« IndietroContinua »
beseeches him to stand firm as an anvil when it is beaten. He exhorts him to be wise and to flee the arts of the devil. He commands him to be watchful and possess a sleepless spirit. A consciousness of his superiority to his brother bishop and other Christians flows through his letters. The heir of a salvation toward which he so rapidly journeys, he forgets that others are pressing toward the mark for the prize of the same high calling.
Allied with his pride in his Christian virtues is his respect for the authority and institutions of the Church. On his pages first appears the term the " Catholic Church "—Kojboxiki) innXT}oia, (Smymius, chap, viii.) His pen is the first and the ablest of the early Fathers to advocate the most comprehensive unity of its organization and purity of its doctrine. To the bishop respect should be paid, he argues, as to Christ, since the one whom the master sends to be over his household should be respected as the master himself. With a similar sacredness he invests the presbyter. The presbyter is made the disciple of the bishop, as John and Peter were of Christ. In his pages not only have "the glorious company of the apostles" and •• the goodly fellowship of the prophets" been endowed with divine rights, but also the holy Church throughout all the world has become the vicegerent of the King of kings.
The sixth and last element in the character of the author of the Ignatian letters which we shall examine is his tenderness toward others, or his courtesy. Occasionally this tenderness is manifested in a propensity to flatter. He tells the members of the Magnesian Church that they are "full of God," and that his Christian experience is not worthy to be compared with that of any of their number.
This courtesy of disposition is also exhibited in his treatment of those whom he deems heretics. Though pleading with earnestness for the unity of the Church, the shafts of his arguments directed against schismatics are poisoned with neither bitterness nor hate. A kindly charity breathes in his words. "Evil offshoots will produce death-bearing fruits," are the harshest terms which he discovers for the errors of the Docetit. His severest denunciation of heretics is the plain statement that they are of this world, and shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But at the same time he urges prayer for their repentance. His opponents in Christian doctrine and Church organization he treats with a civility which indicates the courtesy of his nature. This courtesy, however, is more frequently manifested in care and anxiety for the welfare of his fellowChristians. He is a most diligent pastor. He constantly warns his flock of the wolves who would carry captive the sheep of the divine Shepherd.
Xo less than fifteen epistles are extant bearing the name of Ignatius. Two are addressed to the apostle John, and one each to the Virgin Mary, to Mary of Cassobolis, to the Tarsians, to the Antiochians, to Hero, (a deacon of the Church at Antioch,) and to the Philippians; also to the Ephesians, the Magnesians, the Trallians, the Romans, the Philadelphians, the Smyrnaeans, and to Polycarp, a single letter each is inscribed. These epistles are represented by several MSS. written in several languages. (1) Two Greek MSS. contain all the letters with the exception of the two to John and the one to the Virgin. MSS. in Latin corresponding to the text of the Greek are also extant. (2) A Greek MS. ascribed to the eleventh century contains at least nine epistles: * the epistle to the Smyrnaeans, to Polycarp, to the Ephesians, to the Magnesians, to the Philadelphians, to the Trallians, Mary of Cassobolis to Ignatius, Ignatius to Mary of Cassobolis, and a part of the epistle to the Tarsians.f To this MS. also corresponds a Latin version which is supposed to belong to the fourteenth century. An Armenian version, said to be as early as the fifth century, contains thirteen epistles. (3) Three MSS. in Syriac contain the epistle to Polycarp, to the Ephesians, and to the Romans. The discovery of these MSS. forms an era in the discussion of the Ignatian literature. In the years 1838,1839, and 1842, Archdeacon Tattam, of England, visited the monastery of St. Mary Dei para, in the desert of Xisria, in Egypt. From that monastery he obtained a large number of ancient Syriac MSS. They were deposited in the British Museum, and, on an examination by the distinguished Oriental scholar, the late Dr. William
* It is mutilated at the end, and, therefore, the exact number originally contained in it cannot be ascertained.
t See " Quarterly Review" for 1851, " Ignatian Epistles," for excellent summaries, pp. 73 seq.
Cureton, were found to contain the three epistles just named. The principal question discussed since the discovery of these Syriac MSS. respecting this literature is. Does the Greek or the Syriac version more exactly represent the original Ignatius? It is, of course, granted that the MSS. now existing were not themselves written by the martyr. Dr. Cureton even considers that the Syriac MS. of the epistle to Polycarp belongs to the middle of the sixth century. ,
Before entering upon the consideration of the genuineness of these different versions we believe we cannot be of greater aid to the reader than by placing before him the translation of the Epistle to the Romans as found in the Syriac. This epistle fairly represents the author's style and method of thought, and conveys an accurate idea of the discussion as conducted in the other letters.
EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS.
Ignatius, who is [also called] Theophorus, to the Church which has received grace through the greatness of the Father Most High ; to her whopresideth in the place of the region of the Romans, who is worthy of God, and worthy of life, and happiness, and praise, and remembrance, and is worthy of prosperity, and presideth in love, and is perfected in the law of Christ unblamable : [wishes] abundance of peace.
I. From of old have I prayed to God that I might be counted worthy to behold your faces which are worthy of God ; now, therefore, being bound in Jesus Christ, I hope to meet you and salute you, if it be the will [of God] that I should be accounted worthy to the end. For the beginning is well arranged, if I be counted worthy to attain unto the end, that I may receive my portion without hinderance, through suffering. For I am in fear of your love, lest it should injure me. As to you, indeed, it is easv for you to do whatsoever ye wish ; but as for me, it is difficult for me to be accounted worthy of God, if indeed ye spare me not.
II. For there is no other time such as this that I should be accounted worthy of God ; neither will ye, if ye be silent, [ever] be found in a better work than this. If ye let me alone, I shall be the word of God; but if ye love my flesh, again am I [only] to myself a voice. Ye cannot give me any thing more precious than this, that I should be sacrificed to God while the altar is readj ; that ye may be in one concord in love, and may praise God the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord, because he has deemed a bishop worthy to be God's, having called him from the East to the West. It is good that I should set from the world in God, that I may rise in him to life.
III. Ye have never envied any man. Ye have taught others. Only pray ye for strength- to be given to me from within and from without, that I may not only speak, hut also may he willing, and that I may not merely he called a Christian, hut also may he found to be [one]; for if I am found to be [so], I may then also be called [so]. Then [indeed] shall I he faithful, when I am no longer seen in the world. For there is nothing visible that is good. The work is not [a matter] of persuasion ; but Christianity is great when the world hateth it.
IV. I write to all the Churches, and declare to all men, that I willingly die for the sake of God, if so he that ye hinder me not. I entreat of you not to be [affected] toward me with a love which is unseasonable. Leave me to become [the prey of] the wild beasts, that hy their means I may he accounted worthy of God. I am the wheat of God, and hy the teeth of the beasts shall I he ground, that I may be found the pure bread of God. Provoke ye greatly the wild beasts, that they may be for me a grave, and may leave nothing of my body, in order that when 1 have fallen asleep I may not he a burden to any one. Then shall I he a disciple of Jesus Christ, when the world seeth not even my body. Entreat of our Lord in my behalf, that through these instruments I may be found a sacrifice to God. I do not, like Peter and Paul, issue orders unto you. They are apostles, but I am one condemned ; they indeed are free, but I am a slave, even until now. But if I suffer I shall be the freedman of Jesus Christ, and I shall rise in him from the dead, free. And now, being in bonds, I learn to desire nothing.
V. From Syria, and even unto Rome, I am cast among wild beasts, by sea and by land, by night and by day, being bound between ten leopards, which are the bonds of soldiers, who, even when I do good to them, all the more do evil unto me. I, however, am the rather instructed by their injurious treatment ; but not on this account am I justified to myself. I rejoice in the beasts which are prepared for me, and I pray that they may in haste be found for me; and I will provoke them speedily to devour me, and not be as those which are afraid of some other men, and I will not approach them ; even should they not be willing to approach me, I will go with violence against them. Know me from myself what is expedient for me. Let no one envy me of those things which are seen and which are not seen, that I should be accounted worthy of Jesus Christ. Fire, and the cross, and the beasts that are prepared, cutting off of the limbs, and scattering of the bones, and crushing of the whole body, harsh torments of the devil—let these come upon me, but only let me be accounted worthy of Jesus Christ.
VI. The pains of the birth stand over against me.
VII. And my love is crucified, and there is no fire in me for another love. I do not desire the food of corruption, neither the lusts of this world. I seek the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ ; and I seek his blood, a drink which is love incorruptible.
Foukth Seiubs, Vol. XXXII.—3
IX.* My spirit sahiteth you, and the love of the Churches which received me as the name of Jesus Christ ; for those also who were near to [my] way in the flesh preceded me in every city. Now,f therefore, heing ahout to arrive shortly in Rome, I know many things in God ; but I keep myself within measure, that I may not perish through boasting, for now it is needful for me to bear the more, and not to pay regard to those who puff me up. For they who say such things to me scourge me ; for I desire to suffer, but.I do not know if I am worthy. For zeal is not visible to many, but with me it has war. I have need, therefore, of meekness, by which the prince of this world is destroyed. I am able to write to you of heavenly things, but I fear lest I nhould do you an injury. Know me from myself. For I am cautious lest ye should not be able to receive [such knowledge,] and should be perplexed. For even I, not because I am in bonds, and am able to know heavenly things, and the places of angels, and the stations of the powers that are seen and that are not seen, am on this account a disciple; for I am far short of the perfection which is worthy of God. Be ye perfectly strong in the patience of Jesus Christ our God. J
Although few in number, some scholars regard the whole body of the Ignatian literature as spurious. Baur, following out the principles of the Tubingen school in relation to the earliest patristic writings, considers it a fiction of the later half of the second century. Dr. W. D. Killen, too, declares them to be forgeries.§ The principal reasons, based upon internal evidence, which Dr. Killen applies specially to the Syriac epistles, are applicable to all the letters. If the Syriac version is spurious, a fortiori is the Greek.
"1. The way in which the word of God is ignored in these epistles argues strongly for their spuriousness. Every one acquainted with the early Fathers must have observed their frequent use of the sacred records. A considerable portion of a chapter is sometimes introduced in a quotation. Hence it has been remarked that were all the copies of the Bible lost, and the writings of these Fathers preserved, a large share of the holy volume might thus be recovered. But Ignatius would contribute nothing to the work of restoration; as, in the whole
• Chap, viii of the Greek is not contained in the Syriac version,
§ See " The Ancient Church: Its History, Doctrine, Worship, and Constitution Traced for the First Three Hundred Years," by W. D. Killen, D.D. London. 1859. Pp. 414-428.