Mercy And Judgment by Canon F.W. Farrar
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MERCY AND JUDGMENT
THE OPINIONS OF THE FATHERS.
"Redeo ad patrum commentationes de quibus hoc summatim accipe: quicquid illi dixerunt, neque ex libris sacris aut ratione aliqua satis idonea confirmaverunt, perinde mihi erit ac si quis alius e vulgo dixisset." — MILTON , Pro Pop. Anglic. Defens. c. iv.
"Quanto quis altius in eruditione in antiquitate Christiana eminuit, tanto magis spem finiendorum olim cruciatum aluit atque defendit." — DODERLEIN, Inst. Theol. Christ. ii. 199.
["In Christian antiquity, the more eminent and learned a man was, in that proportion did he cherish and defend the hope that torments would at some time end."]
Dr. Pusey, in the last hundred and fifty pages of his book, has collected a valuable catena of opinions from the testimonies of the martyrs and the writings of the Fathers.
I propose to examine that catena, to show its real significance, and to add other passages which give, as it seems to me, a very different aspect to the conclusions which some would deduce from it. And such an examination is very important. It would not indeed be decisive proof of any doctrine if all the Fathers were unanimous in asserting it, unless it could be demonstrated from Scripture. Their inferences from Scripture are often much more precarious than our own, because founded on a narrower experience and a less extended knowledge. I say with Daille, "If he adduced even six hundred passages from the Fathers, he will not thereby prove that that is the sense of Scripture which is in reality not its sense."*(1) And if I could not endorse the somewhat arrogant language of Milton about "the obscure and entangled wood of Antiquity, Fathers and Councils fighting one against another*(2)", I yet think that the authority of the Fathers in matters of exegesis, considering how strange and how numerous are their errors and their fancies, has been greatly exaggerated. But in the following pages their testimony is examined, not because of its intrinsic authority — though I would not speak of that with any disrespect — but merely from the evidence which it furnishes as to the opinions of the early Christian Church.
*(1) Dallaeus, De Poenis et Satisf. p. 31.
*(2) Milton , "Considerations Concerning Hirelings," Works, v. 384 (ed. Pickering ). While I am on this subject I may refer to other passages of Milton of the same tenor. "The Labyrinth of Councils and Fathers, an entangl'd wood which the Papist loves to fight in." — "Of True Religion," v. 406. "The knotty Africanisms, the pamper'd metafors, the intricate and involv'd sentences of the Fathers, besides the fantastick and declamatory flashes, the crosse jungling periods which cannot but disturb and come thwart a settl'd devotion worse than the din of bells and rattles." — "Of Reformation, i. 31. "The foul errors, the ridiculous wresting of Scripture, the Heresies, the vanities thick sown through the volumes of Justin Martyr," &c. — Id. p. 19, and passim.
I need enter into no controversy about the views of the Fathers, because I have no doubt that most of them believed — as I myself am compelled to believe — that in some sense some souls will be lost; will suffer for ever the pain of loss; will not attain to everlasting felicity. If that be all which these quotations be intended to prove, they only establish what I do not dispute. Further than this, there can be no doubt that after the date of the Clementine Recognitions, and increasingly during the close of the third, and during the fourth and following centuries, the abstract idea of endlessness was deliberately faced, and from imperfect acquaintance with the meaning and history of the word aionios, it was used by many writers as though it was identical in meaning with aidios, or "endless."
But I am very far from sure that the absolute endlessness of punishment was in the first three centuries the fixed belief of all those writers whom Dr. Pusey has quoted; and as a matter of mere literary and historical criticism, I think that some objections might be urged against the validity of the evidence which he has adduced.
If every one of these quotations necessarily bore that meaning, they would not therefore touch anything which I have said. Neither Dr. Pusey nor Mr. Oxenham, nor any other writer who has written on this subject against Origenistic opinions, supposes that these passages exclude the notion of deliverance from some future retribution — whether you call it Purgatory or a probatory fire at the Day of Judgment. Not one, therefore, of these passages in any way refutes that merciful alleviation of the popular view which I aimed at bringing into prominence. The more I study the patristic aspect of the question, the more fully am I convinced that many of the earliest, the best, and the greatest of the Fathers held views very nearly identical with my own, and that my own views are nearer to those of even the greatest of the schoolmen — not only John Scotus Erigena, but even St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Peter Lombard — than those of the popular ignorance which too often proclaims itself to be the only orthodoxy. From very early days in the history of the Church, opinions, which have been branded by many as dangerous and false, have been proved to be the only true opinions by that Light which reveals all things in the slow history of their ripening.
1. It is not proven that the use of the words "eternal destruction," "eternal fire," "eternal Gehenna," "eternal death," "unquenchable fire," and other similar expressions founded on Scripture, were intended to be understood in the full sense now attached to the word "Hell." The early Fathers used them in the same sense that Scripture does, and there is nothing to show either that they had faced the meaning of the word "endless" or that, if the controversy had really been brought before them they would not gladly have accepted the merciful interpretations which separate the doctrine of final retribution from those accretions which have made it so abhorrent to some of the noblest of mankind. It is not therefore too much to say that nineteen-twentieths of the passages adduced by Dr. Pusey from writers of the first three, and even of the fourth, centuries have but little weight even as against Universalists, much less as against anything which I have urged. They abound in Scriptural terms which they do not define, and which may have been understood in what many maintain to be their true and not their perverted and popular sense.
2. It must be borne in the mind that some of the later Fathers testify to the existence of an opinion different from their own among multitudes of Christians who were yet in full communion with the Church.*(1)
*(1) See supra, pp. 59, 217.
3. Those who really enter into the subject, as St. Augustine and St. Jerome do, hold opinions far more merciful than the present popular teaching. St. Augustine , amid many inconsistencies, believed in something resembling Purgatory.*(1) St. Jerome at least inclined to believe in the salvation of all Christians.*(2)
*(1) "Poenae quaedam purgatoriae in illo judicio." — Civ. Dei. xx. 25. He says it is certainly possible, "Suffragari eis pro quibus orations non inaniter allegantur," Serm. 172, and explains the object of such prayers to be "ut sit plena remissio aut certe tolerabilior fiat ipsa damnatio." — Enchir. 110. For proof of this see infra, pp. 281-295
*(2) This diversity of opinion is very remarkable. "Some of the ancients who put their hands to this work extended the benefit of this fiery purge unto all men in general; others though fit to restrain it unto such as some way or other bore the name of Christians; other to such Christians only as had one time or other made profession of Catholic faith; and others to such alone as did continue in that profession unto their dying day." — USHER, Answer to a Jesuit, vi. P. 125.
4. Those who on this subject diverged the most widely from the view now prevalent were intellectually and in all other respects among the best and greatest and most authoritative of the Fathers. Such (among others) were St. Clemens of Alexandria, Origen, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Gregory of Nazianizus, and, in spite of their other errors, Theodore of Mopsuestia and Diodorus of Tarsus. Thus three at least of the greatest of the ancient schools of Christian theology — the schools of Alexandria , Antioch , and Caesarea — leaned on this subject to the views of Origen, not in their details, but in their general hopefulness.
5. The more merciful opinions on some of these subjects, though notorious, and though even by that time they had been continually discussed, were not condemned by the first four General Councils; were in the case of the two Gregories never condemned at all; were not (as I shall endeavour to show) distinctly condemned (as his other errors were) even in the case of Origen; did not so much as come into discussion (as is sometimes falsely asserted) at the Fifth Oecumenical Council; and were spoken of at first, even by those who did not share in them, with perfect calmness and toleration.
6. The fact that even these Origenistic Fathers were able, with perfect honesty, to use the current phraseology shows that such phraseology was at least capable of a different interpretation from that commonly put upon it.
7. Others of the Fathers — as Hermas, St. Justin Martyr, St. Irenaeus, St. Ambrose, and Arnobius — use language of which the apparent and prima facie meaning is not in accordance with the common views respecting endless torments.
8. And, lastly, there is no subject on which the Fathers speak with so little authority as this; for their views are to the last degree wavering, indefinite, and inconsistent. The Romish Church claims their assent to the doctrine of purgatory; but, besides what I have already remarked as to their meaning, Dr. Newman says: "They do not agree with each other, which proves they knew little more about the matter than ourselves, whatever they might conjecture, that they possessed no Apostolic tradition, only at the most entertained floating notions on the subject." The remark is only applied to purgatory*(1), but no honest reader who studies the following pages with unbiased mind will hesitate to extend it further. The Benedictine editor, speaking of the curious opinions of St. Ambrose on the state of the dead in his De Bono Mortis, says: "What might seem almost incredible is the uncertainty and inconsistency of the Holy Fathers on the subject from the very times of the Apostles down to the pontificate of Gregory XI. And the Council of Florence, that is for nearly the whole of fourteen centuries. For not only do they differ one from the other, as commonly happens in such questions not yet defined by the Church, but they are not even consistent with themselves." This observation also admits of wider application than that of which its authors were at the moment thinking. Lastly, Bishop Forbes makes the remark that "When we turn to individual writers in the early Church we find various statements with regard to the condition of the souls of the departed; and those not only in different writers but in the very same; and yet some of these writers are ordinarily so consistent that their sayings have to be reconciled*(2)."
*(1) Tracts for the Times, lxxix. P. 24.
*(2) On the Articles, ii. 320 seq.
I will raise no question as to the genuineness of the Acts of all the Martyrs whose words Dr. Pusey has adduced. Their expressions, in all but a few instances, are the current ones, and there is nothing to prove in what sense they interpreted them. Whatever may be their value, they have no bearing on the critical question as to the meaning of the word "eternal"; nor are they otherwise authoritative than as evidence of a popular belief. On undecided questions which do not touch matters of faith even the most genuine and unambiguous utterances of martyrs have no intrinsic authority. There are questions on which ancient testimony is of little value. "Ships," it has been said, "are daily chartered to those antipodes which Augustine declared to be unscriptural, and Lactanius impossible, and Boniface of Metz beyond the latitude of salvation."
Now if the reader will study Dr. Pusey's catena, omitting the names of the Fathers of whom I spoke in clause 7, he will, I think, find that its whole evidential force is summed up in the following phrases: -
Second Century. *(1)
ST. IGNATIUS — (+ A.D. 116 [?]) — "Unquenchable fire."
ST. POLYCARP — (+ circ. A.D. 166) — "The perpetual torment of eternal fire."
EP. PSEUDO-BARNABUS — (circ. A.D. 120) — "The way of eternal death with punishment."
PSEUDO-CLEMENT — (Ancient Homily) — "Eternal punishment"; "unquenchable fire."
THEOPHILUS OF ANTIOCH — (fl. A.D. 168) — "Eternal punishments"; "everlasting fire."
*(1) I quote nothing from Tatian (circ. A.D. 150), because his language seem to me to be very confused. Dr. Pusey says it means "a deathless death, an immortality of ill." To me it seems contradictory. After denying the inherent immortality of the soul, he says, "If it knows not the truth it dies, and is dissolved with the body, receiving death by punishment in immortality." This looks like the doctrine of annihilation; but farther on he speaks of our "receiving the painful with immortality."
TERULLIAN — (circ. A.D. 216) — "Punishment which continueth not for a long time but for ever."
THEODORE OF HERACLEA — (A.D. 230) — (a Semi-Arian) — "Abide for ever….in punishment."
APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS — "Eternal fire and endless worms."
MINUC. FELIX — (fl. Circ. A.D. 230) — "Eternal punishment"; "eternal torments without either limit or end."
ST. HIPPOLYTUS — (+ A.D. 238) — "Fire unquenchable and without end"; "everlasting punishment in unquenchable fire."
ST. CYPRIAN — (+ A.D. 258) — "An eternal flame — pains that never cease" (perennibus poenis).
PSEUDO-CLEMENTINE RECOGNITIONS AND HOMILIES — (circ. A.D. 218) — "Tormented for ever"; "they endure without end the torment of eternal fire, and to their destruction they have not the quality of mortality"; "never dying, the soul can receive no end of its misery."
LACTANTIUS — (A.D. 320) — "They will again be clothed with flesh….indestructible and abiding for ever, that it may be able to hold out against everlasting fire."
JULIUS FIRMICUS — (circ. A.D. 340) — "Perpetual punishment of torments."
ST. METHODIUS — (+ A.D. 303) — "Eternal punishment, from the fiery wrath of God."
EUSEBIUS — (+ A.D. 338) — "Eternal fire."
ATHANASIUS — (+ A.D. 373) — "The sin against the Holy Ghost unpardonable;" "none to deliver those who in Hades are taken in their sin."
ACACIUS — (A.D. 340) — "Perpetual punishment."
ST. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM — (+ A.D. 386) — "An eternal body fitted to endure the pains of sins, that it may burn eternally in fire."
LUCIFER OF CAGLIARI — (+ circ. A.D. 370) — "Quenchless fire."
ST. HILARY — (+ A.D. 367) — "Corporeal eternity — destined to the fire of judgment."
ST. ZENO — "Everlasting punishment."
PSEUDO-CAESARIUS *(1) and ST. BASIL — (+ A.D. 379) — if we do not discount popular and rhetorical phrases — are decisive for endlessness. TITUS of Bosra (A.D. 352), ST. EPHRAEM (A.D. 370), speak of punishment without ending; and after this epoch, and still more after the days of St. Augustine , no one doubts that the belief in the endlessness of some retribution became both more definite and very widely prevalent.
*(1) St. Caesarius (+ A.D. 368) was a physician, the youngest brother of St. Gregory of Nazianzus. He was not even baptized till shortly before his death. Dr. Pusey quotes his Dialogues as though they were indisputably genuine. Even if they were, the theological authority of a lay catechumen would not be very high. But are they? Certainly not. Almost every critic has given them up. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, who tells us so much about his brother, never says that he wrote a single line; and it is certain that he did not (as these Dialogues say) live twenty years at Constantinople (See Cave, Primitive Fathers, i. 284; Tillemont, Orig. Art. 39). I had already quoted the passage for its important admission that the Origenists argued for the terminability of punishment because of the very word aionios being used. This is a point which is in no way affected by the question of genuineness. See infra, p. 381.
1. But, looking at these passages, an Origenist would entirely refuse to admit that the expressions quoted from Ignatius, Polycarp, Pseudo-Barnabas, Theophilus of Antioch, St. Cyprian, Eusebius, Theodore of Heraclea, Acacius, Lucifer of Cagliari, and Zeno, are in the least degree decisive on the question. He would say that they merely quote the ordinary Scripture phrases, as Origen himself did, and as all the Origenists did, though they denied that these phrases meant — and some of them offered arguments to show that they could not mean — what they have most commonly been explained to mean.*(1) To quote the mere phrase "eternal," in proof that an ancient writer meant endless, is to waste time. If the use of these expressions, especially in perfectly general and often purely rhetorical passages, is to be held decisive, then no one has ever been an Origenist, not even Origen himself. Many of the passages quoted, e.g. that from St. Athanasius, have no real bearing on the question at issue. There is strong sense in the remark of Petavius as regards the attempt to show that Origen was not an Origenist because he used such expressions as "eternal," &c. "Nihil," he says, "hoc genere defensionis levius est"; and he shows that Origen did use this language, but attached to it an entirely different sense, believing that even after the "eternal judgment," and after the future age, there would be a final restoration. A sin may be unpardonable, and may involve endless loss, without at all involving the agonies of endless torments in hell.
*(1) Bishop Huet, in his Origeniana, pointed out the futility of this argument (that a writer believed in "endless" because he spoke of "aeonian" punishment) 200 years ago. Origen, he says, used the same language, "hac enim voce longius sed finiendum tempus intellexit." — Origeniana, p. 233.
2. On the other hand, there is no question whatever that Tertullian, Minucius Felix, the author of the Pseudo-Clementines, Cyril, and many of the later writers quoted, did believe that "eternal" meant "endless"; but an Origenist might fairly ask, How does their belief affect me?*(1) They are writers who are not entitled to any great respect. The first indisputable trace of this view occurs in the fierce pages of the Montanist Tertullian, whose "devoutly ferocious disposition" offered a fitting engine for its propogation. It then reappears in Minucius Felix, together with the hideos theory — of which there is not a trace in Scripture — that the fire of torment is miraculously created to renew what it destroys, in order that the agony may be endless.*(2) It finds its first formal elaboration in the Pseudo-Clementines *(3), malicious Ebionite fictions, written in a spirit of intense hatred to St. Paul, whom they covertly slander under the name of Simon Magus *(4). We next find it in the ill-instructed laymen Lactantius, who, with other writers, begins to adopt the new and unwarrantable theory of the body specially immortalized to resist the consumption of material fire. Afterwards no doubt these theories, of which Scripture says nothing, were idly repeated by multitudes without examination and without thought. Are we (an Origenist might ask) to accept these un-Scriptural accretions on authority so poor and so questionable, when the authors of them do not offer the shadow of an argument in their favour? Testimonies like these are mere ciphers. Is Tertullian, who lapsed into heresy, and Minucius Felix, a Roman lawyer of little theological knowledge, and the forgers of the Clementines, who were both heretics and slanderers, and "the Christian Cicero", who is constantly hovering on the verge of heresies due to imperfect training, and Cyril, of whom one prefers to say as little as possible — are these men to be taken as authoritative interpreters of the sense to be put upon the Scriptural expressions of other Fathers? Is it because of their ipse dixit that you try to impose on my conscience human inventions founded on false inferences and false interpretation — the "sentient fire" and the "salted body" — which my moral sense cannot but abhor?
*(1) "Fatentur illi Deum intendere peccatoribus contumacibus poenas aeternas…sed aiunt propterea Deum jus remittendarum, si videatur, poenarum, nequaquam amisisse. Sic carceri perpetuo addicentur rei quos postea summa potestas, si velit, liberat. Sic leges feruntur aeternae, quas tamen ligislator abrogare potest." — Theod. Alethinus (ad Petav. L. c.). This, however, was rather the argument of later writers, and is the one adopted by Archbishop Tillotson, and by Less, Dogm. P. 587. This argument (e.g. that a man may be condemned, and justly, to "penal servitude for life," and yet may, without any falsity or injustice, be liberated before death) does not, I think, occur so early as Origen's time.
*(2) So, too, Lactantius, Instt. vii. 21. "Divinus ignis una eademque vi et potentia et cremabit impios et recrebit, et quantum e corporibus absumet tantum reponit, et sibi ipse aeternum pabulum subministrabit." — See supra, p. 97, infra, p. 455.
*(3) Yet in Ps. Clem. Hom. iii. 6, we find, "For they cannot endure for ever who have been impious against the one God."
*(4) Von Coln in Ersch u. Gruber, Encycloop. xviii. 35. "In den Clementinen herrscht eine weit entschiedener sich aussprechende Polemik gegen die Person und Lehre des Apostel Paulus als in den Recognitionen." — SCHLIEMANN, Clement. p. 96, seq.; LIGHTFOOT, Galatians, p. 306, seq.; STANLEY, Corinthians, p. 366, seq.
3. Further, it might be shown that many even of these writers did not accept the post-Reformation dogma of hell with no purgatorial punishment. The St. Cyril of Jerusalem *(1) speaks of a fire which shall test as well as a fire which shall punish, and like many other Fathers, derived this view from I Cor. iii. 13. Thus too Caesarius of Arles says that sinners are "to be tormented for a long period, that they may come to eternal life without wrinkle or spot."*(2)
*(1) Cyril Hieros. Catech. 15. pur dokimastikon twn anqrwpwn.
*(2) Caesar. Arelat. Hom. viii. 3.
4. Lastly, - besides the indecisiveness of many of them — let us notice that the testimonies quoted by Dr. Pusey, as they grow in definiteness and horror with each succeeding century, until we come at last to the unmitigated atrocities of the Dialogues of Gregory the Great, the Elucidarium, the writings of Bede, and the vision of Dante, are drawn mainly from the post-Apostolic Fathers. The silence, or entire vagueness, or distinct counter-testimony of the Apostolic Fathers is not without deep significance. From the earliest of them all — St. Clemens Romanus — Dr. Pusey cannot quote one relevant word. He devotes three chapters to the Resurrection (Ep. 26-28); but like St. Paul, St. James, and St. John in their Epistles, does not say a single word about the hopeless fate of sinners, still less as to their endless torment*(1). The one expression in the letters of the Pseudo-Barnabas is not only indecisive, but must be at least modified by the apparent belief in the destruction of the wicked which seems to be indicated by the phrase that "the day is at hand in which all things will be destroyed along with the hopeless wicked one," and the more so because he contrasts the "resurrection" of the blessed with the "retribution" of the wicked *(2). From St. Polycarp nothing can be quoted except the words which he is reported to have said at his martyrdom — words respecting the genuineness and accuracy of which we can feel no certainty whatever, and which are not decisive even if we could.
*(1) The word "judgments" in c. 27 refers to temporal judgments.
*(2) Ep. Barn. c. 21.
But now look at the names which for the present I have passed over — the names of Hermas, St. Justine Martyr, St. Irenaeus, St. Clemens of Alexandria , Origen. Who would deny that these writers are of incomparably higher authority than any of those mentioned in the last paragraph? Yet every one of them — not to mention Tatian and Arnobius — has written words which at least seem to run counter to the theory of unending material agony, which first makes its appearance under such questionable sanction.
1. HERMAS, if a fanciful, was a deeply pious writer of the first century. His famous book, The Shepherd, is quoted as Scripture by St. Irenaeus *(1), and was read publicly in the churches *(2). Hermas, in the Parable of the Tower, certainly taught a possible amelioration after death *(3); for a possibility of "repentance", and so of being ultimately built into the tower, is granted to some of the rejected stones *(4). Others, again, of stones which have been thrown farther away, will be built, though "in another and much inferior place, and that only when they have been tortured, and have completed the days of their sins." There is much more to the same effect, both in the Visions and in the Similitudes. In the sixteenth chapter of the Ninth Similitude Hermas tells us of certain stones which came out of the pit, and were applied to the building of the Tower, because they had been made "to know the name of the Son of God" by means of "the Apostles and teachers who preached the name of the Son of God, after falling asleep in the power of faith of the Son of God, - preached it not only to those who were asleep, but themselves also gave them the seal of the preaching. *(5) And again, "Some of them then descended into the water, but these [Christ and the Apostles] descended living, and living ascended; but those who had died before descended dead, but ascended living." *(6) In this passage it is surely impossible not to see the theory, which is again found in St. Clement of Alexandria, and to which Bishop Butler alludes, that inferior souls may be saved, or improved, hereafter by the agency of superior ones. *(7) This theory is not indeed to be found in Scripture; but it was inferred, not unnaturally, and in very early days, from the doctrine of Christ's descent into hell. Lastly, when Hermas says that "non-repentance involves death," and that "as many as do not repent, but abide in their deeds, shall utterly perish," he is using language which many indeed be interpreted of "eternal condemnation", but which (as a matter of literary criticism) surely cannot be proved to exclude the interpretation which is put upon it by those whom, for brevity's sake, we may sometimes call Annihilationists.
*(1) Adv. Haer. iv. 20, p. 253.
*(2) Euseb. H. E. iii. 3, v. 8
*(3) After careful study of the Pastor of Hermas this seems to me almost indisputable.
*(4) Pastor, Vis. iii. 2, 5. See too Simil. ix. 8.
*(5) Hermas, Vis. iii.; Simil. ix. 16.
*(6) Id. Past. iii. ib. See on this Clem. Alex. Strom. ii. 277; vi. 460.
*(7) Butler , Analogy, i. c. 3. "This happy effect of virtue would have a tendency by way of example, and possibly other ways, to amend those of them" ["vicious creatures in any distant scene or period throughout the universal kingdom of God "] "who are capable of amendment." The same notion is found in the Rabbis. See the quotation from Jalkuth Koheleth, supra, p. 204.
2. ST. JUSTIN MARTYR (+circ. A.D. 195) repeatedly uses the expression "eternal fire," and in one place "the endless suffering of eternal fire,"*(1) and argues (if it can be called argument) that if there be no "eternal fire," there is no God! I cannot see that he necessarily meant "endless" in all its strictness, even though he uses aidios, and contrasts "eternal" with "a period of a thousand years only."*(2) Indeed, if he be so understood, his argument becomes perfectly senseless. It is quite intelligible to say that "if there be no future retribution there is no God"; but it is nothing better than nonsense to say that "if there be no endless torment there is no God." And moreover Justin accepts the words he puts into the mouth of the "aged man" by whom he was converted, who, denying the inherent immortality of the soul, says, "Such as are worthy to see God die no more, but others shall undergo punishment as long as it shall please Him that they shall exist and be punished."*(3) I must confess — respectfully as I would weigh the arguments of Mr. H. N. Oxenham, and of Dr. Pusey, and of those whom they follow — that these words still seem to me to imply an opinion on the part of St. Justin that at the end of a certain time, defined by the will of God, the punishment of souls shall cease either by the cessation of their existence or the removal of their punishment. Such would certainly be the interpretation of the words by any unbiased reader reading them for the first time. Such, in point of fact, is the interpretation put on this and other passages which I shall quote from other Fathers, not only by such orthodox writers as Petavius, but also by a divine of such high authority as Huet, Bishop of Avranches.*(4) It is not too much to say that no one could have understood the passages which I shall quote from Irenaeus, Ambrose, Ambrosiater, and Jerome in any other sense, but for the desire of getting rid of their obvious meaning. "This idea," says Rothe, "is very ancient in the Church. Even Hermas, Justin Martyr, and Arnobius thought that God would annihilate the lost."*(5)
*(1) apaustw s kolazesqai, Apol. p. 264. It is remarkable that when the Fathers wish (even in rhetorical or popular language) to indicate this conception they always have to deviate into such unscriptural phrases as apaustw s, &c. — See Apol. lii. lxi. lxvii.
*(2) aiwnian kolasin..all ouci ciliontaeth periodon. - Apol. i. p. 57.
*(3) ai de kolazontai, e s t an auta s kai e l nai kai kolazesqai d Qeo s qelh - Dial. C. Tryph. P. 223. In Dial. P. 224, the old man says, "When this union" (of soul and body) "is to be dissolved, the soul quits the body and the man no longer exists; so when the soul is no longer to exist, the vital spirit departs from it, and it exists no longer" ( ouk estin h yuch eti ), "but departs thither whence it was taken." Bishop Kaye (Just. Mart. P. 102) admits that "the former mode of expression implies the possibility that the torments of the wicked may have an end." Even if he be right in saying that Justin did not accept this opinion (and certainly, if he did, his language is not quite consistent), still the testimony to the unreproved antiquity of the opinion in the Christian Church is important.
*(4) See Huet, Origeniana, p. 231 (in Delarue, Opp. Orig. iv.).
*(5) Dogmatik, iii. 158.
But, it is argued, St. Justin cannot mean to imply that souls would ever cease to exist, because of his previous words, "Souls never perish, for this would be indeed a godsend to the wicked."*(1) Surely this argument is indecisive. St. Justin would have been strictly consistent if he meant that they never perish of themselves; never perish apart from the express will of God. And I am the more inclined to think that this may be his meaning, because elsewhere he says that "they only will attain to immortality who lead holy and virtuous lives." Certainly this would be a contradiction of the next words, that the wicked "will be punished in aeonian fire," if aeonian necessarily meant endless, but no otherwise. Both Mr. Oxenham and Dr. Pusey believe in purgatory. Neither of them, therefore, would, I suppose, argue that St. Justin excludes the idea of purgatory when he says that "others" (i.e. such as are not worthy to see God) "shall be punished as long as it shall please God that they shall be punished"; for certainly they cannot prove that "those who, at death, are unworthy to see God," can only mean the wicked who, at death, are doomed to hell. If, then, the latter words may mean a terminable punishment, why may
Not the former words imply — "if God will it" — a terminable existence?*(2) But this, they say, is "heresy." Be it so, if they like to call it so, for not being an "Annihilationist" any more than I am an "Universalist," I must leave the defence of that view to those who hold it. But the question is not whether or not it has been subsequently pronounced to be "heresy," but whether it is, or is not, the plain meaning — whether he were consistent with himself or inconsistent — of St. Justin's words. That is a literary and a critical question on which no mere dictum, however severe, will be taken as decisive.*(3)
*(1) Apol. xii. 29.
*(2) Comp. Apol. ii. 7, p. 46. "God delays the…dissolution of the world so that evil angels and demons and men may cease to be" ( mhketiwsi) .
*(3) When I referred in a very summary sentence of my Sermons (p. 84) to Justin Martyr as one of those Fathers who held a view "more or less analogous" to Universalism, I was thinking of this passage as implying Purgatory for some, extinction for others.
3. I come to ST. IRENAEUS.
Respecting his testimony, and that of all other writers, I may here claim the application of two principles: (1) that his current phraseology must be always interpreted by any special limitation which, in any particular passage, he lays down respecting it; and (2) that the apparent meaning of a passage is not to be set aside on the plea that it disaccords with the meaning, real or supposed, of other passages.
 The first principle is surely one of common sense. I may use common expressions which are now understood in a particular manner; but if in any passage I define or explain the sense in which I employ them, the meaning of this definition or limitation is not to be overruled by the supposed meaning of my general expressions: on the contrary, they are to be explained in accordance with it. The sense of twelve, or any number of vague passages is to be explained by one definite passage; not it by them.
 As to the second principle: If Origen was inconsistent; if both the two great and eloquent Gregoris were inconsistent; if even St. Augustine — elaborately as he discusses the question — is far from being rapidly consistent*(1) — why may not St. Irenaeus have been inconsistent, who equaled them in goodness, but was incomparably beneath them in power and learning? On this subject a mind which, however feeble, yet earnestly desires to be fair, can hardly help wavering within certain limits. The "inconsistencies" on this subject which have been so freely charged against many modern writers, and against myself, simply arise from the desire to be fair to all theories, and from the apparent antinomies of Scripture, which do not render it possible (to my mind) to lay down a series of absolutely consistent and indisputable conclusions.
*(1) "Ut enim qui semel iterumque in scribendo lapsus est, non enim sequitur ubique esse lapsum." — Petav. l. c. iii. 6, 12.
Dr. Pusey again and again seems to be writing on the assumption that it was not possible for a Father to change his opinion, or to express, at different times, opinions which differed widely from each other. Few, I think, will hold him to be justified in this assumption. Writers, both ancient and modern, are inconsistent with themselves in their eschatological teaching. Redepenning, in his well-known work on Origen, rightly says that, in the early Fathers especially, we find "elements entirely irreconcilable near one another, or mixed with one another, and the contradictions left for the most part unresolved."*(1)
*(1) Origenes, i. 90
Now St. Irenaeus (of course) uses the phrase "eternal punishment," or "eternal fire, as all use those phrases who accept the Bible; and in one passage he says that "the good things of God, being eternal and endless, the privation of them also is eternal and endless." Certainly this passage shows his opinion that the "pain of loss" (as we all believe) may be eternal and endless; though if "eternal" (aionios) meant endless (ateleutetos), then the latter word is pure tautology. That phrase inclines me to believe that St. Irenaeus adopted the high Johannine sense of the word aionios, taken alone, though he added to it the connotation of endlessness.*(1) The multiplication of such passages would not have weighed a feather in the mind of Origen even as evidence, much less as argument. He would have asked, "Why should not Irenaeus have interpreted Scriptural words in what I believe to be their real sense, which we may well suppose that he knew by tradition from St. John ?" But when we come to a definite statement, what does St. Irenaeus say? Commenting on the words, "prepared for the devil and his angels," he says that it implies that "not for man, in the first place, was prepared the eternal fire, but for him who beguiled man…However those too will justly receive it who, like them [Satan and his angels], persevere in works of wickedness without repentance and without return." Do these words mean only persevere until death? If we assume that they do, let us turn to another passage in the same book, where St. Irenaeus again draws a contrast between Satan and man; he says that "God hated Satan, but by slow degrees took pity on man. Wherefore also He cast man out of Paradise …not as grudging him the Tree of Life…but in pity on him that he might not last for ever as a sinner; and that the sin which was in him might not be immortal, and an infinite and incurable evil." Mr. Oxenham and Dr. Pusey tells us with absolute confidence, that these words only allude to an immortality in a sinful state on earth. It may be so, but I do not see why an earthly immortality should more necessarily have made his sin "an infinite and incurable evil." It may be held that St. Irenaeus meant that by eating of the Tree of Life Adam would have obtained an inherent immortality, in which case — apart from the repentance which was left to his own free will — his sin would have been an incurable evil; whereas, excluded from the Tree of Life, he might, as St. Justin says, have lived only as long as it shall please God that he should exist. And this would precisely accord with the prima facie sense of the other passage, that life is not of ourselves, nor of our own nature, but is given according to the grace of God. "Wherefore he who shall have preserved the gift of life, and been thankful to the Giver, shall receive also length of days for ever and ever. But whoso shall have cast it away, and become unthankful to his Maker, even because he was made, and will not recognize Him that bestoweth it, that man deprives himself of perseverance for ever."*(1) Of "perseverance in happiness," says the translator; of "perseverance in good," says Mr. Oxenham; "of which St. Irenaeus says the wicked render themselves for ever incapable."*(2) In fact they interpret this passage solely of divine life, as they interpreted the other solely of earthly life. But Irenaeus is not talking about perseverance in good at all, but of the wicked, who have flung away all good. Had his meaning been that which Dr. Pusey and Mr. Oxenham attribute to him, he would surely have said that the wicked deprive themselves of all recovery, not of all perseverance in what (confessedly) they have not got. Nor does Mr. Oxenham clinch his argument by quoting from the heading of the chapter that "souls are immortal." Irenaeus mean (as he expressly says) that immortality is not an inherent quality of souls, but the gift of God; and he therefore clearly held that He who gives could also take away. The gloss which they put on the passage may be correct: but I appeal to any unbiased arbiter to say whether it does not subject the language to a very severe strain, and whether the other contention is not the more obvious? If the annihilation theory, which is also found in Arnobius,*(3) had not been subsequently treated as heresy, I greatly doubt whether any one would have interpreted the words otherwise. Bishop Jeremy Taylor and Bishop Huet, among many other divines quite equal in learning and power to Dr. Pusey, understood these passages of Justin Martyr and Irenaeus without the smallest doubt or hesitation, exactly as I have understood them.*(4) Nor can I admit that such an explanation renders Irenaeus so inconsistent with himself as is asserted. I referred to these passages as clearly seeming to imply either the ultimate redemption (from bondage), or the total destruction of sinners. Dr. Pusey mistakes my disjunctive; I did not mean the two clauses to be co-extensive. I meant that these passages of St. Irenaeus seemed to me to imply that some sinners would have a terminable punishment (which Dr. Pusey also believes in the form of purgatory); that others would only exist "as long as God should please." So then "endless punishment" (for some) are not contradictory theories; and Dr. Pusey is mistaken in making me say that St. Irenaeus anywhere implied "universal restoration." He does not do so, and I never said he did. But though I have never leaned to the theory of annihilation, that does not make me at all sure that no such thought lies in these passages of St. Justin and St. Irenaeus. My references were thoroughly justified, and I still adhere to the natural sense of the passages to which I referred.
*(1) It is needless to remark that ateleuthto s and dhnekh s, the words used by Irenaeus, are in this application unsanctioned by Scripture as are also such phrases as aperanto s timwria, aiwnio s timwria (Theoph.), aqanata basanizomai (Basil), kolasi s ei s apeirou s aiwna s (Chrys.), and others used by the later Fathers.
*(2) Catholic Eschatology, p. 113.
*(3) Arnob. Adv. Gent. ii. 14.
*(4) Jer. Taylor, Sermons (Works, iv. 43.); Huet, ubi supra.
4. Two passages are quoted in which ST. CLEMENS OF ALEXANDRIA uses the phrases "eternal death" and "the punishment of eternity." The former is not a Scriptural phrase; but (as I have said) controversially speaking, both phrases count for absolutely nothing until it is shown that Clemens could not have understood "eternal" exactly as Origen understood it. But the three passages to which I had referred are as follows: In my Sermons — speaking generally of various Fathers — I said that they taught a view "more or less analogous" to Universalism.*(1) In the Excursus (p. 157) I said that "though Clemens does not express himself with perfect distinctness, yet the whole drift of his remarks proves that he could not have held an unmitigated doctrine of endless punishment, but only of a punishment which would necessarily cease, when its remedial object was attained," and that, "like Origen, he seems to imply an ultimate amendment of ever evil nature." Again and again I have been fiercely taunted with ignorance, with excitedness, with rhetoric, with want of precision: I am quite willing to admit these or any other faults where they exist; I neither put forth nor have ever put forth, any claims whatever, of even the humblest kind, for myself or my writings. But here is the evidence to which I referred in proof of what I said. Let every fair mind judge whether I had sufficient ground for my remarks or not.
