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dispersed, in cities, in castles, and in villages, taken particularly from the new monastic orders.” In fact, these new orders, whose activity was whetted by a desire to distinguish themselves, and who took up the ground of education, as left unoccupied by their predecessors, contributed not a little to diffuse the ardour for study, and to obtain the foundation of schools and colleges, for the advancement of their favourile science. Most of the universities and colleges, for the higher branches of education, throughout Europe, owetheir origin to those times, and to the passion for those studies. To the scholastic logic, after the fall of Constantinople, was added the study of the ancient Latin and Greek; and at that point, in most of the institutions of education in Europe, especially where unhappily they became united with a rich ecclesiastical establishment, the business of improvement stopt.
THE RELIGIOUS AND LITERARY MERITS OF THE FATHERS
OF THE CHURCH.*
We had thought that the merits of the Fathers were beginning to be pretty fairly estimated ;-that, whatever reverence might still be due to those eminent men, for the sanctity of their lives, their laborious lucubrations, their zeal and intrepidity in the cause of the Church, and all those solemn and imposing lights, in which their nearness to the rising sun of Christianity places them ;-yet, that the time of their authority over conscience and opinion was gone by; that they were no longer to be regarded as guides either in faith or in morals; and that we should be quite within the pale of orthodoxy insaying that, though admirable martyrs and saints, they were, after all, but indifferent Christians. In point of style, too, we had supposed that criticism was no longer dazzled by their sanctity; that few would now agree with the learned jesuit, Garasse, that a chapter of St. Augustin on the Trinity is worth all the Odes of Pindar ;-that, in short, they had taken their due rank among those affected and rhetorical writers, who flourished in the decline of ancient literature, and were now, like many worthy authors we could mention, very much respected and never read.
We had supposed all this; but we find we were mistaken. An eminent dignitary of the Church of England has lately shown that, in his opinion at least, these veterans are by no means invalided in the warfare of theology; for he has brought more than seventy volumes of them into the field against the Calvinists :-And here is Mr. Boyd, a gentleman of much Greek, who assures us that the Homilies of St. Chrysostom, the Orations of St. Gregory Nazianzen, and-proh pudor!-the Amours of Daphnis and Chloe, are models of eloquence, atticism, and fine writing.
Mr. Boyd has certainly chosen the safer, as well as pleasanter path, through the neglected field of learning; for, tasteless as the metaphors of the Fathers are in general, they are much more innoceat and digestible than their arguments ;-as the learned bishop we have just alluded to may perhaps by this time acknowledge; having found, we suspect, that his sevenly folios are, like elephants in battle, not only ponderous, but dangerous auxiliaries, which, when once let loose, may be at least as formidable to friends as to
Boyd's Translations from the Fathers.-Vol. xxiv. page 58. November, 1814.,
foes. This, indeed, has always been a characteristic of the writings of the Fathers. This ambidexterous faculty-this sort of Swiss versatility in fighting equally well upon both sides of the question, has distinguished them through the whole history of Theological controversy :-The same authors, the same passages have been quoted with equal confidence, by Arians and Athanasians, Jesuits and Jansenists, Transubstantiators and Typifiers. Nor is it only the dull and bigoted who have had recourse to these self-refuted authorities for their purpose; we often find the same anxiety for their support, the same disposition to account them, as Chillingworth says, “ Fathers when for, and children when against,'' in quarters where a greater degree of good sense and fairness might be expected. Even Middlelon himself, who makes so light of the opinions of the Fathers, in his learned and manly Inquiry into Miracles, yet courts their sanction with much assiduity for his favourite system of allegorizing the Mosaic history of the creation ;-a point on which, of all others, their alliance is most dangerous, as there is no subject upon which their Pagan imaginations have rioted more ungovernably.
