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hypothesis that Christ, as the Son of God, possesses di. vine nature by derived existence ?
What then saith the Scripture? We may, in reply to this question, notice several things.
1. Dr. Hopkins has said, - The Redeemer is the Son of i God in a peculiar and appropriated sense, and by which he is distinguished from every other person in the universe." The Doctor adds, He is mentioned as the Son of God. more than an hundred times in the New Testament; and the Father of Jesus Christ the Son, is mentioned above two hundred and twenty times."
The correctness of these statements is not doubted; and on the ground of them I may say, that, according to the natural import of words, Jesus Christ is, in the New Testament, more than three hundred and twenty times mentioned as a DERIVED INTELLIGENCE, an intelligence who has properiy der ved his existence and nature from God. For in contradistinction to angels and men, and to all who may be called Sons of God by creation, or adoption, Jesus Christ is definitively called The Son of God.
2. It is to be observed, that several epithets are used as with explicit design to preclude all mistake, and to give us unequivocal evidence that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most strict sense of the term. He is emphatically called God's own Son." And to denote that God has no other Son in the sense in which Christ is his Son, he is called God's ONLY Son. And more fully to express the idea that he, and he only, properly derived his existence and natre from God, he is called “the ONLY BEGOTTEN Son of God,"..the ONLY BEGOTTEN of the FATHER.'
I would here ask, whether it be possible to find terms which would more clearly and more emphatically express the very thing which I undertook to prove? If no further evidence could be produced in favor of the hypothesis, it would certainly require something very substantial and positive to invalidate what has been already exhibited. But additional evidence is yet to come. What has been produced, is from the general and current language of the New Testament.-We may add,
3. 'It appears to have been one particular design of the miracles which were wrought by Christ, to prove that he was the Son of God; and that, as the Son, was sent of the FATHER into the world.
Christ said to the Jews, “Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness of the truth. But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works which I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.". John v. 33...36.
The account that the Jews sent unto John, and the tes, timony he gave, we have recorded in the first chapter of the same Gospel. . The testimony is this, “But he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God.”
This was the truth to which John testified; but Christ stated, that the works which he did were of greater weight than the testimony of John. And it is observable, that, as it was one design of his miracles to prove that he was the Son of God, so this conviction was produced in the minds of many upon seeing the miracles which he performed. And though many of the Jews rejected this testimony, yet reluctant devils were constrained to acknowledge his dignity and power as the Son of God.
4. Jesus Christ is the Faithful and True Witness and he repeatedly affirmed, “ I am the Son of God;" and he also abundantly, affi: med that God was his FATHER.
I am not insensible, that, on th s ground, some have supposed that Christ meant to affirm his self-existence, independence, and co-eternity with the Father. But surely I can think of no words which would have been less calculated to impress such an idea on an unprejudiced mind. And had it been his design to affirm his self-existence, and at the same time to mislead the minds of his hearers, I know not of any language which would have been more adapted to such a purpose. Would any person of common discernment and common honesty ever think of asserting that he is General Washington, or that he personally existed as early as Genera Washington, by saying, I am the Son of General Washington, and General Washington is my FATHER -But if Christ meant to assert that he derived his existence and his nature from God as a Son from a FATHER, what language could have been more to his purpose than that which he adopted ?
5. The awful displayof Divine majesty and power which were concomitants of the crucifixion of Christ, proa
duced a conviction in the minds of the Centurion and others that Jesus was the Son of God. 6 Now when the" Cen: turion, and they that were w th him, watching Jesus, saw the earth quake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God." And according to the opinion of Saint Paul, he was "de. clared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." Rom. i. 4.
6. That Jesus Christ is the Son of God, was a principal article of primitive Christian faith, and a principal doctrine of apostolic preachi g.
Christ questioned his disciples thus, “ Whom do men say that I, the Son of min, am? They said, Some say thou art John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am ? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the LIVING God.”
Nathaniel, on becoming acquainted with Christ, said unto him, “Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God."
When Christ questioned Martha respecting her faith in him, she replied, " I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.”
After the ascension, when the Eunuch manifested a de sire to be baptized, Philip answered, “ If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." The Eunuch then exhibited his confession of faith, “ I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” And on the ground of this profession he was baptized.
Saint Paul having been converted and commissioned for the Gospel ministry, “ straightway he preached Christ in the Synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”
And the same doctrine he abundantly inculcated in his Epistles.
Dr. Hopkins has noticed, that the Apostle John" men tioned Christ as the Son of God, fifty times--and the Father of Jesus Christ the Son, more than one hundred and thirty times,” in his Gospel and Epistles. And this same Apostle has spoken of faith in Christ, 'that he is the Son of God, as though it were indeed of the highest importance. 6 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. He that believeth
on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself. Whosos ever denięth the Son, the same hath not the Father: Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God ?
Here I would take the liberty to propose a few questions. Is believing that Jesus Christ is a mere man or a mere cream ture, believing that he is the Son of God, God's own Son, the ONLY BEGOTTEN of the Father? Again, Is believing that Jesus Christ is personally the SELF-FXISTENT God, believing that he is truly the Son of God?
Does it not appear, that believing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, was the orthodox faith in the first age of Christianity ? But is this the faith of those who call themselves the orthodox at the present day?
To believe that Christ is personally the self-existent God, and to believe that Christ is truly the Son of God, are, in my view, very distinct things ; and I cannot but be amaz, ed thật ideas so perfectly distinct should ever have been admitted as one and the same.
7. The self-existent and SUPREME MAJESTY, by an audible voice from Heaven, did repeatedly confirm the truth which I have aimed to support.
4 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water : and lo, the Heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him : and lo! a voice from Heaven, saying, This is my BELOVED, Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Again, at the time of the transfiguration, “Behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and, behold, a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is MY BELOVED Son, in whom I am well pleased ; hear ye him.”
Is it possible, Sir, that any man can attend for a moment to the natural import of these words from Heaven, and then believe that God meant to be understood as saying, This Person, who has been baptized, and transfigured, is the self-existent God, co-eternal with myself, and the selfsame Being ? ... 8. The avowed design of St. John, in writing the hist tory of Jesus Christ, is a proof that in his view Jesus was truly the Son of God. At the close of the 20th chapter, he
says, “ And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this
was a mere man.
book. But these are written that ye MIGHT BELIEVE that Jesus is the CHRIST, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his name.
It has often been supposed, and urged, that John wrote his Gospel at the request of the Bishops of Asia, in support of the Divinity of Christ, and in opposition to the heresy of Cerinthus, and the Ebionites, who held, that Christ
may be very true ; but it does not hence follow, that John wrote in support of your views of the Divinity of Christ ; nor that your sentiments accord with his. And since John has himself told us his object in writing, we have no occasion to resoit to the supposition of others to determine the point. And he tells us, in the most unequivocal manner, that his object in writing was, that his readers might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. And if Jesus Christ was the Son of God in the proper sense of the terms, he was truly a DIVINE Person, in opposition to the opinions of Ebion and Cerinthus.
You will probably urge, that in the very first verse of his Gospel, John says, “The Word was God." This is true ; and it is also true, that in the same verse, and in the next, he says, “ The Word was WITH God.” The God whom the Word was with, was doubt'ess one God; and unless we are to suppose that John meant to affirm a plurality of self-existent Gods, he did not mean to affirm that the Word was God in a sense which implied personal self-existence. Besides, the title, the Word, or the WORD of God, probably denotes that the Son was the MEDIUM of Divine manifestation ; and hence we may easily inter, that it was on the ground of a CONSTITUTID CHARACTER that the Son is called God. John proceeds to say, that all things were made by him ; and Paul tells us how, that God “ created all things By Jesus CHRIST."
In some future Letters, I shall more particularly show in what sense Christ is called God.' But I may here observe, that the general current of John's Gospel corresponds with what he says was his object in writing, viz." That ye might BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his name.
In my next Letter, you may expect still further evidence that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God.