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consists the essential difference between them. was rich in doctrines respecting the nature of Western to the Divinity, the other abounded in regulations Humanity. for the improvement and consolation of humanity. For long there was a tolerance, and even liberality toward differences of opinion. Until the Council of Nicea, no one was accounted a heretic if only he professed his belief in the Apostles' Creed.
A very astute ecclesiastical historian, referring to the early contaminations of Christianity, makes Foreign modithis remark : “A clear and unpolluted fountain fications of
Christianity. fed by secret channels with the dew of Heaven, when it grows a large river, and takes a long and winding course, receives a tincture from the various soils through which it passes.
Thus influenced by circumstances, the primitive modifications of Christianity were three—Judaic Christianity, Gnostic Christianity, African Christianity.
Of these, the first consisted of contaminations from Judaism, from which true Christianity disen- Judaic Christangled itself with extreme difficulty, at the tianity. cost of dissensions among the Apostles themselves. From the purely Hebrew point of view of the early disciples, who surrendered with reluctance their expectation that the Saviour was the long-looked-for temporal Messiah, the King of the Jews, under which name he suffered, the faith gradually expanded, including successively proselytes of the Gate, the surrounding Gentiles, and at last the whole world, irrespective of nation, climate, or colour. With this truly imperial extension, there came into view the essential doctrines on which it was based. But Judaic Christianity, properly speaking, soon came to an untimely end. It was unable to maintain itself against the powerful apostolic influences in the bosom of the Church, and the violent pressure exerted by the unbelieving Jews, who exhibited toward it an inflexible hatred. Moreover, the rapid advance of the new doctrines through Asia Minor and Greece offered a tempting field for enthusiasm. The first preachers in the Roman empire were Jews; for the first years circumcision and conformity to the law of Moses were insisted on; but the first council determined that point, at Jerusalem, probably about A.D. 49, in the negative. The organization of the Church, originally modelled upon that of the Synagogue, was changed. In the beginning the creed and the rites were simple; it was only necessary to profess belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, and baptism marked the admission of the convert into the community of the faithful. James, the brother of our Lord, as might, from his relationship, be expected, occupied the position of headship in the Church. The names of the bishops of the church of Jerusalem, as given by Eusebius, succeed to James, the brother of Christ, in the following order : Simeon, Justus, Zaccheus, Tobias, Benjamin, John, Matthew, Philip, Simeon, Justus, Levi, Ephraim, Joseph, and Judas. The names are indicative of the nationality. It was the boast of this Church that it was not corrupted with any heresy until the last Jewish bishop, a boast which must be received with some limitation, for very early we find traces of two distinct parties in Jerusalem- those who received the account of the miraculous conception and those who did not. The Ebionites, who were desirous of tracing our Saviour's lineage up to David, did so according to the genealogy given in the Gospel of St. Mathew, and therefore they would not accept what was said respecting the miraculous conception, affirming that it was apocryphal, and in obvious contradiction to the genealogy in which our Saviour's line was traced up through Joseph, who, it would thus appear, was not his father. They are to be considered as the national or patriotic party.
Two causes seem to have been concerned in arresting the Causes of the spread of conversion among the Jews: the first arrest of Jew. was their disappointment as respects the tem
poral power of the Messiah ; the second, the prominence eventually given to the doctrine of the Trinity. Their jealousy of anything that might touch the national doctrine of the unity of God became almost a fanaticism. Judaic Christianity may be said to have virtually ended with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; its last trace, however, was the dispute respecting Easter, which was terminated by the Council of Nicea. The
conversion of the Jews had ceased before the reign of Constantine.
The second form, Gnostic Christianity, had reached its full development within a century after the death of Christ; it maintained an active influence through the first four centuries, and gave birth, during that time, to many different subordinate sects. It consisted Christianity. essentially in ingrafting Christianity upon Magianism. It made the Saviour an emanated intelligence, derived from the eternal, self-existing mind; this intelligence, and not the Man-Jesus, was the Christ, who thus, being an impassive phantom, afforded to Gnosticism no idea of an expiatory sacrifice, none of an atonement. It was arrested by the reappearance of pure Magianism in the Persian empire under Ardeschir Babhegan; not, however, without communicating to orthodox Christianity an impression far more profound than is coinmonly supposed, and one of which indelible traces may be perceived in our day.
The third form, African or Platonic Christianity, arose in Alexandria. Here was the focus of those fatal Platonic disputes respecting the Trinity, a word which Christianity. does not occur in the Holy Scriptures, and which, it appears, had been first introduced by Theophilus, the Bishop of Antioch, the seventh from the apostles. In the time of Hadrian, Christianity had become diffused all over Egypt, and had found among the Platonizing philosophers of the metropolis many converts.
These men modified the Gnostic idea to suit their own doctrines, asserting that the principle from which the universe originated was something emitted from the Supreme Mind, and capable of being drawn into it again, as they supposed was the case with a ray and the sun. This ray, they affirmed, was permanently attached to our Saviour, and hence he might be considered as God. Thus, therefore, there were in his person three parts, a body, a soul, and the logos ; hence he was both God and man. But, as a ray is inferior to the sun, it seemed to follow that the Christ must be inferior to the Father.
In all this it is evident that there is something transcendental, and the Platonizing Christians, following the habit of the Greek philosophers, considered it as
mysterious doctrine; they spoke of it as “meat for strong men, but the popular current doctrine was “milk for babes.” Justin Martyr, A.D. 132, who had been a Platonic philosopher, believed that the divine ray, after it was
attached to Christ, was never withdrawn from The Logos.
him, and never separated from its source. He offers two illustrations of his idea. As speech (logos), going forth from one man, enters into another, conveying to him meaning, while the same meaning remains in the person who speaks, thus the logos of the Father continues unimpaired in himself, though imparted to the Christ; or, as from one lamp another may be lighted without any loss of splendour, so the divinity of the l'ather is transferred to the Son. This last illustration subsequently became very popular, and was adopted into the Nicene Creed. God of God, Light of Light.”.
It is obvious that the intention of this reasoning was to preserve intact, the doctrine of the unity of God, for the great body of Christians were at this time monarchists, the word being used in its theological acceptation. Thus the Jewish and Gnostic forms both died out, but
the African, 1 latonic, or Alexandrian, was destined to be perpetuated. The manner in which
this occurred, can only be understood by a study of the political history of the times. To such facts as are needful for the purpose, I shall therefore with brevity allude.
From its birthplace in Judea, Christianity advanced to the conquest of the Roman world. In its primitive form Spread of
it received an urgency from the belief that the Christianity end of all things was close at hand, and that frum Syria.
the earth was on the point of being burnt up
From the civil war it waged in Judea, it emerged to enter on a war of invasion and foreign annexation. In succession, Cyprus, Phrygia, Galatia, and all Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy, were penetrated. The persecutions of Nero, incident on the burning of Rome, did not for a moment retard its career; during his reign it rapidly spread, and in every direction Petrine and Pauline, or Judaizing and Hellenizing churches were springing up. The latter gained the superiority, and the former passed away. The constitution of the churches changed, the
Permanence of Alexandrian ideas.
Modifications of organiza
Becoines antagon stic
congregations gradually losing power, which became concentrated in the bishop. By the end of the first century the episcopal form was predominant, and the ecclesiastical organization so imposing as to tion become command the attention of the
emperors, who began to discover the mistake that had hitherto been made in confounding the new religion with Judaism. Their dislike to it, soon manifested in measures of repression, was in consequence of the peculiar attitude it assumed. As a body, the Christians not only kept aloof from all the amusements of the times, avoiding theatres and publio rejoicings, but in every respect constituted themselves an empire within the empire. Such a state of things was altogether inconsistent with the established government, and its certain inconveniences and evils were not long in making themselves felt. w ImperiulThe triumphant march of Christianity was singularly facilitated by free intercommunication over the Mediterranean, in consequence of that sea being in the hands of one sovereign power.
The Jewish and Greek merchants afforded it a medium; their trading towns were its posts. But it is not to be supposed that its spread was without resistance; for at least the first century and a half the small farmers and land labourers entertained a hatred to it, looking upon it as a peculiarity of the trading communities, whom they ever despised. They persuaded themselves that the earthquakes, inundations Persecution and pestilences were attributable to it. To these consolid.tes it incitements was added a desire to seize the property of the faithful confiscated by the law. Of this the early Christians unceasingly and bitterly complained. But the rack, the fire, wild beasts were unavailingly applied. Out of the very persecutions themselves advantages arose. Injustice and barbarity bound the pious but feeble communities together, and repressed internal dissent.
In several instances, however, there can be no doubt that persecution was brought on by the defiant air the churches assumed as they gathered the young strength. To understand this, we have only to peruse such documents as the address of Tertullian to Scapula. Full of intolerant spirit, it accuses the national
Defiant air of