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النشر الإلكتروني

TIE

CREDIBILITY

OF THE

GOSPEL HISTORY,

OR,

THE PRINCIPAL FACTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CONFIRMED BY PASSAGES OF ANCIENT

AUTHORS WHO WERE CONTEMPORARY WITH OUR SAVIOUR, OR HIS

APOSTLES, OR LIVED NEAR THEIR TINE,

PART II.

VOL. I.

B

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I. His history, and character, and testimonies to him. II. His works. III. His testimony to the

books of the New Testament ; and first, of the four gospels. IV. Of the Acts of the Apostles. V. Of St. Paul's thirteen epistles. Vi. Of the epistle to the Heörews. VII. Of the catholic epistles. VIII. Of the Revelation. IX. Respect for the scriptures. X. General titles and dirisions of the scriptures. XI. Of Christian apocryphal writings. XII. Of Jewish apocryphal writings. XIII, The sum of his testimony.

The account which St. Jerom has given of St. Cyprian, in his book of Illustrious Men, is but short. It is to this purpose: Cyprian of Africa first taught rhetoric with great applause. After* wards, being converted to Christianity by a presbyter named Cæcilius, whose name he also * took, he gave all his estate to the poor ; and after no long time he was made presbyter, and * then bishop of Carthage. It is needless to give a catalogue of his works, which are brighter * than the sun.

He suffered under the emperor Valerian and Gallienus, in the eighth persecu* tion, the same day that Cornelius died at Rome, but not in the same year.'

A more particular history of St. Cyprian may be collected from his life, written by his deacon Pontius, from his own works, the mention made of him by other ecclesiastical writers, and those Acts of his martyrdom, which are generally reckoned genuine, and are allowed by Basnage to contain for the most part matters of fact truly related, though he thinks they have some interpolations. It is fit I should here give a short history of this celebrated bishop of the third century.

Beside the name of Cyprian, he had that of Thascius; and bore likewise as we have already seen, the name of Cæcilius, from the presbyter by whom he was converted. His whole name therefore was Thascius Cæcilius Cyprianus. He was an African, as we have been assured by Jerom; but that he was born at Carthage is not certain. His conversion happened, according

* Cyprianus Afer, primum gloriose rhetoricam docuit : sed non eodem anno. De V. I. cap. 67. exinde, suadente presbytero Cæcilio, a quo et cognomentum • Non enim legitima omnino sunt atque sincera, quæ cum sortitus est, Christianus factus, omnem substantiam suam pau- Cypriani operibus edita sunt ex Vet

, Cod. Ms. Etsi multa peribus erogavit ; ac post non multum temporis electus in in illis verissima contineri, faciles largiamur. Annal. Polit. presbyterum, etiam episcopus Carthaginiensis constitutus est. Ecc, 257. num. 5. Hujus ingenii superfluum est indicem texere, cum sole clariora Cyprianus qui et Thascius. ... Pupieno S. Ep. Cyprian. sint ejus opera. Passus est sub Valeriano et Gallieno principi- 66. [al. 69.) Vid. et Passionis Act. p. 13. bus, persecutione octava, eodem die quo Romæ Cornelius,

to · bishop Pearson, in the year 246: and therefore, since he suffered martyrdom in the year 258, the greatest part of his life was spent in heathenism, and he might be born before the end of the second century. Cæciliuso was not only a presbyter by office, in the church of Carthage, but venerable likewise for his age, at the time of Cyprian's conversion.

Jerom says, that Cyprian, in the former part of his life, taught rhetoric with great applause. Lactantius .writes to the same purpose ; and the like occurs " in Eusebius's Chronicle. Fabric cius, however, was of opinion, that Cyprian rather shewed his eloquence at the bar, than taught it in the schools; which, he thinks, may be concluded from what Cyprian' himself has intimated of his having lived in great plenty and splendour: but the words which that learned writer refers to, need not s to be understood as a description of Cyprian's own circumstances. Undoubtedly Cyprian had a good estate, which he sold, and gave to the poor, soon after his conversion, as Jerom informs us; and still more particularly - Pontius, who mentions this as one of the extraordinary actions of Cyprian before baptism, whilst he was yet a catechumen : but Jerom, who was not ignorant, as it seems, of our bishop's circumstances, and has often mentioned him in his works, and had a great opinion of his eloquence, never gives him the title or character of a pleader, or a magistrate ; and in one * place, beside that already quoted from his Catalogue of Ecclesiastical Writers, expressly says, that Cyprian taught rhetoric at Carthage. Not to add, that what he said of Cyprian to the same purpose' in the Chronicle ought to be reckoned Jerom's rather than Eusebius's. And that Cyprian taught rhetoric in the schools is plainly said " by St. Augustine, who must be reckoned a material evidence. But I do not perceive him, or any one else to say, that Cyprian ever pleaded, or exercised the office of a magistrate.. And in that way he might come to have a good estate, and be greatly respected. The profession of rhetoric could not but be very profitable " at that time, especially if the professor himself was a man of ability in his way, as Cyprian was. Possibly Cyprian had a stated salary: if not, the gratuities of his numerous scholars could not but be very considerable. His reputation being great, alt the youth in general in those parts, who were of any fortune, or who aimed to be magistrates and judges, or pleaders would come to his school. Besides, Cyprian was not only master of the theory of his art, but of the practical part likewise. He not only understood the rules of rhetoric, and how to teach others eloquence, but he was also eloquent himself; and very probably composed for others arguments, or pleadings, or harangues, or panegyrics, and such like discourses, for · which he would be well recompensed: and in these two things, teaching persons rhetoric, or qualifying them for the bar, and perhaps sometimes composing pleadings for his scholars, or others, I take to be comprehended the full meaning and intention of St. Augustine's P words, where he speaks of Cyprian's promoting or improving forensic disputes and contentions.

