« PreviousContinue »
will it not appear that the same Person was possessed, in a two-fold sense, of infinite fulness and authority ?
3. If the Son of God were united to a proper Man, and that Man, in contradistinction to the Son of God, was endued by the Father with all the fulness of the Godhead, and invested with all power in heaven and earth, what is the office or business of your supposed second self-existent Person? It is believed, Sir, that you cannot make it appear that the Man Christ Jesus received any support, fülness, or authority, or even benefit from any Divine Per. son but the Father--As a derived intelligence, all he received was from the Father. But,
4. If the Man Christ Jesus may be the recipient of the Spirit without measure, of all the fulness of the Godhead; if he may be exalted with God's own right hand, and made a Prince and a Savior, and the Judge of the quick and the dead; I wou'd ask what evidence you have of the existence of a second Person in union with the Godhead, distinct from the soul of that Man who was the LORD from heaven?
5. If it was in fact the Man Jesus Christ who was the subject of all the abasement, suffering, and death, which was endured for our sakes; and fit was the Man who has been the subject of all the exaltation which is in the Scrip tures attributed to the Son of God; is there not abundant evidence that the Man Christ Jesus and the Son of God are identically the same intelligent Being? And that the Son of God became the Man Christ Jesus by becoming the soul of a human body?
You may think, Sir, that I ought to notice that all Atha. nasian writers do not agree with Mr. Jones, that it was the human nature of Christ, or the Man merely, who is represented as receiving fulness and authority from the Father. I am sensible, indeed, that there is another opinion advanced by some writers of great respectability; and it is to me a matter of regret, that I have occasion to bring it into view : for, if it be possible, it is to me more inconsistent than the opinion of Mr. Jones.-The opinion referred to is of this import, That the representations in Scripture, respecting the derived fulness and authority of the Son, rea sult from the covenant of redemption, in which a mutual agreement was entered into by the Three self-existent and
co-eternal PERSONS, respecting the part which each should perform in the work of redemption,
Dr. Hopkins gives the following view of these covenant transactions :-
“ The second Person was engaged to become incarnate, to do and to suffer all that was necessary for the salvation of men. The Father promised, that on his consenting to take upon him the character and work of a Mediator and Redeemer, he should be every way furnished and assisted to go through with the work; that he should have power to save an elect number of mankind, and form a Church and Kingdom most perfect and glorious : In order to accomplish this, all things, all power in heaven and earth, should be given to him, till the work of redemption is completed.
The Doctor observes again,
« The blessed Trinity, in the one God, may be consid. ered as a most exalted, happy, and glorious society or family, uniting in the plan of Divine operations, especially in accomplishing the work of redemption. In this, each one has his part to perform, according to a most wise, mutual regulation or agreement, which may be called a covenant. In performing these several parts of this work, one acts as superior, and another as inferior ; or one acts under another, and by his authority, as appointed or sent by him. This, by Divines, is called the economy of the work of Redemption. According to this economy, the Son, the Redeemer, acts under the Father, and by his will and appointment, and in this respect takes an inferior part; and in this sense he is supposed to speak, when he says, the Father is greater than I.”
I confess to you, Sir, that I cannot but be amazed and grieved to find such representations in the writings of so great and so good a man as Dr. Hopkins. I am amazed, because I must suppose that he was so blinded by theory as not to pay due attention to the import of what he wrote. And I am grieved, that a man so eminent should do so much to expose Christianity to the ridicule of unbelievers.
“ A glorious society or family!"-—A family of what? Not of Men; not of Angels. What then? A family of self-existent and independent Persons, each of whom, as a distinct Person, the Doctor supposed to be God. And if we pay any regard to the natural import of language, what.
are we to denominate this family, short of a family of Gods? I very well know that the Doctor denied the idea of a plurality of Gods ; nor would I intimate the contrary ; and I most sincerely wish that all his reasonings and representations had been consistent with that denial. But, far from this, he has not only undertaken to prove that each of these self-existent Persons is God, but in the very passages under consideration he represents these Persons as properly distinct Beings, as distinct Beings as any three Angels in heaven. They can enter into covenant with each other each can have a distinct part assigned him one can be superior, and another act under him, or by his order---one can send the other on the most important business; and what more than all this, I beseech you, would be requisite to constitute them three as distinct Beings as Peter, James, and John.
But the most extraordinary of all these representations are the engagements of the Father to the Son-" The Father promised, that on his consenting to take upon him the character and work of a Mediator and Redeemer, he should be every way furnished and assisted to go through the work; that he should have power to save an elect number of mankind-In order to accomplish this, all things, all power in heaven and earth, should be GIVEN TO HIM, until redemption is completed."
