Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

refers to the immediate antecedent which is Jesus Christ. And to whom does this refer in the following text ?_2 John, 7.

Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an anti-christ.”

Who is a deceiver and an anti-christ? The tritheist, if he follows

any

consistent principle of interpretation should answer Jesus Christ, for he is the immediate antecedent. But any one though superficially acquainted with the Scriptures, must know that the pronoun and relative frequently refer not to the proximate, but the remote antecedent, as in the present instance. See also, John, vi. 50. 1 John, ii. 22. Acts. i. 22. We must be guided by sense and reason, not hy mere rules of grammatical arrangement. It requires no aid from syntax to fearn that by him that is true, we must understand the only living and true God. This, our Saviour himself fectly plain, when he says, “ This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”—John, xvii. 3. The Apostle, most probably, had this sen. timent in his remembrance, wben he wrote the words on which we are commenting. They are in fact but an elliptical expres. sion of the same thought. We maintain then, that the words this is the true God and eternal life, refer solely to God, the Father-who has revealed the life to come by our Lord Jesus Christ. The distinction between the Father and the Son is elearly marked in the verse itself; and it is paying a poor compliment to the judgment of an inspired Apostle, to suppose that he would say of Christ that he was the Son of God, and the true God, in the same sentence, and affiron that the one came to give us an understanding of the other, if both were identically

ders per

one.

No Christian prior to the Council of Nice, appears to have understood this verse in the Trinitarian sense. The Father Al mighty alone was universally acknowledged to be the true God, Whiston says,

“ The Athanasians shew no citation or interpretation of it in their sense, before the days of Athanasius. Nay, somewhat after his days, his great admirer Ephiphanius, who was incomparably a more honest and learned Athanasian, than he whom he admired, evidently appears to have been an entire stranger to that exposition : having plainly let us know that he had never heard of any text whatsoever that called the Son the true God; though for want of such a text, like a thorough Athanasian, he pretends to prove he might be so called, by consequence of his own making."

The Athanasians find a similar proof of the Deity of Christ in John, xx. 28. “ And Thomas answered and said unto him, my Lord and my God."

Thomas was a Jew-a believer in the one invisible and immortal God-a disciple of Christ-incredulous-a sceptic who required no less than ocular and palpable proof that the body of Christ bad become re-animated and arisen from the dead. Our Lord condescended to give him the proof required, on which

Orcasion he uttered the words just quoted. Now, what do we learn from them? The Athanasians would bave us believe that this incredulous Apostle who would not credit the testimony of his fellow disciples as to a plain matter of fact, passed in a moment to the belief, of which he bad not the least previous hint or conception, that in the crucified Jesus, whose flesh he handled, and whose wounds he felt, he saw, touched and addressed the infinite and incomprehensible Jehovah, whom he had been taught to think no man could see and live! That he whom he had so lately beheld nailed to a cross, and mortally wounded by a Ro.. man spear-was Jehovah of hosts—the Lord God of Israel, who liveth and reigneth for ever and ever! Verily, the credulity of the Athanasians exceeds, the incredulity of Thomas ! But the Saviour's address to his disciple sufficiently proves the gross folly and absurdity of such imaginations. " Jesus said unto Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed.” Believed what? That of which he had previously doubted,-Christ's resurrection. Our Lord continues, “ blessed, or happy, (paragros) are they who. have not seen, and yet have believed."-Not seen and yet be. lieved what? Not seen Christ personally, as Thomas had seen him—and yet believed that he was actually risen. There is not the slightest ground for any of the Athanasian whims in the whole passage. Thomas, under the influence of excited and wonderstruck feeling, gave way to his emotion, as was perfectly natural, by apostrophizing God. All men under such impressions, express themselves in language precisely similar. Thus, when Gideon saw that one with whom he had been conversing was an angel of Jehovah—he said, “ Alas, O Lord Jehovah ! for because I have seen an angel of Jehovah, face to face.—Judg. vi. 22. Thus, Jonathan in the ardour of his friendship,” said unto David, O Jehovah God of Israel, when I have sounded my Father, &c."-1 Sam. xx. 12. Had Thomas been capable of embodying all his feelings in words, he might have uttered some ejaculations like these, in addition to “my Lord and my God.It is then true! I doubt no longer! Here is proof! I yield to conviction ! O my God, how great is thy power, how wonderful thy deeds! Now, I see, now I believe that thou hast indeed raised from the dead, thy holy child Jesus! That our Saviour understood him thus is evident from his address to the disciple.--Milton refers the words my Lord to Christ, and my God to the Father, who had testified that Christ was his Son, by raising him from the dead. The whole comment of this great genius on

