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CHAP. II.

CONCERNING THE PERSON AND CHARACTER OF THE REDEEMER.

WELL may we, with fear and trembling, enter upon this high and important subject, the person and character of the Redeemer of men. This person is so great and wonderful, that he passes knowledge; and so does his character, consequently; which is singular, and infinitely distinguished from all others, being excellent and glorious beyond conception. And yet there is no salvation for men, without a degree of true knowledge of his person and character; and such knowledge is connected with eternal life. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”243243   John xvii. 3.

He who knows Jesus Christ, the Son of God, knows God. He therefore said to one of his disciples, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me? He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.”244244   John xiv. 9. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the sum of all christian knowledge, and includes the whole of true divinity. Hence St. Paul says to christians at Corinth, “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ crucified.”245245    1 Cor. ii. 2. And again, “Yea, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: That I may know him.”246246   Phil. iii. 8, 10. The apostle Peter exhorts christians to strive to make advances, and to increase in the knowledge of this person. “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”247247   2 Pet. ii. 18.327 This is an endless theme, an inexhaustible subject, which the redeemed will study and explore forever, and will grow and increase in the knowledge of this boundless, glorious, and most entertaining object, with unspeakable and ever fresh delight and joy, without any end. Happy are they who with St. Paul have the true revelation of Jesus Christ; it will lead them on, in the only path of wisdom, to endless stores of knowledge and happiness; when they shall be where he is, and behold his glory: dwelling in the New Jerusalem, whereof the Son of God, the Lamb, shall shine forever with increasing lustre, and be the light thereof. But they who have not the true knowledge of Christ are exposed to run into error and fatal delusions respecting this person, and while they profess to acknowledge and honour him, really deny and reject him. This was the case with the Jews, when the Son of God was in the flesh on earth. “For they that dwelt at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets, which were read every Sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.”248248   Acts xiii. 27. This proved fatal to them, of which our Lord warned them, when he told them, “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”249249   John viii. 24. And there soon arose in the christian church those who denied the Lord that bought them, even our Lord Jesus Christ.250250    2 Pet. ii. 1. Jude 4. And as ignorance of the person of Jesus Christ, and mistakes respecting his real character, were so dangerous and fatal to Jews and professing christians, in that day, they have been equally so in every age since, down to this day; and will be as mischievous to us, if we are so criminal and unhappy as to imbibe them, or any other, as contrary to the truth.

Professing christians have differed, perhaps, in nothing so much as they have about the person and character of Jesus Christ. The opinions which have been imbibed and professed are so many and various, that it would take volumes, and be an almost endless task, particularly to mention and describe them; which , therefore, will not be undertaken here. All that will be attempted, is to ascertain the truth, as revealed in the 328holy scriptures, concerning this high and important point, and great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh.

The variety of different sentiments and gross errors into which men have run on this point, to their own destruction, have not been owing to any darkness or defect in divine revelation, respecting this. We may be certain that the person and character of the Redeemer is there so fully, and with so much perspicuity ascertained and fixed, that every honest, unprejudiced person, who is willing to know and embrace the truth, and will properly study the Bible, will come to the knowledge of the truth, and form right conceptions of Jesus Christ, in every important article respecting him. All the mistakes and errors, therefore, which have been embraced on this point, have originated from the evil biases, prejudices, and inattention of sinful man, together with the influence which Satan, “who deceives the whole world,” has been suffered to exert on the minds of men. The depraved minds of men love darkness rather than the light; yea, hate the. truth; and are more ready to embrace error and delusion, than the pure truth, with relation to the Redeemer: And Satan, the great enemy of Christ, and of men, is unwearied in his attempts to blind and deceive them, especially respecting the Saviour, and lead them to embrace damnable errors concerning him, and such as are very dishonourable to him, and rob him of all his glory, as the Redeemer of sinners. This will fully account for the various and multiplied errors which have been, at one time and another, invented and propagated in the christian world, consistent with the utmost clearness and perfection of divine revelation on this head.

Ever since the gospel has been preached to the world to this day, the person and character of Christ, Christ crucified, has been to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Gentiles foolishness: To all the unbelieving and disobedient he has been, and is now, and will continue to be, “a stone of stumbling and rock of offence.” While to them who believe he is precious, the only sure foundation, and chief corner stone, on 329whom they build all their hopes. These true friends to Christ do know him, having some degree of true acquaintance with his person and character: But their knowledge is very imperfect, and, it is to be feared, in most, if not all of them, is attended with great darkness, and more or less mistakes and wrong conceptions of him. This, however, is no matter of discouragement to attend to this subject with great care, diligence and circumspection; but rather a weighty motive to it; and to attempt to confirm the truth, and throw all the light upon it which may have been obtained, by a long and careful study of the holy scriptures; leaving it with them who shall come after with more clear heads, better hearts, and a more unprejudiced, and engaged study of the Bible, to detect the mistakes which may now be made, and remove present darkness, by bringing forth more abundant light from the divine oracles, on this important subject.

It is not designed to attempt a particular refutation of any of the many different opinions which have been advanced concerning the person of the Redeemer, or to answer all the objections which have been made to that representation which shall now be given as warranted by the scriptures of truth; since stating the truth, and supporting it by divine revelation, is the shortest and most effectual way to discover and confute the opposite errors, and silence all the objections which have been made to it

The following things appear to be revealed in the holy scriptures, concerning this wonderful person; and therefore may be safely believed and asserted.

I. That Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of men, is truly God, or a divine person. This has been so much insisted upon, and abundantly proved from scripture, by so many writers, that it is needless to attend here to all the evidence there is of this truth in scripture. It will be sufficient briefly to note the following particulars.

1. This is expressly asserted of him, and he is often called God in the Scripture. The following passages are instances of this. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This is the Word, which took flesh, or the human 330nature, into a personal union with himself. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten Son of the Father.”251251   John i. 1, 14. The Word, which is asserted to be God, is the second person in the Trinity. “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost.”252252    1 John v. 7. Therefore, “his name is called the Word of God.”253253   Rev. xix. 13. “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders: And his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God.”254254   Isaiah ix. 6, “And this is the name whereby he shall be called: The Lord (Jehovah) our righteousness.”255255   Jer. xxiii. 6. “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call his name Emanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us.”256256    Matt. i. 23. Isaiah vii. 14. “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord, and my God.”257257   John xx. 28. “Whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever.”258258   Rom. ix. 5. “Looking for that blessed hope, and glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”259259    Tit. ii. 13. The words in the original might, with propriety, be rendered Our Great God and Saviour. Mr. Fleming, in support of this interpretation, observes, that we never read of the Father’s appearance.260260   Doddridge’s Note on the place. “Through the righteousness of our God, and Saviour Jesus Christ.”261261   2 Pet. i. 1. “But unto the Son, he saith. Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.”262262    Heb. i. 8. “Great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh.”263263    1 Tim. iii. 16.

2. What is in one part of the Bible said of Jehovah, and ascribed to him, as the only true God, this being the name which is appropriated to him in distinction from all other beings, is, in other passages, ascribed to the Redeemer of man, Jesus Christ, and applied to him.

“Mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord (Jehovah) of hosts.”264264   Isaiah vi. 5. This Jehovah, Lord of hosts, is said by St. John to be Jesus Christ, as he applies this passage 331 to him—“These things, said Isaiah, when he saw his (Christ’s) glory, and spake of him.”265265   John xii. 41.

“Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts, I am the first, and I am the last, and besides me there is no God.”266266   Isaiah xliv. 6. Here Jehovah takes this character to himself, as peculiar to him. The first, and the last. But Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the true Israel, the church; who redeems his people from the curse of the law, by his blood, takes this same character to himself, and therefore must himself be Jehovah, besides whom there is no God. “I (Jesus Christ) am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”267267    Rev. xxii. 13. This same person takes this to himself repeatedly in the first chapter of this book, “saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and last.”268268   Verse 11. “I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead, and, behold, I am alive forevermore.”269269    Ver. 17. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”270270   Ver. 8. “I, even I, am the Lord, and besides me there is no Saviour.”271271    Isaiah xliii. 11. This title and character, which Jehovah takes to himself, exclusive of all others, the Saviour of Israel, his church and people, is constantly given to Jesus Christ in the New Testament. He is called Jesus, which signifies a Saviour, because he saves his people from their sins.272272   Matt. i. 21. “Christ is the head of the church, and he is the Saviour of the body,” that is, the church.273273    Eph. v. 28. He is called, “our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”274274   2 Peter i. 11. ii. 20. iii. 2, 18. This title is given to him in other places, too many to be particularly recited. And this is needless, since one instance of his being called, by way of eminence, the Saviour, is sufficient to prove the point now in view. It may be proper and useful, however, under this head,. to observe, that as this title. The Saviour, is claimed as peculiar to Jehovah, the only true God, in the passage just quoted from Isaiah; and since Jesus Christ is called God, and asserted to be God, in many instances, which have been mentioned 332above, we are hence warranted to apply the expression, God our Saviour, which is so often used, to Jesus the only Saviour and Redeemer of his church. Among other instances of this, the following may be particularly noted. “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”275275   Luke i. 45, 47. ii. 11. “According to the commandment of God our Saviour, That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. Our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. But after the kindness and love of God and our Saviour appeared.276276   Tit. i. 3. ii. 10, 13. iii. 4. Through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.”277277    2 Pet. i. 1. In our translation it is God and our Saviour, but this is not so agreeable to the original, as that now given. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever, Amen.”278278    Jude 24, 25.

That Jesus Christ is the person here intended by the only wise God our Saviour, is farther evident, because this same thing is expressly ascribed to him by St. Paul. “That he (Christ) might present it to himself, a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish.”279279   Eph v. 27.

Again, Jehovah, the Lord of hosts, is called the husband of the church, and claims this relation, “Thy Maker is thine husband, the Lord of hosts is his name.”280280   Isaiah liv. 5. “Thou shalt no more be termed forsaken, &c. for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married—And as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.”281281   Isaiah lxii.4, 5. This same character and relation is ascribed to Jesus Christ. He is the bridegroom, the husband of the church. John Baptist, speaking of Christ, says, “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom.”282282    John iii. 29. St. Paul says to the 333Corinthian church, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you a chaste virgin to Christ.”283283    2 Cor. xi. 2. St. John heard them rejoicing in heaven, and saying, “The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife (the church) hath made herself ready.”284284   Rev. xix. 7. “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, (which is the church) coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And there came unto me one of the seven angels, and talked with me, saying, come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”285285    Rev. xxi. 2, 9. Thus it appears that Jehovah, the only true God, is the church’s husband; and so is Jesus Christ. Therefore Jesus Christ is Jehovah; or the only true God, and Jesus Christ, are the same: For the church hath not, and cannot have two husbands: Nor are there two brides or wives, who can each of them have a husband: For there is but one church; but one bride, who, as a chaste virgin, is espoused to one husband, Jesus Christ. “There is one body,” that is, the church, of which Christ is the only head and husband.286286    Eph. iv. 4. “My dove, my undefiled, is but one.”287287    Cant. vi. 9.

“Sanctify the Lord (Jehovah) of hosts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread: And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel.”288288   Isaiah viii. 13, 14. This, which is spoken of Jehovah, is applied to Jesus Christ by St. Peter. “The stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling and rock of offence.”289289    1 Peter ii. 7, 8. It is said, “The Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which shortly must be done.”290290   Rev. xxii. 6. And in the sixteenth verse Jesus Christ says, “I Jesus have sent mine Angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.” Here the Lord God of the holy prophets, which must be Jehovah, and Jesus Christ, are said to be the same thing. Therefore Jesus Christ and the Lord God, are one and the same.

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Not half the instances of this kind, which might be adduced under this head, have been mentioned; but these are enough, it is presumed, to illustrate and make evident to every attentive, impartial person, the truth of the particular observation, to prove which they have been cited.

3. That Jesus Christ is God, is evident from the divine attributes being ascribed to him, even those which are peculiar to the Deity.

Eternity, or existing without beginning, is ascribed to him. “But thou, Bethlehem—out of thee shall he come forth unto me, that is to be ruler of Israel, whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting.”291291    Micah v. 2. This is expressly applied to Christ.292292   Matt. ii. 6. He is represented in that remarkable type of him, Melchisedec, to be without beginning of days, or end of time.293293   Heb. vii. 3. He is “the beginning and the ending, the first and the last, which is, and which was, and which is to come.”294294    Rev. i. 8, 17. xxii. 13. Which words strongly express eternal existence, without beginning or end.

Immutability is ascribed to him, which is an attribute peculiar to God. Speaking to the Son of God, it is said, “Thou art the same,” as opposed to all changeable existence.295295   Heb. i. 12. This is expressed more strongly in the following words, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to day, and forever.”296296   Heb. xiii. 8. Here both his eternity, his existence from everlasting to everlasting, and his immutability are expressed.

He is omnipotent. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me, in heaven and in earth:”297297   Matt. xxviii. 18. He is “head over all things to the church. “298298    Eph. i. 22. He is “able to subdue all things unto himself.”299299    Phil. iii. 21. He is “the first and the last, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”300300   Rev. i. 8. “He upholds all things, by the word of his power.”301301   Heb. i. 3. His creating and upholding all things, and other works which are ascribed to him, are, without controversy, the work of Omnipotence. But these will be more particularly considered under another head.

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That he is Omnipresent, he himself declared, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” “And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”302302   Matt. xviii. 20. xxviii. 20. “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”303303   John iii. 13. Surely these things cannot be said with truth of any one but Him, whose presence fills heaven and earth. Omniscience is also one of his attributes. This Peter ascribes to him, without reserve, and with the greatest confidence. “And Peter said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things.”304304   John xxi. 17. It is asserted, agreeable to this, that “He knew all men, and knew what was in man.”305305    John ii. 24, 25. And it is often said that he knew the secret thoughts of men. And he says, “And all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts, and will give unto every one of you according to his works.”306306    Rev. ii. 23. This is elsewhere spoken of as the attribute and prerogative of the omniscient God alone. Solomon, speaking to Jehovah, says, “Thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men.”307307   2 Chron. ix. 30. “The righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.”308308   Psalm vii. 9. “I, the Lord, search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways.”309309   Jer. xvii. 10. If Jesus Christ were not the only true God, it is impossible he should take to himself this attribute, prerogative and work, which Jehovah, the God of Israel, claims to himself exclusively; and which is infinitely too much to be ascribed to any mere creature. Jesus Christ is declared to be incomprehensible, which is an attribute peculiar to Deity. He says of himself, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father; and no man (no one, it is in the original) knoweth the Son but the Father.”310310   Matt. xi. 27. And it is said of him, “He had a name written that no man (no one) knew but he himself.”311311   Rev. xix. 12. Equality with God is ascribed unto him. St. Paul, speaking of his person, says, “Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”312312   Phil. ii. 6. Jesus said to the Jews, “I and my Father are one.”313313   John x. 30. The Jews understood him as 336hereby claiming to be God, and charged him with making himself God.314314   John x. 33. Nor does Christ, in his answer to them, renounce this claim. Jesus said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”315315   John v. 17. Upon this the Jews charged him with making himself equal with God. Nor does he deny this charge, or say that it is unjust: but goes on to say, in a yet stronger manner, “What things soever the Father doeth, those also doth the Son likewise. For as the Father raiseth up the death, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.” Surely this is making himself equal with God. He moreover says, “All things that the Father hath, are mine.”316316   John xvi. 15. Thus he claims to be equal with the Father, the owner and possessor of all things. This is consistent with his saying, “The Father is greater than I,” as he was man as well as God, and agreeable to the economy of redemption, in the human nature, was become a servant, to obey and suffer, in order to effect the redemption of man. In this capacity and work he was sent, and to be justified and exalted by the Father. In this view his words have a plain meaning, consistent with his claim of equality with the Father, as God. “If ye had loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father; for my Father is greater than I.”317317   John xiv. 28.

4. The divinity of Jesus Christ is asserted by ascribing to him those divine works which God alone can do.

He puts himself upon an equality with the Father in this respect, and says, that he does whatsoever the Father doth. “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. What things soever he doth, those also doth the Son likewise.”318318    John v. 17, 19. The works of creation and providence are ascribed to him. “All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”319319    John i. 3. “For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him.”320320   Col. i. 16. God 337hath made all things for himself: All things were made by Jesus Christ, and for him; Therefore he is God. “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”321321   Col. i. 17. “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”322322   Heb. i. 3.And he is addressed in the following words, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands.”323323   Psa. cii. 25. Heb. i. 10. Bat these are the works of God, of Jehovah, and peculiar to him. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”324324   Gen. i. 1. Psa. xxxiii. 6.

Jesus Christ raiseth men from the dead, which is a work of omnipotence as great as that of creation. When he was on earth he raised man from the dead, by his own powerful word. And he claims power and authority to raise all the dead of mankind, at the last day. He hath said, “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth, they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. I am the resurrection and the life.”325325   John v. 29, 26. vi. 40. xi. 25.

Jesus Christ will judge the world, angels, devils, and all mankind. This is often asserted in the scripture. All judgment is committed unto him. A work infinitely too great for a mere creature to perform; and therefore infinitely too great for him, and too high and honourable, were he not the most high God, possessed of infinite power, knowledge, wisdom and rectitude.

But one thing more will be added under this head. Jesus Christ is Governor of the world. He has all things in his hand; upholds all things by the word of his power; is head over all things to the church, having 338 all power in heaven and on earth. He executeth a particular providence; his care and power orders and effects every event, and extends to every creature and thing in the created universe, whether great or small. He alone, therefore, is able to take the book of the divine decrees, and open the seals thereof, by governing the world, and bringing to pass all things agreeable to the eternal purpose. None can do this but he who has omnipotence, infinite knowledge, wisdom and goodness.

5. It is certain that Jesus Christ is the supreme God, in that he is the object of the divine worship, which would be idolatry, if offered to any being but the only true God.

Nothing can be more evident and certain than that God is the only proper object of religious worship. Jesus Christ is, in the holy scriptures, asserted to be the object of such worship; therefore he is God.

All the angels of heaven are commanded to worship him. “When he bringeth the first begotten into the world, he saith. And let all the angels of God worship him.”326326   Heb. i. 6. John saw and heard him worshipped in heaven, and represented as the object of prayer and praise. “And when he had taken the book, the four beasts, and the four and twenty elders, fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God, by thy blood. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands: saying, with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature heard I saying. Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever. And the Tour beasts said» Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth forever and ever;” even 339Jesus Christ, who was dead, and is alive, and behold, he liveth forever and ever.327327   Rev. i. 18. v. 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14. Thus all in heaven and on earth “honour the Lamb, the Son, even as they honour the Father.”328328   John v. 23.

Agreeable to this, St. Paul says of Jesus Christ, “God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and under the earth; (or angels, and men, both the living and the dead) and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”329329    Phil. ii. 9, 10, 11.

These words express the involuntary subjection of his enemies, and the voluntary submission, adoration, and worship of his friends, which is given only to God. And that such subjection, submission and worship, is here intended, which is due to God alone; and that Jesus Christ is this God, is evident both from this same apostle’s quotation of these words in another place, and from the passage in the prophet Isaiah, from, whence they are taken. “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”330330   Rom. xiv. 10, 11. This homage is here said to be paid to Jesus Christ, as Judge of the world, and as God. And this bowing the knee and confession, is claimed by Jehovah, the God of Israel, and he says it shall be given to him, as the only true God, in the passage quoted from Isaiah, “I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear.”331331   Isaiah xlv. 22, 23.

Stephen, the first martyr, prayed to Jesus Christ, and committed his spirit, himself, to him, when he was expiring under the hand of his persecutors. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying. Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.332332   Acts vii. 59. The word God is not in the original, and the words might be with propriety rendered, 340calling upon Jesus Christ, saying, Lord Jesus, &c. Such a solemn prayer to Jesus Christ, putting his whole trust in him, and committing his soul to him, with his last breath, is an act of worship, which would be gross idolatry, if offered to any but God.

And as Stephen worshipped Jesus Christ, and called upon his name, making his last prayer to him when he was leaving the world, he was not singular and alone in this; but thus calling on the name of Christ was practised by all christians, and therefore mentioned as expressive of their character, and an essential branch of it, and by which they are denominated, and distinguished from others. St. Paul thus addresses them: “Unto the church of God, which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, both theirs and ours.”333333    1 Cor. i. 2. Ananias, speaking to the Lord Jesus Christ, says, “And here he (Saul) hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.”334334   Acts ix. 14. That is, all christians. And of Saul it is further said, “And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said, Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests.”335335   Verse 20, 21.

And when he was on earth he was worshipped—By the wise men from the east—By a ruler of the synagogue—By a woman of Canaan—By a leper—By a man born blind, whom he had restored to sight—By all who were in the ship with him—By the women, when they saw him, after his resurrection—By the multitude of his disciples, when he appeared to them in Galilee; and by his disciples who saw him ascend from Mount Olivet into heaven. Yet in none of these instances did he forbid this worship to be paid to him, or shew the least disapprobation of it; but the history of it leads us to suppose that such worship was proper; and that he accepted it with approbation, and was pleased with it: Whereas, when Cornelius the centurion, 341offered to worship Peter, he forbid and reproved him, saying, “Stand up, I myself also am a man.”336336   Acts x. 26. And when St. John offered to worship the Angel who spake to him, he received a rebuke from him. He said unto him, “See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow servant. Worship God.”337337   Rev. xix. 10. xxii. 9. Plainly declaring that God only is the proper object of such worship; which worship was paid to Jesus Christ, with his approbation, as has been observed; which he must have rejected, and rebuked those who offered it, as Peter and the Angel did, had he not been a divine person, that is, God. He himself rebuked the devil when he proposed to Christ to worship him; not because he was an evil being; but because he was not God, and such worship was to be given to God only. “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”338338   Matt. iv. 10. The word in the original translated serve, is found in above twenty places in the New Testament, and always means religious service, implying devotion and religious worship, and is in a number of places translated to worship.

The disciples of Christ and the christian church, by thus worshipping him as their Lord, and their God, obeyed the prophetic direction and command given in the 45th psalm. “So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty; for he is thy Lord, and worship thou him.”

Jehovah had abundantly expressed his peculiar displeasure with idolatry, and done much to guard his people, and warn them against it, and all approaches to it: and did often strictly forbid their worshipping any creature, idols, or any god besides himself. And he had often punished them for this sin, as peculiarly provoking to him. He had said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God. Thou shalt worship no other god; for I the Lord, whose name is Jealous, am a jealous God. I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory I will not give unto another, neither my praise to graven images.” If Jesus Christ were not God, even this same 342God, who has said these things, what a contradiction to these declarations and commands, and how inconsistent is it with them to set him so high, as worthy of equal honour with the Father; to call him God, and give him all the power in heaven and earth, and make him head over all things to the church; to represent him as praised, adored, and worshipped, by all the inhabitants in heaven; and to command all the angels in heaven, and the church in earth, to worship him! Were he not the true God, this would be the greatest imaginable, and even an irresistible temptation and encouragement to the most gross idolatry; to worship and trust in him who is not God, but a mere creature. We cannot reconcile the Old Testament with the New, or the New Testament with itself, unless we believe and grant, that Jesus Christ is the true God; for in both, men are repeatedly forbidden to worship, or pay religious homage to any but the only true God: And yet in both, they are commanded to worship Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the King of Israel. And the latter teaches us that he who of old was worshipped by the Seraphim under the name and character of Jehovah, the Lord of hosts, was Jesus Christ.339339   Isaiah vi. 1, 2. John xii. 37-41. But if Jesus Christ be the true Son of God; God with us; God manifest in the flesh, as he is expressly declared to be, all the Bible can be reconciled with itself, and appears perfectly consistent, on this head: While we there behold him who was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God; who appeared and acted from the beginning of the world, and under the Old Testament dispensation, in the form of God, who took to himself the name Jehovah, and the attributes and character of the most high God, and claimed the worship and honours which belong to God alone: While we behold him laying aside his former appearance and glory, and making himself of no reputation; taking upon himself the form of a servant, instead of the form of God, in which he appeared before; being made in the likeness of man: In this view, we shall see the whole scripture to harmonize on this point, and be constrained 343to say with Thomas, “My Lord, and my God!” and join to honour him, even as the Father is honoured; ascribing, with the heavenly hosts, praise, blessing, wisdom, power, dominion and glory, unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever.

And, indeed, if he be not the true God, and to be worshipped as God, who has created all things that ever were created; and upholds them all continually by his powerful word; who has all the power in the universe, and sustains and governs all creatures and things, being head over all things to the church; it will be impossible to find any proper object of worship, or any God to be trusted and adored.

It may be further added, that the religious rite of baptism, instituted by Christ, is a solemn and important act of devotion and worship, in which the name of God is invoked, and the person baptized is dedicated to him with awful solemnity. This religious act of worship is commanded to be done in the name of Christ, in which he joined with the Father and the Holy Ghost. “Go teach all nations, said Christ to his disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”340340   Matt. xxviii. 19. This, properly considered, will appear a demonstration of the divinity of the Son of God, and that he is equally God with the Father; and cannot be accounted for on any other supposition. If Jesus Christ were not God, what a profanation of the sacred name would this be, and what a gross act of idolatry, to join his name with that of the only true God, as equal with him in such a solemn act of covenanting, and religious worship!

The priests in Israel, Aaron and his sons, were appointed and directed to bless, in the name of the Lord, and to say, “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee. The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” This was an act of solemn, religious worship, invoking the name of Jehovah, and calling on him.341341   Num. vi. 23, 24, 25, 26. 1 Chron. xxiii. 13. St. Paul blesses christians, in the name of the same Lord, doubtless, even 344in the name into which they were baptized, saying, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all, Amen.”342342   2 Cor. xiii. 14. This is an act of devotion and worship, in which God is called upon to bless; or he asks this blessing from God. If Jesus Christ were not God, thus to bless in his name, and join him with the true God in this invocation, and act of worship, would be real idolatry. And it is remarkable that as the name Jehovah, or Lord, is mentioned distinctly three times, in the blessing which Aaron and his sons were ordered to pronounce, denoting, as is reasonably supposed, the three, included in that name; so the apostle, blessing in the same name, mentions three, as included in this name, each of which is elsewhere expressly called God, and Lord. And it is worthy of observation here, that as the baptism which Christ ordered to be administered in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is afterwards said to be administered in the name of the Lord, and in the name of Jesus Christ because one of these supposes and comprehends all; so this apostle, who blessed in the name of these same three, does more commonly bless in the name of Jesus Christ. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, be with you;” because he is God, and the whole Trinity is implied in his name: And this is to bless in the name of the adorable three, as really as when they are distinctly mentioned.

Much more may be produced from the holy scriptures to prove and confirm this truth, that Jesus Christ is God; but surely what his been now collected from the sacred oracles on this head, is sufficient to establish this important doctrine in the mind of every honest, unprejudiced person, who is willing properly to attend to it, and to know the truth.

There have been, and now are, indeed, many professing christians, who do not believe; but deny and oppose this doctrine of the divinity of Jesus Christ. These appear to be led to renounce this doctrine, principally for two reasons. First, because they are disposed to reject every doctrine in Christianity, which they cannot 345comprehend, and fully understand, with their boasted reason. They therefore deny the doctrine of the Trinity, as well as this of the divinity of Christ, and many other doctrines, which to them are incomprehensible, and which they therefore pronounce unreasonable. And would they be consistent, they must renounce Christianity itself, and even the belief of the being of a God, and of almost every thing else; for the existence of God is as incomprehensible as the divinity of Christ: And it is above our reason or conception, and contrary to reason as some would improve it, that any being should exist without any cause out of himself; and without beginning to exist; and unchangeable, &c. If the being of a God be admitted, which must be admitted, unless we renounce all reason, we must admit innumerable mysteries, which our minds cannot fathom and comprehend.

And what object is there in universal nature, which can be fully comprehended by us? And what truth is there which respects God or the creature, which can be perfectly understood by us, and which is not attended with seeming contradictions; at least, in the view of some?

Secondly, Another reason of their rejecting the doctrine of the divinity of Christ, is, their not seeing any need of his being God, in order to be the Saviour of men. They entertain such notions of God, the divine law and government, of the nature and demerit of sin, the state of fallen man, &c. that they cannot see any need of atonement for sin, which a creature cannot make, or of any thing to be done by the Redeemer of man, which a mere creature cannot do. Therefore they are resolved not to admit a doctrine which in their view is so incomprehensible and absurd, and at the same time so perfectly useless. They therefore think they find many things in divine revelation inconsistent with this doctrine; and have attempted to explain away those passages of scripture adduced to support it, and to put such a sense upon them as to make them assert no such thing. Their objections, and manner of explaining the scriptures, so as to make them consistent with their believing Jesus Christ to be a mere creature, will not be particularly considered here; as this has been done by many able divines. 346What has been now produced from the scriptures, to prove that Jesus Christ is the true God, it is presumed, is sufficient to satisfy every humble, modest inquirer after the truth, that this doctrine is clearly revealed in the Bible; and in such a manner, that the evidence of it is incontestible, and must be admitted, if we admit the scriptures to be the standard of truth. And this evidence will rise higher, if possible, as we proceed, and when we come to consider the importance and necessity of this doctrine; and that none but a divine person could be the Redeemer of man, consistent with other doctrines and truths of divine revelation; and do and suffer what was necessary to be done and suffered, in order to redeem sinners: That a person who is not God, would be infinitely unequal to this work.

But there is another truth equally important, and plainly revealed, with that which we have been considering, concerning this wonderful person.

II. The Redeemer of sinners is truly and really man. This person is both God and man. The Word, who was God, and created all things that are made, became, and was made flesh, and dwelt among men. He was made in the likeness of men, and was found in fashion as a man, that is, was really man, “the son of man.” He is therefore denominated man, that man, the man Christ Jesus, &c. This necessarily implies that he had a real body and soul; for these are essential to human nature; so that none can be a real man, who has not both these. The history of his conception, birth, life, death and resurrection, states this truth in a clear and unequivocal light. Therefore there is need of nothing farther to be said, to prove that Jesus Christ is really man. But it seems needful to observe and attend to the following things concerning this wonderful, incomprehensible person, God man, and the union of these two natures, in this one person.

1. The human nature of Jesus Christ is not a distinct person, separate from the divine nature, or his Godhead. The human nature exists, and began to exist, in union with the sacred person in the Trinity, the Word; so that both natures are but one person. As the soul and body of a man, though different and distinct 347in their nature; or are two different natures, considered in themselves; yet in union with each other, are but one person.

2. What is true and may be affirmed of either nature, divine and human, is true, and may be affirmed of this person, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer. This same person is God, and he is man. This person was in heaven, and was visible on earth at the same time. “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”343343   John iii. 13. This person who is God-man, Immanuel, God with us, God manifest in the flesh, was put to death in the flesh, that is, in the human nature. He died on the cross, and his blood was poured out there. This being the death, the blood of this person, it was the blood of God, because this person was God.344344   Acts xx. 28. This person is omniscient and unchangeable in his divine nature; but the human nature of this person is not omniscient, nor unchangeable, but did increase in stature, knowledge and wisdom.345345   Luke ii. 52. As God, he is omnipotent and independent; as man, he is altogether dependent. Many other instances of this kind might be mentioned; but these are sufficient to illustrate the observation which has now been mentioned concerning this wonderful, complex person, including two natures perfectly distinct, and infinitely different one from the other.

This matter may be farther explained, and rendered more intelligible, perhaps, by considering the person of a man. Every man is a complex person, consisting of body and soul, of very distinct and different natures, and yet so united, as to make one person. What is true of one of these two parts or natures of man, is not true of both. The body is mortal, the soul is not. The body has dimensions, and visible shape and countenance; the soul has nothing of these, and is not capable of them. And yet, what is true of either of these different parts or natures, is true of the person consisting of these parts. The same person is mortal, as to his body; but is immortal, as to his mind. The person dies, but it is only in one of the constituent parts 348of his person, his body. Therefore this same person may live, when his body is dead. This person, consisting of body and soul, is intelligent, does think and reason. This is true of the person, because his mind is intelligent, thinks and reasons; while his body is not capable of this, &c. &c.

3. These two distinct and infinitely different natures, united in the person of Jesus Christ, are not transformed into each other, so that one becomes the other by this personal union; but remain as distinct and different, in this respect, as if there were no such personal union. The human nature is not God, and has not any of the attributes peculiar to divinity, any more than if it were not united to divinity. And the divine nature of Christ is no more a creature, and has no more the peculiar properties of a man, than if no such personal union of these natures had taken place. Therefore,

4. This personal union of the divine nature, or of God in the second person of the Godhead, with the human nature, does not cause or suppose any change in the former: But as God, this person is unchangeable. The human nature is assumed, or taken into a personal union with the second person of the Trinity, without any change in the divinity or divine nature; And all the change, or that is changeable, is in the human nature.

5. The personality of Jesus Christ is in his divine nature, and not in the human. Jesus Christ existed a distinct divine person from eternity, the second person in the adorable Trinity. The human nature which this divine person, the Word, assumed into a personal union with himself, is not, and never was, a distinct person by itself; and personality cannot be ascribed to it, and does not belong to it, any otherwise than as united to the Logos, the Word of God. The Word assumed the human nature, not a human person, into a personal union with himself, by which this complex person exists, God-man. Had the second person in the Trinity taken a human person into union with himself, and were this possible, Jesus Christ, God and man, would be two persons, not one. Hence, when Jesus 349 Christ is spoken of as being a man, “the son of man, the man Christ Jesus, &c.”—these terms do not express the personality of the manhood, or of the human nature of Jesus Christ; but these personal terms are used with respect to the human nature, as united to a divine person, and not as a mere man. For the personal terms, He, I, and Thou, cannot, with propriety, or truth, be used by, or of the human nature, considered as distinct from the divine nature of Jesus Christ.

6. The mode or manner of the union of the two natures, divine and human, in one person, cannot be described nor conceived by us, it being entirely above our comprehension. This does not, however, render it in the least degree incredible. For could it be comprehended, it would not be a real union, much less a union of the divine nature with the human. For if we cannot comprehend, or have any clear conception of the personal union of our own souls with our bodies; how much more inconceivable must this high and singular union be to us, by which Deity and humanity are united, and become one person!

7. The human nature of Jesus Christ is doubtless unspeakably greater and more excellent than any other creature. This individual of the human race, being raised up to a personal union with him who is God, is the first and chief of all elect creatures, the greatest and most peculiar favourite; and is under the greatest advantages to advance in knowledge and holiness, being brought nearest to God of any creature, and receiving peculiar and more copious communications from him. It is with respect to his human nature, that John the Baptist speaks, when he says of Jesus Christ, “God giveth not the spirit by measure unto him.”346346   John iii. 34. As Jesus Christ increased in wisdom, in knowledge, and holiness, in the human nature, when in this world; so he will doubtless increase in this, and in degrees of existence without end; and make more rapid advances than any mere creature in proportion to the greater favours, and the special advantages enjoyed in the near and peculiar union to the Deity, and the high and important station and offices to 350which the human nature is advanced. May we not from this, and other considerations which might be mentioned, safely conclude, that the human nature of Jesus Christ, is greater in capacity, in knowledge and holiness, and has, or will have, without end, more or a greater degree of existence, worth and happiness, not only than any mere creature, but more and greater than the whole redeemed church, and even all the elect angels, were the latter summed up together? The former, when put in the balance, may exceed it, to a degree beyond all our present conceptions.

8. The human nature of Jesus Christ began to exist when it was conceived in the virgin Mary, and not before. The scripture history of his conception and birth, or the incarnation, and all that is said of it, naturally leads to this conclusion. The reader will have no other idea suggested to his mind, unless he has some particular end to answer by rejecting it; or puts a sense on some other passages of scripture, which is inconsistent with it. Such there have been in former ages, and such there are now in the christian world, who are confident that the soul, or rational creature, which was united to a body in the incarnation, did not then begin to exist, but is the first creature that was made, &c. And they have thought that this sentiment is supported by a number of passages in the Bible. But the writers who have opposed them in this, it is thought, have made it evident that the passages which they allege assert no such thing; but are perfectly consistent with the human nature of Jesus Christ beginning to exist at his incarnation.

The doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul of Jesus Christ, or of that created nature which took a body in the womb of the virgin Mary, appears first to be invented and propagated by Arius, in the fourth century, and, since his time, by his followers. He denied the divinity of Jesus Christ, or that he is the true God equal with the Father; and asserted that he is a mere creature. And in order to support his notion of the Redeemer, and make it consistent with many passages of scripture which represent him as existing before his incarnation, and from the beginning, and speak 351of his creating the world, &c. which his opposers used, to prove that he is a divine person, or the true God, he invented this scheme, and applied them to this pre-existing creature.

This creature, they suppose, was the first creature that was made, and the greatest and most exalted of all creatures, and in this sense is “the first born of every creature; and the beginning of the creation of God.” That he made the world, and had the government of it, at least in some degree, before his incarnation. That he is the Logos, or the Word, which became flesh, and dwelt among men, by taking a body in the womb of the virgin Mary, and being born of her. Thus this glorious creature, who was greater and more honourable than the angels, and placed far above them, in the highest and most dignified station, and made in a sense, a God, and appeared in the form of God, being nevertheless, but a mere creature, made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, &c.

There are others, especially of late, who, though they profess to believe that Jesus Christ is God, in a sense in which the Arians deny it; and that the human nature has a personal union with Deity; yet hold with the Arians, that the created nature of the Redeemer, his body excepted, existed before his incarnation, and was the first creature that was created, &c. They think this to be asserted in several places of scripture; and that many others cannot be well explained on any other supposition. It has been observed, that the divines who have opposed this scheme, have shewn that all these passages of scripture which have been adduced in favour of it, import no such thing; but are perfectly consistent with the human nature of Christ beginning to exist at his incarnation. The labour of repeating what has been written to this purpose, will not now be undertaken, as it may be found in most commentators on the Bible, and in their writings who have opposed the Arian scheme. It may be proper, however, to take notice of two expressions in scripture, which the favourers of this notion have thought to be most express in their favour. Jesus Christ says of himself that he is, “The 352beginning of the creation of God.”347347   Rev. iii. 14. That is, say they, the first creature that was created by God. But these words do not, by the most natural construction, express any such idea. If he existed before the creation of any thing, and did himself begin and finish the creation of God; and is the head and Lord of the creation, and head over all things to the church, all which we have seen the scripture affirm of him; what words could more clearly, and in the most concise manner, express all this than these, “The beginning of the creation of God?” Jesus Christ says of himself repeatedly, in this book of the revelation, “I am the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” By which, is not meant that he began to exist, or was created the first of all; but directly the contrary, viz. that he existed without beginning, and without end, and is the author, the creator, or beginner of all things.348348   Rev. i. 8, xxi. 6, xxii. 15. Jesus Christ is called, “The first born of every creature,” or, as it might be more properly rendered. The first born of the whole creation.349349   Col. i. 15. This, they plead, imports that he is the first creature that was made. But the scripture no where expresses creation by being born: nor is this the natural import of the word. Therefore, these words do not appear to suggest that the Son of God, of whom the apostle is speaking, was created the first of all creatures. There is a more natural and easy sense, consistent with the human nature of Christ beginning to exist at his incarnation. The first born had the preeminence in the family, and was in a peculiar sense the heir. In ancient times, the first born was much distinguished from the rest of the family. He was of course, after his father, the ruler, the king, and priest in the family. Agreeable to this, Jacob addresses his first born son in the following words; “Reuben, thou art my first born, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power.”350350   Gen. xlix. 3. The first born was, in a peculiar sense, the heir; and by his birth had a right to the blessing, and a double portion. Thus Esau, being the first born of Isaac, was heir to the blessing of his father, and to pre-eminence in all 353 respects, as his birth right. In Israel, the first born were in a peculiar sense appropriated to God, and heirs of a double honour and portion, the peculiar favourites. These, in the family of Aaron, were heirs to the high priesthood; and the first born of the kings were heirs of the kingdom. With reference to this, the redeemed are called, “the church of the first born,”351351   Heb. xii. 23. God says to Pharaoh, “Israel is my son, even my first born.”352352   Exod. iv. 22. And he says, “I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first born—My dear son, a pleasant child.”353353   Jer. xxxi. 9, 20. In these passages first born has no reference to priority of existence; but to pre-eminence, and their being subjects of peculiar favours, honours, and privileges. In this sense, it is predicted of Christ, “I will make him my first born, higher than the kings of the earth.”354354    Psalm lxxxix. 27. When all this is considered, who can be at a loss about the meaning of the expression before us? “The first born of the whole creation.” He is the highest, most honourable, the peculiar favourite, the king, the head and the heir of the whole creation; in all things having the pre-eminence above every other creature; for all things were created for him.355355   Verse 16. The apostle fully explains himself in these and the following words, “And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence.” In this sense, “he is the first born among many brethren.”356356   Rom. vii. 29. But if we understand his being the first born of every creature, as expressing his priority of existence to the whole creation, it must be understood not of his human, but of his divine nature; for this person exists before all, worlds, and without beginning, as has been proved. Agreeable to this, the apostle goes on to say,357357   Verse 17. ”And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” This is true of this person, but cannot be true of the human nature, that it exists before all things, that is, all created things.

But it may be farther observed, that it is not only consistent with the whole of divine revelation, to consider the human nature of the Redeemer, as beginning 354to exist at his incarnation; and not only that no important or good end is answered by the contrary supposition: But it appears to be contrary to the current of scripture, and of a dangerous and bad tendency. For,

First. This notion appears inconsistent with the true and real manhood of Jesus Christ, or with his taking upon him the human nature, and being a real man, which the scripture abundantly asserts, as we have seen» If the creature w4iich took a body by the incarnation were the first and greatest creature that was ever created, he was no more a man, no more like and akin to the human race, or the nature of man, than the angels; but was more distant from man than they, as he was much greater and higher than they. But if an angel should take upon him a real human body, this would not make him a man, or one of the human race. Gabriel, indeed, who was sent from heaven to Daniel, is called “The man Gabriel;” and the angels which appeared to Lot, and to the women who visited the sepulchre where Christ had been laid, are called men; because they appeared in the shape of men: But no one supposes they were real men; nor would they have been any more so, had they been united to real bodies. A man has not only a human body, but a human soul; both these are essential constituents of human nature, and necessary to make a man. The angelic nature, or superangelic, as such a supposed creature may be called, does not, and cannot be made human nature, or be made a real man, so as to be one of the human race, by uniting to a human body. He still will be an angel, or a creature of a higher order, and not a man. A distinction is made between angels and men, or the seed of Abraham, and it is said, that Jesus did not unite himself to the former, but to the latter. “For as much as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same. For verily he took not an him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.”358358    Heb. ii. 14, 16. Had the Eternal Word united himself to an angel, and taken a human body, he would have been an angel, and not a man; not the seed of the woman, or of Abraham. This would not have formed the relation of brethren between him and mankind; but between him and angels.

355

“It behoved him to be made like unto his brethren in all things;”359359    Heb. ii. 17. which he could not have been, had he not taken upon him human nature, consisting in a human soul and body. Had he united himself to an angel, or any other creature of an higher order, and then that creature, united by the Word, have taken a human body, he would not have been made in all things like unto his brethren; but on the contrary, he would have taken but a very inconsiderable part of the human nature; and be far from being a man. This supposed first and greatest creature cannot, with any propriety or truth, be called a human soul, more than any other supposable, or possible creature that could be made: Nor would his union to a human body make him any more a human soul, than if he were not so united. A human soul comes into existence in union with the body, by which human nature, or the human creature, comes into existence.

If this argument has any weight in it, is it not a sufficient reason for rejecting a scheme which does not appear to have any foundation in the sacred Oracles, and will not give any better or more exalted conceptions of the Redeemer, than the common opinion, which views his human nature as beginning to exist at the incarnation? But there are other objections to this scheme: For,

Secondly, If only the body of Jesus came into existence, and was formed in the womb of the virgin Mary, he could not be really her son, or the Son of man, conceived by her, in her womb, as the scripture says he was. She who conceives and brings forth a son, is as really, and as much the mother of his soul, as of his body, and the former is conceived and formed in her womb as much as the latter; and is the greater and chief part of the child or son; yea, the most essential part, without which he would not be a son; but a monster, a body without a soul. Therefore, Mary’s conception of her son did imply the conception of soul and body, otherwise she could not be said to conceive a son. The virgin Mary, and Elizabeth, are each of them said to conceive a son.360360   Luke i. 31, 36. All must allow that the latter conceived a child, with a human soul and body; otherwise 356it would not have been the conception of a son. And why must not Mary’s conception of a son imply the same? If not, how could he be her son, conceived by her?

It is a mistake which some have made, who have supposed that the parents of a child, are the parents or authors of the body, and are instruments of producing that only, and not the soul of the child. They are the cause of one as much as the other, and no more. They are not the efficient cause of either. God is the cause of the existence of both soul and body; of the latter just as much as the other; both come into existence according to a law of nature, by which parents are made the instrumental cause of the production of the child, consisting of both soul and body. The mother, therefore, according to a law of nature, conceives both the soul and body of her son; she does as much towards the one, as towards the other, and is equally the instrumental cause of both; and God is as much the efficient, and immediate cause of the existence of the one as of the other. The human nature of Jesus was conceived not according to a stated law of nature; but in a miraculous way: Yet Mary as really conceived him, and he was as really her son, as if he had been conceived, according to the ordinary course of nature. But he was not conceived by her, neither could he be her son, if his soul, or that creature which took a body in her womb, had existed a mighty, glorious creature, thousands of years before this, as in this case she must have conceived nothing but a body; which is no conception, according to the proper use of the word; and could not be a son.

Thirdly, We find it is the way and manner of the governor of the world, first to put his creatures, who are moral agents, upon trial, that through the appointed time of trial they may exercise and manifest submission to him, and obedience to the law and commands under which they are placed, before he admits them to glory, and publicly confirms them in happiness, that the latter may be the reward of the former, as a testimony of his approbation of their obedience; and this appears highly reasonable and proper. To make a creature and set 357 him above every other creature, and confer upon him great and distinguishing honours, as being the greatest favourite, without putting him in a state of trial, and before he had performed any signal act of obedience, would be contrary to God’s way of dealing with his creatures, so far as our acquaintance reaches, and would be very unreasonable, and altogether unbecoming the moral governor of the world, so far as we can judge. But the notion of the pre-existence of the human nature of Jesus Christ, (if on this plan it can be properly called human nature, or a human soul, which indeed it cannot) supposes that God has dealt so with this creature. He made him the first and highest of all creatures; and honoured him by making him the creator of all things, visible and invisible, angels and men; or using him as the great agent or instrument in this work; and set him over all creatures and things, as the director and governor of all worlds, in a state of high exaltation and glory; in which he continued four thousand years, before the great trial of his obedience took place. This therefore, is not to be admitted as true, or any part of the divine plan and conduct, without some cogent reasons which have not yet been produced; or unless it be plainly asserted in divine revelation, which is so far from being true, that it seems to speak a contrary language.

But if, contrary to this notion, the human nature of Jesus Christ first began to exist at the incarnation, and he increased in wisdom and stature until he arrived to manhood, in a state and circumstances of trial; and persevered in a state of temptation, trial and suffering, and in obedience, in the form of a servant, unto death, even the death of the cross; and after this, and as a reward for such obedience and sufferings, “God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name;”—This is perfectly agreeable to God’s conduct as moral governor of the world in other instances; and appears to be most reasonable and proper, and is suited to answer the best ends.

Fourthly, The doctrine of the pre-existence of the creature, which was united to the human body in the womb of the virgin Mary, not only has no foundation 358in divine revelation, and is useless and unreasonable; but appears to be of a dangerous and bad tendency.

Arius, and his followers, have espoused this notion in order to support, and render more plausible their denial of the divinity of Jesus Christ, or that he is truly God as well as man. By applying those passages of scripture to this supposed creature, which their opposers adduced to prove his divinity, and applied to Christ as God, and the second person in the Trinity; which has occasioned so much dispute in the christian world, in the fourth century, and since. It was therefore first advanced and improved to support an error, which really subverts Christianity. This gives just ground of suspicion, that it is itself an error: And it ought not to be received, until it be carefully examined and found to be well supported, and clearly asserted by divine oracles.

And though many who now embrace this notion of the pre-existence of the human nature of Jesus Christ, do not consider themselves as giving up his divinity; or that they are doing any thing in the least inconsistent with this doctrine, or that tends in any degree to weaken or injure it; but hold that this pre-existing creature was united to the Deity, so as to be a divine person, and not a mere creature; yet they, by applying all or most of those passages of scripture to this dignified creature, which they who do not admit this opinion consider as properly applicable to the second person in the Trinity, who in the fulness of time took upon him human nature, do, in a measure, at least, obscure and weaken the doctrine of the divinity of Christ; and that of the Trinity of persons in the Deity; and hereby give great advantage to those who deny and oppose these doctrines.

And this is rather confirmed, than otherwise, by fact and experience; since many, if not most of those who have embraced this sentiment of the pre-existence of the human nature of the Redeemer, give up the doctrine of the Trinity, of three distinct persons subsisting eternally in one God, independent of his works, or manner of operation, or at least doubt about the truth of it; and are rather inclined to consider this first and greatest creature, 359as a divine person, by a peculiar union to Deity, or to God; not considering him as subsisting in three persons, or in any sense three, considered in himself; but only in his different manner of acting, and distinct offices in his relation to his creatures, and works respecting them. And as this notion takes away and annihilates the divinity of Christ, as a distinct person in the Godhead, it tends to obscure and even remove the idea of his being really and properly God, and to consider him as a creature no otherwise united to God, than by having the divine presence and assistance in a peculiar and extraordinary manner and degree; and enjoying the peculiar favour and love of the Deity: That his divinity consists in this, and nothing more; and that his personality consists wholly in his nature, as a creature, as a distinct person from all other creatures, and vastly superior to them all; and not in his divinity, or divine nature. And as this scheme makes the Logos, or Word, to be the first and greatest of all creatures, they apply all those passages of scripture which speak of Jesus Christ before his incarnation to this creature, who, by taking the human body, became a man. Thus they are naturally, and even necessarily, led to give up the divinity of Jesus Christ, as it has been held by those who have acknowledged and adored him as the true God; and find themselves not to differ in their idea of the Redeemer, in any thing essential or important from the Arians, who have always denied the divinity of Christ, as it has been held by the greatest part of professing christians, in all ages. And this has been realized by fact in too many instances, of those who have embraced the notion of the pre-existence of the human nature of Christ. They have gone on to disbelieve and deny that he is truly God, or at least, to hesitate and doubt of it. And there is reason to fear, and even to expect, that if this notion prevails, a denial of the real divinity of the Redeemer will keep pace with it, and Jesus Christ, instead of being honoured by it, will be degraded infinitely below what he has been believed to be by the christian church in general, in all ages, and deprived of the honours which have been given to him; and which 360 are ascribed to him in the divine oracles, as has been proved above.

When all this is well considered, viz. That the doctrine of the pre-existence of Jesus Christ, as a creature, is no where expressly, or by implication, asserted in the scripture, and is not so consistent with it, as the contrary doctrine;—:hat it is at best a useless notion, and can answer no good end;—that it is not reasonable, and is contrary to the divine conduct, as moral governor;—that it is inconsistent with his being a real man, or the son of the virgin Mary;—that it appears in theory, and from fact and experience, to be of a dangerous and bad tendency; even to the dishonour of Christ, and the denial of his divinity; and consequently to sap the very foundation of christianity;—that it has been invented and propagated by those who have denied that the Redeemer of men is the true God, equal with the Father, in order to render their opposition to this doctrine more plausible;—that the best and most sound part of the church, and those who have been most eminent for wisdom and grace, and a conduct most agreeable to the gospel, have not received but rejected this doctrine:—If all this appears to be true; or if it be in part, and in some measure agreeable to the truth; may not this notion be rejected with safety and a degree of confidence? Yea, ought we not to renounce it, and embrace the contrary, which has been received by the christian church in general, from the days of the apostles, and supported by the best divines?

9. The human nature of Jesus Christ never was tainted with the least moral corruption; but is perfectly holy. This is repeatedly asserted of him in the scriptures; and was absolutely necessary in order to his being the Redeemer of man. “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled» separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.”361361   Heb. vii. 26. But how he could be a man, descend from Adam, and be really one of the human race, and not partake of the common corruption of mankind, has been a question of no small importance. This inquiry is answered by observing. That though by a divine 361 constitution, all the posterity of Adam in a constituted natural way, or according to the established course of nature, are born in a state of total moral corruption, in consequence of his apostasy; which has been proved in a former chapter; yet this did not reach or affect the human nature of Jesus Christ, as he was conceived and born in a supernatural and miraculous way, and had no human father.

When the constitution and covenant was made with Adam, and his natural posterity, it was not determined by any thing in this constitution, that there would be any such person as that of the Mediator, as it did not appear by any thing in that covenant, that there would be any need of a Redeemer; he was not, therefore, included in this constitution and covenant, as all the natural posterity of Adam were; but was introduced in consequence of the breach of that covenant; consequently, he did not partake of the moral pollution and depravity which came upon the natural posterity of Adam, who were included in that covenant. And he is not only not one included in the covenant made with Adam; as he does not descend from him in the ordinary, natural way; but he is “the Lord from heaven.” The human nature of Christ began to exist in a personal union with the second person in the Triune God, and so is infinitely distinguished from the rest of the children of Adam.”362362   1 Cor. xv. 47.

10. The incarnation of Jesus Christ, or his becoming man, by his taking the human nature into a personal union with the divine, is no part of his humiliation, nor is, in itself, in any respect or degree, degrading, laying aside, or hindering his glory. The manner and circumstances of his incarnation, in his being born of a poor virgin, in an infant state, and lodged in a stable, and attended with the innocent infirmities of the human nature, and in it suffering disgrace, pain and death, are all parts of the humiliation of Christ; but the incarnation itself is no part of it. If it were, he would be in a state of humiliation now, and forever hereafter; for he is a man now, and will continue to be such a person eternally.

362

The union of the divine nature with the human, is an instance of wonderful condescension and grace, and will be celebrated as such, by the redeemed forever. But the second person in the Trinity will not be less, but more honoured and glorious forever, than if he were not man, as well as God.

III. The Redeemer is the Son of God, in a peculiar and appropriated sense, and by which he is distinguished from every other person in the universe. He is therefore called the first begotten, or first born son of God: his only begotten son; his own son; and eminently The Son, and The Son of the Father. His dear Son; or, as it is in the original, The Son of his love; His beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased. “For he received from God the Father, honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory. This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”363363   2 Peter i. 17. He is “The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father.”364364   John i. 18. Who only knows the Father; and none does or can reveal and make him known but the Son.365365   Matt. xi. 27 John i. 18. He being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person; he that hath seen the Son, hath seen the Father.366366   John xiv. 9. Heb. i. 3. Which epithets and declarations distinguish him from all other sons; as much as his Father is distinguished from all other fathers. He is mentioned as the Son of God above an hundred times in the New Testament; and fifty times by the apostle John. And the Father of Jesus Christ, the Son, is mentioned above two hundred and twenty times; and more than one hundred and thirty times in the gospel and epistles of St. John. Jesus Christ often makes use of the epithets, The Father, My Father, &c. This character is represented as essential to the Redeemer and peculiar to him, and is an essential article of the christian faith. This confession Peter made as the common faith of the disciples of Christ. “We believe, and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”367367   John vi. 69. Matt. xvi. 16. This was the Eunuch’s faith, required in order to his being baptized. “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”368368   Acts viii. 37. And he who believes with all his heart, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, hath 363 the Son, and with him eternal life. When Peter made this confession, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God,” Christ said to him, “Blessed art thou; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”369369   Matt. xvi. 16, 17. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life.”370370   John iii. 36. And John says, “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God! He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God: that ye may know ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”371371   1 John iv. 15. v. 5, 12, 13.

It must be farther observed, that this title, the Son of God, is the highest title that is given to the Redeemer, and denotes his divinity, or that he is himself God, and therefore equal with the Father, if his divinity be any where expressed in the Bible; and that it is there abundantly declared, we have before shewed. He styles himself, and is called The Son of Man, more than eighty times in the New Testament, by which epithet his humanity is more especially denoted, but not excluding his divinity. And, on the contrary, he is called the Son of God, more particularly to express his infinitely superior character, his divinity or godhead. In this view, let the following passages be considered. When the angel who declared to the virgin Mary that she should be the mother of the Messiah, expressed to her the greatness of this her Son, he does it by saying that he should be called the Son of the Highest, the Son of God. “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest. Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.”372372   Luke i. 32, 35.If this were not his greatest, his highest title and character, he most certainly would have given him a higher, and one that did fully express divinity. This, therefore, did express it in the fullest and strongest manner. And no one who 364believes in the divinity of Christ, can, consistently, have any doubt of it. And when the Father gives him the highest encomium, and recommends him to men, as worthy of their highest regards, implicit obedience, and unlimited trust and confidence, and commands them thus to regard, love, trust in, and obey him, this is the highest character he gives him, by which his divinity is expressed, “This is my beloved Son, in whom lam well pleased: Hear ye him.” If this does not express his divinity, we may be sure divinity is no part of his character; and that he is not God. So, when Peter undertakes to express the idea he had of the high and glorious character of his Lord and Master, he does it in the following words, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” If Peter believed the divinity of Christ, he certainly expressed this in these words; for he did not conceive of any higher character, that could be given in any other words. This also appears by Nathaniel’s using this epithet, when he was struck with wonder and surprise at the omniscience of Christ. “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel.”373373   John i. 49. When our Lord Jesus Christ proposed himself to the man whom he had restored to sight, as the proper object of his faith and trust, he said to him, “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” And when he told the man that he himself was the person, he said, “Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.”374374   John ix. 35, 38. It appears from this, that Son of God, was the highest title which Jesus assumed, and that this had special reference to, and expressed his divinity; and therefore in this character, and as the Son of God, this pious man paid him divine honour, and worshipped him. When the disciples of our Lord, and all that were in the ship with them, had seen him walking upon the sea, in the midst of a terrible storm, and reducing the boisterous winds, and raging waves, to a calm, by his word and presence, they were struck with a fresh and affecting conviction of his divinity, that he was God, and expressed it by coming to him, falling down and worshipping him, “saying, of a truth, thou art the Son of God.”375375   Matt. xiv. 33. In which words they expressed his divinity, and gave a 365reason for their worshipping him, as their Lord and their God, viz. that they were sure from clear and abundant evidence, that he was the Son of God. The apostle John, when he would represent Jesus Christ in his highest and most glorious character, gives him this title, and adds, “This is the true God.” He says, “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true: And we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”376376   1 John v. 20.

It is to be farther observed, that when our Lord said to the Jews. “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,” the Jews, therefore, sought the more to kill him, because he said that God was his Father, (his own proper Father, as it is in the original) making himself equal with God.” This is to be understood as the sense which St. John the Evangelist puts upon the words of Christ, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” For this was making himself equal with God the Father, as doing the same work with him: And this is represented as implied in God’s being his own Father; or in his being the Father’s own Son, the Son of God. But if we understand it as the sense which the Jews put upon the words of Christ, and that they said this was making himself equal with God, it amounts to the same thing; for it appears that their inference was just; and our Saviour is so far from denying it to be true, that in his reply to them, he confirms it, and asserts that whatsoever the Father does, the Son does the same; and instances in his raising the dead, and judging the world, and having all things, and all power in his hands. “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.”377377   John v. 17-18. Thus he makes the Son equal with the Father. Hence it appears that to be the Son of God, and God’s own Son, is the same with a divine person, and denotes one who is truly God; and that this title is used to express the divinity, rather than the humanity of Jesus Christ.

The same appears from what passed between our Lord and the Jews at another time. He said to them, “I and my Father are One.” This, they said, was blasphemy, because being a man, he made himself 366God. It is plain from the answer which he makes to them that they considered him as a blasphemer, because he claimed to be the Son of God, by calling God his Father. “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?” This was the blasphemy with which they charged him; because they considered his saying, that he was the Son of God, by calling God his Father, as an assertion that he was God.378378   John x. 30, 33, 36. And it appears, not only from this passage, but from others, that the Jews, and others, did affix the idea of divinity to the Son of God, and considered this title as expressing a character infinitely above a mere creature. When Jesus was arraigned before the Jewish council, the High Priest charged him with the solemnity of an oath, saying, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us, whether thou be the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And when Jesus answered in the affirmative, he with all the members of the council, charged him with blasphemy; and pronounced him worthy of death for making this claim.379379   Matt. xxvi. 64, 65, 66. And they brought this accusation against him to Pilate, “We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When, therefore, Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid.”380380   John xix. 7, 8. By this, it is evident that Pilate considered the Son of God, to imply divinity. When the Centurion, and the guard who were with him, saw the earthquake and the other supernatural events which attended the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, “they feared greatly, saying. Truly this was the Son of God.”381381   Matt. xxvii. 54. From this, it is evident that they considered the Son of God to be more than a man, at least, if not really God.

There was some idea and belief propagated among other nations, as well as the Jews, of an extraordinary personage, a divinity, who was denominated The Son of God, and who was to make his appearance in the world. To this, Nebuchadnezzar doubtless had reference, when he said, that in a vision, he saw a fourth person, 367walking in the midst of the fire of the furnace into which he had cast three men; and that none of them had been hurt by the fire; and the form of the fourth was like the Son of God.382382   Dan. iii. 25. And who but this divine person can be meant by Agur, when he says, “Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his Son’s name, if thou canst tell?”383383   Prov. xxx. 4.

This epithet and character we find expressly mentioned by David, the divinely inspired king of Israel, in the second Psalm. And he is there introduced and described, as a divinity, who claims divine homage, trust, and worship, as the Omnipotent heir, possessor and ruler of the world. “I will declare the decree. The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art MY SON, this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”384384   This is an incontestible proof that the Son is God, even Jehovah The Psalmist often says, “Blessed are they, blessed is the man who trusteth in the Lord.” And here he says, Blessed are all they who trust in the Son of God. And yet forbids us to put our trust in any but God. “Put not your trust in princes, or in the son of man, in whom there is no help. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” [Psalm cxlvi. 3, 5.] And he says, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” [Psalm lxii. 5.] They only are blessed, who trust in God; and all others are cursed. “Thus saith the Lord, Cursed be the man that trusteth in man. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.” [Jer. xvii. 5, 7.] They are blessed, who trust in the Son of God. Therefore he is the Lord. From this ancient oracle in Israel, and from a revelation which was made upon the first apostasy, and handed down by tradition, not only the Jews, but also those of other nations who had any particular connexion with them, were taught to consider 368the expected Messiah as the Son of God in a peculiar and appropriated sense; and as implying real divinity. Therefore, it was supposed on all hands, that this person, the Son of God, the King of Israel, the King of the Jews, was to be worshipped as worthy to receive divine honours. Hence the wise men from the East, being admonished of the birth of this glorious personage, came to worship him, to pay him divine honours; for which they had a particular warrant, having had him pointed out to them by a star, which was a known symbol, or hieroglyphic of the Divinity, or a God. And Herod took it for granted, that this person was to be worshipped, and receive divine honours. For he said to the wise men, “When ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.”

All this will be of no weight, indeed, and as nothing with the Anti-trinitarians, the Sebellians; and with all those who deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Arians and Socinians. But they who believe in a Trinity of persons in the Deity, and that Jesus Christ is God, the second person of the Trinity, must be sensible that he is called the Son of God, the Son of the Father, with a special reference to his divine nature, and to denote his Godhead, as the second person in the Triune God.—The Arians and Socinians hold that he is the Son of God, considered as a mere creature, being by this distinguished from all other creatures; and consequently that there was no Son of God before this creature did exist. The latter, or Trinitarians, believe that the Sonship of Jesus Christ, necessarily includes his divinity; but are not all agreed as to the foundation of his Sonship, and in what it consists. It has been generally believed, and the common doctrine of the church of Christ, from the beginning of the fourth century, and so far as appears from the days of the apostles to this time, that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God: That his Sonship is essential to him, as the second person in the Trinity, and that in this sense he is the only begotten Son of the Father, antecedent to his incarnation, and independent on it, even from eternity. But there are some who think that the Sonship of the Redeemer consists in an 369union of the second person of the Trinity, or the Word, with the human nature; and that lie became the Son of God by becoming man; and therefore before the incarnation, there was no Son of God, though there were a Trinity of persons in the Godhead. This opinion seems to be rather gaining ground, and spreading, of late.

Those on each side of this question differ in their opinion of the importance of it, and of the bad tendency of either of these opposite sentiments. Some suppose that the difference is of little or no importance, as both believe the Redeemer to be God and man, in one person, and that he is the Son of God, and that this implies his divinity, though they differ in opinion respecting the time and manner of his filiation. Others think this is a difference so great and important, and attended with such consequences; and that those who are opposed to them on this point embrace such a great and dangerous error, that they ought to be strenuously opposed: and consequently do not desire an accommodation, or think it possible.

Though it be needless and improper here to undertake the labour of entering into all the arguments which have been produced, or may be mentioned in support of each side of this question; yet the following observations may not be altogether useless; but may be of some help to form a judgment upon this point, agreeable to the scriptures.

1. As this question respects the character of the Redeemer, it may justly be considered as an important one; as every thing relating to his character is very important and interesting. Who would be willing to be found at last taking the wrong side of this question; and always to have entertained so unbecoming ideas and conceptions of the Redeemer, which his must be, if on this point he embraces and contends for that which is directly contrary to the truth? Though such an error should not be fatal to him who embraces it, but be consistent with his being a real christian; yet it must be a very criminal mistake, and dishonourable to Jesus Christ; as every idea of him must be, which is contrary to his true character: For that is so perfect and glorious, 370that nothing can be taken from it, or added to it, which will not mar and dishonour it. His character, as it respects the question before us, is without doubt properly and clearly stated in divine revelation, and if we embrace that which is contrary to the truth, it must be wholly our own fault, and a very criminal abuse of the advantages which we enjoy, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ his Son, whom he has sent. Those considerations ought to awaken our attention to this subject, and excite a concern and earnest desire to know and embrace the truth; which will be attended with a modest, humble, diligent inquiry, sensible of the danger in which we are, through prejudice, or from other causes, of embracing error; and earnestly looking to the great Prophet to lead us into the truth.

2. What has been observed above, and, it is believed, made evident, viz. that the term, Son of God, so often given to Christ, is used to denote his divine nature, and to express his divinity, rather than his humanity, seems naturally, if not necessarily, to lead us to consider this character as belonging to him independent of his union to the human nature, and antecedent to his becoming man; and therefore, that it belongs to him as God, the second person in the Trinity. For if his Sonship consists in his union to the human nature, and he became a son, only by becoming a man; then this character depends wholly upon this union, and is derived from his being made flesh: Therefore this epithet could not be properly used to denote his divinity, independent of his humanity, or what he is as a divine person, antecedent to his incarnation; or to express his divine, rather than his human nature. And Son of God, would be no higher a character, and express no more than Son of man; which is contrary to the idea which the scripture gives us on this head, as has been shown.

This may, perhaps, be in some measure illustrated by the following instance. The son of a nobleman of the first honour and dignity, came from Europe, and married the daughter of a plebeian in America, by which he became his son: But as his honour and dignity did not consist in his marrying this woman, or in 371 his being the son of the plebeian, by this union with his daughter, but in his original character; no man thought of expressing his highest and most dignified character by which he was worthy of the greatest respect, by using an epithet which denoted only his union to that woman, and which was not applicable to him in any other view; or by calling him son, as expressing this new relation: But the highest title which they gave him, was that which had a special respect to, and expressed his original character, which he sustained antecedent to this union; and in which his highest dignity consisted. And he being the son of a nobleman and a lord, in which all his honour and dignity did consist, they used this phrase, My noble Lord, to express their highest respect, and his most worthy character. This epithet was always used to express his original and highest character and relation, and could not, with propriety, be used to express any thing else. He was often called, indeed, the son of the plebeian, when they designed particularly to express his union to his wife, and speak of him as standing in this relation.

3. The Son of God is spoken of in many instances, if not in every one where this term is used, so as will naturally lead the reader to consider him as sustaining this character and relation antecedent to his incarnation, and independent of it. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.”385385    John iii. 16. Do not these words seem to express this idea, viz. that there existed an only begotten son, antecedent to his being given; that God gave this his Son to the world by his becoming flesh, and being united to the human nature; and not that he became his Son by this union? “In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins.”386386   1 John iv. 9, 10. If God sent his only begotten Son into the world, does not this suppose he had a Son to send, antecedent to his sending him; and that he did not become his Son by his sending him into the world, or only in consequence of this? This is expressed in the 372same manner by St. Paul. “But when the fulness of time was come God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.”387387   Gal. iv. 4. The Son was sent forth. Does not this seem at least to imply that there was a Son to be sent forth antecedent to his being made of a woman, and that he was not made a Son, by being made of a woman, or becoming man? “No man hath seen God at any time: The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”388388   John i. 18. Do not these words naturally lead us to conceive of the only begotten Son as existing in the nearest union with the Father as his Son, independent of the human nature?

It is said, “God was manifested in the flesh.”389389   1 Tim. iii. 26. It would be unnatural and absurd to suppose, from this > expression, that Jesus Christ was not God, antecedent to his being manifested in the flesh, and that by his becoming man, he became a God. Directly the contrary to this is asserted, viz. that he who is God from eternity, did in time appear in the human nature, and manifested himself to be God, independent of the flesh, in which he appeared. It is also said, “For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”390390   1 John iii. 8. These two passages appear to be parallel. God manifested in the flesh, and the Son of God manifested, are two expressions of the same thing. From this it may be inferred, that the Son of God, and God, are synonymous here, and of the same import. This serves to confirm what has been said above of the use and meaning of the term, Son of God. And may it not with equal certainty be inferred from these two passages, compared together, that the Son of God existed in this character as the Son of God, antecedent to his manifestation in the flesh, and independent of it; and that he did not become the Son of God by being made flesh? If God be manifested in the flesh, there must be a God to be manifested antecedent to such manifestation, and independent of it. And is it not equally certain that if the Son of God be manifested, he must have existed the Son of God, antecedent to such manifestation, and independent of it? Consequently he did not become the Son of God by his being 373manifested .in the flesh: His Sonship does not consist in the union of the divine and human natures in one person. His personality existed before this union with the human nature; and he was the Son of God before this: This same Son of God, this same person who existed without beginning, assumed the human nature, not a human person, into a union with himself, his own person, and so appeared, was manifested in the flesh. ♦

When David speaks of the Son of God, and represents the Father as saying, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,” so long before his incarnation, the idea which most naturally arises in the mind from this is, that there was then such a person as the Son, who did at that time declare the decree, by the mouth of David; and not, that there should in some future time be a Son begotten, who should then declare the decree. “I will declare the decree: The Lord said unto me, thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.” It is very unnatural, and contrary to all propriety of speech to suppose, “this day have I begotten thee,” means I will beget thee in some future time; and that the Son should be made to declare the decree, long before any such person existed; and when there was in fact no such Son. The decree which the Son declares is not that declaration, “Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee;” but what follows, “ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, &:c.” “This day,” that is, now, not in time which is passed, or which is to come; for with God there is no succession, no time passed or to come; but he exists, as we may say, in one eternal, unsuccessive now. Therefore, when he speaks of an eternal, immanent act, it is most properly expressed thus, “This day, or now, have I begotten thee.” This therefore is the sense in which the best divines have generally understood it.

St. Paul cites this passage as being illustrated and verified in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.391391   Acts xiii. 33. But he cannot mean that he by the resurrection became the Son of God, and was then begotten: for he had this title 374before that. His meaning is explained by himself in his epistle to the Romans. “Declared lo be the Son of God, by the resurrection from the dead.”392392   Rom. i. 4. That is, this was a fresh and open manifestation and declaration that he was indeed what had been often asserted of him, and what he always was: The only begotten Son of God.

What the angel said to the virgin Mary, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the highest—The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee: Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God,” cannot reasonably be understood as a declaration that his sonship consisted in his miraculous conception, or in the union of the second person of the Trinity with the human nature, thus conceived: But that this child, conceived in this manner, and born of a virgin, should appear, and be known to be the Son of God, that very person who had been spoken of and known in all past ages by this title; of whom Isaiah had particularly spoken, when he said, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder: And his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God:”393393   Isaiah vii. 14. ix. 6. That this Son was now to be born of the virgin Mary: The long expected Messiah, who is considered and spoken of by the people of God, by the title of the Son of God, which title he shall bear, as he is indeed the mighty God.

We are naturally lead to consider the Son of God as existing in this character before his incarnation, and the same with the Word, by what is said of him in the first chapter of John. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld his glory as of the only begotten of the Father. No man hath seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, this was he of whom I spake, he that cometh after me, is preferred before me: For he was before me. And I saw, and bear 375record that this is the Son of God.” Here John is represented as asserting that the Son of God, concerning whom he bore witness, did exist before him, which therefore must be before his incarnation; for John was conceived before the incarnation of Jesus. But how can this be true, if there were no Son of God, before John existed? But if we consider the Word and the Son of God as synonymous, who was in the beginning with God, and who was God, and created all things, this whole chapter will be plain and easy to be understood; and we shall see John bearing witness to the Son of God, who existed before him in this character, and was now come in the flesh.

We find the same representation made in the epistle to the Hebrews. “God, who spake in time past unto the fathers, by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things; by whom also he made the worlds. Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power,” &c. How could God make the worlds by his Son, four thousand years before he had a Son; and on this supposition, where is the propriety or truth of this assertion? And how could the Son be said to uphold all things by the word of his power, thousands of years before any Son existed? “And again, when he bringeth the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” This expression naturally suggests the idea that God the Father had a first begotten Son to bring into the world, whom he commanded the angels to worship. How can he be said to bring his first begotten Son into the world, when he had no such Son to bring into the world; and indeed never did bring this his Son into the world, if he was begotten, and received his sonship in this world, when he took the human nature in the womb of the virgin, and was not a son before?

Again, speaking of Melchisedec, he says, he was “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God.”394394   Heb. vii. 3. If there were no Son 376 of God till the human nature of Christ existed, then the Son of God did begin to exist; consequently there was a beginning of his days; and Melchisedec was not made like him, but unlike to him, by having no beginning of days.

Since there are so many passages of scripture, (and there are many more than have now been mentioned) which seem to represent the Redeemer as the Son of God, antecedent to his incarnation, and independent of it, which will naturally lead those who attend to them to this idea of him; and some of them cannot be easily reconciled to the contrary opinion; this will fully account for the generally received doctrine in the christian world from the earliest ages to this time, viz. That the Redeemer of man is the second person in the Trinity, the eternal Son of God, who in the fulness of time was made flesh, by a personal union with the human nature.

4. It is worthy of consideration, whether the contrary opinion, viz. That the Redeemer is the Son of God, only by the second person in the Trinity being united to human nature, and becoming man, does not naturally lead to dangerous and evil consequences; and what good end is to be answered by it? If it be not agreeable to scripture, we know it must be dangerous and hurtful in a greater or less degree, (as all errors respecting the person and character of the Redeemer are) and naturally tends to lead into other mistakes, still greater, and of worse consequence. And if it be agreeable to scripture, it certainly has no bad tendency. If, therefore, it does appear from reasoning upon it, or from fact and experience, that this opinion tends to evil consequences, and has a bad effect; we may safely conclude that it is wrong, and contrary to divine revelation.

1. Does not this sentiment tend to lower our ideas of the Redeemer, and lead into a way of thinking less honourably of him? It has been observed that it appears from scripture, that this title, Son of God, was used to express the highest and most honourable idea which his friends had of his person and character. But if we understand by it, nothing but what takes place by his union 377 to man, by taking flesh upon him, and consider it as signifying nothing but what took place by his becoming man, nothing is expressed by it more than by Son of man: And we are left without any epithet or common scripture phrase, whereby to express the divinity, the Godhead of the Redeemer, and his equality with the Father. Thus, instead of raising our conceptions of the Redeemer, does it not tend to sink them? Does not the sonship of Christ become an infinitely less and more inconsiderable matter, upon this plan, than that which has always been esteemed the orthodox sentiment on this point, which considers his sonship, as wholly independent of the whole creation, as eternal, and altogether divine?

We live in an age when the enemies of the Redeemer lift up their heads, and are suffered to multiply and prevail. The deists attempt to cast him out as an imposter. Arians and Socinians strip him of his divinity: And the careless, ignorant, immoral and profane, treat him with contempt or neglect. This is agreeable to his great enemy, Satan; who seems now to be let loose in an unusual degree, and has uncommon power among men, to lead them into gross errors, and those especially which are dishonourable to Christ, and injurious to his character. And if this sentiment now under consideration, concerning the sonship of the Redeemer, should spread and prevail now, this would be no evidence in favour of it; but, considering what has been now observed, concerning it, would it not give reason to suspect, at least, that it is dishonourable to the Son of God, and leads to other errors yet more dishonourable to him?

This leads to observe,

2. It is worthy of consideration, whether this doctrine of the filiation of Jesus Christ, does not tend to reject the doctrine of the Trinity, as it has been held by those who have been called the orthodox in the christian church, and leads to what is called Sabellianism; which considers the Deity as but one person, and to be three only out of respect to the different manner or kind of his operations.

This notion of the sonship of Christ, leads to suppose that the Deity is the Father of the Mediator, without 378distinction of persons; and that by Father so often mentioned in the New Testament, and generally in relation to the Son, is commonly, if not always, meant Deity, without distinction of persons. If this be so, it tends to exclude all distinction of persons in God, and to make the personality of the Redeemer to consist wholly in the human nature; and finally, to make his union with Deity no more, but the same which Arians and Socinians admit, viz. the same which takes place between God and good men in general; but in a higher and peculiar degree.

But if there be no tendency in this doctrine of the sonship of Christ, to the consequences which have been now mentioned; and it can be made evident that none of those supposed evils do attend it, or can follow from it; yet it remains to be considered what advantage attends it, and the good ends it will answer, if it were admitted to be true. None will say, it is presumed, that it is more agreeable to the general expressions of scripture relating to this point, than the opposite doctrine; who well considers what has been observed above. The most that any one can with justice say with respect to this is, that the scripture may be so construed and understood, as to be consistent with the sonship of Christ, commencing at the incarnation, however inconsistent with it some passages may appear at first view.

It may be thought, perhaps, that this notion of the sonship of the Redeemer is attended with two advantages, if not with more, viz. It frees the doctrine of the Trinity from that which is perfectly incomprehensible, and appears a real contradiction and absurdity; that the second person should be Son of the first, who is the Father; the Son being begotten by the Father from eternity; than which nothing can be more inconceivable, and seemingly absurd. And this appears inconsistent with the second person being equal with the first; for a son begotten of a father, implies inferiority, and that he exists after his father, and consequently begins to exist, and is dependent. Both these difficulties are wholly avoided, it is thought, by supposing that the second person in the Trinity became a son by being united to the human nature, and begotten in the womb of the virgin. 379 And it is probable that these supposed advantages have recommended this scheme of the sonship of Christ, to those who embrace it, and led them to reject the commonly received opinion; and not a previous conviction that the former is most agreeable to the scripture. This therefore demands our serious and candid attention. And the following things may be observed upon it.

1. If we exclude every thing from our creed, concerning God, his existence, and the manner of his existence, which to us is incomprehensible and unaccountable, we must reject the doctrine of the Trinity in unity, and even of the existence of a God. The doctrine of three persons in one God is wholly inconceivable by us, and Unitarians consider it as the greatest contradiction and absurdity imaginable. And those Trinitarians, who have undertaken to explain it, and make it more intelligible, have generally failed of giving any light; but have really made it absurd and even ridiculous, by “darkening counsel by words without knowledge.” If we reasoned properly on the matter, we should expect to find in a revelation which God has made of himself, his being and manner of subsistence, mysteries which we can by no means understand, which are to creatures wonderful, and wholly unaccountable. For the being of God, and the manner of his existence, and of his subsisting, must be infinitely above our comprehension: God is infinitely great, and we know him not. And if we attempt to search out these mysteries by reason, we are prone to think they are contradictions and absurdities, merely because our reason cannot fathom them; and they appear more unintelligible, the more we try to understand them. “Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection? It is as high as heaven, what canst thou do? Deeper than hell, what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.”395395   Job ii. 7, 8, 9. “Teach us what we shall say unto him, (and what we shall say concerning him;) for we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness. Shall it be told him that I speak?” and attempt to comprehend and explain the mysteries that relate to his existence? “If a man speaks 380surely he shall be swallowed up.”396396   Job xxxvii. 19, 20. If a man undertake thus to speak, instead of giving any light, he will be involved and overwhelmed in impenetrable darkness.

They, therefore, who do not believe the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ, because it is mysterious and incomprehensible, and to some it appears to be full of contradiction, will, if they be consistent with themselves, for the same reason, reject the doctrine of a Trinity of persons in one God.397397   It has been observed, p. 377, that the denial of the eternal sonship of Christ seemed to have a tendency to a rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity; and in what way. But what is here observed, shews how the denial of the former tends, another way, to the rejection of the latter. For if the former be rejected, because it is incomprehensible, and appears inconsistent, it may be expected that when the doctrine of the Trinity is more particularly considered, it will appear equally unintelligible; and therefore be rejected, for the same reason. Is it not probable, that Sabellius, the ancient Antitrinitarian, was in this way led to give up the doctrine of the Trinity?

2. If the doctrine of the eternal generation and sonship of the second person in the Trinity be soberly and modestly considered in the light of the foregoing observation, and with a proper sense of our own darkness and infinite inferiority to the divine Being, and how little we can know of him; we shall not be forward to pronounce it inconsistent with reason, and absurd; but be convinced, that to do thus, is very bold and assuming; and that it may be consistent and true, notwithstanding any thing we may know; though it be mysterious and incomprehensible. This is a divine generation, infinitely above any thing that takes place among creatures, and infinitely different. It is that of which we can have no adequate idea, and is infinitely out of our reach. What incompetent judges are we then of this matter? What right or ability have we to pronounce it absurd or inconsistent, when we have no capacity to know or determine what is true, consistent, or inconsistent in this high point, any farther than God has been pleased to reveal it to us? There may be innumerable mysteries in the existence and manner of subsistence of the infinite Being, which are, and must be, incomprehensible, by a finite understanding. God has been pleased, for wise ends, to reveal that of the Trinity, and this of the eternal generation 381and sonship of the second person: And he has done it in a manner, and in words best suited to convey those ideas of it to men, which it is necessary they should have: And we ought to receive it with meekness and implicit submission, using our reason in excluding every thing which is contrary to, or below infinite perfection, and absolute independence; without pretending to comprehend it, or to be able to judge of that which is infinitely high and divine, by that which takes place among creatures, with respect to generation, and father and son.

God is said in scripture, to repent and be grieved at his heart; to be angry, and to have his fury to come up in his face; and hands, feet, eyes, mouth, lips and tongue, &c. are ascribed to him. These words are designed and suited to convey useful ideas, and important instruction to men. But if we should understand these expressions as meaning the same thing in the Divine Being, that they do when applied to men; we must entertain very unworthy, and most absurd notions of God, and wholly inconsistent with other declarations in the sacred Oracles. But if we exclude every thing that is human, or that implies any change or imperfection from these expressions when applied to the Deity, they will convey nothing absurd or inconsistent, or that is unworthy of God. And it will doubtless be equally so in the case before us; if it be constantly kept in mind that the only begotten Son of God denotes nothing human, but is infinitely above any thing which relates to natural, or creature generation, and does not include any beginning, change, dependence, inferiority, or imperfection. This will effectually exclude all real absurdity and contradiction.

It will be asked, perhaps, when all this is excluded from our ideas of generation, of Father and Son, what idea will remain in our minds, which is conveyed by these words? Will they not be without any signification to us, and altogether useless? To this, the following answer may be given: From what is revealed concerning this high and incomprehensible mystery, we learn, that in the existence of the Deity, there is that which is high above our thoughts, as the heavens are above the 382earth, infinitely beyond our conception, and different from any thing which takes place among creatures, which is a foundation of a personal distinction, as real and great as that between father and son among men, and infinitely more perfect: Which distinction may be in the best manner conveyed to us by Father and Son, to express the most perfect union and equality; that the Son is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person, and that there is infinite love and endearment between them; and that in the economy of the work of redemption, the Son is obedient to the Father, Sec. All this, and much more, our minds are capable of conceiving from what is revealed on this high and important subject; which is suited to impress our hearts with a sense of the incomprehensible, infinite, adorable perfection and glory of the Father and the Son; and is necessary in order to give us a right understanding of the gospel; of the true character of the Redeemer, and of the work of redemption.

What has been now said under this second particular, may serve to remove the other supposed difficulty in admitting the eternal filiation of the second person in the Trinity, viz. that it represents the Son as inferior to the Father, and as existing after him, and therefore his existence had a beginning. This is obviated by the above observations; and particularly by this, that it is a divine filiation, and therefore infinitely unlike that which is human; and above our comprehension. Besides, to suppose eternal generation admits of before or after, or of a beginning, is inconsistent. It may be further observed,

3. That the opinion that Jesus Christ is the first and only begotten Son of God, by the second person in the Trinity becoming incarnate, and united to the human nature, is, perhaps, attended with as great difficulties as the other which has been considered, if not greater. If so, the inducement to embrace it, and reject the other, which we are examining, wholly ceases.

If the Son was begotten by the miraculous formation of the human nature; then the Holy Ghost begot the Son and is the Father, as much as the first person in the Trinity. For the angel said to the virgin, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest 383shall overshadow thee: Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.” If we take these words as referring only to the production of the human nature, and if it be granted that by die highest, is meant the first person in the Trinity, of which there does not appear to be any evidence, yet the third person, the Holy Ghost, is represented as doing as much, and being as active in this production as the first person. But if this were no difficulty, and the first person of the Trinity be supposed to produce the human nature, and in this sense to be the Father of Jesus Christ; yet this will make him his Father in no other and higher sense than he is the Father of angels, and of Adam; and Jesus Christ will be the Son of God in no other, or higher sense than they; for they were created and formed in an extraordinary, miraculous way.

If the Son was begotten by uniting the second person of the Trinity with the human nature, and the filiation of the Son is supposed to consist wholly in being thus united to man; this is attended with the following difficulties, as great, perhaps, if not greater, than those which attend the eternal Sonship of the second person.

1. This is as different in nature and kind from natural or creature generation, as eternal divine generation; and the one bears no analogy or likeness to the other.

2. This union of God with the creature so as to become one person, is as mysterious and incomprehensible, as the eternal Sonship of the second person of the Trinity; and as inexplicable: So that nothing is gained with respect to this, by embracing this scheme.

3. It is not agreeable to scripture to suppose that the first person of the Trinity only, united the second person to the human nature, and so became a Father by thus begetting a Son. The third person, the Holy Ghost, is represented as doing this, or at least, being active in it; and there is nothing expressly said of the first person doing any thing respecting it as such. “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: Therefore also, that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.” “Now the birth of Jesus 384Christ was on this wise. When his mother, Mary, was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” And the angel of the Lord said unto Joseph, “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: For that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.”398398   Matt. i. 18, 20. And this uniting the divine nature with the human, is expressly ascribed, not to the first, but to the second person. “For as much as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.”399399   Heb. ii. 14, 16. Do not they speak not only without scripture, but contrary to it, who say that the first person of the Trinity became a Father by uniting the second person to the human nature, in the womb of the virgin Mary; by which the latter became the only begotten Son of the Father? That the relation of Father and Son began in the incarnation of Christ, and consists wholly in this? And do they by this supposition avoid any difficulty, and render the filiation of the Redeemer more consistent, intelligible, or honourable to him? Let the thoughtful, candid, discerning reader judge.

IV. The Redeemer of man, who is God-man, the Son of God, sustains the character of Mediator between God and man. That such a person only is equal to this, to mediate between God and rebellious man, so as to effect a reconciliation, will be made evident when we proceed more particularly to consider the work of redemption, what is implied in it, and what was necessary in order to effect it. And it will also appear that he is every way qualified to sustain such an office and station, and in the best manner complete the arduous, the glorious work; and the character of this infinitely high, important, and wonderful personage will be more fully investigated and displayed in the sequel.

IMPROVEMENT.

1. By attending as above, to the person and character of the Redeemer, we are in some measure prepared to see the folly of that pride which has led many 385 to reject every thing in divine revelation which does not comport with their boasted reason, and is to them, dark and unintelligible; and to be sensible of the reasonableness and importance of modesty, humility and self diffidence; while we think and inquire concerning the being and character of God, and the Son of God, the Redeemer. Many by this pride, and trusting to what they call their own reason, have been led to renounce divine revelation, the only light and sure guide, in the high and important business of religion; and have plunged themselves into darkness and delusion. And others, though they profess to believe the Bible to be a revelation from God, reject the most essential and peculiar doctrines contained in it, on the account of which, men principally stand in need of a revelation from heaven.

When we are once convinced, by undeniable, clear and abundant evidence, that the Bible contains a revelation from God; if we make a right use of our reason, we shall expect to find in it, declarations concerning God, his character and works, which are beyond our comprehension, and in this respect perfect mysteries to us; and that we shall not, at first, understand many things; yea, they may appear inconsistent and contradictory to us, which afterwards, by farther study and increase in the knowledge of divine things, we may understand, and see them to be plain and perfectly consistent. The things of God, or heavenly things, are so infinitely high, great and wonderful, that the greatest created, finite mind, falls infinitely short of fully comprehending all or any of them. The angels do not perfectly understand them. They may make swift advances in the knowledge of them, without end, and yet will forever fall infinitely short of reaching to their infinite height, so as to comprehend all. How ignorant and short sighted, then, must man be in those things, who not only has less natural capacity, but is sunk down in that moral depravity which is blindness itself, with respect to the things of the Spirit of God, and carries in the nature of it strong prejudices against them. How unreasonable, how arrogant, is it in him to imagine, that 386he can, by his own scanty, corrupted discerning, at once understand, and fully comprehend, all he needs to know and believe concerning God and heavenly things! Such a conceit, such pride and arrogance, can take place no where, but among such fallen, apostate creatures as mankind are; and serves to verify the ancient declaration, “Vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt.”400400    Job xi. 12.

If a philosopher should undertake to teach children of eight or ten years old, a system of philosophy, would he think himself well treated by them, if they were disposed to call in question the truth of every proposition of his, which they did not directly understand; and immediately conclude that every thing he delivered to them for truth, was inconsistent and absurd, which they were not able to reconcile? So long as they were of this disposition, they could receive no instruction from him. They would find many things perfectly dark and unintelligible to them, and others would appear to their narrow, childish conceptions, inconsistent and impossible. But the objects of natural philosophy are not so much above the understanding and capacity of these children, as heavenly things are above the understanding of men. There is an infinite difference; especially if we take into the account, man’s moral depravity, which blinds him to the things of the Spirit of God.

There are many things in natural philosophy, which men of the greatest capacities, and who have attended most to them, and made them their chief study, cannot understand; but remain unintelligible mysteries: Yea, there are propositions which appear to be inconsistent, and yet both of them must be received as true. For instance, it can be demonstrated that matter is infinitely divisible: And that matter is finite, is equally demonstrable; which two demonstrable propositions appear to be perfectly inconsistent.

And shall we, to whom earthly things are, in so many instances, unintelligible, and appear inconsistent, imagine, that when God speaks to us of heavenly things, things infinitely great, high and wonderful, we are able to comprehend them all; and are warranted to reject every thing as not true, and not revealed to us by him, 387which we do not understand, or are not able to reconcile with each other!

Let us rather become fools, that we may be wise. Sensible of our ignorance, and proneness to imbibe error, to love darkness rather than light; and put light for darkness, and darkness for light, let us study the Bible with a modest diffidence in our own reason and wisdom, and implicit confidence in our divine Instructor, looking to him to open our eyes to understand the scriptures, and behold the wonderful things revealed in those sacred oracles. “The meek will he guide in judgment; the meek will he teach his way.”401401   Psalm xxv. 9.

II. This subject brings into view the infinite fulness and sufficiency of God. A fulness equal to the wants of sinners, and suited to relieve and save them. In order to this, he must be not only infinitely powerful, wise and good; but subsist in a manner, of which we could know nothing, had he not revealed it, viz. a Trinity in unity. And when revealed, it is infinitely above our comprehension. And if it were not so, we should have no reason to believe this was the true God: For the true God must be incomprehensible both in his existence and manner of subsistence. Had there not been a God subsisting in three persons, so distinct as to covenant with each other, and act a separate and distinct part in the work of redemption, man could not have been redeemed, and there could have been no Redeemer. They, therefore, who disbelieve the doctrine of the Trinity, and that the Redeemer is the second person in the Triune God, do really, though ignorantly, exclude the possibility of the redemption of man, and of a Redeemer equal to such a work; which will appear as we proceed in our inquiry into the work of redemption.

But let us believe this revealed mystery, God the Son, manifest in the flesh, and adore, and rejoice in the infinite fulness and sufficiency of God, which appears in the person and character of the Redeemer, for the redemption of sinners: which fulness and sufficiency never could have been known to men or angels, had it 388not been revealed, and the redemption of man had not taken place.

III. We are led by this subject, with wonder, gratitude and joy, to contemplate the ability and sufficiency of Jesus Christ to redeem sinners; and see that he is just such a Saviour as we need.

Were he not a person of infinite greatness, dignity and worthiness, were he not God, his sufferings and obedience would have been of no avail to make atonement for the sins of men; to procure pardon, and merit eternal life for us. And were he not man, he could neither suffer nor obey. But being both these, he was equal to this. “Such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.”402402   Heb. vii. 26. And were he not almighty, infinitely wise and good, he would not be able and willing to rescue sinners from the power of sin and satan, and completely sanctify them, and make them meet for the inheritance in heaven. But being all this, he is a complete Redeemer: “For it hath pleased the Father that in him all fulness should dwell. Who is made of God, unto his people, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and complete redemption.”403403   1 Cor. i. 30. Col. i. 19. And all the redeemed must know and say, “Surely in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: In the Lord Jesus Christ shall the seed of Israel he justified and shall glory.”404404   Isa. xlv. 24, 25.

They who know their own state and character, as sinners, being wholly lost in sin, infinitely guilty and miserable; and believe in Christ, see all this in some degree. To such Christ is all-sufficient, most honourable and precious. But to them who are ignorant of themselves; the nature and ill desert of sin, and their own guilt and misery, who are unbelieving and disobedient, Jesus Christ, considered in his true character, is “a stone of stumbling, and rock of offence.”405405    1 Pet. ii. 7, 8.

His sufficiency also includes his inexhaustible, unbounded fulness, as the glorious object of knowledge, contemplation and love, and of enjoyment and happiness. The redeemed will attend forever to their Redeemer, who is infinite, and whose person and character 389are full of wonders, with ever fresh and increasing delight. They will spring forward, in the full employ and strongest exertion of all their powers, and make swift progress in the knowledge of their Saviour, and in holiness and happiness, without ever coming to an end. Whatever wonders and glories they may have seen, and however high their love and happiness may be at any supposed future period, the Redeemer may with truth say to them as he did to Nathaniel, “Ye shall see greater things than these.” St. Paul entered upon this endless, progressive and happifying knowledge of Christ, when he commenced a christian, and was admitted into the school of his Lord and Master; which he expresses in the following words. “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord: That I may know him,” &c.

IV. The view we have now had of the person and character of the Redeemer is suited to enlarge our ideas, and excite a sense of the infinite, wonderful condescension and love exercised and manifested in the work of redemption. The love of the Father is expressed in giving his only begotten, dear Son, to descend to such a low state of humiliation, of poverty, disgrace, and sufferings; even unto a most cruel death, to redeem man. And as this his own Son was equal to himself, and infinitely dear to him, the degree of love and goodness expressed in giving him up to redeem man, by suffering the curse under which he had fallen, must be infinite, and the greatest possible instance and exercise of disinterested benevolence, that can be conceived, or that ever did or can take place. And the more the greatness and dignity of the Son of God is known, and how dear he is to the Father, the greater will his sufferings appear to be, and the higher and more affecting will be the view and sense of the goodness of the Father, in giving up his Son to such sufferings. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” Herein is love!

And the condescension and love of Christ in his humiliation and sufferings for the redemption of men, appear 390in the most affecting and striking light, when we take into view his greatness and dignity, and the infinite height from which he descended, to such an amazing scene of debasement, ignominy and sufferings: And the more our ideas are enlarged in the view of the former, the greater sense shall we have of the latter. Hence it follows, that as his greatness, dignity and excellence are infinite, there is a foundation for increasing, endless views and admiration of “The love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.”

V. By considering the person of the Redeemer we are led to infer the height to which the redeemed are raised, the great honour which is conferred upon them, by their union to him. In the personal union of the human nature to the Son of God, the greatest honour is put upon it; and they who are united to this person as the redeemed are, rise to a degree of honour and exaltation, far above the angels, and unspeakably beyond all our present conceptions. They are the bride, the Lamb’s wife, and share in all his honours and riches. They are “Raised up together with him, and made to sit together in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.”406406    Eph. ii. 6. In his exaltation, they are exalted, as members of his body, of which he is the head; and shall sit with him, on his high throne, and reign with him forever. This honour have all the saints.

VI. We may hence see the warrant we have to worship and pray to Jesus Christ, and call upon his name. We have seen that he is worshipped by all the inhabitants of heaven; that the apostles and primitive christians prayed to him, and called on his name: And there is the same reason why his people should do so in all ages, and at all times. He is God manifest in the flesh, Immanuel, God in our nature. He has all power in heaven and on earth; and is head over all things to the church. He can do all things for us that we want; why should we not ask him for what we want, and constantly pray to him, acknowledging our absolute dependence on him, and his sufficiency and ability to do all for us? And is not a neglect to do this putting a slight upon him?

391

It will be asked, perhaps, whether this be not expressly forbidden by Christ, when he says, “In that day ye shall ask me nothing: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.”407407    John xvi. 28.

Ans. When he says, “In that day ye shall ask me nothing,” the word in the original is commonly used for asking questions. And not to make a petition. The disciples had been asking him a number of questions for their information about things which they did not understand. Christ tells them in these words, that after his ascension they should have no opportunity or occasion to ask him any questions; for they should then have sufficient knowledge by the holy Spirit teaching them ail things they should have need to know. When he says, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father,” he uses another word for asking, which always signifies to make a petition.

But from these last words there arises another question. Here Christ directs to ask the Father in his name. Is not this an implicit prohibition to ask any thing of him directly?

Ans. This cannot be understood as a prohibition to pray to Jesus Christ, and call on his name, because the apostles and primitive christians did this, as has been shown. And perhaps, if the matter be properly considered, it will appear that praying directly to Jesus Christ, and asking him, is asking in his name, and asking the Father, as really, though not expressly, as when we ask the Father directly, in the name of Christ. Jesus Christ says, “I and my Father are one. What things soever the Father doth, these also doth the Son likewise.”408408   John v. 19. x. 30. He hath, and exerciseth all the power that is in heaven and earth. It hath pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell in him. And the Father says to wretched man, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.” Whatever you want, go to him for relief and a supply; as Pharaoh said to the starving people, “Go to Joseph.” He then, who goes to Christ and asks the things which he wants of him, does really and in truth go to the Father, and asks of him, as he is the appointed governor and 392steward, and has all things in his hands. “The Father loveth the Son, and hath delivered all things into his hand. All things that the Father hath, are mine.”409409   John iii. 35. xvi. 19. As the people by applying to Joseph, with whom all the authority and supplies u ere lodged, did really apply to Pharaoh; so they who apply to Christ and ask him, do really apply to the Father through him, and ask of the Father as really as if they expressly applied to him: For he and the Father are one, and what he does, the Father doth, and what the Father doth, the same doth the Son likewise. Therefore what our Saviour says in one passage the Father will do; in another he says, he himself will do the same. In the text under consideration he says, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” At another time he said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.” If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”410410   John xiv. 13, 14. And we ask the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, when we go to Christ, and ask him; for in this way we approach to the Father, through him. We ask in the name of Christ, when we go immediately to Jesus Christ, and through him as a medium to the Father, as really and as much as if we apply expressly to the Father, and ask expressly in the name of Christ: For to ask in the name of Christ, is to rely on the atonement he has made, and on his merit and righteousness for the favour we ask. And this may be done when we apply immediately to Christ, as really and as much as if we apply expressly to the Father in his name.

VII. This subject is suited to excite in our minds a conviction, and impress a sense of the amazing, infinite crime and folly of slighting and rejecting the Redeemer of men. The crime of this is great in proportion to the greatness, worthiness and excellence of this person, and his amazing condescension and goodness exercised and manifested in what he has done and suffered for man.

And the folly of it is great, in proportion to the greatness of the evil from which he offers to deliver us; and of the good and happiness which he has obtained for man and invites him to accept, both of which are infinite. 393 How unspeakably great then must be this wickedness and folly! They are to us as incomprehensible in their magnitude, as are the person and works of the Redeemer; they are truly boundless and infinite! They are attended with innumerable other aggravations, which far exceed our thought. How much more guilty are they who reject and cast contempt upon Christ, than they could have been, had there been no such person, no such Redeemer! And their endless punishment who persist in slighting him and neglecting this salvation, and die impenitent, will be inconceivably greater. They slight, they reject and despise God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and declare themselves to be irreconcileable enemies to him, while he is offering to be reconciled to them, to pardon their multiplied and infinitely aggravated offences, and bestow on them eternal life, in consequence of the Redeemer’s undertaking in behalf of man, and obeying, and suffering unto death, for them. This serves to discover the universality, the exceeding greatness, and the malignity of the moral depravity of man. Jews and Gentiles acted this out, in the horrid action, never to be forgotten, in condemning and crucifying the Son of God, the Redeemer, when he was in their reach and power. And every man and woman who have lived since, and had opportunity to know the person and character of the Redeemer, have been guilty of the same crime, in a greater or less degree; as we have all slighted and abused him more or less; and so have, in this way, in some measure at least, joined with them who put him to death.


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