Page images
PDF
EPUB

eternity of the Word, the Greek language could have easily supplied him with proper terms for expressing his meaning; and he would never have made choice of an expression which did not answer his purpose. * In the beginning (says Moses) God created the Heavens and the Earth ;' but this does not imply that the heavens and the earth were created from all eternity:-In like manner the assertion of St. John, that the Word existed in the beginning, (if by the word is meant Jesus Christ,) will not prove that he existed from all eternity, or how long before the beginning of the world he existed: but it will only prove that he existed at that determinate period styled 'the beginning;' or prior to the creation of this world and its inhabitants.

And the word was with God. Here the Trinitarians differ among themselves : some understanding by the God with whom the word was, their whole supposed Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and others asserting that the word God here means the Father. If they abide by the former explication, it will follow that the Word was with himself; which is a strange, ridiculous, and absurd way of speaking. If they adopt the latter, it may be very properly asked, why the word is not said to have been with the Holy Spirit also, as well as the Father ?

And the Word was God,' that is, say the Trinitarians, the Word or Jesus Christ was, in the strictest sense, God equal with the Father. But here the same difficulty occurs as in the former clause. For if the God with whom the word was, means the whole Trinity, as some of them say, then the word had been sufficiently declared to be God before ; and this is a needless and unaccountable repetition of the apostle. To take off the force of this objection, those who adopt this interpretation say, that it is necessary to distin. guish betwixt God considered essentially and personally; and that the God with whom the Word was, signifies the three persons in conjunction as existing in one divine essence: and when the Word is afterwards said to be God, here we are to understand God as described under a personal cha. racter. But this distinction will be found to involve our opponents in still further difficulty: for it supposes a qua. ternity in the divine nature; or that there are three personal Gods, and one essential God, which is absurd to the last degree and entirely unsupported by the scriptures. For the

[ocr errors]

sacred writers never distinguish between the essence and per. son of the Divine Being : nor can any person be supposed to subsist without a distinct and separate essence of his own. But we have sufficiently shewn the contradiction of this no. tion before, in the conclusion of our first and third Discourses, to which we refer the reader. 'If our opponents then grant; (as many of them do,) that the God with whom the Word was, means the Father only, it is a natural consequence, that when the Apostle afterwards says that the Word was God,' that we are to take the word God here in that inferior acceptation, in which it is sometimes used by the sacred writers. For it is the express and uniform doctrine of the scriptures, that there is but one true and living God; and that that one God is the Father; and as the Word is plainly distinguished from God and said to be with with him, we are warranted by all just rules of interpreta. tion, to understand the word God when applied to him, in the inferior sense.

And there is sufficient foundation in the language of the Apostle himself to authorize this explica. tion, (if the Word signifies a person,) as we shall shew more fully when we come to give the Arian interpretation of this passage. The same was in the beginning with God.' Here, the same difficulty we urged against the Trinitarians before, returns.

Ver. 3. 10. All things were made by him : and without him was not any thing made that was made. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.' Here, say our opponents it is affirmed, that the Word or Jesus Christ made or created all things, and that he made the world ; and as such actions can only properly be ascribed to God, he must be considered as a divine person equal with the Father. Reply. If the Word here means an intelligent agent, and is justly applied to Jesus Christ; yet as the Word at the same time is plainly distinguished from God, and is said to have been with him in the begin. ning when the world was created; the expression, "all things were made by him,' can only denote, that he was the inferior and subordinate instrument by whom the world was made. And that the original words di auto have this meaning, may be confirmed by the testimonies of two an, cient Greek writers. Origen commenting upon

this passage observes "the phrase through whom, never signifies the first,

but always the second cause -all things were made through the Word ; not by him (as the original cause,) but by one superior and greater than the Word.” + In like manner Eusebius says: “When the Evangelist affirms that all things were made (d'autou) by (or through) him, he therein declares the ministration of the Word to God the Father. For whereas he might have expressed it thus UT' AÚTou (all things were made by him as the efficient cause,) he does not so ex. press it, but thus; Si' autou (all things were made by (or through) him as the ministering cause ;) that so he might refer us to (Gr. auley tiav) the supreme power and efficiency of the Father, as the maker of all things." I It is evident then, that the agency of the Word (if a person) in the working of creation, can only be considered as ministerial; and that God the Father Almighty (in the language of the Apostle's Creed,) is the proper Maker and Creator of heaven and earth.

Ver. 14. 'And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.'--Here say the Trinitarians, the Word is said to have been made fesh, or to have been united to a human soul and body; and is declared to be the only begotten of the Father, which im. plies that he was generated from ihe Father's substance. Reply. The Word being made flesh, does not on the 'supposition of his personality imply, his being united to a hu. man soul and body; for in that case our Lord Jesus Christ would be two persons and not one, which notion we refuted in our sixth Discourse, but it signifies, that the Word assum. ed a human body and became himself the soul of it. The phrase "only begotten' in scripture, is sometimes, as learned men have observed, a mere Hebraism, denoting affection, and tenderness, and equivalent to well-beloved. But Jesus Christ may be styled with great propriety the only begotten of the Father, because he was immediately produced in a * More Literally

never has the first, but always the second place."

f Origen Com. in Johan. p. 55, 56.

| Euseb. de Eccles. Theologia. The translation of this, and the preceding passage from Origen, is Dr. Clark's, and is agreeable to the originals. The words in parenthesis are inserted to make the meaning plainer to an English reader.

singular manner, by the power of God, without the instrumentality of any human ancestor, and this phrase has not the smallest relation, to any supposed generation from the Father's essence or substance.

