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selves to the elders, he unites so much humility and Christian gentleness with his advice, that the most haughty spirit could not have been offended with the meek reproofs of this amiable monitor. “Let us," says he, “ pray for such as are fallen into sin, that humility and moderation may be granted to them, so that they may submit themselves not to us but to the will of God; for by this means they shall receive a fruitful and perfect remembrance with mercy both in our mention of them to God and to the saints.* Let us receive correction at which no one ought to be offended. Beloved, the reproof and the correction which we exercise towards one another is good, and exceedingly profitable ; for it unites us more closely to the will of God."
Clement does not assume the name or office of a Bishop: the exordium of the Epistle makes mention only of the Church, " the Church of God which is at Rome to the Church of God which is at Corinth, to the called, the sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, grace to you and peace from Almighty God through Jesus Christ be multiplied unto you,"—words by which we gather that towards the close of the first century the episcopal office, at Rome at least, had not been elevated in any way to the depression of the whole body of believers. Widely different indeed would be the form of salutation and the whole contents of any epistle sent in these days to a Christian Church from an episcopalian body. The power of the. Roman Court, or the prerogatives of Lambeth, would be exhibited in a totally different style of address an admonition. No prelate of our times would allow a letter to be sent from his diocese with such a prefatory salutation as Clement “ the Bishop of Rome,” transmitted to the Corinthians: it would be considered a virtual denial of the Episcopal office.
Blondel has noticed the peculiarity of this passage; and from the omission of the episcopalian office, draws an inference in favour of the perfect equality of all the Elders with the Bishop, but Cotelerius, the Romanist, indignant at this attack on three orders," unintentionally places the question in its true light; “ If,” says he, " these Presbyterians would argue rightly from their principles, they ought rather to come to this conclusion, that the laity, Presbyters, and Bishops all had equal rights, and thus would they introduce an anarchy into the Church,—that most melancholy state of affairs against which Clemens contended throughout the whole of his Epistle.” This, however, was precisely the state of affairs then generally established, the equality of the whole body of believers, distinguished only by respect and affection for certain individuals who exercised the gift of teaching or of government. The general tenor of the Epistle of Clemens shews that the office of elder or overseer was one of love and not of law, though there is also, in this Epistle, indication that the new principle was already germinating, and that the Judaic theory of the priesthood was about to commence its deadly usurpation in the Church of God. The whole passage in which the new principle is developed, or rather suggested, should be studied, as it is one of no little importance in Church History. “ These things being manifest to us, we, looking down into the depths of divine knowledge, ought to do all things in order, whatsoever the Lord commandeth us to do. He enjoined us to perform our offerings and services at the appointed time, not by chance and without arrangement, but at fixed times and hours; and where, also, and by what persons he wishes them to be performed, he himself has determined by his supreme will, in order that all things, being done piously according to his good pleasure, may be in accordance with his will. They, therefore, who perform their offerings in the times fixed beforehand, are acceptable and blessed ; for they who follow the prescriptions Tous Vopipois of the Lord,
For to the High Priest are distributed proper services, and the proper place is before arranged for the priests, and the proper ministries lie on the Levites ; the layman also is bound with those things which are enjoined to laymen— laikos aydpwroc toiç Naikoig apootayuaoiv dedetai—Let every one of you, my Brethren, give thanks to God, in his proper rank, continuing in a good conscience, and with gravity of conduct, not transgressing the ascribed rule of his service. The daily sacrifices are not offered every where, whether they be of prayers, or for sin and transgression, but
do not err.
* Ουτως γαρ εσται αυτοις εγκαρπος και τελεια ή προς τον θεον και τους αγιους μετ' οικτιρμων μνεία.
“ The Saints" here mean the Christians : Clement used the language of Scripture on these points (See Rom. i. 7; 1 Cor. i. 2; 2 Cor. i. 1 ; Eph. i. 1 ; ii. 19; Col. i. 2; Philem. 5.
only in Jerusalem ; and even there the offering is not every where, but before the temple at the altar, that which is offered having been first examined by the High Priest and the Ministers already mentioned. They, therefore, who do any thing (in the law) contrary to his will, suffer death as their punishment. Consider then, my Brethren, that in proportion to that greater knowledge of which we hure been thought worthy, to so much greater danger are we exposed. The Apostles preached to us the Gospel, from our Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ, from God. Christ, then, was sent forth from God, and the Apostles from Christ; so that, in both cases, it was done in good order by the will of God. The Apostles, then, having received their injunctions, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and having been confirmed in their faith by the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, went forth to announce the glad tidings that the kingdom of God was at hand: and so preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits (of their ministry), having proved them by the Spirit, to be Overseers and Ministers (Bishops and Deacons) of those who should afterwards believe. . And this was not a new device (or this was not then done newly), for seeing that long before it had been written concerning overseers and ministers," I will appoint their Overseers in righteousness, and their Ministers in faith, (Is. lx. 17). He then states at length the Scripture narrative of Aaron's rod, by the blossoming of which the exclusive right of his family to the priesthood was established (Num. xvii), on which he makes the following comment, “ So, likewise, the Apostles knew that there would be a contention about the name of the overseer's office (INS ETLOKOTNS): for this cause, they having received a perfect foreknowledge, appointed those who have been already mentioned, and afterwards gave direction that when they should depart (i. e. die), other men should receive their ministry. Now we think that those are unjustly ejected from their ministry who were appointed by them (the Apostles), or afterwards by other men of consideration-elloyeuwv avòpwv—with the full consent of the whole Church, and who, without blame, in all lowliness ministered to the flock of Christ, quietly, and disinterestedly, and who for a long time were commended by all. It would be no small sin if we should eject from the overseer's office—INSETOKOTENSthose who without blame, and all holiness, fulfil the duties of it. Blessed are those* Elders, who have finished their course before these times, and who have btained a fruitful and perfect release ; for they have no apprehension lest any one should turn them out of the place which has been established for them. But we see how you have ejected some who lived reputably amongst you from that ministry which had been adorned by their blameless conduct.”
Here the Judaic theory is first introduced as a suggestion—the argument is plausible—it is this, “ All things were done by arrangement of rank and office of the law, -in the law there was the High Priest, the Priest, the Levite, and the Laity. Under the new dispensation, Christ appointed the Apostles, the Apostles appointed the first Overseers of the Churches, and made arrangements that the Churches should
* Elders #peoßevtEpou: Archbishop Wake translates the word Priests, and Mr. Chevalier, without any visible scruple, and hitherto unrebuked by any one, practises the same trick on his readers. How little can these arts of churchmen avail ! and how sad it is to behold them thus intentionally concealing the truth, for the furtherance of priestcraft.
The object of this translation is apparent: Clemens in the words immediately preceding, says, “ It would be no small sin in us, if we should eject from the Overseer's office, or episcopacy, TNS ETLOKOTNS, those who holily fulfil its duties-blessed are those Elders,” &c.-if the Archbishop and Mr. Chevalier had so translated the Greek, it would have been obvious at first sight, that the Elders and the Bishops were one and the same; and that there were several Bishops in the Church at Corinth, hence they seek to avoid the difficulty by coiping the word “ Priests” for the occasion ; for all Bishops are Priests, according to their theory, though not all Priests are Bishops. A little further on, they quietly repeat the deception, “ It is a shame to hear that the ancient and most firm Church of the Corinthians should, by one or two persons, be led into a sedition against its Priests,"—. e. Elders, peoßeutepovs. Thus do these Ecclesiastics conceal the two facts, that the Elders and the Bishops were identical, and that there was a plurality of them in the Churches: and thus do they leave an impression on their readers, that there was an order of “ Priests" distinct from tbe laity. In other passages, they translate the word “ Elders,” or “ Aged,” as it may suit their purpose.
