Early Church Fathers
61 Ps. xli. 4.
62 Ps. cxli. 3, 4, Old Vers. See also Augustin's Commentary on the Psalms, where, using his Septuagint version, he applies this passage to the Manichaeans.
63 "Amongst these philosophers," i.e. those who have founded their systems on denial, "some are satisfied with denying certainty, admitting at the same time probability, and these are the New Academics; the others, who are the Pyrrhonists, have denied even this probability, and have maintained that all things are equally certain and uncertain" (Port. Roy. Log. iv. 1). There are, according to the usual divisions, three Academies, the old, the middle, and the new; and some subdivide the middle and the new each into two schools, making five schools of thought in all. These begin with Plato, the founder (387 B. C.), and continue to the fifth school, founded by Antiochus (83 B. C.), who, by combining his teachings with that of Aristotle and Zeno, prepared the way for Neo-Platonism and its development of the dogmatic side of Plato's teaching. In the second Academic school, founded by Arcesilas,-of whom Aristo, the Stoic, parodying the line in the Iliad (vi. 181), IIro/sqe le/wn, o_piqen de' dra/kwn, me/ssh de' ximaira, said sarcastically he was "Plato in front, Pyrrho behind, and Diodorus in the middle,"-the "sceptical" tendency in Platonism began to develope itself, which, under Carneades, was expanded into the doctrine of the third Academic school. Arcesilas had been a pupil of Polemo when he was head of the old Academy. Zeno also, dissatisfied with the cynical philosophy of Crates, had learnt Platonic doctrine from Polemo, and was, as Cicero tells us (De Fin. iv. 16), greatly influenced by his teaching. Zeno, however, soon founded his own school of Stoical philosophy, which was violently opposed by Arcesilas (Cicero, Acad. Post. i. 12). Arcesilas, according to Cicero (ibid.), taught his pupils that we cannot know anything, not even that we are unable to know. It is exceedingly probable, however, that he taught esoterically the doctrines of Plato to those of his pupils he thought able to receive them, keeping them back from the multitude because of the prevalence of the new doctrine. This appears to have been Augustin's view when he had arrived at a fuller knowledge of their doctrines than that he possessed at the time referred to in his Confessions. In his treatises against the Academicians (iii. 17) he maintains the wisdom of Arcesilas in this matter. He says: "As the multitude are prone to rush into false opinions, and, from being accustomed to bodies, readily, but to their hurt, believe everything to be corporeal, this most acute and learned man determined rather to unteach those who had suffered from bad teaching, than to teach those whom he did not think teachable." Again, in the first of his Letters, alluding to these treatises, he says: "It seems to me to be suitable enough to the times in which they flourished, that whatever issued pure from the fountain-head of Platonic philosophy should be rather conducted into dark and thorny thickets for the refreshment of a very few men, than left to flow in open meadow-land, where it would be impossible to keep it clear and pure from the inroads of the vulgar herd. I use the word `herd0' advisedly, for what is more brutish than the opinion that the soul is material?" and more to the same purpose. In his De Civ. Dei, xix 18, he contrasts the uncertainty ascribed to the doctrines of these teachers with the certainty of the Christian faith. See Burton's Bampton Lectures, note 33, and Archer Butler's Ancient Philosophy, ii. 313, 348, etc. See also vii. sec. 13, note, below.
64 See iii. sec. 21, above.`
65 See iv. secs. 3, 12, and 31, above.
66 See iv. 26, note 2, above.
67 See above, sec. 12, note.
68 The dualistic belief of the Manichaean ever led him to contend that Christ only appeared in a resemblance of flesh, and did not touch its substance so as to be defiled. Hence Faustus characteristically speaks of the Incarnation (Con. Faust. xxxii. 7) as "the shameful birth of Jesus from a woman," and when pressed (ibid. xi 1) with such passages as, Christ was "born of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Rom. i. 3), he would fall back upon what in these days we are familiar with as that "higher criticism," which rejects such parts of Scripture as it is inconvenient to receive. Paul, he said, then only "spoke as a child" (I Cor. xiii. 11), but when he became a man in doctrine, he put away childish things, and then declared, "Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more." See above, sec. 16, note 3.
69 See iii. sec. 14, above.
70 On this matter reference may be made to Con. Faust. xviii. 1, 3; xix. 5, 6; xxxiii. 1, 3.
71 They might well not like to give the answer in public, for, as Augustin remarks (De Mor. Eccles. Cath. sec. 14), every one could see "that this is all that is left for men to say when it is proved that they are wrong. The astonishment that he experienced now, that they did "not bring forward any uncorrupted copies," had fast hold of him, and after his conversion he confronted them on this very ground. "You ought to bring forward," he says (ibid. sec. 61), "another manuscript with the same contents, but incorrupt and more correct, with only the passage wanting which you charge with being spurious....You say you will not, lest you be suspected of corrupting it. This is your usual reply, and a true one." See also De Mor. Manich. sec. 55; and Con. Faust. xi. 2, xiii. 5, xviii. 7, xxii. 15, xxxii. 16.
72 See above, sec. 19, Fin..
73 Ps. cxxxix. 22
74 Ps. iv. 7, and civ. 15.
75 Ps. cxix. 155.
76 I Cor. xiii. 12, and 2 Cor. iii. 6. See vi. sec. 6, note, below.
77 He frequently alludes to this scoffing spirit, so characteristic of these heretics. As an example, he says (in Ps. cxlvi. 13): "There has sprung up a certain accursed sect of the Manichaeans which derides the Scriptures it takes and reads. It wishes to censure what it does not understand, and by disturbing and censuring what it understands not, has deceived many." See also sec. 16, and iv. sec. 8, above.
78 See above, sec. 19, and note.
79 See vi. sec. 2, note, below.
80 In his Benefit of Believing, Augustin adverts to the above experiences with a view to the conviction of his friend Honoratus, who was then a Manichaean.
1 Ps. lxxi. 5.
2 See iv. sec. 18, note, above.
3 Luke vii. 12-l5.
4 Fidelem Catholicum-those who are baptized being usually designated Fideles. The following extract from Kaye's Turtullian (pp. 230, 231) is worthy of note:-"As the converts from heathenism, to use Tertullian's expression, were not born, but became Christians [fiunt, nascuntur, Christiani], they went through a course of instruction in the principles and doctrines of the gospel, and were subjected to a strict probation before they were admitted to the rite of baptism. In this stage of their progress they were called catechumens, of whom, according to Suicer, there were two classes,-one called `Audientes,0' who had only entered upon their course, and begun to hear the word of God; the other, sunaitou=ntej, or `Competentes,0' who had made such advances in Christian knowledge and practice as to be qualified to appear at the font. Tertullian, however, appears either not to have known or to have neglected this distinction, since he applies the names of `Audientes0' and `Auditores0' indifferently to all who had not partaken of the rite of baptism. When the catechumens had given full proof of the ripeness of their knowledge, and of the stedfastness of their faith, they were baptized, admitted to the table of the Lord, and styled Fideles. The importance which Tertullian attached to this previous probation of the candidates for baptism, appears from the fact that he founds upon the neglect of it one of his charges against the heretics. `Among them,0' he says, `no distinction is made between the catechumen and the faithful or confirmed Christian; the catechumen is pronounced fit for baptism before he is instructed; all come in indiscriminately; all hear, all pray together.0' " There were certain peculiar forms used in the admission of catechumens; as, for example, anointing with oil, imposition of hands, and the consecration and giving of salt; and when, from the progress of Christianity, 'I'ertullian's above description as to converts from heathenism had ceased to be correct, these forms were continued in many churches as part of the baptismal service, whether of infants or adults. See Palmer's Origines Liturgicae, v. 1, and also i. sec. 17, above, where Augustin says: "I was signed with the sign of the cross, and was seasoned with His salt, even from the womb of my mother."
5 John iv. 14.
6 "Sermons," says Goodwin in his Evangelical Communicant, "are, for the most part, as showers of rain that water for the instant; such as may tickle the ear and warm the affections, and put the soul into a posture of obedience. Hence it is that men are oft-times sermon-sick, as some are sea-sick; very ill, much troubled for the present, but by and by all is well again as they were."
7 That is, as is explained further on in the section, the Martyrs. Tertullian gives us many indications of the veneration in which the martyrs were held towards the close of the second century. The anniversary of the martyr's death was called his natalitium, or natal day, as his martyrdom ushered him into eternal life, and oblationes pro defunctis were then offered. (De Exhor. Cast. c. 11; De Coro. c. 3). Many extravagant things were said about the glory of martyrdom, with the view, doubtless, of preventing apostasy in time of persecution. It was described (De Bap. c. 16; and De Pat. c. 13.) as a second baptism, and said to secure for a man immediate entrance into heaven, and complete enjoyment of its happiness. These views developed in Augustin's time into all the wildness of Donatism. Augustin gives us an insight into the customs prevailing in his day, and their significance, which greatly illustrates the present section. In his De Civ. Dei, viii. 27, we read: "But, nevertheless, we do not build temples, and ordain priests, rites, and sacrifices for these same martyrs; for they are not our gods, but their God is our God. Certainly we honour their reliquaries, as the memorials of holy men of God, who strove for the truth even to the death of their bodies, that the true religion might be made known, and false and fictitious religions exposed....But who ever heard a priest of the faithful, standing at an altar built for the honour and worship of God over the holy body of some martyr, say in the prayers, I offer to thee a sacrifice, O Peter, or O Paul, or O Cyprian? For it is to God that sacrifices are offered at their tombs,-the God who made them both men and martyrs, and associated them with holy angels in celestial honour; and the reason why we pay such honours to their memory is, that by so doing we may both give thanks to the true God for their victories, and, by recalling them afresh to remembrance, may stir ourselves up to imitate them by seeking to obtain like crowns and palms, calling to our help that same God on whom they called. Therefore, whatever honours the religious may pay in the places of the martyrs, they are but honours rendered to their memory [ornamenta memoriarum], not sacred rites or sacrifices offered to dead men as to gods. And even such as bring thither food-which, indeed, is not done by the better Christians, and in most places of the world is not done at all-do so in order that it may be sanctified to them through the merits of the martyrs, in the name of the Lord of the martyrs, first presenting the food and offering prayer, and thereafter taking it away to be eaten, or to be in part bestowed upon the needy. But he who knows the one sacrifice of Christians, which is the sacrifice offered in those places, also knows that these are not sacrifices offered to the martyrs." He speaks to the same effect in Book xxii. sec. 10; and in his Reply to Faustus (xx. 21), who had charged the Christians with imitating the Pagans, "and appeasing the `shades0' of the departed with wine and food." See v. sec. 17, note.
8 Following the example of Ambrose, Augustin used all his influence and eloquence to correct such shocking abuses in the churches. In his letter to Alypius, Bishop of Thagaste (when as yet only a presbyter assisting the venerable Valerius), he gives an account of his efforts to overcome them in the church of Hippo. The following passage is instructive (Ep. xxix. 9):-"I explained to them the circumstances out of which this custom seems to have necessarily risen in the Church, namely, that when, in the peace which came after such numerous and violent persecutions, crowds of heathen who wished to assume the Christian religion were kept back, because, having been accustomed to celebrate the feasts connected with their worship of idols in revelling and drunkenness, they could not easily refrain from pleasures so hurtful and so habitual, it had seemed good to our ancestors, making for the time a concession to this infirmity, to permit them to celebrate, instead of the festivals which they renounced, other feasts in honour of the holy martyrs, which were observed, not as before with a profane design, but with similar self-indulgence."
9 See v. sec. 17, note 5, above.
10 On another occasion, when Monica's mind was exercised as to non-essentials, Ambrose gave her advice which has perhaps given origin to the proverb, "When at Rome, do as Rome does." It will be found in the letter to Casulanus (Ep. xxxvi. 32), and is as follows:-"When my mother was with me in that city, I, as being only a catechumen, felt no concern about these questions; but it was to her a question causing anxiety, whether she ought, after the custom of our own town, to fast on the Saturday, or, after the custom of the church of Milan, not to fast. To deliver her from perplexity, I put the question to the man of God whom I have first named. He answered, `What else can I recommend to others than what I do myself?0' When I thought that by this he intended simply to prescribe to us that we should take food on Saturdays,-for I knew this to be his own practice,-he, following me, added these words: `When I am here I do not fast on Saturday, but when I am at Rome I do; Whatever church you may come to, conform to its custom, if you would avoid either receiving or giving offence.0' " We find the same incident referred to in Ep. liv. 3.
11 Rom. xii. 11.
12 In his Reply to Faustus (vi. 7), he, conformably with this idea, explains the division into clean and unclean beasts under the Levitical law symbolically. "No doubt," he says, "the animal is pronounced unclean by the law because it does not chew the cud, which is not a fault, but its nature. But the men of whom this animal is a symbol are unclean, not by nature, but from their own fault; because, though they gladly hear the words of wisdom, they never reflect on them afterwards. For to recall, in quiet repose, some useful instruction from the stomach of memory to the mouth of reflection, is a kind of spiritual rumination. The animals above mentioned are a symbol of those people who do not do this. And the prohibition of the flesh of these animals is a warning against this fault. Another passage of Scripture (Prov. xxi. 20) speaks of the precious treasure of wisdom, and describes ruminating as clean, and not ruminating as unclean: `A precious treasure resteth in the mouth of a wise man, but a foolish man swallows it up.0' Symbols of this kind, either in words or in things, give useful and pleasant exercise to intelligent minds in the way of inquiry and comparison."
13 2 Tim. ii. 15.
14 Col. iii. 10, and Gen. i. 26, 27. And because we are created in the image of God, Augustin argues (Serm. lxxxviii. 6), we have the ability to see and know Him, just as, having eyes to see, we can look upon the sun. And hereafter, too (Ep. xcii. 3), "We shall see Him according to the measure in which we shall be like Him; because now the measure in which we do not see Him is according to the measure of our unlikeness to Him.
15 See iii. sec. 12, note, above.
16 2 Cor. iii. 6. The spiritual or allegorical meaning here referred to is one that Augustin constantly sought, as did many of the early Fathers, both Greek and Latin. He only employs this method of interpretation, however, in a qualified way-never going to the lengths of Origen or Clement of Alexandria. He does not depreciate the letter of Scripture, though, as we have shown above (iii. sec. 14, note), he went as far as he well could in interpreting the history spiritually. He does not seem, however, quite consistent in his statements as to the relative prominence to be given to the literal and spiritual meanings, as may be seen by a comparison of the latter portions of secs. 1 and 3 of book xvii. of the City of God. His general idea may be gathered from the following passage in the 21st sec. of book xiii.:-"Some allegorize all that concerns paradise itself, where the first men, the parents of the human race, are, according to the truth of Holy Scripture, recorded to have been; and they understand all its trees and fruit-bearing plants as virtues and habits of life, as if they had no existence in the external world, but were only so spoken of or related for the sake of spiritual meanings. As if there could not be a real terrestrial paradise! As if there never existed these two women, Sarah and Hagar, nor the two sons who were born to Abraham, the one of the bond-woman, the other of the free, because the apostle says that in them the two covenants were prefigured! or as if water never flowed from the rock when Moses struck it, because therein Christ can be seen in a figure, as the same apostle says: `Now that rock was Christ0' (I Cor. x. 4)....These and similar allegorical interpretations may be suitably put upon paradise without giving offence to any one, while yet we believe the strict truth of the history, confirmed by its circumstantial narrative of facts." The allusion in the above passage to Sarah and Hagar invites the remark, that in Galatians iv. 24, the words in our version rendered, "which things are an allegory," should be, "which things are such as may be allegorized." [Atina/ e'stin a/llhgorou/mena. See Jelf, 398, sec. 2.] It is important to note this, as the passage has been quoted in support of the more extreme method of allegorizing, though it could clearly go no further than to sanction allegorizing by way of spiritual meditation upon Scripture, and not in the interpretation of it-which first, as Waterland thinks (Works, vol. v. p. 311), was the end contemplated by most of the Fathers. Thoughtful students of Scripture will feel that we have no right to make historical facts typical or allegorical, unless (as in the case of the manna, the brazen serpent, Jacob's ladder, etc.) we have divine authority for so doing; and few such will dissent from the opinion of Bishop Marsh (Lecture vi.) that the type must not only resemble the antitype, but must have been designed to resemble it, and further, that we must have the authority of Scripture for the existence of such design. The text, "The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life," as a perusal of the context will show, has nothing whatever to do with either "literal" or "spiritual" meanings. Augustin himself interprets it in one place (De Spir. et Lit. cc. 4, 5) as meaning the killing letter of the law, as compared with the quickening power of the gospel. "An opinion," to conclude with the thoughtful words of Alfred Morris on this chapter ( Words for the Heart and Life, p. 203), "once common must therefore be rejected. Some still talk of `letter0' and `spirit0' in a way which has no sanction here. The `letter0' with them is the literal meaning of the text, the `spirit0' is its symbolic meaning. And, as the `spirit0' possesses an evident superiority to the `letter,0' they fly away into the region of secret senses and hidden doctrines, find types where there is nothing typical, and allegories where there is nothing allegorical; make Genesis more evangelical than the Epistle to the Romans, and Leviticus than the Epistle to the Hebrews; mistaking lawful criticism for legal Christianity, they look upon the exercise of a sober judgment as a proof of a depraved taste, and forget that diseased as well as very powerful eyes may see more than others. It is not the obvious meaning and the secret meaning that are intended by `letter0' and `spirit,0' nor any two meanings of Christianity, nor two meanings of any thing or things, but the two systems of Moses and of Christ." Reference may be made on this whole subject of allegorical interpretation in the writings of the Fathers to Blunt's Right Use of the Early Fathers, series i. lecture 9.
17 Augustin frequently dilates on this idea. In sermon 88 (cc. 5, 6, etc.), he makes the whole of the ministries of religion subservient to the clearing of the inner eye of the soul and in his De Trin. i. 3, he says: "And it is necessary to purge our minds, in order to be able to see ineffably that which is ineffable [i. e. the Godhead], whereto not having yet attained, we are to be nourished by faith, and led by such ways as are more suited to our capacity, that we may be rendered apt and able to comprehend it."
18 He similarly exalts the claims of the Christian Church over Manichaeanism in his Reply to Faustus (xxxii. 19): "If you submit to receive a load of endless fictions at the bidding of an obscure and irrational authority, so that you believe all those things because they are written in the books which your misguided judgment pronounces trustworthy, though there is no evidence of their truth, why not rather submit to the evidence of the gospel, which is so well-founded, so confirmed, so generally acknowledged and admired, and which has an unbroken series of testimonies from the apostles down to our own day, that so you may have an intelligent belief, and may come to know that all your objections are the fruit of folly and perversity?" And again, in his Reply to Manichaeus' Fundamental Epistle (sec. 18), alluding to the credulity required in those who accept Manichaean teaching on the mere authority of the teacher: "Whoever thoughtlessly yields this becomes a Manichaean, not by knowing undoubted truth, but by believing doubtful statements. Such were we when in our inexperienced youth we were deceived."
19 He has a like train of thought in another place (De Fide Rer. quae non Vid. sec. 4): "If, then (harmony being destroyed), human society itself would not stand if we believe not that we see not, how much more should we have faith in divine things, though we see them not; which if we have it not, we do not violate the friendship of a few men, but the profoundest religion-so as to have as its consequence the profoundest misery." Again, referring to belief in Scripture, he argues (Con. Faust. xxxiii. 6) that, if we doubt its evidence, we may equally doubt that of any book, and asks, "How do we know the authorship of the works of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero Varro, and other similar writers, but by the unbroken chain of evidence?" And once more he contends (De Mor. Cath. Eccles. xxix 60) that, "The utter overthrow of all literature will follow and there will be an end to all books handed down from the past, if what is supported by such a strong popular belief, and established by the uniform testimony of so many men and so many times, is brought into such suspicion that it is not allowed to have the credit and the authority of common history."
20 See i. sec. 10, note, above.
21 Matt. vii. 13.
22 In the Benedictine edition it is suggested that this was probably Valentinian the younger, whose court was, according to Possidius (c. i. ), at Milan when Augustin was professor of rhetoric there, who writes (Con. Litt. Petil. iii. 25) that he in that city recited a panegyric to Bauto, the consul, on the first of January, according to the requirements of his profession of rhetoric.
23 Prov. xxii. 15.
24 Here, as elsewhere, we have the feeling which finds its expression in i. sec. 1, above: "Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee."
25 Compare v. sec. 17, note, above, and sec. 15, note, below.
26 Prov. ix. 8.
27 The games in the Provinces of the empire were on the same model as those held in the Circus Maximus at Rome, though not so imposing. This circus was one of those vast works executed by Tarquinius Priscus. Hardly a vestige of it at the present time remains, though the Cloaca Maxima, another of his stupendous works, has not, after more than 2500 years, a stone displaced, and still performs its appointed service of draining the city of Rome into the Tiber. In the circus were exhibited chariot and foot races, fights on horseback, representations of battles (on which occasion camps were pitched in the circus), and the Grecian athletic sports introduced after the conquest of that country. See also sec. 13, note, below.
28 Augustin, in book v. sec. 9, above, refers to the reputed sanctity of Manichaeus, and it may well be questioned whether the sect deserved that unmitigated reprobation he pours out upon them in his De Moribus, and in parts of his controversy with Faustus. Certain it is that Faustus laid claim, on behalf of his sect, to a very different moral character to that Augustin would impute to them. He says (Con. Faust. v. 1): "Do I believe the gospel? You ask me if I believe it, though my obedience to its commands shows that I do. I should rather ask you if you believe it, since you give no proof of your belief. I have left my father, mother, wife, and children, and all else that the Gospel requires (Matt. xix. 29); and do you ask if I believe the gospel? Perhaps you do not know what is called the gospel. The gospel is nothing else than the preaching and the precept of Christ. I have parted with all gold and silver, and have left off carrying money in my purse; content with daily food; without anxiety for to-morrow; and without solicitude about how I shall be fed, or wherewithal I shall be clothed: and do you ask if I believe the gospel? You see in me the blessings of the gospel (Matt. v. 3-11); and do you ask if I believe the gospel? You see me poor, meek, a peacemaker, pure in heart, mourning, hungering, thirsting, bearing persecutions and enmity for righteousness' sake; and do you doubt my belief in the gospel?" It is difficult to understand that Manichaeanism can have spread as largely as it did at that time, if the asceticism of many amongst them had not been real. It may be noted that in his controversy with Fortunatus, Augustin strangely declines to discuss the charges of immorality that had been brought against the Manichaeans; and in the last chapter of his De Moribus, it appears to be indicated that one, if not more, of those whose evil deeds are there spoken of had a desire to follow the rule of life laid down by Manichaeus.