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said: 'the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.' In adopting your interpretation, it will be: 'the truth was made. 4 flesh and dwelt among us,' viz. the, same truth of which he said before, that it was God himself; and then the entire sense will be, God, the truth, was made flesh, and dioelt amongst us. Upon the whole, you are to acknowledge an eternal, pre-existent principle, assuming human nature; or to reject this chapter as suppositious, which no Arian or Socinian ever did.
You accuse the English translators of some design, in transposing these words, * K*' ©*°? & » Aoy®-, 1 And God was
* the Word,' which they have Englished, 'and the Word 'was God,' as if they intended to promote the Christian cause by an artful transposition.
I see no advantage you can derive from so severe and injurious an intimation. Whether we say, 'God was the 'Word,' or 'the Word was God,' the sense is the same: for, in all languages, it is the nature of the copulative verb (is) to identify the predicate and the subject, if it be not followed by some exclusive particle or negative word. Peter was or is that man: transpose the words, and such will be the result of the transposition; that man Idas or is Peter. The sense is the same in both cases: and the same may be said, and is true, whether we say, 'God was the Word,' or 'the
* Word was God.'
This chapter is as clear as the first chapter of St. Paul's epistle to the Colossians, wherein he sets forth and extols the qualities of our divine Redeemer, 'by whom were made all 'things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible; 'whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; 'all things were created by him and in him: and he is before 'all: and all things subsist in him.'*
If all things, that are, were made by him, he himself was not made: and his divine power is signified, when it is said, 'all things subsist,' or are preserved by him.
Further: critics lay down a general rule, whereby to elucidate the sense and meaning of authors, viz. to know the time in which they lived; the circumstances in which they Wrote; and the adversaries with whom they were engaged. The application of the rule evinces the literality of the first
• V«r»«16, 17.
chapter of St. John, which puzzled and perplexed the Arians ■ and Socinians, and exhausted the metaphysics of the subtle Crellius. St. John wrote his gospel at the request of the Asiatic bishops, in opposition to the false doctrine of Ebion and Cerinthus, who denied the divinity of the Son of God. Motives, circumstances, the nature of the question, the doctrine of his adversaries, all concur to prove that he is to be understood in a literal sense: a sense so free from any mysterious obscurity, that the Platonic philosophers, according to St. Austin, discovered, in this chapter, the Divinity of the Son of God. 'But they were too proud,' says this father, 'to acknowledge the lowness of his humanity.'
To invalidate our belief of Christ's conception in a. virgin's womb, you oppose St. Matthew, who says, 'that '* Jacob was father to Joseph, the husband of Mary,' to St. Luke, who says, * that Heli was Joseph's father.' But this seeming contradiction vanishes, if we pay attention to the manner in which the Jews sometimes traced their genealogy. In Deuteronomy,* the law declares, 'that if one brother dies 4 without children, the surviving brother shall marry his re.* lict, in order to raise up issue for the deceased,' which issue was to bear his name. Hence, a twofold genealogy amongst the Jews; the one legal, the other natural. Jacob and rfeli were brothers. Heli died without issue. Jacob married his relict, and begot Joseph, the husband of Mary. Thus, when St. Luke calls Heli 'Joseph's father,' he means, his father, according to the law: and when St. Matthew calls Jacob 'Joseph's father,' he means, his father, according to nature: and by this means, the Evangelists are easily reconciled. Other solutions are given to this difficulty, and you are at your option to give the preference to which you choose. The Jewish records, and their family registers have been burnt with the archives of their temple. We live at too great a distance to settle the genealogies of their families. The Evangelists, besides the gift of inspiration, had every information, as they were nearer the times. In certain countries, there are some traces of this ancient custom of giving the denomination of father or uncle to a person who is not
* Cbap. *x».
either the one or the other, but by a fiction of law. Hence, in the province of Britany, in France, by their municipal law, arelation, in a remoter degree, inherits as an uncle; and has the title of' Onclc a la mode de Bretagne,' an uncle, according to the custom of Britany.
( If, of two historians, in writing the life of one of their nobles, one said, that he was nephew to one, and the other, that he was nephew to another, could we impeach either with ignorance, when both could be reconciled by examining into the customs of the country in which they wrote? And , if the rule stands good with regard to authors of credit and repute/ how much more so, with regard to inspired writers?
Let us now examine your difficulty relative to this famous prophecy of Isaiah,* applied to JesUs Christ by St. Matthew,f
* a virgin shall conceive, and bring forth a Son: and they
* shall call his name Immanuel: that is to say, God is with
You assert, that, 'St. Matthew did not well understand the
* Prophet's meaning:' and, 'that this prophecy concerns one
* Maher-shalal-hashbas, born of a prophetess, and given as a
* sign to Ahaz, king of Judah.' An easy way to elude a text of Scripture! Mistakes and ignorance attributed to inspired writers! , .
