Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση


whom also our Saviour prayed, and to whom he teaches us to pray. When his disciples said, “ Teach us to pray,” he taught them to pray, not to himself, but to the Father, saying, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” For, if the Son, he continues, be different from the Father in essence, as we have proved in another place, we must either pray to the Son, and not to the Father, or to both, or to the Father alone. But no one is so absurd as to maintain that we are to pray to the Son, and not to the Father. If prayer is addressed to both, we ought to use the plural number, and say, “ Forgive, bless, preserve ye us," or something like it. But as this is not a fit mode of address, and no example of it occurs in the Scriptures, it remains that we pray to the Father of the Universe alone.' He adds, “But as he who would pray as he ought, must not pray to him who himself prays, but to him whom Jesus our Lord taught us to invoke in prayer, namely, the Father, so no prayer is to be offered to the Father without him; which he clearly shows when he says, John xvi. 23, 24, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he shall give it you. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may

be full." For he does not say, Ask me, nor, Ask the Father, simply; but, “ If ye shall ask the Father in my name, he shall give it you.” For until Jesus had thus taught them, no one had asked the Father in the name of the Son, and what he said was true, “ Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name.”' And again, . What are we to infer,' asks Origen, from the question, "Why call ye me good? There is none good but one, God the Father.” What, but that he meant to say, Why pray to me? It is proper to pray to the Father alone, to whom I pray, as ye learn from the Scriptures. For ye ought not to pray to him who is constituted by the Father high priest for you, and who has received the office of advocate from the Father, but through the high priest and advocate, who can be touched with the feeling of your infirmities, having been tempted in all respects as ye are, but, by the gift of the Father, tempted without sin. Learn, therefore, how great a gift ye have received of my Father, having obtained, through generation in me, the spirit of adoption, by which ye have a title to be called the sons of God, and my brethren; as I said to the Father concerning you, by the mouth of David, “I will declare thy name to my brethren,

[ocr errors]

in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to thee.' But it is not according to reason for a brother to be addressed in prayer by those who are glorified by the same Father. Ye are to pray to the Father alone, with and through me.'*

This we take to be sound Unitarianism. Indeed the question of the impropriety of addressing the Son in prayer, could not have been better argued by the most strenuous advocate for the divine unity at the present day.

We have thus shown, as we think, conclusively, that Origen believed God and the Son to be two essences, two substances, two beings; that he placed the Son at an immense distance from the Infinite One, and was strongly impressed with the impropriety of addressing him in prayer, strictly so called; that he viewed him, however, as standing at the head of all God's offspring, and with them, and for them, as his younger brethren, whom he had been appointed to teach and to save, offering prayer at the throne of the Eternal.

To the Spirit, Origen assigned a place below the Son, by whom, according to him, it was made. To the Spirit, the office of redeeming the human race properly pertained; but it being incompetent to so great a work, the Son, who alone was adequate to accomplish it, engaged. † The Father, he says, pervades all things; the Son, only beings endowed with reason; and the Holy Spirit, only the sanctified, or saved.

It had been a prevalent philosophical notion, that man possessed both a rational and a sensitive soul; but this notion was now becoming obsolete, and the spirit, and soul, or sensitive principle, were often confounded. The latter, the Platonizing Fathers, before the time of Origen, ascribed to Christ, but not, as we are persuaded, the former, or rational soul. The place of this was supplied, as they thought, by the logos. I Origen's views on this subject, however, appear to have been peculiar. He supposed that the logos, or divine nature of Christ, became united with a human rational soul before his incarnation. He believed all souls to be preexistent, all endowed with freedom. Of these souls, which, from the moment of their production, were placed in a state of probation, one having used well its liberty, was, on account of its distinguished sanctity, taken into union with the logos, or Son, and became one spirit with it, one substance. This union, as Origen supposed, prepared the way for a future union with flesh, a divine nature being incapable of union with body without some medium.* The soul, thus honored, was selected, as just intimated, for its merits. Retaining its immaculate purity, and love to its Maker, it was rewarded by being raised into union with the divine logos; and we, as Origen further taught, if we imitate the singular love of Christ to God, shall be made partakers of the same logos, and, in proportion to our merits, be taken into union with it. +

* De Orat. Opp. T. 1. pp. 222, 223. See also Cont. Cels. L. v, § 4, p. 580. L. VIII, § 13, p. 751. ib. § 26, p. 761.

Comment. in Joan. T. 11. Opp. T. iv. p. 60 - 63. Jerome Epist. 94, ad Avitum.

| Dr. Priestley thinks differently, supposing the ancient doctrine to have been that the logos was united with a proper human soul,' by which he means the rational principle. But we are not satisfied with the evidence he offers in support of his position, as regards the Fathers who preceded Origen. We think that he has not been sufficiently attentive to the distinction above alluded to, between the rational and the sensitive soul, the latter of which is intended by the Fathers in question, when they speak of Christ as consisting of a body, logos, and soul, yuxń. Such is the expression of Justin Martyr. This error, as we deem it, of Dr. Priestley, was associated with another, which is, that the early Fathers believed that Christ did not suffer in his whole nature. But the course of reasoning they pursue, as before observed, often implies their belief that he did so suffer; besides, they sometimes speak of a suffering logos, though, it is true, solitary expressions may be quoted from their writings, which appear, at first view, to favor the opposite supposition. We think that Dr. Priestley, in general so fair, suffered his decisions, in the present case, to be influenced, unconsciously, by the character of his theological views. He seems to have felt more solicitude than we feel, to deprive the doctrine of Arius of support from the philosophical opinions of the second and third centuries, and to trace in the opinions of the Platonizing Fathers, what he conceived, with or without reason, to have been the original doctrine of the simple humanity. The doctrine of Arius, as we hope, on some future occasion, to be able to show, was undoubtedly an innovation, but not, we think, to the extent Dr. Priestley appears to have supposed. In denying that Christ possessed a human rational soul, he trod, we conceive, in the footsteps of the early philosophical, though not of the ancient uneducated, Christians.

