Archive for the ‘Fathers’ Category

Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers in Controversies (John Daillé) – Chapter IV

January 9, 2013

The following is the second chapter of Daillé’s excellent work on the right use of the fathers. (see the contents post for more background)


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,
Ora manusque ambas populataque tempora, raptis
Auribus, et truncas inhonesto vulnere nares.”

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.

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.”

[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.]

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.]

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.


Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers in Controversies (John Daillé) – Chapter III

December 27, 2012

The following is the third chapter of Daillé’s excellent work on the right use of the fathers.  (see the contents post for more background)


Reason III. — Those writings which bear the names of the ancient Fathers, are not all really such; but a great portion of them supposititious, and forged, either long since or at later periods.

I now enter upon more important considerations; the two former, though they are not in themselves to be despised or neglected, being yet but trivial ones compared with those which follow. For there is so great a confusion in the most part of these books of which we speak, that it is a very difficult thing truly to discover who were their authors, and what is their meaning and sense. The first difficulty proceeds from the infinite number of forged books, which are falsely attributed to the ancient Fathers; the same having also happened in all kinds of learning and sciences; insomuch that the learned at this day are sufficiently puzzled to discover, both in philosophy and humanity, which are forged and supposititious pieces, and which are true and legitimate. But this abuse has not existed any where more grossly, and taken to itself more liberty, than in the ecclesiastical writers. All men complain of this, both on the one side and on the other, and labor to their utmost to deliver us from this confusion, oftentimes with little success, by reason of the warmth of their feelings by which they are carried away; ordinarily judging of books according to their own interest rather than the truth, and rejecting all those that any way contradict them, but defending those which speak on their side; how good or bad soever they otherwise chance to be. So that, to say the truth, they judge not of their own opinions by the writings of the Fathers, but of the writings of the Fathers by their own opinions. If they speak with us, it is then Cyprian and Chrysostom; if not, it is some ignorant modern fellow, or else some malicious person, who would fain cover his own impurity under the rich garment of these excellent persons.

Now, were it mere partiality that rendered the business obscure, we should be able to quit our hands of it, by stripping it and laying it open to the world; and all moderate men would find enough to rest satisfied with. But the worst of it is, that this obscurity oftentimes happens to be in the things themselves; so that it is a very difficult and sometimes impossible thing to elucidate them, whether it be by reason of the antiquity of the error, or by reason of the near resemblance of the false to the true. For these forgeries are not new, and of yesterday; but the abuse has existed above fourteen hundred years. It is the complaint of the greatest part of the Fathers, that the heretics, to give their own dreams the greater authority, promulgated them under the names of some of the most eminent writers in the Church, and even of the Apostles themselves. [Hegesippus apud Euseb. Book 4, chapter 22] Amphilochius bishop of Iconium, who was so much esteemed by the great Basil archbishop of Csesarea, wrote a particular tract on this subject,[Concil. 7, Act. 5, tom. 3, p. 552] alleged by the Fathers of the seventh council against a certain passage produced by the Iconoclasts out of I know not what idle treatise, entitled, “The Travels of the Apostles.” And I would that that Tract of this learned prelate were now extant! If it were, it would perhaps do us good service in discovering the vanity of many ridiculous pieces, which now pass current in the world under the names of the primitive and most ancient Christians. Jerome rejects divers apocryphal books, [Jerome l. de scrip. Eccles. Tom. 1, p. 346 and 350] which are published under the names of the Apostles, and of their first disciples; as those of St. Peter, of Barnabas, and others. The gospel of St. Thomas, and the epistle to the Laodiceans, are classed in the same category by the seventh council. [Concil. 7, Act. 6.]

Now, if these knaves have thus taken such liberty with the Apostles as to make use of their names; how much more likely is it, that they would not hesitate to make as free with the Fathers? And indeed this kind of imposture has always been common. Thus we read that the Nestorians sometime published an epistle under the name of Cyril of Alexandria,[Concil. 5, Collat. 5.] in the defense of Theodorus bishop of Mopsuestia, who was the author and first broacher of their heresy: and likewise that the Eutychists also circulated certain books of Apollinaris, under the title of “The Orthodox Doctors,” namely, to impose on the simplicity of the people.[Marian. ep. ad Mon. Alex. ad calcem Concil. Chalc. t. 2. p. 450. E.] Leontius has written an express Tract on this subject; [Leontius lib. extat Bibl. SS. PP. t. 4. par. 2.] wherein he shows that these men abused particularly the names of Gregory of Neocsesarea, of Julius bishop of Rome, and of Athanasius bishop of Alexandria; and he also says particularly, that the book intitled, Ἠ κατα μερος Πιστις (A particular Exposition of the Faith,) which is delivered to us by Turrianus the Jesuit, Gerardus Vossius, and the last edition of Gregorius Neocaesariensis, for a true and legitimate piece of the said Gregory [Gregory the Wonderworker op. Par. An. 1622, p. 97, ubi vide Voss.] is not truly his, but the bastard issue of the heretic Apollinaris. The like judgment do the publishers of the Bibliotheca Patrum give of the twelve Anathemas, which are commonly attributed to the same Gregory. [Bibl. SS. PP. t. 1. Gr. Lat.] The Monothelites also, taking the same course, forged an oration under the name of Menas patriarch of Constantinople, and directed to Vigilius bishop of Rome:[Concil. 6, Act 3, and Act 14. t. 3. Concil.] and two other books under the name of the same Vigilius, directed to Justinian and Theodora; wherein their heresy is in express terms delivered; and these three pieces were afterwards inserted in the body of the fifth council, and kept in the library of the Patriarch’s palace in Constantinople.[Ibid.] But this imposture was discovered and proved in the sixth council: for otherwise, who would not have been deceived by it, seeing these false pieces in so authentic a copy?
I bring but these few examples, to give the reader a sample only of what the heretics not only dared but were able also to do in this particular: and all these things were done before the end of the seventh century, that is to say, above nine hundred years ago. Since which time, in all the disputes about the images in churches,[Concil. 7, Act. 6, Refut. Iconoclast. tom. 5.] and in the differences betwixt the Greek and Latin Churches, and indeed in the most part of all other ecclesiastical disputations, you shall find nothing more frequent than the mutual reproaches that the several parties cast at each other,[Concil. Florent. Sess. 20. t. 4.] accusing one another of forging the pieces of authors which they produced each of them in defense of their own cause. Judge you, therefore, whether or not the heretics, using the same artifice and the same diligence, now for the space of so many centuries since, though in different causes, may not in all probability have furnished us with a sufficient number of spurious pieces published under the names of the ancient Fathers by their professed enemies. And only consider whether or no we may not chance to commune with a heretic sometimes, when we think we have a Father before us; and a professed enemy disguised under the mask of a friend. Thus it will hence follow that it may justly be feared, that we sometimes receive and deliver for maxims and opinions of the ancient church, no better than the mere dreams of the ancient heretics. For we must suppose that they were not so foolish as to discover their venom at the first, in their heretical writings; but rather that they only cunningly infused here and there some sprinklings of it, laying the foundation of their heresy as it were a far off only; which makes the knavery the more difficult to be discovered, and consequently the more dangerous. But supposing that this juggling deception of the heretics may have very much corrupted the old books; yet notwithstanding, had we no other spurious pieces than what had been forged by them, it would be no very hard matter to distinguish the true from the false. But that which renders the evil almost irremediable is, that even in the Church itself this kind of forgery has both been very common and very ancient.

I impute a great part of the cause of this mischief to those men who, before the invention of printing, were the transcribers and copiers of manuscripts: of whose negligence and boldness, in the corrupting of books, Jerome very much complained even in his time: “Scribunt non quod inveniunt, sed quod intelligunt; et dum alienos errores emendare nituntur, ostendunt suos;” [Jerome, Letter 28 , to Lucin. tom. 1.] that is, “they write not what they find but what they understand: and whilst they endeavour to correct other men’s errors they show their own.”

We may very well presume, that the liberty these men took in corrupting, they also took the same in forging, books: especially since this last course was beneficial to them, while the other was not. For, by altering or corrupting the books they wrote, they could not make any advantage to themselves: whereas, in forging new books, and disposing of them under great and eminent names, they sold them more readily and dearer. So likewise, if there came to their hands any book that either had no author’s name; or having any, it was but an obscure or a tainted one; to the end that these evil marks might not prejudice the selling of it, they would erase it without any more ado, and inscribe it with some one of the most eminent and venerable names in the Church; that thus the reputation and favor, which that name had found in the world, might be a means for better passing off their false wares. As for example, the name of Novatianus, who was the head of a schism against the Roman Church, became justly odious to Christian ears: as that of Tertullian was the more esteemed, both for the age, wit, and learning of the person. Now the transcriber, considering this, without any other design or end than that of his own private gain, has, in my judgment, made an exchange, attributing to Tertullian that book of the Trinity which is in reality the production of Novatianus; as we are also given to understand by Jerome.[Jerome, Apology 2 against Ruffinius] And I am of opinion, that both the birth and fortune of that other piece, “De Poenitentia,” have been, if not the very same, yet at least not much unlike that of the other. So likewise the book, entitled ” De Operibus Cardinalibus Christi” [Auctor operis, De Operibus Card. Christi, inter Cyprian. Oper. p. 444.] (which was composed and sent by its author to one of the Popes, without giving his name, as he there testifies,) has been circulated abroad under the name of Cyprian, merely because by this means it was the more profitable to the manuscript-monger; and has always passed, and does pass, for his: notwithstanding that, in my judgment, it is clear enough that it cannot be his, as is ingenuously confessed by many of the learned of both parties.[Erasmus in edit. Cyp. sua. Sixtus Senens. Biblioth. l. 4. Bellar. de Euchar. l. 2. c. 9. De amiss, grat. l. 6. c. 2. Possevin. in Apparat. Scult. Medulla Patr. Andr. Rivet. l. 2. c. 15. Crit. Sacr. Aubert de Euchar. l. 2. ch. 8.] Ruffinus had some name in the Church, though nothing near so great as Cyprian had: and this is the reason why the afore-named merchants have inscribed with Cyprian’s name that Treatise upon the Apostles’ Creed, which was written by Ruffinus.

Besides the avarice of these Librarii, their own ignorance, or at least of those whom they consulted, has in like manner produced no small number of these spurious pieces. For when either the likeness of the name, or of the style, or of the subject treated of, or any other seeming reason, gave them occasion to believe that such an anonymous book was the work of such or such an ancient author, they presently copied it out, under the said author’s name; and thus it came from thenceforth to be received by the world for such, and by them to be transmitted for such to posterity.

All the blame, however, is not to be laid upon the transcribers only in this particular: the authors themselves have contributed very much to the promoting of this kind of imposture; for there have been found in all ages some so sottishly ambitious; and so desirous, at any rate, to have their conceptions published to the world; that, finding they should never be able to please, and get applause abroad of themselves, they have issued them under the name of some of the Fathers; choosing rather to see them received and honored under this false guise, than disguised and slighted under their own real name. These men, according as their several abilities have been, have imitated the style and sentiments of the Fathers either more or less happily; and have boldly presented these productions of their own brain to the world under their names. The world, of which the greatest part has always been the least reflecting, has very readily collected, preserved, and cherished these fictitious productions, and has by degrees filled all their libraries with them. Others have been induced to adopt the same artifice, not out of ambition, but some other irregular fancy; as those men have done, who, having had a particular affection, either to such a person, or to such an opinion, have undertaken to write of the same, under the name of some author of good esteem and reputation with the world, to make it pass the more currently abroad: precisely as that priest did, who published a book, entitled “The Acts of St. Paul, and of Tecla;”[Jerome de Script. Eccl. tom. 1. p. 350. ex Tertul. lib. de Baptisma. cap. 17.] and being convicted of being the author of it, in presence of the Apostle John, he plainly confessed, that the love that he bare to Paul was the only cause that incited him to do it. Such was the boldness also of Ruffinus, a priest of Aquileia, (whom Jerome justly reprehends so sharply, and in so many places,[Jerome, l. 2. Apol. contr. Ruffin. tom. 2. p. 334. et Ep. 69. t. 2. et Apol. contr. Ruff, ad Pammach. et Marc. tom. 2. 40]) who, to vindicate Origen’s honour, wrote an apology for him, under the name of Pamphilus, a holy and renowned martyr; although the truth of it is, he had taken it, partly out of the first and sixth books that Eusebius had written upon the same subject, and partly made use of his own inven tion in it. Some similar fancy it was that moved him also to put forth the life of one Sextus, a Pythagorean philosopher, under the name of St. Sixtus the martyr, [Jerome, in Ierem. Com. 4. tom. 4.] to the end that the work might be received the more favourably. What can you say to this? namely, that in the very same age there was a personage of greater note than the former; who, disliking that Jerome had translated the Old Testament out of the Hebrew, framed an epistle under his name, wherein he represents him as repenting of having done it; which epistle, even in Jerome’s life time, though without his knowledge, was published by the said author, both at Rome and in Africa? Who could believe the truth of this bold attempt, had not Jerome himself related the story, and made complaint of the injury done him therein? [Jerome, l. 2. Apol. contra Ruff. tom. 2.] I must impute also to a fancy of the same kind, though certainly more innocent than the other, the spreading abroad of so many predictions of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and his kingdom, under the names of the Sibyls; which was done by some of the first Christians, only to prepare the Pagans to relish this doctrine the better; as it is objected against them by Celsus in Origen.[Orig. contra Cels. Lib. 7.] But that which is yet of greater consequence is, that even the Fathers themselves have sometimes made use of this artifice, to promote either their own opinions or their wishes. Of this we have a notable example, which was objected against the Latins by the Greeks, above two hundred years since, of two Bishops of Rome, Zosimus and Boniface;[Concil. Flor. Sess. 20, p. 457.] who, to authorize the title which they pretended to have, of being universal bishops, and heads of the whole Christian Church, and particularly of the African, forged, about the beginning of the fifth century, certain canons in the council of Nice, and frequently quoted them as such in the councils in Africa; [Concil. Afric. 6, cap. 3.] which, notwithstanding, after a long and diligent search, could never yet be found in any of the authentic copies of the said council of Nice, although the African bishops had taken the pains to send as far as Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch, to obtain the best and most genuine copies they could. Neither indeed do the canons and acts of the council of Nice at this day, though they have since that time passed through so many various hands, contain any such thing; no, not even the editions of those very men who are the most interested in the honor of the Popes, as that of Dionysius Exiguus, who published his Latin collection of them about the year of our Savior 525: nor any other, either ancient or modern.

As to that authentic copy of the council of Nice, which one Friar John, at the council of Florence, pretended to have been the only copy that had escaped the corruptions of the Arians,[Concil. Flor. Seess 20.] and which had for this cause been always kept under lock and key at Rome, with all the safety and care that might be, (out of which copy they had transcribed the said canons,) I confess it must needs have been kept up very close, under locks and seals, seeing that three of their Popes namely, Zosimus, Boniface, and Celestine, could never be able to produce it for the justification of their pretended title against the African Fathers, though in a case of so great importance. And it is a strange thing to me that this man, who came a thousand years after, should now at last make use of it in this cause; whereas those very persons who had it in their custody never so much as mentioned one syllable of it: which is an evident argument that the seals of this rare book were never opened, save only in the brains of this Doctor, where alone it was both framed and sealed up; brought forth, and vanished all at the same instant; the greatest part of those men that have come after him being ashamed to make use of it any longer, having laid aside this chimerical invention. To say the truth, that which these men answer, by way of excusing the said Popes, is not any whit more probable, namely, that they took the council of Nice and that of Sardica, in which those canons they allege are really found, for one and the same council. For whom will these men ever be able to persuade, that two Ecclesiastical Assemblies, (between which there passed nearly twenty -two whole years, called by two several emperors, and for matters of a far different nature — the one of them for the explanation of the Christian faith, and the other for the reestablishing of two Bishops on their thrones; and in places very far distant from each other — the one at Nicsea in Bithynia, the other at Sardica a city of Illyricum — the canons of which two councils are very different, both in substance, number, and authority — the one of them having always been received generally by the whole Church, but the other having never been acknowledged by the Eastern Church,) should yet, notwithstanding, be but one and the same council? How can they themselves endure this, who are so fierce against the Greeks, for having offered to attribute (which they do, notwithstanding, with more appearance of truth) to the sixth council, those one hundred and two canons, which were agreed upon ten years after at Constantinople, in an assembly wherein one party of the Fathers of the sixth council met? How came it to pass, that they gave any credit to the ancient Church, seeing that in the Greek collection of her ancient canons, those of the council of Sardica are entirely omitted; and in the Latin collection of Dionysius Exiguus, compiled at Rome eleven hundred years since, they are placed, not with those of the council of Nice, or immediately after, as making one entire collection with them; but after the canons of all the general councils that had been held till that very time he lived in?[Codex Can. Ec. Un. Dionys. Exig. p. 99.] And how comes it to pass that these ancient Popes, who quoted these canons, if they believed these councils to be both one, did not say so?

The African bishops had frequently declared that these canons, which were by them referred to, were not at all to be found in their copies. Certainly therefore, if those who had cited them had thought the council of Nice and that of Sardica to have been both but one council, they would no doubt have made answer, that these canons were to be found in this pretended second part of the council of Nice, among those which had been agreed upon at Sardica; especially when they saw that these careful Fathers, for the clearing of the controversy between them, had resolved to send, for this purpose, as far as Constantinople and Alexandria. And yet, notwithstanding all this, they do not utter a word on the subject.

Certainly if the canons of the council of Sardica had been in those days reputed as a part of the council of Nice, it is a very strange thing, that so many learned and religious prelates as there were at that time in Africa, (as Aurelius, Alypius, and even Augustine, that glorious light, not of the African only but of the whole ancient Church,) should have been so ignorant in this particular. But it is strange beyond all belief, that three Popes and their Legates should leave their party in ignorance so gross, and so prejudicial to their own interest; it being in their power to have relieved them in two words. We may safely then conclude that these Popes, Zosimus and Boniface, had no other copies of the council of Nice than what we have; and also, that they did not believe that the canons of the council of Sardica were a part of the council of Nice; but that they rather purposely quoted some of the canons of Sardica, under the name of the canons of the council of Nice. And this they did, according to that maxim which was in force with those of former times, and is not entirely laid aside even in our own, that for the advancing of a good and godly cause, it is lawful sometimes to use a little deceit, and to have recourse to what are called pious frauds. As they therefore firmly believed that the supremacy of their see over all other Churches, was a business of great importance, and would be very profitable to all Christendom, we are not to wonder if, for the establishing this right to themselves, they made use of a little legerdemain, in adducing Sardica for Nice: reflecting that if they brought their design about, this little failing of theirs would, in process of time, be abundantly repaired by the benefit and excellency of the thing itself.

Notwithstanding the opposition made by the African Fathers against the Church of Rome, Pope Leo, not many years after, writing to the emperor Theodosius,[Leo, Letter to Emperor Theodosius, tom. 2 Concil.] omitted not to make use of the old forgery, citing one of the canons of the council of Sardica, for a legitimate canon of the council of Nice; which was the cause, that the emperor Valentinian also, and his empress Galla Placidia, writing in behalf of the said Pope Leo to the emperor Theodosius,[Valentinian Letter to Theodosius tom. 2, Concil. Galla Placid. in ep. ad Theodos. Tom. 2.] affirmed to him for a certain truth, that both all antiquity, and the canons of the council of Nice also, had assigned to the Pope of Rome the power of judging of points of faith, and of the prelates of the Church; Leo having before allowed that this canon of the council of Sardica was one of the canons of Nice. And thus, by a strong perseverance in this pious fraud, they have at length so fully persuaded a great part of Christendom, that the council of Nice had established this supremacy of the Pope of Rome, that it is now generally urged by all of them whenever this point is controverted.
I must request the readers pardon for having so long insisted on this particular; and perhaps somewhat longer than my design required: yet, in my judgment, it may be of no small importance to the business in hand; for (will the Protestants here say) seeing that two Popes, Bishops, and Princes, which all Christians have approved, have notwithstanding thus foisted in false wares, what ought we to expect from the rest of the Bishops and Doctors? Since these men have done this, in the beginning of the fifth century, an age of so high repute for its faith and doctrine, what have they not dared to do in the succeeding ages? If they have not forborne so foully to abuse the sacred name of the council of Nice, (the most illustrious and venerable monument of Christianity next to the Holy Scriptures,) what other authors can we imagine they would spare? And if, in the face of so renowned an assembly, (and in the presence of whatever Africa could show of eminency, both for sanctity and learning, and even under the eye of the great Augustine too,) they had no compunctions of conscience in making use of so gross a piece of forgery; what have they not since, in these later times, while the whole world for so many ages lay covered with thick darkness, dared to do? But as for my part, I shall neither accuse nor excuse at present these men’s proceedings, but shall only conclude, that, seeing the writings of the Fathers, before they came to us, have passed through the hands of those who have sometimes been found to use these juggling tricks, it is not so easy a matter, as people may imagine, to discover, out of those writings which now pass under the names of the Fathers, what their opinions were.

Similar motives produced the very same effects in the fifth council;[Concil. 5, Act. 5, tom. 2, Concil.] where a letter, forged under the name of Theodoret, respecting the death of Cyril, was read, and by a general silence approved by the whole assembly; which, notwithstanding, was so evidently spurious, that those very men, who caused the body of the general councils to be printed at Rome, have convicted it of falsehood, and branded it as spurious.

Such another precious piece is that foolish story of a miracle, wrought by an image of our Saviour Christ in the city Berytus, which is related in very ample manner in the seventh council,[ Concil. 7, Act. 4, tom. 3, Concil.] and bears, forsooth, the name of Athanasius; but is indeed so tasteless a piece, and so unworthy the gallantry and clearness of that great wit, that he must not be thought to have common sense who can find in his heart to attribute it to him. Therefore we see that, notwithstanding the authority of this council, both Nannius, Bellar mine, and Possevine have plainly confessed that it was not written by Athanasius.[Nanni. in edit. op. Athan. Bellar. de imag. l. 2. c. 10. et lib. de Script. Eccles. in Athan. Possevin. in appar. in Athan.]
I shall place in this rank the so much vaunted deed of the donation of Constantine, which has for so long a time been accounted as a most valid and authentic evidence, and has also been inserted in the decrees, and so pertinaciously maintained by the Bishop of Agobio, against the objections of Laurentius Valla.[D. 96. C. Constantino nostro. 14. Augusti. Steuchius de Dona. Constant.] Certainly those very men, who at this day maintain the donation, do notwithstanding disclaim this evidence as a piece of forgery.
Of the same nature are the epistles attributed to the first Popes,[Baron, in annal. Melchior Canus locor. Theolog. 1. 11. p. 511.] as Clemens, Anacletus, Euaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Hyginus, Pius, Anicetus, and others, down to the times of Siricius; that is to say, to the year of our Saviour 385, which the world read, under these venerable titles, at the least for eight hundred years together; and by which have been decided, to the advantage of the Church of Rome, very many controversies, and especially the most important of all the rest, that of the Pope’s monarchy. This shows plain enough the motive, (shall I call it such!) or rather the purposed design of the trafficker that first circulated them. The greatest part of these are accounted forged by men of learning, as Henricus Kaltheisen, Nicolas Cusanus, Jo. de Turrecremata (both cardinals,) Erasmus, Jo. Driedo, Claudius Espensaeus, Cassander, Simon Vigor, Baronius, and others:[ Hen. Kaltheis. ap. Magdeb. cent. 2. Nic. Cusan. Cone. Cath. l. 2. c. 34. Io. de Turrecr. de Eccl. lib. 2. c. 101. Io. Driedo de dogm. et Scrip. Eccl. l. 1. c. 2. CI. Espens. de Contin. l. 1. c. 2. G. Cassand. defens. lib. de officio pii viri, p. 843. Sim. Vig. ex resp. Syn. Basil. &c. en la lettre contr. Durand. Baron. Annal. t. 2. an. 102, et an. 805.] for indeed their forgery appears clear enough from their barbarous style, the errors met with at every step in the computation of times and history, the pieces they are patched up of, stolen here and there out of different authors, whose books we have at this day to show; and also by the general silence of all the writers of the first eight centuries, among whom there is not one word mentioned of them.

Now I shall not here meddle at all with the last six or seven centuries; where, in regard to various articles of faith, most eagerly professed and established by them, there has been more need than ever of the assistance of the ancients; and whereas, owing to the dark ignorance of those times, and the scarcity of opposers, they had much better opportunity than before, to forge what books they pleased. This abuse the world was never free from, till the time when the light broke forth in the last century; when Erasmus gives us an account, [Erasm. praefat. in Hieron.] how he himself had discovered one of these wretched knaves, whose ordinary practice it was to lay his own eggs in another man’s nest, putting his own fooleries on Jerome particularly, and on Augustine and Ambrose. And who knows what those many books are, that are daily issued out of the self-same shops, that of old were wont to furnish the world with these kind of deceptions? Is it not very probable that both the will and the dexterity in forging and issuing these false wares, will rather in these days increase than abate in the professors of this trade? So that (if besides what the malice of the heretics, the avarice and ignorance of transcribers of manuscripts, and the ambition and affection of men have brought forth of this kind, there have yet so many others turned their endeavors this way, and that in a manner all along for the space of the last fourteen hundred years, although they had their several ends,) we are not to wonder at all if now, in this last age, we see such a strange number of writings falsely fathered upon the ancients; which, if they were all put together, would make little less than a fourth or a fifth part of the works of the Fathers.

I am not ignorant that the learned have noticed a great number of them, and do ordinarily cast them into the later tomes of editions; and that some have written whole books upon this subject; as Ant. Possevine’s Apparatus, Bellarmine’s Catalogue, Scultetus’ Medulla Patrum, Rivet’s Critic, and the like, both of the one and the other religion. But who can assure us that they have not forgotten anything they should have noted? Besides that it is a new labour, and almost equal to the former to read so many books of the moderns as now exist. And when all is done, we are not immediately to rest satisfied with their judgment without a due examination. For each of them having been prepossessed with the prejudices of the party in which they were brought up, before they took this work in hand, who shall assure us that they have not delivered anything, in this case, in favor of their own particular interest, as we have before noticed? The justness of this suspicion is so clear, that I presume that no man, any way versed in these matters, will desire me to prove my assertion. Neither shall I need to give any other reason for it, than the conflicts and disagreement in judgments which we may observe in these men: the one of them oftentimes letting pass for pure metal what the other perhaps will throw by for dross; which differences are found not only between those that are of quite opposite religions, but, which is more, even between those that are of the self-same persuasion.

Those whom we named not long before, who were all of the Roman Church, depreciate, as we have said, the greatest part of the decretals of the first Popes. Franciscus Turrianus, a Jesuit, receives them, and defends them all, in a tract written by him to that purpose. Baronius calls the Recognitions, which are attributed to Clemens Romanus, ” A gulf of filth and uncleanness; full of prodigious lies and frantic fooleries.”[ Baron. Annal. tom. 1. an. 51.] Bellarmine says that this book was written either by Clemens or some other author as learned and as ancient as himself.[ Nos fatemur librum esse corruptum, &c. Sed tamen vel esse dementis Romani, vel alterius aequè docti ac antiqui. — Bellar. de lib. arbit. t. 5. c. 25.] Some of them consider those fragments, published by Nicol. Faber, under the name of St. Hilary, as good and genuine productions; and some others again reject them. Erasmus, Sixtus Senensis, Melchior Canus, and Baronius, are of opinion that the book “Of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, ” is falsely attributed to Jerome. Christophorus á Castro, a Spanish Jesuit, maintains the contrary. Cardinal Cajetan, Laurentius Valla, Erasmus, and some others, hold the books of Dionysius the Areopagite, as suspected and spurious. Baronius, and almost all the rest of their writers, maintain that they are true and legitimate. Turrianus, Bovin, and some others, recommend to us the “Constitutions of the Apostles,” as a genuine production; but Baronius, Possevine, Petavius, and a great many others, speak doubtfully of them.

We find in the writings of those of the Church of Rome an infinite variety of judgments in such cases as these. He that desires to furnish himself with examples of this kind, may have recourse to their books, and particularly to the writings of the late Cardinal Perron, who differs as much from the rest, in this point of criticism, as he does for the most part in the method he observes in his disputations. Now I would willingly be informed what a man should do, amidst these diversities of judgment; and what path he should take, where he meets with such disagreeing guides.

Yet suppose that these authors have done their utmost endeavor in this design, without any particular affection or partiality; how, notwithstanding, shall we be satisfied concerning their capability for the performance of their undertaking? Is it a light business, think you, to bring the whole stock of antiquity to the crucible, and there to purify and refine it, and to separate all the dross from it, which has so deeply, and for the space of so many ages, been not only, as it were, tied and fastened on to it, but even thoroughly mixed, united, and incorporated with it? This work requires the most clear and refined judgment that can be imagined; an exquisite wit, a quick piercing eye, a perfect ear, a most exact knowledge in all history, both ancient and modern, ecclesiastical and secular; a perfect knowledge of the ancient tongues; and a long and continued acquaintance with all kinds of writers, ancient, medieval, and modern, to be able to judge of their opinions, and which way their pulse beats: to understand rightly the manner of their expression, invention, and method in writing: each age, each nation, and each author, having in all these things their own peculiar ways. Now such a man as this is hardly produced in a whole age.

As for those men who in our times have taken upon them this department of criticism, who knows, who sees not, that only reads them, how many of the qualifications just enumerated are wanting in them? But suppose that such a man were to be found, and that he should take in hand this discovery, I do verily believe that he would be able very easily to find out the imposture of a bungling fool, that had ill counterfeited the stamp, color, and weight, in the work which he would father upon some other man; or that should, for example, endeavor to represent Jerome or Chrysostom with a stammering tongue, and should make them speak barbarous language, bad Latin, and bad Greek; or else perhaps should make use of such terms, things, or authors, as were not known to the world, till a long time after these men; or should make them treat of matters far removed from the age they lived in, and maintain opinions which they never thought of; or reject those, which they are notoriously known to have held: and of this sort, for the most part, are those pieces which our critics have decried, and noted as spurious. But if a man should chance to bring him a piece of some able master, that should have fully and exactly learned both the languages, history, manners, alliances, and quarrels of the family into which he has boldly obtruded himself, and should be able to make happy use of all these, be assured that our Aristarchus would be here as much puzzled to discover this juggler, as they were once in France, to prove the impostures of Martin Guerre.

Now how can we imagine, but that among so many several persons, that have for their several purposes employed their utmost endeavors in these kinds of forgeries, there must needs have been, in so many centuries, very many able men, who have had the skill so artificially to copy the manner and style of the persons whom they imitate, as to render it impossible to discover them? Especially, if they made choice of such a name, as was the only thing remaining in the world of that author; so that there is no mark left us, either of his style, discourse, or opinions, to guide us in our examination. And therefore in my judgment he was a very cunning fellow, and made a right choice, that undertook to write, under the name of Dionysius the Areopagite; for, not having any true legitimate piece of this author left us, by which we may examine the cheat, the discovery must needs be difficult; and it would have proved so much the more hard, if he had but used a more modest and less swelling manner of expression: whereas for those others, who in the ages following made bold with the names of Jerome, Cyprian, Augustine, and the like, (of whose legitimate writings we have very many pieces left us,) a man may know them at the first sight, merely by their style; those Gothic and rude spirits being no more able to counterfeit the graces and elegances of these great authors, than an ass is to imitate the warblings of the nightingale.

I confess there is another help, which, in my judgment, may better answer our purpose in this particular than all the rest; namely, the light and direction of the ancients themselves: who oftentimes make mention of other writers of the Church, that lived either before or in their own times; Jerome, among the Latins, having taken the pains to make a catalogue of all those with whose names and writings he was acquainted, from the apostles to his own time, which was afterwards continued by Gennadius. To this we may also add that incomparable work of the patriarch Photius, which he calls his Bibliotheca, and which is now published in this our age; where this great person has given us his judgment of most of the authors of the Greek Church. Now this aid we may make use of in two diiferent ways; the one in justifying a book, if it be found mentioned by these authors; the other in rejecting it, if they say nothing of it. As for the first of these, it concludes only according to the quality of the authors who make mention of a suspected book. For some of the Fathers themselves have made use of these kinds of forgeries, as we have formerly said; others have favoured them because they served their turn: some have not been able to discover them; and some others have not been willing to do so, whatsoever their reason has been.
I shall not here repeat the names of any of those who have done these things themselves. As for those that have favoured them, there are numerous examples; as Justin Martyr, Theophilus, and others, who adduce the Sybils’ verses as oracles; the greatest part of which, notwithstanding, are forged. As to Clemens Alexandrinus, the most learned and most polished of all the Fathers, in Jerome’s judgment,[Jerome, Letter 84, to Magn. tom. 2.] how often does he make use of those apocryphal pieces, which go under the names of the Apostles and disciples, to whom they were most falsely attributed; citing, under the name of Barnabas,[Clem. Alex. Strom. l. 2.] and of Hermes,[Clem. Alex. Strom. l. 1. and l. 2. and alibi passim.] such writings as have been forged under their names. And did not the seventh council in like manner make use of a supposititious piece attributed to Athanasius, as we have shown before; and likewise of divers others, which are of the same stamp?

That even the Fathers themselves therefore have not been able always to make a true discovery of these false wares, no man can doubt; considering that of those many necessary qualifications, which we enumerated before, as requisite in this particular, they may oftentimes have failed in some. Jerome himself, the most knowing man among all the Latin Fathers, especially in matters of this nature, sometimes lets them pass without examination: as where he speaks of a certain tract against mathematicians, attributed to Minutius Foelix, “If at least (saith he) the inscription represent unto us the right author of the book.”[Jerome, Letter 84 to Magn. tom. 2.] In another place, whatsoever his reason was, he delivers to us, for legitimate pieces, the epistles that go under the name of St. Paul to Seneca, and of Seneca to St. Paul;[Id. In Catal. tom. 1.] which, notwithstanding, Cardinal Baronius holds for suspected and spurious, as doubtless they are. [Baron. Annal. tom. 1. an. 66.] But even those men who have been able to discover these false pieces have not sometimes been willing to do it; either being unwilling to offend the authors of them, or else not daring to cast any disrepute upon those books which, having many good things in them, had not in their judgment maintained any false or dangerous positions. This is the reason why they chose to let such things pass, rather than, out of a little tenderness of conscience, to oppose them: there being, in their apprehension, no danger at all in the one, but much trouble and invidiousness in the other. Therefore I am of opinion, that Jerome, for example, would never have taken the pains, nor have undergone the invidiousness, of laying open the forgeries of Ruffinus, if the misunderstanding that happened to be between them, had not urged him to it. Neither do I believe that the African Fathers would ever have troubled themselves to prove the false allegation of Zosimus, but for their own interest, which was thereby called into question. For wise and sober men are never wont to fall into variance with any without necessity: neither do they quickly take notice of any injury or abuse offered them, unless it be a very great one, and such as has evident danger in it: which was not at all perceived or taken notice of at first, in these forgeries, that have nevertheless at length, by little and little, in a manner borne down all the good and legitimate books.

These considerations, in my opinion, make it clearly appear, that the title of a book is not sufficiently justified by a passage or two being cited out of it by some of the ancients, and under the same name. As for the other way, which renders the authority of a book doubtful, from the ancients not having made any mention of it, I confess it is no more demonstrative than the other: as it is not impossible, that any one, or divers of the Fathers, may not have met with such a certain writer that was then extant: or else perhaps that they might omit some one of those very authors which they knew. Yet this is, notwithstanding, the much surer way of the two: there being less danger in this case, in rejecting a true piece, than in receiving a forged one; the want of the truth of the one being doubtless much less prejudicial than the receiving the opposite falsehood of the other. For as it is a less sin to omit the good, than to commit the evil that is opposed to it; in like manner is it a less error, not to believe a truth than to believe the falsehood which is contrary to it. And thus we see what confusion there is in the books of the ancients, and what defect in the means which is requisite in distinguishing the false from the true: insomuch that, as it often happens, it is much easier to judge what we ought to reject, than to resolve upon what we may safely receive. Let the reader therefore now judge, whether or not, these writings having come down through so many ages, and passed through so many hands, which are either known to have been notoriously guilty, or at least strongly suspected of forgery — the truth in the mean time having made on its part but very weak resistance against these impostures — it be not a very difficult matter to discover, amidst the infinite number of books that are now extant, and go under the names of the Fathers, which are those that truly belong to them, and which, again, are those that are falsely imposed upon them. And if it be so hard a matter to discover in gross only which are the writings of the Fathers, how much more difficult a business will it be to find out what their opinions are, on the several controversies now in agitation. We are not to imagine, that it is no great matter from which of the Fathers such an opinion has sprung, so that it came from any one of them: for there is altogether as much difference amongst these ancient doctors, both in respect of authority, learning, and goodness, as among the modern. Besides that, an age being higher or lower either raises or lessens the repute of these writings, in the esteem both of the one party and of the other, as it were so many grains as years: and certainly not altogether without good reason; it being most evident to any one that has been but the least versed in the reading of these books, that time has by degrees introduced very great alterations, as well in the doctrine and discipline of the ancients, as in all other things.

Our conclusion therefore must be, that if any one shall desire to know what the sense and judgment of the primitive Church has been, as regards our present controversies, it will be first in a manner as necessary for him as it is difficult, exactly to find out both the name and the age of each of these several authors.


TFan’s notes: Obviously, this is a long chapter, so I won’t belabor the points. It’s worth noting that in the 400 or so years since this book was written, generally historians have tended to agree that the forgeries identified above (such as the “Dionysius the Aeropagite” works) are forgeries.

Likewise, it is worth noting the examples JD provides of Roman bishops treating the Sardican council as though it were Nicaea. And these are not necessarily the most ill-reputed Roman bishops, but ancient and relatively well respected ones.

Moreover, JD’s passing reference to the practice of paraphrase bears repeating. Not all of the ancient scribes felt the necessity of preserving the exact words of those who they were copying. In some cases, they seemed to feel free to paraphrase or even epitomize the original author, without telling the reader that this is being done.

Finally, JD’s greater point is worth considering. If we have been able to identify the amatuerish and clumsy forgeries only with great effort over a long time, don’t we suppose that there must be at least some forgeries that are more clever that we haven’t identified?

P.S. I should add that this practice of relying on false writings of the fathers persists to this day.  I’ve identified Steve Ray doing this, and he’s not alone.

Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers in Controversies (John Daillé) – Chapter II

December 26, 2012

The following is the second chapter of Daillé’s excellent work on the right use of the fathers. (see the contents post for more background)

Reason II. — Those writings which we have of the Fathers of the first centuries, treat of matters far different from the present controversies in religion.

But suppose that neither the want of books in the first three centuries, nor yet the abundance of them in the three following, should produce these inconveniences; it will nevertheless be very hard to discover from them what the opinion of their authors has been concerning those points of the Christian religion now controverted. For the matters whereof they treat are of a very different nature; these authors, according as the necessity of the times required, employing themselves either in justifying the Christian religion, and vindicating it from the aspersion of such crimes, wherewith it was most falsely and injuriously charged; or else in laying open to the world the absurdity and impiety of Paganism; or in convincing the hardhearted Jews, or in confuting the prodigious fooleries of the heretics of those times; or in exhortations to the faithful to patience and martyrdom; or in expounding some certain passages and portions of the Holy Scripture: all which things have very little concern with the controversies of these times; of which they never speak a syllable, unless they accidentally or by chance let a word drop from them toward this side or that side, yet without the least thought of us or of our controversies; although both the one and the other party sometimes light upon passages, wherein they conceive they have discovered their own opinions clearly delivered, though in vain for the most part, and without ground: precisely as he did, who on hearing the ringing of bells, thought they perfectly sounded out what he in his own thoughts had fancied. Justin Martyr and Tertullian, Theophilus and Lactantius, Clemens and Arnobius, show the heathen the vainness of their religion, and of their gods; and that Jupiter and Juno were but mortals, and that there is but one only God, the Creator of heaven and earth. Irenaeus bends his whole forces against the monstrous opinions of Basilides, the Valentinians, and other Gnostics, who were the inventors of the most chimerical divinity that ever came into the fancy of man. Tertullian also lashes them, as they well deserve; but he especially takes Marcion, Hermogenes, Apelles, Praxeas, and others to task, who maintained that there were two Gods, or two principles, and confounded the persons of the Father and the Son. Cyprian is wholly upon the discipline and the virtues of the Christian Church. Arius, Macedonius, Eunomius, Photinus, Pelagius, and afterwards Nestorius and Eutyches, made work for the Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries.

The blasphemies of these men against the person or the natures of our Savior Christ, or against the Holy Ghost and his grace, which have now of a long time lain buried and forgotten, were the matters controverted in those times, and the subject of the greatest part of the books then written, that have come to our hands. What relation has anything of all this to the doctrines of transubstantiation, and the adoration of the Eucharist, or the monarchy of the Pope, or the necessity of auricular confession, or the worshiping of images, and similar points, which are those of the present controversies, and which none of the ancients have treated expressly and by design, or perhaps ever so much as thought of? It is very true indeed, that the silence of these Fathers in these points, which some set so much value by, is not wholly mute, and perhaps also it may pass for a very clear testimony, but certainly not on their side who maintain them affirmatively. But, however, this is a most certain truth, that throughout the whole body of the genuine writings of these Fathers, you shall not meet with anything expressly urged either for or against the greatest part of these opinions. I shall most willingly confess, that the belief of every wise man makes up but one entire body, the parts whereof have a certain correspondence and relation to each other, to such a degree that a man may be able by those things which he delivers expressly, to give a guess what his opinion is concerning other things of which he says nothing; it being utterly improbable that he should maintain any position which shall manifestly clash with his other tenets, or that he should reject anything that necessarily follows upon them. But, besides, this manner of disputation presupposes that the belief of the ancient Fathers is uniform, no one position contradicting another, but having all its parts united, and depending one upon another, which indeed is very questionable, as we shall show elsewhere. Besides all this, I say it requires a quick discernment, which readily and clearly apprehends the connexions of each distinct point, an excellent memory to retain faithfully whatever positions the ancients have maintained, and a solid judgment free from all preoccupation, to compare them with the tenets maintained at this day. And the man who is endued with all these qualities I shall account the fittest to make profitable use of the writings of the Fathers, and the likeliest of any to search deeply into them. But the mischief is, that men so qualified are very rare and difficult to be found.

I shall add here, that if you will believe certain writers of the Church of Rome,[Gontery, Veron, and others] this method is vain and useless, as is also that which makes use of argumentation and reason; means which are insufficient, and unable (in the judgment of these doctors) to arrive at any certainty, especially in matters of religion. Their opinion is, that we are to rely upon clear and express texts only. Thus, according to this account, we shall not, if we be wise, believe that the Fathers held any of the aforenamed points, unless we can find them in express terms in their writings; that is to say, in the very same terms that we read them in the decrees and canons of the Council of Trent. Seeing then that, according to the opinion of these men, those testimonies only are to be received which are express, and likewise that of these points now controverted there is scarcely anything found expressly delivered by the Fathers, we may, in my opinion, very logically and reasonably conclude, that it is at least a very difficult if not impossible thing (according to these men) to come to the certain knowledge of the opinion of the ancients concerning the greatest part of the tenets of the Church of Rome, which are at this day rejected by the Protestants.


