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evident that the same question, so far as the essential meaning of it is concerned, is repeated in the second instance as in the first; although the words differ, and the intensive ovv is added to the second question, in order to show the earnestness of the speakers.
In like manner the high priest, during the trial of Jesus, said, "I adjure thee by the living God that thou tell us, whether thou art the Christ, the Son of God." Matt. 26: 63. Here both expressions meet in the same question; as in the case above, they followed each other in different questions; and both are plainly designed to make the inquiry, Art thou the promised, the expected Messiah of the Jews? Surely the high priest and the Sanhedrim did not mean to ask Jesus, whether he was eternally and necessarily begotten of God.
From the friends and the enemies of Jesus, then, we have one and the same use of the phrase Son of God, viz. to designate the Christ or Messiah, the expected King of Israel. The beloved disciple, who leaned on Jesus' bosom, has added his own testimony to this usage. Speaking of his gospel he says, "These things are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. And in the same manner, Paul in his Epistles says; "For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached by us ;" i. e. the Son of God, viz, Jesus the Messiah. 2 Cor. 1:19.
More cases of a similar nature might be added; but I forbear. Enough has been adduced to shew the usus loquendi of the apostolic age, among the Jews. Let it now be called to mind, that every writer or speaker, who means to be understood, must necessarily use language in the same sense, in which the age and nation to which he belongs use it. And if this be admitted, how
shall we avoid the conclusion, that Son of God was the designation of Christ as the expected Messiah of the Jews, as the King who was to subdue all nations, and reduce them under his government?
That the phrase Son of God pertains to Christ as Messiah or incarnate Saviour and exalted head over all things, and not to the Logos considered simply in respect to his state before the incarnation, may be rendered still more probable, from those prophetic texts in the Old Testament, which describe the future birth of the Son of God.
To begin with the famous passage in Ps. 2: 7. "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." What is then the subject of this Psalm, and in what attitude does it place the personage, who is styled Son? A ready answer is afforded by the preceding verse, and the whole context. "Yet have I set my KING upon my holy hill of Zion. I will publish the decree." What decree? Why plainly that which makes or constitutes him King. And what is it? "The Lord hath said to me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." This is the decree or sentence, which constitutes him King in Zion. What follows this elevation? Why, that all nations shall come under his dominion, and that his enemies shall be dashed in pieces.
Surely no other generation of the Son is intimated here, but his exaltation to the dignity of King and Lord. And it is in exact consonance with this, that Peter explains the very passage in question, in Acts 13; accommodating it to the resurrection of Christ, which was the very circumstance that commenced his elevation to the throne of supreme dominion.
Let me present the subject in another light. The
second Psalm is prediction; and prediction concerning the future Messiah; (v. 2, 2.) As Messiah he is King; and as Messiah he is Son. But if he had been Son from eternity, could it be prophesied that he was yet to be a Son, and to be begotten at a future period? Or shall we with Clemens Alexandrinus say, that after the Son was begotten previously to the beginning of the world, he begat himself again in the womb of the Virgin?
In regard to the exegesis, which makes this day to mean eternity, because one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day, I can
not feel that it deserves a serious refutation. It is so unexampled, so evident a perversion of the design of the writer, and so plainly the result of being pressed with difficulty by the text as it stands, that it needs only to be read with candour to be rejected.
Two other passages in the Old Testament contain the phrase in question, and relate, as I believe, to Christ or the Son of God. The first, in 2 Sam. 7:14, exhibits a promise, that God at some future period would raise up of the seed of David (v. 12) a KING, (v. 13) respecting whom it is said, "I will be HIS FATHER, and he shall be MY SON." The same sentiment is recognized by the Psalmist, Ps. 89: 3, 4, 20-27. In the latter passage, it is said, "He shall cry to me, Thou art my Father -And I will make him my FIRST BORN."
Here we have predictions, not only of a future Son, but of a future FIRST BORN. I am unable to conceive, how that which existed from all eternity, should be thus spoken of as yet to exist, at a future period.
If I am correct then, the Logos, before his incarnation, was not, strictly speaking, Son of God, but only to become so by union with the person of Jesus. of Jesus.
And is it
not thus, that the apostle John represents the subject,
Consonant with this mode of speaking is the language of Paul, when he has occasion to make a distinction between the divine and human natures united in Christ. In Rom. 9:5, he speaks of the descent of Christ xara capna, as to his human nature, from the Jews; but how does he characterize the divine nature which dwelt in Jesus? By saying that this divine nature was the Son of God? No; but by calling him "God over all, i. e. supreme God, blessed forever." Such I believe the Logos to be; supreme God, not derived; not secondary, as Justin and other fathers call him; not begotten, not emanated, not subordinate. That the Son (as Son) is subordinate and derived, I most freely grant is a doctrine of Scripture; but that the Logos is so, I have found no satisfactory evidence.
I must not omit a passage in Paul's writings which stands a few verses preceding the one just quoted. "All things," says the apostle, "shall work together for good to those who love God-whom he did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he (the * Compare the passage respecting the beloved disciple, who leaned on the bosom of Jesus. To explain the idiom, see also 2 Sam. 12:3.
Son) might be the first born, (gwoτoxos, preeminent, first in rank or dignity,) among many BRETHREN." Rom. 8: 29. Now in what sense is the Son a brother of the saints? Is it as the divine and eternal Logos; or as the Logos incarnate, who had " become a partaker of flesh and blood, because the children partake of the same?" Heb. 2 : 14. The answer may be given in the words of Paul, in another passage. "He that sanctifieth, (Christ, the captain of our salvation,) and they who are sanctified, (Christians,) ARE ALL OF ONE; for which cause, he is not ashamed. to call them BRETHREN; saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, &c. Heb. 2: 11, 12.
Saints, then, are the brethren of Christ, because they are the sons of God and he is the Son of God; but can we draw the inference from this, that they have a nature really divine, because they are his brethren? Can the title, then, in itself considered, prove that Christ is a divine person; or can it be assumed, that the title necessarily imports this? I know the Jews, in one instance, argued in this way; but of this more hereafter.
Finally if the title Son necessarily imports eternal generation and divine nature, I am utterly unable to make out any exegesis of the 1 Corinth. 15: 28. Thus the passage stands; "When all things shall be subdued unto him [the Son] then shall the SON HIMSELF be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be ALL IN ALL. If Son then be (as such) the divine Logos, be eternally begotten, and very God of very God, what is this subjection? And how is he, who in his divine nature is "God over all," and immutable, to become subject to the Father, in order that God may be ALL IN ALL? I will not say, it is impossible to solve these questions; but I must say, I can find no solution of them on