Having now sufficiently confuted the Trinitarian interpretration of the introduction to St. John's Gospel, we proceed to give that of the Arians. In the beginning was the Word.' The Arians affirm, that the Word here means the person of Jesus Christ in his pre-existent state, and that his being in the beginning denotes, that he existed before this visible creation ; but how long before, say they, cannot be deter. mined; but they do not suppose him to be eternal, because St. Paul calls him, Col. i. 15. the first born of every creature, which implies that at some period or other he 'was produced or created. 6 And the word was with God,' (Gr. Toy Joy the God, or the Supreme God.) The Word, the great Messenger of the Father, the revealer of his will, (on which account that title seems to have been given him,) being the first, the most glorious, and excellent production of the Supreme Being, resided with him, and had glory with the Father, before any of the inferior creatures were made. And the Word was God.' (Gr. Jeos, a God, or God in the inferior sense.) This illustrious and exalted Spirit is called God, or a God, because he was the image of the invisible God, the brightest mirror and resemblance of the Almighty, the most dignified of his creatures, who fre. quently represented the person and majesty of the Supreme Being and possessed a God-like authority and dominion. The Arians observe, that the Greek article o being joined to gens when it signifies the Father, and withdrawn from it when it stands for the Word, denotes the supreme, absolute, and sole godhead of the former, and marks the inferior and dependent character of the latter. And they are justified in this observation, by the testimonies of Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen and Eusebius, who take notice of the insertion of the article in the one place, and the omission of it in the other; and assign a reason for it somewhat similar to theirs. Origen in particular observes upon this place as follows: "And the Word was with God,' again, the Word was God.'--John with great attention, and not like one unacquainted with the accuracy of Greek diction, some. times has used the articles and sometimes has omitted them :

having annexed the article o to the term (Royos) the word ; but with regard to the term (680s) God, he has sometimes annex. ed it, and at other times, for the sake of distinction, exclud. eď it. He annexes the article, when the appellation God denotes the unbegotten cause of all things; but he refrains from it when the word is styled God,” &c.

Origen adds afterwards in reply to some whose opinions he had been combating; “Let them be told, that he who is God of himself, is God strictly and absolutely; therefore our Saviour says in his prayer to the Father, that they may know thee the only true God.' But every one, besides him who is God of himself, being made God by a participation of his divinity, is not God strictly and absolutely, but may be styled more properly a God, or a person of inferior and subordinate divinity.” The same was in the beginning with God.' The Word was with the Father in the same manner, as one person is present with another, before any part of the creation was produced, as before observed. Here the Arians remark very justly, that it is impossible that the Word can be said to be with God, and yet be the God with whom he was. This would be a contradiction in terms, and can never be admitted. Neither can the Word be said to be another God, or a distinct divine per. son equal with the Father; for this would make two co-equal Gods, expressly contrary to the doctrine of the sacred writers, who assert that there is but one true and most high God, and that he is the Father, 1 Cor. viii. 5, 6. But that the Word should be God, or a God, in the inferior sense, is attended with no difficulty, and perfectly agreeable to the sense of divine revelation; wherein we are told, that this title has been given to angels, kings, judges, &c. much more may it be bestowed on the most eminent and illustrious of all the creation of God. . All things were

* Και ο λογος ην προς τον Θεον, επειτα. Και θεος ην ο λογος, πανυ δε παρατεθηρεμενως, και εχ ως ελληνικης ακριβολογιας εσισαμενος ο Ιωαννης οπου μεν τοις αρθρoις εχρησαίο, οπε δε ταυλα απεσι ώπησεν, επι μεν το λογου προσ,θες το, ο. επι δε της, θεος, προσηγοριας οπα μεν τιθεις, οπε δε διαιρων. τίθησι μεν γας το αρθρον, οτε η θεος ονομασια επι το αγενηθα τασσεθαι των ολων αιτιε, σιωπα δε αυτο οτε ο λογος θεος ονομαζεται.

Λεκλεον γας αυθοις οτι το τε μεν αυλοθεος ο θεος εσι, διωπες και ο σωλης φησιν εν τη προς τον πατερα ευχη. . ινα γινωσκωσι σε τον μονον αληθινον θεον. δε το παρα το αυτοθεος μετοχη της έκεινου θεοτηθος θεοποιουμενον, ουχ ο θεος, αλλα θεο; κυριωθερον αν λεγοι.

Orig. Com. Edit. Huetii Roth. 1668. Tom. 2. p. 46, 47.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »