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lar, that the confidence with which this party appeal to the Fathers has also increased; and in the course of this work I shall give extracts from writings of our own days, in which it is plainly and expressly said, that all the early Christians were Unitarians. It is the object of the present work to inquire into the ground of this assertion.
In the following pages no evidence is adduced from any author who wrote after the time of the Council of Nice. This council was held in the year 325; and it is well known, that the confession of faith which was then drawn up, asserts unequivocally that Jesus Christ was from all eternity God of God, of one substance with God the Father. No doubt was ever entertained as to this being the doctrine, which was held by a large majority of the Fathers assembled at that council: neither can there be any doubt, but that this has been the professed doctrine of the catholic church ever since that time. There is therefore no necessity for our consulting any Post-Nicene authorities, when we wish to ascertain what were the sentiments of the primitive church. What we have to inquire is, whether the Fathers, who lived nearest to the apostolic times, and whose works remain, believed that Jesus Christ was God, or that he was merely a man. candid person will surely allow, that notwithstanding the positive and plain declarations of the Fathers assembled at Nice, yet if the writers who preceded them held a different doctrine, and did not believe
in the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son, there would be great reason to suspect the soundness of the articles subscribed at Nice.
With respect to the present work, it is not from ostentation, but in justice to myself, that I state, that I have carefully and attentively read through the works of all the Fathers of the three first centuries: or to speak more correctly, of those who wrote before the assembling of the Council of Nice: for some of the testimonies, which I adduce, are taken from works written at the beginning of the fourth century. I do not pretend to have quoted all the passages which bear upon the particular doctrine that I am endeavouring to maintain. Those who believe in the divinity of Christ will naturally think, that any mention of Christ being born of a Virgin, of his becoming man, of his creating all things, of his having appeared to the patriarchs, &c. &c. is a satisfactory proof that the writers, who used such expressions, believed that Jesus Christ was God, or at least that they could not agree with modern Unitarians, who deny that any one of these expressions can properly be applied to Christ. The writings of the early Fathers are full of assertions such as these: but I have omitted hundreds, perhaps thousands of such instances, and have only selected those passages, where the meaning of the writer was conveyed in the strongest and plainest terms.
It is perhaps useless to make protestations of
candor and sincerity, or to say, that I have only been guided by a love of truth. But if in
But if in any instance a passage is translated unfairly, or an inference deduced from it which it will not bear, the reader is furnished with the means of detecting and exposing the error. The quotations are all given in English, as literally as the idiom of our language will permit, perhaps more literally than some persons would have wished : and at the bottom of the page the passage will be found in its original language. In laying the quotations before the reader, I have had two things principally in view : that he should be in possession of so much of the context as will make the passage intelligible : and that he should be able to see, whether the words which bear upon the controverted point are translated fairly. It will therefore often be found, that the passage is given more at length in the translation, than it is in the original : sometimes only a few words are of importance for deciding the doctrine, when several sentences are necessary for understanding the context. In those cases I have transcribed only so much of the original passage as seems to support the doctrine of Christ's divinity.
Some remarks are necessarily interspersed, both to make the passage intelligible to the reader, when he has not the original work to consult, and to point out the conclusion, which appears to follow naturally and legitimately from the quotation : but I state expressly, that I do not profess to notice all
the different interpretations, which have been given to any passage, nor to answer the objections which have been founded upon other expressions of the same author.
There is not much reading necessary to know that we may find passages in the Fathers and in the New Testament, which speak of Christ as having a human nature, and being inferior to his Father. But that person must have little knowledge and little judgment, who produces such passages as these in proof of the Unitarian doctrines. The catholic church has always held that Christ had a real human nature, and that as a Son, begotten by God, he was so far inferior to the Father: but if the church which believes this, believes also that Jesus Christ is God, it is surely most unfair to argue, that those passages which prove the humanity of Christ, overturn the doctrines of the catholic church. Those doctrines can only be overturned, when it is proved, that the Fathers held notions concerning the human nature of Christ, which are incompatible with what the church believes of his divine nature. It is not therefore my intention to examine those passages which Unitarian writers have advanced, as maintaining their own hypothesis, nor to point out the false and unfair conclusions which they have drawn from others. If it be proved satisfactorily, that the Fathers believed in the eternity and consubstantial divinity of the Son, the Unitarian notion of his mere humanity is necessarily overthrown. For there is this great difference between the creed of the Unita
rians and that of the catholic church, so far as they are affected by the testimonies of the Fathers : The divinity of Christ, according to the catholic sense of the doctrine, is not disproved by passages which support his human nature; but the simple humanity of Christ is altogether overthrown by passages which assert his divinity.
The judgment of the Ante-Nicene Fathers has often been appealed to, and testimonies from their writings have often been alleged, in support of the divinity of Christ. The Defence of the Nicene Faith by Bishop Bull is a work, which must ever stand preeminent in this department of theological learning, and which would almost discourage any other person from presuming to combat in the same field. But that great man seems to have had too vast a mind, and too much overflowing with polemical learning, to make his book a favourite study with the general reader. The quotations, which he brings from the Ante-Nicene Fathers in this and his other works, will most of them be found in the following pages.
The great work of Le Nourry d, beside being a storehouse of critical information concerning the works of the Fathers, contains many quotations from them in proof of the divinity of Christ.
Dr. Waterland has made great use of the early Fathers in many of his writings, and the unfounded
Apparatus ad Bibliothecam Maximam Veterum Patrum, &c.