Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Third Ecumenical Council: The Council of Ephesus.: The Letter of the Same Holy Synod of Ephesus, to the Sacred Synod in Pamphylia Concerning Eustathius Who Had Been Their Metropolitan.
p. 236 The Letter of the Same Holy Synod of Ephesus, to the Sacred Synod in Pamphylia Concerning Eustathius Who Had Been Their Metropolitan.
(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tome III., col. 806.)
Forasmuch as the divinely inspired Scripture says, “Do all things with advice,” 272 it is especially their duty who have had the priestly ministry allotted to them to examine with all diligence whatever matters are to be transacted. For to those who will so spend their lives, it comes to pass both that they are established in [the enjoyment of] an honest hope concerning what belongs to them, and that they are borne along, as by a favouring breeze, in things that they desire: so that, in truth, the saying [of the Scripture] has much reason [to commend it]. But there are times when bitter and intolerable grief swoops down upon the mind, and has the effect of cruelly beclouding it, so as to carry it away from the pursuit of what is needful, and persuade it to consider that to be of service which is in its [very] nature mischievous. Something of this kind we have seen endured by that most excellent and most religious Bishop Eustathius. For it is in evidence that he has been ordained canonically; but having been much disturbed, as he declares, by certain parties, and having entered upon circumstances he had not foreseen, therefore, though fully able to repel the slanders of his persecutors, he nevertheless, through an extraordinary inexperience of affairs, declined to battle with the difficulties which beset him, and in some way that we know not set forth an act of resignation. Yet it behooved him, when he had been once entrusted with the priestly care, to cling to it with spiritual energy, and, as it were, to strip himself to strive against the troubles and gladly to endure the sweat for which he had bargained. But inasmuch as he proved himself to be deficient in practical capacity, having met with this misfortune rather from inexperience than from cowardice and sloth, your holiness has of necessity ordained our most excellent and most religious brother and fellow-bishop, Theodore, as the overseer of the Church; for it was not reasonable that it should remain in widowhood, and that the Saviours sheep should pass their time without a shepherd. But when he came to us weeping, not contending with the aforenamed most religious Bishop Theodore for his See or Church, but in the meantime seeking only for his rank and title as a bishop, we all suffered with the old man in his grief, and considering his weeping as our own, we hastened to discover whether the aforenamed [Eustathius] had been subjected to a legal deposition, or whether, forsooth, he had been convicted on any of the absurd charges alleged by certain parties who had poured forth idle gossip against his reputation. And indeed we learned that nothing of such a kind had taken place, but rather that his resignation had been counted against the said Eustathius instead of a [regular] indictment. Wherefore, we did by no means blame your holiness for being compelled to ordain into his place the aforenamed most excellent Bishop Theodore. But forasmuch as it was not seemly to contend much against the unpractical character of the man, while it was rather necessary to have pity on the elder who, at so advanced an age, was now so far away from the city which had given him birth, and from the dwelling-places of his fathers, we have judicially pronounced and decreed without any opposition, that he shall have both the name, and the rank, and the communion of the episcopate. On this condition, however, only, that he shall not ordain, and that he shall not take and minister to a Church of his own individual authority; but that [he shall do so only] if taken as an assistant, or when appointed, if it should so chance, by a brother and fellow-bishop, in accordance with the ordinance and the love which is in Christ. If, however, ye shall determine anything more favourable towards him, either now or hereafter, this also will be pleasing to the Holy Synod.
Ecclesiasticus 32.19—“Do nothing without advice” (sine consilio nihil facias): The deutero-canonical book of Ecclesiasticus is here by an Ecumenical Council styled “divinely-inspired Scripture.”
Next: The Letter of the Synod to Pope Celestine.
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