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than those previously known-exhibiting the basis or foundation of an original work, which had been amplified and augmented into the two collections of the Greek Recensions - known to Irenæus, but not containing any reference whatever to the heresy of Valentinus found, indeed, in a monastery of the African desert, but carried from Asia, and deposited there nearly a thousand years ago; and this in a Syriac version, which has indeed thrown a new and full light upon the whole of the difficult subject of the Ignatian Epistles.
• To regard all these coincidences as a mere matter of chance, is utterly opposed to all the most certain rules and calculations of probabilities. They can, therefore, only have their origin in the propriety and accuracy of the criticism which foretold them, and in the truth and certainty of the facts by which the prediction is fulfilled.'*
To the above lucid and convincing statement we shall merely add, that similar conclusions, drawn from similar evidence, would have been acquiesced in at once, in the case of a profane author. Let us suppose that certain passages appearing in a play of Euripides, known only from one or two manuscripts of the fourteenth century, had been pronounced spurious by Bentley and Porson, on the ground of their faulty versification, barbarous phraseology, and allusions to events of the period of Augustus or Tiberius; and that, when these were cleared away, all the rest was worthy of the reputed author, and suitable to the age in which he lived. The criticism, if well supported by facts, would certainly be entitled to consideration. But, suppose further that, years after the death of these critics, manuscripts six or seven centuries older should be produced from an Egyptian catacomb, in which the precise passages excepted against were omitted, to the manifest improvement of what remained, the literary world would immediately admit that Bentley and Porson had been in the right, and would unite in applauding their learning and sagacity. But in the theological world such convictions are established much more slowly; for, in that world, unfortunately, there is always a larger class of men who will resolutely shut their ears against the demonstrations of common sense, rather than renounce one of their favourite idols. For example, Sir Charles Lyell says:- it is
well known by those who have of late years frequented the • literary circles of Rome, that the learned Cardinal Mai was prevented, in 1838, from publishing his edition of the Coder • Vaticanus, because he could not obtain leave from the late
Pope (Gregory XVI.) to omit the interpolated passages, and • had satisfied himself that they were wanting in all the most 'ancient MSS. at Rome and Paris. The Pontiff refused,
Corpus Ignatianum : Introduction, pp. lxxxv-lxxxvii.
because he was bound by the decrees of the Council of Trent and of a Church pretending to infallibility, which had solemnly 6 sanctioned the Vulgate; and the Cardinal had too much good ' faith to give the authority of his name to what he regarded as
a forgery,' — (A Second Visit to the U. S. of N. America, vol. i. 223.) The consequence is, that the only Greek edition of the New Testament ever printed at Rome, remains unpublished. No difficulty of the kind would have occurred, if it had been the case of conflicting Palimpsests of Cicero's De Republicâ. One of the interpolated passages abandoned by Cardinal Mai still retains its place, we fear, in most Protestant
we mean the celebrated verse of the • Three Heavenly • Witnesses."
In fine, we cannot but congratulate Mr. Cureton on what we believe to be a successful effort to exhibit Ignatius in his true form and dimensions, — and though curtailed in bulk, greatly increased in intrinsic value. The venerable Father's testimony to the Canon of Scripture is surely more trustworthy, when no longer mixed up with appeals to the • Doctrina Sancti Petri;' nor is his recognition of our present form of Church government at all the worse, for being purged from ultra-Hildebrandine assumptions of priestly supremacy. It is not, however, to be dissembled, that the attempt to place an ancient ecclesiastical monument on the simple basis of truth — resolutely discarding every thing spurious or adventitious, — is a task 'periculosæ ple• num aleæ,' and particularly at the present period. There is a numerous party in the Church who will not thank the editor for robbing them of their favourite • Loci communes Ignatiani ;' and the more clearly he proves them to be good for nothing, the more angry they will be. They prefer the lead of the fourth and fifth centuries to the silver of the second; and think it very orthodox to make it pass current as precious metal. We are told by Guibert, Abbot of Nogent in the tenth century, that it was not safe to question the current popular legends of miracles; as the old women not only reviled bitterly those who did so, but attacked them with their spindles! The Corpus Ignatianum will excite something of a similar feeling — though the feeling will probably not be manifested in precisely the same manner. There may not be material inkstands thrown at the editor's head; but there will be brandishing of pens, and a considerable amount of growling in cliques and coteries. However, magna est veritas ; and those who assail it will in the end damage nobody but themselves.
The phases in which the modern passion for making credulity a virtue manifests itself, are sometimes not a little ludicrous; but
they all appear resolvable into an ill-dissembled hatred of truth, reason, and common sense. The last-mentioned quality indeed is regarded with about the same feelings as the dragon of the old romances; - a horrible and pernicious monster, which it was the duty of every true knight to endeavour to demolish. In a series of works professedly intended for the young, we find the wildest fairy tales of the German school introduced by prefaces, intimating that a disposition to believe in the possibility of such wonders is far more amiable than the dry matter-of-fact scepticism which rejects them utterly. The next step of course is to claim the same indulgence for miraculous ecclesiastical legends - which it must be allowed are equally possible, and which, moreover, we are assured, it is praiseworthy and pious to believe. A docile readiness to acquiesce implicitly in every moral or doctrinal axiom laid down by a certain class of teachers, is the natural accompaniment of such training, -is its cause in some cases, its effect in others. The boldness of the experiments thus made on the credulity of the age, is sometimes absolutely astounding. There is an Anglo-Catholic series of lives of saints, professing to be derived from nothing but authentic and credible sources. It begins with the Gallic (!) Dionysius the Areopagite, does not forget the laudation of his admirable works, and winds up with the gigantic St. Christopher! We can readily picture to ourselves the sneer of contempt that Launoy or Tillemont would have bestowed upon such a publication which would have been laughed at even in Spain, if ventured upon in the time of the Benedictine Feyjoó. Bollandus, in his preface to the 'Acta Sanctorum,' slily observes, that the lives of the Irish, Scottish, and British saints are perfectly monstrous, and made up of miracles almost incredible; - either because those people were eminent for the constancy of their faith and the simplicity and purity of their lives, -or certainly because of the greater simplicity of their writers (* aut certe quia scriptores simpliciores'). We sincerely wish we could give our modern hagiologists the credit of this amiable simplicity. But it is to be feared that they cannot be acquitted of a very common-place form of knavery, in recommending as true what they believe and know to be false, or what a small amount of research would quickly prove to be so. Much stress, for example, is laid upon the miracles wrought among our forefathers by St. Augustine; and all who are sceptical respecting their reality are twitted with downright sinful presumption, for doubting what has been formally attested by Pope Gregory I. As if the testimony of one of the most notorious fabulists that ever existed were good for any thing in a matter of this sort. Let those who may doubt how far this character is deserved, read a few pages of his Dialogues, and judge for themselves. For instance, as a sample of his discrimination, he gravely retails (lib. 4. c. 36.) a profane piece of diablerie concerning a soul taken by mistake to the infernal regions, and ordered back again. To say nothing of the impiety of the idea, the story is notoriously from the very dregs of Paganism. It had been previously told both by Plutarch and Lucian, under different names; but with no variation in the particulars, further than that the Pope keeps carefully out of sight Tantalus and Sisyphus, and other features of the heathen Hades. Yet this is brought forward in a Christian dress, and duly vouched for by the worthy Bishop of Rome, as a fact which occurred within his own knowledge. Neither are the miraculous powers attributed to him in his own person of a kind to add to his credit as a witness. It is related of him, in an analogous story, that he continued weeping on behalf of the soul of Trajan, until it was revealed to him that the virtuous Emperor had been taken out of hell,- upon condition that the saint would never pray to God again for any other heathen! Under these circumstances, we may be excused, we hope, for suspending our belief respecting marvels attested by Pope Gregory; as well as for thinking what we please of the wisdom or honesty of those who would have us pin our faith upon his sleeve. Surely a single specimen of this sort of credulity (and there are many) entitles us to decide how far the writers of such a school are to be relied upon as editors and expounders of the writings of the Fathers and other monuments of Christian antiquity.
We trust, however, that this department of literature --S0 important in itself, and in which so much remains to be accomplished is likely to get into more trustworthy and competent hands. We sincerely hope that Mr. Cureton will not stop in the career which he has entered upon so auspiciously, but will continue to avail himself of the resources fortunately placed within his reach. If we mistake not, they will be found available in clearing up many points of considerable interest and importance. For example, the treatise of Titus of Bostra against the Manichæans, defective in all known Greek copies, exists in a perfect state in a Syriac MS. of the very commencement of the fifth century. It would be worth while to examine whether the portions wanting in the Greek have dropped out by accident, or- what is by no means unlikely-through the dislike of certain persons to the sentiments contained in them. At all events, a treatise of this character ought to be restored to its integrity, when the means are in our power.
Again,- there are among the Syriac collections of the British Museum, voluminous writings of leading Nestorians and Euty
chians, calculated to throw considerable light upon their history and real doctrines. Without entering into the merits of the controversies in which these sectaries were involved, we do not hesitate to express our conviction that they themselves were grossly calumniated and most arbitrarily and unjustly treated by the dominant party. It is equally certain that the barbarous persecution so long carried on against them was dishonourable. to those who promoted it, and that it brought calamities upon Christendom from which it has not yet recovered. As yet, we scarcely know their history and tenets, except from prejudiced and hostile sources. It is essential, therefore, to the cause of truth, that we should know what they were able to say for themselves; and we trust that some capable and impartial person will give the contemporary documents relating to them a thorough investigation.
hose who have no taste for logomachies and sectarian disputes, will here find abundant matter for research of a different description. Histories and chronicles, translations from Greek philosophers, curious apocryphal legends, and the biographies and correspondence of distinguished ecclesiastics, cannot fail to elucidate the chronology, transactions, and prevailing opinions of the period which they embrace, and add to our stock of interesting knowledge on many more points than we can now stop to specify. We believe that Mr. Cureton's attention is already directed to some of these questions. But the unaided efforts of one man cannot accomplish every thing, - especially of one who can only devote the intervals of laborious official duties to the task. The Corpus Ignatianum' would be a creditable monument of the industry and skill of an editor who had been at liberty to give it his undivided attention; it becomes still more so when we consider it as the product of detached hours and halfhours snatched after the fatigues of unremitting daily occupations.* The energies of a willing labourer ought not to be taxed too heavily. We gladly, therefore, invoke the aid of coadjutors of similar qualifications, and, si fieri potest, with a little more leisure. It must be confessed that Syriac is not in itself a particularly attractive language; and what we have extant in it is not remarkable for elegance of composition or purity of taste, if estimated by classical standards. But it is of more easy acquirement than Hebrew or Arabic; and a moderate amount of industry bestowed on it might at the present time be turned to good account by any intelligent and honest student. The world would have to thank him for being brought acquainted with many important facts which hitherto have been either im
* See • Corpus Ignatianum,' preface, pp. ii. iii.