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Of these, Nos. 11 and 12 seem to understand the text as speaking of two persons. And Nos.
And Nos. 47 and 48 have accommodated Paul's words by a little trans
position' of the proper name Jesus Christ, in order to make the text speak of one person, which no writer would do, who held that the words, as they stand, must necessarily relate to one and the same person only. These, therefore, are against you.
The extracts, Nos. 3–5, seem to be interpolated, as some of the expressions are not compatible with Athanasius's tenets and doctrine. In No. 30 also, the words from τι εν ..... . . down to £Tb maulwv 980s, in which clause the text is contained, are evidently an interpolation, crept in from the marginal note of some commentator, as they interrupt and confuse Chrysostom's argument, which goes on very smoothly without them ; and without any need of the compiler's point of interrogation. These fore, like the rest, are quite neutral.
I will not go into an examination of any of them, as you must be sufficiently tired of them already, and as I have before pointed out enough of your correspondent's misapplication of his authorities, in his former letters. Indeed, if I had not, the labour would be a work of supererogation ; because, if all the rubbish which he has scraped up, from one of Jesus ; whereas he here ceases to speak of Jesus, and talks of the general application of the epithet great to the word God. “ The epithet great is given to God not,” &c.—and that this is the sense, appears not only from the words themselves, but from a comparison of this with another passage of the same writer, and also with one of Oecumenius, and another of Chrysostom. See Nos. 51, 50, and 31, of your correspondent's collection.
end of his book to the other, were ever so well applied, ever so decisive for your sense of the words, yet all his authorities together, if they were twice as many as they are, would be insufficient to prove that a single text even may fairly, legitimately, and naturally, much less that it must necessarily, bear the interpretation which those sons of passion and prejudice, of interest and ignorance, the fathers of christianity, by law established, have put upon it.
What your correspondent says (p. 19), of Ambrose,* and some others of the antient fathers, he
* You will, perhaps, think it rather hard, that Ambrose should be singled out to bear the blame of the whole crews when I tell you that he has done more for you and your cause, than all the rest of them put together. What you and your correspondent have laboured so hard to do by conjunction and article, he will shew you how to do by conjun&tion alone. By virtue of the mysteries contained in this important part of speech, he can prove God and Jesus to be the same being, from (heaven defend us! is it possible ? or is it altogether a delusion of the eyesight when we behold him proving it from ?) John xvii. 3. “ that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ,
whom thou hast sent;" where, says this prince of logicians, the evangelist, by the conjunction, patrem utique copulavit et filium, ut Christum verum deum a majestate patris nemo se cernat. Nunquam enim conjunctio separat. Ambrosius de Fide; lib. v. cap. i. vol. ii. p. 554. edit. Benedict. Were any one to object that this rule would prove “ the Lord and Samuel". (1 Sam. xii. 18.), to be the same persons, the Saint, to be sure, would stand in need of one of your limitations, to exclude proper
But then, on the other hand, he can, if he chooses, prove “ the Lord and the King” (1 Chron. xxix. 20.), to be one and the same, which is more than you can do, unless you have recourse to the bungling exception to your sixth rule (p. 14), because there is an ugly repetition of the definite article before the second noun.
may say of all the later fathers and schoolmen, that they are not very "scrupulous about the soundness • of their argument,' provided it be specious, suitable to their purpose, and the conclusion orthodox; and that they will boldly convert a passage to their advantage, even where they may not be ignorant that it will hardly admit of their interpretation. Even Jerome, who was one of the most learned of them, and whom the compiler considers as being himself an host' (p. 24), would not scruple to violate all grammar, and to write what he avowed to be barbarous and corrupt, in order to support the divinity of Jesus. * And there is little doubt,
I think, Sir, that you and Ambrose must liave a coalition, His must be the rule, and your's the limitation. He boasts that by his device he has slain the Sabellians, and thrust out the Jews;
and you seem to have no doubt of silencing the Socinians, and sending the Mahometans to the bottomless pit, by your's. If you coalesce, neither heretic nor infidel can stand before you. That you may know what a charming ally you will have, do but hear how clearly he explains the mystery of three persons in one nature, when he, or somebody for him, ju the treatise De dignitate conditionis humanæ (p. 612 of the Appendix to vol. ii. of Benedictine edit. of his works), tells you that the second and third persons are from the first, ex ipso sunt, quia non a se ; et in ipso quia non separata ; et ipsum ipsa quod ipse ; et ipsum ipse quod ipsa ; et non ipsum ipsa qui ipse ; et non ipsa ipse qua ipsa : which Bishop Bull pronounces to be brevis et arguta oratio ! (Defens. Fid. Nicænæ, p. 289. fol. 1703.)
* In his explanation of the 45th Psalm, addressed to the virgin Principia, he contends, that the first of the terms God in these words ; “ God, thy God, hath anointed thee,” verse 7th, is applied, by the writer, to Jesus in the vocative case, and therefore, says he, nos propter intelligentiam Dee posuimus, quod latina lingua non recipit: ne quis perverse putet deum dileti,
that such as would write barbarously, would reada and construe in the same way for the same purpose.
et amantissimi, et regis, bis patrem nominari. Hieronymi Oper. vol. ii. p. 687. edit. Benedict.
The language of Gregory Nazianzen, who is reputed an elegant writer, seems to me to savour more of the barbarism of the theologue than of classical purity, when he prays to the trinity to make the holy ghost a god immediately, if he be not one already, for otherwise he apprehends that his precious soul would be in danger ; since the holy ghost, if not a god, could not communicate that divine influence and saving grace, which he had been taught to expect, and trusted he was to receive at his baptism. Ω τριας, και συγγνωμη τη απονοια, περι ψυχης γας ο κινδυνος .. •.• ει μη θεος το πνευμα το αγιον, θεωτητω πρωθον, και έτω θεατω με τον quotillos. Orat. XXIV, page 429. C. vol. i. edit. 1609. And he uses the same verb in other places. The barbarisms of Seos doyos, Sear@pwnos, Deos ex led, &c. abound in all the later fathers. And are these, then, the men who would be backward to strain an ambiguous text of scripture, in order to make it bear testimony to their beloved systems?
I have quoted Gregory's words for the language. But I hope you will not overlook the sentiment and the argument, which are curiosities not easily to be matched. It is evident, however, from his mode of talking here, and also in his 37th oration, which is expressly upon the holy spirit, that the divinity of this third of the trinity, was at that time a novel doctrine. It is well observed by Taylor, that “ the holy ghost was so little o considered at the time of the council of Nice, that some .fa“thers of that assembly would have made no difficulty to give “ the superiority or precedence to the virgin Mary, in making *** her the third person of the trinity." (Ben Mordecai's Apology, vol. i. p. 191. 8vo. 1784.) He adds, as a further proof of this, that “the objection made to the orthodox was for a long a while, not that they worshipped three, but only two Gods,” (page 192.) And this accords with what we find in the same 37th Orat, of Gregory, page 600, about the ditheists and trie theists s or, as I think it sounds more melodiously in the latia derivation, the bideites and trideites.
But your correspondent, at the end of his greek authorities, the long procession of which is terminated by persons of no less consequence and respectability, than Euthymius Zigabenus the monk,
in his panoply against all heresies, and the renowned Balthasar Corderius, the Jesuit, tells us, that your interpretation of this important
text, the exegetic history and fortunes of which, he • has traced through a period of nearly a thousand
years, was the only one ever preached in all the • ancient churches,' (p. 89, 90. 97.)
But here he forgets his own quotations, from some of which, as for instance, from Chrysostom's words, in page 80, it evidently appears, that the opposite interpretation had its advocates. And, as if he had now persuaded himself that the ideal picture he formerly gave us, were a real representation of facts, he also forgets that we know nothing of what was preached, but by what we can gather from the works which time, as he says (p. 121), and he might have added, the rage of orthodoxy, has spared. He forgets how much more careful and solicitous his heroes were, to shew their zeal than their charity, by calling down fire, from heaven shall I say? nay, rather by calling it up
calling it up from hell, that they might vent their fury, first upon the books, and next upon the bodies, of such as ventured to preach an interpretation different from that which their wisdom (a wisdom of quite another cast than that which cometh from above), thought fit to recommend to aweful admiration, undisturbed by impertinent inquiry,