Early Church Fathers
15 Ps. cii. 12.
16 Jas. iv. 6, and l Pet. v. 5.
17 "This,"says Watts, "was likely to be the book of Amelius the Platonist, who hath indeed this beginning of St. John's Gospel, calling the apostle a barbarian." This Amelius was a disciple of Plotinus, who was the first to develope and formulate the Neo-Platonic doctrines, and of whom it is said that he would not have his likeness taken, nor be reminded of his birthday, because it would recall the existence of the body he so much despised. A popular account of the theories of Plotinus, and their connection with the doctrines of Plato and of Christianity respectively, will be found in Archer Butler's Lectures on Ancient Philosophy, vol. ii. pp. 348-358. For a more systematic view of his writings, see Ueberweg's History of Philosophy, sec. 68. Augustin alludes again in his De Vita Beata (sec. 4) to the influence the Platonic writings had on him at this time; and it is interesting to note how in God's providence they were drawing him to seek a fuller knowledge of Him, just as in his nineteenth year (book iii. sec. 7, above) the Hortensius of Cicero stimulated him to the pursuit of wisdom. Thus in his experience was exemplified the truth embodied in the saying of Clemens Alexandrinus,-"Philosophy led the Greeks to Christ, as the law did the Jews." Archbishop Trench, in his Hulsean Lectures (lecs. 1 and 3, 1846, "Christ the Desire of all Nations"), enters with interesting detail into this question, specially as it relates to the heathen world. "None," he says in lecture 3, "can thoughtfully read the early history of the Church without marking how hard the Jewish Christians found it to make their own the true idea of a Son of God, as indeed is witnessed by the whole Epistle to the Hebrews-how comparatively easy the Gentile converts; how the Hebrew Christians were continually in danger of sinking down into Ebionite heresies, making Christ but a man as other men, refusing to go on unto perfection, or to realize the truth of His higher nature; while, on the other hand, the genial promptness is as remarkable with which the Gentile Church welcomed and embraced the offered truth, `God manifest in the flesh.0' We feel that there must have been effectual preparations in the latter, which wrought its greater readiness for receiving and heartily embracing this truth when it arrived." The passage from Amelius the Platonist, referred to at the beginning of this note, is examined in Burton's Bampton Lectures, note 90. It has been adverted to by Eusebius, Theodoret, and perhaps by Augustin in the De Civ. Dei, x. 29, quoted in note 2, sec. 25, below. See Kayes' Clement, pp. 116-124.
18 See i. sec. 23, note, above, and also his Life, in the last vol. of the Benedictine edition of his works, for a very fair estimate of his knowledge of Greek.
19 The Neo-Platonic ideas as to the "Word" or Ao/goj, which Augustin (1) contrasts during the remainder of this book with the doctrine of the gospel, had its germ in the writings of Plato. The Greek term expresses both reason and the expression of reason in speech; and the Fathers frequently illustrate, by reference to this connection between ideas and uttered words, the fact that the "Word" that was with God had an incarnate existence in the world as the "Word" made flesh. By the Logos of the Alexandrian school something very different was meant from the Christian doctrine as to the incarnation, of which the above can only be taken as a dim illustration. It has been questioned, indeed, whether the philosophers, from Plotinus to the Gnostics of the time of St. John, believed the Logos and the supreme God to have in any sense separate "personalities." Dr. Burton, in his Bampton Lectures, concludes that they did not (lect. vii. p. 215, and note 93; compare Dorner, Person of Christ, i. 27, Clark); and quotes Origen when he points out to Celsus, that "while the heathen use the reason of God as another term for God Himself, the Christians use the term Logos for the Son of God." Another point of difference which