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tural as to suppose that Paul thought those persons, who he says made their belly their god, really believed that part of their bodies to be possessed of a divine nature and essence. You might, with as much reason, affirin, that Rousseau, who doubted at least, if he did not deny, the existence of all revelation whatever, believed Jesus to be really Jehovah, because he has said in that fine drawn character which he has given of our Saviour, in the fourth book of his Emilius: “ Oui, si la vie et la mort de “Socrate sont d'un sage, la vie et la mort de Jésus
sont d'un Dieu;" as to affirm, that the writers of the New Testament believed it, because they, speaking of the same person, have used the same word in the same way. To give the title of God to human beings, is not without example, either in sacred writers, or profane. In the Old Testament, not only Moses, but ordinary magistrates, are so called. In the New (Acts xii. 22.), we find it given to Herod. In Philo we find the Emperor Augustus praised for being displeased with the title, τα δε μη ταις υπερογκους τιμαις δεθηναι και φυσηθηναι σε πισις εναργεσαιη, δεσπότην μήτε θεον εαυθον εθελησαι προσειπειν, αλλα καν ει asyolo tis, duo XepaivElv. Leg. ad Caium. vol. ii. p. 568, lin. 20, edit. Mangey. And in the next page,
line 43, he says of Caligula : 'ó de ræños Exulov EZETUQAWIE, λεγων μονον, αλλα και οιoμενος ειναι θεος. And Gregory Nazianzen calls himself and his party gods, because they worshipped the trinity: θεοι δια τριαδος προσκυνquevns, vol. i. p. 440, B. edit. 1609.
Thus it appears that we could conclude nothing as to the nature and essence of Jesus from his being
called God, even if the sacred writers had frequently applied the term to him : because there is no doubt that they spoke and wrote as the rest of mankind did. And had they meaned to speak otherwise, more especially if they had intended to use such a term in so very extraordinary a way, such was the open simplicity and plainness of their characters, that they would have explained themselves in the amplest and fullest manner. But the title of God is not frequently, but on the contrary very rarely, given to Jesus in scripture. I think, as I said in a former letter, in not more than one indisputable passage throughout the New Testament. Both jews and christians were averse to bestowing it on any living being, because, to their credit, they abhorred such flattery: but neither jew nor christian, sacred or prophane, in those early times, ever conceived that any person would be so mad as to suppose that any thing more was meaned by the title than a mere metaphor.*
Those who treat of the evidences of christianity, consider, and justly consider, the incidental mention
* “ He who would be an honest reader of books, who hath no “ mind to turn every thing into burlesque, ought carefully to “ distinguish between proper and allusive, or metaphorical ex“pressions, to consider the use of words and phrases, and the “great variety of dialects, and the peculiar modes of speaking “ in every language, and in every age, and to urge metaphors
further than their first intention ; without which we may « deal by all authors, as these men deal by the scripture, make " them speak nonsense, or (as they use to call them), venerable “ mysteries, and overthrow and contradict their own design." SHERLOCK's Knowledge of Christ, p. 82.
of the books in which the religion is contained, as a clear and decisive proof that those books must have been extremely well known, at the time they were thus mentioned, and in all probability very current among christians long before. Thus, for instance, when Papias, who lived in the days of the apostle John, tells us, not formally and directly that Matthew wrote one gospel and Mark another; but, assuming this as a thing perfectly well known, tells us in what language the former wrote, and from what source the latter drew his account; it is inferred, that these gospels must have publicly borne the names of those evangelists at that time, and probably long before. (See Paley's Evidences of Christianity, part. i. chap. 9. sect. 1. No. 6.)