It is not easy to determine precisely what views Origen entertained of the nature of the efficacy of Christ's death. He speaks of it much in the style of the sacred writers, that is, he is satisfied to use very general terms, which admit of great latitude of construction. The expressions he employs on the subject, are, consequently, wholly unlike the language adopted by the modern advocates for the doctrine of the atonement, nor do the notions conveyed by this language ever appear to have occurred to his mind.* He certainly did not hold what are now, with singular infelicity, called the doctrines of grace,' sometimes the 'evangelical doctrines,' or

* De Princip. Lib. II. C. 6.

† Delarue has attempted, we think, without success, to prove that doctrines, so fraught with difficulties as the above, would never have been held by Origen. But Origen was not much in the habit of rejecting opinions on account of their apparent extravagance. Besides, the doctrines alluded to, are, in their essential features, in perfect harmony with his whole system, especially with his views of free will and merit.

doctrines of Calvinism.' Of these doctrines, no trace is to be found in this learned Father. On the contrary, his writings furnish an armory, from which may be drawn weapons, effectually to combat them.

He frequently alludes to the subject of the sufferings and cross of Christ, but not more frequently, we think, than the adherents of a rational faith at the present day, nor does he urge it with more warmth and earnestness.

If there is any difference, it is not greater than would naturally be produced by the different situation of the writers, and character of the times. The reproach of the cross' was perpetually objected to Christians, by unbelievers of the early ages; and the Apologists for Christianity, in the true spirit of St. Paul, did not hesitate, on all fit occasions, to testify that what to the •Greeks' seemed 'foolishness,' was to them matter of 'glorying.' Origen, like the other Fathers, was fond of regarding Christ as the light, the guide, and pattern of the human soul; as its purifier, its redeemer, and Saviour, as well by his teachings as by his death. He was the wisdom of the Father, and the image of his goodness and truth; as such, it was his appropriate office to shed light on the human spirit, and, by infusing into it all holy and godlike affections, to prepare it for a final union with the great Source of being, of light, and

* From the manner in which he sometimes expresses himself, it would seem that he did not attribute to the death of Christ an efficacy peculiar in kind, but only in extent. Perhaps,' says he, as we are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, he having received,' as the reward of his sufferings, a name above every name, so some will be redeemed by the precious blood of martyrs, their martyrdom contributing also to their exaltation. Exhort. ad Martyrium. Opp. T. 1. p. 309. Again, “Jesus laid down his life for us, and let us lay down ours,

I will not say, for him, but for ourselves, and for those who may be edified by our martyrdom.'' Ib. p. 301.



N. S.


NO. 1.

enjoyment. So Origen viewed him; and the language in which he spoke of him partook not of that narrow, jejune, and technical character, which has but too often marked the discourses and writings of Christians of later ages.

With regard to the extent of the benefits intended to be conveyed by the death of Christ, Origen entertained some very singular, and, as will be admitted by all, exceedingly wild and visionary notions. But, to enable our readers readily to comprehend his opinions, or, perhaps, his conjectures, on this subject, we must first make them acquainted with his views of the great system of rational and animated natures, comprehending angels, men, and demons; sun, moon, and stars. Those views, it will be perceived, were derived from the very fanciful philosophy of the age; and though they may constitute bad theology, they are entitled, some of them at least, to our admiration, as beautiful creations of a poetic imagination.

All beings endowed with reason, according to Origen, are of one nature, or essence,* and were produced long before the foundation of the visible world. In this opinion, he was not singular. The preëxistence of souls was a dogma of the reigning philosophy. At first, as Origen maintained, they were pure intelligences, all glowing with love to their Maker. They, however, possessed entire freedom, and the capacity of virtue and vice.

The consequence was, their primeval love grew cold, and they became in various degrees estranged from God, the fountain and centre of moral life and heat. They were hence reduced to different ranks of beings, and doomed to occupy different stations, more or less exalted or depressed, according to their acquired character and habits;

* All beings endowed with reason; including, according to Jerome, “the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Angels, Powers, Dominations, and other Virtues'; all these, says Jerome, he asserted to be of one substance, though, at other times, he would not allow the Son to be of the same substance with the Father, dreading the appearance of impiety. Epist. 95, ad Avit. The expression, of one substance,' or one essence, which is here employed by Origen, in reference to God, angels, and the souls of men, is deserving of notice, as it is precisely that which is often employed by the Fathers in speaking of God and the Son. The inference is obvious.

Origen does not hesitate' says Jerome, 'to ascribe the nature of the omnipotent God to angels and men. And why should he refuse to ascribe it to the Son ? Yet he did sometimes refuse from a principle of piety, so careful was he not to infringe the Divine Unity.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »