Early Church Fathers
43 Cant, i. 4.
44 John i. 12.
45 1 Cor. i. 27, 28.
46 1Cor. xv. 9.
47 Acts. xiii. 12.
48 Matt. xi. 30.
49 " `As Scipio, after the conquest of Africa, took the name of Africanus, so Saul also, being sent to preach to the Gentiles, brought back his trophy out of the first spoils won by the Church, the proconsul Sergius Paulus, and set up his banner, in that for Saul he was called Paul0' (Jerome, Comm. in Ep. ad Philem. init). Origen mentions the same opinion (which is indeed suggested by the relation in the Acts), but thinks that the apostle had originally two names (Praef. in Comm. in Ep. ad Rom.), which, as a Roman, may very well have been, and yet that he made use of his Roman name Paul first in connection with the conversion of the proconsul; Chrysostom says that it was doubtless changed at the command of God, which is to be supposed, but still may have been at this time."-E. B. P.
50 "Satan makes choice of persons of place and power. These are either in the Commonwealth or church. If he can, he will secure the throne and the pulpit, as the two forts that command the whole line....A prince or a ruler may stand for a thousand; therefore saith Paul to Elymas when he would have turned the deputy from the faith, `O full of all subtilty, thou child of the devil!0'(Acts. xiii. 10). As if he had said, `You have learned this of your father the devil,-to haunt the courts of princes, wind into the favour of great ones. There is a double policy Satan hath in gaining such to his side.-(a) None have such advantage to draw others to their way. Corrupt the captain, and it is hard it he bring not off his troop with him. When the princes-men of renown in their tribes-stood up with Korah, presently a multitude are drawn into the conspiracy (Num. xvi. 2, 19). Let Jeroboam set up idolatry, and Israel is soon in a snare. It is said [that] the people willingly walked after his commandment (Hos. v. 11). (b) Should the sin stay at court, and the infection go no further, yet the sin of such a one, though a good man, may cost a whole kingdom dear. Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel (1 Chron. xxi. 1). He owed Israel a spite, and he pays them home in their king's sin, which dropped in a fearful plague upon their heads,"-Gurhall, The Christian in Complete Armour, vol. i. part 2.
51 Matt. xii. 29.
52 Luke xi, 22, 25.
53 2 Tim. ii. 21.
54 During the reign of Constantius, laws of a persecuting character were enacted against Paganism, which led multitudes nominally to adopt the Christian faith. When Julian the Apostate came to the throne, he took steps immediately to reinstate Paganism in all its ancient splendour. His court was filled with Platonic philosophers and diviners, and he sacrificed daily to the gods. But, instead of imitating the example of his predecessor, and enacting laws against the Christians, he endeavoured by subtlety to destroy their faith. In addition to the measures mentioned by Augustin above, he endeavoured to foment divisions in the Church by recalling the banished Donatists, and stimulating them to disseminate their doctrines, and he himself wrote treatises against it. In order, if possible, to counteract the influence of Christianity, he instructed his priests to imitate the Christians in their relief of the poor and care for the sick. But while in every way enacting measures of disability against the Christians, he showed great favour to the Jews, and with the view of confuting the predictions of Christ, went so far as to encourage them to rebuild the Temple.
55 Wisd, x. 21.
56 There would appear to be a law at work in the moral and spiritual worlds similar to that of gravitation in the natural, which "acts inversely as the square of the distance." As we are more affected, for example, by events that have taken place near us either in time or place, than by those which are more remote, so in spiritual things, the monitions of conscience would seem to become feeble with far greater rapidity than the continuance of our resistance would lead us to expect, while the power of sin, in like proportion, becomes strong. When tempted, men see not the end from the beginning. The allurement, however, which at first is but as a gossamer thread, is soon felt to have the strength of a cable. "Evil men and seducers wax worse and worse" (2 Tim. iii. 13), and when it is too late they learn that the embrace of the siren is but the prelude to destruction. "Thus,"as Gurnall has it (The Christian in Complete Armour, vol. i. part 2), "Satan leads poor creatures down into the depths of sin by winding stairs, that let them not see the bottom whither they are going....Many who at this day lie in open profaneness, never thought they should have rolled so far from their modest beginnings. O Christians, give not place to Satan, no, not an inch, in his first motions. He that is a beggar and a modest one without doors, will command the house if let in. Yield at first, and thou givest away thy strength to resist him in the rest; when the hem is worn, the whole garment will ravel out, if it be not mended by timely repentance." See Müller, Lehre von der Sünde, book v., where the beginnings and alarming progress of evil in the soul are graphically described. See ix. sec. 18, note, below.
57 Gal. v. 17.
58 See iv. sec. 26, note, and v. sec. 18, above.
59 Rom. vii. 20.
60 See v. sec. 2, note 6, above.
61 Illud placebat et vincebat; hoc libebat et vinciebat. Watts renders freely, "But notwithstanding that former course pleased and overcame my reason, yet did this latter tickle and enthrall my senses."
62 Eph. v. 14
63 As Bishop Wilberforce, eloquently describing this condition of mind, says, in his sermon on The Almost Christian, "New, strange wishes were rising in his heart. The Mighty One was brooding over its currents, was stirring up its tides, was fain to overrule their troubled flow-to arise in open splendour on his eyes; to glorify his life with His own blessed presence. And he himself was evidently conscious of the struggle; he was almost won; he was drawn towards that mysterious birth, and he well-nigh yielded. He even knew what was passing within his soul; he could appreciate something of its importance, of the living value of that moment. If that conflict was indeed visible to higher powers around him; if they who longed to keep him in the kingdom of darkness, and they who were ready to rejoice at his repentance-if they could see the inner waters of that troubled heart, as they surged and eddied underneath these mighty influences, how must they have waited for the doubtful choice! how would they strain their observation to see if that Almost should turn into an Altogether, or die away again, and leave his heart harder than it had been before!"
64 Rom. vii. 22-24. This difficilis et periculosus locus (Serm. cliv. 1) he interprets differently at different periods of his life. In this place, as elsewhere in his writings, he makes the passage refer (according to the general interpretation in the Church up to that time) to man convinced of sin under the influence of the law, but not under grace. In his Retractations, however (i. 23, sec. 1), he points out that he had found reason to interpret the passage not of man convinced of sin, but of man renewed and regenerated in Christ Jesus. This is the view constantly taken in his anti-Pelagian writings, which were published subsequently to the date of his Confessions; and indeed this change in interpretation probably arose from the pressure of the Pelagian controversy (see Con. Duas Ep. Pel. i. 10, secs. 18 and 22), and the fear lest the old view should too much favour the heretics, and their exaltation of the powers of the natural man to the disparagement of the influence of the grace of God.
65 Ps. xix. 14.
66 It may be well here to say a few words in regard to Monachism and Antony's relation to it:-(1) There is much in the later Platonism, with its austerities and bodily mortifications (see vii. sec. 13, note 2, above), which is in common with the asceticism of the early Church. The Therapeutae of Philo, indeed, of whom there were numbers in the neighbourhood of Alexandria in the first century, may be considered as the natural forerunners of the Egyptian monks. (2) Monachism, according to Sozomen (i. 12), had its origin in a desire to escape persecution by retirement into the wilderness. It is probable, however, that, as in the case of Paul the hermit of Thebais, the desire for freedom from the cares of life, so that by contemplation and mortification of the body, the lo/goj or inner reason (which was held to be an emanation of God) might be purified, had as much to do with the hermit life as a fear of persecution. Mosheim, indeed (Ecc. Hist. i. part 2, c. 3), supposes Paul to have been influenced entirely by these Platonic notions. (3) Antony was born in the district of Thebes, A.D. 251, and visited Paul in the Egyptian desert a little before his death. To Antony is the world indebted for establishing communities of monks, as distinguished from the solitary asceticism of Paul; he therefore is rightly viewed as the founder of Monachism. He appears to have known little more than how to speak his native Coptic, yet during his long life (said to have been 100 years) he by his fervent enthusiasm made for himself a name little inferior to that of the "king of men," Athanasius, whom in the time of the Arian troubles he stedfastly supported, and by whom his life has been handed down to us. Augustin, in his De Doctr. Christ. (Prol. sec. 4), speaks of him as " a just and holy man, who, not being able to read himself, is said to have committed the Scriptures to memory through hearing them read by others, and by dint of wise meditation to have arrived at a thorough understanding of them." (4) According to Sozomen (iii. 14), monasteries had not been established in Europe A.D. 340. They were, Baronius tells us, introduced into Rome about that date by Athanasius, during a visit to that city. Athanasius mentions "ascetics" as dwelling at Rome A.D. 355. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Martin, Bishop of Tours, and Jerome were enthusiastic suppporters of the system. (5) Monachism in Europe presented more of its practical and less of its contemplative side, than in its cradle in the East. An example of how the monks of the East did work for the good of others is seen in the instance of the monks of Pachomius; still in this respect, as in matters of doctrine, the West has generally shown itself more practical than the East. Probably climate and the style of living consequent thereon have much to do with this. Sulpicius Severus (dial. i. 2, De Vita Martini) may be taken to give a quaint illustration of this, when he makes one of his characters say, as he hears of the mode of living of the Eastern monks, that their diet was only suited to angels. However mistaken we may think the monkish systems to be, it cannot be concealed that in the days of anarchy and semi-barbarism they were oftentimes centres of civilisation. Certainly in its originating idea of meditative seclusion, there is much that is worthy of commendation; for, as Farindon has it (Works, iv. 130), "This has been the practice not only of holy men, but of heathen men. Thus did Tully, and Antony, and Crassus make way to that honour and renown which they afterwards purchased in eloquence (Cicero, De Officiis, ii. 13, viii. 7); thus did they pass a solitudine in scholas, a scholis in forum,-`from their secret retirement into the schools, and from the schools into the pleading-place.0' "
67 Augustin, when comparing Christian with Manichaean asceticism, says in his De Mor. Eccl. Cath. (sec. 70), "I saw at Milan a lodging-house of saints, in number not a few, presided over by one presbyter, a man of great excellence and learning." In the previous note we have given the generally received opinion, that the first monastery in Europe was established at Rome. It may be mentioned here that Muratori maintains that the institution was transplanted from the East first to Milan; others contend that the first European society was at Aquileia.
68 See vi. sec. 12, note 1, above.
69 Matt. v. 3. Roman commentators are ever ready to use this text of Scripture as an argument in favour of monastic poverty, and some may feel disposed from its context to imagine such an interpretation to be implied in this place. This, however, can hardly be so. Augustin constantly points out in his sermons, etc. in what the poverty that is pleasing to God consists. "Pauper Dei," he says (in Ps. cxxxi. 15), "in animo est, non in sacculo;" and his interpretation of this passage in his Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount (i. 3) is entirely opposed to the Roman view. We there read: "The poor in spirit are rightly understood here as meaning the humble and God-fearing, i.e. those who have not a spirit which puffeth up. Nor ought blessedness to begin at any other point whatever, if indeed it is to reach the highest wisdom. `The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom0' (Ps. cxi. 10); whereas, on the other hand also, `pride0' is entitled `the beginning of all sin0' (Ecclus. x. 13). Let the proud, therefore, seek after and love the kingdoms of the earth, but `blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.0' "
70 "Agentes in rebus. There was a society of them still about the court. Their militia or employments were to gather in the emperor's tributes; to fetch in offenders; to do Palatini obsequia, officers of court provide corn, etc., ride on errands like messengers of the chamber, lie abroad as spies and intelligencers. They were often preferred to places of magistracy in the provinces; such were called Principesor Magistriani. St. Hierome upon Abdias, c. 1, calls them messengers. They succeeded the Frumentarii, between which two and the Curiosi and the Speculatores there was not much difference."-W. W.
71 Luke xiv. 26-35.
72 Ps. xxxvi. 2.
73 See iii. sec. 7, above.
74 It is interesting to compare with this passage the views contained in Augustin's three books, Con. Academicos,-the earliest of his extant works, and written about this time. Licentius there maintains that the "bare search" for truth renders a man happy, while Trygetius contends that the "finding alone" can produce happiness. Augustin does not agree with the doctrine of the former, and points out that while the Academics held the probable to be attainable, it could not be so without the true, by which the probable is measured and known. And, in his De Vita Beata, he contends that he who seeks truth and finds it not, has not attained happiness, and that though the grace of God be indeed guiding him, he must not expect complete happiness (Retractations, i. 2) till after death. Perhaps no sounder philosophy can be found than that evidenced in the life of Victor Hugo's good Bishop Myriel, who rested in the practice of love, and was content to look for perfect happiness, and a full unfolding of God's mysteries, to the future life:-"Aimez-vous les uns les autres, il declarait cela complet, ne souhaitait rien de plus et c'était là toute sa doctrine. Un jour, cet homme qui se croyait `philosophe,0' ce senateur, déjà nommé, dit à l'évêque: `Mais voyez donc le spectacle du monde; guerre de tous contre tous; le plus fort a le plus d'ésprit. Votre aimez-vous les uns les autres est une bêtise.0'-`Eh bien,0' répondit Monseigneur Bienvenu, sans disputer, `si c'est une bêtise, l'âme doit s'y enfermer comme la perle dans l'huitre.0' Il s'y enfermait donc, il y vivait, il s'en satisfaisait absolument, laissant de côté les questions prodigieuses qui attirent et qui épouvantent, les perspectives insoudables de l'abstraction, les précipices de la métaphysique, toutes ces profondeurs convergentes, pour l'apôtre, à Dieu, pour l'athée, au néant: la destinée, le bien et le mal, la guerre de l'être contre l'être, la conscience de l'homme, le somnambulisme pensif de l'animal, la transformation par la mort, la récapitulation d'existences qui contient le tombeau, la greffe incompréhensible des amours successifs sur le moi persistant, l'essence, la substance, le Nil et l'Ens, l'âme, la nature, la liberté, la nécessité; problèmes à pic, épaisseurs sinistres, où se penchent les gigantesques archanges de l'ésprit humain; formidables abimes que Lucrèce, Manon, Saint Paul, et Dante contemplent avec cet aeil fulgurant qui semble, en regardant fixement l'infini, y faire eclore les étoiles. Monseigneur Bienvenu était simplement un homme qui constatait du dehors les questions mystérieuses sans les scruter, sans les agiter, et sans en troubler son propre ésprit; et qui avait dans l'âme le grave respect de l'ombre."-Les Miserables, c. xiv.
75 Isa. xxvi. 20, and Matt. vi. 6.
76 Matt. xi. 12.
77 Ps. lxviii. 2.
78 Titus i. 10.
79 And that therefore they were not responsible for their evil deeds, it not being they that sinned, but the nature of evil in them. See iv. sec. 26, and note, above, where the Manichaean doctrines in this matter are fully treated.
80 Eph. v. 8.
81 See iv. sec. 26, note, above.
82 John i. 9.
83 Ps. xxxiv. 5.
84 See v. sec. 2, note 6, above, and x. sec. 5, note, below.
85 Rom. vii. 17.
86 The Manichaeans.
87 Col. iii. 5.
88 Ps. cxix. 85, Old ver..
89 As in nature, the men of science tell us, no two atoms touch, but that, while an inner magnetism draws them together, a secret repulsion keeps them apart, so it is with human souls. Into our deepest feelings our dearest friends cannot enter. In the throes of conversion, for example, God's ministering servants may assist, but He alone can bring the soul to the birth. So it was here in the case of Augustin. He felt that now even the presence of his dear friend would be a burden,-God alone could come near, so as to heal the sore wound of his spirit-and Alypius was a friend who knew how to keep silence, and to await the issue of his friend's profound emotion. How comfortable a thing to find in those who would give consolation the spirit that animated the friends of Job, when "they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him; for they saw that his grief was very great" (Job ii. 13) Well has Rousseau said: "Les consolations indiscrètes ne font qu' aigrir les violentes afflictions. L' indifference et la froideur trouvent aisément des paroles, mais la tristesse et le silence sont alors le vrai langage de l'amitié." A beautiful exemplification of this is found in Victor Hugo's portrait of Bishop Myriel, in Les Misérables (c. iv.), from which we have quoted a few pages back:-"Il savait s'asseoir et se taire de longues heures auprès de l'homme que avait perdu la femme qu'ii aimait, de la mére qui avait perdu son enfant. Comme il savait le moment de se taire, il savait aussi le moment de parler. O admirable consolateur! il ne cherchait pas à effacer la douleur par l'oubli, mais à l'agrandir et à la dignifier par l'ésperance."
90 See note 3, page 71.
91 I Pet. ii. 5.
92 Ps. vi. 3.
93 Ps. lxxix. 5, 8.
94 See his Life by St. Athanasius, secs. 2, 3.
95 Matt xix. 2l.
96 Rom xiii. 13,14.
97 Rom. xiv. 1.
98 Eph. iii. 20.
99 See book iii. sec. 19.
100 Ps. xxx. 11.