Verse 36. "Wrongeth his own soul " - It is not Satan, it is not sin, properly speaking, that hurts him; it is himself. If he received the teaching of God, sin would have no dominion over him; if he resisted the devil, the devil would flee from him.
Love death. ] They do it in effect, if not in fact, for as they love sin, that leads to death, so they may be justly said to love death, the wages of sin.
He that works in this case, works for wages; and he must love the wages, seeing he labours so hard in the work.
I HAVE gone through this fine chapter, and given the best exposition of it in my power. I have also, as well as others, weighed every word, and closely examined their radical import, their connection among themselves, and the connection of the subject of the chapter with what has gone before, and with what follows after; and I cannot come, conscientiously, to any other interpretation than that which I have given. I am thoroughly satisfied that it speaks not one word either about the Divine or human nature of Christ, much less of any eternal filiation of his Divinity. And I am fully persuaded, had there not been a preconceived creed, no soul of man, by fair criticism, would have ever found out that fond opinion of the eternal sonship of the Divine nature, which so many commentators persuade us they find here. That it has been thus applied in early apes, as well as in modern times, I am sufficiently aware; and that many other portions of the Divine records have been appealed to, in order to support a particular opinion, and many that were false in themselves, must be known to those who are acquainted with the fathers. But many quote them who know nothing of them. As to the fathers in general, they were not all agreed on this subject, some supposing Christ, others the Holy Spirit, was meant in this chapter. But of these we may safely state, that there is not a truth in the most orthodox creed, that cannot be proved by their authority, nor a heresy that has disgraced the Romish Church, that may not challenge them as its abettors. In points of doctrine, their authority is, with me, nothing. The WORD of GOD alone contains my creed. On a number of points I can go to the Greek and Latin fathers of the Church, to know what they believed, and what the people of their respective communions believed; but after all this I must return to God's word, to know what he would have ME to believe. No part of a Protestant creed stands on the decision of fathers and councils. By appealing to the Bible alone, as the only rule for the faith and practice of Christians, they confounded and defeated their papistical adversaries, who could not prove their doctrines but by fathers and councils. Hence their peculiar doctrines stand in their ultimate proof upon THESE; and those of Protestantism on the BIBLE. Some late writers upon this subject, whose names I spare, have presumed much on what they have said on this subject; but before any man, who seeks for sober truth, will receive any of their conclusions, he will naturally look whether their premises be sound, or whether from sound principles they have drawn legitimate conclusions. They say this chapter is a sufficient foundation to build their doctrine on. I say it is no foundation at all; that it never has been proved, and never can be proved, that it speaks at all of the doctrine in question. It has nothing to do with it.
On this conviction of mine, their proofs drawn from this chapter must go with me for nothing. I have been even shocked with reading over some things that have been lately written on the subject. I have said in my heart, They have taken away my ETERNAL LORD, and I know not where they have laid him. I cannot believe their doctrine; I never did; I hope I never shall. I believe in the holy Trinity; in three persons in the Godhead, of which none is before or after another. I believe JEHOVAH, JESUS, the HOLY GHOST to be one infinite, eternal GODHEAD, subsisting ineffably in three persons. I believe Jesus the Christ to be, as to his Divine nature, as unoriginated and eternal as JEHOVAH himself; and with the Holy Ghost to be one infinite Godhead, neither person being created, begotten, nor proceeding, more than another: as to its essence, but one TRINITY, in an infinite, eternal and inseparable UNITY. And this TRIUNE GOD is the object of my faith, my adoration, and my confidence. But I believe not in an eternal sonship or generation of the Divine nature of Jesus Christ. Here I have long stood, here I now stand, and here I trust to stand in the hour of death, in the day of judgment, and to all eternity. Taking the Scriptures in general, I find a plurality in the Divine nature; taking the grand part mentioned, Matt. iii. 16, 17, I find that plurality restrained to a trinity, in the most unequivocal and evident manner: Jesus, who was baptized in Jordan; the HOLY GHOST, who descended upon him who was baptized; and the FATHER, manifested by the VOICE from heaven that said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And how that person called JESUS the CHRIST, in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, could be called the Son of God, I have shown in my note on Luke i. 35.
Some writers, in their defense of the doctrine above, which I venture to say I do not believe, have made reflections, in real or pretended pity, on the belief of their Trinitarian brethren, which have very little to do with candour: viz., "How the supporters of this hypothesis can avoid either the error of Tritheism on the one hand, or SHebellianism on the other, is difficult to conceive." Now, the supporters of the doctrine of the underived and unbegotten eternity of Christ's Divine nature might as well say of them: How the supporters of the eternal sonship of Christ can avoid the error of Arianism on the one hand, and Arianism on the other, it is difficult to conceive. But I would not say so; for though I know Arians who hold that doctrine, and express their belief nearly in the same words; yet I know many most conscientious Trinitarians who hold the doctrine of the eternal sonship, and yet believe in the proper deity, or eternal godhead, of Jesus Christ. After all, as a very wise and excellent man lately said: "While we have every reason to be satisfied of the soundness of each other's faith, we must allow each to explain his own sentiments in his own words: here, in the words used in explanation, a little latitude may be safely allowed." To this correct sentiment I only add: - Scimus; et hanc veniam petimusque damusque vicissim.
"I grant it; and the license give and take." I have passed the waters of strife, and do not wish to recross them: the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. I will have nothing to do with ill-tempered, abusive men; I wish them more light and better manners.
And while I am on this subject, let me add one thing, which I am sure will not please all the generation of his people; and it is this: that Jesus Christ, having taken upon him human nature, which was afterwards crucified, and expired upon the cross, did by those acts make a full, perfect, and sufficient offering, sacrifice, and atonement for the sin of the whole world.
That he died, paid down the redemption price, for every soul of man, that was ever born into the world, and shall ever be born into it. That all who lay hold on the hope set before them shall be saved; (and all may thus lay hold;) and none shall perish but those who would not come to Christ that they might have life. And that men perish, not because they were not redeemed, but because they would not accept of the redemption.
To conclude on this subject, it will be necessary to refer the reader to the remarkable opposition that subsists between this and the preceding chapter. There, the prostitute is represented as going out into the streets to seek her prey; and the alluring words of carnal wisdom to excite the animal appetite to sinful gratification, which she uses: here, heavenly wisdom is represented as going out into the streets, to the high places, the gates of the city, to counteract her designs, and lead back the simple to God and truth.
These personifications were frequent among the Jews. In the Book of Ecclesiasticus we find a similar personification, and expressed in almost similar terms; and surely none will suppose that the writer of that Apocryphal book had either the Christian doctrine of the Trinity or the sonship of Christ in view.
"I will give a few passages: " - "WISDOM shall glory in the midst of her people; in the congregation of the Most High shall she open her mouth, and triumph before his power. I came out of the mouth of the Most High, and covered the earth as a cloud.
I dwelt in the high places; I alone compassed the circuit of the heaven, and walked in the bottom of the deep, in the waves of the sea, and in all the earth. He created me from the beginning, before the world; and I shall never fail. I am the mother of fair love, and fear, and knowledge, and holy hope. I therefore, being eternal, am given to all my children which are named of him. Come unto me, and fill yourselves with my fruits. I also came out as a brook from a river, and a conduit into a garden," &c., &c., Eccles. xxiv. 1, &c. This kind of personification of wisdom we have had in the preceding chapters; and in the following chapter we shall find the figure still kept up.