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of Christ recorded by St. John; and
so all the
arguments founded upon this imagined allusion fall to the ground *.
. But further the words of our Lord himself, in John viii. 58. do not appear to have been rightly understood by our translators. For in all other places where the words I am, (syw Elpe) occur in this manner, they have uniformly supplied the sense by adding he: but have omitted it in this place, being probably misled by the Septuagint and Vulgate. Thus in the 24 and 28 verses of this chapter, we find he very properly inserted, I said therefore unto
ye shall die in your sins : for if ye believe not that (syw eius) I am he (i. e. I am the Christ) ye shall die in your sins. ( Then said Jesus unto them, when ye have lified up the son of man, then shall ye know that (syw Eques) I am u£, and that I do nothing of myself; but. as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.' In this last citation, Jesus at the very time he makes use of the words I AM, declares that he can do nothing of himself, but was taught and instructed by his father what to say. It is palpably evident from our Lord's expressing himself in this manner, that no deep, mysterious sense, implying divinity, is couch: ed under the words I AM;' but that they are only a concise declaration of the Messiahship of Jesus, In John xiii. 19. we have another instance of the same kind; Now I tell you
before it come, that when it is come to pass, ye may believe that (syw Elli) I am ne. But the most striking instance of this way of speaking is to be found in our Lord's dialogue with the woman of Samaria. John iv.
• Exod. iii. 14. “ Ero qui ero, EHJEU ASCHER E JER," " Hic, ut multi putarunt, non edit nomen suum Deus, sed Mosis questionem obiter castigat. Nam in sequentibus manifesto Jehovam sese vocat; neque usquam alibi legitur vox Ehjeh, quasi Dei nomen. Hoc igitur velle videtur : non est quod nomen meum quæras, quod nullum mihi hactenus tribui, is ERO Israeli Deus, qui Ero, quocunque. me nomine appellitent perinde est ; seu, eo nomine appellari me patiar, quo appcllabor. Ea est vis repetitionis ejusdem Verbi. cujus vide exempla Gen. chap. xliii. 13. LXX Int. verterunt, syw sui o ww ego sum, qui sum, qui egregius quidem est sensus, sed ex Platonismo ut videtur, deducendus potiusquam ex loci serie. Vide Eusebii Præpar. Evang. Lib. ix. cap. 9." Le Clerc in loco. In confirmation this interpretation of Le Clerc's, it may be here observed, that the Chaldee paraphrast Onkelos, renders this place of Exodus in the same manner. dixit Duos ad Moysen. Ero qui ero; i. e. And God said to Moses, I will be that I will be.' Walton's Polyglot Bible.
25, 26. “The woman sasth unto him, I know that Mêssias cometh, which is called Christ; when he is come he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, 1 that speak unto thee am HR.' (syw Eljes) Now the woman's observation, and our Lord's reply, prove beyond the possibility of a doubt, that Jesus intended nothing else by this abrupt way of speaking, but to signify that he was the Christ; and from this passage it is also perfectly clear, that our translators have done well in inserting He in other places. And if they had not been misled by erroneous ideas, they would have rendered John viii. 58, in the same manner, viz. • Before Abraham was I am he, that is, I am the Christ.
But it may be here asked, how Christ could say, that he was before Abraham, if he only began to exist when he was born of Mary? To this we reply, that Christ's existing hefore Abraham, yea before the world was, is no proof at all of divinity; and is no more than what the Arians bave always maintained, who yet positively reject the Trinitarian system. But our Lord does not here say that he was before Abraham, he only says, that "before Abraham was, I am he,' or the Christ. He also obseryes, in ver. 40 of this chapter. But now ye seek to kill mė, a man that hath told
you the truth, which I have heard of God; this did nyt Abraham And in ver. 56 he adds ; Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Now to see the day of a person before-hand, im. plies in the judgment of some, that the person himself did not then actually exist ; but was only at some future period to exist. Our Lord then may have only intended to intimate, that he was the Messiah promised to mankind after the fall; and foretold long before Abraham had a being; and also the object of Abraham's faith and joyful expectation. But whether Christ pre-existed or not, does not form a part of our present controversy with the Trinitarians. For the ob.. ject of dispute is not the pre-existence, but the divinity of Christ, and his equality with the God and Father of all; which they affirm, and we think we have the best and most unexceptionable reasons in the world to deny.
John x. 30. 'ļ and my Father are one." The Trinita. rians taking this sentence by itself, without considering its connection with the preceding and following parts of our Lord's discourse, inferfrom it that the Father and the Son are one es
sence, or substance, and consequently one God. But our Lord himself does not say, that his Father and himself are one God, ,or one essence, but simply that they are (ev) une. And in what sense they are one, must be determined not arbitrarily, but according to the scope and meaning of the context, and the usage of the same mode of speech in other parts of scripture. That the Father and the Son are not one essence, or substance, is evident from the dictates of common sense. For every person, or intelligent agent, must have a distinct and separate essence of his own, or else he could not possibly exist at all. If the essence of the Son is the same indi. vidual numerical essence with that of the Father, the distinct personality of each will be destroyed; and either the one or the other njust cease to be a person. The Son will be the Father, and the Father the Son, and they will not only be one essence, but one person also, in the strictest sense. Thus, this pretended unity of the Son with the Father, will be found to annihilate the Són altogether. If it is affirmed on the other hand, that the Father and the Son have distinct divine essences; and that they are only said to be one, because they are of a similar nature and substance, as the bodies of two men may be said to be of one substance: this is a plain breach of the Divine Unity, and an open acknowledgment of two Gods in number. Now the Trinitarians must either stand by the one or the other of these assertions, for there is no medium betwixt them; and the low stale device of mystery and incomprehensibility, may be urged in the defence of any given absurdity what.
But if we will suffer the scripture to be its own interpre. ter, and attend to the manner in which our Lord introduces these words, we shall find an easy, obvious, and intelli. gible sense, in which it may be affirmed that he and the Father are one. Our Lord observes ver. 27, 28, 29, of this chapter. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.-And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me, is greater than all; and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.' Christ had here asserted, that his sheep or followers were in a state of security and safety, in consequence of their being under his protection ; but least any
one should doubt of his ability for that purpose, he adds, that the Father who is greater than all, and consequently greater than himself, had given them unto him, and that the Father's power, which was boundless, would be exerted in their behalf. And then he adds, I and the Father are one;' the plain meaning of which is, I and the Father have the same benevolent designs and intentions for the sal. vation of my people and followers ; and the power of the Father is communicated to me, and will be employed for
It is not pro
It is no argument in favour of our opponents, that the Jews understood our Saviour in an erroneous sense. For they were ever ready to láy hold of his words, and to put false and invidious constructions upon them. And we are not to argue from their
false comments, but from the natural and apparent meaning of our Lord himself. bable, however, that the Jews understood our Lord in the sense that Trinitarians do now, as claiming to be a divine person equal with the Father, but only as assuming the power and authority of God. But our Lord fully explain. ed himself to them, and declared, that he called himself the Son of God, only because the Father had 'sanctified him, snd sent him into the world;' and justified himself for assuming this title by the scriptures, in which those are called Gods to whom the word of God came, or who had received power and authority from God, such as kings, judges, &c.
This was a complete renunciation of proper divinity by our Lord, at a time when it was incumbent upon him to have declared to the contrary, if he bad really been in possession of it. And that the words of our Lord, I and the Father are one,' do not signify any unity of essence, may be farther proved from the use of the same mode of speech in other places of scripture. John xvii. 20, 21.
Neither pray I for these alone ; but for them also which shall believe on me through their word that they all
be (sv) ONE;, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that
may be (sv) one in us,' &c. 1 Cor. iii. 8. Now he that planteth (Paul) and he that watereth (Apollos) are (Ev) ONE.' Eph. ii. 14. “For he is our peace, who hath made both (Jews and Gentiles ev) ONE. Now in what sense were our Lord's disciples, Paul and Apollos, the Jess and Gentiles, to be (sv) one thing? Were they one
in essence or substance? The idea is too extravagant to be admitted by any person of sound understanding. Undoubt. edly they were one, only in respect of harmony, mutual benevolence, love, and a joint exertion of all their powers in the common defence of the Gospel. And if different persons, and even bodies of men, are said to be one in this sense, why may not our Lord and his heavenly Father, al. though very unequal in nature and dignity, be allowed to be so also? It is unaccountably strange in many Trinita. rians to take the words of our Lord in a scholastic, false, and impossible sense, when the scriptures themselves point out an easy, natural way of interpreting them. And some Trinitarians have been sensible of the foree of this, and have acknowledged it. In particular Calvin rejects this passage, as a proof of the unity of essence of the Son with the Father, and blames the Fathers for insisting
John xii. 41. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. This place was considered. Discourse VIII. page 122, 123.
John xiv. J. Let not your hearts be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.' It is strange, that these words should have been ever used as an objection. Christ is here plainly distinguished from God, and the Apostles, are supposed by our Lord, to have believed in God previ. ously to himself, which shews, that the person of Christ is not included under the word God. Believing in Christ does not imply divinity in him, but only acknowledging him as the Messiah, the Son of God, the great Messenger of the Father to mankind, and the Saviour of the world. And qur Lord tells us, John xii. 44. “He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.'
John xiv. 9. • Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip: he that hath seen me, hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?' ver, 17.
Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me,' &c. The words, he that hath seen me hath seen the Father, ' have been adduced as a proof, that the Son is a divine person equal with the Father. But if they were to be taken literally, they would prove a very different doctrine,