« PreviousContinue »
here it will be utterly impossible to present the unnumbered truths which this Witness made known. Three seem to claim special notice.
I. The character of God.
I. The character of God. A correct knowledge of the Creator lies at the foundation of all religion. The Witness began his great work by saying, 'God is a spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. This struck at the root of all idolatry. And he presented the paternal character of the great Creator, and illustrated it by the beauties of creation : the beautiful lily, the majestic sun, and the gliding stream. But we cannot pursue this part of our subject.
II. Human duty. On this point, the Witness presented every truth that man needed. He not only taught a new doctrine, but he summed up and brought into the smallest compass every moral truth that had been revealed from the beginning of the world. Let us hear him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. **** Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.'* This Witness not only revealed truth, but he embodied it in his own life, thus imparting a power to his instructions that reached the heart.
III. Life and immortality. On this point the Witness did not deal in lofty declamation and highwrought descriptions. He did not, like Mahomet,
* Matt. xxii. 37-39.
bring before the mind a world where man would enjoy sensual indulgence. He taught that man should not die any more;' and that he should be equal unto the angels.' And he not only taught another life, but he went himself into the grave, and revealed life and immortality by a resurrection from the dead.
But the crowning excellence of this Witness consisted in giving his life in attestation of the truths which he revealed to the world. And what an example for future ages! How many can tell the truth, but how few will die for it! Even the disciples, before the resurrection of the Witness, shrunk from martyrdom. But when they saw him come forth from the dead, they felt a new impulse in the cause of truth, and, at last, sealed their testimony with their own blood. The faithful and true Witness went on revealing truth after truth, till, at last, he was betrayed and crucified. But he faltered not. His enemies brought the crown of thorns, the broken reed, the cruel nails, the fierce soldiers, and the ignominious cross. Undismayed, he met them all, and died pleading for his murderers. How appropriate the title—the faithful and true Witness. From that hour he has stood before the world as truth's martyr! What better evidence could he have given of his sincerity? What being has ever appeared on earth that has presented so many proofs that 'he came from God and went to God?'
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld
his glory, the glory of the only-begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.'
John i. 14.
This term occurs in a variety of instances, and has several significations. Critics are somewhat divided respecting its application to Christ.
Some suppose Jesus to be intended personally; others, that the Word signifies wisdom, or some other attribute of Deity. Some explain the whole by the eighth chapter of Proverbs. Campbell seems to favor that view. The word there is η σοφια. . Here it is ο λόγος. We take no notice of 1 John v. 7, for the plain reason that there are wanting evidences of the genuineness of the passage.
The author freely confesses that he has never seen any interpretation of this whole subject without its difficulties. He intends not to present a labored criticism, for that would be impossible in the few pages which he allows himself in each number; and there are many works which the student may consult for this purpose.* Besides, this would be foreign from our work.
We think there has been controversy
* For some very excellent remarks on this whole subject, see Christian Reformer, or Unitarian Magazine and Review, an English periodical, vol. iii. pp. 36, 297, 372, 445. See also Universalist Expositor. March, 1840. Letters on the Logos. By CHARLES W. UPHAM,
enough respecting the nature of Jesus. It would have been far better for the world, if Christians had devoted more time in bringing out the moral excellencies of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world. Such has been one great object of the author throughout this work. He has endeavored, in nearly every instance, to give a practical turn to every Name and Title which he found applied to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I. Jesus may be called the Word because he exhibited in his doctrine and example the moral attributes of God. We find in the Old Testament the phrase 'Word of God,' or 'angel of God,' often employed to denote a sensible manifestation of divine power. On turning to the New Testament, we find a similar form of speech adopted, especially in speaking of the moral attributes of Deity as exhibited in Jesus Christ. Hence, Jesus is the Word of God. ' Properly speaking,' says Abauzit, Wisdom (or rather the Logos) did not become flesh; the Deity was not metamorphosed into man. This revolts all the principles of good sense.' St. Paul has brought out, we believe, the meaning of this mysterious passage in the expressive phrase, 'God was manifest in the flesh.'* The Logos, or Word, was most fully manifested in the person, in the doctrine, in the discourses, and in the whole conduct of Jesus Christ. Hence he is called 'the image of the invisible God.'' In him the perfections of the Divinity shone forth in all their glory and splendor.IS
* 1 Tim. üi. 16.
+ Col. i. 15. # See title IMAGE. § The following incident will show that this form of speech is even now practised among some of the Greeks. 'I passed some days,' says
II. Jesus may be called the Word because he was the instrument of communicating knowledge from God to man. An illustration may be drawn from language, which, whether written or spoken, is the immediate instrument of communication between man and man. Those who were so highly favored as to enjoy a personal intercourse with Jesus, viewed him in this light. Hence the beauty and force of the language of the beloved Apostle, who seems to have peculiarly enjoyed the presence of the Word: ** * * that which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life.'* Well might John thus speak, for he loved the Master; he was always by his side; he reclined upon his bosom
a correspondent in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1813, in the house of a respectable Greek who held the office of English consul in the island of Tino, the ancient Tenos. When I was at table, the family generally conversed in Italian or French, but when they spoke to each other in their vernacular idiom, I observed that they never used the simple pronouns, thou, you, or he, ou, ünals, or EXOLVOS, or autos—but ο λογος σου, ο λογος σας, ο λογος αυτου, or ο λογος του,-literally, «Thy word, his word,” &c. As for example, when the father asked the daughter for whom the cloth was intended that she had brought from the English ship, she answered, elvas doce Tov nogay oras,—-literally, it is for thy word, that is, for thee. If the son asked the daughter who had brought them the fish that was on the table, she answered, (looking at her father,) ó nggos tou, literally, his word, that is, he. On inquiring of them the reason of using this phrase, they told me the practice is general through the Levant, it not being thought decorous to employ the simple personal pronoun when speaking to or of a superior, or even an equal.'
There is something singular in this use of the term Word: we know not as it has a very direct bearing on the present number of our work; but we have thought proper to present it to the reader for him to make such a use of as he sees fit.
* 1 John i. 1.