« הקודםהמשך »
What God had honoured with his primary blessing, they were to deprecate : what he commanded, they were to avoid.
• As to the genuineness of these two epistles, the reader may find what is said on that lubject by Wetstein (Vol. II. Prolegom. at the end of the volume), who seems to entertain very little doubt of the matter."
• Who seems'-- caut ously and artfully said! Mr. Madan waves 'the honour of delivering his own sentiments on the subject. He confines himself to Wetstein's opinion. Not that he hath, in a moment of modesiy, deviated from his accustomed track. No! He hath only kept to his old ground with a double portion of reserve and care:--for, by sheltering himself under the shadow of a respectable authority, he hath to dexteroully managed the business, as to answer two ends. The first is his own security, in case he should be asked this question “ How could you, Mr. Madan, produce a testimony from works which are manifestly spurious ; -which have been proved to be fpurious by the strongest evidence, both internal and external, that a matter of this fort could require?” Mr. M. if thus questioned, would instantly avail himself of his own caution, and would reply-that “ he gave no opinion of his own respecting the authenticity of these Epistles; he only quoted Wetstein." But for what reason did he omit to quote Dr. Lardner? Why did he not even hint at that greater authority? Why, when he spoke of Wetstein's having little doubt of the matter,' did he avoid dropping one word that might lead his readers even to surmise that others had their doubts? Who would imagine that this subject should have been examined with the minutest care in a learned and critical dissertation, written proieliidly on it, by the great man whose name we have just mentioned? Who would imagine, that all Wetstein's arguments had been proved futile, and his authorities invalid, to the general satisfaction of the learned ?--But it was for the interest of Thelyphthora to keep this matter as much as possible out of fight; for, by this appeal to St. Clement, the Author artfully attempts (and this was his other and chief defign) to overthrow the credit of the very first Fathers of the Christian church; and, by making them vouchers for celibacy, invalidate their testimony with refpect to marriage of every kind.
Mr. M. however, hath been so unfortunate as to stumble on the very threshold of his argument. A venerable Father of the first century is charged with the extravagance of the third : and he, who in general wrote with the fimplicity of an Apoftle, is made answerable for the jargon of a Monk.
The only genuine epistle of St. Clement of Rome, is that which he addresled to the Corinthians; and which was discovered at the end of the famous Alexandrian MS. of the New Testament, and published by the order of Charles I. (to whom
it was sent as a present by Cyril, the Greek Patriach), about the middle of the last century, by his Librarian, Patrick Young; and afterwards by Colomefius, Cotelerius, Le Clerc, and others. This is the only Epistle that was acknowledged to be genuine by the most ancient Fathers. Irenæus, Dionyfius of Corinth, Hegisippus, Clemens of Alexandria, Origen, and Cyril refer only to this. Eusebius expressly fays, that this alone was regarded as authentic ; and of the authenticity of this Epistle there was no dispute. [Vid. Ecclef. Hift. lib. iii. cap. 34.) But the testimony of Jerome is still more remarkable ; for in his Catalogue of illustrious Writers, he fays, that “ Clement wrote in the name of the church of Rone to the church of Corinth an Epistle of a most edifying nature. . ... There is also a fecond Epistle which is reported to have been written by him, but which is totally rejected by the ancients." [Quæ à veteribus reprobatur. Vid. Cat. Scr. ill. c. 15.)
The testimony of Jerome then, with respect to the two Epistles published by Wetstein, muft of courle fall to the ground: though it may be somewhat difficult to account for a particular expresion of this writer in his Reply to Jovinian, which Wetstein hath produced, and Mr. M. quoted, as the chief authority to corro. borate the genuineness of the Syriac Epistles; viz. that “ Clement had written Epistles to those who had made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven; and throughout the greatest part of them had treated of the purity of virginity.” [Omnemque penė sermonem suum de Virginitatis puritate contexuit. Adv. Jov T. 4.)
