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ANF07. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily
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GENERAL NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

1. The whole subject of the Apocalypse is so treated,23182318     By William Lee, D.D., archdeacon of Dublin.   in the Speaker's Commentary, as to elucidate many questions suggested by the primitive commentators of this series, and to furnish the latest judgments of critics on the subject. It is so immense a matter, however, as to render annotations on patristic specialties impossible in a work like this. Every reader must feel how apposite is the sententious saying of Augustine: “Apocalypsis Joannis tot sacramenta quot verba.”  

2. The seven spirits, p. 344, ver. 4. That is, the one Spirit in His seven-fold gifts. He now fulfills the promise of Christ, “He shall show you things to come.” Without this complement the Church would lack assurance that her great Head upon the throne has ordered and limited the whole course of this world for her conflicts and her final triumph by the Spirit's power. St. John’s rapture was the Spirit’s work: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.”23192319     The Lord’s day is here the Paschal feast, “the Great Sunday,” probably. See Eichhorn in Rosenmüller, Scholia, tom. v. p. 626.   The whole Apocalypse is an Easter sermon (on the text, i. 18) and an Easter song (vers. 9-14, and passim). It supplements the appearances of the risen Redeemer for identification, by a manifestation, which is the Church’s assurance of His glorification, and of His perpetual work in her and for her, as well as of His presence with her, by the Spirit.  

3. Seven golden candlesticks, p. 344, ver. 12. The symbol of the seven-fold Spirit in the Church. On the Arch of Titus this symbol had just been set up as proof of its removal from the Mosaic Church. It is now found to be transferred to the “seven churches,” a symbol of the Catholic Church23202320     P. 345, sec. 16.   or the “communion of saints.” The threatening of removal from particular churches derives force from the (then) recent removal out of Jerusalem.  

4. All the Saints shall assemble, p. 345, ver. 15. Our author clings to the purer Chiliasm of Commodian, to which Augustine had now given the death-blow by his famous retraction.23212321     Civ. Dei, xx. cap. 7, p. 667, ed. Migne.    

5. New forms of prophesying, p. 347, ver.17. A retrospective glance at Montanism, and a caveat against the mistakes of Tertullian.  

6. I will vomit thee, p. 347, ver. 17. Bishop Wordsworth suggests, that, if the canon of Scripture compiled by the church of Laodicea lacks the Apocalypse, its terrible reproof of that church may have influenced its unwillingness to accept it. Accordingly she was vomited, and perished in the Saracen invasion.  

7. That is the Spirit, p. 348, ver. 1. Christ’s divine nature as distinguished from his flesh.23222322     See vol. iii. note 5, pp. 624, 630.   “In a word,” says Professor Milligan,23232323     Ut supra, p. 249, note 15.  πνευμα is a short expression for our Lord’s resurrection state.” A truth, but based on the distinction between the flesh of Christ and His spiritual nature as the Word. See Tertullian,23242324     See Kaye’s Tertullian, p. 530, for a brief comment on this and its supposed scriptural base.   vol. iii. p. 609, note 5, and p. 610, note 5: also 2 Cor. iii. 17-18.  

8. The genealogy of Mary, p. 348, vers. 7-10. It is remarkable that St. Matthew should be credited with this, and not St. Luke, who in the sixteenth century23252325     Virtually in the fifteenth, as Annius published his theory in 1502, and wrote, no doubt, before that century began. Vol. vi. p. 139.   began to be regarded as giving the ancestry of Mary. See Africanus23262326     Vol. vi. p. 126, this series.   on the subject, and my elucidation,23272327     Vol. vi. p. 139.   in which I followed Wordsworth. Though I had already prepared the pages of Victorinus for the press, I failed to note at that time this modification of the general truth, that antiquity regards both genealogies as those of Joseph.  

9. Dan himself, p. 349, ver. 8. Here is a touch of Chiliasm again, i.e., of the better sort. Even Dan is promised a restoration: and the use of Gen. xlix. 16 for that intent is noteworthy, as compared with Rev. vii. 5-8, where Dan is omitted. But Hippolytus takes a very different view of the same text.23282328     Vol. v. p. 207, this series.    

