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leading writers of the age-a literal spirit, which characterises the most eminent early teachers of Asia Minor. Of this, Irenæus, originally educated in this school, may be taken as a fit representative. În their struggles with Gnosticism, Irenæus and Tertullian were necessarily led to build much upon the historical truth of Catholic doctrine. In order to establish the authority of what was taught in the Church, they had to show the essential accordance of this with the primitive doctrines of Christianity. Accordingly, to give completeness to their line of defence against Gnosticism, the earliest Catholics fell back upon the words of the Apostles, as contained in the Scriptures, and preserved by the unbroken and general tradition of the Churches. Here alone could they be looked for, as the Canon of Scripture was as yet unsettled, and the Scriptures not yet universally accessible.
A survey of Christian Theology, during the first four centuries, will show that the attention of its principal professors was directed to widely different objects. In its earlier stages, the antagonists with whom they had to contend were the champions of heathen philosophy, of Gnostic errors, or of systems with which non-Christian elements were in some measure blended. The aim of a subsequent generation was to establish the systems of Catholic faith on a fixed and orthodox basis, by the aid of dialectical weapons. The fundamental and distinctive doctrines of Christianity formed, during the first or Apologetic Period, the subject of dispute. The energies of the second period were employed in reducing the inequalities introduced into the doctrine of Christianity during its assumption of a dogmatic form, to the standard of Catholic faith.
13. A great diversity of opinion prevailed in the early Church respecting the Millennium. The future kingdom of Christ was depicted, by many Christians, in very Judaising colours. Their views, respecting this future event and its consequences, were, in many instances, material and earthly. The Gnostics, whose leading characteristic was a perverted spiritualism, were opposed to this mistaken notion, which, however, found partial supporters in Justin Martyr, Irenæus, and Tertullian. The Montanists, in accordance with their principles, supported mistaken notions on this point; while Origen excited his power and influence to banish from the Church a doctrine which he considered eminently mischievous. His opinions found an antagonist in Methodius (290). Subsequently to the legal establishment of Christianity, and the consequent abatement of persecutions (in which the faithful had imagined that they saw those workings of Antichrist which were to precede the second coming of Jesus), the Millenarian doctrines lost ground. In the fourth century, however, they were supported to a certain extent by Lactantius and others, and it may be said (although for a short time only) by Augustine.
14. The first eminent teacher of the celebrated Catechetical School of Alexandria was Pantænus (180). His works are no longer extant. But his fame has been exceeded by that of his successor, Clement of Alexandria, and in a still greater degree by that of Origen, the father
of Christian Philosophy. The principal writings of Clement, which have come down to us, are his Exhortation, Schoolmaster, and Stromata : the first containing warnings against Heathenism, and an invitation to Christianity; the second, a statement of Christian morality, addressed to converts; the third, designed for those who had made some progress in the faith, is a miscellaneous collection of ancient learning and philosophy, clothed in a Christian dress. What remains to us from the vast labours of Origen, may be divided into three classes : the first, or dogmatic, containing, with the fragments of the De Principiis, the famous treatise in defence of Christianity, against Celsus; the second, or exegetical, consists of his multifarious homilies, scholia, and commentaries ; the third, or critical, contains the remains of his great and valuable Hexapla, or six-fold version of the Scriptures.
15. The attention of Origen and his school was principally devoted to the consideration and developement of the doctrine of the Logos. The bright side of their labours, the benefits of which we cannot too highly appreciate, is the establishment of the orthodox doctrine respecting the divinity of Christ, as finally set forth in the creeds of Nice and Constantinople.
In the ordinary course of events, Theology is indebted for a systematic cultivation and a learned dress to the disputes and investigations which may arise in connexion with it. Occasionally, however, the influence of a single teacher has imparted to an entire period his own spirit of enquiry, or impressed upon it a certain method of investigation and refinement. The condition of Christian Theology was at first plain, simple, and inartificial; the substance of its teaching was summed up in a belief in the One True God, and faith in His Son for the remission of sins. But Origen appeared, whose philosophical acuteness was to reduce to greater precision many dogmas which had hitherto remained undisputed.
