« AnteriorContinuar »
made us. kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Here everlasting glory and dominion are ascribed to Christ. And why not? No Unitarian will object to this. On the contrary, they rejoice to ascribe to him, as the Head of his Church, as the King of saints - aye, even as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords-glory and dominion for ever and ever. The kingdom which God sent his Són to establish, is to endure for ever, and his dominion throughout all generations and glory will for ever crown the head of him who died for man's redemption. But I can see nothing in the text under consideration like a recognition of his supreme divinity. On the contrary, the first verse of the Revelations seems to settle the question in another way. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” says the author, “which God gave unto him.”
I do not see why, in the future world, subordinate worship may not be rendered to Jesus Christ. I am not sure that, even after the Mediatorial kingdom shall have been delivered up to God, and Christ's kingly office, as it related to this world, shall have ceased, the well beloved Son may not be still honoured as a King in Heaven, in reward for his obedience unto death. Why even we are made, by Jesus Christ,“ kings and priests unto God and his Father,” and are, in a sense, to reign with him for ever.
If we overcome, we shall sit with him on his throne, as he also overcame, and is set down with his Father on his throne.
You next refer me to Rev. v. 5-14. This passage is of very much the same character with the last, and is urged as a proof that Christ is to be worshipped in Heaven. But here homage and worship is rendered to him as to a Lamb slain—as to a redeemer, and not as to the Almighty and supreme God. The worship here described is very different from that. rendered to the Father. Let me direct your attention to some remarks of Trinitarian writers upon this pas ge.
“Here,” says Bishop Sherlock, (referring to Chap. iv. 11,) “you see plainly that the adoration paid to God the Father is founded on his being Creator of all things. . . . Here, (referring to Chap. v. 9—12,) you as plainly see the worship paid to Christ to be founded in this, that he was slain, and did by his blood redeem
From all which it is evident that the worship paid to Christ is founded on the redemption, and relates to that power and authority, which he received from God at his resurrection." Works, vol. ii. p. 491.; Disc. I.
DAUBUZ remarks: “As the fundamental reason for which God the Father receiveth worship of the Jews and Gentiles, is because he hath created all things, and preserves them by his will, to have it perfected and executed on them; so the fundamental reason for which the Son is worshipped is because he was slain, and shed his blood thereby to redeem all mankind.” Surely, ther, if he is worshipped, because he was slain, he is not worshipped as the supreme God.
The next passage, Rev. xxii. 16, I have seen very satisfactorily explained in Pitkin's reply to Baker.
The next reference is to Heb. i. 8. According to my views already expressed in regard to the different senses in which the term worship may be used, and in regard to the subordinate worship which I believe may be rendered to Christ—the passage, I think, admits of satisfaetory explanation. I see no reason to suppose that the worship there spoken of implies supreme worship, any more than the worship or prostration of the wise men from the east, before the babe of Bethlehem.
Nor do the next passages to which you direct my attention, interfere, as I think, with my views. In 1 Tim. vi. 15, the phrase "King of Kings and Lord of Lords," is applied to the blessed and only Potentate, the supreme God; and in Rev. xvii. 14, the same phrase is applied to the Lamb. But it by no means necessarily follows, that these two beings are one and the same, or even equal. If we wait "until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,” He, "who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” will “show us how and why his well beloved Son is also proclaimed King of Kings and Lord of Lords;" indeed, I think, he has plainly shown it to us already. But now we see through a glass darkly; then, blessed be our Heavenly Father, we shall know even as we are known.
Another of the passages to which you refer, is the Apostolic Benediction, * The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all." 2 Cor. xiii. 14. And in regard to it you say, “ It hath ever been among the most conclusive to my mind in favour of the doctrine, which, from its difficulties, you have been tempted to reject.” But, my dear father, it does not strike my mind at all in the same way. If grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, and God gives the influences of his spirit to enlighten and sanctify us, it seems perfeetly natural that the “grace” and “communion” which is thus bestowed upon us by the Father, should be mentioned in connection with that “ lovewhich devised and carries on the scheme of redemption. I cannot see how the mere fact of their being named together proves anything in regard to a trinity of persons in the Godhead.
You allude to John i. 1. “ The Word was God.” If by the term “Word,” Christ was certainly intended, it would be a strong passage in favour of your views. But that is a question which must, after diligent investigation, be decided by each one for himself. The passage, says Norton," has been misunderstood through ignorance or disregard to the opinions or modes of conception, which the writer, St. John, had in mind.” Some quotations on this subject from his “ Statement of Reasons,” will show you what has been, to me, a very satisfactory explanation of this difficult passage. “There is no English word,” says he, “ answering to the Greek word Logos, as here used. It was employed to denote a mode of conception concerning the Deity, familiar at the time when St. John wrote, and intimately blended with the philosophy of his age, but long since obsolete, and so foreign from our habits of thinking, that it is not easy for us to conform
our minds to its apprehension. The Greek word Logos, in one of its primary senses, answered nearly to our word Reason. It denoted that faculty by which the mind disposes its ideas in their proper relations to each other; the Disposing Power if I may so speak, of the mind. In reference to this primary sense, it was applied to the Deity, but in a wider significance. The Logos of God was regarded not in its strictest sense, as merely the Reason of God; but under certain aspects, as the Wisdom, the Mind, the Intellect of God. To this the creation of all things was especially ascribed. The conception may seem obvious in itself; but the cause why the creation was primarily referred to the Logos or Intellect of God, rather than to his good. ness or omnipotence, is to be found in the Platonic philosophy, as it existed about the time of Christ, and particularly as taught by the eminent Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria."
Mr. Norton then goes on to describe this philosophy, and especially the strong personification of the Logos. I wish I had time and space to transcribe the whole passage, but must content myself by referring you to the work itself from which these extracts are taken. It will repay an attentive perusal. Mr. Norton continues, “St. John, writing in Asia Minor, where many for whom he intended his Gospel were familiar with the conception of the Logos, has probably for this reason, adopted the term • Logos' in the proem of his gospel to express that manifestation of God by Christ, which is elsewhere referred to the Spirit of God.” Mr. Norton's reasons for this opinion are, to my mind, perfectly conclusive ; you will find them in his “Statement of Reasons,” pp. 229–250.
You allude again, in a more particular manner, to the passage Isa. vi 1–10, as compared with John, xii. 41. You speak of the name Jehovah, as applied to Christ, and you inquire, " Who, on such a comparison of the passages, was it, or could it be, whose glory, as Jehovah the prophet saw ? By what possible process can these texts be silenced?” They could not be silenced if St. John had expressly informed us that the whole display of glory which Isaiah saw, was the glory of Christ ; but if the words, “when he saw his glory, and spake of him," refer to Christ, which some Trinitarians doubt* it must be to Christ's glory as Messiah -a glory given him by his Father—which Isaiah saw as a part of the vision described in the 6th chapter of his prophecy.
In allusion to John xx. 28, where Thomas says, “ My Lord and my God,” you remark, that “Unitarians prefer to let Thomas, in his alleged astonishment, or fright, fall into blasphemy, rather than receive his attestation.” I do not know that I have met with a single Unitarian writer who regards these words merely as an unmeaning exclamation of surprise. Norton says, “Both
Avtov, his, refers to God.”—J. G. ROSENMULLER. “The pronoun his should be referred to Lord (namely God) in verse 38.”—KUINOEL. (So BLOOMFIELD.) “ Two manuscripts and a few versions have the glory of God, or of his God.”—DR. ADAM CLARKE, Concessions of Trinitarians, pp. 184, 361.
titles, (that is, Lord and God,) I believe, were applied by Thomas to Jesus. But the name 'God' was employed by him, not as the proper name of the Deity, but as an appellative, according to a. common use of it in his day; or perhaps in a figurative sense, as it sometimes occurs in modern writers." He then refers to several passages from Young, of which the following is one :
“The death-bed of the just
Behold him there just rising to a God.” But all Trinitarians* do not consider this passage as proving the supreme divinity of Christ. KUINOEL says: “From this address of Thomas, many commentators are of opinion, that the doctrine of Christ's divine nature may be established, and conceive that the sentence, when filled up, would be thus: “I am not faithless; I doubt' no longer; thou art my Lord and my God.' But, on the contrary, others justly observe, that Thomas used the term God in the sense in which it is applied to kings and judges, who were considered as representatives of Deity, and
pre-eminently to the Messiah. See Ps. lxxxii. 6, 7; xlv. 6, 7; cx. 1. John X. 35."
ROSENMULLER thus explains the passage: “I acknowledge thee as my Lord, and as the Messiah, my King.
MICHAELIS says: “I do not understand this as an address to Jesus; but thus, Yes; it is he indeed! He, my Lord and my God!' Yet, in giving this interpretation, I do not affirm that Thomas passed all at once from the extreme of doubt to the highest degree of faith, and acknowledge Christ to be the true God. This appears to me too much for the then existing knowledge of the disciples; and we have no intimation that they recognised the divine nature of Christ, before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I am therefore inclined to understand this expression, which broke out from Thomas in the height of his astonishment, in a figurative sense, denoting only 'whom I shall ever reverence in the highest degree.' If he only recollected what he had heard from the mouth of Jesus ten days before, (chapter xiv. 9, 10,) that recollection might have given occasion to an expression which probably Thomas himself could not have perfectly explained; as is often the case with such words as escape us when we are under the most overpowering surprise. But yet the expression might be equivalent to saying, "He! my Lord! with whom God is most intimately, united, and is in him! In whom I behold God, as it were, present before me.' Or, a person raised from the dead might be regarded as a divinity ; for the word God is not always used in the strict doctrinal sense.” All the above quotations are from Concessions of Trinitarians, pp. 383, 384.
*I have been informed by a gentleman whose critical attainments cannot be doubted, and who is likewise a Unitarian, that Kuinoel and Rosenmuller were neither of them Trinitarians. They were, he says, undoubtedly Arians. Their testimony, therefore, must be received by Trinitarians for just what, in their estimation, it is worth. Michaelis, however, is I believe, good Trinitarion authority,
Again, you allude in a more especial manner than before, to Phil. ii. 6, 7 and after requesting me to notice the expression, “took upon him,” you ask, “is not the him a pre-existent, to whom another was added by way of assumption?" I reply, that that depends upon the sense you give to the succeeding words, “ forin of a servant,"—whether you mean to apply it to his condition, or to his essential nature. In regard to this point you say, “ if the expression ‘form of a servant means, as it unquestionably does, a real servant, must not the former expression, 'form of God,' imply a real God?" And you ask, “what magic can undeify Christ here, which will not, at the same time, and precisely in the same way, unhumanize him also ?”
I have no idea that either of those expressions have any reference to a divine or a human nature, but merely, the one, to a condition of majesty and authority, and the other, to a condition of meanness and servility. That this is also the opinion of many Trinitarians, I can easily prove to you. PISCATOR says:
“ By the form of God I do not think that the Apostle means the divine nature itself. . . . As, in the following verse, the phrase form of a servant signifies, not human nature itself, but a servile state or condition; so, by parity of reasoning, the expression form of God denotes, not the divine nature, but a divine state or condition."
“Jesus Christ,” says LE CLERC, “as man, appeared, in certain respects, more like God than man, inasmuch as he commanded all nature with absolute authority, and performed unparalleled miracles. This the Apostle terms the form, that is, the resemblance of God; a sense in which the same word is used in verse 7, and in Mark xvi. 12.”
Nothing,” says BEAUSOBRE “agrees better with this passage, than what the Evangelist says : Knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands' (this is the form of God,) 'he laid aside his garments, poured water into a basin, took a towel, and girded himself, and began to wash his disciples' feet (this is the form of a slave.) John xiii. 3—5."
WHITBY, while he was a Trinitarian, thus commented on this passage: “By this expression most interpreters do understand, that the Apostle doth intend Christ was essentially and truly God; but though this be a certain truth, yet I conceive this cannot be the import of the expression in this place.” And, according to Wilson, PARKHURST and MACKNIGHT “both deny taht the form of God indicates essence or nature, and, with Whitby, interpret the phrase as referring to the visible glorious light by which Christ manifested himself to the patriarchs.”Concessions of Trinitarians, pp. 477, 478.
Again, you refer me to 2 Pet. iii. 18. “To him be glory both now and for ever;" and you ask, “ Can glory be given to any but God? or, if it can, can it, as to duration, be given for ever to any hut him?" I answer, that I find, in several places in the New Testament, that glory was expressly given to Christ by his Father. Christ asserts that he is glorified in his followers;