Page images
PDF
EPUB

posed to do so; he endeavours, how. except by faith, and ignorant people ever, to soften this fact in favour of must fall if they cannot be persuaded his main argument, by calling these to rest in faith and avoid curious quespersons philosophical Unitarians; and tions.” In these quotations I cannot often intimates, that the common peo- see any thing but what may be as prople, who were the majority of be- perly referred to Sabellians as to simple lievers, were simple Unitarians, holding Unitarians. That the “ multitude," the pure truth, undisguised by the called by Athanasius, “ persons of prevailing philosophy of the age. I low understanding,” and by Tertullian, would just remark here, that the wri. simple, ignorant and unlearned," ters he has quoted make no such dis- must, because thus named, be simple tinction: they do not inform us that Unitarians, is mere gratuitous inferthe unicarned Unitarians differed in ence, and nothing like a fact expressed doctrinal notions from their learned by those authors. Sabellians might leaders. The Doctor's distinction I with propriety distinguish themselves consider as mere hypothesis, unsup- from Trinitarians, as "worshipers of ported by facts, and indeed opposed by one God only,” and “ bawl out" (as them. Some persons may, perhaps, Tertullian says) “ for the monarchy.” be surprised that I should venture to And also the common people might make such a declaration ; they may prefer Sabellianism, as more easily be ready to ask, “ Has he not adduced understood and less liable to objecplain proof, iņ two or three quotations tions than the Trinitarian doctrine. at least, that the common people, or In pages 263 and 264, are the folmajority of believers, in the times re- lowing passages from Origen: “Some ferred to, were really simple Unita- are adorned with the Logos itself, rians ?" I answer, No; those authors others with a Logos which is akin to are of too late a date for the purpose. it, seeming to them to be the true I know of only three to whom he ap- Logos, who know nothing but Jesus peals for direct proof, and two of them, Christ and him crucified, who look if not all, (besides being too late,) only at the word made flesh.” “There although they do speak of the common are who partake of Logos which was people, yet say not a word which im- from the beginning, which was with plies simple Unitarianism. I will give God, and which was God, &c., that their words as quoted in the History speak of him as the Logos of God, of Early Opinions. In Vol. III. p. and the Logos that was with him; but 265, is the following passage from there are others who know nothing Tertullian : "The simple, the ignorant but Jesus Christ and bim crucified, the and the unlearned, who are always the Logos that was made flesh; such is greater part of the body of Christians, the multitude of those who are called since the rule of faith transfers the wor- Christians.” To“ know nothing but ship of many gods to the true God, not Jesus Christ and him crucified, the understanding that the unity of God is Logos that was made flesh;” and to not to be maintained except with the “ acknowledge Christ” only “ accordæconomy, dread this æconomy, ima- ing to the flesh,” may be thought to gining that this number and disposition imply a denial of his divinity, and a of a Trinity, is a division of the Unity. belief, that in his person he was no They, therefore, will have that we are more than man ; but it is not erident worshipers of two and even three Gods; to me, that Origen meant more than bilt that they are the worshipers of one that the people he mentions knew God only. We say they hold the nothing of the Logos as distinct from monarchy. Even the Latins have the Father, except in its humble state learned to bawl out for the monarchy; of incarnation, or of prolation from and the Greeks themselves will not the Father, they being ignorant of its understand the economy.” P. 268, personal pre-existence with the Father Athanasius is quoted as saying, “It before the world was. It is remarkgrieves those who stand up for the able that Origen says,

“ Some are holy faitli, that the multitude, and adorned with the Logos itself, others especially persons of low understand- with a Logos that is akin to it;" for ing, should be infected with those the Logos of the Sabellians might blasphemies. Things that are sublime truly be considered as akin to that of and difficult are not to be arnrehended the orthodox, both believing the Logos

to be that of the Father, by which he Doctor, indeed, denies that Theodotus made the worlds, conversed with the was excommunicated for Unitarianpatriarchs, and at length "united God ism, and says it must have been for to man” in the persou of Jesus Christ, something else : what that something only differing on the question of its else was, however, he could not tell us, distinct and perinanent personality. but only that he was excommunicated It is further remarkable that Origen by Victor, who was himself an Unitaspeaks in a peculiar manner of “ the rian, or at least favoured Unitarians. Logos of God, and who was with To this I answer, the passage he refers hin," and was “ from the beginning." to proves that Victor, or, as he is Many persons, (I imagine,) upon recol- sometimes called, Victorinus, favoured lecting the sense in which Origen and Sabellians. See Vol. III. p. 304, where similar writers used such language, it is said, Praxeas introduced his will be inclined to believe he meant heresy into Rome, which Victorinus that the Logos was froin the beginning endeavoured to strengthen. He said a person existing with the Father, as that Jesus Christ uus God the Father, one person with another, and was not omnipotent,&c. Now, that this Vicbefore his incarnation the Logos of the tor should excommunicate a man who Father as an attribute; hence, by what taught that Jesus Christ was not God he says after, of knowing the Logos at all, is no wonder ; and, that it was only according to the flesh, as con on this very ground Eusebius expressly trasted with the above, he meant to declares, as quoted in the above page, condemn the Sabellian doctrine, which He says, Victor excommunicated denied the proper and perinanent per- Theodotus, the leader and father of sonality, and that, therefore, he had that God-denying heresy, who first said no thought of simple Unitarians. that Christ was a mere man.The

If any think the above arguments distinction which I make between Sainvalid, 'I shall only remind them, at bellians and simple Unitarians, and present, that I have said of Origen and which the Doctor did not make, I think the other two authors before noticed, appears by the above to be of some they lived at too late a period to an- importance: I will add, it seems to me swer Dr. P.'s purpose in quoting them, to be a just distinction, and one which as I intend to say more on this circum- materially affects many of his argustance at the close of my letter. In ments, as founded on his historical the mean time, I shall bring forward axioms. what I think to be positive evidence, Secondly. I think the common peothat the common people were no more ple of the two first centuries, and later, simple Unitarians than were those were not simple Unitarians, but of the learned persons whom Dr. P. acknow- same opinions as the learned, they ledges held Sabellian tenets, and dis- being the leaders and teachers of the tinguishes as philosophical Unitarians. multitude, who were their disciples and

First. It appears that simple Uni- followers. The Doctor himself says, tarianism was broached, about the close (II. 48,) “ Marcellus was popular of the second or beginning of the third ainong the lower people :” and, Vol. century, by Theodotus, who was there. III. p. 350, he says, His” (Basil's) upon immediately excommunicated as strongest apprehensions were from an heretic; so that, contrary to the the Unitarians, the disciples of SabelDoctor's opinion, simple Unitarians lius, Marcellus and Paulus Samosawere deemed heretics, and treated as tensis.P. 329, he also says, such, from their very origin, although a treatise ascribed to Athanasius, the Sabellianism had been long tolerated. more simple are represented as easily That Theodotus was excominunicated, taken with the assertion, that God the Dr. P. himself informs his readers Logos suffered in the flesh.” Here (III. 237): “We find,” says he,“ that the common people are described as all the Unitarians continued in com- admirers and disciples of Sabellian inunion with the Catholic Church till teachers, and as easily taken with Sathe time of Theodotus, about the year bellian doctrine ; surely, then, it can. 200, when it is possible that upon his not be reasonably thought they were excommunication some of his most simple Unitarians. zealous followers might form them Thirdly. The creed, so early as the selves into separate societies." The time of Irenæus, (A. D. 150,) and as

[ocr errors]

“ In

given by him, was so framed as to would be a serions objection against exclude simple Unitarians from the their testimony of the simple Unitarichurch; yet we do not find the multitude anism of the primitive Christians, even of believers was excluded, therefore if they had asserted it in the passages they could not be simple Unitarians. which have been considered (which, This creed is given as follows (1. 308): however, I believe they have not). “He” (Irenæus)"represents all Chris. Tertullian, the earliest of them, died tians as believing in one God, the twenty years after Theodotus is said maker of heaven and earth, and all to have “ firstadvanced the doetrine things that are therein, by Jesus Christ, " that Christ was a mere man;" Orithe Son of God, who, from his great gen, 54 years after, or later ; and Athalove to his creatures, submitted to be nasius, 171 years. Now allowing, for born of a virgin, and by himself unic the sake of argument, that these writed God to man,” &c. P. 311, the ters really did complain of the common Doctor insinuates that this could not people of their time being simple Unibe the proper creed, to which all tarians, yet we need not admit, as the Christians in the Catholic Church sub- Doctor requires, that all the common scribed, because it would not suit Uni- people throughout the Christian world tarians, of whom he says it is univer- had always been such: it is not a nesally acknowledged there were many cessaryconsequence.

