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I mention not this as an unanswerable objection to the Constitutions, since death might have been the punishment of adultery in some places long before the law of Constantine, and since the adulterous Christian might be no Roman citizen. The best parts of the Constitutions are some of the prayers, taken probably from old liturgies.
The Hellenistic language, as it is called, has been mentioned as a confirmation of the Constitutions. Now this Hellenistic style is nothing more than the style of one who translates a Hebrew book verbally into Greek, or who thinks in Hebrew, and writes in Greek. Suppose any person at any time, whose native language is Greek, who is a Christian, who reads few or no profane authors, who never studied his own tongue, who has frequently perused the Septuagint and the New Testament, and has them almost by heart, who writes upon a religious subject, who is perpetually citing the Scriptures; this person will write in the Hellenistic manner, more or less, and will have Hebrew idioms, even though he should not under. stand one word of the language, especially if he has a mind to affect that style, which is very easily imitated.
My friend Mr Wasse, if I remember right, used to say, that the style of the Constitutions was Hellenistic. Be this as it will, there are in them abundance of words and phrases never used by the writers of the New Testament, though they afterwards appear in ecclesiastical authors, and some which are not at all in the old Christian style ; as for example, • Jeios Mwoñs, wliich seems polite and Pagan, rather than apostolical, vi. 25. The scribbler who is called Dionysius the Areopagite, has the same expression, ypaper de ny •
Sãos 'Lyra'tios. De Div. Nomin, And so the Clementina Epitome, ė Jeros Krauns. § 157. 'O Jeios a toscaos, says Clemens Alex. speaking of St Paul, I. p. 287, 602. but he is a learned writer, and borrows a thousand phrases from Pagans.
The Constitutions say that the Jews crucified malefactors, ii. 48. which is not true. See Le Clerc's Hammond on John xviii, 31. and Grotius on Galat. üi. 13. · They say that Herod ordered Christ to be crucified, which is a mistake, v. 19.
They say that Moses forbad the Jews to read the law out of the borders of their own country, which prohibition is not to be found, vi. 25.
They order widows to stay at home, to be grave, fc, and then they censure those who ramble about, and are busy bodies, and idle talkers, and call them par xipos, dance' anpas, not widows, but beggars wallets, étoipays eis tò aqubover, ever ready to receive. But the beauty of the original is lost in the translation, because the words are nearly alike in sound, and different in sense : so that the jingle cannot be preserved. It is as if we should say in English, such widows behave themselves not godly, but odly, iji. 6.
They say that a rich covetous man is like a dragon guarding a treasure, which emblein is borrowed from those profane authors whom they forbid Christians to read, iv. 4.
Vulpis cubile fodiens, dum terram eruit,
Phædrus iv, 19.
Ut magnus draco, quem canunt poëtre
Martial. xii. 33. They teach the resurrection of the same numerical body, a doctrine concerning which the Scriptures are certainly silent, v. 7.
They are heretics, say they, who make the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be one and the same person, and Jesus to be τον επί σανων Θεόν. This is supposed to be levelled against Simon Magus, but it is much more probable that it is against the Sabellians, vi. 26.
Having ordered Christians to honour the martyrs, they caution them not to honour false martyrs. If by Headquasiupes they only meant persons who perjured themselves, and bare false witness, as their citations may seem to imply, the caution was extremely ridi. culous : but it is more probable that they meant ejther schismatics, or unfortunate men, mistaken in some points of faith, whom they would not allow to be marfyrs, though they died for the name of Christ, and though they might have lived, if they would have renounced him ; such, for example, as the Novatians, v. 9.
They make St John say, I got up, avasa's cyw, and leaning upon Christ's breast, I asked him, &c. As they reclined on couches before the table, St John was seat. ed the next below his master, so that the back of his head was against the breast of Christ. He had therefore no occasion to get up, but only to raise himself, and turn his head a little when he spake to Christ. v. 14.
They make St John affirm, that où oras, thou hast said, is not the same as yes, v. 14.
They take much from the Epistle of Barnabas, for it is improbable that Barnabas should plunder them,
and and never own or hint the obligation. Now Barnabas wrote after the destruction of Jerusalem.
They say at the end of a prayer-Gather us into thy kingdom. Aúrn Haparald, i.e. Hec venit Dominus, which is little to the purpose : consult the notes there. In the same prayer they say, duralos Otàs, o wisós ry danceros, και αψευδής εν ταις επαγ/ελίαις: which looks as if it were taken from Polycarp's prayermi di feudis nģ canturòs Otós. p. 201, Ed. Cler. yii. 26,
The invocation after the communion begins thus, đícơ 7a Đenc,có % Tay GeTolar :sauYa; Ta; evTsubac-Domine Deus,cognitor precum etiam eorum qui tacent. The expression is elegant and noble, but it seems to be taken from an old Delphic oracle, in Herodotus, i.
Και κωφο Γυνίημι, και 8 φωνέυνος ακύω.
Mutum percipio, fantis nihil audio vocem. viii. 15.
They insert in a prayer, The holy angels say to thee, eis @yos tū Benuwsí.It is taken from Daniel viii. 13. Και ήκεσα ενός αγία λαλένθος και απεν εις άγιος τώ Φιλμωνι το λαnão o ews sóta, &c. As it is introduced in the Constitutions, it is neither better nor worse than gibberish, and he who put it in did not understand it, vii. 35.
They say that the Golden Calf was the Egyptian Apis, and so says the author of the Recognitions, i. 35. which, if true, was yet more than they could certain, ly know, unless we should grant them to have had it by inspiration, i. 6. vi, 20.
They relate Peter's combat with Simon, in which he shot the magician flying, and brought him down to the ground. The false Hegesippus, and one Abdias, in his Historia Apostolica, confirm it likewise : So we have no less than three witnesses for it; but they are, L4
Sardi Sardi venales, alius alio nequior. The first author, fit to be named, who speaks of it, is Arnobius, and he comes too late. Cotelerius in his notes on the Constitutions, very honestly declares himself to be a doubter, and gives the reader leave to reject the story: but Tillemont is not so indulgent, and comes upon us with a formidable list of vouchers : Quand il seroit vray que cette histoire seroit une fiction, nous aimerions mieur, tant qu'on n'aura point de preuve claire et convaincante de sa fausseté, nous tromper en ce point avec Arnobe, S. Cyrille de Jerusalem, les legats du Pape Libere, S. Ambroise, S. Augustin, S, Isidure de Peluse, S. Theodoret, et plusieurs autres, que d'estre obligez d'accuser d'une credulité indiscrete un grand nombre des plus illustres maitres de l'Eglise Latine et Greque. Hist. Eccl. i. p. 178,
He who will belieye all that he finds related by the writers of the fourth and fifth centuries, should be provided with a double portion of credulity, and have the stomach of an ostrich to digest fables. But the fa. thers here mentioned were not the inventors of this combat, they stand clear of such a charge, and are on: ly to be blamed for paying too much regard to traditionary reports, or to some fabulous author. Leucius was in all probability the inventor of this lie, as Beausobre conjectures, Hist. de Man, i, 396. One would think that the silence of the fathers before Arnobius were alone a sufficient reason to reject this story, and particularly the silence of Eusebius, who wrote after Arnobius ; and their silence shews, at the same time, that they knew nothing, or believed nothing of the Constitutions
Let it be observed, to the honour of Eusebius, that of all the ancient ecclesiastical historians, he has