Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

· Church of Rome for advice, in relation to the difficulties with which

they were surrounded. At the time when this communication was received, the Roman Christians were themselves involved in a fiery trial of persecution; but as soon as this had subsided, Clement, in the name of the Church, of which God had made him overseer, sent them the letter now under review. The nature of the schisms in which it originated may readily be gathered from its contents; and they bear so close an analogy to those which St. Paul was called upon to reconcile, that we are not surprised to find an occasional reference to his Canonical Epistles, and a great similarity in many of the precepts which each writer respectively enjoined.

It appears, then, that certain unauthorized persons had thrust themselves into the office of the ministry, and, by an ostentatious display of pretended zeal, had seduced many from their ecclesiastical allegiance, and kindled strifes and animosities among the brethren. They seem also to have set on foot some false notions respecting the resurrection ; or rather, perhaps, to have denied the doctrine altogether. Clement commences his epistle by reminding them, in terms of commendation, of their unanimity and christian charity before the present divisions appeared among them, (Sect. 1, 2,) and, tracing the origin of their schisms to a spirit of jealousy and envy, (3) produces a variety of examples, from the Old Testament, and from the early history of the Church, of the pernicious effects of such a spirit. (4, 5,.6.) He then exhorts them to desist immediately from their religious contentions; he entreats them to turn to God with all contrition and humility of heart; he sets before them the fruits of obedience, and the efficacy of repentance, in the examples of devout and holy men of all ages; he points to the deep humiliation of Christ himself, and intimates that even the order and harmony of the natural world should read them a lesson of obedience, and prevail with them to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (7—21.) He warns them, moreover, that their humility and obedience must proceed from a principle of faith in Christ, (22, 23,) and then adverts to the blessed hope of a resurrection of the dead, of which Christ had become the first-fruits, and the possibility of which he illustrates by analogous phenomena in the natural world ; such as the succession of day and night, the growth of seeds, and the reproduction of the Phonix. (24-26.) Having this hope, therefore, he entreats them to hold fast to him who is faithful in his promises, and not to forfeit the blessing of eternal life by contention and disobedience. (27—37.) He again exhorts them to unity, and mutual forbearance, and to a due performance of their services to God at their appointed seasons, and through the ministration of those persons who had been set apart for that purpose. (38—-41.) Certain orders of ministers, he observes, were instituted by the Apostles, at Christ's command, and after the example of Moses, for the service and regulation of the Church ; and he reprobates, with just indignation, the presumptuous wickedness of those who had endeavoured to displace the authorized pastors of the flocks, by kindling strifes, and raising seditions among them. (42—44.) In drawing his epistle to a close, he reminds them of the admonitions which St. Paul had formerly addressed to them; recom

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

mends the duty of Prayer, in order to the re-establishment of mutual charity and goodwill ; sets before them the examples of Moses, and others of eminent piety, to lead them to repentance and humiliation; commits them to the mercy of God; and hopes that a beneficial effect may be produced by means of his epistle. (45—-60.).

The style of the epistle is simple and easy. It is written in a tone of mild, yet persuasive exhortation; occasionally breaking forth into a strain of holy eloquence, and devout admiration of the goodness of God. We quote at length a beautiful eulogy on Charity, which bears, in some respects, a close resemblance to that of St. Paul in 1 Cor. xiii. ' "Ο έχων αγάπην εν Χριστώ, τηρησάτω τα του Χριστού παραγγέλματα. Τον δεσμών της αγάπης του θεού, τίς δύναται εξηγήσασθαι και το μεγαλείον της καλλονής αυτού, τίς αρκεί, ως έδει, είπείν και το ύψος εις και ανάγει η αγάπη, ανεκδιήγητόν έστιν. 'Αγάπη κολλά ημάς τω θεώ, αγάπη καλύπτει πλήθος αμαρτιών: η αγάπη πάντα ανέχεται, πάντα μακροθυμεί ουδέν βάναυσον εν αγάπη, ουδέν υπερήφανον αγάπη σχίσμα ουκ έχει, αγάπη ου στασιάζει, αγάπη πάντα ποιεί έν ομονοία εν αγάπη ετελειώθησαν πάντες οι εκλεκτοί του θεού· δίχα αγάπης ουδέν ευάρεστόν έστιν τω θεώ εν αγάπη προσελάβετο ημάς ο δεσπότης" διά την αγάπην ήν έσχεν προς ημάς, το αίμα αυτού έδωκεν υπέρ ημών ο Χριστός ο κύριος ημών, εν θελήματι θεού, και την σάρκα υπέρ της σαρκός ημών, και την ψυχήν υπέρ των ψυχών ημών. Οράτε αγαπητοί, πώς μέγα και θαυμαστόν έστιν η αγάπη, και της τελειότητος αυτής ουκ έστιν εξήγησις. Τις ικανός εν αυτή ευρεθήναι, ει μη ούς αν καταξιώση ο θεός ; ευχώμεθα ούν και αιτώμεθα είναι αξίους αυτού, ίνα εν αγάπη ζώμεν, δίχα προσκλίσεως ανθρωπίνης, άμωμοι. Αι γενεαί πάσαι από 'Αδάμ έως τήσδε ημέρας παρήλθον, αλλ' οι εν αγάπη τελειωθέντες, κατά την του Χριστού χάριν, έχoυσιν χώραν ευσεβών" οι φανερωθήσονται εν τη επισκοπή της βασιλείας του Χριστού. Γέγραπται γάρ Εισελθε εις τα ταμεία μικρόν όσον όδον, έως παρέλθη η οργή και θυμός μου. Και μνησθήσομαι ημέρας αγαθής, και αναστήσω υμάς εκ των σηκών υμών. Μακάριοί εσμεν, αγαπητοί, ει προστάγματα του θεού έποιούμεν έν ομονοία αγάπης, εις το αφεθήναι ημίν, δι' αγάπης, τας αμαρτίας ημών. Γέγραπται γάρ Μακάριοι ών αφέθησαν αι ανομίαι, και ών επεκαλύφθησαν αι αμαρτίαι. Μακάριος ανήρ ω ου μη λογίσηται κύριος αμαρτίαν, ουδέ έστιν εν τω στόματι αυτού δόλος. Ούτος ο μακαρισμός εγένετο επί τους εκλελεγμένους υπό του θεού, διά Ιησού Χριστού του κυρίου ημών, και η δόξα εις τους αιώνας των αιώνων. Αμήν. (Sect. 49, 50.)

We have already had occasion to notice the observation of Photius, that Clement does not speak with becoming reverence of the person of Christ. Whitby, also, in his reply to Waterland, maintains that he “ never calls him God.” In direct opposition to these charges it will be found that the epistle to the Corinthians contains many express testimonies to the divinity of our Lord. In chap. xvi. he speaks of his humiliation, which consisted in laying aside his divine nature, in terms

γOI. XI. No. VI,

[ocr errors]

which strongly remind us of the words of St. Paul, in Phil. j. 7; in chap. xxxii. the expression that “Christ came of Abraham according to the flesh,implies, that he had another nature beside that according to the flesh, (comp. Rom. i. 3. ix. 5);-and in chap. xxxvi. his pre-existence is distinctly asserted, and that it was one of celestial splendour, superior to that of the angels. See Heb. i. 3. To set the matter, however, beyond all doubt, the name of God is unequivocally applied to him in chap. ii. in connexion with his sufferings. Dávtes τε εταπεινοφρονείτε, μηδεν αλαζονευόμενοι, υποτασσομένου μάλλον ή υποτάσσοντες, μάλλον διδόντες ή λαμβανόντες" τοις εφοδίοις του θεού αρκούμενοι, και προσέχοντες τους λόγους αυτού επιμελώς εστερνισμένοι ήτε τοις σπλάγχνοις, και τα παθήματα αυτού ήν προ οφθαλμών υμών.

Among all the remains of Christian Antiquity, we have not perhaps a more satisfactory refutation of the Romanist claims to ecclesiastical supremacy than the silence of Clement on the subject. His epistle exhibits no assumed superiority over the Church at Corinth. He does not even write in his own name, but addresses them as the representative of the Church of Rome, and writes in a tone of persuasion, earnest indeed, but totally devoid of authority. If the See of Rome, then, had laid claim to any such pretensions, in the early ages of the Gospel, as those which she asserts at the present day, upon what principle can the silence of Clement respecting them be accounted for? Surely he had the same right to exercise authority over the Church of Corinth, as his successors in the Papal chair have possessed in similar cases. Why, then, do we not meet with pe. nances and excommunications, instead of meek entreaties and brotherly advice?

The epistle of Clément is also applicable to the case of those who reject the ministry of their lawfully appointed teachers, and affords decisive testimony against self-appointment to any ministerial function. “ Christ,” says he, “ was sent from God, and the Apostles by Christ. Both were sent (evtákTWS) by proper appointments; and the Apostles, preaching through countries and cities, appointed the first-fruits of their conversions to be Bishops and Deacons (ĚTLOKOTOÙÇ Kai čiakóvous) over believers, having first proved them by the Spirit.” (§. 42.) A few sentences onward he speaks of Presbyters, so that in his time there were evidently three orders of the ministry, corresponding with the Bishops, Priests, and Deacons of our own communion. On this subject, however, we shall have to speak more at large when we come to the Fathers of the third century.

From the striking similarity between many sentiments contained in Clement's epistle and that of St. Paul to the Hebrews, an opinion prevailed in very early times, that the latter was written originally in Hebrew, and translated by Clement into Greek. Clement of Alexandria, Jerome, and Eusebius, are among the supporters of this hypothesis ; but all the other ancient Fathers, who have mentioned the subject, speak of the Greek as the original work; and as no copy of the Hebrew was ever known to exist, there can be no question that this is the correct opinion. Besides the Epistle to the Corinthians, however, which is undoubtedly genuine, some other writings have been attributed to this Father, which are still extant. In the first

place, we have a fragment of a second epistle, or, as some suppose, of a discourse or sermon, which has sometimes been looked upon as genuine. It is, however, expressly rejected by Photius as spurious. Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth in the second century, mentions but one epistle of Clement ; Clement of Alexandria and Origen, who have quoted the first, take no notice of the second ; nor does Irenæus appear to have had any knowledge of it. Hence Lardner, after Grabe, refers it, with great probability, to the middle of the third century. • The Apostolic Canons, Constitutions, and . Recognitions; the Clementine Homilies; the Acts of Peter ; and the Epistle to James, the Lord's brother,-all of which have been reckoned among the reputed works of Clement,- have been long justly discarded as spurious. In addition to these, Two Epistles to Virgins, supposed to have been written in Syriac, were published by Wetstein, in 1752, with a Latin translation. But their genuineness was ably refuted by Lardner, and the controversy which ensued completely proved them to be spurious.

The editio princeps of Clement of Rome was printed at Oxford in 1633; the second edition appeared in 1677; and in 1718, an octavo edition, at Cambridge, under the superintendence of Dr. Wotton. The Patres Apostolici of Cotelerius embraces all the works attributed to Clement, both genuine and spurious; and there is a good critical edition of the Epistles, which was published by Eberth, at Fudda, in 1780. Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp, were published together in a single volume by Ittigius, at Leipsic, in 1699; and, by Frey, at Basle, in 1742.

The RUBRICK of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND, examined and considered;

and its use and OBSERVANCE most earnestly recommended to all its Members, according to the intent and meaning of it. By THOMAS Collis, D.D. of Magd. Coll. Oxon. London, 1737.

(Concluded from p. 307.)

The Order for the Visitation of the Sick. If the Ministers visit the sick without notice given, they may chance to do it at an improper time. Whenever they have word brought them, that the sick person can best and most conveniently join in prayer, then the Minister coming into the sick man's house, shall say :Here shall the sick man be moved to make a special confession of his

sins, if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter. So that special confession is not required, as necessary; but they are to be moved to it, when they feel their consciences troubled with any weighty matter. After which confession the Priest shall absolve him (if he humbly and heartily desire it) after this sort :

The Communion of the Sick. The Curate shall have timely notice, when the sick person is desirous to

receive the Communion at home, signifying also how many there are

to communicate with him, (which shall be three, or two at least,) and having, f.c.

But if any man, either by reason of extremity of sickness, or for want of warning in due time to the Curate, or for lack of company to receive with him, or by any other just impediment, do not receive the sacrament of Christ's body and blood, the Curate shall instruct him, “ That if he do truly repent him of his sins, and steadfastly believe that Jesus Christ hath suffered death upon the cross for him, and shed his blood for his redemption, earnestly remembering the benefits he hath thereby, and giving him hearty thanks therefore, he doth eat and drink the body and blood of our Saviour Christ profitably, to his soul's health, although he do not receive the Sacrament with his mouth."

In the time of the plague, sweat, or such like contagious times of sickness or diseases, when none of the parish or neighbours can be gotten to communicate with the sick in their houses, for fear of the infection, upon special request of the diseased, the Minister only may communicate with him.

If we look into David Lloyd's memoirs of the lives, actions, sufferings, and death of those noble, reverend, excellent personages that suffered, &c. we shall find in his life of Dr. Richard Holdsworth, that the plague in 1625, when he first came to Broad-street, could not drive him from his dear flock, though another murrain (heresies and schisms) in 1640, among the flock itself, did.

In his life of Dr. Henry Hammond, amongst the many instances of that great man's condescension, he gives this. “One in the voisinage (neighbourhood), mortally sick of the small-pox, then fatal to most of the Doctor's complexion, desired the Doctor to come to him; he makes no more ado, when satisfied that the party was so sensible as to be capable of his instructions, assuring those that were fearful of him, that he should be as much in God's hands in the sick man's chamber as in his own.”—P. 396.

In that of Dr. Thomas Morton, Bishop of Duresm, he has this paragraph, page 437:-“ Anno 1602, began the great plague at York, at which time he carried himself with much perdical.charity; for the poor being removed to the pest-house, he made it his frequent use to visit them with food both for their bodies and souls ; his chief errand was to comfort them, pray for them and with them; and, to make his coming more acceptable, he carried with him a sack of provisions usually, for them that wanted it; and because he would not have any body to run any hazard thereby but himself, he seldom suffered any of his servants to come near him, but saddled and unsaddled his own horse, and had a private door made on purpose into his house and chamber.”

When a present Right Rev. Father of our Church was chaplain to the factory at Lisbon, he had notice given him that a merchant's lady, who was ill of the small-pox, had a mighty desire to receive the Holy Communion. As he himself never had had them, he hoped he should be excused from waiting upon her ; but he soon had word brought him back again, that as he had never had them, she must even apply

« AnteriorContinuar »