« AnteriorContinuar »
persons would do well to take dur Common Translation as their standard, and make very little farther alteration, than merely substituting words more modern, for some that in the course of Centuries have changed their meaning
LIV. The commonly received reading of Rom. ix. 5, is this εξ ών ο Χριστος το καλα σαρκα, ο ων επι πανων Θιός ευλογήθος εις τες αιωνας. Not to know the efforts which have been made, sometimes to transpose, sometimes to new punctuate, and sometimes to alter, the words in this passage, would betray great ignorance. Not to acknowledge the fact would be a degree of dissimulation. But to change the reading on the ground of any one argument hitherto adduced from the days of Erasmus, or Crellius, down to the present moment, would be an act of weak concession. The passage in question corresponds with St. Paul's ideas expressed in his Epistles to the Colossians, to Timothy, to the Hebrews; to the Philippians ii. 9, to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. xv. 27. And it is difficult to conceive what point would be gained with respect to Doctrine and St. Paul's ideas of Christ's divinity, even if this passage were totally expunged, when there are so many other explicit declarations of the Apostle's sentiments on that important subject.
LV. When he applied to our Lord the appellation 0:05, St. Paul in that term undoubtedly comprised the several attributes which Oso5 usually imports. Of course he ascribed to our Lord Divine Wisdom. How then is it, that, when speaking of the “ Everlasting God,” in Rom. xvi. 27, 28, where he confessedly means “the Father,” he should say, “ To God only wise ?" and in his Epistle to Timothy," the only wise God ?” (1 Tim. i. 17.)
Two explanations may be given of this. From the context of the passages just cited, St. Paul seems to have had in view a particular instance of divine wisdom : and that was, “the salvation of mankind by Christ crucified;" a doctrine, offensive indeed to the Jews, and ridiculed by the Greeks, but to all Christians, “ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. i. 24.) The Apostle's mind was ever full of astonishment and of gratitude, at the mercy thus vouchsafed to all Mankind, and to himself more especially. On various occasions he speaks of it as a stupendous demonstration of such Wisdom, as neither Jews nor Greeks, with all their pretensions, in the smallest degree or at the greatest possible distance were enabled to parallel. They must stand confounded, and acknowledge that all their learning and all their philosophy were but mere folly, when compared with this dispensation ; a dispensation which sliewed that not Man, but God only was its author. So that St. Paul in these places appears to have called “God only Wise,” in opposition to ignorant and inefficient Man.
But farther; neither “provos," nor “ solus," nor “only,” is always taken in a sense so absolute and limited, as to admit not; under modification, any other than the single object to which it is applied. We say " God only is to be feared ; God only to be praised; God only to be honoured ;" yet we dread Men with fear ; we commend Mea with praise ; we respect Men with honour.
On these and similar occasions, “ Only” means “ Primarily." So in the passage Moya coca Osp, the Apostle is speaking in strictness of speech, and with a view to primary and abstract meaning. The Annotators in Poole give this explanation : “He is said to be the Only Wise, because He is Originally Wise ; his Wisdom is of Himself.” But it does not thence follow that Divine Wisdomi may not also be an attribute of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, communicated by Him who is “ Originally Wise." Accordingly St. Paul, when he would shew the high superiority of Christ to Angels, and point out Godhead to be the attribute of Christ, but not of Angels, says to the Colossians," In whom (9. d. and not in Angels) are hid all the treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge.” (Col. u. 3.)
The acceptation in which we are to take poros, as used by St. Paul, will explain the words of our Lord himself in his solemn prayer ; “ This is life eternal, that they may know Thee the only true God.” (St. John xvii. 3.) It is always to be recollected, that neither by himself, nor by the Evangelists, nor by the Apostles, is our Lord styled, “ The Father;" but “ The Son." The appellation “ Father" is applied to Him who (in the words of the Annotators in Poole, 1 Cor. viii. 6.) " is the foundation of the Deity, communicating his divine nature to the other two persons, and of whom are all things ;" and who therefore is emphatically called the “ Father," that being “a term which signifies the primary cause and author of all things.” With Him and from Him the author of all things, “ God the Father," existed from eternity “God the Son." The correlative terms “ Father” and “ Son" convey an idea of Pac ternity and Filiation. Paternity and Filiation imply identity of nature, but distinction in origin. To this distinction does our Lord refer, when he calls the Father “ The only true God." The Father is “ The only God," in strictness of speech, because he is the author of Godhead, by whom, says Pearson, p. 323, ed. 1704, “ Godhead was communicated to the Son." And he is “ The True God," either abstractedly in the same point of view, or relatively in opposition to heathen idolatrous gods.
