J. B. (John Bickford) Heard.

Alexandrian and Carthaginian theology contrasted online

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BR 45 .H84 1892/93
Heard, J. B. b. 1828.
Alexandrian and Carthaginian
theology contrasted


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Ill cruicn Scu, jyi'ice Gs.,

B Constructive Critique.

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Spirit, Soul, anJ> :fi3oDi?»

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"The author has Kot a striking and consistent theory. ... It is
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A FEW words of explanation will be enough to put the
reader in line with the leading thoughts of these Lectures.
Some years ago I had put forth a volume of constructive
criticism, bearing the title of Old and Nev: Theology.
This contrast of old and new inadequately conveyed my
meaning, as it set the reader thinking of some " time" test ;
and it seemed to raise needless offence by the vague hint
that the new was better than the old. As yet I had not
struck my finger on the true contrast between old and
new ; but I had not long to wait. Through the kindness
of a friend, I was sent an early copy of the Bohlen Lecture
for 1884, on the Continuity of Christian Thought; a
Study of Modern Theology in the Light of its History, by
Professor Allen of the Episcopal Theological School of
Cambridge, Mass. This able and thorough-going treatise
put in my hands for the first time a better canon than
that of old and new. I there learned, to my surprise, that
what I had described as new theology was in reality the
oldest of all. It was that which was from the beginning
in the East, and had there been held to as a consistent
tradition of truth in Alexandria by all the early Greek
Fathers, from Clement to Athanasius. The contrast
between early Greek and Latin theology was the key to
Dr. Allen's book, and showed that the " traditional con-
ception " of God which has come down from the Middle
Ages through " the Latin Church is undergoing a pro-

viii Preface,

found transformation." "The idea that God is tran-
scendent, and not only exalted above the world by His
moral perfections, but separated from it by the infinite
reaches of space, is yielding to the idea of Deity as
immanent in His creation. A change so fundamental
involves other changes of momentous importance in every
department of human thought, and more especially in
Christian theology."

This was the contrast between a God immanent and
a God transcendent, which is the master-key to the many
contrasts between two theologies which I had crudely
described as old and new, whereas in reality they were
as far apart as the East is from the West. It was to
me a joyful discovery that the so-called new theology of
modern thinkers was nothins^ more than a fresh draft of
the oldest of all theologies. It was that Logos doc-
trine of a Word, a wisdom indwelling in men, which is
from the beginning. It is as old as St. John, though
later Augustinianism had effaced that early type, and set
up a new standard of orthodoxy based on Church autho-
rity and the blindness of the natural conscience. To
this transcendent Deity the whole West has for fourteen
centuries blindly bowed, and accepted under the phrase
" sovereignty," the Eoman magisterial conception of God.
There have been protests here and there, but they were
only scattered voices, lurid and broken lights seen up and
down the ages ; but to question the argument from autho-
rity was to write oneself down among the mystics, and to
lay oneself open to the reproach of indefiniteness. But
thanks to Professor Allen's far-reaching contrast between
East and West, we have been given a clue by which
again to thread the labyrinth of Church history. We
are at one dead lift raised out of that uncritical stage of
scholarship in which the " Eathers " were regarded as a

Preface. ix

whole, and Church teaching was considered a body of
truth, one and indivisible. Such a work as these Bohlen
Lectures of Dr. Allen were to me " epoch-making." They
express what I had been hammering at for years without
striking the blov/ home. To thank a writer to whom,
in Plato phrase, the re'^vr] /jiaievrtKr) has been so largely
given, will seem wasteful and ridiculous excess. How
helpful it has been to me, let these Hulsean Lectures ex-
press. It confirms the old remark, that all discoveries are
only recoveries. A thought is in the air, and some one has
set it in motion. It is they who are the first to recognise
its far-reaching importance, who feel that it clears up
contradictions between old and new which were before

Another writer to whom I wish to express how deep
a debt I owe for unexpected help is Dr. Moorhouse, the
Bishop of Manchester. His University Sermons on the
Teaching of Christ ; its Conditions, Secret, and Results, are
full of suggestive thought. What can be better than his
account of the Book of Origins, and his linking together
of the Genesis traditions with those of Chaldgea ? The
concessions which this broad - minded Bishop makes
to the demands of the age, justifies his remark that
" nothing is nearer to heresy than a stiff and narrow-
minded orthodoxy."

