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Rev. Sir,—The sacred writers with whom you have already been confronted, rise with one accord against your error. Two more apostles, St. John and St. Paul, remain to be consulted; and as they have written about half of the New Testament, we may in their writings, if any where, find your favourite doctrine. But before we call them in as evi- •dences, let us make a view of the question to be decided by their testimony.
This question is not whether our Lord was a man, "a man approved of God," a man mediating between God and us, nor yet, whether he was not inferior to the Father when he had taken upon him the form of a servant, and when he sustained the part of a commissioned Mediator: for this we maintain as well as you. But the question is, whether, as Logos, as the Word, he had not a Divine "glory with his Father before the world was," John xvii, 5. You boldly reply, "No!" you suppose that Arians do him too much honour, when they believe that he had a super-angelic nature; you think that we Trinitarians are idolaters, for considering him as possessed of a Divine nature; and you assert, that he was a mere man, and that the sacred writers give him no higher tide than that of a man approved of God.
Now, sir, where does St. John side herein with Socinus and you? Is it in his Gospel, which he begins by calling our Lord " the Word who in the beginning was with God, [the Father, Jude, verse 1,] and was God?" Is it where he saith, that this Logos is the Word, "by which all things were made, without which nothing was made, and in which was the life and the light of men;" that this "Logos was made flesh," and that he (St. John with his fellow apostles) "beheld the glory" of this Logos, "a glory as of the only begotten of the Father ?" John i, 1, 14.
I do not wonder if a philosopher who maintains that he has no immortal principle within him, can find, in these words of St. John, a demonstration that the Word, the Logos made flesh, was a mere man; but we poor trinitarian idolaters, who have yet immortal souls, think that this apostle could not assert more clearly the eternal generation and divinity of the Logos. (1.) His eternal generation, by saying, that "in the beginning [when the creation began] he was with God the Father," John i, 1,14, as his only Son, begotten in a manner, of which the formation of Adam's soul, and the regeneration of the godly, who, by analogy, are called sons of God, give us but a faint idea: and (2.) his divinity, by declaring, that this only begotten Son of God the Father, was not only "with God in the beginning," as Maker of all things; but that "he was God;" a title which is as far above that of a mere man, as Christianity is above Materialism.
If St. John overthrows your error in the very first verse of his Gospel, does he set it up afterward? Where? Is it where he saith: "No man hath seen God [the Father] at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him?" John i, 18. Is it where he brings in our Lord as saying, "I and my Father are one: he that hath seen me, hath seen the Father?" John x, 30, and xiv, 0.
We grant you, with St. John, that the Father is greater than the Son, when the Sou is considered, not only as a man, but also as a Divine Mediator; allowing you farther, that when our Lord came "to fulfil all righteousness," to set us a pattern of all Divine and human virtues, and to enforce God's commandments, the fifth of which requires human sons to obey their human fathers; it became him as a Divine Son to honour God the Father, and to say publicly, "My Father is greater than I," both with respect to his paternity, and with reference to the order of the "Three who bear record in heaven." Nay, we maintain that our Lord coming, as a Divine Son, to set us a pattern of voluntary subordination, liberal obedience, and filial gratitude, it highly became him to display the temper of a Son, by referring all to his Father.
This he did with a dignity suitable to the Son of God, when he said: "As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself," John v, 26. "The living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father. I can [morally speaking] of mine own self do nothing: what things soever the Father doth, these also doth the Son likewise. I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father who sent me, &.c. Father, if thou be willing, " remove this cup from me ; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done. Sacrifices [offered according to the law] thou wouldest not; but a body hast thou prepared me. Then I said, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. Father, I have finished the work thou gavest me to do: into thy hands I commend my spirit: [the human soul which I assumed, together with the body thou didst prepare for me:] I have glorified thee on the earth, and now glorify thou me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."
In all these dutiful expressions, nothing indicates that our Lord was a mere man: on the contrary, taken all together, they are strongly expressive of the humble submission, of the perfect obedience, and of the cheerful dependence which become a Son, and which principally became "the Son of God, manifest in the flesh." In a word, instead of finding Socinianism in these speeches of our Lord; in them, as in a glass, I see the Divine character of him, whom the Scriptures call K5iov Viov, the proper Son of God the Father: I admire the adorable temper of a Son, who is the perfect pattern of all sons, as being tpvaei §;og, Son of God by nature. Compare Rom. viii, 32, with Jude 1, and Gal. iv, 8.
