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what was in Gebazi's mind, 2 Kings v. 26. • Went not mine heart with thee;' and Peter was acquainted with the deceitful intentions of Ananias and Saphira, Acts v. It is not wonderful therefore, that our Lord should possess a knowledge of this kind..
John iii. 13. ' And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. This passage has been urged as a proof of the omnipresence of Christ, and that he was in heaven in his supposed divine nature, at the same time that he was upon earth. But that our Lord was not literally in heaven, at the time he spoke these words is evident, be. cause he tells us that he came down from heaven. Now in whatever sense we take the words, came down from heaven, they clearly prove, that at that period he was not actually in heaven. Some Arians have been of opinion that the - words o wv žy TW ggarwshoulai be translated, who was in
heaven; and it is certain, that we is so translated in ch. ix. 25. of this gospel omi tupros wy, whereas I was blind,' &c. But others taking the words as they stand in our version, find no difficulty in explaining them. The following is a most masterly illustration of this passage on Socinian prin. ciples, which I shall therefore give at full length.
66 This text (John inj. 13.) is by many supposed to he quite conclusive, not only for the pre-existence of Christ, in that he is said to have come down from heaven; but as a proot' his deity, because an omnipresence peculiar only to God seems to be ascribed to him, viz. That whilst he was upon earth, he was at the same time also in heaven. And yet where persons have accustomed themselves to attend to i he peculiar, elevated language of holy scripture, bow different do the same phrases appear? An eminent person at the dawn of the Relormation, no enemy to what is called the divinity of Christ, did nevertheless so clearly perceive that our Lord, by these lofty expressions intended only to teach a very plain truth concerning himself, that he without scruple gave this interpretation of it to the public: Nul ne cognoit les choses celestes sors que moi, i. e. No one under. stands the things of God, but I only *.
“ There are three things here asserted by our Lord.
* Robert Stephans.
1. That no one had ascended up to heaven but himself. 2. That he the son of man, had come down from heaven. 3. That himself was then in heaven, even while he was speaking to Nicodemus.
A true and consistent account of these positions will give us our Lord's meaning in them. 1. This whole discourse with Nicodemus is in the
pro. phetic style, highly figurative. In the strict literal sense, it was by no means true, that no one had ascended up to heaven, but the Son of man;' for Enoch, the seventh from Adam, in all probability, and Elijah the prophet, bad cer. tainly been translated from earth to heaven. Neither was it true in the direct sense of the words, that the son of man' as here asserted, 'had ascended up to heaven.' We have no account in the scriptures from whence alone we can know aught concerning him, that he ever ascended to heaven but once, when he took his final leave of this earth and of his diciples. Some other sense of the words than is to be sought for, in which it might be said that the son of man had ascended up to heaven. Now as in our way of appre. hension, a man that would be acquainted with the secrets of the divine will, should go to heaven to converse with God; it hence comes that the phrase ascending to heaven casily signifies the being admitted to the knowledge of God's counsels. So Moses tells the Jews, that God had so clear. ly revealed his will to them from heaven by him, that there was no need for them to go up thither to be acquainted with it; Deut, xxx. 12. • It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say; who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?'
And Prov. xx.8. 4. • Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended,' i. e. who hath been made acquainted with the mind of God, with heavenly truth?
2. “ If ascending up to heaven is not to be taken lite. rally, neither is descending from heaven to be understood of a local descent. For the son of man, as it is here also asserted, could not come down from heaven, where he had confessedly never been. What then is the usual scriptural meaning of the phrase coming down from heaven? Now Matth. xxi. 25. Our Lord himself explains it, in his ques. tivn to the Jews; ''The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men ?' i. e, of divine or human institution or authority. John's baptism, therefore was from heaven,
because it was of divine appointment: and John Baptist himself came from heaven, because he had a divine authority or commission. So James i. 17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down (rataBaivov) from the Father of lights.' iii. 15, 17. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but the wisdom that is from above is first pure,' &c. John iii. 31. • He that cometh from above is above all, he that is of the earth, is earthly and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.” John the Baptist in this last citation speaks modestly and disparingly of his own authority and commission from God, compared with that of Christ, which was indeed far more illustrious and divine. John vi. 33. • The bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto the world. Ver. 51. I am the living bread, which came down from heaven.' Our Lord had be fore (ver. 27.) compared his doctrine to meat, which would nourish men in virtue, and bestow an immortal life upon them. He here calls himself that meat, the bread that came down from heaven, because he had a divine authority to teach men the gospel of virtue, holiness, and eternal life.
3. “. The son of man, who is in heaven.' The Son of man, who had never been in heaven, could not (properly speaking) be there. Dr. Clark, and others very judiciously refer to John i. 18. as a parallel passage; and understand being in heaven' to be the same as being in the bosom of the Father,' i. e. highly favoured by God: made acquainted with his benevolent counsels and designs. Grotius remarks here, that if the conversation of true Christians (Phil. iij. 20.) is said, whilst on earth, to be in heaven, with God: much more may this be said of Christ, who had continual extraordinary communications of wisdom and power from God. These words of Christ therefore do not relate to any prior state of existence before he was born of Mary, or to any supposed divine nature annexed to his human nature : but what he declares to Nicodemus, stript of that metapho. rical dress in which he thought proper to clothe it, is, that himself alone was admitted to the knowledge of the whole will of God, and authorized to reveal itto men.” *
* Mr. Lindsey's Sequel to his Apology, p. 213 to 219.
John v. 17. My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. For an explanation of this and the following verses turn to Dis. V. p. 52, 53, 54.
John v. 23. " That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.' Those who peruse the scriptures without consideration and reflection, or without attending to their scope and connection, are apt to imagine from this passage that the Son is to be honoured, with the same degree of honour that is due to the Father. But the Greek particle ragws rendered as or even As, by no means denotes an exact equality, but only a resemblance; as will appear from the following places. Eph. iv. 32. Be ye kind, forgiving one another (mat ws) EVEN As God in or by Christ hath forgiven you.' Chap. vi. 5. Ser. vants be obedient to them that are your masters, (ratws) As unto Christ.' 1 John ii. 6. “He that saith he abideth. in him, ought himself to walk, (ratws) Even walked.' Now the kindness and compassion of Christians to one another, is far inferior to the mercy and benevolence of Almighty God in the forgiveness of sin: nor is the obe. dience that servants owe to their masters so extensive and unlimited, as that which is due to Christ: and the piety. and virtue of the most exemplary persons falls exceedingly short, of the sinless perfection of our Lord's obedience. If then the particle As does not signify equality in those instances, why should it be thought to do so in the former case Our Lord also says, Matth. v. 48.
there, fore perfect, (WOTEP) EVEN As your Father which is in heaven is perfect; but no body ever imagined from this, that Christians were to aspire to the perfection of the Deity. Further, if we attend to what our Lord says, before and after, we shall find, that the honour and respect which be. longs to him, is very different from that which is due to the Father. Ver. 22, 23. For the Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.' The Son is to be honoured as a judge of the Father's appointment, and as his ambassador; a species of honour essentially different from that, which is the un. alienable prerogative of the Supreme Being.
John vi. 44. . No man can come to me, except the Fa. ther, which hath sent me, draw him: and I will raise him
up at the last day.' Christ will not raise the dead, by any power naturally residing in himself; but by the power of the Father communicated to him. For he tells us John v. 26. For as the Father hath life in himself: so baih he given to the Son to have life (or the power of raising the dead) in himself:' and in this same chapter, ver. 39. our Lord observes, “This is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing ;. but should raise it up again at the last day.' When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, we find him addressing the Father in this manner, John xi. 41, 42. “And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast
And I know that thou hearest me always; but because of the people which stand by, I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.' Again the
very resur. rection of our Lord himself, was effected by the Father's power. See Dis. V. p. 67, &c. No argument therefore can be formed for the divinity of Christ, from his raising the dead at the general judgment, since it is solely by a derived power that he will be enabled to perform it.
John viji. 58. Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am. This passage has been much insisted on by Trinitarians, as a proof of the Deity of Christ: and it has been urged that our Lord here applies to himself, the very words that Almighty God makes use of to denote his self-existent and independent nature : in Exod. iii. 14. “And God said unto Moses, I am that I am: and he said, thus shalt thou say, unto the children of Israel, I am hath sent me unto you.' It has been inferred therefore from this supposed application, that Jesus Christ possesses a divine nature, equally supreme and self-existent with that of the Father. But this notion is contradicted by the whole tenor of sacred scripture, in which our Saviour is declared to be a being produced by the power and will of the Father; and in all respects subservient to and dependent upon him. A great critic has shewn, that the words in Exodus translated in our version, 'I am that I am, and rendered by the Septuagint in a similar manner; do in the original Hebrew signify, Ero qui Ero “ I will be that I will be, that is, that God would perform whatever he had pro. mised; which translation plainly proves, that there is not the smallest connection betwixt this passage and the words