Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

the passions into madness, or soothe them into peace. They can burn the cheek with shame for its deed of sin, and Aush it with the hope of virtue. They can take us up the Mount of Transfiguration to the communion with departed saints. Strongly refuse, or strongly consent, as we may, they take us along their track of pain or pleasure, woe or joy. They may be made to gild hypocrisies and lies; to twist themselves into festoons of flattery; to defend abuses and shams; to betray artless innocence, and perpet. uate wrong.

Language is the medium by which the noblest and meanest feelings of man are transmitted; the telegraph along which thought runs from soul to soul. It is the urn of humanity's tears, the alembic of its trials, its crystalized experience, the tree on which all its hopes blossom, and all its fruits of wisdom are born. It is the mine which has grown from the deposits of ages, out of which schools, academies, colleges, historians, dig for the treasures of knowedge. It is the crystal palace in which science and invention show their works and novelties, studied out of earth, air, and heaven. It is the museum in which philosophy, poetry, and biography store for all posterity the relics iof speculation, patriotism, love, folly, and belief, of past eras. It is the indestructible safe in which are preserved the records of laws, constitutions, forms of government, styles of civil and religious liberty. It is a channel through which rare genius pours its inspirations into the common thinking and consciousness. It is the sacred ark of religion, which has borne over the floods of time her infinite mysteries. It lifts for us the scenes of Judea's people, and we hear the angel song over Bethlehem, see the Magi kneel with Mary, follow the Lord as he wrought miracles, and hear him bless the women that hid their eyes at Calvary. It is the ladder by which prayer climbs up to the portals of heaven's glory. It rehearses the majestic disclosures of prophets, and chants David's undying hymn. Through it is the light of immortality reflected, God's truth disseminated, and heaven and earth united. It reaches back on the one hand to creation, and on the other up to God.

T. S. L.

ART. XIX.

The Man, Christ Jesus.

We propose in this article to illustrate and defend the doctrine of the strict and proper humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, in opposition to all theories which tend to impair the force or obscure the meaning of the Apostle's words, which stand as the motto of our essay, and which so expressly assert this great fundamental truth. We affirm the humanity of Christ, on the grounds both of Scripture and reason, as presenting the true basis of his whole system of doctrine and duty; as necessary to give vitality and coherency to his precepts; to reconcile and harmonize his life and teachings.

We are well aware of the widely prevalent and longexisting prejudice which the Christian world has entertained against the proper humanity of Christ; and that the humanitarian idea of his nature, sufferings, and atonement, has generally been held up to reproach. Well may it be thus viewed by those who still resolutely maintain the vicarious theory of Christ's mission and death ; for the doctrine of his properly human nature strikes a fatal blow at the whole fabric of Calvinistic and Papal theology; and the theories of the trinity, the supreme Deity of Jesus, the sacrificial, substitutional character of his sufferings, must all be relinquished, when he is held strictly and truly as “the man, Christ Jesus," who came into the world for the one great purpose of “bearing witness to the truth.” (John, xviii. 37: μαρτυρήσω τη αληθεία : μαρτυρέω from μάρτυς, (ΑΕolic dialect púprvo,] a witness.) Will the strictly human conception of Christ's nature bring into harmony all that the New Testament teaches of his mission, offices, labors, teachings, and redemptive work; and will this conception alone enable us to account for all that was peculiar in his manifestation of God to the world ? To this broad, deep inquiry we now address ourselves, with the utmost confidence that in this light alone can we truly apprehend Christ and all that he is to be to the individual soul, and all that he is to do, in the progress of his kingdom, to lift the world up into reconciliation with the Father.

In regard to the ancient Jewish conception of the Messiah who was to come, it seems too plain to need extended argument, that the Jews held that he was to be simply a man - neither God Almighty nor a super-angelic being. They were taught by their prophets to expect their Messiah to be descended from the tribe of Judah, and from the family of David ; a person in whom they and all the nations of the earth should be blessed. But none of their prophets gave them an idea of any other than a man like themselves, in that illustrious character; and no other did they ever expect, or do they expect to this day.1

What the universal Jewish conception on this subject was in Christ's time, we learn from the narrative in John, v. 18: “ Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” Here the Jewish ideas and feelings are very clearly manifest. What these cavillers objected to was, that Christ " said also that God was his Father," tardga istov; which is translated by Dr. Macknight, " His proper Father;" by Dr. Hopkins, Thulock and De Wette, “ His own proper Father;" by Dr. Campbell, “ Peculiarly his Father.”? The equality with God which this expression denotes, was as far as possible removed from the trinitarianism of the Calvinistic school of theologians ; and it very clearly appears from the whole passage, nay, from the whole tenor of the New Testament, that the Jewish idea of the Messiah was that of a man.

For when Jesus called God “his oun proper Father,” or " peculiarly his Father,” this was too much for his enemies to admit; though it was precisely the idea which he always gave of himself, and is as consistent with the notion of his proper humanity, as it is inconsistent and irreconcilable with the notion of his being peculiarly God, whose Son he claimed to be, and of whose spirit he partook — but in how distinct and subordinate a sense we are not at a loss to understand, if we keep closely to the Gospel record, and simply keep clear of contradictions. That the Son of God cannot be at the same time God, the Father of himself ; that Father and Son are terms of relation, of diversity, of opposition even, and not of sameness or identity of persons,

1 Priestly's Corruptions of Christianity, (Keene, 1838,) p. 14, 36-40. 2 Dr. Worcester's Bible News, (Boston, 1825,) p. 94.

or equality of glory, - we assume as axioms, so self-evident that no possible demonstration can shed additional force on their bare enunciation.

But we are usually met, on the threshold of this discussion, with an expression of St. Paul, which seems to present to some minds a formidable obstacle to Christ's humanity, viz., the passage in Phil. ii. 6: “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God,” as it stands in our common version. It will be asked how, if Christ is equal with God, can it be that God is greater than he, as Christ distinctly declares, and how can he be a man, as the apostles so often assert ? (John, xiv. 28; Acts, ii. 22; Rom. v. 15; 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22, 45; 1 Tim. ii. 5.) We see no contradiction in the language of Christ and his apostles, when we bring all that they have said on this subject together, and take their own terms with their own qualifications. If Jesus can with propriety be called equal with God, on the ground that God is peculiarly his Father, such equality we admit. But we say that the Jews perversely and falsely accused Jesus of making himself equal with God; that nothing that Jesus ever said or did can truly be interpreted to mean any such thing. Nor is it satisfactory to plead, as Stuart has done, by way of evading the force of the passages above referred to, that Christ was equal in his Divine nature with God, while inferior in his human characteristics ; for the Scriptures make no such hair-splitting, metaphysical distinction; nor is the proposition intelligible.

If we inquire closely into the peculiar form of expression in Phil. ii. 6, and its connection with the general strain of the context, we shall find that equality with the Father in any sense inconsistent with Christ's humanity, is neither distinctly affirmed nor necessarily implied.

If we may trust to the most competent judges of the force of the Greek terms in this passage, we must conclude that our English translation of it is not quite accurate. The phrase si vai ida @ew properly signifies to be like God," or as God.”

Dr. Whitby renders the verse thus: “Who being in the form of God, did not covet to appear as God.” Dr. Mac- knight: “ Who being in the form of God, did not think it robbery to be like God.”

Another Trinitarian writer, quoted by Dr. Worcester, says the true sense of the original is conveyed by rendering it thus : “Who being in the form of God, did not eagerly grasp at the resemblance to God." 3

Dr. Doddridge remarks that “the original words do not convey the idea of equality with God, but of resemblance to him in appearance."

Wakefield renders it, rather loosely, thus: “Who though in a Divine form, did not think of eagerly retaining this Divine likeness."

This array of approved authors-Episcopal, Presbyterian, Congregational, and Unitarian-shows clearly enough that the words in question do not teach the proper Deity of Christ, and that they are perfectly consistent with his simple and proper humanity. In fact we think that all these authors have honestly endeavored, and have succeeded in the attempt, to correctly apprehend and faithfully represent the substantial meaning and spirit of the original.

The Greek word uopon, which is here rendered form, relates to the external shape and appearance of a person, not to his essential nature.

Robinson, defining (in his Lex.) the words, “who being in the form of God," says, “i. e., as God, like God, where the force of the antithesis refers most naturally to the Divine majesty and glory;" at the same time he seems to intimate that uopo7 may have here the sense of púris, nature. But this, it will appear as we proceed, is not the apostle's meaning, as he himself explains it. For he does not say that Christ is properly God, possessing the essential nature of Deity, but only that he had the form of God, i. e., the appearance, image, likeness of God.

This proposition of the apostle is equally plain and rational. It amounts to just this, that Christ was endued by the Father with the Divine attributes of power, wisdom, grace, and truth, and in so extraordinary and pre-eminent a degree that he bore the form and image of God himself; that he was “the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of his person." (Heb. i. 3.)

But as we distinguish between the sun, and the light 3 Bible News, p. 118.

4 See Christian Examiner, May, 1857, vol. Ixii., p. 402, et seq., for a thorough critical exposition of Phil. ii. 6.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »