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tural language, denote only his taking upon himself an office, immutably predetermined indeed in the counsels of God, but yet actually commencing in time. Should this be the import of the term, the office in question would clearly be that of the agent or spokesman or messenger of Jehovah : and the Word would then be begotten, when he proceeded from what the apostle calls the bosom of the Father for the purpose of executing that office. Now, that he so proceeded in order to create the world, we are expressly assured : and accordingly we are told, that he was the first-born of the whole creation or rather born previous to the whole creation. But this does not require us to suppose any emanation of the Word from the essence of the Father: it imports no more, at least it does not necessarily import more, than that he left the bosom of the Paternal Deity in his office of an organ or messenger, that in consequence he is nietaphorically said to have been begotten or born into that office, and that the use of this metaphor led to the use of the relative terms Father and Son. Our Saviour's own language seems to cons firm such a view of the question. I proceeded forth and came from God: neither came I of myself, but he sent me." No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven ; the Son of man, which is in heaven. The Father himself loveth you ; because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I
Coloss. i. 13-17. Gr. πρωτοτοκος πασης κτισεως. 2 John viii. 42.
3 John iii. 18.
came forth from the Father, and am come into the world : again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.' These expressions clearly do not refer to any emanation or generation from the divine essence, but to the Son's leaving the bosom of the Father that he might fulfil bis high purposes of mercy in the quality of his Angel or Messenger.
The present view of a most intricate subject has at least the merit of freeing it from some difficulties. According to this view, the Son is inferior to the Father, neither in point of nature nor as being only an emanation from the primordial fountain of Deity, but simply in point of office before the worlds, and complexly in point both of office and of his manhood after the worlds had been created. His inferiority therefore is no more, than if one king should freely and without constraint agree to act as the servant or organ of another king. In nature, in essence, in self-existence, he is the fellow of the invisible Jehovah : in majesty equal, as it is well expressed in that sound form of words the Athanasian creed; in glory co-eternal. Hence, if he be self-existent (and it is impossible to form an idea of a God, who is not self-existent); all the perplexities, relative to what has been called his generation or his filiation, will vanish. The term begotten relating only to his figurative birth into an office, all the theory, which is founded upon a different exposition of the term, will disappear with the exposition itself.
• John xvi. 27, 28.
After a somewhat similar manner, we ought perhaps to understand the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father according to the Greek Church, from the Father and the Son according to the Latin Church. We are not bound to believe from any thing which is said of him, that the Spirit is more an emanation than the Word. Tbe Son is the only-begotten of the Father, because he is born into a special office which he alone executes : the Holy Ghost proceeds or goes forth from the Father and the Son, secretly and invisibly to proinote the work of grace, but not to reveal hinself after the manner of the Word or Angel of Jehovah.
Far be from me the presumption of saying, that such must be the import of the term begotten. On a question of this abstruse nature, we are and must be greatly in the dark. I venture not to assert, that the doctrine of the Word's filiation is false ; I only contend, that it cannot be demonstrated to be true ; because it is wholly built upon the
gratuitous assumption, that the terin begotten bears a particular meaning when it is capable of bearing quite a different meaning. At the same time, if the doctrine of the Word's filiation be true (and God alone can determine, whether it be or be not); that filiation must be eternal : and I shall have rendered some service to the cause of sound theology, by demonstrating in opposition to Mr. Bryant, that the idea of an eternal filiation, so far from being self-contradictory, cannot in fact be separated from the idea of an eternal generator.
3. It is evident, that this view of the matter deprives Mr. Bryant's opinion of all the force, which it might be thought to derive from the text, Thou art my Son, THIS DAY have I begotten thee. For, even if we acknowledge its allusion to an event which occurred before the creation of the world; we are still no way bound to suppose, that it relates to what has been called the filiation of the Word. But, in reality, that eminent scholar has totally mistaken the import of a text, which he places in the very forefront of his battle, and which he plainly deems a host in itself.
We have the inspired authority of an apostie for applying this famous passage, not to any generaton of the Son from the Paternal Deity, but to the resurrection of Christ or his mystical birth from the womb of the grave. When the Jews, says St. Paul, had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a sepulchre. But GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE
And 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 RAISED UP JESUS AGAIN; even as it is written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.' The present remarkable passage requires no comment. St. Paul declares, that THIS DAY means the day of Christ's resurrection ; and asserts, that the promise, made to the fathers in the
"Acts xiji. 29, 30, 32, 33.
second Psalm, was accomplished when our Saviour rose froin the tomb. Hence it is evident, that one at least of the senses, in which the Word is said to have been begotten of the Father, is that of a figurative birth from the womb of a sepulchre: and, since this is undeniably the case, we are naturally led to suspect, that any other sense, in which the expression is used, is analogical to it; we are naturally led to suspect, that the expression denotes not any emanation from the essence of the Father, but only a departure from his bosom in order to enter upon the functions of a new though eternally predetermined office. To such official departures, as the Messenger of Jehovah, the prophet Micah seems to allude, when he says of the Messiah, that his going forth are from of old, from the days of the age.' By the age he means, I apprehend, the period during which the world has continued ; and, by the various goings forth, the several manifestations of the Word either to create the universe or to superintend his grand scheme of
grace. 4. In favour of his peculiar opinion, Mr. Bryant asserts, that not a single text can be adduced to prove the retrospective eternity of the Word, as a distinct person ; the Scripture speaking only of his thus existing anterior to the creation, which is very different from his having thus existed eternally.
Such an assertion has been made with less caution, than this excellent writer usually displays :
1 Micah v. 2