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Clemens Alexandrinus commends Plato as “ having made the end of man to be to resemble God, whereas the Stoics said that it was to live according to nature.”* Origen also commends Plato as having made happiness to consist in the greatest likeness to God possible. f Justin Martyr speaks of Plato as teaching that the world was made by the word of God, out of the things that Moses spake of, meaning probably the chaos, I and that the soul of man is immortal. S
The Christian writers, however, are ready enough to acknowledge that they did not adopt the principles of Plato indiscriminately. Origen says, that “in some things philosophy agrees with the law of God, and in other things is contrary to it; for many of the philosophers say that there is one God, who made all things; and some of them have added, that God made and governs all things by his word." || “In saying that all things were made and disposed by God, Justin Martyr says, “ we agree with Plato, and in respect to the conflagration, with the Stoics." And in a later period, when it was perceived that the heretics availed themselves of the principles of Plato, some of the orthodox fathers were sensible of their mischievous tendency. Thus Jerome says, “ The vain words of the philosophers, which in the doctrines of Plato, kill the infants of the church, are turned into divine vengeance and blood to them." **
We have the most direct evidence of some of the most distinguished writers among the Christians being charmed with the doctrines of Plato, but especially Justin Martyr, who seems to have been the first who applied the principles of that philosophy to the advancement of the personal dignity of Christ, and to enlarge his sphere of action in the world.
* Εντευθεν οι μεν Σιωικοι, το τελος της φιλοσοφιας, το ακολgθως τη φυσει ζην, ειρηκασι. Πλαίων δε, όμοιωσιν Θεώ, ώς εν τω δευτερο παρεςησαμεν Σίρωμαλι. Strom. L. V. p. 594. (P.)
+ Την δε ευδαιμονιαν ειναι φησιν ομοιωσιν Θεω, κατά το δυνατον. Ρhilocalia, p. 127. (P.)
! Ωςε λογω Θε8 εκ των υποκειμενων και προδηλωθενίων δια Μωσεως γεγενησθαι τον σαντα κοσμον, και Πλατων, και οι ταυτα λεγονίες, και ημεις εμαθομεν, και υμεις πεισθηναι Evyaota. Apol. i. p. 86. (P.)
9 Και μεν Πλατων, ψυχη σασα αθαναλο», κεκραγε λεγων. Ad Grecos, p. 7. (Ρ.) i “ Philosophia enim neque ju omnibus legi Dei contraria est, neque in omnibus
Multi enim philosophorum unum esse Deum, qui cuncta creaverit, scribunt. In hoc consentiunt leges Dei. Aliquanti etiam hoc addiderunt, quod Deus cuncta per verbum suum et fecerit, et regat, et verbum Dei sit quo cuncta moderentur.” Opera, I. p. 46. (P.)
“I Tα γαρ λεγειν ημας υπο Θεα παντα κεκοσμεισθαι και γεγενησθαι, Πλατωνος δοξομεν λεγειν δογμα" τω δε εκπυρωσιν γενεσθαι, Στωικων. Apol. Ι. p. 31. (Ρ.)
** “ Vana philosophorum verba, quæ in doctrinis Platonicis ecclesiæ parvulos interimebant, in ultionem divinam illis conversa est, et in cruorem." In Ps. Ixxvii. pera. YIL n. 97, (P.)
Marks of Justin's fondness for this philosophy appear in many parts of his writings; and is not to be wondered at, as he had been addicted to it before he came to be a Christian. * He says,
“ The notion of incorporeal things, and the doctrine of ideas, charmed me.”+ What mischief was done to the Christian system by this doctrine of ideas will presently appear.
Athenagoras taught the Platonic philosophy, in public, at Alexandria, and almost all the eminent writers among the Christians, of that and the following age, are well known either to have been educated there, or to have acquired a fondness for the philosophy that was taught both there and at Athens at the same time.
Austin, speaking of the principles of Plato, says, that “ by changing a few words and sentences, the Platonists would become Christians, as many of those of later times have done.” He says, that “ he learned in some books of the Platonists, translated into Latin, though not in so many words, the doctrine of the Logos, as contained in the introduction to the Gospel of John; that it was with God, and was God, and that the world was made by it, &c. but not the doctrine of the incarnation.”
I am ready enough to join with these Christian writers in their admiration of many things in the philosophy of Plato, compared with other systems existing at the same time, and wish that they could be detached from the rest of the system, in which there is so much confusion and absurdity, as I have clearly pointed out. But, unhappily, these admirers of Plato carried their admiration much too far; and as we have seen, in the case of Justin and Austin, were more particularly struck with that very part of this system, namely, that concerning the doctrine of ideas, and the Divine
yap αυτος εγω τοις Πλατωνο» χαιρων διδαγμασι. Αpol. ΙΙ. p. 127. (Ρ.) + Και με ηρει σφοδρα ή των ασωματων νοησις, και η θεωρια των ιδεων ανεπτερα μοι την ppornoır. Dial. p. 141. (P.)
