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of philosophy. * For something however much more than this Dr. Horsley contends, and he tells us that the notions respecting the Godhead of the Platonic school, "had they been of later date than the commencement of Christianity, might have passed for a very mild corruption of the Christian faith; but being in truth much older, have all the appearance of a near, though very imperfect view, of the doctrine which was afterwards current in the Christian church.”+ With regard to the three things above mentioned, the Supreme Being, his Mind, and the Soul of the Universe, Dr. Horsley affirms, that "they are more strictly speaking one, than any thing in nature of which unity may be predicated. No one of them can be supposed without the other two. The second and third being, the first is necessarily supposed: and the first [Ayolor] being, the second and third, (Nøs and tuxn] must come forth. Concerning their equality, I will not say ihat the Platonists have spoken with the same accuracy, which the Christian fathers use; but they include the three principles in the divine nature, in the to movz and this notion implies the same equality, which we mantain; at the same time I confess, that the circumstance of their equality was not always strictly adhered to by the younger Platonists."

But we proceed. The great majority of the early Fathers had been instructed in the Platonic philosophy, in which if the Nous, or, what is the same thing, the Logos, was not represented as a person, it was at least spoken of in the language of strong personification. Philo, a Jew of Alexandria, of the same philosophy, and of the same school with themselves, had in his writings represented the Logos, as having often assumed an occasional personality, and as having been the medium of the Divine communications to the Jewish people. With his writings they were well acquainted; and with notions of the Logos derived from him and from their philosophy, they came to the study of the Christian scriptures. Here they found, or believed they found, that Christ was spoken of under the name of the Logos. They readily understood the term in a similar

• Hist. Crit. Philos. edit. sec. tom. i. p. 689. seq. + Charge ü. § 1.

# Letters to Dr. Priestley, Let. 13.

sense to that in which it was used in their philosophy. They proceeded therefore to ascribe to Christ the same high character, and the same intimate union, with the divinity, which they had before ascribed to their Platonic Logos. They conceived him, according to Dr. Priestley, to have been at first the attribute of Wisdom in the Deity; but that afterward, before the creation of the universe, (this attribute being converted into a person) he assuined a proper personality. They believed with Philo, that the Logos was the medium of God's dispensations to the Jews; but they differed from him in supposing that personality permanent, which he had made only occasional. Thus, in consequence of the opinions and language with which they had been familiar, from the coincidence of a term used in the scriptures with a term in their philosophy, from a fondness for mystical and fanciful speculations characteristic of their school, and from a desire of elevating the character of their master, and freeing themselves from the reproach of the cross, the doctrine of the preexistence and divinity of the Christian Logos was formed by the early Fathers. It is a doctrine, something like which we might perhaps, from a consideration of these circumstances, without any previous knowledge of the fact, reasonably expect them to have invented.

It may not perhaps be generally known, especially to many modern defenders of the doctrine of the trinity, how very large a proportion of the early Fathers had been disciples, and continued to be admirers of the Platonic philosophy. On this subject I will produce the impartial testimony of Brucker, himself a believer in the orthodox doctrine of the trinity, and one who supposes that the orthodox doctrine was corrupted and debased, by the Antenicene Fathers, from the influence of their Platonic notions and the use of Platonic language. Part of what he has stated is correctly expressed in the following passage of his epitomizer, Enfield:

“There can be no doubt, that a strong predilection for Platonic tenets prevailed among those Alexandrian philosophers, who became converts to the Christian faith. These philosophers, who, whilst they corrupted the system, had been accuse" tomed to entertain the highest reverence for the name of Plato,

easily credited the report, that the doctrine of Plato concerning the divine nature had been derived from revelation, and hence thought themselves justified in attempting a coalition between Plato and Jesus Christ. A union of Platonic and Christian doctrines was certainly attempted in the second century, by Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, and Clemens Alexandrinus, in whose writings we frequently meet with Platonic sentiments and language; and it is not improbable, that this corruption took its rise still earlier. In opposing the Gnostic heresies, those Christian teachers, who had been instructed in the Alex, andrian doctrines, adopted from them whatever they thought consonant to Christian truth, and favorable to their cause. From the time that Ammonius Sacca, in order to recommend his Eclectic system to the attention of Christians, accommodated his language to the opinions which were then received among them, the mischief rapidly increased. Origen, and other Christians, who studied in his school, were so far duped by this artifice, as to imagine that they discovered, in the system of the the Platonists, traces of a pure doctrine concerning the Divine Nature, which, on the ground above-mentioned, they judged themselves at liberty to incorporate into the Christian faith. Entering upon the office of Christian teachers under the bias of a strong partiality for: Plato and his doctrine, they tinctured the minds of their disciples with the same prejudice, and thus disseminated Platonic notions, as Christian truths; doubtless, little aware how far this practice would corrupt the purity of the Christian faith, and how much confusion and dissension it would occasion in the Christian church."*

That Justin Martyrt had been a disciple of the Platonic

· Enfield's Hist. of Phil. B. vi. c. 2. See Brucker's chapter on the phi. losophy of the ancient Christians, particularly axii. “Mature hanc de Platonicorum quorundam dogmatum veritate et origine Hebraica opinionem inter Christianos invaluisse, et jam seculo post C. N. primo ejus vestigia reperiri, ex supra dictis est manifestum. Maxime vero incrementa ea cepit solito majora, ubi viri docti, qui Alexandriæ philosophiam Platonicam didice. runt ad Christiana sacra transivissent,” &c. Tom. ji p. 337.

With regard to what is said of Justin Martyr and the following Fathors, so far as the authority of Brucker is quoted, see the chapter above men. tioned, and that which follows it 'on the pbilosophy of the Christian Fathers. in particular," or the two corresponding chapters in Enfield.

No, 1. Vol. JIJ.

philosophy, there is no question, as we are informed of it by himself in his shorter Apology. A considerable part at least of his doctrine concerning the Logos, as well as some other of his doctrines, ate, as is shown by Brucker, to be traced to this philosophy. It is clear, says Brucker, that he cannot be wholly freed from the charge of Platonism. We shall do him no injustice, he adds, if we number him among the Platonic philosophers, but among the deserters from Plato to Christ. “He used words borrowed from his philosophy extremely improper and unfit in speaking of the Logos."

Theophilus of Antioch has some things, says Brucker, which shew that he was strongly attached to the Platonic philosophy, especially his doctrine concerning the Logos.

Athenagcras was an examiner of the opinions of all sects, but particularly attached to the doctrines of Platonism, which, according to Brucker, he has introduced among and united with those of Christianity, especially in reference to the Logos.

Irenæus, says the same authority, was educated in Platonism. “He has in some things such manifest marks of Alexandrine Platonism, that Massuet, who has endeavoured to free him from the charge of those errors of doctrine which have been imputed to him, cannot deny it, and it is sufficiently ap. parent, that he had the same opinion of the Platonic philosophy, which led very many Fathers of the second century into error.' “He transferred into Christianity the errors of the Alexandrine system, if not in respect to the doctrine, at least in respect to the representation of the doctrine of the holy trinity.”

Tertullian is as little liable as any one of the Fathers to the charge of Platonism; "but like the other teachers of the church he borrowed,” says Brucker, “from the Platonic philosophy, arguments, ideas, and modes of expression, to explain and defend the mystery of the trinity.”

I might proceed in quoting the similar mention which Brucker makes of other Fathers, particularly Clemens Alexandrinus and Origen; but it is unnecessary after the specimens I have given. The fact of the Platonism of the early Fathers is conceded by Dr. Horsley: “I am very sensible," he says, "that the Platonizers of the second century were the

orthodox of that age. I have not denied this. On the contrary, I have endeavoured to shew that their Platonism brings no imputation upon their orthodoxy. The advocates of the catholic faith, in modern times, have been too apt to take alarm at the charge of Platonism. I rejoice and glory in the opprobrium. I not only confess, but I maintain, not a perfect agreement, but such a similitude, as speaks a common origin, and affords an argument in confirmation of the Catholic doctrine, from its conformity to the most ancient and universal traditions."*

There can be no doubt, from what has been stated, that the doctrine of the trinity might have had its origin in the Platonic philosophy. Further proof however that it might have had such an origin, is derived from the particular consideration of two circumstances. One of these is the manner in which this doctrine, or rather those opinions, which were afterward formed into this doctrine, were at first explained and defended. On this subject I quote the words of Dr. Horsley. “It must be acknowledged,” he says, “that the first converts from the Platonic school, took advantage of the resemblance between the Evangelic and the Platonic doctrine on the subject of the Godhead, to apply the principles of their old philosophy to the explication and the confirmation of the articles of their faith. They defended it by arguments drawn from Platonic principles; they even propounded it in Platonic language: which to themselves and their contemporaries was the most familiar and intelligible, that could be employed upon so abstruse a subject. Nor was this practice to be condemned, so long as the scriptures and the catholic traditions were made the test of truth; so long as revelation was not pressed into the service of philosophy, by any accommodation of the pure evangelical doctrine to preconceived opinions; but philosophy was made to exert her powers in the defence of revelation, and to lend her language to be the vehicle of its sacred truths. These might be deemed the most promising means that could be employed, for bringing over more converts from the pagan schools. nd the writers, who evangelized in this philosophical stile, conceived

• Letters to Dr. Priestley, Let. 13.

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