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he a Gentile ? The sincerity of his testimony is approved by the persecutions, the sufferings, the danger, and often the certainty of martyrdom, which the profession of Christianity incurred. Is he a Jew? The sincerity of his testimony is approved by all these evidences, and in addition to them by this well known fact, that the faith and doctrine of Christianity was in the highest degree repugnant to the wishes and prejudices of that people. It ought never to be forgotten, that in as far as Jews are concerned, Christianity does not owe a single proselyte to its doctrines, but to the power and credit of its evidences, and that Judea was the chief theatre on which these evidences were exhibited. It cannot be too often repeated, that these evidences rest not upon arguments but upon facts, and that the time, and the place, and the circumstance, rendered these facts accessible to the enquiries of all who chose to be at the trouble of this examination. And there can be no doubt that this trouble was taken, whether we reflect on the nature of the Christian faith, as being so offensive to the pride and bigotry of the Jew. ish people, or whether we reflect on the consequences of embracing it, which were derision, and hatred, and banishment, and death. We may be sure, that a step which involved in it such painful sacrifices, would not be entered into upon light and insufficient grounds. In the sacrifices they made, the Jewish converts gave every evidence of having delivered an honest testimony in favour of the Christian miracles; and when we reflect, that many of them must have been eye-witnesses, and all of them had it in their power to verify these miracles, by conversation and correspondence with bye-standers, there can be no doubt, that it was not merely an honest, but a competent testimony. There is no fact better established, than that many thousands among the Jews believed in Jesus and his apostles ; and we have therefore to allege their conversion, as a strong additional confirmation to the written testimony of the original historians.
85. One of the popular objections against the truth of the Christian miracles, is the general infidelity of the Jewish people. We are convinced, that at the moment of proposing this objection, an actual delusion exists in the mind of the infidel. In his conception, the Jews and the Christians stand opposed to each other. In the belief of the latter, he sees nothing but a party or an interested testimony, and in the unbelief of the former, he
sees a whole people persevering in their ancient faith and re. sisting the new faith, on the ground of its insufficient evidences. He forgets all the while, that the testimony of a great many of these Christians, is in fact the testimony of Jews. He only attends to them in their present capacity. He contemplates them in the light of Christians, and annexes to them all that suspicion and incredulity which are generally annexed to the testimony of an interested party. He is aware of what they are at present, Christians and defenders of Christianity; but he has lost sight of their original situation, and is totally unmindful of this circumstance, that in their transition from Judaism to Christianity, they have given him the very evidence he is in quest of. Had another thousand of these Jews renounced the faith of their ancestors, and embraced the religion of Jesus, they would have been equivalent to a thousand additional testimonies in favour of Christianity, and testimonies too of the strongest and most unsuspicious kind, that can well be imagined. But this evi. dence would make no impresssion on the mind of an infidel, and the strength of it is disguised, even from the eyes of the Christian. These thousand, in the moment of their conversion, lose the appellation of Jews, and merge into the name and distinction of Christians. The Jews, though diminished in number, re- , tain the national appellation; and the obstinacy with which they persevere in the belief of their ancestors, is still looked upon as the adverse testimony of an entire people. So long as one of that people continues a Jew, his testimony is looked upon as a serious impediment in the way of the Christian evidences. But the moment he becomes a Christian, his motives are contemplated with distrust. He is one of the obnoxious and suspected party. The mind carries a reference only to what he is, and not to what he has been. It overlooks the change of sentiment, and forgets, that in the renunciation of old habits, and old prejudices, in defiance to sufferings and disgrace, in attachment to a religion so repugnant to the pride and bigotry of their nation, and above all, in their submission to a system of doctrines which rested its authority on the miracles of their own time, and their own remembrance, every Jewish convert gives the most decisive testimony which man can give for the truth and divinity of our religion.
(To be continued.)
OF THE METHODIST DOCTRINES.
From the London Methodist Magazine.
(Concluded from page 215.) I would also notice another source of false reasoning and erfor, which is, when we imagine that the terms made use of in the sacred writings, by which it has pleased God to reveal himself to man, are used in that gross sense, in which the same terms are used, as applicable to man. Thus no person can reasonably suppose that the Divine Being has arms or fect; that he walk. eth or rideth upon the wings of the wind. Those expressions, and many others, it is well known, are used to convey to us the knowledge of the Divine power, goodness, justice, wrath, mercy, &c. So when the terms Father and Son are used, no person surely would apply them in the gross sense; but as it hath pleased God to make use of those expressions as the most suitable, we are to receive them as they are given in the Sacred Writings. The terms Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are there used to convey to us the doctrine of three persons in one Godhead. That those words are the most proper, we cannot doubt, because they are the terms used by the Holy Spirit, and used in reference to the Triune God; not merely in reference to the incarnation of our Lord, but to the eternal Jehovah. person replies, “ But I cannot comprehend how those terms can apply to a spiritual and Divine Being,” we say, our reason is not to be the judge of the propriety of such expressions; but as it is the revelation of God, we receive it without attempting to fathom the mystery.
