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The work is divided into two parts. In the first the author endeavours to shew “ that the passages and considerations alleged in favour of the supreme and independent deity of Christ do not establish such doctrine concerning him.”
In the first section, those passages are examined, which represent Christ as the creator of all worlds. These are John i. 1–14. Col. i. 16, 17. Heb. i. The proem to John's gospel has long been the crur antitrinitarianorum. They have agreed in nothing but to wrest it from the hands of the orthodox,but have never been able to convert it into an auxiliary. Though some of the early Polish Socinians thought they could apply all its
high and obscure expressions to the entrance of Christ on his publick ministry, L. Crellius wasted an immensity of learning to make it probable that we should read twinstead of tier in the first verse ; Clarke and the Arians are contented with affixing to be without the article a subordinate sense ; the more modern Unitarians suppose that the word x,y,z does not here signify a person, but only an attribute of Deity, and that there is no unequivocal intimation of Christ till the 8th verse ; and last of all, a critick, whose familiarity with scriptural phrases and terms is not inferiour to the knowledge of any of his predecessors, Newcome Cappe, has ventured to restore and vindicate the original interpretation of Socinus. Mr. S. adopts the most common explanation of the Unitarians, that by x•yor is in: tended the reason, or wisdom of God, which the evangelist eloquently personifies. We find some remarks on the use of the preposition wer, and the word *xnrozo, which are not unimportant, and then are called to the famous passage in Col. i. 16, 17. The difficulties, which attend the
explanation of these verses, as referring to the new moral creation, or rather organization under the gospel,are not a few ; and Mr. S. has in some degree injured the plausibility and compactness of his own interpretation by not sufficiently attending to the propriety of clearly referring all the clauses without exception either to one creation or the other. Hence we think he should have admitted no other interpretation of reororoxer rexrizi. than this, “first-born or most eminent of the whole creation ;” in the same sense in which Christ is elsewhere styled “first born among many brethren,” Rom. viii.
29. Mr. S. also argues in favour
deavours, though with no peculiar ingenuity, to obviate the proofs from other texts of Christ’s omnifiresence. The passages which are adduced to prove the etermity and immutability of Christ are examined in the two next sections, and in the seventh the power which our Saviour exercised on earth of Jorgiving sins is discussed with much learning and acuteness. The distinction is pointed out between touri, and ov.au: ; it is shown that the former, derived from £ort, it is lawJul, conveys the idea of licence, legality, or a moral right to exercise authority ; and that it is the word used by our Saviour to signify the power of forgiveness which he exercised on earth. It is afterwards maintained and confirmed by the authority of Calvin, Macknight, and Pool, that the forgiveness of the sins of the paralytick in the passage in question means only his deliverance from his disorder. This Jewish mode of speech is then illustrated by several passages in Isaiah, and a similar representation from the New Testament is produced in the following passage. The argument we do not recollect to have seen stated before with equal acuteIless.
A very plain example of fimilar representation occurs in the New Testament. “Then said Jesus unto them again, Peace be unto you : As my Father hath sent me, even so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and saith unto them, Receive ye the holy ghost. Whosesoever fins ye remit they are remitted unto them ; and whosesoever fins ye retain they are retained.” But were the Apostles endowed with the power of forgiving the fins of men, or fixing their fins upon them in the literal scnse of this phraseology All that can be said, concerning them in this respect, is, that they had the foover of healing all manner of ds; so, and inflicting judgment, on so as off of a them in the proformance of the duties of their mission. Accordingly we
The eighth section contains a very full discussion of the use of the word worshift in the Old and NewTestament, in order to prove, what we believe no one will deny, that “there is nothing in the word re-round itself, which confines it to divine homage. The kind of homage implied in any particular instance is to be decided by the circumstances under which it is paid.” P. 62. '
The next section is employed in examining several important texts, in which names and titles appropriated to God appear to be given to Christ. We have not room to pass every criticism in review before us ; a few remarks on some erroneous suppositions of Mr. S. may not be unprofitable.
What does Mr. S. think of John xiii. 13. waii; favourt of s 213arzaxor, was o xugio: ? He had better also have forborn to supply, what he supposes to be the ellipsis in this exclamation of Thomas.
Jerem. xxiii. 6. “His name shall be called Jehovah our rightcousness.” On this appellation Mr. S. observes, “ Christ is here called, in Hebrew, Jehovah—Tsidkenu. Abraham, that Father of the faithful, called the mount, on which he was to sacrifice his Son, Jehovah—Jireh. Moses built an altar and called it JEHOVAH Nissi–Gideon built an altar and called it JEHOVAH-Shallum. Yea, when David brought up the ark, from the house of Obededom, to the city of David, he styles it, in his song on the occasion, both God and Jehovah ; God is gone up with a shout, the Lord (Heb. Jehovah) with the sound of the trumflet. Thus evident is it, that Jehovah is not a name appropriated only to the supreme God.” Here we think the zeal of the author has rather overleaped his good sense, and led him to express himself inaccurately. If any thing is plain from the Old Testament, it is, that the title Jehovah can in strictness of speech be given to none but the only true God. Because it is sometimes used in composition with other words, as in the instances above cited, to constitute a name, it cannot with any more propriety be said, that persons or things thus nominated are called Jehovah, than that the city Elizabethtown is called Elizabeth. Surely also it cannot be supposed by any person, who attends to the subject, that, in the passage which Mr. S. has quoted from Psalm xlvii., the ark is called either God or Jehovah. We are also satisfied that the author is mistaken in his interpretation of Isaiah viii. 14. compared with 1 Pet. ii. 8 ; but we can only refer him to a most valuable note of the learned James Peirce, on Heb. ii. 13., and also to Dodson on this passage in Isaiah ; for the limits of our review, and perhaps others will say of our knowledge, do not allow us to expatiate in elaborate criticism, and copious illustration. “We now proceed to examine,” says Mr. S. in the next section, “such passages as are said to indicate or imply two natures in Christ, a divine and human nature.” After stating the arguments in favour of the reading 3 in 1 Tim. iii. 16. Mr. S. offers the following translation of a passage, which, we believe, will forever excruciate the wit of the antitrinitarian. Indeed openly proclaimed to all ranks and descriptions is the sublime mystery of godliness, which has been made known to mortal man, substantiated by miraculous attestations, revealed to inspired messengers, preached to the nations, cre
ited by the world, embraced with joyful exultation.
Mr. S. must pardon us for our opinion, that he derives not his principal credit from his original attempts at Greek criticism. He makes several remarks to justify his unnecessary and paraphrastick version of Čaoxoysalvas, a word to. which confessedly in English exactly corresponds.
E, rata (in Mr. S.'s version, to mortal man) cannot be justified by any parallel passage in scripture, and hardly by the Greek idiom ; atom is never used in the passive to express the disclosure of truths to the understanding ; and finally, it . is too much to say that the verb awaxaagava no more signifies to receive us, than it does to receive down.” Though its classical use is undoubtedly extensive, yet in the New Testament it is repeatedly used to signify the assumption of Jesus into heaven. Indeed whether 4, or oo, or bios be the true reading in this celebrated text, we think every impartial theologian must confess that the subsequent clauses can be properly applied to a person only, and to no person but Jesus Christ. Mr. S. conjectures that him is the true reading in Zach. xii. 10. He might have added, that Kennicott assures us it is found in forty Hebrew MSS. to which De Rossi has added the authority of several editions. On the celebrated prediction of the birth of Jesus in Isaiah vii. 14. we have much to observe, but this is not the place for our remarks. We will only suggest, that if this prediction, as Mr. S. supposes, does not relate to the birth of Christ, there is no literal predic. tion of his birth in the Old Testament. It is true that many illustrious names in scriptural criticism, annong whom we may mention Grotius, support Mr. S. in his opinion ; but it should be recollected, that they also maintained a double scnse of the prophecy, whereas Mr. S. with Porphyry, the modern Jews, and the subtile Collins not only contends that the name Immanuel belongs only to the child which the prophetess of that time was to conceive, but far
ther supposes that the evangelist in Matth. i. 23. does not mean to apply it in any sense, as a firediction of the birth of Jesus. Mr. S. ventures also to intimate his doubt whether Isaiah ix. 6, 7. has any reference to Christ. We are fully sensible of the difficulties, which attend the application of prophecies under the old dispensation to characters and events in the new, but we are not yet prepared to give up these capital predictions, though they have always perplexed the apologist for christianity, as well as the controversialist. We think also that a more full and accurate account of the variations of the different versions in this latter passage might have been expected. Section twelfth, upon the fluralisms applied to God in the Old Testament, and section thirteenth, upon the appearances of what is called the angel of the Lord, are written with much ability ; and a consideration of two very popular objections, in section fourteenth, closes this part of the work. In answer to the question what atonement can there be, if Christ be not verily the supreme God, Mr. S. has the following observations.