Imagens das páginas

to make the different parts of the drama correspond to each other, that one of the three cities represented should be used in a symbolic, and the other two in a proper, or literal sense. If, therefore, the New Jerusalem be allowed to be a symbol, the other two cities must be understood in the same manner.

What the symbolical meaning of the cities is, supposing it de. termined that they are symbols, our author supposed to be indicated with equal plainness. Immediately after the destruction of Rome the millenial kingdom of Christ begins. Now as it is plain that our Saviour never claimed, nor his apostles es. pected a temporal or civil kingdom, but only a moral or spiritual one-the empire of his religion over the minds and hearts of men, what could have been intended, asks our author, by the destruction of Rome, but the downfal or removal of that which opposed and hindered the moral influence of Christianity upon the mind, and its progress in the world, viz. the Gentile superstition or Paganism.

The same argument is used to shew that Judaism is denoted by the city of Jerusalem, as it was that which opposed and hindered the reception of Christian Religion amongst the Jews. This is confirmed by the manner in which christianity is described after the destruction of Jerusalem ch. xii. For, when Judaism only was abolished, the diffusion of Christianity was, indeed, increased; but was still very limited, compared with the wider and more extensive spread of it, in consequence of the downfal of Paganism.

Our author suggests another consideration to shew that the city of Jerusalem was designed to be emblematical of Judaism. Just before the destruction of the city was to be represented, John is ordered to measure the temple and the altar,' but to omit to measure the outer court with its buildings, which were

to be trampled upon by the gentiles.' (ch. xi. 1, 2.) This commanded, says our author, intimates that the temple and altar would be preserved; whilst the outer court would be given to destruction with the rest of the city. Now the temple in the proper sense--the material temple—was not preserved, when Jerusalem was made desolate. It must therefore, be supposed to have a symbolical meaning; and it is very obvious what this is. The teinple, and the outer court are emblematical of the whole Jewish Religion; the former denoting its pure and spiritual part—its doctrines concerning the unity and perfections of God &c. the latter, its numerous rites and ceremonies. Now the doctrines concerning the unity and perfections of God were, it is well known, incorporated into the

[ocr errors]

christian system ; whilst the rites and ceremonies were con. sidered unworthy of preservation. If, then, we are compelled to consider the temple the symbol of the spiritual part of the Jewish Religion, consistency requires that we should understand other parts of the drama in the same symbolical sense.

That Rome was intended to be a symbol of Paganism is evident, in the judgment of our author, from the following consideration. Rome or the Roman empire was exhibited, as we have seen, under the image of a sea monster, having names of blasphemy inscribed on his heads, and was assisted by a false prophet, who deceived the inhabitants of the earth, and persuaded them to worship the beast, by an imposing display of pretended miracles.

Now Rome, or the Roman empire in the proper sense, never made use of pretended miracles for the purposes of imposition upon mankind; but Paganism might very properly be represented as deriving its support from pretended miracles by false prophets, as the true religion was introduced and extended by real miracles performed by true prophets. Since, therefore, an empire supported by false prophets is represented as destroyed, a spiritual or religious empire i. e. Paganism, and not a civil one, must bave been intended.

Our author observes, moreover, that his arguments are strengthened by the facility and propriety of his mode of interpretation when applied to those parts of the Apocalypse, from which no plain and good meaning can be extracted, upon any other views of its character and design.

Eichhorn has also written a good deal with a view to illustrate the literary merit of the Apocalypse, and to shew the author to have been a man of genius, taste, and learning. But it is not my purpose to state what he has said on this point.


It is allowed by all christians, that our Lord asserts a very intimate union and relation between God and himself, in the ex-" pressions, I and my Father are one ;-I am in the Father, and the Father in me ;-and, he that hath seen me, hath seen the Father. * I would attempt to answer the inquiry, what is the nature

* John x. 30. xiv. 10. 9.

of this union? If it be among the secret things of God, then indeed inquiry concerning it is vain. But if the scriptures gire us any light upon the subject, it is our duty to avail ourselves of it.

First, then, let us distinctly understand in what respects our Lord and the Father are not one. To believe aright in Christ is to believe all, and no more than, he teaches of himself, or his apostles teach of him; and it is to believe as well what he teaches of God, as of bimself. It should be observed and understood therefore, first, that our Lord and the Father are not one person.

A person is an intelligent being. To say that our Lord and the Father are one person, is therefore to say that they are one intelligent being; or in other words, that there is no distinction between them. This distinction of persons however is not only maintained throughout the New Testament, but comparatively very few christians have confounded the personality of the Son with that of the Father. They are as distinct persons, as he that sends is distinct from him that is sent ; as a Father is distinct from his Son; or, as our Lord was himself a distinct person from his Apostles. Confound this distinction, and you lose the Son of God. Jesus Christ is then but a name ; and all our associations with the terms Media.or, Intercessor, and Advocate, come to nought.

Secondly, as our Lord and the Father are distinct in person, so are they also in essence, or nature. Two persons may have a similur, but cannot have the same nature. The Father is selfexistent. But our Lord no where intimates his own self-existence. The Father has, in himself, all power, wisdom, holiness and goodness. But our Lord teaches us of his own power, that it was given to him; of his own wisdom, that he spoke the words of God; of his own holiness and goodness, that he was sanctified, or made holy, and sent by the Father to do all that work of mercy for which he came into the world. If, in him dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily, it was because it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell. Thus are our Lord and the Father distinct in nature; and all the offices in which our religion teaches us to contemplate him in heaven, represent him to us as not less subordinate to the Father, than his own constant expressions concerning himself while he was upon the earth. We recur to the expressions, I and my

Father are one. And to understand them, it is necessary to observe that, in the language spoken by our Lord, and in which the gospels were written, the word one is expressed by three different words, one of which is in the masculine gender, another in the feminine, and the third in the neuter; and that one or other of these words is used, as the object to which it is to be applied may require. I need only to add, that the word one, here used by our Lord, is in the neuter gender; that it means one thing; and that it should so have been translated. When one came running to our Lord, and kneeled to him, and asked him, 'Good master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? Jesus answered him, why callest thou me good! There is none good but one,—that is, God.' Here the word one is in the masculine gender, and refers immediately to God, as the supreme and original good. And it is in the original an entirely distinct word from that, which was used in the expressions, I and my Father are one. Had our Lord intended to assert that he and the Father were one person, nothing could have been easier than to have done it. Nothing more would have been necessary, than to have used the word one in the masculine gender. From the influence of habit and of association, a reluctance may be felt in admitting the expresșion, I and my Father are one thing. But this in truth was our Lord's actual expression ; and that we may obtain his meaning, it is indispensable that we attend to his words.

How then was our Lord one thing with the Father? Let us attend to the connexion in which these words were spoken.

We are told that the Jews came round about Jesus, and said unto him, "bow long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.' He answered them, referring to a former occasion, 'I told you, and ye believed not.

believed not. The works that I do,'—the miracles that I perform in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. But

ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.' In other words, "ye believe not, because ye have not the simplicity, the integrity, and the teacheableness, which alone can qualify you to weigh evidence, and to obtain truth. And having thus exposed to them the causes of their disbelief, and of their resistance of his authority, he expressed to them unequivocally the great object of his office as Messiah, and the certainty of its accomplishment. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me ; and I give unto them eternal life ; and they will never perish; neither will any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one thing.' And in thus saying that he and his father were one thing, did he assert any thing more, than that the Father was one with him in the promise of eternal life to his disciples; and in the security they possessed of the fulfilment of this promise? The Jews indeed accused him of blasphemy, and of making himself God. But they neither did, nor could misunderstand, however they might pervert his meaning. It is only necessary to examine these words in their connexion, to be convinced that they will bear no other interpretation.

We learn in the 5th chapter of John, that when Jesus had healed a man who, 'had an infirmity thirty and eight years, the Jews sought to slay him, because he had done this on the sabbath day.' In vindication of himself he said only, 'my Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore,' we are told, the Jews sought the more to kill him. They accuse him of the double crime of breaking the sabbath, and of making himself equal with God. But did our Lord, by thus calling God his Father, assume equality with God? Could he, in language more simple, or apparently more inoffensive, have directed the attention of these Jews to the authority by which he acted ? My Father, on every sabbath, is doing acts of mercy; and may not l, on this day, do them likewise? This is the whole import of his expressions. To men of ingenuousness, and of simplicity of heart, these words could have implied only, that he acted by the immediate authority of God. Jesus however condescends to correct their miscon. struction of his words. He immediately replied to them, ' verily, verily, I say unto you, the son can do nothing of himself ; but what he seeth the Father do. For what things soever he doeth, these doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth ; and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.'

Our Lord then was one thing with the Father, in the authority which he assumed. He spake in the name of God; and he professed also to speak the words, and to do the works of God. And he proved that he had this authority, by miracles that no man could have done, except God had been with him. He was one also with the Father in design. This he shewed particularly in his precepts, and in his doctrine. It was God's design, that men should more perfectly know his will; that sinners should be brought to repentance; that forgiveness and eternal life should be offered to men. Jesus was, emphatically, the messenger and agent of this great design. By what he taught and suffered, he became the author of eternal salvation to all that obey him. Thus demonstrating his authority to act in the accomplishment of a purpose so worthy of God, is he not most fully justified in the expression Tand my Father are one thing?

That this is the actual, and the whole import of these words, will be still more obvious, if you will bestow a moment's attention upon those that immediately follow it. The Jews took up stones

« AnteriorContinuar »