Tracts for the Times/Record VII

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Tracts for the Times by Ignatius of Antioch, translated by Tractarian Movement (1833)
Record VII

Publication dated Nov 30, 1833

Nov. 30, 1833.]


No. VII.


Epistle of Ignatius, the friend of St. Peter, on his way to martyrdom, to the Church at Smyrna.

Ignatius, who is called also Theophorus to the Church of God the Father and the beloved Jesus Christ, which is at Smyrna in Asia, mercifully blessed with every gift of God, fulfilled in faith and love, most acceptable in His sight, and fruitful in Saints, deficient in no one of His Gifts; Hail, in the Holy Spirit and in the Word of God!

I. I glorify Jesus Christ, even God, who has made you thus wise unto salvation. For I have perceived that ye are perfected in immoveable faith, as though ye were nailed, both in body and soul, unto the cross of our Lord Jesus; and firmly stablished in love through the blood of Christ, most fully believing upon our Lord; who verily was of the race of David according to the flesh, but the Son of God according to the Will and the Power of God; truly born of a Virgin, baptized of John, in order that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him, who for us was truly nailed to the cross in the flesh under Pontius Pilate and Herod the Tetrarch, of whose fruit are we, through His divine and blessed Passion; that He may by His resurrection raise a standard for ever for His faithful Saints, whether Jews or Gentiles, in one body of His Church.

II. For He suffered all these things for us, and for our salvation; and He verily suffered, as He in verity also raised Himself again; and not as some unbelievers say, that He suffered in appearance only, being themselves only an appearance; and according to their belief, so shall it be unto them, seing that they are Phantastics and Demoniacs.

III. For I know, that even after the Resurrection He was in the flesh, and believe that He still is; and, when He came unto Peter and his companions. He said "Take hold, handle me, and see, that I am not an incorporeal Spirit." And immediately they touched Him, and believed; being convinced both by His Flesh and His Spirit; through which conviction also they despised death, and were found to be superior to it. But after His Resurrection He in the flesh ate and drank with them, although being in the Spirit united to the Father.

IV. These things I exhort you, my beloved, knowing that thus also ye are disposed of yourselves. But I forewarn you against beasts in human shape; these you must not only not admit to your society, but if possible, not even come in their way. Only, pray for them, if by any means they may repent; which yet is a hard matter; but our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our true Life has power even for this. For if in appearance only these things were done by our Lord, then are my bonds also in appearance only. But wherefore have I given myself up unto death, to the fire, to the sword, to beasts? But if I am near the sword, I am near God; and if I am among beasts, I am with God also. Only, in the name of Jesus Christ I endure all: that I may suffer with Him, as He, who became perfect man, gives me strength.

V. Whom some, not knowing, deny: nay, rather are denied of Him, being the advocates not of truth but of death; whom neither the prophecies, nor the Law of Moses, nor even the Gospel up to this day, nor our individual sufferings have converted. For they think the same thing even concerning us. What availeth it to me, if any one praiseth me, but blasphemeth my Lord, denying that He came in the flesh? But he who denieth this, denieth Him altogether, being dead in Spirit. But the names of these men it hath not seemed good to me to write, seeing that they are in unbelief; nay, I would not that I should mention them at all, until they shall be turned to belief in His Passion, in which consists our Resurrection.

VI. Let no one deceive himself. Even heavenly things, and the glory of Angels, and Powers visible and invisible are condemned already, if they believe not in the blood of Christ. "He that is able to receive this, let him receive it." Let no one be puffed up by rank. For Faith and Love, to which nothing is preferable, are all in all. But consider those who hold other doctrines than the grace of God which has come unto us, how contrary they are to the will of God; who have no care for brotherly love, who take no thought for the widow, the orphan, or the oppressed, bond, or free, hungry, or thirsty.

VII. These abstain from the Sacrament, and from prayer; because they confess not that the Sacrament is the Body of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which sufifered for our sins, which the Father in His mercy raised again. They then, denying the Gift of God, perish in their disputes. Well had it been for them to accept It rather with thankfulness, that through It they might rise again. From such then it is meet that you should abstain; and not even to speak concerning them, either in private or public. But attend diligently to the Prophets, and above all to the Gospel in which His Passion is made manifest to us, and His Resurrection perfected; but avoid divisions, as the beginning of evils.

VIII. Follow your Bishop, all of you, even as Jesus Christ the Father; and the body of Presbyters, as the Apostles. Respect the Deacons, as ye would the commandment of God. Let no one do any thing pertaining to the Church without the Bishop. Let that be esteemed a well-ordered celebration of the Sacrament, which is administered either by the Bishop, or by those to whom he has committed it. Where the Bishop is, there let the body of Believers be; even as where Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. Without the Bishop it is lawful neither to baptize, nor to celebrate the Communion; but whatever he judges right, that also is well-pleasing unto God, that all which is done be safe and firm.

IX. It is meet that we should return to a sober mind, and while we have yet time, repent and turn unto God. It is good to regard God, and the Bishop. Whoso honoureth the Bishop, he is honoured of God. But he that doeth any thing hidden from the Bishop, sheweth the Devil. May all things abound unto you in grace, for ye are worthy. In all things ye have refreshed me; even as Jesus Christ has refreshed you. Ye have loved me when I was present, and ye have loved me when I was absent. God reward you therefore, for whom ye endure all things; wherefore also ye will attain unto Him!

X. Ye have done well, in that ye have received as the servants of Christ, even of God, Philo, and Rhëus, and Agathopus, my followers in the word of God; who also bless the Lord for you, because ye have in every way refreshed them. None of these things shall perish. My soul be as your souls, and my bonds, which ye despised not, neither were ashamed of; wherefore He who was perfect Faith, even Christ Jesus, will not be ashamed of you.

XI. Your prayer has come unto the Church which is at Antioch in Syria; from whence coming in bonds, which are acceptable to God, I salute you all. Nor am I worthy to be called one of that Church, because I am the last of them. But by the will of God I was deemed worthy; not as being myself conscious thereof, but through the grace of God; which I pray may be given unto me perfectly, that through your prayers I may attain unto God. That therefore your work may be perfected, both on earth and in heaven, it is right for the honour of God; that your most sacred Church should elect some one to go into Syria to congratulate them that they are at rest, and that their numbers have been regained, and their body reestablished. It seems to me befitting, that you should send some one of your members with an Epistle, that he may with them glorify God for the quietness, which He has vouchsafed unto them; and for their having reached the harbour through your prayers. As ye are perfect, so let your sentiments be perfect. For to those who wish to do well, God is ready to vouchsafe it.

XII. The love of the brethren at Troas salutes you; from which place I send this Epistle by the hands of Burrhus, whom you sent with me, along with your Ephesian brethren, and who has in every way been a comfort to me. And would that all imitated him, as a pattern of God's Ministry! The grace of God will fully reward him. I salute your holy Bishop, your most sacred Presbytery, and my fellow servants the Deacons, individually and together in the name of Jesus Christ, in His flesh and blood. His Passion and Resurrection, both of Body and Spirit, in the unity of God and of you. Grace be with you, mercy, peace, and patience evermore!

XIII. I salute the households of my brethren, their wives and children, the virgins and widows. Farewell through the Spirit. Philo, who is with me, salutes you. I salute the household of Tabia, and pray that she may be stablished, in body and soul, in Faith and Love. I salute Alce, my well-beloved, and the incomparable Daphnus, and Eutecnus, and all of you by name. Farewell in the grace of God!

These Tracts may he had at Turrill's No. 250, Regent Street, London.