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No Traces to be found of our Lord's Personal Appear
ance in the World previous to his Birth.
TH 'HE direct evidence, which Mr. Hawker has
produced from scripture, in favour of our Lord's pre-existent state and dignity, has been examined in the two foregoing chapters. The interpretation which I have there given of the different passages, seems to be confirmed by the confideration which Mr. Hawker himself has suggested, viz. that had Christ really enjoyed such a state, it is more than probable "that some appearances of him should have been discovered, through the many intermediate ages from the fall of man to his advent in the flesh.” (r) But in my opinion, no account of such appearances is' any where to be found.
The first argument which Mr. Hawker brings forward, as tending to prove the personal appearance of Jesus Christ in the early ages of the world, is taken from the consideration, that the invisibility
(1) P. 87.
of the Divine Being to mortal eyes, is the uniform doctrine of the scriptures; when, at the same time, there are many very, striking passages, in the Old Testament, in which the personal appearance of Jehovah is said to have happened.
Had Mr. Hawker here recollected his own definition of the term God, he must have perceived that this argument would have proved much more than he intended it to prove. By the term God, he professes to understand God the Father, together with the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is evident from his explanation of I Cor. xv. 24– 28. U) And this, being allowed to be a proper
ID P. 90. note. The passage is, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father ; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he faith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto hiin that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” The last clause Mr. Hawker thus explains, " And then God the Father, together with the Son and Holy Spirit, will be all in all.” It is furely strange that any person should thus interpret the apostle's words, when he himself declares, v. 24, that by the term God he meant the Father only. This, as Dr. Priestley very justly observes, is not quoting scripture, but making it.
definition, it direaly follows, that all those passages which assert the invisibility of God, assert the invisibility of the Son, as well as of the Father. According to Mr. Hawker, therefore, it could be neither the one nor the other who made this perfonal appearance.
Mr. Hawker professes also to be of opinion, that, in the relation the Jewish Scriptures give us of the appearances of Jehovah, but one and the same being is uniformly described, (t) and that this being was Jesus Christ. (u) Of course he must suppose that Jesus Christ was the Jehovah who manifested himself to Moses, and said, thou canst not see my face, and live. See Ex, xxxiii. 2023. And yet he advances this very paffage as a proof of the invisibility of the supreme Father ! ! (0)
Having observed thus much to shew how very inconsistent Mr. Hawker, in this instance, is with himself, I will endeavour to inform
reader how it is, these seeming contradi&ions of scripture, refpeting the invisibility of the Divine Being, may be reconciled; and which, if they could not be reconciled, would bear as hard upon the trinitarian hypothesis, as they do upon our own. For if Jesus Christ be God, of the same nature with his Fa. ther, it follows that he must also be invisible as well as the Father.
That (t) P. 98. 99.-(u) P. 95.-(v) P. 94.
That God is invisible, in the strict sense of the word, is a doctrine I most firmly believe. As the uncreated Spirit, who fills immenfity, it is impossible that he should be the object of mortal fight. But it does not, therefore, follow, that he cannot make extraordinary manifestations of himself by outward symbols, by fire, by cloud, by an audible voice, and by some particular figure. And surely it is much more natural to suppose, that all the appearances, recorded in the Old Testament, were of this symbolic nature, than to imagine, as Mr. Hawker does, that there are two Jehovahs, the one of whom was visible, and the other invisible. (w) For this is contrary to the assertion of Moses, who declared to the children of Israel from God himself, that Jehovah their God was one Jehovah, by whom must have been intended, that very Je. hovah, who had all along manifested himself to them.
But Mr. Hawker is of opinion, that there are many passages, in the New Testament, which may
(w) It may be asked, in this place, how it is that Mr. Hawker reconciles his ideas on this subject with his assertion, p. 331,
66 That there is not an attribute or a name by which the incommunicable character of Jel.ovah is known in scripture, but what we find equally applied to our blessed Lord;” when, according to himself, in his third sermon, the Father possesses the attribute of invisibility, but the Son postesses it not.
be considered as presumptive proofs that Jesus Christ is the Jehovah so frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, as having made a visible appearance. These passages I will now examine.
John viii. 58. Before Abraham was, I am. This expression I am, Mr. Hawker observes, is the incommunicable name of the great Jehovah, and he thinks it probable, that when our saviour distinguished himself by it, he referred to his appearance to Moses, as Jehovah, in the bush. See Ex. iii. 14. But it has already been proved, p. 33, that in the former instance the expression is elliptical, and that it should have been rendered, Beo fore Abraham was, I am he, that is, the Messiah.
I Cor. x. 4. They drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ. By this we are to understand nothing more than that the rock, to which Paul alludes, represented Christ. In other words, that there was, according to the apostle's opinion, a resemblance between the rock, which supplied the children of Israel with water in their journey through the wilderness, and Jesus Christ, from whom all the blessings of the gospel may be said to flow to christians.
I Cor. x. 9. Neither let us tempt Christ, as fome of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.