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became no less the object of worship than if his nature had been originally divine."*
This, as far as I know, is advanced on your own authority only. I desire to know where you find that the Ebionites paid any kind of adoration to Christ after he was ascended to heaven, more than Theodotus did. As the extraordinary power communicated to Christ, while he was on earth, did not make his nature more than human, so neither could any power conferred upon him after his ascension; and if God alone is the proper object of worship, Christ, being still not God, is as improper an object of worship now as he was before. If any ancient Unitarians worshipped Christ after his ascension, (of which I believe there is no evidence,) Theodotus might do it, and the Ebionites might not, for any thing that appears to the contrary. Socinus prayed to Christ, though he considered him as a mere man, in his present ex
As to your supposition that Theodotus might be the first person who taught the Unitarian doctrine in Rome,† which is a second plea which you advance for the credit of Eusebius, he himself says nothing about it. And as Tertullian says, that in his time the Unitarians were the greater part of the believers, it is highly improbable that there should be none of them at Rome, where there was a conflux of all religions and of all sects.
You here speak of the impiety of the Unitarians. Before you repeat any expressions of this kind, I beg you would pause a little, and consider how such language might be retorted upon yourself. If it be impiety to reduce a God to the state of a man, is it not equally impious to raise any man to a state of equality with God, that God who has declared that he will not give his glory to another, who has no equal, and who, in this respect, styles himself a jealous God? This you may say respects the gods of the Heathens. But what were the Heathen gods but either the sun, moon and stars, or dead men, all creatures of God, and deriving their power from him? And if Christ be not God, he must be a creature of God too; for there can be no medium between creature and creator.
I do not call it impiety in you, but it sounds unpleasantly in my ears, to apply, as you do, the term holy Father to Athanasius. The Catholics, I believe, apply it to Ignatius
Charge, p. 37. (P.) Tracts, pp. 37, 38.
Loyola. Our Saviour applied it to his God and Father, and I wish it had always remained so appropriated. It is high time to drop that style, even with respect to a more holy man than Athanasius was.
II. In a work of great variety and extent I was well aware that I could not expect to escape all oversights; but I was confident they could not be of much consequence. The expectation has been verified in both its parts. You have set me right with respect to the exactness of two of my quotations; and I should have thanked you for it if you had noted the oversights with good nature, which would have done you no discredit, and might not have lessened the weight of your animadversions.
But in some of the cases in which you pretend to set me right, you are much more mistaken than I have been. This is particularly the case with respect to your censure of Dr. Clarke and myself, concerning the piety ascribed to the ancient Unitarians by Origen. I have lately procured the original, and I appeal to our readers whether you have not misrepresented the fact, and not Dr. Clarke or myself.
You say, that "Origen says, not that they were pious, but that they boasted that they were pious, or affected piety. Piety," you add, "and the affectation of piety, belong to opposite characters."* According to you, therefore, Origen considered these Unitarians as impious persons, the very reverse of pious. But if the passage be carefully inspected, it will appear that Origen, notwithstanding he uses the word EUXOμves, was far from representing these ancient Unitarians as only pretending to piety, and boasting of it; but considered them as persons who really dreaded lest, by admitting Christ to be God, they should infringe upon the honour that was due to the Father only.
"By these means," he says, "may be explained that which greatly disturbs many persons, who plead a principle of piety, and who fear to make two Gods." He afterwards recurs to the same subject, and introduces it as an objection of persons with whom he would not trifle, and whom he was far from charging with hypocrisy. "But since," he says, "it is probable that many may be offended, because we say that one is the true God, namely the Father, and besides this true God there are many who are made gods by participa
* Charge, p. 34. (P.) Tracts, p. 34.
+ Και το πολλες φιλοθεος είναι ευχόμενες ταρασσον, ευλαβεμενες δυο αναγορευσαι Θεός. Comment. in Johannem, ed. Huetii, 1668, II. p. 46. D. (P.)
tion; fearing that the glory of him who excels all creatures should be brought down to that of others who attained the appellation of gods, &c."* On the whole, therefore, I think that Origen must have thought as respectfully of these early Unitarians as I had represented him to do, and that he really considered them as objecting to the doctrine of the divinity of Christ from the very best principles.
In translating the passage in Theophilus, in which mention is made of God's speaking to nothing but his own word and wisdom, I inadvertently used the particle or for and,† as you observe; but I do not see how the right translation is at all less favourable to my argument, as it may still be interpreted of God's speaking, as it were, to himself, or to his own attributes, and by no means necessarily implies that the word and wisdom of God were distinct persons. However, I have other instances in proof of what I have advanced that are not liable to any charge of ambiguity, which it therefore behoved you to consider.
I also mistranslated a sentence in Theophilus, concerning his Trinity.§ It was in consequence of his using a singular verb instead of a plural; but I have no doubt of your translation || being right, and shall adopt it. I am still, however, fully satisfied, that neither Theophilus, nor any person of his age, made a proper Trinity of persons in the Godhead; for they had no idea of the perfect equality of the second and third persons to the first.
You say, "that they scrupled not to ascribe an equal divinity to all the three persons." If by equal divinity you mean something that might be equally called divine, though in a different sense, I admit it; but that will make nothing for your Trinity. And that the fathers, before the Council of Nice, asserted, in the most explicit manner, the superiority of the Father to the Son, see my third section, in which you will find unanswerable proof of it.
Whenever the Antenicene fathers used the term God, absolutely, they always meant the Father only, as you do not
* Αλλ' επει εικος προσκόψειν τινας τοις ειρημένοις, ένος μεν αληθινό Θε8 τ8 Πατρος απαγ γελλόμενο, παρα δε τον αλήθινον Θεον θεων πλειόνων τη μετοχῇ τε Θες γινομενων, ευλαβε μενος την τε πασαν κτισιν ὑπερεχοντος δοξαν εξισωσαι τοις λοιποις της Θεος προσηγορίας τυγχάνεσι, &c. Comment. in Johannem, ed. Huetii, 1668, II. p. 47. C. (P.)
+ Vol. V. p. 31. See Appendix, No. III.
§ Vol. V. p. 62.
Charge, p. 59. (P.) "The three days, which preceded the creation of the luminaries, were types of the Trinity; of God, and of his Word, and of his Wisdom." Tracts, pp. 60, 61.
¶ Charge, p. 61. (P.) Tracts, p. 62.
deny. But if, in their idea, the Father had been no more entitled to the appellation of God than the Son, or the Spirit, they would certainly have confined the use of the word God to express divinity in general, and have used the word Father, and not God, when they really meant the Father only, exclusively of the two other persons. Had there been no proper correlative to the word Son, as a person, your explanation might have been attended to; but since the term Father is perfectly correlative to the, term Son, and as familiar, it would certainly have been used by them to denote the Father, as well as the term Son to denote the Son. It is natural, therefore, to conclude, that their custom of using the term God to denote the Father only, was derived to them from earlier times, in which no other than the Father was deemed to be God, in any proper sense of the word. This language was continued long after, from a change of ideas, it ceased to be proper.
Very happily the word God is still, in common use, appropriated to the Father, so that none but professed theologians are habitually Trinitarians, and probably not even these at all times; and while the Scriptures are read without the comments of men, the Father alone will be considered as God, and the sole object of worship, exclusively of the Son or the Spirit. But while a different doctrine is taught in Christian schools, and continually held up to the world in the writings of Christian divines, those who are not Christians, and who will not take the pains to study the Scriptures themselves, must receive a very unfavourable impression of our religion; and the manifest absurdity and impiety of our doctrine will effectually prevent its reception. by them. I therefore think it of the greatest consequence to Christianity, that this doctrine of the Trinity (which I consider as one of its most radical corruptions) should be renounced in the most open and unequivocal manner by all those whose minds are so far enlightened as to be convinced that it is a corruption and an innovation in the Christian doctrine, the reverse of what it was in its primitive purity, and that they should exert themselves to enlighten the minds of others. I am, &c.
The Catechuman of the Church of England, on rehearsing the miscalled Apostles' Creed, which contains no hint of a Trinity, is immediately asked, "What dost thou chiefly learn in these articles of thy belief?" The reply is unqualified Tritheism, for he is taught to believe" in God the Father-in God the Son," and "in God the Holy Ghost." The Assembly of Divines, with more cautiou, make their Catechumen declare that the "three persons in the Godhead are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory." Such is the milk for babes provided by these nursing fathers.
THE CONCLUDING LETTER.
I HAVE now finished my Reply to your animadversions on my History, omitting nothing that I think to be of any consequence to your argument. If you should think that I have overlooked any thing material, and please to point it out to me, I will answer it as explicitly as I can; for I hope that this will only be the beginning of our correspondence on the subject, as I would gladly discuss it with you in the fullest manner.
I only wish for your own sake, and for the more advantageous investigation of the truth, that you would drop that sarcastic manner of writing, which is so conspicuous in the greater part of your performance, and, I should think, peculiarly improper for the occasion on which it was composed. That mode of writing is also inconsistent with the compliments you sometimes pay me, unless you meant them to be ironical also.
Some of those compliments are, I think, rather imprudent, and unfavourable to your purpose. "In philosophical subjects," you say, "Dr. Priestley would be the last to reason from principles assumed without proof; but in divinity and ecclesiastical history he expects that his own assertion, or that of writers of his own persuasion, however uninformed or prejudiced, should pass with the whole Christian world for proof of the boldest assumptions.'
You should, indeed, Sir, be cautious how you lay these things before your readers, because it is very possible that they may draw a very different conclusion from them, and think that, if I have been so cautious and so successful in the investigation of truth in one province, I may, having the same talents, make the same successful application of them in other provinces; for the same mental habits generally accompany the same men in every scene of life, and in every mode of exertion. Your readers, therefore, may think it very improbable that a work written with so much care and attention, by such a person as you describe me to be, should deserve the character which you give of mine. "No work,' you say, "was perhaps ever sent abroad under the title of a history, containing less of truth than his, in proportion to its
* Charge, p. 29. (P.) Tracts, p. 28.