Sidor som bilder

it is not pretended that the apostles taught the doctrine of the divinity of Christ, yet it cannot be denied that, in the very times of the apostles, the Jewish church, and many of the gentiles also, held the opinion of his being a mere man. Here the transition is quite sudden, without any gradation at all. This must naturally have given the greatest alarm, such as is now given to those who are called orthodox, by the present Socinians; and yet nothing of this kind can be perceived. Besides, it is certainly most probable that the Christians of those times, urged as they were with the meanness of their master, should incline to add to, rather than take from, his natural rank and dignity. Maxim 9. H. C. p. 20, &c. H. O. vol. 2, p. 145, 172, 335.


1. WHEN two persons give different accounts of things, that evidence is to be preferred, which is either in itself more probable, or more agreeable to other credible testimony.

2. Neither is entire credit to be given to any set of men with respect to what is reputable to them, nor to their enemies with respect to what is disreputable; but the account given by the one may be balanced by that of the other. Summary View, No. 10.

3. Accounts

[ocr errors]

3. Accounts of any set of men given by their enemies only are always suspicious. But the confessions of enemies and circumstances favourable to any body of men, collected from the writings of their adversaries, are deserving of particular regard.

4. It is natural for men who wish to speak disparagingly of any sect to undervalue their numbers, as well as every thing else relating to them; and it is equally natural for those who wish to speak respectfully of any party, to represent the members of it as more numerous than they are. Summary View, No. 13.

5. When persons form themselves into societies, so as to be distinguishable from others, they never fail to get some particular name, either assumed by themselves or imposed by others. This is necessary, in order to make them the subject of conversation, long periphrases in discourse being very inconvenient. Summary View, No. 8.

6. When particular opinions are ascribed to a particular class of men, without any distinction of the time when those opinions were adopted by them, it may be presumed, that they were supposed to hold those opinions from the time that they received that denomination. Summary View, No. 4.

7. When a particular description is given of a class of persons within any period of time, any per


son who can be proved to have had the proper character of one of that class may be deemed to have belonged to it, and to have enjoyed all the privileges of it, whatever they were. Summary View, No. 9.

8. When an historian, or writer of any kind, professedly enumerates the several species belonging to any genus, or general body of men, and omits any particular species or denomination, which, if it had belonged to the genus, he, from his situation and circumstances, was not likely to have overlooked, it may be presumed that he did not consider that particular species as belonging to the genus. Summary View, No. 7.

9. Great changes in opinion are not usually made of a sudden, and never by great bodies of men. That history, therefore, which represents such changes as having been made gradually, and by easy steps, is always the more probable on that account. Summary View, No. 16.

10. The common or unlearned people, in any country, who do not speculate much, retain longest any opinions with which their minds have been much impressed; and therefore we always look for the oldest opinions in any country, or any class of men, among the common people, and not among the learned. Summary View, No. 13, 14.

11. If any new opinions be introduced into a society, they are most likely to have introduced


[ocr errors]

them who held opinions similar to them before they joined that society. Summary View, No. 15.


12. If any particular opinion has never failed to excite great indignation in all ages and nations, in which a contrary opinion has been generally received, and that particular opinion can be proved to have existed in any age or country when it did not excite indignation, it may be concluded that it had many partisans in that age or country. For the opinion being the same, it could not of itself be more respectable; and human nature being the same, it could not but have been regarded in the same light, so long as the same stress was laid on the opposite opinion. Summary View, No. 1, 11, 12.

13. When a time is given, in which any very remarkable and interesting opinion was not believed by a certain class of people, and another time in which the belief of it was general, the introduction of such an opinion may always be known by the effects which it will produce upon the minds and in the conduct of men; by the alarm which it will give to some, and the defence of it by others. If, therefore, no alarm was given, and no defence of it was made, within any particular period, it may be concluded that the introduction of it did not take place within that period. Summary View, No. 2, 3, 6.

14. When any particular opinion, or practice,

[ocr errors]

is necessarily or customarily accompanied by any other opinion or practice; if the latter be not found within any particular period, it may be presumed that the former did not exist within that period. Summary View, No. 5.

It will be perceived that the whole of this historical evidence is in favour of the proper Unitarian doctrine (or that of Christ being a mere man) having been the faith of the primitive church, in opposition to the Arian no less than the Trinitarian hypothesis.

As to the Arian hypothesis in particular, I do not know that it can be traced any higher than Ariu's himself, or at least the age in which he lived. Both the Gnostics and the Platonizing Christians were equally far from supposing that Christ was a being created out of nothing; the former having thought him to be an emanation from the supreme being, and the latter the logos of the Father personified. And though they sometimes applied the term creation to this personification, still they did not suppose it to have been a creation out of nothing. It was only a new modification of what existed before. For God, they said, was always rational (λoyixos), or had within him that principle which afterwards assumed a personal character.

Besides, all the Christian fathers, before the time of Arius, supposed that Christ had a human soul as well as a human body, which no Arians ever ad


« FöregåendeFortsätt »