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some of his own proofs as he might The chapter on the evidence from fairly be ; he seems to include the the miraculous nativity is followed, palmary prediction just mentioned, as we have already stated, by one and urged Matt. i. 23 among on the office and testimony of John those “ citations from the Old Tes- the Baptist, which are aptly shewn tament which are rather of the na- to bear strongly on the general ture of classical passages, capable proof of our Lord's Divinity. Then of a descriptive application to the succeeds a third chapter, occupying events, than direct prophecies;" and a large portion of the volume, as states, what to us sounds most well the copiousness and importance strangely, that “the doctrine of the of its argument required, on the demiraculous conception has no neces- clarations, intimations, and admissary influence on the determination sions of our Lord himself, relative of the great point in the controversy to his own character. This division concerning the person of Christ.” of the argument has ever appeared So that the author's observations to us most striking and impressive. are not, it would appear, intended Concede but the single point that so much to establish the truth of Jesus of Nazareth was a man of this doctrine, as for the purpose of common honesty and veracity, and substantiating the authenticity of we want no more to prove, from his the disputed passages, for the sake own words or intimations, all that is of some texts included in them, to included in the orthodox doctrine rewhich he has occasion to refer; and lative to his sacred person and offices. of shewing how cautiously a zealous Dr. Smith has given us the fol. inquirer after truth should shun the lowing summing up of the chief reckless and flippant style of criti. heads of his elaborate and satisfaccism of the Socinian school. These tory chapter on this portion of the objects are, indeed, excellent, and discussion. worthy of his best efforts; but they “In the survey which we have taken of are not, nor ought to be, the only the doctrines which Jesus, in his personal result of a careful investigation of ministry, taught concerning himself, either
directly or in a remote and implied manthe important passages under con
ner; or which, though proceeding from sideration; which not only prove, others, he admitted and acquiesced in ; we as Dr. Smith justly admits-nay, have found the following particulars. contends they do, – the truth of the
• He was described by the voice of inmiraculous nativity; but also shew spiration, as being the Son of God, the
Son of the Most High; in reference to that this doctrine has a most “ne- his miraculous birth, and to his royal digcessary influence on the determi- nity and power, as the Sovereign of a new, nation of the great point in the spiritual, her venly, and everlasting dispen
sation. He admitted, on the charge of controversy concerning the person his enemies, that he was the Son of God, of Christ.” It appears to us to per- in a sense which the highest judicial auvade every thing that relates to him; thorities of his country considered to be and on its truth or falsehood depends a blasphemous arroge ting of attributes much of the essential peculiarities of a human being. He declared that a of our holy religion. We are the perfect knowledge of his Person was posmore surprised at our author's con. sessed by God his Father only, that he cession on this subject, as he does himself had the same perfect and exclusive
knowledge of the Father, that this knownot deny, but believes, the doctrine. ledge was reciprocal and equal, and that
The uncertainty of tone which it was above the powers of human comrests upon his general argument in prehension. He aflirmed himself to be this chapter, may probably be ac
the Son of God in such a sense as included cidental and not intentional; but it with that of the Father; the same domi
an equality, or rather an identity, of power materially derogates from the repose nion in the arrangements of Providence ; with which we could wish to place the same superiority to the laws which his argument in the hands of a
were given to regulate the seasons of
human labour; and the same right of reSocinian.
ligious homage and obedience. In like CHRIST, OBSERV. No. 345.
manner he asserted that he was the Son for which infinite power, knowledge, wisof God so as to be one with the Father, dom, and righteousness are indubitably by a unity of power; which he justified necessary. and confirmed by declaring a unity of “During the period of his debasement essence, or of nature and distinguishing and humiliation, he accepted of religious properties.
homage, and that of such a kind and under “Our Lord, with a remarkable frequency, such circumstances, as cannot be reconciled styled himself the Son of Man; an appels with the integrity, humility, and piety of lation equivalent to that of Messiah, but his character, upon the hypothesis of his the least capable of any injurious construc. simple humanity. tion. This designation he often combined “He also assumed an absolute juris. with the assertion of a pre-existent and diction in matters of moral obedience; heavenly nature: the condescension of thus claiming that authority over the which, in forming a new and interesting hearts and consciences of mankind which relation with mankind, is represented by can belong only to the Supreme Lord, the same expression that is used in the and which involves both a right and power Old Testament to denote peculiar acts or of taking cognizance of the secret sentimanifestations of the Divine personal in- ments, principles, and feelings of men's terposition. To this superior nature Jesus souls. He represented himself as the Soappears to refer as a Witness to the truth vereign Head of the Gospel dispensation, of his doctrines, in accession to the tes- and was uniformly so considered by his timony of the Almighty Father.
Apostles. Its miraculous establishment “ Our Lord further adverted to the was attributed to his personal and peculiar pristine condition of his superior nature, power, a power to modify and controul as a glory which he had with the Father the laws of nature : and, in all its arrangebefore the existence of the created uni- ments, offices, ordinances, diffusion, and verse ; and which was to be displayed to success, he is constantly declared to be the the contemplation of holy intelligences, in real and ever-present Agent. The exercise the most exalted manner, when the pur- of this power manifestly implies a uniposes of his humiliation to sufferings and versal dominion over the whole course of death should be accomplished, and that natural and moral events; the causes and assumed state of humiliation should cease. occasions of human action; the underHe shewed that this glory consisted in standings, passions, and motives of men, the manifestation of those moral excel- in every state and of every character; and lencies which form the unrivalled per- the efficient determination of the issue to fection of the Divine Nature ; and this all the purposes and actions of all manmanifestation he aflirmed of the Father kind. In a perfect analogy with these and of himself
, reciprocally. He solemnly high prerogatives and powers, the Lord averred that he had existed ages before Jesus ascribed to himself a spontaneous his human birth, and before the birth of power to relinquish his own human life, Abraham.
and to resume it, and the resurrection “Christ affirmed that a power was given of his body from the state of death, is to him, in his mediatorial capacity, which expressly imputed to his own will and involves the absolute controul of the agency. minds, passions, and actions of mankind, “ With all this, Jesus uniformly mainand the management of providential tained his entire subordination to the will agency ; qualities clearly incongruous with of God his Father ; that all which he perany nature or capacities merely created : formed and suffered, taught and comand he declared the exercise of this power manded, in the great work of his mission to be coeval with the duration of the pre- to mankind, he did, for no private or sent dispensation of the Divine govern- separate purpose, but solely in pursuance ment.
of the appointment, and for the accom“ He spoke of the holding of religious plishment of the gracious designs, of Him assemblies, as a usage which would be who sent him. Not only did he reject the characteristic of his followers, and as an idea of having any detached interests or act of religious homage to himself: and objects, but he even affirmed that he had he assured his disciples that, on all such not a detached existence from the existoccasions, which must of course include ence of the Father. The will and work all times and places, he would be with and glory of the Father, are repeatedly them, in such a manner as allows of no stated to have been identically the will rational interpretation except on the ad- and work and glory of the Son. It is mission of his possessing the attributes of declared that the Father is in the Son, omnipresence and the exercise of special and the Son in the Father; and that He grace.
and the Father are One. “ He described himself, with remark- “ Such is the purport of the testimony able strength and particularity of expres- which our Lord Jesus Christ bore consion, as the Being who will effect the stu- cerning himself. Whether these partipendous miracle of the universal resur- culars have been fairly deduced from their rection, and will determine the everlasting premises, by legitimate criticism and horetributions of all human beings; works nest interpretation, has, throughout the are orders of intelligent creatures distinct a vehicle for deception. Take, for the universe than our planet, is rendered
preceding disquisitions, been carefully example, the following illustration, submitted to the judgment of the learned and intelligent reader : and he is again re
or rather darkening, of such pasquested to exercise that judgment upon
sages as John iii. 13: “No one hath this recapitulation of the results. It has ascended up to heaven, but he that been, also, my honest endeavour to pre- came down from heaven, even the sent the grounds of the evidence, at every Son of Man which is in heaven;" step, in a manner so detailed and perspicuous, that I flatter myself any attentive
a text of itself amply decisive of our and serious reader, though not possessed Lord's pre-existence and glory. of the assistances to be derived from an
“ The opinion preferred by Mr. Belacquaintance with the original languages sham, and by the generality of modern of Scripture, will find it no difficult task Unitarians, may be thus represented : to follow each argument, with a clear per- " The Jewish notion of a local heaven, ception of every thing on which its validity say they, is an absurd and puerile hypocan depend.
thesis. God is at all times equally and every “Let me entreat him, then, to meditate where present; and heaven is a state, not a anew upon the character, both mental and place. To be perfectly virtuous and to moral, of the Person by whom all these
be perfectly happy, is to be in heaven. attributives have been avowed as his own, To ascend into heaven is a Hebrew form or plainly assumed, or more or less indi, of expression, to denote the acquisition rectly implied, or permitted to be ascribed of such knowledge as lies remote from to him by others : and let him consider whether it is possible to believe the by the ordinary faculties of men : for ex
common apprehension, or is unattainable soundness and sobriety of mind of that ample, Deut. xxx. 11. Prov. xxx. 4. Person, and still more his perfect holi- Baruch üi. 29. Rom. x. 26. The phrase, ness, humility, and piety, on the suppo- therefore, here denotes, . No one is insition of his knowing himself to be nothing structed in the Divine counsels.' The more than a mere human creature, how
next clause is to be understood in the ever singularly wise and virtuous; a fal.
same figurative manner, and is perfectly lible and peccable man: and whether, on correlative with the first; signifying, the other hand, it is not necessary, in Excepting the Son of Man, who had a order to support the integrity of his cha- commission from God to reveal his will racter and the truth of his teachings, to to mankind.' This form of expression believe that he possessed, not the nature
also is used in Scripture, to signify what is of man only, but another Nature, superior of Divine origin or authority; as when our and pre-existent, celestial and really Di Lord asks, The baptism of John, was it vine." pp. 357–363.
from heaven or of men?' Matt. xxi. 25. We have not space to argue out nuation of the same figure, so that the
The last clause in John jii. 13. is a contiin detail these condensed notices,
true sense of the whole text may be ex. which furnish the matter for nume- pressed thus : "No one has ever been adrous capitules and sections of the mitted to a participation of the Divine chapter before us; nor need we,
counsels, except the Son of Man, Jesus
of Nazareth, who has been commissioned since no impartial reader, we think, to reveal the will of God to men, and who can peruse even in their nakedness is perfectly instructed and qualified for this brief syllabus of our Lord's
pp. 116, 117. statements, without coming to the Can anything be more farconclusion that if he who made such fetched, jejune, and, we scruple not declarations, or gave such intima- to say, preposterous, than this parations, as the foregoing, was not guilty phrase ? Dr. Smith replies at conof the grossest falsehood and dupli- siderable length to this objection. city, he was truly the Son of God, We shall give the substance of his the Messiah, and the Saviour of the argument, which is well-constructed world, in the highest sense which and satisfactory. the great majority of Christians, - 1. The idea of a local heaven runs from the primitive times to the through the whole tenor of the Old and present, have been accustomed to involving any absurd or puerile concepattach to those expressions. The tions, without at all derogating from the Socinian glosses and dilutions on most exalted belief of the Divine immenthis subject are such as would de- sity, and without any inconsistency with prive language of its power of con
the facts of just science. That there veying ideas, and render it merely from man, and inhabiting other parts of
4 E 2
