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"which we saw good proof formerly: or, that he received the book of the Acts, and ascribed it to St. Luke; or, that he received fourteen epistles of the apostle Paul, upon which he wrote commentaries, still extant, as before mentioned.
2. Theodoret has digested St. Paul's epistles, according to the order of time in which they were written; and has observed, likewise, the places from which they were sent.
'I will shew,' says he, the order of the apostle's epistles: The blessed Paul wrote fourteen epistles; but I do not think that he assigned them that order which we now have in *our Bibles. The epistle written by the divine Paul to the Romans, stands first in order; nevertheless, it is the last of those which were sent from Asia, Macedonia, and Achaia: the two epistles first written are, the two epistles to the Thessalonians; next, the two epistles to the Corinthians: the fifth, in order of time, is the first to Timothy; the next, is that to Titus: the epistle to the Romans is the seventh. The other epistles were sent from Rome; the first of these I take to be that to the Galatians. From Rome likewise he sent the epistles to the Philippians, and that to the Ephesians, and to the Colossians, in which last he also mentions 'Onesimus: for which reason the epistle to Philemon may be supposed to have been written before; for in it he desires, that Onesimus may be received: afterwards he wrote the epistle to the Hebrews, and from Rome, as the conclusion shews: " They of Italy salute you.". The last of all his epistles is the second to Timothy. This is the order of the epistles in point of ⚫ time. The epistle to the Romans has been placed first, as containing the most full and exact ⚫ representation of the Christian doctrine, in all its branches; but some say, that it has been so placed out of respect to the city to which it was sent, as presiding over the whole world.'
3. Theodoret's preface to his Commentary upon the epistle to the Ephesians deserves to be carefully read. At the end of that preface, he says: The former part of the epistle contains ⚫ the doctrine of the gospel; the latter part, a moral admonition.' That may be said in some measure of most of St. Paul's epistles; but it is more especially manifest in this.
4. In a note upon Eph. i. 15, 16, he says: Some argued from thence, that the apostle had ⚫ not yet seen the Ephesians, when he wrote that epistle to them; but he does not allow their argument to be good.'
5. It may be here observed, that Theodoret always cites the epistle to the Ephesians by that title.
6. In the preface to the epistle to the Colossians, he says: Some have been of opinion, that the apostle had not seen those Christians, when he wrote to them: and they endeavoured to support their opinion by these expressions, ch. ii. 1; but he says, they do not rightly interpret the words, the meaning of which is, that he was not concerned for them only, but likewise for those who had not seen him; he says, therefore: I would ye should know, how great concern I have for you, and for them of Laodicea; and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh.' He farther argues it to be very likely, from the history in the Acts, that the apostle had been at Colosse: so he argues again, in his comment upon Col. ii. 1; and iv. 10.
7. Upon Col. iv. 16, he says: Some have hence imagined, that the apostle had also written 'to the Laodiceans, and they had forged such an epistle: but the apostle does not say the epistle to the Laodiceans, but from Laodicea; for they had written to him about some things: probably, they had informed him of some things amiss among the Colossians; whilst the like faults were to be found with them also: therefore, he directs, that this epistle should be likewise read to them.'
8. It is surprising to observe, how seldom ' Theodoret has quoted the catholic epistles: they are not quite overlooked; they are quoted: but all his quotations of them might be placed, at full length, in a little room. It was formerly shewn, that there are but few quotations of the catholic epistles, either in Theodoret, or Chrysostom.
a See vol. i. p. 354.
b Upon Col. iv. 14. T. ii. p. 363. he says: This person wrote the divine gospel, and the history of the Acts.' Oslos και το θείον συνεγραψε ευαγγελιον, και την ίσοριαν των πραξswv. The book of the Acts is very often quoted by Theodoret, and as written by St. Luke.
Præf. in Ep. S. P. T. ii. p. 2. D. et p. 3, 4, 5, 6.
Την δε ταξιν, ήν εν τοις βιβλίοις εχέσιν, εκ αυτον ήγεμαι Wenbinneval. Ib. p. 2. D.
9. He quotes the epistle of St. James. In his comment upon Gal. i. 19, he says, that James, the Lord's brother, was not so literally; nor was he the son of Joseph, by a former marriage, as some have thought; but he was the son of Cleophas, who had married the sister of our Lord's mother: he was, therefore, cousin-german to our Lord.
10. Theodoret has several times quoted the first epistle of St. Peter; and once, either a 2 Pet. ii. 22, or Prov. xxvi. 11.
11. The first epistle of John is thus quoted by him: And the divine apostle John, at the beginning of his epistle, says: "That which we have seen, and our hands have handled." And, in one of the Dialogues on the Incarnation, if it be genuine, the first of St. John is thus quoted: Hear the great John, in his catholic epistle, saying.' This epistle is quoted again, in the epistle to Sporacius.
12. I do not recollect any quotation of the Revelation, in the unquestioned works of Theodoret. In a passage of Athanasius, inserted in the forementioned Dialogues, the Revelation is cited; but the genuineness of those dialogues is disputed, as before seen: and, if they were unquestionably genuine, it might not follow, that Theodoret received the book of the Revelation, unless he had himself cited it upon some other occasion. The Revelation is, once or twice, slightly cited, in the fifth volume of Theodoret's works, or the Appendix, published by Garnier; but it is not certainly known, that those writings are Theodoret's. It appears to me, therefore, probable, that Theodoret did not receive the book of the Revelation.
13. Here it may not be amiss, for the reader to compare Theodoret with Cyril of Alexandria: Cyril, who lived in Egypt, received the Revelation, and quotes the catholic epistles very freely; but Theodoret, who lived in Syria, either rejected the Revelation, or was shy of quoting, it, and likewise cites the catholic epistles very seldom.
14. Upon the whole, Theodoret received the four gospels, the Acts, Paul's fourteen epistles, the epistle of James, the first of Peter, and the first of John; but there is no plain proof, that he received the book of the Revelation, or the other four catholic epistles: insomuch, that there is some reason to think, that his canon of the New Testament was the same with that of the Syrian Christians.
V. General titles and divisions of the scriptures, used by Theodoret, are such as these: the * ancient scripture, and the gospels; gospels, prophets, and apostles: prophets," and apostles; the books of the sacred gospels, the writings of the holy apostles, and the oracles of the thrice blessed prophets; evangelists, and apostles; prophets; and Moses, the chief of the prophets.
VI. Terms of respect are such as these: the divine scripture; the divine apostle; as says the most excellent Paul; the most wise Paul; oracles of the Spirit; the Lord, in the divine gospels; the voice of the sacred gospels; divine oracles; the divine apostle, in the epistle to the Hebrews; the blessed Paul; great Peter [in the Acts;] the most excellent Peter, chief of the apostles; thrice blessed Luke, in the Acts; which the blessed Matthew teaches by the genealogy; the great and excellent Paul, Master of the whole World; the most wise Paul, the excellent architect of the Churches.
What he asserts, he proves from the scriptures; he likewise recommends the study of the scriptures, and shews the benefit of it. They, " he says, who will compare the divine oracles with human writings, may easily discern the superior excellence of the former: so he writes in an argument with heathen people. Writing to a woman, who had buried a hopeful son, he says: He sends her some consolatory thoughts, taken partly from reason, partly from scripture; 'God having given us all manner of consolation by the divine oracles: but he needs not enlarge,
2 In Ps. T. i. p. 496. A.
T. iii. p. 268. A.
Vid. in Cant. T. i. p. 1058. A. et 1082. B. In Es. T. ii. p. 93. A. In Ep. ad Rom. T. iii. p. 81. C. In 1 ad Tim. p. 472. A.
In Dan. T. ii. p. 572. D.
• Hær. Fab. 1. v. c. 15. T. iv. p. 287.
f Vid. Dial. 1. T. iv. p. 29. C.
T. iv. p. 701. C.
Dial. i. T. iv. p. 39. C.
i Vid. Ady. Macedon. Dial. 4. T. v, p. 374. A. et. p. 378. A.
In Gen. T. i. p. 31. C. D.
