Topical Reference to the Beliefs of the Church Fathers by Dave Armstrong Part 5

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The Indefectibility of the Catholic Church

“But [it has, on the other hand, been shown], that the preaching of the Church is everywhere consistent, and continues in an even course, and receives testimony from the prophets, the apostles, and all the disciples–as I have proved–through [those in] the beginning, the middle, and the end, and through the entire dispensation of God, and that well-grounded system which tends to man’s salvation, namely, our faith; which, having been received from the Church, we do preserve, and which always, by the Spirit of God, renewing its youth, as if it were some precious deposit in an excellent vessel, causes the vessel itself containing it to renew its youth also. For this gift of God has been entrusted to the Church, as breath was to the first created man, for this purpose, that all the members receiving it may be vivified; and the [means of] communion with Christ has been distributed throughout it, that is, the Holy Spirit, the earnest of incorruption, the means of confirming our faith, and the ladder of ascent to God. ‘For in the Church,” it is said, “God hath set apostles, prophets, teachers,’ and all the other means through which the Spirit works; of which all those are not partakers who do not join themselves to the Church, but defraud themselves of life through their perverse opinions and infamous behaviour. For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church, and every kind of grace; but the Spirit is truth.”
Irenaeus,Against Heresies,3:24 (A.D. 180),in ANF,I:458

“But I shall pray the Spirit of Christ to wing me to my Jerusalem. For the Stoics say that heaven is properly a city, but places here on earth are not cities; for they are called so, but are not. For a city is an important thing, and the people a decorous body, and a multitude of men regulated by law as the church by the word–a city on earth impregnable–free from tyranny; a product of the divine will on earth as in heaven.”
Clement of Alexandria,Stromata,4:26(A.D. 202),in ANF,II:441

“And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail…”
Origen,On John,5(A.D. 232),in ANF,X:346

“[F]or the rock is inaccessible to the serpent, and it is stronger than the gates of Hades which are opposing it, so that because of its strength the gates of Hades do not prevail against it; but the church, as a building of Christ who built His own house wisely upon the rock, is incapable of admitting the gates of Hades which prevail against every man who is outside the rock and the church, but have no power against it.”
Origen,On Matthew,12:11(A.D. 244),in ANF,X:457

“But we who hope for the Son of God are persecuted and trodden down by those unbelievers. For the wings of the vessels are the churches; and the sea is the world, in which the Church is set, like a ship tossed in the deep, but not destroyed; for she has with her the skilled Pilot, Christ. And she bears in her midst also the trophy (which is erected) over death; for she carries with her the cross of the Lord. For her prow is the east, and her stern is the west, and her hold is the south, and her tillers are the two Testaments; and the ropes that stretch around her are the love of Christ, which binds the Church; and the net which she bears with her is the layer of the regeneration which renews the believing, whence too are these glories. As the wind the Spirit from heaven is present, by whom those who believe are sealed: she has also anchors of iron accompanying her, viz., the holy commandments of Christ Himself, which are strong as iron. She has also mariners on the right and on the left, assessors like the holy angels, by whom the Church is always governed and defended. The ladder in her leading up to the sailyard is an emblem of the passion of Christ, which brings the faithful to the ascent of heaven. And the top-sails aloft upon the yard are the company of prophets, martyrs, and apostles, who have entered into their rest in the kingdom of Christ.”
Hippolytus,Christ and AntiChrist,59(A.D. 200),in ANF,V:216-217

“The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous; she is uncorrupted and pure. She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God. She appoints the sons whom she has born for the kingdom. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress, is separated from the promises of the Church; nor can he who forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is a stranger; he is profane; he is an enemy. He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother. If any one could escape who was outside the ark of Noah, then he also may escape who shall be outside of the Church. The Lord warns, saying, ‘He who is not with me is against me, and he who gathereth not with me scattereth.’ He who breaks the peace and the concord of Christ, does so in opposition to Christ; he who gathereth elsewhere than in the Church, scatters the Church of Christ. The Lord says, ‘I and the Father are one;’ and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, ‘And these three are one.’ And does any one believe that this unity which thus comes from the divine strength and coheres in celestial sacraments, can be divided in the Church, and can be separated by the parting asunder of opposing wills? He who does not hold this unity does not hold God’s law, does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, does not hold life and salvation.”
Cyprian,On Unity,6(A.D. 251),in ANF,V:423

“From which things it is evident that all the prophets declared concerning Christ, that it should come to pass at some time, that being born with a body of the race of David, He should build an eternal temple in honour of God, which is called the Church, and assemble all nations to the true worship of God. This is the faithful house, this is the everlasting temple; and if any one hath not sacrificed in this, he will not have the reward of immortality. And since Christ was the builder of this great and eternal temple, He must also have an everlasting priesthood in it; and there can be no approach to the shrine of the temple, and to the sight of God, except through Him who built the temple. David in the cixth Psalm teaches the same, saying: ‘Before the morning-star I begat Thee. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent; Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec.’ “
Lactantius,Divine Institutes,4:14(A.D. 310),in ANF,VII:113

“And besides, also, one only Catholic and Apostolic Church, which can never be destroyed, though all the world should seek to make war with it; but it is victorious over every most impious revolt of the heretics who rise up against it. For her Goodman hath confirmed our minds by saying, ‘Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ “
Alexander of Alexandria,Epistle on the Arian Heresy,12(A.D. 321),in ANF,VI:296

“But I trust that the Church, by the light of her doctrine, will so enlighten the world’s vain wisdom, that, even though it accept not the mystery of the faith, it will recognise that in our conflict with heretics we, and not they, are the true representatives of that mystery. For great is the force of truth; not only is it its own sufficient witness, but the more it is assailed the more evident it becomes; the daily shocks which it receives only increase its inherent stability. It is the peculiar property of the Church that when she is buffeted she is triumphant, when she is assaulted with argument she proves herself in the right, when she is deserted by her supporters she holds the field. It is her wish that all men should remain at her side and in her bosom; if it lay with her, none would become unworthy to abide under the shelter of that august mother, none would be cast out or suffered to depart from her calm retreat. But when heretics desert her or she expels them, the loss she endures, in that she cannot save them, is compensated by an increased assurance that she alone can offer bliss. This is a truth which the passionate zeal of rival heresies brings into the clearest prominence. The Church, ordained by the Lord and established by His Apostles, is one for all; but the frantic folly of discordant sects has severed them from her. And it is obvious that these dissensions concerning the faith result from a distorted mind, which twists the words of Scripture into conformity with its opinion, instead of adjusting that opinion to the words of Scripture. And thus, amid the clash of mutually destructive errors, the Church stands revealed not only by her own teaching, but by that of her rivals. They are ranged, all of them, against her; and the very fact that she stands single and alone is her sufficient answer to their godless delusions. The hosts of heresy assemble themselves against her; each of them can defeat all the others, but not one can win a victory for itself. The only victory is the triumph which the Church celebrates over them all.”
Hilary of Poitiers,On the Trinity,7:4(A.D. 359),in NPNF2,IX:119

“[W]e are content with the fact that this is not the teaching of the Catholic Church, nor did the fathers hold this.”
Athanasius,To Epicletus,Epistle 59:3(A.D. 371),in NPNF2,IV:571

” Of old the Psalmist sang, ‘Bless ye God in the congregations, even the Lord, (ye that are) from the fountains of Israel’. But after the Jews for the plots which they made against the Saviour were cast away from His grace, the Saviour built out of the Gentiles a second Holy Church, the Church of us Christians, concerning which he said to Peter, ‘And upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’. And David prophesying of both these, said plainly of the first which was rejected, ‘l have hated the Congregation of evil doers’; but of the second which is built up he says in the same Psalm, ‘Lord, I have loved the beauty of Thine hour’; and immediately afterwards. ‘In the Congregations will I bless thee, O Lord’. For now that the one Church in Judaea is cast off, the Churches of Christ are increased over all the world; and of them it is said in the Psalms, ‘Sing unto the Lord a new song, His praise in the Congregation of Saints’. Agreeably to which the prophet also said to the Jews, ‘I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord Almighty’; and immediately afterwards, ‘For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, My name is glorified among the Gentiles’. Concerning this Holy Catholic Church Paul writes to Timothy, ‘That thou mayest know haw thou oughtest to behave thyself in the House of God, which is the Church of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth'”
Cyril of Jerusalem,Catechetical Lectures,18:25(A.D. 350),in NPNF2,VII:140

“He seems to have designated the tabernacle of the Old Testament a likeness, or a type, and a temporary tabernacle, thereby to intimate that it was to last but for a time, and that, when at last set aside, for it would be substituted the church of Christ, and that this, as being perfect and complete pattern of the heavenly tabernacle, would abide for ever.”
Ephraem,On Exodus,1:2(ante A.D.373),in FOC,223

“An heretical congregation is an adulteress woman: for the Catholic hath never from the beginning left the couch and the chamber of her spouse, nor gone after other and strange lovers. Ye have painted a divorced form in new colours; ye have withdrawn your couch from the old wedlock’ ye have left the body of a mother, the wife of one husband, decking yourselves out with new arts of pleasing, new allurements of corruption.”
Pacian,Epistle 3(ante A.D. 392),in FOC,224

“Such as these have no power against the ark; for holy Noah received a commission, according to the word of the Lord, to secure it;as the Lord said unto him, ‘Thou shalt pitch it within and without’; that he might thereby point out the semblance of the holy church of God, which has that efficacy of pitchm which repells pernicious and destructive and serpent-like doctrines. For where is the smell of pitch, there the snake is unable to remain.”
Epiphanius,Panarion,51(A.D. 377),in FOC,51

“Go thy way, therefore, to my brethren–that is, to those everlasting doors, which, as soon as they see Jesus, are lifted up. Peter is an ‘everlasting door,’ against whom the gates of hell shall not prevail. John and James, the sons of thunder, to wit, are ‘everlasting doom.’ Everlasting are the doors of the Church, where the prophet, desirous to proclaim the praises of Christ, says: ‘That I may tell all thy praises in the gates of the daughter of Sion.’ “
Ambrose,On the Christian Faith,4:26(A.D. 380),in NPNF2,X:265

