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furnish materials for this work; and there is no subject so suitable for me to begin it with as the Divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
But I must first entreat the indulgence of all candid readers; for to accomplish such an undertaking as I have now proposed without defects and imperfections, is confessedly beyond my power. For, being the first that has attempted to treat of the subject, I am like a traveller entering a pathless desert: I must look up to God to be my guide, and pray for the power of the Lord to co-operate with me; for as to human aid, not the slightest vestiges can I find-scarcely a single footstep of any one who has gone. over the same ground before me, with the exception of a few historical fragments, which dropt incidentally from the pen of writers of different ages, and lie scattered here and there in their works, far apart, like distant fire-beacons on mountains and watch-towers, admonishing me which way to steer my course amidst surrounding danger and perplexity.
Selecting, therefore, from these scanty and widely dispersed materials, such as are to my purpose, I will endeavour to incorporate them into a regular historical narrative; and shall think myself fortunate if I can preserve entire the succession of the most eminent apostles in those churches which still retain their celebrity. The undertaking appears to be more especially necessary, because no ecclesiastical author has, so far as I can discover, laboured in this department; so that I hope it will be thought of considerable use, by all who take an interest in the study of history. There is indeed an epitome of it, or general outline, in my Chronological Canon*, but the narrative will in this work be more circumstantial, and as complete as possible. I shall begin it, as I before observed, with that part of the Divine dispensation which relates to the person of our Saviour Christ; though it is, indeed, of a sublime nature, beyond the comprehension of human reason; for since we derive our distinctive appellation from Christ, whosoever would write the history of His Church, must of necessity begin with that economy concerning himself personally, which is more Divine than many suppose.
Chap. II.—The Pre-existence and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
There being two natures in Christ, the Divine and human-one of which may be compared to the head of a body, the other to the feet-to begin with that which is pre-eminent and essential, will make the series of the narrative more perfect: it will also convince those of their mistake who deny that this religion has any thing ancient and divine in its original; asserting that it is absurd and unprecedented, nothing of the kind having ever appeared till very lately.
No words can give any adequate explanation of the generation, the dignity, the substance, and nature of Christ. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit says, in the books of the Prophets, "His generation who shall declare?" (Isa. liii. 8.) As no one knoweth the Father except the Son; so, on the other hand, no one can know the Son perfectly but the Father only, who begat him." (Matt. xi. 27.)
That Light which was before the world-that spiritual, essential Wisdom, which was prior to all ages and periods of time-that living Word, the Logos, which was God co-existing with the Father in the beginning, who but the Father can comprehend; being prior to every created being, visible or invisible; the first and only offspring of the Godhead; supreme commander of the spiritual and immortal host of heaven; the Messenger
This is a work of prodigious labour and erudition. It is preserved in a translation by St. Jerome; which translation, with some fragments of the original Greek, are to be found in Scaliger's Thesaurus Temporum. 3 Y
CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 381.
of the Great Council *; the executor of the ineffable decree of the Father; coadjutor of his Father in the creation of all things; the second cause of the universe, next after the Father; the genuine and only-begotten Son of God; the Lord and God and King of all the creation; who received from the Father authority and dominion in the same Godhead, power, and glory. According to that mysterious description of his Divinity which we find in Scripture (John i. 1, 3), "the Logos, or Word, existed in the beginning; was with God, and was God; all things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made." And Moses, that most ancient and inspired prophet, does likewise inform us, in his account of the creation, that the Supreme Author of all things committed the making of inferior beings to no other than this very Christ, his Divine and first-begotten Word; and that he communed with Him about the formation of mankind : for thus he writes; "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Gen. i. 26): which testimony is confirmed by another prophet, in the Book of Psalms (xxxiii. 9), when describing the attributes and works of God: "He spake, and they were made; he commanded, and they were created." Here the Father is introduced, as paramount and supreme Lord, issuing his imperial command, and the Son acting as administrator under his Father; the next to him in station, the Divine Logos, the very same whom we preach. But even from the beginning of the world he was acknowledged by all that were eminent for integrity and piety: not only the great minister Moses, but Abraham, long before him, and Abraham's descendants, a succession of righteous men and prophets, apprehended him by the distinct vision of the mind, and paid him the worship that was due to him as Son of God. And he himself, by no means neglecting the reverential piety which he owed to the Father, is appointed to be to all a teacher of the knowledge of the Father.
Now we are expressly told that the Lord God appeared in the likeness of a man to Abraham, as he was sitting under the oak at Mamre; for though with his eyes he saw nothing but a man, he immediately fell down and worshipped him as God, and made supplication to him as to the Lord. That he knew who it was, appears from his (afterwards) addressing him in these words; "Wilt not thou, the Judge of all the earth, do right?" For since no reasonable man can think the transformation of the uncreated, unchangeable essence of Almighty God into the likeness of man to be admissible doctrine; nor, on the other hand, that it is allowable to deceive the eyes of spectators by any apparition of a created being; nor that the Scriptures contain fictions of this nature; whom can we suppose this to be, that appeared in human form, yet as God and Lord and Judge of the whole earth-the first Cause of all things being necessarily excepted-what other person can be meant but his Word only, the same who existed before all things; and in the Psalms (cvii. 20) is thus spoken of: "He sent his Word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions?" The Lord, who holds this second place next to the Father, is distinctly acknowledged in these words of Moses : The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord." And when he appeared to Jacob, he again assumed the human form, and is then called God in the Holy Scripture; for it represents him as saying to Jacob, "Thy name shall be no more called Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name; for (as a prince†) thou hast power with God (and hast prevailed)." At which time, also,
Perhaps alluding to Zech. vi. 13: "The counsel of peace shall be between them Alluding to the emblematic wrestling, in which Jacob had just before prevailed over this mysterious Personage in human form; alluding also to the new name, Israel, which is compounded, in Hebrew, of a Prince, and God.
Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, the face or vision of God; saying, for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” We cannot fairly interpret these appearances of God, here described, as if they were appearances of such angels only as were servants and ministers of God; for when any of these did appear, the Scripture does not obscurely, but expressly, declare that angels, and not God, nor the Lord, were the bearers of the sacred message; which may be easily proved by many
Moreover, Moses's successor, Joshua, considers this same (Divine Person) as presiding over angels and archangels, and all the host of heaven; as being the Power and Wisdom of the Father; entrusted with the second post in the government of the universe. For which reason he denominates him Captain of the Lord's host," though he saw him in no other form or dress than that of a man; for thus it is written (Josh. v. 13—15): “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him, with his sword drawn in his hand and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay, but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot, for the place whereon thou standest is holy." Here it is evident, from the (last) words (of this quotation), that he who appeared to Joshua was the same Person who delivered the Divine oracles to Moses, because the Scripture applies the same language to him (Exod. iii. 4, 5) : "And when the Lord saw that he drew nigh to see, the Lord called to him out of the bush, saying, Moses, Moses: who answered, What is it? And He said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoe from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover, he said, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."
Now that this Person is a Being living and subsisting before the world, Administrator to the Father and God of the universe in the work of creation, denominated the Word and Wisdom of God, may be learned from what this Wisdom utters in its own person in confirmation of the preceding arguments; for thus it unfolds the mysteries concerning itself in these perspicuous words of Solomon (Prov. viii. 12, &c.): "I Wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of (witty) inventions.... By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth." Ver. 22 He proceeds thus: "The Lord possessed me (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...... When he prepared the heavens, I was there.....when he strengthened the fountains of the deep.... then I was by him, as one brought up* with him: and I was daily (his) delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth +." This may be sufficient to prove that the Divine Logos did exist before all things, and did appear to some, though not to all.
Now (the reason) why he was not preached formerly to all men and all nations as he now is, may be thus explained. The manner in which men
So the Hebrew: but the Septuagint and Eusebius apμotovca, arranging.' + 'Circuit of the earth,' Gesen. Lexicon; but Eusebius and others, rejoicing at the finishing of the earth.' Our English translation is copied in this quotation throughout.
It is surprising that Eusebius should break off at these words, when the next were so much to his purpose: "And my delights (were) with the sons of men."
lived in those early ages disqualified them for receiving doctrine such as Christ's, so pre-eminent in wisdom and virtue. For the first man, when he had enjoyed a short life of perfect felicity, did very soon after his creation disregard God's commandment, and fall into our present state of mortality and corruption; and exchange his former delightful and divine abode for this earth, which lies under a curse. And when his posterity had spread themselves through every part of our world, they became very degenerate, and, with the exception of here and there one, adopted a mode of life but little above the brute creation, and scarce worthy to be called life: neither city nor civil polity, neither art nor science, ever entered their imagination : for law and equity, for virtue and philosophy, they had not even appropriate names: they wandered in wild pastures and deserts, passing their time as savages and barbarians: with the most wilful and excessive depravity, they perverted their reasonable nature and eradicated every seed of intelligence and humanity, giving themselves up to a variety of iniquities, to mutual contamination, shedding the blood of their brethren and devouring their flesh. They dared to make war with heaven itself, as in the celebrated battles of the Giants; vainly imagining they could build walls on earth impregnable to the host of heaven*. To such an extreme of absurdity and madness did they proceed, as to wage war with the supreme God of the universe. Wherefore, as noxious matter infecting the whole earth, that watchful Inspector of all things assailed them with floods and fires, and cut them off by frequent famine and pestilence, by wars and thunder-storms; arresting by those sharp correctives the progress of this direful and most obstinate disease of the soul. When this superfluity of wickedness had overspread nearly all the earth, and besotted the minds of men as by a grievous intoxication, that first-begotten Wisdom of God, the pre-existent Word, out of his great love to mankind did sometimes reveal himself to these subjects of his, by visions of angels; sometimes by himself personally, as the saving power of God arrayed in human shape (which was the only possible way); a privilege this, however, confined to a few of the ancient saints and friends of God. But when, by the instrumentality of these, the seeds of piety had been widely diffused, so that one whole nation, sprung from the ancient race of the Hebrews, had this knowledge of God and his worship established among them—to that nation, as having much of their former corrupt institutions and manners still adhering to them—this Divine Word delivered, by the prophet Moses, certain emblematic and mystical institutions such as the Sabbath, circumcision, and other typical ordinances which did not exhibit the very image of the Prototype (but only the shadow thereof, or imperfect outline).
And when this legislation of theirs had become generally known, and like a fragrant odour had been widely diffused among mankind, there was transmitted from them to many nations, through the intervention of their respective lawgivers and philosophers, a civilization and humanity that corrected their rustic, ferocious, and brutal temper, and produced profound peace § and friendly intercourse. (At this stage in the progress of human affairs) the other nations of the world having received these preparatory benefits (from the Mosaic economy, through Pagan legislators and phi
He seems to refer to the tower of Babel, but he here blends Pagan mythology with Scripture history.
+ An indefensible limitation of the power of God.
For they in their travels became acquainted with the institutions of Moses, as Plato did in Egypt, and Solon before him. In the Præparatio Evang. of Eusebius this subject is largely treated, viz. that the Pagan Philosophers borrowed much from Moses.
All history contradicts this.
losophers), and being thereby made capable of knowing the supreme Father of the universe; then (there came forth from him) that Teacher of every virtue, the Executor of all his Father's gracious purposes, His divine Word (who had before so frequently interposed in human shape, but was) now really invested with the very same nature as ourselves in which nature he appeared at a time when the Imperial government had been lately established at Rome: in which nature also he did and suffered all that the Prophets had foretold he should; accomplishing all those wonderful works which became one who was to visit the earth both as God and man, and who was to be manifested to all nations as their Teacher in the religion and worship of the Father. The supernatural birth, also; the new doctrine and the miracles of the Messiah; the manner of his death; the resurrection from the dead; and, finally, the glorious return to heaven; were foretold in those prophecies, to which the history of this Divine Person does accurately correspond.
That he is to receive an universal kingdom at the conclusion (of this mystery), Daniel assures us in the following description of his vision, wherein heavenly things are depicted in such imperfect imagery as the human mind could furnish. "I beheld till the thrones were sett, and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool, his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire: a fiery stream issued and came forth from before him thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened," &c. [Here Eusebius passes over two verses]. "I saw," says the prophet, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (Dan. vii. 9, 10, 13, 14). It is evident that this prediction can be applied to no other but our Saviour, God the Word, who was in the beginning with God; who is here called the Son of man because of his incarnation in these latter ages. But, as I have already composed works more expressly on this subject, in which I have collected all the prophecies that bear testimony to our Saviour Jesus Christ, the short abstract here given may suffice for our present purpose. Chap. III.-That the name of Christ, and that of Jesus also, were known long ago, and honoured by inspired Prophets.
It will now be proper to demonstrate, that ancient prophets, men beloved by God, held the names of Jesus and Christ in great honour.
Moses was the first who made known the name "Christ" as worthy of the utmost veneration; for, after having delivered the types and symbols and mysterious emblems of heavenly things, in conformity to that command of the Oracle, "See thou make all things after the pattern shewed thee in the mount;" and after having assigned the office of God's high priest to a man (so far as that could lawfully be done), he gave that man the title of Christ, or Messiah, The anointed One. As he considered this dignity of the high-priesthood to be above every other degree of pre-eminence among
* But the Apostle Paul says "the world by wisdom knew not God." + So the Seventy, whom Eusebius quotes accurately: our translation renders the word "cast down:" this is a material difference, but the only one in the whole passage.
His books de Præparatione et Demonstratione Evangelica. De Valois justly observes, that the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius is hereby proved to be one of the latest of his works, which makes it the more valuable. Eusebius had before told us that the Chronological Canon also was composed before this history.