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POLYCARP SLIGHTLY TINGED WITH SATANISM.
it, are directed by the same commands of the Lord. The seasons of spring and summer and autumn and winter give place to each other in peace. The stations of the winds at the proper season perform their service without hindrance. The overflowing fountains, fashioned for enjoyment and health, never fail to afford their breasts to nourish the life of men. And the smallest of living things meet together in peace and concord. All these the Great Fashioner and Lord of all has appointed to be in peace and concord; doing good to the whole, but exceeding abundantly to us who have fled for refuge to his mercies through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and majesty for ever and ever. Amen."*
This calm picture of the universe looks little like the shattered and distracted world of "the fallen angels," as often lugubriously described by modern orthodoxy.
Not once is my name mentioned or my existence affirmed by Clemens Romanus. Thus far the church of Christ had preserved itself from marked demonological taint.
The next apostolical Father, POLYCARP, is known to us from the writings of Irenæus of Lyons, in France (177—202), who, when he was a boy, saw and heard the venerable man and narrated his martyrdom. Polycarp, in dealing with the Docetes and the Marcionites of his day, uses these words: "Whoever does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is antichrist; and whoever does not confess the testimony of the cross is of the devil; and whoever treats deceitfully the words of the Lord to suit his own desires, and says there is no resurrection and no judgment, is the first-born of Satan." This is the only reference to me left by Polycarp. The tendency of his remarks makes it a matter of doubt whether by the devil he meant an adversary of Christian truth or a personal being. The phrase, "the first-born of Satan," is manifestly a figure of speech. Whence it is likely that Poly
* A Critical History of Christian Literature and Doctrine, from the Death of the Apostles to the Nicene Council. By James Donaldson, M. A. Vol. I. p. 112. London, 1864.
TESTIMONY OF THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS.
carp is answerable in this matter only so far as employing the usual imagery of his times.
He is said to have the
THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS was probably written by a person of that name, but who or what he was, nothing is certainly known. The work, however, is Christian in substance and spirit, and doubtless presents a specimen of very early Christian thought. Free from the cobwebs of Oriental speculation, the writer is not free from the demonology of his age. Of angels, all that he says is, that good angels are set over the way of light to guide men to the truth. The devil and his angels are more frequently spoken of. power of this age, to be the ruler of the season of iniquity; and the writer is anxious that his readers should be on their guard against him, lest he find entrance into their hearts, and exclude them from the kingdom of the Lord. The action of the devil through angels is also referred to. He has angels set over the way of darkness to lead men to ruin. The fatal errors of the Jews are ascribed to the bewildering and bewitching power of an evil angel, and the heart of man before conversion is described as a habitation of demons. It is also said that all the wicked shall be destroyed with the wicked
THE PASTOR OF HERMAS-a practical rather than a doctrinal work, divided into three books-Visions, Commands and Similitudes, and designed to lead the soul to God-speaks somewhat of angels, and more of the devil, probably as uttering the author's own opinions, but possibly as a part of the structure and imagery of his artificial composition. Angels appear in his pages as employed in some work; good angels in works of goodness, and wicked angels in evil deeds. While the story of the fallen angels is not introduced, the reader is told that God entrusted the whole creation to six angels, whom he first made, to increase and rule over it. Six other holy angels are also mentioned who are inferior to the former. Those who were first created were also called by God into his counsel in regard to the salvation of man.
The devil is mentioned especially as the enemy of Christians. In their pilgrimage, they are tempted by the devil, who lies in wait for them and plans mischief against them. Yet Christians are not to fear him. If they put their trust in God, the devil will give way. He is hard indeed and sure to wrestle, but he must yield. Only those who waver have reason to fear the devil. Christians are to fear the deeds of the devil. All doubt comes from him; from him comes evil desire. False prophets are filled with his spirit, which is an earthly spirit. He is most wicked.
This is ecclesiastical commonplace, the language of ordinary religious gymnastics, which probably involves an underlying recognition of me as a person, but which may be explained by the theory of my being a personification of evil, and so an enemy of God and man.