1 “ Et paucis mutatis verbis atque sententiis Christiani fierent, sicut plerique recentiorum nostrorumque temporum Platonici fecerunt.” De Verâ Religione, C.iv. Opera, I. p. 704. (P.)
§ “ Procurasti mihi per quendam hominem immanissimo typho turgidum, quosdam Platovicorum libros ex Græca lingua in Latinam versos: et ibi legi: non quidem his verbis, sed hoc idem omnino multis et multiplicibus suaderi rationibus, quod in principio erat verbum, et verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat verbum : hoc erat in principio apud Deum, omnia per ipsum facta sunt, et sine ipso factum est nihil quod factum est: in eo, vita est, et vita erat dux hominum, et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebræ eam non comprehenderuut.” Confess. Operu, 1.
“ Item ibi legi quia Deus verbum non ex carne, non ex sanguine, non ex voluntate viri, non ex voluntate carnis, sed ex Deo natus est. Sed quia verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis non ibi legi.” Ibid. (P.)
intellect, nous or logos, in which the greatest darkness and absurdity belonging to it is found. The reason was, that this part of the system, having been previously adopted by Philo, furnished them with a pretence for representing their Master in a more reputable light than that of a mere man, who had no higher origin than being born in Judea. In what manner they availed themselves of the doctrine of Plato for this purpose, will be seen after I have represented what they imagined the principles of Plato, with respect to the logos and other things connected with it, to have been.
I shall begin with observing, that even the Christian fathers do not uniformly represent the principles of Platonism as very favourable to their doctrine of the personification of the logos. For sometimes they describe those principles as admitting of no more than one proper mind, and that belonging to the Supreme Being, or the first cause ; the second principle being nothing more than his ideas. “ Plato's three principles," says Justin Martyr, “ are God, and matter, and idea : God, the maker of all things; matter, which was prior to all production, and which furnished materials for it; and idea, the pattern of every thing that was made.”* Clemens Alexandrinus also says, that “ Plato considered idea as the mind of God, the same that barbarians call the logos of God;" † and observing that Plato speaks of one lawgiver, and one master of music, he says, that by this he taught that there is but one logos and one God. Í Tertullian says, that “ according to Plato, ideas are invisible substances, incorporeal, supermundane, divine and eternal, the forms, patterns and causes of visible things, which are subject to the senses.” § Origen, if the Philosophumena be his, expresses this sentiment still more plainly: “ The pattern,” says he,“ is the mind of God, which he also calls idea, by attending to which in his mind, God made all
Πλαίωνος τρεις αρχας τα πανθος ειναι λεγοντος, Θεον και ύλην και ειδου: Θεον μεν, τον παντων ποιητην ύλην δε, την υποκειμενην τη πρωτη των γεννωμενων γενεσει, και την τροφασιν αυτα της δημιοργιας παρεχασαν ειδο» δε, το έκας8 των γενομενων παραderypa. Ad Græcos, p. 7. (P.)
+ Η δε ιδεα, εννοημα το Θεε, όπερ οι βαρβαροι λογον ειρηκασι το Θεε. Strom. L. 1. p. 553. (P)
1 Ως και Πλατων, εν τω πολιτικω, ένα τον νομοθείην φησιν εν δε τοις νομοις ένα τον συνεσοντα των μοσικων· δια τετων διδασκων τον λογον ειναι ενα, και τον Θεον ένα. Ιbid. L. i. p. 356. (P.)
$ * Vult enim Plato esse quasdam substantias invisibiles, incorporales, supermundiales, divinas, et æternas; quas appellat ideas, id est formas, exempla, et causas naturalium istorum manifestorun), et subjaceutium corporalibus sensibus : et illas quidem esse veritates, hæc autem imagines earum." De Animâ (Sect. xviii.), p. 276. (P.)
“ Plato's three principles are God, matter, and the pattern." +
These appear to me to have been the genuine principles of Platonism, stripped of all figure; and thus understood, no harm could have resulted from them. But this plain state of things would not content the Christian philosophers; as nothing could be made of it to favour their great purpose, namely to make something more of Christ than a mere man, whose existence commenced with his birth. They soon began to dwell more on the personification of the divine nous or logos (which was originally conceived to be nothing more than a storehouse of ideas) than the Platonists themselves had ever done; and they took an evident pleasure in giving this turn to the principles of Platonism. Indeed, Plato's doctrines had always been variously interpreted, as Origen has observed. “ How can he,” says he,“ pretend to know every thing of Plato, when his interpreters differ so much among themselves ?" Platonism, therefore, being capable of various constructions, it was natural for the Christian fathers to give it that dress which best suited their purpose.
Justin Martyr, the first of the platonizing Christians, did not content himself with that plain and just account of the principles of Platonism, which has been described above, though he does not seem to ascribe so much to Plato as others did. He says, that “ Plato learned from Moses what he called a third principle, viz. the spirit, (which, Moses said, moved upon the face of the waters,) for he gives the second place to the logos, which was with God, and the third to the spirit, which is said to have moved upon the waters.”
There is more of personification in the following account of the principles of Plato by Tertullian : “ We have said that God formed the world by his word, reason, and power. According to your philosophers, also, the logos, that is, the sermo and ratio, was the maker of the universe. Zeno calls
* Το δε παραδειγμα την διανοιαν τε Θεα ειναι, o και ιδεαν καλει, διον εικονισματι προσεχων εν τη ψυχη ο Θεος τα παντα εδημιεργει. Philosophumena, p. 110. (Ρ.)
* Πλατων αρχας ειναι το απαντος Θεον και υλην και παραδειγμα. Ιbid. p. 108. (Ρ.)
1 Η θαρρησει, ότι παντα οιδε τα Πλατωνος" τοσείων οσων διαφωνιων και παρα τους Ernye uerois auta; In Celsum, L. i. p. 11. (P.)
5 Και το ειπειν αυτον τριτον, επειδη, ως προειπομεν, επανω των υδατων ανεγνω υπο Μωσεως ειρημενον επιφερεσθαι τοτε Θεα πνευμαδευλ εραν μεν γαρ χωραν τω παρα Θεα λογα, δν κεχιασθαι εν τω σανλι εφη, διδωσι την και τριτην, τη λεχθεντι επιφερεσθαι το υδατι πνευματι, ειπων. Apol. i. p. 87. (Ρ.) YAL. YIL
him the person that formed all things. The same which is called fate and God, and the mind of Jupiter, and the necessity of all things." * Origen says, the Brachmans acknowledged the logos for a God. +
Constantine, commending the doctrine of Plato, says, that “ besides the principal God, he made a second God, subservient to him, being two in number, but both one in perfection; the substance of the second god being derived from that of the principal one, and being the immediate maker and governor of all things, I subject to the order of the first, and referring the origin of all things to him. The logos himself being God, is likewise the Son of God. For what other appellation besides that of Son can be given him without great impiety? For he who is the Father of all, is justly called the Father of his own logos. So far Plato thought justly.”
Thus it should seem, that as Christians advanced in their doctrine of the personification of the Logos, they ascribed it to Plato with more confidence than those who had gone before them. “ You speak,” says Austin, “ of a Father and his Son, whom you call the Divine intellect or mind, and the middle principle between these, by whom we suppose you mean the Holy Spirit; and, after your manner, you call
* “ Jam ediximus Deum universitatem hanc mundi verbo et ratione et virtute molitum. Apud vestros quoque sapientes, AOFON, id est, sermonem atque rationem constat artificem videri universitatis. Hunc euin Zeno determinat factitatorem, qui cuncta in dispositione formaverit. Eundem et fatum vocari, et Deum, et animum Jovis, et necessitatem omnium rerum." Apol. Seçt, xxi. p. 19. (P.) See Reeves, I, p. 256.
† Aai esu AUTOSS O: Qu horou. Philosophumena, p. 159. Τελον δε τον λογον, ον Θεον ονομαζασιν. Ιbid, p. 164. (Ρ.)
“The Doctor's version refers these characters to him whom Plato calls the second God, and whose substance, he says, “is derived from the principal one." I am inclined to think that, according to the Greek of this quotation, they ought rather to be referred to the principal one, whon Plato styles ó apula, Ę du å δευτερο» ΘεG- εχει την υπαρξιν της ασιας. Ο δημιουργός και διοικησης των ολων is here marked out by a character which must in strict propriely belong to the principal one, Endovoto útEDRYC6tbymes, that is, as I understand it, and so I find Valesins translates it, being transcendent in dignity; and it seems to be expressly distinguished from ο μετ' εκεινον, ταις εκεινε (τα πρωτε) προςαξεσιν υπεργησας. When the νες is spoken of as the immediate creator, w posexins is often added to express this idea. See quotation from Cyril, and the quotation from the same page.' Anon. See supra, pp, 101, 102, Note.
και “Υπεδαξε δε τελω και δευτερον" και δυο εσιας των αριθμών διειλε, μιας εσης της αμφοτερων τελειότητας, της τε ασιας το δευτερα Θει την ύπαρξιν εχυσης εκ το πρωτο αυτος γαρ εςιν ο δημιθργος, και διοικητής των όλων, δηλονότι υπεραναβεβηκως και δε μετ' εκεινον ταις εκεινα προςαξεσιν υπεργησας, την αιτιαν της των πανίων συνασεως εις εκεινον αναπεμπει.
“Ο δε λογος αυτος Θεος ων, αυτος τυχανει και Θεε ααιςσοιον γαρ αν τις ονομα αυτο περιλιθεις παρα την προσηγοριαν το παιδος, εκ αν τα μεγινα εξαμαριανοι και ο γαρ τοι των σαντων πατηρ, και τα ιδια λογα δικαιως αν πατηρ νομιζοιτο. Μεχρι μεν εν τεΐe Πλατων oudpar my. Oratio, C. ix. p. 684. (P.)