(II.) ST. IGNATIUS

When St. Ignatius, on his way to martyrdom, wrote from Smyrna to the Roman Church, he mentioned neither its bishop nor its clergy. His silence about the Roman bishop is no proof that Rome had then no single chief pastor, unless it also proves that she had then no priests or deacons; while he "speaks of episcopacy as a thing perfectly familiar, at any rate, to the Church of Rome." [1] But if

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Ignatius had known, as on the Vaticanist hypothesis he must have known, that, let us say, Alexander I. of Rome had what we should now call "ordinary jurisdiction" in Antioch, and that he himself held office by his authorisation, and was responsible to him for the administration of the Antiochene episcopate, is it conceivable that in a letter containing the words "I am not giving you directions, like Peter and Paul," he should send no dutiful message to his ecclesiastical sovereign, and should not so much as allude to him when remarking, "Jesus Christ alone, and your love, will exercise an episcopate in my stead"? But then we are reminded of phrases used by Ignatius in the beginning of this letter; the Roman Church, it is said, "presides in the place of the territory of the Romans, and has a presidency of love." The first phrase indicates no more than her pre-eminence among Italian Churches; [2] the

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second has been absurdly strained by treating "love" as a synonym for "the whole Christian community," [3] (without any such limitation as the other clause suggests), whereas it naturally points to the peculiar conspicuousness of the Roman Church in the matter of generous charity, to which, as Bishop Lightfoot aptly remarks, Dionysius of Corinth bore testimony, and which Dionysius of Rome exhibited by sending relief to sufferers in Asia Minor. [4]

Notes

[1] Church Quart. Review, xi. 287. Ignatius asks the Romans to praise God "because He deemed ton episkopon Surias worthy to be found in the West" (c. 2), and says as for the Syrian Church, monos authn Ihsous Christos episkophsei kai h umwn agaph (c. 9). "No one can doubt that the idea of Church government now universal among Catholics is here, and that the Roman church is supposed heartily to appreciate it. The saint ... assumes undoubtedly that the Roman Christians recognise a difference between the first and second orders of the ministry; ... otherwise, supposing the Romans ignorant of such a distinction, he would give them a notion that Syria was left, not only without a supreme head, but without any presbyters at all."

[2] Mr. Rivington, indeed, takes it of "the centre, not the extent, of the presiding authority" (p. 33). "Authority" is here slipped in, and the gloss means that Ignatius may have believed in a universal papal supremacy. Is it a natural interpretation? Apply it to Cyprian de Unit. 5, "Episcopi qui in ecclesia praesidemus."

[3] Mr. Rivington confidently, more suo, pp. 33, 134, adopts the rendering of prokaqhmenh ths agaphs which suits his thesis, and quotes Döllinger in support of it; but Döllinger in his later life expressly said that the earlier edition of his "History of the Church" required to be altered in every line. See Dr. Plummer's letter in the "Guardian" of Dec. 12, 1894. Let any one consider whether Ignatius would have put such an enigmatical expression as "presidency over the love," i. e. over the Church, into the fore-front of the letter to the matter-of-fact Romans. Funk's references to other Ignatian passages, in support of this gloss, are irrelevant; for there "love" is ascribed to the "brethren," the "churches," etc.

[4] Compare Euseb. iv. 23; vii. 5; Basil, Ep. 70.