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CHAP. ordinary transactions of life, and particularly enquires whether a believer in any school, or in no school, does not repose in some teacher or other a confidence equally implicit, and far less reasonable than that of the Christian.' He shews the error of any antecedent objection to Christianity, observing that there should be rather a contrary inclination, to trust the bearer of such glad tidings and such salutary words, as Christ's; and adds, that if the divine promises could not logically be proved to be true, it was because the future does not admit of demonstration, but that in a case of such doubtfulness as this, it would be only consonant with sense and reason to choose the most probable alternative, and the one which offered the greatest prospect and hope of benefit;' especially since, if the faith were delusive and groundless, its embrace could at worst be productive of no harm, whereas if true, its neglect would involve the loss of eternal happiness.


In perusing this sketch of Arnobius, the reader has probably recognized many a familiar thought, and remarked how many arguments of modern apologists have been anticipated by this obscure and neglected writer; and his own memory will doubtless supply him with


9 II. 7. Compare Newman's Parochial Sermons.


9 Ibid.
1. 38.
"Vel propter id so-
lum eum deberetis amplecti quod
optabilia vobis sponderet et pros-
pera, quod bonarum esset nuntius
rerum, quod ea prædicaret quæ
nullius animum læderent."

"Nonne purior ratio est ex duobus incertis, et in ambigua expectatione pendentibus, id potius credere quod aliquas spes ferat, quam omnino quod nul

las ?"

II. 3.

"In illo enim periculi nihil est, si quod dicitur imminere cassum fiat et vacuum, in hoc damnum est maximum (id est salutis amissio) si cum tempus venerit, aperiatur non fuisse mendacium." Ibid. "Vestris non est rationibus liberum implicare vos talibus, et tam remota ab utilitate curare. Res vestra in ancipiti sita est, salus animarum vestrarum." Ibid. 47.


many more parallelisms than I have pointed to in the CHAP. notes; but, even apart from this, I think the peculiar position and character of the author invest his sentiments and his reasoning with very singular interest and value. Arnobius was not a Father of the Church, it is even questioned whether at the date of this composition he was formally admitted within its pale, he was certainly ignorant of many of its mysteries and doctrines; prophecy he makes no allusion to: there is barely evidence of his having read scripture, and quotations from it there are none; but he was obviously a well-educated and intelligent heathen, more than usually learned and argumentative, and previously well affected to the ancient religion;* his liberality and candour are remarkable; he admits the existence of inexplicable mysteries, and when pressed for explanation on points such as the origin of evil and others, acknowledges freely his ignorance and inability; he was tolerant in his ideas and an advocate for free discussion, and under these circumstances, and with such qualifications, he made the investigations and drew the conclusions which resulted in the work before us. If the credere quam scire is to be exploded as unbecoming the present stage of intellect and civilization, if the first teaching of the Church is to be the teaching her children that they ought to be taught, I cannot see a better system of

In 11. 5, there is a reference to 1 Cor. iii. 19. Sapientia enim hujus mundi, stultitia est apud Deum; but the writer introduces it with " nunquam ne illud vulgatum perstrinxerit aures vestras."


I. 20.


II. 29, 41, 42. Compare too his remarks on those who died before the advent of Christ, Ibid.


• See a curious passage, III. 5, concluding with "erroris convincite Ciceronem, temeraria et impia dicta refellitote, redarguite, reprobate. Nam intercipere scripta, et publicatam velle lectionem submergere, non est deum defendere, sed veritatis testificationem timere."


CHAP. evidences than thus to establish the divine origin of a scheme, and thereby necessitate the acceptance of its details.

Closely following Arnobius in time, and in subject, but differing widely in his fashion of handling it, comes his pupil Lactantius, an author whose writings may perhaps be less familiar than his name. His chief work, the Divine Institutiones, consists of seven books, of which the object is no less comprehensive and important than to demolish Paganism, prove Christianity, confute philosophy, establish the indissoluble connection between true wisdom and true religion, or rather, perhaps, their identity, and shew that both are to be sought and found only in the Catholic Church of Christ. The two first books expose the Pagan rites, and the third the hollowness of philosophy; the fourth contains the apologetic portion of the treatise, and the remainder completes the whole into such a system of Christian ethics as the writer could compose. As in other cases, our principal attention is directed to the apologetic chapters, which are not incidentally added, but are an integral part of the work. Lactantius commences' with the precept that an enquirer should first of all make himself thoroughly acquainted with the Jewish history, and especially with the Prophets, and the dates of their writings, inasmuch as their testimony will be necessarily employed in the subsequent proof. He then proceeds carefully through the circumstances of the Birth, Advent, Incarnation, Life, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord; and shews that all these are in exact accordance with the predictions concerning them, and this not with the scriptural prophecies only, but with the Sibylline verses, and the prophecies of Hermes Trismegistus.3


1 Div. Inst. IV. 5.

"Quorum testimoniis uti

nunc necesse est." Ibid.
3 Ibid. 6-21.


is all which he adduces in the form of systematic evidence. CHAP. He adverts to the miracles, but simply in their character as events of our Saviour's life, and insists mainly on the minute agreement of their details with the Sibylline predictions, from which fact also he draws his proof that they were not wrought by magic. All this may appear unsatisfactory to our ideas, but many things should induce us to hesitate before we pronounce a decided opinion. The work itself is of a totally different nature from any which we have been considering. It is a kind of Book of Christiano-philosophical Institutes; it offers a system of cosmogony instead of the philosophical systems; a system of offices instead of the scholastic systems; thus withdrawing from the ancient sages their two subjects of speculation, and making referable to true religion all the duties of life; much on the principle which has lately been defended with an ability and judgment so far superior.

There is one very remarkable feature in this case: Lactantius most clearly knew the precise nature of his task, and the best methods of achieving it; he discusses the writings of previous apologists, and points out with great cleverness the points in which they failed; he remarks on the difference of their objects and his, observing that it is one thing to reply to simple accusations, and another to assert a whole body of doctrine';

4 Ibid. 16.

5 "Disce igitur, non solum idcirco a nobis Deum creditum Christum quia mirabilia fecit, sed quia vidimus in eo facta esse omnia quæ nobis annuntiata sunt vaticinio Prophetarum. Fecit mirabilia: magum putassemus, ut et vos nunc putatis et Judæi tunc putaverunt, si non illa ipsa

facturum Christum Prophetæ om-
nes uno spiritu prædicassent."
Ibid. v. 3; Compare too IV. 15.
V. 1.


"Aliud est, accurantibus respondere, quod in defensione aut in negatione sola positum est, aliud instituere quod nos facimus, in quo necesse est doctrinæ totius substantiam contineri." Ibid. 4.


CHAP. he mentions the mistake of S. Cyprian in quoting scripture to unbelievers, alludes to the harshness and obscurity of Tertullian', and acknowledges and accounts for, generally, the inefficacy of his predecessor's attempts. He saw the distinction between testimony" and argument in evidence", and if he constantly, and to our ideas, unhappily, chooses and pursues the latter, we have the right, if we please, to suppose that he had good grounds for his selection. It is scarcely possible to conceive a greater contrast than he presents to Arnobius; the one declining argument, acknowledging mystery, and asserting facts; the other substituting argumentation for every thing. Uter magis, says the former, videtur irrisione esse dignissimus vobis, qui sibi scientiam nullam tenebrosæ rei alicujus assumit, an ille qui retur se ex se apertissime scire id quod humanam transsiliat notionem, et quod sit cæcis obscuritatibus involutum ? The latter says, Falsa dicentem redarguere non potest nisi qui scierit ante quid sit verum. Arnobius declines the question of the existence of evil; Lactantius says it is necessary to the formation of its contrary, good. And his reasoning is perpetually of such a kind, which his subject gave him endless opportunities of displaying or exposing. His application of quotations could scarcely be paralleled even in that fertile school of ingenuity, and sacred and profane are all confused together. Nevertheless, as I before remarked, a rhetorician and a scholar, with so correct an appreciation of his own object,

sed argumentis et ratione fuerat repellendus."

12 "Et quanquam apud bonos judices satis habeant firmitatis vel testimonia sine argumentis, vel argumenta sine testimoniis," &c., IV. 22.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid. 1.

10 Ibid.


By testimony though he means particularly Scripture, as in the passage cited above from

IV. 5, and also v. 4, where he


says, non Scripturæ testimoniis,

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