is well entitled to the readers serious consideration. He regards the words of Thomas as an abrupt exclamation in an exstacy of wonder, and deems it incredible

the
passage
before

us,

“ That he should have so quickly understood the hypostatic union of that person whose resurrection he had just before disbelieved. Accordingly the faith of Peter is commended —blessed art thou, Simon— for having only said thou art the Son of the Living God. --Matt. xvi, 16, 17, The faith of

Thomas, although, as it is commonly explained, it asserts the divinity of Christ in a much more remarkable manner, is so far from being praised, that it is undervalued, and almost reproved.— Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed : blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. An yet, though the slowness of his belief may have deserved blame, the testimony borne by him to Christ as God, which if the common interpretation be received as true, is clearer than occurs in any other passage, would undoubtedly have met with some commendation; whereas it obtains none whatever."

Our Saviour's declaration to Philip is also frequently advanced by advocates of the Trinity, as a strong proof of their · doctrine. But like all their other texts, when weighed in the balance of fair criticism, it will be found wanting. Let us try. Our Lord said unto Thomas,

I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.

If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also; and from henceforth ye know him and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father ; and how sayest thou then, sliew us the Father?”-John, xiv. 6, 9.

There are only two ways of understanding these words, literally or figuratively. If we take them literally, they will prove too much, like many other texts, viz. that Christ is the Fatherand the Father of himself! Moreover, they will deny that Jehovah is the invisible king, whom no man hath seen, nor can see," as he is denominated in 1 Tim. i. 17. vi. 16. and contradict the indisputable truth, " that no man hath seen God at any time.” They are to be understood then figuratively, and the meaning is this: Had ye known me, or formed a right judgment of those divine virtues which have been so conspicuous in my words and actions, ye would have acquired a just knowledge of the perfections of God; but from henceforth ye both know him, because I have more fully revealed him; and have seen him, because I have presented his character more closely to your contemplation. Philip, not apprehending his true meaning, said, *6 shew us the Father and it sufficeth us,” our Lord's interrogatory reply conveys some rebuke to Philip's hebetude in misconceiving him so grossly, and in making so extravagant a request. v Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?_He that hath seen me, bath seen the Father.” His language now becoming so much more palpably figurative, that even Philip, it is presumed, could not mistake him as intending to convey the idea that he who saw Christ, saw as close a similitude of God as can be presented to the mind of man ; even the 66

express image" of the invisible Jehovah. And to prevent all farther possibility of inisconception, le adds, "Be. lievest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in me,” in the same sense as Jolm, when he says,

«« he that dwelleth in love; dwelleth in Gof, and God in him.” 6 The words that I speak unto you, I SPEAK NOT OF MYSELF, but the Father

that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”_Our Lord declared that he and the Father are one-one in the same sense as his disciples are one with him, not in essence, but as Milton expresses it, “ in love, in communion, in agreement, in charity, in spirit, in glory.” He therefore, who saw the Son, saw the Father; not by corporeal but intellectual vision; not in physical essence, but in moral beauty and perfection.

If he who bas seen a picture, a statue, or medallic representation of any distinguished personage, being struck by the exact resemblance to the original, should say, in the fervour of admi. ration, it is he-his very self !—there would be little danger of his being misunderstood. If we should call a pupil by the name of his instructor, as a compliment to his talents or virtues, or on account of some striking mental similitude; we should scarcely be accused of the folly of identifying their minds or persons:

When Pythagoras was asked, “what is a friend ?” he replied, “another 1,” i. e. one resembling himself in affection and understanding. We have some Luthers, many Calvins, and peradventure, John Knoxes, in our own times; but who will venture to affirm of any one of them that he is really Luther, or Calvin, or Knox? It is only when certain theolo. gical systsms must be supported, that men forget or distort the established

usages of language, and confound SIMILITUDE with IDENTITY.

When the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews terms our Saviour, “ the brightness of God's glory, and the express image* of his person," he uses two familiar illustrations to exalt our ideas of his dignity and excellence. The one is taken from the reflected splendour of a luminons body, viz: the Shekinah; the other from the art of stamping impressions on wax or metal. Christ is to God as a parhelion, or reflection of the sun is to the sun itself; or as a beam of light to the everlasting fountain of day whence it issues; and as the likeness on a coin or medal, to the monarch whom it represents. These are illustrations which can be understood and valued, till creed-makers throw over the one the dark cloud of their comments; and tarnish and obscure both the image and the superscription of the other, with the eanker of their metaphysics.

Had any Evangelist or Apostle said of Christ, what Stephen said of Moses, that he was (KOTELOS TW Jew) beautiful to God, or divinely beautiful;—or what the daughter of Pharaoh, accord

Repercussus Divinæ Majestatis, qualis est solis in nube qui dicitur παρηλιος. .

* Alia comparatio a sigillo annuli, cujus forma ceræ imprimitur.-GROTIUS.

Wakefield renders the passage thus, being a beam of his glory, and an image of his substance.” He thinks “the allusion not to a metaphysical substance, but to a seal or stamp, making an impression.

ing to Josepbus, said of him while yet a child, “ that he was (pogon Solov) in form, divine," an expression precisely similar to that of the Apostle, who says that Christ was in the form of Gort, how would such expressions have been tortured to prove the identity of the Son with the Father!

It is written of man himself that he is formed in the image of God. · But this is only a figurative mode of speaking; for even a heathen philosopher knew the nature of God too well to suppose that he could be represented by any object of sense, and that man bears a closer similitude to the Deity in his virtues than in his form,* Sach was the purity--the holiness-the boundless benevolence of the Saviour's character, independently of his miraculous powers; that he might well be said to be not only the image, but the express imaye of him whose love fills the universe.

SECTION EIGHTH.

The beginniny of John's Gospel contains no proof of the

Deity of Christ.

The Evangelist, John, informs us distinctly with what view he wrote his gospel, when he says, “ These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his name."-John xx. 31. Assuredly none of the evangelical writers, gives us such numerous proofs of the supremacy of the Father. Notwithstanding, the beginning of his gospel has been deemed favourable to the Trinitarian scheme. Others find in it nothing that cannot be much better explained on Unitarian principles. It informs us that “ in the beginning was the word.' The word, in the opinion of Lardner, Priestley, Lindsey, Fos, and other distinguished. Unitarian authors, is but another name for that reason, intelligence, or wisdom, - which is an essential attribute of the Deity. They allege that it is spoken of in such a manner by the Evangelist, as fully to justify them in affirming that he imitates that well-known passage of the Book of Proverbs, in which Wisdom is so beautifully personified. “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of bis way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. I was by him, as one brought up with him."-Prov. viii. 22, 23, 30. Thus John affirms that the divine principle which he calls logos, existed from the beginning—that it dwelt with Godnay, that it was virtually God himself— for that all the works of creation, and all the operations of his providence were made and con

* Cicero de Natura Deorum.

« AnteriorContinuar »