« הקודםהמשך »
according to the Greek etymology, both discourse and reason. Le Clerc, in his notes
Here is an apparent allusion to the first verse in Genesis, where
. The Logos is here expressly called God. This may be compared with Romang ix. 5; where speaking concerning the Israelites, Whose are the fathers, and of whom concerning [according to] the flesh Christ came, who is over all
, God blessed for ever. Also to the same purjose, as the first of Hebrews, 8 and 9. But unto the Son he saith, thy throne, o God, is for ever and ever, a sceptre of righteousness (equity) is the sceptre of thy kingdomn. therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy 1 Here appears to be a distinction marked out between the Logos and the eternal
time of the creation.
Father. He is said to be with God; which implies a being, in some respect distinct, with whom he exists. He is thus described in the 18 verse, as the only begotten Son, who was in the bosom of thc Father.
V. The creation is here, in the most express terms, asserted to have been his work. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing (not one thing] made that was made. This expression seems to refer, not merely to the formation of this world, but also to the giving existence to angels, and every being, visible or invisible, which God has created. It is therefore a stronger expression, than that which is made use of in 10, 11, and 12 verses of the first chapter of Hebrews. And thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou remainest ; and they all shall war old as doth a garment. And as a vesture thou shalt fold them up, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
VI. From the whole of this passage it appears, that the divine Logos who was in the beginning, who was God, and yet, in some sense, distinct from the Father, who was the Creator of every dependant' being ; was made flesh and dwelt among men, residing in the body of Jesus, as in a tent or tabernacle; which is the express import of the verb, here translated, to dwell. The life which was in him was the light of men ; his human life being employed in communicating religious knowledge, and given up to accomplish the salvation of sinners ; and that eternal principle of life which he possessed, as God enlightening mankind; both as he is their maker, who has put into Their minds the light of reason ; and as he is the word of God, and author of revelation. This light has shined, in greater or less degrees, from the time of our first parents to the present, in the midst of an ignorant and corrupt world; yet wicked men do not comprehend and receive it : they however, who are obedient to his teaching, become the sons of God; and receive out of his fulness, grace for grace.
If it be said that Christ is God, not by nature, but by office; and that he ought not to be reverenced with the same adoration as is due to the eternal Father; it is difficult, as Dr. Macknight justly observes, to clear the evangelists and apostles, from the imputation of having laid in men's ways, a violent temptation to idolatry. For it is well known, that as in all ages men have been exceedingly prone to worship false gods ; 80 it was the prevailing vice of the world, when the New Testament was written ; that the grossest corruptions of the morals of mankind, have ever flowed from this poisonous spring, [Rom i. 24 ;] and that to destroy idolatry and bring mankind to the worship of the true God, was the great end proposed by God, in all the revelations which he made of himself to men. This being the case, is it to be imagined, that either Christ himself, who brought the last and best revelation of the divine will ; or his apostles, who delivered that revelation to writing ; would, on any occasion, liave used such expressions, as in their plain and obvious meaning, could not fail to lead, at least, the bulk of mankind to think, that the names, perfections, and actions of the true God, were ascribed to a creature ; and that the worship due to the truc God, was due to him ? [Heb. i. 6,] while in reality they meant no more, but that he was iniraculously formed : was commissioned to deliver a new religion to the world ; was endowed with the power of miracles ; and, in consideration of his exemplary life, was raised from the grave, and his divine honours conferred upon him. Instead of reforming the world, this was to have laid in their way such a temptation to idolatry, as they could not well resist. Nor has the effect been any other than what was to be expected; for the generality of Christians, moved by these expressions, have all along considered Christ as God, and honoured him accordingly.
If any one now object, that the representation of the incarnation of our Lord is beyond his comprehension, and therefore to him ineredible ; let him reflect seriously' on the work of creation. God is a Spirit, and between his infinite perfections, power, wisdom, holiness, and truth ; and the known properties of matter, hardness, extension, solidity, and figure; no resemblance can be traced : yet we believe, that he not only gave to matter its existence ; but caused it to assume that immense variety of forms, which it exhibits in the mineral, vegetable, and animated world. Since all this lag . certainly taken place; why should it be thought a thing impossible for Almighty God, so to unite himself to the nian Christ Jesus ; as that he, who every day displayed proofs of his humanity, should nevertheless be entitled, not merely by office, but by virtue of this union, to the title of Immanuel, God with us? We should learn, however, from our incapacity to comprehend this wonderful event, to abstain, as much as possible, in discussing this subject, from the use of unscriptural expressions ; and to hazard no assertions concerning it, which are unsupported by the easiest interpretation of the word of God.
The motives which influence a wise man, are always supposed to bear some just proportion to the magnitude of the work he undertakes": we must therefore conclude, that the manifestation of Deity in the flesh, was the effect of causes that deserve to be investigated. As they do not, however, all of them, lay open to our view; the vast imagination of Milton has endeavoured to supply this deficiency; and has enabled him, with but a few scattered passages of scripture to guide hinn, to produce an epic poem, that has raised him, in the judgment of some crítics, to a level with Virgil and Homer. A brief statement and examination of his hypothesis, will assist us in arranging our own ideas on the subject, and determining how far the generally received opinion is consistent with revelation.
Before this world was made ; while chaos occupied the space, which is now possessed by the heavens and earth ; the Almiglity Father was pleased to summon, round the place where his more immediate presence was displayed, the innumerable hosts of angels and archangels, and other exalted spirits who inhabited ihe regions of bliss. He then presented to them his only begotten Son, clothed in unspeakable brightness, and announced him as the king whom they were all to honour and obey. With this command they all appeared well pleased, and expressed their satisfaction by songs.
With Satan, however, this satisfaction was only seeming : for having persuaded the third part of the angels to withdraw with him, far from the holy throne ; he found means, hy declaiming against the new decree, and insinuating that they were uncreated beings, and therefore served only from choice; to induce them to shake off their allegiance to the Father, and oppose, by force of arms, the dignity of the Son. A long battle was fought in heaven; in which, though the good angels on the whole prevailed, the issue continued dubious ; till at length, the Son, for whom the Father had reserved the glory of that victory, came with irresistible power ; and commanding his legions to stand still on either side, drove, with his chariot and thunder, into the midst of his enemies ; and pursued them, unable to resist, to the farthest extremity of heaven. Incapable of remaining here, they fell into that dreadful abyss, which was prepared as their place of punishment. Here Satan and his angels lay for a considerable time, on the surface of a burning lake ; overwhelmed with horror, confusion, and astonishment. At length, their chief recovering his spirits, addressed his companions, comforting them with the hope of yet regaining heaven ; telling them of a new world and new kind of creatures, which, according to a report current among the angels, were about that time to be created ; and exhorting them to find out the truth of this latter prediction, and how they might turn it the most to their advan
tage. After sereral projects had been discussed and abandoned loy the infernal assembly; it was at length resolved, that Satan should undertake the long and perilous voyage, which was vecessary to accomplish the design that he himself bad suggested. The flight of Satan was not un perceived by the eternal Fatler ; who declared to his. Son, that though man was free to stand, Satan would be able to accomplish his fall; yet not into utter ruin, as there was reserved for him a portion of mercy. The Son of God rendered praises to his heavenly Father, for the manifestation of his gracious purpose towards the human race; but was answered, that grace could not be extended to man, without the satisfaction of divine justice ; that man would offend the majesty of God, by aspiring to divinity; and therefore, with all his progeny, must die; unless some one could be found sufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo his punishment. The Son of God freely offered himself a ransom for man; the Father accepted him ; ordained his incarnation ; pronounced his exaltation above all names in leaven and on earth, and commanded all the angels to adore him. They obeyed; and singing to their harps in full chorus, celebrated the praises of the Father and the Son. In the mean time, Satan, after having encountered various difficulties, found his way to the garden of Eden, and obtained a sight of Adam and Eve. He, at first, pitied their unsuspecting innocence ; then fell into inany doubts in what way to proceed ; and endured much torment from the passions of fear, envy, and despair : but at length confirming himself in evil, resolved to take such measures as might accomplish their destruction. Overhearing their conversation, he learned that the continuance of their happiness depended on their abstaining from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He therefore, in a dream, suggested such thoughts to Eve, as might prepare her to disobey the divine command. He was, however, for the present, disappointed ; and the angel Raphael descended from heaven, to acquaint our first parents with their danger. After some considerable delay, Satan entered the body of a serpent; in that disguise presented himself to Eve, and began with flattering her beauty. Pleased with the battery, and astonished at the speech and sagacity of the serpent; she enquired by what means he acquired this superiority of reason and utterance over the other animals. He ascribed it to eating the forbidden fruit ; and conducting her to the fatal trec, perBuaded her to try the experiment. She consented; and having tasted, found herself exhilarated by a kind of intoxication ; and fancying that she was now elevated to a divine dignity, sought out her husband, and persuaded him to follow her example, that he might enjoy her happiness. He saw her state to be atterly deplorable; but perceiving her lost, resolved, through excess of love, to perishi with her, and partook also of the fruit. They, after experiencing a very transient pleasure, became sensible of their logs, sought to cover their nakedness, and then fell to variance and accusing one another. Satan, however, and his hateful companions, only found their misery increased by the success of their designs ; but sin and death inmediately took possession of this world, and various alterations were produced in the seasons and elements. After giving way, for some time, to discord and despair ; the two great parents of mankind sought peace with God, by repentance and supplication. The Son presented their prayers to his Father, and interceded for their pardon ; God accepted them, but declared they muet no longer continue in Paradise ; and sent Michael with a band of cherubim to dispossess them, but first to comfort them with the prospect of futurity. This errund Michael performed, shewing to Adam, in vision, the Iristory of mankind till the universal deluge; and then telling him of the most important events which should happen to the world till the call of Abraham, and to the chosen people of God till the incarnation of the Messiah. Having described the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Son of God; and communicated something of the same intelligence to Eve, in her sleep : he
led them out of Paradise, the fiery sword waving behind them, and the cherubim taking their station to guard the place. Our first parents submitted with humble Tesignation, having the wide world before them, and confiding in the merciful protection of providence.
The fall of our first parents, for which Milton thus ingeniously labours to account, is related by Moses with the utmost conciseness and simplicity. He tells us, that God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul. He was immediately placed, by his Creator, in a garden, which was planted in Eden, to dress and to keep it. As it was proper that his obedience should have some trial, and the circumstances in which he was placed were $0 widely different from those of succeeding generations, as to render impossible the exercise of the virtues, and the commission of those vices, which have since been deemed of the greatest importance ; he received a single prohibition, every way suitable to the infancy of human nature. God commanded him, saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat : But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it ; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surcly die, Eve was afterwards created, to be a companion to Adam : she shared with him in the enjoyment of Eden, and the government of the inferior animals; and we naturally suppose, was instructed by her husband, concerning the tenure by which their happiness was held. After recording the creation of woman ; Moses proceeds, in the following words, to give us the history of the fall. Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field, which the Lord God had made : and he said unto the woman, yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden ? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But of the fruit of the tree, which is in the midst of the garden ; God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die ; for God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise ; she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.
Though the serpent only is here mentioned as the tempter ; yet, as the conduct attributed to him is very different from that which might be expected of a brute, it has been almost universally believed by Christians, that he was only the involuntary instrument, employed by one of those angels who did not keep their first estate, but are reHrved in chains of darkness against the judgment day. This opinion is confirmed by. different passages of scripture. In the book of Revelations, the names of old serpent, devil, and Satan, are used as synonymous ; and Jesus Christ, in his conversation with the Jews, as recorded in the eighth chapter of John, says, Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do ; he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him ; when he speaketh a lie, le speaketh of his own : for he is a liar, and the father of it. Thus far, therefore, the hypothesis of Milton appears to be well. founded, but we dare not be equally answerable for the whole of his system. · Hlow moral evil first found residence in heaven, is an inquiry, which in this state of imperfection, we shall never be able to pursue as far as eertainty; and the battle of Michael and his companions with the apostate - spirits, 2s described in the Apocalypse, is evidently a prophetical representation of some remarkable event, in which both the church and world were to be deeply interested.
The following are some of the consequences ascribed, in scripture, to the first act of disobedience. 1. The sentiment of shame, which is scarcely to be accounted for on any other principal. And the eyes of thein both were opened, and they knew that they