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believed the divinity of Christ, we ought to have some positive evidence before we admit that he was an exception.
That Hegesippus was an Ebionite, may be inferred from his giving a list of all the heresies of his time, in which he enumerates a considerable number, and all of them Gnostics, without making any mention of the Ebionites.
He being a Jewish Christian himself, could not but be well acquainted with the prevailing opinions of the Jewish Christians, the most conspicuous of which, it cannot be denied, was the doctrine of Christ's being a mere man. Now can it be supposed, that if he himself had been what is now called an orthodox Christian, that is, a Trinitarian, or even an Arian, he would wholly have omitted the mention of the Ebionites in any list of heretics of his time, had it been ever so short a one; and this consists of no less than eleven articles ? Also, can it be supposed that Eusebius, who speaks of the Ebionites with so much hatred and contempt, would have omitted to copy this article, if it had been in the list ?
Their not being inserted in the list by such a person as Eusebius, must, I think, satisfy any person, who has no system to support, with respect to this article. A stronger negative argument can hardly be imagined. As to Hegesippus himself, we must judge of his feelings and conduct as we should of those of any person at this day in a situation similar to his. Now, did any subsequent ecclesiastical historian, or did any modern divine, of the orthodox faith, ever omit Arians, or Socinians, or names synonynsous to them (who always were, and still are, in the highest degree obnoxious to them) in a list of heretics?
Had the faith of the early Christians been either that Christ was true and very God, or a superior angelic spirit, the maker of the world, and of all things visible and invisible under God; and had Hegesippus himself retained that faith, while the generality, or only any considerable number of his countrymen, had departed from it, it could not but have been upon his mind, and have excited the same indignation that the opinions of the Arians and Socinians excite in the minds of those who are called orthodox at this day. Nay, in his circumstances, such a defection from that important article of faith in his own countrymen, after having been so recently taught the contrary by the apostles themselves, whose writings they still had with them, must have excited a much greater degree of surprise and indignation, than a similar defection would have occasioned in any other people, or in any later times.
It is said to be as remarkable that Hegesippus should have omitted the Cerinthians as the Ebionites. But I see nothing at all extraordinary in the omission of the Cerinthians in this list of heretics by Hegesippus, as they were only one branch of the Gnostics, several of whom are in his list; and it is not improbable that these Cerinthians, having been one of the earliest branches, might have been very inconsiderable, perhaps extinct in bis time. I do not know that they are mentioned by any ancient writer as existing so late as the time of Hegesippus ; and as they seein to have been pretty much confined to some part of Asia Minor, and especially Galatia, which was very remote from the seat of the Ebionites, he might not have heard much about them. Whereas the Ebionites were at that very time in their full vigour; and though their opinions (being then almost universal in what was called the Catholic Church) had not begun to give offence, they were afterwards the object of the most violent hatred to the other Christians, and continued to be so as long as they subsisted.
That Hegesippus, though an Unitarian himself, should speak as he does of the state of opinions in the several churches which he visited, as then retaining the true faith, is, I think, very natural. The only heresy that disturbed the apostle John, and therefore other Jewish Christians in general, was that of the Gnostics; and all the eleven different kinds of heresies, enumerated by this. writer, are probably only different branches of that one great heresy, if, therefore, the churches which he visited were free from Gnosticism, he would naturally say that they retained the true faith. For as to the doctrine of the personification of the logos, held then by Justin Martyr, and perhaps a few others, it was not, in its origin, so very alarming a thing; and very probably this plain man had not at all considered its nature and tendency, if he had heard of it. The author of the Clementine Homilies, though contemporary with Hegesippus, and unquestionably an Unitarian, makes no mention of it.
Hegesippus, as an Unitarian, believed that all the extraordinary power exerted by Christ was that of the Father residing in him, and speaking and acting by him ; and he might imagine that these philosophizing Christians, men of great name, and a credit to the cause, held in fact the same thing, when they said that this logos of theirs was not the logos of the Gnostics, but that of John the evangelist, or the wisdom and power of God himself. And though this might appear to him as a thing that he could not well understand, he might not think that there was any heresy, or much harm in it. Had he been told, (but this he could only have had from inspiration,) that this specious personification of the Divine logos would, about two centuries afterwards, end in the doctrine of the perfect equality of the Son with the Father, this plain good man might have been a little startled.
That Eusebius, and others, should speak of Hegesippus with respect, (from which it has been argued that he could not possibly have been an Ebionite,) appears to me nothing extraordinary, though it should have been known to them that he was one, considering that they quote him only as an historian; and supposing, what is very probable, that he did not treat particularly of doctrinal matters, but confined himself to the Acts of the Apostles, and other historical circumstances attending the propagation of the Gospel ; especially as he was the only historian of that age, and had always been beld in esteem. A man who is once in possession of the general good opinion, will not be censured lightly, especially by such men as Eusebius. 1. Can it be supposed also that Eusebius, in expressly quoting ancient authorities against those who held the opinion of the simple humanity of Christ, would not have cited Hegesippus, as well as Irenæus, Justin Martyr, and others, if he could have found any thing in him for his purpose ? This may be considered as a proof that there was nothing in his work unfavourable to the doctrines of the Ebionites. A negative argument can hardly be stronger than this. *
Had there been any pretence for quoting Hegesippus as a maintainer of the divinity of Christ, he would certainly have been mentioned in preference to Justin Martyr, or any others in the list; not only because he was an earlier writer, but chiefly because he was one of the Jewish Christians, who are well known not to have favoured that opinion.
The manner in which Hegesippus quotes the Gospel of the Hebrews was such as led Eusebius to think that he was a Hebrew Christian. ." He quotes some things from the Gospel according to the Hebrews and the Syriac, and especially in the Hebrew tongue, shewing that he was one of the Hebrew Christians.”+ We inay, therefore, conclude, that
* See Vol. XVII, pp. 13-15.
* Εκ τε τα καθ' “Εβραιες ευαγfέλια και το Συριακο, και ιδιως εκ της “Εβραιδος διαλεκ78 τινα τιθησιν, εμφαινων εξ Εβραιων εαυτον σεπιςευκεναι. Ηist. L. iv. C. xxi. p. 184. (P.)
he quoted it with respect; and this was not done except by those who were Ebionites, or who, favoured their opinions. As Hegesippus wrote in Greek, he must have been acquainted with the Greek Gospels, and therefore must have quoted that of the Hebrews from choice, and not from necessity.
Lastly, the manner in which Hegesippus speaks of James the Just, is much more that of an Unitarian, than of a Trinitarian.-“ James the Just,” says Eusebius, “is represented by Hegesippus as saying, Wby do you ask me concerning Jesus the son of man?”* This looks as if both James and the historian were Unitarians; the phrase son of man, being probably synonymous to a prophet, or a person having a divine commission, and certainly not implying any nature properly divine.
Valesius, the learned commentator on Eusebius, has intimated a suspicion, that the works of Hegesippus, as well as those of Papias and the Hypotyposes of Clemens Alexandrinus, were neglected and lost, on account of the errors they were supposed to contain. † This I cannot help thinking highly probable, and those errors could hardly be any other than the Unitarian doctrine, and the things connected with it. Indeed, there were no errors of any consequence ascribed to that early age besides, those of the Gnostics and of the Unitarians. The former certainly were not those that Valesius could allude to with tespect to Hegesippus, because this writer mentions the Gnostics very particularly as heretics. Though Clemens Alexandrinus was not an Unitarian, yet he never calls Unitarians heretics ; and since, in his account of heretics in general, which are pretty frequent in his works, he evidently means the Gnostics only, and therefore virtually excludes Unitarians from that description of men; it is by no means improbable but that, in those writings of his which are lost, he might have said things directly in favour of Un tarians.
In this passage Valesius also mentions the writings of Papias, as having, in his opinion, been lost for the same reason. Now Papias has certainly been supposed to be an Ebionite. Mr. Whiston has made this very probable from a variety of circumstances. $ In the same tract he gives his reasons for good
* Τι με επερωταθε περι Ιησε το υιε τα ανθρωπο; Ηist. L. i. C. xxiii. p. 79. (Ρ.)
+ « Porro ii Clementis libri continebant brevem et compendiariam utriusque testamenti expositionem, ut testatur Photius in bibliotheca. Ob errores autem quibus scatebant, negligentius habiti, tandem perierunt. Nec alia, meo quidem judicio, causa est, cur
Papiæ et Hegesippi, aliorumque veterum libri interciderint.” In Euseb. Hist. L. v. C. xi. (P.) .
See his Account of the Ceasing of Miracles, p. 18. (P.)
supposing Hegesippus to have been an Ebionite, and he expresses his wonder, " that he should have had the fortune to be so long esteemed by the learned for a Catho. lic.”* In this Mr. Whiston may be supposed to have been sufficiently impartial, as he was an Arian, and expresses great dislike of the Ebionites, as indeed Arians always have done.
It is to be lamented that we know so very little of the his. tory of the Jewish Christians. We are informed, that they retired to Pella, a country to the east of the sea of Galilee, on the approach of the Jewish war, that many of them returned to Jerusalem when that war was over, and that they continued there till the city was taken by Adrian. But what became of those who were driven out of the city by Adrian, does not appear. It is most probable that they joined their brethren at Pella, or Perea, in Syria, from whence they had come to reside at Jerusalem; and indeed what became of the whole body of the ancient Christian Jews, (none of whom can be proved to have been Trinitarians,) I cannot tell. Their numbers, we may suppose, were gradually reduced, till at length they became extinct. I hope, however, we shall hear no more of them as an evidence of the antiquity of the Trinitarian doctrine. +
A few of the Nazarenes remained, as Epiphanius says, in the Upper Thebais and Arabia. He also speaks of the Ebionites as existing in his own time, and joined by the Ossens. Austin says that they were in small numbers even in his time.
CHAPTER XIII. Unitarianism was the Doctrine of the primitive Gentile
Churches. Having proved, as I think I may presume that I have doue, to the satisfaction of every impartial reader, that the great body of Jewish Christians always were, and to the last continued to be, Unitarians ; believing nothing concerning
• Account of the Ceasing of Miracles, pp. 21, &c. (P.) + See Vol. XVIII. p. 180.
i Mνοι δε τινες εν σπανει ευρισκονlαι, η πον εις, η δυο Νασαρηνοι υπερ την ανω Θηβαιδα, KOLL ETEKEIVA TNS Apabis. Hær. xx. Opera, I. p. 46. (P.)
$ “li sunt quos Faustus Symmachianorum vel Nazarenorum, nomine commemoravit, qui usque ad nostra tempora jam quidem in exigua, sed adhuc tamen vel in ipsa, paucitate perdurant," Contra Fanstum Man., Opera, VI, p. 351. (P.)