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if we consider how, with the increased misery of the people, their ardent desire to see their Deliverer appear speedily must have tried to find as many places in the Bible as possible warranting His arrival. So far from their being suppressed," (as has been unwarrantably stated), “they are most prominently, often most pointedly, brought forward. And there is a decided polemical animus inherent in them—temperate, as far as appearance goes, but containing many an unspoken word : such as a fervent human mind, pressed down by all the woes and terrors, written and unwritten, would whisper to itself in the depths of its despair. These passages extol most rapturously the pomp and glory of the Messiah to come, by way of contrast to the humble appearance of Christ; and all the places where suffering and misery appear to be the lot forecast to the Anointed, it is Israel, to whom the passage is referred by the Targum ” (Ibid., 373).
Dating the possible uprise of Christianity at a late period in the second century, there had passed over the heads of the Jewish people their last and crowning calamity, when Jerusalem was destroyed in the reign of Hadrian, and its inhabitants dispersed (1 Thess. ii. 16). There was an apparent end of all the high promises to be realized for the stock of Abraham, through the Messiah, with which they had fed themselves. It is not surprising that fervent spirits among this people, or those associated with them as proselytes, should have been led to recast these promises, and give them another solution. A remarkable exhibition of such an attempt occurs in the Epistle to the Galatians, where, with unsurpassable hardihood, the natural stock of Abraham are swept away in favour of an ideal progeny in Christ. “Now to Abraham,” says the writer, “and his seed were the promises made, He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.” Again, “And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.” It is an ingenious method of making a promise, which says one thing, to mean another ; but, after all, the device has no better foundation than what must be designated a quibble. It is doubtful whether the word you in the Hebrew has any plural form ; but if so used, whether in Hebrew or in Greek, the phrase would no more be applicable to human progeny, but mean vegetable seeds, as is also the case in our own language. The writer, in effect, stultifies himself in the last of the passages I have cited, by employing the word in the singular to denote “Abraham's seed.”
Assuming Christianity to have arisen on the basis of the Jewish hopes, and after the dispersion, its field, necessarily, was somewhere outside the limits of Judea ; and when we find all the writings of the early Christians, canonical, apocryphal, and patristic, recorded in the Greek language, and the citations therein from the Jewish scriptures ordinarily derived from the Greek version of the Septuagint, we are driven to ascribe to the movement some Greek centre; and, naturally, Alexandria suggests itself as the site of the new religious development.
“For many centuries the city of Alexandria was second in importance only to Rome. Commerce and literature were united within its walls in a close alliance, of which there has been no example, before or since. It was situated advantageously on the great highway of intercourse between the east and the west. Its mixed population, gathered from all lands, was the type of its intellectual system. It was connected with India on the one side, and on the other with Africa ; and it brought Syria, and Asia Minor, and Italy, into renewed relations. It possessed the beautiful Greek language, so copious and exact, so fit for the uses of poetry and science, which had spread along the shores of the Mediterranean, and through the Levant. Alexandria was in some respects a second Athens. There was the library and the museum, which attracted a concourse of learned men from Chaldea, and Persia, and Egypt itself. The east contributed its dreamy mysticism, and Greece its clear and graceful thought. ... For the Alexandrians all philosophy had its origin in Aristotle or Plato. ... The Pythagoreans had their influence. ... There was a strange mixture, at Alexandria, of people and opinions; Jews, who abounded in the city from the days of its founder, learned Platonism, while the heathens became acquainted with the Hebrew Scriptures ; and at the same time, the extensive intercourse with Asiatics, which followed the conquests of Alexander, introduced the Oriental doctrines ” (The Rev. S. Robins ; A Defence of Faith, 7-17).
Nothing is more apparent than that Christianity teems
# the creativPrakriti, Pragseigned it
with those elements abounding in the region we have in view, where Oriental, Greek, and Egyptian philosophies and mythologies, were presented to influence and feed the Jewish sentiment and aspirations, in aid of the development of the new form of faith, which, on the wreck of the old hopes, in the times we treat of, was gradually and tentatively launched upon the attention of mankind.
It was a very ancient idea, belonging to the early Hindú theorists, that the Supreme Being was too purely spiritual to operate directly in putting into form those grosser materials with which all terrestrial objects are constructed. It was thought necessary, therefore, to devise some intermediate agency for carrying out the creative processes. The task was committed severally to Brahmá, Prakriti, Prajapati, Manu, and Vishnu. The Egyptians, similarly, have assigned it to Pthah and Cneph, and the Greeks have done so, as respects the human race, to Prometheus and Deucalion. The express agency for these operations in the western theologies is what is termed the Word of God, a species of deification traceable to the east. The goddess Vach (vox) is its form with the Aryans. She is called in the Rig-veda “the speech of the primeval spirit,” and is said to be the daughter of Brahma (Rowland Williams, Christianity and Hinduism, 100). The early Christians show themselves to have had a knowledge of this source of ideality. The Bráhmans, says Hippolytus, term “ discourse” God, and describe him as corporeal (Refutation of all Heresies, I. xxi). The image occurs again in the Aryan Manu (mens), the embodiment of the intelligence or wisdom of the Diety. We recognize in these conceptions the Logos of the Pythagoreans and Platonists, who were confessedly indoctrinated from the east. These ideas passed on to the Jews likewise. By the wisdom of God, and the fiat of his word, the heavens and the earth, it was seen, had been established (Ps. xxxiii. 6; Pro. iii. 19; Jer. li. 15); and it was easy to give the power a personality. “The Lord possessed me,” it is said, “ in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth : while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there : when he set a compass upon the face of the depth : when he established the clouds above : when he strengthened the fountains of the deep : when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth : then I was by him, as one brought up with him : and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him " (Prov. viii. 22-30). The “ Wisdom of Solomon," one of the apocryphal books, is much occupied with the subject. The attribute of wisdom is personified, and then it is observed, “What she is, and how she came up, I will tell you, and will not hide mysteries from you : but I will seek her out from the beginning of her nativity, and bring the knowledge of her into light, and will not pass over the truth” (vi. 12-22). “She is the breath of the power of God, ... the image of his goodness ” (vii. 25, 26). “And wisdom was with thee: which knoweth thy works, and was present when thou madest the world ” (ix. 9). The consolidation of the image proceeded until it assumed the characteristics of a divine sonship. “I was my father's son,” it is said, “tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother” (Prov. iv. 3.) “Who hatb ascended up into heaven, or descended ? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment ? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and wbat is his son's name, if thou canst tell ?" (Prov. xxx. 4). “I will declare the decree : the Lord hath said unto me, thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee” (Ps. ii. 7). Such a divine personage Daniel describes moving about in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, whose “form,” he said, “ was like the Son of God;" and such an image would readily assume the proportions of the expected Messiah.
The Book of Enoch, an apocryphal work supposed to be of about B.C. 50 (Colenso, IV. 309), shows the advance of the Jewish mind to this ultimate stage. It is a production describing “the person and the times of the Messiah,” gathering together “the scattered allusions of the Old Testament in one grand picture of unspeakable bliss, unalloyed virtue, and unlimited knowledge ” and representing the Messiah, “not only as the king, but as the judge of the world, who has the decision over ererything on earth and in heaven.” He is “ the Son of God, the Elected One, the Prince of Righteousness; he is gifted with that wisdom which knows all secret things; the spirit in all its fulness is poured out on him; his glory lasts to all eternity; he shares the throne of God's majesty; kings and princes will worship him, and will invoke his mercy; he pre-existed before all time; ' before the sun and the signs were made; and the stars were created, his name was already proclaimed before the Lord of all spirits ;''before the creation of the world he was elected ;' and although still unknown to the children of the world, he is already revealed to the pious by prophecy, and is praised by the angels in heaven” (Ibid. IV. 311, 312). This work is quoted by Jude under the supposition that it comes from the alleged true Enoch, the seventh descendant from Adam, and its phraseology is easily traceable in the canonical Christian gospels and epistles which have liberally made use of it.*
Philo Judæus is an exponent of Jewish religious thought in the times before us, in the region of Alexandria, the apparent birthplace of the Christian philosophy. He occupied himself much with discourses on the Jewish scriptures, which he allegorizes with the utmost freedom; and being so imbued with Grecian doctrines as to be accounted a follower of Pythagoras and Plato (Euseb. Ec. Hist. IV. 4), we have in him that combination of Jewish and Grecian sentiment which enters so largely into the composition of the Christian Logos. On this subject he dilated with a zest proportionate to the zeal which animated him, and the liberty he gave himself in the flow of thought. “I am not ashamed,” he observes, “to relate what has happened to myself, which I know from having experienced it ten thousand times. Sometimes, when I have desired to come to my usual employment of writing on the doctrines of philosophy, though I have known accurately what it was proper to set down, I have found my mind barren and unproductive, and have been completely unsuccessful in my object, being indignant at my mind for the uncertainty and vanity of its then existing opinions, and filled with amazement at the power of the living
* “ The Bible: is it the Word of God ? " 50-53.