« PreviousContinue »
Ile differs likewise from St. Cyprian, who in treating on this subject, adviseth rather that these virgins should marry, if they are not able to persevere in the purpose of purity.
He differs also from St. Chrysostom, who in the second of his orations before-mentioned, says to those virgins: If you desire to have men to cohabit with you, you should not have chosen virginity, but should have married; for it would be better to marry, than to act thus in a state of virginity. God does not condemn marriage, nor do men disparage it. For it is honourable, offending none, injuring none. But virginity, in the company of men, is worse ⚫ and more offensive to all, than fornication itself.' Afterwards in the same oration he says, it would be better for these virgins to marry twice, than to act as they did, and be the occasion of so much scandal.' I refer to some other like places in these homilies of Chrysostom. But nothing of this kind appears in these epistles.
He who should read what this writer says in praise of virginity: how glorious, and how arduous it is, the great examples by which it is encouraged, and what peculiar rewards it is entitled to: must, I apprehend, think it strange, that for preventing ill consequences, and that men might not be led into a snare, he did not reckon himself obliged to add something concerning the lawfulness and purity of marriage, and the expediency of it for most men: which are so often intimated, and expressly asserted in the New Testament, and may be easily discerned by the reason, and observation and experience of mankind.
It is very likely, that before this practice obtained, the marriage of the clergy lay under some restraints. They who doubt of it, may read the notes of Gothofred upon a law of Honorius and Theodosius the younger, relating to this very matter. I transcribe from him a few lines only below. The marriage of the clergy was not forbidden by any canon of the church, or law of the state. But it lay under discouragements, and was restrained by the prevailing opinion of men. Celibacy was more reputable; and many clergymen coveted the honour of it, who found it burdensome. And virginity likewise being much applauded, many women were induced to make a profession of it: who afterwards knew not how to perform their engagements, nor to get rid of them. Gradually the celibacy of the clergy, and virginity of women, grew more and inore in vogue. And the high notions, which the writer of these epistles has of virginity, without saying any thing in favour of marriage, make me think, that he did not write soon, but rather not till a good while after the rise of the practice of which we have been speaking.
IV. THE AUTHOR ANONYMOUS. Who the author was, cannot be determined. Probably he was a bishop. It was most becoming a man in that high station, to write letters with exhortations to Christian people, especially to such as made profession of celibacy and virginity. Moreover it may be argued from the authoritative manner in which the second epistle concludes.
I do by no means charge the writer with imposture; I do not believe he had the least thought of such a thing. It should be observed, that there is not at the beginnings or endings of these epistles any distinguishing inscription. There is no name of the writer, nor any hint of his character and station. Nor is there any intimation of the city or country where they lived, to whom the epistles are addressed. There is only a title prefixed to these epistles, to this purpose: the first, or the second epistle of the blessed Clement disciple of the apostle Peter. And at the end is that common phrase-' Here ends the first, or the second epistle of Clement disciple of Peter.' These titles, or inscriptions, as I imagine, were placed there by some Jate editor, who did not know who was the writer of the epistles. It might be done by him igno
* Quodsi ex fide se Christo dicaverant, pudicæ et castre sine ulla fabula perseverent, et ita fortes et stabiles præmium virginitatis exspectent. Si autem perseverare nolunt, vel non possunt, melius est ut nubant, quam in ignem delictis suis cadant. Certe nullum fratribus et sororibus scandalum faciant. Cypr. ad Pompon. ep 4 al. 62.
1 Ει γας ανδρας επιθυμεις εχειν συνοικέντας, εκ εδει παρίεγιαν έλεσθαι, αλλ' επι τον γάμον ελθειν· πολλῳ γαρ βελτιον yaμleiv EXEIVws, y waglevɛvely &тws. x. λ. Ubi sup. p. 253. E.
• Πολλῳΐας βελτιον ένι, και δευτερῳ συνάπτεσθαι γαμῳ, η τοιχία ασχημάνειν, κ. λ. Ib. p. 265. D.
