Character of Christ
(1st ed., Boston, 1814)
AND ON THE
TRINITY IN UNITY OF THE GODHEAD;
QUOTATIONS FROM THE PRIMITIVE FATHERS
BY ETHAN SMITH, A. M.
PASTOR OF A CHURCH IN HOPKINTON, N. H.
Immanuel -- God with us
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
That ye should contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints
Because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
PUBLISHED BY H. P. & C. WILLIAMS
PRINTED BY N. WILLIS.
Rev. Dr. Emmons. -- "The Rev. E. Smith read to me, some time ago his Treatise on the Character of Jesus Christ, and on the Trinity. I much approved of his sentiments; and am very desirous that his piece should be published; because I think it is ably executed, and directly calculated to refute some dangerous errors, which are at the present day industriously propagated.
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Rev. Dr. Morse's. -- "I have examined with attention the Rev. E. Smith's work, entitled A Treatise on the Character of Jesus Christ, and on the Trinity.
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IT is the remark of an eminent man, that "Divinity consists in speaking with the scripture; and in going no further." By this rule I hope I shall strictly proceed, in discussing the deep and interesting subject of this treatise. The subject is a matter of mere Revelation. To this then, we ought to repair, and to abide by the decision there found. The mode of the divine existence is, of all things, the most mysterious and sublime. And of all subjects, it demands the most solemn awe, self-diffidence, and humble reliance on the dictates of Revelation. Learn what the Bible says upon that subject, and the point is gained. This is all that man can do. It is not only vain, but impious to object to the point thus decided, because unfathomable depths of mystery attend it.
at immensity of space, and is lost in wonder. He contemplates the planetary system, and the starry heavens, with amazement. On earth he finds a world of objects, each one of which is attended with insolvable questions; not excepting the smallest insect. After man's highest improvements in philosophy and science, he has learned only to feel, most exquisitely, that his knowledge is as nothing. Unexplored regions of wonder glimmer upon his astonished sight.
spiritual essences. How infinitely more so, when we think of the eternal, independent, omnipotent, omniscient Spirit! We are lost in an ocean, without a bottom, or a shore! What shall direct our faith in such a case? The Word, the unerring Word of God! This is the only compass, the only polar star, on such an ocean. What God informs of himself is to be received with humble, adoring, faith; though the subject exceed our comprehension, as far as God is above man. Not a word of cavil, or unbelief should escape the lip, or be conceived in the heart.
difficulties seem to attend. Where reason fails, let faith adore! My object in this Treatise is to ascertain the true sense of the sacred Oracles upon the subjects proposed; compaing spiritual things with spiritual.
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WE read of Christ's being "declared to be the Son of God with power, -- by his resurrection from the dead." Here is one decision of the great question of that day; and it is, that Christ was the Son of God. No doubt this implies all the great truths involved in his mediatorial name and character. But it looks more immediately at one point, which was now ascertained. This point was the great question of that day concerning him. And what was this? Was it, whether Christ's highest nature was actually derived from God, as a son from a father, and thus began to exist, and is totally dependent? Or was this the great question concerning Christ? Was Jesus of Nazareth the true Messiah? Or was he an impostor?
Do we find at that day any such question as the following? In what sense is the promised
14 QUESTION CONCERNING
Was not this the great question of that day? Was he, who was born of Mary, and who was reputed to be the carpenter's son, who preached and wrought miracles, was rejected by the Jews, as an impostor; but was received by many, as the Messiah; was this the Saviour of the world? Was he indeed that wonderful Person, so long foretold, and promised under various titles; and among the rest, was to be known as the Son of God? Or was he an impostor?
Let this question be decided, and we at once determine what was the most literal sense of the texts, which speak of Christ's being declared to be the Son of God; of man's believing, or disbelieving that Jesus was the Son of God. If the great question was not concerning a literal Sonship of the Divinity of the Messiah; but concerning the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth; then what was said at that period, concerning his being the Son of God, decides nothing relative to their views of the ground of his Sonship; or of literal derivation of his Divinity from God, as from a father.
But this was the great point of contest at that day; Is this Jesus of Nazareth the Christ of God? The Jews denied; Jesus
JESUS CHRIST 15
John the Baptist from the prison proposed the very question of that day: "Art thou he, that should come? Or do we look for another?" The woman of Samaria says, "Come see a man, that told me all that ever I did: Is not this the Christ?" Let the Jews themselves decide this point. "Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him. How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly." And the Jews had agreed, that if any did confess him to be Christ, they should be put out of the synagogue. The high priest said to Christ, "I 'adjure thee, by the living God, that thou tell us, whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God." Christ said to his disciples, `' "But whom do ye say that I am? And Peter answereth --Thou art the Christ." No question relative to a literal Sonship of Christ's Divinity appears to be contained in these testimonies. But the question then in agitation was, relative to his being the Christ, and not an impostor. In Matt. xvi. 2O, the disciples were exhorted to "tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ." It was because Jesus laid claim to this high character, that
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56 NO BENEFIT FROM A
AMONG arguments which have been adduced, in favour of a derivation of the Divinity of Christ from God, are found such as the following, either expressed, or implied: -- That such a derivation would be most congenial to the idea of the divine paternal affection toward his Son; and most congenial to the idea of Christ's filial affection toward his Father: -- And that this scheme must magnify the love of God toward our fallen world; in that he would send a Son whose Divinity was derived from him, the Father, and therefore the most dear possible. That herein we may form a due estimate of the love of God to our sinful race: -- And that we can have no medium so suitable and striking, on any other plan, to lead us to form a suitable estimation of the love and grace of God, in the scheme of gospel salvation.
To creatures like men cloathed in flesh, circumscribed, and most sensibly impressed with the feelings of parental and filial affections, arguments like the above, ably expressed, may appear forcible. But in this thing we must not judge after the outward appearance; but must judge righteous judgment.
DERIVATION OF CHRIST'S DIVINITY 57
Why should a derivation of the Divinity of Christ be deemed necessary? Must Christ be unable to feel in the best possible manner, that affection toward God the Father, which is most becoming the mediatorial character, unless he is in his divine nature actually derived and dependent? Or must the Mediator, if he be of underived Divinity, be less capable of feeling that tender affection toward mankind, which if derived and dependent he might possess? Is the Father incapable of feeling, in the best possible manner, the most suitable parental affection toward the Person of the Mediator, unless he be literally a Father to the Divinity of Christ? It is said among men, people do not know the parental affection, till they learn it from experience. Can the same thing be applicable to the Most High? "He that formed the eye, shall he not see," unless he have material eyes? He that made the ear, shall he not hear, though he have no organ of hearing like our's? And he that implanted the parental affection, shall he not know what it is, even if he have not learned it, as
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