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law, I said, Ye are gods? If He called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, ......say ye of Him, whom the Father bath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest ; because I said, I am the Son of God ?" Here, under the general title of “The Law,” our Lord quotes Psalm lxxxii. Let us turn to it. It is a psalmi for magistrates, and begins by asserting the supremacy of Divine rule.
“ God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; He judgeth among the gods.” He is Judge of judges, King of kings, Lord of lords. And in His presence, (it is as though the psalmist had said,) how can judges and magistrates dare to be corrupt and partial ? “How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked ?” Then, in the next two verses, he exhorts them to do their duty, and deliver the Deedy and oppressed. A further remonstrance follows, with stern upbraiding for past neglect. • They know not, neither will they understand ; they walk on in darkness : all the foundations of the earth are out of course.” An awful word this! Yet so it must be where the government is in the hands of corrupt governors. The blessing of a just and stable government is one which we in England bave so long enjoyed, that we are in great danger of becoming insensible to its value : but where laws are unjust, judges corrupt, and magistrates tyrannical, it is barely possible to be good, or to do good, or to enjoy good. “All the foundations are out of course :” family life, as well as public life, is disordered ; and it is well if society regains its equilibrium otherwise than by fierce convulsions. The psalmist proceeds with his expostulation :-" I have said, Ye are gods,” calling you so in the first verse; for such in a sense you are, exercising a delegated Divine power, which entitles you to be so called, and on the ground of which you have been so called by God Himself : but, gods though you be, your high station will not exempt you from the necessity of dying, and ought not to exempt you from the duty of watchfulness. "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High: but ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.” Then from wicked men he turns to the blessed and only Potentate, and prays, “ Arise, O God, judge the earth : for Thou shalt inherit all nations :” which may be well paraphrased in the words of the poet,
“Come, then, and added to Thy many crowns
4. Such is the scripture quoted by our Lord, and such His argument; not fully expressed indeed, but clearly suggested. Judges are called gods ; but I have a much better right to the title than they. They are gods by office, I by nature ; they are delegated gods, I am the Son of God. The Father sanctified me, giving to the Son to have life in Himself, so that the fulness of the Godhead dwells eternally in me, and sending me into the world to do the work of the world's redemption; so tbat I am the Son of God, not by office or adoption, Lut by eternal filiation ; “God of God, Light of Light, Very God of
VOL. X.-FIFTH SERIES.
Very God.” In me, therefore, it is no blasphemy, but the exact truth, to say, “I and the Father are one,” or, “ I am the Son of God." *
5. It may be said, " True, judges and magistrates are called gods; but is it proper to call them so ?” The answer is, that the Scripture calls them so. With that the question is settled. When “the Scripture” speaks, we may make proclamation, “Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord.” Scribes must read it, teachers must learn from it, rulers must be ruled by it. Here, as they were wont to sing in the days of old,
“Here is the Judge that stints the strife
When men's devices fail." “The Scripture cannot be broken.” “Nothing that is contained therein can be censured or set aside.” “Let God be true, but every man a liar.” (Rom. iii. 4.)
6. It deserves to be further poticed, that all the argument here turns upon one word. Could we suppose it to have been replied, “The general sentiment of Psalm Ixxxii. is undoubtedly Divine, but too much reliance must not be placed on particular expressions; the phraseology is the writer's own;"—the argument would have been at an end. But our Saviour's argument shuts out any such reply. It assumes that the words as well as the matter of the psalm are Divine. A single word with Him concludes the question. You may remember another nearly parallel case. After many questions had been asked of Him, He turned upon Ilis captious auditors, and asked of the Pharisees, “What think ye of the Messiah? whose son is He?” They say unto Him immediately, as though no doubt could exist on that point, “The Son of David.” “ How then,” He continues,“ doth David, in ” (or
* “ This sanctification, whereby He is essentially the Holy One of God, is mentioned as prior to His mission, and together with it implies Christ was God in the highest sense, infinitely superior to that wherein those judges were so called." (Wesley in loc.) So Hilary: “The law called those who were mere men gods ; and if any man could bear the name religiously and without arrogance, surely that Man could who was sanctified by the Father, in a sense in which none else is sanctified, to the Sonship; as the blessed Paul saith, · Declared to be the Son of God with power according lo the Spirit of Holiness.'' So Augustine : “ The Father then sanctified His own Son and sent Him into the world. Perhaps some one may say, * If the Father sanctified Him, i. e., made Ilim holy, was there then a time when He was not holy?' So sanctified' as He begat. For by begetting He gave to Him that Ile should be holy, because He begat Him holy.” (Catena Aurea, vol. iv., 363. Lib. Fathers, vol. xxix., 643.) And on the next verses, 37, 38, admirably : * Not in such sort saith the Son The Father is in me and I in Him, as men may say it... ...As believers participating in His grace, and enlightened by Him, we are in Him, and He is in us
..but are we able to say, “ I and God are one ?' Thou art in God, because God cortaineth thee; God is in thee, because thou art made a temple of God: but canst thou say, 'Whoso seeth me seeth God,' as the Only-Begotten saith ? (c. xiv., 9.) Acknowledge the property of the Lord, and the boon bestowed upon the servant. The property of the Lord is equality with the Father ; the boon bestowed upon the ser vant is participation of the Saviour.” See also Bishop Bull's Judgment of the Catholic Church, c. v., sect. 6.
