« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Jewish rebellion, were included in Adrian's edict for the banishment of the Jews.” But were not Hebrew Christians Hebrews, or Jews, and were not all the Jews, without any distinction of Christians or no Christians, banished both from that place and from the district, by Adrian?
Your Lordship's attachment to theory, and your inattention to facts, in this case, is not a little curious. To make Jerusalem a safe asylum for the Christian Jews, after the revolt of their countrymen, you suppose, what is indeed probable enough, that the Christians had no concern in its; but, that they were noticed and favoured by the emperor on that account, is a mere conjecture. You add, that “ had they not discarded the Jewish rites they might have been mistaken for Jews,” and, therefore, following your theory, according to which they were not mistaken for Jews, and neglecting all authority from fact, and contrary both to all probability and the uniform testimony of all antiquity, you say they had discarded those rites, which is nothing more than an inference from a conjecture.
On the contrary, all antiquity says that the Jewish Chris. tians, without making any distinction, were rigorously attached to the observance of their law. Nothing can be more evident than that they were so during all the time of the apostles ; who also, Paul himself not excepted, conformed to every punctilio of the Mosaic ritual, and never authorized any beside the Gentile converts to neglect it. A system of peculiar rites is, I doubt not, to distinguish that remarkable nation, Christians or not, to the end of time; and, without being confounded with the rest of the world, they are to be, if there be any truth in prophecy, the most distinguished nation upon earth. Of this I think I have given sufficient proof in the Theological Repository, t a work from which you, my Lord, though a bishop, might learn much, though it is not probable you ever will.
After these observations I submit the following curious paragraph of your Lordship’s to the inspection of our readers: “ The disturbed foundations of the Church of Ælia are again settled. I could wish to trust them to their own solidity to withstand any future attacks. I could wish to take my final leave of this unpleasing task of hunting an uninformed, uncandid adversary through the mazes of his blunders, and the subterfuges of his sophistry. But I have found by the experience of this conflict, that a person once engaged in controversy is not entirely at liberty to choose for himself to what length he will carry the dispute, and when he will desist. I perceive that I was guilty of an indiscretion in discovering an early aversion to the continuance of the con. test. My adversary, perhaps, would have been less hardy in assertion, and more circumspect in argument, had I not given him reason to expect that every assertion would pass uncontradicted, and every argument uncanvassed. Unam. bitious as I therefore still remain of the honour of the last word, be it however understood, that if Dr. Priestley should think proper to make any further defence, or any new attack, I am not pledged either to reply, or be silent."*
* Tracts, p. 371, Note. (P.)
+ See Vol. XII. pp. 442-482.
My Lord, in humble imitation of your Lordship’s style, I will say, the foundations of your church of Trinitarian Jews at Jerusalem, after the time of Adrian, are again, and I will venture to say, for ever, overturned ; and a church, the foundations of which were attempted to be laid on the grossest calumny, and on the ruins of the fairest character that Christian history has to exhibit, could not expect any better fate; and it has fallen where it ought to have done, on the head of the architect. To this hardiness of assertion, of an uninformed and uncandid adversary, it is perfectly in. different to himself whether your Lordship reply or be silent. He only wishes to have a reply, because he is persuaded that the great cause which you oppose will be promoted by it.
If your Lordship should make a fresh attempt to rebuild this favourite church, I hope you will lay its foundations deeper than on an idle story of Epiphanius; for it is not very probable that such a man as Aquila, a Jew, and a transJator of the Scriptures, consequently a studious and pious man, should have been employed by Adrian in superintending any works of building or fortification ; without consider. ing what you add to this account, or rather in contradiction of it, that this was when all Jews were banished from the place, and Adrian had no works to construct there.
If, however, you will, for wapt of a better, build on so precarious an authority as this, at least, take the pains to understand your author; and, also, condescend to give some small degree of attention to the humble subject of chronology. Otherwise, how pompously and magisterially soever your Lordship may write, a plain tale will be sufficient to put you down.
* Tracts, p. 499. (P.)
As to your other proofs of the want of veracity in Origen, I am very willing to abide by the defence that I have already made of him in my third set of Letters to you. readers judge between us. I shall only observe that, supposing you to have proved all that you there pretend, it would amount to nothing more than such trifling oversights and inconsistencies as the wisest and best of men, and especially voluminous writers, must be subject to, and such as by no means affect a man's character for veracity. It is not from things of so slight a nature as these that you can be authorized to suppose, or suspect, that such a man as Origen would be guilty of so flagrant a violation of truth in the circumstances which I have stated, as you have had the assurance to charge him with. Your Lordship
now joins me with Origen, considering us as so much alike, that you say, “ This art, which Dr. Priestley is so apt to employ, of reducing an argument which he would refute, by well-managed abridgments, to a form in which it may be capable of refutation, indicates so near a resemblance between the characters of Origen and his Hyperaspistes, in the worst part of Origen’s, that perhaps I might not be altogether unjustifiable were I to apply to the 'squire the words which Mosheim so freely uses of the knight, EGO HUIC TESTI, ETIAMSI JURATO, QUI TAM MANIFESTO FUMOS VENDIT, ME NON CREDITURUM ESSE CONFIRMO."*
To this conjunction of myself with Origen I heartly say, Amen. May my character be that of this great man, with all his faults; and then it will be as far removed as I wish it to be from that of the present Bishop of St. David's, whom I scruple not once more to call (as I have abundantly proved the truth of the accusation) a falsifier (though I believe not a wilful falsifier) of history, and a defamer of the character of the dead.t
To shew that I am not ambitious of having the last word, except where I have something of importance to add, I also freely submit to our readers what your Lordship has added in your sixth Disquisition, $ concerning Jerome's Orthodox Hebrew Christians, in answer to the
fourth of my third set of Letters.Ş That the Ebionites and Nazarenes were only two names for the same set of people, and that they were all, as far as we know, believers in the simple humanity of Christ, I have abundantly proved in my “ History of Early Opi. nions concerning Jesus Christ ;" and, certainly, your Lordship's not choosing to look into that work * cannot be called an answer to it. Till I do see something at least plausibly advanced in answer to what I have there alleged, I shall think it unnecessary to say any thing farther on the subject.
* Tracts, pp. 488, 489. (P.) See Vol. XVIII. p. 284.
+ Ibid. p. 181. Tracts, &c. pp. 490-499.
§ Vol. XVIII. pp. 291-296.
I am, &c.
My Lord, This controversy will, I hope, teach your Lordship and others, that whatever effect a bold, contemptuous, and imposing manner may have in conversation, it is attended with no lasting advantage in writing, when the big words, and haughty airs, may be examined at leisure, and their insignificance be seen through.† Your Lordship’s insolence has exceeded that of Warburton ; but even his learning was not able to gain any lasting credit to the strange paradoxes that he advanced. They served to amuse his contemporaries, but are now almost sunk into oblivion. What, then, will be the fate of your Lordship's paradoxical assertions, still more extravagant than his, advanced with greater effrontery, and yet destitute of the least support in a real knowledge of antiquity?
On some of the subjects on which your Lordship advanced to the charge with the greatest confidence, my replies have been so effectual, that you have not attempted any defence, especially with respect of that passage of Athanasius, in which he accounts for the great number of Unitarians in the age of the apostles, by saying, that “the Jewish Christians were so firmly persuaded that their Messiah was to be a mere man, that the apostles themselves were obliged to use great caution in divulging the doctrine of the divinity of Christ.” This was the construction that Beausobre, Dr. Lardner, and, I believe, every other person who has quoted the passage, put upon it, though, contrary
• See supra, p. 12; Vol. XVIII. p. 298, Note 1.
See Vol. XVIII. p. 70.
to all probability, you have maintained that he meant the unbelieving Jews only, with respect to whom the observation was wholly impertinent.
I have clearly shewn, by a series of quotations from writers of a very early to those of a very late period, that what I have ascribed to Athanasius was the idea of the Christian writers in general, and especially that of Chrysostom; so that I think it will hardly be disputed again; and yet, what exclamations did not you, and your worthy ally Mr. Badcock, make upon that subject, as if I wilfully misconstrued the passage! But they were the exclamations of ignorance.
On this subject your Lordship has very prudently chosen to be silent. An ingenuous mind, however, would candidly acknowledge the force of an argument to which he was not able to reply. It has more than once been done by Dr. Price, but not once by the Bishop of St. David's; and this is a circumstance that marks greatness of mind in the one, and lillleness in the other.
I shall farther observe, at the close of this set of Letters, that the haughtiness your Lordship has assumed as a Churchman, and the contempt with which you have always affected to speak of Dissenters, does not become a man whose grandfather, if I have not been misinformed, was a Dissenting minister, and whose father was educated for one. But perhaps this very circumstance may lead to the true cause of the phenomenon ; for such is its operation on some ininds. Where the suspicion of a leaning to an old connexion will naturally fall, they think they can never do enough to guard against that suspicion.
This controversy, I imagine, has not tended to recommend the Dissenters to your Lordship. It is said, that since you have been Bishop of St. David's you have refused to ordain any person educated in the school of a Dissenter, particularly a most respectable one, which has supplied the diocese with many of its most valuable clergymen; alleging that, though they had received nothing more than classical learn, ing from Dissenters, they would be too friendly to them. It looks as if in every Dissenter your Lordship dreaded a scourge to yourself. Your Lordship's diocese, however, is said to abound with them, and on this account you will probably consider it as another Augean stable. But it is not a Hercules that is sent to it; and I will venture to predict that the number of Dissenters will not be lessened by your Lord