Page images
PDF
EPUB

the Holy Ghost; from which we infer that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the one God to whom we are to be devoted, and on whom all our Christian hopes are to be fixed.

CHAPTER V.

Of the Pre-existence and Divinity of Jesus Christ. That Jesus Christ was truly and properly a man, and that the doctrine of his proper humanity may be traced through all the New Testament, is undeniable. The So. cinians invariably take advantage of this truth, and argue from it that he is a mere man. This in a controversy with Trinitarians is flatly begging the question, which is not, Is Jesus Christ a man? but, Is he a man only ? That he is a man, we grant; but we contend that he is also more than man: that he is the one eternal God.

To separate the question of his proper divinity from the doctrine of his humanity, let it first be understood that, according to the uniform testimony of Scripture, he had an existence previous to his incarnation. Such a pre-existent state Mr. G. positively denies, and daringly asserts that “we nowhere meet with any express decla. ration of it." (Lect. vol. I, p. 455.) With what degree of truth this assertion is made, the following citations will show:

1. “ He was made flesh,” John i, 14. 66 As the chili dren are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same." “For verily he took not on (him) the nature of angels; but he took on (him) the seed of Abraham,” Heb. ii, 14, 16. These expressions involve the idea that there was a pre-existent something which was made flesh, and which took part of human nature.

2. Jesus Christ says, that “he came down from hea. ven,” that “ he came from above,” John iii, 13, 31 ; “ that he was come from God, and went to God," John xiii, 3; that he “came forth from the Father, and came into the world, and would leave the world and go to the Father," John xvi, 28. He is therefore said to be not“ of the earth, earthy,” but “the Lord from heaven," 1 Cor. xv, 47.

Mr. G., with all his efforts, has not been able to invali. date this evidence. (Vol. i, p. 342.)

John the Baptist was a man "sent from God” to men, (as he observes,) but he was not sent from heaven to earth. What Jesus Christ asserts of himself he denies of all others : “No man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from hea. ven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” And John conceded to Jesus his exclusive claim : “ He that cometh from above (said he) is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth,” John iii, 13, 31. The baptism of John is said to be from heaven, because he baptized by divine authority; but it is nowhere said that John came down from heaven. Again : the coming of Jesus Christ from heaven is compared with his return thither. To this Mr. G. objects, “ If our Sa. viour, by descending from heaven, literally meant a personal descent, by ascending into heaven he meant a personal ascent; and, by being in heaven, he meant a personal presence there, at the same time that he was talking with Nicodemus upon earth.” (Vol, i, p. 343.) This argument, by which Mr. G., if he mean to prove any thing, endeavours to prove that our Lord contradicted himself, is the very argument by which one would prove the doctrine in question. The pre-existent and divine nature of Jesus Christ solves the difficulty which he has imagined, and unties the knot which he finds it more con. venient to cut.

3. When Jesus Christ came into the world, he came "voluntarily.” 6 When he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me. Lo, I come to do thy will, O God,” Heb. x, 5-7. This proves that he existed before he came into the world, and before he took on him the body prepared for him, and that he took on him that body with his own previous consent.

4. Jesus Christ prayed, “ And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was,” John xvii, 5. Here Mr. G. has two strings to his bow. (1.) He cites, by way of contrast, the following passages : The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." 66 Who hath saved usaccording to his own purpose and grace which was given

us.

us in Christ Jesus, before the world began.” “He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” (Vol. i, p. 345.) Now every one of these passages proves, indirectly, the pre-existence of Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ was, in the purpose of God, “slain from the foundation of the world,” and yet came voluntarily into the wo to “ do the will of God” by “ offering his body once for all,” Heb. x, 10, and therefore was not slain without his own consent, he consented from the foundation of the world to be slain. If, before the world began, when we had no personal existence, we were chosen in Christ Jesus, and had grace given us in him, -he then existed in whom, as our representative and head, we were chosen, and in whom grace was given to

But we will try again : (2.) “ Whatever be the glory of which Jesus speaks as applicable to himself, in the very same chapter he ascribes to his disciples." (Vol. i, p. 346.) Thus Jesus Christ is robbed of the peculiarity of his future, as well as of his past glory. But, first : It is not true that the apostles have now a glory equal to that of Him who has “ a name that is above every name.”. Secondly : If they have it

had they, like him, this glory with the Father 6 before the world was?" How then did Jesus Christ give it to them before the world was, unless he then possessed it? See John xvii, 24.

5. Jesus Christ sạid, “Before Abraham was, I am,” John viii, 58. The force of this passage Mr. G. has completely evaded by attempting to show that, on similar occasions, our translators have affixed the pronoun he, and to persuade us that there is the same reason for it here. But in the present case the question which Jesus answered was precisely the question of his pre-existence. The Jews said unto him, “ Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.' To render it, I am he, would only encumber the answer, while the difficulty is the same, and can only be solved by the supposition of his pre-existence. How could Jesus have seen Abraham, if he were not contemporary with Abraham? Why does he speak in the present tense of himself, and in the past of Abraham? And once more : if, when Jesus said, I am, he spoke of his predetermined

now,

existence, how could a mere predetermination of his ex. istence render him capable of seeing Abraham ?

6. We cannot do justice to this subject without sub. joining the testimony of the Evangelist John. “In the be. ginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God,” John i, 12. Mr. G. has conceded that if we“under. stand by the term beginning"-"the beginning of the creation,” this “ accords with his interpretation of the Logos (the Word.") (Vol. i, pp. 195, 196.) Thus all is granted for which we contend: with this proviso, how. ever, that we do not say, In the beginning the word began, but “In the beginning was the Word.” To prevent all mischief to the Proteus, Socinianism, Mr. G. has taken care to give a second interpretation to the term “ begin. ning." He holds that he “may be allowed to understand by it the beginning of the new creation.” But St. John does not allow it. He says that “ he was in the begin. ning with God;"—that “he was the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world :"that “ he was made flesh," and therefore existed before he was made flesh; and that he was before him” (John,) John i, 2, 9, 14, 15, 30, though born after him. Now all this is per. fectly inconsistent with the application of this expression to the new creation.

The distinet question now to be answered is, Who, and what is he, who, independent of all humanity, existed before his incarnation ?

The Scriptures expressly state that, in his pre-existent nature, he was "the Word of God;" “ the brightness of the glory of God, and the express image of his person. Under these high names and titles, which it is not necessary here to explain, he is represented as the Creator of the world. There is, it is acknowledged, a new creation, the regeneration of mankind; of which, under the Chris. tian dispensation, he is the author. Mr. G. thinks that if we “keep this in view in those passages which refer creation to our Saviour, we shall find that a spiritual cre. ation is invariably meant." (Vol. i, p. 341.) We will make the experiment.

1. St. John says, “ The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” John i, 14.

Of this Word he says, “ All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Again : “ He was in the world, and the world (eyevero) was made by him, even the world which knew him not,” John i, 3, 10. To surmount this difficulty, Mr. G. appeals to the “ new version,” in which the Socinians, to exemplify the versatility of their talents, and their expertness in the art of interpolation, render this same word, in the former passage, “done,” and in the latter," was," adding the word enlightened. We need not a better example of the manner in which they set aside the plainest declarations of Scripture, by foisting in any word which will answer their purpose ! A translation may be made which will admit such a Soci. nian interpolation ; but the original Greek, untranslated, absolutely forbids it. The verb to be, when it means to exist, may be a translation of ylvouai. But

γινομαι, , like the English verb to exist, is not the auxiliary verb by which the passive verb is formed. According to the proper mean. ing of St. John's words, “ All things were (existed) by him," and “ the world was (existed) by him.”

2. The apostle to the Hebrews speaks of him as “ being the brightness of the glory (of God,) and the express image of his person,”. Heb. i, 3 ; and attributes to him the crea, tion. “By whom also he made the world,” Heb. i, 2.Will Mr. G. say that the Christian world is meant? Let him read the following verses. 66 But unto the Son he saith, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou remainest ; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed,” Heb. i, 2, 3, 8-12. Here are two plain proofs that the literal creation is meant. (1.) The apostle declares that the worlds which he created are “the earths' and the heavens." (2.) He declares that the worlds which he made shal} “wax old," “ be changed,” and “perishe” All this is perfectly true of the material worlds ; but the new creation abideth for ever,

3. Let us hear the apostle to the Colossians : 6 His dear Son—who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature ; for by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible

« PreviousContinue »