Writings of Gregory of Nyssa. Select Writings and Letters

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Translated, with prolegomena, notes, and indices,

by William Moore, M.A., Rector of Appleton,
Late Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford;

and Henry Austin Wilson, M.A.,
Fellow and librarian of Magdalen College, Oxford.

Edited by Henry Wace,
Kings College, London, 6th November, 1892.

Editor's Preface.

These translations from the works of St. Gregory of Nyssa have involved unusual labour, which the Editor hopes will be accepted as a sufficient apology for the delay of the volume. The difficulty has been extreme of conveying with correctness in English the meaning of expressions and arguments which depend on some of the most subtle ideas of Greek philosophy and theology; and, in addition to the thanks due to the translators, the Editor must offer a special acknowledgment of the invaluable help he has received from the exact and philosophical scholarship of the Rev. J. H. Lupton, Surmaster of St. Paul's School. He must renew to Mr. Lupton, with increased earnestness, the expression of gratitude he had already had occasion to offer in issuing the Translation of St. Athanasius. From the careful and minute revision which the volume has thus undergone, the Editor ventures to entertain some hope that the writings of this important and interesting Father are in this volume introduced to the English reader in a manner which will enable him to obtain a fair conception of their meaning and value.

Henry Wace.

Kings College, London, 6th November, 1892.

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Select Writings and Letters of Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa

Translated, with prolegomena, notes, and indices,

by William Moore, M.A., Rector of Appleton,
Late Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford;

and Henry Austin Wilson, M.A.,
Fellow and librarian of Magdalen College, Oxford.

Preface.

That none of the Treatises of S. Gregory of Nyssa have hitherto been translated into English, or even (with one exception long ago) into French, may be partly due to the imperfections, both in number and quality, of the mss., and by consequence of the Editions, of the great majority of them. The state of the mss., again, may be owing to the suspicion diligently fostered by the zealous friends of the reputation of this Father, in ages when mss. could and should have been multiplied and preserved, that there were large importations into his writings from the hands of the Origenists--a statement which a very short study of Gregory, whose thought is always taking the direction of Origen, would disprove.

This suspicion, while it resulted in throwing doubts upon the genuineness of the entire text, has so far deprived the current literature of the Church of a great treasure. For there are two qualities in this Gregory's writings not to be found in the same degree in any other Greek teacher, namely, a far-reaching use of philosophical speculation (quite apart from allegory) in bringing out the full meaning of Church doctrines, and Bible truths; and excellence of style. With regard to this last, he himself bitterly deplored the days which he had wasted over the study of style; but we at all events need not share that regret, if only for this reason, that his writings thereby show that patristic Greek could rise to the level of the best of its time. It is not necessarily the thing which it is, too easily, even in other instances, assumed to be. Granted the prolonged decadence of the language, yet perfects are not aorists, nor aorists perfects, the middle is a middle, there are classical constructions of the participle, the particles of transition and prepositions in composition have their full force in Athanasius; much more in Basil; much more in Gregory. It obscures facts to say that there was good Greek only in the age of Thucydides. There was good and bad Greek of its kind, in every epoch, as long as Greek was living. So far for mere syntax. As for adequacy of language, the far wider range of his subject-matter puts Gregory of Nyssa to a severer test; but he does not fail under it. What could be more dignified than his letter to Flavian, or more choice than his description of the spring, or more richly illustrated than his praises of Contemplation, or more pathetic than his pleading for the poor? It would have been strange indeed if the Greek language had not possessed a Jerome of its own, to make it speak the new monastic devotion.

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But the labours of J. A. Krabinger, F. Oehler, and G. H. Forbes upon the text, though all abruptly ended, have helped to repair the neglect of the past. They in this century, as the scholars of Paris, Ghent, and Basle, though each working with fewer or more imperfect mss., in the sixteenth and seventeenth, have been better friends to Gregory than those who wrote books in the sixth to defend his orthodoxy, but to depreciate his writings. In this century, too, Cardinal Mai has rescued still more from oblivion in the Vatican--a slight compensation for all the materials collected for a Benedictine edition of Gregory, but dispersed in the French Revolution.

The longest Treatise here translated is that Against Eunomius in 13 Books. The reproduction of so much ineffectual fencing in logic over a question which no longer can trouble the Church might be taken exception to. But should men like Gregory and Basil, pleading for the spirit and for faith and for mystery against the conclusions of a hard logician, be an indifferent spectacle to us? The interest, too, in the contest deepens when we know that their opponent not only proclaimed himself, but was accepted, as a martyr to the Anomoean cause; and that he had large congregations to the very end. The moral force of Arianism was stronger than ever as its end drew near in the East, because the Homoeans were broken up and there was no more complicity with the court and politics. It was represented by a man who had suffered and had made no compromises; and so the life-long work, previous to his, of Valens the bishop at last bore fruit in conversions; and the Anomoean teaching came to a head in the easily understood formula that the 'Agennesia was the essence of the Father--an idea which in the Dated Creed Valens had repudiated.

What, then, was to be done? Eunomius seemed by his parade of logic to have dug a gulf for ever between the Ungenerate and the Generate, in other words between the Father and the Son. The merit and interest of this Treatise of Gregory consists in showing this logician as making endless mistakes in his logic; and then, that anything short of the "eternal generation" involved unspeakable absurdities or profanities; and lastly, that Eunomius was fighting by means of distinctions which were the mere result of mental analysis. Already, we see, there was floating in the air the Conceptualism and Realism of the Middle Ages, invoked for this last Arian controversy. When Eunomius retorted that this faculty of analysis cannot give the name of God, and calls his opponents atheists for not recognizing the more than human source of the term 'Agennetos, the last word of Nicene orthodoxy has to be uttered; and it is, that God is really incomprehensible, and that here we can never know His name.

This should have led to a statement of the claims of the Sacraments as placing us in heart and spirit, but not in mind, in communion with this incomprehensible God. But this would have been useless with such opponents as the Eunomians. Accuracy of doctrine and clearness of statement was to them salvation; mysteries were worse than nothing. Only in the intervals of the logical battle, and for the sake of the faithful, does Gregory recur to those moral and spiritual attributes which a true Christianity has revealed in the Deity, and upon which the doctrine of the Sacraments is built.

Such controversies are repeated now; i.e. where truths, which it requires a certain state of the affections to understand, should be urged, but cannot be, on the one side; and truths which are logical, or literary, or scientific only, are ranged on the other side; as an instance, though in another field, the arguments for and against the results of the "higher criticism" of the Old Testament exhibit this irreconcilable attitude.

Yet in one respect a great gain must have at once resulted to the Catholic cause from this long work. The counter opposition of Created and Uncreate, with which Gregory met the opposition of Generate and Ungenerate, and which, unlike the latter, is a dichotomy founded on an essential difference, must have helped many minds, distracted with the jargon of Arianism, to see more clearly the preciousness of the Baptismal Formula, as the casket which contains the Faith. Indeed, the life-work of Gregory was to defend this Formula.

The Treatise On Virginity is probably the work of his youth; but none the less Christian for that. Here is done what students of Plato had doubtless long been asking for, i.e. that his "love of the Beautiful" should be spiritualized. Beginning with a bitter accusation of marriage, Gregory leaves the reader doubtful in the end whether celibacy is necessary or not for the contemplative life; so absorbed he becomes in the task of showing the blessedness of those who look to the source of all visible beauty. But the result of this seeing is not, as in Plato, a mere enlightenment as to the real value of these visible things. There are so many more beautiful things in God than Plato saw; the Christian revelation has infinitely enriched the field of contemplation; and the lover of the beautiful now must be a higher character, and have a more chastened heart, not only be a more favoured child of light, than others. His enthusiasm shall be as strong as ever; but the model is higher now; and even an Aristotelian balance of moral extremes is necessary to guide him to the goal of a successful Imitation.

It was right, too, that the Church should possess her Phædo, or Death-bed Dialogue; and it is Gregory who has supplied this in his On the Soul and the Resurrection. But the copy becomes an original. The dialogue is between a sister and a brother; the one a saintly Apologist, the other, for argument's sake, a gainsayer, who urges all the pleas of Greek materialism. Not only the immortality of the soul is discussed, but an exact definition of it is sought, and that in the light of a truer psychology than Plato's. His "chariot" is given up; sensation, as the basis of all thought, is freely recognized; and yet the passions are firmly separated from the actual essence of the soul; further, the "coats of skins" of fallen humanity, as symbolizing the wrong use of the passions, take the place of the "sea-weed" on the statue of Glaucus. The grasp of the Christian philosopher of the traits of a perfect humanity, so conspicuous in his Making of Man, give him an advantage here over the pagan. As for the Resurrection of the flesh, it was a novel stroke to bring the beliefs of Empedocles, Pythagoras, Plato, and the later Platonists, into one focus as it were, and to show that the teaching of those philosophers as to the destinies of the soul recognized the possibility, or even the necessity, of the reassumption of some body. Grotesque objections to the Christian Resurrection, such as are urged nowadays, are brought forward and answered in this Treatise.

The appeal to the Saviour, as to the Inspiration of the Old Testament, has raised again a discussion as to the Two Natures; and will probably continue to do so. But before the subject of the "communication of attributes" can be entered upon, we must remember that Christ's mere humanity (as has been lately pointed out [1] ) is, to begin with, sinless. He was perfect man. What the attributes of a perfect, as contrasted with a fallen, humanity are, it is not given except by inference to know; but no Father has discussed this subject of Adam's nature more fully than Gregory, in his treatise On the Making of Man.

The reasons for classing the Great Catechism as an Apologetic are given in the Prolegomena: here from first to last Gregory shows himself a genuine pupil of Origen. The plan of Revelation is made to rest on man's free-will; every objection to it is answered by the fact of this free-will. This plan is unfolded so as to cover the whole of human history; the beginning, the middle, and the end are linked, in the exposition, indissolubly together. The Incarnation is the turning-point of history; and yet, beyond this, its effects are for all Creation. Who made this theology? Origen doubtless; and his philosophy of Scripture, based on a few leading texts, became, one point excepted, the property of the Church: she at last possessed a Théodicée that borrowed nothing from Greek ideas. So far, then, every one who used it was an Origenist: and yet Gregory alone has suffered from this charge. In using this Théodicée he has in some points surpassed his master, i.e. in showing in details the skilfulness (sophia) which effected the real "touching" of humanity; and how the "touched" soul and the "touched" body shall follow in the path of the Redeemer's Resurrection.

To the many points of modern interest in this Gregory should be added his eschatology, which occupies a large share of his thoughts. On Infants' Early Deaths is a witness of this. In fact, when not occupied in defending, on one side or another, the Baptismal Formula, he is absorbed in eschatology. He dwells continually on the agonizing and refining processes of Purgatory. But to claim him as one who favours the doctrine of "Eternal Hope" in a universal sense is hardly possible, when we consider the passage in On the Soul and the Resurrection where he speaks of a Last Judgment as coming after the Resurrection and Purgatory.

So much has been said in a Preface, in order to show that this Volume is a step at least towards reinstating a most interesting writer, doubtless one of the most highly educated of his time, and, let it be observed as well, a canonized saint (for, more fortunate than his works, he was never branded as a heretic), in his true position.

In a first English translation of Treatises and Letters most of which (notably the books against Eunomius) have never been illustrated by a single translator's note, and by but a handful of scholia, a few passages remain, which from the obscurity of their allusion, local or historical, are unexplained. In others the finest shades of meaning in one Greek word, insisted on in some argument, but which the best English equivalent fails to represent, cause the appearance of obscurity. But, throughout, the utmost clearness possible without unduly straining the literal meaning has been aimed at; and in passages too numerous to name, most grateful acknowledgment is here made of the invaluable suggestions of the Rev. J. H. Lupton.

It is hoped that the Index of Subjects will be of use, in lieu of an analysis, where an analysis has not been provided. The Index of Texts, all of which have been strictly verified, while it will be found to prove Gregory's thorough knowledge of Scripture (notwithstanding his somewhat classical training), does not attempt to distinguish between citation and reminiscence; care, however, has been taken that the reminiscence should be undoubted.

The Index of Greek words (as also the quotations in foot-notes of striking sentences) has been provided for those interested in the study of later Greek.

W. M.

July, 1892.


Footnotes

[1] Christus Comprobator, p. 99, sq.

Works on Analytical Criticism, History, and Bibliography, Consulted.

Rupp (Dr. Julius), Gregors des Bischofs von Nyssa Leben und Meinungen. Leipzig, 1834.

Möller (E. W.) Gregori Nysseni doctrinam de hominis naturâ et illustravit et cum Origenianâ comparavit. Halle, 1854.

Denys (J.), De la Philosophie d'Origéne. Paris, 1884.

Dorner (Dr. J. A.), Doctrine of the Person of Christ. Clark's English translation. Edinburgh.

Heyns (S. P.), Disputatio Historico-Theologica de Gregorio Nysseno. Leyden, 1835.

Alzog (Dr. J.), Handbuch d. Patrologie. 3rd ed. 1876.

Ceillier (Rémi), Histoire Générale des Auteurs Sacrés et Ecclésiastiques. Paris, 1858 sqq.

Tillemont (Louis Sebastien Le Nain De), Mémoires pour servir â l'Histoire Ecclésiastique des six premiers Siécles, Vol. IX. Paris, 1693-1712.

Fabricius (J. A.), Bibliotheca Græca. Hamburg, 1718-28.

Prolegomena to the Paris edition of all Gregory's Works, with notes by Father Fronto Du Duc, 1638.

Cave (Dr. W.), Historia Literaria. London, 1688. (Oxford, 1740.)

Du Pin (Dr. L. E.) Library of Ecclesiastical Authors. Paris, 1686.

Fessler (Joseph), Institutiones Patrologiæ: Dr. B. Jungmann's edition. Innsbruck, 1890.

Dates of Treatises, &c., Here Translated.

(Based on Heyns and Rupp.)

331. Gregory Born.

360. Letters x. xi. xv.

361. Julian's edict. Gregory gives up rhetoric.

362. Gregory in his brother's monastery.

363. Letter vi. (probably)

368. On Virginity.

369. Gregory elected a reader.

372. Gregory elected Bishop of Nyssa early in this year.

374. Gregory is exiled under Valens.

375. On the Faith. On "Not three Gods."

376. Letters vii. xiv. On the Baptism of Christ.

377. Against Macedonius.

378. Gregory Returns to his See. Letter iii.

379. On Pilgrimages. [3]

Letter ii.

380. On the Soul and the Resurrection.

On the Making of Man.

On the Holy Trinity.

381. Gregory present at the Second Council. Oration on Meletius.

382-3. Against Eunomius, Books I-XII.

383. Present at Constantinople. Letter xxi.

384. Answer to Eunomius' Second Book.

385. The Great Catechism.

386. Letter xiii.

390. Letter iv.

393. Letter to Flavian.

394. Present for Synod at Constantinople.

395. On Infant's Early Deaths.


Footnotes

[3] Rupp places this after the Council of Constantinople, 381. Letters i., v., viii., ix., xvi. are also probably after 381.


The Life and Writings of Gregory of Nyssa.


Chapter I.--A Sketch of the Life of S. Gregory of Nyssa.

In the roll of the Nicene Fathers there is no more honoured name than that of Gregory of Nyssa. Besides the praises of his great brother Basil and of his equally great friend Gregory Nazianzen, the sanctity of his life, his theological learning, and his strenuous advocacy of the faith embodied in the Nicene clauses, have received the praises of Jerome, Socrates, Theodoret, and many other Christian writers. Indeed such was the estimation in which he was held that some did not hesitate to call him `the Father of Fathers' as well as `the Star of Nyssa' [4] ."

