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According to Philo, angels are nothing more than this divine logos ; so that he could not consider them as having a permanent being. Speaking of Hagar, he says, “ She was met by an angel, which is the logos of God, advising her to return to her mistress, and encouraging her.”* And treating of the migration of Abraham, he says, “ He that follows God must of necessity make use of the attending logoi, which are commonly called angels." +
Thus it is evident, that Philo made a much more substantial personification of the divine logos than any of the proper Platonists had done ; and it is very possible, that by the perusal of his writings, the Christian fathers, to whom they could not be unknown, might be led to their still more enlarged system of personification.
As Philo had represented the divine logos as being the immediate agent in all the communications of God to the patriarchs, they had nothing to do beside making this logos to be the same with Christ, and their scheme was very nearly completed. But Philo himself was far from imagining that the logos had any more relation to the Messiah than to any other prophet. According to him, it was the medium of the Divine communications with the prophets, but was never supposed to reside with any of them, and much less to be inseparably attached to them, or to animate them. The logos was still a divine influence or efflux, apprehended to be something belonging to the Divine Being, though occasionally emitted from him, and drawn into him again, when the purpose for which it had been emitted was answered. Where Philo ended the doctrine of personification, that of the Christian fathers began. The difference was, that, whereas Philo thought the emission of the logos to be occasional, and to assume various forms, particularly that of angels, the Christian fathers thought it to be uniform and permanent, and interpreted it of Christ only.
But the first Christians who adopted this opinion of the emission of a divine logos or eflux went very little farther than Philo, saying, as Justin Martyr explains their opinion, that this logos, which had been that which appeared to Moses and the patriarchs, in the form of a luminous cloud,
Σημειον δε, το υπαναν αυλη αλ/ελον θειον λογω, α χρη σαραινέσοντα, και υφηγησομενον επανοδο της εις τον δεσποινης οικον, ος και θαρσυνων φησιν, Επηκεσε κυριος τη ταπεινωσει σε, ήν ετε δια φοβον εσχες, ετε δια μισος. De Profugis, p. 451. (Ρ.)
* Ο δε επομενος Θεώ, κατα τ' αναγκαιον συνοδοιποροις χρηται τους ακολοθοις αυτε λογοις, és orgpasalvemos alytes. De Migratione Abrahami, p. 415. (P.) VOL. VI.
or glory, which had sometimes assumed the form of a man, and constituted what are called angels, was likewise in Jesus Christ, and enabled him to work miracles, &c. Since, however, according to their opinion, nothing was einitted from God but what he could at pleasure draw into himself again, just as a beam of light was supposed to go out of the sun, and go back to its source, (without indeed being ever separated from it,) they who held it were properly philosophical Unitarians ; and this is the opinion that is ascribed to Marcellus of Ancyra, and other acknowledged Unitarians of early times. Athenagoras held this doctrine with respect to the Holy Spirit, though he followed Justin Martyr in supposing that, after the emission of the logos, before the creation of the world, it always remained a person, distinct from the Father, and constituted the Son or Christ.
With respect to the Jews, it is evident that, in general, they did not use the term logos in the Platonic sense, but as synonymous to God, or the mere token or symbol of the Divine presence. The Chaldee paraphrasts often use the term rino, mimra, which may be translated logos or word, as, Gen. i. 27: “ The word of the Lord created man," instead of " God created man.' Gen. ix. 12: “ This is the token of the convenant which I make between my word and you," instead of “ between me and you.” But that, in the ideas of these writers, the word of a person was merely synonymous to himself, is evident from their application of the same phraseology to man. Thus the same paraphraser says, (Numb. xv. 32,) “A certain man said in his word, I will go forth and gather sticks on the Sabbath-day;" when he could only mean that he said to himself, or purposed in his own mind. Eccles. i. 2: “Solomon said in his word, Vanity of vanities,” &c. 2 Sam. iii, 15, 16: “ Phaltiel put a sword between his word and Michal, the daughter of Saul,” that is, between himself and Michal.
* See Bishop Pearson in Lindsey's Sequel, 1776, p. 380. + As is justly observed by Mr. Lindsey, in the Sequel to his Apology, p. 381. (P.) Mr. Lindsey there refers to “ Nye on the Trinity, p. 121," and adds,
"In all the examples of the use of this phrase, cited by Ben Mordecai and Allix, (except Psalm cx. 1, and perhaps another exception,) for word, or word of Jehovah, put self, or himself, and you will have the true sense of the paraphrase, as well as of the Hebrew text,
“ I shall barely mention one objection against the interpretation of this paraphrastic language, Mimra Jehovah, the word of Jehovah, signifying Christ, which is this. How is it credible, that these Targumists should use this phrase as descrip: tive of another being or person, by whom God made all things, and who was at the same time their Messiah; and yet should always maintain that Jehovah, the
Phraseology similar to this is used in the book called the Wisdom of Solomon ; when the author, describing the plagues of Egypt, says, (chap. xviii. 15, 16,) “Thine Almighty word leaped down from heaven, out of thy royal throne, as a fierce man of war, into the midst of destruction, and brought thine unfeigned commandment, as a sharp sword, and, standing up, filled all things with death ; and it touched the heavens, but it stood upon the earth.” But that this is only a figurative description of the power of God, reaching from heaven to earth, is evident from the language of the whole chapter, where those plagues are ascribed to God, and to no other being whatever: chap. xix. 9: “ For they went at large, praising thee, O Lord, who hadst delivered them."
one supreme God, was sole creator of all things; and should never in general look upon their Messiah in any other light but as their future great prophet, whom they expected to be of David's family, and born as other men are?" Sequel, pp. 381, 382.
CONTAINING THE HISTORY OF THE DOCTRINE OF
Of Christian Platonism. HAVING shewn what were the boasted principles of the Platonic school, as held by Plato himself, by his followers about the time of the Christian æra, and by Philo; let us now see what use was made of them by the philosophizing Christians, many of whom were educated in the Platonic school of Alexandria. * Absurd and confused as the system must appear to us at this day, it should be considered that it was the only philosophy that was in vogue at the time of -the promulgation of Christianity; so that persons of a liberal education could not well be supposed to adopt any other. In that age, the chief subject of deliberation was the choice of a master in philosophy; and though those who then gave lectures at Alexandria, claimed the privilege of selecting what they thought proper from the systems of all the philosophers, and on that account called themselves Eclectics, t the different doctrines were so discordant, that it was not much of any of them that could be adopted into any other.
Accordingly, we find that, with respect to every thing of much consequence, such as the doctrine concerning God, the maker and governor of the world, and the first principles of all things, the philosophers of Alexandria were, or pretended to be, wholly Platonists. And it must be allowed that, compared with other systems, there were many things exceedingly specious in the doctrine of Plato, and such as would render it peculiarly captivating to religious and pious persons, who were shocked with the principles of Aristotle, as leading to Atheism, and who revolted at the rigour of the
• See Tosheim, E. H. Cent. ii. Pt. ii. Ch. i. Sect. iv.-vi. 1758, I. pp. 136, 137. # Set. Sect. viii. pp. 139, 140.
Stoics, but were charmed with the sublimity of Plato. Also, the air of mystery which accompanied his doctrine would not perhaps, upon the whole, lesson the favourable impression which it was calculated to make upon the mind.
The things which most struck the Christians in Platonism were the doctrine of one God, a being of perfect goodness, that of his universal providence, that of the soul, and its immortality, and that of the improvement of the mind consisting in its resemblance to God, and a kind of union with him. These things pleased the Christians so much, that they persuaded themselves that Plato had actually horrowed them from the writings of Moses, with which they said he might have been acquainted during his residence in Egypt, or in his travels in the East. Justin Martyr, and others of the fathers, insist much upon this. It was on account of this supposed resemblance between Platonism and the doctrine of the Scriptures, that this philosophy was thought to be the best preparation for the study of Christianity; and that it was even imagined that it was given to the world by a particular providence, as introductory to the Christian dispensation. " The Greek philosophy,” says Clemens Alexandrinus, “ cleanses the mind and prepares it for the reception of faith, on which truth builds knowledge.” Other extracts will be given from this writer hereafter, which will more clearly shew what his ideas on this subject were.
That Christians were really struck with the principles of Platonism above-mentioned, is not a matter of conjecture only, but appears clearly in their writings. Minucius Felix says, that, “ according to Plato's Timæus, God is the parent of the world, the author of the soul, and the maker of things in heaven and earth. It is nearly,” says he, “ the same doctrine with our own.”+ Tertullian says, that “ Plato's philosophy considers God as caring for all things, as an arbiter and judge." I Irenæus says, that “ Plato was more religious than the heretics, in that he acknowledged the same God to be just and good, omnipotent, and a judge.”S
Φιλοσοφια δε η Ελληνικη, οιον προκαθαιρει και προεθιζει την ψυχην εις παραδοχην WI5€ws, ep 7 Tayywory eTroixo@omar og annagala. Strom. L. vii. Opera, p. 710. (P.)
† “ Platoni itaque in Timæo Deus est ipso suo nomine mundi parens, artifex animæ, cælestium terrenorumque fabricator. Eadem ferè et ista quæ nostra sunt." Sect, xix. p. 96. (P.)
1 " Platonici quidem, curantem rerum, et arbitrum, et judicem." Ad Nationes, Sect. ii. Opera, p. 54. (P.)
$." Quibus religiosior Plato ostenditur, qui eundem Deum et justum, et bonum, confessus est, habentem potestatem omnium, ipsum facientem judicium.” L. iii.