Billeder på siden

not say that "

Badcock, capable of the things with which you charge me, I should

virtues were


great, or amiable." * By way of softening those charges, which materially affect my moral character, you sometimes (though it makes a poor compensation for defects of a moral nature) introduce compliments (whether fincerely or ironically is equally indifferent to me) respecting merit of a philosophical kind. These also, for want of information, I am unable to return. For if I were asked what improvements in science the world owes to you, I really could not tell ; and I think it is very poffible, that, in fact, you are as much a stranger to my pursuits, as

· Though from the age of feventeen to twenty-seven, I believe, ! read as much Greek as almost any man can be supposed to have read in the same time, and after that taught it nine years, the last fix of them at Warrington, and chiefly the higher Greek classics (for the elements of the language were not taught in that academy) I do not pretend ever to have been properly at home in the language. I mean to as to read it with the lame ease, with which it is cominon to read Latin or French (indeed I have not yet met with any man who pretended that he could do this) and having given less attention to that language since I have had the means of employing my time better, your Scotch correspondent may be right in observing, that I am but very moderately skilled in it, and at my time of life, my acquaintance with it is not likely to improve. However, such as it is, I shall make the best use that I can of it in the larger work on which I am now employed. It is pollible, however, that I might make but a bad exchange of the remains of my Greek literature for yours, or that of your Scotch correspondent."

• As to yourself in particular, who are so proud of being a churchman, it would have been happy for the public, and likewise à particular satisfaction to myself, if you had a greater share of that learning of which you think your church pofleffed. More information would then have been given to our readers by both of us ; and at least I might have been able to say, with the person who examined Dr. Clarke, Probe me exercuifti. All I can now say is, that I have made some use of your ignorance, though I should have made more of your knowledge, to throw light on the subject of our discuffion. My task has been much too easy ; þut I would willingly have done more, if there had been any occafion for it, or indeed a propriety in it.'

The following paragraph in our author's preface pleases by the union it presents to us of sound philosophy and moral rectitude.

• As I now consider this controversy as closed, it is probable that till my larger work be printed, the public will hear no more from me on this subject. But if any thing more plausible than has yet been urged should appear, I shall have an opportunity of noticing it in the Theological Repository, which I hope foon to open again; and if any person will give his name, and propose any difficulty whatever relating to the present difcuffion, fo that I shall fee reason to think it proceeds from a love of truth, and a desire of information, I here promise that I will speak fully to it, and I shall be as explicit as

I potlibly


[ocr errors]



poffibly can. But to be more so than I have hitherto been is im. poffible. Such as I have been, the public hall always find me. I have no reserve or concealment with respect to myself, and I shall always endeavour to preserve as much candour as possible with re. gard to others. But if I have been addicted to the artifices and de ceits that Dr. Horsley so vehemently accuses me of, and if I have ac. tually practised them to the age of fifty, I shall hardly lay them aside

Let the public, therefore, bę upon their guard against me, and “ watch me as narrowly” as he says, is necessary, Greaf changes in character and habit feldom take place at my age.'

We now proceed to lay before our readers an extract of those passages in Dr. Priestley's rejoinder, which seem to go the farthest towards invalidating the objections of his oppo

We have always conceived it to be a part of the wildom of a man who writes for the public, to leave fomething

to be made out by the fagacity of his readers; and, in several of the evidences adduced in this controversy, we are per suaded that the opposition has already appeared (magnified probably, or diminished according to the preconceptions of the individual) so nugatory or so decisive, that no additional disquisition respecting them could possibly obtain either attention or success. And indeed this plan of concentration and abridgment is the only one, that can în any degree be reconciled to the nature of a publication fo miscellaneous, as that, in which we are engaged.

1. 1: : You, Mr. Archdeacon, are pleased to deny the exiftence of the Ebionites in the times of the apostles, contrary, I will venture to say to the unanimous testimony of all antiquity. In the opinion of Epiphanius (Hær. 29.) they were not at that time only a fect, but together with the Nazarenes a very formidable feet of Jewish Christians. Jerome, giving an account of the reafons that moved John to write his Gospel, mentions the Ebionites as a flourishing feet in the time of that apostle.' Opera, Catalogue of Ecclesiastical Writers.

2. 'How differently do we judge of things being remarkable, or extraordinary, I see nothing at all extraordinary in the omission of the Cerinthians in this list of heretics by Hegefippus, as they were only one branch of the Gnostics, several of whom are in his lift ; and it is not improbable that these Cerinthians having been one of the earliest branches, might have been very inconsiderable, perhaps extinct in his time; I do not know that they are mentioned by any ancient writer as existing so late as the time of Hegesippus ; and as they seem to have been been pretty much confined to some parts of Asia Minor, and especially Galatia, which was very remote from the feat of the Ebionites, they might never have extended so far; and therefore he might not have heard much about them. Whereas the Ebionites were at that very time in their full vigour, and though their opinions (being then almost universal in what was callej the catholic church) bad not begun to give offence, they were afterwards the obiec of

the most violent hatred to the other Christians, and continued to be so as long as they fubfiited.'

2. “If after what I have seen in your charge, and in these Letters, I could be surprised at any thing you say on these subjects, it would be at your fu confidently maintaining, p. 79. that Justin Martyr had a view to the unitarians in thefe accounts of heresy in general, when any person, with a small portion of that reading of which you pretend" to so much, must know that every word and phrase in them, especially the charge of pride, atheism, and blafphemy, is appropriated to the Gnoftics, and the Gnostics only. I must take the liberty to say, that you know nothing at all of the ancient ecclefiaftical writers, if you can imagine that the unitarians are ever defcribed by them in this manner. I am even ashamed to argue with any man who, if he has read the early fathers at all, has read them to io little purpose.

To me it is indisputably clear, that Justin Martyr considered no other class of persons as heretics, unfit to have communion with Christians, but the Gnostics only. Let any reasonable man but compare these passages in which he censures the Gnostics with so much severity, with those in which he speaks of the unitarians (in which I still am of opinion he makes an apology to them for his own principles, but which certainly imply no censure) and I think he cannot but conclude with me, that unitarianifin was confidered in those times in a very different light from what it was afterwards, and is now.'

(3.) ' It is truly remarkable, and may not have been observed by you, as indeed it was not by myself till very lately, that Irenæus, who has written fo large a work on the subject of herefy, after the time of Justin, and in a country where it is probable there were fewer unitarians, again and again characterizes them in such a manner, as makes it evident, that even he did not consider any other persons as being properly heretics besides the Gnoftics. He ex. presses a great dislike of the Ebionites ; but though he appears to have known none of them befides those who denied the miraculous conception, he never calls them heretics.'

(4.) ! One of your proofs, p. 83. that unitarianism was profcribed in the primitive church in the time of Tertullian, is his saying that the regula fidei in his treatise De Præfiriptione was the belief of all Christians. But every writer, if we wish not to cavil, but to understand his real meaning, must be interpreted in a manner consistent with himself. It is a degree of candour that is due to all writers; and what you strongly plead for in the case of Eufebius. Now, concerning what we now call the a; oftles creed, Tertullian expresses himself in such a manner (in his treatise De Virginis Vilan. dis) as gives us clearly to understand that this was all that was ne: cessary to the faith of a Christian. This creed might be fubfcribed by any unitarian who believed the miraculous conception. The other creed, therefore, which is not the apostles, must be his own comment or exposition of the proper regula fidei, or creed (and in deed it has all the appearance of a comment, as may be seen by the comparison) and all that we can conclude from it, is that it contains his own opinion, which is well known from his writings in general.

[ocr errors]

prove that it

To prove that the regula fidei in the treatise De Prescriptione was the belief of all Christians in that

age, you must was the creed that all Christians gave their allent to ; and this assent was only given at the sime of baptism. But that regula fidei (which fupposes the pre-existence of Christ) is no where to be found but in this particular paffage in the writings of Tertullian; whereas that which is called the apostles creed is, with some variations, frequently mentioned, and is known to have been the only creed that was used at baptism in the time of Tertullian, and long afterwards,

That Tertullian alluded to none but the Gnostics in the regula fidei of his treatise De Præfcriptione is evident from every clause in it, and from the object of the work, which respects the Gnostics only, the unitarians being only occasionally and slightly mentioned in it. Though, therefore, a single feature in this account is found in the unitarians, as well as in the Gnostics, it is the whole character that we are to attend to, and not that feature in particular.

• In all other places in which I have found Tertullian to speak of beresy in general, it is most evident that his ideas went no farther than to the opinions of the Gnoftics, except that he once calls Hebion a heretic, and then he expressly makes his heresy to conlist in his observance of the Jewish ritual.'

III. 10. I am still of opinion, that the passage of Athanafius, ex. hibits sufficient marks of great caution, and of the apostles leading their converts to the knowledge of the divinity of Christ

, by very diftant and uncertain inferences indeed, such as Jews, so previoutly persuaded as he represents them to have been, of the fimple humanity of their Mefkah, would not very readily understand.

Now if this caution was requisice in the first instance, and with respect to the first converts that the apolles made, it was equally requisite with respect to the rest, at least for the sake of others who were not yet converted ; unleis the first should have been enjoined secrefy. on that head. For whenever it had been known that the apostles were preaching not such a Messiah as they expected, riz. a man like themselves, but the eternal God, the difference was to great, that a general alarm must have been spread, and the conversion of the reft of the Jews (to a doctrine which must have appeared to highly improbable to them) must have been impeded. We may therefore presume, that the apostles must have connived at this itate of ignorance, concerning the divinity of Christ in their Jewish converts, till there was little hopes of making any farther converts among the Jews, and till the gospel began to be preached to the Gentiles.'

You say, “ the expectation of a great deliverer, or benefactor 56 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 Mefliah certainly exifted among the Jews, and of course among their profelytes ; but if any fuch idea had been universal among the Gentiles, so as to intereit them in diicutions about the nature of this great deliverer, as whether he was to be God or man, &c. we Mhould certainly hare perceived ford traces of


it in their writings. It might have been expected that on account both of the intereiting nature, and of the obfcurity, of the subject, there wouid have been different opinions about it, that it would have been a common topic in their philosophical schools ; and that their hiftorians would have given some account of the origin and foundation of this universal opinion.

• You will produce, I suppose, Virgil's fixth Eclogue. But, Sir, can you believe that even Virgil himself really expected any such person as he describes ? The ute that the poets might make of a vague report of a prophecy, brought probably from the east, and ultimately from the Jewish fcriptures (but serioully believed by no person that we know ot) merely to embellish a poem, is one thing, but the actual and universal expectation of fuch a person, is another.'

IV. 2. ' Struck with this extraordinary narration, of a transaction of ancient times, for which you refer to no authority besides that of Mosheim, I looked into bim; but even there I do not find all the particulars that you mention. He says nothing of the Jewish Christians having observed their law more from habit than any principle of conscience; nothing of their making no scruple to renounce their law, in order to partake in the privileges of the Ælian colony; nothing of any Jewish Christians removing from Pella and fettling in Ælia ; nothing of the retiring of the rest to the North of Galilee ; or of this new origin of the Nazarenes there. For all these particulars, therefore, learned Sir, you must have fome other au. thority in petto, besides that of Mofheim; and you ought to have produced it.

Also, as you adopt the affertions of Mofheim, I could wish to know his authority for suppofing, that there was any sueh thing as a church, or part of a church, of Jewish Christians at Jerusalem, after the destruction of that city by Adrian. As to your additions, they are a series of such improbable circumstances, as hardly any historian of the time could make credible. Bodies of men do not, whatever you may imagine, suddenly change their opinions, and much less their customs and habits : least of all would an act of violence produce that effect; and, of all mankind, the experiment was the least likely to answer with Jews. If it had produced any effect for a time, the old customs and habits would certainly have returned when the danger was over. You might just as well suppose that all the Jews in Jerusalem began to speak Greek, as well as abandoned their ancient customs, in order to enjoy the valuable privileges of the Ælian colony, And you would have this to alledge in your favour, that from that time the bishops of Jerusalem were all Greeks, the public offices were, no doubt, performed in the Greek language ; and the church of Jerusalem was, indeed, in all respects, as inuch a Greek church, as that of Antioch.

* As you say, with respect to myself, " that a man ought " to be accomplished in ancient learning, who thinks he may escape " with impunity, and without detection, in the attempt to brow" beat the world with a peremptory and reiterated allegation of “ testimonies that exist not;" how much more accomplished ought that man to be, who now writes the history of transactions in the third century without alledging any testimony at all?


« ForrigeFortsæt »