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Ante-Nicene Library.III. Tatian, Theophilus, and the Clementine

Recognitions. IV. Clement of Alexandria. Vol. I. Edinburgh:

T. and T. Clark. This fresh instalment of Messrs. Clark's valuable series fully sustains the reputation of its predecessors. The “Clementine Recognitions" are specially valuable because of the prominence given to them in recent discussions. Students therefore will be exceedingly glad to have this very careful and, so far as we have been able to examine, impartial translation. Tatian and Theophilus are but little known, but the fragments of their writings which remain well deserve the place which has been here given them. Of the importance of the works of “Clement of Alexandria,” it is unnecessary for us to speak. With all their merits, they are marked by those faults which mar the beauty and detract from the value of much of the Patristic literature. They serve, however, to exhibit the early development of tendencies, which soon began to exert an injurious influence in the Church, and will well repay careful study. We are glad to see that the series has already received a support which it so richly merits, and would express our sincere hope that ministers and students generally will give it that hearty encouragement which is essential to success. Messrs. Clark are amply redeeming their own promises, and those for whose good they are labouring ought heartily to sustain their efforts.

The Christian Year Book, 1867. London: Jackson, Walford, and

Hodder. This has long been a desideratum. As a rule, Christian men are ignorant of what is passing in the church beyond the narrow circle of their own sect, and, as the result, are too often narrow in their sympathies and judgment. In a time when happily there is a daily increasing catholicity, of feeling this ought not to be, and yet, from the difficulty of obtaining the information, the remedy was not easy to find. The publishers of the present manual have, however, done something towards meeting this difficulty, by the publication of this very complete and valuable digest. It would no doubt be possible to discover errors and suggest some improvements, but the idea is too excellent, and it has been worked out with too much care, to allow of the indulgence of mere petty cavils. We only hope that it will be so supported as to warrant its continuance in future years, when, we doubt not, it will be made to approach nearer to perfection.






"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”—2 Corinthians vi. 17, 18. “I WILL BE A FATHER UNTO YOU !” This is undoubtedly one of the “exceeding great and precious promises” spoken of by the Apostle elsewhere (2 Peter i. 4), as made to believers in Jesus. But, when we read it, does it not occur to us that (according to some teachers, at least) God is already our Father, inasmuch as He is the Father of all mankind ? So, in these days, we are earnestly taught; and it is strongly maintained that Fatherhood, if not the only relation which God bears to mankind, is yet the great and comprehensive relation which rules, and over-rules, all others, and regulates the entire conduct of God towards us. It is certainly an important question whether this is really so.

In order properly to answer this question, it is important to determine in what manner the word Father is to be understood. It is very well known that, in our every-day language, many words are used in two senses, the one literal and the other figurative; the former having a direct, and the latter an analogical, meaning. So we use the word "bread ” literally, when we speak of that which we eat; and Christ used it figuratively, when he said (John vi. 35), “I am the bread of life.” In like manner, the word “father" may be used in two senses. There can be no doubt that on some occasions it is so; and a preliminary question for us is-in which sense is it used in the case before us-the literal or the figurative ?


We are aware that it has been laid down by some writers that the paternal relation rests primarily and originally in the Godhead itself. We hesitate, however, in adopting this general statement. We are aware that in the scriptural representation of the Divine Trinity the terms Father and Son are employed, and that the Son is called “the only begotten of the Father”; but we do not know how to understand these phrases as implying any real act of generation—a process which seems to us utterly incompatible with the essential unity, equality, and eternity of the Deity. It seems to us, rather, that the paternal relation exists primarily among men. In our judgment, a father is strictly a human person, and fatherhood an exclusively human relation; so that, when the terms Father and Son are applied to the first and second persons in the Trinity, they are used analogicallydenoting, indeed, some wonderful and glorious distinction in the Divine nature, but not a real brotherhood or sonship.

It has been strongly asserted that God is, at any rate, the Father of the human nature of our Lord Jesus Christ, and a passage from the Gospel by Luke is relied upon as fully proving this. The passage is as follows:

And the angel answered and said unto her [Mary], The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke i. 35.)

To us, however, on the most attentive and serious consideration of the passage, it appears that no true act of generation is here ascribed to God, and that, consequently, no true relation of fatherhood results. Mary became a mother by an immediate exercise of Divine power: so much the scripture asserts—no more. To say

that this constituted or involved an act of generation is to us an intolerable misapplication of words.

And, as the terms father and fatherhood are to be understood analogically, when applied to God himself, so they might be understood in a similar manner when applied to the relation of God to mankind. God is not literally the father of the human race, or of any portion of them, to whatever extent he may be figuratively so; all that we are taught by the use of this word is that he is in some respects like a father. The question that comes before us, then, is properly this : In what respects is God like a father?

Now, in the use of figurative language it never happens that one thing is like another in all respects. There are always some differences; and, together with these, there may be resemblances in various respects or degrees. So in the case before us.

There is a sense in which God may be said to be the Father of the entire universe, inasmuch as He is the author of its existence;


as a father is (instrumentally) the author of the existence of his child. An example of this use of the paternal relation may be found in the highly poetical language of the Book of Job.

Hath the rain a father ?
Or who hath begotten the drops of dew?
Out of whose womb came the ice ?
And the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it ?

Job xxxviii. 28, 29. There is a higher sense in which God may be called the Father of the human race, and of the human race in its entirety, partly on account of His having created man in His own likeness (Genesis i. 27), and partly on account of the beneficial administration of His providence towards all men.

It does not appear to us, however, that there is any higher sense than this in which God is scripturally said to be the Father of all nien. We know that a different view is maintained by some good and able men, and we shall proceed to give due consideration to their arguments.

The most important arguments in such a case are, of course, those which are drawn from the Holy Scriptures; and we notice particularly, therefore, some passages which have been adduced.

A passage principally relied on is to be found in the Gospel by John, chap. i., ver. 18, where we find the following words of John the Baptist :-“No man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." By some writers John is understood to say that Christ “declared” or revealed the fact that God is “the Father of all mankind, this being "the essential name of God in His relation to our souls." We cannot but think this a misunderstanding of John's words. The word “Father," in this passage, means clearly to relate, not to mankind, but to Christ personally, and to correspond most appropriately with the phrase “ the onlybegotten Son," and just before. The idea would be more completely expressed if one were to read thus-"the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of [His] Father.” It was “God,in a more general view, whom no man had seen, whom Christ came to declare, or reveal, and the word "Father," here employed, determines nothing as to the import of that translation.

On this subject we are referred also to a more extended passage in the Gospel by John, chap. v., vers. 17, 37.

17. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

18. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

19. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

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20. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that him. self doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

21. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

22. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son :

23. That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation ; but is passed from death unto life.

25. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

26. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

27. And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

28. Marvel not at this : for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

29. And shall come forth ; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

30. I can of mine own self do nothing : as I hear, I judge : and my judg. ment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

31. If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.

32. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.

33. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.

34. But I receive not testimony from man : but these things I say, that ye might be saved.

35. He was a burning and a shining light : and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

36. But I have greater witness than that of John : for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

37. And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me.

We are told by some writers that our Lord is here unfolding the fatherly relation of God to mankind at large,“ holding fast the name [Father '] even when he speaks of judgment " (v. 27). Now, it is quite true that the phrase “ the Father” is continually on the lips of our Lord throughout this passage, but there is no evidence that is intended to express God's relation to mankind; on the contrary, it is clear, in our judgment, that it relates to our Lord himself exclusively. It anywhere means “my Father,"

“ His Father," and the omission of the pronoun is a mere example of euphony. This is evident, we think, from the commencement of the passage : “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (ver. 17). Immediately after this our Lord changes His mode of speaking of himself from the first to the third


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