Ralph Wardlaw.

Discourses on the principal points of the Socinian controversy online

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the Old Testament and in tlic New, that the names God
and Jehovah are, in their proper and highest sense, giv-
en to Christ : — and also, that he is distinctly represented
as possessing the Divine attributes of Eternal Existence,
Almighty Power, Omnipresence, and Omniscience.

Still deferring further recapitulation, I now go on imme-
diately to the two remaining articles of discourse.

III. We affirm, then, in the third place, that Works
are ascribed to Jesus Christ in the Scriptures, to which
no being is competent but the Supreme God.

The most supei-ficial reader of the Gospel history can
hardly fail to be struck, — I do not say with the miracles
themselves which Jesus is recorded to have performed—
Ibr similar wonders were wrought by the prophets before,
and by the apostles after him ; — but by the iieculiar man-
ner in which some of these miracles are described as hav-
ing been done. '■'• He arose, and rebuked the winds, and
said unto the sea, Peace, be still ! and immediately there
was a great calm." Do not these words remind us of that


Being, of Avhom it is said, in the sublime language of the
psalmist : ""He stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of
their waves, and the tumult of the people ?"* When the
Redeemer performed this miracle, the persons who were
in the ship were tilled with amazement and dread, and
said one to another, " What manner of man is this, that
even the winds and the sea obey him !''f Had the name
of the almighty Jehovah been invoked, or in any way ac-
knowledged, when the command was given that hushed
the tiirlmlenee of the storm ; — although the instantaneous
suddenness of the effect could not have failed to strike
them with wonder, yet the cause of tlie astonishment would
not have been such as is here described. They could, in
that case, have been at no loss, even for a moment, to ac-
count for what was done. But, " the winds and the sea
OBEY HIM !" Here seems to have lain the chief cause of
tlieir amazement. They saw a man — in external appear-
ance like one of themselves. Yet this man " spoke, and
it was done." — spoke with the authority and the majesty
of one who was conscious of having in himself the neces-
sary power. And wlien they expressed the perplexity of
their minds — as respecting a fact for which they were un-
able to account — saying, " What manner of man is this ?''
the true answer would have been, " He is a man, in union
with Deity : — he is Immanuel, God with us."

There is nothing from which we can conceive the mind
of a holy creature to revolt with deeper abhorrence, than
the discovery of his having said or done any tiling that
could lead his fellow-creatures to imagine, even for an in-
stant, tliat he claimed equality with God, ! And the high-
er we ascend in the scale of being, the more strongly, we
cannot but suppose, Avould such impression of abliorreuce
be felt ; so that to consider Jesus as the most exalted of
created beings, instead of weakening, adds strength to this
» Tsalm Ixv. r. t Mark iv. 39—11.


view of the argument, arising from his words and conduct
wliiie he sojourned among men. We should certainly
have expected, that a creature of this character, feelingly
alive to whatever bore the remotest resemblance to impie-
ty, and deeply sensible that there could be no impiety, no
blasphemy, so heinous, as that of seeming to claim equal-
ity with the iniinite God, — had he perceived in the minds
of those with whom he conversed, the thought arising that
he seemed to be advancing such a claim, would have shud-
dered with instinctive horror ; would have hastened to
disclaim the imputation, in language of whicli the meaning
could not be mistaken ; and would sedulously have shun-
ned every form of speech, and every mode of conduct, that
could possibly countenance a supposition so inexpressibly
shocking to his mind.

The application of these remarks to the case of Jesus
might be illustrated by a variety of instances. I shall at
present, however, notice only another incident, in addition
to the one already mentioned. " There came a leper to
him, doing him obeisance, and saying, Sir, if thou wilt,
thou canst make me clean.''* What is his reply to this
address ? Should we not expect a creature, of the charac-
ter before described, to say : " If thou icilty thou cavst I
■ — Impute not the poicer to me. I may be willing indeed ;
but God alone is a6/e." Such was the humble spirit of
his faithful apostles, when tliey said, " Why look ye so
earnestly on us, as though by our own power and holiness
we had made this man to walk ?" — and when " they rent
their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out. Sirs,
why do ye these things ? We also are men of like infirm-
ities with yourselves."! Far different is the answer of

* I adopt here the translation of obeisance for worship, and Sir for
Lnrd, merely to show, that it is not on the terms of this leper's ad-
dress that the stress of the present argument in any degree rests.
t Aets iii. 12. xiv. i5.


Jesiis : "• / will : Be thmi clean /*' — If Moses and Aaron
were ])unishe(l with exclusion from the land of promise,
because they failed to sanctify the name of Jehovah, in the
eyes of the children of Israel, at the waters of Meribah,
performing the miracle with inconsiderate passion, as if
the power had resided in themselves — " Hear now, ye
rebels, shall we fetch you water out of this rock ?'^ surely
these words of Jesus must have been rebuked, as words of
unparalled presumption, by that God who " will not give
his glory to another." But, in truth, there was no pre-
sumption in them. He who uttered them, although he
appeared on earth in " the form of a servant,^' to execute
a special commission, which he had voluntarily undertak-
en to fulfil ; and although in conformity with the officiar
character which he had thus assumed, he speaks of " the
works which he did in his Father's name, bearing witness
of him that the Father had sent him ;" — was, at the same
time, the ^^ Fellow of the Lord of hosts,'' possessing in
himself underived and independent power.

Of this you will, I trust, be more fully convinced, and
your surprise will thoroughly cease at the manner in which
such miracles as those now referred to were performed,
when I have shown you, as I shall now proceed to do,
that the creation of all things is one of the works as-
cribed in the Scriptures to Jesus Christ.

1. John i. 1 — 3. "^ In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God. Jill things
were made by him ; and without him was nut any thing
made that was made.''

These words, say the opposers of our Lord's Divinity,
ought to be translated : "AH things were done by him, and
without him was not any thing done that has been done/'*

* The orii>Inal words are n«vr» Si' ccvtov tycvero' kxi x"!"^ avTor-.

iysvero ovSe fv o ytyovev.


•^ The beginning,'^ say they, " means the begiuniiig of the
Christicm disjJensatioii, or of the ministry of Christ ;" —
and by " all things/^ we are to understand all things in
that disjjensation.

On this view of the passage I beg yom* candid attention
to the following remarks.

There seems to be an obvious connexion between the
expression " In the beginning/^ and the words '' All
things were done by him:'^ the former expressing the
time of the latter. Now, with what propriety could it
be said, that in the beginning of his ministry, or in the
beginning of the Christian dispensation, all things in
that dispensation, were done by him ? — '•• The begin-
ning'^ becomes, on this hypothesis, a phrase of no defi-
nite meaning : — it is impossible to say what period
of time it includes. All things in the Christian dis
pensation were not, surely, done by Jesus, in the coin-
mencement of his ow n personal ministry : — are we to in-
clude, then, the whole of his ministry ? — But it is further
said — ^* Without him was not any thing done that was
done ; which means, it is alleged, that ^' as all things in
the Christian dispensation w ere done by his autliority, and
according to his direction ; in the ministry committed to
his ajwstles nothing teas done without his warrant.^^ Is
'Hhe beginning,'' tjien, to be considered as comprehending
the period of their ministry also ? — If, on the contrary, Ave
connect the expression ^' in the beginning,^^ with tlie de-
claration '^ All things w ere made by him," and consider
the writer as speaking of the original formation of the
material universe, and as referring to the language of the
inspired historian of the creation at the opening of the book
of Genesis, " In the beginning God created the heavens
and the earth ;" we obtain not only a definite meaning to
each of the phrases separately, but, at the same time, a
manifest and consistent alliance hetiveen them.


But the word, we are reminded, here rendered ^^ were
made^'^ is a word, which, altiiou2;h it very often occurs in
the New Testament, is never used in the sense of creation.
*^ It signifies to he, to come, to become, to come to pass, to
be done or transacted.^^

I shall not tax your patience by entering here into minute
verbal criticism. Two remarks will, 1 think, be sufficient.

1. It will not, 1 presume, be questioned, that, among
the various general meanings of this word, it signifies not
merely to he, but to hegin to he — to come into heing or ex-
istence — either absolutely, or in any particular state of the
thing which is spoken of. Now, without entering into
any particular examination of those passages where it is
usually considered as signifying to he made, this of itself,'
I should think, is quite enough. For surely, when a pro-
ducing agent is at the same time mentioned, to come into
existence hy means of that agent, amounts to much the
same thing with heing made hy him.

2. It must not be overlooked, that this writer himself,
in this very context, fixes the sense in which he uses it,
beyond all reasonable doubt. In verse 10th, he says of
Christ, the true light — *• He was in the world, and the
world was made by him, and the world knew him not.'' —
^^ The world was made by him,*' is the very same phrase
in the original witii ^^ all things were made by him," in the
third verse.* Nothing, one should think, can be more de-
cisive than this. — How, then, is this second passage to be
disposed of? " The world icas done by him," it is ob-
vious, will no longer answer. An expedient, however, is
at hand : — but one, of the candour of whose inventor, I
honestly confess, I have not charity sufficient to persuade
myself. The words here, it seems, must be rendered, by
means of a supplement, — " and tlic world was — enlight-
ened — by him !" To the merest sciolist in Greek, this


translation, (if such it must be called) may be left to its
own merits. But it is not, by any means, ignorance of
Greek that has produced it. It is not easy for charity itself
to ascribe it to any thing else than attachment to a system :
which, in so many instances, warps the judgment ; makes
^' the worse appear the better reason ;" disposes to the
admission of any thing rather than the obnoxious doctrine ;
and causes that to seem natural, which, in other circum-
stances, would be instantly rejected, with indignant deris-
ion. There are not a few unnecessary, and there are some
injurious supplements in our ordinary English Version :
but certainly there is nothing of the kind that can bear a
comparison with this. I only ask any person who has
learned the first elements oi English^ what he should think
of a writer, who, intending to express the sentiment that
the world was enlightened by Jesus Christ, should write
the substantive verb, teas, and leave the word enlightenedy
not only the principal word, but absolutely the only word
by which his meaning could be determined, to be suppli-
ed by the reader ! Yet this is precisely v/hat these critics
suppose the inspired historian to have done in the present
instance. The difference of idiom between the English
language and the Greek can afford no refuge here ; for it
is utterly inconceivable, that this should be an admissible
idiom, in any language whatever. *

* The proposed supplement, however, is professedly taken from
the preceding verse. The two verses together, (with the supplement)

stand thus : Hv to cpa^ to etXti6ivoVy (pa/Ti^it retiree xvSpUTrov i^^ofAi^iot eii
Tov x,oTiA.ov. Ev T6U x,o

Online LibraryRalph WardlawDiscourses on the principal points of the Socinian controversy → online text (page 9 of 36)