Obrazy na stronie


an endless Becoming. In reference to God we cannot speak of any priority; he preceded Creation not by virtue of a changeable temporal duration, but by virtue of his unchangeable eternity, and because without Creation no time whatever can be imagined. In discussing the idea of an endless Becoming, he says,* we do not answer those who ask what God did before he created the World, as some one did, with the witty sarcasm, "He prepared Hell for over-curious speculators." He then shows the difficulties on both sides, and maintains that God by the elevation of his Eternity as an ever-enduring Present, preceded all time, and that at all events an endless Becoming was not equivalent to an unchangeable Eternity. Augustin's conception of the relation between the creative and upholding agency of God were determined by his idea of Creation. Creation was not to be thought of as a temporal act, beginning and ending, but as ever continuous; hence God's upholding agency came to be regarded as a continued Creation. His religious consciousness led him to the same view, by giving him the idea of the perpetual, absolute dependence of the Creature on God in opposition to the deistical notion of the relation of God to the world. He has expressed many deep reflections on this subject. God governs his whole creation by his own hidden might. "The Father worketh hitherto;" these words of Christ (John v. 17) he understands of God's upholding as a continued Creation.† It is God who works by the rain, and the labours of the husbandman. God cannot leave his work, like a builder, after its completion; the world would not last a moment without his guidance; if the secret agency of God‡ were withdrawn from Nature, to which it has given existence and preservation, Nature would at once sink into nothing. From this point of view, he combats § the mechanical conception of the relation of God to the World, whatever proceeds from the hidden and unseen laws of Nature is to be traced back to the agency of God, which operates henceforth and for ever. Therein is the Law expressed; and what is effected by the course of Nature, is only a work of God's creative power; he appoints their laws and powers constantly afresh, and works through them. If the upholding and creative agency of God * Cap. xii. † De Genesi ad Litter. 4, 22, 5, 40. Ibid. 9, 27. § Ibid. 5, 20, 10.


were thus conceived of, and the immediate agency of God in the whole Creation admitted, the idea of miracle would be specifically determined. Augustin was very far from regarding a miracle exceptionally as an immediate operation of God. How he viewed it in relation to the course of Nature, and the creative immediate agency of God, appears from the following expressions:*-Besides those operations which take place in the natural course of things, the Creator has reserved to himself the power, out of all these powers, to make something different than what was founded in the original laws of Nature, but nothing which is contradictory to them. For God's power is not arbitrary; but as He is Allmighty, so also he is Allwise; he allows in the course of time that to proceed from every natural being, of which he had previously implanted the tendencies in nature. He has also granted to creatures, the possibility of such miraculous operations arising from them which, though not contradicting them, could not be derived from their natural powers. Nature has been so constituted, that it must be subject to an Allmighty will. Augustin, therefore, regarded miracles as operations which could not proceed from natural powers; but these powers are so constituted as to be capable and ready to receive higher powers into them as God has determined in his scheme of the World. Therefore, miracles, as well as natural operations are referable to an immediate agency of God in the Creation. Hence, Augustin says, God the Creator of Nature, does nothing against Nature, for that which God does is what is agreeable

Ibid. 9, 32.-Super hanc autem notum cursumque rerum naturalem potestas creatoris habet apud se posse de his omnibus facere aliud, quam eorum quasi seminales rationes habent, non tamen id quod non in iis posuit, ut de his fieri vel ab ipso possit.-Neque enim potentia temeraria, sapientiæ virtute omnipotens est et hoc de unaquaque re in tempore suo facit, quod ante in ea fecit, ut possit.

+ Contra Faustum, 26, 3.-Deus Creator et conditor omnium naturarum nihil contra naturam facit; id enim erit cuique rei naturale, quod ille fecerit, a quo est omnis modus numerus, ordo naturæ.-Sed contra naturam non incongrue dicimus aliquid Deum facere, quod facit contra id quod novimus in natura. Hanc etiam enim appellamus naturam, cognitum nobis cursum solitumque naturæ, contra quem Deus cum aliquid facit mirabilia nominantur. Contra illam vero summam naturæ legem a notitia remotam sive impiorum sive adhuc infirmorum tam Deus nullo modo facit, quam contra seipsum non facit.

[blocks in formation]

to the nature of every being. If we say of anything that ir is against nature, this only signifies the common course of nature, that which is known to us; but if we speak of the highest law in Nature, God does nothing against that, since he cannot contradict himself. Augustin, therefore, distinguishes here between the common course of Nature, and Nature in an ideal sense, the divine scheme of the World. In the same way he determines the aim and design of miracles ;* in all Nature there is a wonderful because immediate agency of God. But as these wonders, by their commonness, have lost their importance in the eyes of men, so that no one, for instance, regards as wonderful the process of germination in a grain of wheat, God has reserved some things which he performs on a suitable occasion, and which take place out of the common course of Nature, in order to arouse the attention of men. Not as if these were greater wonders, they are only more uncommon, which must awaken men to pay Him homage. Much depends on the moral bearing of miracles. † We cannot call every uncommon event a miraculum; something more enters into the idea of a miracle in a religious sense. For along with it, there is a Revelation of the divine love and grace, by which the attention must be led from the sensuous appearance to the Divine which is revealed to the spirit. This view of miracles was of great importance for the Christian development of succeeding ages. The traces of it are discernible in the tradition that reached even to the times of a more sensuous tendency. Gregory the Great belongs to those who transmitted it to a later age. The genuine Christian view of miracles shines through the sensuous element, in connexion with the whole course of the development of the kingdom of God. Miracles take place, he says, in order to lead the souls of men to what was internal; what is wonderful in the Visible must serve as a medium to promote faith in the wonderful Invisible. Paul, in an island full of unbelievers, healed the sick by his prayers, but Timothy required no outward miracle, because he was already spiritually alive and sound. § The Church daily

* Tractat. 24, in Evang. Joann.

+ De Util. Credendi, 34, cap. 16.

Neander's Ch. Hist. v. 202. In Job. lib. 27, cap. 37, § 36, t. i. p. 869, ed. Bened.

In Ev. lib. ii. Homil. 29, 3, 4.

accomplishes spiritually what it once performed bodily through the Apostles, for how could believers who publish holy mysteries, and celebrate the praises of God, do otherwise than speak with new tongues? Those who daily come to the aid of the brethren whom they see weak in good works, what do they do but lay their hands on the sick? These miracles are the greater, because they are of a spiritual kind, and because not bodies, but souls are resuscitated by them. Such miracles ye may perform when ye will, by the power of God.


THE doctrine of a human soul in Christ as established by TERTULLIAN and ORIGEN, met with varied opposition at the end of the preceding period, which was prolonged to this. It may be generally asserted of the standpoint of ARIUS, that it placed itself in opposition to the progressive development of Christian truth, and confined it to an earlier and crude form. This is verified in his doctrine of the Person of Christ. He made the Incarnation to consist only in the assumption of a human body. The Logos differing, as he conceived, merely in degree from other spirits, could submit to all the limitations which were implied in the fact, that he was considered as being the sole animating principle. It was formerly supposed that Eunomius differed in this respect from Arius. In his confession of faith we find it stated, the Logos had assumed Man, consisted of body and soul; this, however, not only surprises. us, on account of the other peculiarities of his doctrine, but it is evident from comparing it with a passage quoted by Gregory of Nyssa, that an oux must have been dropped by the transcriber, so that the true reading is, The Word appeared in the flesh, but not a man consisting of body and soul. This is confirmed by a fragment lately published by A. Mai, in which it is said that the Logos did not assume animam et corpus, because in John's Gospel only the rág is mentioned. From this standpoint the Arians charged their opponents who separated the predicates of the divine and human nature, with denying the true Unity of Christ, and admitting both a divine

*Contr. Eun. Or. 2, tom. ii. frag. 482.-ròv iπ' έoxátwv τwv nμeρõv γενομενον ανθρωπον, οὐκ ἀναλαβόντα τον ἐκ ψυχῆς καὶ σώματος ἄνθρωπον.



and a human person." * Indeed the Arians, when accused of idolatry, because they worshipped a creature in Christ, might also have retorted this charge on the Orthodox, as far as they separated the Man Christ from the Son of God. On the other side, Athanasius vindicated the doctrine of the Church.t Marcellus and Photinus occasioned new Controversies in reference to this dogma. According to Marcellus, the appearance of the Logos in Humanity (oixovouía) was an effect of the ἐνέργεια δραστική, beaming forth from the divine Unity. The indwelling of the Logos also, according to his notion, took place not in a perfect human nature, but only in a body; hence he must, like Sabellius, have regarded the whole human consciousness of Christ, his entire spiritual personality as a beaming forth of the ἐνέργεια δραστικὴ, which first became hypostatic in Christ. And this beaming forth was to return to the divine Unity. To this he referred 1 Cor. xv. that God after the kingdom of Christ had obtained its end, would be all in all. The manifestation of the Power (évégysia) as a Person could only serve for redemption, that is, for communicating the divine and unchangeable life of which Christ was a partaker. But here he was met by a difficulty-if, on the return of the Power to the Father, the personality of Christ would be nullified, what would become of Christ's glorified σágę? He did not conceal this from himself; but it was characteristic of him, that he set bounds to his speculations, and easily reposed in the declarations of Holy Writ, though he explained them according to his dogmatic prepossessions. Here, too, he allowed the discrepancy, which he knew not how to escape, to remain unsolved, and confessed, that in Holy Writ nothing determinate could be found respecting it, and it must be left undecided. The doctrine of his pupil Photinus appears, from several accounts, to have been like the Samosatensian, as far as he attributes the existence of the Son of God to the descent of the Spirit on the Virgin Mary. On the other hand, the terms in which his doctrine was denounced by the council of Sirmium, point rather to Sabellianism; § namely, that he taught

Gregor. Nyssen. contr. Eunom. Orat. 4. Opp. ii. p. 578, A.
Ep. ad Adelphium. Opp. tom. i. p. 729.

Euseb. contr. Marcell ii. 2, 4.

§ Neander's Ch. Hist. iv. 95.—Εἴ τις πλατυνομένην τὴν οὐσίαν τοῦ θεοῦ τὸν υἱὸν λέγοι ποιεῖν ἢ τὸν πλατυσμὸν τῆς οὐσίας αὐτοῦ ὀνομάζει.

« PoprzedniaDalej »