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The appeal is thus to Churches and their bishops, none but bishops being the authoritative exponents of the doctrine of their Churches.

As late as 341 the bishops of the Dedication Council at Antioch declared: "We are not followers of Arius ; for how could we, who are bishops, be disciples of a priest ?

The word Father is used in the New Testament to mean a teacher of spiritual things, by whose means the soul of man is born again into the likeness of Christ : "For if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers.

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It follows that, as our own Fathers are the predecessors who have taught us, so the Fathers of the whole Church are especially the earlier teachers, who instructed her in the teaching of the Apostles, during her infancy and first growth. Bernard as a writer lies in his resemblance in style and matter to the greatest among the Fathers, in spite of the difference of period. It is still applied to those writers who are to us the ancients, but no longer in the same way to writers who are now recent.

It is difficult to define the first age of the Church, or the age of the Fathers. Appeals to the Fathers are a subdivision of appeals to tradition.

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But he is also regarded by the early Fathers, such as Hegesippus, Irenaeus, and Tertullian as the recipient of the tradition of his predecessors in the see, and consequently as the witness and representative of the faith of his Church before Catholicity and the world.

Hence the expression "the Fathers" comes naturally to be applied to the holy bishops of a preceding age, whether of the last generation or further back, since they are the parents at whose knee the Church of today was taught her belief.

Leo, of the Princes of the Apostles, speaking to the Romans; St. 1153) was the last of the Fathers, and Migne's "Patrologia Latina" extends to Innocent III, halting only on the verge of the thirteenth century, while his "Patrologia Graeca" goes as far as the Council of Florence (1438-9). 735) are to be classed among the Fathers, but they may be said to have been born out of due time, as St. Thus the use of the term Fathers has been continuous, yet it could not at first he employed in precisely the modern sense of Fathers of the Church.

Hilary of Arles calls them sancti patres ; Clement of Alexandria says that his teachers, from Greece, Ionia, Coele-Syria, Egypt, the Orient, Assyria, Palestine, respectively, had handed on to him the tradition of blessed teaching from Peter, and James, and John, and Paul, receiving it "as son from father". These limits are evidently too wide, It will be best to consider that the great merit of St. In early days the expression referred to writers who were then quite recent.

" Yet slowly, as the appeals to the presbyters died out, there was arising by the side of appeals to the Churches a third method: the custom of appealing to Christian teachers who were not necessarily bishops.

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