Be pleased, Sir, to keep in mind, that the Doctor was writing about two self-existent, independent, and all-sufficient PERSONS. Was it possible that he should suppose, that an independent Person ever became dependent ? Did the independent God ever cease for a moment to be inde. pendent ? If the supposed self-existent Son did not become a dependent agent by incarnation, what could be the ground or occasion of the Father's promises that he should be fur. nished and assisted, and have all things, all power in heaven and earth, GIVEN TO HIM? I am not, Sir, meaning to deny, or to doubt, the fact respecting the existence of these promises of the Father to the Son. The Doctor has proved the existence of these promises of assistance and support in the connexion of the paragraphs quoted. But my question is, Why were these promises made ? They were either needful, or they were not. To say they were made, and yet not needful, would be imputing to God a kind of trifling which would be degrading to a wise and good man. But
if they were needful, it must be on one or other of these grounds, viz. either the Son was originally dependent on the Father, or he became dependent by incarnation. That he was originally dependent, you and the Doctor positive. ly deny. What ground then have you left but this, that a self-existent and independent Person became dependent by incarnation ? I see no possible ground but this which you can take, unless you prefer to reduce the solemn transactions in the covenant of redemption to a mere show.
But can you, Sir, believe that an independent Person ever became dependent ? If you maintain this position, it must be at the expense of another which you have wished to maintatn, viz. the absolute immutability of the Son of God.
For an independent Person to become dependent, is, I suspect, as great a change as was ever experienced by any creature ; and as great as for a Man to be changed from ENTITY TO NON-ENTITY.
But this is not all If you support the hypothesis that the Son became dependent by incarnation, you must do it at the expense of the immutability of the Godhead. If it te, as you suppose, that the Godhead consists of three Persons, and one of those Persons has become a dependent agent, the Godhead itself must have been changed by the change in one of its Per
It is no longer a Godhead of three independent Persons.
Will you, Sir, think of evading these objections, or solving these difficulties, by saying that the Son did not really become dependent, but only apparently, by becoming united to a dependent nature? This, my friend, will increase the difficulties, by representing the part acted by the Son as farcical, as well as the part acted by the Father. On this hypothesis, the Son would put on the appearance. of needing his Father's support, when in fact he did not need it--he would put on the appearance of obeying the Father, when in fact he did not obey; and of suffering and dying, when in fact he did neither die nor suffer.
Will you say that the engagements of the Father to the Son were of this tenor, that he would support the human nature to which the Son should be united ? If so, I ask what need had the Son of this? Was he not personally sufficient for the support of his human nature ? Again, I ask, If the engagements of the Father to the Son were, that
he would support the Man to whom the Son should be united, what part had the Son to perform? Was it not simply this, that he should appear to become dependent by becoming united to the Man, and the Father would furnish, assist, and enable the Man to do the whole business of obeying and suffering? And is this, Sir, the ground of our obligations to the Son of God? Is this the ground on which the redeemed of the Lord sing“ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain ?”
It is, Sir, painful to me thus to expose the theory I once maintained, or attempted to maintain, and the theory which has been advocated by some of the greatest and best
But I view it to be a duty which I owe to God, and to his Son who has given himself for us. And while I sincerely lament that the representations of Dr. Hopkins, on which I have remarked, are to be found in the writings of a man so justly esteemed, it affords me abundant joy that the Bible itself is not chargeable with such inconsistent representations.
As I understand the Scriptures, the promises of the Father were made to one who was in truth and reality the Son of God to one who ever was dependent on the Father, who ever felt his dependence, and was ever willing to acknowledge it--one who could pray with propriety and sincerity while in the flesh; and in view of his dependence, in view of the covenant of redemption, and in view of the sufferings he was about to endure, he could lift up his eyes to heaven and say, “ Father, the hour is come, glorify THY Son, that Thy Son may also glorify THEE ; as thou hast GIVEN HIM POWER over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him : And this is life eternal, to know THEE, the ONLY TRUE God, and JESUS CHRIST whom thou hast sent.. I have glorified thee on the earth ; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”
To a Son who could, in sincerity, make such a prayer, the Father might with perfect propriety and sincerity make promises of assistance, of support, of power, and exaltation. On this ground, the covenant transactions between the Father and the Son may appear solemn and affecting realities; and likewise all the subsequent proceedings on the part