The Early Church Fathers on various topics: This was a 3700 hour project which included going through 22896 pages of the 38 volume set called Ante Nicene, Nicene, Post Nicene Fathers. I compiled 255 pages of quotes showing that the Early Church was always and completely Catholic. All of these quotes can be verified and found from the source which is free online.
Clement of Rome First Epistle ch (44 27-97 ad)Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole Church, and who have blame-lessly served the flock of Christ in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties.
Clement Recognitions book 1 (27-97 ad)
The epistle in which the same Clement, writing to James the Lord's brother, informs him of the death of Peter, and that he had left him his successor in his chair and teaching, and in which also the whole subject of church order is treated, I have not prefixed to this work, both because it is of later date, and because I have already translated and published it. But I do not think it out of place to explain here what in that letter will perhaps seem to some to be inconsistent. For some ask, Since Linus and Cletus were bishops in the city of Rome before this Clement, how could Clement himself, writing to James, say that the chair of teaching was handed over to him by Peter? Now of this we have heard this explanation, that Linus and Cletus were indeed bishops in the city of Rome before Clement, but during the lifetime of Peter: that is, that they undertook the care of the episcopate, and that he fulfilled the office of apostleship; as is found also to have been the case at Caesarea, where, when he himself was present, he yet had Zacchaeus, ordained by himself, as bishop. And in this way both statements will appear to be true, both that these bishops are reckoned before Clement, and yet that Clement received the teacher's seat on the death of Peter.
Teachings of the Apostles Syriac
They too, again, at their deaths committed and delivered to their disciples after them whatsoever they had received from the apostles; also what James had written from Jerusalem, and Simon from the city of Rome, and John from Ephesus, and Mark from Alexandria the Great, and Andrew from Phrygia, and Luke from Macedonia, and Judas Thomas from India: that the epistles of an apostle might be received and read in the churches that were in every place, just as the achievements of their Acts, which Luke wrote
Irenaeus of Lyons Adversus Haereses Book III Ch 2.2 [120-180 AD]
But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth.
Irenaeus of Lyons Adversus Haereses Book III, ch 3.1 [120-180 AD]
"It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known to us throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times, men who neither knew nor taught anything like what these heretics rave about"
Irenaeus of Lyons Adversus Haereses Book III, ch 3.2 [120-180 AD]
"But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul-that church which has the tradition and the faith with which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world. And it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition"
Irenaeus of Lyons Adversus Haereses book 3 ch 3.4 [120-180 AD]
But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time -- a man who was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles -- that, namely, which is handed down by the Church. There are also those who heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, "Let us fly,
Irenaeus of Lyons Adversus Haereses Book III, ch 4.1 [120-180 AD]
"Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth, so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. . . . For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient churches with which the apostles held constant conversation, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question?"
Irenaeus of Lyons Adversus Haereses Book IV ch26.2 [120-180 AD]
"[I]t is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church-those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the infallible charism of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth"
Irenaeus of Lyons Adversus Haereses Book IV ch 33.8 [120-180 AD]
"The true knowledge is the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the succession of bishops, by which succession the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere"
Irenaeus of Lyon Fragments 2 (120-180 ad)
Whatsoever things he had heard from them respecting the Lord, both with regard to His miracles and His teaching, Polycarp having thus received [information] from the eye-witnesses of the Word of life, would recount them all in harmony with the Scriptures. These things, through, God's mercy which was upon me, I then listened to attentively, and treasured them up not on paper, but in my heart; and I am continually, by God's grace, revolving these things accurately in my mind.
