Obrazy na stronie


of the universal Christian consciousness; but for this reason written testimonies which subserve that consciousness, and never go beyond it, must be given against those who have falsified the meaning and bearing of the Creed.* In reference also to the authority of the General Councils, he agrees with Vincentius, Christ cannot be wanting to the priests assembled in his name.† General Councils have this advantage, that what cannot be apprehended by the understanding is credited on authority. But the agreement of these councils proceeds from the previous controversies.

In the Oriental Church the doctrine of the Church's authority was not maintained so systematically and absolutely, but in practice the authority of Tradition prevailed in the interpretation of the Scriptures. It was opposed by MARCELLUS of ANCYRA. When the dogmas of the Fathers were brought against him, he replied that the word dóyua denoted a human opinion;§ he would acknowledge no authority but the Divine declarations of Holy Writ. In the Greek Church the views of the mystic theology respecting the holiness of certain things which could not be expressed, and respecting higher truths which could not be generally understood, promoted the belief in the obscurity of the Scriptures, and the notion that in order to understand them, a traditionary interpretation was needed, not granted to every one. As at an earlier period reference was made to a Gnostic secret tradition, so now certain higher dogmatic truths which were not committed to writing, but were only to be silently propagated, were distinguished from such as were publicly announced; a distinction was made between δόγμα and κήρυγμα.|| Thus many esoteric deeper truths which were not developed in Holy Writ, were said to have found their expression, and to have been propagated in the sacred usages and symbols of the Church. Hence such usages were employed as proofs of dogmas of which they presupposed the existence. It was certainly true, that certain Church usages might serve as testimonies of the contents of the universal Christian consciousness, but as genuine and foreign elements might mingle


• Pro Defensione Trium, cap. viii. c. 7.

Neander's Ch. Hist. iii, 251.

+ Ibid.

§ Ibid. iv. 448.

Euseb. Demon. Evgl. aypapo Jeoμoí. Basil M. de Spir. S. c. 27, cf. Suicer Thesaur. s. v. dóyμa.

'ympathy for the fate of the heathen. The question was forced upon them, what lot awaited those heathens who lived before the advent of Christ? The prevalent view was that of an unconditional condemnation of the heathen, in accordance with the stern opposition to paganism, and the literal exposition and isolation of the passages respecting the condemnation of unbelievers. Marcion belonged to the few who came to a different conclusion, since he regarded the descensus ad inferos as intended to benefit the heathen who were in need of redemption. Perhaps in the legend of the descent of the Apostles to Hades, there might be a vague notion of the restoration of those who had not arrived at the knowledge of Christ in the present life. The Alexandrian Church Teachers expressed this opinion very distinctly. According to them discipline and reformation were the only ends of punishment, so that it could not be eternal; the final end is άroxarάoraois, the entire freedom from evil. Hence Clement says: "If in this life there are so many ways for purification and repentance, how much more should there be after death! The purification of souls, when separated from the body, will be easier. We can set no limits to the agency of the Redeemer; to redeem, to rescue, to discipline, is his work; and so will he continue to operate after this life."+ Clement did not deem it proper to express himself more fully respecting this doctrine, because he considered that it formed a part of the Gnosis. Hence he says: As to the rest I am silent, and praise the Lord."+ Origen infers from the variety of ways and methods by which men are led to the faith in this life, that there will be a diversity in the divine modes of discipline after death; notwithstanding this, however, he considers it extremely important that every one should in this life become a believer. Whoever neglects the Gospel, or after baptism commits grievous sins, will suffer so much heavier punishments after death.§ The doctrine of a general restoration he found explicitly in 1 Cor. xv. 28. Yet he reckons this among the Gnostic (or esoteric)


* J. F. Cotta, Historia Succincta Dogmatis de Poenalium Infernalium Duratione: Tüb. 1774. J. A. Dietelmaier, Commenti Fanatici άπoк“Taorάoews návrov Historia Antiquior: Altorf, 1769.

Strom. vi. p. 638.

Jbid. vii. p. 706.

