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The aim and design of our catechist in this chapter being to despoil our blessed Lord Jesus Christ of his eternal deity, and to substitute an imaginary Godhead, made and feigned in the vain hearts of himself and his masters, into the room thereof, I hope the discovery of the wickedness and vanity of his attempt will not be unacceptable to them who love him in sincerity. I must still desire the reader not to expect the handling of the doctrine of the deity of Christ at large, with the confirmation of it and vindication from the vain sophisms wherewith by others, as well as by Mr B., it hath been opposed. This is done abundantly by other hands. In the next chapter that also will have its proper place, in the vindication of many texts of Scripture from the exceptions of the Racovians. The removal of Mr B.’s sophistry, and the disentangling of weaker souls, who may in any thing be intricated by his queries, are my present intendment. To make our way dear and plain, that every one that runs may read the vanity of Mr B.’s undertaking against the Lord Jesus, and his kicking against the pricks therein, I desire to premise these few observations:—
1. Distinction of persons (it being an infinite substance) doth no way prove difference of essence between the Father and the Son. Where Christ, as mediator, is said to be another from the Father or God, spoken personally of the Father, it argues not in the least that he is not partaker of the same nature with him. That in one essence 171there can be but one person may be true where the substance is finite and limited, but hath no place in that which is infinite.
2. Distinction and inequality in respect of office in Christ doth not in the least take away equality and sameness with the Father in respect of nature and essence.258258 Τὴν ὑποτἀγὴν τῆς δουλικῆς μορφῆς ἀνειλνφὼς, ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ὑποτάσσεται τῷ ἑαυτοῦ πατρὶ, οὐ φύσει θεότητος, ἀλλ’ ἑνώσει μορφῆς δουλικῆς ἦν ἔλαβε. — Athanas. Dial. i. contra Maced. A son of the same nature with his father, and therein equal to him, may in office be his inferior, his subject.
3. The advancement and exaltation of Christ as mediator to any dignity whatever, upon or in reference to the work of our redemption and salvation, is not at all inconsistent with that essential ἀξία, honour, dignity, and worth, which he hath in himself as “God blessed for ever.” Though he humbled himself and was exalted, yet in nature he was one and the same, he changed not.
4. The Scripture’s asserting the humanity of Christ with the concernments thereof, as his birth, life, and death, doth no more thereby deny his deity, than, by asserting his deity, with the essential properties thereof, eternity, omniscience, and the like, it denies his humanity.
5. God’s working any thing in and by Christ, as he was mediator, denotes the Father’s sovereign appointment of the things mentioned to be done, not his immediate efficiency in the doing of the things themselves.
The consideration of these few things, being added to what I have said before in general about the way of dealing with our adversaries in these great and weighty things of the knowledge of God, will easily deliver us from any great trouble in the examination of Mr B.’s arguments and insinuations against the deity of Christ; which is the business of the present chapter.
His first question is, “How many Lords of Christians are there, by way of distinction from that one God?” and he answers, Eph. iv. 5, “One Lord.”
That of these two words there is not one that looks towards the confirmation of what Mr B. chiefly aims at in the question proposed, is, I presume, sufficiently clear in the light of the thing itself inquired after. Christ, it is true, is the one Lord of Christians; and therefore God, equal with the Father. He is also one Lord in distinction from his Father, as his Father, in respect of his personality, in which regard them are three that bear record in heaven, of which he is one; but in respect of essence and nature “he and his Father are one.” Farther; unless he were one God with his Father, it is utterly impossible he should be the one Lord of Christians. That he cannot be our Lord in the sense intended, whom we ought to invocate and worship, unless also he were our God, shall be afterward declared. 172And although he be our Lord in distinction from his Father, as he is also our mediator, yet he is “the same God” with him “which worketh all in all,” 1 Cor. xii. 6. His being Lord, then, distinctly in respect of his mediation hinders not his being God in respect of his participation in the same nature with his Father. And though here he be not spoken of in respect of his absolute, sovereign lordship, but of his lordship over the church, to whom the whole church is spiritually subject (as he is elsewhere also so called on the same account, as John xiii. 13; Acts vii. 59; Rev. xxii. 20), yet were he not Lord in that sense also, he could not be so in this. The Lord our God only is to be worshipped. “My Lord and my God,” says Thomas. And the mention of “one God” is here, as in other places, partly to deprive all false gods of their pretended deity, partly to witness against the impossibility of polytheism, and partly to manifest the oneness of them who are worshipped as God the Father, Word, and Spirit: all which things are also severally testified unto.
His second question is an inquiry after this Lord, who he is, in these words, “Who is that one Lord?” and the answer is from 1 Cor. viii. 6, “Jesus Christ, by whom are all things.” The close of this second answer might have caused Mr B. a little to recoil upon his insinuation in the first, concerning the distinction of this “one Lord” from that “one God,” in the sense by him insisted on. Who is he “by whom are all things” (in the same sense as they are said to be “of” the Father)? who is that but God? “He that made all things is God,” Heb. iii. 4. And it is manifest that he himself was not made by whom all things were made: for he made not himself, nor could so do, unless he were both before and aider himself; nor was he made without his own concurrence by another, for by himself are all things. Thus Mr B. hath no sooner opened his mouth to speak against the Lord Jesus Christ, but, by the just judgment of God, he stops it himself with a testimony of God against himself, which he shall never be able to rise up against unto eternity.
And it is a manifest perverting and corrupting of the text which we have in Grotius’ gloss upon the place, who interprets the τὰ πάντα referred to the Father of all things simply, but the τὰ πάντα referred to Christ of the things only of the new creation,259259 Grot. Annot. in 1 Cor. viii. 6. there being not the least colour for any such variation, the frame and structure of the words requiring them to be expounded uniformly throughout: “But to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” “The last expression, ‘And we by him,’ relates to the new creation; ‘All things,’ to the first.” But Grotius follows Enjedinus in this as well as other things.260260 Enjedin. Explicat. loc. Vet. et Nov. Testam. in locum.
173His inquiry in the next place is after the birth of Jesus Christ; in answer whereunto the story is reported from Matthew and Luke: which relating to his human nature, and no otherwise to the person of the Son of God but as he was therein “made flesh,” or assumed the “holy thing” so born of the Virgin, Luke i. 35, into personal subsistence with himself, I shall let pass with annexing unto it the observation before mentioned, namely, that what is affirmed of the human nature of Christ doth not at all prejudice that nature of his in respect whereof he is said to be “in the beginning with God,” and to be “God,” and with reference whereunto himself said, “Before Abraham was I am,” John i. 1, 2, viii. 58; Prov. viii. 22, etc. God “possessed him in the beginning of his way,” being then his “only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth.” Mr B. indeed hath small hopes of despoiling Christ of his eternal glory by his queries, if they spend themselves in such fruitless sophistry as this:— “Q. 4. How came Jesus Christ to be Lord according to the opinion of the apostle Paul?” The answer is, Rom. xiv. 9. “Q. 5. What saith the apostle Peter also concerning the time and manner of his being made Lord? — A. Acts ii. 32, 33, 36.”
Ans. 1. That Jesus Christ as mediator, and in respect of the work of redemption and salvation of the church to him committed, was made Lord by the appointment, authority, and designation of his Father, we do not say was the opinion of Paul, but is such a divine truth as we have the plentiful testimony of the Holy Ghost unto. He was no less made a Lord than a Priest and Prophet, of his Father. But that the eternal lordship of Christ, as he is one with his Father, “God blessed for ever,” Rom. ix. 5, is any way denied by the asserting of this lordship given him of his Father as mediator, Mr B. wholly begs of men to apprehend and grant, but doth not once attempt from the Scripture to manifest or prove. The sum of what Mr B. intends to argue hence is: Christ “submitting himself to the form and work of a servant unto the Father, was exalted by him, and had ‘a name given him above every name;’ therefore he was not the Son of God and equal to him.” That his condescension unto office is inconsistent with his divine essence is yet to be proved. But may we not beg of our catechist, at his leisure, to look a little farther into the chapter from whence he takes his first testimony concerning the exaltation of Christ to be Lord? perhaps it may be worth his while. As another argument to that of the dominion and lordship of Christ, to persuade believers to a mutual forbearance as to judging of one another, he adds, verse 10, “We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.” And this, verse 11, the apostle proves from that testimony of the prophet Isaiah, chap. xlv. 23, as he renders the sense of the Holy Ghost, “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 174So that Jesus Christ our Lord is that Jehovah, that God, to whom all subjection is due, and in particular that of standing before his judgment-seat. But this is overlooked by Grotius, and not answered to any purpose by Enjedinus, and why should Mr B. trouble himself with it?
2. For the time assigned by him of his being made Lord, specified by the apostle, it doth not denote his first investiture with that office and power, but the solemn admission into the glorious execution of that lordly power which was given him as mediator. At his incarnation and birth, God affirms by the angel that he was then “Christ the Lord,” Luke ii. 11. And when “he brought his first-begotten into the world, the angels were commanded to worship him;” which if he were not a Lord, I suppose Mr B. will not say they could have done. Yea, and as he was both believed in and worshipped before his death and resurrection, John ix. 38, xiv. 1, which is to be performed only to the Lord our God, Matt. iv. 10, so he actually in some measure exercised his lordship towards and over angels, men, devils, and the residue of the creation, as is known from the very story of the Gospel, not denying himself to be a king, yea, witnessing thereunto when he was to be put to death, Luke xxiii. 3, John xviii. 37, as he was from his first showing unto men, chap. i. 49.
“Q. 6. Did not Jesus Christ approve himself to be God by his miracles; and did he not those miracles by a divine nature of his own, and because he was God himself? What is the determination of the apostle Peter in this behalf? — A. Acts ii. 22, x. 38.”
