Chapter I



§ 1. General featwes of PlatonUm and Artstotelianism.

In investigating the influence which secular Philosophy has exerted upon the construction of Christian Doctrine, the limits to which we are shut up by the character of this work will not permit an examination of the great multitude of schemes of human speculation, that have made themselves felt in the intellectual history of the church. We shall, therefore, confine our attention to those two systems, by which the theoretical apprehension of revealed truth has been the most decidedly modified, and for the geatest length of time. These two systems are Platonism, and Arietotelianism.

Before proceeding to the discussion of the subject, it is worthy of notice, that there are some advantages in being limited to the examination of only these two philosophies.

1. In the first place, they have exerted more influence upon the intellectual methods of men, taking in the whole time since their appearance, than all other systems combined. They certainly influenced the Greek mind, and Grecian culture, more than all the other philosophical systems. They reappear in the Roman philosophy,—so far as Rome had any philosophy. We shall see that Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero, exerted more influence than all other philosophical minds united, upon the greatest of the Christian Fathers; upon the greatest of the Schoolmen; and upon the theologians of the Reformation, Calvin and Melancthon. And if we look at European philosophy, as it has been unfolded in England, Germany, and France, we shall perceive that all the modern theistic schools have discussed the standing problems of human reason, in very much the same manner in which the reason of Plato and Aristotle discussed them twenty-two centuries ago. Bacon, Des Cartes, Leibnitz, and Kant, so far as the first principles of intellectual and moral philosophy are concerned, agree with their Grecian predecessors. A student who has mastered the two systems of the Academy and Lycaeum will find in Modern philosophy (with the exception of the department of Natural Science) very little that is true, that may not be found for substance, and germinally, in the Greek theism. In being shut up to these systems we are, therefore, subjected to no great disadvantage.

2. Secondly, these two philosophies contain more of truth than all other systems that do not draw from them, or are opposed to them. They contain a representation of the powers and functions, the laws, operations, and relations, of the human mind, that is nearer to the actual matter of fact, than can be found in other alien and differing systems. They are therefore the best instrument to be employed in evoking the powers of the human mind; in forming and fixing its methods of intellectual inquiry; and in guiding it in the investigation of the legitimate subjects that are presented to it. We are speaking only comparatively, it will be noticed. We are comparing things human with things human; systems of finite reason with systems of finite reason. Neither Platonism nor Aristotelianism is free from grave errors. Plato, in some places, certainly, teaches a defective theory of moral evil, in deriving it from the i)A.rj, and regarding it as the involuntary imperfection which necessarily belongs to the finite.1 Aristotle indirectly fosters pantheism, in speculating so much more upon To 6v than upon 6 civ, and in denying the immortality of the individual soul, though conceding it to mind in its generic nature.1 Yet Doth of these systems, taken together as a whole, were antagonistic to the atheism, the materialism, and even the polytheism of the pagan world. The Greek theism, as represented in these two systems, notwithstanding its defects, affirmed the existence of god, and of one supreme god,2 and taught a spiritual theory of man and human life. Hence we are justified in saying that these two systems are, comparatively, the best which the unaided reason of man

1" The relation of man to sin," the constitution of nature and the remarks Aceermann (Christian world, and into which man has element in Plato, p. 265), "his fallen merely from ignorance." subjection to its power and do- The following extracts illustrate minion, is with Plato not so much this. "Almost all intemperance (as according to the Christian in pleasure and disgraceful conview) one made by himself and duct (dKparia Ka\ Omisos) is not proceeding from the free act of properly blameworthy like volhis will, as rather one founded in untary evil. For no one is vol

untarily evil (rnucor piv yap «&>» oiStis); for the evil man becomes evil through a kind of bad habit of

body (irovtjpav f^iv Tifa roi aapa

Tos), and an ill-regulated training." Timaeus, 86. d. "He who commends justice speaks the truth, but he who disparages it eaya nothing sound and salutary; nor does he disparage intelligently

what he disparages Let

us then mildly persuade him, for he does not willingly err (on yap iKav apaprdvii)." Be Repxiblica, IX. 689. d. "For Simonides was not so ill-informed as to say that he praised those who did no evil willingly; as if there were those who did evil willingly (is Srrav

TtVWV Ot CKOITfr KC1K(1 noioiaiv).

