Page images
PDF
EPUB

to the dulia offered to and the media through him to God the Father-("I tion sought from the angelic hierarchy, in them and thou in me."-John, xvii. and canonized saints, in the Greek and 23). Why, then, worship or seek Roman Churches ; the prophecy itself union with these Eons or secondary connecting with these doctrines of emanations of divinity, which the daimons" two other characteristics, Gnostics, “intruding into the things the “ forbidding to marry and com- which they had not seen," proclaimed manding to abstain from meats," and as the chain of celestial intelligences what seems to overthrow the applica- descending from the Deity to man, and tion usually made by Roman commen- forming the ladder by which, on the tators of this passage also, to the other hand, man must reascend up to Manicheans, Marcionites, and other the Deity; and which Eons, from their Gnostic sects - expressly fixing the professed analogy to, and identity with period of this departure from the faith the Jewish SEPHIROTH, or angelic emato "the latter times."

nations, the apostle, with great proThe passage in 1 Cor. x. 20, 21, priety, calls angels? And as it was where St. Paul speaks of the sacri. in regard of these Sephiroth, Eons, or fices to, the fellowship with, the cup angelic powers of the half judaizing and the table of daimons (for daimonia half philosophising Gnostic, so was it in is the word used in these passages) are respect of the daimons, not devils, but not only capable of a similar interpre- secondary divinities, and subordinate tation, but the analogy of the apostle's ministering powers of the supreme God, arguments, and the harmony of his worshipped by the Gentiles. For acsentiments, demand it. For, although cording to the belief of the polite and the notion that the sacrifices offered educated Gentiles, with which St. by the heathens, were really offered to Paul, it is manifest, was well acquaint. and received by actual devils, i.e., by ed, their whole pantheon consisted of wicked angels, ministers of Satan, and these daimoniac or secondary numina, true diaboloi, would fall in most with operating intermediately between man the popular ideas which prevailed in and the inaccessible God; and their the patristic Church ; and which were sacrifices and divinations reached no salutary, and, one might almost say, higher than the former. This is eviprovidential, inasmuch as they greatly dent from the following passage from contributed to the extinction of the Plato, Sympos I. e.-" Through this Pagan idolatry throughout Europe (the daimon agency) doth the whole that wonderful fact in the history of of the divining art hold its course; the world, which even Gibbon pauses and the skill of the priests, and of for a moment to contemplate, as merit. those engaged about the sacrifices, and ing the attention of the philosopher; initiations, and incantations, and the yet, if we weigh well the various pas. whole of divination and sorcery. But sages of St. Paul, and endeavour to God doth not mingle with man"_and raise ourselves to the height of his the whole Platonic system presents great argument, we think it must be the same view of those gods whom acknowledged that his ideas were of a man worships, that they are merely different, and of a far more lofty cha- duimons, genii, or angels. racter, as, indeed, they ever are, when Thus also we read in Leslie's brought into comparison with those “Case Stated," section 32:which predominate in the writings of the Fathers. In Colossians, ii. 18, 19,

“ The word gods is frequently given he warns the members of the Church

in Scripture to angels; and to men, as against that " voluntary humility,”

ministers of God; and thus the heathens which, instead of leading them

understood it, and supposed their gods to

to “ hold the Head," should beguile them

be such ministers; as Æolus to govern

the winds, Neptune the sea, &c. Thereinto a “worshipping of angels." In fore they called them Dii Mediorumi, the table and cup of the Lord, they inferior gods, as standing in the middle held and were united to that Head, and between the supreme God and us, to

and other early heretics, who mixed ideas borrowed from Plato, from Zoroaster, and even from lodia, with the teachings of the Rabbis and the doctrines of the Redeemer ; and endeavoured to render them acceptable to the Church, by clothing them in a Hebrew or Christian phraseology.

succour or punish us according to his orders."

And St. Augustine, whom Leslie quotes, represents the heathens as thus declaring, in their own defence, on this point:

“Non colimus mala dæmonia; angelos quos dicitis, ipsos et nos colimus, virtutes Dei Magni et mysteria Dei Magni.”

“ We do not worship EVIL DEMONS or spirits, but we worship those whom you (Christians) call ANGELS, the POWERS of the Great God, and the MYSTERIES of the Great God."

And this is precisely the sense in which St. Paul everywhere employs the word daimons, viz., as supposed inferior numina or ministering powers, standing in the middle betwirt the Supreme God and man. Nowhere does the apostle, as St. Augustine and the fathers did, assert that these daimons were devils, or evil spirits. He condemns, indeed, everywhere the worship of any but the one God; and the acknowledgment of, or fellowship with, any other intermediate protecting or interceding power, standing in the middle betwixt the Supreme God and man, than the one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ. He condemns, therefore, as alike opposed to this single worship, and this one mediation, the two kindred forms of error, that of the Gnostics worshipping and depending on the mediation of angels, and that of the heathens worshipping and depending on the mediation of daimons, or mediorumi. The error was in essence the same. For what, in reality, were the daimoniac powers worshipped by the Gentiles-what were these Dii mediorumi, these powers and mysteries of the Great God, but another name for the divine emanations of the Gnostics? And as St. Paul, on account of the latter claiming to be identical with the angelic Seph. iroth of the Jews, condemns them under the Jewish phraseology of an gels; so, in condemning the Gentile error, he employs that term which the Gentiles themselves used to denote an inferior divinity or angelic power, namely, the term daimon ; and he employs it, beyond all question, in a Gentile sense.

Let us examine carefully the apostle's language regarding the eating and

drinking of things offered to idols :“ We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many and lords many); but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge, for some, with conscience of the idol unto this hour, eat it as a thing offered unto an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled."-1 Cor. viii. 4-7.

Now what, we would here ask, is meant by the conscience being weak, or by eating with conscience of the idol ? This scrupulosity, which proceeded from deficiency of knowledge, could not refer to any deliberate and voluntary worship, either of the material idol, or of the power supposed to be tabernacled in, or represented by it; for these had been manifest sins against the first and second commandments, which no amount of knowledge could render less sinful-sins, too, unlikely to have been committed by these converts, who are represented not as wicked, but only as unenlightened, and, in consequence, scrupulous. This weakness of conscience, therefore, this eat. ing with conscience of the idol unto this hour, must refer to those converts who, still imagining the idol to be really and truly something in the world, felt it wrong to eat of the meat and drink of the cup offered to it, lest this act, which was held of a sacramental character, might involve some constructive worship, some religious connexion, some spiritual fellowship, with that inferior numen, whom they still supposed to be a true existence, either inherent in, or represented by, the material idol. And such a scruple nothing but the knowledge to which St. Paul alludes, of the utter nothingness of an idol in the world-of there being but one God, and but one Lord and Mediator between God and man -- and that, consequently, all other gods, and lords, and mediating pumi. na, were absolutely nonentities in the universe to him who held these two fast-could suffice to remove. Although, therefore," meat commendeth us not to God, for neither if we eat are we the better, neither if we eat

not are we the worse;" although the mere eating, to those who had knowledge, was no sin in itself, and on their own account, St. Paul adds, “ Take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling-block to them that are weak. For, if any man see thee, which hast knowledge, sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; and through thy know. ledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died" (v. 9, 11). But how perish, if there be intrinsically no sin in the action ? By violating, or, as it is said in the above quotation, defiling his own weak conscience; by doing that which he fears is wrong, which he is not firmly persuaded is lawful, according to that imperishable canon of the conscience, contained in the concluding words of the subjoined extract - words so often misunder. stood, so often quoted isolated from their context, and applied in a doctrinal sense to an intellectual belief; but which, read with that context, contain the sum and essence of a consci. entious morality, and clearly mean, that whatever we do with the least doubt or scruple, without a full persuasion of its being right, is thereby alone sin to us—because, however intrinsically innocent, we thereby violate our con. science, and go on to do, when the internal monitor, devoid of knowledge, but faithful, commands us to refrain.

« Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind, Rom xiv. 5; there is nothing unclean of itself: but, to him that esteemeth anything unclean, to him it is unclean, v. 14—he that doubteth is damned, [condemned], if he eat, because he eateth not of faith, [not fully persuaded in his own mind of its being lawful] : for, whatsoever is not of faith, is sin,” v. 23.

Thus, therefore, in the foregoing passage from 1 Cor. viii., St. Paul, maintaining the absolute nothingness of idols in the world—which he could hardly have done, were they the real tabernacles of evil spirits-yet counsels the enlightened brethren to abstain from eating meats offered to them, out of tenderness to the weak con sciences of the unenlightened. But, in chap. x. of the same epistle he returns to the subject, and advances another argument, grounded upon the

effect such otherwise innocent partici. pation would have, and the infidelity it would apparently imply to their own Lord, in a sphere where the Gentile ideas regarding the power, ministration, and mediation of daimons, or a multitude of intermediate secondary deities, prevailed. It is true, argues the apostle, that the material idol itself is nothing in the world : and that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is nothing. But, though this be so, what are the ideas connected with these things ? What is the belief and intention of the Gentiles in sacrific. ing? The things which they sacrifice they sacrifice not to God- not to that one only supreme God, the Father whom we worship; but to daimons ; to a multitude of inferior numina_of those that are called gods, whether in heaven, or in earth (viii. 5)-to the powers and mysteries of the great God-to Di Mediozumi, or inferior ministering and mediating powersstanding in the middle betwixt the supreme God and man.--The worship of such mediate ministering powers, or inferior gods, whether called, as by the Manichean, and other Gnostic sects, who adopted a Persian and Jewish phraseology, angels ; or, as by the Greek Gentiles, daimons—the apostle everywhere condemns, pronouncing it an intruding into those things which we have not seen, and an abandoning of the Head. Everywhere he preaches the One God, and the One MEDIATOR between God and man, to the exclusion of all other. And, as the partaking of the meats, and the cup, offered to these idols, would have symbolized, both to the Christian devoid of knowledge, and weak in conscience, and who eat with conscience of the idol unto this hour; and to the Gentiles who performed and assisted at the sacrifice, and witnessed the subsequent participation on the part of the Christians-an acknowledgment of, and a sacrificial fellowship with these daimons, or secondary mediating gods, would have been inconsistent, therefore, and incompatible with that fellowship which they had with their own Lord, by the broken bread, which was the partaking of his body-and the cup of blessing, which was the communion of his blood; would have been, in the face of the Gentile world, a treason against,

and a renunciation of Christ's sole be disposed to go; whatsoever is set mediatorship, and a pernicious sanc. before you, eat, asking no questions tion to the Gentile belief in, and for conscience sake. But if any man dependance on, this multitude of in say unto you, this is offered in ferior mediating divinities; the apostle sacrifice unto idols, eat not, for his would not have them hold, even in sake that shewed it, and for conscience appearance, a fellowship with these; sake; - conscience, I say, not thine and would wish them to refrain from own, but of the other; for why is my participations, the intention and ideas liberty judged of another man's conattached to which, by the Gentiles, science? For, if I by grace be a were a contradiction of, and wholly partaker, why am I evil-spoken of for incompatible with those symbolized in that for which I give thanks?"-1 Cor. their own holy sacrament.“ What say x. 27, 30. J, then ? that the idol is anything? or From the whole of the above, it is that which is offered in sacrifice to apparent that there was no intrinsic idols is anything? But I say, that evil in eating meats offered to idols. the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, The evil arose, first, when those who they sacrifice to DAIMONS, and not to had not this knowledge-viz., that an GOD_and I would not that ye should idol is nothing in the world, and that bave fellowship with DAIMONS. Ye there is but one God, and one Lord, cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and Mediator-eating with conscience and the cup of DAIMONS. Ye cannot of the idol, defiled their weak conbe partakers of the Lord's table, and science. Secondly, when those who of the table of DAIMONS. Do we pro had knowledge, by eating those meats voke the Lord to jealousy?"-1 Cor. in the idol's temple, or elsewhere, in X. 19, 22. Now, jealousy would not presence of the weak, emboldened the be the term for the sentiment which latter, by their example, to sin against their conduct would justly excite, if their own secret scruples and convicthese participations constituted a wor- tions. Thirdly, when those more enship of, and sacramental fellowship lightened Christians, by participating with, infernal spirits. Such a crime in meats offered to idols, in presence were the most deliberate apostasy and of the Gentiles, whether in the idol's worship of Satan. But the-even temple, or in the house of the heathen apparent and constructive-acknow. entertainer after some one had said, ledgment of and holding fellowship with « This is sacrificed to idols"-(for, apy but the One Mediator, through this may be either the warning of a whom they had fellowship with the scrupulous Christian, or a declaration One God the Father; this infidelity and invitation to the sacrificial partici. before the eyes of the Gentile world - pation, on the part of the Gentile to their own Lord, is appropriately host) --when they, by such sacramendescribed as provocative of jealousy tal participation, in presence of the in Him who loved them, and washed Gentiles, lent the apparent sanction of them in his blood, and would have their example to the belief in, and their undivided love in return. “ All worship of, and dependance on, and things,” adds the apostle, immediately fellowship with, a multitude of daiafter the above passage, “are lawful mons, i. e., of subordinate gods and for me, but all things are not expe. mediators, instead of signifying, by dient." And why? Because “all their refusal, and refraining from par. things edify not. Let no man seek his ticipations connected_by religious asown, but every man another's wealth sociations and rites—with such ideas, (welfare),” v. 23, 24. Thus, it is clear their belief in, and worship of the one that the prohibitive counsel is given, sole God and their dependance on, not on account of anything intrinsic and fellowship with, the one sole Meany real fellowship with daimons-in diator between God and man. For, the act itself; but on account of its ef. had their offerings been really made fect upon the mind and belief of others. to, and really received by wicked " Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, spirits-diaboloi-truly existing in or that eat, asking no questions for con. about the idols, as the patristic church science sake"--but, “ If any of them believed—and had a participation in that believe not (i. C., any of the them, as in that case it must have Gentiles) bid you to a feast, and ye done constituted a real sacramental