But my chief obligation to Bishop Moorhouse lies in
his skilful handling of what he describes as the after-
thoughts of dogmatic theology. One of the oldest of
these difficulties of belief grows out of the theory of
Satanic influence on those cases of obscure disease de-
scribed in the New Testament as Satanic possession.
The Bishop here makes good use of Dr. Martensen's theory,
corresponding to Schopenhauer's " Will to Live," which
must, from its very nature, come into constant conflict with

X Pi-eface.

that Almii^lity " AVill to Love," which is God. The devil
"so defined," says Martensen, " hungers after fuhiess of life,
and must come for his substance, for the material on
which he works, to the world of man." This, like every
other great thought, is pregnant of many others, and the
whole difficulty of diabolical possession yields up its
meaning, and falls into line with law when touched with
this one thought of a God who is " Will to Love." All
separate Hfe is mere " Will to Live." It belongs to that
lower world which is the " creature, which is not subject
to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

I hope in these few pages of explanation I have at
least acknowledged some of my debts ; discharge them I
never expect to do, since a fresh writer sets in motion
new trains of thought. It is like the " power " let in to
the looms of Manchester, which afterwards seem to go
on spinning of themselves, as if endowed with perpetual
motion. A remark of St. Beuve is here to the point,
that to admire with mediocrity is an unerring mark of
mediocrity. I hope I have acknowledged the obligations
which I owe to these two writers. There are many
more, doubtless, to whom I am indebted, but I am not
conscious of it to the same extent. If I have erred, I
have at least erred in good company. If I have found
the key to this standing contrast between new and old in
theology, I at least lay no claim to originality. To have
found the true thread to the labyrinth, and the root
of the contrast between the one and the many, is what
multitudes have toiled after, and still are in search of.
Catholic and Protestant have each raised their Eureka
cry, only to lose it again in some new form of traditional
dogmatism. To these two, my masters in theology, Dr.
Moorhouse and Dr. Allon, I gladly inscribe anything
that is fresh or new in these Lectures.




Epimetheus Afterthofghts, 1

Theology Proper, 31


What are Afterthoughts ? 58

Dissipation of Energy, 87

Excuse for Afterthoughts, 114

Not to Premeditate, 149

Augustine and his System, 175


Augustine, his Merits and Defects, 201


xii Contents.




Afterthoughts on Inspikation, 260

Remedy, 275


Thhee Tests of Afterthoughts — 1. Unphimitive ; 2. Irre-
concilable WITH Higher Light to break from God's
Word ; 3. Metaphysical Stage of Thought, . . . 314

Epilogue, 334


Page 243, line 32, /or "times" read "tomes."
Page 249, line VI, for "or alter" read "in order."
Page 281, line 15, " protagonist " /or " protagenist.
Page 347, line 2>2,for "lamine a^stit" read '^ vestU.'



The earliest, perhaps the most precious, fragment of
sub-apostolic teaching is the " Teaching of the Twelve."
It sets out with the contrast between two ways, " the
way of life " and " the way of death." A lifetime has
taught nie the same sharp contrast between two theo-
logies, the one setting out with the first thoughts of God,
the other with man's interpretation of these thoughts,
which I describe as second thoughts or afterthoughts.
The first thoughts, which are God's thoughts, all address
themselves to the conscience — they enter in, and they
lodge there. As they are the first thoughts of Him who
is the Word of God, so, like that word of God, which
is quick and powerful, they pierce sharper than any
two - ed^ed sword. The unerrinc^ mark of the first
thoughts of God is that they come, as all Christ's
teaching came, with authority to the conscience. They
bind and they loose alone in the region of the inner man,
while with superb indifference they sweep by, as beneath
notice, those ritualisms and liabbinisms on which smaller
teachers lay such store. The self-limitation of Christ is
nowhere more seen than in this, that in discussions which
to the critical mind seem so urgent, such as the question


