« PreviousContinue »
PART I. SECTION I.
STRUCTURE OF THE SIXTH CHAPTER OF ST JOHN.
THE question now to be considered is thisSupposing that portion of this sixth chapter, which is included between the 26th and the 58th verses, to be divided into two parts, where does the sense, or turn of expression of the passage, require the line of division to be drawn? or, to state the question more precisely, Is the line to be drawn immediately after, or immediately before, the 47th verse? or, in still different words, Is the 47th verse to be connected with that which precedes, or that which follows?-In what manner the determination of this point is brought to bear upon the main subject of enquiry will probably not be very apparent; and, in fact, had better, as yet, remain in obscurity. The most effectual method, of guarding against an unfair judgment, will be, to examine the passage without reference to Theological opinions. For the sake of clearness, however, it seems requisite to observe that, while Dr Wiseman "has no hesitation whatever" in attaching the 47th verse to the preceding part of the discourse, the author of these pages is thoroughly satisfied that the verse belongs to the succeeding part. The more effectually,
moreover, to engage the reader's attention during the following investigation, which might otherwise appear unwarrantably long, I may be allowed to state, that a decision, in favour of the former of those opinions, will in Dr Wiseman's estimation "materially advance the strength of the arguments" upon which he depends; that a decision, in favour of the latter, will deprive some of his favourite arguments of their only support; and that by studying the subject, much light will be thrown upon the kind of reasoning which may be employed by a controversial writer, in support of an hypothesis. If, after all, the reader, solely from a perusal of the discourse, should be convinced that Dr Wiseman is wrong, there can be no great harm in passing on, without delay, to the second section; although I do trust that he will have the courage and patience to read the first section, with the greatest possible
I now proceed to extract and examine, one by one, the reasons by which the learned lecturer has endeavoured to justify his determination. The first reason is thus expressed:
“Verse 47 seems to me to form an appropriate close to a division of discourse, by the emphatic asseveration amen prefixed to a manifest summary and epilogue of all the preceding doctrine. ́Amen, amen, I say unto you, he that believeth in me hath everlasting life.' Compare vv. 35, 37, 45. Verse 48 lays down a clear proposition, I am the bread of life,' suggested by the preceding words, and just suited for the opening of a new discourse." (p. 41.)
Dr Wiseman, constantly quoting in his Lectures the Douay or Rhemish Version, retains the word amen, instead of the ordinary rendering verily. The reader will bear this in mind; recollecting at the same time that, at the beginning of a sentence, verily conveys, with all possible exactness, the meaning of the original word. On referring to passages presenting the word in such a position, we find that what St Matthew (xvi. 28) expresses by amen, St Luke (ix. 27) expresses by verily (ảλŋows); and that in Luke iv. 24, 25, amen and of a truth (éπ áìnocías) are employed as equivalent terms. The word, whether single or repeated, is, when used at the beginning of a sentence, peculiar to our Lord; and, in that position, can scarcely ever be affirmed to be to a certainty designed simply to ratify what has preceded. It appears to have been employed in the opening and continuation of his addresses, for the purpose of exciting attention; and with the farther object of giving the greatest solemnity and effect to the sentiments immediately succeeding. These things are stated at the very outset of my remarks, in opposition to Dr Wiseman's notion, that "the emphatic asseveration amen" is "prefixed to a manifest summary and epilogue of the preceding doctrine," which thus forms "an appropriate close to a division of discourse. They are, however, to be taken as not unimportant, but still as little more than an expression of opinion respecting matters which will be
sufficiently developed in the ensuing pages. With regard, indeed, to the natural bearing of the 47th verse, nothing more, than the sight of it, along with the adjacent verses, can be required, to decide that point..."46. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. 47. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. 48. I am that bread of life."... The obscurity of the relation between the 46th and 47th verses, compared with the distinctness of the connexion between the 47th and 48th verses is amply sufficient to show that the 47th verse either gives out a new subject, or resumes a subject partly discussed. How is it possible for any one, who has a due feeling for what he reads on such a subject, to disjoin two verses, in the former of which our Lord calls upon men to believe on him that they may have everlasting life-in the latter, describes himself as the bread of life? Dr Wiseman himself, indeed, seems fully aware that the traces of a change of subject immediately after the 47th verse are evanescent; for he finally refers, as we shall soon have occasion to notice, to an acknowledged instance (as he contends) of such a change, where the evidences of transition make at least equal approaches to invisibility. So far, then, every thing is most adverse to the first reason advanced by the learned lecturer in support of his opinion.
Let us now endeavour to ascertain in what manner "the emphatic asseveration," Verily, verily, is really employed by our Lord in his discourses. In his conversation with Nicodemus (John iii. 2— 11), his replies to that "master of Israel are regularly introduced by the address, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee."...On the occasion of healing the infirm man at the pool of Bethesda, our Lord thus began and continued his discourse:
"Then answered Jesus and said unto 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 also doeth the Son likewise.... He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live." John v. 19—25.
The foregoing passage most happily illustrates the mode in which our Lord, as he proceeds in his discourse, still opens new views upon the intellectual perceptions of his hearers. There is no appearance of “ summary and epilogue" with "the emphatic asseveration prefixed." On the contrary, the reader cannot fail to observe that the transitions are regularly effected by means of the awakening address, Verily, verily, I say unto you."... Not less illustrative of our Lord's use of the same phrase, are the following texts, which I strongly