« PreviousContinue »
event. When the Lycaonians, upon the sight of a miracle wrought by St. Paul, (Acts xiv. 11.) took him and Barnabas for Gods, they did not think so much of dominion, as of power and ability, beyond human: and when the Apostles answered them, they did not tell them that their dominion was only human, or that their office was not divine, but that they had not a divine nature; they were weak, frail, and feeble men, of like infirmities with the rest of their species, and therefore no Gods.
If we trace the Scripture notion of one that is truly and properly God, we shall find it made up of these several ideas; infinite wisdom, power invincible, all-sufficiency, and the like. These are the ground and foundation of dominion; which is but a secondary notion, a consequence of the former : and it must be dominion supreme, and none else, which will suit with the Scripture notion of God. It is not that of a governor, a ruler, a protector, a lord, or the like; but a sovereign Ruler, an almighty Protector, an omniscient and omnipresent Governor, an eternal, immutable, all-sufficient Creator, Preserver, and Protector. Whatever falls short of this is not properly, in the Scripture notion, God; but is only called so by way of figure; as has before been explained. Now, if you ask me why the relative terms may properly be applied to the word God, the reason is plain; because there is something relative in the whole idea of God; namely, the notion of Governor, Protector, &c. If you ask why they cannot so properly be applied to the word God in the metaphysical sense, beside the reason before given, there is another as plain; because metaphysics take in only part of the idea, consider the nature abstracted from the relation, leaving the relative part out.
From what hath been said, it may appear how useless and insignificant your distinction is, of a supreme and a subordinate God. For, not to mention that this must unavoidably run you into polytheism, and bring you to assert more Gods than one, contrary to the whole tenor of holy Scripture; which is and insuperable objection to your hypothesis ; I say, not to mention this at present, your hypothesis is built upon a false ground, as if any thing could be properly God that is not Supreme. Supreme, in the strict sense, supposes for its ground all the essential properties of one truly and properly God, as described in Scripture. Another God after this, is no God; because Scripture makes but one; besides that an e inferior God is only God improperly, and so called by way of figure, or in some particular respect : so that at length your famed distinction of a supreme and subordinate God, resolves into a God and no God. The question then between us is, whether Christ be God properly or improperly so called; that is, whether he be God, or no. Your arguments to prove him a subordinate God only, I shall look upon as so many arguments against his divinity, and as designed to prove that he is not God.
You cite John X. 35, 36. “If he called them gods, “ unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture “ cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father “ hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blas
phemest; because I said, I am the Son of God ?” From hence you endeavour to prove, that Christ is God in the subordinate sense only; that is, as I have said, not properly or truly God. But I can see no manner of ground for this inference from the words before us. Our blessed Lord had insinuated that he was really and truly God;
See what Dr. Bennet has very well urged upon this head, Disc. of the Holy Trinity, p. 178, &c.
Neque enim proximi erimus opinionibus nationum, quæ si quando coguntur Deum confiteri, tamen et alios infra illum volunt. Divinitas autem gradum non habet, utpote unica. Tertull. adv. Hermog. c. vii. p. 236. Deus non erit dicendus, quia nec credendus, nisi summum magnum. Nega Deum, quem dicis deteriorem. Tertull. contr. Marc. 1. i. c. 6.
Qui super se habet aliquem superiorem, et sub alterius potestate est; hic neque Deus, neque magnus rex dici potest. Iren. 1. iv. c. 2. p. 229.
Unus igitur omnium Dominus est Deus. Neque enim potest habere consortem, cum sola omnium teneat potestatem. Cypr. do Idol. Van. p. 14. Ox. edit.
but had not asserted it in plain and express termis ; upon this bare innuendo, the Jews charge him with direct blasphemy: he to evade their malice, and to keep to the truth, neither affirms nor denies that he meanit it in the sense which they apprehended. However, his discourse being in general terms, and not explicit enough to found a charge of blasphemy upon, he appeals to their Law, in order to show, that it is not always blasphemy to make one's self God, or to apply the title of God even to mortal men, and men inferior to himself, considered only as man. This was answer sufficient to them ; who could not from his own expressions clearly convict him of meaning more, than that he was God in the improper sense of the word, as it had been used, Psalm lxxxii. 6. Nevertheless, he leaves the point of his divinity undecided; or rather, still goes on to insinuate, in words which they could not directly lay hold on, the very thing which they charged him with. This enraged them so much the more: and therefore they again“ sought to take him," ver. 39. “But he escaped out of their hand.” This interpretation may suffice to take off the force of your argument. Yet the words may admit of other, and perhaps better interpretations, consistent with the principles which I here maintain f.
