Tracts for the Times/Record II
RECORDS OF THE CHURCH.
THE HOLY CHURCH THROUGHOUT ALL THE WORLD DOTH ACKNOWLEDGE THEE.
Epistle of Ignatius, the friend of St. Peter, on his way to Martyrdom, to the Magnesians.
Ignatius, which is also Theophorus, to the Church that is in Magnesia, nigh to Mæander, the blessed of God the Father through Jesus Christ our Saviour: in whom I salute it, and pray that it may have all joy, in God the Father and Jesus Christ.
I. Being aware how righteously ordered is your love and charity in God, the gladness which I feel has induced me to address you in the spirit of Jesus Christ. For, admitted as I am to the noblest of titles in the bonds which I bear about me, I make my song to the Churches, praying that they may possess a union of the Flesh and Spirit of Jesus Christ, (who is our life evermore,) and of Faith, and Charity which surpasseth all things, and, more than these, of Jesus and of the Father, through whom, when we have endured all assaults from the prince of this world, after we have escaped, we shall be with God.
II. Seeing now it is my privilege to behold you, through Damas your most holy Bishop, and your worthy Presbyters, Bassus and Apollonius, and your Deacon my fellow-labourer Sotion, toward whom I am tenderly affectioned, because he is subject to his Bishop as to a gracious gift from God, and to the Presbytery as to an institution of Jesus Christ, I determined to write unto you.
III. Your duty likewise is it, not to bear yourselves toward your Bishop with a freedom proportioned to his youth, but according to the power of God the Father, to concede to him all homage. As I am aware the holy Presbyters do, you take no occasion from his apparent youthfulness for the station, but as men wise in a godly wisdom submit themselves to him; yet not to him, but to the Father of Jesus Christ, the Bishop of us all. Meet therefore it is, that for the honour of Him, who wills it, ye should present an obedience that is without guile; since in any delusion of your visible Bishop, you trifle rather with the Bishop invisible, and so the question is not with flesh, but with God who seeth the secrets.
IV. It is mens' duty not merely to bear the name of Christians, but such to be likewise; whereas some there are, who use the name of Bishop, yet do all without consideration of the office. To me such persons appear to be void of a good conscience, since they are a congregation of men not gathered together in strict conformity to the commandment.
V. Now, as all things have their end, two alternatives are laid before us, death, and life: and every man must go to his own place. For there are, as it were, two coins, one of God and one the world's: and each of these has its proper mark upon it; unbelievers the mark of this world, and they who in love believe, the mark of God the Father through Jesus Christ; through whom if we are not readily disposed to die after die likeness of His passion, neither have we His life in us.
VI. Seeing now that, through the persons aforenamed, I have seen you all gathered together in faith and love, take good heed, I charge you, that you do all things in a spirit of godly concord:—the Bishop holding presidency over you, in the place of God; and the Presbyters in the place of the Council of Apostles; and the Deacons, my well-beloved, entrusted with the service of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the worlds, and appeared in the last days. Assuming therefore all of you this scheme of godly unity, give heed one to another, and let no man regard his neighbour in a fleshly spirit, but love ye one another continually in Jesus Christ. Let there be in you nothing which can divide you; but be ye made one, in the Bishop, and in the Superiors, for an example and lesson of incorruption.
VII. As therefore our Lord, being united with the Father, without Him, neither of Himself, nor by His Apostles, did any thing; so neither do you do any thing, apart from the Bishop and the Presbyters. Neither seek ye gratification in any thing to your own selfish judgment, but be there in the same place, one Form of prayer, one topic of supplication, one Mind, one Hope, in love and joy reproachless. There is One Jesus Christ, who surpasseth all things; together therefore haste ye all, as to One Temple of God, as to One Altar, as to One Jesus Christ, who proceeded from One Father, and is in One, and to One returned.
VIII. Be not led astray by strange doctrines, nor by old fables, which are unprofitable. For if we still live under the Judaic Law, it is a confession that we have not received Grace. For in the faith of Jesus Christ the holy Prophets lived; wherefore also they were persecuted, being inspired with His grace, that unbelievers might be fully assured, that there is One God, who manifested Himself in Jesus Christ His Son, who is His eternal Word, (not proceeding from silence,) who in all things well pleased Him who sent Him.
IX. If then they who lived under the old dispensation, have come to a newness of hope, superseding the Sabbatical system, with that rule of life which is according to the Lord's Day, wherein our life has arisen through the Lord, and through His death which some deny; (from which mystery we received our faith, and thence take patience, that we may be found Disciples of Jesus Christ our only Master;) how shall we be able to have life except through Him? Whom the prophets also, being His Disciples, expected in spirit as their Master; and therefore He for whom they justly waited, did by His advent raise them from the dead.
X. Let us not then be insensible to His goodness; for, if He should imitate the way in which we act, we already have perished. Wherefore, becoming His disciples, let us live according to the religion of Christ; for whosoever is called by any other name but this, is not of God. Put aside therefore the evil leaven, which hath grown old and waxed sour, and be ye changed into the new leaven which is Jesus Christ. Be ye salted in Him, that none among you may be corrupted, inasmuch as by your savour shall ye be judged. The name of Jesus Christ cannot be joined with an adherence to Judaism. For the Christian faith goes not for its completion to the Jewish, but the Jewish goes to the Christian; that every tongue that believeth may be gathered to God.
XI. Beloved, it is my desire, not as knowing that any of you are so affected, but as setting myself below you, to guard you against these things, so that you fall not upon the hooks of vain doctrine, but be fully assured of the Birth, and Passion, and Resurrection, which took place in the time of the government of Pontius Pilate; which verily and surely are things done by Jesus Christ our Hope:—and from that Hope may none of you be turned away.
XII. May you be my joy in all things, if of that I be worthy; and bound though I am, I am above comparison with any of you who are loosed. I know that ye are not puffed up, for ye love Jesus Christ within you; and I know that from the abundance of my praise ye gather caution; as it is written, the just man accuseth himself.
XIII. Study therefore to be confirmed in the doctrines of the Lord and of the Apostles, that in all you do, you may be well advanced in flesh and spirit, in faith and love, through the Son, Father, and Spirit, the Beginning and the End; under your most excellent Bishop, and your Presbytery, a well twined spiritual garland, and the Deacons according to God: be ye subject to the Bishop, and one to another, as Jesus Christ to His Father according to the Flesh, and the Apostles to Christ, and to the Father, and to the Spirit, that your union may be of the flesh and of the spirit.
XIV. Knowing that God dwelleth in you richly, I have exhorted you in few words. Remember me in your prayers, that I may be joined to God. Remember also the Church which is in Syria, (whereby I am not worthy to be called;) for I require your united prayer and love to God, that the Church in Syria may be refreshed with dew through your Church.
XV. The Ephesians in Smyrna, (whence I write to you,) salute you; who now are here to the glory of God, like unto you, and have refreshed me in all things, together with Polycarp, Bishop of the Smyrnæans. Likewise the other Churches salute you in the honour of Jesus Christ. Be strong in the concord of God, possessing the Spirit indivisible, which is Christ Jesus.
king, printer, st. clement's, oxford.