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« account of the weaknefs of his hearers, “ who were not able to receive the perfect « doctrine. For which reason, having in “ the beginning of the epistle philosophized “ but a little concerning the divinity of “ Christ, he presently changed his dis“ course, and the epistle is full of low
things*.” This he gives from Photius. Again, after having observed that the author of the epistle to the Hebrews had spoken of the naked word of God, he fays, that “ he
returned to the incarnation, left he should “ confound his reader with the sublimity ~ of his doctrinet.”
· We see then, that, in the opinion of these Fathers (and some of them who write in
* Στοιχεια αρχης, την ενανθρωπησιν λεγει , ώςπερ γαρ επι των γραμμαίων αρωλον τα τοιχεια μανθανομεν. αθως και επι των θειων λογιων : εδει πρωλον τα περι της ενανθρωπήσεως διδασκεσθαι. ταυλα γαρ ταις απισοις είι νηπιαις ακραις χωρήλα. ως το γε αερι της Θεσίγλος τα χρισα φιλοσοφειν, τελειων ην λοιπον, ορας την αίλιαν δι ην τοις ταπεινοις εμφιλοχωρεί και
δια την των ακαονίων ασθενειαν. 8κ ισχυονίων τα τελεια δεξα. σθαι· διο και παρα τας αρχας της επιςολης βραχεα φιλοσοφησας περι της θεοτήλας τα χρισα, ευθυς καλεπαυσε τον λογον. των μεντοι ταπεινων η επισολη γεμει. Ιbid. p. 352.
+ Ερκως σερι γυμνα τα θεα λογα, ηλθεν εις την ενανθρωπησιν, ίνα μη τω υψει των ειρημεναν ιλιγγιασωσι. In Heb. cap. Ι. vol. 2. p. 320.
this manner lived pretty early, though others of them wrote in a later period) there were very mysterious and difficult doctrines to be revealed, of which no person to whom chriftianity was preached had the least conception, and to which it was apprehended they must be exceedingly averse. Let us now see in what manner they supposed that our Saviour and the apostles conducted themfelves in this nice circumstance, and what period it was that they thought to be the most proper for making the
great discovery. To give some idea of the nature of this question, I would observe, that, if it should appear that a discovery of so great magnitude, as the Fathers represent this to have been, made no noise at all at the time fixed for the discovery, if it excited no particular attention neither occasioning any doubt or controversy among christians themselves, nor bringing any objection to their doctrine from their enemies; it will afford a strong reason to suppose that no such discovery was made at that particular time. The Jews, to whom the gospel was first preached, as the Fathers admitted, expected no
thing more than a man for their Messiah. They were fully sensible that no Jew had any idea of his having pre-existed at all, and much less of his having held any
office of importance before he came into the world. When was it, then, that the Jews, to whom the gospel was preached, were taught that Christ had pre-existed, that he was the logos of God, the maker of the world under God, or properly God himself? Was it in our Saviour's own life-time? Was it at the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost? Or was it in a later period of the gospel history? If no traces can be
perceived of any such discovery, in any period of the gospel history, an argument may be drawn from the consideration of it, highly unfavourable to the doctrine of Christ hav. ing any nature superior to that of man ; and when this circumstance shall be sufficiently attended to (as I suspect it never has been yet) the Arian hypothetis must be greatly shaken, but especially that of 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. We 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 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, 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 Merfiah, the question 1 propose would have been needless. But nothing can be more
evident than that, whatever some may fancy with respect to more ancient times, every notion of a 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 ; let others do the saine, on the idea of its being an essential part of it. Let us then see, what it is that the christian Fathers, who themselves believed the preexistence and divinity of Christ, and who were much nearer than we are to the time when the gospel was promulgated, have said on this subject.