The errors of these primitive Doctors of the Church,-their Christian Heathenism and Heathen Christianity, which led them to look for the Trinity among those shadowy forms that peopled the lwilight groves of the Academy, and to array the meek, self-humbling Christian in the proud and iron armour of the Portico—their bigoted rejection of the most obvious truths in natural science,—the bewildering vibration of their moral doctrines, never resting between the extremes of laxily and rigour,—their credulity, their inconsistencies of conduct and opinion, and, worst of all, their forgeries and falsehoods, have already been so often and so ably exposed by divines of all countries, religions and sects—the Dupins, Mosheims, Middletons, Clarkes, Jortios, etc., that it seems superfluous to add another line upon the subject; though we are not quite sure that, in the present state of Europe, a discussion of the merits of the Fathers is not as seasonable and even fashionable a topic as we could select-At a time when the Inquisition is re-established by our “beloved Ferdinand ;" when the Pope again brandishes the keys of St. Peter with an air worthy of a successor of the Hildebrands and Perettis ; when canonization is about to be inflicted on another Louis, and little silver models of embryo princes are gravely vowed at the shrine of the virgin ;-in times like these, it is not too much to expect that such enlightened authors as St. Jerome and Tertullian may soon become the classics of most of the Continental courts. We shall therefore make no further apology for prefacing our remarks upon Mr. Boyd's translations with a few brief and desultory notices of some of the most distinguished Fathers and their works.
St. Justin, the Martyr, is usually considered as the well-spring of most of those strange errors which flowed so abundantly through the early ages of the Church, and spread around them in their course such luxuriance of absurdity. The most amiable, and therefore the least contagious of his heterodoxies,* was that which led him to patronize the souls of Socrates and other Pagans, in consideration of those glimmerings of the divine Logos which his fancy discovered through the dark night of Heathenism. The absurd part of his opinion remained, while its tolerant spirit evaporated :
Still more benevolent was Origen's never-to-be-forgiven dissent from the doctrine of eternal damnation. To this amiable weakness, more than any thing else, this Father seems to have owed the forfeiture of his rank in the Calendar;-and in return for his anxiety to rescue the human race from hell, he has been sent thither himself by more than one Catholic !heologian.
and while these Pagans were still allowed to have known something of the Trinity, they were yet damned for not knowing more, with most unrelenting orthodoxy.
The belief of an intercourse between angels and women-founded upon a false version of a text in Genesis—and of an abundant progeny of demons in consequence, is one of those monstrous notions of St. Justin and other Fathers, which show how little they had yet purged off the grossness of Heathen mythology, and in how many respects their Heaven was but Olympus with other names* :-Yet we can hardly be angry with them for this one error, when we recollect, that possibly to their enamoured Angels we owe the beautiful world of Sylphs and Gnomes;and that perhaps at this moment we might have wanted Pope's most exquisite Poem, if the Septuagint Version had translated the book of Genesis correctly.
This doctrine, as far as it concerned angelic natures, was at length indignantly disavowed by St. Chrysostom. But Demons were much too useful a race to be easily surrendered to reasoning or ridicule;—there was no getting up a decent miracle without them; exorcists would have been out of employ, and saints at a loss for temptation :- Accordingly, the writings of these holy Doctors abound with such stories of demoniacal possession, as make us alternately smile at their weakness and blush for their dishonesty. I Nor are they chargeable only with the impostures of their own times; ihe sanction they gave to this petty diabolism has made them responsible for whole centuries of juggling. Indeed, whoever is anxious to contemplate a picture of human folly and human knavery, at the same time ludicrous and melancholy, may find it in a history of the exploits of Demons from the days of the Fathers down to modern times;- from about the date of that theatrical little devil of Tertullian (so triumphantly referred to by Jeremy Collier), who claimed a right to take possession of a woman in the theatre, “because he there found her on his own ground,” to the gallant demons commemoraled by Bodin S and Remigiusll, and such tragical farces as the possession of the nuns of Loudun. The same features of craft and dupery are discoverable through the whole from beginning to end; and when we have read of that miraculous person, Gregory Thaumaturgus, writing a familiar epistle to Satan, and then turn to the story of the Young Nun, in Bodin, in whose box was found a love-letler“ à son cher dæmon **,” we need not ask more perfect specimens of the two wretched extremes of imposture and credulity, than these two very different letter-writers afford.
The only class of demons whose loss we regret, and whose visitations we would gladly have restored us, are those “ seducing spirits, who,” as Thco
See, for their reveries on this subject, Clem. Alex. Stromat. lib. v. p. 550. Ed. Lutet. 1629 -Tertullian. de Habita Mulieb, cap. 2. and the extraordinary passage of this Father (de Virgin. veland.), where his editor Pamelius endeavours to save his morality at the expense of his Latinity, by the substitution of the word “excussat” for “excusat.” See also St. Basil de verâ Virginitate, lom. i. p. 747. edit. Paris ; though it is but fair to say, that Basil's biographer Hermant, and others, think this treatise spurious; and it certainly contains many things not of the most sanctified description. # Le Comte de Gabalis.
Middleton's Free inquiry. It would be difficult to add any thing new to this writer upon the subject; and he is too well knowu to render extracts necessary.
De la Démonomanie des Sorciers.
Demonolatreia, lib. i. cap. 6. The depositions of the two sorceresses, Alexia Dirigæa and Claudia Fellæa, are particularly curious.
** He quotes the story from Wier, a great patron of the demons of that time, who, we are told, invented a " Monarchie Diabolique avec les noms et les surnoms de cinq cent soixante-douze Princes de Démous, et de sept millions quatre cent cinq mille neuf cent vingt-six diables, sauf. erreur de calcul.”--Teissier, Eloges des Hommes Savans,
philus of Antiochus tells us, “confessed themselves to be the same that had inspired the Heathen Poets." The learned Father has not favoured us with any particulars of these interesting spirits : has said nothing of the ample wings of fire, which, we doubt not, the demons of Homer and Pindar spread out, nor described the laughing eyes of Horace's familiar, nor even the pointed tail of the short devil of Martial ;-but we own we should like to see such cases of possession in our days; and though we Reviewers are a kind of exorcists, employed to cast out the evil demon of scribbling, and even pride ourselves upon having performed some notable cures,-from such demoniacs we would refrain with reverence; nay, so anxiously dread the escape of the Spirit, that, for fear of accidents, we would not suffer a Saint to come near them.
The belief of a Millennium or temporal reign of Christ, during which the faithful were to be indulged in all sorts of sensual gratifications, may be reckoned among those gross errors, for which neither the Porch nor the Academy are accountable, but which grew up in the rank soil of oriental fanaticism, and which were nursed into doctrines of Christianity by the Fathers. Though the world's best religion comes from the East, its very worst superstitions have sprung thence also ;-as in the same quarter of the heavens arises the sun-beam that gives life to the flower, and the withering gale that blasts it. There is scarcely one of these fantastic opinions of the Fathers that may not be traced among the fables of the ancient Persians and Arabians. The voluptuous Jerusalem of St. Justin and Irenæus may be found in those glorious gardens of Iram, which were afterwards converted into the Paradise of the Faithful by Mahomet; and their enamoured “Sons of God” may be paralleled in the angels Harut and Marut of Eastern story, who, bewildered by the influence of wine and beauty, forfeited their high celestial rank, and were degraded into teachers of magic upon earth.
The mischievous absurdity of some of the moral doctrines of the Fathers, -the state of apathy to which they would reduce their Gnostic or perfect Christian,-their condemnation of marriage and their Monkish fancies about celibacy,- the extreme to which they carried their notions of patience, even to the prohibition of all resistance to aggression, though the aggressor aimed at life itself;—the strange doctrine of St. Augustin, that the Saints are the only lawful proprietors of the things of this world, and that the wicked have no right whatever to their possessions, however human laws may decree to the contrary ;-the indecencies in which too many of them have indulged in their writings ; † the profane frivolily of Tertullian, in making God himself prescribe the length and measure of women's veils, in a special revelation to some ecstatic spinster; and the moral indignation with which Clemens Alexandrinus inveighs against while bread, periwigs, coloured stuffs and lap-dogs ;-all these, and many more such puerile and pernicious absurdities, open a wide field of weedy fancies, for ridicule to skim, and good sense to trample upon :-But we must content ourselves with referring to the works that have been written upon the subject ;---particularly to the treatise “ de la Morale des Pères" of Barbeyrac ;-which, though as dull and tiresome as could reasonably be expected from the joint efforts of the Fathers of the Church and a Law Professor of Groningen,
Notes on the Babar-Danush.-Mariti gives the story differently. + We need but refer to the second and third Books of the Pædagogus of Clemens Alexandrinus ; -to some passages in Tertullian " de Animâ ;” and to the instances which La Mothe le Vayer has adduced from Chrysostom in his Hexameron Rustique.--Journ. Second.
abundantly proves that the moral tenets of these holy men are for the most part unnatural, fanatical and dangerous ;-founded upon false interpretations of Holy Writ, and the most gross and anile ignorance of human nature ; and that a community of Christians, formed upon their plan, is the very Utopia of Monkery, idleness and fanaticism.
Luckily, the impracticability of these wretched doctrines was in general a sufficient antidote to their mischief : but there were two maxims, adopted and enforced by many of the Fathers, which deserve to be branded with particular reprobation, not only because they acted upon them continually themselves, to the disgrace of the Holy cause in which they were engaged, but because they have transmitted their contamination to posterity, and left the features of Christianity to this day disfigured by their taint. The first of these maxims—we give it in the words of Mosheim-was, “that it is an act of virtue to deceive and lie, when by such means the interests of the Church may be promoted.”
"'* To this profligate principle the world owes, not only the fables and forgeries of these primitive times, but many of those evasions, those compromises between conscience and expediency, which are still thought necessary and justifiable for the support of religious establishments. So industrious were the churchmen of the early ages in the inculcation of this monstrous doctrine, that we find the Bishop Heliodorus insinuating it as a general principle of conduct, through the seductive medium of his Romance Theagenes and Charicleat. The second maxim, “equally horrible,” says Mosheim, “though in a different point of view, was, that errors in religion, when maintained and adhered to after proper admonition, are punishable with civil penalties and corporeal tortures.” St. Augustin has the credit of originating this detestable doctrine ;-to him it seems, we are indebted for first conjuring up that penal Spirit, which has now, for so many hundred years, walked the earth, and whose votaries, from the highest to the meanest, from St. Augustin down to Dr. Duigenan, from the persecutors of the African Donatists to the calumniators and oppressors of the Irish Catholics,-are all equally disgraceful to that mild religion, in whose name they have dared to torment and subjugate mankind.
With respect to the literary merits of the Fathers, it will hardly be depied, that to the sanctity of their subjects they owe much of that imposing effect which they have produced upon the minds of their admirers. We have no doubt that the incoherent rhapsodies of the Pythia (whom, Strabo tells us, the ministers of the temple now and then helped to a verse) found many an orthodox crilie among their hearers, who preferred them to the sublimest strains of Homer and Pindar. Indeed, the very last of the Fathers, St. Gregory the Great, has at once settled the point for all critics of theological writings, by declaring that the words of Divine Wisdom are not amenable to the laws of the vulgar grammar of this world; 1-non debent verba cælestis originis subesse regulis Donati."
It must surely be according to some such code of criticism that Lactanlius has been ranked above Cicero, and that Erasmus himself has ventured to prefer St. Basil to Demosthenes. Even the harsh, muddy, and unintelligible Tertullian, whom Salmasius gave up in despair, has found a warm
• Ecclesiast. Hist. cent. 4. part ii. chap. üi.
+ Καλόν γάρ ποτέ και το ψεύδος, όταν ώρελαν της λέγοντας, μηδέν καταβλάπτη τη ακκοντας. Elliopic. lib. 1.
In the dedication of his Book of Morals.