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All-ruling and disposing providence assigned unto Christ, and his eternal Godhead thence farther confirmed, with other testimonies thereof.
That Christ is that God who made all things hath been proved by the undeniable testimonies in the last chapter insisted on. That, as the great and wise Creator of all things, he doth also govern, rule, and dispose of the things by him created, is another evidence of his eternal power and Godhead, some testimonies whereof, in that order of procedure which by our catechists is allotted unto us, come now to be considered.
The first they propose is taken from Heb. i. 3, where the words spoken of Christ are, Φέρων τε τὰ πάντα τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυνάμεως αὑτοῦ, — “Upholding all things by the word of his power.”
He who “upholdeth all things by the word of his power” is God. This is ascribed to God as his property; and by none but by him who is God by nature can it be performed. Now, this is said expressly of Jesus Christ: “Who being the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person, upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins,” etc.
This place, or the testimony therein given to the divine power of Jesus Christ, they seek thus to elude:—
The word here,” all things,” doth not, no more than in many other places, signify all things universally without exception, but is referred to those things only 279which belong to the kingdom of Christ; of which it may truly be said that the Lord Jesus “beareth,” that is, conserveth,” all things by the word of his power.” But that the word” all things” is in this place referred unto those things only appeareth sufficiently from the subject-matter itself of it. Moreover, the word which this writer useth, “to bear,” doth rather signify governing or administration than preservation, as these words annexed, “By the word of his power,” seem to intimate.340340 “Hic verbum, omnia, non minus quam in pluribus aliis locis, non omnia in universum sine ulla exceptione designare, verum ad ea tantum quæ ad Christi regnum pertineant referri; de quibus vere dici potest, Dominum Jesum omnia verbo virtutis suæ portare, id est, conservare. Quod vero vox, omnia, hoc loco ad ea duntaxat referatur, ex ipsa materia subjecta satis apparet. Præterea, verbum quo hic utitur scriptor, portare, magis gubernandi vel administrandi rationem quam conservandi significat, quemadmodum illa quæ annexa sunt, verbo virtutis suæ, innuere videntur.”
This indeed is jejune, and almost unworthy of these men, if any thing may be said so to be; for, — 1. Why is τὰ πάντα here “the things of the kingdom of Christ”? It is the express description of the person of Christ, as” the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person,” that the apostle is treating of, and not at all of his kingdom as mediator. 2. It expressly answers the “worlds” that he is said to make, verse 2; which are not “the things of the kingdom of Christ,” nor do our catechists plead them directly so to be. This term, “all things,” is never put absolutely for all the things of the kingdom of Christ. 3. The subject-matter here treated of by the apostle is the person of Jesus Christ and the eminency thereof. The medium whereby he proves it to be so excellent is his almighty power in creating and sustaining of all things. Nor is there any subject-matter intimated that should restrain these words to the things of the kingdom of Christ. 4. The word φέρων, neither in its native signification nor in the use of it in the Scripture, gives any countenance to the interpretation of it by “governing or administering,” nor can our catechists give any one instance of that signification there. It is properly “to bear, to carry, to sustain, to uphold.” Out of nothing Christ made all things, and preserves them by his power from returning into nothing. 5. What insinuation of their sense they have from that expression,” By the word of his power,” I know not. “By the word of his power” is “By his powerful word.” And that that word or command is sometimes taken for the effectual strength and efficacy of God’s dominion, put forth for the accomplishing of his own purposes, I suppose needs not much proving.
Grotius would have the words δύναμις αὑτοῦ to refer to the power of the Father, “Christ upholdeth all things by the word of his Father’s power,” without reason or proof, nor will the grammatical account bear that reddition of the relative mentioned.
About that which they urge out of Jude 5 I shall not contend. The testimony from thence relies on the authority of the Vulgar Latin translation; which, as to me, may plead for itself.
280Neither of what is mentioned from 1 Cor. x. shall I insist on any thing, but only the 9th verse, the words whereof are, “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.” The design of the apostle is known. From the example of God’s dealing with the children of Israel in the wilderness upon their sins and provocations, there being a parity of state and condition between them and Christians as to their spiritual participation of Jesus Christ, verses 1–4, he dehorts believers from the ways and sins whereby God was provoked against them. Particularly in this verse he insists on the tempting of Christ; for which the Lord sent fiery serpents among them, by which they were destroyed, Num. xxi. 6. He whom the people tempted in the wilderness, and for which they were destroyed by serpents, was the Lord Jehovah; now, this doth the apostle apply to Christ: he therefore is the Lord Jehovah. But they say, —
From those words it cannot be proved that Christ was really tempted in the wilderness, as from the like speech, if any one should so speak, may be apprehended. “Be not refractory to the magistrates, as some of our ancestors were.” You would not thence conclude straightway that the same singular magistrates were in both places intended. And if the like phrases of speech are found in Scripture, in which the like expression is referred to him whose name was expressed a little before, without any repetition of the same name, it is there done where another besides him who is expressed cannot be understood; as you have an example of here, Deut. vi. 16, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God, as you tempted him in Massah.” But in this speech of the apostle of which we treat, another besides Christ may be understood, as Moses or Aaron; of which see Num. xxi. 5.341341 “Ex iis verbis doceri non potest, apostolum affirmare, Christum in deserto revera tentatum fuisse; ut e simili oratione, siquis ita diceret, deprehendi potest. ‘Ne sitis refractarii magistratui, quemadmodum quidam majorum nostrorum fuerunt;’ non illico concluderes eundem numero magistratum utrobique designari. Quod si reperiuntur in Scripturis ejusmodi loquendi modi, in quibus similis oratio ad eum cujus nomen paulo ante expressum est, sine ulla illius ejusdem repetitione referatur, tum hoc ibi sit, ubi ullus alius præter cum cujus expressum est nomen, subintelligi possit: ut exemplum ejus rei habes in illo testimonio, Deut. vi. 16, Nos tentabis Dominum Deum tuum, quemadmodum tentasti in loco tentationis. Verum in ea oratione apostoli, de qua agimus, potest subintelligi alias præter Christum, ut Moses, Aaron, etc.; de quo vide Num. xxi. 5.”
1. Is there the same reason of these two expressions, “Do not tempt Christ, as some of them tempted,” and, “Be not refractory against the magistrates, as some of them were”? “Christ” is the name of one singular individual person, wherein none shareth at any time, it being proper only to him. “Magistrate” is a term of office, as it was to him that went before him, and will be to him that shall follow after him.
2. They need not to have puzzled their catechumens with their long rule, which I shall as little need to examine, for none can be understood here but Christ. That the word “God” should be here understood they do not plead, nor if they had had a mind thereunto is there any place for that plea; for if the apostle had intended God in distinction from Christ, it was of absolute necessity that he should 281have expressed it; nor, if it had been expressed, would the apostle’s argument have been of any force unless Christ had been God, equal to him who was so tempted.
3. It is false that the Israelites tempted Moses or Aaron, or that it can be said they tempted them. It is God they are everywhere said to tempt, Ps. lxxviii. 18, 56; Ps. cvi. 14; Heb. iii. 9. It is said, indeed, “that they murmured against Moses, that they provoked him, that they chode with him;” but to tempt him, — which is to require a sign and manifestation of his divine power, — that they did not, nor could be said to do, Num. xxi. 5.
Grotius tries his last shift in this place, and tells us, from I know not what ancient manuscript, that it is not, “Let us not tempt Christ,” but, “Let us not tempt God:” “Error commissus ex notis Θν. et Χν.” That neither the Syriac, nor the Vulgar Latin translation, nor any copy that either Stephanus in his edition of the New Testament or in his various lections had seen, nor any of Beza’s, nor Erasmus’ (who would have been ready enough to have laid hold of the advantage), should in the least give occasion of any such conjecture of an alteration, doth wholly take off, with me, all the authority either of the manuscript or of him that affirms it from thence.342342 It is now well known that there are manuscripts which give Κύριον instead of Χριστόν, and one or two which sanction Θεόν as the reading, Χριστόν is retained by Tischendorf, as having a great preponderance of evidence in its favour. — Ed.
As they please to proceed, the next place to be considered is John xii. 41, “These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.”
The words in the foregoing verses, repeated by the apostle, manifest that it is the vision mentioned Isa. vi. that the apostle relates unto. Whence we thus argue: He whose glory Isaiah saw, chap. vi., was “the Holy, holy, Lord of hosts,” verse 3, “the King, the Lord of hosts,” verse 5; but this was Jesus Christ whose glory Isaiah then saw, as the Holy Ghost witnesses in these words of John xii. 41. What say our catechists?
First, it appears that these words are not necessarily referred to Christ, because they may be understood of God the Father; for the words a little before are spoken of him, “He hath blinded, hardened, healed.” Then, the glory that Isaiah saw might be, nay was, not present, but future; for it is proper to prophets to see things future, whence they are called “seers,” 1 Sam. ix. 9. Lastly, although these words should be understood of that glory which was then present and seen to Isaiah, yet to see the glory of one and to see himself are far different things. And in the glory of that one God Isaiah saw also the glory of the Lord Christ; for the prophet says there, “The whole earth is full of the glory of God,” verse 3. But then this was accomplished in reality when Jesus appeared to that people, and was afterward preached to the whole world.343343 “Primum, ea verba ad Christum non necessario referri hinc apparet, quod de Deo Patre accipi possint; etenim verba paulo superiors de eodem dicuntur, excæcavit, induravit, sanavit. Deinde, gloriam quam Esaias vidit poterat esse, imo erat, non præsens, sed futura; etenim proprium est vatibus futura videre, unde etiam videntes appellati fuere, 1 Sam. ix. 9. Denique, etiamsi de gloria ea quæ tum præscus erat, Esaiæ visa, hæc verba accipias, longe tamen aliud est gloriam alicujus videre, et aliud ipsummet videre. Et in gloria illius modus Dei vidit etiam Esaias gloriam Christi Domini. Ait enim ibidem vates, Plena est terra glora Dei, Esa vi. 8. Tum autem hoc reipsa factum est, cum Jesus Christus illi populo primum apparuit, et post toti mundo annunciatus est.”
282It is most evident that these men know not what to say nor what to stick to in their interpretation of this place. This makes them heap up so many several suggestions, contradictory one to another, crying that “It may be thus,” or “It may be thus.” But, — 1. That these words cannot be referred to God the Father, but must of necessity be referred to Christ, is evident, because there is no occasion of mentioning him in this place, but an account is given of what was spoken verse 37, “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him;” to which answers this verse, “When he saw his glory, and spake of him.” The other words of “blinding” and “hardening” are evidently alleged to give an account of the reason of the Jews’ obstinacy in their unbelief, not relating immediately to the person spoken of. The subject-matter treated of is Christ. The occasion of mentioning this testimony is Christ. Of him here are the words spoken. 2. The glory Isaiah saw was present; all the circumstances of the vision evince no less. He tells you the time, place, and circumstances of it; — when he saw the seraphims; when he heard their voice; when the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried; when the house was filled with glory; and when he himself was so terrified that he cried out, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” If any thing in the world be certain, it is certain that he saw that glory present. 3. He did not only see his glory, but he saw him; or he so saw his glory as that he saw him, so as he may be seen. So the prophet says expressly, “I have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” And what the prophet says of seeing the Lord of hosts, the apostle expresses by seeing “his glory;” because he saw him in that glorious vision, or saw that glorious representation of his presence. 4. He did, indeed, see the glory of the Lord Christ in seeing the glory of the one God, he being the true God of Israel; and on no other account is his glory seen than by seeing the glory of the one true God. 5. The prophet doth not say that “the earth was full of the glory of God,” but it is the proclamation that the seraphims made one to another concerning that God whose presence was then there manifested. 6. When Christ first appeared to the people of the Jews, there was no great manifestation of glory. The earth was always full of the glory of God. And if those words have any peculiar relation to the glory of the gospel, yet withal they prove that he was then present whose glory in the gospel was afterward to fill the earth.
Grotius hath not aught to add to what was before insisted on by 283his friends. A representation he would have this to be of God’s dealing in the gospel, when it is plainly his proceeding in the rejection of the Jews for their incredulity, and tells you, “Dicitur Esaias vidisse gloriam Christi, sicut Abrahamus diem ejus;” — “Isaiah saw his glory, as Abraham saw his day.” Well aimed, however! Abraham saw his day by faith; Isaiah saw his glory in a vision. Abraham saw his day as future, and rejoiced; Isaiah so saw his glory as God present that he trembled. Abraham saw the day of Christ all the days of his believing; Isaiah saw his glory only in the year that king Uzziah died. Abraham saw the day of Christ in the promise of his coming; Isaiah saw his glory with the circumstances before mentioned. Even such let all undertakings appear to be that are against the eternal deity of Jesus Christ!
In his annotations on the 6th of Isaiah, where the vision insisted on is expressed, he takes no notice at all of Jesus Christ or the second person of the Trinity; nor (which is very strange) doth he so much as once intimate that what is here spoken is applied by the Holy Ghost unto Christ in the gospel, nor once name the chapter where it is done! With what mind and intention the business is thus carried on God knows; I know not.
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