The intendment of Mr B. in this question, as is evident by his inserting of these words in a different character, “By a divine nature of his own, and because he was God himself,” is to disprove or insinuate an answer unto the argument taken from the miracles that Christ did to confirm his deity. The naked working of miracles, I confess, without the influence of such other considerations as this argument is attended withal in relation to Jesus Christ, will not alone of itself assert a divine nature in him who is the instrument of their working or production. Though they are from divine power, or they are not miracles, yet it is not necessary that he by whom they are wrought should be possessor of that divine power, as “by whom” may denote the instrumental and not the principal cause of them. But for the miracles wrought by Jesus Christ, as God is said to do them “by him,” because he appointed him to do them, as he designed him to his offices, and thereby gave testimony to the truth of the doctrine he preached from his bosom as also because he was “with him,” not in respect of power and virtue, but as the Father in the Son, John x. 38; so he working these miracles by his own power and at his own will, even as his Father doth, chap. v. 21, and himself giving power and authority to others to work miracles by his 175strength and in his name, Matt. x. 8, Mark xvi. 17, 18, Luke x. 19, there is that eminent evidence of his deity in his working of miracles as Mr B. can by no means darken or obscure by pointing to that which is of a clear consistency therewithal, — as is his Father’s appointment of him to do them, whereby he is said to do them “in his name,” etc., as in the place cited, of which afterward. Acts ii. 22, the intendment of Peter is, to prove that he was the Messiah of whom he spake; and therefore he calls him “Jesus of Nazareth,” as pointing out the man whom they knew by that name, and whom, seven or eight weeks before, they had crucified and rejected. That this man was “approved of God,”261261 Ἀποδεδειγμένον i.e., οἷον μὴ ἀμφισβητούμενον ἀλλ ἀποδεδειγμένον διὰ τῶν ἔργων ὧν ἐποίησε δἰ αὐτοῦ ὁ Θεὸς ὅτι ἀπὸ Θεοῦ ἧν. — Græc. Schol. he convinces them from the miracles which God wrought by him; which was enough for his present purpose. Of the other place there is another reason; for though Grotius expounds these words, Ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς ἦν μετ αὐτοῦ, “For God was with him,” “God always loved him, and always heard him, according to Matt. iii. 17” (where yet there is a peculiar testimony given to the divine sonship of Jesus Christ) “and John xi. 42,” yet the words of our Saviour himself about the same business give us another interpretation and sense of them. This, I say, he does, John x. 37, 38, “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.” In the doing of these works, the Father was so with him as that he was in him, and he in the Father; not only ἐνεργητικῶς, but by that divine indwelling which oneness of nature gives to Father and Son.
His seventh question is exceeding implicate and involved: a great deal is expressed that Mr B. would deny, but by what inference from the scriptures he produceth doth not at all appear. The words of it are, “Could not Christ do all things of himself; and was it not an eternal Son of God that took flesh upon him, and to whom the human nature of Christ was personally united, that wrought all these works? Answer me to these things in the words of the Son himself. — A. John v. 19, 20, 30, xiv. 10.”
The inference which alone appears from hence is of the same nature with them that are gone before. That Christ could not do all things of himself, that he was not the eternal Son of God, that he took not flesh, is that which is asserted; but the proof of all this doth disappear. Christ being accused by the Jews, and persecuted for healing a man on the Sabbath-day, and their rage being increased by his asserting his equality with the Father (of which afterward), John v. 17, 18, he lets them know that in the discharge of the office committed to him he did nothing but according to the will, commandment, and appointment, of his Father, with whom he is 176equal, and doth of his own will also the things that he doth; so that they had no more to plead against him for doing what he did than they had against him whom they acknowledged to be God: wherein he is so far from declining the assertion of his own deity (which that he maintained the Jews apprehended, affirming that he made himself equal with God, which none but God is or can be, for between God and that which is not God there is no proportion, much less equality) as that he farther confirms it, by affirming that he “doeth whatever the Father doeth, and that as the Father quickeneth whom he will, so he quickeneth whom he will.” That redoubled assertion, then, of Christ, that he can do nothing of himself, is to be applied to the matter under consideration. He had not done, nor could do, any work but such as his Father did also; it was impossible he should, not only because he would not (in which sense τὸ ἀβούλητον is one kind of those things which are impossible), but also because of the oneness in will, nature, and power, of himself and his Father, which he asserts in many particulars. Nor doth he temper his speech as one that would ascribe all the honour to the Father, and so remove the charge that he made a man equal to the Father, as Grotius vainly imagines;262262 “Semper ea quæ de se prædicare cogitur Christus, ita temperat ut onmem honorem referat ad Patrem, et removeat illud crimen, quasi hominem Patri æqualem faciat.” — Grot. Annot. in Johan. cap. v. 30. for although as man he acknowledges his subjection to the Father, yea, as mediator in the work he had in hand, and his subordination to him as the Son, receiving all things from him by divine and eternal communication, yet the action or work that gave occasion to that discourse being an action of his person, wherein he was God, he all along asserts his own equality therein with the Father, as shall afterward be more fully manifested.
So that though in regard of his divine personality as the Son he hath all things from the Father, being begotten by him, and as mediator doth all things by his appointment and in his name, yet he in himself is still one with the Father as to nature and essence, “God to be blessed for evermore.” And that it was “an eternal Son of God that took flesh upon him,” etc., hath Mr B. never read that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God,” that “the Word was made flesh;” that “God was manifested in the flesh;” and that “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law?” of which places afterward, in their vindication from the exceptions of his masters.
His eighth question is of the very same import with that going before, attempting to exclude Jesus Christ from the unity of essence with his Father, by his obedience to him, and his Father’s acceptation of him in the work of mediation; which being a most ridiculous 177begging of the thing in question, as to what he pretends in the query to be argumentative, I shall not farther insist upon it.
Q. 9. We are come to the head of this discourse, and of Mr B.’s design in this chapter, and, indeed, of the greatest design that he drives in religion, namely, the denial of the eternal deity of the Son of God; which not only in this place directly, but in sundry others covertly, he doth invade and oppose. His question is, “Doth the Scripture account Christ to be the Son of God because he was eternally begotten out of the divine essence, or for other reasons agreeing to him only as a man? Rehearse the passages to this purpose.” His answer is from Luke i. 31–35; John x. 36; Acts xiii. 32, 33; Rev. i. 5; Col. i. 18; Heb. i. 4, 5, v. 5; Rom. viii. 29; most of which places are expressly contrary to him in his design, as the progress of our discourse will discover.
This, I say, being the head of the difference between us in this chapter, after I have rectified one mistake in Mr B.’s question, I shall state the whole matter so as to obviate farther labour and trouble about sundry other ensuing queries. For Mr B.’s question, then, we say not that the Son is begotten eternally out of the divine essence, but in it, not by an eternal act of the Divine Being, but of the person of the Father; which being premised, I shall proceed.
The question that lies before us is, “Doth the Scripture account Christ to be the Son of God because he was eternally begotten out of the divine essence, or for other reasons agreeing to him only as a man? Rehearse the passages to this purpose.”
The reasons, as far as I can gather, which Mr B. lays at the bottom of this appellation, are, — 1. His birth of the Virgin, from Luke i. 30–35. 2. His mission, or sending into the world by the Father, John x. 36. 3. His resurrection with power, Acts xiii. 32, 33; Rev. i. 5; Col. i. 18. 4. His exaltation, Heb. v. 5; Rom. viii. 29.
For the removal of all this from prejudicing the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ there is an abundant sufficiency, arising from the consideration of this one argument: If Jesus Christ be called the “Son of God” antecedently to his incarnation, mission, resurrection, and exaltation, then there is a reason and cause of that appellation before and above all these considerations, and it cannot be on any of these accounts that he is called the “Son of God;” but that he is so called antecedently to all these, I shall afterward abundantly manifest. Yet a little farther process in this business, as to the particulars intimated, may not be unseasonable.
First, then, I shall propose the causes on the account whereof alone these men affirm that Jesus Christ is called the “Son of God.” Of these the first and chiefest they insist upon is his birth of the Virgin, — namely, that he was called the “Son of God” because he was conceived of the Holy Ghost. This our catechist in the first place proposes; 178and before him, his masters. So the Racovians, in answer to that question, “Is therefore the Lord Jesus a mere man?” answer, “By no means: for he was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin; and therefore from his birth and conception was the Son of God, as we read in Luke i. 35;”263263 “Ergo Dominus Jesus est purus homo? — Ans. Nullo pacto; etenim est conceptus a Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine, eoque ab ipsa conceptione et ortu Filius Dei est, ut de ea re Luc. i. 35 legimus.” — Cat. Rac. de persona Christi, cap. i. — the place insisted on by the gentleman we are dealing withal.
Of the same mind are the residue of their companions. So do Ostorodius and Voidovius give an account of their faith in their “Compendium,” as they call it, “of the Doctrine of the Christian Church flourishing now chiefly in Poland.” “They teach,” say they, “Jesus Christ to be that man that was conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin; besides and before whom they acknowledge no only-begotten Son of God truly existing. Moreover, they teach him to be God, and the only-begotten Son of God, by reason of his conception of the Holy Ghost,” etc.264264 “Jesum Christum docent esse hominem ilium a Spiritu Sancto conceptum, et natum ex beata Virgine; extra vel ante quem nullum agnoscunt esse (aut) fuisse re ipsa existentem unigenitum Dei Filium. Porto hunc Deum, et Filium Dei unigenitum esse docent tum ratione conceptionis a Spiritu Sancto,” etc. — Compendiolum Doctrinæ Eccl. Christianæ, etc., cap. i. Smalcius hath written a whole book of the true divinity of Jesus Christ; wherein he hath gathered together whatever excellencies they will allow to be ascribed unto him, making his deity to be the exurgency of them all. Therefore is he God, and the Son of God, because the things he there treats of are ascribed unto him! Among these, in his third chapter, which is “Of the conception and nativity of Jesus Christ,” he gives this principal account why he is called the “Son of God,” even from his conception and nativity. “He was,” saith he, “conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary; because of which manner of conception and nativity he was by the angel called the ‘Son of God,’ and so may really be called the ‘natural Son of God,’ because he was born such. Only, Jesus Christ was brought forth to light by God his Father without the help of man.”265265 “Conceptus enim est de Spiritu Sancto, et natus ex Virgine Maria; ob id genus conceptionis, et nativitatis modum, Filius etiam Dei ab ipso angelo vocatus fuit, et ita naturalis Dei Filius (quia scilicet falls natus fuit) dici vere potest. Solus Jesus Christus a Deo Patre suo absque opera viri in lumen productus est.” — Smalc. de Vera Divin. Jes. Christ. cap. iii.
The great master of the herd himself, from whom, indeed, the rest do glean and gather almost all that they take so much pains to scatter about the world, gives continually this reason of Christ’s being called the “Son of God” and his “natural Son.” “I say,” saith he, “that Christ is deservedly called the ‘natural Son of God,’ because he was born the Son of God, although he was not begotten of the substance of God. And that he was born the Son of God another 179way, and not by the generation of the substance of God, the words of the angel prove, Luke i. 35. Therefore, because that man, Jesus of Nazareth, who is called Christ, was begotten not by the help of any man, but by the operation of the Holy Spirit in the womb of his mother, he is therefore, or for that cause, called the ‘Son of God.’ ”266266 “Dico igitur, Christum merito dici posse Filium Dei naturalem, quia natus est Dei Filius, tametsi ex ipsa Dei substantia non fuerit generatus. Natum autem illum sub alia ratione, quam per generationem ex ipsius Dei substantia, probant angeli verba, Mariæ matri ejus dicta, Luc. i. 35.” — Faust. Socin. Responsio ad Weik. cap. iv. p. 202. So he against Weik the Jesuit. He is followed by Volkelius, lib. v. cap. xi. p. 468; whose book, indeed, is a mere casting into a kind of a method what was written by Socinus and others, scattered in sundry particulars, and whose method is pursued and improved by Episcopius. Jonas Schlichtingius, amongst them all, seems to do most of himself. I shall therefore add his testimony, to show their consent in the assignation of this cause of the appellation of the “Son of God,” ascribed to our blessed Saviour. “There are,” saith he, “many sayings of Scripture which show that Christ is in a peculiar manner, and on an account not common to any other, the Son of God; but yet we may not hence conclude that he is a Son on a natural account, when besides this, and that more common, another reason may be given which hath place in Christ. Is he not the Son of God on a singular account, and that which is common to no other, if of God himself, by the virtue and efficacy of the Holy Spirit, he was conceived and begotten in the womb of his mother?”267267 “Sunt quidem plurima dicta quaæ ostendunt Christum peculiari prorsus nec ulli alio communi ratione esse Dei Filium; non tamen hinc concludere licet eum ease naturali ratione filium, cum præter hanc, et illam communem, alia dari possit, et in Christo reipsa locum habeat. Nonne singulari prorsus ratione, nec ulli com-muni, Dei Filius est Christus, si ab ipso Deo, vi et efficacia Spiritus Sancti, in utero virginis conceptus fuit et genitus?” — Schlichting. ad Meisner. artic., de Trinit. p. 160.
And this is the only buckler which they have to keep off the sword of that argument for the deity of Christ, from his being the proper Son of God, from the throat and heart of that cause which they have undertaken. And yet how faintly they hold it is evident from the expressions of this most cunning and skillful of all their champions: “There may another reason be given, which is the general evasion of them all from any express testimony of Scripture. “The words may have another sense, therefore nothing from them can be concluded;” whereby they have left nothing stable or unshaken in Christian religion; and yet they wipe their mouths, and say they have done no evil.
But now, lest any one should say that they can see no reason why 180Christ should be called the “Son of God” because he was so conceived by the Holy Ghost, nor wherefore God should therefore in a peculiar manner, and more eminently than in respect of any other, be called the “Father of Christ,” to prevent any objection that on this hand might arise, Smalcius gives an account whence this is, and why God is called the “Father of Christ,” and what he did in his conception; which, for the abomination of it, I had rather you should hear in his words than in mine. In his answer to the second part of the refutation of Socinus by Smiglecius, cap. xvii., xviii., he contends to manifest and make good that Christ was the “Son of God according to the flesh,” in direct opposition to that of the apostle, “He was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God,” etc., Rom. i. 3, 4. He says then, cap. 18, p. 156, “Socinus affirmat Deum in generatione Christi vices patris supplevisse.” But how, I pray? Why, “Satis est ad ostendendum, Deum in generatione Christi vices viri supplevisse, si ostendatur Deum id ad Christi generationem adjecisse, quod in generatione hominis ex parte viri ad hominem producendum adjici solet.” But what is that, or how is that done? “Nos Dei virtutem in Virginis uterum aliquam substantiam creatam vel immisisse, aut ibi creasse affirmamus, ex qua juncto eo, quod ex ipsius Virginis substantia accessit, verus homo generatus fuit. Alias enim homo ille, Dei Filius a conceptione et nativitate proprie non fuisset,” cap. xvii. p. 150. Very good; unless this abominable figment may pass current, Christ was not the Son of God. Let the reader observe, by the way, that they cannot but acknowledge Christ to have been, and to have been called, the “Son of God” in a most peculiar manner. To avoid the evidence of the inference from thence, that therefore he is God, of the same substance with his Father, they have only this shift, to say he is called the “Son of God’ upon the account of that whereof there is not the least tittle nor word in the whole book of God, yea, which is expressly contrary to the testimony thereof; and unless this be granted, they affirm that Christ cannot be called the “Son of God.” But let us hear this great rabbi of Mr B.’s religion a little farther clearing up this mystery:— “Necessitas magna fuit, ut Christus ab initio vitæ suæ esset Deo Filius, qualis futurus non fuisset nisi Dei virtute aliquid creatum fuisset, quod ad constituendum Christi corpus, una cum Mariæ sanguine concurrit. Mansit autem nihilominus sanguis Mariæ Virginis purissimus, etiamsi cum alio aliquo semine commixtus fuit. Potuit enim tam purum, imo porius semen, a Deo creari, et proculdubio creatum fuit, quam erat sanguis Mariæ. Communis denique sensus et fides Christianorum omnium, quod Christus non ex virili semine conceptus sit; primum communis error censendus est, si sacris literis repuguet: Deinde id quod omnes sentiunt, facile cum ipsa veritate conciliari potest, ut 181scilicet semen illud, quod a Deo creatum, et cum semine Mariæ conjuncture fuit, dicatur non virile, quia non a viro profectum sit, vel ex viro in uterum Virginis translatum, ut quidam opinantur, qui semen Josephi translatum in Virginis uterum credunt,” cap. xviii., p. 158. And thus far are men arrived: Unless this horrible figment may be admitted, Christ is not the Son of God. He who is the “true God and eternal life” will one day plead the cause of his own glory against these men.
I insist somewhat the more on these things, that men may judge the better whether in all probability Mr B., in his “impartial search into the Scripture,” did not use the help of some of them that went before him in the discovery of the same things which he boasts himself to have found out.
And this is the first reason which our catechist hath taken from his masters to communicate to his scholars why Jesus Christ is called the “Son of God.” This he and they insist on exclusively to his eternal sonship, or being the Son of God in respect of his eternal generation of the substance of his Father.
The other causes which they assign why he is called the “Son of God” I shall very briefly point unto. By the way that hath been spoken of, they say he was the Son of God, the natural Son of God. But they say he was the Son of God before he was God. He grew afterward to be a God by degrees, as he had those graces and excellencies and that power given him wherein his Godhead doth consist. So that he was the Son of God, but not God (in their own sense) until a while after; and then when he was so made a God, he came thereby to be more the Son of God. But by this addition to his sonship he became the adopted Son of God; as, by being begotten, as was before revealed, he was the natural Son of God. Let us hear Smalcius a little opening these mysteries. “Neither,” saith he, “was Christ God all the while he was the Son of God. To be the Son of God is referred to his birth, and all understand how one may be called the “Son of God” for his birth or original. But God none can be (besides that one God), but for his likeness to God. So that when Christ was made like God, by the divine qualities which were in him, he was most rightly so far the Son of God as he was God, and so far God as he was the Son of God. But before he had obtained that likeness to God, properly he could not be said to be God.”268268 “Nec enim omni tempore quo Christus Filius Dei fuit, Deus etiam fuit. Filium enim Dei esse, ad nativitatem etiam referri, et ob ortum ipsum aliquem Dei Filium appelari posse nemo non intelligit. At Deum (præter unum illum Deum) nemo esse potest, nisi propter similtudinem cum Deo. Itaque tunc cum Christus Deo similis factus esset per divinas quæ in ipso erant qualitates, summo jure eatenus Dei Filius, qua Deus, et vicissim eatenus Deus, qua Dei Filius. At ante obtentam illam cum Deo similitudinem Deus proprie dici non potuit.” — Smalc. Respon. ad Smiglec. cap. xvii. p. 154.
182And these are some of those monstrous figments which, under pretence of bare adherence to the Scripture, our catechist would obtrude upon us: First, Christ is the Son of God; then, growing like God in divine qualities, he is made a God; and so becomes the Son of God. And this, if the man may be believed, is the pure doctrine of the Scripture! And if Christ be a God because he is like God, by the same reason we are all gods in Mr B.’s conceit, being all made in the image and likeness of God; which, says he, by sin we have not lost.
But what kind of sonship is added to Christ by all these excellencies whereby he is made like to God? The same author tells us that it is a sonship by adoption, and that Christ on these accounts was the adopted Son of God. “If,” saith he, “what is the signification of this word adoptivus may be considered from the Scripture, we deny not but that Christ in this manner may be called the ‘adopted Son of God,’ seeing that such is the property and condition of an adopted son that he is not born such as he is afterward made by adoption. Certainly, seeing that Christ was not such by nature, or in his conception and nativity, as he was afterward in his succeeding age, he may justly on that account be called the ‘adopted Son of God.’ ”269269 “Si quæ sit vocabuli ‘adoptivus’ significatio ex mente sacrarum literarum consideretur, nos non inficiari Christum suo modo esse adoptivum Dei Filium; quia enim adoptivi filii ea est conditio et proprietas, ut talis non sit natus qualis factus est post adoptionem. Certe quia Christus talis natura, vel in ipsa conceptione et nativitate non fuit, qualis postea fuit ætate accedente, sine injuria adoptivus Dei Filius eo modo dici potest.” — Smalc. ad Smiglec. cap. 20 p. 175. Such miserable plunges doth Satan drive men into whose eyes he hath once blinded, that the glorious light of the gospel should not shine into them! And by this we may understand, whatever they add farther concerning the sonship of Christ, that all belongs to this adopted sonship; whereof there is not one tittle in the whole book of God.
The reasons they commonly add why in this sense Christ is called the “Son of God” are the same which they give why he is called “God.” “He is the only-begotten Son of God,” say the authors of the Compendium of the religion before mentioned, “because God sanctified him, and sent him into the world, and because of his exaltation at the right hand of God, whereby he was made our Lord and God.”270270 “Filium Dei unigenitum esse docent, tum propter sanctificationem, ac missionem in mundum, tum exaltationem ad Dei dextram, adeo ut factum Dominum et Deum nostrum affirmant.” — Compend. Relig. cap. i. p. 2.
If the reader desire to hear them speak in their own words, let him consult Smalcius, De Vera Divinit. Jes. Christ, cap. vii., etc.; Socin. Disput. cum Erasmo Johan. Rationum quatuor antecedent. Refut. Disput. de Christi Natura, pp. 14, 15; Adversus Weikum, pp. 224, 225, et passim; Volkel. De Vera Relig. lib. v. cap. 10–12.; 183Jonas Schlicht. ad Meisner., pp. 192, 193, etc.; especially the same person fully and distinctly opening and declaring the minds of his companions, and the several accounts on which they affirm Christ to be, and to have been called, the “Son of God,” in his Comment on the Epistle to the Hebrews, pp. 16–20, as also his Notes upon Vechnerus’ Sermon on John i. p. 14, etc.; Anonym. Respon. ad Centum Argumenta Cichorii Jesuitæ, pp. 8–10; Confessio Fidei Christianæ, edita nomine Ecclesiarum in Polonia, pp. 24, 25.