For I am about of the opinion that no wise mar supposes that any one errs wit ingly {U6vra i£apaoravuv), or willingly commits base and wicked acts; but that all men well know that those who commit base and wicked acts do so involuntarily (atavrts nmowi)." Protagoras, 845. d. At the same time, it is needless to remind the reader, that Plato's doctrine of law and justice, and particularly of the divine vengeance upon evil, is in utter contradiction with

such representations as these.

Aristotle alludes to this view of the involuntariness of sinful habits, and combats it, in the Nicoma

chean Ethic*, (Book III. Chap. v. Bohn's Ed. p. 68). "But as to the saying, that'no person is willingly wicked, nor unwillingly happy,' it Beems partly true and partly false; for no one is unwillingly happy, but vice is voluntary Legislators punish people even for ignorance itself, if they appear to be the cavse of their own ignorance; just as the punishment is double for drunken people; for the principle is in themselves, since it was in their own power not to get drunk, and this drunkenness is the cause of their ignorance. And they punish those who are ignorant of anything in the laws which they ought to know; and likewise in all other cases in which men appear to be ignorant through negligence; upon the ground that it was in their own power not to be ignorant; for they had it in their own power

to pay attention to it But

if any one by an uncompelled ignorance docs unjust acts, he is unjust voluntarily; nevertheless he will not be able to leave off being unjust, and to become just whenever he pleases. For the sick man cannot become well [by his own volition], even though it so happen that he is voluntarily ill, owing to a debauched life, and from disobedience to physicians. At the time, therefore, it

was in his own power not to be ill, but when he has allowed himself to become ill, it is no longer in his own power; just as it is no longer in the power of a man who has thrown a stone, to recover it; and yet the throwing and casting it was in his own power; and thus in the beginning it was in the power of the unjust and the intemperate man not to become such; and therefore they are so voluntarily; but when they have become so, it is no longer in their own power to avoid being so." The ethics of Aristotle here agree with the Augustinian position in the Pelagian controversy, that power having been given by creation, if lost by apostasy (which is an act of unforced self-will), the creature is still under obligation. 'It is the opinion of Ritter (Ancient Philosophy, III. 648) that Aristotle differed from Plato, in holding that the soul is special or individual only so far as it exists in a determinate body, and that, therefore, as individual it is perishable. The early Christian Fathers supposed that Aristotle denied the immortality of the

soul, and Mobheim coincides with them. But Cudworth is inclined to explain the skeptical phraseology of Aristotle upon this point, by referring it to the animal soul, and not to the rational. Yet, he thinks that Aristotle is not as explicit as Plato, in affirming the soul's immortality. (Intellectual System, Book I. Oh. xlv., and Mosheim's Note.)

* The early Fathers, in their defences of Christianity against the pagan opponent, contend that the better pagan writers themselves agree with the new religion in teaching that there is one Supreme Being. Lactantius (Institutiones, 1.5), after quoting the Orphic Poets, Hesiod, Virgil, and Ovid, in proof that the heathen poets taught the unity of the supremo deity, affirms that the better pagan philosophers agree with them in this. "Aristotle," he says, "although he disagrees with himself, and says many things that are self-contradictory, yet testifies that one supreme mind rules over the world. Plato, who is regarded as the wisest philosopher of them all, plainly and

openly defends the doctrine of a divine monarchy, and denominates the supreme heing, not ether, nor reason, nor nature, but as he is, god; and asserts that by him this perfect and admirable world was made. And Cicero follows Plato, frequently confessing the deity, and calls him the supreme being, in his treatise on the Laws. Furthermore, when he discusses the nature of the gods, he argues that the world is governed by this supreme deity in the following manner: 'Nothing is more excellent than god; therefore it must be that the world is governed by him. Hence god is not obedient or subject to any other existence of any kind; consequently, he governs all other existences.' What god is, he thus defines in his tract On Consolation: 'The deity whom we are speaking of cannot be defined otherwise than as a free and unrestrained intelligence (mens soluta quaedam, et libera), distinct from all mortal concretion or mixture, perceiving and moving all things.' Seneca also, who was the most zealous of even the Roman stoics,—how often does he praise the supreme deity. For when he is speaking of premature death he says: 'Dost thou not perceive the authority and majesty of thy judge, the ruler of the

