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giving judgment on the attempts of its several sects, and pronouncing how far each was right and where wrong.
This is a primâ facie view of the case, which Mosheim has to meet; and he attempts to do so by maintaining that one Potamo, an Eclectic philosopher, who lived at the end of the second century, was really of the date of Augustus, and preceded Christianity,-a supposition which Brucker and others disprove. He observes, too, that Athenagoras, as we have seen, was an Eclectic after he joined the Church, apparently with the view of suggesting that he was an Eclectic before it; and that St. Clement pronounced that true philosophy was Eclectic, as if this avowal implied the presence of a heathen Eclectic school; and that Pantænus, being called by one author a Stoic, and by another a Pythagorean, before he was a Christian, probably was neither, but professed the Eclectic principle; and that since Christian philosophers were in the practice of following the Stoics in ethics, Aristotle in dialectics, Plato in theology, therefore they were corrupted by heathen Eclecticism; moreover, that St. Augustine certainly confesses that philosophers joined the Church without giving up their paganism, because he speaks of Platonists, who, with only the change of a few words and sentiments, had become Christians; lastly, that Origen's Platonic opinions are well known, and that his pupils were raised to the highest dignities in the Eastern Church.
What we have a right to demand is some antecedent probability, or specimen of evidence, to show that any one doctrine or principle was in the Neoplatonic sect before it was in the Catholic Church, and that it passed from the former into the latter; yet even assuming that there were certain anticipations of that sect in the two centuries preceding its rise, which is far from being proved, no proof does
Mosheim bring of such a communication or corruption as is in question.
He proceeds to speak in detail of the external and internal evils which Neo-platonism inflicted on the Church; with the external we are not concerned.
Under the latter head, he mentions the history of Synesius, in the fifth century, who, being a Platonic philosopher, was consecrated a Bishop without renouncing his opinions; and next he refers to the heretical author of the Clementines, to show “what mischief to Christian interests had been caused by that wisdom of the Alexandrians.”
Then he compares the frauds and falsehoods of heathens and heretics; the doctrine of pious frauds countenanced by the Judaic writer last mentioned, by the ancient priests of Egypt, and by Pythagoras and Plato; moreover, the numerous spurious writings of the first ages, and false accounts of miracles, with the principle of economy sanctioned by Origen, St. Chrysostom, and Synesius, down to the time of St. Augustine; by way of proving that the principle of the economy came from the philosophical extravagances.
Lastly, he proceeds to assert that Platonism has introduced into the Church wrong opinions about human liberty, the state of the dead, the human soul, the Holy Trinity and kindred doctrines, religious contemplation, and the interpretation of Scripture; and wrong practices in rites and usages, as fasting, abstinence, and continence; but he still does not offer any proof of these assertions.
It is plain that, in the whole of this elaborate Essay, there are but two of his statements which are at all of the nature of an argument in behalf of the matter of fact which he proposes to prove: the one, that Origen is said to have introduced Platonic doctrine into his writings; the other, that Synesius is charged with not renouncing his Platonism on
becoming a Bishop. Of these, the instance of Synesius is an isolated one; while Origen was never countenanced by the Church even in his day, and has no distinct connexion with the Neo-platonists.
If it be asked how a clear and sensible mind, such as the writings of Mosheim evince, could reason so loosely, the answer is ready. He took it for granted that the Catholic doctrines and usages were wrong; and in that case, since there is a resemblance between the philosophical and the Catholic, there is certainly a very strong presumption that the Catholic were actually derived from the philosophical. Accordingly, throughout his dissertation, he is but arranging and interpreting the facts of the history by his thesis, and not proving his thesis by the facts.
These instances may suffice in illustration of a method of reasoning, ordinary and necessary when facts are scarce ; often easy to handle aright, but very frequently difficult and dangerous; open to great abuse, and depending for its success or failure far more on the individual exercising it than on rules which can be laid down; a method, which, if delicate and doubtful when used in proof of the Catholic Creed, is far less certain and far less satis, factory in the many instances in which it is applied to scientific and historical investigations.
istorical ines in which it less satis
ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE ARGUMENT IN BEHALF OF
THE EXISTING DEVELOPMENTS OF CHRISTIANITY.
Care, and the hon is the ous, the de
No one will be disposed to deny that the body of doctrine which at this day goes by the name of Catholic is at once the historical and the logical continuation of the body of doctrine so called in the eighteenth, in the seventeenth, in the sixteenth, and so back in every preceding century successively till we come to the first. Whether it be a corrupt development or a legitimate, conducted on sound logic or fallacious, the present so-called Catholic religion is the successor, the representative, and the heir of the religion of the so-called Catholic Church of primitive times.
Neither can any one, I think, deny, after following the line of thought which has just been brought to a conclusion, that the doctrines of which the present Catholic religion consists are primâ facie the correct, true, faithful, legitimate developments of the doctrines which preceded them, and not their corruptions; that a very strong case ought to be made out against that religion, to prove that it is materially corrupt, and not in its substance Apostolic.
We have now to proceed a step further,—to apply to these so-called Catholic doctrines, thus favourably recommended to our notice, the tests which have already been framed to distinguish between development and corruption; that is, in the fair and reasonable temper which is demanded
THE FIRST TEST
of us by this primâ facie likelihood of their fidelity to their originals. I ought rather to say,—to suggest how those tests may be applied, for this is all that can be expected in an undertaking like the present.
APPLICATION OF THE FIRST TEST OF FIDELITY
THE CHURCH OF THE FIRST CENTURIES. It was said, then, that a true development retains the essential idea of the subject from which it has proceeded, and a corruption loses it. What then is the true idea of Christianity? and is it preserved in the developments commonly called Catholic, and in the Church which embodies and teaches them?
Here, it must be observed, according to a foregoing remark, that the forms and types of divine creations are not, strictly speaking, ascertainable; they are facts. No one can define an oak, or an eagle, or a lion, or any other of the objects which arrest us, and which we gaze upon externally. We can but describe them. We multiply properties or qualities which attach to them, and thereby impress upon the mind analytically an image of that which we cannot philosophically express. Let us now pursue the same way with the Church. Let us take it as the world now views it in its age; and let us take it as the world once viewed it in its youth; and let us see whether there be any great difference between the early and the later description of it. The following statement will show my meaning :
There is a religious communion claiming a divine · commission, and calling all other religious bodies