Page images


the Son of God, and not only that eternal Word that is to be incarnate. That άγιον το γεννώμενον, being in itself ανυπόστατον, shall be called the Son of God." "Shall be called so," that is, appear to be so, and be declared to be so with power. It is evident, then, that the cause of Christ's filiation is not here insisted on, but the consequence of the Virgin's conception declared ; that which was “born of her should be called the Son of God.” And this Socinus is so sensible of that he dares not say

that Christ was completely the Son of God upon his conception and nativity; which, if the cause of his filiation were here expressed, he must be. “It is manifest," saith he, “that Christ before his resurrection was not fully and completely the Son of God, being not like God before in immortality and absolute rule.”.

Mr B.'s next place, whereby the sonship of Christ is placed on another account, as he supposes, is John X. 36, “Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God ? ”

That this scripture is called to remembrance not at all to Mr B.'s advantage will speedily appear; for,

1. Here is not in the words the least mention whence, or for what cause it is, that Christ is the Son of God, but only that he is so, he being expressed and spoken of under that description which is used of him twenty times in that Gospel, “He who is sent of the Father.” This is all that is in this place asserted, that he whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world counted it no robbery to be equal with him, nor did blaspheme in calling himself bis Son.

2. It is evident that Christ in these words asserts himself to be such a Son of God as the Jews charged him with blasphemy for affirming of himself that he was ; for he justifies himself against their accusation, not denying in the least that they rightly apprehended and understood him, but maintaining what he had spoken to be most true. Now, this was that which the Jews charged him withal, verse 33, “That he, being a man, blasphemed in making himself God;" for so they understood him, that in asserting his sonship he asserted also his deity. This Christ makes good, namely, that he is such a Son of God as is God also ; yea, he makes good what he had said, verse 30, which was the foundation of all the following discourse about his blasphemy, "I and my Father are one." So that,

3. An invincible argument for the sonship of Christ, to be placed only upon the account of his eternal generation, ariseth from this very place that was produced to oppose it !

He who is the Son of God

1 " Constat igitur (ut ad propositum revertamur), Christum ante resurrectionem Dei Filium plene et perfecte non fuisse : cum illi et immortalitatis et absoluti dominii cum Deo similitudo deesset."-Socin. Respon. ad Weikum, p. 225.

[ocr errors]

because he is “one with the Father,” and God equal to him, is the Son of God upon the account of his eternal relation to the Father: but that such was the condition of Jesus Christ, himself here bears witness to the Jews, although they are ready to stone him for it; and of his not blaspheming in this assertion he convinces his adversaries by an argument a minori, verses 34–36.

A brief analysis of this place will give evidence to this interpretation of the words. Our Saviour Christ having given the reason why the Jews believed not on him, namely, “because they were not of his sheep,” verse 26, describes thereupon both the nature of those sheep of his, verse 27, and their condition of safety, verse 28. This he farther confirms from the consideration of his Father's greatness and power, which is amplified by the comparison of it with others, who are all less than he, verse 29; as also from his own power and will, which appears to be sufficient for that end and purpose from his essential unity with his Father, verse 30. The effect of this discourse of Christ by accident is the Jews taking up of stones, which is amplified by this, that it was the second time they did so, and that to this purpose, that they might stone him, verse 31. Their folly and madness herein Christ disproves with an argument ab absurdo, telling them that it must be for some good work that they stoned him, for evil had he done none, verse 32. This the Jews attempt to disprove by a new argument a disparatis, telling him that it was “not for a good work, but for blasphemy,” that he “made himself to be God," whom they would prove to be but a man, verse 33. This pretence of blasphemy Christ disproves, as I said before, by an argument a minori, verses 34-36, and with another from the effects or the works which he did, which sufficiently proved him to be God, verses 37, 38, still maintaining what he said and what they thought to be blasphemy; so that they attempt again to kill him, verse 39. It is evident, then, that he still maintained what they charged him with.

4. And this answers that expression which is so frequent in the Scripture, of God's sending his Son into the world, and that he came down from heaven, and came into the world, Gal. iv. 4, John iii. 13; all evincing his being the Son of God antecedently to that mission or sanctification whereby in the world he was declared so to be. Otherwise, the Son of God was not sent, but one to be his Son.

Acts xiii. 32, 33, is also insisted on: “We declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee."

1. He that can see in this text a cause assigned of the filiation of



Christ that should relate to the resurrection, I confess is sharper sighted than I. This I know, that if Christ were made the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead, he was not the Son of God who died, for that preceded this his making to be the Son of God. But that God gave his only-begotten Son to die, that he spared not his only Son, but gave him up to death, I think is clear in Scripture, if any thing be so.

2. Paul seems to interpret this place to me, when he informs us that “Christ was declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead," Rom. i. 4. Not that he was made so, but he was "declared” or made known to be so, when, being "cruci

“ fied through weakness, he lived by the power of God,” 2 Cor. xiii. 4; which power also was his own, John X. 18.

According as was before intimated, Grotius interprets these words, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee," "I have made

, thee a king; which,” he says, “was fulfilled in that, when all power

; was given him in heaven and earth, Matt. xxviii. 18; as Justin in his colloquy with Trypho: Τότε γένεσιν αυτού λέγων γενέσθαι, εξότου ή γνώσις αυτού έμελλε γενέσθαι yvūors atroofnende yevéodou." (1.) But then he was the Son of God before his resurrection, for he was the Son of God by his being begotten of bim: which as it is false, so contrary to his own gloss on Luke i. 35. (2.) Christ was a king before his resurrection, and owned himself so to be, as hath been showed. (3.) Justin's words are suited to our exposition of this place. He was said to be then begotten, because then he was made known to be so the Son of God. (4.) That these words are not applied to Christ, in their first sense, in respect of his resurrection, [is evident] from the pre-eminence assigned unto him above angels by virtue of this expression, Heb. i. 5, which he had before his death, chap. i. 6. Nor, (5.) Are the words here used to prove the resurrection, which is done in the verses following, out of Isaiah and another psalm, “ And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead," etc., Acts xiii. 34, 35. But then,

3. It is not an interpretation of the meaning of that passage in the psalm which Paul, Acts xiii., insists on, but the proving that Christ was the Son of God, as in that psalm he was called, by his resurrection from the dead; which was the great manifesting cause of his deity in the world.

What Mr B. intends by the next place mentioned by him I know not. It is Rev. i. 5, “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead.” That Christ was the first who was raised from the dead to a blessed and glorious immor

a tality, and is thence called the first-begotten of them, or from the dead, and that all that rise to such an immortality rise after him,

1" fili mi, hodie te genui, id est, Regem te feci. Hoc in Christo impletum, cum ei data omnis potestas in cælo et in terra, Matt. xxviii. 18," eto.—Grot. in loc.

[ocr errors]

and by virtue of his resurrection, is most certain and granted; but that from thence he is that only-begotten Son of God, though thereby he was only " declared" so to be, there is not the least tittle in the text giving occasion to such an apprehension.

And the same also is affirmed of the following place of Col. i. 18, where the same words are used again: "He is the head of the church, who is the beginning, apwrófonos éx tūv vexpūv,—the first-born of the dead.” Only I shall desire our catechist to look at his leisure a little higher into the chapter, where he will find him called also #pwróTomos Fúons xcitews," the first-born of all the creation;" so that he must surely be #pwrótoxos before his resurrection. Nay, he is so the firstborn of every creature as to be none of them;" for by him they were all created, verse 16. He who is so before all creatures as to be none of them, but that they are all created by him, is “God blessed for ever:” which when our catechist disproves, he shall have me for one of his disciples.

Of the same kind is that which Mr B. next urgeth from Heb. i. 4, 5, only it hath this farther disadvantage, that both the verses going immediately before and that immediately following after do inevitably evince that the constitutive cause of the sonship of Jesus Christ, à priori, is in his participation of the divine nature, and that it is only manifested by any ensuing consideration. Verses 2, 3, the Holy Ghost tells us that " by him God made the worlds, who is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person;" and this as the Son of God, antecedent to any exaltation as mediator. And verse 6, “He bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, and saith, Let all the angels of God worship him.” He is the first-begotten before his bringing into the world; and that this is proved by the latter clause of the verse shall be afterward demonstrated. Between both these, much is not like to be spoken against the eternal sonship of Christ. Nor is the apostle only declaring his pre-eminence above the angels upon the account of that name of his, the “Son of God,” which he is called upon record in the Old Testament, but the causes also of that appellation he had before declared.

The last place urged to this purpose is of the same import. It is Heb. v. 5, “So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee.” When Mr B. proves any thing more towards his purpose from this place, but only that Christ did not of his own ac

[ocr errors]

1 So that πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως is, ο τεχθείς προ πάσης κτίσεως, qui genitus est prior omni creatura, vel ante omnem creaturam, for so sūtos sometimes signifies comparatively. Arist. Avibus. 484, apātov sapelov, id est, apótipos, Johan. i. 15; apãrós pov no, that is, apótipose and 1 Johan. iv. 19, «pūros szárnou, that is, apótipos. His generation was before the creation, indeed eternal. Tertullian saith so too, Lib. de Trinitate: “ Quomodo primogenitus esse potuit, nisi quia secundum divinitatem ante omnem creaturam ex Deo Patre Sermo processit."

cord undertake the office of a mediator, but was designed to it of God his Father, who said unto him, “Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee,” declaring him so to be with power after his resurrection, I shall acknowledge him to have better skill in disputing than as yet I am convinced he is possessed of.

And thus have I cleared the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ, and evinced the vanity of attempting to fix his prerogative therein upon any other account, not doubting but that all who love him in sincerity will be zealous of his glory herein. For his growing up to be the Son of God by degrees, to be made a God in process of time, to be the adopted Son of God, to be the Son of God upon various accounts of diverse kinds, inconsistent with one another, to have had such a conception and generation as modesty forbids to think or express, not to have been the Son of God until after his death, and the like monstrous figments, I hope he will himself keep his own in an everlasting abhorring of.

The farther confirmation of the deity of Christ, whereby Mr B.'s whole design will be obviated, and the vindication of the testimonies wherewith it is so confirmed from his masters, is the work designed for the next chapter.

There are yet remaining of this chapter two or three questions looking the same way with those already considered, which will, upon the principles already laid down and insisted on, easily and in very few words be turned aside from prejudicing the eternal deity of the Son of God. His 10th, then, is

“What saith the Son himself concerning the prerogative of God the Father above him ?” and answer is given John xiv. 28; Mark xiii. 32; Matt. xxiv. 36: whereunto is subjoined another of the same, “ What saith the apostle Paul?-A. 1 Cor. xv. 24, 28, xi. 3, iii. 22, 23.”

The intendment of these questions being the application of what is spoken of Christ, either as mediator or as man, unto his person, to the exclusion of any other consideration, namely, that of a divine nature therein, the whole of Mr B.'s aim in them is sufficiently already disappointed. It is true, there is an order, yea, a subordination, in the persons of the Trinity themselves, whereby the Son, as to his personality, may be said to depend on the Father, being begotten of him; but that is not the subordination here aimed at by Mr B., but that which he underwent by dispensation as mediator, or which attends him in respect of his human nature. All the difficulty that may arise from these kinds of attribution to Christ the apostle abundantly salves in the discovery of the rise and occasion of them, Phil. ii. 7-9. He who was in the form of God, and equal to him, was in the form of a servant, whereunto he humbled himself, his servant, and less than he. And there is no more difficulty in the questions wherewith Mr B. amuses himself and his disciples than

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »