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Christ had walked upon the sea, saved Peter from drowning, and came into the ship, “then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him.” The wonen, who met him alter bis resurrection, as they were returning from the sepulchre, “ came and held him by his feet, and worshipped him.” The eleven disciples conducted themselves in the same manner in Galilee, for “when they saw him, they worshipped him.” And when believing Thomas said unto him, “ My Lord and my God," Jesus approved and commended his faith and worship. In such various ways, and by such various forms of speech, our Saviour made himself God. And to give his expressions their full force, it may be proper to observe,
In the first place, that they convinced the Jews that he meant to assert his divinity. When he inquired why they went about to stone him, they replied, “ For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy, and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” The Jews, who knew their own language, would never have charged Christ with blasphemy, unless he had used expressions concerning himself which properly conveyed the idea of divinity. But when they heard him say that he was the Son of God; ihat God was his Father; that he and his Father were one; that he did the works of his Father; that he had power to raise the dead; that he had authority to forgive sins ; and that it was the will of God, that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father; it was extremely natural for them to believe that he meant to make himself God as well as man. And this leads me to observe,
In the second place, that Christ never contradicted his professions of divinity, nor explained them in any sense different from that in which they were understood. Though he was blamed, and even charged with blasphemy, for making himself God; yet he never denied that he was a divine person, nor that he had professed to be so. But if he had not been a divine person, and had never intended to convey this idea of himself, then it was highly incumbent upon him to explain his meaning, and undeceive those whom he had deceived by his unusual and improper expressions. And this we presume he would have done, had he been a mere man of common honesty. Honest men have always been very careful not to claim, nor even to receive, divine honors. When Pharaoh told Joseph, “ I have heard say of thee that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it; Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me, God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” When Nebuchad. nezzar asked Daniel whether he could interpret his dream, Daniel replied, “ As for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living.” When Cornelius met Peter, “ and fell down at his feet and worshipped him ; Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.” When the Lycaonians were about to offer sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas, the apostles rectified the mistake, and rejected their impious honors. And when the apostle John was about to worship an angel, the angel rebuked him, " saying, see thou do it not: worship God." Now if Christ were not a divine person, and yet knew that he was taken to be divine by those who conversed with him, and that too in consequence of his own expressions, how could he consistently, with a proper regard to them, to himself and to his Maker, neglect to rectify their great and dangerous mistake? To have neglected this, would have proved him to be not only destitute of the virtue of the prophets and apostles, but to possess the vanity of Herod, who was struck by the hand of Heaven for receiving that honor which was due to God only. Since, therefore, Christ never contradicted his professions of divinity, nor attempted to explain them differently from what they were understood to mean, we are constrained to conclude that he was, in truth, what his expressions naturally implied and conveyed, a divine person. Especially, if we consider once more,
That he justified himself in professing to be a divine person, and persisted in that profession in the full view of death. When the Jews charged him with blasphemy for making himself God, he boldly justified his conduct. “ 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 ? If 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." Indeed, he was so willing to justify his pretensions to divinity, that he once proposed the question himself, on purpose to confound and silence the Pharisees upon this subject.While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is he? They say 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; neither durst any man from that day forth, ask him any more questions." Nor did he barely justify his claim to divinity, but even persisted in the claim, when he knew it would cost him his life. After he was apprehended and brought before the high priest, the capital charge laid against him was his professing to be a divine person. It is true, they accused him before Pilate, of professing to be a King. But before the high priest and ecclesiastical court, they charged him with no other crime than that of blasphemy, in making himself God. Accordingly, “ the high priest said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said. Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what farther need have we of witnesses ? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy, what think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.” Thus Christ professed to be a divine person while he lived; and when he died, he sealed his testimony with his own blood. It is as certain, therefore, that he possessed divinity, as that he possessed the least degree of truth, or moral sincerity.
It only remains to consider,
III. Upon what grounds Christ asserted both his humanity and divinity.
And here, in the first place, let us inquire upon what foundation he asserted his humanity. Was it simply because he was born of a woman, and had a body of human shape and size ? This is what some suppose. But is this supposition credible? Does a mere human body, born of a woman, though destitute of a human soul, constitute a human person? Adam was a man, though he never was born. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are men, though their bodies have been long since separated from their souls. It is not to be supposed, therefore, that Christ would assert his humanity upon the mere ground of his being born of a woman, and having only a human body. A human soul without a human body might have constituted him a man. But a human body without a human soul could not have given him the essence of humanity. This leads us to conclude that he asserted his humanity upon the just foundation of having “ a true body and a reasonable soul,” united in the same manner as the soul and body are united in other men. And if he had a human soul united with a human body, then he may be as properly denominated a man, as any of his progenitors, whose names are mentioned in the first chapter of Matthew.
