Continuation of the Exposition of 1 Tim. vi. 20
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."
"Profane novelties of words" What words are these? Such as have nothing sacred, nothing religious, words utterly" remote from the inmost sanctuary of the Church which is the temple of God. "Profane novelties of words, that is, of doctrines, subjects, opinions, such as are contrary to antiquity and the faith of the olden time. Which if they be received, it follows necessarily that the faith of the blessed fathers is violated either in whole, or at all events in great part; it follows necessarily that all the faithful of all ages, all the saints, the chaste, the continent, the virgins, all the clergy, Deacons and Priests, so many thousands of Confessors, so vast an army of martyrs, such multitudes of cities and of peoples, so many islands, provinces, kings, tribes, kingdoms, nations, in a word, almost the whole earth, incorporated in Christ the Head, through the Catholic faith, have been ignorant for so long a tract of time, have been mistaken, have blasphemed, have not known what to believe, what to confess.
"Shun profane novelties of words," which to receive and follow was never the part of Catholics; of heretics always was. In sooth, what heresy ever burst forth save under a definite name, at a definite place, at a definite time? Who ever originated a heresy that did not first dissever himself from the consentient agreement of the universality and antiquity of the Catholic Church ? That this is so is demonstrated in the clearest way by examples. For who ever before that profane Pelagius attributed so much antecedent strength to Free-will, as to deny the necessity of God's grace to aid it towards good in every single act? Who ever before his monstrous disciple Coelestius denied that the whole human race is involved in the guilt of Adam's sin? Who ever before sacrilegious Arius dared to rend asunder the unity of the Trinity? Who before impious Sabellius was so audacious as to confound the Trinity of the Unity? Who before cruellest Novatian represented God as cruel in that He had rather the wicked should die than that he should be converted and live? Who before Simon Magus, who was smitten by the apostle's rebuke, and from whom that ancient sink of every thing vile has flowed by a secret continuous succession even to Priscillian of our own time,--who, I say, before this Simon Magus, dared to say that God, the Creator, is the author of evil, that is, of our wickednesses, impieties, flagitiousnesses, inasmuch as he asserts that He created with His own hands a human nature of such a description, that of its own motion, and by the impulse of its necessity-constrained will, it can do nothing else, can will nothing else, but sin, seeing that tossed to and fro, and set on fire by the furies of all sorts of vices, it is hurried away by unquenchable lust into the utmost extremes of baseness?
There are innumerable instances of this kind, which for brevity's sake, pass over; by all of which, however, it is manifestly and clearly shown, that it is an established law, in the case of almost all heresies, that they evermore delight in profane novelties, scorn the decisions of antiquity, and, through oppositions of science falsely so called, make shipwreck of the faith. On the other hand, it is the sure characteristic of Catholics to keep that which has been committed to their trust by the holy Fathers, to condemn profane novelties, and, in the apostle's words, once and again repeated, to anathematize every one who preaches any other doctrine than that which has been received.
The St. Pachomius Orthodox Library, Sts. Athanasius and Cyril 2001.
Have mercy, O Lord, upon Thy servants, the translator Charles, the priest John, the deacon Vladimir, and the websexton Benjamin!