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AD 07 was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is pre
ferred before me: for he was before me.
X. Lastly, from the fulness, (ilnpóuari, the favourite word among the Gnostics,) of this only and first begotten Son of God, all were to receive grace upon grace: that is, all, of every kind and degree, who believe in Christ, and called in this life, to be partakers of his grace, and to the hope of his glory.Consequently that error of the Gnostics was to be rejected, which taught that the adherents of their sect only, who had been initiated into the mysteries of their philosophy, could aspire to the highest happiness of the first fulness of the Divinity; and allotting an inferior degree of happiness to the souls of all other believers.
In addition to the Jews, and the heretics of his day, the third class of persons to whom St. John addressed his Gospel, were his contemporaries among the primitive Christians. The word Logos has been supposed by many to have been used in several passages of the New Testament, in the same sense as in this passage of St. John. Luke i. 2. Acts xx. 32. Heb. iv. 12. Apoc. xix. 13. are particularly adduced (e). If from the writers of the New Testament we turn to the Apostolic Fathers, we shall find, that, though their testimony is express in favour of the divinity of Christ, their evidence is not deduced from the doctrine of the Logos. The reason of this might be, that St. John had in their opinion so completely decided the question, that the necessity of their resuming the argument had been superseded. The Fathers who succeeded to the Apostolic age, however, lived at a time when the discussions respecting the identity of the Messiah and the Logos required further attention; and we accordingly find that from the time of Justin Martyr to Athanasius, the works of the Fathers abound with arguments in proof of this fundamental doctrine of Christianity. The greater part of these authorities are contained in the works of Bishop Bull (f). I have selected a few of these to complete the list of evidences in support of the
(e) Witsius comes to the same general conclusions as those adopted in this note. He says that Luke i. 2 refers to the Logos, as well as Acts xx. 32. and Heb. iv. 12. After enumerating the arguments in defence of, and against this opinion, he hesitates to decide in favour of either. “Si mea mihi hic quoque dicenda est sententia, equidem fateor tam speciosa in utramque partem argumenta videri, ut utra eligenda foret animo hæsitaverim." See the treatise of Witsius, Ilæpi tâ Abyog, in his Miscellanea Sacra, vol. ii. p. 87. (f) The Defensio fidei Nicenæ of Bishop Bull, and the other works of the same great writer, edited in one volume folio, by Dr. Grabe, are a complete collection, from which Bishop Horsley and others have drawn many of their irrefragable arguments. There is little or nothing in the improved version of the New Testament, Lant Carpenter's Unitarianism, the Doctrine of the Gospel, or in the Racovian Catechism, which has not been either answered, or anticipated, by this profoundly learned writer. The following is the title of the thesis which he lays down and defends in his first section, to which I am now alluding. “Jesum Christum, hoc est, eum qui postea Jesus Christus dictus est, ante suam épavēpurnoiv, sive ex beatissimâ virgine secundum carnem nativitatem, in naturâ alterâ, humanâ longe excellentiori, extitisse ; sanctis viris, velut in præludium incarnationis suæ, apparuisse; Ecclesiæ, quam olim sanguine suo redempturus esset, semper præfuisse, ac prospexisse ; adeoque a primordio omnem ordinem divinæ dispositionis (ut Tertullianus loquitur) per ipsum decucurrisse : quin et ante jacta mundi fundamenta Deo Patri suo adfuisse, -perque ipsum condita fuisse hæc universa, Catholici doctores trium primorum sæculorum uno omnes ore docuerunt." Defen. fid. Nic. p. 7.
16 And of his 'fulness have all we received, and grace A. D. 97. for grace.
Written at -Ephesus.
t Col. i. 19. doctrine, that the Logos of St. John was the Angel Jehovah of the Jewish, as certainly as it was the Messiah of the Christian, Church.
“ He who appeared to Abraham under the tree in Mamre," says Justin Martyr, in his Dialogue with Trypho, “was Christ. He was the Lord, who rained down from the Lord fire and brimstone out of heaven. He it was who appeared to Jacob in his sleep, who wrestled with him in the form of a man, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush.”
Irenæus also has laid down the same doctrine as Justin, concerning Him who appeared to Moses and to Abraham. “He," says Irenæus, “who was worshipped by the prophets as the living God, He is the Logos of God who conversed with Moses, and of late reproved the Sadducees. Man had already learned, in the example of Abraham, to follow the Word of God; for this Patriarch followed the command of the Word, freely offering his dear son a sacrifice to God."
Theophilus of Antioch declares that it was the Son of God who appeared to Adam immediately after his fall, taking upon him the form of the Father, even the Lord of all (g).
Clemens Alexandrinus repeats the same things as Justin ; and, from that time to the present, the same opinion has prevailed. The Chaldee paraphrases have asserted of the Word, the same things which the Old Testament declares of the Angel Jehovah, and which the Christian Fathers declare of Christ. The Word of God was the term by which both the Jews and the Christians recognised this divine personage. Many other writers could be quoted to prove the same point, if accumulative evidence were essential to conviction in an argument of this nature.
In addition to the evidence derived from this source, we might mention the manner in which the writers of the New Testament allude to those passages in the Old Testament which refer to the Jehovah Angel (h). Thus Isaiah saw in a vision the glory of Jehovah in the temple. In John xii. 41. John declares that the glory which the prophet saw, was the glory of Christ ; plainly affirming thereby that the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Christ of the New, was the common God of both dispensations (i). St. Paul alludes to this doctrine
(g) So I translate rò apóOWTOV TË Tarpos kai kvpis tūv wv, according to Granville Sharp's rule : '“When two or more personal nouns of the same gender, number, and case, are connected by the copulative kai, if the first has the definitive article, and the second, third, &c. have not, they both relate to the same person." (h) See particularly on this subject Scott's Christian Life -a treatise on the Angel Jehovah, at the end of his second book-Works, folio edition. See also Faber's Horæ Mosaicæ, vol. ii. sect. i. cap. 2. The whole chapter is admirable. (i) I have not thought it advisable to enter into the criticisms of the Unitarian writers on this and many other passages which I have referred to. We are told that in some few manuscripts the reading is Oeóv, in other few kúplov. Yet the greater proportion has the usual reading xoisov. I have been rather anxious to exhibit the ancient, universal, and, as it appears to me, the undoubted faith of the Christian and Jewish Churches, without needlessly entering into verbal criticisms, or the wilful misinterpretations of the enemies of the divinity of Christ. I do not undervalue the minutest verbal criticisms. On the contrary, we are under infinite obligations to the laborious writers who have
A. D.97. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth
- came by Jesus Christ.
also, when he applies to Christ the expression of David (Ps. Ixxvii. 56.)“ they tempted and provoked the most high God." “ Neither let us tempt Christ," says St. Paul, “as some of them also tempted" (k). On such passages as these, and on the application by our Lord to himself of many of those phrases by which Philo and the Chaldee paraphrases were accustomed to designate the Word of God, or the Angel Jehovah, the primitive Christians founded this opinion. Their principal reasons, perhaps, in addition to these, were derived from the manner in which St. Paul, still more decidedly, applies to Christ such expressions as “the image of God," " the glory of God," " the image of the invisible God," “ God manifest in the flesh.” Reasoning from these and similar expressions, the primitive Christians justly concluded that the Logos of the Targumists and Philo, and the Christ of the New Testament, were the same as the Angel Jehovah of the Jewish Scriptures.
The fourth class of persons, whom St. John may be supposed to have addressed, were the unconverted heathen. Of these the more ignorant were familiar with the doctrine of the incarnations (1), and the Evangelist might de
attended to this part of theological literature ; but, after perusing with some attention much of the Unitarian controversy, I cannot but repeat my conviction, that the oppugners of the Divinity of Christ have been guilty of wilful misrepresentation, both of the arguments of their opponents, and of the plain text of the Christian Scriptures. (k) For an account of the manner in which the original ideas concerning an incarnation became perverted among the ancient nations into the vulgar and foolish stories related in the Metamorphoses of Ovid, and in the silly legends of the later Pagans, vide Faber's Origin of Pagan Idolatry. So prevalent were these notions among the Heathen, that Dr. Townson ingeniously supposes that St. Luke, who wrote his Gospel for the converted Gentiles, has avoided a word which was adopted without hesitation by the two other Evangelists. In his relation of the transfiguration, St. Matthew, who wrote for the Jews, has used the term (Matt. xvii. 2.) kai pete popoúon du a poodev avrov, &c. St. Mark, who wrote for the Proselytes of the Gate, who had embraced Christianity, and who were well acquainted therefore with the opinions of the Jews, and were not likely to be misled, has used the same phrase. But St. Luke, in describing the same event, has used a word which seems to have been cautiously selected-TÒ eidos tã a poobT8 àUTOÙ [Tepov. Townson on the Gospels, vol. i. (1) I have never met with any arguments which militate against the opinion I have espoused (chiefly on the authority of that once highly esteemed, but now neglected work, "Gale's Court of the Gentiles,”) that Pythagoras, during his travels into Chaldæa, Syria, Egypt, and Palestine, conversed with the Jews then partly in captivity at Babylon, partly dispersed in Egypt, and partly remaining in their own land; and that he learned from them much of his discipline, and many of those opinions which gave rise, in their different variations, to the principal schools of philosophy in Greece. Gale traces the original idea of a Logos to the times of Pythagoras. Plato, the Stoics, and others, derived their notion of a Logos, which, however, in the lapse of ages, had become perverted and corrupted, from this primary source. Plato acknowledges that be received many mysteries from the ancients, which he did not understand, but expected some interpreter to unfold them. The reader who would engage in the study of the ancient metaphysicians, or speculators, or philosophers, by whatever name they are called, may derive ample entertainment in Cudworth's Intellectual System, Gale's Court of the Gentiles, and Philosophia Generalis, Enfield's History of Philosophy, and their original authorities.
