« AnteriorContinuar »
been merely human, and still sleeping in the grave. It is clear then he believed Christ to be more than human ; to be raised from the grave ; to be the witness, the judge, the rewarder of his actions.
LX. The phrases “baptized in the name of Paul,” and “ baptized unto Moses,” occur in the First Epistle to the Corinthians (i. 13. X. 2). It is to be observed, that the sense of the self-same expression often varies, as the subject with which it is connected varies. The word “ Cultus” applied to “ Deorum" will signify “ worship :” applied to “ Arvorum," it will sig. nify “ Cultivation.” “ Pietas in Deos” means what we understand by religious “ piety :” “ Pietas in Parentes,” or “ in Fratres,” will mean
Filial,” or “ Fraternal affection." Θεραπεια (as used by Xenophon) from Men to Gods signifies "worship :" the same word implied in ate ganivetv (used by the same author, Mem. i. 4, 10) from Gods to Men, signifies providential care :” Ilisis in Acts (xvii. 31) is “an assurance given” that an event will happen : in Rom. (xiv. 23.) “ confident persuasion” that a thing is right : in Rom. (xii. 3.) “ a thing entrusted ;” in Rom. (i. 17.) “ faith in God's promises." “ To be baptized in the name of Paul,” means " to be admitted by baptism as the disciples of a religion instituted by Paul.” “To be baptized unto Moses," is a figurative expression, and, when applied to the Israelites, means to profess themselves followers of Moses, and engaged in the Mosaic Covenant." But “to be baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” means, to be admitted by baptism into a religion profes. sing belief that there is a Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ;” and then, through that relation in which man stands to each of those divine Persons in the work of Redemption, and through the moral obligation thence resulting, the same expression means by inference, “being admitted into a religion, which professes such belief, and also the worship of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” Being “ baptized unto Moses," could never mean“ the worshipping of Moses," because the idea of worshipping Moses is in itself blasphemous. But not blasphemous is the idea of worshipping the Father, because worship is due to the Father. Therefore, we may interpret" being baptized into the name of the Father,” as signifying “ into the worship of the Father," without impropriety. But if we can so take the words as implying religious duty towards the Father, we may take them as implying the same duty towards the Son, and towards the Holy Spirit. For, the same act of our mind, which either by di, rect sense, or by necessary and obvious deduction, can be understood in the expression us ovouse as extending to the Father, must be un. derstood as extending to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. And as the words 'Yox and Ilveupectos refer each to es ovopece, each object has reference to the same act of our mind.
LXI. In his zeal for true religion, St. Paul was much disturbed, when he beheld Athens full of idols. (Acts xvii. 16.) In the same spirit, on one occasion he denies the entity of those imaginary gods, which idols were formed to represent (1 Cor. viii. 4.) ; on another, he calls them “dumb idols.” (1 Cor. xii. 2.) With earnestness he proposes this question ; What agreement hath the temple of
God with idols ? (2 Cor. vi. 16.) He tells the Thessalonians it is to their praise, that they “turned to God from idols.” (1 Thess. i. 9.) Still farther. In his Epistle to the Colossians, he cautions them against being seduced to the worship of angels, as mediators between God and Man, lest by such worship they should lose their Christian reward. (Col. ii. 18.) It is however worthy of notice and consideration, that this same Apostle, who had thus expressed himself respecting idolatry and respecting angel-worship, nevertheless says to the Corinthians, “ I besought the Lord,” i. e. Christ, intimating thereby an act of prayer (2 Cor. xii. 8.); and to Timothy, “ I thank Christ Jesus our Lord ;” implying the power of Christ to hear those thanks. (1 Tim. i. 12.) He exhorts the Ephesians to give thanks for all things unto God the Father, “ in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. v. 20.) He animates the Roman Converts by an assurance,“ that Christ is risen again, is even at the right hand of God, and makes intercession for us ; (Rom. viii. 34.) by which exhortation and by which assurance St. Paul must be understood as telling them, that when prayers were offered on the ground of Christ's perfect righteousness and all-sufficient atonement, our Lord heard them, and makes them accepted of the Father, in whose glory he is most highly exalted. And now let us ask; Is it probable, that an Apostle thus zealous against idolatry, and thus strenuous against angel-worship, should yet himself adore and admonish others to adore Christ with religious service, if he had not been actually convinced that Christ was really existing in that region where God's glory is particularly manifested, and that he was endued with attributes more than angelic? The adoration paid by himself, and the direction given to others for similar practice, must, consistently with St. Paul's sentiments, language, and actions, be considered as proofs that he believed the existence and the divinity of Christ. He forbids worshipping idols ; he forbids worshipping angels ; yet he himself worships and bids others worship Christ ; Christ therefore must be more than angel ; and if more than angel, God.
