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compass of this proposition, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God: from which one aphorism spring all the other branches of Christianity. For that, which properly discriminates the Christian religion from the natural, or Judaical, is the holding of Christ's deity, and his satisfaction naturally consequent upon it: to both which together are reducible all the parts of the gospel, as appendages to, or conclusions naturally flowing from them.
But it is not here to be denied, that Christ is capable of being called the Son of God in several respects; as that, according to his human nature, he had no natural father, but was produced in the womb of his mother by the immediate power of God; as also for his resemblance to God, upon the accounts of his transcendent holiness : it being proper to call him the Son of God who does the works of God; (as Christ called the Jews the sons of the Devil, for doing the works of the Devil, John iii. 44, Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do:) all great likeness, in the scripture dialect, founding the denomination of sonship. Christ might be also called the Son of God, from his having the government of all things put into his hands upon his ascension. All this must be granted : yet here we are to consider only the principal and grand cause of his being called so; which is from the eternal generation and emanation of his person from the person of the Father; that is, we are to consider him to be the Son of God upon such an account, as may also infer and prove him to be God himself.
Now this supereminent way of sonship being the foundation of his deity, as that is the foundation of our religion, ought in reason to be evinced by some
great and evidently conclusive argument; and such an one we affirm to have been his resurrection.
But you will here naturally reply, How can this be a proper proof of that? How can his resurrection, which supposes him to have been dead, prove him to be such an one as existed from all eternity, and so could not die? Is the grave a medium to demonstrate a person incorruptible? or death, to enforce that he is immortal? I answer, that this argumentation is so far very right; and that the resurrection, considered only in a bare relation to the person rising from the dead, proves him only to be a wonderful man; but is so far from proving him the eternal Son of God, that it rather proves the contrary. But then, if we consider it with relation to the doctrine of that person affirming himself to be thus the Son of God, and as the seal set to the truth of that doctrine by an omnipotent hand and an unfailing veracity; why, thus it is an infallible argument to prove the real being of all those things that were asserted by that person. Christ's resurrection therefore proved him to be the eternal Son of God consequentially; that is, as it was an irrefragable confirmation of the truth of that doctrine which had declared him to
It iš much disputed, whether Christ's resurrection is to be referred to his own power raising himself from the dead, or only to the power of the Father. Those who deny his eternal divinity allow only this latter, stiffly opposing the former. To give countenance to this their opposition, they seem to make challenge to any one to produce but one place of scripture where Christ is said to have raised himself from the dead, and they will yield the cause. то VOL. VI.
which I answer; though this is no where affirmed in these very terms, representing it in præterito, as done ; yet if Christ spoke the same thing in words importing the future, the result is undoubtedly the
And for this I desire to know what they will answer to that place, John ii. 19, where Christ, speaking of his body, says, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up? Does not Christ personally appropriate the action to himself and to his own power? Wherefore that exception is a vapour and a cavil, unbecoming a rational opponent.
But I add, that as to the proof of the divinity of Christ's person, it is not material whether his resurrection be stated upon his own power, or the power of his Father; for both equally prove the same thing, though in a different manner.
If Christ raised himself, it directly proves that he was God, and so had a divine nature, besides his human; for if he raised that, being dead, it must needs follow, that he did it by virtue of a power inherent in another nature, which was some divine spirit.
But, on the other hand, if the Father raised him, yet still it proves him to have been God; forasmuch as he always avouched himself to be so; and the Father would not have exerted an infinite power to have confirmed a lie, or verified the words of an impostor.
Having thus shewn how Christ's resurrection could be a proper argument to prove his divinity and eternal sonship, I come now in the next place to shew, that it is the greatest and the principal of all others.
And for this we may observe, that the arguments for the proof of the truth of Christ's doctrine, of
which the sum is, that he himself is the Son of God, are generally reducible to these three :
1st, The nature of the things taught by him. 2dly, The fulfilling of prophecies in his person.
3dly, The miracles and wonderful works which he did in the time of his life.
Now to prove that his resurrection was an argument surpassing all these, I shall premise this one consideration; that whatsoever is brought as an argument to prove a thing demonstratively, ought to be in itself not only true, but evident and clear. Forasmuch as to prove a thing is properly to make it evident; but nothing can make another thing evident which is not so itself; nay, more evident than the thing to be proved by it. This being premised, , let us take a brief examination of each.
1st, And first for the nature of the things which he taught. If you take a view of those which relate to practice; as, that we are to take no thought for the morrow, to take up our cross daily, and to renounce all the enjoyments of those things which were made only to be enjoyed; not to resist evil, nor to defend ourselves, but being smote upon one cheek to turn the other; and when the oppressor has robbed me of my coat, to gratify him with my cloke also; which is in effect to relinquish the grand rights of nature, and the eternal principle of selfpreservation, writ in the hearts of all men with the pen of an adamant : furthermore, that for every petty anger we are responsible to the degree of murder; and that for every idle word we are liable to eternal damnation ; that is, to a perpetuity of torments, not only unsupportable, but unconceivable; with several other such articles of the same nature.
Now I say, what strange, unusual, and grating documents are these to the nature and universal apprehensions of man’s reason? How does this, as it were, start and fly back at the direful appearance of these severities, as much fitter to terrify than to persuade, to confound than to conquer the affections; and therefore, if these have any influence upon man's belief, (as undoubtedly they have a very great one,) we may be sure that such aphorisms shall never find any credit for their own sake, nor can it be expected that they should.
But then again ; if we cast our eye upon what things Christ taught relating to belief; as, that the divine nature being most simply and indivisibly one, there are yet three persons in it, every one of which is truly and properly God. Also, that the same person should be God and man; and that person, in his human nature, should be born of a virgin; that he should die, and make satisfaction for the sins of the world; and that there should be a resurrection of all mankind with the same bodies, though consumed many thousand years since, and by infinite changes transformed into other things; and all this to a state of happiness or misery, of which there shall be
Now how much stranger are these than the former? How do they look more like riddles than instructions ? designed rather to astonish than to inform the man's understanding.
A great part of the world reject them all, as absolute paradoxes, and contrary to reason, and we ourselves confess them to be above reason; so that from our confession it will follow, that they are not to be believed for themselves.