Page images



I. I will proceed to investigate the character of the Person who was thus sent. The character given of him in the text is plainly a singular

He is called · God's own Son, and is yet said to have been sent in the likeness of sinful flesk.' These two great particulars, so unlike, so contrasted, form a character differing altogether from every other, and demand a very diligent consideration. The first of them shall be the immediate object of our attention.

At our entrance upon the investigation of this subject, the first thing which strikes the mind is, that it is a subject of mere Revelation. Without the "criptures there is no knowledge in this world that such a person exists. The philosopher, therefore, has no other concern with this subject, except either to believe or disbelieve the testimony which the Scriptures give. By his own reason he can add nothing to what is revealed, and without impiety he can alter nothing.

Secondly: As Revelation communicates to us our original knowledge of this subject, so it communicates to us all which we now know, The things, which it testifies were not designed to be, neither can they become, the materials of future philosophical investigation and improvement. The knowledge which at this day exists concerning this subject is all found in the Bible.

Thirdly : The things communicated concerning it, being communicated, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but in those which the Holy Ghost teacheth,' are communicated in the best and wisest manner possible ; the manner which was approved by infinite Wisdom. There is no error, no oversight; nothing superfluous, nothing defective. That, and that only, is taught, which God thought it proper to teach, in the manner which God thought it proper to adopt.

Fourthly: As the doctrines concerning this singular Person are of the highest moment to plain, uneducated men, as well as to men of learning, it is certain, that the things really revealed, are so revealed that such men, acting with integrity, can understand them sufficiently to make them proper and useful objects of their faith. Of course, the terms in which

, they are revealed are used in such a manner as these men can understand. They are therefore used according to their plain, customary, obvious meaning ; the meaning which they have


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


in the usual intercourse of mankind. Of course, also, they have no technical, philosophical, or peculiar signification ; because, if thus used, they could never be understood by such men; or, in other words, by almost the whole body of mankind.

Fifthly: Just so much is revealed concerning this extraordmary Person, as it is useful for us to know. This truth is derived with absolute certainty from the wisdom and goodness of God. Whatever is revealed is revealed by this wisdom and goodness, and whatever is withheld is by the same wisdom and goodness withheld. That which is revealed, therefore, we are required by the authority of God to believe; and are bound to have no reference in our faith to that which is withheld. Whatever mysteries may be inferred, or may seem to be inferred, from the things actually revealed, can in no manner affect them, and ought in no manner to affect our faith in them. All that is taught is exactly true, and to be faithfully believed, although all that is true is not taught, nor capable of being divined by such minds as ours.

Sixthly: Whatever is contained in the Scriptures concerning this subject, as concerning every other, that is, in the Scriptures as they now are, is to be regarded as unquestionably the Word of God, unless proved not to be genuine by manuscript authority. Nothing is to be admitted with respect to this subject which would not be justifiably admitted with respect to any other scriptural subject. Particularly, all con

. jectural emendations of the text are to be rejected with scorn, as miserable attempts to mend the word of God according to the dictates of human philosophy. The reasonableness of this rule is too obvious to need illustration.

With these observations premised, I proceed to examine the Character of this singular Person, denoted by the phrase, • God's own Son.'

The Scriptures are undoubtedly the best commentators on themselves, wherever they professedly undertake to explain their own language. Christ has in many instances called himself the Son of God; and in many more (which is exactly equivalent) has declared God to be his Father. In one of these instances the Jews attempted to kill him for challenging this character. The words which he used were · My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore,' says the Evangelist,


in the following verse, the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also, that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.' John v. 17, 18. We have here the comment of the Evangelist on Christ's meaning in adopting this language ; and it is no other than this, That in declaring God to be his Father, he made himself equal with God.' No comment can be plainer, or more decisive. But we have, farther, the comment of Christ himself, for such it ought undoubtedly to be esteemed. He had healed the impotent man at the pool of Siloam on the Sabbath day. The Jews ‘sought to kill him’ for this action. He justified himself by this remarkable declaration, · My Father worketh hitherto, and I work :' that is, My Father worketh hitherto on the sabbath day in his providence; I, who am his Son, work also in the same manner and with the same authority, being · Lord of the sabbath,' even as he is. In the following part of the context, to cut off all room for misconception concerning the import of this phraseology and the character claimed in it, he informs the Jews, in the verses immediately following, that he does all things which the Father does;' that the Father shows him all things, which himself does;' that he has life in himself, even as the Father has life in himself;' that, as the Father gives life to whom he pleases, so does the Son ;' that it is the will of the Father, that all men should honour the Son even as they honour himself;' that those who do not thus honour the Son do not honour the Father;' that the Son is constituted the only Judge of the quick and the dead ;' and that all who are in the graves shall hear, and obey his voice, and come forth to the resurrection, either of life or damnation. Such is the comment of the Evangelist on this phrase ; such are the proofs that it is uttered in its simple and obvious meaning. Who would imagine that this meaning could be differently understood by different readers, or be mistaken by any reader ?

