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JOHN xvii. 3.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the
only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.
HAVING in our seventh, eighth, and ninth discourses, replied to the objections of Trinitarians, drawn from the Old Testament, and the Evangelists; we enter to day upon the consideration of the objected passages, in the other books of scripture; viz. in the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles of St. Paul and others, and in the Apocalypse or Revelation of St. John. The first place which occurs to us in the order of the sacred books, is the following.
Acts vii. 59. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon (God) and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' Admit. ting that the word God, were rightly understood here, it could not be proved from it, that Stephen called our Lord Jesus Christ, God. For as in the supernatural vision with which he was favoured, he saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at his right hand, he might call upon or address God the Father, and recommend his spirit to the care of Jesus at the same time. But the word God, does not occur in the original Greek, and was put in Italics by our translators on that account. Nor is there any neces. sity for inserting it, as the sense is very complete without it, and the passage inay be rendered thus, ' And they stoned Stephen invoking, and saying, Lord Jesus receive my spirit.' In this, or a similar manner, it is rendered in the Vulgate, and several oriental versions. * Our Lord's being Vulg. “ And they stoned Stephen invoking and saying, Lord
described in the preceding verse, as standing at the right hand of God; and Stephen's addressing him on this occa. sion, is no argument for the divinity of Christ. For God being a spiritual being, has not, properly speaking, a right hand or a left: and to stand or sit at his right hand, only denotes, a state of bigh dignity and exaltation in heaven. Besides the very expression, standing at the right hand of God, implies, that Jesus Christ is a distinct and separate being from God; and that he is not of the same essence or substance with him. And it was extremely natural, for the first excellent martyr Stephen, to recommend his spirit to the protection of his Lord and Master, whom he saw with his eyes in a state of heavenly glory. But it is observable that Stephen (ver. 56). calls Jesus even in this state of exaltation, the son OF MAN, a. term very different from that of the most high God, and utterly inapplicable to the Supreme Being
Acts xx. 28. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock,, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. We have before shewn that the holy Spirit denotes, either the Divine Being, even the Father himself; or his power, influences, energy, and ope. rations, and therefore shall add nothing more upon this subject. If the church of God, were the true reading in this place, it would only prove, that Jesus Christ, may be called God in the inferior sense; or that the blood of Christ may be called the blood of God, because it was the blood of his Son, whom God sent into the world, and permitted his blood to be shed for the benefit of mankind. For tho Supreme Being himself cannot be incarnate, and therefore has no blood to shed; he cannot die, for he is the author and source of life and happiness to the whole creation. And this would be a sufficient reply to our opponents, al. though the present reading could not be objected to. But there is great reason to call in question the genuineness of the present reading. It is indeed supported by a few maJesus, &c.” Syriac. “Therefore they stoned Stephen, whilst he prayed, and said, our Lord Jesus, &c.* Arabic, " And they stoned Stephen, praying, and saying, O Lord Jesus, &c." Ethiopic. And Stephen exclaimed, saying, my Lord Jesus, &c." Walton's Polyglot Bible.
nuscripts, but these not the best nor the most ancient, with the Vulgate, one or two oriental versions, and the testimonies of several fathers. One MS. reads the • church of the Lord God,' another, the church of God and the Lord,' and several . the church of the Lord and of God,' and the most ancient Syriac version, the church of Christ.”. But the manuscripts of the greatest value and antiquity, read simply (Toy Euxinolgy Tou Kupsou) the church of the Lord," and a great many Fathers, and some versions, join in the
So that this reading is the best supported of any, and is therefore in all probability the original words of St. Luke: and the passage will run thus : ' Feed the church of the Lord (Jesus) which he hath purchased with his own blood.'
Rom. ix. 5. - Whose are the Fathers, and of whom-as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all: God blessed forever. Amen." In our sixth Discourse p. 79. we pointed out the true meaning of the expression rata capra, concerning the flesh, or according to the flesh, and shewed that it does not signify according to human nature, but according to carnal descent. The words, God over all, if applicable to Christ would only signify, that the Father had made him Lord and Christ, and constituted him' a God, or ruler over all. For all the power and authority of Christ ‘is derived from, and dependent upon, the God and Father of all, who hath highly exalted him, and given him a name that is above every name, Phil. ii. 9, &c. But the Greek words (ο ων επι παντων θεος ευλογητος εις τους αιωνας αμην,) are of ambiguous construction, and may be rendered either as our translators have done ; or by putting a full stop after the words. Christ came, may run thus, God who is over all, be blessed for ever. Amen:' or thus, Who (Christ) is over all, God be blessed for ever. Amen' In his last method Mr. Locke has paraphrased them.
If either of
* The manuscripts that read simply the church of the Lord,' are the following, viz. The Alexandrine, Ephrem, Cambridge, Codex Bodlejanus or Laud. 3, and five more. The Coptic and Armenian ver sions, the later Syriac in the margin, with the apostolical constitutions, also follow the same; as do, (in places referred to by Wetstein, Irenaeus, Didymus, Eusebius, Athanasius, Chrysostom, Animonius, Jerom, Augustin, and several other ancient writers. See Wetstein and Griesbach in loco. Where a treasure of criticism on this passage may be found.
these two last translations are adopted, it will be the Father and not Christ, that is bere styled, God over all. And in favour of them, the use of the word eu oyntos, blessed, in scripture, may be alleged. Mark xiv. 61. Art thou the Christ the Son of the blessed ? 2 Cor. xi. 31. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for evermore,' &c. See also Rom. i. 25. 2 Cor. i. 3. Eph. i. 3. 1 Pet. i. 3. In all which places the epithet blessed is either appropriated to, or must be understood of the Father. The Amen too which the Apostle adds, applies better to a duxology than a narrative. It appears that this place, was read in this or a similar manner, in the first ages of the church, from the language of several an. cient writers. To call Christ, the God over all, is declared in the apostolical constitutions, and epistles of Ignatius, to be heretical. Origen says it is rashness to suppose him to be so, as being inconsistent with Christ's own words,
My Father is greater than I.' And Eusebius, through all his books against Marcellus, lays it down as the constant known doctrine of the church, that Christ himself is not, (ο επι παντω νθεος and o επεκεινα των ολων θεος,) • the God over all ;' but that these are the peculiar titles of the Father, And he particularly affirms, that whosoever applies these titles to Christ cannot be a pious person.” The testimonies of these ancient writers, must be allowed to be of con. siderable weight; and they shew that in their time the words, ‘God over all,' were not applied to Christ; and also that a great and remarkable distinction was made betwixt bim and the Father. t
Rom. x. 12. For the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.' The Lord over all here men. tioned, appears in be the Father, who in the ninth verse is said to have raised the Lord Jesus from the dead: but
* Dr. Clark's works, Vol. 4. p. 46. Lond. 1738.
+ Schlitingius, and after him Dr. Whitby, Dr. Taylor, and others, have conjectured, that a transposition might have happened in the Apostle's words, and that he originally wrote, wx o, instead of, ow si mayma Osos, in which case the sense of the passage would be this ;
Whose are the Fathers : of whom as concerning the Aesh Christ came; whose is the God over all blessed for ever. Amen.' This conjecture is extremely ingenious, and would make a very noble sense. But it is not supported by the authority of any MSS.
Christ undoubtedly is under God and by his appointment Lord over all: for we are told Rom. xiv. 9. To this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. Rom. xiv. 10, 11, • We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, as I live saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God.? See this place explained Dis. VIII. p. 129, 130.
i Cor. i. 2, “With all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours. To
the name of Christ, or address him by prayer, als though we were to understand these words in this sense, would afford no proof of the divinity of Christ, or his equa, lity with the Father. For God may reveal to Christ in heaven, the wants and necessities of Christians here below, in the same manner as he communicated to him the knowledge of the human heart, while he lived on earth. But there is no necessity for understanding the words, in this
For as a learned writer observes, 6 to call on the name of Christ, is a phrase used in a great variety of senses, and with other synonimous expressions, sometimes signifies, 1. believing on him, acknowledging him as our Saviour, openly professing ourselves Christians, or being baptized in his name ;- 2. invoking his name upon diseased persons, in order to a miraculous cure; sometimes 3. praying in his name, or through his intercession; sometimes 4. directly calling upon or invoking bim. Acts vii. 52." * This last sense relates to Stephen, the only instance alleged, where. in calling upon Christ signifies directly invoking him. And as his case was peculiar, being favoured with a vision of our Lord, it cannot apply to other persons unless they were placed in the like circumstances. Another learned writer, has the following comment upon this place. the name of Jesus Christ, etiraneblai, signifies to be sirnamed, Maith. x. 3. Luke xxii. 3. Acts i. 23. and iv. 36. and in many otber places; and so in a passive not active signification. Agreeable to this, επικαλεισθαι ονομα Ιησε Xpuse is to be called by the name of Jesus Christ,' as an agnomen or supernomination, which notes the special rela. tion we have to bim; as the spouse of that husband whose
16 Call upon
* Dr. Clark's works, Vol. 4. p. 73, 74.