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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LVIII. CYPRIAN, Ep.67.


Appointment of Bishops


Propter quod [Num.xvi.26] plebs obsequens praeceptis dominicis et Deum metuens a peccatore praeposito separare se debet, nec se ad sacrilegi sacerdotis sacrificia miscere, quando ipsa maxime habeat potestatem vel eligendi dignos sacerdotes vel indignos recusandi. Quod et ipsum videmus et divina auctoritate descendere, ut sacerdos plebe praesente sub omnium oculis deligatur et dignus atque idoneus publico iudicio ac testimonio conprobetur, sicut in Numeris Dominus Moysi praecipit dicens [Num.xx.25, 26]. Coram omni synagoga iubet Deus constitui sacerdotem, id est instruit et ostendit ordinationes sacerdotales non nisi sub populi adsistentis conscientia fieri oportere, ut plebe praesente vel detegantur malorum crimina vel bonorum merita praedicentur et sit ordinatio iusta et legitima quae omnium suffragio et iudicio fuerit examinata. ... Propter quod diligenter de traditione divina et apostolica observatione servandum est et tenendum quod apud nos quoque et fere per provincias universas tenetur, ut ad ordinationes rite celebrandas ad earn plebem cui praepositus ordinatur episcopi eiusdem provinciae proximi quique conveniant et episcopus deligatur plebe praesente, quae singulorum vitam plenissime novit et uniuscuiusque actum de eius conversatione perspexit.

On which account [Num.xvi.26] a people obedient to the Lord's precepts, and fearing God, ought to separate themselves from a sinful prelate, and not to associate themselves with the sacrifices of a sacrilegious priest, especially since they themselves have the power either of choosing worthy priests, or of rejecting unworthy ones. Which very thing, too, we observe to come from divine authority, that the priest should be chosen in the presence of the people under the eyes of all, and should be approved worthy and suitable by public judgement and testimony ; as in the book of Numbers the Lord commanded Moses, saying [Num.xx.25, 26]. God commands a priest to be appointed in the presence of all the assembly; that is, He instructs and shows that the ordination of priests ought not to be solemnized except with the knowledge of the people standing near, that in the presence of the people either the crimes of the wicked may be disclosed, or the merits of the good may be declared, and the ordination, which shall have been examined by the suffrage and judgement of all, may be just and legitimate. ... For which reason you must diligently observe and keep the practice delivered from divine tradition and Apostolic observance, which is also maintained among us, and almost throughout all the provinces ; that for the proper celebration of ordinations all the neighbouring bishops of the same province should assemble with that people for which a prelate is ordained ; and the bishop should be chosen in the presence of the people, who have most fully known the life of each one, and have looked into the doings of each one as respects his habitual conduct.

A.N.L.


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