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SECT. XXI. An answer to the objection of the Christians worshipping many gods.
IT remains that we answer two accusations, which the Jews assault the doctrine and worship of the Christians with. The first is this; they affirm that we worship many gods: but this is no more than an odious explication of a doctrine which appears strange to them. For there is no more reason why this should be objected against the Christians, than against Philo the Jew,719719 Concerning the sacrifices of Abel and Cain. “When God, attended with his two principal powers, government and goodness; himself, who is one only, being between them, he framed three conceptions in the contemplative soul: each of which can by no means be comprehended, for his powers are unlimited; they each contain the whole.” Afterwards he calls government, power; and goodness, he calls beneficence; and says, that they are not pronounced by a pious mind, but kept in silent secrecy. And the same we find in his book of Cherubim. In the second book of the husbandry of Noah, he mentions existence, the governing power, the merciful power. Maimonides, in the beginning of his book of fundamentals, and after him Joseph Albo, distinguish in God, “that which understandeth; that by which any thing is understood; and the understanding.” We find something belonging to this matter in Abenesdras, on Gen. xviii. and Maimonides’s guide to the doubting, part i. chap. 68. who often affirms, that there 222are three things in God; and he calls the reason, or word of God, the name of God,720720 In his Allegories, and of the Confusion of Tongues. the Maker of the world,721721 In his Allegories: “His word, by making use of which, as of an instrument, he made the world.” Concerning Cain: “The word of God was the instrument by which it (the world) was made.”—(The word λόγον might better be translated reason, here in Philo, as I have abundantly shewn in the dissertation on the beginning of St. John. Le Clerc.) not unbegotten as is God the Father of all;722722 The place is in the book, entitled, Who shall inherit divine things. The same word is called by Philo, the image of God, in his book of monarchy: and in that of dreams sent by God; sometimes ἀπεικόνισμα, the resemblance, as in the book entitled, The wicked lay snares for the righteous. Sometimes χαρακτὴρ, the form, as in book ii. of agriculture. Compare John i. Heb. i. 3. nor yet begotten in like manner as men are: the same is likewise called the angel, or the ambassador,723723 He calls him Ἄγγελον, angel, in his Allegories, and in his book of Cherubim; Ἀρχάγγελον, archangel, in his book entitled, Who shall inherit divine good things, and in his book of The confusion of tongues. And the same is called angel and יהוה Jehovah by r. Samuel in Mecor Chaim. who takes care of the universe by Philo himself, and by Muses the sun of Nehemannus:724724 The learned Masius has translated his words thus, on the vth chapter of Joshua: “That angel, to speak the truth, is the angel, the Redeemer, of whom it is written, because my name is in him. That angel, I say, who said to Jacob, I am the God of Bethel. He of whom it is said, And God called Moses out of the bush. And he is called an angel, because he governs the world. For it is written, Jehovah (that is, the Lord God) brought us out of Egypt: and in other places, He sent his angel, and brought us out of Egypt. Besides it is written, And the angel of his presence hath made them safe; namely, that angel which is the presence of God, concerning whom it is said, My presence shall go before, and I will cause thee to rest. Lastly, this is that angel of whom the prophet said, and suddenly the Lord whom ye seek shall come into his temple, even the angel of the covenant, whom ye desire.” And again, other words of the same person to this purpose “Consider diligently what those things mean; for Moses and the Israelites always wished for the first angel; but they could not rightly understand who he was. For they had it not from others, nor could they arrive fully at it by prophetic knowledge. But the presence of God signifies God himself, as is confessed by all interpreters; neither could any one understand those things by dreams, unless he were skilled in the mysteries of the law.” And again; “My presence shall go before, that is, the angel of the covenant whom ye desire, in whom my presence will be seen. Of whom it is said, I will hear thee in an acceptable time; for my name is in him, and I will make thee to rest; or I will cause him to be kind and merciful to thee. Nor shall he guide thee by a rigid law, but kindly and gently.” Compare with this, what we find in Manasses Conciliator, in the xix. quest. on Genesis.—(The name of this rabbi’s father may better be pronounced Nachman, for it is written נחמן. Nahhman. Le Clerc.) 223or against the cabalists,725725 See the appendix to Schindler’s Hebrew Lexicon, in the characters אכו. And the book called Schep-tal says ספרות Siperoth. Number in God does not destroy his unity. who distinguish God into three lights, and some of them by the same names as the Christians do, of the Father, Son or Word, and Holy Ghost. And to take that which is chiefly allowed amongst all the Hebrews; that spirit by which the prophets were moved is not any created thing, and yet is distinguished from him that seat it; as likewise that which is commonly called the Schechinah.726726 And they distinguish it from the Holy Ghost. See the Jerusalem Gemara, entitled concerning instructions, chap. 3. And the Babylonish Gemara, entitled Joma, chap. 1. R. Jonathan, in his preface to Ecka Rabthi, says, that the Schechinah remained three years and a half upon mount Olivet, expecting the conversion of the Jews; which is very true, if we apprehend him right. Now, many of the Hebrews have this tradition,727727 Rabbi Solomon, on Genesis xix. 18. acknowledges, that God can take upon him human nature, which he thinks was formerly done for a time; to which agrees the Talmud, entitled Schebuoth and Sabbathoth. that that divine power, which they call Wisdom, should dwell in the Messiah, whence the Chaldee paraphrast 224calls the Messiah the Word of God;728728 As Hosea i. 7.—(But they are mistaken who think that the Chaldee paraphrast means any thing else by the Name of God, but God himself; as a very learned man hath shewn, in the balance of truth, published in the year 1700, a long time after the author’s death. Le Clerc.) as the Messiah is also called by David, and others, by the venerable name of God,729729 Namely, יהוה Jehovah; Jonathan and David Kimchi, on Jeremiah xxiii. 6. with which agrees Abba in Ecka Rabthi. יהוה צבאות. Jehovah Sabaoth, Zachariah xiv. 16. The Talmud in Taanith, from Isaiah xxv. 9. saith, in that time God, יהוה Jehovah, shall be shewn, as it were, with the finger. and also of Lord.730730 אלהים Elohim, Psalm xlv. 7. which psalm, the Chaldee paraphrast there owns, treats of the Messiah, as he did before in that place of Isaiah now cited. Also אדוני Adonai, in Psalm cx. which treats of the Messiah, as will presently appear.
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