« הקודםהמשך »
pleased to carry on and accomplish his purposes of love. We may not be able to tell why it would not be wiser to come at all his results at once, without steps, and without hindrance. But it does seem as if we had proof enough of his wisdom and goodness to believe, to trust that there is wisdom, that there is goodness in it, though our imperfect vision cannot compass it. I am ready to trust in God, and to believe that this laborious and tedious way by which we arrive at all valuable attainments, bodily, intellectual, and religious, is fitted 10 lead our race by a hardy education, a vigorous discipline towards truth and perfection and happiness, by the best and wisest course, that infinite love could suggest, that onniscience could devise, and almighty power accomplish. I cannot tell you how, I cannot tell you why it is so, but he who believes in God, and sees his hand in the plans and works and events of the universe, cannot but humbly and adoringly trust and believe that it is so.
How then ought we to stand affected by the differences that prevail in Christendom? and how by a view of the darkness and indefiniteness that envelope so many points of Christianity? Let us feel and think like reasonable men about it. How do we act in other similar cases? and our experience is full, nay, is made up of similar cases. Do you in other things conclude to have nothing to do with doubtful and disputed points ? Because the science of medicine is full of controversies and uncertainties, do you therefore deny the reality or worth of that science? do you renounce it, and never appeal to it for aid ? Because the science of politics is the favorite arena of contention and animosity, the di
vider of nations and councils, the most prolific parent of parties, and nurse of partisans, and itself the very genius of discord, do you therefore say, we will have no government, no legislation, no diplomacy-away with them?-I will not multiply instances, though the history of all men, and all times, and all advancement, is made up of such instances; but only ask that the same be done in the case of Christianity that we all do in other such cases. Slight not a blessing because it is imperfect. Be not indifferent to truth because you have not an angel's eye to receive the full and undimmed blaze of it at once. War not with the appointments of God, who has ordained, that in all things we must struggle for whatsoever is good, and wait till the appointed means have won it for us.
Take the light that is already attained, and walk in it, and seek for more. Open your eyes upon whatsoever light comes clear from heaven, and murmur not that the beams come not fuller, and faster, and more direct. There is enough of religious truth, known and plain, to walk by, and the wayfaring man, though a fool, may know and understand it. Einbrace this, follow this, gratefully and obediently, but forget not that all truth is precious and desirable, and be ever ready to receive it, when by any means it is brought out from the clouds.
ON THE PROEM TO ST JOHN'S GOSPEL.
Mr Editor: A great deal,-perhaps you may think enough already has been said and wrttten on that much contested and difficult passage, the proem to John's
gospel. The arguments coinmonly urged against its application to prove the Deity of Christ, are probably familiar to most of your readers. I would ask of you, however, the indulgence of a few pages, that I may state a course of reasoning which seems to me perfectly convincing on this point, and which I have never seen fully carried out and illustrated.
It is generally supposed that John wrote his gospel aster all the others, to supply their omissions and deficiencies. Trinitarians tell us that one of the most important of these deficiencies was a clear statement of the doctrine of the Deity of Christ, which, they affirm, has been furnished by John. It is moreover thought by distinguished critics of various sects, that the preface to his gospel was intended as an authoritative refutation of certain er.ors current in his day. Trinitarians assert that the error against which it was mainly directed, was the belief that Christ was a created and dependent being, inferior to the one only and true God. Now if one principal object of John in writing his gospel, and especially the Introduction to it, was to refute a dangerous error which had sprung up in the church, surely he would have been careful, throughout the gospel, to keep this end steadily in view. We may feel confident that he would not have said anything in the course of it which might be fairly construed as supporting the error he was intending to refute. If he did say anything which might be so understood, he would be very careful to qualify it, by showing how it right be reconciled with what he had declared elsewhere. Now the inquiry I wish to insti-' tute is this-Can the whole of John's gospel be ex,
plained in consistency with the belief, that to establish the doctrine of the Supreme Deity of Christ was one principal object in writing the gospel, and that the Introduction was intended to refute the opposite error? If it can, that circumstance will tend to confirm the trinitarian exposition of the passage. If it cannot, then we must give up that exposition, since no writer of common sense, much less an inspired one, could be supposed to contradict the very doctrine on which he most insists, and which it was his main object in writing, to establish.
I ask then, whether, when John says anything in the course of his gospel, which might easily receive an unitarian exposition, and be used as an argument in favor of unitarian opinions, he has been careful to explain his meaning, appearing sensible that if he did not, his adversaries, whom by supposition he had just been refuting, would take advantage of his expressions ? I think the examination of a few passages will convince us that he has not.
In the fourth chapter twenty third verse, Jesus says, But the hour cometh and now is, wlien the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Had the Evangelist's views and object been such as have been ascribed to him, would he have recorded this remark of the Saviour without explanation or comment? Would he not have perceived, at once, the use which his opponents might make of the words and have guarded against it? Would he not have anticipated their saying to him, 'If, according to your doctrine, the son is God, he also has undoubted claims to worship, Why then should not the true worshippers worship hin
as well as the Father? It seems to me that so obvious an objection could not have escaped his notice, and that he would have endeavored to explain what they regarded as an inconsistency. '
In the fifth chapter nineteenth verse, we find these words; "Then answered Jesus and said unto them, verily, verily I say unto you, the son can do nothing of hinself, but what he seeth the Father do;' and again in the thirtieth verse, 'I can of mine own self do nothing.' This also, is recorded without any explanation by the historian. But would he not have perceived that he was putting into the mouths of the beretics whom he was resuling, arguments against himself? They would say to him,—do not the words of Jesus, according to your own account of them, contradict the doctrine you have maintained ? If the Son is God how can he say, 'I can do nothing of myself?' Can we conceive that John should not have foreseen this use of the words ; or that forseeing, he should not have precluded it by an explanation? Does it not rather afford us grounds to believe that it never entered into his thoughts to inculcate the doctrine which has been ascribed to him ?
In the thirtieth verse of this same chapter, Jesus says, my judgment is just, because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father who hath sent me. If he were the Supreme God, would not his judgment be just when he sought his own will? If he had claimed himself, or the Evangelist had claimed for him the rank and honors of Deity, would not one or both have explained in what sense this remark could be true and how the apparent inconsistency was to be removed ?