For if simple in the church. Here again appears his Unitarian doctrine prevailed consideerror in confounding Sabellians with rably in the neighbourhood of the above simple Unitarians. The creed might writers, it would be natural for them and did suit Sabellian Unitarians, and to complain of its generally affecting of these it was acknowledged there the people, and to ascribe its prevawere many in the church, but not of lence to their simplicity and ignorance ; simple Unitarians. Thus his argument and it might even, as a new doctrine, against the creed appears to be founded thus considerably prevail in the course on an error ; and this crced, as given of twenty, fifteen, or even ten years; by Irenæus, remaiņs a legitimate his, that is, in the time of Tertullian, after torical proof, that no simple Unitarians the excomipunication of Theodotus ; could, in his day, be in the church. much more in the later times of Origen

Fourthly. With respect to the pas. and Athanasius, especially after Sabelsages before noticed, which the Doctor lianism (which appears to me to hare quoted as direct proof of the simple led to its being advanced by TheoUnitarianism of the common people, dotus). Zealous teachers, under cirI have now to remark, that the authors cumstances by no means miraculous, themselves of those passages actually though favourable, have been known spake of the simple, the ignorant and to make a very general impression unlearned, whom they mention as upon the mind of the multitude in the holding Sabellian doctrine. Tertul- course of but a few years. I have lian, as referred to, History of Early noticed that Theodotus himself bad Opinions, III. 268, says concerning been a Sabellian, and that, forty or fifty linn,“ The tares of Praxeas grew up, years after his expulsion, Sabellians while many slept in the simplicity of themselves, who had taken an active doctrine." We have already seen the part in that deed, began also to be doctrine of Praxeas was, that “ Jesus generally expelled from the church, Christ was God the Father, omnipo- which is a presumptive argument, af tent.” Athanasius, we have also seen, least, that Sabellianism, which had considered the common people as easily long been tolerated, began to be viewed taken with the assertion, that “God as dangerous, in that it had led to the the Logos suffered in the flesh,” and entire denial of the divinity of Christ. that Origen considered them as be Not presuming to determine whelieving in “a Logos akin” to that of ther these objections against Dr. P.'s the orthodox. I am, therefore, at a History, which seem weighty to me, loss to understand with what propriety may appear so to others, 1 commit these writers can be considered as ever what I have written to the impartial speaking of the common people as judgment of your readers ; not anxiolus simple Ünitarians.

for the fate of my arguments, but ouly ilifthly. What I have hinted re- for truth. specting the dates of the above authors,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

R, MARTIN

entitled " The History and Antiqui. Mathich kill the body, but are not

Sir, Bristol, Sept. 1, 1821.

Brief Notes on the Bible.
I
HAVE read with great pleasure
Wilson's ,

No. XVIII.

ATT. x. 28: Fear not them ties of the Dissenting Churches in London," and I am sorry that he has able to kill the soul : but rather fear not had sufficient encouragement to Him which is able to destroy both soul enable him to give the Dissenting pub- and body in hell.” lie another volume or two, containing There are two subjects so fruitful of the History of the Religious Societies controversy, that the dome of $t. in the neighbourhood of the Metro. Paul's Cathedral might not, perhaps, polis. I feel a deep interest in all such be found adequate to contain the voaccounts, as recording the efforts made, lumes which have been written and trom time to time, by the friends of published upon them; but which, in religious liberty, in support of the great iny humble estimation, have about the Protestant principle of the right of same degree of intrinsic importance as private judgment in religious matters, the publications on the sublime science and of what I conceive to be the duty of astrology. of every serious inquirer into the true The first I allude to is the question meaning of the Scriptures, to lay his of infant or adult baptism; the other convictions and discoveries, whatever is the ever-confounding question, whethey may be, with charity and good ther the soul be a substance distinct temper before the public. What Mr. from the body, or the result of its conWilson has done for the London fuent particles. churches, I wish some other friend to If the free expression of my sentithe noble cause of conscientious Non- ments should pass unnoticed, well ! confornity, would do for the kingdom Otherwise, I may provoke a nest of at large, at least for England and hornets, whose buzzing, however, will Wales, and in order to furnish mate- not intimidate or disturb a mind, cased rials for such a work, I propose, what as mine is in the armour of indiffermight be very easily accomplished, that every Dissenting Minister should draw With the first question I meddle not, up, and send to the Repository, a con nor make, conceiving it to be of no cise account of the church of which he imaginable consequence, whether the is minister, ascertaining, where it can offspring of Christian parentage be be done, the earliest date to which the baptized in infancy, in mature age, or existence of his society can be traced, at all. The practice, at whatever pethe names they have borne at different riod, is decorous and unexceptionable; periods, where any change has taken but the Judge of all mankind will conplace, a list of their ministers, how sider only whether professing Chrislong they occupied their respective tians have lived upon Christian prinplaces, where they removed to, if they ciples ; and I may safely pronounce, did not continue their services in any that He will not condescend to ascertain one congregation for the residue of what rites and ceremonies they have their lives with an account of the either been subinitted or spontaneously literary productions of such of them conformed to. as appeared before the public as au Upon the second question, however, thors, and any well-authenticated and if the subject be not too beaten, I important particulars concerning them would indulge in a few very brief reor the churches to which they belonged. marks. Uninteresting as it may be to Thus, Sir, I think a valuable addition me, it is not so to others ; and as I might be made to our stock of religious cannot well be refused the credit of information, and the names and la- writing dispassionately, the little I have bours of many excellent and worthy to say may have the better chance of individuals, both in and out of the an unprejudiced reception. ministry, be preserved from total obli Perhaps there is nothing that counvion. I am, sir, with best wishes for teracts the notion of the separate the increasing circulation of your truly existences of soul and body more than liberal and useful work,

this consideration, that the structure E. BUTCHER. of the mind is progressive, together

with that of the body. Its deteriora

ence.

tion is not less evident when the hu. called the soul is derived. Jesus, we man frame is much relaxed and dis- know, was in the habitual use of lanordered. Upon the hypothesis of the guage accommodated to the notions mere junction of a reasonable soul prevalent among his countrymen-as with perishable matter, and its sur- in the instance of demoniacs. It was viving the dissolution of it, how are we an opinion of the Pharisees, the preto account for the gradual expansion dominant sect, that the soul was dis. and maturity of intellect? If one be tinct and immortal, and to be dealt essentially independent of the other, with, after bis demise, according to by what process are they mutually af- the tenour of a man's life; and the fected? Metaphysicians may busy words used on the present occasion themselves in this inquiry, and produce appear to fall in, though partially, with hypotheses as various as the moulds in their conception of the subject. The which the human mind is cast; but great article of the Christian revelation all must end in conjecture, however is a resurrection from the state of profound their disquisitions. Whereas, death to a renewed existence. The on the principles of materialism, the current hypothesis made the soul, subject is simply and satisfactorily though in union with the body, indewound up, and without, in the slight- structible. But, in adverting to the est degree, touching our belief of a power which human governments asfuture existence. What is there in the sume of inflicting the penalty of death, popular doctrine of the separate ex- Jesus would have his disciples regard istence and survivorship of the soul that power with comparative indiffermore credible, more comprehensible, ence, and be apprehensive of nothing or more consoling, than in the rival but the displeasure of his father, who doctrine, namely, that although the could withhold the gift of eternal life, soul, the inind, the perceptive or con- and suffer them to perish without rescious faculty,' (no matter what terms suscitation ; for destruction in hell philosophers apply to it,) be the result (Gehenna, the place where carcases of a subtle organization of the human were consumed by fire) can only be frame, and must expire with it ; yet figurative, I apprehend, of total exthat God's assurance of our revivifica- tinction. Taking the words in this tion is as safe a rock of dependence, sense, I understand the power of deas any assurance would be that the stroying the soul to signify that of souls which animate our bodies are extinguishing every posthumous hope; distinct and imperishable? How are and, so understood, the text may be we, to any serious purpose, concerned thus paraphrased :-“ Fear not them in the question that has been so vehe- which kill the body, but are not able mently agitated ; with the mode in to affect the future life, which it is the which God has decrced to prolong or purpose of my mission to announce, renew our existence; or, indeed, ivith and which the Father only can deprive any thing but the evidence of his pro- those of, who shall be found unworthy mise of a resurrection to a future life? of it.” I would, however, propose

If, as we are told, it be impossible this with diffidence; for in the whole for mind to be a result of any organic circle of theology there is not perhaps zation of matter, (which is a pretty any one subject from which the spirit bold assertion, considering who is the of dogmatizing ought more carefully architect of our frames, and the che- to be excluded. mist who amalgamates their materials !) There is another passage in which how come brutes by the sentient prin- our Saviour uses the word soul, cerciple, and in degrees almost as various tainly not in the distinctive and excluas men possess it? Have they souls, sive sense. He makes the prospering in the popular acceptation of the term? man soothe himself thus, Luke xii. 19: Are their spirits too imperishable ? “ I will say to my soul, Soul, tbou

The text prefixed to this paper may hast much goods laid up for many seem in its terms to indicate the broad years : take thine ease, eat, drink and distinction contended for ; but their be merry.” Saying this to his soul meaning should be sought in their was but soliloquising to himself. The connexion. It asserts nothing, it im- soul, if incorporeal, could neither eat plies nothing, concerning the source, nor drink, however merry it might ve; spiritual or material, whence what is and this application of the term suiti,

« PreviousContinue »