Page images

sonified and represented as saying: "Those who eat me shall yet be hungry, and those who drink me shall yet be thirsty." Thus too in the Talmud, R. Hillel, who asserted that the Messiah had already come, is said to have been opposed by other doctors, who maintained that "the Israelites were yet to eat the days of the Messiah." He, on the contrary, affirmed that "they had eaten their Messiah in the days of Hezekiah."†

But in the words following those last quoted from our Saviour's discourse, there is an accession to the figure. It becomes the vehicle for expressing a new fact. He says: "But the bread which I will give is my body, which I will give for the life of the world." In this language, he refers, I conceive, to his own death. He goes on: "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you have not life within you"; and he repeats and insists upon this strong figure. When he thus describes the food of life, of which his followers were to partake, as his own flesh and his own blood, the only purpose, I believe, of this amplification of the figure is to show that the blessings to be enjoyed through him were to be purchased by his violent death. It was, I think, so understood, at least partially, by those who heard him. His object was to destroy all hope of his establishing a splendid temporal kingdom, such as the Jews had been expecting; and thus to repress

[blocks in formation]

† See Wetstein's note on John vi. 51. [See also Noyes's note on Ezekiel iii. 1.]

all worldly motives in those who were inclined to be his followers. Their Master was not to be a conqueror and a monarch, as they might have hoped, dispensing honors and favors to his adherents and countrymen; the sacrifice of his own life was required, a bloody death was to be suffered by him, in order that his followers might enjoy those blessings of which he was the minister. So, as I have said, he appears to have been understood; and many of his followers in consequence deserted him.

"Thus taught Jesus in a synagogue at Capernaum. Then many of his disciples, when they heard him, said, This is hard teaching; who can listen to it? But Jesus, knowing in his own mind that his disciples were murmuring on account of his discourse, said to them, Does this give you offence? What, then, if you should see the Son of Man ascending where he was before?"*

The meaning is, Does it offend you that I speak of my death? What, then, if you shall see me rising from the dead, and appearing where I was before? When Jesus made mention of his death, he on other occasions connected it with the prediction that he should rise from the dead. To his resurrection he alludes as a signal proof to be given of the divinity of his mission, but never elsewhere to his ascension.† After the words

*John vi. 59-62.

† See an explanation of this verse in Simpson's Essays on the Language of Scripture. [For a somewhat different explanation, taken from Mr. Norton's Notes on the Gospels, see Appendix, Note A.]

which have been quoted, he goes on, contrary in some degree to his usual custom, to explain in part the figurative language which he had used: "What is spiritual," he says, "gives life. The flesh profits nothing";- that is, my flesh would profit you nothing;-"the words which I speak to you are spiritual, and give life.” *

It has been contended by some modern German divines, who appear themselves to regard Christ merely as a human teacher, that he was believed or represented by his Apostles, if not by himself, to have been a pre-existent being, the Logos of God. They appeal, of course, to some of the 'same passages which are brought forward by Trinitarians and others in support of this doctrine, and in proof of the deity of Christ in which it is implied. But we may here make the general remark, that if the Apostles had regarded their Master as an incarnation of a great pre-existent spirit, far superior to man, they would not have left us to gather their belief from a doubtful interpretation of a few scattered passages. No fact concerning him, personally, would have been put forward in their writings with more prominence and distinctness. None would have been oftener brought into notice. None would have more strongly affected their imaginations and feelings. None would have been adapted more to affect their disciples. St. Matthew would not have written an account of his Master, as it must be

* John vi. 63.

conceded that he has, without anywhere expressly declaring the fact. The Apostles would have left us in as little doubt concerning their belief of it, as concerning their belief of his crucifixion and resurrection.


Passages relating to the divine authority of Christ as the minister of God, to the manifestation of divine power in his miracles and in the establishment of Christianity, and to Christianity itself, spoken of under the name of Christ, and considered as a promulgation of the laws of God's moral government, which have been misinterpreted as proving that Christ himself is God.

FOR example: there are two passages in 'the prophecies of the Old Testament which speak of a messenger as going before Jehovah to prepare his way and announce his coming. They are:

Isaiah xl. 3. "A voice is crying, Prepare ye in the waste the way of Jehovah, make straight in the desert a road for our God."

Malachi iii. 1. "Lo! I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me."

These passages are in the Gospels applied to John the Baptist, the precursor of Christ.*

* Matthew iii. 3; xi. 10; Mark i. 2, 3; Luke i. 76; iii. 4; vii. 27; John i. 23.

The angel, who, according to the narrative in the first chapter of Luke's Gospel, announced the birth of John, is likewise represented as saying to Zachariah:

"And many of the sons of Israel will he turn back to the LORD, their God; and he will go before him with the spirit and the power of Elijah."*

From these passages, it is inferred that Christ is Jehovah. But they admit of an easy explanation.

In conformity to the rude apprehensions of the Jews, we often find in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, strong, and, in themselves considered, harsh figures applied to God, which are borrowed from the properties, passions, and actions of man, and even of the inferior animals. Among them is the common figure by which God, in giving any peculiar manifestation of his power, is represented as changing his place, and coming to the scene where his power is displayed. But if we except the case of miraculous operations exerted directly upon the minds of men, the power of God must be manifested by means of sensible objects. It is often represented as exerted through the agency of human beings, and other conscious ministers of his will. When thus exerted, its effects, and the circumstances by which its display is attended, are sometimes referred to God as the ultimate cause, and sometimes to the immediate agent. What is said in one case to be done by an angel, or by Moses, or by Christ, or by some other

* Luke i. 16, 17.

« EelmineJätka »