ePub 版

of nature and reason taught it, and the Gospel confirmed those dictates :

Scimus, et hoc nobis non altius imprimet Ammon. Cyprian was made bishop of Carthage, A. D. 248. It hath been said of him that he was fond of spiritual power, and it cannot entirely be denied : but he had factious ecclesiastics and troublesome schismatics to deal with, which might lead him to insist somewhat the more on his prerogatives ; and it is certain that in one point he was for restraining episcopal encroachments. He highly approved and recommended the method of appealing to the people in the election of bishops, and of asking their consent and approbation, and of allowing them a negative. He thought that the bishops of a province had no right to make a cabal, and elect a bishop secretly by themselves, and obtrude him upon the church. But after Christianity was the established and the ruling religion, great inconveniences, and tumults, and seditions, and massacres arose from the popular elections of bishops ; and ecclesiastical preferments became more * lucrative, and were thought more worthy of a battle, or of mean tricks and sollicitations.

omnium rerum vicissitudo est. Cyprian upon all occasions † consulted his own clergy and people, and desired their consent. The bishops of Rome at that time began to take upon


Cum ligneis uteremur calicibus, aureos sacerdotes habebamus : nunc aureos habemus calices, ligneos sacerdotes. Bonifacius Decret. part. iii. de Consecrat. distinct. i. can. 44.

+ Episcopus sine consilio clericorum suorum clericos non ordinet, et civium testimonium quærat, say the canons of the fourth council of Carthage A. D. 398. if they be genuine. The canon however is very reasonable.

them and to domincer; and Stephen, dealing about his censures and excommunications, behaved himself with indecency and arrogance towards Cyprian and inany others in the affair of rebaptizing.

In a council of Carthage consisting of eighty-seven bishops, Cyprian said to them, None of us ought to set himself up as a bishop of bishops, or pretend tyrannically to constrain his colleagues, because each bishop hath a liberty and a power to act as he thinks fit, and can na more be judged by another bishop, than he can judge another. But we must all wait for the judgment of Jesus Christ, to whom alone belongs the power to set us over the church, and to judge of our actions. Du Pin inserted these words in his Biblioth. i. p. 164. to buffet the pope by the hand of Cyprian.

Many passages there are in Cyprian's writings containing high notions of episcopal authority and ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Whilst he strenuously opposed the domination of one pope, he seemed in some inanner to make as many popes as bishops, and mere Arithmetical Noughts of the rest of the Christians; which yet, I believe, was not his intent.

In the persecution under Decius, he fed from Carthage, and was proscribed, and his effects were seized. He was censured by some persons as a deserter of his Aock; but the decent constancy and the Christian piety with which he laid down his life afterwards, afford a presumption that he had not retired for want of courage.

His death was lamented even by many of the Pagans, whose esteem he had gained by his aftable and charitable behaviour.

Ile often talks of his visions and revelations, some of which he bad on occasions which in all appearance


were small and inconsiderable enough, whilst he had none to guide him and set him right in points of more importance. He appeals to these visions, and makes use of them to justify his conduct. It would be dealing too severely with him, considering his character in other respects, to ascribe this entirely to artifice and policy, and it would be more candid and charitable to suppose, that with much piety he had a mixture of African enthusiasm, and that what he thought upon in the day, he dreamed of at night, and the next morning took his dreams for divine admonitions. Some perhaps will chuse to leave it ambiguous

-dum Elias venerit.

In his treatise de Lapsis, he relates some strange miracles, one of which is, that the consecrated bread was turned into a cinder *, in the hands of a profane person, who thus found, according to the proverb, Pro thesauro carbones.


