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fest advantage over me, in answer to my saying that, if the Jewish Christians were universally Ebionites in the time of Origen, the probability is that they were very generally so in the time of the apostles; you say,
" Whence should this probability arise? From this general maxim it seems that
whole bodies of men do not soon change their opinions.'* You are indeed, Sir, the very last person who might have been expected to form conclusions upon an historical question from mere theory, in defiance of the experience of mankind; in defiance of the experience of our own country and our own times. How long is it since the whole body of Dissenters in this kingdom, (the single sect of the Quakers excepted,) took their standard of orthodoxy from the opinions of Calvin ? Where shall we now find a Dissenter, except perhaps among the dregs of Methodism, who would not think it an affront to be taken for a Calvinist ?”+
Indeed, Sir, you are peculiarly unfortunate with respect to this example, and ought to have been better informed before you had delivered your opinion of a matter of fact, in the present state of things, and at home, with so much confidence. The fact you appeal to is notoriously the very reverse of what you represent it to be, and is one among many strong proofs of the truth of my general maxim.
It is so far from being true, that there are few Dissenters who would not think it an affront to be taken for Calvinists, that the greatest body of them would be exceedingly offended if they were called by any other name. This is notorious. Your « learned, good and able ally" Mr. Badcock, of whom you boast so much, I has served two congregations of Dissenters, both professedly Calvinistical, and in the highest degree. He himself ranks with that class ; having now, as I am in forined, no communion or connexion with those who are usually called rational Dissenters. I appeal to himself and his present congregation at South Molton, as well as his former at Barnstable, for the truth of the fact.
We Dissenters are much better situated than you are for judging of the truth of my general maxim, viz. that large bodies of men do not soon change their opinions. Notwithstanding the Dissenters have no legal bonds, but are perfectly free to adopt whatever opinions they please, yet, as they were universally Calvinists at the time of the Refor
• See supra, p. 59.
+ Letters, p. 62. (P.) Tracts, p. 160. 1 Letters, pp. 77, 78. (P.) Tracts, pp. 178, 180, 223, 246.
mation, they are very generally so still. The ministers, as might be expected, are the most enlightened, and have introduced some reformation among the common people; but a majority of the ministers are, I believe, still Calvinists.
I should have thought that no person at all acquainted with history could have entertained a doubt with respect to the general maxim that you refer to, viz. that great bodies of men do not soon change their opinions. Did it not appear when our Saviour and the apostles preached the gospel with all the advantage of miracles; and did it not appear in the christianizing of the Gentile world ? I need not inform you how long the ignorant country people in particular continued Pagans, a word borrowed from their being chiefly the inhabitants of villages. Does not the history both of the corruption and of the reformation of Christianity prove the same thing? How many yet believe the doctrine of Transubstantiation? And, what I think as much a case in point, how many yet believe the doctrine of the Trinity! Had it not been for the force of this maxim, we should not have found an Archdeacon of St. Alban's employing the moderate share of learning that he is possessed of in the defence of a tenet so palpably absurd.
You seem, Sir, to speak with contempt of the doctrines of Calvin. I must, however, remind you, that the doctrinal articles of your church are Calvinistic.* If you, therefore, be a true member of the Church of England, believing ex animo, and in their plain obvious sense, all the thirty-nine articles, you yourself believe the doctrines of original sin, predestination, and every other tenet that is generally known by the name of Calvinistic. I do not tax you, as you repeatedly do me, with insincerity. I presume you really do believe the doctrines that are termed Calvinistic, and, therefore, I think you ought to have treated them with more respect. You ought also to have spoken with more respect of 'the Methodists. They, as well as you, are professed members of the Church of England, and not Dissenters.
I am, &c.
Burnet acknowledges that “it is not to be denied but that the Article (xvii.) seems to be framed according to St. Austin's doctrine.” Speaking of the Remonstrants he says, “ On the other hand, the Calvinists have less occasion for scruple, since the article does seem more plainly to favour them.-Yet," on " the Remon. strant side,” he alleges, " that the universal extent of the death of Christ seems to be very plainly affirmed in the most solemn part of all the offices of the church," especially “ in the Office of Communion," and in the “ Church-Catechism." Expos. 1720, pp. 165, 166. See “ The Re-establishment of the Church of England by Queen Elizabetli,” in Toplady's “ Historic Proof of the Doctrinal Calvinism of the Church of England," 1774, II. pp. 467-577.
Of the supposed Orthodox Jewish Church at Jerusalem, and
of the Veracity of Origen. Rev. Sir, You speak of a church of Trinitarian Jews, who had abandoned the law of Moses, and resided at Jerusalem, subsequent to the time of Adrian.* Origen, who asserts that all the Jewish Christians of his time conformed to the law of Moses, you say, must have known of this church, and therefore you do not hesitate, after Mosheim, to tax him with asserting a wilful falsehood. Error was often ascribed to this great man by the later fathers, but never before, I believe, was his veracity called in question ; and least of all can it be supposed that he would have dared to assert a notorious untruth in a public controversy. He must have been a fool, as well as the knave you make him, to have ventured upon it. Your treatment of myself, however, gives me the less pain, when I see you not scrupling to fix a similar odium on the character of the respectable Origen. But what, Sjir, would you not have said of me, if I had been reduced to this dilemma in order to maintain my opinion? What an outcry did not you and Mr. Badcock make, when I disputed the evidence of Eusebius, though I could confute him from himself!t And with respect to integrity, the character of Eusebius never stood so high as that of Origen. But you, or rather your author, Mosheim, shall be heard.
“I shall take,” you say, “what you may think a bold step. I shall tax the veracity of your witness—of this Origen. I shall tell you that, whatever may be the general credit of his character, yet in this business the particulars of his deposition are to be little regarded, when he sets out with the allegation of a notorious falsehood. He all eges of the Hebrew Christians in general, that they had ncit renounced the Mosaic law. The assertion served him for an answer to the invective which Celsus had put in the mouth of a Jew against the converted Jews, as deserters of the laws and customs of their ancestors. The answer was not the worse for wanting truth, if bis Heathen antagonist was not sufficiently informed in the true distinctions of Christian sects to detect the falsehood. But in all the time which he spent in Palestine, had Origen never conversed with Hebrew Christians of another sort ? Had he met with no Christians of Hebrew families of the church of Jerusalem ? Was the Mosaic law observed; was it tolerated, in Origen's days, in the church of Jerusalem, when that church was under the government of bishops of the uncircumcision? The fact is, that after the demolition of Jerusalem by Adrian, the majority of the Hebrew Christians, who must have passed for Jews with the Roman magistrates, had they continued to adhere to the Mosaic law, which to this time they had observed more from habit than from any principle of conscience, made no scruple to renounce it; that they might be qualified to partake in the valuable privileges of the Ælian colony, from which Jews were excluded. Having thus divested themselves of the form of Judaism, which to that time they had borne, they removed from Pella and other towns to which they had retired, and settled in great numbers at Ælia. The few who retained a superstitious veneration for their law remained in the North of Galilee, where they were joined perhaps by new fugitives of the same weak character from Palestine. And this was the beginning of the sect of the Nazarenes. But from this time, whatever Origen may pretend, to serve a purpose, the majority of the Hebrew Christians forsook their law, and lived in communion with the Gentile bishops of the new. modelled church of Jerusalem ; for the name was retained, though Jerusalem was no more, and the seat of the bishop was at Ælia. All this I affirm with the less hesitation, being supported by the authority of Mosheim, * from whom, indeed, I first learned to rate the testimony of Origen, in this particular question, at its true value.”+
• Tracts, p. 157. + Pearson makes no difficulty of contradicting Eusebius in this case, an d with. out making any apology for him at all. His opponent, M. Daillé, having ; said if that account be true, he replies, “ He knew very well that, strictly speaking, it was not true; for he knew many others loug before Theodotus, and not a fe :w even before Ignatius, who taught the same heresy, a catalogue of whom may be seen in Epiphanius," and whom he proceeds to mention. Vindiciæ, Lib. ii. Ca p. ii. p.
Struck with this extraordinary narration of a transaction of ancient times, for which you refer to no authority besides that of Mosheim, I looked into him ; # but even there I do not find all the particulars that you mention. He says nothing of the Jewish Christians having observed their law
* For which Dr. Horsley refers to “ De Rebus Christianorum ante Constantinum, Siec. ii. Sect. xxxviii. Not." See supra, p. 169, Note ll+ Letters, p. 59. (P.) Tracts, pp. 157, 158.
Dr. Priestley seems to have overlooked Dr. Horsley's reference to Mosheim's Commentarii, and to have examined only his Ecclesiastial History. See Cent. ii. Pt. ii. Ch. v. ad init. I. p. 172; infra, Let, xyiii., Mr. Belsham's Note,
more from habit than any principle of conscience; nothing of their making no scruple to renounce their law in order to partake in the privileges of the Ælian colony ; nothing of any Jewish Christians removing from Pella, and settling in Ælia ; nothing of the retiring of the rest to the North of Galilee, or of this new origin of the Nazarenes there. For all these particulars, therefore, learned Sir, you must have some other authority in petto, besides that of Mosheim, and you ought to have produced it.
Also, as you adopt the assertions of Mosheim, I could wish to know his authority for supposing that there was any such thing as a church, or part of a church, of Jewish Christians at Jerusalem, after the destruction of that city by Adrian. As to your additions, they are a series of such improbable circumstances as hardly any historian of the time could make credible. Bodies of men do not, whatever you may imagine, suddenly change their opinions, and much less their customs and habits: least of all would an act of vio. lence produce that effect ; and, of all mankind, the experiment was the least likely to answer with the Jews. If it had produced any effect for a time, the old customs and habits would certainly have returned when the danger was
You might just as well suppose that all the Jews in Jerusalem began to speak Greek, as well as abandoned their ancient customs, in order to enjoy the valuable privileges of the Ælian colony. And you would have this to allege in your favour, that from that time the bishops of Jerusalem were all Greeks ; the public offices were no doubt performed in the Greek language ; and the church of Jerusalem was, indeed, in all respects as much a Greek church as that of Antioch.
As you say, with respect to myself, “ that a man ought to be accomplished in ancient learning who thinks he may escape with impunity and without detection in the attempt to browbeat the world with a peremptory and reiterated alle. gation of testimonies that exist not;"* how much more accomplished ought that man to be who now writes the history of transactions in the second century, without al. leging any testimony at all!
Mosheim himself, who began this accusation of Origen, produces no authority in his Dissertations † for his assertion.
• Letters, p. 134. (P.) Tracts, p. 245.
† “ Dissertationes ad Historiam Ecclesiasticam pertinens." To " the tenth, in order of the first volume,” Dr. Horsley refers for the “ Dissertation about Ebion." See supra, p. 176, Note t.