« AnteriorContinuar »
were but transitory, and their prosperous days were entirely eclipsed, when the Vandals were driven out of Africa, and the Goths out of Italy, by the arms of Justinian,”
It deserveth notice also, on this argument, that the Nestorians, * that have subsisted from the close of the fourth century, and are now in great numbers all over the East, are in general Unitarians. The account which Mosheim gives (Vol. I. p. 412,), of their peculiar opinion concerning Christ, concludes thus, “ that Christ was therefore carefully to be distinguished from God, who dwelt in him as in his temple; and that Mary
* They could not well be other than Unitarians, who so strictly adhered to, and reverenced the name and writings of Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia, who flourished in the fourth century, and was one of the ablest interpreters of the Scriptures in all antiquity, as appears from the very few fragments of his writings that have been preserved to us. Dr. Lardner has given a fine interpretation from him, of that confession of Thomas to Christ, “ my Lord, and my God”! John xx. 23. “ He did not (saith he) call Christ, Lord and God : out being astonished at the great miracle of his resurrection, and the full evidence of it that he had afforded him, he praised God who had raised Christ from the dead. Nor is the being raised from the dead a proof of Deity.” Credib. Vol. IX. Part ii. p. 411. Dr. Whitby, in his Last Thoughts, p. 77, appears to have borrowed the solution of this passage from this ancient writer.
See also La Croze, Histoire du Christianisine des Indes, Vol. I. pp. 362, 364.
was to be called the mother of Christ, and not the mother of God."
Mosheim occasionally mentions the continuance and profession of the Arian doctrine concerning Christ, to the tenth century in Italy, amongst the Lombards, and among the barbarous nations, as they are called, and in the East; and how it sunk away, and the visible profession of it was lost. Gross darkness had now overspread the Christian world : the apostacy foretold by St. Paul, (1 Tim. iv. 1,) had come on, and the dæmon-idolatry, the worship of dead men and women, prevailed, and which still subsists among that large body of Christians, the Papists. Some light, however, shone in the midst of this darkness, and the witnesses to the truth prophesied, though in sackcloth and ashes.
The Divine Unity in particular was never lost sight of by some few at least, who, in different ways, bore their testimony to it.
Roscellin, canon of Compiegne, about the ( lose of the eleventh century, maintained that it was impossible the Son of God should take on him the human nature alone, without the Father and the Holy Ghost becoming incarnate also, unless by the three persons in the Godhead were meant three distinct persons or natures, which would be three Gods. And he seems to have maintained this with a view to shew the
strange consequences that would follow from supposing the Son to be the supreme God.
But it was an effectual argument, which is said to have been used by Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, to silence this canon of Compiegne, and which would indeed silence and prevent all heresy and difference in opinion for ever; namely, "A Christian must not inquire about the truth of any thing which the church believes, but is simply to believe whatever the Romish Church professeth to believe."*
The famous Abelard, in the next century, by some said to have been a disciple of Roscellin, fell under a public prosecution for heresy, † and St. Barnard (whom unflattering posterity has stripped of much of his saintship), was his ac
“ The charge brought against him was, that he had notoriously corrupted the doctrine of the Trinity, blasphemed agaipst the majesty of the Holy Ghost, entertained unworthy and false conceptions of the person and offices of Christ, and
* “ Non esse Christiano inquirendum de veritate rei quam credit ecclesia, sed simpliciter credendum quicquid credit et confitetur ecclesia Romana. Sandii Nucl. Hist. Ecclesiast. L. Ü. p. 105. Mosheim, Vol. II. p. 351.
+ Mosheim, Vol. II. p. 430,—who gives several instances of the violence with which St. Barnard opposed all refor. mation of the corruptions of the church.
the union of the two natures in him, denied the necessity of the divine grace to render us virtuous, and, in a word, that his doctrine struck at the fundamental principles of all religion.”
This was the colouring and representation of his adversary. The truth is, that being a man of genius and piety, he saw deep into the sore depravations of Christ's religion, and sought earnestly, but in vain, to .remedy them; and seems to have been completely an Unitarian.
Besides eminent individuals, who arose out of the bosom of the Catholic church, as it was called, and asserted that the one God the Father was the God of the Christians, there were still lesser churches and societies of Christians subsisting, who were founded and united on this Unitarian principle. Mosheim takes notice of some in Italy, who were called Pasaginians, in the twelfth century. “ The second tenet (saith he) that distinguished this sect, was advanced in opposition to the doctrine of three persons in the Divine nature ; for they maintained that Christ was no more than the first and purest creature of God; nor will their adopting this opinion seem so surprising, if we consider the prodigious number of Arians that were scattered throughout Italy long before this period of time." Vol. II.
History also makes mention of other sects of the like Unitarian principles, who were often
confounded with the Manicheans, and went under that and other obnoxious names. But they were all, in progress of time, either wholly extirpated, or driven into corners and silence. For nothing could now withstand the Papal power, backed, as it were, with that of this whole western world. “ The princes of the earth (as foreseen and foretold), had one mind, and agreed to give their power and strength unto the beast.”-Revelation xvii. 13, 17.
So that, independent of its truth, or otherwise, it must be owned that that which is called the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity, was first established, and hath been all, along supported, by violence and the secular power; an argument in its behalf surely not to be boasted of, and concerning which the gospel of Jesus is wholly silent.