VOL. XXXII.NO, CXC.

[ocr errors]

fellowship with such diaboloi,could the apostle's eating have been thus harm less ? Could he by grace have been a partaker, and have given thanks ? Undoubtedly not.

On the other hand, how accordant is our interpretation with the language of St. Paul on another occasion, when he addressed the Athenians from the Hill of Mars, as related in Acts, xvii. We are there told that “his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry" (v. 16); and thus he addressed its inhabitants (v. 22)—" Ye men of Athens, I per. ceive that in all things ye are too 84. perstitious." In the original, deisi. daimon-esterous [ducidasjonerTipous], a word which signifies literally “over. given to fear or reverence daimons" i. e. (according to the belief of the Athenians, to whom this language is addressed) mediate celestial powers, superior to, and exercising providence over man, but inferior to the supreme and highest God: for such the multitude of deities worshipped by the hea. thens, whose shrines rose on every side of the speaker and his auditory, con. fessedly were, according to their own account. And thus Leslie says, upon this very passage :--" They (the Athenians) had blended the worship of God with these inferior gods or demons, which was their superstition, for so the word signifies -- ducidas joyid --- the fear of these demons." And again “ They owned these to be lesser gods, and only the virtues and powers of the Great God.” To proceed, however, with the Apostle's address :-“ For, as I passed by, and beheld your devo tions, I found an altar with this inscription-- TO THE UNKNOWN Gop" (v. 23). This is the proof St. Paul ad. duces. So addicted were they to fear and propitiate by their worship a multitude of these daimons or celestial protectors, that, lest perhaps they had missed, and should incur the anger of any, they had erected and dedicated this altar to the unknown God. Now, it is self-evident that St. Paul here attaches to the idea of daimon, which is embodied in the word he makes use of, not the sense of a wicked, infernal spirit, but the favourable sense of the Athenians themselves- viz., a subor. dinate celestial power- an angelic protector and mediator using the word angelic to denote the nature in

termediate between God and man. And what is the remedy he proposes, to cure them of this servile fear and propitiation of subordinate daimoniac powers — this “voluntary humility" and “worshipping of angels ?" Precisely that which he holds forth in all his writings. Taking advantage of the inscription to THE UNKNOWN GOD, he makes this happy transition « Whom, therefore, ye ignorantly worship, bim I declare unto you-God that made the world," &c. And then he leads them gradually, and with consummate skill, to that “ day when he will judge the world in righteousness, BY THAT MAN WHOM HE HATH ORDAINED, whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (v. 31). Thus, whether he warn against Gnostic errors, or caution against wounding weak brethren's consciences, and countenancing the Gentiles in their false belief and worship, by an inexpedient participation in the meats sacrificed by the latter, as they themselves supposed and intended, to a multitude of daimons, or secondary celestial powers, or preach to the daimonfearing Athenians, or refer to the revival of this daimon-worship in the latter times, one idea is ever uppermost in his mind, one theme upon his tongue--the one true God, and the one Mediator between God and man: the renunciation of that voluntary hu. mility or self-abasement, which deemed itself unworthy of access to the Most High; of all worshipping of angels ; of all reverence of and fellowship with daimons, or secondary celestial mediators; or with any divine powers short of the very highest. He would raise man above all this, and place him on that elevated position in the celestial hierarchy, which Christ had purchased for him by his death. He would have him hold the Head, admit of no spiritual fellowship but that of his own Lord; and, haring this great High Priest, he would have him go boldly unto the throne of grace, and prepare himself to judge angels, rather than worship them. In all these views, as propounded and enforced, in different forms of speech, upon three or four different classes of men, there is a wonderful elevation and harmony, which, if not utterly destroyed, is at least very much low

« PreviousContinue »