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not have taken the alarm, and have urged this objection to Christianity, as teaching the belief of more gods than one, in the apostolic age? And yet no trace of any thing of this nature can be perceived in the whole history of the book of Acts, or any where else in the New Testament. As soon as ever the Jews had any pretence for it, we find them sufficiently quick and vehement in urging this their great objection to Christianity. To answer the charge of holding two or three Gods, is a very considerable article in the writings of several of the ancient Christian fathers. Why, then, do we find nothing of this kind in the age of the apostles? The only answer is, that there was no occasion for it, the doctrine of the divinity of Christ not having then been started. *
Consider, Sir, the charge that was advanced against Peter and John at the first promulgation of the gospel. You will find it amounts to nothing but their being disturbers of the people, by preaching in the name of Jesus. What was the accusation against Stephen (Acts vi. 13) but his speaking
blasphemous words” against the Temple and the Law Accompany the apostle Paul in all his travels, and attend to his discourses with the Jews in their synagogues, and their perpetual and inveterate persecution of him, you will find no trace of their so much as suspecting that he preached a new divinity, as the godhead of Christ must have appeared, and always has appeared to them.
In the year 58, Paul tells the elders of the church of Ephesus, ( Acts xx. 27,) that he had not failed to declare unto them the whole counsel of God. We may be confident, therefore, that, if he had any such doctrine to divulge, he must have taught it in the three years that he spent in that city from 54 to 57; and, as the unbelieving Jews were well apprized of all his motions, having laid wait for him on this very journey to Jerusalem, they must have been informed of ħis having taught this doctrine, and would certainly have carried the news of it to Jerusalem, where many of them attended, as well as he, at the ensuing feast of Pentecost. But if we attend Paul thither, where we have a very particular account of all the proceedings against him for the space of two years, we shall find no trace of any thing of
Athanasius strongly expresses this objection, as made by both Jews and Gentiles, to the incarnation of the Son of God, though as a thing that was gloried in by Christians. “ The Jews,” says he, “ reproach us for it; the Gentiles laugh at it; but we adore it.” “Ην Ιεδαιοι μεν διαβαλλεσιν, Ελληνες δε χλευαζεσιν, ημεις δε προσκυνομεν. . “ De Incarnatione Verbi," Athanasii Opera, I. p. 53. (P.)
the kind. All their complaints against him fell far short of this.
What was the occasion of the first clamour against him? Was it not, ( Acts xxi. 28,) that he taught “all men every where against the people, and against the Law, and against the Temple," and that he had “ brought Greeks” into it? Is it not plain that they had no more serious charge against him? Read his speech to the people, his defence before Felix, and again before Agrippa; you will find no trace of his having taught any doctrine so offensive to the Jews as that of the divinity of Christ must have been. Considering the known prejudices and the inveteracy of the Jews, no reasonable man need desire any clearer proof than this, that neither Paul nor any of the apostles had ever taught the doctrine of the divinity of Christ at that time, and this was so near the time of the wars of the Jews, and the dispersion of that people, that there was no opportunity of preaching it with effect afterwards.
Consider also the conduct of the Jewish Christians, who had strong prejudices against Paul, as we find in this part of his history ; and, according to the testimony of all historians, they retained those prejudices as long as they had any name; and after the destruction of Jerusalem, which was not long after the close of the history of the Acts, no trace can be found of their believing any such doctrine as the divinity of Christ. Now, though their enmity to Paul continued, and they never considered his writings as canonical Scripture, yet, to the very last, their objections to him amounted to nothing more than his being no friend to the law of Moses.
The resemblance between the character of the Ebioniles, as given by the early Christian fathers, and that of the Jewish Christians at the time of Paul's last journey to Jerusalem, is very striking. After he had given an account of his conduct to the more intelligent of them, they were satisfied with it; but they thought there would be great difficulty in satisfying others. - Thou seest, brother,” say they to him, ( Acts xxi. 20—24,) “how many thousands of Jews there are who believe, and they are all zealous of the law. And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses; saying, that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? The multitudes must needs come together, for they will hear that thou art come. Do, therefore, this that we say to thee. We have four men who have a vow on them. Them take and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads, and all may know that those things whereof they were informed concerning thee are nothing, but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law." So great a resemblance in some things, viz. their attachment to the law, and their prejudices against Paul, cannot but lead us to imagine that they were the same in other respects also, both being equally zealous observers of the law, and equally strangers to the doctrine of the divinity of Christ. And in that age all the Jews were equally zealous for the great doctrine of the unity of God, and their peculiar customs. Can it be supposed, then, that they would so obstinately retain the one, and so readily abandon the other?
These considerations (and much more might be added to enforce them) certainly affect the credibility of Christ having any nature superior to that of man; and, when they are sufficiently attended to, (as I suspect they never have been,) must shake the Arian hypothesis ; but they must be particularly embarrassing to those who, like you, maintain the perfect equality of the Son to the Father.
Considerations of this kind, if they occur to him, no person, who thinks at all, can absolutely neglect, so as to satisfy himself with having no hypothesis on the subject. You certainly find the apostles as well as the rest of the Jews without any knowledge of the divinity of Christ, with whom they lived and conversed as a man; and if they ever became acquainted with it, there must have been a time when it was either discovered by them, or made known to them; and the effects of the acquisition, or the communication of extraordinary knowledge, are in general proportionably conspicuous.
Had we had no written history of our Saviour's life, or of the preaching of the apostles, or only some very concise one ; still so very extraordinary an article as this would hardly have been unknown, or have passed unrecorded ; much less when the history is so full and circumstantial as it is.
Had there been any pretence for imagining that the Jews in our Saviour's time had any knowledge of the doctrine of the Trinity, and that they expected the second person in it in the character of their Messiah, the question I propose to you would have been needless. But nothing can
be more evident than that, whatever you may fancy with respect to more ancient times, every notion of the Trinity was obliterated from the minds of the Jews in our Saviour's time.
It is, therefore, not only a curious but a serious and important question, When was it introduced, and by what steps?. I have answered it on my hypothesis of its being an innovation and a corruption of the Christian doctrine ; do you the same on your idea of its being an essential
part of it.
I am, &c.
Of the Personification of the Logos. Dear Sir, Having considered all that you have advanced concerning the antiquity of the Unitarian doctrine, I proceed to attend to what you observe concerning the personification of the Logos by the platonizing Christians: for, that many of them did platonize, you are far from denying. “ If," you say,
" he hath succeeded no better in the proof of his third assertion, concerning the Platonic Christians of the second
age, the inventors, as he would have it, of our Lord's divinity; that the divinity which they set up was only of that secondary sort, which was admitted by the Arians, including neither eternity nor any proper necessity of existence; having the meer name of divinity, without any thing of the real form : if the proof of this third assertion should be found to be equally infirm with that of the other two, his notion of the gradual progress of opinions from the meer Unitarian doctrine to the Arian, and from the Arian doctrine to the Athanasian faith, must be deemed a meer dream or fiction in every part.
In the first place I must set you right with respect to my own idea, which you have totally misconceived, though you have undertaken to refute it; and this strange mistake of yours runs through the whole of your work. Those platonizing Christians who personified the Logos were not Arians : for their Logos was an attribute of the Father, and not any thing that was created of nothing, as the Arians held Christ to have been. It is well known, as Beausobre
+ Charge, p. 50. (P.) Tracts, pp. 50, 51.
observes, that they were not Arians, but the orthodox, that platonized. Constantine, as I have observed, * “ in his oration to the fathers of the Council of Nice, speaks in commendation of Plato, as having taught the doctrine of a second God, derived from the Supreme God, and subservient to his will.'"
Among the proofs of the origin of the Son, according to the early orthodox writers, I first quoted a passage in Athenagoras, which you translate somewhat differently from me; but not so as to affect my conclusion from it. For, he evidently asserts that the Logos was eternal in God, only because God was always royixos, rational, which entirely excludes proper personification.t Can reason, as it exists in man, be called a person, merely because man is a rational being ?
Besides, this is the only one of all my authorities that you have thought proper to examine; whereas there are others, which you have overlooked, so plain and determinate, that it is impossible for you to interpret then otherwise than I have done; as they evidently imply that it depended upon the Father's will that the Logos should have a proper personification, and become a Son, with respect to him. The passages which I have quoted from Tertullian and Lactantius, I whose orthodoxy you cannot question, I call upon you particularly to consider.
There is a passage in Tertullian which shews how ready the platonizing Christians were to revert to the idea of an attribute of God in their use of the word Logos.
"We have said that God made the universe by his word, reason, and power; and it appears that among your philosophers also, the Logos, that is, speech and reason, was the maker of the universe. For this, Zeno supposed to be the maker and disposer of all things, that the same is called fate, and god, and the mind of Jupiter, and the necessity of all things.”'S The Platonic Trinity, at least the second person in it, probably had its origin in personification ; and in this the Christians were too ready to follow them, by converting the Logos of St. John into a proper person.
• Vol. V.
+ See Athenagoras, p. 82. (P.) | Vol. V. pp. 32-34.
S“ Jam ediximus Deum universitatem hanc mundi verbo, et ratione, et virtute molitum. Apud vestros quoque sapientes, noor, id est sermonem, atque rationem, constat artificem videri universitatis. Hunc enim Zeno determinat factitatorem, qui cuncta in dispositione formaverit; eundem et fatum vocari, et deum, et animum Jovis, et necessitatem omnium rerum." Apologeticus, Sect. xxi. p. 18. (P.) Sec Reeves's Apologies, 1700, I. p. 256, Note h.