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Pierce, and their followers; and I do not knov/ that any other hypothesis has appeared in writing, ,except that it is alluded to in theTheological Repository.
IV. Arguments from History against the Divinity and Pre-existenceof Christ; or a summary view cf the evidence for the primitive christians having held the dotlrine of the simple humanity of Christ.
N.B. To each article is subjoined a reference to publications in which the subject is discussed: H. signifying the History of the Corruptions of Christianity, vol. i. R. Riply to the Monthly Review, and L. Letters to Lr. Horjley, To each article is also subjoined a reierence to the iollowing Maxims of Historical Criticism.
I. It is acknowledged by early writers of the orthodox persuasion, that two kinds of heresy existed in the time of the apostles, viz. that of those who held that Christ was simply a man, and that of the Gnostics, of whom some believed that Christ was man only in appearance, and others that it was only Jesus and not the Christ (a pre-existent spirit who descended from heaven and dwelt in him) that suffered on the cross. Now the apostle John animadverts with the greatest severity upon the latter, but makes no mention oi the former; and can it be thought probable that he would pass it without censure, if he had thought it to be an error; considering how great, and how dangerous
an error it has alwaya been thought by those who> have considered it as being an error at all? Maxim 12. H. p. 9.
2. The great objection that jews have always made to christianity in its present state is, that it enjoins the worship of more gods than one; and it is a great article with the christian writers of the second and following centuries to answer this objection. But it does not appear in all the book of Acts, in which we hear much of the cavils of the jews, both in Jerusalem and in many parts of the Roman empire, that they made any such objection to christianity then; nor do the apostles either there, or in their epistles, advance any thing with a view to such an objection. It may be presumed, therefore, that no such oft'ence to the jews had then been given, by the preaching of a doctrine so offensive to them as that of the divinity of Christ must have been. Maxim 12, 13. L. p. 59.
3. As no jew had originally any idea of their Messiah being more than a man, and as the apostles and the first christians had certainly the fame idea at first concerning Jesus, it may be supposed that, if ever they had been informed shat Jesus was not a man, but either God himself, or the maker of the world under God, we should have been able to trace the time and the circumslances in which so great a discovery was made to them; and also that we should have perceived the effect which it had
upon their minds; at least by some change in their manner of speaking concerning him. But nothing of this kind Is to be found in the gospels, in the book of Acts, or in any of the epistles. We perceive marks enow of other new views of things, es« pecially of the call of the gentiles to partake of the privileges os the gospel; and we hear much of the disputes and the eager contention which it occasioned. But how much more must all their prejudices have been shocked by the information that the person whom they at first took to be a mere man was not a man, but either God himself, or the maker of the world under God? Maxim 13. L.
4. All the Jewish christians, after the destruction of Jerusalem, which was immediately after the age of the apostles, are said to have been Ebionites; and these were only of two sorts, some os them holding the miraculous conception of our Saviour, and others believing that he was the son of Joseph as well as of Mary. None of them are said to have believed either that he was God, or the maker of the world under God. And is it at all credible that the body of the Jewish christians, if they had ever been instructed by the apostles in the doctrine of the divinity or pre-exislence of Christ, would so soon, and so generally, if not universally, have abandoned that faith? Maxim 6. H. p. 7. R. p. 3: L. p. 14.
5. Had Christ been considered as God, or tire maker of the world under God, in the early ages of the church, he would naturally bare been the proper object of prayer to christians; nay, more so than God the Father, with whom, on the scheme of the doctrine of the trinity, they must have known that they had less immediate intercourse. But prayers to Jesus Christ were not used in early times, but gained ground gradually, with the opinion of Christ being God, and the object of worship. Maxim 14. L. p. 18.
6. Athanasius represents the apostles as obliged to use great caution not to offend their sirst converts with the doctrine cf Christ's divinity, and as forbearing to urge that topic till they were first well established in the belief of his being the Meffiah. He adds, that the jews, being in an error on this subject, drew the gentles into it. Chrysostcm, and the christian fathers in general, agree with Athanasius in this representation of the silence of the apostles in their first preaching, both with respect to the divinity of Christ and his miraculous conception. They represent them as leaving their disciples to learn the doctrine of Christ's divinity, by way of inference from certain expressions; and they do not pretend to produce any instance in which they taught that doctrine clearly and explicitly. Maxim 13. H. p. 12. L. p. 37. 53.
7. Hfgcsippus, the first christian historian, him
self self a jew, and therefore probably an Ebionite, enumerating the heresies of his time, mentions several of the gnostic kind, but not that of Christ being a mere man. He moreover says, that in travelling to Rome, where he arrived in the time of Ahicetus, he found that all the churches he visited held the faith which had been taught. by Christ and the apostles, which, in his opinion, was probably that of Christ being not God, but mat only. Justin Martyr also, and Clemens Alexandrinus, who wrote after Hegesippus, treat largely of heresies in general, without mentioning, or alluding to, the unitarians. Maxim 8. H. p. 8. R. p. 8.
8. All those who were deemed heretics in early times were cut osf from the communion of those .who called themselves the orthodox christians, and went by some particular name'; generally that of their leader. But the unitarians among the gentiles were not expelled from the assemblies of christians, but worshipped along with those who were called orthodox, and had no particular name till the time of Victor, who excommunicated Theodotus; and a long time after that Epiphanius endeavoured to give them the name of Alogi. And though the Ebionites, probably about or before this time, had been excommunicated by the gentile christians, it was, as Jerom feys, tnly oa account of their rigid