The primitive Christian Church undoubtedly received that doctrine; and the compilers of our Liturgy have interwoven it throughout their excellent work.
A few extracts from some of the ancient fathers, will be sufficient to shew what the doctrine of the primitive church was, on that important subject.
Justin Martyr, in his Apology for the Christians, has the following expression; “ But now if we say, that the Logos of God, is properly the begotten of God, by a generation quite different from that of men, as I have already mentioned, yet even this, I say, is no more than what you might very well tolerate."
Again. “One article of our faith is, that Christ is the first begotten of God.” Again, “ For they who affirm the Son to be the Father, are guilty of not knowing the Father, and likewise of being ignorant that the Father of the universe has a Son, who being the Logos, and first begotten of God, is God.”
Tertullian, in his Apology for the Christians, reasons largely on the subject, and at the close of one train of arguments, has the following expression : “ Thus it is, that the Logos, which came forth from God, is both God, and the Son of God, and those two are one."
Vincentius Lirinensis wrote his Commonitory in the year 434, and clearly states the doctrine of the primitive church to be, that 66 there were two substances in Christ, one of which was Divine, the other human; one begotten of the Father, the other born of his mother." Again, “Thus in one and the same Christ, there are two substances, but one Divine, the other human. One from God the Father, the other from the virgin mother. One co-eternal and equal to the Father, the other temporary and inferior to the Father. One of the same substance with the. Father, the other of the same substance with the mother; yet these two different substances make but one and the same Christ."
The errors which arose in the Christian Church, in the three first ages, were numerous, for one error generally opened the way for another. Sabellius began with denying Jesus to be the Son of God as to his Divine nature; but at the same time allowed him to be God.
Dionysius, one of the Christian Bishops, in a letter which he wrote on that occasion, strongly reprobates the novel system of Sabellius, and speaks of Jesus as “the only begotten Son."
When the Arian heresy more fully and openly appeared, a council of the chief Christian Bishops was held at Nice, at which the Emperor presided, and where the Creed, generally termed the Nicene Creed, was formed, and was signed by three hundred and eighteen Bishops. In that Council the following articles were inserted in the Creed, as expressive of the faith of the Christian Church, and also as a bulwark against any future attacks on that faith. “ And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the onlybegotten Son of God, Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God, Begotten not made, Being of one substance with the Father By whom all things were made."
Some time aftewards, the Creed which is generally termed the Creed of St. Athanasius, was formed, still more effectually to explain and guard the important doctrine of the Trinity. The following parts of the Creed, fully prove what was then the catholic doctrine : “ The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten.-For the right faith is, that we believe and confess: that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man ; God, of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds : and Man, of the Substance of his Mother, born in the world ; Perfect God and perfect Man: of a reasonable soul, and human flesh subsisting ; Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead: and inferior to the Father, as touching his Manhood."
The same doctrine runs through every part of the Liturgy, and proves that the venerable Reformers stood firm on that important ground. In the articles of religion which were drawn up by them, they have particularly stated that sacred truth, “ The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father."
The venerable founder of Methodism, who appears to have been particularly directed of God, did not neglect to state that sacred truth. In his notes on the first chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews he says,*
* “ Thou art my Son, God of God, Light of Light. This day have I begotten thee. I have begotten thee from eternity, which by its unalterable permanency of duration, is one continued, unsuccessive day, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son. I will own myself to be his Father, and him to be my Son, by eminent tokens of my peculiar love. The former clause relates to his natural Sonship, by an eternal inconceivable generation ; the other to his Father's acknowledgment, and treatment of him, as his incarnate Son." Again, “ By whom also he made the worlds ; therefore the Son was before all worlds. His glory reaches from everlasting to everlasting, though God spake by Him to us only in these last days.” Such was the view which Mr. Wesley had of that truth, and it is well known that in many of his hymns, and those of his brother Charles, the same doctrine is clearly stated :
* It is in general well known to the Methodists, that his notes on the New Testament, and Sermons, are the legal standard of our doctrines.