« EdellinenJatka »
being capable of compression into an essay, would require one of those folios, that were so readily filled in the ages of darkness and controversy.
The fathers of the church, the schoolmen, and many later writers, connected with the subject many subtle questions, which were nowise involved in it, and which it would be wasting our time to attempt to disentangle. The turning point of dispute was the phrase, "the image of God :” on this the whole of it was in fact suspended : our labour will therefore be made simple, by directing our attention to this alone,
Before the fifth century there was no schism on this subject. The fathers held different opinions, but without bringing ihem in any degree into contact with each other. They were unanimous in the assertion, that we are perfectly free to choose and to do either good or evil. Most of them understood by the image of God the gift of understanding, and freedom of will. Some, however, refining on this idea, and availing themselves of the twofold expression, Genesis i. 26, “let us make man in our image, after our likeness," maintained that a difference was intended to be implied between them. The likeness they supposed to consist in the endowments abovementioned. The divine image was entirely distinct. Some saw it in the erect form and heavenward countenance of the human race: others sought it in their destination to immortality : and others still, among whom was St. Chrysostom, the most eloquent of the Greek fathers, imagined it to be exhibited in their “ dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the face of the earth." The heads of the church at Alexandria, and especially Clement and Origen, asserted that the “Logos" was here referred to, the original pattern, according to which the human soul was formed; and by the divine “ likeness" they under. stood those moral virtues, by the cultivation of which we may approach to a moral resemblance of the Deity.
This harmonious dissonance in the church, experienced for 400 years, was now to be changed into the barshest and most violent discord. The Pelagian heresy, as it has since been called, broke out; and the western part of Christendom was shaken with it. Pelagius was a monk of Wales, who, conceir. ing that the prevailing doctrines, which had become connected with the representations of Moses, were dangerous to good morals, and tended to encourage a false presumption, openly opposed them. This engaged him in a controversy with Augustin, which it has filled volumes to describe. The disputants were agreed in this; that Adam was made in the image of God,
New Series-vol, I. 14
and that this consisted partly in the intellectual nature that was i bestowed on him, and partly in the freedom of will. They differed in this : Augustin affirmed that the immortality of the budy was included in the image of God; while Pelagius contended that man was made mortal, and had been from the beginning as he now is. From this time, the opinion concerning the original nature of man was suspended on that concerning the fall, original sin, and the doctrine of grace : in a word, on the triumph of Pelagianism, or ORTHODOXY; for so the synod of Carthage and other councils named the parties, by decreeing the victory. The ideas of the perfections and the happiness of the first human pair, and consequently the change that was produced by the fall, seemed now to grow more and more excessive. John of Damascus, who died in the middle of the 8th century, and who was accustomed to follow in all doctrine the most approved guides, gives on this subject the most highly wrought descriptions. *
We have now come down to the schoolmen; of whom it can offend no one to say,
worse confounded” the whole “confusion.". They proposed gravely a thousand impertinent questions, which, to us at the present day, it would seem as ridiculous to attempt to answer, as it was to ask them. The most celebrated among these were, whether man was created “in puris naturalibus ?" whether the divine image was imme. diately created with him, or afterwards superadded ? whether it was natural, or preternatural ? Many, among whom was Duns Scotus, the great Franciscan, declared that it was natural : an opinion, which tended towards Pelagianism, and somewhat reduced the lofty conceptions that were then prevalent, of the original divide “image. They were met, however, by other scholastics, with Thomas Aquinas, “the angelical doctor" of the Dominicans, at their head. Aquinas taught that man might have been created “in puris naturalibus ;" but that the preternatural gifts of heavenly grace came upon him immediately at his creation. He upheld the opinions, which Augustin had first reduced, or rather expanded into a system. George Calixtus, a Lutheran divine of the 16th century, next struck out a middle course, with the hope of reconciling all differences: but he was rewarded with the reproachful name of Pelagian, and had not many followers.
The name of Isaac Peyrere, a Protestant of Bordeaux, now claims notice. Some of his opinions were most bold and singular: but the cogent logic of a prison persuaded bim to abjure them
* De fide Orthodoxa, ii. 12.
with his protestantism, at the feet of Pope Alexander VII. He taught that there were men before Adam, who was the progenitor of the Jews only, and not of the Gentiles; that men were created at the beginning all over the earth; that Adam and Eve were not made at once mature, but grew up like their posterity, from childhood ; that they could not possibly attain to holiness and immortality through their original creation ; and that no man ever died on account of Adam's transgression. *
The symbolical books of the Lutheran church are in sentiment with Thomas Aquinas': and the theologiaus of that coinmunion bave been so fond of dreaming wonders respecting the condition of the first pair in paradise, that they have scarcely fallen short in extravagance of the schoolmen themselves. Two of Luther's earliest disciples, Francotitz, or Flacius, and Andrew Osiander, made themselves heads of parties: but the point in dispute between them is not worth the trouble of describing to our readers, and we pass on to the Socinians. Socinus, and the Polish divines who were confederate with him, refused to consult on this subject any other authority, than that of their own understanding. They regarded all the high notions of the perfection of virtue and bliss in the paradisiacal state, as superstitious fancies : they denied that a terrestrial immortality, or an immortality to be reached without tasting of death, was ever designed for man, bad be continued obedient: they interpreted “ the image of God,” in which he was made, to mean the permission which he had to command the use of all created things, and to exercise sovereignty over this lower world.