“Yet, though your greatness terrifies me, your kindness attracts me. From the priest I demand the safe-keeping of the victim, from the shepherd the protection due to the sheep. Away with all that is overweening; let the state of Roman majesty withdraw. My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the cross. As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the church is built! This is the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten. This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. But since by reason of my sins I have betaken myself to this desert which lies between Syria and the uncivilized waste, I cannot, owing to the great distance between us, always ask of your sanctity the holy thing of the Lord. Consequently I here follow the Egyptian confessors who share your faith, and anchor my frail craft under the shadow of their great argosies. I know nothing of Vitalis; I reject Meletius; I have nothing to do with Paulinus. He that gathers not with you scatters; he that is not of Christ is of Antichrist.”
Jerome,To Pope Damasus[regn. A.D. 366-384],Epistle 15:2(A.D. 377),in NPNF2,VI:18

“Do not hold aloof from the Church; for nothing is stronger than the Church. The Church is thy hope, thy salvation, thy refuge. It is higher than the heaven, it is wider than the earth. It never waxes old, but is always in full vigour. Wherefore as significant of its solidity and stability Holy Scripture calls it a mountain: or of its purity a virgin, or of its magnificence a queen; or of its relationship to God a daughter; and to express its productiveness it calls her barren who has borne seven: in fact it employs countless names to represent its nobleness. For as the master of the Church has many names: being called the Father, and the way, and the life, and the light, and the arm, and the propitiation, and the foundation, and the door, and the sinless one, and the treasure, and Lord, and God, and Son, and the only begotten, and the form of God, and the image of God so is it with the Church itself: does one name suffice to present the whole truth? by no means. But for this reason there are countless names, that we may learn something concerning God, though it be but a small part. Even so the Church also is called by many names. She is called a virgin, albeit formerly she was an harlot: for this is the miracle wrought by the Bridegroom, that He took her who was an harlot and hath made her a virgin. Oh! what a new and strange event? With us marriage destroys virginity, but with God marriage hath restored it. With us she who is a virgin, when married, is a virgin no longer: with Christ she who is an harlot, when married, becomes a virgin.”
Chrysostom,Eutropius,2:6(A.D. 399),in NPNF2,IX:256

“It follows after commendation of the Trinity, ‘The Holy Church.’ God is pointed out, and His temple. ‘For the temple of God is holy,’ says the Apostle, ‘which (temple) are ye.’ This same is the holy Church, the one Church, the true Church, the catholic Church, fighting against all heresies: fight, it can: be fought down, it cannot. As for heresies, they went all out of it, like as unprofitable branches pruned from the vine: but itself abideth in its root, in its Vine, in its charity. ‘The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ “
Augustine,Sermon to the Catechumens on the Creed,6:14(A.D. 377),in NPNF1,III:374

” ‘I have raised him up a king with justice, and all his ways are right.’ The ways of Christ are right, and he has built the holy city, that is, the church, wherein also he dwelleth. For he abideth in the saints, and we have become temples of the living God, having Christ within us through the participation of the Holy Spirit. He, therefore, founded a church, himself being the foundation, in which we also, as rich and precious stones, are built into a holy temple, as a dwelling-place for God in the spirit; the church, having Christ for a foundation, and an immovableable support, is perfectly immoveable.”
Cyril of Alexandria, On Isaiah,4(A.D. 429),in FOC,244

” ‘But thou hast upheld me by reason of mine innocence, and hast established me in thy sight for ever.’ This signifies the church in the apostles and prophets; for not philosphers and rhetoricians, but unlearned men and fishermen, upheld of God, founded a church which he has established in his sight forever.”
Arnobius the Younger,On Psalms,40(A.D. 439),in FOC,248-249

“He also denotes, by these men, those who have risen up at divers times against the church, and were not able to overcome it, in accordance with that prohibition of our God and Saviour; ‘For the gates of hell,’ he says, ‘shall not prevail against it.’ “
Theodoret of Cyrus,Interpretation of Psalms,5(A.D. 449),in FOC,246

“But the Church of Christ, the careful and watchful guardian of the doctrines deposited in her charge, never changes anything in them, never diminishes, never adds, does not cut off what is necessary, does not add what is superfluous, does not lose her own, does not appropriate what is another’s, but while dealing faithfully and judiciously with ancient doctrine, keeps this one object carefully in view,–if there be anything which antiquity has left shapeless and rudimentary, to fashion and polish it, if anything already reduced to shape and developed, to consolidate and strengthen it, if any already ratified and defined to keep and guard it. Finally, what other object have Councils ever aimed at in their decrees, than to provide that what was before believed in simplicity should in future be believed intelligently, that what was before preached coldly should in future be preached earnestly, that what was before practised negligently should thenceforward be practised with double solicitude ? This, I say, is what the Catholic Church, roused by the novelties of heretics, has accomplished by the decrees of her Councils,–this, and nothing else,–she has thenceforward consigned to posterity in writing what she had received from those of olden times only by tradition, comprising a great amount of matter in a few words, and often, for the better understanding, designating an old article of the faith by the characteristic of a new name. But let us return to the apostle. ‘O Timothy,’ he says, ‘Guard the deposit,; shunning profane novelties of words. ‘ ‘Shun them as you would a viper, as you would a scorpion, as you would a basilisk, lest they smite you not only with their touch, but I even with their eyes and breath.’ What is “to shun’ ? Not even to eat with a person of this sort What is “shun’? ‘If anyone,’ says St. John, ‘come to you and bring not this doctrine. What doctrine ? What but the Catholic and universal doctrine, which has continued one and the same through the several successions of ages by the uncorrupt tradition of the truth and so will continue for ever–‘Receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed, for he that biddeth him Godspeed communicates with him in his evil deeds.’ “
Vincent of Lerins,Commonitories,59-60(A.D. 450),in NPNF2,XI:148

“Since, therefore, the universal Church has become a rock (petra) through the building up of that original Rock , and the first of the Apostles, the most blessed Peter, heard the voice of the LORD saying, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock (petra) I will build My Church ,’ who is there who dare assail such impregnable strength, unless he be either antichrist or the devil, who, abiding unconverted in his wickedness, is anxious to sow lies by the vessels of wrath which are suited to his treachery, whilst under the false name of diligence he pretends to be in search of the Truth.”
Pope Leo the Great[regn. A.D. 440-461],To Leo Augustus,Epistle 156:2(ante A.D. 461),in NPNF2,XIII:100

The Unity of the Catholic Church

“Such examples, therefore, brethren, it is right that we should follow; since it is written, ‘Cleave to the holy, for those that cleave to them shall [themselves] be made holy.’ And again, in another place, [the Scripture] saith, ‘With a harmless man thou shalt prove thyself harmless, and with an elect man thou shalt be elect, and with a perverse man thou shalt show thyself perverse.’ Let us cleave, therefore, to the innocent and righteous, since these are the elect of God. Why are there strifes, and tumults, and divisions, and schisms, and wars among you? Have we not [all] one God and one Christ? Is there not one Spirit of grace poured out upon us? And have we not one calling in Christ? Why do we divide and tear to pieces the members of Christ, and raise up strife against our own body, and have reached such a height of madness as to forget that ‘we are members one of another?’ Remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, how He said, “Woe to that man [by whom( offences come]! It were better for him that he had never been born, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my elect. Yea, it were better for him that a millstone should be hung about [his neck], and he should be sunk in the depths of the sea, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my little ones. Your schism has subverted [the faith of] many, has discouraged many, has given rise to doubt in many, and has caused grief to us all. And still your sedition continueth. Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first began to be preached? Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you. But that inclination for one above another entailed less guilt upon you, inasmuch as your partialities were then shown towards apostles, already of high reputation, and towards a man whom they had approved. But now reflect who those are that have perverted you, and lessened the renown of your far-famed brotherly love. It is disgraceful, beloved, yea, highly disgraceful, and unworthy of your Christian profession, that such a thing should be heard of as that the most stedfast and ancient Church of the Corinthians should, on account of one or two persons, engage in sedition against its presbyters. And this rumour has reached not only us, but those also who are unconnected with us; so that, through your infatuation, the name of the Lord is blasphemed, while danger is also brought upon yourselves.”
Clement Of Rome, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 47-7(A.D. 98), in AND,I:20

“For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of repentance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren. If any man follows him that makes a schism in the Church, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If any one walks according to a strange opinion, he agrees not with the passion [of Christ.]”
Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians,3(A.D. 110),in ANF,3:80

“And Isaiah speaks as if he were personating the apostles, when they say to Christ that they believe not in their own report, but in the power of Him who sent them. And so he says: ‘Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? We have preached before Him as if [He were] a child, as if a root in a dry ground.’ (And what follows in order of the prophecy already quoted.) But when the passage speaks as from the lips of many, ‘We have preached before Him,’ and adds, ‘as if a child,’ it signifies that the wicked shall become subject to Him, and shall obey His command, and that all shall become as one child. Such a thing as you may witness in the body: although the members are enumerated as many, all are called one, and are a body. For, indeed, a commonwealth and a church, though many individuals in number, are in fact as one, called and addressed by one appellation.”
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 42(A.D. 155), in ANF,I:215-6

” ‘Hearken, O daughter, and behold, and incline thine ear, and forget thy people and the house of thy father; and the King shall desire thy beauty: because he is thy Lord, and thou shalt worship Him.’ Therefore these words testify explicitly that He is witnessed to by Him who established these things, as deserving to be worshipped, as God and as Christ. Moreover, that the word of God speaks to those who believe in Him as being one soul, and one synagogue, and one church, as to a daughter; that it thus addresses the church which has sprung from His name and partakes of His name(for we are all called Christians), is distinctly proclaimed in like manner in the following words, which teach us also to forget[our] old ancestral customs, when they speak thus:’Hearken, O daughter, and behold, and incline thine ear; forget thy people and the house of thy father, and the King shall desire thy beauty: because He is thy Lord, and thou shalt worship Him.’ ” “
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 63(A.D. 155), in ANF,I:229

“Hegesippus in the five books of Memoirs which have come down to us has left a most complete record of his own views. In them he states that on a journey to Rome he met a great many bishops, and that he received the same doctrine from all. It is fitting to hear what he says after making some remarks about the epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. His words are as follows: “And the church of Corinth continued in the true faith until Primus was bishop in Corinth. I conversed with them on my way to Rome, and abode with the Corinthians many days, during which we were mutually refreshed in the true doctrine. And when I had come to Rome I remained a there until Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And Anicetus was succeeded by Soter, and he by Eleutherus. In every succession, and in every city that is held which is preached by the law and the prophets and the Lord.”
Hegesippus, fragment in Ecclesiastical History, 4:22(c A.D. 180),in NPNF2,I:198-199

“As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shineth everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth. Nor will any one of the rulers in the Churches, however highly gifted he may be in point of eloquence, teach doctrines different from these (for no one is greater than the Master); nor, on the other hand, will he who is deficient in power of expression inflict injury on the tradition. For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little diminish it.”
Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1:10(A.D. 180),in ANF,I:331

“[T]he apostles … next went forth into the world and preached the same doctrine of the same faith to the nations. They then in like manner rounded churches in every city, from which all the other churches, one after another, derived the tradition of the faith, and the seeds of doctrine, and are every day deriving them, that they may become churches. Indeed, it is on this account only that they will be able to deem themselves apostolic, as being the offspring of apostolic churches. Every sort of thing must necessarily revert to its original for its classification. Therefore the churches, although they are so many and so great, comprise but the one primitive church, (rounded) by the apostles, from which they all (spring). In this way all are primitive, and all are apostolic, whilst they are all proved to be one, in (unbroken) unity, by their peaceful communion, and title of brotherhood, and bond of hospitality,–privileges which no other rule directs than the one tradition of the selfsame mystery.”
Tertullian, Prescription of Heretics, 20(A.D. 200), in ANF,III:252

“For, in truth, the covenant of salvation, reaching down to us from the foundation of the world, through different generations and times, is one, though conceived as different in respect of gift. For it follows that there is one unchangeable gift of salvation given by one God, through one Lord, benefiting in many ways. For which cause the middle wall which separated the Greek from the Jew is taken away, in order that there might be a peculiar people. And so both meet in the one unity of faith; and the selection out of both is one. And the chosen of the chosen are those who by reason of perfect knowledge are called [as the best] from the Church itself, and honoured with the most august glory–the judges and rulers–four-and-twenty (the grace being doubled)equally from Jews and Greeks. “
Clement of Alexandria, Stromata,VI:13(A.D. 202),in ANF, II:505-6

“From what has been said, then, it is my opinion that the true Church, that which is really ancient, is one, and that in it those who according to God’s purpose are just, are enrolled. For from the very reason that God is one, and the Lord one, that which is in the highest degree honourable is lauded in consequence of its singleness, being an imitation of the one first principle. In the nature of the One, then, is associated in a joint heritage the one Church, which they strive to cut asunder into many sects. Therefore in substance and idea, in origin, in pre-eminence, we say that the ancient and Catholic Church is alone, collecting as it does into the unity of the one faith–which results from the peculiar Testaments, or rather the one Testament in different times by the will of the one God, through one Lord–those already ordained, whom God predestinated, knowing before the foundation of the world that they would be righteous. But the pre-eminence of the Church, as the principle of union, is, in its oneness, in this surpassing all things else, and having nothing like or equal to itself. But of this afterwards.”
Clement of Alexandria, Stromata,VII:17(A.D. 202),in ANF, II:555

“[W]e say that the holy Scriptures declare the body of Christ, animated by the Son of God, to be the whole Church of God, and the members of this body–considered as a whole–to consist of those who are believers; since, as a soul vivifies and moves the body, which of itself has not the natural power of motion like a living being, so the Word, arousing and moving the whole body, the Church, to befitting action, awakens, moreover, each individual member belonging to the Church, so that they do nothing apart from the Word.”
Origen,Against Celsus,VI:48 (A.D. 250),in ANF,IV:595

“And this unity we ought firmly to hold and assert, especially those of us that are bishops who preside in the Church, that we may also prove the episcopate itself to be one and undivided. Let no one deceive the brotherhood by a falsehood: let no one corrupt the truth of the faith by perfidious prevarication. The episcopate is one, each part of which is held by each one for the whole. The Church also is one, which is spread abroad far and wide into a multitude by an increase of fruitfulness. As there are many rays of the sun, but one light; and many branches of a tree, but one strength based in its tenacious root; and since from one spring flow many streams, although the multiplicity seems diffused in the liberality of an overflowing abundance, yet the unity is still preserved in the source. Separate a ray of the sun from its body of light, its unity does not allow a division of light; break a branch from a tree,–when broken, it will not be able to bud; cut off the stream from its fountain, and that which is cut off dries up. Thus also the Church, shone over with the light of the Lord, sheds forth her rays over the whole world, yet it is one light which is everywhere diffused, nor is the unity of the body separated. Her fruitful abundance spreads her branches over the whole world. She broadly expands her rivers, liberally flowing, yet her head is one, her source one; and she is one mother, plentiful in the results of fruitfulness: from her womb we are born, by her milk we are nourished, by her spirit we are animated.”
Cyprian,Unity of the Church,5(A.D. 251),in ANF,V:422-23

“If you were carried on against your will, as you say, you will show that such has been the case by your voluntary retirement. For it would have been but dutiful to have suffered any kind of ill, so as to avoid rending the Church of God. And a martyrdom borne for the sake of preventing a division of the Church, would not have been more inglorious than one endured for refusing to worship idols; nay, in my opinion at least, the former would have been a nobler thing than the latter. For in the one case a person gives such a testimony simply for his own individual soul, whereas in the other case he is a witness for the whole Church. And now, if you can persuade or constrain the brethren to come to be of one mind again, your uprightness will be superior to your error; and the latter will not be charged against you, while the former will be commended in you. But if you cannot prevail so far with your recusant brethren, see to it that you save your own soul. My wish is, that in the Lord you may fare well as you study peace.”
Dionysius of Alexandria,Epistle to Novatus,2(ante A.D. 265),in ANF,VI:97

“We believe in one only Catholic Church, the apostolical, which cannot be destroyed even though all the world were to take counsel to fight against it, and which gains the victory over all the impious attacks of the heterodox; for we are emboldened by the words of its Master, ‘Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’ .”
Alexandria of Alexander,Epistle on the Arian heresy,(A.D. 328),in NPNF2,40

“We would now say somewhat concerning the Holy Ghost; not to declare His substance with exactness, for this were impossible; but to speak of the diverse mistakes of some concerning him, lest from ignorance we should fall into them; and to block up the paths of error, that we may journey on the King’s one highway. And if we now for caution’s sake repeat any statement of the heretics, let it recoil on their heads, and may we be guiltless, both we who speak, and ye who hear.”
Cyril of Jerusalem,Catechetical Lectures,16:5(A.D. 350),in NPNF2,VII:

“For, what our Fathers have delivered, this is truly doctrine; and this is truly the token of doctors, to confess the same thing with each other, and to vary neither from themselves nor from their fathers; whereas they who have not this character are to be called not true doctors but evil. Thus the Greeks, as not witnessing to the same doctrines, but quarrelling one with another, have no truth of teaching; but the holy and veritable heralds of the truth agree together, and do not differ. For though they lived in different times, yet they one and all tend the same way, being prophets of the one God, and preaching the same Word harmoniously “
Defence of the Nicene Council,4(A.D. 351),in NPNF2,IV:153

“But I trust that the Church, by the light of her doctrine, will so enlighten the world’s vain wisdom, that, even though it accept not the mystery of the faith, it will recognize that in our conflict with heretics we, and not they, are the true representatives of that mystery. For great is the force of truth; not only is it its own sufficient witness, but the more it is assailed the more evident it becomes; the daily shocks which it receives only increase its inherent stability. It is the peculiar property of the Church that when she is buffeted she is triumphant, when she is assaulted with argument she proves herself in the right, when she is deserted by her supporters she holds the field. It is her wish that all men should remain at her side and in her bosom; if it lay with her, none would become unworthy to abide under the shelter of that august mother, none would be cast out or suffered to depart from her calm retreat. But when heretics desert her or she expels them, the loss she endures, in that she cannot save them, is compensated by an increased assurance that she alone can offer bliss. This is a truth which the passionate zeal of rival heresies brings into the clearest prominence. The Church, ordained by the Lord and established by His Apostles, is one for all; but the frantic folly of discordant sects has severed them from her. And it is obvious that these dissentions concerning the faith result from a distorted mind, which twists the words of Scripture into conformity with its opinion, instead of adjusting that opinion to the words of Scripture. And thus, amid the clash of mutually destructive errors, the Church stands revealed not only by her own teaching, but by that of her rivals. They are ranged, all of them, against her; and the very fact that she stands single and alone is her sufficient answer to their godless delusions. The hosts of heresy assemble themselves against her; each of them can defeat all the others, but not one can win a victory for itself. The only victory is the triumph which the Church celebrates over them all. Each heresy wields against its adversary some weapon already shattered, in another instance, by the Church’s condemnation. There is no point of union between them, and the outcome of their internecine struggles is the confirmation of the faith.”
Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 7:4(A.D. 359),in NPNF2,IX:119-20

“What then I have learned myself, and have heard men of judgment say, I have written in few words; but do you, remaining on the foundation of the Apostles, and holding fast the traditions of the Fathers, pray that now at length all strife and rivalry may cease, and the futile questions of the heretics may be condemned, and all logomachy; and the guilty and murderous heresy of the Arians may disappear, and the truth may shine again in the hearts of all, so that all every where may ‘say the same thing’, and think the same thing, and that, no Arian contumelies remaining, it may be said and confessed in every Church, ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism’, in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom to the Father be the glory and the strength, unto ages of ages. Amen.”
Athanasius,On the Councils of Arminum and Seleucia,54(A.D. 360),in NPNF2,IV:479

“It is for me to state,which, or where, is that one church;which is the church, since besides that one, there is none other.”
Optatus of Mileve, Against the Donatist,7(A.D. 367),in FOC,158

“But all believers in Christ are one people; all Christ’s people, although He is hailed from many regions, are one Church; and so our country is glad and rejoices at the dispensation of the Lord, and instead of thinking that she is one man the poorer, considers that through one man she has become possessed of whole Churches.”
Basil,To Amphilochius,(A.D. 374),in NPNF2,VIII:1

“Hence the separated heresies have, as branches, been torn off; called indeed after Christ’s name, yet not his, but are, some of them, at a very great distance from him; whilst others, on account of some very slight matter, are disinherited and have made themselves and thier children aliens unto him; they are not within the boundaries, but have established themselves without, and having nothing of Christ but name. There but remains for us to show forth the truth, and the oneness of that dove which is praised by the bridegroom.”
Epiphanius,Panarion,80(A.D. 374),in FOC,170

“You that have gone through this whole work of time, or part of it,pray for me that God may vouchsafe unto me a portion in that holy and one Catholic and apostolic church, the true, the life-giving, and the saving.”
Epiphanius,Panarion,(A.D. 377),in FOC,170-1

“Whoso has learnt that Christ is the head of the Church, let him, before all things, bear this in mind, that the head is ever of the same nature and substance as the body beneath it; and that there is a certain coherence of each of the limbs with the whole … Whence if any part be cut of the body, it is utterly disconnected with the head.”
Gregory of Nyssa, On Perfection, 3(A.D. 381),in FOC, 165

“We believe … in one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.”
Council of Constantinople,Nicene-Constantinopolitan(A.D. 381),in FOC,171

“And not even now, be well assured, should we have written this, if we had not seen that the Church was being tom asunder and divided, among their other tricks, by their present synagogue of vanity.But if anyone when we say and protest this, either from some advantage they will thus gain, or through fear of men, or monstrous littleness of mind, or through some neglect of pastors and governors, or through love of novelty and proneness to innovations, rejects us as unworthy of credit, and attaches himself to such men, and divides the noble body of the Church, he shall bear his judgment, whoever he may be,(a) and shall give account to God in the day of judgment.”
Gregory of Nazianzen,To Cledonius, (A.D. 382),in NPNF2,VII:442-3

All such efforts are only of use when they are made within the church’s pale; we must celebrate the passover in the one house, we must enter the ark with Noah, we must take refuge from the fall of Jericho with the justified harlot, Rahab. Such virgins as there are said to be among the heretics and among the followers of the infamous Manes(11) must be considered, not virgins, but prostitutes. For if–as they allege–the devil is the author of the body, how can they honor that which is fashioned by their foe? No; it is because they know that the name virgin brings glory with it, that they go about as wolves in sheep’s clothing. As antichrist pretends to be Christ, such virgins assume an honorable name, that they may the better cloak a discreditable life. Rejoice, my sister; rejoice, my daughter; rejoice, my virgin; for you have resolved to be, in reality, that which others insincerely feign.”
Jerome,To Eustochium,Epistle 22,38(A.D. 384),in NPNF2,VI:39

“If you held the Head you would consider that the whole body, by joining together rather than by separating, grows unto the increase of God(2) by the bond of charity and the rescue of a sinner.”
Ambrose,On Penance,I:28(A.D. 390),in NPNF2,X:334

“If it be not a carnal motive, my lord, but, as I think, a spiritual call, that has led you to enquire from us the credibility of Catholic truth, it was your first duty (as you hold not to the source and fountain of the parent(principal) church,but have sprung, as far as I can see, at some time, or other, from a mere rivulet) to state what your opinions are, or in what you differ from us, and thus discover what was the cause that especially seperated you from the unity of the body.”
Pacian,Epistle 1,(A.D. 392),in FOC, 168

” ‘Unto the Church of God.’ Not ‘of this or of that man,’ but of God. ‘Which is at Corinth.’ Seest thou how at each word he puts down their swelling pride; training their thoughts in every way for heaven? He calls it, too, the Church ‘of God;’ shewing that it ought to be united. For if it be ‘of God,’ it is united, and it is one, not in Corinth only, but also in all the world: for the Church’s name is not a name of separation, but of unity and concord.”
John Chrysostom,Homily 1 on 1st Letter to the Corinthians,1(A.D. 392),in NPNF1,XII:3

“We acknowledge the word of the Lord. Hence also the apostle says, ‘Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.’ Here therefore we must inquire who it is that has charity: you will find that it is no one else but those who are lovers of unity…since we are inquiring where the Church of Christ is to be found, let us listen to the words of Christ Himself, who redeemed it with His own blood: ‘Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and even in the whole earth.’ You see then who it is with whom a man refuses to communicate who will not communicate with this Church, which is spread throughout all the world, if at least you hear whose words these are. For what is a greater proof of madness than to hold communion with the sacraments of the Lord, and to refuse to hold communion with the words of the Lord? Such men at any rate are likely to say, In Thy name have we eaten and drunken, and to hear the words, ‘I never knew you,’ seeing that they eat His body and drink His blood in the sacrament, and do not recognize in the gospel His members which are spread abroad throughout the earth, and therefore are not themselves counted among them in the judgment.”
Against the letters of Petiliani,126(A.D. 405),in NPNF1,IV:562

“Therefore do we say that the mystery of Christ must be celebrated in the churches of God, as in holy tabernacles … ‘In one house shall it be eaten, neither shall ye carry forth of the flesh thereof out of the house(Ex 12) The many-minded heretics violate this will of God, fixing up for themselves, as they do, another tabernacle, besides that which is truly the holy tabernacle, and sacrificing the lamb without, and carrying it forth somewhere to a very great distance from that one house, and dividing the indivisble. For Christ is one, and perfect in all.”
Cyril of Alexandria,Worship and Adoration in Spirit and Truth,1:10(A.D. 429),in FOC, 183

“For the scheme of the mysteries of the Church and the Catholic faith is such that one who denies one portion of the Sacred Mystery cannot confess the other. For all parts of it are so bound up and united together that one cannot stand without the other and if a man denies one point out of the whole number, it is of no use for him to believe all the others. And so if you deny that the Lord Jesus Christ is God, the result is that in denying the Son of God you deny the Father also.”
Cassian,The Incarnation of Christ,VI:17(A.D. 430),in NPNF2,XI:600

The Infallibility of the Ecumenical Councils

“The Bishops who assembled in the great Council of Nicaea agreed, not without the will of God, that the decisions of one council should be examined in another, to the end that the judges, having before their eyes that other trial which was to follow, might be led to investigate matters with the utmost caution, and that the parties concerned in their sentence might have assurance that the judgment they received was just, and not dictated by the enmity of their former judges. Now if you are unwilling that such a practice should be adopted in your own case, though it is of ancient standing, and has been noticed and recommended by the great Council, your refusal is not becoming; for it is unreasonable that a custom which had once obtained in the Church, and been established by councils, should be set aside by a few individuals.”
Pope Julius[regn. A.D. 337-352],To the Eusebians in Athanasius ‘Defence against the Arians’,21(A.D. 340),in NPNF2,XIV:111-112

“Are they not then committing a crime, in their very thought to gainsay so great and ecumenical a Council? are they not in transgression, when they dare to confront that good definition against Arianism, acknowledged, as it is, by those who had in the first instance taught them irreligion? “
Athanasius,Defence of the Nicene Definition,2(A.D. 351),in NPNF2,IV:489

“This gave occasion for an Ecumenical Council[ie Nicea], that the feast might be everywhere celebrated on one day, and that the heresy which was springing up might be anathematized. It took place then; and the Syrians submitted, and the Fathers pronounced the Arian heresy to be the forerunner of Antichrist, and drew up a suitable formula against it. And yet in this, many as they are, they ventured on nothing like the proceedings of these three or four men. Without pre-fixing Consulate, month, and day, they wrote concerning Easter, ‘It seemed good as follows,’ for it did then seem good that there should be a general compliance; but about the faith they wrote not, ‘It seemed good,’ but, ‘Thus believes the Catholic Church;’ and thereupon they confessed how they believed, in order to shew that their own sentiments were not novel, but Apostolical; and what they wrote down was no discovery of theirs, but is the same as was taught by the Apostles.”
Athanasius,Councils of Ariminum & Seleucia,5(A.D. 362),in NPNF2,IV:453

“But the word of the Lord which came through the ecumenical Synod at Nicaea, abides for ever.”
Athanasius,To the Bishops of Africa,2(A.D. 372),in NPNF2,IV:489

“[T]hat you should confess the faith put forth by our Fathers once assembled at Nicaea, that you should not omit any one of its propositions, but bear in mind that the three hundred and eighteen who met together without strife did not speak without the operation of the Holy Ghost, and not to add to that creed the statement that the Holy Ghost is a creature, nor hold communion with those who so say, to the end that the Church of God may be pure and without any evil admixture of any tare.”
Basil,To Cyriacus,Epistle 114(A.D. 372),in NPNF2,VIII:190

“Synods create security on the point that falls under notice from time to time.”
Epiphanius,Panarion,74(A.D. 377),in FOC,462

“And therefore, first in the holy Synod of Nicaea, the gathering of the three hundred and eighteen chosen men, united by the Holy Ghost, as far as in him lay, he[St. Athanasius] stayed the disease. Though not yet ranked among the BiShops, he held the first rank among the members of the Council, for preference was given to virtue just as much as to office.”
Gregory of Nazianzen,Oration 21:14(A.D. 379),in NPNF2,VII:273

“THE Faith of the Three Hundred and Eighteen Fathers assembled at Nice in Bithynia shall not be set aside, but shall remain firm. And every heresy shall be anathematized, particularly that of the Eunomians or [Anomoeans, the Arians or] Eudoxians, and that of the Semi-Arians or Pneumatomachi, and that of the Sabellians, and that of the Marcellians, and that of the Photinians, and that of the Apollinarians. “
Ecumenical Council of Constantinople I, Canon 1(A.D. 381),in NPNF2,XIV:172

“This was decreed at the Synod of Ariminum, and rightly do I detest that council, following the rule of the Nicene Council, from which neither death nor the sword can detach me, which faith the father of your Clemency also.”
Ambrose,To the Emperor Valentinian,Epistle 21:14(A.D. 386),in NPNF2,X:428

“Some of the brethren whose heart is as our heart told us of the slanders that were being propagated to our detriment by those who hate peace, and privily backbite their neighbour; and have no fear of the great and terrible judgment-seat of Him Who has declared that account will be required even of idle words in that trial of our life which we must all look for: they say that the charges which are being circulated against us are such as these; that we entertain opinions opposed to those who at Nicaea set forth the right and sound faith.”
Gregory of Nyssa,To Sebasteia,Epistle 2(ante A.D. 394),in NPNF2,V:528

“As to those other things which we hold on the authority, not of Scripture, but of tradition, and which are observed throughout the whole world, it may be understood that they are held as approved and instituted either by the apostles themselves, or by plenary Councils, whose authority in the Church is most useful, e.g. the annual commemoration, by special solemnities, of the Lord’s passion, resurrection, and ascension, and of the descent of the Holy Spirit from heaven, and whatever else is in like manner observed by the whole Church wherever it has been established.”
Augustine,To Januarius,Epistle 54:1(A.D. 400),in NPNF1,1:300

“[H]e, I say, abundantly shows that he was most willing to correct his own opinion, if any one should prove to him that it is as certain that the baptism of Christ can be given by those who have strayed from the fold, as that it could not he lost when they strayed; on which subject we have already said much. Nor should we ourselves venture to assert anything of the kind, were we not supported by the unanimous authority of the whole Church, to which he himself would unquestionably have yielded, if at that time the truth of this question had been placed beyond dispute by the investigation and decree of a plenary Council. For if he quotes Peter as an example for his allowing himself quietly and peacefully to be corrected by one junior colleague, how much more readily would he himself, with the Council of his province, have yielded to the authority of the whole world, when the truth had been thus brought to light?”
Augustine,On Baptism against the Donatist,2:5(A.D. 401),in NPNF1,IV:427

“What the custom of the Church has always held, what this argument has failed to prove false, and what a plenary Council has confirmed, this we follow!”
Augustine,On Baptism against the Donatist,4:10(A.D. 401),in NPNF1,IV:450

“And in no wise do we suffer to be shaken by any one, the faith defined, or the symbol of faith settled, by our fathers, who assembled, in their day, at Nicaea. Neither do we allow ourselves,or any other to alter a word there set down, or even to omit a single syllable, mindful of that saying: ‘Remove not the ancient land-marks which thy fathers have set.’ “
Cyril of Alexandria,To John of Antioch,5(A.D. 433),in FOC,465

“[C]leave to the holy synod which assembled at Nicaea, nothing added(thereto), nothing diminishing; for that synod being divinely inspired, taught the true doctrine.”
Isidore of Pelusium,Epistle 99:4(ante A.D. 435),in FOC,466

“So have I learnt not only from the apostles and prophets but also from the interpreters of their writings, Ignatius,Eustathius, Athanasius, Basil, Gregory, John, and the rest of the lights of the world; and before these from the holy Fathers in council at Nicaea, whose confession of the faith I preserve in its integrity, like an ancestral inheritance, styling corrupt and enemies of the truth all who dare to transgress its decrees. “
Theodoret of Cyrus,TO Florentius,Epistle 89(A.D. 449),in NPNF2,III:283

“The great and holy and universal Synod, which by the grace of God and the sanction of our most pious and Christ-loving Emperors has been gathered together in the metropolis of Chalcedon in the province of Bithynia, to the most holy and blessed archbishop of Rome, Leo.I. They congratulate Leo on taking the foremost part in maintaining the Faith. ‘Our mouth was filled with joy and our tongue with exultation.’ This prophecy grace has fitly appropriated to us for whom the security of religion is ensured. For what is a greater incentive to cheerfulness than the Faith? what better inducement to exultation than the Divine knowledge which the Saviour Himself gave us from above for salvation, saying, ‘go ye and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things that I have enjoined you.’ And this golden chain leading down from the Author of the command to us, you yourself have stedfastly preserved, being set as the mouthpiece unto all of the blessed Peter, and imparting the blessedness of his Faith unto all. Whence we too, wisely taking you as our guide in all that is good, have shown to the sons of the Church their inheritance of Truth, not giving our instruction each singly and in secret, but making known our confession of the Faith in conceit, with one consent and agreement And we were all delighted, revelling, as at an imperial banquet, in the spiritual food, which Christ supplied to us through your letter: and we seemed to see the Heavenly Bridegroom actually present with us. For if ‘where two or three are gathered together in His name,’ He has said that ‘there He is in the midst of them,’ must He not have been much more particularly present with 520 priests, who preferred the spread of knowledge concerning Him to their country and their ease? Of whom you were, chief, as the head to the members, showing your goodwill in the person of those who represented you; whilst our religious Emperors presided to the furtherance of due order, inviting us to restore the doctrinal fabric of the Church, even as Zerubbabel invited Joshua to rebuild Jerusalem.”
Council of Chalcedon to Pope Leo the Great,Epistle 98:1(A.D. 451),in NPNF2,XII:72

“Anatolius’ 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.”
Pope Leo the Great[regn. A.D. 440-461],To Maximus, Epistle 119:3(A.D. 453),in NPNF2,XII:86

“[T]he Sacred Synod of Nicea … Ephesus … [and] Chalcedon … to be received after those of the Old or New Testament, which we regularly accept.”
Pope Gelasius[regn. A.D. 492-496],Epistle 42,in DEN,68-69

“Besides those which are contained in the Decretal of Gelasius, here, after the Synod of Ephesus ‘Constantinople(I)’ was also inserted: then was added: But even if any councils thus far have been instituted by the holy Fathers, we have decreed that after the authority of those four they must be both kept and received.”
Pope Hormisdas[regn. A.D. 514-523],Epistle 125(A.D. 520),in DEN,74

“We confessed that we hold, preserve, and declare to the holy churches that confession of faith which the 318 holy Fathers more at length set forth, who were gathered together at Nice, who handed down the holy mathema or creed. Moreover, the 150 gathered together at Constantinople set forth our faith, who followed that same confession of faith and explained it. And the consent of fire 200 holy fathers gathered for the same faith in the first Council of Ephesus. And what things were defined by the 630 gathered at Chalcedon for the one and the same faith, which they both followed and taught. And all those wile from time to time have been condemned or anathematized by the Catholic Church, and by the aforesaid four Councils, we confessed that we hold them condemned and anathematized.”
Ecumenical Council of Constantinople II,Sentence of the Synod(A.D. 553),in NPNF2,XIV:307

“Besides, since with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, I confess that I receive and revere, as the four books of the Gospel so also the four Councils: to wit, the Nicene, in which the perverse doctrine of Arius is overthrown; the Constantinopolitan also, in which the error of Eunomius and Macedonius is refuted; further, the first Ephesine, in which the impiety of Nestorius is condemned; and the Chalcedonian, in which the pravity of Eutyches and Dioscorus is reprobated. These with full devotion I embrace, and adhere to with most entire approval; since on them, as on a four-square stone, rises the structure of the holy faith; and whosoever, of whatever life and behaviour he may be, holds not fast to their solidity, even though he is seen to be a stone, yet he lies outside the building. The fifth council also I equally venerate, in which the epistle which is called that of Ibas, full of error, is reprobated; Theodorus, who divides the Mediator between God and men into two subsistences, is convicted of having fallen into the perfidy of impiety; and the writings of Theodoritus, in which the faith of the blessed Cyril is impugned, are refuted as having been published with the daring of madness. But all persons whom the aforesaid venerable Councils repudiate I repudiate; those whom they venerate I embrace; since, they having been constituted by universal consent, he overthrows not them but himself, whosoever presumes either to loose those whom they bind, or to bind those whom they loose. Whosoever, therefore, thinks otherwise, let him be anathema. But whosoever holds the faith of the aforesaid synods, peace be to him from God the Father, through Jesus Christ His Son, Who lives and reigns consubstantially God with Him in the Unity of the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.”
Pope Gregory the Great[regn. A.D. 590-604],To John of Constantinople,Epistle 24(A.D. 591),in NPNF2,XII:81

“And in the fourth holy and great Oecumenical Council, I mean the one at Chalcedon, we are told that it was in this form that the Hymn was sung; for the minutes of this holy assembly so record it. It is, therefore, a matter for laughter and ridicule that this ‘Thrice Holy’ Hymn, taught us by the angels, and confirmed by the averting of calamity, ratified and established by so great an assembly of the holy Fathers, and sung first by the Seraphim as a declaration of the three subsistences of the Godhead, should be mangled and forsooth emended to suit the view of the stupid Fuller as though he were higher than the Seraphim. But oh! the arrogance! not to say folly! But we say it thus, though demons should rend us in pieces, ‘Do Thou, Holy God, Holy and Mighty One, Holy and Immortal One, have mercy upon us.'”
John of Damascene,Orthodox Faith,10(A.D. 743),in NPNF2,IX:54

The Visibility of the Catholic Church

“Now all these [heretics] are of much later date than the bishops to whom the apostles committed the Churches; which fact I have in the third book taken all pains to demonstrate. It follows, then, as a matter of course, that these heretics aforementioned, since they are blind to the truth, and deviate from the [right] way, will walk in various roads; and therefore the footsteps of their doctrine are scattered here and there without agreement or connection. But the path of those belonging to the Church circumscribes the whole world, as possessing the sure tradition from the apostles, and gives unto us to see that the faith of all is one and the same … And undoubtedly the preaching of the Church is true and stedfast, in which one and the same way of salvation is shown throughout the whole world. For to her is entrusted the light of God; and therefore the “wisdom” of God, by means of which she saves all men, ‘is declared in [its] going forth; it uttereth [its voice] faithfully in the streets, is preached on the tops of the walls, and speaks continually in the gates of the city.’ For the Church preaches the truth everywhere, and she is the seven-branched candlestick which bears the light of Christ.

Those, therefore, who desert the preaching of the Church, call in question the knowledge of the holy presbyters, not taking into consideration of how much greater consequence is a religious man, even in a private station, than a blasphemous and impudent sophist. Now, such are all the heretics, and those who imagine that they have hit upon something more beyond the truth … not keeping always to the same opinions with regard to the same things, as blind men are led by the blind, they shall deservedly fall into the ditch of ignorance lying in their path, ever seeking and never finding out the truth. It behoves us, therefore, to avoid their doctrines, and to take careful heed lest we suffer any injury from them; but to flee to the Church, and be brought up in her bosom, and be nourished with the Lord’s Scriptures. For the Church has been planted as a garden (paradisus) in this world; therefore says the Spirit of God, ‘Thou mayest freely eat from every tree of the garden,’ that is, Eat ye from every Scripture of the Lord; but ye shall not eat with an uplifted mind, nor touch any heretical discord.”
Irenaeus,Against Heresies,5:20 (A.D. 180),in ANF,I:547-8

“I shall at once go on, then, to exhibit the peculiarities of the Christian society, that, as I have refuted the evil charged against it, I may point out its positive good. We are a body knit together as such by a common religious profession, by unity of discipline, and by the bond of a common hope. We meet together as an assembly and congregation, that, offering up prayer to God as with united force, we may wrestle with Him in our supplications. This violence God delights in. We pray, too, for the emperors, for their ministers and for all in authority, for the welfare of the world, for the prevalence of peace, for the delay of the final consummation. We assemble to read our sacred writings, if any peculiarity of the times makes either forewarning or reminiscence needful. However it be in that respect, with the sacred words we nourish our faith, we animate our hope, we make our confidence more stedfast; and no less by inculcations of God’s precepts we confirm good habits.”
Tertullian,Apology,39:1(A.D. 197),in ANF,III:46

“To sum up all in one word–what the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body; and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world. The invisible soul is guarded by the visible body, and Christians are known indeed to be in the world, but their godliness remains invisible.”
Letter to Diognetus,6:1(A.D. 200),in ANF,I:27

“You may learn, if you will, the crowning wisdom of the all-holy Shepherd and Instructor, of the omnipotent and paternal Word, when He figuratively represents Himself as the Shepherd of the sheep. And He is the Tutor of the children. He says therefore by Ezekiel, directing His discourse to the elders, and setting before them a salutary description of His wise solicitude: ‘And that which is lame I will bind up, and that which is sick I will heal, and that which has wandered I will turn back; and I will feed them on my holy mountain.’ Such are the promises of the good Shepherd. Feed us, the children, as sheep. Yea, Master, fill us with righteousness, Thine own pasture; yea, O Instructor, feed us on Thy holy mountain the Church, which towers aloft, which is above the clouds, which touches heaven.”
Clement of Alexandria,The Instructor,I:9(A.D. 202),in ANF,II:230-1

“We are not to give heed to those who say, Behold here is Christ, but show him not in the Church, which is filled with brightness from the East even unto the West; which is filled with true light; is the ‘pillar and ground of truth’; in which, as a whole,is the whole advent of the Son of Man, who saith to all men throughout the universe,’Behold, I am with you all the days of life even unto the consumption of the world.’ “
Origen, Commentary on Matthew,Tract 30(A.D. 244),in FOC,194-195

“Separate a ray of the sun from its body of light, its unity does not allow a division of light; break a branch from a tree,–when broken, it will not be able to bud; cut off the stream from its fountain, and that which is cut off dries up. Thus also the Church, shone over with the light of the Lord, sheds forth her rays over the whole world, yet it is one light which is everywhere diffused, nor is the unity of the body separated. Her fruitful abundance spreads her branches over the whole world. She broadly expands her rivers, liberally flowing, yet her head is one, her source one; and she is one mother, plentiful in the results of fruitfulness: from her womb we are born, by her milk we are nourished, by her spirit we are animated.”
Cyprian,Unity of the Church,5(A.D. 256),in ANF,V:423

” ‘A city built upon a mountain cannot be hid’ The light, or lamp of Christ, is not now to be hidden under a bushel, nor to be concealed by any covering of the synagogue,but, hung on the wood of the Passion, it will give an everlasting light to those that dwell in the church. He also admonishes the apostles to shine with like splendour, that by the admiration of their deeds, praise may be given to God.”
Hilary of Poitiers,Commentary on Matthew,5:13(A.D. 355),in FOC,196-7

” ‘And his throne as the sun before me.’ Understand, by the ‘throne’ of Christ, the Church; for in it he rests. The Church of Christ, then, he says, shall be refulgent and enlighten all under heaven, and be abiding as the sun and the moon. For this passage says so: ‘His throne as the sun beforeme, and as the moon perfect forever, and a faithful witness in heaven.’ “
Athanasius,Exposition in the Psalms,88(ante A.D. 373),in FOC,197

“Not therefore on that Mount Sion does Isaias look down upon the valley, but on that holy mountain which is the church, that mountain which lifts its head over the whole Roman world under heaven…a church which is throughout the world, wherein there is one Catholic church.”
Optatus of Mileve,Against the Donatist,3:2(A.D. 384), in FOC, 197

” ‘And in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of the mountains’ The house of the Lord, ‘prepared on the top of the mountains,’ is the church, according to the declaration of the apostle, ‘Know,’ he says, ‘how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God’ Whose foundations are on the holy mountains, for it is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. One also of these mountains was Peter, upon which the rock the Lord promised to build his church.”
Basil,Commentary on Isaiah,2:66(A.D. 375),in FOC,197-8

“It is an easier thing for the sun to be quenched, than for the church to be made invisible.”
Chrysostom,In illud: vidi Dom.(ante A.D. 407),in FOC,198

” PETILIANUS said: ‘If you declare that yon hold the Catholic Church, the word ‘catholic’ is merely the Greek equivalent for entire or whole. But it is clear that you are not in the whole, because you have gone aside into the part.’
AUGUSTIN answered: I too indeed have attained to a very slight knowledge of the Greek language, scarcely to be called knowledge at all, yet I am not shameless in saying that I know that means not ‘one,’ but ‘the whole;’ and that means “according to the whole:” whence the Catholic Church received its name, according to the saying of the Lord, ‘It is not for you to know the times, which the Father hath put in His own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and even in the whole earth.’ Here you have the origin of the name ‘Catholic.’ But you are so bent upon running with your eyes shut against the mountain which grew out of a small stone, according to the prophecy of Daniel, and filled the whole earth, that you actually tell us that we have gone aside into a part, and are not in the whole among those whose communion is spread throughout the whole earth. But just in the same way as, supposing you were to say that I was Petilianus, I should not be able to find any method of refuting you unless I were to laugh at you as being in jest, or mourn over you as being mad, so in the present case I see that I have no other choice but this; and since I do not believe that you are in jest, you see what alternative remains.”
Augustine,Answer to Letters of Petilian,2:38[90](A.D. 400),in NPNF1,IV:554-555

“For the church is in lofty and conspicuous, and well known to all men in every place. It is also lofty in another sense; for her thoughts have nothing earthly, but she is above all that is earthly, and with the eyes of the understanding, looks upon, as far as it is possible, the glory of God, and glories in doctrines truly exalted, concerning God … Wherefore, with justice may the house of God be called a mountain(known) by the understanding, and it is perfectly visible, as being raised upon the hills; and one may say of it, and with great cause, what as a notable illustration was uttered by the mouth of the Saviour: ‘A city placed upon a hill cannot be hidden’ “
Cyril of Alexandria,Commentary on Isaias,(ante A.D. 429),in FOC,202


Schism

“Why are there strifes, and tumults, and divisions, and schisms, and wars among you? Have we not [all] one God and one Christ? Is there not one Spirit of grace poured out upon us? And have we not one calling in Christ? Why do we divide and tear to pieces the members of Christ, and raise up strife against our own body, and have reached such a height of madness as to forget that “we are members one of another?” Remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, how He said, “Woe to that man [by whom offences come]! It were better for him that he had never been born, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my elect. Yea, it were better for him that a millstone should be hung about [his neck], and he should be sunk in the depths of the sea, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my little ones. Your schism has subverted [the faith of] many, has discouraged many, has given rise to doubt in many, and has caused grief to us all. And still your sedition continueth.”
Clement of Rome[regn c.A.D. 91-101],To the Corinthians,46(A.D. 91),in ANF,I:17-18

“Let no man deceive himself: if any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God.”
Ignatius of Antioch,To the Ephesians,5(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:51

“For there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing, who, by means of a pernicious pleasure, carry captive(3) those that are running towards God; but in your unity they shall have no place.”
Ignatius of Antioch,To the Philadelphians,2(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:80

“Do not err, my brethren. If any man follows him that makes a schism in the Church, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If any one walks according to a strange opinion, he agrees not with the passion [of Christ.]”
Ignatius of Antioch,To the Philadelphians,3(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:80

“For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth] the unity of His blood; one altar.”
Ignatius of Antioch,To the Philadelphians,4(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:81

“But flee from all abominable heresies, and those that cause schisms, as the beginning of evils.”
Ignatius of Antioch,To the Smyrnaens,7(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:89

“See that ye follow the bishop, even as Christ Jesus does the Father.”
Ignatius of Antioch,To the Smyrnaens,8:2(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:89

“But those who cleave asunder, and separate the unity of the Church, [shall] receive from God the same punishment as Jeroboam did.”
Irenaeus,Against Heresies,4,26:2(A.D. 180),in ANF,I:497

“Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the Church, and the Church in the bishop; and if any one be not with the bishop, that he is not in the Church.”
Cyprian, To Florentius,Epistle 68[66]:8(A.D. 254),in ANF,V:375

“Separate a ray of the sun from its body of light, its unity does not allow a division of light; break a branch from a tree,–when broken, it will not be able to bud; cut off the stream from its fountain, and that which is cut off dries up. Thus also the Church, shone over with the light of the Lord, sheds forth her rays over the whole world, yet it is one light which is everywhere diffused, nor is the unity of the body separated.”
Cyprian,Unity of the Church,5(A.D. 256),in ANF,V:423

“The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous; she is uncorrupted and pure. She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God. She appoints the sons whom she has born for the kingdom. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress, is separated from the promises of the Church; nor can he who forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is a stranger; he is profane; he is an enemy. He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother. If any one could escape who was outside the ark of Noah, then he also may escape who shall be outside of the Church…He who does not hold this unity does not hold God’s law, does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, does not hold life and salvation.”
Cyprian,Unity of the Church,5(A.D. 256),in ANF,V:423

“What does the fierceness of wolves do in the Christian breast? What the savageness of dogs, and the deadly venom of serpents, and the sanguinary cruelty of wild beasts? We are to be congratulated when such as these are separated from the Church, lest they should lay waste the doves and sheep of Christ with their cruel and envenomed contagion.”
Cyprian,Unity of the Church,9(A.D. 256),in ANF,V:424

“Let none think that the good can depart from the Church. The wind does not carry away the wheat, nor does the hurricane uproot the tree that is based on a solid root. The light straws are tossed about by the tempest, the feeble trees are overthrown by the onset of the whirlwind.”
Cyprian,Unity of the Church,9(A.D. 256),in ANF,V:424

“Do they deem that they have Christ with them when they are collected together, who are gathered together outside the Church of Christ?”
Cyprian,Unity of the Church,13(A.D. 256),in ANF,V:426

“Only-Begotten. At this time the altogether wicked heretics and ignorant schismatics are in the same case; the one in that they slay the Word, the other in that they rend the coat.”
Athanasius,Festal Letter 6,6(A.D. 334),in NPNF2,IV:521

“For you have said, among other things, that schismatics are cut off like branches from the vine, and, being destined for punishment, are reserved like dry wood for the fires of Gehenna.”
Optatus of Mileve,The Schism of the Donatist,1:10(A.D. 367),in OPT,10

“Indeed it would be monstrous to feel pleasure in the schisms and divisions of the Churches, and not to consider that the greatest of goods consists in the knitting together of the members of Christ’s body.” Basil,To Evagrius,Epistle 156:1(A.D. 373),in NPNF2,VIII:211

“Heretics bring sentence upon themselves since they by their own choice withdraw from the Church, a withdrawal which, since they are aware of it, constitutes damnation. Between heresy and schism separates one from the Church on account of disagreement with the bishop.”
Jerome,Commentaries on the Epistle to Titus,3:10(A.D. 386),in JUR,II:194

“And this confession is indeed rightly made by them, for they have not the succession of Peter, who hold not the chair of Peter, which they rend by wicked schism; and this, too, they do, wickedly denying that sins can be forgiven even in the Church, whereas it was said to Peter: “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”
Ambrose,Concerning Repentance,33(A.D. 390),in NPNF2,X:334

“But heretics, in holding false opinions regarding God, do injury to the faith itself; while schismatics, on the other hand, in wicked separations break off from brotherly charity, although they may believe just what we believe.”
Augustine,On Faith and Creed,10(A.D. 393),in NPNF1,III:331

“In the time of Donatus, from whom his followers were called Donatists, when great numbers in Africa were rushing headlong into their own mad error, and unmindful of their name, their religion, their profession, were preferring the sacrilegious temerity of one man before the Church of Christ, then they alone throughout Africa were safe within the sacred precincts of the Catholic faith, who, detesting the profane schism, continued in communion with the universal Church, leaving to posterity an illustrious example, how, and how well in future the soundness of the whole body should be preferred before the madness of one, or at most of a few.”
Vincent of Lerins,Commonitories,9(A.D. 434),in NPNF2,XI:133

“Furthermore, those whom the error of the schismatics severs from the unity of the Church, strive ye, for your own reward, to recall to the unity of concord.”
Gregory the Great[regn A.D. 590-604],To Brunichild,Epistle 11(A.D. 597),in NPNF2,XIII:8

Faith and Works

“Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change, all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride. ‘For God,’ saith [the Scripture], ‘resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.’ Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words.”
Clement of Rome,Epistle to the Corinthians,30(A.D. 98),in ANF,I:13

“For what reason was our father Abraham blessed? was it not because he wrought righteousness and truth through faith?”
Clement of Rome,Epistle to the Corinthians,31(A.D. 98),in ANF,I:13

” All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Clement of Rome,Epistle to the Corinthians,32(A.D. 98),in ANF,I:13

“Now I beseech thee, by the grace with which thou art clothed, to add [speed] to thy course, and that thou ever pray for all men that they may be saved, and that thou demand things which are befitting, with all assiduity both of the flesh and spirit. Be studious of unity, than which nothing is more precious. Bear with all men, even as our Lord beareth with thee. Show patience with all men in love, as [indeed] thou doest. Be stedfast in prayer. Ask for more understanding than that which thou [already] hast. Be watchful, as possessing a spirit which sleepeth not. Speak with every man according to the will of God. Bear the infirmities of all men as a perfect athlete; for where the labour is great, the gain is also great.”
Ignatius of Antioch,To Polycarp,1(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:99

” Look ye to the bishop, that God also may look upon you. I will be instead of the souls of those who are subject to the bishop, and the presbyters, and the deacons; with them may I have a portion in the presence of God! Labour together with one another, act as athletes together, run together, suffer together, sleep together, rise together. As stewards of God, and of His household, and His servants, please Him and serve Him, that ye may receive from Him the wages [promised]. Let none of you be rebellious. Let your baptism be to you as armour, and faith as a spear, and love as a helmet, and patience as a panoply. Let your treasures be your good works, that ye may receive the gift of God, as is just. Let your spirit be long-suffering towards each other with meekness, even as God [is] toward you. As for me, I rejoice in you at all times.”
Ignatius of Antioch,To Polycarp,6(A.D. 110),in ANF,I:100

“For he who keepeth these shall be glorified in the kingdom of God; but he who chooseth other things shall be destroyed with his works.”
Epistle of Barnabas,2(A.D. 132),in ANF,I:149

“But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, falsewitness; ‘not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing,’ or blow for blow, or cursing for cursing, but being mindful of what the Lord said in His teaching: ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged; forgive, and it shall be forgiven unto you; be merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again; and once more, “Blessed are the poor, and those that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.’ “
Polycarp,To the Phillipians,2(A.D. 135),in ANF,I:33

“They only who fear the Lord and keep His commandments have life with God; but as to those who keep not His commandments, there is no life in them.”
Shepherd of Hermas,2 Comm 7(A.D. 155),in ANF,II:25

“But those who do not keep his commandments, flee from his life, and despise him. But he has his own honour with the Lord. All, therefore, who shall despise him, and not follow his commands, deliver themselves to death, and every one of them will be guilty of his own blood. But I enjoin you, that you obey his commands, and you will have a cure for your former sins.”
Shepherd of Hermas,3 Sim 10:2(A.D. 155),in ANF,II:55

“But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word shows, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.”
Justin Martyr,First Apology,6(A.D. 155),in ANF,I:177

“On this account also Paul the Apostle says to the Corinthians, ‘Know ye not, that they who run in a racecourse, do all indeed run, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. Every one also who engages in the contest is temperate in all things: now these men ida it] that they may obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. But I so run, not as uncertainty; I fight, not as One beating the air; but I make my body livid, and bring it into subjection, lest by any means, when preaching to others, I may myself be rendered a castaway.’ This able wrestler, therefore, exhorts us to the struggle for immortality, that we may be crowned, and may deem the crown precious, namely, that which is acquired by our struggle, but which does not encircle us of its own accord (sed non ultro coalitam).”
Irenaeus,Against Heresies,4:7(A.D. 180),in ANF,I:520

“But do you also, if you please, give reverential attention to the prophetic Scriptures, and they will make your way plainer for escaping the eternal punishments, and obtaining the eternal prizes of God. For He who gave the mouth for speech, and formed the ear to hear, and made the eye to see, will examine all things, and will judge righteous judgment, rendering merited awards to each. To those who by patient continuance in well-doing seek immortality, He will give life everlasting, joy, peace, rest, and abundance of good things, which neither hath eye seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive. But to the unbelieving and despisers, who obey not the truth, but are obedient to unrighteousness, when they shall have been filled with adulteries and fornications, and filthiness, and covetousness, and unlawful idolatries, there shall be anger and wrath, tribulation and anguish, and at the last everlasting fire shall possess such men. Since you said, “Show me thy God,” this is my God, and I counsel you to fear Him and to trust Him.”
Theophilius of Antioch,To Autolycus,I:14(A.D. 181),in ANF,II:93

” ‘And other sheep there are also,’ saith the Lord, ‘which are not of this fold ‘–deemed worthy of another fold and mansion, in proportion to their faith. ‘But My sheep hear My voice,’ understanding gnostically the commandments. And this is to be taken in a magnanimous and worthy acceptation, along with also the recompense and accompaniment of works. So that when we hear, ‘Thy faith hath saved thee, we do not understand Him to say absolutely that those who have believed in any way whatever shall be saved, unless also works follow. But it was to the Jews alone that He spoke this utterance, who kept the law and lived blamelessly, who wanted only faith in the Lord. No one, then, can be a believer and at the same time be licentious; but though he quit the flesh, he must put off the passions, so as to be capable of reaching his own mansion.”
Clement of Alexandria,The Stromata,6:14(A.D. 202),in ANF,II:505

“[T]hus by the grace of the Saviour healing their souls, enlightening them and leading them to the attainment of the truth; and whosoever obtains this and distinguishes himself in good works shall gain the prize of everlasting life… But others rightly and adequately comprehend this, but attaching slight importance to the works which tend to salvation, do not make the requisite preparation for attaining to the objects of their hope.”
Clement of Alexandria,Who is the rich man that shall be saved?,1,2(A.D. 210),in ANF,II:591

“[T]he apostolic teaching is that the soul, having a substance and life of its own, shall, after its departure from the world, be rewarded according to its deserts, being destined to obtain either an inheritance of eternal life and blessedness, if its actions shall have procured this for it, or to be delivered up to eternal fire and punishments, if the guilt of its crimes shall have brought it down to this”
Origen,First Principles,Preface 5(A.D. 230),in ANF,IV:240

“Whoever dies in his sins, even if he profess to believe in Christ, does not truly believe in Him, and even if that which exists without works be called faith, such faith is dead in itself, as we read in the Epistle bearing the name of James.”
Origen,Commentary on John,19:6(A.D. 232),in JUR,I:202

“And in like manner, the Gentiles by faith in Christ prepare for themselves eternal life through good works.”
Hippolytus,Commentary on Proverbs(ante A.D. 235),in ANF,V:174

“He, in administering the righteous judgment of the Father to all, assigns to each what is righteous according to his works….the justification will be seen in the awarding to each that which is just; since to those who have done well shall be assigned righteously eternal bliss, and to the lovers of iniquity shall be given eternal punishment. And the fire which is un-quenchable and without end awaits these latter, and a certain fiery worm which dieth not…But the righteous will remember only the righteous deeds by which they reached the heavenly kingdom, in which there is neither sleep, nor pain, nor corruption”
Hippolytus,Against Plato,3(ante A.D. 235),in ANF,V:222-223

“For both to prophesy and to cast out devils, and to do great acts upon the earth is certainly a sublime and an admirable thing; but one does not attain the kingdom of heaven although he is found in all these things, unless he walks in the observance of the right and just way. The Lord denounces, and says, ‘Many shall say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name have cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.’ There is need of righteousness, that one may deserve well of God the Judge; we must obey His precepts and warnings, that our merits may receive their reward. “
Cyprian,On the Unity of the Church,16(A.D. 251),in ANF,V:423

“You must pray more eagerly and entreat; you must spend the day in grief; wear out nights in watchings and weepings; occupy all your time in wailful lamentations; lying stretched on the ground, you must cling close to the ashes, be surrounded with sackcloth and filth; after losing the raiment of Christ, you must be willing now to have no clothing; after the devil’s meat, you must prefer fasting; be earnest in righteous works, whereby sins may be purged; frequently apply yourself to almsgiving, whereby souls are freed from death. What the adversary took from you, let Christ receive; nor ought your estate now either to be held or loved, by which you have been both deceived and conquered. Wealth must be avoided as an enemy; must be fled from as a robber; must be dreaded by its possessors as a sword and as poison. To this end only so much as remains should be of service, that by it the crime and the fault may be redeemed. Let good works be done without delay, and largely; let all your estate be laid out for the healing of your wound; let us lend of our wealth and our means to the Lord, who shall judge concerning us. Thus faith flourished in the time of the apostles; thus the first people of believers kept Christ’s commands: they were prompt, they were liberal, they gave their all to be distributed by the apostles; and yet they were not redeeming sins of such a character as these.”
Cyprian,On the Lapsed,35(A.D. 251),in ANF,V:447

“You therefore, who are rich and wealthy, buy for yourself of Christ gold tried by fire; that you may be pure gold, with your filth burnt out as if by fire, if you are purged by almsgiving and righteous works. Buy for yourself white raiment, that you who had been naked according to Adam, and were before frightful and unseemly, may be clothed with the white garment of Christ. And you who are a wealthy and rich matron in Christ’s Church, anoint your eyes, not with the collyrium of the devil, but with Christ’s eye-salve, that you may be able to attain to see God, by deserving well of God, both by good works and character.”
Cyprian,Works and Almsgiving,14(A.D. 252),in ANF,V:480

“For this reason He has given us this present life, that we may either lose that true and eternal life by our vices, or win it by virtue.”
Lactantius,Divine Institutes,7:5(A.D. 310),in ANF,VII:200

“But our faith thus teaches, that when men fall asleep, they sleep this slumber without knowing good from evil. And the righteous look not forward to their promises, nor do the wicked look forward to their sentence of punishment, until the Judge come and separate those whose place is at His right hand from those whose place is at His left. And be thou instructed by that which is written, that when the Judge shall sit, and the books be opened before Him and the good and evil deeds recited, then they that have wrought good works shall receive good rewards from Him Who is good; and they that have done evil deeds shall receive evil penalties from the just Judge… But hear, my beloved, this proof that retribution shall take place at the end. For when the Shepherd divides His flock and sets some on His right hand and some on His left. until He shall have acknowledged the service of the good, then He will cause them to inherit the kingdom; and until He shall have rebuked the evil and they are condemned, then He will send them to the torment.”
Aphrahat,Select Demonstrations,8:21(A.D. 345),in NPNF2,XIII:381-382

“Terrible in good truth is the judgment, and terrible the things announced. The kingdom of heaven is set before us, and everlasting fire is prepared. How then, some one will say, are we to escape the fire? And how to enter into the kingdom? I was an hungered, He says, and ye gave Me meat. Learn hence the way; there is here no need of allegory, but to fulfil what is said. I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took Me in; naked, and ye clothed Me; I was sick, and ye visited Me; I was in prison, and ye came unto Me. These things if thou do, thou shall reign together with Him; but if thou do them not, thou shalt be condemned. At once then begin to do these works, and abide in the faith; lest, like the foolish virgins, tarrying to buy oil, thou be shut out.”
Cyril of Jerusalem,Catechetical Lectures,15:26(A.D. 350),in NPNF2,VII:112

“We shall be raised therefore, all with our bodies eternal, but not all with bodies alike: for if a man is righteous, he will receive a heavenly body, that he may be able worthily to hold converse with Angels; but if a man is a sinner, he shall receive an eternal body, fitted to endure the penalties of sins, that he may burn eternally in fire, nor ever be consumed. And righteously will God assign this portion to either company; for we do nothing without the body. We blaspheme with the mouth, and with the mouth we pray. With the body we commit fornication, and with the body we keep chastity. With the hand we rob, and by the hand we bestow alms; and the rest in like manner. Since then the body has been our minister in all things, it shall also share with us in the future the fruits of the past. Therefore, brethren, let us be careful of our bodies, nor misuse them as though not our own. Let us not say like the heretics, that this vesture of the body belongs not to us, but let us be careful of it as our own; for we must give account to the Lord of all things done through the body. Say not, none seeth me; think not, that there is no witness of the deed. Human witness oftentimes there is not; but He who fashioned us, an unerring witness, abides faithful in heaven, and beholds what thou doest. And the stains of sin also remain in the body; for as when a wound has gone deep into the body, even if there has been a healing, the scar remains, so sin wounds soul and body, and the marks of its scars remain in all; and they are removed only from those who receive the washing of Baptism. The past wounds therefore of soul and body God heals by Baptism; against future ones let us one and all jointly guard ourselves, that we may keep this vestment of the body pure, and may not for practising fornication and sensual indulgence or any other sin for a short season, lose the salvation of heaven, but may inherit the eternal kingdom of God; of which may God, of His own grace, deem all of you worthy.”
Cyril of Jerusalem,Catechetical Lectures,18:19,20(A.D. 350),in NPNF2,VII:139

“For it is not productive of virtue, nor is it any token of goodness. For none of us is judged for what he knows not, and no one is called blessed because he hath learning and knowledge. But each one will be called to judgment in these points–whether he have kept the faith and truly observed the commandments.”
Athanasius,Life of Antony,33(A.D. 362),in NPNF2,IV:205

” ‘O Lord, my heart is not exalted, neither have mine eyes been lifted up.’ This Psalm, a short one, which demands an analytical rather than a homiletical treatment, teaches us the lesson of humility and meekness. Now, as we have in a great number of other places spoken about humility, there is no need to repeat the same things here. Of course we are bound to bear in mind in how great need our faith stands of humility when we hear the Prophet thus speaking of it as equivalent to the performance of the highest works: O Lord, my heart is not exalted. For a troubled heart is the noblest sacrifice in the eyes of God. The heart, therefore, must not be lifted up by prosperity, but humbly kept within the bounds of meekness through the fear of God.”
Hilary of Poitiers,Commentary on the Psalms,130/131:1(A.D. 365),in NPNF2,IX:247

“Finally Scripture teaches us how far from common are these stones, inasmuch as, whilst some brought one kind, and others another, of less precious offerings, these the devout princes brought, wearing them upon their shoulders, and made of them the ‘breastplate of judgment,’ that is, a piece of woven work. Now we have a woven work, when faith and action go together. Let none suppose me to be misguided, in that I made at first a threefold division, each part containing four, and afterwards a fourfold division, each part containing three terms. The beauty of a good thing pleases the more, if it be shown under various aspects. For those are good things, whereof the texture of the priestly robe was the token, that is to say, either the Law, or the Church, which latter hath made two garments for her spouse, as it is written’–the one of action, the other of spirit, weaving together the threads of faith and works…. Faith is profitable, therefore, when her brow is bright with a fair crown of good works. This faith–that I may set the matter forth shortly–is contained in the following principles, which cannot be overthrown.”
Ambrose,On the Christian Faith,II:11,13(A.D. 380),in NPNF2,X:225

“Then, in the tenth place, work that which is good upon this foundation of dogma; for faith without works is dead, even as are works apart from faith. This is all that may be divulged of the Sacrament, and that is not forbidden to the ear of the many. The rest yon shall learn within the Church by the grace of the Holy Trinity; and those matters you shall conceal within yourself, sealed and secure.”
Gregory of Nazianzen,Oration on Holy Baptism,45(A.D. 381),in NPNF2,VII:377

” ‘Is it then enough,’ saith one,’to believe on the Son, that one may have eternal life?’ By no means. And hear Christ Himself declaring this, and saying, “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. vii. 21); and the blasphemy against the Spirit is enough of itself to cast a man into hell. But why speak I of a portion of doctrine? Though a man believe rightly on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, yet if he lead not a right life, his faith will avail nothing towards his salvation.”
Chrysostom John,Homilies on John,31:1(A.D. 391),in NPNF1,XIV:106

“You had a wife, the apostle says, when you believed. Do not fancy your faith in Christ to be a reason for parting from her. For ‘God hath called us in peace.’ ‘Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing but the keeping of the commandments of God.’ Neither celibacy nor wedlock is of the slightest use without works, since even faith, the distinguishing mark of Christians, if it have not works, is said to be dead, and on such terms as these the virgins of Vesta or of Juno, who was constant to one husband, might claim to be numbered among the saints.”
Jerome,To Pammachius,Epistle 48:6(A.D. 393),in NPNF2,VI:69

“Paul, joining righteousness to faith and weaving them together, constructs of them the breastsplates for the infantryman, armoring the soldier properly and safely on both sides. A soldier cannot be considered safely armored when either shield is disjoined from the other. For faith without works of justice is not sufficient for salvation; neither, however, is righteous living secure in itself of salvation, if it is disjoined from faith.”
Gregory of Nyssa,Homilies on Ecclesiastes,8(A.D. 394),in JUR,II:45-46

“There is no gift of God more excellent than this. It alone distinguishes the sons of the eternal kingdom and the sons of eternal perdition. Other gifts, too, are given by the Holy Spirit; but without love they profit nothing. Unless, therefore, the Holy Spirit is so far imparted to each, as to make him one who loves God and his neighbor, he is not removed from the left hand to the right. Nor is the Spirit specially called the Gift, unless on account of love. And he who has not this love, ‘though he speak with the tongues of men and angels, is sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal; and though he have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and though he have all faith, so that he can remove mountains, he is nothing; and though he bestow all his goods to feed the poor, and though he give his body to be burned, it profiteth him nothing.’ How great a good, then, is that without which goods so great bring no one to eternal life! But love or charity itself,–for they are two names for one thing,–if he have it that does not speak with tongues, nor has the gift of prophecy, nor knows all mysteries and all knowledge, nor gives all his goods to the poor, either because he has none to give or because some necessity hinders, nor delivers his body to be burned, if no trial of such a suffering overtakes him, brings that man to the kingdom, so that faith itself is only rendered profitable by love, since faith without love can indeed exist, but cannot profit. And therefore also the Apostle Paul says, ‘In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by love:’ so distinguishing it from that faith by which even ‘the devils believe and tremble.’ Love, therefore, which is of God and is God, is specially the Holy Spirit, by whom the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by which love the whole Trinity dwells in us. And therefore most rightly is the Holy Spirit, although He is God, called also the gift of God. And by that gift what else can properly be understood except love, which brings to God, and without which any other gift of God whatsoever does not bring to God?”
Augustine,On the Trinity,15:18,32(A.D. 416),in NPNF1,III:217

“According to the Catholic faith we believe this also, that after grace has been received through baptism, all the baptized with the help and cooperation of Christ can and ought to fufill what pertains to the salvation of the soul, if they will labor faithfully.”
Council of Orange II,Predestination (A.D. 529),in DEN,81

“They acknowledge that they know God, but in deeds they deny Him (Tit. i. 16). And John says, He that saith that he knows Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar (1 John ii. 4). James also, the brother of the Lord, writes saying, Faith without works is dead (Jam. ii. 20). If, then, believers now are not saved without good works, while the unbelieving and reprobate without good action were saved by our Lord descending into hell, then the lot of those who never saw the incarnation of the Lord was better than that of these who have been born after the mystery of His incarnation.”
Gregory the Great.Pope [regn. A.D. 590-604],To George(Presbyter),Epistle 15,in NPNF2,XII:216

“If good life is wanting, faith has no merit, as the blessed James attests, who says, Faith without works is dead (Jam; ii. 18).”
Gregory the Great, Pope [regn. A.D. 590-604],To Theoderic,Epistle 110,in NPNF2,XIII:29

“The remission of sins, therefore, is granted alike to all through baptism: but the grace of the Spirit is proportional to the faith and previous purification. Now, indeed, we receive the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit through baptism, and the second birth is for us the beginning and seal and security and illumination s of another life. It behoves as, then, with all our strength to steadfastly keep ourselves pure from filthy works, that we may not, like the dog returning to his vomit, make ourselves again the slaves of sin. For faith apart from works is dead, and so likewise are works apart from faith. For the true faith is attested by works.”
John Damascene,Orthodox Faith,9(A.D. 743),in NPNF2,IX:73

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