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LETTER II. Additional Evidence that Christ is truly the Son of God.
As introductory to the arguments which I am about to urge, I would suggest to your mind the following suppositions. 1. Suppose that God, in giving the ten commandments on tables of stone, instead of writing the word sabbath-day in the fourth commandment, had left a blank; and in giving the fifth, he left a blank instead of writing the terms father and mother. 2. Suppose he wrote a second time, and filled up those blanks with characters or words which had never before been seen or heard of by men. 3. Suppose he wrote a third time, and instead of leaving blanks for those words, or filling them with unknown characters or terms, he, for sabbath-day, wrote birth-day; and instead of father and mother, wrote son and daughter: suppose also, that these words had never been understood by men to mean any thing different from their common acceptation at the present day. . . . Permit me now to ask, whether either of these modes of writing those commands could be considered as a revelation of the Divine Will & And would not the mode of writing birth-day for sabbath-day, and son and daughter for father and mother, be as likely to mislead the minds of men, as writing in unknown characters, or even as leaving blank spaces to be filled up by conjecture ? But what, you may ask, is the object of these extraordinary statements? My object, Sir, is this, to evince, that in his communications to us, God must make use of language in a sense which agrees with some analogy, or his communications can be of no use to mankind, any more than unknown characters, or blanks to be filled by conjecture. In a connexion as deeply interesting as that of giving the law, God has made use of the terms the Son of God, Mr Son, God's own Son, the only becotton Son of God. He has represented his love to us as being exceedingly great,
on the following ground, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only BEGoTTEN Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.” Such, you know, is the common representation in the New Testament. And being well acquainted with the natural import of the terms an own SoN, an only BEGoTTEN Son ; and having an idea of the love of a father to an own and only son ; the scriptural representations of the love of God towards us become deeply interesting and affecting. But the Athanasian theory represents the Son of God as personally the self-existent God, and the very sax E BEING of whom he is abundantly declared to be the Son. And on this ground, the term SoN is used in a sense foreign to every analogy with which the human mind is acquainted; as foreign as it would be to use birth-day for sabbath-day, or son and daughter for father and mother. On this ground, the representations of God's love, and the scheme of 3alvation, are involved in unintel'igible metaphor; and we need an inspired Daniel to interpret the import of the term SoN, as much as Belshazzar did to interpret the enigmatical hand-writing on the wall. And until this interpretation be given, we have no definite ground on which to estimate the love of God in the atonement made for the sins of the world. What has been now exhibited, is viewed as a very weighty argument against your theory, and in favor of the hypothesis that Jesus Christ is truly the SoN of God.—But there is another argument which, if possible, is still more weighty, to which we may now attend. . You cannot be insensible, that it is plainly and abundantly represented in the Scriptures, that the Son of God did really and personally suffer and die for us. And that on this ground, both the love of God and the love of his Son are represented as having been manifested in a very extraordinary manner. And if the Son of God be truly the SoN of God, a derived intelligence, these representations may be strictly and affectingly true. For on this hypothesis, the SoN of God may be the same intelligent Being as the soul of the Man Christ Jesus who suffered on the cross.
But your theorv will not, I suspect, be found to admit, or support, any thing more than the shadow of the suffering and death of the Sox of God.
Writers and preachers on vour side of the question, do, indeed, often speak of the ab 'sement, the sufferings, and death, of the Son of God, as though they believed these things to be affecting realities. Iłut, after all, what is the amount of these representations, upon your hypothesis 2 You do not conceive that the SoN of God became united to flesh and blood as the soul of Jesus Christ. So far from this, you suppose the Son of God was personally the selfexistent God, and instead of becoming the soul of a human body, you suppose he became mysteriously united to a proper Man, who, as distinct from the Son of God, had a true body and reasonable soul. And I think, Sir, it will be found, that on this Man vour theory laws the iniquities of us all ;-that this Min, and not the SoN of God, endured the stripes by which we have healing. For while you maintain that the SoN was personally the only living and true God, you very consistently affirm that “he did not suffer in the least in his Divine nature, but altogether in his human nature.” And what is this but affirming that he d d not suffer at all as the Son of GoD, but only the Man jesus suffered, to whom the Son was united? As, on the Athanasian hypothesis, the Man Christ Jesus and the human nature are the same, so the Son or self-existent God and the Divine nature of Christ are the same. You suppose the Son as incapable of suffering as the Father, and he did not in reality personally suffer on the cross any more than the Father did ; nor any more than either of them suffered while Cranmer was burning at the stake. How then does it appear, that “God sPARED Nor HIs own SoN” : '" . . .
You will probably 3. that the Man Jesus was united to the Person of the Son of God, and that Person suffered in his human nature. But, Sir, as you predicate personality on the SoN or DIvin E NATURE, and do not allow personality to the human nature, it will, I suspect, be difficult for you to prove that any Person suffered on the cross : for the sufferings fell simply on a nature to which you do not allow personality. As, in your view, the SoN was the self-existent God, and could not suffer in his Divine nature, HE could not suffer in any nature. The man was only an
appendage to his Person, mysteriously connected; and yet so far was the union from being very intimate or essential, that the appendage or the Man might suffer the severest agonies, and the SoN or REAL PERSON be at the same time in a state of infinite felicity. Abraham's offering his son Isaac, has long been considered as typical of the conduct of God in giving his Son to die for us. Suppose we should add to the scriptural account the following ideas—That Abraham knew beforehand that his son was incapable of suffering, and that all . the sufferings would fall on another man, to whom his son was mysteriously united ; and that Isaac also understood the matter in the same light when he consented to be bound and laid upon the altar. Would not this additional account, if believed, depreciate, in our estimation, the conduct of .Abraham, and Isaac at the rate of ninety-nine per cent. 2 This illustration may serve to show how much your hypothesis, when understood, tends to lower down our ideas of the greatness of the love of God in giving his Son to die for us; and also the love and submission of the Son in consenting to make his life an offering for our sin.—I would, however, by no means intimate, that you, and others, view the love of God in this depreciated light. Tor I think it probable that it is with you, as I am sensible it was with myself—the plain representations of Scripture, by the help of analogy, superseded the force of theory. It has been, and I think justly, supposed, that the dignity of the SoN of God gave value to the sufferings of the cross. And if we consider the SoN of God to be what his title imports, a derived Intelligence of Divine origin and dignity, the one by whom God created the world, by whom or in whom he appeared to the ancient Patriarchs, by whom he conducted the children of Israel from Egypt to Canaan; if we consider this se f-same Intelligence ad sa personally and really suffering the death of the cross, we may perceive something, in view of which we may well exclaim, “Behold what manner of love l’’ But if the sufferings of the cross did not really fall on that very Son, who had sustained pre-existent glory in the “For M of GoD,” but on a man who had existed less than forty years, who had acted in public character not more than four or five ; how small the degree of condescension on
the part of the sufferer, how small the display of the love of
On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ. 4.5
God, and of what diminished value are the sufferings of the cross In the Assembly’s Catechism we are taught, that “. Christ's humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, being made under the law; undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.” Yet this same Catechism teaches us to be'ieve, that Jesus Christ was personally co-eternal with the Father, and the self-existent God. I will then ask, whether there be one particular, of what is said respecting the humiliation of Christ, which can possibly be true 2 Was the self-existent God ever born ? Was he ever in a low condition ? Was he ever made under the law Did he ever suffer the wrath of God, or the cursed death of the cross? Was God ever buried ?–If the self-existent God has not passed through such scenes, then the SoN of God has not, according to your doctrine respecting the Son. Therefore, according to your theory, all the abasement, which can be supported, falls on the Man to which the Son was united : And this Man you suppose had no existence until he was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary; of course, he had no glory to leave, or lay aside, when he came into the world. As he never had been rich, it was impossible for him to become poor for our sakes. He had no opportunity to say, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God;” and so far as his humiliation consisted in “being born, and that in a low condition,” there was nothing voluntary in it; and it could be no evidence of any love or condescension in him. To make out your theory of the humiliation and abasement of the Son of God, you have to take into view two distinct intelligent Beings; one of which you affirm to be the self-existent God, and the other a proper Man. This God, or Son of God, you find had been in a state of preexistent dignity and glory; and he, as you suppose, was united mysteriously to a Man ; this Man was born in low circumstances, endured the m series of this life, and suffered death on the cross; and by virtue of his union to the Son of God, he was enabled to bear a vastly greater weight of suffering than he could otherwise have endured. But, Sir, is this all that is intended by God's SPARING NoT HIs own SoN ? Is this the way in which the SoN of