to the highest degree probable by modern real translation to heaven as to a place. discoveries in astronomy,' and is, in a This is not contradicted, but confirmed, variety of ways, asserted and implied in by the hyperboles and metaphors which the volume of revelation. There is no- are derived from this phrase, and applied thing incongruous with the most rigid to lofty towers, the waves in a storm, philosophy in the supposition that the splendid prosperity, exalted privileges, very locality of perfectly holy and happy and prodigious sins. beings should be distinguished by peculiar, “ 3. The correlate expression, to deand even external, manifestations of that scend from heaven, is repeatedly used in favour of the Deity, which is rich and Scripture in reference to the Divine Being; diversified in its resources above all hu. Yet it cannot be supposed that a local man conception. All known analogies motion of the Infinite Spirit is intended. countenance such a supposition. Neither The design of such passages undoubtedly is there improbability in the idea, that is to describe any remarkable manifestation some part of the inconceivably-extended to men of the power, intelligence, mercy, universe may have been prepared by the or other attributes, of Him who inwisdom of God, as a region above all habiteth eternity.' others proper for the most sublime mani- "4. By a natural and easy figure, arisfestations of that glorious favour. To ing from the phraseology just mentioned, such an idea the language of the Scrip- any revealed doctrine, precept, or pretures is not merely favourable, but de- diction, or any signal interposition of the cidedly and constantly proceeds on its Divine government, is in Scripture said to adınission. To allirm that the omni- be, or to come, from heaven. So it was presence of the Divine Nature renders predicted that, in the constitution of the impossible any such peculiar manifestation, Gospel, righteousness should look down is a gratuitous assertion, and could not from heaven : ''the baptism of John was be maintained without virtually denying from heaven ; ' every good and perfect the attribute of omnipotence. The ques- gift is from above ;' the wrath of God is tion does not refer to the essential presence revealed from heaven against all ungodliof the Deity, but to special manifestations ness and unrighteousness of men ;' and, of his attributes.
in the Apocalyptic visions, special acts of “2. The statement of Mr. Belsham is the Divine dispensations, respecting either not correct when he says, 'to ascend to the present state or the retributions of the heaven is a Hebrew form of expression, future, are described as coming down to denote the knowledge of things mys- from heaven;' and in these passages it is terious and remote from common appre- evident that the imagery requires the idea hension.' The four passages referred to to be maintained of a real and local by him and other writers, evidently signify descent. It is also observable that, in a real and local ascent, with a view to every instance in which a person is said obtain the knowledge, or other blessing, to be or to come from heaven, a real and adverted to in the connexion of each. literal presence of the person is manifestly Let the reader impartially examine them. in the design of the sacred writer ; and That the sacred writers believed in the that the improper or figurative use is possibility of such a corporal ascent, no applied to things, such as doctrines and more derogates from their inspiration messages, promises, threatenings, and than does their being ignorant of the providential dispensations. true construction of the solar system. It “5. Though this figurative use of the was no part of the design of revelation to expression, in application to signal benefits teach men natural philosophy. In their conferred by God, is of frequent occurusing the phrase, “ascending into heaven, rence in Scripture, and it would have been the writers evidently conceived of a real scarcely less natural to have employed penetration into the regions of celestial the same in relation to eminent persons light and happiness, in order to the acqui- raised up by Providence for peculiar sition of the knowledge which is peculiar services to mankind ; yet no instance of to the Divine Being. When Jesus, in such application exists, excepting to the the case before nis, employs the expression, Saviour of the world. Upon the notion he neither affirms nor denies the hypo- of the Unitarians, that the expression is thetical possibility of such ascending into synonymous with bearing a Divine comheaven ; but he states the fact to be, that mission, we might well have expected to no human being ever had actually so find it often used in such a sense. Yet ascended.
