My mind has as little inclination for writing as sufficiency, most faithful Bishop(Papa) Laurentius, 3255 for I well know that it is a matter of no little peril to submit a slender ability to general criticism. But, since in your letter you rashly (forgive my saying so) require me, by Christs sacraments, which I hold in the greatest reverence, to compose something for you concerning the Faith, in accordance with the traditional and natural meaning of the Creed, although in so doing you impose a burthen upon me beyond my strength to bear (for I do not forget the opinion of the wise, which so justly says, that “to speak of God even what is true is perilous”); still, if you will aid with your prayers the necessity which your requisition has laid upon me, I will try to say something, moved rather by a reverential regard for your injunction than by presumptuous confidence in my ability. What I write, however, will hardly seem worthy of the consideration of persons of mature understanding, but suited rather to the capacity of children and young beginners in Christ.
I find, indeed, that some eminent writers have published treatises on these matters piously and briefly written. Moreover, I know that the heretic Photinus has written on the same; but with the object, not of explaining the meaning of the text to his readers, but of wresting things simply and truthfully said in support of his own dogma, while yet the Holy Spirit has taken care that in these words nothing should be set down which is ambiguous or obscure, or inconsistent with other truths: for therein is that prophecy verified, “Finishing and cutting short the word in equity: because a short word will the Lord make upon the earth.” 3256 It shall be our endeavour, then, first to restore and emphasize the words of the Apostles in their native simplicity; and, secondly, to supply such things as seem to have been omitted by former expositors. But that the scope of this “short word,” as we have called it, may be made more plain, we will enquire from the beginning how it came to be given to the Churches.
Nothing is known of this Pope Laurentius. The title “Papa,” at first given to Bishops promiscuously, was not yet restricted to the Bishop of Rome. Gregory VII., in a Council held at Rome in 1073, forbade it to be given to any other.542:3256
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