Imagens das páginas

CHAP.111. him to be born after his father was a Christian, and Year after the other twenty-five years before. the apo

There is another reason to make one believe that stles.

he was born before his father's conversion; which is this. In the foresaid oration at his father's funeral, he tells how his mother, being desirous of a son, and begged one of God in her prayers, and that in answer to those prayers he was born to her. And afterward he comes to speak of those prayers that she made for her husband's conversion : in which prayers she was encouraged to the greater hope of being heard, “as having,' says he, 'already * made trial of the Divine liberality.' On which Bilius makes this comment; 'namely, when she ob• tained her son Gregory of God, by her prayers,

as he had said a little before!' And indeed that is the only instance mentioned before in that oration, to which one can suppose him to refer.

Also this reason: he often mentions his mother's pious and Christian care and dedication of him to God in his infancy, and from the womb m, but never any such thing of his father.

V. These reasons would be sufficient to sway a man to believe that he was born before his father was a Christian ; were it not for one that seems very plain to the contrary. And that is a passage in the foresaid poem, where Gregory the elder earnestly persuades his son, who had more mind to a private life, to become his assistant in the office of bishop of Nazianzum. He uses all the force of paternal authority, requiring him, upon pain of the loss of his blessing, to comply with his desire, and to

| Annot. in loc.
m Orat. Apologet. Orat. ii. edit. Benedict.) et alibi.


the apo

relieve his old age : and, among the rest, has these CHAP.UI. words 1 :

Year after
Ούπω τοσούτον εκμεμέτρηκας βίον, ,

"Όσος διήλθε θυσιών έμοί χρόνος :
Δός την χάριν, δός.
So many years of life you have not seen
As I, your father, have in orders been.

Do me the kindness, do.
Papebrochius does take notice of this place, and
says, it has puzzled every body that has read it.

goes about to answer it by supposing the word θυσιών is misprinted, and that it should be ετησίων. But he produces no manuscript in favour of his amendment: and if one were to amend by the sense without any book, I should think rather that Dvor has crept in by mistake for how; (or, for the verse sake, TÔ Toc@v: for he often here lets an anapæstus go for the fourth foot of his iambic;) the sense according to the editions is, Your life is not of so many years, as are the years of my 'sacrificing;' i. e. officiating in the priest's office : which is a sense very difficult to reconcile in history with truth. That of Papebrochius; You are not so old as I • am ;' is true : but a poor sense. • You are not so

old as my grey hairs are,' is to the purpose of the father's argument at that place.

Bishop Hall had found out this place o, when he sought for instances of clergymen that had made use of the marriage-bed after they were in holy

Carmen de vita sua, vers. 520. circiter pag 6. edit. Paris. 1610. [p. 9. edit. Paris. 1630.]

• Honour of the married Clergy, [maintained against the malicious challenges of C. E. Masse-priest,] lib. ii. 9.8. [8vo. Lond. 1620. reprinted in his Works, fol. 1624. p. 709, &c.)

the apo


CHAPJII. orders (of which this is the plainest that he can Year after find). And the antipædobaptists have taken it from

him; and made use of it for their purpose.

VI. If this pass for current, then we must say that Baronius' account of his age is the truest; and further, that he was yet two or three years younger than he makes him. For if he had been full thirty years old at the year 354, he would still have been born a little before his father's baptism, and two years before his ordination. But the words are oxedòv tpiakortòv, “almost the thirtieth ;' which in a poem may indeed pass, though he were but twentyseven or twenty-eight.

We must say likewise, that all that he himself, and Rufinus, and Gregorius Presbyter, do speak of his old age, must be understood of a præmatura senectus, caused by his sickliness, which he often mentions. And that Suidas, when he makes him live to ninety years old, mistakes at least twenty

seven years : wbich might possibly be, since he 880. wrote 600 years after Gregory was dead : and that

what he himself says of his mother's experience of the Divine liberality, before her husband's conver

sion, must refer to something else. And that Gre840. gorius Presbyter, (who also lived near 600 years

after St. Gregory,) if his meaning be to speak of the time when he left Athens and went home, as the thirtieth year of his studies, must be mistaken by taking what Gregory himself bad said of the thirtieth year, for the thirtieth of his studies, (as others bave since done,) which, according to this supposition, must be but almost the thirtieth (viz. the twenty-seventh or twenty-eighth) of his life. And that Mr. Du Pin °(who has gone a middle way,


making him to be born anno 318P, which falls seven CHAP.III. rears before his father's baptism,) does yet place his year after birth eight or nine years too soon. For if he was the apo born after his father's priesthood, it must be anno 327 or 326 at soonest. And possibly the numerical fure in the text of Jr. Du Pin is mistaken br the printer: for in the index at the end of the tome, it is printed 328. And aceorling to this account, he was but sixty-one or sixty-two when he died. And his father and mother (for they were much of one age) were about fifty, when he (the son) was born. Which is old for a woman to have children: and Tet she had one, if not more children, after her son Gregory

And then also we must say, that this Gregory the elder was as singular in this practice of keepir; his children unbaptized; as Mr. Johnson 9 has stewed him to be in the point of passive obedience: and as the papists will say he was in getting children after his being in holy orders.

I hope the reader will pardon the length of this disquisition, and the uncertain issue of it at last : for be will perceive by it how difficult it is to find the birth or age, even of such whose later years Lave been nerer so well noted. I lighted on one thread more, which I thought might have directed in this labyrinth. I observed that St. Gregory once speaks of St. Basil, as having been about the same are with himself. For he says at the end of the funeral oration, which he makes for him, . This elogium is given thee, O Basil! by a tongue that

> Voarelle Biblioth. tom. ii.
& Jazan the Apostate. {chap ix. Sro. Lond. 1682.]
: Orat. 20. Or. 43. edit. Benedict.]

the apo


CHAP.III.“ was wont to be most acceptable to thee, kai óuoYear after timou kai ģikos, and by one of the same function,

* and of the same age with thee.' If then I could find St. Basil's age, it would, I thought, direct me in that of his friend Gregory; at least so near, that we should not mistake thirty years. But I cannot find readily the account of St. Basil's age any more than of the other, and am quite out of the humour

of entering on a new search after any body's age. 279. St. Basil died 379, (the first day of that year). This

was ten or eleven years before Gregory died. St. 289. Basil, as well as St. Gregory, is often spoken of as

an old man; and yet by this last account he must be but fifty-one, or thereabouts, when he died.

But then, on the other side, that same oration on St. Basil (in which Gregory mixes so many of his own concerns, that it is a sort of history of both their lives) does by many circumstances, too little

and too long to be repeated, shew that they were 254. but young men when they left Athens. Ile says,

that when they declared their purpose of returning home from thence; not only all their intimates 'and s equals of the same age with them, ñekes, but also many of the doctors there, expressed a great regret at their leaving the university so soon, being very unwilling to part with them.

Which makes it probable that they themselves were but young masters of arts; and so confirms Baronius' opinion, that they were but thirty, or almost thirty, and not fiftyfour, as they must have been by the other account.

Besides, St. Gregory in that oration recounting the great examples of Christian fortitude that had been in Basil's family, and speaking of the great persecution that was in Pontus under Maximinus,

« AnteriorContinuar »