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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII:
Constitutions of the Holy Apostles: Sec. VI.—Conclusion of the Work

Early Church Fathers  Index     

p. 464 Sec. VI.—Conclusion of the Work.

That It is the Custom of Jews and Gentiles to Observe Natural Purgations, and to Abominate the Remains of the Dead; But that All This is Contrary to Christianity.

XXX. Do not therefore keep any such observances about legal and natural purgations, as thinking you are defiled by them. Neither do you seek after Jewish separations, or perpetual washings, or purifications upon the touch of a dead body. But without such observations assemble in the dormitories, reading the holy books, and singing for the martyrs which are fallen asleep, and for all the saints from the beginning of the world, and for your brethren that are asleep in the Lord, and offer the acceptable Eucharist, the representation of the royal body of Christ, both in your churches and in the dormitories; and in the funerals of the departed, accompany them with singing, if they were faithful in Christ. For “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” 3332 And again: “O my soul, return unto thy rest, for the Lord hath done thee good.” 3333 And elsewhere: “The memory of the just is with encomiums.” 3334 And, “The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God.” 3335 For those that have believed in God, although they are asleep, are not dead. For our Saviour says to the Sadducees: “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which is written, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God, therefore, is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to Him.” 3336 Wherefore, of those that live with God, even their very relics are not without honour. For even Elisha the prophet, after he was fallen asleep, raised up a dead man who was slain by the pirates of Syria. 3337 For his body touched the bones of Elisha, and he arose and revived. Now this would not have happened unless the body of Elisha were holy. And chaste Joseph embraced Jacob after he was dead upon his bed; 3338 and Moses and Joshua the son of Nun carried away the relics of Joseph, 3339 and did not esteem it a defilement. Whence you also, O bishops, and the rest, who without such observances touch the departed, ought not to think yourselves defiled. Nor abhor the relics of such persons, but avoid such observances, for they are foolish. And adorn yourselves with holiness and chastity, that ye may become partakers of immortality, and partners of the kingdom of God, and may receive the promise of God, and may rest for ever, through Jesus Christ our Saviour.  

To Him, therefore, who is able to open the ears of your hearts to the receiving the oracles of God administered to you both by the Gospel and by the teaching of Jesus Christ of Nazareth; who was crucified under Pontius Pilate and Herod, and died, and rose again from the dead, and will come again at the end of the world with power and great glory, and will raise the dead, and put an end to this world, and distribute to every one according to his deserts: to Him that has given us Himself for an earnest of the resurrection; who was taken up into the heavens by the power of His God and Father in our sight, who ate and drank with Him for forty days after He arose from the dead; who is sat down on the right hand of the throne of the majesty of Almighty God upon the cherubim; to whom it was said, “Sit Thou on my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool;” 3340 whom the most blessed Stephen saw standing at the right hand of power, and cried out, and said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God,” 3341 as the High Priest of all the rational orders,—through Him, worship, and majesty, and glory be given to Almighty God, both now and for evermore. 3342 Amen.  


Footnotes

464:3332

Ps. cxvi. 15.  

464:3333

Ps. cxvi. 7.  

464:3334

Prov. x. 7.  

464:3335

Wisd. iii. 1.  

464:3336

Ex. iii. 6; Luke xx. 38.  

464:3337

2 Kings xiii. 21  

464:3338

Gen. l. 1  

464:3339

Ex. xiii. 19; Josh. xxiv. 32.  

464:3340

Ps. cx. 1.  

464:3341

Acts vii. 56.  

464:3342

One V. ms. reads: “to Him be worship, and majesty, and glory, along with the Father and the co-eternal Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.”  


Next: Book VII. Concerning the Christian Life, and the Eucharist, and the Initiation into Christ

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