Page images

6. In all these passages, the second clause is synonomous with the first. Secondly, we would admit, that the word Din this day, refers to the time contemplated in the preceding verse; i. e. the time in which Christ, the subject of the Psalm, was anointed, or inaugurated as king, on the holy hill of Zion; that is, to the time in which he was clearly set forth as King of Israel. The whole question is, does the passage declare that he was then constituted the Son of God, or was then clearly proved to be such? We prefer the latter mode of interpretation. First, because from the connection, these words do not appear to contain the inaugurating for mula, so to speak, addressed to Christ; but rather, the ground of the universal dominion which is committed to him. They form no part of the decree giving him universal dominion; they are merely the solemn introductory address. The sense is, Thou art my Son; therefore, ask of me and I will give theé universal dominion, &c. That is, these introductory words of the address express the dignity of Christ's person, and assign the reason, why he has the right and power to rule over all nations, and why all people should put their trust in him. In solemn discourse, such introductions are very frequent; and they often contain the reason or ground of what follows; as, "I am the Lord, that brought thee out of the land of Egypt; thou shalt have no other gods before me"; that is, because I am the Lord, &c. So here, because thou art my Son. This is agreeable also to the constant manner of the sacred writers, presenting the personal dignity of Christ as the ground of his universal power and authority. Since he is possessed of divine perfections, is the Son of God, of the same nature, therefore he is made universal King.

But again, if peculiar stress be laid upon the second clause, "I have begotten thee," it must be admitted, that it can with equal propriety be rendered, I have made thee my Son, or I have declared thee to be such. In other words, '77; may here be taken declaratively, according to the canon so fully illustrated by Glassius, Phil. Sacra Lib. III. Tr. III.

Can. 15. and which is of such frequent application in Hebrew. The meaning then would be, Thou art my Son, this day have I declared, or exhibited thee, as such. This view of the passage is given by Venema, by Morus in his Com. Exegeticus p. 260, by Anton, as quoted by Rosenmüller, p. 30 of Vol. I. Part. III. of his Scholia, by Kuinoel on Acts xiii. 32, and many others. We think the proper method of deciding which view of the passage is the most correct, is to inquire which is favored by the analogy of Scripture. Is Christ said to be constituted the Son of God, by his exaltation or resurrection; or, is his resurrection and exaltation given as evidence that he is the Son of God? Agreeably to the remark made in our last Number, the resurrection of Christ is almost uniformly presented, as the great decisive evidence of his Sonship, as well as of his Messiahship. See Rom. i. 3, 4, Acts, xiii. &c. He was neither made Son nor Messiah by his resurrection, but was thereby proved to be both the one and the other.

We think it clear, therefore, that no argument can be derived from this passage to show why Christ is called Son. It simply declares, that he is the Son of God; but what this imports, must we learn from other passages.

The words in 2 Sam. vii. 14, "I will be his Father, and he shall be my Son," are adduced as an argument on this subject. It is said, that it is not easy to conceive how a thing can be predicted as future, which has existed from all eternity. This is very true. But the point of the prediction is simply this; the king that shall arise, shall be my Son. So it is predicted that the Messiah should be the "Mighty God;" not that he was to become such, but was to be such. Whether 2 Sam. vii. 14, be referred to Christ, or Solomon, it is of no weight in this discussion. It simply declares, that the king that was to arise, should stand in a very near and tender relation to God. What that relation is, must be learned


