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7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Written at Light, that all men through him might believe. Ephesus.
Messiah of the Christian and Jew, or the Angel Jehovah of the
Old Testament; while, on the other hand, the Trinitarian
writers have considered him, from the age in which he lived, as
the great strength and support of their cause. The inconsis-
tency is plainly to be traced to this circumstance; Philo, as a
Jew, had imbibed all the opinions of the orthodox and learned
of his own countrymen, and believed with them and their
Church that the Logos was personal, and had been and could be
visible, both in his person and in his actions, and he has accord-
ingly, in some places, endowed his Logos with personal attri-
butes. But Philo was a philosopher also, and, with the assist-
ance of a very fertile imagination and fancy, devised the con-
ceptual Logos; which he delineates as something resembling
an abstract idea, which can be manifested only to the intellect.
In various parts of his work he has blended these descriptions,
and by confusing his own associations or trains of thought, he
confounds himself as well as his readers. But the book was
well known, and popular in the time of St. John: and the
Apostle, to correct the erroneous opinions of Philo, that the
Logos was conceptual, and in order to substantiate the un-
doubted personality of the Logos, begins his Gospel in these
simple but forcible words-the Word was made flesh-it was
not a conceptual Logos, as the philosophers vainly imagine; it
was a true and real Being, who took our nature, appeared in our
flesh-He was made flesh. He was tangible and visible, and we
beheld visibly his glory.
The same opinion of a double signification of the Logos, a
conceptual and a personal, has occurred to some of the German
Scripture critics. "In the phrase used by the Chaldee para-
phrasts, most critics suppose that nothing is comprehended but
a designation of the Deity: but it has been admirably demon-
strated, chiefly from the Targums, by Dr. Charles Aug. Theoph.
Keil (in the Essay de Doctoribus Vet. Eccl. culpâ corruptæ per
Platonicas Sententias Theologiæ liberandis) that the Jews, by
their Memra of Jah, designed to convey the notion of a Divine
Subsistence, which they held to be begotten of God, and to be
in the highest sense near and like to God. The same learned
writer shows that the doctrine of Philo contained the notion of
a two-fold Logos, the one comprehended in the divine intellect,
the other begotten of God: just as the conception in one's
mind is different from the word uttered in speech."-Rosen-
muller, in Joann. i. 1. The following abstract from the Ger-
man Commentaries of the celebrated Dr. H. E. G. Paulus, The-
ological Professor in the University at Jena, is given by Dr.
Kuincel, in the Prolegomena to his commentary on the Gospel
of John. "Paulus maintains that Philo was not the author of
this doctrine of the Logos as a subsistence emanating from God,
most like to God, and intimately united with him; but that it
was generally received, by the Jews of Alexandria, in the time
of Philo. He is of opinion that it was invented by the philoso-
phizing Jews of that city, with a view to obviate the arguments
of the Gentile philosophers, who defended their popular systems
of a multitude of inferior deities, by affirming that the care of
the material world, a particular Providence, and the govern-
ment of the affairs of men, were objects too low for the majesty
and purity of the Supreme Deity. He thinks that the Alexan-
drian Jews might the more readily adopt this opinion of the
Logos being an intelligent nature, because of their own doctrine
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness Written at of that Light. Ephesus.
of angels and guardian spirits, and because the Jews of Pales-
tine were in the habit of using, as expressions for the Divine
Being, the phrases Memra of Jah, Word of God, Wisdom of
God; as also they personified the Wisdom of God, Prov. viii. 22.
Therefore, as Paulus has observed, the form of expression &
Aoyos Tou Ocou, the Word of God, was used in the age of the
Evangelist John in a twofold sense. The Jews of Palestine
employed the expression merely as a periphrasis for the Deity,
and very often as a personification of the power and wisdom of
God. But, on the other hand, Philo, and with him many of the
Alexandrian Jews, understood by “The Word," an intelligent
subsistence, absolutely unique, an emanation from God, and
next to the Supreme God. Professor Paulus further remarks,
that the Evangelist did not deliver his doctrine of "The Word"
(as an intelligent nature, absolutely unique, emanating from
God, and next to God, and that this intelligent nature had
united itself with the man Jesus) because the Alexandrian Jews
professed the same sentiments with respect to their word; but
because Christ had in express terms made almost the identical
attributions of dignity and honour to himself, which those Alex-
andrians were accustomed to ascribe to their " Word of God."
Kuincel, vol. iii. p. 80. 82. Smith's Scripture Testimony, &c.
note c. to Chap. vii. Book ii. vol. i.
John Benedict Carpsovius and Stephen Nye, an English
clergyman, have also maintained the hypothesis of the twofold
notion of the Logos in Philo's writings. The one derived from
the doctrines of Plato, Νοῦς ὁ πάντων ἄιτιος—denoting merely
the conception formed in the divine mind, and then emanating
as a model from which the earth was to be framed. The other
doctrine is of a more exalted nature, and is derived from the
genuine Principles of the Jewish Religion (o).
