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When it was first seriously asserted by Whiston, that he had discovered proofs of Josephus being a Christian *, the discovery, though superlatively absurd, was at least amusing to his contemporaries, because it was new. The idle legend of Philo's conversion by St. Peter, would be now less disgusting in the repetition, as it is more antient; if it were not so soon repeated after Basmage had demonstrated f, that the proofs of this silly
notion were deduced from a work which was written when he
was a Jew. We might even listen to a dull protracted tale, purportiug to prove an absurdity, which even the credulity of Whiston could not swallow : that the Epaphroditus, whom Josephus has ennobled by so many titles, and to whom he has dedicated his principal works, was the humble emissary whom St. Paul dispatched on a mission to the Philippians. But when compelled to submit to have that old, doting, monkish dream, told over, once more and again, which exhibits the Essenes and 'l herapeutae of Philo in the character of reverend friars, after the absurdity has been so thoroughly exposed:, it is surely too much for the exhaused patience of our weary office to bear.
We need not expose ourselves to the chance of ridicule in entering into a serious refutation of the arguments used to prove
the christianity of these witnesses, on whose testimony the
orthodox faith is now overthrown. Had we leisure or room for such an undertaking, we would undertake to prove, that by a very little address in the management of the same arguments, the number of those witnesses in behalf of the Unitarian opinions might be extended at will. We would venture to demonstrate by the same, or similar arguments, that Celsus, or at least Porphyry, or those senseless Hebrew blasphemers, Kimchi and Lipman, were true advocates of the pure doctrines of Christianity, and enemies only to the errors of a corrupt and falsified creed. That undue advantage, however, may not be taken of our silence, we shall bestow on this fundamental position of our author just as much attention as it deserves. Leaving him therefore in unmolested enjoyment of those proofs, if he is pleased so to term them, by which he evinces that Philo, Josephus, and the Essenes were Christians, we shall submit to a
* Whist. Dissert. I. in Joseph. § lxxi. p. xxii. Conf. Dissert.
VI. p. c. The honour of this curious discovery is however re
ferred by this fanciful author to Galatin a converted Jew;
task, which we feel to be derogatory to our consequence, though it is accomplished by a single observation, and proceed to demonstrate that they were Hebrews, One consideration is, we believe, adequate to lay the question at rest, and to dissipate the stupid dream in which our author has so long and so securely reposed. And difficult as may be the task of distinguishing between different shades of Deism, which melt into each other in so soft a gradation, that their conterminous boundaries are not easily perceived; one distinc\tion, we imagine, still separates the faith of the Unitarian and the Jew, The motion of a military and temporal deliverer, will not, we trust, be easily reconciled, by those senseless perverters of the most obvious meanings, with the character of Him who was the Prince of Peace. Such, however, was the notion but too generally maintained by the Jews of their Messiah *; and such the common notion which Philo and Josephus have associated with that term +. The ludicrous mistake into which this notion led Josephus, is sufficiently notorious; in the very scene of our Lord's miracles, and some years after his ministry was closed, he hailed the Emperor Vespasian as the Christ to whom he looked for salvation f. The proofs of Philo's conversion, and of the conversion of the Essenes, whom he has eulogised, rest upon a foundation which involves consequences not less superlatively absurd. The description which he has given of the Therapeutae, those primitive Christians, with whom the Unitarians of the present century seem as affectionately disposed to fraternize, as the Papists were of the past, was demonstrably written some years before the Gospel was preached $. These facts speak for themselves. We merely mention incidentally, as a further specimen of the accuracy with which our author has commenced his vigorous attack upon the orthodox faith; that his notion of the identity of the Essenes and the Therapeutae, whom he takes leave to confound, without offering any apology for the liberty, has been censured as a gross error ||. And we are further so rude as to insinuate, by way of corollary, that his notion of the identity of the Epaphioditus, who was known to Josephus with that Epaphroditus, who was freedman to Nero, has been conceived to rest upon a chrono
o - # - - - logical blunder“, which supposes a man to be in existence in the
reign of Trajan, who was certainly put to death in the reign of
* Vid. Huds. in Joseph. contr. Apion. Tom. II, p. 1329. m. f. Whist. in Joseph. Jew. Antiq. Procem. p. 2. n. *. Josephus inscribes his “ Life” to Epaphroditus, vid. Joseph. Wit. § 76. Tom. II. p. 39. ed. Havere, specifying in the course of it, that K Agrippa II. was then dead; Justus of Tiberias having deferred the publication of his history until that occurrence took place, that the falsity of his statements might not be detected; Id. ibid. § 65. p. 33. Justus, however, fixes the death of K. Agrippa to A. D. 100. ap. Phot. Bibliothec. Cod. xxxiii, which perfectly accords with the statement of Josephus, that Justin's history was completed during the life of Vespasian and Titus, though the publication of it was deferred twenty years after the time when it was composed. Joseph. ibid. p. 33. Now as Vespasian died A. D. 80, before which time it is not probable that Justin completed his history of the Jewish war, which was not terminated until A. D. 73: if we allow for the 20 years during which it remained unpublished, it brings down the time when Josephus, in addressing Epaphroditus, speaks of that history as published, and of Agrippa as dead, to A. D. 100. Nothing however is more certain than that the Epaphroditus, who was freedman to Nero, was put to death by Domitian, A. D. 95. Wid. Dio. Hist. Lib. LXVII. cap. xiv. p. 1113. He cannot of course form any middle term to connect the Epaphroditus who was known to Josephus with the Epaphroditus who was known to St. Paul But, in truth, we have only to compare the description of Josephus, Vit. § 76, p. 39. Antiq. Jud. Prooem. § 2, Tom. I. p. 2. with that of the Apostle, Phil. ii. 25–30. in order to discover the ludicrous absurdity of conceiving them the same per
son; Josephus having courted the favour and protection of the
must have conceived him, had he found himself addressed in the
Our author having thus laid his foundation, proceeds on the main object of his work. His first part, which is divided into ten chapters, consequently opens with disclosing the source from whence the orthodox opinion has originated relative to the Di- | vinity of our Lord. In this pious undertaking, “ Mr. Jones (who) professes to be an ardent and patient enquirer, guided ; only by the evidence of facts, and not by the authority of the | learned,” has contrived to demonstrate this repugnance to owe. | any thing to the labours of the learned, by the equally liberal use and parsimonious acknowledgment which he makes of Dr. . . Lardner's laborious collections. The authorities which he thus o musters, he directs to that point, to which, as may be easily o conjectured, the reasoning of the Unitarian champion primarily tends.
“The Heathems, it is well known, believed in the existence and o agency of many gods. These, as they supposed, often appeared in the shape, or entered the bodies of men. When Jesus Christ ap- o peared, and exhibited, in the miracles which he performed, the proofs of his divine mission, the conclusion was natural, that he * was himself one of the gods, acting by virtue of his own power, and not with the authority of Jehovah. . A Jew, who disbelieved o the Pagan gods, would more rationally infer that he was the servant. o of God—endued with power to prove the truth of his delegation. But the spirit of Paganism dictated to its votaries a very different inference; and this dictate will appear the origin of the Divine .. nature, which has ever since been imputed to Jesus of Nazareth.”. P. 47. - - -
Thus far, however, we are brought round by this ingenious mode' of advancing, to the précise point from whence we set out. From this representation, which our author proceeds to confirm and exemplify, by the convenient assistance of Dr. Lardner, it appears, that the heathens were found polytheists at the beginning, and continued such to the last. But this is but a small part of the merit of this argument, which is a happy exemplification of that method of superabundant proof, which , , in establishing twice as much as is requisite, virtually proves' * . . ." - nothing
nothing at all. From this reasoning it as certainly follows, that Paul and Peter, and the other Apostles, were deified not less than our Lord; for they also were men preternaturally empowered, who by working miracles gave evidence that they were gods. If such was the effect of that miraculous power, with which the
primitive ministry was endued, our author must again disprove
twelve parts out of the thirteen, which compose his own demonstration, before he can be admitted to have advanced a single step in his proof: for it is peculiar to those who maintain the orthodox faith, to deny the divinity of the twelve apostles
with the same stedfastness that they assert the divinity of Christ.
But on proving thus much, we conceive he will leave his original proof as inefficient and hollow as we could desire. But we can probably help this sophist to a distinction which
will enable him to extricate the question out of that happy perplexity into which it blunders under his explanation. If there
fore we may be allowed to state the truth, in a manner little known to Unitarian logicians, without suppressing the better part of it, the question between the Orthodox and Unitarian
will assume a very different hue. Let the purblind sophist
therefore restore that part of the argument which has been thus dexterously or unwittingly suppressed; let him acknowledge prophecy as well as miracles to form the proof of our Lord's divinity; he will thus possibly unriddle the mystery in which the
estion between us is otherwise inextricably involved;—how
hrist was received as God, while his Apostles were merely acknowledged as men. In fact, on this species of divine demonstration, the founders aud apologists of Christianity have invariably insisted from the first. It is the proof to which the Apostle St. Peter appeals on the first preaching of the Gospel; it is the proof to which the Evangelist St. Matthew appeals in the opening chapters of the first part of the sacred canon which he composed *. The long list of Christian apologists, who have contended for the faith, from St. Barnabas to St. Atha
nasius, never deviate from this line of prooft, which was con
* Comp. Act. ii. 14. 16.25. 30. 33.34. Matt. i. 22. 23. ii. 6. 15. 17. iii. 3, &c. -
+ S. Barnab. Epist. cap. i. ii. Patr. Apost. Tom. I. pp. 56.60. S. Ignat. Ep. ad Smyrn, capp. v. vii. Patr. Apost. Tom. II. pp. 35.
Lib. V. per tot, p. 202, sqq. S. Athan, contr. Arian. Orat. I.