Part 5 out of 7
Waterland has not mastered the full force of [Greek: hae kata phusin
zoae]. If indeed he had taken in the full force of the whole of this
invaluable fragment, he would never have complimented the following
extract from Irenaeus, as saying the same thing "in fuller and stronger
words." Compared with the fragment from Justin, it is but the flat
common-place logic of analogy, so common in the early Fathers.
Ib. p. 340.
'Qui nude tantum hominem eum dicunt ex Joseph generatum * * moriuntur.'
'Non nude hominem'--not a mere man do I hold Jesus to have been and to
be; but a perfect man and, by personal union with the Logos, perfect
God. That his having an earthly father might be requisite to his being a
perfect man I can readily suppose; but why the having an earthly father
should be more incompatible with his perfect divinity, than his having
an earthly mother, I cannot comprehend. All that John and Paul believed,
God forbid that I should not!
Chap. VII. p. 389.
It is a sufficient reason for not receiving either them ('Arian
doctrines'), or the interpretations brought to support them, that the
ancients, in the best and purest times, either knew nothing of them,
or if they did, condemned them.
As excellent means of raising a presumption in the mind of the falsehood
of Arianism and Socinianism, and thus of preparing the mind for a docile
reception of the great idea itself--I admit and value the testimonies
from the writings of the early Fathers. But alas! the increasing
dimness, ending in the final want of the idea of this all-truths-
including truth of the Tetractys eternally manifested in the Triad;
--this, this is the ground and cause of all the main heresies from
Semi-Arianism, recalled by Dr. Samuel Clarke, to the last setting ray of
departing faith in the necessitarian Psilanthropism of Dr. Priestley.
Ib. p. 41-2, &c.
I cannot but think that Waterland's defence of the Fathers in these
pages against Barbeyrac, is below his great powers and characteristic
vigour of judgment. It is enough that they, the Fathers of the first
three centuries, were the lights of their age, and worthy of all
reverence for their good gifts. But it appears to me impossible to deny
their credulity; their ignorance, with one or two exceptions, in the
interpretation of the Old Testament; or their hardihood in asserting the
truth of whatever they thought it for the interest of the Church, and
for the good of souls, to have believed as true. A whale swallowed
Jonah; but a believer in all the assertions and narrations of Tertullian
and Irenaeus would be more wonder-working than Jonah; for such a one must
have swallowed whales.
[Footnote 1: The Importance of the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity
asserted, in reply to some late pamphlets. 2nd edit. Lond. 1734.]
* * * * *
NOTES ON SKELTON.
Burdy's Life of Skelton, p. 22.
She lived until she was a hundred and five. The omission of his
prayers on the morning it happened, he supposed ever after to be the
cause of this unhappy accident. So early was his mind impressed with a
lively sense of religious duty.
In anecdotes of this kind, and in the instances of eminently good men,
it is that my head and heart have their most obstinate falls out. The
question is:--To what extent the undoubted subjective truth may
legitimately influence our judgment as to the possibility of the
Ib. p. 67.
The Bishop then gave him the living of Pettigo in a wild part of the
county of Donegal, having made many removals on purpose to put him in
that savage place, among mountains, rocks, and heath, * * *. When he
got this living he had been eighteen years curate of Monaghan, and two
of Newtown-Butler, during which time he saw, as he told me, many
illiterate boys put over his head, and highly preferred in the Church
without having served a cure.
Though I have heard of one or two exceptions stated in proof that
nepotism is not yet extinct among our Prelates, yet it is impossible to
compare the present condition of the Church, and the disposal of its
dignities and emoluments with the facts recorded in this Life, without
an honest exultation.
Ib. p. 106.
He once declared to me that he would resign his living, if the
Athanasian Creed were removed from the Prayer Book; and I am sure he
would have done so.
Surely there was more zeal than wisdom in this declaration. Does the
Athanasian or rather the 'pseudo'-Athanasian Creed differ from the
Nicene, or not? If not, it must be dispensable at least, if not
superfluous. If it does differ, which of the two am I to follow;--the
profession of an anonymous individual, or the solemn decision of upwards
of three hundred Bishops convened from all parts of the Christian world?
Vol. I. p. 177-180.
No problem more difficult or of more delicate treatment than the
'criteria' of miracles; yet none on which young divines are fonder of
displaying their gifts. Nor is this the worst. Their charity too often
goes to wreck from the error of identifying the faith in Christ with the
arguments by which they think it is to be supported. But surely if two
believers meet at the same goal of faith, it is a very secondary
question whether they travelled thither by the same road of argument. In
this and other passages of Skelton, I recognize and reverence a vigorous
and robust intellect; but I complain of a turbidness in his reasoning, a
huddle in his sequence, and here and there a semblance of arguing in a
circle--from the miracle to the doctrine, and from the doctrine to the
miracle. Add to this a too little advertency to the distinction between
the evidence of a miracle for A, an eye-witness, and for B, for whom it
is the relation of a miracle by an asserted eye-witness; and again
between B, and X, Y, Z, for whom it is a fact of history. The result of
my own meditations is, that the evidence of the Gospel, taken as a
total, is as great for the Christians of the nineteenth century, as for
those of the Apostolic age. I should not be startled if I were told it
was greater. But it does not follow, that this equally holds good of
each component part. An evidence of the most cogent clearness, unknown
to the primitive Christians, may compensate for the evanescence of some
evidence, which they enjoyed. Evidences comparatively dim have waxed
into noon-day splendour; and the comparative wane of others, once
effulgent, is more than indemnified by the 'synopsis' [Greek: tou
pantos], which we enjoy, and by the standing miracle of a Christendom
commensurate and almost synonymous with the civilized world. I make this
remark for the purpose of warning the divinity student against the
disposition to overstrain particular proofs, or rest the credibility of
the Gospel too exclusively on some one favourite point. I confess, that
I cannot peruse page 179 without fancying that I am reading some Romish
Doctor's work, dated from a community where miracles are the ordinary
news of the day.
P. S. By the by, the Rev. Philip Skelton is of the true Irish breed;
that is, a brave fellow, but a bit of a bully. "Arrah, by St. Pathrick!
but I shall make cold mutton of you, Misther Arian."
Ib. p. 182.
If in this he appears to deal fairly by us, proving such things as
admit of it, by reason; and such as do not, by the authority of his
Are 'we' likely to have miracles performed or pretended before our eyes?
If not, what may all this mean? If Skelton takes for granted the
veracity of the Evangelists, and the precise verity of the Gospels, the
truth and genuineness of the miracles is included:--and if not, what
does he prove? The exact accordance of the miracles related with the
ideal of a true miracle in the reason, does indeed furnish an argument
for the probable truth of the relation. But this does not seem to be
Ib. p. 185.
But to remedy this evil, as far as the nature of the thing will
permit, a genuine record of the true religion must be kept up, that
its articles may not be in danger of total corruption in such a sink
Anything rather than seek a remedy in that which Scripture itself
declares the only one. Alas! these bewilderments (the Romanists urge)
have taken place especially through and by the misuse of the Scriptures.
Whatever God has given, we ought to think necessary;--the Scriptures,
the Church, the Spirit. Why disjoin them?
Ib. p. 186.
Now a perpetual miracle, considered as the evidence of any thing, is
nonsense; because were it at first ever so apparently contrary to the
known course of nature, it must in time be taken for the natural
effect of some unknown cause, as all physical 'phaenomena', if far
enough traced, always are; and consequently must fall into a level, as
to a capacity of proving any thing, with the most ordinary appearances
of nature, which, though all of them miracles, as to the primary cause
of their production, can never be applied to the proof of an
inspiration, because ordinary and common.
I doubt this, though I have no doubt that it would be pernicious. The
yearly blossoming of Aaron's rod is against Skelton, who confounds
single facts with classes of 'phaenomena', and he draws his conclusion
from an arbitrary and, as seems to me, senseless definition of a
Ib. p. 214. End of Discourse II.
Skelton appears to have confounded two errors very different in kind and
in magnitude;--that of the Infidel, against whom his arguments are with
few exceptions irrefragable; and that of the Christian, who, sincerely
believing the Law, the Prophecies, the miracles and the doctrines, all
in short which in the Scriptures themselves is declared to have been
revealed, does not attribute the same immediate divinity to all and
every part of the remainder. It would doubtless be more Christian-like
to substitute the views expressed in the next Discourse (III.); but
still the latter error is not as the former.
Ib. p. 234.
But why should not the conclusion be given up, since it is possible
Christ may have had two natures in him, so as to have been less than
the Father in respect to the one, and equal to him in respect to the
I understand these words ('My Father is greater than I') of the
divinity--and of the Filial subordination, which does not in the least
encroach on the equality necessary to the unity of Father, Son, and
Spirit. Bishop Bull does the same. See too Skelton's own remarks in
Discourse V. p. 265.
Ib. p. 251.
This was necessary, because their Law was ordained by angels.
Now this is an instance of what I cannot help regarding as a
superstitious excess of reverence for single texts. We know that long
before the Epistle to the Hebrews was written, the Alexandrian Church,
which by its intercourse with Greek philosophers, chiefly Platonists,
had become ashamed of the humanities of the Hebrew Scriptures, in
defiance of those Scriptures had pretended, that it was not the Supreme
Being who gave the Law in person to Moses, but some of his angels. The
author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, arguing 'ad homines', avails
himself of this, in order to prove that on their own grounds the Mosaic
was of dignity inferior to the Christian dispensation. To get rid of
this no-difficulty in a single verse or two in the Epistles, Skelton
throws an insurmountable difficulty on the whole Mosaic history.
Ib. p. 265.
Therefore, he saith, 'I' (as a man) 'can of myself do nothing'.
Even of this text I do not see the necessity of Skelton's parenthesis
(as a man). Nay it appears to me (I confess) to turn a sublime and most
instructive truth into a truism. "But if not as the Son of God,
therefore 'a fortiori' not as the Son of man, and more especially, as
such, in all that refers to the redemption of mankind."
Ib. p. 267.
To this glory Christ, as God, was entitled from all eternity; but did
not acquire a right to it as man, till he had paid the purchase by his
I too hold this for a most important truth; but yet could wish it to
have been somewhat differently expressed; as thus:--"but did not acquire
it as man till the means had been provided and perfected by his blood."
Ib. p. 268.
If Christ in one place, ('John' xiv. 28,) says, 'My Father is greater
than I'; he must be understood of his relation to the Father as his
Son, born of a woman.
