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PHILO A BELIEVER IN CHRIST, AND A CHRIS-
THE account which this noble author gives of the Jewish and Egyptian converts, and the high praise which he bestows upon them, warrant the conclusion, that he was himself of that number; and that as being a Christian, he published his many excellent works to promote the knowledge and influence of christianity. This inference is very important: and as it stands in direct opposition to the judgment of modern critics, I shall endeavour to substantiate it by evidence drawn from his own writings. If Philo believed in Jesus, and if he published two books in defence of his followers, we might naturally expect him to take some notice of his divine master. Yet, if we may credit those learned men who are supposed to have read him, not the slightest allusion to our Lord occurs in any part of his voluminous productions. Such silence, if true, is indeed, extraordinary; and the concurrence of the learned, in supposing it true, when otherwise, is not less ex
traordinary. A veil of mystery assuredly hangs over the subject, and I will here attempt to draw it asunder.
If we duly examine the New Testament, we shall find our Lord often designated by his own personal name, and often by those high titles which express his office as the Son of God. Amiable as Jesus of Nazareth sounded in the ears of all those who knew his character, or understood his gospel, his name excited the derision and abhorrence of the unbelieving world. And although he was generally hated in every country, in no country was he more hated than in Egypt; where personal animosity against the founders of christianity was inflamed by deep rooted enmity against the Jews. Philo wrote in a country, and at a period, when the ignominy which hung on the christian profession was most bitterly felt. Notwithstanding his open temper, his resolute conduct, his ardent zeal, and elevated enthusiasm, Philo was yet a deliberate, a circumspect, and a wise man. Accordingly he has every where avoided to awaken the prejudices of those unbelievers, to whom he addressed his works, by mentioning the personal name of Jesus Christ. But he did not from regard to the same prejudices abstain from mentioning him at all. On the contrary, he speaks, and very frequently speaks, of the Blessed Jesus, though
under those lofty titles which distinguish him as the minister of heaven, and which raised him, as far as possible, above the unreasonable prepos sessions of his readers.
When our Lord first appeared as the messenger of heaven, he was announced by a voice from above, as the beloved Son of the Father. In the language of the Jews, a teacher, who is superior to others in dignity, order, and authority, is called father; and the person instructed and acknowledged by him, his son. On this principle, all those who embrace and obey the gospel, are said to be born of God, or to be children of God; because they are taught of God, they are educated as it were in the school of God, the law being a pædagogue to train them up in his family, and Christ a still higher master to qualify them for his heirs. In the same, though in a more appropriate, sense, God proclaimed Jesus as his son, intimating, that he was instructed by him, and that the doctrine which he revealed was of his inspiration. That he was a teacher authorized from above, is the burden of our Lord's discourses with his enemies; and he who observes the variety of occasions, in which he directly asserts, or indirectly leads his hearers to infer, that he derived his authority from heaven, and from no other source, and the stubborn reluctance of his countrymen to admit his claims, will feel
the propriety of his being thus announced by God himself at the commencement of his ministry.
Now, this is one of the titles, under which Philo speaks of Jesus Christ, as we shall perceive from the following passage. "It becomes him," says he, "who devotes himself to the father of the world, to employ, as his intercessor, his own son, who is most perfect in virtue, in order that he might obtain the forgiveness of his sins, and the supply of every good." Nothing, I presume, can be more clear, than that the Son of God,
Αναγκαιον γαρ ην τον ἱερωμενον τῳ του κοσμου πατρι, παρακλητῳ χρησθαι τελειοτατῳ την αρετην ύίῳ, προς τε αμνησίαν αμαρτημάτων, και χορηγιαν αφθονωτατων αγαθών. Vol. II. 155. or p. 673. It is true, indeed, that Philo often calls this world, as the offspring of the creator, the son of God; but this he styles the sensible or younger son of God, in opposition to the logos, whom he describes as the beloved and first born of God. Thus, Τον μόνον και αγαπητον αισ θητον υιον απεκύησε, τονδε τον κόσμον. Vol. 1.351.
Ὁ γαρ κοσμος όντος νεωτερος ύιος, άτε αισθητος ων. From this he distinguishes the Logos or Christ by calling him #gwToyovov viov. Vol. I. 308. From this double application of vos to the world as the offspring of God, and to Jesus as the son of God. Celsus (See Origen, p. 308.) took occasion to say, that, "They call Christ the son of God, because the ancients gave that title to the world which was made by God. The charge is not true. Our Lord from the beginning was styled the Son of God, because he was so called
here spoken of, means our Lord Jesus Christ. For who else can answer to such a description, as we see in this place given to him. He is represented as the Son of the Universal Father; as perfect in virtue; as the Comforter, by whose mediation we may obtain the pardon of our sins and the supply of every good.
The language of Philo is in perfect unison with the following words of the apostle John. "My little children these things I write unto you, that ye sin not. But if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous and he is the propitiation for our sins." 1 John ii. 1. If we compare these passages, impossible not to conclude that the writers mean the same person. Both Philo and John call him by the same name (açaxλnтos), an advocate; both that through him is to be obtained the pardon of our sins; and while one calls him righteous, the other represents him as most perfect in virtue. Philo uses the very peculiar language of
by the voice of God himself at his baptism. Philo had the gospel before him; and from this source, and not from Plato, as the learned have hitherto most absurdly supposed, he has derived the appellation Son of God. This son of God is sufficiently defined, when he is represented as the mediator, through whom are obtained the pardon of sin, and the hope of a future God