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them three Gods.”* But it has been seen that what the Platonists generally meant by the son, or the child, was the visible world.
However, the later Christian writers had no more doubt about the principles of Plato than about their own, and it is remarkable, how very nearly they make them approach to each other. Cyril of Alexandria asserts, that “ Plato says, it is plain that the first God is immoveable, but the second, on the contrary, is in motion. The first is employed about intelligible things, the second about things intelligible and sensible.”+ Again he says, “ Plato calls the supreme God the good, and says that nous, the immediate maker of the world, sprung from him, the first God being immoveable. He also introduces a third, viz. the soul, by which he says every thing was moved and animated.” I
Lastly, in his account of the principles of Plato, after speaking of the good, he says, “ From bim is generated nous, (which is perfected by the contemplation of him,) whom îhey call a second God, and the maker of the world. Him they make subordinate, and place in the second rank. The third they make the soul of the world, which had nothing from itself, but is made more divine by its relation to the nous, and stronger with respect to its quickening power." He says that “ Porphyry, explaining the doctrine of Plato, extends the Divine essence to three hypostases; the first being the Supreme Being, or the good; the second, the demiurgus; and the third, the soul of the world, extending the divinity even to this principle.”||
As the Christians were admirers of Platonism, so we find that some of the Platonists were admirers of that part of the Christian system which was formed after the model of Plato; and that they were particularly struck with the introduction to the Gospel of John, as interpreted by the Platonic Christians. Basil, speaking of the first verses of John's Gospel, says, that he knew many Heathen philosophers who admired them, and copied them into their own writings. Austin says, that a “ Platonic philosopher said that the introduction to John's Gospel ought to be written in letters of gold, and hung up in all churches.”+ Theodoret says that Plutarch, Numenius, and others, after the appearance of our Saviour, inserted in their own discourses many things from the Christian theology. I
• “Prædicas patrem et cjus filium, quem vocas paternum iutellectum seu mentem: et horun medium, quem putamus te dicere spiritum sanctum, et more vestro appellas tres Deos.” De Civitate Dei, L. x. C. xxix. Opera, V. p. 589. (P.)
1 Εισι δε έτοι οι βιοι, ο μεν πρωΐe, ο δε δευτερο Θεο: δηλον δε ότι ο μεν τρωτο Θεος εται &5W, ο δε δευτερος εμπαλιν εςι κινομενος: ο μεν εν πρωτος, περι τα νοητα και δε δεύτερος σει Ta yonla kau acomia. Coutra Julianum, L. ill. Juliani Opera, II. p. 98. (P.)
1 Ο γεν Πλατων Θεον μεν τον ανωτατω «φησι τ' αγαθον, εξ αυτά γε μην αναλαμψαι νεν, και ταλαν ειναι τον προσεχή τα κοσμο δημιουργον, οντος και εν ακινησια το πρωί και τριτην εισφερει ψυχην, υφ' ης τα τανία κινεισθαι τε και εψυχωσθαι φησι. Ιbid. L. iv. Ι. p. 147. (P.)
6 Telo δε ειναι φασι τ' αγαθον" εξ αυτο' γε μην γενέσθαι μεν, τη προς αυλον θεωρια τελειομενον, ον δη και δευτερον ονομαζεσι Θεον, και προσεχη το κοσμο δημιουργού και τελος υποβιβαζασι, και εν δεύλευα ταξει το προλα καλαλογιζονλαιν και μην και τριτην λογοποιεσι, τα κοσμε ψυχην, οικοθεν μεν το αλιως εχειν λαχυσαν υδαμας, σχεσει γε μην τη προς τον κρειτίονα νεν θειοθεραν αποτελομενην, και προς γε το δυνασθαι ζωοποιειν εορωμενεςεραν. Ibid. L. viii. II. p. 270. (P.)
