« ПретходнаНастави »
have been a common topic in their philosophical schools ; and that their historians would have given some account of the origin and foundation of this universal opinion.
You will produce, I suppose, Virgil's sixth eclogue. But, Sir, can you believe that even Virgit himself really expected any such person as he describes? The use that the poets might make of a vague report of a prophecy, brought probably from the East, and ultimately from the Jewish Scriptures, (but seriously believed by no person that we know of), merely to embellish a poem, is one thing; but the actual and universal expectation of such a person is another.
I am, &c.
LETTER XI. of the Time when Christ began to be considered as God, and
the Opinion of the Ancient and Modern Jews with respect to the Messiah.
Rev, Sir, I took the liberty to request that you would endeavour to fix the time when the apostles and primitive Christians began to consider Christ as God, or even the maker of the world under God; taking it for granted that at the first they supposed him to be a mere man. This, I thought no person living would have denied. That the Jews expected only a man for their Messiah, is clearly supposed by Justin Martyr and all the Christian.fathers. The Jews of their time were perpetually objecting to the Christian doctrine on account of their making Christ to be a God, and I have no doubt but that the expectation of the Jews at this day is the same with that of their ancestors two thousand years ago.
You, Sir, have, however, ventured to deny all this. Speaking of the apostles, you say, that “ from their first acknowledgment of our Lord as the Messiah, they equally acknowledged his divinity. The Jews,” you say, “ in Christ's day had notions of a Trinity in the Divine nature. They expected the second person, whom they called the Logos, to come as the Messiah. For the proof of these
• On this subject the opinion of the fathers is unanimous, and against Dr. Horsley. They say, indeed, that the doctrine of the Trinity may be proved from the Old Tes. tament, but that it was delivered so obscurely on account of the proneness of the Jews to idolatry, that they did not understand it. Theodoret says, Ension yop Εβραιους εγραφεν, οι μονον τιμαν ειώθασι τον πατερα, αναγκαιως το δι' αυτο προσεθεικε ί. ε. “The Jews had been accustomed to worship the Father only, and for that reason the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews was obliged to say, By him let us offer sacrifices to God continually." lo Heb. Opera, III. p. 461. (P.)
assertions I refer you to the work of the learned Dr. Peter Allix, entitled, The Judgment of the Ancient Jewish Church against the Unitarians; a work which, it is to be hoped, Sir, you will carefully look through, before you send abroad your intended View of the Doctrine of the First Ages concerning Christ.”*
When my stock of amusement from the writings of Bishop Bull is exhausted, which is by no means the case at present, I may perhaps throw away a few shillings on this Dr. Allix.t In the mean time, without entering into a large discussion on the subject, I shall only ask you a question or two relating to it, and you may answer me out of Dr. Allix if you please. Inform me, then, if you can, how our Saviour could possibly, on your idea, have puzzled the Jewish doctors as he did, reducing them to absolute silence by asking them how David could call the Messiah his Lord, when he was his son or descendant. $ For if they had themselves been fully persuaded, as you suppose, that the Messiah, though carnally descended from David, was in fact the maker and the God of David, and of them all, a very satisfactory answer was pretty obvious. Or, without asking any other question of my own, what say you to Facundus, quoted above, [p. 202,) who says, that « Martha and Mary would never have said to Christ, If thou hadst been here, had they thought him to be God omnipresent.” He adds,
He adds, “neither would Philip have said to him Shew us the Father, if he had entertained any such idea of him."
Facundus also says, that the Jews always had expected, and in his time did expect, a mere man for their Messiah. “They did not know,” he says, “ that Christ, the Son of God, was God, but they thought that Christ would be a mere man, which any one may perceive that the Jews at this time also think.”S
I am willing, however, to consider a few of the things which you have advanced in order to give some degree of plausibility to this strange hypothesis.
is So far," you say, * as they'' (the apostles) “ believed in Jesus as the Messiah,
Letters, pp. 107, 109. (P.) Tracts, pp. 213, 216. t. Some account of Dr. Allix's opinion, and also of the confutation of it by Prideaux and Capellus, may be seen in Mr. Lindsey's Apology, p. 88, Nole. (P. Ch. iii. Ed. 4. 1782, pp. 102, 103. See Prideaux (Pt. ii. B. viii.), Ed. 2, 1749, IV. pp. 783, 784.
1 See Matt. xxii. 45, Vol. XIII. p. 290.
S“ Sed non propterea Christum Dei filium, Deum sciebant; bominem autem purum arbitrati sunt Christum. - Quod etiam nunc putautes Judæos quilibet videbit.” L. ix. C. iii. p. 139. (P.)
