« EdellinenJatka »
tics. See Lindsey's Sequel, p. 3.: though, as it appears to me, entirely without foundation; the Logos being frequently personified in the Christian Scriptures, not only by the Apostles, but by our Lord himself.
Philo is generally thought to have been a Platonic philosopher, and to have derived from Plato his notion of the Logos and its personification. This opinion also is altogether unfounded; and there are three leading facts sufficient to prove it so. First, the ideas of Philo on this subject agree with those of the apostolic writers; and, as they are peculiar to the gospel, the former must have copied them from the latter, and from no other source. Secondly, Philo is the historian, and, as we shall more fully see in the sequel, the warm advocate of those who believed in Jesus. He speaks of them as surpassing all other men in wisdom and virtue; and as he was brought up in the midst of those believers, who flourished in Egypt, he was taught by them in the nature and object of the Christian doctrine. All his writings prove that, by the religion of Moses, he meant the religion of Jesus, and be enforced the truth of it no less by his example than by his eloquence. Thirdly, the doctrine of the Logos, as taught by Philo and the Apostles, was altogether unknown to Plato and his followers previously to the Christian era. Philo, therefore, could not pos
sibly have copied his ideas from that celebrated philosopher. It would have been material to the argument of those, who derive from Plato the personification of the Logos, to shew that it is contained in his writings. But Dr. Priestley himself is obliged to acknowledge the contrary. The following are his own words. "But it appears to me from a pretty careful examination of the writings of Plato, that this was not done by himself, though the confusion of his ideas gave occasion to it, or something like it, in his followers. According to Plato, the universe was made by the Supreme God, whom he often styles the good, without the instrumentality of any subordinate being whatever, only making it according to a pattern previously formed in his own mind. Language to this effect is frequent in his writings; but there is a manifest confusion in his account of the ideas of the divine mind, by means of which the plan of the universe was formed; so that he sometimes makes them to be a second principle of things, and the world itself, which was produced from those ideas, a third principle. But I do not find that he ever proceeded so far as to make the divine mind νους, or λογος, second God, a distinct intelligent being." Early Opinions, vol. i. p. 321. Dr. Priestley and his followers are therefore chargeable with a palpable inconsistence. Could the Christian Fathers
have borrowed the personification of the Logos from a philosopher, to whom that doctrine, according to their own confession, was entirely unknown?
Photius informs us, that from Philo was derived the allegorical method of interpreting scripture, which prevailed in the Christian Church.* This assertion is very true; and the cause of it is now very obvious. Origen and others knew, that Philo was an apostolic believer and a christian writer, and it was natural for them to copy an author, so distinguished by learning and eloquence.
"The writings of Philo Judæus," says a very learned writer,† "furnished the Fathers
Εξ όν (Φίλωνος) οιμαι και πας ο αλληγορικος της γραφης εν τη εκκλησια λογος εσχεν αρχην εισρυηναι. Bil. Cod. c. v.
+ See an Investigation of the Trinity of Plato, and of Philo Judæus, by Dr. Cæsar Morgan. This certainly is an elegant and very learned publication; but the writer, in common with others, has entirely mistaken the real character of Philo's writings. The only modern critic, who has discovered, and proved, that this celebrated Jew was indebted for his notions to the Christian scriptures, is the very learned Bryant, whose work respecting the sentiments of Philo, though a strange composition of blunders and sagacity, of absurdity and learning, is very worthy of perusal.
of the Christian Church with the fatal means of deceiving themselves and others. The figurative language, in which that author delivered himself concerning the Logos, whenever he meant by it either the divine intellect, its internal operation, the ideal object of its contemplation, or the external expression of it, led them to imagine that he attributed to it a real and essential personality. From the epithets affixed to this supposed person, they naturally conceived, that he could be no other than our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. To make this plausible they maintained, that what was expressed by the word Logos was not in God, as it was in man, a mere power or operation, or word; but was a real living substance, possessed of a personality distinct from the great principle of existence to which it belonged. This received countenance from the doctrines of Plato, that ideas were most properly the real entities."
The Fathers certainly fell into a great error, by which they deceived themselves and others. But this, I conceive, is not a true statement of it. Philo, it is allowed, often meant by Logos the divine attributes personified; but he is far from confining the word to this ideal being. On the contrary, he has extended it to Jesus Christ; and thus he holds him forth to the world as the preeminent servant of God under that term, which,
in its strictest sense, denotes the attributes of God. But when he thus speaks of him, he speaks of him only in his official capacity, and intends to designate, not his nature or essence as a real being, but his commission or his claims as the Son of God. This is what Philo has done, and he was authorized in so doing by the example of the apostolic writers; and the error, of which the Fathers have been guilty, consisted in fixing to the person of Christ that word, which was designed only to denote his divine authority.