Page images
PDF
EPUB

I now

Our time was taken up in discussing the first head, under which I attempted to prove the proper divinity of Christ from the divine titles which are given him, the divine perfections which are ascribed to him, the divine works which are wrought by him, and the divine honours which are paid to him. proceed,

II. To show that in point of personality he is distinct from the Father. Modern Socinians have been so pressed by argument, that they have been constrained to confess, that in some sense divinity does belong to Christ. But what they grant with one hand, they take away with the other. They tell us that his divinity is the divinity of the Father exerted through him. Thus he performed mighty works by the power of God, like Moses; and he knew the hearts of men by divine illumination, in the same way that Peter knew the hearts and detected the hypocrisy of Ananias and Sapphira. So that though they confess he exercised the attributes of divinity on some occasions, yet they insist upon it, it is no more than many other good men have done. If this be a true account of the matter, it must be granted, that Christ is no more a divine person

than Moses, or Peter, or almost any other saint. The greater part of the former discourse cannot possibly be reconciled with this curious hypothesis. There are several ways of confuting it; but waving others, for the present, I propose to show that his divinity is not derived, but inherent. This will be done by proving that he is a divine person, distinct from the person of the Father.

Before I enter upon this subject, I beg leave to premise, that my remarks upon it must not be supposed to affect the unity of the divine nature. No doctrine is inore clearly revealed than this is, in the sacred scriptures. “ The Lord he is God, there is none else besides him." Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deut. iv. 36; and vi. 4.) The distinct personality of Christ does not contradict this first principal of all religion ; for it is no more impossible that a plurality of divine persons should exist in one divine substance, than that spirit and matter should be united in one person.

As to facts — the latter is proved by our own existence, and the former by divine revelation; but the nature of the union is in both cases alike incomprehensible.

The distinct personality of Christ is proved from Psalm cx. 1 : “ The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Turn over to Matt. xxii. 41-46. Jesus asked the Pharisees, “ What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he? They said unto him, the son of David. He saith unto them, how then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, the Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word.” They could not explain the words of David as referring to his humanity, and they would not confess his divinity: hence they very prudently kept silence; and it would have been as well, if all the enemies of his dignity and glory had done the same; but since that time they have taken courage, and have spoken out boldly. Jesus was made of the seed of David according to the flesh. But the passage in question cannot be explained as referring to his human nature, because the words, Son and Lord are put in opposition to each other; and it is impossible to reconcile them on any other hypothesis than that of a twofold nature. The words of David have, therefore, unquestionable allusion to the divine nature of our Lord. Here, then, the Father is represented as addressing himself to the Son as a divine person. Now if the distinction in the Godhead were à distinction of names, only, and not of persons, this passage would present the absurdity of the Father addressing himself to a mere name which is destitute of both consciousness and intelligence, and making a promise to this name of the government of the universe, and of a seat at his right hand. He that can believe this, let him believe it; and he that cannot, has no al

mere name.

ternative-he must believe the distinct personality of Christ.

Again, in Heb. i. 8—14, the Father is represented as addressing himself to the Son. In this passage Christ is expressly called God; he is said to have created heaven and earth, and to be unchangeable. This must refer to his divine nature. Here is incontestible proof of the Father asserting the divinity of the Son; and in doing this, he has given the fullest demonstration of the Son’s distinct personality ; for it is utterly impossible that the Father should give a divine title, and ascribe divine perfections and divine works to a

This point might be proved from many other passages of scripture, but I must go on,

III. To make some observations on the human nature of Jesus Christ. He is called the seed of the woman- the seed of Abraham — the seed of David, according to the flesh. That he possessed a real human body, you none of you have any doubt. Some, however, have supposed that he did not possess a human soul. They have asserted that his divine spirit was to his body in the stead of a human soul. This is inconsistent with such texts as these: “ When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days.”

“ He hath suffered, being tempted.” “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." " Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” (Isaiah liii. 10; Heb. ii. 18; Matt. xxvi. 38; Luke xxiii. 46.) The divine Spirit could not be made an offering for sin; he could not suffer from the temptations of the devil; he could not be sorrowful, for he is immutably happy; nor could our Lord commend the divine Spirit into the hands of the Father, for such an act would be an unsuitable expression of dependence. But understand the text as referring to his human soul, and all is plain and clear.

As he partook of human nature, he was not exempt from its common infirmities, such as cold, heat, hun

D D

of our

ger, thirst, weariness, weakness, pain and death; but he was free from our personal infirmities- he was not born lame, blind, diseased, deformed, etc.; he was fairer than the sons of men.

It is very probable that the human soul of Christ existed prior to the incarnation, though the scriptures are not express upon the subject. The sentiment, I think, may be justly inferred from the following, and such like passages of sacred writ: “ And now, 0 Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” For ye know the grace

Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became

poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." (John xvii. 5; 2 Cor. viii. 9.) He speaks of a glory which he had previous to the creation of the world: of this glory he was deprived by the incarnation; and he prayed to be restored to it again. The glory of the divine nature cannot change by circumstances; nor can the glory of Christ, as God, depend upon the will of the Father; it is more proper, therefore, to refer this glory to his human soul, and then all difficulties vanish. So of the other passage,-he was rich-he became poor-this indicates change; but the divine nature is immutable.

The human soul, however, might be rich in the possession of the glory of heaven, previous to its union with flesh and blood, and by that union become poor. This seems to be the most natural interpretation.*

If the pre-existence of the soul of Christ be admitted, it will assist us in the interpretation of some passages in the Old Testament. We sometimes read of an angel, or angels, appearing to the saints in ancient times. When only one appeared, he was usually stiled Jehovah; and when two, or more appeared, that divine title was usually given to one exclusively. Read at your leisure, Judges vi. and Genesis xviii. It appears

* Such was the notion of Dr. Watts, in his latter days, and next to the orthodox interpretation of the passage, the most natural; but surely not so natural as that.--EDIT.

very strange that the incommunicable name of Jehovah should be given to an angel, and particularly that this honour should be paid exclusively to one, when several were present. You will see the strictest propriety in this, however, if you suppose that the soul of Christ was created before the foundation of the world, that it was united to his divine nature as soon as created, and that it assumed some material vehicle for the purpose of communicating with mortals on important occasions; for upon this supposition, the glorious person addressed was indeed the Jehovah. I have not time to pursue this subject farther.

Many people have very incorrect notions about the union of the two natures in Christ. In some unions the two original natures are lost, and a third is produced by the compound. Thus, some suppose that when the two natures were united in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, he was neither perfect God nor perfect man, but a sort of middle being, betwixt both. This is a great error.

Each nature was preserved distinct and entire, notwithstanding the union.

It is difficult to explain such subjects, so as to make them clear to common capacities. The following will serve as a sufficient, though it is not a perfect illustration. It is the best I can think of. Suppose an apple tree divided above the trunk into two large branches; cut off one of these arms, and graft into the stock a scion of another species of apple. The two original natures are preserved, and this one tree will produce two different sorts of fruit.

If we examine the life of Christ, we shall find some things which are proper only to the human nature, and others which could not be done by any but a divine Being. Thus as man he was tempted, and suffered being tempted; but as God the devils were subject to him, and even bore testimony to his divinity. As man, he was asleep in the ship, and was awoke by his disciples; but as God, the winds and seas were obedient to his word, and a calmı ensued. As man, he cried upon the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou

« PreviousContinue »