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On this principle Philo acted when describing the followers of Jesus in Judea and Egypt; he represents them not as believing the peculiar truths, but as practising the unrivalled virtues of the gospel. His conduct in this respect, as I have already observed, shews the greatest wisdom. The Greeks and Egyptians, however debased, while they hated alike the rites of the Jews, and the doctrines of the Christians, pretended to respect the duties of morality. He therefore holds up to their acceptance a divine system, embodied in the conduct of its professors, in the highest de
κοσμος αναθημα θεου του πεποιηκοτος και ὅσαι μέντοι κοστ μοπολιτιδες ψυχαι και θεοφιλεις ἑαυτας ανιερουσιν ὑπο μηδενος αντισπωμενοι θνητου καθαγιαζουσαι και καλλιέρουσαι τον έαυτων αφθαρτον βιον. Vol. I. 657. p. 601. In vol. ii. p. 151, he says, "If a man be wicked or unjust, his sacrifices are abominable, his rites profane, and his prayers blasphemous in the sight of God; and he obtains by them, not the forgiveness, but the recollection, of his sins. On the other hand, the sacrifice of a just and holy man ever remains effectual and undecayed, when the victim offered by him is consumed, or rather though he offers no victim at all. For what can be that sacrifice which is real and substantial in the sight of God, but the piety of a soul which loves God. αληθης ἱερουργια τις αν ειη, πλην ψυχης θεοφιλους
subservient to the moral duties, yet stripped gree of that exterior, which might excite the aversion of unbelievers. By this measure, he also complied with the solemn injunction virtually given by Jesus himself, namely, to make known his disciples to the world by their mutual love, and by the fruits which they produced, in order to glorify God, rather than by any peculiar creed or forms of worship.
About seventy years after the publications of Philo, Justin Martyr addressed his apology to the senate and people of Rome. And it is curious and interesting to observe the very great similarity between these two writers in regard to the grounds, on which they recommend the gospel to the reception of the Heathens. Justin, as well as Philo, represents it without those mysterious doctrines, by which it soon became encumbered; and holds it up as a system of divine truths, calculated to reform the world, and valuable only for its moral influence. He lays hold, of the precepts of Christ, comprehended in his sermon on the mount, and details them, in order to shew to the Romans the nature and object of his religion. The account he gives of Christ as a speaker, is in substance the same with that of Philo in regard to the Esseans. "His words," says he, "were few and pointed; for he was
not a sophist, but spoke with the power of God."*
Justin, moreover, lays no stress on the death of Christ, nor even mentions it as the means of atoning for sin. On the contrary, he declares in the most explicit terms, that the imitation of the divine perfections is the only condition that will entitle us to become immortal and happy with God in another world. His words are too important to be omitted. "We are taught, and we have full assurance for the truth of this doctrine, that God accepts only those who imitate the sobriety, the righteousness, the benevolence, and the other virtues which belong to him-that he, as being good, made all things of unfashioned matter, for the use of men whom, if by their works they prove themselves worthy of his design, he will raise above corruption and pain, and honour them with the privileges of his kingdom." P. 14. ed. Thirlby.
Philo defends the gospel, and holds it forth to the reception of the Pagans, as a divine philo sophy, healing the otherwise irremediable disor
Βραχεις και συντόμοι παρ' αυτου λογοι γεγόνασι,
οι γαρ σοφισης υπηρχεν, αλλά δυναμις θεου ὁ λόγος αυτού
Apol. i. p. 21. edit. Thirlby.
ders of sin, and washing away the impurities of the world. Justin Martyr recommends it to the people of Rome for the same glorious influence. "After having received," says he, "the Christian doctrine, we have abandoned the Pagan gods, and through his son worship him, who is the only uncreated God. Those of us, therefore, who before delighted in impurities, now rejoice in sobriety; those who practised the magical arts, now have devoted themselves to the benevolent and eternal Father; those who sought to acquire wealth above all things, now make their possessions in common, and give to every one that has need; those who hated and slaughtered each other, and who maintained no intercourse, as being of different tribes, now, after the appearance of Christ, live in the same communion, praying for their enemies, and endeavouring to convert those who unjustly hate them; that having lived agreeably to the fair precepts of Christ, they may have the well grounded hope of obtaining from God, the sovereign of all, the same glorious rewards with ourselves." P. 20.
Philo, we have seen, compares the influence of the gospel in reforming society, as reflected from the lives and conversation of those who embraced it, to the incense which impregnates and sweetens the breeze. Justin asserts the same fact in more clear, but less figurative language. "Christ,"
says he, "hath admonished us not to imitate the wicked; but to lead them by patience and meekness from whatever is base and evil in conduct; and we can point out many instances among us of men, who ceased to be violent and immoral, being overcome by the sobriety of neighbours, or by the unexampled patience of injured sojourners, or by the tried integrity of merchants, that were Christians."*
I shall conclude this chapter with a few remarks on the opinions of the learned respecting the writings of Philo.
"The personification of the Logos," says Dr. Priestley, Early Opinions, Vol. I. p. 320. " con. sisting of the attributes of power and wisdom, &c. was certainly introduced by the Platonists, and from them it was adopted by the christian fathers." This point is insisted upon also by the late Theophilus Lindsey, and other unitarian cri
Εκεινους δε προσδέχεσθαι αυτον μονον δεδιδαγμεθα και πεπεισμεθα, και πιςεύομεν, τους τα προσοντα αυτή αγαθα μιμούμενους, σεφροσύνην, και δικαιοσυνήν, και φιλανθρωπίαν, και όσια οικεία θεῷ εξιόν εαν αξίους τῷ εκείνου βουλεύματι ἑαυτους δι ̓ εργων δείξωσι, της μετ' αυτού ανατροφής καταξιωθηναι, προσειληφαμεν συμβα σιλεύοντας, αφθαρτους και απαθεις γενομένους. Apol. i.