Tertullian The Prescription Against Heretics ch 20 [160-240 AD]
"[The apostles] founded 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, [founded] by the apostles, from which they all [spring]. In this way, all are primitive, and all are apostolic, while they are all proved to be one in unity"
Tertullian The Prescription Against Heretics ch 21 [160-240 AD]
"[W]hat it was which Christ revealed to them [the apostles] can, as I must here likewise prescribe, properly be proved in no other way than by those very churches which the apostles founded in person, by declaring the gospel to them directly themselves . . . If then these things are so, it is in the same degree manifest that all doctrine which agrees with the apostolic churches-those molds and original sources of the faith must be reckoned for truth, as undoubtedly containing that which the churches received from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, [and] Christ from God. Whereas all doctrine must be prejudged as false which savors of contrariety to the truth of the churches and apostles of Christ and God. It remains, then, that we demonstrate whether this doctrine of ours, of which we have now given the rule, has its origin in the tradition of the apostles, and whether all other doctrines do not ipso facto proceed from falsehood"
Tertullian Prescription Against Heretics ch 32 (160- 240 ad)
But if there be any (heresies) which are bold enough to plant themselves in the midst Of the apostolic age, that they may thereby seem to have been handed down by the apostles, because they existed in the time of the apostles, we can say: Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [that first bishop of theirs] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men,--a man, moreover, who continued stedfast with the apostles. For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter. In exactly the same way the other churches likewise exhibit (their several worthies), whom, as having been appointed to their episcopal places by apostles, they regard as transmitters of the apostolic seed…Then let all the heresies, when challenged to these two tests by our apostolic church, offer their proof of how they deem themselves to be apostolic.
Tertullian Prescription Against Heretics ch 36 (160-240 ad)
Come now, you who would indulge a better curiosity, if you would apply it to the business of your salvation, run over the apostolic churches, in which the very thrones of the apostles are still pre-eminent in their places, in which their own authentic writings are read, uttering the voice and representing the face of each of them severally. Achaia is very near you, (in which) you find Corinth. Since you are not far from Macedonia, you have Philippi; cross to Asia, you get Ephesus. Since, moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority (of apostles themselves). How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood!
Tertullian Against Marcion book 1 ch 1 (160-240 ad)
This is most easily proved by an examination of both the apostolic and the heretical churches, from which we are forced to declare that there is undoubtedly a subversion of the rule (of faith), where any opinion is found of later date
Hippolytus Extant Works and Fragments Preface (170-236 ad)
And Moses delivered it to Joshua the son of Nun.to And Joshua the son of Nun delivered it Anathal. [+] And Anathal delivered it to Jehud. [+] And Jehud delivered it to Samgar. [+] And Samgar delivered it to Baruk. [+] And Baruk delivered it to Gideon. [+] And Gideon delivered it to Abimelech. [+] And Abimelech delivered it to Taleg. [+] And Taleg delivered it to Babin the Gileadite. [+] And Babin delivered it to Jiphtach. [+] And Jiphtach delivered it to Ephran. [+] And Ephran delivered it to Elul of the tribe Zebulon. [+] And Elul delivered it to Abdan. [+] And Abdan delivered it to Shimshon the brave. [+] And Shimshon delivered it to Helkanah, the son of Jerachmu, the son ofJehud. [+] Moreover, he was the father of Samuel the prophet. Of thisHelkanah mention is made in the beginning of the first book of Kings (Samuel). [+] And Helkanah delivered it to Eli the priest. And Eli delivered it toSamuel the prophet. [+] And Samuel delivered it to Nathan the prophet. [+] And Nathan delivered it to Gad the prophet. [+] And Gad the prophet delivered it to Shemaiah the teacher. [+] And Shemaiah delivered it to Iddo the teacher. [+] And Iddo delivered it to Achia. [+] And Achia delivered it to Abihu. [+] And Abihu delivered it to Elias the prophet. [+] And Elias delivered it to his disciple Elisaeus. [+] And Elisaeus delivered it to Malachia the prophet. [+] And Malachia delivered it to Abdiahu. [+] And Abdiahu delivered it to Jehuda. [+] And Jehuda delivered it to Zacharias the teacher. [+] In those days came Bachthansar king of Babel, and laid waste the house of the sanctuary, and carried the children of Israel into captivity to Babel. [+] And after the captivity of Babel, Zacharia the teacher delivered it to Esaia the prophet, the son of Amos. [+] And Esaia delivered it to Jeremia the prophet. [+] And Jeremia the prophet delivered it to Chizkiel. [+] And Chizkiel the prophet delivered it to Hosea the prophet, the son of Bazi. [+] And Hosea delivered it to Joiel the prophet. [+] And Joiel delivered it to Amos the prophet. [+] And Amos delivered it to Obadia. [+] And Obadia delivered it to Jonan the prophet, the son of Mathi, the son of Armelah, who was the brother of Elias the prophet. [+] And Jonan delivered it to Micha the Morasthite, who delivered it to Nachum the Alcusite. [+] And Nachum delivered it to Chabakuk the prophet. [+] And Chabakuk delivered it to Sophonia the prophet. [+] And Sophonia delivered it to Chaggaeus the prophet. [+] And Chaggaeus delivered it to Zecharia the prophet, the son of Bershia. [+] And Zecharia, when in captivity, delivered it to Malachia. [+] And Malachia delivered it to Ezra the teacher. And Ezra delivered it to Shamai the chief priest, and Jadua to Samean, (and) Samean delivered it to Antigonus. [+] And Antigonus delivered it to Joseph the son of Johezer, (and) Joseph the son of Gjuchanan. [+] And Joseph delivered it to Jehosua, the son of Barachia. [+] And Jehosua delivered it to Nathan the Arbelite. [+] And Nathan delivered it to Shimeon, the elder son of Shebach. This is he who carried the Messias in his arms. [+] Simeon delivered it to Jehuda. [+] Jehuda delivered it to Zecharia the priest. [+] And Zecharia the priest, the father of John the Baptist, delivered it to Joseph, a teacher of his own tribe. [+] And Joseph delivered it to Hanan and Caiaphas. Moreover, from them were taken away the priestly, and kingly, and prophetic offices. [+] These were teachers at the advent of Messias; and they were both priests of the children of Israel. Therefore the whole number of venerable and honourable priests put in trust of this most excellent law was fifty-six, Hanan (i.e., Annas) and Caiaphas being excepted. [+] And those are they who delivered it in the last days to the state of the children of Israel; nor did there arise any priests after them. [+] This is the account of what took place with regard to the most excellent law. [+]
Hippolytus Refutation of All Heresies book 9 ch 7 (170-236 ad)
And withal, after such audacious acts, they, lost to all shame, attempt to call themselves a Catholic Church! And some, under the supposition that they will attain prosperity, concur with them. During the episcopate of this one, second baptism was for the first time presumptuously attempted by them.
Origen De Principiis Book 4 par 8 [185-254 AD]
through His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, what appears to us, who observe things by a right way of understanding, to be the standard and discipline delivered to the apostles by Jesus Christ, and which they handed down in succession to their posterity, the teachers of the holy Church.
Seventh Council of Carthage (257 ad)
Clarus of Mascula said: The sentence of our Lord Jesus Christ is plain, when He sent His apostles, and accorded to them alone the power given to Him by His Father; and to them we have succeeded, governing the Lord's Church with the same power, and baptizing the faith of believers. And therefore heretics, who neither have power without, nor have the Church of Christ, are able to baptize no one with His baptism.
Cyprian of Carthage epistle 41 par 3 (200-270 ad)
For this, my brother, we especially both labour after, and ought to labour after, to be careful to maintain as much as we can the unity delivered by the Lord, and through His apostles to us their successors, and, as far as in us lies, to gather into the Church the dispersed and wandering sheep which the wilful faction and heretical temptation of some is separating from their Mother
Cyprian of Carthage epistle 74 par 16 (200-270 ad)
But what is the greatness of his error, and what the depth of his blindness, who says that remission of sins can be granted in the synagogues of heretics, and does not abide on the foundation of the one Church which was once based by Christ upon the rock, may be perceived from this, that Christ said to Peter alone, "Whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." And again, in the Gospel, when Christ breathed on the apostles alone, saying, remitted unto them, and whose soever sins ye retain they are retained." Therefore the power of remitting sins was given to the apostles, and to the churches which they, sent by Christ, established, and to the bishops who succeeded to them by vicarious ordination. But the enemies of the one Catholic Church in which we are, and the adversaries of us who have succeeded the apostles, asserting for themselves, in opposition to us, unlawful priesthoods, and setting up profane altars, what else are they than Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, profane with a like wickedness, and about to suffer the same punishments which they did, as well as those who agree with them, just as their partners and abettors perished with a like death to theirs?
