Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

A LETTER

WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1730,

CONCERNING THE QUESTION, WHETHER THE LOGOS SUPPLIED THE PLACE OF A HUMAN SOUL IN THE PERSON

OF JESUS CHRIST.

TO WHICH ARE NOW ADDED,

TWO POSTSCRIPTS:

THE FIRST CONTAINING AN EXPLICATION OF THOSE WORDS, THE
SPIRIT, THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE SPIRIT OF GOD, AS USED IN
THE SCRIPTURES; THE SECOND, CONTAINING REMARKS
UPON THE THIRD PART OF THE LATE BISHOP OF
CLOGHER'S VINDICATION OF THE HISTORIES

OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT.

Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal

life, and they are they which testify of me. John v. 39, . Ergo nec Parentum, nec Majorum Error sequendus est :

sed Auctoritas Scripturarum, et Dei docentis Imperium. Hieron. in Jer. cap. ix. ver. 12–14.

THE PREFACE.

THOUGH the names in this letter are fictitious, (as they always were, and the same that appear now,) it is a part of a real correspondence. Papinian, who was a man of a mature age, of great eminence, and a diligent reader of the sacred scriptures, has long since accomplished his course in this world. Philalethes is still living. The letter sent to Papinian was never returned, but Philalethes kept a copy of it. Though written almost thirty years ago, it has hitherto lain concealed in the writer's cabinet. Nor has it, till

very lately, been shown to more than two persons, one of whom is deceased. Whether this will be reckoned full proof, that the writer is not forward to engage in religious disputes, I cannot say. This however is certain : he would have great reason to think himself happy, if, with the assistance of others, without noise and disturbance, in the way of free, calm, and peaceable debate, he could clear up a controverted point of religion, to general satisfaction.

If any should ask, why is this letter published now? I would answer in the words of Solomon : & There is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” But whether the present season has been fitly chosen, the event under the conduct of Divine Providence will best show.

The reader is desired to take notice, that whatever he sees at the bottom of the pages, is additional. There are also some additions in the letter itself, especially near the end, where more texts are explained than were in the original letter.

For better understanding the argument, it may be needful to observe, for the sake of some, that by divers ancient writers we are assured, it was the opinion of Arius and his followers, · That our Saviour took Hesh of Mary, but not a • soul :' that Christ had flesh only, as a covering for his • Deity : and that the Word in him was the same as the • soul in us: and that the Word, or the Deity in Christ, was liable to sufferings in the body.'

Mr. Whiston, in his Historical Memoirs of the Life of Dr. Clarke, giving an account of the act in the divinity schools at Cambridge, in the year 1709, when Mr. Clarke, then rector of St. James's, received the doctor's degree, says, at p. 20, 21, . In the course of this act, where I was present,

Professor James digressed from one of the doctor's • questions, and pressed him hard to condemn one of the

opinions, which I had just then published in my Sermons • and Essays. Which book he held in his hand, when he ' was in the chair. I suppose, it might be this : that our • Saviour had no human soul, but that the Divine Logos or • Word supplied its place. However, Dr. Clarke, who, I • believe, bad not particularly examined that point, did prudently avoid either the approbation or condemnation

σαρκα μονον τον Σωτηρα απο Μαριας ειληφεναι, διαβεβαιωμενοι, KAU BXe yuxnv. Epiph. de Arianis in Indic. T. 1. p. 606.

Αλλα και αρνονται ψυχην αυτον ανθρωπινην ειληφεναι. Ιd. H. 69, n. 19, p. 743. A. Conf. n. 48–51.

Αρειος δε σαρκα μονης προς αποκρυφης της θεοτητος ομολογει αντι δε τα εσωθεν εν ημιν ανθρωπο, τετ' επι της ψυχης, τον λογον εν τη σαρκι λεγει γεγονevai, k. d. Athan. Contr. Apollin. l. 2, n. 3. p. 942. C.

In eo autem quod Christum sine animå solam carnem suscepisse arbitrantur, minus noti suni-sed hoc verum esse, et Epiphanius non tacuit, et ego ex eorum quibusdam scriptis et collocutionibus, certissime inveni. August. de Hær. c. 49.

a

b

[ocr errors]

it,

[ocr errors]

of it. Yet have I reason to believe, he long afterwards • came into it, upon a further examination : though, I think, • he ever avoided, according to his usual caution, to de• clare publicly that his approbation, even upon the most ' pressing applications, which is one great instance of that • impenetrable secrecy, which Dr. Sykes justly notes to • have been in him, upon many occasions.'

So Mr. Whiston. Who clearly declares his own opinion. Who likewise supposeth, that the same was for some while received by Dr. Clarke. But he seems not to have had any certain evidence of it. For, as he acknowledges, · Dr. • Clarke never publicly declared his approbation of it.'

Nevertheless it may not be disagreeable to see here wbat Dr. Clarke himself says in his Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity, part I. ch. iii. numb. 998. p. 197. Matt. iv. 1. * “ Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness.” • From this, and many other of the following texts, it seems, • that the Logos, the Divine Nature of Christ, did so far kevwo ai cavtov, diminish itself, as St. Paul

expresses Philip. ii. 7, that, during the time of his incarnation, he was • all' along under the conduct of the Holy Spirit.'

And Part II. sect. xxviii. p. 301. • The Holy Spirit is described in the New Testament, as the immediate author • and worker of all miracles, even of those done by our • Lord himself: and as the conductor of Christ in all the 6 actions of his life, during his state of humiliation here on • earth.'

Before I finish this preface, I must make some citations from Dr. Robert Clayton, late Lord Bishop of Clogher; who in the third part of his Vindication of the Histories of the Old and New Testament, has expressed himself after this manner. Letter v. p. 80, 81, or p. 443. 6 * He who • had glory with the Father, before the world was, emptied • himself," or divested himself of that glory, in order to re• deem mankind, and descended from heaven, and “ took

upon him the form of a servant, and was made man.” • That is, he, who was a glorified pre-existent spirit in the presence of God, submitted to descend from heaven, and to have himself conveyed by the wonderful power of • Almighty God, into the womb of a virgin. Where being

clothed with flesh, and ripening by degrees to manhood, • he was at length brought forth into the world, in the same * apparent state and condition with other human infants.'

Again Letter vii. p. 132, 133. or 482, 483. . And accordingly this exalted spirit was by the wonderful power of God, as before related, conveyed into the womb of the

6

[ocr errors]

6

« virgin Mary, and was made man; that is, was made as * much so, as his mother could make him, without being impregnated by man. And now being deprived of the . immediate presence of God the Father, and being shut up . in darkness, and the shadow of death, he was after nine 6 months brought forth into life, in the form of a feeble in• fant, with all the weakness, and frailties, and infirmities of • human nature about him. And as he grew up into life, • and his reason improved, this only served to make the * terrible change and alteration of his condition, so much the • more perceptible, and the recollection of it so much the more grievous and insufferable. The dreadfulness of « which state is hardly conceivable to us, because that we • never were sensible of any thing better than our present

existence. But for any being, which had ever enjoyed • the happiness of heaven, and had been in possession of « “ glory with the Father," to be deprived thereof, and to • be sent to dwell here in this world, encompassed within • the narrow limits of this earthly tabernacle, and the heavy

organs, made of flesh and blood, it must, literally speak•ing, be to such a being, a hell upon earth.'

earth.' So

says

that celebrated writer.

To the letter are now added two postscripts. Concerning which nothing needs to be said here. They who look into them will see what they are.

One thing the author would say. He hopes the whole is written in the way of reason and argument, with meekness and candour, without acrimony and abuse: though not without a just concern for such things as appear to him to be of importance.

February 12, 1759.

A LETTER

WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1730,

CONCERNING THE QUESTION, WHETHER THE LOGOS SUPPLIED
THE PLACE OF A HUMAN SOUL IN THE PERSON

OF JESUS CHRIST.

TO PAPINIAN,

You have, it seems, heard of the correspondence between Eugenius and Phileleutherus, and particularly of an incidental question, concerning the Arian hypothesis. You have been informed, likewise, that I am well acquainted with this correspondence. And, as it has excited your curiosity, you demand of me an account of it, and also my own opinion upon the point in debate.

If it were proper for me to deny you any thing, I should entirely excuse myself, and be perfectly silent: being apprehensive that touching upon a subject of so much niceness and difficulty may occasion some trouble to yourself, as well as to me, But you are determined not to accept of any excuses.

I must then, without further preamble, declare to you that I cannot but take the same side of the question with Phileleutherus : though once, for some while, I was much inclined to the other.

However, whilst I was favourable to the supposition, that the Logos was the soul of our Saviour, I was embarrassed with a very considerable difficulty. For the scriptures do plainly represent our blessed Saviour, exalted to power and glory, as a reward of his sufferings here on earth: but I was at a loss to conceive how that high Being, the first and only immediately derived being by whom God made the world," should gain any exaltation by receiving after his

[ocr errors]

Dr. Clarke, Scripture Doctrine, &c. P. I. numb. 535. p. 86. The third • interpretation is, that the Word is a person deriving from the Father (with * whom he existed before the world was) both his being itself, and incompre

hensible power and knowledge, and other divine attributes and authority, • in a manner not revealed, and which human wisdom ought not to presume 4 to explain.

Ib. Part. II. p. 242, sect. ii. • With this first and supreme cause and Father

« ПредишнаНапред »