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IT having been the purport of the preceding Letter to particularize the causes to which, more or less, the introduction of the terms • nal generution, into theological language, falls in my opinion to be assigned, I shall now proceed to apply to the subject in hand, the arguments and facts which have been briefly laid before you.
We have discussed the nature, and the probable foundation of Plato's philosophy. Let us next examine whether, and how tar, this plausible and much esteemed system of Plato had influence on the language of the christian fathers, and insinuated itself into their writings, from an early period. To this examination the writings of the celebrated Justin Martyr, who flourished within fifty years of Ignatius bishop of Antioch, will afford us the necessary assistance.
Before his conversion to christianity, Justin Martyr had been a zealous disciple of the philosopher Plato. This, though Justi a himself had not confessed it, might have been discovered from his works; and particularly from his warm, and scarcely warrantable attachment to the tutelar saint of Plato, Socrates ; of whom he is bold to say, when treating of the enmity of the devils against the the truth-« ου γαρ μονον Ελληςδια Σωκρατες υπο λογα
fessed “ the
kley On TAUTA' —these things were reproved by the
Logos, through the inouth of Socrates.” Nay, he farther says “, “ that they who lived by reason were “ christians ;” among whom he hesitates not to reckon Socratcs-and classes him with Abraham and Elijah. In enlargement of which unjustifiable panegyric, Mr Reeves, the translator of Justin Martyr's “ Apology," is very angry with Tertullian, who held a very different opinion of Socrates, and who calls his “ dæmon”-pessimum revera pedagogum-the worst of all tutors. Mr Reeves' words are as follow : “ When I find Socrates employing “ all his reason to bring men off from barren specu“ lations to the knowledge of themselves, and the “ practice of substantial virtue; when I find him “ the greatest master of his passions, the most “ judicious despiser of riches within his reach, “ the most temperate, humble, courteous, inoffensive “ man living in the gentile world; when I find him " encouraged by his damon, to die for the profes
sion of the one true God; when Justin Martyr sar's, that he, by his share of reason, did among
i See i Apology, c. 5.
2 1 Apology, c. xi.
“ the Greeks what the Logos himself did among “ the-Barbarians, and that both were condemned for " the same good design ; who, after this, I say, can " think Socrates possessed and governed by an evil
spirit ? Why not divinely assisted to preach
down idolatry, and bring moral righteousness in“ to practice, and by such means to prepare and
qualify the heathen world for the revelation of “ the Messiah ?”
Upon this quotation, which will, I hope, be acknowledged by every true christian to include its own proper censure, I shall make no comment. I feel it however incumbent on me to notice the glaring contrariety of sentiment regarding this same Socrates, the idol still of modern veneration, and that, between two writers nearly contemporary, Justin Martyr and Tertullian. The former holds him to be inspired by the Logos himself! The latter holds him to be actuated by a devil! How is this contrariety of character to be accounted for? In no other way, as far as I arn capable of discriminating, but by ascribing Justin Martyr's eulogium to the secret workings of the Platonic philosophy; Tertullian's censure to his having been “ addicted” to the
system of “no” philosophical “ master” whatever ; all of whom he calls “ Hæreticorum Patriarchæ,” the “ Patriarchs of the Heretics'.” Indeed, it is but natural to suppose, that according to what Justin
Martyr Martyr has erpressed regarding Socrates, so would he have us understand his sentiments to be respecting his old master Plato ; whose more sublime doctrines and definitions he has artfully infused into his own writings. Thus we find him, in his Dialogue with Trypho 'the Jew, using the very language which Plato is found to use“ povos yap GYEVVNTOS, “ xxl affapt@ 0:0, Hou die T8TO O:GU 851 God is “ the only unbegotten, and incorruptible, and, upon “ that account, is God.” To this, in the sense, and under the application which Ignatius has made of the term “CEWQ,” no objection needs be offered. But this sense and application are not allowed by a certain class of writers, whom we find quoting and twisting the term to their own purpose. And indeed, the sense and application which the language of Ignatius bears, Justin himself disclaims, when he writes « μονο ιδιως “υιδ τω Θεω γεγεννηταιthe Son alone is properly begotten of God',' which points out, and, in fact, limits the use of “ ayevrta, in the opinion of Justin Martyr.
i See Lib. contra Hermogen, c.iv.
Whether Ignatius, who, as we have seen, first used the term ayanto, borrowed it from Plato or not, I cannot say. Bishop Pearson to be «ure asserts, that Athanasius said, the term was taken from the heathen ?. But, for my own part, I cannot allow myself to think, that a man possessed of the plain simple piety, and heavenly charity, of which
I See i Apol. p. 46.
a See Vindic. p. 127.
Ignatius shewed himself to be possessed, would, in such an august description of the great “physician" lepu- of souls, have had recourse to Plato for appropriate expressions. There is nothing in this venerable Father's writings which betrays an acquaintance with Plato; nay more, his use of the term "s arysWYT Qu" is contrary to Plato's restriction of it.
That Justin Martyr, however, intentionally adopted the term from Plato, and used it in the very sense of his heathen master, is clear from the quotations just adduced ; and from the triumphant acknowledgement of those, who, to this day, espouse the doctrine of eternal generation.' And, for aught I know to the contrary, Justin Martyr may have been the first christian writer who used the term in the Platonic sense ; unless perhaps Athenagoras, who, as I have shewn', calls the Son of God, a putov yevinua TW TEATQ; &c. and who, being an Athenian, it may be presumed, had been a Platonist also.
From the time of these two early Apologists of the christian faith, the Platonic language, and the Platonic doctrine, on the important article now under consideration, seem to have spread, and to have become current ; nay, even to have been accompanied by every unbecoming interence, which the
See Letter III, p. 22.