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And in a note on this passage, the same authors tell us,
“St. Cyril of Alexandria speaks frequently of the difficulty and obscurity of the Scripture : 'How profound is the word, and obscure the sentence of the law! Because it is enigmatical, and a scarcely visible shadowing forth, as it were, of subtile and fine-drawn (thin) thoughts.”—T. i. De Ador. in Sp. et Ver., p. 616. "The language of the holy prophets is always obscure, and replete with hidden sentiments, and labours with the prediction of the Divine mysteries.'-T. ii. Comm. in Esai., p.
From these materials Dr. O'Connell has made up the following article :
"ST. CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. “ This most learned Father makes frequent allusions to the absurdity of men following their own views, in the reading of the Sacred Text,” [as if this was the question at issue, or as if anybody, who was not a mere fanatic, ever maintained that we ought to follow our own views in reading the sacred text.] 6. How profound,' he writes, “is the word, and obscure the sentence of the law! Because it is enigmatical, and a scarcely visible shadowing forth, as it were, of subtile and fine-drawn thoughts. The language of the prophets is always obscure, replete with hidden mystery, and labours with the prediction of the Divine mysteries.”
Here the reader will observe that Dr. O'Connell puts together as one continuous passage, the two quotations taken from two different works, and from two different volumes of the works of St. Cyril, which he had found quoted in the foregoing note of Messrs. Berington and Kirk. And yet the references marking them as distinct and unconnected passages are given plainly enough by those gentlemen.
But further, Messrs. Berington and Kirk had quoted these passages as instances of the frequent mention “ of the difficulty and obscurity of the Scripture” in St. Cyril's writings. This has some show at least of reason, for St. Cyril does certainly here speak of the obscurity and difficulty of some parts of Scripture, the Law, namely, and the Prophets. But there is not the smallest reason for Dr. O'Connell's statement that these
passages contain an allusion to “the absurdity of men following their own views in the reading of the Sacred Text.” However frequently St. Cyril may allude to that absurdity, there is certainly no allusion to it here.
Nor is it very fair to say with Messrs. Berington and Kirk, that St. Cyril here speaks of the difficulty and obscurity of the whole Scripture. Everybody admits that portions of holy Scripture are difficult and obscure; and this is all that St. Cyril, in the passages before us, has asserted.
The first of them is taken from the Dialogue, De Adoratione in Spiritu et Veritate; and Messrs. Berington and Kirk, who are followed of course by Dr. O'Connell, have, in quoting it, mixed up the words spoken by Palladius, (the interlocutor in the Dialogue) with St. Cyril's answer, as if they were all one, and spoken by the same person. The original with the Latin version of John Aubert's edition of the works of this Father* is as follows:
ΠΑΛΛΑΔΙΟΣ. Ως βαθυς ο λόγος, και PALLADIUS. Quam recondita sunt αμυδρόν του νόμου το χρήμα;
Scripturæ verba, et obscura Legis senTo which Cyril answers :ΚΥΡΙΛΛΟΣ. Αίνιγμα γάρ, ώ Παλ. CYRILLUS. Ænigma nempe est, Palλάδια, και οιονεί λεπτών τε και διεσμι- ladi, ac veluti obscura subtilium tenuisλευμένων εννοιών, ασυμφανές αποσκί- simarumque sententiarum adumbratio. ασμα. .
And now let the reader judge of the fairness of this quotation, even as it stands in Dr. O'Connell's authority. St. Cyril had just before been explaining to Palladius the typical signification of the Mosaical sacrifices. The lambs, he says, appointed for sacrifices are types of the flock, tñs áreans. Calves are a type of strength; rams, of full and perfect strength. Therefore rams denote the faithful in Christ, who have attained to spiritual strength and perfection; and the law appoints two to be offered because spiritual perfection must be twofold, in word and in deed. Wine is poured out, † to show that the perfect in Christ are filled with joy and rejoicing, as it is written, Wine maketh glad the heart of man. A he-goat is slain, with two lambs and bread for a sacrifice of salvation, (els Quolay owTnplov,)f to signify that Emmanuel died for our sins, who is typified by the he-goat ; and the lambs must die with him and the bread be consumed, to show that Christians, the lambs of his flock, must also be buried with Christ, as St. Paul speaks, by mortifying their members which are upon the earth, not living for this world, but for Christ. And therefore this is called a sacrifice of salvation because Christ communicates salvation to all who are so buried with Him, and so die with Him.
