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NPNF2-14. The Seven Ecumenical Councils
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Canon II.

It has also seemed good to this holy Council, that the eighty-five canons, received and ratified by the holy and blessed Fathers before us, and also handed down to us in the name of the holy and glorious Apostles should from this time forth remain firm and unshaken for the cure of souls and the healing of disorders.  And in these canons we are bidden to receive the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles [written] by Clement.  But formerly through the agency of those who erred from the faith certain adulterous matter was introduced, clean contrary to piety, for the polluting of the Church, which obscures the elegance and beauty of the divine decrees in their present form.  We therefore reject these Constitutions so as the better to make sure of the edification and security of the most Christian flock; by no means admitting the offspring of heretical error, and cleaving to the pure and perfect doctrine of the Apostles.  But we set our seal likewise upon all the other holy canons set forth by our holy and blessed Fathers, that is, by the 318 holy God-bearing Fathers assembled at Nice, and those at Ancyra, further those at Neocæsarea and likewise those at Gangra, and besides, those at Antioch in Syria:  those too at Laodicea in Phrygia:  and likewise the 150 who assembled in this heaven-protected royal city:  and the 200 who assembled the first time in the metropolis of the Ephesians, and the 630 holy and blessed Fathers at Chalcedon.  In like manner those of Sardica, and those of Carthage:  those also who again assembled in this heaven-protected royal city under its bishop Nectarius and Theophilus Archbishop of Alexandria.  Likewise too the Canons [i.e. the decretal letters] of Dionysius, formerly Archbishop of the great city of Alexandria; and of Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria and Martyr; of Gregory the Wonder-worker, Bishop of Neocæsarea; of Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria; of Basil, Archbishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia; of Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa; of Gregory Theologus; of Amphilochius of Iconium; of Timothy, Archbishop of Alexandria; of Theophilus, Archbishop of the same great city of Alexandria; of Cyril, Archbishop of the same Alexandria; of Gennadius, Patriarch of this heaven-protected royal city.  Moreover the Canon set forth by Cyprian, Archbishop of the country of the Africans and Martyr, and by the Synod under him, which has been kept only in the country of the aforesaid Bishops, according to the custom delivered down to them.  And that no one be allowed to transgress or disregard the aforesaid canons, or to receive others beside them, supposititiously set forth by certain who have attempted to make a traffic of the truth.  But should any one be convicted of innovating upon, or attempting to overturn, any of the afore-mentioned canons, he shall be subject to receive the penalty which that canon imposes, and to be cured by it of his transgression.

Notes.

Ancient Epitome of Canon II.

Whatever additions have been made through guile by the heterodox in the Apostolic Constitutions edited by Clement, shall be cut out.

This canon defines what canons are to be understood as having received the sanction of ecumenical authority, and since these canons of the Council in Trullo were received at the Seventh Ecumenical Council in its first canon as the canons of the Sixth Ecumenical (of which the Quinisext claimed to be a legitimate continuation) there can be no doubt that all these canons enumerated in this canon are set forth for the guidance of the Church.

With regard to what councils are intended:  there is difficulty only in two particulars, viz., the “Council of Constantinople under Nectarius and Theophilus,”344344    The Ultramontane Roisselet de Sauclières, in his Histoire chronologique et dogmatique des Conciles de la Chrétieté, Tome III., p. 131, curiously divides this into two councils.  This blunder is also made by Ivo, cf. Gratian’s Dec., P. I., Dist. xvi., c. vii., note by correctors. and the “Council under Cyprian;” the former must be the Council of 394, and the latter is usually considered to be the III. Synod of Carthage, a.d. 257.

Fleury.

(H. E. Liv. xl., chap. xlix.)

The Council of Constantinople under Nectarius and Theophilus of Alexandria must be that held in 394, at the dedication of Ruffinus’s Church; but we have not its canons.…“The canon published by St. Cyprian for the African Church alone.”  It is difficult to understand what canon is referred to unless it is the preface to the council of St. Cyprian where he says that no one should pretend to be bishop of bishops, or to oblige his colleagues to obey him by tyrannical fear.

It will be noticed that while the canon is most careful to mention the exact number of Apostolic canons it received, thus deciding in favour of the larger code, it is equally careful not to assign them an Apostolic origin, but merely to say that they had come down to them “in the name of” the Apostles.  In the face of this it is strange to find Balsamon saying, “Through this canon their mouth is stopped who say that 85 canons were not set forth by the holy Apostles;” what the council did settle, so far as its authority went, was the number not the authorship of the canons.  This, I think, is all that Balsamon intended to assert, but his words might easily be quoted as having a different meaning.

This canon is found, in part, in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. XVI, c. VII.


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