« AnteriorContinuar »
word, above all natural methods : faith, which is ‘not the effect of geometrical conclusion, but the 'result of the energy of the Spirit.'1
GREGORY OF NAZIANZUM. Of all the fathers of the fourth century, there was not, in the opinion of Le Clerc, a more moderate and a worthier man than Gregory Nazianzen.— St. Jerome ' one day asked St. Gregory to explain a difficult place in the New Testament, De sabbato secundo
primo. 2 Gregory answered humorously, I will ' explain it to you by and by in my sermon at • church, where the applauses given to me by all * the audience shall compel you, in spite of your‘self, to understand what you understand not; or
to pass for a blockhead, if you are the only person 'there who joins not in admiring.'- We see by this, that Gregory, with all his gravity, was of a cheerful temper, which also appears in his epistles : we see also how much authority he had over the people, and how little account he made
of the acclamations which his eloquence excited. "From this passage we might also perhaps infer,
that he was not always satisfied with the exposi‘tions which he gave to the people. The same 'may be observed of St. Augustin : for in his 'sermons he delivers some things, of which, as it * appears from his letters, he was far from being 'assured.'3 'Go now, and establish articles of ‘faith, or even interpretations of scripture, from 'the homilies of the fathers.' 4
'Gregory was of the same opinion with Origen “ concerning future punishments ; that they were
Milner, vol. ii. p. 292.. 'Luke vi. 1. ACUTEPWAPWtw. • Tillemont in Jortin. * Jortin.
temporary, and would terminate in the amend'ment of the sufferers.' He held the doctrine of universal salvation. But the Judge himself says, “ These shall go away into everlasting punishment, “ but the righteous into life eternal.”—However heretical any one may be in other respects, if he do but seem to oppose the tenets of Calvinism,' he is immediately hailed as a valuable ally! But,
* Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis,
• Tempus eget.' AMBROSE. There is extremely little in the quotations from Ambrose, that so much as seems to oppose the tenets of Calvinists. Any one of our learned and ,ingenious opponents in modern times would have
said twice as much in a couple of pages in refuting our sentiments, or attempting to do it.-Ambrose,
says Barbeyrac, had such an impetuous imagina
tion, that every thing served him for an argu..ment.'2-He seems, however, to have had more
just and spiritual views of Christianity than many of the ancient fathers. How shall I hear thee say to ‘me, “He has loved much, and is forgiven much?”
I confess my debts were greater than those of the • penitent woman, and more was forgiven me, who ' was called to the ministry from the noise of the · forum, and the terror of judicial administration.
Yet, if we cannot equal her, the Lord Jesus knows ‘how to support the weak, and to bring with him
self the fountain of living water. He came to • the grave himself. Oh that thou wouldst come * to this my sepulchre of corruption, Lord Jesus, and wash me with thy tears.3 If thou weep for
"Jortin. Idem. . ' It would have been more scriptural to have said, ' with thy atoning blood.'
me, I shall be saved. Thou shalt call me from
the grave of this body, and say, Come forth; " that my thoughts may go forth to Christ, and
call forth thy servant. "Though bound with the ‘chains of my sins, I am entangled hand and foot,
and buried in dead works, on thy call I shall come 'forth free, and be found one of those who sit at thy table. It shall be said, Behold a man, taken from the midst of secular vanity, remains in the
priesthood, not by his own strength, but by the 'grace of Christ. Preserve, Lord, thy own gift. * I knew myself unworthy of the episcopal office,
because I had given myself to this world: but by “ thy grace I am what I am ;” the least of all 'bishops : yet, because I have undertaken some
labour for thy church, preserve this fruit; lest whom thou calledst to the ministry, when lost, “thou shouldst suffer to perish in that ministry.
And particularly grant me the spirit of sympathizing with sinners ; that I may not proudly 'chide, but mourn and weep ; that while I deplore
another, I may mourn over myself saying, “ Ta'mar is more righteous than 1.”] Perhaps à
young person may have sinned, deceived and hurried on into folly. We old persons sin also. * The law of the flesh rebels against the law of our
mind, even in us whose duty it is to teach. «« Tamar is more righteous than I.” We blame • the avarice of another: let us remember whether
our conduct has been stained with the same vice, which secretly dwells in our corrupt nature, and 'let each say, “Tamar is more righteous than I.” 2
Gen. xxxviii. 26. * As soon as Ambrose entered the ministry, he gave to the
' The same may be said with respect to the vice of anger. This is the way to avoid the severity of that just rebuke of our Lord concerning the mote and the beam. He who rejoices in another's 'fall rejoices in the devil's victory. Let us rather
grieve when we hear that a man perishes for
whom Christ died. Let us repent, and hope ' for pardon by faith, not as an act of justice. • God wants not our money, but our faith.” The language of this quotation is frequently inaccurate ; and there is a lamentable want of reference to the righteousness, atonement, and intercession of Christ, and of “ redemption by his blood, even “the forgiveness of sins.” The “Holy Spirit,
who sanctifies all the elect people of God,' is not mentioned: and the way in which the writer speaks of his own sins is incautious, and capable of being misconstrued, as palliating the evil of sin, and quieting the conscience of those who live in habitual and actual transgression, by the confessions of an eminent minister; who only meant, that the same evils dwelt in him, and might occasionally prevail : and that, all things considered, this might be more heinous in him, than the crimes which he was called to reprove ; and that therefore he ought to do it with humility, tenderness, and sympathy. “If a man be overtaken in “ a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an “ one in the spirit of meekness; considering thy“self, lest thou also be tempted.” 2 The whole,
church and to the poor all his gold and silver: he gave also his lands to the church, reserving the annual use of them to the use of his sister Marcellina, during her life.
* Ambrose in Milner, vol. ii. p. 250, 251. 2 Gal. vi, 1.
however, shews more of the contrite spirit; the simple dependence on the mercy and grace of the Lord Jesus ; and the loving, tender, and compassionate mind of a true Christian and minister than we generally meet with in these ancient fathers.
JEROME. This celebrated father was ingenious, learned, acute, assiduous, injudicious, fanciful, impatient of contradiction, and vehement in controversy ; exceedingly superstitious, and a miserable expositor of scripture. Yet, after all, though his general views are certainly Anticalvinistic, especially in that he everywhere (as far as these quotations go,) ascribes the beginning of conversion to man's good use of free will, and not to special preventing grace, “working in us to will ;" yet he is not very hostile to many of our sentiments, when well understood. There is also far more of what is peculiarly Christian in his writings than in those of many of the preceding fathers; and the Christian world is under very great obligations to him, for his labours in giving and revising translations of the holy scriptures.
UNWILLING WILLINGNESS. • They do those things which they are unwilling to do.'1
Even Homer may teach those who do not understand the apostle, that willingness in one sense, and unwillingness in another, are compatible ; and that circumstances may induce a man to do voluntarily what he was otherwise habitually most unwilling to do: Kainào tych our Būra êxwy, déxorti ye Junco, I voluntarily gave up this city to thee, yet with an unwilling
Jerome, Ref. 384. •