appears in Augustin's review of Platonism above, is found in the Platonist's discarding the idea of the Logos becoming man. This the very genius of their philosophy forbade them to hold, since they looked on matter as impure. (2) It has been charged against Christianity by Gibbon and other sceptical writers, that it has borrowed largely from the doctrines of Plato; and it has been said that this doctrine of the Logos was taken from them by Justin Martyr. This charge, says Burton (ibid. p. 194), "has laid open in its supporters more inconsistencies and more misstatements than any other which ever has been advanced." We have alluded in the note to book iii. sec. 8, above, to Justin Martyr's search after truth. He endeavoured to find it successively in the Stoical, the Peripatetic, the Pythagorean, and the Platonic schools; and he appears to have thought as highly of Plato's philosophy as did Augustin. He does not, however, fail to criticise his doctrine when inconsistent with Christianity (see Burton, ibid. notes 18 and 86). Justin Martyr has apparently been chosen for attack as being the earliest of the post-apostolic Fathers. Burton, however, shows that Ignatius, who knew St. John, and was bishop of Antioch thirty years before his death, used precisely the same expression as applied to Christ (ibid. p. 204). This would appear to be a conclusive answer to this objection. (3) It may be well to note here Burton's general conclusions as to the employment of this term Logos in St. John, since it occurs frequently in this part of the Confessions. Every one must have observed St. John's use of the term is peculiar as compared with the other apostles, but it is not always borne in mind that a generation probably elapsed between the date of his gospel and that of the other apostolic writings. In this interval the Gnostic heresy had made great advances; and it would appear that John, finding this term Logos prevalent when he wrote, infused into it a nobler meaning, and pointed out to those being led away by this heresy that there was indeed One who might be called "the Word"-One who was not, indeed, God's mind, or as the word that comes from the mouth and passes away, but One who, while He had been "made flesh" like unto us, was yet co-eternal with God. "You will perceive," says Archer Butler (Ancient Philosophy, vol. ii. p. 10), "how natural, or rather how necessary, is such a process, when you remember that this is exactly what every teacher must do who speaks of God to a heathen; he adopts the term, but he refines and exalts its meaning. Nor, indeed, is the procedure different in any use whatever of language in sacred senses and for sacred purposes. It has been justly remarked, by (I think) Isaac Casaubon, that the principle of all these adaptations is expressed in the sentence of St. Paul, 0On a0gnoou=ntej eu0sebei=te, tou=ton e0gw' katagge/llw u9mi=n." On the charge against Christianity of having borrowed from heathenism, reference may be made to Trench's Hulsean Lectures, lect. i. (1846); and for the sources of Gnosticism, and St. John's treatment of heresies as to the "Word," lects. ii. and v. in Mansel's Gnostic Heresies will be consulted with profit.
20 John i.1-5.
21 Ibid. i. 7, 8.
22 See note, sec. 23, below.
23 John i. 9
24 Ibid. i. 10.
25 Ibid. i. 11.
26 Ibid. i. 12.
27 Ibid. i. 14.
28 Phil. ii. 6-11.
29 John i. 16.
30 Rom. v. 6.
31 Rom. viii. 32.
32 Matt. xi. 25.
33 Ibid. ver. 28.
34 Ibid. ver. 29.
35 Ps. xxv. 9.
36 Ibid. ver. 18.
37 Matt. xi. 29.
38 Rom. i. 21, 22.
39 Ibid. i. 23.
40 In the Benedictine edition we have reference to Augustin's in Ps. xlvi. 6, where he says: "We find the lentile is an Egyptian food, for it abounds in Egypt, whence the Alexandrian lentile is esteemed so as to be brought to our country, as if it grew not here. Esau, by desiring Egyptian food, lost his birthright; and so the Jewish people, of whom it is said they turned back in heart to Egypt, in a manner craved for lentiles, and lost their birthright." See Ex. xvi. 3; Num. xi. 5.
41 2 Gen. xxv. 33, 34.
42 Ps. cvi. 20; Ex. xxxii. 1-6.
43 Rom. ix. 12.
44 Similarly, as to all truth being God's, Justin Martyr says: "Whatever things were rightly said among all men are the property of us Christians" (Apol. ii. 13). In this he parallels what Augustin claims in another place (De Doctr. Christ. ii. 28): "Let every good and true Christian understand that wherever truth may be found, it belongs to his Master." Origen has a similar allusion to that of Augustin above (Ep. ad Gregor. vol. i. 30), but echoes the experience of our erring nature, when he says that the gold of Egypt more frequently becomes transformed into an idol, than into an ornament for the tabernacle of God. Augustin gives us at length his views on this matter in his De Doctr. Christ. ii. 60, 61: "If those who are called philosophers, and especially the Platonists, have said aught that is true and in harmony with our faith, we are not only not to shrink from it, but to claim it for our own use from those who have unlawful possession of it. For, as the Egyptians had not only the idols and heavy burdens which the people of Israel hated and fled from, but also vessels and ornaments of gold and silver, and garments, which the same people when going out of Egypt appropriated to themselves, designing them for a better use,-not doing this on their own authority, but by the command of God, the Egyptians themselves, in their ignorance, providing them with things which they themselves were not making a good use of (Ex iii. 21,22, xii. 35, 36); in the same way all branches of heathen learning have not only false and superstitious fancies and heavy burdens of unnecessary toil, which every one of us, when going out under the leadership of Christ from the fellowship of the heathen ought to abhor and avoid, but they contain also liberal instruction which is better adapted to the use of the truth, and some most excellent precepts of morality; and some truths in regard even to the worship of the One God are found among them. Now these are, so to speak, their gold and silver, which they did not create themselves, but dug out of the mines of God's providence which are everywhere scattered abroad, and are perversely and unlawfully prostituting to the worship of devils. These, therefore, the Christian, when he separates himself in spirit from the miserable fellowship of these men, ought to take away from them, and to devote to their proper use in preaching the gospel. Their garments, also,-that is, human institutions such as are adapted to that intercourse with men which is indispensable in this life,-we must take and turn to a Christian use. And what else have many good and faithful men among our brethren done? Do we not see with what quantity of gold and silver, and garments, Cyprian, that most persuasive teacher and most blessed martyr, was loaded when he came out of Egypt? How much Lactantius brought with him! And Victorinus, and Optatus, and Hilary, not to speak of living men! How much Greeks out of number have borrowed! And, prior to all these, that most faithful servant of God, Moses, had done the same thing; for of him it is written that he was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts vii. 22)....For what was done at the time of the exodus was no doubt a type prefiguring what happens now."
45 Acts xvii. 28.
46 Hosea ii. 8.
47 Rom. i. 25.
48 Not the "corporeal brightness" which as a Manichee he had believed in, and to which reference has been made in iii. secs. 10, 12, iv. sec. 3, and sec. 2, above. The Christian belief he indicates in his De Trin. viii. 2: "God is Light (I John i. 5), not in such way that these eyes see, but in such way as the heart sees when it is said, `He is Truth.0' " See also note 1, sec. 23, above.
49 If we knew not God, he says, we could not love Him (De Trin. viii. 12); but in language very similar to that above, he tells us "we are men, created in the image of our Creator, whose eternity is true, and whose truth is eternal; whose love is eternal and true, and who Himself is the eternal, true, and adorable Trinity, without confusion, without separation", (De Civ. Dei, xi. 28); God, then, as even the Platonists hold, being the principle of all knowledge. "Let Him," he concludes, in his De Civ. Dei (viii. 4), "be sought in whom all things are secured to us, let Him be discovered in whom all truth becomes certain to us, let Him be loved in whom all becomes right to us."
50 Ps. xxxix. 11 Vulg.
51 Ex. iii. 14. Augustin, when in his De Civ. Dei (viii. 11, 12) he makes reference to this text, leans to the belief, from certain parallels between Plato's doctrines and those of the word of God, that he may have derived information concerning the Old Testament Scriptures from an interpreter when in Egypt. He says: "The most striking thing in this connection, and that which most of all inclines me almost to assent to the opinion that Plato was not ignorant of those writings, is the answer which was given to the question elicited from the holy Moses when the words of God were conveyed to him by the angel; for when he asked what was the name of that God who was commanding him to go and deliver the Hebrew people out of Egypt, this answer was given: `I am who am; and thou shalt say to the children of Israel, He who is sent me unto you;0' as though, compared with Him that truly is, because He is unchangeable, those things which have been created mutable are not,-a truth which Plato vehemently held, and most diligently commended. And I know not whether this sentiment is anywhere to be found in the books of those who were before Plato, unless in that book where it is said, `I am who am; and thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Who is sent me unto you.0' But we need not determine from what source he learned these things,-whether it was from the books of the ancients who preceded him or, as is more likely, from the words of the apostle (Rom. i. 20), `Because that which is known of God has been manifested among them, for God hath manifested it to them. For His invisible things from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by those thing which have been made, also His eternal power and Godhead.0' "-De Civ. Dei, viii. 11, 12.
52 Rom. i. 20.
53 Therefore, he argues, is God called the I AM (De Nat. Boni, 19): for omnis mutatio facit non esse quod erat. Similarly, we find him speaking in his De Mor. Manich. (c. i.): "For that exists in the highest sense of the word which continues always the same, which is throughout like itself, which cannot in any part be corrupted or changed, which is not subject to time, which admits of no variation in its present as compared with its former condition. This is existence in its true sense." See also note 3, p. 158.
54 Ps. lxxiii. 28.
55 Wisd. vii. 27.
56 Ps. xvi. 2.
57 Gen i. 31, and Ecclus. xxxix. 21. Evil, with Augustin, is a "privation of good." See iii. sec. 12, note, above.
58 See v. sec. 2, note 1, above, where Augustin illustrates the existence of good and evil by the lights and shades in a painting, etc
59 Ps. cxlviii. 1-12.
60 Ps. cxix. 37.
61 See xi. secs. 15, 16, 26, etc., below.
62 See v. sec. 2, note 1, above.
63 Ecclus x. 9. Commenting on this passage of the Apocrypha (De Mus. vi. 40), he says, that while the soul's happiness and life is in God, "what is to go into outer things, but to cast out its inward parts, that is, to place itself far from God-not by distance of place, but by the affection of the mind?"
64 Wisd. ix. 15.
65 Rom. i. 20.
66 See above, sec. 10.
67 Here, and more explicitly in sec. 25, we have before us what has been called the "trichotomy" of man. This doctrine Augustin does not deny in theory, but appears to consider (De Anima, iv. 32) it prudent to overlook in practice. The biblical view of psychology may well be considered here not only on its own account, but as enabling us clearly to apprehend this passage and that which follows it. It is difficult to understand how any one can doubt that St. Paul, when speaking in I Thess. v. 23, of our "spirit, soul, and body being preserved unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," implies a belief in a kind of trinity in man. And it is very necessary to the understanding of other Scriptures that we should realize what special attributes pertain to the soul and the spirit respectively. It may be said, generally, that the soul (yuxh/) is that passionate and affectionate nature which is common to us and the inferior creatures, while the spirit (pneu=ma) is the higher intellectual nature which is peculiar to man. Hence our Lord in His agony in the garden says (Matt. xxvi. 38), "My Soul is exceeding sorrowful"-the soul being liable to emotions of pleasure and pain. In the same passage (ver 41) he says to the apostles who had slept during His great agony, "The Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak," so that the spirit is the seat of the will. And that the spirit is also the seat of consciousness we