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I shall now close the subject with a few serious remarks.
1. To deny the divinity of Christ, is virtually to impeach his moral character. He knew that there was a great variety of opinions entertained of him. Many inquired at his own mouth what manner of person he was. In several instances he was pleased to answer them in terms sufficiently plain and unequivocal. And though they objected against his answers as extremely impious, yet he never contradicted or softened them. In this manner he treated the grand question concerning his divinity, for several years. At last the subject became more serious. The Jews conspired against him, and arraigned him before their highest ecclesiastical court, where they accused him of blasphemy, for making himself God. The high priest, in order to come at the truth of the case, laid him under the solemnity of an oath, and commanded him to say in sincerity whether he had ever professed to be a divine person. In that peculiar situation, while the oath of God was upon him, and death itself before him, he confirmed and repeated his preten. sions to divinity, and appealed to the day of judgment to sanction his declarations. There is now no need of farther evidence that he solemnly professed to be a divine person; and therefore we cannot call his divinity in question, without joining with the Jews and impeaching his moral character. His declarations are recorded, and carry the same authority now that they did when they were uttered, and when they confounded his opposers. It will not save the appearance of modesty to plead that we do not mean to contradict, but only to explain his expressions. It is now too late to explain Christ's words upon this subject; because he has, in the most plain and solemn manner, explained them himself. Hence there is only this alternative before us, either to believe his divinity, or to deny his veracity. But to deny his veracity upon this subject, is to blast his whole moral character, and to represent him in as odious a light as ever the Jews did, when they called him a blasphemer, and said he was mad and had a devil. To impeach the moral character of Christ is extremely criminal. For it is not only blaspheming his name, but denying his religion. To say that Christ was a blasphemer, is to say that Christianity is a falsehood. If there was no truth in Christ, there is no truth in his religion. Hence it seriously concerns those who deny the divinity of Christ, impeach his character, and subvert his gospel, to prepare to meet him when he shall come in the clouds of heaven, and settle the solemn dispute between them.
2. To deny the divinity of Christ, is virtually to set up human reason against divine revelation. The Bible so plainly represents Christ to be a divine person, that none would hesitate to believe his divinity, if they could only comprehend the mystery of his being God and man in two natures, and yet but one person. This was the stumbling block to the Jews.
They could not comprehend how Christ, being a man, could · make hirnself God; or how he could say, when he was not fifty years old, “before Abraham was, I am.” And this is the stumbling block to those who now deny the divinity of Christ. The mystery contained in this doctrine leads them to explain away the plainest passages of scripture in favor of it, and to bend all their force to prove that the personal union between the two natures of Christ is a plain and palpable absurdity. A late writer, when he is reminded that the apostles maintained the doctrine of Christ's divinity, scruples not to say, “ As it is not pretended that there are any miracles adapted to prove that Christ made and supports the world, I do not see that we are under any obligation to believe it, merely because it was an opinion held by an apostle.” He adds, “ It is not, certainly, from a few casual expressions, which so easily admit of other interpretations, and especially in epistolary writings, that we can be authorized that such was the serious opinion of the apostles. But if it had been their real opinion, it would not follow that it was true, unless the teaching of it should appear to be included in their general commission, with which, as I have shown, it has no sort of connection."
But is it safe for men to lean to their own understanding, in opposition to the plainest declarations of scripture? Let experience speak. Some have made the trial upon this important subject; but greatly to their own disadvantage. For their attempt to avoid the seeming inconsistency of Christ's divinity, has driven them into a number of most plain and palpable absurdities. By denying him to be God as well as man, they have been obliged to ascribe such things to his humanity, as properly and necessarily belong to his divinity. This will clearly appear in a variety of instances. · The scripture represents Christ as existing from eternity. But this they are obliged partly to acknowledge and partly to deny; and so maintain that he neither existed from eternity nor yet had a beginning of existence; which is a plain absurdity. The scripture represents Christ as creating the world, which belongs to him as God. But this they are obliged to ascribe to him as man; which is a plain absurdity. The scripture represents Christ as governing the world, which belongs to him as God. But this they are obliged to ascribe to him as man; which is a plain absurdity. The scripture represents Christ as having power to raise the dead at the general resurrection, which belongs to him as God. But this they are obliged to
ascribe to him as man; which is a plain absurdity. The scripture represents Christ as being able to judge the secrets of all hearts at the last day, which belongs to him as God. But this they are obliged to ascribe to him as man; which is a plain absurdity. All these absurdities necessarily result from denying the divinity of Christ, and applying those things to him as man, which belong to him as God.
