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am the resurrection; I am the gate; I am the good shepherd; and in the Revelation, I am the alpha and omega, the begin. ning and the end, the first and the last. We may, therefore, boldly say, that as the gospels are the first-fruits (or most excellent part) of the Scriptures, so the gospel of John is the first-fruits of the gospels; the sense of which no person can conceive except he who reclines on the breast of Jesus, and who can receive from Jesus his mother Mary, and make her his own. He must be another John, who was shewn by Jesus as another Jesus. For, he who is perfect does not himself live, but Christ lives in him ; and since Cbrist lives in him, he says to Mary concerning him, Behold thy son, Christ himself.”*
“ This,” says he, “ we ought to understand, that as the law was a shadow of good things to come, so is the gospel as it is understood by the generality. But that which John calls the everlasting gospel
, and which may be more properly called the spiritual, instructs the intelligent very clearly concerning the Son of God. Wherefore the gospel must be taught both corporeally and spiritually; and, when it is necessary, we must preach the corporeal gospel, saying to the carnal, that we know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified. But when persons are found confirmed in the spirit, bringing forth fruits in it, and in love with heavenly wisdom, we must impart to them the Logos returning from his bodily state, in that he was in the beginning with God.”
“ There are,” says he, “ who partake of the Logos which was from the beginning, the Logos that was with God, and the Logos that was God, as Hosea, Isaiah and Jeremiah, and any others that speak of him as the Logos of God, and the
* Ουδεις γαρ εκεινων ακρατως εφανερωσεν αυτη την θεοτητα ως Ιωαννης, παρατησας αυτον λεγοντα, Εγω ειμι το φως το κοσμε, εγω ειμι ή οδος, και η αληθεια, και η ζωη εγω ειμι ή αναςασις, εγω ειμι ή θυρα, εγω ειμι ο ποιμήν ο καλος και εν τη Αποκαλυψει, Εγω ειμαι το α και το ω, η αρχη και το τελος, ο πρωτος και ο εσχατος. Τολμητεον τοινυν ειπειν απαρχην μεν πασων γραφων ειναι τα ευαγγελια, των δε ευαγγελιων απαρχην το κατα Ιωαννην, ου τον νουν ουδεις δυναται λαβειν μη αναπεσων επι το ςηθος Ιησου, μηδε λαβων απο Ιησου την Μαριαν γενομενην και αυτα μητερα και τηλικατον δε γενεσθαι δει τον εσομενον αλλον Ιωαννην, ας τε οιονει τον Ιωαννην δειχθηναι οντα Ιησαν απο Ιησοκαι γαρ πας και τετελειωμενος ζη ουκετι, αλλ' εν αυτω ζη Χριςος, και επει ζη εν αυτω Χριςος, λεγεται περι αυτε τη Μαρια, Ιδε ο υίος σε ο Χριςος. “Cominent, in Johan.” Il. p. 5. Ρ.)
* Και τετο δε ειδηναι εχρην, ότι ώσπερ εςι νομος σκιαν περιεχων των μελλοντων αγαθών, υπο το κατ' αληθειαν καταγγελλομενο νομο δηλεμενων, ουτω και ευαγγελιoν σκιας μυςηριων Χριςο διδασκει, το νομιζομενον υπο παντων των εντυγχανοντων νοεισθαι. Ο δε φησιν Ιωαννης ευαγγελιoν αιωνιον, σικειως αν λεχθησομενον πνευματικον, σαφως παριςησι τοις νεεσι τα παντα ενωπιον περι αυτα τα υδα τα Θεο.- -Διοπερ αναγκαιον πνευματικως και σωματικος Χριςιανιζειν, και απο μεν χρη το σωματικον κηρυσσειν ευαγγελιoν, φασκοντα μηδεν ειδεναι τοις σαρκινοις η Ιησεν Χριςον και τετον εςαυρωμενον, τοτο ποιητεον επαν δε ευρεθώσι κατηρτισμενοι το πνευματι, και καρποφορεντες εν αυτω, ερωντες τε της ουρανια σοφιας, μεταδοτέον αυτοις τελογε, επανελθοντος απο το σεσαρκωσθαι, εφ' ο ην εν αρχη προς τον Θεον. Ιbid,
Logos that was with him ; but there are others who know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified, the Logos that was made flesh ; thinking they have every thing of the Logos when they acknowledge Christ according to the flesh. Such is the multitude of those who are called Christians. Again, he
says, “the multitude (i.e. the great mass or body) of believers are instructed in the shadow of the Logos, and not in the true logos of God, which is in the open heaven.”+
These humble Christians of Origen, who got no further than the shadow of the Loyos, and the simplices and idiote of Tertulliun, were probably the simplices credentium of Jerome, who as well as the heretics, he says, “ did not understand the Scriptures as became their majesty." For had these simple Christians, within the pale of the church, inferred from what John says of the Logos and from what Christ says of himself that he was, personally considered, equal to the Father, Jerome would hardly have said that they did not understand the Scriptures according to their majesty: for he himself would not pretend to a perfect knowledge of the mystery of the Trinity. “ For these simple Christians,” he says, “ the earth of the people of God brought forth hay, as for the heretics it brought forth thorns." # For the intelligent, I suppose, it produced richer fruits.
From all these passages, and others quoted before, especially the major pars credentium of Tertullian, I cannot help inferring, that the doctrine of Christ being any thing more than a man, who was crucified and rose from the dead, (the whole doctrine of the incarnation of the eternal Logos, that was in God, and that was God,) was considered as a more abstruse and refined doctrine, with which there was no occasion to trouble the common people ; and it is evident that this class of Christians was much staggered by it, and offended when they did hear of it. This could never have beth the case if it had been supposed to be the doctrine of the apostles, and to have been delivered by them as the most
Ούτω τοινυν οι μεν τινες μετεχεσιν αυτο το εν αρχη λογα και προς τον Θεον λογα, και Θεου λογα, ώσπερ “Ωσηε και Ησαιας και Ιερεμιας, και ει τις έτερος τοιοτον εαυτον παρεσησεν ως τον λογον κυριο, η τον λογον γενεσθαι προς αυτον" έτεροι δε οι μηδεν ειδοτες ει μη. Ιησεν Χριςον και τετον εςαυρωμενον, τον γενομενον σαρκα λογον, το παν νομισαντες ειναι τα λογα Χριςον κατα σαρκα μονον γνωσκοσι τοιοτον δε εςι το πλήθος των πεπιςευκεναι νομιζομενων. “ Cuinment in Johan.” Il. pp. 48, 49. (P.)
+ Τα δε πληθη των πεπιςευκεναι νομιζομενων τη σκια τα λογέ, και ουχ το αληθινή λογω Θεά εν τω ανεργοτι ουρανο τυγχανοντι, μαθητευεται. Ιbid. p. 52. (Ρ.)
1“. Quod dicitur super terram populi mei spinæ et foenum ascendent, referri potest et ad hæreticos, et ad 'simplices quosque credentium, qui non ita scripturam intelli: gunt ut illius convenit majestati. Unde singula singulis coaptavimus, ut terra populi Di hæreticis spinas, imperitis quibusque ecclesiæ fænum afferat.” In Is. xxxii.
Opera, IV. p. 118. (P.)
essential article of Christian faith, in which light it is now represented. Such terms as scandalizare, expavescere, &c. used by Tertullian,* and tagao rely by Origen,t can only apply to the case of sonje novel and alarming doctrine, something that men had not been accustomed to. In the language of Origen, it had been the corporeal gospel only, and not this spiritual and mysterious one, that they had been taught. I
I am, &c.
LETTER IX. Of the Light in which the Unitarians were considered in later Ages, and of the State of the Common People at all Times.
REV. Sir, It appears from what has been advanced in the preceding letters, that, whatever might be the opinion of the more learned Christians, and of course that of the writers, the bulk of the common people were not brought to a belief, or rather a profession, of the doctrine of the Trinity till a pretty late period; and that, if they did not of themselves leave the communion of the orthodox, and raised no disturbance in the church, they were connived at. In fact, they were considered by the more learned as simple, ignorant people, who knew no better, and who acquiesced in the doctrine of the simple humanity of Christ, because they were incapable of comprehending that of his divinity, and the sublime doctrine of three persons in one God. This must have been the case with the oi doados, the many, or multitude, of Athanasius.
This writer, considering the violence of his character, speaks of the Unitarians with a good deal of tenderness on account of the difficulty of understanding the doctrine of the Trinity. In my former letters [p. 77] I quoted a passage from him in which he represents them as the oi o201, the many, and persons of a low understanding, but by no means as persons out of the church. Contrasting them with the Gnostics and the Arians, he says, “Some persons considering what is human in Christ, seeing him thirsting, labouring, and suffering, and degrading him to a mere man, sin indeed greatly; but they may readily obtain forgiveness if they repent, alleging the weakness of the flesh; and they have
* Sce supra, pp. 19, 24.
See Appendix, No. IX.
+ See supra, p. 109.
the apostle himself administering pardon to them, and, as it were, holding out his hand to them, while he says, Truly, great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh.
According to him, many persons within the pale of the church must either have been Unitarians, or have believed the doctrine of the Trinity without understanding it; which in fact is no belief at all. Being consulted what was to be done with respect to the spread of the doctrine of Paulus Samosatensis, after acknowledging that persons of low understandings were chiefly infected with it, and quoting what Paul says of the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, he says, “ those who understand the subject accurately, are few, but all pious persons may hold the faith delivered to them.”+ But what kind of holding must it be, when they had no perfect understanding of what they held ?