Their good friend Episcopius hath ordered all their causes of Christ’s filiation under four heads:—
1. The first way (saith he) whereby Christ is in the Scripture κατ’ ἐξοχὴν, called the “Son of God,” is in that as man he was conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of a virgin. And I doubt not (saith he) but that God is on this ground called eminently the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2. Jesus Christ by reason of that duty or office which was imposed on him by his Father, that he should be the king of Israel promised by the prophets, is called the “Son of God.”
3. Because he was raised up by the Father to an immortal life, and, as it were, born again from the womb of the earth without the help of any mother.
4. Because being so raised from death, he is made complete heir of hie Father’s house, and lord of all his heavenly goods, saints, and angels.271271 “Primus modus est quis quatenus homo ex Spiritu Dei Sancto conceptus est, et ex virgine natus est. Nec dubium mihi est, quin ob hunc modum, Deus etiam κατ’ ἐξοχὴν vocetur Pater Domini nostri Jesu Christi. Secundus modus est, quia Jesus Christus ratione muneris illius, quod a Patre speciali mandato impositum ei fuit, ut rex Israelis esset, promissus ille per prophetas, et prævisus ante secula Filius Dei vocatur. Tertius modus est, quia a Patre ex mortuis in vitam immortalem suscitatus, et veluti ex utero terræ, nulla mediante matre, denuo genitus est. Quartus modus est, quia Jesus Christus ex morte suscitatus, hæres ex asse constitutus est in domo Patris sui, ac proinde bonorum onmium cœlestium, et Patris sui ministrorum omnium sive angelorum dominus.” — Episcop. Instit. Theolog. lib. iv. cap. xxxiii. Sect. 2, p. 195.
The like he had written before, in his Apology for the Remonstrants, cap. ii. sect. 2.
Thus he, evidently and plainly from the persons before named. But yet, after all this, he asks another question, — “Whether, all this being granted, there do not yet moreover remain a more eminent and peculiar reason why Christ is called the ‘Son of God’?” He answers himself: “There is, — namely, his eternal generation of the Father, his being God of God from all eternity;” which he pursues with sundry arguments, and yet in the close disputes that the acknowledgment of this truth is not fundamental, or the denial of it exclusive of salvation!272272 Instit. Theol. lib. iv. cap. xxxiii. sect 2, p. 335. So this great reconciler of the Arminian and Socinian religions, whose composition and unity into an opposition to them whom he calls Calvinists is the great design of his Theological Institutions; and such at this day is the aim of Curcellæus and some others. By the way, I shall desire (before I answer what he offers 184to confirm his assignation of this fourfold manner of filiation to Jesus Christ) to ask this learned gentleman (or those of his mind who do survive him) this one question, Seeing that Jesus Christ was from eternity the Son of God, and is called so after his incarnation, and was on that account in his whole person the Son of God, by their own confessions, what tittle can he or they find in the Scripture of a manifold filiation of Jesus Christ in respect of God his Father? or whether it be not a diminution of his glory to be called the Son of God upon any lower account, as by a new addition to him who was eternally his only-begotten Son, by virtue of his eternal generation of his own substance.
Having thus discovered the mind of them with whom we have to do, and from whom our catechist hath borrowed his discoveries, I shall briefly do these two [three?] things:— I. Show that the filiation of Christ consists in his generation of the substance of his Father from eternity, or that he is the Son of God upon the account of his divine nature and subsistence therein, antecedent to his incarnation. II. That it consists solely therein, and that he was not, nor was called, the Son of God upon any other account but that mentioned; and therein answer what by Mr B. or others is objected to the contrary. III. To which I shall add testimonies and arguments for the deity of Christ, — whose opposition is the main business of that new religion which Mr B. would catechise poor unstable souls into, — in the vindication of those excepted against by the Racovians.
I. For the demonstration of the first assertion, I shall insist on some few of the testimonies and arguments that might be produced for the same purpose:—
1. He who is the true, proper, only-begotten Son of God, of the living God, he is begotten of the essence of God his Father, and is his Son by virtue of that generation; but Jesus Christ was thus the only, true, proper, only-begotten Son of God: and therefore he is the Son of God upon the account before mentioned. That Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the manner expressed, the Scripture abundantly testifieth: “Lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” Matt. iii. 17; “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” chap. xvi. 16, John vi. 69.
Which [latter] place in Matthew is the rather remarkable, because it is the confession of the faith of the apostles, given in answer to that question, “Whom say ye that I the Son of man am?” They answer, “The Son of the living God;” and this in opposition to them who said he was “a prophet, or as one of the prophets,” as Mark expresses it, chap. vi. 15, — that is, only so. And the whole confession manifests that they did in it acknowledge both his orifice of being the Mediator and his divine nature or person also. “Thou art the Christ.” These words comprise all the causes of filiation insisted on 185by them with whom we have to do, and the whole office of the mediation of Christ; but yet hereunto they add, “The Son of the living God,” expressing his divine nature, and sonship on that account.
“And 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,” 1 John v. 20. “He spared not his own Son,” Rom. viii. 32. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father,” John i. 14. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him,” verse 18. “He said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God,” John v. 18. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,” John iii. 16. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world,” 1 John iv. 9. “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee,” Ps. ii. 7, etc. All which places will be afterward vindicated at large.
To prove the inference laid down, I shall fix on one or two of these instances:—
1. He who is ἴδιος υἱός, the “proper son” of any, is begotten of the substance of his father. Christ is the proper Son of God, and God he called often ἴδιον Πατέρα, his “proper Father.” He is properly a father who begets another of his substance; and he is properly a son who is so begotten.
Grotius confesseth there is an emphasis in the word ἴδιος, whereby Christ is distinguished from that kind of sonship which the Jews laid claim unto.273273 Grot. Annot. Joh. v. 18. Now, the sonship they laid claim unto and enjoyed, so many of them as were truly so, was by adoption; for “to them pertained the adoption,” Rom. ix. 4. Wherein this emphasis, then, and specially of Christ’s sonship, should consist, but in what we assert of his natural sonship, cannot be made to appear. Grotius says it is “because the Son of God was a name of the Messiah.” True, but on what account? Not that common [one] of adoption, but this of nature, as shall afterward appear.
Again; he who is properly a son is distinguished from him who is metaphorically so only; for any thing whatever is metaphorically said to be what it is said to be by a translation and likeness to that which is true. Now, if Christ be not begotten of the essence of his Father, he is only a metaphorical Son of God by way of allusion, and cannot be called the proper Son of God, being only one who hath but a similitude to a proper Son; so that it is a plain contradiction that Christ should be the proper Son of God, and yet not be begotten of his Father’s essence. Besides, in that 8th of the 186Romans, the apostle had before mentioned other sons of God, who became so by adoption, verses 15, 16; but when he comes to speak of Christ in opposition to them, he calls him “God’s own” or proper “Son,” — that is, his natural Son, they being so only by adoption. And in the very words themselves, the distance that is given him by way of eminence above all other things doth sufficiently evince in what sense he is called the “proper Son of God:” “He that spared not his own Son, how shall he not with him give us all things?”
2. The only-begotten Son of God is his natural Son, begotten of his essence, and there is no other reason of this appellation. And this is farther clear from the antithesis of this “only-begotten’ to “adopted.” They are adopted sons who are received to be such by grace and favour. He is only-begotten who alone is begotten of the substance of his father; neither can any other reason be assigned why Christ should so constantly, in way of distinction from all others, be called the “only-begotten Son of God.” It were even ridiculous to say that Christ were the only-begotten Son of God and his proper Son, if he were his Son only metaphorically and improperly. That Christ is the proper, only-begotten Son of God, improperly and metaphorically, is that which is asserted to evade these testimonies of Scripture. Add hereunto the emphatical, discriminating significancy of that voice from heaven, “This is he, that well-beloved Son of mine;” and that testimony which in the same manner Peter gave to this sonship of Christ in his confession, “Thou art the Son of the living God;” and the ground of Christ’s filiation will be yet more evident. Why the Son of the living God, unless as begotten of God as the living God, as living things beget of their own substance? But of that place before. Christ, then, being the true, proper, beloved, only-begotten Son of the living God, is his natural Son, of his own substance and essence.
3. The same truth may have farther evidence given unto it from the consideration of what kind of Son of God Jesus Christ is. He who is such a son as is equal to his father in essence and properties is a son begotten of the essence of his father. Nothing can give such an equality but a communication of essence. Then, with God, equality of essence can alone give equality of dignity and honour; for between that dignity, power, and honour, which belong to God as God, and that dignity or honour that is or may be given to any other, there is no proportion, much less equality, as shall be evidenced at large afterward. And this is the sole reason why a son is equal to his father in essence and properties, because he hath from him a communication of the same essence whereof he is partaker. Now, that Christ is such a Son as hath been mentioned, the Scripture abundantly testifies. “My Father,” saith Christ, “worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his 187Father, making himself equal with God,” John v. 17, 18. Verse 17, having called God his Father in the particular manner before mentioned, and affirmed to himself an equal nature and power for operation with his Father, the Jews thence inferred that he testified of himself that he was such a Son of God as that he was equal with God.
The full opening of this place at large is not my present business; the learned readers know where to find that done to their hand. The intendment of those words is plain and evident. Grotius expounds Ἴσον ἑαυτὸν τῷ Θεῷ, by “It was lawful for him to do what was so to God, and that he was no more bound to the Sabbath than he; which,” saith he, “was a gross calumny.”274274 “Sibi licere prædicans quicquid Deo licet; neque magis Sabbato se adstringi. Crassa calumnia.” — Grot. Annot. Johan. v. 18. So verse 19, these words of our Saviour, “The Son can do nothing of himself but what he seeth the Father do” (wherein the emphasis lies evidently in the words ἀφ ἑαυτοῦ, for the Son can do nothing of himself but what the Father doth, seeing he hath his essence, and so, consequently, will and power, communicated to him by the Father), he renders to be an allusion to and comparison between a master and scholar;275275 “Comparatio est sumpta a discipulo qui magistrum sibi præeuntem diligenter intuetur, ut imitari possit.” — Id. ibid. v. 19. as the scholar looks diligently to what his master doth, and strives to imitate him, so was it with Christ and God; — which exposition was the very same with that which the Arians assigned to this place, as Maldonate upon the place makes appear. That it was not an equal licence with the Father to work on the Sabbath, but an equality of essence, nature, and power between Father and Son, that the Jews concluded from the saying of Christ, is evident from this consideration, that there was no strength in that plea of our Saviour of working on the Sabbath-day because his Father did so, without the violation of the Sabbath, unless there had been an equality between the persons working. That the Jews did herein calumniate Christ or accuse him falsely, the Tritheists said, indeed, as Zanchius testifies;276276 Zanchius de Tribus Elohim, lib. v. cap. iv. p. 151. and Socinus is of the same mind, whose interest Grotius chiefly serves in his Annotations: but the whole context and carriage of the business, with the whole reply of our Saviour, do abundantly manifest that the Jews, as to their conclusion, were in the right, that he made himself such a Son of God as was equal to him. For if in this conclusion they had been mistaken, and so had calumniated Christ, there be two grand causes why he should have delivered them from that mistake by expounding to them what manner of Son of God he was:— First, Because of the just scandal they might take at what he had spoken, apprehending that to be the sense of his words which they professed.277277 “Notemus igitur Christum Judæos tanquam in verborum suorum intelligentia hallucinatos minime reprehendentem se naturalem Dei Filium clare professum ease. Deinde, quod isto modo colligunt Christum se Deo æqualem facere recte fecerunt; nec ideo a Christo refelluntur, aut vituperantur ab evangelista, qui in re tanta nos errare non fuerit passus.” — Cartwrightus Har. Evan. in loc. Secondly, Because on that account 188they sought to slay him; which if they had done, he should by his death have borne witness to that which was not true. They sought to kill him because he made himself such a Son of God as by that sonship he was equal to God; which if it were not so, there was a necessity incumbent on him to have cleared himself of that aspersion, which yet he is so far from, as that in the following verses he farther confirms the same thing.
So he “thought it not robbery to be equal with God,” Phil. ii. 6. It is of God the Father that this is spoken, as the Father, as appears in the winding up of that discourse: Verse 11, “That every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” And to him is Christ equal; and therefore begotten of his own essence.
Yea, he is such a Son as is one with his Father: “I and my Father are one,” John x. 30; which the Jews again instantly interpret, without the least reproof from him, that he being man did yet aver himself to be God, verse 33.
This place also is attempted to be taken out of our hands by Grotius, though with no better success than the former. ὁ Πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν “He joineth what he had spoken with what went before,” saith he: “If they cannot be taken from my Father’s power, they cannot be taken from mine, for I have my power of my Father; so that it is all one to be kept of me as of my Father:” which he intends, as I suppose, to illustrate by the example of the power that Joseph had under Pharaoh, Gen. xli., though the verse he intend be false printed.278278 “Connectit quod dixerat cum superioribus; Si Patris potestati eripi non poterunt, nec meæ poterunt: nam mea potestas a Patre emanat, et quidem ita, ut tantundem valeat a me, aut a Patre, custodiri. Vid. Gen. xli. 25, 27.” But that it is an unity of essence and nature, as well as an alike prevalency of power, that our Saviour intends, [is evident,] not only from that apprehension which the Jews had concerning the sense of those words, who immediately took up stones to kill him for blasphemy (from which apprehension he doth not at all labour to free them), but also from the exposition of his mind in those words, which is given us in our Saviour’s following discourse: for, verse 36, he tells us this is as much as if he had said, “I am the Son of God” (now, the unity between Father and Son is in essence and nature principally), and then that “he doeth the works of his Father,” the same works that his Father doeth, verses 37, 38, which, were he not of the same nature with him, he could not do; which he closes with this, “That the Father is in him, and he in the Father,” verse 38: of which words before and afterward.
189He, then (that we may proceed), who is so the Son of God as that he is one with God, and therefore God, is the natural and eternal Son of God; but that such a Son is Jesus Christ is thus plentifully testified unto in the Scripture. But because I shall insist on sundry other places to prove the deity of Christ, which also all confirm the truth under demonstration, I shall here pass them by. The evidences of this truth from Scripture do so abound, that I shall but only mention some other heads of arguments that may be and are commonly insisted on to this purpose. Then, —
4. He who is the Son of God, begotten of his Father by an eternal communication of his divine essence, he is the Son begotten of the essence of the Father; for these terms are the same, and of the same importance. But this is the description of Christ as to his sonship which the Holy Ghost gives us. Begotten he was of the Father, according to his own testimony: “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee,” Ps. ii. 7. And he is “the only-begotten Son of God,” John iii. 18. And that he is so begotten by a communication of essence we have his own testimony: “Before the hills, was I brought forth,” Prov. viii. 25. He was begotten and brought forth from eternity. And now he tells you farther, John v. 26, “The Father hath given to the Son to have life in himself.” It was by the Father’s communication of life unto him, and his living essence or substance; for the life that is in God differs not from his being. And all this from eternity: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth,” etc., Prov. viii. 22, etc., to the end of verse 31. “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” Mic. v. 2. “In the beginning was the Word,” John i. 1. “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was,” John xvii. 5. “And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith,” etc., Heb. i. 6, etc.
5. The farther description which we have given us of this Son makes it yet more evident: “He is the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person,” Heb. i. 3. “The image of the invisible God,” Col. i. 15. That Christ is the essential image of his Father, and not an accidental image, an image so as no creature is or can be admitted into copartnership with him therein, shall be on another occasion in this treatise fully demonstrated. And thither the vindication of these texts from the gloss of Grotius is also remitted.
190And this may suffice (without insisting upon what more might be added) for the demonstration of the first assertion, That Christ’s filiation ariseth from his eternal generation, or he is the Son of God upon the account of his being begotten of the essence of his Father from eternity.
II. That he is and is termed the Son of God solely on this account, and not upon the reasons mentioned by Mr B. and explained from his companions, is with equal clearness evinced. Nay, I see not how any thing may seem necessary for this purpose to be added to what hath been spoken; but for the farther satisfaction of them who oppose themselves, the ensuing considerations, through the grace and patience of God, may be of use:—
1. If, for the reasons and causes above insisted on from the Socinians, Christ be the Son of God, then Christ is the Son of God “according to the flesh,” or according to his human nature. So he must needs be, if God be called his Father because he supplied the room of a father in his conception. But this is directly contrary to the scriptures calling him the Son of God in respect of his divine nature, in opposition to the flesh or his human nature: “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power,” Rom. i. 3, 4. “Of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever,” Rom. ix. 5. The same distinction and opposition is observed, 2 Cor. xiii. 4, 1 Pet. iii. 18. If Jesus Christ according to the flesh be the Son of David, in contradistinction to the Son of God, then doubtless he is not called the Son of God according to the flesh; but this is the plain assertion of the Scripture in the places before named. Besides, on the same reason that Christ is the Son of man, on the same he is not the Son of God; but Christ was and was called the Son of man upon the account of his conception of the substance of his mother, and particularly the Son of David, and so is not on that account the Son of God.
Farther; that place of Rom. i. 3, 4, passing not without some exceptions as to the sense insisted on, may be farther cleared and vindicated. Jesus Christ is called the Son of God: Verses 1, 3, “The gospel of God concerning his Son Jesus Christ.” This Son is farther described, — (1.) By his human nature: He was “made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” (2.) In respect of his person or divine nature, wherein he was the “Son of God,” and that ἐν δυνάμει, “in power” or “existing in the power of God,” for so δύναμις put absolutely doth often signify: as Rom. i. 20; Matt. vi. 13, xxvi. 64; Luke iv. 36. He had, or was in, the omnipotency of God; and was this declared to be, not in respect of the flesh, in which he was “made of a woman,” but κατὰ Πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης (which is opposed to κατὰ σάρκα), 191“according to,” or “in respect of, his divine holy Spirit;” as is also the intendment of that word “The Spirit,” in the places above mentioned. Neither is it new that the deity of Christ should be called Πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης himself is called קֹדֶשׁ קָדָשִׁים, Dan. ix. 24, Sanctitas Sanctitatum, as here Spiritus Sanctitatis. And all this, saith the apostle, was declared so to be, or Christ was declared to be thus the Son of God, in respect of his divine, holy, spiritual, being, which is opposed to the flesh, ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, “by the” (or his) “resurrection from the dead,” whereby an eminent testimony was given unto his deity. He was “declared to be the Son of God” thereby, according to the sense insisted on.
To weaken this interpretation, Grotius moves, as they say, every stone, and heaves at every word; but in vain. (1.) Ὁρισθέντος, he tells us, is as much as προορισθέντος, as by the Vulgar Latin it is translated prædestinatus. So, he pleads, it was interpreted by many of the ancients. The places he quotes were most of them collected by Beza in his annotations on the place, who yet rejects their judgment therein, and cites others to the contrary. Luke xxii. 22, Acts x. 42, xvii. 31, are also urged by him to evince the sense of the word; in each of which places it may be rendered “declared,” or “to declare,” and in neither of them ought to be by “predestinated.” Though the word may sometimes signify so (which is not proved), yet that it here doth so will not follow. Ὅρος, a “definition” (from whence that word comes), declares what a thing is, makes it known; and ὁρίζω may best be rendered “to declare,” Heb. iv. 7. So in this place. Τί οὗν ἐστιν ὁρισθέντος τοῦ Θεοῦ δειχθέντος ἀποφανθέντος, says Chrysostom on the place. And so doth the subject-matter require, the apostle treating of the way whereby Christ was manifested eminently to be the Son of God.
