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Arians, I believe, interpret them to signify in the beginning of time: but St. John doth not say this nor any thing else which could lead them to put such an interpretation upon his words; he faith absolutely, Ev apxin nv ó Royos, and what ev apxn fignifies let Cicero explain for me. Quod semper movetur eternum eft, &c. quinetiam cæteris quæ moventur hic fons boc prina cipium eft movendi principii ; autem nulla est origo, nam e principio oriuntur omnia. Tusc. Quæst. lib. i. 23. Such objectors quarrel with the wisdom of all the world, and of all ages; for, this was not the doctrine merely of Cicero, but adopted by him from ages long prior to himself. In principio, or ev agxn, must signify from all eternity, if ancient authority, or, indeed, if common sense, has any influence over us; because e principio oriuntur omnia : and as St. John says, expressly and absolutely, that the Word existed in principio, therefore neither the Socinian nor the Arian interpretations are at all admissible; for, the Evangelist teacheth us, that the Word existed from all eternity with God, ev Olp xin nv, “H01 nv w pos tox Geov: He was, or existed, in the beginning; and he existed with God, wlos tov Osov, in unity with God, and therefore was God; for, Osos no ó royos. Here ingenuity, in endeavouring to suggest something which may militate against the affertion of the Evan- ' gelist, that the Word was God, hath made a discovery that the word 0:0; is without the article, and, of course, whatever of divinity is implied in it, it is a divinity inferior to the Godhead of the Father.
This, it must be owned, is a moft curious discovery, and has set many a man hunting for some passage in the New Testament wherein the article is added to Deos, when the word is applied to Jesus CHRIST: a moft unnecessary employment, as the Arians' discovery, if we may so speak without offence, proceeds from a mistake in not understanding the Evangelift's words. The article seems to be omitted designedly by St. John; for, had he inserted it, it might have been interpreted as if the royos alone was the Godhead, which was the farthest imaginable from his intention. It is not omitted in diminution of the Divinity of the Aoyos, or to impress us with a notion as if he was an inferior God; but to prevent us from imagining that the Supreme God was the soyos exclusively. The Supreme God is the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, štos E510 ó 6:05, and therefore the article seems very properly to be omitted when St. John says na :0; mv å hoyos. However, the use or the omiffion of the article does not seem to be of any consequence fufficient to found an argument upon either the one way or the other.
The objection of the latter Platonists, and of the Socinians from them, that St. John's novos is itolen from Plato, hardly deserves any notice. What Plato says on this subject is confused and unsatisfactory. He borrowed the idea when he was in Egypt, and, most probably, obtained it by conversing with the
Jews there ; for, Egypt in his time was the mart of fcience; and, returning thence, fraught with a very imperfect comprehension of this subject, he mixed it up with his own notions; so that his novos is a principle, or a prolation, or I know not what. Amelius, the Platonic philosopher, on reading St. John's Gospel, we are told, exclaimed, " This bar6 barian hath transferred to himself the mysteries of - Plato with regard to the Word :” and very probably he did exclaim thus; for, being unacquainted with the Jewish doctrines and the writings of Moses, and Plato having very carefully concealed from his countrymen the source whence he derived his conceit of the royos, it was natural for him to exclaim by his Jupiter, that St. John had stolen his master's mysteries: but with what propriety the difciples of Socinus can concur with Amelius, in objecting to St. John, will not be easy to determine, unless we suppose them to be as ignorant of the Scriptures as Amelius was. And, in like manner as they say the doctrine of the Royos is derived from Plato, so also they pretend, that the doctrine of the Trinity is derived from him likewise. But where does Plato use the term tpias. Clemens Alexandrinus, who was pretty well acquainted with the writings of Plato and with the Platonists, tells us quite a different story, and that Plato only gives intimations as if he had some notion of the doctrine of the Trinity; for, after having referred to what he fays, εν τη προς Εραςον και κορισκον επις ολη, and moreover to what he fays in his
Timæus, Ourah Aws sywy stanow ý tov deyior apraeddie uniuerfau; but, at the same time, he informs us, that Plato had his notion from the Hebrew Scriptures, oux :01d? OTWS. EX TWY EEpairwr ypaQwe su DOIVEN: so that, in his opinion, the doctrine of the Trinity. was much more antient than Plato; and, consequently, Plato could not have been the origin of it to the Christians, who were acquainted with, and understood, these Hebrew writings infinitely better than ever Plato did. (Vid. Clem. Alexandrin. Strom. lib. v. p. 436. Sylburg.).
Clemens Alexandrinus is represented by historians as having flourished about the year 194, and as having written, if I mistake not, his Stromata, the following year. He was acquainted with, and had received instructions from, those who had seen and heard the Apostles themselves; and therefore his: mentioning the tov dylov tpiado, in the manner already recited, affords a very strong presumption, that the doctrine of the Trinity was the doctrine of the Apoftolic age. Novel it could not have been at the time when he wrote; for, he mentions it as a doctrine generally known and received: and, from Plato, or the Platonists, it could not have been derived; for, their knowledge did not extend to far.
That the Platonists wished to represent their master's opinions, concerning the Deity, as coinciding, as nearly as possible, with the doctrine of
the Christians, is, I believe, unquestionable; and, on this account it is, that Clemens wishes his reader to interpret what he refers to, from Plato, as giving fome intimation of the doctrine of the Trinity; a doctrine which he himself supposes to have been more antient than Christianity; for, Plato he suggests to have obtained his knowledge of it from Hebrew writings, prior to the promulgation of the Gospel. And, as this is the case, what shall we say to those modern writers, who would persuade us, that the doctrine of the Trinity was unknown to the primitive Christians? If it was not adopted by them, they, nevertheless, must have known the doctrine, because it was a current doctrine in their own times, and prior to them; and, if they knew the doctrine, and did not approve of it, doubtless they would have opposed it with their utmost strength, and would have been most guardedly cautious in all their expreffions, lest any thing should have fallen from them, which might seem to give countenance to a doctrine which they discovered: but, where, either in the New Testament, or in the writings of the pria mitive Christians, is there a syllable to be found in condemnation of the doctrine of the Trinity? If any fuch there is, let it be produced; but, if there be none such, as assuredly there is none, let us not be afraid to adopt a doctrine, which, although current in their days, has not been condemned by our LORD, or by his Apostles. I have mentioned this only by the way, but, as well worthy the attention of those