If it should be allowed, for once, that the doctrine of Christ's divinity is really absurd, yet it is by no means so plain and palpable an absurdity, as these which have been mentioned. For it is much easier to conceive that humanity and divinity should be personally united in Christ, than to conceive that a mere dependent nature should never begin to exist; or that such a dependent nature should be able to create the world, to govern the world, to judge the world, and to raise the dead. We can clearly see that a being inferior to the Deity cannot perform such divine works; but we cannot clearly see that humanity and divinity could not be personally united in the great Emmanuel. As soon as men set up their own reason against divine revelation, they break over a sacred enclosure, and take the liberty to reason themselves into one absurdity after another, until they insensibly fall into the gulf of skepticism. 6 Those who will believe nothing, the manner and causes of wbich they cannot comprehend, must be in the way to believe nothing at all."
To avoid this dangerous error, let us be content to give God his place, and to take our own. Let us be willing to allow that " the weakness of God is stronger than men; and the foolishness of God is wiser than men." - It is natural to remark in the last place,
3. That the establishment of Christ's divinity establishes the beauty and consistency of his whole character and conduct. It is this which demonstrates the rectitude of his moral character; and so renders him worthy of the respect and imitation of the Socinians themselves. It is this which gives value to his death, and so renders him a complete and all sufficient Saviour. It is this which reconciles all the great things ascribed to him by the prophets and the apostles. It is this which renders him worthy of the humble homage and praises of all the hosts of heaven. It is this which establishes the truth and importance of the gospel. It is this which ratifies the truth of those great and precious promises that remain to be fulfilled, and assures us that religion shall have a long and universal reign. It is this which affords permanent light and consolation to all good men, while passing through the dark and dreary journey of life. In a word, it is the Divinity of Christ which spreads a lustre over the face of the world, and calls upon Zion to rejoice that her God reigneth.
: THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST.
AND Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
LUKE, ii. 52.
· These words are intimately connected with the whole of the preceding chapter, which contains a large and particular account of the time, place, and circumstances of Christ's birth; of the proclamation by the angels of the great and joyful event; of the peculiar ceremonies of his dedication to God; of his early attendance on the Passover; and of his uncommon growth in wisdom and stature, as well as in favor with God and man. The text, taken in connection with all these things, naturally leads us to conclude,
That Jesus Christ was really man.
It is certain, however, that the humanity, as well as divinity of Christ, has been called in question. This was one of the first heresies that sprang up in the christian church. A sect called the Docetæ denied that Christ had a true body and reasonable soul, or that he literally hungered, thirsted, suffered and died. To this heresy, it is supposed the apostle John alludes in his first epistle, where he says, “ Hereby know ye the spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God. And this is that spirit of anti-christ, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now is already in the world." Though few, if any at this day, deny that Christ had a human body, yet some noted divines deny that he had a human soul, which is virtually denying his proper and essential humanity. It is, therefore, a point worthy of serious consideration, whether Jesus of Nazareth, who appeared in the character of Mediator, and died without the gates of Jerusalem, was really man. If we search the New Testament, we shall find that the inspired writers have said a great many things which clearly prove the real humanity of Christ. He is there called man, and the Son of man, more than forty times by himself and others. He appeared in fashion as a man, and was taken to be such, by all who beheld him and conversed with him. Though some thought he was John the Baptist risen from the dead, others that he was Elias, others that he was Jeremias or one of the prophets, yet none doubted whether he was really man, and one of the de. scendants of Adam. Accordingly Josephus, and all profane historians who have mentioned Jesus of Nazareth, have always spoken of him as really man, and generally nothing more than man. This is such evidence of Christ's humanity as might well be considered full and satisfactory. But since I propose to treat this subject distinctly and largely, I shall enter into a more particular consideration of the evidence of Christ's being really man.
Here it may be observed,
I. That he was really man because he had a human body. It was formed and fashioned in his mother's womb by the great Parent of all flesh. So it was, says the inspired writer, that while his mother was at Bethlehem, “the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes.” This representation plainly supposes that Christ's body was truly human, and was derived in the ordinary way from human nature. And this is farther corroborated by the account given of his increase in corporeal stature and magnitude through the several stages of infancy, childhood and youth, to complete manhood, by the same means of nourishment by which other children come to maturity. Christ's body appears to have been in every respect similar to that of other men. It was subject to heat and cold, pleasure and pain, hunger and thirst, strength and weakness, and to every corporeal infirmity which does not arise from human depravity. His having such a human body is a strong presumptive evidence that he had a human soul, which was necessary to constitute him a real man.
II. He was really man, because he had a human soul as well as a human body. This is necessarily implied in what is said of him in the text. He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Here both his wisdom and piety are asserted; and we know that these are properties of the soul, and not of the body. He possessed every