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3(54 THE TRUE GOD
is himself addressed by the sacred name of God.s That Jesns Christ, the Governor and Saviour of the church, in whom every sincere Christian abides by faith, is the true God, is a doctrine explicitly declared by the apostle John, at the conclusion of his first epistle. "We know," says the apostle, "that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know the True one; and we are in the True one, (even) in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life:"6 ch. v, 20. The train of ideas which this passage unfolds is very
5 Ps. xlv, 7. "]]}"\ D^li? DTI^N "]NDD. Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; Tar gum—" The throne of thy glory, O Jehovah, is established for ever:" Sept. 'O Sgow; eou, i Ssij, iit aiuna aiSivog, " Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." So Syr. (Eth. Vulg. Arab, Aquila, SfC. So also the Greek fathers: vide Justin, dial, cum Tryph. Ed. Ben., p. 152, D. Irenteus contra Har., lib. iii, c. 6, Ed. Ben., p. 180, J. Eusebius Hem. Evang., Athanasius ad Scrap. Ed. Colon., vol. i, 169, B. Chrysostom, de incomprehens. Dei. nat. Ed. Ben., tom, i, 483, E. The late Gilbert Wakefield, in contradiction to these and many other authorities, but after the example of Grotius, has ventured to render this passage, " God is thy throne for ever and ever." This strange version of the words of the Psalmist is evidently inadmissible: first, because the stress of the apostle's argument evidently depends on the fact, that the Son is here addressed by the name of God: and secondly, because in the Septuagint version of the passage, (which is adopted by the apostle) the article before Sg6>0S precludes our explaining that substantive as the predicate instead of the subject of the proposition: see Middleton Doctr. Gr. Art. on Heb. i, 8. It is almost needless to remark, that 6 3s4j is frequently used as a vocative.
6 I John v, 20. Ol&a/iiv tii art 6 vilg rov ©iod fixii, xa! diduxiv ri/j,ii diavoiav, ha. yivdexoi/iiv rbv akriQivov xai itSfWv lv rp aXtiDivt/i, h rji) u/f; alirov 'lyeou Xf/oYp. Ouxoj low 6 oWriQivbg Qibg xal ri ^uri aiuviog. The common English version of this passage is as follows: "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life."
Clarke, in his Scripture doctrine of the Trinity, (p. 54) has, with singular inaccuracy, asserted that the terms "true God," in I John v, 20, were understood by all the ancients as relating to the Father. My own search, in the works of the ancient ecclesiastical writers, for references to this passage, (a search greatly facilitated by the indexes of the Benedictine editions) has not supplied me with a single instance of such an interpretation. On the contrary, these words are quoted as relating to Jesus Christ, and are treated of as a proof of his divinity, by At/tanasius, (orat. I, con. Arianos, Ed. Colon, i, 206); Cyril. Alex. (dial, viii, quod unus sit Christns, Ed. Lntet. vol. v, part i, 713); Hilary, (De Trin. lib. vi); Basil, (adv. Eunom. lib. iv, Ed. Ben. i, 294); Jerom, (in Isa. lxv, 16); Augustine, (De Trin. lib. i, cap. 6•); Gregory Magnus, (Ed. Ben. ii, p. 1169); (Ecumenius and Theophylact, (in loc). The great majority of modern commentators explain the passage in the same manner: see, particularly, the admirable notes upon it of Joh. Calvin and Whitby; also Glassii Phil. Sac. a Dath. tom, i, p. 157.
AND ETERNAL, LIFE, 365
intelligible. The Son of God has come into the world, and has bestowed upon us a knowledge of the True one, that is of the Father; and we not only know the Father, but actually are or dwell in him: and this is the consequence of our being or dwelling in the Son, because he is himself the True God and Eternal life. That this simple paraphrase affords a clear and easy signification, cannot be denied; and that it is in perfect accordance with the declarations of the same apostle in his Gospel, respecting the deity of Jesus Christ, and his union with the Father, the impartial inquirer will not fail to allow. It is, however, a satisfactory circumstance, that the correctness of this interpretation, (as far as relates to the application to the Son of the terms true God) is clearly confirmed by critical considerations. For, in the first place, it is evident that the declaration of the Father's being the true God would here be simply tautologons—a mere repetition of a doctrine already supposed and stated. Secondly, according to the plainest principle of construction, the pronoun rendered he, can here be understood only of Jesus Christ, whose name is its immediate antecedent, and who is, at the same time, the principal subject of the apostle's discourse. And lastly, the title eternal life, in the language of the New Testament, and especially of this apostle, properly and peculiarly designates the Son, who has procured for us that celestial boon—who took our nature upon him, and died on the cross, that he might give "life unto the world," Jesus is the " bread of life;" (John vi, 48;) "the word of life;" (I John i, 1 ;) "the resurrection, and the life:" John xi, 25. He, and he alone, as we are taught in the commencement of this very epistle, is "that eternal life, which was
366 THE LORD,
with the Father, and was manifested unto us:" ch. i, 2; comp. v, 12; Col. iii, 3,4. It follows, therefore, that Jesus Christ in his reign, is the true God; and after promulgating this sacred truth, the apostle significantly adds, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols:" ver. 21.
The manner in which the title Lord is, in the New Testament, applied to Jesus Christ, has an important bearing on the present subject. By the evangelists and apostles, he is very frequently, and by way of eminence, denominated, the Lord; and the apostle Paul in particular, who has employed this term upwards of three hundred times, so appropriates it to our Saviour, as thereby to distinguish him from the Father on the one hand, and from all the creatures of God on the other. Now, although the substantive Lord, when used as a common appellative, may designate any person who rules over others, yet, when it is thus applied in an absolute manner, with a force closely assimilated to that of a proper name, it is usually understood to signify God. In the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, it constantly represents the Hebrew name Jehovah. It is well known that the Greek style of the writers of the New Testament was, in many respects, formed upon that of the Septuagint. The Scripture of that version, was the Scripture which they read; and from which they generally quoted. Since, then, in the Septuagint, this very word Lord is the most frequent name of the Almighty—a name which could not fail to bring God to the remembrance of every Hellenistic Jew—it appears most probable, that the apostolic use of this title, as the name of Jesus Christ, was grounded on the doctrine of his real divinity.
CHRIST AND GOD, 367
That this was, in fact, the principle on which the apostle Paul so employed the title Lord, may indeed be concluded, not only from this general argument, but from the force of several particular passages in his writings. Thus, when, in speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, he commands servants to perform their duty " as to the Lord and not to men;" (Col. iii, 23, 24; Eph. vi, 7;) this pointed antithesis between the Lord and men, affords no obscure indication that, to the former term, the apostle attached the notion of divinity. Nor can we avoid deducing the same inference from his application of this divine title, when he illustrates his doctrine of faith in the Lord Jesus, as an object of prayer and invocation, by the declaration of Joel, that all who " call on the name of the Lord (Jehovah) shall be saved;" and when, on another occasion, after reproving the Corinthians because they ate meats offered to idols, although they were also partakers of the cup of the Lord, and the table of the Lord, (that is, of the cup and table of the Lord Jesus) he immediately adds, " Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?" and, soon afterwards, completes his discourse on the subject, in the sublime words of the Psalmist:—"The earth is the Lords and the fulness thereof:" Rom. x, 13: comp. Joel ii, 32; I Cor. x, 21—28; comp. Ps. xxiv, 1.
But the title Lord is not the only divine name which Paul has applied to Jesus Christ: twice incidentally, and once by a positive assertion, has this apostle confessed that Jesus is God.
In our common English version of the epistle to the Ephesians, we read that no "covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God;" v, 5. Now, according to a
368 OUR GREAT GOD,
common rule of Greek construction, which, within its true limits, is constantly observed by the writers of the New Testament, and amongst the rest, by the apostle Paul, the words here translated "the kingdom of Christ and of God,"ought clearly to be rendered, "the kingdom of him who is Christ and God" and in this sense the passage appears to have been uniformly understood by the persons who were the most competent to form, in such a case, an accurate estimate of the apostle's meaning—I mean those early ecclesiastical writers, to whom Greek was both a living and a native language.
Another passage, to the same effect, forms a very striking part of the epistle of Paul to Titus: " For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world: looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ:" ii, 11—13. Whether it was the intention of our translators, in this passage, to separate the titles God and Saviour, or to introduce them as the joint epithets of Jesus Christ, is quite doubtful; but, in the original Greek, there does not appear to be any ambiguity; for, according to the same rule of construction, and the known customary phraseology of this apostle, both terms must be considered as applying to Jesus Christ; and the passage ought therefore to be rendered, " the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ." In the present instance, this version of the apostle's words is confirmed, not only by the concurrent and unhesitating testimony of both the Greek and Latin fathers, but also by the words "glo