Reason IV. — The writings of the Fathers, which are considered legitimate, have been in many places corrupted by time, ignorance, and fraud, pious and malicious, both in the early and later ages.
But now suppose that you have, by long and judicious investigation, separated the true and genuine writings of the Fathers, from the spurious and forged; there would yet rest upon you a second task, the result of which is likely to prove much more doubtful, and more replete with difficulty, than the former. For it would behoove you, in the next place, in reading over those authors which you acknowledge as legitimate, to distinguish what is the author's own, and what has been foisted in by another hand; and also to restore to your author whatsoever either by time or fraud has been taken away, and to take out of him whatsoever has been added by either of these two. Otherwise you will never be able to assure yourself that you have discovered, out of these books, what the true and proper meaning and sense of your author has been; considering the great alterations that in various ways they may have suffered at different times.
I shall not here speak of those errors which have been produced by the ignorance of the transcribers, "who write," as Jerome has complained of them, "not what they find, but what themselves understand;" [Jerome, Epistle 28 to Lucin. tom. i.] nor yet of those faults which necessarily have grown up out of the very transcribing; it being impossible that books which have been copied out an infinite number of times, during the space of ten or twelve centuries, by men of different capacities and handwriting, should all this while retain exactly and in every particular the self-same style, the same form and body, that they had when they first came forth from the author's own hand.
I shall say nothing of the damage sustained by these books from moths and a thousand other injuries of time, by which they have been corrupted; while all kinds of learning, for so many ages together, lay buried as it were in the grave; the worms on one side feeding on the books of the learned, and on the other, the dust defacing them; so that it is impossible now to restore them to their first condition. This is the fate that all kinds of books have been exposed to; whence have originated so many various readings found almost in all authors. I shall not here take any advantage of this; though there are some doctors in the world that have showed us the way to do it; with the intention of lessening the authority that the Holy Scriptures of themselves ought to have in the esteem of all men; under that plea, that even in those sacred writings there are sometimes found various readings, which yet are of very little or no importance as to the ground-work. If we would tread in these men's steps, and apply to the writings of the Fathers what they say and conclude of the Scriptures, we could do it upon much better terms than they; there being no reason on earth to imagine but that the books of the ancient writers have suffered very much more than the Scriptures have, which have always been preserved in the Church with much greater care than any other books, and which have been learned by all nations, and translated into all languages; which all sects have retained, both Orthodox and Heretics, Catholics and Schismatics, Greeks and Latins, Muscovites and Ethiopians; each observing diligently the revisions and transcriptions of the other; so that there could not possibly happen any remarkable alteration in them, without the whole world as it were instantly exclaiming against it, and making their complaints to resound throughout the universe. Whereas, on the contrary, the writings of the Fathers have been kept, transcribed, and read in as careless a manner as could be; and that too by but very few, and in few places: being but rarely understood by any, save those of the same language; this being the cause that so many faults have the more easily crept into them, and likewise that they are the more difficult to be discovered. Besides that the particular style and obscurity of some of them render the errors the more important. As for example, take a Tertullian, and you will find that one little word added or taken away, or altered ever so little, or a full point or comma put out of its place, will so confound the sense, that you will not be able to discover his meaning: whereas in books of an easy, smooth, clear style, as the Scriptures for the most part are, these faults are much less prejudicial; for they cannot in any wise so darken the sense but that it will be still easy enough to comprehend it.
But I shall pass by all these minute particulars, as more suitable to the inquiries of the Pyrrhonians and Academics, whose business it is to question all things, than of Christians who only seek, in simplicity and sincerity of heart, whereon to build their faith. I shall only here take notice of such alterations as have been knowingly and voluntarily made in the writings of the Fathers, purposely to conceal or disguise their sense, or else to make them speak more than they meant. This forgery is of two sorts; the one has been made use of with a good intention, the other out of malice. Again, the one has been committed in times long since past, the other in this last age, in our own days and the days of our fathers. Lastly, the one is in the additions made to authors, to make them speak more than they meant; the other, in subtracting from the author, to eclipse and darken what he would be understood to say. Neither ought we to wonder, that even those of the honest, innocent, primitive times also made use of these deceits; seeing that, for a good end, they made no great scruple to forge whole books, taking a much stranger and bolder course, in my opinion, than the other. For without doubt it is a greater crime to coin false money, than to clip or alter the true. This opinion, has always been in the world, that to fix a certain estimation upon that which is good and true, (that is to say, upon what we account to be such,) it is necessary that we remove out of the way whatsoever may be a hinderance to it, and that there can be no great danger either in putting in, or at least in leaving anything in, that may yield assistance to it; whatsoever the issue of either of these may in the end prove to be. Hence it has come to pass, that we have so many ancient forgeries, and so many strange stories of miracles and of visions; many taking a delight in feigning (as Jerome says) "great combats which they have had with devils in deserts," [Daemonum contra se pugnantium portenta confingunt. Jerome, Epistle 2 to Rustic. tom. 1.] all of which are merely fabulous in themselves, and acknowledged to be so by the most intelligent of them. Yet, notwithstanding, they are tolerated, and sometimes also recommended, as they account them useful, for the settling or increasing the faith or devotion of the people.
What will you say, if at this day there are some even of those men who make profession of being the greatest haters in the world of these subtilties, who cannot nevertheless put forth any book, without lopping off or falsifying whatsoever does not wholly agree with the doctrine they hold for true; fearing, as they say, lest such things, coming to the eye of the simple common people, might infect them, and possess their heads with new fancies. So firmly has this opinion been of old rooted in the nature of man.
Now I will not here dispute whether this proceeding of theirs be lawful or not. I shall only say by the way that in my judgment it is shameful for the truth to be established or defended by such falsifications and evasions, as if it had not sufficient weapons, both defensive and offensive of its own, but that it must borrow of its adversary. It is a very dangerous course moreover, because the discovery of one cheat oftentimes renders the cause of those who practiced it wholly suspected. So that, by making use of such flights as these in the Christian religion, either for the gaining or confirming the faith of some of the simpler people, it is to be feared, that you may give distaste to the more intelligent; and by this means at length may chance to lose also the affections of the more ignorant. But whatsoever this course of deception be, either in itself or in its consequences, it is sufficient for my purpose, that it has long been the practice in the Church, in matters of religion; and for proof of which I shall here produce some instances.
The heretics have always been accused of using this artifice: but I shall not here notice what alterations have been made by the most ancient of them, even in the Scriptures themselves. If you would have a sample of this practice of theirs, only go to Tertullian and Epiphanius, and you will there see how Marcion had mutilated and altered the Gospel of Luke, and those Epistles of Paul, which he allowed to be such. Nor have the ages following been a whit more conscientious in this particular; as appears by those complaints made by Ruffinus,[Ruffinius in Exposition of the Symbol, et lib. de adult. script. Origen.] in his expositions upon the Apostles' Creed: and in another treatise written by him purposely on this subject; which is indeed contradicted by Jerome,[Jerome, Epistle 65, tom. 2, et Apol. 2 against Ruffinus] but only in his hypothesis, as to what concerned Origen; but not absolutely in his Thesis: and by similar complaints of Cyril,[Cyril, Epistle to John of Antioch in the Acts of the Council of Ephesus] and various others of the ancients; and among the moderns by those very persons also who have put forth the general councils at Rome; who inform us, in the preface to the first volume,[In Preface in Tome 1 of Concil. Gen.] that time and the fraud of the heretics have been the cause that the acts of the said councils, as far as they exist, have not come to our hands either entire or pure and perfect: and they grievously bewail that we should be thus deprived of so great and so precious a treasure. Now this testimony, coming from such, is to me worth a thousand others; they, in my opinion, being evidently interested to speak otherwise. For if the Church of Rome, who is the pretended mistress and trustee of the faith, has suffered any part of the councils to perish and be lost, which is esteemed by them as the code of the Church, what then may the rest have also suffered? what may not the heretics and schismatics have been able to do? And if all these evidences have been altered by their fraud, how shall we be able by them to come to the knowledge of the opinions and judgment of the ancients? I confess I am much surprised to see these men make so much account of the acts of the councils; and to make such grievous complaints against the heretics for having suppressed some of them. For if these things are of such use, why then do they themselves keep from us the acts of the council of Trent; which is the most important council, both for them and their party, that has been held in the Christian Church these eight hundred years? If it be a crime in the heretics to have kept from us these precious jewels, why are not they afraid, lest the blame which they lay on others may chance to revert upon themselves? But doubtless there is something in the business that renders these cases different; and I confess I wonder they publish it not: the simpler sort, for want of being otherwise informed, thinking perhaps, though it may be without cause, that the reason why the acts of this last council are kept close from them, is because they know that the publishing of them would be either prejudicial, or at least unprofitable, to the greatness of the Church of Rome. They also again, on the other side, conceive that in those other acts, which they say have been suppressed by the heretics, there were wonderful matters to be found, for the advancing and supporting of the Church of Rome. Whatsoever the reason be, I cannot but commend the ingenuity of these men, who, notwithstanding their interest which seemed to engage them to the contrary, have nevertheless confessed, that the councils which we have at this day are neither entire nor uncorrupted.