Macarius of Alexandria, a celebrated monk and saint of the fourth century, is said to have related this story, that when the monks approached to the holy communion, and stretched out their hand to receive it, devils under the figure of little ugly Æthiopian boys (who were only visible to Macarius) prevented the officiating Priest, and gave to some of them coals instead of the consecrated bread, which bread, though to bystanders it seemed to be given by the Priest and received by these monks, returned back again to the altar : whilst other Monks, who were more pious and better disposed, when they approached to receive the sacrament, chased the evil spirits away, who fled with great terror and precipitation, because an angel, who assisted at the altar, put his hand upon the hand of the Presbyter when he delivered the sacrament to these good men. This account is in the Vile Pairum, and inserted, with a thousand more stories of the same kind, in Tillemont, H. E. viji. 641. To such a degree of boldness of feigning miracles, and the facility of admitting them, was carried in those days!

When the Corinthians shewed a want of reverence and decency in receiving the Lord's Supper, what was the consequence? For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, und many sleep. The correction was solemn and tremendous : but of these transformations what can we say ? and how can we give credit to them?

There is a story of the same kind, of bread turned into a stone, related by Sozomen. An heretic of the sect of the Macedonians had a wife of the same sect. The man was converted by Chrysostom, and used many arguments, in vain, to bring over his stubborn spouse. At last he told her, that if she would not receive the Lord's Supper with him at church, he would live with her no longer. She consented, but was resolved to deceive him and instead of eating the bread which the minister gave her, she took some which she had brought with her ; but as she was biting it, it was turned into a stone in her mouth, a stone neither in substance or colour like other stones, and bearing upon it the impression of her teeth, &c. which made her repent, and publicly confess her crime. viii. 5. This happened about the end of the fourth century, and Sozomen can supply us with an hundred miracles as good. His sending unbelievers to the church to look at the stone which was kept there as a rarity, was very judicious.

We have an account of a far prettier and stranger stone than this, in Morhof, who had it from some editions of Thuanus : Mirabilis istius lapidis historia animo obrersatur, Regi Gallue Henrico secundo per igntum aliquem Burbarum oblati. Illam quidem nurrut Thuanus, in prima illu editione minori Parisina part. i. lib. 5. pag. 453. Reperitur et in Francofurtensi prinu Dd



in fol. alteraque octuvo forme lib. vi. pag. ibi 217. hic 286. Sed in ceteris editionibus verba illa, nescio quam ob causam sublata. Pipinus, ad cujus testimonium provocat Thuanus, de eo ita ad Mizaldum scribit : Nuper ex India Orientali Regi nostro allatum hic vidimus lapidem, lumine et fulgore mirabiliter coruscantem : quique totus veluti ardens et incensus incredibili lucis splendore præfulget micatque. Is jactis quoquo versus radiis ambientem circumquaque aërem luce, nullis oculis fere tolerabili, latissime complet. Est etiam (quod bene notari velim) terræ impatientissimus : si cooperiri coneris, sua sponte et vi, facto impetu, confestim cvolat in sublime. Contineri vero includive loco nullo angusto nulla potest hominum arte, sed ampla liberaque loca duntaxat amare videtur. Summa in eo puritas, summus nitor : nulla sorde aut labe coinquinatur. Figura species nulla ei certa, sed inconstans et moinento commutabilis : cumque sit aspectu longe pulclerrimus, contrectari sese tamen non sinit, et si diutius adnitaris, vel obstinatius agas, incommodum affert : sicuti multi suo non levi malo, me præsente sunt experti. Quod si quid fortassis ex eo enixius conando adimitur, aut detrahitur, nam durus admodum non est, fit, dictu mirum, nihilo minor. Hæc Pipinus, que miranda sunt, fc. Morhof. Polyhist. L. i. c. 13. p. 127.

Some part of this description may suit well enough with a phosphorus : but there seems to be a double meaning, and perhaps by the stone we are to understand an allegorical and philosophical stone, representing Urim and Thummim, light and truth; a present fit to be made to kings, though seldom acceptable to them; a jewel whose lustre is sometimes too bright and dazzling for mortal cyes; which cannot be suppressed,


[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »