The Catechetical Lectures
S. Cyril,
Archbishop of Jerusalem,

[4th Edition, Parker & Co. and Rivingtons, 1872]


{i} S. CYRIL, the author of the Catechetical Lectures which follow, was born in an age ill adapted for the comfort or satisfaction of persons distinguished by his peculiar character of mind, and in consequence did not receive that justice from contemporaries which the Church Catholic has since rendered to his memory. The Churches of Palestine, apparently his native country, were the first to give reception to Arius on his expulsion from Alexandria, and without adopting his heresy, affected to mediate and hold the balance between him and his accusers. They were followed in this line of conduct by the provinces of Syria and Asia Minor, till the whole of the East, as far as it was Grecian, became more or less a large party, enduring to be headed by men who went the whole length of Arianism, from a fear of being considered Alexandrians or Athanasians, and a notion, for one reason or other, that it was thus pursuing a moderate course, and avoiding extremes. What were the motives which led to this perverted view of its duty to Catholic truths then so seriously endangered, and what the palliations in the case of individuals, need not be minutely considered here. Suffice it to say, that between the Churches of Asia and the metropolis of Egypt there had been distinctions, not to say differences and jealousies of long standing; to which was added this great and real difficulty, that a Council held at Antioch about sixty years before had condemned the very term, Homoüsion, which was the symbol received at Nicæa, and maintained by the Alexandrians. The latter were in close agreement with the {ii} Latin Church, especially with Rome; and thus two great confederacies, as they may be called, were matured at this distressing era, which outlived the controversy forming them, the Roman, including the West and Egypt, and the Asiatic, extending from Constantinople to Jerusalem. Of the Roman party, viewed at and after the Arian period, were Alexander, Athanasius, Eustathius, Marcellus, Julius, Ambrose, and Jerome; of the Asiatic, Eusebius of Cæsarea, Cyril, Meletius, Eusebius of Samosata, Basil of Cæsarea (the Great), Basil of Ancyra, Eustathius of Sebaste, and Flavian. Of the latter, some were Semi-arian; of the former, one at least was Sabellian; while the majority of both were, to say the least, strictly orthodox; some of the latter indeed acquiescing with more or less of cordiality in the expediency of adopting the important Symbol of the Nicene Council, but others, it need scarcely be said, on both sides, being pillars of the Church in their day, as they have been her lights since. Such was the general position of the Church; and it is only confessing that the early Bishops and Divines were men "of like passions with" ourselves, to add, that some of them sometimes misunderstood or were prejudiced against others, and have left on record reports, for the truth of which they trusted perhaps too much to their antecedent persuasions, or the representations of their own friends. When Arianism ceased to be supported by the civil power, the controversy between East and West died; and peace was easily effected. And the terms of effecting it were these:—the reception of the Homoüsion by the Asiatics, and on that reception their recognition, in spite of their past scruples, by the Alexandrians and Latins. In this sketch the main outlines of S. Cyril's history will be found to be contained; he seems to have been afraid of the term Homoüsion [Note 1], to have been disinclined both to the friends of Athanasius and to the Arians [Note 2], to have allowed the tyranny of the latter, to have shared in the general reconciliation, and at length both in life and death to have received honours from the {iii} Church, which, in spite of whatever objections may be made to them, appear, on a closer examination of his history, not to be undeserved.

CYRIL is said to have been the son of Christian parents, but the date and place of his birth is unknown. He was born in the first years of the fourth century, and at least was brought up in Jerusalem. He was ordained Deacon probably by Macarius, and Priest by Maximus, the Bishops of Jerusalem; the latter of whom he succeeded A.D. 349, or 350. Shortly before this, (A.D. 347, or 348,) during his Priesthood, he had delivered the Catechetical Lectures which have come down to us. With his Episcopate commence the historical difficulties under which his memory labours. It can scarcely be doubted that one of his consecrators was Acacius of Cæsarea [Note 3], the leader of Arianism in the East, who had just before (A.D. 347) been deposed by the Council of Sardica; yet, as the after history shows, Cyril was no friend of the Arians or of Acacius [Note 4]. He was canonically consecrated by the Bishops of his province, and as Acacius was still in possession of the principal see, he was compelled to a recognition which he might have wished to dispense with. He seems to have been a lover of peace; the Council of Sardica was at first as little acknowledged by his own party as by the Arians; and Acacius, being even beyond other Arians skilful and subtle in argument, and admitting the special formula [Note 5] of Cyril on the doctrine in controversy, probably succeeded in disguising his heresy from him.

A more painful account, however, of his consecration is given by S. Jerome [Note 6], supported in the main by other writers, which can only be explained by supposing that Father to be misled by the information or involved in the prejudices of Cyril's enemies. He relates, that upon Maximus's death, the {iv} Arians seized upon the Church of Jerusalem, and promised Cyril the see on condition of his renouncing the ordination he had received from Maximus, and submitting to re-ordination from their hands; that he assented, served in the Church as a mere Deacon, and was then raised by Acacius to the Episcopate, when he persecuted Heraclius, whom Maximus had consecrated as his successor. This account, incredible in itself, is contradicted, on the one hand, by the second General Council, which in its Synodal letter plainly states that he had been "canonically ordained" Bishop, and on the other by his own writings, which as plainly show, that in doctrine he was in no respect an Arian or an Arianizer.

If he suffers in memory from the Latin party as if Arian, he suffered not less in his life from the Arians as being orthodox. Seven or eight years after his consecration, he had a dispute with Acacius about the rights of their respective Churches [Note 7]. Acacius in consequence accused him to the Emperor Constantius of holding with the orthodox; to which it was added that he had during a scarcity sold some offerings made by Constantine to his Church, to supply the wants of the poor. Cyril in consequence was deposed, and retired to Tarsus [Note 8]; where, in spite of the efforts of Acacius, he was hospitably received, and employed by Silvanus the Semi-arian Bishop of the place. We find him at the same time in friendship with Eustathius of Sebaste and Basil of Ancyra, both Semi-arians [Note 9]. His own writings, however, as has already been intimated, are most exactly orthodox, though he does not in the Catechetical Lectures, use the word Homoüsion; and in associating with these men he went little farther than S. Hilary [Note 10], during his banishment in Asia Minor, who calls Basil and Eustathius "most holy men," than S. Athanasius, who acknowledges as "brethren" those who but scrupled at the word Homoüsion [Note 11], {v} or than S. Basil of Cæsarea, who till a late period of his life was an intimate friend of Eustathius.

In A.D. 359, two years after his deposition, he successfully appealed against Acacius to the Council of Seleucia [Note 12], one of the two branches of the great Council of East and West, which was convened under the patronage of Constantius to settle the troubles of the Christian world. But the next year, Acacius contriving to bring the matter before a Council at Constantinople, where the Emperor was staying, Cyril with his friends was a second time deposed, and banished from Palestine [Note 13].

On Constantius's death all the banished bishops were restored [Note 14], and Cyril, who was at that time with Meletius of Antioch, returned to Jerusalem, A.D. 362. He was there at the time of Julian's attempt to rebuild the Temple [Note 15], and from the Prophecies boldly foretold its failure.

He was once more driven from his see, during the reign of the Arian Valens [Note 16], (A.D. 367,) and he remained dispossessed till A.D. 378.

About the time of the death of Valens, the last of the Arian princes, he was restored, but under what circumstances is unknown. The Arians fell once for all with their imperial protectors; and soon after, that union of Christian Churches took place, which would never have been interrupted, had not a few bold and subtle-minded men contrived to delude them into the belief of mutual differences. S. Athanasius, the great peace-maker of the Church, was gone to his rest; and S. Basil also, who had mourned over evils which he had no means of remedying. Gregory of Nyssa, the brother of the latter, Gregory of Nazianzum, Meletius of Antioch, remained; and were present together with Cyril in the second General Council [Note 17], which formally restored the latter to his see, and in {vi} its letter to the Western Bishops speaks of him as "the most reverend and religious Cyril, long since canonically appointed by the Bishops of the province, and in many ways and places a withstander of the Arians [Note 18]." He died about the year 386. Except one or two short compositions and fragments, nothing remains of his writings but his Catechetical Lectures.

No ecclesiastical writer could be selected more suitable to illustrate the main principle on which the present "Library of the Fathers" has been undertaken, than S. Cyril of Jerusalem. His Catechetical Lectures were delivered, as we have seen, when he was a young man; and he belonged, till many years after their delivery, to a party or school of theology, distinct, to say the least, from that to which the most illustrious divines of his day belonged; a school, never dominant in the Church, and expiring with his age. It is not then on the score of especial personal authority that his Lectures are now presented to the English reader; and if the simple object of this Publication were to introduce the latter to the wise and good of former times, S. Cyril would have no claims to a place in it beyond many who have lived since.

In saying this, it is far indeed from being asserted, that the personal claims of the Fathers of the Church on our deference are inconsiderable; for it happens, not unnaturally, that the works which have been preserved, were worth preserving, or rather that their writers would have been extraordinary men in any age, and speak with the weight of great experience, ability, and sanctity. To those who believe that moral truth is not gained by the mere exercise of the intellect, but is granted to moral attainments, and that God speaks to inquirers after truth by the mouth of those who possess these, the writings of S. Basil or S. Augustine must always have an authority independent of their date or their agreement; nor is it possible for serious persons to read them, without feeling the authority which they possess as individuals. This, however, {vii} whatever it be, is not the main subject to which the present Translations propose to direct attention. The works to be translated have been viewed simply and plainly in the light of witnesses to an historical fact, viz. the religion which the Apostles transmitted to the early Churches, a fact to be ascertained as other past facts, by testimony, requiring the same kind of evidence, moral not demonstrative, open to the same difficulties of proof, and to be determined by the same practical judgment. It seems hardly conceivable that a fact so public and so great as the religion of the first Christians should be incapable of ascertainment, at least in its outlines, that it should have so passed away like a dream, that the most opposite opinions may at this day be maintained about it without possibility of contradiction. If it was soon corrupted or extinguished, then it is obvious to inquire after the history of such corruption or extinction; such a revolution every where, without historical record, being as unaccountable as the disappearance of the original religion for which it is brought to account. At first sight there is, to say the least, a considerable antecedent improbability in the notion, that, whereas we know the tenets and the history of the Stoic or the Academic philosophy, yet we do not know the main tenets, nor yet the fundamental principles, nor even the spirit and temper of Apostolic Christianity.

Under a sense of this improbability, in other words with an expectation that historical research would supply what they sought, our Divines at and since the Reformation have betaken themselves to the extant documents of the early Church, in order to determine thereby what the system of Primitive Christianity was; and so to elicit from Scripture more completely and accurately that revealed truth, which, though revealed there, is not on its surface, but needs to be deduced and developed from it. They went to the Fathers for information concerning matters, on which the Fathers at first sight certainly do promise to give information, just as inquirers into any other branch of knowledge might study {viii} those authors who have treated of it; and, whether or not they found what they sought, it surely was reasonable so to seek it, and cannot be condemned except by the event,—that is, by showing that their expectation, however reasonable antecedently, is mistaken in fact, that after the search into history, no evidence is forthcoming concerning the tenets, nor yet the principles, nor even the temper which the Apostles inculcated.

A like expectation has actuated the present Publication; it has been conceived probable, to say the least, that the study of the writings of the Fathers will enable us to determine morally, to make up our minds for practical purposes, what the doctrines of the Apostles were, for instance whether or not they believed in our Lord's Divinity, or the general necessity of Baptism for salvation;—or if not the doctrines, still what were their principles, as whether or not or how far they allowed of using secular means for advancing Christian truth, or whether or not they sanctioned the monarchical principle, or again the centralizing principle, or again the principle of perpetuity in Church matters, or whether they considered that Scripture should be interpreted in the mere letter, or what is called spiritually;—or at least what was their temper, for instance, whether or not it was what is now called in reproach superstitious, or whether or not exclusive, or whether or not opposed to display and excitement. On some or other of these points there are surely grounds for expecting information from the Fathers, sufficient for our practice, and therefore having claims upon it.

Recourse then being had to the writings of the Fathers, in order to obtain information as to this historical fact, viz. the doctrines, the principles, and the religious temper of Apostolical Christianity, so far we have little to do with the personal endowments of the Fathers, except as these bear on the question of their fidelity. Their being men of strictest lives and most surpassing holiness, would not prove that they knew what it was the Apostles taught; and, were they but {ix} ordinary men, this need not incapacitate them from being faithful witnesses and serviceable informants, if they were in a position to be such. We should have only to take into account, and weigh against each other, their qualifications and disqualifications, for being evidence to a fact; we should have to balance honesty against prejudice, education against party influence, early attachments against reason, and so on. Thus we should treat them, taken one by one; but even this sort of personal scrutiny will be practically superseded, when we consult them, not separately, but as our Reformed Church ever has done, together; and demand their unanimous testimony to any point of doctrine or discipline, before we make any serious use of them: for it stands to reason, that, where they agree, the peculiarities of their respective nations, education, history, and period, instead of suggesting an indefinite suspicion against the subject-matter of their testimony, does but increase the evidence of its truth. Their testimony becomes the concurrence of many independent witnesses in behalf of the same facts; and, if it is to be slighted or disparaged, one does not see what knowledge of the past remains to us, or what matter for the historian. Viewing S. Cyril, for instance, as one of a body who bears a concordant evidence to the historical fact, that the Apostles taught that Christ is God [Note 19], or that Baptism is the remedy of original sin [Note 20], or that celibacy is not imperative on the clergy [Note 21], whether he was Asiatic or African, of the Roman or the Oriental party, as little matters, as when we consider him as one of a company bearing witness to the historical fact, that the Apostles and their associates wrote the New Testament. Indeed, as the matter stands, there is something very remarkable and even startling to the reader of S. Cyril, to find in a divine of his school such a perfect agreement, for instance as regards the doctrine of the Trinity, with those Fathers who in his age were more famous as champions of it. Here is a writer, separated by {x} whatever cause from what, speaking historically, may be called the Athanasian School, suspicious of its adherents, and suspected by them; yet he, when he comes to explain himself [Note 22], expresses precisely the same doctrine as that of Athanasius or Gregory, while he merely abstains from the particular theological term in which the latter Fathers agreeably to the Nicene Council conveyed it. Can we have a clearer proof that the difference of opinion between them was not one of ecclesiastical and traditionary doctrine, but of practical judgment? that the Fathers at Nicæa wisely considered that, under the circumstances, the word in question was the only symbol which would secure the Church against the insidious heresy which was assailing it, while S. Cyril [Note 23], with Eusebius of Cæsarea, Meletius, and others, shrunk from it, at least for a while, as if an addition to the Creed, or a word already taken into the service of an opposite heresy [Note 24], and likely to introduce into the Church heretical notions? Their judgment, which was erroneous, was their own; their faith was not theirs only, but shared with them by the whole Christian world.

At the same time it must be granted, that this view of the Fathers as witnesses to Apostolic truth not individually but collectively, clear and unanswerable as it is, considered as a view, is open to some great practical inconveniences, when acted on in such an undertaking as that in which the present Editors are engaged. For since, by the supposition, no one of the Fathers is necessarily right in all his doctrine, taken by himself, but may be erroneous in secondary points, each taken by himself is in danger, by his own peculiarities, on the one hand of throwing discredit on all together, on the other of perplexing those who by means of the Fathers are inquiring after Catholic truth. And whereas in any publication of this nature, they cannot appear all at once, but first one and then {xi} another, and at all events cannot be read altogether, it follows that, during their gradual perusal, unavoidable prejudice will often attach to the Fathers, and to the Catholic Faith, and to those who are enforcing the latter by means of the former. And thus Editors of the Fathers are pretty much in the condition of Architects, who lie under the disadvantage, from which Painters and Sculptors are exempt, of having their work exposed to public criticism through every stage of its execution, and being expected to provide symmetry and congruity in its parts independent of the whole.

Such are the circumstances in which we find ourselves, open to remark for every opinion, every sentence, every phrase, of every Father, before its meaning, relevancy, importance, or bearings are ascertained; before it is known whether it will be, as it were, obliterated by others, or completed, or explained, or modified, or unanimously witnessed. And since the evil is in the nature of the case itself, we can do no more than have patience, and recommend patience to others, and with the racer in the Tragedy look forward steadily and hopefully to the event,—[TOi TELEI pistin pheron],—when, as we trust, all that is inharmonious and anomalous in the details, will at length be practically smoothed. Meanwhile, as regards the condition of the reader himself, we consider that we shall sufficiently provide for his perplexity by reminding him of his duty to take his own Church for the present as his guide, and her decisions as a key and final arbiter, as regards the particular statements of the separate Fathers, which he may meet with; being fully confident, that her judgment which he begins by taking as a touchstone of each, will in the event be found to be really formed, as it ought to be, on a view of the testimony of all.

In expressing, however, these thoughts, it is obvious to anticipate an objection of another sort which is likely to be urged against our undertaking, to the effect that all these dangers and warnings are gratuitous, Scripture itself containing {xii} sufficient information concerning the doctrines, principles, and mind of the Apostles, without having recourse to the difficult and, as has been above confessed, the anxious task, whether ultimately successful or not, of collecting the object of our inquiry from the writings of the Fathers. This is not the place to treat of an objection, to which much attention has been drawn for several years past; yet thus much may be observed in passing:—If the sufficiency of Scripture for teaching as well as proving the Christian faith be maintained as a theological truth, the grounds in reason must be demanded, grounds such as are independent of that inquiry into history which it is brought forward to prohibit. If it is urged as a truth obvious in matter of fact, and practically certain, then its maintainers have to account for the actual disagreement among readers of Scripture as to what the faith, principles, and temper of the Apostles were. And if it be urged on the authority of the sixth Article of our Church, then they must be asked, why if this Article contained a reason against deferring to Antiquity, the Convocation of 1571, which imposed it, at the same time, as is well known, ordered all preachers to teach according to the Catholic Fathers, and why our most eminent Divines, beginning with the writers of the Homilies themselves, have ever pursued that very method.

Nothing can be more certain than that Scripture contains all necessary doctrine; yet nothing, it is presumed, can be more certain either, than that, practically speaking, it needs an interpreter; nothing more certain than that our Church and her Divines assign the witness of the early ages of Christianity concerning Apostolic doctrine, as that interpreter.

Without, however, entering into a question which our Church seems to have determined for us, a few words shall be devoted to the explanation of a verbal difficulty by which it is often perplexed. An objection is made, which, when analyzed, resolves itself into the following form. {xiii} "Either Antiquity does or does not teach something over and above Scripture: if it does, it adds to the inspired word;—if it does not, it is useless.—Does it then or does it not add to Scripture?" And, as if showing that the question is a perplexed one, of various writers who advocate the use of Antiquity, one may be found to speak of the writings of the Fathers as enabling us to ascertain and revive truths which have fallen into desuetude, while another may strenuously maintain, that they impart the knowledge of no new truths over and above what Scripture sets before us. Now, not to touch upon other points suggested by this question, it may be asked by way of explanation, whether the exposition of the true sense of any legal document, any statute or deed, which has been contested, is an addition to it or not? It is in point of words certainly; for if the words were the same, it would be no explanation; but it is no addition to the sense, for it professes to be neither more nor less than the very sense, which is expressed in one set of words in the original document, in another in the comment. In like manner, when our Saviour says, "I and My Father are One," and Antiquity interprets "One" to mean one in substance," this is an addition to the wording, but no addition to the sense. Of many possible means of interpreting a word, it cuts away all but one, or if it recognizes others, it reduces them to harmony and subordination to that one. Unless the Evangelist wished his readers to be allowed to put any conceivable sense upon the word, the power of doing so is no privilege; rather it is a privilege to know that very meaning, which to the exclusion of all others is the true meaning. Catholic Tradition professes to do for Scripture just which is desirable, whether it is possible or not, to relieve us from the chance of taking one or other of the many senses which are wrong or insufficient, instead of the one sense which is true and complete.

But again, every diligent reader of the Bible has a certain {xiv} idea in his own mind of what its teaching is, an idea which he cannot say is gained from this or that particular passage, but which he has gained from it as a whole, and which if he attempted to prove argumentatively, he might perplex himself or fall into inconsistencies, because he has never trained his mind in such logical processes; yet nevertheless he has in matter of fact a view of Scripture doctrine, and that gained from Scripture, and which, if he states it, he does not necessarily state in words of Scripture, and which, whether after all correct or not, is not incorrect merely because he does not express it in Scripture words, or because he cannot tell whence he got it, or logically refer it to, or prove it from, particular passages. One man is a Calvinist, another an Arminian, another a Latitudinarian; not logically merely, but from the impression gained from Scripture. Is the Latitudinarian necessarily adding to Scripture because he maintains the proposition, "religious opinions matter not, so that a man is sincere," a proposition not in terminis in Scripture? Surely he is unscriptural, not because he uses words not in Scripture, but because he thereby expresses ideas which are not expressed in Scripture. In answer then to the question, whether the Catholic system is an addition to Scripture, we reply, in one sense it is, in another it is not. It is not, inasmuch as it is not an addition to the range of independent ideas which Almighty God intended should be expressed and conveyed on the whole by the inspired text: it is an addition, inasmuch as it is in addition to their arrangement, and to the words containing them,—inasmuch as it stands as a conclusion contrasted with its premisses, inasmuch as it does that which every reader of the Scriptures does for himself, express and convey the ideas more explicitly and determinately than he finds them, and inasmuch as there may be difficulty in duly referring every part of the explicit doctrine to the various parts of Scripture which contain it. {xv}

Nothing here is intended beyond setting right an ambiguity of speech which both perplexes persons, and leads them to think that they differ from others, from whom they do not differ. No member of the English Church ever thought that the Church's creed was an addition to Scripture in any other sense than that in which an individual's own impression concerning the sense of Scripture is an addition to it; or ever referred to a supposed deposit of faith distinct from Scripture existing in the writings of the Fathers, in any other sense than in that in which asking a friend's opinion about the sense of Scripture, might be called imputing to him unscriptural opinions. The question of words then may easily be cleared up, though it often becomes a difficulty; the real subject in dispute, which is not here to be discussed, being this, how this one true sense of Scripture is to be learned, whether by philological criticism upon definite texts,—or by a promised superintendence of the Holy Ghost teaching the mind the true doctrines from Scripture, (whether by a general impression upon the mind, or by leading it, text by text piecemeal into doctrine by doctrine;)—or, on the other hand, by a blessing of the Spirit upon studying it in the right way, that is, in the way actually provided, in other words, according to the Church's interpretations. In all cases the text of Scripture and an exposition of it are supposed; in the one the exposition comes first and is brought to Scripture, in the other it is brought out after examination into Scripture; but you cannot help assigning some exposition or other, if you value the Bible at all. Those alone will be content to ascribe no sense to Scripture, who think it matters not whether it has any sense or not. As to the case of a difference eventually occurring in any instance of importance, between what an individual considers to be the sense of Scripture and that which he finds Antiquity to put upon it, the previous question must be asked, whether such difference is likely to arise. It will not arise in the case of the majority, nor in the case of serious, sensible, and humble minds; {xvi} and where men are not such, it will be but one out of many difficulties. A person however, thus circumstanced, whether from his own fault or not, is in a difficulty; difficulties are often our lot, and we must bear them, as we think God would have us. We can cut the knot by throwing off the authority of the Fathers; and we can remain under the burden of the difficulty by allowing that authority; but, however we act, we have no licence to please our taste or humour, but we act under a responsibility.

Two main respects have been mentioned, in which the concordant testimony of the Fathers may be considered to throw light upon the sense of Scripture: on these a few words are now necessary with a special reference to S. Cyril,—first as regards the doctrine of Scripture, next as regards the interpretation of texts. Now it will be found that they are more concordant as to the doctrines themselves contained in Scripture, than as to the passages in which these are contained and their respective force; and, again, that they are more concordant in their view of the principles upon which Scripture is to be interpreted, than in their application of these principles, and their view of the sense in consequence to be assigned to particular texts. This was to be expected, as may easily be made appear.

There seems to have been no Catholic exposition of Scripture, no traditionary comment upon its continuous text. The subject-matter of Catholic tradition, as preserved in the writings of the Fathers, is, not Scripture interpretation or proof, but certain doctrines, professing to be those of the Gospel: and since among these we find this, "that Scripture contains all the Gospel doctrines," we infer, that, according to the mind of the Fathers, those very doctrines which they declare to be the Christian faith are contained in and are to be proved from Scripture. But where they occur in Scripture cannot be ascertained from the Fathers, except so far as the accidental course of controversy has brought out their joint {xvii} witness concerning certain great passages, on which they do seem to have had traditionary information. The Arian and other heresies obliged them to appeal to Scripture in behalf of a certain cardinal doctrine which they held by uninterrupted tradition; and thus have been the means of pointing out to us particular texts in which are contained the great truths which were assailed. But while we are thus furnished with a portion of the Scripture proof of Catholic doctrine, guaranteed to us by the unanimous consent of the Church, it is natural also, under the circumstances above mentioned, that many of the discussions which occurred should contain appeals to Scripture of a less cogent character, and evidencing the exercise of mere private judgment upon the text in default of Catholic Tradition. The early Church had read Scripture not for argument but for edification; it is not wonderful that though holding the truth, and seeing it in the inspired text, and often seeing there what we fail to see, she should nevertheless be as little able to distribute exactly each portion of the truth to each of its places in the text, and to analyze the grounds of those impressions which the whole conveyed, as religious persons in the private walks of life may be now-a-days. Accordingly her divines, one by one, while they witness to the truth itself most sufficiently, as speaking from Tradition, yet often prove it insufficiently, as relying necessarily on private judgment.

For instance, the text, He that hath seen Me, hath seem the Father, is taken by S. Cyril, agreeably with other early writers, as a proof that Christ is in all things like ([homoios en pasin]) to the Father; (Lect. xi. 18.) and the text, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, as a proof of the necessity of Baptism. (Lect. iii. 4.) But though there are many of equal cogency, there are many also, about which there may be fairly difference of opinion, as when he interprets, Surely God is in thee (Isa. 45, 14) of the Indwelling of the Father in the Son. (Lect. xi. 16.) {xviii}

And, while it is not at all surprising even though the Fathers should occasionally adduce texts as proofs of certain doctrines which are not so, neither is it strange that they should overlook proofs which did exist, and which we are able to discern. For they were in the light of a recent Tradition; we are in the twilight of a distant age; and our minds, like eyes accustomed to the twilight, may discern much in the dark parts of Scripture, which were hid from them by their very privilege.

Such imperfections, however, in the Scripture proofs adduced by the Fathers, whether in excess or defect, do not interfere at all with their maintenance of the great principles that there is a Faith, and that it is in Scripture. As far as S. Cyril is concerned, the following passages witness both truths clearly. "This Seal," he says, speaking of the Creed, "have thou ever in mind; which now by way of summary has been touched on in its heads, and, if the Lord grant, shall hereafter be set forth according to our power with Scripture proofs. For concerning the divine and sacred mysteries of the Faith, we ought not to deliver even the most casual remark without the Holy Scriptures; nor be drawn aside by mere probabilities, and the artifices of argument. Do not then believe me because I tell you these things, unless thou receive from the Holy Scriptures the proof of what is set forth; for this salvation, which is of our faith, is not by ingenious reasonings, but by proof from the Holy Scriptures." (Lect. iv. 17.)

Again: "Take thou and hold that faith only as a learner and in profession, which is by the Church delivered to thee, and is established from all Scripture. For since all cannot read the Scripture, but some as being unlearned, others by business, are hindered from the knowledge of them, in order that the soul may not perish for lack of instruction, in the Articles which are few we comprehend the whole doctrine of the faith ... Commit to memory the Faith, merely listening to the words; and expect at the fitting season the proof of each {xix} of its parts from the Divine Scriptures. For the Articles of the Faith were not composed at the good pleasure of man; but the most important points chosen from all Scripture, make up the one teaching of the Faith. And as the mustard seed in a little grain contains many branches, thus also this Faith, in a few words, has enfolded in its bosom the whole knowledge of godliness contained both in the Old and New Testaments." (Lect. v. 12.) The doctrine, expressed in these and other passages of S. Cyril, is implied and assumed in a most striking way in a number of others [Note 25].

So much on the Scripture proof of doctrine as contained in the Fathers; as to the doctrinal sense of Scripture, the second point to be spoken of, what has been already observed is quite consistent, not to say connected with the remark to be made concerning it, viz. that the Fathers are far more concordant in assigning principles of Scripture interpretation, than in the interpretation of particular passages. Indeed the very view they took of the Bible led to variety, apparent discordance, and private conjecture in interpreting it. They considered it to be a sort of storehouse of sacred treasures [Note 26], contained under the letter in endless profusion, piled, as it were, one on another, with order indeed and by rule, but still often so deeply lodged within the text, that from ordinary eyes they were almost hidden [Note 27]. Hence it was considered as a duty and privilege proposed to the Christian, to find out the "wondrous things of God's law," and no meaning was so remote from the literal text as to be proved thereby to be foreign to it in the Divine intention. While then, according to their disposition or school of theology, they were led, more or less, to attempt to search into the deep mysteries of Scripture for themselves [Note 28], they felt little difficulty in multiplicity of interpretations, little fear of inconsistency. And while such a principle {xx} as has been described necessarily led them to diversity in their interpretations, that diversity does but increase our evidence of the fact of their one and all holding that principle; and thus, while their value as commentators varies with their personal qualifications, their adherence to that principle comes to us as a Catholic tradition.

Instances of individual, local, or transitory opinion, that is, of what would at present, rightly or wrongly, be called fancifulness and caprice, are frequent in S. Cyril's Lectures, and scarcely need specifying. Such, for example, is his interpreting, "Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn," of the Holy Sepulchre, (Lect. xiii. 35.) or "At evening time it shall be light," of the circumstances of the Crucifixion; (Lect. xiii. 24.) and much more his considering, "Thou hast wrought salvation in the midst of the earth," (Lect. xiii. 28.) to allude to Golgotha, and "the fountain sealed," to Christ in the sepulchre after the sealing of the stone. (Lect. xiv. 5.)

These interpretations, whether his own or not, and whether true or not, do not profess to be traditional, and are but witnesses, to the great principle from which they proceed, of the everliving intelligence, deep and varied meaning, and inexhaustible fulness of Holy Scripture. This indeed he himself declares in one place in words which may be suitably extracted. After giving two conjectures concerning the doctrinal meaning of the Blood and Water, which came from our Lord's side, viz. that it typifies the Jews' imprecation of His blood upon them and Pilate's washing his hands of it, or again the condemnation of the Jews and the baptismal pardon of Christians, he adds, "For nothing happened without a meaning, ([ouden eike gegonen].) Our fathers who have written comments, have given another reason of this matter. For since in the Gospel the power of salutary Baptism is two-fold, that bestowed by means of water on the Illuminated, and that to holy Martyrs in persecutions through their own blood, there came out of that salutary side blood and water," &c. (Lect. xiii. 21.) {xxi}

When then it is inquired, what information is given us by the Fathers, concerning Scripture or Catholic doctrine, we reply, that they rather declare doctrine and say that it is in Scripture, than prove it by Scripture, at once concordantly and in detail; and again, that they rather tell us how we must set about interpreting Scripture, than authoritatively interpret it for us. It is presumed that this is on the whole correct; true as it also is, that on a number of the most important points of doctrine they have preserved to us, with an unanimity which is an evidence of its Apostolic origin, the very texts in which they are contained. Still after all the Fathers are rather led to dwell on Scripture by itself, and on the doctrinal system by itself, as two distinct, parallel, and substantive sources of divine information, than to blend and almost identify the two, as a variety of circumstances has occasioned or obliged us to do at this day.

It would at first sight seem unnecessary to add to what has been said, any remark on mistakes or apparent mistakes committed by S. Cyril in matters of fact; but as this is often a ground of misconception, the subject shall be briefly noticed. For instance, as to his statement concerning the discovery of the True Cross [Note 29], he is to be treated as any other historical witness under the same circumstances, and the weight of his evidence, whatever it is, is to be balanced against the improbability of the fact recorded, whether antecedent, or arising from the silence concerning it of Eusebius and Constantine. Again, we may well allow that he was not a natural historian, without hurting his theological character. It is true that he believed in the existence of the Phœnix [Note 30], and argued from the analogy afforded by it in favour of the Resurrection. That is, he was philosophical on false grounds. And in like manner persons have proved, as they thought, the Noachical deluge from stones found on the top of hills, or have attributed it to the action {xxii} of a comet, or have believed or doubted the existence of the sea-serpent or the dodo, and never have been reckoned worse or better divines for either success of failure in such conjectures. It as little follows that a theologian must be an ornithologist, as that an ornithologist or a comparative anatomist must be a theologian; and as no one in this day would reckon ignorance of divinity as a bar to eminence and authority in scientific researches, so it betrays a poverty of argument to reproach S. Cyril, or Eusebius, or S. Clement before them, with not being proficients in a branch of knowledge which has been a peculiar study of modern times. They did not profess to be natural historians; let it be enough for this age to cultivate physical science itself, without molesting the Fathers with its new standards of intellectual superiority. Let it be enough for it to despise the province of theology, without seeking to remodel it. The Fathers did not profess the science on which it prides itself; nothing but inspiration could secure them from shewing ignorance concerning it; and no one pretends that S. Cyril or S. Clement were inspired.

It is only necessary to add with respect to the present Translation, that for almost the whole of it the Editors are indebted to Mr. CHURCH, Fellow of Oriel College. It has been made from the Benedictine Text compared with the Oxford Edition of Milles, the Benedictine Sections in the separate Lectures being marked by numbers at the beginning of the paragraphs, and the Oxford sections on the margin. The few notes which are introduced are almost confined to the elucidation of matter of fact, and have been kept clear as far as possible from the expression of opinions; in drawing them up, much use has been made of the valuable information contained in the Oxford and Benedictine Editions. Such words of S. Cyril as have a theological, controversial, or critical importance, are usually placed in the margin opposite {xxiii} their place in the Translation. The quotations from Scripture are given in the words of our received version, wherever the Greek of Cyril admitted of it; when otherwise, it has been signified in the margin.

J. H. N.
The Feast of St. Matthew
, 1838.

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1. v. Bened. note iv. 7. xvi. 23.
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2. Lect. iv. 8. xi. 12, 16, 17. xv. 9.
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3. v. Diss. Beded. P. xviii. sq.
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4. Theod. ii. 26.
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5. The [kata panta homoion]. Vid. Lecture iv. 7. xi. 4, 9, 18.
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6. Jer. Chron. Socr. ii. 38. Sozom. iv. 20.
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7. Socrat. ii. 40. Sozom. iv. 25. Theod. ii. 27.
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8. Theodor. ii. 26.
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9. Sozom. iv. 25. Philostorg. iv. 12.
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10. Hilar. de Synod. 77, 88. &c. v. fragm. II. 4. (Ed. Ben. Cyr. p. lx. D.)
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11. Athan. de Synod. 41.
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12. v. Dissert. 1. Ed. Bened. p. lvi. F.
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13. Sozom. iv. 25. Philostorg. iv. 12. v. 1.
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14. Sozom. v. 5.
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15. Socrat. iii. 20. Ruffin. i. 37.
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16. Sozom. iv. 30. Jerom. Script. Eccles. 112.
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17. Socrat. v. 8. Sozom. vii. 7. v. Dissert. Bened. p. lxxxii.
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18. Theod. Hist. v. 9.
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19. iv. 7, &c.
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20. Introd. 16. ii. 5. iii.4, 11. xii. 15.
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21. xii. 25.
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22. iv. 7. vi. 1. x. and xi. xii. 1.
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23. v. Hilar. Contr. Const. 3. 12. Athan. de Synod. 12. (ed. Bened. Cyr. lii. B.)
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24. vid. Bull. Defens. F. N. ii. 1.
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25. xi. 12. xii. 5. xiii. 8, 9. xiv. 2. xvi. 1, 2, 24.
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26. xi. 12.
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27. xii. 16. xiii. 14. ix. 13.
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28. iii. 16. vi. 28, 29. xii. 19.
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29. Lect. iv. 10. x. 19. xiii. 4.
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30. xviii. 8.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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