View of the Trinity
(2nd ed., Poultney, 1824)
VIEW OF THE TRINITY.
AND ON THE
TRINITY IN UNITY OF THE GODHEAD;
Quotations from the primitive fathers
BY ETHAN SMITH,
PASTOR OF A CHURCH IN POULTNEY, (VT.)
"Immanuel -- God with us."
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
"Because he believeth not the record that God
gave of his Son."
PUBLISHED AND PRINTED BY SMITH & SHUTE,
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District of Vermont, To wit:BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the seventeenth day of January, in the forty-eighth year of the independence of the United States of America, SMITH & SHUTE, of the said District, have deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words following, to wit: "View of the Trinity. -- A Treatise on the Character of Jesus Christ, and on the Trinity in Unity of the Godhead; with Quotations from the Primitive Fathers. Second edition. By ETHAN SMITH, Pastor of a church in Poultney, Vt. 'Immanuel, -- God with us.' 'In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.' 'Because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.'" In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled "An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned."
JESSE GOVE,A true copy of record, examined and sealed by
Clerk of the District of Vermont.
J. GOVE, Clerk.
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NATHANAEL EMMONS.Franklin, (Mass.) March 30, 1814."
Rev. Dr. Griffin's. -- "I have had the pleasure of hearing the Rev. E. Smith read a considerable part of his Treatise on the Character of Jesus Christ, and on the Trinity; and am one of those, who have urged him to lay this work before the public. In my opinion it is the most ample, consistent, and satisfactory exhibition of the Filiation of Christ, that I have seen. The author has evinced an extensive acquaintance with the holy scriptures, and indefatigable industry in collecting their testimony. In this age of error, I cannot but think that the publication of this work may be of essential service to the cause of truth; and do heartily wish it a general circulation, and the most distinguished success.
E. D. GRIFFIN.Boston, (Mass.) March 23, 1814."
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.
In view of the errors of the times, of those particularly which have been spreading for some time past in this region, I consider this little volume as an excellent and very seasonable antidote to the poison of these errors. It is a work honorable to the talents, the industry, the piety, and candor of its author.
In this publication, I consider Mr. Smith as having rendered essential service to the Christian public, and that he has merited their thanks and patronage. I earnestly wish it may be read by all on either side, who feel an interest in the existing controversy on these great and fundamental doctrines of the gospel of Christ.
JEDIDIAH MORSE.Charlestown, (Mass.) April 18, 1814."
Regardless of names, or titles of books, this treatise was designed to examine the new scheme; and to trace and refute its arguments. It was thought to be best calculated for good, to lead the attention of the reader abstractedly to the sentiments and arguments of our opponents; without any consideration of names, or authorities. This plan was pursued.
Most of the arguments and sentiments of this work are such as apply to Unitarians of every description;
whether Arian or Socinian; or to any new shade of either. The great doctrines of the Trinity in unity of the Godhead, and of the Divinity of Christ and of the Holy Ghost, notwithstanding what is said of Christ's dependence on the Father, both as a man and in his office of mediation, are capable of scriptural demonstrations; and must be viewed essential doctrines
The universe is full of mystery. Man is of yesterday, and knows nothing. If he have learned enough to take an intelligent survey of God's works, he is confounded wherever he turns his eyes. He looks at immensity of space, and is lost in wonder. He contemplates the planetary system, and the starry
viiiwith 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.
Many objections occur to men, less informed, relative to subjects proposed, which they deem unanswerable, or conclusive against the proposed point; but which objections, on better information, they find to be of no weight. Let many persons he informed, that there are thousands of people on the other side of the earth, directly opposite to us, with their feet towards ours, and their heads directly the other way; who yet feel themselves on the top of the globe, and think we are beneath them; and the account appears to these illiterate hearers impossible. They will make objections against it, which appear to them unanswerable; but at which the man of real information smiles.
How vain then, are the objections, made by worms of the dust, against what God has revealed of himself! Who can comprehend the infinite, eternal independent Jehovah? "Canst thou by searching find out God? -- It is high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than hell; what canst thou know?" "The world by wisdom knew not God." "The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." We are confounded, when we think of rational, spiritual essences. How infinitely more so,
ixwhen 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 hp, or be conceived in the heart.
Man is blessed with three sources of information; his senses, reason, and faith or Revelation. These rise above each other. The senses furnish materials for reason; and reason discovers the need and evidence of Revelation. But faith alone embraces the sublime dictates of Revelation. Reason judges, where the senses cannot perceive. And faith embraces what reason cannot suggest, much less comprehend. Sense and reason read the language of Revelation; and then must wait for faith adoringly to embrace what God suggests. Reason is never to be impertinent in her objections, or questions, when God speaks. This is leaving her province, and committing herself to the ocean of infidelity. Here is the fatal charybdis, which has ingulfed millions in skepticism and ruin.
Relative to the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ, of his Sonship, and of the Trinity in Unity of the Godhead, Revelation is our only guide. Find the plainest language of the Bible upon these points, and there we will hold; let whatever objections or difficulties
xseem 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; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
THE AUTHOR.Hopkinton, Feb, 12, 1812.
Section I.11 What was the great question concerning Jesus Christ, after he entered his public ministry?
Section II.19 On the Sonship of Christ.
Section III.35 Further remarks relative to the Sonship of Christ. - 35
Section IV.49 No benefit results from a supposed derivation of Christ's Divinity.
Section V.53 Proper Divinity is infinitely incapable of derivation.
Section VI.61 Jesus Christ is God underived.
Section VII.119 Jesus Christ has a human soul as well as body.
Section VIII.135 The Godhead consists of Trinity in Unity.
Section IX.175 Testimonies of the primitive Fathers, in favor of the doctrine of a Trinity in Unity in the Godhead, and of the proper Divinity of Christ.
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A variety of publications have appeared, insisting that Jesus Christ, in his highest mature, is literally the Son of God, as much as was Isaac the eon of Abraham, -- or Seth the son of Adam. To prove this proposition, the testimonies of Christ that he was the Son of God, and the questions and confessions of others in relation to the same point, in the first Christian age, are in these books adduced as direct in point, to prove such a literal derivation of Christ from God.
To ascertain whether there be any weight in such proof, we have first to ascertain what was the question concerning Jesus Christ, when he was on earth, and in the apostolic age.
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 is now to he 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 Messiah the Son of God? What is the mode of his divine existence? Was his Divinity derived? Or was it underived? Is it dependent? Or is it independent? Is it eternal? Or had it a beginning?
Was not this the great question of that day? Was he, who was born of Mary, and who was reputed to he 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 a 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 affirmed; and his miracles,
doctrines, life, death, resurrection, and ascension to glory, all united to evince the truth of his affirmation. When they asked Christ, "Art thou the Son of God? and he said, I am;" this was the meaning; Art thou the promised Messiah? and he said, I am.
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 Math. xvi. 20, 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 the high priest rent his clothes, in pretence of horror at the blasphemy; and not from any idea that Christ asserted a literal Sonship of his Divinity. The Jewish rulers said, and were vexed, that Christ's claim "made himself equal with God." And again; "Because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." Christ told them, If ye believe not that I am he (the true Messiah) ye shall not
die in your sins." He did not mean, if ye believe not that I am a derived, dependant being, ye shall die in your sins: But, if ye believe not that I am the true Messiah, ye shall die in your sins. He said again; "If any man will do his will, he shall know the doctrine, whether it be of God; or whether I speak of myself." Did Christ mean, that such an one should know, at once, that his Divinity was derived? Or that he should know, that his doctrine was the doctrine of God? The latter, most certainly! As John xx. 31, "These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God."
Now therefore, when we read of Christ's being "declared to be the Son of God with power;" and of the confession of some of the primitive converts, "I believe that Jesus is the Son of God;" we must conclude that the passages do not relate to a derivation of Christ's Divinity from God, as from a Father; but to the real Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth; and to there being salvation in him, and in him only. They relate to the same point, which Paul felt, when he was "pressed in spirit, and testified, that Jesus is the Christ." The evidence of this truth is ample. John says, "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God." Here was the great external criterion of that day. It was not to believe in a literal Sonship of Christ's Divinity; but to believe, that Christ had come in the flesh; or to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah; in opposition to the clamours of Jews and infidels, that Jesus was an impostor. The proper manifestation of this belief at that day, was far more unpopular and dangerous,
than is the support of any point of Christian doctrine, at this period. Hence, duly to maintain that profession, at that day, was viewed as the best external evidence of a gracious state. Accordingly, the same apostle says again, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God."
But when I remark, that a derivation of Christ's Divinity from God, as a son from a father, does not appear to have been any question at the commencement of the gospel day; but that the point in debate was, whether Jesus was the true Messiah? I do not mean to suggest, that this point, whether he was, or was not really God, was a matter of any degree of indifference; or was not understood and decided. I do not mean to admit, that the Arian, or Socinian, may receive any degree of countenance from the views of the people of that day. For this I do not believe. When the people were then taught, that Jesus was the Christ, the reference was immediately had to the Old Testament, to decide who the Christ was, as to his being and character. And this, in the question of that day, (whether Jesus was the Christ,) appears to have been taken as a point decided, that Christ was included in the true and living God. This appears to have been the case, from the remarks of the Jews, that his claiming to be the Messiah, was "making himself God;" also from the testimony of Thomas, when convinced of his Messiahship, "My Lord, and my God!" and from the tenor of the Old Testament language concerning the Messiah; as I shall have occasion to show. I see no room to doubt, that the general opinion at that day concerning the Messiah, was, that he is the "Mighty God; the Everlasting Father; the Jehovah of Hosts; the I AM; one with God; and really God. For they
had been taught all this in their holy scriptures. But when Jesus appeared, born and brought up among them, growing in wisdom and stature, like other children and youth, in a low grade of life, and perhaps laboring as a mechanic; -- it seemed to the haughty Jews impossible, that this should be that "Mighty God, and Everlasting Father," expected as the Messiah! This, together with his administration's, being so diverse from their fond preconceived notions of their own temporal aggrandizement under the reign of the Messiah, led them to "stumble at that stumbling stone." They would not believe that this was the Messiah. Hence this became the very question of the day. And those who properly received Jesus as the Christ, received him in the very character, in which he had been held up in the Old Testament. Christ said to the Jews, "Search the scriptures: for -- they are they that testify of me." And they did testify, that he was one with God, and was God; the I AM; the Jehovah of Hosts; the God of Israel, as will be shown under the section on the Divinity of Christ.
The Jews had been abundantly taught, through the law and the prophets, that they must "worship the Lord their God, and him only." "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me," was a prime article in their law. Yet when one and another embraced the sentiment, that Jesus was the Christ, they made no scruple of paying him divine honors.
This shows, that they understood their scriptures to teach, that Christ is one with God, included in the pronoun ME in the first command, before whom no other, under the name of God, was to be admitted; and that he was thus included in the Lord their God, whom only they should serve. This accounts far even the most incredulous of
the apostles warmly acknowledging him, "My Lord, and my God." But no account could be given of all this, if the Jews had viewed the Messiah to be a distinct Being from the one only living and true God.
The Jews, it is believed, held to a Trinity in the Godhead. The idea that they did not, can by no means be admitted; notwithstanding all that infidel Jews, of later date, have suggested. Their scriptures did teach a Trinity in the Godhead: -- God, the Prince of Peace, and the Spirit of the Lord. We may safely presume, that the pious Jews did believe their own scriptures in this point, as well as others.
The celebrated Bishop Horsley, (in answer to the idea in Dr. Priestly, that the doctrine of the Trinity is an obstacle to the conversion of the Jews,) says, "In their most ancient Targums, as well as in allusions in their sacred books, they, (the Jews at the time of their restoration) will find the notion of one Godhead in a Trinity of Persons. And they will perceive that it was in contradiction to the Christians, that later rabbins abandoned the notion of their forefathers." -- Hence the bishop speaks of it, as a "wretched expedient," to' deny the doctrine of the Trinity with a view to encourage the restoration of the Jews. And he adds, "the Unitarian scheme of Christianity is the last therefore, to which the Jews are likely to be converted; as it is most at enmity with their ancient faith." This author again says, "the deification of the Messiah, was not that, which gave offence to the Jews; but the assertion, that a crucified man was that divine Person." And again. "The Jews in Christ's day had notions of a Trinity in the divine nature. They expected the second Person, whom they
called the Logos, to come as the Messiah. For the proof of these assertions, (he says) I will refer you to the works of a learned Doctor Peter Allix, entitled, The Judgment of the ancient Jewish church against the Unitarians. An anonymous work, (the Bishop further adds) entitled, Historical Vindication, or The naked Gospel; supposed to have been written by Le Clerc, printed in 1690, in vindication of Unitarians, acknowledged, that the Jews were Trinitarians: But says, they derived it from the Platonic philosophy; -- as did the first Christians from the same Platonism of the Jews." * The fact, that the Jews were Trinitarians, is all we wish. We shall form our own opinion relative to the source, whence they, and the first Christians, derived the sentiment.
The evidence I conceive to be very ample, that the great point in dispute, when Christ appeared in the flesh, was, Is this the Messiah? Is this Jesus, that sacred Person, who is to be known under the divine designation of the Son of God? If the affirmative were granted, they had no further dispute who he was. He was the Logos; the second Person in the Trinity of heaven; one with God. Hence the Jewish rulers charged him, that he being a man, made himself God: And again, making himself equal with God."
No declaration then, of Christ, or of others, at that day, that Christ was the Son of God, affords the least evidence in favor of a literal derivation, of his Divinity from God, as a son from a father; nor of his inferiority to the Father. And all attempts to obtain evidence in this way, in favor of such a derivation, are illusory and vain.
* Tracts, p. 216.
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Jesus Christ is called the Son of God. Much we read of his Sonship, and of his divine Father. Are we not hence taught, that Christ, in his divine nature, was derived from God, as really as was Isaac from Abraham? Answer. Merely Christ's being called the Son of God, leads to no such conclusion. There are children constituted, as well as children derived. Yea, there are children in figures as well as literal children. God is "the father of the rain, and begets the drops of the dew," -- because he produces them. Angels are called the sons of God, because he formed them in his own image. Adam for the same reason is called the son of God. Men are said to be God's offspring. Christians are peculiarly the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty, because they are adopted into his family; -- possess his Spirit; -- cry Abbe, Father; and he is making them meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.
The circumstance then, of Christ's being called the Son of God, no more necessarily implies that his Divinity was derived from God, than the term when applied to other beings implies that they were literally derived from the divine nature. No doubt there is a peculiarity in Christ's relation to
God, as a Son. He is hence called God's own Son; -- his only Son; -- his only begotten. But those phrases do not necessarily enforce the idea, that the Divinity of Christ was derived from God. And other scriptures utterly forbid such an idea, as I shall endeavor in future pages to make appear. The Divinity of Christ is "without father, without mother, without descent; having neither beginning of days, nor end of time."
What sentiments then, does the word of God furnish, relative to the Sonship of Jesus Christ? It teaches that Christ is a Son (in a sense) literally; and also he is figuratively the Son of God. He has two natures in his one Person. One of them was begotten of God, in the womb of the virgin Mary; -- which is a reason, expressly assigned by God himself, why Christ is called the Son of God. And Christ in both his natures, Divine and human, was, as our Mediator, inducted -- constituted -- begotten -- into his mediatory office, in which he was perfectly obedient to God, as a perfect son obeying a father. And Christ was begotten (raised) from the dead, to his inheritance in glory; as I shall endeavor to show.
The Sonship of Christ clearly originates in his being begotten of God. This is decided by inspiration: Psalm ii. 7; "I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." Find the fulfilment then, of this passage, and we infallibly find the true origin of Christ's Sonship. It is evident that this passage in the second Psalm was a prediction of something then future. The event predicted existed at the time when David wrote the Psalm, only in the divine counsel; It was in the eternal counsel of God, that the second Person in the Trinity should become a Mediator, and be
known as the Son of God. In this sense, he was "the eternal Son of God." But the actual event, noted in this Psalm as the only ground of Christ's Filiation, was then only in decree. Ascertain therefore, when and how it was fulfilled; and the true origin of the Sonship is ascertained. But we find it clearly ascertained when, and how it was fulfilled. It was not at some period before the foundation of the world. It was not in the ancient times of the Old Testament. It was when the fulness of time was come for the Messiah to appear. The text is applied by the Holy Ghost, to the time and manner of Christ's coming in the flesh; or his miraculous conception; to his induction into his office, as the Prophet, and especially the High Priest of his people; and to his resurrection from the dead, and exaltation to glory. To the first it was applied, as in a sense literally fulfilled; and therefore in a sense which exhibits the primary reason of the Mediator's being called, the Son of God. And to the two other occasions above hinted, the noted text in the second Psalm is applied, as in a figurative sense fulfilled. We find the humanity of Christ begotten, at the time of his coming in the flesh. We also find the Person of the Mediator represented as begotten, by induction into his public character, especially as High Priest. And we find him represented as "begotten from the dead," and to his inheritance in glory, when he passed from his humiliation, to his exaltation.
Where the character, relation and circumstances of father and son are perfect, the relation of son involves the three ideas of generation, filial obedience, and inheritance. The first is essential to a literal son. And the second is involved, where the character and circumstances are perfect.
Such a son will certainly obey his father. This is essential to the filial heart, and the perfect filial character. And inheriting the father's property occurs to the mind, with no less force, as connected with the relation of a son, when character and circumstances are perfect. And to these three points, relative to Christ, the Holy Ghost clearly applies the prediction of God's begetting his Son. Let these three points be distinctly noted.
1. God miraculously occasioned the conception of the humanity of Christ. He thus fulfilled the prediction in the second Psalm. And hence Christ is the Son of God. This is the primary, the original ground of Christ's Sonship; as is fully decided by the Angel Gabriel in his interview with Mary. Before I note this interview, I shall adduce one preceding scriptural testimony; that the language of Gabriel may he better understood. The first sacred passage, where the relation of Father and Son between two of the Persons in the Trinity is noticed, is in 2 Sam. ii. 14. "I will be his Father, and he shall be my Son." This is repeated in 1 Chron. xxii. 10. "He shall build an house for my name, and he shall be my Son, and I will be his Father." This was spoken primarily of the son of David. It related typically to Solomon; but really to Christ. Hence the apostle, in his first chapter to the Hebrews, when he was adducing various sacred passages from the Old Testament, to ascertain the character of Christ, quotes this passage; verse 5; "And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son." Upon this text let it be noted,
When God spake these words to David, it was a prediction of an event then future, as it related to Christ, as much as it was in relation to Solomon.
The time should come when God would be the Father of Christ, and Christ should be God's Son. No indication is here found that God was at that time the literal Father of the Logos then in heaven. There is no such indication of a derivation of Christ's Divinity from God. Yea, its being predicted as a future event, that such a relation should exist, implied that no such relation did then exist.
The Greek of this quotation from Samuel is such as well to accord with the idea, that the relation of Father and Son, between these persons in the Trinity, was to be a constituted relation at a time then future. The quotation is in the words of the Septuagint, which translation the Holy Ghost here, and often sanctioned by quoting it. And a literal translation of the Greek text is as follows: "I will be to him (Christ) for a Father; and he shall be to me for a Son." * This phraseology, no doubt, gives the true sense of Christ's filiation; and is different from what would most naturally express the relation of Father and Son, had this relation been then actually in existence; or the Divinity of Christ had been derived as a Son from God.
I now proceed to note the interview of Gabriel with Mary. Luke i. 31-35. "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; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever: And of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the Angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the Angel answered and said unto her, The Holy
* "Ego essomai auto eis Patera; kai autos estai moi eishuion."
Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore, also, that Holy thing, that shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God." We may believe Gabriel had in view here the noted prediction in the second Psalm; "Thou art my Son; to-day have I begotten thee." His language with the virgin is a comment upon this very passage. As though he had said, The time has now arrived when God is going to fulfil upon you, the most highly favored one among women, this his ancient prediction, relative to the Messiah. The first passage in the New Testament decides this point, in these words; "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ." -- q. d. I am now introducing the history of God's fulfilment of the ancient prediction relative to his begetting his Son: Upon which he proceeds to note the miraculous conception, as the first and essential thing in "the generation of Jesus Christ."
Upon the words of Gabriel, in his interview with Mary, let the following things be noted: --
If Christ in his divine nature were literally the Son of God, and men ought thus to believe; -- why was not direct information here given, that the Person then in heaven, and who was about to condescend to be born of Mary, was the Son of God?
Why is it said only, that the holy thing to be born of her should be called the Son of the Highest, -- the Son of God? This conversation was not calculated to impress an idea, that the Logos then in heaven was the Son of God, as being derived from him; but that the time was then at hand, when this relation of Father and Son should be actually formed. God was now about to be to the divine Person, who had engaged to become a Mediator, for a Father; and this divine Person was about to be to this Father, for a Son.
The Angel assigns the primary reason, why the Logos appearing in the flesh should be called the Son of God. "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also, that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." What occasion, or right, has man to inquire for any reason anterior to the one so naturally assigned here by the Angel, as the origin of the Sonship of Christ? Does not the heavenly Agent assign the primary and true ground of his Filiation? Who shall dare to assign an essential ground of Christ's Sonship anterior to this; and call on men to receive such a sentiment as an important article of the Christian faith? One might think that if God would send an Angel from heaven, to give express information of the origin of Christ's Filiation, it might be sufficient; that man might confide in a point so decided; and that he would not dare to call on others to believe in an anterior ground of Christ's Filiation. "Who has been God's counsellor, or taught him wisdom?" If it were a duty to believe in such an anterior ground of Sonship in Christ, the words of the Angel to Mary are sadly calculated to mislead; and man would need to be cautioned against receiving them in their most evident import.
It was just now hinted, that in the beginning of the New Testament, we learn the sense of the noted passage, Psalm ii. 7, relative to Christ's being begotten of God. Matt. i. 1; "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ." -- i. e. The book in which the true sense of Christ's being begotten of God, is unfolded. Here then, surely, we must look, to find the correct view of his divine generation. But what do we here find? -- an account of the generation of Christ's divine nature, before the
foundation of the world? Not a word, which bears the least resemblance to it. But the writer proceeds and gives an account of the genealogy and generation of his humanity; of his induction into office; and his glorification. After giving his lineal descent, he says; "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise;" and proceeds to note the miraculous conception of his humanity; and circumstances attending; and says; "Now all this was clone, that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, "Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." Here is "the generation of Jesus Christ." Who will presume to say, that he has a generation far more ancient, and more important than what is here given? one that respects a literal producing of his divine nature, at some period before the creation or the world? Where is the least evidence found to support such a proposition? I have never been able to discover it. And it does not become man to be wise against, nor above what is written. The celebrated Bishop Horsley upon this subject says. "The Son of God is a title, which belongs to our Lord in his human character, describing him as that man, who became the Son of God, by union with the Godhead." * This is indeed the origin of Christ's Sonship, as is taught in "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ."
The prophet enquires, Isaiah liii. 8, relative to Christ; "Who shall declare his generation?" Upon which some have remarked, that Christ's generation is indescribable; but he has a generation, which relates to his divine nature; though
* Posth. Ser. vol. 1. p. 93,94. Am. Ed.
none can describe it. This seems plausible. But it needs examination. The generation of Christ, in this passage, does not relate to the generation of his person, or nature, divine nor human. The sense of the passage we learn from a parallel passage, Psalm xxii. 30. An affecting account of Christ's sufferings had there been given. And to console the heart of the pious reader, it is promised, as a blessed consequence of his passion, that "a seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation;" i. e. a numerous progeny, or race. The word generation is often used in this sense, to denote a progeny, or family. The poet gives the true sense of this passage;
From his expiring; groans;
They shall be reckoned in his eyes
For daughters and for sons."
So in the parallel passage under consideration in, Isaiah: An amazing description is given of the sufferings of Christ. And the prophet adds; "He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare his generation?" His trials were vast. And who can calculate the extensive and glorious consequences, in the seed, who shall serve him, and who shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation? This appears the plain sense of the passage. Accordingly, the celebrated Pool remarks upon it. "Christ's death shall not be unfruitful. When he is raised from the dead, he shall have a spiritual seed; as is promised, verse 10; When he shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed: -- A numberless multitude of those who shall believe on him, and be regenerated, and adopted by him into the number of his children." Mr. Scott (another celebrated expositor)
says, "The original word for generation (here) is seldom if ever used in this sense; (i. e. of a proper generation) so that modern interpreters generally dissent from the ancients."
But if any, after all, imagine, that the text, "Who shall declare his generation?" must relate to a literal generation of the person of Christ, then the answer to the question, Who shall declare his generation? is now furnished: -- God inspired the evangelists to declare it; to write "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ." The apostle teaches, that there were mysteries, concerning Jesus Christ, hid from past ages; but now made manifest under the gospel. This generation of Christ, if it must be understood literally, must be one of those mysteries, now revealed by the evangelist, and the conversation of the Angel with Mary. But no derivation of Christ's Divinity from God is hinted in the passage.
2. We find the noted prediction of the generation of Christ, on which his Filiation rests, applied by the Holy Ghost (as at least in a figurative sense fulfilled) at his designation to his mediatorial work, especially that of our great High Priest. It was as the Son of God, that Christ must obey the Father, and atone for the sins of the world. It was to be the Son, whom the Father (in the plenitude of paternal affection) could not spare from death, when he had taken the place of the sinner; but must be freely delivered up for us all. It was a Son, who must be sent forth, not only made of a woman, but made under the law, to redeem them who were under the law, by the sacrifice of himself, that we might receive the adoption of sons. It must appear that God so loved the world, that he sent his only begotten Son, to die as our High Priest, as a propitiation for sin, that whosoever believeth
on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Now therefore, the designation of the Person of the Messiah to this course of filial obedience and sufferings, must be represented as a further and figurative fulfilment of the noted prediction in the second Psalm. Accordingly, in Heb. v. 4, after speaking of men's being ordained of God as high priests, who can have compassion on the weak, we read; "And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that was called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an High Priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee." Here it seems as though the designation of Christ to the work of High Priest, is figuratively represented as God's begetting him. Christ made not himself an High Priest; but He, who made or constituted him thus, -- it seems as though the text were going to say. But instead of expressing this, it is expressed, "He that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee." The begetting, in the text then, seems to stand exactly in the place of God's constituting, or inducting him. Which shows that the latter is figuratively represented by the former. Accordingly, when Christ was inducted into his public ministry by baptism, and the holy unction performed by the Holy Ghost, -- the voice from heaven came, in allusion to the same noted prediction in the second Psalm, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." q. d. This Person, in his humanity, I have begotten in the womb of the virgin; and his Person, as Mediator, I have now figuratively begotten into his office of High Priest; and in this his office I am well pleased, and am ready to reconcile the world to myself. He is a "Priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec."
3. We find the noted prediction of the generation of Christ, on which his Filiation rests, applied lĽy the Holy Ghost, as in some figurative sense fulfilled, by his resurrection from the dead, and induction to his inheritance. Christ, after having been delivered for our offences, was raised again for our justification, by the power of God, and was exalted to his inheritance in glory, as the Heir of all things. And upon this event the apostle says; Acts xiii. 32, 33; "And 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." Here again the Holy Ghost announces a fulfilment of the noted prediction of the generation of Christ, in au event subsequent to his coming in the flesh. He applies it, as receiving a figurative and a final fulfilment, in the resurrection and exaltation of Christ to his inheritance of glory. Christ was begotten -- produced -- brought from the regions of the dead, to the throne of the universe, at his Father's right hand, as the Heir of all things. This was the third and last step in that series of events, which was to present the Son of God, the King of Israel, the Saviour of the world, as complete in his mediatorial kingdom, -- in the possession of his inheritance of glory. And it is noted as the finishing of the fulfilment of the noted prediction in the second Psalm. Accordingly, Christ is called, Rev. i. 5, "the first begotten of the dead." And in Col. i. 18, "the first born from the dead." Here the same figure is pursued. Christ was the resurrection and the life; the first fruits of them that slept; the rising of the Head from the tomb, as an earnest that all the members
shall follow. And this event, of Christís rising and exaltation, is noted as the finishing of his generation; the closing scene of the fulfilment of Psalm ii. 7. Accordingly a declaration is made, as it were, at the grave's mouth, of his Filiation, in the following words: "Declared to be the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead." And a declaration had before been made of the same thing, by anticipation, on the mount, when Jesus was transfigured. There, by prolepsis, the curtain of heaven was, as it were drawn, and Jesus was presented, to chosen witnesses, in his robe of glory, as though the work was done, and he had reached the inheritance and the throne. And the voice, from the excellent Majesty above, declared that Filiation, which rested on his being begotten of God; "This is my beloved Son; hear ye him." Here is the Person exhibited, by anticipation, as in glory, and completely that Son of God, in his Father's inheritance, so long predicted and expected.
In Psalm lxxxix. 19-37, we have farther light upon this subject. Christ is here predicted under the name of David, his type. "Then thou speakest in vision to thy Holy One; thou saidst, I have laid help on one mighty to save; I have exalted one chosen out of the people." A description of Christ, and his kingdom, follows. In verse 36 it is said; "He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the Rock of my Salvation." His being begotten, and his consequent Filiation then follows. "I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth." In the Hebrew the my before first-born is not found. The sense is not this, I will make him, who is my first-born, higher than the kings of the earth, the plain sense is as follows; I will make --
constitute -- or beget him first-born; -- alluding to his being heir of all things; and hence it is added, "higher than the kings of the earth." Here the event as in Psalm ii. 7, was future. It was a thing to be accomplished, when the fulness of time should come, for God to be manifest in the flesh. Then it was that God would beget his Son, and make the Mediator first-born, and exalt him to glory, as King of kings, and Lord of lords.
