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But we find no trace of either Jews or Gentiles having received these sublime doctrines that Chrysostom alludes to, in the age of the apostles. Nay he himself represents the apostle Paul as obliged to use the same caution with respect to the Jews, when he wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews, which was so late as A. D. 62, about two years before his death. And if the body of the Jewish Christians were at that time Unitarians, can it be thought probable that they became Trinitarians soon afterwards? If the apostles themselves had not succeeded in this business, which required equal address and authority, who else can be supposed to have done it?
Chrysostom represents the apostle as beginning his Epistle to the Hebrews with saying, that “ it was God who spake by the prophets, and by his Son, and not that Christ himself had spoken by them, because their minds were weak, and they were not able to bear the doctrine concerning Christ."* He even says, that “when he there speaks of Christ as above the angels, he still spoke of his humanity. See,” says he, “ his great caution, oga Tony OUVEGIY TIN Toaamu, † the very expression used by Athanasius on a similar occasion, and which you think I have not rendered rightly, and have mistaken the sense of the passage, though Beausobre; the popish translator, and, I shall now add, Dr. Lardner, all understood it as I do. It was the general opinion of the fathers, as may
be learned from Epiphanius and Jerome, quoted above, that it was John who first preached the doctrine of the divinity of Christ explicitly; and that when Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote their gospels, the Christians in general, but more especially the Jews among them, were not prepared to receive a doctrine of such sublimity.
Chrysostom represents all the preceding writers of the New Testament as “ children, who heard, but did not understand things, and who were busy about cheese-cakes and
• Και δεα τι συνετως αυτο ειρηκεν ου γαρ ειπεν ο Θεος ελαλησε, καιτοιγε αυτος ην λαλησας, αλλ' επειδη ασθενεις αυτων ησαν αι ψυχαι, και ουδεπω ακέειν ηδυναντο τα περ Te Xpıçe, onowy @cos de auto shanno av. In Heb. cap. i. Opera, X. p. 1756, that is, “ See how prudently he spoke : for he said God spake, though it was himself that spake; but because their minds were weak, and they were not able to bear the things concerning Christ, he says God spake' by him." N.B. The ov in the second clause of this passage must be inserted by mistake for sai, or some other particle, as it contradicts what is said in the close of the sentence, and the obvious sense of the whole. (P.)
“ The best editions read Xpisos for 605. See Horsley's Reply p. 34" (Mr. Belsham Note). See Horsley's Tracts, p. 359.
† Opera, X. p. 1755. (P.)
childish sports;* but John," he says, “ taught what the angels themselves did not know before he declared it ;"+ and he represents them as his most attentive auditors. I Leaving the Father," he says, “ he (John) discoursed concerning the Son; because the Father was known to all, if not as a Father, yet as a God, but the only begotten was unknown.”g
Observing that in the beginning was the Logos, he says, “ This was not preached immediately, for the world could not bear it. The evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,” (this last is inserted by some mistake,) “ when they began the preaching, spake at a distance, and not immediately what became his dignity, but what was convenient for their hearers."|| Of the three first evangelists, he says, that "
they all treated of the fleshy dispensation, and silently, by his miracles, indicated his dignity. The dignity of the Logos of God was hid, the arrows against the heretics were concealed, and the fortification to defend the right faith was not raised by the pious preaching. John, therefore, the son of thunder, being the last, advanced to the doctrine of the Logos," or the divinity of Christ. I
Austin writes to the same purpose: “ And if there be any other things which, to those who rightly understand them, intimate the divinity of Christ, in which he is equal to the Father, John almost alone has given them in his gospel.”**
• Οι γε αλλοι άπαντες, καθαπερ τα παιδια τα μικρα ακegσι μεν, ουκ ισασι δε άπερ ακeaσιν, αλλα περι πλακeντας επτοηνται, και αθυρματα παιδικα. In Johan. Prolog. Opera, VIII. p. 2. (P.)
+ A μηδε αγγελοι πριν η τετον γενεσθαι αδεισαν" μεθ' ημων γαρ δη και ούτοι δια της Ιωαννα φωνης και δι' ημων εμαθον απερ εγνωμεν. Ιbid. (Ρ.)
1 Ibid. (P.) 8 Τι δηποτ'
-ουν τον πατερα αφεις, περι τα υδα διαλεγεται ότι εκεινος μεν δηλος άπασιν η, εικαι μη ως πατηρ, αλλ' ως Θεος, δ δε μονογενης ηγνοειτο. Ιbid. p. 11. (Ρ.)
Ο Εν αρχη ο λογος. Ουκ ευθυς τοτο εκηρυχθη" ου γαρ εχωρει ο κοσμος. Μακραν ημιν οι ευαγγελιςαι Ματθαιος, Μαρκος, Λεκας, και Ιωαννης, ότε ηρξαντο το κηρυγματος ουκ ευθυς ελαλησαν τα πρεποντα τη αξια, αλλα τα άρμοζοντα τους ακροωμενοις. De Sigillis. Opera, VI. p. 171. (P.)
Ο Παντες ουν εχωρησαν εις την της σαρκος οικονομιαν, και ηρεμα πως, δια των θαυμάτων, εγνωριζον την αξιαν. Εκρυπτετο δε ετι τα Θεε λογα το αξιωμα. Εκρυπτετο δε τα κατα των αιρετικών βελη, και το της ορθής δοξης επιτειχισμα ουδεποτε το κηρυγματι της ευσεδειας εγγερτο. Ιωαννης τοινυν, ο υίος της βροντης, τελευταιος, περιηλθεν επι την θεολογιαν. De Sigillis. Opera, VI. p. 173. N.B. The sense of the passage absolutely requires ELOUTTETO and not expPUTTETO in both the clauses, and in the latter it is so rendered by the Latin translator, though not in the former. The observation, that the first verses in the gospel of John are a refutation of all heresies is common with the fathers. No person, except one who is pretty well conversant with them, can imagine how often those verses occur in their writings. (P.)
**“ Et si qua alia sunt, quæ Christi diviuitatem, in qua æqualis est Patri, recte intelligentibus intiment, pene solus Joannes in evangelio suo posuit." Austin, “ de Consensu Evangelistarum." Opera, IV. p. 374. (P.) VOL. XVIII.
Theodoret observes, that, in the genealogy of Christ given by Matthew, this writer did not add according to the flesh, “because the men of that time would not bear it ;" evi. dently meaning, that they would thereby have been led into a suspicion that in the idea of the writer he had some higher origin, and would have been offended at it; but the apostle Paul, he says, could not avoid that expression, in his Epistle to the Romans. He adds, that, “ before his death, not only to the other Jews, but to the apostles themselves, he did not appear as a God, nor did his miracles lead them to form that opinion of him.”* This writer also says that the apostle Paul, in mentioning the subjection of Christ to the Father, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, “ spake of him more lowly than was necessary, on account of their weakness.”
And yet you, Sir, who have no doubt read, considered, and re-considered, all these passages, and many more than I can produce to the same purpose, can say, “ The desire of instructing the Jews, not the fear of offending them, was the motive with the apostles for propounding first what was the easiest to be understood, and the most likely to be ad. mitted;" I and even add, you cannot read without astonishment, that I should suppose that Athanasius meant to intimate that they were afraid of giving offence to the Jews.
When we consider how late the three first gospels were written, the last of them not long before that of John, which was near, if not after the destruction of Jerusalem, and that, in the opinion of these writers above-mentioned, all this caution and reserve had been necessary on the part of the Christian teachers, how is it possible that, in their idea, the Christian church in general should have been well established in the belief of our Lord's divinity? It could only have been great and open zeal on the part of the apostles, and not the caution and management which these writers ascribe to them, that could have effectually taught a doctrine which, according to them, they were ill prepared to receive; and the history of both Peter and Paul sufficiently proves, that the influence of mere apostolical authority was not so great at that time as many persons now take it to have been. Whatever powers they had, they were not considered as lords over the faith of Christians.
The Christians of that age required something more than
Προ μεν τα Σαυρα και τα παθες, ο δεσποτης Χριςος ου μονον τοις άλλοις Ιεδαιοις, αλλα και αυτοις απος ολοις ουκ εδοκει ειναι Θεος-και ουδε τα θαυματα αυτες προς ταυτην STOônger Thy doçar. In Rom. L. iv. Opera, III. p. 11. (P.)
t i Cor. xv. Opera, III. p. 201. (P.) Letters, p. 99. (P.) Tracts, p. 197.
the private opinion of an apostle. They required some supernatural evidence that his doctrine was from God; and we have no account of the apostles proposing to them this article of faith, and alleging any such evidence for it. Chrysostom says, that." if the Jews were so much offended at having a new law 'superadded to their former, how much more would they have been offended if Christ had taught his own divinity !". May it not be supposed, therefore, that they would have required as particular evidence of a divine revelation in the one case as in the other? And what re. markably strong evidence was necessary to convince them that the obligation of their law did not extend to the Gentiles? Would they, therefore, have received what Chrysostom considered as the more offensive doctrine of the two, without any pretence to a particular revelation on the subject ?
It may be said that all the caution of which we have been speaking was necessary with respect to the unbelieving Jews only, into
whose hands these gospels and the other writings of the New Testament might fall. But how impossible must it have been to conceal from the unbelieving Jews the doctrine of the divinity of Christ, if it had been a favourite article with the believing Jews!. If this had been the case, it could not but have been known to all the world, and therefore all the offence that it could have given would have been una avoidable. So that this supposed caution of the evangelists, &c., would have come too late, and would have answered no purpose whatever.
This' caution, therefore, 'must necessarily have respected those persons into whose hands the gospels, &c., were most likely to come, and who would give the most attention to them; and these were certainly the believing Jews, and the Christian world at large, and not unbelievers of any nation. And we are authorized to conclude, that in the opinion of the writers who have 'spoken of it, of whatever weight that opinion may be, this caution in divulging the doctrine of the divinity of Christ was necessary with respect to the great body of Christians themselves, and especially the Jewish Christians. Consequently, they must have supposed that, at the time of these publications, which was about A. D. 64, the doctrine of the divinity of Christ was not generally held by Christians, and that there would have been danger of giving them great offence if it had been plainly proposed to them by the apostles themselves. At this time, therefore,
it may be inferred, that, in the opinion of these writers, the Christian church was principally Unitarian, , believing only the simple humanity of Christ, and knowing nothing of his divinity or pre-existence.
From the acknowledgment which these orthodox fathers could not help virtually making, (for certainly they would not do it unnecessarily any more than yourself,) that there were greater numbers of proper Unitarians in the age of the apostles, it seems not unreasonable to conclude that there were great numbers of them in the age immediately following, and in their own; and their knowledge of this might be an additional reason for the opinion that they appear to have formed of that prevalence in the apostolic age. Would those fathers have granted to their enemies spontaneously, and contrary to truth, that the Jews were strongly prepos. sessed against the doctrine of the divinity of Christ, and that the Unitarians were a formidable body of Christians while the apostles were living, if it had been in their power to have denied the facts : The consequence of making these acknowledgments is but too obvious, and must have appeared so to them, as well as it now does to you, which makes you so unwilling to make it after them.
You say that the Unitarian Jews, mentioned by Alhanasius, were not Christians, and that the Gentiles, to whom they taught the doctrine of the humanity of the Messiah, were mere Heathen Greeks. “ Have you forgotten, Sir," you say, “ have you never known, or would you deny what is not denied by candid infidels, that the expectation of a great deliverer or benefactor of mankind was universal even in the Gentile world about the time of our Lord's appearance."* This, however, I do very much question, and I should be glad to know the names of the candid infidels who have acknowledged it.
An expectation of a Messiah certainly existed among the Jews, and of course among their proselytes; but if any such idea had been universal among the Gentiles, so as to interest them in discussions about the nature of this great deliverer, as whether he was to be God or man, &c., we should certaiply have perceived some traces of it in their writings. It might have been expected that, on account both of the interesting nature and of the obscurity of the subject, there would have been different opinions aboụt it; that it would
: Letters, p. 97. (P.) Tracts, p. 202,