The works of Philo had become so popular, that although the writer was a Jew, and therefore obnoxious to the Roman nation, they had been enrolled in the public libraries at Rome. From this circumstance we may infer that his ideas of the Word of God, the Jehovah Angel of the Old Testament, called by Philo, in his native language of Alexandria, Xóyos të 0ɛs, were as well known to the heathen or gentile converts, as the term , or Memrah Jab, or Word was familiar to the Jews of Palestine: and as the same actions in the Targums, and in the works of Philo are given to this divine Personage, which the Scripture itself ascribes to the Angel Jehovah, we may justly conclude that the Targumists and Philo, intended to express the same idea, and to give to the Jehovah of the Old Testament the attributes of Godhead, assigned to the Word. Philo confused the two ideas of a personal and conceptual Logos, because he derived his opinions from the two opposite sources of Heathenism and Judaism. The Logos of the Old Testament is plainly personal, the Logos of Heathenism conceptual. The same error was committed by the Targumists; their notions of a Logos being derived from two sources-one of which was from the corrupted, the other the purer traditions of their Fathers; and so confused was the popular opinion on this point, that we may almost say it was necessary, considering the importance of the subject, that an inspired teacher should correct the prevalent errors. St. John, therefore, writing at a period when the public opinions on the subject were so unsettled, begins his Gospel by declaring to the Jews, that both the Logos of one
9 That was the true Light which lighteth every man Written at that cometh into the world. Ephesus.
party, and the Memra Jah of the other, possessed the very same
attributes ascribed in the Jewish Scriptures to Jehovah, or the
Angel Jehovah, who the Evangelist asserts was in the beginning
with God-that all things were made by Him, and without Him
was not any thing made, that was made an article of faith which
the Jews and Philo alike acknowledged.
After establishing this truth, concerning which there may be
said to have been (excepting in the confounding a personal
and conceptual Logos) no real difference of opinion, St. John
proceeds to the application of the wonderful doctrine. He
proceeds to affirm that the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the
Memra Jah of the Targumists, the Logos of Philo, when rightly
explained, was the promised Messiah of the Christian Church
-that he had lived among them-that He had become flesh-
that they had beheld his glory, the glory of the only-begotten of
the Father (another title given by Philo to the Logos) full of
grace and truth (p).
The double signification of the word Logos, unavoidably produced many heresies and divisions in the Christian Church. The Church, says Tillemont (q), was from the beginning disturbed with two opposite heresies, each of which produced different sects. Simon, the founder of the Gnostics, or Docetæ, held two principles, and taught that our Saviour was man in appearance only. The other heresy was that of the Cerinthians, who embraced Christianity in part only. These acknowledged one principle, and one God; and the reality of the human nature in Jesus Christ: but they denied his Divinity, and were fond of the ceremonies of the law. Contrary as these opinions are to each other and to truth, the Cerinthians found means to unite them, and they were adopted in different forms, and with different variations by many others; to whom it will be necessary to allude.
It is possible that these contending opinions had begun to agitate the Church as early as the first date assigned to St. John's Gospel. But it is more probable that they did not become sufficiently formidable to disturb its peace till towards the conclusion of the first century, when the Gospel of St. John is more generally allowed to have been written. The time when Cerinthus lived is uncertain; but the earliest date assigned to him is after the year 70, with the exception of Baronius, who speaks of him as living within some few years after our Lord's ascension. Le Clerc asserts that he flourished in the year 80. Basnage 101. Lampe (r), from the discrepancies in the accounts of Irenæus, and Epiphanius, entertains the very erroneous opinion, that the Gospel of St. John was valued by the Ceriu thians; and endeavours to prove that Cerinthus was a heretic of the second century. Even this, however, does not invalidate the argument that St. John's Gospel was written to oppose the principles professed by Cerinthus; for they are said by Irenæus to have been inculcated by the Nicolaitans. Yet, as Irenæus, who asserted that St. John wrote against Cerinthus, was a disciple of Polycarp, who was personally acquainted with St. John; his testimony, which was given a hundred years after, appears most likely to be correct. The best evidence, therefore, that the scanty records of antiquity has handed down to us, corroborates the presumption that Cerinthus sowed the seeds of his principles during the life of the excellent Evangelist St.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
John, and, we might well suppose, that the Apostle would be
most anxious to refute and repress them.
Michaelis therefore observes, with equal force and justice, that
"if Irenæus had not asserted that St. John wrote his Gopel
against the Gnostics, and particularly against Cerinthus, the
contents of the Gospel itself would lead to this conclusion. The
speeches of Christ, which St. John has recorded, are selected
with a totally different view, from that of the three first evange-
lists, who have given such as are of a moral nature, whereas
those which are given by St. John are chiefly dogmatical, and
relate to Christ's divinity, the doctrine of the Holy Ghost, the
supernatural assistance to be communicated to the Apostles,
and other subjects of a like import. In the very choice of his
expressions, such as light, life, &c. he had in view the philo-
sophy of the Gnostics, who used, or rather abused these terms.