Let us now examine whether even the orthodox party themselves have not also contributed something to this alteration of the writings of the primitive Church. Epiphanius reports, that in the true and most correct copies of Luke, it was written, that "Jesus Christ wept;" and that this passage had been quoted by Irenaeus; but that the Catholics had blotted out this expression, fearing that the heretics might abuse it.[ Ὀρθοδὸξοι δε ἀφειλοντο το ρητον, φοβηθεντες, και με νοησαντες αὐτου το τελος, και το ἰσχυροτατον. Epiphanius in Anchor.]
Whether this relation be true or false, must rest upon the credit of the author. But this I shall say, that it seems to me a clear argument, that these ancient Catholics would have made no great scruple of blotting out of the writings of the Fathers any word that they found to contradict their own opinions and judgment; and that with the same liberty that they inform us the heretics used to do. For seeing that, as this Father informs us, they made no conscience of making such an attempt upon the gospel of the Son of God himself, with how much greater confidence would they adventure to mangle the books of men? Certainly Ruffinus, a man so much applauded by Jerome,[Jerome Epistle 2 to Flor. And Epistle 41 to Ruffinus.] before their falling out, and so highly esteemed by Augustine,[Augustine Epistle to Jerome, which is among Jerome’s Epistles, Epistle 93, and again Epistle 97.] who very much bewails the breach between those two, (and whom Gennadius [Gennadius in Catalog. among the works of Jerome] has placed, with a very high eulogy of his worth, in his Catalogue of Ecclesiastical writers) has so filthily mangled, and so licentiously confounded the writings of Origen, Eusebius, and others, which he has translated into Latin, that you will hardly find a page in his translations, where he has not either cut off, or added, or at least altered something. Jerome also, although his opponent, yet agrees with him in this point;[Jerome, Epistle 62 to Theoph. Alex. and Book 2 of the Apology against Ruffinus] confessing in several places that he had indeed translated Origen, but in such a manner that he had taken liberty to cut away that which was dangerous, and had left only that which was useful, and had interpreted only what was good, and had left out the bad; that is to say, that if he found anything there that was not consonant to the common judgment and opinions of his time, and so might possibly give offence to the common people, he suppressed it in his translation. He also affirmed that Hilary, and Eusebius bishop of Vercelli, had done the like.[Jerome, Epistle 75. Id. praefat. In lib. Euseb. De loc. Hebr.] And again, in his preface to Eusebius, "De locis Hebraicis," he confesses that he left out that which he conceived was not worth remembering; and that he had altered the greatest part of it. To make it evident that this has been his constant practice, we need but compare his Latin chronology with the Greek fragments which remain of Eusebius; where you may plainly see what license these ancients allowed themselves in the writings of others.
What doubt can there be but that those men who came after them, following the authority of so great an example, carefully took out of their copies, or else left out of their translations, the greatest part of whatever they found to be dissonant to the opinions and customs which were received in the Church in the times they lived in? and likewise, that for imparting the greater authority to them, some have had the boldness to add, in some places, what they conceived to be wanting? Whence else could it proceed, that we should have so many unreasonable breakings off in many places, and so many impertinent additions in others, as are frequently to be met with in the ancient authors? Whence otherwise should we have those many coarse patches in the midst of their soft satin and velvet? and that inequality which we observe in one and the same author in a quarter of an hour's reading?
It would be a tedious matter to bring in here all the examples of this kind that might be mentioned; there being scarcely any of the moderns that have taken any pains in writing upon the Fathers, but have noticed and complained of this abuse. Hence it is, that we oftentimes meet with such notices as this, in the margins of the Fathers: "Hic videtur aliquis assuisse nugas suas" and the like:[Tom. 4. Works of Ambrose, p. 211, lib. 2. de Abra. in marg. Annot.] and that also which is observed by Vives upon the twenty-first Book of Augustine De Civitate Dei; namely, that ten or twelve lines, which we find at this day in the twenty-fourth chapter of that Book, containing a positive assertion of purgatory, were not to be found in the ancient manuscripts of Bruges, and of Cologne;[In antiquis libris Brug. et Colon. non leguntur istis decem aut duodecim qui sequuntur versus. – Lud. Vives in lib. 21. de Civ. Dei, c. 24.] no, nor yet in that of Paris, as is noted by those that printed Augustine, anno 1531. One Holsteinius also, a Dutchman, testifies that he had met with divers pieces among the manuscripts of the King's Library, of Chrysostom, Proclus, and others, that had in like manner been scratched in divers places by the like hands, by some interpolators of the later and worse ages. [Neque solius Athanasii ea fortuna, ut ineptissimorum interpolatorum manus subiret, cum Chrysostomi, Procli, aliorumque homilias similibus sequiorum saeculorum ineptiis foedatas, in iisdem regiis codicibus invenerira. — Holstein. op. lim. praef. tom. op. Athan.]
But I may not here forget to observe, that this alteration has also taken place, even in the most sacred and public pieces; as in the liturgies of the Church, and the like: and I shall give you this observation, in order that it may carry with it the greater gracefulness and weight, in the expressions of Andreas Masius, a man of singular and profound learning, yet of such candour and integrity as renders him more admired than his knowledge; and which, together with his other excellences, endears him to all moderate men of both professions. This learned person, observing that the Liturgy of St. Basil was not so long in the Syriac as in the Greek, assigns this reason — "For," saith he, "men have always been of such a humor and disposition in matters of religion, that you shall scarcely find any that have been able to content themselves with the ceremonies prescribed unto them by their Fathers, however holy they have been in themselves: so that we may observe that in course of time, according as the prelates have thought fittest to unite the affections of the people to piety and devotion, many other things have been either added or altered, and (which is much worse,) many superstitious things have been also introduced; in which particular I conceive the Christians of Syria have been more moderate and less extravagant than the Greeks and Latins, from not having the opportunity of enjoying that quiet and abundance of life which the others had."[Andr. Masius, Praef. in Litur. Syr.] Thus the learned Masius. Cassander also,[Cassand. in Liturg. cap. 2.] who searched the writings of the ancients with good intentions, acknowledges, and proves out of other authors, that the ancient liturgies have by little and little been enlarged by the several additions of the moderns.
Thus proportionably as the world itself has changed, so would it have whatever there remained of antiquity to undergo its alterations also; imagining that it was but reasonable that these books should in some measure accommodate their language to the times; as the authors of them in all probability would have done themselves, (believing and speaking with the times,) had they been now living. Now to render them the more acceptable, they have used those arts upon them, that some old men are wont to practice they have new colored their beard and mustachios, cutting off the rude and scattered hairs; have smoothed their skin, and given it a fresh complexion, and taught them to speak with a new voice, having changed also the color of their habit: insomuch that it is much to be feared, that we oftentimes do but lose our labor when we search, in these disguised faces and mouths, for the complexion and language of true antiquity. Thus have they taught Eusebius to tell us in his Chronicon, that the fast of Lent was instituted by Telesphorus, and the observation of the Lord's day by Pius, both bishops of Rome; which is a thing Eusebius never so much as dreamt of, as may appear out of some manuscripts of his, where you find him wholly silent as to these points, with which the moderns are much pleased.[Euseb. in Chro. edit. num. 2148. & 2158. Vide Scalig. in loc. p. 198. a. & 201. a. See also Card. Perron's Reply to K. James, Observ. 2. c. 8.]
But to return, and take up the thread of time, we may observe that this license grew stronger daily as the times grew worse; because that the greater the distance of time was from the author's own age, the more difficult the discovery of these forgeries must necessarily be: the example also of some of the most eminent persons among the ancients, who had sometimes made use of these sleights, adding on the other side boldness to every one, and courage to venture upon what they had done before them. For indeed, is it not a strange thing, that the legates of Pope Leo, in the year 451, in the midst of the council of Chalcedon, where were assembled six hundred bishops, the very flower and choice of the whole clergy, should have the confidence to quote the sixth canon of the council of Nice in these very words —'That the Church of Rome has always had the primacy:"[Concil. Chalced. Act. 16. tom. 2. Concil.] words which are no more found in any Greek copies of the councils, than are those other pretended canons of Pope Zosimus: neither do they appear in any Greek or Latin copies, nor so much as in the edition of Dionysius Exiguus, who lived about fifty years after this council. When I consider that the legates of so holy a Pope would at that time have fastened such a wen upon the body of so venerable a canon, I am almost ready to think that we scarcely have anything of antiquity left us that is entire and uncorrupt, except it be in matters of indifference, or which could not have been corrupted without much noise; and to take this proceeding of theirs, which is come to our knowledge, as an advertisement purposely given us by Divine Providence, to let us see with how much consideration and advisedness we ought to receive for the council of Nice, and of Constantinople, and for Cyprian's and Jerome's writings, that which goes at this day for such.
About seventy-four years after the council of Chalcedon, Dionysius Exiguus, whom we before mentioned, made his collection at Rome, which is since printed at Paris, cum privilegio regis, out of very ancient manuscripts. Whosoever will but look diligently into this collection, will find various alterations in it, one of which I shall instance merely to show how old this artifice has been among Christians.
The last canon of the council of Laodicea, which is the hundred and sixty-third of the Greek code of the Church universal, forbidding to read in churches any other books than those which are canonical, gives us a long catalogue of them. Dionysius Exiguus, although he has indeed inserted in his collection (Num. 162) the beginning of the said canon, which forbids to read any other books in the churches besides the sacred volumes of the Old and New Testament, yet has wholly omitted the catalog, or list of the said books: fearing, as I conceive, lest the tail of this catalog might scandalize the Church of Rome, where many years before Pope Innocent had, by an express decree to that purpose, put into the canon of the Old Testament [Innocent. l. ep. 3. ad Exup. Tholos. c. 7.] the Maccabees, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, &c.; of which books the Fathers of the council of Laodicea make no mention at all, naming but twenty -two books of the Old Testament; and in the catalog of the New, utterly omitting the Apocalypse.
If, any man can show me a better reason for this suppression, let him speak. For my part I conceive this the most probable that can be given. However, we are not bound to divine what the motive should be, that made Dionysius cut off that part of the canon. For, whatsoever the reason was, it serves the purpose well enough to make it appear that at that time they felt no compunction of conscience in curtailing, if need were, the very text of the canons themselves. So that if we had not had the good fortune to have this canon entire and perfect, in divers other monuments of antiquity, (as in the collections of the Greeks, and also in the councils of the French Church,) we should at this day have been wholly ignorant what the judgment of the Fathers of Laodicea was respecting the canon of the Holy Scriptures, which is one of the principal controversies of these times. It is true, I confess, that the Latins have their revenge upon the Greeks, reproaching them in like manner, that in their translation of the code of the canons of the African Church, they have left the books of the Maccabees quite out of the roll of the books of Scriptures, which is set down in the twenty-fourth canon of their collection, expressly against the faith of all the Latin copies in this collection, both printed and manuscript, as Cardinal Perron affirms.[ Perron Repl. l. 1. c. 50.] Yet there are some others[Christ. Justel. in Not. ad Can. 24. Cod. Gr. Eccles. Afric.] who assure us that no book of Maccabees appears at all in this canon, in the collection of Cresconius, a bishop of Africa, not yet printed.
The Greek code represents to us seven canons of the first council of Constantinople; which are in like manner found both in Balsamon and in Zonaras, and also in the Greek and Latin edition of the general councils, printed at Rome. The three last of these do not appear at all in the Latin code of Dionysius; though they are very important ones as to the business they relate to, which is, the order of proceeding, in passing judgment upon bishops accused, and in receiving such persons, who, forsaking their communion with heretics, desire to be admitted into the Church. It is very difficult to say, what should move the collector to alter this council thus. But this I am very well assured of, that in the sixth canon, which is one of those he has omitted, and which treats of judging of bishops accused, there is not the least mention made of appealing to Rome, nor of any reserved cases, wherein it is not permitted to any, save only to the Pope himself, to judge a bishop; the power of hearing and determining all such matters being here wholly and absolutely referred to provincial diocesan synods. Now whether the Greeks made this addition to the council of Constantinople, (which yet is not very probable,) or whether Dionysius or the Church of Rome curtailed this council, it will still appear evident that this boldness in exscinding or making additions to ecclesiastical writings, is not at all a modern invention. After the canons of Constantinople, there follow, in the Greek code, eight canons of the general council of Ephesus, set down also both by Balsamon and Zonaras, and printed with the acts of the said council of Ephesus, in the first volume of the Roman edition. But Dionysius Exiguus has discarded them all, not giving us any one of them: and you will hardly be able to give a probable guess what his reason should be, unless perhaps it were because the business of the eighth canon displeased him; which is, that the bishops of Cyprus had their ordinations within themselves, without admitting the patriarch of Antioch to have anything to do with it; and that the same course ought to be observed in all other provinces and dioceses; so that no bishop should have power to intrude into a province which had not from the beginning been under his and his predecessor's jurisdiction: "For fear, that under the pretense of the administration of sacred offices, the pride of a secular power should thrust itself into the Church; and by this means we should lose," say these good Fathers, "by little and little, before we were aware, the liberty that our Lord Jesus Christ hath purchased for us with his own blood."[ Ἱνα με των πατερων οἱ κανονες παραβαινωνται, μηδε ἐν ἱερουργιας προσχηματι, ἐξουσιας κοσμικης τυφος παρησδυηται μηδε λαθωμεν την ἐλευθεριαν κατα μικρον, ἀπολεσαντες ἡν ἡμειν ἐδωρητατο τῳ ἰδῳ αἱματι ὁ Κυριος ἡμων Ἰησους Χριστος. — Concil. Eph. Can. 8. qui in 7. Gr. est 178. Cod. Can. Eccl.]
I know not, whether this constitution, and these words, have put the Latins into any fright or not; or whether any other reason has induced them not to receive the canons of the council of Ephesus into their code. But this is certain that they do not appear any where among them; and it is now at the least seven hundred and fifty years and upward, that Anastasius Bibliothecarius,[Anastas. Biblioth. Praef. in Synod. 8. tom. 3. Concil. Gen.] the Pope's library-keeper, testified, that these canons were not any where to be found in the most ancient Latin copies; accusing moreover the Greeks of having forged them. Let them settle this dispute among themselves. Whether these canons were forged by the Greeks; or whether they have been blotted out of this council, by the Latins; it is still a clear case, that the cheat is very near eight hundred years standing. But in the next example that follows, the business is evidently clear. For whereas the Greek code, Num. 206, sets before us, in the 28th canon of the general council of Chalcedon, a decree of those Fathers, by which, conformably to the first council of Constantinople, they ordained, that "seeing the city of Constantinople was the seat of the senate, and of the empire, and enjoyed the same privileges with the city of Rome; therefore it should in like manner be advanced to the same height and greatness in ecclesiastical affairs, being the second church in order, after Rome: and that the bishop of it should have the ordaining of Metropolitans in the three dioceses of Pontus, Asia, and Thrace."[ Την βασιλειᾳ και συγκλητῳ τιμηθεισαν πολιν, και των ἰσων ἀπολαυουσαν πρεσβειων τη πρεσβυτερᾳ βασιλιδι Ρομη, και ἐν τοις ἐκκλησιαστικοις ὡς ἐκεινην μεγαλουνεσθαι πραγμασι, δευτεραν μετ' ἐκεινην ὑπαρχουσαν. — Conc. Chalc. Can. 28. Cod. Graec. Eccl. Univ. 206.]
This canon is found both in Balsamon and Zonaras; and has also the testimony of the greatest part of the ecclesiastical historians, both Greek and Latin, that it is a legitimate canon of the council of Chalcedon; in the acts of which council, at this day also extant, it is set down at large: yet, notwithstanding, in the collection of Dionysius Exiguus this canon appears not at all, no more than if there had never been any such thing thought of at Chalcedon. We know very well, that Pope Leo and some others of his successors rejected it; but he that promised us that he would make an orderly digest of the canons of the councils, and translate them out of the Greek; why or how did he, or ought he, to omit this so remarkable a canon? If all other evidences had been lost, how should we have been able so much as to have guessed that any such thing was ever treated of at Chalcedon? Where, or by what means, could we have learned what the opinion was of the six hundred and thirty Fathers, who met there together respecting this point, which is the most important one of all those that are at this day controverted among us? It is now eleven hundred years and upward, since this omission was first made. And who will pass his word to us, that among so many other writings, whether of councils or particular men's works, whether Greek or Latin, similar liberty has not been at any time used? Rather by these forgeries which have come to our knowledge, who can doubt but that there have been many others of the same kind, which we are ignorant of? You have gone along innocently perhaps, reading these books of the ancients, and believing you there find the pure sense of antiquity; and yet you see here, that from the beginning of the sixth century they have made no scruple of cutting off, from the most sacred books they had, whatsoever was not agreeable to the taste of the times. And therefore, though we had no more against them than this, it were, in my judgment, a sufficient reason to induce us to go on here very warily, and, as they say, with a tight rein, through this whole business.
In the next place there is a very observable corruption in the epistle of Adrian I. to the Emperor Constantine, in the time of the second council of Nice.[Concil. 7, Act. 2, tom. 3, Concil.] For in the Latin collection of Anastasius, made about seven hundred and fifty years since, Adrian is there made to speak very highly and magnificently of the supremacy of his see; and he rebukes the Greeks very shrewdly, for having conferred upon Tarasius, the patriarch of Constantinople, the title of Universal Bishop; and all this while there is not so much as one word of this to be found either in the Greek edition of the said seventh council, nor yet in the common Latin ones. The Romanists accuse the Greeks of having suppressed these two clauses; and the Greeks again accuse the Romanists of having foisted them in: neither is it easy to determine on which side the guilt lies. However, it is sufficient for me, that wheresoever the fault lies, it evidently appears hence, that this curtailing and adding to authors, according to the interest of the present times, has now a very long time been in practice amongst Christians. It appears also very evidently, in the next piece following in the same council, namely, the Epistle of Adrian to Tarasius, that it is quite another thing in the Greek from what it is in Anastasius's Latin translation; and that in points too of as high importance as those others before mentioned. So in the fifth act likewise, where both in the Greek text, and also in the old Latin translation, Tarasius is called Universal Bishop,[Concil. 7, Act 5, tom. 3, Cone. t lb. p. 557.] this title appears not at all in Anastasius's translation.
In the same act the Fathers accuse the Iconoclasts[Ib. p. 557.] of having cut many leaves out of a certain book in the library at Constantinople; and that at a certain city called Photia, they had burned to the number of thirty volumes; that besides this, they had erased the annotations out of a certain book; and all this out of the malice they bore against images, of which these books spoke well and favorably.
Yet I do not see how we can excuse the Romanists from being guilty of corrupting Anastasius in those passages above noted; nor yet of the injury they do Eusebius, in the exposition which they give of certain words of his, only to render him odious; objecting against him, because he says, that "the carnal form of Jesus Christ was changed into the nature of the Deity:" — Ὁτι μετεβληθη ἡ ἐνσαρκος αὐτου μορφη εἰς την της θειοτητος φυσιν. Whereas all that he says is, "that it was changed by the Deity dwelling in it:" ἡ ἐνσαρκος ἀυτου μορφη προς της ἐνοικουσης ἀυτη θειοτιτος μεταβληθεισα.[ Concil. 7, Act. 6, advers. Synod. Iconocl. Sect. 5.]
Hence it appears how much credit we are to give to these men, when they instance here and there divers strange and unheard of pieces; and on the contrary scornfully reject whatever their adversaries bring; as, for example, that remarkable passage quoted by them out of Epiphanius; which passage they refused as supposititious: "Because, (said they,) if Epiphanius had been of the same judgment with the Iconoclasts, he would then in his Panarium have reckoned the reverencing of images among the other heresies:" Εἰ την των ειδωλων ποιησιν ἀλλοτριαν του Χριστου ἐγινωσκεν, εἰς τον ἀριθμον των αἱρεσεων ταυτην κατεταξεν ἀν. [lb. p. 616.]
May not a man, by the same reason, as well conclude that Epiphanius was a favorer of the Iconoclasts? for otherwise he would have included their doctrine among the rest of the heresies enumerated by him. I shall not here say anything of their refusing so boldly and confidently those passages quoted from Theodotus Ancyranus, and others. Since that time you will find nothing more common in the books both of the Greeks and the Latins, than the like reproaches, that they mutually cast upon each other, of having corrupted the writings and evidences wherein their cause was the most concerned. As, for example, at the council of Florence;[Concil. Florent. Act. 18, tom. 4, Conc.] Mark, bishop of Ephesus, disputing concerning the procession of the Holy Ghost, had nothing to answer to two passages that were alleged against him, (the one out of that piece of Epiphanius which is entitled Anchoratus, the other out of Basil's writings against Eunomius,) but that "that piece of Epiphanius had been long since corrupted," (τουτο το βιβλιον ἐστι διεφθαρμενον προ πολλων χρονων:) and so likewise of that other passage out of Basil, that "some one or other who favored the opinion of the Latins, had accommodated it to their views:" moreover protesting,[Ib. Act. 20.] that in all Constantinople there were but four copies of the said book that had that passage quoted by the Latins; but that there were in the said city above a thousand other copies wherein those words were not to be found at all.
The Latins had nothing to retort upon them more readily than that it had been the ordinary practice, not of the West but of the East, to corrupt books; and for proof thereof, they cite a passage out of Cyril, which we have heretofore noticed: where, notwithstanding, he says not anything but of the heretics, (that is, the Nestorians,) who were said to have falsified the epistle of Athanasius to Epictetus; but not a word there of all the Eastern men, much less of the whole Greek Church. The Greeks then retorted upon the Latins the story of Pope Zosimus, mentioned in the preceding chapter. Thus did they unceremoniously assail each other, having, as may be easily perceived, much more appearance of reason and of truth in their accusation of their adversaries, than in excusing or defending themselves.
I shall here also give you another similar answer, made by one Gregorius, a Greek monk, a strong maintainer of the union made at Florence, to a passage cited by Mark, bishop of Ephesus, out of a certain book of John Damascene; affirming that "the Father only is the cause," to wit, in the Trinity.[Apol. Gregor. Mon. Protosyn. contra Ep. Marc. Eph. in tom. 4. Concil.] "These words (saith this monk) are not found in any of the ancient copies," which is an evident argument, that it had been afterwards foisted in by the Greeks, to bring over this doctor to their opinion. Petavius has in like manner lately rid himself of an objection, taken out of the sixty-eighth canon of the Apostles, against the fasting on Saturdays, which is observed in the Romish Church, pretending that the Greeks have falsified this canon.[Petavius Not. in Epiphan.]
But whosoever desires to see how full of uncertainty the writings of this later antiquity are, let him but read the eighth council, which is pretended by the Western church to be a general council, and but compare the Latin and the Greek copies together; — taking especial notice also of the preface of Anastasius Bibliothecarius; who (after he has very sharply reproved the ambition of the Greeks, and accused the canons which they produce of the third general council as forged and supposititious,) to make short work with them says, in plain terms, that the Greeks have corrupted all the councils except the first.
What then have we now left us to build upon, seeing that this corruption has prevailed even as far as on the councils, which are the very heart of the ancient monuments of the Church? Nor yet has the Nicene creed, which has been approved and made sacred in so many general councils, been able to escape these alterations. Not to say anything of these expressions, which are of little importance, de coelis, from heaven; secundum Scripturas, according to the Scriptures; Deum de Deo, God of God; which cardinal Julian affirmed at the council of Florence [Concil. Flor. Sess. 12.] were to be found in some creeds, and in some others were not: it is now the space of some ages past, since the Eastern church accused the Western of having added Filioque (and the Son) in the article on the procession of the Holy Ghost: the Western men as senselessly charging upon them again, that they have cut it off;[Concil. Flor. Ses. 4 et. 5, et Concil. 7, Act. 7, quo loco videnda an not. marg.] which is an alteration, though but trivial in appearance, of vast importance to both sides, for the decision of that great controversy which has hitherto caused a separation betwixt them; namely, "Whether or not the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son as well as from the Father:" which is an evident argument, that either the one or the other of them has, out of a desire to do service to their own side, laid false hands upon this sacred piece.
Now whatever has been attempted in this kind by the ancients, may well pass for innocence, if compared with what these later times have dared to do: their passion being of late years so much heated, that, laying all reason and honesty aside, they have most miserably and shamelessly corrupted all kinds of books and of authors. Of those men that go so desperately to work, we cannot certainly speak of their baseness as it deserves: and in my judgment, Laurentius Bochellus, in his preface to the Decreta Ecclesiae Gallicanae, had all the reason in the world to detest these men, as "people of a most wretched and malicious spirit, who have most miserably mutilated an infinite number of authors, both sacred and profane, ancient and modern; their ordinary custom being to spare no person, no not kings; nor even St. Louis himself; out of whose Pragmatica Sanctio (as they call it) they have blotted out certain articles (principally those which concerned the state of France,) from that library of the Fathers, the Constitutiones Regiae, and others also from the Synodical Decrees of certain Bishops, lately printed at Paris. Woe, woe, (to speak with the prophet) to these mischievous knaves who do not only lay such treacherous snares for the venerable chastity and integrity of the Muses, but do also most impudently and wickedly deflower, under a false and counterfeit pretence of religion, even the Muses themselves, accounting this juggling to be but a kind of pious fraud."[ Taceo innumeros auctores sacros, profanos, veteres, recentiores ab istis tam improbi quam infoelicis ingenii hominibus miserabiliter decurtatos, vel ipsis regibus parcere non assuetis, nedum S. Ludovico, cujus Pragmatica (ut vocant) Sanctionis articulos nonnullos, maxime ad rei Gallicae statum pertinentes, abs bibliotheca ilia SS. PP. Constitutionibus Regiis; et statutis Episcoporum quorundam Synodalibus reginae urbium Lutetian nuper impressis, expunxerunt. Vae, iterum vae, ut cum Vidente exclamem, nebulonibus, qui tales Musarum castitati et integritati venerandae non solum insidias struunt, sed et Musas ipsas impudenter, et nequiter subdolo religionis zelo, nullius frontis homines devirginant, fucumque istum pietatis nomen ementitum, inter pias fraudes numerant. — Laur. Bochel. Praefat. in decret. Eccles. Gal.]
We do not here write against these men; it is sufficient for us to give a hint only of that which is as clear as the sun; namely, that they have altered and corrupted, by their additions in some places, and curtailing in others, very many of the evidences of the ancient belief. These are they, who in this part of the twelfth epistle of Cyprian, written to the people of Carthage — "I desire that they would but patiently hear our council, &c. that our fellow bishops being assembled together with us, we may together examine the letters and desires of the blessed martyrs, according to the doctrine of our Lord, and in the presence of the confessors, et secundum vestram quoque sententiam, (and according as you also shall think convenient)"[Audiant quaeso patienter consilium nostrum; expectent regressionem nostram, ut cum ad vos per Dei misericordiam venerimus, convocati coepiscopi plures secundum Domini doctrinam, et confessorum praesentiam, beatorum Martyrum literas et desideria examinare possimus. (Cypr. Ep. 12. Extr.)— Cypr. Pamel. et Gryph. Lugd. an. 1537, l. 3, ep. 16, p. 148; aliae editiones, ut Manutii, item Morelli, Par. an. 1564, p. 158, legunt "secundum vestram quoque sententiam."] — have maliciously left out these words, et secundum vestram quoque sententiam: by which we may plainly understand, that these men would not by any means have us know, that the faithful people had ever anything to do with, or had any vote in, the affairs of the Church. These are the same, who, in his fortieth epistle, have changed Petram into Petrum;[Cathedra una super Petrum Domini voce fundata. (Cypr. Pamel. Epist. 40, p. 76.)— Gryph. an. 1537, p. 52, Morel, an. 1564, p. 124, habebant super Petram,] (a Rock into Peter;) and who, following the steps of the ancient corrupters, have foisted into his tract De Unitate Ecclesiae, wherever they thought fit, whole periods and sentences, against the faith of the best and most uncorrupted manuscripts: as, for example in this place; "He built his Church on Him alone, (Peter,) and commanded him to feed his sheep; "[Super ilium unum aedificat Ecclesiam suam, et illi pascendas mandat oves suas. (Cypr. Pamel. p. 254.) — Quae verba desiderantur in edit. Gryph. anno 1537, et Morel, anno. 1564.] and in this; "He established one sole chair:"[Unam cathedram constituit. (Cypr. Pamel. ibid.) — Quae verba desiderabantur in editione Gryphii, anno 1537, et Morel, anno 1564.] and this other; "The primacy was given to Peter, to show that there was but one church, and one chair of Christ: "[Primatus Petro datur, ut una Ecclesia Christi, et cathedra una monstretur; et pastores sunt omnes; sed unus grex ostenditur, qui ab Apostolis omnibus unanimi consensione pascatur. (Cypr. Pamel. ibid. — Quae verba omnia, exceptis illis (ut una Ecclesia monstretur) non habebantur in edit. Gryph. neque Morel, uti sup.] and this; "Who left the chair to Peter, on which he had built his church."[Qui cathedram Petri super quam fundata est Ecclesia. (Cypr. Pamel. p. 254.) — Absunt a Gryph. et Morel, edit.] These being additions which every one may see the object of.
These are the men who cannot conceal the regret they have for not having suppressed an epistle of Firmilianus, archbishop of Csesarea in Cappadocia, who was one of the most eminent persons of his time; which epistle Manutius had indeed omitted in his Roman edition of Cyprian;[Atque adeo fortassis consultius foret, nunquam editam fuisse hanc epistolam; ita ut putem, consulto illam omisisse Manutium. — Pamel. in arg. ep. 75. Cypr.] but was afterwards inserted by Morellius in his, amongst the epistles of Cyprian, to whom it was written; and all because it informs us how the other bishops in ancient times had dealt with the Pope. Thus we may hence observe of what temper these men have always been, and may guess how many similar pieces have been killed in the nest. Out of the like store-house it is, that poor Ambrose is sent abroad, but so ill accoutred, and in so pitiful a plight, that Nicolas Faber has very much bewailed the corruption of him.[Nic. Faber, in ep. ad Front. Dueaeum in Opusc. p. 216.] For those gentlemen who have published him being over ingenious (as he saith) in another man's works, have changed, mangled, and transposed divers things: and especially have they separated the books of the "Interpellation of Job, and of David," which were put together in all other editions; and to do this they have, by no very commendable example, foisted in and altered divers things: and they have likewise done as much in the "First Apology of David;" and more yet in the second; where they have erased out of the eighth chapter five or six lines which are found in all the ancient editions of this Father.[Nich. Faber, ibid. p. 215.] They have also attributed to this author certain tracts which are not his; as that "Of the forbidden Tree;" and that other, upon the last chapter of the Proverbs. We may, by the way, also take notice, that this is the edition which they followed, who printed Ambrose's works at Paris, anno 1603. They were such hands as these that so villainously curtailed the book "Of the Lives of the Popes," written by Anastasius, or rather by Damasus; leaving out, in the very entry of it, the author's epistle dedicatory, written to Jerome, because it did not so well suit with the present temper of Rome; omitting, in like manner, in the life of Peter, the passage which I shall here quote as it is found in all manuscripts: "He consecrated St. Clement Bishop, and committed to his charge the ordering of his seat, or of the whole Church, saying, As the power of binding, and loosing, was delivered to me by my Lord Jesus Christ; in like manner do I commit to thy charge the appointing of such persons as may determine such ecclesiastical causes as may arise; that thou thyself mayest not be taken up with worldly cares, but mayest apply thy whole studies only to prayer, and preaching to the people. After he had thus disposed of his seat, he was crowned with martyrdom." [Hic. B. Clementem Episcopum consecravit, eique cathedram, vel ecclesiam omnem disponendam commisit, dicens: Sicut mihi gubernandi tradita est a Domino meo Jesu Christo potestas ligandi solvendique; ita et ego tibi committo, ut ordines dispositores diversarum causarum, per quos actus ecclesiasticus profligetur; et tu minime in curis seculi deditus reperiaris, sed solummodo ad orationem, et praedicationem populi vacare stude. Post hanc dispositionem Martyrio coronatur. — Habentur hasc ex Euchar. Salm. ad Sirmond. cap. 5. Editio Par. anno 1621, p. 664.] This is the testament that Peter made; but it has been suppressed and kept from us, because in it he has charged his successors with such duties as are quite contrary both to their humour and practice. In another place, in the same book, instead of Papa Urbis (that is to say, " the Pope or Bishop of the city," namely, of Rome, as all manuscripts have it) these worthy gentlemen will needs have us read Papa Orbis, that is, "the Bishop of the whole world:"[Dei ordinante providentia Papa Orbis consecratus est. (Anastaa. in Stephano v. p. 215.) — MSS. habent, Papa Urbis: ex Salm. in Euchar. ad Sirmond. pag. 464.] inasmuch as this is now the style of the court, and this has long since become the title of the bishop of Rome.
These are the men, who in Fulbertus, bishop of Chartres,[Vid. Fulbert. Carnot. Edit, a Villerio, anno 1608, Par. p. 168.] (where he cites that remarkable passage of Augustine, "This then is a figure commanding us to communicate of the passion of the Lord,") have inserted these words, "Figura ergo est, dicet haereticus:" (It is a figure then, will a heretic say:) cunningly making us believe this to be the saying of a heretic, which was indeed the true sense and meaning of Augustine himself, and so cited by Fulbertus. These are the very men also, who in St. Gregory have changed exercitus sacerdotum into exitus sacerdotum; reading, in the 38th epistle of his fourth book, thus: "All things, &c. which have been foretold, are accomplished. The king of pride (he speaks of Antichrist) is at hand; and, which is horrible to be spoken, the failing (or end) of priests is prepared: whereas the manuscripts (and it is so cited by Bellarmine too) read, "An army of priests is prepared for him."[Omnia, &c. quae praedicta sunt, fiunt. Rex Superbiae prope est; et quod dici nefas est, Sacerdotum ei praeparatur exitus. (Gregor M. ep. 1. 4. ep. 38.) — MSS. habent, 'Sacerdotum ei praeparatur exercitus:' ex Tho. James, in Vindic. Gregor. loc. 666; quomodo citatur etiam a Bellarmino hie locus, lib. 3. de Rom. Pont. c. 13. Sect. Addit. et extr. c. Sect, pari ratione.]
These are they who have made Aimoinus to say, that the Fathers of the pretended eighth general council "had ordained the adoration of images, according as had been before determined by the orthodox doctors:" whereas he wrote quite contrary, "that they had ordained otherwise than had been formerly determined by the orthodox doctors;" as appears plainly, not only by the manuscripts, but also by the most ancient editions of this author; and even by Card. Baronius, quoting this passage also, in the tenth tome of his Annals, anno Domini 869.[ In qua Synodo, (quam Octavam Universalem illuc convenientes appellarunt) de imaginibus adorandis, secundum quod orthodoxi doctores antea definierant, statuerunt. (Aimon. de Gest. Franc, lib. 5, c. 8.) — Legendum; "Aliter quam orthodoxi definierant; sic enim legit ipse Baron. Annal. tom. 10. an. 869.] These are they who have entirely erased this following passage out of OEcumenius: "For they who defended and favored the law, introduced also the worshipping of angels; and that, because the law had been given by them. And this custom continued long in Phrygia, insomuch that the council of Laodicea made a decree, forbidding to make any addresses to angels, or to pray to them: whence also it is that we find many temples among them erected to Michael the Archangel. "[Οἱ γαρ τω νομω συνηγορουντες, και τους ἀγγελους σεβεινεἰσηγουντο, ὁτι δἰ ἀυτων σαι ὁ νομος ἐδοθη. Ἐμεινε δε τουτο κατα Φρυγιαν το ἐθος, ὡς και την ἐν Ααοδικεια συνοδον νομῳ κωλυσαι το προσιεναι ἀγγελοις, και προσευχεσθαι ἀφ' οὑ και ναοι παρ' ἀυτοις του ἀρχιστρατηγου Μιχαηλ πολλοι.]
This passage David Hoeschelius, in his notes upon the books of Origen against Celsus, p. 483, witnesses that he himself had seen and read in the manuscripts of OEcumenius; and yet there is no such thing to be found in any of the printed copies. Who would believe but that the Breviaries and Missals should have escaped their pruning-knife? Yet, as it has been observed by persons of eminent learning and honesty, where it was read, in the collect on St. Peter's day heretofore thus: "Deus, qui B. Petro Apostolo tuo, collatis clavibus regni coelestis, animas ligandi, et solvendi Pontificium tradidisti:" (that is, O God, who hast committed to thy Apostle St. Peter, by giving him the keys of the heavenly kingdom, the episcopal power of binding and loosing souls:[ Simon Vigor. 1. 1. de la Monarch. Ecclesiastique, ch. 1. F. Paolo di Vinet Apol. contr. Bellarm. Sic legitur in Brev. Clement, viii. jussu recognitis, p. 937.]) in the later editions of these Breviaries and Missals, they have wholly left out the word animas (souls;) to the end that people should not think that the Pope's authority extended only to spiritual affairs, and not to temporal also. So likewise in the Gospel upon the Tuesday following the Third Sunday in Lent, they have printed, "Dixit Jesus discipulis suis;"[Sic legitur in Breviar. Clem. viii. jussu recogn. p. 369.] (that is, "Jesus said to his disciples;") whereas it was in the old books, "Respiciens Jesus in discipulos dixit Simoni Petro, Si peccaverit in te frater tuus:"[Sic legebatur in Brev. imprcs. Paris. 1492, per Jo. de Prato.] (Jesus, looking back upon his disciples, said unto Simon Peter, If thy brother have offended against thee, &c.,) cunningly omitting those words relating to Simon Peter, for fear it might be thought that our Savior Christ had made St. Peter, that is to say, the Pope, subject to the tribunal of the Church to which he there sends him.
If the council of Trent would but have hearkened to Thomas Passio, a canon of Valencia, they should have blotted out of the Pontifical all such passages as make any mention of the people's giving their suffrage and consent in the ordination of the ministers of the Church: and, among the rest, that where the bishop, at the ordination of a priest, saith, "That it was not without good reason, that the Fathers had ordained that the advice of the people should be taken in the election of those persons who were to serve at the altar; to the end that having given their assent to their ordination, they might the more readily yield obedience to those who were so ordained."[ Neque enim fuit frustra a patribus institutum, ut de electione illorum, qui ad regimen altaris adhibendi sunt, consulatur etiam populus; qui de vita et conversatione praesentandi, quod nonnunquam ignoratur a pluribus, scitur a paucis; et necesse est, et facilius ei quis obedientiam exhibeat ordinato, cui assensum prsebuerit ordinando. — Pontif. Rom. de Ordinat. Presbyt. fol. 38.] The meaning of this honest canon was, that to take away all such authorities from the heretics, the best way would be to blot them all out of the Pontifical; to the end that there might be no trace or footstep of them left remaining for the future.
They have not, however, contented themselves with merely corrupting in this manner certain books, out of which perhaps we might have been able to discover what the opinion and sense of the ancients has been:[Pet. Soave, Hist. Concil. Trident. l. 7.] but they have also wholly abolished a very great number of others. And for the better understanding of this, we should notice that the emperors of the first ages took all possible care to suppress and abolish all such writings as were declared prejudicial to the true faith; as the books of the Arians and Nestorians and others; which were forbidden to be read under a great penalty, but were to be wholly suppressed and abolished by the appointment of these ancient princes.
The Church itself also sometimes called in the books of such persons as had been dead long before, by the common consent of the Catholic party, as soon as they perceived anything in them that was not consonant to the present opinion of the Church: as it did at the fifth general council,[Conc. 5. Col. 8.] in the business of Theodoras, Theodoretus, and Ibas, all three bishops, the one of Mopsuestia, the other of Cyrus, and the third of Edessa: anathematizing each of their several writings, notwithstanding these persons had been all dead long before: dealing also, even in the quiet times of the Church, with Origen in the same manner, after he had been dead about three hundred years. [Col. 5. et Col. 8. Anath. 11.]