The faults of Origen are those of the school of Alexandria, and, as such, are shared by his predecessor, Clement. Much has been written by them, to which no Christian can fairly object, regarding the nature and relative value of Knowledge and Faith. But, on the other hand, it is equally undeniable, that their speculative and contemplative leanings induced them to separate by shadowy lines the respective provinces of knowledge and faith. Again, with regard to the ideal of a Christian man, as portrayed by them, some blemishes may be discovered, which mar the effect of the remaining touches, true and exquisite as many of these undoubtedly are. How consonant with the real spirit of Christianity are the following words of Clement: “ The perfect Christian, who regardeth the weal of his neighbour as his own salvation, may of a truth be called the lively image of the Lord, not after his personal resemblance, but after his likeness in power, and his copying him in preaching the Word.” But, on the other hand, it cannot be denied that the Gnosticus of the school of Alexandria, “the man fully furnished unto all good works,” partakes too largely of the calm, cold, unsocial selfishness of the later Platonism, and that he expresses
too feebly his consciousness of a still adherent, inveterate sinfulness, or of his own littleness and insignificance.
16. Such is the judgement passed by Neander on the Alexandrian notions of individual perfection. More serious faults remained behind. While in many other and important respects the Alexandrian school has claims on the gratitude of Christian posterity, its professors lost sight of the practical object of Christianity, in their attempts to discover scope for their speculative opinions in the Scriptures.
Origen (and there is no reason to doubt his sincerity) united the allegorising views which he applied to the canonical books of both Testaments with the profoundest expressions of reverence for these sacred writings. But, although the principles adopted by Origen, fraught as these were with evil to the historical truths of Christianity, thus opened a wide range to individual license of interpretation, the age in which he lived, and its peculiar circumstances, must be taken into consideration. The cause, according to him, of all existing errors, impieties, and unfounded theories, with regard to the Godhead, was the neglect of the spiritual, for a bare literal, interpretation of Scripture. This was asserted to have a tendency to confirm the Jew in his exclusive adherence to the letter of the Old Testament, and the rude and unlettered Christian in mistaken views of the Divinity and his attributes. While animated by the piety of a Clement and an Origen, no extensive or enduring mischief was likely to arise from the application of these fallacious principles. But the withdrawal or extinction of this qualifying spirit, removed (as might have been expected) the antidote to the errors and evils which subsequently ensued..
17. The same speculative predilections are found in the writings of the other principal writers, professing the same principles
Among the most eminent of the Alexandrian school is Athanasitis (d. 373), the father of orthodoxy. His dogmatical writings are spirited, as well as sound. In style Athanasius is less harsh and rugged than the fiery Tertullian, less affected than Jerome, free from the embarrassing copiousness of Chrysostom, and more natural than Gregory of Nazianzum. Such is the judgement of Erasmus on the merits of Athanasius, as a writer. It has been well said, by a more recent author, that the conduct of this famous witness in the cause of sound religion is marked “by a bold, uncompromising enthusiasm; a chivalrous ardour in the cause of religion, undaunted by difficulties, acquiring intensity by struggling with adventures.” Three writers of the same school, in their respective spheres, almost rival the fame of Athanasius. Gregory of Nyssa (373) was the adversary of Eunomius and Apollinaris. His great talents were devoted to the cultivation of dogmatic Theology, with a success little inferior, in the opinion of some, to that of his model, Origen. His brother, Basil the Great (373), was equally illustrious as a disciplinarian and as a dogmatical theologian. His writings on the true doctrine of the Holy Spirit are
eminently valuable. With these two is joined Gregory of Nazianzum, surnamed the Theologian-almost the greatest preacher of the Eastern Church. He compiled, with Basil, a selection from the works of Origen, for the diffusion of the principles which they professed in common. An evil result has arisen from addresses to the dead, introduced into his Encomiastics, which have been quoted by succeeding generations as formal invocations and prayers to departed saints. To the same school belong Eusebius (d. 340) of Cæsarea, the founder of Ecclesiastical History, and Didymus (d. 395), the last worthy director of the school in which Origen had taught. In the West the principles of Origen were maintained by Hilary of Poitiers (d. 368), and by Ambrose (d. 397), Archbishop of Milan
18. The errors of the schools of Alexandria and Antioch are principally attributable to mistaken views of Scripture and inspiration. The same diversity, which runs throughout the productions of these two great bodies, is apparent in their errors. The Alexandrian theologians lost sight of the letter, in a mistaken adherence to the spirit ; while those of Antioch set out upon a track often as much too barely literal. The school of Antioch was founded by Lucian (d.311): its most eminent teachers were Eusebius of Emesa (d. 360), reputed to have been an elegant and copious writer, but of questionable orthodoxy; Cyril of Jerusalem (350), author of the valuable Catechetical Lectures, still extant; Ephraim (d. 378) the Great Syrian, Diodorus of Tarsus (394), and the acute and original Theodore (429) of Mopsuestia.