world, the god of heaven and of all gods, upon whom these several single divinities whom we adore and worship are dependent ?'" Augustine takes the same ground (De Civitate Dei, IV. 24, 25, 81; VII. 6.). Plato (Euthyphron, 6. b. c) represents Socrates as asking Euthyphron: "Do you then think that there is in reality war among the gods one with another, and fierce enmities and battles, and many other things of the kind, such as are related by the poets, and with representations of which by good painters the temples have been decorated? Must we say that these things are true, Euthyphron?" The charge of atheism brought against Socrates was probably founded npon his denial of the philosophic and real truthfulness of the popular polytheism. Plutaech (De sera numinis vindicta) employs the expressions To Soifiowoi/, irpovoia, 3fdc indifferently in the singular or plural. He also speaks of the mythological gods, Jupiter, Apollo, etc., as subordinate to a higher power, and not as sharing a divided empire over the world. For a full account of the difference between the monotheistic and the polytheistic paganism, compare: Cudworth'b Intellectual System, I. iv. 24, et passim; Howe's Living Temple, Part I.

has constructed, and that there are some advantages in being forced to pass by all secondary and opposing systems, when discussing the influence of philosophical systems upon Christianity.

3. A third advantage in confining our attention to these two systems, is found in their essential agreement with each other. Platonism and Aristotelianism differ only in form, not in substance. This is evident upon testing each by the great standing problems of philosophy. In reference to the principal questions and topics, both give the same answers, and both are found upon the same side of the line that divides all philosophies into the material and the spiritual, the pantheistic and the theistic. There is a substantial agreement between Plato and his pupil Aristotle, respecting the rationality and immortality of the mind as mind, in distinction from matter; respecting the nature and origin of ideas; respecting the relative position and importance of the senses, and of knowledge by the senses. But these are subjects which immediately reveal the general spirit of a philosophic system. Let any one read the ethical treatises of Plato and Aristotle, and he will see that both held the same general idea of the deity as a moral governor; of moral law; and of the immutable reality of right and wrong. The political writings of both, teach that man possesses an innate political nature, and both breathe the same political spirit. Noticing these resemblances, the student who passes from the one to the other author perceives that he has not passed into a different philosophical division, but is all the while upon the high ground of theism and spiritualism.1

Ch. ii; SraiiNQFtBET's Origines merischo Theologie. There is

Sacrae; Grotii De veritate Chris- nothing of a saving or redemptive

tianae religionis; Episcopii Insti- nature in the mere doctrine of

tntiones; Horsley's Prophecies the divine unity. The devils are

of the Messiah dispersed among monotheists (James, ii. 19.) Bat

the heathen; Harvey's Prelimi- there is great condemning power

nary Essay to Irenaens; Glad- in the doctrine, if, as was the

Stone's Homer, H. 1 sq.; Mor- case with the pagan world, "when

Gas's Trinity of Plato and Phi- they knew God, they glorified

lo, p. 98 sq.; Naoelsraou's Ho- him not as God" (Rom. i. 21).

1 Rittrh, in his History of Ancient Philosophy (Vol. Ill), states the coincidences hetween Plato and Aristotle as follows: (1) Aristotle adopts Plato's divisions in philosophy, viz.: Logic (Aristotle, Metaphysics), Physics, Ethics (Aristotle, Politios) ; and the Platonic terminology generally, pp. 15, 68. (2) Aristotle like Plato teaches that the knowledge of the ultimate ground of all things, alone, is science, and that this universal principle upon which all sciences depend, as their initiative and leading clue, [corresponding to Bacon's "form of induction"] is necessary, and not hypothetical, pp. 85, 89. (8) Plato sought this necessary first ground or principle, in the idea of God; Aristotle sought it in the idea of [necessary] Being, Ta ov, as distinguished from [contingent] matter,—[i. e. in Spirit as

distinguished from Nature], p. 58. (4) Plato's "dialectic" is the same as Aristotle's "first philosophy." p. 58. (5) Aristotle uses Plato's arguments against the Eleatic School, which asserted that one thing is as true as another, hence that there is no absolute truth at all. p. 75. (6) Aristotle generally, like Plato, carefully distinguishes the sensuous representation, and whatever belongs to the province of the senses, from rational thought, or the ideas of reason,—which latter faculty is indifferently denominated vovs or Sidvom by both writers. Aristotle, however, does not make so wide a separation between sense and reason as Plato does, p. 89.—" The disagreement," says Ritter (p. 848), "between Plato and Aristotle is only apparent, or at least it is only upon matters of subordinate interest. Upon all essential points there is unanim- yet so much, I think, may be

The method of each is indeed different, though the matter remains the same. And inasmuch as the method sometimes exerts even more influence than the matter upon the mind of the student, it is not surprising, if, upon looking too exclusively at the divergence of men and schools at the end of the line, and after this difference between the two methods has been aggravated and exaggerated by time and mental temperaments, he is strongly inclined to believe, that there must be an essential diversity between the two systems themselves. The synthesis and poetry of Plato, for illustration, at one extreme, become Gnosticism, while the analysis and logic of Aristotle, at the other extreme, become extravagant subtilty, and minute Scholasticism. And inasmuch as but little resemblance can be traced between Gnosticism and Scholasticism, it is hastily concluded that there can be no sameness of essential matter, and oneness of fundamental principle, between the original systems from which they sprang, and by the abuse of which they came into existence. For we shall find that the evil which Christianity has suffered from these philosophical systems, has originated from an exaggera

ity." With this, Cud-worth coin- granted to those reconcilers (Por

cides. "Though the genius of phyry, Simplicius, and others)

these two persons was very differ- that the main essentials of their

ent, and Aristotle often contra- philosophies are the same." (la

dicteth Plato, and really dissents tellectnal System, I. 94. Tegg's

from him in several particulars; Ed.)

tion of one particular element in each, and its sole employment in philosophizing upon Christianity, to the neglect of the remaining elements of the system. Letting go of the sober and truthful ideas of the system itself, which served to fill out and substantiate the method, the speculator held on upon the mere hollow method alone. In this way, Platonism, under the treatment of the New-Platonics, degenerated into an imaginative theosophy; and Aristotelianism, in the handling of the later Schoolmen, became mere hair-splitting,—both systems, in this way, each in its turn, contributing to the corruption of Christianity.

With this preliminary account of the relations of Platonism and Aristotelianism to each other, we pass to consider the extent to which these philosophies have prevailed in the church, and the estimate in which they have been held.

§ 2. Philosophy at the time of the Advent.

At the time of the advent of Christ, and in the age immediately preceding, the philosophical world was in a state of deep decline, and of growing corruption. Philosophy, like all other departments of human inquiry, as well as the general intellectual condition of mankind, was at the lowest point. The system most extensively prevalent was the Epicurean, because this is most congenial to corrupt human nature, and possessing little or nothing of a scientific character is more easily understood and received by the masses. Epicureanism is the most natural and spontaneous philosophical scheme for earthly minds, and hence prevails in those periods when the fallen humanity runs its career with greatest swiftness, and with least resistance, from religion, or from the better philosophical systems.

Yet, at the time when the Eternal Word became flesh, and dwelt among men, the system that exerted most influence upon the nobler class of minds was Platonism. The Jewish Philo, and the Pagan Plutarch and Pliny, are representatives of a class of men of earnest minds, in this period, who could not be satisfied with the prevailing Epicureanism and Sensualism in speculation. We cannot call them Platonists in the strictest use of the term; for Philo and Plutarch were New-Platonists,1 and Pliny was of the Stoic school. Still, employing the term in a wide signification, to denote a great philosophical tendency opposed to Epicureanism and Sensualism, these men belonged to one and the same general division in philosophy,—that of the Grecian Theism. For New-Platonism, though a degenerate type, was yet tinctured strongly with the characteristics of the system from which it had degenerated; and Stoicism upon the side of ethics has much in common with the system of Aristotle.

1 Cudworth (Intellectual Sjrs- the origin of evil; Mosheim comtem, I. 882) shows that Platarch bats him, but ineffectually, adopted dualism, to account for

"We find then the fact to be, that in the century preceding and succeeding the advent of our Lord, Platonism, in the wide acceptation of the term, was the philosophy that was moulding the minds of the most thoughtful and earnest men, and that these men, although a very small minority, yet like such minorities generally, were destined to exert a greater influence upon the history of Opinions than the opposite majority of Epicureans.

§ 3. Philosophy in the Apologetic Period: A. D. 70—A. D. 254.

Passing into the Apologetic period, we find the facts in respect to the philosophical influences operating within the Christian church to be as follows:

Philosophy is now within the church itself. In the preceding period, it was outside of it. The Plutarchs, Plinys, and Philos, were not Christians; and the Apostolic Church, being under the direct guidance of the Apostles, had little or nothing to do with systems of human speculation. In this period, however, we find that philosophy has been adopted by the Christian as distinguished from the Pagan mind, and that within the sphere of the church it is now more successfully cultivated, and more legitimately employed, than in the sphere of the world. The secular mind now employs philosophy, and even this more lofty and ethical philosophy of which we are speaking, in attacking Christianity; while the ecclesiastical mind employs it to repel their attacks. Lucian was indeed an avowed Epicurean; but Celsus pretends at least to Platonism,1 and Porphyry was a New-Platonist; and the substance of the attack upon Christianity, in this period, was the work of these two latter minds. The consequence is, that the Christian apologist is compelled to study, and employ this same general system of speculation, for his own higher purposes. He perceives that a system of philosophy like the Platonic is favourable to the principles of ethics and natural religion; that it does not, like the Epicurean, undermine all morality and religion; and therefore insists, and with right, that so far as it can properly go, it is not unfriendly to the system of revealed truth.2 Indeed, the controversy between the Platonic infidels Porphyry and Celsus, and the Platonic apologists Justin Martyr and Origen, did not relate so much to the question whether Platonism was substantially correct, but whether it was all that man needed; not whether the first principles of ethics and natural religion are true and valid, but whether natural religion is able to secure the eternal interests of mankind,—a question which is constantly recurring, and which constitutes the gist of the controversy between skepticism and Christianity at this very moment, as much as it did in the first ages of the church

1 Neander (I. 160) regards Ori- the worst, as the corruption of the gen as mistaken, in attributing the best thing), and by that means work against Christianity to Cel- eonld with greatest confidence sns the Epicurean, the friend and hold up the bucklers against Chriscontemporary of Lucian. Cud- tianity and encounter it; but also Worth (II. 840) remarks that because the Platonic principles, as "though Celsus were suspected they might be understood, would, by Origen to have been indeed of all others, serve most plausibly an Epicurean, yet did he at least to defend the pagan polytheism personate a Platonist too. The and idolatry." reason whereof might be, not only * Justin Martyr and Clement of because the Platonic and Pyth- Alexandria frequently cite the agoric sect was the divinest of monotheistic views of Plato, reall the Pagans, and that which specting the popular divinities, in approached nearest to Christian- proof of the nothingness of the ity and the truth (however, it heathen deities, and the folly of might by accident therefore prove idolatry.

The consequence was, that this system of human philosophy, the Greek theism, upon being brought into the church and employed in defending Christianity, received a more exact definition, and a more legitimate application, than it obtained while employed by the secular and skeptical mind. It thereby came nearer to the original form in which it was first promulgated by Plato and Aristotle. Let any one examine the philosophical positions of Justin, Origen, and even that earnest hater of philosophy Tertullian, and he will see that there is a much closer agreement between these Christian Apologists and Plato and Aristotle, than there is between these latter and the New-Platonic skeptics. For the New-Platonic skeptics did not confine Platonism within its true limits. It was their desire to establish human philosophy upon the ruins of Christianity, as a universal religion,— sufficient to meet the wants of humanity, and therefore rendering the revealed system superfluous. Hence the human system itself was enlarged by deductions that were illegitimate, and by additions that were alien to its true meaning and substance; so that the imaginative New-Platonism that resulted is quite different from the more sober and circumscribed philosophising of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.1

'The difference between Platonism and New-Platonism has been often overlooked, notwithstanding that writers of high authority have directed attention to it. Brucxer (Historia Philosophise II. 864, De Secta Eclectics) remarks, "Totum quoquo systems Platonicum adulterandum, et mutandum, adjiciendum et ex aliis systematibus inserendnm erat, quo factum est, ut tota fere facie a Platonis imagine deficisset." NieRuhr (Later Roman History, Lectures LXX. and LXX VIII.) agrees with this in saying, that "the [hostile] relation in which NewPlatonism placed itself towards Christianity introduced something downright untrue into the Platonic philosophy, which was now made to prop up paganism." Besides this motive which the New-Platonic skeptic found in his opposition to Christianity, to adulterate the Socratic Platonism, there was the natural tendency to corruption in a philosophical system as taught by the disciple, who is always an inferior mind compared with the originator of

the system. Bacon (Advancement of Learning, Book I.) remarks the tendency in the disciple to falsify and injure the system of the master, in the following terms. "Hence it hath come that in arts mechanical the first deviser comes shortest, and time addeth and perfecteth; but in sciences the first author goeth farthest, and time leaseth and corrupteth. So, we see, artillery, sailing, printing, and the like were grossly managed at the first, but by time accommodated and refined: but contrariwise, the philosophies and sciences of Aristotle, Plato, Democritus, Em-lidos, Archimedes, of most vigor at the first, and by time degenerate and embased; whereof the reason is no other, but that in the former, many wits and industries havecontributed in one; and in thelatter, many wits and industries* have been spent about the wit of some one, whom many times they have rather depraved than illustrated."—The opposition of New-Platonism to Christianity, in its endeavor to establish itself

The fact then, in relation to the Apologetic period is, that Platonism, in the widest acceptation, was the dominant philosophy, so far as the theologian made any use of human speculation. To use the summary conclusion of Baumgarten-Crusius, "the church adhered to Platonism, notwithstanding all the varied and injurious influences that were experienced from the exaggerations or misapplications of this system, as that philosophical doctrine or school which was not only the most extensively prevalent, but appeared to be most akin, in its general spirit and tendency, to Christianity."1

It ought, however, to be added, that at the close of this Apologetic period, Aristotelianism began to appear in a more distinct and independent manner than before, so that the dim beginnings of that dialectic spirit which did not attain any very considerable influence till the great outburst of Scholastieism, may be traced here and there. It was, however, the method, rather than the matter of this system that exerted an influence, and attracted attention at this time. So far as the substance of Aristotelianism is concerned, it was, as we have shown, one with Platonism, and therefore really at work in the general mind of this period; but so far as its logical forms are concerned, it now began for the first time to exert a slight influence, which was not regarded with favour by the leading ecclesiastical minds. The school of Alexandria, where the Platonic spirit was more intense and extreme than elsewhere, were particularly opposed to Aristotelianism, as it had then appeared, and as they understood it. But the writings themselves of Aristotle were not much known, and as a consequence both adherents and opponents proceeded from an imperfect apprehension of his system. Baumgarten-Crusius remarks, that in the church of the first centuries Aristotelianism was almost synonymous with sophistry, and hair-splitting. Irenaeus says that "minuteness and subtilty about curious questions is characteristic of Aristotelianism." 1 Tertullian, speaking of the heretics he was opposing, alludes to the " wretched Aristotle, who invented their logic for them."2 The fact seems

as a system sufficient to meet the class of writings that Coleridgc

wants of mankind, showed itself (Works V. 267) remarks that,

in three forms: (1) Open attack, "from the confounding of Plotin

by Porphyry, Julian, Proclus, ism with Platonism, the English

and Plotinus. (2) By exaggerated Latitudinarian divines fell into

sketches of distinguished pagan the mistake of finding in the

philosophers to take the place of Greek philosophy many anticipa

the gospel narratives,—such as tions of tho Christian faith, which

Jamblichus's life of Pythagoras, in fact were but its echoes. The

Philostratus's life of Apollonins inference is as perilous as inevi

of Tyana. (8) By forged writings table, namely, that even the mys

containing some Biblical ideas teries of Christianity needed no

mixed with errors, which were to revelation, having been previously

be disseminated as of equal au- discovered and set forth by un

thority with the canonical books, aided reason."

It is with reference to this latter 'Dograengeschichte, I. § 18.

'Ad versus Haereses, II. 14. lem! qui illis dialocticam instituit,

"Minutiloquium, etsubtilitas circa artificem 6truendi et destruendi

quaestiones, Aristotelicuin est." versipellem, omnia re

'De praescriptionibus haereti- tractuntem, ne quid omnino trac

oorum, -vii. "Miserum Aristote- taverit."

to have been that Aristotelianism, during the 2d and 3d centuries, was employed chiefly by the heretical mind,1 merely as an acute logical method, and almost wholly in discussions respecting the origin of the world, and the nature of the deity. Among the erroneous doctrines advanced at this time in connection with this system, was that of the eternity of the world.

§ 4. Philosophy in the Polemic Period. A. D. 254 —A D. 730.

Passing into the Polemic period, we find the same Grecian theism to be the dominant philosophical system. As the ecclesiastical mind now became more scientific than in the Apologetic age, it was natural that the Platonic philosophy should be still better understood, so that we find the vagueness and fancifulness of New-Platonism gradually disappearing, and giving place to a more correct apprehension of the genuine Socratic Platonism united with more of the Aristotelian element. The attention of Augustine, the greatest theologian of this important period, had been directed to Christianity by the aspirations awakened during his Platonic studies,1 which, he discovered, as Plato himself did, could not be realized by anything human. "In Cicero and Plato and other such writers," he says, "I meet with many things acutely said, and things that awaken some fervor and desire, but in none of them do I find the words, ' Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'"2 In his Confessions, he speaks of the broad prospect opened before him by the Platonic writings, but of their utter insufiiciency to empower the mind to reach the region thus displayed,—of the immortal longing united with the eternal hopelessness. "For it is one thing,"—he says, in that deep-toned eloquence of his, which so often stirs the depths of our being like a choral anthem,—" for it is one thing, from the mountain's shaggy top to see the land of peace and find no way thither; and in vain to strive towards it, in ways beset by fugitives and deserters, and opposed by their captain, the lion and the dragon; and another thing, to keep on the way thither, guarded by the hosts of the heavenly general These things did wonderfully sink into my soul, while I read the least of thy apostles, and

1 w

'The Artemonites busied them- systems of philosophy; the Pla

selves a good deal with mathe- tonic being employed to defend

matics, dialectics, and criticism; the doctrine of Christ's divinity,

with the philosophy of Aristotle, while the opposite direction of

and with Theophrastns mind, tending to combat that doc

We perceive here the different trine, leaned to the side of Arte

kinds of influence exerted by the monism." Neander I. 681.

1 ITe read Plato in a Latin trans- philosopher, but not that of the

lation. Confessions VII. ix. incarnate Logos; the doctrine that

'Augustine (Confessions, VII. God is the light of the mind, en

ix) discriminates very clearly be- lightening every man that com

tween the teachings of Plato and eth into the world (John i. 9),

those of revelation. He finds the but not that God in the flesh died

doctrine of the Logos in the Greek for the ungodly.

meditated upon thy word, and trembled exceedingly." »

The influence of Platonism is also very apparent in the scientific, as well as practical theology of the Polemic period. The anthropological views called out in the controversy between Augustine and Pelagius exhibit unmistakable signs of the prevalence of this system. The Augustinian view of the origin and nature of sin is closely connected with the Platonic view of the nature and endowments of the human soul. The doctrine of innate ideas harmonizes with that of innate depravity. In the other great controversy of this period,—that respecting the Trinity,—those theologians who exerted most influence in forming, and establishing the final creed-statement, had been disciplined by the Greek intellectual methods. Athanasius, Basil, and the two Gregories, were themselves of Greek extraction, and their highly metaphysical intellects had been trained in Grecian schools. Athanasius was a reverent student of Origen, though by no means a servile recipient of all of Origen's opinions;

1 Confessions, VII. xxi. "To a Christian, as I had heard), had

Simplicianus then I went, the translated into Latin, he testified

spiritual father of Ambrose (a his joy that I had not fallen npon

bishop now), and whom Am- the writings of other philosophers,

brose truly loved as a father. To full of fallacies and deceits af

him I related the mazes of my ter the rudiments of this world,

wanderings. But when I men- whereas the Platonists many

tioned that I had read certain ways lead to the belief in God,

books of the Platonists, whioh and His Word." Confessions,

Victorinus, sometime rhetoric VIII. ii. professor at Rome (who had died

and Basil, Gregory Nyssa, and Gregory Nazianzen, were thoroughly versed in classical antiquity. Such a discipline as this would naturally introduce these leading minds of the 4th century, to the philosophy of Plato, whose influence was felt through the whole Hellenic culture of the period.

