Page images

deed,s the heralds of truth, the prophets and apostles, were not masters of the Greek eloquence; but, being filled with true wisdom, they bave carried the divine doctrine to all nations, Greeks and barbarians; and have filled the whole world, the dry land and the sea, with writings, containing instructions relating to religion and virtue : and now all men, leaving the dreams and speculations of the philosophers, nourish themselves with the doctrine of fishermen and publicans, and study the writings of a tentinaker. The seven wise men of Greece are forgotten; nor! do the Greeks themselves exactly know their names : but Matthew, and Bartholomew, and James, yea, and Moses also, and David, and Isaiah, and the other apostles and prophets, all men know, as well as they do, the names of their own children. If you dispute the truth of this, tell me, friends, whom Xenophanes Colophonius left to be his successor ; whom Parmenides, or Pythagoras, or Anaxagoras, or Speusippus, or the rest ; or what cities follow the laws of Plato's republic ? You' can show none, who now teach those doctrines : but we can evidently show the power of the prophetical and apostolical doctrines; for the whole earth is filled with their words.

• And the Hebrew writings are translated, not only into Greek, but likewise into the Latin, the Egyptian, the Persian, the Indian, the Armenian, the Scythian, the Samaritan; in a word, into all the languages used by the nations. Our fishermen, and publicans, and tentmaker, have persuaded not only Greeks, and Romans, and Egyptians, but all nations of the earth : nor are our doctrines understood by those only who preside in the churches, but by smiths, and woolcombers, and tailors, and all sorts of artificers; yea, by women, and maid-servants. And not only they who dwell in cities, but country people likewise understand, and are able to discourse of, our doctrines. And moreover, they practise virtue, and shun vicious actions, influenced by the certain expectation of the righteous judgment of God, and the rewards and punishments of another world. Compare " then, my friends, the simple doctrine of our fishermen. with the pompous titles of the philosophers; and discern the difference. Admire the conciseness of the divine oracles ; applaud their power; and acknowledge the truth of the divine doctrines.

• God had before tried other methods : he taught all • Ibid. p. 554. B. C.

Ibid. P. 555. A. u Ibid. p. 555. D.

Ibid. p. 556. A. B. C. * Ibid. p. 558. A.

* Ibid. Serm. vi. p. 579. D. 580. A.

inen by the wonderful frame of the universe, The Jews he reclaimed by the law and prophets : but a more effectual remedy was wanting; and experience has shown the benefit of it. The whole world has now been enlightened, and idolatry abolished. Greeks, Romans, barbarians, acknowledge a crucitied Saviour. • They divine oracles for sacred scriptures) are not to be despised, because they abound not in a superfluity of words, but deliver truth in its native beauty and simplicity. It had been easy for the Fountain of wisdom, who has bestowed eloquence even upon bad men, to have made the heralds of truth more eloquent than Plato, acuter than Demosthenes, and more ready at syllogisms than Aristotle and Chrysippus. But his design was not, that five, or ten, or fifteen, or a hundred, or twice so many more should taste the salutary waters; but that all men, Greeks and barbarians, should have the benefit: and not only such as bad been taught in schools of rhetoric and philosophy, but shoeinakers, and tailors, and smiths, and all sorts of mechanics, and servants, and husbandmen, and, in a word, rich and poor, and men and women of all conditions. For this reason he made use of fishermen, and publicans, and a tentmaker, as instruments; and by them he conveyed to men divine and useful knowledge; not altering the manner of speech to which they had been used, and in wbich they had been bred, but, nevertheless, pouring out, by their means, the pure and refresbing streams of wisdom. Just as if an entertainer should bring forth to his guests rich and fragrant wine in plain cups and glasses : they who thirst would drink the liquor, and, without regarding the cups, admire the wine. Su have men acted in this case.

• How? great the power of those illiterate men has been, may appear to those who will compare the Greek and Roman lawgivers with our fishermen and publicans. They will find, that those lawgivers could not persuade even their neighbours to live according to their laws; but these GaliJeans bave persuaded not only Greeks and Romans, but the tribes of the barbarians likewise, to embrace the law and doctrine of the gospel. Oura fishermen, and publieans, and tentinaker, have persuaded all men to enabrace the laws of the gospel ; not only the Romans, and others subject to their empire, but Scytbians, and Sarmatiavs, and Indians, and Ethiopians, and Persians, and Britons, and Germans. Indeed, they have brought all nations, and all y Ibid. Serm. viii. p. 591, 592,

* Ibid. Serm. ix. p. 608. B. · A lbid. p. 610.


sorts of men, to receive the laws of a crucified man: and that not by arms, or numerous legions of soldiers, nor by Persian violence; but by reasons and arguments, showing the usefulness of those laws: nor was this effected, without many dangers and difficulties. In many places they suffered injuries; they were beaten, and imprisoned, and tortured, and underwent a variety of sufferings, inflicted on them by those who treated their benefactors, their saviours, and physicians, as their enemies, and as deceitful and designing men ; norb have the sufferings brought upon tbeir followers after their death been able to extinguish their doctrine. Romans, as well as barbarians, bave done their utmost to abolish it; but they only made it shine out the brighter: and the evangelical laws are still in force. NeitherCaius, nor Claudius, have been able to abolish the laws of fishermen, and publicans, and a tentmaker : no, nor yet Nero, their successor; though he put to death two of the principal of those lawgivers, Peter and Paul. He killed the lawgivers, but he could not abolish their laws: nor yet Domitian, or any of the succeeding emperors of Rome. But the more the followers of Jesus, and of his apostles, were persecuted, the more they increased, till the whole world has been filled with them. Here Theodoret proceeds to instance in a persecution of the christians by the Persians; which he represents as exceeding cruel. He afterwards observes the great alterations which the christian doctrine bad made in the manners of those Persians that embraced it; and likewise, how it bad civilized other people. • People whom Augustus, and all the power of the Roman empire, could not induce to receive their laws, venerate the writings of Peter, and Paul, and John, and Matthew, and Luke, and Mark, as if they had been sent down from heaven.'

So writes Theodoret, before the middle of the fifth century. But I am in danger of exceeding in my extracts froin so agreeable'a writer: I therefore forbear to add any thing farther; though much more follows to the like purpose.

5. One thing we can perceive from Theodoret : thatî the heathen people were offended at the great respect then shown to the martyrs. Theodoret justifies it: he says, the Greeks had little reason to make exceptions of that kind. Nors did christians bring sacrifices to the martyrs; they only honoured them as excellent men, who had faithfully served God, and had laid down their lives for the truth.

Ibid. p. 610. D.

• Των δε αλιεων τε και τελωνων, και τα ornvoppape toc vojss, ov raïog logvoev, 8 Klavòlog katalvoai, k. 1. Ib. p. 611. D. Vid. et p. 612. A. D.

Ibid. p. 613. B. C. e Ibid. p. 615. A.

Και το γεραιρειν δε τες μαρτυρας καταγελασον εφασκoν, και λιαν ανοητον το πειρασθαι τες ζωντας παρα των TEOVEWTwv wpakav mopilsodai. Græc. Aff. in Prol. T. iv. p. 461.

6. Heh likewise insists on the celebrity of the martyrs, as an argument in favour of the principles which they professed. The memory, he says, of many triumphant conquerors is almost lost. Nobody knows wbere Darius, and Xerxes, and Alexander, were buried; nor can any show the sepulchres of Augustus, and the emperors that have succeeded bim. But the tombs of the victorious martyrs are well known, and often frequented ; and maynificent temples are built to them, with the materials of heathen temples. Andk God has brought his dead inen, the martyrs, into the room of your deities.

So Theodoret : but the scriptures have given no dia rections for paying such respect to martyrs. And it should be considered, that by this time error had been mixed with truth; and superstition with religion : nor did the martyrs of the primitive times desire such honours to be given to them; or to be placed in the room of heathen deities. They had protested against all idolatry: and laid down their lives, rather than give religious worship to any but God, and his Christ.

8 Ibid. Serm. 8. p. 599. C.

Ibid. p. 605. C. D.

h 'Ibid. Serm. 9. p. 604, 605. k Ibid. p. 607. A.



I. His works and time. I]. His country. III. His

history. IV. In what language he wrote. V. Books of the New Testament received by him. VI. General titles and divisions of the scriptures, and marks of respect for them. VII. Select observations; and this writer's principles and uncharitableness taken notice of : And concerning Nestoriús, against whom he wrote.

I. JOHN CASSIAN, a author of Monastic Institutions, in twelve books; Conferences, in number 24; Of the Incarnation of Christ against Nestorius, in seven books, addressedo to Leo, then deacon, afterwards bishop of Rome, at whose desire they were composed, reckoned his last work, and written about the year 430; is placed, by Cave, at the year 424, because he computes him to have then begun to write. S. Basnaged speaks of him at the year 429, the time of the rise of Semipelagianism in Gaul, of which Cassian is said to be the parent.

II. By Cavee he is said to have been of Scythian original, born at Athens. Tillemont says, There are difficulties • about his country; but the most probable opinion is, that • he was of the Lesser Scythia, a province of Tbrace, where • be might be born about 350, or 360. Even so ancient a · writer as Gennadius, & who has placed Cassian in his Catalogue, and given an account of his works, calls him a Scythian : as doesh Trithemius likewise, very expressly. But Pagi,i andke other learned men, bave cleared up this diffi

* Vid. Cav. H. L. T. i. p. 410. Du Pin, Bib. T. iii. p. 2. Tillem. Mem. T. xiv.

De Cænobiorum Institutis : Collationes Patrum in eremo Scheti, seu Sceti, seu Sciti: De Christi Incarnatione adversus Nestorium. Ap. Bib. PP. T. vii.

« Et ad extremum, rogatus a Leone, urbis Romæ episcopo, scripsit adversus Nestorium de Incarnatione Domini libros septem. Gennad. De V. 1. cap. 61. Vid. et Cassian. in Pr. libr. de Incarn. Christi. d A. D. 429. n. 4.

e Joannes Cassianus, genere Scytha, ex Taurica Chersoneso oriundus, Athenis natus est. Ubi sup. I Cassien. art. 1. T. xiv.

6 Cassianus, natione Scytha, Constantinopoli a Joanne magno episcopo Diaconus ordinatus, apud Massiliam Presbyter condit duo monasteria, id est, virorum et mulierum. Gennad. De V. I. cap. 61.

h Johannes Cassianus, natione Scytha, &c, De Scr. Ec. cap. 111.

Ann, 404. n. 22-24. * S. Basnag. Ann. 429. n. 4.

« PreviousContinue »