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whom they left behind, are anxious for their salvation, and assist them by their prayers, and their mediation with God.” He believed that the Logos united himself to a mortal, to form a medium between human souls and their Heavenly Father, and lead them back to intimate communion with Him. The souls of the good would become continually more and more perfect, through the revolution of ages; the bad, both among human beings and Evil Spirits, would gradually become purified, and all would at last be restored to order and happiness. The imperfections of Matter had obstructed the beneficent operations of Deity; but Matter itself would finally become refined into a better substance, and thus nothing would be left at discord with the Divine Nature. All Spirits would have intuitive communion with the Supreme, through the Logos, and all would know the Son, as perfectly as the Son knew the Father. This universal restoration seemed to him the unavoidable result of God's impartial justice and all pervading love. But, like the Buddhists, he believed that the will of Spirits would again deviate from the will of the Supreme; and as soon as one ceased to be absorbed in the All Perfect, and wished to be anything for himself, evil would germinate anew. A world would be again created, and mortal bodies prepared for the Spirits, who would again descend into them; there would be another process of progressive purification, which would again result in the perfect union of all things with the Supreme. This alternation from unity to manifoldness would go on for
During a visit to Palestine, Origen attracted great attention, and was invited by the bishops to preach at their assemblies. On his way to Cæsarea, he was consecrated to the office of presbyter, by an assemblage of bishops. This was the beginning of persecutions, which ever after troubled bis life. His own bishop at Alexandria, who is said to have been jealous of his great reputation, took offence at this proceeding. He maintained that he alone had a right to consecrate Origen. He recalled him, summoned two coun
cils to deprive him of his priestly office, banished him from his native city, and finally excommunicated him from the church. This sentence was confirmed at Rome, and by most of the other bishops. The nullification of his ordination is said to have been grounded more on points of ecclesiastical order, than on questions of doctrine. Origen returned to Cæsarea, where he was received with much favour by all the bishops in the surrounding regions. The high estimation in which he was held is shown by the fact that Synods of Bishops were accustomed to consult his opinion, when it was difficult to settle theological questions. He went to Arabia, by invitation of bishops in that province, to refute the bishop Beryllus, who affirmed that the divine nature of Christ did not exist before his human nature. Origen spoke so eloquently on the subject, that Beryllus was convinced, and sent him a letter of thanks. He was afterward summoned to a council held against certain sects, who maintained that the soul died as well as the body; and there also he reasoned with so much ability, that he brought them all over to his opinion. He visited Athens and Rome, where he obtained great celebrity by the learning and skill he displayed in the refutation of various systems of philosophy. Mamca, mother of the emperor Alex ander Severus, a woman of uncommon intellect, requested an interview with Origen, when she passed through Antioch. She received him with great respect, and had a long conversation on the subject of Christian doctrines. Though she was not converted by his arguments, it is not improbat ble that this conversation had considerable effect in próducing the liberal policy which her son pursued toward Christians.
The writings of Origen were exceedingly voluminous; most of them biblical criticisms. Nearly all of them are lost; having been committed to the flames, because some of his doctrines were not sanctioned by the sect that eventually became paramount in the church. The greatest labour of his diligent life was the collection of a great variety of ancient versions of the Old Testament, and the careful ing converts, and he was so celebrated for the miracles he performed, that he was universally called Gregory Thau. maturgus, the Wonder Worker.
A Life of Gregory Thaumaturgus was written about a century after his death, by Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa. It contains many strange legends, which remarkably illustrate the credulity of the times. A work which he wrote on the Trinity is much eulogized by his biographer. He says the Virgin Mary berself, accompanied by the Apostle John, appeared in a vision, and explained to him the mystery of godliness, which he wrote down in this short summary of faith, and left as a legacy to his church. He adds: “For excellency of divine grace, it may be compared with those tables of the Law made by God and delivered to Moses.” In the time of Gregory of Nyssa, this document was still preserved as a holy relic by the church at Neocæsarea; and they averred that it was in the author's handwriting. But the doctrine of the Trinity was then very hotly controverted, and some learned men say the manuscript had been much interpolated, to meet the exigencies of the time.
