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Cyril of Alexandria, descanting on this text, says, " They who were not renewed by the new rule of living and the new doctrine of the Spirit, to them the recent preaching of the Gospel, and the sublime mystery of the Trinity, was not to be delivered. Justly, therefore, was the interpretation of higher things reserved to the future renovation of the Spirit. That before the resurrection of the Saviour, and the coming of the Spirit, the disciples were as Jews, is easy to prove. Austin, however, says, that “the doctrine of the divinity of Christ could not be one of the things that Christ: would not reveal, because they were not able to bear it, though some had said so.” † And yet this writer himself, as we shall see, acknowledges that the divinity of Christ was not taught with clearness, till it was done by the apostle John., Origen supposed that the things which our Saviour referred to were what related to the abolishing of the Jewish law. But he thought that John was the person who first taught the doctrine of Christ's
preexistence and divinity..
Before I proceed to consider what the fathers thought of the apostles' sentiments and conduct on the day of Pentecost, I shall take notice of another reason which they give for the care that was taken to conceal the knowledge of our Lord's divinity, which was to deceive the Devil, lest he, knowing him to be the Messiah, should not have ventured to encounter him, and so, not being conquered by him, and especially by means of his death, the great object of his mission would not have been gained.
This thought first occurs in epistles ascribed to Ignatius, who
says, “ The virginity of Mary, her delivery, and his death, were concealed from the prince of this world.” Jerome says, that both the demons and the devil rather suspected than knew the Son of God. * Chrysostom, speaking of the mystery of the incarnation being concealed from many, says,
" Quia enim nondum nova vivendi norma, novaque doctrina per Spiritum reformati sunt, iis prædicatio evangelii recens, et mysterium Trinitatis subline tradendum non est. Jure igitur renovationi per Spiritum futuræ, altiorum rerum interpretatio reservatur. Quod autem aate resurrectionem Salvatoris, et ante Spiritûs adventum, Judaice discipuli vivebant, facillimum est probare." In Johan. L. xi. C. xli. Opera, I. p. 963. (P.)
p" In principio erat verbum, et verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat verbum, hoc erat in principio apud Deum, et alia quæ sequuntur, quoniam postea scripta sunt, nec ea Dominum Jesu dixisse narratum est cum hic esset in carne, sed hæc unus ex apostolis ejus ipso ac spiritu ejus sibi revelante conscripsit: ex his esse quæ noluit tunc Dominus dicere, quia ea discipuli portare non poterant, quis me audiat tam temere ista dicentem." In Johan.: Tr. xcvi. C. xvi. Opera, IX. p. 478. (P.). 1 Ad Celsum, L. ii. p. 57. (P.)
Και ελαθε τον αρχοντα του αιώνος τατου η παρθενια Μαριας, και ο τοκελος αυτης, ομοιως και ο θαναλος του κυριου, τρια μυςηρια κραυγης, άτινα εν ησυχια Θεου επραχθη, Ad Eph. Scct. xix. p. 16. (P.)
Why do I say many? Mary herself, when she carried him. in her womb, did not know the secret. And why do I say men? The Devil himself did not know it, for if he had known it, he would not afterwards have asked him
the mount, saying, If thou art the Son of God; and he did this once, twice, and three times. On this account he said to John, who was beginning to reveal him, Hold now; that is, be silent now. It is not yet time to reveal the secret of the incarnation; I must yet deceive the Devil; keep silence now, for thus it becomes us.”+ Again, he says, “ The Devil was at a loss to know whether Christ was God or nur. . There is something pleasant in the manner in which the fathers sometimes speak of the Devil being deceived by the humanity of Christ. Cyril of Jerusalem says, “ It was necessary that Christ should suffer for us, but the Devil would not have come near him, if he had known this; for 'had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glorify, i Cor. ii. 8. The body, therefore, was the bait of death, that the dragon, thinking to swallow it down, might vomit up all that he had swallowed.”
Ruffinus also represents the divinity of Christ as concealed within his humanity, to catch the Devil as with a bajt; and to prove this, he adduces many passages of the Old Testament, especially that of Ezekiel: “I will draw thee out with my look," &c. ||
Theodoret says, that Christ concealed his divinity in his temptation by the Devil; and says, that when the Devil
* “ Tam dæmones quam diaboli suspicari magis Filium Dei, quam nosse intelligendi sunt." In Matt. C. viii. Opera, VI. p. 12. (P.)
* Και τι λεγω της πολλές, όπε γε ουδε αυτη η κυοφορεσα παρθενος ηδει το απορρητον. Και τι λεγω ανθρωπες, και αυτον τον διαβολον ελανθανεν ουδε γαρ αν, ειπερ ηδει, ηρωτα αυτον μετα τοσε7ον χρονον επι το ορες, Ει υιος ει τα Θεου, και απαξ, και δις και τριλον τελο εποιει· διο και τω Ιωαννη ελεγεν αρξαμενω αυτον εκκαλυπτειν' αφες αρτιτοτεςι, σιγα νυν, εδεπω καιρος του γαρ εκκαλυφθηναι το απορρητον της οικονομιας, ετι λανθανειν τον διαβολον βελομαι σιγα τοινυν φησι έτω γαρ πρεπον εςιν ημιν. Ιη Ρε. xlix. Opera, ΙΙΙ. p. 289. (Ρ.)
1 Εν αμηχανια λοιπον ην, και ετε ότι ανθρωπος ην ψιλος πιςεύσαι ηδυναίο, δια τα περι αυτε λεχθενία" εδε αυ παλιν παραδεξασθαι, ότι υιος ην του Θεου, δια το βλεπεις αυτον WEirwyla. In Matt. Opera, VII. p. 119. (P.)
9 Εδει παθειν υπερ ημων τον κυριον, αλλ' ουκ αν ετολμησε προσελθειν ο διαβολος, ει ηδει τελον: ει γαρ εγνωσαν, ουκ αν τον κυριον της δοξης εςαυρωσαν" δελεαρ τοινυν το θανατου γεγονε το σωμα, ένα ελπισας καταπιειν ο δρακων, εξεμεση και τες ηδη κατασοθεντας. Ista. xxv. 8, Cat. xii. Opera, p. 155. (P.)
11 " Ita et is qui habet mortis imperium, rapuit quidem in morte corpus Jesu, non sentiens in eo hamum divinitatis inclusum; sed ubi devoravit, hæsit ipse continuo, et diruptis inferni claustris, velut de profundo extractus, trahitur ut esca cæteris fiat." ' In Symbol, Opera, p. 179. (P.)
heard him speak as a man, he was encouraged to proceed with the temptation. He represents him as saying, “I heard the voice that came down from heaven, calling you the Son of God, but I shall not believe it till it appear by
Job the Monk also says, “ It was necessary that the mystery of the incarnation of the logos should be concealed, both to make it more acceptable to the hearers, and also to deceive the Devil.”+
Basil of Seleucia says, that “ though the demons called Christ the Son of God, they did not know that he was God, because all very good men are called sons of God, and Israel is called his first-born.”
It was objected, that it was wrong in God to conquer the Devil by deceiving him, the divinity of Christ being concealed under his human nature; but Gregory Nyssen replies, that " it was fair enough to deceive the deceiver."
If it was imagined to be necessary that the Devil, whose cunning and penetration were never thought very lightly of, should remain ignorant of our Lord's divinity, he must, no doubt, have concealed it with the greatest care, and have conducted himself in the most cautious manner. If the Devil was not able to discover any thing of the matter, how could men find it out, and especially Jews, whose most sanguine expectations from the Messiah went no farther than to a man, born like other men ? Certainly they who thought that the Devil continued ignorant of the pre-existence and divinity of Christ till after his death, must have thought that all the Jews, and our Lord's disciples, were ignorant of those doctrines. If, as Chrysostom says, it was particularly necessary to conceal this great secret from our Lord's disciples, lest they should have published it through joy, and also from his enemies, and the Devil, lest they should have counteracted the design of his coming, we may take it for granted, that, in the opinion of the writers who have given us these representations, it was no more suspected at the time of
Κρυπτει μεν την θεοτηλα-ουκ απηγόρευσε την νικην ακεσας ως ανθρωπG- ειη. Της μεν γαρ ανωθεν ελθεσης φωνης ηκέσα, φησι, τελο σε καλεσεσης, απιςω δε, έως αν λαβω την σειραν διδασκαλoν. Opera, V. p. 46. (Ρ.)
+ Αναγκαιον δε ην το επισκιαζεσθαι το μυςηριον της το λογα σαρκώσεως δια δε το γενεσθαι τους ακροωμενοις ευπαραδεκτον, και ένα τα σκοτες τον αρχοντα λαθη. Photi Bib. Sect. ccxxii. p. 822. (P.)
1 Υιον μεν Θεου καλεσι' Θεον δε τεως τον υιον ουκ επισανlαι υιοι γαρ θεου κεκληνται, και οι δι' αρελης ακροτηλα την προς Θεον εχονίες οικειότητα: έτω το πρωτολοκος γιος με Ισ. pana. Or. xxiii. p. 128. (P.)
6 Η μεν γαρ κατ' αξιαν αντιδοσις, δι' ής και απατεων ανταπαταιαι το δικαιον δεικoυσιν. Or. ii. Opera, Il. p. 515. (P.).
Christ's death, that he had even pre-existed, or that he had had any thing to do in the making or governing the world, than that he was to be so great a personage before he was born.
Let us now see in what manner the apostles were supposed to have conducted themselves in this respect after our Lord's ascension, and after the descent of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
CHAPTER IV. Of the Testimony of Athanasius to the Caution with which the
Apostles divulged the Doctrines of the Pre-existence and Divinity of Christ.
As the testimony of Athanasius, on account of his known orthodoxy, and of course his unwillingness to make any needless concessions to his adversaries, may be thought to have more weight than any other, I shall, in the first place, prodụce it; and, as exceptions have been made to it, I shall shew, that, independent of any concurrent testimony of others of the fathers, who have mentioned the subject, and which I shall produce hereafter, it clearly proves that, in his idea, the apostles thought it necessary to use great caution in divulging to the Jews so offensive a doctrine as that of the divinity of Christ; though, in consequence of their caution on this head, the Jewish Christians did in their age continue Unitarians, believing Christ to be nothing more than a mere man, and also propagated the same doctrine among the Gentile converts. The passage itself is as follows:
“ Will they affirm,” says he, “ that the apostles held the doctrine of Arius, because they say that Christ was a man of Nazareth, and suffered on the cross? Or, because they used these words, were the apostles of opinion that Christ was only a man, and nothing else? By no means: this is not to be imagined. But this they did as wise masterbuilders, and stewards of the mysteries of God; and they had this good reason for it. For the Jews of that age, being deceived themselves, and having deceived the Gentiles, thought that Christ was a mere man, only that he came of the seed of David, resembling other descendants of David, and did not believe either that he was God, or that the word was made flesh. On this account the blessed apostles, with great prudence, in the first place, taught what related to the
humanity of our Saviour, to the Jews, that having fully persuaded them, from his miraculous works, that Christ was come, they might afterwards bring them to the belief of his divinity, shewing that his works were not those of a man, but of God. For example, Peter having said, that Christ was a man who had suffered, immediately added, he is the prince of life. In the Gospel he confesses, • Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;' and in his epistle, he calls him the 'bishop of souls.""*
There is a passage in the Sermo major de Fide of this writer, published in Montfaucon's Collectio Patrum, which bears some resemblance to this. Speaking of Peter preaching Christ, [Acts ii. 22,]
as " Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God,” he says, « He calls him a man and not God, with respect to the Jews, and others, who, like them, considered things according to the flesh, from that time to the present. And the apostles of our Lord, and our Lord himself, answered concerning himself as a man: 'Ye seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth.'”+
It has been said, that Athanasius is here speaking of the unbelieving Jews. The expression is, oι τοτε Ιεδαιοι, the Jews of that age; which includes both the believing
and unbelieving Jews. Had he been speaking of the Jews of his own time, it would, I own, have been probable that he meant the unbelieving Jews; but speaking as he does of the Jews at the very first promulgation of Christianity among them, it is most natural to suppose that he meant all the Jews. Paul, long after his conversion to Christianity, called himself a Jew. However, it will be sufficiently evident
Ουδεν γαρ αυτοις ατολμηλον, ότι και αυλοι απος ολοι τα Αρεια εφρονων ανθρωπον γαρ αυτον απο Ναζαρεί, και καθηλον τον Χριςον απαγ/ελλασιν, εκεινων τοινυν τοιαυτα φαν1αζομενων, αλ' επειδη τους σημασι τελους έχρισανίο, μονον ανθρωπον ηδεισαν τον Χριςον οι απος ολοι, και πλεον ουδεν; Μη γενοιτο ουκ εςιν ουδε εις νον ποτε τουλο λαβειν' αλλα και τετο ως αρχιτεκτονες σοφοι, και οικονομοι μυςηριων Θεου πεποιηκασι: και την αιτιαν εχουσιν ευλογον επειδη γαρ δι τοτε Ιεδαιοι πλανηθεντες, και πλανησαντες Ελληνας, ενομιζον τον Χριςον ψιλον ανθρωπον, μονον εκ σπερματος Δαβιδ αρχεσθαι, καθ' ομοιοτηλα των εκ του Δαβιδαλλων γενομενων τεκνων ατε δε Θεον αυτον, έδε ότι λογος σαρξ εγενετο επιςευον τεla ένεκα, μετα πολλης της συνεσεως οι μακαριοι απος ολοι τα ανθρωπινα του σωτηρος εξηγανίο πρωτον τοις Ιεδαιοις, ίνα όλως πεισανλες αυτές, εκ των φαινομένων και γενομενων σημείων, εληλυθηναι τον Χριςον, λοιπον και εις τα περι της θεοτηθος αυτο στιςιν αυτες αναγαγωσιν, δεικνυνλες ότι τα γενομενα εργα ουκ εςιν ανθρωπο, αλλα Θεου, αμελει Πετρος ο λεγων ανδρα παθη7ον τον Χριςον, ευθυς συνηπτες ετος αρχηγος της ζωης εςιν, &c, &c. De Sententia Dionysii, Opera, I. pp. 553, 554. (P.) See Vol. XVIlI.
61. + Ανδρα τε αυτον φασι, και ου Θεον, προς τες Ιεδαιος και της ομοιως αυτοις κατα σαρκα φρονενας εκ τοτε και νυν και οι αποστολοι και αυτος ο κυριος περι αυτο ανθρωπινως απεκρινατο λεγων: Τι με ζητειτε αποκτειναι, ανθρωπον ος την αληθειαν υμιν λελαληκα; Collectio, 11. p. 16. (Ρ.)
I See Vol. XVIII. p. 11, Nole ll.