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To conclude,- in that day, when the mystery of God shall be accomplished, this world, the wonderful effect of Divine power and wisdom, and the scene of so many miracles both of providence and grace,shall be destroyed, and all its glories laid in ruins ; the heavens shall depart like a scroll; the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth and the works that are therein shall be burnt up. But not so with man.
Amidst the crash of a dissolving world, he will be called to enter upon another and a never-ending state of existence, state either of inconceivable bliss or of woe unutterable, according as he has done good or evil in this life. The wicked "shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.” Let us then not deface the beauty of creation, and disturb the harmony of nature, by our sins. On the contrary, let us unite with his works in glorifying the Creator, by the purity and holiness of our thoughts and words, and by the justice and charity of all our actions. So may we hope, when this heaven and earth shall pass away with a great noise, to be admitted into that new heaven and earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, and where they "that have done the will of God abide for ever."
ON THE EARLY FATHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
Bardesanes, cujus etiam Philosophi admirantur ingenium.
Hieron. de Vir. IU. . 33. Among the primitive Fathers there were occasional seceders from the orthodox faith ; and already, in the instance of Tatian, a new sect has been seen to spring from their perverse imaginations. Another example of this defection is afforded in the person of BARDESANES, the Syrian; who was led away, for a time at least, by some of the extravagant tenets of the Valentinians. According to Epiphanius (Hær. 56.) and Theodoret (Hær. Fab. I. 22.), he was born at Edessa, in Mesopotamia ; and the Edessan Chronicle, which was written about the middle of the sixth century, dates his birth in the year 154. In early life he was a strenuous assertor of Christianity; and wrote certain works relative to the persecuting spirit of the times. He was otherwise also a voluminous writer, and, besides several treatises against heresies, composed one against Marcion in particular. A long extract from a Dialogue on “Fate," which he dedicated to Marcus Antoninus, is preserved in the Preparatio Evangelica (VI. 10.) of Eusebius. His disciples were numerous, some of whom translated his writings into Greek; so that the knowledge of that language, which Epiphanius says that he possessed, was in all probability scanty and imperfect. Abgarus, King of Edessa, who was himself also a zealous Christian, seems to have held him in very high estimation ; and a law enacted by this prince, of which he speaks in the extract above mentioned, was apparently passed at his suggestion of the sincerity of his early attachment to Christianity, the following anecdote, related by Epiphanius, affords a pleasing testimony :-Being urged by Apollonius, a friend of Antoninus, to renounce Christianity in order to avoid persecution, he replied; "I am not afraid of death, which I shall not escape, even were I not to disobey the Emperor. In addition to the works already enumerated, Bardesanes also composed 150 metrical Psalms on the model of those of David; t and perhaps he was the author of a treatise on the Indian philosophers, called by the Greeks Gymnosophistæ.
This last work, however, is attributed by Porphyry (de Abstin. IV. 17.) to Bardesanes the Babylonian, whom it has been usual to regard as a distinct individual from Bardesanes the Syrian, on account of a supposed difference in the periods at which they respectively flourished. In the passage above cited, Porphyry, who was born about the year 232, says, that Bardesanes “lived in the time of our fathers;" making him also, in another place (de Styge, p. 282.), contemporary with the Emperor Heliogabalus, who died A. D. 222. It appears, on the other hand, from all the writers who mention the Syrian, that he lived under M. Antoninus, and that his Dialogue on “Fate" was inscribed to that Emperor. Eusebius indeed does not expressly give the imperial title to Antoninus, and it has therefore been argued, but without the most distant shadow of reason, that the work was dedicated to some private friend of the writer. Now Marcus Antoninus died A. D. 180, so that the latest date which can be assigned to the Dialogue is the commencement of that year. Taking, therefore, the year 154 as the date of his birth, upon the authority of the Edessan Chronicle, Bardesanes had reached his twenty-sixth year when he wrote the book in question; and supposing with Tillemont and others that he and the Babylonian were one and the same person, in the year 220 he had attained the
age of sixty-six. Dodwell also maintains this identity, though he endeavours thereby, in opposition to the united testimony of Eusebius, Jerome, and Epiphanius, to substantiate an opinion, that Bardesanes the Syrian was not contemporary with Antoninus the philosopher. It is more probable that Porphyry refers to events which took place towards the conclusion of his life; and that the writings, which Eusebius mentions, were produced at a much earlier period. Independently of the inscription to the work on Fate, the appeals which he made in favour of the persecuted church of Syria, are perfectly reconcilable with the reign of Marcus, and equally at variance with that of Heliogabalus. Epiphanius, indeed, appears to say that Bardesanes did not survive the reign of Verus; but Grabe (Spicel. I. p. 317.) would read Varius, i. e. Heliogabalus, instead of Verus ; and he is in all probability correct. It may be remarked, however, that the chronology of Epiphanius is not always to be depended upon.
• See Euseb. Hist. Eccl. IV. 30. Jerome de Vir. III. 33. Epiphan. Hær. 56.
+ Assemanni Bibl. Oriental. T. I. p. 132.
of the writings of Bardesanes, and of the Dialogue on Fate more especially, Jerome speaks in terms of the most unqualified commendation. “ If such," he observes (Vir. III. $. 33.), “be the force and beauty of a translation, what an estimate must be formed of the original!" In other parts of his works also be eulogizes his eloquence and learning, and speaks of his talents as a source of admiration, even to philosophers. It should seem that the main purport of this treatise was to prove the free-agency and responsibility of man. The fragment, to which reference has already been made, compares the reasoning and intellectual faculties of the human mind with the blind. instinct of other animals; and infers from the different habits, and laws, and religions of different countries, an innate power in man of making his choice between them. That the mind is wholly uninfluenced in its operations by any physical force or necessity, is also inferred from the resolution with which Christians, in defiance of the severest persecution, resist the commission of any thing which is opposed to the precepts of Christ. The conclusion, as preserved in Eusebius, is subjoined; besides which, a few brief extracts from the work on the Indian Gymnosophists are still extant in Porphyry's Treatise de Abstinentia.
Τί δε έρούμεν περί της των Χριστιανών αιρέσεως, ής ημείς οι δοξασται πολλοί όντες και εν διαφόροις ανέστημεν κλίμασιν, εν παντί έθνει και κλίματι, οίτινες πολλοί όντες, εν ονόματι κεκλήμεθα ; Και ούτε οι εν Παρθία Χριστιανοί πολυγαμούσι, Πάρθοι υπάρχοντες ούθ' οι έν Μηδία κυσί παραβάλλουσι τους νεκρούς" ουχ οι εν Περσίδι γαμούσι τας θυγατέρας αυτών, Πέρσαι όντες' ού παρά Βάκτρους και Γάλλοις φθείρουσι τους γάμους ουχ οι εν Αιγύπτη θρησκεύουσι τον"Απιν, ή τον Κύνα, ή τον Τράγον, η Αίλουρον" αλλ' όπου εισιν, ούτε υπό των κακώς κειμένων νόμων, και εθών νικώνται ούθ' ή υπό των αρχών πρυτανευομένη γένεσις αυτους αναγκάζει τοις άπειρημένους κακούς υπό του Διδασκάλου αυτών χρήσθαι· νόσω δε, και πενία, και πάθεσι, και ταϊς νομιζομέναις ατιμίαις υπόκεινται. "Ώσπερ γάρ ο ελεύθερος ημών άνθρωπος δουλεύειν ουκ αναγκάζεται, κάν αναγκασθή, ανθίσταται τους αναγκάζουσιν ούτως ουδε ο φαινόμενος ημών δούλος άνθρωπος της υποταγής έκφεύγειν ραδίως δύναται. Ει γάρ πάντα εδυνάμεθα, ημείς αν ήμεν το πάν, ώστε ει μηδέν εδυνάμεθα, άλλων ήμεν, ως προείπον, όργανα, και ουχ εαυτών. θεού δ' έπινεύσαντος, πάντα δυνατά και ανεμπόδιστα τη γαρ εκείνου βουλήσει ουδεν αντιστήναι δύναται. Και γάρ τα δοκούντα ανθίστασθαι, αυτού χρηστού όντος, και συγχωρούντος εκάστη φύσει έχειν την ιδιότητα, και το αυτεξούσιον του θελήματος, ανθίσταται. (Αp. Euseb. Prep. Evang. VI. 10.)
