« EdellinenJatka »
"He received from God the Father honour and glory." Rev. i. 1: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him."
It is now alleged that Christ did not mean that he was inferior to the Father with respect to his divine nature, but only with respect to his human nature. But if such liberties be taken in explaining a person's meaning, language has no use whatever. On the same principles, it might be asserted that Christ never died, or that he never rose from the dead, secretly meaning his divine nature only. There is no kind of imposition but what might be authorized by such an abuse of language as this.
5. Some things were withheld from Christ by his Father. xiii. 32: "But of that day, and that hour, knoweth no man; no not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." Matt. xx. 23: "To sit on my right hand and on my left, is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father."
6. As all the dominion that Christ has was derived from the Father, so it is subordinate to that of the Father. 1 Cor. xv. 2428: "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power. For he must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." 7. Christ always prayed to the Father, and with as much humility and resignation as any man, or the most dependent being in the universe, could possibly do. Our Lord's whole history is a proof of this; but especially the scene of his agony in the garden. Matt. xxvi. 37-39: And he "began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death, tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt."
8. Christ is not only styled a man even after his resurrection, but the reasoning of the apostles, in some of the passages where he is spoken of, requires that he should be considered as a man with respect to his nature, and not in name only, as their reasoning has no force but upon that supposition. Acts ii. 22: "Jesus of Nazareth, a inan approved of God,-by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you." Heb. ii. 17: "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren." ii. 10: "It became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.' 1 Cor. xv. 21: "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
9. Whatever exaltation Christ now enjoys, it is the gift of his Father, and the reward of his obedience unto death. Phil. ii. 8, 9: "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.' Heb. ii. 9: " But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour." xii. 2: "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Let it also be considered, that no use whatever is made of the doctrine of the incarnation of the Maker of the world, in all the New Testament. We are neither informed why so extraordinary a measure was necessary for the salvation of men, nor that it was necessary. All that can be pretended is, that it is alluded to in certain expressions. But certainly it might have been expected that a measure of this magnitude should have been expressly declared, if not clearly explained; that mankind might have no doubt what great things had been done for them; and that they might respect their great Deliverer, as his nature and his proper rank in the creation required.
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews evidently considered Christ as a being of a different rank from that of angels; and the reason why he says that he ought to be so, is, that he might have a feeling of our infirmities. But, certainly, we shall be more easily satisfied that any person really felt as a man, if he was truly a man, and nothing more than a man; than if he was a superior being (and especially a being so far superior to us as the Maker of the world must have been,) degraded to the condition of a man; because, if he had any recollection of his former state, the idea of that must have borne him up under his difficulties and sufferings, in such a manner as no mere man could have been supported: and it is supposed by the Arians that Christ had a knowledge of his prior state, for they suppose him to have referred to it in his prayer to the Father for the glory which he had with him before the world was; and yet this is hardly consistent with the account that Luke gives of his increasing in wisdom.
No person, I think, can, with an unprejudiced mind, attend to these considerations, and the texts of scripture above recited, (which are perfectly agreeable to the tenor of the whole,) and imagine that it was the intention of the sacred writers to represent Christ either as the Supreme God, or as the maker of the world under God. There is another hypothesis, of some modern Arians, which represents Christ as having pre-existed, but not as having been the creator or governor of the world, or the medium of all the dispensations of God to mankind. But those texts of scripture which seem to be most express in favour of Christ's pre-existence do likewise, by the same mode of interpretation, represent him as the maker of the world; so that if the favourers of this hypothesis can suppose the language of these texts to be figurative, they may more easily sup
pose the other to be figurative also; and that whatever obscurity there may be in them, they were not intended to refer to any preexistence at all.
The passages of scripture which are supposed to speak of Christ as the maker of the world are the following, viz. John i. 3, Eph. iii. 9, Col. i. 15, Heb. i. 1, &c. These, I will venture to say, are the texts that most strongly favour the notion of Christ's pre-existence, and no person can doubt but that, if they must be interpreted to assert that Christ pre-existed at all, they, with the same clearness, assert that he was the maker of the world. But if these texts admit of a figurative interpretation, all the other texts, which are supposed to refer to the pre-existence only, will more easily admit of a similar construction. These two opinions, therefore, viz. that Christ preexisted, and that he was the maker of the world, ought, by all means, to stand or fall together, and if any person think the latter to be improbable, and contrary to the plain tenor of the Scriptures, (which uniformly represent the Supreme Being himself, without the aid of any inferior agent, or instrument, as the maker of the universe,) he should abandon the doctrine of simple pre-existence also.
In what manner the proper Unitarians interpret these passages of scripture may be seen in my "Familiar Illustration of certain Passages of Scripture," in several of the Socinian Tracts, in three volumes quarto,t and especially in Mr. Lindsey's Sequel to his Apology, to which I refer my readers for a farther discussion of this subject.
It is only of late years, that any persons have pretended to separate the two opinions of Christ's pre-existence, and of his being the maker of the world. All the ancient Arians maintained both, as did Dr. Clarke, Mr. Whiston, Mr. Emlyn, Mr. Peirce, and their followers; and I do not know that any other hypothesis has appeared in writing, except that it is alluded to in the Theological Repository.
THE DIFFERENT OPINIONS OF DR. HORSLEY AND DR. PRIESTLEY, BRIEFLY STATED.
(See supra, p. 158.)
THAT my readers may more easily form a clear and comprehensive idea of the nature and extent of this controversy, I shall, in this place, briefly state the principal articles on which Dr. Horsley and myself hold different opinions.
1. Dr. Horsley insists upon it, that the faith of the primitive Christian church must have been Trinitarian, because that doctrine. appears in the writings of Barnabas and Ignatius. I say that,
Sce Vol. II. pp. 449-472.
† 1691-1695. See Dr. Toulmin's Hist. View, pp. 178, 179. ↑ P. 455. (P.)
admitting these works to be genuine in the main, they bear evident marks of interpolation with respect to this very subject, and therefore the conclusion is not just.
2. Dr. Horsley says, that those who are called Ebionites, did not exist in the age of the apostles, and also that, though they believed the simple humanity of Christ, they probably held some mysterious exaltation of his nature after his ascension, which made him the object of prayer to them. I say the Ebionites certainly existed in the time of the apostles, and that this notion of their holding such an exaltation of his nature, as to make him the object of prayer, is highly improbable.
3. Dr. Horsley says, that those who are called Nazarenes by the early Christian writers, believed the divinity of Christ, that they did not exist till after the time of Adrian, and had their name from the place where they settled in the North of Galilee, after they were then driven from Jerusalem. I maintain, that these Nazarenes no more believed the divinity of Christ than the Ebionites, and that, together with them, they were supposed, by the Christian fathers, to have existed in the time of the apostles.
4. Dr. Horsley maintains that there was a church of orthodox Jewish Christians at Jerusalem after the time of Adrian; for, that the body of Jewish Christians, who had before observed the law of Moses, abandoned their ceremonies after the destruction of the place, in order to obtain the privileges of the Ælian colony, settled there by Adrian. Origen, who asserts that the Jewish Christians had not abandoned the laws and customs of their ancestors, Dr. Horsley says must have known the contrary, and therefore asserted a wilful falsehood. I say that Adrian expelled all the Jews, whether Christians or not, from Jerusalem, that the Christian church afterwards settled at Jerusalem consisted wholly of Gentile converts, and that the testimony of Origen, agreeably with this, is highly worthy of credit.
5. Dr. Horsley maintains, that though he finds no Unitarians in the apostolic age, a censure was intended for them by the apostle John in the phrase Christ came in the flesh. I assert, that the Unitarians did exist in great numbers in the time of John, but that he did not censure them at all; and that the phrase Christ came in the flesh, relates to the Gnostics only.
6. Dr. Horsley asserts, that the Unitarians, from the time that they made their appearance, were considered as heretics by the orthodox Christians, and not admitted to communion with them, and particularly that they were included by Justin Martyr among those heretics whom he charges with blasphemy. I assert that in Justin's time, and much later, the Unitarians were not deemed heretics at all, that Justin did not even allude to Unitarians in either of his two accounts of heretics in general, and that the blasphemy he speaks of respected the Gnostics only.
7. Though Tertullian says the idiota, who were the greater part of Christians, were Unitarians, and shocked at the doctrine of the Trinity, Dr. Horsley asserts that he only meant to include a small number of them in that class, and those so ignorant and stupid as to deserve to be called idiots. I maintain that by idiota he only meant
unlearned persons, or persons in private life; and I also maintain that even in Origen's time, and long after, a great part of these Christians were Unitarians, and in communion with the Catholic church; that the term heresy was long used as synonymous to Gnosticism, and that the original use of the term frequently occurs even after the Unitarians were deemed to be heretics.
8. Dr. Horsley maintains that by the Jews who held the simple humanity of Christ, Athanasius meant the unbelieving Jews only, and that the Gentiles who were by them converted to that belief, were unbelieving Gentiles. I say the Jews were Christian Jews, and their converts Christian Gentiles.
9. Dr. Horsley maintains that the Jews in our Saviour's time, believed in the doctrine of the Trinity, that they expected the second Person in the Trinity as their Messiah, and that they changed their opinion concerning him when the Christians applied it to Christ. I say that the Jews were always Unitarians, that they expected only a man for their Messiah, and that they never changed their opinion on that subject.
10. Dr. Horsley says that the apostles considered Christ as being God from the time that they considered him as the Messiah. I say that they considered him as a mere man, when they received him as the Messiah, and that we find no evidence in their history, or in their writings, that they ever changed that opinion concerning him.
11. Dr. Horsley denies that the orthodox fathers before the Council of Nice, held that the logos had been an attribute of the Deity, and then assumed a proper personality; and says that all that they meant by the generation of the Son, was the display of his powers in the production of material beings. I assert, that by this generation, they certainly meant a change of state in the logos, viz. from a mere attribute, such as reason is in man, to a proper person, and that in their opinion this was made with a view to the creation of the world.
12. Dr. Horsley can find no difference between this doctrine of the personification of the Logos, and the peculiar opinions of the Arians. I assert that they were two schemes directly opposed to each other, and so clearly defined, as never to have been confounded or mistaken.
13. Dr. Horsley asserts, that it seems to have been the opinion of all the fathers, and is likewise agreeable to the Scriptures, that the second Person in the Trinity had his origin from the first Person contemplating his own perfections. I challenge him to produce any authority whatever, ancient or modern, for that opinion.
14. Dr. Horsley maintains that, though the three Persons in the Trinity have each of them all the perfections of Deity, the Father is the fountain of the divinity, and has some unknown pre-eminence. I assert that this pre-eminence is inconsistent with the proper equality, and that if they be properly equal, they must necessarily be three Gods as well as three Persons.
15. Dr. Horsley says, that prayer for succour in external persecution, seems with particular propriety to be addressed to the Son. I say that this is altogether a distinction of his own, and has no