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To the Chorepiscopi.
I am much distressed that
the canons of the Fathers have fallen through, and that the exact
discipline of the Church has been banished from among you. I am
apprehensive lest, as this indifference grows, the affairs of the
Church should, little by little, fall into confusion. According
to the ancient custom observed in the Churches of God, ministers in the
Church were received after careful examination; the whole of their life
was investigated; an enquiry was made as to their being neither railers
nor drunkards, not quick to quarrel, keeping their youth in subjection,
so as to be able to maintain “the holiness without which no man
shall see the Lord.”22002200
Heb. xii. 14. This
examination was made by presbyters and deacons living with them.
Then they brought them to the Chorepiscopi; and the Chorepiscopi, after
receiving the suffrages of the witnesses as to the truth and giving
information to the Bishop, so admitted the minister to the sacerdotal
order.22012201 The Ben. note
runs, “Ministros, sive subdiaconos, sacratorum ordini
ascribit Basilius. Synodus Laodicena inferiores clericos
sacratorum numero non comprehendit, sed numerat sacratos a
presbyteris usque ad diaconos, ἀπο
24, distinguit canone 27, ἱερατικοὺς,
ἢ λαικοὺς, sive
sacratos, sive clericos, sive laicos. Et can. 30.
῞Οτι οὑ δεῖ
ἢ λαϊκόν. Non
oportet sacratum vel clericum aut ascetam in balneo cum mulieribus
lavari. sed nec ullum Christianum aut laïcum. Non
sequuntur hujus synodi morem ecclesiastici scriptores.
Basilius, epist. 287, excommunicato omne cum sacratis commercium
intercludit. Et in epist. 198, ἱερατεῖον
intelligit cœtum clericorum, eique ascribit clericos qui
epistolas episcopi perferebant. Athanasius ad Rufinianum
scribens, rogat eum ut epistolam legat ἱερατεί& 251·
et populo. Gregorius Nazianzenus lectores sacri
partem esse agnoscit in epist. 45. Notandus etiam canon
8 apostolicus, ει
ἢ etc. πρεσβύτερος
ἢ διάκονος ἢ
etc. Si quis episcopus vel presbyter vel diaconus, vel
ex sacro ordine. Hæc visa sunt observanda, quia
pluribus Basilii locis, quæ deinceps occurrent, non parum
afferent lucis.” The letter of the Council in
Illyricum uses ἱερατικὸν
τάγμα in precisely the same
way. Theod., Ecc. Hist. iv. 8, where see note
on p. 113. So Sozomen, On the Council of Nicæa,
i. 23. Ordo, the nearest Latin equivalent to
the Greek τάγμα, was
originally used of any estate in the church, e.g. St.
Jerome, On Isaiah v. 19, 18.
On the testing of qualifications for orders, cf. St. Cyprian, Ep. lxviii. Now, however, you have quite passed me over; you have not even had the grace to refer to me, and have transferred the whole authority to yourselves. Furthermore, with complete indifference, you have allowed presbyters and deacons to introduce unworthy persons into the Church, just any one they choose, without any previous examination of life and character, by mere favoritism, on the score of relationship or some other tie. The consequence is, that in every village, there are reckoned many ministers, but not one single man worthy of the service of the altars. Of this you yourselves supply proof from your difficulty in finding suitable candidates for election. As, then, I perceive that the evil is gradually reaching a point at which it would be incurable, and especially at this moment when a large number of persons are presenting themselves for the ministry through fear of the conscription, I am constrained to have recourse to the restitution of the canons of the Fathers. I thus order you in writing to send me the roll of the ministers in every village, stating by whom each has been introduced, and what is his mode of life. You have the roll in your own keeping, so that your version can be compared with the documents which are in mine, and no one can insert his own name when he likes. So if any have been introduced by presbyters after the first appointment,22022202 μετὰ τὴν πρώτην ἐπινέμησιν. ᾽Επινέμησις is in later Greek the recognized equivalent for “indictio” in the sense of a period of fifteen years (Cod. Theod. xi. 28. 3). I have had some hesitation as to whether it could possibly in this passage indicate a date. But ἐπινέμησις does not appear to have been used in its chronological sense before Evagrius, and his expression (iv. 29) τοὺς περιόδους τῶν κύκλων καλουμένων ἐπινεμήσεων looks as though the term were not yet common; ἐπινέμησις here I take to refer to the assignment of presbyters to different places on ordination. I am indebted to Mr. J. W. Parker for valuable information and suggestions on this question. let them be rejected, and take their place among the laity. Their examination must then be begun by you over again, and, if they prove worthy, let them be received by your decision. Drive out unworthy men from the Church, and so purge it. For the future, test by examination those who are worthy, and then receive them; but do not reckon them of the number before you have reported to me. Otherwise, distinctly understand that he who is admitted to the ministry without my authority will remain a layman.
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