19. For some time the controversies springing from the different principles of interpretation, maintained by the schools of Alexandria and Antioch, did not prevent reciprocal admissions of good will and respect. This is discernible in two celebrated men of the period Jerome (429) and Chrysostom (d. 407). Brought up in the principles of the Origenists, Jerome made ample use of the writings of the Antiochene school. On the other hand, Chrysostom was far from professing a bigoted adherence to the principles of the latter school, in which he had been educated.
Vain and censorious as Jerome undoubtedly was, few have exercised a wider influence on Theology. Subsequently to the promulgation of heretical charges against Origen by Epiphanius (d. 203)—a man of undoubted piety and learning, but extremely narrow-minded, and not sufficiently discriminating to undertake the difficult task of an historian of heresies--Jerome thought fit to censure the Alexandrian Father, whom he had before extolled. Hence his controversy with Rufinus (d. 410). Jerome's claims to the regard of posterity are based upon his versions of Scripture, and his exegetical and critical labours. His learning is extraordinary, when measured by the highest standard ; and in this field was his proper occupation. As a controversialist, Jerome is discreditably violent.
20. We have before quoted the words of Augustine, that many matters lay hid in the Scriptures, until evolved by the disputes of
heretics. This was the case with regard to the dogma of the Trinity. External circumstances led to an explicit statement of a doctrine implicitly believed before. The early Church took up and rested in the simple declarations of Scripture respecting the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. In a short time, however, the attention of theologians was drawn to this subject, as errors of Gnostic or Ebionite origin respectively grew more rife, or as charges of a leaning to Polytheism were brought against the Christians. The task appeared to divide itself into two parts, bearing severally on the difference, and the unity, of the Son with the Father. For a time the ordinary current of heresy was towards Monarchianism. This is observable in the tenets of Praxeas, Theodotus, Paul of Samosata, and Sabellius. The neces. sity of checking this tendency occupied, for a time, the attention of the Church and her teachers. Subsequently, however, the tendency changed towards the opposite error of Subordinatianism. The most remarkable form in which it appeared was that of Arianism, which represented the Son of God, or the Logos, as the first of created beings. These views were condemned at the Council of Nice, in A.D. 325. But the Arians were divided into several sections. Of the decidedly Arian party, known by the appellations of Anomæans and Exucontians, Ætius, Eunomius, and Acacius, were the chiefs. Another division was that of the Semi-Arians, termed likewise Homæusiasts, from their allowing to the Son only a similarity of essence with the Father. Others, again, like Eusebius, appear to have attempted a middle course, but, with perhaps, a leaning to Arianism.
Marcellus, and his pupil Photinus (336), followed Paul of Samosata in distinguishing between the Logos and the Son of God. By these teachers Christ's Sonship was referred to his Incarnation ; by which doctrine Photinus drew upon himself the unanimous condemnation of both Catholics and Arians. The exertions of Athanasius were finally rewarded by the establishment of the orthodox doctrine, as laid down by the Fathers of Nice. The same great writer asserted the equality of the Third Person in the Trinity with the other two, in opposition to the Tropici, or Pneumatomachi, who maintained the Holy Spirit to be a creature, one of the ministering spirits, and differing from the angels only in station.
21. For a formal expression of the doctrine of the Trinity the Church would appear to be indebted to the disputes between the orthodox party and the Arians and Macedonians. After the decisions of the Council of Nice, it was not long in the words of Hooker) "ere Macedonius transferred unto God's Most Holy Spirit the same blasphemy wherewith Arius had already dishonoured His co-eternally begotten Son—not long ere Apollinarius began to pare away from Christ's humanity.” Subsequently the attention of the orthodox theologians was attracted by the Nestorian and Eutychian disputes. To quote again from Hooker : “ As Nestorius, teaching rightly that God and man are different natures, did thereupon misinfer that in