You proceed to cite Heb. i. 8, 9. and argue thus : “ He who being God, calls another his God, and is sanc“ tified by him, must needs be God in a subordinate “sense;" that is, God improperly so called, or no God. To an old objection, I might return an old answer, in the words of Hilary, or words to the same effect. "g This
may signify only his subordination, as a Son, or as God “ of God, without any inferiority of nature. The Father “is his God, as he is God by being begotten of him.” This answer is direct and full, upon the supposition that
* See True Script. Doct. continued, p. 178. Bisterfield contr. Crell. p. 317. Su nhus. in loc. p. 359.
& Ad nativitatem refertur; cæterum non perimit naturam ; et idcirco Deus ejus est, quia ex eo natus in Deum est. Hil. de Trin. I. iv. c. 35. p. 848.
the text cited is meant of the divine nature of Christ, or of Christ in his highest capacity. But if it be meant, as h probably it may, of his human nature only, there is no weight in the objection.
As to the Son's being sanctified, I should hardly have thought it of any importance to the cause, bad it not been twice insisted on by you. May not the Father design, appoint, consecrate his Son, considered in either capacity, to the office of Mediator, without supposing him of a different and inferior nature to him? Or suppose the sanctifying may be meant of the human nature, which the Father has sanctified, by uniting it to the Móyos, what force will there remain in your objection? Having answered your pleas and pretences for a subordinate God, I proceed to show, that Christ is not called God in a subordinate or improper sense, but in the same sense, and in as high a sense, as the Father himself is so styled.
1. Because he is called the Jehovah, which is a word of absolute signification, and is the incommunicable name of the one true God.
i He is, very probably, called Jehovah, Luke i. 16, 17. “Many shall he” (viz. John the Baptist) “turn to the Lord “their God, and he shall go before him.” The Doctor owns that, in strictness of construction, the words (the Lord their God) must be understood of Christ. And therefore Christ is Lord God, or Jehovah Eloim, which comes to the same.
He is likewise called the “ Lord God of the Prophets,” as appears from Rev. xxii. 6. compared with ver. 16. of the same chapter. This may be farther confirmed by comparing the texts following.
Of old hast thou laid the foun- k Thou, Lord, in the beginning dation of the earth, Ps. cii. 25. &c. hast laid the foundation of the Addressed to the Jehovah.
earth, Heb. i. 10.
h See Bennet's Discourse on the Trinity, p. 31. 33. &c.
i See this text excellently defended and illustrated in True Scripture Doctrine continued, p. 132, 133, &c. See also my Sermons, p. 203.
k See Surenhusii Conciliation, in loc. p. 600.
And the Lord (Jehovah) said 1 Then was fulfilled that which unto me,
Cast it unto the potter : was spoken, &c. Matth. xxvii. 9,, a goodly price that I was prised at of them, Zech. xi. 13.
Another Scripture saith, They They shall look on me (Jehovah || shall look on him (Jesus Christ) speaking by the Prophet) whom whom they have pierced, John xix. they have pierced, Zech. xii. 10. 37.
The voice of him that crieth in m The voice of one crying in the the wilderness, Prepare ye the way | wilderness, Prepare ye the way of of the Lord, (Jehovah,) Is. xl. 3. the Lord, Mark i. 3. The Lord said, I will have
is born in the city of Daon the house of Judah, and will || vid a Saviour, which is Christ the save them by the Lord (Jehovah) | Lord, Luke ü. 11. their God, Hos. i. 6,7.
I have produced the texts again, in order to take notice of the very peculiar way which you have of evading. It is your avowed principle, that Christ is not Jehovah in his own Person, (p. 24. and elsewhere;) and that the Person called Jehovah is the Father only. What then must be said to these texts, which are so very plain and express to the contrary; insomuch that n Dr. Clarke himself owns, that the name “ Jehovah is given to that visible “ Person (meaning Christ) who appeared as representing " the Person of the invisible God?” He does not say, it was given to the Person represented only, but to the Person representing also; which you seem to deny. But you confound yourself with your own comment upon Hos. i. 7. “ (Jehovah would-save them by Jehovah their “ God;)” “that is,” say you, “that Jehovah himself « would save them, but not in his own Person.” Well then, it is by another Person, which Person the text expressly calls Jehovah.
Upon Zech. xii. 10. compared with John xix. 37. you comment thus, (p. 26.) “ The sufferings of Christ might
| Surenhus. in loc. p. 280.
m Surenhus. in Matt. iii. 3. p. 207. I refer to this author, to obviate the pretence, that these texts might be understood only by way of accommodation.
Reply, Page 25.
, p. 163.