The Pope hath not failed to imitate, for the space of many ages, both the one and the other of these rigorous courses; increasing moreover the harshness of them from time to time: insomuch that, in case any of the opinions of the ancients has been by chance found at any time to contradict his, there is no doubt but that he has very carefully and diligently suppressed such writings, without sparing any, more than the others, though they were written perhaps two, three, four, or five hundred years before. As for example, it is at this time disputed, whether or not the primitive Church had in their temples, and worshipped, the images of Christ and of saints. This controversy has been sometimes very warmly, and with much heat, and for a long time together, disputed in the Greek Church. That party which maintained the affirmative, bringing the business before the seventh council held at Nicaea,[Concil. 7, Act. 8, Can. 9.] it was there ordained, that it should be unlawful for any man to have the books of the other party, and charging every man to bring what books they had of that party to the patriarch of Constantinople, to do with them, as we may imagine, according as had been required by the legates of Pope Adrian; that is, "That they should burn all those books which had been written against the venerable images:"[ Ινα παντα τα συγγραμματα τα κατα των σεπτων εἰκονων γενομενα μετα ἀναθεματισμου λειανθωσιν, ἠ τω πυρι παραδοθωσι. — Idem. Act. 5.] including no doubt, within the same condemnation, all such writings of the ancients as seemed not to favor images; as the epistle of Eusebius to Constantia; and that of Epiphanius to John of Jerusalem, and others which are not now extant, but were in all probability at that time abolished. As for the epistle of Epiphanius, that which we now have is only Jerome's translation of it, which happened to be preserved in the western parts, where the feeling in behalf of images was much less violent than it was in the eastern: but the original Greek of it is nowhere to be found. Adrian II. in his council ordained, in like manner, that the council held by Photius against the Church of Rome should be burnt, together with his other books, and all the books of those of his party which had been written against the see of Rome: and he commanded the very same thing also in the eighth council, which is accounted by the Latins for a general council.[Cap. 1. habetur in Concil. 8. Act. 7. Ibid. Act. 1. in Ep. Adriani.]
It is impossible but that in these fires very many works must needs have perished that might have been of great use to us for discovering what the opinion of the ancients was, whether respecting images, which was the business of the seventh council; or that other controversy respecting the power of the Pope, which was the principal point debated in the synod held by Photius; some of whose writings, for the self-same reason, they at this day keep at Rome under lock and key; which doubtless they would long ere this have published, had they but told as much for the Pope as in all probability they tell against him. This rigorous proceeding against books at length arrived to such a height, that Leo X., at the council of Lateran, which broke up in the year 1518, decreed, "that no book should be printed but what had first been diligently examined at Rome by the Master of the Palace, in other places by the bishop, or some other person deputed by him for the same purpose, and by the Inquisitor, under this penalty, That all booksellers offending herein should forfeit their books, which should be burnt in public, and should pay a hundred ducats, when it should be demanded, towards the fabric of St. Peter, (a kind of punishment this, which we find no example of in all the canons of the ancient Church;) and should also be suspended from exercising his function, for the space of a whole year."[Conc. Later, sub Leone X. Sess. 10.]
This is a general sentence, and which comprehends as well the works of the Fathers as of any others; as appears plainly by this, that the bishop of Malfi, having given in his opinion, saying, that he concurred with them in relation to new authors but not to the old, all the rest of the Fathers voted simply for all;[Responderunt omnes placere, excepto R. P. D. Alexio, episcopo Melfitano, qui dixit, Placere de novis operibus, non autem de antiquis. — Ibid.] neither was there any limitation at all added to this decree of the council. This very decree has been since strongly confirmed by the council of Trent,[Concil. Trid. Sess. 5. Decreto de Edit. et usu Sacror.libr.] which appointed also certain persons to take a review of the books and censures, and to make a report of them to the company, "to the end that there might be a separation made between the good grain of Christian verity and the tares of strange doctrines:"[Quo facilius ipsa possit varias et peregrinas doctrinas, tanquam zizania, a Christianae veritatis tritieo separare. — Idem. Sess. 18.] that is, in plain terms, that they might suppress in all kinds of books whatever relished not well with the taste of the Church of Rome. But these Fathers, having not the leisure themselves to look to this pious work, appointed certain commissaries who should give an account of this matter to the Pope:[Concil. Trident. Sess. 25. decreto de Indice libr.] whence, afterwards it came to pass, that first Pope Pius IV. and afterwards Sixtus V. and Clement VIII. published certain rules and indexes of such authors and books as they thought fit should be either quite abolished or purged only, and have given such strict order for the printing of books, as that in those countries where this order is observed, there is little danger that ever anything should be published, that is either contrary to the doctrine of the Church of Rome, or which advances anything in favor of their adversaries.
All these instructions, which are too long to be inserted here, may be seen at the end of the council of Trent where they are usually given at full. To enforce these rules they have put forth their Indices Expurgatorii (as they call them;) namely, that of the Low Countries, and of Spain and other places; where these men sit in judgment upon all kinds of books, erasing and altering, as they please, periods, chapters, and often whole treatises, and that too in the works of those men who for the most part were born, and educated, and died also, in the communion of their own Church.
If the Church, eight or nine hundred years since, had razors sharp as these men now have, it is then a vain thing for us to search any higher what the judgment of the primitive Christians was on any particular point: for whatsoever it was, it could not have escaped the hands of such masters. And if the ancient Church had not heretofore any such institution as this, why then do we, who pretend to be such observers of antiquity, practice these novelties? I know very well that those men make profession of reforming only the writings of the moderns: but who sees not that this is but a cloak which they throw over themselves, lest they should be accused as guilty of the same cruelty that Jupiter is among the poets, for having behaved himself so insolently to his own father? Those pieces which they erase so scrupulously from the books of the moderns, are the cause of the greater mischief to themselves, when they are found in the writings of the ancients, as sometimes they are. For what a senseless thing is it to leave them in where they hurt most, and to erase them where they do little harm.
The inquisition at Madrid[Ind. Expurgat. Sandoval, in Athanas. Ind. 1.] omits these words in the index of Athanasius, "Adorari solius Dei est;" (that is, God alone is to be worshiped ) Ὀυκουν θεου ἑστι μονου το προσκυνεισθαι:[ Athanas. Orat. 3, contra Arian.] and yet, notwithstanding, these words are still expressly found in the text of Athanasius. The same father saith, "that there were some other books, besides those which he had before set down, which, in truth, were not of the canon, and which the Fathers had ordained should be read to those who were newly come into the Christian communion, and desired to be instructed in the word of piety. "[Ἐστι και ἑτερα βιβλια τουτων ἐξωθεν, οὐ κανονιζομενα μεν, τετυπωμενα δεπαρα των πατερων ἀναγινωσκεσθαι τοις ἀρτι προσερχομενοις και βουλομενοις κατωηχεισθαι τον ἐυσεβειας λογον. — Id. in Frag. et Fest.]
They reckoned in this number the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Esther, Tobit, and some others. Nevertheless these very censors erased, in the index of Athanasius's works, those words which affirm that the said books are not at all canonical. In the index of Augustine they erased these words: "Christ hath given the sign of his body:" which yet are evidently to be seen in the text of this Father, in his book against Adimantus, chap. 12.[Id. in August.] They erased, in like manner, these words: "Augustine accounted the Eucharist necessary to be administered to infants:" which opinion of Augustine is very frequently found expressed either in these very words, or the like, throughout his works, as we shall see hereafter. They likewise erased these words: "We ought not to build temples to angels:" and yet the very text of Augustine says, "If we should erect a temple of wood or of stone to any of the holy angels, should we not be anathematized?"[Nonne si templum alicui sancto angelo excellentissimo de lignis et lapidibus faceremus, anathematizemur a veritate Christi, et ab ecclesia Dei, &c. — Infr. l. 1. c. 8. Ind. Exp. Sandov. in August, contr. Maxim, lib.]
This is the practice of the censors, both in the Low Countries and in Spain, in many other particulars, which we shall not here notice. Now if you cut off such sentences as these from the indexes of these holy Fathers, why do you not as well erase them from the text also? Or if you leave them in the one, why do you blot them out in the other? What can the meaning be of so strange a way of proceeding in such wise men? Yet who sees not the reason of it? The sentences which these men thus boldly and rudely correct, are as displeasing to them In the ancients as in the moderns; and where they may safely do it they expunge them, as well from the one as the other. But this they dare not do openly, for fear of incurring scandal, which they are willing to avoid; because if they should deal so unceremoniously, and take such liberty with antiquity, they would destroy that respect which all people bear towards it; which being a matter that very nearly concerns themselves, it is a special point of wisdom in them, carefully to preserve its reputation. But in lashing the poor moderns, who have made indexes to all the works of the Fathers, they save their credit, and do their business too; ruining the opinions which they hate by chastising the one, and still preserving the venerable esteem of antiquity, which they cannot exist without, by sparing the other.
I cannot however see why Bertram, a priest, who lived in the time of the emperor Charles the Bald, which is about seven hundred and fifty years since, should be classed among the moderns: and yet his book, "De Corpore et Sanguine Domini," is absolutely, and without any limitation, forbidden to be read, in the index of the council of Trent, in the letter B, among the authors of the second classis, as they call them. But the censors of the Low Countries have dealt with him more gently, shall I say, or rather more cruelly; not quite taking his life away, but only maiming him in the several parts of his body, and leaving him in the like sad condition with Deiphobus in the poet: —
"Lacerum crudeliter ora,For they have cut off, with one single dash of their pen, two long passages, consisting each of them of twenty-eight or thirty lines, and which are large enough to make up a very considerable part of a small treatise, such as his.
Ora manusque ambas populataque tempora, raptis
Auribus, et truncas inhonesto vulnere nares."
That the reader may the better judge of the business, I shall here extract one of these passages entire as it is:
"We ought further to consider (says Bertram, speaking of the holy Eucharist) that in this bread is represented not only the body of Christ, but the body of the people also that believe in Him. And hence it is that it is made up of many several grains of wheat, because the whole body of believing people is united together, and made into one, by the word of Christ. And therefore as it is by a mystery that we receive this bread for the body of Christ, in like manner it is by a mystery also, that the members of the people believing in Christ are here figured unto us. As this bread is called the body of believers, not corporeally but spiritually; so is the body of Christ also necessarily to be understood as represented here, not corporeally but spiritually. In like manner is it in the wine, which is called the blood of Christ; and with which it is ordained that water be mixed; it being forbidden to offer the one without the other: because as the head cannot subsist without the body, nor the body without the head; in like manner neither can the people be without Christ, nor Christ without the people. So that in this sacrament the water represents the image of the people. If then the wine, after it is consecrated by the office of ministers, be corporeally changed into the blood of Christ, of necessity then must the water also be changed corporeally into the body of the believing people: because that where there is but one only, and the same sanctification, there can be but one and the same operation; and where the reason is equal, the mystery also that follows it is equal. But as for the water, we see that there is no such corporeal change wrought in it: it therefore follows that neither in the wine is there any corporeal transmutation. Whatsoever then of the body of the people is signified unto us, by the water, is taken spiritually: it follows therefore necessarily that we must, in like, manner, take spiritually whatsoever the wine represents unto us of the blood of Christ. Again, those things, which differ among themselves, are not the same. Now the body of Christ which died, and was raised up to life again, dies no more, having become immortal; and death having no more power over it, it is eternal and free from further suffering. But this, which is consecrated in the Church, is temporal, not eternal; corruptible, not free from corruption; in its journey, and not in its native country. These two things therefore are different, one from the other, and consequently cannot be one and the same thing. And if they be not one and the same thing, how can any man say that this is the real body and real blood of Christ? If it be the body of Christ, and if it may be truly said that this body of Christ is really and truly the body of Christ — the real body of Christ being incorruptible and impassible, and therefore eternal; consequently this body of Christ, which is consecrated in the Church, must of necessity also be both incorruptible and eternal. But it cannot be denied but that it doth corrupt, seeing it is cut into small pieces and distributed (to the communicants,) who bruise it very small with their teeth, and so take it down into their body."Thus Bertram. His other passage, which is longer yet than this, is of the same nature; but I shall not here set it down, to avoid prolixity.[ Non male aut inconsulte omittantur igitur omnia haec a fine paginae: ' Considerandum quoque quod in pane illo,' &c.; usque ad illud multo post, 'Sed aliud est quod exterius geritur,' &c. in ead. pag. Et seq. pag. omnia ilia sequentia, 'Item quae idem sunt, una definitione comprehenduntur,' &c.; usque ad illud, "Hoc namque quod agitur in via, spiritualiter,' &c. seq. pag. — Index Expurg. Belg. an. 1571, in Bertramo.]
[Considerandum quoque, quod in pane illo non solum corpus Christi, verum etiam corpus in eum credentis populi figuretur: unde multis frumenti granis conficitur, quia corpus populi credentis multis per verba Christi fidelibus augmentatur, (al. coagmentatur.) Qua de re sicut mysterio panis ille Christi corpus accipitur: sic etiam in mysterio membra populi credentis in Christum intimantur. Et sicut non corporaliter, sed spiritualiter panis ille credentium corpus dicitur: sic quoque Christi corpus non corporaliter sed spiritualiter necesse est intelligatur. Sic et in vino, qui sanguis Christi dicitur, aqua misceri jubetur, nee unum sine altero permittitur offerri, quia nee populus sine Christo, necChristus sine populo, sicut nec caput sine corpore, vel corpus sine capite valet existere. Igitur si vinum illud, sanctificatum per ministrorum officium, in Christi sanguinem corporaliter convertitur, aqua quoque, quae pariter admixta est, in sanguinem populi credentis necesse est corporaliter convertatur. Ubi namque una sanctificatio est, una consequenter operatio; et ubi par ratio, par quoque consequitur mysterium. At videmus in aqua secundum corpus nihil esse conversum, consequenter ergo et in vino nihil corporaliter ostensum. Accipitur spiritualiter quicquid in aqua de populi corpore significatur; accipiatur ergo necesse est spiritualiter quicquid in vino de Christi sanguine intimatur. Item, quae a se differunt, idem non sunt: corpus Christi, quod mortuum est, et resurrexit, et immortale factum jam non moritur, et mors illi ultra non dominabitur, aeternum est, jam non passibile. Hoc autem, quod in ecclesia celebratur temporale est, non aeternum; corruptible est, non incorruptibile, in via est, non in patria. Differunt igitur a se quapropter non sunt idem. Quod si non sunt idem, quomodo verum corpus Christi dicitur, et verus sanguis? Si enim corpus Christi est, et hoc dicitur vere, quia corpus Christi in veritate corpus Christi est, et si in veritate corpus Christi, incorruptibile est, et impassibile, ac per hoc aeternum. Hoc igitur corpus Christi quod agitur in ecclesia necesse est ut incorruptibile sit, et aeternum. Sed negari non potest corrumpi, quod per partes commutatum dispartitur ad sumendum, et dentibus commolitum in corpus trajicitur. — Bertram. Presbyt. lib. de Corp. et Sang. Dom.]
Now these gentlemen, finding that the language of both these passages did very ill accord with the doctrine of Transubstantiation, thought it the best way to erase them entirely: for fear lest, coming to the people's knowledge, they might imagine that there had been Sacramentarians in the Church ever since the time of Charles the Bald. Then, whoever you may be that think yourself bound to search the writings of the Fathers for the doctrine of salvation, learn from this artifice of theirs, and those many other cheats which we, to their great mortification, are now investigating, what an extreme desire they have to keep from us the opinion and sense of the ancients in all those particulars where they ever so little contradict their own doctrines; and remembering moreover, how every day they have had, and still have, such opportunities of doing what they please in this way, you cannot doubt, but that they have struck deep enough where there was cause. These blows of theirs, together with the alterations and changes that time, the malice of heretics, the innocent and pious frauds of the primitive Church, and the sentiments of the later Christians, have long since produced, have rendered the writings and venerable monuments of antiquity, so jumbled and confused, that it will be a very difficult matter for any man to make a clear and perfect discovery of those things which so many different parties have endeavored to conceal from us.
T-Fan's notes: If you have read through the above chapter, you will have seen some of the more amazing aspects of it. It is interesting to consider that in some sense the Roman Catholics showed themselves to be the heirs of the earlier period by imitating the worst scholarly abuses, in terms of redacting unhelpful items from works of the fathers.
The expurgation indices were a particularly bad idea, partly because they highlighted the mischief for those who were interested to see. That may be one reason (with cost and practicality being others) that the indices were effectively discontinued.
The item regarding early opposition to transubstantation by the clearly Augustinian priest Bertram is a particularly significant item. It seems clear that there was an attempt to whitewash history.
While some significant aspects of those attempts have failed, can it be any wonder but that some parts of it have succeeded? The example of works originally written in an Eastern language and solely preserved in Latin against images is an excellent example of the kind of thing that suggests that much tampering with the fathers has been made.
Why then not suppose the same kind of "orthodox" corruption of Scripture? For one thing, the text of Scripture is much more well preserved in many more and well-distributed copies than the text of any of the fathers. While some books are preserved better than others, the whole are extremely well preserved.
Furthermore, as Daillé notes, the text of Scripture is largely written in a plain manner. By contrast, some of the fathers imitated the pagan style of writing and wrote in a very convoluted style, where a small change could have a huge effect on meaning - or should we say, on deciphering.