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The Doctrine of Redemption and Restoration.
In the view of Clement and Origen the proposition: “God wishes us to be saved by means of ourselves” (ὁ Θεὸς ἡμᾶς ἐξ ἡμῶν αὐτῶν βούλεται σώζεσθαι) is quite as rue as the other statement 366that no spirit can be saved without entering into fellowship with the Logos and submitting to his instruction.787787Origen again and again strongly urged the necessity of divine grace. They moreover hold that the Logos, after passing through his various stages of revealing activity (law of nature, Mosaic law), disclosed himself in the Gospel in a manner complete and accessible to all, so that this revelation imparts redemption and eternal happiness to all men, however different their capacities may be. Finally, it is assumed that not only men but all spiritual creatures, from the radiant spirits of heaven down to the dusky demons, have the capacity and need of redemption; while for the highest stage, the “spiritual Church”, there is an eternal Gospel which is related to the written one as the latter is to the law. This eternal Gospel is the first complete revelation of God’s highest intentions, and lies hidden in the Holy Scriptures.788788See on this point Bigg, pp. 207 ff., 223 f. Origen is the father of Joachim and all spiritualists. These elements compose Origen’s doctrine of revelation in general and of Christ in particular.789789See Knittel, Orig. Lehre von der Menschwerdung (Tübinger Theologische Quartalschrift, 1872). Ramers, Orig. Lehre von der Auferstehung des Fleisches, 1851. Schultz, Gottheit Christi, pp. 51-62. They presuppose the sighing of the creature and the great struggle which is more especially carried on upon earth, within the human breast, by the angels and demons, virtues and vices, knowledge and passion, that dispute the possession of man. Man must conquer and yet he cannot do so without help. But help has never been wanting. The Logos has been revealing himself from the beginning. Origen’s teaching concerning the preparatory history of redemption is founded on the doctrines of the Apologists; but with him everything takes a more vivid form, and influences on the part of the heretical Gnosis are also not lacking. Pure spirits, whom no fault of their own had caused to be invested with bodies, namely, the prophets, were sent to men by the Logos in order to support the struggling and to increase knowledge. To prepare the way of salvation the Logos chose for himself a whole people, and he revealed himself among all men. But all these undertakings did not yet lead to the goal. The Logos himself was obliged to appear and 367lead men back. But by reason of the diverse nature of the spirits, and especially of men, the redeeming work of the Logos that appeared could not fail to be a complicated one. In the case of some he had really to show them the victory over the demons and sin, a view which beyond dispute is derived from that of Valentinus. He had, as the “Godman,” to make a sacrifice which represented the expiation of sin, he had to pay a ransom which put an end to the devil’s sovereignty over men’s souls, and in short he had to bring a redemption visible and intelligible to all.790790With regard to this point we find the same explanation in Origen as in Irenæus and Tertullian, and also among the Valentinians, in so far as the latter describe the redemption necessary for the Psychici. Only, in this instance also, everything is more copious in his case, because he availed himself of the Holy Scriptures still more than these did, and because he left out no popular conception that seemed to have any moral value. Accordingly he propounded views as to the value of salvation and as to the significance of Christ’s death on the cross, with a variety and detail rivalled by no theologian before him. He was, as Bigg (p. 209 ff.) has rightly noticed, the first Church theologian after Paul’s time that gave a detailed theology of sacrifices. We may mention here the most important of his views. (1) The death on the cross along with the resurrection is to be considered as a real, recognisable victory over the demons, inasmuch as Christ (Col. II. 14) exposed the weakness of his enemies (a very frequent aspect of the matter). (2) The death on the cross is to be considered as an expiation offered to God. Here Origen argued that all sins require expiation, and, conversely, that all innocent blood has a greater or less importance according to the value of him who gives up his life. (3) In accordance with this the death of Christ has also a vicarious signification (see with regard to both these conceptions the treatise Exhort. ad martyr., as well as c. Cels. VIII. 17: I. 31; in Rom. t. III. 7, 8, Lomm. VI.; pp. 196-216 etc.). (4) The death of Christ is to be considered as a ransom paid to the devil. This view must have been widely diffused in Origen’s time; it readily suggested itself to the popular idea and was further supported by Marcionite theses. It was also accepted by Origen who united it with the notion of a deception practised on the devil, a conception first found among the Basilidians. By his successful temptation the devil acquired a right over men. This right cannot be destroyed, but only bought off. God offers the devil Christ’s soul in exchange for the souls of men. This proposal of exchange was, however, insincere, as God knew that the devil could not keep hold of Christ’s soul, because a sinless soul could not but cause him torture. The devil agreed to the bargain and was duped. Christ did not fall into the power of death and the devil, but overcame both. This theory, which Origen propounded in somewhat different fashion in different places (see Exhort. ad martyr. 