1 Ep. 109. T. iii. p. 978. C.
because she had been, from her childhood, instructed in the divinely inspired scriptures, and ⚫ had ordered her conversation by them; and she needed no other instruction. Recollect, then, those words, which teach us to moderate the passions; which promise eternal life; which declare the abolishing of death; which assure us of the general resurrection of all men.'
VII. I shall add some explications of scripture, and some remarkable observations.
1. By the "spirit that moved upon the face of the waters; " Gen. i. 2, he thinks to be meant, not the Holy Spirit, but the air, or wind.
2. God, foreseeing how Adam would act, and that he would become mortal by transgression, gave him a suitable nature, and made the sexes.
3. The doctrine of the Trinity was not clearly taught the Jews, because of their imperfection. If it had been so revealed, they would have made it an occasion for Polytheism.
4. By the eye-witnesses and ministers of the word," Luke i. 2, the evangelist & does not mean ministers of God the word, but of the doctrine of God the word.
5. Upon Is. ix. 1, he says, that Galilee was the native country of Christ's apostles; and f there he wrought many miracles, particularly his first miracle of turning water into wine, as is related by John the divine.
6. Upon Rom. i. 4. Theodoret says, that during his life here on earth, Christ was not reputed to be God, either by the Jews, or by the apostles.
7. Upon 1 Cor. xiii. 7, he says: The Spirit is still given to those who are baptized, though not visibly but then the baptized immediately spake with tongues, and wrought miracles; whereby they were confirmed in the belief of the truth of the doctrine of the gospel:' therefore, I think, miracles were not wrought by Christians, in Theodoret's time.
8. Again, upon 1 Cor. xii. 9, Because of the prevailing infidelity, many miracles were then wrought, to convince men of the truth. That miracles of healing were then wrought, giving health to the sick, feet to the lame, and eyes to the blind, is manifest from the history of the Acts.'
9. Theodoret seems to have supposed, that the apostle Paul received the whole doctrine of the gospel immediately from heaven; for, upon Gal. i. 18, he says, that Paul had been taught of God, and needed not any human instruction; though he made a visit to Peter, and shewed him due respect, as the chief of the apostles.'
VIII. Theodoret admirably represents the success of the doctrine of the gospel, or the progress of the religion, especially in his books against the gentiles: I must transcribe some passages, and refer to others.
1, The All-wise Deity committed the culture of a barren world to a few men; and those fishermen, and publicans, and one tentmaker.
By this, and other passages, it may be perceived, that Theodoret did not reckon Barnabas an apostle, in the highest meaning of that word.
2. Upon Gen. xlix. 9, 10, 11, he says: The apostles were Jews; and not only they, but the seventy disciples also; and the three thousand, whom the chief of the apostles caught in his net at once; and five thousand; and many myriads, of whom the thrice blessed James makes mention to the most excellent Paul. See Acts xxi. 20.
3. He says, that " by the holy doctrine of the apostles, God had made the earth a heaven; having converted many, in every nation, from the pursuit of earthly things, and disposed them to embrace a heavenly conversation.
4. From Theodoret's books against the Gentiles it appears, that the heathen people often expressed a contempt of the holy scriptures, because they were not eloquent. Theodoret, therefore, says, he will compare the most celebrated lawgivers of the Greeks with our fishermen,
⚫ and publicans, and tentmakers; and shew the difference: for the laws of the former were soon
forgotten after the death of those who enacted them; but the laws delivered by fishermen have flourished and prevailed, and have been received, not only by Greeks and Romans, but also by Scythians, Persians, and other barbarians: and, indeed,' says he, the doctrine of the divine 'oracles is worthy of God, and approves itself to the judgment of wise and thoughtful men. There is much more reason to hearken to the apostles and prophets, than to Plato; for in them there is nothing impure, nothing fabulous and incredible; nothing but what is worthy of God; ' nothing but what is holy and useful: between Moses the lawgiver, and David, and Job, and
Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and the whole choir of the prophets; and between Matthew also, and
John, and Luke, and Mark, and Peter, and Paul, and the whole college of the apostles, is a 'full agreement: they all teach the same doctrine; there are no differences among them: and
they teach things useful for all, for men and women, and people of every condition; what ought to be done, what should be avoided: which must be approved by all reasonable men; for religion is the concern of all. Indeed, the heralds of truth, the prophets and apostles,
were not masters of the Greek eloquence; but, being filled with true wisdom, they have car⚫ried the divine doctrine to all nations, Greeks and barbarians; and have filled the whole world, the dry land and the sea, with writings, containing instructions relating to religion and virtue :
and now all men, leaving the dreams and speculations of the philosophers, nourish themselves
• with the doctrine of fishermen and publicans, and study the writings of a tentmaker. The
seven wise men of Greece are forgotten; nor do the Greeks themselves exactly know their
' names: but Matthew, and Bartholomew, and James, yea, and Moses also, and David, and
Isaiah, and the other apostles and prophets, all men know, as well as they do the names of their ' own children. If you dispute the truth of this, tell me, friends, whom Xenophanes Colopho⚫nius left to be his successor; whom Parmenides, or Pythagoras, or Anaxagoras, or Speusippus, or the rest; or what cities follow the laws of Plato's republic? You can shew none, who now 'teach those doctrines: but we can evidently shew the power of the prophetical and apostolical 'doctrines; for the whole earth is filled with their words.'
And the Hebrew writings are translated, not only into Greek, but likewise into the Latin, the Egyptian, the Persian, the Indian, the Armenian, the Scythian, the Samaritan; in a word, • into all the languages used by the nations....Our fishermen, and publicans, and tentmaker, have persuaded not only Greeks, and Romans, and Egyptians, but all nations of the earth: nor
⚫ are our doctrines understood by those only who preside in the churches, but by smiths, and woolcombers, and taylors, and all sorts of artificers; yea, by women, and maid-servants. And not
only they who dwell in cities, but country people likewise understand, and are able to discourse ⚫ of our doctrines. And moreover, they practise virtue, and shun vicious actions, influenced by the certain expectation of the righteous judgment of God, and the rewards and punishments of ⚫ another world....Compare then, my friends, the simple doctrine of our fishermen, with the pompous titles of the philosophers; and discern the difference. Admire the conciseness of the divine oracles; applaud their power; and acknowledge the truth of the divine doctrines.
• God had before tried other methods: he taught all men by the wonderful frame of the ⚫ universe. The Jews he reclaimed by the law and the prophets: but a more effectual remedy 'was wanting; and experience has shewn the benefit of it. The whole world has now been enlightened, and idolatry abolished. Greeks, Romans, barbarians, acknowledge a crucified
• The divine oracles [or sacred scriptures] are not to be despised, because they abound not in a superfluity of words, but deliver truth in its native beauty and simplicity. It had been easy for the Fountain of Wisdom, who has bestowed eloquence even upon bad men, to have 'made the heralds of truth more eloquent than Plato, acuter than Demosthenes, and more ready at syllogisms than Aristotle and Chrysippus. But his design was not, that five, or ten, or fifteen, or a hundred, or twice so many more, should taste the salutary waters; but that all men, Greeks and barbarians, should have the benefit: and not only such as had been taught in 'schools of rhetoric and philosophy, but shoemakers, and taylors, and smiths, and all sorts ' of mechanics, and servants, and husbandmen, and in a word, rich and poor, and men and ⚫ women of all conditions. For this reason he made use of fishermen, and publicans, and a tentIb. p. 558. A.
8 P. 556. A. B. C.
i Ib. Serm. 6. p. 579. D. 580. A.
* Ib. Serm. 8. p. 591, 592.
Ib. p. 463. C.
Ib. Serm. v. p. 552. A.
Ib. p. 553. C. D.
• P. 555. A.
a Ib. p. 554. B. C. f P. 555. D.
maker, as instruments; and by them he conveyed to men divine and useful knowledge: not * altering the manner of speech to which they had been used, and in which they had been bred, ⚫ but nevertheless pouring out, by their means, the pure and refreshing streams of wisdom. • Just as if an entertainer should bring forth to his guests rich and fragrant wine in plain cups and glasses: they who thirst would drink the liquor, and without regarding the cups, admire the • wine. So have men acted in this case.
How great the power of those illiterate men has been, may appear to those who will compare the Greek and Roman lawgivers with our fishermen and publicans. They will find, that those lawgivers could not persuade even their neighbours to live according to their laws: but ⚫ these Galileans have persuaded not only Greeks and Romans, but the tribes of the barbarians ⚫ likewise, to embrace the law and doctrine of the gospel....Our fishermen, and publicans, and ⚫tent-maker, have persuaded all men to embrace the laws of the gospel; not only the Romans, and • others subject to their empire, but Scythians, and Sarmatians, and Indians, and Ethiopians, and • Persians, and Britains, and Germans. Indeed, they have brought all nations, and all sorts of men, to receive the laws of a crucified man: and that not by arms, or numerous legions of soldiers, nor by Persian violence; but by reasons and arguments, shewing the usefulness of those laws: nor was this effected, without many dangers and difficulties. In many places they suffered injuries; they were beaten, and imprisoned, and tortured, and underwent a variety of sufferings, inflicted on them by those who treated their benefactors, their saviours, and physicians, as their enemies, and as deceitful and designing men; nor have the sufferings brought upon their followers after their death been able to extinguish their doctrine. Romans, as well as barbarians, have done their utmost to abolish it; but they only made it shine out the brighter: and the evangelical laws are still in force....Neither Caius, nor Claudius, have been able to abolish the laws of fishermen, and publicans, and a tent-maker: no, nor yet Nero, their successor; though he put to death two of the principal of those lawgivers, Peter and Paul. He killed the lawgivers, but he could not abolish their laws: nor yet Domitian, or · any of the succeeding emperors of Rome. But the more the followers of Jesus, and of his apostles, were persecuted, the more they increased, till the whole world has been filled with 'them.' Here Theodoret proceeds to instance in a persecution of the Christians by the Persians; which he represents as exceeding cruel. He afterwards observes the great alterations which the Christian doctrine had made in the manners of those Persians that embraced it; and likewise, how it had civilized other people. People whom Augustus, and all the power of the Roman empire, could not induce to receive their laws, venerate the writings of Peter, and • Paul, and John, and Matthew, and Luke, and Mark, as if they had been sent down from heaven.' So writes Theodoret, before the middie of the fifth century. But I am in danger of exceeding in my extracts from so agreeable a writer: I therefore forbear to add any thing farther; though much more follows to the like purpose.
5. One thing we can perceive from Theodoret: that the heathen people were offended at the great respect then shewn to the martyrs. Theodoret justifies it: he says, the Greeks had little reason to make exceptions of that kind. Nor did Christians bring sacrifices to the martyrs; they only honoured them as excellent men, who had faithfully served God, and had laid down their lives for the truth.
6. He likewise insists on the celebrity of the martyrs, as an argument in favour of the principles which they professed. The memory, he says, of many triumphant conquerors is almost lost. Nobody knows where Darius, and Xerxes, and Alexander, were buried; nor can any shew the sepulchres of Augustus, and the emperors that have succeeded him. But the tombs of the victorious martyrs are well known, and often frequented; and magnificent temples are built to them, with the materials of heathen temples. And God has brought his dead men, the martyrs, into the room of your deities.
So Theodoret but the scriptures have given no directions for paying such respect to martyrs. And it should be considered, that by this time error had been mixed with truth; and supersti
Ib. Serm. 9. p. 608. B. b Ib. p. 610.
Ib. p. 610. D.
Των δε ἁλιεων τε και τελωνών, και το σκηνοςῥαφε τες νόμες, ου Γαϊος ισχυσεν, ο Κλαύδιος καταλυσαι, κ. λ. Ib. p. 611. D. Vid. et p. 612. A... . D.
lb. p. 613. B. C.
Ib. p. 615. A.
* Και το γεραίρειν δε τες μαρίυρας καταγέλασον εφάσκων, και λίαν ανοητον, το πειρασθαι τες ζωνίας παρα των τεθνεώτων ωφέλειαν ποείζεσθαι. Græc. Aff. in Prol. T. iv. p. 461. h Ib. Serm. 8. p. 599. C.
P. 605, C. D.
i Ib. Serm. 9. p. 604, 605.