Page images

by Robertson. It is that all spiritual beings are of one family. “ When we speak,” says Channing, “ of higher orders of beings, of angels and archangels, we are apt to conceive of distinct kinds or races of beings, separated from us and from each other by impassable barriers. But it is not so. All minds are of one family, are essentially of one origin, one nature, kindled from one divine flame. This feeling mingles unperceived with all our worship of God, which uniformly takes for granted that He has a mind having thought, affection, and volition like ourselves. Moreover, truth, the object and nutriment of mind is one and immutable.”* Mr. Robertson's words are, “ We think of God as a spirit, infinitely removed from, and unlike, the creatures He has made. But the truth is, man resembles God; all spirits, all minds are of the same family. The Father bears a likeness to the Son, whom He has created. The mind of God is similar to the mind of man. Love does not mean one thing in man, and another thing in God. Holiness, justice, pity, tenderness—these are in the eternal the same in kind, which they are in the finite Being.”+

I have thus briefly stated the views which are to be compared with Trinitarianism in the present Treatise.

In the pursuit of this investigation, I am compelled to follow a plan which is not of my own choosing, and which I cannot regard as most favorable to the advancement of theological knowledge. I mean that of treating the Bible as one book from which passages may be gathered from all parts, and pieced together regardless of their original connection. By this method theological truth is often more likely, I am afraid, to be concealed than to be brought to light, and the inquirer is in danger of finding himself lost in inextricable confusion. The Old Testament is the literature of the Hebrews, spreading over several thousand years, and including the patriarchal, the theocratic, and the prophetic dispensations, each containing a progressive as well as a permanent element; and the contents of every book ought to be viewed, i.e., for theological purposes, by the light of the age in which it was written, and the circumstances in which it had its birth. Christianity is a fulfilment of Judaism, but the least in the kingdom of God is greater than the greatest of the Prophets ; in other words, the humblest Christian has greater spiritual advantages than the most distinguished teachers among the Hebrews. It would be as reasonable and as consistent to fuse into one the precepts “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” and “ love your enemies, do good to them that hate you,” as to associate some of the Jewish conceptions of God with those which have been revealed to us of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. But I will illustrate my meaning by a case in point. By an amalgamation of the letter of Scripture from various parts, Mr. Bickersteth has come to the conclusion that the terrible denunciations of the Prophets against the idolatry of their times are applicable to all who place their confidence in Christ without believing him to be God

* Sermon on the Imitableness of Christ's character. † Robertson's Sermons, 1st vol., p. 126.

the Son. The reasoning is this, If Christ be not God, he must be a creature, and trust in idols was denounced as trust in creatures, and severely to be punished. Now, in the first place, we live not under the law, but under grace, that is, Christ dwelling in us is to do now the work which commands and penalties did in the olden times. Secondly, the idols were creatures in the sense of being made or fabricated, which cannot be said of the spirit of Christ, or I suppose of any spirit; the term creature with regard to a living soul, being used only figuratively. Thirdly, the idolatry so sternly denounced, was regarded as sinful alike in its motives and in its results, which, I trust, would not be said of dissent from orthodox opinion. Fourthly, idolatry was alienation from God, whereas, whatever doctrine we hold as to the person of Christ, we acknowledge him as our Mediator, by whom alone we know and have access to the Father. Fifthly, are we, to whom Jesus has revealed the Father, to go back to the Old Testament in which the Deity has but partially disclosed Himself, to find out how He will deal with us in our sins and infirmities? From the parable of the Prodigal Son, and the exhortation of Christ to receive his kingdom as a little child, are we to turn to those passages in the Jewish Scriptures in which a jealous God is represented as pouring out his wrath on the adherents of Moloch, or Baal, or Chemosh? In more senses than one this were to illustrate the truth of St. Paul's words : “ The letter killeth.” “Wilt thou that we command fire to come down from Heaven and consume them, even as Elias did ?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and said, “ Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of” (Luke ix. 54, 55). A comparison of Scripture with Scripture is an important aid to the interpreter, but a comprehensive spirit of theological study will not overlook any consideration which is likely to throw light on the substance of Divine Revelation. The heavenly rule of interpretation is a desire to learn of God, which will shew itself by knowledge, by thought, and by holiness, as well as by the devout exclamation, “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.”

One remark of Mr. Bickersteth's may be noticed here: “In resting on these declarations,” (viz., those contended for in his Treatise) he says, “the reader may be assured that he is so far as the most calm and learned scholars can assure him, relying on the very exact meaning of the words intended by those who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost." This, I think, might lead the unlearned reader to imagine there is far less difficulty in interpreting controverted passages than there is. On the other hand, I know of no more impressive lesson of humility in all doctrinal discussions than the differences which have existed in the interpretation of Scripture among "the most calm and learned,” and I may add devout “scholars.” In fact, there is in the Bible a clear part and an obscure part; the first is for the heart and the life of men, and meets their spiritual wants; the second has given rise to many various sects, which probably never can be brought together in opinion on earth, but amidst which there might be a unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.




"I humbly call Thee to witness, () my God, what a holy jealousy I ever wear about my heart, lest I should do the slightest dishonor to Thy Supreme Majesty in any of my inquiries or determinations. Thou seest what a religious fear and what a tender solicitude I maintain on my soul, lest I should think or speak anything to diminish the grandeur and honors of Thy Son Jesus, my dear Mediator, to whom I owe my everlasting hopes. . . Guard all the motions of my mind, 0 Almighty God, against everything that borders upon these dangers.”— Watts.

In the Inquiry which is now to engage our thoughts, the first question that suggests itself is, whether there are in the Scriptures "explicit assertions that Jesus Christ is Jehovah and God ?

The arguments adduced are as follows:“ The voice of him that “This is He that was spocrieth in the wilderness, Pre- ken of by Esaias the prophet, pare ye the way of Jehovab! saying, The voice of one crymake straight in the desert a ing in the wilderness, Prehighway for our God.”—Isa. pare ye the way of the Lord.” xl. 3.

Matt. iii. 3. Mr. Bickersteth says, “Now, John Baptist's voice, without controversy, was heard in the wilderness, preparing the way for Christ. Therefore Christ is Jehovah, our God.”

« PreviousContinue »