« PreviousContinue »
Father that he was brought into being. It is, of course, owing to his will that he is continued in existence. For the same power, which produced him, can return him to his original state. He is, consequently, entirely dependent on the Father. If he be not eternal; if he be not independent, it is impossible he should possess other divine attributes. It is a contradiction to say that a dependent being possesses almighty power. It appears to be impossible that a being of only a temporary existence should possess infinite knowledge. It is impossible there should be infinite wisdom where knowledge is limited. A dependent being cannot be, in his own nature, unchangeable. Within these limitations it is impossible that a being should be omnipresent, and be capable of holding the reins of universal government. After the closest investigation of the nature of a Son, derived from the Father, (if such a thing were possible) it will clearly appear that he has not one divine attribute, nor the least degree of divine nature.
It is in vain to attempt to supply the innate deficiency of this derived Son, by constituting him God's agent, and by anointing him with the Spirit without measure; and by investing him with divine fulness. If Christ was only appointed or constituted Creator of the world; if the Father employed him as an instrument, through whom he exercised his own power, Christ was not the actual Creator of the world; and the glory of the work would not be due to him. If Christ was constituted a Prince; and he was a Prince on this ground only, he had no native regal dignity, nor regal authority. He acted only under a commission; and he, who granted the commission could, at any time, withdraw it. This constituted agent would not be entitled to those honors, to which the Father, who constituted him, would be entitled. There would be the same difference in their claims, as there would be in the claims of an actor and an instrument. If his claims to princely honors rise solely from God's
requiring that they should honor the Son even as they honor the Father, it is difficult to understand in what sense God is jealous for the honor of his name; and that he will not give his glory to another. If Christ is Judge, only because he is constituted to that office, then he does not possess inherent qualifications for that station, he is merely the organ, through which the Father acts; and the judgment rendered is not properly that of the Son, but that of the Father. If Christ is a Savior, merely on the ground of a constituted character, or merely because he was appointed to that office, he would be only an ostensible Savior; the Father would be the real Savior.
If the Son was divine, on the ground of his derivation from the Father, there would be no need of constituting him to fill divine offices; to sustain divine titles; to perform divine works. There would be no need of making divine communications to him for these purposes. He would be competent in his own nature to fill the highest offices; to claim the highest honors; and to do the greatest works. If extraordinary divine communications are necessary to qualify him for these things, it follows that he is not divine.
If Christ's superior excellence and dignity arises not from his nature, but from the communications, which the Father made to him, it is difficult to draw a line of distinction between him and the prophets. God endued Moses with an extraordinary degree of power, by which he exhibited signs and wonders before Pharaoh. But who actually wrought these miracles? When God called Moses to send him to the king of Egypt; and he hesitated to go, God said unto him, "I will stretch out my hand and smite Egypt with all my wonders, which I will do in the midst thereof." The power, which God communicated to Moses for this purpose, did not become a property of Moses' nature, any more than it became the property of the rod, which he carried, wherewith, God said, he should do signs. Moses never pretended to act by his own
strength in his exhibition of miracles, excepting at the rock in Horeb; and there he greatly displeased the Lord. When Elijah restored to life a dead child of the woman with whom he abode, he did not attempt the undertaking in his own name, nor by his own might. But "he cried unto the Lord and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived." Before Elisha raised the child of the Shunammite, he prayed unto the Lord. When Peter was about to give health to a sick man, he said, "Jesus Christ maketh thee whole." When he cured a lame man, he said, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." Before he raised Tabitha from the dead, he kneeled down and prayed. These were wonderful works, which God wrought through them. They professed to act under authority; and they refused divine honors when they were offered to them.
If Christ was endued with divine fulness in a similar manner, it might be expected that his miracles would be attended with similar circumstances. When Christ turned water into wine, he addressed no superior power. When he healed the impotent man at the pool, he simply said, "rise, take up thy bed, and walk." When Jesus gave sight to a blind man, he applied clay to his eyes; and sent him to the pool of Siloam. When he healed a man of the leprosy he said, "I will, be thou clean." When he cured a man of the palsy, he said, "arise and take up thy couch and go unto thine house." The other miraculous cures, which he effected, he accomplished in a similar manner. When he raised the widow's son of Nain, he only said, "Young man, I say unto thee, arise." Before he raised Lazarus from the grave he addressed the Father. But for what purpose did he address him? Was it that the Father would put forth his power through him? Christ assigns the reason himself;
"because of the people which stand by I said it." He then cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth."
The circumstances attending the miracles, which he wrought, did not give the least appearance that he acted by power, which was not properly his own. When, in consequence of divine works, divine honors were addressed to him, he never refused them, nor rebuked his worshippers. When people heard his instructions they "were astonished at his doctrine; for he taught them as one having authority." The prophets never pretended that they were the authors of divine works; and they never claimed divine honors. If the Son had performed divine works, only by the intervention of the Father's power operating through him, he would be no more entitled to divine names and divine homage than the prophets.
It has been supposed that, because the Father hath given all things into the hand of his Son; because God hath exalted and glorified him; because God hath put all things under his feet and exalted him with his own right hand to be a Prince and a Savior; because God ordained him to be Judge of quick and dead; because God created the world by him and sent him into the world, Christ is inferior to the Father; that he is of a lower nature than the Father; that he has no claims to divinity excepting on the ground of a constituted character, or by the reception of divine fulness. This sentiment arises from not making a distinction between the Son's nature and the offices which he sustains.
Had there been no apostasy; had no projection of a method of salvation been made and put in operation, it is probable the divine plurality would never have been manifested. In the scheme of redemption the distinctions in the divine nature are brought into view, and into distinct operation. In this great work there is perfect arrangement; there is perfect order. In respect to office there is priority and posteriority. In respect to authority and works there is subordination. The Father sends the Son; the Son sends the
Holy Spirit. It is the office of the Father to send. The offices of the Son and of the Holy Spirit require that they should be sent. They fill as important offices in the work of salvation as the Father; and they appear no less glorious in their offices, than the Father does in his. The glories of divine nature shine in each. Subordination in the work of redemption is one of its divine perfections; and it argues nothing against the divinity of the Son; it is not derogatory to his nature or character that he manifests this perfection.
Some names and works are attributed exclusively to the Father, and others are attributed exclusively to the Son. This does not appear strange, when it is considered that they had different offices, and had different parts to perform in the work of salvation. As the Father holds a precedence in respect to office, it is not surprising that those names and works, which have an immediate relation to his office, should appear to have a preeminence over the names and works, which have an immediate relation to the Son's office. The Father is called, "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;" Eph. 1:3. and i Pet. 1:3. He is called the Head of Christ. "The Head of every man is Christ-and the Head of Christ is God;" 1 Cor. 11:3. The Son is called "the only begotten of the Father," John 1:14. He is called "the image of the invisible God;" Col. 1:15. He is called Mediator. "For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" 1 Tim. 2:5. To infer from these names of the Son that his nature is inferior to the nature of the Father is not logical. The name Father is more dignified than the name Son. But who ever supposed that the nature of a father was essentially different from, or superior to, that of his son? The man Christ Jesus had a Head, a God, as well as other men; even the Father. His office required subordination. Because the Son is called the image of the invisible God, it does not fol