in the same degree they understood and acknowledged his divinity. The proof which I have to produce of this from holy writ consists of too many particulars to be distinctly enumerated in the course of our present correspondence. I shall mention two, which to any but a decided Unitarian will be very striking; Nathaniel's first profession, and Peter's consternation at the miraculous draught of fishes. It was in Nathaniel's very first interview with our Lord that he exclaimed, · Rabbi, thou art the Son of God! thou art the King of Israel !' and this declaration was drawn from Nathaniel by some particulars in our Lord's discourse, which he seems to have interpreted as indications of omniscience, When Simon Peter saw the number of fishes taken at a single draught, when the net was cast at our Lord's command, after a night of fruitless toil, "he fell down at the knees of Jesus, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.' Peter's consternation was evidently of the same sort of which we read in the worthies of earlier ages, upon any extraordinary appearance of the light of the Shechinah, which was founded on a notion that a sinful mortal might not see God and live." +
With respect to Nathaniel's calling Jesus the Son of God, [John i. 49,] this phrase was, in the mouth of a Jew, synonymous to the Messiah, or Son of David, and it is fully explained by the subsequent expression of Nathaniel him. self, viz. King of Israel; and, therefore, the Jewish doctors, expecting nothing more in their Messiah than'a glorious King of Israel, such as David had been, could not give any satisfactory reason why David should call him Lord, having no notion of his spiritual kingdom extending to all mankind. If the mere appellation Son of God, implies equality with God, Adam must have been a God, for he is called the Son of God, Luke iii. 38. Solomon also must have been God; and so must all Christians, for they are called Sons of God, 1 John iii. 2; John i. 12; Rom. viji. 14; Phil. ii. 15.
As you are so intimately acquainted with the fathers, you must have known the construction that Chrysostom puts upon the language of Nathaniel; and as he was unquestionably orthodox, I should have thought that it might have had some weight with you. He says, that " in this speech Nathaniel confessed Christ as a man, as appears by his adding, Thou art the King of Israel.”+
• Letters, p. 107. (P.) Tracts, p. 214. # In Johan. Opere, VIII. p. 106. (P.)
As to what you call omniscience, you will hardly say it was a greater degree of knowledge than it is in the power of God to impart to a man.
After our Saviour had performed what you, I suppose, will call an act of omnipotence, all the conclusion that the spectators drew from it was, that God “ had given such power unto men.” Matt. ix.
They did not infer from it that he himself was God, or pretended to be God ;* and yet they probably thought that he was the Messiah.
As to the consternation of Peter, I should imagine that by the same mode of interpretation you might conclude that the widow of Zarephath took Elijah to be a God; for, on the death of her son, she said, 1 Kings xvii. 18,“ What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? Art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son ?" Pray, Sir, why might not the exclamation of Peter be considered as being of the same nature with that of this woman? + The language is very similar, and I will not answer for it, but that you, not being a decided Unilarian, may really be of opinion, that she took the prophet to be God incarnate.
Your proof of the doctrine of the Trinity, from a verse in the first sermon of Peter on the day of Pentecost, is particu. larly curious. It is as follows: Acts ii. 33: Jesus “ being by the right-hand of God, exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, has shed forth this,” &c. “ I shall maintain,” you say, “ that the three persons are distinctly mentioned, in a manner which implies the divinity of each."I Well may you say, “ Thus I will ever reason for the edification of my own tlock, but with little hope of your conviction, from St. Peter's first sermon."
Indeed, Sir, I see nothing in this passage but as perfect a dependence of Christ upon God as any man can have. Why should Christ receive the Holy Spirit from the Father, according to a preceding promise, if he had been as much in the power of the Son as of the Father? And why must the Holy Spirit be so much at the absolute disposal of either of them, if he was God in his own right, and of course independent, as much as the Father himself?
The Father, you say, is distinguished from the Son by not being called God in this place. Paternity is the
. See Vol. XII.
103. + See Luke v. 6, Vol. XIII. pp. 66, 67. | Letters, p. 101. (P.) Tracts, p. 207.
Letters, p. 102. (P.) Tracts, pp. 207, 208.
property which individuates the person. But from whom is the first principle distinguished ? From his creatures ? From thein he were more significantly distinguished by the name of God.”* But, Sir, to adopt your own language, have you forgot, or did you never learn, that we, who are mere mortal men, are taught to address God by the appellation of Father, as well as that Christ himself prayed to God by the same title? What weight, then, is there in the argument that you draw from this circumstance? Indeed, Sir, you must be happy in a very tractable flock, if such provision as this will satisfy them. You would make a sad exchange of your flock for mine. If such arguments do not of themselves expose a cause, I do not know what can do it. It is well for your cause that it has other supports besides arguments.
Considering the case of Stephen,t which is your capital argument for the worship of Jesus Christ, you say,
" What could be the blasphemy against God?" (With which he was charged.) “ What was there in the doctrine of the apostles which could be interpreted as blasphemy against God, except it was this, that they ascribed the divinity to one who had suffered publicly as a malefactor?”. You therefore say, " I shall always insist that the blessed Stephen died a martyr to the Deity of Christ.”'\ As you have formed this resolution, it would be presumption in me to imagine that I could change it, and perhaps all your opinions are as fixed as the laws of the Medes and Persians. Otherwise I might suggest that to a Jew, blasphemy against Moses, by whom God spake, would naturally be considered as blasphemy against the God by whom he spake; on the same principle as our Saviour says, Matt. x. 40, “He that receiveth you, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me.
Besides, we are expressly told what was the blasphemy with which Stephen was charged, Acts vi. 11-13, viz.
against Moses and against God, against this holy place and the law;" and this is fully explained as follows (ver. 14): “ For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us."'S This was the whole of the accusation, very clearly stated, and where do you
any thing said concerning the Deity of Christ ?
• Letters, p. 207. † Acts vii. 59. See Vol. XIII. p. 415.