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however, down to the time of Theophilus the Alexandrian, and Epiphanius, near the close of the fourth century, the adherents and friends of Origen formed a very large proportion of Christians. Another tempest then arose, more violent than the former. The monks of Egypt and Palestine were at this time decided Origenists. Theophilus having embroiled himself in a dispute with some of the former, who inhabited the monasteries of Nitria, assembled a Provincial Synod at Alexandria, about the year 400, in which to gratify, as it would seem, a passion of revenge, or hatred, he caused the writings of their favorite, Origen, to be condemned a century and a half after his death. This is the first time sentence of condemnation was pronounced against the errors of Origen by a Synod. Theophilus, who had a talent for intrigue, immediately wrote to the bishops generally, and to Epiphanius, bishop of Cyprus, in particular, urging him to the same step. The latter, duped by the arts of the wily Egyptian, called a council of the Cyprian bishops, who proceeded to pass sentence of condemnation, both on Origen and his writings. This controversy, which was long and fierce, involved John, bishop of Jerusalem, and John Chrysostom, of Constantinople, both favorers of Origen, also Rufinus and Jerome, who were soon engaged in terrific battle. In fact, the whole East and West were now shaken with tremendous commotions.* Theophilus boasts, that he had truncated the serpents of Origen with the evangelic sword.' Epiphanius adds, ‘Amalek is destroyed,' and boasts that he will sweep the heresy of Origen from the face of the earth. Jerome swells the note of triumph. “Where now,' he asks, 'is the crooked serpent, where the venomous vipers ? '
We may give, as a specimen of the hate engendered by this controversy, the parting words which passed between John Chrysostom of Constantinople, and Epiphanius, when the latter, after a violent altercation, was about to leave Constantinople for Cyprus. May you not die a bishop,' says Epiphanius to John. "May you never live to reach home, retorts the golden-mouthed John. The wishes of both were granted. Chrysostom was soon after deposed, and died in exile, A. D. 407, and Epiphanius, having embarked for Cyprus, died on the passage, A. D. 403. Theophilus, who had rendered himself odious by the indulgence of his violent and revengeful passions, died A. D. 412. On his death-bed, as tradition says, he expressed great remorse, and the ghost of the injured Chrysostom, whose downfall had been procured chietly by his machinations, standing at his pillow, shook his soul with terror.
* See Jerome, Epist. 38, al 61. ad Pammach. Also Epist. 39, al 62. ad Theoph., with other Letters of Jerome to Theophilus, and of Theophilus and Epiphanius to Jerome. Jerome, Opp. T. iv. Ed. Par. 1706. Socrates. L. vi. c. 10. Huet. Orig. L. II, c. 4.
Though Origenism had now received some heavy blows, it yet gave symptoms of life. The publication of a translation of Origen's books · Of Principles,' at Rome, by Rufinus, had been the occasion of awakening the spirit of Pelagius, whose doctrines were, in fact, only a certain modification of Origenism. Anastasius, however, the first Pope of the name, had condemned Rufinus for heresy, and passed sentence against Origen and his writings; and the friends of his name and doctrines had certainly some reason to indulge desponding anticipations.
This explosion past, a long period of comparative quiet followed. Meantime, Origenism found shelter in the monasteries of Palestine, where, a little more than a century after, it continued to prevail to an alarming extent. Complaints were made to the Emperor Justinian, who caused sentence of anathema to be pronounced against Origen by several bishops, among whom were Menas, Patriarch of Constantinople, Ephrem of Antioch, Peter, bishop of Jerusalem, and Vigilius of Rome, about the year 538. This sentence was confirmed by the fifth General Council, holden at Constantinople, A. D. 553 ;* and again by the sixth, holden also at Constantinople, A. D. 680. The acts of this Council were confirmed by Pope Leo II. A. D. 683, and thus Origen was formally placed in the rank of heretics. His works are still, however, permitted to be perused by Catholics, with a Caute lege, in the margin, against the offensive passages, to put the reader on his guard.
The grand principle of human liberty, for which he was so strenuous an advocate, has never been banished from the minds of Christians. The opposers of Augustine, in former days, and of Calvin, in modern times, have necessarily occupied the ground of Origen, and the Fathers of his age. Augustine himself took this ground, in his attempt to refute the tenets of the Manichæans, though, in opposing the doctrines of Pelagius, he was compelled to change it. In fact, the views of human ability, or rather inability, as taught in the schools of the African bishop, of Calvin, and the Orthodox generally of modern times, amount, in substance, to Manichæism, and differ froin it only as to the source of the inability; the Manichæans attributing it to a prior necessity, growing out of the nature of matter, and the Calvinists to a necessity superinduced by the fall of Adam. To all practical purposes, the two systems are the same.
* See Evagrius, Eccles. Hist. L. iv. c. 38, and Valesius' note. Huet. Orig. L. 11. c. 4, § 3.
Art. III. — Causes and Evils of Contentions unveiled in
Letters to Christians. By Noah WORCESTER. Boston.
THERE is no man living, from whom Christians, of all denominations, should receive rebuke with so much meekness, as from the venerable author of these Letters, the Apostle of Peace. He is, himself, an illustration of the possibility of uniting freedom of inquiry, and great distinctness and earnestness in the exposure of what he conceives to be prevalent errors, with a candor and simplicity so beautiful and touching, that those who read his writings, if they are not convinced, can hardly fail of being softened and conciliated. It is not his object, in the little volume before us, to condemn or discourage controversy, but merely to unveil the causes
Augustine, it should be remembered, was a Manichæan before his conversion to the orthodox faith. How far he retained the spirit of Manichæism, after his formal rejection of its leading dogma relating to the origin of evil, — in other words, to what extent his sentiments, after his conversion, continued to be modified by his earlier belief, and what portion of Manichæism became, therefore, infused into the popular theology, forms a curious question in the history of human opinions. Is Calvinism, after all
, only a ramification of the old Oriental heresy, so detested by the Fathers ?
- p. 120.
and evils of that exclusive and contentious spirit, with which controversy is sometimes conducted. He does not write as a sectarian, nor evince a wish, in any part of his work, to cast the blame of our contentions on Christians of one denomination, rather than on those of another. His last words are these;
'Let it then be observed, that I have written the letters in the belief that there are errors both of opinion and practice, in all the denominations of Christians with which I am acquainted; and in the hope that there are good people in each sect, who will deplore the existing evils, and exert their influence to effect a reformation.'
He says, also, in another place;
"To some persons, it may be gratifying to know, that the views I have expressed, in this series of letters, on the evil and danger of ascribing error of opinion to wickedness of heart, are not the effect of recent changes in my own mind. When I was a Trinitarian, and nearly forty years ago, I published similar views of that principle in what I then wrote to the late Dr. Baldwin, on the subject of "Close Communion.” Very soon after I entered on the work of the ministry, I became dissatisfied with the practice of referring all error of opinion, on religious subjects, to a criminal source; and also with the practice of reproaching whole sects of Christians as destitute of piety, on the ground of their alleged erroneous opinions. The more I have reflected on the subject since that period, the more I have been convinced of the injustice and the danger of such practices. The more, too, I have been convinced that such practices imply a deplorable want of humility in those who adopt them, and an astonishing degree of blindness in regard to their own liability to err.'
Dr. Worcester holds that a primary ground of alienation, among Christians, is to be found in the assumption, that error of opinion, on religious subjects, proceeds from wickedness of heart.' We suspect, however, that even where this is the ostensible ground of alienation, we are still, in most cases, to look deeper for the real grounds. These, nine times out of ten, are some, or all, of the following; pride of opinion, desire of influence, love of notoriety, party policy or zeal, private interest or pique. Unhappily, not a few of the leaders of the exclusive sects know, that they owe most of their consequence and influence to existing differences and contentions, and would sink personally into comparative in
- p. 116.
significance, in the event of a better understanding among Christians. So long as this is the case, we may expect that persons of considerable ability, as disorganizers, will every where be found, whose object it will be, under various pretexts, to foment and perpetuate divisions in the Church, rather than to heal them. Here we detect a real, deep-seated, and, as it seems to us, in a community like ours, almost the only obstacle to the prevalence of more liberal and comprehensive principles. It did not fall within Dr. Worcester's plan, and would not, perhaps, have suited his temper, to deal severely with this vice; but he has deprived it of all show of justification or apology, by exposing the fallacy of the assumption on which it proceeds.
In the Fourth Letter, the following important question is met, and answered.
'It being granted that our Lord imputed the error of the unbelieving Jews respecting himself, to a disobedient heart, why may not ministers of the Gospel of the present age, impute all supposed errors on important doctrines to the same source ? '
- pp. 22, 23.
Because, as Dr. Worcester justly argues, it would be to suppose them clothed with the same infallibility, of but one opinion, and liable to no disturbing prejudices.
'Besides,' says he, 'in civil cases, an interested person is deemed unqualified to act as a judge or a juror. So also is the man who is known to be prejudiced against a person or party whose cause is to be decided.
How imminent, then, must be the danger, when, after long controversy and excitement, a minister of one sect ventures to assume the office of a judge in respect to the hearts of those who dissent from his creed! Under such circumstances, what reflecting man would dare, unauthorized, to assume such responsibility ? How little confidence is to be placed in the censorious opinions mutually expressed of each other by political partizans, in a time of great excitement? Quite as little, I suspect, is to be placed in the opinions of religious partizans under similar circumstances.'
At the same time, he finds no difficulty in accounting for the different opinions which have prevailed in the Church, without referring them, universally or generally, to a corrupt source. The following extract alone would settle the question.
'When children are brought up under the influence of pious parents, who happen to entertain erroneous doctrines, they are