Let us next consider the ground upon which he asserted his divinity.
He could not pretend to be a divine person upon Socinian ground, which is that of .divine inspiration. A divine person has no occasion of being divinely inspired. This the Socinians allow, and therefore do not consider Christ as a divine person because he had the gift of inspiration, but place him upon a level with other inspired men.
Nor could he assert his divinity upon Arian ground; which
is, that he possessed all divine excellences except self existence and independence. For, however great the powers and capacities of a dependent being may be, yet he cannot possess a single attribute which may be properly called divine. The Arians run into a plain absurdity, which the Socinians avoid. The Socinians deny that any being is divine, who is destitute of self existence and independence; but the Arians maintain that a being may be divine who wants both these incommunicable attributes of the Deity. They plead that Christ possessed divine power, wisdom and goodness, though he was absolutely dependent, and derived his being and all his powers from the supreme God and Father of all. But it is totally inconceivable that a derived, dependent nature, should really possess any of those divine perfections which essentially belong to an underived, independent, self existent Being. No communications from God to Christ could make him a divine person. Nor could any intercourse with the Deity, however near and intimate, make him a Deity. So that no excellences and per. fections of his nature, short of self existence and independence, could justify him in asserting his divinity.
Nor could he pretend to be a divine person upon Unitarian ground; which is, that he was only a super-angelic Nature united with a human body, and sent by the one only true God to perform the work of redemption. Upon this hypothesis, he could assert neither his humanity nor divinity; for he was neither a man, nor an angel, nor a Deity; but a being sui generis - of a peculiar kind. Accordingly, the Unitarians do not pretend that he was a Deity, or possessed of any truly divine attributes. And we cannot suppose that he would assert his divinity upon a ground which was not just, and which the Unitarians themselves suppose was not sufficient to support such an assertion.
There remains no other ground, therefore, upon which he could assert his divinity, but that of his being God and man, in two distinct natures and one person. A personal union between his divine and human nature would properly constitute him a divine person. And it appears from his own expressions, that he did assert his divinity upon this ground. He says, “ No man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven." Here he represents his one individual person as being both in heaven and on earth, at one and the same time. And upon the supposition of his human and divine natures being personally united, he might properly say this; but upon no other supposition. A prophet could not say this, in his nearest approaches to God. Paul could not say this, when he was caught up to the third heaven. An angel could not say this, either in heaven or on earth. Nor could Christ say this, unless his human nature were personally united with the divine. Any other union, however near and intimate, could not justify him, who was a man, in making himself God.
But here it may be inquired what is meant by Christ's human nature's being personally united with his divine nature. It is easy to say what is not meant by it. It does not mean that his human nature was made divine nature. Omnipotence could not transform his humanity into divinity, because that would be the same as to produce divinity, or create a Creator. But supposing his human nature could have been made divine nature; yet that would have prevented his being God and man in two natures and but one person, which is what he professed to be.
Nor, on the other hand, does his human nature's being personally united with his divine nature, mean that his divine nature was made human nature. For there was the same impossibility of degrading his divinity into humanity, as of exalting his humanity into divinity. And could this have been done, it would have equally prevented his being what he professed to be, God and man in one person.
Nor does his human nature's being personally united with his divine nature, mean that his two natures were mixed or blended together. For it evidently appears from scripture that he personally possessed every divine perfection and every human quality, except sin. He discovered, in the course of his life, human ignorance and divine knowledge; human wants and divine fulness; human weakness and divine power; human dependence and divine independence.
But, if the personal union of the two natures in Christ does not mean, that his humanity became divinity nor his divinity became humanity, nor that these were mixed or blended together, then the question still recurs, what is meant by Christ's being one person in two natures? I answer, the man Jesus, who had a true body and a reasonable soul, was united with the second person in the Trinity, in such a manner as laid a foundation for him to say with propriety that he was man, that he was God, and that he was both God and man; and as laid a foundation also to ascribe what he did as God and suffered as man, to one and the self same person. If any should here ask, how could bis two natures be thus personally united? We can only say, it is a mystery. And there is no avoiding a mystery with respect to Christ. His conception was a mystery. And if we admit the mystery of his conception, why should we hesitate to admit the mystery of the personal union between his two natures? If we only admit this, all Christ said concerning himself is easy and intelligible. Being a man, he might with propriety make himself God.