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that “ the faith of the primitive church-must have been Triniz tarian.”

Although those early writers have not delivered any testimony, on the main point of dispute," the faith of the Primitive Church,” which can be tortured into a proof in favour of the original assumption, " that it was Unitarian;" they have dropped some obscure and casual expressions on the state of the early Heretics, which the patrons of that notion find fully adequate to answer their purpose, and consequently press into their service. Out of the four witnesses cited in evidence, three, it is true, are rather stubborn and reserved, in stating any thing to the purpose; and as such, the Unitarian advocate is somewhat shy in appealing to their authority. This deficiency of evidence is, however, fully' made up by the testimony of one who was a host in strength; mustering confidence proportionable to the alliance, he now manfully avows," that in his assertion of the perfect Unitarianism of the great body of the Hebrew Christians he is supported-above all, by the learned and celebrated Origen.'

The examination of this witness we shall reserve for a proper occasion. We shall in the mean time claim the liberty of offer-, ing a word in reply to the testimony of the other witnesses sum. moned on the part of the Unitarians. And although the allegers of this evidence have exhibited rare specimens of their talent at quotation, we shall admit this testimony, according to their own interpretation ; having that experience of the weakness of our opponents, which renders us secure, that with whatever weapons they may be supplied, they must be harmless in the hands of the imbecile. The comfort which Dr. Priestley derives to himself, from the testimony of Tertullian and St. Athanasius *, he expresses in the following terms:

“ Nothing can well be more evident than that Tertullian represents the great body of unlearned christians in his times as Unitarians, and even holding the doctrine of the Trinity in great abhorrence. It is hardly possible in any form of words to describe this state of things more clearly than he does.” Priestl. Tracts, p. 217.6 like Tertullian, he [Athanasius] acknowledged the unitarian doctrine to be very prevalent among the lower class of people in his own time. He calls them the oi noanoi, the many, and describes them as persons of " low understanding. Things that are sublime and difficult,” he


are not to be apprehended except by faith ; and ignorant people must fall, if they cannot be persuaded to rest in faith, and avoid curious questions.” Id. Ibid. p. 55.

* Tert. adv. Prax. cap. iii: p. 502. a. S. Athan. de Incarn, Verb. contr. Paul, Samosat. Tom. I. p. 591. ed. 1686.


Let it be only imagined, however, that these Unitarians were Sabellians, and when the opinions of these heretics respecting the person of Christ are known, they will leave the testimony of those witnesses somewhat less than useless to those, who assert his proper humanity. We have already supplied the text, on which we expatiate, from Dr. Priestley; we subjoin the commentary from the same curious reasoner.

Tertullian lived in Africa where there scems to have been a greater inclination for the Unitarian doctrine than there was at Rome, as we may collect from the remarkable popularity of Sabellius in that country, and other circumstances. Athanasius alsowas of the same country, residing chiefly in Egypt, though he had seen a great part of the christian world and was well acquainted with it.” Id. Ibid. p. 116.

The state of the question is somewhat altered by this curious concession. The testimony of Tertullian and St. Athanasius is thus so far from proving that “the great body of unlearned christians in their times were Unitarians;" that it specifically evinces, that the common herd of those, who were less accurately instructed in the christian mysteries, in certain districts, were Sabellians*.! The meaning thus assigned to their words challenges the support of higher vouchers than it finds in the incautious concession of Dr. Priestley; it is unquestionably established by the context of Tertullian and St. Athanasius, and the circumstances under which

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* That Tertullian and St. Athanasius allude, in the passages cited supr. p. 506. n. *. to the Sabellians, cannot admit of a doubt. (1) The testimony of both is delivered in tracts expressly written against the followers of Sabellius. (2) They both speak in the same terms, of the effect which the doctrine of the Trinity had upon those Unitarians. Tert. ibid. erpavescunt ad æconomiam. $. Athan. Contr. Greg. Sabel. Tom. III. p. 41. b. éxers åv Yooni geus [latépcia un poßo ty duádai (3) Tertullian in his context, clearly shews, that the Unitarians to whom he alludes, were Sa. belliāns. Ibid. cap. iii. p. 502. a.--" expavescunt ad Economiam; numerum et dispositionem Trinitatis divisionem præsumunt UNITATIS.-Monarchiam inquiunt tenemus." Economia; howo ever was the term which the Orthodox opposed to the Monarchia of the Sabellians, to contradistinguish their doctrine. Id. ibid. cap. ii. p. 501. b.

Nos vero & semper et nunc magis, ut instructiores per Paracletum deductorem scilicet omnis veritatis, unicum quidem Deum credimus ; sub hac tamen dispensatione, quam Economiam dicimus, &c. Hence Tertullian describes his opponents under the term, Monarchiani ; Ibid. cap. x. p. 505. a.neque Pater idem et Filius, ut sint ambo unus,

quod vanissimi isti Monarchiani volunt."


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they delivered their testimony. To appreciate the weight of this evidence, so triumphantly challenged by our opponents, we may appeal to the authurity of the same witnesses, on the opinions of the Sabellians. So far, however, were they from agreeing with the Unitarians in considering Christ a mere Mun; that, straining many a pirch above the highest Orthodoxy, they asserted that he was, not merely God, but God the Father*. We now refer it back to Mr. Thomas Belsham to shew us, how far the testimony of ten thousand such witnesses may go, in establishing what he bas undertaken to make good, on the part of his revered and learned friend; “ that in his assertion of the perfect Unitarianism of the great body of Hebrew Christians, he is supported by Tertullian and Athanasius," &c.

Of how little use soever the accounts are found which are ex. tant respecting the Sabellians, those respecting the Ebionites are more promising to the cause of Unitarianism ; as they rejected the doctrine of our Lord's divinity. As the former afford an opportunity for citing the testimony of Tertullian and St. Athanasius; the latter furnish an occasion of appealing to the testimony of Origen and St. Epiphanius : and thus, however defective the Unitarian theories are in learned authority, it cannot be denied, their margins are decorated with learned quotation. Wishing te reserve the best dish of our literary repast for the last, we shall still defer the dissection of the learned and celebrated Origen." The logical skill by which it is proved, by Epiphanius's aid +, that the Nazarenes were the same as the Ebionites, and both identical with the primitive Jewish believers, is thus oracularly laid down by the great advocate of the cause at issue.

“ Concerning the Nazarenes,"--Epiphanius“ says that they were Jews in all respects, except that they believed in Christ ; but

I do not know whether they hold the miraculous conception, or not.” This amounts to no more than a doubt, which he afterwards abandoned, by asserting that the Ebionites held the same opinion concerning Christ with the Nazarenes, which opinion he expressly states to be their belief, that Jesus was a mere man, and the son of Joseph.” Id. ibid. pp. 28, 29.

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p. 500.


Tert adv. Prax. cap.


Ipsum dicit Patrem desscendisse in virginem, ipsum ex ea natum, ipsum passum, denique

esse Jesum Christum. S. Athan. Orat. IV. contr. Arian. Τom. Ι. p. 623. d. Σαβελλία το επιτηδευμα, τον αυτον Υιόν και Πατέρα λέγοντα, και εκάτερον αναιρώντα, ότε μεν Υιός, τον

, ', Πατέρα, ότε δε Πατήρ, τον Υιόν. + S. Epiphan. Hær. xxix. p. 123. a. Hær. xxx. p. 125. a.


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Admitting this demonstration to be valid in its concatenation of proofs, a few links are unfortunately wanting to connect the chain from the times of St. Epiphanius to the age of the Apostles. Dr. Priestley has indeed sagely observed that large bodies do not readily change their religious opinious; but we require a little more than his word for the assumption, that those heretics were any thing but few and contemptible. And if any respect be due to the testimony of St. Epiphanius, on the assumption of whose integrity as a witness we at present reason, those heretics not only changed their opinions, but infected each other with their impious errours *. Allowing any weighit to his testimony, it seems to be consequently of small importance to the Unitarian to prove, that they agreed in any opinion; until it be shewn that they were identical with the primitive Hebrew believers, and retained their common notions pure and uncorrupted. But for this purpose the Unitarian reasoner must seek another witness, besides the one whom he cites in evidence. So far is St. Epiphanius from representing those Ebionites and Nazarenes, who agreed in rejecting the divinity of our Lord, as identical, either in their opinions or origin, with the primitive Hebrew believers ; that he dates the rise of both the former from the siege of Jerusalem under Titus t, and while he classes and stigmatises them as heretics, in the common votion which they embraced of the person of Christ, he distinctly represents the original Jewish Church as orthodox in its opinions. On hearing the evidence of this witness out, it affords, as must be confessed, a curious testimony in favour of " what (Dr. Priestley) undertook to prove" by the assistance of St. Epiphanius and other ancient writers ; «' that the faith of the primitive church was Unitarian."

But however sturdy the last witness is found, in making any disclosure, at all detrimental to the orthodox cause, or favourable to the cause of the Unitarians; the next witness speaks to the point, and delivers bis testimony, not less freely than fully. Such at least is the opinion of that great oracle of the sect, Mr. Belsham's learned predecessor.

“ Indeed Origen's own words,” says Dr. Priestley, express to admit of any doubt of this. Those," says he, of the Jews who believe that Jesus is the Christ, are called Ebionites." And these Ebionites Origen says were of two sorts, one of them believing the miraculous conception, and the other not; but all of them considering Christ as a mere man.Id. ibid. P. 29.

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* Epiphan. Hær. xxix. p. 123. b. 126. C. + Id. ibid. p. 174. b. 125. b.

This testimony, of which it may be observed, that it is as short and sweet as it is explicit and decisive, we shall however take the liberty of stating, in both passages, with the context; as revealing a little more of the history of those favourite Ebionites than their followers feel a pride in avowing.

" Those of the Jews who believe on Jesus have not deserted their paternal law ; for they live according to it, thence deriving their appellation from the beggarliness of the law. For a beggar among the Jews, is called Ebion ; and those of the Jews who receive Jesus as the Christ are called Ebionites *."! 6 Let some be set down who receive Jesus, and on that account vaunt that they are Christians ; notwithstanding that, according to the law of the Jews, they wish to live as the multitude of Hebrews, (such are the two species of Ebionites ; who either confess like us, that Jesus was born of a virgin, or that he was not thus born, but as other men :) how does the reproach affect those of the church, whom Celsus terms from the multitude + ?"

If it was the intention of " the learned and celebrated Ori. gen," in this description, to identify the original Jewish believers, with the Ebionites, his contemporaries; it must be confessed that his description of the primitive Hebrew Church and their representatives, is couched in very respectful language I! From the first of these passages it seems difficult, by any art of critical chemistry to extract any meaning, but that Ebionite was a term of reproach applied to all Judaisers; whatever might have been their opinion of the person of Jesus. From the last it seems

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* Orig. contr. Cels. Lib. II. cap. i. Tom. I. p. 385. C.-οι- από Ιεδαίων εις τον Ιησόν πιςεύοντες και καταλελοίπασι τον σάτριον νόμον βιάσι γάρ κατ' αυτόν, επώνυμοι της κατά την έκδοχήν αιωχείας το νόμο γεγενημένοι. Εβίων τε γάρ ο. πτωχός παρά Ιεδαίοις καλείται και 'Εβιωναίοι χρηματίζεσιν οί από Ιεδαίων τον Ιησεν, ως Χριςον παραδεξάμενοι. Ed. Spenc. p. 56. .

, s . . . . . + Id. ibid. Lib. V. cap. Ixi. p. 624. f. sqq. —ěswoav de TIVES ry τον Ιησόν αποδεχόμεοι, ως παρά τέτο Χριςιανοί είναι αυχόντες. έτι δε κατά τον Ιεδαίων νόμον ως τα Ιεδαίων πλήθη βιών εθέλοντες: (ώτοι δ' εισίν οι διτλοι Εβιωναίοι, ήτοι εκ παρθένα ομολογώντες ομοίως ημίν τον Ιησεν, ή έχ ότώ γεγεννήσθαι, αλλ' ώς τις λοιπές ανθρώπες) τι τύτο φέρει έγκλημα τους από της εκκλησίας ες από τα πλήθος ώνόμασεν ο Κέλσος. Ed. Spenc. p. 272.

# As in the foregoing passage Origen scarcely' allows the Ebionites the name of Christians, a little lower down he terms them heretics ; and declares, that both the sects into which they were divided rejected the Epistles of St. Paul; Orig. ibid. cap. lxv. p. 628.c. Conf. S. Epiphan. Hær. xxx. Tom. I. p. 149.b.


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