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opinion of some of modern time. If he, so soon after the apostle's days, was deemed a heretic, it is not surprising that those of similar opinions, at the present day, should be deemed the same. There is a number of men, who succeeded the apos
different in sentiment from the Docetæ, Gnostics, Cerinthians, Ebionites and Patropassians; and much more like the apostles. We should rather look to them for apostolic sentiments.
Clement, bishop of Rome, was for a time cotemporary with the apostle Paul; but survived him a number of years. The apostle makes honorable mention of him; calls him his fellow laborer; and says that his name was in the book of life. Many writings have been attributed to him, of which, it is generally agreed, he was not the author. This circumstance affords evidence that his name was of great weight in the church. One epistle to the Corinthians, bearing his name is considered genuine. In this he expresses much of the sentiment and spirit of the apostles. Speaking of Christ, he says, “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sceptre of the Majesty of God, came not in the pomp of arrogance and pride; though who can understand the thunder of his power? But he was meek and lowly.” The Sceptre of the Majesty when applied to Christ conveys an idea of his authority and government; and it appears to be parallel with what Christ said of himself after his resurrection. “All (i. e. authority) is given unto me in heaven and in earth."
To be the Sceptre of God's Majesty; to possess all authority in heaven and in earth, conveys an idea of divine authority. If it was delegated, it appears that the recipient must be divine; or he would not be capable of performing its functions. “Who can understand the thunder of his power?”. This sublime language, which he applied to Christ, he borrowed from Job, who applied it to God in his description of his Power and Majesty. In this he imitated the apostles, who applied to Christ what had been,
in the Old Testament, applied to God. After Clement had thus spoken of the divine dignity and glory of the Savior, he adds, she was meek and lowly.” In this manner, he imitated the apostles by exhibiting the Lord Jesus in his divine and human nature; as the Sceptre of God's Majesty; and as occupying the low condition of humanity.
Again Clement speaks of Christ, “Have' we not all one God, one Christ, one Spirit of grace poured upon us, and one calling in Christ?"_“Through him, that is Jesus Christ, let us behold the glory of God shining in his face.” This language appears much like that of the apostles; and if their's were not explained away, it
appears that this would naturally give us an idea of Christ's divinity. When the dispute ran high, whether Christ was merely divine, or merely human, it appears that Clement, who was well acquainted with the apostle's opinion on this subject, if he had believed the simple humanity of Jesus, would not have spoken of him in language, which was appropriate to God.
Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, suffered martyrdom in the year 107. He was a disciple of St. John; and was, undoubtedly, acquainted with his sentiments of Jesus Christ. When he was questioned by Trajan respecting his religion, among other things he said, “There is only one God, who made heaven, and earth, the sea and all that is in them; and one Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, whose kingdom be my portion.” By the
name only begotten Son, he undoubtedly meant what Christ meant, when he called himself the Son of God; what Peter meant, when he called him the Son of the living God; what the high priest meant when he adjured him to tell them whether he was the Christ, the Son of God. It is evident that by Son of God, the Jews understood God, or equality with God. It is probable he used the name Son of God in its popular sense.
Ignatius, in his salutation to the Church at Ephesus, calls them “elect in the genuine suffering, by the will
of the Father, and of Jesus Christ our God,” &c. It is not surprising, that he should imitate the apostle, whose disciple he was; and call his Master God; and by this name mean the same, which he meant.
“One Physician there is, bodily and spiritual, begotten and unbegotten, God appearing in flesh, in immortal, true life, both from Mary and from God, first suffering then impassible.” This language appears to be plain. It naturally conveys an idea of two natures in the Physician Jesus Christ; that one nature was literally begotten; that the other nature was not thus begotten; that divine nature appeared in humanity; that the one was from Mary, the other from God; that one was capable of suffering, and the other was not. It is worthy of notice, that Ignatius called this Physician God appearing in flesh; and also from God. If God without distinction in his nature dwelt in the man Christ Jesus, there appears to be an incongruity in saying that God was from God. He states that this Physician is both from Mary and from God. That he was from Mary in his human nature, is not disputed. But in what sense was he from God? Is it in no other sense than he was sent from God as John was sent? Suppose this to be the meaning. Suppose Christ to be a mere man, as was his forerunner. In what sense then was he unbegotten; in what sense was he God appearing in flesh; in what sense was he impassible? It is difficult to explain away all the parts of this passage of Ignatius by any one rule; or by different rules, which will not clash.
Ignatius, endeavoring to bring off, or preserve the Ephesians from Judaism, observes, “The divine prophets lived according to Jesus Christ. For this they were persecuted, being inspired by his grace to assure the disobedient that there is one God, who manifested himself by Jesus Christ his Son, who is his eternal Word.—But live according to the life of the Lord, in which also our Life rose again by himself.That you may be well assured of the nativity, suffer
ing and resurrection, during the government of Pontius Pilate, of which literally and really, Jesus Christ was the subject.” This language, which he applied to Christ, bears a strong resemblance of the language of St. John. They both call Jesus Christ Son of God. They both call him the Word. Ignatius calls him eternal Word. They both call him Life. St. John calls him “that eternal Life.” They both attribute to him eternity. This attribute cannot, with propriety, be applied to a mere creature, or to a derived being
Ignatius, in view of his death speaks of Christ thus: “He is my gain laid up
for me, suffer me to imitate the passion of my God.” In a preceding quotation he represented Christ first suffering, then impassible
. In this quotation he calls him God, and in this name attributes to him sufferings. He did not, probably, design to convey an idea that divine nature suffered.' He had declared the contrary. In consequence of the intimate union of human and divine nature in Jesus Christ, he called him God, without making a distinction of natures; and without this distinction he attributed suffering to him. This is agreeable to our manner of speaking concerning man. We say he is mortal; whereas his better part is immortal. The phraseology of Ignatius clearly conveys an idea of two natures in Jesus Christ.
Again he speaks of the Savior. “I glorify Jesus Christ, our God, who hath given you wisdom. For I understand that you are perfect in the immovable faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, who really was of the seed of David according to the flesh; born of the virgin really; who really suffered under Pontius Pilate. Consider the times, and expect him, who is above all time, who is unconnected with time, the invisible One, made visible for us, the impassible, but passible for us; who bore all sorts of sufferings for us."
When Ignatius was led to execution, “He prayed to the Son of God in behalf of the churches, that he would put a stop to the persecution.”. (Milner.)
If we consider the time, in which Ignatius lived, his writings will appear with greater perspicuity and pertinence. The Docetæ and Ebionites had gained ground, and were prevailing. He wished to discountenance these sects, and he directed his observations against them. When he said that Christ was really of the seed of David, was born of the virgin really, and really suffered under Pontius Pilate, he repelled the sentiment of the Docetæ, who held that Christ was not really human, but had only the appearance of a man.
When he called him impassible, unconnected with time, eternal Word and God, he repelled the sentiment of the Ebionites, who believed that Christ was merely human. Had Ignatius been of this opinion, and designed to discountenance the belief that Christ was divine, it is incredible that he should call him impassible, eternal, and even call him God. This language would be directly opposite to his design. But if he believed that Christ was both human and divine, his language appears to be appropriate. He sets forth both natures in language, which is adapted to both. When it is considered that Ignatius was the disciple of John; that his language and sentiment bore a striking resemblance of, and coincidence with, the language and sentiment of that apostle, the testimony of this Christian father
great authority. After he had given such a representation of Christ
appears consistent with himself, when, at the close of life, he directs his prayer to him in behalf of the church.*
Justin Martyr bore testimony, in a clear and decisive manner, to the divinity of Jesus Christ. He was “a man of eminent piety and considerable learning, who from a pagan philosopher, became a Christian martyr. He had frequented all the different sects of philoso
Concerning the genuineness and authenticity of Ignatius' epistles, see Horseley's Letters to Priestley.