We have said that the Socinians professed to follow their reason only. We should do them injustice, however, not to add, that they avowed this in opposition to human traditions, creeds and commandments, not to the sacred writings. They did not set aside the scriptures, nor appeal to them as less decisive than their brethren of other denominations.
If it was their fault to lean too much to their own understandings, we may ask what sect ever existed, that did not claim to be supported by reason? Did not Augustin, as well as Pelagius, reason? Did not Duos and Thomas at least believe they were reasoning?
We have thus said what we intended on the creation of the first man ; cursorily of necessity, but we hope without confusion. In another essay we propose to offer a similar abstract of what has been advanced concerning his fall and its consequences : a longer, we fear, and a harder labour.
* Præadamitæ, sive exercitatio super versibus 12, 13 et 14, cap. 5, epist. ad Romanos : quibus inducuntur primi homines ante Adam conditi. A. S. 1655, also, Systema theol. ex Præadaunitarum hypothesi, A. S. 1655.
This work may be fouod in the Library of Harvard University.
ON THE USE OF THE TEXT, 1 JOHN, v. 7.
“ For there are three, that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost : and these three are one."
I have lately been informed that the text of the three heavenly witnesses, as it is sometimes called, has been quoted in a pulpit at Baltimore, as a good argument for the doctrine of the trinity. Most of the readers of the Christian Disciple probably know that the text is spurious. Upon this subject, I have no intention of entering into an argument, but shail merely quote two passages from professedly trinitarian writers.
The first is from an article upon the Improved Version of the New Testament, published in the Eclectic Review. The author discovers no feeling of goodwill towards the editors of this version, and writes throughout as a trinitarian, but with much learning and ability, and a considerable degree of candour. Respecting the verse in question, be says;
“Upon this passage (1 John v. 7.) we need not spend many words. It is found in no Greek manuscript, ancient or recent, except one to which we shall presently advert ;* in no ancient version, being interpolated only in the late transcripts of the Vulgate. Not one of the Greek Fathers recognizes it, though many of them collect every species and shadow of argument, down to the most allegorical and shockingly ridiculous, in favour of the doctrine of the Trinity,—though they often cite the words immediately contiguous both before and after,-and though, with immense labour and art, they extract from the next words the very sense which this passage has in following times been adduced to furnish. of the Latin Fathers, not onet has quoted it, till Eucherius of Lyons in the middle of the
* The passage in which the reviewer adverts to this manuscript begins in the following manner. “ One Greek manuscript we have said contained the clause. This is the Dublin or Monfortianus, a very recent manuscript, glaringly interpolated from the modern copies of the Vulgate, and distributed into the present division of chapters."
It has been attempted to be shown that Tertullian and Cyprian have cited the last clause of v. 7. Our readers may be satisfied on this subject, by referring to Griesbach Nov. Test. vol. ii. App. p. 13–15; or Porsou's letters to Travis, 240—282; or Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iv. 421-424. See also, for a lamentable contrast, Travis's letters, 3d edit. 82, 53, 75 - 128.
fifth century, and in his works there is much reason to believe that it has been interpolated.
“ Under these circumstances, we are unspeakably ashamed that any modern divines should have fought pedibus et unguibus, for the retention of a passage so indisputably spurious. We could adduce balf a dozen or half a score passages of ample length, supported by better authority than this, but which are rejected in every printed edition and translation.”
The other passage which I shall quote, is one which I have accidentally met with, extracted from a latin letter of bishop Lowth to Michaelis; published in Michaelis' Literarischer Buefwechsel, (Literary Correspondence,) part 2. p. 428. The following is a translation; the original I give in a note below.
“We have some wranglers in theology, sworn to follow their master, who are prepared to defend any thing, however absurd, should there be occasion. But I believe there is no one among Us, in the least degree conversant with sacred criticism, and having the use of his understanding, who would be willing to contend for the genuineness of the verse, 1 John v. 7.”*
Such, it seeins, is the opinion of learned trinitarians,and many more passages might be quoted to the same purpose. But before bringing the charge of unfairness against those gentlemen who have made use of this verse, we ought to recollect, that they may, very probably, be ignorant that its genuineness has ever been disputed. There is another fact likewise with which, perhaps, they are unacquainted, viz.that some trinitarians, including the great master of modern orthodoxy, Calvin, have thought that the verse, even upon supposition of its genoineness, did not prove so much in favour of the doctrine of the trinity as is commonly supposed. The following is part of Calvin's comment upon it.
“The expression, these three are one,' does not relate to the essence, but to the agreement of the persons spoken of. The meaning is, the Father, and his eternal Word, and Spirit barmoniously bear testimony to Cbrist. Some copies accord. ingly readers in [i. e. agree in one thing]. But although you read é sloty (are one) as it is other copies, still, there is no doubt that the Father, Word, and Spirit are said to be one
* Habemus in theologia rabulas quosdam in magistri alicujus verba juratos; nihil est tam absurdum quod illi, si res et occasio ferat, non parati siat defendere. Sed neminem credo jam apud nos esse, in Critica Sacra paulum modo versatum, et cui sanum sit sinciput, qui pro sinceritate commeatis 7mi 1 Job : v. propugnare velit.