In agreement with Josephus, JUSTIN THE MARTYR (145 A.D.) believed that the demons were the souls of wicked men, separated from their bodies. This opinion was generally spread among the Greek and the Roman Christians; nevertheless, it did not become dominant in the Church, whose doctors almost unanimously taught that the devils were corrupted by the abuse of their liberty, and that, falling themselves, they introduced sin into the world. It was also the general opinion that, like the angels, they had bodily forms, but of less subtle matter, although less gross, than that of the human frame; for they held that a being that had no body was incapable of punishment. Most of the apologists of Christianity affirmed that the devils fed on the smoke of the incense offered in idol worship, as well as the odours of the pagan sacrifices. This opinion was, however, refuted by Augustin, who declared that they fed on human errors, a diet more suited for the mind than the body, and which suggests that the saintly Father, who not seldom changed his opinions, and was at first even imbued with the Manichean heresy, indulged in what more robust believers would regard as on this point a dusky dreaminess.
According to the testimony of IRENEUS (177-202), the Christian Church generally believed in my eternal damnation, as well as in that of the fallen angels. The reason assigned for the charitable opinion is, that the fallen angels were not incited to sin by the flesh, but trangressed through simple wickedness, and by the sole act of their will. Some, however, among the Alexandrine Fathers, such as Clement, Origen and Gregory of Nyssa, ventured to maintain that even for me there was hope, as of amendment so of forgiveness, because I am a reasonable being, and since every reasonable being enjoys liberty to either return to good or to persist in evil. This humane idea, which contrasts so favourably with the modern horror of the eternity of hell torments, was first combatted by Jerome and Augustin, then formally rejected by the fifth Ecumenical Council in 553, and finally condemned by the Reformers themselves, out of hate toward the Anabaptists, by whom it had been revived.
It remains to say in this summary a few words on the part which the ancient Church ascribed to the bad angels and the demons, between whom it established a confused and vacillating distinction. It attributed to them knowledge incomparably superior to that of men, and a supernatural though restricted power. It took pleasure in confounding them with the divinities of the pagan mythology, accused them of having established idolatry in the world, and of deceiving nations and individuals by oracles and prodigies. Specially did it reproach them with the persecutions which Christians had to suffer. It also regarded them as the authors of the temptations of the members of the Church. It threw on their already overladen backs heresies, apostasies, infidelity—in a word, all the physical and moral evils that afflict the human race, and in me it saw and proclaimed the absolute antagonist of God and Christ; thus ignorantly or thoughtlessly describing a house divided against itself, although its great Founder had said of such a kingdom, that it could not endure (Matt. xii. 25), and as if it had been the aim of its Divine Architect to introduce
MAN'S STRUGGLE AGAINST THE DEVIL.
into it, together with "envying and rivalry, confusion and every evil work" (James iii. 16), and forgetting that the Supreme Ruler of the universe "is not the author (or the tolerator) of confusion, but of peace" (1 Cor. xiv. 33).
And yet, lest they should overdo their dark work and drive their supporters to despair, the ecclesiastics taught them that, after all, I was not so very formidable, for that I and mine might be put to flight by fasts, by prayer, by exorcism, or even by the sign of the cross. A struggle indeed was needful, and it may be said that man's life, especially his moral life, was from first to last a struggle. He had to struggle not only against earth, but also hell; not only against his own passions, but against a monster who took a fiendish pleasure in stimulating them ceaselessly; so that there was no natural tranquillity, no spontaneous and successive growth in individuals or society, but all was turmoil and conflict, leading mostly to defeat after defeat, which could be repaired only by the magic of priestly incantations. And here in this internal confusion there was also an outer confusion of doctrine and exhortation. At one moment I was all but omnipotent; at another I could be overcome by a drop or two of holy water. Now, when it suited the purpose of the sacerdotal magician, I was raging around a tempted soul, sure to gain my prey by persistence; now I was sent down into interminable banishment by the perseverance of a saint; but only to be brought up again out of the abyss to terrify and be overcome or to overcome, and to be at last foiled by sacerdotal guile or force. Most repulsive as well as most signal was the work assigned to me every time a new-born babe came forth from its mother's womb. Then and there, no matter how frequent the births, nor how numerous the wide world over-then and there, whether in the arctic or the antarctic regions, at the equator or at either pole, in Europe, Asia, Africa and the two Americas-then and there, at every second of time and in every point of space, I had to be present, to seize that babe and make it my own by entering into its soul and taking possession of it. Yet, be there but an orthodox