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only by human souls, are incident. How can a spirit, creator of all things under God the Father, be straitened and incommoded by so small a portion of matter, which was originally created by him ? Will the residence of so great a spirit in a human body make no alteration? Shall that body be still as feeble, as liable to wants, and as sensible to pain, as an ordinary body, which has only a human soul?
4. We do not perceive the Lord Jesus to insist upon his pre-existent greatness and glory, as an argument of obedience to his doctrine. He does not represent himself to those who were his hearers, as their creator under God. But he says, that “the Father had sent him," that he acted by commission under God, and that the Father had sealed him, by the miraculous works which he had enabled him to do, and that he had authority from him to do and teach as he did.
5. If so glorious a being as the Word, or Son of God, is represented to be in this scheme, had taken upon himself a human body, and submitted to animate and act in it as a soul : that condescension would have been clearly and frequently shewn, and insisted on in the gospels and epistles. It would have been as much enlarged upon as our Lord's resurrection and ascension : but there are no clear texts asserting this: none but what are capable of another sense, and are better interpreted in a different manner.
6. In this way Jesus Christ is no example of imitation to us : for no such thing, as the condescension just represented, is required of us. We are not taught to be willing to descend into some inferior species of beings, and therein to be debilitated and incommoded, and lose all our rationality, for a while at least. But what we are taught is, that we should act modestly and meekly in the condition assigned us, and in which God has made us.
7. If the body of Jesus had been animated by so great a spirit as its soul, there would have been nothing at all extraordinary in his resurrection and ascension. And yet how does the apostle labour in describing this great instance of divine power? Eph. i. 19, 20. “That ye may know what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward, who believe, according to the working of his mighty power : which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." But what
But what is there extraordinary in it, that a being who under God had made the world, should be raised up, and ascend, and be seated in the heavenly places, where he had been long before ?
8. Once more: this doctrine of the transcendent glory and power of Christ before his coming into the world, is inconsistent with the representations given throughout scripture of his exal tation after his death, as a reward of his humility and obedience upon earth. For the text, agreeably to many others, says: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him.” But there is no exaltation, to which any being can be advanced, that would exceed what the Creator was entitled to, as such. Has he not, as Creator, under God, of all things visible and invisible, a natural right to dominion and authority over them, and to precedence before and above all others ? How then could dominion and authority over all things be the reward of Christ's humility and patience, and other virtues here on earth?
What adds weight to this consideration is, that this doctrine weakens, and even destroys the argument set before us to humility and meekness, which is taken from the exaltation of Jesus. For according to it, he has no advancement, and indeed could have no advancement, after all he had done here, but what he was entitled to without it.
I must not stay to state and answer objections. But there is one text, so likely to occur to the thoughts of many, that it may be best to take notice of it. It is in the prayer recorded John xvii. where at ver. 5. is this petition of our Lord. “ And now, O Father, glorify thou me with the glorify, which I had with thee before the world was.” If any should urge this text, as an objection against some things just said, I would answer: the most likely meaning of these words is to this purpose.
Our Lord was here approaching to the affecting scene of his last sufferings, and the conclusion of his life here on earth, in which he had acted with great zeal and faithfulness for the glory of God, and the good of men. And having
And having so fulfilled the commission given him, he solemnly and humbly addresses God, saying, “I have glorified thee on earth. I have finished the work, which thou gavest me to do. “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was:” that is, which had been always, and from the beginning designed for me. So Rev. xiii. 8. “The lamb slain,” that is designed to be slain, “ before the foundation of the world.” Eph. i. 4. “ According as he has chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world.” Col. iii. 3. “ Your life is hid with Christ in God.” See also Eph. iii. 9, and Matt. xxv. 34 ; and other like places. So the glory, which was to be the reward of what Jesus should do on earth, was always with God. It was “ with him," in his purpose : “hid with him, before the world was.” To the like effect St. Augustin a very largely. And if there is any reward annexed to our Lord's services and sufferings here on earth, (as certainly there is) very probably that is what is here intended.
These things I have now proposed to your consideration. I do not dictate. But let it be considered, whether this scheme be not attended with difficulties. Many pious and learned men may have taken it up, for avoiding difficulties in the commonly received doctrine. Nevertheless this also may be found to have difficulties that must weaken the persuasion of its truth and probability.
God willing, I intend to represent another opinion hereafter. For the present I shall conclude with the
following remarks. We may hence receive instruction. We should not be too much opinionated of ourselves, because we know more truths than others. Let us rather suppose that we may be mistaken; sensible, that in many points of speculation there are difficulties which may be overlooked by us ; and that our scheme may be liable to objections which we have not observed. Neither all wisdom, nor all truth is monopolized by any one man, or sect of men. He who has gained truth fairly, by impartial and laborious examination and inquiry, will be under little temptation to insult or despise others whom he thinks to be in error or ignorance, if they be but open to conviction. He knows that things appear in different lights to different persons, and to the same person at different times. He has, perhaps, been positive in some points, which he has afterwards seen to be mistaken opinions; though he was all the while sincere. He must therefore allow the innocence of error in some cases. Let us not be too desirous that others should agree with us in opinion. Let us love and honour them, if they are honest and virtuous; which many may be, who are not of the same sentiment with us, and see not things in the same light that we do. If we desire to experience moderation from others, let us show it ourselves, as there is occasion. Let not our faith, our knowledge, or opinion of it, produce arrogance and censoriousness. But as St. James directs; if we are wise men, and endued with knowledge, let us show out of a good conversation our works with meekness of wisdom, Jam. iii. 13. Or, let us show our wisdom by a truly pious and virtuous conversation, and by meekness of behaviour towards others,
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Philip. ii. 5-11. And what follows.
I have proposed to explain this text largely and distinctly. And though this design may lead me to be somewhat controversial, and to treat some points, which are, and long have been disputed among Christians; I have hoped that I should have no reason to decline freedom and plainness of expression. It is very common for men in public, as well as private discourses, to assert their own sentiment, and to refute, or do what lies in their power, to refute the schemes and sentiments of others. Nor is it uncommon for men of low rank and condition, to think themselves capable judges of what are reckoned the most sublime and mysterious doctrines, and to pass sentences, not very favourable, upon those who are of a different opinion from themselves. There cannot be then, I apprehend, any sufficient reason to condemn an attempt to represent in a fair and impartial manner divers sentiments concerning the Deity, and the person of Christ, together with the reasons and arguments by which they are supported.
• Cum ergo videret illius prædestinatæ suæ clarificationis quam habui apud te, id est; illam claritatem, quam habui venisse jam tempus, ut et nunc fieret in redditione, quod apud te in prædestinatione tua, tempus est, ut apud te habeam fuerat in prædestinatione jam factum, oravit, dicens: “Et nunc etiam vivens in dextera tua. In Joan. Evang. cap. xvii, tract. clarifica me tu Pater apud teipsum claritate, quain habui pri- 105, p. 8, tom. III. Bened. p. 2. usquam mundus esset, apud ie : tanquam diceret, claritatem
I have alreadly considered two schemes, concerning the Deity, and a Trinity, and the person of Christ: one, that which is reckoned the commonly received opinion, or orthodox : the other sometimes called Arianism. The third, to be now considered,' is sometimes called the doctrine of the Unitarians or the Nazareans. These believe that there is one God alone, even the Father, eternal, almighty, possessed of all perfections, without any defects, or limits, unchangeable, the creator of all things visible and invisible, the supreme Lord and Governor of the world, whose providential care upholds all things, who spoke to the patriarchs in the early ages of the world, to the people of Israel by Moses, and other prophets, and in these latter ages of the world to all mankind by Jesus Christ, and by him will distribute equal recompenses to all according to their behaviour in this world.
For farther illustrating this point, it will be proper to show more distinctly the opinion of those persons concerning God the Father, or the Divine Unity, the person of Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
F'irst, Concerning God the Father, or the Divine Unity; which appears to be the doctrine of the Old and New Testament, from the beginning to the end.
Moses, the Jewish lawgiver, and their greatest prophet, before the gospel dispensation, begins his five books with an account of the creation of the world:
The first of the ten commandments, delivered with so great solemnity to the Jewish people, soon after their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, and before they were put into possession of Canaan, as a distinct and independent nation and people, is, “ I am the Lord thy God, who have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me," Exod. xx. 1, 2 ; that is, before my face, in my sight, to which all things are open, from whom no deviation from this law, can be hid, and will be overlooked and unresented. In the fourth of those ten laws or commandments, it is said, • Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy-For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day,” ver. 10, 11..
After the rehearsal of those commandments, and other things in the book of Deuteronomy, it is said, “ Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord,” Deut. vi. 4.
Ps. lxxxiii. 18. “ That men may know, that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most liigh over all the earth."
Is. xl. 28. “ Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, nor is weary?”
Is. xliv. 6. “ Thus saith the Lord, the king of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts : I am the first, and I am the last And beside me there is no God." Ver. 8. « Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God. I know not any.” Ver. 24.«« Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb: I am the Lord that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.”
Such, then, is the doctrine of the Old Testament. There is one God, even Jehovah, eternal, unchangeable, the creator of the heavens and the earth, and all things therein, the Lord, God, and King of Israel.
Let us now observe the doctrine of the New Testament, which, if from heaven, cannot be different, but must be harmonious with that of the Old.
Matt. iv. 9, 10. When Satan tempted our Lord, and said, “ All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Jesus said unto him, Get thee hence, Satan ; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.'
See Deut. vi. 13, and x. 20.
Mark xii. 28-34. “ And one of the scribes came; and asked him, which is the first commandment of all ? And Jesus answered him: The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment-And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth ; for there is one God, and there is none other but heAnd when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”. See Deut. vi. 4, 5.
Luke xviii. 18, 19. “ And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good, save one, that is God.”