Thus the passages in the Old Testament, which speak of Christ's Filiation, and the origin of it, are by the Spirit of Inspiration construed as predictions of events then future, and actually fulfilled after the fulness of time came for God to be manifest in the flesh. And never is the least intimation given, that those passages relate to any derivation of the Divinity of Christ from God, at some period then past. Nor do they admit of such a construction. We find no hint of such a thing. The apostle says, Gal. iv, 4; "But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman; made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." Here we learn how Christ became God's Son. He was "made of a woman;" and "made under the law." He was God's Son, because God begat his humanity; and because he was made a Priest under the law, to obey and to atone. The many scriptures in the New Testament, which speak of God as the Father of Christ; and which speak of Christ as the Son of God, and as the begotten of the Father, must surely be so construed as to accord with the sense of those primitive texts, in the Old Testament, which have been noticed; and which the Holy Ghost has decided, do apply to the coming of Christ in the flesh, and to subsequent events, which have been
noted. We are thus furnished with an infallible clue, by which to find the true sense of the many passages in the New Testament, which relate to the Sonship of Christ. They can have no relation to any event before the world was; such as a derivation of the Divinity of our Saviour from God. They can have no relation to any Filiation of Christ, not founded in that divine generation of him in the second Psalm, which has been explained.
Objection. But is not this giving up a great argument, on which reliance has been made by Trinitarians, to prove the real Divinity of Jesus Christ?
Answer. We have conclusive arguments enough, to prove the eternal and proper Divinity of Christ. We need no lame arguments. The supposition, that Christ in his highest nature is derived from God, is so far from proving his real Divinity, that it fully disproves it. It supposes the Divinity of Christ to be infinitely posterior, and infinitely inferior to the Father 5 and therefore, that he is at an infinite remove from being truly God. The truth of this deduction is demonstrated, prima facie, in its own statement. The idea, that as a man propagates his offspring, who becomes a real man, equal to his father; so God has propagated his divine offspring, who has become really God; is an awful absurdity! The heathen used to imagine that their gods propagated their various species. Families of gods existed in the imaginations of the poets. And, what was very congenial to this opinion, they supposed their gods to have had goddesses; and that these celestial pairs were possessed of all the passions incident to man. Being familiar with these opinions from childhood, it would not have been strange, if some of the primitive proselytes to Christianity, hearing that Christ is
the Son of God, should annex this idea to the phrase, and imagine that the divine Person of Christ was literally derived from God, as a son from his father, in some mysterious sense, while yet Christ was eternal. But such a derivation of a Person truly divine, is impossible; as I shall endeavour to show in a subsequent section.
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If the Divinity of Christ were literally propagated by the Most High, in some period before the creation of the world; and this be an important point to be believed; why was it not clearly revealed in the Old Testament? How strange, that we should find there so little, if any clear evidence, that the relation of Father and Son then actually existed between the two first Persons in the sacred Trinity! We find those two Persons (and the three divine Persons in the Godhead) abundantly noted in the Old Testament. But we have no conclusive evidence in that sacred book, that a literal Father and Son then existed among them. The Mediator himself is there predicted, as the "everlasting Father;" Isai. ix. 6; yet not so in the economy of Grace. In the Hebrew it is, "The Father of eternity;" which shows that he is the infinite God indeed!
In the fore-noted text, 2 Sam. vii. 14; we have no intimation, (as has been remarked,) that God was then actually Father to the Logos, or Messiah, in Heaven. But that this relation should be manifested, in due time. In the other text, Psalm ii. 7, it has been shown that the relation of Father and Son was not revealed as existing at that time, only io the divine purpose. And that this divine
purpose was primarily fulfilled when Christ's humanity was divinely begotten.
In the prediction noted, Psalm lxxxix. 27, Christ's Sonship was a relation then future. "I will make him first-born." "He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father." By many titles the Mediator was known in the Old Testament; but never by the title of Son, as being then actually the Son of God. Christ was known as the Seed of the woman (who was to come) the Seed of Abraham, Shiloh, the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel, the Star to arise, the Prophet to be raised up, the Lord's Anointed, Immanuel, or God with as, the Messiah, the Messenger of the covenant, the Angel, the Angel of God's presence, the Ancient of days, the Branch, the Sun of righteousness, the Desire of all nations, the chief corner Stone, Elect, Precious, God's Servant, Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, a Leader and Commander of his people, a Covenant, Michael, the Lord, Jehovah, the Jehovah of hosts, the Redeemer, the Holy One, a Refuge, a Rod from the stem of Jesse, I Am, I Am that I Am, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of your fathers. -- These last mentioned titles of God, the Angel of the Lord, in the burning bush, assumed, as will be noted in a future section. Some of these titles indicated what the Mediator then was; the infinite, eternal God: And others, what he should be demonstrated to be, when he should be manifest in the flesh, and known as the Son of God. But among all his many titles, he was never represented, as then actually the Son of God in heaven. Christ was then no more actually the Son of God, than he was actually the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the seed of David, the Branch,
or any other name, fulfilled only when he appeared in the flesh.
Two texts, which have been supposed by some to speak of Christ, as being then the Son of God, I think have been misapplied. Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, relative to the persons, whom he beheld in his fiery furnace, that the form of the fourth was like unto the Son of God. But who could this heathen idolater mean, by the Son of God? He must have meant, some son of some god. What did he know of the God of Israel? or of the expected Messiah? He believed in heathen gods and goddesses; and in their propagation of their offspring. And his guilty conscience and frightened imagination suggested to him, that this miraculous deliverer of the victims of his impious rage, must be a son of a god; probably of the God of Israel. But we cannot learn from this confession of a heathen, who then had his vassal subjects convened before him to worship a golden god; -- and had just tauntingly said to them, Who is that god, that shall deliver you out of my hands? that the Messiah of the Jews was known, as being then actually the Son of God; and so familiarly known too, as that this idolater in a heathen land, would recognize him at first sight, and so readily speak of him under this title. To me this is utterly incredible.
In Prov. xxx. 4, we read, "Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name? Or what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?" Some may imagine the son here means the Son of God? But I think this is not the case. The subject of the inquiry, in this text, is not God, but man.
What man can you imagine has done these things? This appears evident from the words of Christ, John iii. 13, where, in allusion to this text, he says, "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, who is in heaven." And as the subject of inquiry, in that text, is a man; so the son spoken of must be the son of the same man. Accordingly, an eminent expositer gives this paraphrase upon the passage: "If thou think there be any such man, who can do these things, I challenge thee to produce his name. Or if he be long since dead, and gone out of the world, produce the name of any of his posterity, who can assure us that their progenitor was such? person." But if the Son in this passage mean Christ, he was then n Son only by prolepsis, as he was the son of David; because he was to appear in this character.
In Hosea xi. 1, we read, "When Israel was a child, then I loved him and called my Son out of Egypt." So far as this relates to Christ, and is applied to him by the evangelist, "Out of Egypt have I called my Son," it is a prolepsis; or a previous calling of Christ, God's Son, because he was to be known as the Son of God, when the passage, as it related to Christ, should be fulfilled, by his actually coming from Egypt. But the text in Hosea, to which the evangelist alludes, conveys no idea, that the Messiah in heaven, when the words were spoken, was God's Son. And the allusion of the evangelist to the words, above noted, does not convey such an idea. The word son there literally relates to Israel, who was God's son, his first-born; see Exodus iv. 22, 23.
The above remark may suggest the true exposition of the only three remaining texts, in the Testament, in which the Mediator may by
any be supposed to be spoken of, as the Son of God. These three relate immediately to Gospel times, when Christ was to be known as the Son of God. Isai. ix. 6, "For unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder." -- Surely this related to the time when Christ should be manifested in the flesh. And if the Son, in this text, mean Son of God, it seems to me so far from indicating, that he, in his divine nature then in heaven, was literally the Son of God, that it clearly indicates, that he wag not to be known as really the Son of God, till he was the "Child born." "Unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given." Ezek. xxi. 10. predicting the destruction of the Jews first by the king of Babylon, but ultimately by God's great and sharp sword, the Romans, it is said, "It condemneth the rod of my son as every tree." I apprehend the term son here has no relation to Christ, but to the Jews. Israel was called God's son; Exodus iv. 22, 23; "Thus shalt thou say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my first-born. And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me. And if thou refuse to let him go, behold I will slay thy son, even thy first-born." It is in immediate allusion to this passage, that we read in the fore-cited passage in Hosea, "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." And it is natural to suppose the passage under consideration, "It condemneth the rod of my son as every tree," is an allusion to the same text, and means the Jews. The translators understood it so; and hence wrote the word son without a capital. But should any say, it may mean Christ: I answer; It may typically, and by a prolepsis. Christ was known as the Son of God, when the
text was fulfilled in the destruction of the Jews by God's sword, the Romans. And both the Jews and the Romans did, at that time, contemn Christ.
The only remaining text in the Old Testament, where Christ is spoken of as a Son, is most evidently a prolepsis; speaking of him as Son, because he would be known, as the Son of God, when that prophecy should be fulfilled. This is in the second Psalm. This Psalm is a prediction of Christ's coming in the flesh, and of gospel times. The apostle applies the beginning of the Psalm to the raging of the enemies of Christ under the Gospel. Acts iv. 25, "Who by the mouth of thy servant David hath said, Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things. The kings of the earth stood up. and their rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ." He proceeds to note the conduct of Herod, Pontius Pilate, and the people of Israel, in their treatment of Christ, as forming a fulfilment of the passage. The Psalmist proceeds to predict the impious language of the enemies of Christ, both of the infidel Jews, and of the atheistical Antichrist of the last days; to predict the extent of Christ's kingdom, to the uttermost parts of the earth; (an event never fulfilled under the Old Testament) and to predict Christ's dashing his enemies to pieces with a rod of iron; first the Jews, and then the antichristian nations, as we may conceive; upon which the nations, at that period of judgments, are warned, and exhorted to "serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling; kiss the Son; lest he be angry, and ye perish." -- The whole was a prediction of events under the Gospel, when Christ is to be known, as the Son of God. He is in this passage called the
Son, in relation to that then far distant event; precisely as in verse 7th, before cited, his appearing in the flesh was predicted. But no passage in this Psalm does by any means decide, that the Messiah, then in heaven, was, in his divine Person, literally the Son of God. And we find no intimation of such a thing in the Old Testament. But how can this be accounted for, if the Person of the Mediator, then in heaven, were literally the Son of God?
The two first Persons in the Godhead are, in the Old Testament, abundantly known by other titles: but never by Father and Son. They are called God, and the Lord; or God, and Jehovah; God, and Immanuel; the Lord, and his Anointed; God, and the Angel of the covenant; God, and the Jehovah of hosts; God, and the Captain of the Lord's hosts; God, and the Angel of his presence; but never the Father and the Son. The exhibition of this relation was deferred to the time of Immanuel's appearing in the flesh. Then it was, that he should be made first-born. Then the infallible voice from on high should testify to the fulfilment of the decree, of God's begetting him, and owning him for a Son. These things do not seem to indicate, that a belief in an actual Sonship or derivation of the Divinity of Christ, is to be an article of the Christian faith. Had it been thus, we might expect to have found it clearly taught in the Old Testament, and that the Son of God would have been the great title, by which Christ would have been known under that dispensation.
The title of Son, under the gospel, is only one among many of the mediatory titles of Christ. And is much more frequently spoken of, under some of his other titles, than under that of the Son of God. He is called the Son of man nearly twice as often. John (who it is said wrote his
gospel with a peculiar view to evince the Divinity of Christ) first calls him the Logos, the Word, who (he says) was in the beginning with God, and was God; and by whom all things were made. Why did he not here, when introducing the very Person, whose Divinity he was going to substantiate, (and did in the very first sentence assert,) give him his great and appropriate title, the Son of God, if his divine nature were actually derived? If such a Sonship were indeed Christ's highest glory, and were to be a prime article in the Christian faith, why should we not here at least, find it to be the title, under which the Person of the Messiah is introduced? Is it not natural to expect, that John would here give to Christ his highest title? The title here actually given by John to Christ, when he informs, that he was with God, and was God, is the same with that given to Christ, as One in the Trinity, 1 John v. 7: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are One." * And the title here given is the same with that, under which Christ appears, when, as the Captain of salvation, he is riding forth upon his white horse of victory, at the battle of the great day of God Almighty, Rev. xix. 13; "And his name is called the Word of God."
But when this divine Logos appeared in the flesh, then he was to be known as the Son of God. Then he was to be exhibited, as being begotten of God, and made God's first-born. Accordingly from that time he was often called the Son of God. And thus John proceeds to inform; "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld
* The objections against the authority of this text will be considered in their place, in a future section.
his glory, as the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Here the writer was preparing the way to have this Logos, after he appeared in the flesh, called the Son of God, as he afterwards often calls him. He then says, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. * The Logos, now manifest in the flesh, and who has thus become the only begotten of God, he hath declared God. Here John gives the transition, from the Mediator's being the Logos in heaven, one with God, and really God; to his becoming God manifest in the flesh, and known as the Son of God. John, after this, often speaks of Christ as the Son of God.
These remarks will unfold the sense of some other scriptures, which, at first view, seem to imply, that Christ was known as actually the Son of God, before his incarnation.
* "No man hath seen God at any time." This clause furnishes no objection against the real and proper Divinity of Jesus Christ. Pure Deity is an infinite Spirit, invisible. The Divinity of Christ, and of the Holy Ghost, as well as that of the Father, is thus: No man ever saw the Divinity of Christ, with the bodily eye. But Christ has assumed a medium, which men have literally beheld. We see not a human soul. But we see a man by the medium of his body. The divine Logos, when he would appear to man, under the Old Testament, ever assumed some miraculous appearance, as a medium, which man might behold. This, as well as his body, in after days, was seen; while yet it is a truth, that "No man hath seen God at any time." And yet Christ is the true and the great God. Christ declared, "He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father also." And of the Jews; -- "They have both seen and hated both me and my Father." Yet, "No man hath seen God at any time." The seeing in this latter text means seeing pure Divinity with the bodily eye. But the Jews had seen Christ and the Father, in the miracles and wonders, which had evinced their Divinity and the truth of their doctrines. Those texts then are no contradiction. And no evidence is furnished in them against the pure Divinity of Christ.
"Unto the Son, God saith, Thy throne O God, is forever and ever." This, at first thought, seems to imply, that Christ was the Son, when God thus addressed him: "Unto the Son, God saith" -- The sense of the passage is this: Unto the divine Logos in heaven, but now known as the Son, God saith. This is evident from the passage in the Old Testament here quoted, where God thus addressed the Person now called the Son. The passage is Psalm xlv. 6; "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre." Neither in this passage, nor in its contexts, is any mention made of a Son. The Mediator is there spoken of as the King, fairer than the children of men; and the most Mighty. But now being known as the Son of God, the apostle says, "Unto the Son, God saith" -- i. e. unto David's King, who is the Most Mighty, but now known as the Son, God spake the words.
Again we read; "When he bringeth his first Begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the Angels of God worship him." This, it may be said, seems to imply, that Christ was God's first Begotten before he was brought into the world; or his divine Person was the Son of God, while in heaven, before his incarnation. But the passage quoted teaches no such thing; therefore the quotation can mean no such thing. The passage quoted is in Psalm xcvii, where nothing is found of a first Begotten. The Person there, who in the quotation to the Hebrews, is called God's first Begotten, is called the Lord, or Jehovah, reigning with clouds and darkness round about him, but righteousness and judgment being the habitation of his throne. "A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about. His lightning lightened the world; the earth saw it and
trembled. The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. Confounded be all they, that worship graven images, that boast themselves of idols; Worship him, all ye gods;" or Angels -- (as the Septuagint, and the apostle in the above quotation, render it.) Not a word is said here of the Messiah's being at that time God's first Begotten. Here he is the great and infinite Jehovah of the whole earth, in all the glory of the true God. But when God becomes manifest in the flesh, then the Father saith, "And let all the angels of God worship him." And he is now presented, in humanity, as God's first Begotten.
Again. "God so loved the world, that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Let the passages just explained by their primitive texts, decide the sense of this. Yea, let John, in his introduction of the Messiah, decide the sense of it. God so loved the world, that he sent his beloved and adorable Logos, who was in the beginning with God. and was God, one with the Father; hut who was now in human nature manifest to his people, as God's only begotten Son. The title under which he is now known, is given; but not the title, under which he was known, or which did apply to his Divinity, when God determined to send him.
The apostle, Gal. iv. 4, affords a clew to explain this point. "But when the fulness of time was come. God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." -- Here, when the time of the
promise arrived, God sent his Son. How was the Person, who was now sent, God's Son? The passage informs; "made of a woman; made under the law;" to redeem and save. Christ here was made the Son of God, by the miraculous producing of his humanity from the virgin Mary, that he might do the work of the Mediator; that he might exercise that filial obedience under the law, essential to his mediatorial character, and to man's salvation. This is the plain sense of the above text. And it perfectly accords with the words of Gabriel to Mary; and with the account given of this subject in "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ."
Again. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all." -- This may relate to the days of Christ on earth, when he was known as the Son of God. God did not then spare him; but "laid on him the iniquities of us all." He, who was presented as God's own Son, must suffer, and be delivered up to death. "Though he was a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things, which he suffered." And "It pleased the Father to bruise him, and to put him to grief." But should any think, that this text may relate to the divine act of sending the Saviour from heaven; (as it no doubt may;) the explanation of the foregoing texts may equally apply to this, and to all of a similar nature. This mode of speech is common. See Exod. iii. 1; "Moses led his flock to the back side of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb." This mountain, when Moses here came to it, was not known as the mountain of God. But, it being known by this name, when Moses wrote the Pentateuch, he speaks of his coming to the mount of God.
Christ uses the same kind of language. "What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?" He here alludes to his own pre-existent state in heaven. But did he pre-exist in heaven as the Son of man? Surely not; but as the Logos; -- one with God, and who was God. But being now known as the Son of man, he modestly applies this name, by which he was now known, and by which he most frequently denominated himself, to his pre-existent person in heaven, tho' he was never known as the Son of man, till he tabernacled on earth, and was God manifest in the flesh. We say, When king David kept his father's sheep. But he was not king, when he kept them. We say, When king Solomon was born. Yet he was not born king, nor Solomon. But afterward being known by both the office and the name, these are carried back to his birth, when his birth is spoken of. One says, My father was born in such a year. He does not mean, that he was born his father. In like manner, when we read, "God so loved the world, that he sent his only begotten Son" -- "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman" -- the plain meaning appears to be, God sent his beloved Logos, the darling of his bosom, infinitely dear, as one with himself, who took human nature, and was manifested as the only begotten Son of God.
But such texts do not teach that the Divinity of Christ did literally sustain the filial relation to God, as having been begotten by the Father, at some period before creation. And we see, from numerous scriptures, that this sense cannot be admitted. The primitive texts of the Old Testament, which first point to the paternal and filial relation, we have seen applied, by the Holy Ghost, to the miraculous producing of Christ's humanity, and to
his being introduced to his mediatorial work, and to his inheritance. What right then has man to apply these texts, and others, which allude to them, contrary to the application made by the Holy Ghost? When we consider, that the Old Testament is silent concerning any paternal and filial relation, as then actually existing between the two first Persons in the Trinity, and that the Holy Ghost does apply the first predictions in the Old Testament, which speak of those relations between God and Christ, to the manifestation of the Messiah in the flesh; we may conclude that we have no divine warrant to say, that the Divinity of the second Person in the Godhead was derived from the First.
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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 is 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 clothed 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. On reading, and attempting to weigh such arguments, questions like the following have occurred with force to my mind. I will just express
them as the only refutation, which I shall attempt, of the above arguments. If they strike others as they do me, they will afford all the refutation necessary. Relative to this, the reader will make up his own opinion.
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 sec," unless he have material eyes? He that made the ear, shall he not hear, though he have no organ of hearing like ours? And he that implanted the parental affection, shall he not know what it is, even if he have not learned it, as have human parents, from experience? May not the Person of Jesus Christ be the dearest possible to the Father, unless Christ's Divinity be actually derived and dependent? May not the love of God to this fallen world be as real, as great, and as gloriously exhibited, in sending a Saviour who is possessed of Divinity that is underived and eternal; as in sending a Saviour derived and dependent? Why may not the economy of grace, in such a. case, be as great and wonderful? May not
One, of underived Divinity, love and be loved as intensely, as a person produced and dependent? Why may not such Persons of real Divinity, as the Trinitarians have conceived the Three in the Godhead to be, love each other with as real and intense affection, as God in one Person only could be supposed to love a Son actually begotten of the divine nature? Can derivation or dependence lay a foundation for the exercise of love, which cannot exist in the infinite God underived and independent? What excellency can derivation communicate, which underived eternal Divinity must be unable to supply? Can any being be more excellent, or adequate to every needful purpose, than the infinite God? Can it be more grateful to the feelings of piety to contemplate a Saviour derived and wholly dependent, than to contemplate one possessed of underived Divinity, in union with real humanity? Shall we say, such a derivation and dependence bring Christ nearer to man, and render access to him more easy and pleasing? It does indeed bring him down infinitely nearer to a level with man! It makes him a creature like ourselves. But is not the glorified humanity of Christ sufficient to render access to him (or to God through him) sufficiently easy and pleasing to the godly soul? Or is underived Divinity so dreadful an idea to the godly person, that it would be more unpleasant to view it as existing in the Person of our Saviour, or standing so near to us, as in union with the glorified humanity of Christ? Can we have more proper and exalted ideas of the love and grace of God toward fallen man, should we admit that Christ is of Divinity derived and dependent, than can be conceived upon the ground of his being underived and independent? Is it not a self-evident fact, that the love and grace of God are
infinitely more exhibited, in sending a Saviour of infinite Divinity, than in sending a derived, dependent Saviour? Does not the latter idea infinitely diminish the mercy of God in the scheme of salvation?
But is it possible for real Divinity to be derived?
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An exact resemblance of some of the divine perfections may be, and is, formed in creatures. Angels possess the perfect natural and moral image of God. The spirits of the just made perfect do the same. Man was made in the image of God. The image of God's natural perfections fallen man still retains. But his moral image man has lost. To the new born, the image of God's moral perfection is partially restored. Hence they are said to be "partakers of a divine nature;" and "of his fulness they have received, and grace for grace;" -- grace in the copy answering to its Prototype. What can render any dependent being more like God, than to have this image of God in that perfection, which is possessed by the inhabitants of heaven? They are the children of God. And they are as much like him, as to their moral nature, or the kind of their resemblance, as is possible. They are perfectly "satisfied with God's likeness." Shall it be said, that greater natural powers would render them more like God? Reply. Perhaps even this would not render the resemblance more perfect. For in point of degree, or greatness of powers, finite bears no proportion to infinite. But how great powers some of the Creatures of God do possess, we know not. And
who can tell but the human powers of Jesus Christ are, upon the Trinitarian principles, as great and exalted, as the Christ of the Arian can be conceived to be? -- far exceeding our highest conceptions.
But the question is, can real divinity be derived or propagated? Is not a conception of the affirmative a vast absurdity? Is God mutable or divisible? What is the real Divinity of the Most High? The following Attributes have ever been conceived as essential to it: -- Self-existence, Independence, Infinity, Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Immutability, Infinity of holiness or benevolence.
Can there be real Divinity where either of these is wanting? Surely not, according to the sentiment which has universally been entertained of real Divinity, by the informed and judicious. And can these Perfections be communicated, or derived.? Can God himself propagate them? Can he propagate Self-existence? -- a derived underivedness? Or a dependent independence? Can God beget a being of independent Omniscience, Omnipotence, or Omnipresence? Can he produce another infinity of Holiness, answering to his own? God can do every thing that is possible. But are not these infinitely impossible? Can there exist a real God, besides the one only living and true God? Can another real God exist, yea, be produced. who is destitute of the above incommunicable Perfections? What is such a God? And wherein is he God?
But it is represented that God has a communicable nature, specifically his own, aside from the above incommunicable Perfections, which nature is essentially divine, and can never be communicated to creatures, though they are said to be in
God's image, to have his Holy Spirit, to be partakers of the divine nature, and to have received of God's fulness grace for grace. And we are called upon to believe, that this nature,(specifically divine, infinitely inferior to the divine incommunicable Perfections; and yet essentially superior to what a holy creature can possess,) is what God communicated to Christ; and that this made him really God; while yet he is totally dependent? But who can believe in such an intermediate divine nature? It is something destitute of properties, and indescribable. Where have we information of such a thing? Does the Bible give the least intimation of such a divine nature? a nature so specifically divine, that, while it can be communicated, it must render its subject a God, though distinct from the One God, who communicated it, and though wholly dependent? Whence is our information of such a divine nature? Are we taught it from analogy? -- that because many creatures do propagate their species, and communicate their own specific natures; therefore the infinite God mast be supposed to have a power in like manner to propagate his species? Bold deduction! equal to saying, that because God has given to many creatures a power to multiply; therefore he himself may be multiplied! Because many creatures possess divisibility; therefore God has divisibility! New creatures may be brought into existence; therefore new Gods may be brought into existence! This reasoning appears to me but little short of blasphemy. It is a reversion back to paganism. The idea, that because God sees fit to produce that number of some of his creatures, which he designed to produce, in the way of natural generation, therefore God himself may generate and has generated a God; appears too horrid to be
named among Christians; and too glaring an absurdity to need any refutation!
It has ever been received as one of the plainest dictates of common sense, as well as of the Bible, that whatever begins to exist, is a creature; that whatever is dependent, is a creature; and that it is impossible, for the infinite Jehovah to propagate another Jehovah! The infinite God cannot be wanting in wisdom or power, to form any creature, that he may please to form, of ever so exalted powers. But that he can produce a being essentially superior to a creature; or can produce a God, is a most glaring impossibility! God may form creatures in his own image, and may call them gods. This he has done, in heaven and on earth. "I said ye arc gods." "Worship him all ye gods." But this is a thing infinitely different from producing a real God! We have ample notice, in all those cases, that they were not real Gods, but creatures.
If these remarks; be correct, then Jesus Christ either must he possessed of real Divinity, underived; or he is a mere creature. There can be no possible medium. To say that Christ is neither the infinite God, nor a creature, is to talk without ideas. And this would come with a very ill grace from a man, who is very liberal in censuring others, for saying things upon the divine Trinity, which cannot be comprehensibly defined; and who deems it a sufficient objection against the sentiments of Trinitarians, that they involve some inexplicable mysteries. Such a man ought to be able to give us a more intelligible definition of that divine nature, which, as the basis of his scheme, constitutes Christ a God; while yet he is finite and dependent. In leaving this supposed divine nature involved in mystery, and destitute of all
conceivable properties, the author of this notion violates his own maxim; that, "To make use of terms, of which we can give no intelligible explanation, has no tendency to communicate light. Those, who make use of terms in relation to God or to Christ, ought at least (he says) to be able and willing to tell their own meaning in the use of those terms." But even this man finds it very convenient, when speaking of a supposed divine nature, derived from God, which constitutes Christ a God, while yet destitute of every truly divine perfection, to involve the subject in inexplicable mystery! Yet all his readers must believe in his mystery; while he is constrained to renounce the mystery of the Trinity! Let such a man be asked, if one God can be derived, why not many? many Mighty Gods, and Everlasting Fathers! many first Causes and last Ends of all things! It seems like trifling, otherwise I should be inclined to ask such a man, Who knows, upon his principles, how great a family of such Gods, even male and female, may yet exist? Surely, upon his principle, nothing forbids but the number should become vast! Pagan gods and goddesses have been vastly numerous, in the imagination of their votaries. That pagan god that might propagate one natural son, might propagate twenty, and as many daughters.
What essence or part of God is it possible to conceive could be divided and taken from that infinite, simple, indivisible, immutable Spirit, "with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning?" Is such a Spirit capable of diminution, or divisibility?
Pagans believed in a power of propagation in their gods. But the Bible demands the belief of nothing of this kind, relative to our heavenly Father.
We are taught to believe, that "Adam was the son of God;" (Luke iii. 38); and that Angels are the sons of God; (Job xxxviii. 7); not because they were formed of God's essence; but because he made them in his own likeness, and "partakers of the divine nature." And Christians are "partakers of the divine nature;" having of Christ's "fulness received, and grace for grace." But those things do not render them eternal, because the divine nature, of which they partake, is eternal. And we have no more right to conceive, that there is any sense, in which Christ's Divinity can have been literally derived from God, which is consistent with his being eternal.
There is one passage, which may seem to some, at first view, to favor the idea, of a derivation of Christ's Divinity. Prov. viii. 22 --; "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before his works of old, I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the world was. When there was 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: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there; when he set a compass upon the face of the deep; when he established the clouds above; when he strengthened the fountains of the deep; when he gave the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth; then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him, rejoicing in thr> habitable part of his earth, and my delights were with the sons of men." It
is a good rule, in exposition, never to set a solitary passage against the general tenor of the Word of God. Scripture must explain Scripture. It never contradicts itself; however a solitary passage may seem, at first view, to contradict what is taught in many.
It is evident, and good authorities warrant us to say, that wisdom, in this passage, is personified by a well known figure or usage in human language. "Doth not Wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice? She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors." Here is the person, represented as a female, whose discourse composes the chapter. She represents herself as a person distinct from the Jehovah, who created the world. But Christ is the very Jehovah, who created all things, as will be noted. "All things were made by him." This person, in figure, gives an account (as might be expected, to enforce her instructions, and to make the representation complete) of her antiquity, and of her kindred with the Most High. She is accordingly let up from everlasting, and brought forth before the hills. But are we from this figurative passage, to believe that the wisdom of God was literally brought forth? Or, that the Jehovah of hosts, whom we have been contemplating, as the mighty God, the great God, the true and eternal God, had a beginning?
Supposing, that in the passage we do truly hear the voice of Christ, the difficulty is not hence increased. For he is speaking under the borrowed character, noted above. And accordingly he would give the same representation of this character, as above, and according to the conceptions of men. God himself is often spoken of, after the manner of men; and things are predicated of him,
which are far from being literally true. But to take occasion from the above passage to deny the eternity of Jesus Christ, and to incur all the insuperable difficulties, which attend the opinion, that the Divinity of Christ was actually derived, and is finite: and thus, that he is not the very God; is to violate all the best rules of exposition; and to contradict the numerous and most evident decisions of the sacred pages.
The terms God and creatures, have ever been received, as necessarily comprising all Beings in the universe. To present a being, who is neither the true and infinite God, nor yet a creature, is indeed to furnish "news," either from the "Bible," or from one's own bewildered imagination! But that Jesus Christ is of real and underived Divinity, does abundantly appear in the sacred Oracles; as I shall now attempt to ascertain.
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The arguments which have been adduced by Trinitarians, in favour of the proper Divinity of Christ, I have never seen refuted. I shall proceed to state some of them; and to make deductions from various scriptures, which establish Christ's real Divinity.
That Jesus Christ is God underived, is evident from what was said of his type, Melchizedek; "Without father, without mother, without descent; having neither beginning of days, nor end of time." Granting that this, as it related to Melchizedek, is spoken in allusion to that order under the law, in which a correct register of their genealogy was essential to a regular standing in the Jewish Priesthood; and that we are furnished with no such register, with respect to Melchizedek; yet if the things here expressed be not literally true of the Divinity of him, who is the Antitype of Melchizedek; with what propriety is such a representation given of the type? If Melchizedek was typically (in the sense above given) without father, without mother, without descent, and without beginning; it must have been designed to represent, that Jesus Christ in his Divinity is really thus. Else, what can be the indication? If it must be an article in the Christian faith, (as some now affirm) that the Divinity of Jesus Christ was not
without father, without descent, or beginning; but, that he was literally derived from God, as really as was Isaac from Abraham; and that he had thus a descent, and a beginning; how strange is it, that we should find the above passage in our inspired rule of faith? For in that case, it is a passage perfectly calculated to mislead, in a momentous point. This inspired account given to the Hebrews of Melchizedek, when presented as a type of Christ, does clearly decide, that while, in the economy of grace, God is to Christ for a Father, and Christ is to God for a Son; yet Christ, in his Divinity, is "without father, without mother, without descent, or beginning."
The world, after the flood, lost the knowledge of the true God, and fell into idolatry. One object of the mission of Christ into the world, and of Revelation, was to recover man from idolatry to the knowledge and worship of the true God.
Would the Most High then, in the very outset for effecting this object, have instituted a system of idolatry, as the means of effecting it? But if God sent a derived and dependent Being into the world, under the names, titles and attributes of God, and commanded Angels and men to honor him, even as they honor the Father; then the Most High, in the origin of his attempt to recover man from idolatry, instituted a system of idolatry. For idolatry is the worship of some being, beside the one only living and true God. It is having another God, before the only One. This is the immutable nature of idolatry. To speak with reverence, God himself could not cause that this should not be idolatry! Shall it be said, God has a right to set up an own Son under his own name, though wholly distinct from himself, and invest him with his titles and glories; and command all to worship
him; and if God" choose to do thus, why should man object? Reply. It is impossible for the God of eternal truth to set up another God beside himself. It would be establishing, in the universe, a palpable untruth. And God cannot lie. He would be giving his glory to another; and subverting the fundamental law of his own kingdom, which presents himself, as the only God, and the only Object of worship. Is it possible that God, in undertaking to recover man from idolatry, to the knowledge and worship of himself, should first establish another Object of worship beside himself? Is not this a contradiction of his own object, as well as of the whole tenor of his word? His object is to recover men to the worship of himself. And to effect it, he (upon the above supposition) sets up another object beside himself, to be worshipped. But the language of God's word upon this subject is, "I am the Lord, that is my name; and my glory I will not give unto another. Beside me, there is no God; I know not any." Certainly then, Christ and the Father must be comprised in this pronoun ME, beside whom, Jehovah himself knows not any God. Inevitably the Persons of the Father and the Son must each be found in this one God, who speaks of himself as the Only One. Christ is through the Scriptures represented as, in some sense, distinct from the Father; while yet he is honored with the very names, titles and glories of God; and is represented as really one with God.
The word Jehovah imports self-existence; and is a peculiar name of the infinite, eternal God. Deut. vi. 4; "Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Jehovah." Psalm lxxxiii. 18;" That men may know that thou whose name alone is Jehovah, art the Most High over all the earth." Yet abundantly
through the Old Testament Christ is called by this very name. Jer. xxiii. 6; "This is the name, by which he (Christ) shall be called, The Jehovah our righteousness." Certainly then, Christ is the very God; one with the Father.
In Exodus iii. we have an account, that "The Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in the flame of fire out of the midst of a bush." Who can be meant by this Angel of the Lord? Certainly a Person in some sense distinct from the Father. For the Father is never represented as his own Angel. But Christ is often represented as the Angel of the Lord; as will appear. He is the Messenger (Angel) of the covenant; the Angel of God's presence. As an Angel, he often appeared of old. We cannot doubt but the Angel, who appeared to Moses in the bush, was the Person of Christ. But what does he say of himself? He presented himself to Moses, as the infinite, eternal God. He there calls himself the Lord, or Jehovah, (as in the Hebrew) and God. Moses must loose his shoes from his feet: The ground was holy; for God was there. This Angel of the Lord styles himself, "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." He promises Moses, that he would be with him. He suggests that he had made man's mouth, and would enable him to speak. He instructs Moses to say to Israel, concerning him, "The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you." "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: And he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." This the Angel calls his name, in consequence of Moses inquiring for it; a name, which imports necessary, or eternal existence. All that follows in this chapter teaches, that this Angel of the Lord was at the same time the eternal God.
"And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob hath sent me unto you; this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." These are the titles of the infinite God. Yet the Angel of the Lord in the bush did not scruple to take these names to himself. Would he have done this, if he had not been the very God? In this account we learn, that there is the Lord, or Jehovah, the Person of the Father, beside this Angel, who was his messenger; yet that this Angel was the very God. It follows that God and Christ were, in some mysterious sense, two, yet essentially one.
This same Angel of the Lord had before appeared to Abraham, (Gen. xviii.) with two created Angels, on his way to the destruction of Sodom. The two created Angels went on and appeared to Lot. But one of the three, (who is called the Lord, as well as the Angel, and had exhibited his omniscience, by reproving the laughter of Sarah, who was absent,) stayed and conversed with Abraham. In this interview he was uniformly called the Lord, or Jehovah. Abraham speaks to him, as to Jehovah, the Judge of all the earth. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Are we not assured, that the Angel here was the true and infinite God? But was not this Angel Jesus Christ? who afterwards said, "Before Abraham was, I am." This I shall take for granted, that the Angel of the Lord, in various passages of the Old Testament, who is at the same time called the Lord, (Jehovah,) was Christ. But would Christ have received from another, and assumed to himself, titles peculiar to the eternal God, if he were
not the eternal God? It affords no relief to say, that he being God's own Son, God was willing to honor him with the titles and worship due to God alone. For this is only pleading the authority of God himself, to establish falsehood, and idolatry. It is the immutable law of the Most High, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." If any person then, be had, or worshipped, as God, who is not contained in this pronoun ME, in the first command; this law is violated. But Christ is, by God's command, worshipped, by Angels and men. He is therefore contained in the pronoun ME, in the first command. Hence we learn that he is one with God, and is God; as he himself testifies, "I and my Father are one."
It is a fundamental law of the great Eternal, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God; and him only shalt thou serve." But Christ is to be worshipped. Therefore Christ is contained in the phrase, "the Lord thy God, and him only." God and Christ are united in the antecedent to the words "Him only shalt thou serve." Here we learn their essential unity; while yet they are in some sense two; -- the Lord, and his Angel. -- Christ's unity with God we learn in Abraham's calling him Jehovah; and speaking to him as to God: And in his taking to himself, in the burning bush, the very titles of the infinite God; and speaking by his own authority. And yet we learn that there is some real distinction between him and the first in the Godhead, from his being called the Angel of the Lord.
This sentiment (that God and Christ are two; and yet that they are one,) is found throughout the Bible. God said to Moses, Ex. xxiii. 20, "Behold I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place, which I have
prepared." That this Angel is Christ, is evident. "For they drank of that rock that followed them; and that rock was Christ." 1 Cor, x. 4. He is called (Isai. Ixiii. 9,) "The Angel of God's presence, who saved Israel." Here the Angel, and God, are two: Yet this Angel, through all the remaining part of Israel's journey, was spoken of, and worshipped, as the Lord God. God says of him, "My name is in him." By God's name here, we are to understand not only his titles, but perfections: My perfections are in him: -- In the Hebrew, "in his inward parts:" -- My perfections are in his nature. -- As Christ says, John x. 38; "I am in the Father; and the Father in me." This Angel of God's presence went before Israel, in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, in all their journey. His visible appearance was called, the glory of the Lord. In this shekinah the Angel conversed with Moses. But he was called the Lord, or Jehovah, and spake by his own authority. Read the history of Israel, from the time God said, at Mount Sinai, that the Angel of his presence should go with them, and bring them into the land of Canaan; and you will find, that this Angel was the infinite Jehovah himself. Compare Psalm lxxviii. 56, with 1 Cor. x. 9; "Yet they tempted and provoked the Most High God;" "Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them tempted, and were destroyed of serpents." Here God decides, that Christ (the Angel of his presence) is the Most High God. Is it not safe to abide by his decision, relative to the mode of his own existence, even though clouds and darkness rest upon the subject? Can we read concerning this Angel of God's presence, what he under the title of Jehovah said, commanded, and threatened, from time to time; -- deciding with an oath, that
that generation should not enter into his rest; and saying, "Let me alone, that I may consume them in a moment; and I will make of thee a great nation? " Can we read of his destroying Korah, Dathan and Ahiram; -- and rebuking and destroying kings for Israel's sake; saying, "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm?" -- Can we read all this history and all the references to it in the New Testament: and yet disbelieve, that this Angel of God's presence with Israel was the very God? It is further said of him; "And the Lord our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount; turn ye, and take your journey." Here the Angel of God's presence, who accompanied Israel, is called, "the Lord our God."
The same Person we find, in Dent, last chapter, transacting with Moses; and is the very God. After deciding that Moses should not go into the promised land, he takes him up to the top of Pisgah, and shows him the goodly Canaan. "And Jehovah said unto him, This is the land, which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it to thy seed." Here the Angel, who was to bring Israel into Canaan, identifies himself with the Jehovah, who covenanted with Abraham. But this was the Lord God Almighty: Gen. xvii. 1; "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." Christ then, is the Lord God Almighty; one with the Father.
This same Angel presented himself to Joshua, when about to enter into Canaan, as "the Captain of the Lord's host." Here he distinguishes himself from the Lord, of whose host he was the Captain. Yet in the solemn interview he is the Lord, or Jehovah, claiming divine honors. Joshua's shoes must be put off. The ground in his
presence was holy. "And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and all the kings thereof." -- Surely this Jehovah was God.
Should any say, If these things be thus, where is God the Father? If so many sacred passages, which speak of God Jehovah, are to be applied to Christ; what remains for the Father? or where shall we find him?
Reply. The Father is not absent, nor excluded from the name of God, even while all his titles are applied to Christ. But these representations teach, that God and Christ are, in some mysterious sense, two, yet essentially one: As Christ decides; "That ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him. (John x. 33.) "He, that hath seen me, hath seen the Father also." "They have both seen and hated both me and my Father." In passages almost innumerable the Father and Christ are spoken of as two; and yet are presented in an essential unity; so that each may affirm, that there is no other God beside himself. The above questions then, are founded in a misconception of the subject; viewing the Father and Christ as two distinct Gods. But they are not two distinct Gods; they are one God. God the Father really does all, that the divine nature of Christ does; he is not absent; nor is he. another God. And yet the Bible does teach, that there is a real, though mysterious, personal distinction between the Father and the Deity of Christ. The fact may not be denied; though the mode cannot by man be. explained. God covenanted with Abraham. The Father is not to be excluded, from this transaction. Neither is the Deity of Christ to be excluded from it. For the Angel of God's presence, the Angel of the covenant (in the
passage recited, in his interview with Moses on the top of Pisgah) assumes the transaction to himself: "This is the land, "which I sware to Abraham" -- And in the interview, at the burning bush, he styles himself" the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, as his memorial throughout all generations. The idea is this; -- the second Person in the Trinity is one God with the first. What the first does, the second, relative to his own Deity, scruples not to ascribe to himself. While the two are God, and his Angel, yet, in some essential sense, they are one God. Otherwise this Angel would not identify himself with the Highest, the eternal God. The Two (God and his Angel) are, for distinction sake, called persons; not because the word person, as used among men, fully applies to them; but because it comes the nearest to the thing designed of any word. For this reason, the Nicene council adopted the use of the word Persons, as applicable to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the Trinity. The Trinitarians have given ample notice, that by this term, when thus applied, they do not mean in every sense the same, as when the term is applied to man. With this notice given, they conceive themselves warranted, from the word of God, to apply the term as above stated. For the Father, the Mediator, and the Holy Spirit are, through the Bible, spoken of as Persons, in some distinct sense, and yet as one God.
Who was he that wrestled with Jacob, Gen. xxxii. 24 --? Was this God the Father? Or was he the Angel of the covenant? He surely must have been the latter. "And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him (or one who appeared like a man) until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against
him, he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go; for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for as a prince hast thou power with God, and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him and said, Tell me I pray thee thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel; (the face of God) for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." Compare this with Hosea xii. 3, -- "He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God; yea, he had power over the Angel, and prevailed; he wept and made supplication unto him; he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us; even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is his memorial." I ask whether the angel here (who is Christ) is not, in the very term Angel, represented as in some sense distinct from God the Father; and yet, he is God, "even the Lord God of hosts," whose memorial is Jehovah?
Read the description given of the Jehovah of hosts, in Isai. vi: His train filling the temple; the winged Seraphim covering their faces and their feet before him, and crying, Holy, holy, holy is the Jehovah of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." The prophet cries, "Wo is me, for I am undone! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips; and mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." And he heard the voice of Jehovah, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"
None can doubt but this person was the very God. He speaks by his own authority; "Whom shall I send?" And he is plural; "Who will go for us?" We must believe this Jehovah of hosts is the very God. Yet the evangelist teaches, that he was Christ. John xii. 41, speaking of Christ, "These things said Esaias when he saw his glory, and spake of him."
In Isai. viii. 13, -- we read, "Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel; for a gin, and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem." But inspiration applies what is here said of the "Lord of hosts himself," to Christ. 1 Pet. ii. 7, 8; "Unto you therefore, who believe, he is precious. But unto them who are disobedient, the stone, which the builders disallowed, the same is made the Head of the corner; and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them, who stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed." "The stone, which the builders refused, the same is become the head of the corner." "This is the stone, which is set at naught by you builders." Jesus Christ then, is the "Jehovah of hosts himself."
Christ is the Lord God of the holy prophets> Rev. xxii. 6, "The Lord God of the holy prophets sent his Angel to show unto his servants the things, which must shortly be done." Compared with verse 16. "I Jesus have sent mine Angel to testify unto you these things in the churches," Here our Saviour (as though with evident design) teaches, that He is "the Lord God of the holy prophets." We accordingly read of the prophets, 1 Pet. i. 11, "Searching what, and what manner
of time the Spirit of Christ, that was in them, did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory, that should follow." The ancient prophets then, were inspired by the Spirit of Christ. But "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God." The Spirit of Christ then, is the Spirit of God. The same we learn in the following passages. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the sons of God." But, "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Here again Christ is God. In 1 Pet. iii. 18, 19, we learn, that Christ, (by his Spirit, in the days of Noah,) went and preached to the ante-diluvians, who were now in prison, when Peter wrote. But it was God, who spake to Noah, and waned the wicked world through him, and said, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man." In these passages then, we arc taught infallibly, that the Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of God; and the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ: And that hence Christ is God.
God himself addresses Christ as God; which clearly decides Christ's distinct Personality, and yet his Unity in the Godhead. See Heb. i. 8; "Unto the Son he (God) saith. Thy throne. O God, is forever and ever." Could the Most High thus address a derived, dependent being, without establishing idolatry? Could he do it, without teaching the universe to have another God before him? Could he do it, and yet say, relative to himself, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve?" I am God; beside me there is none else; I know not any." *
* Some have attempted to insinuate, that the above text, Heb. i. 8, will bear this interpretation, "Unto the Son he saith, God is thy throne forever and ever." Any who may esteem it worth their while to read a full refutation of this extraordinary
The text under consideration, is a quotation of Psalm xlv. 6; where David says, "Thy throne O God, is forever and ever." David addressed the words to "the King. -- fairer than the children of men -- the most Mighty, whose right hand should teach him terrible things -- under whom the people shall fall." Our translation is a literal rendering of the Hebrew. And its addressing Christ, as God, accords with the tenor of the sacred word. No proper objection then, can be made against it. The text to the Hebrews is a literal quotation of it. And there we learn from inspiration, that it is an address from God the Father to Christ. And does it not most positively establish Christ's distinct Personality in the Godhead; and yet his being one with God, and the very God?
In Rom. ix. 5, Jesus Christ is said to be "Over all, God blessed for ever." In 1 Pet. i. 1, he is "God our Saviour." In Titus ii. 13, he is "the great God and our Saviour." *
In 1 John v. 20, it is said of Jesus Christ, "This is the true God, and eternal life." In Isai. ix. 6, Christ is called, "the Mighty God, the everlasting Father." In Jer. xxiii. 6, he is "the Jehovah our righteousness." And in Rev. i. 8, he is by his
forced and most unnatural rendering of that clause of the text, may find it in the Panoplist for May, 1811, page 544-9. It would be wonderful indeed for God to represent himself, as the throne of one of his creatures! This would be unprecedented in the Bible! Nothing is too glaring for some men to undertake, to undermine the offensive sentiments of holy writ. We read of handling the word of God deceitfully. And this is an evil not uncommon, at the present day.
* Greek -- "tou megalou Theou, kai Soteros hemoon." -- The article put before great, belongs equally to Saviour, as to God, not being added there, as it must have been, had not Saviour stood in apposition, being the same with the preceding, God: -- A full proof, that the sense is this; Jesus Christ is the great GOD, and our SAVIOUR.
own testimony "the Alpha and Omega, who is, and was, and is to come, the Almighty." Is a derived, dependent being, "the Almighty?" Most certainly not. Should any doubt whether it is Christ, who here speaks; -- the affirmative is incontestable; as any will see, who will compare Rev. i. 8-18; ii. 8. Here it was Jesus Christ (in the midst of the golden candlesticks, and who had been dead and was alive,) who called himself the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Almighty.
In Isai. xliv. 6, we read; "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." But Jesus Christ, in the above passages in the Revelation, applies this to himself. Hence we have his testimony, that he is the Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Jehovah of hosts.
From the great work, which was assigned to the Mediator, light is cast upon this important subject. I ask the conscience of every person, taught in the sentiments of the gospel, Was not an infinite atonement necessary, according to the tenor of the Bible, to take away the sin of the world? Was not the righteousness of an infinite Being, or the righteousness of God, necessary to avail for lost man, and redeem him from sin and hell, and entitle him to heaven? Does not the whole economy of gospel grace proceed on the ground of an atonement made by Christ, adequate to the eternal torments of guilty man? and of a righteousness wrought out by Christ, adequate to that exceeding and eternal weight of glory, freely tendered in our fallen world; and which will be conferred on all the chosen of God? Though pardon and salvation are of free grace; yet the scheme
of grace teaches, that God would not have been just, had he bestowed or tendered them on any ground, short of a sufficient exhibition's being made on man's behalf, of justice and righteousness, to magnify the Divine law. Here the infinite riches of grace are exhibited; that God would not only pardon and save lost man; but would be at the infinite expense necessary to open the way for the proper bestowment of pardon and salvation. But could any thing be equal to this redemption from hell, and title to heaven, short of an infinite atonement, and an infinite righteousness? A foundation short of this mutt have been infinitely insufficient for the eternal superstructure, which was to be built upon it. To say, that God might, in order to confer on his Son an infinite honor, determine, that an atonement and righteousness, which a finite Son could effect, should be declared and viewed as of infinite avail, appears preposterous. For it must, after all, appear to the intelligent universe, that the ground presented, as the only foundation of the pardon and salvation of guilty man, is in fact finite. This must of necessity operate to the amazing dishonor of God.
All the torments of the miserable in hell cannot, in any conceivable time, atone for their sins. The certainty of this appears from the fact, that the damned must suffer forever. Can it be admitted as possible then, that the sufferings of a Saviour, who is only derived and dependent, can make an adequate atonement for the sins of the whole world? and this too, in so short a time, as Jesus of Nazareth suffered? The idea, of resolving this thing into the divine sovereignty, or suggesting, that God has a right to say, that the atonement and righteousness of his own finite dependent Son, shall be viewed as of infinite avail, can never satisfy
a rational being. For the question will arise, Why might not God as well pardon and save, without any atonement made, or righteousness wrought out, in behalf of man? Or if something done, which is finite, may be pronounced sufficient, why might not an Angel have done the work of the finite Mediator? which work, at God's sovereign word, should be pronounced sufficient for the salvation of lost man? Yea, why might not God as well dispense with all his exhibitions of justice and propriety, in his vast kingdom; and let a system of merely arbitrary words be substituted in their stead? Is not God's infinite authority sufficient to have those words believed, though all his administration be in contradiction to them? Could he not work miracles, and cause all his subjects to believe his contradictory assertions? Many such questions occur to the mind, on the suggestion, that God may say, that a finite Son shall make an adequate atonement; or shall do what shall be esteemed sufficient for the eternal salvation of his Church.
But we must remember, that God's government is for the benefit of his finite creatures. And they must be able eventually to discern an uniformity and fitness in all his works. One thing must be proportioned to another; and the divine administration must accord with the principles of truth and justice; or his glory will be proportionably diminished. Words, without corresponding deeds, are falsehoods. But God cannot lie, neither in word nor deed. Christ's atonement and righteousness then, must be infinite.
But how could a finite Saviour make an infinite atonement? Yea, how could such an one make any atonement at all? Or how could he work out a righteousness for others? Must not a derived
being owe personally to God, according to the immutable religion of nature, as well as of Revelation, all the service, that he is able to render? Every dependent being must owe to God the love and service of his whole heart, soul, strength and mind. How then could the righteousness of a derived being be of avail for any one beside himself? much less of that infinite avail, needed for the salvation of the fallen world? Yea, how could it be "the righteousness of God?" How could Christ be, "Jehovah our righteousness?"
To render a derived Saviour adequate to the work, for which Christ was designed; or to give an infinite weight to his atonement, righteousness, and administration; the advocates for such a Saviour must have recourse to the indwelling of the fulness of the Father in Christ, in this case, the sufficiency of the Mediator is rested on the infinite fulness of Divinity, that dwells in him. But if recourse must be had, after all, to the infinitude of the indwelling Divinity, in the derived Son of God; what is gained by supposing the nature of Christ, that actually suffered, to be superior to human nature? Nothing is gained, except that small addition of merit, which may be supposed to result from the superiority of this derived nature over human nature. But how trifling must this be, when compared with the infinitude of the indwelling fulness of the Father, on which dependence is really made? This infinitude of merit needs no such addition. Infinity of merit must be sufficient without it. Such an addition goes not to the point, on which dependence is finally made, -- the infinitude of the indwelling fulness of the Father. But no Trinitarian doubts but the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Christ. The Trinitarian rests the infinitude of the atonement on the
underived Deity, who dwells in the man Jesus Christ. And the opponent (who believes at all in an atonement) must have recourse to the indwelling fulness of God, in Christ, to render his atonement of sufficient avail. What then has he gained by representing Christ as possessed of a nature superior to all creatures, aside from the indwelling fulness of God? For he does not with this find Christ adequate to the work of mediation, without The indwelling fulness of God. And the Trinitarian finds Christ fully adequate to the work, with the indwelling of his proper Deity, without supposing his created nature to be more than human.
The sentiment, that to atone for the sins of the world, the sufferings of the Saviour must, in some sense be deemed infinite, most clearly lies at the foundation of the Christian system. "without the shedding of blood, there is no remission." And this blood must be of infinite avail. It must be (as we are taught by inspiration to view it) the blood of God." "Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood;" (Acts xx. 23.) The ears of some are won; led by the phrase, the blood of God. I believe as much as they that the invisible God is an infinite Spirit: And that a pure Spirit hath not flesh and bones, or blood. Yet I feel myself fully warranted to use the phrase, the blood of God; to say that this atoned for sin; and that without the shedding of such blood, there could be no remission. The abundant language of the Bible, representing Christ as God, and yet as dying for sin, warrants the phrase, the blood of God, as that which has ransomed fallen man. And the text, in Acts xx. 23, just quoted, fully warrants it. *
* The correctness of our reading of this text, is by some called in question, In some manuscripts of the New Testament, it
The suffering of Christ must have been the suffering of God in a sense, that was either real, or constituted. A person really divine either must exhibit himself as capable of suffering, and really suffering for sin; or else he must adopt a creature into such a constituted union with himself, as that both this divine and this created nature shall go to constitute one complete Person: And the sufferings of the created nature shall be esteemed as the sufferings of the whole Person, or the sufferings of God. There. is no other possible sense, in which
is found, "Feed the church of the Lord, which he hath purchased with his Own blood." And in some, "Feed the church of the Lord and God." But I am satisfied with our reading, for the following reasons:
1. It accords with the tenor of the Bible, to speak of the church as the church of God; and to call Jesus Christ, God. I have already shown in this section, and mean to show more fully, that Christ it abundantly called, and represented to be, God; both in the Old and New Testaments; the mighty God, the great God, the true God. The reading, therefore, "Feed the church of the Lord, which he hath purchased with his Own blood," fully accords with the general language of the Bible. And the sentiment of this reading forms a hinge, on which hangs The salvation of the Church. For there can be no medium between The blood of God, and that of a mere creature. But it There be no atonement made for sin, but what is made by a Mere creature, where is the foundation of the Christianís hope? Admitting the reading, "the church of the Lord, which he purchased With his own blood," nothing is gained by the opponent. For we are, in that case, warranted, by the whole tenor of the Bible, to annex to the term Lord here, its highest sense, Jehovah, Who is the mighty God. He has redeemed the church by His own blood. The church, then, is bought with the blood of God. The propriety of the phrase is founded in the constituted Oneness between the second Person in the Trinity, and the man Jesus Christ, as will be shown.
2. The reading "the church of God," is found in eight manuscripts. And the following ancient fathers have quoted the text according to our reading: Epiphanius, Basil, and Ambrose In the fourth century: Cassian, Ibas and Celestine, in the fifth: And Fulgentius, Primesius, and Bede, in the sixth. See Panoplist For April, 1811, page 508.
the sufferings of the Mediator can be of infinite avail, as being the sufferings of God. But Christ's sufferings are esteemed the sufferings of God: And his blood is esteemed of infinite avail, as the blood of God. Therefore real Deity did dwell in the man Jesus, in such a sense, as to constitute them One, the Person of the Mediator. This connection of the two natures is a mystery; but it is no contradiction, nor absurdity; it is not above the power of God to effect.
No doubt many plausible things may be said, (if men are disposed,) against the divine economy of constituting such a connexion between a Person really divine, and a created nature, as that the sufferings of the latter shall be esteemed as the sufferings of God. The objector, if he be hardy enough! may say, It is all a mere pretence. God did not suffer at all. "He only substituted a creature to suffer in his stead; like the king, who engaged to die, and who fulfilled his promise by marrying a poor woman, thus becoming one with her, and causing her to die; which conduct would not be very honorable!" But let me ask, what point in Divinity is not capable of being cavilled at? What point of divine truth has not been attacked, and presented in a base libel! Things seemingly plausible may be said in opposition to every cardinal doctrine in theology. But in view of the above objections, let me inquire; do not the same difficulties attend the scheme of our opponents, so far as they rely on the constituted indwelling of the fulness of God, to give an infinite dignity to the derived Son of God, and an infinite merit to his atonement? But their great reliance is on the dignity and fulness of God the Father, to furnish their Mediator for his work. The relief is too small to be noted, to say, that the derived Person
of their Mediator, in whom the Father dwells, is very far greater than human; being formed of the Father's essence! For to what does all the difference between derived natures amount, when compared with the infinite God? Before him all dependent beings sink to nothing! The reliance of our opponents, who hold to a literally derived Son of God, is in fact solely on the Father, exclusively of any other truly divine Person in the Godhead (for they believe in no other) for both the existence, and all the ability of the Son of God to atone for Sin, or to officiate in any of the duties of the mediatorial office. There can be no adequate merit or dignity attending them, but what comes from God the Father. Yet some of our opponents represent the Son as having made the atonement, and as doing all the work of the Mediator. And some of them will admit of it as an infinite atonement; a mediation of infinite efficacy; while to render it thus, their reliance must be on the indwelling, and the infinite fulness of the Father. Do not the same objections then, stated above, apply with as great force to their own scheme? Most certainly! for, did God the Father suffer, in the sufferings of Christ? And if not, how could his infinite fulness and dignity add any weight to the sufferings of the finite Son? But if the opponent can imagine, that the infinite fulness and dignity of the Father can add an infinite weight to the atonement made by the derived and finite Son of God; why can it not as well he admitted, that the constituted union of real Deity (the second Person in the Trinity) with the man Jesus Christ, may give an infinite dignity to the atonement made by him? Why shall the latter scheme, any more than (he former, be represented as a mere pretence? But, may not God constitute
a connection between one of the infinite Persons in the Trinity, and the man Jesus Christ, so that they shall properly be called and viewed one? Is not God able to do this? And has he not a right to do it, whatever difficulties or objections may arise concerning it in the minds of fallen man? All connections in creation depend on the sovereign will of God. Suppose God could previously have consulted man, relative to many of these connections; as, that between man's soul and body; that between God's own sovereign, universal agency in the government of the world, (making all things for himself, even the wicked for the day of evil; Prov. xvi. 4,) and the free agency and accountability of man; what would the wisdom of man have replied? Could he have been God's counsellor? Inexplicable difficulties would have appeared. But God has established these, and all other created connections in the* universe. The laws of nature are of his ordaining: and it is in vain for man to object. And no less vain or impious is it, to object to the constituted connexion between the real Deity and humanity of Christ, which unitedly constitute his Person. The union is constituted. It is not essential to either nature. But it was constituted by the sovereign will of Him, who constituted all the created connexions in the universe. Man may repeat the question of Nicodemus in another case, "How can these things be?" This question may be asked concerning some part of every work of God, not excepting the smallest atom; and no man can answer if. Man is of yesterday, and knows nothing! He is surrounded with an universe of wonders! Is it incredible then, that the infinite Creator of this universe should have unfathomable depths in his name, and the mode of
his existence? Is it incredible, that He, whose name is Wonderful, and whom no man knoweth, but the Father, has things relative to his Person, which exceed the philosophy of vain man?" Canst thou by searching mid out God?" Who shall object, or why, if God please to say, that the humanity of Christ shall be taken into such an union with one in the Godhead, that the blood of the human nature, shed for sin, shall be called and esteemed the blood of God, to make an infinite atonement; and the infinite glory of underived Deity shall be possessed by this wonderful Person of two natures? Shall man say, that such inexplicable things attend the consideration of such a Person, that they cannot believe in him? This, alas, would be nothing new! "Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." Christ has long since been to some a stumbling block; and to some foolishness. But to others he is "the power of God, and the wisdom of God." Would such a connexion, as has been stated, between the two natures, human and divine, (supposing God had revealed the certainty of it, in language, which could admit of no doubt) amount to an absurdity? Would it evidently degrade the divine character? If not; who can say, that such a connexion does not in fact exist? For the Word of God does read, as though this were the case. And thus it hits been understood, by. the body of the Church of Christ, for many centuries.
Relative to Christ's being of underived Divinity, let it be further noted; if he were not underived, would God the Father have ascribed to him the work of creation? and would he have ascribed to him immutability? Unto the Son, God saith, Heb. i. 10, -- "Thou Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundations of the earth; and the heavens are
the works of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old, as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail." Here immutability, as well as creation, is ascribed by God the Father to Christ; -- "Thou shalt endure -- thou art the same." -- As in the epistle to the Hebrews, xiii. 6. "Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, to day, and forever." Can such repeated divine ascriptions of immutability be applied to a derived, dependent being?
And could such a being create the world? Would the infinite God repeatedly ascribe the work of creation to a finite dependent being; and say to him, "Thou Lord, hast laid the foundations of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy hand?" Are not here two persons; and the second, as well as the first, really God? The earth and the heavens are the work of Christ's hands. Yet we read, "He, that made all things, is God." "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy works." Is not Christ then, God? We are taught Heb. i. 2, that God made the worlds by his Son; or by this second Person, now known as his Son. Does this import, that Christ created the worlds only by a delegated agency? Or that his agency in creation was only such as that, by which holy men wrought miracles? Some pretend this. But the Jehovah of hosts, abundantly in the prophet Isaiah, assumed creation to himself, as one of his essential distinctions from false gods. Did this Jehovah of hosts hold this distinction only by a delegated power or privilege? If this were all, his thus creating the world was no evidence of his real Divinity; any more than
Moses' working miracles before Pharaoh, was an evidence of his real Divinity.
The idea, of God's creating the world by Christ, is this, (as we may conceive;) the agency of the whole Godhead, was, in that work, represented as exercised through the second Person in the Trinity. He, having entered into the covenant of redemption with the Father, exercised the power of the Godhead in creating the world. The agency of the three is represented as manifesting itself through him. Accordingly each of the three, in different sacred passages, is represented as doing the work. But it is more peculiarly ascribed to the second Person, as though the agency of the three carne into operation through him. But it is so represented in a sense, which implies, that this second Person is the very God; -- an original in the work; and not merely a dependent instrument, by whom God wrought. God never did (nor could) say to Peter, Thou, Peter, hast healed the lame man at the beautiful gate, and raised Dorcas: These things are the works of thy hands. Nothing like this was ever said, by the Most High, to a creature, by whom he himself had wrought miracles. But the utmost care was taken to distinguish between the Deity, and the instruments, that did the work; and to have all the praise given to the former. Moses, the type of Christ, (and who was admitted to the greatest intimacy with God, of all the men on earth;) yet for seeming to take to himself some of the praise of his bringing the water from the rock, was shut out of the promised land! Instruments of divine operations, (human or angelic,) have been careful to take none of the praise of their operations to themselves; but to give it all to God. God informs, that he is a jealous God, and will never give his glory to another. Yet abundantly
God ascribes the work of creation, and of upholding all things, to Christ; and this in the most positive language. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; (the Word, or Christ) and without him was not any thing made, that was made." -- "The world was made by him." "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible, and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist." Col. i. 13-17. "And upholding all things by the word of his power." These things are said expressly of Jesus Christ. But can all this be said, by the God of truth, of a finite, derived, dependent Being? The parts of creation above enumerated, contain all created, dependent beings, in heaven or earth. Surely then, Christ himself, (who created them,') cannot be among them, a finite, dependent being. And who can believe in a derived, dependent Creator of all things? A dependent Almighty! How could all things be said to be created for Christ, as well as by him, if he were not very God? Are all things, in heaven and earth, created by and for a being distinct from, and dependent on, the true God? Let Paul decide this. "O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! -- For of him, and through him. and to him are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen." Here we learn who Christ, in the former passage, is, by whom, and for whom, all things were made. He is the very, unsearchable God, in this latter passage; of whom,
through whom, and to whom are all things; to whom he glory forever. Compare these passages with Rev. iv. 8, -- where the four living creatures, day and night, sing" Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." They proceed to give glory and honor and thanks to him, who sat on the throne, and liveth forever and ever. The elders then fall before him, saying, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power; for thou hast created all things; and for thy pleasure they are, and were created." Here then we learn the sentiments of the true ministers and followers of Christ. For these four living creatures are emblems of Christ's ministers; and the elders are emblems of the members of his kingdom of grace. If we say the Being they worship here is the infinite Father; the Son, in the other passages, is identified with him. For there all things were made by and for Jesus Christ. But if we say, this is the Son on his throne of the universe; (as probably is the fact;) we then acknowledge the Son to be the Lord God Almighty, receiving the highest ascriptions of glory and praise from all heaven. Is it possible then, for any to deny, that Christ is the underived, eternal God, identified with the Father?
Hear the decision of Jehovah himself. Isai. xllv. 24; "I am the Lord, that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth forth the earth by myself." Here Jehovah alone, and by himself, created all things. Yet we are expressly and abundantly taught that Christ created them. Surely then, Christ is that Jehovah himself, who spread abroad the earth alone.
By Christ all things consist. He "upholds all things by the word of his power;" Heb. i. 3. But is it not "in God that we live, move, and have our
being?" From this we learn, that Christ is God.
In Isaiah, God, "the high and lofty One, who inhabits eternity," declares, that he "dwells also with him, who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and the heart of the contrite ones." Thus Jehovah, who inhabits eternity, is "nigh unto them who are of a broken heart; and sayeth such as be of a contrite spirit." But Christ says to such, "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come unto you." He says to his ministers, "Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." In these, and similar promises of Christ, we learn, that he is identified with "the high and lofty One, who inhabits eternity," dwelling with the humble. Christ says, "If any man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him; and WE will come unto him, and make OUR abode with him." Here are the two first Persons in the Trinity, dwelling with every holy soul: Two omniscient Persons: We will come unto every obedient person, and make our abode with him. Could Christ speak this, as a derived, dependent, finite being? Could such an one, be at one and the same time, with millions of saints, in different parts of the universe? And would such an one thus rank himself with the omnipresent God? We here find two omnipresent persons; God and Christ. They are spoken of as two; and yet abundantly represented as One. There is no reconciling these numerous passages, but by saying, God and Christ are two Persons, equal and eternal, in one God. Christ says, "Where two or three are met in my name, there I am in the midst of them." Not simply, I will be, but I am: As he said to Moses in the bush, "I am, that I am. Say unto them, I am hath sent me unto thee." "Before Abraham was, I am," Not I
was; but I am. Christ thus identifies himself with the eternal Jehovah. How exactly Christ's promises of his presence with his people, accord with the same promises of Jehovah in the prophets: "Fear not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God." "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." Are the above promises of Christ consistent with his being a derived, dependent being? Is not omnipresence an essential attribute of God? And Christ's ascribing this to himself, as well as to the Father, gives us his own testimony, that he, as well as the Father, is God.
The apostle says, of Christ's pre-existent Divinity, "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man." Here Christ, before he came in the flesh, and before we have any account of the Father's dwelling in him. or of the Spirit's being given him without measure, was existing in heaven, a distinct Person in the Godhead, and viewed himself equal with God. Is not this testimony decisive that Christ is. God? The form of a servant, in the above text, is a servant. The likeness of man, is a man. And the form of God is God. Christ was in the form of God; and he thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But if the highest nature of Christ were derived and dependent, it must have been infinite robbery in him to have claimed equality with God!
Some object to the above text, that the word translated equal, in the original is not an adjective, but an adverb; that it is not isos, equal; but isa, equally. If there be any weight in the criticism, it is wholly in favour of Christ's Divinity. For then the adverb equally, may be viewed as qualifying
the verb importing to be; literally thus; Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be, equally with God, i. e. equally with the Father, Christ possesses independent existence. Perfectly this accords with the title which Christ took to himself in the burning bush, "I AM THAT I AM." And to the Jews; "Before Abraham was, I AM." This title, with the name Jehovah, and Jah, ascribed to Christ, imports necessary existence. Surely then, it was not robbery in Christ to exist, equally with the Father.
The Jews understood Christ as claiming equality with God, notwithstanding all the notices he gave, of the dependence of his humanity: "Because thou, being a man, makest thyself God." -- Again; "Making himself equal with God." Christ was so far from correcting this, as a mistake, that he told them plainly, "I and my Father are one." "I dwell in the Father; and the Father in me." "He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father." "If ye had known me, ye had known my Father also." Would the meek and lowly Jesus have said such things as these, and have put himself before the Father, ("I and my Father are one,") if he had been as much inferior to the Father, as is a derived, dependent being, to the infinite, eternal Jehovah? It appears impossible! What! the faithful and true Witness speaking most impious falsehoods?
It is said by some, that Christ and the Father are one, only as Christians are one with God and Christ, and one another. As Christ intercedes; "That they all may be one; as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they may be one in us." The oneness here is only a moral oneness: or being of one spirit, and one design. But is there nothing more of equality, between God and Christ, than a
moral oneness? How then is the blood of Christ called the blood of God? Does the oneness between Christians and God, render the blood of the martyrs the blood of God? or of any avail to atone for sin? Why not, as well as the blood of Christ, if the martyrs had all the oneness with God, which Christ possesses? There is both a moral and a natural oneness between God and Christ. And to the moral oneness, and not to the natural, that clause in the intercession of Christ relates. But this by no means disproves an essential oneness between the two first Persons in the Godhead. Such a oneness other scriptures teach does exist. And this clause in the intercession, hints nothing to the contrary. It relates to that kind of oneness, which exists among Christians.
The following divine testimony establishes the equality of Christ's Divinity with that of the Father. "That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." How is the Father honored? He is honored as the independent eternal God. How then must the Son be honored, in order to be honored as the Father? Surely as the independent, eternal God. Or else he is at an infinite remove from being honored, as is the Father.
The following passages evince the proper Divinity of Christ. 1 John iii. 5; "And ye know that he was manifest to take away our sins, and in him is no sin." Who was manifest to take away our sins? God is the only antecedent to the pronoun HE in the text. Verse 1, -- "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when be shall appear, we shall be like him;
(God) for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he (God) is pure. -- And ye know that he (God) was manifest to take away our sins."
Again, "And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh." -- There is and must be an overwhelming mystery, to short-sighted creatures, in the union of Christ's two natures, that he is Immanuel, God with us: "Which things the Angels desire to look into." -- Those, who would attempt to divest this subject of mystery, do violence both to the spirit and the letter of the testimony of God himself upon this subject. For God informed that Christ's name should "be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace." And he asserts, that "Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh." Here, the Logos, in the first of the Gospel of John, who "was made flesh, and dwelt among us," is, as he was by John, called, God. Here he was manifested in human nature. And here we are divinely taught, that without controversy it is a great mystery. *
* Some inform us, that this text is, in our reading, incorrect. It is said that, in some ancient Greek MSS. it read?, "Great is the mystery of godliness, who was manifest in the flesh." And in one MS. -- "which was manifest in the flesh." I will now assign my reasons, why I am well satisfied with. the present reading in our Bible.
1. We have much authority in favor of it. Many Greek MSS. it is confessed, have the passage, as we have it. And it is said, that "only two undisputed testimonies, among all the Greek MSS. exist in favor" of the reading, "who was manifest in the flesh." (See Panoplist for April, 1811, page 310 --) The noted Alexandrian MS. in the British Museum, "has been the subject of much doubt and dispute, owing to the controverted word having been in some of the lines (essential to determine its character) touched by a modern
David says, "Taste and see that the Lord is gracious." The apostle, alluding to the same passage, says, "If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious, -- to whom coming, as to a living stone,
hand." (Ibid.) Mill, Walton and Barriman declare in favor of this MS.'s conaining our present reading.
Good authorities arc found among the fathers in favor of our present reading. The Apostolic Constitutions, in the second century, have the text as it is in our Bible. Lactantins, in the fourth century likewise: and Gregory Nyssen, and Chrysostom, of the fourth century, have it thus, very clearly. And Thedoret of the fifth century.
2. I can, to my satisfaction, account for the alteration of some of the ancient MSS. from "God was manifest in the flesh," to ** who was manifest in the flesh." For this alteration, in Greek MS. was very small, and might be the effect of innocent mistake; while the alteration from who, to God, must have been more likely to be the effect of wicked design. This I will now show. In the ancient Greek manuscript-writing, the word for God was written thus, ØC. (Ths, for Theos.) And the word for who, thus, OC, (Os.) The Greek letter Sigma being written like the English C. The only difference here between the word for God, and the word for who, is a dash in the middle of the Omicron, or O, to convert it into the letter Theta, having the sound of Th. How easily then might this small dash, in the centre of the O, have been by some transcriber omitted through mistake? and the mistake overlooked? Yea, how easy to conceive, that this dash, in the ØC, in the text under consideration, might, in some original, from which a transcriber was copying, be effaced, by age or use; so that, in glancing his eye upon it, he might mistake OC for ØC? But to suppose so important a dash inserted in the copy, when it was not in the original, and thus to convert it from who, to God, must appear much more like the effect of design, and, much more improbable.
3. The reading "who was manifest in the flesh," is ungrammatical; and it utterly obscures the sense. With what antecedent can the who agree? Not with godliness; for that, in the original, is in the feminine gender; and who is masculine. And it cannot agree with mystery. For that in the original is of neuter gender. It therefore has no antecedent. Neither does it make sense. It informs not, who was manifest in the flesh. It is like the following broken sentence; What an astonishing visit! Who come here to-day, was a singular character. Thus obscure is the text rendered, by reading who, instead of God.
disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious." Here Christ is chosen of God, and precious. In some sense then, he is a different Person from God the Father. Yet he is the Lord (Jehovah) in those words of David, who is the very God. Hence they are two Persons, and yet one God.
In Isai. liv. 5, we read, "For thy Maker is thy husband; the Lord of hosts is his name, and thy Redeemer, the holy One of Israel: The God of the whole earth shall he be called." But is not Jesus Christ the Redeemer, and the husband of the Church? -- The affirmative is undeniable. And it follows, that Christ is the Person, who there speaks, and who is the Maker of the Church, the Jehovah of hosts, the holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth. In the Song of Solomon, Christ is the Bridegroom of his Spouse. And in the New Testament the Church is the bride, the Lamb's wife. Says Paul, "I have espoused you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the bead of the Church; and he is the Saviour of the body." Here is the very Redeemer, the holy One of Israel, in that passage in Isaiah. Most evidently the Being in ail these passages is one and the same. Christ then, is the true and living God. though in some sense a distinct Person from the Father.
4. The text, in our present reading, perfectly accords with the language of the Bible. It has been made to appear, that Christ, in the language of the Bible, is God, the true God, the great God, the mighty God. And Christ was manifested in the flush. The sentiment then if true, whether the text speak it, or not. And the opponent has done but little towards carrying his point, even could he prove, that the text ought to be read, "who was manifest in the flesh;" and thus that it has no meaning; which yet cannot be proved.
Again; in Isaiah xlv. 23, Jehovah swears by himself, that to him "every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear." When God swears by himself, it is "because he can swear by none greater." Heb. vi. 13. But from this passage in Isaiah, Paul informs the Romans, that "we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it 18 written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then, every one of us shall give account of himself to God." -- in these two passages, we are taught, that Christ is God, the Judge, and the Jehovah, who sware by himself; and therefore knew none greater than himself, by whom to swear.
It is the essential prerogative of God, to search the heart. Of the wicked deceitful heart of man, God says, "Who can know it? I, Jehovah, search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways." Much of such language as this do we read, of the eternal Jehovah. "The Lord's throne is in heaven; his eyes behold, his eyelids try the children of men." "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." -- "His eyes behold the nations." "God looketh on the heart." "The righteous God trieth the hearts and the reins." "For thou, even thou only knowest the hearts of all the children of men." Now if we can find this very prerogative ascribed to Christ, we shall then find ourselves warranted to say, that Christ is indeed God, who only knows the heart of man. But we do find this very thing. "Jesus did not commit himself unto them, (the Jews,) because he knew all men; and needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man." "And Jesus knowing their thoughts, (Greek, Jesus seeing their thoughts,) said. Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts." "For Jesus
knew from, the beginning, who they were that believed not; and who should betray him." Should any, to evade this evidence, say, Jesus knew these things by information from God; I answer; let Christ himself decide it: The "Son of God," Rev. ii. 18,23, says, "And all the churches shall know, that I am he, who searcheth the reins and hearts, and I will give unto every one of you according to your works." Christ does not say here, that I am given and enabled to know the hearts; but "I am He, who searcheth the reins and the hearts." I am that very God of the Old Testament, who said, "I, Jehovah, search the heart, and try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways." Christ accordingly adds, "And I will give unto every one of you according to your works?" As if he had said, I am the very Jehovah, who by Jeremiah spake these words; and all my churches shall know it. What opinion then must we form of those, who are laboring to disprove, in the churches, this divine sentiment; and are laboring to propagate the opinion that Christ is derived, and totally distinct from that Jehovah, who searches the hearts? Peter did not view his Saviour thus, when he devoutly appealed to Christ's omniscience; "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee." And Thomas; when he said, "My Lord, and my God."
Could Jesus Christ have made the above application of an essential divine prerogative to himself, if he were only of derived Divinity, or were a constituted God; acting only by a delegated authority? Would not a magistrate, who thus treated his government, be guilty of high treason? And would not the crime be of a deeper die, in proportion to the grade of his magistracy? Should the lowest magistrate seriously assume to himself the title;
and all the honors due to his king, or emperor, it would be a serious offence. But it would be a much more serious offence, should a prime minister do it.
The infinite Jehovah, God of Israel, says, Isai. xliii. "Thus saith the Lord, that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called theee by thy name; thou art mine. -- I am the Lord thy God, the holy One of Israel, thy Saviour -- Every one that is called by my name; -- I have created him for my glory, I have formed him, yea I have made him. -- Before me there was no God formed; neither shall there be after me. I, even I am the Lord; and beside me there is no Saviour. -- Thus saith the Lord your Redeemer, the holy one of Israel; -- I am the Lord your holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King."
Here the one God is the Creator of Israel. But did not Christ create Israel? John 1. 10: "He was in the world, and the world was made by him; he came to his own, (came to the Jews, whom he had created, and taken into covenant with himself,) and his own received him not." "All things were made by him, (Christ) whether they be thrones or dominions, principalities or powers." Surely then Christ was that God of Israel, that holy One.
That holy One of Israel declares, that no God was formed before him; and none should be formed after him. Can Christ then be a distinct God from him, and formed or derived after him? Surely not. This holy One of Israel was their Saviour; besides whom there is no Saviour. But is not Christ the Saviour of Israel? The apostle says of Christ, "Neither is there salvation in any other." Inevitably then Christ is that holy One, that just God and Saviour of Israel, beside whom there is no
other God, no other Saviour. There is no evasion of this conclusion, without denying the decisions! of God himself. Jude says, "Now unto him, that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever, Amen." And 1 Tim. ii. 3; "in the sight of God our Saviour." In these texts Christ is most clearly identified with the infinite Jehovah: Not merely morally one, as are all the saints: But essentially the same Being; the same infinite God.
This Jehovah, Israel's Redeemer and holy One, says in the above passage in Isaiah, "I am the Creator of Israel, your King." But is not Christ the King of Israel? Nathanael said to him, John i. 49; "Thou art the King of Israel." The Jews expected their Messiah to come in this character. Pilate hence inserted it on his superscription -- "The King of the Jews." The Jewish rulers wished to have the following substitute, "He saith I am the King of the Jews." Christ then is that King of Israel, that Jehovah, that holy One, in Isaiah. That same Jehovah, God of Israel, says, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else." But Christ says, "I will draw all men unto me." Here he applies to himself the very idea of the above text. David, after describing Christ's humiliation, says, "All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto the Lord." But this, Christ applies to himself, by inviting all men to come to him; and predicting, that all men on earth (in the Millennium) shall come to him.
If Christ be not the true and living God, the Jews were justified by the divine law given them, in putting him to death, as a deceiver and a blasphemer.
For the law of God given to them expressly provided, that any person, who should attempt to draw them off to the worship of any God, beside the true Jehovah, God of Israel, should be surely put to death. Even should he "give a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder come to pass;" yet if the object were, to lead them to worship any, beside the true God, they should surely put him to death; their "eye should not pity, nor spare, nor conceal him." If Jesus Christ then, were not the true and living God of Israel, the Jews were obliged, by their own law, to put him to death. For, notwithstanding the notices he gave them of the dependence of his humanity on God, Christ did present himself to the Jews, as God. They understood him thus. "Thou being a man, makest thyself God." He did receive, and never forbid, worship paid to himself; and be taught "that all men should honor (or worship) the Son, even as they honor the Father." Now therefore, if Christ were not the true God of Israel, did he not teach them to worship another beside the true God of Israel? And if he did, how could the Jews be exempt from the demand of their law, that such an one should be put to death? To say, that Christ acted under the divine commission, and exhibited plenary evidence of his being sent of God, though he were a distinct being from the God of Israel? and that God permitted him to receive divine honors, gives no relief in this case. For it is to say, that God acted contrary to his own law; that he thus denied himself; and betrayed his people. For the One God of the Jews did positively and abundantly assure them, that there was no God beside himself; that he knew not any; none formed before him, or after him; that he was their Saviour; and
there was no Saviour beside him. Surely then, if Christ presented himself to the Jews, as their Saviour, and an object of worship; and yet as a being distinct from the infinite Jehovah, the God of Israel; I see nothing why he ought not, according to the law of God, to have been executed as a deceiver!
To represent Christ as a being distinct from the Father; and to allow, that he is at the same time called God; is to own two Gods. There is no possibility of evading this charge, till it can be made to appear, that one real God, and one constituted God, do not amount to the number two. To say they are one in spirit, gives no relief; for so are all the saints. To say the two distinct Beings are one in original essence, helps not the case. For upon the scheme of the opponent, they are now no more one in essence, than is a human father and his son. But these are as really two, as are two angels in heaven. There is no evasion of the charge of having two Gods, but by allowing that the Father, and the Divinity of the Son, are equal in one Godhead, and that in some mysterious and essential sense, they are absolutely one , God. And we find it a fact, that they are abundantly so represented. And I see not why it should be less offensive to believe in two distinct Gods in heaven, than to believe in one God, mysteriously consisting of Father, Word and Holy Ghost. *
* Let not the advocates for the sentiment, that Christ n literally derived from God, is a Being distinct from the Father, and does receive worship, ever more please themselves that they are Unitarians, and worshippers of one God. We are worshippers of one God. But they are worshippers of two Gods. It is impossible for them to evade the charge. We hold to a Trinity of Persons in one God: they to a duality of distinct Gods. What have they gained, in point of consistency, in renouncing our theory? Have they not incurred far
The law of God demands, that we should "love the Lord our God," with all the heart, soul, strength and mind. But is not the same love demanded towards Jesus Christ." Was man ever cautioned against loving Christ more than God; or too intensely? We are much cautioned against loving the creature more than the Creator. But we are so far from being cautioned against loving Christ more than God, that we are clearly taught, that to love Christ, is to love God. Not merely that love to Christ is an evidence of love to God; for love to Christians is thus; but love to Christ, is itself love to God. As he that hath seen Christ hath seen the Father; so he that hath loved Christ hath loved the Father. Accordingly man's want of love to God is expressed, and threatened as follows; "If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, maranatha." Does the divine economy render idolatry essential to an escape from the wrath to come? Must a derived being, totally distinct from the infinite Jehovah, the God of Israel, be supremely loved; or man be lost?
Isaiah says of the wicked, in the last days. "They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his Majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth." But in the New Testament we learn that it is Christ, who at that very time arises to shake terribly the earth, and to data wicked nations to pieces, as with a rod of iron. * It is Christ,
greater difficulties, than they have escaped? By what name ought they to be called? Surely, not Unitarians. There is no more real unity in their two Gods than between "Adam and Seth."
* Psalm ii. 8.
who at the same period says, "Behold I come as a thief," * Christ is the Word of God, riding forth, at that day, upon his white horse of victory, Rev. xix. 11--. In those passages, while Christ is the Word of God. and the Son; he is at the same time the Jehovah, who "alone shall be exalted in that day."
Surely it is the Kingdom of Christ, which is to be exalted in the Millennium. No believer in the Gospel will doubt of this. It is called "the Son of man coming in his kingdom." Yet "Jehovah alone shall be exalted in that day." And it is "the God of heaven, who will then set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed." Dan. ii. 44. Christ then, is Jehovah alone, the God of heaven. Although relative to Christ's humanity, he is made. head overall things to the church; and God the Father hath highly exalted him, and given him a name, that is above every name; yet relative to his Divinity he is, according to the clear sense of the above passages, viewed in their connexion, Jehovah alone, the God of heaven, exalted in that day. Accordingly the prophet says, of that very period, Isai. xl. 9-11, "Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God. Behold the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him; behold his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a Shepherd, he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." -- This is Christ coming in his kingdom. Yet he is "the Lord God." The saints triumph; "Lo this is our God; we have waited for him, he will save us." Jehovah is our Judge, Jehovah is our Lawgiver, Jehovah
* Rev. xvi. 15.
is our King, be will save us. Are all these things said of a derived, dependent being, who is distinct from the Father? Is it such a being alone, who is "exalted in that day?" These Scriptures teach, that Christ in his Divinity, is one with God; and is the great, the living and true God.
Jesus Christ relative to his human body, said, "Destroy this temple; and in three days I will raise it up." "But God raised him from the dead." Christ here decides, that he is God. And he decides that he has two natures in his one Person, divine and human; And sometimes he speaks of himself in relation to the one, and sometimes in relation to the other. When he spake, in the days of his humiliation, of his dependence on God, he spake in relation to his mediatorial character, as will he shown. But when he spake in relation to his divine nature, he spake as God. I will raise up this temple of my body in three days. "I will; be thou clean." To the dead, "I say unto thee arise." "Lazarus, come forth." To the stormy lake, "Peace, be still!" To the Disciples, "I will make you fishers of men." "The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins." "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will do it." "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come unto you." In relation to his humanity, and mediatorial character. Jesus wrought miracles in his Father's name. In relation to his Divinity, he wrought miracles in his own name, and received the praise of it. Should any doubt relative to the correctness of this distinction, between Christ's two natures, let Christ himself decide it. "I am the Root and offspring of David." * Here, in a short clause, he speaks in relation to both his natures.
* Rev. xxii. 16.
He is David's Root, and Davidís offspring; David's Jehovah, and David's Son; David's God, and David's descendant: David's Creator, and his seed according; to the flesh." Can any believer in Revelation doubt whether Christ does possess two natures? and whether this fact together with his constituted mediatorial character, may Solve all the seeming contradictions o Christ's dependence on God; and yet his being himself the very independent God? if they will doubt, they are not the first, who have doubted. The cavilling Pharisees doubted; and our Lord put them to silence with the very truth in the above text. While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying; The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his Son?" This reduced them to silence. Christ was both David's Lord, and Son. In his Deity, he was the former; in his humanity the latter. And had the Pharisees understood (and had grace enough to acknowledge) this evident sense of the scriptures concerning Christ, they could have answered his question, with great ease, by saying; Christ's Divinity is David's Jehovah, whom he set always before his face, and worshipped us God. But Christ's humanity is made of the seed of David, according to the flesh: Or, Christ is David's Root, and offspring.
The two natures in Christ are often clearly distinguished from each other, and things said of him, which apply to but one of these natures. As 1 Cor. xv. 27; "But when he saith, All things arc put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, who did put ail things under him." Here reference
is had to Christ's glorified humanity; that it is the infinite God, who glorified the man Christ, and put all things under his power. Compare this with Phil. iii. 21; -- "the Lord Jesus Christ -- who is able even to subdue all things to himself." The word in the original, in the former of these texts, (importing the putting of all things under Christ) is the same with that in the latter text translated to subdue. Christ, in the latter text is said to be able to do the very thing, which God, in the formed text, is said to do. The former text then, alludes to Christ's humanity; the latter to his Divinity.
I might multiply evidences of Christ's proper Deity, till almost the whole scripture would pass in review: But it is needless. A few more sacred testimonies however. I must beg the reader's patience to peruse, before I close this section. The great truth before us does not rest on a few obscure hints, or detached passages; but it is interwoven through the Bible; and forms the essential basis of its glorious scheme.
Many scriptures, which I esteem divine testimonies to this point, I omit, because the decision is not carried so clearly upon their face. I do not mean to make a quotation, which I do not believe is decisive in favor of the real Deity of Christ.
Paul tells the Corinthians, that he was determined to know nothing among them, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. But was not the glory of God his object? Jesus Christ then, in Paul's view, was God. To preach Christ, was to preach God. To know Christ, was to know God. Christ was Paul's only object. Yet God was his only object. This accords with the words of Christ, "He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father."
Paul again speaking of Christ, who will appear in judgment, the King of kings, adds, "Who only
hath immortality; dwelling in the light, which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to whom he honor and power everlasting. Amen." * If Christ only hath immortality; then surely he is God, the only living God; or else there is no God of immortality. The Father is not, in this text, excluded, but included. But the passage shows the unity of God and Christ. Each of them only hath immortality.
Paul says; "I am dead unto the law, that I might live unto God." Yet he tells us, "For me to live is Christ;" -- "that we should live to him, who died for us, and rose again." "Ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God with your body and spirit, which are God's." Thus with Paul, Christ was God. God and Christ, in point of real Divinity, were with Paul convertable terms.
Man is commanded to rejoice and glory only in God. "In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory." "As it is written: He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." "And rejoice in hope of the glory of God." "We also joy in God." But yet Paul says, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." "Your rejoicing being more abundant in Christ" -- "in whom though now ye see him not. yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." There is no avoiding the conclusion, that in those passages, God is Christ; and Christ is God.
If Christ be not the living God, hut a derived, dependent being, in his highest nature, why did the apostles work their miracles in his name, and not in the name, of God? -- Should they not have performed them in the name of that divine Power,
* 1 Tim. vi. 16.
who actually did the work? Would they be divinely directed to perform their miracles in the name of a derived, dependent being? and to have the praise ascribed to such an one? This would be most unaccountable. All power belongeth unto God; yea unto the Lord our God belongeth the issues from death. The praise of God's works ought to be given to him, and not to the instruments of his operations. It is one great object of Revelation, to teach creatures devoutly to distinguish between instruments of good, and God the infinite giver. And would Christ have directed his apostles to violate this principle? Yea, would he have violated it in his own Person and examples?
It is true, Christ repeatedly gave notice, that all he did was from God; and of himself he could do nothing. But it is as true, that he is as abundantly represented as being himself the great, the living, and true God; and operating as such. How shall we dispose of this seeming contradiction? The clew has already been hinted: Christ has two natures in his Person. He is God; and he is man. And he is constituted a Mediator. And in passages concerning Christ, reference is sometimes had to the one of his natures; and sometimes to the other. This is a most evident fact. "I am the root and offspring of David." Here, in the pronoun I, are contained God and man. As God, he wrought by his own power; as man, he wrought by the power of God.
In the various communications of Christ, and in the records given of him, this seeming paradox is abundantly exhibited, for the trial of man's faith, that Christ was God; and he was man; that he was independent; and was dependent; and the essential attributes of God, and of man centered in him. This stumbled the Jews; and has stumbled
thousands. "Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." "Unto you, therefore, who believe, he is precious: But unto them, who are disobedient, the stone, which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner; and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them, who stumble at the word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed."
Christ says "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, but the Son; and he, to whom the Son will reveal him." This appears to indicate, that those two Persons in the Godhead are equally incomprehensible; and thus equally divine. No wonder then, that when God was manifested in the flesh, his name should be called Wonderful; that it should be declared a great mystery; and that it should be to many a stumbling block, and foolishness.
Jesus Christ is the Life. "I am the resurrection and the Life." "I am the way, the truth, and the Life." "In him was Life." "This is the true God, and eternal Life." Christ is not merely the way to life; but is himself said to be eternal Life; the Prince of Life. Christians have eternal life. But they cannot be called the Life. Christ as a man and Mediator speaks of this power of Life being given him. But if nothing appertained to Christ, but a derived nature, which received this gift of the Father to have life in himself, surely Christ could never, with such emphasis, be called the LIFE. If the person of Christ had no life, but a given life, he would not have said, "Because I live, ye shall live also:" But, because God lives ye shall live also. The Life of their lives must be in God. Yet it was in Christ: who therefore is God.
Christ, upon promising the Comforter, said, "He shall glorify me; for he shall take of mine, and show it unto you." Do we not here learn, that Christ is God, one with the Father? Would the Holy Ghost have it as a first object, to glorify a derived dependent being? "He shall take of mine, and show it unto you." But what docs the Holy Ghost show to Christians? He shows them the character and glory of God; and the way of salvation. The following is the result of this discovery, as the apostle decides relative to all the new-born; "And rejoice in hope of the glory of God." The Comforter then, in order to glorify Christ, glorifies God.
John remarks, that Christ's miracles manifested forth his glory. Again; "Of his fulness we have received, and grace for grace." If Christ had no nature, but what did in fact receive divine communications, why is it said to be his glory, that was manifested forth? and his fulness, from which Christians receive their divine aids and consolations? Do they not receive these things from God? And did not Christ's miracles manifest forth the glory of him, who said "My glory I will not give unto another?" Did Paul's miracles manifest forth Paul's glory? Or was it of Peter's fulness, that the healed Eneas, and the raised Dorcas received? Surely not. And if Christ, in his whole Person, were as dependent as was Paul, or Peter; does it not as really give the glory to another beside God, to ascribe it to Christ, as to ascribe it to Paul or Peter?
Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthened me." But was not Paul's sole dependence on God? "The Lord stood by me and strengthened me." "Now he, that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing, is God;" "For
it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to do." "God who hath given unto us his holy Spirit." Surely then, Christ is God.
Jesus Christ will fashion the bodies of his saints "like unto his glorious body, according to the working, whereby he is able to subdue even all things unto himself." -- Christ's voice raises the dead. "I am the resurrection and the life." But we are informed, that "The Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them." In this therefore, we learn the truth of Christ's words, "I and my Father are one." "I am in the Father, and the Father in me." Christ is called "the Author and Finisher" of the Faith. But this same faith, we are informed, is of "God's operation." "It is the gift of God." Inevitably then, Christ is God.
Read the description of Christ, in Rev. i. chapter; and the ascriptions of glory to him there found. "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins, in his own blood, -- be glory and dominion, forever and ever. Amen." Are the heavenly hosts idolaters? Is this Saviour, whom they worship, a merely derived, dependent being? If he be, I see not that the Bible can be exonerated from the just imputation of establishing a most deep and refined system of idolatry! While it calls men to the worship of the one only living and true God; it at the same time institutes, and justifies the worship of one, who is totally distinct from, and dependent on the one only living and true God. A sentiment which appears an infinite absurdity!
Behold the dying Stephen "full of the Holy Ghost," devoutly "calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus receive my spirit." Could such an address be made, under an infallible guide, to any being short of the infinite God?
In the Apocalypse, the infinite Divinity of Jesus Christ is repeatedly and clearly ascertained. Some of these evidences of Christ's proper Divinity have been already noted. One or two more I will now exhibit. The Person, who styles himself the Alpha and Omega, in the Revelation, who is evidently Jesus Christ, (see Rev. i. 8-18; ii. 8; xxi. 6, 7,) says, "He that overcometh, shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." These are the words of him, who in the preceding verse says, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." These are the very titles that Christ repeatedly in this book takes to himself. It is Christ then, who here speaks, and says, of him that overcometh, "I will be his God, and he shall be my son." But would Christ say such things as these, if he were not the true and living God? Would not the affirmative make Christ a blasphemer! He is the God and fountain of life, to the Church triumphant! and this too, it appears, after the Son shall have given up the mediatorial kingdom, at the end of the world, that God may be all in all! Christ has a nature in his person, that even there will be the God and Fountain of life to all, who shall overcome. This idea accords with the repeated inspired assertions, that Christ has a kingdom, which shall have no end; even though his mediatorial kingdom shall close at the end of the world.
Of the new Jerusalem, it is said, "The Lamb is the light thereof." And, "The throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall serve him, and they shall see his face, and his name Shall be in their forehead." Rev. xxii. 3, 4. Are not God and the Lamb here presented as one and the same God? What is the antecedent to
the pronoun HIS and HIM, in the singular number, repeatedly used in this text? God and the Lamb are the antecedent. But if God and the Lamb be two distinct Beings, why is it said in relation to both of them, "his servants shall serve him, and shall see his face, and his name shall be in their forehead?" No doubt the Father and the Lamb are in a sense two, as has appeared. But if the Lamb were not essentially one with God, it could not have been said of the New Jerusalem, "The Lamb is the light thereof;" nor could God and the Lamb have been represented, in the above text, as one Being, whose servants serve him, who see his face, and his name is in their forehead.
Jesus Christ is the Judge of the world. In Isai. xl. 10, it is said, "Behold the Lord God will come his reward is with him." But Christ says, Rev. xxii. 12, "Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me." Christ then, is that Lord God in the former passage. The great day is hence called, interchangeably, the day of Christ; as Philipians i. 10; and the day of God; as 2 Pet. iii. 12. "God will judge the world by the Man whom he hath ordained." "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." "And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man." In these and other scriptures, we learn, that the Son is the Person of the final Judge. And these and similar scriptures relate to the mediatorial character of Christ. To this official character the judgment is indeed a thing committed. But is there nothing in the Person of the final Judge of the world, but what is dependent? This is the question. And all that has been adduced in this section, goes to decide that in the Person of the Judge
is infinite Divinity, as well as humanity. He is the root, as well as the offspring of David.
I will note some of the scriptures, which relate to the Judgment, and the Person of the Judge. And let the reader decide whether Christ be, or be not, really God.
Psalm 50. "The mighty God, even the Lord hath spoken, and called the earth, from the rising of the sun, unto the going down thereof. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. , Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence; a tire shall devour before him; and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness; FOR GOD is JUDGE HIMSELF. Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee; I AM GOD even THY GOD." -- Here is the final Judge of the world. Is this the true God? Or is this a derived and constituted God?
The remainder of the Psalm furnishes evidence no less decisive, that the Being, who there speak?, is the infinite God. We are assured it is he, who knows all the fowls of the mountains; and that nil the cattle upon a thousand hills are his. The world is HIS and the fulness thereof. He says, "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee; and thou shalt glorify me. But unto the wicked God saith, -- These things hast thou done, and I kept silence. -- But I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thee. Now consider this, ye who forget God; lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me; and to him that ordereth
conversation aright, will I show the salvation of God."
This Psalm must be viewed as the words of Christ. It is evidently the words of the very Person of the final Judge. But "the Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." And of himself, as the final Judge, Christ says, "All who are in their graves, shall hear his voice, and shall come forth" -- "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them." Most exactly these accounts, and what follows this last quoted passage, (Mat. xxv. 32, -- to the end,) accord with the above solemn description, in the 50th Psalm. "The mighty God, even the Lord hath spoken and called the earth -- He shall call to the heavens and to the earth -- Gather my saints together unto me." Here is the voice of the Archangel, and the trump of God. But Christ tells us, it is his voice, that the dead shall hear, and shall come forth; (John v. 25, 28.) When Christ speaks of the Son of man coming in the glory of his Father, he speaks of himself in relation to his humanity, and to his constituted official character.
The Father in such passages, represents the fulness of the Godhead, Father, Word, and Holy Ghost. But Christ speaks also of his coming in his own glory. "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory." And surely, in the 50th Psalm, Christ does come in his own glory, as God. "God is Judge himself. -- I am God, even thy God. -- The mighty God, even Jehovah." Would the meek and lowly Jesus have given such a representation of himself, if he had been only a derived, dependent being? Impossible! In this Psalm is
presented the same Angel of the Lord, who appeared to Abraham, whom Abraham calls Jehovah, and whom he addressed as the Judge of all the earth, who must do right. Christ is the Judge. "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." Yet the Judge is God. Paul says, "We are sure the judgment of God is according to truth, against them who commit such things." -- "And thinkest thou, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?" -- "And treasureth up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God?" "Is there unrighteousness with God? How then shall God Judge the world?" -- Surely then, though Christ is the Judge; yet, in the New Testament, as well as the Old, the Judge is God himself. "The Lord himself shall be revealed from heaven, in flaming tire, taking vengeance on them that know not God." Mere is the Son of man coming in his glory. This text appears to be in allusion to that passage in the 50th Psalm, "A fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him." The two passages relate to the same Person and event, -- the appearing of Christ, the Judge of the world. The apostle calls it the glorious appearing of the great God, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
It is evident, from the view taken of these passages, which relate to the judgment, that Jesus Christ is the very God, as well as man. He is in some mysterious, sense distinct from the Father, who judgeth no man: Yet he is infinitely superior to a derived dependent being. "God is Judge himself." God and the Judge are essentially one.
There is no doubt but the three Persons in the Godhead will all be engaged in the great
Work of the final judgment. But the divine exhibition is represented as being made through the Person of Christ. When it is said, "the Father judgeth no man," it cannot mean, that he is excluded from the solemn scene, or has nothing to do with the judgment. Nor can it mean, that the Person, who is the manifest Agent in the judgment, is essentially inferior to the Father. For neither of these ideas does the Bible admit. But the sense appears to be this: The Judge will be rendered visible, by his glorified Immunity; it will appear that this humanity is united to infinite Divinity; that this infinite Divinity of the Judge is possessed of some personal distinction from the Father, who is at the head of the economy of mediatorial grace; yet that there is an essential unity between the Person of the Judge, and the Father; and that the whole Godhead are united in that momentous and final Assize.
Some explanations of difficulties relative to things seemingly contradictory being said of Christ, will be given toward the close of the next section.
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This has been repeatedly taken for granted, in the preceding section. I shall now endeavor to prove it from the word of God.
Some are of the opinion, that the soul of Christ, being inconceivably superior to humanity, was literally derived from God, as a son from a father, some time before the creation of the world. That this derived literal Son of God was the Logos, or Word, the Messiah. That the names and attributes of God are ascribed to him, as being of the essence of the divine nature, and by divine constitution. That the Father sees fit, that this his own literal Son should be honored, as himself; though he is a being totally distinct from him, as was Isaac from Abraham; and is as dependent, as a creature. This Being, who they teach is a God by nature, and is constituted a real God, is the soul of Christ. He came down, and took only a human body, when he was born of the virgin.
This view of the soul of Christ, I think, is refuted in the preceding section. I now purpose to show that the Logos, the second in the divine Trinity, did take into personal union with himself, manhood, a human soul and body; and is hence really man as well as God. I will attempt to exhibit some of the evidence that this sentiment is dearly taught in the word of God.
Jesus Christ himself says, "I am the Root and offspring of David." Could he, according to any known sense of language, be David's offspring, without possessing a human soul? An assertion in the use of language, contrary to its known import, with unknown mental reservations, has ever been esteemed falsehood. Christ assures us, he is David's offspring. And in a multitude of instances he calls himself the Son of man. Do we find the offspring, -- the sons of man, -- without human souls? Have we ever been taught to affix to the terms, offspring, and son of man the idea of a human body only? If not, what right have we so essentially to vary from the common use of language, without express warrant thus to do, when the words are applied to Christ? At such a rate, man may construe any sentence in the Bible in any way, which his fancy may surest.
We are informed, that "Christ was made of the seed of David, according to the flesh." This may seem at first view (or taken most literally) to favor the idea of the opponent, that Christ took only a human body. But this is indeed "judging after the outward appearance." Let the word of God explain itself. What is the common use, in the Bible, of the word flesh, when used in such a connexion? Let this point be ascertained by the following passages. Relative to the flood, we are informed, "All flesh died." God afterward said, "Nor shall all flesh be cut off any more." "For who is there of all flesh, that heard the voice of the living God, speaking out of the midst of the fire, as ye have, and lived?" "If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto him the spirit, and his breath, all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust." Unto thee shall all flesh come." "The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together." "All flesh is as grass." "All flesh shall know that I, Jehovah, am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob." "By fire and by sword will the Lord plead with all flesh." "All flesh shall come and worship before me." "No flesh shall have peace." "Cursed is the man, that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm." "The Lord hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh." "I will bring evil upon all flesh." "All flesh shall see that I the Lord have kindled it." "The gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh." "Be silent, O all flesh before the Lord." "Except those days be shortened, there shall no flesh be saved." "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." "Thou hast given him power overall flesh." "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified." "That no flesh should glory in his presence." "We wrestle not with flesh and blood." I might proceed, in quoting such texts: But it is needless. We learn from these quotations the language of the Bible upon this particular; that by the word flesh, in such a connexion, is meant, not merely the body of man, but the whole of man. And whenever the word imports otherwise, notice is clearly given of it, in the sense of the passage.
When we therefore read of Christ's being made of the seed of David, according to the flesh; and of God's being manifested in the flesh; what right has man to exclude from the term the human soul, and say, that Christ took only a human body? This mast be merely arbitrary, and not according to the general language of the Bible. Of Christ we read, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." Of whom (i. e. of Israel) as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all God blessed forever." "Knowing that God
had sworn with an oath to him, (David) that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ." Can we, in the view of the above quotations, feel warranted to say, that those expressions, of Christ's coming in the flesh, import that he took only a human body? As the word flesh, in the general language of the Bible, when applied to man, imports soul and body; why is not this the import of the word, when applied to Christ's coming in our nature? It is arbitrary, and unprecedented in the Bible, to say, that the word flesh, in such a connexion, relates to Christ's human body only.
But this point is settled by the apostle to the Hebrews, in various passages. "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the Angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor." Jesus then, was "made a little lower than the Angels." A preceding passage ascertains, that the words are in allusion to the exclamation of David, in Psalm viii. 4, 5, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? -- For thou hast made him a little lower than the Angels." From this, the inspired writer infers, that Christ was made a little lower than the Angels. But the deduction rests on this ground, that Christ is a real MAN. For if he be not a real man, then it does not follow from man's being made a little lower than the Angels, that Christ was made a little lower than the Angels.
The same apostle further decides the point. "For both he that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren." How are Christ and his people one, in the sense here expressed, if he have no human soul? His assuming proper humanity, is the very point on which the
oneness rests. "Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren." But can a human body, without a human soul, constitute this oneness with his human brethren? Most certainly it cannot. The apostle proceeds. "Forasmuch then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same." Inasmuch as they were human; he likewise became human. He partook of flesh and blood, in the same sense in which they partake of them. But surely they 'have not only bodies, bat souls. The sense of the passage under consideration, is not this, that Christ took a part of what they had; or took a body without a soul: But the sense is, that he fully participated with them in their nature. In the Greek it is more emphatically expressed; -- "Himself also, in like manner, participated of the same." The Greek adverb here used (parapleesioos) is more emphatical than the English rendering "in like manner." It indicates, with the adjoining words, that Christ fully participated with his brethren in their nature. But if he took only a human body, he was very far from fully participating with his brethren in their nature; and the assertion in the text appears in that case an untruth. It purports to assert, that Christ became what man in his formation was. But we know the soul is the man. Christ taught the Sadducees, relative to the resurrection, * that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob now live, though their bodies are dissolved. Their souls then, are themselves.
The apostle to the Hebrews further teaches, "For verily he (Christ) took not on him the nature of Angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham." It is true the word nature here, before Angels,
* Mark xii. 26, 27.
is not in the Greek. "He took not on Angels; but he took on the seed of Abraham. I acknowledge the Greek may admit the following rendering; He took not hold of Angels; but he took hold of the seed of Abraham. But the following consideration favors the sense given by our translators. Christ did indeed take on himself the seed of Abraham. He became one with Abraham's seed; and their elder Brother. In the divine promise to Abraham, Christ is identified with Abraham's seed. I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee." In the word seed here, we find, by other scriptures, three subjects are comprised. 1. Christ. "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ. 2. Believers are included. "If ye are Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs According to the promise." 3. Abraham's natural offspring were included. "And I will give unto thee and to thy seed -- all the land of Canaan." "Ye (infidel Jews,) are the children of the covenant, which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, and in thy seed shall the kindreds of the earth be blessed." * Here are Christ, believers, and their natural offspring, all comprised in the term seed, in that covenant of grace with Abraham. Now therefore, can this scriptural representation admit, that while Christ is so classed with believers and their children, as to be known under one and the same term with them, the Seed of Abraham; yet that he is so dissimilar to them, as to have no human soul. Surely, if Christ took no human soul, he is sot, according to any known language, the seed of
* Acts iii. 29.
Abraham. He, in that case, took on neither the nature of Angels, nor the seed of Abraham, in the sense of any language known to man.
Further, says the sacred writer: "Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren; that he might be a merciful and faithful high Priest, in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them, that are tempted." Can this sacred text leave any doubt on the mind, whether Christ took a human soul as well as body? Could he, in all things, be made like unto his brethren, without a human soul? The sympathies of humanity, expressed in this text, clearly imply, that Christ had a human soul; or I should despair of learning the true sense of language. And the history of Christ demonstrates, that he did possess all the feelings of humanity. In correspondence with this, the inspired writer further remarks; "For we have not an high Priest, who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Inspiration here unequivocally decides, that Christ had all the feelings of human nature, sin only excepted. And did he have these, without a human soul? The supposition of the affirmative is a glaring absurdity! and is contradicted by much of the language of this epistle.
Could Christ so abundantly call himself the Son of man, if he had no human soul? Is not this appellation, which is so generally assumed by himself, fully calculated to show, that Christ meant we should understand he had a human soul? And would he deceive mankind?
It has been esteemed a great excellency in the scheme of man's salvation, that we have a Saviour
in our own nature; that the Medium of our access to God is a glorified man; not in appearance only, but in reality. And that he is, at the same time, in real union with the Godhead. That our heavenly Bridegroom is thus of the same nature with his bride; as well as one with the infinite God. Here is the Antitype of Jacob's ladder, which reached from earth to heaven. Its foot, on the surface of the earth, has been supposed to relate to Christ's humanity. And its top, at the throne of God, to relate to his Divinity. But if Christ have not real humanity, and have not, at the same time real Divinity, the original seems utterly to fail of answering to the copy.
To say, that Christ's taking merely a human body, may account for all that is said of his appearing in human nature, does not satisfy the feelings of common sense upon the subject. Should an angelic soul appear in the body of our deceased friend, it would not constitute him the person of that friend; nor even a human being. If the Angel Gabriel for once is called the man Gabriel, because he assumed a human appearance; we cannot hence infer, that all, which is said of Christ's coming in the flesh, and being the Son of man, may be consistent with his really possessing no more of humanity, than Gabriel for once appeared to possess, -- a human body. We should need something very express to convince us, that out heavenly Bridegroom, the Man Christ Jesus, the Man whom God hath ordained to judge the world, the offspring of David, made of the seed of David according to the flesh, the emphatical Seed of Abraham, who was made in all things like unto his brethren, touched with the feeling of their infirmities, and tempted in all things like as we. are, yet without sin, and is called the Son of man, about
twice as often, as he is, the Son of God; yet had nothing human, but an animal body! The soul is the man. And a human body without a human soul is not a man. Of Christ, God says, "I have exalted one, chosen out of the people." But a mere human body, containing for a soul an offspring literally derived from God, as a son from a father, and who is called the mighty God, and the everlasting Father, could never answer to this description, of "one chosen out of the people." Such a being, as we are called upon, by some, to believe Christ to be, utterly fails of answering to the descriptions given of Jesus Christ, both as to his Divinity, and as to his humanity.
Our Lord is represented as saying, (Heb. x. 5,) "A body hast thou prepared me." Adequate reasons may be assigned, for this declaration of Christ, without supposing that he meant to exclude from his human existence a human soul. The whole text, from which these words of Christ purport to be a quotation, reads thus, Psalm xl. 6, "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened;" in the Hebrew, bored: relating, as expositors inform, to the law, Exo. xxi. 6, where a servant, willing to serve his master all his days, should have his ear bored, as the seal of his engagement. Christ, when he became God's servant on earth, to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself, represents himself as receiving this seal of submission. "Mine ear hast thou bored." The apostle, quoting this text, is by the Holy Ghost instructed to vary from its letter, and to give it a sense, which immediately relates to Christ's sacrifice of himself for sin; which was more literally to be made in his body. The text quoted, is as though Christ had said, The bodies of those beasts offered in sacrifice thou didst not,
eventually desire. They had reached their end, and were ceasing; being in themselves insufficient to take away sin. The sacrifice of my body, typified by them, must do this. And here I am. This body for sacrifice thou hast prepared me; as was implied in my ear being bored, in Psalm xl. 6. But does this teach, that Christ took nothing human, but a body! By no means. Paul furnishes an explanation of this phraseology of Christ. He, for the same reason that Christ's body is spoken of as in the above text, (viz. in allusion to the bodies of beasts offered in sacrifice) says, "I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Can we infer from this text, that those Roman Christians had no human souls? No more are we to infer from the other phraseology, that Christ had no human soul.
The word body is sometimes used (even where there, is no allusion to ancient sacrifices) to represent the whole man. "The same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body." Is the soul here excluded? Men say, Some body is coming. No body was there. It is needless to remark, that in such cases, the soul is not excluded.
Some may imagine, from the words, that Christ "took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man, and being found in fashion as a man;" that he took only the external likeness, the body of a man. But this is not the sense of that text. The form of God, in the same text, we have seen, imports, that Christ is really God. And the form of a servant in this text, imports a real servant. "Behold my servant, whom I uphold." Why is it not then a fact, that the likeness of man. and the fashion as a man, in the
same text, mean a real man? The whole analogy of the text, and the sentiment of the sacred Word, decide in the affirmative. This phraseology of the text cannot have been designed to teach, that Christ is not the true God; that he did not take the place of a real servant; and did not become a real man. For, that he did take real manhood, clearly appears in the sacred Oracles.
As Christ is possessed of real Divinity, and real humanity mysteriously united in his one Person; so all the Perfections of God, and all the properties of a perfectly holy man, unite in the Person of Jesus Christ. Accordingly we find them ascribed to Christ. Sometimes the properties of his humanity are ascribed; and sometimes the perfections of his Divinity. In the former case, he is the dependent, circumscribed man. In the latter, he is the independent, omniscient, almighty God; and his blood is of infinite avail. Hence we are never to adduce an argument, from what is said of his humanity, to disprove his Divinity. Nor ever to adduce an argument, from what is said of his Divinity, to disprove his humanity.
The union of the two natures in the person of Christ, and his constituted mediatorial character, furnish a fruitful source of objection and error among short-sighted depraved beings. It is true, things are said of Christ, which at first view, seem a real contradiction.
To afford relief in this point then, let it ever be remembered, that the sacred Oracles do furnish us with three classes of sacred texts, which relate to Jesus Christ.
One class relates simply to his humanity. In this we are assured of his being born of a woman; being a child; being twelve years old; increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and
man; his hungering, thirsting, being weary; sleeping; being touched with the feeling of our infirmities; being fed, and clothed: and many such things. These things alluded to the "man Christ Jesus."
A second class of sacred texts, alludes to him, as the true and infinite God. This class of texts has been adduced in the sixth section of this book. Here he is the Mighty God; the Everlasting Father; the true God, and Eternal Life.
A third class alludes to Christ as God and man united; -- but a constituted Mediator; acting in an official capacity, which is assumed, and which rests on a stipulation between him and his Principal, God the Father. Here, though he is the infinite God, yet as Mediator he has a God as well as we. "I ascend to my Father, and your Father; to my God, and your God."
Many texts might be quoted, as belonging to this class; but a few may suffice.
"I came not to do mine own will; but the will of him that sent me." "I seek not mine own glory; but the glory of him that sent me." "I can of myself do nothing." "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the work." "The Father loveth the Son, and hath committed all things into his hands." "As the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given unto the Son to have life in himself, that he should give eternal life to as many iis he hath given him." "All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth. "Him hath God raised up, and made him to be both Lord and Christ," -- "and placed him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principalities and powers." "Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and
a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and Forgiveness of sins." "Of that day and hour knoweth no man, nor the Son; but the Father only," i. e. the Son never received this to reveal to man; and hence knows it not as Mediator. "I know you not whence you are: depart from me." -- Or I never knew you as given to me. "Then shall the Son also be subject to him that did put all things under him, that God may be all in all." Or, then shall the mediatorial character be eternally relinquished, as having fully accomplished its design: and the infinite triune God shall thenceforth exist as from eternity.
These and similar texts have by many been adduced to disprove the real Divinity of Christ. But they are nothing to the purpose. They prove only that the infinite Divinity of Christ humbled himself to act in a subordinate and constituted grade between offended heaven, and offending earth. And in this office work Christ acknowledges a dependence on the infinite Godhead. As the character is a constituted one; so the official acts are generally noted as dependent on the Father: while yet the eternal Divinity of the most sacred Incumbent, now and then, bursts through the habiliments of its constituted degradation, and shines with its own native infinite lustre, as the eternal, the true and the living God, equal with the Father, and one with him.
Man if he will presume to cavil, may say; How can two such dissimilar natures unite in one person? The Divinity of Christ, upon the trinitarian theory, had a personal existence eternal ages before his humanity existed. And his human soul seems to be represented as a person. How can two such natures constitute one person? Reply. Nicodemus might repeat his question, "How can these
things be?" while yet facts are incontestable. There is a difference between an unanswerable objection against a point; and an unanswerable question in relation to it. The latter does by no means amount to the former; though too many inadvertently imagine it does. Questions unanswerable by man do attend every work of God; and certainly then must attend the existence of God himself. "Canst thou by searching find out God?" "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." This might seem enough to silence every cavil against things clearly revealed.
It is a fact, that Christ has clearly taught us that he is both divine and human; and hence that the perfections of the one nature, and the properties of the other, do unite in him. "I am the Root and offspring of David." He does assure us that "of myself I can do nothing;" and yet says, "I am the Almighty." He does assure us that his Person was the son of man; and yet the everlasting Father. That he is the seed of Abraham; and yet the mighty God. That he was born of the virgin, and God was his Father; and yet he is "without father, without mother, and without descent; having neither beginning of days, nor end of time." These things we are taught of the Person of Christ. And there is no medium between believing, and disbelieving this "record, which God has given of his Son." Christians believe; not because they can comprehend all that is said concerning Christ; but because God has declared it. They believe on divine testimony, and "set to their sea! that God is true." The objector stumbles at the mysteries of godliness. He cannot believe. The dispute is between him
and Christ; and Christ will decide it with him, in due time.
There are things in the representations given of him, who is wonderful, and whom no man knoweth, but the Father, which I design never, in this life, to attempt to answer, nor explain. Let me repeat the sacred passage, "Secret things belong to the Lord our God; but those which are revealed, to us, and our children forever." Man ought never to be wise above what is written. The things above stated of Christ, are revealed; and to believe them, belongs to us, and our children. It is revealed, "I am the Root and the Offspring of David." It is thus revealed, that these infinitely dissimilar natures are united in the Person of Christ, and are both comprised in the pronoun I, in this text. But the mode, in which these two natures unite, to constitute one Person, is a secret thing, which belongeth to God. Hence to attempt an explanation of it, would, in my opinion, be both prescription and impiety. And I shall never feel myself pressed with any argument, urged from the difficulties, which may seem to attend the union of those two natures in one Person, any more than with the question, how can God exist eternally or independently? Or, "How can these things be?"
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It has already been ascertained, that there are two in the Godhead, of equal Divinity; God and Christ, represented as two; yet essentially one. But if there are two, in the sense explained; no difficulty is increased by supposing there are three in the Godhead. In this point of light, I shall consider all the arguments, adduced in favor of the real Deity of Christ, and of his distinction from, and yet union with the Father, as fully in point, to prove the doctrine of the Trinity. The business of this section therefore, I shall view as in a great measure accomplished, by that of the section on the real Divinity of Jesus Christ. I shall here rest on every argument there adduced, as directly in point.
