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bear such a sense; nor will the tenor of the verse admit it. To say, “That day and hour no man maketh known, neither the angels, nor the Son, but the Father,” would be the same as saying, that the Father does make it known. But where has he revealed it? After all, what more real difficulty presents itself in this case, than in that where Jesus is said to have increased in wisdom 7 Luke ii. 52. If he did possess a nature really human, that nature was capable, of course, of progressive improvement and knowledge. And there is no proper method, as it appears to me, of solving the difficulty, as the text stands, but by appropriating, as in other cases, the expression to that nature, of which the assertion made can be predicated. John xvii. 3. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” The true God here, seems to me, plainly, not opposed to, or contrasted with Christ; but, as every where else, in case this expression is used, opposed to idols. In the verse preceding, Christ says, “Thou hast given me power over ALL flesh, that thou mightest bestow eternal life upon ALL whom thou hast given me,” i.e. both Gentiles and Jews. He proceeds; “This is eternal life, that they might know thee the only true God, (the only God and true God, the Greek is capable of being rendered, as to sense,) and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” Now what is there here, different from that which we preach and inculcate every Sabbath 7 Do we not teach that there is one only, living and true God? And that he sent his Son to die for sinners? And do we not insist, that eternal life is connected with the reception of these truths? I really see no more difficulty here, than in the text, “God so loved the world, that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” 1 Cor. viii. 4–6. “As concerning, therefore, the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other god but one. For though there be that are : called gods, whether in heaven or earth, (as there be gods many and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one
Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” I have cited several verses, for the sake of introducing the context. From this it is plain, that the one God, the Father, is nothere placed in opposition to Christ. but to the lords many and gods many of the heathen. If you insist that the one God is in opposition to Christ, or excludes him ; then, for the same reason, as Christ is the one Lord, (its zvotes,) you must insist that it is in opposition to the Lordship (zveterms) of the Father; and of course denief the Lordship of Creation to him. It is plain however, according to my apprehension, that God and Lord here are mere synonymes. (See verse 5th, where asyokevoi esat is explained by esot roaxes and xvptos aroxxon.) Nothing is plainer, than that zveto; is a common title of God, in the Old Testament and the New. - Moreover, what is predicated of the one God and one Lord, here is the same; viz. they are the Author and Preserver of all things. The use of the preposition ota, in cases of this nature, has already been the subject of remark. The nature of the whole case shows, that the apostle places the object of the Christian's worship, in opposition to the heathen or idol gods. What then is that object? The one God the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ; for whom are all things, and by whom are all things. The passage evidently holds out Christ to be, in the same manner, the object of the Christian's worship, as the Father is. And as the apostle seems to me simply to assert the unity of God, in opposition to idols, I am net able to perceive how the divinity of the Saviour is impeached-by it, any more than the Lordship of the Father is impeached, by making Christ the one Lord. To embrace my view of the whole passage in a brief paraphrase ; * Idols are nothing; there is but one God. There are indeed among the heathen such as are called gods (as yeasyo, Geot,) who comprise gods and lords many; yet Christians have only one object of worship—one God and Lord.” John x. 25, 36. “If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I
am the Son of God?” Christ had previously said, “I and my Father are one.” At this the Jews took up stones to stone him, “ because being a man, he made himself God.” It is perfectly clear, that the Jews frequently understood, or pretended to understand, his affirmations respecting himself, as amounting to assertions that he was truly diwine. In this case, however, it is said that Jesus repelled such an interpretation of his words, by an explanation, which shows that he applied to himself the word God, only in an inferior sense. I am not satisfied, that the passage requires this exegesis. The reply of Jesus is evidently argumentum ad homimem. “If the Old Testament, (the divine authority of which you admit,.) calls them gods, to whom the word of God was addressed, (Ps. lxxxii. 6,) i.e. if it call the magistrates of the Jews, gods; is it not proper that I, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, should cabi myself the Son of God?” If you are not offended, when your Scriptures bestow the title of Elohim upon civil magistrates merely; much less is there reason to be angry, when I, whom God hath distinguished from all others, made preeminent above them, and sent into the world on the designs of mercy, should call myself the Son of God. Verse 37; If I prove not the truth of these assertions by miracles; then disbelieve them. Verse 38; But if I do, believe the proof that may be drawn from my miracles, that the Father is in me and I in him. Now wherein did Jesus explain away any thing, which he had before said 7 The expression that the Father is in him, and he in the Father, I do not understand as asserting his divine nature, in a direct manner. It is a phrase, which is used to express the idea, that any one is conjunctissinus Deo, most nearly and affectionately united with God. (See 1 John iv. 16, where it is applied to Christians; also verses 12 and 13.) In the whole passage, it appears plain to me, that Jesus has not asserted any thing, which could not be predicated of himself as sustaining the office of Messiah. He had called God his Father; and as the Jews supposed, or seem to have supposed, in a peculiar and appropriate sense. But it did not follow, that by using this term he meant to assert his divine nature. Rather the contrary appears, “Say
ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world,” i. e. the Son of God, &c. Jesus does not undertake, then, to answer the question here, whether he is truly divine; but simply to vindicate the language he had used, against the accusations of the Jews. “If your magistrates are called Elohim, is it presumption in me to call myself the Son of God * This leaves the question unagitated, as to his divine nature; but vindicates the language which he had used, against the malignant aspersions of the Jews, by an argument drawn from their own Scriptures. It shows indeed, that the term “Son of God,” does not appropriately designate Christ as divine, but as the incarnate Mediator—as him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world. Did the Father sanctify and send into the world his Son as GOD, who is infinitely perfect and immutable? As Mediator, as Messiah, Christ was sent into the world; as Son he filled, and acted in, a subordinate capacity; how then can his being Son prove him to be divine ! Son of God indeed, by usage, has become a kind of proper name ; and in this view, designates occasionally a distinction in the Godhead, which I believe to be eternal. In this manner, we very commonly use the term now; and in this way the apostles sometimes use it. (See Heb. i. 1–3.) But this is, in Scripture, only an occasional and secondary use of it. Commonly and appropriately, it designates the incarnate Messiah, as born in a manner supernatural, (Luk. i. 35, comp. iii. 38;) as the special object of divine love, (Matt. xvii. 5. Col. i. 13. John iii. 35 ; and as exhibiting the best and highest resemblance of the Father, (Col. i. 15. Heb. i. 3. John i. 14. x. 38. xiv. 10.) Would theologians keep these ideas in view, I cannot help thinking they might be able to understand each other better, and to reason more conclusively. [But as the view here succinctly given, of the appropriate signification of the phrase Son of God, differs from that of most of the ancient Fathers in the Church, who maintained the doctrine of eternal generation, and from that of many modern theologians, who have trodden in their steps, I must dwell a moment longer upon the subject, in order to present some additional considerations, which may serve to justify the sentiment, which I have advanced.
The Apostle and Jews in general seem to have commuted the appellations Messiah, and Son of God, for each other; in other words, they used them as terms of equivalent value. (See Luke iv. 41. Matt. xxvi. 63. xxvii. 40. comp. Luke xxiii. 35. Matt. xvi. 16. Comp. Luke ix. 20. John i. 49.) The appellation, Son of God, was no doubt, derived by the Jews, from Psal. ii. 7, and 2 Sam. vii. 14. In using this appellation, I am inclined to think, that they had reference principally to the regal office and splendour, of their expected Messiah. The New Testament writers, however, as may be seen above, do not use the term with particular reference to the kingly office, except when they relate the language of the Jews. In support offiliation, as to the Divine nature of Christ, Heb. i. is urged; where the apostle contends for the superiority of Christ over angels, because “he has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they,” i.e. he is a Son. But does not this argument prove the reverse of what it was intended to prove 2 The divine nature is self existent and eternal. Could Christ, then, as divine, obtain a name by inheritance 7 Could he become a Son, if as Son he is divine and self-existent 7 The passage in 2 Sam. vii. 14, presents the same disficulties. “I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son.” How can the doctrine of eternal filiation be supported by this 2 Could there be a promise of being to him a Father, if he had already been a Son, from everlasting 7 Ps. ii. 7, so often used to prove the doctrine of eternal generation, seems to me very injudiciously chosen for this purpose. “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” This Psalm predicts the exaltation and the glory of the Messiah; and Peter says, that the verse in question had its accomplishment, when Christ was raised from the dead, by the power of the Father. (Acts xiii. 33.) How can this day, mean from eternity ? Besides; in 1 Cor. xv. 28, it is affirmed, that when the enemies of the Church shall be all subdued, the “Son himself shall be subject to the Father, that God may be all in all.” As the eternal, self-existent God, can this be said of him 7 Most certainly not. The sum of the whole is, that Son of God, in its appro