Page images

In the place John 10: 30—39, Jesus called God his Father, and said, “I and my Father are one." The Jews then took up stones to stone him; and when he remarked to them, “ Many good works have I shewn you of my Father ; for which of these do ye stone me," they answered him, “For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy, and because thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” If these captious Jews rightly represented the Lord's meaning, it amounts only to what he said in the place before commented upon; it was simply this, God is my Father, and he is united with me. He does not say that he was equal with the Father, but that he and the Father were one, were united with each other; as he elsewhere says, " The Father is in me, and I am in the Father.” So far as he explains the meaning of the appellation Son of God, he says even the opposite of what the respected brother takes to be his meaning. He answered the Jews, “ Is it not written in your law, I have said ye are Gods? If he called them Gods to whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken, say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God ?" In this reply he argues, that the title god was given by the highest authority, even by the Holy Scripture itself, to those men to whom the word of God came; that is, to messengers of God; and inasmuch as he was a messenger whom the Father had sanctified, or set apart, and sent to men in the world, he might at least claim the more modest title of Son of God. So far, therefore, from representing the term Son of God as a title of divinity, Jesus maintains, in this place, that any one who was honored with a commission from God, would be justified in assuming it.

The oneness with the Father of which the Lord speaks in v. 30, may be only a moral union, a union of purpose and will; for the connection demands nothing more : and Jesus has so expressed himself in his prayer, John 17: 21-23, “ That they may be one in us, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us." But as the Scripture elsewhere affirms that God was in Christ ; that in him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, etc., it is more probable that Jesus used the same terms in a higher sense when he spoke of his own union with God, and

[ocr errors]

in a lower when he spoke of the union of believers with him. Believers are one with God after the similitude of Christ, but not in precisely the same manner.

In the place John 1: 14, the apostle does not say that the glory of Christ, which was “ as the glory of the only begotten of the Father," proved him to be God. His words are, “ And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, a glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,” In the first verse, he tells us, “ The Word was God.” The phrase in v. 14, The Word became flesh, is therefore equivalent to the other terms, God was in Christ-God was manifest in the flesh-1 am in the Father and the Father in me. The apostles did not see the Word : the Word was God, whom no man hath seen at any time : but they saw the man Jesus Christ; and the glory which they beheld, was the glory that shone forth in him : in all his teaching, his mighty works, his most holy life, and, more sensibly and impressively, in his transfiguration upon the mountain. Of this last mentioned exhibition of his glory only Peter and John and James his brother were permitted to be witnesses. What impression they received from it appears from Peter's reference to it in his second epistle, ch. 1: 16–18. Of James we have nothing in writing left us ; for the author of the epistle under the same name was not the brother of John. This last named apostle doubtless has reference to the same event in the place now before us. This glory was “a glory as of the only begotten of the Father:" it was such a glory, the apostle means, as we could expect only in one who is the only begotten Son of God; it proved Jesus, therefore, to be the Son of God. But the question still remains unanswered. What does this appellation mean? Surely the apostle could not think, that the transfiguration of Jesus proved that he was God; at least he has not said so.

The text in verse 18, which we are requested to compare, is in these words, “ No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” The expression, it will be admitted, is figurative. There is in it an allusion to the custom which assigned to the person most beloved by the chief or head of a family the next place below him, when they reclined at their table. To lean upon the bosom of another, or to be in his bosom, meant, therefore, in its tropical acceptation, to be highly honored and beloved. So John leaned upon the bosom of Jesus. So Lazarus was in Abraham's bosom, at the feast in Paradise. The one was the most beloved among the disciples of Jesus, and the other the most favoured of the children of Abraham among believers. The text, therefore, designates Jesus as the object of God's most distinguishing love ; and this, as I shall have occasion hereaf. ter to remark, I take to be the true import of the term Son of God.

It is alleged that, in Heb. 1: 4-7, “it is argued, in effect, that, because Christ is called Son, he is God," etc, I cannot see the argument which the Commentator alleges to be contained in that place. It is argued, indeed, that, because Christ is called the Son, he is higher than the angels, and worthy of their worship ; that is, of their homage and reverence, as their superior and Lord ; just as a king is entitled to the homage and reverence of his subjects : for so the word apoçxuvew signifies in a multitude of places. But this is far from arguing that he is, for the same reason, God.

In v. 8, 9, of the same place, the sacred author says, “ But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God is for ever and ever : a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." Here the Son is addressed by the title God; but the context shews that it is an official title, which designates him as a king : he has a kingdom, a throne and a sceptre ; and in v. 9, he is compared with other kings, who are called his fellows; but God can have no fellows. As the Son, therefore, he is classed with the kings of the earth, and his superiority over them consists in this, that he is anointed with the oil of gladness above them ; inasmuch as their thrones are temporary, but his shall be everlasting.

These are all the texts to which the learned and much respected author of the Commentary has referred us; and it cannot now, I think, but be evident, how much he errs in the remark with which our quotation from his work closes, 6. These and other passages prove that Christ is called the Son of God, because he is of the same nature with the Father, and sustains to him a mysterious relation, as God, which lays the foundation of the appellation.” All the proof which they contain, with reference to the question at issue, is on the other side.

On the other hand there is a very large class of texts which, either directly or by implication, make the Son of God inferior to the Father and dependent from him.

1. The Son prays to the Father, “Father, the hour is come : glorify thy Son, that thy Son may also glorify thee," etc. John 17: 1. “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me,” etc. John 11: 41. He prays as the Son; prays that he may be glorified or honored by the Father as the Son. This certainly implies that, as the Son, he is dependent.

2. He avows his inferiority to the Father and his dependence from him, “ If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said unto you, I go to my Father; for my Father is greater than I.” John 14: 28. “Of that day, and that hour knoweth no man; no not the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but my Father only." Mark 13: 32. “ The Son can do nothing of himself," etc. John 5: 19. “ To sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give ; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.” Matth. 20: 23.

3. When the Son claims authority and power, he always, represents then as received by donation from the Father, and, consequently, not originally and essentially his own. • All things are delivered unto me of my Father.” Matth. 11:27. "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Matth. 28: 18. “ As the Father hath life in him. self, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself. And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” John 5: 26, 27. “ The living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father." John 6: 57. “If I honor myself, my honor is nothing : it is my Father that honoreth me, of whom ye say that he is your God." John 8: 54. “No man taketh it (my life) from me, but I lay it down of myself : I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." John 10: 18. The power which the Son has over all flesh, to bestow eternal life on the people of God, is a power which the Father has given him.' The disciples, for whom he prayed, were the

hand and himself," etc. Mark 13: 32. he

came dowho is in heaven)And this is theo

men whom the Father had given him out of the world. All those on whom he was to bestow eternal life, were given to him by the Father for that purpose. John 17: 2, 3, 6.

4. The Son is subordinate and subject to the Father. “I came down from heaven, (came with a commission from the Father who is in heaven) not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me," etc. John 6: 38–40. “For I have not spoken of myself, but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting; whatsover I speak, therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” John 12; 49, 50. “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." John 17: 4. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son," etc. John 3: 16.

5. It was the Son of God that was given; the Son that was sent; the Son that was born, that agonized in Gethsemane, that died upon the cross, that was raised from the dead by the Father, was exalted to the right hand of God, was constituted the head of the church, etc. Nothing of all this can be predicated of divinity; and it, consequently, shews that, as the Son of God, Jesus is a man.

The apostles have given the same view of his Sonship. One or two texts only inust suffice here.

“ So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an highpriest, but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son : to-day have I begotten thee. As also he saith in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. Who in the days of his flesh offered up prayers and supplications to him that was able to deliver him from death, and was heard in that which he feared, though he was a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.” Heb. 5: 5-9. All this is said of Jesus as the Son of God. He did not glorify himself, but was glorified by the Father; he did not constitute himself a priest but was made such ; both his Sonship and his priesthood were derived from the Father's good pleasure. As the Son he desired to be delivered from death; as the Son he prayed to the Father who alone could save him from it; as the Son he suffered, and learned obedience by

« PreviousContinue »