Page images
PDF
EPUB

things great enough to demand our tribute of honour and respect; and therefore St. John could never mean that he was to be honoured only upon that single account, as being constituted Judge of all men. This could never be the only reason why “ all men should honour the Son “ even as they honour the Father.” What then did St. John mean? Or rather, what did our blessed Lord mean, whose words St. John recites? He meant what he has said, and what the words literally import; that the Father, (whose honour had been sufficiently secured under the Jewish dispensation, and could not but be so under the Christian also,) being as much concerned for the honour of his Son, had been pleased to commit all judgment to him, for this very end and purpose, that men might thereby see and know that the Son, as well as the Father, was Judge of all the earth, and might from thence be convinced how reasonable it was, and how highly it concerned them, to pay all the same honour to the Son, which many had hitherto believed to belong to the Father only. And considering how apt mankind would be to lessen the dignity of the Son, (whether out of a vein of disputing, or because he had condescended to become man like themselves,) and considering also that the many notices of the divinity of his Person might not be sufficient, with some, to raise in them that esteem, reverence, and regard for him, which they ought to have; for the more effectually securing a point of this high concernment, it pleased the Father to leave the final judgment of the great day in the hands of his Son : men therefore might consider that this Person, whom they were too apt to disregard, was not only their Creator, and Lord, and God, but their Judge too, before whose awful tribunal they must one day appear: an awakening consideration, such as might not only convince them of his exceeding excellency and supereminent perfections, but might remind them also, how much it was their interest, as well as duty, to pay him all that honour, adoration, and ser

vice, which the dignity and majesty of his Person demands m.

Let us but suppose the present Catholic doctrine of the coequality and coeternity of the three Persons to be true, what more proper method can we imagine, to secure to each Person the honour due unto him, than this ; that every Person should be manifested to us under some peculiar title or character, and enforce his claim of homage by some remarkable dispensation, such as might be apt to raise in us a religious awe and veneration? This is the case in fact; and on this account, chiefly, it seems to be that the Son, rather than the Father, (whose personal dignity is less liable to be questioned,) is to be Judge of all men, that “ so all men may honour the Son,” xatws τιμώσι τον πατέρα. The learned Doctor n pleads that καθώς often signifies a general similitude only, not an exact equality: which is very true; and would be pertinent, if we built our argument on the critical meaning of the particle. But what we insist on, is, that our blessed Lord, in that chapter, draws a parallel between the Father and himself, between the Father's works and his own, founding thereupon his title to honour; which sufficiently intimates what xoetas means ; especially if it be considered that this was in answer to the charge of making himself o «equal with God.” This is what I intimated in the Query; upon the reading whereof, you are struck with “amazement at so evident an instance, how prejudice “blinds the minds,” &c. But let me persuade you to forbear that way of talking, which (besides that it is taking for granted the main thing in question, presuming that all the prejudice lies on one side, and all the reason on the other) is really not very becoming in this case, considering how many wise, great, and good men, how many churches of the saints, through a long succession of ages, you must, at the same time, charge with prejudice and blindness; and that too after much canvassing and careful considering what objections could be made against them; to which you can add nothing new, nor so much as represent the old ones with greater force than they have been often before, 1300 years ago. It might here be sufficient, for you, modestly to offer your reasons ; and, however convincing they may appear to you, (yet considering that to men of equal sense, learning, and integrity, they have appeared much otherwise,) to suspect your own judgment; or, at least, to believe that there may be reasons which you do not see, for the contrary opinion. Well, but after your so great assurance, let us hear what you have to say. “ If our Lord had purposely designed, “ in the most express and emphatical manner, to declare “ his real subordination and dependence on the Father, “ he could not have done it more fully and clearly than " he hath in this whole chapter.” Yes, sure he might: being charged with blasphemy, in making himself equal with God, he might have expressed his abhorrence of such a thought; and have told them that he pretended to be nothing more than a creature of God's, sent upon God's errand; and that it was not by his own power or holiness, that “ he made the lame man to walk,” (see Acts iii. 12.) Such an apology as this would have effectually took off all farther suspicion, and might perhaps have well become a creature, when charged with blasphemy, who had a true respect for the honour of his Creator. But, instead of this, he goes on, a second time, to call himself “ Son of God,” v. 25. declaring farther, that there was so perfect a union and intimacy between the Father and himself, that he was able to do any thing which the Father did ; had not only the same right and authority to work on the sabbath, but the same power of giving life to whom he pleased, of raising the dead, and judging the world; and therefore the same right and title to the same honour and regard : and that the execution of those powers was lodged in his hands particu

m Vid. Jobium ap. Phot. Cod. ccxxii. p. 604. · Reply, p. 260.

John v. 18.

. OF SOME QUERIES. 201 larly, lest the world should not be sufficiently apprehensive of his high worth, eminency, and dignity; or should not “ honour the Son even as they honour the “ Father.”

This is the obvious natural construction of the whole passage : you have some pretences against it, which have been examined and confuted long ago by Hilary, Chrysostom, Cyril, Austin, and other venerable Fathers of the Christian Church; so that I have little more to do, than to repeat the answers. The Jews, you say, falsely and maliciously charged him with making himself equal with God. So said the Arians : but what ground had either they or you for saying so? It does not appear that the Evangelist barely repeated what the Jews had said : but he gives the reasons why the Jews sought to kill him; namely, because he had broke the sabbath, and because he “ made himself equal with God.” So thought p Hilary; and he is followed therein by others, whom you may find mentioned in 9 Petavius. And this "Socinus himself was so sensible of, that he could not but allow that the Apostle, as well as the Jews, understood that our blessed Lord had declared himself equal to God; only he is forced to explain away the equality to a sense foreign to the context.

But supposing that the Apostle only repeated what the Jews had charged him with; how does it appear that the charge was false? It is not to be denied that he had really wrought on the sabbath, and had really called God his Father, and in a sense peculiar; and why should not the rest of the charge be as true as the other? The context and reason of the thing seem very much to favour it. His saying, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,” must imply, either that he had an equal right to do any thing his Father did; or, that he was so intimately united to him, that he could not but act in concert with him : which is farther confirmed by what follows, v. 19. “ What things soever he doth, these also doth the Son “ likewise.” Besides, that had this been only a malicious suggestion, a false charge of the Jews, the Evangelist, very probably, would have given intimation of it, as we find done in other cases of that nature, (John ii. 21. Matt. xvi. 12.) This is the substance of St. Chrysostom's reasoning, in answer to your first objection; and I am the more confirmed in its being true and right, by observing, as before said, that Socinus himself, a man so much prejudiced on the other side, could not help falling in with the same way of thinking, so far, as to believe that the Apostle and the Jews both agreed in the same thing, viz. that our Lord did, by what he had said, make himself equal with God, in some sense or other ; such as the Jews thought to be. blasphemy, and in consequence whereof, they would have killed, i. e. stoned him. Another exception you make from the words, “ the Son can (í do nothing of himself:” the obvious meaning of which is, that being so nearly and closely related to God, as a Son is to a father ; the Jews might depend upon it, that whatever he did, was both agreeable to and concerted with his Father; and ought to be received with the same reverence and regard, as if the Father himself had done it. He, as a Son, being perfectly one with his Father, could do nothing čvartiov tớ [largi, against his Father, nothing årdótpsov, nothing &évov, (as Chrysostom expresseth it,) both having the same nature; and harmoniously uniting always in operation and energy. Hence it was, that, if one wrought, the other must work too; if one did any thing, the other should do likewise; if one quickened whom he would, so should the other also; and if one

P Non nunc, ut in cæteris solet, Judæorum sermo ab his dictus refertur, Expositio potius hæc Evangelistæ est, causam demonstrantis cur Dominum interficere vellent. Hil. Trin. I. vii. p. 935.

9 De Trin. p. 152.. "Ex modo loquendi quo usus est Evangelista, sentiam eum omnino una cum Judæis censuisse Christum, verbis illis, se æqualem Deo fecissenecesse sit intelligere hoc ipsum eum quoque sensisse, non minus quam senserit Christum appellasse Deum Patrem suum, quod ab ipso, uno et eodem verborum contextu, proxime dictum fuerat. Socin. Resp. ad Vujek, p. 577.

« PreviousContinue »