we find not this phrase, or any one like it, “Other examples which occur in Scrip- ever applied to any illustrious deliverer of ture of this phrase clearly refer to a real the Hebrew nation, though commissioned
The following are all that I have and miraculously supported by God; such been able to discover, which can affect as Moses the greatest of political benethe present inquiry Deut xxx. 12; factors, or any of the Israelitish judges, or Prov. xxx. 4; Ps. cxxxix. 7; Isai. xiv. 13, David, or Cyrus, or Zerubbabel ; nor lo 14 ; Acts ii. 34. These instances plainly any prophet, though divinely inspired to shew that the expression was commonly bring glad tidings from the Fountain of understood among the Jews to signify a Mercy, as Elijah, Isaiah, or Malachi; nor
to any of the inspired teachers, who Jehovah; or, as the clause before us is received not their doctrine from man, translated in the venerable Syriac version, nor were taught it' by any human means, whose antiquity is nearly apostolic, and as Peter, John, or Paul. On the contrary, whose language differs by very slight in the sequel of the passage before us, shades from that which was spoken by this is made the very ground of distinetion Jesus and his countrymen, · I, I'myself.' between John the Baptist and Christ. “ From the several foregoing consider• He who cometh from above is over all: ations, it plainly follows that an unexhe who is from the earth is from the ceptionable translation of the clause earth, and from the earth he speaketh : would be this, * Before Abraham existed, he who cometh from heaven is over all.' I myself existed.'
“ 6. From a careful examination of the “ Thus we are led, both by the facts scriptural use of the expressions, from of the case and by the phraseology, to heaven, and being, coming, or descending the conclusion that our Lord certainly from heaven, it appears to me that the affirmed himself to have a superior and idea intended is a Divine origin, which is pre-existent nature.” pp. 185, 186. of course applied variously, according to A reference from the canonical the nature of the subject. Now, if we Greek text to the venerable Syriac, compare the passages in which such language is employed in relation to Christ,
or the supposed vernacular words of with those which are acknowledged to our Lord, is only justifiable for the refer simply to the peculiar manifestation sake of explanation, illustration, or or energy of God, we shall find that the confirmation. The appeal to the former are fully as express and definite as the latter for denoting an actual and per
Greek text, where that text is exsonal presence in distinction from any plicit, ought to be final. On first merely figurative idea.
reading Dr. Smith's Syriac, or He“ The weight of philological and scrip- braic illustration, it struck us as tural evidence appears to me to determine the passage at present before us to this a very happy reference; but upon signification:
fuller consideration it does not so If
ye are so averse from apprehend- well satisfy our minds ; for to mean ing and embracing my testimony with any thing specific it must be mouldrespect to those subjects of religion which refer to your own reason and conscience
ed into something like the following in the present state, how will ye be capable shape : “ Our Lord spoke in a diaof understanding those more sublime lect which was ambiguous; and St. truths, the knowledge of which is entirely John, putting his words into Greek, dependent on a revelation from the Deity himself? Yet doubt not my ability to may have used a different tense to give you correct information, even on
that which he meant ; he perhaps those exalted themes. No human being, meant the past, while St. John uses indeed, has ever been, or could be ad- the present.” Dr. Smith certainly mitted to that most immediate and per- cannot intend this ; and so far from fect manifestation of the Divine Presence which would communicate to him that thinking it necessary to disparage knowledge. But the Messiah, whose the Greek reading, he shews that superior nature is eternal, omniscient, its idiom well allows of “I am" and in every respect divine, has assumed being here satisfactorily underof bringing this knowledge and all other stood in the sense of “ I was ;” but Divine blessings to your enjoyment.'” in this case the Syriac reference pp. 117--129.
avails nothing. We doubt whether In turning over this chapter we in any language, at least as spoken, observe the following remark, at the the present and the past are equiconclusion of a critique upon the vocal; the tone or inflections of phrase "I am," as used by our Lord: voice would in speaking point out “ Before Abraham was, I am.” the difference ; even a little child
“ But there seems to be little reason who in its first efforts to speak omits for debate about the tense of the verb, the auxiliary parts of its sentences, when it is considered that Jesus, speak- does not usually leave us at a loss ing in the dialect of his country, most probably used no verb at all. The idiom of in this matter of tense; and we the 'Hebraic languages would have re- doubt not that the Greek inspired quired, I ne, as it occurs in several pas- text is a true fac-simile of our sages of the Old Testament, which contain a peculiar and most solemn decla- Lord's vernacular speech, with all ration of the supremacy aud eternity of such shades of meaning as were