« PreviousContinue »
4. Let us try, then, if we can find the true meaning of the reply of our Lord to the charge of blasphemy.
ist. Some have conceived that Jesus here reasons on the assumption that the Jews were right in viewing him as no more than a man,--not admitting this, but supposing it; and then, having taken them on their own ground, putting it to them, how they could convict him of blasphemy in calling himself the Son of God, when they knew that mere men, the Judges of Israel, had been called in their own Scriptures by the appellation “ gods, and children--or Sons of the Most High." *_ This has too much of the appearance at least of evasion.
2dly. The more common interpretation is derived from the typical character sustained by those rulers who receive in the passage quoted, the title of gods. That title, it is alleged, be longed to them on account of their typical relation to the Messiah. He was to be in reality what they were typically called. Their designation foreshadowed the true dignity of Him whom they represented : and, as “ the scripture cannot be falsified," the meaning of the designation required to be fulfilled, by the Antitype possessing in reality, what the Type possessed only in name. He, therefore, could not be justly charged with blas phemy, for claiming to himself that Divine dignity which had been pre-intimated in this typical designation. +
* See Poole's Annotations. + See Scott, Guyse, and others, on the passage. The following explanation, suggested by a learned critical friend while these pages were passing through the press, is somewhat different from either of those mentioned. I introduce it here, because, in such circumstances, it becomes me to be diffident of my own judgment. The question for the reader to determine will be, in what way the argument of our Lord is most fully and consistently brought out." In Psal. LXXXII. « 6. I am inclined to think that Christ is the speaker ;-that he owns he had called “ Judges of Israel sons of God, as types of Messiah ;--- that he, however, dis"owns the • assembly of the wicked which was to enclose him,' which he pro“phetically addresses, and predicts their rejection and fallo. The argument in sons of God,! (and the language of Scripare ye cannot condemn) do ye charge “ with blasphemy - him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world,' “ (the Messiah now come, and approved among you by miracles, &c. to be the “ same that spoke in the Psalms). because he applies the same language to him. " self (the Antityne)?" In this explanation, as in the second of those given in the text, it is understood, that the Antitype possessed a claim to the titles in ques. tion in a higher sense than the Type.
3dly. The true point of our Lord's answer appears to me to be somewhat different. It is to be found, I think, in the authority being the same for his applying to himself the title Son of God, in a sense implying equality with the Father, with that which had given the title of gods to the Jewish rulers,
In the first place, it is very obvious that there could be no blasphemy in the case, if, in assuming a title and mode of speech which implied his equality with the Father that sent him, he intimated, only what was true ; i. e, if he really was more than man. The reference, then, is first to the authority of the Old Testament Scriptures. These called the Jewish rulers gods; and “the Scripture cannot be broken," --that is, the language of these inspired records cannot be excepted against. But these Scriptures warranted him, as Messiah, to use a title implying equality with the Father ; for they had represented him as a person who was to sustain this high dignity. Thus in Psalm ii. 8; çx. 1: Isa. ix, 6: with vii. 14: Psalm xlv. 6 : Jer. xxiii. 6. &c.-How, then, could he be justly charged with blasphemy, if the Scripture cannot be broken, and he used no higher title, no title of higher import, than the Scripture, which they acknowledged to be the word of God, assigned to the Messiah ? There could be no blasphemy in using Scriptural appellations in their Scriptural sense, in speaking of himself in terms perfectly in unison with the representations of prophecy. - In the second place, he had presented abundant and
• John X. I think is—If he (the prophetic Messiah) called his types • Gods, or
most decisive evidence that “the Father had sanctified 66 and sent him into the world,”-i. e. had set him apart to his high office, and given him his commission. Now, in mentioning this so particularly here, the sentiment which he intended to express, does not seem to be, that the Father's having sanctified and sent him into the world, entitled him to the appellation Son of God, but rather, that it entitled him to credit in the representations he gave of himself. His commission from the Father, established by so many infallible 6 proofs,” placed his word, in point of authority, on a level with the testimony of their own inspired records. He whom 6 the Father had sanctified and sent into the world," instead of being charged with blaspheny, ought to have been believed in what he said of himself, on the evidence of his Divine commission. If they admitted, that “the Scripture 66 could not be broken,” that, being of Divine authority, its language was not to be excepted against, they ought also to have admitted that his language respecting himself was not to be excepted against, seeing his declarations were proved to be of Divine authority,-proved to be the declarations of one whom “the Father had sanctified and sent into 66 the world,”—by evidence even more abundant and irrefragable than that on which they received the Old Testament Scriptures. On this principle, he is not to be considered as at all reducing the high import of the title by which he called himself, and of what he had said respecting his union with the Father, but as admitting that the sense in which his hearers had understood him was the right sense, and asserting, on the ground of his Divine commission, his title to confidence and to belief.
In the third place, in full consistency with this view of his words, we find him immediately appealing to the evidence by
which his Divine mission was established ;-and making this appeal, with a particular reference to what he had just said of himself:-“ If I do not the works of my Father, believe me $ not; but if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works; 6 that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in s him.”-Do not these words mean, in the connexion in which they stand that ye may know and believe, that what “ I have just said of myself, which has incensed you thus a“ gainst me, is true ?-that I and my Father are indeed 66 one? ”-His words had been interpreted in a sense which, if he was a mere created messenger of God, must have been infinitely offensive to his mind. Yet he thus affirms the truth of them in terms of equivalent import;-terms which confirmed the misunderstanding, and maintained the zealous fury of his hearers :-. Therefore”-i. e. on account of what he had last said, which they perceived to be nothing different in meaning from what he had said before, therefore " they sought again to take him.” Surely had the Jews understood him (as Unitarians insist he ought to be understood) as entirely disclaiming their inference, they would not thus instantly have offered violence to him again, such as made it necessary that he should “escape out of their « hands." -- I cannot but consider the particular connexion in which
the words>" that ye may know and believe that the Fa“ther is in me, and I in him," are here introduced, as an evidence that we do not misinterpret such phraseology, when wę number it amongst the proofs of the Saviour's Divinity.
This is a point, however, on which a few additional remarks may be necessary.
The passage usually adduced in opposition to this inference, is John xyii. 21. 6 That they all may be one, as thou, Fa
« ther, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one " in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent “ me."--It is argued from this passage, that the union declared to subsist between Christ and the Father, is no other in kind than the union of his people with himself, and with the Father, and with one another. But before this conclusion be admitted, let the following things be considered · First. There are two meanings of which the language of the passage is equally susceptible. It may express sameness, or it may express only similarity or resemblancë. We must adopt the one most consistent with the tenor of the Scriptures. Before we adopt the first, and consider it as expressing the sameness of the union between the Father and the Son, with the union of the people of God in the Son and in the Father, we must set aside all the mass of evidence by which Jesus Christ is proved to be God, equal with the Father, and therefore one with him in a higher sense. - Secondly. It is no uncommon thing to use the language of comparison, when we mean to intimate resemblance, only in so far as the compared objects admit of resemblance: Were I, for example, to say, respecting two very intimate friends, that they are one, as a husband and his wife are one; it would not, I presume, be difficult to understand, that the specialties of the conjugal union were not included in the comparison : nor would any person be so foolish as to infer, that the one union was not at all different in kind, but only in degree, from the other. The idea expressed, every one would perceive to be, that there' subsisted between these friends a unity of affection, of feeling and desire, of interests and enjoyments, like 'that which distinguishes the closest and tenderest of earthly connexions. So in the case