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of the Arians, you will find that, in one respect, they did resemble each other, though the latter were far from copying the former. Those Gnostics who held that Jesus had a real human body, believed that he had also a human soul. For, according to them, he was, in all respects, like another man till his baptism; but they said that a superangelic spirit, or the Christ, then came into him. The orthodox fathers also asserted two intelligent principles in Christ, the human soul, and the uncreated logos; whereas the Arians, retaining the doctrine of the Logos, (not the Christ of the Gnostics,) supposed it to have been created, not uncreated. But then they found it unnecessary to retain the human soul; it being justly deemed absurd that two created intelligent principles should be in one person.
What Mr. Howes here asserts of Paul of Samosata is, I will venture to assert, a strange and absurd fabrication of his own, for which, to adopt his own language, I defy him to produce any authority, ancient or modern. That Paul was as much a believer in the divinity of Christ as the Ebionites or Gnostics, is certain, because none of them believed in it; but that "the divine Christ-was first created by God out of his unmanifested logos," is a notion that must have been utterly incomprehensible to this Paul, or to any man who endeavours to affix ideas to words.
Similar to this extravagance are the following curious assertions of Mr. Howes: "They" (the Ebionites)" were the mere spawn of the Cerinthians, and the very dregs of absurdity and superstition; just as the modern Humanists are the humble imitators of the pretendedly philosophic Gnostics in general."*
What there is in common between the modern Unitarians and the Gnostics, Mr. Howes should have specified. According to him, the Gnostics were believers in the divinity of Christ, whereas we disclaim that notion, in every sense of the word. It is the very cause of the great indignation against us that we do so. According to all antiquity, the Gnostics believed the pre-existence of Christ, and that he was of a nature superior to that of man, which, it is known, we disclaim. Mr. Howes himself will hardly say that we believe, with the Gnostics, that the world was not made by the Supreme Being, but by a subordinate evil agent, or that this evil agent gave the law of Moses. In what, then, do we resemble them?
When I read these strange assertions of Mr. Howes, and his opinion, that "the popular theology of the Jews" is to be found in Philo,* I fancy myself to be in a new world of antiquity, and that some Père Hardouin† has recomposed all the Christian fathers, and all the other books relating to ecclesiastical history that I have ever read or heard quoted before. When you read this, judge, gentlemen, whether "a new earth and a new heaven-for Christian men," (of which Mr. Howes speaks, as "created" by me,) be found in my writings or in his.
Among Mr. Howes's other mistakes concerning the Arians, he does not, however, maintain with Dr. Horsley, that there is no difference between their doctrine, and the orthodox doctrine of the personification of the Logos. He also admits the veracity of Origen; and so far from contending that there was a church of orthodox Jewish Christians at Jerusalem after the time of Adrian, he finds that there was but a very small one before that time.§
By Mr. Howes's quoting" a Jew of the sect of the Caraites, because he cannot be supposed to be infected with the Cabbalistic notions of the more modern rabbinical Jews; but rather to tell us the true opinion of the original Jews," || I am willing to hope that he does not now lay the stress that he did before on the writings of the Cabbalists, in proving that the Jews were always Trinitarians, and expected the second person of the Trinity in their Messiah; a notion which none of the Christian fathers could find among them; though they would, no doubt, have been as glad to catch at it as Dr. Allix, Mr. Howes, or Mr. Park
* Appendix, p. 117. (P.)
+ A very learned French Jesuit, who died at Paris in 1729, aged 83. “In 1693, he printed at Paris, in two vols. 4to. Chronologiæ ex Nummis antiquis restitutæ Prolusio, de Nummis Herodiadum." In this work "he undertakes to prove from medals, that the greater part of those authors which have passed upon the moderns for ancient, were forged by some monks of the thirteenth century, who gave to them the several names of Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, &c., Tertullian, Origen, Basil, Augustin, &c. He only excepts out of this monkish manufacture the works of Cicero, Pliny's Natural History, Virgil's Georgics, and Horace's Satires and Epistles. These he supposes the only genuine monuments of antiquity remaining, except some few inscriptions and fasti: and with the assistance of these, he thinks, that these monks drew up and fashioned all the other ancient writings, as Terence's Plays, Livy's and Tacitus's Histories, Virgil's Eneid, Horace's Odes, &c. Nay, he pushed this chimera so far, that he fancied he could see plainly enough that Æneas in Virgil was designed for Jesus Christ, and Horace's mistress Lalage for the Christian religion. This work was suppressed by public authority at Paris." Gen. Biog. Dict. 1784, VI. p. 445. The Eneid, according to P. Hardouin, was composed by a Benedictine of the thirteenth century, to describe, allegorically, St. Peter's journey to Rome-décrire allégoriquement le voyage de St. Pierre à Rome. See Nouv. Dict. Hist. III. pp. 241-243.
Appendix, p. 2. (P.) § Ibid. p. 90. (P.) || Ibid. p. 35. (P.)
hurst.* Mr. Howes, however, expresses his approbation of Mr. Parkhurst's late publication against me, † in which he endeavours to prove the doctrine of the Trinity from the form of the word elohim. I can have no objection to Mr. Howes, Dr. Horsley, and Mr. Parkhurst continuing to admire one another, but they would do better for their cause, if they could agree a little more than they do, in the principles on which they defend it.
Mr. Madan also joins Mr. Parkhurst in urging the argument from elohim. But Dr. Croft, in his Bampton Lectures, disapproves of it. "Perhaps too much stress," he says, "is laid upon the expression, Let us make man in our image. The plural is frequently applied to one only, and the language of consultation is evidently used in condescension to human infirmity. It may be dangerous," he adds, “to rest an article of faith upon that which may be a mere idiom."¶
I am, &c.
Of several Publications of less Note, and
I CANNOT pretend to notice every thing that has been addressed to me on the subject of this controversy. The tracts to which I have not particularly replied are of two characters, some being written in the way of humour, and the rest, of invective, of the most virulent kind; whereas the only thing that is really wanting is serious argument. Excepting one of the publications of Mr. Whitaker, who
* See supra, pp. 417, Note *, 419, 427.
Appendix, p. 112. (P.)
+ See ibid. pp. 416, 417.
For an addition to the Letters relating to Mr. Howes," see Appendix, No. XV.
|| "Eight Sermons, preached before the University of Oxford in the year 1786, at the Lecture founded by the late John Bampton, M. A." 1788. See New Ann. Reg. IX. p. .
Lect. p. 64. (P.)
** I would recommend to Mr. Whitaker the perusal of Mr. Wiche's " Observations on the Debate now in agitation concerning the Divine Unity," in a letter to himself, as containing many things deserving of his consideration, as well as that of all who give any attention to this controversy, and written with a truly Christian spirit. (P.)
Of Mr. Wiche, see supra, p. 152, Note 1. Dialogues on the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, of St. Mildred's and All-Saints, Canterbury." [229,] [230.]
In 1786 were published "Four &c. by E. W. Whitaker, Rector See New Ann. Reg. VII. pp.
will find himself sufficiently answered in my "Letters to Dr. Geddes," every thing I have seen of the argumentative kind relates to the doctrine of the Scriptures; with respect to which, so much has been advanced by myself and others, that I think it unnecessary to say any thing farther. In this we are, as it were, come to issue, and the public must determine between us. It is to the argument from antiquity that I particularly wish to draw the attention of the learned; and in this field very few have as yet made their appearance, and those few, as you must have perceived, have been very little acquainted with the ground they have ventured
Some of my opponents, evidently distrusting the power argument, have more than hinted at the propriety of calling in the aid of the civil magistrate; but none of them have done this so loudly, and so distinctly, as Mr. Madan, who says, that "the Christian religion is a part of the common law of this country, that our kings are its nursing fathers, and our queens its nursing mothers; that it has always been held that blasphemy and profaneness, written, printed, or advisedly spoken, are indictable, and punishable; and that punishments inflicted for these offences were never more deemed persecution than the convicting a person of profane cursing and swearing ;" and my works, he says, "might furnish matter for a trial at the next Stafford assizes;" but hints that it might not be proper to permit the trial to be printed, like that of Mr. Elwall.*
I need not shew you, Gentlemen, that Mr. Madan's maxims will justify all the persecutions that have been in the world, from the age of the apostles to the present time, as they were all in pursuance of the laws of the countries in which they were carried on. It is happy for the cause of free inquiry and truth, that the spirit of the present times only permits such monsters as these to shew their teeth and claws, and what they would do if they had the power. Mr. Madan should propose himself as a candidate for the next vacancy in the office of Inquisition in Spain or Portugal, if his maxims would do even for those countries at present. Unhappily, he was born too late.
Much stress has been laid by several of my opponents on my frank acknowledgment to Dr. Price, that "I did not know when my creed would be fixed." This, however, I must continue to say, while I continue my inquiries,
* Letters to Dr. Priestley, 1787, p. 145. (P.)
+ Sce supra, p. 414.
and profess, as every fair inquirer will do, to be determined by any new and stronger evidence that shall be presented to And this is certainly no disadvantage to my readers, who, I hope, will not be moved by my authority, but only by the evidence that I lay before them; and that will always be the same, and have the same weight, though my idea of its weight should change ever so often.
Did not Luther go on changing his opinions till a very late period of his life, and was he ever reproached with it, except by the Catholic party, whose spirit, I am sorry to say, is too apparent in the defenders of the church establishment of this country? But similar situations will dictate similar modes of thinking and reasoning. Was it not highly honourable in Dr. Whitby, at a late period of a life devoted to study, and after having repeatedly defended the doctrine of the Trinity, to declare himself an Arian, and to defend that opinion in his Last Thoughts?* Equally honourable was the change of opinion of the late excellent Bishop of Carlisle, who from being an Arian became a Socinian, and in the last edition of his Considerations, &c., carefully expunged every passage that had expressed his belief of the pre-existence of Christ. Let me class with such men as these, and not
In the Preface to which he says, "This my retractation, or change of my opinion, after all my former endeavours to assert and establish a contrary doctrine, deserves the more to be considered, because it proceeds (and, indeed, can proceed) from me for no other reason, but purely from the strong and irresistible convictions which are now upon me, that I was mistaken.
"Nothing, I say, but the love of truth can be supposed to extort such a retractation from me, who having already lived so long beyond the common period of life, can have nothing else to do but to prepare for my great change; and in order thereunto to make my peace with God, and my own conscience, before I die. To this purpose I solemnly appeal to the Searcher of hearts, and call God to witness, whether I have hastily or rashly departed from the common opinion; or rather, whether I have not deliberately and calmly weighed the arguments on both sides, drawn from scripture and antiquity?
"And even yet, if any will be so kind, as in the spirit of meekness to answer the arguments I have produced to justify my change, if it please God to give me the same degree of health and soundness of mind, which, by his blessing and goodness, 1 now enjoy, I promise sincerely to consider them, and to act suitably to the strength of the argument; but if any such auswer is attempted with angry invectives and haughty sophistry, aiming to be wise above what is written, I must say, μενωμεν ὥσπερ εσμεν, e. I must remain in my present sentiments; having, in this short Treatise, seriously considered all that I had said in my Commentary to the contrary, and fully answered the most considerable places I had then produced for confirmation of the doctrine I there too hastily endeavoured to establish.
"I conclude with those words of St. Austin, Errare possum, hæreticus esse nolo; that is, I may err, but I will not be an heretick. As yet I must be in St. Paul's sense, (Titus iii. 10, 11,) if I would act against the dictates and strong convictions of my conscience." Matthews's Recorder, 1803, II. pp. 105-107. See Brit. Biog. VII. p. 86.
In the "Survey of the Search after Souls," published in 1758, Dr. Fleming thus quotes the "Reflections on the Life and Character of Christ," from an early edition of the Considerations, which were first published, without the Reflections,