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Christians, that they worshipped a crucified man, to which Minutius Felix answers, « that they were mistaken;" for that he whom they worshipped was God, and not a mere mortal man (i); and Tertullian, arguing against the same charge, says “ they worshipped Christ, because they knew him to be the true natural Son of God by spiritual generation, and therefore called God; and the Son of God, because he was of one and the same essence or substance: he was begotten of God in such a manner as to be God, and the Son of God, and they were both one (k).” We learn from Origen, that Celsus, in his book written against the Christians, ridiculed the idea of the wise men worshipping the infant Christ as God, and represented his flight into Egypt, and other circumstances of his life, as inconsistent with his being a God.“ He objects against us,” says Origen, “ I know not how often, respecting Jesus, that we consider him as God, with a mortal body (1)." Indeed the principal objection urged by Celsus against Christianity seems to have been the union of the divine and human natures in the person of Christ. In the parts of his work preserved by Origen, he repeatedly speaks of Christ as the
God (i) Minut. Dial. p. 88. (k) Tert. Apol. cap. 21. (1) Lib. 3. p. 135.
God of Christians, alludes to the account of his miraculous conception, observes that he is called the Word, says the place is shewn where Christ, “ who is worshipped by Christians," was born, ridicules their inconsistency in blaming the worshippers of Jupiter, whose tomb was shewn in Crete, while they worship as God a man who was buried in Palestine. “ If these men,” says he, “worshipped but one God, they might perhaps have reason to inveigh against others; but now they act superstitiously towards him who lately appeared, and yet they think that God is not neglected, if his servant also be worshipped.” He also represents the Christians as censuring the Jews for not admitting that Christ was God; and he every where speaks of the divinity of Christ as the common doctrine of Christians, and the worship of him as their established practice (m); and surely such a testimony, coming from a professed enemy of the Gospel in the second century, and allowed to be a true statement by a Christian writer in the beginning of the third, must be considered as very valuable. Lucian, who was contemporary with Celsus, mentions also the worship of Christ, and in a manner which shews that it was a thing not recently adopted : “ The Christians still
worship (m) Orig. contra Cels, passim.
worship that great man who was crucified in Palestine (n);" and we learn from Socrates, the ecclesiastical historian, that“ the orator Libanius praised Porphyry and Julian for confuting the folly of a sect which styled a dead man of Palestine God, and the Son of God (0).” Arnobius, in the year 303, represents the heathen as saying to the Christians, “The gods are not angry with you because you worship the Almighty God, but because you contend that he was God who was born a man, and, which is infamous even for vile persons, was crucified; and because you believe that he is still living, and worship him with daily prayers ;” and again he says, “ That the Christians do really worship Christ, but that it is from their indubitable knowledge that he is the true God; and they are bound to worship him as the head of their body. And should a Gentile ask, Is Christ God? we answer, He is God, and God of the interior powers, that is, the searcher of hearts, which is the sole prerogative of God (p).” The objection urged against Christianity from the worship of Christ is frequently noticed by the writers of the first four centuries ; and the defence uniformly made, is, that they worshipped Christ as God; and at the same time they constantly assert the unity of
God. (n)Luc. de Morte Peregrini. (o) Soc. Hist. Eccl. (P) Arnob. cont. Gent. lib. 1,
God. There cannot be a more decisive proof that the early Christians believed in the divinity of our Saviour (9).
As the opinion of the primitive church is deservedly considered as carrying great weight with it in this question, I shall add a few other authorities from the antient fathers. There is an Epistle extant which most learned men ascribe to Barnabas (r), the companion of St. Paul, and all agree that it was written in the apostolic age. , In this Epistle we have the following passages, which plainly imply a belief in the divinity of Christ : “ The Lord submitted to suffer for our soul, although he be the Lord of the whole earth, to whom he said before the formation of the world, Let us make man after our image and likeness.”—“ For if he had not come in the flesh, how could we men have been saved ?" “ If then the Son of God, who is Lord, and hereafter to judge the quick and dead, suffered
that (9) Vide Dr. Knowles's Primitive Christianity, in which it is shewn, in the clearest and most satisfactory manner, by a great variety of quotations from the writers of the first four centuries, that Jesus Christ was worshipped as God from the beginning of the Christian church. Vide also Bingham's Ant. B. 13. c. 2.
(r) This Epistle n the original Greek, and also an antient Latin version of it, which seems to have been made from a purer text than that of our present copy, are both published in the first volume of the Patres Apostolici, by Cotelerius.
that he might make us alive, let us believe that the Son of God could not have suffered but through us.”—“ You are informed concerning the majesty of Christ, how all things were made for him and through him."--Ignatius, another apostolical father, calls Christ “ of the race of David according to the flesh, the Son of God according to divinity and power, truly born of a virgin-our God Jesus Christ--the Son of man, and the Son of God (s).” These passages are all quoted by Theodoret, A. D. 449, which was nearly a century before any interpolation is suspected to have been made in the Epistles of Ignatius. “We are not senseless,” says Tatian, “nor trifle with you, O Greeks, when we declare that God was born in the form of man (t).” Irenæus declares, that “ every knee should bow to Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, our Saviour and King, by the will of the invisible Father (u).” Eusebius says, that the divinity of Christ was asserted in the writings of Justin, Miltiades, Tatian, Clement, Irenæus, and Melito, all of whom lived in the second century, and by many others; he also says that it was expressly declared in psalms and hymns of the earliest date; and that
in (s) Ignat. in Theod. Dial. Immutab. Vide Pearson, Vindic. Part. 1. c. 1. p. 10.
(t) Page 159. ed. Paris, 1615. (u) Lib. 1. cap. 2.