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in the things attributed to each, as evidently shows that both were intended to indicate the same divine Personage;" I must own, the supposition that the term Logos was suggested by that of Wisdom in the Proverbs rests upon a very slender basis. Upon the whole, these remarks amount to a pre-. sumption, that the interpretation here adopted is sanctioned by the authority of the apostles; but it would be injudicious to lay too much stress upon them, as Christ may possibly be called Wisdom metonymically, without any allusion to the Old Testament.
The next appeal must be to the ancient fathers, whose authority it has become too much the fashion to despise. Infallibility is not in man; they cannot be held up as always close in argument, correct in judgment, or even unexceptionable in morality; but they who flourished in the first ages, when the stream of traditionary truth was still flowing pure and undefiled, must have known what was the doctrine of the apostles; and, as they appear to have been actuated by a sacred attachment to their religion, and a conscientious regard to truth and virtue, they ought to be considered - as faithful interpreters of the general belief; a belief which could scarcely have been corrupted so near its source.*
This, then, is the praise of the ancient fathers; they are unexceptionable witnesses of the primitive faith, and this faith was exempt from material error and mistake. Yet the
. “ Omnes enim confitentur apostolos fidissimos fuisse viros; ac proinde nullos sibi in successores ordinare voluisse, nisi quorum fides et integritas ipsis probatissima esset. Primi itaque apostolorum successores Ecclesiam, cujus regendæ cura ipsis commissa est, illibatam haud dubie et incorruptam conservarunt, atque eodem etiam modo suis ipsorum successoribus tradiderunt, higue aliis, et sic deinceps, ut nihil dubii esse possit, quin per duo saltem vel tria ab apostolis secula, Ecclesia in primitivo suo vigore, atque, ut ita loquar, virginitate floruerit, eodem nimirum statu, quo ab ipsis apostolis relicta fuit."Beveridge, Codex Canon, Proæi. $ 7.
elder Rosenmuller asserts, that their authority in explaining and confirming the doctrines of religion is nothing.* If this be true, how shall we account for the perversion, or at least misconception, of the doctrines of the Gospel so near to the apostolic era ? How happens it that the most learned of the Christian community, in the first ages, were in darkness and error on the most essential matters? Did the apostles and disciples of our blessed Lord both preach and write in vain ? If this cannot be believed, the truth could not be lost, or greatly corrupted, during the first centuries; and the works of the fathers are to be considered as the evidences of that primitive creed, which must have been sound in all fundamental articles. Hence it follows, that it is an argument of considerable weight in favour of any doctrine which is proved to have constituted a part of this primitive creed; and that it forms a strong ground for believing, that no tenet can be of essential importance which the ancient churches never admitted, or universally rejected.
A distinction, however, is to be made between the doctrines which the fathers deliver as universally adhered to by the orthodox, and the arguments they advance in their support. The tenets they maintain may be true, while they may support them by futile reasoning and erroneous expositions of Scripture. And this is not unfrequently the case; they deliver the articles of the Christian faith with general accuracy; but, in their zeal to promulgate them, they sometimes reason incautiously and inconclusively, and expound the sacred writings in such a way as will not stand the test of more mature criticism. Rosenmuller has endeavoured to prove, and not unsuccessfully, in his Historia Interpretationis, that
* “ Auctoritatem eorum in religionis doctrina explicanda et confirmanda esse nullam."-D. I. Georgii Rosenmulleri Historia Interpretationis Lib. Sac, 3 vol. 12mo. Hildburg, 1795, 1814, par, 2, p. 255.
* Great ash the ruse, tonal foot be the authorts o such esothold in the inte
the fathers often adopted an allegorical, arbitrary, and pre-
That the second Person in the blessed Trinity was meant
Justin Martyr, Dial. cum Tryp. p. 284 and 359. Colon. 1686.
Pædagog. lib. i. cap. 10, p. 128. Paris, 1629.
* “Religio mihi est, eritque, contra torrentem omnium Patrum ac veterum Doctorum S. Scripturas interpretari, nisi quando me argumenta cogunt evidentissima ; quod nunquam eventurum credo."-Bull, Def. Fed. Nic. sect. 1, cap. 1, $ 9.
Epistle of the Council of Antioch to Paul of Samosata, A. D.
269, in Routh's Reliquiæ Sacræ, vol. i. p. 469.* Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. lib. i. cap. 2, p. 8, ed. Valesius.
- Præparatio Evangel. lib. vii. cap. 12, p. 321; lib. xi. cap. 14, p. 532, ed. Viger. Colon. 1688.
- Demonst. Evangel. lib. v. cap. 1, p. 211. Colon. 1688; and often in his Eccles. Theolog.
It is unnecessary to accumulate more authorities; it may, however, be observed, that Irenæus refers the passage in question to the third Person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit; (Advers. Hæres. lib. iv. cap. 37, p. 331, ed. Grabe, Oxon. 1702;) and that, after perusing the genuine remains of the apostolical fathers, I have not discovered in them any reference, or any certain allusion, to the eighth chapter of Proverbs; but in the interpolated Epistle of Ignatius ad Tarsenses, ($ 6,) and in the Apostolical Constitutions, (lib. v. cap. 20, ed. Coteler,) it is referred to the Son of God. Though Irenæus applies the passage to the Holy Spirit, it is probable that he thought it equally applicable to the Son, for he adduces it to prove, that God made all things by the Word and Wisdom, namely, the Son and Spirit, who always existed with him; but he elsewhere affirms, that God created all things by the Son: (Hæres. lib. i. cap. 19, p. 93; lib. ii. cap. 2, p. 117, and cap. 46, p. 172; lib. iii. cap. 8, p. 212, &c.:) hence, in his opinion, there must have been an intimate union between them, and what is attributed to the one, may, in a
* Doubts bave been raised whether this Epistle is to be attributed to the council of Antioch, or only to the bishops whose names are prefixed; (see Routh's note, ibid. p. 493 ;) but the title, “An Epistle sent to Paul of Samosata by the orthodox Bishops before he was deposed," implies the whole council, as the learned Routh observes. See also Valesius's note to Eusebii Hist. Eccles. I. vii, c. 30, p. 157 ; and Lard. ner's Credibility, vol. iii. p. 87, ed. 8vo.
certain sense, be attributed to the other;* consequently, the eighth chapter, though referable to the Spirit, is equally applicable to the Son. This, at least, is certain, that he understood the Wisdom described in it to be σοφια υφεστωσα, 8 subsisting, personal Wisdom, and not an attribute. Besides, the sense of the primitive church is not to be collected from one or two particular fathers, but from the general testimony of all in conjunction; (Beveridge, Codex Can. Proæm. $ 5;) and from the authorities above cited, and others which might be produced, it is beyond dispute, that, in the first ages after Christ, this chapter was generally expounded of the Son.
This attestation of the early Christian church, in favour of the interpretation adopted in the notes to this chapter, must be regarded, by the impartial inquirer, as strong corroborative evidence. The authority of the ancient fathers is contemned by those whose ignorance, or indolence, prevents the perusal of their voluminous works; and, before Rosenmuller, they have been virulently attacked by Daille, Barbeyrac, and others; yet there have not been wanting writers of great judgment and profound erudition who have stood up in their defence; as, Cave, Reeves, Beveridge, Zornius, Waterland, who, in the seventh chapter of his Importance of the Doctrine of the Trinity, has taken an enlightened view of the question. Notwithstanding the abuse cast upon these ancient and venerable authors, all sects and parties triumph when they can sanction their peculiar notions by such an authority. What strenuous, though ineffectual, efforts did Dr. Priestley make to enlist the primitive Christians on his
• Thus, though he so frequently affirms that God created all things by the Son, he sometimes speaks of the Spirit, “per quem facta sunt omnia.” (Lib. iv. c. 51, p. 354.) He also attributes the Scriptures to the dictation of the Father and of the Son as well as of the Spirit. Compare lib. ii. c. 47, p. 173 ; lib. iv. c. 23, p. 309, and cap. 21, p. 310.