rather by) "the Spirit, call llim Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool ?" Again one word decides the question, and silences the adversaries. “No man was able to answer Him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions.” (Matt. xxii. 46.) In like manner we find St. Paul arguing from less than a word, even from the letters whi: h distinguish the singular from the plural number : “He saith not, Aid to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, wbich is Christ.” (Gal. iii. 16.) Can we fail to see wbat all this indicates ? Shall we in the face of these facts arglie that the sacred penmen were at full liberty to employ the phraseology that they might choose, and speak at their own discretion? Let us bear one of themselves, who surely knew as well as any modern theologian the mode of the Divine operation : “David the son of Jesse said...... The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue.” (2 Sam. xxiii. 1, 2.) Not, He suggested the thought to my mind, and I expressed it as best I could; but, “ He spake, His word was in my tongue.” It is said this makes the prophet a mere vehicle of Divine utterances. Let us hear two apostles on the same point. “Men and brethren,” says St. Peter, “this scripture must peeds have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of Dwvid spake before concerning Judas.” (Acts i. 16.) And St. Paul uses the same form : "Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers.” (Acts xxviii. 25.) These scriptures, and there are more of the same purport,* all point in one direction. They teach that the thoughts of God are made known to us in “words which the Holy Ghost teacheth,” † (1 Cor. ii. 13,) and that every such word claims our reverent
* Let the reader note particularly the passages cited by Mr. R. Haldane (in his valuable work on the Authenticity and Inspiration of Holy Scripture. Fifth edition, 1945, pp. 163, et seq.). “ That which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet.” (Matt. i. 22.) “ He spake by the month of His holy prophets." (Luke i. 70.) “He saith in Osee.” (Rom. ix. 25.) “The Holy Ghost saith.” (Heb. iii. 7.) “He limiteth a certain day, saying in David.” (Heb. iv. 7.) “The Holy Ghost also is a witness to us : for after that He had said before.” (Heb. x. 15.) “ Lord......who by the mouth of Thy servant David hast said.” (Acts iv. 24, 25.) “God, who spake in tirae past by the prophets, hath...spoken unto us by His Son.” (Heb. i. 1,2, with which compare John xii. 49, 50 ; xiv. 10; xvii. 8, 14.) “ The Spirit of Christ which was in them...testified beforehand.” (1 Peter i. 11.)
† " Yet I speak not this as if the sacred writers of the Bible were so tied up by the Spirit, that they cannot, or do not, make use of their own natural or acquired skill. I do not, by what I have said, exclude the peculiar eloquence or strain of the writers, or their using the helps of their education, or their conforming to the dialect of their country ; for these are consistent with that.” [The author then compares the style of Isaiah with that of Jeremiah and Amos, and, after some remarks on the Greek of St. Luke's writings, proceeds :] “ Indeed, the style of the sacred penmen is very different ; and that difference is an excellency in this book of God. But...the writers leare niot of their peculiar style, though they were moved by the Spirit. As this furnished them with new expressions, so it let them make use of their own usual ones, bur immediately directed and assisted in the applying of them. So that, at the same time when they used their natural style, they were Divinely helped to make it service
attention. Not one must be trifled with, or explained away. “The Scripture cannot be broken."
7. Let us now proceed to show how the principle thus laid down is exemplified in all the teaching of our Lord. It is not in a solitary instance, not under some peculiar circumstances merely, but habitually, that you will find Him doing all possible honour to the holy Scriptures. If He does not elsewhere affirm the principle of their supreme authority in so many words, He uniformly acts upon it. We take, as our first example, what may be called the text of the Sermon on the Mount :-“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matt. v. 17.) Accordingly He here “magnifies the law, and makes it honourable ;” sweeping away the traditional interpretations by which its meaning had been obscured, and its standard lowered ; enlarging the sense and application of various precepts, illustrating them by His perfect exanıple, and investing them with the most solemn and tender sanctions. The substance of His discourse is not out of harmony with the moral and preceptive portions of Old Testament Scripture ; nay, more, it is contained in them. Does He forbid the hasty and provoking word, the wandering and lascivious glance ? So do Solomon and Isaiah. Does He prohibit the private and spontaneous revenge, and exhort to long-suffering, and love of enemies? Moses and Solomon had long ago done the same. Even St. Paul's striking figure to represent the effect of kindness in disarming an enemy is borrowed from the Old Testament; and a reference to the Book of Proverbs will show that to “overcome evil with good” was as much the duty of the Jew as it is of the Christian. Not only, therefore, does Christ, at the commencement, disavow the intention of subverting or dishonouring the law and the prophets ; not only does He declare that the smallest portions are Divine, and must endure till all be fulfilled; not only does He threaten with exclusion from His kingdom those who teach otherwise ; but He sums up, and confirms His own compendium of relative duties with a reference to those Scriptures. “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matt. vii. 12.)—We take, as our second example, the memorable instance of His reply to the lawyer's question,
-a question the most solemn that inquirer could propound or teacher reply to,—“What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” To this question He replies by asking another. Intimating most clearly that He had not come to teach a new religion, He sends the student of the law back to the law. What is written in the law? how readest thou?” When the inquirer bad quoted those two precepts which enjoin the love of God and our neighbour, He adds, “ Thou hast answered right:
able to that purpose which the Holy Ghost intended.” (Dr. John Edwards's Discourse on the Authority, Style, and Perfection of Holy Scripture, &c., vol. i., p. 356) This passage from an early advocate of plenary inspiration is decisive proof that what is now called “the human element” in the Scriptures has not been overlooked. See also the article “ Inspiration ” in Watson's Theological Dictionary.
this do, and thou shalt live.” (Luke x. 25-28.) When a similar question was asked by another inquirer, the answer was similar : “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matt. xix. 17.) And Ile then proceeded to quote from the second table of the Decalogue. Both answers are in full conformity with the closing words of the Book of Ecclesiastes: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Eccles. xii. 13.) When, at a later period, another inquirer propounded a question as to the relative importance of the commandments, our Lord gave to him the same reply wbich He had approved when He received it from the first inquirer : “ The first of all the commandments is,” (quoting from Dent. vi.,) “ Hear; 0) Israel : The Lord our God is one Lord : and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, ard with all thy strength : this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely, this,” (quoting from Lev. xix.,) “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark xii. 28–31.) Thus by the three testimonies is the great truth established, that the way of obedience is the way of life, and the way of love the way of obedience. “ This do, and thou shalt live." It was not in mockery, dear brethren, as some would have us suppose, that these words were uttered. It was no ironical exposure of the weakness of our fallen nature, but solemn truth propounded by Him who is the Truth. “ Without holiness," then as now, now as then, “no man shall see the Lord;" and of that Gospel holiness love is the root and principle,—the love of God, and of man for God's sake. And the practice of holiness throughout the wide circle of our duty, be it personal or relative, public or private, is but the development of a sincere and well-regulated love. “Love is the end of the commandment;" love “out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned.” “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (1 Tim. i. 5 ; Matt. xxii. 40.)
8. Nor was it merely for didactic purposes that the Great Teacher availed Himself of the older portion of Divine Revelation. He had to defend as well as to teach the trnth; to vindicate His doctrine against the exceptions of various classes of persons, influenced by various and eren opposite views. The sensualist liked the freedom of divorce which He disallowed. Moses had permitted it to the chosen people under regulations which they had interpreted in the freest style. That permission Christ revoked; but in doing so He took his stand upon an older law than that given by Moses, and overruled the law of one people by the law given to the race in the first pair. “From the beginning it was not so. Have ye not read, that He which made them at the begioning made them male and female ?” By making but one woman for the man He condemned polygamy; by pronouncing them one flesh He condemned divorce. “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man pat asunder.” Tbus from the Scriptures He
proves that the relation was originally designed to be enduring, and lays the ground of His injunction that it must not be dissolved, except for the