That the fourteen first verses of St. John's Gospel are merely
historical, and contain only a short account of Christ's history
before his appearance on earth, is a supposition devoid of all
probability. On the contrary, it is evident that they are purely
doctrinal, and that they were introduced with a polemical view,
in order to confute errors, which prevailed at that time re-
specting the person of Jesus Christ. Unless St. John had an
adversary to combat, who made particular use of the words
light,' and 'life,' he would not have thought it necessary, after
having described the Creator of all things, to add, that in him
was life, and the life was the light of men, or to assert that John
the Baptist was not that light. The very meaning of the word
light' would be extremely dubious, unless it were determined
by its particular application in the oriental Gnosis. For with-
out the supposition that St. John had to combat with an ad-
versary who used this word in a particular sense, it might be
applied to any divine instructor, who by his doctrines enlight-
ened mankind. Further, the positions contained in the four-
teen first verses are antitheses to positions maintained by the
Gnostics, who used the words λόγος, ζωη, φῶς, μονογενής, πλη-
pwpa, &c. as technical terms of their philosophy. Lastly, the
speeches of Christ, which St. John has selected, are such as
confirm the positions laid down in the first chapter of his Gos-
pel: and therefore we must conclude that his principal object
throughout the whole of his Gospel was to confute the errors of
the Gnostics." (s).
That we may understand the design and order of St. John's Gospel, it will be necessary to take a brief review of the tenets of Cerinthus, in opposition to which the evangelist purposely wrote it. This will not only reflect considerable light on particular passages, but make the whole appear a complete workregular, clear, and conclusive.
Cerinthus was by birth a Jew, who lived at the close of the first century: having studied literature and philosophy at Alexandria, he attempted at length to form a new and singular system of doctrine and discipline, by a monstrous combination of the doctrines of Jesus Christ with the opinions and errors of the Jews and Gnostics. From the latter he borrowed their Pleroma or fulness, their ons or spirits, their Demiurgus or creator of the visible world, &c. and so modified and tempered these fictions, as to give them an air of Judaism, which must have considerably favoured the progress of his heresy. He taught that the most high God was utterly unknown before the
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him Written at Ephesus. not.
appearance of Christ, and dwelt in a remote heaven called
Pleroma, with the chief spirits or Eons ;-That this supreme
God first generated an only begotten Son, who again begat the
Word, which was inferior to the first-born-That Christ was
a still lower æon, though far superior to some others-That
there were two higher æons, distinct from Christ; one called
Life and the other Light-That from the æons again proceeded
inferior orders of spirits, and particularly one Demiurgus, who
created this visible world out of eternal matter-That this
Demiurgus was ignorant of the supreme God, and much lower
than the Eons, which were wholly invisible-That he was,
however, the peculiar God and protector of the Israelites, and
sent Moses to them; whose laws were to be of perpetual obliga-
tion-That Jesus was a mere man, of the most illustrious sanc-
tity and justice, the real son of Joseph and Mary-That the
Eon Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove when he
was baptized, revealed to him the unknown Father, and em-
powered him to work miracles-That the Eon Light entered
John the Baptist in the same manner, and therefore that John
was in some respects preferable to Christ-That Jesus, after his
union with Christ, opposed himself with vigour to the God of
the Jews, at whose instigation he was seized and crucified by
the Hebrew chiefs, and that when Jesus was taken captive and
came to suffer, Christ ascended up on high, so that the man
Jesus alone was subjected to the pains of an ignominious
death; that Christ will one day return upon earth, and, renew-
ing his former union with the man Jesus, will reign in Palestine,
a thousand years, during which his disciples will enjoy the most
exquisite sensual delights.
Bearing these dogmas in mind, we shall find that St. John's
Gospel is divided into three parts, viz.
Part I. contains doctrines laid down in opposition to those of
Cerinthus, (John i. 1-18.)
Part II. delivers the proofs of those doctrines in an historical
manner, (i. 19. xx. 29.)
Part III. is a conclusion, or appendix, giving an account of the person of the writer, and of his design in writing his Gospel, (xx. 30, 31. xxi.)
Besides refuting the errors of Cerinthus and his followers, Michaelis is of opinion that St. John also had in view to confute the erroneous tenets of the Sabeans, a sect which acknowledged John the Baptist for its founder. He has adduced a variety of terms and phrases, which he has applied to the explanation of the first fourteen verses of St. John's Gospel, in such a manner as renders his conjecture not improbable. Perhaps we shall not greatly err if we conclude with Rosenmüller, that St. John had both these classes of heretics in view, and that he wrote to confute their respective tenets(1).
The Docete (u) taught that Christ was a man in appearance only, and not in reality. In opposition to these, St. John says, in his Epistles, which were published before his Gospel, Every spirit which confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God;" and, in his Gospel, "the Word was made flesh." From this sect originated the Ebionites, whom Bishop Horsley has proved to have a great affinity to the Simonians: observing, with equal force and truth, "that as the ancient Ebionæan doctrine passes by a single step, the dismission