LXII. When St. Peter styled our Lord tov Agxayou (wns, the Leader, who would conduct us to eternal life ;" Acts iii. 15. when of our Lord he boldly affirmed before the Jewish Rulers, “ Him hath God exalted to be agxayov xatu Ewingu, a Leader to eternal life and a Saviour ;" Acts v. 31. when he shewed the completion of Daniel's prophecy, ii. 44, concerning Christ's eternal kingdom, and called him “ Lord of All;" Acts x, 36. when St. John denominated him to be our“ Advocate with the Father," interceding in behalf of penitent sinners; 1 St. John ii. 1. did these Apostles then si jak of Christ, as of a man still sleeping in the grave ? as of a person distinguished by no characteristics peculiar to himself and himself alone, in contradistinction to all that ever existed in this world ? No candid interpreter, who knows the force of words, will answer in the affirmative.
LXIII. Remarkable is that passage in St. Peter's first Epistle, where the Apostle teaches us, that Christ by his Spirit signified to
the prophets, the sufferings he should first endure, and the glories 10 which he should afterwards be exalted ; events these, which though by Christ they were clearly discerned, were yet to Angels obscure. i St. Peter i. 11, 12. This pre-eminence of fore-knowledge shews also pre-eminence of character in Christ. Consistently with which distinction the Apostle again says of Christ,“ who is gone into heaven, and is at the right hand of God, Angels, and Authorities, and Powers, being made subject unto him.” i St. Peter üi. 22. Divine prescience, divine dignity, divine superiority, are thus attributed to Christ, whom the Evangelists and Apostles considered as Divine; and if Divine, God.
LXIV. “ There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit : there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord : there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God,” says St. Paul to the Corinthians. I Cor. xii. 5. 6. Why this express and dis. tinct mention of Spirit ; Lord; God? The same Apostle pronounces on the Corinthians this final and solemn benediction : * The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ ; and the love of God; and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all." 2 Cor. xiii. 14. Whence again this threefold distinction ? Both passages clearly allude to the baptismal form of words, « In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost :" therefore, whatever of personality and of divinity in each of those sacred Three that form implies, the same do these passages of the Apostle imply. In Poole's “ Synopsis Criticorum,” we have the following remarks on the Benediction. " Sunt hic, ut in Baptismo, apertè nomina ens Teradas ejus, quam Christiani colunt.” (Grotius.) “ Plainly here, as in the Baptismal Form, are the names of that Trinity, which Christians worship.” “ Hinc constat, Spiritum S. ejusdem esse naturæ cum Patre et Filio.". [Erasmus ex Chrysostomo.] “ Hence it is evident, that the Holy Spirit is of the same nature with the Father and the Son."
LXV. That a solemn invocation to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, was used at the administering of Baptism in the Second Century, is an allowed Fact. This invocation, which probably had prevailed from the time of our Lord, shews evidently that the sense, in which the early Christians understood the baptismal words delivered by our Lord, was the sense commonly now affixed to them by Trinitarians. For, it is not to be conceived, they would invoke solemnly any thing, which they did not believe to have existence : nor, that they would solemnly invoke with God, any thing, which they did not think might be named with God without dishonour to his holy attributes. On this ground we may conclude, they believed the Son and the Holy Spirit to have real estence, and such existence they believed to be divine.
LXVI. These two assertions will scarcely be controverted ; That on Questions of Christian Religion we should appeal to the Scriptures; and, That in order to interpret the Scriptures justly and properly, we must compare together several different passages, and explain one by another. Through want of attention to these
rules, the Docetæ and the Cerinthians, Sectaries of the Second Century, fell into opposite extremes in their opinions respecting Jesus Christ. Truth is commonly found to be placed between extremes. It was so in their case. From their contrary opinions, however, Macknight has justly inferred, it is probable that the Apostles taught, and that the first Christians believed Christ to be both God and Man. For, if the Docetæ had not been taught the divinity of Christ, they had no temptation to deny his humanity. And if the Cerinthians had not been taught the humanity of Christ, they would have been under no necessity of denying his divinity.
LXVII. If an author attests a l'act, the reality of that Fact will in no degree be affected by any opinion which the author may have formed respecting the Fact itself. Be his opinion what it
his testimony is the same. Or rather perhaps, if although he condemns a Fact, he nevertheless attests it, his testimony in that case is of greater weight ; for he speaks, not from partiality, but from mere veracity. Pliny, in his Epistle to Trajan, asserts " that the Christians were accustomed on a stated day to assemble before it was light, and to sing a hymn to Christ as to a Cod.” Thus even an enemy to Christianity proves that in the time of Trajan, a time long antecedent to Constantine the Great, the divinity of our Lord was acknowledged and adored by Christians.
LXVIII. The Writings of Homer were not therefore less excellent because Matron perverted and misapplied them in parody. Quite the contrary. The best things are most easily made subjects of burlesque, because the outlines of their character are most strongJy marked, and thence most readily traced and imitated. The doctrine of the Trinity was not therefore less true, because Lucian in his Philopatris thought proper to ridicule that, with other Christian doctrines. The levity both of Matron and of Lucian has furnished us with ground for ascertaining two circumstances. They are these. From the parodies of the one, we know that the Writings of Homer existed in the days of Matron. From the dialogue of the other, we know that the doctrine of the Trinity was holden by Christians contemporaries with Lucian. But Lucian lived under the Emperors Trajan, Adrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius : he proves therefore the doctrine of the Trinity to have been holden long before the reign of Constantine the Great. LXIX. The prejudiced Jew disliked the very name
« Galilean," and “Samaritan.” The prejudiced Greek disliked the very name Carian ;" “ Theban ;" Macedonian.” So much in actuai life are we carried away by inere names. In religious opinions the case is similar. Many reject the Athanasian and Nicene Creeds, merely because they are called “ Athanasian,” and “ Nicene."
LXX. Tlie rainbow seems as if it could be grasped : and the sun as if it set in the sea. The fact however is not so in either instance, however it may appear. Deciding therefore on appearance only, is unphilosophical, because it may be often in opposition to reality. Such judginent has that been, which on a slight and cursong view has at any time pronounced the Athanasiun and Nicene Creeds to be in contradiction one to the other. However they may appear at first sight, yet if examined, they will be found to contain this same doctrine ; namely, there is one 'Tosuois of Godhead; but there are three προσωπα in that υποφασις. . One Godhead ; Three Persons. And they both mean to guard against any idea, that the Son of God was of a nature created, and therefore they assert him to have the same essential nature as the Father ; i.e. divine nature : for the sameness is a sameness in quality.
LXXI. Neither he who begun the Reformation of our Religion, nor he who effected the Restoration of our Constitution, was among the best of men. Good however were the doctrines of the Reformed Religion ; and good the doctrines of the Restored Constitution. It does not then follow, that because the maintainers of a doctrine are bad men, the doctrine itself cannot be right. In common life we learn from sad experience, that teaching is one thing, practice another. The doctrine of the instructor may be sound ; his conduct, imprudent. And this remark is made, because some writers on ecclesiastical history have objected to the doctrine of the Trinity, through just disapprobation of Members in Councils, who were corrupt men, but maintained that doctrine.
LXXII. Some have denied the existence of God: some, the superintending care of Divine Providence : some, the truth of Jew. ish and of Christian Revelation. But it does not follow from the objections of such persons, that either of these doctrines is unsupported by Argument and Fact. The error then, or the propriety of a Doctrine, doo not rest either on the reluctance with which it is received on the one hand, or on the readiness with which it is adopted on the other.
LXXIII. Formularies of Faith give general propositions, rather than particular explanations. Such explanations they leave for those, whose province it is to expound. The Creed, which contains the opinions of Athanasius, may be thus elucidated.
1. The Second, Twenty-eighth, and Forty-second Verses are to be taken in the same acceptation as the passage of St. Mark's Gospel, xvi. 16, on which they are grounded. The inplied qualifications, wbich are admitted in the interpretation of the Gospel declarations, are to be admitted in the exposition of those clauses in the Creed. Do you ask, what those qualifications are? Weigh well these expressions ; “ Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Gen. xviii. 25. “ Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." St. Luke xii. 48. And then, if you have right ideas of equity and mercy, and recollect Man, as a rational Being, is responsible to God for the wilful neglect and wilful perversion of his intellectual talents, you will yourself answer that question.
2. The Tenth and Seven following Verses contain the Attributes of Deity: and they mean to say, that although such Attributes belong to each Person individually, nevertheless from the identity of their nature, the identity of authority on which they act, the identity of design and end with which they exert those Attributes in the works of creation, providence, moral government, and redemp