gather from St. Paul's words (I Cor ii. 11), "What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." And it is on the spirit of man that the Spirit of God operates; whence we read (Rom viii. 16), "The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." It is important to note that the word "flesh" (sarc) has its special significance, as distinct from body. The word comes to us from the Hebrew through the Hellenistic Greek of the LXX., and in biblical language (see Bishop Pearson's Praefatio Paraenetica to his edition of the LXX.) stands for our human nature with it worldly surroundings and liability to temptation; so that when it is said, "The Word was made flesh," we have what is equivalent to, "The Word put on human nature." It is, therefore, the flesh and the spirit that are ever represented in conflict one with the other when men are in the throes of temptation. So it must be while life lasts; for it is characteristic of our position in the world that we possess soulishbodies (to employ the barbarous but expressive word of Dr. Candlish in his Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 182), and only on the morning of the resurrection will the body be spiritual and suited to the new sphere of its existence: "It is sown a natural [yuxiko'n, "soulish"] body, it is raised a spiritual [pnematiko/n] body" (I Cor. xv. 44); "for," as Augustin says in his Enchiridion (c. xci.), "just as now the body is called animate (or, using the Greek term, as above, instead of the Latin, "soulish"), though it is a body and not a soul, so then the body shall be called spiritual, though it shall be a body, not a spirit....No part of our nature shall be in discord with another; but as we shall be free from enemies without, so we shall not have ourselves for enemies within." For further information on this most interesting subject, see De litzsch, Biblical Psychology, ii. 4 ("The True and False Trichotomy"); Olshausen, Opuscula Theologica, iv. ("De Trichotomia") and cc. 2, 17, and 18 of R. W. Evans' Ministry of the Body, where the subject is discussed with thoughtfulness and spiritual insight. This matter is also treated of in the introductory chapters of Schlegel's Philosophy of Life.
68 Rom. i. 20.
69 1 Tim. ii. 5.
70 Rom. ix 5.
71 John xiv. 6.
72 John i. 14.
73 Christ descended that we may ascend. See iv. sec. 19, notes 1 and 3, above.
74 Gen. iii. 21. Augustin frequently makes these "coats of skin" smbolize the mortality to which our first parents became subject by being deprived of the tree of life (see iv. sec. 15, note 3, above); and in his Enarr. in Ps. (ciii. 1, 8), he says they are thus symbolical inasmuch as the skin is only taken from animals when dead.
75 We have already seen, in note 1, sec. 13, above, how this text (1) runs counter to Platonic beliefs as to the Logos. The following passage from Augustin's De Civ. Dei, x. 29, is worth putting on record in this connection:-"Are ye ashamed to be corrected? This is the vice of the proud. It is forsooth, a degradation for learned men to pass from the school of Plato to the discipleship of Christ, who by His Spirit taught a fisherman to think and to say, `In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not0' (John i. 1-5). The old saint Simplicianus, afterwards Bishop of Milan, used to tell me that a certain Platonist was in the habit of saying that this opening passage of the holy Gospel entitled, `According to John,0' should be written in letters of gold, and hung up in all churches in the most conspicuous place. But the proud scorn to take God for their Master, because `the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us0' (John 1. 14). So that with these miserable creatures it is not enough that they are sick, but they boast of their sickness, and are ashamed of the medicine which could heal them. And doing so, they secure not elevation, but a more disastrous fall." This text, too, as Irenaeus has remarked, (2) entirely opposes the false teaching of the Docetae, who, as their name imports, believed, with the Manichaeans, that Christ only appeared to have a body; as was the case, they said, with the angels entertained by Abraham (see Burton's Bampton Lectures, lect. 6). It is curious to note here that Augustin maintained that the Angel of the Covenant was not an anticipation, as it were, of the incarnation of the Word, but only a created angel (De Civ. Dei, xvi. 29, and De Trin. iii. 11), thus unconsciously playing into the hands of the Arians. See Bull's Def. Fid. Nic. i. 1, sec. 2, etc., and iv. 3 sec. 14.
