Leo the Great: letters 1107
(Expostulating with him for putting personal considerations before the good of the Church in the matter of the precedence of the See of Constantinople).
Leo, the bishop, to Theodore, bishop of Forum Julii.
I. Theodosus Should Not Have Approached Him Except Through His Metropolitan.
Your first proceeding, when anxious, should have been to have consulted your metropolitan on the point which seemed to need inquiry, and if he too was unable to help you, beloved, you should both have asked to be instructed (by us); for in matters, which concern all the Lordís priests as a whole, no inquiry ought to be made without the primates. But in order that the consulterís doubts may in any case be set at rest, I will not keep back the Churchís rules about the state of penitents).
II. The Grace of Penitence is for Those Who Fall After Baptism.
The manifold mercy of God so assists men when they fall, that not only by the grace of baptism but also by the remedy of penitence is the hope of eternal life revived, in order that they who have violated the gifts of the second birth, condemning themselves by their own judgment, may attain to remission of their crimes, the provisions of the Divine Goodness having so ordained that Godís indulgence cannot be obtained without the supplications of priests. For the Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, has transmitted this power to those that are set over the Church that they should both grant a course of penitence1 to those who confess, and, when they are cleansed by wholesome correction admit them through the door of reconciliation to communion in the sacraments. In which work assuredly the Saviour Himself unceasingly takes part and is never absent from those things, the carrying out of which He has committed to His ministers. saying: ďLo, I am with you all the days even to the completion of the age2 :Ē so that whatever is accomplished through our service in due order and with satisfactory results we doubt not to have been vouchsafed through the Holy Spirit.
III. Penitence is Sure Only in This Life.
But if any one of those for whom we entreat God be hindered by some obstacle and lose the benefit of immediate absolution, and before he attain to the remedies appointed, end his days in the course of nature, he will not be able when stripped of the flesh to gain that which when yet in the body he did not receive. And there will be no need for us to weigh tile merits and acts of those who have thus died, seeing that the Lord our God, whose judgments cannot be found out, has reserved for His own decision that which our priestly ministry could not complete: for He wishes His power to be so feared that this fear may benefit all, and every one may dread that which happens to the lukewarm or careless. For it is most expedient and essential that the guilt of sins should be loosed by priestly supplication before the last day of life.
IV. And Yet Penitence and Reconciliation Must Not Be Refused to Men in Extremis.
But to those who in time of need and in urgent danger implore the aid first of penitence, then of reconciliation, must neither means of amendment nor reconciliation be forbidden: because we cannot place limits to Godís mercy nor fix times for Him with whom true conversion suffers no delay of forgiveness, as says Godís Spirit by the prophet, ďwhen thou hast turned and lamented, then shalt thou be saved3 ;Ē and elsewhere, ďDeclare thou thy iniquities beforehand, that thou mayíst be justified4 ;Ē and again, ďFor with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption5 .Ē And so in dispensing Godís gifts we must not be hard, nor neglect the tears and groans of self-accusers, seeing that we believe the very feeling of penitence springs from the inspiration of God, as says the Apostle, ďlest perchance God will give them repentance that they may recover themselves from the snares of the devil, by whom they are held captive at his will6 .Ē
1 Actionem (others not so well sanctionem ) paeitentioe.
2 Mt 28,20.
3 Is 30,15,
4 Is 43,26,
5 Ps 130,7,
6 2Tm 2,25-26.
V. Hazardous as Deathbed Repentance Is, the Grace of Absolution Must Not Be Refused Even When It Can Be Asked for Only by Signs.
Hence it behoves each individual Christian to listen to the judgment of his own conscience, lest he put off the turning to God from day to day and fix the time of his amendment at the end of his life; for it is most perilous for human frailty and ignorance to confine itself to such conditions as to be reduced to the uncertainty of a few hours, and instead of winning indulgence by fuller amendment, to choose the narrow limits of that time when space is scarcely found even for the penitentís confession or the priestís absolution. But, as I have said, even such menís needs must be so assisted that the free action of penitence and the grace of communion be not denied them, if they demand it even when their voice is gone, by the signs of a still clear intellect. And if they be so overcome by the stress of their malady that they cannot signify in the priestís presence what just before they were asking for, the testimony of believers standing by must prevail for them, that they may obtain the benefit of penitence and reconciliation simultaneously, so long as the regulations of the Fathersí canons be observed in reference to those persons who have sinned against God by forsaking the Faith.
VI. He is to Bring This Letter to the Notice of the Metropolitan.
These answers, brother, which I have given to your questions in order that nothing different be done under the excuse of ignorance, you shall bring to the notice of your metropolitan; that if there chance to be any of the brethren who before now have thought there was any doubt about these points, they may be instructed by him concerning what I have written to you. Dated June 11th in the consulship of the illustrious Herculanus (452).
Leo, the pope, to Julian, the bishop.
I. He Laments Over the Recent Rioting in Palestine.
The information which you give, brother, about the riotous doings of the false monks1 is serious and to no slight degree lamentable; for they are due to the war which the wicked Eutyches by the madness of deceivers is waging against the preaching of the Gospel and the Apostles, though it will end in his own destruction and that of his followers but this is delayed by the long-suffering of God, in order that it may appear how greatly the enemies of the cross of Christ are enslaved to the devil; because heretical depravity, breaking through its ancient veil of pretence can no longer restrain itself within the limits of its hypocrisy, and has poured forth all its long-concealed poison, raging against the disciples of the Truth not only with pen but also with deeds of violence2 , in order to wrest consent from unlearned simplicity or from panic-stricken faith. But the sons of light ought not to be so afraid of the sons of darkness, as being sane to acquiesce in the ideas of madmen or to think that any respect should be shown to men of this kind; for, if they would rather perish than recover their senses, provision must be made lest their escape from punishment should do wider harm, and long toleration of them should lead to the destruction of many.
II. The Ringleaders Must Be Removed to a Distance.
I am not unaware what love and favour is due to our sons, those holy and true monks, who forsake not the moderation of their profession, and carry into practice what they promised by their vows. But these insolent disturbers, who boast of their insults and injuries to priests3 , are to be held not the slaves of Christ, but the soldiers of Antichrist, and must be chiefly humiliated in the person of their leaders, who incite the ignorant mob to uphold their insubordination. And hence, seeing that our most merciful Prince loves the catholic Faith with all the devotion of a religious heart, and is greatly offended at the effrontery of these rebel heretics, as is everywhere reported, we must appeal to his clemency that the instigators of these seditions be removed from their mad congregations; and not only Eutyches and Dioscorus but also any who have been forward in aiding their wrongheaded madness, be placed where they can hold no intercourse with their partners in blasphemy: for the simpleness of some may chance to be healed by this method, and men will be more easily recalled to soundness of mind, if they be set free from the incitements of pestilential teachers.
III. He Sends a Letter of S. Athanasius to Show that the Present Heresy is Only a Revival of Former Exploded Heresies.
But lest the instruction necessary for the confirmation of faithful spirits or the refutation of heretics should be wanting or not expressed, I have sent the letter of bishop Athanasius of holy memory addressed to bishop Epictetus4 , whose testimony Cyril of holy memory made use of at the Synod of Ephesus against Nestorius, because it has so clearly and carefully set forth the Incarnation of the Wordí, as to overthrow both Nestorius and Eutyches by anticipation in the heresies of those times. Let the followers of Eutyches and Dioscorus dare to accuse such an authority as this of ignorance or of heresy, who assert that our preaching goes astray from the teaching and the knowledge of the Fathers. But it ought to avail for the confirmation of the minds of all the Lordís priests, who, having been already detected and condemned of heresy in respect of the authorities they followed, now begin more openly to set forth their blasphemous dogma, lest, if their meaning were hid beneath the cloke of silence it might still be doubtful whether the triple error of Apollinaris5 , and the mad notion of the Manichees was really revived in them. And as they no longer seek to hide themselves but rise boldly against the churches of Christ, must we not take care to destroy all the strength of their attempts, observing. as I have said, such discrimination as to separate the incorrigible from the more docile spirits: for ďevil conversations corrupt good manners6 ,Ē and ďthe wise man will be sharper than the pestilent person who is chastised7 ;Ē in order that in whatever way the society of the wicked is broken up, some vessels may be snatched from the devilís hand? For we ought not to be so offended at scurrilous and empty words as to have no care for their correction.
IV. He Expresses a Hope that Juvenalís Timely Acknowledgment of Error Will Be Imitated by the Rest.
But bishop Juvenal, whose injuries are to be lamented, joined himself too rashly to those blasphemous heretics, and by embracing Eutyches and Dioscorus, drove many ignorant folk headlong by his example, albeit he afterwards corrected himself by wiser counsels. These men, however, who drank in more greedily the wicked poison, have become the enemies of him, whose disciples they had been before, so that the very food he had supplied them was turned to his own ruin: and yet it is to be hoped they will imitate him in amending his ways, if only the holy associations of the neighbourhood in which they dwell will help them to recover their senses. But the character of him8 who has usurped the place of a bishop still living cannot be doubted from the character of his actions, nor is it to be disputed that he who is loved by the assailants of the Faith must be a misbeliever. Meanwhile, brother, do not hesitate to continue with anxious care to keep me acquainted with the course of events by more frequent letters. Dated November 25th in the consulship of Herculanus (452).
1 These were the monks of Palestine who immediately on Theodosiusí return from the Synod stirred up great riots first in Jerusalem and then throughout Palestine.
2 Letters of the Emperor Marcion (quoted by Ball). speak (1) of a letter written by Theodosius quas solus poterat fingere diabolus ; and (2) of cruelties, tortures, and insults commited particularly in mulieres honestas et nobiles, whereby the rioters had not hesitated to force many to acquiesce in their wicked teaching.
3 They had slain Severian, Bishop of Scythopolis, and would aIso have slain Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, if he had not taken refuge in flight (Ball)..
4 A portion of this letter is among the quotationís added at the end of Letter CLXV. See also Vol. IV. p. 570.
5 What this triple error was will be found in Lett. LIX., chap. 5, (q.v). : cf. also Lett. CXXIV. and CLXVII).
6 1Co 15,33,
7 Pr 21,2, LXX.
8 Sc. Theodosius
(Expressing surprise that Leo has not by now confirmed the acts of the Synod, and asking for a speedy confirmation).
(About Anatoliusí mistake in deposing Actions from the office of archdeacon and putting in Andrew instead).
(On the same subject more briefly).
Leo, bishop of Rome, to Julian, bishop of Cos.
I. After Thanks for Julianís Sympathy He Complains of the Deposition of Aetius from the Archdeaconry.
I acknowledge in your letter, beloved, the feelings of brotherly love, in that you sympathize with us in true grief at the many grievous evils we have borne: But we pray that these things which the Lord has either allowed or wished us to suffer, may avail to the correction of those who live through them1 , and that adversities may cease through the cessation of offences. Both which results will follow through the mercy of God, if only He remove the scourge and turn the hearts of His people to Himself. But as you, brother, are saddened by the hostilities which have raged around us, so I am made anxious because, as your letter indicates, the treacherous attacks of heretics are not set at rest in the church of Constantinople, and men seek occasion to persecute those who have been the defenders of the catholic Fairly. For so long as Aetius is removed from his office of archdeacon under pretence of promotion2 and Andrew is taken into his place, who had been cast off for associating with heretics; so long as respect is shown to the accusers of Flavian of holy memory, and the partners or disciples of that most pious confessor are put down, it is only too clearly shown what pleases the bishop of the church itself. Towards whom I put off taking action till I hear the merits of the case and await his own dealing with me in the letter our son Aetius tells me he will send, giving opportunity for voluntary correction, whereby I desire my vexation to be appeased. Nevertheless, I have written to our most clement Prince and the most pious Augusta about these things which concern the peace of the Church; and I do not doubt they will in the devoutness of their faith take heed lest a heresy already condemned should succeed in springing up again to the detriment of their own glorious work.
II. He Asks Julian to Act for Him as Anatolius is Deficient in Vigour.
See then, beloved brother, that you bestow the necessary thought on the cares of the Apostolic See, which by her rights as your mother commends to you, who were nourished at her breast, the defence of the catholic Truth against Nestorians and Eutychians, in order that, supported by the Divine help, you may not cease to watch the interests of the city of Constantinople, lest at any time the storms of error arise within her. And because the faith of our glorious Princes is so great that you may confidently suggest what is necessary to them, use their piety for the benefit of the universal Church. But if ever you consult me, beloved, on things which you think doubtful, my reply shall not fail to supply instruction, so that, apart from cases which ought to be decided by the inquiries of the bishops of each particular church, you may act as my legate and undertake the special charge of preventing the Nestorian or Eutychian heresy reviving in any quarter; because the bishop of Constantinople does not possess catholic vigour, and is not very jealous either for the mystery of manís salvation or for his own reputation: whereas if he had any spiritual activity, he ought to have considered by whom he was ordained, and whom he succeeded in such a way as to follows the blessed Flavian rather than the instruments of his promotion. And, therefore, when our most religious Princes deign in accordance with my entreaties to reprimand our brother Anatolius on those matters, which deservedly come under blame, join your diligence to theirs, beloved, that all causes of offences may be removed by the application of the fullest correction and he cease from injuring our son Aetius. For with a catholic-minded bishop even though there was something which seemed calculated to annoy in his archdeacon, it ought to have been passed over from regard for the Faith, rather than that the most worthless heretic should take the place of a catholic. And so when I have learnt the rest of the story, I shall then more clearly gather what ought to be done. For, meanwhile, I have thought better to restrain my vexation and to exercise patience that there might be room for forgiveness.
III. He Asks for Further Information About the Rioting in Palestine and in Egypt.
But with regard to the monks of Palestine, who are said this long time to be in a state of mutiny, I know not by what spirit they are at present moved. Nor has any one yet explained to me what reasons they seem to bring forward for their discontent: whether for instance, they wish to serve the Eutychian heresy by such madness, or whether they are irreconcilably vexed that their bishop could have been misled into that blasphemy, whereby, in spite of the very associations of the holy spots, from which issued instruction for the whole world, he has alienated himself from the Truth of the Lordís Incarnation, and in their opinion that cannot be venial in him which in others had to be wiped out by absolution. And therefore I desire lobe more fully informed about these things that proper means may he taken for their correction; because it is one thing to arm oneself wickedly against the Faith, and another thing to be immoderately disturbed on behalf of it. You must know, too, that the documents which Aetius the presbyter told me before had been dispatched, and the epitome of the Faith which you say you have sent, have not yet arrived. Hence, if an opportunity offers itself of a more expeditious messenger, I shall be glad for any information that may seem expedient to be sent me as soon as possible. I am anxious to know about the monks of Egypt3 , whether they have regained their peacefulness and their faith, and about the church of Alexandria, what trustworthy tidings reaches you: I wish you to know what I wrote to its bishop or his ordainers, or the clergy, and have therefore sent you a copy of the letter. You will learn also what I have said to our most clement Prince and our most religious Empress from the copies sent.
IV. He Asks for a Latin Translation of the Act of Chalcedon.
I wish to know whether my letter4 has been delivered to you, brother, which I sent you by Basil the deacon, upon the Faith of the Lordís Incarnation, while Flavian of holy memory was still alive; for I fancy you have never made any comment on its contents. We have no very clear information about the acts of the Synod, which were drawn up at the time of the council at Chalcedon, on account of the difference of language5 . And therefore i specially enjoin upon you, brother, that you have the whole collected into one volume, accurately translated of course into Latin, that we may not be in doubt on any portion of the proceedings, and that there may be no manner of uncertainty after you have taken pains to bring it fully within my understanding. Dated March 11th, in the consulship of the illustrious Opilio (453).
1 Servatorum. I am not sure whether this is the right sense; others read multorum.
2 In Lett. CXI., chap. ii., he is said to have been coemeterio deputatis, and, according to Quesnel, when the cemeteries (or catacombs) had no longer to be used as refuges for the persecuted Christians, the custom had grown up of putting priests in charge to perpetuate the memory of the martyrs therein buried; in process of time, when love grew cold, this was looked upon as a sort of exile, and an onerous duty in consequence).
3 There had been riots among the monks of Egypt about the appointment of Proterius as bishop, instead of Dioscorus, deposed.
4 This is Letter XXXV. (q.v)..
5 It is, of course, well known that Leo knew no Greek whatever).
(In answer to their Letter (XCVIII)., approving of their acts in the general so long as nothing is contrary to the canons of Nicaea).
(Congratulating him upon the restoration of peace to the Church, and the suppression of the riotous monks; giving his consent also, as a liege subject of the Emperorís, to the acts of Chalcedon, and asking him to make this known to the Synod).
(Commending her pious zeal and informing her of Iris assent to the acts of Chalcedon).
Leo to Julian the bishop.
I. He Wishes His Assent to the Act of Chalcedon to Be Widely Known.
How watchfully and how devotedly you guard the catholic Faith, brother, the tenor of your letter shows, and my anxiety is greatly relieved by the information it contains; supplemented as it is by the most religious piety of our religious Emperor, which is clearly shown to be prepared by the Lord for the confirmation of the whole Church; so that, whilst Christian princes act for the Faith with holy zeal, the priests of the Lord may confidently pray for their realm.
What therefore our most clement Emperor deemed needful I have willingly complied with, by sending letters to all the brethren who were present at the Synod of Chalcedon, in which to show that I approved of what was resolved upon by our holy brethren about the Rule of Faith; on their account to wit, who in order to cloke their own treachery, pretend to consider invalid or doubtful such conciliar ordinances as are not ratified by my assent albeit, after the return of the brethren whom I had sent in my stead, I dispatched a letter to the bishop of Constantinople; so that, if he had been minded to publish it, abundant proof might have been furnished thereby how gladly I approved of what the synod had passed concerning the Faith. But, because it contained such an answer as would have run counter to his self-seeking, he preferred my acceptance of the brethrenís resolutions to remain unknown, lest at the same time my reply should become known on the absolute authority of the Nicene canons. Wherefore take heed, beloved, that you warn our most gracious prince by frequent reminders that he add his words to ours and order the letter of the Apostolic See to be sent round to the priests of each single province, that hereafter no enemy of the Truth may venture to excuse himself under cover of my silence.
II. He Expresses His Thanks for the Zeal Shown by the Emperor and the Empress.
And as to the edict of the most Christian Emperor, in which he has shown what the ignorant folly of certain monks deserved and as to the reply of the most gracious Augusta, in which she rebuked the heads of the monasteries, I wish my great rejoicing to be known, being assured that this fervour of faith is bestowed upon them by Divine inspiration, in order that all men may acknowledge their superiority to rest not only on their royal state but also on their priestly holiness: whom both now and formerly I have asked to treat you with full confidence, being assured of their good will, and that they will not refuse to give ear to necessary suggestions.
III. He Wishes to Know the Effect of His Letter to the Empress Eudocia.
And, because the most clement Emperor has been pleased to charge me secretly by our son Paulus with the task of admonishing our daughter the most clement Augusta Eudocia1 , I have done what he wished, in order that from my letter she may learn how profitable it will be to her if she espouses the cause of the catholic Faith, and have managed that she should further be admonished by a letter from that most clement prince her son; nothing doubting that she herself, too, will set to work with pious zeal to bring the leaders of sedition to a knowledge of the consequences of their action, and, if they understand not the utterances of those who teach them, to make them at least afraid of the powers of those who will punish them. And so what effect this care of ours produces, I with to know at once by a letter from you, beloved, and whether their ignorant contumacy has at length subsided: as to which if they think there is any doubt about our teaching, let them at least not reject the writings of such holy priests as Athanasius, Theophilus and Cyril of Alexandria, with whom our statement of the Faith so completely harmonizes that any one who professes consent to them disagrees in nothing with us.
IV. Aetius Must Be Content at Present with the Emperorís Favour.
With our son Aetius2 the presbyter we sympathize in his sorrow; and, as one has been put into his place who had previously been judged worthy of censure, there is no doubt that this change tends to the injury of catholics. But these things must be borne patiently meanwhile, lest we should be thought to exceed the measure of our usual moderation, and for the present Aetius must be content with the encouragement of our most clement princeís favour, to whom I have but lately so commended him by letter that I doubt not his good repute has been increased in their most religious minds.
V. Anatalius Shows No Contrition in His Subsequent Acts.
This too we would have you know, that bishop Anatolius after our prohibition so persisted in his rash presumption as to call upon the bishops of Illyricum to subscribe their names: this news was brought us by the bishop who was sent by the bishop of Thessalonica3 to announce his consecration. We have declined to write to Anatolius about this, although you might have expected us to do so, because we perceived he did not wish to be reformed. I have made two versions of my letter to the Synod, one with a copy of my letter to Anatolius subjoined, one without it; leaving it to your judgment to deliver the one which you think ought to be given to our most clement prince and to keep the other. Dated 21st March, in the consulship of the illustrious Opilio (453).
1 This is Eudocia, the widow of Theodosius II., and the Prince, her son, mentioned below, is Valentinianus III., who had married her daughter Eudoxia. The letter of Leo here mentioned is probably not Letter CXXIII. below. For a graphic sketch of the elder lady see Goreís Life of Leo, pp. 131, 2).
2 Cf. Letter CXIII. above.
3 This is Euxitheus, the successor of Anastasius: Letter CL. is addressed to him.
(In which, after speaking of his own efforts for the Faith, he objects to monks being permitted to preach, especially if heretically inclined, and asks Julian to stir up the Emperorís zeal for the Faith).
Leo to Maximus of Antioch.
I. The Faith is the Mean Between the Two Extremes of Eutyches and Nestorius.
How much, beloved, you have at heart the most sacred unity of our common Faith and the tranquil harmony of the Churchís peace, the substance of your letter shows, which was brought me by our sons, Marian the presbyter and Olympius the deacon, and which was the more welcome to us because thereby we can join as it were in conversation, and thus the grace of God becomes more and more known and greater joy is felt through the whole world over the revelation of catholic Truth. And yet we are sore grieved at some who still (so your messengers indicate) love their darkness; and though the brightness of day has arisen everywhere, even still delight in the obscurity of their blindness, and abandoning the Faith, remain Christians in only the empty name, without knowledge to discern one error from another, and to distinguish the blasphemy of Nestorius from the impiety of Eutyches. For no delusion of theirs can appear excusable, because they contradict themselves in their perverseness. For, though Eutychesí disciples abhor Nestorius, and the followers of Nestorius anathematize Eutyches, yet in the judgment of catholics both sides are condemned and both heresies alike are cut away from the body of the Church: because neither falsehood can be in unison with us. Nor does it matter in which direction of blasphemy they disagree with the truth of the Lordís Incarnation, since their erroneous opinions hold neither with the authority of the Gospel nor with the significance of the mystery1 .
II. Maximus is to Keep the Churches of the East Free from These Two Opposite Heresies.
And therefore, beloved brother, you must with all your heart consider over which church the Lord has set you to preside, and remember that system of doctrine of which the chief of all the Apostles, the blessed Peter, laid the foundation, not only by his uniform preaching throughout the world, but especially by his teaching in the cities of Antioch and Rome: so that you may understand that he demands of him who is set over the home of his own renown those institutions which he handed down, as he received them from the Truth Itself, which he confessed. And in the churches of the East, and especially in those which the canons of the most holy Fathers at Nicaea2 assigned to the See of Antioch, you must not by any means allow unscrupulous heretics to make assaults on the Gospel, and the dogmas of either Nestorius or Eutyches to be maintained by any one. Since, as I have said, the rock (petra) of the catholic Faith, from which the blessed Apostle Peter took his name at the Lordís hands, rejects every trace of either heresy; for it openly and clearly anathematizes Nestorius for separating the nature of the Word and of the flesh in the blessed Virginís conception, for dividing the one Christ into two, and for wishing to distinguish between the person of the Godhead and the person of the Manhood: because He is altogether one and the same who in His eternal Deity was born of the Father without time, and in His true flesh was born of His mother in time; and similarly it eschews Eutyches for ignoring the reality of the human flesh in the Lord Jesus Christ, and asserting the transformation of the Word Himself into flesh, so that His birth, nurture, growth, suffering, death and burial, and resurrection on the third day, all belonged to His Deity only, which put on not the reality but the semblance of the form of a slave.
III. Antioch as the Third See in Christendom is to Retain Her Privileges.
And so it behoves you to use the utmost vigilance, lest these depraved heretics dare to assert themselves; for you must resist them with all the authority of priests, and frequently inform us by your reports what is being done for the progress of the churches. For it is right that you should share this responsibility with the Apostolic See, and realize that the privileges of the third See in Christendom3 give you every confidence in action, privileges which no intrigues shall in any way impair: because my respect for the Nicene canons is such that I never have allowed nor ever will the institutions of the holy Fathers to be violated by any innovation. For different sometimes as are the deserts of individual prelates, yet the rights of their Sees are permanent: and although rivalry may perchance cause some disturbance about them, yet it cannot impair their dignity. Wherefore, brother, if ever you consider any action ought to be taken to uphold the privileges of the church of Antioch, be sure to explain it in a letter of your own, that we may be able to reply to your application completely and appropriately.
IV. Anatoliusí Attempts to Subvert the Decisions of Nicaea are Futile.
But at the present time let it be enough to make a general proclamation on all points, that if in any synod any one makes any attempt upon or seems to take occasion of wresting an advantage against the provisions of the Nicene canons, he can inflict no discredit upon their inviolable decrees: and it will be easier for the compacts of any conspiracy to be broken through than for the regulations of the aforesaid canons to be in any particular invalidated. For intrigue loses no opportunity of stealing an advantage, and whenever the course of things brings about a general assembly of priests, it is difficult for the greediness of the unscrupulous not to try to gain some unfair point: just as in the Synod of Ephesus which overthrew the blasphemous Nestorius with his dogma, bishop Juvenal believed that he was capable of holding the presidency of the province of Palestine, and ventured to rally the insubordinate by a lying letter4 . At which Cyril of blessed memory, bishop of Alexandria, being properly dismayed, pointed out in his letter to me5 to what audacity the otherís cupidity had led him: and with anxious entreaty begged me hard that no assent should be given his unlawful attempts. For be it known to you that we found the original document of Cyrilís letter which was sought for in our book-case, and of which you sent us copies. On this, however, my judgment lays especial stress that, although a majority of priests through the wiliness of some came to a decision which is found opposed to those constitutions of the 318 fathers, it must be considered void on principles of justice: since the peace of the whole Church cannot otherwise be preserved, except due respect be invariably shown to the canons.
V. If Leoís Legates in Any Way Exceeded Their Instructions, They Did So Ineffectually.
Of course, if anything is alleged to have been done by those brethren whom I sent in my stead to the holy Synod, beyond that which was germane to the Faith, it shall he of no weight at all: because they were sent by the Apostolic See only for the purpose of extirpating heresy and upholding the catholic Faith. For whatever is laid before bishops for inquiry beyond the particular subjects which come before synodal councils may admit of a certain amount of free discussion, if the holy Fathers have laid down nothing thereon at Nicaea. For anything that is not in agreement with their rules and constitutions can never obtain the assent of the Apostolic See. But how great must be the diligence with which this rule is kept, you will gather from the copies of the letter which we sent to the bishop of Constantinople, restraining his cupidity; and you shall take order that it reach the knowledge of all our brethren and fellow-priests.
VI. No One But Priests are Allowed to Preach.
This too it behaves you, beloved, to guard against, that no one except those who are the Lordís priests dare to claim the right of teaching or preaching, be he monk or layman6 , who boasts himself of some knowledge. Because although it is desirable that all the Churchís sons should understand the things which are right and sound, yet it is permitted to none outside the priestly rank to assume the office of preacher, since in the Church of God all things ought to be orderly, that in Christís one body the more excellent members should fulfil their own duties, and the lower not resist the higher. Dated the 11th of June, in the consulship of the illustrious Opilio (453).
1 Ratio sacramenti.
2 These were apparently twenty in number, but include no very important towns except Seleucia the seaport of Antioch).
3 Privilegia tertioe sedis). Leo here still assigns to Antioch the third place in order of precedence, Rome and Alexandria being first and second respectively; but since 381, as we have seen, e.g. in Lett. XCVIII., chap. iv.. it had been lowered to the 4th I..ce by the insertion of Constantinople between Rome and Alexandria: see Schaffís Hist., Vol. II. ß 56, pp. 277 and following, and Goreís Leo, pp. 119 and foll.
4 It is a curious fact in the history of Church government that the bishopric of Jerusalem for the first centuries never had the first place in Palestine: this was assigned to the metropolitan of Coesarea, although on great occasions the Bishop of Jerusalem sat next to the patriarch of Antioch: cf. Schaffís Hist., Vol. II. 56, p. 283, and the viith. Nicene canon: mos antiquus obtineat ut Aelioe, id est Ierosolymoe, episcopus honoretur salva metroplois propria dignitate.
5 The Ballerinii point out that the 1st Council of Ephesus was held in 431, at which Cyril presided for Celestinus I. of Rome and that Leo was not bishop till 44; this letter was probably, addressed to him when archdeacon of Rome, in which case the authority which he had already gained is remarkably illustrated).
6 See Lett. CXX., chap. vi., note
Leo the Great: letters 1107