In Joann vi. § 37, p. 267. Lomm

[blocks in formation]

doctrines, for he says, "It would not be useful for all if they had this knowledge; but it is well, if at least fear of a material hell keep them back from sin."*

The doctrine of the Resurrection and continued personal existence,† is not an isolated truth in Christianity, but has a close connexion with the whole Christian scheme. The human personality in its whole extent is destined to be resuscitated in a higher form. Christianity, which will not annihilate but transform, refers this transformation to all the parts in which the human personality presents itself, and therefore to the body; the process of transformation begins in this earthly existence, and will be completed at the resurrection. The form in which the doctrine of immortality was conceived, according to which it was extended to the earthly body, was important at this time, in order to maintain the reality of immortality in opposition to an over-refined spiritualism. This controversy had been carried on with the Gnostics, but it had become more intricate, and the opposition of the Gnostics was roused afresh by the crude sensuous form in which the identity of the body had been asserted, while its advocates were not led to more spiritual conceptions by 1 Cor. xv. This is proved by the writings of JUSTIN, ATHANASIUS and TERTULLIAN. The latter was deeply penetrated with the importance of this doctrine in the scheme of Christianity; in his treatise, De Resurrectione Carnis, he defends it against the Gnostics, and makes many excellent hermeneutical observations on the Gnostic perversions of the Scripture. But his Realism obtrudes itself in his sensuous modes of representation. Origen has the merit of greater spirituality of conception, and he endeavoured to find a medium between the views of a heretical gnosis and the sensuous contractedness of the common Church mode of contemplation. Hence he distinguishes between the essence and the special form belonging to the earthly existence-between the material substance as it presents itself in this world and that which constitutes the essence of the body as the organ of the soul. He says:‡

In Jerem. Hom. xix.

+ Ch. W. Flügge, Geschichte d. Lehre v. Zustande des Menschen. nach d. Tode, 1799, 1800.

Selecta in Psalmos, P. xi. p. 388. Lomm.-Oỷ какwс Toтaμòç ὠνόμασται τὸ σῶμα, διότι ὡς πρὸς τὸ ἀκριβὲς τάχα οὐδὲ δύο ἡμερῶν τὸ

"Even in this life the body, in a material respect, is not always the same, but what constitutes its peculiar essence as an organ of the soul is an εἶδος χαρακτηρίζον, in which the peculiar character of the soul is presented, so that such a body should correspond to such a soul; therefore only this peculiar impress and essence of the organ need be restored, though in a higher form, suited to the higher standpoint to which the soul's existence has advanced. The doctrine stands in connexion with his opinion, that the λn is nothing definite, but may be presented in various forms, either higher or lower, according to the different rank of the rational nature. We have already remarked, that at a council in Arabia, he refuted the opinion that the soul dies with the body. Thus in these regions a revolution on this subject was effected by him, though his views of the resurrection soon called forth fresh opponents of a sensuous mode of thinking, such as METHODIUS.

πρῶτον ὑποκείμενον ταὐτόν ἐστιν ἐν τῷ σώματι ἡμῶν.—Οπερ ἐχαρακτηρίζετο ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ, τοῦτο χαρακτήρισθήσεται ἐν τῇ πνευματικῷ σώματι,






THIS period, taken in conjunction with the former, constitutes the foundation of the entire subsequent development of Christian Dogmas. Both together include the development in the Roman and Grecian nationalities. But the first was apologetic, and served chiefly to exhibit the peculiar character of Christianity in its general outlines and in special doctrines, as it stood opposed to the religions of Antiquity. In the conflict against Judaism and Paganism, and the heresies in which Jewish and Pagan elements were mingled, the leading doctrines became more sharply defined; at the same time various modifications of them sprang up. Divergent tendencies were formed, which though they were unanimous in opposing what was antichristian, gave a peculiar prominence to one or the other specific phase of doctrine. From these different tendencies-though all assuming the same foundation of the general Christian consciousness the further development of the Christian doctrines necessarily proceeded. As from the fourth century the Church was relieved from its conflict with the heathen power of the state, obtained political ascendancy, and was left to itself, these doctrinal differences, which were no longer connected with the general question of Christianity, came into collision with one another. From the conflict of these contrarieties it was needful that a higher unity should be formed; there was consequently a striving after reconciling them, and after the construction of a dogmatic foundation. It was, therefore, the characteristic of the age to be dogmatically



« PoprzedniaDalej »