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instead of I was, to intimate that his mission was certain and determined before the birth of Abraham. In the preceding verses, he says, not that he saw Abraham, but that Abraham saw (i. e. foresaw) his day; for it had been declared to the Patriarch, that in his seed should all the nations of the earth be blessed, and "he died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off."-Heb. xi. 13.

These words "I AM," afford a striking instance, out of hundreds, how Trinitarians are led by sound and not by sense. They affirm, but without even a shadow of authority, that when our Saviour uses them in the foregoing passage, he employs the words used by the Almighty himself, Exod. iii. 14. where he asserts his self-existence: "I AM THAT I AM." Our Saviour made no allusion to those words whatsoever, nor are either the Greek or the English words a translation from the Hebrew.* The Hebrew should be rendered thus, "THE BEING WHO IS BEING;" in Greek, but not very correctly, sy ui i wv, I am the existing or he who exists. In John, the words are eye tout I am. They form the termination of a sentence, and do not, like the Hebrew, stand either as an unconnected absolute declaration of self-existence, nor as the agent of any verb. Some word must be understood to complete the sense; and that is Christ, or the pronoun HE, viz: I am, or I was, he, or the Christ. This is sense;-but an absolute assertion of self-existence inclu→ ding all time, would not accord well with the words, "before Abraham;" nor form a very pertinent answer to the question of the Jews; "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham ?" The Apostle Peter leads us to the true meaning of the expression, when he affirms that Christ "was fore-ordained, before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times."-1 Pet. i. 20.-The words syn uu I am, are by no means of such rare occurrence that there should be any argument about them. We find them in the 24th verse of the very same chapter, "Unless ye believe that I am, ye shall die in your sins." That I am what? is naturally enquired, and the translators have given the answer, by the in sertion of the word he, viz: the Messiah. This is clear as demonstration itself. So also, in his conversation with the woman of Samaria, our Saviour uses the same elliptical expression,

* Ehjeh ascher ehjeh--rendered by Geddes, "I will be what I will be," as well, perhaps, "I will be what I am," a form of words expressive of the eternal existence and unalterable nature of Jehovah. The LXX do not repre sent the phrase amiss by I am the Existing, or he who exists; that is, Jehovah, the living God, And afterwards they have not I am, but the Existing hath sent me. To make, therefore, the I am of the Evangelist a reference to the passage of the Pentateuch, is a most idle fancy, unsupported by the original, and what is more to the purpose, by the Septuagint, the text book of the Gospel writers."-WAKEFIELD.

I am: he, is supplied by the translators.-John, iv. 26. When it was doubted whether the man born blind was he who sat and begged; he said I am. What? he is supplied here also, as it ought to have been in the verse under consideration-John, ix. 9. Suppose the words I am to mean Jehovah, the verse would be totally destitute of meaning, as will appear evidently by substituting the one for the other. Before Abraham wasJehovah. Here, there is no comecting link between the former and the latter clause ;-no copula, as logicians term it, between the subject and the predicate. A grammarian would say, that shey formed no sentence, for they express no thought. The word Jehovah stands completely insulated, and has no manner of connection with any thing either preceding or coming after it. The Trinitarian reader in order to make sense of the words I am, must impose on his own understanding, by affixing two meanings to them. He reads them as if they were I am that I am, the former I am signifying I exist; the latter as the name of the self-existent One; and thus he contrives to extort a meaning from them which they will not bear, and which they were never intended to express.

When the eternity of Jehovah is spoken of in the Scriptures, it is not in dark and ambiguous terms. Our knowledge of it is not conveyed by a couple of monosyllables the meaning of which may be disputed. They assert, in language most intelligible and distinct, that Jehovah is the high and lofty ONE that inhabiteth eternity."-Is. lvii. 15. "He is the living God, and an everlasting King."-Jer. x. 10. "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God."-Ps. xc. 2.

On the text, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever," Trinitarians found their doctrine of Christ's IMMUTABILITY, though it is not intended to teach us any thing about either his person or his nature, as is evident from the context. It is found amidst a series of moral instructions, and forms part of an exhortation to be stedfast in the faith. "Remember them, (says the Apostle, Heb. xiii. 7, 8, 9.) that have the rule over you, and have spoken unto you the word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation with what constancy and perseverance they continued in the faith, and sealed it with their blood, in hopes of that crown of glory Christ had promised to them that were faithful to death, even that Jesus Christ, who, both as to his doctrines and his promises, is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines." The lines in Italics are Whitby's, written by him before his last thoughts had shaken his orthodoxy; we hope, therefore, they will escape the common accusation of being a Socinian gloss. But lest they should not, we shall defend our interpretation by the authority of the redoubtable Calvin;

" Apparet non de æterna Christi essentia apostolum disputare, sed de ejus notitia, quæ omnibus seculis viguit inter pios, ac perpetuum ecclesiæ funda mentum fuit-ideo dico ad qualitatem, ut ita loquar, referri hunc sermonem, non ad essentiam.”

Dr. Samuel Clarke also observes, "that this is here spoken, not of the Person, but of the Law of Christ, appears from the words immediately following, with which it is connected." The same learned writer says, that

"God, in respect of his essence, is absolutely unchangeable, because his being is necessary, and his essence self-existent; for whatever necessarily is, cannot but be, so it cannot but continue to be invariably what it is. That which depends upon nothing can be affected by nothing, can be acted upon by nothing, can be changed by nothing, can be influenced by no power, can be impaired by no time, can be varied by no accident."

All this inevitably follows from God's being the great I AM, the self-existent ONE. But how can any such assertions be made of him who had a Father? and who by the very admission that he had, is declared not to be self-existent of him who was obedient-who came not to do his own will-who declared of himself that he spoke, acted, lived by the Father? Where is he denominated the immortal King-the incorruptible, impassible God?—or introduced in holy writ, like him who is, asserting his immutability, and declaring, "I am Jehovah, I change not?" Overboard! then, with an invention, as unphilosophical as it is unscriptural, that would synchronize a son with his father, and transfer to the creature the incommunicable attributes of the Creator.

SECTION TENTH.

No proof in Scripture that Christ possessed the Divine attribute of Omnipresence or Omniscience.

That the infinite, self-existent Jehovah, whose presence fills the boundless universe, became incarnate in the person of a man, and lived upwards of thirty years in the condition of an humble Galilæan, till he allowed himself to be crucified as a malefactor, and ascended into heaven in the same corporeal form in which as a man, he, the ever-blessed, ever-living God, had suffered and expired-this is, indeed, a doctrine so tremendously stupendous, that we are at some loss to conceive by what omnipotent force of evidence its credibility could be established. With more facility could we imagine the whole unfathomable ocean to be contained in a lady's thimble, or all the orbs which compose the solar system revolving in the tiny sphere of a nut-shellDid revelation propose for our adoption, any doctrine so marvellous, we should naturally expect with it some proof, or positive assertion, at least, of its truth, especially as it teaches us, at

considerable length, and with great variety of proofs and illustrations, doctrines much less difficult of credence. But it would seem that the belief of our Athanasian worthies, is always in the inverse ratio of the evidence; and when a doctrine becomes altogether absurd and impossible, to adopt and believe it, is the most sublime exercise of their faith!

རྩ

What is the proof that Christ was Omnipresent? As usual, we discover that it is inferred. And from what? From a text and a half of Matthew! viz.

"Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." xviii. 20.

“And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." xxviii. 20.

To understand these texts literally involves one of two great errors, either that Christ did not ascend to heaven, but still remains on earth; or that he descends from heaven really and corporally, whenever two or three are gathered together in his name. Moreover, it contains a virtual denial, that in heaven his dwelling-place, he presides over his church and people, with such power and efficacy as take away the necessity of personal manifestations, and gives up one of the strongest arguments against the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, a concession for which the infallible church would, no doubt, be grateful.

Orthodox commentators on the former text, give an emphatic sense to Am I, and affirm that it refers to Christ's divine presence at all times and in all places. A short time ago, they referred "I Am," to his self-existence, and we shall not be surprised if we find them referring it again to any of the other attributes. When we object that it would be superfluous for Christ to say, that he would be present with "two or three," if by the very necessity of his nature, he must be present at all times, and on all occasions, not with his disciples only, but with Jews and Gentiles; we are told, in contradiction to the preceding orthodox statement, that the words refer, not to his general, but his special presence, the particular object of which is to intercede for them to the Father!

But, in fact, our Lord makes no claim to personal or essential ubiquity. Some modern critics have concurred with Chrysostom, and other ancient Fathers, in thinking that the words were limited in their application to the Apostles, and had a special reference to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which were to be communicated to them after our Lord's departure. They are, however, capable of a more extensise application, and they seem to convey an important truth to the disciples of all ages. Our Lord had been speaking of offences and of the conduct to be observed towards an offending brother-he is thence led to make unanimity a condition of their success in prayer. two of you shall agree on earth, as touching any thing they

"If

shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." The reason of this promise is annexed. "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, (or, as my genuine disciples,) there am I," not personally, not essentially ; the disciples were not so absurd as to understand him in either sense, but virtually-in that harmony, union, and Christian spirit, which characterise their conduct and dictate their petitions. Their prayers ascend accepted to the throne, and you may confidently trust, that what they ask shall be done for them of my Father, as surely as if I myself were the petitioner,* and present in the midst of them.

Here the courteous reader is requested to enquire how were the words understood by the Apostles? How did Peter, in particular, understand them? Peter was a man of ardent temperament, all alive to every thing novel and surprising. Here then was something to excite the admiration of the most phlegmatic mind, if it was what Trinitarians represent it; but Peter, instead of betraying the least emotion, or appearing to suspect that he stood face to face before the Omnipresent God, in the person of his master, an idea that would have confounded and overwhelmed him, cooly draws nearer to Christ, to ask a ques tion relative to the subject on which he had been discoursing.

In the text Matt. xxviii. 20. instead of end of the world, we should read end, or consummation of the age, viz. of the Jewish dispensation, which terminated with the destruction of the temple. Until that period, Christ was present with his Apostles, in the special manner of which he gave them intimation when he declared that he would not leave them comfortless, but that he would come to them again. "These things have I spoken unto you," said he, "being yet present with you," intimating that he was about to be absent from them; and to console them, added, "the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." After his ascension into heaven, he came to them no more personally; but the influence of the Holy Spirit which inspired them to preach, and enabled them to work miracles, sup plied his place, and ratified his promise. He who could pray to the Father, with a certainty of being heard, for twelve legions of angels, might well promise to be with his disciples, or to:

* Adesse alicui dicitur qui ei favet, auxiliumque præbet. He who favours and assists another, is said to be present with him. Grotius, who makes this observation, says, that our Lord's declaration is very similar to a saying of the Jews, "Where two sit discoursing concerning the law, the Shekinah, or symbol of the divine presence, is among them." A metaphorical mode of expressing the approbation with which they were regarded by heaven, when' engaged in such pious topics of conversation.

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