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Quarrel with Rufinus.
the attention of the Western, and especially of the Roman Church, was, through accidental circumstances, directed to the hold Origen's views had on the Church in Palestine, and in no long time our translator found himself involved in the bitterest and, it must be added, the least fruitful or pardonable, of the many bitter controversies of his life. The course he took was peculiarly fitted to enrage those with whom he had hitherto acted, and who felt that he was now deserting them. It was a course not unnatural in one engaged in such an undertaking as occupied him; yet it was not a course so courageous and straightforward as to escape the appearance of temporising. In abandoning the party of John of Jerusalem and Rufinus, with whom he had been so intimately associated, and joining those who fiercely denounced the Origenists, Jerome undoubtedly incurs the charge of deserting his natural allies, with whose views he had most, if not everything, in common. His reason is not difficult to see. A translator must, beyond everything, be recognised as orthodox. And though the faithfulness and honesty of Jerome's translation, its freedom from the influence of peculiarities of individual opinion, is one of its distinguishing merits, yet in ignorant, intolerant times, a reputation for orthodoxy, once shaken, can hardly be recovered. And, perhaps, few things form a more generally accepted certificate of orthodoxy than to belong to an orthodox party. The general reputation clothes the individual. His general fidelity thus guaranteed, he may with perfect safety, as Jerome was able subsequently to do, express his discrimination between truth and error in the heretic.
Rufinus did what most, in similar circumstances, do. Feeling keenly what he considered the faithlessness of his old friend in this particular, he gradually viewed the whole of Jerome's past life, to whose inner scenes he had always been admitted, through the same distorted medium, and persuaded himself of its general falsity. Having formed this conviction, he laboured to expose, in the most public manner, what he considered Jerome's general untrustworthiness and inconsistencies; committing the unpardonable offence of taking advantage of the unrestrained confidence of this old intimacy, the better in appearance to make out his case. Jerome was not backward to reply, and in his most bitter manner; till the personalities of the controversy provoked general pain and disgust, and were the subject of an earnest remonstrance from Augustine, addressed to Jerome.
During this unhappy controversy, protracted over several years, the work of translation seems to have gone on but slowly: and a long and severe illness he suffered just then further delayed it. Fretting at the delay, he hastened to put into the hands of friends a further portion, the three books of Solomon, on whose translation he spent only three days. The later portion, however, received again more time and care, and at length, in 404 A.D., the Old Testament was complete.
Even at this distance of time and in the midst of our vastly superior advantages, it is impossible to think of this great work without wonder and admiration. The very helps and advantages now abundant, and in the modern view indispensable, lead, by contrast with the scanty resources of those early periods, to a fuller admiration of the indefatigable zeal, the unwearying perseverance, the undaunted efforts, the clear intellect and well-balanced judgment, which entitle Jerome, in view of all circumstances, to be ranked among the greatest of Biblical scholars. The pains he took to be accurate, the honesty with which he put aside erroneous readings, however popular, the fidelity with which he stated and defended the true amid the ignorant prejudice of the day, make him honourably singular in his age. Good texts were rare, and not to be obtained without great labour and expense. Even the Fathers of the Church were ignorant of Hebrew, and thought its knowledge unnecessary. A striking proof of the low state of Biblical scholarship then, and of Jerome's scholarly earnestness, is furnished by the trouble and expense he was put to, to obtain instruction in Hebrew, and by the ridicule poured on him by even pious and able men, for what they considered his absurd, and even traitorous, zeal in that direction. He was actually accused of falsifying the Scriptures to suit the Jews.
In spite of all alarm, however, and opposition and denunciation, his great translation made its way, without official patronage, purely by its merit. It has its imperfections, errors, defects. But to say this is simply to say that it is human; and in further moderation of judgment is the fact that Merit of Jerome's labours.
it is the work of one man. For its later form Jerome is not responsible. In spite of his utmost efforts, erroneous copies of parts of his work got into circulation. By and by the truly marvellous ignorance, and stupidity, of his own and later ages, led transcribers to incorporate with his text portions, usually erroneous, of the previous Latin text he wished to supplant. Corrections, improvements, which, as his Commentaries show, he wished subsequently to make in his own renderings, did not find their way into the copies. Into detailed criticism we do not here enter. We may say generally, that to him the Latin Church owed, for many centuries, a good Biblical text; that to him belong the merit of making a clear distinction between the canonical and apocryphal Scriptures, and the introduction into the West of a scientific method of Biblical criticism and interpretation.
We have left ourselves no space to speak of his controversial efforts. In the successive controversies of the day he took a vehement part. But this portion of his labours had less value, owing to the partial and exaggerated statements into which his vehemence led him, and it had subsequently to be corrected and supplemented by himself or others.
We give, in conclusion, a striking passage from one of his letters to Damasus, showing the spirit in which he addressed himself to the main labours of his life. “He that treateth of Holy Scripture should not borrow Aristotle's subtle reasonings, nor use Tully's eloquence or the flowers of Quintilian, to refresh his readers with his declamations. His discourse should be plain and common. It is not necessary that it should be composed with care: it is sufficient that it expounds the things, and discovers the sense, of the Scripture, and clears its obscurities. Let others be eloquent, and by that get commendation and applause. Let them thunder out great words in a plausible harangue. For my part I am satisfied to speak so as I may be understood : and discoursing of the Holy Scripture, I strive to imitate its simplicity.”
Jerome died at Bethlehem on the 30th September A.D. 420.
ART. IV.—How is Sin to end ? By a Purgatory ? ?
paper, and we must still press it. For it is not the punishment of sin—in respect either of the manner in which it shall please God to effect it, or of its duration, or of the number on whom it shall fall—that is the real problem : it is the existence of moral evil at all, and for so long a period as has elapsed since the fall of angels, under the government of a holy and good God. In nearly all the writings, now become legion, in which men have struggled to get free from the terrors of the orthodox belief regarding the penalty of sin, this question is either blinked altogether or made quite subordinate. There is a way to light and hope, if that question be honestly faced and kept always prominent before the mind, -How is sin to end ? but only disastrous stumbling is the result of attempting to consider this awful theme with hearts more concerned about our own impending sufferings than about our guilt and corruption, of which these are the penalty.
The pressure of the question is ultimately felt by all who are sincere and right-hearted, and among these Canon Farrar must, of course, be reckoned. Some, like Mr. Edward White, cut the Gordian knot by asserting the annihilation of the impenitent at an undefined point beyond the judgment : others try to find ground for believing that, somehow in the intermediate state between death and judgment, sin will be brought to an end in the will of the sinner: in other words, that those who have left this world guilty and depraved shall be justified and made holy before the final judgment, the present life not being finally decisive of their eternal state. The mere statement of such a hypothesis is enough to show how far it is at variance with the belief commonly received as Scriptural, to wit, that the final judgment is to proceed upon the character of men before death, and, in particular, that
1 Mercy and Judgment: a few last words on Christian Eschatology, with reference to Dr. Pusey's “What is of Faith?” By F. W. FARRAR, D.D., F.R.S., Canon of Westminster, etc. London: Macmillan and Co. 1881.
Facts which condition our thinking.
men who have the Gospel of Christ offered to them are decisively saved or lost, here and now, according as they accept or neglect so great salvation.
In proceeding to vindicate the orthodox belief against the notion of a Purgatory, for which Canon Farrar pleads, we must ask the reader to refer to what has been said in this Review three years and a half ago? under the same title. We are not to repeat what has been said about the great facts which condition all thinking on the future of sin,—the universality and persistence of moral evil, the severity of God as displayed in terrible acts of judgment, and the present retribution with which sin is visited in the consciences and lives of us all. Neither are we to argue again in favour of the sole authority of the Word of God in this matter. But we must strenuously reassert that principle, for Dr. Farrar's work has 360 pages, out of 485, devoted to wearisome and altogether nugatory statements of the history of opinion, mingled with declamatory appeals to the moral sense. The show of patristic learning and general reading is immense, and its effect on some readers may be overpowering; but for us, determined not to forget that it is with God we have to do, and that each of us is an interested party, there is little importance in anything not directly associated with Scripture, and we agree with Professor Gracey in regarding these endless quotations as "a turbid inundation of disintegrated theologies.” Some suggestions were given, at the close of the former paper, of grounds on which we think a hope may fairly be rested that the number of the saved shall largely exceed the number of the lost : so that that portion of the subject also may be left without further remark.
The only point to which we feel inclined to return is one only hinted at before, the character of the Scriptural revelation concerning sin,-its origin in an older race than ours, its introduction from that race, the maintaining and diffusion of it still by that race, and the representation consistently given, from Genesis to the Apocalypse, of a warfare carried on from the first by the Son of God against Satan. We are not aware that the problem has been fully studied and discussed in this particular light; and it would be highly interesting to
July 1878. VOL XXXI.-NO. CXIX.