But the most learned man’s exposition of this place is admirable. “Jesus,” saith he, “is many ways said to be the ‘Son of God.’ ” This is begged in the beginning, because it will not be proved in the end. If this be granted, it matters not much what follows. “But most commonly, or most in a popular way, because he was raised unto a kingdom by God.” Not once in the whole book of God! Let him, or any one for him, prove this by any one clear testimony from Scripture, and take his whole interpretation. The Son of God, as Mediator, was exalted to a kingdom, and made a Prince and Saviour: but that by that exaltation he was made the Son of God, or was so on that account, is yet to be proved; yea, it is most false. He goes on: “In that sense the words of the second Psalm were spoken of David, because he was exalted to a kingdom, which are applied to Christ, Acts xiii. 33; Heb. i. 5.’ But it is not proved that these words do at all belong to David, so much as in the type, nor any of the words from verse 7 to the end of the psalm. 192If they are so to be accommodated, they belong to the manifestation, not constitution of him; and so they are applied to our Saviour, when they relate to his resurrection, as one who was thereby manifested to be the Son of God, according as God had spoken of him. But now how was Christ predestinated to this sonship? “This kingly dignity, or the dignity of a Son, of Jesus, was predestinated and prefigured, when, leading a mortal life, he wrought ‘signs and wonders;’ which is the sense of the words ἐν δυνάμει.” The first sense of the word ὁρισθέντος is here insensibly slipped from. Predestinated and prefigured are ill conjoined as words of a neighbouring significancy. To predestinate is constantly ascribed to God as an act of his fore-appointing things to their end; neither can this learned man give one instance from the Scripture of any other signification of the word. And how comes now ὁρισθέντος to be “prefigured”? Is there the least colour for such a sense? “Predestinated to be the Son of God with power;” that is, “The signs he wrought prefigured that he should be exalted to a kingdom.” He was by them in a good towardliness for it. It is true, δυνάμεις, and sometimes δύναμις, being in construction with some transitive verb, doth signify “great” or “marvellous works;” but that ἐν δυνάμει, spoken of one declared to be so, hath the same signification, is not proved. He adds, “These signs Jesus did by ‘the Spirit of holiness;’ that is, that divine efficacy wherewith he was sanctified from the beginning of his conception, Luke i. 35; Mark ii. 8; John ix. 36.” In the two latter places there is not one word to the purpose in hand; perhaps he intended some other, and these are false printed. The first shall be afterward considered; how it belongs to what is here asserted I understand not. That Christ wrought miracles by the “efficacy of the grace of the Spirit,” with which he was sanctified, is ridiculous. If by the “Spirit” is understood his “spiritual, divine nature,” this whole interpretation falls to the ground. To make out the sense of the words, he proceeds, “Jesus therefore is showed to be noble on the mother’s side, as coming of an earthly king; but more noble on his Father’s part, being made a heavenly king of God, after his resurrection, Heb. v. 9; Acts ii. 30, xxvi. 23.”279279 “Jesus Filius Dei multis modis dicitur; maxime populariter, ideo quod in regnum a Deo evectus est; quo sensu verba Psalmi secundi, de Davide dicta, cum ad regnum pervenit, Christo aptantur, Acts xiii. 33, et ad Hebræos i. 5, et v. 5. Hæc autem Filii sive regia dignitas Jesu prædestinabatur et præfigurabatur tum cum mortalem agens vitam magma ilia signa et prodigia ederet, quæ δυνάμεων voce denotantur, sæpe et singulariter δυνάμεως, ut Marci vi. 5, ix. 39; Luc. iv. 36, v. 17, vi. 19, viii. 46, ix. 1; Act. iii. 12, iv. 33, vi. 8, x. 38. Hæc signa edebat Jesus, per Spiritum illum sanctitas, id est, vim divinam, per quam ab initio conceptionis sanctificatus fuerat, Luc. i. 35; Marci ii. 8; John ix. 36. Ostenditur ergo Jesus nobilis ex materna parte, utpete ex Rege terreno ortus; sed nobilior ex Paterna parte, quippe a Deo factus rex cœlestis post resurrectionem, Heb. v. 9; Acts ii. 30, xxvi. 23.” — Grot. Annot. in Rom. i. 3, 4. And thus is this most evident testimony of the deity of Christ eluded, or endeavoured to be so. 193Christ on the mother’s side was the “son of David,” — that is, “according to the flesh,” — of the same nature with her and him. On the Father’s side he was the “Son of God,” of the same nature with him. That God was his Father, and he the Son of God, because “after his resurrection he was made a heavenly king,” is a hellish figment, neither is there any one word or tittle in the texts cited to prove it; so that it is a marvel to what end they are mentioned, one of them expressly affirming that he was the Son of God before his resurrection, Heb. v. 8, 9.
2. He who was actually the Son of God before his conception, nativity, endowment with power or exaltation, is not the Son of God on these accounts, but on that only which is antecedent to them. Now, by virtue of all the arguments and testimonies before cited, as also of all those that shall be produced for the proof and evincing of the eternal deity of the Son of God, the proposition is unmoveably established, and the inference evidently follows thereupon.
But yet the proposition, as laid down, may admit of farther confirmation at present. It is, then, testified to, Prov. xxx. 4, “What is his name, and what is his Son’s name, if thou canst tell?” He was, therefore, the Son of God, and he was incomprehensible, even then before his incarnation. Ps. ii. 7, “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” Isa. ix. 6, “Unto us a child is born, 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, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” He is a Son, as he is the everlasting Father. And to this head of testimonies belongs what we urged before from Prov. viii. 22, etc. “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature,” Col. i. 15, which surely as to his incarnation he was not. “Before Abraham was, I am,” John viii. 58. But of these places, in the following chapter, I shall speak at large.
3. Christ was so the Son of God that he that was made like him was to be without father, mother, or genealogy: Heb. vii. 3, “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God.” But now Christ, in respect of his conception and nativity, had a mother (and one, they say, that supplied the room of father), had a genealogy that is upon record, and beginning of life, etc; so that upon these accounts he was not the Son of God, but on that wherein he had none of all these things, in the want whereof Melchisedec was made like to him. I shall only add, —
4. That which only manifests the filiation of Christ is not the cause of it. The cause of a thing is that which gives it its being. The manifestation of it is only that which declares it to be so. That all things insisted on as the causes of Christ’s filiation, by them with whom we have to do, did only declare and manifest him so to be 194who was the Son of God, the Scripture witnesseth: “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,” Luke i. 35. He shall be called so, — thereby declared to be so: “And great was the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory,” 1 Tim. iii. 16. All the causes of Christ’s filiation assigned by our adversaries are evidently placed as manifestations of God in him, or of his being the Son of God: “Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead,” Rom. i. 3, 4. The absurdity of assigning distinct and so far different causes of the same effect of filiation, whether you make them total or partial, need not be insisted on.
Farther (to add one consideration more), says Socinus, “Christ was the Son of God upon the account of his holiness and righteousness, and therein his likeness to God.” Now, this he had not, according to his principles, in his infancy. He proves Adam not to have been righteous in the state of innocency, because he had yielded actual obedience to no law: no more had Christ done in his infancy. Therefore, — (1.) He was not the Son of God upon the account of his nativity; nor (2.) did he become the Son of God any otherwise than we do, namely, by heating the word, learning the mind, and doing the will of God. (3.) God did not give his only-begotten Son for us, but gave the son of Mary, that he might (by all that which we supposed he had done for us) be made the Son of God. And so (4.) this sending of Christ doth not so much commend the love of God to us as to him, that he sent him to die and rise that he might be made God and the Son of God. (5.) Neither can any eximious love of Christ to us be seen in what he did and suffered; for had he not clone and suffered what he did, he had not been the Son of God. (6.) And also, if Christ be, on the account of his excellencies, graces, and gifts, the Son of God (which is one way of his filiation, insisted on), — and to be God and the Son of God is, as they say, all one, and as it is indeed, — then all who are renewed into the image of God, and are thereby the sons of God (as are all believers), are gods also!
And this that hath been spoken may suffice for the confirmation of the second assertion laid down at the entrance of this discourse.
To the farther confirmation of this assertion two things are to be annexed:— First, The eversion of that fancy of Episcopius before mentioned, and the rest of the Socinianising Arminians, that Christ is called the “Son of God,” both on the account of his eternal sonship and also of those other particulars mentioned from him above. Secondly, To consider the texts of Scripture produced by Mr B. for the confirmation of his insinuation, that Christ is not called the “Son 195of God” because of his eternal generation of the essence of his Father. The first may easily be evinced by the ensuing arguments:—
1. The question formerly proposed to Episcopius may be renewed; for if Christ be the Son of God partly upon the account of his eternal generation, and so he is God’s proper and natural Son, and partly upon the other accounts mentioned, then, —
(1.) He is partly God’s natural Son, and partly his adopted Son; partly his eternal Son, partly a temporary Son; partly a begotten Son, partly a made Son; — of which distinctions, in reference to Christ, there is not one iota in the whole book of God.
(2.) He is made the Son of God by that which only manifests him to be the Son of God, as the things mentioned do.
(3.) Christ is equivocally only, and not univocally, called the Son of God; for that which hath various and diverse causes of its being so is so equivocally. If the filiation of Christ hath such equivocal causes as eternal generation, actual incarnation, and exaltation, he hath an equivocal filiation; which whether it be consistent with the Scripture, which calls him the proper Son of God, needs no great pains to determine.
2. The Scripture never conjoins these causes of Christ’s filiation as Causes in and of the same kind, but expressly makes the one the sole constituting, and the rest causes manifesting only, as hath been declared. And, to shut up this discourse, if Christ be the Son of man only because he was conceived of the substance of his mother, he is the Son of God only upon the account of his being begotten of the substance of his Father.
Secondly, There remaineth only the consideration of those texts of Scripture which Mr B. produceth to insinuate the filiation of Christ to depend on other causes, and not on his eternal generation of the essence of his Father; which, on the principles laid down and proved, will receive a quick and speedy despatch.
1. The first place named by him, and universally insisted on by the whole tribe, is Luke i. 30–35. It is the last verse only that I suppose weight is laid upon. Though Mr B. names the others, his masters never do so. That of verses 31, 32 seems to deserve our notice in Mr B.’s judgment, who changes the character of the words of it, for their significancy to his purpose. The words are, “Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest.” What Mr B. supposes may be proved from hence, at least how he would prove what he aims at, I know not. That Jesus Christ, who was bern of the Virgin, was a son of the Highest we contend. On what account he was so the place mentioneth not; but the reason of it is plentifully manifested in other places, as hath been declared.
196The words of verse 35 are more generally managed by them: “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.” But neither do these particles, διὸ καὶ, render a reason of Christ’s filiation, nor are [they] a note of the consequent, but only of an inference or consequence that ensues from what he spake before: “It being so as I have spoken, even that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” There is weight also in that expression, Ἅγιον τὸ γεννώμενον, “That holy thing that shall be born of thee.” Ἅγιον is not spoken in the concrete, or as an adjective, but substantively, and points out the natural essence of Christ, whence he was “that holy thing.” Besides, if this be the cause of Christ’s filiation which is assigned, it must be demonstrated that Christ was on that account called the “Son of God,” for so hath it been said that he should be; but there is not any thing in the New Testament to give light that ever Christ was on this account called the “Son of God,” nor can the adversaries produce any such instance.
2. It is evident that the angel in these words acquaints the blessed Virgin that in and by her conception the prophecy of Isaiah should be accomplished, which you have, chap. vii. 14, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” as the express words of Luke declare, being the same with those of the prophecy, “Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call,” etc., verses 31, 32. And Matt. i. 20, 21, this very thing being related, it is said expressly to be done according to what was foretold by the prophet, verses 22, 23, repeating the very words of the Holy Ghost by Isaiah, which are mentioned before. Now Isaiah foretelleth two things:— (1.) That a virgin should conceive; (2.) That he that was so conceived should be Immanuel, God with us; or the Son of God, as Luke here expresses it. And this is that which the angel here acquaints the blessed Virgin withal upon her inquiry, verse 34, even that, according to the prediction of Isaiah, she should conceive and bear a son, though a virgin, and that that son of her’s should be called the “Son of God.”
By the way, Grotius’ dealing with this text, both in his annotations on Isa. vii., as also in his large discourse on Matt. i. 21–23, is intolerable and full of offence to all that seriously weigh it. It is too large here to be insisted on. His main design is to prove that this is not spoken directly of Christ, but only applied to him by a certain general accommodation. God may give time and leisure farther to lay open the heap of abominations which are couched in those learned annotations throughout. Which also appears, —
3. From the emphaticalness of the expression διὸ καὶ, “even also.” “That holy thing which is to be born of thee, even that shall be called 197the Son of God, and not only that eternal Word that is to be incarnate. That ἅγιον τὸ γεννώμενον, being in itself ἀνυπόστατον, shall be called the Son of God.” “Shall be called so,” that is, appear to be so, and be declared to be so with power. It is evident, then, that the cause of Christ’s filiation is not here insisted on, but the consequence of the Virgin’s conception declared; that which was “born of her should be called the Son of God.”
And this Socinus is so sensible of that he dares not say that Christ was completely the Son of God upon his conception and nativity; which, if the cause of his filiation were here expressed, he must be. “It is manifest,” saith he, “that Christ before his resurrection was not fully and completely the Son of God, being not like God before in immortality and absolute rule.”280280 “Constat igitur (ut ad propositum revertamur), Christum ante resurrectionem Dei Filium plene et perfecte non fuisse: cum illi et immortalitatis et absoluti domiuii cum Deo similitudo deesset.” — Socin. Respon. ad Weikum, p 225.
Mr B.’s next place, whereby the sonship of Christ is placed on another account, as he supposes, is John x. 36, “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?”
That this scripture is called to remembrance not at all to Mr B.’s advantage will speedily appear; for, —
1. Here is not in the words the least mention whence, or for what cause it is, that Christ is the Son of God, but only that he is so, he being expressed and spoken of under that description which is used of him twenty times in that Gospel, “He who is sent of the Father.” This is all that is in this place asserted, that he whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world counted it no robbery to be equal with him, nor did blaspheme in calling himself his Son.
2. It is evident that Christ in these words asserts himself to be such a Son of God as the Jews charged him with blasphemy for affirming of himself that he was; for he justifies himself against their accusation, not denying in the least that they rightly apprehended and understood him, but maintaining what he had spoken to be most true. Now, this was that which the Jews charged him withal, verse 33, “That he, being a man, blasphemed in making himself God;” for so they understood him, that in asserting his sonship he asserted also his deity. This Christ makes good, namely, that he is such a Son of God as is God also; yea, he makes good what he had said, verse 30, which was the foundation of all the following discourse about his blasphemy, “I and my Father are one.” So that, —
3. An invincible argument for the sonship of Christ, to be placed only upon the account of his eternal generation, ariseth from this very place that was produced to oppose it! He who is the Son of God 198because he is “one with the Father,” and God equal to him, is the Son of God upon the account of his eternal relation to the Father: but that such was the condition of Jesus Christ, himself here bears witness to the Jews, although they are ready to stone him for it; and of his not blaspheming in this assertion he convinces his adversaries by an argument a minori, verses 34–36.
A brief analysis of this place will give evidence to this interpretation of the words. Our Saviour Christ having given the reason why the Jews believed not on him, namely, “because they were not of his sheep,” verse 26, describes thereupon both the nature of those sheep of his, verse 27, and their condition of safety, verse 28. This he farther confirms from the consideration of his Father’s greatness and power, which is amplified by the comparison of it with others, who are all less than he, verse 29; as also from his own power and will, which appears to be sufficient for that end and purpose from his essential unity with his Father, verse 30. The effect of this discourse of Christ by accident is the Jews taking up of stones, which is amplified by this, that it was the second time they did so, and that to this purpose, that they might stone him, verse 31. Their folly and madness herein Christ disproves with an argument ab absurdo, telling them that it must be for some good work that they stoned him, for evil had he done none, verse 32. This the Jews attempt to disprove by a new argument a disparatis, telling him that it was “not for a good work, but for blasphemy,” that he “made himself to be God,” whom they would prove to be but a man, verse 33. This pretence of blasphemy Christ disproves, as I said before, by an argument a minori, verses 34–36, and with another from the effects or the works which he did, which sufficiently proved him to be God, verses 37, 38, still maintaining what he said and what they thought to be blasphemy; so that they attempt again to kill him, verse 39. It is evident, then, that he still maintained what they charged him with.
4. And this answers that expression which is so frequent in the Scripture, of God’s sending his Son into the world, and that he came down from heaven, and came into the world, Gal. iv. 4, John iii. 13; all evincing his being the Son of God antecedently to that mission or sanctification whereby in the world he was declared so to be. Otherwise, the Son of God was not sent, but one to be his Son.
Acts xiii. 32, 33, is also insisted on: “We declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.”
1. He that can see in this text a cause assigned of the filiation of 199Christ that should relate to the resurrection, I confess is sharper sighted than I. This I know, that if Christ were made the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead, he was not the Son of God who died, for that preceded this his making to be the Son of God. But that God gave his only-begotten Son to die, that he spared not his only Son, but gave him up to death, I think is clear in Scripture, if any thing be so.
2. Paul seems to interpret this place to me, when he informs us that “Christ was declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead,” Rom. i. 4. Not that he was made so, but he was “declared” or made known to be so, when, being “crucified through weakness, he lived by the power of God,” 2 Cor. xiii. 4; which power also was his own, John x. 18.
According as was before intimated, Grotius interprets these words, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,” “I have made thee a king; which,” he says, “was fulfilled in that, when all power was given him in heaven and earth, Matt. xxviii. 18; as Justin in his colloquy with Trypho: Τότε γένεσιν αὐτοῦ λέγων γενέσθαι ἐξότου ἡ γνῶσις αὐτοῦ ἔμελλε γενέσθαι.”281281 “O fili mi, hodie to genui, id est, Regem to feci. Hoc in Christo impletum, cum ei data omnis potestas in cœlo et in terra, Matt. xxviii. 18,” etc. — Grot. in loc. (1.) But then he was the Son of God before his resurrection, for he was the Son of God by his being begotten of him: which as it is false, so contrary to his own gloss on Luke i. 35. (2.) Christ was a king before his resurrection, and owned himself so to be, as hath been showed. (3.) Justin’s words are suited to our exposition of this place. He was said to be then begotten, because then he was made known to be so the Son of God. (4.) That these words are not applied to Christ, in their first sense, in respect of his resurrection, [is evident] from the pre-eminence assigned unto him above angels by virtue of this expression, Heb. i. 5, which he had before his death, chap. i. 6. Nor, (5.) Are the words here used to prove the resurrection, which is done in the verses following, out of Isaiah and another psalm, “And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead,” etc., Acts xiii. 34, 35. But then, —
3. It is not an interpretation of the meaning of that passage in the psalm which Paul, Acts xiii., insists on, but the proving that Christ was the Son of God, as in that psalm he was called, by his resurrection from the dead; which was the great manifesting cause of his deity in the world.
What Mr B. intends by the next place mentioned by him I know not. It is Rev. i. 5, “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead.” That Christ was the first who was raised from the dead to a blessed and glorious immortality, and is thence called the first-begotten of them, or from the dead, and that all that rise to such an immortality rise after him, 200and by virtue of his resurrection, is most certain and granted; but that from thence he is that only-begotten Son of God, though thereby he was only “declared” so to be, there is not the least tittle in the text giving occasion to such an apprehension.
And the same also is alarmed of the following place of Col. i. 18, where the same words are used again: “He is the head of the church, who is the beginning, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, — the first-born of the dead.” Only I shall desire our catechist to look at his leisure a little higher into the chapter, where he will find him called also πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως, “the first-born of all the creation;” so that he must surely be πρωτότοκος before his resurrection. Nay, he is so the first-born of every creature as to be none of them;282282 So that πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως ισ, ὁ τεχθεὶς πρὸ πάσης κτίσεως, qui genitus est prior onmi creatura, vel ante omnem creaturam, for so πρῶτος sometimes signifies comparatively. Arist. Avibus. 484, πρῶτον Δαρείου, id est, πρότερον, Johan. i. 15; πρῶτός μου ἧν, that is, πρότερος and 1 Johan. iv. 19, πρῶτος ἠγάπησεν, that is, πρότερος. His generation was before the creation, indeed eternal. Tertullian saith so too, Lib. de Trinitate: “Quomodo primogenitus esse potuit, nisi quia secundum divinitatem ante omnem creaturam ex Deo Patre Sermo processit.” for by him they were all created, verse 16. He who is so before all creatures as to be none of them, but that they are all created by him, is “God Messed for ever:” which when our catechist disproves, he shall have me for one of his disciples.
Of the same kind is that which Mr B. next urgeth from Heb. i. 4, 5, only it hath this farther disadvantage, that both the verses going immediately before and that immediately following after do inevitably evince that the constitutive cause of the sonship of Jesus Christ, a priori, is in his participation of the divine nature, and that it is only manifested by any ensuing consideration. Verses 2, 3, the Holy Ghost tells us that “by him God made the worlds, who is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person;” and this as the Son of God, antecedent to any exaltation as mediator. And verse 6, “He bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, and saith, Let all the angels of God worship him.” He is the first-begotten before his bringing into the world; and that this is proved by the latter clause of the verse shall be afterward demonstrated. Between both these, much is not like to be spoken against the eternal sonship of Christ. Nor is the apostle only declaring his pre-eminence above the angels upon the account of that name of his, the “Son of God,” which he is called upon record in the Old Testament, but the causes also of that appellation he had before declared.
The last place urged to this purpose is of the same import. It is Heb. v. 5, “So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee.” When Mr B. proves any thing more towards his purpose from this place, but only that Christ did not of his own accord 201undertake the office of a mediator, but was designed to it of God his Father, who said unto him, “Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee,” declaring him so to be with power after his resurrection, I shall acknowledge him to have better skill in disputing than as yet I am convinced he is possessed of.
And thus have I cleared the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ, and evinced the vanity of attempting to fix his prerogative therein upon any other account, not doubting but that all who love him in sin, cerity will be zealous of his glory herein. For his growing up to be the Son of God by degrees, to be made a God in process of time, to be the adopted Son of God, to be the Son of God upon various accounts of diverse kinds, inconsistent with one another, to have had such a conception and generation as modesty forbids to think or express, not to have been the Son of God until after his death, and the like monstrous figments, I hope he will himself keep his own in an everlasting abhorring of.
The farther confirmation of the deity of Christ, whereby Mr B.’s whole design will be obviated, and the vindication of the testimonies wherewith it is so confirmed from his masters, is the work designed for the next chapter.
There are yet remaining of this chapter two or three questions looking the same way with those already considered, which will, upon the principles already laid down and insisted on, easily and in very few words be turned aside from prejudicing the eternal deity of the Son of God. His 10th, then, is, —
“What saith the Son himself concerning the prerogative of God the Father above him?” and answer is given John xiv. 28; Mark xiii. 32; Matt. xxiv. 36: whereunto is subjoined another of the same, “What saith the apostle Paul? — A. 1 Cor. xv. 24, 28, xi. 3, iii. 22, 23.”
The intendment of these questions being the application of what is spoken of Christ, either as mediator or as man, unto his person, to the exclusion of any other consideration, namely, that of a divine nature therein, the whole of Mr B.’s aim in them is sufficiently already disappointed. It is true, there is an order, yea, a subordination, in the persons of the Trinity themselves, whereby the son, as to his personality, may be said to depend on the Father, being begotten of him; but that is not the subordination here aimed at by Mr B., but that which he underwent by dispensation as mediator, or which attends him in respect of his human nature. All the difficulty that may arise from these kinds of attribution to Christ the apostle abundantly salves in the discovery of the rise and occasion of them, Phil. ii. 7–9. He who was in the form of God, and equal to him, was in the form of a servant, whereunto he humbled himself, his servant, and less than he. And there is no more difficulty in the questions wherewith Mr B. amuses himself and his disciples than 202there was in that wherewith our Saviour stopped the mouth of the Pharisees, — namely, how Christ could be the son of David, and yet his Lord, whom he worshipped. For the places of Scripture in particular urged by Mr B., [such as] John xiv. 28, says our Saviour, “My Father is greater than I” (mittens misso, says Grotius himself, referring the words to office, not nature), which he was and is in respect of that work of mediation which he had undertaken; but “inæqualitas officii non tollit æqualitatem naturæ.”283283 “Ideo autem nusquam Scriptum est, quod Deus Pater major sit Spiritu Sancto, vel Spiritus Sanctus minor Deo Patre; quia non sic assumpta est creatura in qua appareret S. S. sicut assumptus est filius hominis, in qua forma ipsius Verbi Dei persona præentaretur.” — August. lib. i. de Trinit. cap. vi. A king’s son is of the same nature with his father, though he may be employed by him in an inferior office. He that was less than his Father as to the work of mediation, being the Father’s servant therein, is equal to him as his Son, as God to be blessed for ever. Mark xiii. 32, Matt. xxiv. 36, affirm that the Father only knows the times and seasons mentioned, not the angels, nor the Son; and yet, notwithstanding, it was very truly said of Peter to Christ, “Lord, thou knowest all things,” John xxi. 17. He that in and of the knowledge and wisdom which as man he had, and wherein he grew from his infancy, knew not that day, yet as he knew all things knew it; it was not hidden from him, being the day by him appointed. Let Mr B. acknowledge that his knowing all things proves him to be God, and we will not deny but his not knowing the day of judgment proves him to have another capacity, and to be truly man.
As man he took on him those affections which we call φυσικὰ καὶ ἀδιάβλητα πάθη amongst which, or consequently unto which, he might be ignorant of some things.284284 Αὐτός ἐστιν ὁ εἷς καὶ μόνος υἱὸς ὁ πρὶν ἢ Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι ὤν καὶ ἐπὶ ἐσχὰτων προκόψας σοφίᾳ καὶ ἡλικίᾳ κατὰ σάρκα ἔχει γὰρ ἀεὶ θεότης αὐτοῦ τὸ τέλειον. — Proclus. Episcop. Constan. Ep. ad Armenios. In the meantime, he who made all things, as Christ did, Heb. i. 2, knew their end as well as their beginning. He knew the Father, and the day by him appointed; yea, all things that the Father hath were his, and “in him were hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” Col. ii. 3.
Paul speaks to the same purpose, 1 Cor. xv. 24, 28. The kingdom that Christ doth now peculiarly exercise is his economical mediatory kingdom; which shall have an end put to it when the whole of his intendment in that work shall be fulfilled and accomplished. But that he is not also sharer with his Father in that universal monarchy which, as God by nature, he hath over all, this doth not at all prove. All the argument from this place is but this: “Christ shall cease to be mediator; therefore he is not God.” And that no more is here intended is evident from the expression of it, “Then shall the Son himself be subject;” which if it intend any 203thing but the ceasing from the administration of the mediatory kingdom, wherein the human nature is a sharer, it would prove that, as Jesus Christ is mediator, he is not in subjection to his Father, which himself abundantly hath manifested to be otherwise. Of 1 Cor. xi. 3, and iii. 22, 23, there is the same reason, both speaking of Christ as mediator; whence that no testimony can be produced against his deity hath been declared.
He adds, 12th, “Q. Howbeit, is not Christ dignified, as with the title of Lord, so also with that of God, in the Scripture? — A. [John xx. 28,] Thomas said, “My Lord and my God.” Verily, if Thomas said that Christ was his God, and said true, Mr B. is to blame who denies him to be God at all. With this one blast of the Spirit of the Lord is his fine fabric of religion blown to the ground. And it may be supposed that Mr B. made mention of this portion of Scripture that he might have the honour of cutting his own throat and destroying his own cause; or rather, that God, in his righteous judgment, hath forced him to open his mouth to his own shame. Whatever be the cause of it, Mr B. is very far from escaping this sword of the Lord, either by his insinuation in the present query, or diversion in the following. For the present, it was not the intent of Thomas to dignify Christ with titles, but to make a plain confession of his faith, being called upon by Christ to believe. In this state he professes that he believes him to be his Lord and his God. Thomas doubtless was a Christian; and Mr B. tells us that Christians have but one God, chap. i., ques. 1, Eph. iv. 6. Jesus Christ, then, being the God of Thomas, he is the Christians’ one God, if Mr B. may be believed. It is not, then, the dignifying of Christ with titles (which it is not for men to do), but the naked confession of a believer’s faith, that in these words is expressed. Christ is the Lord and God of a believer; ergo the only true God, as 1 John v. 20. Mr B. perhaps will tell you he was made a God; so one abomination begets another, — infidelity idolatry; — of this afterward. But yet he was not, according to his companions, made a God before his ascension, which was not yet when Thomas made his solemn confession.
Some attempt also is made upon this place by Grotius Καὶ ὁ Θεός μου. “Here first,” saith he, “in the story of the gospel, is this word found ascribed by the apostle unto Jesus Christ” (which Maldonate before him observed for another purpose), “to wit, after he had by his resurrection proved himself to be him from whom life, and that eternal, ought to be expected. And this custom abode in the church, as appears not only in the apostolical writings, Rom. ix. 5, and of the ancient Christians, as may be seen in Justin Martyr against Trypho, but in the Epistle also of Pliny unto Trajan, where he says that the Christians sang verses to Christ as to God;”285285 “Hic primum ea vox in narratione Evangelica reperitur ab Apostolis Jesu tributa, postquam scilicet sua resurrectione probaverat, se esse a quo vita et quidem æterna exspectari deberet, Vide supra, xi. 25. Mansit deinde ille mos in ecclesia, ut apparet non tantum in scriptis Apostolicis ut, Rom. ix. 5, et veterum Christianorum, ut videre est apud Justinum Martyrem contra Tryphonem, sed et in Plinii ad Trajanum Epistola, ubi ait Christianos Christo, ut Deo, carmina cecinisse.” — Grot, in loc. or, as the 204words are in the author, “Carmen Christo, quasi Deo, dicere secum invicem.” What the intendment of this discourse is is evident to all those who are a little exercised in the writings of them whom our author all along in his Annotations takes care of. That Christ was now made a God at his resurrection, and is so called from the power wherewith he was Intrusted at his ascension, is the aim of this discourse. Hence he tells us it became a “custom” to call him God among the Christians, which also abode amongst them; and to prove this “custom” he wrests that of the apostle, Rom. ix. 5, where the deity of Christ is spoken of, in opposition to his human nature or his flesh, that he had of the Jews, plainly asserting a divine nature in him, calling him God subjectively, and not only by way of attribution. But this is, it seems, a “custom,” taken up afar Christ’s resurrection, to call him God, and so continued; though John testifies expressly that he was God in the beginning. It is true, indeed, much is not to be urged from the expressions of the apostles before the pouring out of the Spirit upon them, as to any eminent acquaintance with spiritual things; yet they had before made this solemn confession that Christ was the “Son of the living God,” Matt. xvi. 16–18, which is to the full as much as what is here by Thomas expressed. That the primitive Christians worshipped Christ and invocated him not only as a god, but professing him to be “the true God and eternal life,” we have better testimonies than that of a blind Pagan who knew nothing of them nor their ways, but by the report of apostates, as himself confesseth. But learned men must have leave to make known their readings and observations, whatever become of the simplicity of the Scripture.
True, he who, being partaker of the divine essence, in the form of God, was Thomas’ God, as he was mediator, the head of his church, interceding for them, acknowledged his Father to be his God; yea, God may be said to be his God upon the account of his sonship and personality, in which regard he hath his deity of his Father, and as “God of God.” Not that he is a secondary, lesser, made god, a hero, semideus, as Mr B. fancies him, but “God blessed for ever,” in order of subsistence depending on the Father.
Of the same nature is the last question, namely, “Have you any passage in the Scripture where Christ, at the same time that he 205hath the appellation of God given to him, is said to have a God? — A. Heb. i. 8, 9.”
By Mr B.’s favour, Christ is not said to have a God, though God be said to be his God. Verse 8, Christ, by Mr B.’s confession, is expressly called God. He is, then, the one true God with the Father, or another. If the first, what doth he contend about? If the second, he is a god that is not God by nature, — that is, not the one God of Christians, — and consequently an idol; and indeed such is the Christ that Mr B. worshippeth. Whether this will be waived by the help of that expression, verse 9, “God, thy God,” where it is expressly spoken of him in respect of his undertaking the office of mediation, wherein he was “anointed of God with the oil of gladness above his fellows,” God and his saints will judge.
Thus the close of this chapter, through the good, wise hand of the providence of God, leaving himself and his truth not without witness, hath produced instances and evidences of the truth opposed abundantly sufficient, without farther inquiry and labour, to discover the sophistry and vanity of all Mr B.’s former queries and insinuations; for which let him have the praise.
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