I do not see the necessity of this: does not Christ say, 'My Father and
I will come and we will dwell in you?' Nay, I dare confidently affirm
that in no one passage of St. John's Gospel is our Lord declared in any
special sense the Son of the First Person of the Trinity in reference to
his birth from a woman. And remember it is from St. John's Gospel that
the words are cited. So too the answer to Philip ought to be interpreted
by ch. i. 18. of the same Gospel.
Ib. p. 276.
I confess I do not agree with Skelton's interpretation of any of these
texts entirely. Because I hold the Nicene Faith, and revere the doctrine
of the Trinity as the fundamental article of Christianity, I apply to
Christ as the Second Person, almost all the texts which Skelton explains
of his humanity. At all events 1 consider 'the first-born of every
creature' as a false version of the words, which (as the argument and
following verse prove) should be rendered 'begotten before', (or rather
'superlatively before'), 'all that was created or made; for by him' they
'Of that day, and that hour knoweth no man, no not the angels which
are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.'
I cannot explain myself here; but I have long thought that our Saviour
meant in these words [Greek: ainittein taen theotaeta ahutou]--and that
like the problem proposed by him to the Scribes, they were intended to
prepare the minds of the disciples for this awful mystery--[Greek: ei
mae ho pataer]--"unless, or if not, as the Father knows it;" while in
St. Matthew the equivalent sense is given by the omission of the [Greek:
oud' ho uhios], and its inclusion in the Father. 'As the Father knoweth
me, so know I the Father'.
It would have been against the general rule of Scripture prophecies, and
the intention of the revelation in Christ, that the first Christians
should have been so influenced in their measures and particular actions,
as they could not but have been by a particular foreknowledge of the
express and precise time at which Jerusalem was to be destroyed. To
reconcile them to this uncertainty, our Lord first teaches them to
consider this destruction the close of one great epoch, or [Greek:
aion], as the type of the final close of the whole world of time, that
is, of all temporal things; and then reasons with them thus:--"Wonder
not that I should leave you ignorant of the former, when even the
highest order of heavenly intelligences know not the latter, [Greek:
oud' ho uhios, ei mae ho pataer]; nor should I myself, but that the
Father knows it, all whose will is essentially known to me as the
Eternal Son. But even to me it is not revealably communicated." Such
seems to me the true sense of this controverted passage in Mark, and
that it is borne out by many parallel texts in St. John, and that the
correspondent text in Matthew, which omits the [Greek: oud' ho huios],
conveys the same sense in equivalent terms, the word [Greek: emou]
including the Son in the [Greek: pataer monos]. For to his only-begotten
Son before all time the Father showeth all things.
Ib. p. 279.
But whether we can reconcile these words to our belief of Christ's
prescience and divinity, or not, matters little to the debate about
his divinity itself; since we can so fully prove it by innumerable
passages of Scripture, too direct, express, and positive, to be
balanced by one obscure passage, from 'whence the Arian is to draw the
consequence himself, which may possibly be wrong'.
Ib. p. 280.
'We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an
understanding that we may know him that is true; and we are in him
that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and
eternal life.'--l John v. 20. The whole connection evidently shows the
words to be spoken of Christ.
That the words comprehend Christ is most evident. All that can be fairly
concluded from 1 Cor. viii. 6, is this:--that the Apostles, Paul and
John, speak of the Father as including and comprehending the Son and the
Holy Ghost, as his Word and his Spirit; but of these as inferring or
supposing the Father, not comprehending him. Whenever, therefore,
respecting the Godhead itself, containing both deity and dominion, the
term God is distinctively used, it is applied to the Father, and Lord to
Ib. p. 281.
But, farther, it is objected that Christ cannot be God, since God
calls him 'his servant' more than once, particularly 'Isaiah' xlii. 1.
The Prophets often speak of the anti-type, or person typified, in
language appropriate to, and suggested by, the type itself. So, perhaps,
in this passage, if, as I suppose, Hezekiah was the type immediately
present to Isaiah's imagination. However, Skelton's answer is quite
Ib. p. 287.
Hence it appears, that in the passage objected, (1 'Cor'. xv. 24, &c.)
Christ is spoken of purely as that Man whom 'God had highly exalted,
and to whom he had given a name which is above every name, that at the
name of Jesus every knee should bow.' (Phil. ii. 9, 10.)
I must confess that this exposition does not quite satisfy me. I cannot
help thinking that something more and deeper was meant by the Apostle;
and this must be sought for in the mystery of the Trinity itself, 'in
which' (mystery) 'all treasures of knowledge are hidden'.
Ib. p. 318.
Hence, perhaps, may be best explained what St. Peter says in the
second Epistle, after pleading a miracle. 'We have also a more sure
word of prophecy, whereunto you do well that you take heed.'
I believe that St. Peter neither said it, nor meant this; but that
[Greek: Bebaioteron] follows 'the prophetic word'. We have also the word
of prophecy more firm;--that is; we have, in addition to the evidence of
the miracles themselves, this further confirmation, that they are the
fulfilment of known prophecies.
Ib. p. 327.
Agreeable to these passages of the Prophet, St. Peter tells us ('Acts'
x. 38), 'God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and
I have often to complain that too little attention is paid by
commentators to the history and particular period in which certain
speeches were delivered, or words written. Could St. Peter with
propriety have introduced the truth to a prejudiced audience with its
deepest mysteries? Must he not have begun with the most evident facts?
Ib. Disc. VIII.
The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity vindicated.
Were I a Clergyman, the paragraphs from p. 366 to p. 370, both
inclusive, of this Discourse should form the conclusion of my Sermon on
Trinity Sunday,--whether I preached at St. James's, or in a country
Ib. pp. 374-378.
As a reason why we should doubt our own judgment, it is quite fair to
remind the objector, that the same difficulty occurs in the scheme of
God's ordinary providence. But that a difficulty in a supposed article
of revealed truth is solved by the occurrence of the same or of an
equivalent difficulty in the common course of human affairs--this I find
it hard to conceive. How was the religious, as distinguished from the
moral, sense first awakened? What made the human soul feel the necessity
of a faith in God, but the apparent incongruity of certain dispensations
in this world with the idea of God, with the law written in the heart?
Is not the reconciling of these facts or 'phaenomena' with the divine
attributes, one of the purposes of a revealed religion? But even this is
not a full statement of the defect complained of in this solution. A
difficulty which may be only apparent (like that other of the prosperity
of the wicked) is solved by the declaration of its reality! A difficulty
grounded on the fact of temporal and outward privations and sufferings,
is solved by being infinitely increased, that is, by the assertion of
the same principle on the determination of our inward and everlasting
weal and woe. That there is nothing in the Christian Faith or in the
Canonical Scriptures, when rightly interpreted, that requires such an
argument, or sanctions the recourse to it, I believe myself to have
proved in the Aids to Reflection. For observe that "to solve" has a
scientific, and again a religious sense, and that in the latter, a
difficulty is satisfactorily solved, as soon as its insolvibility for
the human mind is proved and accounted for.
Ib. (Disc. XIV. pp. 500-502.)
Christianity proved by Miracles.
I cannot see and never could, the purpose, or 'cui bono', of this
reasoning. To whom is it addressed? To a man who denies a God, or that
God can reveal his will to mankind? If such a man be not below talking
to, he must first be convinced of his miserable blindness respecting
these truths; for these are clearly presupposed in every proof of
Again, does he admit the authenticity of the Gospels, and the veracity
of the Evangelists? Does he credit the facts there related, and as
related? If not, these points must be proved; for these are clearly
presupposed in all reasoning on the particular miracles of the Christian
dispensation. If he does, can he deny that many acts of Christ were
wonderful;--that reanimating a dead body in which putrefaction had
already commenced,--and feeding four thousand men with a few loaves and
fishes, so that the fragments left greatly exceeded the original total
quantity,--were wonderful events? Should such a man, 'compos mentis',
exist, (which I more than doubt,) what could a wise man do but
stare--and leave him? Christ wrought many wonderful works, implying
admirable power, and directed to the most merciful and beneficent ends;
and these acts were such signs of his divine mission, as rendered
inattention or obstinate averseness to the truths and doctrines which he
promulgated, inexcusable, and indeed on any hypothesis but that of
immoral dispositions and prejudices, utterly inconceivable. In what
respect, I pray, can this statement be strengthened by any reasoning
about the nature and distinctive essence of miracles 'in abstracto'?
What purpose can be answered by any pretended definition of a miracle?
If I met with a disputatious word-catcher, or logomachist, who sought to
justify his unbelief on this ground, I should not hesitate to
say--"Never mind whether it is a miracle or no. Call it what you
will;--but do you believe the fact? Do you believe that Christ did by
force of his will and word multiply instantaneously twelve loaves and a
few small fishes, into sufficient food for a hungering multitude of four
thousand men and women?" When I meet with, or from credible authority
hear of, a man who believes this fact, and yet thinks it no sign of
Christ's mission; when I can even conceive of a man in his right senses
who, believing all the facts and events related in the New Testament,
and as there related, does yet remain a Deist, I may think it time to
enter into a disquisition respecting the right definition of a miracle;
and meantime, I humbly trust that believing with my whole heart and soul
in the wonderful works of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I shall not
forfeit my title of Christian, though I should not subscribe to this or
that divine's right definition of his 'idea' of a miracle; which word is
with me no 'idea' at all, but a general term; the common surname, as it
were, of the wonderful works wrought by the messengers of God to man in
the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian dispensations.
It is to these notions and general definitions, far more than to the
facts themselves, that the arguments of Infidels apply; and from which
they derive their plausibility. Nor is this all. The Infidel imitates
the divine, and adopts the same mode of arguing, namely, by this
substantiation of mere general or collective terms. For instance, Hume's
argument (stated, by the by, before he was born, and far more forcibly,
by Dr. South, who places it in the mouth of Thomas,) --reduce it to
the particular facts in question, and its whole speciousness vanishes. I
am speaking of the particular facts and actions of the Gospel; of those,
and those only. Now that I should be deceived, or the eye-witnesses have
been deceived, under all the circumstances of those miracles, with all
antecedents, accompaniments, and consequents, is quite as contrary to,
that is, unparalleled in my experience, as the return to life of a dead
So again in the second paragraph of page 502,  the position is true
or false according to the definition of a miracle. In the narrower sense
of the term, miracle,--that is, a consequent presented to the outward
senses without an adequate antecedent, ejusdem generis,--it is not only
false but detractory from the Christian religion. It is a main, nay, an
indispensable evidence; but it is not the only, no, nor if comparison be
at all allowable, the highest and most efficient; unless, indeed, the
term evidence is itself confined to grounds of conviction offered to the
senses, but then the position is a mere truism.