Now, in the Epistle acknowledged even by Jerome himself to have been the only one that was generally admitted as authentic by the ancients, we see no trace of such a doctrine : at least, it is so faint and equivocal, that it could not have been produced as a proof by any writer who was not violently bent on supporting a darling hypothesis at any rate; and whole fancy had magnified into an evidence, what scarcely amounted to a conjecture. This only will account for Jerome's hyperbole :-a mode of speaking leldom unknown to an angry disputant; and for which this writer was pretiy remarkabit (as Dr. Grabe observes) in his books against Jovinian. Hieronymus acriter difputans contra errorem Joviniani, hyperbolicè ait-" Clementem omnem penè sermonem, &c.” Quales hyperbolicæ locutiones in ipsius fcriptis, inque ipfo iilo contra fovinianum, haud infrequentes occurrunt. (Vid. Grabii Spiced ton. i. p. 264.) Dr. Cave makes the same re. mark in his Historie Literaria. (Vid. p. 19. Edit. 1688.)
Epiphanius, who is produced as the second and latt evidence in support of the authenticity of the Epiftles published by Wetftein, fimply remarks, thac * “ Clement in his circular Epistles * Autos yap mapdorov onu'acxiv, rj Zutas 8 d x-rizo. Hürel. 30.
taught Virginity, which the Ebionites did not admit of.” This is very far from a testimony to the genuineness of these Epifties which we are now considering. The first Epistle of St. Clement to the Corinthians, wbich was universally acknowledged and received as the genuine production of that excellent Father; and the second, which also bore his name, though it was generally rejected as spurious, might be, and most probably were, the very Epistles which Epiphanius referred to. But how did they teach virginity? Only as St. Paul taught it. Or, rather, we might say—they do not teach it in language half so strong as the Apoftle. They do not teach it at all, in the manner in which Mr. Madan hath represented it. There is not a single word to discourage marriage in either of them.- As to the first, which alone deserves to be appealed to as evidence, it speaks of marriage as a divine appointment, and particularly noticeth the blessing that was pronounced on it, at its original institution. (Vid. cap. 33.) It gives exhortations to husbands and wives, without the flightest or most diftant infinuation, that such a connection was less pure, or less honourable, than virginity. . It admonisheth young persons to cultivate the general virtues of the Christian life, without once hinting at the excellence of celibacy, or offering one fingle argument or motive to encourage it. (Vid. cap. 1. & 21.)
In ihort, there is not the fainteft ray of resemblance between this Epistle and thofe published by Wetstein, either in form or feiciment. They must have been penned by a different writer, and in a different age. They bear no trace of the apostolic cimes: and must have been the production of a period when some scandainus practices and indecent modes of life had been introduced among the religious, which were totally unknown to the first Cnrı:12:15.
But what is the virginity that is really inculcated by this exceller: t Faiter? - Nothing more than that purity of heart and conduct which is so eilensial to the character of a true Christian. It enforces no rigid aud umnatural maxims of continence and mortification. To lays no harsh restraints on the common appetites and passions of human nature, it proposes no patterns of imitation but those which the Scriptures had before recommended, either as examples of faith, patience, humility, holiness, conftancy, or zeal. It admonithes Chritians to cultivate no other virtues but those which had been before commanded; and speaks of no duties but thofe which che Scriptures had repeatedly enforced. The fins it accuses had been considered as fins before : nor doch it make any thing unlawful which the word of God had left indifferent,
Dr. Lardner supposes, that the frequent admonitions to purity which we find in this Epistle, might have led Jerome (who M 3
was interested, from a motive the very reverse of Mr. Madan's, to make the most of what appeared in any degree favourable to the rigidness of his own system) to class St. Clement among the advocates for virginity. This learned writer bath produced a number of passages which Jerome might be supposed to have had in his eye. We have examined them all with particular attention; and are convinced, that if Jerome considered them as proofs of his doctrine of virginity, he must have viewed them through the thickest mists of prejudice.
The strongest expression that hath occurred to us in this Epistle, and which Jerome, perhaps, only confidered in a de tached and parual light, is the following: “ Let not him who is challe in the fish be lifted up with pride; knowing that it is another who conferred on him the power of continence.” But is there any thing in this wife and falutary caution that is in the fightest degree inconsistent with the rules of Christ or his Apostles? Is there one word in it that looks like a discouragement of marriage? By no means! The caution doth not reSpect those who live in a single state only. It is perfectly applicable to that marriage which is honourable in all :-- that which is entered into, not from those groffor motives by which lewdness is chiefly influenced ; but on those nobler and more refined principles, where love, and friend hip, and religion blend their powers, to render the union equally conducive to domestic happiness and the honour of Chriitianity.
Now, that the expression, chaste in the Arth (agvos ev in odpxo) doth not preclude marriage, but is perftetly consistent with it, when it is confirmed and hallowed by the influence of those principles we have just mentioned, is evident from the direction that is given by St. Clement to husbands, in which a similar expression is made use of. “Let us (says he) direct our wives in Ilie pactice of what is good; and let them shew forth an amiable pattern of CHASTITY.” (to avvxy CoNTOV T95 AINEIAL .905 EOS 520.Jwrc. Cap. 21.] And that the word translated conti. zence (E7%84T51) doth not aliade particularly to a state of celihacy or virginity, is evident from the concluding part of this Epistle, in which the Divine benediction is implored for all Chriftians; and the particular virtues of CONTINENCE (E7x02TETC.) and CHASTITY (ayuela) as well as faith, humility, peace, &c. &c. are earnestly solicited for every foul (TQON YUX) that invokerb the holy name of God. In thort, the words here, as in the New Testament, mean nothing more than a general habit of purity and moderation ; and this, and this only, is the virginity inculcated by St. Clement *.
We • In this large sense, continence is most excellensly defined by Cle. mens Alexandrinus : • porce yap Tezi tu appcovers 077.6 xj Tigo Ta AAAA
We have been the longer in examining this fpurious testimony, because it stands at the very head of all the other testimonies, and was designed to give the most striking force to the inference that the Author would deduce from them in favour of the lead. ing principle in this volume.
Deprived of the fanction of St. Clement's authority, he hath not the name of one single apostolic Father to adorn his page. St. Clement stands a solitary advocate for virginity in Mr. Madan's Nender and erroneous history of the first century. Not one contemporary brother to fcond him in his warfare against marriage! nor a fingle filter to chaunt at her mattins the renown of his atchievements! We wonder we had not been presented with the Aals of Paul and Thecla. They would have furnished him with illustrations Itill more replete with impious fiety, and afforded him the most delectable occasions for a display of that wit which grows so frisky, and sports itself fo frothily, whenever he comes in the way of virginity! But now, alas ! poor Clement stands alone;-un seconded, unprotected !-thougti the chalte Thecla, “bursting glorious" from the bonds of a carnal betrothment, offers him her virgin-hand to be the companion of his warfare!
Mr. Madan, not being a man of cremony, hath, at one bound, Jeaped over a whole century!-and in the Taine page hath united Clement of Rome with his name-fake of Alexandria : - whom, with infolent disdain, he calls this Cleinens ;'-and, with all the coarseness of a vulgar and illiberal buffoon, ranks some of that great man's historical relations with --- Nácther Goose's Tales.”
The Author hath totally omitted the Epifties of Ignatius and Polycarp ; together with that very ancient one attributed to St. Barnabas. He doth not so much as mention the name of Hermas. Indeed, as he could find rothing in the writings of thele men, that any way tended to confirm his argument, he wilely palied them over in profound silence.
We speak of thote Epistles of Ignatius which have been generally acknowledged. In that more doubtful one intcribed io Polycarp (and which, inde d, Mr, M. hath referred to in a former volume, under the article of horrid 1268'), we meet with the following expression : “ If a man, for the like of honour. ing Christ, and his example of purity, is able to continue in a virgin state, he hath his liberty: but let him use it without oftentation ; for if he boaits, he is undone." The expression is delicate and racional; and the sentiment it conveys is perfectly consistent with the clearest and most explicit rules of Christ and
α επιθυμεί η ψυχη κακως 8κ αρκεμενη τους αναγκαιονς η εγκρατεια αν στρίφεται. Vid. Sirom. Lib. iii. ad Init.