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one, and that we only from our ignorance call them by different names, just as, though there is really only one sea, we speak of the Ægean, Ionian, or Cretan seas? The words of Maximus of Madaura, in his letter to St. Augustine, may be taken to express the almost universal attitude of Pagan thought, “That there is one Supreme God, without beginning or posterity, that there is a great and glorious Father; who is so mad or so prejudiced as to deny as a most certain truth ? His virtues, scattered through the works of creation, we invoke under many names, because we are all of us ignorant of His real name. For God is a name common to all religions. Who is that God of yours, of whom you Christians claim, as it were, the exclusive possession and first discovery ? ' The supreme merit of Pagan philosophy lies in the transition it effected from the more primitive notion of the stupendous might of God to that of His superliuman goodness and benefi
Seneca well expressed the conclusion of Roman theology when he wrote, “No man in his senses fears the gods, for it were madness to fear what is good for us, nor does any one fear whom he loves.” This change or advance of thought the world owes far more to the Greeks than to the Hebrews; a fact in the history of theology which has only failed to be recognized by reason of the long persistence of the idea that the Jews, a small branch of the human family, were in a more special sense than other members of that family the objects of the Divine love and solicitude. The debt of the Hellenizing Jew to the Greek is beyond all comparison in excess of any we know of as due from the Greek race to the Hebrew. In the face of persistent misrepresentations of the past, it is only fair to restate these facts, which of course have no bearing whatever on the more rational Christianity of our own day, but which have a good deal on the Christianity of the early Catholic Church, as established and interpreted by the Fathers.
III. Pagan Religion. In this chapter Mr. Farrer claims to prove conclusively that in love and thankfulness to God for His goodness, in trustful resignation to His providence and will, in a moral and spiritual endeavour to bring human life into conformity with His perfections, the Pagan world, as represented by its highest teachers, had no lesson to learn of the Christian missionaries, nor any reason for transferring its allegiance from the religion inculcated by Philosophy. In proof of this proposition he quotes chiefly from Seneca, Epictetus, and Plutarch. “He worships God who knows Him,” said Seneca; his words, “ Love cannot be mingled with fear," correspond exactly with the Christian utterance, “ Perfect love casteth out fear.” “If I were a nightingale I should act as a nightingale, and if a swan as a swan; but since I am a rational being, it behoves me to praise God,” says Epictetus. On the duty of merging the human will in the Divine he will bear comparison with the author of the Imitatio Christi, or with any other Christian writer. Dare,” says he, “ to look up to God and say: Do with me henceforth as Thou wilt; I am of one mind with Thee, I am Thine, I decline nothing that seemeth Thee good, lead me whither Thou wilt."
NO. 1.-VOL. II.-THE THINKER.
Elsewhere he expresses the hope that death may find him engaged in some work of human interest, something beneficent, of public utility and noble; but that otherwise he may be found engaged in a work that nothing can hinder—the work of self-improvement. He would have men talk not of losing things, but restoring them. “Is your child dead ? It has been restored. Is your wife dead? She has been restored.” Seneca exclaims, “ Would you propitiate the gods? Then be like them. He worships them enough who imitates them.” Augustine quotes a fine passage from Porphyry (who wrote a long but lost work against the Christians): “God being the Father of all is in need of nothing; but for us it is good to adore Him by means of justice, chastity, and other virtues, and thus to make life itself a prayer to Him by inquiring into and imitating His nature: for inquiry purifies, and imitation deifies us, by moving us nearer to Him.” Epictetus calls man a portion separated from the Deity, a portion of Him ; and Seneca asks : “Do you wonder that a man should go to the Gods? It is God who comes to a man, nay, rather comes into men, for there is no good mind without God"; and again, “ He is present in our souls, and enters into our inmost thoughts. Enters, do I say, as if He were ever absent from them.” “ Zeus has set me free,” says Epictetus; “do you think He intended His own Son to be enslaved ?" and again, “ Shall not the fact of God's being our Maker and Father and Guardian release us from sorrow and anxiety ?”
IV. Pagan Superstition.---The difficulty is extreme of trying to institute any comparison between Christianity and Paganism in the matter of superstition. Instead of comparing the higher Christianity with the lower Paganism we shall be more likely to hit the truth by contrasting only the different levels with one another. The higher Christianity and the higher Paganism may be at once cancelled as equally exempt from and superior to superstition, so that the comparison in this regard remains to be determined between the lower Christianity and the lower Paganism. Was the former an improvement on the latter in this matter? Can we answer this in the affirmative when we recall the history of Catholicism, or when we think even of its present condition in many parts of the world ?