not, for the future, be left without such guardians. In proportion, therefore, to the excellence of the Gospel, so ought there to be respect shewn to the Ministers of the Gospel, who take the place of the Mosaic Priests, and are, as it were, a new priesthood of more excellent prerogatives.” Clemens does not, indeed, state so much as this, but he insinuates it; and the tendency of his argument is to establish this point. In the next century and onwards, the new Judaism was boldly preached by the Fathers; and it is held and believed to this day wherever prelacy is established. Here, also, “ the laity” is not indeed mentioned as a part of the Church of Christ; but by analogy such an order is suggested, though it is quite clear that “ the laity” of the passage refers not to the Christian but to the Levitical dispensation.* The strong temptation of endeavouring to terminate all divisions in the Churches, by establishing a body of clerical governors, made the Fathers too glad to revive the Judaic principle: but clerical governors cannot exist without a distinction between clergy and laity; and when this distinction exists, the evangelical dispensation disappears, and the law revives. The regermination of Judaism might have been anticipated as near at hand, by the line of argument pursued in this Epistle. The Dragon's teeth were now sown in the soil of the Church, and out of them, ere long, was to come forth a mournful harvest of a new Brahminical caste.
But whilst the train of thought pursued by this worthy man, in contemplating the divisions and quarrels of the Church at Corinth, lead him into a line of argument of which he did not foresee the dangerous consequences, it is quite manifest, by the general tenor of his Epistle, that he still considered the whole body of believers to be the depository of all Church government, “ Who among you," says he, “ is generous ? who is compassionate ? who is there filled with charity ? let him say, if on my account there is disagreement, and strife, and separations, I go, I depart, whithersoever ye will, and I will do all things commanded by the whole multitude of believers-only let the flock of Christ, with their appointed Elders, be at peace.” To obey the commands of the people, was the course recommended by Clement.
There is also an interesting proof that the position of believers in the Church according to the gifts they had received, was not yet abolished—“Let therefore our whole body be saved in Christ Jesus; and let each be subject to his neighbour, according to the order in which he has been placed by the gift of God. Let not the strong scorn the weak; and let the weak reverence the strong" (xxxviii). Let any one be faithful, let any one be powerful to utter forth knowledge, let any one be wise in a correct discernment of words, let him be holy in works, by so much the more ought he to be humble, in proportion as he seems to himself superior, and to seek what is for the common benefit of all, and not of himself alone” (xlviii).
These sentences may be compared with the statements of Church order in the second chapter of this history, which, it will be found, they help not a little to elucidate.
Among the objections which Photius raises against the Epistle of Clemens, one is “ that though he names our Lord Jesus Christ, as High Priest and Ruler #pootarny, he makes use of no exalted expressions respecting him, nor such as are suitable to God, θεοπρεπεις και υψηλοτερας φωνας. Nevertheless he does not any where openly say any thing injurious of (or blaspheme) our Lord.” . It is true, that Clemens frequently mentions Christ as our High Priest; but in a passage which must have escaped the observation of Photius, he acknowledges him to be God: “ Ye were satisfied with the provision of God, and diligently hearkening to his word, ye were enlarged in your bowels, and his sufferings were before your eyes.” This is an indirect and incidental testimony, more strong, perhaps, as shewing the unstudied and habitual opinion of the writer.
Ignatius, of whose birth, country, and previous history, nothing certain can be reported, became Bishop of Antioch, the metropolis of Syria, about the year 70. Tradition has asserted that he was a disciple of John the Evangelist; the Aposto
* «Νam quod αρχιερεα Λευιτας et λαικους nominat omnia ista nomina non ad ecclesiam sed ad templum Hierosolymiticum pertinent, unde infert omnia ordine agendæ ; si Judæis tanto magis Christianis." Grotius.
lical Constitutions make him to have been ordained by Paul; others say by Peter also, and others by Peter alone. Eusebius informs us that after Peter he was the second in the Episcopacy of Antioch. His predecessor is said to have been Euodius. All that we really know of Ignatius, is to be gathered from the book of his martyrdom and the Epistles which go by his name. The book of his martyrdom informs us that he was a disciple of John the Apostle, that he was a man in all respects apostolical -vir in omnibus apostolicus— when the persecution (of Domitian) was, for the present, somewhat abated, he rejoiced greatly at the tranquillity of the Church. He considered, however, with himself that he should never be able to come up fully to the love of God, nor to obtain the perfect rank (or stage) of doctrine, unless he should approach to the Lord by the confession of martyrdom. Wherefore, having continued a few years longer with the Church, illuminating, like a divine lamp, the heart of every man by the exposition of the Holy Scriptures, he obtained the object of his wishes." The narrative then states, that when the Emperor Trajan was at Antioch, and was about to set out on his Parthian expedition, theChristians were threatened with persecution by his commands,“ so that terror compelled all men of godly lives either to sacrifice to the Heathen gods or to die.” Ignatius, therefore, fearing for the Church at Antioch, voluntarily went before the Emperor to confess himself a Christian. Ignatius on being interrogated, told the Emperor that he carried Christ within his breast. Trajan then put this question to Ignatius, “ Do we not then seem to have the gods within us, who fight for us against our enemies ?" Ignatius replied, that all the gods were evil spirits, and that there was but one God who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that are in them, and one Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son. The Emperor asked if he spoke of that person who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and if he carried the crucified one within him ? Ignatius answered “ that he did ; for it is written, Idwell in them and walk in them.” Trajan then pronounced sentence, “ that Ignatius, who confessed that he carried the crucified one within him, should be conveyed by soldiers to Rome, and be thrown to the wild beasts for the entertainment of the people.". In the course of his journey to Rome, in which he was roughly treated by the military escort, he wrote the letters to the Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Romans, Philadelphians, and Smyrneans, and also one to Polycarp, the Bishop of the Church at Smyrna. The four first Epistles of the list he wrote from Smyrna, during his hurried stay there ; the other letters were written from Troas. As soon as he arrived at Rome, on the last day of the public spectacles, he was thrown to the wild beasts in the amphitheatre, and was quickly devoured by them, “ only the more solid parts of his holy remains were left, which were carried to Antioch, and wrapped in linen, as an inestimable treasure left to the Holy Church, by the grace which was in the martyr."
The date of the death of Ignatius is uncertain : the Acts of his martyrdom place it in the year 107 ; but other writers find many plausible arguments for the year 116.
Into the voluminous controversy of the authenticity of the letters of Ignatius, it is not our intention to enter. We shall concede the authenticity, and examine the contents of the Epistles, as they now stand in the edition of Cotelerius, as we have no objection to meet the prelatical argument on that ground where its advocates suppose their position is the strongest.
If Ignatius is to be considered a holy teacher of the Church of God, his conduct as a Christian will, of course, not only bear examination, but command respect. If his authority is to secure our acquiescence in matters of doctrine, we must, at least
, be satisfied that his example is authoritative also: and if he is to lead believers in “ faith,” he must also be such, as to lead them “in conversation, spirit, and purity" (1 Tim. iv. 12). Now though it would scarcely be questioned, that Ignatius was a devout man, and full of religious zeal, and though it may be conjectured, with much probability that he was an affectionate pastor, and that his morals were blameless, yet it is also evident that his zeal was so tinctured with error and imprudence, as both to vitiate his doctrine, and to render very questionable the last great act of his life. The record of his martyrdom very fully informs us that he was not satisfied with his Christian attainment, and that “ he thought he should never come up fully
, to the love of God, unless he approached the Lord by the
confession of martydom." With such thoughts in his mind," he at last obtained the object of his wishes.”—To wish for martydom is to wish for death; and, animated by this wish, it seems that
Ignatius went into the lion's den: he sought out the Emperor, who was then passing through Antioch, and ran into danger which might have been avoided by a different line of conduct. One of his motives in this proceeding seems to have been, that he might avert the danger from others, by a sacrifice of himself: and let this motive have all the merit that it deserves; but that the desire of attaining the crown of martyrdom was a still stronger motive is fully proved by several passages in his Epistle to the Roman Church which he wrote from Smyrna on his journey to Rome. In that Epistle he thus deprecates any interference of the Christians at Rome on his behalf; he evidently fears lest they should do something which might prevent his martyrdom : " I fear your love, lest injure me,-it is difficult for me to attain unto God, if ye be too indulgent to me. I shall now have such an opportunity of attaining unto God; nor will your names ever be inscribed upon a better work; if ye keep silence, if ye are silent with respect to me, I shall be made partaker of God, but if ye love my flesh, I shall aguin have my course to run. Ye can do me no greater favour, than to suffer me to be offered up to God, now that the altar is prepared. I beseech you that ye shew not an unreasonable good-will towards me: suffer me to be the food of wild beasts, by which I may attain unto God. I am the wheat of God, and by the teeth of wild beasts I shall be ground, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ. Rather encourage the wild beasts, that they may become my sepulchre, and may leave nothing of my body—then shall I truly be a disciple of Christ, when the world shall not see so much as my body. Pray to Christ for me, that by these instruments I may be made a sacrifice-may I enjoy the wild beasts which are prepared for me; and pray that they may be found ready for me; which I will ever encourage to devour me all at once, and not fear to touch me, as they have some others. And even if they refuse und will not, I will compel them. Bear with me in this, I know what is profitable for me: now begin to be a disciple.” A resolute determination to commit suicide seems involved in these expressions; and ill do they accord with the precept of our Lord, “When they persecute you in .one city fiee unto another.” Peter, when he was in prison, marked out for death by Herod, spoke not, thought not in this strain; neither is any thing resembling it recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Did not the spirit of egotism and of impatience, more than the Spirit of Christ, animate Ignatius in all the steps that he took to secure his martyrdom? To the Smyrneans he speaks the same language, “ Wherefore then have I given myself over unto death, to fire, to sword, to wild beasts? But now the nearer I am to the sword, the nearer to God. When I am among the wild beasts I am with God.” Of his chains, he says, in the Epistle to the Smyrneans,“ being sent from Antioch with chains which are the fittest ornament of a servant of God I salute all the Churches." To the Ephesians he says, “ Christ Jesus, for whom also I bear about these bonds, these spiritual jewels, or pearls—TOUS avevPatikovs papyapıraç-in which I would to God I might arise, through your prayers.”
How different are these sentiments from the memorable words which Paul uttered before Festus and Agrippa, “ I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, ercept these bonds” (Acts xxvi. 29). The language of Paul is of Christian patience, that of Ignatius of exalted enthusiasm. The spirit of the Bishop of Antioch was but too faithfully imitated by the Christians in some of the subsequent persecutions of the Church. Ignatius seems to have thought that his death would be an acceptable sacrifice and expiation for the Church: to the Ephesians, he says, May my soul be for yours,* and I myself be the expiatory offering for your Church at Ephesus, so famous in all ages. May my soul be your expiation, not only now, but when I shall have attained to God" (Prali. 13): and to Polycarp he says, “ In all things, I and my bonds which thou has loved, will by thy surety” (2): and full of this notion that his life would be
This is the translation given by Archbishop Wake and Mr. Chevalier; and as Vossius confidently asserts that there is some error in the Greek here, we have followed the translation made on bis proposed correction of the text. The meaning of the Greek, however, as it stands uncorrected is this, “ I am your purgation, and of the most pure Church of the Ephesians.” Another reading, authorised by two manuscripts, would give a totally different sense. The old Latin version interprets the text, “ I am your purgation,” &c. The other rendering of the passage would be thus, “ Ye have cast out your filth, and that of the most pure Church," &c. which, judging by the context, we suspect would be the correct one.