We are to state the fact that gave occasion to this propheey, before we attempt to unfold its mysterious sense, and to shew how the coincidence of circumstances makes it applicable to Jesus Christ, and to him alone.
The kings of Israel and Syria laid siege to Jerusalem, with a design to cut off the house of David, and place a stranger on the throne. Ahaz, who could not be ignorant of Jacob's prophecy, who had foretold, 'that the sceptre should not depart from the house of Judah, until Shiloh, or the Messiah, *was come'f apprehended, not only the reduction of the city, but moreover the total excision of the Jewish polity, which was to happen when the sceptre was to depart from the house of David: as it afterwards came to pass, about the time of the birth of Christ, when the Jews were obliged to receive such kings as the Romans chose to appoint.
To dispel the fears of the desponding king, the Prophet gives him two signs, confirming, first, that the sceptre should
* Chap. rii. Terre 14. -f Chap. i. % Generis, chap. x*ix.
not depart from the house of David, until a child is bom of a virgin, in a miraculous manner, who would be God himself, Immanuel: and, as there was not such a miraculous child in his kingdom, he might rest secure that the sceptre should not depart so soon from the royal line. Thus, his alarms, concerning the house of David, are quieted, in hearing the prophecy foretelling a miraculous birth, which was to happen at a distant period. There still remained another doubt, viz. whether the confederate kings would take Jerusalem, besieged by such powerful forces? And this the prophet rjfc moved, by telling him, that his own child* should not be of age to discern good from evil, before the two kings would be cut off.
Between Immanuel and Mahcr-shalal-hashbas there is not the least connexion. The first signifies, in Hebrew, God with us: the second signifies, hasten to take the spoils: make haste to take the prey.'' The one is conceived by a virgin, the other is the fruit of connubial ties: and the Prophet expressly declares it.f Upon this occasion, we do not read, that he married a second wife: neither was polygamy familiar to austere persons of the prophetic profession: and the third verse, of the seventh chapter, absolutely precludes a state of virginity, whereas the Prophet is commanded to go with his son to meet the king: and this son must be older than Maher-shalalhashbas.
The prophecy, then, relates to two different persons, Immanuel and Maher-shalal-hashbas; two different objects, the excision of the royal line of David, and the reduction of Jerusalem; two different events and signs; the raising of the siege, and the defeat of the two confederate kings, which was to be accomplished speedily, before the prophet's child could cry to his father and mother: and the other, I mean the total extinction of the Jewish regal authority, when the sceptre was to be wrested from David's descendants, and lodged in the hands of the Essenian kings, under the protection of the Romans, about the time of Imtnanuel's birth, 'who is God 'above all, and blessed fer ever.'
Should any doubt still remain, concerning this famous prophecy, faith is the firm anchor that ought to fix the doubts of a fluctuating mind: and humility should be so far preva
* Mentioned, cbap. Tiii. ver. 4. In chap. riii. rer. 3.
lent, as to induce us to prefer the opinion of an inspired Avrker before our own. We must renounce the Scriptures, or acknowledge that an Evangelist is a more competent judge of a prophet's meaning than we can pretend to be.
After wading through those difficulties, I shall not swell my page with all the passages quoted in your book, to prove Christ's humanity: I allow them ail. But what are we to do with all the texts that prove his divinity ?' The Alpha and 'Omega.' 'The beginning and end.' 'My Father and I 'are one.' 'The first and the last.' 'A God manifested in 'flesh; a God mortified in flesh,' 'God was the Word.' Supreme worship due to God alone. 'Let all the angels of 'God adore him.' Eternal generation. 1 This day I have 'begotten thee.' The express appellation of a God, and his sovereign dominion. 'Unto the Son he saith, thy throne, 'O God, is for ever and ever,' he. &c. &c.
To elude the texts that assert his divinity, you take refuge in a vain distinction of two characters in which Christ appeared; the one private, the other public: a man, in his private character; an ambassador or messenger of God, in his public ministry, by shewing his credentials, and assuming the tide of God, in quality of an ambassador. I appeal to the judgment of the public, if this be not sporting with words, and perverting the use of language.
In the most solemn negociations between monarchs, do their ambassadors or envoys arrogate to themselves the title of kings? And in the most authentic-ratifications of treaties, do not they sign in their masters' names? Has any of them the presumption to pass for the son of his master? When Christ said to his disciples, 'as my living Father has s^nt me, 'so I send you.' When St. Paul said, 'we are Christ's am'bassadors,' did either he or any of the Apostles say, 'I am 'Christ; Christ and I are one. Whatever Christ does, I do 'in like manner. I am before Abraham. I am before all 4 things?'
When, by way of allusion, the title of God is given to any mortal in the Scriptures, the limitations and restrictions, . under which it is given, evidently preclude an indisputable claim to such an awful title. It is a gift bestowed with a parsimonious hand. 'I have made thee the God of Pharaoh,' says the Almighty to Moses. This word, Pharaoh, limits