Gregory of Nyssa was equally fortunate in his country, the name he bore, and the family which produced him. He was a native of Cappadocia, and was born most probably at Cæsarea, the capital, about a.d. 335 or 336. No province of the Roman Empire had in those early ages received more eminent Christian bishops than Cappadocia and the adjoining district of Pontus.

In the previous century the great prelate Firmilian, the disciple and friend of Origen, who visited him at his See, had held the Bishopric of Cæsarea. In the same age another saint, Gregory Thaumaturgus, a friend also and disciple of Origen, was bishop of Neo-Cæsarea in Pontus. During the same century, too, no less than four other Gregories shed more or less lustre on bishoprics in that country. The family of Gregory of Nyssa was one of considerable wealth and distinction, and one also conspicuously Christian.

During the Diocletian persecution his grandparents had fled for safety to the mountainous region of Pontus, where they endured great hardships and privations. It is said that his maternal grandfather, whose name is unknown, eventually lost both life and property. After a retirement of some few years the family appear to have returned and settled at Cæsarea in Cappadocia, or else at Neo-Cæsarea in Pontus, for there is some uncertainty in the account.

Gregory's father, Basil, who gave his name to his eldest son, was known as a rhetorician. He died at a comparatively early age, leaving a family of ten children, five of whom were boys and five girls, under the care of their grandmother Macrina and mother Emmelia. Both of these illustrious ladies were distinguished for the earnestness and strictness of their Christian principles, to which the latter added the charm of great personal beauty.

All the sons and daughters appear to have been of high character, but it is only of four sons and one daughter that we have any special record. The daughter, called Macrina, from her grandmother, was the angel in the house of this illustrious family. She shared with her grandmother and mother the care and education of all its younger members. Nor was there one of them who did not owe to her religious influence their settlement in the faith and consistency of Christian conduct.

This admirable woman had been betrothed in early life, but her intended husband died of fever. She permitted herself to contract no other alliance, but regarded herself as still united to her betrothed in the other world. She devoted herself to a religious life, and eventually, with her mother Emmelia, established a female conventual society on the family-property in Pontus, at a place called Annesi, on the banks of the river Iris.

It was owing to her persuasions that her brother Basil also gave up the worldly life, and retired to lead the devout life in a wild spot in the immediate neighbourhood of Annesi. Here for a while he was an hermit, and here he persuaded his friend Gregory Nazianzen to join him. They studied together the works of Origen, and published a selection of extracts from his Commentaries, which they called "Philocalia." By the suggestions of a friend Basil enlarged his idea, and converted his hermit's seclusion into a monastery, which eventually became the centre of many others which sprung up in that district.

His inclination for the monastic life had been greatly influenced by his acquaintance with the Egyptian monks, who had impressed him with the value of their system as an aid to a life of religious devotion. He had visited also the hermit saints of Syria and Arabia, and learnt from them the practice of a severe asceticism, which both injured his health and shortened his days.

Gregory of Nyssa was the third son, and one of the youngest of the family. He had an elder brother, Nectarius, who followed the profession of their father, and became rhetorician, and like him died early. He had also a younger brother, Peter, who became bishop of Sebaste.

Besides the uncertainty as to the year and place of his birth it is not known where he received his education. From the weakness of his health and delicacy of his constitution, it was most probably at home. It is interesting, in the case of one so highly educated, to know who, in consequence of his father's early death, took charge of his merely intellectual bringing up: and his own words do not leave us in any doubt that, so far as he had a teacher, it was Basil, his senior by several years. He constantly speaks of him as the revered `Master:' to take but one instance, he says in his Hexaemeron (ad init.) that all that will be striking in that work will be due to Basil, what is inferior will be the `pupil's.' Even in the matter of style, he says in a letter written in early life to Libanius that though he enjoyed his brother's society but a short time yet Basil was the author of his oratory (logou): and it is safe to conclude that he was introduced to all that Athens had to teach, perhaps even to medicine, by Basil: for Basil had been at Athens. On the other hand we can have no difficulty in crediting his mother, of whom he always spoke with the tenderest affection, and his admirable sister Macrina, with the care of his religious teaching. Indeed few could be more fortunate than Gregory in the influences of home. If, as there is every reason to believe, the grandmother Macrina survived Gregory's early childhood, then, like Timothy, he was blest with the religious instruction of another Lois and Eunice.

In this chain of female relationship it is difficult to say which link is worthier of note, grandmother, mother, or daughter. Of the first, Basil, who attributes his early religious impressions to his grandmother, tells us that as a child she taught him a Creed, which had been drawn up for the use of the Church of Neo-Cæsarea by Gregory Thaumaturgus. This Creed, it is said, was revealed to the Saint in a vision. It has been translated by Bishop Bull in his "Fidei Nicænæ Defensio." In its language and spirit it anticipates the Creed of Constantinople.

Certain it is that Gregory had not the benefit of a residence at Athens, or of foreign travel. It might have given him a strength of character and width of experience, in which he was certainly deficient. His shy and retiring disposition induced him to remain at home without choosing a profession, living on his share of the paternal property, and educating himself by a discipline of his own.

He remained for years unbaptized. And this is a very noticeable circumstance which meets us in the lives of many eminent Saints and Bishops of the Church. They either delayed baptism themselves, or it was delayed for them. Indeed there are instances of Bishops baptized and consecrated the same day.

Gregory's first inclination or impulse to make a public profession of Christianity is said to have been due to a remarkable dream or vision.

His mother Emmelia, at her retreat at Annesi, urgently entreated him to be present and take part in a religious ceremony in honour of the Forty Christian Martyrs. He had gone unwillingly, and wearied with his journey and the length of the service, which lasted far into the night, he lay down and fell asleep in the garden. He dreamed that the Martyrs appeared to him and, reproaching him for his indifference, beat him with rods. On awaking he was filled with remorse, and hastened to amend his past neglect by earnest entreaties for mercy and forgiveness. Under the influence of the terror which his dream inspired he consented to undertake the office of reader in the Church, which of course implied a profession of Christianity. But some unfitness, and, perhaps, that love of eloquence which clung to him to the last, soon led him to give up the office, and adopt the profession of a rhetorician or advocate. For this desertion of a sacred for a secular employment he is taken severely to task by his brother Basil and his friend Gregory Nazianzen. The latter does not hesitate to charge him with being influenced, not by conscientious scruples, but by vanity and desire of public display, a charge not altogether consistent with his character.

Here it is usual to place the marriage of Gregory with Theosebeia, said to have been a sister of Gregory Nazianzen. Certainly the tradition of Gregory's marriage received such credit as to be made in after times a proof of the non-celibacy of the Bishops of his age. But it rests mainly on two passages, which taken separately are not in the least conclusive. The first is the ninety-fifth letter of Gregory Nazianzen, written to console for a certain loss by death, i.e. of "Theosebeia, the fairest, the most lustrous even amidst such beauty of the adelphoi; Theosebeia, the true priestess, the yokefellow and the equal of a priest." J. Rupp has well pointed out that the expression `yokefellow' (suzugon), which has been insisted as meaning `wife,' may, especially in the language of Gregory Nazianzen, be equivalent to adelphos. He sees in this Theosebeia `a sister of the Cappadocian brothers.' The second passage is contained in the third cap. of Gregory's treatise On Virginity. Gregory there complains that he is "cut off by a kind of gulf from this glory of virginity" (parthenia). The whole passage should be consulted. Of course its significance depends on the meaning given to parthenia. Rupp asserts that more and more towards the end of the century this word acquired a technical meaning derived from the purely ideal side, i.e. virginity of soul: and that Gregory is alluding to the same thing that his friend had not long before blamed him for, the keeping of a school for rhetoric, where his object had been merely worldly reputation, and the truly ascetic career had been marred (at the time he wrote). Certainly the terrible indictment of marriage in the third cap. of this treatise comes ill from one whose wife not only must have been still living, but possessed the virtues sketched in the letter of Gregory Nazianzen: while the allusions at the end of it to the law-courts and their revelations appear much more like the professional reminiscence of a rhetorician who must have been familiar with them, than the personal complaint of one who had cause to depreciate marriage. The powerful words of Basil, de Virgin. I. 610, a. b., also favour the above view of the meaning of parthenia: and Gregory elsewhere distinctly calls celibacy parthenia tou somatos, and regards it as a means only to this higher parthenia (III. 131). But the two passages above, when combined, may have led to the tradition of Gregory's marriage. Nicephorus Callistus, for example, who first makes mention of it, must have put upon parthenia the interpretation of his own time (thirteenth century,) i.e. that of continence. Finally, those who adopt this tradition have still to account for the fact that no allusion to Theosebeia as his wife, and no letter to her, is to be found in Gregory's numerous writings. It is noteworthy that the Benedictine editors of Gregory Nazianzen (ad Epist. 95) also take the above view.

His final recovery and conversion to the Faith, of which he was always after so strenuous an asserter, was due to her who, all things considered, was the master spirit of the family. By the powerful persuasions of his sister Macrina, at length, after much struggle, he altered entirely his way of life, severed himself from all secular occupations, and retired to his brother's monastery in the solitudes of Pontus, a beautiful spot, and where, as we have seen, his mother and sister had established, in the immediate neighbourhood, a similar association for women.

Here, then, Gregory was settled for several years, and devoted himself to the study of the Scripture and the works of his master Origen. Here, too, his love of natural scenery was deepened so as to find afterwards constant and adequate expression. For in his writings we have in large measure that sentiment of delight in the beauty of nature of which, even when it was felt, the traces are so few and far between in the whole range of Greek literature. A notable instance is the following from the Letter to Adelphus, written long afterwards:--"The gifts bestowed upon the spot by Nature, who beautifies the earth with an impromptu grace, are such as these: below, the river Halys makes the place fair to look upon with his banks, and glides like a golden ribbon through their deep purple, reddening his current with the soil he washes down. Above, a mountain densely overgrown with wood stretches, with its long ridge, covered at all points with the foliage of oaks, more worthy of finding some Homer to sing its praises than that Ithacan Neritus which the poet calls `far-seen with quivering leaves.' But the natural growth of wood as it comes down the hill-side meets at the foot the plantations of human husbandry. For forthwith vines, spread out over the slopes and swellings and hollows at the mountain's base, cover with their colour, like a green mantle, all the lower ground: and the season also was now adding to their beauty with a display of magnificent grape-clusters." Another is from the treatise On Infants' Early Deaths:--"Nay look only at an ear of corn, at the germinating of some plant, at a ripe bunch of grapes, at the beauty of early autumn whether in fruit or flower, at the grass springing unbidden, at the mountain reaching up with its summit to the height of the ether, at the springs of the lower ground bursting from its flanks in streams like milk, and running in rivers through the glens, at the sea receiving those streams from every direction and yet remaining within its limits with waves edged by the stretches of beach, and never stepping beyond those fixed boundaries: and how can the eye of reason fail to find in them all that our education for Realities requires?" The treatise On Virginity was the fruit of this life in Basil's monastery.

Henceforward the fortunes of Gregory are more closely linked with those of his great brother Basil.

About a.d. 365 Basil was summoned from his retirement to act as coadjutor to Eusebius, the Metropolitan of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, and aid him in repelling the assaults of the Arian faction on the Faith. In these assaults the Arians were greatly encouraged and assisted by the proclivities of the Emperor Valens. After some few years of strenuous and successful resistance, and the endurance of great persecution from the Emperor and his Court, a persecution which indeed pursued him through life, Basil is called by the popular voice, on the death of Eusebius, a.d. 370, to succeed him in the See. His election is vehemently opposed, but after much turmoil is at length accomplished.

To strengthen himself in his position, and surround himself with defenders of the orthodox Faith, he obliges his brother Gregory, in spite of his emphatic protest, to undertake the Bishopric of Nyssa [5] , a small town in the west of Cappadocia. When a friend expressed his surprise that he had chosen so obscure a place for such a man as Gregory, he replied, that he did not desire his brother to receive distinction from the name of his See, but rather to confer distinction upon it.

It was with the same feeling, and by the exercise of a like masterful will, that he forced upon his friend Gregory Nazianzen the Bishopric of a still more obscure and unimportant place, called Sasima. But Gregory highly resented the nomination, which unhappily led to a lifelong estrangement.

It was about this time, too, that a quarrel had arisen between Basil and their uncle, another Gregory, one of the Cappadocian Bishops. And here Gregory of Nyssa gave a striking proof of the extreme simplicity and unreflectiveness of his character, which without guileful intent yet led him into guile. Without sufficient consideration he was induced to practise a deceit which was as irreconcileable with Christian principle as with common sense. In his endeavours to set his brother and uncle at one, when previous efforts had been in vain, he had recourse to an extraordinary method. He forged a letter, as if from their uncle, to Basil, earnestly entreating reconciliation. The inevitable discovery of course only widened the breach, and drew down on Gregory his brother's indignant condemnation. The reconciliation, however, which Gregory hoped for, was afterwards brought about.

Nor was this the only occasion on which Gregory needed Basil's advice and reproof, and protection from the consequences of his inexperienced zeal. After he had become Bishop of Nyssa, with a view to render assistance to his brother he promoted the summoning of Synods. But Basil's wider experience told him that no good would come of such assemblies under existing circumstances. Besides which he had reason to believe that Gregory would be made the tool of factious and designing men. He therefore discouraged the attempt. At another time Basil had to interpose his authority to prevent his brother joining in a mission to Rome to invite the interference of Pope Damasus and the Western Bishops in the settlement of the troubles at Antioch in consequence of the disputed election to the See. Basil had himself experience of the futility of such application to Rome, from the want of sympathy in the Pope and the Western Bishops with the troubles in the East. Nor would he, by such application, give a handle for Rome's assertion of supremacy, and encroachment on the independence of the Eastern Church. The Bishopric of Nyssa was indeed to Gregory no bed of roses. Sad was the contrast to one of his genre spirit, more fitted for studious retirement and monastic calm than for controversies which did not end with the pen, between the peaceful leisure of his retreat in Pontus and the troubles and antagonisms of his present position. The enthusiasm of his faith on the subject of the Trinity and the Incarnation brought upon him the full weight of Arian and Sabellian hostility, aggravated as it was by the patronage of the Emperor. In fact his whole life at Nyssa was a series of persecutions.

A charge of uncanonical irregularity in his ordination is brought up against him by certain Arian Bishops, and he is summoned to appear and answer them at a Synod at Ancyra. To this was added the vexation of a prosecution by Demosthenes, the Emperor's chef de cuisine, on a charge of defalcation in the Church funds.

A band of soldiers is sent to fetch him to the Synod. The fatigue of the journey, and the rough treatment of his conductors, together with anxiety of mind, produce a fever which prevents his attendance. His brother Basil comes to his assistance. He summons another Synod of orthodox Cappadocian Bishops, who dictate in their joint names a courteous letter, apologising for Gregory's absence from the Synod of Ancyra, and proving the falsehood of the charge of embezzlement. At the same time he writes to solicit the interest of Astorgus, a person of considerable influence at the Court, to save his brother from the indignity of being dragged before a secular tribunal.

Apparently the application was unsuccessful. Demosthenes now obtains the holding another Synod at Gregory's own See of Nyssa, where he is summoned to answer the same charges. Gregory refuses to attend. He is consequently pronounced contumacious, and deposed from his Bishopric. His deposition is followed immediately by a decree of banishment from the Emperor, a.d. 376. He retires to Seleucia. But his banishment did not secure him from the malice and persecution of his enemies. He is obliged frequently to shift his quarters, and is subjected to much bodily discomfort and suffering. From the consoling answers of his friend Gregory of Nazianzen (for his own letters are lost), we learn the crushing effects of all these troubles upon his gentle and sensitive spirit, and the deep despondency into which he had fallen.

At length there is a happier turn of affairs. The Emperor Valens is killed, a.d. 378, and with him Arianism `vanished in the crash of Hadrianople.' He is succeeded by Gratian, the friend and disciple of St. Ambrose. The banished orthodox Bishops are restored to their Sees, and Gregory returns to Nyssa. In [6] one of his letters, most probably to his brother Basil, he gives a graphic description of the popular triumph with which his return was greeted.

But the joy of his restoration is overshadowed by domestic sorrows. His great brother, to whom he owed so much, soon after dies, ere he is 50 years of age, worn out by his unparalleled toils and the severity of his ascetic life. Gregory celebrated his death in a sincere panegyric. Its high-flown style is explained by the rhetorical fashion of the time. The same year another sorrow awaits him. After a separation of many years he revisits his sister Macrina, at her convent in Pontus, but only to find her on her death-bed. We have an interesting and graphic account of the scene between Gregory and his dying sister. To the last this admirable woman appears as the great teacher of her family. She supplies her brother with arguments for, and confirms his faith in, the resurrection of the dead; and almost reproves him for the distress he felt at her departure, bidding him, with St. Paul, not to sorrow as those who had no hope. After her decease an inmate of the convent, named Vestiana, brought to Gregory a ring, in which was a piece of the true Cross, and an iron cross, both of which were found on the body when laying it out. One Gregory retained himself, the other he gave to Vestiana. He buried his sister in the chapel at Annesi, in which her parents and her brother Naucratius slept.

From henceforth the labours of Gregory have a far more extended range. He steps into the place vacated by the death of Basil, and takes foremost rank among the defenders of the Faith of Nicæa. He is not, however, without trouble still from the heretical party. Certain Galatians had been busy in sowing the seeds of their heresy among his own people. He is subjected, too, to great annoyance from the disturbances which arose out of the wish of the people of Ibera in Pontus to have him as their Bishop. In that early age of the Church election to a Bishopric, if not dependent on the popular voice, at least called forth the expression of much popular feeling, like a contested election amongst ourselves. This often led to breaches of the peace, which required military intervention to suppress them, as it appears to have done on this occasion.

But the reputation of Gregory is now so advanced, and the weight of his authority as an eminent teacher so generally acknowledged, that we find him as one of the Prelates at the Synod of Antioch assembled for the purpose of healing the long-continued schisms in that distracted See. By the same Synod Gregory is chosen to visit and endeavour to reform the Churches of Arabia and Babylon, which had fallen into a very corrupt and degraded state. He gives a lamentable account of their condition, as being beyond all his powers of reformation. On this same journey he visits Jerusalem and its sacred scenes: it has been conjectured that the Apollinarian heresy drew him thither. Of the Church of Jerusalem he can give no better account than of those he had already visited. He expresses himself as greatly scandalized at the conduct of the Pilgrims who visited the Holy City on the plea of religion. Writing to three ladies, whom he had known at Jerusalem, he takes occasion, from what he had witnessed there, to speak of the uselessness of pilgrimages as any aids to reverence and faith, and denounces in the strongest terms the moral dangers to which all pilgrims, especially women, are exposed.

This letter is so condemnatory of what was a common and authorized practice of the medieval Church that [7] Divines of the Latin communion have endeavoured, but in vain, to deny its authenticity.

The name and character of Gregory had now reached the Imperial Court, where Theodosius had lately succeeded to the Eastern Empire. As a proof of the esteem in which he was then held, it is said that in his recent journey to Babylon and the Holy Land he travelled with carriages provided for him by the Emperor.

Still greater distinction awaits him. He is one of the hundred and fifty Bishops summoned by Theodosius to the second OEcumenical Council, that of Constantinople, a.d. 381. To the assembled Fathers he brings an [8] instalment of his treatise against the Eunomian heresy, which he had written in defence of his brother Basil's positions, on the subject of the Trinity and the Incarnation. This he first read to his friend Gregory Nazianzen, Jerome, and others. Such was the influence he exercised in the Council that it is said, though this is very doubtful, that the explanatory clauses added to the Nicene Creed are due to him. Certain, however, it is that he delivered the inaugural address, which is not extant; further that he preached the funeral oration, which has been preserved, on the death of Meletius, of Antioch, the first President of the Council, who died at Constantinople; also that he preached at the enthronement of Gregory Nazianzen in the capital. This oration has perished.

Shortly before the close of the Council, by a Constitution of the Emperor, issued from Heraclea, Gregory is nominated as one of the Bishops who were to be regarded as the central authorities of Catholic Communion. In other words, the primacy of Rome or Alexandria in the East was to be replaced by that of other Sees, especially Constantinople. Helladius of Cæsarea was to be Gregory's colleague in his province. The connexion led to a misunderstanding. As to the grounds of this there is much uncertainty. The account of it is entirely derived from Gregory himself in his Letter to Flavian, and from his great namesake. Possibly there were faults on both sides.

We do not read of Gregory being at the Synod, a.d. 382, which followed the great Council of Constantinople. But we find him present at the Synod held the following year.

This same year we have proof of the continued esteem and favour shown him by the Imperial Court. He is chosen to pronounce the funeral oration on the infant Princess Pulcheria. And not long after that also on the death of the Empress Flaccilla, or Placidia, herself. This last was a magnificent eulogy, but one, according to Tillemont, even surpassed by that of Theodoret. This admirable and holy woman, a saint of the Eastern Church, fully warranted all the praise that could be bestowed upon her. If her husband Theodosius did not owe his conversion to Christianity to her example and influence, he certainly did his adherence to the true Faith. It is one of the subjects of Gregory's praise of her that by her persuasion the Emperor refused to give an interview to the `rationalist of the fourth century,' Eunomius.

Scarcely anything is known of the latter years of Gregory of Nyssa's life. The last record we have of him is that he was present at a Synod of Constantinople, summoned a.d. 394, by Rufinus, the powerful prefect of the East, under the presidency of Nectarius. The rival claims to the See of Bostra in Arabia had to be then settled; but perhaps the chief reason for summoning this assembly was to glorify the consecration of Rufinus' new Church in the suburbs. It was there that Gregory delivered the sermon which was probably his last, wrongly entitled `On his Ordination.' His words, which heighten the effect of others then preached, are humbly compared to the blue circles painted on the new walls as a foil to the gilded dome above. "The whole breathes a calmer and more peaceful spirit; the deep sorrow over heretics who forfeit the blessings of the Spirit changes only here and there into the flashes of a short-lived indignation." (J. Rupp.)

The prophecy of Basil had come true. Nyssa was ennobled by the name of its bishop appearing on the roll of this Synod, between those of the Metropolitans of Cæsarea and Iconium. Even in outward rank he is equal to the highest. The character of Gregory could not be more justly drawn than in the words of Tillemont (IX. p. 269). "Autant en effet, qu'on peut juger de lui par ses écrits, c`étoit un esprit doux, bon, facile, qui avec beaucoup d'élevation et de lumière, avoit néanmois beaucoup de simplicité et de candeur, qui aimoit plus le repos que l'action, et le travail du cabinet que le tumulte des affaires, qui avec cela étoit sans faste, disposé à estimer et à louer les autres et à se mettre à dessous d'eux. Mais quoiqu' il ne cherchât que le repos, nous avons vû que son zèle pour ses frères l'avoit souvent engagé à de grands travaux, et que Dieu avait honoré sa simplicité en le faisant regarder comme le maitre, le docteur, le pacificateur et l'arbitre des églises."

His death (probably 395) is commemorated by the Greek Church on January 10, by the Latin on March 9.


Footnotes

[4] ;;O ton Pateron Pater; ;ho ton Nussaeon phoster, Council. Nic. II. Act. VI. Edition of Labbe, p. 477.--Nicephor. Callist. H. E. xi. 19. [5] Now Nirse. [6] Epist. III. (Zacagni's collection). [7] Notably Bellarmine: Gretser, the Jesuit, against the Calvinist Molino. [8] See Note 1 to the Introductory Letter to the Treatise.


Chapter II.--His General Character as a Theologian.

"The first who sought to establish by rational considerations the whole complex of orthodox doctrines." So Ueberweg (History of Philosophy, p. 326) of Gregory of Nyssa. This marks the transition from ante-Nicene times. Then, at all events in the hands of Origen, philosophy was identical with theology. Now, that there is a `complex of orthodox doctrines' to defend, philosophy becomes the handmaid of theology. Gregory, in this respect, has done the most important service of any of the writers of the Church in the fourth century. He treats each single philosophical view only as a help to grasp the formulæ of faith; and the truth of that view consists with him only in its adaptability to that end. Notwithstanding strong speculative leanings he does not defend orthodoxy either in the fashion of the Alexandrian school or in the fashion of some in modern times, who put forth a system of philosophy to which the dogmas of the Faith are to be accommodated.

If this be true, the question as to his attitude towards Plato, which is one of the first that suggests itself, is settled. Against polytheism he does indeed seek to defend Christianity by connecting it apologetically with Plato's system. This we cannot be surprised at, considering that the definitions of the doctrines of the Catholic Church were formed in the very place where the last considerable effort of Platonism was made; but he by no means makes the New Life in any way dependent on this system of philosophy. "We cannot speculate," he says (De Anim. et Resurrect.),..."we must leave the Platonic car." But still when he is convinced that Plato will confirm doctrine he will, even in polemic treatises, adopt his view; for instance, he seeks to grasp the truth of the Trinity from the Platonic account of our internal consciousness, i.e. psuche, logos, nous; because such a proof from consciousness is, to Gregory, the surest and most reliable.

The "rational considerations," then, by which Gregory would have established Christian doctrine are not necessarily drawn from the philosophy of the time: nor, further, does he seek to rationalize entirely all religious truth. In fact he resigns the hope of comprehending the Incarnation and all the great articles. This is the very thing that distinguishes the Catholic from the Eunomian. "Receiving the fact we leave untampered with the manner of the creation of the Universe, as altogether secret and inexplicable [9] ." With a turn resembling the view of Tertullian, he comes back to the conclusion that for us after all Religious Truth consists in mystery. "The Church possesses the means of demonstrating these things: or rather, she has faith, which is surer than demonstration [10] ." He developes the truth of the Resurrection as much by the fulfilment of God's promises as by metaphysics: and it has been considered as one of the proofs that the treatise What is being `in the image of God'? is not his that this subordination of philosophical proof to the witness of the Holy Spirit is not preserved in it.

Nevertheless there was a large field, larger even than in the next century, in which rationalizing was not only allowable, but was even required of him. In this there are three questions which Gregory has treated with particular fulness and originality. They are:--1. Evil; 2. The relation between the ideal and the actual Man; 3. Spirit.

I. He takes, to begin with, Origen's view of evil. Virtue and Vice are not opposed to each other as two Existencies: but as Being is opposed to not-Being. Vice exists only as an absence. But how did this arise?

In answering this question he seems sometimes to come very near Manicheism, and his writings must be read very carefully, in order to avoid fixing upon him the groundless charge that he leaves evil in too near connexion with Matter. But the passages [11] which give rise to this charge consist of comparisons found in his homilies and meditations; just as a modern theologian might in such works make the Devil the same as Sin and Death. The only imperfection in his view is that he is unable [12] to regard evil as not only suffered but even permitted by God. But this imperfection is inseparable from his time: for Manicheism was too near and its opposition too little overcome for such a view to be possible for him; he could not see that it is the only one able thoroughly to resist Dualism.

Evil with Gregory is to be found in the spontaneous proclivity of the soul towards Matter: but not in Matter itself. Matter, therefore, in his eschatology is not to be burnt up and annihilated: only soul and body have to be refined, as gold (this is a striking comparison) is refined. He is very clear upon the relations between the three factors, body, matter, and evil. He represents the mind as the mirror of the Archetypal Beauty: then below the mind comes body (phusis which is connected with mind and pervaded by it, and when thus transfigured and beautified by it becomes itself the mirror of this mirror: and then this body in its turn influences and combines Matter. The Beauty of the Supreme Being thus penetrates all things: and as long as the lower holds on to the higher all is well. But if a rupture occurs anywhere, then Matter, receiving no longer influence from above, reveals its own deformity, and imparts something of it to body and, through that, to mind: for matter is in itself `a shapeless unorganized thing [13] .' Thus the mind loses the image of God. But evil began when the rupture was made: and what caused that? When and how did the mind become separated from God?

Gregory answers this question by laying it down as a principle, that everything created is subject to change. The Uncreate Being is changeless, but Creation, since its very beginning was owing to a change, i.e. a calling of the non-existent into existence, is liable to alter. Gregory deals here with angelic equally as with human nature, and with all the powers in both, especially with the will, whose virtual freedom he assumes throughout. That, too, was created; therefore that, too, could change.

It was possible, therefore, that, first, one of the created spirits, and, as it actually happened, he who was entrusted with the supervision of the earth, should choose to turn his eyes away from the Good; he thus looked at a lower good; and so began to be envious and to have pathe. All evil followed in a chain from this beginning; according to the principle that the beginning of anything is the cause of all that follows in its train.

So the Devil fell: and the proclivity to evil was introduced into the spiritual world. Man, however, still looked to God and was filled with blessings (this is the `ideal man' of Gregory). But as when the flame has got hold of a wick one cannot dim its light by means of the flame itself, but only by mixing water with the oil in the wick, so the Enemy effected the weakening of God's blessings in man by cunningly mixing wickedness in his will, as he had mixed it in his own. From first to last, then, evil lies in the proairesis and in nothing else.

God knew what would happen and suffered it, that He might not destroy our freedom, the inalienable heritage of reason and therefore a portion of His image in us. [14] He `gave scope to evil for a nobler end.' Gregory calls it a piece of "little mindedness" to argue from evil either the weakness or the wickedness of God.

II. His remarks on the relation between the ideal and the actual Man are very interesting. It is usual with the other Fathers, in speaking of man's original perfection, to take the moment of the first man's residence in Paradise, and to regard the whole of human nature as there represented by the first two human beings. Gregory is far removed from this way of looking at the matter. With him human perfection is the `idea' of humanity: he sees already in the bodily-created Adam the fallen man. The present man is not to be distinguished from that bodily Adam; both fall below the ideal type. Gregory seems to put the Fall beyond and before the beginning of history. `Under the form of narrative Moses places before us mere doctrine [15] .' The locus classicus about the idea and the reality of human nature is On the Making of Man, I. p. 88f. He sketches both in a masterly way. He speaks of the division of the human race into male and female as a `device' (epitechnesis), implying that it was not the first `organization' (kataskeue). He hints that the irrational element was actually provided by the Creator, Who foresaw the Fall and the Redemption, for man to sin in; as if man immediately upon the creation of the perfect humanity became a mixed nature (spirit and flesh), and his fall was not a mere accident, but a necessary consequence of this mixed nature. Adam must have fallen: there was no perfect humanity in Paradise. In man's mixed nature of spirit and flesh nutrition is the basis of his sensation, and sensation is the basis of his thought; and so it was inevitable that sin through this lower yet vital side of man should enter in. So ingrained is the spirit with the flesh in the whole history of actual humanity that all the varieties of all the souls that ever have lived or ever shall, arise from this very mixture; i.e. from the varying degrees of either factor in each. But as Gregory's view here touches, though in striking contrast, on Origen's, more will be said about it in the next chapter.

It follows from this that Gregory, as Clement and Basil before him, did not look upon Original Sin as the accidental or extraordinary thing which it was afterwards regarded. `From a man who is a sinner and subject to passion of course is engendered a man who is a sinner and subject to passion: sin being in a manner born with him, and growing with his growth, and not dying with it.' And yet he says elsewhere, "An infant who is just born is not culpable, nor does it merit punishment; just as he who has been baptized has no account to give of his past sins, since they are forgiven," and he calls infants aponeroi, `not having in the least admitted the disease into their soul.' But these two views can of course be reconciled; the infant at the moment of its physical birth starts with sins forgotten, just as at the moment of its spiritual birth it starts with sins forgiven. No actual sin has been committed. But then its nature has lost the apatheia; the inevitable weakness of its ancestry is in it.

III. `Spirit.' Speaking of the soul, Gregory asks, `How can that which is incomposite be dissolved?' i.e. the soul is spirit, and spirit is incomposite and therefore indestructible.

But care must be taken not to infer too much from this his favourite expression `spirit' in connexion with the soul. `God is spirit' too; and we are inclined to forget that this is no more than a negative definition, and to imagine the human spirit of equal prerogative with Deity. Gregory gives no encouragement to this; he distinctly teaches that, though the soul is incomposite, it is not in the least independent of time and space, as the Deity is.

In fact he almost entirely drops the old Platonic division of the Universe into Intelligible (spiritual) and Sensible, which helps to keep up this confusion between human and divine `spirit,' and adopts the Christian division of Creator and Created. This difference between Creator and Created is further figured by him as that between

1. The Infinite and The Finite.

2. The Changeless and The Changeable.

3. The Contradiction-less and The Contradictory.

The result of this is that the Spirit-world itself has been divided into Uncreate and Created.

With regard, then, to this created Spirit-world we find that Gregory, as Basil, teaches that it existed, i.e. it had been created, before the work of the Six Days began. `God made all that is, at once' (athroos). This is only his translation of the verse, `In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;' the material for `heaven' and `earth,' i.e. spirits and chaos, was made in a moment, but God had not yet spoken the successive Words of creation. The souls of men, then, existed from the very beginning of creation, and in a determinate number; for this is a necessary consequence of the `simultaneous creation.' This was the case with the Angels too, the other portion of the created Spirit-world. Gregory has treated the subject of the Angels very fully. He considers that they are perfect: but their perfection too is contingent: it depends on the grace of God and their own wills; the angels are free, and therefore changeable. Their will necessarily moves towards something: at their first creation the Beautiful alone solicited them. Man `a little lower than the Angels' was perfect too; deathless, passionless, contemplative. `The true and perfect soul is single in its nature, intellectual, immaterial [16] .' He was `as the Angels' and if he fell, Lucifer fell too. Gregory will not say, as Origen did, that human souls had a body when first created: rather, as we have seen, he implies the contrary; and he came to be considered the champion that fought the doctrine of the pre-existence of embodied souls. He seems to have been influenced by Methodius' objections to Origen's view. But his magnificent idea of the first man gives way at once to something more Scriptural and at the same time more scientific; and his ideal becomes a downright forecast of Realism.

Taking, however, the human soul as it is, he still continues, we often find, to compare it with God. In his great treatise On the Soul and the Resurrection, he rests a great deal on the parallel between the relation of man to his body, and that of God to the world.--`The soul is as a cord drawn out of mud; God draws to Himself what is His own.'--He calls the human spirit `an influx of the divine in-breathing' (Adv. Apollin. c. 12). Anger and desire do not belong to the essence of the soul, he says: they are only among its varying states. The soul, then, as separable from matter, is like God. But this likeness does not extend to the point of identity. Incomprehensible, immortal, it is not uncreated. The distinction between the Creator and the Created cannot be obliterated. The attributes of the Creator set down above, i.e. that He is infinite, changeless, contradictionless, and so always good, &c., can be applied only catachrestically to some men, in that they resemble their Maker as a copy resembles its original: but still, in this connexion, Gregory does speak of those `who do not need any cleansing at all [17] ,' and the context forces us to apply these words to men. There is no irony, to him or to any Father of the fourth century, in the words, `They that are whole need not a physician.' Although in the treatise On Virginity, where he is describing the development of his own moral and religious life, he is very far from applying them to himself, he nevertheless seems to recognize the fact that since Christianity began there are those to whom they might apply.

There is also need of a certain amount of `rational considerations' in advancing a Defence and a Theory of Christianity. He makes this according to the special requirements of the time in his Oratio Catechetica. His reasonings do not seem to us always convincing; but the presence of a living Hellenism and Judaism in the world required them. These two phenomena also explain what appears to us a great weakness in this work: namely, that he treats Hellenism as if it were all speculation; Judaism as if it were all facts. These two religions were too near and too practically opposed to each other for him to see, as we can now, by the aid of a sort of science of religions, that every religion has its idea, and every religion has its facts. He and all the first Apologists, with the spectacle of these two apparently opposite systems before them, thought that, in arriving at the True Religion as well, all could be done by considering facts; or all could be done by speculation. Gregory chose the latter method. A Dogmatic in the modern sense, in which both the idea and the facts of Christianity flow into one, could not have been expected of him. The Oratio Catechetica is a mere philosophy of Christianity in detail written in the philosophic language of the time. Not only does he refrain from using the historic proofs, i.e. of prophecy and type (except very sparingly and only to meet an adversary), but his defence is insufficient from another point of view also; he hardly uses the moral proofs either; he wanders persistently in metaphysics.

If he does not lean enough on these two classes of proofs, at all events that he does not lean entirely on either, may be considered as a guarantee of his excellence as a theologian pure and simple. But he is on the other hand very far from attempting a philosophic construction of Christianity, as we have seen. Though akin to modern theologians in many things, he is unlike those of them who would construct an a priori Christianity, in which the relationship of one part to another is so close that all stands or falls together. Philosophic deduction is with him only `a kind of instruction' used in his apologetic works. On occasion he shows a clear perception of the historic principle. "The supernatural character of the Gospel miracles bears witness to their divine origin [18] ." He points, as Origen did, to the continued possession of miraculous powers in the Church. Again, as regards moral proof, there had been so much attempted that way by the Neo-Platonists that such proof could not have exactly the same degree of weight attributed to it that it has now, at least by an adherent of the newer Hellenism. Philostratus, Porphyry, Iamblichus had all tried to attract attention to the holy lives of heathen sages. Yet to these, rough sketches as they were, the Christian did oppose the Lives of the Saints: notably Gregory himself in the Life of Gregory Thaumaturgus: as Origen before him (c. Celsum, passim) had shewn in detail the difference in kind of Christian holiness.

His treatment of the Sacraments in the Oratio Catechetica is noteworthy. On Baptism he is very complete: it will be sufficient to notice here the peculiar proof he offers that the Holy Spirit is actually given in Baptism. It is the same proof, to start with, as that which establishes that God came in the flesh when Christ came. Miracles prove this; (he is not wanting here in the sense of the importance of History). If, then, we are persuaded that God is here, we must allow also that truth is here: for truth is the mark of Deity. When, therefore, God has said that He will come in a particular way, if called in a particular way, this must be true. He is so called in Baptism: therefore He comes. (The vital importance of the doctrine of the Trinity, upon which Gregory laboured for so many years, thus all comes from Baptism.) Gregory would not confine the entire force of Baptism to the one ritual act. A resurrection to a new immortal life is begun in Baptism, but owing to the weakness of nature this complete effect is separated into stages or parts. With regard to the necessity of Baptism for salvation, he says he does not know if the Angels receive the souls of the unbaptized; but he rather intimates that they wander in the air seeking rest, and entreat in vain like the Rich Man. To him who wilfully defers it he says, `You are out of paradise, O Catechumen!'

In treating the Sacrament of the Eucharist, Gregory was the first Father who developed the view of transformation, for which transubstantiation was afterwards substituted to suit the mediæval philosophy; that is, he put this view already latent into actual words. There is a locus classicusin the Oratio Catechetica, c. 37.

"Therefore from the same cause as that by which the bread that was transformed in that Body was changed to a divine potency, a similar result takes place now. For as in that case, too, the grace of the Word used to make holy the Body, the substance of which came of the bread and was in a manner itself bread, so also in this case the bread, as says the Apostle, `is sanctified by the word of God and prayer:' not that it advances by the process of eating to the stage of passing into the body of the Word, but it at once is changed into the Body, by the Word, as the Word Himself said, `This is My Body;'" and just above he had said: "Rightly do we believe that now also the bread which is consecrated by the word of God is changed into the body of God the Word." This way of explaining the mystery of the Sacrament, i.e. from the way bread was changed into the Word when Christ was upon earth, is compared by Neander with another way Gregory had of explaining it, i.e. the heightened efficacy of the bread is as the heightened efficacy of the baptismal water, the anointing oil [19] , &c., a totally different idea. But this, which may be called the metabatic view, is the one evidently most present to his mind. In a fragment of his found in a Parisian ms. [20] , quoted with the Liturgies of James, Basil, Chrysostom, we also find it; "The consecrated bread is changed into the body of the Word; and it is needful for humanity to partake of that."

Again, the necessity of the Incarnation, drawn from the words "it was necessary that Christ should suffer," receives a rational treatment from him. There must ever be, from a meditation on this, two results, according as the physical or the ethical element in Christianity prevails, i.e. 1. Propitiation; 2. Redemption. The first theory is dear to minds fed upon the doctrines of the Reformation, but it receives no countenance from Gregory. Only in the book in which Moses' Life is treated allegorically does he even mention it. The sacrifice of Christ instead of the bloody sacrifices of the Old Testament is not his doctrine, He develops his theory of the Redemption or Ransom (i.e. from the Devil), in the Oratio Catechetica. Strict justice to the Evil One required it. But in his hands this view never degenerates, as with some, into a mere battle, e.g. in Gethsemane, between the Rescuer and Enslaver.

So much has been said about Gregory's inconsistencies, and his apparent inconsistencies are indeed so many, that some attempt must be made to explain this feature, to some so repulsive, in his works. One instance at all events can show how it is possible to reconcile even the most glaring. He is not a one-sided theologian: he is not one of those who pass always the same judgment upon the same subject, no matter with whom he has to deal. There could not be a harsher contradiction than that between his statement about human generation in the Oratio Catechetica, and that made in the treatises On Virginity and On the Making of Man. In the O.C. everything hateful and undignified is removed from the idea of our birth; the idea of pathos is not applied; "only evil brings disgrace." But in the other two Treatises he represents generation as a consequence of the Fall. This contradiction arises simply from the different standpoint in each. In the one case he is apologetic; and so he adopts a universally recognised moral axiom. In the other he is the Christian theologian; the natural process, therefore, takes its colouring from the Christian doctrine of the Fall. This is the standpoint of most of his works, which are polemical, not apologetic. But in the treatise On the Soul and the Resurrection he introduces even a third view about generation, which might be called that of the Christian theosophist; i.e. generation is the means in the Divine plan for carrying Humanity to its completion. Very similar is the view in the treatise On Infants' Early Deaths; "the design of all births is that the Power which is above the universe may in all parts of the creation be glorified by means of intellectual natures conspiring to the same end, by virtue of the same faculty operating in all; I mean, that of looking upon God." Here he is speaking to the purely philosophic instinct. It may be remarked that on this and all the operations of Divine foreknowledge in vast world-wide relations he has constantly striking passages, and deserves for this especially to be studied.

The style of Gregory is much more elegant than that of Basil: sometimes it may be called eloquent. His occasional digressions did not strike ancient critics as a fault. To them he is "sweet," "bright," "dropping pleasure into the ears." But his love for splendour, combined with the lateness of his Greek, make him one of the more difficult Church writers to interpret accurately.

His similes and illustrations are very numerous, and well chosen. A few exceptions must, perhaps, be made. He compares the mere professing Christian to the ape, dressed like a man and dancing to the flute, who used to amuse the people in the theatre at Alexandria, but once revealed during the performance its bestial nature, at the sight of food. This is hardly worthy of a great writer, as Gregory was [21] . Especially happy are his comparisons in the treatise On the Soul and Resurrection, by which metaphysical truths are expressed; and elsewhere those by which he seeks to reach the due proportions of the truth of the Incarnation. The chapters in his work against Eunomius where he attempts to depict the Infinite, are striking. But what commends him most to modern taste is his power of description when dealing with facts, situations, persons: he touches these always with a colour which is felt to be no exaggeration, but the truth.


Footnotes

[9] Cp. Or. Cat. c. xi. [10] In verba `faciamus hominem,' I. p. 140. [11] De Perf. Christiani Forma, III. p. 294, he calls the `Prince of darkness' the author of sin and death: In Christi Resurrect. III. p. 386, he calls Satan `the heart of the earth:' and p. 387 identifies him with sin. `And so the real wisdom visits that arrogant heart of the earth, so that the thought great in wickedness should vanish, and the darkness should be lightened, &c.' [12] As expressed by S. Thomas Aquinas Summ. I. Qu. xix. Art. 9, Deo nec nolente, nec volente, sed permittente....Deus neque vult fieri, neque vult non fieri, sed vult permittere mala fieri. [13] De Virginit. c. xi. [14] On Infants' early Deaths, III. p. 336. [15] Or. Cat. c. viii. D. [16] On the Making of Man, c. xiv. [17] Or. Cat. c. xxvi. [18] Or. Cat. c. iii. [19] In Sermon On the Baptism of Christ. [20] A. 1560 fol.; also Antwerp, p. 1562 (Latinè). [21] His comparison of the hidden meaning of the proverb or parable (III. c. Eunom. p. 236) to the `turned up' side of the peacock's feather is beautiful in itself for language (e.g. `the varied painting of nature,' `the half-circle shining in the midst with its dye of purple,' `the golden mist round the circle'): but it rather fails as a simile, when applied to the other or the literal side, which cannot in the case of parables be said to `lack beauty and tint'.


Chapter III.--His Origenism.

A true estimate of the position and value of Gregory as a Church teacher cannot be formed until the question of his `Origenism,' its causes and its quality, is cleared up. It is well known that this charge began to be brought against his orthodoxy at all events after the time of Justinian: nor could Germanus, the Patriarch of Constantinople in the next century, remove it by the device of supposed interpolations of partizans in the interests of the Eastern as against the Western Church: for such a theory, to be true, would still require some hints at all events in this Father to give a colour to such interpolations. Moreover, as will be seen, the points in which Gregory is most like Origen are portions of the very groundwork of his own theology. The question, then, remains why, and how far, is he a follower of Origen?

I. When we consider the character of his great forerunner, and the kind of task which Gregory himself undertook, the first part of this question is easily answered. When Christian doctrine had to be set forth philosophically, so as to be intelligible to any cultivated mind of that time (to reconcile Greek philosophy with Christian doctrine was a task which Gregory never dreamed of attempting), the example and leader in such an attempt was Origen; he occupied as it were the whole horizon. He was the founder of theology; the very vocabulary of it, which is in use now, is of his devising. So that Gregory's language must have had, necessarily, a close connexion with that of the great interpreter and apologist, who had explained to his century the same truths which Gregory had to explain to his: this must have been the case even if his mind had not been as spiritual and idealizing as Origen's. But in some respects it will be seen Gregory is even more an idealist than Origen himself. Alike, then, from purpose and tradition as from sympathy he would look back to Origen. Though a gulf was between them, and, since the Council of Nicæa, there were some things that could come no more into controversy, Gregory saw, where the Church had not spoken, with the same eyes as Origen: he uses the same keys as he did for the problems which Scripture has not solved; he uses the same great weapon of allegory in making the letter of Scripture give up the spiritual treasures. It could not have been otherwise when the whole Christian religion, which Gregory was called on to defend as a philosophy, had never before been systematically so defended but by Origen; and this task, the same for both, was presented to the same type of mind, in the same intellectual atmosphere. It would have been strange indeed if Gregory had not been a pupil at least (though he was no blind follower) of Origen.

If we take for illustration of this the most vital point in the vast system, if system it can be called, of Origen, we shall see that he had traced fundamental lines of thought, which could not in that age be easily left. He asserts the virtual freedom of the human will, in every stage and condition of human existence. The Greek philosophy of the third century, and the semi-pagan Gnosticism, in their emanational view of the world, denied this freedom. With them the mind of man, as one of the emanations of Deity itself, was, as much as the matter of which the world was made, regulated and governed directly from the Source whence they both flowed. Indeed every system of thought, not excepting Stoicism, was struck with the blight of this fatalism. There was no freedom for man at all but in the system which Origen was drawing from, or rather reading into, the Scriptures. No Christian philosopher who lived amongst the same counter-influences as Origen could overlook this starting-point of his system; he must have adopted it, even if the danger of Pelagianism had been foreseen in it; which could not have been the case.

Gregory adopted it, with the other great doctrine which in the mind of Origen accompanied it; i.e., that evil is caused, not by matter, but by the act of this free will of man; in other words, by sin. Again the fatalism of all the emanationists had to be combated as to the nature and necessity of evil. With them evil was some inevitable result of the Divine processes; it abode at all events in matter, and human responsibility was at an end. Greek philosophy from first to last had shewed, even at its best, a tendency to connect evil with the lower phusis. But now, in the light of revelation, a new truth was set forth, and repeated again and again by the very men who were inclined to adopt Plato's rather Dualistic division of the world into the intelligible and sensible. `Evil was due to an act of the will of man.' Moreover it could no longer be regarded per se: it was relative, being a `default,' or `failure,' or `turning away from the true good' of the will, which, however, was always free to rectify this failure. It was a steresis,--loss of the good; but it did not stand over against the good as an independent power. Origen contemplated the time when evil would cease to exist; `the non-existent cannot exist for ever:' and Gregory did the same.

This brings us to yet another consequence of this enthusiasm for human freedom and responsibility, which possessed Origen, and carried Gregory away. The apokatastasis ton panton has been thought [22] , in certain periods of the Church, to have been the only piece of Origenism with which Gregory can be charged. [This of course shows ignorance of the kind of influence which Gregory allowed Origen to have over him; and which did not require him to select even one isolated doctrine of his master.] It has also brought him into more suspicion than any other portion of his teaching. Yet it is a direct consequence of the view of evil, which he shares with Origen. If evil is the non-existent, as his master says, a steresis, [23] as he says, then it must pass away. It was not made by God; neither is it self-subsisting.

But when it has passed away, what follows? That God will be "all in all." Gregory accepts the whole of Origen's explanation of this great text. Both insist on the impossibility of God being in `everything,' if evil still remains. But this is equivalent to the restoration to their primitive state of all created spirits. Still it must be remembered that Origen required many future stages of existence before all could arrive at such a consummation: with him there is to be more than one `next world;' and even when the primitive perfection is reached, his peculiar view of the freedom of the will, as an absolute balance between good and evil, would admit the possibility of another fall. `All may be saved; and all may fall.' How the final Sabbath shall come in which all wills shall rest at last is but dimly hinted at in his writings. With Gregory, on the other hand, there are to be but two worlds: the present and the next; and in the next the apokatastasis ton panton must be effected. Then, after the Resurrection, the fire akoimetos, aionios, as he continually calls it, will have to do its work. `The avenging flame will be the more ardent the more it has to consume' (De Animâ et Resurr., p. 227). `But at last the evil will be annihilated, and the bad saved by nearness to the good.' There is to rise a giving of thanks from all nature. Nevertheless [24] passages have been adduced from Gregory's writings in which the language of Scripture as to future punishment is used without any modification, or hint of this universal salvation. In the treatise, De Pauperibus Amandis, II. p. 240, he says of the last judgment that God will give to each his due; repose eternal to those who have exercised pity and a holy life; but the eternal punishment of fire for the harsh and unmerciful: and addressing the rich who have made a bad use of their riches, he says, `Who will extinguish the flames ready to devour you and engulf you? Who will stop the gnawings of a worm that never dies?' Cf. also Orat. 3, de Beatitudinibus, I. p. 788: contra Usuarios, II. p. 233: though the hortatory character of these treatises makes them less important as witnesses.

A single doctrine or group of doctrines, however, may be unduly pressed in accounting for the influence of Origen upon a kindred spirit like Gregory. Doubtless fragments of Origen's teaching, mere details very often, were seized upon and appropriated by others; they were erected into dogmas and made to do duty for the whole living fabric; and even those details were sometimes misunderstood. ` [25] What he had said with a mind full of thought, others took in the very letter.' Hence arose the evil of `Origenism,' so prevalent in the century in which Gregory lived. Different ways of following him were found, bad and good. Even the Arians could find in his language now and then something they could claim as their own. But as Rupp well says, `Origen is not great by virtue of those particular doctrines, which are usually exhibited to the world as heretical by weak heads who think to take the measure of everything with the mere formulæ of orthodoxy. He is great by virtue of one single thought, i.e. that of bringing philosophy into union with religion, and thereby creating a theology. With Clement of Alexandria this thought was a mere instinct: Origen gave it consciousness: and so Christendom began to have a science of its own.' It was this single purpose, visible in all Origen wrote, that impressed itself so deeply upon Gregory. He, too, would vindicate the Scriptures as a philosophy. Texts, thanks to the labours of Origen as well as to the councils of the Church, had now acquired a fixed meaning and an importance that all could acknowledge. The new spiritual philosophy lay within them; he would make them speak its language. Allegory was with him, just as with Origen, necessary, in order to find the Spirit which inspires them. The letter must not impose itself upon us and stand for more than it is worth; just as the practical experience of evil in the world must not blind us to the fact that it is only a passing dispensation. If only the animus and intention is regarded, we may say that all that Gregory wrote was Origenistic.

II. But nevertheless much had happened in the interval of 130 years that divides them and this leads us to consider the limits which the state of the Church, as well as Gregory's own originality and more extended physical knowledge, placed upon the complete filling in of the outlines sketched by the master. First and chiefly, Origen's doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul could not be retained; and we know that Gregory not only abandoned it, but attacked it with all his powers of logic in his treatise, De Animâ et Resurrectione: for which he receives the applause of the Emperor Justinian. Souls, according to Origen, had pre-existed from eternity: they were created certainly, but there never was a time when they did not exist: so that the procession even of the Holy Spirit could in thought only be prior to their existence. Then a failure of their free wills to grasp the true good, and a consequent cooling of the fire of love within them, plunged them in this material bodily existence, which their own sin made a suffering one. This view had certainly great merits: it absolved the Deity from being the author of evil, and so was a `théodicée;' it entirely got rid of the two rival principles, good and evil, of the Gnostics; and it avoided the seeming incongruity of what was to last for ever in the future being not eternal in the past. Why then was it rejected? Not only because of the objection urged by Methodius, that the addition of a body would be no remedy but rather an increase of the sin; or that urged amongst many others by Gregory, that a vice cannot be regarded as the precursor of the birth of each human soul into this or into other worlds; but more than that and chiefly, because such a doctrine contravened the more distinct views now growing up as to what the Christian creation was, and the more careful definitions also of the Trinity now embodied in the creeds. In fact the pre-existence of the soul was wrapped up in a cosmogony that could no longer approve itself to the Christian consciousness. In asserting the freedom of the will, and placing in the will the cause of evil, Origen had so far banished emanationism; but in his view of the eternity of the world, and in that of the eternal pre-existence of souls which accompanied it, he had not altogether stamped it out. He connects rational natures so closely with the Deity that each individual logos seems almost, in a Platonic way, to lie in the Divine which [26] he styles ousia ousion, idea ideon. They are `partial brightnesses (apaugasmapa) of the glory of God.' He [27] allows them, of course, to have been created in the Scriptural sense of that word, which is certainly an advance upon Justin; but his creation is not that distinct event in time which Christianity requires and the exacter treatment of the nature of the Divine Persons had now developed. His creation, both the intelligible and visible world, receives from him an eternity which is unnatural and incongruous in relation to his other speculations and beliefs: it lingers, Tithonus-like, in the presence of the Divine Persons, without any meaning and purpose for its life; it is the last relic of Paganism, as it were, in a system which is otherwise Christian to the very core. His strenuous effort to banish all ideas of time, at all events from the intelligible world, ended in this eternal creation of that world; which seemed to join the eternally generated Son too closely to it, and gave occasion to the Arians to say that He too was a ktisma. This eternal pre-existence in fact almost destroyed the idea of creation, and made the Deity in a way dependent on His own world. Athanasius, therefore, and his followers were roused to separate the divinity of the Son from everything created. The relation of the world to God could no longer be explained in the same terms as those which they employed to illustrate the relations between the Divine Persons; and when once the doctrine of the consubstantiality of the Father and Son had been accepted and firmly established there could be no more favour shown by the defenders of that doctrine to the merely Platonic view of the nature and origin of souls and of matter.

Amongst the defenders of the Creed of Nicæa, Gregory, we know, stands well-nigh foremost. In his long and numerous treatises on the Trinity he employs every possible argument and illustration to show the contents of the substance of the Deity as transcendent, incommunicable to creation per se. Souls cannot have the attributes of Deity. Created spirits cannot claim immediate kindred with the Logos. So instead of the Platonic antithesis of the intelligible and sensible world, which Origen adopted, making all equal in the intelligible world, he brings forward the antithesis of God and the world. He felt too that that antithesis answers more fully not only to the needs of the Faith in the Trinity daily growing more exact and clear, but also to the facts of the Creation, i.e. its variety and differences. He gives up the preexistence of the rational soul; it will not explain the infinite variety observable in souls. The variety, again, of the material world, full as it is of the miracles of divine power, cannot have been the result of the chance acts of created natures embodying themselves therein, which the theory of pre-existence supposes. God and the created world (of spirits and matter) are now to be the factors in theology; although Gregory does now and then, for mere purposes of illustration, divide the Universe still into the intelligible and the sensible.

When once pre-existence was given up, the parts of the soul could be more closely united to each other, because the lower and higher were in their beginning no longer separated by a gulf of ages. Accordingly Gregory, reducing the three parts of man which Origen had used to the simpler division into visible and invisible (sensible and intelligible), dwells much upon the intimate relation between the two and the mutual action of one upon the other. Origen had retained the trichotomy of Plato which other Greek Fathers also, with the sanction, as they supposed, of S. Paul (1 Thess. v. 23), had adopted. `Body,' `soul,' and `spirit,' or Plato's `body,' `unreasoning' and `reasoning soul,' had helped Origen to explain how the last, the pre-existent soul (the spirit, or the conscience [28] , as he sometimes calls it) could ever have come to live in the flesh. The second, the soul proper, is as it were a mediating ground on which the spirit can meet the flesh. The celestial mind, `the real man fallen from on high,' rules by the power of conscience or of will over this soul, where the merely animal functions and the natural appetites reside; and through this soul over the body. How the celestial mind can act at all upon this purely animal soul which lies between it and the body, Origen leaves unexplained. But this division was necessary for him, in order to represent the spirit as remaining itself unchanged in its heavenly nature, though weakened by its long captivity in the body. The middle soul (in which he sometimes places the will) is the scene of contamination and disorder; the spirit is free, it can always rejoice at what is well done in the soul, and yet is not touched by the evil in it; it chooses, convicts, and punishes. Such was Origen's psychology. But an intimate connexion both in birth and growth between all the faculties of man is one of Gregory's most characteristic thoughts, and he gave up this trichotomy, which was still, however, retained by some Greek fathers, and adopted the simpler division mentioned above in order more clearly and concisely to show the mutual play of spirit and body upon each other. There was soon, too, another reason why this trichotomy should be suspected. It was a second time made the vehicle of error. Apollinaris adopted it, in order to expound that the Divine Logos took the place, in the tripartite soul of Christ, of the `reasonable soul' or spirit of other men. Gregory, in pressing for a simpler treatment of man's nature, thus snatched a vantage-ground from a sagacious enemy. His own psychology is only one instance of a tendency which runs through the whole of his system, and which may indeed be called the dominating thought with which he approached every question; he views each in the light of form and matter; spirit penetrating and controlling body, body answering to spirit and yet at the same time supplying the nutriment upon which the vigour and efficacy of spirit, in this world at least, depends. This thought underlies his view of the material universe and of Holy Scripture, as well as of man's nature. With regard to the last he says, `the intelligible cannot be realized in body at all, except it be commingled with sensation;' and again, `as there can be no sensation without a material substance, so there can be no exercise of the power of thought without sensation [29] .' The spiritual or intelligent part of man (which he calls by various names, such as `the inner man,' the psuche logike, nous or dianoia, to zoopoion aition, or simply psuche as throughout the treatise On the Soul), however alien in its essence from the bodily and sentient part, yet no sooner is united with this earthly part than it at once exerts power over it. In fact it requires this instrument before it can reach its perfection. `Seeing, then, man is a reasoning animal of a certain kind, it was necessary that the body should be prepared as an instrument appropriate to the needs of his reason [30] .' So closely has this reason been united with the senses and the flesh that it performs itself the functions of the animal part; it is the `mind' or `reason' itself that sees, hears, &c.; in fact the exercise of mind depends on a sound state of the senses and other organs of the body; for a sick body cannot receive the `artistic' impressions of the mind and, so, the mind remains inoperative. This is enough to show how far Gregory had got from pre-existence and the `fall into the prison of the flesh.'

His own theory of the origin of the soul, or at least that to which he visibly inclines, is stated in the treatise, De Animâ et Resurrectione, p. 241. It is that of Tertullian and some Greek Fathers also: and goes by the name of `traducianism.' The soul is transmitted in the generating seed. This of course is the opposite pole to Origen's teaching, and is inconsistent with Gregory's own spiritualism. The other alternative, Creationism, which a number of the orthodox adopted, namely that souls are created by God at the moment of conception, or when the body of the foetus is already formed, was not open to him to adopt; because, according to him, in idea the world of spirits was made, and in a determinate number, along with the world of unformed matter by the one creative act `in the beginning.' In the plan of the universe, though not in reality as with Origen, all souls are already created. So the life of humanity contains them: when the occasion comes they take their beginning along with the body which enshrines them, but are not created then any more than that body. Such was the compromise between spiritualism and materialism to which Gregory was driven by the difficulties of the subject. Origen with his eye unfalteringly fixed upon the ideal world, and unconscious of the practical consequences that might be drawn from his teaching, cut the knot with his eternal pre-existence of souls, which avoided at once the alleged absurdity of creationism and the grossness of traducianism. But the Church, for higher interests still than those of pure idealism, had to reject that doctrine; and Gregory, with his extended knowledge in physic and his close observation of the intercommunion of mind and body, had to devise or rather select a theory which, though a makeshift, would not contradict either his knowledge or his faith.

Yet after admitting that soul and body are born together and attaching such importance to the `physical basis' of life and thought, the influence of his master, or else his own uncontrollable idealism, carries him away again in the opposite direction. After reading words in his treatise which Locke might have written we come upon others which are exactly the teaching of Berkeley. There is a passage in the De Animâ et Resurrectione where he deals with the question how an intelligent Being could have created matter, which is neither intelligent or intelligible. But what if matter is only a concourse of qualities, ennoiai, or psila noemata as he elsewhere calls them? Then there would be no difficulty in understanding the manner of creation. But even about this we can say so much, i.e. that not one of those things which we attribute to body is itself body: neither figure, nor colour, nor weight, nor extension, nor quantity, nor any other qualifying notion whatever: but every one of them is a thought: it is the combination of them all into a single whole that constitutes body. Seeing, then, that these several qualifications which complete the particular body are grasped by thought alone, and not by sense, and that the Deity is a thinking being, what trouble can it be to such a thinking agent to produce the thoughts whose mutual combination generate for us the substance of that body? and in the treatise, De Hom. Opif., c. 24, the intelligible phusis is said to produce the intelligible dunameis, and the concourse of these dunameis brings into being the material nature. The body itself, he repeats (contra Fatum, p. 67), is not a real substance; it is a soulless, unsubstantial thing. The only real creation is that of spirits. Even Origen did not go so far as that Matter with him, though it exists by concomitance and not by itself, nevertheless really exists. He avoided a rock upon which Gregory runs; for with Gregory not only matter but created spirit as well vanish in idealism. There remain with him only the nooumena and God.

This transcendent idealism embarrasses him in many ways, and makes his theory of the soul full of inconsistency. (1) He will not say unhesitatingly whether that pure humanity in the beginning created in the image of God had a body or not like ours. Origen at all events says that the eternally pre-existing spirits were invested with a body, even before falling into the sensible world. But Gregory, while denying the pre-existence of souls in the sense of Origen, yet in many of his treatises, especially in the De Hom. Opificio, seems to point to a primitive humanity, a predeterminate number of souls destined to live in the body though they had not yet lived, which goes far beyond Origen's in its ideal character. "When Moses," Gregory says, "speaks of the soul as the image of God, he shows that all that is alien to God must be excluded from our definition of the soul; and a corporal nature is alien to God." He points out that God first `made man in His own image,' and after that made them male and female; so that there was a double fashioning of our nature, he te pros to theion homoiomene, he te pros ten diaphoran tauten (i.e. male and female) dieremene. On the other hand, in the Oratio Catechetica, which contains certainly his more dogmatic statement on every point, this ideal and passionless humanity is regarded as still in the future: and it is represented that man's double-nature is actually the very centre of the Divine Councils, and not the result of any mistake or sin; man's soul from the very first was commingled (anakrasis is Gregory's favourite word) with a body, in order that in him, as representing every stage of living things, the whole creation, even in its lowest part, might share in the divine. Man, as the paragon of animals, was necessary, in order that the union might be effected between two otherwise irreconcilable worlds, the intelligible and the sensible. Though, therefore, there was a Fall at last, it was not the occasion of man's receiving a body similar to animals; that body was given him at the very first, and was only preparatory to the Fall, which was foreseen in the Divine Councils and provided for. Both the body and the Fall were necessary in order that the Divine plan might be carried out, and the Divine glory manifested in creation. In this view the "coats of skins" which Gregory inherits from the allegorical treasures of Origen are no longer merely the human body itself, as with Origen, but all the passions, actions, and habits of that body after the Fall, which he sums up in the generic term pathe. If, then, there is to be any reconciliation between this and the former view of his in which the pure unstained humanity, the `image of God,' is differentiated by a second act of creation as it were into male and female, we must suppose him to teach that immediately upon the creation in God's image there was added all that in human nature is akin to the merely animal world. In that man was God's image, his will was free, but in that he was created, he was able to fall from his high estate; and God, foreseeing the Fall, at once added the distinction of sex, and with it the other features of the animal which would befit the fall; but with the purpose of raising thereby the whole creation. But two great counter-influences seem always to be acting upon Gregory; the one sympathy with the speculations of Origen, the other a tendency to see even with a modern insight into the closeness of the intercommunion between soul and body. The results of these two influences cannot be altogether reconciled. His ideal and his actual man, each sketched with a skilful and discriminating hand, represent the interval that divides his aspirations from his observations: yet both are present to his mind when he writes about the soul. (2) He does not alter, as Origen does, the traditional belief in the resurrection of the body, and yet his idealism, in spite of his actual and strenuous defence of it in the carefully argued treatise On the Soul and Resurrection, renders it unnecessary, if not impossible. We know that his faith impelled Origen, too, to [31] contend for the resurrection of the flesh: yet it is an almost forced importation into the rest of his system. Our bodies, he teaches, will rise again: but that which will make us the same persons we were before is not the sameness of our bodies (for they will be ethereal, angelic, uncarnal, &c.) but the sameness of a logos within them which never dies (logos tis enkeitai to somati, aph' hou me phtheiromenou egeiretai to soma en aphtharsi& 139;, c. Cels. v. 23). Here we have the logoi spermatikoi; which Gregory objected to as somehow connected in his mind with the infinite plurality of worlds. Yet his own account of the Resurrection of the flesh is nothing but Origenism, mitigated by the suppression of these logoi. With him, too, matter is nothing, it is a negative thing that can make and effect nothing: the soul, the zotike dunamis does everything; it is gifted by him with a sort of ubiquity after death. `Nothing can break its sympathetic union with the particles of the body.' It is not a long and difficult study for it to discern in the mass of elements that which is its own from that which is not its own. `It watches over its property, as it were, until the Resurrection, when it will clothe itself in them anew [32] .' It is only a change of names: the logos has become this zotike dunamis or psuche, which seems itself, almost unaided, to effect the whole Resurrection. Though he teaches as against Origen that the `elements' are the same `elements,' the body the same body as before, yet the strange importance both in activity and in substance which he attaches to the psuche even in the disembodied state seems to render a Resurrection of the flesh unnecessary. Here, too, his view of the plan of Redemption is at variance with his idealistic leanings. While Origen regarded the body, as it now is, as part of that `vanity' placed upon the creature which was to be laid aside at last, Gregory's view of the design of God in creating man at all absolutely required the Resurrection of the flesh [33] (hos an sunepartheie to thei& 251; to ge& 187;non). Creation was to be saved by man's carrying his created body into a higher world: and this could only be done by a resurrection of the flesh such as the Church had already set forth in her creed.

Again, however, after parting with Origen upon this point, he meets him in the ultimate contemplation of Christ's glorified humanity and of all glorified bodies. Both steadily refuse at last `to know Christ according to the flesh.' They depict His humanity as so absorbed in deity that all traces of His bodily nature vanish; and as with Christ, so finally with His true followers. This is far indeed from the Lamb that was slain, and the vision of S. John. In this heaven of theirs all individual or generic differences between rational creatures necessarily cease.

Great, then, as are their divergences, especially in cosmogony, their agreements are maintained throughout. Gregory in the main accepts Origen's teaching, as far as he can accommodate it to the now more outspoken faith of the Church. What [34] Redepenning summarises as the groundplan of Origen's whole way of thinking, Gregory has, with the necessary changes, appropriated. Both regard the history of the world as a movement between a beginning and an end in which are united every single spiritual or truly human nature in the world, and the Divine nature. This interval of movement is caused by the falling away of the free will of the creature from the divine: but it will come to an end, in order that the former union may be restored. In this summary they would differ only as to the closeness of the original union. Both, too, according to this, would regard `man' as the final cause, and the explanation, and the centre of God's plan in creation.

Even in the special sphere of theology which the later needs of the Church forced into prominence, and which Gregory has made peculiarly his own, that of the doctrine of the Trinity, Gregory employs sometimes a method which he has caught from Origen. Origen supposes, not so much, as Plato did, that things below are images of things above, as that they have certain secret analogies or affinities with them. This is perhaps after all only a peculiar application for his own purpose of Plato's theory of ideas. There are mysterious sympathies between the earth and heaven. We must therefore read within ourselves the reflection of truths which are too much beyond our reach to know in themselves. With regard to the attributes of God this is more especially the case. But Origen never had the occasion to employ this language in explaining the mystery of the Trinity. Gregory is the first Father who has done so. He finds a key to it in the [35] triple nature of our soul. The nous, the logos, and the soul, form within us a unity such as that of the Divine hypostases. Gregory himself confesses that such thoughts about God are inadequate, and immeasurably below their object: but he cannot be blamed for employing this method, as if it was entirely superficial. Not only does this instance illustrate trinity in unity, but we should have no contents for our thought about the Father, Son, and Spirit, if we found no outlines at all of their nature within ourselves. Denis [36] well says that the history of the doctrine of the Trinity confirms this: for the advanced development of the theory of the logos, a purely human attribute in the ancient philosophy, was the cause of the doctrine of the Son being so soon and so widely treated: and the doctrine of the Holy Spirit came into prominence only when He began to be regarded as the principle of the purely human or moral life, as Love, that is, or Charity. Gregory, then, had reason in recommending even a more systematic use of the method which he had received from Origen: `Learn from the things within thee to know the secret of God; recognise from the Triad within thee the Triad by means of these matters which you realise: it is a testimony above and more sure than that of the Law and the Gospel [37] .'

He carries out elsewhere also more thoroughly than Origen this method of reading parables. He is an actual Mystic in this. The mysterious but real correspondences between earth and heaven, upon which, Origen had taught, and not upon mere thoughts or the artifices of language, the truth of a parable rests, Gregory employed, in order to penetrate the meaning of the whole of external nature. He finds in its facts and appearances analogies with the energies, and through them with the essence, of God. They are not to him merely indications of the wisdom which caused them and ordered them, but actual symptoms of the various energies which reside in the essence of the Supreme Being; as though that essence, having first been translated into the energies, was through them translated into the material creation; which was thus an earthly language saying the same thing as the heavenly language, word for word. The whole world thus became one vast allegory [38] : and existed only to manifest the qualities of the Unseen. Akin to this peculiar development of the parable is another characteristic of his, which is alien to the spirit of Origen; his delight in natural scenery, his appreciation of it, and power of describing it.

With regard to the question, so much agitated, of the 'Apokatastasis, it may be said that not Gregory only but Basil and Gregory Nazianzen also have felt the influence of their master in theology, Origen. But it is due to the latter to say that though he dwells much on the "all in all" and insists much more on the sanctifying power of punishment than on the satisfaction owed to Divine justice, yet no one could justly attribute to him, as a doctrine, the view of a Universal Salvation. Still these Greek Fathers, Origen and `the three great Cappadocians,' equally showed a disposition of mind that left little room for the discussions that were soon to agitate the West. Their infinite hopes, their absolute confidence in the goodness of God, who owes it to Himself to make His work perfect, their profound faith in the promises and sacrifice of Christ, as well as in the vivifying action of the Holy Spirit, make the question of Predestination and Grace a very simple one with them. The word Grace occurs as often in them as in Augustine: but they do not make original sin a monstrous innovation requiring a remedy of a peculiar and overwhelming intensity. Passion indeed seems to Gregory of Nyssa himself one of the essential elements of the human soul. He borrows from the naturalists many principles of distinction between classes of souls and lives: he insists incessantly on the intimate connexion between the physical growth and the development of the reason, and on the correlation between the one and the other: and we arrive at the conclusion that man in his eyes, as in Clement's, was not originally perfect, except in possibility; that being at once reasoning and sentient he must perforce feel within himself the struggle of reason and passion, and that it was inevitable that sin should enter into the world: it was a consequence of his mixed nature. This mixed nature of the first man was transmitted to his descendants. Here, though he stands apart from Origen on the question of man's original perfection, he could not have accepted the whole Augustinian scheme of original sin: and Grace as the remedy with him consists rather in the purging this mixed nature, than in the introduction into it of something absolutely foreign. The result, as with all the Greek Fathers, will depend on the co-operation of the free agent in this remedial work. Predestination and the `bad will' are excluded by the Possibility and the `free will' of Origen and Gregory.


Footnotes

[22] Cf. Dallæus, de poenis et satisfactionibus, I. IV. c. 7, p. 368. [23] Cf. De An. et Resurr., 227 C.D. [24] Collected by Ceillier in his Introduction (Paris, 1860). [25] Bunsen. [26] c. Cels. VI. 64. [27] In Joann., tom. 32, 18. [28] Comment. in Rom. ii. 9, p. 486. [29] De Hom. Op. c. viii.; De An. et Resurr. 205. [30] De Hom. Op. c. viii. [31] He does so De Principiis I. præf. 5. C. Cels. II. 77, VIII. 49 sq. [32] De Anim. et Resurrectione, p. 198, 199, 213 sq. [33] Oratio Cat. 55 A. [34] Orig. II. 314 sq. [35] This is an independent division to that mentioned above. [36] De la Philosophie D'Origéne (Paris, 1884). [37] De eo quod immut., p. 30. [38] See De iis qui præmature abripiuntur, p. 231, quoted above, p. 4.


Chapter IV.--His Teaching on the Holy Trinity.

To estimate the exact value of the work done by S. Gregory in the establishment of the doctrine of the Trinity and in the determination, so far as Eastern Christendom is concerned, of the terminology employed for the expression of that doctrine, is a task which can hardly be satisfactorily carried out. His teaching on the subject is so closely bound up with that of his brother, S. Basil of Cæsarea,--his "master," to use his own phrase,--that the two can hardly be separated with any certainty. Where a disciple, carrying on the teaching he has himself received from another, with perhaps almost imperceptible variations of expression, has extended the influence of that teaching and strengthened its hold on the minds of men, it must always be a matter of some difficulty to discriminate accurately between the services which the two have rendered to their common cause, and to say how far the result attained is due to the earlier, how far to the later presentment of the doctrine. But the task of so discriminating between the work of S. Basil and that of S. Gregory is rendered yet more complicated by the uncertainty attaching to the authorship of particular treatises which have been claimed for both. If, for instance, we could with certainty assign to S. Gregory that treatise on the terms ousia and hupostasis, which Dorner treats as one of the works by which he "contributed materially to fix the uncertain usage of the Church [39] ," but which is found also among the works of S. Basil in the form of a letter addressed to S. Gregory himself, we should be able to estimate the nature and the extent of the influence of the Bishop of Nyssa much more definitely than we can possibly do while the authorship of this treatise remains uncertain. Nor does this document stand alone in this respect, although it is perhaps of more importance for the determination of such a question than any other of the disputed treatises. Thus in the absence of certainty as to the precise extent to which S. Gregory's teaching was directly indebted to that of his brother, it seems impossible to say how far the "fixing of the uncertain usage of the Church" was due to either of them singly. That together they did contribute very largely to that result is beyond question: and it is perhaps superfluous to endeavour to separate their contributions, especially as there can be little doubt that S. Gregory at least conceived himself to be in agreement with S. Basil upon all important points, if not to be acting simply as the mouth-piece of his "master's" teaching, and as the defender of the statements which his "master" had set forth against possible misconceptions of their meaning. Some points, indeed, there clearly were, in which S. Gregory's presentment of the doctrine differs from that of S. Basil; but to these it may be better to revert at a later stage, after considering the more striking variation which their teaching displays from the language of the earlier Nicene school as represented by S. Athanasius.

The council held at Alexandria in the year 362, during the brief restoration of S. Athanasius, shows us at once the point of contrast and the substantial agreement between the Western school, with which S. Athanasius himself is in this matter to be reckoned, and the Eastern theologians to whom has been given the title of "Neo-Nicene." The question at issue was one of language, not of belief; it turned upon the sense to be attached to the word hupostasis. The Easterns, following a use of the term which may be traced perhaps to the influence of Origen, employed the word in the sense of the Latin "Persona," and spoke of the Three Persons as treis hupostaseis, whereas the Latins employed the term "hypostasis" as equivalent to "sub-stantia," to express what the Greeks called ousia,--the one Godhead of the Three Persons. With the Latins agreed the older school of the orthodox Greek theologians, who applied to the Three Persons the phrase tria prosopa, speaking of the Godhead as mia hupostasis. This phrase, in the eyes of the newer Nicene school, was suspected of Sabellianism [40] , while on the other hand the Westerns were inclined to regard the Eastern phrase treis hupostaseis as implying tritheism. The synodal letter sets forth to us the means by which the fact of substantial agreement between the two schools was brought to light, and the understanding arrived at, that while Arianism on the one hand and Sabellianism on the other were to be condemned, it was advisable to be content with the language of the Nicene formula, which employed neither the phrase mia hupostasis nor the phrase treis hupostaseis [41] . This resolution, prudent as it may have been for the purpose of bringing together those who were in real agreement, and of securing that the reconciled parties should, at a critical moment, present an unbroken front in the face of their common and still dangerous enemy, could hardly be long maintained. The expression treis hupostaseis was one to which many of the orthodox, including those who had formerly belonged to the Semi-Arian section, had become accustomed: the Alexandrine synod, under the guidance of S. Athanasius, had acknowledged the phrase, as used by them, to be an orthodox one, and S. Basil, in his efforts to conciliate the Semi-Arian party, with which he had himself been closely connected through his namesake of Ancyra and through Eustathius of Sebastia, saw fit definitely to adopt it. While S. Athanasius, on the one hand, using the older terminology, says that hupostasis is equivalent to ousia, and has no other meaning [42] , S. Basil, on the other hand, goes so far as to say that the terms ousia and hupostasis, even in the Nicene anathema, are not to be understood as equivalent [43] . The adoption of the new phrase, even after the explanations given at Alexandria, was found to require, in order to avoid misconstruction, a more precise definition of its meaning, and a formal defence of its orthodoxy. And herein consisted one principal service rendered by S. Basil and S. Gregory; while with more precise definition of the term hupostasis there emerged, it may be, a more precise view of the relations of the Persons, and with the defence of the new phrase as expressive of the Trinity of Persons a more precise view of what is implied in the Unity of the Godhead.

The treatise, De Sancta Trinitate is one of those which are attributed by some to S. Basil, by others to S. Gregory: but for the purpose of showing the difficulties with which they had to deal, the question of its exact authorship is unimportant. [44] The most obvious objection alleged against their teaching was that which had troubled the Western theologians before the Alexandrine Council,--the objection that the acknowledgment of Three Persons implied a belief in Three Gods. To meet this, there was required a statement of the meaning of the term hupostasis, and of the relation of ousia to hupostasis. Another objection, urged apparently by the same party as the former, was directed against the "novelty," or inconsistency, of employing in the singular terms expressive of the Divine Nature such as "goodness" or "Godhead," while asserting that the Godhead exists in plurality of Persons [45] . To meet this, it was required that the sense in which the Unity of the Godhead was maintained should be more plainly and clearly defined.

The position taken by S. Basil with regard to the terms ousia and hupostasis is very concisely stated in his letter to Terentius [46] . He says that the Western theologians themselves acknowledge that a distinction does exist between the two terms: and he briefly sets forth his view of the nature of that distinction by saying that ousia is to hupostasis as that which is common to individuals is to that in respect of which the individuals are naturally differentiated. He illustrates this statement by the remark that each individual man has his being to koino tes ousias logo, while he is differentiated as an individual man in virtue of his own particular attributes. So in the Trinity that which constitutes the ousia (be it "goodness" or be it "Godhead") is common, while the hupostasis is marked by the Personal attribute of Fatherhood or Sonship or Sanctifying Power [47] . This position is also adopted and set forth in greater detail in the treatise, De Diff. Essen. et Hypost. [48] , already referred to, where we find once more the illustration employed in the Epistle to Terentius. The Nature of the Father is beyond our comprehension; but whatever conception we are able to form of that Nature, we must consider it to be common also to the Son and to the Holy Spirit: so far as the ousia is concerned, whatever is predicated of any one of the Persons may be predicated equally of each of the Three Persons, just as the properties of man, quâ man, belong alike to Paul and Barnabas and Timothy: and as these individual men are differentiated by their own particular attributes, so each Person of the Trinity is distinguished by a certain attribute from the other two Persons. This way of putting the case naturally leads to the question, "If you say, as you do say, that Paul and Barnabas and Timothy are `three men,' why do you not say that the Three Persons are `three Gods?'" Whether the question was presented in this shape to S. Basil we cannot with certainty decide: but we may gather from his language regarding the applicability of number to the Trinity what his answer would have been. He [49] says that in acknowledging One Father, One Son, One Holy Spirit, we do not enumerate them by computation, but assert the individuality, so to say, of each hypostasis--its distinctness from the others. He would probably have replied by saying that strictly speaking we ought to decline applying to the Deity, considered as Deity, any numerical idea at all, and that to enumerate the Persons as "three" is a necessity, possibly, imposed upon us by language, but that no conception of number is really applicable to the Divine Nature or to the Divine Persons, which transcend number [50] . To S. Gregory, however, the question did actually present itself as one demanding an answer, and his reply to it marks his departure from S. Basil's position, though, if the treatise, De Diff. Essen. et Hyp. be S. Basil's, S. Gregory was but following out and defending the view of his "master" as expressed in that treatise.

S. Gregory's reply to the difficulty may be found in the letter, or short dissertation, addressed to Ablabius (Quod non sunt tres Dei), and in his treatise peri koinon ennoion. In the latter he lays it down that the term theos is a term ousias semantikon, not a term prosopon delotikon: the Godhead of the Father is not that in which He maintains His differentiation from the Son: the Son is not God because He is Son, but because His essential Nature is what it is. Accordingly, when we speak of "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost," the word and is employed to conjoin the terms expressive of the Persons, not the repeated term which is expressive of the Essence, and which therefore, while applied to each of the Three Persons, yet cannot properly be employed in the plural. That in the case of three individual "men" the term expressive of essence is employed in the plural is due, he says, to the fact that in this case there are circumstances which excuse or constrain such a use of the term "man" while such circumstances do not affect the case of the Holy Trinity. The individuals included under the term "man" vary alike in number and in identity, and thus we are constrained to speak of "men" as more or fewer, and in a certain sense to treat the essence as well as the persons numerically. In the Holy Trinity, on the other hand, the Persons are always the same, and their number the same. Nor are the Persons of the Holy Trinity differentiated, like individual men, by relations of time and place, and the like; the differentiation between them is based upon a constant causal relation existing among the Three Persons, which does not affect the unity of the Nature: it does not express the Being, but the mode of Being [51] . The Father is the Cause; the Son and the Holy Spirit are differentiated from Him as being from the Cause, and again differentiated inter se as being immediately from the Cause, and immediately through that which is from the Cause. Further, while these reasons may be alleged for holding that the cases are not in such a sense parallel as to allow that the same conclusion as to modes of speech should be drawn in both, he urges that the use of the term "men" in the plural is, strictly speaking, erroneous. We should, in strictness, speak not of "this or that man," but of "this or that hypostasis of man"--the "three men" should be described as "three hypostases" of the common ousia "man." In the treatise addressed to Ablabius he goes over the same ground, clothing his arguments in a somewhat less philosophical dress; but he devotes more space to an examination of the meaning of the term theos, with a view to showing that it is a term expressive of operation, and thereby of essence, not a term which may be considered as applicable to any one of the Divine Persons in any such peculiar sense that it may not equally be applied also to the other two [52] . His argument is partly based upon an etymology now discredited, but this does not affect the position he seeks to establish (a position which is also adopted in the treatise, De S. Trinitate), that names expressive of the Divine Nature, or of the Divine operation (by which alone that Nature is known to us) are employed, and ought to be employed, only in the singular. The unity and inseparability of all Divine operation, proceeding from the Father, advancing through the Son, and culminating in the Holy Spirit, yet setting forth one kinesis of the Divine will, is the reason why the idea of plurality is not suffered to attach to these names [53] , while the reason for refusing to allow, in regard to the three Divine Persons, the same laxity of language which we tolerate in regard to the case of the three "men," is to be found in the fact that in the latter case no danger arises from the current abuse of language: no one thinks of "three human natures;" but on the other hand polytheism is a very real and serious danger, to which the parallel abuse of language involved in speaking of "three Gods" would infallibly expose us.

S. Gregory's own doctrine, indeed, has seemed to some critics to be open to the charge of tritheism. But even if his doctrine were entirely expressed in the single illustration of which we have spoken, it does not seem that the charge would hold good, when we consider the light in which the illustration would present itself to him. The conception of the unity of human nature is with him a thing intensely vivid: it underlies much of his system, and he brings it prominently forward more than once in his more philosophical writings [54] . We cannot, in fairness, leave his realism out of account when we are estimating the force of his illustration: and therefore, while admitting that the illustration was one not unlikely to produce misconceptions of his teaching, we may fairly acquit him of any personal bias towards tritheism such as might appear to be involved in the unqualified adoption of the same illustration by a writer of our own time, or such as might have been attributed to theologians of the period of S. Gregory who adopted the illustration without the qualification of a realism as determined as his own [55] . But the illustration does not stand alone: we must not consider that it is the only one of those to be found in the treatise, De Diff. Essen. et Hypost., which he would have felt justified in employing. Even if the illustration of the rainbow, set forth in that treatise, was not actually his own (as Dorner, ascribing the treatise to him, considers it to have been), it was at all events (on the other theory of the authorship), included in the teaching he had received from his "master:" it would be present to his mind, although in his undisputed writings, where he is dealing with objections brought against the particular illustration from human relations, he naturally confines himself to the particular illustration from which an erroneous inference was being drawn. In our estimate of his teaching the one illustration must be allowed to some extent to qualify the effect produced by the other. And, further, we must remember that his argument from human relations is professedly only an illustration. It points to an analogy, to a resemblance, not to an identity of relations; so much he is careful in his reply to state. Even if it were true, he implies, that we are warranted in speaking, in the given case, of the three human persons as "three men," it would not follow that we should be warranted thereby in speaking of the three Divine Persons as "three Gods." For the human personalities stand contrasted with the Divine, at once as regards their being and as regards their operation. The various human prosopa draw their being from many other prosopa, one from one, another from another, not, as the Divine, from One, unchangeably the same: they operate, each in his own way, severally and independently, not, as the Divine, inseparably: they are contemplated each by himself, in his own limited sphere, kat' idian perigraphen, not, as the Divine, in mutual essential connexion, differentiated one from the other only by a certain mutual relation. And from this it follows that the human prosopa are capable of enumeration in a sense in which number cannot be considered applicable to the Divine Persons. Here we find S. Gregory's teaching brought once more into harmony with his "master's:" if he has been willing to carry the use of numerical terms rather further than S. Basil was prepared to do, he yet is content in the last resort to say that number is not in strictness applicable to the Divine hupostaseis, in that they cannot be contemplated kat' idian perigraphen, and therefore cannot be enumerated by way of addition. Still the distraction of the hupostaseis remains; and if there is no other way (as he seems to have considered there was none), of making full acknowledgment of their distinct though inseparable existence than to speak of them as "three," he holds that that use of numerical language is justifiable, so long as we do not transfer the idea of number from the hupostaseis to the ousia, to that Nature of God which is Itself beyond our conception, and which we can only express by terms suggested to us by what we know of Its operation.

Such, in brief, is the teaching of S. Gregory on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, as expressed in the treatises in which he developed and defended those positions in which S. Basil appeared to diverge from the older Nicene theologians. That the terminology of the subject gained clearness and definiteness from his exposition, in that he rendered it plain that the adoption of the Eastern phraseology was a thing perfectly consistent with the Faith confessed alike by East and West in varying terms, seems beyond doubt. It was to him, probably, rather than to S. Basil, that this work was due; for he cleared up the points which S. Basil's illustration had left doubtful; yet in so doing he was using throughout the weapons which his "master" had placed in his hands, and arguing in favour of his "master's" statements, in language, it may be, less guarded than S. Basil himself would have employed, but in accordance throughout with the principles which S. Basil had followed. Each bore his own part in the common work: to one, perhaps, is due the credit of greater originality; to the other it was given to carry on and to extend what his brother had begun: neither, we may well believe, would have desired to claim that the work which their joint teaching effected should be imputed to himself alone.

So far, we have especially had in view those minor treatises of S. Gregory which illustrate such variations from Athanasian modes of expression as are to be found in the writers of the "Neo-Nicene" school. These are perhaps his most characteristic works upon the subject. But the doctrine of the Trinity, as he held it, is further set forth and enforced in other treatises which are, from another point of view, much more important than those with which we have been dealing--in his Oratio Catechetica, and his more directly polemical treatises against Eunomius. In both these sections of his writings, when allowance is made for the difference of terminology already discussed, we are less struck by the divergencies from S. Athanasius' presentment of the doctrine than by the substantial identity of S. Gregory's reasoning with that of S. Athanasius, as the latter is displayed, for example, in the "Orations against the Arians."

There are, of course, many points in which S. Gregory falls short of his great predecessor; but of these some may perhaps be accounted for by the different aspect of the Arian controversy as it presented itself to the two champions of the Faith. The later school of Arianism may indeed be regarded as a perfectly legitimate and rigidly logical development of the doctrines taught by Arius himself; but in some ways the task of S. Gregory was a different task from that of S. Athanasius, and was the less formidable of the two. His antagonist was, by his own greater definiteness of statement, placed at a disadvantage: the consequences which S. Athanasius had to extract from the Arian statements were by Eunomius and the Anomoeans either openly asserted or tacitly admitted: and it was thus an easier matter for S. Gregory to show the real tendency of Anomoean doctrine than it had been for S. Athanasius to point out the real tendency of the earlier Arianism. Further, it may be said that by the time of S. Basil, still more by the time when S. Gregory succeeded to his brother's place in the controversy, the victory over Arianism was assured. It was not possible for S. Athanasius, even had it been in his nature to do so, to treat the earlier Arianism with the same sort of contemptuous criticism with which Eunomius is frequently met by S. Gregory. For S. Gregory, on the other hand, it was not necessary to refrain from such criticism lest he should thereby detract from the force of his protest against error. The crisis in his day was not one which demanded the same sustained effort for which the contest called in the days of S. Athanasius. Now and then, certainly, S. Gregory also rises to a white heat of indignation against his adversary: but it is hardly too much to say that his work appears to lack just those qualities which seem, in the writings of S. Athanasius, to have been called forth by the author's sense of the weight of the force opposed to him, and of the "life and death" character of the contest. S. Gregory does not under-estimate the momentous nature of the questions at issue: but when he wrote, he might feel that to those questions the answer of Christendom had been already given, that the conflict was already won, and that any attempt at developing the Arian doctrine on Anomoean lines was the adoption of an untenable position,--even of a position manifestly and evidently untenable: the doctrine had but to be stated in clear terms to be recognized as incompatible with Christianity, and, that fact once recognized, he had no more to do. Thus much of his treatises against Eunomius consists not of constructive argument in support of his own position, but of a detailed examination of Eunomius' own statements, while a further portion of the contents of these books, by no means inconsiderable in amount, is devoted not so much to the defence of the Faith as to the refutation of certain misrepresentations of S. Basil's arguments which had been set forth by Eunomius.

Even in the more distinctly constructive portion of these polemical writings, however, it may be said that S. Gregory does not show marked originality of thought either in his general argument, or in his mode of handling disputed texts. Within the limits of an introductory essay like the present, anything like detailed comparison on these points is of course impossible; but any one who will take the trouble to compare the discourses of S. Gregory against Eunomius with the "Orations" of S. Athanasius against the Arians,--the Athanasian writing, perhaps, most closely corresponding in character to these books of S. Gregory,--either as regards the specific passages of Scripture cited in support of the doctrine maintained, and the mode of interpreting them, or as to the methods of explanation applied to the texts alleged by the Arian writers in favour of their own opinions, can hardly fail to be struck by the number and the closeness of the resemblances which he will be able to trace between the earlier and the later representatives of the Nicene School. A somewhat similar relation to the Athanasian position, as regards the basis of belief, and (allowing for the difference of terminology) as regards the definition of doctrine, may be observed in the Oratio Catechetica.

Such originality, in fact, as S. Gregory may claim to possess (so far as his treatment of this subject is concerned) is rather the originality of the tactician than that of the strategist: he deals rather with his particular opponent, and keeps in view the particular point in discussion more than the general area over which the war extends. S. Athanasius, on the other hand (partly, no doubt, because he was dealing with a less fully developed form of error), seems to have more force left in reserve. He presents his arguments in a more concise form, and is sometimes content to suggest an inference where S. Gregory proceeds to draw out conclusions in detail, and where thereby the latter, while possibly strengthening his presentment of the truth as against his own particular adversary,--against the Anomoean or the polytheist on the one side, or against the Sabellian or the Judaizer on the other,--renders his argument, when considered per se as a defence of the orthodox position, frequently more diffuse and sometimes less forcible. Yet, even here, originality of a certain kind does belong to S. Gregory, and it seems only fair to him to say that in these treatises also he did good service in defence of the Faith touching the Holy Trinity. He shows that alike by way of formal statement of doctrine, as in the Oratio Catechetica, and by way of polemical argument, the forces at the command of the defenders of the Faith could be organized to meet varied forms of error, without abandoning, either for a more original theology like that or Marcellus of Ancyra, or for the compromise which the Homoean or Semi-Arian school were in danger of being led to accept, the weapons with which S. Athanasius had conquered at Nicæa.


Footnotes

[39] See Dorner, Doctrine of the Person of Christ, Div. I. vol. ii. p. 314 (English Trans.). [40] It is to be noted further that the use of the terms "Persona" and prosopon by those who avoided the phrase treis hupostaseis no doubt assisted in the formation of this suspicion. At the same time the Nicene anathema favoured the sense of hupostasis as equivalent to ousia, and so appeared to condemn the Eastern use. [41] S. Athanasius, Tom. ad Antioch, 5. [42] Ad Afr. Episc. §4. S. Athanasius, however, does not shrink from the phrase treis hupostaseis in contradistinction to the mia ousia: see the treatise, In illud, `Omnia mihi tradita sunt.' §6. [43] S. Bas. Ep. 125 (being the confession of faith drawn up by S. Basil for the subscription of Eustathius). [44] It appears on the whole more probable that the treatise is the work of S. Gregory; but it is found, in a slightly different shape, among the Letters of S. Basil. (Ep. 189 in the Benedictine Edition.) [45] In what sense this language was charged with "novelty" is not very clear. But the point of the objection appears to lie in a refusal to recognize that terms expressive of the Divine Nature, whether they indicate attributes or operations of that Nature, may be predicated of each hupostasis severally, as well as of the ousia, without attaching to the terms themselves that idea of plurality which, so far as they express attributes or operations of the ousia, must be excluded from them. [46] S. Bas. Ep. 214, §4. [47] The differentia here assigned to the Third Person is not, in S. Basil's own view, a differentia at all: for he would no doubt have been ready to acknowledge that this attribute is common to all Three Persons. S. Gregory, as it will be seen, treats the question as to the differentiation of the Persons somewhat differently, and rests his answer on a basis theologically more scientific. [48] S. Bas. Ep. 38 (Benedictine Ed.). [49] De Spir. Sancto, §18. [50] On S. Basil's language on this subject, see Dorner, Doctrine of the Person of Christ, Div. 1. vol. ii. pp. 309-11. (Eng. Trans.) [51] This statement strikes at the root of the theory held by Eunomius, as well as by the earlier Arians, that the agennesia of the Father constituted His Essence. S. Gregory treats His agennesia as that by which He is distinguished from the other Persons, as an attribute marking His hypostasis. This subject is treated more fully, with special reference to the Eunomian view, in the Ref. alt. libri Eunomii. [52] S. Gregory would apparently extend this argument even to the operations expressed by the names of "Redeemer," or "Comforter;" though he would admit that in regard of the mode by which these operations are applied to man, the names expressive of them are used in a special sense of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, yet he would argue that in neither case does the one Person act without the other two. [53] See Dorner, ut sup., pp. 317-18. [54] Especially in the treatise, De Animâ et Resurrectione, and in that De Conditione Hominis. A notable instance is to be found in the former (p. 242 A.). [55] See Dorner, ut sup., p. 315, and p. 319, note 2.


Chapter V.--Mss. And Editions.

For the 13 Books Against Eunomius, the text of F. Oehler (S. Greg. Nyss. Opera. Tom. I. Halis, 1865) has in the following translations been almost entirely followed.

The 1st Book was not in the 1st Paris Edition in two volumes (1615); but it was published three years afterwards from the `Bavarian Codex,' i.e. that of Munich, by J. Gretser in an Appendix, along with the Summaries (these headings of the sections of the entire work are by some admirer of Gregory's) and the two introductory Letters. Both the Summaries and the letters, and also nearly three-quarters of the 1st Book were obtained from J. Livineius' transcript of the Vatican ms. made at Rome, 1579. This Appendix was added to the 2nd Paris Edition, in three volumes (1638).

In correcting these Paris Editions (for mss. of which see below), Oehler had access, in addition to the identical Munich ms. (paper, 16th century) which Gretser had used, to the following mss.:--

1. Venice (Library of S. Mark; cotton, 13 Cent., No. 69). This he says `wonderfully agrees' with the Munich (both, for instance, supply the lacunæ of the Paris Edition of Book I: he concludes, therefore, that these are not due to Gretser's negligence, who gives the Latin for these passages, but to that of the printers).

2. Turin (Royal Library; cotton, 14 Cent., No. 71).

3. Milan (Library of S. Ambrose; cotton, 13 Cent., No. 225, Plut. 1; its inscription says that it was brought from Thessaly).

4. Florence (Library Medic. Laurent.; the oldest of all; parchment, 11 Cent., No. 17, Plut. vi. It contains the Summaries).

These, and the Munich ms., which he chiefly used, are "all of the same family:" and from them he has been able to supply more than 50 lacunæ in the Books against Eunomius. This family is the first of the two separated by G. H. Forbes (see below). The Munich ms. (No. 47, on paper, 16 Cent.), already used by Sifanus for his Latin version (1562), and by Gretser for his Appendix, has the corrections of the former in its margin. These passed into the two Paris Editions; which, however, took no notice of his critical notes. When lent to Sifanus this ms. was in the Library of J. J. Fugger. Albert V. Duke of Bavaria purchased the treasures of Greek literature in this library, to found that in Munich.

For the treatise On the Soul and the Resurrection, the Great Catechetical Oration, and the Funeral Oration on Meletius, John George Krabinger's text has been adopted. He had mss. `old and of a better stamp' (Oehler) than were accessible to the Paris editors. Krabinger's own account of them is this:--

On the Soul. 5 mss. of 16th, 14th, and 11th Cent. All at Munich. In one of them there are scholia, some imported into the text by J. Naupliensis Murmureus the copyist; and Sifanus' corrections.

The `Hasselman,' 14th Cent. J. Christopher Wolf, who annotated this treatise (Aneedota Græca, Hamburgh, 1722), says of this ms. "very carefully written." It was lent by Zach. Hasselman, Minister of Oldenburgh.

The `Uffenbach,' 14th Cent., with var. lect. in margin. Lent to Wolf by the Polish ambassador at Frankfort on Main, at the request of Zach. Uffenbach.

Catechetical Oration. 4 mss. of 16th Cent., 1 of 13th Cent., `much mutilated.' All at Munich.

On Meletius. 2 mss. of 16th Cent., 1 of 10th Cent. All at Munich.

His edition of the former appeared, at Leipzic, 1837; of the two latter, at Munich, 1838; all with valuable notes.

For the treatise Against Macedonius, the only text available is that of Cardinal Angelo Mai (Script. Vet. Nova Collectio, Rome, 1833). It is taken from the Vatican ms. `on silk.' The end of this treatise is not found in Mai. Perhaps it is in the ms. of Florence.

For fourteen of the Letters, Zacagni (Præfect of the Vatican Library, 1698-1713) is the only editor. His text from the Vatican ms., No. 424, is printed in his Collectan. Monument. ret. (pp. 354-400), Rome, 1698.

He had not the use of the Medicean ms. which Caraccioli (see below) testifies to be much superior to the Vatican; there are lacunæ in the latter, however, which Zacagni occasionally fills by a happy guess with the very words supplied by the Medicean.

For the Letter to Adelphius, and that (on Church Architecture) to Amphilochius, J. B. Caraccioli (Professor of Philosophy at Pisa) furnishes a text (Florence, 1731) from the Medicean ms. The Letters in this collection are seven in all. Of the last of these (including that to Amphilochius) Bandinus says non sincerâ fide ex Codice descriptas, and that a fresh collation is necessary.

For the treatise On the Making of Man, the text employed has been that of G. H. Forbes, (his first Fasciculus was published in 1855; his second in 1861; both at Burntisland, at his private press), with an occasional preference for the readings of one or other of the mss. examined by him or by others on his behalf. Of these he specifies twenty: but he had examined a much larger number. The mss. which contain this work, he considers, are of two families.

Of the first family the most important are three mss. at Vienna, a tenth-century ms. on vellum at S. Mark's, Venice, which he himself collated, and a Vatican ms. of the tenth century. This family also includes three of the four Munich mss. collated for Forbes by Krabinger.

The other family displays more variations from the current text. One Vienna ms. "pervetustus" "initio mutilus," was completely collated. Also belonging to this family are the oldest of the four Munich mss., the tenth-century Codex Regius (Paris), and a fourteenth-century ms. at Christ Church, Oxford, clearly related to the last.

The Codex Baroccianus (Bodleian, perhaps eleventh century) appears to occupy an independent position.

For the other Treatises and Letters the text of the Paris Edition of 1638 (`plenior et emendatior' than that of 1615, according to Oehler, probably following its own title, but "much inferior to that of 1615" Canon Venables, Dict. Christ. Biog., says, and this is the judgment of J. Fessler) and of Migne have been necessary as the latest complete editions of the works of Gregory Nyssene. (All the materials that had been collected for the edition of the Benedictines of St. Maur perished in the French Revolution.)

Of the two Paris Editions it must be confessed that they are based `for the most part on inferior mss.' (Oehler.) The frequent lacunæ attest this. Fronto Ducæus aided Claude, the brother of F. Morel, in settling the text, and the mss. mentioned in the notes of the former are as follows:

1. Pithoeus' "not of a very ancient hand," "as like F. Morel's (No. 2.) as milk to milk" (so speaks John the Franciscan, who emended `from one corrupt mutilated manuscript,' i.e. the above, the Latin translation of the Books against Eunomius made by his father N. Gulonius.)

2. F. Morel's. ("Dean of Professors" and Royal Printer.)

3. The Royal (in the Library of Henry II., Paris), on vellum, tenth century.

4. Canter's ("ingens codex" sent from Antwerp by A. Schott; it had been written out for T. Canter, Senator of Utrecht).

5. Olivar's. "Multo emendatius" than (2.)

6. J. Vulcobius', Abbot of Belpré.

7. The Vatican. For the treatise On Virginity. (The Paris Editors used Livineius' Edition, based on (7) and (8).

8. Bricman's (Cologne). For the treatise On Virginity. (The Paris Editors used Livineius' Edition, based on (7) and (8).

9. OEgidius David's, I.C. Paris. For the treatise On Virginity. (The Paris Editors used Livineius' Edition, based on (7) and (8).

10. The Bavarian (Munich) for Books II.-XIII. Against Eunomius and other treatises; only after the first edition of 1615.

Other important mss. existing for treatises here translated are

On Pilgrimages: ms. Cæsareus (Vienna): "valde vetustus" (Nessel, on the Imperial Library), vellum, No. 160, burnt at beginning.

mss. Florence (xx. 17: xvi. 8).

ms. Leyden (not older than fifteenth century).

On the Making of Man:

ms. Augsburgh, with twelve Homilies of Basil, the two last being wrongly attributed to Gregory (Reizer).

ms. Ambrosian (Milan). See Montfaucon, Bibl. Bibliothec. p. 498.

On Infants' Early Deaths:

ms. Turin (Royal Library).

On the Soul and Resurrection:

mss. Augsburgh, Florence, Turin, Venice.

Great Catechetical:

mss. Augsburgh, Florence, Turin, Cæsareus.

Many other mss., for these and other treatises, are given by S. Heyns (Disputatio de Greg. Nyss. Leyden, 1835). But considering the mutilated condition of most of the oldest, and the still small number of treatises edited from an extended collation of these, the complaint is still true that `the text of hardly any other ancient writer is in a more imperfect state than that of Gregory of Nyssa.'

Versions of Several Treatises.

Latin.

1. Of Dionysius Exiguus (died before 556): On the Making of Man. Aldine, 1537. Cologne, 1551. Basle, 1562. Cologne, 1573. Dedicated to Eugippius.' This Dedication and the Latin of Gregory's Preface was only once printed (i.e. in J. Mabillon's Analecta, Paris, 1677).

This ancient Latin Version was revised by Fronto Ducæus, the Jesuit, and Combeficius. There is a copy of it at Leyden. It stimulated J. Leünclaius (see below), who judged it "foeda pollutum barbariâ planeque perversum," to make another. Basle, 1567.

2. Of Daniel Augentius: On the Soul. Paris 1557.

3. Of Laurent. Sifanus, I. U. Doct.: On the Soul and many other treatises. Basle, 1562 Apud N. Episcopum.

4. Of Pet. Galesinius: On Virginity and On Prayer. Rome, 1563, ap. P. Manutium.

5. Of Johann. Leünclaius: On the Making of Man. Basle, 1567, ap. Oporinum.

6. Of Pet. Morelius, of Tours: Great Catechetical. Paris, 1568.

7. Of Gentianus Hervetus, Canon of Rheims, a diligent translator of the Fathers: Great Catechetical, and many others. Paris, 1573.

8. Of Johann. Livineius, of Ghent: On Virginity. Apud Plantinum, 1574.

9. Of Pet. Fr. Zinus, Canon of Verona, translator of Euthymius' Panoplia, which contains the Great Catechetical. Venice, 1575.

10. Of Jacob Gretser, the Jesuit: I. e. Eunom. Paris, 1618.

11. Of Nicolas Gulonius, Reg. Prof. of Greek: II.-XIII. c. Eunom. Paris, 1615. Revised by his son John, the Franciscan.

12. Of J. Georg. Krabinger, Librarian of Royal Library, Munich: On the Soul, Great Catechetical, On Infants' Early Deaths, and others. Leipzic, 1837.

German.

1. Of Glauber: Great Catechetical, &c. Gregorius von Nyssa und Augustinus über den ersten Christlichen Religions-unterricht. Leipzic, 1781.

2. Of Julius Rupp, Königsberg: On Meletius. Gregors Leben und Meinungen. Leipzic, 1834.

3. Of Oehler: Various treatises. Bibliothek der Kirchenväter I. Theil. Leipzic, 1858-59.

4. Herm. Schmidt, paraphrased rather than translated: On the Soul. Halle, 1864.

5. Of H. Hayd: On Infants' Early Deaths: On the Making of Man, &c. Kempton, 1874.


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