Cyprian had a quick advancement to the highest offices in the church. This is intimated by

cap. 3.

d

a Vid. Ann. Cypr. p. 6.

Proponamus nobis beatum Cyprianum, qui prius idolola, b Erat sane illi etiam de nobis contubernium viri justi et triæ assertor fuit, et in tantam gloriam venit eloquentiæ, ut laudabilis memoriæ Cæcilii, et ætate tunc et honore presby- oratoriam quoque doceret Carthagini. Id. Comm. in Jonæ teri, qui eum ad agnitionem veræ divinitatis a seculari errore

| See before, note d. correxerat. Cypr, Vit. per Pont. pag. 3.

m Inter quos et Cyprianus. .... Qui enim in ludo perverCyprianus magnam sibi gloriam ex artis oratoriæ profes- sitatis humanæ et suam et aliorum linguas docuerat loqui mensione quæsierat. Lact. Div. Inst. Lib. v. cap. 1.

dacium, ut quod ab adversario objiceretur, astutâ fallaciâ Cyprianus primum rhetor, deinde presbyter, ad extre- negaretur, jam in aliâ scholâ didicerat confitendo devitare mum Carthaginiensis episcopus, martyrio coronatur, Eus. adversarium. August. Serm. 312: Tom. v. Bened. [Al de Chr. p. 175.

diversis 116.] e Non rhetoricam adeo in scholis docuisse, quam in foro n Quid si etiam figuras locutionis, quæ illâ arte traduntur, exercuisse Cyprianus videtur. Confer quæ ipse de se Cy- in iis saltem quæ de Apostoli eloquio commemoravi, ostendere prianus libro ad Donatum, non longe ab initio. Fabric. annot. voluissem?....Hæc omnia, quando a magistris docentur, pro ad Hieron. de V. I. c. 67.

magno habentur, magno emuntur pretio, magnâ jactatione Ad Donat. p. 2 et 3. Oxon. 1682.

venduntur. Aug. de Doct. Christ. 1. iv. cap. 7.1. 14 T. iü. P. i. [ Vid. Vit. S. Cyprian. a Benedictino adornat. num. 1. p. Nunc probabo quas tu ab ore nostro laudes Cypriani desi39. Paris. 1726.

deres. Certe si adhuc in scholâ rhetorum verba discipulis venNondum secunda nativitas novum hominem splendore derem, prius ab eis mercedem sumerem.

Vendere tibi vola toto divinæ lucis oculaverat. ... Distractis rebus suis ad india laudem pudicissimæ conjugis tuæ ; prius mihi mercedem daz. gentiam pauperum sustentandam tota prædia pretio dispensans, pudicitiam tuam. Aug. Ep. 259. n. 4. al. 125. &c. Pont. p. 2. Oxon.

p Et ut tantæ vocis tuba, quæ forensium mendaciorum ceri Beatus Cyprianus instar fontis purissimi, dulcis incedit et tamina solebat acuere, ad prosternendum pretiosis sanctorum placidus. Hieron. Ep. 49. al. 13. ad Paulinum. p. 567. m. mortibus diabolum Christo militantes et in ipso gloriantes Ed. Bened. Cyprianus, vir eloquentia pollens et martyrio. Id. devotos martyres excitaret. August. Serm. 312. al. de dit ad Magn. Ep. 83. p. 655.

versis 116.

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Jerom, and more particularly related by a Pontius. Bishop Pearson computes, that he was made presbyter in 247, and bishop of Carthage near the end of the year 248. The learned Benedictine, who writes the life of St. Cyprian prefixed to Stephen Baluze's edition of this father, thinks; that he might be baptised in the year 244 or 245, and made bishop in 248, or 249, supposing it to be scarce possible to determine exactly and with certainty the year of those events. Pagi likewise thought it to be doubtful, whether « Cyprian was advanced to the episcopate in the year 248 or 249.

Cyprian was made bishop against his own inclination, at the general and earnest desire of the people of Carthage. But his election' was opposed by several presbyters of that church, five in number, who 3 afterwards gave him a great deal of uneasiness. It is no where expressly said who was his immediate predecessor; but it is, probably concluded by learned men, that his name was Donatus.

