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have discussed these difficulties in notes, would have been only to crowd my pages with matter not generally interesting, and for which, I trust, I shall hereafter have a more fitting opportunity. I think, however, that I can safely say, that in no case have I come to a conclusion except upon reasonable grounds, and that, after due allowance made for possible errors, my translation will be found to convey a correct and adequate representation of the original work.
Of the value of the Commentary, I shall probably not be considered an impartial judge: still my conviction is, that it can scarcely fail of being regarded as an important addition to our means of forming an accurate judgment of what was the real teaching of one of the most famous schools of thought in the early Church. It has not indeed gained entire acceptance; its philosophy was too deep, its creed too mysterious, its longings too fervently fixed upon the supernatural, for the practical mind of the West readily to assent to doctrines which mock rather than exercise the powers of even the subtlest reason. And while the names of its doctors have become household words with us, and we owe to their labours the establishment of the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity in its main outlines as we hold it at present, still the student of Church History is aware, that in many minor, though still important particulars, the teaching of the Alexandrine school was in excess of what we at present hold. The Athanasian Creed does not embody the actual tenets of Athanasius, nor of the other great masters of Alexandria, except in the form in which they were modified and altered by the influence of rival schools: and
in like manner S. Cyril, the inheritor at once of Athanasius' throne, and of his views, often uses arguments which the Monophysites could fairly claim as giving a colour to their belief, that after the union of the two natures in Christ it was no longer lawful to distinguish their separate limits.
It was the Nestorian controversy which called out the argumentative powers and the fiery zeal of S. Cyril; and it is certainly true that in that controversy he used Nestorius unfairly, taxing him with deductions, which, however logically they might seem to follow from his opponent's teaching, yet Nestorius himself expressly denied: but it is not true that the controversy led him into statements of doctrine beyond what his predecessors in the see of Alexandria had taught. For constantly what he opposed to his rival's views was the very doctrine of S. Athanasius ; and the passage which he quotes in his treatise De recta Fide, ad Imperatrices, from that father's treatise on the Incarnation of Christ, is never exceeded in any of his own dogmatic statements. Its words are as follow :-ομολογούμεν, και είναι αυτον υιόν του θεού και θεόν κατά πνεύμα, υιον ανθρώπου κατά σάρκα: ου δύο φύσεις τον ένα υιον, μίαν προσκυνητών και μίαν απροσκύνητος αλλά μίαν φύσιν του θεού λόγου σεσαρκωμένην και προσκυνουμένην μετά της σαρκός αυτου μία προσκυνήσει. . This was S. Athanasius' doctrine, this also was S. Cyril's; and it is only a falsification of the facts of history to endeavour to bring the Alexandrine school into verbal accordance with the decrees of the general council of Chalcedon. The doctrine which prevailed there was that of the rival school of Antioch, which had always firmly stood by the literal interpretation of
the plain letter of Scripture; a sound, judicious, common-sense school, which had never depth enough to have fought the battle of the Arian heresy with the profoundness of conviction which gave such undying energy to the great chiefs of Alexandria ; but which nevertheless had under Providence its due place in the Church, and corrected the tendency of Athanasius and Cyril to a too immoderate love of the supernatural and mysterious.
That S. Cyril however felt that there was no insuperable barrier between the two schools is shown by his reconciliation with John of Antioch, and their signing common articles of faith. For essentially both Cyril and John of Antioch held the mean between the extremes of Nestorius and Eutyches; only Cyril's leaning was towards Eutyches, John's towards Nestorius. And when subsequently the council of Chalcedon, A. D. 451, modified, happily and wisely, the decrees of the previous general council of Ephesus, A. D. 431, and adopted as their standard of faith the teaching of the Antiochian school as embodied in the famous Epistola Flaviana of Leo, Pope of Rome, they acknowledged this substantial agreement between Antioch and Alexandria,-between themselves and the council of Ephesus,—by their declaration that Λέων είπε τα του Κυρίλλου,-that what Leo wrote was the same that Cyril taught. And that in the main they were right this present Commentary will shew; for S. Cyril's doctrine in it is essentially moderate. There are indeed passages in which he apparently confounds the limits of the two natures in Christ, but many more in which he gives to each its proper attributes, and bears witness to the existence of both
the godhead and the manhood in the one person of our Lord, inseparable, yet unconfused.
But when Mai would go further, and deny that the Monophysites had any ground for claiming S. Cyril's authority in their favour, his uncritical turn of mind at once betrays him: for he rests chiefly upon the treatise De Incarnatione Domini, Nov. Bib. Pat. ii. 32–74, ascribed by him to S. Cyril upon the testimony of a MS. in the Vatican. But independently of other internal evidence that this piece was written subsequently to the council of Chalcedon, it is absolutely impossible that Cyril could ever have adopted the very keystone and centre of Nestorius' teaching, the doctrine I mean of a ouvápeia (pp. 59, 71), a mere juxtaposition, or mechanical conjunction of the two natures in Christ, in opposition to a real union.
In the West, under the guiding minds of Augustine and Ambrose, the council of Chalcedon met at once with ready acceptance; but not so in the East. It was there that the controversy had been really waged against Arius, and the reaction from his teaching led many of the fathers into overstrained arguments which ended in heresies, ejected one after another from the Church. As in the
As in the process of fermentation there is a thick scum upon the surface while the work of purification is going on below, so each extraneous element, after mingling for a time with the great mass of Christian truth, was at length rejected with an ease or difficulty proportioned to the intenseness of its admixture with sounder doctrines. And thus the general orthodoxy and invaluable services of the Alexandrine school caused whatever there was of
exaggeration in their views long and violently to resist this purifying process in those parts of the world which had been the nearest witnesses of their struggles in defence of the doctrine of the consubstantial nature of the Son. Up to the time also of the council of Chalcedon the language of the Fathers had been vague and confused : and the expression of S. John i. 14, that “ the Word was made flesh ;" as it had led the Arians to affirm that the Logos was a created being, so it had led orthodox Fathers to speak as if Christ's human body was “very God.” And thus the Monophysites could count up a long array of all the great names in the Church, Ignatius, Polycarp, Clemens of Rome, Irenæus, Melito of Sardes, Felix and Julius of Rome, the Gregories, Athanasius, Basil, and many more, who had confounded in Christ the human with the divine. With such authorities on their side the conflict was long and dubious, and in Justinian's time they seemed likely to gain the ascendancy : for the Pope then was the mere creature of simony, and consequently there was nothing to balance the tendencies of the Eastern Church. Accordingly in A. D. 533 Justinian, though nominally opposed to their tenets, decreed that “one of the holy and consubstantial Trinity was crucified :” and twenty years after, the fifth general council of Constantinople authoritatively ratified the same doctrine. But in the subsequent weak reign of Justin, the Patriarch of Constantinople, John the Jurist, thwarted by the Monophysite monks whom Theodora had planted in the capital, took such vigorous measures against the leaders of the party, that their principles have since exercised no appreciable influence in the Church.