« PreviousContinue »
But it is reasonable to think, that ^ a part is here put for the whole, and that the word, body," is not to be understood exclusively of the soul. St. Paul writes to the Romans: “I beseech you therefore, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice to God,” ch. xii. 1. But no one ought hence to conclude, that the Romans had not souls as well as bodies, or that their souls might be neglected. No. The faculties of the mind, as well as the members of the body, were to be consecrated to God, and employed in his service. At the beginning of the next chapter, St. Paul says: “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.' Where the other part of the human nature is put for the whole.
And it is manifest from ch. ii. 17—18, and other places, that the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews believed Christ to be man, or to have the human nature complete like unto us. It would therefore be very unreasonable to understand body in this place exclusively of the soul.
The words of the apostle are a quotation from Ps. xl. prophetically representing the readiness of Christ to do the will of God in this world.
“ Wherefore when he cometh into the world he saith." • Which words are capable of “two interpretations. They may relate to our Lord's nativity, when he literally entered into • the world. Or they may relate to the entrance upon his ministry. Then it was, that “ the · Father sanctified him, and sent him into the world,” John x. 36, and xvii. 18. And then it was
that he devoted himself to God entirely. Nor can it be well doubted, that the prayer, which • Jesus made, when he was baptized, and received the spirit, which is mentioned Luke iii. 31. "contained a declaration, equivalent to that in this place : “ Lo I come to do thy will, O God.” • Compare John v. 30, and vi. 38.'
I will now consider some texts, which have been thought by some to represent to us the pre-existence of the soul of our Saviour, before his conception in the womb of the virgin Mary.
“ The form of God,” Philip. ii. 6, seems to me to have been enjoyed by our Lord in this world. It denotes his knowledge of the hearts of men, his power of healing diseases, and raising the dead, and working other miracles, at all times, whenever he pleased, and all the other evidences of his divine mission. This sense does wonderfully accord with what our Lord says, John x. 34-36, and in many other places of that gospel. « Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods ? If ye called them gods, to whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken, say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?” But though he had so great power, “ he made himself of no reputation:” he lived in a mean condition, and submitted to the reproaches of enemies, and at last to death itself. Which was plainly a voluntary submission. For being innocent, he needed not to have died, but might have been translated without tasting death.
If this be the meaning of that text, then 2 Cor. viii. 9, is also explained: that d“ though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor.”
John i. 15. “ John bare witness of him-He that cometh after me is preferred before me. For he was before me.” And ver. 30. “ This is he, of whom I said : After me cometh a man, which is preferred before me. For he was before me.” But I apprehend, that John the baptist does not here say, that Jesus was before him in time. But he says: · He who comes after me, • has always been before me, or in my view. For he is my chief, or prince, or principal.' This suits what he says of the great dignity, and transcendent excellence of our Lord's person and character, at ver. 27. “ Whose shoes latchet I am not worthy to unloose :” and ver. 23, “ I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord:” that is, I am the
a. A body is here a synecdochical expression of the human nature of Christ. So is flesh taken, when he is said to be * made flesh. For the general end of his having this body . was, that he might therein and thereby yield obedience, or
• Moon, • forma,' in nostris libris non significat æternum et occultum aliquid, sed id quod in oculos incurrit, qualis erat eximia in Christo potestas sanandi morbos omnes, ejiciendi dæmonas, excitandi mortuos, mutandi rerum naturas; quæ vere divina sunt, ita ut Moses, qui tam magna non fecit, dictus ob id fuerit Deus Pharaonis. Grot. in Philip. ii. 0.
do the will of God. And ihe especial end of it was, that • he might have what to offer in sacrifice to God. But • neither of these can be confined unto his body alone. For
it is the soul, the other esential part of the human nature, that is the principle of obedience.' Dr. J. Owen upon Heb. x. 5. p. 29.
t Sce Beausobre upon Heb. x. 5.
4 Id est, cum vi polleret omnis generis miracula patrandi, etiam mortuos resuscitandi, personam tamen gessit tam humilem, ut ne domum quidem haberet propriam. in loc.
harbinger, or forerunner of the great Person, who is about to appear among you. I am come before hin, to prepare for his reception.
John viii. 58. may be thought a strong text for the pre-existence of our Saviour's soul. But really he there only represents his dignity as the Messiah, the special favour of God toward him, and the importance of the dispensation by him. It is a way of speaking, resembling that in Rev. xiii. 8. * Whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world,” and explained, 1 Pet. i. 20. “ Who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world.” See also Eph. i. 4. 2 Tim. 1. 9. Tit. i. 2. The Jewish people have a saying, that the law was before the world was created. In like manner the dispensation by the Messiah was before the dispensation of Abraham, in dignity, nature, and design, though not in time.
The Jews were much offended at the words, recorded in the 56th verse. Nevertheless our Lord does not there say, that he had seen Abraham, or that Abraham had seen him in person. What he says is this : “ Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. And he saw it, and was glad;" that is, he earnestly desired to see the time, when all the nations of the earth should be blessed, through his promised seed, the Messiah. And “
And “ by faith he saw it, and was glad.” Compare Heb. xi. 13.
Another text proper to be considered here is John xvii. 5. “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” But this, according to the Jewish phraseology, may be very well understood of the glory, always designed for the Christ by the immutable purpose of God. See Grotius upon the place. That our Lord had not, before his nativity, the glory, which he here prays for, is apparent from the whole tenor of the gospel, and from clear and manifest expressions in the context. For the glory, which he now prays for, is the reward of his obedience. Ver. 4. “ I have finished the work, which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me.”. And St. Paul says, Philip. ii. 9. “ Wherefore God also has highly exalted him," Heb. ii. 9.4" for the suffering of death he was crowned with glory and honour,” ver. 10. “ For it became him, for whom all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” And Heb. xii
. 2. “ Looking unto Jesus, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame. And is set down on the right hand of the throne of God.” And Luke xxiv. 26. Our Saviour says to his disciples, in the way to Emmaus: “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" And St. Peter, 1 Ep. i. 10, 11. “ Of which salvation the prophets have inquired Searching what, or what manner of time the spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” And St. Paul, Acts xxvi. 22, 23" saying no other things than those, which the prophets and Moses did say should come : that the Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead.” All harmonious, as we see, that the glory of the Messiah was subsequent to his obedience and sufferings on this earth. See likewise Rom. i. 3, 4.
Nor can I forbear to observe to you, that Augustin, who has largely considered the words of Jolin xvii. 5, and in so doing quotes Eph. i. 4. and Rom. i. 1-1. understands them of Christ's human nature, and explains them in the same manner that I have done. Quasi vero quisquam regulam fidei intuens, Filium Dei negaturus est prædestinatum, qui eum negare hominem non potest. Recte quippe dicitur non prædestinatus secundum id quod est Verbum Dei, Deus apud Deum-Illud autem prædestinandum erat, quod nondum erat, ut suo tempore fieret, quemadmodum ante omnia tempora predestinatum erat, ut fieret. Quisquis igitur Dei Filium predestinatum negat, hunc eundem filium hominis negat-secundum hanc ergo prædestina
a Fuerat ante Abrahamum Jesus divinâ constitutione : in- quidpiam, quod ipsi vel facere vel ferre contigit. Quæ res fra xvii. 5. Apoc. xiii. 8. 1 Pet. i. 20. Constat hoc, quia de notior est, quam ut testiinonio egeat. Dies ergo Domini niipso ipsiusque Ecclesiâ mystice dictum erat, recente humano hil aliud significat, quam ipsius adventum in carnem. Vidit genere, futurum, ut semen muliebre contereret caput serpen- enim eum eminus Abraham, fidei nimirum oculis, ut declatis. Grot. in Joh. viii. 58. Vid. et Bez, in loc.
ratur Hebr. xi. 13- -ac gavisus est,--Respicit autem ex+ Sic · legem fuisse ante mundum,' aiunt Hebræi. Vide presse Christus ad id quod dicitur, Gen. xvii
, 17. Abrahamum, Thalmudem de Votis. Grot. ad Joh. xvii. 5.
acceptâ de nascituro sibi illo semine promissione, sese prostra• Cæterun, ex Hebræorum idiotismo, dies alicujus nihil visse, et risisse. Unde et ipsi Isaaco nomen imposuit Dominus. aliud declarat, quam spatium quo vixerit aliquis, aut insigne Bez. ad Joh. viii, 56.
tionem etiam clarificatus est antequam mundus esset, ut esset claritas ejus ex resurrectione mortuorum apud Patrem, ad cujus dexteram sedet. Cum ergo videret illius prædestinatæ suæ clarificationis venisse jam tempus, ut et nunc fieret in redditione, quod fuerat in prædestinatione jam factum, oravit, dicens: • Et nunc clarifica me tu Pater apud temetipsum, claritate, quam habui priusquam mundus esset, apud te:' tamquam diceret, Claritatem quam habui apud te, id est, illam claritatem, quam habui apud te in prædestinatione tua, tempus est, ut apud te habeam etiam vivens in dexterâ tuâ. August. In Joan. Evang. cap. 17. Tr. cv. n. 8. ed. Bened. Tom. III. p. 2.
It has been thought by some, that Christ, or the Son, appeared to the Patriarchs, and was oftentimes sent upon messages to men by the Supreme Being, before the times of the gospel. But where is the proof of this? It was the opinion of some of the ancient writers of the church, who had a philosophy, that was a mixture of Pythagorism and Platonism. Ne. vertheless, this supposition, that God had employed the Son in former times, before the gospel, is overthrown by the very first words of the apostle in the epistle to the Hebrews. “ God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." It is also inconsistent with the apostle's arguments to care and circumspection, steadfastness and perseverance, which follow afterwards. Heb. ii. 1, 2, 3. “ Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard --For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast-how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken
by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him ?” See likewise ch. iii. 1. “ For this man was counted worthy of more honour than Moses” -- ver. 6. But Christ, as a Son, “ over his own house."
Still it may be said, that nothing but the pre-existence of the soul of Christ can suit those expressions of his being “ sent from God,” and “ coming from God.”
To which I answer, that the account here given by me is well suited to all such expressions in their utmost latitude, according to the style of scripture. For we may be all said to be sent by God into the world, without the supposition of a pre-existent soul. Especially are prophets sent from God. But above all Jesus is most properly “ the sent of God," as he had the highest and most important commission.
So John i. 6. “ There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” Nevertheless none suppose, that John the Baptist came directly from heaven : but only, that he was inspired, and had a divine command to appear in the world, and bear witness concerning the Christ, who would come presently after him
And the commission which our Lord gave to his apostles, is expressed by himself after this manner. John xvii. 18. “ As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I sent them into the world.” And xx. 21. “ As my Father has sent me, so send I you.
But, as before said, Jesus is “ the sent of God,” as he had the highest commission. John iii. 34. “ He whom God has sent, speaketh the words of God,” chap. iv. 34. “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me," chap. v. 38. “ Ye have not his word abiding in you. For whom he has sent, ye believe not.” See also ver. 23, 24, 30, 34, 36. And x. 36. “ Say ye of him, whom the Father has sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God ?" And in the history of the cure of the blind man, recorded in the ninth chapter of the same gospel, at ver. 7. “ And said unto him: Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, which is by interpretation, Sent.” Probably here is an allusion to our Lord's character, as “ the sent of God.” And there may be an intimation intended, that he is the Shiloh, spoken of in Gen. xlix, 10.
There are some other texts needful to be taken notice of here, John siii. 3. “ Jesus knowing that he was come from God, and went to God," oti ato 088 ežna 6. xvi 27. “ For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God,” OT1 EYW παρα το θες εξηλθον. ver. 98. “ I am come forth from the Father, and am come into the world, Again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.” 'EŽyalov repa T8 targos. This expression is explained in chap. viii. 42. Whence we perceive, that thereby is intended our Lord's divine commission.
“ Jesus said unto them: If God were your Father, ye would love me. For I proceeded forth, and came from God. Neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 'Eyw yep en το θες εξηλθον, και ηκα. κ. λ.
a The opinion is modestly rejected by Mr. Peirce, in his Paraphrase on the Epistle to the Hebrews. Chap. 1. ver.2.
Voyez cette façon de parler expliquée ci dessus, ch, viii. 42, par la mission. Lenfant upon John xvi. 27.
The reproaches and contradictions which our Lord met with, and the sufferings of his death, are often set before us. But if the Logos, that high and exalted spirit, in the Arian sense, was the soul of Christ; this part of his humiliation, in clothing himself with an human body, would have been frequently represented and described in the clearest and most emphatical expressions.
Here, if I mistake not, is a proper place for setting down those observations upon this scheme, which reason may suggest, and were passed over before.
In the first place, I do not apprehend it possible that so glorious and perfect a spirit should undergo such diminution by being united to an human body, as to become thereby unconscious, or to be greatly enfeebled. I think, that if this spirit were to animate, and take upon it the part of a soul in an human body; its power, cogitation, and knowledge would subsist and remain, even in its infant státe. In short, the human body would be swallowed up by this great soul. That soul would exert itself in the body, and sustain it with all facility, without rest, food, or any other refreshment, against all pain and uneasiness, and every kind of infirmity. This, I say, would be the case, supposing so great a being to take upon it a human body. If an angel (as is supposed) can move with agility a material vehicle, made dense enough to be sensible to human eyes; what influence would not this powerful Logos have over the grossest human body ? But this is not agreeable to fact, as represented in the New Testament: for there Jesus is said to have “ increased in wisdom” as he grew up. And he had hunger and thirst, and was wearied with journeying, and had all the sinless infirmities of the human nature, and was subject to death.
But secondly, supposing this humiliation to be possible, I think, it could not be reasonable. It is not reasonable that so great a Being should submit to unconsciousness, or any such like debilitation. Consequently, it cannot be required by God. It is incongruous to all just notions of things, that any other spirit, beside a human soul, should be made subject to the infirmities of human flesh.
I forbear mentioning some things, which appear to me consequences from the Logos (in the Arian sense of that term) being the soul of our blessed Saviour. And, as they are not mentioned, they need not affect you, unless shey should occur to your thoughts.
'I now proceed to the introduction to St. John's gospel. For I believe, you may be of opinion, that I must not pass it by entirely, notwithstanding its difficulty. I will therefore explain it briefly, or a part of it at least, according to the best of my ability: still willing, however, to receive farther light from any one that shall afford it.
“ In the beginning was the Word.” By beginning,” I thirk, cannot be intended the beginning of the gospel
, but of the creation, or rather always, from eternity, “ was the Word. And the Word was with God:” that is, was always with God, though not fully manifested, till these last days of the world. “ And the Word was God.” Και θεος ην ο λογος. Which sometimes has been rendered thus : « And God was the Word.” But there are learned men, who say, that then the Greek would have been Keio beos yu 2070s: and, that the article being joined with royos, therefore that is the antecedent, and our translation is right.
Here I had been wont to submit to what Dr. Clarke says, The Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity, P. I. numb. 535. • Of these words there are only three interpretations. The first is, • that the Word was that same person, whom he was with. And that is both a contradiction in • terms, and also the ancient heresy of Sabellius.' But now that does not move me. I am of opinion, that God here is the same God that was mentioned before. St. John useth a gradation. First he says, “ the Word was” always, before all time. Then he adds: “and was with God:” and lastly, that he “ was God” himself. What follows confirms this interpretation, ver. 3. “ All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Who should this be, but God the Father, the one living and true God, and author of life, and all being? Are there more creators than one ? Would any Jew, or disciple of Jesus, ascribe the creation of the world to any but God, or his reason, or understanding, or discretion, his wisdom, his power, his word, his spirit, which is the same as God himself? Ver. 10, “ He was in the world, and the world was made by him.' This needs no comment. Ver. 11. “ He came to his own, and his own received him not.” I pray whose people were the Jews, but God's, his, who styled himself Jehovah ? He now came, in Jesus, to bis own people. But they received him not.
a i Jobn i. 2. " For the life was manifested. And we I Tim. iii. 16. “ And, without controversy, great is the have seen it, and bear witness, and show upto you that eternal mystery of godliness. God was manifest in the Aesla.". life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us.”
з 3 C2
St. John therefore intends the one true God, not any inferior deity.
Shall I show this more particularly from other places of his gospel? It is observable, that St. John, out of the many discourses of Jesus, (a great part of which he has omitted, as appears from ch. xx. 30, 31. ch. xxi. 25) has selected those, in which our Lord speaks very expressly of the commission, which he had received from the Father, and of his near and intimate union with him.
In all the gospels our Saviour ascribes luis miracles to the Father, particularly in Luke xi. 20, and Matt. xii. 28. And the people do the same.
“ And when the multitude saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.” Matt. ix. 8.
But in none of the gospels is this done so frequently, and so expressly, as in St. John's. Chap. v. 9. “ The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do:” and onward to ver. 27. and ver. 30–32. and ver. 36, 37. chap. viii. 18. “ The Father that hath sent me, beareth witness of me.” Ver. 28, 29. “ When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know, that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself: but that as the Father has taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me, is with me. The Father has not left me alone. For I do always the things that please him.” Ver. 4.2. “ For I proceeded forth, and came from God. Neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Ver. 54. “ It is my Father that honoureth me, of whom ye say, that he is your God.” Ch. x. 35. “ The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.” 'Ver. 29, 30. “My Father, which
greater than all. And no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one."
This appears also in the discourses of others, recorded in this gospel, ch. iii. 2. Nicodemus says Rabbi, we know, that thou art a teacher come from God. * For no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him." And ch, ix. 30. • Herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not whence he is. And yet he has opened my eyes.” Ver. 33. “ If this man were not of God, he could do nothing."
All these texts seem to me sufficient to satisfy us, that by “ the Word,” which St. John says, “ was in the beginning, and was with God, and was God,” he does not mean a being separate from God, and inferior to him, but God himself, or the wisdom and power of God, which is the same as God, even the Father, who alone is God, nor is there any other.
If by the Word, in the introduction to his gospel, St. John had intended a being separate from God, and inferior to him; it is reasonable to expect, that he should be mentioned again afterwards. But nothing of that kind appears. He speaks indeed of “the Son, and the only begotten Son of God.” But thereby is not meant “ the Word," but the man Jesus, the Messiah, in whom “ the Word,” that is, the power and wisdom of God, resided.
I now therefore proceed, ver. 14. “ And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us :" that is, as before shown. ' And the Word was made man, or took upon him the human nature.' “ And we beheld his glory the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace
That is, . And we beheld in Jesus such power and wisdom, that we could not doubt his being the Messiah.' That St. John intends the Lord Jesus, is evident from what he adds in the 15th verse. “ John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This is he, of whom I spake. He that cometh after me, is preferred before me.”
“ And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” This is the same, which, in other words, is said in divers texts of the New Testament. Matt. i. 20—23. “ And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus—Now all this was done, that it might be ful
2 The creation of the world is always ascribed to the one living and true God, in the Old and New Testament. Gen. 1. Exod. xx. 11. Job. xxvi. 13. xxxyiii. 4. Ps. xxxiii. 6. cxxxvi.
5–10. cxlvi. 5. 6. Is. xlii. 5. xliv. 12. li. 13. Jer. x. 12. li. 15. and elsewhere, Acts. iy. 24. xiv. 15. xvii, 24. Rev. iv. 8-ll.
6. xiv. 7.