There is yet another way of reasoning, which I utterly dislike; namely,
by putting imaginary cases of imaginary miracles, as Paley has done. "If
a dozen different individuals, all men of known sense and integrity,
should each independently of the other pledge their everlasting weal on
the truth, that they saw a man beheaded and quartered, and that on a
certain person's prayer or bidding, the quarters reunited, and then a
new head grew on and from out of the stump of the neck: and should the
man himself assure you of the same, shew you the junctures, and identify
himself to you by some indelible mark, with which you had been
previously acquainted,--could you withstand this evidence?" What could a
judicious man reply but--"When such an event takes place, I will tell
you; but what has this to do with the reasons for our belief in the
truth of the written records of the Old and New Testament? Why do you
fly off from the facts to a gigantic fiction,--when the possibility of
the 'If' with respect to a much less startling narration is the point in
dispute between us?"
Such and so peculiar, and to an honest mind so unmistakeable, is the
character of veracity and simplicity on the very countenance, as it
were, of the Gospel, that every remove of the inquirer's attention from
the facts themselves is a remove of his conversion. It is your business
to keep him from wandering, not to set him the example.
Never, surely, was there a more unequal writer than Skelton;--in the
discourses on the Trinity, the compeer of Bull and Waterland; and yet
the writer of these pages, 500-501! Natural magic! a stroke of art! for
example, converting the Nile into blood! And then his definition of a
miracle. Suspension of the laws of nature! suspension--laws--nature!
Bless me! a chapter would be required for the explanation of each
several word of this definition, and little less than omniscience for
its application in any one instance. An effect presented to the senses
without any adequate antecedent, 'ejusdem generis', is a miracle in the
philosophic sense. Thus: the corporeal ponderable hand and arm raised
with no other known causative antecedent, but a thought, a pure act of
an immaterial essentially invisible imponderable will, is a miracle for
a reflecting mind. Add the words, 'praeter experientiam': and we have the
definition of a miracle in the popular, practical, and appropriated
That all our thoughts and views respecting our Faith should be
consistent with each other, and with the attributes of God, is most
highly desirable: but when the great diversities of men's
understandings, and the unavoidable influence of circumstances on the
mind, are considered, we may hope from the Divine mercy, that the
agreement in the result will suffice; and that he who sincerely and
efficiently believes that Christ left the glory which he had with the
Father before all worlds, to become man and die for our salvation,--that
by him we may, and by him alone we can, be saved,--will be held a true
believer,--whether he interprets the words 'sacrifice,' 'purchase,'
'bargain,' 'satisfaction,' of the creditor by full payment of the
'debt,' and the like as proper and literal expressions of the redeeming
act and the cause of our salvation, as Skelton seems to have done;--or
(as I do) as figurative language truly designating the effects and
consequences of this adorable act and process.
Ib. p. 393.
But were the prospect of a better parish, in case of greater
diligence, set before him by his Bishop, on the music of such a
promise, like one bit by a 'tarantula', we should probably soon see
him in motion, and serving God, (O shameful!) for the sake of Mammon,
as if his torpid body had been animated anew by a returning soul.
Without any high-flying in Christian morality, I cannot keep shrinking
from the wish here expressed; at all events, I cannot sympathize with,
or participate in, the expectation of "an infinite advancement" from men
Ib. p. 394.
Yet excommunication, the inherent discipline of the Church, which it
exercised under persecution, which it is still permitted to exercise
under the present establishment.
Rarely I suspect, without exposing the Clergyman to the risk of an
action for damages, or some abuse. There are few subjects that more need
investigation, yet require more vigour and soundness of judgment to be
rightly handled, than this of Christian discipline in a Church
established by law. It is indeed a most difficult and delicate problem,
and supplied Baxter with a most plausible and to me the only perplexing
of his numerous objections to our Ecclesiastical Constitution. On the
other hand, I saw clearly that he was requiring an impossibility; and
that his argument carried on to its proper consequences concluded
against all Church Establishment, not more against the National Church
of which he complained, than the one of his own clipping and shaping
which he would have substituted; consequently, every proof (and I saw
many and satisfactory proofs) of the moral and political necessity of an
Established Church, was at the same time a pledge that a deeper insight
would detect some flaw in the reasoning of the Disciplinarians. For if
A. be right and requisite, B., which is incompatible with A., cannot be
rightly required. And this it was, that first led me to the distinction
between the 'Ecclesia' and an 'Enclesia', concerning which see my Essay
on Establishment and Dissent, in which I have met the objection to my
position, that Christian discipline is incompatible with a Church
established by law, from the fact of the discipline of the Church of
Scotland.  Who denies that it is in the power of a legislature to
punish certain offences by ignominy, and to make the clergy magistrates
in reference to these? The question is, whether it is wise or expedient,
which it may be, or rather may have been, in Scotland, and the contrary
in England? Wise or unwise, this is not discipline, not Christian
discipline, enforced only by spiritual motives, enacted by spiritual
authority, and submitted to for conscience' sake.
Ib. p. 446.
Be this as it may, the foreknowledge and the decree were both eternal.
Here now it is a clear point that the moral actions of all accountable
agents were, with certainty, fore-known, and their doom unalterably
fixed, long before any one of them existed.
Strange that so great a man as Skelton should first affirm eternity of
both, yet in the next sentence talk of "long before." These Reflections
 are excellent, but here Skelton offends against his own canons. I
should feel no reluctance, moral or speculative, in accepting the
apparent necessity of both propositions, as a sufficient reason for
believing both; and the transcendancy of the subject as a sufficient
solution of their apparent incompatibility. But yet I think that another
view of the subject, not less congruous with universal reason and more
agreeable to the light of reason in the human understanding, might be
defended, without detracting from any perfection of the Divine Being.
Nay, I think that Skelton needed but one step more to have seen it.
Ib. p. 478.
To what purpose were these Reflections, taken as a whole, written? I
cannot answer. To dissuade men from reasoning on a subject beyond our
faculties? Then why all this reasoning?
Vol. IV. p. 28. Deism Revealed.
'Shepherd'. Were you ever at Constantinople, Sir?
'Shep.' Yet I believe you have no more doubt there is such a city,
than that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two
'Temp.' I am sure 1 have not.
'Dech.' Nor I; but what then?
'Shep.' Pray, Mr. Dechaine, did you see Julius Caesar assassinated in
'Dech.' A pretty question! No indeed, Sir.
'Shep.' Have you any doubts about the truth of what is told us by the
historians concerning that memorable transaction?
'Dech.' Not the least.
'Shep.' Pray, is it either self-evident or demonstrable to you, at
this time and place, that there is any such city as
Constantinople, or that there ever was such a man as Caesar?
'Dech.' By no means.
'Shep.' And you have all you know concerning the being of either the
city, or the man, merely from the report of others, who had it
from others, and so on, through many links of tradition?
'Dech.' I have.
'Shep.' You see then, that there are certain cases, in which the
evidence of things not seen nor either sensibly or
demonstrably perceived, can justly challenge so entire an
assent, that he who should pretend to refuse it in the fullest
measure of acquiescence, would be deservedly esteemed the most
stupid or perverse of mankind.
That there is a sophism here, every one must feel in the very fact of
being 'non-plus'd' without being convinced. The sophism consists in the
instance being 'haud ejusdem generis' ([Greek: elegchos metabaseos eis
allo genos]); and what the allogeneity is between the assurance of the
being of Madrid or Constantinople, and the belief of the fact of the
resurrection of Christ, I have shown elsewhere. The universal belief of
the 'tyrannicidium' of Julius Caesar is doubtless a fairer instance, but
the whole mode of argument is unsound and unsatisfying. Why run off from
the fact in question, or the class at least to which it belongs? The
victory can be but accidental--a victory obtained by the unguarded
logic, or want of logical foresight of the antagonist, who needs only
narrow his positions to narrations of facts and events, in our judgment
of which we are not aided by the analogy of previous and succeeding
experience, to deprive you of the opportunity of skirmishing thus on No
Man's land. But this is Skelton's ruling passion, sometimes his
strength--too often his weakness. He must force the reader to believe:
or rather he has an antagonist, a wilful infidel or heretic always and
exclusively before his imagination; or if he thinks of the reader at
all, it is as of a partizan enjoying every hard thump, and smashing
'fister' he gives the adversary, whom Skelton hates too cordially to
endure to obtain any thing from him with his own liking. No! It must be
against his will, and in spite of it. No thanks to him--the dog could
not help himself! How much more effectual would he have found it to have
commenced by placing himself in a state of sympathy with the supposed
sceptic or unbeliever;--to have stated to him his own feelings, and the
real grounds on which they rested;--to have shown himself the difference
between the historical facts which the sceptic takes for granted and
believes spontaneously, as it were,--and those, which are to be the
subject of discussion; and this brings the question at once to the
proof. And here, after all, lies the strength of Skelton's reasoning,
which would have worked far more powerfully, had it come first and
single, and with the whole attention directed towards it.
Ib. p. 35.
'Templeton.' Surely the resurrection of Christ, or any other man,
cannot be a thing impossible with God. It is neither
above his power, nor, when employed for a sufficient
purpose, inconsistent with his majesty, wisdom, and
This is the ever open and vulnerable part of Deism. The Deist, as a
Deist, believes, 'implicite' at least, so many and stupendous miracles
as to render his disbelief of lesser miracles, simply because they are
miraculous, gross inconsistencies. To have the battle fairly fought out,
Spinoza, or a Bhuddist, or a Burmese Gymnosoph, should be challenged.
Then, I am deeply persuaded, would the truth appear in full evidence,
that no Christ, no God,--and, conversely, if the Father, then the Son. I
can never too often repeat, that revealed religion is a pleonasm.
--Religion is revelation, and revelation the only religion.
Ib. p. 37.
'Shep.' Those believers, whose faith is to rely on the truth of the
Christian history, rest their assent on a written report made
by eye-witnesses; which report the various Churches and sects,
jealous of one another, took care to preserve genuine and
uncorrupted, at least in all material points, and all the
religious writers in every age since have amply attested.
