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EXPLANATION OF PASSAGES WHICH HAVE BEEN
QUOTED TO PROVE THAT CHRIST IS GOD.
In the Scriptures, the word God' does not necessarily denote the Supreme Being; but is frequently applied to men and angels. Moses is called God: Ex. vii. 1. The judges of Israel are called Gods: Ps. Ixxxii. 6. They to whom the word of God came are called Gods : John x. 35. St. Paul says there are many that are called Gods, both in heaven and on earth : 1 Cor. viij. 5. Thus the term • God' is sometimes used in an inferior sense. When used to denote the Supreme Being, some other word is often connected with it to describe the Divine perfections and character. He is called the Invisible God, the Almighty God, the Only Wise God, the Only True God, the Most High God, Jehovah God; titles not once given to Christ in the whole Bible. If the term "God' necessarily denoted the Supreme Being, such epithets would be superflu
Jesus being called God, ever so frequently in the Scriptures, is no proof that he is the Supreme Being, any more than Moses being called God, is proof that he is the Supreme Being. The term 'God' does not designate the nature, but the office, of him to whom it is applied. As
God made Jesus both Lord and Christ' by the unction of his Spirit, so by the same unction he made him God; that is, his authorized ambassador to men. It was in this sense
only that Jesus justified the application of the term God' to himself, when the unbelieving Jews accused him of making himself God. John x. 35.
PASSAGES IN WHICH CHRIST IS CALLED GOD,
Isa. ix. 6. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
This passage, I believe, is never quoted, or particularly alluded to, by any writer in the New Testament. Yet because the terms · Mighty God,' and 'Everlasting Father,' are found in it, those who build their faith on the mere sound of words regard it as a decisive proof that Christ is God. The learned Grotius, and some other eminent critics, have understood this passage as referring to Hezekiah the son of Ahaz. But it is generally regarded, and I think justly, as a prediction of the birth of our Saviour. The style of the writer is that of royalty; and the establishment of Christianity is described as the setting up of a kingdom.
If this translation is correct, the term God' is applied to Christ in the sense described on the preceding page. All that is here affirmed is predicted of one that was a child born, and a son given. But God was never a child, nor a son; neither was ever born or given to us.
No one could give him to us; for he belonged to no one. But all this is true of Jesus. He was a child born, and a son given to us.
Can any one believe that the prophet would assert that at some future period God's name shall be called God? Or that the time will come when the government shall be upon
God's shoulder ? His name was always God; and the government was always on his shoulder, until his Son came; then he bore the burthen of government. God made him king; and set him on his holy hill of Zion.
The word 'name' is pleonastic, and may be onnitted. In the original there is nothing answering to the article the, which may also be omitted.
The original word in the Hebrew, which is here rendered God, does not necessarily denote the Supreme Being. The same word (El) is frequently in the Scriptures applied to mere men, and is variously rendered by our translators.
Ex. xv. 15. " There the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the Mighty Men of Moab shall take hold of them.”
2 Kings xxiv. i5. "And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon and the mighty of the land."
Ezek. xxxi. 11. “ I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen.”
By a comparison of these passages, with the one in Isaiah, it will appear that the same Hebrew words which are translated · Mighty God,' are also rendered · Mighty men,' 'the Mighty,' and · Mighty one.' But as their application to a mere man does not prove him to be God, so neither can their application to Christ prove him to be God. Had the terms in the text last cited been translated as they are in the one under consideration, Nebuchadnezzar would be styled the . Mighty God of the nations. But who would infer from it that he was the Supreme Being? Other similar examples might be adduced. Martin Lụther, and many other eminent Hebrew scholars, render the term hero,' or 'potentate,' instead of God.'
Another title given to our Saviour in the text is 'everlasting Father;' which implies that he will be the perpetual father or friend of his people; as a public benefactor, who has conferred great favors upon the land of his nativity, is
called the father of his country. The term everlasting' relates to the future, not to the past. Christ according to this promise will be the perpetual father of his people.
The following is a translation extensively approved by Trinitarians.
“ For unto us a child is born;
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Our blessed Saviour, speaking of the bread, said, “ this is my body.” But was the bread the real body of Christ? The Catholics think so; hence the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Protestants think Jesus meant, the bread
represents his body. This passage may be understood in a similar manner. “The Word was God;" that is, the Word represented "God. Jesus said of John the Baptist, “ If ye will receive it, this is Elijah, which was for to come.". Matt. xi. 14. What did Jesus mean by saying John was Elijah ? He meant that John represented Elijah; that is, he came in the spirit and power of Elijah. Jesus said of the Father, “Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape."-John v. 37. Again he said, “ He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father."'-xiv. 9. We are to under, stand him as if he had said, “ He that hath seen me, hath him who represents the Father ;" that is, the image of the invisible God; the express image of his person. Moses, God's representative to the Israelites, is not only called God, but Jehovan their God; and is represented as giving them the rain of their land, and sending grass in their fields. See Deut. xi. 13–15, and xxix. 2, 5, 6. Because David typically resembled Christ, Christ is several times
called David. They shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them."-Jer. xxx. 9. See also Ezek. xxxiv. 23, and xxxvii. 24, 25. Examples of this kind might be multiplied to a great extent. Now as we know the representative is often called by the name of him whom he represents; and, particularly, God's representative, though a mere man, is often called God, why should we give to the passage
under con sideration a sense so literal as to subvert piety, abuse our reason, and contradict the whole Bible. To assert that the only true God was with the only true God, is absurd, impious, and false. It is to assert that there are two only true Gods. But to say that the Logos, or Word, or Son, was with God, and was God, that is, represented God, is rational, scriptural, and true. The term with’implies plurality. But there is no intimation here of a plurality of persons in God, an idea which does not appear from the Scriptures, or from history, to have been conceived till long after the time of Christ and his Apostles. The plurality implied is a plurality not of persons merely, but of Gods; that is, ane who was God in a subordinate sense, was with Him who was God supreme.* As St. Paul has asserted that
*The following are the remarks of Professor Stewart.
“ The Logos was with God : i. e. with the Father. This is capable of no tolerable interpretation, without supposing that the Logus who was with God, was in some respect or other, different or diverse from the God with whom he was ; and therefore by no means to be confounded with him."
Here I agree with Stewart. The Logos who was with God, cannot be the God he was with ; and is not to be confounded with him.
Logos sometimes denotes the wisdom and power of God. But it would seem like trifling for Jolin to say the wisdom or power of God was. with God - Where else could they be ?
“ If a man,” says Stewart, “ should gravely assert that the wisdom or power of Peter is with Peter; and add, the wisdom and power of Peter aru Peter: with what class of mystics should we rank him ?”
Again he says, “What could be the object of John, in asserting that the Logos was with God ! ) auswer : to be withone, indicates conjunction, af.