TFan’s notes: Daillé’s point here is a very important one to recognize. One of the key problems with appeals to the fathers on many points is that they have not necessarily considered the issue we are considering. The Scriptures have an enormous depth. There are many truths we can learn from them, and consequently not every Christian in every age has learned all of them.

Likewise, the human ability to come up with errors is ever-abounding. No one had ever heard of a place called “Purgatory,” or a process of “transubstantiation,” during the earliest centuries of the church, for example. Until such an error was invented, the fathers could not explicitly reject the place or the process by name.

Furthermore, while we would like to assume a consistency in the fathers, such that they held not only to their stated views but to the logical conclusions of those views, that’s a big assumption. After all, don’t we know our own theological opponents today who do not hold to the logical implications of their own views?

Daillé also highlights the fact that Roman Catholics are themselves divided as to how to treat the fathers. Some he identifies would like to count the fathers’ testimony only when they speak explicitly on the topic. Others are willing to consider the implications of what the fathers have to say. If the former rule is applied, virtually nothing of the disputed matters in Trent can be supported, for the words used by Trent differ from those used by the fathers. Indeed, if that rule is applied, it may be practically impossible to determine what the fathers would think of any controversy today.


Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers in Controversies (John Daillé) – Chapter I

December 24, 2012

The following is the first chapter of Daillé’s excellent work on the right use of the fathers. (see the contents post for more background)


Reason I. — On the difficulty of ascertaining the opinions of the Fathers in reference to the present controversies in religion, deduced from the fact that there is very little of their writings extant of the first three centuries.

If we should here follow the same course of argument, which some writers of the Church of Rome pursue against the Holy Scriptures, it would be very easy to bring in question, and render very doubtful and suspected, all the writings of the Fathers; for when the Old or New Testament is quoted, these gentlemen instantly demand, how or by what means we know that any such books were really written by those prophets and apostles whose names they bear? If therefore, in like manner, when these men adduce Justin, Irenaeus, Ambrose, Augustine, and others, we should at once demand of them, how and by what means we are assured that these Fathers were the authors of those writings which at this day bear their names, there is little doubt but that they would find a harder task of it than their adversaries would, in justifying the writings of the sacred volume; the truth whereof is much more easy to be demonstrated than of any human writings whatsoever. But I shall pass by this too artificial way of proceeding, and only say, that it is not very easy to find out, by the writings of the Fathers, what has really been their opinion, in any of those controversies which are now in dispute between the Protestants and the Church of Rome. The considerations, which render the knowledge of this so difficult, are many; I shall therefore, in this first Part, discuss some of them only, referring the rest to the second Part, examining them one after another.

The first reason, therefore, which I shall lay down for the proving of this difficulty, is the little we have extant of the writings of the ancient Fathers, especially of the first, second, and third centuries; which are those we are most especially to regard. For, seeing that one of the principal reasons that moves the Church of Rome to adduce the writings of the Fathers, is to show the truth of their tenets by their antiquity, which they consider as indicative of it; it is evident that the most ancient ought to be the most noticed. And indeed there is no question but that the Christian religion was more pure and without mixture in its beginning and infancy, than it was afterwards in its growth and progress: it being the ordinary course of things to contract corruptions, more or less, according as they are more or less removed from their first institution: as we see by experience in states, laws, arts, and languages, the natural propriety of all which is continually declining, after they have once passed the point of their vigor, and as it were the flower and prime of their strength and perfection. Now, I cannot believe that any faithful Christian will deny but that Christianity was in its zenith and perfection at the time of the blessed Apostles; and indeed it would be the greatest injury that could be offered them, to say that any of their successors have either had a greater desire or more abilities to advance Christianity than they had. It will hence follow then, that those times which were nearest to the Apostles were necessarily the purest, and less subject to suspicion of corruption, either in doctrine, or in manners and Christian discipline: it being but reasonable to believe, that if any corruptions have crept into the Church, they came in by little and little, and by degrees, as it happens in all other things. Some may here object, that even the very next age, immediately after the times of the Apostles, was not without its errors, if we may believe Hegesippus; who, as he is cited by Eusebius, witnesses, that the Church continued a virgin till the emperor Trajan’s time; but that after the death of the Apostles the conspiracy of error began to discover itself with open face: [see Eusebius, Church History, Book 3, Chapter 32]

I shall not oppose anything against this testimony, but shall only say, that if the enemy, immediately upon the setting of these stars of the Church, their presence and light being scarcely shut in, had yet the boldness presently to fall to sowing his evil seed; how much more had he the opportunity of doing this in those ages which were further removed from their times; when (the sanctity and simplicity of these great teachers of the world, having now by little and little vanished out of the memories of men) human, inventions and new fancies began to take place? So that we may conclude that even supposing the first ages of Christianity have not been altogether exempt from alteration in doctrine, yet are they much more free from it than the succeeding ages can pretend to be, and are therefore consequently to be preferred to them in all respects; it being here something like what the poets have fancied of the four ages of the world, where the succeeding age always came short of the former. As for the opinion of those men [Cassand. Consult. Ferdinan. p. 894. Perron. Epist. to Casaub.] who think the best way to find out the true sense of the ancient Church, will be to search the writings of those of the Fathers chiefly who lived between the time of Constantine the Great and Pope Leo, or Pope Gregory’s time, (that is to say, from the end of the third century to the beginning of the seventh,) I consider this as an admission only of the small number of books that are left us of those ages before Constantine, and not that these men allow that the authority of these three later ages ought to be preferred to that of the three former.

If we had but as much light and as clear evidences of the belief of the one as we have of the other, I make no question but they would prefer the former. But if they mean otherwise, and are indeed of a persuasion that the Church was really more pure after Constantine’s time than before, they must excuse me, if I think that they by this means confess the distrust they have of their own cause, seeing that they endeavour to fly as far as they can from the light of the primitive times; retreating to those ages, wherein it is most evident there were both less perfection and light than before; running altogether contrary to that excellent rule which Cyprian has given us: [Cyprian, Epistle 74, p. 195] That we should have recourse to the fountain, whenever the channel and stream of doctrine and ecclesiastical tradition are found to be the least corrupted. But, however, let their meaning be what it will, their words, in my judgment, do not a little advance the Protestants’ cause; it being a very clear confession that those opinions, about which they contest with them, do not at all appear clearly in any of the books that were written during the first three centuries. For if they were found clearly in the same, what policy were it then in them to appeal to the writers of the three following centuries, to which they very well know that their adversaries attribute less than to the former? But besides this tacit confession of theirs the thing is evident; namely, that there is left us at this day very little of the writings of the Fathers of the first three centuries of Christianity for the deciding of our differences.

The blessed Christians of those times contented themselves, for the greatest part, with writing the Christian faith in the hearts of men, by the beams of their sanctity and holy life, and by the blood shed in martyrdom, without much troubling themselves with the writing of books; whether it were because, as the learned Origen [Origen Preface to “Against Celsus,” p. 1, 2.] elegantly gives the reason, they were of opinion that the Christian religion was to be defended by the innocency of life and honesty of conversation, rather than by sophistry and the artifice of words: or whether, because their continual sufferings gave them not leisure to take pen in hand and to write books; or else, whether it were for some other reason perhaps, which we know not. But of this we are very well assured, that, except the writings of the Apostles, there was very little written by others in these primitive times; and this was the cause of so much trouble to Eusebius in the beginning of his history, who had little or no light to guide him in his undertaking; treading, as he saith, “in a new path, unbeaten by any that had gone before him.” [Eusebius, Church History, book 1, chapter 1]

Besides, the greatest part of those few books which were written by the Christians of those times, have not come down to our hands, but were lost, either through the injury of time, that consumes all things; or else have been destroyed by the malice of men, who have made bold to suppress whatsoever they met with that was not altogether to their taste. Of this sort were those five books of Papias bishop of Hierapolis, the apology of Quadratus Atheniensis, and that other of Aristides, the writings of Castor Agrippa against the twenty-four books of the heretic Basilides, the five books of Hegesippus, the works of Melito bishop of Sardis, Dionysius bishop of Corinth, Apollinaris bishop of Hierapolis, the epistle of Pinytus Cretensis, the writings of Philippus, Musanus, Modestus, Bardesanes, Pantsenus, Rhodon, Miltiades, Apollonius, Serapion, Bacchylus, Polycrates bishop of Ephesus, Heraclius, Maximus, Hammonius, Tryphon, Hippolytus, Julius Africanus, Dionysius Alexandrinus, and others; of whom we have nothing left but their names and the titles of their books, which are preserved in the works of Eusebius, Jerome, and others. [Jerome, l. de Scriptor. Etc. Eusebius in hist. passim. Tertul. Aliquorum meminit.] All that we have left us of these times, which is certainly known to be theirs, and of which no man doubts, are some certain discourses of Justin, the philosopher and martyr, who wrote his second apology a hundred and fifty years after the nativity of our Savior Christ; the five books of Irenaeus, who wrote not long after him; three excellent and learned pieces of Clemens Alexandrinus, who lived towards the end of the second century; divers books of Tertullian, who was famous about the same time; the epistles and other treatises of Cyprian bishop of Carthage, who suffered martyrdom about the year of our Saviour 261; the writings of Arnobius, and of Lactantius his scholar, and some few others. As for Origen, Cyprian’s contemporary — who alone, had we but all his writings entire, would be able perhaps to give us more light and satisfaction in the business we are now engaged in than all the rest — we have but very little of him left, and the greatest part of that too most miserably abused and corrupted; the most learned and almost innumerable writings of this great and incomparable person not being able to withstand the ravages of time, nor the envy and malice of men, who have dealt much worse with him, than so many ages and centuries of years that have passed from his time down to us.

Thus have I given you an account of well nigh all that we have left us, which is certainly known to have been written by the Fathers of the first three centuries. For as for those other pieces, which are pretended to have been written in the same times, but are indeed either confessed to be supposititious by the Romanists themselves, or are rejected by their adversaries, and that upon very good and probable grounds; these cannot have any place or account here, in elucidating the controversy we have now in hand.

The writings of the fourth and fifth centuries have, I confess, surpassed the former in number and good fortune too; the greatest part of them having been transmitted safely to our hands; but they come much short of the other in weight and authority, especially in the judgment of the Protestants, who maintain, and that upon very probable grounds, that the Christian religion has from the beginning had its declinings by little and little, losing in every age some certain degree of its’ primitive and native purity. And besides, we have good reason perhaps to fear lest the number of writers of these two ages trouble us as much as the paucity of them in the three preceding: and that, as before we suffered under scarcity, we now may be overwhelmed by their multitude. For the number of words and of books serves as much sometimes to the suppressing of the sense and opinion of any public body, as silence itself; our minds being then extremely confounded and perplexed, while it labors to comprehend what is the true and common opinion of the whole, amidst so many differently biased details, whereof each endeavors to express the same; it being most certain, that amongst so great and almost infinite variety of spirits and tongues, you shall hardly ever meet with two persons that shall deliver to you one and the same opinion, (especially in matters of so high a nature as the controversies in religion,) after the same form and way of representation, how unanimous soever their consent may otherwise be in the same opinion. And this variety, although it be but in the circumstances of the thing, makes, notwithstanding, the foundation itself also appear different.


TFan note: There has been significant effort and some notable advances in recovery of ancient writings since the above was written, back in the 17th century. Nevertheless, works like the writings of Castor Agrippa against the twenty-four books of the heretic Basilides remain attested by ancient sources, but still basically lost. It is possible a manuscript out there remains to be found or catalogued, but it seems likely that many of these ancient works are simply irretrievably lost.

And, of course, these examples of works that we think are completely lost, but that we know once existed, are just some examples of the works that were written. Can anyone doubt that there were many more works that were written but immediately passed out of memory, as they were not mentioned by other writers before being lost or destroyed?

Take even Roger Pearse’s recent publication of Eusebius’ “Gospel Problems,” book. He has identified many fragments of the book and has published them, with a translation. Nevertheless, this book remains in fragmentary form. We don’t always know how much is lost, how much has been interpolated, how much is paraphrase, and what part of the fragments certainly belongs to Eusebius.

We have better records with some of the later and especially famous and popular fathers, like Augustine, but he wasn’t even born until about the middle of the fourth century (around A.D. 354). But we may have an occasion to revisit some issues associated with Augustine.


Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers in Controversies (John Daillé) – Dedicatory Epistle

December 22, 2012

The following is the dedicator epistle for Daillé’s excellent work on the right use of the fathers. (see the contents post for more background)

Madam: — It is now nearly four years since your son, the late Baron of St. Hermine, acquainted me with what kind of discourse he was usually entertained at court by those who labored to advance the Romish religion, rather to excite his disgust against the Reformed; and told me that the chief argument which they urged against him was Antiquity, and the General Consent of all the Fathers of the first ages of Christianity. Although he himself understood well enough the vanity of this argument of theirs, yet, notwithstanding, for his own fuller satisfaction, he requested that I would discover to him the very depth of this matter. This therefore I did, as minutely as I possibly could, and gave him my judgment at large in this particular. This treatise of mine he was pleased so much to approve, that he conceived some hopes from thence, that it might also haply be of use to others.

Shortly afterwards I put pen to paper, and digested it into the treatise you now see. It having therefore been composed at first for his service, I had resolved also with myself to have dedicated it to his name; purporting, by this small piece of service, to testify to the world the continuation of the affection I bare to his progress in piety. But that deadly blow which snatched him from us in the flower of his age, about two years since, at the famous siege of Boisleduc, having left us nothing of him now, save only the spoils of his mortality, and the memory of his virtue, together with our great sorrow for having enjoyed him here so short a time, I am constrained, Madam, to change my former resolution. I shall therefore content myself with cherishing and preserving, whilst I live, the precious memory of his worth, the excellency of his wit, the soundness of his judgment, the sweetness of his nature, the fairness of his carriage, and those other choice parts, wherewith he was accomplished; but, above all, his singular piety, which clearly shone forth in his words and actions, till the hour of his death.

As for this small treatise, Madam, which was at first conceived and composed for him, I thought I could not, without being guilty of a piece of injustice, present it to any other but yourself: seeing it has pleased God, notwithstanding the common order of nature, to make you heir to him to whom it belonged. This consideration only has emboldened me to present it to your hands; knowing that the nature of this discourse is not so suitable to that sorrow which has of late cast a cloud over your house; it having pleased God, after the death of the son, to deprive you of the father; and to the loss of your children, to add that also of your noble husband. But my desire to avoid being unjust has forced me to be thus uncivilly troublesome: seeing I accounted it a kind of theft, should I have any longer withheld from you that which was your right, by this sad title of inheritance. Be pleased therefore, Madam, to receive this book as a part of the goods of your deceased son; which I now honestly restore, in the view of the whole world, after concealment of it for some time in my study. This name, I know, will oblige you to afford it some place in your closet, which is all that I can at present desire. For as for the reading of it, besides that your exquisite piety (which is built upon infinitely much firmer grounds than these disputes,) has no need at all of it; I know also that your present condition is such, that it would be very troublesome to you. And if you shall chance to desire to spend some hours in the perusal of it, it must be hereafter, when the Lord, by the efficacy of his Spirit, shall have comforted yours, and shall have allayed the violence of your grief; to whom I pour out my most earnest prayers, that he would vouchsafe powerfully to effect the same, and to shed forth his most holy grace upon you and yours; and that he would by his great mercy preserve, long and happily, that which remains of that goodly and blessed family, which he has bestowed upon you.

This, Madam, is one of the most hearty prayers of

Your most humble

And obedient servant,


Paris, August 15, 1631.


TFan notes: As you can see, this letter dedicating the book explains the background of how the book came to be composed. In particular, it shows that the book is the distilling of various conversations that Daillé had with the Baron of St. Hermine, before his untimely death in war. The link to the discussion of the fort he identified and its colorful history is, of course, added by me.

Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers in Controversies (John Daillé) – Author’s Preface

December 21, 2012

The following is the author’s preface to Daillé’s excellent work on the right use of the fathers. (see the contents post for more background)


All the difference in religion, which is at this day between the Church of Rome and the Protestants, lies in some certain points which the Church of Rome maintains as important and necessary articles of the Christian faith: whereas the Protestants, on the contrary, neither believe nor will receive them for such. For as for those matters which the Protestants believe, which they conceive to be the fundamentals of religion, they are evidently and undeniably such, that even their enemies admit and receive them as well as they: inasmuch as they are both clearly delivered in the Scriptures, and expressly admitted by the ancient councils and Fathers; and are indeed unanimously received by the greatest part of Christians in all ages, and in different parts of the world. Such, for example, are the maxims,

  • That there is a God who is supreme over all, and who created the heavens and the earth: 
  • that he created man after his own image; and that this man, revolting from his obedience, is fallen, together with his whole posterity, into most extreme and eternal misery, and become infected with sin, as with a mortal leprosy, and is therefore obnoxious to the wrath of God, and liable to his curse: 
  • that the merciful Creator, pitying man’s estate, graciously sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world: 
  • that his Son is God eternal with him; and that having taken flesh upon himself in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and become man, he has done and suffered in this flesh all things necessary for our salvation, having by this means sufficiently expiated for our sins by his blood; and that having finished all this, he ascended again into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; from whence he shall one day come to judge all mankind, rendering to every one according to their works; 
  • that to enable us to communicate of this salvation by his merits, he sends us down his Holy Spirit, proceeding both from the Father and the Son, and who is also one and the same God with them; so that these three persons are notwithstanding but one God, who is blessed forever; 
  • that this Spirit enlightens our understanding, and generates faith in us, whereby we are justified: 
  • that after all this, the Lord sent his Apostles to preach this doctrine of salvation throughout the whole world: 
  • that these have planted churches, and placed in each of them pastors and teachers, whom we are to hear with all reverence, and to receive from them Baptism, the sacrament of our regeneration, and the holy Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper, which is the sacrament of our communion with Jesus Christ: 
  • that we are likewise all of us bound fervently to love God and our neighbor; observing diligently that holy doctrine which is laid down for us in the books of the New Testament, which have been inspired by his Spirit of truth; as also those other of the Old; there being nothing, either in the one or in the other, but what is most true.

These articles, and there may be some few others of a similar nature, are the substance of the Protestant’s whole belief: and if all other Christians would but content themselves with these, there would never be any schism in the Church. But now their adversaries add to these many other points, which they press and command men to believe as necessary; and such as, without believing in, there is no possible hope of salvation. As for example:

  • that the Pope of Rome is the head and supreme monarch of the whole Christian Church throughout the world: 
  • that he, or at least the church which he acknowledges a true one, cannot possibly err in matters of faith: 
  • that the sacrament of the Eucharist is to be adored, as being really Jesus Christ, and not a piece of bread: 
  • that the mass is a sacrifice, that really expiates the sins of the faithful: 
  • that Christians may and ought to have in their churches the images of God and of saints, to which, bowing down before them, they are to use religious worship: 
  • that it is lawful, and also very useful, to pray to saints departed and to angels: 
  • that our souls after death, before they enter into heaven, are to pass through a certain fire, and there to endure grievous torments; thus making atonement for their sins: 
  • that we neither may nor ought to receive the holy Eucharist, without having first confessed in private to a priest: 
  • that none but the priest himself that consecrated the Eucharist is bound by right to receive it in both kinds: 
  • with a great number of other opinions, which their adversaries plainly protest that they cannot with a safe conscience believe.

These points are the ground of the whole difference between them; the one party pretending that they have been believed and received by the Church of Christ in all ages as revealed by him; and the other maintaining the contrary.

Now, seeing that none of these tenets have any ground from any passage in the New Testament, (which is the most ancient and authentic rule of Christianity) the maintainers are glad to fly to the writings of the doctors of the Church, who lived within the first four or five centuries after the Apostles, who are commonly called the Fathers: my purpose in this treatise is to examine whether or not this be good and sufficient means for the decision of these differences. For this purpose I must first presuppose two things, which any reasonable person will easily grant me.

The first is, that the question being here about laying a foundation for certain articles of faith, upon the testimonies or opinions of the Fathers, it is very necessary that the passages which are produced out of them be clear, and not to be doubted; that is to say, such as we cannot reasonably scruple at, either as regards the author, out of whom they are alleged; or the sense of the place, whether it signify what is pretended. For a deposition of a witness, and the sentence of a judge, being of no value at all, save only for the reputation of the witness or judge, it is most evident, that if either proceed from persons unknown, or suspected, they are invalid, and prove nothing. In like manner, if the deposition of a witness or sentence of a judge be obscure, and in doubtful terms, it is clear, that in this case the business must rest undecided; there being another doubt first to be cleared, namely, what the meaning of either of them was.

The second point that I shall here lay down for a foundation to the ensuing discourse, is no less evident than the former: namely, that to allow a sufficiency to the writings of the Fathers for the deciding of those controversies, we must necessarily attribute to their persons very great authority; and such as may oblige us to follow their judgment in matters of religion. For if this authority be wanting, however clear and express their opinions be, in the articles now controverted, it will do nothing towards their decision.

We have therefore here two things to examine in this business. The first is, whether or not we may be able to know, with certainty and clearness, what the opinion of the Fathers has been on the differences now in hand. The second, whether their authority be such, that every faithful person who shall clearly and certainly know what their opinion has been in any one article of Christian religion, is thereby bound to receive that article for true. For if the Church of Rome be but able to prove both these points, it is then without all dispute that their proceeding is good, and agreeable to the end proposed; there being so many writings of the ancient Fathers at this day adduced by them. But if, on the contrary, either of these two things, or both of them, be indeed found to be doubtful, I should think that any man, of a very mean judgment, should be able to conclude of himself, that this way of proof, which they have hitherto made use of, is very insufficient; and that therefore they of necessity ought to have recourse to some other more proper and solid way of proving the truth of the said opinions, which the Protestants will not by any means receive.


TFan’s Notes:  It seems particularly interesting to note what Daillé views as the central doctrines of Christianity as well as those that he particularly objects to in Rome’s theology.  One particularly notable omission from his list of Rome’s objectionable doctrines are the Marian dogmas.  Part of that is based on the fact that dogmatizing of those views of Mary was still in the works when Daillé wrote (he wrote in the 1600’s).  But certainly, if a Reformed author were writing today, we would add the Marian dogmas to the second bulleted list above.

Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers in Controversies (John Daillé) – Contents

December 20, 2012

John Daillé wrote a wonderful book titled, “A Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers in Decision of Controversies Existing at this Day in Religion.” He was a Reformed minister in Paris. He wrote the treatise in French, but an English translation is available. Even if all you read (because of laziness or apathy) is the table of contents, you may at least get some sense of the general issues that confront one who seeks to be a scholar of the fathers.

Thus, here we present the table of contents based on the first American edition (1842)(available in full at

(author’s preface)
(dedicatory epistle)


  1. On the Difficulty of ascertaining the Opinions of the Fathers in reference to the present Controversies in Religion, deduced from the fact that there is very little of their Writings extant of the first three Centuries. (link)
  2. Those Writings which we have of the Fathers of the first Centuries, treat of matters far different from the present Controversies in Religion. (link)
  3. Those Writings which bear the names of the ancient Fathers, are not all really such; but a great portion of them supposititious and forged, either long since or at later periods. (link)
  4. 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. (link)
  5. The Writings of the Fathers are difficult to be understood, on account of the Languages and Idioms in which they wrote, and the manner of their Writing, which is encumbered with rhetorical flourishes, and logical subtleties, and with terms used in a sense far different from what they now bear.
  6. The Fathers frequently conceal their own private Opinions, and say what they did not believe; either in reporting the Opinion of others, without naming them, as in their Commentaries; or disputing against an Adversary, where they make use of whatever they are able; or accommodating themselves to their Auditory, as may be observed in their Homilies.
  7. The Fathers have not always held the same Doctrine; but have changed some of their Opinions, according as their judgment has become matured by study or age.
  8. It is necessary, but nevertheless difficult, to discover how the Fathers held all their several Opinions; whether as necessary, or as probable only; and in what degree of necessity or probability.
  9. We ought to know what were the Opinions, not of one or more of the Fathers, but of the whole ancient Church: which is a very difficult matter to discover.
  10. It is very difficult to ascertain whether the Opinions of the Fathers, as to the Controversies of the present day, were received by the Church Universal, or only by some portion of it; this being necessary to be known, before their sentiments can be adopted.
  11. It is impossible to know exactly what was the belief of the ancient Church, either Universal or Particular, as to any of those points which are at this day controverted amongst us.


  1. The Testimonies given by the Fathers, on the Doctrines of the Church, are not always true and certain.
  2. The Fathers testify themselves, that they are not to be believed absolutely, and upon their own bare Assertion, in what they declare in matters of Religion.
  3. The Fathers have written in such a manner, as to make it clear that when they wrote they had no intention of being our authorities in matters of Religion; as evinced by examples of their mistakes and oversights.
  4. The Fathers have erred in divers points of Religion; not only singly, but also many of them together.
  5. The Fathers have strongly Contradicted one another, and have maintained different Opinions in matters of very great importance.
  6. Neither the Church of Rome nor the Protestants acknowledge the Fathers for their Judges in points of Religion; both of them rejecting such of their Opinions and Practices as are not suited to their taste; being an answer to two Objections that may be made against what is delivered in this Discourse.

I hope that if you at least read the above, you will have some idea of what it is you don’t know about the fathers, to avoid falling into the pitfalls associated with many (particularly Roman Catholic) appeals to the fathers.


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