SELECTIONS FROM EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITERS: ILLUSTRATIVE OF CHURCH HISTORY TO THE TIME OF CONSTANTINE by Henry Melvill Gwatkin, M.A. First Edition, Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1893. Reprinted with additions and corrections, 1897, 1902, 1905. Prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram, 2013.
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XLI. TERTULLIAN, de Praescr. 41.

Disorderly Worship of Heretics

Non omittam ipsius etiam conversationis haereticae descriptionem, quam futilis, quam terrena, quam humana sit, sine gravitate, sine auctoritate, sine disciplina, ut fidei suae congruens. Inprimis quis catechumenus, quis fidelis, incertum est; pariter adeunt, pariter audiunt, pariter orant, etiam ethnici, si supervenerint; sanctum canibus et porcis margaritas, licet non veras, iactabunt. Simplicitatem volunt esse prostrationem disciplinae, cuius penes nos curam lenocinium vocant. Pacem quoque passim cum omnibus miscent. Nihil enim interest illis, licet diversa tractantibus, dum ad unius veritatis expugnationem conspirent. Omnes scientiam pollicentur. Ante sunt perfecti catechumeni, quam edocti. Ipsae mulieres haereticae, quam procaces! quae audeant docere, contendere, exorcismos agere, curationes repromittere, forsitan et tingere. Ordinationes eorum temerariae, leves, inconstantes. Nunc neophytos collocant, nunc saeculo obstrictos, nunc apostatas nostros, ut gloria eos obligent, quia veritate non possunt. Nusquam facilius proficitur, quam in castris rebellium, ubi ipsum esse illic, promereri est. Itaque alius hodie episcopus, eras alius; hodie diaconus, qui eras lector; hodie presbyter, qui eras laicus; nam et laicis sacerdotalia munera iniungunt.

I will not leave out a description of the conduct also of the heretics – how empty it is, how earthly, how merely human, without sobriety, without impressiveness, without discipline – as suits their faith. In the first place, who is catechumen and who faithful, is doubtful. They all come up alike, all hear, all pray alike – heathens too, if they come in. That which is holy they will cast to the dogs, and their pearls (though they are but shams) to the swine. They will have it that simplicity means the destruction of discipline, and the care of it with us they call pandering. Peace, too, they mix up at random with all comers; for with all their differences of thinking they care for nothing so long as they are agreed on assailing the one single Truth. They all promise knowledge. The catechumens are perfect before they are fully taught. The very women of the heretics – how pert they are! For they have the impudence to teach to wrangle, to perform exorcisms, to undertake healings, possibly even to baptize. Their ordinations are random, capricious, unsettled. Sometimes they appoint novices, sometimes secular officials, sometimes renegades of ours, in order to bind them by vain-glory, for by truth they cannot. Nowhere is promotion easier than in the camp of rebels, where the mere faet of being there is a merit. Thus one man is bishop to-day, another to-morrow: he is deacon to-day who to-morrow is reader, and he is presbyter to-day who to-morrow is layman; for even on laymen they impose priestly functions.

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