234. D. 236. D. E.
e Vid. ep. i. cap. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
Extraneas, inquam, mulieres vetantur clerici sibi adscis-
Porro epistola prior beati Clementis, discipuli Petri
Explicit Epistola secunda Clementis, discipuli Petri.
rantly, or designedly; which of the two, we cannot determine. He might, I say, herein act honestly. Possibly he really supposed them to be the epistles of Clement; though, if he did, he was much mistaken. Or he might do it designedly, with a view to procure the more regard for the epistles, which he was publishing.
As there is nothing in the epistles to distinguish the author, or the people, to whom he wrote, I have suspected, that he was anonymous, and that he designed to be so. When he formed the intention to write upon this subject, he determined to conceal himself. He hoped, that his exhortations might in that way have the greater effect.. Having thus fixed his resolution, he wrote in the form of epistles, upon the subject, which at that time was much discoursed of, and addressed himself to those who were chiefly concerned, sending them admonitions and directions according to the best of his judgment. However, this is only conjecture. For when these epistles were first published, the writer might be well known, though afterwards his name and character were forgotten.
V. IMPORTANCE OF THESE EPISTLES. From the extracts, placed at the beginning of this Dissertation, we learn, that the epistle to the Hebrews was received by the writer of these epistles. And from the numerous quotations out of the Old and the New Testament, we perceive the great regard which Christians had for the sacred scriptures. Of which we have seen many proofs in the collections that have been made from the ancient writers of the church.
We likewise discern, that at the time of writing these epistles virginity was in great esteem. But if a true account has been now given of the time and occasion of these epistles, we cannot from them learn the date of any of the books of the New Testament. Mr. Wetstein, supposing, that these epistles were written by Clement of Rome, thinks, that from the quotations here made of St. John's gospel, it may be proved, that St. John wrote earlier than many have imagined, or about the thirty-second year after our Lord's ascension. I do not now concern myself about the time of publishing St. John's gospel. But if these epistles were not written before the middle of the third century, no argument for the early age of that gospel can be drawn from the quotations of it by this writer. And though the writer were Clement, Mr. Wetstein's argument would not be conclusive, because the exact time of Clement's episcopate is not certainly known. At least there are different opinions about it: some placing it in the year of Christ 61, and onwards, others in 69 or 70. And others say, he was not bishop before the year 91, or 93. Many years ago, when I made my extracts out of Clement's epistle to the Corinthians, written in the name of the Church of Rome, it seemed to me most probable, that it was written about the year 96. And the late learned Dr. Waterland, whose good judgment in such things is allowed, readily declared his acquiescence in the reasons there alleged. These epistles therefore might be Clement's, and yet not written much before the end of the first century. Consequently, the quotations therein made of St. John's gospel will not prove it to have been written before the year of our Lord 70.
VI. CONCLUSION. I have now made a fair examination of these two epistles. I hope I have given no offence to Mr. Wetstein, or his friends. That learned man knows very well, that the pretensions of writings, which bear the names of eminent ancients, ought to be carefully weighed, before they are admitted. And I persuade myself, that upon farther consideration Mr. Wetstein will be convinced he has too hastily published these epistles as Clement's bishop of Rome. And I am apt to think, that he and other learned men will discern in them more marks of a later age, than have been taken notice of by me.
When tidings were first brought hither, that Mr. Wetstein had received two new epistles of Clement out of the East, several of my friends and readers signified their desire, that when they should be published, I would observe the testimony therein afforded to the books of the New Testament. Which service I have now performed, according to my ability. They supposed it to be a necessary part of the work, in which I have been long employed. Which is not barely a bibliotheque of ecclesiastical authors, or memoirs of ecclesiastical history, but was begun, and
Hinc etiam consequitur, Evangelium Joannis non ab eo jam decrepito et fere centenario, et post mortem Clementis, sed diu antea esse editum, adeoque inscriptionem codicum Græcorum, qui illud Evangelium auno 32 post ascensionem Christi――scriptum fuisse testantur, ad verum propius accedere. Proleg. p. ix.
b See Vol. I. p. 292.
