« ForrigeFortsett »
capable of being transferred to ano- sume: it might be much talked of, ther language. Hence we infer and we not know of it; and it was that Christ expressly intended to certainly included in the general use the present tense ; that the assumption of his being the Messiah, Evangelist in using that tense was and was, we may naturally suppose, infallibly directed, and that it is a portion of that alleged blasphemy not an allowable solution of a sup- which was imputed to him. But posed difficulty in the Greek to re- Dr. Smith admits even greater “difvert to a supposed ambiguity in the ficulties ;" for he says that “the Syriac, as if the Evangelist had chief difficulty that lies on the Trinieither doubted or decided wrong. tarian doctrine,” and “a great and The present it is; and we may not serious difficulty which it would be suppose it was originally spoken disingenuous not to admit,” is, that otherwise, unless the Greek reading “to attribute the characters of be incorrect, which no one pretends. Divinity to the Messiah and to the The phrase is peculiar, but remark. Holy Spirit
, is to set up other beings ably forcible, and forcible even in as Divine, besides the living and its peculiarity; and we know not true God." We really are astothat we should go far beyond its nished to hear Dr. Smith call this spirit, if we paraphrased it, “ Yes, I a difficulty. It involves, indeed, existed before Abraham ; I am the a solemn mystery; but as to any existent one; I exist now; I shall difficulty, as if it bordered upon exist for ever.”
polytheism, the charge is utterly But though this particular re- groundless. We worship one God ference to the Syriac or Hebrew one God only—how that one God idiom does not satisfy us, Dr. Smith's subsists is an independent question, general discussion on the passage is and its Scriptural solution does not highly satisfactory, and utterly sub- make three Gods, but a tri-une God. verts the several hypotheses by which Surely our respected author is far the force of this remarkable and too indulgent to his opponents, in decisive passage is attempted to be calling points like this “ serious evaded. We only think that both difficulties.” They had been things here and elsewhere, be sometimes utterly unascertainable, had they allows too much strength to objec. not been revealed ; the whole subtions which have in them rather the ject had been too difficult for human nature of cavils than reasons ; and scrutiny; but revealed, there is noadmits serious difficulties where thing in them but what the most there are none, except as raised by enlightened understanding may achypercriticism or party argumen. knowledge to be congruous, and tation. We know not why it should worthy of the highest ideas we can be affirmed that our Lord's discourse form of the Divine nature. John vi. 33–63, or John viii. 14, Dr. Smith's opponents have how23, 24, 42, is environed « with ever their “difficulties," but of a serious difficulty;" or why it should very different kind. Thus the late be acknowledged as a great dif- Mr. Belsham very honestly says, in ficulty" that our Lord's declaration reference to our Lord's declarations of his priority to Abraham did not of his personal agency in the remake a stronger impression, was not surrection of the dead and the final alluded to by his disciples, and was judgment, which if we believe we not urged against him ; since our must acknowledge him to be omauthor himself shews very obvious nipotent, omniscient, and infinite ; reasons why all this might not be,“ That this is a great difficulty caneven if the alleged fact were proved, not be denied ;” but he sets himself which it is not; for it is but a negative, to do the best he can with it, adding, which the brevity of the Evangelical “ Possibly, however, it may be al. narrative does not allow us to as- leviated by attention to the following
considerations;" on which our au
we must pass them thor very justly exclaims :
wholly over, and proceed to the “Alleviated !-Is it then become an fourth book, the argument of which object with these persons to diminish the fills the greater part of the third weight of his doctrines, whom they still volume. acknowledge as the wisest and best of Teachers, the great one commissioned by
This argument, as we have above God; to strip his words of their awful stated, is the testimony to the person import, to extinguish their majesty, and of Christ derived from the writings to lighten their pressure upon the human of the Apostles. We have already said by one of the most judicious as weli had a double argument, the old as amiable of men (the late Dr. Ryland), Testament, and the narratives of
How innumerable are the expressions, the four Evangelists, comprising our used by the writers of the New Testament, Lord's own declarations and admisas well as in the ancient prophecies of the sions : we now arrive at the third Messiah, which Socinian good sense '[al. luding to an expression of Mr. Belsham's, thread in this threefold cord that attributing that quality pre-eminently, if cannot be broken. And this sums not exclusively, to his own party,] would up the whole; for though, as we have carefully avoided!'