Cyprian of Carthage epistle 75 par 3 (200-270 ad)
"[T]he Church is one, and as she is one, cannot be both within and without. For if she is with [the heretic] Novatian, she was not with [Pope] Cornelius. But if she was with Cornelius, who succeeded the bishop [of Rome], Fabian, by lawful ordination, and whom, beside the honor of the priesthood the Lord glorified also with martyrdom, Novatian is not in the Church; nor can he be reckoned as a bishop, who, succeeding to no one, and despising the evangelical and apostolic tradition, sprang from himself. For he who has not been ordained in the Church can neither have nor hold to the Church in any way"
Cyprian of Carthage epistle 68 par 4 (200-270 ad)
Christ, who says to the apostles, and thereby to all chief rulers, who by vicarious ordination succeed to the apostles: "He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that heareth me, heareth Him that sent me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me, and Him that sent me." (lk 10:16)
Cyprian of Carthage epistle 75 par 6 (200-270 ad)
how hopeless are they, and what excessive ruin they earn for themselves from the indignation of God, who make a schism, and, forsaking their bishop, appoint another false bishop for themselves without,--Holy Scripture declares in the books of Kings; where ten tribes were divided from the tribe of Judah and Benjamin, and, forsaking their king, appointed for themselves another one without. It says, "And the Lord was very angry with all the seed of Israel, and removed them away, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until He had cast them out of His sight; for Israel was scattered from the house of David, and they made themselves a king, Jeroboam the son of Nebat." It says that the Lord was very angry, and gave them up to perdition, because they were scattered from unity, and had made another king for themselves. And so great was the indignation of the Lord against those who had made the schism, that even when the man of God was sent to Jeroboam, to charge upon him his sins, and predict the future vengeance, he was forbidden to eat bread or to drink water with them. And when he did not observe this, and took meat against the command of God, he was immediately smitten by the majesty of the divine judgment (eucharist analogy at the end)
Peter of Alexandria Genuine Acts of Peter (260-311ad)
A cycle of two hundred and eighty-five years from the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ had rolled round, when the venerable Theonas, the bishop of this city, by an ethereal flight, mounted upwards to the celestial kingdoms. To him Peter, succeeding at the helm of the Church, was by all the clergy and the whole Christian community appointed bishop, the sixteenth in order from Mark the Evangelist, who was also archbishop of the city.
Eusebius of Caesarea Church History book 7 (295-340ad)
Zambdas received the episcopate of the church of Jerusalem after the bishop Hymenaeus, whom we mentioned a little above. He died in a short time, and Hermon, the last before the persecution in our day, succeeded to the apostolic chair, which has been preserved there until the present time.
Eusebius of Caesarea Church History book 3 (295-340ad)
As to the rest of his followers, Paul testifies that Crescens was sent to Gaul; but Linus, whom he mentions in the Second Epistle to Timothy as his companion at Rome, was Peter's successor in the episcopate of the church there,
Eusebius of Caesarea Church History book 3 (295-340ad)
we have felt compelled to give this catalogue in order that we might be able to know both these works and those that are cited by the heretics under the name of the apostles, including, for instance, such books as the Gospels of Peter, of Thomas, of Matthias, or of any others besides them, and the Acts of Andrew and John and the other apostles, which no one belonging to the succession of ecclesiastical writers has deemed worthy of mention in his writings
Eusebius of Caesarea Church History book 3 (295-340ad)
But the events connected with the apostolic succession we shall relate at the proper time.
Eusebius of Caesarea Church History book 4 (295-340ad)
At that time also Alexander, the fifth in the line of succession from Peter and Paul, received the episcopate at Rome, after Evarestus had held the office eight years
Eusebius of Caesarea Church History book 4 (295-340ad)
In the eighth year of the above-mentioned reign Soter succeeded Anicetus as bishop of the church of Rome, after the latter had held office eleven years in all. But when Celadion had presided over the church of Alexandria for fourteen years tie was succeeded by Agrippinus. [+] At that time also in the church of Antioch, was well known as the sixth from the apostles. For Cornelius, who succeeded Hero, was the fourth, and after him Eros, the fifth in order, had held the office of bishop. [+] AT that time there flourished in the Church Hegesippus, whom we know from what has gone before, and Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, and another bishop, Pinytus of Crete, and besides these, Philip, and Apolinarius, and Melito, and Musanus, and Modestus, and finally, Irenaeus. From them has come down to us in writing, the sound and orthodox faith received from apostolic tradition
Eusebius of Caesarea Church History book 4 (295-340ad)
And from the Syriac Gospel according to the Hebrews he quotes some passages in the Hebrew tongue, showing that he was a convert from the Hebrews, and he mentions other matters as taken from the unwritten tradition of the Jews
Eusebius of Caesarea Church History book 1 ch 1 (295-340ad)
The plan of the work. It is my purpose to write an account of the successions of the holy apostles, as well as of the times which have elapsed from the days of our Saviour to our own; and to relate the many important events which are said to have occurred in the history of the Church; and to mention those who have governed and presided over the Church in the most prominent parishes, and those who in each generation have proclaimed the divine word either orally or in writing.
Athanasius Letter 49 par 4 (296-373 ad)
For if all were of the same mind as your present advisers, how would you have become a Christian, since there would be no bishops? Or if our successors are to inherit this state of mind, how will the Churches be able to hold together?
Gregory of Nyssa Against Eunomius book 4 ch 5 (325-386 ad)
for it is enough for proof of our statement, that the tradition has come down to us from our fathers, handled on, like some inheritance, by succession from the apostles and the saints who came after them.
Gregory Nazianzen Oration 2 par 52 (325-389 ad)
the Twelve Apostles, and their successors, who with many toils and labors exercised their authority, each in his own time;
Gregory Nazianzen Oration 33 par 3 (325-389 ad)
What liturgical vessels which the multitude may not touch have I given over to the hands of the wicked, of a Nebuzaradan,(a) chief of the cooks, or of a Belshazzar, who wickedly used the sacred vessels for his revels,(b) and then paid a worthy penalty for his madness? "Altars beloved" as Holy Scripture saith, but ''now defiled."(g) And what licentious youth has insulted you for our sake with shameful writhings and contortions? O precious Throne, seat and rest of precious men, which hast been occupied by a succession of pious Priests, who from ancient times have taught the divine Mysteries, what heathen popular speaker and evil tongue hath mounted thee to inveigh against the Christian's faith?
Cyril of Jerusalem Catechetical Lecture 14 par 15 (347 ad)
Matthew who wrote the Gospel wrote it in the Hebrew tongue; and Paul the preacher was a Hebrew of the Hebrews; and the twelve Apostles were all of Hebrew race: then fifteen Bishops of Jerusalem were appointed in succession from among the Hebrews. What then is your reason for allowing your own accounts, and rejecting ours, though these also are written by Hebrews from among yourselves.
Ambrose of Milan On Repentance book 1 ch 7.33 (340-397 ad)
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. and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven." And the vessel of divine election himself said: "If ye have forgiven anything to any one, I forgive also, for what I have forgiven I have done it for your sakes in the person of Christ." Why, then, do they read Paul's writings, if they think that he has erred so wickedly as to claim for himself the right of his Lord? But he claimed what he had received, he did not usurp that which was not due to him.
Tyrannius Rufinus Apology book 2 par 33 (340-410 ad)
Peter was for twenty-four years Bishop of the Church of Rome.
Jerome Letter 14 par 8 (347-420 ad)
Far be it from me to censure the successors of the apostles, who with holy words consecrate the body of Christ, and who make us Christians. Having the keys of the kingdom of heaven,
Jerome Letter 14 par 8 [347-420 AD]
"Far be it from me to speak adversely of any of these clergy who, in succession from the apostles, confect by their sacred word the Body of Christ and through whose efforts also it is that we are Christians"
Jerome Letter 146 par 1 (347-420 ad)
Neither the command of wealth nor the lowliness of poverty makes him more a bishop or less a bishop. All alike are successors of the apostles
John Cassian Institutes Book 2 ch 3 (360-435 ad)
And so throughout the whole of Egypt and the Thebaid, where monasteries are not rounded at the fancy of every man who renounces the world, but through a succession of fathers and their traditions last even to the present day, or are rounded so to last, in these we have noticed that a prescribed system of prayers is observed in their evening assemblies and nocturnal vigils.
Augustine of Hippo Against the Epistle of Manichaeus called Fundamental ch 4.5 [354-430 AD]
"[T]here are many other things which most properly can keep me in [the Catholic Church's] bosom. The unanimity of peoples and nations keeps me here. Her authority, inaugurated in miracles, nourished by hope, augmented by love, and confirmed by her age, keeps me here. The succession of priests, from the very see of the apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after his resurrection, gave the charge of feeding his sheep [John 21:15–17], up to the present episcopate, keeps me here. And last, the very name Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all heretics want to be called 'Catholic,' when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house"
Augustine On Christian Doctrine Preface par 6 (354-430 ad)
and not only received the sacraments from the apostle's hands, but was also instructed by him as to the proper objects of faith, hope, and love.
Augustine of Hippo Letter 53 par 2 [354-430 AD]
For if the lineal succession of bishops is to be taken into account, with how much more certainty and benefit to the Church do we reckon back till we reach Peter himself, to whom, as bearing in a figure the whole Church, the Lord said: "Upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!" The successor of Peter was Linus, and his successors in unbroken continuity were these: -- Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Iginus, Anicetus, Pius, Soter, Eleutherius, Victor, Zephirinus, Calixtus, Urbanus, Pontianus, Antherus, Fabianus, Cornelius, Lucius, Stephanus, Xystus, Dionysius, Felix, Eutychianus, Gaius, Marcellinus, Marcellus, Eusebius, Miltiades, Sylvester, Marcus, Julius, Liberius, Damasus, and Siricius, whose successor is the present Bishop Anastasius. In this order of succession no Donatist bishop is found.
Augustine Reply to Faustus the Manichean Book 33 par 9 (354-430 ad)
I close with a word of counsel to you who are implicated in those shocking and damnable errors, that, if you acknowledge the supreme authority of Scripture, you should recognise that authority which from the time of Christ Himself, through the ministry of His apostles, and through a regular succession of bishops in the seats of the apostles, has been preserved to our own day throughout the whole world, with a reputation known to all.
Augustine Reply to Faustus the Manichean Book 11 par 5 (354-430 ad)
there is a distinct boundary line separating all productions subsequent to apostolic times from the authoritative canonical books of the Old and New Testaments. The authority of these books has come down to us from the apostles through the successions of bishops and the extension of the Church, and, from a position of lofty supremacy, claims the submission of every faithful and pious mind.
Augustine Reply to Faustus the Manichean Book 28 par 2 (354-430 ad)
I ask you to believe the book which I quote to have been written by Matthew, since it has been handed down from the days of Matthew in the Church, without any break in the connection between that time and the present. The question then is, whether we are to believe the statements of an apostle who was in the company of Christ while He was on earth, or of a man away in Persia, born long after Christ. But perhaps you will quote some other book bearing the name of an apostle known to have been chosen by Christ; and you will find there that Christ was not born of Mary. Since, then, one of the books must be false, the question in this case is, whether we are to yield our belief to a book acknowledged and approved as handed down from the beginning in the Church founded by Christ Himself, and maintained through the apostles and their successors in an unbroken connection all over the world to the present day; or to a book which this Church condemns as unknown
John of Damascus Apologia Against those who Decry Holy Images (676-749 ad)
Christ did not give to kings the power to bind and to loose, but to the apostles, (Mt. 18.18) and to their successors and pastors and teachers.