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He was very learned and ingenious, and indefatigably industrious; his whole life from his early years was spent in examining, teaching, and explaining the Scriptures, to which he joined the study of philosophy, and of all polite literature. He was humble, modest, and patient under great injuries and cruel treatment which he received from Christians and Pagans ; for though he ever had a considerable number of friends and admirers on account of his amiable qualities and useful accomplishments, he was persecuted and calumniated by men who had neither his learning nor his virtue, degraded from the order of presbyters, driven from his home, and excommunicated by one Demetrius, bishop of Alexandria, who envied him, says Eusebius, for the reputation which he had gained. Whilst they were both together in the land of the living, the bishop had the advantage over the presbyter, so as to be able to harrass and oppress him : but now Origen is a far more illustrious and a far more reverend name than Demetrius, in the Christian world, and in the Republic of Letters, Suum cuique decus rependit Posteritas.
Pro hoc sudore quid accepit preemi Origenes ? Dannatur a Demetrio Episcopo. Exceptis Palestinæ et Arabiæ et Phænices atque Achuæ sacerdotibus, in damnationem ejus consentit orbis. Roma ipsa contra hunc cogit senatum ; non propter dogmatum novitatem, nec propter heeresim, ut nunc adversus eum rabidi canes simulant : sed quin gloriam eloquentive ejus et scientice ferre non poterant, et, illo docente, omnes muti putabantur. So said Jerom, whilst he had a favourable opinion of Origen, and before he turned his coat, and abused hiin. Vid. Rufin. Apol. ii. There are many, says Origen, who loving me more
than I deserve, speak too advantageously of me, and ascribe to me what I have not, and pretend not to have : others decry all that I say and do, and accusę me of sentiments which I never held. Both transgress the rules of truth; the latter through spite and hatred, the former through fond affection ; affection which perhaps deludes and misleads as much as enmity. In Luc. Hom, 25.
By boldly and openly confessing Jesus Christ at all times, by attending the martyrs, and by converting many, and some of them considerable persons, to Christianity, he highly provoked the Pagans, and was often in the utmost danger, and in the reign of Decius he underwent imprisonment, chains, and tortures. When he was not seventeen years old, his father suffered martyrdom, and he had so earnest a desire to die with him for the saine cause, and threw himself so much in the way of the persecutors, that his mother was obliged to use violence and to confine him at home. He then wrote his father a letter, exhorting him to be constant, and not moved by compassion and affection for his family, which consisted of a wife and seven sons who had nothing to support them, and would be left in great want. He was ever extremely sober and exemplary, practising what he preached to others, and he lived and died poor and destitute even of common conveniencies.
He carried his rigour and self-denial to an excess, using austerities which proved prejudicial to his constitution, and whilst he expounded the scriptures * too much in the allegorical way, he interpreted, I know not how, some passages too literally, and by
* His excesses of this kind can never be excused; they were in him even a distemper, which might be called, Furor Allegoricus.
acting suitably to such a sense, he injured his own body and his health ; but this was in his younger days, and he condemned himself for it afterwards.
His inquisitive genius, and his mixing philosophy with Christianity, led him perhaps into some learned singularities, and ingenious réveries ; but he was by temper far from dogmatizing in such points, from fou menting ehisms, and setting up himself for the head of a party. He lived in times when Christians were not so shackled with systems and determinations as they were afterwards, nor so much exposed to disingenuous and illiberal objections, and had more liberty to pursue their inquiries, and to speak their mind.
That he sacrificed to idols, to avoid an obscene and most infamous punishment contrived by the Pagans, is a tale recorded by the father of tales, by Epiphanius, who was a diligent collector of groundless and censorious reports, and who hated Origen and his writings. Towards the end of his life he wrote his justly esteemed book against Celsus, where, after owning that the number of miracles in his days was very much diminished, he speaks of some which were performed even then, as healing the sick, and casting out devils by invocation of Jesus, and he mentions sone who were converted to Christianity by visions and revelations. He s;eaks of some of these things as one who was well informed, and he appeals to God that what he says is true, p. 34, 35, &c. This seems to be the best testimony we have that the sick in those days were sometimes miraculously healed, and thus much may be affirmed that he was utterly incapable of affirming a fact which he knew or suspected to be false. But from his writings and from his conduct it ap
pears too evidently to be denied or dissembled, that, with all his great and good qualities, he had a warm imagination, which lessens the force of his testimony in the affair of miracles, though his piety and probity be unquestionable. He seems to have admitted the power of magical * spells, and the efficacy of divine names pronounced in barbarous languages; and hence he also was accused of approving magic arts, by some of his adversaries, but unreasonably, since they ought rather to have charged him with overcredulity in these things.
• Origen figured to himself divers kinds of dænions, " presiding, if we may so say, over different vices, " and having each their prince and their chief. Le“ gions of dæmons, some of pride, others of anger, or others of avarice, or of fornication, laboured inces66 santly under the orders of their leaders, to seduce « miserable mortals, and to turn their hearts towards "s vice. This imagination was not peculiar to Ori, " gen.” Orig. in Jos. Hom. xv. App. Mass. Diss. in Iren. p. 62. Beausobre Hist. de Man. ii. 20.
It is no wonder if they who supposed that each vice hadits presiding and influencing dæmon, found dæmons and dæmoniacs every where, and ascribed almost every moral or natural evil to evil spirits, so that a profli. gate fellow could not commit any misdemeanour, but it was, Siquis, instigante Diabolo, &c.
But what Origen hath delivered concerning divine impulses upon hearts properly disposed to receive them, is more probable and more reasonable. Many people, says he, have been brought over to Christianity, by the
. Spirit • Contra Cels. i. 19. Synesius, a platonic philosopher and a bishop, had much the same notions.
Spirit of God giving a sudden turn to their minds, and offering visions to them either by day or night ; so that instead of hating the word, they became reudy even to lay doon their lives for it. I have seen many examples of this sort.--God is my witness, that my sole purpose is, to recommend the religion of Jesus, not by fictitious tales, &c. Why should it be thought improbable that pagans of good dispositions, but not free from prejudices, should have been called by divine admonitions, by dreams, or visions, which might be a support and a reinforcement to Christianity in those days of distress ? See the story of Basilides and Potamiæna, in Eusebius, vi. 5. Basilides, whilst he was a pagan soldier, had shewed great humanity and compassion to this illustrious virgin and martyr, and she prayed to God for his conversion, and, as we are told, appcared to him in a dream, upon which he professed himself a Christian, and was beheaded. Potamiæna seems * to have been one of Origen's disciples, and it is not at all unlikely (though I think it hath hitherto escaped observation) that Origen had this example in his thoughts, when he wrote the words above cited.
Socrates the historian makes a remark in which Plato and Origen are concerned. Speaking of two learned presbyters, he expresses his wonder that they continued Arians, since one of them was very funil of Plato, and the other of Origen; wir ė pir tor Tlačrwa ari nila yri
O pas • Rufinus Putamiænam Origenis discipulam facit. In quo Rufino refragari equidem non ausim. Etsi enim id diserte non dixit Eusebius, ex ejus tamen narratione id colligi videtur. Nam cum Martyres qui ex Origenis schola extiterunt, hic recensens, Basilidem et Potamizenam illis accenseat, hi quoque ex Origenes discipulis fuerint necesse est. quod cum de Basilide dici non possit, de Potamiza certe sit admodum probabile. Valesias.