ePub 版

certificates, from their respective churches. And, on the other hand, ministers and private Christians deemed it their duty, and made it their practice, to join in communion with whatever church they might happen to visit in any part of the world,

A strong example of this communion was quoted before, in the case of POLYCARP of Smyrna, and Anicetus of Rome ; and that at a time when there existed warm disputes between the Asiatic and European churches.* The strain of the whole narrative in EUSEBIUS, shows that this was not an exception to, but an instance of, the ascertained and undisputed rule of churchfellowship. As, indeed, a very simple consideration fully proves. For the very intention of PoLYCARP's journey to Rome was, to prevent the communion of the Catholic church being broken by subordinate differences : and he succeeded; so that the peace of the whole church was preserved. In token whereof, he not only communicated with the church of Rome, but, at the request of ANICETUS, dispensed the Lord's supper : one of the highest acts of ministerial communion.

The whole correspondence between the African and Roman churches, as contained in the

* Eus. E. H. L. V.24.

letters to and from Cyprian, is conducted upon the same principle. Of this any one will be satisfied, who shall take the trouble to peruse them. He will perceive, that the proof of this assertion lies rather in their general cast and spirit, and in their obviously supposing the fact, than in particular expressions. A proof of all others the most decisive with those who know how to estimate proof. A particular witness may err or deceive: but public transactions between social bodies, such as organized churches, bearing upon their face the most intimate and confidential co-operation with regard to their most sacred internal concerns, and those as forming one common interest, preclude mistake and doubts, as to the fact of their social communion. Such is the character of the transactions mentioned in the correspondence of CYPRIAN. It cannot, there, fore, be produced at length here, because that would require the transcription of a volume. But for the sake of those to whom a case is more satisfactory than a principle, I subjoin an extract from CYPRIAN's thirty-second epistle, written to the Presbyters and Deacons of Carthage during his exile.

Speaking of the letters which he had addressed to the clergy at Rome, and of their answers. he says, “Be as careful as possible, that what both

[ocr errors]

I and they have written, be made known to the brethren. And, moreover, if there should be present with you, or should happen to arrive, any foreign Bishops, my colleagues, or Presbyters, or Deacons, let them hear the whole. And should they wish copies of these letters to carry back to their connexions, aid them in the transcription : although I have charged our brother SATURUS, the Reader, to let all who may desire it have an opportunity of transcribing them, that somehow or other adjusting, in the interim, the state of the churches, one harmonious plan may be pursued

by all."*

Two things appear to be settled by this letter:

(1.) CYPRIAN would hardly dignify with the appellation of his “colleagues," or invite to cooperation with himself in the affairs of his own church, ministers with whom he did not, or would not, hold communion.

(2.) As these ministers, to whom his correspon

* Vos curate quantum potestis pro diligentiâ vestra, ut scripta nostra, et illorum rescripta fratribus nostris innotescant. Sed et si qui de peregrinis Episcopi Collegæ mei, vel Presbyteri, vel Diacones præsentes fuerint, vel supervenerint, hæc omnia de vobis audiant ; et si exempla epistolarum transcribere, et ad suos perferre voluerint, facultaten transcriptionis accipiant. Quamvis et Saturo Lectori fratri nostro mandaverim, ut singulis desiderantibus describendi faciat potestatem, ut in Ecclesiarum statu quoquomodo interim componendo servetur omnibus upa et fida consensio.

Cyp. ep. 82. ed. FELL. p. 63.


dence with the Roman ministry was to be im-
parted, belonged neither to the African nor Ro-
man church, but were “foreigners,(peregrinis)
it is clear, that the most intimate ministerial com-
munications was maintained with churches of
different nations and distant places.
Observations like those


general correspondence, are applicable to the letters of ATHANASIUS, written at various times to various individuals, orders, and churches. But, for brevity's sake here also, one example shall suffice:

“There frequently comes to the city, a man well qualified to preach in Greek. Whoever study the gratification of their ears, hasten to church, not to get healing to their souls, but merely to catch the beauty of the composition. * The eloquent speaker goes away; these tares also go from the church, for they have nothing of the wheat, nothing of faith. But the believer, however elegantly the preacher speaks, makes it his business to attend to what is said, whether it be in the Syrian, Roman, or any other tongue. For he regards the matter, not the words.??? Alexandria, the city to which ATHANASIUS alludes, was the metropolis of what is known in history as the Egyptian Diocese.t

* That evil disease, the religious itch, which impoverishes the soul to tickle the ear, is not only of long standing, but of inveterate malignity. None languish more pitiably under its venom than those who wish to be thought elegant Christians. Let them pause--they are likely to pay dear for a worthless gratification ; as “itching ears” naturally“ turn away from the TRUTH, and are turned unto FABLES."

From this extract, it is clear, that the churches of Egypt, Syria, Italy, Greece, and indeed of the whole world, held Christian and ministerial com


* Παραγινεται πολλακις εις αολιν ανως δυναμενος διδασκειν Ελληνιστι. “ο την ακοην θελγομενος σπευδει εις την εκκλησιαν, ου την ιατρειαν της ψυχής, αλλα των λογών το κάλλος μονον αρπασαι. Ανεχώρησεν ο ευγλωττως λαλων, ανεχώρησε και της εκκλησιας το ζιζανιον· ου γαρ εχει το σιτωδες,

“ο δε αιστος, καν ευγλωττως (α) λεγή, τα λεγομενα σπίυδαζει κατακουειν καν Συριστι, καν Ρωμαιστι, καν διαφορώ γλωττη: ου γας ζητει λογους, αλλ' εξγα. ATUAN. Hom. de Semente, Opp. T. II. 63.

cd. BENEDICT. 1698. Fol."

+ Diæcesis Aegyptiaca. According to Bingham, the Archbishop of Alexandria, (at this time ATHANASIUS himself,) by whom the diocese was governed, had under him not only about one hundred bie shops, but it seems also, subordinate Metropolitans or Archbishops ; so as

to have the ordering of ecclesiastical matters throughout all * Egypt, Thebais, Mareotes, Libya, Ammoniaca, Mareotis, and Pentam polis ;" i. e. a district comprehending several large provinces, exceeding together nine hundred miles in length, and five hundred in breadth. Was this too an apostolic ordinance ? Was this no alteration in the primitive order of the church ? Yet we see that it did not break communion.

(a) Vide Cotelerii annot. ad Const. A post. Lib. II. c. 58. T. I. p. 269. This learned editor proposes to amend the text of Athanasius, by adding, after sugAWITws, the words x vagiotTWs, so as to read whether elegantly or inelegantly." But the addition is unnecessary, if not hurtful, to the sense: the point of which is, that serious Christians are not to be put off with the eloquence of stile or manner. They look for something more and something better. They look for their spiritual food in the "doc trine which is according to Godliness.” This will compensate them for the want of fine elocution, but the onest elocution will pot compensate for the want ef thise

« 上一頁繼續 »