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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VIII:
Two Epistles Concerning Virginity.: Chapter XII

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XII.—Rules for Visits, Exorcisms, and How People are to Assist the Sick, and to Walk in All Things Without Offence.

Moreover, also, this is comely and useful, that a man “visit orphans and widows,” 409 and especially those poor persons who have many children.  These things are, without controversy, required of the servants of God, and comely and suitable for them.  This also, again, is suitable and right and comely for those who are brethren in Christ, that they should visit those who are harassed by evil spirits, and pray and pronounce adjurations 410 over them, intelligently, offering such prayer as is acceptable before God; not with a multitude of fine words, 411 well prepared and arranged, so that they may appear to men eloquent and of a good memory.  Such men are “like a sounding pipe, or a tinkling cymbal;” 412 and they bring no help to those over whom they make their adjurations; but they speak with terrible words, and affright people, but do not act with true faith, according to the teaching of our Lord, who hath said:  “This kind goeth not out but by fasting and prayer,” 413 offered unceasingly and with earnest mind.  And let them holily ask and beg of God, with cheerfulness and all circumspection and purity, without hatred and without malice.  In this way let us approach a brother or a sister who is sick, and visit them in a way that is right, without guile, and without covetousness, and without noise, and without talkativeness, and without such behaviour as is alien from the fear of God, and without haughtiness, but with the meek and lowly spirit of Christ.  Let them, therefore, with fasting and with prayer make their adjurations, and not with the elegant and well-arranged and fitly-ordered words of learning, but as men who have received the gift of healing from God, confidently, to the glory of p. 60 God.  By 414 your fastings and prayers and perpetual watching, together with your other good works, mortify the works of the flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit.  He who acts thus “is a temple of the Holy Spirit of God.” 415   Let this man cast out demons, and God will help him.  For it is good that a man help those that are sick.  Our Lord hath said:  “Cast out demons,” at the same time commanding many other acts of healing; and, “Freely ye have received, freely give.” 416   For such persons as these a goodly recompense is laid up by God, because they serve their brethren with the gifts which have been given them by the Lord.  This is also comely and helpful to the servants of God, because they act according to the injunctions of our Lord, who hath said:  “I was sick, and ye visited Me, and so on.” 417   And this is comely and right and just, that we visit our neighbours for the sake of God with all seemliness of manner and purity of behaviour; as the Apostle hath said:  “Who is sick, and I am not sick? who is offended, and I am not offended?” 418   But all these things are spoken in reference to the love with which a man should love his neighbour.  And in these things let us occupy ourselves, 419 without giving offence, and let us not do anything with partiality or for the shaming of others, but let us love the poor as the servants of God, and especially let us visit them.  For this is comely before God and before men, that we should remember the poor, and be lovers of the brethren and of strangers, for the sake of God and for the sake of those who believe in God, as we have learnt from the law and from the prophets, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, concerning the love of the brotherhood and the love of strangers:  for ye know the words which have been spoken concerning the love of the brotherhood and the love of strangers; 420 powerfully are the words spoken to all those who do them.



Jas. i. 27.


Or “exorcisms.”


Lit. “elegant and numerous words.”


1 Cor. xiii. 1.


Matt. xvii. 21.  [Or Mark ix. 29; the verse in Matthew is of doubtful genuineness.—R.]


Or “in.”


1 Cor. vi. 19.


Matt. x. 8.


Lit. “and things similar to these,” Matt. xxv. 36.


2 Cor. xi. 29.


Lit. “let us be.”


Beelen here omits, as spurious, the words, “because this same thing is pleasant and agreeable to you:  because ye are all taught of God.”

Next: Chapter XIII