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would either have denied the Divine Authority of St. John's Gospel, or elfe could fupplant the common Interpretation of this Paffage by putting a quite different fenfe upon it: Which fense he could find no way to fupport without fuch pitiful and wretched fhifts, fuch precarious and arbitrary Suppofitions, as a Man of so sharp a Reafon and Judgment as Socinus, could not, I thought, have ever been driven to. But neceffity hath no Laws either of Reason or Modefty, and he who is refolved to maintain an Opinion which he hath once taken up must stick at nothing, but muft break through all difficulties that ftand in his way; And fo the Socinians have here done, as will, I hope, manifeftly appear in the following Discourse.

They grant, that by the Word is here meant Chrift, by whom God fpake and declared his Mind and will to the World; which they make to be the whole Reason of that Name

Name or Title of the Word which is here given him, and not because by Him God made the World: For the Word by which God made the World, they tell us, was nothing but the powerful Command of God, and not a Person who was defign'd to be the Meffias. And because, as I have fhewed before, the ancient Jews do make frequent mention of this Title of the Word of God by whom they fay God made the World, and do likewife apply this Title to the Meffias; therefore to avoid this, Schlictingius fays, that the Chaldee Paraphrafts, Jonathan and Onkelos, do fometimes put the Word of God for God, by a Metonymy of the Effect for the Caufe; but then he confidently denies that they do any where diftinguish the Word of God from the Perfon of God, as they acknowledge that St. John here does; nor do they, fays he, underftand by the Word of God the Meffias, but on the contrary, do oppofe the Word of God to the Meffias: All which

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which is moft evidently confuted by that paffage which I cited before out of the Targum of Jonathan, who renders thofe words concerning the Meffias, The Lord faid unto my Lord, &c. thus, The Lord faid unto his Word, fit thou on my right hand, &c. where you fee both that the Word of God is plainly distinguished from God, and that it is the Title given to the Meffias ; which are the two things which Schlictingius doth fo confidently deny.

This then being agreed on all hands, that by the Word, St. John means the Meffias, I fhall in the next place, fhew by what strained and forced arts of Interpretation the Socinians endeavour to avoid the plain and neceffary consequence from this Paffage of St. John, namely, that the Word had an Existence before he was made flesh and born of the B. Virgin his Mother.

This then, in fhort, is the Interpretation which they give of this Paffage, thanwhich I think nothing

can

can be more unnatural and violent. In the beginning; This they will by no means have to refer to the Creation of the World, but to the beginning of the Gofpel; that is, when the Gospel firft began to be publish'd; then was Chrift, and not before; And he was with God, that is, fays Socinus, Chrift as he was the Word of God, that is, the Gospel of Chrift which was afterwards by him revealed to the World was firft only known to God: But all this being fomewhat hard, firft to understand by the beginning not the beginning of the World but of the Gospel; and then by the Word which was with God to understand the Gospel which before it was revealed was only known to God; they have upon fecond thoughts found out another meaning of those words; And the Word was with God, that is, fays Schlictingius, Chrift was taken up by God into Heaven, and there inftructed in the Mind and Will of God, and from thence fent down into the World

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World again to declare it to Mankind.

And the Word was God; that is fay they, Chrift had the Honour and Title of God conferr'd upon him, as Magiftrates alfo have, who in the Scripture are called Gods: He was God, not by Nature but by Office and by Divine conftitusion and appoint

ment.

All things were made by him: This they will needs have to be meant of the Renovation and Reformation of the World by Jefus Chrift, which is feveral times in Scripture called a new Cre

ation.

This, in fhort, is the Sum of their Interpretation of this Paffage, which I fhall now examine, and to which I fhall oppose three things as fo many invincible prejudices against it.

Firft, That not only all the anci ent Fathers of the Chriftian Church, but fo far as I can find, all Interpreters whatfoever for fifteen hundred years

together

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