« AnteriorContinuar »
Lord's command, that we should at our baptism be admitted into the religious service and worship of the Holy Spirit. Religious service and worship, in the opinion both of Jews and Christians, must be offered to nothing created, whether man or angel. The Holy Spirit therefore, which is to receive our religious service and worship, must be more than man, more than angel; must be divine. XXXIX. It does not appear that the Jews objected to the mere expression "Son of God" abstractedly taken: the cause of their rage and the ground of their accusation was, that Christ applied this exalted title to himself; which they deemed blasphemy. We may hence draw these two inferences; the Jews had an idea there did exist one, whom they eminently styled the " Son of God ;" and the "Son of God" in their apprehension was essentially possessed of divine attributes.
XL. Comparison of text and context, common sense and the reason of the thing, will in most cases tell us when a word is to be taken in its usual and primary, and when in a figurative and secondary acceptation. Speaking of himself, our Lord says, "Before Abraham was, I am."" I came forth from the Father and am come into the world: again I leave the world and go to the Father."-"O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."—" I speak that which I have seen with my Father."" All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." To the high priest, who said with great earnestness, I adjure thee, by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ the Son of God," our Lord answered, "Thou hast said;" words which the Jews immediately understood to be directly and unequivocally affirmative. St. Mark's account is, "The high priest asked him, Art thou the Son of the Blessed?" and Jesus said, "I am." St. Luke's relation corresponds with St. Matthew's in phraseology; and both agree in sense with St. Mark. If on occasions where the context leads us not to expect parabolical illustration or metaphorical allusion, language thus explicit is not sufficiently clear and precise to prove the pre-existing glory and the present divinity of our Lord, words can have no meaning, and all language must be inadequate for conveying ideas.
XLI. It was expedient and necessary that at the close of his mission our Lord should assert himself to be "The Son of God." He makes the assertion in terms direct. We do not however find that in the course of his Ministry he is continually making mention of his divine character at all times and at all seasons indiscriminate ly, as though he rather wished the name of his divinity should be obtruded by repetition, than that the substance which that name imports should be collected by inference. He proceeds in a different manner, a manner more consonant with truth and more satisfactory to a candid mind. He performs extraordinary works: to those works he makes his appeal to the same, as to visible and palpable proofs, he refers us then on the fair ground of argumentative reasoning that extraordinary effects must proceed from adequate causes, he leaves us to form our own opinions. This is dealing with us as with rational Beings; free indeed to exercise the powers of judgment, but assura
edly accountable for the wilful neglect, or misapplication, or perversion of those powers.
XLII. The Evangelists undeniably describe our Lord as a Man. But did they mean nothing more than to describe him as a man only? If so, whence these expressions? "What manner of Man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?" (St. Matt. viii. 27.) "Thou art the Christ,the Son of the living God." (St. Matt. xvi. 16.) "Truly this was the Son of God." (Matt. xxvii. 54.) " I saw and bear record that this is the Son of God." (St. John i. 34.) "We believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." (St. John vi. 69.) "My Lord! and my God!" (St. John xx. 28.) No one, who understands the language of Scripture, will say the term "Son," as used in these passages, has no further import than what it usually implies in common acceptation. The Jews perfectly understood our Lord to intimate divinity of character by that appellation and hence their anger that he should assume to himself a title so exalted. The Evangelists then designed to represent his nature as also more than human. For this purpose they introduced the confessions made on several occasions, as testimonics to the divinity of his nature. The same divinity they proved also by recording a series of Facts, the result of constantly inherent powers, such as never resided in mere man.
Undeniably also Christ often styles himself "the Son of Man." But wherefore? In allusion to Dan. vii. 14, and with intimation that he was himself the character described by the prophet. What then is the representation of Christ's person and glory delineated by Daniel? Is it that of a mere Man? The plainest reader can answer, when he has considered these words; "I saw in the night vis-, ions, and behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him; And there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."
