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to heaven ; that aided by two demons he rose aloft in a fiery ehariot, sustained awhile by his magical arts, but that Peter and Paul, who had previously denounced him as a magician, betook themselves to prayer; on which the demons deserted their master, who, in consequence, fell down to the earth and broke both his legs: the impostor was not killed, but shortly afterwards he destroyed himself, overcome with vexation, shame, and grief. To mention *a fable so fraught with absurdities would be inexcusable, were it not to bring before our readers a striking example of the appetite for fiction observable in the Fathers : Arnobius, Cyril of Jeru-, salem, the legates of pope Liberius, Ambrose, Augustin, Isidore of Pelusium, Theodoret, and various other writers of the Church respectfully mention this story, which, fortified by such high authority, is of course devoutly accepted in the Roman Catholic communion.
That Peter was reproved at Antioch for his dissimulation relating to the Jewish observances, is a fact which is recorded in Scripture testimony (Gal. ii. 11-14), and has not a little perplexed the Roman Catholic writers; for who upon earth may reprove a pope ? Jerome, to surmount the difficulty, proposed a translation of the passage in the Epistle to the Galatians, truly characteristic of a zealous churchman: he suggested that Paul's words, “ I withstood him to the face," should be rendered “I withstood him in appearance," kata TPOOWTO—as if there had been an amicable agreement between Paul and “the Prince of the Apostles” to get up this scene for the edification of the faithful! Augustine has, in a well-written Epistle, sharply reproved Jerome for this act of literary and ecclesiastical dishonesty. Others have suggested that this “Cephas mentioned in Galatians, might not be Peter the Apostle : but this attempt at evasion is absolutely contradicted by the Scripture narrative, to which Tillemont acknowledges that “they have not paid sufficient attention."
Peter, " the first pope," was a married man: and lest the papists should assert that he put away his wife when he became an Apostle, and“ Bishop of Rome,” Clemens Alexandrinus a, D. 200, quoted by Eusebius, speaks of Peter seeing his wife led out to martyrdom, and encouraging her to bear her trial, to whom he cried out, "O thou, remember the Lord !” -μεμνησο, ω αυτη, του Κυριου (iii. ΧΧ.)- these were the last words of the first pope to his wife. As if to establish the marriage of Peter beyond all remedy, Tertullian, who extolled “the virgin state” with all his abilities, asserted that of all the Apostles, Peter was the only married
“ Petrum solum invenio maritum-cæteros cum maritos non invenio, aut spadones intelligam necesse est aut continentes.” Tertullian is, however, abundantly contradicted by Scripture (1 Cor. ix. 5), and bytradition also, when he asserts that Peter was the only married Apostle.
Peter is said to have been crucified with his head downwards, a position of suffering which he himself desired, lest he should seem to equal his divine 'master in his death. His martyrdom was by command of the emperor Nero, A. D. 67.
Amongst “ the holy relicks of the Apostolical Church,” they pretended to possess at Rome St. Peter's chair, in which the pope is enthroned in
The whole story of Simon Magus as figuring at Rome, or as ever having been there, we consider as apocryphal. It seems to have originated in the assertion of Justin Martyr, A. D. 150, who probably mistook an inscription at Rome SEMONI MAGNO, one of the inferior deities of Latium, for sIMONI MAGO. On this mistake the Fathers and traditionists have apparently built up the history, with all its variations and embellishments. Beausobre well observes that Simon Magus is, with the Fathers, the grand hero of heretical romance.
his coronation. This chair is covered with a splendid marble case, so as not to be visible; but in the year 1662, when it was to be exposed to public adoration, they uncovered it, and found engraved on it the twelve labours of Hercules ! so that the Man of Sin, is enthroned, as is befitting, on a heathen seat. An antiquarian of Rome, Giacomo Bartolini, who was present at this discovery, and relates it, nothing daunted with the startling fact, makes this remark, “our worship however was not misplaced, since it was not to the wood we paid it, but to the Prince of the Apostles, St. Peter." The festival of St. Peter's chair is annually observed at Rome on the 18th of January.
The history of Paul is to be gathered from Scripture. Paley's Horæ Paulina
be consulted for an admirable collation of all the passages of Scripture that bear on the subject; and indeed in other respects it is a book of high value. It would seem that Paul was expecting his death when he wrote his second letter to Timothy, “I am now ready to be offered
up; and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Tim. iv. 6). We do not doubt that shortly afterwards he was put to death amongst the slaughter of Christians which took place by Nero's commands, when he wished to avert from himself the suspicion of having set fire to Rome, by fixing the crime on the Christians. This is a fact recorded by the Roman historians (Tacitus Ann. xv. 14; Suetonius in Vita Neronis 16). We profess to pay but little attention to the story of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul as recorded by the Fathers. It is more probable that they were burnt to death with the other Christians in the gardens of the emperor.
It is a question whether Paul was twice imprisoned at Rome, whether he did not make long journeys between the two imprisonments, and
hether he ever accomplished his projected journey to Spain (Rom. xv. 24). Many of the Fathers assert that he preached the Gospel in Spain, but
pope Innocent I. has decided the question in the negative; and it is therefore so held by the Roman Church.
Many are the superstitious stories recorded concerning Paul's imprisonment and martyrdom. The chains in which they pretended he was confined in prison were preserved at Rome with high veneration ; and Chrysostom has condescended to declare that if he had been less occupied with the affairs of the Church, he would have travelled from Antioch to Rome to see the irons with which the Apostle had been loaded for the cause of Christ. Tillemont gravely informs us that they worked many miracles in the time of Gregory the Great, and that the precious links were eagerly sought for by the faithful from distant countries. We need not doubt that the supply of the miraculous links would be fully equal to the demand.
It would be quite unnecessary to notice* " the Apostles' Creed,” if many persons, misled by the Church Prayer-book of this couutry, did not, in
* Mr. Bickersteth discovers the spirit of infidelity in the rejection of the creed. “The indifference of the dissenters," says this writer, to creeds and forms of worship in our social relations, is, in fact, shutting out God from those relations, and subversive of the claims of Christian truth, which is designed to sanctify and purify every relation of life.”— The Dangers of the Church of Christ, p. 7.
This ardent ecclesiastic should study Mr. Riland's investigation of the creeds, ecclesiæ decus et tutamen. In the mean time, if Mr. Bickersteth will give us a clear account of the descent into Hell, in the Apostles' creed, he will be rendering a high service to his clerical brethren, and will be removing one obstacle at least, now in the way to our admitting this jejune symbol into “our social relations."
their simplicity believe that which the Prayer-book asserts. The symbol of faith, called “the Apostles' Creed,” was not composed by the Apostles : it was invented, and put together, long after the Apostolical age. Rufinus, in the fifth century, is the first writer who asserted that the Apostles composed the creed; and even he, professedly founds his assertion on popular tradition. In the third century, there were many other creeds in use in the churches, resembling that called the Apostles', but differing in many articles. This symbol was not admitted into the Roman Church, complete till the eight century, and we may sum up its history in the words of the learned Witsius :-" This creed was not the work of one man, or of one council; but in a course of ages several additions were made to it by different persons, on different occasions."
EASTER. In the English translation of the Bible, we find “Easter" in the Acts of the Apostles, “ intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people" (Acts xii. 4): this is a deception, and it is to be feared by no means accidental; for why should the translators have rendered Taoxa in this passage “Easter," when they had previously rendered it by “the passover”? The object seems to have been to impress an idea that the early Christians kept " the festivals of the Church.” But Easter was not a festival kept by the churches; the first Christians knew nothing of Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Christmas, &c. All these festivals were subsequent inventions.
Easter, of old written Eoster, was a goddess of the Teutonic nations, worshipped about the beginning of April: she represented the moon fecundating the earth, in union with the celestial bull of the vernal season; and, as Easter generally falls at this time of the year, the Saxons named April, Eoster-monath, or Easter-month.
The rule for finding Easter, is to fix on the first Sunday after the full moon, after the vernal Equinox.
With similar disingenuity, our translators have placed another word in the Acts of the Apostles, wholly unwarranted by the original“ robbers of Churches” (Acts xix. 37). There were no churches in the age of the apostles, robbers of temples, i.e. of the Heathen temples, is the correct translation.
The apostolical constitutions, and the canons of the Apostles, are records of the supposed customs of the apostolic times drawn up in the form of precepts or laws. The apostolical constitutions are in eight books in the Greek language; and the author of them speaks in the person of Clemens Romanus, the associate of the Apostles. Gross, indeed, must have been the ignorance, and complete the credulity, of the age in which this forgery was published, to have allowed the author to put it forth with any chance of success. The success, however, was complete; and the apostolical constitutions were for ages supposed to be the work of the Apostles, and even Whiston contended that they were a genuine work. In the edition of the councils by Mansi (Florent. 1759), the date of the forgery is fixed between A. D. 309, and 325; and this seems to be correct. The canons are eighty-five in number, of which the first fifty are accepted by Baronius and Bellarmine, and, consequently, by the Papal Church.
Of the apostolical constitutions, the following are a few specimens : they decree that a bishop ought to be “not less than fifty years old” (this, they say, they heard from the Lord); that he ought, moreover, to be learned and eloquent. They address the bishop, and tell him that he represents God amongst men-τυπον θεου εχων εν ανθρωπους– that he rules all men, all priests, governors, fathers, sons, and scholars; for all these are subject to the bishop (ii. 11); that a layman-, Aaikos-ought to love and fear the bishop, as his lord, as his master, as the high priest of God; for he that heareth him, heareth Christ; and he that despiseth him, despiseth Christ (ii. 22); that a layman ought to consider a deacon as Aaron, and a bishop as Moses; and as Moses was called God by the Lord, so the bishop ought to be honoured as God, and a deacon as his prophet (ii. 30); that a third marriage is an intemperance, and a fourth a debauch (iii. 2): in the eighth book, Paul is made to give many directions for admitting, rejecting, and excommunicating, church members; and in one of these, he allows female slaves, living in a state of guilt with their masters, to be admitted into the Church-παλλακη τινος απιστου δουλη EKELVO oxolašovoa a poodexeoow (viii. 33). James the Apostle, the brother of John, commands that at the altar the Bishop should stand in the middle, and the Priests at his right hand and left, but the Deacons at the two ends of the altar, with flappers made of peacocks' feathers, to drive off the flies; the bishop is to be dressed in a splendid robe, and make the sign of the cross on his forehead, &c. (viii. 14). Peter, in his own person, tells the story of Simon Magus as we have already given it.
The canons of the Apostles are equally absurd, the forty-fifth we give as one specimen :-" If any Bishop, or Priest, or Deacon, will not partake of flesh and wine on the festivals, let him be deposed, as one that has his conscience seared with a hot iron, and is the cause of scandal to many."
OXFORD TRACTS.“ RESERVE."
ther on, says,
« There appears in
God's manifestation of himself to Of all the tracts that have come mankind, in conjunction with an exforth from the Oxford laboratory, not ceeding desire to communicate that one is so pernicious and crafty as knowledge, a tendency to conceal and No. 80, entitled, “ On Reserve in com- throw a veil over it, as if it were municating Religious Knowledge" injurious to us, unless we were of a (Ad Clerum). It is a thick pamphlet, certain disposition to receive it.” This of eighty-three pages, closely printed, is, in fact, the whole object of the is divided into three parts, and each tract-to shew that God « has a tenpart into several subdivisions.
dency to conceal" the Gospel, unless The first division, of the first part, we come to the inquiry " in a certain thus states the object of the tract disposition," which disposition, as we “ to ascertain whether there is not, in shall presently see, is over and over. God's dealings with mankind, a very again asserted to be “practical oberemarkable holding back of sacred and dience." important truths, as if the knowledge This, then, is the theory: if we of them were injurious to persons un
wish to understand the Divine truths worthy of them. And if this be the of the Gospel, we must prepare our. case, it will lead to some important selves for the reception, by a long practical reflection."
and sedulous course of 66 practical The author, then, a few lines fur- obedience.” We must make ourselves
very holy and 'very worthy," and then the secret. All the teaching by paraGod will reveal unto us the “ secrets" bles is another proof of reserve: the and “mysteries” of the atonement; manner of our Lord's miracles-their which never are revealed, on any occa- concealment, is part of the system; sion, but to “good men.” This, it “ for, as he is revealed to us as more will be seen, is the doctrine of the than willing to forgive, but, as it were, tract; the daring opposition of which unable so to do unless we repent, in to the grace of God is such as even like manner is he also as desirous to any of the respectable Roman Catho- manifest himself to us, but, as it were, lic Doctors would be ashamed to unable to do so, unless we are fitly
disposed for it” (p. 12). After having In a short analysis, this will be discoursed, at some length, on the found to be the system of the author. miracles, the author says,
“ all these The doctrine of a future and eternal things tend to confirm the supposition
a secret" not allowed to be that our Lord's manifesting himself divulged in the books of Moses was accompanied with very great and (p. 4), the rites of the Mosaic law singular danger" (p. 15.); and the were all secrets ; “good men” (which, reason why our Lord groaned in in this tract, uniformly means, not Spirit at the grave of Lazarus, was those who have received of the grace
the consciousness 66 of the fearful of God, and have been taught of the nature of that miracle he was about Spirit, but those who have, by prac- to perform to those who should wittical obedience, attained to goodness) ness it” (p. 18). The same secret would, in the prophecies and descrip- mode of teaching, is observable in tions of Messiah's kingdom, perceive some actions and incidents of our that God had something better for Saviour's ministry—“ such was the those that waited for him (p. 4). withering of the fig-tree, and the bear“ The whole of the Gospel history is ing of the cross after him; these remarkably in harmony with the view evidently contained hidden wisdom, of God's dealings in the Old Testa- not palpable, nor seen or acknowledged ment;” i. e. the Gospel is all a secret, at the time, if at all. They seem to veiled and muffled
in 66 mysterious be quite of the “ nature and character language," which "good men" can only of dark and difficult sayings--and in come to understand. Our Saviour's both the full meaning was secret to thirty years' concealment, before he those to whom it was spoken” (p. 21). openly began his ministry, his resur
other discoveries of rerection, &c. &c., were proofs of this serve, the author asks, “ May we not “ reserve"—then our Saviour's lan- reasonably expect to find the same guage was, throughout, on the prin- Spirit dealing with us in the same ciple of “concealment:" “ the living manner in the epistles ?” (p. 26) water,”
," " the bread from heaven," &c. which question is not answered by were part of the system. The taking any example, but by reference to the lowest place, in order that we may Origen, a great favourite with the gain honour in the presence of those Oxford Tractators, who tells us that who sit at meat, conveys a different
“ there is often a' confusion in the lesson from what is, at first sight, diction of Scripture, and the order of perceptible to a careless hearer"-but the sentiments is not clear and unin all these cases, the reason of the broken ; to prevent those who are reserve was, not that the persons to unworthy from discovering the things whom the doctrines were addressed which it is for their good should be were intellectually, but morally, defi- concealed to them." Origen finds cient (p. 6); i.e. they were not "good" this intentional confusion of diction in enough to be allowed to understand Paul's Epistle to the Romans.