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without awe and wonder. Maximus had led them into the temple of Hecate, he had burned a few grains of incense, he had murmured a hymn, and the statue of the goddess was seen to smile. . . . . Julian was brought into direct communion with the invisible world. The faithful and officious genii from this time watched over Julian in peace and war, they conversed with him in hisslumbers, they warned him of dangers, they conducted his military operations." “Instead of the Christian hierarchy, Julian hastened to environ himself with the most distinguished of the heathen philosophers. Most of them indeed, pretended to be a kind of priesthood. Intercessors between the deities and the world of man, they wrought miracles, foresaw future events, they possessed the art of purifying the soul, so that it should be reunited to the primal spirit, the divinity dwelt within them.” Speaking of Olympus, a heathen, he says, “In the dead of night, when all were slumbering around, and all the gates were closed, he heard the Christian Alleluia pealing from a single voice through the silent temple. He acknowledged the sign or the omen, anticipated the unfavorable sentence of the emperor, the fate of his faction and of his gods.” Speaking of baptism he says, " It was a complete lustration of the soul. The neophyte emerged from the waters of baptism in a state of perfect innocence. The dove (the Holy Spirit) was constantly hovering over the font, and sanctifying the waters to the mysterious ablution of all the sins of the past life. If the soul suffered no subsequent taint, it passed at once to the realms of purity and bliss; the heart was purified; the understanding illuminated; the spirit was clothed with immortality.” This mode of writing gives a graphic effect to the narrative, but when the writer identifies himself first with the hearers of Christ, then with the disciples of the heathen philosophers, and then with the Christiansof the fourth century, narrating what is true and what is false in exactly the same way,he leaves his readers in the dark as to his own real position. We have no idea that Milman really sympathizes with the disciples of Maximus, or with those of Cyprian; but we wish we had more evidence that he sympathizes with the believing followers of the Redeemer.
This uncertainty as to our author's views is increased by his philosophical and ambiguous way of stating the most important doctrines. « The incarnation of the Deity,” he says, “or the union of some part of the Divine Essence
with a material or human body, is by no means an uncommon religious notion, more particularly in the East. Yet, in the doctrine as subsequently developed by Christianity, there seems the same important difference which characterizes the whole system of the ancient and modern religions. It is in the former a mythological impersonation of the power, in Christ it is the goodness of the Deity, which, associating itself with a human form, assumes the character of the representative of the human race; in whose person is exhibited a pure model of moral perfection, and whose triumph over evil is by the slow and gradual process of enlightening the mind and purifying the heart. . . . . The Christian scheme, however it may occasionally admit the current language of the time, as where Christ is called the Light of the world, yet in its scope and purport stands clear of all these physical notions; it is original, inasmuch as it is purely, essentially, and exclusively a moral revelation; its sole design to work a moral change; to establish a new relation between man and the Almighty Creator, and to bring to light the great secret of the immortality of man.” pp. 53, 54. This is language which possibly a sincere believer in the Christian doctrine of the incarnation, might use ; but at the same time it is language which those who openly reject that doctrine, would find no difficulty in adopting. Indeed the writings of German pantheists abound with more seemingly orthodox declarations of this and kindred Christian doctrines. Men who with Strauss can say, “ The supernatural birth of Christ, his miracles, his resurrection and ascension, remain eternal truths, however their reality as historical facts may be called in question;" are capable of saying any thing. Mr. Milman is unwilling thus to abandon the firm ground of historical evidence, but the loose way which he adopts of stating what that evidence teaches, leaves us very much in the dark as to his real opinions.
If Mr. Milman believes the doctrine of the Trinity at all, it is very evident, from the manner in which he speaks of the Arian controversy, that he regards it of very little importance. “The Trinitarian controversy," he
says, the natural, though tardy, growth of the Gnostic opinions, it, could scarcely be avoided when the exquisite distinctness and subtlety of the Greek language were applied to religious opinions of oriental origin."--p. 310. “The doctrine of the Trinity, that is, the divine nature of the Father, the Son,
and the Holy Ghost, was acknowledged by all. To each of these distinct and separate beings (?) both parties ascribed the attributes of the Godhead, with the exception of self-existence, which was restricted by the Arians to the Father. Both parties admitted the antemundane being of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. But, according to the Arian, there was a time, before the commencement of the ages, when the
parent Deity dwelt alone in undeveloped, undivided unity. At this time, immeasurably, incalculably, inconceivably remote, the majestic solitude ceased; the Divine unity was broken by an act of the sovereign Will, and the only begotten Son, the image of the Father, the vicegerent of all the divine power, the intermediate agent in all the long subsequent work of creation, began to be.” ... “It might be supposed that a profound metaphysical question of this kind would have been far removed from the passions of the multitude.”-p. 413. Speaking of Constantine, he says, “His impartial rebuke condemned Alexander for unnecessarily agitating such frivolous and unimportant questions; and Arius for not suppressing, in prudent and respectful silence, his objections to the doctrine of the patriarch." "He [Athanasius] endured persecution, calumny, exile: his life was endangered in defence of one single tenet, and that, it may be permitted to say, the most purely intellectual, and apparently the most remote from the ordinary passions of man; he confronted martyrdom, not for the broad and palpable distinction between Christianity and heathenism, but the fine and subtle expressions of the Christian creed. Neither party, in truth, could now yield without the humiliating acknowledgment that all their contest had been on unimportant and unessential points.”—p. 319. “ He (Athanasius) denounces his adversaries, for the least deviation, as enemies of Christ; he presses them with consequences drawn from their opinions; and, instead of spreading wide the gates of Christianity, he seemed to unbar them with jealous reluctance, and to admit no one without the most cool and inquisitorial scrutiny into the most secret arcana of his belief. . ... It cannot be doubted that he was deeply, intimately persuaded that the vital power and energy, the truth, the consolatory force of Christianity, entirely depended on the unquestionable elevation of the Saviour to the most absolute equality with the Parent Godhead.” -p. 342. And such, we may add, has been the almost universal conviction of the Christian world. You may ex
alt a creature, as high as language will admit, the interval between him and the Creator, is still infinite; and therefore the difference between a system which assigns plenary Divinity to the Son, and that which makes him a creature, is absolute and entire. It is hard to conceive of a question of more practical import than whether we are to worship, trust, and serve a created being, or the infinite Jehovah alone. Mr. Milman should not be surprised that Athanasius was willing to confront martyrdom for the doctrine he defended; or that it should take so strong a hold on the feelings of the people. So far from being a question of “religious metaphysics,” the whole character of the spiritual life depends upon it. The man who regards the Saviour as the infinite God, and he who regards him as a creature, can hardly have one religious feeling in common. Whether it was God or a creature, who assumed our nature, in that nature suffered for our sins, and demands our faith and love, is a question upon which the vital power and energy, the truth, the consolatory force of Christianity" do indeed depend. And that Mr. Milman can regard it as a “frivolous and unimportant” question, shows how little sympathy he has with the faith and experience of the Christian church,
We are not sure whether the most objectionable feature of the work before us, is not the disregard which it every where exhibits for the authority of the sacred writers. Mr. Milman evidently looks upon the evangelists as well meaning men, ignorant and prejudiced however, liable to error, and who often did err, and whose statements may be received or rejected, according to the rules which are applied to ordinary historians. Even the authority of Christ is effectually evaded by assuming the doctrine of accommodation, which supposes that the Saviour not only adopted the “current language” of his age, but lent his sanction to popular errors, by speaking and acting as though he believed them to be true. All this will be abundantly proved by the following specimens of our author's manner of speaking on these subjects.
Speaking of the angelic appearances and the revelations of the Deity addressed to the senses of man,” he has this comprehensive paragraph, “ Whether these were actual appearances, or impressions produced on the minds of those who witnessed them, is of slight importance. In either case they are real historical facts; they partake of poetry
in their form, and, in a certain sense, in their groundwork, but they are imaginative, not fictitious; true, as relating that which appeared to the minds of the relators exactly as it did appear. Poetry, meaning by poetry such an imaginative form, and not merely the form, but the subject matter of the narrative, as, for instance, in the first chapters of St. Matthew and St. Luke, was the appropriate and perhaps necessary intelligible dialect; the vehicle for the most important truths of the gospel to later generations. The incidents, therefore, were so ordered, that they should thus live in the thoughts of men ; the revelation itself was so adjusted and arranged, in order that it might ensure its continued existence throughout this period. Could, it may be inquired, a purely rational or metaphysical creed have survived for any length of time during such stages of civilization?”—p. 67. Thus it seems that all the events recorded by the evangelist as facts, which involve the apparition of angels to Zachariah, to Mary, to Joseph, to the disciples at the tomb of the Saviour, &c. &c., are all to be explained as mere imaginations, and no more true than the dreams of other enthusiasts.
Of the temptation of Christ he suggests two explanations ; according to the one, it is a parabolic description of an actual event; according to another, of a kind of inward mental trial, which continued through the public career of Jesus." The latter, he says, is embarrassed with fewer difficulties; and according to this view, “at one particular period of his life, or at several times, the earthly and temporal thoughts thus parabolically described as a personal contest with the Principle of Evil, passed through the mind of Jesus, and arrayed before him the image constantly present to the minds of his countrymen, that of the author of a new temporal theocracy."-p. 75.
« There was a pool situated most likely to the north of the temple, near the sheep-gate, the same, probably, through which animals intended for sacrifice were usually brought into the city. The place was called Beth-esda, (the house of mercy,) and the pool was supposed to possess most remarkable properties for healing diseases. At certain periods there was a strong commotion in the waters, which probably bubbled up from some chymical cause connected with their medicinal effects. Popular belief, or rather, perhaps, popular language, attributed this agitation of the surface, to the descent of an angel; for of course the