CYPRIAN.-One of the most celebrated of the early Fathers was Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage. He was educated in the old religion of Rome, and taught rhetoric with distinguished success. He was converted to Christianity in the year two hundred and forty-six, and became bishop two years after; in which office he maintained a high reputation for eloquence and virtue. His ideas concerning subordination in the churches were very strict; and, combined with the dignity of his demeanour, did more to exalt the claims of bishops, than had been done by any of his predecessors. He believed they were divinely appointed to guide mankind, and that it was impious for any one to dispute their authority in matters of faith. The church was then much troubled with schismatics, and he seems to have taken this ground from an earnest desire to preserve unity, rather than from personal ambition. It made him rigorous toward all whom he deemed heretics; but the bishops regarded him as a tower of strength, and he was greatly admired and beloved by his people, toward whom he discharged his pastoral duties in a conscientious and paternal manner.
Such a man was, of course, a conspicuous mark for persecution. He had always discountenanced rashness in incurring unnecessary danger, and, at the commencement of the Decian persecution, he prudently withdrew from the city, till the storm blew over. Extreme zealots blamed him for this, and accused him of setting a cowardly example; but the motives he assigns are such as would naturally actuate a man careful of the welfare of those over whom he presided. He says: “On the first commencement of the troubles, when the populace, with furious clamours, had frequently demanded my death, I retired for a while, not so much out of regard for my own safety, as for the public peace of the brethren ; lest the disturbance which had begun might be increased by my obstinate presence.” From his retreat, he wrote thus to his clergy: “I beg of you to use all prudence and care for the preservation of quiet. If our brethren, in their love, are anxious to visit those worthy Confessors, whom divine grace has al
. ready honoured by a glorious beginning, this must be done with caution, and not in crowds, lest suspicion should be excited, and our access to them wholly prohibited. Be careful then, that for the greater safety, this matter be managed with due moderation. Indeed, we must in all things, with meekness and humility, as becomes the servants of God, accommodate ourselves to the times, and seek for the preservation of peace, and the best good of the people.”
Soon after he returned to Carthage, a pestilence began to spread through the empire. Everybody was commanded to sacrifice to the gods, and those who refrained from so doing were again cruelly persecuted. Cyprian, being summoned before the tribunal, declared his determination to worship no other than the God of the Christians, "the true
and only God." He was accordingly banished to the city of Curubis, where he remained in exile eleven months. But though absent in the body, he kept up an active correspondence with the Christian churches, to whom he wrote as follows: "My dearest brethren, let no one be disturbed because our people are scattered by the fear of persecution; because he can no longer see the brethren together, nor hear the bishops preach. We, who may not shed the blood of others, but must be ready to pour out our own, cannot, at such a time, all meet together. Wherever it may happen that a brother is separated from the church a while, in body, not in spirit, by the necessity of the times, let him not be appalled by the solitude of the desert, where he may be obliged to take refuge. He who has Christ for a companion is not alone. If robbers, or wild beasts, fall upon the fugitive, if hunger or cold destroy him, if the stormy waves of the sea overwhelm him, still Christ is present to witness the conduct of his soldier, wheresoever he fights."
To those Christians who were imprisoned, or labouring in the mines, he sent money from the church treasury, and from his own income, accompanied with letters full of sympathy and affectionate encouragement.
" What triumph," says he, “when you can walk through the mines with imprisoned body, but with a heart conscious of mastery over itself! When you know that Christ is with you, rejoicing over the patience of his servants, who in his own footsteps, and by his own way, are entering into the eternal kingdom.”
When new governors were appointed, at the accession of Valerian, the banished bishops were recalled, and ordered to wait in retirement till the commands of the emperor decided their fate. Cyprian took up his residence at a secluded villa in the neighbourhood of Carthage, where he gave instruction and advice to such as could privately resort to him. Hearing that he was to be conveyed to Utica for trial, he yielded to the persuasions of friends, who urged him to hide himself for a time, till the governor, who was then absent, returned to Carthage; for being