« PreviousContinue »
46 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.
*. God BARE our sins in his own body on the tree ? What,
Sir, was the real condition of the SoN of God,the self-existent God, from the birth of the Man Jesus till this Man rose again from the dead Accord ng to your theory, the SoN of God, during the whole of that period, was in a state of infinite glory, and felicity; and as incapable of suffering the agonies of death, as the Father. How then can it be true, that “Though a SoN, yet learned he obedience by
#2 things which He suffered " As it respects the real char.
acter of the suffering Savior, what is your theory better than Socinianism enveloped in mystery :
Mo Absurdity in the Hypothesis that Christ is truly the Sox - of God.
WHAT has been exhibited in the preceding Letters,
it is hoped, will be sufficient to satisfy impartial minds that the Scriptures afford abundant evidence that Jesus Christ is truly the SoN of God. But a contrary belief has been so long and so generally prevalent, that it may be necessary to say something farther on the subject, with a view to show that the natural import of the terms the Son of GoD, or God's own SoN, implies no contradiction or absurdity. That God is a self-existent Being, is acknowledged by all Christians; and I shall freely admit, that it is impossible with God to beget or produce a self-ExisteNT SoN. But what have we to do with the mode of God's existence, in determining whether it be possible with him to produce
a Son? What have we to do with the mode of Adam's ex- .
istence, in determining whether Seth could be his Son? Respecting Adam, it is said, “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” And probably Adam was a man in size or stature at his first existence. Could not Seth be the son of Adam, unless the mode of his having existence was the same with Adam's &
On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ. 4?
• When Adam was in existence, he had a nature by which he was distinguished from God and from Angels. Such a nature Seth derived from Adam. Self-existence may be essential to the Divine nature in God, and proper creation might be essential to the human nature in Adam. Aud as human nature in Seth might be derived from the created nature of Adam, why may it not be true that Drvine nature in the SoN was derived from the self-existent nature of GoD 2
We often speak of Divine nature, angelic nature, and huzman nature ; but what do we know of either, excepting certain properties, attributes, or qualities : Are we not unable to tell what is the radical difference between an Angel and a human soul? Yet we believe there is some radical distinction. So we may be unable to ascertain the radical distinction between the Divine nature, and human nature, exclusive of the different modes of existence.
Yet, aside from those attributes which simply reject there.”
modes of existence, there may be some radical difference between those natures. If we suppose this diversity of natures to result from the diversity of attributes or qualities united, yet there may be some property, attribute, or qual-, ity, by which one nature is distinguished from another, and the distinguishing property of nature may be wholly unknown to us. Are we not, Sir, too ignorant of the nature of GoD, to pronounce that there is nothing in his nature which may be properly derived in the existence of an own SoN ? It may not be necessary that every attribute of Deity should be communicable or derivable in order that he may have an own SoN. Among the children of men, it is not necessary to the existence or the idea of a son, that he should possess all the attributes, properties, or qualities of his father. Nor is it necessary that he should possess no other attributes but such as were possessed by his father. Among the seventy sons of Gideon, perhaps, there were no two that perfectly resembled each other in their attributes, properties, or qualities; and probably no one who was the perfect likeness of his father. So Jesus Christ may have truly derived his existence and nature from God, and yet not possess every attribute of the Father. * Jesus Christ was the Son of David, according to the flesh; yet we believe his body was not produced by ordinary generation; but as Mary was of the seed of David, and as
48 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.
the body of Christ was derived from her, Christ is called David's Son. Had he not properly derived any properties from David, he could not with propriety be called the Son of David. And if his spirit or soul had not been as properly derived from God, as his body was from David, it is difficult to see why he should be called the Son of GoD, or God’s own and on Ly Son. It has been said by a respectable writer, that “it is total. ly incon eivable that a derived, dependent nature, should really possess any of those Divine perfections which essentially belong to an underived, independent, self-existent Being.” Hid the word exclusively been used instead of the word “essentially,” the observation would have been unexceptionable. Self-existence and independence belong to God, . not only “essentially,” but exclusively. But knowledge, power, and holiness, are essential attributes in God, and yet knowledge, power, and holiness, may be communicated, not only to a derived but to a created intelligence. God may, indeed, possess these attributes in an unlimited extent, while in other beings they may be limited ; but these, attributes may be of the same nature in men that they are in God. That God does communicate knowledge, power, and holiness, will, it is believed, be granted by most Christians. Nor may we set any limits to the degree in which they may be communicated, unless we may limit the Divine Power of communication. However, I have no occasion to maintain that Christ did, with his existence as a SoN, derive any attribute of Deity in the extent in which it is possessed by God. Had he been personally self-sufficient and all-sufficient, he would have had no occasion for God's giving him the Spirit without measure. He might, with his existence, derive so much of the Divine nature as to be truly the SoN of God; and yet he might be the ALMIGHTY, and the SEARCHER or HEARTs, by the indwelling of the Father, or the fullness of the Godhead. When men are renewed in the temper of their minds, they are said to be “born of God,” to have the image of God on their hearts; and on this ground they are denominated Sons of God. For that which is begotten, or produced, in them, is truly of a Divine nature. It is that holincss
of heart which is the glory of the Divine character. There is nothing more essential, or more excellent, in God, than holiness; this we see may be derived as the attribute of a dependent being. And this holiness is precisely of the same nature in men that it is in God. Its nature is not changed by being derived or communicated. . As that which is born of the flesh is flesh, so that which is born of the spirit is spirit—it is of the same holy nature as the spirit by which it is produced. Will it be denied, that holiness is the excellence of all excellences in the Divine existence and character? And if that which is essential to the Divine existence may be communicated or produced as the attribute of a dependent agent, by what principles of revelation, or philosophy, can it be affirmed, that it is impossible with God to produce an intelligent existence from his own nature ? If God, from his own nature, may produce his moral image, why may he not produce his natural image 2 And why may not Jesus Christ be as truly the “IMAGE of THE INvisiBLE God,” as Seth was the likeness of Adam : Holiness dé as self-existent in God, as any attribute of the Divine nature ; yet holiness may be produced as the attribute of a dependent agent. And if one attribute, which is self-existent in Deity, may be produced or derived, as the attribute of a dependent agent, without any change in its nature, what evidence can we have that other attributes, properties, or qualities, which are self-existent in God, may not be properly derived 3 Yea, by what evidence can it be made to appear, that all the radical and essential principles or properties of intelligent existence, may not have been properly derived from the Divine nature in the person of GoD's own SoN ? s From the circumstance, that holiness is of the same nature in angels and men that it is in God, we may easily discern that the term self-existence ought not to be used as expressive of the nature of Divine attributes, but only to express the mode of their existence. And the same may be said of the terms eternity, independence, and infinity. In God, holiness is self-existent, eternal, independent, and infinite. But considered as the attribute of a dependent, created agent, an angel or a man, neither of these epithets can be applied. Yet holiness may be of the same nature in men, in angels, and in God. Why may not the same G
be true respecting other attributes or qualities of the Dir vine nature? - Some additional light may possibly be obtained, by attending to the idea of supernatural or superhuman powers, with which God, at some times, endued human beings.Sampson, at some seasons, was weak like another man; but when the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, he was able to perform prodigies. This supernatural strength, it “appears, was immediately derived from God. Yet while Sampson possessed this strength, it was truly His strength; and he was no more dependent on God for the strength by which he performed the wonderful things recorded of him, than I am for the strength by which I move my pen. The prophets were endued with supernatural foreknowledge, by which they were enabled to unfold the volume of futurity, and predict events not only hundreds but thousands of years before the time in which the predictions were to be fulfilled. By a baptism of the same Spirit, the apostles were instantaneously endued, and enabled to speak in foreign languages which they had never studied. -These supernatural powers were but occasional properties or attributes of the several persons who possessed them. But while they were possessed, they were personal properties or attributes. Those persons were truly endued with power from on high. The prophets foresaw as the Spirit gave them foreknowledge; and the apostles spake as the Spirit gave them utterance. This Spirit was the Spirit of God; and when it was given in an extraordinary manner, men were enabled to do extraordinary things. When men have been thus endued, they have possessed extraordinary portions of Divine sufficiency; and these portions of sufficiency, it appears, they possessed by a communication of Divine fulness. Nor is there any evidence that God might not, if he pleased, endue every individual of the human race with the strength of Sampson, the foreknowledge of Daniel, and the gift of speaking all human languages: and these, if he pleased, might be continued as permanent attributes of character. From what has been exhibited, it is pretty evident, that created intelligences may, by the pleasure of God, possess holiness, knowledge, and power, which are truly of a Divine nature. May we not properly say, that Sampson