Acts xiii, 32, 33, "We declare unto you glad tidings,

how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee," is considered as proving that Christ is called Son of God, in virtue of his resurrection, as the commencement of his elevation to supreme dignity. We question very much, even adopting the common translation of this passage, whether this be its proper meaning. According to our version, the point to be proved by the passage from the second Psalm, is indeed, that Christ has been raised from the dead. But this point is fully proved by this Psalm, according to our interpretation of it. It contains a prediction that God would clearly set forth the Messiah, as his Son. How was this done? In various ways, and among others with peculiar clearness, by his resurrection; as Paul elsewhere says, Rom. i. 3, 4. This passage therefore, according to our view of it, is as applicable to the apostle's purpose, as on the opposite one. But it is far from being certain that there is any reference in this passage (Acts xiii. 32, 33.) to the resurrection at all. The words avarandas ἀναστήσας Inσouv, rendered, "having raised up Jesus again," properly mean, "having raised up Jesus," which may express his being called into existence, or sent forth as the Messiah. The grounds for preferring this view of the passage are strong, if not conclusive. In the first place, the verb avionu when it refers to the resurrection, has commonly ex vɛxgwv, or some equivalent expression after it. 2. It is often used to express the idea of calling into existence; as Matt xxii. 24, "raise up seed." Acts iii. 22, "A prophet like unto me will God raise up." See also, Acts vii. 27. The verb ysgw is used in the same sense, see Acts xiii. 22, (and 23 according to the common Text.) 3. The context favors this interpretation. Paul is here endeavoring to prove that Jesus is the Christ. In verse 23, he asserts that of the seed of David, God, according to his promise, hath raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus. That Jesus is the Saviour, he proves first by

[ocr errors]

the testimony of John the Baptist, and secondly by the resurrection of Christ. The fact of his resurrection, he says, 31st verse, may be proved by those who saw him many days. Having thus established the point that Jesus is the Christ, he says, 'we declare unto you glad tidings, how the promise made unto the fathers, (what promise? why, the promise referred to in the 23d v. that God would raise up a Saviour.) God hath fulfilled unto us, in that he hath raised up Jesus.' There is no allusion here to the resurrection, for the promise to which the apostle had reference, was not that Christ should rise from the dead, but that a Saviour should appear; and of this the second Psalm is a clear prediction. The 34th verse makes this still plainer; for Paul, having announced to the Jews the glad tidings that the Saviour had come, turns to another subject, and says, " But that he raised him from the dead, (as he had asserted v. 30,)-he said on this wise, &c.;" and then goes on to prove that his resurrection was predicted in Ps. xvi. It seems clear, therefore, that verse 33 has no reference to Christ's rising from the dead, and consequently that Ps. ii. 7, is not quoted to prove that point. If this be the correct interpretation of this passage, it of course affords no argument in favor of the opinion that Christ is called the Son of God, on account of his being raised from the dead, and exalted as Messiah.

Such passages as Matt. xvi. 15, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," John i. 49, " Rabbi thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel," do not prove that Son of God, and Christ are synonomous, any more than the expression "Christ, the Saviour of the world" proves that the word Christ means Saviour. They prove simply, what no one denies, that Son of God was a very common appella. tion for the Messiah among the Jews; but they throw no light on its import or the ground of its application. In the great majority of cases, it is used very much as a proper name, and therefore, such cases prove nothing, one way or the other, as to its meaning.




WE acknowledge ourselves to be under many obligations to the stated Clerk of the General Assembly, for the manner in which he has prepared and published the Minutes of that body, for the present year as well as for several that are past. Although it does not fall within our immediate purpose, yet we cannot help giving him our thanks for his statistical tables. They now approximate to the truth; and it is no fault of his, that they are not entirely full and accurate. We had no adequate idea of the rapid growth of the Church to which we belong, until it was presented by the pamphlet annually published under his direction. The Presbyterian Church in the United States, stands before the country and the world as an important body of Christians. This remark is not made with a view to awaken sectarian confidence. Should we become proud of our numbers and strength, He who giveth grace to the humble, will know well enough how to bring us down, for He "resisteth the proud." We hint at the influence which Presbyterians may exert, to give some view of their responsibility, and of the extent of their obligations.

According to the Gospel, the ability of a man to do good is the exact measure of his duty. The same rule applies to societies. They are bound to do all the good in their power. How great then are the obligations of a Church consisting of One Hundred and Sixty Thousand communicants, com

« PreviousContinue »