76 The founder of this heresy was Apollinaris the younger, Bishop of Laodicea, whose erroneous doctrine was condemned at the Council of Constantinople, A.D. 381. Note 4, sec. 23, above, on the "trichotomy," affords help in understanding it. Apollinaris seems to have desired to exalt the Saviour, not to detract from His honour, like Arius. Before his time men had written much on the divine and much on the human side of our Lord's nature. He endeavoured to show (see Dorner's Person of Christ, A. ii. 252, etc., Clark) in what the two natures united differed from human nature. He concluded that our Lord had no need of the human pneu=ma, and that its place was supplied by the divine nature, so that God "the Word," the body and the yuxh/, constituted the being of the Saviour. Dr. Pusey quotes the following passages hereon:-"The faithful who believes and confesses in the Mediator a real human, i. e. our nature, although God the Word, taking it in a singular manner, sublimated it into the only Son of God, so that He who took it, and what He took, was one person in the Trinity. For, after man was assumed, there became not a quaternity but remained the Trinity, that assumption making in an ineffable way the truth of one person in God and man. Since we do not say that Christ is only God, as do the Manichaean heretics, nor only man, as the Photinian heretics, nor in such wise man as not to have anything which certainly belongs to human nature, whether the soul, or in the soul itself the rational mind, or the flesh not taken of the woman, but made of the Word, converted and changed into flesh, which three false and vain statements made three several divisions of the Apollinarian heretics; but we say that Christ is true God, born of God the Father, without any beginning of time, and also true man, born of a human mother in the fulness of time: and that His humanity, whereby He is inferior to the Father, does not derogate from His divinity, whereby He is equal to the Father" (De Dono Persev. sec. ult.). "There was formerly a heresy-its remnants perhaps still exist-of some called Apollinarians. Some of them said that that man whom the Word took, when `the Word was made flesh,0' had not the human, i. e. rational (lsgiko/n) mind, but was only a soul without human intelligence, but that the very Word of God was in that man instead of a mind. They were cast out,-the Catholic faith rejected them, and they made a heresy. It was established in the Catholic faith that that man whom the wisdom of God took had nothing less than other men, with regard to the integrity of man's nature, but as to the excellency of His person, had more than other men. For other men may be said to be partakers of the Word of God, having the Word of God, but none of them can be called the Word of God, which He was called when it is said, `The Word was made flesh0' " (in Ps.xxix., Enarr. ii. sec. 2). "But when they reflected that, if their doctrine were true, they must confess that the only-begotten Son of God, the Wisdom and Word of the Father, by whom all things were made, is believed to have taken a sort of brute with the figure of a human body, they were dissastisfied with themselves; yet not so as to amend, and confess that the whole man was assumed by the wisdom of God, without any diminution of nature, but still more boldly denied to Him the soul itself, and everything of any worth in man, and said that He only took human flesh" (De 83, Div. Quaest. qu. 80) Reference on the questions touched on in this note may be made to Neander's Church History, ii. 401, etc. (Clark); and Hagenbach, History of Doctrines, i. 270 (Clark).
77 See notes on p. 107.
78 Archbishop Trench's words on this sentence in the Confessions (Hulsean Lectures, lect. v. 1845) have a special interest in the present attitude of the Roman Church:-"Doubtless there is a true idea of scriptural developments which has always been recognised, to which the great Fathers of the Church have set their seal; this, namely, that the Church, informed and quickened by the Spirit of God, more and more discovers what in Holy Scripture is given her; but not this, that she unfolds by an independent power anything further therefrom. She has always possessed what she now possesses of doctrine and truth, only not always with the same distinctness of consciousness. She has not added to her wealth, but she has become more and more aware of that wealth; her dowry has remained always the same, but that dowry was so rich and so rare, that only little by little she has counted over and taken stock and inventory of her jewels. She has consolidated her doctrine, compelled to this by the challenges and provocation of enemies, or induced to it by the growing sense of her own needs." Perhaps no one, to turn from the Church to individual men, has been more indebted than was Augustin to controversies with heretics for the evolvement of truth.