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himself placeth the propriety of the name, not on his equality with God, the Father; but on his being sanctified and sent into the world. It is evident from various instances of the conduct of the Apostles towards their Lord, that they did not understand him as professing or claiming the character of the true God, by assuming this title, Son of God: as when they rebuked him; when they questioned his knowledge of some things; when they wondered, and
were astonished at his working miracles. The terms, Christ and Son of God are equivalent, and used one for the other, as appears from Matt. xxvi. 63; Luke xxii. 66, 70; John i. 34–39; ch. xi. 27 ; ch. xx. 31. Peter’s applauded confession of Christ's character is in these words: “Thou art * “ the Christ, the Son of the living God.” So also John vi. 69, “We believe and are sure, that thou “art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” But in Mark viii. 29, it is, “Thou art the Christ of “ God:” and Luke ix. 20, “The Christ of God.” The name, Son of God, bears therefore the same sense in the mouths of the Apostles as it doth in the writings of modern Unitarians. The faith on which the former baptized converts, is the same principle, which the latter contend is the one fundamental doctrine of christianity. They look upon themselves as speaking and acting, in this instance, under high authority : under the authority of the uniform language of the New Testament: under the sanction o - of of the approved confession of Peter, on which the christian church was to be built.*. This explanation of the name, Son of God, is confirmed by what occurs in the next, the 9th chapter; nay, what occurs there tends to establish the view which has been given, from the preceding chapters, of the doctrine taught by the Apostles. It relates the manner of Saul’s conversion to the faith of Christ, and the grounds on which he commenced a preacher of that gospel, the believers in which he had persecuted. This remarkable change took place, even when he was executing a commission to “bind “ all that called on the name of Jesus:” i. e. all the disciples of Christ. To “call on the name of Christ” is, say the critics, to give up his name to Christ, and to profess himself his disciple t. This is a just and grammatical sense of the words. The phrase was used with peculiar propriety at that time to point out the disciples of Christ: for the chief priests had forbidden any one to name Christ, or to preach and speak in his name; 'ch. iv. 17, 18; John ix. 22. Hence it was a mark of discipleship to avow his name f : it was strongly expressive both of attachment and fortitude in those who professed it; a sign that they gloried in it.
[* Watts's “Important Questions," p. 9]
[+ Du Veil in loc, ; and Leigh's Critica Sacre.]]
f Calvin, a quoted by Engedians cor. i. 21
Against such Saul was armed with power and authority ; when, by an extraordinary step of divine providence and the vision of Jesus, he was stopped in his career, awakened to see his error, and brought over to the faith he persecuted. Immediately after this change, produced by a miraculous process, he became a zealous advocate for the gospel. The following chapters of the Acts of the Apostles are filled, principally, with a narrative of his labours and a detail of his sermons. a
In this chapter the general substance of his preaching is, concisely and summarily, stated: and, though no particular instances of its success are enumerated, it deserves notice in the argument I am discussing. “Straightway,” saith the historian, “he preached “Christ:” or, as some Mss. and all the antient versions read it, “he preached Jesus, in the synagogues, “ that He was the Son of God”:” or, as it is expressed v. 22, “proving, that this is the very Christ.” It appears that the terms, Christ and Son of God, are used, here, as equivalent; as of the same import. This is the point which this recent convert to christianity labours to establish by weighty and solid arguments: namely, That Jesus was the Messiah, or Christ. This principle was the grand subject of the commission he had received. This was the doctrine he was, as “a chosen vessel, to bear,” or
[* See Le Clerc—Dr. Harwood's edition of the Greek Testament,
and Mr. Wakefield's Translation, Note in loc.] - preach,
preach, “before the Gentiles, to the kings and the “ children of Israel.” It is remarkable that, in making this truth the leading subject of his preaching, he did not adopt his plan of preaching from Peter and those who had been, already, laying the foundation of the christian church, but acted under special direction from Christ Jesus. Gal. i. 12, 13. If we may judge of the instructions, which Paul received from Christ himself, by the subsequent strain of his preaching, the substance of which is given in the passage before us, he was not directed to touch, much less to enlarge, upon those points which have been represented by Mr. Fuller as necessary and essential to the conversion of sinners”.]
[* The preceding paragraphs are meant to apply to the following w animadversions of Mr. Fuller, p. 47, 9: “In preaching to the Jews, “ the Apostles insisted that Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah, the Son of God; resting the proof of these assertions upon the fact that God had raised him from the dead : and Dr. Toulmin reckons this to be “what in modern style is called Unitarianism.” But this is proceeding too fast. Before such a conclusion can be fairly drawn, it must be proved that these propositions have the same meaning in the Socinian creed, as in that of the Apostles. If Christ, in professing to be the Son of God, professed to be equal with Ged; and if his countrymen generally so understood him, and therefore accused him of blasphemy, and put him to death: then it is not true, that the Apostles could use these terms in the sense of our opponents; and Dr. Toulmin's conclusion is alto
gether unfounded. “Why does he,” i. e. Dr. Toulmin, asks Mr. Fuller, “skip over * the ninth chapter, which gives an account of the conversion of c 6 *: Saul ?
I next meet with this Apostle receiving an extraordinary commission to preach unto Cornelius and his house, the words whereby he and all his house should be saved. Acts. x. 14. I am all attention on an occasion so singular and solemn. Peter delivers his message : and this is the word, which he saith, “God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching “ peace by Jesus Christ, (he is Lord of all,) which “ was published throughout all Judea and began “ from Galilee, after the baptism which John “preached, namely, how GoD anointed Jesus of “Nazareth, with the holy spirit and with power, “who went about doing good and healing all that “ were oppressed with the devil: for GoD was with “ him. Him whom the Jews slew, and hanged “ upon a tree, GoD raised up the third day and “ shewed him openly—and HE commanded us to “preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he “who was ordained of God to be the judge of the “quick and the dead; to him give all the prophets
“Saul? was it because we there find the primitive christians “ described as calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus 2 (ver. 14, 21.)” “Socinianism Indefensible.” p. 47.-It might have sufficed to reply to this question, that the ninth chapter did not furnish any instances of conversions effected by the preaching of the Apostles. Saul was converted by the appearance of Christ himself to Him. But the remarks on the chapter above may convince Mr. Fuller, that I did not pass it over from any apprehension, that it contained declarations which I was afraid to meet; or which I was desirous of concealing from the reader.]