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A CHARGE

DELIVERED TO THE

CLERGY OF

MIDDLESEX, &c.

A

REVEREND BRETHREN,
S we are here met together for the honour of God, and for

the service of his Church, it may be proper for me to say something of the state of religion, and the controversies depending. We live in a disputing age, and infidelity has been long growing upon us. It began with exploding mysteries in general, and from thence proceeded to a denial of our Lord's divinity in particular. Low notions of the person of Christ are apt to bring in low notions of his merit and satisfaction, and of the use and value of the Christian sacraments, which represent and apply them. And when faith in Christ's blood is once depreciated or frustrated, it is natural to set up works a, not only as the conditional, but as the efficacious, or even meritorious canse of salvation. The next step is to exalt morality in opposition to faith, and mere morality in opposition to instituted religion; which again prepares the way for looking upon all revealed religion as needless or useless, which comes to the same thing with denying its truth, because an all-wise God can do nothing in vain. Such is the connection or gradation of error, when once men desert the rules of reason and sobriety, to follow their own wanderings; such the obvious and easy descent from disputing the essentials of revealed religion, to denying the whole. So now our main concern is, to defend revelation against infidelity; which, one would think, should be a very easy matter; as indeed it is, if reason and argument may prevail. But yet much may be done on the other side, by a dexterous application to the passions and weaknesses of mankind: for corrupt nature is a prevalent principle, and will always make a strong party in the world; for which reason,

a Certe omnes illi qui divinitatem gare, seque adeo ad opera legis reciChristi in dubium vocant, non pos- pere: quod vel Socinianorum exemsunt non satisfactionem quoque, et plo patet. Jo. Francisc. Buddæi Ecche justificationem per fidem solam ne. Apostolica, p. 130.

it concerns us, my Reverend Brethren, as watchful guardians of the flock of Christ, to be jealous over it, at this time, with a godly jealousy, and to use our best endeavours to preserve the unwary from the wiles and artifices of such as “lie “ in wait to deceive.” Many are the ways and means of defending Christianity, well known to this learned body, and as successfully made use of, both in preaching and writing. I shall content myself with singling out one argument from the rest, and one much made use of both by ancients and moderns. I shall explain it presently, after first taking notice of the nature of the debate now on foot between Christians and Infidels. It appears to be in substance much the same with what the ancient Jews and Christians were employed in against the infidels of their times. For the present unbelievers are setting up what they call natural religion, to rival supernatural ; human reason in the heart of man, in opposition to divine reason laid down in the word of God; or to say all in short, Pagan darkness in opposition to Scripture light. When the Pagans of old presumed in like manner upon their seeming wisdom and their imaginary attainments, despising the only true wisdom from above, in comparison of their own ; the good Jews and Christians, in their respective times, represented to them, that their boasted wisdom was, for the most part, human folly ; and that whatever they really knew or taught, deserving any praise, they had mostly borrowed it from divine revelation, while they meanly and ungratefully disowned it; but that it was very wrong in them to drink only of the polluted streams, instead of coming directly to the fountainhead, and madness to prefer the faint reflections of a cloud before the open sunshine. This is a famous topic among the ancient Apologists, and has been frequently made use of since, as I have already hinted. And this is what I incline to entertain you a while with at present. I the rather choose it, because this topic has been disputed in part by some, and obscured by others, and seems to want a little clearing and settling: neither indeed is it to be admitted entire and in the gross, without proper qualifyings and distinctions. I shall first fairly and fully represent it, as it stood among the ancient Apologists, and shall next endeavour to pass a clear and right judgment upon it, and to take off unreasonable exceptions to it.

I shall begin with the Jewish Apologists, who led the way, and who gave the first hints, which the Christians coming after laid hold of and improved.

Aristobulus, an Alexandrian Jew, as is said, and a Peripatetic philosopher, preceptor also to Ptolemy Philometor, about 160 years before Christ, affirms directly, that both Pythagoras and Plato had copied many things from Moses's Law, transferring the same into their own philosophy b. And to make it appear the more probable, he suggests that the Hebrew Scriptures, or rather some extracts of them, had been translated into Greek before the time of Alexander the Great, and even before the rise of the Persian monarchy: a fact, which learned men have been much divided upon formerly, and do not now commonly admit c. But unless he had good proof of it, it was needless for him to insist upon it, since his main argument did not require it ; for Pythagoras and Plato might have borrowed many things at second or at third hand from the Jewish Church, without having a sight of the Jewish Scriptures ; and Aristobulus might have learned from the testimony of Megasthenes, a Pagan writer, who lived about 150 years before him, that the Greek philosophers had borrowed many of their notions from the Jewsd. The same Aristobulus elsewhere intimates, that not only Pythagoras and Plato, but Socrates also, and Orpheus, and Hesiod, and Homer, and Linus had drank at the same fountains, enriching their

6 Aristobulus apud Clem. Αlex. παρά τοις έξω της Ελλάδος φιλοσοStrom. i. p. 110, III. ed. Oxon. φούσι. τα μεν παρ' Ινδοίς υπό των Euseb. Prep. Evang. lib. ix. cap. 6. Βραχμάνων, τα δε εν τη Συρία υπό των lib. xiii. cap. 12.

καλουμένων Ιουδαίων. Clem. Alex. c Vid. Huet. Dem. Evang. Prop: Strom. lib. i. p: 360. Conf. Euseb. iv. p. 132, 133. Nourrii Apparat. ad Præp.

Evang. lib. ix. cap. 6. p. 410. Bibl. Max. vol. i. p. 389. Fabric. N.B. The same words are quoted Bibl. Græc. lib. iii. cap. 12. p. 316. by Cyril of Alexandria, as AristobuProlegom. ad Grab. Septuag. tom. ii. lus's own words, (Cyrill. contr. Jul. C. I. prop. I.

Hodii Text. Bibl. lib. iv. p. 134.) probably because

Jenkin's Reasonable- Aristobulus had quoted them from ness, &c. vol. i. p. 93. There is little Megasthenes; for Clemens and Eureason to doubt, but that at least part sebius both quote them as Megasof the Bible was translated into Greek thenes's, and the very manner of before the time of Alexander the Great. expression shews that they are not Ibid.

Aristobulus's own. See Hody de 1 "Απαντα μέν τοι τα περί φύσεως Bibl. Text. p. 54. ειρημένα παρά τους αρχαίοις λέγεται

p. 570, &c.

theology from the holy Scriptures e; nay, and that Aristotle's philosophy had taken several things from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets', or depended upon them.

I am aware, that a learned writers of our own has hinted his suspicion that the writings going under the name of Aristobulus were a forgery of the second century: and another very considerable author h seems in a great measure to favour the suspicion. But other as learned writers i think, that the suspicion is not sufficiently grounded, or is far from probable: and some have professedly undertaken to clear up the objected difficulties, and to assert the genuineness of the writings ascribed to Aristobulusk. I make not myself a party or a moderator in that dispute: neither is it necessary that I should, since little depends upon it as to our present argument. If Aristobulus's pieces are genuine, then he is the first man of the ancient Apologists (whom we have any remains of) that so managed the dispute in favour of revelation against the Pagans: if not, Josephus then leads the way, whom I come next to mention.

Josephus, in his two books against Apion, is very full and particular upon the same argument. He observes, that the famous Pythagoras, the father of the Pagan philosophy and theology, was well acquainted with the Jewish institutes, and was a great admirer and follower of them!: which he confirms by the testimony of the Pagan biographer Hermippus, who, in his life of Pythagoras, had observed that that philosopher had taken several of his notions from the Jews, adopting them for his own".

Josephus himself adds, that it is said with truth, that that philosophern transferred many of the Jewish rules into his own phi

Αpud Εuseb. Prep. Evangel. κεϊν των φιλοσοφησάντων, ου μόνον ib. xiii. cap. 12.

e

έγνωκώς τα παρ' ημίν δηλός έστιν, αλλά f Aristobulus apud Clerm. Αlex. και ζηλωτής αυτών εκ πλείστου γεγεStrom. v. p. 705:

muévos. Joseph. contr. Ap. lib. i. 6 Hody de Bibl. Text. Original. cap. xxii

. p. 453. lib.i. cap. 9. p. 49. et lib. iv. p. 570. m Ταύτα δ' έπραττε και έλεγε, τας

* Prideaux, Connect. p. i. lib. i. Ιουδαίων και θρακών δόξας μιμούμεP. 38, &c. Conf. Carpzov. Crit. Sacr. vos, kai perapépwv els éautóv.' Herp. 490.

mipp. ap. Joseph. ibid. p. 453. This i Fabric. Bibl. Græc. lib. iii. cap. 11. Hermippus lived about 250 years p. 281. Wolfii Biblioth. Hebr. vol. i. before Christ. See Hod. Bibl. Text. p. 215.

k Whiston's Append. to the Literal η Λέγεται γάρ ώς αληθώς ο ανήρ Accomplishment, p. 124, &c. 141, &c. εκείνος πολλά τών παρά Ιουδαίοις νο

1 Πυθαγόρας τοίνυν ο Σάμιος αρχαίος μίμων εις την εαυτού μετενεγκείν φιλοών, σοφία δε και τη περί το θείον σοφίαν. Ιbid. p. 453. ευσεβεία πάντων υπειλημμένος διενεγ- He seems here to allude to what

P. II.

losophy; thereby confirming what Aristobulus had said before. A little after, he observes from Clearchus, a disciple of Aristotle, how that philosopher in his travels had struck up an acquaintance with a Jew of extraordinary worth, and had learned much from himo. Which again confirms what Aristobulus reports of Aristotle's philosophy, that it derived several things from the Law and Prophets P.

From Josephus the Jew, I may now proceed to Christian Fathers and Apologists. Justin Martyr, in his first Apology, expresses himself thus : “ Moses is older than any of the Greek “ writers: and as to what the philosophers and poets have said, “either of the immortality of the soul, or of punishments after

death, or of contemplation of heavenly things, or the like doc“ trines, they took their hints from the Prophets, whom they “ consulted and built upon; and by this means some seeds of “ truth seem to have been scattered amongst all: though at “the same time it is evident, from their notorious disagreeing “ amongst themselves, that they understood not those things to any degree of exactness 9."

The same Justin, in his Parænesis, dwells upon the argument more at large; observing that Orpheus, and Homer, and Solon, and Pythagoras, and Plato had all been in Egypt, and had there learned to improve their theology by the help of Moses's writings. He first asserts it in the general', and then goes on to speak more distinctly to every particulars: and when he comes in the close, to assign his reason for insisting so much upon this topic, he tells his readers, that it was to convince the Greeks, that there was no learning true religion from them, who had nothing considerable of their own to boast of; and as to what they had

bul. ap.

had been said by Aristobulus, Ilvda- 9 Πρεσβύτερος γάρ Μωσης και πάνω γόρας πολλά των παρ' ημίν μετενέγκας των των εν "Ελλησι συγγραφέων και εις την εαυτού δογματοποιίαν. Αristo- πάντα όσα περί αθανασίας ψυχής, ή

Clem. Alex. Strom. i. p. 111. Twpiêu râv jetà Bávarov, h dewpias This I note as a probable argument ουρανίων, ή των ομοίων δογμάτων, και to prove that Aristobulus's pieces φιλόσοφοι και ποιηταί έφασαν, παρά were then extant ; only Josephus των προφητών τας αφορμές λαβόντες, would not name him, because the και νοήσαι δεδύνηνται, και εξηγήσαντο. testimony of one of his own side όθεν παρά πάσι σπέρματα αληθείας would have weighed little with the δοκεί είναι. ελέγχονται δε μή ακριβώς adversary.

νοήσαντες, όταν εναντία αυτοί εαυτοίς • Joseph. contr. Apion. lib. i.c. 22. Néywow, Just. Mart. Apol. i. cap. 57. p. 454, 455. Clem. Alex. Strom. i. p. 86. edit. Oxon. p. 67. Cant. P. 358. Euseb. Præp. Evang. lib. ix. r Just. ad Græc. cohort. cap. xv.

p. 76. edit. Oxon. D See above, p. 6.

s Just. ibid. cap. xv. xvi.-XXXV.

cap. 5, 6.

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