The explanation of one passage leads to the exposition of another. St. Luke calls Barnabas “a good man.” (Acts xi. 24.) And nothing is more common than to say of a person " he is a good man;" if we mean to commend his excellent virtues. Yet, when the Ruler applied that appellation to our Lord, he received this answer ; “ Why callest thou me Good ?” There is none Good but one, that is God.” (St. Matt. xix. 17.) The words of our Lord imply either of these meanings : “ All Goodness proceeds originally from God the Father, and therefore in strictness of speech He only is absolutely Good.” Or, “ Perfect Goodness is the attribute of a Divine Being, and as such you do not acknowledge me."
LVI. The Scriptures tell us David was a keeper of flocks : shall we therefore deny he was a king? They tell us he was a king: shall we therefore deny he was a keeper of flocks? In either case we should decide partially, because we considered not both statements together. Let us apply this illustration. St. Paul, to convince the Athenians a resurrection was possible, assures them a Man had actually risen from the dead; and he asserts this fact to be a ground of confident expectation, that the World would hereafter be judged “ by that Man whom God hath ordained,” the very Man who had risen. (Acts xvii. 31.) He intimates to Timothy, and through him to the Ephesians, that salvation is intended for Gentiles, equally as for Jews. To confirm them in this persuasion, he points out the relation in which all Men indiscriminately stand to the One Mediator, from the circumstance of his having assumed the nature common to all Men. Therefore the Apostle not only insists on there being but One Mediator for all the race of Mankind, but specifies also the human character of that Mediator, calling him “the Man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim. ii. 5.) to shew the intimate connexion between the Mediator and the whole race of Mankind. On the Philippians he inculcates humility, by proposing for their imitation the example of Christ, when he “ took upon him the form of a servant, was made in the likeness of men ; was found in fashion as a man.” (Phil. ii. 7, 8.) If we consider this and the two passages above quoted, we shall find, they were used on particular occasions, which made the mention of Christ's human nature particularly apposite. But shall we hence conclude, our Lord's nature was therefore merely human ? This would be either to forget, or to neglect, the several expressions, in which the same Apostle asserts our Lord's divinity : it would consequently be to conclude on a partial and limited view of the subject. Let us look again at Phil. ii. 7, 8. The very place which speaks of Christ's human character, speaks also of his divine glory antecedent to his human character, and of his divine nature during the assumption of the human character. The closest reasoner among English Writers has proved this point. “ The person here spoken of, (says Sherlock) Jesus Christ, was in the form of God.-Being in the form of God, he laid aside the glories proper to the form of God, and took upon him the form of a servant, in the likeness of man. Whatever he was as to Nature and Essence, when he was in the form of God, that he continued to be still, when he became Man: but the oxaula @ss, the glories of the form of God, he laid down : and although he continued to be the same, yet, as to the cxnped, as to outward dignity and appearance, he was mere man, bemg found, as the Apostle says, “in fashion” as a man. Had the Apostle conceived him, whilst here on earth, to have been mere Man only, in what tolerable sense could he say of him,“ being found in fashion as a man?" for, in what fashion should a man be found but in the fashion of a man? What need was there of this limitation, that he was found a Man as to his fashion, if in reality he was not something more than a Man ? But if you consider the man Jesus Christ to be the same person who was in the form of God, and who, according to that dignity of nature, had a right to appear in the majesty and glory of God, it is proper to ask, How did he appear on earth? And the Apostle's words are a proper answer to the. question, “ He was found in fashion as a man.” Appen.
There is yet another passage in which St. Paul by his subject is lcd to point out that Christ was man. He is drawing a contrast between Adain the natural Man, and Christ the Spiritual Man : between Adam the federal representative of mankind as subject to death, and Christ the federal representative of mankind as redeemed unto life. “ The first man is of the earth, earthy : the second man is," what? a mere human being ? infinitely above every thing human, or angelic ; “ The Lord from heaven.” (1 Cor. xv. 47.) No words can more expressly shew that union of divine with buman nature in our Lord, which the Scriptures uniformly assert.
St. Peter speaks of Christ as a man. (Acts i. 22.) But does he ascribe to our Lord no other properties than those which had belonged either to men in general, or even to signal prophets, who had lived and died before him! The sequel will shew. “ This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which you now sce and hear”_.e. the power of speaking in divers languages. (Acts ii. 32, 33.) “ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, Loth Lord and Christ." (36.) Could St. Peter mean to say that a mere man was thus incorruptible, thus exalted, thus denoininated with divine appellation ? Impossible, because irreconcilable with the confessions he had made of our Lord's being “ the Son of the living God, and having the words of Eternal Life," (St. John vi. 68, 69.) and with his declarations in 1 Ep. i. 19, 20. iii. 22. However then this Apostle may be understood as asserting the human nature of Christ, le must in this passage be understood as equally asserting the divine nature of our Lord.
LVII. Connect these circumstances ; namely, The Rabbinical manner of briefly alluding to passages in the Old Testament, and slightly quoting them ; the mystical interpretations of tigurative types by real completions; the method of softening down reproof before given ; the very striking instances of the cura@gsiopeas in that animated and finely written eleventh chapter ; all which peculiari. ties occur in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and all which are characteristics of St. Paul's writings; consider the similarity of doctrines maintained, and duties inculcated in this Epistle, with doctrines and duties elsewhere delivered by St. Paul : recollect also, the certainty of its being composed while Jerusalem was standing ; the coincidence of allusions in ch. x. 34, and ch. xiii. 23, with events recorded in the history of St. Paul's life ; and the general opinion of the Greek Fathers in its favour : put together all this, and you will have the strongest ground of internal evidence, and very powerful support of external testimony, on which to rest your persuasion, that the deep, interesting, and very valuable Epistle to the Hebrews was written by St. Paul. Witsius and Wolfius, Owen and Pierce, well considered the question. They decided in the affirmativc. More than that. The Church admitted it into the Canon of Scripturc. But Epistles were not admitted into the Canon ull their gtii
. uineness had been proved.
It must be observed ; that even were the Epistle not written by St. Paul, it would still carry with it great weight : for it would be an early document by which to prove, what were the opinions of primitive Jewish Converts respecting our Lord's divinity.
LVIII. A single act often implies a great variety of circumstances. When a heathen threw but a grain of salt on an idolatrous altar, by that act he acknowledged himself devoted to idolatrous worship in all its points of persuasion, duties, and consequences. When a Mahomedan swears by the Koran, he intimates his belief in the contents of that volume, and his sense of obligation to receive every thing taught, and to comply with every thing commanded in its several books. With a single Word, or a single Clause, are often combined many.concomitant ideas. When Faith is said to be the condition of Salvation, it implies also Obedience corresponding with that Faith. When Obedience is said to be the condition of Salvation, it implies also Faith as the source from which such Obedience should spring. We pray that the “ Name" of God may be hallowed. In that term we include all the attributes of God, and every consideration relative to the glory of God. It is said, “ Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Tim. ii. 19.) The import is, that every one, who calleth himself a Christian, thereby acknowledges himself bound to believe all the doctrines, and obey all the precepts, delivered by Christ, should avoid wickedness of er. ery description. When the multitude, and when Cornelius by St. Peter (Acts ii. 41. x. 48 ;) the Ethiopian, by St. Philip (Acts viii. 38 ;) and the Keeper of the Prison at Philippi, by St. Paul (Acts xvi. 31 ;) were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, they were admitted into the profession of all that the Lord Jesus had commanded his Apostles to “ go and teach ;" the very article connected with which command is, the acknowledgment of “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Upon a construction of the above men. tioned
passages even in a limited sense, and supposing the converts were required only to acknowledge that Christ is the Messiah, even then, on the principle that the “ Greater contains the Lesser,” such acknowledgment would lead to an obligation of professing all consequent points of faith and practice, For, if Christ was Messiah, he was authorised to teach ; and what he taught, his disciples were bound to obserye. From a confession that Christ was Messiah, that is, as appears froin St. Peter's declaration (St. Matth. xvi. 16.) and as it was well understood in those days, “the Son of God” eminent, ly and emphatically, the duties of receiving and observing his doctrines necessarily followed.
LIX. “ I thank God that I baptized none of you," says St. Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor. i. 14.) Why should the Apostle mani. fest so great earnestness, and why express himself so very strongly on this occasion ? Because, he thought it would be dishonouring Christ, if he had admitted disciples in his own name. And where fore should he be anxious on that account, if he had believed Christ to have been merely human, and to have been still sleeping in the grave? He could have incurred no evil present or future, had Christ