In John x. 30, Christ said to the Jews assembled around him, ' I and my Father are one.' The unity here challenged, seems not to have offended them (see verse 36;) but they attempted to stone him because he said, I am the Son of God;' as he informs us in the verse last mentioned. Upon being asked by him, for what good work they stoned him ; they replied, ' for a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy,

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

because thou, being a man,' makest thyself God.' It will be admitted by all men, who believe the Bible, that Christ was a person of irreproachable benevolence and integrity. The Jews declared to him, as the reason why they were about to stone him, that in saying, “ he was the Son of God, he, being a man, made himself God.' If, then, they had misapprehended his meaning, a very moderate share of benevolence and integrity must have compelled him to undeceive them; much more must the perfect integrity and benevolence of Christ have produced this effect. It is impossible that he should be justified in voluntarily suffering this imputed blasphemy to rest upon his good name; and to prevent, as it could not fail to prevent, their reception of his doctrines, precepts, and mission. This would have been voluntarily to lay a fatal stumbling block, or offence, before them: but he himself has said, 'Woe to that man by whom the offence cometh. It would, also, have been voluntarily to leave the full impression of a falsehood, uttered by himself, on their minds ; which would be the same, in a moral view, as to utter intentionally the same falsehood. Finally, under this mistake they were about to murder him; a crime which he certainly could not fail of preventing, if they were influenced to commit it merely by mistaking his meaning: a thing so easily rectified by his own explanation. It is certain, then, that they did not mistake his meaning.

But, to put the matter beyond all doubt, he himself has settled the point. If,' said he, • I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works, that ye may know and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.' *

The same subject of controversy arose again when Christ stood as a prisoner before the Sanhedrim. After attempting in vain to prove him guilty of any crime by various means, Caiaphas put him upon oath, to tell the Sanhedrim whether he was the Christ, the Son of God.' Christ immediately replied in the affirmative. The high priest then rent his clothes ; and declared, that he had spoken blasphemy; viz. the very blasphemy, of which the Jews had before accused him, for the very same declaration; and the Sanhedrim pronounced

That the Jews understood Christ to confirm their construction of his words is certain: for St. John says, that they now sought again to take him.



him guilty of death. Here, as in the former case, Christ went on to challenge, unequivocally, the character denoted by this phrase; and said, · Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Thus we have the comment of St. John on this phrase, declaring, that Christ in using it made himself equal with God;' the comment of the Jewish people and Sanhedrim ; declaring, that Christ in using it was guilty of blasphemy, because, that, being a man, he thus made himself God;' and Christ himself, according directly with this interpretation of it, justifying his own use of it with this meaning, and bringing irresistible proofs that he applied it, thus understood, to himself, with the most absolute truth and propriety. If we allow the language here used, to be used in the customary and obvious manner, the only manner in which it could be understood by those to whom it was addressed, and in which it can be understood by ninety-nine hundredths of those who read it; nay, farther, if we do not assign it a meaning which each man must laboriously contrive for himself, because the obvious meaning does not suit his own system, or must receive from another, who has for the same reason contrived it in this manner, we must admit all this to be clearly and unquestionably said, and to determine the meaning of this phrase in the text beyond any rational debate.

If I have satisfactorily settled the meaning of this phrase, the text contains, among other things, the following inportant Doctrine:


This Doctrine I shall attempt to maintain by a variety of considerations, arranged in the following manner :

I. I shall attempt to show, that Christ is spoken of in the Scriptures as the true and perfect God:

II. That the Deity of Christ is the only ground of consistency in the scheme of redemption :

III. That the Jews, according to the opposite doctrine, are unjustly charged with guilt in putting Christ to death :

IV. That the Prophets and Apostles, according to the same doctrine, cannot be vindicated from the sin of leading mankind into idolatry:

« EelmineJätka »