But as we pass along in this Polemic age, we find that, although the same general estimate is put upon Platonism, as during the Apologetic period, yet the theological mind is forced to employ, and does imperceptibly employ, more and more of the logic and dialectics of Aristotle's system.1 In constructing the doctrine of the Trinity and the Person of Christ, the mind of an Athanasius is compelled to an analysis, distinction, limitation, and definition, which has perhaps even more affinity with the dialectic spirit and method of Aristotle, than with that of Plato. Let us look a moment, for illustration, at a statement of the doctrine of the trinity ascribed to Athanasius, but which probably proceeded from the school of Augustine,—commonly called the Symbolum Quteumque. A few positions taken from it will suffice to show that the theological mind, in drawing up a form of doctrine that should contain all the Scripture elements, was forced to employ that niceness of discrimination, and sharpness of distinction, which is so characteristic of the Aristotelian system. "This is the catholic faith: that we worship one God in a trinity, and a trinity in a unity. Neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance." Here the logical conceptions of "confusion" and "division" are carefully distinguished. "The person of the Father is one; the person of the Son is one; the person of the Holy Spirit is one." Here, the conception of "person" is discriminated from that of "nature," or "essence," by the affirmation that there are three persons. "But of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the divinity is one, the glory equal, the majesty equal. Such as is the Father, is the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, the Spirit is uncreated. The Father is infinite, the Son is infinite, the Spirit is infinite. The Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, the Holy Spirit is eternal." Here the notion of "equality" in the persons is enunciated. "And yet there are not three eternal beings, but one eternal being; there are not three uncreated, nor three infinite beings, but one uncreated and one infinite being? Here, the conception of "being" or "essence" is discriminated again from that of " person," by the affirmation that there is but one being.

'Dans la primitive Eglise, les par les decisions des ConcilesG6n

plns habiles Auteurs Chretiens eraux, qui fournissoient des For

B'accommodoient des pensees des mulaires precis et positifs. Leir

Platoniciens, qui leur revenoient Nitz: Theodicee, Ed. Erdmann,

le plus, et qui etoient le plus en p. 481. The heretical mind, in

vogue alors. Pen u pen Aristote this period, also made use of the

prit la place de Platon, lorsque le Aristotelian logic. Aetius, the

go<lt des Systemes commenca a Arian, employed the categories of

regner, et lorsque la Theologie Aristotle in defending his views.

meme devint plus syslematique Sooratrs: Eccl. Hist. II. xxzv.

No one can look, for a moment, at these statements involving such logical conceptions as "confusion," "division," "essence," "person," etc., or can follow the course of the controversy with Sabellianism on the one side, and Arianism on the other, without perceiving that although the theological mind had not derived this subtlety from the study of Aristotle in any very formal manner, it had nevertheless felt the influence of that close and powerful method which is to be seen in the more dialectic dialogues of Plato, and which was carried to a still greater energy of abstraction, and power of analysis, in the writings of his successor.1

In this manner, we think, the combined system of Platonico-Aristotelianism may be said to have been the dominant one in this Polemic period, when the scientific statements of Scripture truth were forming. "We do not, indeed, find that the entire works of Aristotle were translated, commented upon, and taught by distinguished men in the church, during this period, as we shall in the next. So far as a text book was concerned, Plato was still the great philosophical authority. Nevertheless, the writings of Aristotle were beginning to attract the attention of students,8 and the dim beginnings of that formal Aristotelianism which reaches its height of influence in the Scholastic age, may be traced in all the more acute and subtle workings of the theological mind in this controversial period.

'We do not hesitate to affirm, 'Bobthius, in the 5th century, that the four Orations of Athana- translated a part of the Organon. sius against the Arians contain a Oassiodorus, in the 6th century, dialectics as sharp and penetra- made a sketch of the Aristoteting, and a metaphysics as tran- Han logic. Augustine, passing in scendental as anything in Aristo- review his early studies, and contie or Ilegel. trasting the meagreness and insufficiency of human knowledge with the fulness and sufficiency of revelation, remarks (Confessions, IV. xvi): "What did it profit me, that scarce twenty years old, a book of Aristotle called the ten Predicaments, falling into my hands (on whose very name I hung, as on something great and divine, so my rhetoric master at Carthage, and others accounted learned, often mouthed it with cheeks bursting with pride), I read and understood it unaided?" The knowledge of Aristotle's writings, however, was confined to his logical treatises. His Morals, his Metaphysics, his Physios and his Natural History, were not read in the church until the Scholastic age.