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When distress, affliction, and temptation beset you, then, be assured that the trials of this present world are as nothing in comparison with the glory that shall be revealed hereafter, to such as fear God and keep his commandments. · And, that you may not want a proper example to animate you in your Christian walk, look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith ; " who for the joy that was set before him," conquered every earthly temptation, and “ endured the cross, despising the shame."* Imitate that sacred Personage in every action of his life that can be imitated by you : in his piety towards God; in his frequenting the appointed places of public worship; in his justice and kindness towards his fellow-creatures ; in the purity of his actions ; in the humility of his temper and conduct, and in his constant readiness to do the will of his heavenly Father. Finally, that you faint not under the troubles of life, remember that these are the words of Jesus Christ" As many as I love I rebuke and chasten : be zealous, therefore, and repent." “ To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." +
ON THE EARLY FATHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.,
In the annals of Patristical Theology, there is no instance, perhaps, of greater diversity of opinion, and of warmer polemical discussion, than in the settlement of the long-contested question respecting the genuineness of the writings of Ignatius. The controversy mainly originated with the opponents of Episcopacy, in the latter part of the sixteenth century, and eventually called forth the energies of the learned Pearson, who has accurately and minutely investigated the subject in his Vindiciæ Ignatianæ. So explicit is the testimony of this venerable Father to the authority and divine appointment of Bishops, that it was natural with those who denied such authority to endeavour, by impugning his writings, to get rid of this weight of evidence against them; and the amazing difference which prevailed in the several editions which successively appeared of the Epistles ascribed to him contributed no inconsiderable support to their cause. Hence it became necessary to inquire whether any of the Epistles ascribed to Ignatius,
and which of them, were really his productions; and to ascertain the extent of corruption and interpolation with which those, that were intrinsically genuine, had been apparently defaced.
It was not till late in the fifteenth century that any wri'ings of Ignatius were supposed to exist. In the year 1495 three Latin Epistles, bearing his name, were published in Paris; whereof one was addressed to the Virgin Mary, and the other two to St. John. Eleven others, also in Latin, appeared in 1498, and shortly afterwards an edition comprising the entire fourteen, with the addition of a fifteenth, addressed to Maria, a convert of Cassobela. Of the genuineness of these writings no doubt was entertained, till, after an interval of sixty years, the original Greek of the twelve Epistles last mentioned was edited by Valentine Pace, in 1557, from a MS. discovered in the Augustan Library, and reprinted by Morell in 1558. Various conflicting opinions respecting the relative value of the whole and particular portions of these long-lost letters were quickly set on foot; and while some maintained that all were forgeries, or ventured only to receive a part, others were equally earnest in their endeavours to establish the claims of the entire collection to the authorship of the martyred Bishop. Calvin denounced the whole fifteen, Greek as well as Latin, in one sweeping sentence of condemnation. Baronius rejected those of which the Latin only was extant, but retained the rest; and so also did Bellarmine, though he speaks with more confidence of those which are cited by the early writers. In this opinion Whiston afterwards persevered. Bilson and Casaubon admitted only seven of the twelve ; and these seven were also regarded by several eminent critics as greatly corrupted and interpolated. This last opinion is unquestionably correct. Out of the twelve epistles still extant in Greek, there is no mention whatever of five in any Greek writer of the first five centuries; and the difference of style in which they are writtén, and the disagreement of much of their matter with the doctrine and discipline of the primitive Church, plainly attest their spuriousness. The three Latin Epistles, which were first published, have still stronger evidence against them. In spirit they are directly opposed to the known character of Ignatius; they were altogether unknown to any Greek writer whatsoever; they bear the most decisive marks of having been originally written in Latin, and do not correspond internally with the age to which they are assigned. As far as the inscriptions of the seven remaining Epistles are concerned, they certainly coincide with those which Ignatius is historically known to have wriiten, and they contain passages which are cited from the writings of Ignatius by subsequent authors: but the variations which are sometimes found to exist between the original and cited passages, the absence of some passages so cited altogether, and the heretical notions occasionally introduced, afford the most unequivocal proof of the grossest corruption and interpolation.
In 1623 a conjectural edition was published at Geneva by Nicolas Vedelius, with marginal notes, in which it was attempted to separate the genuine matter from the spurious additions and alterations, with which it was defaced. As might have been expected, however, the proposed elisions and emendations were involved in the greatest un
certainty : much that really belonged to Ignatius was cancelled, and much that was supposititious retained. It now occurred to Archbishop Usher, from the circumstance that a passage, cited by Theodoret from Ignatius, which could not be found in either the Greek copies, or in the Latin versions, had been again cited, totidem verbis, by three English divines; that some MS. or MSS. more correct than those hitherto made public, might possibly be lodged in some library in England. Accordingly, a search being instituted, two Latin MSS. were discovered, both of which contained the passage in question; the one in the library of Caius College, Cambridge, and the other in the private library of the then Bishop of Norwich. By a diligent collation of these MSS. with the interpolated copies, the Archbishop produced, in 1644, an edition corrected almost to certainty; and about two years afterwards the discovery of a MS. by Isaac Vossius, in the Medicean Library at Florence, containing six of the Epistles mentioned by Eusebius in the original Greek, furnished a complete edition of what are now called the Shorter Epistles, with the exception of that to the Romans; which last was brought to a degree of almost unquestionable integrity by the help of the ancient Latin version. At length all doubt was removed respecting this also, by means of a Greek uninterpolated copy, which was published by Ruinart, at Paris, in 1689.
Such is the history of the different stages through which the Epistles ascribed to Ignatius passed, till they arrived at that degree of purity in which we now possess them. It remains, therefore, to inquire, upon what grounds we are justified in receiving them, in this corrected form, as the genuine productions of this Apostolical Father. That seven letters were written by him, in his way from Antioch to Rome, we have already stated in the account of his life; and the statement rests upon the express authority of Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. III. 36.) and Jerome (Script. Ill. §. 16.) It appears, also, from the Epistle written by Polycarp to the Philippians, which is still extant, that he transmitted to them a collection of all the Epistles of Ignatius which had come to his hands; among which he particularly mentions those addressed to himself, and the church of Smyrna, of which he was Bishop. Now we meet with quotations, from one or other of these seven Epistles, in Irenæus, Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, Jerome, and Theodoret; all which quotations occur, precisely in the same words,* in our present copies; nor has any citation from them been hitherto met with, which cannot be verified. Hence it is clear that the Epistles which we now possess are intrinsically the same as those which were known to the Fathers above enumerated; nor is any thing to be found in them which is inconsistent with the known character of their reputed writer, with the time in which he is said to have written them, or with the circumstance under which they are known to have been indited. Even Daillè allows that our copies, and
· * With one trifling exception. In Iren. v. 28, đpros XplotoŮ is substituted for deptos
E00. This, however, is evidently an error of the copyists, as appears from the old versions both of Irenæus and Ignatius. A similar various reading is found in the MSS. of Acts xx. 28.
those employed by Eusebius, are the same; though he would persuade" us that both the one and the other were fabricated by some impostor, about two hundred years after the death of Ignatius. Upon this supposition the seven Epistles, which Ignatius is universally acknowledged to have written, and which Polycarp collected together for the use of the church at Philippi, must have been lost and forgotten in the interval between the death of Polycarp and the time of Eusebius. Had the true Epistles of Ignatius been in existence, it is altogether incredible that an historian, so diligent and so accurate as Eusebius, should have been imposed upon by a forgery, which it must have been comparatively easy to detect; nor is it less improbable, that the letters of a Bishop so highly beloved and respected as the martyred Bishop of Antioch, collected as they had been for religious uses by his surviving friend, should have been so grossly neglected as to occasion their utter destruction within so short a period. At all events it must be allowed that Polycarp was in possession of the genuine Epistles of Ignatius. Two of them he mentions expressly ; four out of the other five were written in his presence at Smyrna ; and the fifth, addressed to the Philadelphians, was written at the same place, and at the same time, as that to Polycarp himself, and forwarded by his own deacon Burrhus to the place of its destination. There can be no doubt that these copies passed, unimpaired, into the hands of Irenæus, the disciple and friend of Polycarp; and Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. V. 8,) relates, that there were many quotations from them in those works of this Father, which are now lost. If, therefore, these quotations had not appeared in the Epistles of Ignatius, according to the transcript in the possession of Eusebius, their absence, or any variation in matter or manner, would have immediately detected the fraud and led to its exposure. We may further add that Origen, who was born some time before the death of Irenæus, has left two citations from these Epistles, which are found in our copies; and between Origen to Eusebius the interval was too short to admit of the destruction of one series of the Ignatian letters, and the substitution of another. It is but reasonable to conclude, therefore, that the Epistles which we now have, and which were divested of the corruptions, to which they had been exposed subsequently to the time of Eusebius, by Usher and Vossius, are the genuine writings of that Father. The interpolated copies are evidently forgeries of the sixth century; and the support which they yield to the Arian heresy abundantly evinces the motive with which they were executed.
It must not be concealed, however, that Archbishop Usher, who strongly advocates the genuineness of six of the smaller Epistles, entertains great doubts respecting the seventh, addressed to Polycarp; and Vossius admits that it exhibits a certain peculiarity of style which is calculated to create suspicion. But the use of the plural number, in some parts of the letter, is evidently intended to distinguish between the advice which he tenders immediately to Polycarp, and that which he recommends the Bishop to address to his flock. This will readily appear from the opening of the fifth section. Now Polycarp himself distinctly mentions a letter which he received from Ignatius; and Eusebius ( ubi supra), in connexion with the Epistle to the Church of
Smyrna, speaks also of another, which was written, ιδίως τη ταύτης προηγουμένη Πολυκάρπω. The ancient Fathers ascribe this Epistle to Ignatius as well as the rest ; and therefore the same evidence which is deemed conclusive in the one case, must also be admitted in the other.
Polycarp, at the close of his Epistle to the Philippians, describes the Epistles of Ignatius as “ treating of faith and patience, and of all things pertaining to edification in the Lord Jesus.” They are written in an animated, but inflated style; and bespeak a mind stored with the knowledge of Christ and the Gospel, rather than with the treasures of human learning. They breathe the genuine spirit of Christian devotion; they enforce the purest precepts; and abound in flowing exhortation to faith in the Redeemer, and obedience to his commands. The Epistle to Polycarp sets forth the character and duties of the Christian minister in the most lively and interesting colours. It exhorts him to watchfulness; to prayer and meditation; to public and private intercourse with his flock; it admonishes him to inquire into their peculiar condition and circumstances, and lays down certain rules relative to marriage and the duties of the married state. All the other Epistles, with the exception of that to the Romans, turn, for the most part, upon the same subjects. They open with an introductory greeting to the members of the church to which they are addressed; insist strongly upon the blessings of church union, public worship, and submission to ecclesiastical rulers; exhort all men to constant prayer for themselves and others; warn them against false teachers; and inculcate the paramount importance of faith, repentance, and good works. As the Epistle to the Romans exhibits most forcibly the feelings of the pious Bishop, and the temper of mind in which he was preparing to suffer for the cause of Christ, we shall give it entire from Grabe's Spicilegium :