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Lightfoot's Apostolic Fathers In English - J. B. Lightfoot, D. D., D.C. L., LL. D.

1. ‘I charge thee,’ saith he, ‘to keep purity, and let not a thought enter into thy heart concerning another’s wife, or concerning fornication, or concerning any such like evil deeds; for in so doing thou committest a great sin. But remember thine own wife always, and thou shalt never go wrong. 2For should this desire enter into thine heart, thou wilt go wrong, and should any other as evil as this, thou committest sin. For this desire in a servant of God is a great sin; and if any man doeth this evil deed, he worketh out death for himself. 3Look to it therefore. Abstain from this desire; for, where holiness dwelleth, there lawlessness ought not to enter into the heart of a righteous man.’ 4I say to him, ‘Sir, permit me to ask thee a few more questions.’ ‘Say on,’ saith he. ‘Sir,’ say I, ‘if a man who has a wife that is faithful in the Lord detect her in adultery, doth the husband sin in living with her?’ 5‘So long as he is ignorant,’ saith he, ‘he sinneth not; but if the husband know of her sin, and the wife repent not, but continue in her fornication, and her husband live with her, he makes himself responsible for her sin and an accomplice in her adultery.’ 6‘What then, Sir,’ say I, ‘shall the husband do, if the wife continue in this case?’ ‘Let him divorce her,’ saith he, ‘and let the husband abide alone: but if after divorcing his wife he shall marry another, he likewise committeth adultery.’ 7‘If then, Sir,’ say I, ‘after the wife is divorced, she repent and desire to return to her own husband, shall she not be received?’ 8‘Certainly,’ saith he, ‘if the husband receiveth her not, he sinneth and bringeth great sin upon himself; nay, one who hath sinned and repented must be received, yet not often; for there is but one repentance for the servants of God. For the sake of her repentance therefore the husband ought not to marry. This is the manner of acting enjoined on husband and wife. 9Not only,’ saith he, ‘is it adultery, if a man pollute his flesh, but whosoever doeth things like unto the heathen committeth adultery. If therefore in such deeds as these likewise a man continue and repent not, keep away from him, and live not with him. Otherwise, thou also art a partaker of his sin. 10For this cause ye were enjoined to remain single, whether husband or wife; for in such cases repentance is possible. 11I,’ said he, ‘am not giving an excuse that this matter should be concluded thus, but to the end that the sinner should sin no more. But as concerning his former sin, there is One Who is able to give healing; it is He Who hath authority over all things.’

2. I asked him again, saying, ‘Seeing that the Lord held me worthy that thou shouldest always dwell with me, suffer me still to say a few words, since I understand nothing, and my heart has been made dense by my former deeds. Make me to understand, for I am very foolish, and I apprehend absolutely nothing.’ 2He answered and said unto me, ‘I,’ saith he, ‘preside over repentance, and I give understanding to all who repent. Nay, thinkest thou not,’ saith he, ‘that this very act of repentance is understanding? To repent is great understanding,’ saith he. ‘For the man that hath sinned understandeth that he hath done evil before the Lord, and the deed which he hath done entereth into his heart, and he repenteth, and doeth no more evil, but doeth good lavishly, and humbleth his own soul and putteth it to torture because it sinned. Thou seest then that repentance is great understanding.’ 3‘It is on this account therefore, Sir,’ say I, ‘that I enquire everything accurately of thee; first, because I am a sinner; secondly, because I know not what deeds I must do that I may live, for my sins are many and various.’ 4‘Thou shalt live,’ saith he, ‘if thou keep my commandments and walk in them; and whosoever shall hear these commandments and keep them, shall live unto God.’

3. ‘I will still proceed, Sir,’ say I, ‘to ask a further question.’ ‘Speak on,’ saith he. ‘I have heard, Sir,’ say I, ‘from certain teachers, that there is no other repentance, save that which took place when we went down into the water and obtained remission of our former sins.’ 2He saith to me; ‘Thou hast well heard; for so it is. For he that hath received remission of sins ought no longer to sin, but to dwell in purity. 3But, since thou enquirest all things accurately, I will declare unto thee this also, so as to give no excuse to those who shall hereafter believe, or those who have already believed, on the Lord. For they that have already believed, or shall hereafter believe, have not repentance for sins, but have only remission of their former sins. 4To those then that were called before these days the Lord has appointed repentance. For the Lord, being a discerner of hearts and foreknowing all things, perceived the weakness of men and the manifold wiles of the devil, how that he will be doing some mischief to the servants of God, and will deal wickedly with them. 5The Lord then, being very compassionate, had pity on His handiwork, and appointed this (opportunity of) repentance, and to me was given the authority over this repentance. 6But I say unto you,’ saith he, ‘if after this great and holy calling any one, being tempted of the devil, shall commit sin, he hath only one (opportunity of) repentance. But if he sin off-hand and repent, repentance is unprofitable for such a man; for he shall live with difficulty.’ 7I say unto him, ‘I was quickened into life again, when I heard these things from thee so precisely. For I know that, if I shall add no more to my sins, I shall be saved.’ ‘Thou shalt be saved,’ he saith, ‘thou and all, as many as shall do these things.’

4. I asked him again, saying, ‘Sir, since once thou dost bear with me, declare unto me this further matter also.’ ‘Say on,’ saith he. ‘If a wife, Sir,’ say I, ‘or, it may be, a husband fall asleep, and one of them marry, doth the one that marrieth sin?’ 2‘He sinneth not,’ saith he, ‘but if he remain single, he investeth himself with more exceeding honour and with great glory before the Lord; yet even if he should marry, he sinneth not. 3Preserve purity and holiness therefore, and thou shalt live unto God. All these things, which I speak and shall hereafter speak unto thee, guard from this time forward, from the day when thou wast committed unto me, and I will dwell in thy house. 4But for thy former transgressions there shall be remission, if thou keepest my commandments. Yea, and all shall have remission, if they keep these my commandments, and walk in this purity.’








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