See Dr. Waterland's Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist, p. 33. Cambridge 1737.
has been carried on with a view of showing the truth of the Christian religion, particularly, the truth and credibility of the evangelical history, and the antiquity, genuineness, and authority of the books of the New Testament, the original records of the doctrine and miracles of our Saviour and his apostles. And all along great care has been taken to distinguish genuine and supposititious writings. Which I now reflect upon with much satisfaction. In this method, witnesses, when produced, appear in their true time and character. And every one is able to judge of the value of their testimony.'
END OF THE DISSERTATION.
ON THE MOSAIC ACCOUNT OF THE
CREATION AND FALL OF MAN.
HERE are not a few difficulties in the account, which Moses has given of the creation of the world, and of the formation, and temptation, and fall of our first parents. Some by the six days of the creation have understood as many years. Whilst others have thought the creation of the world instantaneous: and that the number of days mentioned by Moses is only intended to assist our conception, who are best able to think of things in order of succession.
No one part of this account is fuller of difficulties than that which relates to man. And some learned Jews, as well as Origen, and others among Christians, have supposed the account before us, not to be a history, but an allegory. The present prevailing opinion is, that what relates to man is fact. And it is argued, that, as the true character of Moses is that of an historian; it would be unbecoming his judgment and exactness, to insert an allegory in the midst of historical facts, without giving any intimation of it.
I shall take the account in the literal sense, and shall go over it under these several heads or divisions. 1. The formation of man. 2. The trial upon which he was put in paradise. 3. The temptation he met with. 4. His transgression. 5. The consequences of that, with the sentence passed by God upon the tempter, and upon the transgressors, our first parents.
1. The first thing in order is the creation of man. For with that I begin, not intending to survey the other works of God, before made.
Gen. i. 26. “And God said, Let us make man, in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." Ver. 27. "So God created man in his own image: in the image of God created he him, male and female
created he them."
This may be reckoned a summary account of the creation of man, which is more largely and particularly related again in the next chapter.
"And God said: Let us make man, in our image, after our likeness."
It is common for Christians to say, that here is a proof of a Trinity of persons in the unity of the Godhead. To which others answer, that the Jews never understood these expressions after
this manner, who always believed one God, and that God to be one person only, except when they fell into gross idolatry, after the manner of their heathen neighbours. And many learned Christians are clearly of opinion, that the doctrine of the trinity was not revealed in the Old Testament.
These interpreters therefore suppose, that the style common to princes and great men, who often speak in the plural number, is here ascribed to God. Nor need the consultation, here represented, be supposed to be between equals. But God may be rather supposed to declare his mind to his angels, as counsellors. Nor will it be an invincible objection, that in this history there is no notice taken of the creation of angels. For there follow expressions, which may be reckoned to imply their existence and their dignity, and that they were not unknown unto man.
But indeed we need not to suppose any real discourse or consultation at all. The meaning is no more than this: All other things being made, God proceeded to the creation of man; or, he purposed now, at the conclusion, to make man.' And it may be reckoned probable, that Moses introduces God in this peculiar manner, deliberating and consulting upon the creation of man, to intimate thereby, that he is the chief of the works of God, which are here described. Or, in other words, according to Patrick upon ver. 26. God not only reserved man for the last of his works, but does, as it were, advise and consult, or deliberate about his production : the better to represent the dignity of man, and that he was made with admirable wisdom and ⚫ prudence.'
It is here also worthy to be observed, that according to the account of Moses, a different method was taken in forming man, from that in which other animals were formed. Ver. 20. "And God said: Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life." And afterwards, ver. 24. "And God said: Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth." They were produced by the Divine power, and command. But God is represented, as making man himself, immediately, to denote his dignity, and superior prerogative above the rest of the creatures.
Still at ver. 26. " And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." By which two-fold expression, it is likely, one and the same thing is intended. For when the result or execution of this deliberation and purpose is described and related, it is in this manner: ver. 27. “So God created man in his own image: in the image of God created he him.”
What is the " image," or likeness of God, intended by Moses, is not clear, because he has not distinctly expressed it: and we may now conjecture things which were not in the mind of the writer. Nevertheless I think the coherence leads us to understand hereby, as somewhat suitable to the mind of Moses, "dominion over the rest of the creatures of this earth," together with that reason and understanding, which is a main part of the superiority of the human nature above brute creatures, and qualifies man to rule over them, and subdue them, and make them subservient to his own use and benefit. So are the words of this twenty-sixth verse: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth on the earth." And the eminence of man is thus described, Job xxxv. 11. "He teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven."
Ver. 27. "So God created man in his own image: in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them." What we are first led to observe here, as connected with what was just said, is that the woman was made after the image of God, as well as the man.
And from inserting, in this summary account of man's creation, on the sixth day, this particular, that "God created man male and female," it may be concluded, that the woman too was made on that day; which, I reckon, is the general opinion of interpreters: though there are some things in the next chapter, containing a more particular account of the formation of man, that might occasion some doubt about it. Patrick, in particular, says, God made woman the same day he made man: as he did both sexes of other creatures, and as he made herbs and ⚫ plants with seeds in them, to propagate their species.'
It is always supposed, that God made man in maturity of body and understanding. And some have been so curious as to inquire at what age: or what was the age he appeared to have. And in conformity to the great length of the lives of the antediluvians, they have supposed, he might have the appearance of a man of fifty or sixty years of age according to that time,
Ver. 28. "And God blessed them, and God said unto them: Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth." The Jewish writers are generally disposed to understand that expression, "be fruitful and multiply," as implying a precept universally binding. But the coherence rather leads us to understand it of a blessing or power: the like to which was bestowed upon the brute creatures, at ver. 22, which are not the subjects of a precept.
And here the privilege of dominion over the creatures is again expressed, denoting it to be common to both sexes, and designed to appertain to their posterity. "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it. And have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."
It follows in ver. 29, and 30. And God said: Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree, yielding seed. To you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth on the earth wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat. And it was so." Hence it is argued by many, that meat, or food of animal flesh, was not used before the flood. But that does not seem certain. It may be allowed, that for a good while, flesh was forborn. As animals were made by pairs only, it was not convenient that any should be slain till they were increased. It may be allowed also, that vegetables were very much the diet of those who lived before the flood: when, probably, all things were in greater vigour and perfection than afterwards. But here is no prohibition of animal food. And it is observable, that Abel and Seth, and all who were of the family of God, were keepers of cattle. And, if they were not allowed to make use of them for food, it would be difficult to show, how keeping cattle, not fit for draught or burden, especially in any large number, could turn to a good account. If it be said, they might use their milk; I answer, that is more than is clearly expressed in the grant. Moreover, sacrifices of living creatures were in use very early. It is not reasonable to think, they were all whole burnt-offerings. It may be reckoned probable, that they who brought to God sacrifices and offerings of living creatures, did partake of their offerings which, certainly, was the custom in after times.
The first chapter of Genesis concludes thus: "And God saw every thing that he had made : and behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." Every thing was now formed according to the will, and purpose, and command of God. And every part of each day's creation, man in particular, was good, and such as God approved and designed.
Thus we have surveyed the summary account of man's creation, which is in the first chapter of the book of Genesis. At the beginning of the second chapter is introduced an account of the sabbath, and a description of Paradise, which I forbear to insist on: but I would observe what is farther said of the formation of the first pair.
Ch. ii. 7. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. And man became a living soul." And man became a living soul." Man is made of the "dust of the ground." But thereby is supposed to be meant moist earth. And whereas it is said, "God breathed into him the breath of life," which is not said of any other animals: it is hence argued, that the soul of man is different from the body, and that it is a more excellent spirit than that of brute creatures.
Ver. 18. "And the Lord God said: It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him an help meet for him." Here, I apprehend, we are led to the same observation that was mentioned before, upon occasion of those words, which represented God as consulting about the creation of man.". The design of those expressions was to intimate the great dignity, and su perior excellence of man above brute creatures, whose creation was before related. In like manner, when God proceeds to the making of the woman, he is represented as consulting, and resolving what to do: that the man might be the more sensible of the goodness of the Creator in providing for him so suitable a help.
Ver. 19. And out of the ground God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them to Adam, to see what he would call them. And whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof." Ver. 20. "And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found an help meet for him." This bringing the living creatures to Adam, and his giving them names, is a proof of his dominion over them.