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Chapter XIII.—The Author’s Defence of Origen.870870    The views of Origen met with opposition from the very outset. During his own lifetime he was condemned at Alexandria, and after his death repeatedly until 541 a.d., and perhaps also by the fifth general council held at Constantinople in 553. For a full account of the Origenistic Controversy, see Smith and Wace, Dict. of Christ. Biog. and Antiq., art. Origenistic Controversies.

But since carping detractors have imposed upon many persons and have succeeded in deterring them from reading Origen, as though he were a blasphemous writer, I deem it not unseasonable to make a few observations respecting him. Worthless characters, and such as are destitute of ability to attain eminence themselves, often seek to get into notice by decrying those who excel them. And first Methodius, bishop of a city in Lycia named Olympus, labored under this malady; next Eustathius, who for a short time presided over the church at Antioch; after him Apollinaris; and lastly Theophilus. This quaternion of revilers has traduced Origen, but not on the same grounds, one having found one cause of accusation against him, and another another; and thus each has demonstrated that what he has taken no objection to, he has fully accepted. For since one has attacked one opinion in particular, and another has found fault with another, it is evident that each has admitted as true what he has not assailed, giving a tacit approbation to what he has not attacked. Methodius indeed, when he had in various places railed against Origen, afterwards as if retracting all he had previously said, expresses his admiration of the man, in a dialogue which he entitled Xenon.871871    ‘The house of entertainment for strangers.’ Methodius’ works were in the literary form of the dialogue. Cf. his Convivum decem Virginum in Migne’s Patrologia Græca, Vol. XVIII. But I affirm that from the censure of these men, greater commendation accrues to Origen. For those who have sought out whatever they deemed worthy of reprobation in him, and yet have never charged him with holding unsound views respecting the holy Trinity, are in this way most distinctly shown to bear witness to his orthodox piety: and by not reproaching him on this point, they commend him by their own testimony. But Athanasius the defender 148of the doctrine of consubstantiality, in his Discourses against the Arians872872    Athan. de Decr. Nic. 27. continually cites this author as a witness of his own faith, interweaving his words with his own, and saying, ‘The most admirable and assiduous Origen,’ says he, ‘by his own testimony confirms our doctrine concerning the Son of God, affirming him to be co-eternal with the Father.’ Those therefore who load Origen with opprobrium, overlook the fact that their maledictions fall at the same time on Athanasius, the eulogist of Origen. So much will be enough for the vindication of Origen; we shall now return to the course of our history.


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