Now this argument is equally applicable to the subject before us. For if the divinity of Jesus be at all mentioned in those passages from which you
and your orthodox brethren deduce it, most assuredly it is not formally and directly laid down, but only mentioned incidentally. The doctrine is certainly not the main object of the writer, not that which he is principally labouring to prove; but a thing to which he only makes a casual allusion in passing. If therefore the passages do refer to the doctrine, it is clear, from the way in which they mention it, that it must have been a doctrine commonly received, and extremely well known and familiar among christians at the time when the New Testament was written, and probably long before. But this is what no polemic that I have met with
(one (one alone excepted*) has ever been so sturdy as to pretend. It is what no one, who reflects a moment, ever can, with a shadow of reason, pretend ; if he is
* Mr. Hawkins, the Bampton Lecturer for 1787, seems to maintain this, when, speaking of the divinity of Jesus, he says (p. 59), “ If this doctrine, was the doctrine of the church, pre“ viously to the publication of the holy writings, they are suffi« ciently full and explicit for the satisfaction, or confirmation of “ christians of all ages; if otherwise, here" [i. e. in the scriptures] “ is more than enough to perplex and misguide them, * and to lead them into errors of the first magnitude."
Can then this reverend gentleman believe, that such a revolution in the sentiments of the first christians, as this, could take place, and leave no trace behind it? A revolution more astonishing than any that the world ever witnessed ! Can he believe that the disciples of Jesus should converse with him as a mere man, should see him live and die like a man, and afterwards be thus completely setiled in the persuasion of his being the al. mighty God, without leaving behind them so much as a hint of the transition of their minds from one opinion to the other, without taking the least notice of the means by which a change só amazing was produced ? To find him to be God, whom they had supposed to be nothing more than a man, must have excited the most astonishing emotions of wonder and surprize, must have filled their minds with such solemn aweful thoughts, as could not fail to make the deepest and most lasting imprese sions. And can it be supposed, that not a syllable should be recorded of such a total alteration of opinion, nor of the cause which produced it, nor of the sensations which it occasioned? Or can it be supposed, that if these things had ever been recorded, all records of them should be so entirely lost, as not to leave behind them so much as a memorial of their having ever existed ? And what is more extraordinary, that this should happen when we have so many writings of the first christians still extant! He that can believe that such things can be so wholly lost, and die away, may believe that all the criginal story of
acquainted with the scriptures, and has but a moderate knowledge of ecclesiastical history: in the first of which there are no traces of the fact, while in the
christianity may have died away ; and that what we now read in the sacred writings is another story which has stepped into its place. And if such belief were valid, there would be an end of the evidences of our religion. (See upon this, Paley's Evidences, part i. ch. vii. and particularly pages 114, 115, 132 and 133, vol. i. 8vo. edit.)
Some observations of a writer in the “ Theological Reposi.
tory,” arguing against the Arian hypothesis, are very applicable to this hypothesis of Mr. Hawkins's also. “ Whenever," says he, “ the revelation of a thing so highly interesting, and un“ expected, as this must have been, had been made to the dis
ciples of our Lord, their wonder and surprize must have been “ such, as we should have found some traces or intimations of “ in their writings. Nor can it be supposed, that a thing of so “ wonderful a nature as this, could have been announced to “ the body of christians, who certainly had not, at first, the « most remote idea of such a thing, without exciting an asto“ nishment that could not have been concealed, and such specu. “lations and debates as we must have heard of. And yet the
apostles, and the whole christian world, are supposed to have
passed, from a state of absolute ignorance concerning the “ nature of their lord and master (regarding him in the fami. “ liar light of a friend and brother), to the full conviction of “ his being" the God of heaven and earth, “ without leaving
any intimations by which it is possible for us to learn, in what manner so wonderful a communication was made to them,
of the effects that it had on their own minds, or those of “ others." Vol. iii. p. 351.
No; the doctrine of our Saviour's divinity never could have been the doctrine of the church previously to the publication of the holy writings, unless the whole face and appearance of things were to be completely changed. And the only proper inference that can be drawn from Mr. Hawkins's making the supposition, is, that he felt the scripture-proofs, as they are