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ANF07. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily
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Sec. IV.—Certain Prayers and Laws.

Concerning the Blessing of Water and Oil—The Constitution of Matthias.

XXIX.37063706     This chapter is not found in the Coptic and Syriac. One V. ms. has the following note: “Matthew (probably a mistake for Matthias) taught the doctrines of Christ in Judea, and was one of the seventy disciples. After the ascension of Christ he was numbered with the twelve apostles, instead of Judas, who was the betrayer. He lies in Jerusalem.”   Concerning the water and the oil, I Matthias make a constitution. Let the bishop bless the water, or the oil. But if he be not there, let the presbyter bless it, the deacon standing by. But if the bishop be present, let the presbyter and deacon stand by, and let him say thus: O Lord of hosts, the God of powers, the creator of the waters, and the supplier of oil, who art compassionate, and a lover of mankind, who hast given water for drink and for cleansing, and oil to give man a cheerful and joyful countenance;37073707     Ps. civ. 15.   do Thou now also sanctify this water and this oil through Thy Christ, in the name of him or her that has offered them, and grant them a power to restore health, to drive away diseases, to banish demons, and to disperse all snares through Christ our hope, with whom glory, honour, and worship be to Thee, and to the Holy Ghost, for ever. Amen.  

The Same Apostle’s Constitution Concerning First-Fruits and Tithes.

XXX. I37083708     The Oxford ms. reads: “I the same, Simon the Canaanite, make a constitution.”   the same make a constitution in regard to first-fruits and tithes. Let all first-fruits be brought to the bishop, and to the presbyters, and to the deacons,37093709     “Deacons” omitted in Oxford ms. and in Coptic.   for their maintenance; but let all the tithe be for the maintenance of the rest of the clergy, and of the virgins and widows, and of those under the trial of poverty. For the first-fruits belong to the priests, and to those deacons that minister to them.  

The Same Apostle’s Constitutions Concerning the Remaining Oblations.

XXXI. I the same make a constitution in regard to remainders. Those eulogies which remain at the mysteries, let the deacons distribute them among the clergy, according to the mind of the bishop or the presbyters: to a bishop; four parts; to a presbyter, three37103710     “Two,” Oxford ms.   parts; to a deacon, two37113711     “One,” Oxford ms.   parts; and to the rest of the sub-deacons, or readers, or singers, or deaconesses, one part. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, that every one be honoured according to his dignity; for the Church is the school, not of confusion, but of good order.  

Various Canons of Paul the Apostle Concerning Those that Offer Themselves to Be Baptized—Whom We are to Receive, and Whom to Reject.

XXXII. I also, Paul,37123712     One V. ms. has the following instead of the title: “Paul, the teacher of the Gentiles, having proclaimed the Gospel of Christ to the Gentiles from Jerusalem even to Illyricum, was cut off in Rome while teaching the truth, by Nero and King Agrippa, being beheaded, and has been buried in Rome itself.”   the least of the apostles, do make the following constitutions for you, the bishops, and presbyters, and deacons, concerning canons. Those that first come to the mystery of godliness, let them be brought to the bishop or to the presbyters by the deacons, and let them be examined as to the causes wherefore they come to the word of the Lord; and let those that bring them exactly inquire about their character, and give them their testimony. Let their manners and their life be inquired into, and whether they be slaves or freemen. And if any one be a slave, let him be asked who is his master. If he be slave to one of the faithful, let his master be asked if he can give him a good character. If he cannot, let him be rejected, until he show himself to be worthy to his master. But if he does give him a good character, let him be admitted. But if he be household slave to an heathen, let him be taught to please his master, that the word be not blasphemed. If, then, he have a wife, or a woman hath an husband, let them be taught to be content with each other; but if they be unmarried, let them learn not to commit fornication, but to enter into lawful marriage. But if his master be one of the faithful, and knows that he is guilty of fornication, and yet does not give him a wife, or to the woman an husband, let him be separated; but if anyone hath a demon, let him indeed be taught piety, but not received into communion before he be cleansed; yet if death be near, let him be received. If any one be a maintainer of harlots, let him either leave off to prostitute women, or else let him be rejected. If a harlot come, let her leave off whoredom, or else let her be rejected. If a maker of idols come, let him either leave off his employment, or let him be rejected. If one belonging to the theatre37133713     [Note this uniform testimony of antiquity against theatricals in all forms ]   come, whether it be man or woman, or charioteer, or dueller, or racer, or player of prizes, or Olympic gamester, or one that plays on the pipe, on the lute, or on the harp at those games, or a dancing-master or an huckster,37143714     [Purveyors to the play-house.]   either let them leave off their employments, or let them be rejected. If a soldier come, let him be taught to “do no injustice, to accuse no man falsely, and to be content with his allotted wages:”37153715     Luke iii. 14.   if he submit to those rules, let him be received; but if he refuse them, let him be rejected. He that is guilty of sins not to be named, a sodomite, an effeminate person, a magician, an enchanter, an astrologer, a diviner, an user of magic verses, a juggler, a mountebank, one that makes amulets, a charmer, a soothsayer, a fortune-teller, an observer of palmistry; he that, when he meets you, observes defects in the eyes or feet of the birds or cats, or noises, or symbolical sounds: let these be proved for some time, for this sort of wickedness is hard to be washed away; and if they leave off those practices, let them be received; but if they will not agree to that, let them be rejected. Let a concubine, who is slave to an unbeliever, and confines herself to her master alone, be received;37163716     [Compare vol. v. p. 130, note 1.]   but if she be incontinent with others, let her be rejected. If one of the faithful hath a concubine, if she be a bond-servant, let him leave off that way, and marry in a legal manner: if she be a free woman, let him marry her in a lawful manner; if he does not, let him be rejected. Let him that follows the Gentile customs, or Jewish fables, either reform, or let him be rejected. If any one follows the sports of the theatre, their huntings, or horse-races, or combats, either let him leave them off, or let him be rejected. Let him who is to be a catechumen be a catechumen for three years; but if any one be diligent, and has a good-will to his business, let him be admitted: for it is not the length of time, but the course of life, that is judged. Let him that teaches, although he be one of the laity, yet, if he be skilful in the word and grave in his manners, teach; for “they shall be all taught of God.”37173717     John vi. 45.   Let all the faithful, whether men or women, when they rise from sleep, before they go to work, when they have washed themselves, pray; but if any catechetic instruction be held, let the faithful person prefer the word of piety before his work. Let the faithful person, whether man or woman, treat servants kindly, as we have ordained in the foregoing books, and have taught in our epistles.37183718     Eph. vi.; Col. iv.; Philem.    

Upon Which Days Servants are Not to Work.

XXXIII. I Peter and Paul do make the following constitutions. Let the slaves work five days; but on the Sabbath-day and the Lord’s day let them have leisure to go to church for instruction in piety. We have said that the Sabbath is on account of the creation, and the Lord’s day of the resurrection. Let slaves rest from their work all the great week, and that which follows it—for the one in memory of the passion, and the other of the resurrection; and there is need they should be instructed who it is that suffered and rose again, and who it is permitted Him to suffer, and raised Him again. Let them have rest from their work on the Ascension, because it was the conclusion of the dispensation by Christ. Let them rest at Pentecost, because of the coming of the Holy Spirit, which was given to those that believed in Christ. Let them rest on the festival of His birth, because on it the unexpected favour was granted to men, that Jesus Christ, the Logos of God, should be born of the Virgin Mary,37193719     The Coptic adds, “the holy mother of God.”   for the salvation of the world.37203720     [Compare vol. iii. pp. 164, 352.]   Let them rest on the festival of Epiphany, because on it a manifestation took place of the divinity of Christ, for the Father bore testimony to Him at the baptism; and the Paraclete, in the form of a dove, pointed out to the bystanders Him to whom testimony was borne. Let them rest on the days of the apostles: for they were appointed your teachers to bring you to Christ, and made you worthy of the Spirit. Let them rest on the day of the first37213721     One V. ms., Coptic, and Syriac omit “first.”   martyr Stephen, and of the other holy martyrs who preferred Christ to their own life.  

At What Hours, and Why, We are to Pray.

XXXIV. Offer up your prayers in the morning, at the third hour, the sixth, the ninth, the evening, and at cock-crowing: in the morning, returning thanks that the Lord has sent you light, that He has brought you past the night, and brought on the day; at the third hour, because at that hour the Lord received the sentence of condemnation from Pilate; at the sixth, because at that hour He was crucified;37223722     The Syriac and Coptic add: “and His side being wounded, blood and water came forth.”   at the ninth, because all things were in commotion at the crucifixion of the Lord, as trembling at the bold attempt of the impious Jews, and not bearing the injury offered to their Lord; in the evening, giving thanks that He has given you the night to rest from the daily labours; at cock-crowing, because that hour brings the good news of the coming on of the day for the operations proper for the light. But if it be not possible to go to the church on account of the unbelievers, thou, O bishop, shalt assemble them in a house, that a godly man may not enter into an assembly of the ungodly. For it is not the place that sanctifies the man, but the man the place. And if the ungodly possess the place, do thou avoid it, because it is profaned by them. For as holy priests sanctify a place, so do the profane ones defile it. If it be not possible to assemble either in the church or in a house, let every one by himself sing, and read, and pray, or two or three together. For “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”37233723     Matt. xviii. 20. [A token that much of these constitutions is truly primitive.]   Let not one of the faithful pray with a catechumen, no, not in the house: for it is not reasonable that he who is admitted should be polluted with one not admitted. Let not one of the godly pray with an heretic, no, not in the house. For “what fellowship hath light with darkness?”37243724     2 Cor. vi. 14. [Compare p. 483, supra: Energumens?]   Let Christians, whether men or women, who have connections with slaves, either leave them off, or let them be rejected.  

The Constitution of James the Brother of Christ Concerning Evening Prayer.

XXXV. I James,37253725     The words from “I, James” to “ordain thus” are omitted in the V. mss., and the following words are given instead in the two V. mss.: “James, the brother of the Lord, has been killed with stones (the other ms. reads, ‘with sticks’) by the Jews in Jerusalem on account of the doctrines of Christ.” Ch. xxxv.-xli. are omitted in the Oxford ms., and in Syriac and Coptic.   the brother of Christ according to the flesh, but His servant as the only begotten God, and one appointed bishop of Jerusalem by the Lord Himself, and the Apostles, do ordain thus: When it is evening, thou, O bishop, shall assemble the church; and after the repetition of the psalm at the lighting up the lights, the deacon shall bid prayers for the catechumens, the energumens, the illuminated, and the penitents, as we have formerly said. But after the dismission of these, the deacon shall say: So many as are of the faithful, let us pray to the Lord. And after the bidding prayer, which is formerly set down, he shall say:—  

The Bidding Prayer for the Evening.

XXXVI. Save us, O God, and raise us up by Thy Christ. Let us stand up, and beg for the mercies of the Lord, and His compassions, for the angel of peace, for what things are good and profitable, for a Christian departure out of this life, an evening and a night of peace, and free from sin; and let us beg that the whole course of our life may be unblameable. Let us dedicate ourselves and one another to the living God through His Christ. And let the bishop add this prayer, and say:—  

The Thanksgiving for the Evening.

XXXVII. O God, who art without beginning and without end, the Maker of the whole world by Christ, and the Provider for it, but before all37263726     “Before all” is omitted in one V. ms.   His God and Father, the Lord37273727     One V. ms. reads “sender forth” instead of “Lord.”   of the Spirit, and the King of intelligible and sensible beings; who hast made the day for the works of light, and the night for the refreshment of our infirmity,—for “the day is Thine, the night also is Thine: Thou hast prepared the light and the sun,”37283728     Ps. lxxiv. 16.  —do Thou now, O Lord, Thou lover of mankind, and Fountain of all good, mercifully accept of this our evening thanksgiving. Thou who hast brought us through the length of the day, and hast brought us to the beginnings of the night, preserve us by Thy Christ, afford us a peaceable evening, and a night free from sin, and vouchsafe us everlasting life by Thy Christ, through whom glory, honour, and worship be to Thee in37293729     One V. ms. reads “with” instead of “in.”   the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen. And let the deacon say: Bow down for the laying on of hands. And let the bishop say: O God of our fathers, and Lord of mercy, who didst form man of Thy wisdom a rational creature, and beloved of God more than the other beings upon this earth, and didst give him authority to rule over the creatures upon the earth, and didst ordain by Thy will rulers and priests—the former for the security of life, the latter for a regular worship,—do Thou now also look down, O Lord Almighty, and cause Thy face to shine upon Thy people, who bow down the neck of their heart, and bless them by Christ; through whom Thou hast enlightened us with the light of knowledge, and hast revealed Thyself to us; with whom worthy adoration is due from every rational and holy nature to Thee, and to the Spirit, who is the Comforter, for ever. Amen. And let the deacon say: “Depart in peace.” In like manner, in the morning, after the repetition of the morning psalm, and his dismission of the catechumens, the energumens, the candidates for baptism, and the penitents, and after the usual bidding of prayers, that we may not again repeat the same things, let the deacon add after the words, Save us, O God, and raise us up by Thy grace: Let us beg of the Lord His mercies and His compassions, that this morning and this day may be with peace and without sin, as also all the time of our sojourning; that He will grant us His angel of peace, a Christian departure out of this life, and that God will be merciful and gracious. Let us dedicate ourselves and one another to the living God through His Only-begotten. And let the bishop add this prayer, and say:—  

The Thanksgiving for the Morning.

XXXVIII. O God, the God of spirits and of all flesh, who art beyond compare, and standest in need of nothing, who hast given the sun to have rule over the day, and the moon and the stars to have rule over the night, do Thou now also look down upon us with gracious eyes, and receive our morning thanksgivings, and have mercy upon us; for we have not “spread out our hands unto a strange God;”37303730     Ps. xliv. 20.   for there is not among us any new God, but Thou, the eternal God, who art without end, who hast given us our being through Christ, and given us our well-being through Him. Do Thou vouchsafe us also, through Him, eternal life; with whom glory, and honour, and worship be to Thee and to the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen. And let the deacon say: Bow down for the laying on of hands. And let the bishop add this prayer, saying:—  

The Imposition of Hands for the Morning.

XXXIX. O God, who art faithful and true, who “hast mercy on thousands and ten thousands of them that love Thee,”37313731     Ex. xxxiv. and xx.   the lover of the humble, and the protector of the needy, of whom all things stand in need, for all things are subject to Thee; look down upon this Thy people, who bow down their heads to Thee, and bless them with spiritual blessing. “Keep them as the apple of an eye,”37323732     Ps. xvii. 8.   preserve them in piety and righteousness, and vouchsafe them eternal life in Christ Jesus Thy beloved Son, with whom glory, honour, and worship be to Thee and to the Holy Spirit, now and always, and for ever and ever. Amen. And let the deacon say: “Depart in peace.” And when the first-fruits are offered, the bishop gives thanks in this manner:—  

The Form of Prayer for the First-Fruits.

XL. We give thanks to Thee, O Lord Almighty, the Creator of the whole world, and its Preserver, through Thy only begotten Son Jesus Christ our Lord, for the first-fruits which are offered to Thee, not in such a manner as we ought, but as we are able. For what man is there that can worthily give Thee thanks for those things Thou hast given them to partake of? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, and of all the saints, who madest all things fruitful by Thy word, and didst command the earth to bring forth various fruits for our rejoicing and our food; who hast given to the duller and more sheepish sort of creatures juices—herbs to them that feed on herbs, and to some flesh, to others seeds, but to us corn, as advantageous and proper food, and many other things—some for our necessities, some for our health, and some for our pleasure. On all these accounts, therefore, art Thou worthy of exalted hymns of praise for Thy beneficence by Christ, through whom37333733     One V. ms. reads, “with whom,” and “with the Holy Spirit.”   glory, honour, and worship be to Thee, in the Holy Spirit, for ever. Amen. Concerning those that are at rest in Christ: After the bidding prayer, that we may not repeat it again, the deacon shall add as follows:—  

The Bidding Prayer for Those Departed.

XLI. Let us pray for our brethren that are at rest37343734     [They are “at rest.” Yet this prayer, and wherefore? See St. Augustine, Confessions (ed. Migne), p. 765, Nebridius.]   in Christ, that God, the lover of mankind, who has received his soul, may forgive him every sin, voluntary and involuntary, and may be merciful and gracious to him, and give him his lot in the land of the pious that are sent into the bosom of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, with all those that have pleased Him and done His will from the beginning of the world, whence all sorrow, grief, and lamentation are banished. Let us arise, let us dedicate ourselves and one another to the eternal God, through that Word which was in the beginning. And let the bishop say: O Thou who art by nature immortal, and hast no end of Thy being, from whom every creature, whether immortal or mortal, is derived; who didst make man a rational creature, the citizen of this world, in his constitution mortal, and didst add the promise of a resurrection; who didst not suffer Enoch and Elijah to taste of death: “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, who art the God of them, not as of dead, but as of living persons: for the souls of all men live with Thee, and the spirits of the righteous are in Thy hand, which no torment can touch;”37353735     Matt. xxii. 32; Wisd. iii. 1.   for they are all sanctified under Thy hand: do Thou now also look upon this Thy servant, whom Thou hast selected and received into another state, and forgive him if voluntarily or involuntarily he has sinned, and afford him merciful angels, and place him in the bosom of the patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles, and of all those that have pleased Thee from the beginning of the world, where there is no grief, sorrow, nor lamentation; but the peaceable region of the godly, and the undisturbed land of the upright, and of those that therein see, the glory of Thy Christ; by whom37363736     “With whom,” one V. ms.   glory, honour, and worship, thanksgiving, and adoration be to Thee, in the Holy Spirit, for ever. Amen. And let the deacon say: Bow down, and receive the blessing. And let the bishop give thanks for them, saying as follows: “O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance,”37373737     Ps. xxviii. 9.   which Thou hast purchased with the precious blood of Thy Christ. Feed them under Thy right hand, and cover them under Thy wings, and grant that they may “fight the good fight, and finish their course, and keep the faith”37383738     2 Tim. iv. 7.   immutably, unblameably, and unreprovably, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, with whom glory, honour, and worship be to Thee and to the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.  

How and When We Ought to Celebrate the Memorials of the Faithful Departed, and that We Ought Then to Give Somewhat Out of Their Goods to the Poor.

XLII. Let the third day of the departed be celebrated with psalms, and lessons, and prayers, on account of Him who arose within the space of three days; and let the ninth day be celebrated in remembrance of the living, and of the departed; and the fortieth37393739     The Syriac and a Greek marginal reading give “the thirtieth.”   day according to the ancient pattern: for so did the people lament Moses, and the anniversary day in memory of him.37403740     Deut. xxxiv. 8. [Comp. Aug., Confess. (ed. Migne), p. 778.]   And let alms be given to the poor out of his goods for a memorial of him.37413741     [The “month’s mind” was anciently of this sort, with no reference to purgatorial penalties. “Credo jam feceris quod rogo.”—Aug.]    

That Memorials or Mandates Do Not at All Profit the Ungodly Who are Dead.

XLIII. These things we say concerning the pious; for as to the ungodly, if thou givest all the world to the poor, thou wilt not benefit him at all. For to whom the Deity was an enemy while he was alive, it is certain it will be so also when he is departed; for there is no unrighteousness with Him. For “the Lord37423742     The Syriac and the Oxford ms. read “God” instead of “Lord.”   is righteous, and has loved righteousness.”37433743     Ps. xi. 7.   And, “Behold the man and his work.”37443744     Isa. lxii. 11.    

Concerning Drunkards.

XLIV. Now, when you are invited to their memorials, do you feast with good order, and the fear of God, as disposed to intercede for those that are departed. For since you are the presbyters and deacons of Christ, you ought always to be sober, both among yourselves and among others, that so you may be able to warn the unruly. Now the Scripture says, “The men in power are passionate. But let them not drink wine, lest by drinking they forget wisdom, and are not able to judge aright.”37453745     Prov. xxxi. 4, LXX.   Wherefore37463746     The Syriac, the Coptic, and the Oxford ms. add, “the bishops.” The Coptic omits “the deacons.”   both the presbyters and the deacons are those of authority in the Church next to God Almighty and His beloved Son.37473747     The Coptic adds, “Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.”   We say this, not they are not to drink at all, otherwise it would be to the reproach of what God has made for cheerfulness, but that they be not disordered with wine. For the Scripture does not say, Do not drink wine; but what says it? “Drink not wine to drunkenness;” and again, “Thorns spring up in the hand of the drunkard.”37483748     Prov. xxiii.; Ecclus. xxxi. 25–31; Eph. v. 18; Prov. xxvi. 9.   Nor do we say this only to those of the clergy, but also to every lay Christian, upon whom the name of our Lord Jesus Christ is called. For to them also it is said, “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath uneasiness? who hath babbling? who hath red eyes? who hath wounds without cause? Do not these things belong to those that tarry long at the wine, and that go to seek where drinking meetings are?”37493749     Prov. xxiii. 29, 30.    

Concerning the Receiving Such as are Persecuted for Christ’s Sake.

XLV. Receive ye those that are persecuted37503750     [A token of the early origin of what is genuine in these interpolated Constitutions.]   on account of the faith, and who fly from city to city,37513751     Matt. x. 23.   as mindful of the words of the Lord. For, knowing that though “the spirit be willing, the flesh is weak,”37523752     Matt. xxvi. 41.   they fly away, and prefer the spoiling of their goods, that they may preserve the name of Christ in themselves without denying it. Supply them therefore with what they want, and thereby fulfil the commandment of the Lord.  


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