Gregory Nazianzen also represents the common people as excusable for their errors, and safe, from not being disposed to scrutinize into things. I
I have also observed many instances in writers so late as Chrysostom, who, notwithstanding the prevalence of a different mode of treating Unitarians, use the term heretics in its ancient and proper sense for the Gnostics only. Here I shall content myself with one from Athanasius. He says, " The heretics make to themselves another Maker of the universe besides the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
"S Indeed Athanasius considered the proper Unitarians, in a more favourable light than he did either the Gnostics or the Arians. Il
Cyril of Jerusalem complains of heretics, both Unitarians and Arians, in the bosom of the church. • Now,” says he, “there is an apostacy; for men have departed from the faith, some confounding the Son with the Father, others
“Όταν τινες, εις τα ανθρωπινα βλεποντες, ιδωσι τον κυριον διψωντα, η κοπιωντα, η παςχοντα, και μονον φλυαρησωσιν ως κατ' ανθρωπου τα σωτηρος, αμαρτανεσι μεν μεγαλως δυνανται δε όμως ταχεως μεταγινωσκοντες λαμβανειν συγγνωμην, έχοντες προφασιν την τα σωματος ασθενειαν εχεσι γαρ και τον αποστολον συγγνωμην αυτοις νεμοντα, και οιονει χειρα αυτοις εν τω λεγειν εκτεινοντα, ότι και ομολογομενως μεγα εςι το της ευσεβειας μυςηριον, Θεος εφανερώθη εν σαρκι. . “ In illud Evangelii Quicunque dixerit," &c. Opera, I. p. 975. (P.)
1 “Οτι την μεν ακριβειαν αυτης επιζητειν ολιγων εςι, την δε πιςιν κατεχειν άπαντων των Epos Toy EDV EUTELOWY. “De Incarnatione, contra P. Samosat.” Opera, I. p. 592. (P.)
1 Τοις μεν γαρ τα λα8 ταχα αν και συγγινωσκοιμεν τατο πασχεσιν, ους σωζει πολλακις To abacansov. "Oratio xxi. Opera, I. p. 388. (P.)
και οι δε απο των αιρεσεων αλλον εαυτοις αναπλαττοντι δημιεργον των παντων παρα τον Tatepa ta xupie juw inge Xpose. “ De Incarnatione,” Opera, I. p. 55. (P.)
ll See Opera, 1. pp. 975, 977, 978. (P.)
6. If any
daring to say that Christ was created out of nothing. For. merly heretics were open, but now the church is full of concealed heretics.”* The more zealous of the orthodox bishops might do something more than complain, but in general it may be presumed that they did not trouble themselves about the matter.
Complaints of the spread of heresy, both that of the Unitarians, and that of the Arians, in Asia Minor, in the time of Basil, by himself and his contemporaries, are without end. Those opinions prevailed more especially among the common people, though many of the clergy were also infected ; and what is remarkable, the malcontents complained loudly of his innovations, both with respect to ancient doctrines and ancient practices. For some time Basil, called the Great, was obliged to give way to the storm, and retire from his diocese, though this it seems was a dangerous step; for, according to him, unremitted vigilance was necessary to guard their flocks from seduction. person,” he says, " leave his diocese for the shortest time, he leaves the common people exposed.”+
I think we may learn from Facundus, who wrote so late as the reign of Justinian, that in his time many of the common people were well known to consider Christ as a mere man, and yet were not disturbed on that account.
As the passage in bis writings from which I infer this is a pretty remarkable one, I shall cite it at full length. Speaking of the condemnation of Theodorus, in whose favour be is writing, he says, that “ju condemning him they condemned all those who thought as he did, even though they afterwards changed their opinion.-_What will they do with Martha, and then with Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, who were particularly attached to our Lord while he was upon earth! And yet both of them, first Martha and then Mary, are said to speak to him thus : Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died; who, though they thought that he was the Son of God who was to come into the world, yet would they not have said if thou hadst been here, if they had believed him to be God omnipresent. They therefore only thought as Theodorus is said to have done, and were excommunicated along with him; and how many of this kind do we know, ,
* Νυν δε εςιν αποφασια απεςησαν γαρ οι ανθρωποι της ορθής πιστεως, και οι μεν υίοτατοριαν καταγγελλεσιν, οι δε τον Χριστον εξ εκ οντων εις το ειναι παρενεχθεντα λεγειν τολμωσιν, και προτερον μεν ησαν φανεροι αιρετικοι, νυν δε πεπληρωται η εκκλησια Xexpurjevwy aipetikwv. Cyrilli Catech. xv. p. 209. See also p. 5." (P.)
* Ει γαρ τις και προς το βραχυτατον της εκκλησιας αυτά απoς αιη εκδιοτες αφησει τις 2405 TOUS Dedpevech Basilii Epist. lxx. Opera, III. p. 114. (P.)