Tracts for the Times/Record X
Dec. 10, 1833.]
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 Philadelphians.
Ignatius, which is also Theophorus, to the Church of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that is in Philadelphia of Asia, that hath obtained mercy, and remaineth stedfast in godly concord, and exulteth continually in the Passion of our Lord; and hath in His Resurrection been richly furnished with all Mercy. Even this Church do I salute in the blood of Jesus Christ, which is our everlasting and abiding joy; especially if it be in Unity with the Bishop and his Fellow-Presbyters and Deacons, appointed after the mind of Jesus Christ; whom He hath according to His own Will established in all confidence, by His Holy Spirit.
I. This your Bishop, I well know, hath obtained his public Ministry not of himself, or by the means of men, neither out of vain-glory, but in the Love of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ. His moderation I do greatly admire; as he by silence doth more prevail, than others with their idle disputations; for he is exactly fitted to the commandments, even as a harp to its strings. Wherefore my soul esteemeth his mind toward God most happy; knowing it to be perfect in all virtue; as also his unmoved and dispassionate temper, according to the moderation of the Living God.
II. Do ye then, being children of light and truth, avoid division and corrupt doctrines; but where your shepherd is, thither follow ye as sheep. For there be many wolves, held worthy to be trusted, who captivate by corrupt pleasure those that are running a godly course; but in your Unity they shall have no place.
III. Abstain from the evil herbs, that Christ Jesus dresseth not; forasmuch as they are not the Father's planting. I say not this because I have found you divided, but rather sifted from evil. For all that are of God, and Jesus Christ, these are with the Bishop; and all that shall repent and turn lo the Unity of the Church, these also shall be of God, that they may live after the example of Jesus Christ. Be not deceived, Brethren; whosoever followeth one that createth schism, he inheriteth not the kingdom of God; whosoever walketh by another man's opinion, he consenteth not to the Passion of Christ.
IV. Endeavour therefore to use one and the same Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ; and one Cup; that His Blood may make us one. There is but one Altar; also there is one Bishop, together with the Presbytery and Deacons, my fellow-servants; that so whatsoever ye do, ye may do all according to the will of God.
V. My brethren, I abound in love toward you even to overflowing, and in my exceeding joy I fortify you; and yet not I, but Jesus Christ; for whom though I am in bonds, I have therefore the more fear, inasmuch as I am not yet made perfect. But your prayer to God shall make me perfect; that I may obtain that portion with which I was in mercy blessed; flying for refuge, to the Gospel as the Blood of Christ, and to the Apostles as to the Presbytery of the Church. Let us love the Prophets also, for that they have taught us, both to look with hope to the Gospel, and to await it; as they also believed in it and were saved, being in the Unity of Jesus Christ, holy men, worthy to be loved and had in wonder; who have received testimony from Jesus Christ, and have been reckoned in the Gospel of our common hope.
VI. Now should any one expound Judaism unto you, hearken not unto him; for it is better to hear Christianity from a man that hath circumcision, than Judaism from one that is uncircumcised. But if they speak, neither one of them, concerning Jesus Christ, they are unto me but as monuments and sepulchres of the dead, whereon is nothing written but the names of men. Fly therefore from the evil arts and snares of the Prince of this world; lest at any time, being oppressed by his devices, ye grow weak in love. But join all of you together with an undivided heart. I thank my God that I enjoy a good conscience toward you; and that no one can profess either privately or in public, that I have been burdensome to him in much or little; and I pray all, among whom I have spoken, not to entertain such profession as a testimony against me.
VII. For, though some would have deceived me according to the flesh, yet the spirit is not deceived, being of God; for it knoweth whence it cometh and whither it goeth, and reproveth all the secrets of the heart. I cried out while I tarried with you, spake with a loud voice; "Give heed to the Bishop, to the Presbytery, and the Deacons." Now some suspected, that I spake things, as knowing beforehand that among them was a spirit of division. But He is my witness. He for whom I am in bonds, that I knew it not from any living man; but the Spirit proclaimed, saying, "Keep your body as the Temple of God; love Unity; avoid divisions; be ye followers of Jesus Christ, even as He is a follower of His Father."
VIII. Wherefore I did my part, as a man fitted to the preserving of unity. For where is division and wrath, there God dwelleth not. The Lord therefore forgiveth all, when they repent, if in repentance they turn to godly Unity and the Council of the Bishop. I have faith in the grace of Jesus Christ, that He will loose you from every bond; and I exhort you to do nothing with contention, but according to the instruction of Christ. And this, I say; because I heard some affirm, that I have not faith in the Gospel, unless I find it written in the Records; and when I told them. It is so written; they answered, Nay, it doth not so appear. But my records are Jesus Christ. My uncorrupted records are His cross and death and resurrection, and the faith which is by Him; in the which I desire to be justified through your prayers.
IX. The Priests indeed are good; but far more excellent is the High-Priest, who hath received charge of the Holy of Holies; who hath alone received charge of the hidden things of God. He is the door of the Father, through which enter in Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the Prophets, and the Apostles, and the Church. All these things tend to godly unity; but the Gospel hath an especial gift, namely, the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, with His Passion and Resurrection. For the beloved Prophets brought tidings of Him; but the Gospel is the fulfillment of Immortality. All things are good together, if ye have faith with love.
X. Now as I am told that, through your prayer, and the hearts ye bear in Christ Jesus, the Church which is in Antioch, of Syria, is in peace, it is fitting for you, as a Church of God, to elect a Deacon, who shall there exercise the office of God's ambassador; that so you may take part in their joy, when they are met together, and may glorify the name of God. Blessed in Jesus Christ is he, who shall be thought worthy of such a ministry; and ye also shall obtain glory. Now if ye be willing, it is not impossible to do this for the name of God; seeing that all the neighbouring Churches sent, some Bishops, some Priests and Deacons.
XI. Touching Philo, the Deacon from Cilicia, a man of good report, who serveth me even now in the word of God, together with Rheus Agathopus, one of the elect, who followelh me from Syria, having taken leave of life; these also do bear testimony unto you. And I thank God for your sakes, that ye received them, even as the Lord will receive you. But for those who shewed them dishonour, may they be redeemed through the grace of Jesus Christ. The brethren who are in Troas salute you with all love; whence also I write unto you by the hand of Burrhus, who was sent with me by the Ephesians and Smyrnæans for respect's sake. Our Lord Jesus Christ will honour them, on whom they hope in body and soul, in faith, in love, in concord. Fare ye well in Christ Jesus, our common Hope.
These Tracts may be had at Turrill's, No. 250, Regent Street, London.
KING, PRINTER, ST. CLEMENT'S, OXFORD.