Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.: Chapter 30(a)
30 (a). But, I undertook to shew something of more importance still in what follows. After he had said that we had hoped in Christ before, and that in the time before the foundation of the world and before we were born in our bodies, we had been blessed and chosen in heaven, he again introduces that other of his, and says: “Another, who does not admit this doctrine that we had a previous existence and had hope in Christ before we lived in this body, would have us understand the matter in his own way.” In this passage this other, whoever he may be, has put forth all his ill savour. Let him tell us then whom he means by this other who does not admit this opinion that before we lived in this body we both existed and hoped in Christ—for which he requires us to condemn Origen. Whom does he wish us to understand by this other? Is it some one opposed to himself? What do you say, great master? You are pressed by that two-horned dilemma of which you are so fond of speaking to your disciples. For, if you say that by this other who does not admit that souls existed before they lived in the body you mean yourself, you have betrayed p. 452 the secret which in the previous passages was concealed. It is now found out that you by your own confession are that other who have fashioned all the doctrines of which you now demand the condemnation. But if we are not to believe you to be the other of the former passage, so that the doctrines which you now impugn may not be ascribed to you, we have no right to consider you in this case to be the other who does not admit that our souls existed before we lived in bodies. Choose either side you like as the ground of your acquittal. This other, whom you so frequently bring in, are we to understand by him yourself or some one else? Do you wish that he should be thought by us to be a catholic or a heretic? Is he to be acquitted or condemned? If that other of yours is a catholic, the man who said in the former passage that before this visible world our souls had their abode among the angels and the other heavenly powers in the heavenly places in Jerusalem which is above, and that they there contracted those dispositions which caused the diversities of their birth into the world and of the other conditions to which they are now subject, then these must be esteemed to be catholic doctrines, and we know that it is an impiety to condemn what is catholic. But if you call this other a heretic, you must also brand as a heretic the other who will not admit that souls existed and hoped in Christ before they were born in the body. Which way can you get out of this dilemma, my master? Whither will you break forth? To what place will you escape? Whichever way you betake yourself, you will stick fast. Not only is there no avenue by which you can withdraw yourself; there is not even the least breathing space left you. Is this all the profit you have gained from Alexanders Commentaries on Aristotle, and Porphyrys Introduction? Is this the result of the training of all those great Philosophers by whom you tell us you were educated, with all their learning, Greek and Latin, and Jewish into the bargain? Have they ended by bringing you into these inextricable straits, in which you are so pitifully confined that the very Alps could give you no refuge?
Next: Chapter 31(a)
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