have before observed, our Lord's We will quote from this chapter
own words and intimations are satisonly one short passage more, which factory and unequivocal—especially we beg leave to assign as our own
as explicated under that succeeding reason why we refuse to use the inspired teaching, by which the term Unitarian, as assumed by the Holy Spirit whom he promised was sects to whose opinions we have to lead' his church into all truth, been alluding, as if we also were taking of the things which are not Unitarians, while we worship Christ's, and revealing them spethe Son and the Holy Ghost, even cially to his Apostles, and through as we worship the Father. It will, their writings to those who should besides, shew that Dr. Smith was live after them : yet it was not our over-courteous to his opponents, Lord's design to disclose fully the when he talked of " serious diffi- mysteries of the Christian dispenculties,” which he could so readily sation, during his own personal resolve.
sidence upon earth. Many points “ Whatever our opponents may think
were reserved for that last stage of of the credibility and rationality of our sentiments, they ought to do us the jus- Divine revelation, which was comtice of recollecting that we constantly and pleted in the Apostolic letters, the strenuously deny the assumption, by them inspired history of the infant church, made. Our doctrine is that, whatever may and the revelations of St. John. Our be the kind of distinction which we conceive to subsist in the Divine Nature
, that Lord himself delivered some things Nature is one. The Deity of the Son, darkly, and others with only partial and the Deity of the Holy Spirit, we be- explanation ; the full light being lieve to be one and the same with the intended for a future period, the Deity of the Father. Let this doctrine stand or fall, according to the evidence : period of the especial manifestation but let it not be forgotten or overlooked of the Spirit, of which the miraculous that this is our doctrine. In honouring scene of the day of Pentecost was the Redeemer and the Sanctifier, we be- at once a sign, a pledge, and a lieve that we are honouring the Father and Fountain of all being and blessedness, specimen. We cannot doubt that and that, in each case, the object of our
our Lord intended specially to aphonour is the one and only God.” p. 319. point bis Apostles, and the inspired
But we must no longer linger penmen of the New Testament, to around this chapter ; and as for the be the receivers and transmitters of next two, on the real humanity of those Divinely revealed truths reChrist, with its affections and cha- specting him, which, during the racter, and on the state of mind period of his ministry upon earth, and the degree of knowledge of the his own disciples were slow to unApostles during our Lord's sojourn derstand. To effect this purpose he promised his Spirit as the Illu- lusion to it was not requisite to the minator of their understandings, and point in hand. If, therefore, the their Guide to truth; and thus taught book of the Acts of the Apostles, by Him who cannot lie, their testi- only tacitly implied, or took for mony is, that Jesus is the Christ, granted, or was built upon the Dithe Messiah, the Son of God, the vinity of our Lord, without any Saviour of the world ; truly God, express mention of it, it would not yet truly man, by a Divine and in- follow that the doctrine was not effable mystery.
Scriptural, or was unknown to the We cannot follow our author primitive church. But it was so through the long series of texts appointed that this preliminary conwhich he has brought forward insideration is scarcely necessary; for proof of the Apostolic witness to that great truth beams out in this Christ ; but we shall state his me- part of sacred writ with a strength thod, and advert to his conclusions. which would be sufficient to exhibit He first considers the examples of it in all its lustre, were there no Apostolic instruction, in the book other evidence; and which being of the Acts ; and then in the de- chiefly collateral and incidental, is clarations of those of the Apostles doubly forcible. We must leave themselves, whose writings have our readers to collate the passages been transmitted to posterity as a for themselves, in the course of their portion of the inspired canon. biblical studies; but shall present
The book of the Acts of the them with our author's brief sumApostles is not meant for a regular mary of the result :history : it neither comprises in its “ Thus we have endeavoured to collect notices the whole range of the early the declarations contained in the Acts of Christian church, nor the whole of the Apostles, on the subject of our inquiry.
The sum of the testimonies appears to be the actions of its first teachers, or
this : that the Christ is really and truly a any one of them; it is chiefly a man; yet that powers and actions are rapid view of several highly im- attributed to him which are totally inconportant occurrences, with more co. gruous with the human or any other cre
ated nature; that he is the author and pious details respecting particular
cause of spiritual and immortal blessings individuals and churches. And if to the human race; that the miracles, it be not a regular history, much which attested the mission of the Apostles, less is it a regular code of doctrine. were performed by his efficient power It does not profess to discuss the Spirit had the same origination ; that he whole system of the Gospel ; it will be the final and universal Judge of refers rather to its memorable events mankind ; that, in all these respects, Jesus than to its tenets, which the reader Christ acts in subordination to the primary is supposed to know from other grace and authority of the Father; that
the characteristic institutions of Chris. sources, while his belief in them is tianity have an especial respect to him as confirmed by the occurrences related their author, and the object to whom, in this early missionary chronicle. equally with God the Father, their homage But this being the case, the in- Lord, in the absolute form ; that the
is directed; that he is often styled the cidental light which is cast upon phrase of performing religious acts in his important points of doctrine is the Name, is used, in a manner analogous to more remarkable. In a set treatise, the peculiar application of that expression like that of the Epistle to the He- ligious worship was paid to him, and that brews, we expect direct and ample such worship was a designating mark of discussions; but in a narrative of the primitive Christians.” pp. 54, 55. events, matters of doctrine break in And is not even this of itself upon us only as necessary to the sufficient; and, combined with all explication of the story: so that the that had gone before, from Genesis absence of any particular doctrine, to Malachi, and from the Gospel of were it absent, would not imply a St. Matthew to that of St. Jolin, is disbelief in it, but only that an al- it not even more than sufficient, to
convince all who are willing to be become man in order to effect a purpose convinced, what is the Scripture buted a richness and fulness of moral doctrine relative to our Lord and excellency, the same kind of beauty and Saviour Jesus Christ ? Yet far more grandeur which the Scriptures always preis yet untold; for the Apostolic sent to us as that which constitutes the Epistles and the Book of the Reve. peculiar glory of the Divine perfections. lations are the climax of the whole the most exalting and dignifying attain
The knowledge of Him is represented as argument. On these our author ment to which men can aspire, and as dilates seriatim, and at considerable conferring upon them the most valuable length. His general conclusions, benefits. The name of Christ is reprewhich are derived from large and istics and relations, and claiming the same
sented as possessing the same charactertruly philosophical induction, are honours as those which belong to the name summed up as follows :
of God. He is represented as possessing
an original and intimate knowledge of the “In taking this review, the first re- attributes, purposes, and acts which are markable feature that strikes our attention peculiar to the Deity. His own will and is the combining of qualities in the same purposes are spoken of as unsearchable, subject, which are the undoubted attri- and as identical with those of the Eternal butes of two essentially distinct and in- Mind. To him are attributed a legislative convertible natures. Yet this language, and judicial authority, and an actual power, involving combination, is used by the in the moral government of the world ; a Apostles habitually, without any indica- dominion over the mental actions and aftions of being oppressed by an insur- fections of men, their consciences, their mountable difficulty. This fact appears responsibility, and their moral state. He incapable of solution, except on the ad. is described as having all futurity lying mission that the writers, in so expressing open before him, and as disposing of all themselves, were directed by an infallible persons, things, and events, at his own and divine teaching, and were fully sensible pleasure. He is represented as the source that, in this astonishing combination of of the apostolic verity and authority, the opposite properties, there was no real efficient producer of the miraculous attesincongruity. The necessary inference is tations to Christianity, and the author of that which we have been obliged to draw, the prophetic inspiration, though it was from finding the same habit of expression granted ages before his human existence. in all the preceding parts of our inquiry; “The Epistles also, in their entire strain that, in the person of the Messiah, the of assertion, implication, and recognition, two natures of humanity and Deity are hold forth Jesus Christ as the author and really united, in a manner the most inti- imparter of that which is the supreme mate and indissoluble, yet without the good to rational creatures ; he is the deextinction of either class of properties, liverer and preserver from moral and without confusion, and without any im- natural evil, in their most dreadful forms: pediment to the affections and exercises and he is the designing and active cause distinctive of each. Without contro- of all that coustitutes the perfection of versy, great is the mystery of godliness, man, spiritual happiness, in its essence, the transcendent doctrine of piety and its production in the mind, its progress, truth!
its security, and its heavenly consum“We have found the general idea of mation. He is the possessor and imparter pre-existence pervading the whole current of life, both in its inferior and in its highest of the apostolic testimony; in some places modes of subsistence. On him the being directly affirmed, but usually in the way of and the well-being of all happy creatures implication. Christ is also spoken of, depend for ever. He confers ability for in the same current style of assumption enduring the severest trials, and for perand implication, as having come, or been forming the most difficult duties. He brought, into the condition of human and counteracts, restrains, and destroys the mortal existence ; and that this coming to mightiest agencies of evil. He is the mankind was an act of beneficent indul- proprietor and sovereign of mankind, and gence and condescension, so great as to of the universe besides. He is even rebe above description, thus implying an presented as the Creator of the universe, original dignity and worth superior to subsisting in oneness with Deity at the those of any created nature ; for it would first production of dependent nature; and have been an unspeakable favour and as the sustainer and preserver of all things, honour conferred upon any creature, to material, intellectual, and moral. It is he have been invested with the office of being that will raise the dead, and effect, upon the Saviour of the world. He is shewn those who shall be living at the time of to be the intervening Agent, between the the universal resurrection, the analogous holy government of God and man the change in their corporeal frame. To him offending creature : an intelligent, volun. will belong the sovereign adjudication, irretary, and active being, condescending to versible, and without appeal, of the everCHRIST. OBSERV. No. 345.
lasting state of all the individuals of just been stated ; and the diligent mankind. “ These writings further exhibit Christ
reader will easily find chapter and as the proper object of confidence, for the
verse for all these attributes of acquisition of the greatest possible bless. Messiah's glory. How it is that ings; and of veneration, love, and delight, any man can profess to read the in preference to every thing created. He Bible, and yet overlook such pasis appealed to in awful and holy obtestations; and is the express object of religious sages, or to believe it, and not invocation, in both prayer and praise. To feel their force, is to us inexhim religious obedience is directed, as its plicable. An Atheist, or Deist, proper object; and it is against him that is comparatively a consistent man; are made to him of supreme honours, and even a Neologian of the ex: comporting with the highest celebrations treme school is somewhat in keepof Jehovah in the Old Testament. All ing with himself; but the Unitarian, created intelligences, even the highest, as that term is now employed, are introduced as adoring him; both in the dispensations of time and in the future presents the most extraordinary world. He is displayed as supreme in specimen of anomaly which we excellency; superior to all creatures, dis- know how to conceive. Neologians tributively and collectively ; being the of the extreme school admit that true, full, and proper representation to mankind of the Infinite Godhead; the
the Apostles believed the Divinity Son of God, in a manner peculiar to him- of our Lord ; they think them, self, and exclusive of any mode of created indeed, very much misguided in existence; of the same nature as the Fa
so doing ; they attribute to them ther ; unchangeable ; eternal ; having all Divine perfection; denominated the Lord, abundance of mysticism and enthuin connexions and with predicates requiring siasm ; but they acknowledge the the highest and absolute sense of the ap- fact, while they boast of their own pellation ; God; the God and Lord; the Christ and God; the True God; the superior wisdom and freedom from Great God and Saviour." pp. 388–392.
prejudice, in not believing as the
Apostles did. But the Unitarian What a constellation of celestial does profess to believe as the Apoattributes ! And is it possible to stles did : and this is, to our minds, resist the evidence thus ably and the most inconsistent feature of the admirably summed up? Yet, after system. If they professed to im. all, a few plain texts, some two or prove upon Christianity: if, like three of the several hundreds al. Mr. Jeremy Bentham, under the luded to, or remarked upon, in these name of Gamaliel Smith, in bis volumes, will be sufficient for the “Jesus, and not Paul," they affected religious repose of an honest and to find that the Apostles had oversimple mind. And, in truth, we stepped the teaching of their turn from the dazzling and over- Master, they might, possibly, have whelming display of concentrated at least some shew of argument to glory, exhibited in the last extract, urge in proof that Christ was not to the mild radiance with which God: but to acknowledge the that glory is scattered over many a Epistles as a part of Divine inspipage of holy writ; not condensed to ration, and yet to deny what beams a focus of almost intolerable bright- in every page of them, is an incon. ness, but illuminating and cheering sistency which implies soinething the whole spiritual universe with its very peculiar either in the head or mild and genial radiations. Yet all the heart of the man who is guilty that our author has thus industri. of it. Nor is this a mere cavil of ously and powerfully collected from the orthodox; for infidels, one and the apostolic writings into a few many, have said the same. Dr. paragraphs, till the mind is almost Smith reminds us of an instance in overpowered and hewildered with a celebrated man of genius, but an the cluster of ideas, is really told us avowed infidel, Lessing, who ex. in detail in those hallowed pages : pressed his admiration of the har. Christ is described to be all that has
mony and grandeur of orthodox