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the soul nor the body can receive eternal life, but the internal man only,”* that is, that they denied the resurrection.
Now, as Cerinthus and Carpocrates, and other Gnostics, denied the miraculous conception, as well as the Ebionites, and all the rest of this description, both before and after this circumstance, evidently belongs to the Gnostics only, and as in no other place whatever does he comprehend them in his definition of heresy, it is natural to conclude that he had no view to them even here, but only to those Gnostics who, in common with them, denied the miraculous conception. If there be any other passage in Irenæus, in which he calls, or seems to call, the Ebionites heretics, I have overlooked it. The Ebionites were Jews, and had no communion with the Gentiles, at least that appears ; and Irenæus says nothing at all of the Unitarians among the Gentiles, who generally be. lieved the miraculous conception, though, as appears from other evidence, they constituted the great mass of the unlearned Christians.
Clemens Alexandrinus makes frequent mention of heretics, and expresses as much abhorrence of them as Justin Martyr does ; but it is evident that, in all the places in which he speaks of them, his idea of heresy was confined to Gnosticism. He considers it as an answer to all heretics to prove that “ there is one God, the Almighty Lord, who was preached by the law and the prophets, and also in the blessed gospel.”+ He also speaks of heresy as “ borrowed from a barbarous philosophy;" and says of heretics, that, " though they say there is one God, and sing hymns to Christ, it was not according to truth ; for that they introduced another God, and such a Christ as the prophets had not foretold.”+ He likewise speaks of heretics in general, as having a high opinion of their own knowledge, oimoi γνωσεως ειληφοτων. He calls them dogodov, men who think that they have found the truth, || and UNO DO EO opias eting
* “ Indocti omnes hæretici, et ignorantes dispositiones Dei, et inscii ejus quæ est secundum hominem dispensationis, quippe cæcutientes circa veritatem, ipsi suæ contradicunt saluti. Alii quidem alterum introducentes præter demiurgum patrem. Alii autem ab angelis quibusdam dicentes factum esse mundum, et substantiam ejus, &c. Alii autem rursus ignorantes Virginis dispensationem, ex Joseph dicunt eum generatum. Et quidam quidem neque animam suam neque corpus recipere posse dicunt æternam vitam, sed tantum hominem interiorem." Lib. v. Cap. xix. p. 429. (P.)
+ Και άπασαις εντευθεν ταις αιρεσεσιν ενα δεικνυναι Θεον και Κυριον παντοκρατορα, τον δια
νομου και προφητων, προς δε και μακαριου ευαγγελιου γνησιως κεκηρυγμενον. Strom. Lib. vi. p. 475. (P.)
Ibid. p. 675. See also pp. 512, 662. (P.) s Ibid. L. vii. p. 754. (P.)
U Ibid. p. 755. (P.)
uevos, elated with a conceit of their knowledge.* He says, that u
heresy began in the time of Adrian,”+ when it is well known that Basilides, and the most distinguished of the Gnostics, made their appearance. He says the heretics went by different names, and those of Valentinus, Marcion, and Basilides, mentioning none but Gnostics. It may only be conjectured that he meant the Ebionites by the Peratici, enumerated by him among those who had their denomination from the place of their residence. But this is the only passage in which the word occurs. He never includes the Gentile Unitarians among heretics, and even your great authority, Mosheim, allows, (what indeed he could not deny,) that the Unitarians lived in communion with the Catholic church in the early ages. S
As the strict Ebionites held no communion with the Gentile Christians, it is very possible that Clemens Alexandrinus might insert them in a catalogue of heretics, and allude to them under the name of Peratici, without intending any censure of their doctrine with respect to Christ. Besides, this was a name given them, as he says, from their place of residence, and therefore did not include the Unitarians among the Gentiles.
It is clear to me, from the attention that I have lately given to this subject, that even long after the doctrine of the divinity of Christ was established by councils and the decrees of emperors, the common people were well known to believe nothing of the matter; and yet, if they made no disturbance, and did not think proper to separate from the communion of the orthodox themselves, they were not excommunicated. This may be inferred from the passage which I quoted from Athanasius ; || but of which you have taken no notiće, from which it appears that the Unitarians were the oi to2201, the many. In the time of Tertullian they were the major pars credentium, the greater part of believers; and in the time of Origen they were the to anodos, the multitude, and the ta namon, the multitudes.
I am, &c. • Strom. L. vii. p. 759. (P.) † Ibid. p. 764. (P.) 1 Ibid. p. 765. (P.)
Ś What I find on this subject in Mosheim, is the following, in his Commentarii : “ The Ebionites and Nazarenes have, I well know, always hitherto been classed with the sects of the first age, but to me this appears irreconcileable with reason ; for it can be indisputably proved, that those of the Christians who persisted in adhering to the observance of the law of Moses, did not separate themselves from the rest of the brethren, until Jerusalem, which had just begun to rise again from its ashes, was secondly and finally laid waste by the Romans, in the time of the emperor Hadrian.-Previously to their acting thus, they were regarded by no one in any other light than as true Christians." Translation, 1813, I. p. 296, Note. See supra, pp. 76, 77.
Supra, pp. 17, 23, 24.
Of the State of Heresy in the Time of Tertullian.
REV. Sir, Nothing can well be more evident than that Tertullian represents the great body of unlearned Christians in his time as Unitarians, and even holding the doctrine of the Trinity in great abhorrence. It is hardly possible in the form of words to describe this state of things more clearly than he does.* Indeed, with respect to this you are pleased to make some concession, though by no means such as the case requires.
- I must confess, Sir," you say, “ here seems to be a complaint against the unlearned Christians, as in general unfavourable to the Trinitarian doctrine. But,” you add, “ 'the complaint is of your own raising. Tertullian will vouch but for a very small part of it. Simple persons, says Tertullian, '(not to call them ignorant and idiots,) who always make the majority of believers, because the rule of faith itself carries us away from the many gods of the Hea. then to the one true God; not understanding that one God is indeed to be believed, but with an economy (or arrangement) startle at the economy. They take it for granted that the number and disposition of the Trinity is a division of the Unity. They pretend that two, and even three, are preached by us, and imagine that they themselves are the worshippers of one God. We, they say, hold the monarchy. Latins have caught up the word monarchia, Greeks will not understand æconomia.' Let the author's words be thus exactly rendered, and you will find in them neither complaint nor acknowledgement of a general prevalence of the Unitarian doctrine among Christians of any rank. Tertullian alleges, that what credit it obtained was only with the illiterate, nor with all the illiterate, but with those only who were ignorant and stupid in the extreme. To preclude the plea of numbers, he remarks, that the illiterate will always make the majority of believers. • Some simple people,' he says, “ take alarm at the notion of a plurality of persons in the unity of the Godhead.'”+
Here, Sir,'I complain of two gross misrepresentations of your author; the first respects the number of these simple
* See Vol. V: p. 41.
† Letters, p. 74. (P.) Tracts, pp. 175, 176.
people, and the second the degree of their simplicity, or, as you call it, stupidity. Whoever Tertullian meant by the simplices and the idiota, for any thing that appears, he meant the whole body of them. His language is general and unlimited, and therefore you are altogether unwarranted in your limitation of it to some of them. I really wonder at your assurance in this. I am far from construing Tertullian rigorously, and am ready to allow that some of these simplices and idiotæ might profess to believe the doctrine of the Trinity, though he says nothing of it; but making all reasonable deductions on this account, he asserts a palpable falsehood, and against himself, if a very great majority of these simplices and idiota were not Unitarians. On the whole, it is impossible not to infer from this passage, that in the time of Tertullian the great body of unlearned Christians were Unitarians, and that they were so in part from their construction of the regula fidei, or the creed, to which they gave their assent at baptism. They even regarded the doctrine of the Trinity with horror, as nothing less than idolatry, enjoining the worship of more gods than one. Common sense can put no other construction on this passage, and Tertullian is far from being singular in this acknowledgment. It is made in different modes by several of the fathers, even later than the age of Tertullian.
In the next place, I complain of the degree of simplicity, or, as you call it, stupidity, with which you charge these Unitarians. Tertullian calls them idiote, which you render idiots, and this you have the assurance to call an exact translation. You say, that I consult only the “ ordinary lexi
Pray, Sir, in what lexicon or dictionary, ordinary or extraordinary, did you find this sense of the term idiotu in Latin, or diwrns in Greek? Can you produce any passage in an ancient writer in which the word has that meaning? I will venture to say that it properly signifies an unlearned man, or a person who has not had a learned or liberal education. But such persons may have as good sense as those who have had that advantage, and may judge as truly concerning the great principles of religion as the most learned. The doctrine of one God, or two Gods, requires no knowledge of the learned languages ; and you, Sir, perhaps, would have understood Christianity no worse if you had never heard of the Parmenides. It is most natural to interpret the language of any
* Letters, p. 91. (P.) Tracts, p. 195.
by the use of it in other writers of the same age, character and profession. Now the translator of Irenæus certainly uses the word idiota (diwrns, no doubt, in the original Greek) for an unlearned man, without the least reference to any weakness of understanding. Speaking of the heretics, who boasted of their knowledge, he says, “ Non contemplantes quanto pluris sit idiota religiosus à blasphemo. et impudente sophista : Not considering how much better is a religious and unlearned man than a blasphemous and impious sophist.”* Certainly you would not render it a religious idiot, for idiots are incapable of religion. From the blasphemy here 'ascribed to heretics, who were Gnostics, you may also take a hint for the right understanding of the quotation from Justin.
Theodoret, in his explanation of 1 Cor. xiv. 16, says, that by diwrns was meant a layman, because it is the custom to call those owTas who were not engaged in war;" † meaning, perhaps, those who had no public employments. Our translators of the New Testament had a very
different idea from yours of the meaning of the word lowons. For, in Acts iv. 13, we read, that when Peter and John were examined before the high-priest and his kindred, “they wondered at their boldness, because they perceived them to be ÒIWTA.;" but it is not rendered idiots, which would have been absurd enough, but “ unlearned and ignorant men." In 1 Cor. xiv, the word occurs three times, and is always translated unlearned ; # and in 2 Cor. xi. 6, Paul calls him. self bòwans, and he could not be supposed to have called himself an idiot. It is there rendered rude.
One of your proofs that Unitarianism was proscribed in the primitive church in the time of Tertullian, 'is his saying that the regula fidei, in his treatise de Præscriptione, belief of all Christians. But every writer, if we wish not to cavil, but to understand his real meaning, must be interpreted in a manner consistent with himself. It is a degree of candour that is due to all writers; and what you strongly plead for in the case of Eusebius. Now, concerning what we now call the Apostles' Creed, Tertullian expresses himself in such a manner (in his treatise De Virginibus velandis) as gives us clearly to understand that this was all that was necessary to the faith of a Christian. This creed might be subscribed by any Unitarian who believed the miraculous
* L. v. C. xx. (P.)
† Opera, III. p. 191. (P.)