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Separate Consideration of the Seven Positions of the Reviewer.
IN attempting to support his first position, that Jesus was possessed of ubiquity, the Reverend Editor has quoted two passages. The first is, St. John, ch. iii. ver. 13: “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man who is in heaven;” wherein Jesus, as the Editor conceives, declares his location both in heaven and on the earth at one time. The Editor rests entirely the force of his argument upon the term “is,” in the above phrase “who is in heaven,” as signifying the presence of Jesus in heaven while he was conversing with Nicodemus on earth. This argument might perhaps carry some weight with it, were not the frequent use of the present tense in a preterite or future sense observed in the Sacred Writings, and were not a great number of other passages to determine that the term “is,” in this instance, must be understood in the past sense. John, ch. viii. ver. 58: “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” Here the same verb, though found in the form of the present tense, must obviously be taken in a preterite sense. John,
ch. ix. ver. 8: “His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee,” &c.; that is, His disciples said unto him. Wer. 38: “Jesus, therefore, again groaning in himself, cometh to the grave,” i.e. he came to the grave. Matthew, ch. xxvi. ver. 2: “Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of Man is betrayed to be crucified;” that is, the Son of Man is to be betrayed and to be crucified. Wide the remainder of the chapter. John, ch. xiii. ver. 6: “Then cometh he to Simon Peter,” &c., that is, he came to Simon Peter, &c. Again, John, ch. xvi. ver. 32: “That ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: yet I am not alone:” i.e. yet I shall not be alone. So in all the prophecies contained in the Old, as well as in the New Testament, the future tense must frequently be understood where the terms used are those grammatically appropriated to the preterite; as Matthew, ch. ii. ver. 18: “In Rama was there a voice heard,” that is, will there be a voice heard. Ver. 15: “Out of Egypt have I called my Son:” i. e. I will call my Son. After a diligent attention to the following passage, no one will, I presume, scruple to conclude that the Son was actually absent from heaven during his locality on the earth, and consequently the phrase quoted by the Editor is applicable only to the past time. John, ch. vi. ver. 62: “What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was before.” The verb was, accompanied with the term before in this passage, positively implies the absence of Jesus from heaven during his stay on the earth. Ch. xvi. ver. 7: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away. If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” Wer. 5: “But now I go my way to him that sent me.” Ver. 28: “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.” Ch. xiii. ver. 36: “Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” Ch. xiii. ver. 1: “Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father.” For further conviction, I may safely refer even to the preceding terms of the verse relied on by the Editor:—“No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man.” For, the attribute of omnipresence is quite inconsistent with the human notions of the ascent and descent effected by the Son of Man. Is it possible to reconcile the contents of hundreds of such passages, consistent with reason and conformable to the established order of interpretation, to the apparent meaning of a single phrase, that, taken literally, is totally opposed to common sense? For, to a being named the Son, or the created, (the one term implying the other,) and sent from one mansion to another, the attribute of ubiquity can never be justly ascribed. Besides, in examining the original Greek Testament, we find in the phrase in question, “Who is in heaven,” that the present participle div, “being,”
is used in lieu of irr), “is,” viz. 'O Gw iv riff §goviş; a true translation of which should be “the ens” or “being in heaven; ” and as the nominative case à dy, “the being,” requires a verb to complete the sense, it should be connected with the nearest verb &vo.6#6m*sy, “ hath ascended,” no other verb in fact existing in the sentence. The whole verse in the original runs thus; Kal ëbels &vo.6éénxsy sig row 8pověv si po. 3 #x ros. 3pová xoro,6&g, à vios roß &vopórs à tow iv riff Spová. A verbal translation of the above would run thus: “And no one hath ascended into heaven, if not the Out of heaven descender—the Son of Man—the being in heaven; ” which words, arranged according to the rules of English grammar, should run thus: “And no one except the descender from heaven, the Son of Man, the being in heaven, hath ascended into heaven.” In this case, the presence of the Son in heaven must be understood as referring to the time of his ascent, and not to that of his addressing himself to Nicodemus—an explanation which, though it does not serve to establish the omnipresence of the Son urged by the Editor ought to be satisfactory to an impartial mind.* The second passage which the Editor quotes on this subject is, Matthew, ch. xviii. ver. 20: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Is it not evident that the Saviour meant here, by being in the midst of two or three of his disciples, his guidance to them when joined in searching for the truth, without preferring any claim to ubiquity ? We find similar expressions in the Scriptures, wherein the guidance of the Prophets of God is also meant by words that would imply their presence. Luke, ch. xvi. ver. 29: Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” No one will suppose that this expression is intended to signify that the Jews actually had Moses and the Prophets in person among them, or that they could hear them speak in the literal and not in the figurative sense of the words; nor can any one deduce the omnipresence of Moses and the Prophets from such expressions. The second position advanced by the Reverend Editor is, that “Jesus ascribes to himself a knowledge and an incomprehensibility of nature equal to that of God, and peculiar to God alone;” and in attempting to substantiate this point, he quotes Matthew, ch. xi. ver. 27: “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the
* See Bishop Middleton's Doctrine of the Greek Article,” Part I. page 42, Note: “We are to refer the time of the participle to the time of the act, &c. implied in the verb; for past, present, and future cannot be meant otherwise than in respect to that act.” Leviticus, ch. vii. ver. 33: ‘O rporpépay-avro a ral à 8paxsoy & 8sétès, “The of. fering (person) for him shall be the right shoulder.” Ch. xiv. ver. 47 : ‘O taowy—trave? ra iudruz divroff, “The eating (person) shall wash his clothes.” These present participles are referred to a time pre
sent with respect to the act of the verbs connected with them; but future with respect to the command of God. John, ch. i. ver. 49: "Orra—stody ore, “I saw thee when thou wast.” Moreover, we frequently find the present participle used in the past sense, even without reference to the term of the verb. John, ch. ix. ver. 25: Two; or der. Baerw, “Being blind, now I see,” that is, “Having been blind, now I see.”