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I think they would. As they have not done so, I must believe that they made no such lofty claims.
In the eighth chapter, seventeenth and eighteenth verses, Jesus says, “It is written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.' This language plainly indicates that the Father and the Son are as distinct from each other as two men are. If John had been opposing Unitarian errors, and seeking to establish that doctrine, according to which the Father and the Son constitute but one being, would he not have accompanied this declaration of the Saviour with some explanation to render it consistent with that doctrine? He must have perceived that the most natural and obvious interpretation of the passage favored the opinion of those whom, by supposition, he was opposing. And perceiving it, is it not unaccountable that he did not add a comment, which might save it from perversion ? As he did not do so, I must conclude that the most natural and obvious explanation of the passage is the true one.
In the tenth chapter, 33–36 verses, the Evangelist, records the accusation which the Jews brought against Jesus of making himself God, and also the answer of the Saviour. Then was the time if ever, one would think, to vindicate his claims to Supreme Divinity. How does he improve the opportunity ? "Is it not written,' says he, 'in your law, I said ye are gods? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye
of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into
the world, thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?' What was it to his purpose to tell them that in their law, the word 'gods' was used in an inferior sense? Were he the Supreme Deity, that term might be applied to him in its highest se'nse. Or why should he found his claim to the humbler title of “Son of God, upon the fact that he was sanctified and sent by the Father, when in his own nature he was God himself. His answer is a virtual denial of the charge that he made himself God. If John then believed in the Deity of Christ, and was seeking to refute those who did not, would he have recorded this passage without explanation or comment? No reasonable person can suppose
that he would. The next passage to which I would call attention is the fourteenth chapter, twenty-eighth verse, in the last clause of which the Saviour declares, my Father is greater than I.' Here John's Unitarian opponents would have said, according to the Saviour's own declaration, he is not equal to the Father, he cannot therefore be God.' Had John written to establish the Deity of Christ, he must have foreseen this use of the words. Why then, did he not guard against it? No reason can be given on the supposition that he was opposing Unitarian errors. I conclude, therefore, that this supposition is false.
My next passage is the seventeenth chapter, twentyfirst verse, in which Jesus prays that his disciples may all be one, as thou Father, art in me, and 1 in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. Now if the doctrine of the trinity be true, would not the Saviour, or at least the Evangelist have declared, to prevent misunderstand.. ing, that there was a much closer and more intimate union between the Father and the Son, than that union of feeling and purpose, which he prayed might exist among his disciples,-even an union of nature,-a mutual participation of the same Divinity? I am confident that he would.
With one quotation more, I will close this examination of texts. In the twentieth chapter, thirty-first verse, John declares his purpose in writing his gospel. • These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that believing, ye might have life through his name.? If one great 'object in writing this gospel was to establish the doctrine of the Deity of Christ, why is it not mentioned here? Surely not because that was a subordinate and unimportant object. At least it is not so regarded by modern Trinitarians. Had this formed a part of his design, 1 carnot doubt that it would have been mentioned here. I conclude therefore, that this was not his purpose.
Modern Trinitarians explain many of the passages I have been considering, by saying that our Saviour had two natures, a human and a divine ; and that he might affirm of himself in one nature, what would not be true of the other. It seems to me, as it has seemed to many others, that this would be charging the Saviour with equivocation. It would suppose him to have made mental reservations, which those who heard him knew nothing of. It leads us away from our usual mode of interpreting language, according to which, when any person speaks of himself, we understand him as meaning the whole of himself, and not some unspecified part,
which we must find out by conjecture. Besides, if this were the true explanation, why has not the Apostle told us so? Why has he not given his readers this key, which, if the Deity of Christ be a doctrine of the Bible, is indispensable to the right understanding of his writings? It was what was wanted to silence his supposed adversaries. It would have saved much controversy in his own and subsequent times. Since the Apostle has not told us so, I conclude that this is not the true explanation, even were there no other reason against it.
In this examination, that it might not be tedious, I have passed over many passages, which, equally with the foregoing, seem inexplicable on the supposition that John wrote to confute an Unitarian heresy. It is a very remarkable fact also, that there is no book in the New Testament, from which so many arguments can be drawn, to prove the inferiority and dependence of Christ. These considerations, I think, are sufficient to authorize the belief that John's design in his gospel, and particularly in his proem, was not such as Trinitarians have generally supposed; that if he intended to oppose any heretics, it could not have been those who question the Deity of Christ; and that in explaining this contested passage, we must apply to it some meaning, consistent with the entire and unshared Supremacy of the Father,
This ominous name has long been used as a term of reproach among Christians. When any one is indifferent to things that ought to interest him, he is called a Gallio; as if in the well-filled treasuries of human malediction, no worse name could be found. But justice to an injured name, requires, that we should explain the incident which has brought upon Gallio a charge which he by no means deserved; for this person, who is so highly spoken of by heathen historians, was in truth a good example for any magistrate or any man. It is time to read scripture with more understanding, and to place no reliance on traditional impressions without ascertaining whether they are just and true.
The history of the transaction is this. When Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, St Paul determined to preach the gospel in Corinth, then perhaps the most refined of the Grecian cities. There were many Jews in the place, who, intolerant and exclusive though they always were, maintained their own worship under the liberal indulgence of the Romans. When the Apostle came, all their national enmity to Christianity was awakened; they seized him, carried him before the judgment seat, and accused him of worshipping God contrary to the law. He was about to repel the charge, but he soon found that it was unnecessary.
proconsul saw, that, allowing he had broken the Hebrew law, he had not violated the Roman, which only he was bound to administer, and he declares as much to the Jews. "If,' says he, 'it was a matter of wrong or in