Η Πορφυριος γαρ φησι, Πλατωνου εκτίθεμενος δοξαν, αχρι τριων υποτασεων, την τη θεια προελθειν eσιαν ειναι δε τον μεν ανωλαίω Θεον τ' αγαθων" μετ' αυτον δε και δειλερον τον δημιεργον τριλον δε και την τα κοσμα ψυχην αχρι γαρ ψυχης, την θειοληλα προελθειν. Ibid.' L: i. Il. p. 34. He repeats the same, p. 271. (P.)
Upon the whole, it must appear that, in representing the principles of Platonism, the Christian fathers leaned too much to the object which they had in view, and made more of the personification of the divine nous or logos than the Platonists themselves had ever done. The latter probably meant nothing more than a mere figure of speech, when they spake of the nous or logos as a person ; but in the hands of the Christian fathers, it became a substantial second God, at first derived from the Supreme Being, dependent upon his will, and subject to his orders, but afterwards in all respects equal to himself.
CHAPTER II. OF THE GENERATION OF THE SON FROM THE FATHER.
SECTION I. The Doctrine of the Platonizing Fathers concerning the
Generation of the Son, as the second Person in the Trinity, stated.
We have seen what notions the Christian fathers entertained of the second principle, in what has been called the Platonic Trinity, viz. the divine nous, or logos, which properly signifies the Divine mind, reason, or wisdom; that power by means of which God produced the visible world. This they considered as a real person, a second God, the son of the first God. There is much indistinctness and confusion in the doctrine of the Platonists themselves on this subject; but all this confusion presently vanished in the eyes of the Christian fathers; who, seeing how excellently that hypothesis was calculated to answer their purpose of exalting the personal dignity of their Master, did not hesitate to maintain that this second principle, the attribute, and the only effective and operative attribute of the Divine Being, was that which actuated Jesus Christ, and might be said to be Christ.
* Ταυλα οιδα πολλες και των εξω το λογο της αληθειας μεγα φρονενων επι σοφια κοσμικη, και θαυμασανίας, και τους εαυθων συναγμασιν εγκαταλεξαν τολμησανίας. Ηom. xvi. Opera, I. p. 432. (P.)
"Quod initium sancti evangelii, cui nomen est secundum Joannem, quidam Platonicus,-Aureis literis conscribendum, et per omnes ecclesias in locis eminentissimis proponendum esse dicebat." De Civitate Dei, L. X. C. xxix. Opera, V. p. 592. (P.)
1 Και εθερα δε πλεισα ειρηται και τελω, και Πλοίαρχο, και Νομηνια, και τους αλλους όσοι της τελων συμμοριας μετα γαρ δη την τε Σωληρος ημων επιφανειαν έτοι γενομενοι της χριςιανικης θεολογιας πολλα τους οικείους ανεμιξαν λογους. De Grecis Affectibus, Disp. i. IV. p. 750, Ed. Lipsiæ. (P.)
To complete this scheme, it was necessary that this operative principle in the Deity, should assume proper substantial personality, because Jesus Christ always remained a proper person, as much as any other intelligent being, and is always to continue so. And they were much assisted in doing this, by the principles of Philo, which have been explained above, (187–193,] viz. that the divine logos could assume occasional personality, to answer particular purposes, and then be resorbed into the Divine Being again.
For the thing itself being admitted to be possible for a time, there was no great difficulty in supposing farther, that what had been temporary, might be perpetual ; and therefore, that the logos, having been occasionally emitted from the Divine mind, and having had a proper power, and a proper sphere of action to itself, might for ever remain possessed of them, and be for ever attached to a real man, as it had been supposed to have been attached to what had the appearance of a man, and even to have eaten and drank like a man, in the intercourse with Abraham and the patriarchs.
But the doctrine of the occasional emission of this divine principle preceded that of the permanent personality among Christians, and continued to be held by many persons after the latter came to be the received opinion. The first mention of this idea occurs in the writings of Justin Martyr, who is likewise the first that can be proved to have adopted the doctrine of the permanent personality of the logos. He mentions it as an opinion which he did not approve; but it is remarkable, that he mentions it without any particular censure, so that it could not have been considered as an heretical doctrine.
The opinion that is described hu Lietin Martur
same that was held by Marcellus of Ancyra, and other learned Christians, who were properly enough ranked among Unitarians. For, according to them, the logos was nothing more than a divine power, voluntarily emitted by the Supreme Being; and though in some sense detached from himself, was entirely dependent upon him, and taken into himself again at pleasure, when the purpose of its emission had been an. swered. On this scheme, the logos, it might have been said, would have been a person at the creation of the world, and again when it was employed in the Divine intercourse with the patriarchs, in the intervals of which it was de. prived of its personality, and that it recovered it again at the baptism of Christ; then, after assisting him to perform those things to which human power was unequal, was resorbed into the Divine Being again ; just as a ray of light was, in those days, supposed to be drawn back into the sun, as the fountain of light, from which it had been emitted. This doctrine, therefore, may be called Philosophical Unitarianism, of which a farther account will be given hereafter. At present I shall only consider it as a step towards the doctrine of permanent personality, which probably commenced with Justin Martyr, and what might contribute to render it more plausible.
This doctrine would certainly appear less alarming to men of plain understanding ; for it could not be said, that, upon this principle, any new being was introduced. mere power, occasionally emitted, and then taken back again into its source, could not come under that description. Accordingly, it appears that Marcellus, who held that opi. nion, was considered as an Unitarian, and was popular among the lower people, who continued to be Unitarians ; whereas they took the greatest alarm at the doctrine of the permanent personality of the logos, considering it as the introduction of another God, and therefore as an infringement of the first and greatest commandment.
It was to avoid this great difficulty that the Christian fathers held so obstinately as they did to the doctrine of Christ being nothing more than the logos, or the proper reason, wisdom, or power of the Father, though it contributed exceedingly to embarrass their scheme. The Platonists had no difficulty at all on this account, as they had no measures to keep with Unitarians, but rather wished to standi well with those who held a multiplicity of gods. They; therefore, never pretended that their three principles were one, or resolvable into one This is observed by Austion and others.
But the Christian fathers were not so much at liberty. They were under a necessity of maintaining the Unity of God, in some sense or other, at all events; that being the fundamental principle of their religion, and a principle that was most strictly adhered to by the common people.
On this account we find them particularly careful, on all occasions, to assert, that, though they considered Christ as God, it was not as another God, distinct from the Father, but only the logos or reason of the Father himself; and, therefore, strictly speaking, one with him, as much as the reason of any man was the same thing with the man himself. On this account, also, those who called themselves orthodox, were so ready to charge the Arians with holding the doctrine of two Gods; because the logos of the Arians was a being created out of nothing, and had a different origin from the God that made him; whereas their logos had always existed as the reason of the eternal Father, and therefore they thought themselves well secured against any retort of the same accusation from others.
Being thus obliged to keep clear of the doctrine of two Gods, they were under a necessity of maintaining that the logos was nothing more than the reason, or operative faculty of the Father ; at the same time that they maintained that it was a distinct person from him, which is a doctrine so manifestly absurd, that at this day it requires the plainest evidence of its having been entertained at all. However, the dread of introducing two Gods, and the accusations of their adversaries, especially of the common people, for whom they could not but have great respect, gave them such abundant occasion to explain their real principles, and so much of their writings on this subject are still extant, that we cannot misunderstand their meaning.
It is not possible either by the use of plain words, or of figurative language, to express this most absurd notion, viz. that the logos, or the son, which was afterwards a real person, was originally nothing more than a mere attribute of the Father, more clearly than they do. For, according to the most definite language that men can use, the logos, as existing in the Father, and prior to the creation, was in the opinion of those Christian fathers, (who, in their own age, and even till long after the Council of Nice, were considered as orthodox,) the same thing in him as reason is in man, which is certainly no proper person, distinguishable from the man himself. 'Will common sense permit us to say, that the man is one person or thing, and his reason another, not com