10. Hades, p. 351. “A region withdrawn from punishment and fires,” says our author. He identifies it with paradise, and shows that in his day the Latin churches knew of no purgatorial fires. He knows of nothing but a place for those “who die in the Lord,” and a place for the wicked. It is perpetually overlooked, that, in the fiction of “purgatory,” it is only the righteous who are entitled to it: none but those dying in full communion with the Church having any portion in it, or any title to Masses for their repose. Of all this our author had no conception.23292329     Compare vol. iii. p. 428, Elucidation VIII.    

11. To take the book and eat it up, p. 353, ver. 10. We must not fail to note with this the passage Jer. xv. 16, where the Revised Version pedantically sacrifices the Septuagint reading, ὁ λόγος σου, (which is followed by the Vulgate), distinguishing “sermones tui” from “Verbum tuum.” The Seventy have testified to this distinction in their day, and their copies of the Hebrew must have supported it. So understood, what riches in the text of Jeremiah!  

12. Thessalonians, p. 354, ver. 7. On which much that is suggestive is said by St. Augustine, though he confesses, concerning what St. Paul had said to the Thessalonians, “Ego prorsus quid dixerit me fateor ignorare.” See De Civ. Dei, lib. xx. cap. 19, p. 685, ed. Migne.  

13. The woman, p. 355, ver. 1. Compare vol. vi. p. 337, note 4, and Elucidation II. p. 355. It is quite important to observe the voice of antiquity on a matter which, in our own times, has been made a stumbling-block to souls by a wanton, personal act of the Bishop of Rome and his dogma of the “Immaculate Conception.”  

14. The hope of those that sleep, p. 355, ver. 1. To make our author consistent with himself (see note 10, supra), we should read thus: “But they have in their darkness a light (some think) such as the moon.” Here, however, it seems to me, he is giving his mind to “the Church of Fathers and Prophets” exclusively, in which its “saints and apostles” were for a time waiting and looking for the Man-child. Even that Church of the Hebrews had, in Hades, light “like that of the moon,” where they reposed in Abraham’s bosom; but Christ removed them into a fairer region, i.e., Paradise, when He illuminated Hades, and then became “the first-fruits of them that slept.” Such seems to be the sense.  

15. In a certain Greek codex, p. 357, ver. 18. Can αντεμος here be a reference to Anthemius, of the kindred of Julian (d. a.d. 472)? His history, mixed up with that of Ricimer, connects with Genseric, who died a.d. 477.  

16. Sea of the north, p. 358, ver. 11. The Mediterranean, near Mount Carmel, is “the sea of Phœnice,” I suppose: but how the Arabian Gulf can be called the sea of the north, I do not comprehend. As Routh says, the manuscripts must have been much corrupted.  

17. Two resurrections, p. 359, ver. 5. Here our author, who is supposed to be the contemporary of St. Augustine, accepts his final judgment.23302330     See p. 360, note 2.   But Victorinus was a Chiliast of the better sort, according to St. Jerome. This confirms the corruption of the mss. Indeed, if the Victorinus mentioned by Jerome be the same as our author, the mention of Genseric proves the subsequent interpolation of his works.  

18. It is evident that the fragment which is here preserved, if, indeed, it be the work of Caius Marius Victorinus, surnamed Afer, is full of the corrections of some pious disciple of St. Augustine who lived much later. The reader must consult Lardner,23312331     Credib., vol. iv. p. 254.   and compare Routh, whose notes on this treatise are indeed few. He does not think the reference to abbots23322332     P. 344, note 6, supra.   of any consequence in determining its age, because he finds albatorum elsewhere sustained as the true reading, i.e., those “made white in the blood of the Lamb.” But the great probability that there were two authors of the name living in different ages seems more than suspected by the learned. Dupin, who calls him Marius without the Caius (changed to Fabius by the English translator), leaves one yet more in a mist as to the identity of our author with the one he writes about.  


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