XLIII. To Christ, at the very opening of their respective Gospels, St. Matthew applies Isaiah's term "Emmanuel;" St. Mark the expression " Son of God;" St. John the appellation, which corresponds with the "Word of the Lord, the Word of Jehovah” in the Old Testament, but which "Word" he affirms "was made flesh and dwelt among us," the appellation of Aoys who "was with God, and was God." From such introductions to the narratives they proposed giving, they may be understood as professing that they believed Christ to be divine, and that they engaged to prove his divinity. These exordial declarations intimate what is to be expected in the sequel of the histories and conformably with them the subject is so pursued by a plain statement of extraordinary Facts, that the divine nature of our Lord is by far more strongly characterised than the human. There is nothing like elaborate composition, or studied period, in their Gospels; but from beginning to end in each there is one design. St. John tells you expressly, "These things are
written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God."
XLIV. The zeal of the Jews for the name of God is well known. How then can we account for St. Thomas's addressing himself on a most remarkable occasion in these words to Christ, "My Lord, and my God!" (St. John xx. 28.) We cannot sufficiently account for it otherwise, than by saying, that even to this Apostle, who was far from being credulous, the Resurrection appeared to be, as it certainly was, an incontestable proof that our Lord was, what he had asserted himself to be, in nature Divine. But if Divine in nature, then God.
XLV. To what extent the meaning of any word, or clause, is to be restricted, must be determined by the consideration of parallel passages and collateral circumstances. When our Lord replied, "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve;" (St. Matt. iv. 10.) he had in view the command in Deuteronomy. But the command in Deuteronomy, and many other similar injunctions throughout the sacred Books of the Old Testament, import this; "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only, in exclusion of all heathen gods represented by molten and carved images, the works of human hands." That our Lord did not mean to exclude the worship of himself is clear from the sequel. For, he admitted religious worship to be paid him he bade us honour himself as we honour the Father. And for this reason; Honour to him redounds to the glory of God the Father, because their divinity is one.
XLVI. The acceptation of gov must be determined by the context. On some occasions it is used to express the act of prostration, as a mark by which Orientals paid outward respect: on others, it is applied to express the same act accompanied with an inward sense of devotion, and therefore intended as a token of relig ious worship. When according to the Septuagint, Moses says in Exodus ii. 8. "All these thy servants shall come unto me and #geoxumoroi μs, the word is to be understood and rendered, as our English versions have understood and rendered it, "shall bow themselves down to me:" not in token of religious worship; but as a mark of respect. For neither could Moses mean to intimate, nor in itself was the circumstance such as might in any degree be expected to happen, that the Egyptian servants of Pharaoh, who were gross idolaters, and who detested the Israelites, should ever mean to worship Moses, though they prostrated themselves before him. "Bow themselves down" to him, as to a man whom they feared, they naturally might, in the hope of softening his resentment and prevailing on him to interpose for averting evil: but that they should intend to worship him as a God is inconceivable, because irreconcileable with Egyptian ideas. But, when, after our Lord had exercised command over the Elements, which at his word obeyed him, his disciples goriva aur (St. Matt. xiv. 33.) and accompanied their external act with this confession, "Of a truth thou art the Son of God!" when, after they had seen
an open manifestation of our Lord's divine glory at his ascension, the disciples were goσxumσavres auty, before they returned to Jerusalem (St. Luke xxiv. 52.) there can be no more doubt that they meant religious worship, than that St. Stephen meant actually to pray unto Christ, when in his dying moments he called on his Saviour, "Lord Jesus receive my spirit!" (Acts vii. 59.)
XLVII. Never after their return from captivity in Babylon, did the Jews relapse into idolatry. They held it in abhorrence. When therefore they offered to our Lord religious service, his disciples must have been convinced his nature was divine, on account of which it could not be idolatrous to adore him.
XLVIII. Some of the writings contained in the New Testament were denied to be genuine in the first instance; but were allowed to be such on subsequent consideration. Two conclusions may be drawn from this fact: "The primitive Christians scrupulously examined before they admitted Writings to be of authority :" and, "When once Writings had been admitted to be of authority, all doubts of their pretensions and characters must have been completely removed."
XLIX. The Books of the New Testament, as now received, were cited as Canonical by writers in the first four Centuries of the Christian era. The several writers, who from time to time cited them, lived much nearer the periods at which the respective Books were composed, and thence had means of obtaining more accurate information with regard to circumstances of external testimony, which established the authenticity of every Book, than can have been possessed by later inquirers. Devoutly therefore it is to be prayed, that the Canonical Scriptures, which have stood so many centuries unaltered, may never be sacrificed to any specious reasoning, or fanciful conjecture, or bold assertion of modern criticism; because in this particular branch modern criticism does not rest on ground so sure and strong as ancient Christian knowledge.
L. The Epistles contain the doctrines of the Apostles. Their doctrines we believe to be true, on account of the power with which they were endued to work miracles. The certainty of their miracles is demonstrated, not only by historical testimony, but by the effects produced in making converts from heathenism.
LI. Missionaries of modern times are deficient neither in ability, nor zeal, nor piety: yet the converts they make bear no proportion to the numbers whom the Apostles converted. The reason is this. Missionaries cannot produce immediate effect by working miracles. The Apostles did produce such effect by working miracles; and by thus giving visible proof of their divine mission to preach the Gospel, they converted Thousands, who yet through the influence of the word only preached, and unaccompanied with any extraordinary demonstrations of more than usual power, would probably never have renounced heathenism.
LII. Reflection on any subject presents to the mind certain ideas on that subject. Repetition and continuance of such reflection
fix those ideas. Ideas thus formed and fixed are often indelible, and they often so predominate as to shew themselves prominent of all suitable occasions. Consistency of sentiment produces consistency of language: the words perhaps may vary, but the general meaning of the expression will in effect be the same, when we deliver our thoughts on the same subject. The "xxλzázadix” of Socrates continually recurred to the good Xenophon. The ers of pur Lord was ever present to the mind of the sublime St. Paul, and impressed it so forcibly, that he labours for words sufficiently strong to convey adequately the conceptions he had formed. Hence these passages; "Who is over all, God blessed forever." (Rom. ix. 5.) "The Lord of Glory." (1 Cor. ii. 8.) "Who being in the form of God." (Phil. ii. 6.) "In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." (Col. ii. 9.) "God was manifest in the flesh." (1 Tim, iii. 16.) "The brightness of his (God's) glory, and express image of his person." (Heb. i. 3.) All which passages are by the Apostle used in reference to our Lord.
LIII. Our common Version of the New Testament renders the words of Rom. ix. 5, in terms corresponding with the Original, as they were read in Manuscripts received by the interpreters, and since defended by Mill. In this, as on many other occasions, our Translators gave proof of their fidelity, and shewed they had a right sense of the manner in which they were to give an interpretation of Scripture for Public Use. They were bound to give a Literal Translation. "Literal Translations (says Michaelis) are those, in which it it proposed to express the original text verbatim, notwithstanding the obscurity of many Phrases, and the inelegance of many Constructions, in the language into which the book is translated. It is expedient that the Translations, which are intended for the public use of the whole Church, should be of this kind. For in these the Translator should presume as little as possible to obtrude his Interpretation, if it be in the least exceptionable, upon a whole Church; for he is a man, and subject to error. If he doth not render verbatim certain Phrases, which admit of more than one Sense, he delivers, instead of the word of God, an arbitrary Interpretation of his own, which may chance to be false. The same consideration obliges the Translator to render all Ambiguities in the Original Text, if possible, by words equally ambiguous, in order to leave to his reader the Choice of that Sense which appears to him most probable. It is folly in Translations of this kind to study elegance of style, and so incur the hazard of laying before the Church a doubtful exposition instead of the pure word of God. For as public Translations of this kind must be kept in use for some centuries, without an alteration, and as the taste of a language varies with almost every generation of men, those beauties of style are soon decayed." Michaelis's Introduct. Lectures to H. Script. sect. 73. Translated by Butler in 1761.
These remarks are just, and should be observed by those, who at any time hereafter may be employed to revise our Translation of the Scripture. With all deference, let another hint be suggested. Such