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is considered, than that this was the great question in that period; whether Jesus Christ was the promised, expected Messiah, the great Savior prophecied of in the old testament? This was the criterion of the christian religion, the test of discipleship, and term of communion in the church; the believing and confessing this, gave a title to the christian character and communion. The most prejudiced in favor of any scheme, cannot well deny this: and to recount the evidence particularly, would be to transcribe more than half of the new testament.
Our Savior himself calls in the testimony of his Father, his own preaching and miracles, the old testament prophets, with the voice of his fore. runner John the baptist, to confirm this truth. The joint testimony of the disciples, with those converted during Christ's abode here, especially the Samaritan woman, with her fellow citizens, are manifest to this purpose. The method which the apostles took to instruct the infant churches, proves this point. As a specimen, the reader may consult Peter's sermons, recorded in the second, third, and tenth chapters of the Acts, and Paul's in the seventeenth. These, with many other places in the Acts and Epistles, put the matter past doubt to the meanest capacity. To which might be added, the manner of baptizing proselytes to the christian religion, especially from among the Jews, which was always in the name of Jesus Christ.
Now, though both the apostles and other converts freely and very frequently confessed their faith in the Son of God, (which is proved above to be the same with believing in Jesus Christ, in new testament language) yet, it is strange, that neither Christ, his apostles, nor any other, whose souls were tilled with the Spirit and grace of God, ever gave the least hint of eternal generation: or that the divine person of Christ was begotten; and that he had the divine nature communicated to him from the Father, &c. Is not the doctrines of Christ, and the apostles, sufficient ground for our faith, without so many different ideas as the wisdom of men have presumptuously added thereto?
Though the divinity of Christ shines clearly in every page of the new testament, and must be included in his character as the all-sufficient Savior, by every one that believeth in him: yet the wisdom of God directed the apostles not to break in upon the prejudiced Jews, and blinded Gentiles, with the blaze of the Deity of Christ: but to lead them by degrees from the knowledge of Jesus of Nazareth, the son of man, to the knowledge of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, their prophet, priest, and king: from the revelation of Christ, the Savior, to the revelation of Christ, the true God and eternal life; from the discovery of the presence of God with him, as sent for the salvation of men, to the doctrine of himself, being the true and eternal God. Thus they taught, and thus they believed; without limiting his character as a Son to his pure Deity; much less to an eternal generation, being begotten as he is a divine person, or having his divine nature communicated to him,
Eternal generations is an invention of men, who pretend to be ambassadors of Christ, that they may rank with the apostles: and not content with this, they will assume the power of dictating articles of faith, and introducing their mysteries into religion, besides the mysteries and counsel of God, which the apostle had in commission, to open up and declare to the churches. Paul tells the Corin. thians, that the apostles were* stewards of the mysteries of God: and in a very solemn manner, declares to the elders of the church of Ephesus, " Thatt he had kept back nothing that was profitable to them but had declared to them all the counsel of God." Now, as the apostle never mentions eternal generation, nor any thing like it, in his epistles to those, or any other of the churches, it must be concluded by every one who is disposed to believe the apostle, that eternal generation is none of the mysteries of God;-no part of his counsel made known to men,-nor any way profitable to them. The making it an article of faith, must therefore be a proud attempt to add to the counsel of God,-an impeachment of the apostles with the crimes of falsehood and unfaithfulness, in affirming that they had declared all the counsel of God, while they kept back that momentous point eternal generation. Their conduct is more than a bare insinuation, that the scriptures are sufficient for the purposes which the apostles affirm they are.* All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction, in righteousness,-able to make the man of God perfect,—wise to salvation--and thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
5. We may further observe, that in these texts where Christ is called a Son, we cannot suppose his Deity abstractedly is, or can be designed, according to the just and most natural interpretation of the texts. We shall mention only a few for example, and hint the inconsistency of applying the term Son, expressed or understood in them, to the pure Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
* 1 Cor. iv, 1.
+ Acts xx. 20, 27. 1 2 Tim, iii, 15, 16, 17.
He says,-“ As* the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” To suppose one in the divine plurality commanding, another obeying, without relation to their economical characters, is wholly inconsistent with their equality or sameness and self-existence; as the will, power, and glory of the three are one in the same nature.
The will of the sacred three in Deity is one, but we often find the Son as such, mentioning his will as distinct from that of the Father.-“ Father,t if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will but thine be done. I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father who hath sent me.” But the learned call this distinct will of Christ his human will, or the will of his human nature ONLY. This is distinguishing rather too nicely, and if it is just, then he sustained the character of our Redeemer, as he was man ONLY, All things he says of himself, or are said of him, which imply subordination and subjection to the Father, are meant of his human nature only. What then becomes of the value of his obedience and death,--of man’s redemption,-or in short of the christian religion?
But there is a particular consequence inseparable from this notion of Christ's human will, which the professed orthodox will perhaps dislike as much as any, though far from having the same danger attending it. It cannot be denied, that Christ brought this distinct will he so often mentions from heaven with him; for he says,—“ If came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." Now if this be the will of his human nature only, then the pre-existence of his human soul, before he was manifested in the flesh, must be granted. There is no avoiding this conse quence, without the assistance of some bold figure to explain those texts, which is the common refuge of the learned in cases of such distress. For my own part, I see no danger in admitting this last consequence; though I think the plain meaning of the texts, points out Christ in his economical character, in which he was sent, the Son of God, and Savior of the world; in that respect he may have a distinct will from the Father.
* John xiv, 31.
+ Luke xxii. 42, John v. 30. John vi, 38.
Father,* glorify me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world began.”. To confine the sonship implied here to the divine person of Christ, would make one divine person pray to another, and that for the restoration of a glory which the same divine person once had, and is at that time divested of, all which is impossible in pure Deity; for, “ het is without variableness, or shadow of turning.”
Thef Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” As a Son, he receives all things from the Father, but as he is God, he can receive nothing; he hath an original right to every thing: therefore, he is not a Son, as he is GOD.
When the centurion, and those who attended Christ on the cross beheld the awful scene, “They said, truly this was the Son of God.” Did they here mean, they saw the eternal invisible God hanging dead upon the cross? Neither their words, nor the circumstances of the affair, will admit of such a sense. By a deduction of what they saw
* John xvii. 5.
John üi. 35.
+ Jas. 1. 17.