Imatges de pàgina
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in Heaven and sent down ; for they do not understand it as Apollinarius is said to have done, That this heavenly flesh was from eternity ; but made at a certain time before the world, as the Arians said bis divine nature was ; so that this opinion, as weil as the former, fits those Antipædobaptists best that are inclined to Socinianisın. But what then will these men make at last of our blessed Saviour? The old heretics, some of them, denied him to be God, and others of them denied bim to be properly man; but these deny both, and say that he is neither God, nor properly man; - as not being made of a woman, nor the seed of David. Will they make no more of him than the Jesus Christ of the Quakers ? many of whom speak of Jesus Christ as being nothing else but something within themselves, a notion of their brains ! But there are, as I said, few of the English Antipædobaptists that hold this: some foreign ones, it seems, do.

Whereas Gennadius imputes, as I said, this opinion to Origen ; I did suspect it (when in the first edition I wrote it down) to be Gennadius's mistake (having never observed any saying of Origen tending this way); and I do since find that Huetius has proved it to be so. He must have mistaken it for another, which Origen did indeed hold, and which is in the consequence so near akin to this, that they are by Athanasius both condemned in one sentence: he held a pre-existence, not of Christ's flesh, but of his human soul. He had imbibed from Plato's notions a fancy that all souls were created at the beginning; and then he thought it probable that, in that pre-existent state, some of these souls behaved themselves better than others, and so were put into better bodies; and then (according to that rambling faculty that he had of building castles in the air, one on the top of another) he imagined that there might be some one soul among these that might behave itself far better than any of the rest, and so might be chosen by God out of the rest to be assumed by the dóyos. To which sense he interprets Psalm xlv. 7, making it to be said to this soul, Thou hast loved

righteousness, fc. therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellors. After which he finds out a great many pieces of work for this soul to do, before the time that it was united to the body that was born of the Virgin Mary.

The Christians of those older times took great offence at his thus bringing the romantic notions of the Heathen pbilosophers and the fictions of his own brain into the most sacred points of the Christian faith, the main property whereof is, that it be kept whole, undefiled, unmixed, and unaltered, and, as Tertullian says, not to be mended. And when his works came abroad in the world, there was for several ages a debate among the churches, whether they should receive his books and honour his memory, as of a Catholic Christian, or hold both in execration, as of a heretic. And though the admiration they had of his great parts, learning, memory, pains, &c. (which were greater than had been in any Christian before, or perhaps have been since) and their love to the piety that he had shewn, did much prejudice them in his favour, yet, because of this and other heterodox tenets, he was by the greatest part condemned (such a zeal the Christians of that time shewed against any one that went about to bring any alteration into their form of sound words) ; but many on the other side did attempt apologies for him; the first and best of which is, that which was drawn up by Pamphilus the martyr, assisted by Eusebius, in six books.

Some of his tenets these apologists do endeavour to justify, by giving a qualifying explication of them; and some that were imputed to him, they shew to be im. puted wrongfully. But this, which I have been speaking of, there is not one of them pretends to justify; but yet they say he ought not to be accounted a heretic, because he did not affirm it positively, or teach it dogmatically, or hold it obstinately; but only proposed it to the consideration of the hearers or readers, whether such a thing might not be. So Pampbilus (after he had endeavoured to refute the rest of the accusations

against him from his own words) when he comes to this (wbich is the eighth of the nine capital errors there discussed) says,

*" I must make answer here myself.”The answer he makes, is, that Origen, knowing that “That tenet of the soul is not plainly contained in the doctrine of the Church, did (whenever some words of Scripture gave him occasion, or a hint rather, of disputing of it, and he did discuss and handle what seemed probable to him thereon) propose his thoughts to be judged of, and approved by, the readers, not defining any thing as a plain (or positive) point [dogma), or hava ing the authority of an article [sententia), and did

generally add to this such qualifying words as these : If that account which I give of the soul do seem to any one to have any probability in it.” And that he never wrote any treatise particularly of the soul (as he had done of almost every thing else) which Pamphilus says, is a sign that he“ did not venture to define any thing dogmatically about it.”

This part of the apology is true ; for, whereas there are but two places in his works where he insists purposely on this pre-existence of Christ's soul ; one contra Cels. lib. 1; the other, tepi áo xwv, lib. 2, c. 6: in other places he only touches it by the by. In the first of these, he (as soon as he begins to talk of that matter of the pre-existence of souls, upon which it is that he proceeds to speak of Christ's soul) admonishes the reader thus: -1“ I speak this according to the notion of Pythagoras, Plato, and Empedocles, whom Celsus often quotes.” And in the latter of them, where he purposely insists on the articles of Christ's incarnation, he first confesses it to be a miracle and mystery, which it is beyond the power of the apostles, oi even of the highest angels to explain ; but yet, in the next words, ventures on the explication of it (which he gives to the purpose aforesaid, of a soul pre-existing and united to the dóyos, and then incarnated) but premises

* Pamphili Apolog. prope finem.
* C. Cels. lib. 1, p. 26. Ed. Cant.

that he will not define rashly [temeritate aliqua], but propose rather“ his own guesses (or imaginations, suspiciones nostras] than any positive affirmations.” He does not say, “It is every whit as clearly revealed as any article of faith whatsoever;" or, “No Christian doctrine is more clearly deļivered than is this of my discourse."

These excuses did alleviate, but not quite take off the scandal taken at this innovation in the faith. When a man in his station, a presbyter of the Church, does vent any such odd and singular fancy in religion, though he do it with ever so much caution and declaration, that he is not positive in it, yet it always does some hurt, because of the inclination and itch that people have to catch at a new-fangled opinion; and it cannot be so absurd but that it will meet with some sorts of men or women at least, whose brains stand awry in that particular, enough to make them embrace it. It is always remembered among the heads of accusation afterwards brought against him; and in that solemn and authoritative denunciation of him for a heretic, given out by Theophilus, the patriarch of Alexandria, * as the pre-existence of souls in general makes the first, so this pre-existence of Christ's soul in particular makes the sixth of the thirty-five errors there imputed to him. And the patriarch is particularly enraged at his perverting the sense of that text (Phil. ii. 6, 7.) ékévwgev ťavrov, by giving a new interpretation of it adapted to his new hypothesis.

I believe Theophilus must have taken this from some book of his not now extant; for he never, as I remember, misapplies it so in those that are: he often applies that text, as other Christians do, to the dóyos. I will give an instance in the next chapter; and so for John i. 10, Col. i. 15, 16; he even in the midst of his dreams did never dream of a man-Creator.

The place of Athanasius, where he condemns, in one sentence, as I said, both this opinion of the human soul, and the other in the flesh, of Christ preexisting, is in his epistle to Epictetus. 'Ekórwç karayνύσονται εαυτων πάντες οι νομίζοντες προ της Μαρίας είναι την εν αυτως σάρκα, και προ ταύτης έσχηκέναι ψυχήν ανθρωπίνην τον Θεόν λόγον, και εν αυτη προ της επιδημίας αιει γεγεννησθαι. . ' So they will all condemn themselves • that think Christ's flesh was before Mary; and that

* Epist. Paschal. 1,

before her, God the Word had a human soul, in which he was before his coming into the world.'

God Almighty preserve to us the old Christian religion, and keep us in the love of it, and deliver us from all new ones, and from any such hankering after them as may argue our being weary of the old ! But to return to the tenets of the English Antipædobaptists.

6. Another opinion which they hold more generally, is the Millennary opinion; they do many of them take that prophecy (Rev. xx. 4, 5.) of the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, &c. and which had not worshipped the Beast, &c. living and reigning with Christ a thousand years, in a proper sense ; so as to reckon that the saints shall rise from the dead 1000 years before the others shall. And they think that Christ will then come down, and be here upon the earth (though that be not said in the text) for that thousand years; and then, Satan being let loose to deceive the nations for some time, the general resurrection and end of the world will be.

In the reciting and inculcating this doctrine to other people that are not of their way, many of them are apt, instead of saying the saints shall rise before the wicked, to say, we shall rise before you.

7. Another thing which almost all the Antipædobaptists in England do hold, is, that that decree of the apostles at Jerusalem, mentioned in Acts xv. 29, of abstaining from blood, and from things strangled, does still oblige all Christians ; — so they will eat of no such things.

In these two last - mentioned opinions, they have many of the most ancient Catholic fathers out their side; and in the latter of the two, the Greek Church

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