Imágenes de páginas

Lett. vii. p. 135, or 484. And now, my lord, let any one judge whether this temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, looks, as if Satan thought the divine Spirit that was intimately united to the humanity of Jesus, was that of the supreme God? And can any one think, that a being, ⚫ endowed with so much power, [should it not be knowledge?] as Satan manifestly was, did not know whether Jesus was the supreme God or not?'

This is brought in with an air of much triumph. But may I not ask? Did not Satan know that Jesus Christ was his creator, under God the Father? For this learned writer argues, p. 78, 79, or 441, 442. that all things were made by Christ, and consequently Satan himself: however, I choose not to multiply words in exposing this observation, as founded in the author's wrong scheme.

The truth of the case is this. Jesus had been baptized by John. At which time he was publicly declared to be the expected Messiah. He also received abundant qualifications for discharging the high office into which he was inaugurated. Soon after which Satan attempted to surprise him by divers temptations. "When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said: If thou be the Son of Gol, [that is, if indeed thou art the Christ], command that these stones be made bread." Afterwards, " taking him into the holy city, he setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and 'saith unto him: If thou be the Son of God, [that is, if indeed thou art the Messiah,] cast thyself down for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." And what follows. Matt. ch. iv. And are not all these insidious proposals made to our Saviour, as man?

The learned author having taken notice of the transaction in the garden, goes on. Lett. vii. p. 136, 137, or 485, 486. Here then we poor mortals are at a stand, being at a loss to know, how it is possible for one spirit so to torment another, as to put Jesus into such an agony as is ⚫ above transcribed, from the very apprehensions of what he was to undergo. If he were to ⚫ suffer NOTHING BUT WHAT IS WRITTEN concerning his scoffs, and scourgings, and crucifixion, ⚫ and we may add all the sufferings and tortures which his human nature could possibly undergo; ⚫ these surely could never have moved him in so high a degree; being only such sufferings as the prophets of old underwent, not only without dread, but with pleasure in their countenance. Heb. xi. 35, 36.

Whoever therefore can suppose Jesus to have been terrified at these things, which could only affect his human part, must suppose him to be less than a man. Whereas, IF we suppose 'SATAN LET LOOSE UPON HIM, by the permission of God, and empowered to attack him in his nobler part, in his angelic nature, while his divine Spirit, being encumbered with the load of flesh and blood, and fettered and confined within the compass of an human tabernacle, was disabled from exerting its full powers; well might he dread the conflict on such un• equal terms.


[ocr errors]

And IF NOTHING IS DESCRIBED TO US IN THE SCRIPTURES, BUT HIS SUFFERINGS IN THE ← FLESH, this we ought to conclude was done in condescension to our understandings, which are "unable to comprehend, or have any notion of his inward sufferings: and for the same reason it was, that any outward sufferings were inflicted on him at all. Which being in their own "nature insignificant and trifling, could not possibly be any trial of his obedience: but were inflicted on him by God for us, and for our sake. Who in compassion to our ignorance, and infirmities, was pleased to appoint some of his sufferings to be such, as were within the reach of our capacities to comprehend.'

Does not all this show the great inconvenience, and vast disadvantage of that opinion, which supposes, that a spirit of a superior order to the human soul animated our Saviour's body?

I think, that the incongruity of this has been fully shown in the preceding letter: and that if such a thing were practicable, that exalted spirit would swallow up the body, and sustain it above all pains, wants, and infirmities. But it is manifest from the gospels, and every book of the New Testament, that our Saviour had all the innocent infirmities of the human nature. Therefore the before-mentioned doctrine is not true.

This author is not quite a Docete, or does not profess so be so. Nevertheless he does little less than admit the force of the argument just referred to. He calls all the sufferings inflicted on our Saviour by men, and all the sufferings recorded concerning him, trifling and insignificant,' and says, they could not possibly be any trial of his obedience.'


He thinks, Jesus Christ suffered: but it must have been owing to the buffetings of Satan. Of which however, there is not, as himself owns, any distinct account given in the scriptures. Is not this to be wise above and beyond what is written? It is manifestly so. But does that become a Christian? And they who are wise above, or beyond what is written, will generally contradict what is written.

This seems to be the case here. The scourgings, scoffs, crucifixion, and all the outward ⚫ sufferings inflicted on Jesus were insignificant and trifling, and could not possibly be any trial ⚫ of his obedience.' Nevertheless these are things much insisted upon, distinctly related, and frequently repeated in the sacred writings of the New Testament. And the writers of the New Testament, the apostles and evangelists represent them to Christians, as very great snd affecting, and a trial of the obedience of our great Lord and Master. And his patience under them is set before us as a moving, and encouraging example to his followers. And for these sufferings, and his patience, resignation, and meekness under them, he is represented to have been highly rewarded by God the Father, supreme Lord and disposer of all things.

So St. Paul, Heb. xii. 1-3. "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith: who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down on the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied, and faint in your minds."

So likewise St. Peter, 1 Epist. ii. 21-24. "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps. Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his month. Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again: when he suffered, he threatened not: but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously. Who his ownself bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness. By whose stripes ye were healed."

See Philip. ii. 1-11. and many other places, and all the gospels, wherein are recorded our Lord's sufferings, and especially his last.

All these things are thus insisted upon as very considerable, and of great importance to Christians. So that it seems very strange, that they should be reckoned by any trifling and insignificant, and no trial of obedience."

There is, I think, plainly a difference between this great Author, and our apostles and evangelists. Whence should this come to pass? Is it not, that he preacheth another Jesus? According to them, Jesus is a man like unto us, and suffers such evils, as men in this world are liable to, in the steady practice of virtue: and he has set before us a most amiable, most animating, and encouraging example, under a great variety of contradictions and sufferings. For all which he has been highly rewarded by God the Father Almighty, who alone is perfectly wise, and perfectly good.



But according to this author, Jesus is an embodied angel, or archangel, and not capable of being much, if at all, affected by all the sufferings, and tortures, which human nature could 'possibly undergo. These, surely,' he says, could never have moved him in so high a degree,' p. 136, 137, or 486.

[ocr errors]

Indeed this writer pleads, that if the buffetings of Satan, or such sufferings, as he contends for, are not described to us in the scriptures, but his sufferings in the flesh; this we ought to conclude was done in condescension to our understandings, which are unable to comprehend, or have any motion of his inward sufferings,' p. 137, or 486.

For certain, all men, who advance a doctrine, without express authority from scripture, will endeavour to find out some reason for the silence of scripture about it. But no good reason can be assigned for the omission, here supposed and granted. • His outward sufferings,' the writer says, 'were insignificant and trifling, and could not possibly be any trial of his obedience.'If they were not, should not some others have been recorded? The not doing it, surely, must be reckoned an inexcusable omission, and neglect in the sacred pen-men.

However, it is certain, they have recorded such sufferings, as they supposed to be a trial of our Lord's obedience: and his patience under them, as an example and pattern to us.

So likewise says the prophet, "A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." Is. liii,

Our great author would have us suppose, • Satan let loose upon our Lord, by the per'mission of God, and empowered to attack him in his nobler part, his angelic nature,' p. 137, or 486. And speaks of the buffetings of Satan,' p. 138, or 487.- and the insults of Satan,' p. 133, or 483. But why should such things be supposed, when all the writers of the New Testament are silent about them? If any will invent, and describe such sufferings, it must be altogether unscriptural, and could be no better than a philosophical, or theological romance.

And may I not ask, what good purposes can be answered by this scheme? For we are neither angels, nor embodied angels, but men, placed here in a state of trial. And our trial arises from the good and evil things of this world, by which our hopes and our fears are much influenced.

To me then the contrivance of our great author appears both unscriptural, and unprofitable. Nor can I forbear joining in with the apostle, and saying: "But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness: but unto them which are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God: because the foolishness of God is wiser than men: and the weakness of God is stronger than men," 1 Cor. i. 23-25.

However, at p. 138, or 487, it is argued after this manner:

And therefore, when he was betrayed, and seized by the officers, that were sent to apprehend him, our Saviour said unto them: "This is your hour, and the power of darkness," Luke xxii. 53. Giving them thereby to understand, and us through them, that it was not only the hour of men's wrath, but the hour of the power of darkness," that he so much dreaded, when he prayed to God the Father, to "save him from that hour." At which time he had not only the ⚫ contradiction of wicked men to strive with, but knew that this was the time allotted by God for Satan, the prince of darkness, to exercise and employ his whole power in afflicting him.'

But really no such conclusion can be drawn from those words; where one and the same thing is expressed in a twofold manner, the more emphatically to represent the greatness of the trouble then coming upon our Saviour. As if he had said, But this is your hour: and indeed it is a very dark and afflictive season.'

Dr. Clarke's paraphrase is in these terms.

But this is the time, wherein the infinite wisdom of God has appointed me to suffer. And • Providence has now given you power over me, permitting you to execute your malice and cruelty upon me, that the scripture may be fulfilled, and the eternal counsels of the divine wisdom for the salvation of men fully accomplished.' To the like purpose Grotius upon John xiv. 30.h


And that this is the meaning of the words, may be argued from our Lord's manner of expression elsewhere, speaking of the same thing. So in John xvi. 32, 33. “Behold, the hour cometh, yea is now come,- -that shall leave me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." And therefore, when he mentions Satan, it is in the character of " the prince of this world." John xiv. 30. "Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh; and


hath nothing in me:" which is thus paraphrased by Dr. Whitby. "The prince of this world cometh" by his ministers, Judas, and the rulers of the Jews, "and findeth nothing in me:" ⚫ he himself having no power to inflict death upon me, in whom is no sin, and they finding nothing in me "worthy of death," Acts xiii. 28. Though therefore I am to suffer death, I do not suffer for any fault that can deserve it, or on account of any power he or his ministers have over me to inflict it. But I give up myself to death in compliance with my Father's will,


and what follows.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* Venit autem per homines sui plenos, quorum vis erat 8801α 78 0x0785. Grot, in Job. xiv. 30.

[merged small][ocr errors]






I. Extracts out of these Epistles, for showing the Author's Testimony to the Scriptures of the Old and
New Testament. II. External Evidence against the Genuineness of these Epistles. III. Internal
Evidence to the same Purpose, and their Time. IV. The Author anonymous. V. The Importance
and Use of these Epistles. VI. The Conclusion.

EXTRACTS. I. My extracts from these two epistles will relate chiefly to the books of scripture

quoted therein.

1. In these epistles several books of the Old Testament are quoted: the book of Genesis several times: Exodus: the Judges, and several of the following historical books: the book of the Proverbs, often: the book of Ecclesiastes once: Isaiah once, and also the story of Susanna.



2. Out of the New Testament are taken several passages of Matthew, one of Luke, several of John's gospel. The Acts of the Apostles may be supposed to be referred to. I cannot tell, whe er there be a reference to Acts xxvi. 25. in some words, which I place below that others may judge. There are also passages out of the apostle Paul's epistle to the Romans, both the epistles to the Corinthians, the epistles to the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, the first and second to the Thessalonians, the first and second to Timothy, the epistle to the Hebrews, two or three quotations, which will be taken notice of presently, and many passages out of the epistle of James. But I have not clearly discerned any passages out of the epistle of Paul to Titus, or Philemon: nor out of the epistles of Peter, or John, or Jude, or the book of the Revelation.

3. I say, there are passages out of the several books of scripture before-mentioned. But there occurs not the name of any one book or writer, either of the Old or the New Testament: except in general, in the gospel, the apostle, meaning Paul, and the like.


4. The passages of the epistle to the Hebrews are these: But, brethren, we are persuaded of you, that you will think of these things, which are necessary to your salvation. But we thus

* speak of them, because,' and what follows. Where the author must have had an eye to Heb. vi. 9.

5. I suppose likewise, that there may be a reference to Heb. vi. 15-19, as well as to Isaiah lvi. in a passage which I transcribe below.


• Domino Jesu Christo ministrârunt mulieres e possessionibus suis. Ep. 2. n. 15. Vid. Luc. viii. 3.

b Porro Paulus, et Barnabas, et Timotheus, cum cæteris, quorum nomina scripta sunt in libro vite. Ep. i. c. 6. Conf. Philipp. iv. 3.

-et loquimur cum illis verba exhortationis et honestatis. Ep. 2. cap. 1.

Confidimus autem de vobis, fratres, vos cogitaturos ea,

que necessaria sunt saluti vestræ. Sed ita loquimur de iis,
quæ loquimur, propter famam et rumorem malum, &c. Ep. i.

c. 10.

e—sed desiderat spem promissam et præparatam et positam in cœlis Deo, qui promisit ore, et non mentitur; qui major est filiis et filiabus, et dabit virginibus locum celebrem in domo Dei-Ep. i. c. 4.

[ocr errors]



6. Again: For he said: "Honour your elders, and when you see their conversations, and their manners, imitate their faith."' Which must be allowed to be a reference to, or quotation

of Heb. xiii. 7.




7. The forms of quotation are such as these: For he said, in the place just quoted: They who are truly virgins, for God's sake, hear him, who said.' Where he quotes divers passages from the book of the Proverbs. Such virginity the Lord calls foolish, as he says in the gospel.' See Matt. xxv. Therefore he said rightly to that generation.' And of such servants it is 'said.' As it is written.' And they hear not him, who says.' Quoting the epistle of James. And again he says.' Have you not read of Amnon and Thamar, children of David?' the next chapter. Have you not read of the family of Solomon? They did not remember that saying.' Behold" we find what is written of Moses and Aaron." For so the holy scriptures speak in these very words.' As the apostle said.' See 2 Cor. xi. 12. Whom the divine





apostle rejects.'Widows whom the divine apostle refuseth.'Let us be mindful' of the word, which says.' See Eccles. vii. 26. 'As' we have learned from the law, the prophets, and the Lord Jesus Christ.' 'Let us inquire and search from the Law to the New Testament.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a Dixit enim: Seniores vestros honorate; et quando videtis conversationes eorum, et mores eorum, imitamini eorum fidem. Ep. i. c. 7.

8. Farther he seems in several places to refer to a practice then in use of reading the scriptures in private houses, and at visits.





For "he blames some, whom he calls idle, who went about to the houses of brethren, and • sisters, virgins, under a pretence of visiting them, or reading the scriptures to them, or exorcising them, or teaching them.' Representing his own and other good people's way of travelling, whose conduct is set forth to be an example, he says: When we come to a place where there is no man, but all are faithful women and virgins, when we have gathered them all together, and find they live in peace, we speak to them in all purity, and read to them the scriptures.' Afterwards in the next chapter: If we come to a place, and there be one • faithful woman only alone, and nobody else; we do not stay there, nor pray there, nor read the scriptures there, but we flee away as from the face of a serpent, and from a dangerous And in another place. We do not sing psalms, nor read the scriptures to gentiles." EXTERNAL EVIDENCE. II. Having made these extracts, it will be proper to consider the age and authority of the epistles from whence they are taken. When it was first reported among us, that Mr. Wetstein of Amsterdam had received out of the East a Syriac translation of two new epistles of Clement bishop of Rome, I said, it was a mistake. It was more probable, that he had received a Syriac translation of the epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, and of the other epistle often ascribed to him. And if that was the case, the translation might be very valuable, and of great use, because we have not the epistle to the Corinthians entire, and of the other epistle a fragment only. And undoubtedly those two epistles, if entire, though in a translation only, would have been an acceptable present to the learned world. But I was mistaken in my conjecture. The report first made has been confirmed by the event. The two

b Qui autem vere sunt virgines propter Deum, audiunt eum qui dixit. Ep. i. c. 2.

• Dominus enim virginitatem talem stultam vocat, sicut ait in Evangelio. Ep. i. c. 3.

d Propterea recte dicit generationi tali. Ep. 1. 8.

e Et dictum est de talibus servis. i. 9.

f Sicut scriptum est. i. 10.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][merged small]

"Alii autem circumeuntes per domos virginum fratrum et sororum, prætextu visitandi eos, aut legendi Scripturas, aut exorcizandi eos, aut docendi eos, quia sunt otiosi. i. 10.

* Si autem contingat, ut nos recipiamus in locum, ubi vir non est, sed omnes sunt mulieres et virgines, cogantque nos pernoctare in illo loco; vocamus omnes illos in unum locum, ad latus dextrum-et quando congregatæ veniunt omnes, et videmus, quomodo in pace sunt, loquimur cum illis verba castitatis in timore Dei, et legimus illis Scripturas in verecundiâ, &c. ii. 4.

Si autem recipiamus nos in locum, et inveniamus ibi unicam mulierem fidelem solam, nec quisquam alius ibi sit, nisi illa sola, non stamus ibi, neque oramus ibi, neque legimus ibi Scripturas, sed fugimus, sicut coram facie serpentis, et tamquam coram laqueo peccati. ii. 5.

Propterea non psallimus gentibus, neque legimus illis scripturas. ii. 7.

3 K

« AnteriorContinuar »