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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII:
Constitutions of the Holy Apostles: Sec. II.—All Association with Idols is to Be Avoided

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Sec. II.—All Association with Idols is to Be Avoided.

A Moral Admonition, that We are to Abstain from Vain Talking, Obscene Talking, Jesting, Drunkenness, Lasciviousness, and Luxury.

X. Now we exhort you, brethren and fellow-servants, to avoid vain talk and obscene discourses, and jestings, drunkenness, lasciviousness, luxury, unbounded passions, with foolish discourses, since we do not permit you so much as on the Lord’s days, which are days of joy, to speak or act anything unseemly; for the Scripture somewhere says: “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice unto Him with trembling.” 3042 Even your very rejoicings therefore ought to be done with fear and trembling: for a Christian who is faithful ought neither to repeat an heathen hymn nor an obscene song, because he will be obliged by that hymn to make mention of the idolatrous names of demons; and instead of the Holy Spirit, the wicked one will enter into him.  

An Admonition Instructing Men to Avoid the Abominable Sin of Idolatry.

XI. You are also forbidden to swear by them, or to utter their abominable names through your mouth, and to worship them, or fear them as gods; for they are not gods, but either wicked demons or the ridiculous contrivances of men. For somewhere God says concerning the Israelites: “They have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods.” 3043 And afterwards: “I p. 443 will take away the names of your idols out of their mouth.” 3044 And elsewhere: “They have provoked me to jealousy with them that are no gods; they have provoked me to anger with their idols.” 3045 And in all the Scriptures these things are forbidden by the Lord God.  

That We Ought Not to Sing an Heathen or an Obscene Song, Nor to Swear by an Idol; Because It is an Impious Thing, and Contrary to the Knowledge of God.

XII. Nor do the legislators give us only prohibitions concerning idols, but also warn us concerning the luminaries, not to swear by them, nor to serve them. For they say: “Lest, when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, thou shouldest be seduced to worship them.” 3046 And elsewhere: “Do not ye learn to walk after the ways of the heathen, and be not afraid of the signs of heaven.” 3047 For the stars and the luminaries were given to men to shine upon them, but not for worship; although the Israelites, by the perverseness of their temper, “worshipped the creature instead of the Creator,” 3048 and acted insultingly to their Maker, and admired the creature more than is fit. And sometimes they made a calf, as in the wilderness; 3049 sometimes they worshipped Baalpeor; 3050 another time Baal, 3051 and Thamuz, 3052 and Astarte of Sidon; 3053 and again Moloch and Chamos; 3054 another time the sun, 3055 as it is written in Ezekiel; nay, and besides, brute creatures, as among the Egyptians Apis, and the Mendesian goat, and gods of silver and gold, as in Judea. On account of all which things He threatened them, and said by the prophet: “Is it a small thing to the house of Judah to do these abominations which they have done? For they have filled the land with their wickedness, to provoke me to anger: and, behold, they are as those that mock. And I will act with anger. Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have mercy; and they shall cry in mine ears with a great voice, and I will not hearken unto them.” 3056 Consider, beloved, how many things the Lord declares against idolaters, and the worshippers of the sun and moon. Wherefore it is the duty of a man of God, as he is a Christian, not to swear by the sun, or by the moon, or by the stars; nor by the heaven, nor by the earth, by any of the elements, whether small or great. For if our Master charged us not to swear by the true God, that our word might be firmer than an oath, nor by heaven itself, for that is a piece of heathen wickedness, nor by Jerusalem, nor by the sanctuary of God, nor the altar, nor the gift, nor the gilding of the altar, nor one’s own head, 3057 for this custom is a piece of Judaic corruption, and on that account was forbidden; and if He exhorts the faithful that their yea be yea, and their nay, nay, and says that “what is more than these is of the evil one,” how much more blameable are those who appeal to deities falsely so called as the objects of an oath, and who glorify imaginary beings instead of those that are real, whom God for their perverseness “delivered over to foolishness, to do those things that are not convenient!” 3058  



Ps. ii. 11.  


Jer. v. 7.  


Zech. xiii. 2.  


Deut. xxxii. 21  


Deut. iv. 19  


Jer. x. 2  


Rom. i. 25  


Ex. xxxii. 4  


Num. xxv. 3  


Judg. ii. 13  


Ezek. viii. 14.  


1 Kings xi. 5.  


1 Kings xi. 7.  


Ezek. viii. 16.  


Ezek. 8:17, 18.  


Matt. 5:34, Matt. 23:16.  


Rom. i. 28.  

Next: Sec. III.—On Feast Days and Fast Days

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