« السابقةمتابعة »
judgment still in reserve. He bestows good things upon those asking for them sufficiently to demonstrate that gifts of this kind are at his disposal; He withholds good things in enough instances to teach that such are not the only rewards of His service, and to train men in godliness rather than in covetousness. From the Christian stand-point the chief concern is, not what kind of ills are suffered, but what kind of a man suffers them. No earthly evil can harm a true member of Christ. All things work together for his good, for all things are made conducive to his preparation for the heavenly estate, in which is the unspeakable blessedness of the vision of God. Now, what trust is to be reposed in
? the heathen gods as respects the bestowment of these spiritual and eternal blessings? Who would be guilty of the madness of expecting blessings of this order from the gods whose deeds are celebrated by the poets or represented in the theatres, — deeds more worthy of abhorrence than of imitation? “Shall eternal life be hoped for from these by whom this short and temporal life is polluted ?”3
In some of the philosophers, Augustine finds a much better theology than the poetical or the civil. But it is only as they approached Christian ideas, he argues, that they give any worthy ideal of man's future estate; and, as respects showing the way to that ideal, they are very poor and uncertain guides. Confessions by them. selves of their uncertainty are not wanting. “Por- . phyry (for example] says that no system of doctrine which furnishes the universal way for delivering the soul has as yet been received, either from the truest philosophy, or from the ideas and practices of the Indians, or from the reasoning of the Chaldæans, or from any source whatever, and that no historical reading had made him acquainted with that way.”i Porphyry, as Augustine states, wrote as one who had no true knowledge of Christianity. The universal way for delivering the soul has been published, and abundantly attested by prophecy and miracle and the experience of confessors and martyrs and all true believers, - the way concerning which Abraham received the divine assurance, “In thy seed shall all nations be blessed;" the way which the Saviour, after He had taken flesh of the seed of Abraham, declared, when He said of himself, “ I am the way, the truth, and the life;" the way which purifies the whole man, and prepares the mortal in his whole being for immortality.
1 i. 8.
2 This was an emphatic point of view with Augustine. The vision of God, as it shall be enjoyed in the future life, was regarded by him as the peculiar reward of righteousness. His own estimate hardly fell short of that of Plotinus, whom he quotes as saying that the vision of God is “ so infinitely desirable, that he who enjoys all other blessings in abundance, and has not this, is supremely miserable" (x. 16).
3 vi. 6.
In the course of his argument, Augustine attempts to explain or to vindicate some of the more profound doctrines of the Christian system. A considerable space is given to tracing the history of the city of God and of its earthly rival. From the beginning of human history, the antagonism between the two cities has been manifest. “The founder of the earthly city was a fratricide. Overcome with envy, he slew his own brother, a citizen of the eternal city, and a sojourner on earth," - a deed paralleled, to some extent, at the foundation of Rome; "for of that city also, as one of their poets has mentioned, the first walls were stained with a brother's blood.'”1 As were the relations in the beginning, so will they be even unto the end. The Church will con
. tinue to go forward on pilgrimage “amid the persecu. . tions of the world and the consolations of God." No earthly vision can distinguish accurately, in the present, between the bounds of the two cities. But God knows who are citizens of the one and who of the other, and an unmistakable and eternal barrier shall be set up between them by the day of judgment.
V.- NATURE AND RESULTS OF THE ALLIANCE BETWEEN
CHURCH AND STATE.
Under the first Christian emperors, the Church was not distinctly assigned the place and character of a State Church. There was no definite acknowledgment of ecclesiastical headship in the sovereign, such, for example, as was declared by the “ Act of Supremacy to belong to Henry VIII. over the Church of England. It was rather an informal alliance, that, in the first instance, was contracted. Church and State felt the uniting bond of common interests. The emperor saw that a measure of influence and agency in the affairs of the State might profitably be conceded to the Church. The Church felt that so useful an ally as the emperor ought to be allowed considerable prerogatives in her domain, that he might the more perfectly forward her interests. The extent to which imperial interference might properly go was not stated or understood; but in an age of despotic rule the concession to the temporal prince to interfere at all, in a sovereign capacity, would naturally enable him in a short time to become a most powerful factor in the affairs of the Church. The tendency of such a concession is amply illustrated by the very first Christian reign.
1 xv. 5.
Though it was not a case of the most positive union of Church and State, it was much more than a simple moral alliance between two independent factors which occurred under Constantine. He acknowledged, indeed, that it was no prerogative of his to determine the doctrinal standards of the Church; but he soon made it evident that he was not minded to assume a passive attitude toward the management of ecclesiastical interests. “ He assumed," writes Eusebius, “as it were, the functions of a general bishop, constituted by God and convened synods of His ministers." The same author reports him as having said to a company of bishops : “ You are bishops whose jurisdiction is within the Church; I, also, am a bishop, ordained by God to overlook whatever is external to the Church." 2 things external he meant simply the temporalities of the Church, he much transcended the bounds here stated. He published decrees confirming the decisions of the bishops on questions of doctrine and worship, banished ecclesiastics who refused to subscribe the standard creed, ordered the restoration of excommunicated persons in the face of episcopal opposition,3 and 1 Vita Cons., i. 44.
2 Ibid., iv. 24. 8 According to Socrates (Hist. Eccl., i. 27), he sent to Athanasius the following peremptory demand for the restoration of Arius and his partisans : “Since you have been apprised of my will, afford unhindered access into the Church to all who are desirous of entering it. For if it shall be intimated to me that you have prohibited any of those claiming to be re-united to the Church, or have hindered their admission, I will forthwith send some one, who, at iny command, shall depose you, and drive you into exile.” Evidently a power which assumed to meddle with a prerogative so vitally related to ecclesiastical supremacy as this of managing the keys did not feel any strong obligation to keep off from any part of the ecclesiastical domain.
prohibited the assemblies of various heretical and schismatic parties.
How far the Church was drawn into the circle of the State is also seen in some of the privileges and functions that were assigned to ecclesiastics. The clergy were made, if not as respects their appointment, as respects their support, officers of the State ; at least, a part of their support was ordered by Constantine to be paid out of the public treasury.
• He wrote,” says Theodoret, “to the governors of the provinces, directing that money should be given in every city to widows, orphans, and to those who were consecrated to the divine service; and he fixed the amount of their annual allowance more according to the impulse of his own generosity, than to the exigencies of their condition. The third part of the same is distributed to this day. Julian impiously withheld the whole; his successor distributed the sum which is now dispensed, the famine which then prevailed compelling him to do little.”2
A legal standing, within certain limits, was awarded the bishops as judges or arbitrators. In the previous centuries it had been a principle in the Church to prohibit brethren from carrying their disputes before the heathen tribunals. Hence the bishops had frequent
1 Euseb., Vita Cons., iii. 64; Sozomen, Hist. Eccl., ii. 32 ; Codex Theodos., Lib. XVI., Tit. v.
2 Hist. Eccl., i. 11.