Upon receiving this explanation of the typical import of the Levitical sacrifices, Palladius very naturally exclaims, “How deep the expression, and how dark the signification* of the law!"
* Opp. S. Cyrilli Alex. ed. Joan Auberto. Paris, 1638, tom. I. p. 616. B.
I See Lev. ix. 4, in the Septuagint. * Messrs. Berington and Kirk render this “the sentence of the law," following the Latin version * quam obscura legis sententia.” But " sententia” (xpñua) bere evidently should be rendered, meaning, signification. A little before, when St. Cyril asks, “ What does this signify?" the Greek is, Tu tò xoñua nálıv; in the foregoing, clause, the word lóyos, if I mistake not, ought also to be rendered “meaning, “ sense,
;"" rationale”; not " Scripturæ verba,” as in Aubert's version.
And Cyril answers, “ Because it is an enigma, Palladius, and resembles the dim shadowing forth of subtile and finely-polished thoughts."
Can anything be more unfair than to represent such a passage as this as an assertion of the obscurity and difficulty of the whole Scripture, in such a sense as to render it necessary to reprobate the individual examination of Holy Writ? St. Cyril is here speaking only of the Law of Moses, and does not even assert the difficulty and obscurity of that part of Holy Scripture generally, or in its literal and primary signification, but only the difficulty of discovering in it that typical meaning, and those obscure allusions to the deeper mysteries of Christianity, of which he had been speaking just before. It is difficult to repress some feeling of indignation at so gross a specimen of literary misrepresentation.
And the same unfairness is also manifest in the quotation of the second passage which occurs at the beginning of St. Cyril's commentary on Isaiah. There also he had in view the mystical interpretations and far-fetched allegorical expositions of Holy Scripture, which in that age were so common, and which have done so much to give plausibility to the opinion that the Scriptures are dark, difficult, and unintelligible. His words are as follows*:
'Ασυμφανης μεν αιεί των αγίων προ- The meaning of the holy prophets, φητών ο λόγος, μεμέστωται δε των κεκ- always obscure, is mingled with hidden ρυμμένων εννοιών, και μυστηρίων ημίν thoughts, and travaileth with the preτων θείων ωδίνει προαγόρευσιν. τέλος diction unto us of the Divine mysteries; γάρ νόμου και προφητών ο Χριστός, κα- for, as it is written, Christ is the end of θώς γέγραπται. .
the law and of the prophets. How this proves St. Cyril to have reprobated the individual examination of the Scriptures is difficult to explain ; and no less difficult is it to discover here any allusion to the absurdity of men following their own views in the reading of the sacred text.” Similar complaints of the obscurity and difficulty of the prophetic Scriptures may be found in almost every writer who has undertaken to interpret them; but this is so far from proving the individual examination of the Scriptures to be prohibited, that many divines have supposed the obscurity of prophecy to have been intended by its Divine Author as an incentive to the study of it.
But we have not yet done with the arguments which Dr. O'Connell has derived from the writings of St. Cyril of Alexandria, as he found them quoted by Messrs. Berington and Kirk. He proceeds:
When John of Antioch had departed from the teaching of the church, by a perverse interpretation of the written Word, St. Cyril observes, by way of the most effectual refutation of his errors, that he stood alone in his views, and was in opposition with the received doctrine of the church. Speaking of this heretic, he observes
* Opp. tom. ii. p. *
“ • He grieves all the bishops, both in the East and in the West, asserting that the word concerning Christ is not orthodox, but perverted. But it suffices for demonstration and refutation of these things, that they have never been said by any one within the churches as they are set down in the exposition of this man.'?
Where St. Cyril has said of John of Antioch that he “stood alone in his views, and was in opposition with the received doctrine of the church," Dr. O'Connell does not inform us, and I think it would puzzle him to tell. Messrs. Berington and Kirk do not quote any such words; and, therefore, if they are St. Cyril's words at all, Dr. O'Connell must have found them in some other authority. I am inclined to think, however, that, although he gives them with marks of quotation, he did not intend them to be regarded strictly as such, but only as a brief summary of the testimony to be found in the passage he was about to cite.
Assuredly a little learning is a dangerous thing. From the name of John of Antioch, inserted in a parenthesis by Messrs. Berington and Kirk, Dr. O'Connell has taken occasion to favour the world with the information that that patriarch was a heretic, who had departed from the teaching of the church,“ by a perverse interpretation of the written Word,” and who stood alone in his views."
It is true that John of Antioch resisted vehemently the proceedings of St. Cyril at the Council of Ephesus; it is true also that he was the personal friend of Nestorius, whom he defended with great warmth, by interposing delays to retard the meeting of the Council, and by other means, which are not perhaps to be justified. But it is equally certain that his advocacy of Nestorius was altogether personal, and that he did not in any degree defend or maintain the errors attributed to that patriarch. The fact that St. Cyril, the personal enemy of Nestorius, was the president of the council where his character for orthodoxy was to be decided, was enough, one would think, to justify some degree of opposition to the competency of such a tribunal. This question, however, is now settled, not only by the acquiescence of the church in the sentence of the Council, but by the ultimate submission of John of Antioch himself, and bis reconciliation with St. Cyril; and one would have thought that this fact, so well known to everybody else, might have saved Dr. O'Connell from the absurd mistake of calling John of Antioch a heretic. *
To this Dr. O'Connell may, perhaps, reply, “But has not St. Cyril called him so in the very passage I have quoted ? Does he not there expressly say, that John of Antioch grieved all the bishops, both of the East and West? that his doctrine was heterodox, and refuted by the common consent of all Christendom?"
I answer, that St. Cyril does say this of Nestorius, but not of John of Antioch. For the passage quoted by Dr. O'Connell, which Messrs. Berington and Kirk represent as spoken of John, was in reality spoken of Nestorius, as any one may see by turning to the original, as it is given by Labbe and Cossart among the documents they have collected in illustration of the Council of Ephesus.f And all Dr. O'Connell has said about John of Antioch is a mistake, founded upon the blunder of Messrs. Berington and Kirk, who have applied to John what was really spoken of Nestorius. A remarkable proof, if any were needed, that Dr. O'Connell's patristic learning consists of borrowed plumes, which, as in this instance, he has occasionally put on somewhat awkwardly.
The passage in question occurs in a letter addressed by St. Cyril to certain of the clergy of Constantinople; and it is evident that when he speaks to them of “your bishop,” he must mean Nestorius, and not John of Antioch, with whom they had no connexion. The original, with a translation which, I hope, will be found to express its correct meaning, is as follows. I give as much of the context as will enable the reader to understand the real bearing of the passage quoted by Dr. O'Connell :
Συντυχόντες τοίνυν αυτοίς εκείνα When you meet them therefore say, λέγετε ότι ποιείτε μεν κακώς, εισβαλ- Ye do wrong in suborning some to λοντές τινας καταφλυαρείν του επισκό- calumniate your bishop, encouraging που υμών, και τούτους θάλποντες και and patronising them, and making them συγκροτούντες, και, όργανα της εαυτών the instruments of your own malice; μοχθηρίας ποιούμενοι, πλήν ούχ αύτη this, however, is not the cause of grief, της λύπης εστίν η πρόφασις, άλλ' ουδε nor is your bishop at all an enemy here; όλως εχθρός έστιν ο επίσκοπος υμών του but it grieves all the bishops, both of the ενταύθα λυπει δε πάντας τους κατά east and west, that the doctrine concernτην ανατολής και δύσιν επισκόπους το ing Christ should not be taught soundly, μή γίνεσθαι ορθώς τον περί Χριστού but corruptly. And in proof and refuλόγον, άλλα διεστραμμένως αρκεί δε tation of these things it is enough that
* If Dr. O'Connell wishes to be assured of this, let him read Pagius, ad Annal. Baron. A.D. 432, n. 15. Ceillier, (Hist. des Auteurs Eccl. tom. xiii. p. 228) says, speaking of John of Antioch, “Instruit dès son enfance dans les saintes lettres, il avoit acquis une grande connoisance de la doctrine et des canons de l'Eglise. C'étoit un esprit hardi et capable de tout entreprendre; sa foi étoit pure, et l'exposition qu'il en avoit fait au nom des Evêques d'orient, fut louée dans le concile de Calcedoine. Saint Euloge d'Alexandrie lui donne le titre de Saint.”
† Concil. tom. iii. p. 333. C.