12; in Matth. t. XVI. 8, Lomm. IV., p. 27; t. XII. 28, Lomm. III., p. 175; t. XIII. 8, 9, Lomm. III., pp. 224-229; in Rom. II. 13, Lomm. VI., p. 139 sq. etc.), shows in a specially clear way the conservative method of this theologian, who would not positively abandon any idea. No doubt it shows at the same time how uncertain Origen was as to the applicability of popular conceptions when he was dealing with the sphere of the Psychici. We must here remember the ancient idea that we are not bound to sincerity towards our enemies. (5) Christ, the God who became flesh, is to be considered as high priest and mediator between God and man (see de Orat. 10, 15). All the above-mentioned conceptions of Christ’s work were, moreover, worked out by Origen in such a way that his humanity and divinity are necessary inferences from them. In this case also he is characterised by the same mode of thought as Irenæus. Finally, let us remember that Origen adhered as strongly as ever to the proof from prophecy, and that he also, in not a few instances, regarded the phrase, “it is written”, as a sufficient court of appeal (see, for example, c. Cels. II. 37). Yet, on the other hand, behind all this he has a method of viewing things which considerably weakens the significance of miracles and prophecies. In general it must be said that Origen helped to drag into the Church a great many ancient (heathen) ideas about expiation and redemption, inasmuch as he everywhere found some Bible passage or other with which he associated them. While he rejected polytheism and gave little countenance to people who declared: εὐσεβέστεροί ἐσμεν καὶ Θεὸν καὶ τὰ ἄγάλματα σέβοντες (Clemens Rom., Hom. XI. 12), he had for all that a principal share in introducing the apparatus of polytheism into the Church (see also the way in which he strengthened angel and hero worship) To the rest, however, as divine teacher and hierophant 368he had to reveal the depths of knowledge, and to impart in this very process a new principle of life, so that they might now partake of his life and themselves become divine through being interwoven with the divine essence. Here, as in the former case, restoration to fellowship with God is the goal; but, as in the lower stage, this restoration is effected through faith and sure conviction of the reality of a historical fact — namely, the redeeming death of Christ, — so, in the higher stage, it is accomplished through knowledge and love, which, soaring upward beyond the Crucified One, grasp the eternal essence of the Logos, revealed to us through his teaching in the eternal Gospel.791791See above, p. 342, note 1, on the idea that Christ, the Crucified One, is of no importance to the perfect. Only the teacher is of account in this case. To Clement and Origen, however, teacher and mystagogue are as closely connected as they are to most Gnostics. Christianity is μάθησις and μυσταγωγία, and it is the one because it is the other. But in all stages Christianity has ultimately the same object, namely, to effect a reconciliation with God, and deify man. See c. Cels. III. 28: Ἀλλὰ γὰρ καὶ τὴν καταβᾶσαν εἰς ἀνθρωπίνην φύσιν καὶ εἰς ἀνθρωπίνας περιστάσεις δύναμιν, καὶ ἔναλαβοῦσαν ψυχὴν καὶ σ𗾆μα ἀνθρῶπινον, ἑώρων ἐκ τοῦ πιστεόεσθαι μετὰ τῶν θειοτέρων συμβαλλομένην εἰς σωτηρίαν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν· ὁρῶσιν, ἀπ᾽ ἐκείνου ἤρξατο θεία καὶ ἀνθρωπίνη συνυφαίνεσθαι φύσις· ἴν᾽ ἡ ἀνθρωπίνη τῇ πρὸς τὸ θειότερον κοινωνίᾳ γένηται θεία οὐκ ἐν μόνῳ τῷ Ἰησοῦ, ἀλλὰ καὶ πᾶσι τοῖς μετὰ τοõ πιστεύειν ἀναλαμβάνουσι βίον, ὅν Ἰησοῦς ἐδίδαξενα. What the Gnostics merely represented as a more or 369less valuable appearance — namely, the historical work of Christ — was to Origen no appearance but truth. But he did not view it as the truth, and in this he agrees with the Gnostics, but as a truth, beyond which lies a higher. That historical work of Christ was a reality; it is also indispensable for men of more limited endowments, and not a matter of indifference to the perfect; but the latter no longer require it for their personal life. Here also Origen again contrived to reconcile contradictions and thus acknowledged, outdid, reconciled, and united both the theses of the Gnostics and those of orthodox Christians. The object and goal of redemption are the same for all, namely, the restoration of the created spirit to God and participation in the divine life. In so far as history is a struggle between spirits and demons, the death of Christ on the cross is the turning-point of history, and its effects extend even into heaven and hell.792792From this also we can very clearly understand Origen’s aversion to the early Christian eschatology. In his view the demons are already overcome by the work of Christ. We need only point out that this conception must have exercised a important influence on his frame of mind and on politics.
