Abbildungen der Seite

clearly comprehend what they do not, " that therefore they can

never be cer" tain that they do, clearly comprehend any

thing which is just; as if we shou'd argue,

that because in our Dreams we think we have 6. clear Sensations, we cannot therefore be ever “ fure, when we are awake, that we see things “ that really are.'

Dr. Cudwortb concludes this Chapter with Origen against Celfus.

5. That Science and Knowlege is the only firm thing in the World, without a Participation of which communicated to them from God, all Creatures, says he, wou'd be mere Ludibria and Vanity.

An Enquiry into the Revelation of St. John:

With a Letter sent to the Author of the
Present State of the Republick of Letters.
Being a Continuation of ART. XXVII.
of the last Journal.

[ocr errors]

HE Alogians, who cou'd not persuade

themselves that they were * compild by St. John, had written a Critique on them, where, among other Particulars, they objected that the Church of Tbyatira did not exist in the Age of that Apostle. As these were Hereticks who re* Epiph. Hæref, 51.


were the only People who rejected it, and that all the Churches assembled in a Body had decreed to receive it. St. Austin was surpriz'd that Pbylaftris, who was a Man infinitely inferior in Learning to Epiphanius, had nevertheless enumerated up more Heresies than he had done ; and hereupon says with great Sagacity, That these two Authors had not the same Idea of Heresy, because, says he, 'tis really a very difficult Matter to give a just definition of it. Phybastris, who had no other view but to increase his Catalogue, gives frequently the name of Heresy to what was not so; nay he sometimes brands the foundest Opinions with that Name: He likewise confiders those (but purely out of his own abundant Goodness) as Hereticks who affirm, that all the Psalms were not written by David; those who say that the number of Years from the Creation is not fix'd; those who assert that there are more than seven Heavens, who look upon Earthquakes as natural Effects; who think the fix'd Stars and the Firmament are immoveable: Instead, says he, of conceiving the Deity as drawing them every Night out of his Treasure, and spreading, as it were, the Toilet, which he folds up next Morning. I am of Opinion that great numbers of good People, tho' they had not the fame turn of thinking as Pbylastris, were nevertheless reputed Orthodox.

Neither can we lay much stress on what * Sulpitius Severus says, when he affirms in fo fanguine a manner, that all those are Fools and impious Wretches who rejected the Revelations. As he himself was a Millenarian, to reject that Book would have utterly destroy'd the Miller

Hift. Sacra. Lib. II.

vers ; which reduces him to the necessity of giving an allegorical Interpretation to those Trees, on which the Jews hung their musical Instruments. S. Paulinus is also reckon'd, who hides S. Felix under a Spider's Web to conceal him from his Persecutors. Victorinus the African, a Platonist, for whom St. Jerom discovers the utmost Contempt, and who did not apply himself to the Study of the Scriptures till he was in a very advanc'd Age : All of them Spanisha Writers, or born near the Garonne, the first and last excepted ; but all of them born at a great distance from the Country which had given Birth to the Revelations :: We must not omit the famous St. Ambrose, who had a kind of magical Wand, not for distinguiming genuine Pieces from such as were fpurious, but for finding out the true Bodies of Saints and the Relicks of Martyrs, which he distinguish'd from such as were false by certain Emotions that rose within him, as he himself has been pleas’d to inform Pofterity. He, as well as Paulinus, had also during the Night, as St. Austin his Disciple relates, Visions and Dreams that were reveal'd to him from Heaven, by which he was inform’d of several Particulars that no one knew but himself. However, notwithstanding this assistance, both himself and other Writers do but barely quote the Revelations ; nor are we to expect any farther,

* Phylaftris, St. Ambrose's Friend, is more express, tho' he was not indulg'd a Revelation ; for he looks upon all such of his Cotemporaries as Hereticks who rejected the Revelations. However, the Reader is not to imagine that these

Phylat. de Hærefibus c. 13.


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

inserted them in the Catalogue of the Books of Scripture. And when Severus informs us that the greater part rejected them, he hints particularly at the Greeks and those of the East, who adher'd to the Council of Laodicea held about 110 Years before. We already find Councils clashing with one another, with respect to the Revelations; the Council of Laodicea which had rejected them, and that of Carthage which now receives it : But as the Council of Laodicea, the first that debated upon it, had confin'd the Canon of the Scriptures within too narrow Bounds, the Council of Carthage, on the contrary, extended them still farther ; and not only excluded the Revelations from among them, but also Ecclefiafticus, the Books of Wisdom, Tobit, Judith, and the two Books of the Maccbabees.

The Fathers who compos'd this Council, have not thought proper to let us into the Reasons of their proceeding in this manner. What at once prompted those of Laodicea not to make any mention of the Revelations, was their not finding the least footsteps of that Book, either by Tradition, or in the Archives either of Ephefus, or of those Churches, among which was that of Laodicea; in like manner as the Motive for their rejecting Ecclefiafticus, the Book of Wisdom, Tobit, Judith, and the Macchabees, was, because they did not find it inserted in the Catalogue of the Jews. Where we have no certainty of a Book's being genuine, we may justly suspend our belief that it is so ; but before we can receive any Piece as dictated by the Spirit of God, we ought to have the strongest Reason to induce us to receive it as such, and if the Council of Carthage does not condescend to give any, it must be consider'd, that those Assemblies are

like Sovereigns, who don't think themselves bound to give the Reasons of their Conduct.

But as St. Auftin, who was then had in the highest Veneration, was the Soul, as it were, of the African Councils, into which he insinuated his Notions ; it will be no difficult matter to see thro' the Reasons, why the Council of Carthage consulted this Father, who himself was present in it. He did not understand the Hebrew Tongue, which was the very Reason why he had the Canon of the Jews in such Contempt. According to him the Authority of the Books of Scripture depended not only on the Number, but also on the Grandeur and Majesty of such Christan Churches as had receiv'd them ; * and by these Characteristicks, which vary according to the point of sight in which they are consider'd, this Father us'd to pronounce a Book Canonical or Spurious. He says indeed, that a Man must examine whether the Apostolical Churches which receiv'd such Books from the Hands of the Apostles, thought them so; but to speak the Truth, as he understood Greek as little as he did Hebrew, be hardly ever regarded whether any Piece had been handed down to Pofterity by the Jews or the Greeks; and whenever the least dispute arose upon this Head, he generally declar'd in favour of the Latin Churches, which, in return, paid him all the Honour that was due to his Merit. 'Tis thus that he looks upon Tobit, Judith, the Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, the Macchabees, and the Revelations as Canonical, all which Books had before been receiv'd by the Latins, tho' he was very sensible they had been rejected by the Greeks. The Father in question, with

August. de Doctri. Christ. Lib. II. C. viii.


« ZurückWeiter »