At what period of his life, and under what circumstances, Bardesanes enlisted in the ranks of heresy, there is no means of ascertaining. His book of Psalms is known to have inculcated the system which he adopted ; and they were afterwards remodelled by Ephrem the Syrian: unless indeed the Hymns of Ephrem, which exposed the errors of his countryman, were an original composition, though set to the same tunes. However well adapted these Psalms may have been for the
diffusion of heterodoxy, and however deserving of the censure which was bestowed upon them by Ephrem, it is very unjust to impute to Bardesanes all the absurdities of the Valentinians. His doctrines are explained at length in a Dialogue De recta in Deum fide, or contra Marcionistas ; ascribed to Origen, but in all probability written in the fourth century. From this it appears that he received all the books of the Old and New Testament, though with the addition, according to Epiphanius, of certain apocryphal books; that he unequivocally asserted the unity of the Godhead; and that he believed in the cooperation of the Logos, or Son of God, with the Father in the creation of the world. Misconception respecting the origin of evil, originating in the Chaldaic philosophy, in which he was well versed,* was the groundwork of all his errors. In order to account for this imaginary inconsistency with the supreme perfection of the divine attributes, he maintained that the devil was a self-existent being, t opposed to the benevolent purposes of the Creator To his independent agency lie referred the corruption of human nature ; man being seduced into sin, and the soul thereupon removed from its ethereal tenement into a gross carnal body. To redeem mankind Christ came; a man in appearance only, and partaking in no wise of the substance of the Virgin Mary. He affirmed also that there would be no resurrection of the body; but that true Christians would ascend to heaven invested with another body, of an ethereal and imperishable essence: and this opinion he grounded upon the declaration in 1 Cor. xv. 37 : “ Thou sowest not that body which shall be.” These opinions Bardesanes, in all probability, imbibed from the Valentinians; but he is not therefore to be classed among the decided advocates of that heresy. It is pleasing also to learn from Eusebius, that he afterwards retracted some of his errors, though he did not entirely shake them off.
From the passage of Epiphanius, as above cited, with the amendment of Grabe, it may be fairly inferred that Bardesanes died about the year 220 or 221. He left behind him a son named Harmonius, who inherited the talents, and adopted the opinions, of his father. See Sozomen. Hist. Eccl. III. 16. Theodoret. Hær. Fab. I. 22.
CONVOCATIONS. MR. EDITOR, — Much has lately appeared in your valuable periodical on the subject of the Convocation ; so much, indeed, that, with small leisure to go into the question at length, I may well be excused from prefacing the few observations I am about to make with any arguments on the subject of its use and necessity. The point to which I would, through your publication, invite the attention of the Clergy, is this: How can the object, which all admit to be so desirable, be rendered attainable? To that question I reply—by petitioning the
Euseb. Pr. Ev. VI. 9. + Origen c. Marcion. 5. 3. εγώ τον Διάβολον αυτοφυή λογίζομαι, και αυτο. γέννητον. .
1 Ιbid. Διά Μαρίας, αλλ' ουκ εκ Μαρίας. VOL. XIV.
King. This may be done effectively by means of clerical meetings. At these, petitions may be drawn up and agreed to-one might make the round of each diocese, and, when fully subscribed, it might be sent to the Bishop, who would, doubtless, take care to bring it to the royal eye.
The King has sworn to maintain the Bishops and Clergy of the English Church in all the privileges that by law pertain to them. There is not a more ancient or undoubted privilege than that of the Convocation; a privilege, however, which our Church now only nominally enjoys. The King has declared on many occasions, and (which is most to the purpose) when the CONVOCATION congratulated him on his accession, his determination to uphold the rights of the Established Church. His Majesty will not be unfaithful to his declarations. From ministers we expect nothing; but, happily, ministers are not responsible in Church matters; however tolerated in practice, their interference here is intrusive and unconstitutional. The Privy Council are the only responsible party in these affairs; and them we need not fear.
In the hope that this hint will not be lost upon your clerical readers, I am, Sir, very obediently yours,
CREED OF OUR ANTE-NORMAN FATHERS.
MR. Editor, -In answer to the inquiry of your correspondent, E. W. (p. 564, Vol. XIII.) respecting the researches of Dr. George Hickes
the creed of our Ante-Norman fathers, I beg leave, particularly, to refer him to the following work by that eminent scholar: Several Letters which passed between Dr. George Hickes and a Popish Priest. 8vo. London, 1705.
In that volume are to be found various important statements, illustrating the ancient religion of England: indeed, quite enough to shew that modern Popery has no claim to any such venerable character. At the end of the book are printed the Offices for the Canonical Hours, as used among the Anglo-Saxons; which will be found highly satisfactory to the Protestant posterity of that people. Whether Dr. Hickes has left any unpublished monuments of his labours in this interesting field, I am not able to say.
The whole subject, indeed, was never, perhaps, systematically examined until an attempt of the kind was made in the Bampton Lectures of 1830; but scattered evidences appeared in print, from the time of Archbishop Parker down to the days of Dr. Hickes, amply sufficient to convince candid inquirers that the Ante-Norman doctrines of our national Church were very nearly identical with those adopted by our judicious Reformers. English Protestants have thus long been able to retort successfully the charge of innovation upon Romish opponents. Nothing is more certain, indeed, than that modern Romanism was not the ancient religion of England. Englishmen, therefore, who receive implicitly the doctrinal peculiarities authorized at Trent, under a notion that they are thereby adhering to