On the basis of this conception of redemption Origen developed his idea of Christ. Inasmuch as he recognised Christ as the Redeemer, this Christ, the God-man, could not but be as many-sided as redemption is. Only through that masterly art of reconciling contradictions, and by the aid of that fantastic idea which conceives one real being as dwelling in another, could there be any apparent success in the attempt to depict a homogeneous person who in truth is no longer a person, but the symbol of the various redemptions. That such an acute thinker, however, did not shrink from the monstrosity his speculation produced is ultimately to be accounted for by the fact that this very speculation afforded him the means of nullifying all the utterances about Christ and falling back on the idea of the divine teacher as being the highest one. The whole “humanity” of the Redeemer together with its history finally disappears from the eyes of the perfect one. What remains is the principle, the divine Reason, which became known and recognisable through Christ. The perfect one, and this remark also applies to Clement’s perfect Gnostic, thus knows no “Christology”, but only an indwelling of the 370Logos in Jesus Christ, with which the indwellings of this same Logos in men began. To the Gnostic the question of the divinity of Christ is of as little importance as that of the humanity. The former is no question, because speculation, starting above and proceeding downwards, is already acquainted with the Logos and knows that he has become completely comprehensible in Christ; the latter is no question, because the humanity is a matter of indifference, being the form in which the Logos made himself recognisable. But to the Christian who is not yet perfect the divinity as well as the humanity of Christ is a problem, and it is the duty of the perfect one to solve and explain it, and to guard this solution against errors on all sides. To Origen, however, the errors are already Gnostic Docetism on the one hand, and the “Ebionite” view on the other.793793Clement still advocated docetic views without reservation. Photius (Biblioth. 109) reproached him with these (μὴ σαρκωθῆναι τὸν λόγον ἀλλὰ δόξαι), and they may be proved from the Adumbrat, p. 87 (ed Zahn): “fertur in traditionibus — namely, in the Acta of Lucius — quoniam Iohannes ipsum corpus (Christi), quod erat extrinsecus, tangens manum suam in profunda misisse et duritiam carnis nullo modo reluctatam esse, sed locum manui præbuisse discipuli,” and likewise from Strom. VI. 9. 71 and III. 7. 59. Clement’s repudiation’ of the Docetists in VII. 17. 108 does not affect the case, and the fact that he here and there plainly called Jesus a man, and spoke of his flesh (Pæd. II. 2. 32: Protrept. X. 110) matters just as little. This teacher simply continued to follow the old undisguised Docetism which only admitted the apparent reality of Christ’s body. Clement expressly declared that Jesus knew neither pain, nor sorrow, nor emotions, and only took food in order to refute the Docetists (Strom. VI. 9. 71). As compared with this, Docetism in Origen’s case appears throughout in a weakened form; see Bigg, p. 191. His doctrine was accordingly as follows: As a pure unchangeable spirit, the Logos could not unite with matter, because this as μὴ ὄν would have depotentiated him. A medium was required. The Logos did not unite with the body, but with a soul, and only through the soul with the body. This soul was a pure one; it was a created spirit that had never fallen from God, but always remained in faithful obedience to him, and that had chosen to become a soul in order to serve the purposes of redemption. This soul then was always devoted to the Logos from the first and had never renounced fellowship with him. It was selected by the Logos for the purpose of incarnation and that because of its moral dignity. The Logos became united with it in the closest way; but this 371connection, though it is to be viewed as a mysteriously real union, continues to remain perfect only because of the unceasing effort of will by which the soul clings to the Logos. Thus, then, no intermixture has taken place. On the contrary the Logos preserves his impassibility, and it is only the soul that hungers and thirsts, struggles and suffers. In this, too, it appears as a real human soul, and in the same way the body is sinless and unpolluted, as being derived from a virgin; but yet it is a human one. This humanity of the body, however, does not exclude its capacity of assuming all possible qualities the Logos wishes to give it; for matter of itself possesses no qualities. The Logos was able at any moment to give his body the form it required, in order to make the proper impression on the various sorts of men. Moreover, he was not enclosed in the soul and body of Christ; on the contrary he acted everywhere as before and united himself, as formerly, with all the souls that opened themselves to him. But with none did the union become so close as with the soul, and consequently also with the body of Jesus. During his earthly life the Logos glorified and deified his soul by degrees and the latter acted