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the incommunicable name of Jehovah, the Angel of the Lord, the Shechina or Divine Glory, the Mediator, Michael the Archangel of the Covenant, the Word of the Lord, God the Holy and Blessed—the image of God, the Brightness of his Glory, the Lord of Hosts, the Son of God, the Son of the Most High, the Faithful Shepherd, the Lord of the Ministering Angels—the Angel Redeemer.”*
* When,” says Dr. Pye Smith, “the utmost allowance is made that reason will warrant, for the figurative style and the mystical character of this ancient book, a sufficiency of evidence will yet remain that the doctrines concerning the Messiah, which existed among the Jews about the time of their dispersion, had, indeed, much of the characters of absurdity and indistinct apprehension; but that, without any reasonable ground of question, they attributed to him a superior nature, a preëxistent state, and, to say the least, many characteristics properties of Deity. Even Gesenius admits that they at least rose up to the conception of an INCARNATE JEHOVAH.”+ And this opinion is confirmed by both the elder Buxtorf and Witsius, who have collected several opinions of several eminent Rabbies which testify to the great truths of the Messiah's mediation, his expiation of sin, his authority, and his teaching. I
It is thus evident, from evidence drawn from a variety of sources independent of one another, and as accessible to Christians as to Jews, that the ancient Jews, both before the time of Christ, immediately after, and during the early ages, did not believe in an absolute unity in the Godhead, but in a plurality of divine subsistence, and which they limited to THREE, in the One undivided Godhead.
* Schættgenius Hor. Heb. et Tal. tom. iii., pp. 911-913. † See Gesenius Commentar iiber den lasaia, I., 365.
See Buxtorf Lexic. Talm. et Rabb. Col. 1192 ed. Basil 1639. Witsii Miscellanea sacra, vol. ii., p. 126. ed. Herbom 1712. See Schøtig. Jesus der wahre Messias, pp. 12, 25, ed. Leipzig, 1748.
ART. V.-HISTORICAL SKETCH OF SYSTEMS IN THEOLOGY.
BETWEEN the facts of theology, and those of natural science, there is a striking analogy. Both are from God, and, like all truth, are perfectly consistent with themselves, and with one another. Both are capable of being systematized, or of being logically connected and arranged, and yet God bas not systematized either of theni
The facts of nature stand out before us in the world, apparently isolated, and require much investigation and study, in order to their being arranged in scientific forms. And so it is with the facts of theology. They are before us in the Bible, standing out there with sufficient proininence, but not in a connected series, or scientifically arranged. This work of connexion, of arrangement, God has wisely left to be performed by ourselves. He has endowed us with inquisitive minds, with rational and logical powers, and he designs that we exercise and improve our powers in this way.
The sacred writers have given us the truths of revelation, as they were moved to do it by the Holy Ghost;in narratives, in parables, in prophetic symbols, in pithy proverbs, in sacred songs. Thus the apostles and prophets received them, and uttered them; and it is enough for our faith, perbaps, to receive them in the same way;-just as it is enough for the purposes of animal life to receive the promiscuous, unconnected facts of nature. Still, the purposes of life can be better enjoyed and promoted, by the belp of science in the natural world, and the same is true in the religious world. The Bible can be much better understood, and its benefits be more fully realized, by a scientific adjustment of its great facts and principles.
propose, in this paper, to give a brief account of the efforts which have been made, at different periods, to systematize the truths of the Bible.
The first century of the Christian era includes the age of the apostles, and, in fact, of the immediate successors of the apostles. If we except the inspired penmen, the writers of this period were few, and their writings few; and these chiefly of an epistolary and hortatory character. We hear of no attempts to form the truths of religion into anything like a regular system. The circumstances of the times did not require it, and the suffering followers of Christ did not attempt. They
They were more concerned to honor the religion they had embraced in their lives and deaths, than to explain its principles scientifically, and arrange them according to the rules of art.
And what was true of the first century, may be said with almost equal propriety of the second. The fathers of the second century had frequent controversies with the Pagans, the Jews, and different classes of heretics; and, in these controversies, some of the truths of religion were brought out with peculiar prominence. On the part of some of these fathers, too, there was more of a disposition to mingle human wisdom with the teachings of Scripture, than had before been exhibited. Still, no system of doctrines of the second century has come down to us, por is it likely that any was attempted. The age of systems had not yet come.
In the third century, the disposition to explain the truths of religion, philosophically, had very much increased. This disposition first shewed itself in the catechetical school at Alexandria, and among the teachers who had there been educated. The new Platonic philosophy was now taught at Alexandria, by Ammonius and his followers, and some of the ministers of Christ were pleased with it, and embraced it. They were accustomed to speak of Christianity as one of the philosophies of the age. They associated with philosophers, and wore the philosophic garb. And as the new Platonists professed to regard all the philosophies as very much alike, only differently expressed, and undertook, by dint of allegory, to harmonize them all; some Christian teachers were not unwilling to go into the compromise with thein. This was especially true of Origen, the most learned man, and the most prolific writer, of the age. Among his numerous works, Origen wrote one de Principiis, on the first principles of the Christian faith, This can hardly be called a system of theology, however; thongh it comes nearer to it than anything which had before appeared. It is in four books ; in which the author lays down, with sufficient accuracy, some of the great truths or facts of the Christian system, and then explains and illustrates them, by the help of his philosophy. His error cousisted, not so much in his religious belief, as in the philosophy of that belief; not in his denying any of the prominent facts of the Gospel, but in his strange and perverse explications of them.
A work very similar to this of Origen, and prepared on the same principles, was got up by Theognostus, in seven books, Gregory Thaumaturgus also prepared a manuel of doctrine, which he called Expositio Fidei. Still, none of them can be regarded as complete systems of religious truth.
In the fourth century came the great Revolution, which placed Constantine on the throne, and brought Christianity into power and favor. This, too, was the beginning of Arianism, and of the long continued controversies respecting the Joinity, and the person of Christ. It was an age of great mental activity, of great men, and of distinguished writers in the Church. The controversies of the times brought several points of doctrine into earnest discussion, in consequence of which they were more accurately defined, and better understood, than they had been before. Creeds, too, bad been drawn up, embodying the principal truths or facts of
the Gospel. There was the apostles' creed, so called; though it had no existence till long after the apostles. There was the creed of Irenæus, of Tertullian, of Origen, and some others. There was, also, the Nicene creed, drawn up with great care and labor, for the purpose of entrapping the wily Arius and his adherents, and of excluding them from the Church. Still, the truths of religion were not yet scientifically arranged and discussed. There was nothing written in the fourth century, which deserves to be called a theological system, if we except the catechetical discourses of Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem. Nor do I think that these should be excepted, as they were prepared rather for the instruction of catechumens, than as a formal statement and vindication of the truth.
And what has been said of the fourth century may, with little qualification, be extended to the fifth. The discussions already commenced, concerning the Trinity and the person of Christ, continued through the fifth century, and every theory was propounded which, perhaps, ever can be, to explain the mysteries of the Incarnation, and of the hypostatic union. The great Augustine flourished in the first part of this century, and wielded the pen of a ready writer, as no one bad done before bim, in the defence and inculcation of the Gospel. His treatises in opposition to the Pelagian errors, and in vindication of the great doctrines of depravity, predestination, and grace, will ever be held in grateful rernembrance, by all the friends of evangelical truth. Still, he prepared no connected system of theology. Nor do we find any in this age. The religionists of the times were chiefly divided into two classes, as they had begun to be a century before, viz: the scholastics and the mystics—the former seeking for light and truth by disputation and discussion; the latter by seclusion and meditation.
We proceed, then, in our search after systems, to the next century, the sixth. The discussions respecting the person of Christ were continued through the greater part of this period, very little to the edification of those concerned in them, and with little benefit to the world. Towards the latter part of the century, Isadore, of Seville, published three books of sentences, collected from the writings of Augustine, and of Gregory the Great. These sentences or propositions were followed up by Scripture proofs and illustrations, and may be regarded as constituting a manual of theology, still, it was but a naked compilation, and very poor at that. This, however, and other works of the like character, introduced a new form of theology, called the positive, in which every thing was made to rest on authority—the authority of the fathers, and of Scripture; so that, henceforward, we have three kinds of theology, instead of two-the scholastic, the mystic, and the positive.
During the seventh century, as in the sixth, the controversies were continned respecting the person of Christ. They related, however, at this time, not so much to the qnestion of his Divinity, as to the manner in which the Divine and the human were united in his person. Had he two wills, or only one will? Had he two natures, and two persons; or two natures, and one person; or only one mixed nature, and one person? Some might think these questions of small importance; but they were not so estimated by the venerable fathers of the sixth and seventh centuries.
There were three works of theology published in the seventh century, which passed, perhaps, for systems in those days, but would not be so regarded in our own.
The first was a short summary of Christian doctrine, composed by Antiochus, a monk of Palestine, entitled The Pandect of the Holy Scriptures. At the close of the Pandect, we find some verses, in which the author deplores, in mournful measure, the loss of the true wood of the Cross, which he believed the Persians bad carried away. The second is a summary of the theology of the times, composed by Ildefonsus, bishop of Toledo, entitled De Cognitione Baptismi. The third was prepared by Tajo, bishop of Saragossa. It contains five books of sentences, taken chiefly from the writings of Gregory the Great. It is a dry and insipid performance; and yet so bighly was it esteemed by the other bishops, that they did not hesitate to pronounce it the salt of the earth, and its author a Divine luminary in the Church.
In the eighth century, we first find, what we have been so long seeking after, a proper system of Christian theology. It was prepared by John, of Damascus, an eininent divine of the Eastern church. It is divided into four books; and, in point of method, unites what bad been called the scholastic and positive theologies. The author employs a subtle ratiocination in explaining doctrines, and then confirms them by quotations from Scripture and the fathers. In his first book, John treats of the being and attributes of God, and of the Trinity. In his second book, he considers the work of creation, and the beings and things which God has made; as the world, angels, demons, heaven and earth, paradise and man. He speak of Divine Providence, prescience, and predestination, and insists that the latter does not reach to the free actions of men. God permits their actions, but does not ordain them. He concludes his second book with a consideration of Adam's fall, and its consequences to his posterity.
John's third book is on the doctrine of Christ, and the way of salvation. He asserts the two-fold nature of Christ, and his two wills, and holds that the sufferings of Christ were confined to his human nature. The fourth book is chiefly occupied with the external rites and ordinances of the Church. He speaks of the sacraments, much after the manner of the Romanists. He says there are eight distinct kinds of baptism. 1. The deluge. 2. That