V. The Pagan Belief in Heaven.-"All will admit that we have a soul," says Seneca, “but what that soul is, which rules and governs us, no one will explain to you." “The ancients thought,” says Microbius, “that souls were given by Jupiter, and returned to him again after death.” Maximus of Tyre says, “What men call death is the beginning of immortality, when the soul is called up to its own place to enter on a new life.” Nothing is falser than the common notion that in pre-Christian times men died without hope. At all events, from the time of Pythagoras, the belief in the survival of the soul was prevalent in the world as the alternative theory of the essential unity of the soul and body, and of the extinction of one with the other. Cicero may, without doubt, be taken as fairly expressing the common faith of his time when Paulus Scipio instructs his son how in heaven there is a certain definite place where all who have served their
country, &c., enjoy a blessed existence. Elsewhere he says, “If we should depart this life, let us think that we are dismissed from prison, either to return to that eternal home which is clearly meant for us, or to be free henceforth from all sensation and trouble." And he alludes to Socrates conversing just before he drank the poison, as if he were about, not to be put to a compulsory death, but to ascend to heaven. “ Another origin awaits us, and another condition of things,” says Seneca; and again, “ That day which you dread as your last is the birthday of eternity." When, therefore, we are told that before Christianity men died without hope of any future life, we are confronted with this fact, that the fragmentary literature of Pagan times bears striking evidence of that hope on almost every page. And of such force were the arguments on which they based their belief in the soul's immortality, that even a Christian writer like Lactantius, seeking to demonstrate the immortality of the soul, used the old Platonic arguments, without once referring to the resurrection of Christ (Divine Institutes, vii. 18). The only real difference between Christian and Pagan thought regarded the future state of the body. But Democritus, Heraclitus, &c., seem to have .
, & held a belief in a future state for the body.
VI. Pagan Belief in Hell.—The ideas of judgment and punishment after death were common to India, Assyria, Egypt, Persia, Greece, and Italy for very many centuries before Christianity. “But,”, says Plutarch, “almost every one knows that phantasms of burning rivers and horrible regions and tortures with frightful names are all mixed with fable and fiction as poison with food." We shall find an explanation in comparative mythology, in a solar and lunar myth, of the idea of a posthumous punishment in a subterranean world.
VIL The End of the World. With regard to the final conflagration of the world, there was little, if any, difference between the Christian and Pagan belief. The ideas of the eventual victory of Good over Evil, which subsequently governed the Christian dogma of the millennium, were probably derived by Daniel from Zoroaster. The confused Jewish idea of the final triumph of righteousness and of a temporal kingdom passed with no essential change into the creed of the primitive Church. How could the Christians but inherit the hatred felt for the Jews, when they adhered above all things to the Jewish expectation of a temporal kingdom, based on the anticipated ruin of Rome? Here we have the main key: first, to the extremely rapid propagation of Christianity; secondly, to the cruel persecution of it by a power previously noted for its usual broad toleration.
VIII. Pagan Theology.-IX. Pagan Morality. Though early converts to Christianity forsook, no doubt, many of the vices of their Pagan state, so too did the converts of the philosophers. Marcus Aurelius, Pliny, Tacitus, and Suetonius were not so much impressed with the virtue of the Christians as with their obstinacy. Tertullian and Cyprian, Salvian and Chrysostom, leave but little of advantage on the side of the Church as against the Paganism of their times in the matter of morality. After examining some sayings of Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Socrates, Plutarch, Plato, Isocrates, Maximus of Tyre, &c., on the subjects of self-sacrifice, charity, toleration, liberality, and forgiveness, our author asks, “Had these men anything to learn from the Church which counts among her highest products men of such relentless bigotry as Athanasius, Cyril, or Augustine ?”
X. Christianity and Civilization.—If we desire to judge of the civilization of a given nation or epoch, we invariably ask, what is, or was, the character of its domestic life ; what its attitude with regard to women, to slaves, to criminals, to animals; or its customs, like war, or the sacrifice of human victims? Under all these seven heads it is clear that the debt of civilization to the Church, indisputable as it is in some respects, is not so great as most Church historians would have us believe. The progress that in certain lines has accompanied Christianity is not necessarily for that reason its consequence; and the ideas that preceded and conditioned such progress were mainly of Pagan, and especially of Stoic, origin.
