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of banishing their friends indiscriminately with their foes; it is mdisputable they offered protection to some Christians of the Gentile communion * An edict had in fact been issued by Hadrian, under which the Christians were not only protected, but allowed to make their defence before the Roman tribunals; being merely subject to legal penalties, when they were convicted of some infraction of the Roman laws: t. As this edict passed in favour of the Christians in the tenth year of Hadrian's reign, six years previously to that issued by the same emperor agamist the Jews I; it must have afforded the former protection, during the violent persecution which raged against the latter in the whole of that prince's reign. Were not this fact placed beyond controversion, by the establishment of a Christian Church, under a Gentile bishop, in the new city which Hadrian founded, on the site of Jerusalem g, it might be deduced from the tolerating spirit which guided the Roman policy, with respect to the Christians, from the reign of that prince to that of Marcus Aurelius. The terms in which an edict is couched, which was issued by the latter prince |, fully evince, that in his teign, not less than in that of his predecessor Antoninus Pius who directly succeeded to Hadrian, the protection afforded the Christians by the last mentioned emperor had not been intermitted, while the Jews were persecuted and expelleu from theit native land.
Now, the process which the Romans must have followed, in distinguishing the Christians thus tolerated, if not from the Heathens yet from the Jews, must have afforded the Nazarenes the protection granted to Christians; and furnishes us with means of demonstrating, that they were orthodox in their notions of the person of Christ.
The unconverted Gentiles were at once distinguished from the Jews and Christians by the rite of heathen sacrifice; in which both the latter declined participating, as abominable and profane **. But by this negative test, the believing Gentiles, who were tolerated, could not be distinguished from the Jews who were proscribed. But by acknowledging Christ, as their Sove
* Euseb. Ibid.
167. Id. Hist. Eccl. Lib. IV. cap. v. p. 143. I. 22. sqq. 1 Marc. Aurel. Edict. ap. eund. Ibid. cap. xii. p. 160.1 9. I Id. ibid. p. 160. I. 6. ** Plin. Epist. Lib. X. cap. xcvii
. p. 723. $. Polycap. Mart. cap. viii. p. 198,
reign Lord, whose kingdom was in heaven, not on earth, they at once proved themselves innoxious to the Romans, and distinguished themselves from the Jews. This discriminating test of their religious persuasion, it is unquestionable, the Heathen rulers required *. And as it is indisputable, that it would be given by orthodox Hebrews not less than the Gentiles; as it would be refused by the Ebionites not less than the Jews : both the former might have equally enjoyed that toleration which both the latter were denied. These suppositions, however, are respectively confirmed, by the fact that a Christian Church continued established at Ælia t, from the times of Hadrian to Constantine the Great ; while the Ebionites, as affected by those edicts which expelled the Jews, remained without the confines of the Holy Land, at Pella and Cochabis #, whither they had retired ou the breaking out of the war.
In fact, as the edicts issued by the emperors, against the Jews, were necessarily intended to secure the Roman authority, they expressly afforded protection to all who did not stand opposed to the Roman laws. No pledge however could be given by the Ebionites, which could be accepted as a security by the Romans: no proscription could be enforced against the Jews,
in which they would not be involved. They were virtually • Jews, differing from that people, but in their belief of the
identity of the Messiah: the one looking for his second coming, while the other believed that he had not appeared. They had the same attachment to ritual purifications, the same superstitious veneration for the temple, the same abhorrence at seeing its sanctity profaned by the heathen rites. And as they equally venerated the Levitical service, and looked forward to its pera fect restoration, they expected, in their Messiah, a temporal deliverer, who would free them from their subjection to the Romans, and abolish the Gentile power. As these were the identical principles wbich rendered the Jews formidable to the Romans, and against which the Roman edicts were directed, they must have necessarily affected the Ebionites, who held those obnoxious principles in common with the Jews.
Whether therefore we consider the positive security which the Nazarenes were enabled to give the Romans, that they pose sessed no. disaffection to their government, or the positive inability under which the Ebionites lay, to give any pledge, that they were not animated by the hostile principles of the Jews :
* Euseb. Hist. Eccl. Lib. III. cap. XX. p. 110. l. 16.
Id. ibid. Hær. Xxx. p. 125. d.
it is apparent, that the former were protected by the edicts issued in favour of the Christians, while the latter were proscrib. ed by those issued for the expulsion of the Jews. Now as the security which the Nazarenes were enabled to give, consisted not merely in a renunciation of the secular objects of the Jews, but in the avowal of the spiritual views of the Christians; we deduce from this distinction a demonstrative proof of their opi. nions respecting the person of Christ. For, in the acknowledgment of Jesus as God, who was set down at the right hand of the Father, whose kingrom was not of this world, but “ whose throne, as that of God, was for ever and ever,” consisted the security in which the Romans rested, that nothing was to be apprehended from the secular views of the Christians. With this acknowledgment Pilate expressed himself content previously to the destruction of Jerusalem *; and in it Domitian acquiesced, after it was reduced to a ruin under Vespasian and Titus t, As this acknowledgment, however, which was required, as a security, by the Romans, is a plenary confession of the Divinity of Christ, it places beyond a doubt, that the Chris. tians, whether converts from the Jews or Gentiles, to whom the Romans afforded protection, in the reignis of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius, were orthodox in their opinion of the Divinity of our Lord.
The application of ihis argument to the confirmation of Bishop Horsley's hypothesis, relative to the existence of orthodox Hes brew believers, in the Church of Ælia, which arose and flourished under ihose emperors, is now sufficiently obvious. As a synagogue of Judaisers, according to St. Epiphanius, existed at Jerusalem ; it must consequently have consisted of oxthodox Hebrews, agreeably to what St. Jerome asserts : as no other Judaisers could have participated in the immunities which were granted by the Romans to the Christians, and denied by them to the Jewys. Making allowance, therefore, for an inconsiderable error in point of circumstance, the assertion of Bishop Horsley is demonstrably true in point of fact, and supported by the testimony of Epiphanius and Jerome, to whom he appealed. For thus it is apparent; that an orthodox Church of Hebrew believers existed at Ælia subsequent to the times of Hadrian; and, consequently, as the representative of the primitive Church of Jerusalem, they evince the faith of the first Christians to have embraced the catholic doctrine of the Divinity of Christ.
The length to which we have been drawn out in making these
* Luke xxiii, 1–4. John xviii. 37, 38. Conf. Tert. Apolog. cap. v. p. 6. 7 Euseb, Hist. Eccl. Lib. III. cap. xx. p. 110. 1. 16–24.
remarks, has left us little room to enlarge as fully upon the tract of Mr. Robert Aspland as we could desire. In the various subjects through which it wanders, though there is little but the grossest errour aud misrepresentation, there is little however which merits a reply. The most offensive leavings of the controversial filth, which in two centuries has been accumulated by the dissenters, is here collected with zeal, and discharged in liberal vollies against the establishment. The Orders of the Ministry are treated as a solemn mockery; the Version of the Scriptures as a texture of errour; the legal Rights of the Church as a profane usurpation; the Form of Worship as a superstitious pageant; and the Confession of Faith as absurd and unscriptural form. It cannot be necessary, at this day, to repel the imbecile endeavours of the obscure and empty declaimer before us, in a forinal chastisement of his calumnies, and refutation of his mistakes: when those old calumniators, Pierce and Towgood, who have been a thousand times refuted, are assigned their contributions to his aspersions, little remains behind which deserves a reply. The bare statement of his undertaking must sufficiently disclose the nature and extent of his talents and acquirements, and prove
him a deserving member of that school whose pretences have been already characterised, in estimating the labours of Mr. Belsham and Mr. Jones. This charge we shall substantiate by a review of some of the most laboured and plausible parts of his work ; which are devoted to an attack upon the Ministry, and to a formal defence of Blasphemy, Heresy, and Schism. As preliminary, however, to this undertaking, we subjoin the following remark, which, while it demonstrates the author's heart to be as wicked as his head is weak, will go a considerable way towards substantiating the charges which we have already urged.
« The Book of Sports, was a Declaration to encourage recreations and sports upon the Lord's day, put out by James I. 1618. It was designed as a blow upon the Puritans, or Dissenters of the day; it being rightly judged, that there was no surer way of keeping conventicles empty, or of exposing them to danger, than by filling the ale-houses. This Declaration, which was at first drawn up by a Bishop, Moreton, was in 1633, at the instigation of Archa báshop Laud, republished by the misguided Charles 1. with a further injunction, that it should be made public “ by. order from the bishops, through all the parish churches of their several dioceses respectively." P. 17.
Shameless as is the calumny of two centuries old, which is thus charitably revived, it is not even honestly reported. The first part of this allegation is manufactured out of the following representation of Mr. James Pierce of notorious memory. Quoting Paget's Defence of Church Government, be abserves
According to him, Dr. Moreton, Bishop of Chester, framed the directions for the first liberty granted to sports on the Lord's Day; at the same time he so eagerly prosecuted the nonconfirmists for ceremonies * It is needless to observe how much truth should be expected from a witness so "eager to do justice to the party which opposed him: yet even on the testimony of such a witness it appears that the Declaration to encourage sports," was merely a " liberty granted to sports, ". on which the intolerance of puritanical zeal had intrenched. This is not the whole, but the bare insinuation, that “ Bishop Moreton framed the directions for that liberty," is now transformed into an assertion that “ he drew up the Declaration put out by James 1." Yet even this shadow
of authority produced against Bishop Moreton, does not exist for the base aspersion cast upon Archbishop Laud. The charge now urged as un. doubted, is thus peremptorily denied by Dr. Nicholst; " But though hastening to my object, it must be observed by the way
that the Declaration did not pass by the advice of the Bishops ; for Archbishop Laud who was chiefly branded with the imputatiou, himself most solemnly protested, that he neither promoted this matter by his authority or advice." And Mr James Pierce who replied to this assertion, has by the assistance of an equivocation thus dexterously glided over the charge of calumny fastened on him without any mention of Archbishop Laud or Bishop Moreton, he uses a terin which conveniently applied to the unfortunate Monarch and Prelate who fell victims to the fury of the lawless and vulgar rabble which seized upon the sovereigu authority. “ To promote these [sports] a Royal Declaration was put forth by the Church's Martyr, and all parochial ministers were required to publish it in their congregations.” Alluding, however, in a subsequent page to “ the profanation of the Lord's Day," and speaking of “ the writings of those who abet those proceedings,” he subjoins, “ I don't think it worth while to inquire, whether this were owing to Archbishop Laud's adrice or not. 'Tis certain, at that time, nothiug hardly was done, which he was not acquainted with, or disapproved I." After this virtual confession of inability to substantiate the charge, extorted from an enemy, who lived when it might be brought home, if not founded in falsehood, and who has insulted the memory of that unfortu. date prelate with the most low and inhuman abuse; we need not inquire whether Mr. Robert Aspland's assertion rests its credi
* Pierce, Vind. of Dissent. p. 175.