, that is, who is supported by the Church, is ordered by the Apostle to be supported no longer when she marries.
There is no special rule for a widower. The punishment appointed for digamy may suffice. If a widow who is sixty years of age chooses again to live with a husband, she shall be held unworthy of the communion of the good gift until she be moved no longer by her impure desire. If we reckon her before sixty years, the blame rests with us, and not with the woman.
XXV. The man who retains as his wife the woman whom he has violated, shall be liable to the penalty of rape, but it shall be lawful for him to have her to wife.
XXVI. Fornication is not wedlock, nor yet the beginning of wedlock. Wherefore it is best, if possible, to put asunder those who are united in fornication. If they are set on cohabitation, let them admit the penalty of fornication. Let them be allowed to live together, lest a worse thing happen.
XXVII. As to the priest ignorantly involved in an illegal marriage, I have made the fitting regulation, that he may hold his seat, but must abstain from other functions. For such a case pardon is enough. It is unreasonable that the man who has to treat his own wounds should be blessing another, for benediction is the imparting of holiness. How can he who through his fault, committed in ignorance, is without holiness, impart. it to another? Let him bless neither in public nor in private, nor distribute the body of Christ to others, nor perform any other sacred function, but, content with his seat of honour, let him beseech the Lord with weeping, that his sin, committed in ignorance, may be forgiven.
XXVIII. It has seemed to me ridiculous that any one should make a vow to abstain from swine's flesh. Be so good as to teach men to abstain from foolish vows and promises. Represent the use to be quite indifferent. No creature of God, received with thanksgiving, is to be rejected. The vow is ridiculous; the abstinence unnecessary.
XXIX. It is especially desirable that attention should be given to the case of persons in power who threaten on oath to do some hurt to those under their authority. The remedy is twofold. In the first place, let them be taught not to take oaths at random: secondly, not to persist in their wicked determinations. Any one who is arrested in the design of fulfilling an oath to injure another ought to shew repentance for the rashness of his oath, and must not confirm his wickedness under the pretext of piety. Herod was none the better for fulfilling his oath, when, of course only to save himself from perjury, he became the prophet's murderer. Swearing is absolutely forbidden, and it is only reasonable that the oath which tends to evil should be condemned. The swearer must therefore change his mind, and not persist in confirming his impiety. Consider the absurdity of the thing a little further. Suppose a man to swear that he will put his brother's eyes out: is it well for him to carry his oath into action? Or to commit murder? or to break any other commandment? "I have sworn, and I will perform it," not to sin, but to "keep thy righteous judgments." It is no less our duty to undo and destroy sin, than it is to confirm the commandment by immutable counsels.
XXX. As to those guilty of abduction we have no ancient rule, but I have expressed my own judgment. The period is three years; the culprits and their accomplices to be excluded from service. The act committed without violence is not liable to punishment, whenever it has not been preceded by violation or robbery. The widow is independent, and to follow or not is in her own power. We must, therefore, pay no heed to excuses.
XXXI. A woman whose husband has gone away and disappeared, and who marries another, before she has evidence of his death, commits adultery. Clerics who are guilty of the sin unto death are degraded from their order, but not excluded from the communion of the laity. Thou shall not punish twice for the same fault.
XXXIII. Let an indictment for murder be preferred against the woman who gives birth to a child on the road and pays no attention to it.
XXXIV. Women who had committee adultery, and confessed their fault through piety, or were in any way convicted, were not allowed by our fathers to be publicly exposed, that we might not cause their death after conviction. But they ordered that they should be excluded from communion till they had fulfilled their term of penance.
XXXV. In the case of a man deserted by his wife, the cause of the desertion must be taken into account. If she appear to have abandoned him without reason, he is deserving of pardon, but the wife of punishment. Pardon will be given to him that he may communicate with the Church.
XXXVI. Soldiers' wives who have married in their husbands' absence will come under the same principle as wives who, when their husbands have been on a journey, have not waited their return. Their case, however, does admit of some concession on the ground of there being greater reason to suspect death.
XXXVII. The man who marries after abducting another man's wife will incur the charge of adultery for the first case; but for the second will go free.
XXXVIII. Girls who follow against their fathers' will commit fornication; but if their fathers are reconciled to them, the act seems to admit of a remedy. They are not however immediately restored to communion, but are to be punished for three years.
XXXIX. The woman who lives with an adulterer is an adulteress the whole time.
XL. The woman who yields to a man against her master's will commits fornication; but if afterwards she accepts free marriage, she marries. The former case is fornication; the latter marriage. The covenants of persons who are not independent have no validity.
XLI. The woman in widowhood, who is independent, may dwell with a husband without blame, if there is no one to prevent their cohabitation; for the Apostle says; "but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord."
XLII. Marriages contracted without the permission of those in authority, are fornication. If neither father nor master be living the contracting parties are free from blame; just as if the authorities assent to the cohabitation, it assumes the fixity of marriage.
XLIII. He who smites his neighbour to death is a murderer, whether he struck first or in self defence.
XLIV. The deaconess who commits fornication with a heathen may be received into repentance and will be admitted to the oblation in the seventh year; of course if she be living in chastity. The heathen who, after he has believed, takes to idolatry, returns to his vomit. We do not, however, give up the body of the deaconess to the use of the flesh, as being consecrated.
XLV. If any one, after taking the name of Christianity, insults Christ, he gets no good froth the name.
XLVI. The woman who unwillingly marries a man deserted at the time by his wife, and is afterwards repudiated, because of the return of the former to him, commits fornication, but involuntarily. She will, therefore, not be prohibited from marriage; but it is better if she remain as she is.
XLVII. Encratitae, Saccophori, and Apotactitae are not regarded in the same manner as Novatians, since in their case a canon has been pronounced, although different; while of the former nothing has been said. All these I re-baptize on the same principle. If among you their re-baptism is forbidden, for the sake of some arrangement, nevertheless let my principle prevail. Their heresy is, as it were, an offshoot of the Marcionites, abominating, as they do, marriage, refusing wine, and calling God's creature polluted. We do not therefore receive them into the Church, unless they be baptized into our baptism. Let them not say that they have been baptized into Father, Son and Holy Ghost, inasmuch as they make God the author of evil, after the example of Marcion and the rest of the heresies. Wherefore, if this be determined on, more bishops ought to meet together in one place and publish the canon in these terms, that action may be taken without peril, and authority given to answers to questions of this kind.
XLVIII. The woman who has been abandoned by her husband, ought, in my judgment, to remain as she is. The Lord said, "If any one leave his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, he causeth her to commit adultery;" thus, by calling her adulteress, He excludes her from intercourse with another man. For how can the man being guilty, as having caused adultery, and the woman, go without blame, when she is called adulteress by the Lord for having intercourse with another man?
XLIX. Suffering violation should not be a cause of condemnation. So the slave girl, if she has been forced by her own master, is free from blame.
L. There is no law as to trigamy: a third marriage is not contracted by law. We look upon such things as the defilements of the Church. But we do not subject them to public condemnation, as being better than unrestrained fornication.
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ON my return from a long journey (for I have been into Pontus on ecclesiastical business, and to visit my relations) with my body weak and ill, and my spirits considerably broken, I took your reverence's letter into my hand. No sooner did I receive the tokens of that voice which to me is of all voices the sweetest, and of that hand that I love so well, than I forgot all my troubles. And if I was made so much more cheerful by the receipt of your letter, you ought to be able to conjecture at what value I price your actual presence. May this be granted me by the Holy One, whenever it may be convenient to you and you yourself send me an invitation. And if you were to come to the house at Euphemias it would indeed be pleasant for me to meet you, escaping from my vexations here, and hastening to your unfeigned affection. Possibly also for other reasons I may be compelled to go as far as Nazianzus by the sudden departure of the very God-beloved bishop Gregory. How or why this has come to pass, so far I have no information. The man about whom I had spoken to your excellency, and whom you expected to be ready by this time, has, you must know, fallen ill of a lingering disease, and is moreover now suffering from an affection of the eyes, arising from his old complaint and from the illness which has now befallen him, and he is quite unfit to do any work. I have no one else with me. It is consequently better, although the matter was left by them to me, for some one to be put forward by them. And indeed one cannot but think that the expressions were used merely as a necessary form, and that what they really wished was what they originally requested, that the person selected for the leadership should be one of themselves. If there is any one of the lately baptized, whether Macedonius approve or not, let him be appointed. You will instruct him in his duties, the Lord, Who in all things cooperates with you, granting you His grace for this work also.
LI. As to the clergy, the Canons have enjoined without making any distinction that one penalty is assigned for the lapsed, ejection from the ministry, whether they be in orders or remain ill the ministry which is conferred without imposition of hands.
LII. The woman who has given birth to a child and abandoned it in the road, if she was able to save it and neglected it, or thought by this means to hide her sin, or was moved by some brutal and inhuman motive, is to be judged as in a case of murder. If, on the other hand, she was unable to provide for it. and the child perish from exposure and want of the necessities of life, the mother is to be pardoned.
LIII. The widowed slave is not guilty of a serious fall if she adopts a second marriage under colour of rape. She is not on tiffs ground open to accusation. It is rather the object than the pretext which mast be taken into account, but it is clear that she is exposed to the punishment of digamy.
LIV. I know that I have already written to your reverence, so far as I can, on the distinctions to be observed in cases of involuntary homicide, and on this point I can say no more. It rests with your intelligence to increase or lessen the severity of the punishment as each individual case may require.
LV. Assailants of robbers, if they are outside, are prohibited from the communion of the good thing. If they are clerics they are degraded from their orders. For, it is said. "All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."
LVI. The intentional homicide, who has afterwards repented, will be excommunicated from the sacrament for twenty years. The twenty years will be appointed for him as follows: for four he ought to weep, standing outside the door of the house of prayer, beseeching the faithful as they enter in to offer prayer in his behalf, and confessing his own sin. After four years he will be admitted among the hearers, and during five years will go out with them. During seven years he will go out with the kneelers, praying. During four years he will only stand with the faithful, and will not take part in the oblation. On the completion of this period he will be admitted to participation of the sacrament.
LVII. The unintentional homicide will be excluded for ten years from the sacrament. The ten years will be arranged as follows: For two years he will weep, for three years he will continue among the hearers; for four he will be a kneeler; and for one he will only stand. Then he will be admitted to the holy rites.
LVIII. The adulterer will be excluded from the sacrament for fifteen years. During four he will be a weeper, and during five a hearer, during four a kneeler, and for two a slander without communion.
LIX. The fornicator will not be admitted to participation in the sacrament for seven years; weeping two hearing two kneeling two, and standing one: in the eighth he will be received into communion.
LX. The woman who has professed virginity and broken her promise will complete the time appointed in the case of adultery in her continence. The same rule will be observed in the case of men who have professed a solitary life and who lapse.
LXI. The thief, if he have repented of his own accord and charged himself, shall only be prohibited from partaking of the sacrament for a year; if he be convicted, for two years. The period shall be divided between kneeling and standing. Then let him be held worthy of communion.
LXII. He who is guilty of unseemliness with males will be under discipline for the same time as adulterers.
LXIII. He who confesses his iniquity in the case of brutes shall observe the same time in penance.
LXIV. Perjurers shall be excommunicated for ten years; weeping for two, hearing for three, kneeling for four, and standing only during one year; then they shall be held worthy of communion.
LXV. He who confesses-magic or sorcery shall do penance for the time of murder, and shall be treated in the same manner as he who convicts himself of this sin.
LXVI. The tomb breaker shall be ex-communicated for ten years, weeping for two, hearing for three, kneeling for four, standing for one, then he shall be admitted.
LXVII. Incest with a sister shall incur penance for the same time as murder.
LXVIII.The union of kindred within the prohibited degrees of marriage, if detected as having taken place in acts of sin, shall receive the punishment of adultery.
LXIX. The Reader who has intercourse with his betrothed before marriage, shall be allowed to read after a year's suspension, remaining without advancement. If he has had secret intercourse without betrothal, he shall be deposed from his ministry. So too the minister.
LXX. The deacon who has been polluted in lips, and has confessed his commission of this sin, shall be removed from his ministry. But he shall be permitted to partake of the sacrament together with the deacons. The same holds good in the case of a priest. If any one be detected in a more serious sin, whatever be his degree, he shall be deposed.
LXXI. Whoever is aware of the commission of any one of the aforementioned sins, and is convicted without having confessed, shall be under punishment for the same space of time as the actual perpetrator.
LXXII. He who has entrusted himself to soothsayers, or any such persons, shall be under discipline for the same time as the homicide.
LXXIII. He who has denied Christ, and sinned against the mystery of salvation, ought to weep all his life long, and is bound to remain in penitence, being deemed worthy of the sacrament in the hour of death, through faith in the mercy of God.
LXXIV. If, however, each man who has committed the former sins is made good, through penitence. he to whom is com- mitted by the loving-kindness of God the power of loosing and binding will not be deserving of condemnation, if he become less severe, as he beholds the exceeding greatness of the penitence of the sinner, so as to lessen the period of punishment, for the history in the Scriptures informs us that all who exercise penitence with greater zeal quickly receive the loving-kindness of God.
LXXV. The man who has been polluted with Iris own sister, either on the father's or the mother's side, must not be allowed to enter the house of prayer, until he has given up his iniquitous and unlawful conduct. And, after he has come to a sense of that fearful sin, let him weep for three years standing at the door of the house of prayer, and entreating the people as they go in to prayer that each and all will mercifully offer on his behalf their prayers with earnestness to the Lord. After this let him be received for another period of three years to hearing alone, and while hearing the Scriptures and the instruction, let him be expelled and not be admitted to prayer. Afterwards, if he has asked it with tears and has fallen before the Lord with contrition of heart and great humiliation, let kneeling be accorded to him during other three years. Thus, when he shall have worthily shown the fruits of repentance, let him be received in the tenth year to the prayer of the faithful without oblation; and after standing with the faithful in prayer for two years, then, and not till then, let him be held worthy of the communion of the good thing.
LXXVI. The same rule applies to those who take their own daughters in law.
LXXVII. He who abandons the wife, lawfully trailed to him, is subject by the sentence of the Lord to the penalty of adultery. But it has been laid down as a canon by our Fathers that such sinners should weep for a year, be hearers for two years, in kneeling for three years, stand with the faithful in the seventh; and thus be deemed worthy of the oblation, if they have repented with tears.
LXXVIII. Let the same rule hold good in the case of those who marry two sisters, although at different times.
LXXIX. Men who rage after their stepmothers are subject to the same canon as those who rage after their sisters.
LXXX. On polygamy the Fathers are silent, as being brutish and altogether inhuman. The sin seems to me worse than fornication. It is therefore reasonable that such sinners should be subject to the canons; namely a year's weeping, three years kneeling and then reception.
LXXXI. During the invasion of the barbarians many men have sworn heathen oaths, tasted things unlawfully offered them in magic temples and so have broken their faith in God. Let regulations be made in the case of these men in accordance with the canons laid down by our Fathers. Those who have endured grievous tortures and have been forced to denial, through inability to sustain the anguish, may be excluded for three years, hearers for two, kneelers for three, and so be received into communion. Those who have abandoned their faith in God, laying hands on the tables of the demons and swearing heathen oaths, without under going great violence, should be excluded for three years, hearers for two. When they have prayed for three years as kneelers, and have stood other three with the faithful in supplication, then let them be received into the communion of the good thing.
LXXXII. As to perjurers, if they have broken their oaths under violent compulsion, they are under lighter penalties and may therefore be received after six years. If they break their faith without compulsion, let them be weepers for two years, hearers for three, pray as kneelers for five, during two be received into the communion of prayer, without oblation, and so at last, after giving proof of due repentance, they shall be restored to the communion of the body of Christ.
LXXXIII. Consulters of soothsayers and they who follow heathen customs, or bring persons into their houses to discover remedies and to effect purification, should fall under the canon of six years. After Weeping a year, hearing a year, kneeling for three years and standing with the faithful for a year so let them be received.
LXXXIV. I write all this with a view to testing the fruits of repentance. I do not decide such matters absolutely by time, but I give heed to the manner of penance. If men are in a state in which they find it hard to be weaned from their own ways and choose rather to serve the pleasures of the flesh than to serve the Lord, and refuse to accept the Gospel life, there is no common ground between me and them. In the midst of a disobedient and gainsaying people I have been taught to hear the words " Save thy own soul." Do not then let us consent to perish together with such sinners. Let us fear the awful judgment. Let us keep before our eyes the terrible day of the retribution of the Lord. Let us not consent to perish in other men's sins, for if the terrors of the Lord have not taught us, if so great calamities have not brought us to feel that it is A because of our iniquity that the Lord has abandoned us, and given us into the hands of barbarians, that the people have been led, captive before our foes and given over to dispersion, because the bearers of Christ's name have dared such deeds; if they have not known nor understood that it is for these reasons that the wrath of God has come upon us, what common ground of argument have I with them?
But we ought to testify to them day and night, alike in public and in private. Let us not consent to be drawn away with them in their wickedness. Let us above all pray that we may do them good, and rescue them from the snare of the evil one. If we cannot do this, let us at all events do our best to save our own souls from everlasting damnation.
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