2 Epimetheus Afterthoughts,

of the authorship of the books of Moses, He is severely
silent. To questions merely curious, such as whether few
shall be saved. He leaves us as before in blank ignorance ;
as an able modern apologist expresses it : ^ — " Judging,
liowever, from His ordinary method of teaching, I should
have expected that just as He said to the man who
desired Him to interfere in a question of inheritance,
' Who made me a judge or a divider between you ? ' He
would have said in reply to a question about the age or
authorship of a passage in the Old Testament, ' Who
commissioned me to resolve difficulties in historical
criticism ? ' "

This is a mark of God's thoughts, the note, as we should
say, of " Inspiration " in the true sense of the term,
and as contrasted with modern notions of a book religion.
Christ is silent, severely so, on all subjects on which the
human mind is able to find a path for itself. To para-
phrase a celebrated line of Virgil, it leaves others to
fuse the meltinc^ brass, or make cold marble to breathe.
Others may measure the course of the stars or pour out
streams of passionate eloquence ; but for the arts of moral
self-control, and to find out the place of wisdom and the
l)lace of understanding, then we may turn to the old
Book and appeal to it as to the lively oracles of God.
These oracles are dumb where the inquisitive mind of man
expects to be saved the search for truth. On this wide
reach of thought, embracing the whole of science and the
whole of ethics and of politics, on its speculative side at
least, these so-called oracles are dumb. So much so, that
the Gnostic type of mind turns from them with contempt,
and describes itself as Agnostic, or indifferent to truths
which are hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed
only to babes. God's thoughts, in a word, are not as our

^ Sermons on the Teaching of Christ, by Bishop Moorhouse, p. 42.

Epwietheus Afterthoughts. 3

thoughts ; and the Bible in its way of putting truth ever
will be a stumbling - block and offence to the merely
curious and inquisitive. A sublime chapter in Job sums
it all up as to these silences of Scripture. It is silent on
mineralogy, botany, biology, and all the antiquities of
man and his dwelling-place, but it breaks out only to
teach, as — " Unto man He saith, Behold, the fear of the
Lord, that is wisdom ; and to depart from evil, that is

Now, contrast with this theology of God's first thoughts
the afterthoughts of man, which make up our dogmatic,
deductive systems built up on scattered texts and inferences
of the hereafter all grounded in our ignorance. These
second or afterthoughts all want this true note of authority,
and they make up for it by the mock thunder of dogmat-
ism. They are positive where revelation is silent, and
they venture to lift the veil which hangs over the future,
where apostles and prophets, who should know most, pro-
fess to know least. It is instructive to pursue this contrast
between inspired and uninspired men and books. As
soon as we get out of the Canon into the Apocrypha the
difference is apparent. It needs little learning to see
why even an uncritical age like that which drew up the
Hebrew Canon had to exclude such a book as Tobit, with
its strange demonology and still stranger medical magic.
It is too obvious; and this same contrast of fine gold with
base metal runs throucfh all the later books. Even the
Wisdom of Solomon is too " Solomonic " by far. It is an
evident afterthought on the hints thrown out by the way
in canonical books on the subject of Solomon's wisdom.
Ecclesiastes is eponyraic, no doubt, and affects a gnomic
style such as an ancient king of Israel of the heroic age
would presumably \^rite in. But it is sober in com-
parison to the more than romantic style of the later

Epimetheus Afterthoughts,

Solomon. His love for wisdom is so piled np witli
phrases which are the echoes of a truth-seeker, not the
voice itself, that it compels us to say that no man really
wise would descant in such a style. It sets us thinking
of the age of copyists, which always sets in when the
atjje of true wisdom is over.

