« PoprzedniaDalej »
it is impossible to believe accounts be prejudged by such considerawhich contradict each other. The tions. The first question in this, New Testament cannot gain cre- as in other cases of the same kind, dit, any further than it agrees with is: "Has the forgery been really the Jewish prophecies, and its dif- committed at all?" And, when that ferent parts harmonize with each is determined in the affirmative, it other. Either the obvious sense will be time enough to investigate of the prophecies of Christ, and of the means by which it was effected, plain unequivocal passages in the or the motives which led to it. To New Testament, must be given up, this question, we plainly answer, and the whole exposed to the "No." We see the same reason charge of self contradiction, or the for admitting the disputed chappassages I have been scrutinizing ters as those which are undisputed. in the first chapters of Matthew They stand on the same authority; and Luke must be given up." and the character of the Apostles, therefore, is pledged upon the one as well as on the other. We still adhere, then, to the ancient faith-as we cannot but regard it— that Jesus Christ, being from all eternity consubstantial with the Father, yet for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was INCARNATE BY THE HOLY GHOST OF THE VIRGIN MARY.
It was natural to expect, when a writer sought to prove a twelfth or fourteenth part of two ancient works to be spurious, he would be prepared to produce some manuscripts which do not contain the disputed chapters, or some early suspicions of their genuineness, or, at least, some difference of style and manner, between the spurious and genuine parts of the narrative; but nothing of the kind is here attempted. The two former attempts would be impracticable; and, with respect to the latter, it must strike the most careless reader, that there is a characteristic difference of style between the writings of Matthew and Luke: and that this difference appears as remarkably, and is maintained as distinctly, in the introductory chapters as in any of the others. The whole of each Gospel harmonizes with itself; and there is nothing upon the face of either of them to authorize that violent disruption of their parts, which it is the object of these futile reason ings to recommend and practise.
Instead of any circumstances calculated to subvert this internal evidence, the author details, with some ingenuity, the various motives, under the influence of which, the forgery might be attempted. It is easy enough, however, to find motives, by which men may be induced to attempt any thing that is wicked. There may be many motives to induce one man to invade his neighbour's property, But no case must
There is one other part of the testimony of Scripture concerning Christ, to which our author has adverted, and on which, therefore, it is necessary I should follow him; and yet I shall be compelled to speak on it with great diffidence; because, in cominon, with all other parts of Scripture which are prophetic, and yet to be accomplished, it is of more difficult interpretation than those which are historical or didactic.
In 1 Cor. xv. 28, Saint Paul says: "When all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." My own conception of the meaning of this text (and I offer it with great humility) is, that our blessed Lord, who still retains, though in heaven, his human nature, and in that ca pacity acts with a delegated authority, will, as man, resign that authority, which, as man, he received, when the end of his com mission shall have been fulfilled; and that then, having brought many sons to glory, he will, per
haps, put off the nature which had only been assumed for that purpose: and God, without a Mediator, will be all in all his children. But, whatever may be the true scope and full force of this passage, (and I am far from thinking I have apprehended it with perfect ac curacy-perhaps, indeed, this, like many other prophecies, will never be fully explained, but by the event), I cannot admit the inference of our author, that the Son of Man will remain, from that time, "the first and most glorious subject in the Father's kingdom." Nothing is said in the text concerning the Son's remaining, or of his subsequent character or condition, but, only, what he will do at the time: namely, as our author has correctly explained it, that "he will resign his authority to that Supreme Being from whom he received it."
There are, still, some remaining arguments against the Deity of Christ, and in proof of his simple humanity, to which an answer is due. There are also other objections to the unitarian system, which, to me, appear perfectly insuperable. Among these, the following is one, stated by Mr. Wright him. self. "If Christ be a mere man, his death can be of no more value than the death of any other man." The reply which is attempted to this, is as follows: "The objector will admit, that it was the human nature only that suffered, and died; consequently, the death of Christ is of as much value, on the supposition of his being simply a man, as on any other hypothesis. His death is of more value than that of any other person, on account of its being the attestation of the Gospel, of his being the Messiah, of its connexion with his resurrection, of its having obtained such a glorious reward, and of the example it presents of patience and resignation under the deepest sufferings, of fortitude and benevolence under the greatest injuries." But, whatever might be the in
trinsic merit of our Saviour's death, in respect to the particulars here stated, it could have been of no value as an atonement, had he been no more than man. None of them can, by any means, redeem his brother, nor give to God a reason for him. (Psa. xlix. 7.) It is an unalterable part of the condition of a creature to owe all its obedience to the Creator, and consequently, to be incapable of any service which the command of the Creator would not render its duty, Whatever Christ did, therefore, still, if he were only a created being, however meritorious his services, he could have saved only his own soul by his righteousness; nor could be either offer a vicarious obedience, or suffer a vicarious penalty. Being, however, one with the eternal God, it was not due from him, to become man; and, therefore, whatever service he rendered in that character, he rendered gratuitously. He satisfied the demands of a law, which was not enacted for him, and made himself subject to penalties which had been denounced against others: whence the service, thus discharged, might be accepted for those for whom it was offered, and so God be just, even when he justified sinners; a consummation, however devoutly to be wished, under no other conditions to be attained by a sinner. It is too much, therefore, to say, "The supposed Divine nature of Christ is of no use in Christianity!" There may be many uses where we can discern none. But we see in the Divine nature of Christ, a qualification to make an atonement for the sins of others, not in that nature indeed, but by virtue of it: for that nature exempts him from the debt of obedience and service, which is due from every creature; and, thus, the service and obedience, which he actually paid, becomes voluntary, meritorious and available for others. These arguments, indeed, are of no weight with an Unitarian. They
may, nevertheless, have weight in themselves; and at all events he, who opposes our tenets, should be made to understand what they are. There are, however, some consequences, deduced from the Deity of Christ, which the author affirms to be sufficiently irrational or unscriptural, to overthrow all the evidence by which it is established.
First, "If this doctrine be true, Jesus was not made like unto his brethren; for they have simply one nature, but he two, and these infinitely dissimilar." It may be added, that they have a sinful nature, and he a sinless one; and other instances of dissimilitude might be pointed out, which make it necessary that the phrase, "all things," should be restricted here, according to the bearing of the subjectmatter to all things relating to the perfection of man's nature.
Secondly, "It diminishes the suitableness of his example; a being who had a proper Divine nature could not be affected by temptations, difficulties, and afflictions as we are." Yet, if our Lord was subject to hunger, thirst, pain, and difficulties, by reason of his humanity, this argument is at an end. Other wise, the admitted fact of his having fasted forty days, without hunger, would also diminish the suitable ness of his example.
Thirdly, "It weakens the evidence of our resurrection; his Divine nature might reclaim him from the grave, but we have no Divine nature to reclaim us." But how can this evidence be destroyed or impaired by a doctrine, which asserts, that Christ laid down his life of himself, and took it again, having first proposed the accomplishment of that miracle, as a test and sign, both of his power and of his will, to raise up our bodies also? If Christ were merely a man, his resurrection would prove nothing with regard to others, any more than the exemption of Enoch and Elijah from death can do. But, if he was God, and proved himself to
be so, by his resurrection, the case is different: for it is not simply maintained, that Jesus rose from the dead; but Jesus, when alive, foretold, that he should arise, and after he was dead he did rise; and thus, by verifying his words on this most remarkable occasion, gave credibility to them on others: and hence it is, that we not only believe, but know, that he, which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus. (2 Cor. iv. 14.)
But, if I wished to exhibit a plain proof of the tendency of Unitarianism to undermine our hopes, and paralyse our comforts, I could not easily find a stronger instance in point, than what occurs in the fol lowing statement.
"If Christ be simply one of the human race, the suitableness of his example, and the possibility of imitating him, must be evident. From what he has done we may learn that it is practicable to resist every temptation, and to do whatever God requires of us." What comfort then, or what hope, can we derive from this discovery? If it be possible to imitate him perfectly, if it be practicable to resist every temptation, and to do whatever God requires of us; still it remains true, that there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not. (Eccles. vii. 20.) Surely, if the obedience of Christ was the obedience of a mere man, bora like other men, of the sinful stock of Adam, instead of saving, it can only condemn the world, for not having done what he has proved to be practicable since every sin ner must read in the glory of Christ his own shame, deepened by the force of contrast. But our infer ence is of a different kind. We believe that he came into the world to satisfy the Divine justice by obeying and suffering for us, by obeying a law, not made for him, by suffering a penalty which he had not incurred; and then we say-"He that spared not his own
Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things" necessary for making that first gift effectual? (Rom. viii. 32.) "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through him, might be saved." (John iii. 17.) "If a man," says our author, "constituted like ourselves, by his undeviating obedience to God, and unwearied exertious for the good of mankind, even amid the greatest trials and most painful sufferings, hath attained the highest honour, power and glory, as the reward of his exemplary conduct, his example must furnish the strongest motives to the imitation of him, and, associated with the promises of the Gospel, must inspire the most lively hope that, by pursuing the same course, we shall attain a degree of the same honour, power, and glory." True: but if we do not, or have not done so: if we deviate from the perfection of that example in any, the slightest degree, then what becomes of the hope inspired by it? For it is written, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." (Gal. iii. 10.)
"But the case," continues Mr. Wright, "is materially altered by the supposition that he is a being of a different order to men. It would not follow, that, because a being, who was more than human, withstood every temptation, and did the whole will of God, therefore it is practicable for mere human beings to do the same." It is not practicable. Men have lost the will, and therewith the power, to withstand every temptation naturally; and we confide, we glory only in this, that Christ has purchased for us, grace to withstand temptation, and that we no longer come to the contest in our own strength, but in his who died for us and rose again. Therefore, "he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." (1 Cor. i. 31.)
(To be concluded in the Appendix.) CHRIST, OBSERV. No. 204,
For the Christian Observer.
Ir is often contended by the op-
men to embrace a new religion. How different would have been the schemes of the wise and learned from that which is here expressed by our blessed Saviour! I hear the votary of natural reason, the adorer of human learning and intellect, exclaim, Let your new religion be invested with the characters of deep philosophy; let it appeal to the dialecties of the logician, and the subtleties of human science. Thus will it make its way in the world. Ah, no- "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." I hear another exclaim; Adorn it with the splendid dic. tion of Greece and Rome; introduce it to the notice of mankind in the trappings of an overpowering eloquence; clothe it with the thunders of a Demosthenes, or the golden periods of a Tully; so will you attract converts and invite disciples. Ah, no-" And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." I hear still another, the admirer of earthly splendour, exclaim; Decorate your new religion with the splendour of rank, the refinements of eloquence, the magnificence of royalty; let it charm the eye and captivate the heart by its external pomp-and so shall it become popular, so shall it win universal suffrage and approbation. Still wrong-the ways of God are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts: he needed nothing splendid, or eloquent, or philosophical-the Cross of Christ was enough; and I, if I be lifted up.
The allusion in these words is, perhaps, either to the brazen serpent in the wilderness of Sinai, to which, whoever looked, was healed, and round which the wounded Israelites eagerly gathered themselves together; or to the lifting up of a standard to which the recruits of an army assemble to take the oaths of obedience and submission to their general. The Redeemer was literally as well as figuratively lifted up; being first nailed to the cross as it lay on the
ground, and then raised with it to suffer the ignominious death to which he had been sentenced. Now we might naturally have imagined that a spectacle like this— a Saviour expiring in agony, and disgrace, and contempt, would have effectually deterred men from becoming his disciples. If we behold his sorrow, his degradation, his humility; was there any thing in these to captivate the human heart? If we behold his visage marred more than any man's; his hands and his feet pierced with nails, and his side with the Roman spear
if we view him buffetted, and scourged, and spit upon; there any thing in this spectacle that could render him the object of esteem and confidence? See him condemned and crucified with malefactors: was there any thing in all this to add to the dignity of bis character, and to secure the good opinion of the world? Ask the proud man, whether he should have wished to become the disciple of this despised Outcast; ask the man of birth and family whether he should have wished to attach himself to one who was called in contempt "the carpenter's son;" ask the young, the gay, the thoughtless, whether they should have chosen to sit at the feet of him who taught the imperious necessity of humility and self-denial, and of a life of deadness to the world and the things of the world; and who prophecied, also, that it was through much tribulation that his disciples must enter his kingdom. Yet behold the event. The Cross, improbable as it appeared, became the standard of the church militant here on earth; and round it gathered kings and princes and nations, the rich and the poor, the wise and the ignorant, the young and the old; so that this despised Redeemer soon became the acknowledged and honoured Master of innumerable converts. In his life, while he was working miracles and doing such things as never man did-actions which un