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made by him (or through him) and without him was not any thing made that was made.' This implies, say the Arians, that the Word was employed by the Supreme Being, with whom he was in his pre-existent state of glory, as an inferior agent in the formation of the world, and that he was the instrumental cause by which all the different ranks. of creatures were brought into being. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, &c.' This signifies, say they, that the Word emptied himself of his pre-existent glory, and resigned for a time that exalted station he filled in the heavenly world, that he came down literally from heaven, and assumed a human body, being himself the soul or animating principle of it. And on this account he is called a man, because he was joined to a body of the very same kind that men are possessed of, and subjected to all the innocent infirmities of human nature. It was a won, derful and amazing instance of condescension, say the Arians, in this illustrious Spirit to become a man; but there is nothing in this incarnation that is absurd, or im. possible to be admitted. That a person possessed of the essence and attributes of God, who is eternal, immense, and omnipresent, should be incarnate, would indeed be an impossible and contradictory supposition; and therefore the Trinitarian system, which contains this doctrine, is dea servedly rejected. But that the first and greatest of all God's creatures should undergo a change of this kind, to serve a grand and important purpose in providence, by rescuing the human race from the dominion of sin and vice, and restoring them to the true dignity and glory of their rational natures, may be believed without doing violence to reason, or the dictates of natural light. For although the divine nature cannot change, cannot be diminished, cannot empty itself, or be divested of its essential glory and intrinsic excellence, but must always continue invariably the same; yet any derived, created, or dependent being, how. ever exalted, may, by his own consent, and the power and will of the Almighty, be transferred from a higher to a lower state of existence. This is the Arian interpretation of the introduction to St. John's Gospel, and is the most literal one the words are capable of: and if the beginning there mentioned, means the beginning of the creation, and the Logos, or Word, is applicable to the person of Jesus
Christ, it must be received as the only genuine explication of the passage.
I shall now give the Socinian interpretation of these verses. In the beginning was the word.' The Socivians, (or those who maintain the strict and proper humanity of Christ, which is what is meant by the appellation; and not that they follow all the opinions of Sucious,) now generally ad. mit, that the beginning refers to the beginning of the creation. * But they do not apprehend that the Logos, or Word, mentioned by St. John, signifies a person, or intelligent agent, but they conceive that it is only a mode, quality, or attribute, in the Deity; or, in short, a description of the one true God the Father himself, after the Hebrew raan. ner, founded on the original language of the sacred writers of the Old Testament, in the following passages. Gen. i. 1. * In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.'. Ver. 3. “God said let there be light, and there was light. Psal. xxxiii. 6. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.'. Ver. 9. 'For he spake, and it was done : he commanded, and it stood fast.' Psal. cv, 19. Until the time that his word came; the word of the Lord tried him.'
It is further observed in favour of this interpretation, that it appears from the Targums, or Chaldee Paraphrases, that it was à current way of speaking among the Jews, to put the MIMRADE ADONAI, or Word of the Lord, for God himself. These paraphrases are granted by learned men to be of great antiquity; and as they were made for the use of the common people among the Jews, who after the Babylonish captivity, had in a great measure forgotten the original Hebrew; this phraseology must have been in com.
* Those excellent Christians, the Unitarians of Poland and Transylvania, adopted the interpretation of Socinus, and referred the beginning mentioned by St. John, not to the beginning of the creation, but the beginning of che Gospel, that is, when John the baptist, began to preach repentance to the Jews; which St. Mark, chap. i. 1. expressly calls the beginning of the Gospel, They interpreted the whole passage of the new creation, or moral renovation, of the world, by Jesus Christ. Their interpretation, as some of them have explained and enforced it, is ingenious, and by no means deserving the contempt and ridicule that Archbishop. Tillotson, and Bishop Stillingfleet, have endeavoured to throw upon it. It has, however, of late years, found few or no patrons in this part of the world.
mon-use with them long before. We shall produce a few passages from these paraphrases, as a specimen of this man ner of expression. Gen. i. 27. 'God created man,' is - rendered by the Jerusalem Targum, the (Mimra)" or word of the Lord'created man. Gen. jji. 8. “They heard the voice of 'the 'Lord God,' rendered in the paraphrase of Onkelos, • They heard the voice of the word of the Lord God." Gen. ix. 12. "And God said this is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you ;' para. phrased by Onkelos, “ between (my Mimra) or my word
Gen. xv. 6. And he (Abraham) believed in the Lord.' Onkelos. “In the word of the Lord.”
Gen. xxi. 23. , Now therefore swear unto me here by God.' Onkelos. “ 'The word of the Lord.” Exod. xiv. 32. “The people believed the Lord.' Onkelos.“ In the word of the Lord.” Exod. xvi. 8. “Your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord,' Onkelos. “ the word of the Lord.”
Num. xiv. 9. • Rebel not ye against the Lord.' Onkelos. “ The word of the Lord.” Isa. xlv. 12. 'I have made the earth, and created man upon it, saith the Lord." Jonathan's Targum. “I by my word made the earth,” &c. Isa. xlviii. 13. My hand also founded the earth.' Jona. than. “ By my word also I founded the earth." These are only a few out of a vast number of places, wherein the Chaldee paraphrasts render Jehovah, or the Lord, in Hebrew, by the word of the Lord in their translations ; which seems to prove, that this way of speaking, was only an idiom, or peculiarity of the language in which they wrote : and was not intended to denote any other being be. sides Jehovah the God of Israel himself. And the following passages in which this form of expression is applied to hu. man beings, confirms this idea still more. Num. xv. 32. • They found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath
Jonathan. " There arose a man of the house of Joseph, and said IN HIS WORD, I will go and gather sticks on the sabbath day.” Eccles. xii. 8. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, all is vanity.' Paraphrase. "When Solomon, king of Israel, contemplated the vanity of this world, and the vain actions which men perform in it, the preacher said; IN HIS WORD, all is vanity."
Now, say the Socinians, as it appears from the Old Testament, and the Jewish Targums, or translations of it,
that the ancient Hebrews used the word of God, as another term for. God himself, * it is natural to think that St. John imitated the practice of his countrymen in this respect; and it is far more reasonable to interpret the Logos, or Word, in this sense, than to take it in the acceptation of Platonists, for heathen philosophers, with whom St. John had no connection, and whose language he cannot be supposed to have followed. The advocates, therefore, for the proper hu. manity of Christ, consider this place of St. John's Gospel, as a figurative description of God the Father himself, in the Jewish style, creating the world by his power, wisdom, will, or word; which word was in the beginning with him, and was not any person or agent different from him, but was God himself, as the Apostle affirms. By this word, will, or command of God, was every part of the creation formed or produced. And this Word afterwards was made flesh, or dwelt in the person of Jesus Christ ; and is synonymous to the spirit or power of God, which we are so often told resided in him, and enabled him to perform all his miraculous works. This interpretation will appear the more natural, if we examine and compare it with the old English version that was in use in queen Elizabeth's time. That translation renders John i. 2, 3, 4, and 14, as follows. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was that Word. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by it, and without it, was made nothing that was made. In it was life, and the life was the light of men. And the same Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we saw the glory of it, as the glory of the only begotten Son that came from the Father) full of grace and truth.'
There are many who think that St. John here alludes to Prov. viii. 22. wherein Solomon introduces wisdom in beautiful metaphorical language, as a person residing with the Almighty in the beginning of his ways; and attending him
* It has been urged by Trinitarians, as a proof that the Chaldec paraphrasts understood a person by the Word, that in Psal. cx. I, they translate 'The Lord said unto my Lord,' as follows: “ The Lord said to his Word;” but this place is rendered in the Latin translations of both Targum’s, in Walton's Polygot Bible. • Dixit Dominus in verbo suo,' i. e. “The Lord said in or by his Word;" that is in or by bimself, which entirely removes this objection.
in the creation of every part of nature. Jeremiah likewise speaking of the Divine Being, says, chap. X. 12.
.. He : hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.' It has also been ramarked, that the term Logos may be more properly translated, reason or wisdom, than the word; agreeably to the observation of Tertullian, who speaking of God prior to the creation, has the following words. 6 For before all things God' existed alone, being to himself the world, space, and all things. He was alone, because nothing external, or besides himself, was in being. But neither then was he alone, for he had with him his reason, which he had within himself. God is rational also, and reason was before in him; and so all things were of him. Which reason is his sense or understanding. This the Greeks call Logos, which word also we use to express Sermo. And therefore it is become the common custom among us, through a simplicity of interpretation (i. e. an unskilfulness in interpreting) to say, that speech or discourse (Sermo) was in the beginning with God, whereas it would be more proper to say that reason was so, which is more ancient; because God was in the beginning not sermonális, but rational, even before the beginning; and because speech, or discourse itself, depending upon reason, does shew that to be prior to it, as its substance, &c.”*
An eminent commentator taking Logos in this sense, as denoting the Divine Reason, translates and paraphrases the first fourteen 'verses of St. John's Gospel, in the following manner.
1. 66 In the beginning was Reason, and that Reason was with God, and God was that Reason. 1. It is true, before
* “Ante omnia enim Deus erat solus, ipse sibi et mundus, et locus, et omnia. Solus autem quia nihil aliud extrinsecus præter illum. Cæterum, ne tunc quidem solus; habebat enim secum quam habebat in semetipso ; rationem suam scilicet. Rationalis etiam Deus, et Ratio in ipso prius; et ita, ab ipso omnia. Qua Ratio Sensus ipsius est. Hanc Græci oyoy dicunt, quo vocabulo etiam Sermonem appellamus. Ideoque jam in usu est nostrorum, per simplicitatem interpretationis, Sermonem dicere in primordio apud Deum fuisse ; cum magis Rationem competat antiquiorem haberi; quia non sermonalis a principio, sed rationalis Deus etiam ante principium; et quia ipse quoque sermo Ratione consistens, priorem eam ut substantiam suam ostendat, &c. "_Tertullian Adv. Praxeam, chap. v. p. 502, 503. Edit. Rigaltii. Parisiis, 1695.