*(1) Eternal Hope, p. 84.
Here then is a passage which still seems to me "more or less analogous" to Universalism.
a. St. Clemens devotes three chapters of the first books of the Paedagogus "to all who think that the just is not good." They are of course much too long to quote, but let any one read them through, and then say that their large and merciful drift does not tend to a wider hope for sinners than can be excluded by his use of the two vague phrases, "everlasting death" and "the punishment of eternity." If however he has any doubt on the subject, let him turn to the principal work of St. Clemens, the Stromata, where, among the many proofs which he adduces to show that the Greeks had borrowed their wisdom from the Hebrews, He quotes from the Comedian Diphilus the lines "about the judgment," in which he speaks of the two paths to Hades — that of the just and that of the impious — and of the final universal conflagration; and then adds "and tragedy is concordant with these," and quotes the passage which ends with — " And then He shall save all things which He formerly destroyed."*(1)
*(1) Strom. v. 14. 123.
B. It is true that St. Clemens is only quoting, but he is quoting with approval, and he probably meant these lines to allude to the restitution of all things. For in an earlier passage he compares the partial designs and energies of evil to bodily diseases "which are guided by the general providence to a wholesome end, even if the cause be unhealthy": and he proceeds to argue that it would be "the highest greatness of divine Providence not to permit the permanence of the useless and unprofitable evil which sprang from voluntary apostasy;….for it is the work of divine wisdom and virtue and power not only to do good — for this, so to speak, is the nature of God, as it is of fire to warm and of light to illuminate, - but the following especially, (namely) by means of the evils devised by some to accomplish some good and blessed end, and to use beneficially the things that seem vile."*(1) Further, let the reader study the second chapter of the second book of the Stromata, on the universality of Christ's rule and His tender love and care for men. Finally let him consider the following passages. Speaking of the futility of the notion that the gods requited robbers and tyrants with good because of their burnt offerings; he adds — "But we say that the fire sanctifies not the flesh, but the sinful souls, meaning thereby not that all-consuming and vulgar fire, but the intelligential fire ( fronimon ) which passeth through the soul that cometh through the fire." (Strom. vii. 6, p. 34 ad fin.)*(2)
*(1) Strom. i. 7, 86.
*(2) On this passage see Bishop Kaye's St. Clement, and Dr. Newman's Essay on Development, p. 306.
And again: -
"All things have been appointed by the Lord of all for the salvation of all, both in general and in particular…Necessary discipline, by the goodness of the great overseeing Judge, through the proximate angels, through various previous judgments, through the final judgments, compels even those who have entirely despaired to repent."*(1)
*(1) Strom. vii. 7 (p. 835, ed. Poetter). See Bishop Kaye's Clemens of Alex. P. 208.
In a fragment of his commentary on I John ii. 2, dwelling on the death of Christ "for the whole world," he says, "Accordingly He saves indeed all, but by converting some by means of punishments, but other who follow with spontaneous will, and in accordance with the worthiness of His honour 'that ever knew may be bent to Him, of celestial, terrestrial, and infernal things,'*(1) — that is angels, men, and souls which before His coming passed from this temporal life."*(2)
*(1) Phil. ii. 10.
*(2) Fragm. Ed. Potter, p. I, 009
Again, explaining various beatitudes, he says on "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted" ( paraklhqhsontai ) — "For those that repented for the evils of their previous life shall be present at the calling; for that is the meaning of paraklhqhnai. Now the ways of the penitent are twofold, - the commoner [is] fear at what he has done, but the more special, the soul's shame with reference to itself arising from conscience, whether it be here or even elsewhere, since no place is vacant of the well-doing of God."*(1)
*(1) Strom. iv. 6, 37
Again speaking of punishment, he draws a very real distinction between kolasis, which is the normal Scripture word, and timoria (vengeance), which occurs once only, and then of the most hopeless apostates, in Hebrews x. 29. "Punishment," he says, "is for the good and advantage of him who is being punished, for it is the amendment of one who resists; but vengeance (timoria) is a requital of evil, sent for the interest of the avenger. Now He would not desire to avenge Himself on us, who teaches us to pray for those who despitefully use us."*(1)
*(1) Paedag. i. 8, 70, and passim; and compare with this passage the merciful sentiments of Strom. vii. Chapters xiii., xiv., and xvi.; and respecting the sole true function of punishment, Strom. vi. 38, p. 768, ed. Potter. This view of punishment is invariably found in St. Clemens. See Baur, Dogmengesch. i. 718.
Once more, it is not insignificant to notice that St. Clemens was perhaps the earliest to speak quite distinctly (for the allusion of Hermas is not so clear) of the belief that the Apostles, as well as our Lord, preached to the dead — and even to the sinful dead — in Hades, and thereby gave them at least the chance of repentance.*(1)
*(1) See Strom. vi. 6. oi en adou katagente s kai ei s apwleian eautou s ekdedwkote s ..autoi toinun eisin oi epakousante s th s qeia s dunamew s te kai fwnh s. Also Strom. ii.
Moreover there is another argument unnoticed by those who vainly attempt to explain away these passages of St. Clemens. His book called Hypotyposes, or "Sketches," has not come down to us, and the history of it is obscure. But Photius tells us that in that book he taught the doctrine of metempsychosis. If that be so, does it not prove that the supposed unanimity on these subjects in the ancient Church is very much exaggerated? The opinions of the Fathers differed, just as ours do, within the limits of ever tenable interpretation of phrases which they all employed. Neither they nor we possess more than a few general conclusions respecting a subject which it has pleased God to reveal to us only in its barest outline.
Lastly, there is so close an analogy between the entire philosophic and theological views of St. Clemens and Origen that, even apart from these proofs, there would have been at least a strong presumption in favour of the master having held a view which was a keystone in the closely allied system of the pupil.
Here, then, is my evidence for what I said. Let all fair readers judge whether both isolated passages of this learned Father and the entire drift of his teaching do not point to a hope larger than that of popular theology. He does not lay down any dogma of Universalism. I never said he did. But he does use some arguments which logically tend in that direction, and are certainly not to be swept aside because he fully admits (as we all do) a future retribution, and in one passage uses the word aidios. "But he is thereby referring," says Dr. Pusey, "to the fire of the day of judgment (I Cor. iii. 13), and to Christ's descent into hell." Be it so: the admission of those doctrines, in the full significance which was given to them by many of the Fathers, is all that I desire. But his arguments point and tend — and especially the passages about punishment wo which I referred, *(1) but which neither Mr. Oxenham nor Dr. Pusey notice — to those views for which alone I pleaded: - views which admit the possibility of alleviations after death, and which are far more merciful than the mass of popular accretions which constitute the ordinary conceptions of an endless hell.
*(1) Eternal Hope, p. 158.
Reserving Origen for a separate chapter, I will quote one passage from ARNOBIUS. If he was, "though sincere, yet never well instructed," he may well pair off with Tatian, or Lactantius, or Minutius Felix. He says: -
"For they [certain souls] are hurled down, and having been reduced to nothing, vanish in the frustration of a perpetual destruction, for they are of intermediate quality, and such as can perish if they have not known the God of life." (Adv. Gentes, ii. 14.)
Can there be any reasonable doubt as to the opinion of Arnobius? Was it not that these souls would be annihilated? His opinion, it will be answered, is of no importance. It is at least of as much importance as those of other authors whom Dr. Pusey quotes; and if of no importance as authority, it will not be denied that it is important as evidence. It appears, then, that this Christian apologist did not hold endless torments to be a matter of faith. Does his opinion throw no light on the passages of Tatian, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus? If so, is not the consensus, built so largely on mere disputable phrases, a little weakened? Again, I say, let all fair readers judge.
5. That ST. ATHANASIUS believed — just as we do — that some souls might "perish everlastingly," I have little doubt; though it could not be proved by the allusion to the unpardonable sin, or the reference to Matt. xxv. 46, which Dr. Pusey adduces. But, so far as I am aware, he alludes but once in all his writings to Origen's eschatology, and that but obliquely, speaking of that great and good man in a manner thoroughly tolerant and respectful, with the epithets of "wonderful and most laborious."*(1) Had Origen's theory of Restoration (which it must never be forgotten was something far more questionable than even Universalism, and incomparably more dubious than the Catholic opinion that there is such thing as a terminable retribution) been in the eyes of the early Church the deadly and dangerous error which some have supposed it to be, would Athanasius have contented himself with one slight allusion to it accompanied by a compliment to the author?*(2) Would Origen's bitter enemy, Epiphanius, more than a full century later, have passed it over absolutely without mention in the list of errors which he discovered, or imagined, or inferred that he had discovered in the writings of Origen?
*(1) See Cave , Lives of the Primitive Fathers, i. 23.
*(2) De Commun. Essent. 49.
6. We now come to ST. GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS; and to his teaching and that of St. Gregory of Nyssa, I ask special attention.
In his ordinary teaching he uses the current Scriptural expressions and allusions, and others founded on them, and does not always shrink even from the popular use of the unscriptural word aidios.*(1) Now this is what Dr. Pusey chooses to call his "positive teaching"; and he says that it requires "that inferences should not be drawn from others so as to contradict these passages," because St. Gregory "was not one who would positively assert what he did not certainly believe."*(2) "Such passages," he says, "are those adduced by Petavius, according to his wont of disparaging individual Fathers." But Petavius has not "set down aught in malice" here. He gives the natural interpretation to the passages, and it is clear that the more general phrases must be taken with reference to the more distinct assertions.
*(1) skwlhx ekeiqen esqiwn aidw s. - Car. Iamb. xix. aidio s only in Jude vi. (Rom. i. 20).
*(2) P. 211.
Mr. Oxenham admits that St. Gregory Nazianzen is "inconsistent," and that he gives "hints" in the direction of Origenism*(1); but he says  that these "hints" must be interpreted by supposing that he had not so clear a grasp of Catholic doctrine as he would have had if he had lived after the condemnation of Origenism; and  that though he and St. Gregory of Nyssa do give some real countenance ot the Origenist view, "here, as in other cases, the exception proves the rule"! I reply that  even if "Origenism" was condemned, I have never found any condemnation of Origen's general hope for mankind apart from the opinion with which he misted it up; and that  the exception in this instance proves a good deal, whether (according to the absurd popular phrase) it proves the rule or not.
*(1) Catholic Eschatology, p. 114, second edition.
Before proceeding, let the reader see what St. Gregory of Nazianzus actually says: -
a. At the end of his thirty-ninth oration, attacking the Novatians for their severity, he threatens them with a baptism of penal fire after death, and says: -
"Let them, then, if they will, walk in our way and in Christ's. If not, let them walk in their own way. Perchance there they will be baptized with the fire, with that last, that more laborious, and longer baptism, which devours the substance like hay, and consumes the lightness of all evil."*(1)
*(1) outoi men oun ei men boulointo, thn hmeteran odon kai Cristou ei de mh thn
eautwn poreuesqwsan. tucon ekei ty puri baptisqhsontai, ry teleutaiy
baptismati, ty epiponwtery kai makroterw o esqiei w s corton thn ulhn kai
dapana pash s kakia s koufothia. - Orat. xxxix. p. 690, Ben.
Dr. Pusey says that this refers to the last-day fire of I Cor. iii. 13, and so to the temporary punishment. I quite agree with him. There is no necessary Universalism in the passage, but it grants me all that I have ever desired, - namely, the tenability of a belief for which, in reality, Dr. Pusey is pleading just as much as I am, that a soul may pass into punishment after death, and yet that punishment not be final. The particular name given to that punishment is surely not essential. In ordinary language, the untenable character of which I was trying to prove, all penal fire after death is called "hell." Dr. Pusey argues that "hell" when incurred by any souls is a final, irreversible, and endless doom; but if he believes that there is — whether at, or before, the day of judgment — a purifying and penal fire which is not endless, he is granting the very thing which it was the main object of my Sermons to establish. I will not therefore pause to dwell on the fact that the Novatians, whose case St. Gregory is speaking of, are supposed to die in heresy, and in a way which is not "the way of Christ"; and that Petavius not only understand him to be speaking of "the lost," but asserts that he was similarly understood by St. Chrysostom, Photius, Theophylact, Jerome, and the Council of Florence.*(1)
*(1) "Apparet damnatorum et in alia quam in Christi via decedentium, hoc est in haeresi morientium, poenas nequaquam sempiternas constitui, tametsi longissimae sint." — PETAV. De Angelis, iii. 7, 13.
B. But though I differ from Petavius' view about this passage, I still think with him that St. Gregory of Nazianzus was deeply influenced by Origenist opinions: one who was not so would not have referred to Universalism without the least condemnation, as he does, at the close of his poem about his life, where he says that God "brings the dead to another life as partakers either of fire or of God's illuminating light. But whether even all shall hereafter partake of God, let it be discussed elseswhere."*(1)
*(1) ei de Qeou kai apanta s esusteron, alloqi keisqw. - Carm. Her. i. De Vita, ad fin.
No one, I think, would say that this last suggestion was here regarded as untenable — much less as heretical; nor can Petavius be accused of malice in thinking that it indicates a leaning to the view of Universal Restoration. Especially as St. Gregory Nazianzen has discussed the question elsewhere, so far at any rate as to use the following very remarkable words. After speaking of a "cleansing fire" of Christ, which consumes what is material and evil dispositions he adds: -
"I know also a fire not purgatorial but penal, whether that fire of Sodom which God raineth on all sinners, mingled with brimstone and tempest; or that which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; or that which goes before the face of the Lord, and shall burn up His enemies round about; and one which is still more fearful than these, which have been joined with the sleepless worm, a fire which is not quenched, but is co-enduring with the wicked. For all these things pertain to the force of destruction, unless any one likes, even in this instance, to understand this more humanely and worthily of Him who punishes."*(1)
*(1) Orat. xl. p. 720, Ben.
Now the remark of Petavius on this passage is, "It is manifest that in this place Gregory Nazianzen doubted about the pains of the damned, whether they would be endless, or whether they are to be estimated rather in accordance with the mercy of God, so as to some time to be brought to an end." Dr. Pusey and the Benedictine editor try to put another meaning on it, though what meaning is far from clear. It certainly means that there will be a terminable future retribution, and therefore it supports all that I maintained: but I believe further, that it implies, at least, a doubt whether all retribution may not be ultimately terminable. Let readers judge for themselves, and in judging let them bear in mind the fact, that in two places St. Gregory came to the belief that when Christ descended into hell He liberated thence the souls of all the dead.*(1)
*(1) Hom. xlii. 59, and more distinctly in Carm. xii., which I have quoted, supra, p. 77. For the catena of opinions on this subject, see supra, pp. 76-79.
c. But if they decide, as almost all theologians have done, that St. Gregory here leans to Origenism, it does not follow (as Dr. Pusey asserts) that he was either inconsistent,*(1) or that in his popular addresses he used language which he did not believe. Experience may have taught many of us to understand thoroughly his state of mind. There is non inconsistency in using the terms which are usually understood to imply a certain doctrine, in a sense less rigid than that in which they are usually interpreted. There is no inconsistency in cherishing, or in sometimes leaning to, a hope which goes beyond anything which we venture formally to teach. There is no hypocrisy, but very much the reverse, in declaring our belief in the possibility that God may show a larger mercy than we are able to announce as a distinctly revealed truth. And this is exactly what this great Father did. In not saying more he may have been influenced by that principle of "oeconomy" which other Fathers distinctly avow*(2); or he may have been diffident as to his own judgment; or he may have shrunk from stirring up fresh controversies. Be that as it may, the fact remains that he indicated his opinion that the universal hope of Origen, so far from being a heresy, pointed possibly to a blessed truth.
*(1) There is more apparent inconsistency in such expressions as mhd uper nukta tauthn esti ti s kaqarsi s , Orat. 32 in Pasch. and in Orat. 15, hnika kolasew s kairo s ou kaqarsew s: but there he is, I suppose, alluding to the doom beyond the judgment day.
*(2) Perhaps Neander goes too far in saying (Ch. Hist. iv. 213, 2, English translation), "that the Orientals, according to their theory of 'oeconomy,' allowed themselves many liberties, not to be reconciled with the strict laws of veracity."
d. And if so, surely the force of this fact has been overlooked and underrated! For St. Gregory of Nazianzus was no ordinary man. He was no mere Arnobius or Lactantius. Poet, orator, theologian; a man as great theologically as he was personally winning*(1); saluted by pre-eminence with the title of "The Theologian"; the sole "man whom the Church has suffered to share that title with the Evangelist St. John"*(2); in his day the acknowledged and leading champion of the orthodox faith as to the Trinity, and the Divine Humanity of Christ; the reviver of the dead and heretical Church in Constantinople; summoned by the unanimous voice of the orthodox to the patriarchate;
president of that Second Oecumenical Council to which is due the acceptance of the present form of the Nicene Creed, and at which were present more saints and confessors than have ever met in any council; the most learned and the most eloquent bishop in one of the most learned ages of the Church*(3); whom St. Basil called a vessel of election, a deep well, a mouth of Christ*(4); whom Rufinus calls "incomparable in life and doctrine"*(5): - such was St. Gregory Nazianzen by position. And his character was worthy of his position; worthy of one who was the life-long friend of St. Basil; whose life had been twice preserved almost by miracle; who had lived so many years as a solitary and as an ascetic; who even when he sate on the throne of the great and wealthy Metropolitan See, preserved his mean dress and humble demeanour, and divided his rich revenues among the poor: - a man so eminent and so good, and so looked up to by the very leaders of his generation, that it was the pride of St. Jerome's life to have sat in youth at his feet.*(6) This certainly is not the man whose opinion on such a subject can be casually set aside as a mere careless aberration into an indisputable heresy. Virtuous as he was from his earliest youth — never yielding obedience to any law but the supreme law of duty, a man too pure for a turbulent and ambitious city, a man to whose tender and poetic soul the least scruple becomes a remorse, a man of unblemished purity and boundless charity, whose mistakes rose only from the simplicity which hoped that others were as simple-hearted as himself, - one could not say of him, as modern theologians, with such true theological meekness, delight to say of those who love mercy, - that he was bribed to get rid of the doctrine of endless torments by his personal dread of it! For Gregory of Nazianzus deserved the honour of sainthood if any man has ever done, being, as he was, one of the bravest men in an age of confessors, one of the holiest men in an age of saints. His opinion may have been mistaken, or his hope may be untenable as a doctrine; but certainly if it was this hope taken alone, which "the Church" condemned so severely as some would have us believe in the case of Origen, the very same hope passed wholly uncensored in the great Patriarch of Constantinople. Appealing, uncontradicted even by his worst enemies, to the firmness of his faith and the purity of his doctrines, and preserving even to hoar hairs the charm, candour, and the inexperience of boyhood, he withdrew without a pang from the cabals of Constantinople to the shadow of his ancestral trees near the quiet town of Nazianzus, and died as purely as he had lived. And Gregory is a canonized Saint of the Church of God, while amid the sounds of many anathemas the great and noble Origen, a man far more learned and no less holy, is all but assigned by name to everlasting damnation! Such is earthly justice, and such is ecclesiastical charity! "Ille crucem sceleris pretium tulit, hic diadema."*(7)
*(1) New man, Hist. Ess. ii. 81.
*(2) Trhgoriou de touto fasin wsper idion thn qeologian...Qeologon auton
exairetw s proeipoush s monon th s twn pistwn Ekklhsia s , meta ton nion th s bronth s ton
prwton qeologon. - PHILOTH. Encom. (apud Cave, l. c. ii. 336).
*(4) Basil, Ep. cxli.
*(5) Rufinus, Frolog. In Opp. Naz.
*(6) "A happiness wherein he glories at every turn." — CAVE, Prin. Fathers, ii. 295 (JER. Ep. Ad Nepot., Catal. In Greg. Naz. &c).
*(7) Ample materials for the life of St. Gregory Nazianzen are preserved in his own poems and orations, and the reader will find a beautiful sketch of him in the fifth and sixth volumes of M. de Broglie's L'Eglise et l' Empire Romain.
7. And the case is even stronger with ST. GREGORY OF NYSSA. In the first place the fact that his opinions are expressed quite indisputably, throw no small light on the less decisive though hardly mistakable expressions of St. Clemens and St. Gregory of Nazianzus. For the hypothesis of interpolation suggested in his Anotheuton by Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, in the eighth century, is, as Petavius admits, quite vain, and has been abandoned as hopeless by every honest scholar. It belongs, as Neander *(1) says, to "the worst examples of an arbitrary caprice, regardless of honesty," and all the more so because he maintains the doctrine of Origen "with the greatest logical ability and acuteness in works written expressly for that purpose." *(2)
*(1) Ch. Hist. iv. 451.
*(2) He instances the comment on I Cor. xv. 28 (Lib. Catech. 8 and 35), the De Anima, and the tract on the early death of children.
He uses, of course, in general allusions such terms as "quenchless fire" and "endlessness," and when Dr. Pusey argues that in his "clear and explicit teaching" he shows that he must have believed in an endless hell, and therefore that he cannot have hinted at Universalism, or that if he did he was not an honest man, I must beg entirely to differ from him. The passages which Dr. Pusey quotes are by no means "clear and explicit" for the meaning which he gives to them; the passages which I shall quote are "clear and explicit" for a hope even larger than I am able to accept. Dr. Pusey minimizes them as being mere "mists of Origenism which floated over his own imaginative mind, or that of his sister St. Macrina, to whom he owed so much."*(1) But there is nothing misty about them; they are singularly lucid; they belong to whole trains of reasoning; they form part of a distinct system; and they contradict, not what he himself says, but what Dr. Pusey interprets him as saying. I agree most heartily with Dr. Pusey that to believe one thing and teach another is not honest; but he is by far too profound a patristic scholar not to be aware of passages in which the Fathers avowedly dwelt on severe doctrines because they considered them "useful" and avowedly abstained from dwelling on their real opinions respecting doctrines because they thought them "dangerous." Nor again did I say that St. Gregory meant only to give hints fwnanta sunetoisin: what I said was, that passages in his writings, and those of other Fathers, are fwnanta sunetoisin, i.e. that their meaning is clear to those who have the right clue to their interpretation, even when they might be misinterpreted by others.
*(1) What is of Faith, p. 215.
But the views of St. Gregory of Nyssa are not merely to be inferred. Any one who wills study the following passages will see that they are stated with the most unflinching precision.
a. Thus in the Catechetical Oration, speaking of the Incarnation, he says that thereby our Lord was "benefiting not only him who was lost by means of these things (i.e., man), but even him who wrought this destruction against us (i.e. the devil)"; and he adds that "when death approaches to life, and darkness to light, and the corruptible to the incorruptible, the inferior is done away with, and reduced to non-existence, and the thing purged is benefited, just as the dross is purged from gold by fire." And he then continues in these remarkable words —
"In the same way in the long circuits of time, when the evil of nature which is now mingled and implanted in them has been taken away, whensoever the restoration to their old condition of the things which now lie in wickedness takes place, there will be a unanimous thanksgiving from the whole creation, both of those who have been punished in the purification, and of those who have not at all needed purification."*(1)
*(1) Orat. Catechet. 26. kata ton auton tropon tai s makrai s periodoi s exaireqento s tou kakou th s fusew s tou nun autoi s katamicqento s kai sumfuento s , epeidan h ei s to arcaion
apokatastasi s twn nun en kakia keimenwn genhtai, omofwno s eucaristia para pash s estai th s ksisew s kai twn en th kaqarsei kekolasmenwn kai twn mhde thn archn epidehqentwn kaqarsew s.
And as though to remove all possible doubt as to his meaning, he speaks farther on of the Incarnation as — "Both liberating man from his wickedness, and healing the very inventor of wickedness (i.e., the devil)."*(1)
*(1) ton te anqrwpon th s kakia s eleuqerwn kai auton ton th s kakia s eurethn
iwmeno s Id. ib.
b. And again, in the same book, nine chapters further on, he says that men who have died unbaptised and impenitent may be saved by fire — reverting to the metaphor of purged gold. "Since then there is a cleansing power in fire and in water, they who washed away from themselves the filth of wickedness by means of the mystic water, need not the other kind of things that cleanse. But they who have been uninitiated into this purification are necessarily purified by the fire."*(1)
*(1) Id. c. 35, ad fin.
g. He expresses the same views in his book on the soul and the resurrection. The history of this book is interesting. The great Basil, the Metropolitan of Caesarea, was dead, and all Asia was plunged in mourning. Even Jews and Pagans bewailed his death. What then must have been the feelings of his younger brother, St. Gregory of Nyssa, as he carried the news to their sainted sister, Macrina, to whom both he and Basil, humanly speaking, owed their souls? She was living in deep retirement at the head of a community of virgins, and, as he told her the sad event, the young Bishop was overwhelmed with a grief which it seemed as if even the consolations of religion could hardly dispel. The sister sustained the fainting soul of the brother. She poured forth such lofty and holy thoughts on the future destiny of man, that St. Gregory thought it his duty to record and perpetuate them.*(1) He did so in this treatise, and it stands in the front rank among his extant works.
*(1) St. Greg. Naz. Or. xliii. 86.
This then is the sentiment which he attributes to St. Macrina. Referring to St. Paul 's prophecy (I Cor. xv. 28) of the day when God would be "all things in all" ( panta en pasin ), she says that in this passage "The Word seems to her to lay down the doctrine of the perfect obliteration of wickedness, for if God shall be in all things that are, obviously wickedness shall not be in them."*(1)
*(1) en toutw de moi dokei ton pantelh th s kakia s afanismon dogmatizein o logo s ei gar en pasin toi s ousin d Qeu s estai h kakia dhladh onk estai en toi s ousin. - De Anim. Et Resurrect. Opp. i. 852, ed. Paris .
d. And in the same book, speaking on Phil. Ii., the saint says that St. Paul means that angels, men, and demons will all bow the knee in the name of Jesus, "Signifying this in that passage, that when evil has been obliterated in the long circuits of the aeons, nothing shall be left outside the limits of good, but even from them shall be unanimously uttered the confession of the Lordship of Christ."*(1)
*(1) Id. ib.
e. Again, in the oration about the dead, he says that patriarchs, apostles, and men who preferred a virtuous to a sensual and material enjoyment are purged here on earth, but that the rest fling off their propensity to that which is earthly in the cleansing fire.*(1)
*(1) twn de loipwn dia th s ei s usteron agwgh s en ty kaqarsiw pupi apobalontwn
thn pro s thn ulhn poospaqeian. - De Mortuis Orat. p. 635. See supra, pp. 41, 42
Thus then this eminently great and orthodox Father deliberately argued that God, the Fountain of Good, created rational beings to be receptacles ( aggeia ) of good; that evil is the disturbance of harmony between the soul and its destination, which is to receive godlike life; that "reward" and "punishment" are inadequate terms arising out of the disturbance of this harmony; that all punishments are means of purification ordained by Divine Love to restore fallen man; that God would not have permitted the existence of evil unless He had foreseen that, in the end, all rational beings would attain to blessed fellowship with Himself. I am far from arguing that these views are irrefragable; I only say that they were undoubtedly held by St. Gregory of Nyssa.*(1)
*(1) It would be superfluous to quote further passages, equally strong or stronger, but the reader may consult the works of St. Gregory (ed. Paris, 1615), i. 99, 100, 844, 853 (v. et Tunc ipse Filius, & c., ad fin.); ii. 493, 533, 654, 661, 691, 1,076 in all of which passages the whole train of reasoning, and not merely a few isolated words, point in this direction. See too Dallaeus, De Poenis et Satisfactionibus, 372-377; Huet's Origeniana, lib. ii. qu. ix. De Proemiis et Poenis; Sixtus Senensis, l.c.; Neander, iv. 456, &c.
Germanus might well admit that these passages could have but one meaning; and Petavius may well ask "Potuitne quidquam apertius ex Origenis opinione illa disputari?"*(1) It would indeed require an elaborate and not very honest ingenuity to explain these passages away. It will be needless to refer to passages in his tract "On the Early Death of Children," or in his other various works and sermons. Those here quoted are sufficiently decisive.
*(1) De Angelis, iii. 4.
And as Dr. Plumptre has pointed out, it is most significant that St. Gregory enumerates these opinions without the least apparent consciousness that he is thus "deviating into the byepaths of new and strange opinions." I imagine that such a charge would have greatly surprised him. "He claims to be taken his stand on the doctrines of the Church in thus teaching, with as much confidence as when he is expounding the mysteries of the Divine nature as set forth in the creed of Nicaea ."*(1)
*(1) Dict. Of Christian Biog. S. v. Eschatology.
What then becomes, let me ask once more, of the somewhat unworthy insinuation, repeated by one after another of the writers on this question, that Christians who embrace the larger hope must necessarily be unorthodox as to the divinity of Christ? Dr. Cazenove tells us — and he is rapturously quoted by a host of followers eager to seize any weapon against a dogma which they repudiate — that he has "not been able to discover a single impugner of the dogma of eternal punishment who is consistent in his denial, and at the same time orthodox." So then it seems that the orthodoxy of St. Gregory of Nazianzus and St. Gregory of Nyssa was saved solely because they were "inconsistent"! That they contradict themselves I deny; and it will take stronger hands than those of the writers who praise Dr. Cazenove's remark to brand with heresy respecting the Trinity and the Incarnation the names of the two great Fathers — the greatest of their day — the one called preeminently "the Theologian," the other "the Father of Fathers" — the brother of Basil, the heir of his thoughts and of his fame — whose writings were appealed to for centuries afterwards as the chief bulwark of the Nicene faith.
Let honest men, let those who prefer truth to ingenuity, judge this question afresh in the light of the facts which I have now proved. To confine myself at present to three names only: - ST. MACRINA, Saint and Virgin, to whom the Church owes no little of the career of her great brothers; ST. GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS, the Patriarch, and the President of the Second Oecumenical Council; ST. GREGORY OF NYSSA, the Confessor for the Fatith, to whose authority was mainly due the introduction of the new clauses into the Nicene Creed,*(1) and to whose writings the Council of Ephesus appealed as containing the strongest arguments against Arian heresy, *(2) expressed, quote openly, a doctrine or a hope on the subject of the final restoration of mankind which is not distinguishable from that of Origen. For expressing this hope, or this doctrine, they were never abused, never attacked, never censured, never so much as challenged. They lived, and they died, and they have continued in the odour of sanctity. They are recognized as Saints and Fathers to this day. The Church history of their century is filled with their names and their eulogies. We are inheritors of the faith of which they were the most conspicuous champions. No men did more for the recognition by the Church of the Divinity and Personality of the Holy Spirit. And yet we are asked to believe that Origen was condemned and anathematized because more than a century earlier he expressed the very same opinion which they openly repeated without so much as a shisper of disapproval on the part of their contemporaries!
*(1) Nicephorus, xii. 13, ad fin., says that he wrote them; but this seems to be a mistake, for they are found before his time. See Swainson, Nicene and Apostles' Creed, pp. 94 seq.; Hort, Two Dissertations, p. 107; Stanley, Christian Institutions, p. 331.
*(2) Tillemont, Mem. Eccl. ix. 601
Credat Judaeus — non ego! The opinion for which even Origen was condemned (except by individual writers), was not his hope for the ultimate restoration of mankind, but only for a far wider and far more questionable scheme, in which this hope was but an accidental element.
And, to my mind, these facts entirely destroy all semblance of credibility for the opinion that the Church, speaking authoritatively, ever was either decisive or unanimous in its condemnation of that single point of Origen's opinion which may be described as "the larger hope". The express words of these Fathers outweigh scores of vague repeated traditional expressions of other Fathers — of whom the majority had not a tittle of their learning or their weight, and whose expressions, for the most part, neither decide nor were meant to decide anything whatever as to the point at issue. Compared with the Cappadocian theologians many of those to whom Dr. Pusey refers were but "off-hand dogmatists."*(1)
*(1) autoscedioi doguatistai. - Greg. Nyss.
8. Nor amid the purely general, and often quite irrelevant utterances — the mere repetition of Scripture metaphors — to be found in comparatively unimportant writers like St. Andrew of Caesarea and St. Macarius of Egypt (both of whom speak of milder and severer punishments), St. Serapion, Paphnutius, Serenus, Moyses, &c. — can I at all assent to the sweeping aside the evidence of such truly great men and profound thinkers as DIODORUS OF TARSUS and THEODORE OF MOPSUESTIA, as though it were of no importance.*(1) That evidence may be seen in Assemanni, Bibliotheca Orientalis (iii. 323-324), as preserved by Salomo, Metropolitan of Bassora, A.D. 1222. Theodore of Mopsuestia argued for the restoration of the wicked from Matt. v. 26, inferring that the time might come when the debt might be paid to the uttermost farthing, and from Luke xiii. 47, 48 inferring that "few stripes" must mean terminable stripes. Diodorus argued from the nature of punishment, the belief that God's mercy to the evil would inflict less than their deserts, as His mercy to the good gave them more than theirs; and from the difficulty of supposing that immortality would be prolonged solely for the sake of inflicting torments.*(2) Dr. Pusey calls these arguments "commonplace". They do not seem to me one-tenth part so commonplace as the counter-arguments of St. Augustine and others; and certainly neither Diodorus nor Theodore were commonplace men. ouk eiko s ton sofon andra lhrein . "Wise men," says Plato, "do not usually talk nonsense." That the two writers "use different arguments and have different theories," seem to me to tell for, rather than against, their views. It shows that the question was unsettled; that the truth struck them from different points of view; that they did not idly repeat each other; and that there are manifold regions of thought from which arguments in support of God's mercy may be drawn.
*(1) There is little direct evidence as to the opinions on this subject of Theodoret and Didymus of Alexandria, but there is reason to believe that they adopted the view of Origen.
*(2) These views were shared by many eminent Nestorian Bishops. Assemanni, Bibl. Orient. iii. 323, iv. 204
I called them "great teachers," "on the authority," says Dr. Pusey, "of Gieseler." I certainly referred to Gieseler, but I do not know why I needed his authority in particular. I might, for the matter of that, have referred, for high encomiums, on one or both of them, to St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, St. Epiphanius, Facundus of Hermiane, and St. Jerome . I might have applied the same epithet to them on the authority of Neander, *(1) who calls them "venerated teachers of the Syrian Church"; and Diodorus "distinguished"; and Theodore "sagacious and original"; and of Dr. Hort, who speaks of Diodorus as "probably the greatest theologian, Gregory of Nyssa excepted, who took part in the Council of Constantinople"; or even of Mosheim, *(2) who calls Theodore "a remarkable and eminent man, and one of the most learned of his time."
*(1) Neander , Ch. Hist. iv. 10, 285, &c.
*(2) Mosheim, Cent. v. pt. ii. c. i. 3; Hort, Two Dissert. 125.
Or again, if I wanted such surety for my words, I might have called them great teachers on the authority of Dorner, who says: "Theodore of Mopsuestia was the crown and climax of the school of Antioch . The compass of his learning, his acuteness, and we must suppose also the force of his personal character, conjoined with his labours through many years as a teacher both of churches and of young and able disciples, and as a prolific writer, gained for him the title of 'The Master of the East.' He laboured on uninterruptedly to his death in A.D. 427, and was regarded with an appreciation the more widely extended, as he was the first Oriental theologian of his time."*(1) But surely it is somewhat late in the day to be taken to task for giving the name of "great teachers" to two of the most illustrious founders of the best and most fruitful method of sacred exegesis — that method which was the special glory of the school of Antioch! Nor is it a very worthy proceeding — though it has always been and still is very common — to depreciate the knowledge and greatness of teachers simply because they hold some opinions which may happen to differ from our own. I confess that this cavalier way of cheapening great names is somewhat painful to me. It was not always so that these two holy and learned bishops were spoken of; it was not till their names were mixed up with the imbroglio of schemes fostered and agitated by the turbulent and haughty Cyril. The Syrian Church looked up to them as fathers and teachers. The good Bishop Meletius wrote of "the apostolic faith which we have received from the great Theodore."*(2) And in an edict of the orthodox Theodosius, after the second great Occumenical Council, he said that the Catholic bishops would be recognized by being those who, in the East, were in communion with Diodorus of Tarsus.*(3)
*(1) Dorner, Person of Christ, i. 50
*(2) Ep. 152.
*(3) Cod. Theod. xvi. t. i. l. (De Broglie, v. 453.) "My argument was this. If I, who knew my own innocence, was so blackened by party prejudice, perhaps those high rulers and those servants of the Church in the many ages which intervened between the early Nicene times and the present, who were laden with such grievous accusations, were innocent also, and the reflexion seemed to make me tender towards those great names of the past to whom weaknesses or crimes were imputed." — NEWMAN, Apolgia, p. 18.
End of Chapter 9 Part 1