תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

wise catholicity. For them there was to be no sect, no party. And in their arduous work they had ever at hand in their master a friend who knew the difficulties of the ground to be traversed. If they were bewildered in the tangled mazes of conflicting opinions, he was ready to lead them with a firm hand. If they were in danger of being swallowed up in the quicksands of shifting error, he was near to lift them up to the sure resting-place which he had himself found.*

Even yet the end was not reached. The hierarchy of sciences was not completed till Theology, with her own proper gifts, crowned the succession which we have followed hitherto, logic, physics, ethics. New data corresponded with the highest philosophy; and Origen found in the Holy Scriptures and the teaching of the Spirit the final and absolute spring of Divine Truth. It was in this region that Gregory felt his master's power to be supreme. Origen's sovereign command of the mysteries of “the oracles of God," gave him perfect boldness in dealing with all other writings. “Therefore," Gregory adds, “there was no subject forbidden to us; nothing hidden or inaccessible. We were allowed to become acquainted with every doctrine, barbarian or Greek, on things spiritual or civil, divine and human, traversing with all freedom, and investigating the whole circuit of knowledge, and satisfying ourselves with the full enjoyment of all the pleasures of the soul. ..."+

Such, in meagre outline, was, as Gregory tells us, the method of Origen. He describes what he knew, and what his heurers knew. ] know no parallel to the picture in ancient times.

And when every allowance has been made for the partial enthusiasm of a pupil, the view which it offers of a system of Christian training actually realized exhibits a type which we cannot hope to surpass. May we not say that the ideal of Christian education and the ideal of Christian philosophy were fashioned together? And can we wonder that, under that comprehensive and loving discipline, Gregory, already trained in heathen schools, first learnt, step by step, according to his own testimony, what the pursuit of philosophy truly was, and came to know the solemn duty of forming opinions which were to be, not the amusement of a moment, but the solid foundations of lifelong work ? Have we yet, perhaps we ask, mastered the lessons ?

The method of Origen, such as Gregory has described it, in all its breadth and freedom was forced upon him by what he held to be the deepest law of human nature. It may be true (and he admitted it) that we are, in our present state, but poorly furnished for the pursuit of knowledge ; but he was never weary of proclaiming that we are at least born to engage in the endless search. If we see some admirable work of man's art, he says, we are at once eager to investigate the nature, the manner, the end of its production; and the contemplation of the works of God stirs us with an incomparably greater longing to learn the principles, the method, the purpose of creation. “ This desire, this passion, has without doubt,” he continues, "been implanted in us by God. And as the eye seeks the light, as our body craves food, so our mind is impressed with the characteristic and natural desire of knowing the truth of God and the causes of what we observe.” Such a desire, since it is a divine endowment, carries with it the proinise of future satisfaction. In our present life we may not be able to do more by the utmost toil than obtain some small fragments from the infinite treasures of divine knowledge, still the concentration of our souls upon the lovely vision of Truth, the occupation of our various faculties in lofty inquiries, the very ambition with which we rise above our actual powers, is in itself fruitful in blessing, and fits us better for the reception of wisdom hereafter at some later stage of existence. Now we draw at the best a faint outline, a preparatory sketch of the features of Truth ; the true and living colours will be added then. Perhaps, he concludes most characteristically, that is the meaning of the words “ to every one that hath shall be given;" by which we are assured that he who has gained in this life some faint outline of truth and knowledge, will have it completed in the age to come with the beauty of the perfect image.

* Id. c. 14. + Id. c. 15. De Princ. ii. 4, p. 105.

Such words, thrilling alike by their humility and by their confidence, noble in the confession of the actual weakness of man, and invigorating by the assertion of his magnificent destiny, can never grow old. They live by the inspiration of spiritual genius, and through them Origen comes into vital contact with ourselves. He was himself greater than his actions, than his writings, than his method. The philosopher was greater than his system. He possessed the highest endowment of a teacher. He was able to give to the innumerable crowd of doctors, confessors, martyrs, who gathered round him, not merely a tabulated series of formulas, but a living energy of faith. He stirred, quickened, kindled, as Gregory says, those who approached him.

He communicated not his words, but himself; not opinions so much as a fire of love. Even Erasmus found in this the secret of his charm. loved,” he says, * “ that of which he spoke, aud we speak with delight of the things which we love." In the face of this purifying passion, Origen’s errors, however we may judge of them, are details which cannot finally affect our judgment of the man.

During his lifetime there was undoubtedly a strong party opposed to him. His enemies represented a principle—hierarchical supremacyand not only a personal antipathy. Their bitterness was a proof of his influence. But even after his condemnation at Alexandria his spiritual supremacy was undisturbed. Dionysius carried his spirit to the patriarchal throne. Pamphilus, the martyr, solaced his imprisonment by writing his defence. Even Jerome, before personal feelings had warped his judgment, styled him “confessed by the Master of the Churches after the Apostles.” “I could wish,” he says, "to have his knowledge

6. He

* Præf. in Orig. Opp.

of the Scriptures, even if I had to bear the ill-will which attaches to his name."

So long as he was remembered as a living power he was honoured by the admiration of the leaders of Christian thought. But as time went on, the fashion of the Church changed. The freedom of speculation was confined, perhaps necessarily confined, within narrower limits. The men who professed to follow Origen misinterpreted and misrepresented him. For others he was the personification of opinions which had been pronounced heretical by those who had authority. Here and there, however, a bold voice was still raised in his defence. “I do not choose," said a bishop, when appealed to to join in the condemnation of his writings,* “ to do outrage to a man who has long since fallen to sleep in honour ; nor am I hold enough to undertake a calumnious task in condemning what those before us did not reject.

The historian (a layman) who has preserved the anecdote, pauses for a moment to point its moral. "Men,” he writes, “of slender ability, who are unable to come to the light by their own fame, wished to gain distinction by blaming their betters. .... Such men's accusations contribute, I maintain, to establish his reputation. ... And they who revile Origen forget that they calumniate Athanasius who praised him... .”+

But no individual devotion could turn the tide of opinion which had set in against Origen before the close of the fifth century. It corresponded with an intellectual revolution. For three centuries or more Platonic idealism had been supreme. Aristotelian realism was now on the point of displacing it. The signs of the change can be noticed in theology and in politics. In one sense it was necessary as a condition for the development of mediævalism. The institutions of the past, which carried with them the noblest memories and symbolized the old order, were now emptied of their true life, and therefore not unmeet to fall by the hands of an alien Emperor. It was the singular and significant fortune of Justinian to strike a threefold blow at the past—to close the Schools of Athens, to abolish the Consulship at Rome, to procure a formal condemnation of Origen. By a happy coincidence he warred in each case with the dead, and he was not unworthy to wage such a conflict which could bring no fruit and no glory. It would be idle to suppose that such a man could either sympathise with or understand the difficulties or the thoughts of Origen. For good and for evil he was wholly cast in the mould of formulas. He knew nothing higher than an edict. With less knowledge than Henry VIII., he aspired to be a defender of the Faith, and ended by compromising his reputation for orthodoxy. The spectacle is for a moment one of unspeakable sadness, Origen condemned on the impeachment of Justinian. But the life of the martyr triumphed over the anathemas of the persecutor. Justinian could flatter himself that he killed again that which had no

* Theotimus, “the bishop of Scythia.” Socr. H. E. vi. 12.

+ Id., vi. 13.

VOL. XXXV.

2

life because it was false ; but Origen—the preacher of humility and patience and reverence and hope and absolute devotion to the Divine Word-slept on calmly in the tomb; and when “Greece rose from the dead," as it has been finely expressed, “ with the New Testament in her hand,” he rose too to disclose once again fresh springs of Truth. "I have read,” writes Erasmus to our own Colet in 1504, “a great part of the works of Origen; and under his teaching I think that I have made good progress ; for he opens, so to speak, the fountains of Theology, and indicates the methods of the science.

Even while Origen was still held to be under the ban of the Church, he exercised a strange fascination by the memories of his naine. His salvation was a question of the Schools, and was said to have been the subject of revelations. An abbot, so the story ran, saw him in eternal torment with the chief hæresiarchs, Arius and Nestorius. On the other hand, it was alleged that it had been made known to St. Mechtildis* that “the fate of Samson, Solomon, and Origen was kept hidden in the divine counsels, in order that the strongest, the wisest, and the most learned might be filled with salutary fear.” Picus of Mirandula maintained in the face of violent opposition, that it was more reasonable to believe in his salvation than not."

A learned Jesuit has composed an imaginary account of his trial before the Court of Heaven, with witnesses, advocates, and accusers, in which he finally gives him the benefit of the doubt. “ There is a perplexed controversy," writes a German chronicler of the fifteenth century, “in which sundry people engage about Samson, Solomon, Trajan, and Origen, whether they were saved or not. That I leave to the Lord.”

Such notices serve far more than a momentary surprise. They show that Origen, though practically unknown, still kept his hold on the interests of men ; that he was still an object of personal love; that there is in the fact of a life of humble self-sacrifice something too majestic, too divine, to be overthrown by the measured sentence of an ecclesiastical synod.

BROOKE F. WESTCOTT.

See Bayle, Dict. Origène, Note D.

CONTEMPORARY LIFE AND THOUGHT

IN FRANCE.

PARIS, April 16th, 1879.

STYMART. - Politics : Difficulties of the present time-Resignation of the Marshal-M.Jules Gréry-M.Gambetta,

President of the Chamber-M. Waddington's Cabinet-The Amnesty-The proposed Impeachment of the Ministry of the 16th May-The fall of M. de Marcère-The Return of the Chambers to Paris-Administrative Changes—The Conflict with the Clerical Party-Pere Hyacinthe. Literature: M. Renan's Reception at the Academy-"French Politics in 1866," by M. Rothan-" The French Army in 1879," by M. Trochu—" Le Banquet," by Michelet-Society for the Study of Questions relating to the Higher Education-Historical Works by MM. Duruy, Chéruci, Chantelauze, Michel, and Perrens—The Brothers de Goncourt, and their Works on the 13th Century-M. Soury. Novelists : D'Osson, Depit, Theuriet, and Richepin. Poets : Banville, Autran, Paté, Amanieu; “La Pitié Suprême" of Victor Hugo. The Theatre : “ Ruy Blas;" Ladislas Bolski; “L'Assommoir.". Music: Berlioz and his Correspondence ; Dubois, Lefèvre, Godard ; the Concerts at the Hippodrome. Erhibitions of Pictures. Obituary : Daumier, Couture, Préault, Duc, De Sacy, St. René Taillaudier, Villemessant.

THE first three montlus of the year 1879 have been fruitful in events

NAE

and results for France. It is difficult even to foresee what will be the ultimate consequences. Pessimists and optimists can freely indulge in the pleasures of prediction. We more modestly, not attempting to lift the veil and look ahead, shall confine ourselves to considering what has been accomplished, and pointing out the immediate subjects of dread or hope conceivable to those who wish prosperity and peace to France.

The movement impelling France for some years past in the direction of a Republic has been more rapid and deep-seated than the most farsighted had supposed. The senatorial elections of January 5th, which, according to the most favourable computations, were only to give the Republican party in the Senate à majority of twenty-five voices, resulted in a majority of fifty and more. Moreover, they were welcomed with real enthusiasm. It seemed as though henceforth every cause of strife between the public powers was removed, and as though the Republican Government would be able to continue its progressive and pacific course without let or hindrance. This charming dream was evidently one of those pia vota we form in the morning, which are dissipated by the full light of day. In his speech at the banquet at the Louvre Hotel, M. Gambetta took a clearer view of the situation, when he said, “The time of danger is over, the time of difficulties is about to begin.” There was no further reason to fear any violent action against the form of government on the part either of the executive or of the reactionary parties; but it was still very difficult to get the four steeds yoked to the car of the State to pull well together; the Chamber of Deputies ardent, inexperienced, panting for action, for

« הקודםהמשך »