in the same way on his body. Origen contrived to arrange the different functions and predicates of the incarnate Logos in such a way that they formed a series of stages which the believer becomes successively acquainted with as he advances in knowledge. But everything is most closely united together in Christ. This union (κοινωνία, ἕνωσις, ἀνακράσις) was so intimate that Holy Writ has named the created man, Jesus, the Son of God; and on the other hand has called the Son of God the Son of Man. After the resurrection and ascension the whole man Jesus appears transformed into a spirit, is completely received into the Godhead, and is thus identical with the Logos.794794See the full exposition in Thomasius, Origenes, p. 203 ff. The principal passages referring to the soul of Jesus are de princip. II. 6: IV. 31; c. Cels. II. 9. 20-25. Socrates (H. E. III. 7) says that the conviction as to Jesus having a human soul was founded on a μυστικὴ παράδοσις of the Church, and was not first broached by Origen. The special problem of conceiving Christ as a real θεάνθρωπος in contradistinction to all the men who only possess the presence of the Logos within them in proportion to their merits, was precisely formulated by Origen on many occasions. See περὶ ἀρχῶν IV. 29 sq. The full divine nature existed in Christ and yet, as before, the Logos operate! wherever he wished (l. c., 30): “non ita sentiendum est, quod omnis divinitatis eius maiestas intra brevissimi corporis claustra conclusa est, ita ut omne verbum dei et sapientia eius ac substantialis veritas ac vita vel a patre divulsa sit vel intra corporis eius coercita et conscripta brevitatem nec usquam præterea putetur operata; sed inter utrumque cauta pietatis debet esse confessio, ut neque aliquid divinitatis in Christo defuisse credatur et nulla penitus a paterna substantia, quæ ubique est, facta putetur esse divisio.” On the perfect ethical union of Jesus’ soul with the Logos see περὶ ἀρχῶν II. 6. 3: “anima Iesu ab initio creaturæ et deinceps inseparabiliter ei atque indissociabiliter inhærens et tota totum recipiens atque in eius lucem splendoremque ipsa cedens facta est cum ipso principaliter unus spiritus;” II. 6. 5: “anima Christi ita elegit diligere iustitiam, ut pro immensitate dilectionis inconvertibiliter ei atque inseparabiliter inhæreret, ita ut propositi firmitas et affectus immensitas et dilectionis inexstinguibilis calor omnem sensum conversionis atque immutationis abscinderet, et quod in arbitrio erat positum, longi usus affectu iam versum sit in naturam.” The sinlessness of this soul thus became transformed from a fact into a necessity, and the real God-man arose, in whom divinity and humanity are no longer separated. The latter lies in the former as iron in the fire II. 6. 6. As the metal capax est frigoris et caloris so the soul is capable of deification. “Omne quod agit, quod sentit, quod intelligit, deus est,” “nec convertibilis aut mutabilis dici potest” (l.c.). “Dilectionis merito anima Christi cum verbo dei Christus efficitur.” (II. 6. 4). Τίς μᾶλλον τῆς Ἰησοῦ ψυχῆς ἢ κἂν παραπλησίως κακόλληται τῷ κυρίῳ; ὕπερ εἰ οὕτως ἔχει οὐκ εἰσὶ δύο ἡ ψυχὴ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ πρὸς τὸν πάσης κτίσεως πρωτότοκον Θεὸν λόγον (c. Cels. VI. 47). The metaphysical foundation of the union is set forth in περὶ ἀρχῶν II. 6. 2: “Substantia animæ inter deum carnemque mediante — non enim possibile erat dei naturam corpori sine mediatore miscere — nascitur deus homo, illa substantia media exsistente, cui utique colitra naturam non erat corpus assumere. Sed neque rursus anima illa, utpote substantia rationabilis, contra naturam habuit, capere deum.” Even during his historical life the body of Christ was ever more and more glorified, acquired therefore wonderful powers, and appeared differently to men according to their several capacities (that is a Valentinian idea, see Exc. ex Theod.7); cf. c. Cels. I. 32-38: II. 23, 64: IV. 15 sq.: V. 8, 9, 23. All this is summarised in III. 41: “Ον μὲν νομίζομαν καὶ πεπείσμεθα ἀρχῆθεν εἶναι Θεοῦ καὶ υἱὸν Θεοῦ, οὗτος ὁ αὐτολόγος ἐστὶ καὶ ἡ αὐτοσοφία καὶ ἡ αὐτοαλήθεια· τὸ δὲ θνητὸν αὐτοῦ σῶμα καὶ τὴν ἀνθρωπίνην ἐν αὐῷ ψυχὴν τῇ πρὸς ἐκεῖνον οὐ μόνον κοινωνίᾳ, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἑνώσει καὶ ἀνακράσει, τὰ μέγιστά φαμεν προσειληφέναι καὶ τῆς ἐκείνου θεότητος κακοινωνηκότα εἰς Θεὸν μεταβεβηκέναι Origen then continues and appeals to the philosophical doctrine that matter has no qualities and can assume all the qualities which the Creator wishes to give it. Then follows the conclusion: εἰ ὑγιῆ τὰ τοιαῦτα, τί θαυμαστόν, τὴν ποίοτητα τοῦ θνητοῦ κατὰ τὸν Ἰησοῦν σώματος προνοίᾳ Θεοῦ βουληθέντος μεταβαλεῖν εἰς αιθέριον καὶ θείαν ποιότητα; The man is now the same as the Logos. See in Joh. XXXII. 17, Lomm. II., p. 461 sq; Hom. in Jerem. XV. 6, Lomm. XV., p. 288: εἰ καὶ ἦν ἄνθρωπος, ἀλλὰ νῦν οὐ͐δαμῶς ἐστὶν ἄνθρωπος. 372In this conception one may be tempted to point out all possible “heresies”: — the conception of Jesus as a heavenly man — but all men are heavenly; — the Adoptianist (“Ebionite”) Christology — but the Logos as a person stands behind it; — the conception 373of two Logoi, a personal and an impersonal; the Gnostic separation of Jesus and Christ; and Docetism. As a matter of fact Origen united all these ideas, but modified the whole of them in such a way that they no longer seem, and to some extent are not, what they turn out to be when subjected to the slightest logical analysis. This structure is so constituted that not a stone of it admits of being a hair’s-breadth broader or narrower. There is only one conception that has been absolutely unemployed by Origen, that is, the modalistic view. Origen is the great opponent of Sabellianism, a theory which in its simplicity frequently elicited from him words of pity; otherwise he made use of all the ideas about Christ that had been formed in the course of two hundred years. This becomes more and more manifest the more we penetrate into the details of this Christology. We cannot, however, attribute to Origen a doctrine of two natures, but rather the notion of two subjects that become gradually amalgamated with each other, although the expression “two natures” is not quite foreign to Origen.795795In c. Cels. III. 28, Origen spoke of an intermingling of the divine and human natures, commencing in Christ (see page 368, note 1). See I. 66 fin.; IV. 15, where any ἀλλάττεσθαι καὶ μεταπλάττεσθαι of the Logos is decidedly rejected; for the Logos does not suffer at all. In Origen’s case we may speak of a communicatio ideomatum (see p. 190 f.). The Logos retains his human nature eternally,796796In opposition to Redepenning. but only in the same sense in which we preserve our nature after the resurrection.
The significance which this Christological attempt possessed for its time consists first in its complexity, secondly in the energetic endeavour to give an adequate conception of Christ’s humanity, that is, of the moral freedom pertaining to him as a creature. This effort was indeed obliged to content itself with a meagre result: but we are only justified in measuring Origen’s Christology by that of the Valentinians and Basilidians, that is, by the scientific one that had preceded it. The most important advance lies in the fact that Origen set forth a scientific Christology in which he was able to find so much scope for the humanity of Christ. Whilst within the framework of the scientific Christologies this humanity had hitherto been conceived as something 374indifferent or merely apparent, Origen made the first attempt to incorporate it with the various speculations without prejudice to the Logos, God in nature and person. No Greek philosopher probably heeded what Irenæus set forth respecting Christ as the second Adam, the recapitulatur generis humani; whereas Origen’s speculation could not be overlooked. In this case the Gnosis really adopted the idea of the incarnation, and at the same time tried to demonstrate the conception of the Godman from the notions of unity of will and love. In the treatise against Celsus, moreover, Origen went the reverse way to work and undertook to show, and this not merely by help of the proof from prophecy, that the predicate deity applied to the historical Christ.797797This idea is found in many passages, especial in Book III., c. 22-43, where Origen, in opposition to the fables about deification, sought to prove that Christ is divine because he realised the aim of founding a holy community in humanity. See, besides, the remarkable statement in III. 38 init. But Origen’s conception of Christ’s person as a model (for the Gnostic) and his repudiation of all magical theories of redemption ultimately explain why he did not, like Tertullian, set forth a doctrine of two natures, but sought to show that in Christ’s case a human subject with his will and feelings became completely merged in the Deity. No doubt he can say that the union of the divine and human natures had its beginning in Christ, but here he virtually means that this beginning is continued in the sense of souls imitating the example of Christ. What is called the real redemption supposed to be given in him is certainly mediated in the Psychic through his work, but the person of Christ which cannot be known to any but the perfect man is by no means identified with that real redemption, but appears as a free moral personality, inwardly blended with the Deity, a personality which cannot mechanically transfer the content of its essence, though it can indeed exercise the strongest impression on mind and heart. To Origen the highest value of Christ’s person lies in the fact that the Deity has here condescended to reveal to us the whole fulness of his essence, in the person of a man, as well as in the fact that a man is given to us who shows that the human spirit is capable of becoming entirely God’s. At bottom there is nothing obscure 375and mystical here; the whole process takes place in the will and in the feelings through knowledge.798798A very remarkable distinction between the divine and human element in Christ is found in Clement Pæd. I. 3. 7: πάντα ὀνίνησιν ὁ κύριος καὶ πάντα ὠφελεῖ καὶ ὡς ἄνθρωπος καὶ ὡς Θεός, τὰ μὲν ἁμαρτήματα ὡς Θεὸς ἀφιείς, εἰς δί τὸ μὴ ἐξαμαρτάνειν παιδαγωγῶν ὡς ἄνθρωπος..
This is sufficient to settle the nature of what is called personal attainment of salvation. Freedom precedes and supporting grace follows. As in Christ’s case his human soul gradually united itself with the Logos in proportion as it voluntarily subjected its will to God, so also every man receives grace according to his progress. Though Clement and Origen did not yet recommend actual exercises according to definite rules, their description of the gradations by which the soul rises to God already resembles that of the Neoplatonists, except that they decidedly begin with faith as the first stage. Faith is the first step and is our own work.799799“Fides in nobis; mensura fidei causa accipiendarum gratiarum” is the fundamental idea of Clement and Origen (as of Justin); “voluntas humana præcedit”. In Ezech. hom. I. c. 11: “In tua potestate positum est, ut sis pales vel frumentum”. But all growth in faith must depend on divine help. See Orig. in Matth. series 69, Lomm. IV., p. 372: “Fidem habenti, quæ est ex nobis, dabitur gratia fidei quæ est per spiritum fidei, et abundabit; et quidquid habuerit quis ex naturali creatione, cum exercuerit illud, accipit id ipsum et ex gratia dei, ut abundet et firmior sit in eo ipso quod habet”; in Rom. IV. 5, Lomm. VI., p. 258 sq.; in Rom. IX. 3, Lomm. VII., p. 300 sq. The fundamental idea remains: ὁ Θεὸς ἡμᾶς ἐξ ἡμῶν αὐτῶν βούλεται σώζεσθαι. Then follows the religious contemplation of visible things, and from this the soul advances, as on the steps of a ladder, to the contemplation of the substantiæ rationabiles, the Logos, the knowable essence of God, and the whole fulness of the Deity.800800This is frequent in Clement; see Orig. c. Cels. VII. 46. She retraces her steps upwards along the path she formerly passed over as a fallen spirit. But, when left to her own resources, she herself is everywhere weak and powerless; she requires at every stage the divine grace, that is, enlightenment.801801See Clem., Strom. V. 1. 7: χάριτι σωζόμεθα, οὐκ ἄνευ μέντοι τῶν καλῶν ἔργων. VII. 7. 48: V. 12. 82, 13. 83: εἴτε τὸ ἐν ἡμῖν αὐτεξούσιον εἰς γνῶσιν ἀφικόμενον τἀγαθοῦ σκιρτᾷ τε καὶ πηδᾷ ἁπὲρ τὰ ἐσκαμμένα, πλὴν οὐ χάριτος ἄνευ τῆς ἐξαιρέτου πτεροῦταί τε καὶ ἀνίσταται καὶ ἄνω τῶν ὑπερκειμένων αἴρεται ἡ ψυχή; The amalgamation of freedom and grace. Quis div. salv. 21. Orig. περὶ ἀρχῶν III. 2. 2: In bonis rebus humanum propositum solum per se ipsum imperfectum est ad consummationem boni, adiutorio namque divino ad perfecta quæque perducitur. III. 2. 5, 1. 18; Selecta in Ps. 4, Lomm. XI., p. 450: τὸ τοῦ λογικοῦ ἀγαθεν μικτόν ἐστιν ἐκ τε τῆς προαιρέσεως αὐτοῦ καὶ τῆς συμπνεούσης θείας δυνάμεως τῷ τά άλλιστα προελομένῳ. The support of grace is invariably conceived as enliglitenment; but this enlightenment enables it to act on the whole life. For a more detailed account see Landerer in the Jahrbücher für deutsche Theologie, Vol. II., Part 3, p. 500 ff., and Wörter, Die christliche Lehre von Gnade und Freiheit bis auf Augustin, 1860. Thus a 376union of grace and freedom takes place within the sphere of the latter, till the “contemplative life” is reached, that joyous ascetic contemplativeness, in which the Logos is the friend, associate, and bridegroom of the soul, which now, having become a pure spirit, and being herself deified, clings in love to the Deity.802802This goal was much more clearly described by Clement than by Origen; but it was the latter who, in his commentary on the Song of Solomon, gave currency to the image of the soul as the bride of the Logos. Bigg (p. 188 f.): “Origen, the first pioneer in so many fields of Christian thought, the father in one of his many aspects of the English Latitudinarians, became also the spiritual ancestor of Bernard, the Victorines, and the author of the “De imitatione”, of Tauler and Molinos and Madame de Guyon.” In this view the thought of regeneration in the sense of a fundamental renewal of the Ego has no place;803803See Thomasius, Dogmengeschichte I., p. 467. still baptism is designated the bath of regeneration. Moreover, in connection with the consideration of main Biblical thoughts (God as love, God as the Father, Regeneration, Adoption, etc.) we find in both Clement and Origen passages which, free from the trammels of the system, reproduce and set forth the preaching of the Gospel in a surprisingly appropriate way.804804See e.g., Clem. Quis dives salv. 37 and especially Pædag. I. 6. 25-32; Orig. de orat. 22 sq. — the interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer. This exegesis begins with the words: “It would be worth while to examine more carefully whether the so-called Old Testament anywhere contains a prayer in which God is called Father by anyone; for till now we have found none in spite of all our seeking . . . Constant and unchangeable sonship is first given in the new covenant.” It is evident that in Origen’s view there can be no visible means of grace; but it likewise follows from his whole way of thinking that the symbols attending the enlightening operation of grace are not a matter of indifference to the Christian Gnostic, whilst to the common man they are indispensable.805805See above, p. 339 f. In the same way he brought 377into play the system of numerous mediators and intercessors with God, viz., angels and dead and living saints, and counselled an appeal to them. In this respect he preserved a heathen custom. Moreover, Origen regards Christ as playing an important part in prayer, particularly as mediator and high priest. On prayer to Christ he expressed himself with great reserve.
Origen’s eschatology occupies a middle position between that of Irenæus and the theory of the Valentinian Gnostics, but is more akin to the latter view. Whilst, according to Irenæus, Christ reunites and glorifies all that had been severed, though in such a way that there is still a remnant eternally damned; and, according to Valentinus, Christ separates what is illegitimately united and saves the spirits alone, Origen believes that all spirits will be finally rescued and glorified, each in the form of its individual life, in order to serve a new epoch of the world when sensuous matter disappears of itself. Here he rejects all sensuous eschatological expectations.806806See περὶ ἀρχῶν II. 11. He accepted the formula, “resurrection of the flesh”, only because it was contained in the doctrine of the Church; but, on the strength of 1. Cor. XV. 44, he interpreted it as the rising of a “corpus spiritale”, which will lack all material attributes and even all the members that have sensuous functions, and which will beam with radiant light like the angels and stars.807807See περὶ ἀρχῶν II. 10. 1-3. Origen wrote a treatise on the resurrection, which, however, has not come down to us, because it was very soon accounted heretical. We see from c. Cels. V. 14-24 the difficulties he felt about the Church doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh. Rejecting the doctrine that souls sleep,808808See Eusebius, H. E. VI. 37. Origen assumed that the souls of the departed immediately enter Paradise,809809Orig., Hom. II. in Reg. I., Lomm. XI., p. 317 sq. and that souls not yet purified pass into a state of punishment, a penal fire, which, however, like the whole world, is to be conceived as a place of purification.810810C. Cels. V. 15: VI. 26; in Lc. Hom. XIV., Lomm. V., p. 136: "Ego puto, quod et post resurrectionem ex mortuis indigeamus sacramento eluente nos atque purgante". Clem., Strom. VII. 6. 34: φαμὲν δ᾽ ἡμεῖς ἁγιάζειν τὸ πῦρ, οὐ τὰ κρέα, ἀλλὰ τὰς ἁμαρτωλοὺς ψυχάς, πῦρ οὐ τὸ παμφάγον καὶ βάναυσον, ἀλλὰ τὸ φρόνιμον λέγοντες (cf. Heraclitus and the Stoa), τὸ διικνούμενον διὰ ψυχῆς τῆς διερχομένης τὸ πῦρ. For Origen cf. Bigg, p. 229 ff. There is another and intermediate stage between the punishments in hell and regnum dei. In this way also 378Origen contrived to reconcile his position with the Church doctrines of the judgment and the punishments in hell; but, like Clement, he viewed the purifying fire as a temporary and figurative one; it consists in the torments of conscience.811811See περὶ ἀρχ. II. 10. 4-7; c. Cels. l.c. In the end all the spirits in heaven and earth, nay, even the demons, are purified and brought back to God by the Logos-Christ,812812See περὶ ἀρχ. I. 6. 1-4: III. 6. 1-8; c . Cels. VI. 26. after they have ascended from stage to stage through seven heavens.813813On the seven heavens in Clem. see Strom. V. 11. 77 and other passages. Origen does not mention them, so far as I know. Hence Origen treated this doctrine as an esoteric one: “for the common man it is sufficient to know that the sinner is punished.”814814c. Cels. l.c.
This system overthrew those of the Gnostics, attracted Greek philosophers, and justified ecclesiastical Christianity. If one undertook to subject it to a new process of sublimation from the standpoint given in the “contemplative life”, little else would be left than the unchangeable spirit, the created spirit, and the ethic. But no one is justified in subjecting it to this process.815815We would be more justified in trying this with Clement. The method according to which Origen preserved whatever appeared valuable in the content of tradition is no less significant than his system of ethics and the great principle of viewing everything created in a relative sense. Supposing minds of a radical cast, to have existed at the close of the history of ancient civilisation, what would have been left to us? The fact of a strong and undivided religious interest attaching itself to the traditions of the philosophers and of the two Testaments was the condition — to use Origen’s own language — that enabled a new world of spirits to arise after the old one had finished its course.
During the following century Origen’s theology at first acted in its entirety. But it likewise attained this position of influence, because some important propositions could be detached from 379their original connection and fitted into a new one. It is one of the peculiarities of this ecclesiastical philosophy of religion that the most of its formulæ could be interpreted and employed in utramque partem. The several propositions could be made to serve very different purposes not only by being halved, but also by being grouped. With this the relative unity that distinguishes the system no doubt vanished; but how many are there who strive after unity and completeness in their theory of the world? Above all, however, there was something else that necessarily vanished, as soon as people meddled with the individual propositions, and enlarged or abridged them. We mean the frame of mind which produced them, that wonderful unity between the relative view of things and the absolute estimate of the highest good attainable by the free spirit that is certain of its God. But a time came, nay, had already come, when a sense of proportion and relation was no longer to be found.
In the East the history of dogma and of the Church during the succeeding centuries is the history of Origen’s philosophy. Arians and orthodox, critics and mystics, priests who overcame the world and monks who shunned it but were eager for knowledge816816See Bornemann, In investiganda monachatus origine quibus de causis ratio habenda sit Origenis. Gottingæ 1885. could appeal to this system and did not fail to do so. But, in the main problem that Origen set for the Church in this religious philosophy of his, we find a recurrence of that propounded by the so-called Gnosticism two generations earlier. He solved it by producing a system which reconciled the faith of the Church with Greek philosophy; and he dealt Gnosticism its death-blow. This solution, however, was by no means intended as the doctrine of the Church, since indeed it was rather based on the distinction between Church belief and theology, and consequently on the distinction between the common man and the theologian. But such a distinction was not permanently tenable in a Church that had to preserve its strength by the unity and finality of a revealed faith, and no longer tolerated fresh changes in the interpretation of its possession. Hence a further compromise was necessary. The Greek philosophy, or speculation, did not attain real and permanent recognition within 380the Church till a new accommodation, capable of being accounted both Pistis and Gnosis, was found between what Origen looked on as Church belief and what he regarded as Gnosis. In the endeavours of Irenæus, Tertullian, and Hippolytus were already found hesitating, nay, we may almost say naïve, attempts at such an accommodation; but ecclesiastical traditionalism was unable to attain complete clearness as to its own position till it was confronted with a philosophy of religion that was no longer heathen or Gnostic, but had an ecclesiastical colouring.
But, with this prospect, we have already crossed the border of the third century. At its beginning there were but few theologians in Christendom who were acquainted with speculation, even in its fragmentary form. In the course of the century it became a recognised part of the orthodox faith, in so far as the Logos doctrine triumphed in the Church. This development is the most important that took place in the third century; for it denoted the definite transformation of the rule of faith into the compendium of a Greek philosophical system, and it is the parallel of a contemporaneous transformation of the Church into a holy commonwealth (see above, chapter 3).
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