free ebooks

History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Ab universo propemodum genere monachorum

system, he has acquired since

his resurrection, and such he must have always possessed, if it were capable of pervading, without resistance or injury, the density of intermediate matter. Devoid of its most essential properties, it might be exempt from the attributes and infirmities of the flesh. A foetus that could increase from an invisible point to its full maturity; a child that could attain the stature of perfect manhood without deriving any nourishment from the ordinary sources, might continue to exist without repairing a daily waste by a daily supply of external matter. Jesus might share the repasts of his disciples without being subject to the calls of thirst or hunger; and his virgin purity was never sullied by the involuntary stains of sensual concupiscence. Of a body thus singularly constituted, a question would arise, by what means, and of what materials, it was originally framed; and our sounder theology is startled by an answer which was not peculiar to the Gnostics, that both the form and the substance proceeded from the divine essence. The idea of pure and absolute spirit is a refinement of modern philosophy: the incorporeal essence, ascribed by the ancients to human souls, celestial beings, and even the Deity himself, does not exclude the notion of extended space; and their imagination was satisfied with a subtile nature of air, or fire, or aether, incomparably more perfect than the grossness of the material world. If we define the place, we must describe the figure, of the Deity. Our experience,
perhaps our vanity, represents the powers of reason and virtue under a human form. The Anthropomorphites, who swarmed among the monks of Egypt and the Catholics of Africa, could produce the express declaration of Scripture, that man was made after the image of his Creator. [12] The venerable Serapion, one of the saints of the Nitrian deserts, relinquished, with many a tear, his darling prejudice; and bewailed, like an infant, his unlucky conversion, which had stolen away his God, and left his mind without any visible object of faith or devotion. [13]

[Footnote 12: The pilgrim Cassian, who visited Egypt in the beginning of the vth century, observes and laments the reign of anthropomorphism among the monks, who were not conscious that they embraced the system of Epicurus, (Cicero, de Nat. Deorum, i. 18, 34.) Ab universo propemodum genere monachorum, qui per totam provinciam Egyptum morabantur, pro simplicitatis errore susceptum est, ut e contraric memoratum pontificem (Theophilus) velut haeresi gravissima depravatum, pars maxima seniorum ab universo fraternitatis corpore decerneret detestandum, (Cassian, Collation. x. 2.) As long as St. Augustin remained a Manichaean, he was scandalized by the anthropomorphism of the vulgar Catholics.]

[Footnote 13: Ita est in oratione senex mente confusus, eo quod illam imaginem Deitatis, quam proponere sibi in oratione consueverat, aboleri de suo corde sentiret, ut in amarissimos fletus, crebrosque singultus repente prorumpens, in terram prostratus, cum ejulatu validissimo proclamaret; "Heu me miserum! tulerunt a me Deum meum, et quem nunc teneam non habeo, vel quem adorem, aut interpallam am nescio." Cassian, Collat. x. 2.]

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us