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this word in the first chapter of his Gospel, in the same sense that the Chaldee paraphrases had used it before Christ's time; and consequently, that it is to be understood of a Person properly so called in the blessed Trinity: which way of interpreting that word, because it directly overthrew the Socinian doctrine, which was then, that St. John by the word Ayos understood no other than Christ as man, it is no wonder that this author used all his wit and learning to evade it.
The construction which Socinus put upon the first chapter of the Gospel of St. John, was then followed generally by his disciples: but some years since, they have set it aside here, as being absurd and impertinent. And they now freely own what that Socinian author strongly opposed, that the Word mentioned by St. John is the eternal and essential virtue of God, by which he made the world, and operated in the person of Christ. Only they deny that Word to be a person distinct from the Father, as we do affirm it to be. And whereas Socinus taught, that Christ was made God, and therefore is a proper object of religious worship; now the Unitarians, who believe him to be no other than a mere human creature, following the principles of Christianity better than Socinus, condemn the religious worship which is paid to him.
As they do believe that the Jews had the same notions of the Godhead and Person of the Messias which they have themselves, so they think they have done the Christian religion an extraordinary service in thus ridding it of this double difficulty, which hinders the conversion of the Jews. Mr. N. one of their ablest men, having read Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho, in which Trypho says, that he did not believe that the Messias was to be other than man, makes use of this passage of Trypho to prove, that the doctrines of the Divinity of the Messias, and by consequence of the Trinity, were never
acknowledged by the Jews. This he does in a book, the title whereof is, The Judgment of the Fathers against Dr. Bull.
His design being to prove, that Justin Martyr, about 140 years after Christ, was the first that held the doctrine of Christ's Divinity, and by consequence that of the Trinity, without which the other cannot be defended; he found it necessary to assert,
1st. That since the Jews, by Trypho's testimony, did own the Messias to be nothing more than mere man, therefore the Jewish authors, quoted by Dr. Bull against the Socinian opinions, must have lived after the preaching of the Gospel.
2dly. That the books that are quoted against them were written by some Christians in masquerade, that lived since Justin Martyr's time; and this he applies in particular to the works of Philo the Jew, and to the Book of Wisdom.
3dly. That since the Jewish authors could not possibly mention any thing like the doctrines of the Trinity, and of the Messias's being God too, to which they were such perfect strangers; whatsoever occurs in any of the ancient Jewish books, that favours those doctrines, must needs have been foisted in by the Christians after Justin Martyr's time.
Lastly, he supposes, that if any thing, either in the Scripture or Jewish authors, sounds that way, it probably came from the Platonics, of whom both Jews and Christians borrowed many notions, and mixed them with Christian doctrines, to persuade the Heathens the more easily to embrace the Christian religion.
Now though it seems unnecessary to dispute any further against him, having already clearly shewn, in my discussion of Mr. N.'s Judgment of the Fathers, that Justin Martyr was not the broacher of those doctrines, as Mr. N. pretends; yet I am will
ing to give a more full satisfaction to the world about it, by examining what either Mr. N. or any others have said or can say on this subject, and shewing that the bold answers to Dr. Bull's proofs concerning the opinion of the Jews before Christ about those doctrines, are not better than Mr. N's supposition, that Justin Martyr was the first that maintained those doctrines.
I was particularly induced to undertake this task, in hopes that by examining this matter to the bottom, I might set these controversies in their true light; shewing how little credit some divines do deserve, who, playing the critics, have favoured the modern Jews and the Socinians with all their might, and do mislead those who upon such ungrounded authority too rashly believe, that these fundamental doctrines of Christianity came from Plato's school; when on the contrary it is certain, that Plato himself, by conversing with the Jews in Egypt, borrowed of them the best notions he had of God.
To do this in the best method I can, I will first of all consider in general, what the Jewish tradition was before Christ: let the reader give me leave to use that word as the Fathers commonly use it; not for a doctrine unknown in Scripture, but for a doctrine drawn from Scripture, and acknowledged for the common faith of the Church; and I shall shew, that both before and after Christ, the Jews had a current way of expounding the Old Testament, which they had received from their fathers; and that Christ and his Apostles used and approved this way of expounding their Scriptures in many particulars.
2dly. I will examine the grounds the Jews went upon, to come to the understanding of the Old Testament, particularly of that part which contains the promises of the Messias, as they had it in Christ's time, and still have it to this day.
3dly. I will shew by some examples, that Christ and his Apostles did prove many articles of the Christian doctrine by this exposition, commonly received among the Jews; which thing they would hardly have done, had they had nothing else of their side, but only the letter of those places which they quoted.
This being premised in general as a necessary foundation, I shall particularly examine the authority of the apocryphal books of the Old Testament, and of the books of Philo the Jew that are extant, and of the Targum or the Chaldaic paraphrases on the books of the Old Testament; these being the chief helps by which we may find out the traditional sense of the Old Testament, as it was received in the synagogue before Christ's time. This is absolutely necessary to be done; for without proving the authority of those apocryphal books, of Philo, and of those paraphrases, we cannot with any force and weight use their testimony in this controversy, as I intend to do.
This being despatched, I shall prove clearly, that the Jews before Christ's time, according to the received expositions of the Old Testament, derived from their fathers, had a notion of a plurality of Persons in the unity of the Divine essence; and that this plurality was a Trinity. And further, that contrary to what Mr. N. bas imagined, the most learned amongst them have constantly retained those notions, though perhaps they were divided in their opinions about the Messias's Godhead, and the doctrine of the Trinity, as we do apprehend it.
And because, if it be granted that the Word was a Person, that goes a great way toward proving the doctrine of the Trinity; and the Socinians affirm, that it was not the uncreated Word, but a created angel, that appeared to men under the Old Testament dispensation, and was adored as being God's representative; I shall inquire what was the opin
ion of the ancient Jews concerning these matters; and shew, that they owned the Word to be a divine Person; and that it was that Word that appeared in the Old Testament; and consequently, that nothing is more false than what some Socinians teach after Grotius, (upon the Book of Wisdom, ch. xviii. 15.) grounding it upon his opinion of an angel's appearing and being adored; that therefore it was lawful for the Jews under the Old Testament to worship angels; but that afterwards it was first forbidden to Christians under the New; as namely, by St. Paul, Coloss. xi. 18.
And that the Socinians may have nothing left them to reply against this, I shall descend to particulars, and shew at large, that, according to the doctrine of the old synagogue, the Jews apprehended the Word as a true and proper Person; and held, that that Word was the Son of God; that he was the true God; that he was to be in the Messias; and that the Messias was promised under the Old Testament, as Jehovah; and accordingly the old synagogue expected that he should be Jehovah indeed.
It is of great moment to satisfy the world of these truths, and to make the Socinians sensible that they cannot truly profess the Christian religion without owning those doctrines, to which yet they seem to be so averse. Therefore I will go farther, and distinctly shew, that the whole Gospel is grounded on those very notions which the Jews before Christ entertained; that the first Christians after the Apostles exactly followed them; and that the Jews themselves, following generally those very notions upon the chief texts of the Old Testament which Christians quote in those controversies, bear witness, that they were the undoubted doctrines both of them and of the Christians before Justin Martyr's time.
The men that we have to do with, do very con