Having thus presented you, sir, with a key to open these passages in St. John, which the enemies of our Lord's Divine glory continually dwell upon, I return to that apostle, and I ask again, Where does he say that our Lord is a mere man? If you reply that it is where he brings in our Lord as saying, "Father, glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee. Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him," that is, every penitent believer. "And this is eternal life, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent," John xvii, 1. (3.) Triumphing in this passage, you say, If the Father be the only true God, either Jesus Christ is no God at all, or he is only a false god: but conclusive as you think this argument, if you consider it every way, you will find that it can be so retorted as to overthrow your whole system.
"The only true God," you say, is "the Father," mentioned in the very first verse of the chapter. We thank you for this concession: we have then in the true Godhead, a Father, God the Father. Now, sir, we Trinitarians, who have not yet sacrificed our rational and immortal souls to Materialism, reason thus: If the only true God be a truly Divine and everlasting Father, he has a truly Divine and everlasting Son; for how can he be truly God the Father, who hath not truly a Divine Son? This inference is so obvious, that St. John, whom you try to force into the service of Socinus, saith: "He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father; he that denieth the Son, denieth the Father also;" because the opposite and relative terms and natures of Father and Son, necessarily suppose each other. You must therefore give up the true paternity of God the Father, or the false arguments of Socinus.
"What! do you then believe in two or three gods? Do you break the first command of all revealed religion, which is to believe in the unity of God?" No, sir: we only believe that in the unity of the Godhead there is, without any division, a mysterious and adorable trinity, which our Lord calls "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." We believe with St. John, (1.) That "there are three who bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost;" and (2.) That " these three are one," 1 John v, 7. We believe that when the Father spake from the cloud on the holy mount, and from heaven on the banks of Jordan, he said, "This is my beloved Son; hear him." We obey this first command of the Gospel: we listen when our Lord speaks; and we hear him say, "I and the Father are one,"—one in our counsels and works, but es[>ecially one in our Divine nature. Hence the propriety and ground of this capital precept: "You believe in God, [the Father,] believe also in me," who am his only begotten Son. Now, sir, we beg that you will not so far honour Socinus as to pour contempt upon the declaration of the Father, the command of the Son, and the veracity of both: and this you nevertheless do when you contend for a unity which degrades the Son of God to a mere man, and makes it an act of idolatry to believe in him as we believe in the Father.
You and your friend Mr. Lindsey are Jewish Unitarians, I mean Unitarians ready to stone the Son of God for supposed blasphemy; and Unitarians "who crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame:" but we, whom you pity as deluded idolaters, are Christian Unitarians. With the apostle, we believe that in the Deity there is an eternal paternity, an eternal sonship, and an eternal procession, which answer to the profound mystery of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, held out in the form of baptism as the one great object of our faith; and we reverence this Divine paternity, sonship, and procession, as you admire the polarity and attraction of the loadstone, together with the impregnating effluvia which continually proceed from it, without your knowing those mysteries of the natural world, otherwise than by the testimony of other philosophers, and the experience you have had, again and again, that they spoke the truth, when they testified that those mysteries are realities worthy to be believed by every lover of truth.
Your objection being answered, I return to St . John, and I ask again, Where does he say that our Lord was a mere "man approved of God V Is it where he declares, that " he who honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father," and that the Father "hath committed all judgment to the Son, that all men should honour the Son as they honour the Father?" John v, 23. What a finishing stroke do the apostle and our Lord here give to Socinianism! How do all men honour the Father? Is it not by trusting in him, by praying to him, and by worshipping him as Jehovah, "God over all, blessed for ever?" And is he a mere man, whom St . John, the Son, and Father, want us thus to honour? Does not this one verse contain a demonstrative proof that St. John spake too highly of our Lord, or that Socinus and you trample upon the divinity of the Son, which is one and the same with the divinity of the Father, since "all men must honour the Son as they honour the Father?"
From St. John's Gospel, go to his epistles, and you will find him still ready to assert our Lord's divinity. Beginning his first epistle, as he did his Gospel, with a heart penetrated with a deep sense of his Master's Divine greatness, he calls him "the eternal life, which was with the Father," 1 John i, 2. That we may honour the Son as we honour the Father, he points out both unto us as the joint object of our faith: for, representing "fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ," as the soul and the end of Christianity, he exhorts us equally to "continue in the Son, and in the Father," 1 John i, 3, and ii, 24; because it is eternal life, in its progressive manifestations, to know God the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ.
It is remarkable, sir, that in consequence of the oneness of the Father and of the Son, St. John uses (after our Lord) a variety of expressions entirely subversive of your error. "The Father dwelleth in me," saith Christ; "I am in the Father, and the Father in me: if any man love me, I and my Father will come to him!" John xiv, 10, 11, 23. Nay, this apostle, who concludes this epistle by a charge to "keep ourselves from idolatry," uses the appellations of Father, God, the Son of God, and Jesus Christ, as partly synonymous. Take some examples: "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the [adopted] sons of God. Now are we the [adopted] sons of God, but we know, that when he [God manifest in the flesh] shall appear, we shall be like him" in his glorified humanity, 1 John iii, 1, 2. Again: "Hereby know we the love of God, [manifest in the flesh,] because he [God our Saviour] laid down his life for us," 1 John iii, 16. Yet again: "We have known and believed the love that God hath to us; God is love. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, [or as it is expressed 1 John ii, 28,] that when he [God the Son] shall appear, we may not be ashamed before him at his coming, because as he is [in his form of a servant, a loving, humble man] so are we in this world," 1 John iv, 16, &c. From a careful comparison of these passages, it is evident that St. John considered the Father and the Son, in his form of God, as so intimately one, that he joins them together as the great object of our faith, and uses the high title of God for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man who laid down his human life for us, and before whom we shall appear in the great day.
Take another proof that St. John honours the Son as he honours the Father. Summing up his first epistle, he saith: "The Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know him that is true, [the Father, eternally one with his only begotten Son.] And we are in him that is true, even in [or by] his Son Jesus Christ: this is the true God and eternal life." For the eternal Godhead resides in the Son, as truly as it does in the Father, and flows to us more immediately from the Son; who is peculiarly God our Saviour, and the fountain of our eternal life, 1 John v, 20. Thus St. John concludes this epistle, as he began his Gospel, not by asserting with you that Jesus Christ is a mere man, or by refusing to give him any higher title than that of a "man approved of God," but by calling him "God, the true God, the living God," yea, " everlasting life" itself. And the drift of this excellent epistle is so evidently to hold forth the Son's and the Father's common divinity, that the sum of the whole is, "Whosoever denieth the Son, he hath not the Father!" 1 John ii, 23.
The same vein of anti-Socinian doctrine runs through St. John's second Epistle, of which we have the substance in these words: "He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any to you, and bring not this doctrine, [but make you believe that committing sin is consistent with our victorious faith, or that the Father is Jehovah alone, and that the Logos, God the Word, was not manifest in the flesh to take away our sins,] receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed; for he that biddeth him God speed is a partaker of his evil deeds," 2 John 9, 10. "For many deceivers are entered into the world who confess not that Jesus Christ [the Logos, who was in the beginning with God, and was God] is come in the flesh, [some of whom deny his real divinity, and others his real humanity.] This is a deceiver and an antichrist," 2 John v, 7. "For he is antichrist who denieth the Father and the Son:" it being impossible to deny the Son without denying the Father, 1 John ii, 22. Yea, so perfect is the oneness of the Father and of his only begotten Son, that St. John gives the elect lady this anti-Socinian blessing: "Grace, mercy, and peace be with you [equally] from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ," the Son of the Father, 2 John 3. Another proof this that there is, in the Godhead, an eternal paternity inseparably connected with an eternal Sonship.
St. John's last book is full of the same doctrine. The Father (if not the Son) speaks thus: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, who is, who was, and is to come, the Almighty," Rev. i, 8. And the Son, not thinking it a robbery to speak of himself in the same glorious terms, says, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last," Rev. i, 17, and xxii, 13. Thus the last as well as the first chapter of the Revelation, shows that he hath higher titles than that of a " man approved of God."
As the Father and Son are honoured with the same titles, so are they represented as filling the same everlasting throne: and although the Father calls himself a jealous God, yet he is so little displeased with the Divine honours paid to the Son, that, placing him at his right hand, he gives him the seat of honour " in the midst of the throne," that all men and angels may (without scruple) honour the Son, as they honour the Father, Rev. v, 6; Psalm ex, 1, and Acts vii, 55. Therefore every rational "creature in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth," is represented, by St. John, as paying the same worship to the Father and the Son, and as addressing to both a doxology similar to that which