We have, then, in these apocryphal books a ready test
of the contrast we are in search of. The first thoughts of
God are simple, self-evidencing, and go home to tiie con-
science straight as a bolt to its mark. But when we
descend to afterthoughts, we at once enter a lower level
of thought. It is less direct, more discursive ; it is
more ingenious, but less heart-searching. It may be said
to begin at the point where Holy Writ leaves off, and to
lift the veil expressly on those subjects on which Scrip-
ture lets it fall, cautioning us that " it doth not appear
what we shall be." It has been often remarked that the
Mosaic creation contains no cosmogony, but the reason
for this omission is not seen to be as intentional as it is.
But at last we have been able to recover the sources of
these primitive legends which lie at the base of the Mosaic
narrative. The legend of the Creation, the Fall, and the
Deluge are all Accadian, and the Cylinder rolls have
given a similar version to our Book of Origins. But the
contrast is quite as instructive as the resemblance of the
jMosaic to these Chaldee legends. The latter are all
polytheistic, and the ethical teaching corresponds to it,
while the Mosaic are all set to the note of Monotheism.
Tliey are grave, ethical, and not inconsistent with the
character of One whose " eyes behold, and wliose eyelids
try the children of men."

This contrast is not accidental. It runs tlirough the
whole Old Testament, and suggests to us the true and
only Canon of inspiration, which has been so strangely

Epimethens Afterthoughts. 5

misunderstood by those who take the Bible for what it is
not, and mistake what it is. Every scripture inspired by
God, according to tlie apostle (2 Tim. iii. 16), is profitable
for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction
which is in righteousness. Here the predication unques-
tionably is not so much with regard to what theopneustia
means in itself (that lies quite in the background), or
with regard to the channels through which theopneustia
ilows. These are its four criteria : it is profitable in these
four directions — (1) For hthacricaXla, which is not so much
the thing taught — this would be didacM — as the way of
teaching; (2) for reproof, or the elenchus of conscience,
convincinsf, as it were, and bindins: it with cords of a
man ; (3) for iTravopOaxjcv, which means a good deal more
than correction, and which rather means that re-setting
our nature on a true spiritual and moral basis, that
edifying which is in love, which is the true note of
Holy Scripture. Lastly, the end and aim of all truly
theopneustic writing is iraLheia, which is a good deal
more than mere instruction or schoolmaster's work.
Parental education differs from instruction as a whole
from its part, or as genus from species. Fatherly discip-
line more nearly represents the meaning — that " loving
correction which makes us great " when it comes from the
God and Father of all.

We have only to put these four tests of a theo-
pneustic book together, and we see what the Bible is not
and what it is as a whole, and so are able to measure
the contrast between the first thoughts of God and the
afterthoughts of man. This, as we hold it, is the true
Canon of what is to be the Canon. This is the best
reason for accepting on the whole (with some reserve,
we admit, which modern criticism calls for) the Hebrew
Canon. The Palestinian Canonists extruded certain

6 Epimetheus Afterthoughts.

additaments because " found in the Greek but not in
the Hebrew." So far, by this expression, they seem
partial, and judges of themselves. Alexandria was a
rival centre for Judaism, and the Jerusalem doctors of
the law naturally became jealous of their rival. So far
we can understand the enlarged Canon of tlie Greek Old
Testament and the somewhat abridged Canon of the
same in Hebrew. As a matter of fact, since the Keforma-
tion at least, our suffrages have gone with the Palestinian
against the Alexandrian Jews. We have accepted St.
Jerome's view of the matter, and censure the Latin
Church for its Vulgate version, which obliterates the deep
distinction between the canonical and the uncanonical
books of the Old Testament. It is one of the many
errors of Eome which in its place Protestant contro-
versialists do not fail to single out for censure.

But the true Canon of inspiration lies not in any
decision of Piabbis, who chiefly for linguistic reasons
decided for a Hebrew and against a Greek version. This
contention, based on verbal inspiration, is no better than
that between Samaria and Jerusalem as rival centres of
Palestinian Judaism, and would be decided by the Lord
on the same grounds, that " wliile salvation was of the
Jews, the time was coming when neither in this mountain
nor yet in Jerusalem men should worship the Father."
The old Hebrew draft of Law, Prophets, and Psalms has
this advantage over the Greek translation, that these
apocryplial additions, which have crept into the Greek,
have the unerring mark of all afterthoughts. They do
not strike the same note as the first thoughts of God —
they are not profitable in the same way for instruction
in righteousness. Their iraiheia is of a very inferior
type. They import an angelology on which canonical
books are expressively silent. They are effusive in

Epimetheus Afterthoughts. 7

idealisincr that foreign notion of Chachmah which is not
Hebrew but Greek ; but these Wisdom echoes of the so-
called Solomonic sage lack the one note of archaic
simplicity. The canonical book of Proverbs is quite in
the true note. When we come to Koheleth, it seems as
if we are on the border line, and the low place which
it takes in the Hebrew Canon shows the small estimation
in which it was held. The Hebrew Canonists would
perhaps have done better if they had used the knife
more boldly, and amputated more of the later books
of the Hagiographa. When we have named Psalms,
Proverbs, and Job, we have included all that come np to
the full standard of theopneustic books as profitable for
moral and spiritual training. There are, of course, in the
Bible, as in any " library," lesser as well as greater lights.
Our minor poets have their place in any anthology
deserving the name. So for this reason we would not
exclude from the Canon such a fragment as that so-called
Vision of Obadiah, which critics conjecture was an
amplification of the last five verses of Amos, and was
therefore placed next after the book of Amos. All we
contend against is the superstitious sense of finality in
dealing with the books of the Old Testament.

We come, then, to this conclusion with regard to
inspiration in general and the Canon of the Old Testa-
ment in particular, that Mosaism is Monotheism, and that
it is this Monotheism which differentiates the Book of
Origins from all other origins or cosmogonies like the
Chaldtean, on which they are apparently transcripts. Why,
in following the current tradition of Semitic and Accadian
races, the Hebrews, that is the men from beyond the river
who broke off under Abraham from the common stock, who
served other gods, should set up new traditions of their own
which were like and yet unlike the old, it is impossible

8 Epwictheus Aftei^thotights,

to explain if we leave out of account that election of the
father of the faithful. The true beginning of inspiration
is that which we may describe as the call of Abraham.
That was the true birthday of the chosen race, of which
the exodus was the baptism, when they were baptized into
Moses in the cloud and in the sea. Then began that
course of education which we sometimes describe as
inspiration and sometimes as revelation ; but these are
only different names of the same thing, the education of
the race under prophets in sundry times and divers
manners. Mosaism is only prophetism, since Moses was
the first as Malachi is the last of a long chain of teachers,
— a chain of many links and of different patterns. The
book element was quite subordinate, if it ever existed,
in early times. It is an old fallac}' of human nature to
judge the past by the present, and so to forget that the
best teaching is catechesis — it is ear- wise not eye-wise,
by the living voice, not the dead letter, that man acts on
man and mind opens mind. It is mere modernism to
regard us as dependent on books. These modern oracles
are the reverse of lively. We have fallen like the
Moslems into the same mistake of describing our holy
faith as a book religion. To this day Moslems are
described by Kaffirs or pagans of Africa as " men of the
book." It is with much the same superstitious venera-
tion as Moslems look on the " Koran " — the " writing "
where inspiration is its own witness of itself — that we
moderns take the Hebrew Keri or written text of what
the Jews came to regard as canonical, and make a
Protestant fetich of it. Our Bible Societies and such-
like agencies do much to deepen this uncritical tradition
which passes current under the Chilli ngworth phrase, the
" Bible the religion of Protestants."

Thus Bible and Church relicjions are in damper alike of

Epimetheus Afterthoughts, 9

forgetting how they grew up. We have to bring them
back from " afterthoughts " to the " first thoughts " of
God. His " first thought " is the education of the human
race as a whole ; and we regard it as the lasting disgrace
of all latter-day theology, from Augustine downward, that
it so let go this " thought of God's purpose " that it had
to be refound. This was done, as is too often the case, by
a mere man of letters like Lessing, driven to Deism for

Online LibraryJ. B. (John Bickford) HeardAlexandrian and Carthaginian theology contrasted → online text (page 1 of 29)