It is, of course, impossible for any one, however honest may be his intention, to write entirely without bias in a case in which long and special study has enabled him to form a very definite opinion. Nevertheless, Mr. Farrer has on the whole treated his subject with great fairness, though in some instances he has hardly done justice to those whom, from his own account of the nature of his task, we may be allowed to call his opponents. Especially does this seem to be the case in his chapter on
• The Pagan Belief in Heaven." For surely there is no comparison between the halftrembling hope of the most spiritual-minded Pagan philosopher and the sure confidence in a continued personal existence after the death of the body entertained by even the least spiritual of Christians; a confidence founded not on Platonic arguments, nor on deductions from modern scientific results (though confirmed by both), but simply on the historical fact of “the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
THE BOOK CRITIC.
THE PRAYERS OF JESUS CHRIST. by C. J. VAUGHAN, D.D. Macmillan. These lectures were delivered on Wednesdays in Lent in the Temple Church. The texts are naturally drawn, except the last, from the Evangelist of Prayer. That so profound and mysterious a subject could be treated adequately would be too much to say. Dr. Vaughan has not entered much into the regions of spiritual psychology. Perhaps he has been well advised in modestly restricting himself within the bounds of natural and somewhat obvious thought. Yet such thought is expressed with a devout sweetness and tender eloquence characteristic of a mind penetrated with the vision of things not seen. The lectures are devout readings, edifying to the faithful, but lack some of the definite application and penetrating point which awaken the careless in the best sermons.
Lecture I., from Luke v. 16, treats of Christ's prayers in their general aspect. To one word in this sentence (p. 12) we take exception.
“What is it which drives us to the Mercy-seat, so many of us as seek it?.... Is it not sin, onr own sins; or, if we go one step farther, our own sinfulness? Is not this the goad which drives us, willing or unwilling, to the Throne of Grace? Is not this the motive which alone makes us pray?"
“ Alone.” This excludes from among those who seek the Mercy-seat those who have not got so far as a sense of sin, but cry for mercy and relief from bodily pains or trouble of spirit. It excludes those who enter into the spirit of the Psalmist : “O let my mouth be filled with Thy praise : that I may sing of Thy glory and honour all the day long." It excludes all the eucharistic element in adoration. The same omission is apparent at the close of the lecture : “Must our praying be always quite selfish? Shall there be no place in it for intercession ? None for the work of God?” Again,
"With teaching and healing, prayer divided His life. Already upon earth He was practising for the mediation which divides with the supplying of the Spirit His work in heaven."
This wording puts out of court the regal and judicial office of the Mediator in heaven. “ All authority is given unto Me in heaven and earth,” and “He is Head over all things to the Church.” Doubtless He may say in the words of the Psalmist, “ I am all prayer”; but it would be strange to circumscribe the work, as above, of Him who is the Thinker, Ruler, Organizer of the Church above and below, not to speak of His unknowable relations to the kóduos outside our earth.
Lecture II. treats of the prayers of Jesus Christ after His baptism, before the “Great Ordination.” The difficult question of the choice of Judas is thus handled :
" The foresight of that blot and that stain must have introduced a sorrowful ingredient into the prayer of that night. To know that there must be close to His person one treacherous presence ; that incarnate love and truth inust have hatred and falsehood with it whithersoever it went--we scarcely see how that knowledge could have consisted with the prayer for the guidance of the morning's decision-were it not that we have been made to feel how far-sighted, how deep-piercing are the intuitions of infinite wisdom ; how wonderful its developments, its evolutions of good out of evil ; how patient its waiting for the eventual end ; how unsearchable its judgments, its ways how past finding out."
May we not add that it was a part of His absolute meekness and humility of resignation to the Father's will that He should have called unto Him that man ?
Lecture III. is on the Prayers of Jesus Christ before the Good Confession and at the Transfiguration. After pointing out that the Baptism and Transfiguration each open a period in the ministry, the preacher dwells upon Christ's “absence of haste or precipitancy in the treatment of character,” and contrasts Him as a “Divine educator " with “human instructors," their “haste and hurry, feverishness and impatience.” “Every little child must be made to confess Christ, no matter if it be even, before it can have known Him." One would think that if a Christian child has been admitted by baptism into the covenant of grace, the sooner he is brought to understand his privileges and his obligation to confess Christ in his life the better. On the Transfiguration a precious truth is missed : “ It was as He prayed that He was transfigured.” Can we at all interpret this prayer ? “ Was it ... Was it for the presence of those holy men of old time who might receive the interpretation of their own life's work, and carry it back with them into the Paradise of their rest and their preparation.” Surely the presence of Moses and Elias was not retrospective merely in its signification. . One priceless hint seems to be dropped here of the near