The beginning of St. Cyprian's episcopate was peaceable, under the emperor Philip; but near the end of the year 249, or early in the year 250, began the Decian persecution. This bishop of Carthage was extremely obnoxious to the heathen people; and they often demanded in a clamorous manner, in the theatre, and other public places, that he should be thrown to the lions, as is related byk Pontius, and' by Cyprian himself. Hereupon he retired, (as Pearson supposeth in Jan. 250) judging it to be" for the good of his people, and agreeable to the doctrine of Christ in the gospel, and having also received a divine direction to that purpose. The government not being able to find him out, he was ’ proscribed, and proclamation was made at Carthage, That if any one had any goods of Cæcilius Cyprian, bishop of the Christians, he should discover them. Nor is the place where he absconded known to this day. In this retirement, which lasted about fourteen months, he was not idle, nor unprofitable, as appears from the many epistles written by him during that time, a large part of which are still extant. Cyprian seems to have taken with him from Carthage, one of his deacons, named Victor, and some other friends. It is plain, he 9: had such company with him at the beginning of his retirement. They may be supposed to have been of great use to him in taking copies of his letters sent to Carthage and other places: and to their diligent and faithful attendance on their bishop, as well as perhaps to the kind assistance likewise of some others, who came to him afterwards, we ought to reckon ourselves indebted for the letters above-mentioned, now in our hands.

The heat of the persecution being abated, in the year 251, soon after Easter, Cyprian came out of the place of his retirement, and returned to Carthage. In the month of May, in the same year, he held a council for regulating some affairs of the church, particularly the treatment of such as had lapsed in the persecution: and in the year following a second council, in which the same affair was farther considered and regulated. There were beside these, several other councils held at Carthage in the time of this bishop of that city; three of which were engaged about the question of the baptism of heretics, in which Cyprian differed from Stephen bishop of Rome, and some others. Cyprian was of opinion, that " 'all baptism out of the catholic church

a Presbyterium et Sacerdotium statim aecepit. Pont: p. 2. non tam meam salutem, quam quietem fratrum publicam Judicio Dei et plebis favore ad officium sacerdotii et episco- cogitans, interim secessi, Ep. 20. [al. 15.] p. 42. Vid. et Ep. patûs gradum adhuc neophytus, et, ut putabatur, novellus, 59. [al. 55.] p. 130. electus est. Id. p. 3.

• Pearson. Ann. Cypr. p. 8, 9. m. Ann. Cyp. p. 17. n. 2. Conf. Pagi 250. n. 5. · Vit. S. Cypr. (ut sapra) seet. ii. p. 42. et sect. iv. p. 45. fin.

n See notel. Vid. Pagi Crit. 248. n. 2.

• Et audietis omnia, quando ad vos reducem me dominus e Non præteribo etiam illud eximium, quemadmodum cum fecerit, qui ut secederem jussit. Ep. 16. [al. 10.) p. 38. in dilectionem ejus et honorem totus populus adspirante Credidit se, nisi domino latebram tunc jubenti paruisset, etiam domino prosiliret, humiliter ille secessit, antiquioribus cedens, ipsâ passione peccare. Pont. p. 5. in.. et indignum se titulo tanti bonoris existimans, ut dignus magis P Statim denique pro talibus meritis etiam proscriptionis, fieret. Pont. p. 3.

gloriam consecutus est. Pont. p. 4. - Persecutio enim veniens f Quidam illi restiterunt, etiam ut vinceret. Pont. p. 3. Vid. ... me proscriptionis onere depressit, cum publice legeretur: etiam Cypr. Ep. 43. al. 40.'

si quis tenet vel possidet. de bonis Cæcilii Cypriani episcopi. & Vid. Pear. Ann. Cypr. 251. n. 3.

Christianorum. Ep. 66. [al. 69.) p. 166. h Vid. Pears. Ann. Cypr. 248. n. 3. et Benedic. Vit, St. 9 Salutant vos Victor diaconus, et qui mecum sunt. Ep. 5. Cypr. n. 4. p. 45. i Vid. Pågi Crit. 250. n. 4.

r Vid. Ann. Cypr. p. 43. n. 3. ... maxime cum et suffragiis sæpe repetitis ad leonem s Ann. Cypr. ib. n. 5. Conf. Pagi 251. n. 17, 18, 21. postularetur. Pont. p. 4.

* Ann. Cypr. p. 35. n. 6, 7. Vid. etiam. Cypr. Ep. 5. al. Nec me in conspectum publicum, et maxime ejus loci, 55. et Conf. Pagi 252. n. 8. ubi toties flagitatus et quæsitus fuissem, temere committere. u , ... visum est ei cum ferme octoginta coëpiscopis suis Cypr. Ep. 14. [al. 6.] p. 31. Orto statim turbationis inipetu Africanarum ecclesiaruni, omnena hominem, qui extra eccleprimo, cum me clanjore violento frequenter populus fiagitâsset, siæ catholicæ. communionem baptizatus fuisset, oportere ad

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