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was after all more of a statesman and religious politician, than a voluminous or profound divine. He who undertakes to read Aug. ustine must gird himself for the work. With an energy, terrible to his adversaries, and with keen dialectics, he goes thoroughly and at great length into the subject to be discussed. His works have taxed the intellectual powers of all subsequent ages.
Nothing of this kind do we find in Leo. His discussions are all short. He relied more on authority than on argument. Standing as he conceived in the place of supreme arbiter among Christians, he rather propounded doctrines as the head of the church, than sustained them with a long and acute logical process. Even his celebrated letter to Flavianus, on the person of Christ, occupies but little more than two pages of the Venice edition of his works in folio 1748. At the close of his epistles, there is indeed a treatise of three pages and a half, against the errors of Eutyches and other heretics. But in this the essential parts of the letter to Flavianus are introduced verbatim, whilst other considerations are added. This letter then must be considered as his main theological treatise, and when we consider its brevity, it has certainly gained an unusual celebrity. Of it Neander says, that “it constitutes an epoch in the history of the doctrines of faith.” This however is certainly not owing so much to its argumentative ability, as to the fact that Leo had influence enough with the emperor, to secure its adoption as the rule of faith by the Council of Chalcedon. But considering the influence exerted by it on the world, it deserves to be translated and illustrated with notes.
The sermons of Leo, which have been preserved, were delivered by him before the Roman people, on the leading religious festivals and fasts of the year.
They are not as with us based on a text of Scripture. They are rather short addresses, the delivery of which would occupy from five to twenty minutes.
No plan of discussion is ever announced, but he introduces freely whatever topics, doctrinal, practical, or hortatory, he considers congruous with the occasion. With our standard of sermonizing few
if any of them would be regarded as powerful performances, and yet the majestic person of Leo and his accomplishments as a speaker, may have invested them with deep interest to the Romans. Indeed there is something impressive even to us in the thought that we are reading sermons, delivered to the people of that proud city, once the centre of that iron empire that bruised and broke in pieces the whole earth, and in the midst of the undestroyed monuments of her ancient glory, whilst yet she stood upon the very verge of her final and irrevocable fall. The slavery of her people and even the death of her language, were near at hand, when the classic elegance of Leo shed a transient splendor over her last hours. He died but fiften years before her fall.
But interesting as are the sermons of Leo, his letters are the
most valuable part of his works. In these we see the man fully developed, and read the history of his eventful life. We are not however to look for anything like the correspondence of Cicero or of Cowper in them. They are rather the diplomatic correspondence of one who assumed to himself the prerogatives of the earthly head of the church, the defender of faith and order, and the spiritual adviser and counsellor of emperors and kings. Such too was his influence, that he was consulted and courted, even by those who did not concede the validity of his claims. Hence his letters are filled with theological discussions, responses to questions concerning cases of conscience, decisions as to the discipline, festivals and order of the church, denunciations of such councils or canons as he does not approve, and the earnest advocacy of such as he sees fit to regard as sound and orthodox.
It seems to be admitted on all sides that his style is uncommonly finished and rhetorical, and that his Latinity is unusually pure for the age. But the Roman Catholic author of his life prefixed to his works, exalts him beyond all bounds. He calls him ihe Christian Demosthenes, the ecclesiastical Cicero, the Homer of theology, the Aristotle of divine philosophy, the Peter of the pontifical throne, and the Paul of the sacred desk. But pope Nicholas the first, a man in the image of Leo, sets forth his doctrinal services to the church in the following lofty style. “In the Ephesinian synod of robbers, all the bishops and even the patriarchs fell from the faith. Then unless Leo the Great, following in the steps of him concerning whom it is said the Lion (Leo) of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed,' divinely inspired had uttered his voice, shaken emperors, and the world, and turned them back to piety, the religion of Christ had utterly perished."
Such is Leo to the Romanists. We dissent of course from their extravagance; nor can we regard him as in any sense the head of the church, yet no one can study his life and works, and not feel that he was one of the few men of power who mark and control the age in which they live. His position also and relations were such that his life and times cannot be thoroughly studied without great interest and permanent benefit. As the despotism that he helped to found is fast drawing near to its close, it cannot be without both interest and profit to study the manner in which its foundations were laid. As the doctrine of the incarnate nature and character of Christ is exciting new interest, a careful study of the earliest controversies on the subject cannot but richly reward the diligent student.
To what extent God overruled for good the existence of the centralizing and organizing power of the church of Rome, during the ages of ignorance, brutalism and general social dissolution that followed the downfall of the Western empire, our present limits will not permit us to inquire. Whatever the truth may be, Leo contributed largely to whatever good or evil has flowed to the world from that tremendous ecclesiastical corporation.
To her system of pious fraud, and her unexampled and bloody persecutions even Guizot ascribes no good influence. In these respects therefore tremendous evils, unmixed with good, can be directly traced to Leo.
On the whole his efforts to vindicate the true doctrine of the incarnation of Christ, may be justly regarded as of all his acts least injurious in his own age, and as most permanently beneficial to the interests of mankind.
THE PROVINCE OF PHILOSOPHY IN THE INTERPRETATION OF
By Rev. Mason GROSVENOR, Springfield, Mass.
In a review of Prof. Finney's Systematic Theology in a recent number of one of our leading Theological Reviews', this subject is discussed at considerable length. Dissenting from the views therein expressed, and believing ihat the subject is intimately related to sound theology, we venture on some remarks in regard to it. This writer censures Mr. Finney for giving philosophy the lead in his investigations. He thinks that in so doing he greatly disregards the authority of the Bible. We are not disposed to deny that Mr. F's. assertions in regard to the validity of the deductions of reason, and, perhaps his confidence in them are open to censure. Our remarks however will have no reference to the errors of Mr. Finney, but to the opinions of the reviewer upon Philosophy as it stands related to Revelation. His opinion is that the doctrines and facts of the Bible must first be learned without allowing our philosophy to influence or control this investigation. He says (p. 240 ;) “ The true and Christian method is to begin with the doctrines (that is of the Bible) and let them determine our philosophy, and not to begin with our philosophy and allow it to give law to the doctrines.” And in accordance with this principle he re. marks (p. 242;) “And we confess that when we see a system of theology beginning with moral government we take it for granted that the Bible is to be allowed only a very humble part in its construction.” From these remarks and others which might be quoted, it is evident that the reviewer supposes that the true principles of interpreting the Bible do not require any previous correct philosophical views of the things of which it treats,—that a man can
· Biblical Repertory, Princeton, April, 1847.
a rive at a full understanding of revealed truth, let his philosophy be what it may, or whether he has any or not. For, howerer destitute he may be of philosophy or erroneous in his philosophical views, he must not begin with philosophy to obtain correct views in theology. The only "true and Christian method is to begin with the doctrines of "Revelation,” for they are so plainly stated that he will be likely to understand them whatever may be his philosophy. And if, in the progress of his inquiries, the doctrines of the Bible, thus interpreted, conflict with the philosophical conclusions to which his own understanding would lead him and he anticipates they may) then the former must be assumed to be true and as he says “must determine our philosophy.” Or as he says (p. 241,) such a man“ will be constrained to make his philosophy agree with his theology.” And thus the conclusions of philosophy must be forced to yield; not because they are proved to be false ; but simply because they conflict with his interpretation of the doctrines of the Bible. The opposite method requires that every search after revealed truth should begin with an accurate knowledge, so far as practicable, of those elementary things treated in the Bible and be modified and controlled by it, which is true philoso. phy. Thus the conclusions on both these fields of investigation, when legitimately obtained will be harinonious. We shall offer some reasons for the correctness of the latter method and for the incorrectness of the former.
Our first reason for adopting this method is, that Natare is an elementary book of truth, written by the hand of God. Many persons seem to regard philosophy as some profane work, necessarily opposed to God and to revealed truth; as if it originated with devils, or with men made like them, which if a man reads or studies at all, he must be erroneous on all Divine and sacred subjects, if not corrupt in character. We are fully aware that there are, and have been systems, called philosophical systems, which are dangerous, full of error, opposed to God and to truth; and which if they did not originate with devils, originated with men of near kindred to them. But what have these false systems to do with true Christian philosophy? Is all philosophy necessarily erroneous and dangerous because they are? The reviewer's objections are not directed against the false and heathenish systeins, but against true philosophy studied by a Christian theologian as necessary to a full and correct investigation of revealed truth. As such it is the study of Nature-this elementary work of God -no less a book of truth than revelation itself. Nature is only the substantial forms of idealities. Here the ideals which eternally existed in the mind of the Deity are put into actual existence, so that they can be cognized as having reality. Nature is thus the embodiment of truth written by the finger of God for man to study. There are no things in the Bible. It is a description of things by the use of the signs of ideas; ideas of a particular class, and of a particular combination of them. No revelation therefore could be given until abstract ideas had received distinct forms in actual existences, and the beings to whom it was to be made had become somewhat familiar with these forms, and learned to designate them by language. These ideas, of which the words in the Bible are the signs, either simple or complex, are the elements of which the Bible is composed, and which are combined in its doctrines and duties. And these elementary ideas are all first found written in the book of Nature, in substantial existences. Nature is therefore the more ancient work of God than Revelation, and is elementary to it. From this older book then must all the elementary ideas of the Bible be first learned. This learning is Philosophy. The lesson superficially learned is a superficial philosophy; erroneously learned, it is a false philosophy ; but correctly learned, it is a true and dirine philosophy. And the teachings of this book, thus correctly obtained, can never conflict with truth writ. ten in the book of Revelation. Indeed, how can the Bible be correctly interpreted and understood at all without a correct philosophy, a knowledge of this elementary book? The words of the Bible are mere signs of ideas. But ideas must have objective reality in things. If we have no knowledge of these things, we can have no ideas of them, and having no ideas of these things, we can attach none to the language of the Bible. It is to us an unmeaning book. And if our ideas of things are imperfect or erroneous, then necessarily our ideas of the teachings of the Bible must be also imperfect or erroneous. A lesson erroneously learned in this book of Nature—this elementary work of God on subjects involved in the teachings of the Bible—will as certainly mislead the interpreter, as erroneous teaching in the elements of mathematics will mislead the astronomer or the natural philosopher. Is that then an enlightened reverence for the Divine authority of the Bible, which holds a man back from carefully and prayerfully reading this elementary work of God, and plunges him, while ignorant of it, into those depths of revealed truth which he is unprepared to fathom, and then leads him to believe that his knowledge of Revelation, thus imperfectly obtained, is so unerring that it must control and determine all the teachings of philosophy ? This well nigh equals that popish reverence which cannot give the Bible to the common people lest their ignorance should pervert it. On the contrary, by our method of interpretation, we manifest the highest regard for the doctrines of the Bible, by approaching them in the only legitimate way of arriving at a thorough understanding of them; and when they are thus reached, a broad foundation is laid for them to rest securely upon, so that they will not be easily shaken.