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The Post-Nicene Greek Fathers

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The orthodox Arian! No better phrase could perhaps be chosen to define Cyril's position among the rationalizing believers of his day. He was born early in the fourth century, and his younger life was passed in Jerusalem. He was made bishop A. D. 350, having previously officiated as a priest at Jerusalem, and having there delivered the Catechetical Lectures which constitute his title to remembrance as an author. There was much controversy over Cyril's true position in the Church. One of his consecrators had been Acacius, Bishop of Csesarea, leader of the extreme party among the Arians; and it was charged by Cyril's enemies that he obtained his see as the price of his concessions to the Arians, who at the death of his predecessor had seized upon the church at Jerusalem. Moreover, Cyril's party at first repudiated the action of the Council of Sardica, as did the Arians. On the other hand, the Second General Council declared his consecration canonical, while his lectures were so nearly in accord with the received orthodox opinions that no one not acquainted with the nice points of distinction would suspect that he differed from the majority of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan confessors. Being one of those men who, in times of heated controversy, have the (for themselves) unhappy faculty of seeing truth on both sides, he was persecuted by the Arians as too orthodox, and branded by the orthodox as Arianizing. His real position was among the conservative and religious members of the semi-Arian party with whom even Athanasius was willing, in his later life, to commune, and whom he acknowledged as "most holy men," differing from the orthodox only in the choice of a word. His experience was like that of Athanasius in being repeatedly driven from his see by the Arians. He sat as a lawful bishop in the Council of Constantinople, which commended him as "most reverend and religious," and as "a withstander of the Arians." He died A. D. 386. His only extant writings of any moment are the Catechetical Lectures. Unlike many of the ancient works on theology, they are by no means antiquated, and, barring some few crudities due to the writer's age, might profitably be read today as a text-book upon Christian doctrines. The appended lectures on the Mysteries are of considerable value as registering the development of the church ritual in the middle of the fourth century.



Introductory Address to the Candidates for Baptism.

Honesty of purpose alone will make you called; without this your bodily presence and baptism will be nothing. Simon Magus was baptized, but he was not enlightened. You may have come here because you are paying court to some one; still, having come, do you remain for a better end. Prepare as for thy wedding. Attend diligently to the catechisings, for they will be thy armor. Baptism is ransom and remission, the death of sin. Beware ye of unbelief.

Lecture 1. The Purpose of Mind necessary.

You are to beware of hypocrisy; to abandon the world; to forgive all. Though remission of sin may come to all in baptism, the communion of the Holy Spirit will be according to your faith.

2. The Power of Repentance.

Sin, being a self-chosen evil, though fearful, is not incurable. Not nature alone, but also the devil, once an archangel, prompts to sin. But the lost may be saved through the blood of Him who died for us. Even multiplied sins find forgiveness upon repentance, as is shown in God's mercy to Adam, Rahab, David, Nebuchadnezzar, Peter, and others. Do you then heartily confess your sins.

3. Holy Baptism.

Baptism is an occasion of joy and of solemnity. For baptism, both by water and by the Spirit, is necessary, that even the virtuous may enter heaven. Dead in sin thou goest down into the water; quickened in righteousness thou comest up. Thou art then equipped to wrestle, being purified, and having received the Holy Ghost.

4. Ten Points of Faith.

1. There is one only God the Father. 2. Like to him in all things, not separate from or confused with him, is Christ; from everlasting God's Wisdom, and Power, and Righteousness, the Artificer of all things. 3. Who was truly made flesh, and was man and God; was truly crucified and buried; and who rose the third day, and ascended into heaven. 4. He will come again in glory. 5. Coordinate with Father and Son is the Holy Ghost. 6. Thou art thyself soul and body, and thy soul is free and immortal. 7. Thy body, as thy soul, is from God, and is to be kept pure. 8. All shall rise from the dead; the just to praise God eternally, the wicked to suffer everlasting torment. 9. The Lord has given to us the laver of regeneration. 10. All these things are taught in the Divine Scriptures, composed of the Old and the New Testaments.

5. Faith.

Great dignity is now conferred upon you in your promotion among the faithful. Faith is not peculiar to Christians, but is exercised by all who accomplish important ends. Faith is of two kinds: 1. An acquiescence in God's message; this will save the believer. 2. A special gift, by which we may accomplish great works. Cherish thou the first, that Christ may bestow upon thee the second.

6. God the One Principle.

In place of the one God, heathens and heretics have recognized two principles, one of good and one of evil; have distinguished between the good God and the just God; and have otherwise degraded the divine idea. But fold thou with the sheep.

7. God the Father.

God is eternally and by nature the Father of the Only-Begotten. Though allowing us men to call him "our Father," he is such only through our adoption.

8. God's Sovereignty.

God is truly Almighty. It is only by sufferance that the devil has power against the good.

9. God the Creator.

God the Artificer, the Contriver, is to be seen by us in all his wonderful works.

10. Our Lord Jesus Christ.

That Christ was Lord with the Father before his incarnation is proved by the Old Testament. He was called Jesus because he saves; Christ because of his priesthood. The "new name" of the prophet is "Christian."

11. The Only-Begotten eternally, the Creator.

Christ is the Son of God in the true sense, that is by nature, and not by adoption, like men. His generation was apart from all time. He is very God, not foreign to the Father, not separated from him or confused with him. He did not begin to be at Bethlehem, but he is eternally. He is the sovereign Creator by the will of the Father.

12. The Incarnation.

The wound of man's nature through sin was sore, and God sent his Son to be our physician. He came in the flesh because we could not endure the sight of God. All the prophetic signs were fulfilled in him, including those of time, place, and Virgin mother.

13. The Crucifixion and Burial.

Christ was crucified, being himself sinless — the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world — and was laid in the tomb, all of which was before prophesied. The cross, then, is the foundation of our faith. The very sign of the cross now has mighty power.

14. The Resurrection, Ascension, and Exaltation.

The resurrection of the Lord the third day was in accordance with the Scripture, which had foretold its time and place. "While in Hades he had redeemed the just." Of the resurrection there are many witnesses. The ascension and the exaltation at the right hand of God were also matters of prophecy.

15. Second Coming, Judgment, and Reign of Christ.

Our Lord will come in glory at the end of the world, and will gather all nations to judgment. Many signs must precede — divisions, antichrist, etc., some of which have appeared; and I am fearful we should be watching. Prepare ye for the terrible judgment by good works. The reign of Christ thus begun shall be without end, despite all questionings.

16. The Holy Ghost.

As there is one only God the Father, and one only-begotten Son and Word of God, so there is one only Holy Ghost the Comforter, a living, intelligent Being, of a divine and unsearchable nature, the sanctifying principle of all things made by God through Christ. "Our hope is in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. We preach not three Gods—let the Marcionites be mute—but we preach one God, by one Son, with the Holy Ghost. The faith is indivisible; religious worship is undistracted. We neither divide the Holy Trinity like some, nor do we, as Sabellians, introduce confusion. But we know, according to godliness, one Father, who sent his Son to be our Saviour; we know one Son, who promised that he would send the Comforter from the Father; we know the Holy Ghost, who spoke in the prophets, and who on the day of Pentecost descended on the Apostles in the form of fiery tongues here in Jerusalem, in the Upper Church of the Apostles." The Holy Ghost is the suggester of all good, the teacher of the church, the comforter of believers. Before the day of Pentecost the Spirit was only partially bestowed — on prophets, judges, etc., as on Daniel.

17. The Holy Ghost in the New Testament.

The Holy Ghost possesses, and invests, and infuses the souls of believers, being the personal, hallowing power in them of understanding. He is present in baptism, but only if thou come sincerely.

18. The Resurrection and the Holy Catholic Church.

The doctrine of the resurrection is the spring of hope to the church. To all objections thereto we allege God's power, and also cite the analogies of the springing grain, the phoenix, etc., as well as the examples of rising from the dead found in Scriptures. We say Catholic because the Church is throughout the whole world, teaching everywhere one doctrine, and all the doctrines; and because it subjugates all classes of men. We say Church, as assembling men together. We call it Holy, as distinguished from all wicked assemblies. This Church of God, which once furnished martyrs, now extends its sovereignty throughout the whole world. Trained in the Church, we shall attain unto life everlasting. Amen.



Subsequent to the baptism of the candidates to whom the above lectures were given, Cyril delivered to them five lectures "On the Mysteries," in which he explains the rites by which they have been admitted to fellowship in the church. He dwells particularly upon the rites of the renunciation of Satan and his works, of anointing with oil, of baptism, of anointing with the holy chrism, and of partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Of the communion service he traces the several steps: the symbolical washing of hands; the kiss of peace; the several summonses of the priest and responses of the people; the prayers, among them the prayers for the dead, and the Lord's Prayer, upon the several petitions of which he comments; the chant, "O taste and see that the Lord is good"; the partaking of the bread and of the wine; and the final prayer and thanksgiving.

The first eighteen lectures were given in the Basilica of the Holy Cross erected by Constantine; the last five in the church upon the site of the Holy Sepulchre.



1. "The Son, therefore, is truly God, having the Father in himself, not changed into the Father; for the Father was not incarnate, but the Son. For let the truth be spoken freely. The Father did not suffer for us; but the Father sent Him who should suffer for us. Nor let us say there was once when the Son was not; nor allow that the Son is the Father; but let us walk in the royal road, swerving neither to the right nor the left. Let us not, with the thought of honoring the Son, call him Father; nor, with the idea of honoring the Father, call the Son one of the creatures. But let the one Father, through the one Son, be worshiped, and let not the worship be separated. Let the one Son be proclaimed, sitting at the right hand of the Father, before the ages: not possessing this seat in time after the passion, as received by promotion; but eternally." — Cat. 11, 6.

2. "And from whence did the Saviour rise? He says in the Song of Songs, 'Rise up, my love, and come away'; and afterward, 'in the cleft of the rock.' The 'cleft of the rock' is what he calls the cleft which was at the door of the sepulchre, and out of the rock itself, as is the custom here with rock-hewn sepulchres. Now, indeed, it does not appear, because the entrance was cut away on account of the present adornment. For, before this decoration of the sepulchre through royal zeal, there was a cleft in the front of the rock. But where is the rock which had the cleft? does it lie in the midst of the city, or near the walls and the outskirts? Or is it inside the ancient walls, or the outer walls built afterward? He says in the Songs, 'In the cleft of the rock near the outer wall." — Cat. 14, 4.

3. "Death was terror-struck seeing a new visitant descending into hell, not bound with the chains thereof. Wherefore, O keepers of the gates of hell, were you terrified, seeing him? What unbounded fear seized upon you? Death fled, and the flight betrayed his cowardice. The holy prophets ran to him, Moses the legislator, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, David, and Samuel, and Isaiah, and John the Baptist, who spoke and bore witness, ' Art Thou he that should come, or do we look for another? ' All the holy whom death had devoured were redeemed. For it was fitting that the King who had been heralded should be the redeemer of his noble heralds. Then each of the just said: 'O death, where is thy victory? O grave, where is thy sting? For the Conqueror hath redeemed us.'" — Cat. 14, 10.

4. "Then we commemorate those who have slept before us, first patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, that God, on account of their prayers and interventions, may hear our petition. Then for the holy fathers and bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and for all who in time past have slept among us we pray, believing that it will be of the greatest advantage to the souls for whom prayer is offered, while the holy and awful sacrifice is presented. "And I would persuade you by an illustration. I know that many say, 'What is a soul profited which has departed from this world, either with or without sins, if it be commemorated in prayer? ' Now, if a king should send into exile certain who had offended him, and afterward their friends weaving a crown should offer it in behalf of those banished, would he not grant a reprieve to those punished? In the same manner also we, offering prayers to Him for those who have slept, although they be sinners, do not indeed weave a crown, but offer up Christ, sacrificed for our sin, propitiating Him who is merciful both toward them and ourselves "(Mys. 5:6, 7). Compare, however, the following: "And if it be said, "The dead do not praise Thee, O Lord,' this indicates that, repentance and forgiveness having their appointed time in this life only, for which they who enjoy the privilege 'praise Thee' [the Lord], after death it no longer remains to those who are in sin to give praise as the receivers of blessings, but to bewail. For praise is theirs who give thanks; but to those who are under the lash is lamentation. Therefore the just shall then give praise; but those who have died in sin have no season left for confession." — Cat. 18, 7.

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