A divine of the present day who shall undertake the demonstration of the
truth of Christianity by external evidences, or historically, must not
content himself with assuming or asserting this. He must either prove
it; or prove that such proof is not necessary. I myself should be quite
satisfied if I proved the former position in respect to the fourth
Gospel, and showed that the evidence of the other three was equivalent
to a record by an eye-witness: which would not be at all inconsistent
with my contending at the same time for the authenticity of the first
Gospel, or rather for the Catholic interpretation of the title-words
[Greek: Kata Matthaion], as the more probable opinion, which a sound
divine will neither abandon nor overload, neither place it in the
foundation, nor on the other hand suffer it to be extruded from the
wall. Believe me, there is great, very great, danger in these broad
unqualified assertions that Skelton deals in. Even though the balance of
evidence should be on his side, yet the inquirer will be unfavourably
affected by the numerous doubts and difficulties which an acquaintance
with the more modern works of Biblical criticism will pour upon him, and
for which his mind is wholly unprepared. To meet with a far weaker
evidence than we had taken it for granted we were to find, gives the
same shake to the mind, that missing a stair gives to the body.
Ib. p. 243.
'Temp.' You, Mr. Dechaine, seem to forget that God is just; and you,
Mr. Shepherd, that he is merciful
'Dech.' I insist, that, as God is merciful, he will forgive.
'Shep.' And I insist, that, as he is just, he will punish.
'Temp.' Pray Mr. Dechaine, are you able, upon the Deistical scheme to
rid yourself of this difficulty?
'Dech.' I see no difficulty in it at all. God gives us laws only for
our good, and will never suffer those laws to become a snare
to us, and the occasion of our eternal misery.
Here is the 'cardo'! The man of sense asserts that it is necessary for
the good of all, that a code of laws should exist, while yet it is
impossible that all should at all times be obeyed by each person: but
what is impossible cannot be required. Nevertheless, it may be required
that no 'iota' of any one of these laws should be wilfully and
deliberately transgressed, nor is there any one for the transgression of
which the transgressor must not hold himself punishable. "And yet" (says
our man of sense,) "what may not be said of any one point, or any one
moment, cannot be denied of the collective agency of a whole life, or
any considerable section of it. Here we find ourselves constrained by
our best feelings to praise or condemn, to reward or punish, according
as a great predominance of acts of obedience or disobedience, and a
continued love of the better, or the lusting after the worst, manifests
the maxim ('regula maxima'), the radical will and proper character of
the individual. So parents judge of their children; so schoolmasters of
their scholars; so friends of friends, and even so will God judge his
creatures, if we are to trust in our common sense, or believe the
repeated declarations in the Old Testament." And now I should be glad to
hear any satisfactory 'sensible' reply to this, or any answer that does
not fly higher than 'sense' can follow, and pierce into "the thick
clouds" of decried metaphysics! For no fair reply can be imagined, but
one which would find the root of the moral evil, the true [Greek:
ponaeron], in this very impossibility.
Ib. p. 249.
'Cunningham.' But how does all this discourse about sacrifices and the
natural light show that your faith does not ascribe
injustice to God in putting an innocent person to death
for the transgressions of the guilty?
'Shep.' Was Christ innocent?
'Cunn.' 'He was without sin.'
'Shep.' And he was put to death by the appointment and
predetermination of God?
'Cunn.' The Jews put him to death.
'Shep.' Do not evade the question. Was he not 'the Lamb slain from the
foundation of the world'? Was he not 'so delivered by the
determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, that the Jews,
having taken him, by wicked hands crucified and slew him?'
'Cunn'. And what then?
'Shep'. Nothing; but that you are to answer, as well as I, for saying
that God predetermined the death of this only innocent person.
I am less pleased with this volume than with any of the preceding. Ask
your own heart and conscience whether (for instance,) they are satisfied
with this defence 'duri per durius': or whether frightening a modest
query into silence by perverting it into an accusation of the Almighty,
by virtue of a conclusion borrowed from the Calvinistic theory of
Predestination, is not more in the spirit of Job's comforters, than
becomes a minister of the Apostolic Church of England and Ireland? Such
arguments are but edge-tools at the safest, but more often they may
rather be likened to the two-edged blade of Parysatis's knife, the one
of which was poisoned. Leave them to Calvin, or those who dare
appropriate Calvin's words, that "God's absolute will is the only rule
of his justice;"--thus dividing the divine attributes. Yet Calvin
himself distinguishes the hidden from the revealed God, even as the
Greek Fathers distinguished the [Greek: thelaema Theou], the absolute
ground of all being, from the [Greek: Boulae tou Theou], as the cause
and disposing providence of all existence.
But I disapprove of the plan and spirit of this work, (Deism Revealed.)
The cold-hearted, worldly-minded, cunning Deist, or the coarse sensual
Infidel, is of all men the least likely to be converted; and the
conscientious, inquiring, though misled and perplexed, Sceptic will
throw aside a book at once, as not applicable to his case, which treats
every doubt as a crime, and supposes that there is no doubt at all
possible but in a bad heart and from wicked wishes. Compare this with
St. Paul's language concerning the Jews.
So again, pp. 225, &c. of this volume. Do not the plainest intuitions of
our moral and rational being confirm the positions here attributed to
the Deist, Dechaine? Are they not the same by which Melancthon
de-Calvinized, at least de-Augustinized, the heroic Luther;--those
which constitute one of the only two essential differences between the
Augsburg Confession and the Calvinistic Articles of Faith? And can
anything be more flittery and special-pleading than Skelton's
objections? And again, p. 507, "and that prayer which he (Tindal) is
reported to have used a little before his death, 'If there is a God, I
desire he may have mercy on me;'"--was it Christian-like to publish and
circulate a blind report--so improbable and disgusting, as to demand the
strongest and most unsuspicious testimony for its reception?
Ib. p. 268.
'Shep'. Pray, Mr. Dechaine, if a person, whom you knew to be an honest
and clear-sighted man, should solemnly assure you he saw a
dead man restored to life, what would you think of his
'Dech'. As I could not possibly have as strong an assurance of his
honesty, clear-sightedness, and penetration, as of the great
improbability of the fact, I should not believe him.
'Shep'. Well; it is true he might be deceived himself, or intend to
impose on you. But in case ten such persons should all, at
different times, confirm the same report, how would this
There is one inconvenience, not to say danger, in this argument of Mr.
Shepherd's; namely, that of its not standing in the same force, when it
comes to be repeated in the particular miraculous facts in support of
which it is adduced.
Ib. p. 281.
No other ancient book can be so well proved to have been the work of
the author it is now ascribed to, as every book of the New Testament
can be proved to have been written by him whose name it hath all along
This is true to the full extent that the defence of the divinity of our
religion needs, or perhaps permits, and I see no advantage gained by
asserting more. I must lose all power of distinction, before I can
affirm that the genuineness of the first Gospel,--that in its present
form it was written by Matthew, or is a literal translation of a Gospel
written by him,--rests on as strong external evidence as Luke's, or on
as strong internal evidence as St. John's. Sufficient that the evidence
greatly preponderates in its favor.
[Footnote 1: The complete Works of the late Rev. Philip Skelton, Rector
of Fintona. 6. vols. 8vo. London, 1824. 'Ed.']
[Footnote 2: See South's Works, vol. iii. p. 500. Clarendon edit. 1823
[Footnote 3: But it will be proper to observe, that it strikes directly
at the very root of Revelation, which cannot possibly give any other
evidence of itself, as the dictate of God, but what must be drawn from
miracles, wrought to prove the divine mission of those who publish it to
[Footnote 4: The Editor is not aware of the existence of the Essay here
mentioned. But see for the distinction of the 'Ecclesia' and 'Enclesia',
the Church and State, 3rd edit.--Ed.]
[Footnote 5: On Predestination, as far as p. 445.]
* * * * *
NOTES ON ANDREW FULLER'S CALVINISTIC AND SOCINIAN SYSTEMS EXAMINED AND
COMPARED.  1807.
Letter III. p. 38.
They (the Jews) did not deny that to be God's own Son was to be equal
with the Father, nor did they allege that such an equality would
destroy the divine unity: a thought of this kind never seems to have
occurred to their minds.
In so truly excellent a book as this is, I regret that this position
should rest on an assertion. The equality of Christ would not, indeed,
destroy the unity of God the Father, considered as one Person: but,
unless we presume the Jews in question acquainted with the great truth
of the Tri-unity, we must admit that it would be considered as implying
Ditheism. Now that some among the Jews had made very near approaches,
though blended with errors, to the doctrine taught in John, c. i., we
can prove from the writings of Philo;--and the Socinians can never prove
that these Jews did not know at least of the doctrine of their schools
concerning the only-begotten Word--[Greek: Logos monogenaes],--not as
an attribute, much less as an abstraction or personification--but as a
distinct 'Hypostasis' [Greek: symphysikae]:-and hence it might be shown
that their offence was that the carpenter's son, the Galilean, should
call himself the [Greek: Theos phaneros]. This might have been rendered
more than probable by the concluding sentence of Christ's answer to the
disciples of John;--'and blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended
in me' (Luke vii. 23.); which appears to have no adequate or even
tolerable meaning, unless in reference to the passage in Isaiah, (lxi.
1, 2.) prophesying that Jehovah himself would come among them, and do
the things which our Saviour states himself to have done. Thus, too, I
regret that the answer of our Lord, (John x. 34-36.) being one of the
imagined strong-holds of the Socinians, should not have been more fully
cleared up. I doubt not that Fuller's is a true interpretation; and that
no other is consistent with our Lord's various other declarations. But
the words in and by themselves admit a more plausible misinterpretation
than is elsewhere the case of Socinian displanations. In short, I think
both passages would have been better deferred to a further part of the
Let me add that a mighty and comparatively new argument against the
Socinians may be most unanswerably deduced from this reply of our
Lord's, even were it considered as a mere 'argumentum ad homines':
--namely, that it was not his Messiahship that so offended the Jews, but
his Sonship; otherwise, our Saviour's language would have neither force,
motive, or object. "Even were I no more than the Messiah, in your
meanest conceptions of that character, yet after what I have done before
your eyes, nothing but malignant hearts could have prevented you from
adopting a milder interpretation of my words, when in your own
Scriptures there exists a precedent that so much more than merely
justifies me." And this I believe to be the meaning of the words as
intended to be understood by the Jews in question; though, doubtless,
Fuller's sense exists 'implicite'. No candid person would ever call it
an evasion, to prove the injustice and malignity of an accuser even from
his own grounds:--"You charge me falsely; but even were your charge
true, namely, that I am a mere man, and yet call myself the Son of God,
still it would not follow that I have been guilty of blasphemy." But as
understood by the modern Unicists, it would verily, verily, be an
evasive ambiguity, most unworthy of Christian belief concerning his
Saviour. Common charity would have demanded of him to have said:--"I am
a mere man: I do not pretend to be more; but I used the words in analogy
to the words, 'Ye are as Gods'; and I have a right to do so: for though
a mere man, I am the great Prophet and Messenger which Moses promised
Letter V. p. 72.
If Dr. Priestley had formed his estimate of human virtue by that great
standard which requires love to God with all the heart, soul, mind,
and strength, and our neighbour as ourselves,--instead of representing
men by nature as having "more virtue than vice,"--he must have
acknowledged with the Scripture, that 'the whole world lieth in
wickedness--that every thought and imagination of their heart is only
evil continually'--and that 'there is none of them that doeth good, no
To this the Unicists would answer, that by 'the whole world' is meant
all the worldly-minded;--no matter in how direct opposition to half a
score other texts! "One text at a time!" sufficient for the day is the
evil thereof!--and in this way they go on pulling out hair by hair from
the horse's tail, (say rather, dreaming that they do so,) and then
conclude with a shout that the horse never had a tail! For why? This
hair is not a tail, nor that, nor the third, and so on to the very last;
and how can all do what none of all does?--Ridiculous as this is, it is
a fair image of Socinian logic. Thank God, their plucking out is a mere
fancy;--and the sole miserable reality is the bare rump which they call
their religion;--but that is the ape's own growth.
Ib. p. 77.
First, that all punishments are designed for the good of the whole,
and less or corrective punishments for the good of the offender, is
admitted. * * God never inflicts punishment for the sake of punishing.
This is not, [Greek: hos emoige dokei], sufficiently guarded. That all
punishments work for the good of the whole, and that the good of the
whole is included in God's design, I admit: but that this is the sole
cause, and the sole justification of divine punishment, I cannot, I dare
not, concede;--because I should thus deny the essential evil of guilt,
and its inherent incompatibility with the presence of a Being of
infinite holiness. Now, exclusion from God implies the sum and utmost of
punishment; and this would follow from the very essence of guilt and
holiness, independently of example, consequence, or circumstance.
Letter VI. p. 90.
(The systems compared as to their tendency to promote morality in
I have hitherto made no objection to, no remark on, any one part of this
Letter; for I object to the whole--not as Calvinism, but--as what Calvin
would have recoiled from. How was it that so good and shrewd a man as
Andrew Fuller should not have seen, that the difference between a
Calvinist and a Priestleyan Materialist-Necessitarian consists in
this:--The former not only believes a will, but that it is equivalent to
the 'ego ipse', to the actual self, in every moral agent; though he
believes that in human nature it is an enslaved, because a corrupt,
will. In denying free will to the unregenerated he no more denies will,
than in asserting the poor negroes in the West Indies to be slaves I
deny them to be men. Now the latter, the Priestleyan, uses the word
will,--not for any real, distinct, correspondent power, but,--for the
mere result and aggregate of fibres, motions, and sensations; in short,
it is a mere generic term with him, just as when we say, the main
current in a river.
Now by not adverting to this, and alas! misled by Jonathan Edwards's
book, Fuller has hidden from himself and his readers the damnable nature
of the doctrine--not of necessity (for that in its highest sense is
identical with perfect freedom; they are definitions each of the other);
but--of extraneous compulsion. O! even this is not adequate to the
monstrosity of the thought. A denial of all agency;--or an assertion of
a world of agents that never act, but are always acted upon, and yet
without any one being that acts;--this is the hybrid of Death and Sin,
which throughout this letter is treated so amicably! Another fearful
mistake, and which is the ground of the former, lies in conceding to the
Materialist, 'explicite et implicite', that the [Greek: noumenon], the
'intelligibile', the 'ipseitas super sensibilis', of guilt is in time,
and of time, and, consequently, a mechanism of cause and effect;--in
other words, in confounding the [Greek: phainomena, ta rheonta, ta mae
ontos onta],--all which belong to time, and cannot be even thought of
except as effects necessarily predetermined by the precedent causes,
(themselves in their turn effects of other causes),--with the
transsensual ground or actual power.
After such admissions, no other possible defence can be made for
Calvinism or any other 'ism' than the wretched recrimination: "Why,
yours, Dr. Priestley, is just as bad!"--Yea, and no wonder:--for in
essentials both are the same. But there was no reason for Fuller's
meddling with the subject at all,--metaphysically, I mean.
Ib. p. 95.
If the unconditionality of election render it unfriendly to virtue, it
must be upon the supposition of that view of things, "which attributes
more to God, and less to man," having such ascendancy; which is the
very reverse of what Dr. Priestley elsewhere teaches, and that in the
But in both systems, as Fuller has erroneously stated his own, man is
annihilated. There is neither more nor less; it is all God; all, all are
but 'Deus infinite modificatus':--in brief, both systems are not
Spinosism, for no other reason than that the logic and logical
consequency of 10 Fullers + 10 X 10 Dr. Priestleys, piled on each other,
would not reach the calf of Spinoza's leg. Both systems of necessity
lead to Spinosism, nay, to all the horrible consequences attributed to
it by Spinoza's enemies. O, why did Andrew Fuller quit the high vantage
ground of notorious facts, plain durable common sense, and express
Scripture, to delve in the dark in order to countermine mines under a
spot, on which he had no business to have wall, tent, temple, or even
[Footnote 1: The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems examined and compared,
as to their moral tendency; in a series of Letters addressed to the
friends of vital and practical religion; especially those amongst
Protestant Dissenters. By Andrew Fuller. Market Harborough. 1793.]
* * * * *
NOTES ON WHITAKER'S ORIGIN OF ARIANISM DISCLOSED.  1810.
Chap. I. 4. p. 30.
'Making himself equal with God'.
Whoever reads the four verses (John v. 16-19,) attentively, judging of
the meaning of each part by the context, must needs, I think, see that
the [Greek: ison heauton poion ton Theo] (18) refers,--not to the
[Greek: patera idion elege ton Theon], (18) or the [Greek: ho pataer
mou] (17), but--to the [Greek: ergazetai, kago ergazomai] (17). The 19th
verse, which is directly called Jesus' reply, takes no notice whatever
of the [Greek: ho pataer mou] (17), but consists wholly of a
justification of the [Greek: kago ergazomai].
The above was written many years ago. I still think the remark
plausible, though I should not now express myself so positively. I
imagined the Jews to mean: "he has evidently used the words [Greek: ho
pataer mou]--not in the sense in which all good men may use them,
but--in a literal sense, because by the words that followed, [Greek:
ergazetai, kago ergazomai], he makes himself equal to God." To justify
these words seemed to me to be the purport of Christ's reply.
Chap. II. 1. p. 34.
[Greek: (Philon)--peri men oun ta theia kai patria mathaemata, poson
te kai paelikon eisenaenektai ponon, ergo pasi daelos kai peri ta
philosopha de kai eleutheria taes exothen paideias oios tis aen, ouden
dei legein hoti kai malista taen kata Platona kai Pythagoran ezaelokos
agogaen, dienegken apantas tous kath' heauton, historeitai].
Euseb. Hist. II. 4.
Philo's acquaintance with the doctrines of the heathens was known only
by historical report to Eusebius; while the writings of Philo
displayed his knowledge in the religion of the Jews.
Strange comment. Might I not, after having spoken of Dun Scotus's works,
say;--"he is reported to have surpassed all his contemporaries in
subtlety of logic:"--yet still mean no other works than those before
mentioned? Are not Philo's works full of, crowded with, Platonic and
Pythagorean philosophy? Eusebius knew from his works that he was a great
Platonic scholar; but that he was greater than any other man of his age,
he could only learn from report or history. That Virgil is a great poet
I know from his poems; but that he was the greatest of the Augustan age,
I must learn from Quinctilian and others.
Ib. p. 35.
Philo and the author of the Wisdom of Solomon,--(or rather, perhaps,
authors; for the first ten chapters form a complete work of
themselves,)--were both Cabalistico-Platonizing Jews of Alexandria. As
far as, being such, they must agree, so far they do agree; and as widely
as such men could differ, do they differ. Not only the style of the
Wisdom of Solomon is generically different from Philo's,--so much so
that I should deem it a free translation from a Hebrew original,--but
also in all the 'minutiae' of traditional history and dogma it
contradicts Philo. Philo attributes the creation of man to angels; and
they infused the evil principle through their own imperfections. In the
Book of Wisdom, God created man spotless, and the Devil tempting him
occasioned the Fall. So the whole account of the plagues of Egypt
differs as widely as possible, even to absolute contradiction. The
origin of idolatry is explained altogether differently by Philo, and by
the Book of Wisdom. In short, so unsupported is the tradition that many
have supposed an elder Philo as the author. That the second and third
chapters allude to Christ is a groundless hypothesis. The 'just man' is
called 'the son of God', Jehovah, [Greek: pais Kyrion];--but Christ's
specific title which was deemed blasphemous by the Jews, was 'Ben
Elohim', [Greek: uhios tou Theou];--and the fancy that Philo was a
Christian in heart, but dared not openly profess himself such, is too
absurd. Why no traces in his latest work, or those of his middle age?
Why not the least variation in his religious or philosophical creeds in
his latter works, written long after the resurrection, from those
composed by him before, or a few years after, Christ's birth? Some of
Philo's earlier works must have been written when our Lord was in his
infancy, or at least boyhood.
In short, just take all those passages of Philo which most closely
resemble others in the Wisdom of Solomon, and contain the same or nearly
the same thoughts, and write them in opposite columns, and no doubt will
remain that Philo was not the composer of the Book of Wisdom. Philo
subtle, and with long involved periods knit together by logical
connectives: the Book of Wisdom sententious, full of parallelisms,
assertory and Hebraistic throughout. It was either composed by a man who
tried to Hebraize the Greek, or, if a translator, by one who tried to
Greecise the Hebraisms of his original--not to disguise or hide
them--but only so as to prevent them from repelling or misleading the
Greek reader. The different use of the Greek particles in the Wisdom of
Solomon, and in the works of Philo, is sufficient to confute the
hypothesis of Philo being the author. As little could it have been
written by a Christian. For it could not have been a Christian of
Palestine, from the overflowing Alexandrine Platonism;--nor a Christian
at all; for it contradicts the doctrine of the resurrection of the body,
and in no wise connects any redemptory or sacrificial virtue with the
death of his 'just man';--denies original sin in the Christian sense,
and explains the vice and virtue of mankind by the actions of the souls
of men in a state of pre-existence. No signs or miracles are referred to
in the account of 'the just man'; and that it was intended as a
generalization is evident from the change of the singular into the
plural number in the third chapter.
The result is, in my judgment, that this Book was composed by an unknown
Jew of Alexandria, either sometime before, or at the same time with,
Christ. I do not think St. Paul's parallel passages amount to any proof
of quotation or allusion;--they contain the common doctrine of the
spiritualized Judaism in the Cabala;--and yet the work could scarcely
have been written long before Christ, or it would certainly have been
quoted or mentioned by Philo, and most probably by Josephus. And this,
too, is an answer to the splendid and well-supported hypothesis of its
being a translation from a Chaldaic original, composed by Jerubbabel.
The variations of the Syriac translation,--which are so easily
explained by translating the passage into the Chaldaic, when the cause
of the mistake in the Greek or of the variation in the Syriac, is seen
at once,--are certainly startling; but they are too free; and how could
the Fathers, Jerome for example, remain ignorant of the existence of
this Chaldaic original? My own opinion is, as I said before, that the
Book was written in Greek by an Alexandrian Jew, who had formed his
style on that of the LXX., and was led still further to an imitation of
the Old Testament manner by the nature of his fiction, and as a dramatic
propriety, and yet deviated from it partly on account of the very
remoteness of his Platonic conceptions from the simplicity and poverty
of the Hebrew; and partly because of the wordy rhetoric epidemic in
Alexandria: and that it was written before the death, if not the birth,
of Christ, I am induced to believe, because I do not think it probable
that a book composed by a Jew, who had confessed Christ after the
resurrection, would so soon have been received by the Christians, and so
early placed in the very next rank to works of full inspiration.
Taken, therefore, as a work 'ante', or at least 'extra, Christum', it is
most valuable as ascertaining the opinions of the learned Jews on many
subjects, and the general belief concerning immortality, and a day of
judgment. On this ground Whitaker might have erected a most formidable
battery, that would have played on the very camp and battle-array of the
Socinians, that is, of those who consider Christ only as a teacher of
In referring to the Cabala, I am not ignorant of the date of the oldest
Rabbinical writings which contain or refer to this philosophy, but I
coincide with Eichorn, and very many before Eichorn, that the
foundations of the Cabala were laid and well known long before Christ,
though not all the fanciful superstructure. I am persuaded that new
light might be thrown on the Apocalypse by a careful study of the Book
Sohar, and of whatever else there may be of that kind. The introduction
(i. 4,) is clearly Cabala:--the [Greek: ho on, kai ho aen, kai ho
erchomenos]= 3, and the 'seven spirits' = 10 'Sephiroth', constituting
together the 'Adam Kadmon', the second Adam of St. Paul, the incarnate
one in the Messiah.
Were it not for the silence of Philo and Josephus, which I am unable to
explain if the Wisdom of Solomon was written so long before Christ, I
might perhaps incline to believe it composed shortly after, if not
during, the persecution of the Jews in Egypt under Ptolemy Philopator.
This hypothesis would give a particular point to the bitter exposure of
idolatry, to the comparison between the sufferings of the Jews, and
those of idolatrous nations, to the long rehearsal and rhetorical
declaration of the plagues of Egypt, and to the reward of 'the just man'
after a death of martyrdom; and would besides help to explain the
putting together of the first ten chapters, and the fragment contained
in the remaining chapters. They were works written at the same time, and
by the same author: nay, I do not think it absurd to suppose, that the
chapters after the tenth were annexed by the writer himself, as a long
explanatory appendix; or, possibly, if they were once a separate work,
these nine concluding chapters were parts of a book composed during the
persecution in Egypt, the introduction and termination of which, being
personal and of local application, were afterwards omitted or expunged
in order not to give offence to the other Egyptians,--perhaps, to spare
the shame of such Jews as had apostatized through fear, and in general
not to revive heart-burnings. In modern language I should call these
chapters in their present state a Note on c. x. 15-19.
On a reperusal of this Book, I rather believe that these latter chapters
never formed part of any other work, but were composed as a sort of long
explanatory Postscript, with particular bearing on certain existing
circumstances, to which this part of the Jewish history was especially
applicable. Nay, I begin to find the silence of Philo and Josephus less
inexplicable, and to imagine that I discover the solution of this
problem in the very title of the Book. No one expects to find any but
works of authenticity enumerated in these writers; but to this a work,
calling itself the Wisdom of Solomon, both being a fiction and never
meant to pass for anything else, could make no pretensions. To have
approximated it to the Holy Books of the nation would have injured the
dignity of the Jewish Canon, and brought suspicion on the genuine works
of Solomon, while it would have exposed to a charge of forgery a
composition which was in itself only an innocent dramatic monologue. N.
B. This hypothesis possesses all the advantages, and involves none of
the absurdity of that which would attribute the 'Ecclesiasticus' to the
infamous Jason, the High Priest. More than one commentator, I find, has
suspected that the Wisdom of Solomon and the second book of Maccabees
were by the same author. I think this nothing.
Ib. p. 36.
Philo throws out a number of declarations, that shew his own and the
Jewish belief in a secondary sort of God, a God subordinate in origin
to the Father of all, yet most intimately united with him, and sharing
his most unquestionable honours.
The belief of the Alexandrian Jews who had acquired Greek philosophy, no
doubt;--but of the Palestine Jews?
Ib. 2. p. 48.
St. John also is witnessed by a heathen (Amelius,) and by one who put
him down for a barbarian, to have represented the Logos as "the Maker
of all things," as "with 'God'," and as "God." And St. John is
attested to have declared this, "not even as shaded over, but on the
contrary as placed in full view."
Stranger still. Whitaker could scarcely have read the Greek. Amelius
says, that these truths, if stripped of their allegorical dress,
([Greek: metapephrasmena ek taes tou Barbarou theologias]) would be
plain;--that is, that John in an allegory, as of one particular man, had
shadowed out the creation of all things by the Logos, and the after
union of the Logos with human nature,--that is, with all men. That this
is his meaning, consult Plotinus.
Ib. 9. p. 107.
"Seest thou not," adds Philo, in the same spirit of subtilizing being
into power, and dividing the Logos into two.
Who that had even rested but in the porch of the Alexandrian philosophy,
would not rather say, 'of substantiating powers and attributes into
being?' What is the whole system from Philo to Plotinus, and thence to
Proclus inclusively, but one fanciful process of hypostasizing logical
conceptions and generic terms? In Proclus it is Logolatry run mad.
Chap. III. 1. p. 131-2.
Such would be the evidence for that divinity, to accompany the Book of
Wisdom, if we considered it to be as old as Solomon, or only as the
Son of Sirach. But I consider it to be much later than either, and
actually a work of Philo's. * * The language is very similar to
Philo's; flowing, lively and happy.
How is it possible to have read the short Hebraistic sentences of the
Book of Wisdom, and the long involved periods that characterize the
style of all Philo's known writings, and yet attribute both to one
writer? But indeed I know no instance of assertions made so audaciously,
or of passages misrepresented and even mistranslated so grossly, as in
this work of Whitaker. His system is absolute naked Tritheism.
The righteous man is shadowed out by the author with a plain reference
to our Saviour himself. "'Let us lie in wait for the righteous'," &c.
How then could Philo have remained a Jew?
Ib. 2. p. 195.
In all effects that are voluntary, the cause must be prior to the
effect, as the father is to the son in human generation. But in all
that are necessary, the effect must be coeval with the cause; as the
stream is with the fountain, and light with the sun. Had the sun been
eternal in its duration, light would have been co-eternal with it.
A just remark; but it cuts two ways. For these necessary effects are not
really but only logically different or distinct from the cause:--the
rays of the sun are only the sun diffused, and the whole rests on the
sensitive form of material space. Take away the notion of material
space, and the whole distinction perishes.
Chap. IV. 1. p. 266.
Justin accordingly sets himself to shew, that in the beginning, before
all creatures, God generated a certain rational power out of himself.
Is it not monstrous that the Jews having, according to Whitaker, fully
believed a Trinity, one and all, but half a century or less before
Trypho, Justin should never refer to this general faith, never reproach
Trypho with the present opposition to it as a heresy from their own
forefathers, even those who rejected Christ, or rather Jesus as
Christ?--But no!--not a single objection ever strikes Mr. Whitaker, or
appears worthy of an answer. The stupidest become authentic--the most
fantastic abstractions of the Alexandrine dreamers substantial
realities! I confess this book has satisfied me how little erudition
will gain a man now-a-days the reputation of vast learning, if it be
only accompanied with dash and insolence. It seems to me impossible,
that Whitaker can have written well on the subject of Mary, Queen of
Scots, his powers of judgment being apparently so abject. For instance,
he says that the grossest moral improbability is swept away by positive
evidence:--as if positive evidence (that is, the belief I am to yield to
A. or B.) were not itself grounded on moral probabilities. Upon my word
Whitaker would have been a choice judge for Charles II. and Titus Oates.
Ib. p. 267.
Justin therefore proceeds to demonstrate it, (the pre-existence of
Christ,) asserting Joshua to have given only a temporary inheritance
to the Jews, &c.
A precious beginning of a precious demonstration! It is well for me that
my faith in the Trinity is already well grounded by the Scriptures, by
Bishop Bull, and the best parts of Plotinus, or this man would certainly
have made me either a Socinian or a Deist.
Ib. 2. p. 270.
The general mode of commencing and concluding the Epistles of St.
Paul, is a prayer of supplication for the parties, to whom they were
addressed; in which he says, 'Grace to you and peace from God our
Father, and'--from whom besides?--'the Lord Jesus Christ'; in which
our Saviour is at times invoked alone, as 'the Grace of our Lord Jesus
Christ be with you all'; and is even 'invoked' the first at times as,
'the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the
communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all'; shews us plainly, &c.
Invoked! Surely a pious wish is not an invocation. "May good angels
attend you!" is no invocation or worship of angels. The essence of
religions adoration consists in the attributing, by an act of prayer or
praise, a necessary presence to an object--which not being
distinguishable, if the object be sensuously present, we may safely
define adoration as an acknowledgement of the actual and necessary
presence of an intelligent being not present to our senses. "May lucky
stars shoot influence on you!" would be a very foolish superstition,
--but to say in earnest! "O ye stars, I pray to you, shoot influences on
me," would be idolatry. Christ was visually present to Stephen; his
invocation therefore was not perforce an act of religious adoration, an
acknowledgment of Christ's deity.
[Footnote 1: The Origin of Arianism Disclosed. By John Whitaker, B.D.
* * * * *
NOTES ON OXLEE ON THE TRINITY AND INCARNATION.  1827
Strange--yet from the date of the book of the Celestial Hierarchies of
the pretended Dionysius the Areopagite to that of its translation by
Joannes Scotus Erigena, the contemporary of Alfred, and from Scotus to
the Rev. John Oxlee in 1815, not unfrequent--delusion of mistaking
Pantheism, disguised in a fancy dress of pious phrases, for a more
spiritual and philosophic form of Christian Faith! Nay, stranger
still:--to imagine with Scotus and Mr. Oxlee that in a scheme which more
directly than even the grosser species of Atheism, precludes all moral
responsibility and subverts all essential difference of right and wrong,
they have found the means of proving and explaining, "the Christian
doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation," that is, the great and only
sufficient antidotes of the right faith against this insidious poison.
For Pantheism--trick it up as you will--is but a painted Atheism. A mask
of perverted Scriptures may hide its ugly face, but cannot change a
Introduction, p. 4.
In the infancy of the Christian Church, and immediately after the
general dispersion which necessarily followed the sacking of Jerusalem
and Bither, the Greek and Latin Fathers had the fairest opportunity of
disputing with the Jews, and of evincing the truth of the Gospel
dispensation; but unfortunately for the success of so noble a design,
they were totally ignorant of the Hebrew Scriptures, and so wanted in
every argument that stamp of authority, which was equally necessary to
sanction the principles of Christianity, and to command the respect of
their Jewish antagonists. For the confirmation of this remark I may
appeal to the Fathers themselves, but especially to Barnabas, Justin,
and Irenaeus, who in their several attempts at Hebrew learning betray
such portentous signs of ignorance and stupidity, that we are covered
with shame at the sight of their criticisms.
Mr. Oxlee would be delighted in reading Jacob Rhenferd's Disquisition on
the Ebionites and other supposed heretics among the Jewish Christians.
And I cannot help thinking that Rhenferd, who has so ably anticipated
Mr. Oxlee on this point, and in Jortin's best manner displayed the gross
ignorance of the Gentile Fathers in all matters relating to Hebrew
learning, and the ludicrous yet mischievous results thereof, has formed
a juster though very much lower opinion of these Fathers, with a few
exceptions, than Mr. Oxlee. I confess that till the light of the
twofoldness of the Christian Church dawned on my mind, the study of the
history and literature of the Church during the first three or four
centuries infected me with a spirit of doubt and disgust which required
a frequent recurrence to the writings of John and Paul to preserve me
whole in the Faith.
Prop. I. ch. i. p. 16.
The truth of the doctrine is vehemently insisted on, in a variety of
places, by the great R. Moses ben Maimon; who founds upon it the unity
of the Godhead, and ranks it among the fundamental articles of the
Jewish religion. Thus in his celebrated Letter to the Jews of
Marseilles he observes, &c.
But what is obtained by quotations from Maimonides more than from
Alexander Hales, or any other Schoolman of the same age? The metaphysics
of the learned Jew are derived from the same source, namely, Aristotle;
and his object was the same, as that of the Christian Schoolmen, namely,
to systematize the religion he professed on the form and in the
principles of the Aristotelian philosophy.
By the by, it is a serious defect in Mr. Oxlee's work, that he does not
give the age of the writers whom he cites. He cannot have expected all
his readers to be as learned as himself.
Ib. ch. iii. p. 26.
Mr. Oxlee seems too much inclined to identify the Rabbinical
interpretations of Scripture texts with their true sense; when in
reality the Rabbis themselves not seldom used those interpretations as a
convenient and popular mode of conveying their own philosophic opinions.
Neither have I been able to admire the logic so general among the
divines of both Churches, according to which if one, two, or perhaps
three sentences in any one of the Canonical books appear to declare a
given doctrine, all assertions of a different character must have been
meant to be taken metaphorically.
Ib. p. 26-7.
The Prophet Isaiah, too, clearly inculcates the spirituality of the
Godhead in the following declaration: 'But Egypt is man, and not God:
and their horses flesh, and not spirit'. (c. xxxi. 3.) * * *. In the
former member the Prophet declares that Egypt was man, and not God;
and then in terms of strict opposition enforces the sentiment by
adding, that their cavalry was flesh, and not spirit; which is just as
if he had said: 'But Egypt, which has horses in war, is only a man,
that is, flesh, and not God, who is spirit'.
Assuredly this is a false interpretation, and utterly unpoetical. It is
even doubtful whether [Hebrew: unable to transliterate. txt Ed.]
('ruach') in this place means 'spirit' in contradistinction to 'matter'
at all, and not rather air or wind. At all events, the poetic decorum,
the proportion, and the antithetic parallelism, demand a somewhat as
much below God, as the horse is below man. The opposition of 'flesh' and
'spirit' in the Gospel of St. John, who thought in Hebrew, though he
wrote in Greek, favours our common version,--'flesh and not spirit':
but the place in which this passage stands, namely, in one of the first
forty chapters of Isaiah, and therefore written long before the
Captivity, together with the majestic simplicity characteristic of
Isaiah's name gives perhaps a greater probability to the other: 'Egypt
is man, and not God; and her horses flesh, and not wind'. If Mr. Oxlee
renders the fourth verse of Psalm civ.--'He maketh spirits his
messengers', (for our version--'He maketh his angels spirits'--is
without a violent inversion senseless), this is a case in point for the
use of the word, 'spirits', in the sense of incorporeal beings. (Mr.
Oxlee will hardly, I apprehend, attribute the opinion of some later
Rabbis, that God alone and exclusively is a Spirit, to the Sacred
Writers, easy as it would be to quote a score of texts in proof of the
contrary.) I, however, cannot doubt that the true rendering of the
above-mentioned verse in the Psalms is;--'He maketh the winds his angels
or messengers, and the lightnings his ministrant servants'.
As to Mr. Oxlee's 'abstract intelligences,' I cannot but think
'abstract' for 'pure,' and even pure intelligences for incorporeal, a
lax use of terms. With regard to the point in question, the truth seems
to be this. The ancient Hebrews certainly distinguished the principle or
ground of life, understanding, and will from ponderable, visible,
matter. The former they considered and called 'spirit', and believed it
to be an emission from the Almighty Father of Spirits: the latter they
called 'body'; and in this sense they doubtless believed in the
existence of incorporeal beings. But that they had any notion of
immaterial beings in the sense of Des Cartes, is contrary to all we know
of them, and of every other people in the same degree of cultivation.
Air, fire, light, express the degrees of ascending refinement. In the
infancy of thought the life, soul, mind, are supposed to be air--'anima,
animus', that is, [Greek: anemos], spiritus, [Greek: pneuma]. In the
childhood, they are fire, 'mens ignea, ignicula', and God himself
[Greek: pur noeron, pur aeizoon]. Lastly, in the youth of thought, they
are refined into light; and that light is capable of subsisting in a
latent state, the experience of the stricken flint, of lightning from
the clouds, and the like, served to prove, or at least, it supplied a
popular answer to the objection;--"If the soul be light, why is it not
visible?" That the purest light is invisible to our gross sense, and
that visible light is a compound of light and shadow, were answers of a
later and more refined period. Observe, however, that the Hebrew
Legislator precluded all unfit applications of the materializing fancy
by forbidding the people to 'imagine' at all concerning God. For the ear
alone, to the exclusion of all other bodily sense, was he to be
designated, that is, by the Name. All else was for the mind--by power,
truth, wisdom, holiness, mercy.
Prop. II. ch. ii. p. 36.
I fear I must surrender my hope that Mr. Oxlee was an exception to the
rule, that the study of Rabbinical literature either finds a man
'whimmy', or makes him so. If neither the demands of poetic taste, nor
the peculiar character of oracles, were of avail, yet morality and piety
might seem enough to convince any one that this vision of Micaiah, (2
'Chron'. c. xviii. 18, &c.) was the poetic form, the veil, of the
Prophet's meaning. And a most sublime meaning it was. Mr. Oxlee should
recollect that the forms and personages of visions are all and always
Ib. pp. 39-40.
It will not avail us much, however, to have established their
incorporeity or spirituality, if what R. Moses affirms be true * * *.
This impious paradox * *. Swayed, however, by the authority of so
great a man, even R. David Kimchi has dilapsed into the same error,
To what purpose then are the crude metaphysics of these later Rabbis
brought forward, differing as they do in no other respect from the
theological 'dicta' of the Schoolmen, but that they are written in a
sort of Hebrew. I am far from denying that an interpreter of the
Scriptures may derive important aids from the Jewish commentators: Aben
Ezra, (about 1150) especially, was a truly great man. But of this I am
certain, that he only will be benefited who can look down upon their
works, whilst studying them;--that is, he must thoroughly understand
their weaknesses, superstitions, and rabid appetite for the marvellous
and the monstrous; and then read them as an enlightened chemist of the
present day would read the writings of the old alchemists, or as a
Linnaeus might peruse the works of Pliny and Aldrovandus. If he can do
this, well;--if not, he will line his skull with cobwebs.
Ib. pp. 40, 41.
But how, I would ask, is this position to be defended? Surely not by
contradicting almost every part of the inspired volumes, in which such
frequent mention occurs of different and distinct angels appearing to
the Patriarchs and Prophets, sometimes in groups, and sometimes in
limited numbers * *. It is, indeed, so wholly repugnant to the general
tenor of the Sacred Writings, and so abhorrent from the piety of both
Jew and Christian, that the learned author himself, either forgetting
what he had before advanced, or else postponing his philosophy to his
religion, has absolutely maintained the contrary in his explication of
the Cherubim, &c.
I am so far from agreeing with Mr. Oxlee on these points, that I not
only doubt whether before the Captivity any fair proof of the existence
of Angels, in the present sense, can be produced from the inspired
Scriptures,--but think also that a strong argument for the divinity of
Christ, and for his presence to the Patriarchs and under the Law, rests
on the contrary, namely, that the Seraphim were images no less
symbolical than the Cherubim. Surely it is not presuming too much of a
Clergyman of the Church of England to expect that he would measure the
importance of a theological tenet by its bearings on our moral and
spiritual duties, by its practical tendencies. What is it to us whether
Angels are the spirits of just men made perfect, or a distinct class of
moral and rational creatures? Augustine has well and wisely observed
that reason recognizes only three essential kinds;--God, man, beast. Try
as long as you will, you can never make an Angel anything but a man with
wings on his shoulders.
Ib. ch. III. p. 58.
But this deficiency in the Mosaic account of the creation is amply
supplied by early tradition, which inculcates not only that the angels
were created, but that they were created, either on the second day,
according to R. Jochanan, or on the fifth, according to R. Chanania.
Inspired Scripture amply supplied by the Talmudic and Rabbinical
traditions!--This from a Clergyman of the Church of England!
I am, I confess, greatly disappointed. I had expected, I scarce know
why, to have had some light thrown on the existence of the Cabala in its
present form, from Ezekiel to Paul and John. But Mr. Oxlee takes it as
he finds it, and gravely ascribes this patch-work of corrupt Platonism
or Plotinism, with Chaldean, Persian, and Judaic fables and fancies, to
the Jewish Doctors, as an original, profound, and pious philosophy in
its fountain-head! The indispensable requisite not only to a profitable
but even to a safe study of the Cabala is a familiar knowledge of the
docimastic philosophy, that is, a philosophy, which has for its object
the trial and testing of the weights and measures themselves, the first
principles, definitions, postulates, axioms of logic and metaphysics.
But this is in no other way possible but by our enumeration of the
mental faculties, and an investigation of the constitution, function,
limits, and applicability 'ad quas res', of each. The application to
this subject of the rules and forms of the understanding, or discursive
logic, or even of the intuitions of the reason itself, if reason be
assumed as the first and highest, has Pantheism for its necessary
result. But this the Cabalists did: and consequently the Cabalistic
theosophy is Pantheistic, and Pantheism, in whatever drapery of pious
phrases disguised, is (where it forms the whole of a system) Atheism,
and precludes moral responsibility, and the essential difference of
right and wrong. One of the two contra-distinctions of the Hebrew
Revelation is the doctrine of positive creation. This, if not the only,
is the easiest and surest criterion between the idea of God and the
notion of a 'mens agitans molem'. But this the Cabalists evaded by their
double meaning of the term, 'nothing', namely as nought = 0, and as no
'thing'; and by their use of the term, as designating God. Thus in words
and to the ear they taught that the world was made out of nothing; but
in fact they meant and inculcated, that the world was God himself
expanded. It is not, therefore, half a dozen passages respecting the
first three 'proprietates' in the Sephiroth, that will lead a wise
man to expect the true doctrine of the Trinity in the Cabalistic scheme:
for he knows that the scholastic value, the theological necessity, of
this doctrine consists in its exhibiting an idea of God, which rescues
our faith from both extremes, Cabalo-Pantheism, and Anthropomorphism. It
is, I say, to prevent the necessity of the Cabalistic inferences that
the full and distinct developement of the doctrine of the Trinity
becomes necessary in every scheme of dogmatic theology. If the first
three 'proprietates' are God, so are the next seven, and so are all ten.
God according to the Cabalists is all in each and one in all. I do not
say that there is not a great deal of truth in this; but I say that it
is not, as the Cabalists represent it, the whole truth. Spinoza himself
describes his own philosophy as in substance the same with that of the
ancient Hebrew Doctors, the Cabalists--only unswathed from the Biblical
Ib. p. 61.
Similar to this is the declaration of R. Moses ben Maimon. "For that
influence, which flows from the Deity to the actual production of
abstract intelligences flows also from the intelligences to their
production from each other in succession," &c.
How much trouble would Mr. Oxlee have saved himself, had he in sober
earnest asked his own mind, what he meant by emanation; and whether he
could attach any intelligible meaning to the term at all as applied to
Ib. p. 65.
Thus having, by variety of proofs, demonstrated the fecundity of the
Godhead, in that all spiritualities, of whatever gradation, have
originated essentially and substantially from it, like streams from
their fountain; I avail myself of this as another sound argument, that
in the sameness of the divine essence subsists a plurality of Persons.
A plurality with a vengeance! Why, this is the very scoff of a late
Unitarian writer,--only that he inverts the order. Mr. Oxlee proves ten
trillions of trillions in the Deity, in order to deduce 'a fortiori' the
rationality of three: the Unitarian from the Three pretends to deduce
the equal rationality of as many thousands.
Ib. p. 66.
So, if without detriment to piety great things may be compared with
small, I would contend, that every intelligency, descending by way of
emanation or impartition from the Godhead, must needs be a personality
of that Godhead, from which it has descended, only so vastly unequal
to it in personal perfection, that it can form no part of its proper
Is not this to all intents and purposes ascribing partibility to God?
Indeed it is the necessary consequence of the emanation
scheme?--Unequal!--Aye, various 'wicked' personalities of the
Godhead?--How does this rhyme?--Even as a metaphor, emanation is an
ill-chosen term; for it applies only to fluids. 'Ramenta', unravellings,
threads, would be more germane.
[Footnote 1: The Christian Doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation
considered and maintained on the principles of Judaism. By the Rev. John
Oxlee. London, 1815.]
[Footnote 2: That is, Intelligence or the Crown, Knowledge, Wisdom. Ed.]
* * * * *
NOTES ON A BARRISTER'S HINTS ON EVANGELICAL PREACHING. 1810. 
For only that man understands in deed
Who well remembers what he well can do;
The faith lives only where the faith doth breed
Obedience to the works it binds us to.
And as the Life of Wisdom hath exprest--
'If this ye know, then do it and be blest'.
There is one misconception running through the whole of this Pamphlet,
the rock on which, and the quarry out of which, the whole reasoning, is
built;--an error therefore which will not indeed destroy its efficacy as
a [Greek: misaetron] or anti-philtre to inflame the scorn of the enemies
of Methodism, but which must utterly incapacitate it for the better
purpose of convincing the consciences or allaying the fanaticism of the
Methodists themselves; this is the uniform and gross mis-statement of
the one great point in dispute, by which the Methodists are represented
as holding the compatibility of an impure life with a saving faith:
whereas they only assert that the works of righteousness are the
consequence, not the price, of Redemption, a gift included in the great
gift of salvation;--and therefore not of merit but of imputation through
the free love of the Saviour.
Part I. p. 49.
It is enough, it seems, that all the disorderly classes of mankind,
prompted as they are by their worst passions to trample on the public
welfare, should 'know' that they are, what every one else is convinced
they are, the pests of society, and the evil is remedied. They are not
to be exhorted to honesty, sobriety, or the observance of any laws,
human or divine--they must not even be entreated to do their best.
"Just as 'absurd' would it be," we are told, "in a physician to send
away his patient, when labouring under some desperate disease, with a
recommendation to do his utmost towards his own cure, and then to come
to him to finish it, as it is in the minister of the 'Gospel' to
propose to the sinner 'to do his best', by way of healing the disease
of the soul--and then to come to the Lord Jesus to perfect his
recovery. The 'only' previous qualification is to 'know' our misery,
and the remedy is prepared." See Dr. Hawker's Works, vol. vi. p. 117.
For "know," let the Barrister substitute "feel;" that is, we know it as
we know our life; and then ask himself whether the production of such a
state of mind in a sinner would or would not be of greater promise as to
his reformation than the repetition of the Ten Commandments with
paraphrases on the same.--But why not both? The Barrister is at least as
wrong in the undervaluing of the one as the pseudo-Evangelists in the
exclusion of the other.
Ib. p. 51.
Whatever these new Evangelists may teach to the contrary, the present
state of public morals and of public happiness would assume a very
different appearance if the thieves, swindlers, and highway robbers,
would 'do their best' towards maintaining themselves by honest labour,
instead of perpetually planning new systems of fraud, and new schemes
That is, if these thieves had a different will--not a mere wish, however
anxious:--for this wish "the libertine" doubtless has, as described in
p. 50,--but an effective will. Well, and who doubts this? The point in
dispute is, as to the means of producing this reformation in the will;
which, whatever the Barrister may think, Christ at least thought so
difficult as to speak of it, not once or twice, but uniformly, as little
less than miraculous, as tantamount to a re-creation. This Barrister may
be likened to an ignorant but well-meaning Galenist, who writing against
some infamous quack, who lived by puffing and vending pills of mercurial
sublimate for all cases of a certain description, should have no
stronger argument than to extol 'sarsaparilla', and 'lignum vitae', or
'senna' in contempt of all mercurial preparations.
Ib. p. 56.
Not for the revenues of an Archbishop would he exhort them to a duty
'unknown in Scripture', of adding their five talents to the five they
have received, &c.
All this is mere calumny and wilful misstatement of the tenets of
Wesley, who never doubted that we are bound to improve our 'talents',
or, on the other hand, that we are equally bound, having done so, to be
equally thankful to the Giver of all things for the power and the will
by which we improved the talents, as for the original capital which is
the object of the improvement. The question is not whether Christ will
say, 'Well done thou good and faithful servant', &c.;--but whether the
servant is to say it of himself. Now Christ has delivered as positive a
precept against our doing this as the promise can be that he will impute
it to us, if we do not impute it to our own merits.
Ib. p. 60.
The complaints of the profligacy of servants of every class, and of
the depravity of the times are in every body's hearing:--and these
Evangelical tutors--the dear Mr. Lovegoods of the day--deserve the
best attention of the public for thus instructing the ignorant
multitude, who are always ready enough to neglect their moral duties,
to despise and insult those by whom they are taught.
All this is no better than infamous slander, unless the Barrister can
prove that these depraved servants and thieves are Methodists, or have
been wicked in proportion as they were proselyted to Methodism. O folly!
This is indeed to secure the triumph of these enthusiasts.
It must afford him (Rowland Hill) great consolation, amidst the
increasing immorality * * * that when their village Curate exhorts
them, if they have 'faith' in the doctrine of a world to come, to add
to it those 'good works' in which the sum and substance of religion
consist, he has led them to ridicule him, as 'chopping a
That this is either false or nugatory, see proved in The Friend.
Ib. p. 68.
Tom Payne himself never laboured harder to root all virtue out of
society.--Mandeville nor Voltaire never even laboured so much.
They were content with declaring their disbelief of a future state.
In what part of their works? Can any wise man read Mandeville's Fable of
the Bees, and not see that it is a keen satire on the inconsistency of
Christians, and so intended.
Ib. p. 71.