« PreviousContinue »
world before the incarnation, when Christ spake to them by patriarchs and prophets, by the voice of conscience and the works of nature; in the second, by the ungodly in general, but specially by his own peculiar people whom he addressed in person. The design of this repetition plainly is, to give an intensity of coloring to the picture which the evangelist draws of the aggravated guilt of the Jews in rejecting him.
The touches of John are very brief and few; but still, they are exceedingly significant. The nature of the Logos, the creative displays of his power, his moral and spiritual operations on the minds of men, and the reception which they gave him, and his exclusive competence and claim to be their Saviour are all presented within the compass of one short paragraph. We might naturally expect that such brevity would be the occasion of some obscurity. And so it is. But a diligent and patient enucleation of all the particulars, and then a comparison of them with each other, will enable any one to perceive the true order, the method, and the intimate relation and connection of the whole discourse. It is very far from being a mere succession of apothegmatic sentences. The bands which unite the whole in one compact unity, are some of them indeed of so fine a texture, that they require careful inspection in order to perceive and appreciate them. But when once developed, the reader is struck with the relation and the harmony of the whole. Well might John suppose, that such an introduction to his Gospel would excite in the reader a strong curiosity to proceed in the perusal of his work, and see what had been the developments of that mysterious and wonderful personage, who is thus introduced and commended to his notice.
One question however remains, and it is one of rather serious import. How comes it that the sufferings and death of Christ, the all atoning sacrifice for sin, which throughout the New Testament, with the exception of the historical narratives, is everywhere the predominating theme how comes it, that no account of these is introduced into John's prologue? The first view that is taken of this matter, probably awakens in most persons some degree of surprise. Very naturally will it produce such an effect, whenever the course of further development, on the part of the evangelist, is not examined with care. A close scrutiny, however, of the prologue and of the succeeding contents of the book, will lead the inquirer to see, that John has not attempted the completion of his whole picture, in the sketch that he has drawn at the beginning. It is merely an introductory sketch. In this, he gives us only what took place antecedent to the close of the ministry of Jesus. But of all the writers in the N. Test., John is one of the last who can be charged with having overlooked, or given only a secondary place to, the value of the sufferings and death of Christ. In
John I. 18.
the sequel to his prologue, and without delay, he introduces this theme. He commences so far back as the anticipative testimony of the Baptist. That personage, immediately after baptizing Jesus, directed the attention of the multitudes around him, to his acknowledged Lord and Master, and exclaimed: “Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world!" 1: 27. This declaration he repeats on another occasion, 1: 36. At the outset of the Saviour's public ministry, Jesus declared to Nicodemus, that "the Son of man must be lifted up, in order that they who believe in him may not perish," John 3: 14, 15. And again, "God so loved the world that he gave up (ïdwxɛ) his only begotten Son, (i. e. gave him up to death), that believers might be saved," 3: 16. To the Jews, who disputed against him, Jesus declared, that "they must eat the flesh, and drink the blood of the Son of man, that they might have life," John 6: 53. Again he declares, that "he lays down his life for the sheep," John 10: 11. The high priest Caiaphas is represented by John as declaring, under a constraining divine influence, that "Jesus should die for that nation [the Jews], and for all the people of God scattered abroad," John 11: 51, 52. John's epistles are replete with the doctrine, that "the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin," 1 John 1: 7. 2: 2. 3: 16. 4: 10. 5: 6, al. The Apocalypse above all other books places the blood of Christ on the highest ground of preeminence. To quote is unnecessary. The fact alleged lies on the face of the whole production.
It is not then because John overlooked or under-estimated the great, the all important subject of the atonement, that he has not introduced it into his preface. It was because his plan of writing remitted the consideration of this subject to what follows the preface; for in the sequel he makes it occupy the highest place in the testimony of John the Baptist. It is indeed very natural to raise a question respecting the omission of any mention of atonement in the preface to John's Gospel. But the answer to this question may, with good reason, be regarded as sufficient and satisfactory. John's prologue was not designed to include an account of the end of Christ's work on earth, but only to touch on what preceded the incarnation, and what took place afterwards in the most general sense, while the Saviour was employed in the execution of his mission to our world. That which respects the close of his great mediatorial and saving work, is related elsewhere in John's Gospel (chap. xiii.-xxi.); and related more fully than by any other Evangelist.
[It now remains to redeem the promise made to my readers, to lay before them the discussion of Dorner respecting the Logos of Philo of Alexandria, with some remarks on the subject. But the space which I have already occupied, renders it inconvenient to insert it in the present number of this Review.]
OF THE EXISTENCE AND NATURAL ATTRIBUTES OF THE DIVINE BEING.
By George I. Chace, Prof. of Chemistry and Geology in Brown University.
THE innumerable forms of matter which everywhere reveal themselves to the senses, may be contemplated under several distinct points of view. In the first place we may regard them as separate and detached bodies, having no common relations, and sustaining no common dependencies. We may examine each one of them individually. We may observe its form, we may ascertain its structure, we may learn its dimensions, and may make ourselves acquainted with its various mechanical and sensible properties. Having done this, we may further compare these bodies with one another, marking their resemblances and noting their differences, and may finally arrange them in classes, orders, and families according to their observed affinities. It is by pursuing such a course that the portion of knowledge has been created which constitutes the Science of Natural History.
Or, secondly, we may direct our attention to the relations which these several bodies sustain to one another. We may observe their modes of action and reäction under all the different circumstances in which they naturally occur, or in which for the purposes of experiment, we may place them. We may note and compare the results of our observations, and may pass thence by induction to those general laws by which all matter is alike governed, and upon the ceaseless operation of which, its larger and more sensible phenomena are immediately dependent. The facts and principles of which we should thus gain possession, reduced to their proper order and connections, would constitute that part of the science of nature which has been denominated Natural or Mechanical Philosophy.
Or, thirdly, we may direct our inquiries to the elementary particles or atoms, of which the material masses are composed. We may examine these atoms, and see whether they all present the same characters, or whether there be not different kinds of matter. And having ascertained the truth of the latter supposition, we may take each one of the different elements whose existence has been determined, and bringing it into relation successively with every other element, we may
Matter in its Relation to a Higher Power.
thus develop its several properties. But, before we have proceeded far in our investigation, we cannot fail to discover in nearly all the different elements or kinds of matter, a disposition more or less strong to enter into union with one another. In truth, when these elements are brought together under favorable circumstances, such union is found in almost every instance actually to take place. We have now a new subject for study. We have a class of compound bodies differing in their properties widely from the elements of which they are composed-in themselves extremely numerous, and moreover entering in turn into new combinations, and thereby giving rise to all the endless variety of substances found in the mineral, vegetable and animal worlds. The phenomena which come under our review in these inquiries belong more immediately to the Science of Chemistry.
Or, fourthly, we may contemplate matter neither in its masses nor yet in its atoms, but in those complex organic forms which it assumes on entering the structure of plants and animals. Here a new set of phenomena present themselves, as unlike those which arise from the mere chemical properties of matter, as these latter are unlike those dependent upon the mechanical properties - phenomena of a much higher order and of a more varied character-phenomena termed vital, because they are exhibited only during the continuance of those mysterious and complex relationships which constitute life, or upon which life is immediately dependent. These phenomena, however, are as entirely due to matter under the peculiar forms in which it is combined and aggregated, and in the peculiar relations in which it is placed, as any of its simplest and most familiar manifestations. They grow as directly out of the inherent constitutional endowments of the original atoms, which required only to be placed under the proper conditions in order to their exhibition. The study of these phenomena and of the laws which regulate and determine them, so essential to the forming of any just ideas of the vegetable and animal functions, is the especial business of the physiologist.
Or, lastly, we may consider matter not in the relations which the different portions of it, whether larger or smaller, whether organic or inorganic, sustain to one another, but in that higher relation which all matter sustains to a power without and beyond itself. From the principles of our mental constitution, we are necessarily led to infer from what we see in the world around us, the existence of such a power. It is a part of that great primary law of human belief, that every effect a cause in its nature adequate to produce it. Wherever we turn our eyes we behold the evidences not only of power but of intelligence and design. The universe itself is but a vast sys
must have a cause
tem of means wisely adapted to the production of ends. Whether we look at it as a whole, or view it in the detail of its parts, this great fact equally forces itself upon our observation. The development of lifeintelligent and conscious life is the sublime object to which all its provisions look, and in the accomplishment of which all its agents find their appropriate and intended office. The celestial mechanism lies back of the terrestrial, which it regulates and to a great extent even determines. This in turn furnishes the conditions of existence to the innumerable animal and vegetable tribes with which the surface of our globe is covered. Arrest the earth in its course round the sun, or change in any manner its relations to that luminary so that light, heat, and electricity should no longer flow from it in the same measured quantities, and the disturbing influence would be felt through every link of the entire chain of physical causes which binds together the terrestrial phenomena. All the conditions of organic existence would be changed, and disorder, desolation and death would quickly pervade regions which are now teeming with an exuberance of life and clothed in perennial beauty. So many and so mighty are the agencies employed in maintaining the life of the feeblest plant! So vast and so complicated is the system of means made tributary to the sustenance and well-being of the humblest animal!
It is not, however, in the general constitution of the universe, or even in the physical arrangements of our own planet, that we discover the clearest and most unequivocal evidence of contrivance and design. The assemblage of instrumentalities employed here is so vast, and the objects to which they are directed are so remote, that we cannot in all cases perceive the relation between them, and even when we are able to trace it, it is in parts of a system every way so far surpassing our powers of comprehension, that we do not feel quite certain whether the connection may not be simply accidental. Moreover, the effort of imagination necessary for taking in even the parts of a scheme of such vast magnitude, as well as the emotion awakened by their contemplation, is unfavorable to that clear perception and that calm and logical deduction which can alone inspire the mind with full confidence in its own decisions.
For the clearest evidence of adaptation, the strongest and most overwhelming proofs of intelligence and design, we must look to the structure of organic beings. Each one of these, which crowd upon our view in countless myriads wherever we turn our eyes, is as complete in itself, forms a whole as perfect in all its parts, and as perfectly adapted to the ends intended to be accomplished by it, as the world to which it belongs or the universe itself, of which that world forms so