Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Ante-Nicene Fathers

This moved me today:
Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I: "And what had become of the disciples who were the first-fruits of the apostolic ministry? St. Paul had said, 'The same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.' How was this injunction realized? St. Peter's touching words come to mind, 'I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.' Was this endeavour successfully carried out? To these natural and pious inquiries, the Apostolic Fathers, though we have a few specimens only of their fidelity, give an emphatic reply. If the cold-hearted and critical find no charm in the simple, childlike faith which they exhibit, ennobled though it be by heroic devotion to the Master, we need not marvel. Such would probably object: 'They teach me nothing; I do not relish their multiplied citations from Scripture.' The answer is, 'If you are familiar with Scripture, you owe it largely to these primitive witnesses to its Canon and its spirit. By their testimony we detect what is spurious, and we identify what is real. Is it nothing to find that your Bible is their Bible, your faith their faith, your Saviour their Saviour, your God their God? 'Let us reflect also, that, when copies of the entire Scriptures were rare and costly, these citations were 'words fitly spoken,-apples of gold in pictures of silver.' We are taught by them also that they obeyed the apostles precept, 'Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing,' etc. Thus they reflect the apostolic care that men should be raised up able to teach others also. "

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