John xvii. 1-3. “ These words spake Jesus, and lift up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee. As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
Our Lord therefore, we see, prays to God, even the Father, his Father, and our Father, his God, and our God.” John xx. 17. And gives to him the character of “the only true God.”
It might be here not improperly observed farther, that God, even the Father, is he, in whose name, and by whose authority our Lord professed to act, whose will he did, to whom he resigned himself, whose glory ultimately, and above all things, he sought, and not his own.
John v. 30. “I can of my ownself do nothing. “ As I hear I judge. And my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which sent me." Ver. 36.
. « But I have greater witness than that of John. For the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.” Ver. 43. “ I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not.”
John vii. 16. “ Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me." John xii. 49. “ For I have not spoken of myself. But the Father which sent me, he gave me commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.”
The apostles of Christ were unanimous, and after their Lord's resurrection and ascension to heaven, pray, and preach as he had done.
Acts iii. 12, 13. After the healing of the lame man that sat at the gate of the temple, the people ran together to Peter and John. “When Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this ?The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus, whom ye delivered up." It is the God of the patriarchs and prophets, in whose name they act, by whom, they supposed, their miracles were wrought, for confirming the authority and doctrine of Jesus.
Afterwards, when delivered from a great danger, Acts iv. 23–30. “ And being let went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voices to God, and said, Lord, thou art God who hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that is therein-And now, Lord, behold their threatenings, and grant unto thy servants that with all boldness they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thy hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child," servant, « Jesus.” And ch. v. 29–31, before the whole Jewish council : “ Then Peter and the other apostles answered, and said, we ought to obey God rather than
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand, to be a Prince and a Šaviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”
Thus they ascribe the gospel dispensation to the one God, creator of heaven and earth, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of the people of Israel.
To the same God the apostles offer up prayers and praises in their epistles.
Says St. Paul, Eph. iii. 14. « For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
—And St. Peter, 1 Ep. i. 3. “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”- -Eph. v. 20. “ Giving thanks always for all things unto God, even the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
In many other places of their epistles the apostles expressly teach, that there is but one God, even the Father.
1 Cor. viii. 4, 5, 6. “We know that an idol is nothing, and that there is none other God but one.
For though there be, that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many, and lords many) yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, [by whom are all things,] and we by him.”
2 Cor. xi. 31. « The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ : or God even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.”
1 Tim. i. 17. “ Now unto the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever.”
1 Tim. vi. 15, 16. “ Which in his time he shall shew, who is the blessed and only poten
tate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality --To whom be honour and power everlasting."
Jude v. 25. “ To the only wise God, our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, now and ever.”
Eph. iv. 5, 6. “ There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in "
And in this second chapter of the epistle to the Philippians we are assured, that our Lord has been exalted, “ that every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
From all which it is concluded, that there is one God, even the Father.
In the next place we are to observe, what is the sentiment of these persons concerning our blessed Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
And, in short, their sentiment is, that he is a man, with a reasonable soul and human body, especially favoured of God.
Of which there are these proofs. He was born of a woman.
We have an account of our Lord's nativity in two evangelists, both agreeing, that he was born of a virgin, and “ conceived by the Holy Ghost," as it is expressed in the apostle's creed, Matt. i. 18-25. “ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise. When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost,—Joseph, her husband, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, in a dream, saying : Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife. For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son. And thou shalt call his name Jesus-Then Joseph, being raised from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him; and took unto him his wife. And knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son. And he called his name Jesus.”
St. Luke i. 26-38. “ The angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin, espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary-And the angel said unto her : Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour with God. And behold, 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. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.” Must not this be reckoned full proof, that Jesus was a man, and that it was designed to represent him to us as such ? Not made as Adam, but born of a woman; not in the ordinary way of generation, but of a virgin, by the immediate operation and miraculous power of God. See Luke i. 35.
Nor may it be amiss to observe here, that in the forecited evangelists are two pedigrees of Jesus: one carrying his genealogy up to David, and Abraham, the other as high as to Adams to satisfy us of his humanity, and to show the fulfilment of the divine promises concerning the great person who was to come, and that Jesus was “ the seed of the woman,” who should bruise the serpent's head : “ the seed of Abraham,” in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed, and the “son of David,” in whom the everlasting kingdom, promised to that patriarch, should be established.
Jesus likewise, being a man, experienced many dangers in the time of his infancy. Notwithstanding which his life was wonderfully preserved. Being returned safe from Egypt, Joseph and Mary settled again in Galilee, in their own city Nazareth. And it is observed by St. Luke ii. 40. “ And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.”
him.” The same evangelist also having given an account of his going with his parents to Jerusalem at the feast of the passover, when he was twelve years of age, adds : ch. ii. 51, 52. “ That he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”
It might be observed, that when our Lord appeared publicly in the world, and by his words and works showed himself to be the Messiah, he called himself “ the son of man" and they who believed in him, respectfully addressed to him in the character of “ the son of David.”
• Το δε παδιον ηυξανε.