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brought to the stake, he concluded his last prayer with this doxology to the whole Trinity" I bless "thee, I praise thee, I glorify thee for all things, "together with the eternal and heavenly Jesus Christ,
thy beloved Son, with whom, unto thee, and the Holy Spirit, be glory, both now and for ever, "world without end":" So prayed this holy bishop and blessed martyr of Christ, at the hour of his departure out of the world. As he had been a disciple of St. John the evangelist, we cannot well suppose him ignorant of the proper object of Christian worship. We find him in possession of the doctrine of a coequal and coeternal Trinity, considered as that object; a doctrine which, we may venture to say, he did not derive from the Platonists of Alexandria, from scholastic theology, or from the papal chair. And we may continue, it is hoped, to use the prayers in our own liturgy, though they conclude exactly like the prayer of Polycarp.
Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, suffered for the faith, fifty years before Polycarp, and had conversed familiarly with many of the apostles. He begins one of his epistles in the following manner:-" I glorify Jesus Christ our God, who hath given un"to you this wisdom.". Could such men as these, instructed by the apostles themselves, be mistaken in the capital article of all religion, the object of
P Martyr. Policarp. apud Coteler. Patres Apostol. t. ii. p. 199.
4 Δοξάζω Ιησουν Χριστον τον Θεον, τον ούτως υμάς σοφίσαντα. Ignat. Epist. ad Smyrn.
divine worship? Impossible! A man must have the credulity of an infidel to believe it.
Justin Martyr, who flourished about the middle of the second century declares to the Pagans, that the object of Christian worship was the whole Trinity. "We worship and adore," says he, "the God of righteousness, and his Son, and the Holy Spirit of prophecy." Yet, a little after, he tells the emperors, "We hold it unlawful to worship any but God "alone." So Origen, who lived in the former part of the third century,-"We worship and adore no "creature but the Father, the Son, and the Holy "Ghost"." Give me leave to insist a little on an argument suggested by these passages, because it seems for ever to determine the question concerning the faith of the primitive church on the article of our Lord's true and proper Divinity. The Christians objected to the Pagans their idolatry. The Pagans retorted the objection on the Christians, as the worshippers of a crucified man. Here, you see, was a stroke aimed at the very heart of the new religion. And now, how do the Christians defend themselves? Had the charge, like many others, been false, they would certainly have denied it at once. It behoved them so to have done; for the contest was pro aris et focis; for every thing near and dear. They could never have continued to reproach their adversaries with a crime of which they were notoriously guilty themselves. But they do not deny the
Justin. Apol. ii.
Comment. in Epist. ad Rom. lib. i.
fact. They acknowledge it universally; and yet, at the same time, affirm, "We worship God alone." In their practice, then, they showed their belief of Christ's true Divinity. They worshipped him only upon this ground, that he was one God with the Father; and to have done it on any other supposition, had been idolatry, by their own confession. are we, therefore, to think of our modern unitarians, who repeatedly, and as it should seem, seriously tell us, that all the fathers of the first three centuries were of their opinion"? To say this, is to make them guilty of the grossest idolatry, and to involve them in a monstrous contradiction: they laid it down as a first principle, that God alone was to be worshipped; and, all the while, gave divine honour to one, whom (if these moderns say true) they did not hold to be God by nature, but a creature only.
Let any person, with attention and impartiality, survey this argument again and again on every side; and it will appear to be absolutely unanswerable. The earliest Christians professed to worship God alone; but they constantly and uniformly professed to worship Christ; therefore they deemed Christ to be very God. The same is to be said with regard to the Holy Spirit. No matter how the Son was begotten of the Father, or how the Spirit proceeds from both. The mode we have nothing to do with; it is above and beyond us; it cannot be the subject
* Θεον μεν μόνον προσκυνούμεν.
"All Christian people, for upwards of 300 years after "Christ, till the council of Nice, were generally Unitarians.” Mr. Lindsey's Apology, p. 24.
of our reasonings. We are not now entangled in the thorny parts of the subject; we are not disputing about mathematical niceties and distinctions. A plain matter of fact is before us. The premises are fixed by ecclesiastical history, and the writings of the primitive apologists, firm as the everlasting hills; no other conclusion can be drawn from them by the art of man; and the argument is obvious to the common sense of the whole world.
During the persecutions under the Heathen emperors, the martyrs, who suffered in them, commonly directed their prayers, as St, Stephen did, personally to Christ, in whose cause they laid down their lives, and into whose hands they resigned their spirits, commending their souls to him, as unto a faithful Creator and Redeemer. In the Dioclesian persecution, as Eusebius informs us, the inhabitants of a city in Phrygia, men, women, and children, while assembled in the church at their devotions, were by their enemies surprised and burnt, "calling upon Christ, God over all." Many other instances occur in the same historian, where the dying martyrs address their prayers to Christ, under the highest titles and attributes of the Divinity, as the living and true God, the great King over all the earth, omniscient and almighty, the Son of God, and himself true and very God. And, as such, Eusebius says, the highest powers on earth confessed and adored him *.
* Τον επί πάντων Θεον Χριστον επιβοωμένοι.
* Euseb. lib. x. cap. iv. See the passages cited by Bingham, in Eccles. Antiq. b. xiii, ch. ii.
Would you hear the contemporary writers, among the Heathens, bearing testimony to the same great and important truth, concerning the object of worship in the earliest days of the Christian church? You shall hear them.
Pliny lived in the beginning of the second century, and, as a judge under Trajan, took the confessions of some revolting Christians. He says, they declared to him, "their custom was, to meet on a "certain day, before it was light, and, among other parts of their worship, sing an hymn to Christ, as "to their God"."
Towards the close of the same century, Lucian, or whoever was the author of the dialogue styled Philopatris, bearing his name, and certainly written about that time, introduces, in a scoffing way, a Christian catechist instructing a Pagan catechumen. The latter asks, "By whom, then, shall I swear?" that is, whom shall I take to be my God, the object of my worship? The answer is, By that God "that reigns on high, the great immortal, heavenly
God, and the Son of the Father, and the Spirit "proceeding from the Father, One in Three, and "Three in One. Take these for your Jupiter; ima
gine this to be your God." Lucian, then, had evidently learned, and it was well known among the Heathens in his time, that the Father, the Son, and
y Carmenque Christo, quasi Deo, dicere secum invicem. Plin. lib. x. Ep. 97.
z Lucian. Philopatris, prope fin.