The doctrine of a Trinity in Unity in the Godhead, rests solely on divine Revelation. The light of nature teaches nothing in favor of it; and it can teach nothing against it. This is a doctrine above our reason; and above all that we can ascertain from the analogy of creatures. But this doctrine cannot be pronounced contrary to reason. It is a mystery, but can never be shown to be an absurdity, that there should be in some sense three in one undivided Godhead. It is not pretended that there are in God three in the same sense, in which there is one; nor one in the same sense, in which there are three. But there are in some important sense three; yet in another important sense, the three are one.
Trinitarians have often enough given notice, that the term persons, as understood when applied to men, fails of fully answering to the Three in the Godhead. That the term is adopted, because they can find no better. But that they do not suppose the Three Persons in the Godhead to be so perfectly distinct from each other, as are different persons among men. That in some important sense they are distinct from each other; while yet they are really one. May this ever be remembered, when the term persons is applied to the Three in the Godhead.
The Bible throughout does teach, that there is something in the mode of the divine existence, which lays a foundation for the one God to speak of himself as I, thou, and he. These Three have different names, like three persons; while equal works, names, and honors of pure Divinity are abundantly ascribed to each. This fact appears upon the* face of the Bible, of the Old and New Testaments. If it appeared in but one, or even several solitary passages, it might possibly be said to be a figurative speech; and the Trinitarian sentiment might fail of support. But the sentiment is found throughout the sacred book.
The passages which indicate a plurality in the Godhead, where the number three is not noted, I shall adduce as fully in point to prove the doctrine of the Trinity. We find a plurality in God in the beginning of Genesis. We find the same in the last chapter of the Revelation. And we find it all the way through the sacred volume. The whole economy of grace is represented as resting in the hands of these three Persons, in mutual concert; one covenanting with the other; and each having his stipulated part in the vast design of man's salvation. These different Persons speak to, and of
each other, as of different Persons; ascribing to themselves, and to each other, the names and works of God. And yet they often assert, or teach, that there is but one God." "The Lord thy God is one God." "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Here is perfect Unity in the Three.
I shall now adduce some arguments in favor of this plurality in the Godhead, and of the doctrine of the Trinity. The word Aleim, or Elohim, in Hebrew, translated God, is in the plural. "In the beginning Gods created the heavens and the earth." And notwithstanding all that Jews, Arians, Socinians, and infidels say to the contrary, I am far from being convinced, that this plurality in the name of God, does not indicate a plurality of Persons in the Godhead. Jewish converts (having given up their enmity against the Divinity of Jesus of Nazareth) have viewed this plural word a forcible argument in favor of the doctrine of the Trinity. John Xerese, a Jewish convert in Britain, wrote an excellent address to his countrymen, upon this subject. And in his first argument in favor of the Trinity, he says; "Why else is the frequent mention of God, by names of the plural number? as Gen. i. 1, where the word Elohim, which is rendered God, is of the plural number, though annexed to a verb of the singular number; which demonstrates, as far as may be, that there are several Persons partaking of the same divine nature, or essence." * It is a fact that we find much which enforces the same idea of this converted Jew; as in the following scriptures: -- "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our, likeness." "The man is become as one of us, to
* Con. Mag. vol. III. pag. 24.
know good and evil." Pass on, to different parts of the Bible, you abundantly find the same. "Let us go down, and confound their language." "And the Lord God said, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" What a changing of persons is here found from I, to us! as the beginning of Genesis; "Let us make man." "I have given you every herb." The singular and the plural are thus used interchangeably. There is Unity, as well as Trinity, and Trinity, as well as Unity, in God. This appears, in that verbs, pronouns, and relatives, united to plural nouns of the name of God, are found in the singular number. On the contrary, verbs and adjectives relating to God are often found in the plural. As Gen. xx. 13; "And it came to pass when God caused me to wander from my father's house." In the Hebrew the verb rendered caused, is in the plural. When God they caused me to wander.* And such instances are declared by ancient critical writers to relate to the mysterious Trinity. Gen. xxv. 7, "Because there God appeared unto him;" the word rendered appeared, in the original is plural; -- God they appeared, or were revealed. 2 Sam. vii. 23; "Israel, whom God went to redeem." The verb her* rendered went in, the original is in the plural; God they went to redeem. Deut. iv. 7; "What nation is there so great, that hath God so nigh unto them?" The adjective here rendered nigh, is plural in the Hebrew. God, who are so near. Josh. xxiv. 19; "He is a holy God." In the Hebrew, the word rendered holy is plural. He is a God, who are holy; or holy ones. Psalm lviii. 11; "Verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth." In the Hebrew the word rendered judgeth is plural. -- A God, who are judging in the earth.
* See Jones, page 87.
Mal. i. 6; "If I be a Master, where is my tear." In the. Hebrew it is, "If I be Masters --." Isai. liv. 5; "For thy Maker is thine husband." In the Hebrew both are plural; Makers, and husbands. The Hebrew word for Maker, in Isai. li. 13, is used in the singular; "And forgetest the Lord thy Maker." Thus sometimes God is our Maker, and sometimes our Makers. Eccle. xii. 1; "Remember now thy Creator." In the Hebrew it is plural, Creators. Adjectives denoting some divine attribute, and standing for the name of God, are often found in the plural. Prov. ix. 10; "The knowledge of the Holy, is understanding." The word Holy here is plural in the Hebrew; -- the Holy Ones. The same occurs in Prov. xxx. 3; "I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the Holy." Hebrew, Holy Ones. In Eccle. v. 3, where God is called Higher than they; (oppressors) the word rendered Higher is in the plural.
In Dan. iv. relative to Nebuchadnezzar's great tree, God is repeatedly spoken of in the plural. "This matter is by the decree of the Watchers, and the demand by the word of the Holy Ones." "They commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots." In chapter v. 18, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar a kingdom and glory. And in verse 20, "They took his glory from him;" they, i. e. the Most High God; or of the Persons in the Godhead.
This plurality in God, accounts for that often and abundant changing of persons, in the same sentence, relative to God, which we find through the Old Testament; like the following; "When the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion, I (not he) will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria." Here are
the third and first persons, in the same sentence, relative to God. "I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts in the day of his (not my) fierce anger." "I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he (not I) pull thee down." "Neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he (not thou) hath prepared for him that waiteth for him." Such instances are numerous. And they perfectly accord with a plurality of Persons in God: but would be unaccountable upon any other principle.
It is said by a great writer, that God is spoken of, in the plural number, more than an hundred times, in the Bible. This most clearly favors the doctrine of the Trinity. And pronouns, relatives and verbs being in the singular number, when connected with these plural nouns, forcibly teaches the unity of the Trinity: that while they are personally Three, they are essentially One.
It by no means follows, that if there be Three in one God, the neuter pronoun it may be applied to God; because it is applied to a human triumvirate, or a council. Some have imagined, that because we say of a council, When will it sit? or when will it rise? So if God consist of a Trinity of Persons, the same language must be able equally to apply to him; as, It is omniscient; i. e. God is omniscient. And because this neuter pronoun does not apply to God, as it does to a council; therefore God cannot consist of different Persons. But this deduction is incorrect. For the members of a council of three, are not one in the sense in which the Three in the Godhead are one. Neither are the Persons of the Godhead three, in that full sense, in which the members of such a council are independently three. Such reasoning
then, from a council to the Trinity, fails. And it does not follow, that because the neuter pronoun it cannot properly be applied to the Trinity, that therefore there is no Trinity of equal Persons in the Godhead. Such objections are fallacious.
The term Godhead being repeatedly used, instead of the word God, has with me the weight of an argument, in favor of the doctrine of the Trinity. Why should it be so used, unless to indicate a plurality of Persons in God? Should we not conceive, that the word Theos, God, would be more proper to have been uniformly used, than to have Theiotees, Godhead, introduced, if God consisted of but one Person? It seems the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, conceived there was some weight in this argument. They therefore say, "How many Persons are there in the Godhead? There are three Persons in the Godhead, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and in glory.
Very early in the Bible, we find who these Three in the Godhead are; their number; and their names: They are God, the Spirit of the Lord and the Person predicted to appear as the woman's Seed. These three are found, under different names, through the Bible. In the last chapter of Revelation, they are "God, the Lamb, and the Spirit." In innumerable passages they are, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost; God, Christ, and the Comforter. Thus under different names they are known. They are spoken to, and spoken of, as Three; yet each really God; and each the only God; So that they are not three Gods, but one God.
Read the divine commission of baptism. "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Is not this calculated to evince that there are indeed three divine Persons in the Godhead? Why are the subjects of baptism, in this standing, sealing ordinance of God's kingdom, baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, if there be not these three divine Persons in the Godhead? This commission of baptism is indeed calculated to confirm this doctrine. The name is one; the Persons possessing it are three; "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Who can say, that here is not a Trinity of equal Persons in one God?
The same Trinity we find in the apostolic benediction. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." Who are the Three here found? Can it be admitted, that one of them, viz. the second mentioned, is the one only Person of the living God; another, viz. the first mentioned, is a totally distinct Being, a derived, and a constituted God; and the third is a Person only in figure? The real God; a real creature; and a nonentity, or the energy of God personified! Is this the Trinity, or the Godhead, of whom the church have read in their Bibles from ancient date? What is there mysterious in such a Trinity? Is it not the easiest idea concerning God imaginable? Does it not appear like having" by searching found out God?" Why then should Christ any longer be called Wonderful? or be said to have a name which no man knoweth but himself?" Rev. xix. 12. Why should it any longer stand in our Bible, that "Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness;
God was manifest in the flesh?" And why may we not presume to bring every thing, relative to God, down to the level of our own conceptions? "Vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt."
In 1 John, v. 7, 8, we have the doctrine, of the Trinity in unity of the Godhead, clearly ascertained. "For there are three, that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth; the Spirit, the water and the blood; and these three agree in one." If we be willing that God should decide this point, and willing to abide his decision; it certainly appears here to be decided, in language the most positive. *
* I am not insensible, that the authenticity of this first verse, relative to the three heavenly witnesses, is by some called in question; it being wanting in numbers of ancient Greek manuscripts. As our opponents have triumphed in the supposition of their having proved the want of authenticity in this text; and as I believe in its authenticity; I must be excused in the length of this note, in exhibiting the grounds of my confidence, that this text was in the original Epistle of St. John.
1. This verse is found in the Latin fathers, of an early date 4 as we learn in Panophst for May, 1811, page 534. The Latin was the language of the Romans, the masters of the world, at the commencement of the Christian era. In the third century, (a much earlier date than were any of the present Greek MSS. Written) reference is found, in the writings of the noted Cyprian, to this verse. In the fifth century, quotations are made from it by Fulgentius, and the authors of the African Confession. In the sixth century, Cassiodorus makes use of this text: And in the eighth, Etherius, and Beatus. Where did these early fathers find this text, if not in the writings of St. John? Cyprian suffered martyrdom, a little after the middle of the third century, under Valerian. He began his public ministry, not much more than a century after the death of St. John. Did he not know the writings of this apostle? And could such a man as Cyprian add, or diminish, and this too relative to so material a point, in the word of God? There were adversaries enough to this doctrine of the Trinity, to have detected such an interpolation, had Cyprian, or any man been disposed perversely to
Relative to these heavenly witnesses, we read; John viii. 17, -- "It is also written in your law, that the testimonies of two men is true." Christ
insert this text. After the noted Arius of the fourth century arose, denying the Trinity, and the divinity of Christ, had Fulgentius, and the authors of the African Confession, quoted this text without proper authority, it would have been ascertained, and condemned. The silence of the Arians upon this point, implies, that they could not controvert the authenticity of the quotation.
Further. In a letter from the accomplished scholar Charles Butler, Esq. (in the second volume of his Horae Biblicae) to Dr. Marsh, is contained evidence, of vast weight, relative to this point. The letter is given in the aforementioned Panoplist. I will here insert it.
"TO THE REV. HERBERT MARSH.
Dear Sir -- When I had last the pleasure of your company, I mentioned to you that I thought the argument in favor of the verse of The Three Heavenly Witnesses, or 1 John, chap. 5, v. 7, from the Confession of Faith presented by the Catholic Bishops to Huneric in 484, had not been sufficiently attended to: I now beg leave to trouble you with my thoughts upon it. I shall first copy Mr. Archdeacon Travis's account of it, from his letters to Mr. Gibbon, 3d edit. p. 57.
'In A. D. 484, an assembly of African Bishops was convened at Carthage by King Huneric the Vandal and the Arian. The style of the edict, issued by Huneric on this occasion, seems worthy of notice. He therein requires the orthodox Bishops of his opinions to attend the council thus convened, there to defend by the Scriptures the cousubstantiality of the Son with the Father, against certain Arian opponents. At the time appointed, nearly four hundred bishops attended this council, from the various provinces of Africa, and from the isles of the Mediterranean sea; at the head, of whom stood the venerable Eugenius, bishop of Carthage. The public professions of Huneric promised a fair and candid discussion of the Divinity of Jesus Christ; but it soon appeared that his private intentions were to compel, by force, the vindicators of that belief to submit to the tenets of Arianism. For when Eugenius, with his anti-Arian prelates, entered the room of consultation, they found Cyrila, their chief antagonist, seated on a kind of throne, attended by his Arian coadjutors, and surrounded by armed men; who quickly, instead of waiting to hear the reasonings of their opponents, offered violence, to their persons. Convinced
then proceeds to adduce two witnesses, -- the number demanded in their law. "I am one, that bear witness of myself; and the Father that sent me
by this application of force that no deference would be paid to argument, Eugenius and his prelates withdrew from the council-room; but not without leaving behind them a protest, in which, (among other passages of Scripture) this verse of St. John is thus especially insisted upon, in vindication of the belief to which they adhered. -- That it may appear more clear than the light, that the Divinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one, see it proved by the Evangelist St. John, who writes thus: There are three which bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.
This remarkable fact appears to be alone amply decisive as to the originality of the Verse in question. The manner in which it happened seems to carry irresistible conviction with it. It was not a thing; done in a corner, a transaction of solitude or obscurity. It passed in the metropolis of the kingdom, in the court of the reigning prince, in the face of opponents, exasperated by controversy, and proud of royal support, and in the presence of the whole congregated African church. Nor is the time, when this transaction happened, less powerfully convincing than its manner. Not much more than three centuries had elapsed from the death of St. John, when this solemn appeal was thus made to the authority of This Verse. Had the Verse been forged by Eugenius and his bishops, all Christian Africa would have exclaimed at once against them. Had it even been considered as of doubtful original, their adversaries the Arians, thus publicly attacked by this protest, would have loudly challenged the authenticity of the Verse, and would have refused to be in any respect concluded by its evidence. But nothing of this kind intervened. Cyrila and his associates received its testimony in sullen silence; and by that silence admitted it to have proceeded from the pen of St. John." *
With great respect, dear Sir, I am, &c.
CHARLES BUTLER.January 7, 1806."
The transaction here related by Mr. Travis, was at an earlier date, than was the writing of any Greek MSS. of the New Testament now extant. For none of them are, by the best judges, carried back to the fifth century. That transaction then, must give more weight of evidence in favor of the divine
* For the remaining: part of the letter, see Panoplist, volume iii. New Series, page 540.
beareth witness of me." But the third witness from the same source is furnished; 1 John, v. 6; "It is the Spirit, that beareth witness." Here
authority of this text, than its having been dropped out of those Greek MSS. can be, of evidence against it. Jerome asserts, that he found how this text had been omitted, on purpose to elude the truth, (see Jones, p. 103.)
2. Another weighty argument in favor of the genuineness of this text, follows, in the fame Panoplist, from T. F. Middleton, in his masterly Essay on the Greek article. To this, the reader is referred. (Panoplist for May, 1811, page 541.) The result of the argument is this; that the construction of the Greek, or the use of the article To, before the word ken, one, in the end of 1 John, v. 8, (the verse succeeding the disputed text, and which is found in the Greek MSS.) rests on, or alludes to the preceding, or disputed text; and thus proves its having been in the original writing of John. -- "And these three agree in (to hen) the one." What one? The one in the preceding verse, which the Three in heaven constitute. Indeed the reading in the second of these verses, seems clearly to imply the authenticity of the first. Its phraseology rests upon it; as may be seen by comparing them.
3. Mackinght, in his translation, says, that some of the most ancient and correct Vatican Greek copies have this verse. All Stephen's MSS. seven in number, and which contain the whole epistles, have this verse. The Vulgate version, (he informs) in most of the MSS. and the printed editions, have it. He notes the testimony of Tertullian, in favor of this verse, who lived in an age, in which the authentic writings of the apostles were read in the churches; This was in the second century. The Doctor likewise notes the testimony of Cyprian, in the third century, expressly quoting the latter part of this Verse, in his epistle to Jubajanus. Doctor Macknight also mentions the testimony of many Greek and Latin fathers, in following ages, some of whom, he says, appealed to the Arians themselves, as allowing the authenticity of this text. Mill therefore, (he adds,) was decidedly of opinion, that in whatever manner this verse disappeared in many Greek MSS. it undoubtedly was in St. John's autograph, or original epistle; and in some of the copies transcribed from it.
4. How much more natural and easy is it, to suppose that this verso was, at an early period, omitted through mistake, or in some way by a Greek transcriber, and in this way to have became lost from many Greek MSS. than to conceive of its being interpolated, and received by thousands, (not only of friends, but enemies to its sentiment,) as of divine authority?
again are the Three, who bear record in heaven. Christ alludes to them, when he says; "We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness."
The latter supposition is attended with great difficulties: The former with difficulties comparatively small.
5. The sentiment of the text accords with that of the whole Bible. The text contains no novel sentiment, and nothing of a doubtful nature. It may be viewed as a doctrine, which results from the general language, and scheme, of the sacred Oracles. The acquisition of the opponents then, should they take away this text, would be only like taking a bucket of water from a stream; when the fountain is flowing, to fill all up again.
6. In an appendix, to the Essay on the real Deity of Jesus Christ, by the Rev. C. Alexander, we find seven or eight octavo pages filled with evidence, in favor of the authenticity of this text; much of which is taken from works of the learned Rev. George Travis. He gives considerable of the evidence already mentioned in this note; and much in addition. To that appendix, the reader is referred. I will just advert to some of the most interesting parts of this additional evidence. Mr. A. finds this text viewed as authentic, by good authorities, in the fourteenth, thirteenth, twelfth, eleventh, ninth, eighth, sixth, fifth, fourth, third, and see the emperor Charlemagne convened the learned of the age, to revise the MSS. of the Bible. He furnished the commissioners with every MS. which could be procured, through his extensive empire. The result of their labors they presented to the emperor. There this text is found, without the least intimation that there was any doubt of its authenticity. The pious and learned Jerome, at the request of the bishop of Rome, performed the arduous work of revising the MSS. of the Old and New Testaments. He closed the work, A. D. 420; with the solemn protestation, that in revising the New Testament, he had adhered entirely to the Greek MSS. And in Jerome's Testament this verse of St. John is found, and no hint of its being dubious. What better evidence can we wish, than this of St. Jerome?
Augustine, of the same age, in his commentary on this chapter of St. John, has these expressions, "The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one." Cyrillus, in his exposition of faith, makes use of this text. Phaebadius, a bishop in France, in the fourth century, cites this verse, in his book against the Arians.
The personality of the Holy Ghost is, by some, denied. They say, the fulness of God, or the divine energy, is in the scriptures personified. But they contend, that we are not to conceive of the Holy Ghost as having any distinct personality. It is only the fulness and energy of the one Person in God personified.
Reply. That we are taught to conceive of the Holy Ghost as a Person, while yet he is one with God, appears evident. His being repeatedly classed with the other two in the Godhead, who, it has been shown, are represented as distinct Persons, seems clearly to imply that he also is a distinct Person, as much as is the Father, or the Son. Consider the three names in the commission of baptism; in the benediction; in the three heavenly witnesses; and in other Scriptures; and say, are we not here taught to believe, that the last one mentioned is as real a Person, as is either of the others? What right have we to conceive, that the
In the appendix of Mr. Alexander, is the following, resulting from his author: "The most ancient of all the versions of the books of the New Testament, from the books, in which they were originally written, it the Old Italic, (where this text is found.) This version was made in the first century, and therefore whilst St. John was yet alive; and was used by the Latin churches, in Europe, Asia, and Africa, for many centuries after his death. And thus the origin of the verse in question is, at length, earned up, not by inferences or implications alone, (however fair and obvious,) but by plain and positive evidence, to the age of St. John himself. For this most valuable, as well as most ancient version has constancy exhibited this verse, 1 John, v. 7. Throughout the vast series of one thousand, four hundred years, -- between the days of Praxias, and the age of Erasmus, not a single author, whether Patripassian, Cerinthian, Ebionite, Arian, Macedonian, or Subellian; whether of the Greek, or Latin; whether of the eastern, or western church; whether in Asia, Africa, or Europe, -- hath ever taxed the various quotations of this verse, with interpolation, or forgery." For myself, I shall henceforth rest satisfied with the divine authority of this text.
two first are Persons; and the last is a Person only in figure? How unequal a Trinity! Where has man a warrant for such a conception?
If the Holy Ghost have nothing of distinct personality, why has he an appropriate name distinct from God? Why has he titles, which import distinct personality, and which are not given to the others in the Godhead? such as, the Spirit; the Spirit of the Lord; the holy Spirit; the Comforter. And why does this representation run through the Bible? With all the numerous scriptures, which are calculated to excite a belief in the personality of the Holy Ghost, we have not a word of caution against believing in such a personality. If it be unsafe to believe in a distinct personality of the Holy Ghost, why have we not in some part of the sacred Book, at least one hint against it; when there is so much, calculated to induce a belief in favor of it. Is the Bible itself calculated to deceive man, in points so material?
The Gospel is called the ministration of the Spirit." Why is it so called, if there be no Spirit, in any sense distinct from the Father? It is the promise of our heavenly Father, to give the Holy Spirit to them, that ask him. Christians are born of the Spirit, To Mary it was said," The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee." -- It was revealed to Simeon (hupo) by the Holy Ghost, that he should not die, till he had seen Christ. Christ was led up (hupo) by the Spirit to be tempted of the devil. Christ promised his disciples, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth." Why does Christ call him "another Comforter?" The divine Saviour here ranks the Spirit with himself, who was then their Comforter. Is the Spirit then, no Person? Christ adds; "The
Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, (ekeinos) he, (not ekeinon it) shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." "When the Comforter is come, (hon) whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth forth from the Father, (ekeinos) he shall testify of me." Is not the Holy Ghost here represented as a Person? Who knows then, that he is not a Person? If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send (auton) him unto you. And when (ekeinos) he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." Here is the Agent, who convicts, and converts. "When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. -- He shall take of mine, and shew it unto you. He shall glorify me; for, he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." * Who can deny, that the Holy Ghost is here represented as an Agent, personally distinct from the Father and Christ? And this is not found in a figurative part of the word of God; but in the most literal and gracious promises.
Some have said, that inasmuch as the neuter pronoun it is sometimes applied to the Holy Ghost; we are hence taught, that he is not a Person, but a mere thing.
Reply. Critics in the Greek well know, that there is no weight in this objection. The use of the pronoun it, is a mere matter of grammar. The noun, which the old Grecian heathens applied to
* John xiv. xv. and xvi.
spirit, is of a neuter gender: Not because they supposed spirits have not distinct personalities. But such was the idiom of their language; or their notion in this thing. And in the inspired writings of the New Testament in Greek, language was adopted, as it was found. No new language was invented. A babe, in the Greek language, is expressed by a neuter noun; -- to brephos. A youth also is thus expressed; -- to paidion. And even the children of God are known by a neuter noun and article; -- ta tekna tou Theou. Are babes, youth, and the children of God, not persons, but things? The word pneuma, of neuter gender, which the Greeks used to denote spirit, is adopted by the inspired writers, to signify any spirit, whether the Holy Spirit, or spirits of angels, or of men. "Believe not every spirit -- Many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God. And every spirit, that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God." Were the false teachers, here referred to; of the spirit of the wicked one, which governs them, of neuter gender? Must we conclude that they were not persons, but things, because they are expressed by the word pneuma, a neuter noun? This word, rendered spirit, is the same, which is applied to the Holy Spirit. And if it indicate, that the Holy Spirit is not a Person; it equally indicates, that neither angels nor men are persons; for it is applied to them, as well as to the Holy Ghost. Yea, it equally indicates that God has no personality. For we read "God is a Spirit," pneuma; -- the same neuter word, in the original. The dying Stephen said," Lord Jesus receive (to pneuma mou) my spirit;" -- in the neuter gender, both article,
and noun. Does inspiration mean to teach here, that Stephen was not a person, but a mere thing? The inspired writers would use good grammar. If the noun were neuter, though expressing a person, the pronoun and relative, answering to it, must also be neuter. But every Greek scholar knows, that this affords not the least argument against the real Personality of the Holy Ghost. But it was esteemed by President Edwards, (as well as by many others) an unhappy thing, that this mere Greekism has been copied by the English, especially by the translators of our Bible; and thus neutral pronouns applied to God, This, that great divine labors in one of his sermons to show, is infinitely unworthy of the Holy Ghost; and is treating him with indignity. This unhappy circumstance of applying the pronouns which, and, it, to the Holy Ghost, has, by accustoming the ears of people to these neutral words, done much toward preparing the way to lead men more easily to doubt of the real personality of the Holy Ghost. It has made it seem to some (though without any argument) that the Holy Ghost is not a Person, but a thing! But Christ, in the afore-quoted passages, relative to the Comforter, gives to the Holy Ghost a new name, of masculine gender; and all the words relating to it, are masculine, and indicative of a distinct Personality from the Father and Christ.
We find, in the various parts of the Bible, the names, relatives, and actions of Agents, are applied to the Holy Ghost. We read of his being sent of the Father, of his coming, testifying, striving, being grieved, hearing, willing, teaching, showing, speaking, conveying, inspiring, moving, appointing, reproving, converting, and comforting. Is the language of the Holy Oracles so unmeaning, or indeterminate,
that after all, which is said of the Holy Ghost, it is erroneous to believe in his real personality? Whose wisdom can decide this? Who among men can decide, that when the Book of inspiration throughout does represent the Holy Spirit as a Person, distinct in the Godhead, yet we are not to conceive of him as being a distinct Person?
Let the following scriptures, in addition to what has been said, be devoutly weighed. "And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." "The Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work, whereunto I have appointed them." "So they being sent forth by the Holy Ghost." -- "Holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." "As the Holy Ghost saith, To-day if ye will hear his voice." Whose voice? The Holy Ghost speaking does not say my voice; but his voice, -- the voice of another Person in the Trinity. He testifies of the Father. Again. Paul preached the gospel, "in words, which the Holy Ghost teacheth." "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie unto the Holy Ghost?" "Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed to the day of redemption." "All these worketh one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." The Spirit here willeth! "Your bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost." "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the sons of God." "The Spirit suffered us not." "The Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself unto this chariot." "The Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip." "But he, that speaketh against the Holy Ghost, shall never be forgiven." "The Spirit itself maketh intercession in the saints, according to the will of God." Here the Spirit and God are represented as two Persons.
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." In the beginning of the Bible the Spirit is spoken of as a personal Agent: "The Spirit of the Lord moved upon the face of the waters." In the last chapter of this Book of grace, we have the same: "The Spirit and the bride say, Come." And through the whole sacred volume, we have the like representations. Some instances of this have been noted. Many more might be given. "Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created." "The Spirit lifted me up." "The Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up and cast him upon some mountain." * The Holy Ghost spake by the mouth of David." "Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias." "If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God." -- "The Spirit searcheth all things, ye? even the deep things of God." Here, as in numerous other passages, God, and the Spirit of God are distinguished as two Persons. Elihu says, "The Spirit of God hath made me." "And the Spirit said unto Peter, Behold three men seek thee -- I have sent them." "It seemed good unto the Holy Ghost, and to us." -- "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the Churches."
Do not these, and the numerous similar scriptures clearly indicate, that there is a third Person in the Godhead? Can this be denied, without denying plain and abundant scripture testimony? It cannot be denied, that the sacred oracles do, in fact, represent the Holy Ghost as a distinct Person in the Godhead. Who then has wisdom acute enough to correct these divine representations, which God himself has made? Is not his word the only rule of faith? Is it to be construed with words of human wisdom? or of the wisdom, which the Holy Ghost teacheth? Are the testimonies, divinely
given upon this subject, to be discredited, her cause they are not fully comprehended, or do nqt please our taste?
Relative to the Personality of the divine Spirit, does not the account given by our Lord concerning the sin against the Holy Ghost, go to substantiate it? Matt. xii. 31, 32; "Wherefore I say unto you, -- All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven hum: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." (See also Mark iii. 28, 29; and Luke xii. 10.) All sins, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme; and alto speaking against Christ, may be forgiven. Here it seems are blasphemies against the Father, and against the Son, that may be pardoned. What can the blasphemies be, which are distinguished from speaking against Christ, and from the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, but blasphemies against the Father? Sins against the Father and the Son then, may be pardoned. "But whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall never be forgiven him!" Does not this strongly indicate, that the Holy Ghost has personal existence? Can this be only the operations of the Father personified? Would it be so much more dangerous to speak a Word against merely a person in figure, than to be guilty of all manner of blasphemies against God, and against Christ? What man, after this description given by Christ, of the sin against the Holy Ghost has knowledge acute enough to decide, that no such real person exists; and that to believe. the affirmative, is a hurtful error? This account of the
sin against the Holy Ghost is clearly calculated to evince his distinct Personality.
"The fellowship of the Spirit" is mentioned, in holy writ, as well as the fellowship of the Father, and of the Son: Are we not hence taught his personal existence? Christ says of the Comforter, "He shall not speak of himself." Has he not then, a self?
While the Holy Ghost is represented as distinct in the Godhead, his essential unity with God is, at the same time most clearly ascertained. I might quote many texts to evince this: Put it is needless. A few inspired testimonies may suffice. We are assured, "He that made all things, is God." But Elihu said. "The Spirit of God hath made me." The Spirit then, is God. Christ says, "The Father in me doeth the works." But he says also, "If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God." -- The Father then, and the Spirit are one. Again. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God." But "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Here the Holy Ghost is God. "The Lord God, who spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, since the world began." Yet we read "Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet." -- The Holy Ghost here is the Lord God. "There is none good but one, that is God." But David says, "Thy Spirit is good." Here again the Spirit is God. Peter said to Ananias, "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie unto the Holy Ghost?" "Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." "Born of the Spirit," and "born of God, "are perfectly equivalent, in the Bible. Christians are the "Temple of God." Yet they are the "Temple of the Holy Ghost, which they have of God." "The heavens declare the glory of God." But it is because that God, "by his Spirit, hath garnished the heavens." The Spirit
is omniscient: "he searcheth all things; yea, even the deep things of God." It unavoidably follows, that he is God. The Holy Ghost said, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have appointed them." But we read, "No man taketh this honor to himself, but he that is called of God." The Holy Ghost then, is God. Christ was begotten of the Holy Ghost; and therefore should be called the Son of God. Hence the Holy Ghost is God; -- one with the Highest: -- "He (Christ) shall be called the Son of the Highest." "And he (the Lord God) put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; -- and the Spirit lifted me up." Here the Spirit was the Lord God. The Spirit, as the Comforter, dwells in all the saints. But it is the "High and Lofty One, who inhabits eternity, that dwells with the broken hearted." "God is in you of a truth." These Two then, are One God. Perfections absolutely divine are ascribed to the Spirit. He is, by way of divine eminence, called the Eternal Spirit; the Spirit of Wisdom and Knowledge; the Spirit of Promise; the Spirit of Truth; the Spirit of Power; the Spirit of Holiness; and the Holy Spirit; yea, the Spirit of Christ; the Spirit of the Lord; and the Spirit of God.
Thus we are divinely taught to conceive, that the Holy Ghost has both distinct personality and proper Divinity, in the Godhead. None can doubt but the Father has real personality. The Son, it has been shewn, is represented as having real personality in his proper Deity. And the Holy Ghost, it appears, is exhibited as though he were possessed of real personality, and real Divinity. Are there not then, three in one God? "the same in substance, equal in power and glory," as is expressed by the Assembly of
Divines at Westminster. I see no way to evade this result, but by rejecting or perverting the Word of God. Of the Christian, our Lord says, "My Father will love him; and we will come unto him; and will make our abode with him." And also he a-Mires. that the Comforter, whom the Father will end in Christ's name, he shall abide in all such forever. Here then are the Father, Christ, and the Comforter, three omnipresent Persons in one God, dwelling with every saint! So the Word of God expressly represents. Shall we believe the divine representation? Or shall we reject it, as incredible? We can plead numberless precedents on both sides of the question. Many have believed; and many have disbelieved. It is for us to choose with which class we will have our lot. And we should do well to consider, that the decision cannot he of minor importance. Much, very much is depending upon it. Our sentiments upon these points will lie at the root of our Religion. The reality of an atonement made for sin, depends on the real Deity of Jesus Christ. Men, who deny the Trinity, and thus the real Deity of Jesus Christ, will, with Dr. Priestly, as soon as they are prepared to follow the plainest leadings of their own sentiments, deny the existence and the necessity of the atonement; and will essentially vary the whole plan of salvation. When men begin to doubt, and shift their sentiments relative to the doctrine of the Trinity, none can tell where they will land, unless iu infidelity. Dr. Priestly acknowledges, that "he passed from Trinitarianism to high Arianism; from this to low Arianism; and from this to Socinianism, even of the lowest kind, in which Christ is considered as a mere man, the son of Joseph and Mary, and naturally as fallible and peccable as Moses, or any other prophet." This is a most natural description of the transition
to skepticism; or the process to infidelity. The way is a steep descent, and is open and slippery. It may almost be said of the first step in it, as of the approach to the harlot in the Proverbs." They that go unto her never return, neither take they hold of the path of life." And no wonder. The scheme of grace rests on the doctrine of the three Divine Persons. Christians are from the beginning, before the foundation of the world, chosen of God the Father; given to Jesus Christ, to be redeemed by his infinite atonement: and to be saved through sanctification of the Spirit, as well as sprinkling of the blood of Christ. Each of the three divine Persons has an essential part in the plan of salvation. Let one then be denied, and the plan is destroyed. The Anti-trinitarian sentiment is, in its fair implication, an axe laid to the root of the tree of gospel grace. Men of this sentiment may please themselves, that their departure is small; and all the excellencies of the scheme of grace, they will retain. But their hopes are illusory, as are his, who builds upon the sand; or who leaves a leak in his ship, and hopes it will not cause it to founder.
I might multiply arguments from the scriptures in favor of the Divine Trinity, "The Spirit of truth shall glorify me; for he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and show it unto you." Here are the three distinct Persons in the Godhead, the Father, Christ, and the Spirit of truth.
The heavenly worshippers, in their repeated ascriptions of "Holy, holy, holy," it maybe rationally supposed, have immediate reference to the Three in One, in the Godhead. Such testimonies as the following to the Trinity in Unity in God, abound in the sacred oracles, Paul
says, "I was made a minister according lo the gift of the grace of God, given unto me by the effectual working of his power." In another passage -- "That the power of Christ may rest upon me." In a third -- "To make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God." Here the same power is the power of God, of Christ, and of the Spirit. "Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord?" "The fulness of him, (Christ,) that filleth all in all." "Whether shall I go from thy Spirit." Here, (as in other scriptures.) God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, are omnipresent. As in the following; Christ says, "If any man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." Here is the omnipresence of the two first Persons in the Trinity. And Christ tells his people, that the Comforter whom he will send from the Father, shall be in them, and abide in them. Here then, is a Trinity with every saint.
Moses directs Israel to love the Lord thy God; "for he is thy life." Paul says, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory." And to the Romans, he calls the Holy Ghost, "The Spirit of life." Here is the Trinity in God, the life of his people.
John says, "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." Paul says, "The fellowship of the Holy Ghost be with you all."
"It is written, They shall be all taught of God." Paul informs the Galatians, "Neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Christ says, "The Comforter -- will teach you all things."
"I am the Lord thy God, who leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldst go." "He (Christ) calleth his own sheep by name, and leadest them." "As many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God."
Of the saints Jude says, "To them that are sanctified by God the Father." The apostle to the Hebrews says of Christ, "He that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren." And to the Romans; "Being sanctified by the Holy Ghost."
Here, and in many other scriptures, we find the Trinity in the Godhead united in all the scheme, and the operation of grace and salvation. If the arguments adduced from scripture, be by any deemed insufficient to substantiate the doctrine of three Persons in the Godhead; it will be in vain to adduce any other scriptural evidence!
Objection 1. But God speaks of pouring out his Spirit. Does not this indicate, that the Spirit is not an Agent, but merely the energy of the Father?
Answer. "This is a figurative expression. What is the thing promised? Certainly, a gracious divine operation in the soul; which implies a divine personal agency there. And what do the more literal parts of the Bible teach, concerning this agency? They teach, that it is the agency of the Holy Ghost. As our Lord says; "The Comforter, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things." "He shall take of mine, and show it unto you." "He shall abide with you forever." This appears to be the literal representation; the other the figurative.
The operations of grace in the soul are often expressed in holy writ, in allusion to the modes of
ordinances, which relate to them. The new heart is the circumcised heart; because circumcision was the "seal of the righteousness of the faith." The same operation under the gospel, is a washing with water; "having the heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, and the body washed with pure water." "By the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost." These and similar passages allude to that washing with water which denotes the operations of the Spirit of grace on the soul. And upon the same principle we find the figurative language of God's pouring out his Spirit; alluding to the pouring of water, in religious ablutions, which were external representations of the operations of the Spirit in the heart. But this language goes not at all to abate the force of the evidence, which appears in favor of the personality of the Holy Ghost. The analogy between the natural and moral worlds, has occasioned a great use of metaphorical language. But metaphors must not he so construed as to contradict literal representations. We say, the secretary of state is a prime organ of the executive. But should any one infer from this, that the secretary is not a distinct person, but a constituent part of the person of the president; he would err. And no less perhaps, do they err, who imagine, from the language of God's pouring out his spirit, that the spirit is not an Agent; but merely an operation of the Father personified.
Objection 2. The Holy Ghost never receives worship distinctly from the Father; therefore he has no distinct agency. Christ was distinctly worshipped; but not the Holy Ghost.
Answer. If the Holy Ghost be not worshipped distinctly from the Father, it is because there never was any occasion for such distinct worship. He is worshipped in the worship paid to the Father.
The Father is at the head of the economy of grace. Worship paid to the Father, is paid to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. And probably no distinct worship would ever have been paid to Jesus Christ, had it not been for the peculiarity of the case, that God was manifest in the flesh. To evidence to creatures the real and proper Deity of Jesus Christ, who appeared a man in the flesh, and to accord with the exaltation of his glorified humanity, God decided that Christ should be worshipped; that "all men should honor the Son, as they honor the Father." But there never was any occasion for such a decision relative to the worship of the Holy Ghost. We are never instructed to worship the Father, in distinction from the Holy Ghost. Is it strange then, if we are not instructed to worship the Holy Ghost, in distinction from the Father?
But is it a given point, that no worship is ever directed to the Holy Ghost? The spouse prays, "Awake, O north wind, and come thou south; blow upon my garden; that its spices may flow forth." Is not this an address to the Spirit of God? Christ, probably in allusion to this very text, says, "The wind bloweth where it listeth; and thou hearest the sound thereof; but canst not tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the spirit." Here the wind, that maketh the spices of Grace to flow, is the Spirit of God. The apostle says, "Quench not the spirit." And, "Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Is not a devout attention to the Comforter within, here demanded? And can this be distinguished from real worship? The numerous directions to keep the heart, to pray always in the spirit; and not to stir up nor awake our love, until he please, demand a treatment of the Ghost which I am not able to distinguish from
real worship. In the commission of baptism, and in the benediction, thc holy Spirit is worshipped. If the ascriptions of Holy, holy, holy," be (as it is thought) a doxology to the Trinity, then the holy Spirit here receives distinct worship. The Holy Ghost informed Simeon, that he should not die, till he had seen Christ. And upon Simeon's beholding the Babe of Bethlehem, he blessed and praised God, who had made this communication, & said "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word." Was not the Holy Ghost here worshipped? Did not the apostles and primitive Christians devoutly adore the heavenly Agent, by whom they were led? And was not this Agent the Holy Ghost? We shall find, under the next section, that the writers of the martyrdom of Ignatius of Antioch, who was cotemporary with St. John, close their narrative with a doxology to the three Persons in the Godhead, as strongly expressed, as any Trinitarian doxology at the present day.
Objection 3. Did not Jesus Christ acknowledge his dependence on the Father? that the Father in him did the works? And was not the Holy Ghost given to Christ without measure? If Christ was tilled with the Holy Ghost; -- anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power; -- and says; "The Spirit of the Lord God was upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach glad tidings" -- Wherein then did Christ need or possess any personal divinity; or any divine personality beside the Holy Ghost?
Answer. It has been noted that Christ has two natures, human and divine; that he is the Root and Offspring of David. His human nature and his official character were totally dependent on the Godhead. And this dependence Christ often acknowledged.
It was the humanity of Christ, in which "God was manifest," to man on earth. In this God held converse with man. Concerning Christ's humanity therefore, men would need information, that it laid no claim to independence. Christ made no pretence, that his human nature was divine nature; but he gave information, that All his mighty works were done by the invisible, infinite God who dwelt in the man Christ. This God within, Christ saw fit to call the Father, who had now taken that relation to Christ, and who is it the head of the economy of grace. In this economy the Father holds in his hands the honors of the Godhead, or of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is rational then, that the Father should be mentioned, when Christ spake of the infinite Divinity within him, rather than the second Person, or the third. It has been shown in an antecedent section, that in the scheme of the gospel the Mediator is dependent on the Father for his official character, and for its stipulated blessings; that these rest on the covenant subsisting between the two Persons, Christ and his covenanted head. If two men of equal abilities were prosecuting a plan, which rested on a covenant between them, and one had covenanted to act a subordinate part, this man would naturally acknowledge his dependence, in this plan, on his stipulated principal; even though, in other respects, he were equal.
And we may conceive, that such is the unity of the Three in the Godhead, that each may say, "lean of mine own self do nothing; nothing contrary to the plan mutually pursued; nothing separate from the others in the Godhead: We are one; and operate as one." "Let us make man." "Let us go down, and confound their language." "Who will go for us?" So with respect to every divine
purpose. As the Three have but one essence, so they have but one plan. And each must be infinitely unable to exercise a volition to operate contrary to this plan, or separately from it.
It is in like manner said of Christ, Mark vi. 5; "He could there do no mighty works, because of their unbelief." And in Gen. xvii. 22, the Lord Christ said to Lot, "Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing, till thou be come thither;" Christ in these instances was morally unable to do any thing contrary to the plan of the Godhead.
Each one in reality does what is done by either. Accordingly, the works which God does, are ascribed in different parts of holy writ to each one in the Godhead; though some things are more peculiarly office "work for each.
Hence Christ, speaking (as the man, whom the Jews beheld) of the Divinity, who operated within him, would naturally speak of this divine person as being the Father; because nothing was done without the Father; and he is the Head of the economy of grace subsisting between the Three in the Godhead. The Father would of course be mentioned first, when the Three were mentioned. And he would often be mentioned alone, as expressing the whole of Deity. This latter must be the case, when Christ informs, "The Father, who dwelleth in me, doeth the works." Other scriptures explain the passage. "In him (Christ) dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Here we learn the true sense of the Father's dwelling in Christ. The Father here, is the fulness of the Godhead; the first, second, and third in the Trinity. The second is not excluded, but included.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit is mentioned, as expressing the whole of the Godhead dwelling in Christ, while he was on earth. "I will put my
Spirit upon him, and he shall bring forth judgment uuto the gentiles." The Holy Ghost was accordingly represented as given without measure to Christ. Christ was of God "anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power." Or in other words; "In him dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily." The triune God dwelt in the Person of the Mediator. The words, Messiah, and Christ, signify the anointed One. This anointing was with the Holy Ghost. He accordingly descended, in bodily shape, like a dove, on the head of Jesus, when he was inducted into his High Priest's office. "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek." But are we to infer from such passages, contrary to all the positive evidence found of Christ's proper Deity, that there is no second Person in the Godhead? Why is such a deduction to be made, any more than we are to infer from Christ's saying, that the Father in him did the works, that there is no Holy Ghost? But notwithstanding that the Father did the works, yet the Holy Ghost did them. And why not the second divine person in the Trinity likewise? He was in. the beginning with God, and was God; and has every name, title, and work of God ascribed to him. Must not this Person then, have been included? Notwithstanding that the meek and lowly Jesus, in the days of his flesh on earth, and as the man, whom the Jews beheld, ascribed the miracles he wrought to the Godhead under the name of the Father. The Father, in predicting these events, ascribed them to the Holy Ghost, in his being given without measure to Christ. And the Holy Ghost (in his many testimonies borne to Christ's Divinity) virtually ascribed his mighty works to the Divinity of Christ, in that he abundantly
testifies that he is the Mighty God, the everlasting Father. It seems that each one in the sacred Trinity often ascribed the works divinely wrought to another in the Godhead beside himself; but by no means with a view to insinuate that himself did not exist, or had no agency in the operations. No doubt the whole Godhead, who dwelt in Christ bodily, co-operated in all that was done. For they are one God. Paul says of Christ, "who only hath immortality;" 1 Tim. ii. 16. But he could not mean here to exclude immortality from the Father, or the Holy Ghost. And no more did Christ's ascribing his miracles to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, exclude from the agency, which produced them, his own Divinity.
Some may imagine, that the indwelling of the Father in Christ, and the unmeasurable elusions of the Holy Ghost upon him, constitute Christ's Divinity; that he neither has, nor needs, any other Divinity, than this. But it is to be considered, that this could not constitute Christ a Divine Person. And Christ had infinite Divinity, long before these things are represented as having taken place. It was in the days of his humiliation on earth, that the Father is said to have wrought his works in him, and the Holy Ghost to have been given him without measure. But if man will permit God to decide, Christ was in the beginning, eternal ages before this, with God, and was God! His goings forth, in the form of God, and equal with God, were of old, even from everlasting. The Father's doing the works in Christ, and the Holy Ghost's being given to him without measure, seem to be expressions, accommodated to the weakness of man; to represent the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him. But does this prove, that Christ had no divine personality? So far from this, that it
rather indicates the affirmative. For if Christ have no divine personality, how could the fulness of the Godhead be properly said to dwell in him? God is figuratively said to dwell in the believer. But I must think, that the fulness of the Godhead dwells more than figuratively in Christ; and that this indwelling indicates, that he himself equally with the other two, is a divine Person.
Some of the evidences of Christ's real and eternal Divinity have been exhibited. In the fulness of time he took on him the form of a servant. Now God says, "Behold my servant, whom I uphold -- I will put my Spirit upon him." But the sense is shown to be this, "In him dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Although Christ's own Divinity at times appeared thus veiled; yet repeatedly its glorious effulgence shone through; and Christ himself did the miracles. "I will; be thou clean. I will raise this temple of my body in three days. -- Thy sins are forgiven thee. -- Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will do it." And after the days of Christ's humiliation were ended, the evidences of his Divinity were abundant; as has been shown, in the ministrations of the apostles, and in the Revelation to St. John.
It has been suggested, that the whole economy of grace rests on the ground of there being different divine Persons in the Godhead. The Father holds and vindicates the honors of God. The Mediator redeems. And the Spirit sanctifies. And each must be infinite, in order to be adequate to his work. The Mediator must be "the mighty God," "the Almighty," that he may make an infinite atonement; and be "mighty to save." But though Christ must be the infinite God; yet in the scheme of grace, there must be one officially above him, who holds the honors of the Godhead; and
between whom, and man, the infinite Saviour mediates. Otherwise, the whole economy of grace appears a nullity. While the Mediator must be God and man, both that he may die, and his blood be of infinite avail; there must be one God, as well as one Mediator between God and man; and one Spirit of grace, to apply the atonement, and to sanctify and save the Church.
The Bible clearly reads thus, notwithstanding all the objections and cavils against this doctrine.
No doubt Christ's mediatorial character is a constituted character. He is not of constituted, but of real Divinity. But his office as Mediator is constituted. His administration, in his glorified humanity, is constituted. This appears in such language as the following: "Therefore let all the house of Israel assuredly know, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." "All power is given unto me in heaven, and in earth." It is to be exercised through the glorified humanity of Jesus Christ, till the close of the last judgment. "As the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given unto the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man." Here we learn one reason why Christ's authority is said to have been given him; "because he is the Son of man." As the Son of man, Christ can have nothing but what is given him. Hence we read, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." "Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies." "I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." "Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name, that is above every name," -- "And hath made him
Head over all things to the church." "Him hath God exalted -- to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father." "Then shall the Son also he subject to him, who did put all things under him; that God may be all in all." Much we find, in the sacred writings, of this tenor. This has induced some incautious readers to suppose, that the whole Person of Christ is derived and dependent! But these, and all similar scriptures, relate to the mediatorial administration of Christ in his glorified humanity. It is "because he is the Son of man." The whole economy of grace proceeds on the plan, of the constituted offices of Christ; while it rests, at the same time, on the everlasting basis of his real and proper Divinity. Christ in his humiliation was appointed to a certain work. And in his glorified humanity he is appointed to the government of the world, as well as to the work of intercession in heaven; till the chosen of God shall be gathered in. The power and glory of the infinite Godhead, during this mediatorial reign, are exhibited through the glorified humanity of Christ. Angels are his ministering spirits, to gather in the heirs of salvation. And sufficient notice is given, that all this is a constituted economy between the Persons in the Godhead. But when the judgment shall be finished, this peculiar economy of grace will cease, as having fully accomplished its object. But the Divinity of Christ will not cease. Nor will it cease to be a truth, that there are three in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and that these three are one.
We find, in the writings of St. Paul, the Unity of the Godhead, in opposition to the pagan polytheism asserted; from which, some attempt to derive
an argument against the doctrine of the Trinity, and the proper Deity of Christ. Says the apostle; "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." "For though there be, that are called gods, whether in heaven, or on earth, (as there be gods many and lords many.) But to us there is but one God the Father; of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ; by whom are all things, and we by him." Does this text indicate, that either of the Persons mentioned in it is not the very God? By no means. All things are of the Father, and by Christ. But this does not suggest that those two Persons mentioned are not equally divine. They act different official parts, in the economy of redemption. But each is God. In other sacred passages we learn, that all things were made by Christ, and for him; and by him all things consist. The one God in this passage is contrasted with the many gods of the heathen: And the one Lord Jesus Christ, with the many pagan mediators and demigods. But nothing is implied in the text, which militates against there being a Trinity in this one God; and nothing against the Mediator's being one of these divine Persons. It teaches, what Paul (in view of the mythology of the pagans) asserts to Timothy; "There is one God; and one Mediator between God and man; the man Christ Jesus." The heathen owned many gods; and many mediators, or deified heroes, on whom they depended to plead their cause with the superior gods. The Christians own but one of each; one God; and one Mediator; who is a man, and is at the same time the very God, as well as man. Paul says nothing here in opposition to there being a Trinity in Unity in this one God of the Christians; and nothing in opposition to Christ's being one with God, and truly the infinite
Jehovah. And. throughout the oracles of truth we are assured that he is one with God, and is the true God.
The unity of God is asserted, in the Old and New Testaments, only in opposition to heathen polytheism. But with respect to a metaphysical unity, (or such an unity as to exclude a Trinity of Persons) the scriptures teach no such thing.
Is it possible then, to evade the conclusion of Trinitarians, which lies on the face of the inspired writings, that "There are three, who bear record in heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one?"
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We are to call no man father upon earth. Our Christian sentiments must in all things rest on the sacred oracles. But the testimonies of the fathers soon after the commencement of the Christian era, relative to the doctrine of the Trinity, and of the Divinity of Christ, must amount to strong circumstantial evidence relative to these points. "If thou knowest not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock." In doubtful points, never be in haste to adopt novel sentiments.
To me it appears very evident, that the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity, essentially as held at this day by Calvinistic Trinitarians, was believed from the days of the apostles. That this was the sentiment of the Church in the three first centuries, I shall now attempt to prove. But I shall previously remark, that there are some minor and non-essential difference among Trinitarians, relative to the Three in the Godhead. On so deep and sublime a subject, they have said some different things. But their differences do not materially affect the subject. On the great essential points,
Trinitarians have agreed. They have agreed, that there are three Persons in one God, in some mysterious sense; not three Gods; nor three in the same sense, in which they are one; but in some mysterious sense three Persons in one God: and that this is the key stone to the arch of gospel salvation. Though some among the orthodox have said different things relative to the Sonship of Christ; viewing it as relating to his divine nature; and as denoting an eternal mode of existence between the two first Persons of the Trinity; yet all (I believe) have agreed, that Christ is not posterior, nor inferior to the Father; that he never had a beginning; that he is really God.
To take an occasion then, from the minor differences among Trinitarians, to justify the infinitely wider difference, of denying the eternal and real Deity of Jesus Christ, is very unchristian. To Insinuate, that because Trinitarians differ in some things, relative to the Trinity; therefore with equal propriety a man may take the liberty so far to differ from them all, as to deny the doctrine of the Trinity, and the proper Deity of Christ, looks like using artifice to conceal, or extenuate gross error. It does not follow, that because Christians say different circumstantial things, concerning Christ; therefore another may, with no greater danger, deny him. There is an infinite difference between having some different conceptions, relative to the mode of the existence of the three Persons in the Godhead; and denying that there are three Persons in the Godhead. The Trinitarian differences are all within the bounds of the great gospel truth, that there are, in some mysterious sense, three divine and equal Persons in the one God. But to deny the real Deity of Christ, and the personality of the Holy Ghost, is (in the opinion of Trinitarians)
not only to leap these bounds, but to sap the foundation of gospel grace.
I shall now adduce some testimonies of the ancients, in favor of the doctrine of the Trinity, and the real Deity of Jesus Christ. My quotations will be from Mosheim, Milner's Church History, Bishop Horsley's Tracts, and from Doctor M'Farland's View of Heresies; a prime authority in which is Dr. Jamieson's excellent vindication of the doctrine -- of the primitive faith concerning the Deity of Jesus Christ." Bishop Horsley has shown, * that all who denied the Divinity of Christ, were, in the first ages, treated as heretics.
Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, who immediately succeeded the apostles, in his epistle to the Ephesians, warns them, "to beware of heresies; to believe that Jesus Christ is God, who was incarnate; that Christ is impassible, as he is God, and passible, as he is man." Ignatius was "a pious, a venerable man, (says Mosheim,) who was the disciple and familiar friend of the apostles." We may conclude then, that he could not have mistaken "the sentiments of the apostles, relative to the Deity of Christ. And according to Ignatius, Christ had two natures. He was really God, incapable of suffering; And he was really man, capable of suffering. And to disbelieve this, with him was heresy. Ignatius called Christ, "the eternal Word." Did he then believe that Christ was derived, and began to exist? To the faithful he said, "Being stones of the Temple of your Father, prepared for the building of God, lifted up in heavenly places, by the engine of Jesus Christ, which is his cross; using the Holy Spirit as a cord." Here
* Tracts, page 184.
View of Heresies, p. 69.
Milner, vol. i. page 159.
is Trinity in unity. His comparing the Holy Ghost to a cord, was a mere figure. But it docs not indicate his belief, that the work of sanctification, in the hearts of Christians, which places them in God's temple, is wrought without the personal agency of the Holy Ghost. It must be a lame cause, that would suggest such a thing. Ignatius knew that Christians are "raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." And he well knew, that this resurrection was produced by an almighty Agent; and not by n thing. His figure of the cord must have related to the stipulated part of the Holy Spirit, in the scheme of grace, sanctifying God's chosen. Let the writers of the martyrdom of Ignatius, who must have known and approved of his sentiments of the Trinity, as well as those of the apostles, testify. They close their narrative thus; "Christ Jesus, our Lord; by whom, and with whom all glory and power be to the Father, with the blessed Spirit forever. Amen." Here, at so early a period, is a complete Doxology of equal and undivided praise to each person in the triune God. There can be no fair evasion of such testimony as this.
Justin Martyr, of the second century, in his book against Trypho the Jew, asserted the Divinity of Christ. And Trypho replied; "That Christ should be God, before the world began, and afterward be born, though not as other men, seemed to him, not only a paradox, but foolish." * In the View of Heresies, we are informed again of Justin Martyr, that he "acknowledged the Christians Of his day worshipped three Persons, (in God,) but asserted that this was the common faith, and
* View of Heresies, p. 69.
had been so from the apostles' days. He said also, that a belief of the Trinity was required of the most rude and illiterate, in order to their admission into the Church." Justin Martyr (Bishop Horsley informs) "expressly alludes to the Unitarians, as blasphemers of Christ:" And he speaks of Christ as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Clement, bishop of Alexandria, says, "He, (the Word,) is both God and man." And speaking of God and the Word, he says, "They are both one, that is to say, one God." * Here he seems to distinguish between their being one Person, and one God. They are two Persons; but one God.
Du Pin informs, that Irenaeus, of the second, century, wrote against heresies; in which work, "almost as often as he speaks of the Word, he establishes his divinity, eternity, and equality with the Father." Irenaeus exhibited a creed, of the general belief of the Christians of that age; in; which the doctrine of the Trinity is as fully contained, as in the Nicene creed. In it Christ is called "our God." And much more is said in this creed upon the personality of the Holy Ghost, than is said in the Niceae creed. Irenasus again says; "Man was formed in the beginning by the hands of God, i. e. of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." With him then, the Son was God; and the Holy Ghost was God; who with the Father make three Persons in one God.
Doctor Priestley himself acknowledges, that from the time of Justin, in the second century, to Athanasias in the fourth, all the authors, one only excepted, were what he was pleased to style,
* View of Heresies, p. 69.
Ibid. p. 70.
See the creed in View of Heresies, p. 76.
"Platonizing Trinitarians." A testimony fully in our favor. *
Melito, bishop of Sardis, says, "We are worshippers of one God, who is before all, and in all in his Christ, who is truly God, the eternal Word."
* Doctor Priestley and others have often insinuated, that the primitive Christians derived their views, concerning a Trinity in the Godhead, from the philosophy of Plato. It is indeed worthy of remark, that while those Christians derived their sentiments of the divine Trinity from the sacred oracles, the ancient schools of heathen philosophy held something which resembled this doctrine. But this is so far from being to the discredit of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity; that, rightly considered, it is much in its favor. The highest probability is, that the above idea in those heathen schools was derived and transmitted from ancient revelation made to the patriarchs; that it was a tradition corrupted, and more or less combined with idolatry; but originating from heaven, in early days, while men had the true knowledge of God.
The three divine principles, held in the schools of Plato, before the Christian era, did not originate with that philosopher. The Platomsts held themselves to be only expounders of ancient doctrines. Their triad, or doctrine of three, (T'agathon, Goodness, Nous, Intelligence, and Pseuche, Vitality.) was traced from Plato to Parmedides: from him to the masters of the Pythagorean sect; from them to Orpheus, the first of the Grecian mystagogues; and from him to the Egyptian priests, where was the foundation of the Orphic Theology. In the Theology of ancient Persia and Chaldea were similar ideas of a triple principle; as were also, in after date, among the Romans. This sentiment was transmitted to Rome from their Trojan ancestors. It was brought into Italy from Phrygia. Into the latter place it had been introduced by Dardanus, about nine centuries after the flood. Dardanus received it from Samothrace. There the persons, constituting the three to be worshipped, were known by the Hebrew word Cabirim, Mighty Ones; from the very root of the word used in the Hebrew Bible for God, in Gen. xlix. 24; and Ps cxxxii. 2. This old tradition therefore, it is most highly probable, was derived from divine revelation made to the patriarchs, in most ancient times. The Latin Penates was of similar import, or probably from the same origin; -- an idolatrous corruption of ancient glorious truth, relative to the divine Persons in the Godhead. -- As also
Bishop Horsley's Tracts, p. 43.
Athenagoras against the charge of the pagans, A. D. 177, says, "Who is not filled with admiration, that we, who declare God the Father, and God the Son, and the Holy Ghost, showing both the power of their unity, and the distinction of their order, should be called perverse atheists." This remark is found in an apology for the Christians. It therefore must be viewed as containing the sense of the Christians of that day. And what more, than is contained in this sentence, do present Trinitarians wish to say? Again: This author, speaking of the contemplations of the people of God, at that age, says, they contemplated "What union the Son hath with the Father; what communion the Father hath with the Son; what the Spirit is; and what the union and distinction are
the worship paid in Rome to the triad, Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. This sentiment probably had its origin from that of the primitive three Mighty Ones, in Samothrace; the worship of whom was, according to Eusebius, established in that island, before the days of Abraham.
Bishop Horsley has shown, that some traces of the notion of a Trinity did indeed appear in all the ancient schools of philosophy; and in many of the abominable rites of paganism. The Platonists called this sentiment Theoparadotos Theologia; a Theology given from God. Now, how came such a notion, (relative to an original Three to be worshipped) to be entertained so extensively, among ancient heathen? The most probable conjecture is, that they received it by tradition from Noah and his sons, (relative to the divine Trinity) who received it from God. A considerable part of the heathen mythology may be traced back, through the bewildered imaginations of idolaters, to doctrines, rites, and events, divinely directed; and afterward corrupted by wicked men. The triad principle running through so great a part of the ancient pagan theologies, is an indication of no inconsiderable moment, that the doctrine of the Trinity in God was taught in express revelation from heaven, previous to the writings of Moses. This is not to be viewed (as too many heretical writers have laboured to represent it) to the discredit of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Christians never learned the doctrine of the Trinity from pagans. But pagans learned it from ancient divine revelation.
of such so united, the Spirit, the Son, and the Father." Is it not here evident, that the Christians of the second century viewed the three in the Godhead as Persons, divine and equal? Those Christians studied, what was the union in the Godhead? what their communion? and what was the distinction of such so united? Surely then, the Holy Ghost, in their view, as well as each of the others, was a Person. And their queries were the very same, which Trinitarian sentiments do occasion. But had the sentiments of those Christians been such concerning the Three in one God, as some now call on us to believe, they would have occasioned no such researches. For these Christians might have comprehended the ideas of one God the Father, of his natural dependent Son, and of his fulness or energy personified, as easily as they might a sum in plain addition. But the above account given of the Church, in the second century, and while they did retain their primitive purity, clearly shows, that Trinity in Unity in God. did constitute a prime article in their creed.
Pliny, in his well known letter to Trajan, declared, that the Christians -- sung hymns to Christ, as to God. Hierocles, a heathen, charged the Christians, that "because of a few miracles, they proclaimed Jesus to be God." This was a common charge of the heathen against the Christians, that they worshipped Christ as the true God.
Du Pin, the celebrated writer upon the primitive ages, in his summary of the doctrines of the Church, in the three first centuries, says, "They acknowledged a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead, the eternity of the Word, and the Holy Ghost. They maintained, that the Word was from all eternity in God, as a Person distinct from the Father; that he made himself man to save the
world, which was lost by sin in the first Adam. -- All the fathers (he adds) of whom we have spoken, make profession of this faith, and assure us, that this was the doctrine, which all the churches in the world have received from the apostles; and that it was necessary to believe it, in order to become a Christian." *
Of Novation, who lived A. D. 250, Milner says, "The Christian faith he is allowed to have preserved in soundness. In truth there is extant a treatise of his, on the Trinity, one of the most regular and accurate, that is to be found among the ancients. It is astonishing (he adds) that any should ascribe the ideas of the Trinity mainly to the Nicene fathers. We have repeatedly seen proofs of the doctrine from the apostles' days, being held distinctly in all its parts. This treatise of Novation may be added to the list. I do not know (continues this author) how to abridge it better, than to refer the reader to the Athanasian creed. The Trinity in Unity; and the Godhead and manhood of Christ, in one Person, is not more plainly to be found in that creed, than in this cotemporary of Cyprian."
Of Tertullian, in the second century, writing against Praxias, an Anti-trinitarian, Milner observes, "He appears to have had very sound views of the doctrine of the Trinity. He speaks of the Trinity in Unity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, yet one God. He speaks of the Lord Jesus, as both God and man; Son of man; and Son of God; and called Jesus Christ. He speaks also of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Sanctifier of the faith of those, who believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He observes, that this rule of faith
* View of Heresies, p. 77.
Vol. 1. p. 337.
had obtained from the beginning of the gospel, antecedent to any former heretics; much more to Praxias, who was of yesterday." * For myself. I should be very loath to espouse a cause, which required, that such testimony as this should he destroyed. We learn from it, that the very views of present Trinitarians were maintained by the whole church in the second century, as having been received from Christ, and his apostles; and that to deny these views, with them was heresy. Tertullian again says, (as Bishop Horsley has quoted him.) "Simple persons, (not to call them ignorant and idiots,) who always make the majority of (nominal) believers; -- because the rule of faith itself carries us away from the many gods of the heathen, to the one true God, not understanding that the one God is indeed to be believed, but with an economy of a Godhead, startle at the economy. They take it for granted, that the number and disposition of the Trinity is a division of the Unity. They pretend that two, and even three (Gods) are preached by us; and imagine that they themselves are the worshippers of one God." The sense of the above passage is this. Some people, very ignorant and stupid, as to divine things, (such as are a great part, who pretend to believe the gospel) stumble at the doctrine of the Trinity. They are not ready to admit, that the one God of the Bible is to be received as having an economy of three Persons. This looks to them like holding to a plurality of Gods. They even pretend that we preach three Gods: while they hold to but one. Truly the case in the days of Tertullian, or in the second century, was not very dissimilar to that of the present day.
* Vol. i. p. 271.
Clement, bishop of Rome, cotemporary with the apostles, and whose name, Paul assures us, was "in the book of life;" said, "Have we not all one God, one Christ, one Spirit of grace poured upon us?"
The noted Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, in the middle of the third century, says, "Thus we understand the indivisible Unity of the Trinity; and we comprehend the Trinity in the Unity, without any diminution." *
Theophilus, the celebrated bishop of Antioch, on the passage of God saying, "Let us make man," says, "It was to no other, that he (God) said, Let us make, than to his own Word, and his own Wisdom." "In the language of Theophilus (says bishop Horsley) and of the best writers of the age, the Word and the Wisdom here, are used as proper names of the second and third Person in the Trinity. This assertion of Theophilus, that God spake to no other person, than to his Word and his Spirit; is an assertion that God spake to persons of no less dignity, than the Son, and the Holy Ghost." The Jewish expositors of that age contended, that God spake those words, ("Let us make man,") to Angels. And Theophilus contended, that God did not speak them to Angels; but to the other two Persons in the Trinity.
Origin, in the third century, was a most noted character. And after all that has been said by some to the contrary, it is evident to my mind, that he was a real Trinitarian. Some inform, that Origin held to only an allegorical Trinity; or that the Son is in God, what reason is in man; and that the Holy Ghost is nothing more, than the divine energy, or active force, personified. And it has
* Milner, Vol. 1. p. 451.
Tracts, p. 49.
been insinuated, that here in fact is the rise of our doctrine of the Trinity; that it originated in Origin's allegorical Trinity; that those Perfections of the one Person of God came, in an age of error, to be transformed, in the human imagination, into real personalities in God, and confirmed as such by an erroneous council! All this has been confidently suggested.
I believe this suggestion to be without foundation. We have found the doctrine of the Trinity throughout the sacred oracles. And we have seen this doctrine held, as now held by Trinitarians, long before the age of Origin, and from the days of the apostles. I much doubt the correctness of Origin's having held to such an allegorical Trinity. We indeed find one hint of it in Mosheim: (vol. i p. 334.) Not when treating of Origin; (for no such- account is given of him there;) but when treating of the contentions, which arose in Africa in the fourth century, long after Origin's death. Here Mosheim for once says "In Egypt, and the adjacent countries, the greater part embraced in this, as well as in other mailers, the opinion of Origin; who held, that the Son was in God, what reason is in man, and that the Holy Ghost is nothing more, than the divine energy or active force." I will state my reasons for disbelieving this account given of Origin. And these reasons may throw further light on our subject.
1. Such an idea concerning Origin does not appear, in the accounts given of him, by Mosheim, Milner, II. Adams, nor any author I have ever seen, except in the above hint in Mosheim, upon events long after Origin's death, and when speaking of the African contentions.
2. The claiming of Origin, by those Africans, as their precursor in their peculiar sentiments,
might be enough to lay a foundation for the historian, when speaking of those contentions, to make the foregoing remark. He might speak it as he did, upon their assertion of it. And that they did thus claim Origin, I make no doubt. For
3. Origin, on account of his fame, was erroneously claimed by various of the sectarians of the fourth century. So Mosheim himself informs, vol. i. page 366. "The Arians, who were sagacious in searching for succours on all sides, to maintain their sect, affirmed that Origin had adopted their opinion. But several writers of the first learning and note, (adds Mosheim) opposed this report, and endeavored to vindicate the honor of their master from these injurious insinuations." The most eminent of these apologists for Origin was Eusebius, bishop of Cesarea, as appears from his learned work, entitled, "An apology for Origin." This Eusebius himself held to a distinct personality, and to the eternity, of Christ. Would he then have undertaken thus for Origin, had Origin been so essentially different from himself in this particular? Mosheim says again. * "Ruffinus, in his apology for Origin, alleges, that his writings were maliciously falsified by the heretics; and that in consequence thereof, many errors were attributed to him, which he did not adopt. And that the opinions, in which he differed from the Church, were proposed by him only as curious conjectures." The Nitrian monks were ordered to give up the productions of Origin. They refused; alleging, "that the passages, in the writings of this holy and venerable man, which seemed to swerve from the truth, were inserted in them by ill-designing heretics; and that the few things, worthy of censure, were not sufficient to justify the condemnation of the rest."
* Vol. I. p. 233.
Mosheim, vol. 1. p. 318.
Bishop Horsley asserts the same things relative to Origin, in his Tracts.
4. It is but fair, that Origin should speak for himself upon this point. In Ruffinus upon Origin, we have these words of Origin; "Therefore concerning God; i. e. concerning the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost." Let us read this sentence of Origin in the language of the aforenoted sentiment attributed to him by those Africans. "Therefore concerning God, i. e. concerning that part of God, which is aside from his reason; and concerning his reason; and his energy, or active force." Could this be the meaning of that noted father? Again. Origin says; "These things saith the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. For who is the Almighty, that is to come, but Christ?" * By this Almighty, who is to come, could Origin mean only that in God, which reason is in man? Vile absurdity! Origin against Celsus says, "Celsus thinks there is no other Divinity in the human body, which Christ carried about, than in Homer's fables." And again. "In that we do sharply accuse the Jews, (the infidel Jews after the apostolic age) that they did not believe their own prophets, who in many places did testify that he (Christ) is God, God, and the Father of all." Again. Celsus said, the Christians worshipped an upstart. Origin acknowledged they worshipped Jesus; but denies that they worshipped a mere man, or one of the ministers of God. He declared Christ's unity with the Father; and adds; "Therefore we worship one God, the Father and the Son." Speaking of the heavenly hosts crying "Holy, holy, holy," Isai. vi. 3; Origin says, "They are not content to say it once or
* Con. Mag. vol. VI. p. 315.
View of Heresies, p. 70.
twice; but take the perfect number of the Trinity, thereby to declare the manifold holiness of God; which is a repeated intercommunion of a threefold holiness; the holiness of the Father, the holiness of the only begotten Son, and of the Holy Ghost." * Do those things look like Origin's holding to the aforenoted allegorical Trinity? They speak no such language; nor do they admit of such a sentiment.
Mosheim, in a note, intimates, that Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, the antagonist of Arius, followed the manner of Origin in explaining the doctrine of the three Persons. Hence one late writer labors to prove, that Alexander, and his successor Athanasius, both held only to that allegorical Trinity before noted, as ascribed to Origin. But surely, if Alexander, and his successor Athanasius, agreed with Origin, the latter held to more than an allegorical Trinity. We cannot doubt but Alexander and Athanasius were agreed upon this point. But of Alexander, Mosheim informs, that he maintained among other things, that the Son was not only of the same eminence and dignity, but also of the same essence with the Father." Is this holding, that the Son is the same in God, that reason is in man? It is making Christ a real Person, distinct from, and equal with the Father. Arius understood Alexander thus. Hence he rose in opposition. Arius held that Christ had a beginning; that he was created; that he was a kind of middle link between God and Angels. Alexander opposed this scheme, as fatal heresy. Arius, writing to Eusebius of Nicomedia, after sadly complaining of persecution, (a complaint most common with heretics!) he undertakes to give a specimen
* Jones, p. 105.
of Alexanderís preaching upon the point of their controversy; or concerning the Deity of Christ; "Who publicly says, (says Arius of Alexander,) Always God, always the Son: At the same time the Father; at the same time the Son: The Son co-exists with God, without being begotten: He is always begotten; yet unbegotten: God does not precede the Son in thought, not for a moment: Always God; always the Son:" -- No doubt Arias talks here like one in a party pet. But much we learn from this specimen relative to the real sentiments of Alexander; and the orthodox of that day. We learn, that with him, Christ was a distinct Person from the Father; and yet is truly God: That though he is said to have been begotten; yet it is not that his Divinity was ever produced; that the Father does not precede the Son, not a moment; that their two Persons were from eternity. All this Arius understood his antagonist to preach; and he knew his sentiments. Arius proceeds to inform, that when some said (meaning his own party) that God, who had no beginning, existed before the Son, they were condemned.
I shall here digress a little from the point in hand. We here learn, from Arius himself, the very ground, on which his heresy was condemned. It was because he held that God existed before the Son; the Son being produced and dependent. If any doubt whether this statement be correct, let Arius himself decide it. He adds, "We are persecuted, because we say the Son hath a beginning." Here then was the very point of the Arian controversy. It was not, as some would now insinuate, simply concerning the mode of the production of the divine Person of Christ; whether he was created; or begotten; as though both sides granted that he was produced, and dependent; but one
said, that he was created; and the other, that he was actually derived, as a Son from God. Let interested men insinuate what they will, this was not the great point of controversy. It was only a secondary object; a turn which the controversy took. But the controversy itself was this: Did the divine Person of Christ have a beginning? Arius affirmed. Alexander, and all the orthodox denied. And Arius complained, that when his followers said, God, who had no beginning, existed before the Son, they were condemned: And adds; "We are persecuted, because we say, the Son hath a beginning."
Is it not a fact then, that all, who hold that the divine Person of Christ had a beginning, whether they hold with Arius, that Christ was created; or are far more absurd. and say. he was derived; hold to the very essence of Arianism? I see not how they can escape the charge. They may say plausible things in their own favor; and may deceive the unwary with an idea, that they do not much, if any, differ from the ancient Christian fathers. But they essentially differ in the material points, the eternity, and the real Deity of Christ. Inasmuch as some of the orthodox have held to an eternal generation of Christ, while yet they held, that he was not posterior nor inferior to the Father, a play upon words may seem to derive countenance from them, in favor of the idea of an actual derivation of the Person of Christ from the Father. But it is well known, that while the above mentioned orthodox supposed Christ's Sonship related to his divine nature, they conceived at the same time that it was by an eternal generation, which indicated only an eternal mode of existence. They at the same time did hold, as an essential point, that Christ was coequal and coeternal with the
Father. * Arius held, that he was not thus; but had a beginning. The orthodox combated his error, as fatal. In doing this, they spake of the Deity of Christ as being begotten of the Father, as being of his essence, light ot light, and very God of very God. This was their manner of treating the subject; having conceived that the Sonship of Christ related to his divine nature; and that they must talk in a way, that was consistent with this. But while they talked thus, we know they did not hold, that Christ was actually, or at any period, derived from God: but that he was eternally the very God. Now therefore, to turn their own language, which they thus used, against themselves, and in favor of a literal derivation of Christ from God, and of his infinite posteriority and inferiority to the Father, when at the same time we do know their meaning, is most unchristian! It is to set them up, against their will, as advocates for the very sentiment, against which they bore their united and most fervent testimony! A line of conduct, which must be pronounced insufferable. It is really a propagation of perverse falsehood! An
* It appears indeed not certain what the primitive Christians meant by the generation of Christ. Bishop Horsley says, that when Arius stated to Alexander what he disbelieved; one point was, "that the Son, previously existing, was afterward begotten." Bishop Horsley supposed this point, which Arius denied, to have been the sentiment of the Church at that day. Arius, writing to Eusebius, taxes Alexander as preaching, "that the Son is coexistent with God, without generation." The Bishop adds, "It appears that it was the language of the orthodox, at the time of the Nicene council, that the existence of the Son was prior to his generation, and independent of it; -- coeval indeed with the eternal Father." Athenagoras says," The generation of the Son, can be only a figurative generation." Later writers, (the Bishop further notes) speak of an eternal generation, "which last (he adds) is only a name for the unknown manner, in which the Soil's existence is connected with the Father's.
amazing testimony may, in this way, be adduced from the ancient Trinitarians, and modern likewise, against themselves; and in favor of the very point, which they did reprobate as fatal heresy. And in this way, multitudes of the uninformed may be led into fatal error, while they imagine they are following the footsteps of the flock. But I appeal to every one, who has read church history, that the ancients, by their generation of Christ's Divinity, did not mean, that he ever was actually derived; but was eternal, equal with God, and was God. And it is a perversion of their known sentiments, to take their words to justify a sentiment of our own, that Christ, in his highest nature, is the Son of God, by having been, at some period before creation, literally derived from God, and being dependent on him. This is to revive the essence of the Arian controversy, which was that Christ had a beginning. *
* The above baseline of conduct has been too often indulged by those, who deny the doctrine of the Trinity. They have laboured beyond measure to believe and insinuate, that their faith is only the faith of ancient Christians. This was a darling point with Doctor Priestley. Great exertions he made, to ascertain, that his Unitarian faith was supported by good and able characters among the ancients; particularly in the first century. These exertions, Bishop Horsley has reviewed, and shown to be most perverse. That most able scholar, critic, and divine, has fairly convicted Dr. Priestley of mistranslating, of misrepresentation, and of sophistry. He convicts him of perverting ancient authors, and making them give testimony against their own evident sentiments. He shows, that "it is a Matter of equal ease with Dr. Priestley, to bring the holy scriptures, or the writings of the fathers, on all occasions, to speak his own sentiments."
Bishop Horsley proves that Dr. Priestley's notion, that the Platonic Christians of the second century obtained their Logos, (or personality of Christ) by converting a divine attribute into a person, was erroneous: That none did thus, but the Sabellians, who were condemned as heretics. §
See Tracts, p. 50, 59, 60.
Ibid. p. 119.
§ Ibid. p. 227.
But to return from this digression. I have shown that Origin was a Trinitarian, in the modern sense of the term. I think it evident, that Alexander and Athanasius were thug, who, it is said by Mosheim, followed Origin upon this point.
Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, Mosheim likewise informs, was a disciple of Origin. And as this historian informs, that "Origin was the great model, whom the most eminent of the Christian doctors followed, in their explanation of the truths of the gospel;" so we conclude Dionysius did imbibe the views of Origin, his master, whatever they were, upon the Trinity. But the views of Dionysius upon the Trinity were very different from the allegorical Trinity afore-noted. Dionysius wrote against the Sabellians, whose tenets were, that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are but one Person; making "the Word, and the Holy Ghost only virtues, emanations, or functions of Deity; that a certain energy, or portion of the divine nature was united to the Son of God, the man Christ -- and that the Holy Ghost is an energy,
Bishop Horsley convicts Dr. Priestley of making a pitiful shift, -- complaining, that he (Bishop H.) did not understand him, when he had showed his inconsistencies. But the Bishop ascertains, that he did understand him, and had proved his sentiments perverse. * This is an easy (and not an uncommon) way, with some men, of getting rid of a difficulty; crying, Oh, you do not understand my scheme: Or, you misrepresent it. Dr. P. complains, that his antagonists availed themselves, of a review of cheap and extensive circulation, in which to combat his schemes. Bishop H. tells him, that this comes with an ill grace from him; "who was every day diffusing his dangerous doctrines among the common people, in pamphlets, at the easy price of sixpence, fourpence, or even twopence." Such men will abundantly complain of that in others, of which they themselves are in the every day practice; as though none had liberty or rights, but they!
* Tracts, p. 228.
or a portion of the Father." Dionysius viewed the above scheme to be very abominable; and "showed (says Milner) by unequivocal testimony, that the Father was not the same as the Son; nor the Son the same as the Father." The bishop of Rome, fearing that Dionysius had too much given up the Unity of the Trinity, called on him for explanation. This he readily gave. -- And, in addition to his having shown, that the Father is not the same as the Son, nor the Son the same as the Father; he said, "The Father cannot be separated from the Son, as he is the Father; for that name at the same time establishes the relation: neither could the Son be separated from the Father; for the word Father implies the union. And the Spirit is in their hands; because it cannot exist without him, who sends it, to him, who bears it. Thus (says he) we understand the indivisible Unity of the Trinity; and we Comprehend the Trinity in the Unity, without any diminution." "This (says Milner) was satisfactory, and was allowed to contain the sense of Christians on the doctrine." But this account is wholly different from the idea that Dionysius and the Church at that day held, from Origin, to the afore-noted allegorical Trinity. They held to a real Trinity of Persons, different, yet one; equal, without diminution."
Why was Sabellianism, in those days, so alarming to the Church, if Christians generally held that there was no real Trinity of Persons in the Godhead? The Sabeilians illustrated their scheme as follows; "As man, though composed of soul and body, is yet but one Person; so God, though he he Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is yet but one real Person." This scheme, the followers of Christ reprobated. But why, if they had been believers in an allegorical Trinity, as some of late have insinuated? --
Which is a scheme, which takes only the soul of man, to illustrate the Trinity, instead of of man's soul and body, as did the Sabellians; and which equally, with the Sabellians, holds to but one real Person in God! The one must have been as great, and as offensive an error, as was the other. And from the alarm in the Church at Sabellianism, we may safely infer, that no such ideas of an allegorical Trinity did prevail among the body of the followers of Christ, in those days.
The truth of the above deduction is established, in the following account. Paul, of Samosata, in the third century, advanced the following sentiment: "that the Son and the Holy Ghost exist in God in the same manner, as the faculties of reason and activity do in man." * This is the very scheme, which has been imputed to Origin, and his followers, as afore-noted. A council was assembled, A. D. 269, who condemned Paul of Samosata, and degraded him from his office. This decides, that the insinuations of some in these days, relative to an allegorical Trinity, are not founded in truth.
In the fourth century, Macedonicus, bishop of Constantinople, was tried and banished for his heresy. It was the following: He taught, that the Holy Ghost was only "a divine energy, diffused through the universe; and not a Person distinct from the Father and the Son." "This opinion (adds Mosheim) had many partisans in the Asiatic provinces; but the council assembled by Theodosius, A. D. 381, at Constantinople, (to which the second rank among the general council is attributed,) put a stop, by its authority, to the growing evil.
* Mosheim, vol. i. p. 248.
This treatment of Macedonicus, clearly shows, that the afore-noted allegorical Trinity, was not the sentiment of any considerable part (if it were of any individuals) of the ministers of Christ at that period: and also, that a distinct personality was generally, if not universally, ascribed to the Holy Ghost. For the great crime of Macedonicus was a denial of this; and an idea, that the Holy Ghost was only the energy of God personified; the very thing, which some now with confidence call on us to believe!
The council of Constantinople might be the first, who by authority fixed the name of Person to each in the holy Trinity. But the idea was clearly understood from the days of the apostles. And what are the I, thou, he, and us, in the Godhead, known through the Bible, but representations of different Persons? Nothing is found in Mosheim, which appears like his viewing this doctrine, as the work of man! He speaks of it as having received its "finishing touch," as to the manner of expression, in the council of Constantinople. At the time of this council, errors were prevailing, and the Church was in a decline. But this council was a collection of the best characters then on earth. It has been esteemed, in point of abilities, piety and weight of character, second to no council of the Christian period, after the apostolic age, except the Nicene. A hint then, that perhaps there never was a worse character given to any council, bearing the Christian name, than has been given to this council, is utterly unfounded, and very injudicious! Before such a hint can be given, a man must forget, or never have known, the numerous corrupt councils under Roman Catholic jurisdiction; as well as forget the respect, that is due to the united wisdom and piety of the followers of Christ on
earth at that period! And the agreement of the above named council, how they would express their views more definitely upon the doctrine of the Trinity, was far from giving their sanction to new doctrines, or doing any thing worthy of censure. The orthodox were compelled, by the subterfuges and equivocations of heretics, to the use of more definite language. But they formed no new doctrine, as some have basely insinuated.
Thus I have endeavoured to ascertain, what was the great question concerning Jesus Christ, after he entered his public ministry on earth; that it did not relate to a derivation of his divine Person from God; but to the truth of his Messiahship; the Messiah bring understood to be God: in what sense Jesus Christ is the Son of God: in what sense he was begotten of the Father: that no benefit results from a supposed derivation of Christ's Divinity: that proper Divinity is infinitely incapable of being derived: that Jesus Christ is God underived: that Christ has a human soul and body: that the Godhead consists of a Trinity in Unity: and that the fathers of the three first centuries, after Christ, clearly testify in favor of the Trinity, and of the proper Divinity of Christ, essentially as now held by Trinitarians.
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A list of the fatal errors, which it is believed are the legitimate offspring of the denial of the Trinity in God, and of the proper Divinity of Christ, might be furnished. Among these errors are the following: either that man is not fallen and depraved; or no atonement was necessary for the pardon of sin. Or if some atonement were necessary, a finite one was sufficient. It follows that sin does not deserve an eternal punishment; and all men must eventually be saved. Hence God is not so angry with sinners, and their danger is by no means so great, as has been represented. Nor is it so great a thing for God to pardon and save the children of Adam. The law and government of God are not so terrible to transgressors, as has been supposed. Men need not feel as though it were so vast a crime to trample them under foot. Nor need they fear eternal damnation.
If men -- denying the Trinity and the proper Divinity of Christ -- are unwilling, through the impressions of a better education, to admit the above, and similar errors, as naturally resulting from their scheme; -- yet it is believed that their followers, who will come forward destitute of their better impressions, and who will reason more correctly from their own premises, will admit and embrace these errors; and will deny the true scheme of the gospel.
When the numerous attempts, which have been made by human wisdom, to reduce the doctrine of the
Trinity to a level with our familiar conceptions, are considered; we must be convinced of the futility of the attempt. And the divine precept recurs with emphasis, "Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ; for in him dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
When the wits of men have done their best upon this subject, and we see many strong men, of different schemes in it, have been in times past cast down wounded; shall we not, with adoring humility, submit to the divine interrogation, "Canst thou by searching, find out God?" May we not be convinced, that neither human philosophy, nor analogy can afford much aid, relative to this mysterious doctrine? For probably nothing in creation resembles the Triune God. "To whom then will ye liken me, saith Jehovah?" "Ye heard the voice of the words; but ye saw no similitude." And all similitudes, invented by men, to give light in this case, have failed.
The Bible is clear, that there are Three in one God. This, with their divine names, and offices, is revealed for us, and for our children. But the particular mode of their existence, what constitutes the personality of each, what is their distinction, and what their union, God has not revealed. And to pry into these things is worse, than in vain. It is impious. It is infinitely worse, than for prisoners, under sentence of death, who have a commissioner of peace, of high authority, sent, tendering them pardon; -- to demand his connexion with the government; to criticise on the internal economy of the government that sent him; and finally, to insist on handling his limbs, and body, to learn the formation of his person.
That the scriptural doctrine of the Trinity can correctly be so explained, as to silence the cavils of wicked men, I have no belief. "The carnal mind is enmity against God." And the world by wisdom knew him not. The Trinity is not the only doctrine, at which men cavil. Every distinguishing doctrine of grace is offensive to fallen man. And to give such an explanation of those doctrines, as that they shall not offend the wicked heart, is to pervert the scriptures, and handle the word of God deceitfully. This, neither Christ, nor his apostles, would ever do. But it is the very business, and one distinguishing characteristic, of false teachers. The ambassadors of Christ are never to attempt to render the doctrine of the Trinity, or any of the distinguishing doctrines of grace, palatable to the carnal mind; lest they incur the charge of being men pleasers; but not the servants of Christ.
How great is the Saviour of the world! He is the mighty God; -- mighty to save. How astonishing is the grace of heaven, the condescension of the high and lofty One! That such a Person should be sent, should come, on such an errand, be manifested in the flesh, and treated as Jesus was, is an infinite wonder! And it will be esteemed thus, in eternal ages!
How great then, are the obligations lying on man, to embrace, and follow Christ! Obligations of duty, gratitude, interest, and of every consideration, unite to enforce this duty, with indescribable weight. Words are infinitely inadequate to this subject.
Hence we learn how astonishing is the treatment, which Christ receives from gospel despisers! "Be astonished, O heavens, at this!" See perishing worms spurning at their Maker, their Proprietor, their Saviour, Supporter, and their final Judge!
Going their ways, to their farms and merchandise, and making light of the death and compassion of the Saviour, who is God, as well as man.
How tremendous will be the exhibition of justice and judgment, which such a Saviour will make, against these his enemies, when he, "the Lord himself, shall be revealed from heaven, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them, that know not God. and obey not the gospel of his Son." That day, of the glorious appearing of the great God, will decide who Christ is; and the madness of the conduct of his enemies.
How vain are the efforts of the enemies of the gospel, to overturn the system, which they hate; when it was instituted, and is supported, by Him, who is the great God. -- God over all, blessed forever! They know not their Antagonist. But they will know him. Their characters and views are multiform, from the open atheist, to the highest fanatic. But in the cardinal point they all meet, to oppose the scheme of grace; to deny the real character of Christ. "Let us break his bands asunder, and cast his cords from us," is the express, or implicit language of their hearts and lives! But Christ is mighty to destroy, as well as to save. For he is God, the Almighty! "He, that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; Jehovah shall have them in derision." He sees their day is coming.
But Zion shall be safe. Great is the holy One of Israel in the midst of her. Her Saviour is the Jehovah of hosts. The Captain of her salvation has everlasting strength. The Church then, may well triumph, and say, "This is our God; we have waited for him; he will save us." "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge."