Изображения страниц

session of His soul, and secure the empire over man which he thus by his own act unwittingly dissolved; for the Soul of Jesus he could not hold in Hades (Ps. xv. 11). This deceiving of Satan is even directly ascribed to God, who thereby used him as the blind instrument for destroying his own power, * but by what means he was thus deceived, and how again this delusion on his part agrees with the idea of a price paid and a bargain struck with him, is left as yet unexplained.

The death of Christ is further viewed by Origen as an atoning sacrifice, and is in this sense, too, declared to be necessary. “It was necessary that a victim should be provided for sin.” The question has been raised, whether he taught the theory of vicarious satisfaction, as afterwards understood. There are certainly scattered through his writings expressions, which might at first sight seem like anticipations of such a view; and he explains the famous prophecy (Is. liii. 5), "the discipline of our peace was upon Him,' unlike earlier writers, of the chastisement due to us for our discipline and recovery of peace being laid upon’ Christ, not, however, as a retributive punishment, but a remedial chastisement. $ That chastisement, inflicted by the hands of men, he invariably ascribes not to the wrath or vindictive justice, but to the love of God for men. Christ suffered, indeed, in our place, and for our deserts; but it was because His suffering had

* In Matt. Tom. xiii. 9.
+ In Num. Hom. xxiv. 1. Cf. Tom. in Joann. xxviii. 393.

Tom. in Joann. xviii. 1. kólaois not golvn. That Origen did not hold the theory of vicarious punishment is quite clear. Compare Redepenning's Origenes, vol. ii. p. 408, 899., and Bähr's Lehre der Kirche vom Tode Jesu (Sulzbach, 1832), pp. 123-128, and 151-154, with the passages quoted.

become the only means of securing our reformation, and thus delivering us from eternal death.* His sacrifice resembled in kind, though it transcended infinitely in degree, the sacrifices of those who have prefigured or imitated Him in laying down their life for their fellows. As the first-born of Egypt died that Israel might be saved; as apostles and martyrs have sealed their testimony with their blood; so, but far more perfectly, He who alone was sinless laid down His life for sinners, the one true and sufficient sacrifice of obedience to the will of God. He suffered at sinners' hands that temporal death, which had been under the Law the penalty of sin, but which, since He has consecrated by enduring it, is changed into a salutary penance, to be willingly, nay thankfully, accepted in conformity with His example, and as the path to eternal life. Wherein consists the especial connection between His obedience to God and the sacrifice of the cross, and how it is reconciled with that other necessity of a satisfaction to Satan, or how again the sinless soul of Jesus could be a price paid to the Evil One—these are difficulties which Origen does not solve. But he clears up much which had been left undetermined by Irenæus, and gives to the death of Christ, as the great act of obedience, and culminating point in that struggle of good against evil which had marked all along the history of mankind, a deeper moral significance than is exhibited by any previous writer.

To our former summary of the teaching of the first three centuries we must now add the full and distinct

* Serm. in Matt. 904. Tom. in Joann. xxviii. 393. + Tom. in Matt. xii. 546. In Joann. xxviii. 393.

Hom. in Levit. xiv. 4. Serm. in Matt. 912.

enunciation of what before had been intimated or implied, but never systematically expounded : the necessity or quasi-necessity of satisfying Satan's claim, as a matter of justice; or, to use the language employed by those who maintain this opinion, of a ransom being paid to him for the souls of men. The necessity of a sacrifice to God is also dwelt upon by Origen, but its grounds are left undeveloped, though clearly not understood in the sense of St. Anselm. The perpetual priesthood of Christ in heaven, which occupies a prominent place in nearly all the writings we have examined, is even more emphatically insisted upon by Origen. And this deserves to be remembered, because it is a part of the doctrine which has been almost or altogether dropped out of many Protestant expositions of the atonement, whereas those most inclining among Catholics to a merely juridical view of the subject have never been able to forget the present and living reality of a sacrifice constantly kept before their eyes, as it were, in the worship which reflects on earth the unfailing liturgy of heaven.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

As we pass from the third to the fourth century, from the age of persecutions and apologies to the age of controversies and councils, of systematic theology and definite creeds, a change comes over the whole literature of the Church. It becomes at once fuller, and in some sense more exact. The number of writers is multiplied, both in East and West, and their works grow more voluminous. We can no longer examine in detail the statements of each Father, as during the earlier centuries, nor is there the same reason for doing so. Throughout the whole period, from the fourth century to the time of St. Anselm, two tendencies, divergent but not necessarily contradictory (for both often appear in the same writer) manifest themselves in the treatment of the question before us, and the passages bearing on it may accordingly be grouped under one or other of two classes. We have found both these lines of thought exhibited in Origen's theological system; succeeding writers were occupied in their development.

First and chiefly, we have seen that Origen regards the death of our Lord as a ransom paid for our deliver


[ocr errors]

ance from the power of Satan; and the three ideas involved in this theory, and expressly insisted on by him—of an actual right over us acquired by the Devil through sin, which could not justly be rescinded without some adequate compensation; of the deceit practised upon him, by which he was made the instrument of his own discomfiture; and of the necessity for the death of Christ as the only sufficient ransom—form the basis of its treatment by later Fathers, who labour to harmonize what had seemed inconsistent, and to clear up what was left uncertain in the original statement. It was shown, on the other hand, that Origen like his predecessors taught, that our Lord's death was a sacrifice offered to God, though he does not explain why this sacrifice was needed, or how it was at the same time a satisfaction to the Devil. This view also is developed in the writers who followed him; but the notion of a ransom paid to Satan continues to be the common explanation of the necessity for Christ's death till Anselm's time, finding indeed its last express utterance in Peter Lombard. We may proceed, therefore, to examine the patristic literature of this period as treating the question under these two opposite aspects, of a satisfaction to Satan and a sacrifice to God; not taking each writer separately, but using the testimony of all so far as it bears on our subject. John Scotus Erigena, who stands alone in the ninth century, isolated alike in character and in date from the Fathers who preceded and the Scholastic writers who followed him, I reserve for separate notice at the end of the chapter.

Foremost among the Greek Fathers of the period before us stands Gregory Nyssen, foremost among the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »