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Onkelos on Exodus 29:42, says, “I will appoint my Word to speak with thee there, and I will appoint my
Word there for the children of Israel.” Here the paraphrast makes a distinction between I and Word; a distinction not unlike that, which Christians make between the Father and the Word. When it is considered, that Philo viewed the Aoyos as the promised Messias, it is highly probable that his Hebrew brethren had the same idea of it when they wrote their Targums, notwithstanding all that Prideaux, Louis Capellus, and father Simon have said about the peculiar idiom of the Chaldee language.
Onkelos and Jonathan on Num. 22:9, paraphrase thus, “The Word came from before the Lord, and said.” The objection drawn from the idiom of the Chaldee language will not apply to this phraseology. The manner of expression denotes a distinction between the Word and the Lord; and as the critics upon the idiom of the Targums acknowledge that the Word is synonymous with Lord, we have all we contend for. For a further view of this subject, see Allix Judgment of the Ancient Jewish Church against the Unitarians.
The quotations, which have just been made from ancient Jewish authors are extracted from the works of Allix. “And what advantage do we derive from the labors of others, if we can never.confide in them, and occasionally save ourselves some trouble by their means?"* The Messiah was revealed to the Jews by the
When God speaks of him by that name, he calls him my Son. In the 2d Psalm, God is introduced addressing a certain personage, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” Then he commands, saying, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry.” It is generally, if not universally, admitted that this Psalm, or at least, so much of it as describes the Son, is ap
plied to the Messiah. If there were any this point, the apostle to the Hebrews can remove the difficulty; for he quotes this passage in relation to Jesus Christ. In the Acts of the Apostles it is quoted in the same connexion: "I will be his Father and he shall be my Son." If this prophecy had a primary reference to Solomon, its ultimate reference was to Christ; for the apostle Paul quotes it with this reference.
The prophet Isaiah, speaking of the Messiah, saith, “Unto us a Son is given.” God, by the prophet Hosea, saith, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my Son out of Egypt.” The prophecy, contained in the latter part of this text undoubtedly relates to Christ; for St. Matthew quotes it in relation to him, and as fulfilled in him.
We learn in the New Testament, what opinion of the Messiah the Jews had formed from these characteristic descriptions. Jesus repeatedly called God his Father. He therefore implicitly called himself his Son. Many times he expressly called himself his Son, his only begotten Son. On a certain occasion Jesus called God his Father in the hearing of the Jews. They were offended; because they understood him by this expression and by claiming this title, to make himself equal with God. (moov TW €w) The word isov literally signifies equal; and it is in vain to attempt to reduce it below this signification. In other places it is translated, and it is correctly translated equal. St. John, describing the city Jerusalem, says, “The length, and the breadth, and the height of it are (762) equal. There can be no doubt respecting the correctness of the translation of the word in this passage.
But if this word were of doubtful signification, what the Jews said to Christ on another occasion exhibits in a clear light their opinion of the name, Son of God. Jesus said, "I and my Father are one.” The Jews accused him of blasphemy because that he being a man made himself God. It appears that they had formed their opinion from the prophets that the Messias was
the Son of God; and by their answers to Jesus, it appears that they considered the Son of God to be, or to be equal to, God. Had they believed that Jesus was their expected Messias, they would not have accused him of blasphemy because he called God his Father. During the short time that they believed that he was the Messias, no honors were too great to be bestowed upon him. But when they found that he did not grant them that deliverance which they expected, their opinion changed. They viewed him as a mere man; and of course, a blasphemer, because he pretended to be the Son of God. Adam, Israel, believers, and angels are called sons of God. The Jews understood Christ, claiming a higher relationship to God than these; a relationship, which implied divinity. In answer to the accusing Jews, Christ vindicated himself against the charge of blasphemy upon their own principles, and agreeably to their own Scriptures. If they might be called gods, to whom the word of God catne, he inferred that he himself, whom the Father had sanctified and sent into the world, might, without blasphemy, be called the Son of God. But he referred them to his works for proof of his union with the Father.
When Christ was on trial before the council, the high priest adjured him by the living God, that he should tell them whether he was the Christ, the Son of God. This demand implied that the high priest believed that the promised Christ was the Son of God. His question was, whether Jesus was this personage. When he answered in the affirmative; and told him that he should see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven, the high priest accused him of blasphemy. This representation clearly implies that the high priest believed that the promised Messiah was the Son of God; that the Son of God was divine; that Jesus was blasphemous for pretending to divinity, when he was, in his estimation, a mere man.
THE OPINIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN FATHERS
RESPECTING JESUS CHRIST.
THE sacred scriptures contain a perfect system of religion. Their parts correspond and harmonize. Those doctrines, which are most momentous run through the whole sacred volume. They not only cast light upon each other; but they are their own interpreters. The same doctrine, expressed in different ways, exhibited in different points of view, and attended with different circumstances, presents itself with greater clearness, than if it made but a solitary appearance. So fully and clearly are the leading truths of the Gospel expressed, that we need not depend on the creeds of others for articles of our own belief. On the other hand, we ought not to be so self-wise as to refuse a hearing of the opinions and arguments of others. We ought to examine them with impartiality, and bring them, for decision, to the test of God's word.
We feel an anxiety to know the religious sentiments of those eminent Christians, who were cotemporary with the apostles, or succeeded them during a few of the first centuries. We do not look to them for infallibility. But if we look to any, since the apostolic age, for the greatest correctness of sentiment and purity of character, we naturally look to those Christians, who lived nearest to the time of
divine inspiration; who were best acquainted with apostolic example; and whose creeds were tried by fire.
In the first century disputes arose in the church, which required the authority of apostles to decide. It is not surprising that difference of sentiment should early obtain in the church, when it is considered that it was composed of Jews and Gentiles, who had not entirely outgrown their attachment to their former religions; and blended their different systems of philosophy with Christianity. Modern writers are not agreed in opinion, what was then truth, and what was error; or what was orthodoxy, and what was heresy. People of opposite sentiments find something in that early period, which they enlist into the service of their
It is contended that the apostles taught that Christ was merely human; and that a belief of his divinity, and of the doctrine of the Trinity, were innovations in the Christian system. The first, who openly avowed the mere humanity of Christ, are considered by some the legitimate followers of the apostles; and those, who believed his divinity, are considered by them, corrupters of the Christian faith. (See Priestley's History of the Corruptions of the Church.)
In the latter part of the first, and in the beginning of the second century, the Gnostics, or Docetæ, and the Ebionites, commanded considerable notice. The Gnostics pretended to restore to mankind a knowledge of the Supreme Being. They derived their origin from blending the oriental philosophy with Christianity. They held that the world was created by one or more evil
, or imperfect beings. They denied the divine authority of the books of the Old Testament. They said much in favor of the serpent, who beguiled Eve. They held that evil resided in matter as its centre; and many other things equally repugnant to the inspired writings. When they had so far departed from the simplicity of the Gospel, it cannot be expected that they would entertain very