18 " No man hath seen God at any time; the only be- A.D.97.
Ephesus. sire, when any of them should become converts to the Christian religion, that I Tim. vi.16.
1 John iv. 12. they should have correct ideas of the incarnation of the eternal Word. The more educated of the Heathen were of course well acquainted with the popular philosophy of their day (m), and would learn also, should they ever be brought to a knowledge of the truth, that the only real doctrine of the Logos was that which was maintained by the Christian Church, and is so satisfactorily set down by St. John in the commencement of his Gospel.
Thus does it appear, from a careful investigation of the principal authorities that can be now collected, that the Preface to St. John's Gospel is the most important passage in the whole of the New Testament. It is the passage which is the foundation of the Christian doctrine of the divinity of Christ-the point where the Jewish and Christian Churches meet and divide—the record which identifies the faith of the Mosaic Church with that of the Christian. The government of the Jewish Church was consigned by the Father, to that Being who assumed the titles and exercised the powers, and declared himself possessed of the attributes, of the most High God. Without the consent of this Being, the Jewish Church could not have been overthrown. He was accustomed repeatedly to appear. He called himself the captain of the Lord's host, (Josh.v. 14, 15, and vi. 2.) the angel in whom the name of God was, (Exod. xxiii. 21.) and to the angel, or Jehovah, are attributed all the great actions recorded of God in the Old Testament. We do not read any where in the Old or New Testament, that this Being ceased at any time to protect the Jewish nation, and its Church. The prophet Malachi, in a passage (Malach. ii. 1-6. iv. 2–6.) which has been uniformly considered by the Jewish as well as Christian commentators to refer to the Messiah, declares that this Angel Jehovah, “ the Jehovah whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple"—to the temple which had been rebuilt after the return from the captivity, and which was destroyed by the
(m) It would be an easy, useful, and pleasant task to any student who has
hers could salem,quoted by
1 Cor. x. 9. be found, but I Allix, p. 152, as- Ps. cvi. 14. lopqu. Ps. cv.
merely put this sert that it was
down to illas
Ps. cvi. in “ the Word" against whom 16-1
trate my plan of Hebrew.
drawing up a rael murmured.
table of testi-
monies to the Di-
A.D. 97. gotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath
- declared him.
LUKE i. 5—26.
Roman soldiers. But we have no accouut whatever, neither have we any intiTemple at Je- mation in any author whatever, that the ancient manifested God of the Jews
appeared in the usual manner in the second temple between the time of Malachi and the death of Herod the Great. The Christian Fathers, therefore, were unanimous in their opinion, that this prophecy was accomplished in the person of Jesus, and in him only. They believed that Christ, even Jesus of Nazareth, was the Angel of the Covenant, that he and he only was Jehovah, the Angel Jehovah, the Logos of St. John, the Memra Jah of the Targumists, the expected and predicted Messiah of the Jewish and Christian Churches. This is the doctrine rejected by the Unitarian as irrational, by the Deist as incomprehensible, by the Jew as unscriptural—but it is the doctrine which has ever been received by the Christian Church in general with humility and faith, as its only hope, and consolation, and glory.
6 ON THE ARRANGEMENT OF THESE THREE VERSES. Though the Baptist is here mentioned, and the passage is consequently an anticipation of his testimony, the apparent reference of v. 16. to v. 14. has induced me to follow the authority of Archbishop Newcome, in preference to that of Lightfoot, Michaelis, Pilkington, and Doddridge. Verse 18 declares also, as Newcome has observed, the reason for which the word was made flesh; that it was to manifest the Father to the world. The circumstances of the Baptist's testimony will be mentioned below. Whiston places the whole of this preface after the events recorded in St. Luke, i. ii. Mr. Hele (a) places John i. 1-6. after St. Luke's preface. He then places John i. 6—15. after Luke iži. 2. and John i. 15—19. after the account of the temptation.
ON THE MIRACULOUS EVENTS WHICH PRECEDED THE BIRTH OF THE MESSIAH.
With the exception of Simon the Just(o), who, according to Jewish tradition, had received the last rays of the setting sun of prophecy, and completed the canon of the Old Testament, it is generally believed by the Jewish Church that Prophecy and Miracle had ceased since the time of Malachi. A learned writer (c), however, has attempted at great length to shew, that though Prophecy, properly so called, had ceased during this interval, yet extraordinary revelations
(a) Four Gospels Harmonized, Basingstoke, 1750, 8vo. (6) On Simon the Just, vide Prideaux Connection, vol. ii. p. 816, 8vo. edit. 1729. Lightfoot, vol. i. p. 2008; and vol. ii. p. 381; arrangement of the Old Testament, vol. ii p. 854, note. (c) Vitringa, in his Observ. Sacræ, vol. i. b. vi. p. 294, &c.